Archive for May, 2005

Summer Vacation Survival Tips

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

The summer season is here and along with it comes summer vacation for the school-aged kids. Moms are now responsible for coming up with the ideas and curriculum for their children and I am the first to admit that by the summer my creative juices have just about run out. How can you make summer another time of fun and enjoyment rather than boredom? And just how do you do this on a budget? There are lots of great things that you can do this summer and ways to keep organized when doing it. Here are a few of MomAdvice’s suggestions for summer survival:


Rather than taking one long vacation in the summer, break your vacations into smaller and more affordable activities. Some suggestions are hitting area zoos, amusement parks, local festivals, and museums. By taking smaller vacations, you have a few things to look forward to rather than just one event. Check out some books from your local library on activities that you can do within your own state and then research on how to get the best price. Talk about your vacation plans with friends and see if they know of any places that are cheap to stay at or where you can get coupons for money off of tickets. Ask your library as well if they offer any season passes that you can take advantage of. One of our local libraries had a pass to the art museum which library patrons could check out for the day gaining them free admittance into the local museums and galleries. We checked these out and saved thirty dollars every time we hit one of these places. Call in advance though because you may be competing with another family for the same day.

If you are planning a vacation to another state or even within your own state, visit the state’s visitor’s bureau website to get a packet of information and coupons for the state. For example, we were planning a trip to Cedar Point in Ohio so I requested a packet of information to be sent to me by the visitor’s bureau. Within this packet of information was a gold mine of coupons for the amusement park including buy one get one free admissions which saved us over twenty-five dollars.

Stocking Up

With the summer season comes a whole new set of things that you will need to be stocked up on. With children home from school, you are now the one who is to come up with the creative lunches and snacks for the kids. Try and keep the fridge well-stocked with lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grain breads, meats, and cheeses so that you can quickly make sandwiches and can avoid spending money at the drive-thru. Having items on hand that children can make themselves will also take some pressure off of you for providing the meal.

A great way to save time on cleaning up after your meals is by taking advantage of the pleasant weather and dining outside. Our family does a lot of eating outside on our patio furniture which makes for easy clean-up. When it is just my son and I though, we eat outside on a plastic mat “picnic-style”. We love to do this and the mat only requires a quick shake and clean-up is a breeze.

We also purchased a small cooler lunchbox for our day trips out which is a great investment for the family. We take this everywhere and fill it with the day’s lunch or snacks while we are out. Filling this with healthy snacks and food will save you money as well as saving you from a less than healthy trip to the drive-thru when you are out on one of your day trips or just running errands. This cooler can also be used when grocery shopping for keeping your ice cream and meats at cool temperatures.

Another great purchase for your car is a seat organizer where you can stick books and toys in for the kids as well as diapers, wet wipes, and maps to get to your destination. Don’t forget to pack a towel for brushing off after those trips to the beach as well.

A kiddie pool and sandbox can be a great investment for the summer as well for the younger kids. My son spends hours playing in his sandbox and kiddy pool and the investment was small compared to the hours of enjoyment he can get from these. If a family member is looking for a gift this summer for a birthday or just because, suggest buying one of these items so that you don’t have to pay for these yourself. We asked for these items for our son’s birthday and also used our anniversary money to put towards a family zoo pass for the summer.

Don’t forget to stock up on all of those fun summer toys for the kids to play with outside. You can stock up on a lot of your fun summer items over at the local Dollar Store. We purchase sidewalk chalk, sandbox tools and toys, bubbles, and water guns. They offer a wide variety of fun summer toys that won’t break the bank. You can also make a couple of these yourself with these recipes.

Super Sidewalk Paint

¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
6-8 drops of food coloring

Directions: Mix cornstarch and cold water together in a small plastic bowl. Add food coloring and stir. Repeat this process to creat different colors of Super Sidewalk Paint. Super Sidewalk Paint can easily be washed away with water

Treasure Stones

1 cup flour
1 cup used coffee grinds
½ cup salt
¼ cup sand
¾ cup water

Directions: Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Slowly add water and knead until the mixture is the consistency of bread dough. Break off a piece of dough and roll it into the size of a baseball. Make a hole in the center of the ball big enough to hide treasures in. Fill the hole with treasures and seal with some extra dough. Let your treasure stone air dry for two or three days or until hard or bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at 150 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes. If you would like to tin your Treasure Stone, add one tablespoon of powder tempera paint to tint.

Water Balloon Yo-Yo

1 small balloon
1 large rubber band

Directions: Cut the rubber band in half. Tie a loop securely on one end of the rubber band. It should be big enough to fit around your finger. Use a garden hose or water faucet to fill the balloon ¼ of the way with water. Blow air into the balloon until it is the size of a tennis ball. Tie the balloon shut. Securely tie the rubber band around theknot on the balloon. Place the rubber band loop around your middle finger and gently throw the balloon toward the ground. When the balloon springs back toward your hand, try to grab it.

Rainy days during the summer can be particularly difficult for children and parents alike. A great way to make these days go by quicker is by keeping lots of craft supplies on hand. You can also print out free printable coloring pages and crafts through We keep lots of construction paper, play dough, crayons, and coloring books on hand for fun and creative activities during the day.

Keep in mind that your library can be a wonderful summer resource for your family. Obviously, the library offers lot of great summer reading to help you get through those rainy days, but try to look past just the literature and ask your children’s librarian what types of summer reading and activities they offer. I still remember as a child that the library offered a great summer reading program that worked in conjunction with our local Pizza Hut where we received stars for meeting reading goals that could be used towards food at the restaurant. This motivated me so much as a child that I read many more books then I had anticipated. Setting reading goals during the summer can be very rewarding for children. Make sure to ask your child’s teacher for a reading list of books that they should be reading in preparation for the next grade. If your child is not reading yet, be sure to take advantage of this time to read to them. It truly is amazing the power literature has on our minds and speech development.

Don’t Over Schedule

For some reason many parents tend to go overboard on the summer classes and activities. I remember as a child how much I enjoyed just running around through the sprinklers, getting ice cream, or taking a trip to the park. I do not remember as clearly the classes that I took or the activities that my parents had paid for. It is so important to allow our kids to be kids! Kids really do remember the little outings that you do with them and often these outings and time spent with them have a greater impact then four weeks of camp will.

Remember that this is their summer vacation. I know that I do not enjoy having every single minute of my vacation booked with things to do; likewise children enjoy having some downtime. Try to keep this in mind when signing them up for various summer programs. Maybe allowing your child to pick one or two activities during the summer will be more manageable for both you (the driver) and your child.

Making Memories

Most importantly, enjoy your summer to its fullest… Whether it is long lazy days of lounging by the kiddie pool or a fun-filled summer chock full of day trips and activities- try to make it a summer to remember. I am filling my son’s memory book up this summer of all the wonderful things we have gotten to do. I always think that I will remember each and every moment with him- the smells of the hot dogs on the grill, the sand between our toes as we play for hours in his sandbox, or his sweet face full of fascination at the tiny bugs crawling on his swing set, but all too quickly it is gone. Put your pen to paper this summer and lovingly write those memories down so someday you and your child can reminisce over the beauty of that hot summer of his youth and all that you shared together during those wonderful months.

Baby’s Mama Drama

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

Well, I finally have some good news to share with our readers- we are expecting another baby! It only took almost two years, a lot of crying, and a (near) trip to the mental hospital, but I am happy to report that we will be expecting another little bundle of joy sometime at the end of December.

I couldn’t blog because this pregnancy has consumed every last waking thought for me these days. In January, I had suffered a miscarriage, so the news that we were finally expecting was met with some apprehension and VERY nervous happiness.

We have already got to see our baby twice through ultrasound so having a “higher risk” pregnancy definitely gets you in for ultrasounds, appointments, and blood work a lot quicker. It is comforting to see the little heart beating and to know that all is right in our little one’s world this time. I had never realized how blessed I was with such a perfect pregnancy as I had with our Ethan, but I will never take that for granted again.

Thank you to those of you who prayed for us and cared for us during these past two years- we couldn’t have gotten to this point without your support & love. Cheers to another little bundle of joy & another source of inspiration for the site & the blog!!!! None of this would be possible without this whole motherhood thang.

Diaper Bag Essentials

Monday, May 16th, 2005

There was a time in my life when I could hop in the car, carrying only a purse, and head out the door with absolutely no planning. Ah, those were the days! Upon having our son though, I realized that any trip out the door had to be a well-executed one and it often took hours just to get ready for our destination. As he has gotten older, I can now stash the essential items he needs conveniently in my gigantic mommy purse, but those days of enormous diaper bags are definitely not far from my memory. Here is a list of my own essential diaper bag items.


Obviously, if we are packing a “diaper” bag, we will need diapers. But how many diapers do you need? This will depend on the length of the trip and the age of your child. When they are infants, they are being changed every hour so a diaper per hour would suffice. This amount of diapers would only get you by, however, if you have no explosive emergencies. It was my rule of thumb to carry what I needed and to add two just to be safe. I would rather carry a heavier diaper bag then be stuck with a nasty emergency without the necessary tools I would need to resolve it.

Diaper Cream

Sore bottoms can happen at any time and it is good to always have some diaper cream on hand when a rash strikes.


Wipes are handy, not only for wiping little bottoms, but also for wiping messy faces. I usually carry a big sack of them with me because I use them to wipe bottoms, faces, and runny noses. Store these wipes in an airtight container to retain the moisture in them. You can also make your own wipes with this wonderful recipe:

Homemade Baby wipes


  • Strong paper towels work the best (for example, Brawny).
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup of baby oil
  • 1/2 cup baby magic baby bath


  1. Cut one roll of paper towels in half.
  2. Take out the core so wipes pull out of the center.
  3. Place 1/2 roll of paper towels in container.
  4. Pour solution over towels.
  5. Store in container. Makes 2 1/2 rolls.

Changing Pad

You never know where you will end up changing your baby and you also never can tell what the sanitary conditions will be like where you are. Keep a changing pad in your diaper bag and use a soft burp cloth for layering if the surface is too hard for your little one.

Antibacterial Gel & Wipes

Antibacterial gel really comes in handy after you have changed a dirty diaper. The wipes will also come in handy when you have to set your child in a germ-infested grocery cart, on playground equipment, or just to give your kids a good swiping after another child has sneezed on them. Trust me, you are a mother, and it is okay to be a little germaphobic especially when you are a new mommy.

Burp Cloths

These are wonderful not only for all of that spit-up, but they can also be essential in padding your changing table or cushioning a little head.

Zipper Bags

Zipper bags are one of those things that you just can’t live without especially in the early years. These bags are perfect for storing those soiled diapers, as well as soiled clothing. These items can really leave an odor in your bag, if you have nowhere to dispose of them, so tuck a couple of dryer sheets in for good measure to keep your bag smelling fresh.


Store, at least, one extra outfit for any diaper emergency. Nothing is worse than having a soiled outfit and nothing for you to change your child into. Trust me on this one- I have been there!

Feeding Supplies

Feeding supplies can mean an array of things depending on what stage your child is at and what you are feeding them. If your child is formula-fed, bottles and extra formula will be needed. For children on solid foods, they may baby food, spoons, bowls, and a small snack for the road.

Pain Reliever

It may seem like this is not a diaper bag essential, but pain relievers are a necessary component to a diaper bag. Keep acetaminophen or ibuprofen in your bag to provide pain relief. This is good to have on hand for your doctor visits when your child receives shots or when a fever or illness comes on suddenly. A teething gel is also good to have on hand when your child’s gums are swollen and painful from cutting teeth.


A blanket is great to keep your child warm when they are chilly, can be used to cover an area where they are sitting, and also can keep your child’s head propped up when they are unable to hold their head up by themselves. Blankets are also useful for your baby’s doctor check-ups because they can keep the child warm when they must be unclothed for their doctor visit.


Be sure to have a couple of toys or books on hand to provide entertainment for your child when you are out and about. The amount of entertainment you need can vary on the child’s age, but you never know how long you will have to wait for your appointments or when standing in line so be prepared.

Extra Goodies

A couple of other extra goodies that you might like to keep on hand are your cell phone, a water bottle, a snack for yourself, and nursing pads.

I know that the list is long, but as your child gets older your list will get shorter. We are now able to throw a couple of toys, a cup of juice, a snack, a couple of diapers, and a pack of wipes in our bag and walk out the door instead of all of the items listed above. Tailoring down our diaper bag essentials was something that our family looked forward to and it is nice to be able to leave the house with everything stored neatly in my purse.

Please be sure to visit our printable Diaper Bag Checklist for a quick list of what you need to get out the door. This checklist can be conveniently placed in the pocket of your diaper bag or tacked on your refrigerator to be checked off before heading out the door.

It is difficult to remember all you need when you are a new and tired mother so let us do the work for you! This tool can hopefully aid you in having a stress-free outing with your child and help you to be prepared for all of those little baby emergencies.

Finding a Moms Group

Friday, May 6th, 2005

Becoming a mom was both an exciting and scary time for me. I returned back to work full-time and, despite these great changes in my life, found that my work & friendships resumed back to what they were before I had my child. I still had people to talk to and was not really seeking anyone or anything else in my life. My life was busy and my days were full with working, caring for my child, and maintaining our home.

Upon relocating to a different state, I was thrown into the world of being a stay-at-home mother. I would never complain about being a stay-at-home mom because it has been a dream come true for me, but I lost that contact with the outside world and also with the friends that I had made.

The day we moved, I began to search frantically on the internet to find a mom’s support group. I knew that I needed friends desperately and I also wanted my son to have other children to interact with. I ran across a Mother’s & More group, and knew that I had finally found peace & the human interaction that I was looking for. The group offered everything I was looking for and more. My very first meeting, I handed over my membership dues and eagerly anticipated each and every activity. It was my life support and I know now that having this group brought me more satisfaction then I dreamed possible.

While I am crazy about Mothers & More, I believe any mother’s support system that you can find can be beneficial to any mother. As a mother, we are all looking for different things in a support system. Some people join to educate themselves on topics about parenting, others are looking for playgroups where their children can play, some are looking for volunteer opportunities, and others are just looking for other mothers to talk to. Whatever your reason may be for finding a support group, know that having a good support system can really be beneficial to you especially if you are a stay-at-home mother.

I have put together a list of support groups that are nationally (and sometimes internationally) known for providing support to mothers:

MOMS (Mothers Offering Mothers Support) Club


What It Is

This group is geared towards stay-at-home moms. The group meets during the day and they allow children at all of their meetings. The childcare is provided by volunteer members who supervise the children while the mothers meet.


This group was started in 1983 by a stay-at-home mother because she was looking for a group that met during the day and where her children could accompany her at her meetings.

What Do They Offer

This group offers volunteer opportunities, a newsletter, and meetings.


There are 1500 chapters with over 75,000 members. This group offers chapters in both the United States and internationally.


Member dues are low and between $15-30 per year. They keep member dues at a minimum because they know that these moms make a financial sacrifice to be home with their children.

National Organization of Mothers of Twins Club


What It Is

Are you the parent of twins? Triplets? Quads? Quints? More? If you are the parent of multiple children, then this group is for you. This group offers local groups for Mothers of Twins (MOTC), Mothers of Multiples (MOMC) or a Parents of Multiples Clubs (POMC).


This group was founded in 1960 to promote the special aspects of child development which relate specifically to multiple birth children.

What Do They Offer

This group offers monthly meetings discussing the care and development of multiple birth children, as well as other topics of interest. Clothing & equipment exchanges and club libraries are some of the other invaluable services.


There is a network of more than 475 local clubs representing over 23,000 individual parents of multiples, twins, triplets, & quads.


Member dues are $9 per member.

Holistic Moms Network


What It Is

This group is for mothers who have an interest in holistic health in parenting. This group is not limited to just moms though because they open their membership up to dads, grandparents, and the partners of the mothers as well. They welcome nursing infants and toddlers at all of their meetings and you are encouraged to breastfeed at all of their events.


This group was started in 2002 by a support group in New Jersey . These people came together because they were looking for support and friendship from others who shared the same ideals.

What Do They Offer

The group meets at least once per month. Some of the groups offer playgroups as well.


There are no statistics on the amount of groups there are at this time, however, new groups are added all of the time. Check the Chapters page for information about groups in your community.


Member dues are $35 per year and $50 for a family membership (self & spouse/partner).

Mocha (Mothers of Color At Home) Moms


What It Is

This is a support group for mothers of color who are choosing to be stay-at-home moms.


This group was started in 1997 by two mothers through a newsletter called, “Mocha Moms” in hopes of connecting with other mothers of color. The newsletter grew into a support network and they were incorporated in 1999.

What Do They Offer

This group offers support meetings on topics pertinent to you as a stay-at-home mom, community service projects, mom’s only night outs, and kid’s socials. They also offer volunteer leadership positions and the first online magazine publication for stay-at-home moms of color, “Mommy Too.”


There are 1500 chapters with over 75,000 members. This group offers chapters in both the United States and internationally.


They offer two types of membership, local chapter affiliations and at-large membership. The local chapter affiliations are $20 per year and this gains you access to anything in your local chapter. The at-large membership is $10 and offers participation in national, regional, state, and online activities.

Mothers & More


What It Is

This group offers support to moms and champions the value of work that all mothers do whether it be paid or unpaid.


This group was founded in 1987 by a mother who had left the workforce after the birth of her first child. The group was originally called F.E.M.A.L.E. (Formerly Employed Mothers at Loose Ends) and is now called Mothers & More to reflect the additional roles mothers play during their active parenting years.

What Do They Offer

They offer meetings with topical discussions, guest speakers, mom’s night out activities, playgroups, family outings, and more. Each chapter has its own unique personality and adapts to the needs of their particular members. They also offer volunteer positions both locally and nationally.


The group serves over 7,500 mothers in the United States and beyond.


Member dues are $45 per year and this gains you access to both the local & national activities and publications.

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International


What It Is

This is a group that celebrates motherhood, aids in meeting a mother’s needs, and a group that helps mothers experience God’s love through relationships and resources. They nurture and provide acceptance to all types of mothers- teens, urban, suburban, etc.


The group was started in 1973 with a group that met in Colorado. They met together for two hours, did a craft together, and ended their meeting with a short devotion.

What Do They Offer

MOPS meets in local churches and offers meetings on a variety of topics related to your role as a mother and in parenting. They offer childcare for your children while you meet. Their meeting consists of a teaching segment or presentation by one or more of the members which focuses on parenting, marriage, and other issues, a small discussion lead by members, a craft for the moms, and social time. In addition, they offer leadership retreats and a monthly newsletter.


There are more than 3200 MOPS groups meeting across the United States and in 33 countries around the world. Groups vary in size and there can be anywhere between 10-200 members in each group.


Meeting fees vary due to the fact that churches can support these fees through their ministry or through fundraising efforts of the group.

La Leche League, International


What It Is

This group provides support and encouragement to breastfeeding mothers.


The group has been around since 1956 when they had their very first meeting in a member’s home. At the time, breastfeeding had dropped down close to twenty percent.

What Do They Offer

The group offers monthly meetings, a bimonthly magazine, and telephone assistance for mothers with breastfeeding questions. They also offer discounts on breastfeeding items and La Leche League Publications, and regional & international conferences.


La Leche League groups are all over the world and new groups are forming all of the time. Visit their website to learn how you can start your own La Leche League group.


Membership dues are $36.

National Association of Mothers Centers (NAMC)


What It Is

This is a non-profit umbrella organization which includes more than 50 mother’s centers across the country.


These centers have been around since 1975.

What Do They Offer

Mothers’ Centers are self sustaining, non-profit groups where mothers meet, engage in discussion groups, enjoy a respite from their child caretaking role (childcare is available while the Mothers’ participate in groups), and help keep their center going through cooperative responsibility. Center members can use their expertise and talents while trying out new skills.


This group has more than 50 mother’s centers across the country.


If you are unable to find a mother’s group in your area, think about starting a group in your own town. You are not alone in looking for relief from isolation and the need to feel validated for what you do. On each website they have provided information on starting your own group.

If you are still looking for other moms to talk with, look on and see if there are any groups of women meeting and looking for the same things as you.

Whatever you do, know that you are not alone. Also know that there are other people, just like you, who are looking for friendship and encouragement in this crazy adventure we call “motherhood.”

Developmental Toys

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

When I was pregnant with my first child a friend said to me, “You know, you don’t need to buy many toys for a child. Just make sure you have some Tupperware, a cardboard box, some plastic measuring cups, and a wooden spoon and she’ll be happy”. I chuckled at the time, thinking “How many toys can one little baby need?”, but by my child’s first birthday I was no longer chuckling. Toys seemed to spontaneously generate in our living room. There were dozens of things that people told me my child needed . Mothers in my play group didn’t ask IF we had something, but HOW MANY we had. I received emails regularly from toy companies touting their latest toys that my child needed to have to develop on target. I conscientiously read all labels, did safety checks, scanned Amazon reviews, and kept checklists to make sure that I got my child what she needed when she needed it and that it was safe and reliable.

Then one day, after I had had my second child and the toy parade had started up its encore, I decided to stop the madness. What did my child really need? I certainly survived childhood (and even came out okay) without all these things to stimulate my left brain, my right brain, my intellect through music, and the many, many electronic items that cause my husband and I to purchase batteries each time we’re near a Target. I took a step back and thought about what we had that we really needed, versus what we enjoyed. The following article covers items that I feel really do contribute to a child’s development. Please note that it is NOT an all-inclusive list. I’m sure there are more things out there, or your own child may have benefited from or loved another item. These are not the “items any mother can’t live without” but my own personal take on “the type of toys that you should invest in since they contribute to a child’s development in his/her first 18 months”. Feel free to add to this list through one of the Mom Advice forums!

For the littlest ones, let’s start with toys that promote sensorimotor development. Rattles encourage reaching and grabbing and help motor skills development. Mobiles encourage visual tracking and reaching. Textures, such as rough, soft, crinkly, etc. give varying kinesthetic responses for your baby. Setting interesting toys just out of reach while on the floor encourages a slightly older baby (4+ months) to reach, roll, or crawl. Having an unbreakable mirror available for “tummy time” is fun for the baby and encourages beginning social skills.

As the child grows, ride-on toys that roll or rock are good for gross motor skill development. Soft balls for throwing and catching are great for outdoors or indoors. A larger, soft ball for rolling, kicking, and throwing with both hands is useful, too.

Language is an area that most parents focus on, and the best way to promote these skills is by talking to your child. (This is even free!). Naming items, talking to your baby whether he or she can understand the words or not, singing, and reading to your child are all important. The importance of reading to your child can’t be underemphasized. However, I have noticed that children’s books are as expensive, if not more, than adult books! The public library can be a super resource for the family. Many libraries also have baby or toddler programs with story time, etc. Books are plentiful and free. Most libraries also hold book sales where you can get children’s books at a bargain. Garage sales and discount websites are good bets, too.

Speaking of books, I’m often asked my opinion on the many electronic books available today. Here’s what I think: they are fun but not necessary. A good, old-fashioned book will do everything you need it to just by being a good story. (I read some interesting research through the International Reading Association recently that suggests that these electronic books are actually a bit of a distraction for “readers”. They are best for preschool and older children who already have the concept of a story (beginning, middle, end, etc.) to enhance the story as opposed to distracting from the language for younger ones).

While we’re on the subject of books, I can’t resist mentioning the oh-so-popular “video board books” that are ubiquitous these days. Do we own them? Yes. Do I like them? Yes. Are they essential for good development? No. There is nothing in these DVD’s that you can’t get from a classical music CD and a good book. (However, I do love how they calm the kids at “fussy time”!!).

This leads me to music, or more specifically classical music. When I was first pregnant I picked up a “brain builder” CD of classical music (for $17.99). I was shocked to see that it was all music I already owned. There was no big secret here. It was basically a lovely selection of classical pieces. Additionally the research on the “brain benefits” of classical music is pretty shaky; however, I’m a big believer in exposing kids to music (not just classical), so a good radio station, or calming CD’s, or favorite digital music station on television is always okay in my book.

As young children develop spatial skills, their cognitive skills develop as well. That’s why is useful to have some simple toys around to build these important skills. Stacking/nesting cups or blocks are usually cheap (mine were $2.99 at Target) but focus on important skills. “Shape sorters” are good, too, to develop cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. And, I just can’t say enough good about old-fashioned blocks. These can be an essential tool for development that correlates with later math skills (there’s great research out of Boston College on this). I have noticed, though, that it can be hard to find old-fashioned, wooden building blocks, and once I found them I nearly fell over when I saw the price. However, they are a good investment for both boys and girls.

These months from birth to 18 months are key for developing so many skills. Children’s play is largely motor driven at first, and then exploratory. Language is critical, and you want to continue to foster those important language skills with your children through play. By 12-18 months, little ones are ready for a bit more challenge with play, and you can introduce crayons and markers to build motor and spatial skills (and foster creativity!), puzzles for perceptual organization develop, and “imaginary play” items, such as a play kitchen, tool bench, or dress-up clothes.

And, of course, everyone (at all ages!) needs at least one good “lovey”!