Blooming Toy Guide from Newbie to Tot

The 5 Best Baby Toys that Will Stand the Test of Time (and are available at the BiB Boutique)

 

Shopping for your little baby is kinda fun, especially with all the tempting options out there at your favorite local baby boutique. If you’re trying to reign in the number of toys you own, however, it helps to know which ones your rapidly growing babe will actually play with. Read on to learn about 5 great options from some of our favorite brands that are age-appropriate and lots of fun. Whether you’re a mom-to-be or shopping for a loved one’s new arrival, gifting any of these goodies will make you a fast favorite. As always, our products are vetted by us at Babies in Bloom, so you know one of our own babes love them as much as yours will.

Check out these vetted toys and more at our boutique, online or in store.

Smart NogginStik ($24.99)

You can’t find many toys that are specifically marketed to babies from birth to 12 months, a whole year!? Nonsense, right? Wrong! The Smart NogginStik actually delivers on that promise. It also provides parents with a guide to use this Stik as your little one moves along through each developmental leap. First, it is a handy light, you can use to help your baby learn to track with their eyes. Then it becomes a tool to introduce sound, and eventually, grasping and shaking! Your child will surely find entertainment in discovering and mastering the many ways this toy helps them grow their own lil’ noggin.

 

Jellycat Tails Activity Books ($16.50)

Research suggests that reading to our children, even as early as in the womb, can help with language development and literacy skills — no pressure! Finding a book that will keep them engaged can get challenging though, especially when your baby is more interested in rolling, scooting and exploring (basically three months and beyond!). Jellycat Activity Books are excellent in that they are a tactile object and book in one. From crinkly pages to brightly colored tails and fabric, the pages will literally come to life for your little one. Even as an introductory toy, your infant will love grabbing and chewing on this book with delight. Get one of these and you will surely set them up to be a bookworm for years to come.

 

Activity Rug and Toy Sets ($29.99)

Another multi-faceted treasure, the activity rug and toy sets are the perfect addition to your child’s play area. In the early days, you can. use it to set your newborn down for tummy time and sensory stimulation. Eventually, it can be a place to help your infant work on motor skills and rolling with the cars and other toys included.  Before you know it, your toddler will use the rug and toys to practice using their imagination. Everything else aside, it makes for a nice decorative feature in a playroom or nursery! The opportunities are endless with these rugs, and if you happen to snag one, it is sure to last you well beyond your child’s first year. Imagine all the adorable photos you’ll be able to capture of your little one playing on this rug! Lastly, use it to track their growth as the months fly by.

 

Shopping Cart ($69.99) and Wheely Animals (from $74.95)

Each of these toys are popular staples for pint sized shoppers at the boutique, and for good reason! While it is important to note the age recommendations are for older tots, under supervision your baby can enjoy slowly venturing outside their comfort zone using these rolly props. The shopping cart, for example, can grow with your child from early walker to three and beyond. At the early stages, you can also use it to show them how to put things away. As they grow older, it becomes a great tool for imaginative shopping play. The wheely (available in ladybug, bee, panda and more) has similar growth potential, starting as something your baby can use to strengthen their balance and walking skills. Eventually, it becomes a scooter and fun, comfy seat.

 

BeginAgain Bathtub Ball ($24.95)

Who doesn’t remember years of bathtime play? While your baby is still too small to move around in the tub, bath toys are great ways to keep them happy and stimulated. This bathtime ball is also something they can easily grip with its large hex patterned holes, and the toys are all different colors and textures! Once your child is more independent in the tub, they will surely enjoy squirting and splashing with the shark, diver and octopus! All items are made with natural rubber so they are sure to last for years of bathtime adventures!

We Asked, They Answered: Tips to Combat Cold & Flu Season from Our Babies in Bloom Affiliated Experts

Is it just us or does this year’s cold and flu season feel especially long? So long, in fact, that it’s carried into the new year! To make matters worse, new parents will soon learn how hard it is to keep the whole family healthy when a dreaded flu bug bites one of you. And let’s not even talk about those of us who are dealing with their second or third round of sick kids in as many months! 

Help is on the way! To anyone out there battling sniffles, puke, coughs, snot, fevers and more, we decided to reach out to some trusted Babies in Bloom affiliated experts and asked them: What advice or recommendations can you offer new parents and parents of young children to help them get through cold and flu season?

Here is what they said:

Registered Dietician specializing in Pediatric Nutrition, Rachel Rothman of Nutrition in Bloom

No magic food or supplement will keep away germs and illness.  Continue to offer your children nourishing foods throughout the day.  Drink fluids.  Wash hands.  Take care of yourself, as a sick parent is never any fun.  Eat whole foods like fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains.  And if illness does strike, remember to rest, stay hydrated and enjoy some of your favorite comfort foods. Soup is one of our favorite staples during the winter time, as it can warm our bodies, provide nutrition and keep us hydrated.  I recently made a hearty tomato soup with celery, carrot, and onion, which was a hit with the whole family!  Check out some of my favorite recipes on my blog www.nutritioninbloom.com/blog.

Follow Nutrition in Bloom on Instagramand Facebookfor more help on nutrition from introducing solids to eating through adolescence. 

Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, Jen Varela of Sugar Night Night

When your little one is not feeling well it creates a dilemma for parents on what to do with sleep expectations and sleep training. Here are my top tips to put your mind at ease.

  1. If your little one has a fever and you are in the middle of sleep training, it is OK to pause your sleep training efforts.  Once they are feeling better then jump right back in, don’t delay and you will be amazed how quickly they will get back to where you left off.

  2. If your little one at bedtime is able to put themselves to sleep without your assistance and due to a cold, they are waking at night, it is OK to help them back to sleep.  Getting them back to sleep as soon as possible with comforting (holding, rocking, patting, shushing), you are protecting the amount of sleep they are getting which will help them get the rest they need.  The key is to keep the skills at bedtime in place, once your little one is feeling better because they are not sleep deprived due to your assistance, they will start sleeping through the night again.

  3. When your baby is sick, you know they need more rest but you might be wondering if too much day sleep will affect their night sleep.  Typically for babies 6-months or older, you don’t want their morning nap to be longer than 1 ½ – hours.  However, one or two days allowing their morning nap to be 2-hours long when they are not well can help them get the extra rest they need to get well.  

Eager to learn more sleep advice for your little one? Visit Sugar Night Night’s websiteor follow  via FacebookandInstagram.

Licensed Midwives, Paula Tipton-Healy and Haley Perkins Kaijala of Paula’s Midwifery

To help prevent illness, keep your hands clean as often as possible, eat a well-balanced, healthy diet, and boost your immune system during peak sick times with elderberry, Zicam and Vitamin C.

When you are experiencing cold and flu like symptoms, here are a few things you can do:

  • Use Homeopathic Flu Nosode (liquid drops), and Oscillococcinum (pellets)
  • Drink warm water with apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice and honey
  • Continue breastfeeding even when sick
  • Wear baby when out and about for comfort when they are sick and to help keep away from germ exposure.

Learn more about Paula’s Midwifery by visiting their website, and following them on Facebookand Instagram.

Certified Babywearing Educator and CPST , Katie Prochaska

Babywearing can be a great way to help baby avoid extra germs during cold and flu season. When baby is snug and secure right on mom or dad’s chest people are just more likely to keep their distance from baby because they don’t want to get too far into your personal space. The added benefit is that the carrier can actually act as a bit of a physical barrier. Not only is it going to keep baby warmer by adding more layers, it’s also going to be what people are more likely to touch, keeping potentially germ-y hands off of baby’s clothes and body. Another perk to babywearing during cold and flu season is that if people do ask to hold your baby and you are worried about germs (or you just aren’t comfortable with it-you’re the parent here), you have a built in excuse to say, “not right now, s/he’s pretty comfy in there…” If all else fails, you may still have to ask people to keep their distance from baby, or to wash their hands; but having baby in a carrier can definitely be a great way to cut out germs during the sickness prone time of year.  

Learn more about Babywearing classes or schedule a consultation at Babies in Bloom by calling 760-940-2229.

Certified Childbirth Educator and Lactation Consultant (and Babies in Bloom owner), Rochelle McLean

The most important thing a breastfeeding mom can do during cold and flu season is to continue to breastfeed. If baby is in daycare, I encourage moms to send a blanket with baby to daycare, and then the next day, wrap the blanket like a scarf around their neck during pumping. It helps to expose mom to the organisms baby is exposed to at daycare so that she can help to make protective antibodies.

If mom gets sick, your body is making antibodies to the things you are exposed to and will pass those antibodies along to baby, without passing along the illness. Utilize the same techniques to help control the spread of germs such as frequent hand washing, covering when you cough or sneeze. Breastfed babies can often escape illness in the house. 

There is a ton of misinformation out there about medications available for breastfeeding moms to use when they are sick. Oftentimes doctors and pharmacists will say a medication is not safe for use during breastfeeding when it is. LactMed is a great resource to read more information about medications and their use while breastfeeding. The KellyMom website is another helpful resource for natural methods to treat a cold or the flu that are compatible with breastfeeding. 

Time Will Make Us Better Parents. It’s That Hard and That Easy.

As I write this, I have my laptop propped on the kitchen island while cooking breakfast. This is how inspiration hits me: my husband is roaming around the house upstairs and down holding our five-month-old baby while he cries and fights sleep. It’s taking everything I have in me not to intervene, to breastfeed him to sleep with no tears and less struggle.

But I’m holding back, at least for a few extra minutes, to give my husband the opportunity to do this on his own, in his own way.

A lot of the early parenting articles I come across display headlines like “What They Didn’t Tell Me About Becoming a Parent” or “10 Things I Didn’t Know Until I Had Kids of My Own.” The assumption sometimes in these headlines is that:

  1. Information is being withheld from us, as if us new parents must be initiated in the same way those before us were, and
  2. This information is somehow transformative. That, once we have it, we have access to a special code that will solve all our problems.

I’ll admit I went into my pregnancy with the idea that the more information I had the better. Knowledge is power, right? The more I knew, the less afraid I was about what I might experience. I told myself that I didn’t necessarily need to USE all the suggestions myself, but having it in my toolbox would prove helpful at some point.

Five months into this parenting thing, however, and I am nowhere near as confident or wise as I expected to be. I haven’t found an article that solved all my problems or even the problem at hand, and I am finding that having all the information in the world isn’t necessarily helpful. It’s a pretty defeating realization, accepting that sometimes there is no solution. Sometimes, there are many different possible solutions. On my bad days, this makes me feel pretty bitter.

On my level headed days, like today, I understand that harboring resentment because NO ONE TOLD ME so many things is the wrong way of looking at it. NO ONE TOLD ME because NO ONE has MY child. It feels silly saying out loud, but how many times have I needed to remind myself that my child is an individual? Not only is he an individual, but he also has moods and feelings and circumstances that affect him each day, each moment, ESPECIALLY now, when he is growing and changing SO rapidly.

I have had to remind myself many many times on a daily basis of this fact and this fact alone because, while the articles offer solace, comfort and provide nifty tips sometimes, they do not solve my problems. They shouldn’t.

Parenting is hard but it’s supposed to be challenging. We as parents need to be initiated. If we are somehow offered a fast lane to this whole experience, we are potentially less equip for more difficult times ahead like when our child splits his chin in the swimming pool or has a severe allergic reaction and needs to go to the hospital. Our ability to act in the moment, to make the call to get help or solve the problem on our own depends on what we know about our child and our awareness of our place in his life as his parents. No “10 Things to Do When…” will help us in these moments.

The best and the hardest thing to accept about as parents is that all the information we need is gained in the time we spend them. The more we observe and get to know them, the more we can gauge what works and what does not.

We have ideas and instincts that I think sometimes living in the information age obscures.  In my moments of exasperation, I keep asking how parents of yesteryear figured things out, before all these websites and classes and coaches were available?

The answer is simple: people were able to still parent successfully without all that, our parents did, our friends did, and we can too. That isn’t to say the additional resources aren’t helpful, just that you shouldn’t deny the power of your own instincts. We just need patience, and patience is something that feels like a curse when we are so accustomed to instant gratification.  

Surprise surprise, this essay is not here to solve problems for you. Maybe in not trying to, it will serve as a gentle reminder that no one has the solution, but you.

And how is my baby doing now? He’s peacefully napping in his nursery. It took my husband three attempts to put him down without crying, but without my intervention, he still succeeded.

And what are we doing now? We are sipping coffee and enjoying a home-made breakfast before 10:30 a.m. for the first time in a long time together, alone. Here’s to celebrating the little victories.

Stroll into Halloween: A Family Friendly Guide of Local October Events

If the Autumnal Equinox had you like…

…then you’ve already decked out your house in fall and Halloween decor, bought pumpkin flavored everything, and have your turtlenecks, booties and scarfs queued up for the slightest sign of wind chill.

The cooler temps and shorter days don’t mean that you and your young family need to be cooped up to enjoy this special time of year. Quite the opposite. In fact, throughout the month of October, there are tons of activities in celebration of pumpkins, candy, and things that go bump in the night. Read on to find out about some of the local family and stroller friendly events in the month of October.   

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch (Valley Center, CA)  

15954 Woods Valley Rd, Valley Center, CA 92082

All Month Long

It wouldn’t be fall without a good ol’ fashioned pumpkin patch outing. There are many to choose from but Bates Nut Farm’s truly has it all: hayrides, a straw maze, petting zoo and pony rides, food trucks, live music, and of course, pumpkins of all sizes! Spend a day with the whole family basking in some of these seasonal traditions at a venue that’s been doing this for over fifty years!

Kids Free October Safari Park (Escondido, CA)

15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027

All Month Long

Throughout the month of October, kids ages 11 and younger get free admission (with an adult) at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It’s not the only place where kids get in free during the month of October in San Diego. The San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Birch Aquarium, and museums across the county are dropping kids’ fees for a whole month. The Safari Park is promising lots of special activities during the weekends, and the free admission includes its Africa Tram! While this isn’t a Halloween-themed offer, you have to admit, it is quite a treat!

Legoland’s Brick-or-Treat (Carlsbad, CA)

1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008

10/6/18 – 10/31/18

Not only is Legoland taking part in the Kids Free October offer, but the theme park is also celebrating Halloween season with the return of its annual Brick or Treat event. This year, the event is taking place even more days (9 days to be exact) beginning October 6. What is Brick or Treat exactly? It’s a time when the Lego-themed park transforms for Halloween with a trick-or-treating trail and scavenger hunt, kid-friendly spooky entertainment, music and fireworks, and more surprises.

Breakfast with the Littlest Pumpkin (San Marcos, CA)

3 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, California 92069

10/13/2018, 7:30 AM – 11 AM

Enjoy a pancake breakfast at the San Marcos Community Center and play fun carnival games. Halloween costumes are encouraged so it’s the perfect opportunity to get more photo opps with your cutie pie in their costume! One night isn’t enough.

Pumpkin Plunge (Carlsbad, CA)

6565 Alicante Road Carlsbad, CA  92009

10/20/18, 5 PM – 9 PM

Who said the end of summer means our swimsuits have to go in storage for a whole year? One perk of San Diego living? Halloween events can take place in community pools! The Alga Norte Aquatic Center in Carlsbad is hosting its annual Pumpkin Plunge! For one day, the aquatic center transforms for some Halloween fun with pool activities and games with prizes, floating obstacles, and Key Logs. Not interested in getting wet and wild? Dry activities include a pumpkin themed bounce house, Floating Pumpkin Patch where every child will get to lasso and keep a pumpkin, ring toss, and a photo op. To top it off, the evening ends with a movie showing (Boxtrolls, rated PG) on a giant outdoor movie screen. Dinner and snacks available at the event!

Not So Scary Estuary (Solana Beach, CA)

2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

10/28/18, 10 AM – 3 PM

Looking to get in touch with nature and have an educational experience in costume? Have a howling good time this Halloween season at the 7th Annual Not-So-Scary Estuary Family Discovery Day at the San Elijo Nature Center. This year’s theme is Changing Climate and will include performances about sea level rise, a zero-waste activity and animal meet and greets. Kids who come in costume will be invited to join the parade with prizes awarded. With all that and more inside the Nature Center and outside along the loop trail, this is sure to be a fun-filled day of memories for you and your family.

Dia de los Muertos (Oceanside, CA)

4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA 92057

10/28/18, 10 AM – 4 PM

The San Luis Rey Mission comes alive to celebrate Dia de los Muertos at a free family-friendly event that includes live entertainment, carnival rides, alter displays and a classic car show. The event includes tons of craft activities and carnival rides for your kids. And you definitely won’t want to miss out on the over 90 vendors and amazing traditional food available at this community event.