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Toddler Tuesday: DIYs by Tinkerlab

The founder of Tinkerlab gets us ready for some indoor days with these easy-breezy baby and toddler DIYs.

Toddler Tuesday: DIYs by Tinkerlab

Staying sane with more than one child is all kinds of challenging, especially when it comes to artistic endeavors. Maybe you have a curious baby who unintentionally sabotages the hard work that an older sibling puts into a drawing, or perhaps you value a tidy-ish home and could use some ideas for creative projects that won't destroy your living spaces. One solution, of course, is to force a long nap upon the family. When that doesn't work (and really, how often does it?), these low-mess, easy-to-set-up activities might do just the trick.

I value my free time (and a moderately clean house), so I always have my eye out for simple activities that engage my active girls, don't require a lot of fancy materials and are easy to contain. I hope you'll find something in this list that makes your mornings or afternoons more easy-breezy than whiny-grumpy.

High chair activities for the Baby

My kids are about two years apart. When my older daughter was 3, she wanted to do a print-making activity, but I was worried that her little sister would destroy all of her hard work. Not intentionally, of course, but she just wanted to make art too, I'm sure! So I placed the baby in her high chair to give her free reign to explore her own art project without disturbing her big sister. Once safe and sound (and contained), she could:

  • Make a batch of yogurt + food coloring paint. Offer this to your baby to safely explore on the high chair tray.
  • Make small amounts of "vegetable paint " by blending up mashed peas or carrots.
  • Try painting by setting up an ice cube tray filled with water with a few drops of food coloring, a brush, and a piece of paper taped to the high chair table.
  • Invite your older baby to chop butter with a dull butter knife or popsicle stick.
  • Easy clean art activities for toddler while baby is up high

    These art projects require very few materials, and clean-up is a snap.

  • Leaves and Glue. Supplies needed: white glue, paint brush, paper, glue.
  • Doilies and Scissors. Supplies needed: Paper doilies, scissors, tape.
  • Office Stickers and Hand-drawn Frames. Supplies needed: Colorful office stickers, paper, marker.
  • Contact Paper Collage. Supplies needed: Clear contact paper (sticky-back shelf liner), scraps of paper
  • Messy sensory activities for toddler while baby is up high

    While some of these activities are borderline messy, toddlers can be entertained by sensory activities for a long while. The extra cleanup is worth the head space that it affords you. Aside from the first activity (play with a bowl of water), these projects are best attempted while your baby is contained in a highchair activity or during baby's nap time. To aid with clean-up, set these activities up over a large blanket, patio, or on an easy-to-clean floor. Please use your best judgement and watch your child carefully if you offer small materials such as dry rice or wheat berries.

  • Give your child a deep bowl of water with scoopers such as measuring spoons or little bowls.
  • Set up a large under-the-bed style tub full of wheat berries or rainbow rice. Add some small toys, scoopers, and funnels for exploring the phenomena of filling containers and dumping them out.
  • Put your child in the bathtub with some washable bathtub crayons.
  • Mix flour and water or cornstarch and water in a large plastic container. Invite your child to squish these around, pour, and scoop.
  • If you like these activities, check out my new book: TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors.

    Rachelle Doorley is an artist and educator, mom to two girls, and founder of the popular children's creativity blog, TinkerLab.com . She is also the author of TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors (Roost Books, 2014) and has written articles on creativity and arts education for School Arts Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, and FamilyFun Magazine. Rachelle lives in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and her two curious daughters, where she leads workshops on visual thinking and hands-on creativity.

    We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

    As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

    Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


    A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

    HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

    The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

    $239.99

    A smart swing for your baby

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

    $219.99

    A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

    Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

    No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

    $379.99

    A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

    Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

    What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

    $29.99

    A nursery wherever you need it

    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

    During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

    $99.99

    A little help for stuffy noses

    Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

    Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

    $15.99

    A way to keep an eye on your baby

    VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

    Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

    $79.99

    A bassinet for hands-free rocking

    Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

    Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

    $99.99

    An easy way to contain diaper smells

    Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

    Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

    $24.99

    A white noise machine that pulls double duty

    Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

    A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

    $59.99

    And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

    Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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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.

    $79

    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.

    $30

    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.

    $32

    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.

    $37

    The Snoo bassinet

    Snoo

    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!

    $1295

    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.

    $59.99

    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!

    $46.99

    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.

    $259.00

    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.

    $27.95

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

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    Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

    But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

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