Child Chefs!

Teaching Your Kids to Eat Healthy

Bright by Three - March 1, 2019

Healthy eating means healthy children. Picking nutritious snacks and developing good eating habits is essential at an early age.  Kids love to be little helpers in the kitchen, plus cooking can make them excited about foods they might otherwise be a bit wary to try. Take a look at these tips to make a chef out of your child!

Involving children in as many mealtime and cooking tasks as possible will give them a sense of freedom and make them more excited and willing to try new foods.

Here are some cooking tasks to try with your 3-4 year olds:
  • Measuring ingredients
  • Cutting with a plastic or dull butter knife
  • Squeezing juice from fruits
  • Shaking small containers, such as jars or zip-top bags, to mix ingredients
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Coming to the grocery store or farmer’s market and picking out fruits and vegetables
  • Helping in the garden
  • Dipping foods into healthy dips

Making your own snacks in place of packaged snacks from the store just a couple of times per week can help children get the healthy foods they need without the fat, sugar, and excessive salt that could slow them down.

Instead of fruit-flavored snacks…Make Fruit Salad. Instead of snack or energy bars…Make Banana Crunch.

Meal time offers rich opportunities for kids to learn, grow, and improve development. Support your toddler’s preschool readiness skills with these meal time opportunities.

Improve motor skills:
  • Make sure dining furniture allows children to sit comfortably at the table.
  • Provide utensils that allow kids to eat successfully and safely.
  • Allow kids to serve themselves from serving bowls or plates. Provide child-sized tongs or spoons.

Improve language and math skills:
  • Talk about the colors, shapes, smells, tastes, and names of the foods being served.
  • Count the number of seeds in watermelon slices or peas in a spoonful. Ask how many slices of French toast or fruit are left after everybody takes one.
  • Have children play alphabet games. Ask them to show you all of the foods on their plates that begin with a certain letter.
Improve social skills:  
  • Set clear expectations about behavior at the meal table. Model good manners.
  • Let kids take some responsibility in setting up the dinner table, preparing foods, and cleaning up afterward.
  • Help children learn to be considerate of others by asking them to respect personal space and share at the dinner table.

Improve healthy eating behaviors:
  • Help kids recognize when they’re hungry and when they’re full. Allow them to get their own portion sizes accordingly.
  • Allow children to make their own choices from the variety of healthy foods you serve.
  • Avoid using food as a punishment or reward.

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Use Your Resources: Games and Activities That Spark Learning Using Household Objects

February: Making Your Own Fun

Bright by Three - February 1, 2019

You can also check out this blog post on Denver's top mom blog, Mile High Mamas.

Games and activities are essential for fueling your child’s enthusiasm to learn And guess what, the greatest ones don’t require expensive toys or complicated supplies. Check out these tips for fun games and activities using household items, and save yourself some money!

Here are a couple games to try with your newborn baby.
  1. The Dropping Game: Babies begin to build their hand skills very early, and being able to grasp an object is the foundation for lifelong skills such as buttoning a shirt or writing with a pencil. Put a capped marker or plastic spoon in your child’s hand, then wait for him to drop it! Make sure to praise him when he drops it, then try it again! Take a look at this video to get started.
  2. The Reaching Game: Dangle a scarf, sock or colorful piece of cloth in front of your baby. Help him touch the fabric or shake it to get his attention. Encourage any movements toward the fabric by smiling and complimenting his efforts. Your positive comments encourage him to practice this skill, even though he will only kick and swat randomly at first. Make sure to keep an eye on him during this activity because scarves can present a hazard to babies.
At six months, your sitting up-baby can partake in more complex fun.
  1. Where’s the Object?: Sit at a table with your baby in your lap facing away from you. Show her an interesting object like a piece of fruit or a board book and talk about it to stimulate her interest. Place the fruit on the table and turn your baby so that she faces away from the object. Praise your baby’s efforts if she tries to turn to locate it. If she makes an effort to find the fruit, give it to her and give her a hug.
  2. Acting it Out: Play a game using rhyming words and actions to help your baby learn to predict the future. Hold your baby on your lap while you sing a song, such as “This is the Way the Farmer Rides,” or say a rhyme, such as: Ride the horsey, ride to town. Ride the horsey, don’t fall down. Bounce your baby to the rhythm of the song or rhyme and have him follow the actions indicated in the lyrics. For example, for “Ride the Horsey”, bounce your baby and then have him “fall down” through your legs while holding on to his chest, under his arms. Repeat the rhyme and movements several times. Then, pause before having your baby “fall down”. If he smiles, kicks his feet or tries to move his body down, your baby is learning to predict the future! Check out this video to watch how.
For children that are on their way to toddling, here are more activities..
  1. Scribble, Scribble: Your child will enjoy making marks on paper with crayons or in sand with a stick. Allowing him to practice will help him become aware of out how it feels to draw while using his hands and arms. By offering positive feedback when he makes different types of lines, he will notice how it feels to make a variety of designs. Check out this video to watch how.
  2. Roll the Ball: Help your child learn to share. Rolling a ball back and forth teaches cooperation, which will prepare your child for more advanced kinds of play with other children. Sit a few feet away from each other and get rolling.
  3. Splish, Splash!: Playing with water is fun! Talk to your child about his actions bathing in the tub or splashing in puddles. Some things you could say are: “Wow, you are splashing a lot. The soap is really slippery! You are pouring your pail of water. Playing in the water makes you laugh and be happy!”
Your preschooler learns so much with games and activities. Try these ideas to stimulate her creativity.
  1. Learn to Trace: Collect a variety of lids, plates and boxes that have different shapes. Sit at the table with your child on your lap, and show him how to trace one of the objects with his finger. Then, give him a crayon or pencil to trace around the object onto a piece of paper. Show him the shape that you created. Invite him to trace the line with his finger, and talk about the shape. Discuss how it matches the object that he traced.
  2. Let’s Make Decorations: To do this activity, use string or yarn and objects with large holes. This could be shower curtain rings, bracelets, toilet paper rolls or cookie cutters. Be sure to pick items that will be safe for your child to play with, and stay close by. To start, tie one of the objects at the end of the string, and invite him to string the other objects through in whatever order he wants! Help your child hang it in his room when you’re done. Supervise this game because strings can be potentially dangerous for kids to play with. Follow along with this video to help you get started.
  3. Spatial Relationships: For this activity, you will need a cardboard box large enough for your child to fit in, but small enough to move around easily. Let her play with the box. Talk to her about where she is relative to the box. “Wow, you are in the box! Now you’re behind the box!” Try lifting the box over her head. “Now you are under the box!” You can do this with more than just a box. When you are getting ready or making a meal, talk about what you need. “The fork is in the drawer. The bowl is on the counter. See if you can find your shoes under your bed.”
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Healthy for the New Year

January: Staying Healthy

Bright by Three - January 1, 2019

You can also check out this blog post on Denver's top mom blog, Mile High Mamas.

With 2018 in the rearview mirror, we’re excited for the new year! Let’s start the new year right by making sure us and our kids stay healthy. While we can’t completely crop sickness and downdays out of the picture, we can certainly develop routines to help prevent those nasty stomach bugs or common colds. Here are some tips to keep your kids healthy while they go play in the snow, sled down their local hill and drink hot cocoa.

At every age, pediatricians will be your partner in maintaining your child’s health. These questions can help you pick a good one for your family.
  • Is the office location convenient?
  • Can you call with questions during business hours? What about nights and weekends? Is there any charge for these calls?
  • Who is available when your provider is away?
  • Will your health insurance cover this provider?
  • Is the office open on weekends or the holidays? Where can you receive after hours and weekend care?

Babies are new to the world, and can be susceptible to illness. Follow this advice to keep them on the right track.
  • The vaccine schedule from your doctor is designed to protect your baby when she is most likely to get seriously ill from a vaccine-preventable illness.
  • Sometimes behaviors that seem like baby might be sick are normal for infants. It’s important to understand the difference between normal behaviors and ones indicating sickness.
    • Common infant behaviors like hiccups, sneezing, spitting up, or having mild congestion of the nostrils are all normal.
    • Colic isn’t an illness; it is a pattern that often occurs in babies. Always go to your baby each time he cries, even if you are exhausted. This teaches him that he can trust you, and it makes him feel safe and secure.
    • Call your doctor if your baby:
      • Won’t eat for two feedings in a row
      • Has fewer than six wet diapers in 24 hours
      • Has a fever of 101°F or more
      • Has severe, watery diarrhea
      • Vomits everything eaten
      • Is very fussy and won’t settle down when held
      • Is sleepy and not interested in eating
      • Has skin rashes or dramatic changes in skin color
  • Be prepared for when your baby is sick by:
    • Keeping important phone numbers stored in your phone and on your refrigerator, including after hours and advice line numbers.
    • Creating an emergency plan and sharing it with your family, neighbors, close friends, and child care provider.
    • Not relying only on advice from friends or relatives (they are well-meaning but often have incorrect information).
    • Taking a first-aid certification class for infants and children.
  • If you or others in your home smoke and are not ready to quit, remember:
    • Always step outside and away from your baby when you smoke.
    • Never smoke inside your home or car.
    • Change your clothes if possible and wash your hands before picking up or playing with your baby.
  • Since babies tend to put everything in their mouth, it’s a good idea to take a class on infant CPR and first aid.

Create healthy habits for your family and your toddler as you grow together.
  • Schedule well child visits, your doctor will check your child’s overall healthy as well as their growth and development by checking reflexes, heart health, and progress in weight and height gain.
  • Washing hands kills germs and prevents disease. It is important for young children to understand why washing and not sneezing into their hands will keep them healthy. Take a look at this PBS video to show them how.
  • Children who participate in daily physical activities and eat a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, and low in sugar and fat have a better chance of staying healthy.
  • As an adult, it’s important to model an active lifestyle for your child so he can see how fun and healthy it is to exercise each day. Check out this PBS video to learn how.
  • When your child is sick, sports drinks can help her feel better by providing needed electrolytes and calories. However, if your child is healthy, stick with plain water. Water energizes muscles, helps get rid of toxins in the body, and keeps you hydrated.
  • You know your child best, if you feel something is wrong call your healthcare provider.
  • Remember that one of the most important things you can do for the child in your care is to take care of your own emotional and physical health. You may even need to remind other adults that you need some time for yourself, or other support.

Get more parenting tips, games, and other resources, based on the age of your child, sent right to your cell phone 2-5 times a week for FREE with Bright by Text. Text BRIGHT to 274448 to sign up!

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Festivities with Family

December: Building Relationships

By Bright by Three - December 1, 2018

You can also check out this blog post on Denver's top mom blog, Mile High Mamas.

Happy holidays to all you parents and caregivers. This jolly season is a great chance to spend time with your child and strengthen those family bonds that promote healthy growth and brain development. Festivities with the family can certainly be a handful, but your children get the opportunity to meet and interact with extended family, close friends and important loved ones who can also be instrumental in shaping their childhood. Here are some tips to stimulate family engagement to make sure children feel loved and understood, so they can form that bond with their first teachers--you, your family and friends!

New family and friends in a child’s life helps them learn about the world and the relationships around them.
  • Tell family stories with puppets to increase her knowledge of relationships. Here’s a video to show you how!
  • When you are having a meal with your family, sing the “Hello Everybody” song to each person. You sing, “Hello (the person’s name). How are you today?” and then the person answers. Have your child lead the song too!
  • Family, friends, & neighbors play a huge role in caring for kids. All can create fun learning moments every day! Check out this Sesame Street video to find out why these people are so important.
  • It is normal for young ones to be shy around new friends. Encourage him and build his confidence.
    • During an interaction with a new face hold your baby securely while you greet the person.
    • Help him touch the person’s hand or offer the new the friend a toy.  
    • Invite the new friend to give him a toy, encouraging them to share a toy back and forth.
    • If your child becomes comfortable being held by a new friend, make sure they stay close to you so he will feel safe and have the option to return to you.
    • Family and friends play an important role, but your relationship with them as their parent or key caregiver is crucial to all their learning and development. Here are some great ways to strengthen that bond.

In the first few months of life, your baby needs your immediate attention so she can learn to trust you.
  • Research shows that creating a secure attachment between you and your baby has a direct effect on how she thinks about learning, relationships, and the world in general.
  • When you quickly and consistently meet your newborn’s needs, he will learn there is someone who cares for him, and he is worth being cared for.
  • A child who trusts is able to explore and learn because he knows he has a safe place to return to: you!
  • You can talk to your child about anything! Use her name as you share face time telling her about the world around her.  

Babies’ brains are developing fast, here’s how you can strengthen relational bonds, and encourage their learning.
  • Talk a lot with your baby. Label and narrate. “You’re eating an orange carrot!” Give her time to respond.
  • Respond to her communications. See how long you can keep a back-and-forth conversation (even if it’s babbling) going.
  • Give your baby time to observe what you’re doing and then copy you.
  • Play with your baby by giving him safe toys to touch and explore. Toys like rattles can be good at teaching cause and effect. He shakes it, it make noise.   
Growing toddlers still need consistent support and encouragement from you. Keep giving your child attention even as they become more independent.
  • For busy parents, it can be easy to just talk to children only when they are doing something wrong. But it is really important to remember to say good things when a child is being good too! Encouragement helps kids learn, but it takes a lot of practice!
  • To guide children toward good behavior:
    • Praise and reward children for good behavior.
    • If she is doing something bad, direct her attention to something good.
    • Beware the word “don’t.” Be sure to teach and show your child what you want him to do.
  • Here are some ways to praise your child that strengthen their relationship with you:
    • Use “I like” statements. “I like what you are doing. I like it when you _____.”
    • Praise her effort. “You can do it. Keep trying.”
    • Praise his cooperation. “Good job helping with ____.”
    • Use any chance you get to encourage your child!
    • Use “we”. This magic word makes children like to feel like they are part of a team! “We did it!”

Get more parenting tips, games, and other resources, based on the age of your child, sent right to your cell phone 2-5 times a week for FREE with Bright by Text. Text BRIGHT to 274448 to sign up!

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Sparking Creativity

October: Encouraging Creative Thinking

By Bright by Three - October 1, 2018

You can also check out this blog post on Denver's top mom blog, Mile High Mamas.

Children need to express themselves through creative outlets like drawing, singing and playing pretend to stimulate brain development. We’re not talking baby modern art prodigies here -- simple games and activities can inspire curiosity in young minds. Being creative encourages kids to take risks and cultivate their personality which helps them feel more confident as they grow. Set them on the path for success young with these tips to spark creativity.

From birth to twelve months, your child will be creating millions of neural connections each day and you can promote this growth by engaging in fun activities.
  1. Encourage your child to explore your face. Name the different parts of your face as he touches them to help him learn.
  2. When you’re child encounters a toy or object, does she touch it? Shake it? Bang it? Taste it? Talk to her about what she is doing, “You shook the rattle and made a sound.”
  3. Your child may not be walking or talking yet, but with your help, they can definitely boogie so turn on some music.
Between 12 months and three years old, children start use tools around them to engage with their world.
  1. Writing starts with scribbling! Encourage your child to draw with crayons or even with sticks in the sand. Check out this video to learn why it’s important.
  2. Collect a variety of lids, plates, or boxes of different shapes. Sit at the table with your child on your lap, and show him how to trace one of the objects with his finger. Then, give him a crayon or pencil to trace around the object onto a piece of paper.
  3. Playing dress up lets your child make decisions and have fun. This activity will build your child’s self-esteem as you accept and encourage her choices.
  4. Teach your child the names of body parts in both Spanish and English with this fun song.
  5. Children learn about themselves and the world through open-ended play - play that doesn't have rules or adult reasons. One way to support this is to have a box of random objects available for your child to use. You can make a trip to the thrift store, trade materials with another family, save wrapping paper and bows, collect rocks and leaves from the outdoors - the options are endless.
  6. Tape a large piece of paper to the table and let your child draw with a crayon while you talk to him about what he creates. Even imitate what he draws--if he draws a red curving line, do the same.
Imagination and creativity are a huge part of your child’s preschool years.
  1. Expect your child to tell stories and sing songs as a means to communicate and navigate the world. This video clues you in on all the exciting milestones they’ll be reaching.
  2. Help your child develop creative fluency and flexible thinking. One fun way to do that is to take an ordinary household object, like an empty paper towel roll or wooden spoon, and have your child think of all the possible things that could be made out of that item. For example, an empty paper towel roll could become
  • A telescope
  • A magic wand
  • A tunnel for toy cars to drive through
  • What else?
  1. You can do many things to encourage a child's natural creative spirit. Support their curiosity: if a child asks a question and you don't know the answer (or even if you do), ask the child what they think the answer might be and why; then find out together.
  2. Help frame "mistakes" as "opportunities to learn." A child will have much more resilience in school if they know that they will sometimes make mistakes along the way as part of learning.
Get more parenting tips, games, and other resources, based on the age of your child, sent right to your cell phone 2-5 times a week for FREE with Bright by Text. Text BRIGHT to 274448 to sign up!
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