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How to Build Your Toddler’s Independence for School

10 tips to send baby off confident and prepared.

How to Build Your Toddler’s Independence for School
*We’ve partnered with Skip Hop to help you make it through Back to School season and beyond. Whether you’re a first time mom or a veteran parent, sending your toddler off to school for the first time can be scary and emotional. Maybe you’re worried your kid will be shy, or the teacher won’t care for your baby the way you do. Maybe your child is experiencing some sad or anxious feelings about school….or maybe you are! After all, going off to school is not just a new adventure for them, but a new one for parents as well. As a parent, though, it’s your job to get your kid excited for the first day of school so they can feel confident and prepared. And whether you want to believe it not, most kids are more independent and ready for school than you think. Here's 10 expert tips to help you send your kid out into the great big world confident and prepared. 1. Make a Pre-First Day Visit: Prior to the first day of school, visit the school and check out your kid’s classroom. Get your kid familiar with what the building looks like and let them play on the school playground or sit in the front yard. You can even let your child wear his or her new backpack as “practice.” These visits increase your child’s comfort in their new setting. 2. Let Your Child Pick Out Supplies: Get your kid excited and involved by letting them choose a new backpack, insulated soft lunchbox or other school supplies. A small backpack is best so your child can carry it themselves and make sure to let your kid pick one based on his or her favorite color or style to get him or her excited and ready for the first day. 3. Choose Items that Encourage Independence: Preschool is about gaining independence and learning to master things on their own. Let your kid choose a lunch kit they are able to open and close themselves. Also, you can use a booster chair at home to transition your child out of the high chair, and get them used to sitting independently. They'll be pleasantly surprised when the chairs in their classroom are just their size, no booster chair needed! Encourage basic self-care skills by dressing your kid in clothing they can take on and off themselves. Rompers are adorable, but terrible for potty breaks. High-tops with laces may look cool, but your kid needs to be able to take on and off their own shoes. Eating, dressing and going to the bathroom independently are big steps in preschool and most kids are excited to show their parents that they can do things all by themselves. 4. Talk about Morning Routines: Kids find comfort in routines. Make a picture board or a chart that outlines the few things they will need to do each day before leaving for school: wake up, have breakfast, get dressed, brush their teeth and hair, put on shoes and pack their backpacks. When your kid knows what to expect each day, it will make the mornings smoother for you and calmer for them. 5. Explain How the School Day Will Go: Talk to your child about who their teachers will be, what the schedule of activities during the day will flow like, and who will be there for pick up. For many kids, preschool is the first time they are sitting with other kids at lunch or napping on cots surrounded by others. Talking about the logistics of the classroom and the routine of the day will help them feel prepared. 6. Set-up Playdates in Advance: Use your class list or call the school for a recommendation for a play date before school begins. Seeing a friendly face on the first day will help your kid feel more comfortable breaking away from you. 7. Include Comfort Items: A beloved book, sippy cup with your child’s favorite animal character or a picture of your family can go a long way in easing your child’s nerves and getting them comfortable. (Be sure to ask your school about any restrictions on bringing toys or stuffed animals from home!) 8. Get Teachers Involved: Get to know your teachers and provide them with some information about your child. You will be partners in your child’s development, so make sure to chat, smile and engage. Your kid will feel more comfortable separating from you if they get a good feeling about their teacher. 9. Read Up: There is no shortage of great books about going to school for the first time. Some favorites include A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon, Llama Llama Misses Mama and Maisy Goes to Preschool. Elmo and Daniel Tiger also have books where they share their feelings and preschool experience. Reading books and sharing stories will help your kid get excited for and comfortable about the new experience. 10. Plan Your Goodbyes: Plan out a goodbye ritual so your kid knows what to expect at drop off. Hovering, lingering or sneaking away can all cause more tears so keep goodbyes short, sweet and positive. I promise, your kid is more ready for school than you think!

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Jill Ceder is psychotherapist and writer working with children and families in Brooklyn. Utilizing child development research, mindfulness and practical knowledge, she helps parents navigate the challenges of raising toddlers and teenagers. You can read more of her writing on her website www.jillceder.com Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids for Well Rounded.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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"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.

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