Super foods for toddlers

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I’m super exited to introduce you to Ashley, from Ashley’s Health blog, who is guest posting here today, with her great post on super foods for toddlers:

Being a parent brings on a whole variety of challenges, challenges that feel impossible to handle. It’s not easy to admit, but these challenges secretly make parenting such a valuable, rewarding experience. If you haven’t had kids yet, don’t worry it will be a thrill of a lifetime and you won’t regret it !

One big challenge that I’ve personally recognized, that’s a common struggle among parents, is getting  kids to eat healthy. Nutrition at the toddler stage plays a significant role in their development.  Some parents get that, and that’s why it’s truly challenging when children don’t want to have anything to do, with good and healthy food.

I know most children hate veggies. It’s a significant challenge to get kids to eat them. It doesn’t even matter if you hide the vegetables in other foods; kids just seem to smell them out and avoid them like the plague.

Sure, veggies are an acquired taste, but they’re packed with vitamins and nutrients that kids need, in order to grow healthy and strong. Therefore, the best way to give toddlers what they need is through superfoods, which disguise their benefits in a yummy taste.

1. Goji Berries.
Serve goji berries as an anytime snack. They have a sweet taste that kids love, and are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. It’s not a small amount of antioxidants either, they’re are packed with antioxidants. With the technology available now, to check antioxidant level, I was amazed on how powerful goji berries were with increasing antioxidant levels. These antioxidants will build your child’s immune system. Goji berries also have tiny seeds hidden inside that offer extra fiber for toddlers.

2. Blueberries.
Blueberries contain rich antioxidants, and research suggests they help improve brain function. Serve them as a snack, or blend them together with water and freeze them for an afternoon blueberry ice pop. Many companies are creating snack foods with dried blueberries in them and I know my kids love them.

3. Tomatoes.
Kids pick tomatoes off their burgers, but they might not know that tomatoes are the main ingredient in pasta sauce. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which may help protect against many illnesses. Tomatoes can be an acquired taste, so for some toddlers it can be tough for them to consume. My big recommendation with tomatoes is to stay away from ketchups that are high in refined sugar. There are ketchups and pasta sauces that have no refined sugar in them and they’re really good. It’s good to get your toddler started on healthy tomato items.

4. Oatmeal.
Oatmeal with a little honey starts any breakfast right. It’s a fiber-rich grain, which digests slowly and gives your toddler plenty of energy through the morning. Granola also contains oats and makes a good snack when it’s combined with raisins, goji berries and nuts. Oatmeal is incredibly good for you. The problem is that food companies have killed the nutritional value of oatmeal. Once people buy the processed and sugared up oatmeal, they end up adding more sugared up processed ingredients to it, which ends up killing all of the value oatmeal really offers. Get your child started on really healthy natural oatmeal and it may surprise you how much happier your child will be.

5. Fruit.
Fruit of any type contains loads of vitamins and minerals for growing toddlers. Instead of chips and candy bars, replace them with berries, melon balls and apple slices. Fruit also contains fiber and keeps toddlers regular. If your budget doesn’t allow loads of fruit, opt for frozen fruits, which also make good snacks for total rehydration.

6. Sunflower Seeds.
Sunflower seeds have to be the most underrated, or least talked about superfood. These seeds are packed with valuable nutrients and antioxidants. The best part though is that kids love them to snack on. They work well for a small pre-meal snack because they aren’t going to make your toddler full. The vitamin E is what makes these seeds worth it. Watch out for the salted seeds, because thigh levels of sodium naturally kills the value these seeds offer.

7. Cocoa Powder or Dark Chocolate.
Kids can have their chocolate and enjoy it, thanks to cocoa powder’s benefits. Cocoa powder contains a high amount of flavonoids, which are known to improve heart and oral health. Some studies suggest, that they also protect skin from sun damage. Avoid processed cocoa powder that removes the flavonoids and contains more sugar. Kids can get addicted to milk chocolate, so it’s better to get them used to dark chocolate. When they want candy at the store, get them the darkest chocolate and it will impact their life for the positive. Opt for at least 70 percent cocoa powder or dark chocolate.

Other superfoods that toddlers could benefit from include broccoli, sweet potatoes and avocados. Shredding these foods and placing them in casseroles, burritos and salsas is a great way to hide them all, and still give your toddler foods that benefit their growing bodies.

If you’ve been having any troubles with getting your child to eat healthy, hopefully this helps. These are also really good health rules, that I believe parents should understand, if they’re trying to help their children eat healthier.

About the Author : Ashley Erikson.

I’m a happy mom of three healthy boys. They’ve taught me many valuable lessons over the past ten years and it’s been a roller coaster that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I started off my career as a physical trainer but recently I have begun my journey as a nutritionist. You can view my thoughts, and website at AshleysHealth.com

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Rainy day toddler activity : paper roll animals

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Even thought it’s summer, we still had couple of rainy days. I know, we could still go outside and look for snails and frogs, but somehow I didn’t really fell like it ;). Instead I took out from recycling some toilet paper rolls, paint and plastic eyes from dollar store.
And we got dirty with paint, our hands got sticky with glue, and we didn’t even notice when lunch time arrived :). If you would like to make one of these creations here is what you’ll need :

Toilet paper rolls
Paint
Glue
Plastic goggly eyes
Scissors

Start by painting paper rolls. I wanted one black, one white and two colourful, but they turned out kind of mixed. And I think it’s just fine :). My daughter wanted me to paint face on to some of them, so I did a squirrel and a dog ( or a rabbit, you choose ).

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Cut stripes of paper roll for ears, and little triangles and half circles – they will make for a nose and paws:

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Let your toddler glue the eyes,ears, nose and paws.

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Now, are you ready for some role play ? Have fun with these ! 🙂

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Linked to :
http://craftdictator.com/2014/06/26/craft-frenzy-friday-45/

Why you should go camping with kids

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Believe it or not, I’m no camping lover. I’m a city girl, who loves her comfort and hates bugs and public washrooms. Between you and me, my definition of perfect family vacation is in an all inclusive hotel by the sea! Why then I state that you should go camping ? Because I believe that sometimes comfort is much less important, especially when it comes to raising smart and sensitive children. And going camping will help you achieving that goal, here is how :

1. Reconnecting with each other.
When there is no distraction like house to clean, emails to be checked or a tv show to watch, we can actually concentrate on each other. I think it’s especially important for our children, that are born in the internet era to learn how to slow down and appreciate the presence of the close ones.

2. Respecting the resources.
When you have to get the water for cooking and washing the dishes in a pot that you carry all the way to your camp site, it makes you more careful when you use it. You don’t waste water when you know you need to go get it yourself. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to older kids about how many people in the world live with out fresh water at home, and how many children are responsible for fetching the water every day.

3. Learning to play with anything that’s not a toy.
Honestly I was tempted to buy a bunch of dollar store toys to keep my two and a half year old busy. But I decided to take only 3 of her stuffed animals and see if I can encourage her to play with natural elements found on the camp site. And guess what. On the first day she was turning around not really sure what to do. On the second she was playing alone with sticks pretending that they are her dolls, and that rocks where the food. Success!

4. Understanding the nature.
It’s great to show to kids the real habitat of animals, to watch birds and bugs going on with there lives, to teach your child to respect them all. In national parks you are asked not to pick any branches or flowers, and that’s a great opportunity to explain the delicate balance in nature that we tend too often to break.

5. Fighting your fears.
The fear of the dark woods, the fear of spiders or the fear of bugs. By being exposed to all of the above your children are less likely to develop these fears, as they will consider them as a normal part if everyday life.

6. Learning a healthy lifestyle.
I assume that while at camping you don’t eat fast food, but you cook simple dishes and you walk or bike. There is no TV or video games. I dare you to leave your iPad at home. Hike and enjoy the nature. Let city kids learn to spend all day outside. It will pay back in the future.

7. Being grateful for what we have.
It’s great to realize how comfortable our life is.
At home we have hot water, we have heating, comfortable beds, toilets, toys and many objects that make our lives easier. But in the end we can do without all of the objects that surround us in our everyday lives. Camping is a great reminder of that.

Linked to :http://mypinterventures.com/merry-monday-linky-party-8-new-party-host/. http://www.artsyfartsymama.com/2014/06/artsy-corner-link-party-4.html#more

Foam spring flowers

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My two and a half years old daughter really loves this kind of crafts; she gets to glue things and make funny faces. I loved this craft because it was simple and there was no sticky and dirty stuff to clean afterwards :). So it’s a win-win acctivity ! And it makes for a cute kids room spring decoration.

Foam sheets
Pipe cleaners
Plastic eyes
Glue

Start by cutting a flower shape out of a foam sheet, and then pierce the pipe cleaner through the centre of the flower:

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Make a loop, so it holds better :

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Now it’s time to glue eyes and mouth (made from a piece of a pipe cleaner):

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Have fun making yours!

Toddler activity : sorting shapes and colours

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Here is an easy way to entertain a toddler. Let them sort 🙂 . All you need is paper, crayons and scissors . I cut my little triangles and squares from foam sheets , they are resistant and easily reusable. But if you don’t have any than paper will do as well.
My little one was sorting yellow and red triangles and squares, although you can make them sort any other shapes that you fancy cutting and drowning. I also tried cutting circles but after two that looked like eggs I gave up 🙂 . She was very glad sorting her shapes anyway . 🙂

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How to travel with a toddler

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When we first travelled overseas with our daughter she was almost two years old (21 months to be exact). Honestly I imagined it would be extremely difficult, and I anticipated that we would be managing tantrums on the plane, struggling to put her to sleep in the hotel and generally dealing with her out of balance behavior. But there was no tantrums on the planes ( and we took 5! ) buses nor bouts. She was easy. Surprisingly easy, and happy.
I guess it’s a bit thanks to our great parenting skills ;). And a bit thanks to these five strategies :

1. Sticking to routine :
Yes, even on vacation, going from one place to another, sightseeing and visiting family and friends we stuck to our normal routine.
Lunch at normal time, whenever we where, and nap just after lunch, in the room, on the bus, in the stroller, or plane. What was important , was to give her a clear sign that now she can relax, drink her milk, cuddle her favorite toy and sleep.
Diner at usual time. And bath ( or shower) followed by night time just like at home.
Sure we didn’t go much at night, and where a bit less spontaneous then usual on vacation, but in the end we had an easygoing, happy and relaxed toddler, so I think sticking to routine was really worth it.

2. Carrying toys around :
We where always carrying around her little backpack with crayons, puzzles, Elmo colouring pages and little dollar store toys and stickers, so she would be patient at the table in the restaurant. We never let her play with these stuff outside the restaurants or plane so she always fund them interesting. If you would like to get some Sesame Street coloring pages for free, you can get them here : http://pbskids.org/sesame/art/

3. Dealing with out chaining tables and high chairs:
Although places we went where generally children friendly, a lot of times there where no high chairs or changing tables. So we carried only the slip-on dippers, to facilitate the changing process.
And to deal with a lack of high chairs I asked my aunt to make me a slip on carry-on chair slip cover (you can also find them in etsy), that we would use all the time to keep her attached to normal chair. Coupled with these giant, genus IKEA bibs :http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/70179754/ that cover everything, meal time was easy, no fuss and no mess.

4. Finding time to run and play:
After time spend attached, or sitting on the plane/bus/stroller/bout we alvays give her time to run and play, either on a playground, beach or just by simply finding safe pedestrian streets or squares and telling her to run. One of us would be then running with her till she had no more energy.

5. Medicaments :
Just in case, I had some stuff for temperature, diarrhea, and cough. It made me feel safe. But what really helped us was the drug for sea sickness, Gravol kids, so every time we would be taking a longer drive in the bus/car or on the bout she would get some, and then not only there was no stress of her vomiting all over the place, but she would also had a nice long nap 😉 Yes , I do feel I’m a terrible mother.

So that was it. Let me know if you have some more tips on how to travel with a small child and I’m sure to try them next time 🙂