At Swami Mommi, we’re always inspired by family, creativity and our own “We Can Do It” spunk. Telling our family and friends that we love them offers us the challenge to include as many people as we can in a fun way! These little darlings deliver love to kids of all ages, and adults too! Let’s let these cute lovebirds do our bidding, shall we?
Supplies For This Craft:
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Making Your Pom-Pom Love Birds
Step One : Select the medium size pom-pom maker. Open one side and begin winding yarn around the legs. Once the entire side is wound with yarn, cut off the yarn from the yarn ball. Then do the same on the other side of the pom-pom maker.
Step two: Now cut the yarn on each side of the pom-pom maker as shown. Don’t pull any yarn out, until you use the thread to tie it around the pom-pom maker to secure the yarn into a ball. Once secure, pull the pom-pom maker apart and your ball will appear completed! Trim off any unruly pieces of yarn that don’t make the ball look good, but make sure to keep the thread intact as you will use the full length.
Step Three: Draw a heart on pretty cardstock paper of your choice. Cut it out and then cut out a small dividing line between the lobes (these will be your birdy’s feet). Don’t cut all the way through, but just enough to string the upholstery thread through from the pom-pom, and tape on the back.
Step Four: Cut out a small square of cardstock. Fold the square in half and trim a bit to make a cute little beak. Glue it onto the pom-pom, and then glue on the wiggly eyes.
Step Five: Cut a long strip of cardstock for the love note. Leave enough space at the end of the strip for the pom-pom bird to be glued onto it. On the space that’s left on the paper, write a Love Note!!
Step Six: Pick 3 of your favorite colored feathers. Arrange them behind the eyes or in the back of the bird as desired, and then glue them in place.
Last Step: The very best part! Give your Pom-Pom Lovebird to someone you love! Have a safe and very happy Valentine’s Day! <3 <3 <3
So you come home with your new beautiful baby with no instruction manual. It seems there is a new challenge everyday, and you just don’t have any idea how well you are doing as a new parent. Doesn’t seem fair does it? Especially, because you would like to be the best parent ever, since you love your little darling so much.
But the good news is that developmental milestones are the markers we can use to see if we are parenting well! So there is a way to make sure we are giving our kids what they need. Just no one told us!
The closest thing we have to seeing how well we are fairing, from a developmental perspective, are developmental milestones. A sort of “Developmental Report Card” for the parents. The reason I say “for the parents”, is because if parents make good choices for their babies and kids, then babies and kids flourish. If they don’t make good choices for their babies, then there are “developmental gaps”, as well as a whole bunch of bad behaviors.
By checking in with developmental milestones from the beginning of your child’s life, you can see if your baby is progressing in gaining the skills they need. Milestones are not an exact science and every child is different, but you will start to see patterns in your child’s development if you pay attention. You will find ways to adjust or support you babies environment so they flourish. As they grow older you can keep an eye on their development as well.
Working in developmental for 17 years, I have seen more than my share of parents who have differing levels of concern for their child’s development, with some too busy, too inattentive, or to self absorbed to check in on their own parenting skills. But by an large, most parents do care.
The plot thickens when we realize that as parents, we can’t see our own maladaptive patterns and how they are affecting our own kids. To ward off habits like getting over busy, spending too much time on our devices, and neglecting our own emotional health and self care as parents, we can use milestones to guide us back onto a path of wellness for our whole family.
Paying Attention To Our Parenting Choices
Mindfulness is of course important because it allows parents to focus. Spending just a few minutes each week looking at a milestone guide can give you the edge in keeping your kids on track.
Non-Judgement is also important here. You look, watch, take data, and report. No judgement. No “I am so wrong”, or “I totally messed this one up”. You look, see, and take data. AND make adjustments accordingly.
Finally, by comparing your data to Developmental Milestones, you get a score. Not a grade, just a score.
Did your data match the developmental milestones? Is your baby meeting the benchmarks, to a greater or lesser degree? Or are they not even near the developmental milestone benchmarks.
Where do Developmental Milestones Come From?
Developmental milestones are taken from objective observation of literally thousands of babies. Usually, they are taken by university professors, as part of scientific studies, or by clinical therapists. They are the “average” markers for child development, guiding parents to get an idea of what average skill development looks like so their children can do good work in school, behave in the community, etc.
It is very possible that your baby or child may be ahead of average in some areas, right about average for other skills, and a bit behind in a few areas. But what if there are several areas of development that are lagging behind?
It’s time for change. Refocus. Make sure you are giving you kids the developmental experiences they need. Asking a friend, hiring a therapist, or researching online for activities and care ideas would be the recommendation.
Looking at your child’s development can be helpful for future skill attainment. Early detection is key!
Will Developmental Milestones Help My Kids?
Yes! I have used this approach with success. For example, I noticed that my own children were on the lower end of size developmental milestones, being little “peanuts” as I so lovingly call them. We didn’t worry because growth was consistent and within normal. But when I noticed that my 10 months old baby was not sleeping through the night when the average baby was sleeping through the night, I changed what I was doing. We set more structure, kept her up a bit more during the day, built in more social time, and got a noise machine for her to sleep with. With those changes, our little baby became a serious snoozer!
I have seen the same changes make a difference in my work as a therapist. Giving parents ideas for changes at home make a difference. The kids most often grew in skills more rapidly when the developmental milestones charts were used.
Mommi’s Developmental Milestone Guide
Without a therapist, it’s hard to know where to get a good Milestone guide. So I’m going to share with you the development guides I use in my therapy practice. These are the highest quality guides you can use. They are statistically proven to show what a child needs to know. They allow progress to also be shown statistically.
All you really need is to keep this guide somewhere close and where you will remember to refer to it. Printing our works the best. I really suggest you put it up in your home. Our devices might provide an alarm or reminder to check in with the development guide each week too.
Once you know what you need to be working on with your child, just search around for some great activity ideas. I use Pinterest, but find I often forget hours later what I found online. I really like to use books from the library and write lists of what I plan on working on each week. Usually 1 or 2 activities added in to our buys schedule keeps me moving in the right direction for helping my kids gain new skills at home. In therapy, I usually have about 5 activities per week I am working on with each child.
The areas below are the most prominent developmental areas to look at with your child. Take a look. Make a list. Have of a goal of doing activities with you kids. It will make a difference. AND you can feel like you are parenting well!
Basic Developmental Milestone Categories Include:
Fine Motor Development
Gross Motor Development
Emotion Development/ Emotional Regulation
Symbol Use for Letters And Numbers:
Reading Skills and Comprehension
note ** I should note that some children do have specific conditions that warrant therapy, and it is always good to check with a therapist if you feel as a parent your child may have a specific problem. However, this article is targeted at developing kids without congenital difficulties or a developmental diagnosis.
This list is just the beginning of getting to understand you kids development. Below are some links to more detailed developmental information from the best therapists I have found who are writing about the topic of developmental milestones.
Detailed List of Resources for Developmental Milestones
Oktoberfest parties can be fun for kids, and a time for them to eat well and try new foods. My family proved it can be done!
So many families enjoy the sights and sounds of Fall. It’s colorful, cozy and most of all FULL of candy and sweets. Besides candy and pumpkin specialty sweets, how can we get our kids to eat a decent meal when they are flooded with creepy, gooey, pumpkin-y treats? And on top of all the sugar and chocolate, what really stinks, is that fall is the time of year they need nutritious food the most so they don’t come down with a case of the “Ick” (aka cold and flu).
But I have been around the block a time or two with kids and food, from extreme picky eaters as clients, to kids at birthday parties that won’t even try a cupcake due to it’s color and shape. Fall food for kids is a walk in the park, and this park is full of beautiful leaves and tasty treats. So no worries; it’s harvest time!
Why Oktoberfest? Using Creativity to Feed Kids.
My kids are pretty good eaters, but I have to be honest. I work with them a LOT on growing our own food, knowing our farmers, teaching them how to bake and cook, and setting the expectations that they eat well in order to get sweets. Oktoberfest is one fall party that is going to make my job easy.
First off it’s a party. A great big harvest party, and except for the beer, it is one party that has lots of delicious food as a focal point that is kid-friendly. With a little research and a look in my Slovak family cookbook, my imagination and party plans start to seem very, very possible.
Even better yet, my cousin is throwing a picnic this weekend and I have hinted about the Slovak and German family roots we share as a reason to have ethnic food. She gets the hint and starts planning the menu, but with some minor reservation. She needs to feed almost 10 kids and isn’t sure how to turn Oktoberfest food into kids’ food. I assure her that we can easily transform the picnic into a family memory that will include the kids.
Why Family Makes Food All The More Delicious
It isn’t a secret that eating with family makes families stronger. But as a developmental therapist, it’s often forgotten that parental example of eating is one of the strongest indicators of how well (or poorly) a child eats. This says that parents and family, including siblings, set the example for the kids. Family members that realize the impact their eating habits has on future generations usually choose to eat more mindfully.
So getting together, sharing food, and being social are key factors in teaching kids to eat. So picking some foods that are healthy when having a family meal or a party is essential.
A Pot Luck is a Lucky Pot.
If everyone can bring a dish that is built around a theme, with the goal of making for a delicious meal, then how could a family party not be successful? Duplicate foods, too many of one item such as desserts, and food allergies make the modern family party a little tricky.
It was best for the host, my cousin, to check in with all the guests ahead of time to see if there were any food allergies before planning. She discovered that we needed to address gluten free and dairy free options.Then the menu can be developed and volunteers can be asked to bring specific foods. For our family Oktoberfest, my mom had already offered to bring 2 dozen pierogies. Off to A delicious start!
Bratwurst is a tasty choice for Oktoberfest!
Brainstorming an Oktoberfest Meal for Kids
It’s always a good idea to have a plan when hosting a party, especially when kids are involved.
Now for some there may be no need to go beyond the buttery pasta pocket filled with potato and cheese that is the classic pierogie, but being realistic about what kids might find tasty, and also what they might need in terms of well balanced nutrition, my cousin and I come up with a few ideas for kids food.
There are so many choices when it comes to Oktoberfest foods. With options ranging from bratwurst sausages to German potato salad, we have a good start. Add in pretzels, cider, spaetzle (fried noodles), pierogies (stuffed dumplings), sauerkraut, simple Instant Pot pulled pork goulash, cucumber salad, stuffed cabbages, and more. My German, Hungarian and Slovak ethnic ties of a few generation ago make this menu a dream! This is a super easy meal plan endeavor.
But how to make this all kid friendly? Easy.
A meal of Bratwurst and mashed potatoes (WITH toppings from the mashed potato bar) make a great meal for kids. Just add mustard!
Super Easy Oktoberfest Food For Kids
Here’s the list we came up with, which we easily assigned to family members to bring the day of the party.
Bratwurst Sausages cut up in small bites and a gluten free pretzel stick to use as a handle to dip each bite in stone ground mustard
Slovak breaded and fried chicken thighs
Pierogies (stuffed noodles and butter)
Spaetzle Fake-Out: Instead of fried noodles, just make noodles of any shape and add melted butter and kraut
Pretzels and dipping sauce
Mashed potato bar with toppings including kraut, both organic cold garlic and hot, diced sausages, cubed brats, butter, salsa, cheddar cheese, and pulled pork goulash. Serving glasses were available to make the mashed creations look like ice cream sundaes!
Pulled pork goulash (Instant Pot)
Hot dogs wrapped in dough (what some call Pigs in a Blanket)
Cucumber Salad (Slovak style with vinegar and paprika)
Apple cider and water to drink
Sausage in dough clothes make a fun food for kids at Oktoberfest! They are always a wiener!
Now most of these foods are easy to make and with a quick internet search they are easy to create from a good recipe. But our family has some true favorite recipes to share. Here is one my cousin made that was AMAZING!
Simple Instant Pot Pulled Pork Goulash
This recipe was made using the Instant Pot manual function.
Ingredients 2-3 pork loin or butt roast (bone in optional, cut in half if too large for pot) 2 T ghee ½ onion (chopped) 2 cloves garlic (minced) Sliced white mushrooms (12 oz) Penzey’s Steak Seasoning 2 T Hungarian Sweet Paprika 1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz) 3 cups organic beef broth 1 jar roasted red pepper strips (drained) Ground black pepper
Instructions 1. Set Instant Pot to Sauté function. 2. Trim all visible fat from roast. Cut in half if too large for pot. 3. Add ghee to instant pot when ready. 4. Sprinkle pork with steak seasoning. 5. When ghee is hot, brown pork on each side until nicely browned, could take up to 10 minutes. Brown in batches if halved. 6. While pork is browning chop onion, prepare mushrooms, and mince garlic. 7. Remove pork to a plate. 8. Add onions to pot and sauté for 3 minutes. Sprinkle paprika over onions and add garlic. Stir and brown for another 3 minutes. 9. Stir in mushrooms and brown another 5 minutes. 10. Return pork and add diced tomatoes, roasted pepper strips, and beef stock to Instant Pot. Lock lid and cook on manual function for 60 minutes at high pressure. Let pressure release naturally. 11. Shred pork using two forks. Set pot to keep warm until serving time. Suggestions Add ½ t caraway seeds in step 9 optional Roast your own red pepper Serve over mashed potatoes with dollop sour cream Cook in slow cooker for 8-10 hours on low, or high 4-6
How Our Family’s Oktoberfest Celebration Helped the Next Generation Eat Better.
After the celebration, it was clear we had some solid new food our whole family enjoyed. My daughter told me she had a blast, and loved all the amazing and wonderful food. She said this to me the next day without me even asking. So a shout out to my family -“You are one Oktoberfest inspiration for the next generation of kids! I am proud to be Frau Melissa in this group of Eastern European Foodies!”
Kids’ Food Winners for Oktoberfest
The sauerkraut and black forest cake were the clear winners at our Oktoberfest celebration, but the Goulash came in a very strong Third.
Octoberfest food that our family loved. Sauerkraut and sausage took first place.
The Black Forest Cake was delicious and an easy new food for kids to explore. It took 2nd place this Oktoberfest!
Kids love soup, so this goulash was an easy new food for kids to try. It took 3rd place, but it was so good I took seconds.
Visit Swami Mommi on Pinterest to share a pic of what easy food you cooked for Octoberfest, or let us know how it went! Hopefully your family and especially kids found it wonderful!
10 Good Habits For Caring For Your 1 Month Old Beautiful Baby
We have many options for prenatal care. There are many classes we can
take as moms and dad expecting a baby, and there are many different
Of course, we now have to deal with insurance restrictions on where
we birth, based on our insurance carrier, and we often have somewhat
limited natural birthing options, however if there is a will there is a
way to get the birthing experience you desire. Keep looking for what
feels right to you.
Postpartum Care is another thing altogether. After
experiencing my blissful birth in the hospital, I was left without much
care. I was very fatigued despite having my amazing husband on homemaker
duty for 4 weeks while he was on paternity leave. Breastfeeding was
tiring through the night, I was of course hormonal, and just getting
used to my regular body again. It was rough.
Once my baby was here, I decided I would use Pinterest and Social
Media to see what I could do to welcome my beautiful baby in a blissful
way. Thanks to social media, I felt that I was not alone in wanting to
make postpartum a good experience. There were many posts on Pinterest
and many blogs focusing on this issue.
Thanks to social media, as well as my daily meditation, I felt a part of the sisterhood of new moms connected in the daily challenges and successes of being a new mom!
Here is a list of things you can do to welcome your
beautiful baby in a blissful way so positive memories and radiant health
can be a part of your postpartum story too!
1. Rest: You deserve it. You just gave birth! That is amazing! Congratulations.
2. Breastfeed (if you can): St. Clair Lactation was
amazing. If you are birthing I suggest this hospital simply based on the
lactation department alone. My first baby did not get to breastfeed. I
tried. My second, thanks to St. Clair Lactation has taken to the breast
wonderfully, mostly because they were so direct in how they taught me
what I needed to know. Having said that, it is not easy. It takes
extreme will, especially in the first 3 months. It gets somewhat easier
after that, and you have experienced a bond with your baby that is very
unique. Check out http://kellymom.com/ for great breastfeeding resources.
3. Baby Message and Bath: Use coconut or jojoba oil
(find at Whole Foods) for a little message before a bath. Message only
to your babies enjoyment, and stop if it is too much. Make sure to towel
off excess oil so they are not slippery and use extra care when bathing
them and taking them out of the bath. I find that my baby is slippery
when coming out of a bath even when I don’t do the message before hand.
4. Jojoba Oil: This oil is balancing and helps heal
and support skin. I used it where ever my baby was dry, and on her
cradle cap. Within an hour her skin was rebalanced.
5. Calm Sensory Environment: Newborn babies have
fully active hearing, so limit loud music and T.V., especially media
that has violent content. Calming music is great. Sitting in nature is
also soothing. Going to the mall and then a noisy restaurant is too much
too soon. The longer they can grow their brain in a calm soothing
environment, the better. Your calm baby will thank you. Even if you
have a difficult to sooth baby, it will help in the long run.
6. Have a Night Routine for Baby: It helps them get
used to the idea that extended sleep is nearing. Give a bath, sing a
song, read a familiar book, say a prayer, breastfeed, or whatever you
feel is special to you and your baby. Do what feels good to you, just do
7. Practice the “Magic 2 Questions”: Is my baby
crying because 1. She is hungry? or 2. She is sleepy? If you find that
you are eventually good at answering these questions for your baby, your
baby will most likely not cry as much.
8. Speak Loving Words: Create loving habits now.
Promise to treat your baby with love when you talk to them. They have a
fully operating hearing system and they are learning with every word you
say. Let them know you love them and respect them. Even if you didn’t
feel loved as a child, make the change now and commit to positive change
in your family line. Use Loving Words.
9. Relax: Enjoy your baby. Your baby deserves to get
to know you. What we give our kids today, comes back to us later. Don’t
let this opportunity slip by. Your heart will thank you for it.
10. Don’t Yell at Your Baby: Yelling is as
destructive as hitting. Don’t hit your baby either. I know this may seem
basic, but it happens a lot. I have seen it when working with some of
my patients with developmental delay. The bottom line: When you baby feels safe, they develop normally. If they feel stressed or unsafe, they don’t. So don’t yell or hit your baby, and don’t let anyone else do it either. Protect your baby.
One extra habit that is super important! #11. Play With Your Baby:
Newborns can hear, can become familiar with songs, and can understand
basic words like eat, sleep, and “I Love You”. Once they are 3 months,
their smiles will prove it. Let them explore baby safe toys, touch
different textures and tickle their feet. As a mom, you will enjoy this
“baby play” maybe even more than they do.
Breastfeeding Styles: What Type is Your Little Feeder?
I know we all talk about what type of personalities moms have before and after birthing, and how that might affect their success at breastfeeding. I for one thought that my organized style could get in the way of my “free-feeder”. I have learned to work with my little bundle and help her, just like she helps me. I have realized it’s not just about my personality, but hers too!
After reading the Sears book, “The Breastfeeding Book”, I was able to figure out what type of feeder she was. The Sears describe several different personalities of breastfeeding babies, so for fun, I will list them here taken directly from their book. I should note this is a great book that takes mom’s from newborn through toddler breastfeeding!
Breastfeeding Personality Styles:
The Gourmet: Baby relishes everything about breastfeeding- the taste of the milk, the feel of mother’s skin, the suck, the swallow. He licks, fondles, nestles, and goes to great length to prolong the experience.
The Efficiency Expert: She gets right down to business. She can drain a breast in five minutes and finish the other side just as quickly. She has places to go and people to see. She doesn’t miss much
The Nip’n’ Napper: He alternates between eating and sleeping. Newborns often exhibit this sort of personality.
Mr. Suck a little, Look a little. He is easily distracted. This on and off the breast behavior is typical of 2 to 4 year olds, who can now see across the room.
The Luxuriator : She loves to breastfeed so much that she often settles into a comfortable nursing position, like you would in an easy chair. She plays with your nipple, your hair, and what ever else is within patting distance. While luxuriating, she may pause and gaze adoringly at your face and reward you with an appreciative smile, as if to say. “Thanks Mom, I like being here.”
I think my baby has gone through several of these personality types, and I have loved them all. It is actually good to know them, so when new personality phases show up, we realize it’s just a phase. It seems to me that as babies develop and grow they change how they feed, making this whole breastfeeding time so exciting and interesting. From the newborn who wouldn’t eat without a cool towel on her forehead to keep her awake, to the loving gazes my baby gives me of late, I can’t think of a more fun way to explain to friends and family how my little baby eats. I hope you enjoy the list too!
A recipe from African babies that will be nutrient rich for every baby that eats it!
Hungry Babies Need Food
In our suburban area of Pennsylvania, there were more than 250 babies in need of food last year. That’s not even including the kids and other family members who were in need of food. This is staggering, given the Whole Foods and Giant super food stores not far away. Why are there so many babies that are hungry in an area that has so much food?
It seems hunger is a world wide problem, and yes, right here at home too. Lack of food, lack of money, or lack of knowledge on what to feed our precious babies all contribute to malnutrition.
Helping Baby’s Worldwide with First Foods
Travel to Africa taught me a thing or two about how to help kids in a different culture. My take home message was, “Let them lead the way.” I might know health care in the United States, but had little cultural reference for life in Africa, specifically Kenya. Ethnocentrism, a way of thinking that my own way is best, can cripple a “do-gooder” like me in a different culture, and I was blessed to have the leaders in our group warn us of it’s misleading ways.
On the flip side, other cultures can inform us and provide us with an alternative way of thinking, which we can then apply to our own life. For example, I came home wanting a more loving and caring health system, and a less mechanical and technological focus. I saw real people getting better with care and love, and little medication in Africa. I saw communities bring strength to those who were suffering with very little technology. Healing through hands on care, time spent, and commitment to a good outcome.
Baby Puree from Africa that has all the necessary nutrients. Protein, fate and carbohydrates.
A Guide for Baby’s First Foods
Having shared such an amazing visit with many Kenyan’s, and to still have friends in Uganda and Kenya, I know that there is a need for more information and solutions for good infant nutrition. Guidance for babies first feedings are relevant to us here in the United States, as we are currently looking at infant malnutrition and mortality as well. In my state of Pennsylvania, we in fact have a very high infant mortality rate.
It’s time for everyone to contribute to a solution.
To contribute, I’m sharing an amazing recipe from the blog “Nutrition Normalised” as a simple feeding solution provided from Mulago Hospital in Uganda, Africa. At “Nutrition Normalised” the tag line refers to ending malnutrition with everyone contributing to the solution. It’s time we all had the welfare of children on our radar, weather at home or abroad.
Weather you are a mum in Africa, a mom in a food desert in the United States, or a mom who is so busy she can’t eat enough to support breast feeding (yes, a sad but often result of stress), or a cook at a homeless shelter in the United States, this recipe is worth sharing. It’s well balanced and supportive to a growing baby.
Given 20 years of feeding experience, not only am I concerned with the ability of a child to enjoy the texture of the food they eat so they can build sold foundations and happy food experiences early in life, I am also wanting highly nutritious food for each baby. This is a great recipe, first because it can be mashed into a very thin texture. Remember to check with you pediatrician to make sure the texture is a safe texture for your first feedings. Some babies need a runnier texture, others need it thicker.
Nutritionally, it looks good too. I see protein, fat, and oil in a balanced proportion. All this can be purchased at a local grocery and frozen to last several days for multiple meals at a low cost. When buying ingredients try to get them as fresh and pesticide free as possible. For a complete Baby First Foods guide check out the Swami Mommi First Foods Guide.
Processed (cupcake above) and store bought baby food is not packed with the necessary nutrients baby needs.
In the United States, we use a lot of pesticides so fresh organic beans and frozen casava may be the best choices. Also, when feeding fish make sure to see if they are third party verified for low metal toxicity, as mercury is a high contaminant. The fish provides a strong fat good for brain development, but fish oil tested by a third party to control for heavy metal toxicity is recommended. I have personally done research and find Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA Oil to be good as of October 2018.
In the US, I would suggest making the Kitoobero, but only use fresh fish once every two weeks, and the Nordic Naturals 3-4 times per week as a supplement. We really do have polluted waters and there are warning now on how often to eat certain fish since they carry the pollution. However, only do this once you check with your pediatrician to make sure there are no reasons that would make it unsafe.
Fish oil is a supplement, not a food per say, so checking with your pediatrician is 100% recommended. I also suggest you do some research of your own to fully understand the benefits of Fish oil in developing children. In the recipe, I would suggest trying a little fish oil added at a time, to see if you baby likes it. Cooked fish is yummy, but a whole spoonful of fish oil can be overwhelming.
Wherever you live, make sure little babies don’t have unnecessary chemicals in their food, as growing is enough work for the babies body already. It doesn’t need to concentrate on detoxifying the body too. “Nutrition not Pollution” is a slogan I tell all the families I work with in my feeding practice.
Please share this with as many families and places online as you can. Let’s get the word out so our littlest babies have a strong start. It’s you and me who can make the difference, so let’s do it! Across oceans, or across social platforms, let’s make the world a little kinder for our babies.
Let’s work together to share good ideas and recipes so our kids can get what they need to grow strong and healthy!
For more ideas for food for your baby, that is as close to nature as possible, and also thoughtful about social considerations visit Baby Food Recipes and Ideas.
A Big Thank You to “Nutrition Normalized” for posting this great recipe!
“Be kind to yourself! Don’t judge your sensory play set up by how fancy it is but instead by the response you get from baby.”
“Use the basics to get great results. Sand. Rice. Leaves. Water.”
“Use nature to help you build a sensory bin. Create it with nature. Then put it in nature!”
Baby’s are ready to explore! The more sensory experiences they get in calm environments the better. Why a calm environment? Because they can become master sensory regulators! That means a calm kid now and into the future!
And as a mom and developmental therapist, I follow my instincts and keep it simple when it come to calming sensory play! I have found that the simpler the better.
Simple sensory play set-up for us moms keeps moms calmer. If mom is calmer, that helps the child to be calmer. Additionally, the simple set up, in my experience, allows for a calming affect. Simple setting. Simple materials. Items like rice, sand, water, and leaves for example might seem to plain, but they pack a big sensory load on a child’s developing sensory system. They are all you need to create mindful sensory play.
So baby and I are doing just that these days, exploring simple textures at our home where it is calm and free of distractions and chaos. (These activities can be done with babies, preschoolers, or older kids.) We often do these activities out in nature to make an even more serene environment as the backdrop for our sensory fun.
I am mindful of the calming environment I choose to complete the activity in, and also enjoy the environment when we are doing the activity. This allows for low distraction for baby and for me to be aware of the sights and smells and sounds. This is mindful parenting in planning and also mindful parenting when playing. The result is s sensory bin that is not only fun, but calming!
This activity works for older kids too, or kids that might need to learn to tolerate sensory textures with greater ease. By building experiences that are exploratory and fun, children create confidence in dealing with sensory information, knowing they can handle it, simply because they have been successful in the past.
So let’s dive in!
Today we chose rice!
Materials: Clean bin or bucket, 1-3 bags of dry rice, bowl for pouring, paper towel rolls, and a basic ring stacker toy
That’s it! Super Simple.
This activity lasted about 15 minutes, which I felt showed good attention for baby. Within the first few minutes, baby was in the bin and exploring! She needed my help to step over the rim of the bucket, but otherwise, she was in her sensory play zone!
When we got started, baby needed to touch and feel and EAT some rice. I figured this would happen. It’s new, and baby always explores new things with her mouth. I figured rice would be fine, and made sure to watch her 100% of the time to make sure not much of the raw rice could get eaten. I told her each time that she should not eat it and to take it our of her mouth. She did.
I don’t recommend beans or other larger items until baby isn’t mouthing anymore. If a grain of rice gets by my patrol, no big deal. It would get digested and expelled easily within the day. Larger beans like pintos or lentils are NOT what I would want to use. I certainly would not want to have to go searching for beans in baby’s mouth when I can easily use rice. Plus, if I stay calm not worrying about chocking hazards, baby stays calm, and we have more fun.
*As an added note, kidney beans should never be used with kids in sensory play no matter what the age. Kidney bean have toxins that need to be boiled off when cooking so they can be eaten safely. If kids get hold of them and eat them, or the dog decides to have a few, it won’t be good.
Once I knew baby was tolerating the rice on her feet and hands, I thought I would increase the challenge by sprinkling rice down on her. She got rice in her hair and didn’t seem to mind at all. She actually found it interesting and tried to “rain” the rice onto me too! The perfect time to sing a rain song such as “Rain, Rain Go Away” or “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, Baby is Snoring”.
Baby decided to make up her own game up too. Peek-a-boo is a great game in such a big bin! Can anyone find baby?
Sensory Play Can Be Over-Stimulating
I keep it simple with the toys on purpose so baby could enjoy the rice and not get over stimulated. Some babies actually find the rice to be too much sensory input on the skin, so be mindful if baby needs a break. Other kids don’t mind rice at all. It just depends on each kids sensory needs.
It’s easy to get over zealous, putting all kinds of texture combinations together with sensory play. But remember, we are trying to provided sensory input in an environment that lets baby stay focused and regulated. The more calm and focused, the better baby will process the sensory input and tolerate it in the future.
The most important sensory play rule when dealing with new textures really comes down to this: Don’t bring chaos, bring calm.
Be kind to yourself! Don’t judge your sensory play set up by how fancy but instead by the response you get from baby. Baby should enjoy the task for several minutes, attending to the different parts, taking in the new and unique textures, all while being calm. Such observations are good indicators that the new sensory input was processed well. It’s a sign you have done a good job planning.
We learned to pour too!
The bowl made a great scoop to show baby how to pour. This activity is a great way to introduce pouring before getting out the Montessori pitcher and practicing with beverages. Even better, tomorrow I am going to include the pitcher and let baby practice pouring rice from the pitcher to the container. Added fun!
So, give this sensory bin a try! We had such a great time! I could tell by the sparkle in her eyes! No kidding.
Share your own experiences if you give this a try or if you have tried something similar. Here at Swami Mommi want to hear all about you and your baby’s heart warming sensory play!
Bonding With and Calming Our Babies in Mindful Ways
Calming activities are easy. They are also cheap and enjoyable.
Calming activities for baby are also a top priority in parenting new and growing babies!
These are long term solutions for a long term calm. And ultimately that means calm for baby, parents, and the whole family. Do them everyday as part of their routine and your kids will be bonded to you like they should be. Statistics show that 40% of children in the United States are NOT bonded to their parents. So being mindful of calming strategies and doing them regularly is of mega importance.
Bonded kids have better behavior, are healthier, and feel secure. All this relates to brain development in a positive way. It allows fine motor and gross motor skills to develop without difficulty. It allows growth to happen with fewer problems. If this motivates you to keep reading, you are well on your way to raising happy kids.
Babies are born knowing how to suck. Newborn babies breastfeed naturally or bottle feed when provided a bottle moments after being born. Nature has it all figured out, since sucking not only allows babies to get food, but also is a natural calming reflex. This is why babies love their bottles, their mom’s comforting nipple, and pacifiers.
But what can we provided our little precious bundles beyond what they are born with? What are the ultimate calming activities for baby?
As a developmental therapist and mom I can tell you that it’s all about comfort. The tactile system is a babies sense of touch, and it is the number one calming system for a newborn baby. Babies learn and calm through their sense of touch. It’s what babies need and crave.
So grab a cup of tea and a blanket, cozy up here and let’s dive into into Swami Mommi’s top 7 baby activities to calm and soothe baby.
Calming Baby With Mindful Parenting
#1 and #2: Warm Bath And Baby Massage:
After checking the water temperature to be safe, a warm bath is ultimately calming. Not all babies love water at first, but several ideas to make their bath-time fun can be used from the start to make sure bath-time is fun-time.
Dimming the lights for example can make a sleepy baby more comfortable with less of a chance of over-stimulation. Before bed is optimal. Also, make sure to give the bath when baby is well fed and you are relaxed. Happy bellies and happy parents make happy bathers!
Calming Baby with Montessori Based Play in the Bathtub
At first bath toys aren’t needed. For newborns, water is a good enough toy. Once baby reaches 3-5 months, they will be interested in toys so it’s fun to add them. It’s good to realize through that a toy can be an old plastic bottle or big cap from a bottle. Funnels and tubes are also great ways to up-cycle old items around the house. As long as they are clean and baby can’t eat them, they will work great!
After a bath, it’s time for message. A simple message would include an organic oil such as Jojoba oil (balancing oil) and include arms, legs, belly and back. When doing arms and legs I always recommend stroking from the fingers and toes toward the the trunk. This keeps lymphatic drainage in the correct direction allowing proper removal of wastes in the skin and limbs for a good detoxification effect. I use semi-deep pressure and sometimes semi-circular strokes at the joints. Finally, I let newborns tell me how they are feeling about their message. They cry some days and giggle on others, but either way I don’t push it. I do what they will tolerate, which is really different every day.
#3 and #4: Softest Baby Blanket you can find and a Rocking Chair
I had a rocking chair that I wasn’t using for nighttime routine, until one day I tried it out, and never again will I go without! It turned bed-time into cuddle time. Taking the softest blankets I had, I snuggled baby in to my arms and rocked her to sleep. Being mindful of what our babies like is important, but if we as parents like it too, it is self motivating. We are going to be more inclined to follow through as parents on a regular basis.
I was so scared to do this, because I feared that baby would NEVER go to sleep on her own. Despite going to sleep in her crib since birth on her back, I still feared she would NEVER go to sleep on her own once I rocked her. I must have heard just too many horror stories. Well, I was wrong. By 12 months old, I told baby that I would rock her first, and then put her in her crib. For a while she would fuss a bit when I moved her, but now she wants her crib after a little rocking. We of course do the same routine every night. Win-Win!
First I tell her it’s time to go to bed, I turn on the sound machine, and snuggle her up in a blanket. We rock in the rocker for about 20 minutes, until she either goes to sleep or is nearly asleep. Then I put her in her crib. The sound machine allows me to creep away without a trace. Even if baby wakes when I put her in her crib, I just tell her she is OK and that it is time to sleep.
Mindful Sleep Routines Help Calm Babies
We had been putting baby in either her co-sleeper bassinet or her crib for 12 months in a quite room since she was born. Early on she was swaddled in a Miracle Blanket.A friend bought us one and we were hooked. Super easy swaddle, and really helps babies refine there reflexes from extension and startle response, to curled up and calm. This is my number one recommendation to new moms, from day one! Check it out here.
The point I am trying to make is that baby was trained to calm a bedtime from the start. This has carried over and allowed us to rock baby and still get her into her crib with little fuss. I am so very happy this has worked so well, as I am not sure who loves the snuggling and rocking more, baby or I.
Little feet in a Miracle blanket for baby swaddling.
Rocking chairs no longer need be old fashioned, they can be cute an trendy! We got one at Babies are Us, but many re-sale shops have them and they can be jazzed up easily with a cushion and blanket!
#5 and #6: Out of the Way Place To Sleep and a Sound Machine
When I say out of the way place, I simply mean a quiet place where baby won’t be disturbed. As and adult, when I go to a hotel and the neighbor’s party won’t let me sleep, I really just want and “out of the way” place to sleep where no one will disturb me! It’s annoying to be woken up from a deep sleep. Babies feel the same way.
Babies can get cranky from being woken in mid-sleep, and it is substantiated in the research that babies that sleep more regularly have better speech. Why? It was found that speech related neurons grow while baby sleeps, with resulting better language scores overall. So sleep, sleep, sleep makes for a calm and well spoken baby. The ultimate plan to ward off frustration on the part of baby and parents!
Also, the sound machine, is a sleep insurance policy. IF there is a noise that happens to crash or bang, it will hopefully get lost in the sound machines’ background noise. I personally like the machine from Hatch Baby that you can find here. I do suggest placing the machine several feet from baby however, because it is controlled by an app. I keep all electronic devices several feet from baby, including radio and video monitors, as research shows that such devices are problematic when close in proximity to babies and children. An easy read book that talks about device safety in greater detail, writen by Devra Davis who spoke to congress on the dangers of such devices, can be found here.
#7: Something Small to Cuddle
The bonding reflex is the reflex that insures the diminishing of the startle reflex. So the more bonding tasks the better. The startle reflex, which looks like your baby just got scared by a ghost, is supposed to diminish over time. If it doesn’t then a baby will grow up to be a child on high alert and not very calm.
However, the flexion position, aka the curling or bending forward position, will assist with the bonding reflex and ensure a calm child. Carrying baby in flexion, curling them into you as you rock them, AND carrying something small and soft when walking or sitting, will promote the flexion position and calming reflexes.
Eventually, when a toy comes crashing to the floor, or a ball bounces into their view, they won’t be startled. They will be calm. It’s bonding that lets baby know she is safe, so allow Beary or Stuffed Dragon to go along for the car ride. Let cozy Elmo tag along for the walk. And make sure that your baby has his favorite stuffed animal when ever they need it.
*Note: It is not recommended that babies have stuffed animals in their crib. Once they are older toddlers that are mobile and able to move a stuffed animal themselves, it is safer. Only have stuffed animals with babies and kids that are safe and older in age.
Routines Help Baby Calm Too
Remember, that if calming activities are done regularly, they are even more effective. Babies like to know what to expect during their day, and they thrive on routine. Even if they get out of sorts from a day of less routine than normal, they can easily move into the next day knowing their routine is there to support them. Although it may look simple, seem simple, and just right down cozy, it’s the science of growing our kids brains so their foundation is solid.
Doing the seven calming activities will grow brain connections that will support your baby now, in a year, and throughout their entire life. This is where a little mindful parenting can go a long way.
Finding good music for St. Patrick’s day should not be as hard as finding a pot of gold this St. Patrick’s day. So we put together a treasure of resources for good St. Patrick’s day music for kids and the whole family. I assure you, it’s worth it’s weight in gold.
Good songs for kids can be hard to find. Not just songs, but good songs. Can you easily find songs and music that your kids like, and that you like too? Nope.
A little mindful parenting can make this easy, and this Little Leprechaun Music Guide does the work for you. As a musical family, and with years of developmental understanding as a pediatric therapist, this guide will rock your green socks off this St. Patrick’s day, as well as your kids. Auditory sensory play is always fun, but on St. Patrick’s day it super relevant too.
The music of St. Patrick’s day has been popular for centuries, and it’s easy to incorporate auditory sensory play into the fun day’s activities. With good music, you can play hot potato, have an Irish dance contest, or paint to music. All these auditory sensory play ideas work well, but good music is the key to making it go off without a hitch.
We’ve put together an original song to help your kids actively engage and participate in auditory and imaginative sensory play, a nod to Montessori based play. We also included our favorite artists and albums that you can look for and play during your St. Patrick’s Day mayhem.
Your mindful parenting work has been done for you. Cheers!
St. Patrick’s Day Song for Preschoolers and Toddlers!
I really don’t think this song has an actual age range, as I have heard moms and dad and kids singing it after they heard it just a few times. So that tells me the age range is pretty diverse.
If you want to use it at home I suggest taking a video and sending it to friends and family. In school you can make little beards and St. Patrick’s Day hats as costumes for a St. Patrick’s day parent performance or party. In the community, this works great for play-dates that are screen free. It’s a real Montessori based activity, with kids doing and being part of the fun on St. Patrick’s Day.
All these ideas are really just combinations of auditory sensory play with other senses. Facilitated by good music, kids can learn about their environment and at the same time train their musical ear.
Here are some great dress up resources to turn you kids into Leprechauns all while they engage in auditory sensory play:
Play dress up, pull out the guitar, or sing as a group. Just follow the words for “Jiggidy Jig Kid” to the familiar kids tune “Grand Old Duke of York”, and let the sensoryfun begin.
“Jiggidy Jig Kid” by Melissa S. Misra
copyright February 2018
St. Patrick’s Day Music Resources for Mindful Parents:
It seems that good quality music went out of style years ago, except in the circles of musicians that meet in homes, smaller venues and in smaller online groups. There are usually just a couple of hundred people at these community music meet ups, as is the case for the below artists. So ironic, because most of the time, the musicians at these meet ups are at the top of their game! Good quality music is simply not pushed through the radio channels like it once was, so we are parents have a harder job locating good quality music.
That’s why a mindful music planning can make a big difference in the fun factor and musicality of our musical experiences as a family.
I assure you that the resources below have been tested, happily listened to, and seen live with great excitement. If you listen, enjoy and share these tunes with your family, you are in for a good time. St. Patrick’s day is usually about bar songs, but these are pure art, from the best musicians in their field.
Auditory Sensory Play Aided by Good St. Patrick’s Day Songs
Our first grouping does have one of the world’s premier fiddlers on all three albums. Wherever you go, and fiddling is happening, chances are Alasdair is there. Enjoy all these albums without a second thoughts. They are exceptional and a must play on St. Patrick’s Day.
Try a sample of Mark O’Connor’s Appalachian Waltz here.
Give Good Music for Kids a Try for St. Patrick’s Day This Year!
Wishing you all the musical luck your heart can hold this St. Patrick’s Day. Music is often called the language of the heart, and what a more beautiful holiday than St. Patrick’s Day to indulge. Irish music is deep and rich and intoxicating. This is one thing this St. Patrick’s Day that you can never have quite enough of.
Happy St. Patrick’s day to you and your whole family!
The Swami Mommi Baby Food Chart: Making Mindful Meal Planning Quick and Easy!
Mindful parenting sometimes requires getting messy. But the Swami Mommi Baby Food Chart takes the mess out of meal planning! It’s easy!
When I am busy, and I still want to be mindful of what my baby is eating, I get grab the Swami Mommi Baby Food Chart. Because it is a food chart of food ideas, as well as a grocery checklist I can grab it and go.
If you start with these basic recipes, and forget the processed foods, your baby will be a great eater. My kids actually eat artichokes and mussels among just about any other vegetable, fruit or meat, If that is any indication of how well this list works, I’d say it does just fine as a springboard into good nutrition for good little eaters.
The chart took me a several months to make initially, but I share it with parents when I work with their babies on feeding, as well as use it regularly myself. It was well worth the effort as well because it consistently saves me time.
This list is a baby food chart and grocery list primarily for a baby in the first stages of feeding. It goes through stage 1 and 2 of baby feeding texture and tolerance. Another way to look at it is by age, with this list being for babies 6 months to 1/5 years, depending on your child’s style of eating and personal skills and preferences. It’s a guide and will be applied differently to each unique child.
Kids eat what their parents eat. Make it both nutritious and delicious for both with the Swami Mommi Food Chart! This is baby eating Pasta Sauce from the chart and loving it!
Remember that you know what your baby can tolerate, so you should NEVER give you baby a food they do not know how to handle or that may cause a choking hazard. Puree, mash, or smash the food on the checklist relative to what your baby can manage. Safety first.
At first, your baby might not be eating any of the foods or recipes on the list, but it can help to grow their list of accepted foods, and the Swami Mommi Food Chart can help guide you and your little one. Start with familiar food, and slowly add in new ones.
Make sure that meal time is in a calm and quite place, and that it is fun. I know it’s all about the food acceptance for us moms, but for the kids it’s all about fun, and songs, and smiles, and good memories. I always say that feeding is somewhat about food, but it is mostly about good memories and strong baby-parent trust patterns.
You can view the recipes for each item below by searching online, and add ingredients to the list if you prefer. I keep it simple, organic and Non-GMO. So for example, if you know how to make broth, just use the ingredients on the list. If you have a specific recipe you or your grandma loves, then add it in place of the one I used. The idea is that the foods below are easily accepted and nutritious for you baby.
So grab the list, get to the grocery store, and pick what you want to try. Remember, after you cook the recipes, you can also share them with the whole family. You may need to puree a bit for baby, but as they grow the flavors will be well accepted. Once you have the whole family enjoying them, you will save time and money. Time because you only need to cook one meal for everyone, instead of several for different preferences. Money because fresh vegetables and natural foods are often less than processed foods.
Finally, make sure you eat these foods too as an example to your kids. They will do everything you do, so make a good impression. When families that I work with do not eat well, 90% of the time time their kids don’t either. When the parents model healthy eating, the kids do just fine.
Wishing you all the fun and yum possible at your next family meal!