7 fun activities to inspire your tot’s creativity

Spark your little one’s budding imagination with a few crazy-easy ideas      

7 fun activities to
inspire your tot’s creativity

Mix media.

Provide your tot with possibilities to explore a variety of creative outlets and media.

From crayons to Play-Doh, Magic Sand to sidewalk chalk, different artistic media allow for different forms of creative expression.

Is your tot a budding chef or is a life in architectural engineering more up her alley? Only time will tell…but your tot will appreciate having the opportunity to choose the creative activities she loves. (And you might get a sneak peek into her future passions by learning about what forms of art she craves now.)

Make it up as you go.

The next time you are bopping around town with your tot, make up a few ad-lib stories on the fly. Take note of something humdrum and turn it into a fantastical story.


“You see that dog over there? I was in a café the other day and that dog walked up to me and said hello! You won’t believe what happened next…”

Once your child is verbal, include him in the story-telling process. Besides calming even the most restless of kiddos, this fun activity promotes visualization, language development, and creation.

Make a mess…smartly.

Let your child explore a variety of textures with his hands (or even feet!). Yes, this means potentially messy media.

To save you oodles of time cleaning later, try painting with shaving cream in the bathtub, making mud pies outside (preferably near a water hose), or getting wiggly with Jell-O in the high chair. Better yet, make a fresh batch of “CleanMud” with this super-easy recipe!

Commit time to craftiness.

Set aside time once or twice a week for letting your child get crafty with it. All the better if you have a few minutes to have some fun yourself. Art therapy can be a fabulous stress-reliever!

To get started with a few easy as pie (and cleaner than mud pie) activities, try Ziploc finger painting or oatmeal process art. Thank you, Pinterest!

Just remember to give your tot plenty of time to finish his craft. According to the Reggio-Emilia learning philosophy, children need ample time to engage in creative interests.

If you are worried about craft time eating into dinner time, set up your child’s activity within sight of the kitchen so you can both work on your own creative pursuits…yes, we consider defrosting a pizza to be creative.We’ve got your back, mama!

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Not every day with baby has to make Picasso jealous. Life often rushes by us with little regard for leisurely pastimes. Don’t beat yourself up about it. We can’t all be Pinterest pros.

The most important thing to remember about promoting a love of creativity and art is to foster self-confidence in your little one. That means no matter how tempting it might be, try your best to applaud your child’s art, rather than “fix” it.

Whether the colors are outside the lines or the macaroni noodles are glued on crooked, let your child know that you value her artistic perspective and creative eye by respecting her work as her own.

Inspiration made easy.

If your child is anything like mine, he probably isn’t too persnickety about his creative surroundings. A far cry from Matisse, children don’t need a Mediterranean backdrop in the south of France for a bit of inspiration.

Heck, my son is happy to sit in a cardboard box and scribble with markers. (Bonus: The box sets a “boundary” for keeping markers off the walls!)

If you are feeling creative yourself, you could also consider devising a few simple “imagination stations” in baby’s play room or nursery. From a play kitchen to a reading nook, or a drawing easel to a block-building corner, the possibilities are limitless. Switch them up from time to time to keep your tot intrigued.

Destination: Imagination.

To truly open up your child to new experiences of creativity, it helps to first broaden your definition of creativity. Any form of imaginative or symbolic play will promote your child’s inner creativity.

Invite your tot’s stuffed animals to teatime or make Play-Doh macarons. Build intricate train tracks or push your little racecar driver around in her—now brightly colored—cardboard box.

Find inspiration wherever you may be.

There’s no reason to limit artistic activities to the home. In today’s hustle and bustle, there are plenty of ways to fill on-the-go time with creativity. Try a travel-friendly magnetic drawing board or waterpaint pad in the car or stroller.

The opportunity to engage in creative pursuits allows our children to openly express their feelings and build problem-solving skills. Plus, getting a glimpse at their creative expressions allows us busy mamas to glean a little insight into our tots’ inner workings.

Of course, when we are faced with the daily grind of cleaning, cooking, working and everything in between, it can be easy to let time for creative expression slip through our fingers. (There are only so many hours in a day, after all!)

For a few stress-free ways to promote creativitya nd imagination in your tot, look no further!

As a developmental psychologist,I promise, the precious time lost will be worth it—and you may even score a few minutes to cook dinner in peace if your babe is engrossed in her latest masterpiece.

Here’s where to get started—

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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