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Milestones: Master Sipping with Baby Food Smoothies

One fun way to get your kids their full servings of fruit and veggies is through delicious baby-friendly smoothies. Smoothies aren’t just nutritious and easy to make but can also be a fun activity to share with your little ones. Children love being involved in the kitchen and set up is easy. All you need is a blender, juice plus fresh fruits and vegetables.

For very small children like toddlers who are new to self-feeding making a smoothie is a good opportunity to experience new tastes and food textures. They can experience small bites of fresh ingredients and then all together in a blended masterpiece. You can also use your ingredients to teach them about both color and nutrition, explaining that it’s important to eat different colored produce every day for a healthy body. Older kids can learn to associate different colors with different body parts (red helps our heart, orange helps our eyes and skin and green is healthy for our whole bodies for example).

Baby Food Smoothies Offer Wonderful Benefits

– Great way to introduce new foods to baby.
– Increased nutrient absorption and improved digestion.
– A healthy way to get vegetables into picky eaters.
– Smoothies are great on the go!
– A fun project to do with your child

For new self-feeders, baby food smoothies are a yummy way to experience sipping and using a straw. A completely different technique than scooping purees, smoothies can help encourage proper sipping and sucking as they learn about timing, pressure and other refined eating skills.

To start, we suggest using a cup with a secure base to keep it in place as your child learns. This will prevent knock-over spills and your child spilling smoothie on their clothing. A lid will also prevent a further mess. Soft silicone straws are preferred for babies and young children and stainless steel is a green alternative to plastic straws suitable for both adults and kids

We suggest using our 1-2-3 Sip!, which is designed for little hands! 

Smoothies are also a great way to get nutritious fruit and vegetables into picky eaters. Who can resist a cold, sweet smoothie?

Quick Guidelines: 
Baby food smoothies can be made with any ingredients you like, but if you need a starting place here’s how to get started:

1. Choose a juice or milk. Apple is a good juice to start with and any type of milk will suffice, dairy, soy, almond, whatever your pleasure.
2. Add some fruit. Nutritious fruits like mango, papaya, blueberries, avocado, and bananas are healthy, kid-friendly choices. You can use fresh, frozen, or a mix of the two.
3. Select your veggies. If your child is new to smoothies, start with mild vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, carrots or celery. Later you can introduce the good leafy greens that many kids don’t like on their own such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, or beet greens.
4. Blend! You can add more liquid if your child prefers a thinner smoothie or add some ice or frozen yogurt cubes for a thicker “milkshake” effect. 

Smoothie tips:

1. Add the liquid first for the easiest blend.
2. Start on the lowest setting and then increase the speed.
3. Frozen greens offer the same great nutrients but tasteless “green.” Wash and thoroughly dry your own greens and place them in freezer bags if your child objects to the taste of fresh. 
4. Create your smoothie combinations in bulk then bag and freeze for simple one-step smoothies later.
5. Use muffin tins or ice cube trays to freeze smoothie add-ins like yogurt or juice cubes to add to your prepared smoothie combos.

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Fun Physical Activities for Infants 0-12 Months to Build Strength, Coordination, and Bonding

When you think about exercise, you probably don’t think much about exercising your baby, but infants can benefit from fun, simple exercises that help them develop the strength and skills they need to thrive.

There are three main benefits of baby exercises:

1.       Exercise builds muscular strength needed to hold up the head and to begin sitting, crawling and eventually walking.

2.       It develops gross and fine motor skills for activities like rolling over, sitting, picking up small objects and grasping eating utensils.

3.       It strengthens bonds between baby and family members. Moms and dads can exercise with baby for family fitness time.

Needless to say, babies don’t need a ton of exercise. Just a few minutes a couple of times a day as a natural part of playtime is enough to give your little one a head start. Exercising along with your baby also has its benefits. We all know how hard it can be hard to squeeze in time for an hour of Pilates as a new parent, but working with your baby’s active time, you can also enjoy the stress relieving benefits of exercise together!

Here are some of our favorite physical activities for infants 0-12 months old and yourself that you can share!

Tummy Time

Infants spend a lot of time on their backs so tummy time can help develop underused muscles for even growth. When your baby is on her tummy, she will instinctively want to raise her head. This helps build strong muscles in the neck and shoulders that are necessary for sitting and standing upright. When you think of it from a design perspective, as adults our smaller, narrower necks must be quite strong from balancing such heavy and disproportionately large heads up all day!

Tummy time isn’t a marathon. Start with just a few minutes daily and gradually increase the time to at least 10 minutes per day as your baby’s strength grows. You should always supervise your infant during tummy exercises.

There are some great exercises and strength building poses that parents can do during baby’s tummy time, such as planking, cobra pose, or locust pose. The best thing about doing these exercises on the floor face to face with your baby is that they will see you modeling healthy behavior and as they grow, they’ll begin to mimic your poses and exercises to gain the benefits too!

Another good way to bond with your baby during this exercise is to place them on top of your legs. They get to enjoy their exercise while looking directly at mommy or daddy, and parents get a good lower leg strength workout!

Happy Baby

This relaxing yoga pose comes naturally to your baby over time and it feels great for adults too. With baby on his back, gently help him grasp his toes. Bring baby’s knees towards his tummy. Accompany this with some gentle rocking. If your baby is too young to grasp his or her feet, you can gently hold the baby’s feet and help them in this pose.

Happy Baby helps with hip flexibility, relaxing the spine and can be helpful in relieving gas or indigestion, which may burst your zen moment, but baby will feel better! For parents with limited flexibility, this pose can be modified by using a stretch band or strip of fabric around the bottom of the feet. This is a calming pose that can help soothe the mind before sleep.

Baby Sit Ups

No one is saying your baby needs to do crunches, but some gentle sitting exercises will help your infant build core and upper body strength needed for sitting, crawling and walking later. This is a fun exercise all family members can participate in. Place the baby on a blanket, on their backs. Making sure the blanket is supporting your baby’s delicate neck, grasp both sides of the blanket and slowly lift your baby into a sitting position. Gently return them to a lying down position. Surprising baby with silly faces and baby talk is a surefire way to get lots of those wonderful baby gurgles and smiles! Mom, dad, grandparents and even supervised older siblings can use this exercise to bond and play with baby. If only our own sit-ups were that fun and easy!

Downward Facing Dog

This restorative pose is great for adults and babies, although you’ll need to wait until your baby is crawling, typically somewhere between 6-10 months. A stretching and strength pose, adults will want to hold this pose for 1-3 minutes. You can involve your baby by modeling this pose and turning it into a game. Your baby will love hanging out upside down with you, playing peek-a-boo or making faces at each other! Downward Facing Dog is good for digestion, strengthens the arms and legs and stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, feet and hands. Child’s Pose is a natural next step after this one, which is another simple stretching and resting pose that both parents and baby can enjoy.

Just remember to take it easy when exercising with your baby. Keep sessions short and stop when the baby is unhappy or tired. Turning a little bit of your daily playtime with your baby into fun, healthy exercise will bring you both the benefits of strength, balance, coordination, and improved mental health!

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The New Parent Guide to Baby’s First Steps

Witnessing the miracle of baby milestones is an experience that crosses all boundaries. It seems like just yesterday you received a little bundle of joy and now here they are sitting, scooting, crawling, and headed for walking! What parent hasn’t wanted to stop time to enjoy just a little more of their baby’s early stages? They just seem so fleeting! But fear not, your baby’s first steps aren’t just exciting but open up a whole new, fun, developmental stage to experience together!

One day your little one might be unsteadily standing, clutching a sofa cushion and the next, they’re cruising using whatever they can grab to keep them upright. Before you know it, you’ll be in the next heart-pounding stage of independent walking, where they look like they’re about to topple over any second. But then they’ll gain their balance and it’s off to the races! And hopping, jumping, skipping and dancing! A bevy of incredible toddler milestones comes next, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Dos and Don’ts of Baby’s First Steps

As your baby develops, they’re gaining the strength and balance needed to keep them upright for the rest of their lives.  All babies grow at their own pace. There’s no “right” time for your baby to take their first steps. The best thing you can do is to help them build their muscles, coordination, and balance, then let them go at their own pace.

Here’s what you can do as parents to help guide your baby towards the walking milestone:

DO encourage playtime in the sitting position. Once your baby begins sitting upright without extra support, they are building the core strength to stand and stay upright. Help your baby develop strong back and abdominal muscles by playing games in the sitting position, such as rolling a ball back and forth or building with blocks.

DO give positive encouragement and praise crawling. Crawling is an important landmark prior to walking. Encourage your baby to distance crawl during this time with fun games like crawl chase or ball chase. Build tunnels for baby to crawl through and turn it into a peek-a-boo/hide-and-seek game. The important thing is to keep baby moving during playtime!

DO get your squats in. Once your baby begins pulling herself up into the standing position with help from furniture or parents, it’s important to teach her how to safely get back to the floor. You can demonstrate and help your baby with standing, then bending the knees into a squat, then help your baby gently return to a seated or crawling position. Not only will this build leg and glute strength (in both of you) but gives your baby the skills to prevent awkward falls in the future.

DO baby proof for cruisers! Soon your baby will be zipping around the house using furniture, the walls and other people as support. This stage is called “cruising.” This increased mobility can uncover new dangers for baby such as unsteady furniture, falling objects, and access to cabinets and drawers. Get down on your baby’s level to see what he can reach!

DO encourage standing without help. Once baby is ready to let go and stand on her own, she’s working on building balance. Encourage this milestone by helping her to stand, then let go and excitedly count. Give lots of praise when she returns to the floor. Soon you can play short standing games like patty-cake, peek-a-book, toss the ball, and blowing bubbles. Dancing is another fun way to encourage your baby to stand in one spot.

DO celebrate baby’s first steps! Those first steps are a monumental milestone for your baby so go ahead and celebrate the heck out of it! Cheer your baby on as they move on their own to give them the confidence and encouragement to keep walking. This is just the beginning of having a zooming toddler so cherish the moment and congratulate your baby on a job well done!

And, finally…

DON’T rely on baby walkers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly discourages the use of walkers, stating that they actually slow the natural development of walking and are very dangerous. More than 9,000 babies per year are injured by walkers and 2,000 of those end up in emergency rooms with serious injuries.

DON’T panic. The average age for walking is 12 months, but there’s nothing wrong if it takes longer for your baby’s first steps. Just continue with strength-building games and positive encouragement, soon your baby will join the ranks of walking, running, amazingly fast, toddlers!

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Self-Feeding Tips for 9-Month-Olds

When your baby reaches around nine months, things really get interesting! Emotionally you may find your little one to be clingy with primary caregivers and apprehensive or afraid of strangers. She probably understands the word “no,” and has started making word-like sounds such as “bababa” and “mamama” on the path to developing her new vocabulary. Physically, she’s gaining new skills too.

Although all babies develop at their own speed, this is a time of movement. Your baby will pull him/herself up, get into a sitting position by him/herself and eventually start crawling. You’re about to have a new little shadow! Both gross and fine motor skills are getting stronger and more defined. Baby can pass items from hand to hand, bring toys to her mouth and pick up smaller objects by pinching. These new skills are perfect for self-feeding training!

Help your child master new self-feeding skills.

More than ever your baby will want to be an active part of mealtime. He will be watching your every move and doing his best to mimic family members in both sounds and actions. Baby-led weaning focuses on allowing your baby to learn to feed themselves with regular food instead of liquid cereals and purees. This takes a burden off of busy parents by removing the need to prepare special foods. Instead, you can serve baby-friendly versions of whatever the rest of the family is eating.

Here’s how to put your baby’s new skills into practice with self-feeding tips for 9-month-olds!

1. Plate baby’s meal before you spice. Babies have new palates and have no need for heavy spices, sugar, salt, or fats. Your family may prefer buttered, seasoned steamed vegetables, but your baby will like her plain version just as much!

2. Cover-up. Learning to feed yourself is messy business! Invest in high quality, easy to clean bibs. We created our Roll & Lock  Silicone Bib, especially for self-feeders. It’s wide, extra-long, and has a deep pocket to catch all the mess. All-natural silicone is comfy for babies and won’t stain like fabric bibs. Just toss in your dishwasher’s top rack to clean. Learn more about why parents prefer our Miniware bibs here! 

3. Choose baby-safe finger foods. With her new pinching skills, your baby can enjoy a wider variety of safe finger foods. Crunchy foods like cereals and light, flaky crackers break down easily in the baby’s mouth to prevent choking. Fruits and vegetables should be firm enough to grasp but mash easily with a fork. Good foods to practice pinching skills on include well-cooked noodles, ripe banana chunks, soft tofu, peas, and cereal O’s.

Tip: If your baby is having a hard time grasping slippery foods like fruit, grind up cereal O’s into a powder and coat the chunks to give him a better grip!

4. Keep it simple. Offer your baby just a few pieces of food at a time. He won’t become overwhelmed and possibly cranky and it cuts down on the mess!

5. Introduce baby cutlery. Your baby is absorbing everything around her, including how and what you eat! At first they won’t be much use to her, but help her get used to chunky, baby-friendly utensils and soon she’ll be mimicking your scooping and spearing and on her way to feeding herself with a fork and spoon. Miniware’s My First Cutlery set is made of plant-based PLA with rounded, soft edge that feels good on baby’s gums, and features chunky handles for a sure-grip for little hands.