Ten Things Your Kid Must See Before Turning Three

It is a season of discovery and those things that we take for granted are the igniters of our child’s sense of wanderlust. The small journeys of today will one day be remembered as the very foundation of their willingness and drive to reach far and wide.

I asked my friend Lori who is a mom to 11 kids (half from the womb half from the heart). To lend us her mama compass and guide us through the journey of discovery. She sent me ten wonderful things to do and see before turning three.

Discover Your Reflection

Self-awareness is exclusive to humans, with the help of a mirror and a few colorful props you can have endless fun as your baby discovers the “I” in the mirror.

Taste The World

Expose your toddler to new flavors. Be daring and purchase tropical fruits. Have your camera ready for the very first time your toddler experiences the tanginess of lime or the coldness of ice cream.

Savor Spring Showers

On a warm spring day walk with your child under the rain.

Meet a Bunny

And pet it too. There is something magnificent when a child realizes he is touching something soft but very alive. Point at the different parts of the bunny anatomy and help your child discover that bunnies have ears too. Just like babies but longer.

Roll a Rollie Pollie

Your garden is full of treasures. Pick a brick or a stone and find pill bugs making their home. Show your toddler how a pill bug can be rolled into a little ball.  This is a teaching opportunity in gentleness when handling nature.

Make a Video

Have your toddler dance or do something silly and let them watch. Caution: This can be highly addictive.

Pick Flowers

Teach your toddler the pricelessness of gifting and loving.

Make a Rainbow

Purchase a prism and make rainbows everywhere.

Feed the Ducks

This is a must for every child as soon as they can walk and throw.

Blow Bubbles

Because bubbles are magical.

Discovery is full of teachable moments; moments to sign, moments to sing and moments to cherish in your heart as you witness the beauty of learning.




My Baby Won’t Sign Flamingo and Other Mysteries of the BSL World

I have witnessed over fifty infants and toddlers learn baby sign language first hand. Some would say that makes me an expert, I say it has simply fine tuned the ear of my heart and made me realize that babies are different, unique and precious.

Contrary to popular belief the most common question that comes to my desk is not how to start BSL. The most common and most difficult question comes from wonderful dedicated mamas and daddies who have graduated along with their child from stage 1. Milk, more and doggie have become part of the day-to-day but now they are stuck. You have tried every trick in the book. Your walls are plastered with flash cards and you have surrounded your baby with many songs and rhymes of your own invention dreaming of the day they add a few more signs to their repertoire.

As an educator and a mama I don’t give advice lightly. I do this for a number of reasons but primarily because I don’t want to set false expectations or suggest futile exercises.

Before I share a little about the science behind language acquisition I would like to step back a little and remind the reader something that we tend to forget as parents and caregivers. At the heart of BSL we find the needs of our infant or toddlers as the first priority. BSL will do the following:

  • It will allow the preverbal child to convey needs.
  • It will reduce frustration.
  • It will enhance the parental bond

As we walk in our Baby Sign Language Journey we need remind ourselves often of a few facts that will put this effort into perspective.

  • Language acquisition is influenced by genetics not every baby learns at the same speed.
  • Our needs & interests dictate the way our brain prioritizes learning.
  • We have innate preferences in our discovery process.

My baby won’t sign Flamingo!

Replace flamingo with that pesky sign you have been trying to teach your child for the last ten thousand days (O.K, it is only a month but it surely feels like forever).

Before you give up I want to talk to you about butterflies and wiggly worms.  I have nothing against worms but until now I had never considered it a candidate for the top 10 baby sign language words. That is until I had the opportunity to witness how true it is that language is acquired in alignment with our needs & interests.

Baby J does not care for flamingos. Particularly the flat printed Flamingo on the flash cards. She is equally indifferent to bears, tigers and monkeys. The fact is her world with the exception of a few trips to the zoo is devoid of these creatures.  Five weeks of repetition led to nothing. No bear, no tiger and no flamingo. Baby J kept signing her favorite and most recently acquired sign. Outside. Spring is a great time for outside and outside we went. We found monarchs, crickets and wigglers. We signed butterfly and worm. (Mama did not know the sign for cricket). To my surprise on day three or four of our backyard safaris I had a signer eager to sign for butterfly and worm. Not perfect signs but enough to persuade mama to go “outside” to see the “butterfly.”


My signer will sign to convey her needs and wants. My job as a parent is to guide her in a season of discovery.

My signer will not sign for the things that are readily available or within reach. Why sign if you can grab?

My signer is learning to sign to enhance her quality of life and give me a sneak preview of her mind and soul. It is about her.

As we walk together in the wonderful journey of parenting let’s celebrate the uniqueness of our babies, the perfect cadence of their learning song and the marvelous little victories that reward our efforts in such a special way.


Great Tips For Dining Out With Your Little Ones

Looking to have an enjoyable meal when eating out with the tots? MiniMunchers.com has a few tips to help you navigate the restaurant world with kiddies and hopefully enjoy the experience in the meantime.

1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – Part of your research should entail making sure the restaurant caters to children YOUR AGE. Think about what you need before visiting – if you have an infant – are you hoping to keep the baby in the stroller sleeping while you eat? Does your toddler like a booster rather then a high chair? Feel free to call ahead and ask questions about your specific needs, that is what a host/hostess/manager is for! Of course, if you are looking for a restaurant in Manhattan visit www.MiniMunchers.com

2. KIDS MENU PLEASE – Many experts will advise parents to order off the adult’s menu for tots when eating out to avoid fried/starchy foods (i.e. chicken nuggets, French fries, grilled cheese), which can get pricy. We say do some research and try to find a restaurant that you and your kids will agree is a good spot (both good for you and good to eat!)

3. CUT TO THE CHASE – If your child is 5 or under don’t expect a relaxing drawn out meal. Yes, we all have times that our children are perfect angels but lets be honest – most of the time we are eating to fill our bellies then get out. To this point, don’t order an appetizer, just go with an entrée. You will thank me for this later.

4. ALL TOGETHER NOW – DO NOT have them bring out the kids meals first. It sounds like a good idea but when their meal comes within 5 minutes, what are your little ones going to do while you are waiting and then eating. It is best to eat all together.

5. ENTERTAIN – It is great to think your tot will sit and chat with you for an hour, but time to get real and think in advance. Crayons work for a few minutes (and most kid-friendly restaurants will supply) but when they tire of the old faithful, small items that you can store in your purse (Matchbox cars, Wiki sticks, finger puppets, stickers, tattoos, etc.) are great to have on hand. Don’t be embarrassed to use what is on the table. My kids have spent entire meals making mountains of salt and pepper. Of course, you can always hand over the iPhone and turn on one of the numerous apps that kids love!

6. TIP WELL – Seriously, check out the ground when you leave. Regardless of the service, the staff is going to have to clean up after your family and they deserve a little extra for the mess. In addition, when you are made to feel welcome, despite screaming children, nasty manners, etc., it is worth the extra few dollars.

7. SCRAM! – When they got to go, they GOTTA GO! Some times you just can’t fight it – either your toddler had a bad day or the baby missed her nap. Any way you slice it everything you do just isn’t working and it is time to ask for the check and wrap up your meal – even if it hasn’t come yet! Trust me, your server will be more then happy to accommodate, especially if it means a better dining experience for everyone else at the restaurant.


This guest post was provided by: www.MiniMunchers.com for the complete children’s menus of over 250 great restaurants in NYC! MiniMunchers also offers great weekly discounts on children’s products and classes in our “Goodie Bag” as well as advice from experts on making your eating experiences with kids enjoyable – from celebrities to restaurateurs to Moms-in- the-know!



Perseverance, Patience, and Love

Driving the (tyke) car
I know that raising a child with special needs can be challenging. I also know that with perseverance, patience, and love as parents, we can help our children excel to the best of their abilities—often more than we may have thought possible.
Helping your special needs child learn, advance, or relate to the world can be discouraging at times. We want so much for our children to not only be happy, but to be able to do well for themselves, and children with special needs have to struggle to meet achievements that may come so easily to other children. In order to help our special needs children, we need a large reserve of vacillation. We need to continue to encourage our children and be there for them; to not show our uncertainties and fears. For it is with preservation that we show our children that we believe in them; it is our believe in them that allows our children to believe in themselves.
One of the important things we as parents of special needs children have to work on is our patience. Sometimes it can be a struggle not to try and push our children just a little bit more, as we ourselves get excited or frustrated. But it is so important to let our children go at their own pace, only showing encouragement and excitement. This allows your special needs child to feel confident and accomplished. It makes it so much more likely that they too will strive for more, without feeling so frustrated or incompetent. Our children are not only competent, but marvelous: they have to work so much harder than other children may.
The most important things we can offer our special needs children is one that comes so naturally: love. It is our love for our children that help us meet these challenges for our children. It is what enables us to have the strength to be our children’s strength. Our love of them nurtures their self-confidence. Our love is how they know how wonderful they are, and that it is okay for them to be who they are. This helps them deal with frustration they may be feeling about the differences they face within themselves.
With perseverance, patience, and love our children will excel beyond expectations. These things are the foundation of everything they will need; it is more important than any class or program money can buy. They will be happier and have fuller lives because of our support.
We want to remind you that children are special, and their timing is unique. We receive many emails, comments and Facebook comments asking about using baby sign language as part of a comprehensive developmental approach with special needs babies. We are listening and we are here to encourage you. With a little patience and lots of love you will soon see results.


Sharing Your Baby Photos

Digital media has been a game changer when it comes to sharing our baby shots. We email, text and post delivering instant gratification to our friends and family. Often these practices make us forget the importance of an heirloom.  There is something special and unique about sharing photos and memories in a three-dimensional format. Often I have regretted the loss of digital files as my online activities and archives become bigger and bigger. One day I want to have something beyond pixels to leave to the next generation as a testament of the little details that made their infancy and childhood beautiful. When it comes to sharing these memories a few things come to mind:


Be Selective in Gifting Photos

While grandma and your best friend may value a photo of your child greatly this may not be the case for everyone in your social circle.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have spotted baby photos in wastebaskets or paper piles.


Practice Good Taste in Packaging Your Heirloom

Carefully consider the surroundings of the recipient when deciding the best means of displaying a photo. For dad pick something more formal that goes well with the office setting. For grandma select something delicate and charming. For aunt Janie the ultimate gadget addict, get that keychain digital frame she always wanted.


Make Holiday Crafts

Holidays give you a great deal of flexibility in displaying your baby photos in fun and unique ways. Take advantage of this. The festive environment gives you extra freedom to be creative.


Be Safe

When you post pictures in the web keep in mind not everyone looks at your photos with a heart full of innocence and tenderness. Avoid photos of naked babies in public forums. Set your social media privacy to high and ensure photos do not show house numbers or easy to identify landmarks of places your frequently visit.


Do you have any suggestions or ideas to create photo memories?