Tag Archives: toddler

Tips to Choosing Kids’ Classes

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You’re at the park pushing your baby on the swing. The mom next to you with a baby who looks similar in age smiles. You smile back. She asks your child’s age. She mentions her son is just a few weeks older than your daughter. A familiar conversation ensues in which you bounce back and forth between bottles, naps, separation anxiety – all of the usual suspects. Then the question pops up that never fails: “What classes is she enrolled in?”

When we were in our teens it was “Where do you go to school?”, our 20’s was “What bar did you go to last night?” and for parents it is “Where does your baby take classes?” or “Where does your child go to preschool?”. As a maternity consultant, I get asked this question a lot. People want advice on the best facilities. Some moms believe classes are the gateway to Harvard. Others choose to opt out of them all together and find free, fun city activities. I see both sides. As a working mom away from her children eight hours a day, I wanted them to have a consistent routine of activity. Although I felt classes were important, I aimed for quality over quantity.

Classes are a great way to not only provide social interaction for your child, but for you as well! Being home with a baby/toddler all day can be isolating. Classes provide a structured schedule in the week and get you out of the house. Mommy-and-me classes give you focused one-on-one time with your child without the everyday distractions. In addition, classes foster muscle coordination, music and art appreciation and social development. While I do not feel it is necessary to have your child’s schedule jam-packed with multiple daily activities, I do value providing a few diverse options for older babies and toddlers as well as a preschool or preschool alternative for two & three-year olds. There is a myriad of options for classes across the city. Here are some tips for choosing them:

1. Research the classes in your neighborhood. Use word of mouth first for what your mom friends prefer and then narrow it down by proximity to your home, budget, and schedule.

2. Request a free trial. If you are going to invest over $500 for a semester of classes, make sure you know what you are getting. Try a few out to see what feels right.

3. Choose a class that will not interfere with your child’s nap schedule. For a toddler with two naps, try one in the late morning between the naps. For an older child with one lunchtime nap, aim for morning or late afternoon. For the over-three set, try a preschool program earlier in the day so they are energized.

4. If you are looking for a healthy balance, choosing one gym class and one music class per week is a good start. These build different skills and won’t become too redundant. Some facilities offer longer classes that combine both physical skill-building and art, which is a great way to break it up.

5. Get involved. The best thing about classes is sharing the experience with your baby/child. Play with the instruments, sing the songs, be silly. Before you know it, they will be attending classes or school without you and you will miss it!

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6. Don’t always feel you have to keep up with the Joneses. Your child is not going to be the next Bill Gates because you enrolled them in classes while they were still in the womb. Do what makes the most sense for your family – not just what others tell you to do.

Kidz Central Station is your go-to resource for NYC classes. They make this process a whole lot easier and seamlessly guide you to the perfect class for your child. Here are some other recommendations from a NYC mom of two:

1. NY Kids Club – at 18 months, my son loved their combo class of music, art and gym

NY Kids Club

2. Playtime with Sammie & Tudie – known as “the power couple of the clowning world”, Sammie & Tudie host classes/events all over the city, featuring magic, storytelling, songs, and activity play for ages 1-4 and their prices can’t be beat. Both my children adore them.

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Playtime with Sammie & Tudie

3. Yogi Beans – around 18 months, my son took “Me & My Bean Yoga” at this adorable Upper East Side studio and came home proudly demonstrating downward dog and namaste.

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Yogi Beans

4. The Art Farm in the City – for my son’s first separation program, we chose The Art Farm on the Upper East Side. He thoroughly enjoyed spending two three-hour days there a week with their warm staff, diverse curriculum, and who can turn down playing with farm animals in the city? Their classes and playgroups are excellent as well.

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The Art Farm in the City

Lauren Deneroff is the founder of Wife to Mom Consulting (www.wifetomomconsulting.com), a maternity consulting and baby planning firm in New York City. Wife to Mom Consulting offers services to expectant and new moms such as new parent coaching, registry guidance, nursery design and preparation, baby gear education, and organizational services. Lauren lives in Manhattan with her husband, Joe, and their two children, Brody, 3 & Harper, 1 and is happy to share her consulting and mommy advice on Kidz Buzz!

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Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids

Playing outside every day is good for the body and the mind.  Being outside for playtime has many benefits for children and we listed a few of our favorites here:

  1. Children can see the community they live in.  By going outside to play, children see other people who may be the same or different from them all living in one area.  You can even pack some gloves and a trash bag and pick up trash on your way there and back.  Children feel more included when they helping pitch in.  Of course, never let your child pick up any sharp objects, even with gloves!
  2. Children are encouraged to use their imagination.  With everything made in miniature version, it is fun and healthy for children to use their imagination to create a “cake” by mixing “ingredients” with a “spoon” they found outdoors.  This is actually an early form of problem solving!
  3. Children have the opportunity to exercise.  Everyone, even children need exercise.  While we go to the gym for an hour (more like forty minutes) our kids need room to run and jump and climb and there is no better place than outdoors in your local park!
  4. Children learn social skills.  The park and playground are for everyone, which means children must learn to take turns, wait and play by certain rules.  This is something we can tell our children, but really this all takes practice.  An even better bonus?  There are new and different people every time you go, so your child may have to learn different social adjustments each and every time!
  5. Children learn to try new things.  Remember the first time you went across the monkey bars alone?  This is a great chance your child to feel accomplishment when they master something that was challenging.  Nothing builds self-esteem like real accomplishments.  Just remember, it’s important that your child feels a tad frustration to feel like he/she accomplished something!

So now with a few reasons why being outside is a must, make sure your child gets some time every day to play outside!

By Shannon Drummond, founder of The Play Champs.  The Play Champs offers outdoor classes to build child development in local parks throughout New York City.

5 Classical Pieces to Share with Your Kids

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Listening to music with your kids benefits their development and allows you to connect and communicate with them, even before spoken language is learned! As infants and toddlers, it stimulates their brains, soothes nerves, and inspires creativity. When your children get a bit older, music is particularly helpful with verbal expression, emotional expression and auditory development.

Encourage imaginative thinking by creating music-inspired art or making a storyline to follow the music. For example, in our classes, our students listen to live classical music while drawing with crayons in response to what they hear! You can support verbal and emotional expression by giving your kids a music vocabulary. Begin with simple language to describe musical terms: is the music high or low (pitch), slow or fast (tempo), loud or soft (dynamics) happy or sad (emotion)? Graduate to trying to identify particular instruments and composers.

It’s easy to see why early introduction is so important when you look at all the parts of the brain activated when listening to and playing music:

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Remember: you don’t have to be a musician to introduce classical music to your kids confidently. You just have to love the music you are sharing! Here are my picks for five fantastic must-hear pieces of music to share with your family:

click on the links below each song to listen to and learn more!

1. In the Hall of the Mountain King (Edvard Grieg)

Heavily used in film and television, this song from Norwegian composer Grieg’s Peer Gynt is familiar to lots of non-musicians. The accelerating tempo keeps you listening on the edge of your seat in suspense and is perfect for creating music-inspired art or a storyline!
Featured instruments to listen for: Bassoons, Basses, Cellos, Violins, Clarinets, Cymbals
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

2. Arabesque No. 1 (Claude Debussy)

Debussy’s mesmerizing composition is ideal for relaxation, daydreaming, and naptime. To me, the trickling piano notes sound like a waterfall gently flowing into a babbling stream. Ask your kids to describe the types of nature scenes, animals, and people they imagine when hearing the music.
Featured instrument to listen for: Piano
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

3. Flight of the Bumblebee (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov)

This orchestral interlude from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan is very fast and short- most performances last only about a minute and a half! A great way to use this composition is as a “clean-up” timer. See if your kids can clean up before the music ends.
Featured instruments to listen for: Violins, Flute, Clarinet, Horns
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

4. The Habanera (Georges Bizet)

You’ll easily recognize this aria from Bizet’s opera Carmen– it is one of the most popular and most beautiful of all time. In class, we use the setting of the opera (Seville, Spain) as inspiration and snap castanets and dance flamenco-style in response to the music. Teach your kids some basic flamenco moves- hand clapping, foot stomping, wrist twirling – and get dancing!
Featured instruments to listen for: Strings, Flutes, Horns, Bells, Triangle, Cymbal
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

5. Aquarium (Camille Saint-Saens)

The shimmering glissando in this movement from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals is completely entrancing and calming. It’s one of our favorite classical pieces to play in class! Before listening, ask your kids what they might see in an aquarium. (Fish swimming, sea grass swaying, coral, shiny rocks, bubbles rising, etc.) This is perfect for naptime and creating music-inspired art.
Featured instruments to listen for: Piano, Violins, and Flute
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

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Carina Zimmerman is one of the co-founders of TLB Music, a children’s music studio and indoor playspace located on the Upper East Side. She is also the author of The Bird Feed NYC, TLB’s blog filled with family-friendly music to share, free printables for kids, NYC history, product recommendations, and nostalgic photo collections.

Follow TLB Music on Facebook and Twitter
Follow The Bird Feed NYC on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

 

“Music & The Brain” source

Choosing Books for Newborns, Infants and Toddlers

Books for Newborn through Toddler Stage
There is so much to keep in mind when choosing a book for a baby from the newborn stage, to infant stage, to toddler: What stage is Baby at in terms of his visual perception? What is he doing motor skills wise? How long is his attention span? As a children’s book editor and writer, I felt pretty well-prepared when it came to finding books for my own baby. But, despite my unique background, I still struggled with finding just the right books. Here are some of my top picks for Baby from newborn to toddler, based on my previous experience in the professional side of children’s book publishing coupled with my “real-world” experience:

Newborn to 6 months:
When my son was just a week old, he was very far from being ready for a chapter from Ulysses, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate being read to. I knew that newborns love hearing the sound of their mothers’ voices but still, it felt pretty awkward in practice. Over the weeks, I tried to pick books that had the high contrast patterns, bright, primary colors, or black and white images that I knew babies at this stage would prefer. Fun fact: Newborns also like looking at human faces. Here are some of my favorites for the very, very earliest readers:

Books for Newborns to Toddlers

  • Mrs. Mustard’s Baby Faces by Jane Watternburg
  • Baby: Faces! (Baby Chunky Board Books) by DK
  • Black on White by Tana Hoban
  • Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

Infant: 6 months to a year:
At this time, my son was reaching out to touch things that looked interesting to him, which is why touch-and-feel books were fun to read. He also enjoyed the element of surprise that lift-the-flap books deliver. Still, his attention span was pretty low, so I made sure to choose shorter books with simple text and a good rhythm or rhyme to it. I also liked reading him books that had cute, lovable characters; books that addressed topics that are familiar (such as bed time), or that were fun to read out loud and that sound silly.
Books for Newborns Through Toddlers

  • Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz
  • Pat the Bunny Touch and Feel by Dorathy Kunhardt
  • Goodnight Moon Board Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
  • Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
  • Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin and Randy Travis

One Year Old
By his first birthday, my “little man” was starting to put pictures together with the words that describe them and vice versa, so I read him books that contained images of objects that he encountered every day. Here is where simple, brightly colored books with photographic images came in. He gravitated towards books about farm animals, pets, images of toys (ball, bike, doll), and cars. Sturdy books with tactile elements like sliders or pull tabs were also good for this age as his motor skills became more developed. I learned the hard way to avoid pop up books or thin lift-the-flap books as children at this age (like my boy) tend to wreck them at the first reading. Books that talk about emotions were good for this age as well. And, as my son got a little older, books where he got to come up with the answers himself.

Books for Newborns to Toddlers

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Slide and Find by Eric Carle
  • Baby Touch and Feel Puppy Love (Priddy Books)
  • Yawn by Sally Simes
  • Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
  • Peek a Who? by Nina Laden
  • My Big Animal Book (My Big Board Books) by Roger Priddy

After a Year…
As my son nears his second birthday, his book choices really run the gamut. He still reaches for some of his favorite baby books and really enjoys books with tactile elements (especially ones that he can rip out!). But I try to follow his lead. Since he loves talking about cars and trucks I have bought him books featuring cars and trucks. He also is really into our dog and dogs on the street, so I buy him books about dogs as well. It’s fun to take him to bookstores and to see what catches his eye. Here are our current favorites:

Books for Newborns to Toddlers

  • Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game by Alexis Barad-Cutler (me!)
  • Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
  • I am a Dump Truck by Josephina Hill
  • Lift the Flap Things That Go (Baby Genius)

Good luck building your own library for Baby!
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Alexis Barad-Cutler is the co-founder of Brunchwithmybaby.com: a site that features kid-friendly places to eat, play and explore in New York City. Alexis is a children’s book editor who has ghostwritten over 30 books for children of all ages. Who Are We?: An Animal Guessing Game (Scholastic), is her latest children’s book. She also writes about motherhood on her blog: iampregrs.tumblr.com.

 

 

Roundup: The Best Toys for Kids Turning Two

Like every family home, we have a lot of toys strewn about. Our almost-two-year-old, of course, only plays with a handful of her vast toy collection. Some of her current favourites were given as gifts over a year ago, and are only now becoming an engaging toy for her to play with.

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Thinking of getting a gift for a two-year-old? Try one of the trusty favourites that’s a hit with our toddler.

stroller

Stroller: Ours was sent from an overseas relative, but the brand isn’t important. All of the mini strollers are equally great, and you can even get them in blue.

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Megabloks: These are awesome first builders for toddlers. The Big Building Bag includes a car-type platform for building on and zooming all over the floor. The blocks are the perfect size for toddler hands to manipulate.

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Hape Kitchen: We have a tiny apartment, so found the smallest kitchen possible, this neutral-toned kitchen from Hape. We filled it with similar-looking Hape Play KitchenwareOur toddler loves to make us “tea” in her kitchen, and “stir” up delicious dishes to share with this cute wooden kitchen set.

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Mini Micro Kickboard Scooter: This is our toddler’s early second birthday gift. We chose the Mini Micro version with the additional O-bar handlebar for toddlers. She’s slowly learning to use it around the house.

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Hoohobbers Jnr Director Chair: After making it clear that she wanted her own chair, we scouted around for something that didn’t take up too much room. The result is this great director’s chair that our toddler can fold up herself, and move around the room to wherever she wants to sit. You can even customize it with your child’s name.

Crocodile Creek Ball: Our toddler is now starting to kick and throw the ball.

Cars: We found a great, cheap car set from IKEA that our toddler loves to pull apart and drive all over the apartment.

Maracas: These maracas from Pylones are still a favourite and our toddler loves to “shake, shake, shake” her sillies out.

B. Rrrroll Model Boogie Bus: A gift for her first birthday, our toddler now loves to push the driver in his seat to start the bus engine, and arranges the passengers in the back.

Alphaberry: Your toddler won’t prefer this to your iPhone, but it is engaging and fun, playing the ABC song and saying all of the letters when they’re pressed.

Diddy-Doo-Dah’s Blue Owl Xylophone: The xylophone hammers are now used for actually playing music! We all enjoy this toy together, playing tunes for our toddler and singing simple songs.

Tupperware Shape O Ball: While her puzzle skills are definitely still developing, this toy is helping our toddler recognize shapes. She struggles to work out how to rotate the pieces and doesn’t recognize all the shapes and where they go, but she is drawn to this shape sorter and loves to keep trying to work it out.

By Christine Knight

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Christine Knight is co-founder of Brunchwithmybaby.com, a site featuring kid-friendly places to eat, play and explore in New York City. Catch up with the Brunch With My Baby team on Twitter, Facebook,and Pinterest. Follow Christine on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.