Helpful Hints for Mums and Dads
We know being a parent isn't easy - that's why we've put together some helpful hints to help you juggle everything and get things done. Every month we'll be adding more tips here, so you can be sure to have a solid supply of tricks up your sleeve! Also, be sure to check out our range of exclusive free play ideas - Almost all of them don't need any special kit, just you and a child or two. Endless hours of fun - perfect for those rainy days ahead.
Dot to dot
For early writing experiments, you can draw ‘dot to dot’ letters for your child to trace over. You can start with their name and other family names, then try favourite animals or toys for example. Your child can draw a picture and you can write the dotty name underneath for your child to complete, then hang on the wall with pride!
Lay newspaper or a big roll of paper out on the floor or outside on the patio and paint your child’s foot with paint, or dip it in ‘finger’ paint. Your child can enjoy making a toddle trail, and you can keep a little to marvel later at how much they’ve grown!
As your baby grows, offering a commentary and having (one-sided at first) conversations with your baby will help them learn to understand what you’re saying and encourage them to communicate with you. So don’t feel embarrassed if you chat with your baby all day when its just the two of you – you’re giving your baby a great grounding in how to talk.
Giving your child their own handy notebook and pencils is a good way of encouraging their creative urges. They can enjoy turning the pages (quite a challenge for little fingers) and trying out colours, shapes and scribbles on each page. A welcome distraction when you’re out and about and there’s not much happening. Great for travel!
If your baby doesn’t enjoy having his or her teeth (or tooth!) brushed, try making it a fun part of bathtime. You can also try using a colourful animal or character mitt on your hand to make it more of a game than a chore.
Fresh air for a good mood
Even the most organised and experienced parent can run out of ideas when faced with a tantruming toddler. Once you’ve gone through the basics of checking if your child is hungry, thirsty or tired and are still none the wiser, try a quick dose of fresh air. Bundle your child into the buggy and head round the block for just 5 or 10 minutes. It works wonders for cheering your toddler – and clearing your head
New kid on the block
You can help your child get used to having a new sibling by allowing them to open the new baby’s presents, and encouraging them to get as involved as they want to with the baby’s care, by folding a blanket or fetching a toy for example.
Sharing the caring
If you’ve both hands full making Christmas lunch, hand the job of feeding your baby to family member. If your baby has already eaten they can enjoy the family gathering without feeling hungry, or have a well-earned nap in their cot while the big lunch is eaten.
Enjoying family meals
Sit your child down with the rest of the family for mealtimes. Even if they aren’t eating exactly the same food as everyone else yet, they’ll understand that mealtimes are enjoyable and sociable times for everyone to join in with, and they can get in some vital self-feeding practice too.
Play right away
You can open your two-year-old’s toys up and take off all the safety tags before you wrap them up so they can ‘play straight away’ as soon as the paper is off. It’s easier to do it one quiet evening alone rather than when your excited toddler can’t wait to play with their fantastic new HappyLand!
Simple ‘n’ seasonal
You don’t have to have special craft kit to make Christmas decorations. Simply let your child draw whatever they like on card, help them cut it out with safe scissors and hang it on the tree with ribbon. Easy homemade decs make a tree extra special, and help channel some of that Christmas countdown excitement ...
Keeping a selection of little musical rattles, bells and squeakers in your changing bag can make your toddler happy - and less wriggly - while you change their nappy when you're out and about. Changing can be an excuse for a quick song, any time any place anywhere!
Plastic 'croc'-style shoes are useful for potty training, as they can be rinsed and dried easily when you're out. Having plenty of cheap pants mean that if the accident's a messy one you can throw the pants away, rather than having to face them when you get home.
New toys, all year round!
Bag up toys that your child has lost interest in and hide them in a cupboard. Bring them out a few months later on a rainy day and your child will love rediscovering them. Rotating toys keeps the number you have out under control too: fewer to tidy up - and fewer to trip over.
Bash bash bash!
This is a great play 'recipe' for when you want to get on with some cooking. Take one wooden spoon, one pan and one baby. Turn the pan upside down, give the spoon to the baby and encourage them to get bashing. A lovely, noisy pastime that will keep them going for ages
Need 10 minutes of quiet to make a phone call? Intrigue your toddler with a box of delights. Simply fill a shoe box or wicker basket with safe bits and pieces - including those stray toys waiting to trip you up. Try a large ball, old purse or handbag, hat, cardboard tube, car, rainmaker, wooden spoon or colander...
Give your child choices when you don't mind the outcome, e.g. "Would you prefer the green or yellow shorts?" "Strawberry or Apricot yoghurt?". Saving orders for when it really matters can help your child feel happy that they have some control.
This is an easy bit of creative 'recycling'. Get an old catalogue, safe scissors and glue. Let the kids cut out the pictures they like best. Then they can stick them down on paper to make collages. You can even laminate them to keep or use as placemats. It's a creative way to reuse your old Early Learning Centre catalogues!