Homemade Playdough

Everyone in class loves the play dough I make for Galoop. So much better than the store bought (very smooth and it does not crumble at all). Here is the recipe - super easy and it lasts at least 3 months!

    •    3 cups of flour or rice flour 

    •    1 ½ cups of salt

    •    6 teaspoons of cream of tartar

    •    3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

    •    3 cups of water

    •    Food coloring

    •    Any extract you'd like (mint, lemon, coconut) or spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, coco powder) or no extract at all.

Pour flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large cooking pot, mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix again. Place on the stove and cook over medium heat mixing constantly with a wooden spoon until a ball starts forming and it pulls away from the sides (6 to 8 minutes). Remove from heat, take out from pot, and knead the dough until it matches playdough consistency (1-2 minutes). After it cools off, place in air tight container or ziplock bag. Enjoy the endless fun play dough provides!

Keeping Connected: Tips on Screen Time Use

We often worry about the appropriate exposure of our babies and toddlers to screens. Is is ok for them to hold and play with our smart phones once in a while? How much exposure is too much? Are there any benefits in using age appropriate apps for them?

I will address these questions, but I would like to add another question we may not wonder about as often: Is the amount I spend on my smart phone around my little one affecting him in any way? 

Research tells us that young children learn by “real” interactions with their environment. They learn about the world by mouthing toys and objects, by exploring their surroundings, and by interacting with adults and other children. All 5 senses are typically involved in these interactions. We also know that most of the brain develops during the first two years of life (by age 2 the brain reaches 85% of its adult size). What we don’t yet know is the effect screens may have in shaping the brain.

Author and Psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair writes in her book The Big Disconnect - Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital age: “Just because your baby can tap a touch screen to change a picture does not mean that he should…. In fact, research suggests that the process of tapping a screen or keypad and engaging with the screen activity may itself be rerouting brain development in ways that eliminate development of essential other neural connections your child needs to develop reading, writing, and higher level thinking later…. Screen time may contribute to uneven brain development, as screen based activities have been shown to stimulate visual processing more heavily that other parts of the sensorium.”

Keeping this in mind, the reality is that young children are exposed to screens in our everyday lives. Zero to Three has recently published guidelines for screen time for ages 0-3. Here is the summary of their recommendations:

  • Limit screen time to maximize the time young children spend interacting with the “real” world.
  • If and when children are interacting with a screen or viewing a screen, participate in the experience, make observations, and connect those experiences with the real world.
  • Choose the content of the screen time carefully and avoid fast paced programming.
  • Avoid “background” TV whenever possible.
  • Avoid any kind of screen exposure before nap and bed times (the light coming from the screen is stimulating for the brain and makes going to sleep harder).
  • Avoid giving food/snacks while watching TV or a tablet (there are studies that show a link between obesity and watching TV while eating).

Regarding our use of electronics in front of our children here are a couple of compelling thoughts. Everything a young child needs to learn during the first years of life comes from interacting with the environment and with people; when we add a smart phone, a tablet, or a laptop computer in the mix we are compromising the essence of that interaction. Studies show that infants are distressed when they look at a parent or main caregiver to establish a connection and the grown-up is unresponsive or uninterested (and we are unresponsive when we text or check our email or Facebook page). We also know that babies and toddlers are more interested in the objects they see us using as supposed to objects we don’t use - thus, the more they see us in our devices, the more interest they will have in them. Lastly, research shows that when parents are distracted by screens, young children tend to get their attention by negative behaviors which, in turn, provoke negative and more punitive reactions from parents.

In a nutshell here is my advice: have your child play and interact with the real three-dimensional world as much as possible and make the point of spending time with your little one exclusively without a screen being involved. Texts, Facebook updates, and emails are not urgent. They might feel urgent to us, but for the most part they can wait. Think about making times during the day in which you check your devices and having times during the day that are device free. These set times have the added benefit of becoming a great example of healthier use of electronics as your child gets older (believe me: I am the parent of a 14 and a 12 year old).

For more on this topic go to:

http://catherinesteineradair.com/books/the-big-disconnect/

http://www.zerotothree.org/parenting-resources/screen-sense/screen-sense_key-research-finds_final3.pdf

About to Fly With Your Baby or Toddler? Read these Helpful Tips

We all know that air travel with a young child can be challenging -- believe me I've been there! But there are a few things we can do to make the flight more enjoyable and less stressful. Read all about it at the blog I wrote for Spilling the Beans, run by my friends at Magic Beans, the toy store that hosts Galoop classes on Fridays!

http://mbeans.com/spillingthebeans/baby/air-travel-with-babies-cecilias-tips-for-a-peaceful-flight/

Oh No! My Toddler is Throwing Food!

As much as we wish it wasn’t so, throwing food is a behavior that virtually every young child engages in at some point. Understanding the reasons why they do it can help you prevent future messes, though, and using a few approaches consistently will help to minimize the food-throwing and, in time, bring it to an end. Read all about it at the blog I wrote for Spilling the Beans, run by my friends at Magic Beans, the toy store that hosts Galoop classes on Fridays!

 

http://mbeans.com/spillingthebeans/baby/feeding-baby/how-to-stop-your-child-from-throwing-food-from-the-high-chair/

Positive Discipline for Toddlers: Helping Your Child to Behave Without Losing Your Cool

Toddlers are such fun, but they’re also mercurial, emotional, and sometimes defiant, and it can be tough to avoid getting frustrated. Some knowledge about child development will help you understand why they behave this way, and the best way to encourage positive behavior and weather the storms. Positive disciplinary tactics reinforce your relationship with your growing child while teaching them how to navigate social situations. Check out my tips on positive discipline at the Spilling the Beans blog, run by my friends at Magic Beans, the toy store that hosts Galoop classes on Fridays!

http://mbeans.com/spillingthebeans/baby/news-and-information/positive-discipline-for-toddlers/

How to Introduce a Toddler to Cow’s Milk

Your baby is growing up so fast! If you’ve decided it’s time to introduce cow’s milk to your baby, I’ve got some tips to help you make the transition smoothly. Read them here at the Spilling the Beans blog, run by my friends at Magic Beans, the toy store that hosts Galoop classes on Fridays!

http://mbeans.com/spillingthebeans/baby/feeding-baby/have-a-cow-tips-for-transitioning-your-toddler-to-cows-milk/