Every age has its joys and challenges, and for me one of the challenges of having a 1yr old is keeping him content and happy while we are out and about, shopping, attending church, driving long distances etc. Colin is generally a happy child, but he is definitely active so being confined to the car seat, stroller, shopping cart or pew can be met with some resistance. This edition of "Favorite Things" will outline my 'secret weapons'. The items I turn to when Colin starts to loose interest and patience with his current activity but the situation doesn't call for changing activities just yet.
Baby Einstein: Look at Me! Mirror Discovery Cards: I could have said flash cards in general but this set has really captivated him a lot recently so figured I would give it top billing. Colin loves books, but when we are out and about books are sometimes cumbersome or require too much participation from me. He is much more independent minded with flash cards right now, so I can participate for a moment and then go back to what I was doing (like picking the right peanut butter) without much complaint from him. I particularly love the cards that are attached with a ring (these aren't) because he can't drop each and every one when he is done looking at it, but different situations can handle different types. These, for example, work well in the car because aside from looking at the card he also enjoys taking them out of the box and then putting them back in (although if he can't get one to fit things can go down hill quickly.)
FruitaBu Organic Smooshed Fruit: My next few items are food related, which honestly at this age is a GREAT distraction. While he has mostly mastered feeding himself, this item is delivered like fruit-by-the-foot and therefore is not something he actually can eat without help. Therefore this is my current go-to, in church. I rip off a piece and give it to him and he goes back to people watching for a varying amount of time (depending on how interesting the people are) before requesting more. And can I tell you, I failed to recognize that signing would be so advantageous in church!?!? He can communicate with me without actually making a peep! It is great.The best part is that there is enough to last quite some time as long as I don't make the pieces too big.
Pirate's Booty : This was introduced to Colin by my sister, or more accurately by my nephew. If you have never eaten them, this particular type (Aged White Cheddar) is a hybrid of a cheeto (the puffy kind not the crunchy kind) and a piece of popcorn. The perfect size for Colin to get in his mouth in one bite. The best part is that there are no artificial ingredients or preservatives so while it isn't exactly a 'healthy snack' it also isn't a cheeto! The 1oz bags are the perfect size to open and hand him while he is in the shopping cart and he happily munches away and watches me shop. We have almost gotten to the point where he doesn't ripe open the entire bag and sprinkle the contents on the floor or in his lap, but I have been know to run back to the produce section for a plastic bag because he destroyed the original bag while I wasn't paying attention.
Toddler Mum-Mums: This one we don't get to use that often because I havn't found them in NYC but Colin really likes them. That will change now (probably both the 'not using them often' and the 'him really liking them' parts) since I just ordered them in bulk from Amazon (along with a new snack we'll be trying out..hey I had to get free shipping! right Julie?) Colin used to enjoy the baby mum mums but once he got a taste of these guys the baby ones were no longer acceptable. These have a strawberry flavor but still have that great Mum Mum texture that dissolves quickly and breaks cleanly with less crummy mess. We call them cookies for Colin's benefit but with only 1g of sugar they are more like a cracker. No guilt when I had these over that is for sure!
Open the Barn Door : This has been a great distraction tool since Colin was able to sit up. We have clocked countless hours with this one while in church. He will literally ask to read it over and over and over and over again (to the point where we have resorted to reading it upside down for a little excitement.) There really isn't much to it other than the lift and see flaps (that are surprisingly sturdy) with animals hiding underneath. Sean or I usually end up whispering the "Who says XYZ" part while Colin attempts to lift the flap to see who is hiding. This book is at least part of the reason Colin knows his animal sounds, even if most of the time this was read at a whisper. While looking this up on amazon I saw what looks like the zoo animal equivalent and added that to my mum mum order. I'll let you know if he enjoys that one as much.
So that's it for me. What are your secret weapons for getting your toddlers to behave? I can't wait for some new ideas.