Baby Block Painting

Painting with an infant is messy. I don’t like using paint brushes with tiny kids because paint flings everywhere, they look like spoons so they tend to go straight in the mouth and even ones with thicker handles are hard for little hands. Instead using easy to wash plastic toys like these blocks are a great way to paint and explore .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, paint, blocks, plastic plate, painter’s tape and an eager baby.
  2. Start by using the painter’s tape to secure the paper. This is a must for us, for whatever reason my daughter has a serious fondness for paper. This keeps it as art instead of food.
  3. Pour some paint on the plate.
  4. Dip the block in and go for it.
  5. She examined it for a long time.
  6. Then started moving it around the paper. I took the other block and tapped it on the paper but she wanted to roll . It’s tempting to show babies and toddlers how to do things by holding their hands in yours and moving them, resist that urge when it’s a free exploration like this . Show them by example and then just narrate what they are doing. *( ETA – reader Brooke asked for an explanation about this and I want to make it clear that it’s not wrong to help your child do tasks by holding their hands , I was referring to free art explorations like this. My reasoning being that by letting them explore with their own motivation that they will direct their own play. I hope that clears it up ! Thanks Brooke!)
  7. She managed to get it up to her mouth but because the blocks are big not much made it in and was easy to wipe off.

With toddlers and preschoolers you can make fun shape prints with the blocks by slamming it down so if you have multiple ages this is a fun easy project for a rainy day.

Board Books – Not Just For Teething

My daughter loves going to the library with my son and me . She sits happily in front of me while I crane my neck to the side and find books that I could use in a post, or the lone fire truck book we’ve never borrowed before. But her favorite part by far is when we get to the board books where she can grab, lift and chew. So today’s post are a review of 5 books she grabbed and yes chewed at the library . She’s got pretty good taste!

Jet-Set Babies Wear Wings by Michelle Sinclair Coleman is a cute book all about traveling babies that is really more for the adults reading it than the babies.  It’s cute and simple but not really simple enough for infants or toddlers to grasp why adults like this book. That said it’s so important to read to your baby that I think there is a great market for books like this. If parents like reading them, find them amusing they are more likely to read to their babies who are still too little to voice obvious opinions. My daughter thought it was tasty and I appreciated the white text on black pages , the high contrast was obviously attractive to my 6 month old. There are a ton of other books in this Urban Babies Wear Black Series


In My Tree by Sara Gillingham is such a sweet book I wish my daughter would let me read it to her . The book is all about a little owl and what that owl does in it’s tree. The novelty is that the pages have cut outs in them and the owl is a finger puppet that is in the middle of the cut outs . My daughter who at the moment is 6 months old, only wants to grab and try to bite the owl. Do not let this turn you off, it’s such a pretty little book and my 4 year old loved it. Perhaps when my daughter is done teething I will read it to her again!

Beddy-bye, Baby: A Touch-and-Feel Bookby Karen Katz is a cute bedtime book for the baby crowd.  I like the rhyming text and that it’s a feel and touch book  but with the exception of the final page the textured pieces are too small . Fumbly flappy infant hands have a a hard time hitting the small textured sections. Ideally they would be larger so the child can explore as the adult reads. It’s not a huge complaint and I love Karen Katz so I would still recommend this book for families with little ones.

The Busy Little Squirrelby Nancy Tafuri is a great book for babies and toddlers. The readers follow along with a squirrel as she gathers nuts , seeds and berries for the winter. As she hunts for her treasure she encounters many animals who all make their respective sounds and ask her to play, of course she is too busy and continues on.  Even though the idea is not groundbreaking  I like that this book can be used to introduce animal sounds without simply sitting down with let’s say flash cards and teaching them to your toddler. Even if you have no real animals near by books like this one are a great way to authentically teach very young kids.

Bye-Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick is a great book for toddlers who are anxious about separation.  It goes through drop off time at school between a little girl and her dad. When I worked in a childcare setting bye bye time was a huge source of anxiety for many students, books like this one are such great tools for parents and teachers. There are wonderful tips at the back that in my experience are all great advice. This book is just one of many by the same author that are all wonderful tools for families and classrooms. My favorite being Teeth Are Not for Biting and Words are Not for Hurting

Baby’s 1st Finger Painting

Infant activities are tough to come by but this was a hit and will be used again in our house for sure. When introducing your tiniest artist to colors and textures a great and safe way to do it is to use purees. No ingredients to worry about just plain veggie or fruit purees that they have already been eating . I don’t plan on packing this one away as a keepsake and would suggest taking a picture and not saving the creation! When my son was a toddler we did yogurt painting but my daughter is still too young for yogurt but toddlers love it!

  1. Gather your materials. I am using a plain white piece of construction paper so there is plenty of contrast. The puree I am using is sweet potato, thick, bright orange and easy to make. All I did was bake a sweet potato then puree it with a hand blender. Please be sure you are only using purees that you have previously introduced to your child and know they will not have adverse reactions to.
  2. Tape your paper down to a high chair tray or table.
  3. Add a small spoonful of puree on the paper. Let your baby explore.While my daughter played I focused on using the words squishy, orange and wet. There is no specific right way of doing this but narrating their exploration ( and their play) is great for verbal development . You might feel silly at first but before you know it you’ll be talking to them about everything and teaching them about a lot too!
  4. When your baby does this it’s time to take the activity away and move on to something else like singing, reading and our favorite dancing!

Remember with infants you must be extra vigilant and never leave an infant unsupervised with any activity. This is not an activity to occupy them so a caregiver can get something done, this is for caregiver and infant to explore together.

Great Book For Babies

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what’s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite! My daughter actually sits looking at these pages instead of simply trying to eat the book, which in my opinion is a great review from a 6 month old!

Baby’s 1st Sensory Tub

I made this sensory activity for my daughter about a week ago and it’s been used daily since. She loves it , the colors, the sounds the blocks make in the dish and the different shapes and textures too. When you are thinking of activities for infants you must consider safety first and remember things that older children may be bored to tears with will probably be perfectly stimulating  for an infant or young toddler. As always remember you must supervise your kids carefully, especially infants.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need  a dish shallow enough for little hands to reach in,baby blocks of different size and/or shape and color. Most of our blocks are hard with a few squeaky blocks mixed in. Make sure you are comfortable with your baby mouthing the contents as that is the main way infants explore and they are big enough not to pose a choking risk.
  2. Have a helper pop them in the dish for you.
  3. Play.
  4. She loves it. It’s loud especially if you have them in a high chair and a wood floor. Label the blocks for them as they hold them, but let them explore without narration too. This is why you need to be ok with them mouthing the contents, it’s developmentally appropriate and feels especially good on teething gums. If they are not interested or turn their heads avoiding looking at the tub , remove it. An overstimulated infant is no fun for them or you and if it’s too much that’s ok. Snuggle, sing, read or go for a quiet walk.

Handprint Christmas Tree {Baby’s 1st Christmas Craft}

hand print christmas tree

This handprint Christmas tree craft is a keeper. As you may imagine this was a very exciting day for us, the first time my daughter really got into the action with a project. Amazingly unlike her brother who ate the paint for over two years it didn’t even graze her lips. This kids craft can be done with any age with varying levels of adult involvement. I love how it turned out and this one will be packed away and saved for certain.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some heavy paper or paper grocery bag, a marker, green paint ( we added some glitter paint to ours too), construction paper, glue, scissors and paint tape.
  2. Start by cutting the bag  open and taping it down to the table. When you are crafting with a baby or toddler it’s going to be messy but you can take a few steps to help minimize it. By taping the paper you are using to the table as well as using a piece much larger than needed you avoid the paper and paint hitting the floor and protect your table.  Not to mention you also stop them from being able to grab the whole thing and trying to eat it.
  3. Trace their hand on a paper with the marker.
  4. Stack the other papers under and cut out.
  5. Draw the outline of a tree on the paper.  I did ours sideways so she could reach most of it for painting.
  6. Time to paint! Add the paint to the paper and let the baby spread it . What is this ?
  7. “Ooh I like it” Remember to narrate what they are doing. ” You are painting the tree, you are painting with green. Do you like it? Is it squishy?” Yes you might feel a little foolish but trust me it’s important.  You are teaching them even when they are too young to respond in ways we recognize.
  8. I had to take her out of her seat and dangle her over the table to reach the other side. She loved this. Obviously I have no picture …
  9. Clean baby up and place in the exersaucer. I had 2 baby wipes on hand to wipe her hands. I find they work on paint better than anything, then a wash cloth with warm water cleaned her right up.
  10. Add glue to the tree.
  11. Add the hand print cut outs. Let dry.
  12. Cut out .

Books


Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman arrived on my door step a few months ago sent to me by the publisher for review. It is a really fun and educational book. The book is a new spin on the old song ” Ten in A Bed” but instead of squeezing onto a bed these cold weather animals pile on and off the sled one at a time. What is wonderful from an educational sense is not just the obvious counting element but as each animal exists the sled the verb used for each animal begins with the same letter as the animal does. This was fantastic for my son who wanted to sound every animal and verb out.  Add a fun rhyming sing song text and this is a great option for a holiday gift.

SantaKid by James Patterson is a favorite library book in our house this year . My son inherited his love and curiosity of the inner workings of the North Pole from me and this book feeds that wonder. It also taps into something preschoolers are often seeking, power and a voice that gets heard. In the story Santa’s daughter saves the North Pole and Christmas from a corporate take over. I liked this book, and my son did too. It doesn’t focus on the religious celebration but rather on Santa and it doesn’t take a very sophisticated kid to know it’s make believe, 3 pages in my son said ” Mommy, this is a made up story right? Santa isn’t a regular Daddy, that’s silly!”  What it does is focuses on giving kids power to save something. Maybe it’s just my 4 year old but he spends all day pretending to save the day and this book spoke right to that desire to be powerful and good!

Olive, the Other Reindeer.by Vivian Walsh is probably familiar to you if not because of the book, maybe the TV special starring Drew Barrymore as the voice of Olive. If it’s new to you the story is simple, Olive is a little dog who after hearing a Christmas carol believes she is one of Santa’s reindeer . She journey’s to the North Pole and even though she can’t fly and is just a dog she saves the day . I love the vibrant and busy illustrations by J. Otto Seibold and Olive’s childlike innocence.  There is a reason this book has exploded into a character driven product, it’s cute and we can all relate to wanting to get to ride with Santa and his crew on Christmas Eve.