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5 Fun Games to Play with Your 1-Year-Old

By: Melanie Edwards

Babies love to play! Luckily, playing with a 1-year-old toddler is easy and fun! Here are 5 fun ideas for games and toys you can play with your 1-year-old.

Stacking Blocks

There’s just something about stacking blocks, or really anything that will stack, that entertains baby boy. It’s probably the fact that after he’s done building his tower, he enjoys knocking it down! His big sister has fun playing this game with him – she gets a kick out of building up towers for him to then knock down. Lots of times, though, baby boy keeps himself busy for a good twenty minutes or so simply stacking his own blocks.

Puzzles

Though only eighteen months old, baby boy is already a puzzle master! He loves taking them apart and putting them back together over and over again. I love watching him try to figure out how to put the pieces back together and seeing him progress over the weeks. He now has a couple of puzzles he puts together without issue!

Where’s the Baby?

My baby boy adores playing this game! It absolutely cracks him up every time we play; we’re guaranteed to get a hearty big-belly-shaking laugh from him. Each time we play, we mix it up a bit. Sometimes we have a traditional peek-a-boo session, other times we alternate saying "Where’s the baby?" and "There he is!" Regardless, any variation of this game will instantly cause baby boy to burst out in laughter.

Lift-the-Flap Books

Books are always interesting and fun to look through! Board books are especially great, since I don’t have to worry about baby boy ripping up the pages. Lift-the-flap books are super fun because he gets to continuously open the flap, peek inside, close it, and repeat the process. He loves this peek-a-boo-themed book, Who is It? with fun Disney characters!

Dancing

Music is a huge part of a baby’s life, isn’t it? From birth, or even from the womb, babies hear music as parents sing to them or play soft lullabies. It’s no surprise then that music will almost always make a baby dance! My baby boy is definitely a dancing machine and will find the rhythm in almost anything – even the shopping cart wheels as we stroll through a store! Because of that, dancing is one of our favorite ways to play. We simply put on some music and have our own living room dance party.

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5 tips for planning a family vacation

So you’ve set aside the time for a family vacay—now what? Traveling with a baby, toddlers or older kids definitely requires planning ahead, regardless of whether you’re taking a road trip or hopping on a plane.

But before you commit to a specific destination, it might be helpful to explore what’s trending with families now.  

“Families today want experiences,” says Suzette Mack an independent travel advisor and family travel specialist with Brownell Travel in San Jose, California. “They’re not searching for accommodations that offer drop-off programs for kids. What they are looking for is adventure travel and unique activities that they can enjoy together with their children.”

Ready to plan a successful family trip that will create memories that last a lifetime? Your family adventure doesn’t have to include luxury accommodations or an international destination to be memorable. There are plenty of adventures waiting to be had in national parks and other fun stateside locales.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you start planning your next family vacation.

Forget following the crowd

While it can be tempting to choose a destination or resort based solely on reviews or personal recommendations, this isn’t always a winning strategy. Before deciding on your final destination, take a little time to reflect on what your family likes to do and the kinds of activities make them happy. Certain destinations may look great online, but if the locale doesn’t mesh with what your family enjoys, then it may not be worth the effort or expense.

Pace yourself

Overscheduling is probably the most common family vacation mistake. Trying to see and do too much can backfire and leave everyone feeling rushed and exhausted. “Kids need a lot more down time on a vacation than parents do, so family trips should be paced accordingly,” advises Mack. Make it a priority to leave a few afternoons open for free play. Keeping a balance between down time and active sightseeing will help keep all the kids in your clan happy.

Splurge on a sensible luxury

Easy peasy is definitely nice when it comes to traveling with kids. If you have the budget, spring for an extra that will help make the journey easier for you and your family. For example, hire a tour guide when you arrive in a new city to help you get acclimated to your destination. If your plans include international travel, splurge on a private transfer so that you have the comfort of knowing that you have someone meeting you at the airport who knows how to get you (and your tired family) to the hotel without any unexpected surprises.

Consider a cruise

If you’re on a budget, and a cruise fits your family’s definition of fun, then you should know that there are definitely deals to be had on these kinds of vacations.  “I have had clients get screaming-good deals on cruises only a week or two before departure,” says Mack. “This is because they were flexible and didn’t care what ship they were on or which cabin they got.” Keep in mind that connecting cabins and other prime spots tend to sell out early.

Prep for travel with baby

Taking off on a vacation with your little one can definitely be done, you just have to plan ahead and manage the logistics. Your best bet is to have a home base and stay in the same accommodations for the duration of your trip to minimize stress on both you and baby. Taking things slower than you normally would on an adults-only trip can help too.  If you’re traveling outside of the country, stick to a destination where you know the language. And of course, remember to pack light. 

Image : Getty

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The Benefits of Water Play

Remember how much you used to enjoy playing in the water back when you were a kid—how excited you'd be whenever you got to spend the day at the beach or the pool?

Now that you are a parent, you can share the magic of water play with your child. And not only will your child be having fun: he’ll be learning and growing at the same time.

Four ways water play encourages healthy development

Sure, kids and water make for a guaranteed good time, but water play is not just fun and games. Here are four powerful and far-reaching ways that water play can help promote your child’s healthy development.

1. Water play encourages physical development

Water play is the ultimate full-body workout. “Water provides resistance, which helps to build strength,” explains Claire Lerner, Senior Parenting Advisor with ZERO TO THREE. And, she notes, the benefits of water play multiply when your child is wading or swimming because being immersed in water means that he’ll have to work on all-important balance and coordination skills, too.

2. Water play encourages kids to get social—and in a way that helps to minimize conflict

Kids don’t have to fight over water because there’s enough water to go around. Consequently, water play “can require less intensive sharing than if you’re sitting on the floor with a bunch of trains and everybody wants the caboose,” explains Lerner. And, what’s more, the soothing properties of water can help kids to regulate their emotions and behavior, meaning that conflicts are even less likely to erupt.

3. Water play encourages discovery

It’s no wonder your budding scientist is fascinated with water. There are so many scientific principles to discover—everything from watching how water reacts when you swoosh it around to trying to predict what will sink or float (a sponge versus a boat). And, as an added bonus, it's budget-friendly discovery play. You don’t need a rush out to buy a whole bunch of new toys. Simply use what you already own, including ordinary household items like plastic measuring cups.

4. Water play encourages creativity and imagination

Think about what happens whenever you have a group of kids romping around in the water: how imagination tends to take over. “You see kids making up games about who’s the shark and who’s the dolphin,” says Lerner. This kind of role-playing gives kids the opportunity to work on a broad range of skills. It encourages storytelling and promotes language skills and perspective-taking abilities (the ability to see things from another person’s point of view).

As you can see, the benefits of water play are pretty far-reaching. “Water play nurtures all areas of development,” says Lerner. “That’s the beauty of it. It’s not one-dimensional.”

Getting started

Ready to make a splash?

Here’s how to get started with water play.

  • Look for quick and easy ways to incorporate water play into your family’s regular routine (think bathtub or kitchen sink).
  • Round out those home-based water play experiences by seeking out water play activities in your community (at the local rec center) and beyond (by choosing a hotel with a pool the next time you’re traveling as a family, for example).

Don’t forget to tote along some Huggies® Little Swimmers® Disposable Swimpants, as many pools require them if your child isn't yet potty-trained. Be sure to always remember to pay extra close attention to safety when your child is playing in or around water, stay within arms reach and eliminate distractions like smartphones. 

Image : Getty

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5 Fun Family Winter Activities

When the air gets colder and the days get shorter keeping your little one entertained can become more of a challenge.  But, there are plenty of fun indoor and outdoor activities that can help you beat the boredom blues and keep your child active and busy through the winter months.

Head to a local museum or aquarium

If you have a local children’s museum with hands-on exhibits, you can usually purchase a family membership so you can have access to exclusive members hours and scheduled events and shows.  An aquarium will provide hours of entertainment while your child watches the marine life swim by and have plenty of room to run around inside.

Sign up for Swim Classes

Winter is the perfect time to sign up for some mommy and me swimming classes at an indoor pool at a local club or gym.  Taking classes through the winter months will give your child confidence and skills they can continue to develop once the weather turns warmer, and has the added benefit of giving you and your child some active bonding time in the water. Don’t forget Huggies® Little Swimmers® Disposable Swimpants, which most pools require for children who aren’t potty trained.

Indoor Waterpark Adventure

You don’t need beach weather to hit the water. Check your local area listings for nearby indoor waterparks with dedicated areas just for kids under 5. These parks provide a great opportunity for lasting memories, and the chance to enjoy some water-based fun despite the dreary weather. 

Storytime at the Library

Many local libraries have a dedicated children’s section with read-aloud times programmed especially for toddlers. Story time is a great opportunity to have an indoor play date and expose your child to some wonderful picture books, all in a warm and toasty library. As a bonus, your library is always free!

Create an Art Space

Having bins of toddler-friendly art supplies will allow you to provide instant indoor creative activities for your child and any friends who come over on a cold winter day. Washable markers, finger paints, stickers, easy to grip stamps and ink, large pads of craft paper, and Play-Doh can provide hours of fun for your child. Set up a child-sized table and chairs in a corner so your little one can easily access their supplies. Keep it simple and organized so your child can help clean up when they’re done with their masterpieces.

Winter months don’t have to mean boredom and cabin fever. Plan outings that make for interesting and amusing experiences for you and your family, and be sure to take advantage of activities tailored to your child’s age. A little preparation can help you beat the winter blues and have fun all year round. 

Image : Getty

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Brain Power Playrooms

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How to Take Great Pics of Baby’s Movement Milestones

Your baby will experience so many amazing movement milestones during her first year. There’s a lot of action that takes place in between the first time she rolls over to the day she starts walking on her own! And capturing those precise moments in pictures can sometimes be challenging.

“The more active your baby is, the more patient you have to be to capture those movement milestones,” says Lisa Turner a professional children’s and baby photographer in Denver, Colorado. “It might take 50 to 100 shots to get one picture that is fantastic.”

The good news is that you don’t need to invest in a super-expensive camera, whatever you’re willing to use on a regular basis will do. Here are the tips you need to take amazing pictures of your baby’s precious movement milestones.

Focus on light.

Proper lighting is essential.This is especially true when using a smartphone. You can’t manually adjust the shutter speed on a smartphone camera, but those adjustments do happen automatically based on the amount of available light. “A dark setting is going to give you a slow shutter speed, which will make your picture turn out blurry,” says Turner. “Having ample light allows you to capture baby’s action and freeze it.” Natural light is best, so head outdoors with baby or find a room with north-facing windows for consistent, even light.

Move in closer.

If your cutie is walking, you’re going to want to capture more than just a little speck standing solo in the backyard. To really photograph the action, get in close. Try engaging with your little one to capture natural expressions. Enlist an older sibling to serve as your official photographer’s assistant and have her playfully talk to your little one while you snap the fabulous pics.

Use angles to your advantage.

Is your sweet pea rolling over and picking up her head, but not sitting up yet? For best results, put a blanket down and stand over baby so that you can shoot pictures of her from above. If you’ve got a crawler, position her far enough away so that she can crawl toward you and you can take pictures of her in action. Try getting down low for an angle that will allow you to photograph baby’s face as she moves toward you.

Consider your timing.

There are certain times of day that offer ideal lighting conditions for taking great pictures of your little one’s movements. If you can, shoot your pictures first thing in the morning for some of the most pleasing light. Another great option is the last hour before sunset, which professional photographers often refer to as “the golden hour” because of the gorgeous and hazy golden light that is given off by the setting sun. If these two options don't work with baby’s schedule, pick a shady spot outdoors at any time of day.

Finish with an app.

Once all of your fabulous pictures have been taken, you can create a keepsake scrapbook of baby’s movement milestones. Before you print, do a quick search on editing apps so that you can add some finishing touches to your pics. Many apps offer filter options, cropping features, blurring tools, and more that will make your pictures look as if they where shot by a pro.

Image:Getty

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First Valentine’s Day With Baby – A Special Time for Hugs and Kisses

Valentine’s Day has always been special for you and your partner. You may get a bunch of beautiful flowers or a box of chocolate truffles, or go out to an intimate dinner with champagne and candlelight.

But now your two has become three (or more) as baby enters the scene and the holiday takes on a whole different meaning. After all, is there anything that makes you love your partner even more than catching him making goo-goo eyes at your baby and singing a little tune while diaper-changing? Or finding baby snuggled on his chest while they both catch some well-deserved ZZZZs?

You know your expectations about the holiday have shifted if the idea of finding a sitter and trying to zip yourself into a non-maternity dress for a night out is anything but dreamy. Parenthood has changed your whole idea of romantic: finishing an entire meal together without being interrupted by baby’s cries now qualifies. So perhaps it’s time to find some new traditions. After all, Valentine’s Day with a new baby is truly a celebration of love and the best moments are just being together.

Here are some ideas of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day now that you are a new parent:

  • Write an annual Valentine’s Day letter not only to your partner, but to your baby, outlining all the ways you love him/her. What makes you smile? What makes your heart sing? Make a special heart box to store them in to read together each year on February 14th.
  • Put that heart-shaped cookie cutter to work on pancakes, cookies, sandwiches, pizza and more. As soon as baby is old enough, let him or her get in on the action making a delicious mess with frosting, heart-shaped sprinkles and more. Then let the feast begin.
  • Once baby is walking, leave a trail of pink and red cut-out hearts that lead to a Valentine’s Day treat (perhaps a new huggable stuffed animal or heart-shaped pillow) or even to the breakfast table adorned with balloons, heart-shaped pancakes and pink strawberry-flavoured milk.
  • Make a keepsake hug. Dip baby’s chubby little hands in washable paint and stamp on card stock with a little love message. Do this every year for a holiday timeline of baby’s growth.
  • Of course you hug and kiss baby every day, but make it special on Valentine’s Day. Have a morning snuggle hug fest in bed where you shower the family with love. Dress in heart-inspired outfits, eat some sweets and take silly selfies while you engage in a family hug. After all, the first hug they ever feel is from you.

Even though your baby is the new love in your life, don’t overlook your partner. Try to carve out some time today when it’s just the two of you…even if most of your talk is about the amazing new member of the family.

I always encouraged my husband to forgo the store-bought cards and write me some sentimental sweet nothings of his own to let me know what I really mean to him. I believe that something from the heart is always best. So grab a pen and remind your partner why you are together. And be sure to mention how appreciative you are for the wonderful things he or she does for you and baby. Now that’s love!

Image: Getty

 

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Transitional Playroom Design: Ideas That Grow With Your Child

Creating a bedroom or playroom that grows as baby develops can be a life saver for mom and dad. As you plan a living space for your little one, incorporating long-term furniture pieces, timeless decor, and items that encourage development will all help you not only stretch your decorating dollars — but build a space baby will love for many years to come.

Creating the perfect playroom for your baby can seem daunting. Color schemes, furniture, decor — where do you start? We talked to design experts about how to create a long-lasting bedroom or playroom for your child that will withstand the transition from baby to toddler years, and even beyond.

Think ahead

When mapping out your new baby’s living space, consider designs you love. “Design (the room) in a way you will enjoy and that will soothe you,” says Sherri Blum Schuchart of Jack and Jill Interiors Inc. (jackandjillinteriors.com). “In several years, your baby will have an opinion and should definitely have a say in how the room transitions into a room he or she can be proud of, and that reflects his or her individual style.” But right now, your baby only needs a few things: love, safety, food, and comfort. You’ll be spending countless hours feeding and loving the baby in the nursery and playroom, so make sure the design and decor feel right for you.

Designs that grow

“Arrows, Aztec patterns, and woodlands animals, (foxes, squirrels, and raccoons) are today’s hottest trends for boys and girls,” says Blum Schuchart. “These themes, if not too ‘cartoony,’ can transition easily from toddlerhood playroom to teen hangout.”

Transitional elements

  1. Convertible crib
  2. “Consider buying a convertible crib rather than a traditional crib that serves no purpose for the child once they outgrow the crib stage,” suggests Blum Schuchart. “There are dozens of convertible cribs on the market today that transition from crib to toddler bed, and even later into full-size bed. This saves parents from needing to buy a completely new piece of furniture in the future.”

    When shopping for your crib, be sure to first do your research and check for current crib safety standards.

  3. Dresser
  4. Instead of a changing table, consider securing a changing pad to the top of a dresser or in the main opening of a media center. These furniture pieces will long outlive a changing table, and can be used down the road to house toys, clothes, and more.

  5. Shelves and open bookcases
  6. Safely securing shelves and open bookcases in your child’s play space will give you a place to stow toys and baby supplies now — and a spot that later can house your child’s favourite books, stuffed animals, clothes, or knickknacks.

  7. Armchair
  8. Instead of a nursing glider, look for a comfy, padded armchair. A solid, timeless chair silhouette can be reupholstered as your baby grows to fit her developing and evolving style.

Image: Thinkstock

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What to do during your Spring Staycation

Everyone feels like celebrating when the weather starts to warm up. But even though many people may take a holiday vacation at this time, not everyone has the luxury of being able to take off for an extended spring break trip.

So if you’re not going to be jetting away to some exotic locale—no worries! What matters most is quality time with your little ones, family and friends. Here are some fun ideas to help you celebrate springtime a little closer to home.

Swim in the hotel pool.
Even if you’re not traveling, you can still experience the favorite part of every toddler’s vacation—swimming in the pool—without paying for an expensive hotel stay and meals. Many upscale city hotels and country resorts offer reasonably priced day passes that are made for people who just want to use the pool facilities and skip the overnight stay. With just a little research, you could find the perfect spot for a hotel pool getaway near you. Have worry-free water play with Huggies Little Swimmers disposable swim pants​, now with your child’s favorite characters.

Go on a baby animal safari.
Springtime means babies in the animal world. Head to your local zoo, or a farm or nature center, and spend the day exploring to see if you can spot any newborns. Load up a backpack with safari gear such as binoculars, a magnifying glass and a mini notebook and colored pencils for drawing. Point out interesting animal behaviors to your little one and compare and contrast the care the baby animals receive to how you took care of your child when he was a baby.

Get your hands dirty.
If weather allows, get in the dirt outside and plant something. Playing with dirt and mud is a great hands-on sensory activity for toddlers. You can also do this activity indoors by planting seeds in pots and talking about how plants grow. By checking the pots every day, you and your toddler can watch the entire life cycle of a plant unfold, by watching the seed develop into a seedling and eventually an adult plant.

Host a “springathon” playdate.
Reach out to other moms and parents and invite them and their little ones to an extended playdate. After playing outdoors, serve up a simple spring-themed lunch by using flower shaped cookie cutters to make a variety of sandwiches, then serve up a salad of spring greens and help the kids make their own flower pot dessert. Wrap things up with a story time activity, featuring spring-themed books read by the parents in the group.

Make a bird feeder.
Early spring is actually a great time to feed the birds in your neighborhood because there aren’t many natural seed sources available for them at this time. And don’t worry, making your bird feeder doesn’t have to involve using a hammer, nails and wood. There are lots of toddler-friendly ideas available online that require little more than birdseed, twine and peanut butter or vegetable shortening.  You can use empty toilet paper rolls, pinecones and even hollowed out orange rinds to create your birdfeeder and have lots of springtime fun. 


Image : Getty

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Add Swim Diapers to Your Summer Diaper Bag Essentials

With summertime in full swing, chances are there’s plenty of sunshine and water play in your family’s plans. Whether your baby or toddler is in a pool, the ocean, or a lake, a swim diaper is a water play essential. Keep your little one’s bottom covered and comfortable while making sure the inevitable messes stay contained.

Why use swim diapers? Unlike regular diapers, swim diapers are made specifically for use in the water. They don’t absorb liquid like everyday diapers so they won’t swell up in the pool, and that also means they won’t contain urine. What they do do (no pun intended) is help prevent the spread of fecal contamination and E. coli by keeping the inevitable poopy diaper contained. By helping to prevent the infection-causing bacteria from spreading in the pool, everyone stays healthier.

Disposable swim diapers come in various sizes and pull up easily, making it a cinch to slip them on right before your little one goes into the water. But since they don’t absorb urine don’t switch them out for regular diapers until your child is ready to go in the water. They should be changed as soon as they are soiled, preferably away from the pool area in a bathroom or designated changing area. Disposable swim diapers should be thrown away after every incident, and a new one put on baby before their next water activity. If you’re at a beach or lake, you can put soiled diapers into an empty baggie until you have access to a garbage can. Swim diapers come in cute styles and patterns, but you can easily put on a bathing suit bottom right over them.

You should check your baby’s diaper every 30 to 60 minutes. Keeping the pool contamination-free benefits everyone and helps keep a healthy swimming environment for all to enjoy. If you’re potty training you may want to use a swim diaper just in case, but take your toddler to the bathroom for potty breaks on a regular basis.

Many public swimming areas, especially public pools, have their own rules about swim diapers. Some require different types of swim diapers or an additional swim pant, and regulations about where to change dirty diapers are usually posted.  You can always call ahead to find out if your destination has specific rules about swim diapers.

Be sure to include swim diapers in your diaper bag this summer so you’re always ready for your baby to join in the fun at the pool or beach without worrying about creating a poop-tastrophe!

Image: Getty  

 

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