Making SMOOTHIES FOR KIDS, take it easy :)

I started Smoothie Recipes for Kids in 2017 to share some easy recipes that worked for my then picky eater. Along the way, we both fell in love with nutritious smoothies and now we make green smoothies a regular part of our healthy diet. I drank smoothies all through my second pregnancy and they helped me with nausea, pregnancy cravings, and even losing the baby weight afterwards. Fact is – there is NO easier or more delicious way to eat your vegetables!

{ smoothies for kids * healthy smoothie recipes for kids of all ages 1-101 }

Healthy, homemade smoothies are the fastest (& easiest!) way to feed your child their recommended five daily servings of (2) fruits and (3) vegetables. Smoothies can easily provide your child with a full serving of calcium, fruit and vegetables – in just one cup!

Smoothies are the perfect “picky eater” solution for:

Picky Eaters
Kids on the Go
Active Kids
Children with Food Allergies
Babies & Toddlers
Busy Parents
Anyone Who Needs to Lose Weight or Make Healthier Choices

I’m Heather, and my goal is to help YOU make your whole family healthier with delicious smoothies that just happen be chock full of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.
To put it simply: Smoothie Recipes makes it EASY to get your five a day.

Parents, have you ever thought?

  • Who has time to make meals from scratch?
  • What can I make that my child will actually eat?
  • When is the last time my kid ate fresh fruit and/or vegetables???
  • Where can I find healthy snacks on the go?
  • Why does my child keep getting constipated/sick/tired?

How about this?

  • I wish it was easier to eat healthier
  • I’ve gained a little weight, but I don’t know how to get rid of it
  • I don’t have time to eat healthy – I’m always in the car. Go, go, go!

If any of those questions sound familiar then you’re in the right place!

While I can’t promise your kids will start eating peas tonight, or that smoothies are a magic pill (they aren’t!) I can promise that you’ll pick up a few tips that will help you with your daily food batter, whatever it may be. My smoothie recipes are easy, tasty, and the fact that they are healthy too is just a bonus!

Here’s what other people are saying about Smoothie Recipes:

  • Sooooo goood. My kids keep asking for it. And I have very picky kids: 4 yo, 6 yo, 13 yo and they all LOVE it. – Crystal
  • Glad I found this site, made this smoothie for my girls and 18 months and 3yrs and there was not enough left for me but it was so yummy I scraped what I could out of the blender! I am going to make this double next time so I can have a glass also! – Leslie
  • Thanks for the recipe, my six year old son can’t get enough. – Patricia
  • Another hit with my 7-8 graders in my public school cooking class.  – Irene
  • Your esmoothie recipes are such great inspiration for yummy & healthy recipes! – Sarah
  • We tried the smoothie and our son loved it!!! Thanks and we look forward to trying more!!! – Wesley
  • Love your recipes!!! – Olympic Gold Medalist(!) Rebecca

About Heather 

I’m not a nutritionist or a pediatrician. I’m just a mom who tries to make healthy food that my four year old daughter and my veggie-averse husband will actually eat. (My daughter is actually much better in this department!) Smoothies are such an easy way to get a few extra servings of fruits and veggies in, and the options are literally endless. I’ll hope you’ll join me as we try to expose our kids (& husbands?!)  to as many fruits & vegetables as possible! 🙂

Ready to start making smoothies for kids?

Click here to go see all of yummy recipes!

What is a Smoothie?

A smoothie is a drink that is made using a variety of ingredients, most commonly including fresh or frozen fruit. Smoothies have a thicker consistency than plain juice, are blended, and served cold.

Now that you know what a smoothie is, you might be wondering…

How to Make a Smoothie?

The process to make a smoothie can be broken down into three basic steps:

  1.  Choose one of smoothie recipes
  2. Gather all of the ingredients
  3. Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth

How do I Make My Smoothie Thicker?

If your smoothie is thinner than you would like it to be you have several options to make it thicker. Refrigerated yogurt, frozen yogurt, bananas, ice cream, sherbet, avocado, dry cereal, or dry oatmeal will all make your smoothie thicker, choose the one you think  will taste the best with the ingredients that you have already used.

It’s easier to make a smoothie thinner than to thicken it back up after it’s too thin. If you like your smoothies thicker, add the liquid in slowly, and stop when it’s the perfect consistency.

Are there any ingredients that you have to use in your smoothie?

Not really. There are a million smoothie combinations. One thing I will recommend is to use at least one frozen element in each smoothie. Whether that is frozen fruit, frozen yogurt, or ice is up to you.

It’s also good to know that bananas make your smoothie thicker & creamier, so it’s a good idea to keep them on hand.

 What Blender Should I Use?

I *love* my Ninja Pulse 40 oz blender. I think it’s crazy to spend more than $100 on a blender. If want to read the reviews of blender you can check it here best smoothie blender 2018

How many calories are in your smoothies?

Where’s the nutrition information?

At this time I do not post calorie counts or nutrition info for my smoothie recipes. This website is aimed at children, specifically my own daughter, and I don’t believe in counting calories for kids (or really even for adults). I think the best thing you can do as a parent is try to provide your child with food choices that are made up of fresh, real, unprocessed foods; and if you do, then everything else will work itself out.

That said, if you are on a diet or counting calories and you would like to see calorie counts I recommend typing your ingredients into the calorie counter here.

15 NON-BATTERY OPERATED TOYS THAT SUPPORT TODDLER SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

I’ve been working on my son’s Christmas list per the request of my family. I was supposed to have it ready to pass out at Thanksgiving, but couldn’t get it together. I put a lot of thought into the toys we use with our son. One, because we live in a town home and have very limited space, so the toys we do have must be worthy. Two, because I want my son to play with toys that support and enhance his cognitive development. Toys that require him to think and do, not just push a button and get immediate gratification. Three, because I look for toys that we can interact with together.

From a Speech-Language Pathologist perspective, I’m not a big fan of toys that use batteries. In my experience, I’ve found that they limit speech, language and socialization opportunities. Often times toys with lots of lights, bells and whistles consume children in their own little worlds, leaving minimal reason for kiddos to have to communicate or engage with others. Also, I want my son and the kiddos I work with to make actions, sounds, noises, music and words themselves, instead of the toy doing it for them. As I’ve been out doing my Christmas shopping I’ve noticed a lot of battery operated toys in carts, so I felt it important to share this post. Not only to help me get my ideas out for my own son, but to spread the speech and language love with littles and parents. Also to save you some money and reduce obnoxious toy and battery replacement headaches. Don’t get me wrong, battery operated toys have their place. I’ve added a few to the list, but not many.

The toys on this list are ones I recommend to support speech and language development and I hope my son gets for Christmas! I’ve broken this list up in to four groups: toys my son is getting from Santa, toys on his wish list for friends and family, toys he already has/loves, which I recommend for toddlers and a couple of battery operated toys that I use in speech and language therapy and am giving my son.

Note: This post contains affiliate links to items I personally find useful. I have not been compensated by the manufacturers for purchasing or promoting any of these products. I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using my link at no cost to you. If you do, thank you!!

What Santa is bringing my son, Shhhh don’t tell:

Little Tikes Basketball Set (Essential toddler toy! Lots of turn taking and following directions to be done with this.)

Melissa and Doug Hand Puppets (Yes, hand puppets! Had to sell my husband on these, but I know my son will love them. Get ready to make animal sounds!)

Edushape Sensory Balls (Can’t have enough balls, love the extra sensory input of these. Check out my post on The Benefits of Rolling Balls with Babies.)

Lego Duplo Building Blocks (My son loves putting things together and taking them apart. Big blocks are great for little hands and minds. You can work on on/off, naming, colors, following directions etc. These were daddy’s idea.)

Melissa and Doug Table and Chairs (These just arrived and I want to give them to him now! Toddlers quickly learn and wish to sit by themselves. I highly recommend a table and chair set for this age. It’s a great place to sit down, chat and do fun things with your little.)

Toys on his Christmas Wish List that I hope he gets AND my husband cut me off from buying:

Melissa and Doug Latch Puzzle (Any puzzle with latches and doors is great for this age. You can work on “open/close,” “knock knock,” naming and counting.)

Anywhere Chair (My parents ordered this from The Land of Nod. So excited, my son loves sitting in big boy chairs now and reading his books.)

Toddler Shopping Cart (My son loves playing with these at friends houses. I have him “go shopping” for the things I name.

Toddler Slide (I want my son to have this! It’s so developmentally appropriate right now! He LOVES to climb and slide, but we have nowhere to put it. It’s a great toy to work on saying “ready, set, go.”)

Squigz (Awesome, awesome little suckers that kiddos just love! Talk about and choose colors, together/apart, take turns and just be silly-they stick to your face!)

Toddler Stepping Stool (My little loves going up and down on steps, plus I want him to start having access to wash his hands more independently.)

Toys my son has and loves that are developmentally appropriate for young toddlers:

Fisher-Price Corn Popper (Not sure what the attraction is, but he plays with it daily. We say “pop pop pop” as he goes goes goes!)

Melissa and Doug Nesting and Stacking Blocks (I use these in therapy tons and my son loves stacking and knocking them down while saying “up” and “down.” Any toy that stacks is good for this age.)

Water Table (We gave our son one for his first birthday and he loves it. Now that it’s cold out we don’t have water in it, but he still plays with the toys. You can also use other fillers such as sand.)

Board Books (You can’t go wrong with board books! My son is really into lift-the-flap and touch and feel books. Please make sure at least one book is under the tree for your little!)

Battery Operated Toys:

When it comes to battery operated toys, I choose ones that require communication to be turned on or have parts such as balls that have to be asked for. I look for ones that encourage engagement with others, turn-taking and reciprocal communication. Below are the toys my son is getting for Christmas. I generally stay away from battery operated toys that he can operate independently.

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank (This is a great toy to work with littles on requesting “more” or “money.” I use it in therapy quite a bit and I think my son will enjoy it. I usually don’t turn it on, kiddos just love to put the coins in and take them out.)

Toy Vacuum (Any push and pull toy is great for toddlers. I’m not sure how my son will respond to this toy Dyson vacuum, but he loves our vacuum and oddly enough it was one of his first words. We will work on asking to turn it on and pretend play with it.)

Ball Popper (I think putting the balls in, wondering where they will come out, then putting them back in will be fun for my little man. Of course, I plan to work on using the words “ball please” and choosing which color ball he wants.)

Most all toys have the ability to support speech and language development. It’s the person that sits down with the child that unlocks their potential and makes the magic happen! I hope you found this list helpful and that it makes your Christmas shopping a little easier! If you have a toddler on your Christmas list, you may wish to consider these toys. They are developmentally appropriate and support speech and language skills. Happy shopping! And may you want to buy gyro bowl.

Language Rich Outdoor Activity Center for Toddlers

Hello Speechbaby friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, for no reason other than my busy, energetic, curious and often naughty speechbaby himself. Raising a toddler is many things, but boring is not one of them. Anyone that has spent time with a toddler would surely understand. It’s non-stop and demanding. I’m not complaining because it’s my dream come true, however it leaves very little time for myself. Anyway, here I am in front of my computer with the clock ticking away at nap time so let’s go.

When I first started blogging, it helped me to have scheduled writing days. I used to do a “Try This at Home” language activity post each Tuesday. As my son has gotten older and requires much more of my undivided attention, this has proved impossible to keep up with. We still do tons of language enriched activities throughout our day, unfortunately I just don’t have time to type it all out in an organized manner. However, this outdoor container full of opportunities for language development is too good not to share. Also, it’s Tuesday, so here’s a fun language rich activity I challenge you to try with a little one.

Materials: large container, lots of dirt, garden tools, faux flowers, weather resistant items, pinwheel, watering can, bucket

What’s more fun than playing in dirt?! I could think of many things, but it’s my toddler’s favorite pastime. As Spring has sprung, I’m slowly rejuvenating my soil and dead plant filled flower pots with new plants. In doing so, I had one over-sized pot full of soil, which of course my son kept going for and slinging dirt everywhere. This got me thinking about how I could turn his desire to do this into more controlled, functional activities. I purchased garden tools (shovels being my son’s favorite-he’s so into shovels at the moment), silk flowers, pinwheels, a small watering can (this was hard to find in little people size-finally found one at TJ Maxx), some buckets (he loves moving things to and from) and small items for hiding. I used rubber ducks, lizards, alphabet letters, shapes, seashells and fish. You can use anything. At first I wanted to do bugs and things naturally found in dirt, but was unable to find any rubber bugs….wtf?!?! I discontinued that mission and ransacked my house for random manipulatives. My little man couldn’t be happier with what I came up with.

You’ve got the materials….now what?!?! Put them all together and add language!

  • Cover the items with dirt-little ones can follow directions to uncover the items (“where’s the duck?” “find the lizard” “give mommy the seashell”) and practice naming them, make sound effects and actions with the items
  • Pick and smell the flowers-talk about colors and scents
  • Have babies follow directions to give the flowers to someone (“give daddy the purple flower”)
  • Plant the flowers-talk about the feel of dirt and the act of planting
  • Water the flowers and talk about what you’re doing, change in feel (wet/dry)
  • Dig and shovel dirt-talk about amounts (that’s a lot of dirt, that’s a little bit of dirt, big scoop/little scoop)
  • Talk about the different garden tools and give directions (rake the dirt, dig a hole with the shovel)
  • Spin the pinwheel while saying “spin, spin.” Blow the pinwheel and talk about the wind.
  • Encourage little ones to use all of their senses and talk about them. They’re going to eat dirt, might as well talk about it!
  • Ask little ones to follow directions for cleaning up when finished playing (“put your tools inside the flower-pot” “sweep off the dirt”).

Tips: Don’t place the container directly over your air conditioning unit below the deck, it will fill with dirt or let your little water while daddy is underneath the deck. Doesn’t end well….I know from experience! Also, play music while playing. 

My son loves to be outside more than anything. Being outside always shakes the grumpiness right out of him. There’s so much to look at and do. There’s always something new to discover. And, I much prefer messes outside than in, so we spend lots of time outdoors. I love flowers and plants, which is why I love Spring. Other than the explosion of pollen, I very much enjoy watching things come alive and grow. In efforts to share this love with my baby boy, I made it my mission to make our back deck (minus the grill) a toddler friendly play space. One where my son can go outside and play freely and safely without having to be told “no” for every move he makes. He spends lots of time at his water table and is really into transferring water and dirt from place to place at nineteen months old. I have flowers for him to smell, pick and water, herbs to smell and taste, chalk for coloring, chimes for listening and bird feeders for bird watching. Of all the fun things to do on our deck, this container activity center provides the most entertainment for good amounts of time-both mommy directed and independent…..yes please! If you have a busy toddler driving you crazy indoors, get outside and give this a try. It’s worth the mess! You may also like to check out my post 8 Reasons to Get Babies Outdoors.

Cheers to playing outside!

Molly

MAKING THE HOME IMPROVEMENT STORE A TODDLER LANGUAGE EXPERIENCE

Most every weekend I find myself in a home improvement store (usually multiple times a weekend) with my toddler and husband. My husband is like a kid in a candy store in home improvement stores and I typically follow him around like a lost puppy. Oober bored. Flowers and the gardening section are pretty much my only attraction to these type stores. Knowing that my husband would much rather meander about the store and stare at tools for days without me staring at him or our toddler doing whatever he can to get attention, lately we’ve been telling daddy “bye-bye” and going off on our own adventures. There is actually a lot of fun and learning to be had in home improvement stores. The opportunities for supporting language skills in babies and toddlers are endless. Every single aisle has something cool for little ones to look at and explore and for caregivers to talk with them about. Whether I’m playing with my son or other kiddos, when introducing new concepts my philosophy is “I do, we do, you do.” Below are examples of my son and I doing and talking together. Have a look at how I’ve been making the most out of otherwise boring visits to the home improvement store.

Making the Home Improvement Store a Toddler Language Experience(1).pngBlinds/Windows/Doors: “Open” and “Close”

Cabinets: “In” and “Out”

Switches:Up” and “Down”

Lighting: “On” and “Off”

Tile/Floor/Wall Coverings: “Shiny” and “Dull,” “Bumpy” and “Smooth”

Flooring: “Soft Carpet” and “Look at the picture. Where’s the doggy?” “What’s the kitty cat say?”

Mirrors: Look in mirrors together! Make silly faces, do different actions (wave, clap, jump) and name each other, body parts and articles of clothing.

Gardening: Smell flowers and talk about scents, colors and sizes. We worked on using our nose to smell, not our tongues :)!

Animals: Take your dog along (I know at Lowe’s Home Improvement you can), talk about other dogs you will likely see and of course make doggy sounds.

Paint: Lastly, don’t forget to stop by the paint section and talk about colors. Grab some paint strips and make a color book! My son loves this color book I made him. I simply wrote the color names on the back of the paint strips, laminated them and put them on a notebook ring. I love that it shows the various shades of a color, which helps with color recognition.

If you find yourself in a home improvement store with a lingering man and rambunctious toddler(s), put on your hard hats and go on a language excursion! Doing so stimulates language development and makes for a happy husband and baby…yes please! I actually kind of look forward to going now and we all know…if mama’s happy, everybody’s happy :)! Hope you found this helpful.

Peace & Love,

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

CRISPY KALE CHIPS HEALTHY TODDLER SNACK

I haven’t shared any toddler approved recipes lately, not for failure of trying, but for failure of pleasing my seventeen month old son. I continue to test out new foods with my son to maximize his exposure and tempt his interests in hopes of achieving a win. This is tough! It’s a challenge figuring out what he will eat or throw. And throw he will. Veggies are by far the hardest to sneak past my son, which leaves me constantly thinking about ways to mask them. He loves Veggie Straws, crackers and other crunchy things, so I thought I would give kale chips a try. I’ve had some fails with soggy kale chips in the past. Crispness is key to making kale chips delish! I tweaked my recipe a bit, which resulted in perfectly crisp kale chips that my son actually ate. I still can’t believe it! Have a look at what I did to make a yummy and healthy snack that my whole family enjoyed.

Crispy Kale Chips.png

Ingredients: 1 bunch Kale, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F and bring in your kitchen helper. Washing, tearing and transferring kale are great tasks to involve little ones in. My son loves helping in the kitchen and I let him do so as much as possible.

2. Tear the kale leaves into large pieces away from the stems and rinse.

3. Thoroughly dry the kale. I placed kale on a towel and blotted it dry with a paper towel. I’ve found that carefully drying the kale is an important step to getting crispy kale chips.

4. Toss kale in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. I prefer using sea-salt. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

5. Spread kale in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure the kale is not overlapping or crammed onto the baking sheet. It’s better to spread the kale leaves out onto two baking sheets or cook it in batches than to pack it onto one tray.

6. Cook kale for fifteen minutes then rotate the pan and cook another fifteen minutes. Let cool.

7. Bon Appe’tit baby!
Verdict: Win and time to do it again! It’s all about trial and error in my kitchen. My son is totally into eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches these days, which are my default. They are so easy to make and I know he will eat them. PBJ + kale chips = win! Kale chips are a good way to get some veggies in my little man’s diet and are a great alternative to potato chips. They really are delicious, very light and flavorful and best of all nutritious. They won’t be around long, can’t eat just one. It took my son awhile to warm up to them, but now he grabs them by the handful. Give crispy kale chips a try and let me know what your little one thinks. Find more toddler friendly recipes here. Do you have any tricks to get veggies in little ones?! Please share!

Cheers to getting veggies in littles!

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

TODDLER MADE VALENTINES

Have you taken your little one to a public library yet?! I certainly understand if you haven’t. When you have an infant that can begin screaming without warning or a toddler that will likely run from you, stand in chairs, shout or fall and bust their lip (personal experiences) tagging along with you, it can be intimidating. At least it was for me. I’ve finally gotten over my shyness of going to libraries with my unpredictable son. I’m glad I have because it’s a great place to take him. It’s an awesome sensory experience. I see moms of multiples rocking it in libraries all the time. Libraries are actually very welcoming and accommodating to little people. Most of them offer fun, educational and free activities for kiddos of all ages with lots of different days and times to choose from. They typically have nice kiddo friendly reading areas that are appropriate for all ages.

We started going to baby story time at the library when my son was 6 months old (our first visit was nerve-racking but fun) and now we’ve graduated to toddler story time. Toddler story time is really quite comical. After story time, I’ve just started engaging my son in picking out board books and putting them in his “library bag” to check out. He doesn’t fully get it just yet, but the foundation is being laid and that’s what is important! He’s also learning how we do and do not behave in a quiet, respectable setting. This is a tough lesson for a toddler to learn, no doubt. But in the long run, it’s well worth it. We want babies, books and libraries to be friends and starting early helps to build positive relationships. That being said, what about those valentines?!?!

I credit my hometown’s county library system for this idea AND it’s a GOOD one! Wake County Public Libraries have collaborated with the Durham VA Medical Center to deliver Valentines to Veterans in time for Valentine’s Day. When I took my little man to the library for story time, they had a table set up for kiddos to make Valentines for Veterans. Just seeing this warmed my heart. What an awesome and thoughtful activity for all involved?! I had the privilege of working with many Veterans during my time providing speech-language-swallowing services in skilled nursing and assisted living homes. Seeing their faces light up when receiving simple items that show care and love and when having visitors is priceless! So I thought, how can I involve my baby boy?! I got nervous at the thought of him at the valentines making table. There was no way that would end well. I asked the librarian if we could make valentines at home and bring them in and they said of course. So that’s what we did. Here’s what we’ve been working on.

Hand and Foot Made.png

Materials: 8 1/2″ X 11″ paper, fingerpaint, markers, stickers

I already had finger paints and paper. I bought a book of valentines stickers for $1 from Target’s dollar section. It always gets me! First, I folded the paper in half the long way. I like to call this the “hotdog” fold. I cut the paper along the fold using my beloved paper-cutter. Next, I folded the paper in half the short way, what I call the “hamburger” fold. Then, we got messy dipping hands and feet in paint and stamping the paper. For the footprint hearts, I found it best to print one foot and let it dry before doing the other foot to complete the heart. Once the paint dried, I wrote a valentines message inside the cards and helped my son add stickers. He enjoyed placing the stickers and was so cute saying “ticker.” One dollar and some special bonding time with my son is all this activity cost me. And, there’s nothing better than a hand (foot) made valentine!
We also made some for our friends and family.

IMG_1866.JPG

A few lessons learned…

  • When it comes to hand/foot prints, less paint is more
  • Diaper only baby is best
  • Have a clear path to a sink for washing painted hands and feet
  • Tackle this project in stages
  • Let your little one place the stickers before you write the message inside the card

I just LOVE everything about this activity. I was able to get my little dude messy with some fun, sensory finger paint play and hopefully our valentines will put a smile on well-deserving faces. If you live in or near Wake County, NC, I encourage you to take your little ones into any county public library between now and Feb. 5, 2017, where you can make or drop off Valentines for Veterans. Don’t forget to read a few books while you’re there…check out some Valentine’s Books. If you don’t have this opportunity, make some valentines to share with a nursing facility, your local community helpers or send snail mail to your friends and family. These valentines turned out so cute. They are bound to make the receiver happy and happiness is contagious! Give them a go and let me know what you think. Have you done anything fun with hand or footprints?! Please share!

Peace & Love,

VALENTINE’S DAY BOOKS FOR BABIES

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and I figure it’s a good time to start introducing my son to this tradition. To my surprise, Valentine’s Day books were hard to find in stores. Target was the only store I found some in. However, Amazon’s book prices were considerably cheaper, so I ordered ours and they have arrived! My husband fussed at me because I ordered “too many.” I couldn’t help myself. Besides, our book collection is getting a bit stale. We have hundreds of books, but it seems like we read the same ones over and over. So, adding a little spice to our library is a good thing!

If you follow my blog, you know that I love children’s literature and doing themed activities with kiddos. Reading books about the activities you do together helps children to make connections. It also helps children to make connections with the seasonal changes they see in their environments. You know, the red and pink hearts, lips and flowers that you started seeing all around the day after New Year’s. When babies are out and about and see things that they have read about they make connections, which builds on their cognitive skills. They will very likely begin to talk about the things they are seeing.

When seeking out books that are developmentally appropriate for my toddler, I look for simple, short, large print text, one scene per page, bright, colorful illustrations with high contrast and opportunities for naming, rhyming, counting, sound effects and interaction. Board books are optimal, but some board books are too busy and long with too much text. Books for babies and toddlers need to be short, quick reads. Little ones have lots of big, important things to do, so they can’t dedicate a lot of time to any one thing!

I do understand that actual Valentine’s Day will have little meaning to my almost seventeen months old son. But…I’m very excited to teach and talk to him about hearts, flowers, colors, friends and LOVE! Reading these books with my son daily for the next several weeks is going to help me do just that. Have a look at what we are reading.

How to throw a fabulous oscar party.png

LOVE by Eric Carle: By Eric Carle, need I say more?!?! This book features his classic illustrations, lots of opportunities for naming and my son’s favorite…finding the caterpillar on each page. Only negative, it’s hardcover but the pages are paper. You’ll want to be ready to teach babies about being careful with books when reading this one.

Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney: Short, simple and sweet rhyming board book about making valentines for friends and mama. My son loves all Llama Llama books. They are fun, quick reads with colorful and relatable illustrations.

Snuggle Puppy! by Sandra Boynton: Get ready to sing your heart out. Snuggle puppy’s mama sings him a rhyming song that’s so cute and catchy (“Snuggle puppy of mine! Everything about you is especially fine!). This board book gains and keeps babies’ attention with simple text and familiar illustrations about why Snuggle puppy is loved.

Where is Love, Biscuit? by Alyssa Satin Capucilli: Love this one! It’s an interactive touch-and-feel board book all about love. Biscuit finds a cuddly blanket, crunchy cookies, woolly sweaters and soft pajamas on his adventures to find love. My son enjoys finding “the doggy” on each page. I’ve found my son reading this book independently several times and I LOVE IT!

Where is Baby’s Valentine? by Karen Katz: I would say this one is my son’s favorite. He loves lifting the flaps and saying “baby” in all of Karen Katz’s books. We also find the kitty on each page and make “meow” sounds. This is a great board book for developing vocabulary and spatial concepts of behind, under and in as baby looks for her valentine.

My Fuzzy Valentine by Naomi Kleinberg: My son is totally into “Melmo” right now so I had to get this book. It’s a board book with a fuzzy Elmo on each page that asks common Sesame Street characters if they sent him a valentine. It’s basically a scene from the show in a book. It has more text on a page than I typically recommend, so I leave some words out. It’s great fun reading aloud to your baby in the Sesame Street characters (Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster) voices. You can’t help but do it. My husband and I roll over laughing at each other reading this book to our son. If you have an Elmo lover, may want to give this one a try!

So there you go, six fun and interactive Valentine’s books for babies and toddlers. Reading aloud to babies has unlimited benefits. Check out my posts on Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies and The Benefits of Reading to Babies. Are there any Valentine’s Day books your little ones are sweet on?! Please share!
Tip: Keep books within babies’ reach at all times, read with them everyday and take them to the public library! 

Cheers to reading with littles!

Molly

Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!

Note: I purchased each of these books and did not receive any discounts or free products for my review of them. The links embedded in this post may take you directly to Amazon for which I am an affiliate. If you make a purchase through one of those links, I may make a small commission at no cost to you. If you do, thank you!!

USING SOUND EFFECTS TO ENGAGE BABIES IN COMMUNICATION

Speech and Language Tip: Use lots of sound effects in everyday communication with babies!

Using Sound Effects(1).pngI often work on helping kiddos make environmental and animal sounds in my speech-language therapy sessions. Sounds make activities more entertaining and fun. Making sound effects grabs babies attention and interest. Both of which are needed for learning. Sound effects also help babies to remember. This is called auditory memory. Auditory memory is our ability to take in information that is presented out loud, process the information, store it in our memory bank then recall it. It’s good to offer babies lots of sounds to process. You also want to repeat the sounds many times to help babies remember, recall and connect them. For example, when my son sees an automobile, he says “vroom vroom.” Same with a cat and cow. When he sees them, he makes “meow” and “moo moo” sounds. He learned these sounds by hearing them produced when being around the things. Once babies build an association between the sound and the object, then they can focus on making the sound. Another example is sneezing. I’ve always made a big deal out of sneezing by saying “achoo achoo.” Now my son says “choo choo” when I sneeze. Pretend sneezing is a great way to get crying and upset babies out of a funk too. Give it a try! A good time to add some sound effects is when strapping babies into their car seats. You can say “snap and click click.” This will help distract babies a bit if they are not fans of being strapped in, like my son. Also, when dressing little ones say “snap snap snap” or “zzzziiiiiipp” to keep things light and fun all the while you’re working on language development.

Environmental and animal sounds are often some of babies’ first words, because they are easy to make as far as speech muscles and coordination go. Most sound effects have stretched out, open vowels in them. My son started with the “vroom vroom” car sound by rolling his lips and blowing raspberries. When he did it, we responded with lots of praise and he began to associate the sound with automobiles. He started this around nine months of age. Now at sixteen months, he has narrowed it down and only does it when he sees big trucks, motorcycles or bikes. He also likes to say “nuh nuh…nuh nuh…nuh nuh” while pretending to swim his shark. He learned this by hearing and watching us do it. We are currently working on all animal, transportation and letter sounds as the opportunities present themselves, saying “mmmm” when smelling things and “mwah” when giving kisses. We are going to an airport observation park today and I’m super excited to make plane sounds. It’s important to offer lots of opportunities for littles to hear and make various sounds. Animal and letter magnets on our fridge get my son going several times a day.

“Wee, woo woo, stomp stomp, crunch crunch, quack quack”

Reading books together is a great time to make sound effects. You can incorporate sounds into most any book, but ones with animals and modes of transportation are particularly good. The following is a list of my son’s favorite sound effect books in our collection.

Llama Llama Zippity-Zoom

Mr. Brown Can MOO! Can You? by Dr. Seuss

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia

Moo, Baa, LaLaLa by Sandra Boynton

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

It’s never to early to add sounds and noises when you are communicating with babies. They are remembering every new sound they hear right from the very beginning. Auditory memory plays a huge role in developing communication skills. I challenge you to work babies’ auditory memories by giving them lots of different sounds to process, remember and make! Are there any sound books you recommend? Please share!

Cheers,

TEACHING ARTICLES OF CLOTHING TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Language Tip: Teach babies about clothing!

Teaching Articles of Clothing.png

Dressing babies is a big part of their lives. It’s done multiple times a day, so it’s a great time to incorporate the language of dressing. Incorporating language with the task of dressing helps babies make connections between the words and the items. This is how they learn that a shoe is a shoe and pants are pants, because we tell them. They begin to develop an understanding, which helps prepare them for what’s happening when they are being dressed. This improves compliance and communication with babies.

There has been lots of talk about the things we wear in our home this week. At least twice a day for the last several days, I’ve bundled my son up in his winter clothing to go outside and explore the snow that we got this past weekend. In doing this, I’ve made sure to name the articles of clothing as I put them on him. I do this because each time I say and place my son’s socks, boots, hat, mittens and jacket on him, he forms a better understanding of what they are. The more he hears it, the more he learns about clothing’s characteristics, purposes and functions. He also learns how the words are said. Once he has a good understanding about clothing, he will be able to practice verbally saying the words. He is now saying “boos” for boots, “ha” for hat, and “mimi” for mittens.

Teaching littles about the things we wear helps with communication at bath time, when diapering, dressing and going outdoors. Talking clothing lets babies know what to expect. For example, in my son’s case, when I change his diaper and he’s throwing a fit I say, “we have to put on your pants, then we’re all done.” This helps to comfort him. At bath time I may say, “we need to take off your pants and shirt before we can take a bath.” My son loves baths, so this gets him going. Before going to bed I may say, “we have to put on your pajamas, then brush your teeth.” My son looks forward to brushing his teeth, so this helps with getting his pjs on.

My son also loves going outside and while I know what he wants, he has difficulty communicating it, resulting in frustration and meltdowns. When this happens, I take it as an opportunity to develop his communication skills. I give him simple directions to process and follow such as, “Go get your jacket and shoes, then we can go outside.” This works on his receptive language skills. He has to understand what I’m saying and do it before he is rewarded. He now goes and gets his shoes (most of the time) while saying “toos.” So cute!

Having a good understanding about articles of clothing allows children to be successful at the directions we give them related to clothing/dressing, if that makes sense. When we are successful at things, they are more enjoyable and we repeat them. This helps to develop compliance with dressing and effective communication. My son has certainly become more compliant with keeping his hat and mittens on, thank goodness!

Tips for Teaching Articles of Clothing:

-Name clothing as you put it on and take it off babies: “socks,” “pants,” “shirt,” “diaper”

-Name clothing as you put it on yourself: “mommy’s hat, daddy’s boots”

-Tell where the clothing goes: “hat on head,” “mittens on hands”

-Ask babies to find clothing on you, in books, on stuffed animals or in pictures: “Where’s mommy’s socks?” “Where’s the baby’s hat?” “Show me daddy’s pants.”

-Tell babies what the clothing does: “Socks keep our feet warm.,” “jacket keeps us dry,” “Mittens keep our hands warm,” “Shoes protect our feet outside.”

-Ask babies to follow simple directions with clothing: “Go get your jacket.,” “Put your hat on.,” “Bring mommy her boots.,” “Where’s daddy’s hat?”

-Name an article of clothing and have babies find it when mixed with others: For example, when my son’s hat, boots and gloves were laid out on the floor to dry, I said “Where are your mittens? Go get your mittens.” This practices listening, following directions and object identification.

-Let babies assist with doing laundry: Name the items as babies pull them out or put them in.

It’s never to early to begin naming articles of clothing with babies. You know I’ve been saying them to my son since the day he popped out. All words you say to babies helps to develop their understanding of language and how it works. I like to load babies up with common words that are in their everyday, things they see and interact with a lot. This way they remember and make connections. Around 12-18 months of age is a great time to place increased emphasis on the things we wear. This is when babies can really grasp what they are and actively engage in dressing themselves. Teaching about articles of clothing opens up a world of communication for toddlers. I challenge you to talk clothing with littles! Let me know if you have any questions.

Peace & Love,

CHRISTMAS LANGUAGE ACTIVITY FOR TODDLERS

We’ve been busy getting in the Christmas spirit around our household. I love this time of year! Spending it with my fifteen month old is so much fun but also quite the challenge. We had a successful first trip to visit Santa Claus and got a Christmas tree. Christmas tree + toddler = challenge! Everyone has different ways of dealing with littles and their Christmas tree. Some do table top trees that are out of reach, some barricade the tree with cinder block presents, some rule the tree off limits…period, others offer littles their own Christmas trees, or my friend displayed only her Christmas cards on her tree, which I think is a great idea. There are many ways, to each his own.

My husband and I talked about our approach and we decided to let our little guy be involved with decorating and interacting with our Christmas tree. With this in mind, I set out on a mission to find baby safe ornaments. I personally LOVE glass ornaments and have a beautiful collection that I’ve been working on for years. Obviously this isn’t best case scenario, so I placed my glass ornaments on the top 1/4 of our tree. This way I get to enjoy them but they are out of my son’s reach. He gets the lower half of the tree all to himself! While perusing at Target, I found “shatter resistant” fillable ornaments. I literally jumped for joy in the store and my wheels started turning. Here’s what I came up with.

Filling Ornaments with Exciting Manipulatives:

1. Gather Materials: Fillable plastic ornaments, manipulatives that will fit inside (I used foam stars, jingle bells, pompoms and cut up pipe cleaners), clear packaging tape (a must for toddlers, probably don’t need for older kiddos)

2. Sit down with baby, fill the ornaments and TALK all about it! Be sure to tape the tops on.