Your new toddler healthy eating strategy: Make it fun, not sneaky

When kids get involved with their food choices, healthy eating seems a lot more exciting. ?

Your new toddler healthy eating strategy: Make it fun, not sneaky

What happens when a foodie with a background in software has a baby? She becomes the Vice President of Marketing/ Deputy to the President of a global, health savvy food brand, of course!

Crystal Black-Davis’ path to where she is hasn’t always been straight. In fact, even her journey to motherhood was downright unconventional: Convinced that having a baby wasn't for her, Crystal wrote an article in 2010 called, “Balancing Act: I’m Not Ready For Kids”, published by Essence Magazine. One month later, she found out she was pregnant.

“I knew at that point that God saw it fit for this to happen. I never would have done it on my own. [My son] Elijah has been the biggest blessing to me.”

At the end of the day, she wouldn’t have it any other way—and having her bouncing baby boy didn’t slow Crystal’s career down for long.

Now the driving force behind Loacker, a global snack brand, Crystal works hard to balance motherhood and leading a huge corporation. As she says, it’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding.

As a food lover-turned-mother, Crystal is passionate about providing healthy options for families on the go. Because as so many of us know, the healthy toddler and kid friendly snack—one that they actually enjoy—is an elusive creature.

She’s here to help! Here are Crystal’s six steps to a killer snacking game plan.

1. It starts at the store

Crystal: Try including healthier snack items on the grocery list. Failing to plan is planning to fail! Having and sticking to your list prevents less healthier impulse purchases while shopping and is the first step towards healthy home snacking.

2. Prep and portion control ahead of time for quick grab and go snacking

Crystal: Bust out those Tupperware containers and Ziplock bags. Preparing your snacks every couple of days will not only help your kids access easy-to-grab snacks, but will keep you on track as well.

3. Involve your child in snack preparation

Crystal: Kids love to feel helpful. Give them a “responsibility,” like peeling oranges and bananas, and make snack preparation into quality family time.

Then, when it comes to snack time, let them arrange items on their own snack platter which gives them a sense of independence.

4. Make healthy fun

Crystal: Kids love building things, so snacks like fruit kabobs on pretzel sticks work really well! Little ones also love bright colors so try creating a rainbow out of fruit.

5. Balance the sweet with savory

Crystal: Give them the best of both worlds. Providing both taste sensations at once seems to satisfy hungry after-school stomachs. For example, the classic peanut butter on celery is a great, protein packed snack that offers both sweet and savory flavors.

6. Provide better-for-you options

Crystal: Offering packaged snacks, (like our Loacker wafers) that have natural ingredients and no additives, allow kids to indulge in snack favorites like cookies. Then, try to include those quick and easy ingredients into fun recipes that incorporate fruits, such as parfaits and “fruit sandwiches” are fun, interactive and satisfying.

Want more from the incredible-ness that is Crystal? Read on for more Motherly insights.

How do you make your mornings run smoothly?

Crystal: I thrive on routine. I could not function if I didn't set the alarm clock on my iPhone to go off every 15-20 minutes. It keeps me on time and lets me know exactly what should be happening at every chime.

A typical morning in my life looks like this:

4:45 Alarm (snooze)

4:55 Wake

5:00-5:10 Stretch and Tibetans

5:10-5:30 Morning workout at home

5:30-6:30 My "get ready" rime

6:30-7:00 Elijah "get ready" time

7:00-7:30 Breakfast

7:30 Out the door to take Elijah to school

The life hack or tip that changed my life...

Crystal: My life hack is to loosen the grip and allow Elijah to become more independent. As a five-year-old, he now showers himself (with minimal assistance), gets his own water and snacks from the fridge, picks out his clothes and dresses himself. It makes my life easier and makes him feel like a big boy which makes both of us proud.

What superpower have you discovered as a mom?

Crystal: I have a hidden stamina reserve that seems to kick in exactly when I need it the most. The demands of my career are great and when I come home, I also have the important demands of managing my household.

Some nights I lie in bed and I'm literally in awe because I have no clue how I was able to accomplish all that I did that day/week/month. I hold dual roles at my company serving as Executive Vice President and Vice President of Marketing, I travel for work roughly two weeks out of every month, including frequent trips to our HQ in Italy at minimum every quarter.

Despite my busy schedule and corporate responsibility (and desire to collapse in the bed), I still make it a priority to exercise regularly (my Wednesday night Zumba class is like therapy), cook dinner throughout the week, read bedtime stories with my son every night, maintain best friend status with my husband, write content for my upcoming blog—and the list goes on and on.

This quote inspires me...

Crystal: “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” —Oprah Winfrey

To me, Motherly means...

Crystal: Being the best mother that only you can be. Tailoring your approach to motherhood to what works best for you and your reality, i.e., the temperament of your child, career demands, parenting support. Being confident at all times, but never afraid to ask for assistance when needed. Simply being there for your child at every turn: the wins, losses, happiness, heartbreaks, stomach flus, spelling bees, teen mood swings and toddler kisses. Consistently showing your child that if there is no one else, they can count on Mom to be in their corner.

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10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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