Stages
Toddler
Are you flipping out over this amazing weather? And how perfectly it coincides with MEA?!?Ahhhh! A couple neighbor kids swung by to return a pumpkin of ours that had rolled down into their yard and they were positively triumphant, reporting on a newly renovated park nearby and their plans to see the Lego Ninjago movie and how often they feed the fish at school. We are trying to make the most of this weather. Tomorrow's high is 75, and Sunday looks cooler but sunny -- ideal scarf... more
I love pumpkins! And I love seeing pumpkins amongst my three little pumpkins. Each autumn I delight in these bright gourds just as much as I obsess over peonies every spring. NPR says pumpkins have a nostalgic draw, representing "an idyllic farm life, and the best sort of moral virtue," which sounds about right. So I couldn't resist... more
When it comes to academics, parents today face a ton of pressure! Even before our children are born, we’re encouraged to read to them and expose them to music in utero.Then there are the educational toys required to foster early math, reasoning and motor skills. And the music and movement classes. We must make our kids smart to give them... more
Invented by a Utah dad of twins, Mittyz (for ages 6 and younger) eliminate the struggle of getting kid mittens on and off, thanks to an integrated thumb pocket, a double-pull wrist strap for sealing out snow (plus a quick-release buckle for easy removal) and oversized gauntlets that fit over bulky sleeves.Bonus: They’re 100 percent waterproof and... more
“Good job, Sasha!” enthused a fellow mother at the park as she tailed her preschool-aged daughter up and down the slides. “Great climbing! I’m so proud of you, strong girl!” This was one of the more effusive examples of “positive reinforcement” I’ve witnessed since becoming a parent. But if you spend any time at playgrounds or other kid-... more
Not all families look the same. And yet, in children’s literature families are illustrated relatively rarely with diversity in mind. Mothers, fathers, grandparents and children tend to be uniformly white or portrayed as animals. When looking through the inventory at a bookstore, Minnesota native Norah Barrett Cooper and her husband... more
Eep! We are so excited that Maria and Jane are featured on the cover of the hot-off-the-press October issue of Minnesota Parent.A huge thanks to the talented women who made it possible: photographer Eva Hagel, Graphic Designer Dani Cunningham, Creative Director Valerie Moe and Editor Sarah Jackson. Ted and I love the photo, of... more
Ahhhh! Today is officially the first day of fall. This is me embracing autumn: Give me all the pumpkins, sweaters, hayrides and leaves. And throw in a fox or two for good measure. (If you can knit them into a fair-isle sweater, so much the better.) This season gives me all the feels, and it makes me want to squeeze out every... more
We finally made it out to Como Town to experience its foam party, a new attraction this summer that runs through Labor Day. And oh, did the kids ever love it!The foam parties are free and occur three times a day -- at 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm. They last about 15 minutes. (There's also no admission fee to enter Como Town, though the... more
Q: My son seems to have really flat feet. And he trips a lot. Would special shoes help him?A: A flat foot refers to a condition in which the arch of the foot disappears or diminishes when a person stands. Most often, the arch will reappear if the person is sitting or standing on the tiptoes. Almost all babies and young infants are initially flat... more
Q: I’ve heard it’s OK to give infants Advil and Tylenol at the same time when treating fever. Is this true?A: I get many questions as to how to best administer these medications in combination. The honest answer is that there is no one, single way. Both Advil (ibuprofen) and Tylenol (acetaminophen) work to reduce fever. And, indeed, in... more
Quick, punchy, easy-to-jump-into chapters — penned by Erin Leyba, a family counselor, parenting blogger and mother of three — are the draw for Joy Fixes for Weary Parent: 101 Quick, Research-Based Ideas for Overcoming Stress and Building a Life You Love.“Joy fixes are not about chasing happiness — a temporary pleasure,” Leyba writes. “Rather... more
Mama: One day, when I was dropping Kellan off at daycare, his teacher asked me how I felt about him turning 1 in a few weeks and the upcoming switch to the next-stage daycare room.I looked around the infant classroom that had been his home for the past nine months and it hit me that he was no longer one of the youngest babies in the room: He... more
Throwing a gathering any time soon? This crowd-pleasing recipe is easy to double, and it’s kid friendly, too.Nana’s Homemade Mac and CheeseIngredients ½ pound elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained6 tablespoons butter, divided3 tablespoons flour1 tablespoon dry mustard3 cups milk½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped1 bay leaf½ teaspoon... more
Oh, how we love The Bazillions!The Minneapolis-based kindie-rock band has been getting families’ toes tapping since 2010 with guitar-driven tunes and pitch-perfect harmonies with a touch of twang. (Do they remind anyone else of the Barenaked Ladies?) And now they’ve put out their fourth studio album, Rock-n-Roll Yearbook, just in time to get... more
Is getting enough exercise and eating right on a regular basis really easy for anyone?Add in the enormous feat of carrying and birthing a baby (or even babies!) and it can feel monumentally more challenging. Impossible.As a new parent, you have few #adulting assets — no sleep, no time (relative to your recent past), no money (in many... more
So, just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to change anything about how you live your life, right?I mean, all the stuff you used to do just needs to be done in a way that includes your little cherubs, who — by definition — do nothing but broaden and enrich the experiences you already enjoy.This is especially true in restaurants: You can... more
There's something so nostalgic about the tinny jingle of the ice-cream truck.It is the siren song of summer, of childhood.And since beoming a mom, I've never said no to it. We have plenty of other restrictions, but somehow, it feels wrong to decline the ice-cream truck.It's visited our cul-de-sac several times this summer. Yesterday it... more
We took the kids to Schulze Lake in Eagan, stood at the water’s edge and experienced a magical summer evening opening up before us.  It was one of those nights when you notice the cast of the light and the warmth of the breeze, when you sink your toes into the sand and time slows, when the kids can just be kids…and so can the adults.It felt... more
We took the kids to the Dakota County Fair in Farmington yesterday and had a grand time. I've written before about why we prefer the county-fair scene for toddlers: easy access, smaller crowds, all the food-on-a-stick perks. The Dakota County Fair ends tomorrow, but there are a number of county fairs in Minnesota remaining. The... more
Is there anything better than a fluffy friend? Pets can teach valuable lessons to kids, like the importance of kindness, sharing, responsibilities and even loss. They’re also darn cute. Crack these books open to explore not just the wacky adventures of adorable creatures, but also how kids should act around animals.The Best Days Are Dog DaysA day... more
Q: My young toddler is needle phobic. Help!A: Vaccines are incredibly important for all children. They prevent life-threatening or debilitating infections; decrease illness and comorbid conditions; and challenge our immune systems to weather disease exposure throughout life, regardless of where we might travel.Most vaccines do... more
When we asked Minneapolis mamas, “Do you bribe your kids for certain behaviors?” — the confessions flowed like red wine on a Mama’s Night Out. The answer was a resounding yes! with all sorts of bribery booty involved, ranging from single M&Ms — given out one at time — to straight-up cash. You’ll find no judgment here. We’ve all... more
One morning, when I asked my kid to get himself dressed for school, he immediately asked if he would receive an early birthday present in exchange for this great service. I said no, of course, thinking: Wait, what? After thinking for a second, he retorted sincerely: “But I’m not motivated. How am I supposed to get motivated?”Oh, dear.... more
Since my very first days as a mom, I have enjoyed searching for beautiful little dresses.  Most of the time, my girls are donned in secondhand play clothes. I'm frugal, and they're messy.But for certain occasions, there's something so sweet about putting them in a dress. It feels feminine and timeless. The bonus is they love wearing... more
We had a marvelous time exploring the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis last Saturday.  Perched on the banks of the Mississippi, with the Stone Arch Bridge as the backdrop, this is a bustling market for the whole family. It's open every Saturday through October from 8 am to 1 pm. The girls sampled maple syrup and salami,... more
It’s zucchini season! Also known as summer squash, these green or yellow fruits are available at farmers markets now. Celebrate the season by turning them, skin and all, into kid-friendly tots — a great side for breakfast or dinner.Zucchini totsIngredientsOil or cooking spray1 1/2 zucchini 1 large egg, beaten1/4 medium onion, minced1/4 cup... more
In preparation for writing this month’s column, I spent considerable time skimming articles online about the benefits of preschool.  And the prevailing wisdom seems to be that preschool probably has the biggest positive impact on kids who don’t have the advantage of super-engaged parents. Preschool for those kids is crucial.But for kids with... more
I was folding sleepers for Archie when I did a double take. Those elephants and giraffes, in their light blues and navys, were familiar. Then I pulled up the picture: the first time Maria read to Jane, nearly a month old, the little Eskimo baby with the wild head of hair and sunburn.Sure enough, it was the same sleeper.I headed to Jane's... more
Summer is here! And that means (we hope) you’ll have a little extra time for reading with the kids — at home, at the cabin or in the car.Get started with three, new super-engaging books for babies and toddlers, plus six highly visual books to keep school-aged kids busy with critical-thinking challenges and creative play! Out of the BoxPuppet... more
I recently brought the kids over to my grandma's for a visit. It was heavenly! I'd been meaning to visit for some time, but life, as we so readily justify, gets busy. Finally we seized a rainy afternoon to swing by her cozy West St. Paul home. Stepping into my grandma's house always brings back the fondest childhood memories. ... more
Photo by Tracy WalshSplish splashThe Twin Cities has become Splash Pad Central in recent years, including small neighborhood haunts as well as bigger spaces such as the 1-acre splash pad at Valleyfair’s Soak City waterpark in Shakopee.We especially love the Central Park Interactive Fountain in Maple Grove (pictured above) and the Burnsville Lions... more
Invented by a Nashville schoolteacher to help parents and kids connect more (ideally 30 minutes a day), this Gnome on the Roam set includes a storybook, a journal, a magical-looking stick pen, a miniature suitcase and a 6-inch-tall, ready-to-decorate PVC gnome.A companion app is designed to inspire exploration — and photo taking — for a modern... more
“So, honey, do you want to go to the park now?” Wait: Let’s pause for a moment. Toddlers tend to enjoy going to parks, right? In fact, your toddler (let’s call him Max) this very morning demanded a visit to the park. Of course, you didn’t appreciate his whiny tone, and you reminded him that polite requests can get you far in life. ... more
Ted and I took the kids strawberry picking for their first time, and they had a grand time.We went to Afton Apple Orchard in Hastings, where we pick apples every fall. Their strawberry fields are on a separate, clearly marked lot just east of the main orchard. (We invited the talented Jeff Schad along to photograph the... more
Most kids love juice boxes. But if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, they’re not a great choice. Fortunately, mothers Laurie Ambrose from Chanhassen and Lisa Amundson (a dentist from Woodbury) — sisters who collectively have six kids! — have come up with a cool alternative that’s perfect for families.Their new kidsWATER drink boxes... more
I'm such a sucker for peonies. And for flower crowns.The combination is irresistable. So this morning I crafted a peony crown and took advantage of the June morning light to snap a few pictures. Last year I shared my 3-step tutorial to making super-easy flower crowns, and Moms, now is the season to try your hand at it! Today I... more
Let me start by being totally clear: I’m not pretending to have this all figured out. If I’m honest with you, there have been times when I’ve felt as if I was barely surviving. Certainly, I’ve cried more about my daughter’s life-threatening medical condition than I’ve cried about anything else. She has a rare genetic difference that... more
How do you throw a fairy party? "All you need is a little faith, trust and pixie dust," in the words of Peter Pan.Or, in the case of my daughter's 4th birthday party: tutus, wings and face painting. We rented South Valley Park in Inver Grove Heights for the big day, and the setting alone -- a playground in the woods -- lent the... more
The Minnesota Children's Museum's St. Paul campus (closed since December) will celebrate a $30 million expansion and renovation — including 10 new exhibits and 35 percent more space for visitors — with a free block party on June 17 (advance tickets required for free museum admittance). A Target Free 3rd Sunday on June 18 will... more
You don’t need hand-lettering skills or even a chalkboard to create your own printable, shareable, digital chalkboard posters and prints.You just need Snapsprout, a free iPhone app designed for parents, complete with templates that celebrate everything from birth to those first days of school.    free • snapsproutapp.com more
It started with an innocent Freaky Friday daydream, parenting-columnist style. “Your kids are toddlers now. You should do a guest spot at Toddler Time,” I said to Shannon Keough, Minnesota Parent’s Baby on Board columnist.“And you know babies!” she countered. “Maybe we could trade places for a round?”Well, one thing led to another, and... more
We were about to head into the libary on Thursday evening when the cherry-blossom trees out back beckoned to us, rendering the world pink and perfumed.They were too glorious to ignore, and Archie was snoozing contentedly in his carseat, so we paused our plans and played beneath their branches. It was heavenly.Eventually we headed inside and... more
We spent Friday afternoon at the Minnesota Landsape Arboretum outside Chaska taking in thousands of brilliant tulips. A total of 38,000 bulbs have been planted there, and now is the time to go! The daffodils are also in bloom, and the crabapple trees have blossomed, casting their perfume across the gardens. Throw in a favorable forecast ... more
Wendell Sherman-Strand, 5, of Minneapolis — who vacationed out West with his family of five this past summer — has an extremely rare genetic condition.Wendell was born in 2011 as a healthy baby. After his two-month checkup, his parents Katie Sherman and John Strand headed to northern Minnesota with their toddler, Bjorn, and infant Wendell to spend... more
If you grew up using boxed pancake mix, it might seem fussy to make pancakes from scratch. But once you’ve done it, you’ll see (like we did) how surprisingly easy — and tasty — it can be! You’ll likely save money — and you’ll open the door to all kinds of experimentation, too.When you’re ready to break out of the box rut, try this delicious... more
Last month, many parents were bummed to hear that a beloved longtime kid-shoe purveyor — Massachusetts-based Stride Rite — was closing all of its corporate locations in late April, including the store at Southdale, and outlets in Eagan and Albertville. But we have good news: The locally owned Stride Rite store at Rosedale Center (listed... more
We took our babies to see the farm babies at the Minnesota Zoo, and they were a hit!Watching the black lambs prance around was hysterical. It's almost as if they defy gravity.The goats were Janie's favorite. It costs just 50 cents to feed them -- a memorable experience for a toddler. We all enjoyed seeing the calves and hearing Ted's stories... more
During my daughter’s last hospital stay, I received a tube, a bottle and a few jars of luxury hand cream — lavender-, grapefruit- and musk-scented emollients, in fancy, flowery packaging. It’s a thing. When people want to be supportive during a difficult time, they give you something that smells pretty. I knew about the casseroles, the... more
Wondering about your child’s development is an everyday part of parenting. Is your daughter talking as much as other children her age? Is your son walking or moving around like his friends?It’s common for parents to compare their children to others. But it can be difficult to understand what might be a developmental concern and what might be... more
It’s almost farmers market season.And this insanely colorful, interactive book — from the author of the wonderful Cooking Class for kids — is the perfect companion for little ones, including 100 stickers, 50-plus punch-out paper fruits, veggies and flowers and activities such as mazes, matching games and adorable craft projects.There’s even an eat... more
One of the coolest things about toddler parenting is the constant newness — new milestones, new friends, new foods, new experiences. Particularly satisfying is finding a wonderful new place to explore. If you haven’t already, take a trip to Jensen Lake in Eagan. For the sake of discussing the toddler-friendly nature of this location... more
I can't think of a more idyllic backdrop for an Easter egg hunt than the James J. Hill House. This spring the historic Gilded Age mansion is hosting two egg hunts on the front lawn. We attended the April 9 event; the second one will be on Saturday, April 15 from 10 to 11 am. (Register here. Cost is $8 per person, and each child must be... more
Learning how to be a good friend isn’t easy. Sharing and saying sorry sincerely (when you’ve made a mistake) are required skills. And — as these new stories show — children must also learn empathy, patience, loyalty, inclusiveness and even the ability to look past prejudice and the intimidation of bullies.My Friend MaggieThis tale of friendship... more
Q: I keep hearing about pinworms: How will we know if our kid gets them?A: Many aspects of pinworms — how to find them and how they’re spread — are very unpleasant. Fortunately, pinworms usually aren’t a serious health issue. These creatures are small, thin worms that live in the intestinal tract. When an adult worm is ready to lay eggs, she... more
Q: Who should parents call if they suspect abuse at daycare?A: If you ever have any concerns that your child has been abused or neglected by a caregiver, contact your child’s doctor right away for advice on what to do next. This may involve an immediate office visit. If the issue is something that goes beyond what a doctor’s office can handle —... more
Yay! Target has launched a new collection of whimsical toddler apparel inspired by the most famous works of Dr. Seuss.Graphic tops, including some sold with matching pants, feature famous quotes and characters and bright patterns, too.Look also for an early reader biography — Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler — geared toward ages 4 to 8.$8.99 and up •... more
It’s the big “but …” of toddlerhood. As in, “This would be the best age, but ...” or “He’s such a sweet kid, but …”If there’s one thing that universally challenges toddler parents, it’s tantrums. Much like earthquakes, they vary in style, duration, intensity and frequency. Between the ages of 1 and 3, these fits are as certain as a fault line... more
The best word to describe our adjustment to life with three kids -- all of whom are under age 4 -- is juggle. It's been a juggle. An ongoing education in accepting the good-enough. It's OK if the girls go to bed one night without brushing their teeth. In fact, one night after Archie was born, we didn't even bother with pajamas. They... more
Jennifer, a mom of two, was standing at the kitchen counter, slicing an apple for her son, Michael, when she heard a horrendous banging noise coming from the other side of the room. She immediately turned around to see her son smashing the door of the refrigerator with a baseball bat.“Stop! Stop!” she screamed as she wrestled the bat away... more
Bring on the next MasterChef Junior! Sized just right for little hands, this 17-piece intro-to-baking box was a hit during our annual Toy Test.But this gift set isn’t just a toy. All the tools and pieces are designed for real cooking and repeat use.Though technically recommended for ages 3 and older, it seems like a good fit (with supervision) for... more
As promised in last month’s issue, Dad’s Night Out (DNO) follows Mom’s Night Out (MNO).I really want to make it clear: You dads need to do this! Though it’s sometimes implied that new fathers inherently have more freedom (you don’t lease your womb to occupants, you don’t breastfeed), you, too, need to remember what it’s like to be autonomous... more
The Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul, rather than reopening in mid-April as planned, will welcome visitors in June, due to a logistical delay in its multi-million-dollar renovations.The contractor hired to fabricate the parts of The Scramble — the museum’s new four-story climbing adventure, featuring two towers, a spiral slide and a netted... more
Stay-at-home moms — and veterans — often face huge challenges when trying to return to the workforce. Many employers mistakenly view them as unemployable or undesirable because of their so-called employment gaps. But the Minneapolis office of the IT-consulting firm York Solutions has successfully launched a new initiative — called... more
Peppa Pig made the perfect theme for Jane's second birthday party. It's a favorite of Janie's -- and of mine. The British show is refreshingly simple. I think the girls find comfort in its simplicity, its oft-played melody and tidy structure. The plotlines are fun with relatable family dynamics, including some subtle, gentle shots at... more
Parents are unwittingly putting children in increased danger because of common car seat mistakes. Here's how to keep your favorite tiny passengers safe.Installation rules, manufacturer regulations, confusing gadgetry and ever-evolving laws that vary by age — trying to understand car seat safety can feel like falling blindly into a black hole.This... more
One More Tickle!This new Guess How Much I Love You puppet board book stole our hearts! Its built-into-the-book Nutbrown Hare is super-soft and features floppy ears and little pockets that allow parents to move his head and paws around in realistic, animated ways. “Are you ticklish?” asks Big Nutbrown Hare. “Can I tickle your ears and see?”$17.99... more
It's not too soon to start searching for the perfect Easter dress for your little girl! In a crowded market, these are the stand-outs.For more than a century, Feltman Brothers has delivered the most exquisite classic children's clothing. Theirs are the heirloom pieces you hand down generation to generation. And Feltman's new bouquet... more
Long before I'd considered the date, the venue, the menu or theme for my daughter's second-birthday party, I determined her outfit.Priorities, people. Therese McInally's pinafores, which are sold on her Cottontail Etsy site and were featured in my fall fashion round-up, have long impressed me. What's more, she is a delight to deal with -- and... more
Introducing Smiling Button dresses -- frocks as cute as the name! There's something about these dresses that feels different, like they're designed to be played in and enjoyed, not just unveiled for formal occasions. As the website notes: "We create everyday dresses for little girls that make as much sense for the playground as they do for... more
During my son’s earlier years, I wasn’t a confident parent. And the problem was wildly exacerbated during daycare drop-offs. Instead of emitting calm during the hand-off, I would respond to my son’s every effort to resist our separation.Oh, honey, you don’t want me to leave? How about one more hug? OK: How about I sit here for a bit and play... more
Help your kids build concentration and focus with this 32-card memory game that you can customize with 16 personal photos.We love the retro packaging and card designs. (What a cool gift idea for friends or family!)Bonus: All of Paper Culture’s products are made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper — and every order results in the planting... more
Toddler Mom, the time has come to get out of the house. Wait. Let’s reorganize that thought: Out of the house, without child, showered and off to a destination other than Target, the gym, the indoor playground or work. Though you may have previously dabbled in the tradition of a good old Mom’s Night Out — MNO, as the increasingly acronym... more
Q: What could cause dark under-eye circles in my toddler?A: The area under eyes has thin and delicate skin, which often will easily show the capillary bed, which can show up in the form of dark, under-eye circles. Among young children, the most common cause is nasal congestion. This can be caused by allergies, smoke exposure, a recent upper-... more
Q: My 3-year-old has insanely smelly feet. Help! A: Ah, one of the unforgettable aromas of childhood.Yes, kids have sweaty feet — and sweaty bodies — for a good part of the day. They’re constantly in motion, frequently breaking into sprints or suddenly wrestling with friends, often exercising on and off all day long. From a... more
Q: Are all types of child-care centers required to accept children with disabilities? A: Yes. The Minnesota Human Rights Act requires that all public accommodations, such as child-care centers, provide access to their services to individuals with disabilities. Are child-care centers required to accept all children with disabilities?No.... more
Early mornings, sleep-deprived parents, a time crunch and, of course, emotional youngsters, desperate for their parents’ attention. It’s the perfect storm for catastrophe. And yet, that’s when one of the toughest parts of the day looms — the dreaded daycare drop-off. Day after day, we peel away our sobbing offspring and we’re left with a... more
Sure, spring is technically “around the corner,” but in Minnesota, our reprieve from the cold usually comes not in March or April, but as late as June!Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on indoor play spaces for kids in the Twin Cities — including more than two dozen venues — at mnparent.com/indoor.Two new additions to our list include... more
Little kids don’t need anything fancy to get interested in reading. They require only a willing parent and a book or two.But sometimes literary bells and whistles — such as those included with the books here — can be just the thing to encourage kids to use their imaginations, engage in creative play and maybe even go the heck to sleep!  Train... more
There’s regular PlayDoh (playdoh.com) and homemade play dough (tinyurl.com/playdough-mn). And now there’s Eco-Dough, an all-natural play dough made with plant, fruit and vegetable extracts.It’s lightly scented with essential oils (which keep the dough soft and pliable), so your hands smell and feel great — and slightly moisturized — when you’re... more
I will try one new food every single day. Willingly. Even cauliflower. I will stop saying the word “mine” and will replace it with, “yours.” Sharing is caring.I will stop suggesting that my baby brother be given away, sent back, sold to the pet store or physically harmed.I will resist the urge to criticize my father’s cooking in manners that... more
Are you looking for some children’s music that won’t drive you crazy? Check out the latest albums from an array of children’s artists who all offer — in their own ways — silliness to attract and engage kids, but also enough wry humor and up-tempo beats to charm their parents. Puns, jokes-so-bad-they’re-good, energetic rhythms and even... more
Q: Should twins sleep in separate bedrooms?A: Sleeping arrangements for your children is really a matter of what works best for your family. There’s no compelling need for twins to have separate bedrooms, nor do they automatically do best if they’re in the same room, especially when they’re very young. However, keep in mind that, after about... more
It’s tempting to hibernate during a frigid Minnesota winter, but your tots have just as much energy to burn now as ever.Making the most of the season, however, requires a bit of creative thinking — not to mention a lot of winter wear. I was reminded of this recently when I helped my young daughters run their very own hot cocoa stand. (Yes,... more
There's something about Christmas that invites nostalgia -- tales of years past, faded photographs and images that remain timeless. The idea of an old-school Christmas feels refreshing as we become increasingly high-tech. If you're looking to visually counter our screen-addiction this holiday season, opt for the vintage -- and let your... more
During research for our annual Minnesota Parent Toy Test, we came across a local company — DoodleTown Toys of Big Lake, established in 1972 — that produces beautiful, handcrafted wooden toys.Michael and Linda Poisson use northern white pine to create their toys, which feature signature smooth edges thanks to painstaking sanding and routing.We... more
Imagine sitting at a cozy corner table, sipping on a latte and eating fresh crepes and fruit. You’re happy. You’re relaxed. You’ve got free high-speed Internet. Now imagine your kids are there with you. Hold up. The fantasy isn’t ruined! You’re still in your happy place. That’s because your kids are occupied.They’re using their... more
Based on reviews, recommendations and a few personal favorites, this comprehensive holiday gift guide should cover everyone on your list!Chief criteria for adult gifts was either practicality -- something super useful -- or comfort, for the person who has everything but could use a little R&R. Kid gifts were selected for their fun and... more
You’ve heard of The Elf on the Shelf. The 2004 children’s book and doll set has become a beloved, playful tradition among many families. It’s also caused backlash from parents who dislike the concept of a nanny-state elf who spies on kids and evaluates their behavior for gift worthiness.Well, what if you could have the playfulness of an annual... more
We survived!In fact, the big day went as well as I possibly could've hoped.All year, Nov. 26 loomed large on our calendar. It would be the biggest day of our year, the wedding of my husband's younger brother. Much as I looked forward to this occasion, I also took a deep inhale: We're talking an out-of-state wedding where my husband would be... more
I recently took a walk around Como Lake in opposition of typical traffic flow.Not only did I see the knockout fall colors from another angle, but I also looked upon more faces. Intrigued, I actually made an effort to smile and nod — maybe say hello — to each and every person (and dog) I passed.Even if I felt shy, even if the passerby looked... more
Grab your aspiring astronomer and head outside: There's a supermoon! Because the moon's orbit has an elliptical shape, sometimes it is closer to Earth than other times. Astronomers call the closest-to-Earth moment the perigee. And what makes Nov. 14 special is that the moon "becomes full within about two hours of perigee -- arguably making it... more
Parenting can be infinitely frustrating. It’s a grind that can suck the life out of even the most playful of parents.How can you bring back some of that magic?The answer, according to two Minneapolis moms, may be improv parentings classes, play days and camps. Improv Parenting is the brainchild of mother-of-three Keren Gudeman, an educator... more
I’m so excited about all the awesome toys — and toy-related ideas — we’re spotlighting this month in our annual Toy Issue!Wait. What?You don’t want more toys? You don’t like how your carpet/coffee table/entire existence has disappeared under a thick layer of giant playgyms/mats/bouncers/vibrating chairs, noisemakers and Megabloks? Or maybe it’s... more
Ages 0–3Picture BooksGiraffes Can’t Danceby Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-ReesMeet Gerald, a giraffe who desperately wants to dance, but can’t quite get his long, wobbly legs to cooperate. With perseverance and a little encouragement from a new friend, Gerald succeeds. Gerald’s story will inspire your kids to try, try again, and make their dreams... more
Four years ago on Election Day I brought my 9-month-old daughter with me to the polls. She obviously doesn't remember it, but I hope she'll remember coming to vote with me today.Personalizing Election Day I knew I'd get an iconic "I Voted" sticker after I feeding my ballot into the machine, but I didn't know if they'd give a sticker to my almost-... more
Great places to bring your kids when the weather is cold and the wiggles need to get out!Adventure Peak in Edinborough Park, EdinaAirMaxx, Eden PrairieBig Thrill Factory, MinnetonkaBrickmania Toyworks, MinneapolisBrown Family Adventure Park, Ham LakeEagle's Nest, New BrightonGood Times Park, EaganInnerActive, Minnetonka – NEW!Jump City,... more
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE our annual Toy Issue. My kiddos have participated in the official Minnesota Parent Toy Test, and I even rely on the results for holiday ideas. I’ve also genuinely loved checking out all the cool new toy favorites — old and new — with my kids, neighbors, nieces and nephews during each stage of childhood. But the... more
I’ve combed lookbooks and mined the web. It’s time to present my favorite fall fashion for little ones!We’re talking fair-isle foxes, mouse mittens and pleated pinafores! Whether you’re heading to the pumpkin patch or snapping a photo for the Christmas card, there’s no better season to don your beautiful children in beautiful clothes. This fall it... more
Summer may be considered prime picnic season, but Minnesotans know that autumn offers the most glorious opportunity to eat al fresco. If you're looking to make a meaningful memory as a family (and snag a gorgeous photo) without much fuss, now is the time to grab a blanket, fill a basket and search for a bright maple. They're at their peak... more
Q: My daughter is 2 years old and has a bit of a lisp. Does she need a speech therapist?A: Articulation concerns are common among parents. Acquisition of language sounds is expected along a continuum based on age, placement of tongue, generation of sound location and coordination. There’s also quite a range of anticipated “normal” ages for kids to... more
The single-serving juice box (or milk box) is the ultimate on-the-go toddler beverage — until your little one promptly squeezes the liquid right out of it, turning its straw into a terribly interesting fountain.MyDrinky — a rigid plastic, dual-handled, two-piece case — was designed to prevent such spills.Our Minnesota Parent test toddler (age 3)... more
By now you likely feel over-saturated with all the election hullaballoo — the commercials, the emails, the Facebook soapboxing, perhaps a tense conversation or two at the dinner table. We’re almost there. It’s almost over.While this probably isn’t your first election, it might be your first major election as a parent — as a toddler parent.... more
“Lila is already reading!”“Jayden started reading when he was 3 years old.”“Jesse has been reading chapter books since kindergarten.”As a licensed reading specialist and the parent of a kindergartner, I can’t help but notice the push for children to start reading before kindergarten.What once was rare — and only for children who were... more
I've been on pumpkin look-out for several weeks now, and we happened to be at our local Cub the day the pumpkins arrived out front. I couldn't resist. I don't know why pumpkins make me so happy, but they do. I let Maria make a selection. She quickly zeroed in on a big pumpkin covered in warts. The only one with warts.In a sea of... more
There is no way I could ever repay my parents for all they have done for my children. Yet every time Ted and I drop the kids off and head out, they make it seem as if we are doing them the favor.Honestly, I’m behind by about 1.3 million thank-yous. Life just keeps rolling, and I try to file them all away in my mind to properly address one day –... more
Few phrases excite me more than "city-wide garage sale."And tomorrow is the opening day of Inver Grove Heights' three-day city-wide sales, which run from Thursday, Aug. 25 to Saturday, Aug. 27.Neon signs are starting to crop up at intersections, and my heart is aflutter. I picked up the $1 directory outlining the 47 participating sales -- a... more
Skip the frozen-section nuggets made with unpronounceable ingredients and try this down-home recipe.Instead of using an egg wash to adhere the breading, this recipe relies on — oh, yes — melted butter, along with Parmesan cheese and a few fairly common pantry items.It’s so simple, you can make it with the kids.And you’ll actually want to eat them... more
It’s never too early to read with your baby!In fact, early childhood development experts recommend reading to children from birth — at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week (read20.org).Here are some of our favorite books for babies. Find reading lists for all age groups (including age 0 to 12 months) at readingfoundation.org.Vegetables and... more
As they say, a cliche is a cliche because it’s rooted in truth. The phrases roll off our tongues freely because they’re (Exhibit A) lit-er-ally a part of the modern American vernacular. But don’t you get tired of what’s commonly said about you, Mama?I do. Let’s start with wine In the last five years or so, wine has unfortunately... more
Date night, anyone? Girls’ night? Guys’ night? How about just a little “you” time?Drop N’ Shop — an entertainment center for children — is now open at the Mall of America and offering drop-in childcare for ages 6 weeks to 12 years.Located on Level 3 at Sears Court, the facility offers activities such as Zumba and yoga for kids, arts and crafts,... more
We just returned from the Dakota County Fair in Farmington, which has become a tradition for our family -- just as it was for my parents, who took my siblings and me every year when we were young. The beauty of the county-fair scene is the ease and access -- simpler parking, smaller crowds, plenty of furry friends and fried foods. The 4-H... more
The email arrived in all caps: "YOU NEED THIS FOR MARIA." And then, simply, this link.My fashionable friend Mollie is always scouring the interwebs for the best of the best, and she is kind enough to include toddler apparel on my behalf. When I spotted the darling suit, I couldn't resist its charms. Maria was even more delighted. I... more
Some days you have to stop and let the kids play in the rain. For us, this morning was one of those days. Maria showed Jane the ropes. She studied Big Sister's technique. Reached for Big Sister's hand. And soon was off to the races! Then we met up with Cousin and Grandma for more rainy fun. (Grandma never let a little rain... more
There are so many rites of passage to behold as we guide our littles through childhood: skinned knees and bad dreams. Barf and birthday parties.Toddler Parent, you may find it curious — even alarming — that your favorite toddler columnist would loosely equate the joy of a birthday party with barf.Oh, but be certain, that choice was intentional.Don... more
Q: My 2-year-old likes to play alone when other kids are around. Why? A: It’s normal for a 2-year-old to engage in solitary play. Solitary play is the first stage of play development.Children will explore learning and interacting with toys on their own or with caregivers, and at their own pace.They’re like little... more
Q: Our daughter, 3, is waking up terrified in the middle of the night. Help! A: Night terrors are sleep disruptions that typically occur a few hours after kids fall asleep during transitions between sleep phases. This is different than nightmares, which arise during the dream stages of sleep, late into the night or in the early... more
Mosquito bites are the worst!Fortunately, we’ve found a new way to ease kids’ irritation and discomfort: Oilogic’s Bug Bites & Itches Essential Oil Roll-On is made with a blend of lavender, tea tree, lemon, citronella, spearmint and chamomile oils.It’s fragrant, soothing and safe for... more
A recent morning after a harsh storm, I came outside to find a huge branch had fallen out of a tree and into our yard.By “huge branch,” I mean it was thicker than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s thigh and longer than a minivan. Somehow, we’d all slept through the massive snap and crash it surely made. (Those sounds must’ve blended in with all the... more
Adoption is a wonderful way to welcome a child into a family, rich with a unique set of joys and challenges.Though not initiated by pregnancy, labor and birth, the start of the parent-child relationship is a birth of sorts — the birth of a new life together.Toddler adoption is an entirely different situation — also filled with specific triumphs... more
We're in the middle of a heat wave in Minnesota, and that means hot cars. Hot cars also mean hot car seats. Today I'd like to share a trick I figured out to help keep your little one's car seat (especially the buckles) from getting too hot. The idea came to me a couple weeks ago, and in the heat this past Wednesday I finally tested it out.... more
When I talked to Maria about her third-birthday party, a theme immediately emerged: She wanted a mermaid party. For an almost-3-year-old, the concept feels as obvious as it is simply put, “a mermaid party.” No explanation needed.Mermaids have captured Maria’s imagination. We’re not just talking “Little Mermaid.” We read a variety of mermaid books... more
Flower crowns are having a moment.Suri Cruise, the 10-year-old daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, recently appeared in her mom's Instagram feed sporting a dainty purple-and-yellow flower crown.Tiffani Thiessen (better known as Kelly Kapowski) decked out her 5-year-old daughter and a group of frocked friends in flower crowns this spring for a... more
I’ve become that mom who cannot stop talking about her kids. It’s gotten so obnoxious I’ve even begun meetings and presentations by whipping out photos. They’re just so important to me, so central to who I am. If you don’t know about them, you don’t really know me.I am passionate about my career as a writer. But becoming a mom has fulfilled... more
Mother of two Asha Dornfest started her ParentHacks.com blog in 2005.Her recent book of the same name features 134 whimsically illustrated ingenious ideas for simplifying life with kids, such as:Strap your baby into a forward-facing carrier when you trim his or her fingernails.Put the ketchup under the hotdog to minimize mess.At the beach? Stash... more
Q: Our son was stung on his finger by a bee and his whole hand became swollen. Will his next sting be worse or cause an allergic reaction?A: Local reactions to bee stings — redness, swelling, pain and itching — are very common in children.The good news is that previously stung kids aren’t likely to have worse reactions the next time... more
1. Cut a watermelon in half and eat immediately with spoons. 2. Master somersaults.3. Have a teddy bear picnic at Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater.4. Take in a matinee with real butter popcorn at the Riverview Theater. Or hit the cheap seats in Hopkins.5. Make your own popsicles.6. Pajama day, all day.7. Make your own play dough.8. Lewis... more
Q: What's the best way to treat a toddler’s sunburn? Ouch!A: Sunburns are especially unpleasant for toddlers because they don’t understand the cause of the pain. Prevention, of course, is really the most important step to take. Sun blocks with an SPF of 30 or higher are important to use frequently, even on cloudy days if your child is going... more
At some point, it happens to all parents. Your baby spits up all over in the crib. Or your toddler gets sick and throws up in bed. Or your recently-potty-trained preschooler has an accident while sleeping. When these things happen in the middle of the night, they're even more difficult to deal with. You need to clean up the mess as well... more
Summer on the North Coast brings with it that mixed blessing of longer days for parents: Yes, it means more daylight for outdoor fun, but it also means putting the kids to bed well before the sun goes down. Perhaps you can lull your little one to sleep — or at least while away the hours — with one of these new-in-2016 sleep-adventure stories.They’... more
Q: My daughter gets so many ear infections. How do we know if she should get tubes?A: Thank you for this question! Frequent ear infections are common for many families. This is a problem that involves persistent fluid and/ or infection in what is called the middle-ear cavity — normally a very small, air-filled space behind the... more
Now that I’m a few years out of the woods, it’s pretty easy to wax nostalgic about the toddler years.I even get a little jealous when I hear about someone’s early morning toddler dance parties (even if they occur at 5 a.m. sharp) or when I see a heavy-lidded dad pushing a stroller to the park on a Sunday morning when any reasonable person would be... more
The whole shebang starts during your first brave trip to the grocery store, solo, with a 2-week-old: You're rocking a look I might gently call postpartum chic (not in PJs) meets zombie apocalypse (green-grey circles under your eyes, paper-thin pasty skin, hormonally imbalanced and wild-eyed with hunger). A pack of evil grannies clucks... more
When I think about traveling with small children, I’m often reminded of the title of a David Foster Wallace book — A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Travel with kids can be tough. It can be frustrating. It can also be fun and entertaining if you approach the trip with the right mindset: “I’m open to change and I can see the humor in... more
Under the federal law, all public pools and spas must have a variety of anti-entrapment systems installed.But not every pool or hot tub is public and not every pool is compliant with the law, which was named after a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by the suction from a hot-tub drain.Here’s what you need to know, courtesy... more
Q: We think our son is a problem eater (versus just a picky eater) because he eats only 10 foods — at age 2! What can we do to help him?A: You are not alone, despite almost all parents feeling like they are. Feeding challenges in children are common and affect approximately 20 percent of kids. The majority of this 20 percent are picky eaters.... more
In Minnesota, we do a great job of making the most of winter, but we absolutely live for the immense relief at the end of our signature lengthy deep freeze. For parents of littles, there’s extra joy in the shift from bouncing off the walls to running barefoot and carefree through the fresh-cut grass. You’ve spent the winter months holed up,... more
Our family vacation was off to a pretty good start. We were chanting:Seuss is on the loose! Seuss is on the loose! Seuss is on the loose! All before we received our requisite tropical sunburns, island braids and Ron Jon T-shirts, we joined in this mantra with an enthusiastic group of fellow Carnival Cruise passengers, marching not... more
May is an ideal time to start thinking about getting some dates for summer family adventures on the calendar.Though it can be fun to be spontaneous when it comes to travel, the reality is that traveling as a family takes some work in terms of forethought and planning: When will you take time off from work? What do you want to do? Where will the... more
When expecting our first child, we knew we were going to need a high chair, but we didn't know which one to choose. Our kitchen is pretty small, so we definitely didn't have space for a freestanding high chair — they seemed too big to me anyway. We agreed getting a high chair that straps onto a regular chair made the most sense. When... more
Does your kids’ dress-up box need refreshing? We recommend these sturdy, wearable Props in a Box ($74.99), available in themes such as The Princess & The Chef, The Dinosaur & The Pirate, The Astronaut & The Fisherman and The Doctor & The Farmer. Kids can use the included props and backdrop with each set to create theatrical... more
By now you’ve probably come to know your pediatrician or family doctor fairly well. There are — after all — nine well visits between birth and the third birthday. And that’s to say nothing of the mysterious rashes, first colds, earaches and bumped heads. I spoke with local pediatrician Ilene Moore of Southside Medical Clinic in Minneapolis... more
If you’re parenting or expecting multiples, Welcome Baby Care needs you! Birth rates for multiples are increasing, and the Edina-based postpartum doula agency wants to learn from local parents about their needs. Parents or expecting parents of multiples are invited to share their most pressing challenges in a 23-question online survey. ... more
Q: Your advice in the November issue — recommending that parents generally avoid multivitamins for their kids (mnparent.com/vita-mn) — prompted me to write. I believe the American Academy of Pediatrics supports the recommendation of a daily supplement of vitamin D. I didn’t see this mentioned in your article. Do you happen to know what... more
Q: How often do toddlers need baths? We don’t want our kid’s skin to dry out!A: Bathing a couple times a week may be sufficient for toddlers if they have days where they manage to stay relatively clean. But it really depends on how active toddlers are and how dirty they become each day. One factor may be if they’re still in... more
Sundogs A to ZKay Elliott of Richfield came out with her first children’s book, Sundogs: Journey to the Great Windmill, in 2012, appealing to young readers with dogs of many vibrant colors (dedicated to all the canines she’s called her own). When Elliott learned she would become a grandmother for the first time, she decided to write a board book... more
You know your kid says outlandish and hilarious things all the time, right? But how can you capture those cute quotes beyond the occasional Tweet or Facebook post? Check out Milestone Mini Cards: These 100 small cards ($20), which come in a simple keepsake box, could be just the thing to motivate you.  more
Said the gal who writes a parenting column: “What you REALLY need to know about parenting cannot be found in a book, blog or magazine.” If you follow me here at Toddler Time, you know I encourage readers to parent individualistically. We all have different levels of patience, different ideas about how long to breastfeed, different backgrounds... more
Tired of your kid banging her head into the metal bath fixture?The Bath Spout Extender and Cover by Aqueduck ($12.99), invented by a mom, attaches to nearly any bathtub faucet, creating a curved spout that directs the running water onto a child’s head, shoulders and back — without the risk of a head bump.   more
You’ve moved across country — or even just across town — or changed jobs, and now the childcare program your kid’s been enjoying (practically since birth) has become inconvenient or just plain impossible. Maybe you’re just not happy with the care your child’s getting, and it’s time to make a change. No matter why you’re making the switch... more
When my daughter was 2, she developed a fascination with snowmen. We lived in New York at the time and it was an unseasonably warm winter. We weren’t making any actual snowmen, and when we did they weren’t to her liking. She favored round, perfect snowmen drawn on paper, and she asked me to draw them every day. “Draw snowman with dog,... more
Q: How many words should a normal 2-year-old be using?A:  2-year-old should have two to three dozen words that are generally easy to understand.  To start, it’s helpful to think about language in two parts: The first is receptive language: Does your toddler seem to understand what you’re saying? This part generally develops first. If he... more
Did you know that many household products — upholstered furniture, mattresses and children’s products, especially those containing foam (such as changing table pads and car seats) — can contain toxic flame-retardants?Once thought to slow the spread of fire, flame retardants have proven to be ineffective while also posing serious human health risks... more
I wrote about childcare in a previous column — when to start looking for it (ideally about five years before you get pregnant or adopt your child), why you need it (so you can get work done) and how you should feel about it (not guilty).What strikes me now is how utilitarian this view is. And I don’t think it’s just me; when I talk to other... more
Q: Do you ever recommend probiotics for children?A: Probiotics may benefit kids in a number of ways, but research still needs to be done to understand exactly how they can be most beneficial.The intestinal tract contains millions of microorganisms — primarily bacteria and fungi (yeast). These microorganisms are generally considered either good... more
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends coughing and sneezing into the upper sleeve to help stop germs from spreading.For a kid with a major cold, that’s a lot of sleeve slime. Enter the Sneeve — a disposable, anti-microbial sleeve designed to absorb the yucky stuff ($6.99 for a box of 7).Sized for ages 3 to 8, the stretchy,... more
Minnesota winters can be harsh, sure. But brrrrrr is our thing: We can take pride in our resilience and the fact that we have real seasons here. Honestly, who wants to live in California where it’s 70 degrees every day? (Wait, don’t answer that.) OK, so how can we teach our kids to enjoy and embrace the crisp, clean air of winter? Check out these... more
Without hesitation, you’d take your child to the emergency room for a broken arm, the dentist for a cavity, the pediatrician for a sore throat.But what do you do when your child suffers the death of a loved one, bullying at school or low self-esteem? What happens when you learn that your child is hurting other kids at day care, refusing to... more
Q: Do we need a car seat for our 1-year-old on an airplane?A: Airline travel with young children is no easy task. The planning checklist often includes items needed to ensure adequate entertainment, food, diapering and clothing changes and comfort or transitional objects. But the most fundamental planning must start when purchasing... more
Gabriel is a bright, adorable 5-year-old. He runs around the park, playing on the equipment, occasionally checking in with his mom, even trying, when urged, to include his 3-year-old sister, Cecilia, in the park’s cool climbing structure. “It’s his favorite,” said his mom, Tara Baker of Eagan.Things weren’t always this carefree for Gabriel.It... more
There are few things as magical as experiencing falling snow through a child’s eyes — and Minnesota winters (usually) give us many opportunities to enjoy plenty of snowflakes. And that’s a good thing: It’s important for families to get outside and remain active during winter months. The more active kids are, the healthier they’ll be.Winter... more
“The days are long, but the years are short.”“Enjoy every minute! It goes too fast.”“Don’t you just wish they could stay this way FOREVER?”Ah, the many clichés that we, our own parents and grocery-store busybodies, use to describe the phenomenon of watching our children grow up. The push for milestones, the simultaneous adrenaline and ache... more
When it comes to cultivating good kid habits — reading every day, saying please (and thank you) and cleaning up your own messes — it’s really never too young to get started. Now add to that list the habit of kindness: Researchers have found that caring and compassion skills can be practiced and, like a muscle, get stronger with use. Even... more
The responsibilities and choices that come with parenting a child with a severe disability or developmental delay are intense, immediate and pressing. Saving for your young child’s future may seem like one thing you can put off for now. Unfortunately, it isn’t something you should ignore: Someday your child with special needs is going to... more
How do these deals sound to you? • Take $2 off each admission ticket at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul.• Get $5 off a purchase of $25 or more at the Hard Rock Café at the Mall of America.• Enjoy two-for-one admission at any of the four Pump It Up locations in the Twin Cities.These are just a few of the local discounts members of... more
Q: Dear Dr. Gustafson: I am writing becausee we are really struggling with our daughter's potty training for pooping.I started to train her when she turned 2. It took her just about a week to pee in the potty. However, she's still having trouble pooping in the potty.I know it generally takes long for No. 2, but we need to get her fully... more
Q: What do you recommend for vitamins for kids? Gummies? Flintstones? And at what age should we start?A: For children older than 1, in general, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend vitamin supplements. It’s thought that if otherwise healthy children are eating a normal, well-balanced diet, they’re receiving what they need of... more
As a mom of four school-age kids I’m finding it necessary to put some  thought into how I manage and store the abundance of kid-made goodness that is starting to accumulate in our life. My husband and I encourage creativity at home and so our children’s art table is often overflowing, and our kids come home from school daily with unique... more
When your child suffers a bump on the head or body, there’s nothing quite so unappealing as a hard, blue freezing cold ice pack. Fortunately, there’s now a better way to bring your kid relief and show some TLC.Thermal-Aid zoo animals are filled with specially milled, de-germinated corn that can hold hot and cold temperatures (yes, without getting... more
The new-mom cliche “touched out” means something different to each individual. For some, it’s something like, “I’m nursing twins, damn it, and if you even look at my boobs, I will find a way to muster up a pair of laser eyes … and I will burn you.” For others, it’s straightforward and simple: “Sleep is the only thing that’s happening in... more
Many parents today have made a habit of feeling guilty about the hours of screen time their kids are exposed to every day.But it’s not just entertainment that our electronics are providing.In fact, devices — an average of more than five per household in the U.S., according to a report from Ericsson — are increasingly being used for productive... more
If you’re looking for something extra-special for your kid’s room, we have just the thing: Local woodworker Gary Moore is making toy boxes that look like LEGO bricks (sold as OGEL toy boxes) as well as shelving-storage units designed to look like giant Etch A Sketches (sold as Stretch-A-Sketches).Moore, who hails from Cardiff, Wales, moved to... more
Christmas can truly be a magical time for our kids. As parents, we get to relive the wonder of it all, while also imparting — and often inventing — family traditions. One of the rituals in my family is reading holiday books together. I don’t keep holiday books in rotation during the rest of the year, however. They get put away with the tree and... more
Q: Our 3-year-old daughter has a terrible cold, but none of the available OTC medications are listed as safe for ages 3 and younger. Our friends give their toddlers these medications anyway. Is this safe? A: For years, there were dozens of medicines to help relieve kids’ runny noses, watery eyes and harsh coughs. Today, however, those... more
The Table-Time Look & Learn Mostly Math Tablecloth ($19.99) for ages 18 months to 6 years features a wide variety of lessons — including counting to 50, addition, geometric shapes, “greater than / less than,” telling time, months of the year and more than 20 other math concepts.It’s made from PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate), which has... more
Parenting has changed. No, I’m not referring to the changes one sees from generation to generation, I’m talking about what it was like to parent a mere 10 years ago.You know what we didn’t have then? Smartphones. Tablets. Phablets. Screen time.Today many of us sleep with our smart phones at the ready (if not under our pillows). And we’re... more
Bob the Builder — a longtime classic amongst the toddler set — is back as of Nov. 7 with a new look and feel, ending a nearly three-year hiatus. (New episodes of Bob the Builder haven’t aired in the U.S. since 2012.)Viewers can expect an entirely new look for the series (updated CGI-animation) and its namesake, Bob, plus and an extra-special new... more
Early childhood experts are always talking about how kids don’t need special toys: Just give a kid a cup, bowl or stick and let his imagination do the rest. This, they say, is how children learn — organic, creative, unplugged, self-directed play.And, for the most part, I believe this is true, especially for babies. (Check out the Baby on... more
Books make awesome holiday presents, don’t you think? These new gems are ideal for families looking for something fresh, entirely unexpected and, we think, delightful (any time of year). Enjoy! LEGO Awesome IdeasLooking to get your kids to actually reuse their LEGOs for creative free building — rather than just buying new sets?... more
In the closet, on the shelf, under the bed, even underfoot … there are toys. They’re everywhere! The stuff kids’ dreams are made of are the same objects that create endless nightmares for parents — picking up, cleaning, sorting, finding missing pieces. Toy curation in a multi-child household is a never-ending story. Then there’s all the... more
What do you get when you put 20 kids — age 1 to 10 — in a room full of brand-new toys? Our curious and cute testers, all Minnesota kids, found 30 great toy picks for holiday gift giving.Read on to find the full results to our annual Toy Test, including options for all ages, starting with toys for infants and on up to top picks for teens.... more
Keeping your most important items at your fingertips while you’re out with Baby is essential.  This Stroller Organizer Tray from Prince Lionheart ($25) features two cup holders and three storage areas. We like the Velcro-closure pocket that allows you to tuck your phone away from the elements. Four adjustable hook-and-loop straps make it easy... more
Little hands need a lot of washing — especially during cold-and-flu season. Help your kid easily reach the water with a faucet extender from Prince Lionheart, available in four colors.Combine one of these with a sturdy step stool and your toddler will be washing up on his own in no time, right? We found two for $9.99 at target.com. more
If you just came back from a Minnesota apple orchard with a 10-pound bag of apples (what a steal!) — and you’re not quite sure what to do with them all — try this recipe from the new cookbook: Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks. Once you’ve made it, this recipe should be easy to remember: Bake for 2 hours at 200 degrees — and it... more
There’s a good chance you’ve been hanging with “play groups” since before your child could even roll over. There are so many wonderful ways for parents to connect with peers and likewise expose babies to other babies — even if all that looks like is a small cluster of floor blankets with infants independently exploring their own toes. As your... more
Q: We keep hearing about alternative vaccination schedules. Is there a benefit? A: I strongly encourage all patients to stick with the recommend vaccination schedule. The vaccination schedule is developed and evaluated yearly by the top infectious-disease and pediatric experts in the U.S. The recommended timing and spacing of the shots... more
Q: How early is it possible to detect signs of autism? A: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) primarily affects social and communication skills. Because of this, most children with ASD will achieve their motor-developmental milestones, such as sitting, crawling and walking at normal times.However, some signs of ASD may be observed as... more
Q: Lice is on the loose at school! What’s the best way to see if our kid has it?A: Anyone can get head lice. Every year, millions of school-aged children will become infected with head lice, most commonly preschool and elementary-aged children. Though it’s not a pleasant condition, it doesn’t cause any serious health issues or... more
You’ve got a backseat packed with three kids. They each need their seat belts buckled. But two of the buckle slots butt right up against each other — and flop around so the kids end up putting buckles in the wrong slots. Meanwhile, all the kids have varying levels of buckling skills and patience. MyBuckleMate (now available in bright red, $14... more
The Saint Paul Public Library is the first library in the state to offer a new — free — children’s book-recommendation service called Beanstack for ages infant to 12. Families anywhere can sign up for book-recommendation emails based on their children’s reading skills, age and interests such as “Ninjas, Pirates and Warriors,” “Diverse Main... more
Mandarin. Hmong. Spanish. French. German. Korean. Ojibwe: No, these aren’t ethnic dining options — they’re Minnesota elementary-school language-immersion programs, and one of them may be the perfect choice for your soon-to-be kindergartener.Immersion education — in which all or most academic subjects are taught in a non-English target... more
Finally, there’s a stuffed animal your kid can take into the tub: SoapSox creatures ($14.95) — made of soft polyester terry cloth — each have a soap chamber. Simply “feed” your SoapSox pal soap (bar or liquid), immerse in water and scrub, using built-in finger pockets and an antimicrobial sponge on the inside that helps you build up lather.... more
As a longtime educator, I know first-hand just how important literacy is to early childhood development. But when I became a mother, I felt overwhelming anxiety over how to weave these skills into our daughter’s life when she was little. When Ella was born, we read to her from day one, of course. But I still felt a responsibility to... more
Minnesota's apples are ripe and ready!And with more than 125 apple orchards open to the public across the state — including more than 20 near the metro area — that’s a beautiful thing.Local orchards cater to families with farms tours, petting zoos, hayrides, gift shops, apple-picking opportunities and apple treats of all sorts.And many of them... more
Southwest Bloomington isn’t exactly a hotbed for independent gourmet coffee. But the newly established Mugshots Coffee Co. — at 10518 France Ave. S. — is a definite exception to that rule, serving locally roasted Dogwood Coffee (including espresso drinks as well as Chemex and Clever Dripper pour overs), local pastries and dairy products... more
For the last five years I’ve struggled to find a label for myself. I like definitions for things. Labels are comforting and secure. I often feel if I could just find a word that describes the person I’ve become since losing my daughter I would somehow be able to own that title and act the way a whatever-the-word-is acts. I once... more
Minnesota is home to a stunning selection of nature centers that offer programming for even the youngest of kids — as well as older explorers and would-be naturalists. Below are some highlights. Find more at exploreminnesota.com.Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul, dodgenaturecenter.orgEastman Nature Center, Dayton, tinyurl.com/... more
Life changes dramatically when you have a baby — and that includes your home. Here are five products designed to help families keep their abodes clean and beautiful despite bouncy seats, activity mats and Boppy pillows stuffed into every corner. Cozy crib Stokke, which became a household name in 1972 with its modern Z-line wooden... more
This month one of my very best friends is expecting her second child. I’m so excited to meet this new little person, to hold a brand new baby, to curl the infant’s tightly clenched fingers around my index finger, to smell the top of his or her head, and then, to give the baby back to Mom and Dad and go home — to my full household with four... more
Q: When should we start our baby on solid foods? I've heard everything from a few weeks to four months!A: It’s not surprising that parents are confused about when to start solids, because clinicians are too! There’s evidence to wait until six months of age and evidence to start much earlier. Organizations, such as the American... more
Who doesn’t love a room full of new toys? Parents. That’s who.Whether you’re an expecting parent, a new parent or are already knee-deep in diapers and Disney-princess dresses, there’s a surprising challenge that can sometimes arise: Grandparents.In most cases, Nana and Pop just want to share a little extra love with their grandchildren. But,... more
Perhaps the thought occurred to you with a sharp headache and a grimace, as your toddler sweetly asked, “Can I help?”Maybe you were shamed when — at the neighborhood barbecue — a handful of other parents were already talking about allowance. What? Before potty training?Sometimes the subject comes up when we’re faced with a sudden request: Can I... more
When Betsy Batista found out she had cancer in 2014, the diagnosis was especially difficult as it meant she had to stop breastfeeding her 4-month-old daughter so that she could undergo chemotherapy. “I was devastated,” the St. Louis Park mom said. That’s when Batista’s doula told her about the possibility of donated milk: Mothers... more
When Renee Piersa of Bloomington and Erica Myking of Burnsville became parents they quickly discovered the vast array of family friendly activities available in the Twin Cities.It didn’t take long before the longtime best friends — both Apple Valley natives, both moms to two girls, both working full-time — had a list of favorites they wanted... more
Princess-themed parties have been around for a long time, but the sensation of Anna and Elsa has given the trend a dramatic boost.Tiny Diva Princess Party offers a variety party options with characters from Frozen, including a single princess for $175, two characters for $300 (Anna and Elsa or Anna and Kristoff) or a cast of four (Anna, Elsa,... more
 Shoe shopping with a toddler can be a total pain.And, yet, you need your little one along with you to get just the right size — or do you? With a Squatchi ($19.99), parents can measure tiny feet at home. Made of durable polystyrene, the Squatchi can be a keepsake, too, if you write you kid’s size on it every year before the start of school.... more
Parenting a toddler can be — at times — tumultuous, exhausting, frustrating, even farcical. And that’s on a good day! They throw tantrums, they poop their pants, they declare independence when — and only when — you’re running late and don’t have time for them to pick out and put on their own clothes. It’s a wild ride, to say the least.... more
Q: I’ve heard that kids with asthma should start their medications before school starts in anticipation of cold season. What do you advise?A: Any child with a diagnosis of asthma, especially if the child has frequent or persistent symptoms, should have an asthma action plan. Some children are especially susceptible to wheezing when they catch... more
Q: How can we tell if our 1-year-old daughter has pink eye?A: This is a common and challenging situation for parents of toddlers and preschoolers. Typically anytime a child has a redder than normal eye — or if there’s any drainage from the eye — he or she is thought to have a contagious form of pink eye (conjunctivitis). The... more
AMUSEMENTSRainbow Play Systems showroom, Bloomington — Sarah Fejfar, Mendota HeightsGrand Slam, Burnsville — Kelly Marsh, Prior LakePump It Up — Jenny MacCourt, PlymouthBrunswick Zone. Very organized and I just sat back. Everything was taken care of! — Shauna Coble, Saint FrancisMemory Lanes, Minneapolis — Matthew Larkey,... more
My boys are 13 and 11, which means I’ve thrown roughly two dozen birthday parties over the past decade or so (no wonder I’m so tired). I’ve never been a skilled party-giver, but nor am I a fool. In those years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two about birthday parties. And so, if some cruel twist of fate were to subject me to... more
IT WAS A DARK, COLD, MINNESOTA NIGHT. My mom was visiting from Wisconsin, and we were working in the kitchen, preparing supper. Looking at the clock, I suddenly realized I’d forgotten about my 4-year-old’s dance class, which was about to start. My heart rate jumped as I zipped around getting her bag ready and telling her we needed to get out... more
Need to throw a Minions-themed party on a budget? No problem. Check out these games and crafts. You just need a little planning (and some time to buy supplies) and you'll be on your way! flying minionDecorate a yellow Solo cup with a minion face. Make a hole in the bottom of the cup and place it on a string hung horizontally between two... more
Minnesota has so many amazing attractions for families, it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, Christie Gove-Berg, a Minnesota native, Forest Lake resident and mother of three, has created a handy glossy paperback guidebook: Minnesota Must-See for Families: An A-to-Z List ($12.95), including tourist attractions both natural and urban... more
Most parents love to provide new toys for their children to keep them learning — and engaged for more than a few minutes. Brand-new toys, however, are just plain expensive. Fortunately, Twin Cities businesses and organizations are stepping up to fill that need.Elizabeth Wilcox of Golden Valley — a mother, a former Chinese-immersion teacher... more
As a lifelong Minneapolis resident, I’m a big fan of summer in the Twin Cities. When I was growing up, summer meant long days at the Richfield pool, bike rides around Lake Nokomis and visits to Dairy Queen after my soccer games at Pearl Park. And when I eventually reached adulthood, summers took on new significance — the best time to... more
These books are thoughtful, helpful and delightful most of the time, but sisters can be tricky, too, especially if you’re trying to welcome a baby sister home (and become a Big Brother) or if you’re trying to become a Big Sister (to your new baby brother).  Even not having a sister can be hard, especially when you have triplet brothers! ... more
Q Do temporal thermometers really work? A These thermometers use an infrared scanner to measure the temperature in the temporal artery in the forehead. This artery carries blood from the heart to the head and can give a temperature reading that’s as accurate as a rectal temperature, which is still thought to be the... more
Q Our daughter’s been coughing every night for a week. Would running a humidifier help? A Coughing in young children can be especially difficult to deal with! Often the cough can linger for longer periods than typical for older children or adults.This is partly because a younger child may not be able to generate the same... more
Q When can we give our baby peanut butter? A This is a great question. If you had asked this question a few months ago, it would have resulted in a different answer. In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that the introduction of peanut butter, or other allergenic foods, should be delayed until a child is at least 3... more
My son was 2, approaching 3, when he made what is still one of his most iconic declarations. We were trying out Guitar Hero on the Wii and it was his turn to muddle through Pat Benatar. In Pull-Ups, no less, he strapped on the faux guitar and turned to me: “Mama, I’m gonna rock this and you better f***ing clap.”So many emotions, Toddler... more
The Roarin’ Shark Shade Pool ($34.99) from Intex is 80 inches wide and holds 32 gallons of water. Its partial sunshade and inflatable floor make it a good fit for the toddler set.It’s recommended for ages 2 and older. more
It’s bedtime plus 30 minutes, and the Essence of Sweetness, the Center of the Known Universe — for now, let’s call her Natalie — is drawing a line in the proverbial sand:“I’m not tired. It isn’t even dark. I can hear kids playing outside. No fair!”“Natalie, you should have been in bed a half hour ago.”“I’m not going to bed.” She faces... more
Take a browse through the local parks-and-rec or community ed brochures and you’ll be amazed, if not completely overwhelmed. Our wonderful Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs offer an extensive array of enrichment opportunities for the whole family. Talk to your neighbors and you’ll hear many parents breathlessly list off team sports and... more
This year marks the Teddy Bear Band’s 30th anniversary. To celebrate, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the state of Minnesota have proclaimed June 28 Teddy Bear Band Day in honor of the group’s decades of early childhood music education for young kids, including 8,000 concerts to date! You can stomp and clap with the band with a free... more
You look outside. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. Sunlight is pouring into the house. But your kids don’t like the sunlight, they say: It’s causing screen glare and interrupting their cartoon videos, their Clash of Clans, their Monster Legends, their Minecraft.This is your cue.Send them outside. (No, you won’t be playing with them. No, they can... more
Little Owl’s DayIn this sequel to Little Owl’s Night, our wide-eyed little friend wakes up in broad daylight and discovers a forest he’s never seen, full of sunlight and daytime activities. He sees backward-flying dragonflies, wolf pups and his first rainbow. Then it’s his turn to show off. He keeps Bear up late, just long enough to see a full... more
 Little Owl’s DayIn this sequel to Little Owl’s Night, our wide-eyed little friend wakes up in broad daylight and discovers a forest he’s never seen, full of sunlight and daytime activities. He sees backward-flying dragonflies, wolf pups and his first rainbow. Then it’s his turn to show off. He keeps Bear up late, just long enough to see a... more
Created for kids up to 3 years old, the ciao! baby portable high chair is freestanding, lightweight (8 pounds) and unfolds easily, ideal for picnics, camping or even dining out. It includes a clear vinyl top tray that easily wipes clean, a built-in cup holder and a lap belt. It’s also tested and approved to meet high-chair standards set by the... more
Q: How important is it to trim our son’s toenails? He’s too ticklish and/or fussy to let us near his feet.A: This is a perfect example of “choose your battles.” Toes are wiggly and feet are ticklish. Cooperation in this situation can be negligible, but distraction is an excellent strategy. Try doing the task while your child is... more
When I was pregnant, my husband and I talked a lot about how we’d take our baby hiking.Living in Seattle at the time, we were big into outdoorsy stuff — backcountry camping, epic day hikes and 40-mile bike rides.Maybe we’ll get one of those bike trailer things, we thought. And we’d definitely need a backpack baby carrier.Well, it turned out that... more
Q: Our 3-year-old is having tantrums that last more than 30 minutes. What is going on?A: Imagine being too small to see what you’re looking for, dependent on others to offer you something to eat or drink and too uncoordinated to perform the skills you think you’re capable of. You have no choice in your wardrobe, daily agenda or... more
The Quick Change Clothes bag from Free Like Birdie helps you keep clean clothes organized. One zippered side is for clean items and the other is for dirty laundry. It’s waterproof to keep odors and moisture from escaping, ideal for day trips, daycare and more. It’s 8x9.5x3 inches, so you can nest it easily in another bag. $30 •... more
Twin Cities parents: If you like to get creative when it comes to outfitting your kids, you’re living in the right city!The Patchery — the brainchild of Amber Gunn Thomas of Plymouth, a marketing professional and mother of two — is inviting parents to become part of the clothing-design process.Here’s how it works: Visit the thepatchery.com, pick... more
Our family is gearing up for a much-anticipated family trip out of state. This experience has been in the works for several months now, and I’m so happy to see the date creeping closer on our calendar.Both my husband and I have fond memories of family trips growing up and we’re doing our best to set aside the time, the money, (and the energy!) to... more
Parents and grandparents around the world have been wearing infants for centuries, using a variety of slings, wraps and other contraptions. Though the practice is only just becoming a mainstream habit in modern Western culture, companies are offering a dizzying array of devices that allow parents to easily carry children from the newborn... more
Donnie Lemke, a children’s book editor who lives in St. Paul, and Bob Lentz, an art director in Bloomington, have joined forces — as Lemke & Lentz — to create a cool collection of interactive, die-cut books.Donnie Lemke with his daughter, CleoBob Lentz with his son, LincolnTheir super-sturdy Book-O-Beards, Book-O-Hats, Book-O-Teeth and Book-O-... more
A friend of mine recently confessed, “I don’t have the make-believe gene. I love my kid, but I don’t like to play with him.” While I consider this mama to be one of the very best I know and saw absolutely no shame in her confession, I felt something shamefully “superior” inside. Pride? Relief? Accomplishment?I consider myself a... more
Babiators ($20-$30) — designed for ages 6 months and older — look stylin’, yes. But what’s more? They’re nearly unbreakable and, if you do break or even lose them within a year of purchase, the company will send you a free replacement pair, as long as you register your pair within 30 days of purchase (shipping isn’t covered). more
Q: Our son is 21 months old and not talking beyond the word “Mama.” Should we be concerned? His older sister was talking in sentences much earlier.A: This is a great question and important issue to address with your pediatric clinician sooner rather than later. Optimal speech and language development in toddlers depend on a lot of... more
Q: Our 2-year old loves spicy food (really spicy!). Is there any harm in him eating these foods?A: Spicy food isn’t a problem for children. Usually the problem is getting them to try spicier than normal foods. There are only a few rare foods that can actually cause a chemical burn to the skin and mucous membranes, and most families stay away... more
Does your toddler love to drool on your laptop while he FaceTimes with Nana or watches YouTube Elmo videos?The Kid Lid ($29) straps easily on to 13- and 15-inch Apple and PC laptops to protect them from liquids as well as unwanted typing.We put it to the test — with a lot of kid pounding and pressing — and the keyboard was delightfully... more
New this spring from high-quality helmet-maker Nutcase, is The Baby Nutty helmet ($44.99) for ages 12 months and older (for heads 47 to 50 centimeters in diameter) — because “Even babies wanna bike.”With the popularity of balance bikes among toddlers soaring, it makes sense to start them young on head protection. Styles so far include Petal... more
Though the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding to a minimum age of 2 and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 1 year and beyond, as is mutually desired by mother and child, only 27 percent of U.S. mothers — of the 76.5 percent who breastfed to begin with — are still nursing at 12 months, according to the AAP’s 2013... more
If you’re looking to avoid chemical dyes for egg-coloring this Easter (April 5) — but shudder at the thought of making your own with beets and turmeric — we have good news.Glob Colors has done the work for you by creating its Natural Easter Egg Coloring Kit ($14) — vibrant dyes made from radish, cabbage and annatto extracts.And if... more
Q: Nearly every morning lately our 4-year-old has a bad tummy ache (cramping pain), followed by painful diarrhea (usually after eating milk and cereal for breakfast). Then he’s fine for the rest of the day. Could he be lactose intolerant?A: As strange as this may sound, some of this may just be a normal pattern for your child. Eating... more
Technically, the first day of spring falls on March 20.But, in Minnesota, we won’t hold our breath. Around here, March is “in like a lion” and out like a nasty slush pile with a chance of blizzard. We’ve seen snowflakes fall into our Cinco de Mayo margaritas in the past. We’ve packed up the winter coats only to drag them out again a week... more
College Nannies and TutorsThis site was founded in Minnesota by Joseph Keeley, a business-school student who took a job as a nanny — or “manny” — caring for children in Edina in the summer of 2000. This popular site has grown into a large organization offering on-call child-care, nanny-placement services and more to families across the... more
My 2-year-old daughter loves playing in water, so I thought signing us up for some parent/child swimming lessons would be a good idea. It's been really great spending time in a warm pool in the middle of winter. I signed us up to take a Parent & Child Class through Bloomington/Richfield Community Education Services. We've had five lessons... more
You know you’re having a tough time with potty training when an emergency trip to Chicago starts to seem like a good idea. That was the case for Julie Bixby, a Dellwood mother of two. Desperate to get her 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Isabella, potty trained, Bixby became intrigued when she read about a woman in the Windy City who guaranteed... more
The Cibo — a cute, two-eyed silicone mat that sticks to most table surfaces — eats up little-kid messes not just at meal times (think rice and other small foods), but also during craft or cookie projects (think glitter and sprinkles). It’s dishwasher safe to boot (top rack only). thecibo.com • $24.99  more
Q: My toddler (20 months) is starting to climb out of her crib. Do we need a toddler bed already? A:  Yes. For your daughter’s safety, transitioning to a toddler bed is recommended. The act of climbing out of the crib is dangerous. It could result in a limb fracture from an arm or a leg trapped in between the crib slats, or, because... more
It can be an uncomfortable transition — from “you are my most precious little baby and I will never deny you anything” to “OK, I think we need to go over some rules.” The change often starts with an incident and an impulsive response — perhaps an unexpected step into the street resulting in a resounding, “NO!” Or maybe a crayon to Grandma’s... more
Whether you’re considering hiring a neighborhood babysitter for the occasional date night or a full-time daycare center for your return to work, finding the right child-care provider is an overwhelming endeavor — and likely one of the most important parenting decisions you’ll face.After all, this is your child! Of course you want to ensure his... more
Yes, winter’s cold, windy and, in Minnesota, oh-so long. But it’s also a season like no other. There’s no better time for baking, hot cocoa, skating, skiing and sledding! Embrace these last weeks — months? — of winter with some of our favorite seasonal books, plus a couple from our readers, too! You Can Do It, SamCold and snowy but warm... more
Q: Our 3-year-old son is having sleep troubles. Our friends are recommending melatonin supplements (gummies). Are they safe? A: Sleep problems in a 3-year-old are common and normal. Children at this age want to know their parents are available to them at any time, day or night. They want to delay sleep as long as possible,... more
As a first-time parent, keeping track of your child's immunizations can be a bit overwhelming. This is understandable because starting at 2 months of age, almost every "well child" doctor's visit involves at least one immunization. No wonder my daughter seems nervous when she sees people wearing doctor's scrubs.Looking at the immunization... more
Beat cabin fever by building your own roads or railways — ndoors! — with award-winning PlayTape, available in a variety of widths, lengths, colors and designs, including railway track. Vroom! Learn more at inroadtoys.com. Price: $7.99–12.99 more
Q: How many nights in a row is it OK to give a 2-year-old ibuprofen for a 100- to 101-degree fever?A: I know having a sick 2-year-old in the middle of the night is never fun. The first thing you want to do is help him feel better. What I’d recommend is this: While you’re giving that first dose of ibuprofen to help with the fever, also... more
Q:  My son, age 4, has multiple warts on his feet! What’s causing this and what do we need to do? A: Warts are caused by a virus (human papillomavirus). They can occur on any part of the skin on the body, but are most commonly seen on the hands, feet, knees and elbows. They’re very common in children. They can be spread from... more
Q: We’re mystified by ear infections: When we take our 2-year-old to multiple doctors, the diagnoses aren’t consistent. One will say she has no ear infection at all. Another will say she has a severe ear infection!A: To better understand variation on diagnoses of ear infections, we may need to take a step back and more clearly define what’s... more
Minnesota winters, in general, aren’t easy! The meteorologist seems to mock you, relishing buzzwords such as polar vortex, La Niña and — shudder — thunder snow. As you’ve perhaps realized by now, a Minnesota winter with a toddler is an even nastier beast, with temperatures too dangerous for adult human exposure, let alone your child’s... more
Every day a new app comes along, promising to make life better, easier or more fun. But they can’t all be that great. Luckily for us, we have Valerie Moe, Minnesota Parent’s tech-savvy mom blogger from Bloomington.She’s into apps — like really into apps — and recently she’s been sharing some of her favorites for parents and parents-to-be, too! All... more
As most parents do, I often think about my children and wonder what kind of adults they’ll be when they grow up.I hope they will become altruistic individuals, giving more than they take from the world.But my children are constantly bombarded by messages from billboard ads, celebrity figures and TV commercials that scream the opposite — that... more
Manipulating physical objects is essential to early childhood development — yes, even when the kids in question are using digital apps. So goes the mantra of Tiggly, the makers of interactive toys for tablets — including Shapes for toddlers and math-focused Counts for ages 3 to 6. Minnesota Parent’s 6-year-old toy tester tried both sets with... more
Q: My 5-year-old watches a lot of TV, but he’s also playing at the same time with LEGOs. Does this count as screen time?A: Yes, it counts. Reducing screen time to no more than two hours per day is a good approach with all children, regardless of what else they may be doing at the same time. Multitasking with LEGOs is probably... more
Among the many, many things you swore to yourself while waiting to become parents — including but not limited to no screen time, no Dora, no yelling, no sweets — top on the list of good intentions was “no spoiling.” You would raise a well-mannered and thoughtful child. One who says “please” and “thank you,” holds doors open for little old... more
OK, Minnesota parents, it’s your turn! Yep, this month you’re taking over our Bookshelf department, sharing your favorite books. Don’t see your top picks here? Tell us: What’s your favorite children’s book of all time (or this week)? Send the title, your first and last name and your city of residence to editor@mnparent.com and you’ll be... more
Toddler parents: There are some among you who deserve a special shout-out. You’re warriors of a different distinction. I’m talking about those of you who have not one but two or — have mercy — three toddlers.Perhaps your “perfect” pink-hued, albeit over-romanticized, pre-pregnancy vision included two angelic little girls — one year apart. You... more
Q: Do toddlers respond to ice treatment after an injury the same way adults do? It’s nearly impossible to apply ice to a bump on a 2-year-old child, but is it worth trying?A: Ice can be very helpful in treating a variety of toddler injuries, but its use may require some creativity on your part. Wrapping an ice bag or pack in a wash cloth or Ace... more
I See Me! My Farm Friends from I See Me! — a cool Plymouth-based publishing company — is all about introducing adorable farm animals to kids. This hardcover book comes customized with your child’s name and photo on nearly every page. Its interior pages are glossy and sturdy, not quite board-book quality, but tough and super cute.Recommended... more
Being a new mom is overwhelming. Amidst the post-delivery waves of emotions, you're expected to know details about everything relating to your baby. In the hospital, the nurses ask you how many wet or dirty diapers has your newborn had today (and they're speaking in 24-hour increments since the time of birth, not calendar days), when did you last... more
Shakespeare called it “the food of love.” It can calm nerves, ignite passions and sooth a broken heart. It’s a part of nearly every celebration and ceremony. Some might call it the common language of our world. What would your favorite movie be without it? What would life be without it?We’re talking, of course, about music.And it’s not just... more
From left to right: Ella Greene, 8 months, Farmington; Charlie and Julia Hanson, ages 4 and 10 months, Rogers; Ian Gabriel Chacon, 6 months, Apple ValleyClockwise from top left: Cole Helgeson, 3, Waconia; Olivia Moe, 9 months, Bloomington; Sophia Liu, 2, Eden Prairie; Elijah Daniels-Kriz, 7 months, BurnsvilleSam and Max Hargis, 1... more
My daughter was 2 when her brother was born. I did a million things wrong and a few things right, or so it seemed at the time.  I involved her in the pregnancy. I read the “new baby” picture books. I took time — precious, bleary-eyed time — just days after his birth to sit with her and do puzzles. She got a new sandbox “from the baby”... more
When you’re 3 years old and the only child in the house, change can be difficult to handle. You’ve been pampered, perhaps, your entire life and, presumably, have had things fall in your favor more often than not.Then mom and dad decided to make the family a quartet.Oh. Well, that’s different. That’s a huge adjustment.Luckily for Josie... more
Q: I feel like my toddler’s overeating. And she constantly asks for food (not just sweets, either). Should I limit her food intake? A: Toddler energy requirements — despite their impressive energy expenditures — aren’t abnormally large. In fact, children age 1 to 3 years old need about 40 calories for each inch of height. For... more
Potty training is like the SATs of toddler parenting — hard, confusing, exhausting, sometimes pointless. Getting through successfully allows you to move on to bigger and better things, but your memories afterward are disjointed and hazy. There are books, boot camps, videos, trained professionals, singing toilet seats, sticker charts and... more
Q: My daughter seems to react strongly when sunscreen is applied near her eyes, nose and mouth, and now she refuses to let us put it on. What can we do?A: In many ways, sunscreen lotions have great success preventing sunburns — and also reducing long-term cancer risks. And, in recent years sunscreen lotions have been made to be... more
Q: My son refuses to wear a life vest each time we go out on a boat. What can I do?A: Life vests, especially for younger children and toddlers, are an essential safety need, so this really can’t be optional. If you meet significant resistance, here are some things you can try:• If possible, have your child... more
Parenting is full of unexpected phenomena.One of the craziest, if you ask me, is insanity that ensues when a young child opens his or her birthday presents at a big, public party.It started for our family during the preschool years when we began having bouncy-house birthday parties for our son.After jumping around like crazy animals for an hour,... more
Kipton got his first “big boy” bike for Christmas this year. It’s a blue Huffy with training wheels. And of course it had the one feature he insisted on — the world’s loudest horn. Naturally, he grew more and more restless to try his bike as the winter dragged on. When it was finally warm enough for him to give it a try outside, he pedaled... more
Camping with children can be difficult at times, sure, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, peaceful even! If you’re just getting started, however, it’s hard to know where to begin your adventures. To provide answers, we’ve found the ultimate expert — Kelly Cunningham, author of the Muddy Flowers mom blog and co-founder of Beyond the Tent... more
Ah, to be a Minnesota parent. We white-knuckle it through some of the longest, hardest winters in the country, daydreaming of long days outdoors without fear of frostbite — green spaces galore, bicycle rides with the kids, bucking the confines of our four walls, thick boots and oh-so-many layers. Then we hit July. With stubborn refusal to... more
Before motherhood, I maintained a normal, healthy relationship with dinosaurs. I mean, I’d been to the natural history museums in New York and D.C., as well as the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. I’ve seen huge finds — fossils and murals — and tour guides stage-whispering, “Can you even imagine a living creature THIS tremendous?”Neat, I’d... more
“If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could see the pressure modern mothers put on themselves, they'd think we were insane.”That’s how Bunmi Laditan, the Quebec-based author of wildly popular “Honest Toddler” book and blog opened her post, “I’m Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical.”“Ah, yes,” I thought. “This is just what I need, something... more
One of the trickiest things about parenting for me these past six years has been managing expectations.
It all started with What to Expect When You’re Expecting and What to Expect: The First Year. These books led me to believe my baby boy would behave in a certain way (the correct way). And if he didn’t, I was worried, frustrated and, when it came... more
They go from breast or bottle to something mashed and messy — big grins and sticky hands. They examine individual peas and black beans before giving them a taste. They delight in the rite-of-passage, first-birthday frosting face; and they want to try everything on your plate.And then, one day — suddenly and without warning — bananas are yucky.... more
“I always imagine good parents teaching their children Spanish, or how to play the flute as soon as little Bri or Megan can sit up. I’ve taught mine how to consume pasta without silverware and zone out in front of the tube.” — Jerry Stahl, “Bad Moments in Parenting,” therumpus.netI wasn’t prepared for the guilt.Even though I’d heard of “mother’s... more
During the toddler years, you move from baby to big kid, from baby-wearing to holding hands, from “Ah goo” to “No!” complete with foot stomping. This new independence is breathtaking, in every sense of the word. You clap, hoot and holler as your child jumps into the pool — your loving arms outstretched and waiting, heart beating fast. You... more
Q: We’re past the stage of baby-and-me swimming classes. When is a good time to enroll my twin sons in swimming lessons?A: Helping children be safe and comfortable in and near the water can start at a very young age, as you’ve already learned. Once a child is about 3 years old, families can usually find places in their community that hold... more
A: The good news is that gone are the days when children were basically forced to do everything right handed — even if they preferred their left hand. Your daughter will likely learn a variety of techniques to help her adjust to many right-handed activities. If you know someone who is left-handed — like your husband — they will be able to... more
With Earth Day approaching, you might be wondering how to involve your toddler in the ecological discussion. They are old enough now to enjoy some Earth Day events, participate in eco-friendly habits such as recycling, and even start to see that their world goes beyond your finished basement.“Now wait, Jen,” some of you might say, “we already... more
Tax time. If you’re like many Americans, you want to rush through them, or outsource them and be done. That is, until next year. But rushing through your taxes or failing to plan can mean costly mistakes, added hassle, or tax breaks left on the table. For parents with kids at home or in college, there are provisions in the tax code just... more
There is a sweet duality in the developing toddler brain — boundless imagination alongside a tendency to be extremely literal. We ask them not to actually eat the dusty, colorful fallen leaves on the ground and later make a “garden salad.” Or we watch as they stare — perplexed — at the dark sky, after the announcement that it’s raining cats... more
Q: We are expecting a new baby in three months. How do we get our toddler ready for the arrival of her baby brother or sister?A: In spite of the great joy that it brings to parents and grandparents, the birth of a new brother or sister can be very disruptive to the future older sibling, especially if the older sibling is a first born. Even under... more
Samantha Hedwall’s toddler, A.J., knows what she wants.The Mankato mom tried putting her in pink, but the two-year-old denied her. “She did not want bows in her hair and she did not want to wear a dress,” Hedwall says. A.J. wanted a tool set like her dad’s and only wears her “princess shirts” when she feels like it. It was frustrating... more
Tan-trum [tan-truh m] noun. A demonstration of rage or frustration; a sudden burst of ill temper. Synonymous with: the toddler years.Toddlers are cute, cuddly, and hilarious—a barrel of fun and wonder and butterfly kisses. They are also miniature versions of the Incredible Hulk—easily provoked and instantly transformed from a total sweetheart into... more
I often find myself fascinated; observing what I feel are perhaps my natural habitat’s most incredible creatures: toddlers—and their parents.Seriously. I stand there in the coffee aisle at Target, head tilted, watching as a mother explains—for at least the fifteenth time—that, “the shopping cart is not, in fact, a racecar…Honey."Mouth agape, I... more