15 Things to Do with Kids on Rainy Days

Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers

Ah, not rain again! Finding things to do with kids on rainy days isn’t always easy, especially if the showers keep on coming. Gloomy days can put a major damper on your plans. You’ll have to think twice if you had hoped to do something outside, like go to the beach or go for a hike. When making plans with toddlers, rainy days can be especially problematic. If you are unprepared, many toddlers won’t understand why they can’t still do whatever activities you originally planned together. A thoughtful conversation can help. Thankfully, you can still find a variety of fun and memorable rainy day activities to enjoy with your little one. Consider these suggestions for fun rainy day things to do with toddlers age one and up.

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Creative Food Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters

IMAG4237My daughter is not even two yet and I feel like she barely eats anything. If it weren’t for pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and cream cheese bagels, I don’t think the poor girl would eat! Don’t get me wrong, she likes fruit and will try the occasional chicken tenders and other foods, but it’s never a “sure thing,” if you know what I mean. I often feel like our fridge is jam-packed with food in the hopes that she will actually eat SOMETHING. Then, inevitably, we end up throwing twice as much stuff out as we would before now. It’s frustrating to feel so wasteful!

I struggle with this every day. The pediatrician’s office had me all flustered when she fell from the 10th percentile or so down to third percentile for weight and fourth for height. She is a tiny little thing, but so cute and very healthy – not really a major concern. I’m not tall myself, so she likely got my genes as far as height and body type. Still, the doctor’s office got me so worried before that I have desperately been trying to get her to eat as much as possible, whenever possible.

Sometimes I bribe her, sometimes I just keep trying new things, other times I cycle through the few things I know she does like. We have occasional success with fish or fish sticks, pasta, and pretty good success with pizza. I have tried to creatively make special things for her to enjoy while still getting essential nutrients, and most times, have failed miserably. For example, my parmesan broccoli fritters looked and smelled (and even tasted) delicious when warm, but once cool enough for a baby’s palate, all bets were off. She didn’t even see the green of the broccoli that I popped in her mouth and still spit it out.

So, out of desperation in my own quest to get my child to eat more, I have decided to make a list of my most successful tips. I’d be thrilled if you can share any of your own tips in the comments so I can add them to the article and try them myself with N. Here’s my top list of tricks to get a toddler to eat more:

  1. Try to avoid letting them fill up on milk, water, juice, or whatever they are drinking. Keep their beverages out of site at first, at least until they get a little food in their belly.
  2. Offer different kinds of snacks often. We rotate through cereal, crackers, goldfish, dried fruit, fresh fruit, bagels, muffins, and other snacks.
  3. Sneak food into their mouths as they are feeding themselves. At this toddler phase, kids will never be as efficient at feeding themselves as you would be. Unfortunately, it seems they may also not be as agreeable to you doing the work as they once were. Sneak in what you can and allow them to have control over at least some of their food.
  4. Encourage your child and praise him or her for eating well. Use a tone that is fun and exciting, expressing how proud you are of their efforts.
  5. Consider bargaining if appropriate. It may not be a practice you want to do all the time, but bargaining can be instrumental in getting your child to try new things or to eat in greater quantity.
  6. Try different settings to give your child variety. The high chair gets old after a while. If you can pull your child’s chair up to the kitchen table without the tray, that could be a suitable alternative. I’ve also seen great success with the portable booster chairs for toddlers and even just letting them run around and pick food pieces up from a TV tray or table.
  7. Have a [willing] family member or guest offer your child their snacks or meals. I have seen more success with my daughter eating snacks she gets from someone new and exciting than from offering what we keep in the cabinets.
  8. And finally, my favorite tip of all – Disguise food as something they love. Create cute animal shapes with the food or use cookie cutters, food molds, or pancake and egg shapes to give your kid a more entertaining, more enjoyable option when it comes to eating the same foods day after day.

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If you have other tips and ideas to get your toddler to be a better eater, please share them in our comments below! You may think your tip or suggestion seems basic, but to someone else it could be a godsend.

Summer Roundup: Sunscreen Products for Babies and Kids

second-kid-promoProtecting your little ones’ skin is so important, especially when it comes to the summer sun. You probably know from personal experience how painful sunburn can be, and you might even know someone who had to deal with skin cancer. Despite how much of a nuisance it can be to apply sunscreen to your children every time you go out in the sun, it really IS that important. You don’t want them to get sunburn or to have problems later in life, so you can feel good taking the time to apply sunscreen thoroughly before each exposure.

With a one-year-old of my own and a few trips already planned to the beach, I knew I had to scope out the best sunscreen products for little ones this summer. I have a few adult sunscreen products I like for myself, but I didn’t know where to start as far as baby sunscreen and kid sunscreen.

I was fortunate to receive a few sample products for the purpose of my review, including: Banana Boat Kids Lotion Mist SPF50, Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF50, COOLA Baby SPF50 Unscented Mineral Sunscreen, and VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Baby 50+ Full-Spectrum, Water-Resistant Physical Sun + Light Screen for Infants, Children + Adults.

Banana Boat makes a ton of products for sun care needs. I found the Banana Boat Kids Tear Free Sting Free SPF50 Continuous Spray Sunscreen to be very easy to apply and extremely effective. We had no issues with this sunscreen aside from it getting a bit clogged once it was more than halfway gone, and the clear spray came out instead of the lotion spray. I’m thinking it’s not empty yet, but I have yet to figure out how to get it unclogged. (If you know how, please leave a comment as I’m sure I am not the only person this has happened to!)

This sunscreen product for kids did not irritate my daughter’s skin, and my husband and I tried it out as well and enjoyed the ease of use, even if we had just gotten out of the ocean. This product provides protection against UVA and UVB rays and lasts quite a while—water resistant up to 80 minutes. I have used it at the beach, the pool, jogging in my neighborhood, and in my own backyard, and my daughter’s fared well each time.

Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (10%), Octisalate (5%), and Octocrylene (6%).

The Banana Boat Natural Reflect SPF50 Baby Sunscreen Lotion is made from 100% naturally sourced sunscreens and zinc oxide, contains no parabens, and is PABA free. It’s packaging says it is as mild as water and also tear free and sting free. It smoothes on like regular sunscreen, not the spray kind. This sunscreen was pretty thick to massage in, but it ended up being super water resistant and extremely effective. I loved using it in her baby pool and before we went to the beach.

I like this natural product quite a bit, but we did determine that our daughter was having some mild skin reactions to something in this product. She’s had baby eczema and other skin sensitivities, so despite this one being a natural choice, it did not work out best for her skin type. That’s not to say it would cause your baby any skin issues—every baby’s skin is different and reacts differently to products and the environment around them.

Active ingredients include Titanium Dioxide (3.6%) and Zinc Oxide (4%).

Banana Boat also offers countless products for adults and even more options for kids, like Kids SPF50 Long Lasting UVA UVB Broad Spectrum Sunscreen and Natural Reflect Kids SPF50+ Sunscreen Lotion to name just a few. For more information on Banana Boat products, please check out www.bananaboat.com.

COOLA Baby SPF50 Unscented Mineral Sunscreen comes in a really cool aqua-blue container with a white cap. The sleek packaging holds a thin, very spreadable liquid sunscreen that smoothes onto baby’s skin lickety-split. COOLA sunscreen has a certified organic formula that also moisturizes the skin and offers environmental protection. Zero chemicals and absolutely no preservatives are included, but you will find great ingredients like sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, cocoa butter, Shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and even organic avocado.

This baby mineral sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and I really liked using this product on my daughter’s face, ears, and neck, based on how easy it was to spread across her skin. Once done, I have to admit, I had that “chalky” feeling where I wanted to quickly wash the remaining residue off my hands, since they were still a bit oily and slick. Our bottle is leaking a bit through the cap, maybe because it is so liquidy, so be careful and think about keeping any opened bottles inside a ziplock bag just in case.

Active ingredients include Titanium Dioxide (7.6%) and Zinc Oxide (6.8%).

For more information on COOLA products, check out www.coolasuncare.com.

Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam SPF 75+ is another option you can try in keeping your little ones’ skin safe from the sun. I heard about this foaming sunscreen for kids when my nephew came to visit for a cousins’ play date and baby pool party. I decided to pick up my own bottle the next time I was in a CVS and I think this might be one of my favorite finds for fast application in a format that kids find to be fun and engaging. It definitely seemed easier to apply than some of the others when my daughter decided to squirm around. I think the foaming design is clever and the sun block seemed to absorb readily into my daughter’s sensitive skin.

This product retails for around $8 to $12 and unfortunately, I picked it up on the more expensive end of that scale. However, I am very happy with the results and the product itself. This foaming sunscreen lotion is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and it is dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, and PABA-free.

Active ingredients include Avobenzone (3%), Homosalate (15%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (10%), and Oxybenzone (6%).

For more information on Coppertone products, check out www.coppertone.com.

VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Baby 50+ Full-Spectrum, Water-Resistant Sunscreen offers very high UVA/UVB protection that is designed especially for infants’ delicate skin. This product contains monolaurin as an antibacterial disinfecting agent and also contains green tea as an antioxidant. Product packaging advises to reapply every one to two hours or as needed, for example after being in the water, toweling off, or playing.

Made in the Philippines, this product comes in a handy jar that is 1.76 oz of gentle yet effective formula—100% fragrance-free, 100% PABA-Preservative-Phthalate-free, and clinically tested, and deemed acceptable for all skin types, including infants, babies, children, men, and women, even those sensitive to chemical sunscreens.

Active ingredients include Titanium Dioxide (15%) and Zinc Oxide (15%).

For more information, check out www.vmvhypoallergenics.com.

What is your favorite sunscreen product for your baby, toddler, or young child? Please share in our comments below.

Disclosure: LifeLoveBeauty received sample sunscreen products for the purpose of this review. The opinions in this post are my own honest experiences and not influenced in any way. Individual experiences may vary.

 

Recipe: Homemade Brownie Pudding Pops, Full-Size or in Dixie Cups

zoku-pops-ss

Summertime rolls around and frozen treats become the perfect pastime. Make yummy frozen desserts to enjoy with your kids, family, friends, and loved ones, and this will also become a fond memory of the warmer seasons. Making homemade pudding pops doesn’t cost a lot and also doesn’t take much time. It also allows you to be creative with the ingredients, mixing in your favorite things for a yummy treat you can enjoy as a snack or as dessert any time.

I am a sucker for brownies, so I wanted to make a frozen treat that incorporated tiny pieces of brownie and of course, chocolate and fresh strawberries. Are you hungry yet? If so, keep reading – you will find this recipe fairly simple and fun!

Homemade Strawberry and Brownie Pudding Pops
In Dixie cups, these yummy treats are the perfect size for the kids or a modest dessert for adults of all ages. You can also use the Zoku™ Quick Pop™ Maker for a full-sized treat.

Mix up your favorite flavors and experiment with different combinations to see what you like best!

dixie-pudding-pops Ingredients:

Strawberry layer
3/4 cup fresh-cut strawberries
2 tsp Honey
1/8 tsp Vanilla extract
3/4 tsp water

Pudding base
1 8-oz package Chocolate or Vanilla Instant Pudding (plus required ingredients on pudding packet)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) whole or 2% milk
1 and 1/2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp Vanilla extract

Other:
One or two brownies, broken into pieces
Sliced strawberries
Dixie cups
Mini popsicle sticks
Instructions:

  1. Create the strawberry sauce by combining strawberries and water in a food processor.
  2. Move to measuring cup and add in honey and vanilla.
  3. Set aside.
  4. Mix together all the ingredients for the pudding base.
  5. Starting with the pudding base, layer ingredients as desired into little Dixie cups. Add in slices of strawberries or bits/chunks of brownie as you go. When the cup is about 3/4 full, add in a popsicle stick if desired.
  6. Put brownie crumbles atop any remaining pudding or fruit layers around the stick.
  7. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours but possibly longer.
  8. Enjoy!

pops_2281I adapted my recipe from a great book of popsicle recipes entitled Zoku Quick Pops, for use with the Zoku™ Quick Pop™ Maker. We have the pop maker and I actually did use it to make these very same pops. We noticed the ingredients ended up being a bit thick for the pop maker, but it was also our first attempt, so I’m looking forward to giving it a shot with a different recipe, perhaps a more juice-based pop recipe.

We had some leftover pudding, strawberries, brownies, and strawberry sauce, along with some bananas, so we made the rest of the batch into the Dixie cups version of pudding pops. It worked out great and I look forward to doing this together with my little girl when she is old enough to enjoy it.

Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover Review

Puj Spout CoverThe older my daughter gets, the more she loves bath time and playing in the water. Now that she’s been crawling and pulling herself up to stand, we’ve taken extra measures to ensure her safety and to protect her from potential mishaps. Bath time is no different – we have a soft foam spout cover for our bathtub to protect our baby from injury. We received a sample of the Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover free of charge for the purpose of review.

The Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover is made of a soft, durable, high quality EVA foam material that is protective and forgiving. The one we received is a pretty green color and all Puj made of 100% reclaimed material, making this product a nice choice in favor of green living. This spout cover is shaped like an adorable elephant whose trunk hangs down over the spout to protect baby’s delicate head and skin from bumps and scrapes.

The Puj spout cover is very easy to install onto the bathtub’s spigot and it has a hole at the top to allow you to adjust the shower and water settings. The foam is very easy to clean, yet it seems to stay relatively dry and clean on its own. A good wipe and rinse every so often keeps it clean and hygienic.

I did not notice any unusual odors or anything that could be considered a “con.” This spout cover took only seconds to fit over the spout, and I highly recommend it.

You can find this product in a pretty green (Kiwi) or blue color (Aqua), and also in white. The Puj Snug Ultra Soft Spout Cover retails for around $9.99 to $15 at Puj.com, Amazon.com, Diapers.com, BabyEarth, AlbeeBaby.com, and Newegg.com, to name a few. For additional information on this and other Puj products, check out www.puj.com.

Easter Egg Hunts for Toddlers and Older Babies

baby easter egg huntEaster brings a bunch of fun traditions for little ones, from dyeing eggs to pictures with the Easter bunny, decorating the home with bunnies and baskets, and of course, the annual Easter egg hunt. Even toddlers can participate in an Easter egg hunt, as long as the eggs and prizes are sized appropriately. My daughter is going to be just about 11 months when Easter arrives this year, so I am planning to do a little Easter egg hunt for her. She’s an older baby and I really think she will enjoy crawling around and opening up the eggs if she can figure it out!

Easter egg hunts for toddlers and older babies may be a bit different than your average plastic egg hunt for kids of any age. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan a fun Easter egg hunt for your baby or toddler.

· Be vigilant about choking hazards and include only appropriate prizes in the plastic eggs.

Baby and Toddler Easter Egg Hunt· Still keep a close watch on your baby or toddler, even if you think the prizes are safe.

· Look for jumbo eggs that are way bigger than standard plastic eggs. You can fit much bigger prizes inside these eggs!

· Think about small (but not too small) prizes that you can pop into the eggs to entertain your little one.

· Remember that less is more. At this age, your older infant or toddler will likely be amused and delighted to play this fun egg hunt game with all the bright colors and surprises, but don’t be surprised or disappointed if he or she loses interest before you do.

· Hide the eggs in obvious places where your baby or tot can crawl over and easily get a hold of the plastic egg.

· If your child doesn’t pick up on the purpose of the game right away, help him by opening p one of the plastic Easter eggs to reveal a fun prize! Play with the prize or offer it to your little one to get him excited.

· Even if you don’t have the greatest prizes for your baby, you can still have a lot of fun introducing her to an Easter egg hunt. Make it a fun game, spinning the eggs, dropping them a short distance, or letting them roll down your arm.

· Consider fun and age-appropriate “prizes” inside the eggs, like Puffs (baby cereal pieces), cute animal finger puppets, or little bath toys, for starters. These are my current prizes of choice for our daughter’s first Easter.

In all the excitement of your son’s or daughter’s first Easter egg hunt as a toddler or older infant, don’t forget to snap a few pictures! Have fun playing together and get some good shots of your little sweetie picking up the plastic eggs. (And be sure to send a copy of your favorite photo to all the grandparents or aunts and uncles who couldn’t be there to celebrate with you!)

© Danieldupuis | © Aberenyi | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images, respectively