Parenting

5 Ways I get my toddlers to eat veggies

I think there are basically two ways to get toddlers to eat veggies: either it’s snuck into their food all stealthy-like or you actually give it to them straight up.

Let’s face it, toddlers are so smart. They know what they prefer to eat and that usually doesn’t include vegetables. That leaves us moms in a panic, worrying about how our child will get their nutritional needs met.

Mama, I so hear ya on that one.

Before we dive in, I do want to put in one caveat.

There is a difference between a picky eater and having a food sensory issue. If you have a concern that your child’s eating habit is more than being picky, trust your mom gut and reach out to your pediatrician to help you navigate those concerns.

With that being said, let’s talk food. YUM!

Disclosure: this article contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you purchase a product through these links at no extra cost to you.

Sweet potato fries are amazing.

God is so good. He created a food that is not only sweet, but it’s also a vegetable too (it’s true, I looked it up!).

Yes, I know that if it was processed into a fry, it’s not going to be as nutritious as its original form. But we just need vegetables to get into our toddlers’ little tummies, okay?

This is the brand that I use with my kiddos. I’ve tried other brands, and I’ve tried the puff versus crinkly versus regular options and always come back to this one.

My toddlers devour these. I do know that most local stores carry this as well like Walmart (not sponsored).

My family loves to dip them with Chick Fil-A sauce, that stuff goes with everything!

Top off your toddler’s veggies with something they do like to eat

Toddlers are not that far off from us adults when it comes to eating vegetables. Most of us like veggies a certain way.

Cooked versus raw

Mixed into something else versus by itself

Dipped or covered

You get my point, right? Pay attention to what textures of veggies your toddler prefers to eat. Then whatever they don’t eat is what might need a little extra “oomph”.

Putting ranch or shredded cheese over cooked vegetables makes broccoli or carrots look much more appealing to little eyes.

If you have any non-dairy alternative ideas, please share in the comment section! 🙂

Hummus

I personally did not grow up eating hummus, but I grew to love it as an adult. I definitely ate a lot when I was pregnant with both children. So it is no surprise to me that they eat it all the time too.

Chickpeas (primary ingredient) is considered a vegetable. There are so many recipes out there that incorporate hummus.

Typically, my children will eat it with organic tortilla chips but sometimes they eat it just by itself too.

Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way for toddlers to eat veggies. Especially the leafy green ones like spinach and kale that are so good for you but so hard to convince most of us to eat.

The key to sneaking in some greens to a smoothie is to have the perfect ratio of fruit to vegetable. There are a lot of great recipes out there that use fresh ingredients, but fresh produce can go bad very quickly.

I stick to frozen smoothie mixes. They last longer and are pre-cut and measured for the perfect balance. Just blend and hand it to your little one, it’s also a great option for taking something on the go.

If you’re feeling really sassy, you can always throw in a little bit of chia and flax seeds too!

Fruit and vegetable pouches

Chances are that your toddler has already had pouches before. And, why not? They are typically less messy, portable, and kids like them.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to get your toddler to eat “real” veggies versus pouches, but they help for ease of mind. While your toddler is going through this hopefully temporary phase of picky eating, knowing that they are still getting vegetables via pouches is okay.

These are my favorite pouches to get because they cover major nutritional needs all in one: vegetables, fruit, protein and grains.

Toddler multivitamin to help bridge nutritional gaps

This one obviously isn’t another way to get your toddler to eat veggies, but I still wanted to mention this tip.

Even if we serve up the most nutritionally dense meals we can, there is most likely still a vitamin that is deficient. We all know that some days, all your toddler will eat is snacks and anything that isn’t healthy whatsoever.

Vitamins aren’t a cure all and definitely not a substitute from true nutrition, but they do aid in growing toddlers to be healthy and strong. Reminder, check with the pediatrician before you give any supplements to your toddler.

I recommend these vitamins greatly. What I love about them is that they have probiotics included with the vitamins, which helps with overall gut health.

My oldest toddler scarfs it down no problem and refers to it as “candy”.

That’s a win-win in my book!

I hope you find these tips helpful and easy to implement when feeding your toddler. As a mom, I get how stressful mealtimes can get, you just want what’s best for your child.

Stay persistent in your effort to offer healthy options to your toddler, work with their doctor, and supplement where needed. As long as they are continuing to grow and get stronger, pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Parenting

Help your toddler adjust to new baby

The time has come for you to bring home your brand-new baby and introduce them to your toddler. One of the most immediate challenges you will meet is how to help your toddler adjust to the new baby.

Are you ready for it?

As soon as you walk through the door, it’s game time! This is a BIG moment so as much as it would be nice to let things “just flow” naturally, you should have some sort of plan or mindset ahead of time.

Any type of transition especially for toddlers should be done so in manageable ways whenever possible. If you are looking for ideas on how to prepare your toddler BEFORE the baby arrives, then you should check out my post on that topic here.

I will be walking you through the introduction, acclamation, and how to achieve the “new normal” with helping your toddler adjust to a newborn.

Let’s do this!

How to introduce toddler to a new baby

I got this tip from a pediatrician: have someone else hold the baby while you greet your older child.

When I was at the hospital (3 days) it broke my heart to be away from our son (this was during the heart of the pandemic, so he wasn’t allowed to visit).

So here I thought that my son was just going to coming running to my arms…..nope!

He skipped me altogether and went straight to his new little sister. He was so curious about this little baby. Mom…….who???

I was expecting a different reaction, but this was totally great too. My point is that you will never be able to truly predict how your older child will react.

By having someone else holding the baby during the initial greeting will help keep jealousy at bay for a bit. Then you will be able to give 100% of your focus to your toddler.

Give your older child TONS of affection

Speaking of focus and attention, your older baby will need probably more affection than they normally do.

Their entire existence previously was that THEY were the baby. Only they got all the hugs/kisses/playtime. Now this tiny little thing is stealing the spotlight a bit; and now your toddler is no longer the baby of the family anymore.

How dare they!? 🙂

Even if it seems like your toddler is rejecting you, just keep reassuring them of your love. This is confusing for them and have conflicting emotions (you probably do too!).

My little guy for a while wanted to be held and rocked liked a little baby again and that is totally okay. Honestly, I loved it because I knew sooner or later, he was going to go back to his independent ways.

If your older toddler is giving you the cold shoulder, give them the space to feel whatever emotions they are experiencing. When they are ready, “baby” your toddler to pieces!

Make regular one on one times with your oldest child

This tip was so beneficial for my son as it was for me too. Before having our daughter, I was also a stay-at-home mom for our son. So, for us it was me and him all day, every day.

I was so in love with our daughter but grieved having less one on one time with our son. Around that time was when my son and I started doing a music class together. It was so nice to have that time once a week to get some much needed “mommy and me” time.

We were fortunate enough to be able to do Kindermusik together and both got so much out of it. To check if a class is offered near you, click here (not sponsored).

Classes not an option for you? No problem! Your toddler just needs time with YOU, not the activity.

There were many times that I would nurse our daughter, and then my husband stayed at home with her while I ran errands with our son.

Something simple as the carwash or the grocery store or playing with your toddler while the baby naps work wonders.

Make a busy box/bag for your toddler during breast/bottle feeding

I make this suggestion because this is something I regret not having set up beforehand. So much so, I made a “busy bag” for my friend’s older child when she had another baby.

As you know by now, the early days consist of lots of feeding the baby. Your young toddler may not even understand what you’re doing. To them it might look like you are loving on the baby and leaving them out in the cold.

To help combat this, have some special toy or bag full of quiet activities to keep them occupied. But only bring it around during feedings. This distraction will help your child adjust to this new routine of what they can do during feedings.

But in the long run, your toddler will still want to be involved. Keep some books nearby and have them hold it while you read to them. Sing nursery rhymes together.

Sensory bins are a great option too. If you need help coming up with ideas, check out my post on children’s activities planner here.

I usually don’t recommend screen time but if you use it at all or more than you normally do, give yourself grace. You’re running on very little sleep, hormones are going nuts, and everyone’s adjusting. This is a very short season.

Final thoughts: when in doubt-snack it out!

Let your child be involved with caring for the baby as much as possible

Toddlers LOVE to be little helpers. Let’s be real-when you have a toddler and a newborn, you need all the help you can get!

Ask your older child to grab a burp cloth, a diaper, or a pacifier. The point is to involve them in whatever is age appropriate to do. By having them take part of care you are helping to build their relationship with each other.

If you constantly tell your toddler to go play or that they can’t touch the baby, they may grow to resent their new sibling. My guess is that if you’re reading this, you won’t be doing that but just wanted to throw it out there!

Don’t force your toddler to “like” the new baby

This can be tough-I mean, why wouldn’t you love a sweet adorable little baby? You just want all of your babies to get along!

Your toddler does love the baby……but maybe they just don’t like them right now. So what do you do?

As long as your toddler isn’t physically acting out on the baby, let it be. If you truly have serious concerns about how your toddler is adjusting, definitely reach out to their pediatrician for some pointers.

Otherwise, you have to accept their feelings where they are at right now. This is a HUGE transition, and they are trying to process their new normal. If you force your toddler to give affection, say “I love you” and other things to the baby, it can breed resentment even more.

I know some parents will have the baby “give” gifts to their older siblings. I didn’t even sweat it for my then 15-month-old. But perhaps if you have older children, they most likely will appreciate the gesture.

My older child who was over the moon for his little sister instantly still can get in jealous bouts at times.

This is normal!

Give your child the emotional space to express those feelings in a healthy way and it should work itself out in time. Just keep giving your toddler one on one attention and lots of affection whenever possible.

Helping your toddler adjust to a new baby has lots of ups and downs, but it is all worth it. As a parent you are also learning how to divide your attention to two tiny human beings and that’s a lot! Give yourself and your kids lots of patience and kindness.

You can do this!

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In the meantime, let me know what stage of life your family is in. Expecting? Newborns? School Aged? Grandkids? Comment below!

Pregnancy/Nesting

Items I wish I added on my 1st AND 2nd baby registry

Let’s face it-doing a baby registry can be super overwhelming.

What if I don’t get the “right” item? But what if something happens in the middle of the night and I have nothing that works???

I totally get that fear because I’ve had it too. When in doubt, register more versus less. If you get a gift that you aren’t 100% positive you will need, just hang on to the receipt and exchange it for something else if need be.

Here’s the basics that you will need for your newborn for that first night home-you ready?

  • A safe place to sleep
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Breastmilk/Formula
  • Warm and comfortable clothes

……That’s it!

If you are still in need of something, send someone to the store the next day for you. And if you forgot an item-it’s okay. You cannot expect to know everything about being mother if you haven’t given birth before (or any number of children really).

With that being said, here are some items that I really wish I knew about when creating my 1st and 2nd baby registry.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links from which I may earn a commission at no cost to you.

Gripe Water

Babies get tummy troubles pretty frequently; gas, hiccups, spit up, etc. While it may be expected to some extent, it can leave them feeling fussy and uncomfortable.

I give a few drops of these to my babies and within minutes they feel better. It’s safe and tastes good to them too.

This is the brand that I most frequently use and have the most success with. It can get pricey at times but typically I can find coupons for them all the time.

If you do any online shopping, the product frequently offers cashback on ibotta.com (not sponsored).

Milk Collector

Okay….I’m going to admit something that may be controversial here…..

I don’t like using a Haakaa……..gasp!!!!

Some of my friends have amazing results with it, and that’s great! But I found I had trouble keeping it on, putting it on, having a good suction, etc. I will still insert the link in case you would like to try it or just curious on what it is.

If you are getting ready to have your first baby, you may not be familiar with a milk collector.

When you breastfeed, both of your breasts will “let down” milk, even if you are only nursing on one side. Especially in the beginning, you will leak a lot when you let down.

That’s liquid gold baby! Put on a milk collector when you are about to let down and you can catch that let down that normally would go to your bra and instead start building up your freezer stash.

I WISH I knew about this when I created my registry. I would have had it ready to rock and roll and could have built up my stash so much sooner.

For my first baby, I used the Haakaa, but like I said I didn’t have as great of results as others do. By the time my second baby came around, I stumbled upon this little gem.

Seriously, this thing was a game changer for me. I could slip it easily and discreetly into my bra and let it do its thing! I was way more comfortable and could keep it in my bra while I nursed without worrying about it.

One word of caution-if you have to set your baby down and you’re still wearing it, keep upright as much as possible. I still laugh about the time I was just about ready to cry over (literally) spilled milk!

Disposable bibs

I’m still amazed at how I DIDN’T know about this until after my second baby was born.

I really didn’t give this much thought before because I just assumed that most restaurants offered plastic ones like they did in the 90s, right????

It was actually a waitress that said it to us one time, “Didn’t you bring some disposable bibs?”. My mind was blown.

This is the kind that I use. I like that it has a “catcher” like regular bibs do. We keep them in the car so when it’s time to eat, we just bust out one of these bad boys; and toss them in the garbage when we’re done.

They have a paper towel like texture, so I don’t worry too much about buying more plastic stuff.

Snack Cups

Speaking of eating on the go…..little kids love to snack. Though I definitely try to not use snacks as a boredom buster, they do help keep the peace on car rides.

I really rely on these, I definitely am planning to get some more. I love the handles and the little slots on top. This makes for less mess and is easy enough to grab for little 6-month olds to hold onto while eating their puffs.

Plus momma-they are dishwasher friendly. What more can you ask for in life? 🙂

Echo Dot?

Okay, I know this is definitely not a typical registry item but it has made my mom life easier.

We have two in our house; one in the living room and one in my daughter’s room. I use it as a white noise machine for her in there and it works great.

With us having a multi-level house, it’s nice to use it as an intercom system versus yelling up the stairs like a maniac. I use it to play music, set alarms, reminders, play animal sounds, and more.

My favorite feature? The shopping list. Usually I think of stuff while I’m changing diapers and I can just ask Alexa to add the item to my shopping list.

When you’re a parent, you have your hands full both literally and figuratively. Being able to do any task with a verbal command is a game changer. I use this thing so much that I packed it along for our Disney trip. If you need tips on Disney vacation with toddlers, you can find that here.

This is the version I have, even though I know there’s more updated ones. I have seen the prices on these go up and down frequently. The best deals I found were around Black Friday.

Kohl’s sells these too and I used Kohl’s cash to buy my second one (not sponsored).

Bonus: Here’s one item I’m glad I DID add on my baby registry

And that is, a portable highchair. I can’t take the credit for this one, my very wise friend told me to definitely get this.

She was so right.

When taking your baby out and about, that may include visiting people’s houses that don’t have highchairs.

Or I’ve run into it with my mom friends that they obviously only have enough equipment for their children, let alone yours.

This thing folds up like a lawn chair so it’s super light and portable.

Now this one actually isn’t the one I have, but this is the one that I would recommend. Not that there’s anything wrong with the one I have but the tray is very small and narrow.

This is the one I have. Obviously, it’s still great because I wouldn’t be mentioning this, but it’s better suited for beginning eaters who basically eat puffs or cereal. It gets a little cramped for the toddler crowd.

So there you have it! I hope you can find these items useful to you as you get ready for your next little one. But definitely don’t let THINGS determine if you’re going to be a great mom. If you are reading this article or doing research for a registry, then you already are a great mom, my friend. 🙂

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Uncategorized

How To Prepare Your Toddler For A New Baby

Getting ready for another baby in the house (or maybe more!) is always exciting, stressful, and emotional-and that’s just for the parents! But what about your other baby who is now going to be the big brother or sister? How are they feeling? Do they even know? How do you prepare your toddler for a new sibling?

Maybe you’re like me and the “older” child is still very much a baby too (mine was maybe 7 months old when I became pregnant again). You will definitely want to check out my previous post on this very subject here. There you will learn about different tips, tricks, and hacks to get ready for having two under two.

One of the tips I mentioned in that article was to prepare your older child for the baby. This subject alone deserves its very own blog post to break down all the different ways you can help your oldest get ready.

Help Your “Toddler” Know What’s Coming

I put toddler in quotes because your oldest child may be in fact, still an infant themselves! They may not even be verbal yet, so how can you even begin to talk about your growing belly?

I mean, can’t they see the growing bump on their favorite jungle gym, aka mom???

I think books are a great starting point for building the concept of a little brother or sister coming. Even if they can’t comprehend all the words you are saying, the pictures alone will help explain things.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you purchase a product through my link, at no extra cost to you.

This is the book that we read to our son at minimum once a week. In the back of the book is comments from the author on how to prepare your toddler for a new baby.

Side note-it helps make for a cute pregnancy announcement! We took a picture of our son “reading” the book and it was adorable.

Have your child see you taking care of a baby

The reason I say baby versus an older child is because that’s exactly what’s coming-a baby! Of course, it never hurts for them to see you taking care of older children as well, but it may not click like it would a baby.

If your older child is also your first child, it will be a huge transition to having to share mommy and daddy’s attention with someone else.

Is there someone you can babysit? Have a playdate with someone who has a baby? The more exposure the better.

When I was pregnant with my second, it was the heart of the lockdown of the pandemic. So socializing with others wasn’t an option for me. And you might be in a stage in your life where no one else has a baby right now.

What I suggest then is “taking care of” a baby doll. Feeding, changing, the whole bit. Even just holding the doll while walking around the house. I know it might feel goofy, but they might catch on to what you’re doing and get curious about it.

That would be a great time to incorporate taking care of the doll into playtime. Play is how children help process their world and emotions. It helps that they can explore what it’s like to take care of a baby beforehand.

Once my second child was born, I found my son (again who was only 15 months at the time) grabbing his “baby” and taking care of the doll while I took care of his sister.

So. Stinkin. Cute. 🙂

Make transitions happen-like now!

Most of us adults have trouble with any one big transition, let alone multiple transitions at once. It’s too much. How can we expect any more out of our kids?

In a matter of a few short months or weeks, the whole family dynamic is going to change. Again, like us, they are going to want some control in the chaos (even good chaos) and have something to hang onto while their whole world has changed.

What are some transitions that need to happen for your toddler/older baby?

Is it:

  • Weaning off the bottle/and or breast?
  • Sleeping in a toddler bed?
  • Moving out of mommy and daddy’s room?
  • New car seat, new spot in the car?
  • Getting rid of the pacifier?

By having this transition taken care of now, it will help both you and your baby get into a new flow before adding another kid in the mix.

But be warned! You will most likely see a regression in your older child on any developmental changes once the baby is born.

That is totally normal.

Give your older child a big hug and kiss and know that this is temporary. They will catch right up to any progress made in no time.

Start delegating night and nap routines to someone else.

This very much applies if you plan to breastfeed. You definitely can still partake in parts of the routine but when it comes to actually getting your toddler in their bed and to fall asleep, maybe dad can take over then.

Perhaps you are in a situation where it’s just you for bedtime and don’t have anyone to hand it off too. In that case, if your child isn’t already doing it, have them get used to falling asleep in their room on their own.

I definitely struggled emotionally with not being the one to put my first baby to sleep. But I knew in a very short time I was going to be breastfeeding again and it wasn’t the best-case scenario for us.

It is good for your child to learn to be comfortable with having someone else do this routine. This can help increase their own self-soothing skills and won’t be as drastic of a change for when you’re in labor.

Have your toddler spend a night or two at someone’s house.

Or have someone come spend the night at your house and then YOU are away-babymoon, perhaps???

While I was still breastfeeding my oldest, I didn’t want to be gone from him at night, but that’s just me. Once he was weaned it was very important to least have 1 night where he spent the night away.

If possible, have them stay wherever or with whomever will be taking care of them while you’re gone. Once again, when it comes time for the baby to be born your older one has at least experienced their first night away from the parents beforehand.

Ways to help your toddler transition when the baby is born

This topic is going to be discussed in a follow-up post because there’s a lot to it! For now, the best advice I can give is to make sure to “baby” your older baby.

Even though they are at the ripe old age of 2 (or 3 or 4…), they are going to need that reassurance that they are still your baby too!

Let me know in the comments what you have found helpful from this article. Please consider subscribing to stay up to date on all of the newest content and to receive your free Children’s Activity Printable.

Have a WONDERFUL day!

Parenting

Children’s Activity Planner Printable

Children's Activity Planner

Free Printable

Between sick days, snow days, days off of school, and many other reasons you may find yourself having the kids home all day. Or you may be a stay-at-home mom like myself, constantly trying to find ways to give each day some structure. But without a children’s activity planner you may find yourself asking:

What are we going to do all day long?

I highly encourage you to make a plan ahead of time of different activities for the children to be entertained. Having a plan in place prevents a lot of last-minute scrambling and stress for you and keeps boredom and fights to a minimum for them.

In my post about helping your toddler adjust to a baby, I recommend having a “busy bag” for your toddler when feeding the baby. Having a children’s activity planner definitely helps with coming up with ideas for busy bags. If you would like to read more about that post, check it out here.

You don’t need a ton of money to keep kids occupied. I actually would argue that the opposite is true. Simplicity is best.

Having a written down children’s activity planner handy is also very helpful to any caretakers that come to your house when you’re not there.

I created 6 categories that would help fulfill our children’s natural need for exploration and creativity.

These categories are:

  • Sensory
  • Physical
  • Educational
  • Social
  • Creative
  • Outing/Connect With Nature

Sensory

When I first started reading up on sensory bins, I was super intimidated by the name. But it is so much simpler than we realize.

Do you have a box, storage bin, a bowl? Throw in some crushed cereal and some spoons and a cup and you have a sensory bin!

Of course that is the most basic, no prep sensory bin that there is but I don’t know what your budget is. If you have the time and resources to do more elaborate bins please do!

The main point is that so many things are within arms’ reach to help satisfy this need without having to run to the local craft store. The best site without a doubt to find infinite sensory bin ideas is Pinterest.

Physical

We all know that kids are balls of energy, but that gets tough especially when you’re stuck inside.

If you’re up for it, throw the couch cushions on the ground to make a crash pad! Play kids music and let them go wild.

Need it quieter because you live in an apartment or the baby is asleep? YouTube offers a lot of high-quality yoga videos for kids. You may need to repeat these activities multiple times a day to get their wiggles out before bedtime.

Educational

Children are like little sponges, aren’t they? My kids’ appetites for learning have really grown in the past few months. It’s been so much fun to really break down what they see, hear, feel, etc.

Take advantage of your local library! Our story time in town is the best; the kids absolutely love it.

If you haven’t ever been to a children’s museum, you seriously should check one out. I think my husband and I enjoy them almost more than our kids do!

Social

This one is tricky nowadays. You obviously have to do what feels safe and comfortable for you. But social interaction is so important for children as it is for adults.

My children on a day-to-day basis usually don’t see other kids. So I definitely strive to give opportunities for them to interact with other kids.

The church we attend has a wonderful nursery. It is such a blessing to have somewhere for the kids to get to know other kids while my husband and I attend worship.

Playdates are always great too. Sometimes you may be the only parent in your current circle so you may have to branch out more. For example, a local recreation department nearby organizes formal play groups for people. It does cost money, but it gets you out of the house!

Creative

Children seem to be born with endless creativity, and us adults tend to stifle it (even when we are trying to facilitate it!).

I think the most obvious creative activity is to do painting, but it’s a good one! There is so many ways to spice it up with whatever medium you choose to use.

But don’t forget music! Music is so important and so good for little minds and bodies.

Whatever you decide, I encourage you to do the least amount of “teaching” as possible. The best part about creativity and art is that there’s no rules!

Outing/Connect With Nature

When possible, it is always good to get out of the house. That is especially true with being outside. It’s amazing how much some fresh air will calm a toddler down.

Outside not an option? Even just going to run errands is still good to do. There are days when all we do is go to the carwash and come back home. It’s still enough to shake up the routine.

During colder months, I make an extra point to take the kids to a local nature center. There is usually plenty of interactive exhibits and some live animals too. Plus, they are typically FREE!

I hope this gives you a good starting point to planning your days with the kiddos. Sometimes you are limited by transportation, where you live, climate, budget, or all the above! If that’s the case, I truly get it. It’s not easy so commend yourself on making this huge effort to enrich your children’s lives. But it will pay off in the end because your kids will be exposed to all these varied experiences and skills. What more can you ask for?

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Uncategorized

TWO Under Two-What You Need To Know

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was not even 7 months postpartum before I became pregnant again with our second child. Though my husband and I were very excited, a sudden overwhelming feeling of fear seeped in. We were going to have two under two!

How are we going to handle having two babies less than 16 months apart???

So what about you-are you feeling a little bit panicky right now? Wondering what it takes to get ready for kids close in age?

I think most of us on this side of things would say that there’s only so much preparing you can do. As much as possible, roll with it and relax. You already have at least one baby under your belt, you’ve got this!

Nesting is going to look a little different this time around, a little less polished maybe. But that is totally okay. Here is probably going to be my biggest tip for you:

Cut yourself some slack!

You absolutely cannot compare to how it was to prepare for your first baby. At that point in general you could go to the bathroom, shower, and eat on your terms. Nowadays, you have a little one to chase around with your growing belly.

Maybe you were like me and for awhile you are pregnant AND breastfeeding at the same time (don’t worry, my doctors were totally okay with it)!

You get my point? Shift your mindset to not set up expectations for yourself so high that you are left frustrated.

So with that being said, let’s dive in.

Still create a baby registry, even if you don’t share it with others.

Well-meaning people would often say to me “At least you have all the stuff you need already.”. To an extent, that’s true. But I still found myself needing either a few things or two sets of some things for my two under two.

Depending on the age of your older child, you may find that you need two of:

  • Cribs
  • Highchair/booster seat (ours was a 4 in 1 highchair so that I personally didn’t need two)
  • Changing stations
  • Car seats
  • Sound machines (if not sharing a room with older sibling)
  • Diaper pails

This all depends on your personal setup for home or away, but with essentially two babies you need two of everything basically.

Remember, with creating a registry you will be eligible for any offers or discounts that come with completion. A friend of mine created a registry but didn’t share it with other people but was still able to use all the benefits included.

My registry was still active from our first child, so I was able to very easily edit my list for what I needed versus starting from scratch.

If someone offers to host a “Sprinkle” for you, take them up on it!

In case you aren’t familiar with the term, a sprinkle is a smaller scale baby shower for someone that has already had children before. I know some mommas aren’t into having a lot of attention be on them, but the focus is to celebrate this new baby coming as well as support for the momma.

My mom was very gracious to offer to host a sprinkle for me (thanks Mom!). It was really nice to take a break from nesting to celebrate and be around people who love me.

You already are going to have your hands full when you have two under two, don’t be afraid to let people bless you.

Invest in a double stroller.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you purchase a product through the link at no extra cost to you.

Yes, your oldest may be walking (more like running) regularly but they sometimes get tuckered out too. On family walks my oldest will walk for a little bit but eventually needs a break.

Feel free to ask parents at the park or on the street how they like their double stroller. We have done that before and usually parents are more than happy to chat with you.

It seriously feels like a secret club; having two under two. Parents that are in this club just get it like no one else does.

This is the stroller that we have:

I can fold and unfold this thing one handed. What I really like is that it works with Graco’s Click-Connect System. I was able to use the baby car seat for baby #2 and click it onto the stroller all without waking her up. I highly recommend this one.

Organize hand-me-downs as you do laundry.

Maybe you have been doing this all along, or maybe you still have a newborn and wrapping your head around being pregnant again. No worries!

Having two under two means that there’s a good chance that the older one’s clothes are still in style and not lost in the dungeon of storage.

We all know kids outgrow sizes overnight sometimes. Keep using unscented laundry detergent (or pick it back up), and as baby #1 outgrows items, either hang it up in baby #2’s nursery or put it in a bin for later.

I still organize my hand me downs for my second child this way; sorting as I put away clean laundry. Because do you really have the time to dedicate a whole day for this task? Probably not.

Don’t sweat if the second nursery isn’t absolutely perfect in time for the baby.

If you have major mom guilt over this one (or anything really), just know you are in good company! With your first baby, you probably had more time and let’s face it more money-hello diapers-to devote to creating the perfect nursery.

Something I told myself that may help you is that the child’s room will be in constant development just like how they constantly develop. Chances are your nursery for the older baby or now toddler has already evolved to their interests.

I really struggled with mom guilt over not being able to devote as much as effort to my second pregnancy as my first.

What’s wrong with me? Do I not love my second child as much as my first? Will they think I favor our oldest because their nursery isn’t Pinterest-perfect?

That’s silly, right? But that’s what happens when we leave our thoughts and hormones to their own devices!

To combat this, I would and still write letters to my children, explaining to them what’s all going on during this time. I write about being pregnant during COVID, having two under two, reminding them how much I love them even if I can’t do everything I would like to for them.

And you know what? Then I feel better! I am keeping all these letters and planning to give it to them down the road.

Use shortcuts for making a freezer meal stash.

If you can devote a day or an afternoon to make a huge batch of freezer meals to use after you give birth, that is great. But even if you can’t or don’t want to do that, break up making your stash over days or weeks.

Start or re-use old recipes that you like for freezer meals and buy double the ingredients; one for today’s meal and another to throw in a freezer bag for later on. Boom. Done.

Need a step easier than that? As you buy groceries, buy some sort of frozen meals every trip you can. I am a big Costco fan, so when we would make a run to the store I would buy smoothie mixes, waffles, pizzas, etc. in bulk.

Still not simple enough? I hear ya! Start building a stash of gift cards for restaurants to have on hand. Or ask for them as gifts for Christmas, birthdays, etc. My mom would give me a bunch of gift cards for places to eat when my children were born. They were seriously a Godsend to me (Again, thanks Mom!).

It’s also nice to have some extra meals available for whoever is taking care of your other children while you are in labor or at the hospital.

You probably already have a milk stash for your kiddo and don’t even know it!

Remember how I said earlier how I was breastfeeding and pregnant at the same time? It came in handy! I already had a good chunk of frozen breastmilk that my first child didn’t need but I could still hang onto for my next baby.

Reminder: frozen breastmilk is good for up to 6 months after the date that it was expressed.

Though I was able to thankfully breastfeed both of my children, I did have to supplement with formula for my second baby for a couple of days. Even after my milk fully came in, I still hung onto those cases of formula for quite awhile.

If you fed your baby formula, please comment to share your experience on how long normally formula has a shelf life for. It’s always good to know!

Definitely consider getting an additional breast pump if you plan to breastfeed.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I would be eligible for another pump through our insurance. I would double check this with your insurance if that is the case for you or not. My understanding was that I was able to obtain another one after one year of receiving a breast pump but that is because I was pregnant again.

This may seem unnecessary for you, but I liked having two different pumps. The older pump was still operable, but you need to routinely replace valves and other parts.

Especially for you working mommas, if you have two pumps you can leave one pump at home and have the other one in the car or at your work. You have enough things to carry between diaper bags, car seats, purses, etc. That’s one less thing to haul back to the car!

Prep any birth announcement or ceremonies beforehand as much as possible.

This tip will apply to you based off your cultural and religious views. For us, we observe infant baptism into the Christian faith.

I already scheduled a baptism date with my church that worked for both the pastor as well as the sponsors. I also bought any decorations I wanted and created a meal plan ahead of time. That might seem extreme but it was really nice to not have to completely scramble around after the baby was born.

But what about preparing the older sibling???

So this one is a biggie. There is so much that goes into this that I am going to create a follow up post that’s dedicated to this topic alone.

But for now, my #1 tip in regard to this is to make any big transitions for the older sibling BEFORE the baby arrives. Even if your oldest is going to fall in love with their new sibling, sharing the spotlight is going to rock their world.

If you try to transition anything of their current “normal” during this introductory phase, it can leave the older child feeling totally out of sync. Some transitions you may need to do are:

  • Weaning off breast and/or bottle
  • Sleeping in their own room
  • Car seat placement in the car
  • Changing from crib to toddler bed
  • Potty training
  • Bed and nap time routines

Like I said, I will be going into greater detail on this in my next post. Stay tuned!

There is so much to do to get ready for any new addition to the family. It will be a lot of work and craziness but be prepared to have a lot of fun too. I wouldn’t change it for the world having our kids 15 months apart.

Please comment below on any tips you have to share or what you found most helpful. I so appreciate you taking the time to be here today, have a great day!

Parenting

How to get toddler to pick up toys EVERY night!

I don’t know about you, but I think getting a toddler to follow any sort of instruction can be an uphill battle. This is especially true for those very strong-willed types (aka mine and every other toddler on the planet) who are not ready to go to bed but their mama sure is! I just wanted to know how to get my toddler to pick up toys!

We tried every tactic in the book. The first attempt was to sing cleaning up songs-that was a total failure. I can remember trying to keep my cool as I’m singing and picking up his toys, meanwhile he’s running around on the couch in his diaper like a little jungle boy.

Second, I attempted to use stickers as a reward. That lost its magic real quick.

Then I used candy, which only made my child more hyper. Finally at my wits end after a long day; I would lose my cool and tempers flared, and time outs were being handed out left and right. Not a great way to end the day for anyone.

Finally, I had an epiphany.

During our mommy and me music class, my toddler would pick up toys; put them in the bins; and hand it to the teacher like a pro. Plus all the other kids did too! That’s where it dawned on me: the toys were minimal, organized, and picking up was part of a routine.

What does your child’s main play area look like? If it looks anything like mine did at one point there was no order, looked cluttered, and over all uninviting.

Don’t have time or the money to do an overhaul all at once? Me either!!! These changes have been made over time and over paychecks and that’s okay. Progress is progress!

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to which I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Make toys accessible and visible.

While I do think larger storage bins (like the fabric ones) definitely serve a purpose, they are probably better suited for bigger items such as stuffed animals.

The vast majority of toys are smaller in size and get quickly buried under a mountain of teddy bears. This is just asking for a kiddo to dump everything out to look for one specific toy.

This is the type of shelf that I use in my home. What I like about them is that there are multiple bins, and they are at a good height for kiddos that under 4 feet. Often, my kids will take out individual bins of toys that they want to play with.

Organize toys by type.

I was originally very skeptical of this step-will a toddler really keep toys sorted? The answer is definitely yes!

Once again, going with the sub-organization by bins and by type of toys; my kids will simply take out whichever category of toys they want to play with.

When it comes to labeling, I wouldn’t sweat it too much. If you have the time and energy to print out a picture/symbol for each bin and laminate it, good for you! But if you just want to put a sticker label on and write the category in marker, that works just fine for us.

Here’s some categories that I am currently using to help get you started:

  • Blocks & Shapes
  • Tractors
  • Cars
  • Princesses
  • Legos
  • Paw Patrol
  • Balls

As you can see, you can go as specific or broad as you need to; this system needs to work for what’s best for your family.

Plus when it came time for my toddlers to pick up their toys, then they could start picking up toys by the category versus just a free for all.

Declutter, declutter, declutter!

You would think that it would be every kid’s dream to have a room filled with toys but in reality, it’s not.

Especially with young children they can get overwhelmed very easily with too many options. Having too many things stifles creativity, creates stress, and takes more time out of your life picking things up.

I am making it a daily habit to find at least one item a day that is either trash or to donate. Please don’t donate junk to organizations.

If something is still in decent condition but not up to the level of donating, put it out to the curb if possible. Of course, that depends on where you live, but you can always post it as “Free” on a buy/sell/trade website.

Decluttering takes so much work and is a lot of mental and emotional energy too. It’s good to have motivation and encouragement especially after a holiday or birthday where a big dump truck of stuff comes to my house.

I have been listening to this book on audio and have been loving it. I highly recommend reading or listening to this book for inspiration:

Lastly, make cleaning up toys as part of the daily routine for your family.

For us, it works best to have our toddlers pick up of toys at the beginning of bedtime. I’m partial to it because I like to do a nightly cleaning but maybe a different time of day works better for you.

With any type of new system or routine, it will take repetition and trial and error to make it smooth. So be patient with yourselves and your little ones, but make sure to be consistent.

I usually start with taking whatever empty bin, for example the cars bin, and say “Let’s find all the cars and put them in the cars bin”. We focus on that category until it’s done.

This is much more manageable then giving the basic command of “Pick up your toys!”. That’s kinda equivalent to having a doctor to say, “You need to lose weight!”. Way too broad!

If you have a specific spot for books and larger items, your child will get to know each item’s “home” over time. It’s so much easier to say, “Where does the baby stroller go?” versus trying to find a new spot every night.

I hope you find these tips helpful, practical, and easy to implement in your home. I know I have found great improvements in clean up time with both my 1-year-old and 2-year-old. What used to be a raging battle has become another box in the checklist of daily tasks; minimal effort to be done.

Please consider subscribing to stay up to date with my latest posts. Feel free to comment on what tips you find helpful plus anything you have to add that has worked for you. I appreciate you being here!

Family Travel

Disney with toddlers during COVID!

When I get to go to Disney, I feel like I’m coming back home. If you are a die-hard Disney person like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about! This past September of 2021, my husband and I took our two toddlers to Disney for their first ever plane ride to go to our first big family vacation.

Not just any vacation-Disney World-during COVID. But you know what? We had an absolutely MAGICAL time! And so can you!

I’m going to share all my best tips to have a Disney vacation with toddlers so you can have a great trip.

Since our trip we have had so many friends of ours with little ones asking us for some tips and tricks that we learned along the way. Hopefully this can help you too whether you are on the fence of going or not, or you’re getting ready to head to Disney.

I will say this ahead of time, there are so many factors into planning a trip some tips may be more crucial than others. This past trip was in September (which is hurricane season and still very hot); we flew (so we could still use Magical Express); and we stayed on Disney property (we stayed at the Contemporary Resort).

However, I just got done helping out some friends of ours that are staying off property and driving there and the advice still rang true for them!

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links for which I may earn a commission if you were to buy a product but with no extra cost to you.

Use a travel agent when planning your Disney trip.

I don’t know about you, but I have to take care of so many things throughout the day, I just don’t have the time or the energy to be researching good deals for a vacation.

You can use a local travel agency or an online agency typically without any extra cost to you (the agent gets a commission from Disney when you book a trip through them). It was so nice to have someone else do all the research, keep up to date with changing COVID policies, and take care of any issues along the way.

Of course, you don’t have to use an agent, but if you have little ones, you need all the help you can get!

Lower your expectations for the vacation, by a lot!

There’s a reason why it’s called Disney WORLD-you can go there regularly and never be able to do and see everything.

So don’t try to push your stroller around the parks like a crazy person trying to get everything done. This is a vacation remember? Plus, your little ones aren’t going to be able to keep up that pace, and neither will you!

Take a cue from your kiddos; slow down, take time to sit and enjoy the atmosphere. Disney has mastered the art of atmosphere-from small details, to smells, music, take it in!

Take a break in the middle of the day.

Especially on park days, you need a break from the crowds and walking, and the heat (I’m pretty sure my eyelashes started to sweat because of the heat!). I thought for sure my kids would be like other tuckered out toddlers snoozing in the stroller, nope!

My kids needed a full out break and nap at the hotel. Even if you aren’t staying on property, you can always leave the park for a few hours and come back.

For example, if it’s a Magic Kingdom day for you and driving back to your hotel isn’t an option, you can always ride on the monorail (which is a ride in itself) and go have lunch at the Polynesian hotel and go back to Magic Kingdom. The much slower pace is needed for young kiddos to have energy to stay up for fireworks.

If you don’t already, have your 2-year-old start wearing a mask before Disney.

At the time that I write this post, 2 year olds need to wear a mask in any indoor place in Disney World, including transportation.

I have seen some 2 year olds do just fine with a mask, but others, not so much.

One of my children has sensory issues so we were able to get help/practice/tips from their occupational therapist. But if your child doesn’t receive services such as this, give them practice in the store, church, wherever. You will also want to buy toddler versus kid sized masks, those are too big.

I wasn’t able find the exact ones I used for my child online, but these are fairly close in style. If you are going during the warmer months, you will definitely want to bring change of masks for the day.

Just be prepared that your toddler may act like, well, a toddler. They may not want to wear a mask because they are tired/hungry/hot/etc. which may inhibit you from doing certain attractions.

For example, we were going to go play in the indoor playground at the Dumbo attraction. When we got to the entrance, the cast member would not let us in unless our child wore a mask.

Our kiddo wasn’t having it and so we weren’t allowed to go in. But instead we played outside by the splash pad nearby and had a GREAT time!

So please, please, please be nice to the cast members, even if they turn you away. They have a job to do, and we are all doing the best we can during these difficult times.

Grown-ups definitely bring a chain for your mask.

You will be hopping in out of buildings all the time; so it’s mask on, mask off, mask on, mask off (did anyone else think of The Karate Kid movies when I said that??). You need to be hands free as much as possible when you’ve got little ones in tow.

Light up your stroller for at night, especially at the parks.

Believe it or not, there are dark spots in the parks, that includes stroller parking. We put lit up bracelets on our stroller and it made it so easy to find our stroller after coming out of a ride. You can definitely use glow sticks too. Have fun with it!

Once again, I wasn’t able to find the exact product I used, but I got Mickey ones. You can always check the party favor section of big box stores too.

Take advantage of the parks during fireworks if your toddler doesn’t like the noise.

It is SO much to take in for us as adults, let alone little kids! Some children wore noise-cancelling headphones. But if your child is still overwhelmed from the fireworks, go on some rides!

The majority of guests are at the fireworks, leaving all these rides with little to no waiting time. Plus the parks usually are playing the show in the speakers throughout the park so you can still feel like you are part of the show.

If a park does fireworks (Animal Kingdom does not), typically you can catch some at different spots in the park.

Socially distanced character meals are still worth booking.

If anything, it probably works to your advantage if you have toddlers. Just because your kids may adore watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, they may not want ANYTHING to do with Mickey Mouse giving them a hug!

We went to Chef Mickey’s for breakfast and I was very happy that social distancing was in place for this instance. The characters still come to your table to interact with you and still pose for pictures just not within touching distance.

It was really nice to have that experience without having to tell Goofy to hit the road because of a toddler being scared.

Definitely give your toddlers time to let loose.

My suggestion is to go find the water or playground area in the park before you do any rides or wait in lines. Again, if Disney is a lot for us as adults, just think how it is for the kids!

Getting their wiggles out ahead of time may help them feel more oriented in this new space and be a little more cooperative for the rest of your day.

I think I can honestly go on and on about different tips. I cannot stress enough how amazing cast members are and how much Disney caters to families.

You need to decide what’s right for you and your family. Hopefully these tips will help you have a safe and healthy Disney COVID vacation-with toddlers!

Please consider subscribing to stay up to date for tips and tricks to have the best mom life possible. Thanks for stopping by!

Labor and Delivery/Postpartum

What I wish I knew BEFORE my C-Section recovery

***This post may contain affiliate links from which I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if a product is purchased through the link.***

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I BARELY skimmed through information about giving birth via C-section. Somehow in my mind I thought if I didn’t think about it too much then I won’t need one! Well, after a looonnggg labor with my baby boy the doctor told me I did indeed need one.

By the time I was pregnant with my second child for various reasons I needed to deliver again via C-section. The difference between the first and second time around was huge, in a good way! So even if this isn’t part of your birth plan or you are about to get your C-section scheduled, here’s a few tips to keep in mind:

Laboring beforehand can impact your comfort level during the c-section

If you are in labor prior to the surgery, your body has already done so much work! The anesthesiologist will make sure that it’s completely safe for them to operate on you; but because your body is more tired you just may feel more sensation during (tugging, pressure, etc.). When I had my second child, it was scheduled so my body was much more rested and able to handle it better.

You will have NO core strength after giving birth.

The surgeon has to cut through your abdomen in order to get to your baby. So all the nerve connections between your abs and brain are disconnected at the incision site.

Be very gentle and careful when getting out of the hospital bed (use those bed rails girl!) and out of chairs. It will get better as you heal!

Postpartum bleeding will still happen after your c-section

It doesn’t matter how you will deliver, your body will still need to get rid of all the excess blood involved in making a baby. The bleeding just might be lighter or shorter, or maybe still the same! It varies from person to person.

Some moms just love the mesh underwear the hospital gives you to wear; I personally did not. These are the disposable underwear I recommend. I used these with both of my deliveries, and they are so comfortable.

Speaking of underwear…. don’t do what I did and NOT buy high waisted underwear. My first C-section I wore my regular bikini style and it rubbed on my healing incision site and it was super uncomfortable.

For my second baby I made sure to buy this exact kind of underwear and it was way better. You can pick out different colors, but I definitely suggest black (no explanation needed there!).

You will be in pain for awhile, but it will get better with time.

Due to potential pain medications you may be taking when going home, you will be under certain restrictions. Typically, you are not allowed to drive for two weeks and not allowed to carry more than 15 pounds (which is basically your baby, diaper bag and/or car seat).

Keep this in mind for enlisting help once the baby arrives (please have a plan BEFORE you give birth)! Due to the possible medications, hormones, weight restrictions, you may have trouble going to the bathroom.

During your nesting phase I would recommend buying some stool softener to have ready for your postpartum recovery kit.

Even though recovery isn’t smooth (and what postpartum period isn’t?), remember that women give birth via C-section every day. The best thing you can do is rest and do what is best for you and your family. These comments are based off of my own personal birth stories; so always consult your doctor for medical information and advice.

You’ve got this mama!

Uncategorized

How To Keep Up With The “Mommy Vloggers”

I am borderline addicted to watching YouTube videos, aren’t you? Especially “Mommy Vloggers”, they really are the best! I get so much cleaning, cooking, decorating, and fashion ideas from them.

BUT…..I end up comparing myself, and my home to these ladies. Usually I give myself the short end of the stick with the comparison game. Leaving me feeling inadequate, discouraged, and just overall down on myself-not good at all.

So here’s a few tips that I use myself when I start feeling that way:

  1. Give yourself (and them!) some much needed grace. Remember, that these ladies and their crew have to edit content into a timely video that is still entertaining. Sometimes all day cleaning turns into an all week cleaning for me! You can only do what your day allows you to do.
  2. Break up your projects into much smaller (almost macro sized) time slots. I am currently on a much needed decluttering of my house. If I waited until I had a whole day or afternoon to do it, the kids would be in high school by then! For me, all I can do is find just ONE item a day from each room (kids’ rooms, closets, etc.) to either toss or donate. It is amazing how quickly my donate box is filled up!
  3. Do projects based off of YOUR budget; not theirs! Do you have $500 to drop on organizers at the container store? If you do great, but I don’t and that’s okay too! Maybe all you can squeeze out of your budget is a $10 drawer organizer to FINALLY conquer that junk drawer of yours. Sure, it’s not as satisfying as having the whole house organized but it can bring so much peace to know you have one more place that is neat and tidy.
  4. Remember to be thankful for what you all have. I know that sometimes we underestimate this but it’s so necessary. It’s hard to not envy a person who seems to always be put together, the house is gorgeous, and they have all the best things, but this life is only temporary. Fashion and style changes; if you have a safe place to sleep at night and food to eat then we should consider ourselves blessed!
  5. Maybe take a “break” from watching vloggers!? If you don’t have regular cable like me, this cuts out a lot of entertainment, so this is a tough one! But sometimes it might just be best to take a break from having your eyes on the screen long enough to be able to truly look at your surroundings. This may be true if you are in a difficult season of your life; do what’s best for you at this time. You can always go back to watching the videos that you love with eyes and heart in a balanced spot!

What’s your favorite way to clean and take care of your home? All at once or little by little? Please share!