Kid Central, Toddler Central

4 Tips to Help Your Toddler Love Books & Reading

Most parents imagine themselves reading stories to their children, even when they are still in utero! Parenting and reading seem to go hand in hand. So, why is it, that your toddler is more into throwing the books across the room rather than snuggling up for a story? Some kids are magnets to books, but others need a bit more prompting to develop a fondness. You can make major moves in this department just by altering the way you present books to your child.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 9.14.40 PM

It is natural to feel you want the best for your little one. But just because your 18-month old isn’t into books, doesn’t mean his future isn’t bright! It’s sometimes tough for books to compete with figurine play, fun time with you, and lively outings and events – all which are great alternatives! And, if your toddler is constantly trying to get a peek at technology, that is also pretty typical. The lights, colors, and animation of screen time make it nearly impossible for children to resist. Don’t worry; it’s not too late to encourage a love for reading. Check out these 4 practical tips that can make a dramatic difference!

Start with Interactive Books

While this may be your worst nightmare, this is a wonderful start for promoting the warm and fuzzies for books in general. Try to consider what motivates your child. Is that certain popular characters (I’m looking at you, Paw Patrol)? Or perhaps zoo or jungle animals? What about colors, numbers, shapes, or letters? Regardless of my suggestions, find what is specific to your toddler’s interests. If they aren’t showing too much affection towards anything just yet, then the pressure is off! Grab a book that has buttons, sounds, or textures. Something rather than a plain ‘ole storybook. Don’t be discouraged that this is all your little one prefers for now. This is a great segue to the real deal!

Choose Simple Books for Story Time

Now that your little one is tolerating a fun (& possibly noisy) interactive book, let’s kick things up a notch! I know it is tempting to read your tot your favorite childhood story that your parents read you, but for the time being, follow your toddler’s likes and interests. Again, only you know what your child loves best – and don’t be afraid if it doesn’t fit the conventional mold. There are no hard rules here!  Upon choosing a Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 9.14.25 PMbook, keep in mind the shorter the better to build up tolerance and keep your child motivated. If you are simply just talking about the book and the pictures, that is a wonderful start. Don’t worry so much about the words in the beginning! They will come in due time. Once you do start to actually read the pages, it also may be helpful to shorten lengthy text to just one line.

Remain Optimistic & Be Tons of FUN

If you find that your tot is simply not engaged despite your efforts – aim to be more FUN! You heard me! Don’t be opposed to breaking out your silliest voices, funniest faces, and occasional light tickles. Also, if your child is just not having it, table the reading and try again later. It is more important during this interaction that you end on a high note. Getting upset in front of your child will not help shape their love for reading. It can actually backfire (so many rules, right?).

Choose the Right Reading Time

A lot of children are wiped out and overtired upon approaching bedtime. You may see this in the form of high energy or aggitation. While books are typically great for bedtime routines, this may not be the best time to introduce them to an unwilling participant! Instead, consider this introduction during your child’s best times. Is your child a morning person? Then, that is your go-time. Another handy trick is to keep a book in the car. Whether your little one is forward facing or not, your voice and fun animation will be hard to resist when there is literally nothing else to do! Seize the moment. It seems silly at first, but you can bust out your book after you pull into a store parking lot or your driveway, and simply read a few pages before going inside. This familiarity will also help when you read the same book in the house. Children often respond well to repetition, and with your silly, fun antics, this is a slam dunk!

These tips are helpful for those children seemingly resistant to books. In a matter of time, your child may go from no interest to you having to limit your child’s selection!

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.

Kid Central, Sleep Central, Toddler Central

Foods to Help Your Toddler Sleep Better

Toddlers and children often have a tough time falling asleep and staying asleep. (Geez lady, tell me something I don’t know). This could be for a variety of reasons such as being too stimulated, not feeling well, perhaps apprehensive about their sleep environment, and/or not wanting to be alone. Who here has a FOMO child? But, another good solid reason a child may not readily go to sleep is due to hunger.

Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 4.22.04 PM

Now, trust me. I know what you might be thinking: I try to feed him all day long. But, he refuses my healthy food offerings each and every time. I totally get where you are coming from if this is your sentiment. I am on your side! But, we can’t totally have it both ways. We cannot tough love them holding preferred foods at bay, and then also expect a great sleeper. Don’t worry, I have some ideas to help, that won’t totally compromise your parenting style!

I prefer children have full bellies prior to sleep periods, for two main reasons. 1) I want all children to obtain the sleep requirements needed for their age. Not reaching these benchmarks (see this Wake Time Allowance Chart), can create an ongoing cycle of less than ideal daytime behavior, leaving even less time for learning and creativity. 2) I want you as a parent, to know your child is at least not hungry. This allows you to troubleshoot more effectively at night if you are trying to work towards a sleep goal.

For this reason, I wanted to provide you a few night time snack choices. Even if your little one is eating well with three square meals, a snack the last 30 minutes or so before bedtime is a great idea. Make sure this is a food that your child is accustomed to eating and there are no reactions or food sensitivities to your choice at hand.

Here are some of my favorite bedtime snacks for children over the age of 2:

Banana & Greek Yogurt

You can combine the two or keep them spaced apart on the plate. Or, go crazy and mix and mash them together. By the way, bananas are excellent for helping a child settle down for sleep. They contain magnesium and potassium, both which are known to help relax muscles, the natural way! Greek yogurt can also be substituted for milk. The tryptophan and calcium in these dairy products help the body produce melatonin – which is essential for sleep.

Whole Wheat Bread with Peanut Butter

It’s always a great idea to balance carbs and proteins, and what better way to do this than an old fashioned snack. Kids typically adore bread, so perhaps you won’t get a lot of push back here. If your child is allergic to peanuts, or you suspect an allergy, this is not the snack for you. Also, if you kiddo is not into peanut butter, try the thinnest layer possible until the taste is acquired. Bread and straight butter may be your go-to for a while.

Celery, Raisins, and Peanut Butter

Otherwise known as ants on a log. It’s visually inviting to a child, and at least healthier than some sugary, refined crackers. Just a few raisins is all it takes – appealing, but still limiting unnecessary nighttime sweetness.

Oatmeal

Listen, you probably aren’t into the idea of whipping up a snack of oatmeal. This is often messy depending on the child’s age and isn’t as easy to prepare as the other proposed snacks. But, perhaps you’ll consider breakfast for dinner occasionally with this healthy sleep inducer! High carbs are known to do this, and with oats specifically, it goes back to the melatonin.

Do your children currently snack before bedtime? What is working for you? In our house, the banana is routinely our sleep superfood.

 

Amy Douglas is a Certified Sleep Consultant at Baby Sleep Central. Recently named as one of the Best Sleep Consultants in the United States, Douglas works with parents of children from Birth – Age 6. Help your baby, toddler, or child sleep more independently, starting tonight.

Mom Central

The Momma Chronicles: The Toddler and The Zoo

This season pass has paid for itself over, and over again. It allows us to leisurely stroll through the zoo so my little guy can spend extra time doing important things like this: sitting on a very hot tiger sculpture. He wants off, he wants on, he wants off, he wants it cooler… he wants to yell, and climb, and challenge the other children to a duel when they come near.

His smile says, “Come and play”, but his eyes say, “I dare you”. Whether we are at the zoo, the library, or our own back yard, the teachable moments are plentiful with my punky. With the zoo, I find myself particularly challenged as a patient mother. He is nearing 3 years, and as much fun as that is, he tempts me to leash him on the regular. I went so far as to purchase one, but won’t succumb to the leash. Owning it gives me great comfort and makes me swear to never judge another parent for any choice they make. Because, one of these days it might just make an appearance, wrist to wrist. He is at the age where stroller confinement equals torturous screams; ones that even produce sympathetic “awws”, and pity faces from strangers. How could I be so mean, they wonder? Why won’t I let him out instead of shushing him to death? Why is she barreling to the car as the zoo has only been open for 20 minutes? They’ve missed his quest to be one with the animals, at any cost. They fail to see my ridiculous attempts to reason while he strikes me in the face. They can’t see me trying to positively parent with all my strength and bite my tongue so hard it bleeds.

But, at the end of the day, I have to know it’s alright. As I sigh a deep breath I can’t help but thank how grateful I am that we can return later this week to the zoo, and try this all again. Because in the end, we are blessed to try at all, even when it ‘s tough to see in the moment.

 

cropped-img_3521