Tag Archives: toddlers

Toddler Spring Dresses for Under $25

I don’t know about where you live, but in DC it feels like we’ve jumped right over spring and landed in summer—it was 93° outside today! Luckily, we’ll be returning to true springtime temps by the weekend. With spring weather comes spring dresses for my little lady. She LOVES wearing dresses, but there’s no way I’m spending $50 on a dress she’s going to wear to daycare and get craft paint on. So I set out to find some seriously adorable (and affordable) toddler dresses. Here are five of my favs under $25!

Tea Protea Print Wrap-Neck Dress, $24.50

Target OshKosh dress, $15

Old Navy Pleated Sundress, $15

Gap Striped Terry Dress, $22.95

Carter’s Shift Dress, $13.20

How Much is too Much Sodium for a Toddler?

In the March 2013 issue of Cooking Light, there was an article about watching your salt intake and ways to lower sodium. I’m always on the lookout for this type of thing since I know kids are really susceptible to having too much sodium in their diet. For example, I buy organic canned black beans because they have 15 mg of sodium per serving as compared to the 460 mg (!!!) per serving of regular canned black beans. Even the low sodium non-organic variety have around 125 mg of sodium per serving. Shocking that the “low sodium” beans have more than the regular organic beans, right? Precisely why it’s so important to look at the labels.

Anyway, I was planning on posting about this today anyway, but then Cooking Light published a newscast yesterday about sodium intake for toddlers and the timing was just too perfect.

It’s no surprise that processed and prepackaged foods, such as hot dogs, boxed mac and cheese, and cereals, are the big offenders when it comes to high sodium. But did you know that 75% of foods aimed at children were deemed too high in sodium by the study? I found that staggering (and sobering).

The study was conducted by the CDC and monitored 1100 different foods all targeted toward children ages 1-3 years. The study concluded that a food was too high in sodium if it contained 210 mg or more of sodium per serving. The recommended daily intake of sodium for a toddler is 1500 mg per day.

Aside from checking the labels on your canned beans, here are a few other ways to watch your family’s sodium intake:

  • If you buy frozen veggies, make sure they say no salt added.
  • Use kosher salt instead of regular table salt—it contains 25% less sodium.
  • Drain and rinse your canned beans, even the organic or low-sodium ones, to save even more in the sodium department.
  • Be wary of prepacked, prepared foods—convenient usually = LOTS of salt.
  • Try not to add salt to your food, especially for your kids, where possible. It’s totally fine to add as a seasoning, but just don’t overdo it.
  • Make your own or buy organic/low sodium marinara since it’s notoriously high in sodium.
  • CHECK THE LABELS! Even so-called “healthy” foods can surprise you—wheat bread, cottage cheese, and peanut butter are all known to be high in sodium.

Of course, cooking fresh, healthy meals is always a great way to watch what your family is eating and control the bad stuff!

My Little Supergirl

Who says girls can’t be superheroes?!

These shirts from Old Navy are BRILLIANT. Mixed in with the Disney Princess, Minnie Mouse, and Hello Kitty T-shirts, you can now find Supergirl and Bat Girl shirts (complete with capes!) in toddler sizes. For some reason, they are not available online, but I was able to find them in store as recent as a week ago.

I love the message this shirt sends to my daughter … almost as much as she loved “flying” around all day!

Tackling Dry Scalp in Toddlers

Back in December, I started noticing that my daughter’s scalp was really, really dry. It looked a little bit like very mild cradle cap, but what two year old gets something that’s normally associated with infants? Apparently lots of them, based on what I found on Google.

I tried switching to Aveeno Baby Gentle Conditioning Shampoo, but the problem persisted. So I did what any desperate mom does these days, I took to Facebook. I asked fans of the Mom Machine page for their advice on dealing with dry scalp in toddlers. Lucky for me (and Olivia), they rose to the occasion!

One mom suggested Aquaphor Baby Gentle Wash & Shampoo. Several moms recommended massaging baby oil into the scalp and then shampooing like normal. California Baby Eczema Shampoo & Bodywash also made the list. But the most recommended treatment, by far, was Mustela’s Foam Shampoo for Newborns.

I decided to start cheap and try the baby oil method. It worked, sort of. Her scalp would be noticeably less dry for a little while, but the flakes would always come back. So I finally gave in, followed the advice of the majority, and picked up the Mustela shampoo. I’ll be honest—I was a little skeptical since it’s specifically formulated for newborns, but since nothing else had worked, I was willing to give it a shot.

We have been using the Mustela shampoo every other night for several weeks now and what do you know? No flakes! It took probably a week’s worth of use before we noticed a difference, but once the dryness cleared up, it hasn’t come back. A big THANK YOU to those Mom Machine fans who jumped in with suggestions—you’re the best! Olivia and I both appreciate it.


*Please note: this post is not a sponsored post, nor was I compensated in any way for writing it. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

Toddler Treats for Valentine’s Day

I made these treats for a Valentine’s Day play date last year, and they were a smash with the little ones! Several of my girlfriends texted me later to say how much the treats were a lifesaver on the car ride home. This is a great option for little ones who aren’t quite ready for candy—and they’re a cinch to put together, so they’re mom-friendly too! 

Since all of O’s friends are around her age (i.e. not really old enough for sugary candy valentines), I started thinking of what we could do for Valentine’s Day that would be toddler-friendly. After walking through Target for about 45 minutes trying to come up with something brilliant, I found Quaker Whole Hearts cereal, which is basically heart-shaped Cheerios, lightly sweetened. Perfect! What toddler doesn’t eat cereal?! But it needed a little something extra. Then my husband suggested freeze dried strawberry slices. Even more perfect! Not only are the strawberries all natural with no added sugar, they add a pop of Valentine’s Day color and they’re (kind of) heart-shaped themselves. Done and Done. I think these turned out really cute! They aren’t exactly my most time-consuming or elaborate project, but I think they’ll be a hit with the little ones!

Our Favorite {Quick!} Toddler Bedtime Books

I love reading to my child. We do it every night as part of her bedtime routine, and it’s a big deal for her to pick out the book each night. But I’m not going to lie—I definitely have those nights when I positively dread storytime for fear that she’s going to choose some ridiculously long book when all I really want is to get her in bed so I can open a bottle of wine.

After reading The Cat in the Hat one such night (which takes freaking forever to read—thanks for that Dr. Seuss!), my husband and I got smart and started offering her a selection of books to choose from rather than giving her full reign over her entire library of books. She still gets to feel like she’s picking the book and we don’t want to take a long walk off a short pier by the time we’re done reading; it’s a win win! Here are our favorite bedtime books when we’re trying to make a quick getaway.

 *Honestly, there’s not a single Boynton book we haven’t loved. They’re funny and short and perfect for a quick bedtime story!

Great Toys for Fine Motor Development

Another one from the archives (sorry guys, the holidays are keeping me busy!), but I thought this post might be helpful to other parents who are looking to buy toys that are not only fun but can also aid in your child’s fine motor development. It’s crazy to think that a year ago when I wrote this, my daughter was in therapy and we were concerned about her gross and fine motor development; now, you would never know there had ever been an issue—what a difference a year makes!

As a result of her bilateral hip dysplasia, my little one has been in physical therapy every other week for the past few months. While we largely focus on her gross motor development, our therapist  spends some time working on fine motor skills as well. The therapy has done wonders for O’s muscle tone and mobility, and I have learned so much about how to help my daughter pick up new skills and ways to encourage her development. Our therapist, Kristy Jones, PT, has recommended some toys to help promote fine motor skills, and I figured I would share them for any moms doing a little holiday shopping.

Large knob puzzles, like the Melissa and Doug Large Shapes Jumbo Knob Puzzle, are great for beginners because they are easy for little ones to pick up with all of their fingers. Kristy suggests looking for puzzles that aren’t too busy, so it’s easier to match the puzzle pieces with their correct spots. Similarly, smaller knob puzzles are great as well but for a different reason. “The ones with the smaller knobs are good for development of the pincer grasp and require more precision to put the pieces in,” says Kristy.

A Shape Sorter should also be in every kid’s toy box. The Fisher-Price Growing Baby Elephant Shape Sorter is perfect and inexpensive. Start with the circle blocks, then the square ones, working your way up to the stars. At first, your little one may just pat the blocks in as you hold them over the right openings, but they’ll quickly get the hang of it on their own.

Large, soft blocks are great for little ones learning to stack. The B. One Two Squeeze™ Soft 123 Blocks from Target are perfect. The non-slippery texture makes them easy to grasp, pick up, and stack.

The Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack stacking rings have been around for forever and with good reason. They help babies learn hand-eye coordination, they’re easy to pick up and they’re SUPER FUN to crawl around the house with in your hands—just ask my daughter.

Crayons might seem a bit advanced for your little one, especially if everything is still finding its way to his mouth, but as soon as he’s not tasting his way around, try out the Crayola Triangular Crayons. The shape helps tiny hands get a grip and, bonus, they won’t roll off the high chair tray!

Finally, hammer toys (for lack of a better term) help babies and toddlers develop their hand-eye coordination, not to mention their aim! The B. Whacky Ball hammer toy will provide endless entertainment—and eventually your little one will start whacking the crap out of those balls. (Sorry, no matter how I wrote it, it kind of came out dirty, so I just gave up.)

Happy Shopping!!

Free Printables for Kiddos at Mr. Printables

A friend recently turned me on to Mr. Printables, a web site that has tons of free printables for kids. There’s everything from flash cards to coloring pages to party decorations! You just select, download, and print—super easy!

How cute are these French alphabet flash cards?!

Via Mr. Printables









I also love the ice cream color matching game.

Via Mr. Printables









If you’re looking for some quick coloring pages or new activities to do with your little one, definitely give this site a peek!

Our Nightly Bedtime Brawl

Ahhhh, bedtime. What every parent looks forward to and what every child makes it their life’s mission to avoid. “Not my child,” you say? Clearly, you have an infant. Just wait. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

The book Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach came out when Olivia was just a baby. While I laughed when I read it, I remember thinking, naively, This will never be my child. The child in this book is clearly a hellian. I will never pray for her to go to sleep because I miss her as soon as I shut the nursery door on her angelic little face. But now? I get it. Oh, do I get it.

It starts off easily enough. “Olivia, ready to go night night?”

“Night night,” she responds gleefully, running full tilt for the stairs. She playfully climbs the stairs, stopping every few steps to sit and pat the space next to her, “Sit mommy.” It’s sweet, really. And that’s about where the cooperation ends. I think she does it to screw with us, I really do. (“He he, I’m totally going to let them think this is going to be easy so they put down their guard and then WHAM! kick to the face during the diaper change!”)

Some nights, I swear it’s like she takes speed before bedtime and morphs into a little streaker. But, by far, the most difficult part about the bedtime routine is the brushing of the teeth. It’s a two person job. I don’t know how single parents do it. I assume their kids must have horrible teeth—or they are up for sainthood.

Our best attempt usually involves my husband laying over her on the changing table to hold down her flailing legs and arms while I try to hold her head still enough to get the toothbrush in, all the while both of us singing “Happy Birthday” or “Sesame Street” or the ABC’s at the top of our lungs like a couple of lunatics. There is the occasional cooperative brushing session, but these are few and far between—probably just often enough to keep our feeble hope alive. Most of the time, she looks like she’s acting out a scene from The Exorcist and saying “No mommy, no mommy, no mommy” over and over again.

And then there are the books. I actually love reading to Olivia, but one book is never enough before bedtime. And God help you if you accidentally grab a long one. (Don’t ever buy Strega Nona, by the way—longest book EVER. It’s deceiving because it’s a board book, so you think it will be appropriate, length-wise, for a toddler. You would be wrong.)

By the time we get through the whole bedtime routine, it’s been at least 20 or 30 minutes and our nerves are shot and practically begging for wine. But just as I pick up Olivia to deposit her in bed, she says “Love you, Mommy,” and plants a big wet one right on my lips before throwing her chubby little arms around my neck in a tight squeeze.

Shit. Of course she has to be all adorable and remind me exactly why half an hour of bedtime hell is so worth it. I’d probably go through a whole lot more just for that moment of sweetness. But then again, I can say that now because my daughter is still in her crib. I’ll let you know if I change my mind when we switch to a big girl bed and she figures out she can escape!



The Best and Worst “Spill Proof” Straw Cups

There is nothing more annoying than a “spill proof” cup that does not live up to its promise. We have no less than eight different brands/types of straw cups in our kitchen drawer at the moment, and maybe two of those are actually spill proof. So today I’m going to spill the beans (pun totally intended) on the best and worst straw cups.

The Best

The Tommee Tippee Explora Truly Spill Proof Straw Cup is, by far, our favorite! It does come with more pieces than some of the other straw cups, but it never leaks. The straw mechanism is easy enough for Olivia to open and close it on her own. True, they are a bit more expensive than some of the other straw cups, but you get what you pay for—trust me. And if you move quick, Toys R’ Us has them on sale for $4.78 a 2-pack!

Tommee Tippee Explora Straw Cup


The Worst

Our least favorite of all the straw cups is the Playtex Insulator Straw Cup. Spill proof? BAH HA HA HA. Clearly they didn’t have any actual children test this cup out when they slapped that claim on the packaging. Not only is it not spill proof, but it spews forth milk and whatever else is left in the straw like a freaking volcano. Even if you close the top straw part, it leaks liquid all down the sides. And I have heard this same complaint from several mama friends whose kids have the same cup. Pass!

Playtex Insulator Straw Cup