10 things babies need


The first 3 years the brain is the most flexible. How you touch and talk to a baby increases the synapses connections with a rich network of experiences. If babies are environmentally deprived their brains will not grow and will stay small for the rest of their lives. If you took a picture of a deprived brain (Romanian orphan child study) it would look similar to an Alzheimers brain.  At age 3-5 children loose 40 percent of their brain cells they were born with. Ages 0-3 is a critical time for brain growth. The more interaction the better.


Touch is critical to development in an infant. The simple act of holding a baby literally sends signals to the brain and is as critical a nutrient as a vitamin.  Romanian children in orphanages not touched were starved for this human sense and the children do not recover and often die without it.


Children are not capable of making decisions for themselves about healthy choices and cleanliness. Many learning disabilities are a result from delinquency in providing children with a safe healthy environment to thrive, such as lead poisoning. Temperature control, healthy foods, peaceful, loving, calm…all contribute to how the child will thrive in their environment.


If you talk loudly to a baby they will naturally turn you off says Dr. Rasmassen. Babies as young as directly after birth can interact with you by hearing your calm quiet voice. Stress has a major affect on children and babies are affected if they feel stress from their parents. Their heart rate is affected and it has a physical affect on their bodies. The stress hormone cortesole lowers when a baby sits on a lap of it’s mother or is held by it’s mother in a peaceful way. Discipline or getting angry at a baby should never happen. They do not understand why anger is directed at them so they will respond as if they are frightened. Their environments thrive when they feel safe, calm and in an environment free to explore without being punished.


Do babies need to worry about self esteem? Absolutely. They are aware of tone and energy and can feel when there is tension. Babies are sponges and soak in what is around them. They need encouragement and love. Many young mothers need to be educated on how important it is to talk in a positive way to their baby and then on with your young child and beyond.


The ideal care for a baby is in a home with their mother. The child has a strong natural bond to the person who carried them for 9 months–it is a scientific fact. Yes babies can be cared for by other adults and be healthy.  Childcare is a huge business and there are many checkpoints that need to be addressed for the baby to have quality care. Ratio is critical. No more than 3 to one for infants. Nutrition, safety, cleanliness, inclusion of parents in the child’s day, sleep habits, routines, etc. The choices you make for infant care can affect them their entire life.


Talk to your baby! It is as simple as that. Language is learned by using it. Repetition is the key. Children learn how to communicate in all ways by how you model communication with them. If you do not talk to your baby you are wasting precious growth time but also connective time.  Look at your baby when you talk to them. Listen to your baby. Speak quietly and slowly to your baby. They will begin to mimic you and understand long before they can speak. Computer and cell phones keep people from actually using eye contact with each other when the speak and children lose connective language.

8. PLAY! Play is our brain’s favorite way to learn. Play builds connections in the brain. Strong research evidences parental interaction through play creates smart, connective, healthy babies and children. Play is fun. Do lots of it and all different kinds.


Babies have an infinity for music. Music helps foster language, rhythm, improve pre-mathematical awareness. Music fires off the brain in ways that scientist are only barely skimming. Bring music into your babies life.


It begins as a shared experience and the babies brain begins to hear language sounds, decoding, differentiation, etc. besides benefit by attention, touch, and communication from a parent or caregiver.  Reading helps develop language but it also benefits babies by expanding the world around him/her.

All ten of these items fire neurons in baby’s brain and provide healthy stimulation and growth. This allows baby to thrive and grow into a caring kind human being. Spending time with your baby is the best investment you can give them.

(From Infant Care Video. Masters Course Manhattanville College)




Ground Level

Put your phone UP

and sit DOWN on the floor…

or on the grass…

or on the boulder…

or on the sidewalk…

or in the dirt…

or on the sand…

on “ground level.”

You have now shifted to casual level.

You are at pet level.

You are at kid level.

Sitting DOWN is surprising.

‘Oh, there’s that missing puzzle piece…’

‘Look at the bug…’

Children or grandchildren will crawl on you.

Dogs will lick your face– cats will rub against you.

The earth beneath your bottom will feel stable and strong.

(Your bum cheeks will get sore)

You are there;

simple and present.

Ground level is highly under rated…

You should try it and be surprised.


Eat Dill Pickles

The summer pickle/mason jar

Don’t throw away pickle jars.

Here is what you can do with them…

  • Bug hotels (be sure to place some plant food and some sticks or items to crawl on)  You can cover the top of the jar with old screen and a rubber band or use foil and poke small holes.  Remember to let your bug go after a short time so he won’t feel too sad to be away from his friends and family.
  • “Lightening in a jar”:  Catch fireflies if you are lucky to live in the Northeast or make one up by putting battery lights in the jar and turn off the light. Lightening bugs!
  • Collection holder for the summer…bottle caps, penny’s, beautiful rocks, shells, ticket stubs, petals, leaves, ribbons, buttons, feathers….
  • Boredom Jar: Place in the jar chores around the house with a payment on the paper.  If they complain they are bored, then go have them take a paper from the jar and do it..of course they get paid for the job.  Example:  10 cents  Take out the bathroom trash. OR:  put ideas in the jar, so when they can’t think of anything to do, you can refer them to “the jar!” Or use it for an idea jar to do projects or read stories.
  • Begin your Christmas Jar: All the change you find, or have in your pockets or purses at the end of the day go in the Christmas jar.  One day at Christmas time you give the whole coin jar to someone who looks like they need it.
  • Grow a plant in your jar/ put worms under the earth and see if you can watch them
  • Make it into a luminary. Glue with white glue and a little water torn colored tissue paper on the outside of the jar.  Place a candle inside in the evening and see the pretty colors glow through.  You can wrap wire around the tops of the jars and hang the jars if you have a place outside to hold the wire.
  • Make butter: Put real cream inside the washed out jar and shake and shake and shake until the butter gets thick.  Add some honey and you have homemade honey butter.
  • Use your jar as a “compliment”family jar. Leave pieces of paper near the jar and allow your family to write things to put in the jar about something nice a family member does.
  • Penny cleaner: Mix salt and vinegar together.  This makes hydrochloric acid.  Drop pennies inside or use a cotton swab to clean off the pennies.
  • A joke or thought for the day…write them out and read them before bed…laugh together
  • Go to the dump. It is really fun for kids.  Take all your jars you save and throw them in the big container that recycles jars….or take them to a recycling center at the grocery story and get change.
  • Use your jar for water when you paint all those amazing pictures with your children
  • Rainbow Sand: color sand, salt, or white corn meal with powdered tempera paint in plastic bags.  Now you can pour layers of colored sand into your jar to make a beautiful art piece to display.
  • Use your jar as a vase for the beautiful wild flowers you pick on your walks
  • Drink from them with a fun straw

When food was fun #2

More Quick Fun-Food tips:


A. Allow your cookies to become a source for make-believe. Doggy bone cookies can be a day of playing “doggie” for your kids. ABC cutters can be a play school day or creating words.

B. Make food funner by using your cookie cutters to help kids eat vegetables, eggs, funner sandwiches, fruit slices, lunch meats, cheese, play dough…Tiny cookie cutters are great for toddler size pieces.

C. Real doggie cookies for animal friends: 3 eggs, 1/4 c. soy flour, 1 Tablespoon natural yeast, 2 T. wheat germ, 2 T. instant dry milk, 2 T. water. Knead the  dough for 3 minutes. Cut with doggie-bone cookie cutters and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and turn over then bake for 23 more minutes. Place in a container for your pup or give away to your furry friends.


  1. Magic Wands: Large pretzel rods or breadsticks dipped in melted chocolate, candy melts, yogurt, cream cheese, peanut butter then dipped in colored sprinkles make the most delicious magic wands. Let them play fairy or Wizards today…
  2. 2. Birthday Candles: Little stick pretzels placed in the center of individual cheese cubes is a family favorite for birthday candles…we sing every time we make them. No, its not for a real birthday, but the pretend one for Snowy, Little Truck, or Lego Batman. Great snack.
  3. 3. Pretzel Words: Did you know you can bite your way through a praying pretzel to make alphabet words. The praying pretzel are the large ones with two circles on the sides and the twist in the center.
  4. 4. Make-Your-Own: Freezer bread dough is great fun and you can make your own bread sticks or pretzels and put your own toppings on them. For cinnamon pretzels brush with melted butter after you spend some fun time making the shapes. Then sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and sugar over the top and bake. They don’t take long so watch the time.


Play with your vegetables.

Zucchini Boats: Carve out the center of a zucchini and float it in a pool or stream.

Mr. Potato Head began when children used to stick things into a real potato with toothpicks. It is great fun to use real veges and make funny heads. Don’t stop with potatoes, do this with pumpkins, squash, melons, citrus…fun!

Potato prints are really fun. Use other foods such as carrots, mushrooms, etc. Cut the vegetable in shapes, paint with tempera paint or if you have little ones, place paint on a sponge and allow them to dip it like an ink pad. Then make your own prints. A blast!


Use pasta to your advantage to get children to enjoy their dinners. Kids love pasta! Create kid-friendly names of the dishes. Examples:

Wagon wheels in “cowboy dinner.” Butterfly soup. Under the Sea supper: shells and octopus (with the octopus as a hot dog then cut half way to mimic the eight legs placed on top. Use the twisty ones, the curly ones, angel hair, alphabet…so many fun pastas!

“For heavens sakes,” says grandma,  “make food fun and connective instead of a battle of whits! The dinner table is where you should be having family fun time together and enjoying the filling up both physical and emotional.”



When Food Was Fun…

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.

Elsa Schiapirelli

Summer, Food, Friends…perfect fit!

The kitchen is the best place for mega fun! Here are some edible ideas for summer treats, eats and beats to boredom.

  1. Don’t want to cook? Make food boards. Serve on a chopping board or tray rolled up meats or chunky tuna, assorted breads, crackers, chips, popcorn, etc., cheese squares or cubes, add cucumbers, carrots, berries, hard-boiled eggs, olives, dill pickles…what ever you feel like. (have your kids decide) Bring out some toothpicks  and all sit around and nibble. (Do it for breakfast with cut up waffles, syrup to dunk, berries, melons, ham, hard boiled eggs, piles of granola, etc.)

“…he that cannot lick his fingers goes not with me… ”               William Shakespeare

2. Smoothies are a craze. Let your child make up their own. One thing fun is to purchase some inexpensive fun types of cups or silly straws. Many you can get at the dollar store. Let your child pick out a “special cup” that can be just their own.  Have these “special cups” be only for smoothie concoctions.

3. Wait, smoothies make great Popsicles. Pour them in  ice-cube trays, and cover with foil. Stick a toothpick through the foil (it stands up straight) and freeze for a few hours. Let your children eat these all summer, or chop with a fork and it turns into a slushy. Oh so good on a hot day!

4. Popsicle Competition. Who can make the best tasting flavors? Homemade Popsicles can be made by juicing, adding fruit juices together, lemonade flavors, or adding chunks of fruit into the trays. Have a family or friendly competition and everyone be the judge.

Tip: save small container lids. Cut a small slit in the center and place the Popscicle stick through the slit. Not the lid catches the drips and not on the clothes. Hooray!

5. Jello Jigglers are a great sensory experience and they taste good. Allow your child to help make them. The recipe is on the jello box. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Let them use scissors (washed) to cut the jello up and play with it. Eating and playing is allowed. (Hot water is required)

6. Jello Fish Bowl. Make up a blue Jell-o recipe and put into a glass bowl. Place green or purple grapes in the bottom. Allow the jello to set and then use a skewer to add gummy fish. Share with family or friends.

7. Going fishing?: Place fishy crackers in a tiny container. Using straight pretzels as the fishing pole, have them dip in cream cheese, peanut butter, butter, Nutella, bate and stick in the fish to catch some. Then eat them up.

8. Fruit Roll ups are great for crafts. You can make mini purses, bows on cupcakes, flowers, circles. Go to town…

9. Peanut Butter Clay: 1 cup peanut butter, 1 1/2 cups powdered milk, 3 Tables spoons honey. Mix together well then play. (you will want to take a snitch)

10. Dirt Dessert: (Family Favorite) Smash Oreo cookies up to look like dirt. The best way I found to include the kids is to put it in two freezer bags and let them hit the bag with a rolling pin or spoon. Layer clear cups, or a big clean flower pot, with chocolate, butter scotch or vanilla pudding (Whichever you prefer), the Oreos, cream cheese and or whipped cream. Make sure the tops are completely covered with the “dirt.” Place artificial flowers on the top as a center piece or make flowers with gum drops and skewers. Serve the large pot with a clean/ food safe potting shovel. It is a great crowd pleaser!

11. If you read any books this summer that can be turned into a special themed dinner  to use to encourage and continue reading. The story Stone Soup is a great starter. It doesn’t work unless you have the kids help.

12. Turn your tongue Blue Day! Its another family contest and get the camera ready. Choose which is the winning factor for tongue dying. Frozen blueberries, grapes or raspberries, blue fruit pops, blue jello, blue Italian ice, blue gummy sharks, or blue gum balls. I’m not telling which will win!

13. Flavor your own popcorn: You can make this into a contest too. (But everyone is the winner!)

14. Did you know many stuffed animal and doll friend’s birthdays are in the summer? Go figure. Have your child make a party for them that all invited to. Of course the Lovey will request their favorite dinner or dessert. That is up to you to figure out that edible surprise.

Nonsense Summer Days

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.”  Roald Dahl

When I was a child my father would sing this little phrase before he would flip us on our beds. “One for the money, two for the  show, three to get ready and four to go…flip!

Stay-cations? Schedule  your days around a bit of nonsense:

“One for the money” Monday: Chores made fun, lemonade stands, car washes…Write down small tasks with the cash reward amount next to the task and fill up a jar. Be prepared to pay up when the job is completed. Allow a trip to the dollar store, candy store, tag sale where you can buy treasures cheap. Let them chose even if YOU don’t think it will be fun. They worked for it, let them learn about it.

“Two for the  Show” Tuesday: Today is movie day. Tell your child you want her to put on a show for you. (Children are masters at this without your help!) OR go allow your child to pick a free movie at the library. Have a movie time with friends. Watch shows that involve “cool” stories like Snow Dogs, Frozen, Happy Feet or Polar Express. Watch in the basement if you have one. Place pillows, blankets in the freezer for a few minutes of chill. BRRRR! AHHH!

“Three to get ready” Wednesday: Plan and Prep for a family outing for the next day. Have a family planning time where you decide a list of things you can do together for an outing. (Not expensive, just fun together) To have them guess tangle a room with string with  the final destination at the end. Have then untangle to discover.

“Four to GOOOOO,” Thursday: This is a family adventure day. Penny walks; Heads you go left, tails you go right. See where you end up. A scavenger hike on a bike, in a car, in a yard, in your house on a stormy summer afternoon. Use your imagination or look up what to do with kids, you your area where you live.

Other random day ideas:

Nick-Nack-Patty-Wack Monday: Learn something new today. A magic trick, a science experiment, a unique art project, a new sport, a new food. (Gak, Slime, or OOObleck are good choices in the recipes)

Tutty-Fruity Tuesday: Visit fruit stands, or go to the grocery store. Make up a new type of smoothie and drink in fun cups, or place in ice trays and make up some Popsicles. Have a family watermelon seed spitting contest. (BTW the record is 66 feet 11 inches to beat)

Whatcha-ma-call-it Wednesday: This is a silly day. Wear your clothes backwards, have a crazy dinner using different utensils, get squirted with the hose or make your own slip and slide, make it so if you say a certain word you have to do….be creative and have some fun with it…

Share this link of ideas to your friends so they can have some summer fun with summer days too…



Summer Fun in a Flash

  1. Monster Bubbles: 6 cups water, 2 cups Joy liquid dish washing soap, 3/4 cup light corn syrup. Mix in a large bucket and let sit for 4-6 hours. Use string threaded through 2 straws, hangers shaped, hands, plastic lids with holes cut out from the center, etc. The bubbles LOVE humidity but it is not necessary. Have a blast out side!
  2. Shaving Cream Paint: Mix tempera paint or food coloring with squirts of shaving cream. Allow your child to paint on cookie sheets or plastic trays OR if it is a stormy summer day put them in the bathtub with no water and their swimming suits and let them paint there.
  3. Finger Paint: 2 T. sugar, 1/3 corn starch. Place in saucepan and slowly add 2 cups cold water. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes until clear and smooth gel appears. Cool. Stir in 1/4 c. liquid dishwashing soap. Scoop in containers and add food coloring or tempera paints. Will stay in sealed containers for several weeks. Let them paint on foil, wax paper, regular paper, or cookie sheets. It is finger paint so let them use their fingers!!
  4. GAK: 2 c. white glue, 2 c. warm water. Mix together in a container that is not used for food and can be cleaned or disposed of. Mix together 1 c. water and 1/2 c. Borax. Slowly add the 2 solutions together and mix them well until it coagulates together. This does not come out of clothing. You can draw on it with markers or bury toys in it. Very fun but messy. Store in zip lock bag.
  5. Kool-aid play dough: 2 Kool-aid packeges matching flavors (without sugar), 2 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. salt, 3 T. oil, 2 c. water. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Bring the liquids to a boil in a saucepan and then add the hot liquid to the dry ingredients. Knead together. This smells so good and is a great time to play with when it is warm. Keep in tight container and store in refrigerator for several weeks.
  6. Toe Paint: 3 parts flour to 1 part salt. Add water until gravy consistency. Stir in food coloring and paint with toes on paper–outside preferably but not necessarily.
  7. Penny Cleaner: Mix salt and vinegar. T his makes hydrochloric acid. Drop pennies in the mixture then use swab to wipe them clean. Dry immediately.
  8. Colored Pasta or Rice to play with like sand: 1 c. uncooked rice, 1/2 t. food coloring, 1 t. rubbing alchohol (optional). Place in plastic bag and mix together. Place the pasta or rice on a tray to dry. Pour in a plastic bin and add cups, spoons and toys.
  9. Snow paint: 1 c. White King Natural Laundry Soap, 1/2 c. water, 1/3 c. liquid starch. Whisk or blend. It whips up like frothy snow. Store in covered container.
  10. OOOBleck: 1/2 c. cornstarch, 1/4 c. water. This is the oddest stuff. You can make a solid ball and then it will melt in  your hand. Read the book by Dr. Seuss, Bartholemew and the Oobleck.
  11. Sand pictures: Mix white corn meal with powdered tempera paint. Get glass jars and layer them with colors. You can color sugars and do the same thing as gifts. Place glue on paper and use the sand like glitter to make colored pictures.
  12. Squeeze Paint: 2 c. flour, 1 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. salt, food coloring. Place in squeeze bottles. (You can buy these at Michaels, or go to the dollar store and buy ketchep and mustard squeeze bottles)
  13. Gelatin fun: Make your own wonder worlds with clear gelatin. Make it in a bowl and let it set. Tip over the mold and now you have a jelly fish. Take an eye dropper of food coloring and water and squirt it inside. you will have all sorts of colors inside. Slice it with a plastic knife. Explore this strange substance.
  14. Contact paper collage. Cut a piece of contact paper and take the backing off. Place the sticky side up on a table and allow your child to stick things on it. Gather leaves and petals from outdoors, feathers, string, yarn, toys, fabric, cotton. If you child wants to keep it cover it with a clear piece of contact paper on the top.
  15. Sand paper flannel board. A piece of sandpaper can be a sensory experience with your child. Allow them to stick cut flannel, felt, string,  yarn, cotton to the sand paper.