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Development
We were about to head into the libary on Thursday evening when the cherry-blossom trees out back beckoned to us, rendering the world pink and perfumed.They were too glorious to ignore, and Archie was snoozing contentedly in his carseat, so we paused our plans and played beneath their branches. It was heavenly.Eventually we headed inside and enjoyed the library's offerings -- putting on a puppet show, working a few puzzles and reading Thumbalina. But that half hour spent luxuriating... more
We spent Friday afternoon at the Minnesota Landsape Arboretum outside Chaska taking in thousands of brilliant tulips. A total of 38,000 bulbs have been planted there, and now is the time to go! The daffodils are also in bloom, and the crabapple trees have blossomed, casting their perfume across the gardens. Throw in a favorable forecast ... more
Wendell Sherman-Strand, 5, of Minneapolis — who vacationed out West with his family of five this past summer — has an extremely rare genetic condition.Wendell was born in 2011 as a healthy baby. After his two-month checkup, his parents Katie Sherman and John Strand headed to northern Minnesota with their toddler, Bjorn, and infant Wendell to spend... more
Buying toys for kids with autism spectrum disorder can be tricky, especially when so many item are marketed as “sensory”or ASD friendly. Fortunately, local families have a special resource for guidance in this area: Creative Kidstuff — a local toy store with seven locations in the Twin Cities, plus online sales — has partnered with St. David’... more
Q: My husband and I have started the discussion of what type of milk our son (10 months) will drink when we switch from formula to milk. My husband is pretty set on not giving him dairy milk, but I’m not convinced soy, almond and other sources of “milk” are such a good idea. Any suggestions?A: Milk types can be divided into two categories — plant-... more
Q: Our daughter is 6 and still isn’t sleeping through the night!  A: Sleep problems are common in kids. Such disturbances in sleep — falling asleep, staying asleep, awakening early and restless sleep — can impact the whole family, not just at night, but throughout the day. While there are many learned behavioral issues that can lead to... more
In Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers and Change Makers, a mother of two thriving entrepreneurs shares stories from moms of more than 50 of today’s most successful innovators and — based on her findings — provides rules for raising confident, fearless, self-made men and women.$18.95 • newharbinger.com more
Being a stay-at-home parent was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. In spite of the exhaustion, exasperation and constant haggling with my boys over everything from what they ate to what they wore, I enjoyed those years spent hanging out full time with them — and re-falling in love with them every day. I wouldn’t trade them... more
Archie is two months old today! It feels like he reached that milestone more quickly than either of the girls.He is such a sweet baby, full of smiles that utterly disarm. He's a "chub," as my grandpa so amusingly (and aptly) put it at Archie's baptism party. He clocks in at a whopping 14 lbs. 12 oz., which puts him in the 98th percentile --... more
This New York Times bestseller — and a Top 10 Book of the Year, according to Time — attempts to bridge the generation gap between today’s parents and their girls, drawing on in-depth interviews with more than 70 young women, plus input from a wide range of psychologists, academics and experts to reveal “hidden truths, hard lessons and important... more
With the advent of my youngest starting high school on the way, I can’t help thinking how ready I feel for her new adventure. With the first, it’s a guessing game, isn’t it? We so hope we’re getting it right. Then we — after one (or several) mistakes — start to seriously question things: Could I have done that better? If I had to do... more
The Push and Pull UFO is like a fidget toy for babies age 6 months and up.Four colorful rods with buttons on each end slide back and forth to make engaging clicking noises, offering simple lessons in cause and effect.A button in the middle of the spacecraft emits soft squeaks when pushed just right, encouraging fine motor skills.$9 • peopletoy.co... more
I feel a little ashamed that I haven’t written about adoption until now. I think the unrelenting nature of the whole parenthood thing has made me a bit self-absorbed and tunnel vision-y. Curiosity about the world outside my own little pinkeye factory became just another casualty of my stumbling-through-the-dark parenting style.... more
Last month, many parents were bummed to hear that a beloved longtime kid-shoe purveyor — Massachusetts-based Stride Rite — was closing all of its corporate locations in late April, including the store at Southdale, and outlets in Eagan and Albertville. But we have good news: The locally owned Stride Rite store at Rosedale Center (listed... more
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism, according to the National Autism Association, due to kids’ tendency to wander and seek isolation — often in unsafe environments — when overstimulated by crowds.To combat this high risk, Sonja Brown, six years ago, founded a unique swimming school in Minnetonka — Swim Possible —... more
We took our babies to see the farm babies at the Minnesota Zoo, and they were a hit!Watching the black lambs prance around was hysterical. It's almost as if they defy gravity.The goats were Janie's favorite. It costs just 50 cents to feed them -- a memorable experience for a toddler. We all enjoyed seeing the calves and hearing Ted's stories... more
During my daughter’s last hospital stay, I received a tube, a bottle and a few jars of luxury hand cream — lavender-, grapefruit- and musk-scented emollients, in fancy, flowery packaging. It’s a thing. When people want to be supportive during a difficult time, they give you something that smells pretty. I knew about the casseroles, the... more
First there was the emergency C-section, a sudden and traumatic experience on its own. Then they found out their son was born, much to their surprise, with Down syndrome. They were filled with many different emotions at first, including shock, not knowing how to process the diagnosis. But life went on. And they fell in love with... more
Wondering about your child’s development is an everyday part of parenting. Is your daughter talking as much as other children her age? Is your son walking or moving around like his friends?It’s common for parents to compare their children to others. But it can be difficult to understand what might be a developmental concern and what might be... more
It’s almost farmers market season.And this insanely colorful, interactive book — from the author of the wonderful Cooking Class for kids — is the perfect companion for little ones, including 100 stickers, 50-plus punch-out paper fruits, veggies and flowers and activities such as mazes, matching games and adorable craft projects.There’s even an eat... more
One of the coolest things about toddler parenting is the constant newness — new milestones, new friends, new foods, new experiences. Particularly satisfying is finding a wonderful new place to explore. If you haven’t already, take a trip to Jensen Lake in Eagan. For the sake of discussing the toddler-friendly nature of this location... more
Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!This year we’re celebrated on May 14. That means, if we’re lucky, on this day we’ll be honored with handmade cards and gifts from our little ones.We might even receive special recognition from the father of our children or others who are supporting us in our mothering experience.Mother’s Day can be a trigger for mixed... more
Q: I keep hearing about pinworms: How will we know if our kid gets them?A: Many aspects of pinworms — how to find them and how they’re spread — are very unpleasant. Fortunately, pinworms usually aren’t a serious health issue. These creatures are small, thin worms that live in the intestinal tract. When an adult worm is ready to lay eggs, she... more
Q: Who should parents call if they suspect abuse at daycare?A: If you ever have any concerns that your child has been abused or neglected by a caregiver, contact your child’s doctor right away for advice on what to do next. This may involve an immediate office visit. If the issue is something that goes beyond what a doctor’s office can handle —... more
More than 40 percent of mothers choose to stay at home for a significant amount of time after having children.Reentering the workforce, however, can be a bear.In Moms For Hire: 8 Steps to Kickstart Your Next Career, L.A. film and television producer (and single mother of four) Deborah Jelin Newmyer offers encouragement and solid advice as well as... more
Minneapolis author Eric Dregni remembers being sent to camp at age 6, kicking and screaming.Now a father of three, a college professor and the dean of the Italian Concordia Language Village, Lago del Bosco, in Hackensack, Dregni has published a humorous memoir about the challenges and rewards of overnight camp. You’re Sending Me Where? Dispatches... more
I recently helped organize a casual baby shower at a workplace gathering for a colleague. Thanks to a small group of creative teachers, we were able to pull off a Pinterest-worthy, Welcome Bébé-themed baby shower for our French-teacher mama-to-be. We shared pink cupcakes and offered words of advice over lunch with more than 100... more
Paul and Kristen Abdo (pictured above) of Edina were on their way home from a night out — trying to figure out how long they’d been away and if they had enough cash to pay their sitter — when they realized: There must be an easier way to not only pay the baby sitter, but also to book sitters.So the parents, who have three kids, created their very... more
When my best friend had her first child, she couldn’t believe how hard it was caring for a baby. She’d heard all the stories about sleepless nights, endless crying and nasty diaper blowouts.She was a longtime babysitting pro and an auntie, too. She was great with kids. She even worked with elementary school children for a living. She had all... more
Looking down at my newborn boy, whose slow, rhythmic sucking matched the metronome of my heartbeat, I felt tears forming at the corner of my eye. But these weren’t tears of joy; they were tears of pain. My neck, my back, my shoulders — everything — felt stiff, sore and tense. As much as I wanted to relax, I simply couldn’t. Instead of... more
As a working mom of four, I find mornings in our household can be a whirlwind. Breakfast is an important meal, but it can get bland with the monotonous repetition of boxed cereal, toast or, even worse, skipping breakfast altogether. Recently, I’ve been inspired by Kate Sullivan Morford’s new book: Rise and Shine: Better Breakfasts for... more
How old does a kid need to be before she starts learning where money really comes from?If she’s old enough to ask why your car looks older than her friend’s family car or why she can’t have her own phone or — why, oh, why — can’t you go out to her favorite restaurant every single night (or any of a million other spending-related questions) the... more
Yay! Target has launched a new collection of whimsical toddler apparel inspired by the most famous works of Dr. Seuss.Graphic tops, including some sold with matching pants, feature famous quotes and characters and bright patterns, too.Look also for an early reader biography — Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler — geared toward ages 4 to 8.$8.99 and up •... more
This new stacking toy features six gear shapes that spin — rather than slide straight down — a spiral pole.SpinAgain, geared toward ages 1 and older, earned a Parents’ Choice Awards Foundation nod in 2016. We like that it includes a reversible base that can be flat for stability or rounded for a more wobbly challenge; plus it has a removable... more
It’s the big “but …” of toddlerhood. As in, “This would be the best age, but ...” or “He’s such a sweet kid, but …”If there’s one thing that universally challenges toddler parents, it’s tantrums. Much like earthquakes, they vary in style, duration, intensity and frequency. Between the ages of 1 and 3, these fits are as certain as a fault line... more
Congratulations, you’re going to have a baby! Whether you’re giving birth or adopting, your life is going to change in a major way with the arrival of that little bundle of magic and tears. Yes, that’s what everyone says; and, yes, it’s a totally boring thing to say. And you won’t understand the profundity of that change until there... more
The best word to describe our adjustment to life with three kids -- all of whom are under age 4 -- is juggle. It's been a juggle. An ongoing education in accepting the good-enough. It's OK if the girls go to bed one night without brushing their teeth. In fact, one night after Archie was born, we didn't even bother with pajamas. They... more
The Midwest Fetal Care Center in Minneapolis was a marvel when it opened a year ago, offering life-saving fetal surgeries to babies in utero, including twins. Now the center has expanded its services to include open fetal surgeries with a special emphasis on treating spina bifida.Literally meaning “split spine,” the condition (which begins... more
Jennifer, a mom of two, was standing at the kitchen counter, slicing an apple for her son, Michael, when she heard a horrendous banging noise coming from the other side of the room. She immediately turned around to see her son smashing the door of the refrigerator with a baseball bat.“Stop! Stop!” she screamed as she wrestled the bat away... more
Here I am, 37 weeks pregnant, asking BabyNameWizard.com to generate sister names for Maria and Jane, my two daughters. Three come up on the lists for both girls: Elizabeth, Anna and Sarah. For a moment, I feel something loosen in me, a surrender: OK, we’ll just use one of these. We’ll let the experts decide for us. Only yesterday a... more
You’ve finally arrived. You’re the parent of teenagers. You’ve made it through the sleepless nights of babyhood, the tedious making of multiple lunches and snacks every morning. You share your home with somewhat independent creatures that may not keep a tidy bathroom, but show glimmers of their own future adultness. It’s hard not to make... more
Q: Can teething cause diarrhea or fever?  A: There are many misconceptions about symptoms associated with teething. Research has shown that low-grade fevers can be seen with teething. However, any temperature of 101 or higher very likely isn’t due to teething, but rather some sort of infection. Looser stools can... more
Social skills can be hard to master for anyone, and the unwritten rules that prescribe them in our fast-paced culture can be all too easy to miss for some children. Where should I sit in the cafeteria? What do I do when I get into a fight with one of my friends? What happens when no one seems to be interested in the same things I am? ... more
Sometimes art is all about the hype.Seven-year-old Cameron seemed to agree as he half-jokingly said, “I’m so scared, I’m so scared,” as he prepared to roll up a flat slab of clay to complete the main structure of his fairy house. After the two edges made contact, he beamed a relieved, triumphant smile. “I did it!” he exclaimed. His... more
When it comes to engaging kids in STEM concepts, ping pong balls — flying through the air at unpredictable speeds — can be an excellent place to start.That appears to be the case, at least, at The Works Museum in Bloomington, which offers a diverse array of educational summer day camps for ages 4 to 12.Here engineering and design concepts aren’t... more
“It’s a ’60s party from a ’60s movie!” yelled a group of YMCA Day Camp Manitou counselors. “See the surfers on their surfboards? Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na!” Hundreds of day campers — from the “wee backpackers” at age 4 to high schoolers volunteering as junior counselors — echoed back the tune, mimicking a surfing... more
Not all reading time must be filled with traditional, narrative stories.Each of these books tells its own kind of tale, ideal for parents and kids who like a challenge and time spent poring over beautiful printed pages. The Lost HouseThis is one of the hardest search-and-find books we’ve ever seen!Even after you’ve found everything hidden in... more
Q: Our preschooler has a really hard time sitting ‘crisscross applesauce’ during circle time. He instead sits with his legs in a W shape. Do we need to break him of this habit to protect his knees?A: As you may have already discovered, there are differing opinions on the topic of W-sitting.It can be common for younger children to prefer to sit in... more
Q: Our daughter recently got over strep and a mom at school told us to watch out for ‘PANDAS?’ What’s she talking about?A: PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. It’s a relatively newly known syndrome, first described in the late 1990s. Revised diagnostic criteria and guidelines... more
Kitestring calls itself “your virtual overprotective mom.”It’s a free, text-based service (not an app) invented by an MIT student who was worried about his girlfriend getting home OK.To use it, you text a time frame to Kitestring. When the time frame has passed, the service sends you a text, asking you to check in. If you don’t respond, Kitestring... more
On a recent Minneapolis Mamas Facebook thread, a mother lamented her 4-year-old’s terrible behavior.A clear chorus came back from mothers in praise of one particularly successful tactic — cutting back on screen time.Need a guide? Check out the much-praised Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and Boost Social... more
Bring on the next MasterChef Junior! Sized just right for little hands, this 17-piece intro-to-baking box was a hit during our annual Toy Test.But this gift set isn’t just a toy. All the tools and pieces are designed for real cooking and repeat use.Though technically recommended for ages 3 and older, it seems like a good fit (with supervision) for... more
It's a BOY! The refrain keeps ringing in my mind. After having two girls, these three words are so new and thrilling. When my husband announced them, they brought tears to my eyes, and I reached forward and pulled a beautiful baby to my chest. The dream of Archibald Kenneth has been in our hearts for many years. We've always hoped... more
Whenever I learn that one of my friends is going to have a baby, I promptly begin to panic on her behalf. “Congratulations!” I yelp, hoping my frozen smile will mask my palpable anxiety. I realize how crappy this is. For one thing, I’m taking someone else’s big life event and making it all about me. Furthermore, can’t I just stop... more
Sailing instructor Madison Hobbs had a clear view of all her beginning sailors, working in teams of three to balance and maneuver their 8-foot training vessels, powered only by the steady winds coming off Lake Calhoun.In one boat, kids chatted excitedly, working to angle their sail just right, trying not to tip over. In another, two boys... more
“You don’t have to play the guitar, you know,” the photographer said to 15-year-old Donovan Mack.Sitting on a tall white box, Mack dangled his feet idly as he plucked notes from the instrument. “I like to,” he said, and the soft melody continued as Will Swanson, also 15, moved around him, snapping his camera, trying to capture different... more
As promised in last month’s issue, Dad’s Night Out (DNO) follows Mom’s Night Out (MNO).I really want to make it clear: You dads need to do this! Though it’s sometimes implied that new fathers inherently have more freedom (you don’t lease your womb to occupants, you don’t breastfeed), you, too, need to remember what it’s like to be autonomous... more
Mothers have a reputation of living their lives for other people. Indeed, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that for me, as a kindergarten teacher-mother of four, I could spend every waking hour doing something productive that involves some sort of service to others, whether that’s cooking family meals, doing laundry,... more
I have no excuse for my consternation. We’ve been warned for years. All along, we’ve heard comments in response to the antics of our kids’ younger personalities, playfully pointed out as little foreshadows of what might be yet to come: Oh, you think that’s bad? Just wait ’til they’re teenagers!She’s so pretty. Better watch out: You’... more
For parents of a child with a disability, it can be a challenge to find a summer camp that’s fun, rewarding and welcoming. “It’s so hard to find activities, especially for girls on the autism spectrum,” one mom told The PACER Center.PACER is out to change that. Every August for the past 14 years, PACER, located in Bloomington, has run its... more
Parents face many factors when deciding whether — and where — to send a kid to summer camp. Do the dates work with your family’s travel plans for the summer? Will your child miss out on a lot of sports or other activities at home? Will she make friends at camp?Will you choose a camp that focuses on sports, religion, outdoor activities,... more
For my best friend and me, growing up in the ’90s, it wasn’t enough for us to just read about Kirsten Larson, the American Girl, and Little House on the Prairie books. We wanted to live it! So, in the summers, we dressed up in calico dresses and checkered sunbonnets sewn by our mothers and headed to camp at Minnesota Pioneer Park, a... more
The Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul, rather than reopening in mid-April as planned, will welcome visitors in June, due to a logistical delay in its multi-million-dollar renovations.The contractor hired to fabricate the parts of The Scramble — the museum’s new four-story climbing adventure, featuring two towers, a spiral slide and a netted... more
Peppa Pig made the perfect theme for Jane's second birthday party. It's a favorite of Janie's -- and of mine. The British show is refreshingly simple. I think the girls find comfort in its simplicity, its oft-played melody and tidy structure. The plotlines are fun with relatable family dynamics, including some subtle, gentle shots at... more
Parents are unwittingly putting children in increased danger because of common car seat mistakes. Here's how to keep your favorite tiny passengers safe.Installation rules, manufacturer regulations, confusing gadgetry and ever-evolving laws that vary by age — trying to understand car seat safety can feel like falling blindly into a black hole.This... more
If your kid’s headphones seem seriously cranked, check out Etymotic’s ETY-Kids5 Safe-Listening Earphones for ages 4 and up.These noise-isolating buds are specially designed for safer sound output, so they’re safe, even when your teen turns the volume up to 11. $39 • amazon.com • etymotic.com more
I am still pregnant. This past week has felt like an eternity.When I typed today's date at the top of this article, I wrote Feb. 27, 2018. That's how it feels. I've been nesting up a storm. Cleaned the refrigerator. Trimmed the girls' finger and toe nails. Had my eyebrows waxed. Purged the kitchen counters. I am... more
The advent of middle teenhood has brought on a slew of stressful new challenges — grades, college-prep exams, varsity-sports dynamics, overscheduling, driving lessons and more. Just when you think you’ve had about as much as you can handle, you realize: My kiddo is sure taking a lot of Snapchat selfies. Does he even hear me talking to him... more
I had forgotten how the final weeks of pregnancy turn me into the boy who cried wolf. I’m almost 39 weeks along now, and every day I can feel the baby lowering. For a fleeting moment, the lower abdominal pressure can masquerade as a contraction.I keep telling my husband that labor feels imminent, even though my due date isn’t until Feb. 20 – a... more
Parents face many factors when deciding whether — and where — to send a kid to summer camp.Do the dates work with your family’s travel plans for the summer? Will your child miss out on a lot of sports or other activities at home? Will she make friends at camp?Will you choose a camp that focuses on sports, religion, outdoor activities, academics or... more
Take a trip back in time to your childhood and think about how you loved to spend your days.Many of us can remember joyful, uninterrupted hours of play — whether it was spent building LEGO creations, constructing a fort in the woods or dreaming up imaginary worlds for our dolls. Flash forward to today’s jam-packed schedules, increased... more
During my son’s earlier years, I wasn’t a confident parent. And the problem was wildly exacerbated during daycare drop-offs. Instead of emitting calm during the hand-off, I would respond to my son’s every effort to resist our separation.Oh, honey, you don’t want me to leave? How about one more hug? OK: How about I sit here for a bit and play... more
Winter is a great time of year to get kids hooked on reading at home. When we’re stuck indoors on cold Minnesota days, get cozy and read!But, when your child is not excited about reading, fostering these habits can be a struggle. Consider these simple strategies to get your child on track:Visit your local library frequently. We try to visit our... more
Help your kids build concentration and focus with this 32-card memory game that you can customize with 16 personal photos.We love the retro packaging and card designs. (What a cool gift idea for friends or family!)Bonus: All of Paper Culture’s products are made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper — and every order results in the planting... more
Toddler Mom, the time has come to get out of the house. Wait. Let’s reorganize that thought: Out of the house, without child, showered and off to a destination other than Target, the gym, the indoor playground or work. Though you may have previously dabbled in the tradition of a good old Mom’s Night Out — MNO, as the increasingly acronym... more
Q: What could cause dark under-eye circles in my toddler?A: The area under eyes has thin and delicate skin, which often will easily show the capillary bed, which can show up in the form of dark, under-eye circles. Among young children, the most common cause is nasal congestion. This can be caused by allergies, smoke exposure, a recent upper-... more
 Q: We saw this supplement at Costco and on Amazon and we were intrigued because our 5-year-old has been presenting some ADHD-like symptoms at school. It promises to ‘support memory, concentration and focus.’ Is it worth a shot before trying prescription drugs? Reviews online seem positive.A: First it should be noted that 5-year-olds are... more
Q: My 3-year-old has insanely smelly feet. Help! A: Ah, one of the unforgettable aromas of childhood.Yes, kids have sweaty feet — and sweaty bodies — for a good part of the day. They’re constantly in motion, frequently breaking into sprints or suddenly wrestling with friends, often exercising on and off all day long. From a... more
Q: Are all types of child-care centers required to accept children with disabilities? A: Yes. The Minnesota Human Rights Act requires that all public accommodations, such as child-care centers, provide access to their services to individuals with disabilities. Are child-care centers required to accept all children with disabilities?No.... more
What if you could peer into the mirror and see your future self peering back? It’s you, but you have wrinkles, bags under your eyes, gray hair. How startling would it be? More important, how would this sight change you?This isn’t speculative fiction. It’s something a team of researchers cooked up as a way to help young people make better decisions... more
Early mornings, sleep-deprived parents, a time crunch and, of course, emotional youngsters, desperate for their parents’ attention. It’s the perfect storm for catastrophe. And yet, that’s when one of the toughest parts of the day looms — the dreaded daycare drop-off. Day after day, we peel away our sobbing offspring and we’re left with a... more
Rita Katona and Eric Hall of Minneapolis have introduced a new kind of baby food under the brand So Good Baby, now sold in handy pouches nationwide.What makes the local couple’s products special is that they’re pressure processed, rather than heat pasteurized, a practice that can sap flavor and nutritional value. So Good Baby’s organic,... more
My son started attending his in-home daycare when he was about 10 months old. The thing about in-home daycare is that there’s a certain “family” element to the whole thing. You might get to know your provider’s partner and children. You might catch glimpses of their family life when you run into them after hours at the nearby ice cream shop.... more
Navel pants — created by Sarah Longacre, the beloved founder of Blooma (a local yoga studio and haven for mamas and mamas-to-be) — are on sale now online.After making an early debut at Bellyrama at Lake Harriet this past September, the high-rise comfy pants, which include a removable 9-inch belly band, cost $70 (20 percent off if you sign up for e... more
Have you tried Opal apples? These gold-skinned Washington State-grown orbs are crunchy and sweet — dare we say good enough to rival Minnesota’s own Honeycrisp?But what really sets these babies apart is their ability to resist oxidation (that yucky browning that happens almost immediately after you slice an apple). Opal apples are... more
Sure, spring is technically “around the corner,” but in Minnesota, our reprieve from the cold usually comes not in March or April, but as late as June!Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on indoor play spaces for kids in the Twin Cities — including more than two dozen venues — at mnparent.com/indoor.Two new additions to our list include... more
I remember, when I was a new mother, looking desperately to my mama friends for advice.I had one friend who — skipping the fake war stories and humblebrags I’d become accustomed to — bluntly said: “I just want a damn shower.” Please pardon the not-family-friendly language, but the inflection/anger is important here.Indeed, just wanting... more
Each year, 250,000 children in the U.S. are treated for exposure to cleaning products at home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.Finding alternatives to harsh, potentially harmful cleaning agents is one way to protect children from accidental poisonings.Fortunately, non-toxic cleaning products can be just as effective and are far... more
Little kids don’t need anything fancy to get interested in reading. They require only a willing parent and a book or two.But sometimes literary bells and whistles — such as those included with the books here — can be just the thing to encourage kids to use their imaginations, engage in creative play and maybe even go the heck to sleep!  Train... more
It’s not always easy to have a sister or brother with a disability.But there are profound benefits: Siblings of children with disabilities are often more empathetic than other children.Loving someone with physical, mental or emotional challenges can lead children to learn kindness and caring. Siblings in this situation also may become more mature... more
Here’s a fun rainy-day / frigid-day activity: Take photos, artwork, invitations and more and turn them into small puzzles!Attach images to the kit’s adhesive 4-by-6-inch foam boards, then slide them through the Make Your Own Puzzles puzzlemaker to safely create perfect jigsaw pieces.Note: This toy was popular with all ages at the annual Minnesota... more
There’s regular PlayDoh (playdoh.com) and homemade play dough (tinyurl.com/playdough-mn). And now there’s Eco-Dough, an all-natural play dough made with plant, fruit and vegetable extracts.It’s lightly scented with essential oils (which keep the dough soft and pliable), so your hands smell and feel great — and slightly moisturized — when you’re... more
Squeezy bath toys are super fun! But how do you ever really get them clean?If the very thought of mold potentially growing inside your kid’s bath toys creeps you out, we suggest you check out Marcus & Marcus’ silicone squirting bath toys, which can be taken apart and easily and air dried — or even run through the dishwasher (top rack only).... more
Every month Minnesota Parent receives self-help parenting books filled with stories about how hard to is to parent (and why), but they’re woefully short on solutions. They’re 98 percent backstory. This book — How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk (part of a longtime bestselling series) — actually offers how-to... more
From the beginning of my parenting journey, I’ve looked at the faces of my children with a bit of wonder and awe. I behold them as gifts bestowed upon me. I’ve studied their expressions, their reactions and their moods from the time they were just babes in my arms. I consider it my job to lovingly guide them to pursue who they’re... more
Happy New Year, Minnesota parents!Will 2017 be a no-yell year for you? Will this be the year you finally take care of your marriage/partner/self (and not just your kiddos)? Will this be the year you become perfect and balanced and start going to the gym three times a week again?Of course it won’t. But as Amanda Bell — the #keepingitreal... more
On the holiday photo card I recently sent out to my friends and family, there’s a photograph of me, my husband and our four young children (above) — a snapshot frozen in time of all of us at our best.Below the image we shared a sincere greeting: “Oh so very blessed: Wishing you a holiday season full of joy! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year... more
I will try one new food every single day. Willingly. Even cauliflower. I will stop saying the word “mine” and will replace it with, “yours.” Sharing is caring.I will stop suggesting that my baby brother be given away, sent back, sold to the pet store or physically harmed.I will resist the urge to criticize my father’s cooking in manners that... more
Years ago -- before I had become a mom -- I spotted a full-page magazine ad featuring a bundled-up brown-haired girl behind a hot cocoa stand, and I tore it out. I can't recall what the ad was for -- maybe an insurance company? But I remember feeling utterly charmed by the scene and wanting to file it away to try out one day as a mom.A... more
When our two sons, who are now 15 and 13, were getting old enough to start thinking seriously about money (a few years ago), they asked some really interesting questions.They ran the gamut from careers (could they get rich as writers?), advertising (young kids have a hard time telling the difference between ads and entertainment), product... more
Q: Which baby formula should we choose?A: Though the formula options available on store shelves can be dizzying — organic, iron-fortified, non-GMO, probiotic- and DHA/AHA-enhanced — the good news is, the major “brand name” formulas contain all the essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins needed for healthy infant growth and development. ... more
Q: Should twins sleep in separate bedrooms?A: Sleeping arrangements for your children is really a matter of what works best for your family. There’s no compelling need for twins to have separate bedrooms, nor do they automatically do best if they’re in the same room, especially when they’re very young. However, keep in mind that, after about... more
Q: Should I worry about the occasional bloody nose for my 4-year-old?A: Most minor spontaneous bloody noses are nothing to worry about. In Minnesota, in the winter months, dry air is one of the leading causes of these occasional, spontaneous nose bleeds.Children with nasal allergies are more likely to experience nose bleeds, especially when... more
It’s tempting to hibernate during a frigid Minnesota winter, but your tots have just as much energy to burn now as ever.Making the most of the season, however, requires a bit of creative thinking — not to mention a lot of winter wear. I was reminded of this recently when I helped my young daughters run their very own hot cocoa stand. (Yes,... more
Last spring, just a few months shy of his 9th birthday, my otherwise healthy, active child began complaining of stomachaches. The first time he complained, I kept him home from school and fed him popsicles and crackers until lunchtime, by which point he had made a miraculous recovery. The week progressed as usual until Friday when he once... more
I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was not a banner year. I don’t want to get too specific; we were all there.Sure, it’s tempting to say something Minnesotan — “Oooooh well, that sure was something, huh? Guess it can’t get much worse than that now, can it?”But I can’t summon the energy to fake some sort of Midwestern obliviousness.... more
Do you have a kid who engages in potentially harmful, subconscious behaviors such as excessive nail biting, skin picking or hair pulling?You’re not alone. Millions of Americans suffer significantly from these issues, including many children.But now there may be a solution for such Body Focused... more
There's something about Christmas that invites nostalgia -- tales of years past, faded photographs and images that remain timeless. The idea of an old-school Christmas feels refreshing as we become increasingly high-tech. If you're looking to visually counter our screen-addiction this holiday season, opt for the vintage -- and let your... more
Growing up, I was a huge fan of the American Girls -- particularly the book series. My favorite from the Kirsten collection was "Kirsten's Surprise," which tells of the Swedish family's first winter in Minnesota -- 1854 -- and their struggle to preserve Christmas traditions from home in a foreign place. Thirty-something moms, does this book... more
Billed as a Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior and Not Grossing People Out, Alex J. Packer’s book, updated in 2014, is billed as a “wacky, comprehensive, and insightful etiquette book that shows teens how to use good manners to build fulfilling relationships, get what they want out of life, feel good about themselves and save society... more
“Watching TV with your teens presents all kinds of pitfalls: out-of-the-blue raunchy sex scenes, a surprise bloodbath (Game of Thrones, anyone?) and other awkward moments you never wanted to share with your kids.”So says Common Sense Media’s TV Editor, Polly Conway, who recommends 10 teen-safe shows to bridge the gap at tinyurl.com/teen-... more
Your kid wants LEGOs for the holidays: Again. Had enough?We highly recommend the latest iteration of building toys from Lauri as an alternative.Lauri’s new Action-Stackers Big Builder Set includes new joint connectors that allow children to build out (instead of just up).New spinning connectors can be used to create wheels and other features with... more
During research for our annual Minnesota Parent Toy Test, we came across a local company — DoodleTown Toys of Big Lake, established in 1972 — that produces beautiful, handcrafted wooden toys.Michael and Linda Poisson use northern white pine to create their toys, which feature signature smooth edges thanks to painstaking sanding and routing.We... more
Babies love tags! What’s up with that?Satisfy your infant’s fixation with a city-themed soft block from Rose & Rex, which includes four tag-like tabs with holes just right for babies’ fingers (plus an actual tag).Locales so far include London, New York, Brooklyn, Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Sydney.All the blocks —... more
Minnesota Parent is giving away a FREE Winter Family Fun vacation for a family of four at Lutsen Mountains (valued at more than $500).This prize package includes 2 nights lodging, 2 days of lift tickets and 2 days of ski rentals for a family of four, all coinciding with the Family Fun Nights at the Summit Chalet, featuring magic... more
The group of parents now raising tweens is the last to grow up — basically — without the Internet. The good news is that, having received our first email addresses on dinosaur systems as college students, we DO know how the web works. We all have Facebook (well almost all of us), plus most of its cousins. We’re hooked on getting answers... more
White snow, bright sun and dry skin — it’s wintertime in Minnesota! This time of year, typically November through March, people of all ages struggle with skin issues. And for kids, winter can be a particularly uncomfortable time of year. In fact, roughly 20 percent of babies develop dry, sensitive skin, and older kids face special skin... more
Three years ago, I reluctantly bought my then-fifth-grade daughter her first cell phone. We were new to the state and I didn’t have the comfort of known friends/neighbors to count on if a soccer practice ended early, or if I was running late to pick her up from school.I broke with my own firm belief that no elementary schooler should need his... more
I’ve often referred to the time between after-school pickup and dinner as “the witching hour.”Especially with my youngest children, the time between 4 and 5 p.m. is often the most difficult time of the day. After a long day, my young children crave my attention — and I want to relax and spend time with them.But our reality is that dinner needs to... more
I recently took a walk around Como Lake in opposition of typical traffic flow.Not only did I see the knockout fall colors from another angle, but I also looked upon more faces. Intrigued, I actually made an effort to smile and nod — maybe say hello — to each and every person (and dog) I passed.Even if I felt shy, even if the passerby looked... more
“My marriage is like The Walking Dead, OK? We’re all just trying to get out alive.” — Paula from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.As every new parent will come to realize, bringing home a new baby is weird.Before the baby, you can do your own thing. Tired? Head off to bed — no one’s stopping you! Want some exercise? Trot on down to the neighborhood yoga studio... more
My parents taught my brother and me to play Monopoly and then spent the next five years finding excuses not to play the game. After all, it takes a lot of time and patience to play board games with children. They forget the rules, they may cry when they lose and sometimes they try to cheat. My brother was famous for hiding a stash... more
Turn off the TV/tablet/phone/LeapFrog and play face to face with these 12 awesome, family-friendly games.Zoo on the LooseObjective: Lead five cuddly animal escapees on a playful adventure by following the directions on the cards. When the zookeeper card pops up, players must get the animals back in place as quickly as possible.... more
It’s almost winter and the holidays are near: What better time could there be to snuggle up and read?Check out the following titles, all new this year, that help celebrate the season.Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree These two adorable, sometimes snarky sisters — captured, as usual, in gorgeous drawings by author-illustrator Lori Nichols —... more
If your child is struggling with overeating, it can be incredibly hard to discuss the issue.Aimed at helping parents of ages 10 to 18, Free Your Child from Overeating — written by therapist and mother four Michelle Maidenberg — helps families address the causes of overeating and offers more than 50 mind-body strategies rooted in cognitive... more
Q: My 1-year-old isn’t walking. How can I encourage her to at least try?A: It takes incredible strength, balance, coordination and bravery to take those first steps. Babies typically start walking between age 9 months and 15 months.Babies, who learn to walk best with bare feet, often begin near-walking by “creeping” alongside furniture or walking... more
Q: Our teenager listens to music with over-ear headphones and she CRANKS them so loud! What is her risk of noise-induced hearing loss?A: If you’ve ever been to a music concert and left experiencing ringing in your ears and difficulty hearing, you know firsthand that loud sounds can cause hearing damage. Most of the time, attending a... more
Grab your aspiring astronomer and head outside: There's a supermoon! Because the moon's orbit has an elliptical shape, sometimes it is closer to Earth than other times. Astronomers call the closest-to-Earth moment the perigee. And what makes Nov. 14 special is that the moon "becomes full within about two hours of perigee -- arguably making it... more
Winter is coming. Are you curling up into a fetal position with your favorite Slanket yet?Well, maybe you could skip the cabin fever this year. What if you could embrace winter by getting into skiing, snowboarding or even just tubing as a family? Check out more than a dozen winter-fun destinations in Minnesota at skiandboardmn.com, which... more
Parenting can be infinitely frustrating. It’s a grind that can suck the life out of even the most playful of parents.How can you bring back some of that magic?The answer, according to two Minneapolis moms, may be improv parentings classes, play days and camps. Improv Parenting is the brainchild of mother-of-three Keren Gudeman, an educator... more
I’m so excited about all the awesome toys — and toy-related ideas — we’re spotlighting this month in our annual Toy Issue!Wait. What?You don’t want more toys? You don’t like how your carpet/coffee table/entire existence has disappeared under a thick layer of giant playgyms/mats/bouncers/vibrating chairs, noisemakers and Megabloks? Or maybe it’s... more
Ages 0–3Picture BooksGiraffes Can’t Danceby Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-ReesMeet Gerald, a giraffe who desperately wants to dance, but can’t quite get his long, wobbly legs to cooperate. With perseverance and a little encouragement from a new friend, Gerald succeeds. Gerald’s story will inspire your kids to try, try again, and make their dreams... more
Sometimes the toys children want the most are the very ones that cause parents uncertainty — not just about our budgets, but also our values. Items that top a kid’s wish list can present parents with a multitude of toy-buying dilemmas.It could be a doll that each of your child’s friends has, but comes with a hefty price tag. Or maybe it’s a... more
Great places to bring your kids when the weather is cold and the wiggles need to get out!Adventure Peak in Edinborough Park, EdinaAirMaxx, Eden PrairieBig Thrill Factory, MinnetonkaBrickmania Toyworks, MinneapolisBrown Family Adventure Park, Ham LakeEagle's Nest, New BrightonGood Times Park, EaganInnerActive, Minnetonka – NEW!Jump City,... more
Having a child with a food allergy can cause great anxiety for parents, especially when it comes to sending their children out into the world.These fun, customizable stamps — which feature popular characters such as Minions, Pooh, Darth Vader, Anna and Elsa — can help families keep everyone informed quickly, easily and playfully. $45 •... more
Meddy Teddy — a “100 percent yoga-poseable” bear — isn’t the first toy to encourage kids to practice yoga.But Meddy, with his serene smile and peacefully closed eyes, may be the first to also encourage meditation, a mindfulness practice parents are finding surprisingly effective in dealing with behavior problems.One Baltimore elementary school... more
If your kid can’t get enough of chewing on your car keys (ew!), you might want to strike up a friendship with Eli the Elephant, Gus the Giraffe, and Leo the Lion — a trio of chompable stainless steel “keys.” Geared toward ages 6 months and up, dishwasher-safe Kleynimals (pronounced “clean-i-mals”) aren’t cheap, but they’ll certainly last from one... more
When you have kids, you can’t help but be proud of them.Even the littlest things can make you swell up with almost unbearable pride — those first baby smiles, those early toddler dancing skills, those kindergarteners who can read before the start of school!We just can’t help it. They’re so impressive, we just have to tell our friends who have... more
Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set$44.99 | ages 4 and upFew kids in our toy test could resist this mesmerizing set — a new-and-improved version of an older model from Hot Wheels. Even the veteran parents in the group agreed this toy would definitely be worth the space commitment — and the price. A single central booster (which uses 4D... more
Like me, you may think of the car-buying process as something like grocery shopping at a box store on a Sunday afternoon, only worse. You know it’s going to be painful, but you grit your teeth and get it over with. Sure, you go home with what you need afterwards, but they didn’t have everything you wanted, and you probably spent more than you... more
During a recent dinner conversation with my teens, I asked the age-old conversation starter: Who did you sit with at lunch today?I got two very different responses. As I took their answers in, I realized that this one simple question defines how they each approach life and relationships. When they were youngMy daughter is a 13-year-old eighth... more
My poor children! They were born into a family where their mother and father aren’t afraid to say no — and to mean it. At times, they might think it’s an unfortunate circumstance, but I know that it’s often for their own good.Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of times that my husband and I do say yes, and cave in to requests. But, in our... more
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE our annual Toy Issue. My kiddos have participated in the official Minnesota Parent Toy Test, and I even rely on the results for holiday ideas. I’ve also genuinely loved checking out all the cool new toy favorites — old and new — with my kids, neighbors, nieces and nephews during each stage of childhood. But the... more
Welcome to our annual Baby Issue! Whether you’re feeding a newborn right this very second, patting your belly in anticipation of a very important arrival or maybe even getting ready to welcome your first grandchild, this issue is for you! I expect the most-read article this month will be our sleep story, outlining five different types of... more
It’s time for back to school!Oh, wait. Are you just starting school?I feel you. I remember my son’s first days of kindergarten (a big topic in this issue, as you will see). It all started the winter before his 5th birthday. His school hosted a Kindergarten Round Up, an afternoon event at which preschoolers and their parents were promptly... more
It's time to gather around the crèche, the menorah or the non-denominational dinner table and show Baby what the holidays are all about — spending time with family and friends, honoring our religious/social traditions and getting lots and lots of presents. “What should I get my baby for Christmas?” is a... more
Q: My daughter is 2 years old and has a bit of a lisp. Does she need a speech therapist?A: Articulation concerns are common among parents. Acquisition of language sounds is expected along a continuum based on age, placement of tongue, generation of sound location and coordination. There’s also quite a range of anticipated “normal” ages for kids to... more
Here we are, already in the thick of the school year.And that means watching your kid face the challenges of academics, friendships and even the pressures of Picture Day!It’s not easy.Check out how the characters (both human and animal) in these books find interesting ways to conquer their fears and emerge triumphantly. Coasting CaseyThis... more
Jennifer, a busy mom of three, wondered if something was wrong when her middle child, Ava, abruptly stopped talking about school.Ava, a first-grader, usually bubbled over with enthusiastic chatter about her friends and her adored teacher, Miss Garcia. Ava had started complaining about feeling sick just before it was time to go to school.One... more
Q: My daughter has started playing hockey. What do I need to know to keep her from ending up in the ER?A: In the State of Hockey, it almost seems as if some children are born with hockey sticks in their hands and skates on their feet. Fortunately, organized youth hockey programs have made safety a priority and have taken a number of steps to... more
Q: My baby boy has white patches on the insides of his cheeks. What is it?A: Generally, when parents notice white patches on the insides of their infants’ cheeks, it’s usually a condition known as thrush.Thrush is an excessive growth of a yeast (fungus) in the mouth and is very common among infants in the first few months of life. The white... more
Want to give your kids a jump start on their financial future?Check out Blue Chip Kids: What Every Child (and Parent) Should Know About Money, Investing and the Stock Market.This lively and engaging book — filled with 165 cartoon illustrations — tackles many facets of personal and corporate finance that schools simply aren’t covering.David Bianchi... more
Most of us want our kids to be generous and thoughtful, and we want them to have a broad view of the world. So why not encourage them to donate some of their money or allowance to a worthy cause?Figuring out how much to give — and who to give it to — is good practice for kids learning to be smart and deliberate with money.The problem is,... more
KoalaSafe creates a new wi-fi network in your home that’s set up just for the kids.You can restrict the hours that the Internet is on, block sites by name or category (such as “adult” or “social media”) or block specific apps (such as Snapchat).You can require YouTube SafeSearch and Google SafeSearch to restrict inappropriate search results, too.... more
I was 14 years old when my mom sent me off from my home in Central California to stay for a summer with my aunt in Hinckley, Minn.The trip was intended to ease me into a new move, which included changing high schools. I spent my summer canoeing on the local lake, experiencing my first thunderstorms and tasting my first brats from the... more
Editor’s note: Minnesota Parent asked Alison Feigh, program manager at the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (and a former classmate of Jacob’s), to answer the question: “What can parents tell their kids in light of the recent news?” Here’s what she wrote.I would tell children that I wish I could have changed the ending of this story.Jacob’s... more
The single-serving juice box (or milk box) is the ultimate on-the-go toddler beverage — until your little one promptly squeezes the liquid right out of it, turning its straw into a terribly interesting fountain.MyDrinky — a rigid plastic, dual-handled, two-piece case — was designed to prevent such spills.Our Minnesota Parent test toddler (age 3)... more
By now you likely feel over-saturated with all the election hullaballoo — the commercials, the emails, the Facebook soapboxing, perhaps a tense conversation or two at the dinner table. We’re almost there. It’s almost over.While this probably isn’t your first election, it might be your first major election as a parent — as a toddler parent.... more
The mythology surrounding motherhood is something I could seriously do without. From the supposedly “instinctual” nature of mothering to the notion that mothers are meant to suffer with a smile, I’ve had enough. And I’d like to reassure you that you don’t need to let these ideas control your life. Motherhood myths that set my teeth... more
It’s autumn: What better time to get the kids in the kitchen?And what better tools than the Le Petit Chef set from Opinel.Minnesota Parent’s 8-year-old tester (not exactly a huge culinary-arts enthusiast) loved this stainless steel knife-peeler set.Each tool encourages proper hand positioning with strategically placed learning rings that prevent... more
“Lila is already reading!”“Jayden started reading when he was 3 years old.”“Jesse has been reading chapter books since kindergarten.”As a licensed reading specialist and the parent of a kindergartner, I can’t help but notice the push for children to start reading before kindergarten.What once was rare — and only for children who were... more
Groves AcademyThis private St. Louis Park school, founded in 1972, offers specialized services for students in grades 1-12 diagnosed with learning disabilities and/or attention disorders.Tuition for the 2016-2017 school year ranges from $27,120 to $28,160. The Learning Center at Groves is open to the public and offers fee-based tutoring,... more
For young children with dyslexia, just opening a book can cause anxiety and a drop in self-esteem. The letters might jumble into a code nearly impossible to decipher, making reading slower and more demanding than it is for their classmates. And it’s not just reading and writing.Kids with dyslexia often struggle with spelling, penmanship... more
Lil’ Kickers — a year-round children’s soccer program focused on child development — has come to the Twin Cities.Founded in Seattle in 1999, Lil’ Kickers has grown into national franchise with more than 100 locations in 28 states.It’s been popular in Chicago for more than 10 years and is now expanding north with two Minneapolis locations —... more
Q: What do you think of chiropractic care for babies? I’ve heard it can cure colic and help with many other infant problems. A: There are a variety of opinions regarding the effectiveness of chiropractic care for infants. I believe if the purpose of the care is mainly to help with soothing, muscle relaxation and using muscle groups... more
I consider myself a lifelong learner. This is reflected in my vocation (I’m an educator at a public school) and in my hobbies, which include fiber art, cooking, soap-making, photography and blogging, to name a few. My hobbies are creative outlets that are not only enriching and fun, but also good for my own well being.They help me to... more
When it comes to fall family fun, it’s hard to beat a local pumpkin patch on a crisp, clear October day in Minnesota. Not only are our local farms glorious in autumn — with beautiful fields of U-pick pumpkins and golden mazes of rustling corn stalks — they’re also packed with other kid-friendly attractions, including hayrides, bouncy houses,... more
I've been on pumpkin look-out for several weeks now, and we happened to be at our local Cub the day the pumpkins arrived out front. I couldn't resist. I don't know why pumpkins make me so happy, but they do. I let Maria make a selection. She quickly zeroed in on a big pumpkin covered in warts. The only one with warts.In a sea of... more
There is no way I could ever repay my parents for all they have done for my children. Yet every time Ted and I drop the kids off and head out, they make it seem as if we are doing them the favor.Honestly, I’m behind by about 1.3 million thank-yous. Life just keeps rolling, and I try to file them all away in my mind to properly address one day –... more
Photo by Agape Moments Photography"Above all else, keep the babies on the SAME routine; once that’s accomplished, life is that much easier! And finally, ENJOY the small moments — the cuddles, smiles and first giggles."– Karen Kartman of Lino Lakes, mother of twins Aubrey and Lyla, pictured with big brother, Colby, 4, and Dad, Paul Photo... more
Today brings exciting news for Beatrix Potter fans: Penguin Random House has released a never-before-published book discovered a century after it was written. Brought to life with illustrations by Quentin Blake, famous for his drawings in the Roald Dahl books, "The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots" is an instant bestseller sure to delight longtime fans... more
Newborns and young infants are supposed to sleep all the time. Right? (Cue the eye roll.)At least that’s what many parents-to-be are led to believe. However, many new moms and dads quickly learn that the adorable adage “sleeping like a baby” is highly misleading. Newborns and infants can be loud, wiggly, finicky little snoozers.Whether... more
It’s never too early to read with your baby!In fact, early childhood development experts recommend reading to children from birth — at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week (read20.org).Here are some of our favorite books for babies. Find reading lists for all age groups (including age 0 to 12 months) at readingfoundation.org.Vegetables and... more
Q: We think our newborn could be allergic to cow’s-milk formula. What are the signs?A: Milk-protein allergy is a condition that develops in the first year of life. The most common form is an allergy specifically to the protein in cows’ milk. Symptoms — rashes, stomach upset/discomfort, vomiting and/or diarrhea — can appear within a few... more
Q: At what age do girls begin puberty? We’ve heard as young as 8! A: You’re correct that girls can begin puberty as young as 8 years old. And, in fact, that’s still considered within the range of normal. Girls typically start puberty between the ages of 8 and 13.Boys start between age 9 and 14. Keep in mind, however,... more
The New York Times headline said, “Apps That Make Saving as Effortless as Spending.”So, of course, even though I don’t consider myself a very big spender, I couldn’t resist clicking. What’s not to like about effortless saving? On my journey of chasing the click bait, I learned a few things about both saving and spending.  ... more
Chelsea Clinton, with her book, It’s Your World, challenged tweens in 2015 to “get informed, get inspired and get going” to make positive changes in the world.Now, given the history her mother made recently — becoming the first female nominee for President of the United States — this book ($18.99), which explores the challenges of poverty,... more
Angst: Noun. A feeling of dread, anxiety or anguish. I recently had the privilege of hosting some very dear friends from Paris for a week.Our family friendship was one of those serendipitous discoveries. When we met, we found a playmate for each of us, if you will. They’re a family of four, with an older son and younger daughter close in... more
Drawing inspiration from martial arts, ballet, gymnastics, other sports and even animal behaviors, the authors of this 2011 book ($14.95) — gastroenterologist Anthony DeBenedet (a father of three girls) and Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist and family therapist — present dozens of illustrated rough-and-tumble activities for children and... more
Right now, my three boys (ages 5, 7 and 9) are in our upstairs loft wrestling.Sitting at my computer at the kitchen table, I can hear a lot of clomping around and the persistent thumping of feet and arms, all punctuated by the occasional scream and the sound of my upstairs furniture shifting.These are loud and happy wrestling sounds.  I admit... more
As they say, a cliche is a cliche because it’s rooted in truth. The phrases roll off our tongues freely because they’re (Exhibit A) lit-er-ally a part of the modern American vernacular. But don’t you get tired of what’s commonly said about you, Mama?I do. Let’s start with wine In the last five years or so, wine has unfortunately... more
Unitech Medical — a locally based startup with offices in Plymouth — has introduced an herbal diaper cream.Unlike typical creams, it’s not thick and white, it’s actually a bit thin and light brown due its active ingredients — botanical extracts of herbs commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine such as arnebia root and amur cork-tree bark.... more
The postpartum period tends to be all about the baby and the mother — as it should be! But what about the father or co-parent? What’s that experience like? To give you one man’s point of view, I asked my husband, Nick Hook, to provide his take on the topic for this month’s column. Here’s what he had to say: Nick speaksBefore the... more
Date night, anyone? Girls’ night? Guys’ night? How about just a little “you” time?Drop N’ Shop — an entertainment center for children — is now open at the Mall of America and offering drop-in childcare for ages 6 weeks to 12 years.Located on Level 3 at Sears Court, the facility offers activities such as Zumba and yoga for kids, arts and crafts,... more
Heads up: The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul will be closed from Sept. 6 to 9 and Sept. 12 to 16 for annual maintenance.Technicians will use the time to tune up the exhibit galleries and the Omnitheater for the fall and winter seasons.Upcoming events at the museum include: Playdates: Every Tuesday between 10 a.m. and noon, the museum... more
We just returned from the Dakota County Fair in Farmington, which has become a tradition for our family -- just as it was for my parents, who took my siblings and me every year when we were young. The beauty of the county-fair scene is the ease and access -- simpler parking, smaller crowds, plenty of furry friends and fried foods. The 4-H... more
Some days you have to stop and let the kids play in the rain. For us, this morning was one of those days. Maria showed Jane the ropes. She studied Big Sister's technique. Reached for Big Sister's hand. And soon was off to the races! Then we met up with Cousin and Grandma for more rainy fun. (Grandma never let a little rain... more
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about some tangible motto or quip that I might share with my eldest son as he enters his last two years of high school.As a mom of a boy, I’ve learned how important it is to economize my words.In his elementary years, I realized my ranting and long-winded explanations to him about making his bed and brushing his... more
There are so many rites of passage to behold as we guide our littles through childhood: skinned knees and bad dreams. Barf and birthday parties.Toddler Parent, you may find it curious — even alarming — that your favorite toddler columnist would loosely equate the joy of a birthday party with barf.Oh, but be certain, that choice was intentional.Don... more
The Twin Z Pillow is the nursing pillow to try if you have multiples.It’s E-shaped and works differently than a Boppy.You put the middle part behind your back for support and then wrap the sides around your waist and click them together in front of you.Our Moe-Mama’s-Must-Haves blogger (a mother of three, including now-9-month- old twins) has... more
I was about six months pregnant with our first child when my husband and I got around to discussing where the baby was going to sleep.“Well, I suppose we could just keep the bassinet in our room,” I said as we paced our cozy, 800-square-foot one-bedroom house.But was that a forever solution? Were we on board with sharing a bedroom with our... more
Q: My 2-year-old likes to play alone when other kids are around. Why? A: It’s normal for a 2-year-old to engage in solitary play. Solitary play is the first stage of play development.Children will explore learning and interacting with toys on their own or with caregivers, and at their own pace.They’re like little... more
Q: Our daughter, 3, is waking up terrified in the middle of the night. Help! A: Night terrors are sleep disruptions that typically occur a few hours after kids fall asleep during transitions between sleep phases. This is different than nightmares, which arise during the dream stages of sleep, late into the night or in the early... more
Q: How many grams of sugar a day is OK for a kindergartener?A: Appropriate sugar intake is an important topic for kids, teens and grown-ups.Americans are, by far, some of the most obese and unhealthiest people in the world, despite our amazing health-care systems.Excessive sugar intake puts kids on a path to struggle with high blood... more
 The Lockdown Drill School children today don’t just take part in fire drills.Because of numerous attacks on schools in recent years, kids as young as preschool-age are required to participate in lockdown drills that involve preparing for intruders, typically by hiding.And that can be scary.That’s why Tennessee native Becky ... more
This school year my daughter will be starting sixth grade and my two middle boys will be entering third and first grades.Our youngest son could start kindergarten this year (he turned 5 in July), but based on his development — social, emotional, academic and physical — we made the decision to delay his entry into kindergarten until he’s 6.That... more
Do your kids like to play in the dirt? Build tree forts? Climb cliffs and careen through tunnels?If you’re nodding your head YES right now, you need to plan a trip to the newly updated Tamarack Nature Center, about 20 minutes north of St. Paul.Operated by Ramsey County Parks and Recreation, the center is located in a 320-acre preserve within Bald... more
Mosquito bites are the worst!Fortunately, we’ve found a new way to ease kids’ irritation and discomfort: Oilogic’s Bug Bites & Itches Essential Oil Roll-On is made with a blend of lavender, tea tree, lemon, citronella, spearmint and chamomile oils.It’s fragrant, soothing and safe for... more
Students at the University of Minnesota have designed the “world’s first sensory-friendly backpack.”The Nesel Pack (a play on the word “nestle”) is a backpack for kids with sensory-processing issues, including children on the autism spectrum.It features specially designed straps with chest clips that create the feeling of a hug, plus hooks for... more
One Posh Closet, a Minnesota boutique featuring new and previously worn designer women’s clothing, is now offering children’s clothes.Founded by Nicole Jennings — wife of Super Bowl Champion NFL wide receiver Greg Jennings (see family photo above) — the Minnesota-based business started online in 2013, built around high-end pieces contributed by... more
Adoption is a wonderful way to welcome a child into a family, rich with a unique set of joys and challenges.Though not initiated by pregnancy, labor and birth, the start of the parent-child relationship is a birth of sorts — the birth of a new life together.Toddler adoption is an entirely different situation — also filled with specific triumphs... more
 My son entered this world with his own agenda. It was Oct. 31, 2014, and I was just barely 34 weeks pregnant.I was at work at St. David’s Center, going about the regular busyness of my day as an education coordinator in our early childhood education program, when I went into labor.Being a natural life planner, I’d done everything I... more
My daughter, Grace, came into the world as a micro preemie 11 years ago. Born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 6.2 ounces, Grace had a 66 to 80 percent chance of survival.She faced many medical challenges (as many preemies do), and she had lot of catching up to do. Our family faced some tough times, to say the least. It was hard on... more
I’ve become that mom who cannot stop talking about her kids. It’s gotten so obnoxious I’ve even begun meetings and presentations by whipping out photos. They’re just so important to me, so central to who I am. If you don’t know about them, you don’t really know me.I am passionate about my career as a writer. But becoming a mom has fulfilled... more
Happy summer, Minnesota families!If you’re looking for things to do with your kids in the Twin Cities, you’ve come to the right place!This month’s issue — our annual Beat the Heat edition — includes 2 inclusive parks designed for all abilities, 4 family day trips reinvented, 13 shady places for babies, 14 fun splash pads, 19 summer bucket-list... more
Mother of two Asha Dornfest started her ParentHacks.com blog in 2005.Her recent book of the same name features 134 whimsically illustrated ingenious ideas for simplifying life with kids, such as:Strap your baby into a forward-facing carrier when you trim his or her fingernails.Put the ketchup under the hotdog to minimize mess.At the beach? Stash... more
Thirty and Flirty and Thriving is the phrase Jennifer Garner’s 13-year-old version of herself says over and over to break free of her young teen stage in the film 13 Going on 30.The Razzle-eating teenager desperately wants to move past her awkward phase and into adulthood.I’ve read it’s kind of a thing for moms to show this flick at their... more
A couple of years ago I created a bit of an over-the-top Pinterest-inspired summer bucket list with my children.In June, we made a big, colorful poster with lots of ideas of different things to do and put it on our fridge, thinking we would check off each experience as summer went on.We started right away with some practical and classic summer... more
Q: Our son was stung on his finger by a bee and his whole hand became swollen. Will his next sting be worse or cause an allergic reaction?A: Local reactions to bee stings — redness, swelling, pain and itching — are very common in children.The good news is that previously stung kids aren’t likely to have worse reactions the next time... more
Parenting teenagers can be intense.Adolescents’ huge ups and down can drive you and the rest of the family crazy!Eline Snel — author of Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) and founder of the Academy for Mindful Teaching in Leusden, Netherlands — offers tips for... more
 Broadway is joining the sensory-friendly scene with a special performance of Disney’s The Lion King at 2 p.m. Saturday July 30 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.This one-time performance — geared toward people with sensory, social and learning disabilities and their families — is the first-ever sensory-friendly performance of a touring... more
Shortly after my oldest daughter turned 1, a friend reminded me that this particular milestone meant I could now let her eat peanut butter (the recommendation at the time).What a wonderful idea, I thought. And so one day I whipped up a PB&J for her lunch, she ate it and then she settled down for a nap.When she woke up about an hour later, I... more
Summer on the North Coast brings with it that mixed blessing of longer days for parents: Yes, it means more daylight for outdoor fun, but it also means putting the kids to bed well before the sun goes down. Perhaps you can lull your little one to sleep — or at least while away the hours — with one of these new-in-2016 sleep-adventure stories.They’... more
Q: My daughter gets so many ear infections. How do we know if she should get tubes?A: Thank you for this question! Frequent ear infections are common for many families. This is a problem that involves persistent fluid and/ or infection in what is called the middle-ear cavity — normally a very small, air-filled space behind the... more
Now that I’m a few years out of the woods, it’s pretty easy to wax nostalgic about the toddler years.I even get a little jealous when I hear about someone’s early morning toddler dance parties (even if they occur at 5 a.m. sharp) or when I see a heavy-lidded dad pushing a stroller to the park on a Sunday morning when any reasonable person would be... more
 Chewbeads — 100 percent silicone jewelry for babies to chomp on (instead of their mother’s real jewelry) — have become popular among modern mamas.Now the parent-founded company is expanding its line with Juniorbeads kids’ necklaces, including cute color combos geared toward girls and groovy shark tooth, robot and dog-tag pendants for boys.We... more
It's hard not to hang on to traditions. Some traditions deserve to stick around — like having as much milk as you can handle at the dairy booth during The Great Minnesota Get Together.Others might need a change of pace.In fact, it’s easy to get into a parenting rut: If something is successful and fun, common sense keeps you going back. But not me... more
It's June!It’s time to spend every minute we can outside, right? But how? Check out our Outdoors Issue (June 2016) for starters. It's on racks now.Then please consider my advice for making the most of these summer months ahead: Pull back on screen time. I know, I know: I’ve read suggestions like these many times and I’ve said to... more
Kids need nature play and outdoor activities. But when there are 1,000 free cool games on the iPad, you’re facing an uphill battle, even in summer — unless you get creative and get excited to try new things.Here are just a few of the latest outdoors books perfectly tailored to families in need of inspiration and motivation:M Is for... more
Summer in Minnesota is synonymous with frequent trips to the cabin up, vacations up North, day hikes and camping for many local families. But all that warm-weather outdoor fun can cause some major skin issues. Fortunately, most rashes, spots and bumps are easily treatable. Here are some of the most common summertime conditions I see in... more
The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money isn’t just rich with useful tips for teaching kids about finances — including parent best practices for the tooth fairy, birthdays, chores, mobile phones and beyond — it’s also relatable guide to combating materialism with gratitude and charity and many other... more
Saving money as a family fun activity? It sounds suspicious, I know.After all, “saving” isn’t the first thing you think of when you’re looking for fun things to do with your offspring. But you can have a good time together while also getting the whole gang on board with cutting costs. Try any of these as a family project. With older kids, you... more
Caring for others is an essential skill that can give today’s young people a leg up in all aspects of their lives. So says author Michele Borba, an internationally recognized parenting expert.Her new book — UNSELFIE: Why Empathic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, coming out this month — gives parents “science-backed” tools for teaching... more
Having two children hovering around either side of adolescence brings up new concerns to both to worry about and anticipate. Some concerns tap you right square on the nose and make your eyes water. They get you when you least expect them. As both of my kids encounter the talked about “change,” I’ve been doing some introspection on the... more
I never had such an appreciation for “the little things” in life until I had a brand-new baby in the house. In other words, when you haven’t had more than two consecutive hours of sleep in the last two months, you’ll appreciate anything that makes your life even slightly easier (dry shampoo, Bite Squad gift cards) or that takes your mind... more
 The Twin Cities is home to a vast array of green spaces, including a fantastic mix of small neighborhood parks, many phenomenal regional parks and even a variety of educational farms nestled into urban areas. With so many choices, it’s easy to miss some of the metro’s lesser-known natural areas. If you’re looking for a new ... more
The whole shebang starts during your first brave trip to the grocery store, solo, with a 2-week-old: You're rocking a look I might gently call postpartum chic (not in PJs) meets zombie apocalypse (green-grey circles under your eyes, paper-thin pasty skin, hormonally imbalanced and wild-eyed with hunger). A pack of evil grannies clucks... more
Prepping and maintaining your home for sale, especially when you have kids, can be an extremely stressful and seemingly impossible task.Every day is a battle to keep the house tidy — and days with scheduled showings are the most difficult. I recently sold my house with two kids (ages 2 and 4), so I can attest to the difficulty of prepping for... more
Q: Is there such a thing as a 4-month sleep regression? Our daughter was sleeping seven hours a night and now — at 3½ months — she gets up every three hours! A: Sleep regression at four months is challenging: Parents — whose babies begin to sleep through the night — are just finally feeling like they can get uninterrupted sleep. But... more
Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age — a 2016 documentary that explores how much screen time is too much — is now available for screenings nationwide.We here at Minnesota Parent wish someone would screen the film locally this year. Find out how at screenagersmovie.com, where parents also can find tons of resources — including “pro-social”... more
Last summer, I took my son to the elementary school parking lot for his first driving lesson. His birthday falls in October, not only a busy time, but also a time when, here in Minnesota, precipitation comes in many forms. I liked the idea of him being over the initial shock of taking control of a car — without the added stress of... more
When most of us think of the 4th of July (Independence Day) and Memorial Day, the common ideas that spring to mind include — days off work, family camping, parades, BBQs and fireworks.Ideally, though, the first idea we should think of is our nation’s freedoms and the people who work to protect those freedoms and us.Teaching your children that... more
Q: We think our son is a problem eater (versus just a picky eater) because he eats only 10 foods — at age 2! What can we do to help him?A: You are not alone, despite almost all parents feeling like they are. Feeding challenges in children are common and affect approximately 20 percent of kids. The majority of this 20 percent are picky eaters.... more
Q: Why does our 2-year-old insist on walking on his toes? A: When learning to walk, toddlers quickly discover that they have more control over their balance with their weight shifted slightly forward toward the balls of their feet. Then, when they lose their balance, they can more easily fall forward and use their arms and hands to break... more
Man’s best friend. A house is not a home without a cat. Honk if you love ferrets. Pet enthusiasts consider their furry and scaly friends to be part of the family. Of course, there are also humans who prefer household members be limited to those on two 10-toed feet. But, as parents, both the animal lovers and the animal shy, we all may... more
Jennifer Schwertfeger, a Mankato mother of three daughters, knows the trauma of NICU — and beyond — all too well.Her second daughter, Grace, was born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 6.2 ounces. Early on in her pregnancy, Schwertfeger faced complications, including a torn placenta in her sixth week and a large blood clot attached to her uterus... more
Feb. 8, 2009Hi Thomas. I’m your dad, Colin. Your mom, Rachel, and I are sitting with you in the NICU. You were born Feb. 5, 2009, at 7:07 p.m. Things have been hectic the last few days. You see, we weren’t expecting you for five more weeks. Unfortunately, your mom suddenly starting having some health issues that could have endangered both of you,... more
Whether you’re a new-mom-to-be on a quest for fresh knowledge, a friend looking for a fun baby-shower book or a grandparent in search of a perfect Mother’s Day gift for your daughter, we hope you’ll find something in this mix to pique your interest. Ma Doula: A Story Tour of BirthYou’ll hear a lot of birth stories during your pregnancy — be... more
Q: I’m pregnant. What can I do to protect myself against the Zika virus?A: Zika virus disease has become an international health concern because of the multiple countries currently affected by the virus. Mexico, Central America and the northern two-thirds of South America are countries where the virus currently is causing infections.... more
New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Larry Gonick continues his popular series of math, history and science books with The Cartoon Guide to Algebra ($18.99) — 222 playful pages tackling essentials such as variables, quadratic equations, rates, proportion and more. Paperback, e-book, Kindle and iPad versions are all available now.... more
I never told my kids I expected straight As from them. I’m not sure whether this is a good, bad or better thing. I just want them to do their best. I suppose the next obvious question is: How do I measure their best, exactly? Admittedly, I haven’t come up with a system yet. All I know is that during their elementary years I... more
Got an aspiring builder on your hands?Brackitz ($59.95 for a 100-piece set) — small wooden planks that connect to clear plastic brackets — allow for a multitude of creations that won’t sag or tip over as easily as some other sets.Find sets at store.discovery.com or amazon.com. more
Grit can be defined in a couple ways: 1) small, loose particles of stone or sand. 2) courage and resolve; strength of character.When we’re talking about raising children, pieces of dirt and sand are part of the package.But raising a child with courage, resolve and strength of character? That takes a little more effort and support on our part.Well-... more
By now you’ve probably come to know your pediatrician or family doctor fairly well. There are — after all — nine well visits between birth and the third birthday. And that’s to say nothing of the mysterious rashes, first colds, earaches and bumped heads. I spoke with local pediatrician Ilene Moore of Southside Medical Clinic in Minneapolis... more
As she drove away from Star Lake Wilderness Camp for the first time, Michelle Hargrave worried she’d made a huge mistake. She’d dropped her son, Zane Coyle, then 10, off in the middle of the woods, under a tarp in the rain — about 2½ hours north of their Twin Cities home — at a primitive campground in northern Minnesota. Zane would spend... more
Vonda White — a longtime insurance broker and now the founder of Camp Pillsbury — came to Minnesota in 2014.Her journey started about six years ago when she was living in Florida and looking for summer activities for her three kids. She wanted something to further their interests in the arts. Her administrative assistant suggested a camp in... more
A girl who looks no more than 9 years old spins gracefully — 25 feet in the air — her small hands gripping strips of bright blue silk, hanging from the ceiling.A young boy leaps on a large trampoline, flying ever higher with each bounce.Another girl whizzes past on a unicycle, leaning into a turn with an arm out for balance. Nearby, six kids... more
Nestled along the wooded shores of Turtle River Lake, about 12 miles northeast of Bemidji, Concordia Language Villages is a tranquil setting for a Minnesota camp. But as soon as visitors arrive at the 875-acre property, they quickly find they’re no longer in Minnesota. At Concordia Language Villages, villagers (not campers) are... more
As a working mom with four growing children, getting healthy  meals on the table is a daily challenge. My children have the kind of appetites that provoke “I cannot believe how much ______ eats!” comments from anyone who shares a meal with them. And they have such high metabolisms, it’s a necessity for us to buy pants that come with... more
Ever think about the sheer volume of marketing our kids are  exposed to? Me neither, most of the time. But the other day, I stumbled across (OK, I was on Twitter) a comprehensive study of media use by young people (tinyurl.com/study-mn). Among other things, I learned that kids age 8 to 12 average about six hours of “entertainment... more
You know your kid says outlandish and hilarious things all the time, right? But how can you capture those cute quotes beyond the occasional Tweet or Facebook post? Check out Milestone Mini Cards: These 100 small cards ($20), which come in a simple keepsake box, could be just the thing to motivate you.  more
Many parents know all too well the answer they’ll get if they ask their child what he or she did on any given day: “Nothing.” But after a day at a Revolutionary Sports summer camp, that answer might get a bit more interesting.It might go something like: “Soccer, basketball, cricket, Frisbee, lacrosse, handball AND tennis!” At... more
“There is a predictable pattern to teenage development, a blueprint for how girls grow. When you understand what makes your daughter tick, she suddenly makes a lot more sense.” So says author and psychologist Lisa Damour in her new book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood. Billed as some of the... more
I watch the news every morning with a cup of coffee in my hands — like clockwork — at 6:05 to be exact. The kids know this is the only time no one (not even dad) can ask to change the channel. No cartoons, no Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, no stage audience laughs, just the news.  My teenage son, who is up at 6 a.m. for the 7 a.m. bus, sits... more
With four kids under age 10 in our household, we’re exposed to our fair share of sibling squabbles, as you might imagine. My children have the typical arguments over toys, food, clothes, seats in the car and chairs at the table. We also experience over-the-top disputes, where I find myself mediating conflicts over a gummy bear. During these... more
When my daughter was 2, she developed a fascination with snowmen. We lived in New York at the time and it was an unseasonably warm winter. We weren’t making any actual snowmen, and when we did they weren’t to her liking. She favored round, perfect snowmen drawn on paper, and she asked me to draw them every day. “Draw snowman with dog,... more
Q: How many words should a normal 2-year-old be using?A:  2-year-old should have two to three dozen words that are generally easy to understand.  To start, it’s helpful to think about language in two parts: The first is receptive language: Does your toddler seem to understand what you’re saying? This part generally develops first. If he... more
 Q: I’m bottle-feeding our baby and I’m worried about overfeeding. Can you share your tips to avoid giving her too much?A: This is an excellent question. Infants, for the most part, take in only the calories they need to maintain their current health and provide for good growth. They rarely over-eat — or under-eat. If your baby’s... more
Like most parents, sometimes I get to feeling anxious about money.And sometimes this anxiety gets tangled up with angst about my career choice. I mean, sure, I like what I do. But writer/editor isn’t the most lucrative of careers. Would I be happier if I were making tons of money as a podiatrist or a high-powered corporate lawyer? Or some sort of... more
Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. In fact, publishers are catering to adults like never before with a bevy of adult coloring books released in the past year. The Doctor Who Coloring Book? Yep, that’s a thing. There’s also an Indie Rock Coloring Book (featuring pages dedicated to bands like Bon Iver and Iron & Wine) and The Tattoo Coloring... more
Q: Do you ever recommend probiotics for children?A: Probiotics may benefit kids in a number of ways, but research still needs to be done to understand exactly how they can be most beneficial.The intestinal tract contains millions of microorganisms — primarily bacteria and fungi (yeast). These microorganisms are generally considered either good... more
Pillow-fort season is upon us! Keep cabin fever at bay with a Discovery Kids 77-piece build-and-play construction set ($19.99). We recommend you buy two sets (or supplement your fort-making endeavors with your own furniture) if you want to create a roomy playhouse. Retailers include JC Penney, Kohl's, TJ Maxx, Toys R Us and Walmart. more
Over the last couple years, my husband and I have taken it upon ourselves to introduce our 15-year-old to some of things we loved when we were teenagers.Call it a walk down nostalgia lane. We’ve had many a Friday night listening to music, hopping around Spotify to find our favorites. Inevitably, it always returns to the ’80s.My son, who plays... more
On a bulletin board mounted to the wall above my computer I’ve hung a large desk calendar that acts as our family command center, perpetually organizing our fast-paced life with four young children.The oversized squares that encapsulate each date are chock-full with activities, meetings, schedules and reminders. Indeed, our family schedule is... more
Minnesota winters can be harsh, sure. But brrrrrr is our thing: We can take pride in our resilience and the fact that we have real seasons here. Honestly, who wants to live in California where it’s 70 degrees every day? (Wait, don’t answer that.) OK, so how can we teach our kids to enjoy and embrace the crisp, clean air of winter? Check out these... more
Without hesitation, you’d take your child to the emergency room for a broken arm, the dentist for a cavity, the pediatrician for a sore throat.But what do you do when your child suffers the death of a loved one, bullying at school or low self-esteem? What happens when you learn that your child is hurting other kids at day care, refusing to... more
Gabriel is a bright, adorable 5-year-old. He runs around the park, playing on the equipment, occasionally checking in with his mom, even trying, when urged, to include his 3-year-old sister, Cecilia, in the park’s cool climbing structure. “It’s his favorite,” said his mom, Tara Baker of Eagan.Things weren’t always this carefree for Gabriel.It... more
“The days are long, but the years are short.”“Enjoy every minute! It goes too fast.”“Don’t you just wish they could stay this way FOREVER?”Ah, the many clichés that we, our own parents and grocery-store busybodies, use to describe the phenomenon of watching our children grow up. The push for milestones, the simultaneous adrenaline and ache... more
When it comes to cultivating good kid habits — reading every day, saying please (and thank you) and cleaning up your own messes — it’s really never too young to get started. Now add to that list the habit of kindness: Researchers have found that caring and compassion skills can be practiced and, like a muscle, get stronger with use. Even... more
My 15-year-old son, like most modern American teenagers, spends a good deal of time on his phone. It’s easy to be one of two things as a parent: I can be tired of keeping up — and just forget trying to understand what Snapchat is — or I can try to keep up. I admit I’ve done a little of both. The first option is much easier.You need... more
Today’s games and puzzles are so well-designed — and in tune with kids’ and parents’ needs — they seem to play more like toys! And that’s making more and more of our playtime downright educational. Check out these awesome games (including a local favorite) for stocking stuffers and more!  Cat StaxWhy we love it: This game’s cute,... more
Q: What’s the best time to take away a pacifier?  A: The easiest time to get rid of a pacifier is to never start using one in the first place. I realize this isn’t a practical or popular suggestion, since the vast majority of infants probably use pacifiers to some extent. But I believe they really don’t need them. The next-... more
My 12-year-old daughter recently announced to me that she wanted to redecorate her room. She wanted it more grown up with a new color palette that involved: Anything. But. Pink.I saw this coming. She’s been looking, starry-eyed, at the new Pottery Barn Teen catalog for the past year, earmarking the pages along the way. Seeing this... more
Parenting has changed. No, I’m not referring to the changes one sees from generation to generation, I’m talking about what it was like to parent a mere 10 years ago.You know what we didn’t have then? Smartphones. Tablets. Phablets. Screen time.Today many of us sleep with our smart phones at the ready (if not under our pillows). And we’re... more
If you Google “best toys for babies,” you’ll come up with more than 37 million results. The offerings are varied and extensive, including a $23 NogginStik rattle — “not just a toy, a tool for laying mental growth foundation” — and a melodic snail that promises to “enhance sensory awareness, visual skills and hand-eye coordination.” Indeed,... more
Early childhood experts are always talking about how kids don’t need special toys: Just give a kid a cup, bowl or stick and let his imagination do the rest. This, they say, is how children learn — organic, creative, unplugged, self-directed play.And, for the most part, I believe this is true, especially for babies. (Check out the Baby on... more
Q: Our 5-year-old son’s teacher is hinting that he has ADHD because he can’t sit still in class. And yet, his grades are nearly perfect. We think he’s just being a normal kindergartener. How should we proceed?A: There’s a wide range of activity and attention levels in 5-year-old children. If your son is doing well academically, then... more
In the closet, on the shelf, under the bed, even underfoot … there are toys. They’re everywhere! The stuff kids’ dreams are made of are the same objects that create endless nightmares for parents — picking up, cleaning, sorting, finding missing pieces. Toy curation in a multi-child household is a never-ending story. Then there’s all the... more
Recently, one of the young girls on my block  rang my doorbell. She was selling homemade cupcakes. The price was reasonable, the treats looked delightful and my neighbor was beaming with obvious pride. Of course, I bought a few.Half an hour later, her sister rang the doorbell. She was selling homemade dog treats. These things looked... more
Soon we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving — a national day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the past year. In our society today, Thanksgiving is typically celebrated with a gathering and feast. But, often, the thankfulness aspect of the holiday seems to be overshadowed by the emphasis on the commercialism on the day after... more
When that first baby tooth starts to wiggle, you know your child is about to hit a major milestone or, rather, a series of milestones: From the age of about 5 to 12, the average child loses 20 baby teeth. That’s a lot of visits from the tooth fairy! These fun books and keepsakes will help you revel in the excitement, stimulate your child... more
This past summer I had the opportunity to travel out of state to attend an amazing professional development training. I put a lot of effort into finding adequate funding so I could attend and eventually bring some important information back to my school, my colleagues and the students in my classroom. I registered for the conference,... more
You have one minute to engage your kids: It’s a Monday, you have to get the kids to school, and you’re only on your first cup of coffee. What can you do that will help them think better and not annoy you? Do an art activity. What, you may ask, is an “art activity?”It’s something that exposes kids to art. Why should you do... more
Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? I have some recollections of the emotions I felt: I feared that the inner dialogue in my head was somehow shouting out to everyone around me. Of course, it wasn’t. But the crushes, the school pressures, the dynamics of my family life were all bubbling together inside me like they were in... more
There’s a good chance you’ve been hanging with “play groups” since before your child could even roll over. There are so many wonderful ways for parents to connect with peers and likewise expose babies to other babies — even if all that looks like is a small cluster of floor blankets with infants independently exploring their own toes. As your... more
Q: How early is it possible to detect signs of autism? A: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) primarily affects social and communication skills. Because of this, most children with ASD will achieve their motor-developmental milestones, such as sitting, crawling and walking at normal times.However, some signs of ASD may be observed as... more
The Saint Paul Public Library is the first library in the state to offer a new — free — children’s book-recommendation service called Beanstack for ages infant to 12. Families anywhere can sign up for book-recommendation emails based on their children’s reading skills, age and interests such as “Ninjas, Pirates and Warriors,” “Diverse Main... more
Mandarin. Hmong. Spanish. French. German. Korean. Ojibwe: No, these aren’t ethnic dining options — they’re Minnesota elementary-school language-immersion programs, and one of them may be the perfect choice for your soon-to-be kindergartener.Immersion education — in which all or most academic subjects are taught in a non-English target... more
As a longtime educator, I know first-hand just how important literacy is to early childhood development. But when I became a mother, I felt overwhelming anxiety over how to weave these skills into our daughter’s life when she was little. When Ella was born, we read to her from day one, of course. But I still felt a responsibility to... more
Instructions for the Noisy Ball ($25) — based on a traditional folk design — are quite simple, really: Grab, shake, squeeze. Crinkle, jingle, squeak. Its 36 soft velour panels in nine vibrant colors are designed to engage a baby’s senses of sight, touch and sound. And it’s machine washable.   more
Minnesota is home to a stunning selection of nature centers that offer programming for even the youngest of kids — as well as older explorers and would-be naturalists. Below are some highlights. Find more at exploreminnesota.com.Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul, dodgenaturecenter.orgEastman Nature Center, Dayton, tinyurl.com/... more
 Babies love to read books! Here are some of our top picks, all new to bookstores in the past year, including engaging animals, photos of a real infant in action and a Minnesota twist on a timeless classic. Goodnight LoonYou’ll find the same charming rhythm and rhyming of the Margaret Wise Brown original in this delightfully localized... more
Recently, my friend Jennifer was talking with her 7-year-old son, Jackson, about his allowance. She was introducing the spend-some, save-some, donate-some system, and he was excited about this step toward being a more responsible big kid. Jennifer said the conversation was breezy yet earnest as they talked about what he liked to use his... more
Q: How can we get our son, 4 months old, to sleep through the night? He’s still getting up every three hours.A: Infant sleep training has many notable gurus, Dr. Sears and Dr. Ferber, to name a few, who have devised methods to encourage sleep. The most important thing to recognize is that every baby is different and every parent has... more
As parents living in a digital age, many of us have thousands of pictures of our kids. But among those many images, certain photos stand out — signature shots that somehow speak perfectly to how we remember our kids in certain stages. They transport us back in time. I have several photos like this, and I can get lost in them if I look... more
Traveling around Minneapolis-St. Paul just got a lot more fun! Kid Around Town, a new free app by Twin Cities app designer and mama Aneela Kumar, is a family-friendly travel guide to top destinations around the Cities, featuring virtual scavenger hunts, trivia questions, photo challenges and a variety of other city “missions.”Developed for ages 6... more
Perhaps the thought occurred to you with a sharp headache and a grimace, as your toddler sweetly asked, “Can I help?”Maybe you were shamed when — at the neighborhood barbecue — a handful of other parents were already talking about allowance. What? Before potty training?Sometimes the subject comes up when we’re faced with a sudden request: Can I... more
When Betsy Batista found out she had cancer in 2014, the diagnosis was especially difficult as it meant she had to stop breastfeeding her 4-month-old daughter so that she could undergo chemotherapy. “I was devastated,” the St. Louis Park mom said. That’s when Batista’s doula told her about the possibility of donated milk: Mothers... more
Aija Mayrock was bullied throughout middle school and high school. Through it all, however, she learned a lot — and, at the age of 16, she wrote a lively, fun book to help kids age 10 and older not just survive, but thrive in the face of bullying. The Survival Guide to Bullying ($9.99) features tips, personal stories and quick quizzes... more
Princess-themed parties have been around for a long time, but the sensation of Anna and Elsa has given the trend a dramatic boost.Tiny Diva Princess Party offers a variety party options with characters from Frozen, including a single princess for $175, two characters for $300 (Anna and Elsa or Anna and Kristoff) or a cast of four (Anna, Elsa,... more
 Shoe shopping with a toddler can be a total pain.And, yet, you need your little one along with you to get just the right size — or do you? With a Squatchi ($19.99), parents can measure tiny feet at home. Made of durable polystyrene, the Squatchi can be a keepsake, too, if you write you kid’s size on it every year before the start of school.... more
Parenting a toddler can be — at times — tumultuous, exhausting, frustrating, even farcical. And that’s on a good day! They throw tantrums, they poop their pants, they declare independence when — and only when — you’re running late and don’t have time for them to pick out and put on their own clothes. It’s a wild ride, to say the least.... more
As a young tween, my daughter participated in a Destination Imagination tournament — an academic, kid-focused, think-outside-the-box program in which teams create and participate in challenges. Its goals are admirable: Encouraging kids to work together as a team, trust one another’s different gifts and ideas, and improve their critical-... more
AMUSEMENTSRainbow Play Systems showroom, Bloomington — Sarah Fejfar, Mendota HeightsGrand Slam, Burnsville — Kelly Marsh, Prior LakePump It Up — Jenny MacCourt, PlymouthBrunswick Zone. Very organized and I just sat back. Everything was taken care of! — Shauna Coble, Saint FrancisMemory Lanes, Minneapolis — Matthew Larkey,... more
My boys are 13 and 11, which means I’ve thrown roughly two dozen birthday parties over the past decade or so (no wonder I’m so tired). I’ve never been a skilled party-giver, but nor am I a fool. In those years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two about birthday parties. And so, if some cruel twist of fate were to subject me to... more
IT WAS A DARK, COLD, MINNESOTA NIGHT. My mom was visiting from Wisconsin, and we were working in the kitchen, preparing supper. Looking at the clock, I suddenly realized I’d forgotten about my 4-year-old’s dance class, which was about to start. My heart rate jumped as I zipped around getting her bag ready and telling her we needed to get out... more
Objective: Bounce your balls onto the grid to create the required patternsAges: 7 and older, but younger kids can play tooPlayers: 2 to 4Cost: $17.99Why you’ll love it: This game is addictive, fast paced and quick to play. It makes a great birthday party game, or even an interesting way to decide who dries the dishes or picks up the toys... more
Before I had kids, people warned me that “they” watch everything you do. I didn’t quite believe it until I had my two girls. Fast forward nine years later and I have two sets of feet following me everywhere — in the bathroom, when I’m in the shower, when I’m on the phone and, of course, while I’m watching my favorite television show... more
Believe me, I know how it happens. You’re in a hurry. You’re only going to be in the sun for a little while, no big deal. Besides, you’ve exposed your precious hide to the elements before, and nothing bad happened. It’s hard to get worked up about consequences that might be waiting in the future. (And of course as soon as you go swimming... more
I was 21 years old the first time I travelled abroad. My final destination was a semester-long study program in Cheltenham, England. My plane from the West Coast landed in Boston along with a terrible snowstorm that cancelled my flight to New York City, where I was supposed to meet the college group I’d be travelling with to the UK.... more
My son was 2, approaching 3, when he made what is still one of his most iconic declarations. We were trying out Guitar Hero on the Wii and it was his turn to muddle through Pat Benatar. In Pull-Ups, no less, he strapped on the faux guitar and turned to me: “Mama, I’m gonna rock this and you better f***ing clap.”So many emotions, Toddler... more
 I used to exercise all the time. I loved the gym! OK, liked is more accurate. But it felt good to work out. I especially liked the challenge of the escalator stair machine. Hot yoga, kick boxing and hiking were my other favorites.Then I had my son. And, boy, did I get lazy with working out. I was tired. I had... more
Objective: Collect the penguin’s eggs by remembering their colors when your turn rolls around.Ages: 4 and olderPlayers: 2 to 4Cost: $29.99Why you’ll love it: This imaginative twist on the classic Memory game not only features penguins, (and what kid doesn’t love penguins?), but it also develops brain-building recall skills.  Pengoloo... more
For many years, the mention of summer brought to my mind images of my kids spending far too long in their jammies. I can picture them still holding onto the coziness of their sleep with untamed bedheads and quiet play in their rooms. A new day meant a new opportunity to linger at an undiscovered park or pool, and endless places to picnic... more
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours a day. Despite that advice, screens time is second only to sleep as the thing our kids spend the most time doing, according to a study conducted by the National Institute on... more
Looking for a fresh way to bring science to life? Brains On! — a new podcast for kids — answers a variety of listener questions. Each episode is about 25 minutes long and is hosted by a different kid. Find out: How and why do jellyfish sting?What makes paint stick? How do volcanoes erupt? Does video game music affect you?In a world in which STEM... more
Chewbeads — a popular maker of colorful, chew-safe necklaces — has introduced a stroller / car seat toy attachment known as the Gramercy. It seems like the perfect distraction for curious babies who like to touch, tug, and chew on the go. It’s 100 percent silicone and available in four colors.$15 • chewbeads.com more
Q: Our 3-year-old is having tantrums that last more than 30 minutes. What is going on?A: Imagine being too small to see what you’re looking for, dependent on others to offer you something to eat or drink and too uncoordinated to perform the skills you think you’re capable of. You have no choice in your wardrobe, daily agenda or... more
A friend of mine recently confessed, “I don’t have the make-believe gene. I love my kid, but I don’t like to play with him.” While I consider this mama to be one of the very best I know and saw absolutely no shame in her confession, I felt something shamefully “superior” inside. Pride? Relief? Accomplishment?I consider myself a... more
Q: Our son is 21 months old and not talking beyond the word “Mama.” Should we be concerned? His older sister was talking in sentences much earlier.A: This is a great question and important issue to address with your pediatric clinician sooner rather than later. Optimal speech and language development in toddlers depend on a lot of... more
Q: Help! Our teenage son has terrible acne. Over-the-counter products are just not working. Is this a hormone issue? Would prescription medications fix it?A: Yes, it’s a hormone issue. And, yes, there are many prescription options that can work if the over-the-counter products aren’t helping.Acne results from increased sebum (oily substance)... more
“Your form is perfect,” said my dance instructor as he analyzed my pliés. “But it’s frozen. You need to bring yourself to the movement.” I used to take an entry-level modern dance class every week. I started these classes as an absolute beginner, with no formal dance experience. My instructor, John Munger, was a local dance legend, and I very... more
We’ve all seen those Facebook posts and chain emails that recall a simpler childhood — free of cell phones and full of outdoor adventures with boundaries in the form of a neighbor’s corner lot and the end of play time determined by the street lamps flickering on at dusk. We look back fondly on biking to school and epic games of tag, twisting... more
My kids pull weeds. I should say, my husband and I make our kids pull weeds. Torture?Maybe, for us. We started this when we lived in Austin, Texas. It’s hot there, like really hot. So the weed pulling thing didn’t have a lot of initial appeal for them. To be honest, it didn’t have much appeal for me either.Our yard started out like those found on... more
Picture this: You call your 7-year-old for dinner, and she comes running into the dining room, even though she knows your house rule is no running inside — and drops your iPhone on the floor. Boom, cracked screen. Or how about this: While emptying the dishwasher, your 10-year-old gets a little hyper and puts all his weight on the open silverware... more
Years ago, when my kids were climbing out of their toddler years and starting school, I came across a fascinating theory about childhood development. It went something like this: A child’s trust belongs to his mom until about age 7. After that, the child transfers that same trust to his father to carry him into his tween years. As the child grows... more
I’ve recently developed a strong interest in researching and applying mindfulness strategies in both my personal life and in my teaching profession. There’s strong evidence that mindfulness practices can help children and adults build emotional resilience. Mindfulness can also be an empowering method of developing daily self-regulation and stress-... more
Q: How long is it safe to swaddle our baby? She’s now 3 months old and starting to break out, even as we swaddle her tighter, sometimes double-wrapping her.A: Swaddling infants to help them sleep has been around for a very long time. It’s a classic way of helping comfort young infants and it allows them to sleep for longer stretches. It’s... more
Drums pound in the distance. A trumpet signals a charge. Suddenly a hoard of warriors — decked out with helms and axes — charges toward the castle, attempting to break down the gates. The defenders inside, whose armor all shares a symbol of a boar upon it, ready their swords and shields and quietly reaffirm their planned strategy to repel the... more
My 2-year-old daughter loves playing in water, so I thought signing us up for some parent/child swimming lessons would be a good idea. It's been really great spending time in a warm pool in the middle of winter. I signed us up to take a Parent & Child Class through Bloomington/Richfield Community Education Services. We've had five lessons... more
My oldest daughter was a reluctant camper. Every year, she went because we told her she had to and that she might (one day!) enjoy it. We started trying various overnight camps in first grade. She always packed at the last minute and routinely copped an attitude when we’d near the grounds. Each year we’d hold our breath, hoping she’... more
You know you’re having a tough time with potty training when an emergency trip to Chicago starts to seem like a good idea. That was the case for Julie Bixby, a Dellwood mother of two. Desperate to get her 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Isabella, potty trained, Bixby became intrigued when she read about a woman in the Windy City who guaranteed... more
Q: My toddler (20 months) is starting to climb out of her crib. Do we need a toddler bed already? A:  Yes. For your daughter’s safety, transitioning to a toddler bed is recommended. The act of climbing out of the crib is dangerous. It could result in a limb fracture from an arm or a leg trapped in between the crib slats, or, because... more
Most of us try to be mindful about how we spend our money. We compare prices, and we evaluate things like ingredients, features and benefits. As parents, we’re not only being prudent stewards of our family’s finances, we’re also setting an example for our kids. That’s why it makes sense to take mindful spending to a higher level: Discuss with... more
Hello, Minnesota!Let me introduce myself: My name is Megan Devine. I live with my husband, daughter (age 9) and three sons (ages 7, 5 and 3) in Northeastern Minnesota. I’m delighted to be joining the team at Minnesota Parent — to share my perspective as a mother and an educator — as the publication’s new School Days columnist. I live on... more
Q: My 5-year-old watches a lot of TV, but he’s also playing at the same time with LEGOs. Does this count as screen time?A: Yes, it counts. Reducing screen time to no more than two hours per day is a good approach with all children, regardless of what else they may be doing at the same time. Multitasking with LEGOs is probably... more
It was official — I was pregnant. I'd suspected I could be, taken a home test and gotten confirmation from my doctor's office. What happened next?One of the first things I did after getting the results from my blood test was to go to Target and pick up a copy of the book every expectant mother should read. Of course I'm talking about What to... more
Walk into your average toy store, and the thing you notice almost immediately is the noise. There are toys that talk. Toys that sing. Toys that beep and chirp and make all sorts of other indescribable sounds. And many of these toys will bring joy to the children who receive them.But how long will that joy last? And will these toys help stimulate... more
When my son entered middle school — the dead center of the tween years — he seemed to lose his head. And I couldn’t figure out why.During his elementary years, schoolwork seemed almost effortless for him. Always easygoing and friendly, confident and calm, he was a natural in the classroom.He was a verbal processer, so he’d happily talk through... more
Q: What can I do to help my child get through teething?A: Teething usually first occurs starting at about 4 to 7 months old. Usually the front top or bottom two teeth emerge first. (If your infant is older than 7 months and still doesn’t have any teeth showing, don’t worry. Teething times can vary dramatically.)Teething can cause mild irritability... more
Toddler parents: There are some among you who deserve a special shout-out. You’re warriors of a different distinction. I’m talking about those of you who have not one but two or — have mercy — three toddlers.Perhaps your “perfect” pink-hued, albeit over-romanticized, pre-pregnancy vision included two angelic little girls — one year apart. You... more
It’s a common scenario for a new mom out in public — a grandmotherly woman approaches you to ooh and ahh over your baby, usually commenting, “It goes so fast!” On the day in question for me, I was out with my 6-month-old son at the grocery store, fielding the usual comments from a friendly older woman. “What a sweetheart!” she said as Felix... more
Q: I’m wondering about the value of the many well-baby visits required for my 6-month-old. She seems very healthy. Why do they need to see her so often?A: Children should have routine well-child visits quite frequently, especially during the first two years. Though it can feel taxing, this schedule of visits was developed by expert... more
Shakespeare called it “the food of love.” It can calm nerves, ignite passions and sooth a broken heart. It’s a part of nearly every celebration and ceremony. Some might call it the common language of our world. What would your favorite movie be without it? What would life be without it?We’re talking, of course, about music.And it’s not just... more
When Melissa Navratil and her family hosted a woman from Colombia as part of an international exchange program, she expected her two oldest daughters, in fourth and sixth grade, to be able to chat at least a bit using the Spanish they’d learned at their immersion school.But she didn’t expect her son — a first-grader at the time — to speak so... more
Q: How can I get my kids to better embrace their fall sleep schedules? A: Sleep issues are common for infants, children and teenagers. It’s rare for families not to have to deal with this issue after summer breaks, especially. The best advice is patience and age-appropriate expectations. One of the biggest obstacles to a good... more
When you’re 3 years old and the only child in the house, change can be difficult to handle. You’ve been pampered, perhaps, your entire life and, presumably, have had things fall in your favor more often than not.Then mom and dad decided to make the family a quartet.Oh. Well, that’s different. That’s a huge adjustment.Luckily for Josie... more
Your baby cries. That’s normal, of course. But what if your baby really cries? A lot. And you begin to hear repeatedly — when in the presence of grandmothers, opinionated observers and even your pediatrician — the word “colic.”The Mayo Clinic defines colic as predicable periods of distress in an otherwise healthy, well-fed... more
Q: What’s the story on pacifiers, nipple confusion and nursing? What about thumb sucking? I’m expecting next month and would like some information.A: Infants find sucking to be very soothing. They also like to exercise their facial structures and this probably helps enhance speech and language skills. It’s an important developmental task and way... more
When summer unofficially ends — egad! — in just a few weeks, it’ll be time for many Minnesota parents to get into a different kind of groove: Back to school! We’ll stock up on supplies and maybe even update our kids’ wardrobes. It’s goodbye flip-flops and hello new gym shoes! And so long Slip ’N Slide and nice to meet you, glue sticks.But it’... more
Q:  What can I do to help my child get ready for kindergarten?A: Transitioning to school can be a big deal for many 5-year-olds — most of the time in a very positive way. Reinforcing the notion of this being such a “big boy” thing to do — and how great it is that he’ll be starting kindergarten this fall — will ease the... more
Potty training is like the SATs of toddler parenting — hard, confusing, exhausting, sometimes pointless. Getting through successfully allows you to move on to bigger and better things, but your memories afterward are disjointed and hazy. There are books, boot camps, videos, trained professionals, singing toilet seats, sticker charts and... more
It’s that time again — time to introduce my baby to the exciting world of solid foods! At least, I wish I felt excited about it. In theory, it’s a momentous time in the life of a baby. My little son, for the first time in his short life, will step away from the familiar world of milk to try his first bites of “real” food. It’s one of his... more
Parenting is full of unexpected phenomena.One of the craziest, if you ask me, is insanity that ensues when a young child opens his or her birthday presents at a big, public party.It started for our family during the preschool years when we began having bouncy-house birthday parties for our son.After jumping around like crazy animals for an hour,... more
Kipton got his first “big boy” bike for Christmas this year. It’s a blue Huffy with training wheels. And of course it had the one feature he insisted on — the world’s loudest horn. Naturally, he grew more and more restless to try his bike as the winter dragged on. When it was finally warm enough for him to give it a try outside, he pedaled... more
In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics started encouraging parents to lay healthy infants younger than 1 on their backs for sleep rather than on their side or stomach. In 1994, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development joined in the public education effort with its “Back to Sleep” campaign. The goal was to reduce the risk... more
Q: Our 4-year-old triplet girls are starting preschool. Should they be in separate classrooms?A: In working with families that have twins or triplets, one of the biggest challenges is for the children to develop their own, separate identities over time. Having them all in the same classroom, unless there isn’t another option, tends to... more
Five years ago, when my daughter Louisa was finishing seventh grade, her English teacher gave the class one last assignment: Write a letter to your future, high school senior self. Include a description of your current likes, dislikes and accomplishments; write down some reminders of what you want to do as a senior; and make some predictions.The... more
Before motherhood, I maintained a normal, healthy relationship with dinosaurs. I mean, I’d been to the natural history museums in New York and D.C., as well as the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. I’ve seen huge finds — fossils and murals — and tour guides stage-whispering, “Can you even imagine a living creature THIS tremendous?”Neat, I’d... more
“If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could see the pressure modern mothers put on themselves, they'd think we were insane.”That’s how Bunmi Laditan, the Quebec-based author of wildly popular “Honest Toddler” book and blog opened her post, “I’m Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical.”“Ah, yes,” I thought. “This is just what I need, something... more
One of the trickiest things about parenting for me these past six years has been managing expectations.
It all started with What to Expect When You’re Expecting and What to Expect: The First Year. These books led me to believe my baby boy would behave in a certain way (the correct way). And if he didn’t, I was worried, frustrated and, when it came... more
Q: My 3-year-old son was recently diagnosed with severe food allergies. We frequently enjoy picnics during the summer with our friends and family. What can we do to prevent exposure to foods that will cause reactions?A: Be very aware of all the foods available at the picnic. Since you know what foods your child is sensitive to, this will eliminate... more
I considered myself lucky this spring. While many parents of high school seniors were helping their children cram in visits to multiple college campuses before making a final decision, our family was spared that down-to-the-wire stress. My daughter, Louisa, has known since last fall that she’ll be attending a four-year art school in... more
When it comes to discussions of all things parenting-related, I can’t help but notice that the focus is almost always on the mother’s perspective. So in honor of Father’s Day this year, I’d like to present Part 2 of my interview series with my husband, Nick, about his experience as a parent. What was it like being at the birth this time?(Note... more
They go from breast or bottle to something mashed and messy — big grins and sticky hands. They examine individual peas and black beans before giving them a taste. They delight in the rite-of-passage, first-birthday frosting face; and they want to try everything on your plate.And then, one day — suddenly and without warning — bananas are yucky.... more
As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to keep your kids as safe as possible. But when it comes to car-seat safety, it’s often easier said than done.  Not only do the laws change when new information about best practices becomes available, sometimes we assume that the legal requirements (see resources below) are enough, when, in... more
Moss-covered rocks. Dusty LEGO sets. Countless sticks, crammed into a corner. These are the “treasures” of my 11-year-old’s room.I’m well aware of his love for stuff. It’s a fun ritual when he’ll show me his collection of rocks, cards or erasers. But I’m starting to wonder if his little collections are getting out of control. Desk drawers are... more
There’s something magical about spring, especially in Minnesota when bitterly cold winters keep us cooped up for long stretches. If you’re looking for something the whole family can enjoy doing outdoors this year, here are four container gardening projects we promise your kids will love. They’ll be delighted to find they can grow not just... more
“I always imagine good parents teaching their children Spanish, or how to play the flute as soon as little Bri or Megan can sit up. I’ve taught mine how to consume pasta without silverware and zone out in front of the tube.” — Jerry Stahl, “Bad Moments in Parenting,” therumpus.netI wasn’t prepared for the guilt.Even though I’d heard of “mother’s... more
During the toddler years, you move from baby to big kid, from baby-wearing to holding hands, from “Ah goo” to “No!” complete with foot stomping. This new independence is breathtaking, in every sense of the word. You clap, hoot and holler as your child jumps into the pool — your loving arms outstretched and waiting, heart beating fast. You... more
Q: We’re past the stage of baby-and-me swimming classes. When is a good time to enroll my twin sons in swimming lessons?A: Helping children be safe and comfortable in and near the water can start at a very young age, as you’ve already learned. Once a child is about 3 years old, families can usually find places in their community that hold... more
There is a sweet duality in the developing toddler brain — boundless imagination alongside a tendency to be extremely literal. We ask them not to actually eat the dusty, colorful fallen leaves on the ground and later make a “garden salad.” Or we watch as they stare — perplexed — at the dark sky, after the announcement that it’s raining cats... more
When it comes to deciding whether or not a child is ready for a sleepaway camp this summer, many parents rely on the successful completion of some major life events, including getting through most nights without wetting the bed, or happily managing an overnight sleepover at a friend’s house.While those are excellent indicators, there are some... more
An oft-expressed regret of adults is the missed opportunity to learn a second language in those precious and fleeting years when language acquisition is a joyful task of exploration and acceptance for young minds, not the daunting undertaking many older language-learners encounter. Beyond the practical benefits for living and working in a hyper-... more
On a 6,300-acre wildlife preserve, summer campers hunt, fish, hike and swim throughout a diverse northern Minnesota landscape of forest, lakes, rivers and bogs. Founded in 1973, the Deep Portage Learning Center in Hackensack is a nature preserve and conservation education center that opens its expansive grounds every summer to hundreds of... more
Q: We are expecting a new baby in three months. How do we get our toddler ready for the arrival of her baby brother or sister?A: In spite of the great joy that it brings to parents and grandparents, the birth of a new brother or sister can be very disruptive to the future older sibling, especially if the older sibling is a first born. Even under... more
Samantha Hedwall’s toddler, A.J., knows what she wants.The Mankato mom tried putting her in pink, but the two-year-old denied her. “She did not want bows in her hair and she did not want to wear a dress,” Hedwall says. A.J. wanted a tool set like her dad’s and only wears her “princess shirts” when she feels like it. It was frustrating... more
Tan-trum [tan-truh m] noun. A demonstration of rage or frustration; a sudden burst of ill temper. Synonymous with: the toddler years.Toddlers are cute, cuddly, and hilarious—a barrel of fun and wonder and butterfly kisses. They are also miniature versions of the Incredible Hulk—easily provoked and instantly transformed from a total sweetheart into... more
I often find myself fascinated; observing what I feel are perhaps my natural habitat’s most incredible creatures: toddlers—and their parents.Seriously. I stand there in the coffee aisle at Target, head tilted, watching as a mother explains—for at least the fifteenth time—that, “the shopping cart is not, in fact, a racecar…Honey."Mouth agape, I... more
If you have a tween, you’ve been parenting long enough to have navigated a number of safety issues regarding your offspring, whether it’s seat belts, sunscreen, or secondhand smoke. But if you’re like me, you may have overlooked a concern that’s been right under your nose all along—or, more accurately, on either side of your head: hearing loss.... more
There’s a great scene in Paula Bomer’s novel Nine Months when the main character, Sonia, is grilled by a friend about her choice in preschool.Sonia: “Tom and Mike go to Open Arms Nursery. That little place down Atlantic.” [Her friend reacts with a look of alarm.] “My theory is, it’s preschool. It doesn’t matter so much. As long as they’re having... more
I should always bring Kleenex to parent-teacher conferences. Every October, it never fails: something a teacher says about one of my three children will cause a lump to form in my throat and tears to materialize. Parental pride mixes with gratitude as I think to myself, “This teacher really gets my kid!”Last fall, it was a conversation with my son... more
It was a beautiful song. All the orchestral instruments were playing as one, the music swelling at just the right moments. But as the song progressed, I noticed some weren’t quite in sync. I could hear certain instruments lagging behind the tempo, and others racing along, ahead of the conductor. I’m not sitting in an audience, however. I’m... more