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The Importance of Outside Play in Early Childhood

All the signs that fall is on the way are here; back-to-school sales, the beginning of football season and yes, the days are getting shorter. Now is the time to take advantage of daylight hours before playtime is limited by those early nights. There are many health benefits to be gained from fresh air and sunlight, both of which become limited once kids are in school all day and darkness falls at dinnertime or earlier!

Researchers once thought that myopia (near-sightedness) was hereditary, accounting for the high number of myopic children in some Asian countries but now they believe it could be due to excessive time spent indoors studying and a lack of outdoor exposure resulting in low exercise and poor eye muscle control from too much screen time. From boosting strength, bettering eyesight, building muscle coordination, improving sensory skills and developing social relationships, you can see the importance of outside play in early childhood is critical to healthy development.

Kids love to play outside; It gives them a chance to explore, practice skills and build self-confidence. However, not all kids are born naturalists. Some kids need a little prodding to get them away from their favorite indoor pastimes. Here are some of our favorite ideas for getting kids off the couch and outdoors to soak up all the daylight they can before it’s back to school!

Schedule an Outdoor Playdate

Playtime is always more fun with friends! Invite a few of your child’s friends over for an outside activity that everyone will enjoy. It doesn’t have to be fancy, think sidewalk chalk or one of our other outside art project ideas, or prepare a simple scavenger hunt in advance with small prizes for all. If you’ve got an athletic group, try hula hoops, beanbag toss or break out the scooters! In addition to the physical and mental benefits of outside play, your child will benefit from social development as well.

Host a Patio Potluck

Host a small get-together with a few families and let the kids play together. Set up a space for serving food and eating and everyone can bring a main or side dish to share. It’s a great chance for your kids to try new foods, interact with adults and play with kids their own age. Eating dinner outside is always a treat! After the meal, divide up into teams for some friendly games like this pool noodle soccer ball croquet

You don’t need to plan a party to enjoy dinner outside. Your family can dine al fresco and then enjoy some quality outdoor bonding time with the kids after.

Get Wet

Kids love to play in the water! If you have a yard where you can set up a sprinkler, that alone can keep kids amused as they run and jump through the spray. Or fill a few large containers with water and bring the tub toys outside. Water activities are a great way to have fun and learn about simple physics, even for very young children. Check out these great home projects for examples; Rain Gutter River and DIY Water Wall, both of which can be done in small outdoor spaces!

Art and Playtime in the Park

We love art activities because they’re portable and something the whole family can enjoy together. Whether you pack a picnic and enjoy lunch or dinner first, or just head out for some art time, grab your pencils, crayons, pastels or colored markers, a few pads of paper and you’re good to go. Parks are filled with great subjects for sketching; trees, leaves, people, flowers and water features. Let your kid’s imagination go wild as they pick the subject for everyone to sketch. 

When you’re ready to take a break, stretch out muscles and get some physical activity in by having a race, playing hide-and-seek, tossing a ball around or even doing some simple yoga poses!

Take these last weeks of summer and focus on the importance of outside play in early childhood to make the most out of the long days and warm weather. What is your child’s favorite outdoor game or activity? Share it with us in the comments!

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Summer Safety: How Much Water Should Babies Drink?

We all know our bodies need water to survive and thrive, but with the arrival of hot weather and summer heatwaves, you may be wondering how much water should babies drink to stay safely hydrated? After all, adults greatly increase their water consumption during hot summer months, especially with increased activity levels, so shouldn’t baby? However, the answer depends on the age of the child. Staying hydrated helps the body flush waste, keeps bowel movements regular and helps the body regulate temperature, so it’s important for children and adults to get a healthy amount of water each day.

0-12 Months

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) health guidelines recommend against giving newborns and infants water. A properly fed infant, either through breastfeeding or formula, will get all the hydration they need through eating due to the high water content in both. In fact, giving water to newborns can be harmful! Water intoxication occurs when too much water flushes out critical nutrients, especially sodium. Although rare, this condition can affect children and adults. Giving newborns and infants water also makes them feel full and less interested in eating which can result in nutritional imbalances.

As your baby gets older and begins to transition to pureed foods, it’s a good time to introduce sip cups with small amounts of water. Babies at this age may not need more than 2-4 ounces of water per day. The less breastmilk or formula your baby consumes, the more water they need. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for figuring out the exact amount of water babies need, so use your child’s solid/pureed food intake, activity level and their thirst as your guidelines!

One Year +

By around one year, your baby’s milk or formula intake will typically reduce to the recommended 16 ounces per day. At this point, a one-year-old should have approximately one 8-oz cup of water daily, increased by one cup for every additional year. A two-year-old should have two 8-oz cups, a three-year-old, 3 cups and so on. Again, you should let your baby’s activity and thirst levels help dictate the proper amount of water for their unique needs.

Hydration Tips for Babies

Between 12-15 months, babies develop their grasp and coordination enough to begin holding a cup and practice sipping. Covered sip cups are a good way to introduce water and help your little one master drinking. Here are some tips for keeping kids hydrated during the summer:

Encourage small, frequent sips. When your child is overheated and thirsty, they’re more likely to gulp water which can cause abdominal discomfort. Instead, encourage them to take small sips regularly as they play and throughout the day. This will also keep them hydrated without feeling full and reducing healthy food intake.

Make sipping fun. Sippy cups in kid-friendly colors or with the addition of a fun accessory like a straw will help your baby be excited about drinking water. Older kids will want to use the same dishes as their parents, so try matching cups and make staying hydrated a family event.

Supplement water intake with water-rich foods. Yummy summer snacks like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, peaches, and pineapple are all hydrating.

So, how much water should babies drink? There’s no perfect answer. But for active babies who’ve begun the transition to pureed and solid foods, the key is frequent, small amounts. As kids get older, they’ll need regular reminders to drink water before they get overheated. It’s much easier to prevent dehydration than treat it!

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Unplugged Travel with Toddlers: Road Trip Edition

Summer is nearly here and for many families that means road trip season! There are so many wonderful things to do and see, from family reunions and weddings to camping trips and beach adventures, most of us spend a lot more time in the car during this time of year. While watching movies or playing tablet games can be fine for some, we like to focus on unplugged travel with toddlers. By working with your child’s natural cycles, you can turn a device-free road trip into engaging, quality, family time and provide a childhood full of treasured memories instead of just another viewing of Frozen.

Don’t rush.

As adults, we usually plan a long-haul drive trying to get to our destination as soon as possible, but we have to change this mindset when traveling with kids.  Planning is key when it comes to road trips with toddlers. Kids have three main cycles; eat, sleep and play. The length of these cycles varies by age, but for infants and toddlers, the time in between can be quite short. Plan to stop approximately every two hours to stretch everyone’s legs, enjoy a snack and a bathroom break, especially important for toddlers in potty-training! Frequent breaks and taking your time will ease the stress of your child having their normal routine disrupted and help them enjoy the experience more. Try to end your day at 4 pm so that your child can eat dinner at their normal time and maintain their bedtime schedule. You can’t expect them to fall asleep right after checking into a hotel!

Pack accordingly.

Depending on the length of your road trip, it’s important to prepare for the unexpected. For short trips (under 3 hours), snacks, water, wipes and extra clothing/diapers are a must. For longer trips, several changes of clothing may be necessary along with extra wipes. Don’t forget a leak-proof storage bag for dirty clothing! Motion sickness can be unpredictable, so a few sick bags may also be in order. A thermos of warm milk is a surefire way to get toddlers to fall asleep once the car gets moving! Get a full packing checklist here!

Anticipate their needs.

Place a bag or other container that your toddler can reach next to their car seat and fill it with all the things they may want or need. Healthy, car-friendly snacks like sliced fruit or cheese (think non-crumbly) and water to keep them hydrated are important. Favorite sleeping comforts such as blankets or soft toys along with the white noise of the car is enough to put most toddlers to sleep. Coloring books or picture books with few words are a good choice for the car as reading will often lead to motion sickness. Audio books are something the entire family can enjoy. Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, Frog and Toad are Friends, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are toddler-approved (over 4 years old) and enjoyable for all!

Make the most of play time.

While many parents aim to drive when their kids are sleeping, playtime in the car helps kids stick with their regular daytime schedule much better. Here are some activities you can do with your kids while still keeping your eyes on the road.  

What would a road trip be without sing-alongs and car games? When your toddler is at their most active, it’s a great time to engage with them and build those road-trip memories! Make a couple of playlists in advance, especially if your child enjoys calming music before bed or naptime. Fill another with road trip classics and your toddler’s favorite dance music for a robust sing-along and in-your-seat dance party! It’s a great time to teach your kids the songs you sang at camp or in the car as kids and relive a little of your own childhood too.

Age-appropriate road trip games can be fun for kids of all ages. Simple scavenger hunts such as car colors for young kids and state license plates for older ones or a game of I Spy are good diversions. The Alphabet Game is great for toddlers, either spotting items outside the car that begin with each letter or through a scenario such as “I’m going on a picnic, I bring…” something beginning with A and so on. Twenty Questions is another classic your toddler will enjoy!

There are a lot of benefits of unplugged travel with toddlers, including building memories. Skip the DVDs and tablet time and help your kids be present. Also, work with their schedule to make naptime work for you. What are your best tips for road trips with toddlers? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Importance of Outside Time for Babies

It’s that time of year when the weather is pleasant and mild, plenty of beautiful spring days to enjoy outside with your kids. Sunlight is crucial to human health and outside time for babies can provide some valuable benefits! However, due to the delicate nature of their skin and susceptibility to UV rays, it’s important not to spend too much time in direct sunlight. Read on for some guidelines for infant sun exposure for vitamin D and tips for protecting your little ones during these warm spring and summer months!

The Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is produced through exposure to UV rays. It’s a crucial element to developing healthy bones and muscles. Lack of sunlight can lead to low vitamin D levels and cause health problems like rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.

Breastfed babies of vitamin D-deficient mothers may also develop a deficiency and children with darker skin naturally produce less than fair-skinned kids due to their skin pigment’s higher resistance to UV light. Dark-complected children can spend more time unprotected in the sun than fair children but still require sunscreen and are susceptible to sun damage.

Vitamin D is most notable for helping us absorb calcium, but it plays an important part in other systems as well. It aids in regulating your immune system and blood pressure while also helping prevent diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis.  

Sunlight also has powerful mental health benefits. Exposure to natural light increases the production of serotonin which plays an important part in many complex biological systems. Most noticeable to us is an improvement in mood and a sense of well-being. It’s the “happy” chemical!

Safe Sun Exposure for Infants and Children

Too much UV exposure can damage the delicate skin of babies so it’s important to keep direct sun exposure limited throughout the day. However, to get a healthy dose of vitamin D, you and baby will need some direct, unfiltered sunlight. After your sunning time, be sure to follow good sun safety guidelines to prevent permanent sun damage:

  1. Limit direct sun exposure to 15-30 minutes daily unless you’re in a southern region, then just 6-15 minutes will do. It’s a great time to air out any diaper rash or let the little ones run around in the buff or a diaper. Expose some skin to soak up those vitamin D-producing rays!
  2.  Get your sun exposure in the late morning. UV rays are most powerful during midday. Try to get your vitamin D just before noon to get a dose of sunshine just before it gets too hot.
  3.  Stay in the shade. When you’re not out getting sunlight for vitamin D purposes, you’ll want to limit your time in the sun.  Skip the heat and UV exposure between noon and 3 pm entirely if possible. Hang out in the shade, under trees, an umbrella or tent.
  4. Cover up. After sun time, make sure the kids are covered up. Although we may feel comfortable in tank tops and shorts during the heat, our adult skin can handle a lot more sun exposure than kids can. A loose, tightly-woven, long-sleeve shirt and loose pants in a breathable fabric will protect their skin during all-day outings. A hat is a must!
  5. Don’t forget the sunglasses. They’re more than a fashion statement, they protect young eyes from UV damage and help prevent ocular diseases like cataracts later in life.
  6. Sunscreen for you and baby. Once you’ve got your vitamin D for the day, don’t forget to thoroughly apply a child-safe sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin, even small areas like the tops of the feet, backs of hands and ears.
  7. Stay hydrated. Warm weather increases our need for hydration, so make sure your kids drink plenty of water. Although plain water is the best hydrator there is, kid-friendly alternatives include coconut water, organic juices, and flavored, unsweetened seltzers. Don’t forget water-packed snacks like watermelon and berries!

If you suspect that you or your baby are deficient in vitamin D, check with your doctor who can perform a test to check. Supplements are available for breast-feeding moms with low vitamin D to help ensure their babies get proper nutrition from their milk.

Throw a blanket on the lawn and enjoy your morning coffee while spending time with the kids or pack a picnic and head to the park, there are many places to enjoy the nice weather and get your daily vitamin D. Make this outside time for babies free from distractions like cell phones and tablets. Instead, make these 15-30 minutes of outside time part of a new daily routine to spend appreciating nature and each other.

How do you like to spend outside time with your kids? Do you have sun-safety tips to share? 

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Healthy Picnic Food for Kids You Can Prepare and Pack in a Flash

It’s time to make the most out of the remaining summer days and nights. From beach day trips to movie night at the park, there is still plenty of summertime fun left to be had. Of course, all this fun is bound to work up some appetites! Picnics and BBQs are a great (and delicious) way to enjoy outdoor time with kids. Fresh air, healthy food, and a beautiful setting are things the whole family can enjoy while being unplugged and joyfully disconnected from electronics and devices!

Parents are too busy to spend hours in the kitchen preparing for a picnic, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorite healthy picnic food for kids. All our picks are easy to prepare and pack, no fuss foods kids will love!

Healthy Picnic Food for Kids

Yogurt Parfait

Try layering your child’s favorite flavored yogurt with fresh summer fruit like peaches or berries for a healthy snack rich in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants. Low-fat vanilla yogurt with mixed berries is a great way to take advantage of berry season before it’s gone and makes a simple snack or dessert. Worried about it getting too warm? Freeze yogurt into cubes before packing. Pack reusable spoons and skip the plastic!

Edamame

Steamed, unripe soybeans may not sound delicious to kids, but they are! A favorite appetizer at Japanese restaurants, you can purchase bags of salted or unsalted edamame to toss in the freezer and store for a 3-minute snack anytime. A few minutes in the microwave to thaw and you’ve got a high protein, low cal snack that’s rich in iron, magnesium, and antioxidants. Kids will love sucking the soybeans out of the pod and eating with their fingers!

Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwiches

Protein-packed peanut butter spread between crisp apple slices makes for an easy, healthy snack. Core an apple, slice into rounds then add your fillings. For a little extra crunch, you can add a layer of granola or dry cereal to the peanut butter. Apples are high in fiber which is good for digestion and regularity. Two kid-favorite foods in one snack!

Popcorn

High in fiber and low in fat, popcorn makes a great snack any time of day. For the healthiest popcorn, use an air popper and skip the microwave bags. Popcorn’s delicate, nutty taste is perfect for pairing with creative flavored toppings, like ranch, truffle butter, parmesan, curry, Cajun, BBQ, cinnamon sugar, kettle corn, and maple pecan, just to name a few. Popcorn is simple and inexpensive to make so pop some extra for your child to share with new friends!

Hummus and Veggies

Hummus is a delicious snack that comes in many flavors and is packed with plant-based protein. Not only is hummus a filling snack from the protein-rich chickpeas but it’s high in fiber for healthy digestion too. Add in your child’s favorite fresh vegetables and some pita chips for a hearty and healthy dish. We love sliced red peppers, cucumber, baby carrots, sliced apples, cauliflower, celery sticks, and cherry tomatoes!

Picnic food for kids doesn’t have to take a lot of time or prep work. Simple, healthy dishes that parents can quickly pack to go are perfect for providing kids with plenty of energy and maximizing family time.

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Creating Balanced Meals for toddlers

Creating Balanced Meals for toddlers is a Snap with Miniware’s Healthy Meal Set with Smart Divider

The foods we choose for our babies have a big impact on their health and development. Their systems are evolving rapidly and they need healthy, nutritious food to convert into important building blocks for a strong foundation. As parents, one way to support our baby’s growth is through creating balanced meals.

Tips for Creating Balanced Meals for Kids

  •       Small regular meals are the best. Little tummies and growing bodies need small but steady fuel. It’s recommended toddlers eat 3 regular meals and 2-3 snacks per day as well as have 6-8 healthy drinks (water, unsweetened herbal tea)
  •       Load up on veggies! It’s recommended kids eat 1-2 cups of vegetables per day. Raw, steamed, baked, roasted, stir-fry; get creative!
  •       Include 5 toddler-size portions of starch per day. In addition to creating energy, your baby will get valuable vitamin B and calcium from bread, pasta, rice, cereal, and potatoes.
  •       Eat a rainbow. When it comes to fruit and veg, aim for a mix of colors to get the widest variety of vitamins and minerals. From ripe, red strawberries to purple carrots, beets and blueberries, try to feed your baby a rainbow each day! Aim for 5 kid-sized portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
  •       Aim for a moderate amount of full-fat dairy. Growing bodies use healthy fat from dairy, so skip the skim milk and low-fat yogurt. Doctors recommend 2-3 kid-size portions of dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt per day. Remember, no cow’s milk for babies under 1 year old!
  •       Two servings of protein are typically enough. The American diet is protein-heavy, but kids only need about 2 servings of protein per day through lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, or beans (soy or otherwise). It’s also beneficial to include a serving of oily fish like salmon, trout, or fresh tuna once per week for a dose of ultra-healthy fish oil plus zinc, iron, and vitamins A and D. 

Removable Suction Foot Means Less Mess for Parents

We designed Miniware’s Healthy Meal Combo Set to support both balanced meals and baby’s self-feeding training. The sandwich plate comes with a removable suction foot which locks the plate in place during feeding time. Even the most energetic eater can’t get it to budge! This keeps the plate on the table or tray where it belongs and means less mess for parents. When your child is ready, just remove the foot for a “big kid” experience.

Say Good-Bye to “My Food is Touching”

You can use the plate on its own or combine with our Smart Divider to transform the plate into 4 compartments. Just snap in place! The Smart Divider is perfect for self-feeders as each section can be filled with different foods types or sauces. Many kids don’t like their foods touching so this keeps soft/liquid foods in place for a clean eating experience. Both the sandwich plate and divider have curved edges to help new eaters pick up and scoop foods.

Portion Control the Way You Like It

You can also use the compartments as a guide for creating balanced meals. Portion a main dish into the larger section and add sides/dessert to the others. Grains and vegetables are recommended in larger portions than protein and fruit, which can go in smaller sections. You can even remove the divider and use it as a separate dish. How you decide to portion the meal is entirely up to you! The Healthy Meal Set is portable and great for picnics and outdoor eating. Just toss in the dishwasher to clean!

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6 Surprise Foods to Help Toddlers Sleep

No doubt every parent has felt the despair of the overtired toddler. Sometimes they just try so hard not to miss out on anything! Or, maybe you have a rambunctious kid with the go-power of the Energizer Bunny who never sits still. Whichever scenario suits your family, good news! There are natural ways you can ease your toddler into sleep.

Many people are aware that warm milk makes a soothing nighttime sleep aid and herbal tea works well too. Sweeten with a bit of honey to make it more appealing to children. Dehydration can keep kids awake, so a small amount of warm liquid is a good idea. Not too much or you risk interrupting their sleep for bathroom needs! In addition to a small cup of milk or caffeine-free herbal tea, there are also foods known to induce sleepiness in both children and adults. Keep in mind that it takes around an hour for these foods to take full effect, so plan your snacks accordingly!

Figs

Naturally sweet figs make an enjoyable treat that’s nutritious too. High in potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron, figs help to relax muscles and provide fiber to keep tummies feeling full.

Bananas

Another kid favorite, bananas are also packed with potassium and magnesium. These natural muscle relaxants create a feeling of calm plus the amino acid tryptophan they contain is processed into serotonin and melatonin, two compounds that promote feelings of happy sleepiness.

Sweet Potato

Delicious sweet potatoes are toddler-approved snacks that are full of nutrients. A warm mash is soothing and good for babies while homemade sweet potato chips or fries are a fun way to feed them to older kids.

Nuts

Almonds and other nuts are high in sleep-inducing nutrients. For a tasty pre-nap snack, whole wheat crackers with nut butter make a good choice. The fiber will keep small stomachs feeling full while the melatonin in the nut butter will make them sleepy.

Cottage Cheese

Double down on relaxing food effects by pairing fruit with cottage cheese. Cottage cheese contains tryptophan which increases serotonin and makes a healthy, filling snack. Add bananas, raspberries or pineapple to naturally sweeten it and take advantage of their bedtime benefits too!

Oatmeal

While traditionally a breakfast food here in America, oatmeal is actually packed with minerals and supplements that promote sleepiness! Rich in natural muscle-relaxers like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium, go easy on sweeteners that may keep kids active. The high fiber content will keep toddlers full until their next mealtime.

These are just a few kid-friendly foods to help toddlers sleep that you can turn to. Experiment to see what works best with your child and what they enjoy. Many fruits, nuts and dairy products offer similar positive effects.

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Design Talk: Keeping Your Identity as New Parents

As parents, we adapt and mold our lives to fit the needs of our infants. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in our kids and forget that we have our own preferences, needs, and wants too! 

3 tips for keeping your identity as new parents:

  1. Purchase what you love, not what you think appeals to your baby. The accessories you choose should integrate with your personal style, not detract or distract from it!
  2. Be true to yourself. Don’t give into peer pressure from parenting or playgroups. Although young, our children absorb everything we say and do. Show your kid from the very beginning that it’s okay to just be yourself.
  3. Keep your own interests. It’s easy to fall into the routine of spending every waking moment attending to our precious child’s needs, but that’s not doing anyone any favors! Allot time for your own activities and joys. This will create a happier, more balanced parent!

You don’t have to lose your adult identity when you have a baby. You just need to know where to shop!

It’s common for children’s products to be plastered with pictures of baby things, little ducks and bears, rattles, pink or blue puffy prints. Maybe those things are fine if the baby is toting around the diaper bag, but we wanted something that showcases our style as parents! That’s why we’ve created an entire children’s line around clean, modern, understated Scandinavian design that parents and kids love.   

Miniware Designs Are Made for Parents and Children

Miniware design is more than made for just children, it’s made for parents too. We put great thought into practicality, long lifespan, and sustainability. Our GrowBento is one of our most popular products. The stainless-steel shell is durable enough to withstand years of kid’s snacks and lunches without cartoon characters and wild colors your child will likely outgrow. It’s portable, easy to clean and it’s stylish enough for mom or dad to take to work in a pinch!

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Going Somewhere? Check Out Our Favorite Homemade Travel Snacks for Toddlers!

Each year the third Monday in February offers many people a break from the winter doldrums with a President’s Day long weekend. It’s the perfect time to take a mini-vacation with the kids, to visit relatives, a favorite destination or if the weather cooperates, just get out, relish the fresh air and enjoy nature’s beauty.

Whether you’re taking a day trip or a weeklong adventure, snacks make traveling with toddlers so much easier. When those little tummies start rumbling, tears and tantrums are just around the corner. It’s best to be over-prepared with snacks than under! Homemade snacks are both healthier and more affordable than store-bought and with Miniware’s favorite Sip & Snack set, or GrowBento Box and Silipods, you can easily store travel snacks of all kinds in a secure, portable and kid-friendly container!

Take a look at our favorite homemade travel snacks for toddlers:

Veggies with pita with hummus. You may already have these toddler-approved snacks on hand. The GrowBento Box with Silipods makes it easy to store veggies and dips/sauces separately and prevents a soggy pita!

Sandwich squares and fruit. Who doesn’t love to eat finger sandwiches?! Make mealtime that much more fun with sandwiches cut into small squares or rectangles. Add fresh fruit on the side for a delicious and healthy treat. Silipods can securely store juicy foods and even soups without fear of leaking.

Waffles with yogurt and berries. This combo is always a hit with kids and is perfect for early morning travel! Cut waffles into “fingers” or squares, fill a Silipod with fruit or vanilla yogurt and garnish with another Silipod of berries. Who can resist? You might even want to pack another GrowBento for yourself!

Here are some great make-ahead recipes that are travel-friendly, and toddlers love to snack on:

Mini Carrot Corn Muffins – Parents.com

These naturally sweet and delicious mini muffins are always a hit. Kids love the taste and small size and we love that they’re low sugar and packed with healthy carrots. They go great with winter soups and since Miniware Silipods are microwave safe, no extra dishes are required to heat up foods on arrival!

Cinnamon Apple Chips – Parents.com

These crispy apple chips are delicious, fun to eat and so much healthier than store-bought chips! It’s smart to make extra because everyone will love these simple snacks! To keep them fresh, store them in our airtight Sip & Snack covered bowl!

Crunchy Cereal Trail Mix – EatingWell.com

This make-ahead mix is a great snack that can be enjoyed all day. Whole grain cereal, seeds and raisins give it texture and crunch while mini chocolate chips are a sweet surprise. Best of all, you can customize this recipe with whichever ingredients your family prefers!

Keep hunger pains and grumpy kids at bay by bringing an assortment of travel snacks for toddlers on your trip. Diversity will keep kids interested on longer journeys and helps with picky eaters. What travel snacks do your kids enjoy? Share your favorite homemade snacks in the comments!

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4 Clutter-Busting Ideas for How to Store Kids’ Artwork

With the kids back in school, now is the perfect time to get a handle on the copious papers that come home with them, especially your child’s creative artwork! Learning art is much more than a fun project to break up the school day; creating art provides many benefits for kids. Art promotes creativity, problem-solving, patience, attention to detail, focus and decision making. Creating art also helps boost self-confidence. You can reward your child’s efforts by proudly displaying and safely storing their handiwork, which will also give you a beautiful record of their creative development over the years, something you can enjoy looking back at together when they’re older.

We love these simple ideas for how to store kids’ artwork for safekeeping and keep things organized:

Create a Gallery Wall

Creating a space dedicated to your child’s art is a great way to show how proud you are of their work. Choose some affordable picture frames and display them as you would any other treasured work of art. You can rotate your child’s favorite pieces throughout the year to keep things current. Having your child help choose which pieces should be hung in the “gallery” will foster decision-making skills too.

Frames aren’t your thing? Create an easy art gallery with a length of thin wire and decorative clips or use corkboard squares and colorful pushpins!

Use a Dedicated Storage Container

Under the bed plastic storage containers or other wide, flat bins make great artwork storage spaces that can handle oversized and 3-dimensional pieces your child may bring home. Use this to store any art not currently displayed in your gallery. At the end of the year, you and your kid can look through the collection and decide which pieces to keep or toss. Or just label the box with the school year and store it. It’s an easy way to keep art organized by child and year without the size limitations of binders or art portfolios.

Archive Your Favorites

For the most important artwork your child brings home, the pieces you’ll want to treasure forever, consider archiving them either digitally or in archive-quality storage to prevent damage over long periods of time. With every phone and tablet featuring a digital camera, it’s easier than ever to create a digital gallery of your child’s best works to share with grandparents and family via email and social media. Alternatively, use one of the many online photo companies to create a bound book, calendar or other sharable collection of keepsake art. Makes a great holiday gift for far-away family!

Recycle and Upcycle

Let’s be honest, not every piece of paper with crayon on it is something you’ll want to save forever. At the end of the school year or perhaps midway, depending on how abundant you child’s work is, take some time to sit with your child and decide which pieces to recycle. Not only will this help with storage space, but this type of decision making can help your child learn that it’s okay to let things go. Keep only what reflects your child’s talent and creativity and get rid of the scribbled coloring book pages. Giving them a say in what stays and goes ensures you don’t accidentally recycle one of your child’s favorite pieces.

For pieces that don’t quite make the gallery or archival cut, consider using them as greeting cards for grandparents or wrapping paper for special presents. Your child will be proud of their art is part of a gift!