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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Bento Box Mania!

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “bento box lunch” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

Why does it work well for school lunches?

Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in a sealed container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces. Bento boxes are also economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

What are the nutritional benefits of bento boxes?

Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. By introducing different, healthy foods early in your child’s life, he or she may develop a preference for those foods as well as a more diverse palate. You can also turn the preparation of the bento box into a learning activity by asking your child what each food is, where it comes from, how it’s made and so on. Engaging your child in the experience may help to build and reinforce a child’s love of diverse, nutritious foods while fostering a love of learning.

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

Paper Flower Craft

Attention parents! Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and the most special gifts are those made by the hands of your tiny tots. Here’s a craft idea to help your child create a special keepsake for mom.

What you need:

  • Photo of your child
  • Construction paper
  • Pipe cleaners or straws
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape

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Instructions:

Cut the photo of your little one into a circle.

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Encourage your child to choose a color (or two) of construction paper and cut out eight ovals for petals. Cutting should be done by an adult.

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Help your child glue or tape the petals into a flower.

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Glue or tape your child’s photo in the center of the flower.

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Use a straw or pipe cleaner for the stem. (Tip: Twisting two pipe cleaners together makes a stronger stem.)

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For a more advanced activity, help your child write a poem for Mom and attach it to the flower. Have fun!

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Meeting the Dentist

Your baby’s teeth are just as vital as your adult teeth. Primary teeth create space for permanent teeth. They also help your little one when she begins speaking and chewing food. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child’s first dental visit should be after her first tooth arrives, and it should occur before her first birthday, whichever exciting event happens first.

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It is important to schedule a visit early. This will allow your dentist to check for any signs of dental problems, like tooth decay or issues from extended thumb sucking, before they become severe. The dentist can also show you the best way to clean your child’s teeth, recommend oral care products and answer any questions you may have about the growth of your child’s teeth. After assessing your child’s teeth, gums and jaw, your dentist can recommend when to schedule a second visit.

A Child’s First Pet

Many children plead, “Please mom, dad, I need one. I’ll take good care of it.” Can you guess what this is all about? Yes, that furry bundle of responsibility known as a pet. As parents, our first thoughts might be the dirty messes in our homes, the many extra expenses or the cold, nightly walks with a beloved fur ball in less than ideal weather. However, a pet can be a great friend for your child; it can teach him responsibility and provide him with many other benefits.

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Having a pet offers your child a best friend, a constant companion and an audience to listen to her imaginative stories. This will boost her confidence while she is learning to read. Some children can be shy about reading out loud. Reading to a pet can provide your child with a reason to practice reading aloud without feeling embarrassed, leading to increased reading skills over time.

Caring for a pet also teaches children responsibility by their having to perform simple tasks that are vital to an animal’s health. This includes feeding the pet on a schedule, cleaning up after the pet and providing it with exercise. Reinforcing the importance of responsibility, even at a young age, can help children learn valuable life lessons.

How does your family’s lovable furry friend benefit your child?

Four Ways to Encourage Physical Activity

Physical activity and exercise are essential to your child’s development. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four tips on how to twenty20_12c2b596-6dd8-40ba-b07e-cd5e2aef92fbencourage physical activity.

  1. Start with yourself. Set an example by being physically active, personally and with your child, and talking about how it helps you feel and think better.
  2. Encourage your child to pick activities that she finds fun, and then suggest activities that add something to it. For example, if your child enjoys running, ask her whether she’d like to kick a soccer or tennis ball while she runs. This can help children see how a supplemental activity adds to the fun as well as the ‘burn.’
  3. Whenever possible walk or ride (a bike or scooter, while wearing a helmet, of course) when you need to get somewhere nearby. Also, leave extra time to stop and smell the roses with your child. These simple times together end all too soon.
  4. Give children the space, tools and time to be physically active themselves and figure out what’s fun to master on their own. “I want to do it myself” is the battle cry of autonomy in these years and should be respected.

Four Ways to Help Children Fall Asleep

Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four ways to help children fall asleep.twenty20_633d5703-2356-457f-8730-d07b63f9a0d7

  1. Improve the odds of bedtime going smoothly by not starting the lessons until the child reaches four to six months of age. Starting too early will teach your child to cry, not to sleep.
  2. Be patient and give the process time to work. It takes adults an average of 20 minutes to fall asleep, even though we’ve done it thousands of times, and that’s when our sleep hygiene is working reasonably well. Many adults, especially parents, need a bit more time to fall asleep. Keep in mind that children may experience similar challenges.
  3. Some crying is nearly universal at bedtime. Putting your child to bed when already asleep to avoid the crying might cause him to be disoriented when he wakes up in the night, which he will surely do. You’ll be up yet again because he hasn’t learned how to put himself back to sleep, just to cry for you.
  4. Through your routine, children will learn what happens next, so put them down when they get drowsy, sit down near them, using occasional light touch and your voice to soothe when the pacifier pops out and they have to put out the effort to find it, which is just what you want to them to be able to do in the middle of the night. It’s the wise parent who then says goodnight softly and leaves the room. Some crying may ensue, so wait for a few moments beyond what you think you can stand, then go back in briefly to reassure the child (and yourself) in the softest voice and touch you can manage. In a matter of weeks, research reassures us that your small student will be on the path to being able to fall back to sleep on his or her own.

Five Benefits of Family Meal Time

While it can twenty20_57c6a417-0cc7-4440-8840-1ca2d86f5dc0be challenging to find the time to eat meals as a family, it is important to try to make time for this oft-ignored tradition. Here are five benefits of eating meals together as a family.

  1. It gives you quality time together. Due to everybody’s different schedule, it can be difficult to spend time together  as a family. A regular meal time gives families a chance to regroup, talk and enjoy each other’s company.
  2. It helps reinforce good manners. Having a meal as a family is an excellent opportunity to practice good manners. The more you eat together, the more opportunities your children have to practice good manners.
  3. It promotes healthy eating. When you have meals together at home, you can easily control what your children are served. twenty20_9e57ce90-74c3-44d0-9f76-12c914a5e392Thus, you can add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the menu.  
  4. It helps expand children’s palates. Instead of serving rice, substitute quinoa. Or serve mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. If you’re serving chicken, add a side of tikka masala sauce for dipping. Having family meals together means more opportunities for trying and hopefully enjoying different foods.
  5. It helps save money. Many families will visit the local pizza shop or a fast food restaurant to save time, but the costs of doing so can add up quickly. It is much more cost effective to prepare and serve a meal at home than to go out to eat. Your family can put the money you save toward something else, such as a vacation or weekend outing.

POLAR BEAR SNACKS

Whip up some winter fun with these delightful (and easy) polar bear snacks! Click here to see how these recipes are made.

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Polar Bear Yogurt Bowl (Great for breakfast!)

  • 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 3 slices of banana
  • 3 fresh blueberries

Scoop one cup of vanilla Greek yogurt into a small round bowl.

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Place two slices of banana at the top of the bowl for ears.

Place one slice of banana in the middle of the bowl for a muzzle.

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Place one blueberry on the middle banana slice as a nose and the other two blueberries just above the muzzle as eyes.

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Polar Bear Toast (An awesome afternoon snack!)

  • Slice of whole grain bread, toasted
  • 3 slices of banana
  • 5 fresh blueberries
  • Cream cheese

Spread cream cheese on a slice of whole grain toast.

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Place two slices of banana at the top two corners of the toast for ears.

Place one slice of banana towards the bottom center of the toast for a muzzle.

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Place one blueberry on each banana slice and add the other two blueberries just above the muzzle as eyes.

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Polar Bear Pudding Cup (Dessert, anyone?)

  • 1 vanilla pudding cup
  • 2 slices of banana
  • 2 chocolate chips
  • 1 HERSHEY’S KISS

Open a vanilla pudding cup.

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Place two slices of banana at the top of the cup for ears.

Place two chocolate chips upside down into the pudding below the banana slices as eyes.

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Place the HERSHEY’S KISS in the center of the pudding below the eyes as a nose.

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Eat up and enjoy!

 

 

Halloween Treats: Spider Snacks!

Looking for a spooktacular twist for your child’s Halloween snack? Try these tasty spider snacks!Spider Snacks 2

Ingredients:

  • Crackers
  • Cream Cheese
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Candy-coated chocolates
  1. Spread cream cheese on a cracker.
  2. Break  pretzel sticks in half and use as legs on each side of the cracker (two per side).
  3. Use small candy-coated chocolates for eyes and place on the cream cheese.
  4. Enjoy!

Mealtime Makeover!

Sometimes, putting together a tasty and nutritious meal for our families can be difficult. Here are some tips for making dinnertime with our energetic little ones easier. twenty20_57c6a417-0cc7-4440-8840-1ca2d86f5dc0

  1. Gather your children at the table and ask them to draw simple items that you will rate from 1 to 10. Give high numbers to boost their self-confidence. They will enjoy this game before dinner, and you will appreciate the calmness of your lively preschoolers.
  2. Explain what you are cooking and let them participate. Children may be more excited to eat the food if they help prepare it. Some age-appropriate tasks might include washing veggies, measuring ingredients and setting the table.
  3. For a fun activity, have them create artwork to be laminated and used as placemats for the table. Your little ones will enjoy sitting down to eat more when they see their own pictures included in the table setting.
  4. To encourage children to eat new foods, talk to them about the different shapes and colors of the food while they are eating it. This is a great way to converse with your children. For them, dinner may seem more like a game than a meal.

What are some other ways to encourage your little ones to eat at dinnertime?