Archive for the ‘Toddler Tip’ Category

Dear Readers,

Here’s a continuation of the list of “Super Snacks” suggested by Dr. Bill Sears.

A handful of raw nuts or trail mix

Pita bread spread with hummus

Rice cake with peanut butter and banana

Parmesan cheese melted on a slice of whole-grain bread

Blueberries in yogurt

Popcorn (homemade air-popped)

Celery sticks with peanut butter

Cherry tomatoes with cheese cubes

Fruit-and-yogurt smoothie

Hard-boiled egg

Bean dip and veggie sticks

Any fruit

Whole-grain muffins, preferably homemade

Homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies

Cut-up vegetables with salsa and corn chips

Here’s a list of “Grow Foods” which are nutrient-dense and they “offer more bang for your nutritional buck”.

Vegetables, steamed or raw

Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)


Whole grains

Nuts and nut butters

Seafood, especially Alaskan salmon

Lean meats and poultry

Greek-style yogurt



Hope you find this info helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Dr. Bill Sears, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine and co-author of The Baby Book, wrote a very informative article entitled “Graze Anatomy”, in which he fully explains the benefits of grazing for toddlers.  It appeared in the June, 2011 edition of the “Costco Connection”.  Let me quote directly from the article.

“Children are born grazers.  One of the eating tips I give my patients of all ages is what I call Dr. Bill’s Rule of Two’s:  Eat twice as often – Eat half as much – Chew twice as long.

Grazing benefits the brain.  The buzzwords for feeding the brain are slow and steady.  Grazers have steadier blood sugar and therefore a steadier supply of brain fuel.  Parents often tell me that once they start encouraging their children to graze throughout the day, their children have fewer behavior and learning problems at school.

Grazing is good for staying lean.  When you graze on frequent mini meals throughout the day, your body enjoys stable insulin levels.  Insulin is a fat-storage hormone.  When it spikes high throughout the day, such as when you gorge, you store that extra food as extra fat.  When you graze, insulin is not so high, which helps keep you lean.  Remember, lean does not mean being skinny, but rather having the right body weight for your body type.”

Dr. Sears goes on to describe what is a healthy snack for toddlers and children.  They should contain at least 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber; contain 100 to 200 calories and be crunchy so that a lot of chewing is required to digest them.  He gave a list of “Super Snacks” that are good for grazing.  Here are some of the snacks listed:

Baby carrots dipped in hummus

Apple slices dipped in peanut butter

Whole-grain cereal with yogurt

Edamame (fresh, cooked soybeans)

String cheese and a piece of fruit

Cottage cheese and fruit

To Be Continued.

Keep smilin’!


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Dear Readers,

Early Saturday morning was story telling time in my family.  My younger sister and I aged 4 and 6 years old, were allowed to climb into bed with our Dad, while Mom prepared a weekend breakfast.  Dad would entertain us with the same stories every week.  He told of a man making soup in a most unusual manner.  He would open cans of corn and peas, throw away the vegetables and toss the empty cans in the soup pot.  Potatoes and onions were peeled but only the peels were added to the mixture.  The cook even threw in a dirty old shoe just for good measure to season the weird soup.  My sister and I would laugh and squeal in protest as my Dad described each new ingredient.

Both of my sisters recall the legend of Dobbin the horse and how he wandered away and got lost during a frightening rainstorm but was finally rescued and returned to his very worried mother.  We both laughed and cried during this narrative.  It was story telling at its finest!

My husband remembers his paternal grandfather’s exaggerated tales of super-human athletic skills.  Papa Stewart once told him and his cousins about the time he pitched a double-header where he pitched right-handed during the first game and left-handed the second game.  Can you imagine the look of astonishment on the faces of his grandchildren?

We see our grandchildren at least two or three times weekly and my husband has fallen into the most enjoyable habit of telling stories to our four year-old granddaughter.  I love to observe the changing expressions on her face as her grandfather relates the story about a little boy with a long leg and a short leg and how he came to be accepted by his schoolmates.  Or the elaborate saga of an estranged monster family who was finally accepted by the entire neighborhood after a courageous boy on a bike stopped to say hello to a monster boy his age.

I think every family needs a story teller; someone who can stir our imaginations and make us laugh or cry.  Our family now has one and it began with a toddler who loves hearing a story, both read and told.  What my dear husband doesn’t realize now is that his wonderful tales will live on long after his is gone!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s a healthy and tasty sandwich filling that is just perfect for a  toddler to eat at a summer picnic.

Peanut Butter-Raisin Sandwich Filling

1 – 8 oz. package lite cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup finely chopped raisins

Mix all ingredients together with an electric mixer.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.  This recipe makes enough filling for 24 mini bagels.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!


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Dear Readers,

My daughter-in-law told me about an advent calendar of activities she crafted for our granddaughter.  It contains lots of fun things to do and make.  Some of the undertakings scheduled on her calendar consist of:

1.  Making tissue paper stars to hang in the windows

2.  Drinking hot chocolate with Daddy

3.  Singing Christmas carols

4.  Buying the Christmas tree

5.  Eating dinner by the Christmas lights

6.  Baking cookies with Mommy

7.  Making handprint paper ornaments

8.  Learning the “Angel of God” prayer

And the list goes on and on.

I thought it was such a clever idea.  It keeps the little ones occupied performing the daily activity, while it takes the focus off the seemingly endless wait for the arrival of Santa Claus.  Danielle got the idea from www.artfulparent.typepad.com blog entitled “A Christmas Tree Advent Calendar”.  Check it out and maybe you can start making Christmas traditions with your little ones.

My second “Toddler Tip” is a safety tip.  Saw this tip on the evening news.  It concerns the small button-like batteries in many toys.  Be sure that the battery does not drop out onto the floor where crawling toddlers can grab them and put them into their mouths.  Swallowing one of these batteries is very serious.  The acid from the battery leaks out and damages tissue in the esophagus.  The damage can be permanent.  An x-ray is the only way to know for sure if a battery has been swallowed.  Keep an eagle eye out for any of these loose batteries.  After all, I want you and your toddlers to have a safe holiday as well as a happy one.  And remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Tuesday morning is Mimi’s weekly date with her granddaughter.  There are a number of activities she enjoys.  A trip to the lakeside park where we observe the small waves roll in, and then navigate the playground with its twisting slides and swings is a real thrill for her.  Some Tuesdays we travel to the library to browse the bookshelves for favorite books and then rest on tiny chairs to pore over them and laugh together.  A book about “stinky laundry” is a favorite of ours.  We’ve also ventured through the various play sectors at Marbles Children’s Museum in downtown Raleigh.  Emily’s favorite activity is driving the bus and then spending time shopping in the supermarket zone.  She loves to check out the grocery items at the cashier stand.

This Tuesday it was raining, so my granddaughter came to my house, where we did some real baking together not the pretend type. We washed our hands and then she climbed up the step stool where she was level with the kitchen counter.  I had two Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts for us to use.  We were going to prepare strawberry popovers.  Emily used a round cookie cutter to fashion small circles from the pie dough.  Then she sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on the circle and placed a small strawberry slice in the center.  She pinched the dough together to form turnovers.  At times the pinching was hard for her little fingers, so some of the turnovers looked like little packages or purses of dough.  We didn’t mind; it’s about having fun together, not producing perfect pastries.  Each strawberry nugget was lined up on the foil-lined baking sheet.  Of course, Mimi placed them in the oven which was set at 350 degrees.  We baked them until they were browned, about 15 or 20 minutes.  My granddaughter and I had a wonderful time watching them bake as we peered through the lit oven door window.

Emily played with the leftover dough scraps during the baking process.  It felt just like play-doh to her.  When the turnovers were done and after they had cooled, we celebrated with a pretend tea party that featured real pastries.  Emily learned a lot about baking and I’m sure any three year old toddler would enjoy this same activity.  Just purchase some Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts and let your toddler’s creativity blossom with your help!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

One warm Saturday morning as I concluded my walk, I encountered a father and his young son.  They were both on bikes and the dad was warning the child about how to safely cross the street at the traffic light.  The boy listened intently to his father.  On another morning walk, I hear sounds of chatter coming from behind a tall hedge at the side of a home.  It was a one-sided conversation, so I assumed that the lady was talking on the phone.  Happily, I discovered this was not the case.  A mother was reading to her son from a book.  From the tone of her voice, it was an adventure story.  The boy, about 8 or 9 years old, was still in his pj’s and contentedly cradled next to his mom, as they sat on the porch swing.

I thought about both of these parents and what a terrific gift they were giving to their children – their time and undivided attention.  This time was bestowed freely and was not marred by sneaking glances at their blackberry or I-phone.  Kids don’t crave expensive toys or fancy trips to amusement parks.  Spending time together with loved ones is what they really want!

I learned this fact was true when raising my children, but even more so with my granddaughters.  And now I have plenty of time to give – time to rock them to sleep, time to swing them while singing songs and most of all, time to read to them.

And come to think of it – isn’t that what we all crave?  We all desire time and attention from those who are dear to us.  It gives validation to our very existence!

If there is any advice Mimi would give to parents, it is this.  Give all the time you can to your youngsters – it is more precious than money and oh so fleeting.  Enjoy your children before they grow up.  Housework and chores, cellphones and blackberries will always be there but time with your children is limited.  I realize now just how fast time flies and I’m going to treasure every moment I spend with my granddaughters.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Reading a book with a grandchild is one of life’s greatest pleasures!  At least it is in my life.  When Emily selects a book and asks “Mimi, will you read this to me?”, my heart sings.  I’m overwhelmed with love when she climbs into my lap and snuggles against me, ready for the story to begin.  The intimacy continues as we experience and enjoy the story together.

I have also found that some books are better written for and received by toddlers than others.  There are so many children’s books available that it is difficult to know what’s worthwhile and what isn’t.

My daughter-in-law introduced me to a book that is an excellent guide for choosing children’s books.  It is the “Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease.  It contains a list of books called the “Treasury of Read-Alouds” which includes the title, author, number of pages, publisher, year published and the age group the book is suitable for.  A one paragraph synopsis of the story is also included.  This treasury categorizes the books into wordless books, predictable books, poetry and fairy and folk tales.

A predictable book is one in which a certain phrase or sentence is repeated enough as to become predictable for the young reader.  A good example is “The Very Busy Spider”  by Eric Carle.  The sentence “The spider didn’t answer.  She was very busy spinning her web”, appears on every other page.

The handbook gives answers to questions such as “What is the purpose of fairy tales?”, “Why do they want to read the same book over and over?”, “Won’t a video do my child as much good as a picture book?”, and when it’s obvious you’ve made a poor choice of a book, “Is it okay to abandon it or parts of it and move on?”.  The author’s answers utilize the results of various studies conducted on children and reading and his own personal experience.

Before purchasing books for Christmas gift-giving, why not check out this handbook for suitable ideas?  After all, reading aloud is a win-win situation for both the reader and the child being read to.  In addition, this activity creates loving memories that last a lifetime.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This recipe for a cold soup is easy and a great way to start a summer meal for family and friends.  I like it because it is inexpensive and contains no exotic ingredients.  There’s another added bonus – it’s low in fat and calories.  Hooray!  The source of the recipe is “Veggie Life Magazine”.

“Strawberry-Banana Soup

A soup where buttermilk really shines, keeping things from getting too sweet.

2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup lite sour cream

6 whole strawberries

In a food processor or blender, combine bananas, stawberries, sugar and lemon juice.  Process until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl and whisk in buttermilk and sour cream.  Serve chilled,  garnished with whole strawberries.

Makes 6 servings.  Each serving contains 117 calories and .5 grams of fat.”

Your toddler might also enjoy this soup.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I know quite a few mothers who are very interested in providing the healthiest food they can for their toddlers.  They want to make sure their toddlers form the best eating habits early.  It is with this thought in mind that I baked these cupcakes for my granddaughter’s first birthday.  They are extremely healthy and taste pretty darn good!

Oatmeal Cupcakes

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 cups regular whole oats

1/2 cup fresh, dried or frozen fruit (I’ve used peaches, blueberries or pitted fresh cherries)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients; mixing well.  Place batter in foil baking cups in cupcake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Makes 12 cupcakes.

These cupcakes taste a little like granola and can be frozen.  Put a birthday candle into each cupcake and you are all set for a healthy birthday treat for your toddler.

Keep smilin’!

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