Sauce Painting for Baby Bees

artRemembering that every child is super different has been hard for me.  I’m sure every mom struggles with it.  I’ve heard myself say “Why aren’t you like your sister?” And then the guilt comes washing in like waves beating up the seashore.  I don’t WANT my Baby Bee to be like his sister.  But certain similarities sure would be nice.  Like if he would get over this need to put EVERYTHING in his mouth!!!!  By this point with my Big Butterfly I was doing arts and crafts and sensory bins and more… Because she didn’t put things in her mouth!!

But I realized (finally) this last week that I need to get over that.  He isn’t his sister.  And I don’t want him to ever be… So, one of the main ways he explores his world is with his mouth.  He’s still majorly teething, and he needs to feel textures with his mouth to help combat his pain.  That’s why he licks touch-and-feel books.  That’s why he gnaws on everything.  Because his mouth isn’t finished doing a lot of really painful work, and he’s very aware of how it feels.
So, all of that is ok because it’s who he is.  However, it does make my life quite difficult.  I want him to be able to do fun things like I do with his sister… And he will in time.  Until then, I had to find a way to let him do things his way- that were safe for him.  Enter food.
I know there is a lot of controversy about using food as a manipulative for anything other than eating, but when you get desperate to provide experiences for your oral child, food is a FABULOUS way to safely allow participation – and exploration!
sauce painting
Sauce Painting is probably the easiest activity I’ve ever had to prep… Don’t buy anything!  Just set up your child’s highchair tray with a variety of sauces you already have, put them in the chair in just a diaper, and be prepared for a bath afterward!  It’s so fun to watch as your child experiments with the different textures, colors, color mixing, and of course, tasting!!
I will add here, however, that for once Gray never put his hands in his mouth!  Had I used paint, I’m sure he would have had it head to toe – including internally… but since I used yummy sauces, he of course decided not to indulge.  He truly keeps me guessing!!
For the painting aspect, I just grabbed a piece of scrap paper (this isn’t going to be the Van Gough you hang on the wall, mom – it’s going in the trash after you take a picture of this fabulous work of finger paint art… so don’t waste good paper on it!!) and let him paint!  He also got “paint” all over the place mat and the table, so a plastic table cloth taped down ahead of time might be worth the prep time if you are really picky about messy activities.
Sauces I used: Tarter Sauce (he LOVED the chunks!), Ketchup, BBQ sauce, Spicy Brown Mustard, and Honey Mustard.  You could use anything you’ve got that is paint consistency.  Mayo, regular Mustard, anything like that would work.  Remember that if you’ve got an oral kid, there ARE ways around it, and you can totally still provide them with art experiences… you might just have to experiment and step outside your “normal” box of crayons, markers, and water colors.

Baby Proofing for Baby #2

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When you have your second child, everyone can tell you that life is about to get interesting, but nothing really can prepare you for just HOW VERY interesting life is gonna get.  Especially when that second one is a boy who is into EVERYTHING.  (And is a very special but large part of why I haven’t had much time to blog lately…)

So when we had Becca it was easy to childproof – because we over did it, really.  Ya know, it’s first child syndrome – everything was super super safe.  But we also didn’t have a whole lot of tiny little toys everywhere.  We had age appropriate toys because, well, she was it.  But now that she has tons of little tiny toys, and puzzles, and paper back books, and, and, and, and… little Brother is coming along and crawling and pulling and opening and pushing and dropping and EATING everything… Whew.  Let me tell ya’ll… it’s really fun in our house.  (Not to mention all the fights that are caused when Baby Bee grabs something that belongs to Big Butterfly….)  So baby proofing took on whole new meaning.  I thought I’d write a post to help those with second babies not yet crawling to give you some ideas of how to prepare for what is to come.

1. Plan a place for special toys.
We had Becca’s art cart and activities for downstairs on shelves in the dining room… quick and easy access, and a great place for her to use them while I’m cooking dinner… but also right where Brother could get to them and mess them up, or worse yet, get hurt by them.  So this was probably the biggest baby proofing we’ve had to do.  I had to clean out and move stuff to the attic from our under-stairs closet so create room for a set of shelves I got at Target, and for her art cart.  That has become a FABULOUS storage area for her special things – that she can easily access, but he can’t because there’s a closed door in his way.  Even if you don’t have a closet you can use, if you have a cabinet you can put a child lock on, that’s better than nothing.  I just love having them in the closet because she can easily help herself – just like she’s been used to doing.  Obviously, you’ll have to make use of whatever space you have.

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2. Give your Big Butterfly a safe space.
When he was younger, we would often carry Gray into Boo’s room for visits, and she loved that.  But as soon as he started crawling around, we started having issues.  She has toys that are not only unsafe for his little mouth, but are more “sacred” that are in her room.  So we have chosen to instate her room as her safe space. Brother isn’t welcome until he stops putting things in his mouth.  I’ve made it very clear to her that this is not a permanent arrangement – he WILL be welcome in her room down the road, but rather than feeling we need to childproof her room to protect her toys from going in his mouth, he’s just not coming into her room right now.  She likes knowing that her special things are safe and aren’t going to get chewed up.  She really appreciates that, and it also helps when I see her playing in his room and abusing one of his toys or using it inappropriately – I remind her to take care of his things or she won’t be allowed to play with them.  Touché.

3. Find some products that make your home safer. (Each of these includes affiliate links, thank you!)

We have this baby gate and love that we can move it and have two different locations where we use it.  It is high quality, and has worked well for us since Becca was little.  It also works to keep our dogs confined to a space as well. Dreambaby Retractable Gate

These sliding locks work great to keep our side-by-side refrigerator doors closed, and also to keep the closet doors closed. Dreambaby Sliding Locks, 3 Pack

These latches are super easy to add to cabinet doors and drawers – we have them all over our kitchen, and like that they are hidden from view, and easy for any adult to open. Safety 1st 14 Pack Wide Grip Latches

These plug protectors are easier to use than some of the others – just press the button and they’ll come out… but kids can’t get them out, they really do lock in securely. Safety 1st 24 Pack Secure Press Plug Protectors

 

What’s your favorite child proofing tip?  Do you have more than two kids?  What did you learn about baby proofing for boys vs for girls?  PLEASE SHARE in the comments!!!

Creating an Obstacle Course for Baby

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Grayson is crawling.  EVERYWHERE.  He is into EVERYTHING.  There’s really not a whole lot I can do to slow him down except put up a couple of gates!  HA!  But, since my Big Butterfly seeks a lot of sensory input, I’m always trying to think of new ways to engage BOTH kids.  (Which really isn’t a bad thing!)  They have both really enjoyed using our bean bag, blankets, chair and couch cushions, and pillows to create a crawling obstacle course!  (And the bean bag really slows Grayson down!  He has to work hard to get off of it!)

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It’s also a great activity for feeling different textures (thus my boy is shirtless).  I noticed when Becca went across the “osticle” course the first couple of times, she was continually rubbing her hands on the different textures.  She absolutely LOVES our couch and chair – they do have a really cool texture – I agree!  So this is a fabulous activity for ANY child with proprioceptive sensory needs!

But it also presents my Baby Bee with a challenge to climb down and up – all in a relatively safe environment where he isn’t going to fall directly onto the hardwood floor.  It took him a good five minutes to get up and down across the whole course.  And then he was off to his next task – he found his Sister’s purse and started chewing on it!  HA!

Setting up an obstacle course like this is a fabulous way to work on those gross motor climbing and crawling skills that are so important to develop in your Baby Bee.  Ironically, I had already planned this post when Jamie from over at Hands On As We Grow shared one of her posts from a while back when she made a couch cushion obstacle course for her Baby Bee.  You’ll want to check out her post – it gives some great ideas for once your crawler has conquered the “basic” obstacle course like I made.  I love her idea of stacking the cushions up to make “stairs” and also adding some balls into the course to chase around and encourage movement and participation!  We’ll be using those ideas in the future as Grayson gets better at climbing, for sure!

Baby Gear

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This weekend I attended a baby shower for a friend, and it prompted me to do a post for mamas of the tiniest Baby Bees – the ones that haven’t even been born yet.

I remember before we had Becca, trying to navigate a world of baby gear was intense.  What was a NEED, what was a WANT… and which product was just right to fit the needs and wants that I had?  When we had Grayson, we had a very specific list of things we knew we would need, and of course, even tho it’s only been two years, we’ve found new products that we love that weren’t even available when she was coming along.

So, here’s a short list of the products that we have used with one or both of our kiddos that we find to be super helpful – and why.  Please note that each of these is an affiliate link, so if you choose to purchase from this link, you not only get a great product, but you help our family out as well. 🙂  (So thank you!)

Gerber Unisex-Baby Newborn Sheep 4 Pack Flannel Receiving Blanket, Sheep Green, One Size
You seriously can NOT get enough receiving blankets.  They are VITAL for any baby, but especially if you end up with a spitter like Grayson.  The sweet little thing still at almost ten months spits after eating.  We have at least two receiving blankets in the diaper bag at all times.  And, after we had Becca, we sent my mom to the store to buy more of these.  Trust me – you need a lot.  For Grayson, we have ten receiving blankets and fifteen of the cloth diaper burp cloths… and it has totally happened that they were all in the laundry at once.

Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine, White
We learned quickly with Becca that white noise can really make a huge difference in how baby sleeps – and it also works great to drown out the noises that might be made by others in the home while baby is in bed.  Because we knew how much she loved her sound machine, we purchased a second one before Grayson was born, and actually took it with us to the hospital.  Truly from night one he has slept with the sound machine on.  I firmly believe that the consistency and the comfort of the noise is what helps both of our kids be such awesome sleepers!!

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Added Comfort Starter Set
We really struggled to find good bottles that worked for Becca to reduce gas.  Then, when Grayson was coming along, we discovered that none of the bottles we had tried with Becca were still on the market, so I couldn’t buy replacement nipples.  Which was VERY frustrating.  So, I went to the store and started looking… and discovered that the bottles I had originally looked at for Becca but didn’t buy were still on the market… so we went with those, and have never looked back.  We absolutely love Tommee Tippee products, and these bottles are absolutely fabulous!  This is the exact starter set that I bought, and we have loved using them.  They are also super easy for Grayson to hold himself now that he’s holding his own bottle.

Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail with Refill Bags, 10 Count
You know it’s a product we like when I tell you we have two of them… and this is one of those products!  We have one in both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms.  They are easy to change, the refill bags are sold at every store we shop at, and the refill bags are very inexpensive (I can get a box of 10 for $6.)  Plus, I like that it has a baking soda container in the lid!  If I’m able to smell the diaper pail, I can just add fresh baking soda, and instantly, no more smell!  I also love that it’s baking soda, and not something with a flowery fragrance.  No smell at all is much preferred in our house.

WubbaNub Infant Pacifier – Giraffe
This is one of those products that wasn’t around when Becca was born (or if it was, we didn’t know about it), which is probably fine since she didn’t take a pacifier very long.  Grayson, on the other hand, is a pacifier guy.  So much so that we own two of these adorable giraffes (we’ve lovingly named them Geoffrey 1 & 2 – a nod to one of our favorite stores). They are a fabulous way to never lose the “paci,” “binky,” “plug,” or whatever nickname you want to call it.  Plus, you just throw it in the washer when you need to launder it!  SUPER easy.  Love love love love love this product!!  (Also – Soothee pacifiers are the ones given to you in the hospital for a reason.  I’ve talked to LOTS of moms, and the vast majority of them spent money on other brands of pacifiers, but the free one they got at the hospital was all their baby would take.  Soothee is THE brand of pacifier for baby!)

Fisher-Price Booster Seat (Red/White)
We received this as a gift from my parents when traveling to see them when Becca was little, and we used it for her for travel a lot – super convenient.  But then with Grayson, it has taken on a whole new level of use.  Because we use it for him every day.  We just attached it to a chair from our dining room table, and he sits at the table with us instead of in a high chair that takes up a ton of space and is hard to clean.  Seriously mamas, don’t spend money on a high chair.  This baby is $37 – and ALL YOU NEED.  Save your money for diapers.  You’re gonna need them.  For what seems like forever.

Obviously, we had lots of other products that we love for both kids, but these are my big six money/time savers for you – you NEED these things.  Don’t waste your money on others.  Moms with older kids – what was/is your favorite baby product?  Share it here in the comments!!

 

Squish and Shake – Sensory Activities for Baby Bee

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“Sensory” is a buzz term right now.  When I was teaching, “sensory” wasn’t on the radar.  Which is sad to realize how long it’s been now since I was in the classroom.  But, I digress.  Sensory activities are ones that engage a child’s senses – preferably multiple senses at one time.  Studies are showing that the younger kids are when introduced to sensory experiences, the better they are developing, and their brains are growing stronger, etc.  So, here are two simple little sensory activities that you can throw together quickly, though they may require a trip to Dollar Tree.

Sensory Gel Bag – Squish! (engages sight, touch, sound and smell)

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What you’ll need:
Some form of gel – be it hair gel, or body shampoo – can be colored, or clear and add your own food coloring. (I really like the apple body shampoo I got at Dollar Tree – it smells so YUMMY!)
Something to put in the bag – I used those little foam animals from the capsules you dissolve in water.
A good solid freezer bag (don’t use a regular bag – it WILL leak)
Some strong book/storage tape

Put tape around the three pre-sealed edges to ensure durability.  Put your stuff in the bag, and seal it really tightly – getting all the air out that you can.  Then, fold the zipper down and tape it closed.    The awesome thing about the gel bag is it’s versatility.  If you are in the put-everything-in-my-mouth phase, the bag works great taped to a window, where light can shine through, a closet door in a play room, or it works taped to a high chair table while you’re doing dishes and need Jr up off the floor.  Or, if your Baby Bee doesn’t put things in the mouth, you can just as easily hand them the bag and let them squish and squeeze without attaching it to anything!  Note – when you attach it to a window, especially, it makes great noises as they squish and slide their fingers up and down on the bag.

 

Sensory Bottle – Shake! (engages sight, sound, and touch – and possibly tasting the duct tape if your Baby Bee tries to eat it!  ha!)

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What you’ll need:
A little clear travel size shampoo bottle (or you could use a small empty water bottle that you’ve taken off the label)
Baby oil
Water
Glitter / Sequins
Duct Tape

Fill half of your bottle with baby oil.  Then, add a little bit of water.  Add your glitter/sequins, and duct tape the bottle closed so little fingers can’t get it open.  Hand to baby to shake and have fun!!  It’s not only visually appealing, it makes neat swooshing sounds, and it’s also good gross motor practice to shake!  Note – you can also add a drop of food coloring if you like!  Another added bonus to this activity is that it rolls away – and encourages Baby Bee to get active and mobile to follow – engaging their proprioceptive sense as well!

See how EASY it is to create these sensory activities for your baby?  These two are something a super busy mom can find time for any day, once you’ve planned and have the supplies on hand.  And they’ll last a really long time.