Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


TV for Babies?

Yesterday (3/30/15) the Wall Street Journal reported on a new TV channel just for babies called BabyFirst.  According to the article, “It’s Really Here: TV for 6-Month-Olds” BabyFirst reaches 50 million households.  Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO TV for children under the age of two, this is apparently not the trend.  The article stated that children 2-4 years old average about 34 HOURS of screen PER WEEK.  Yikes!  It’s not like we’re missing the recommended target (zero screen time) a little bit.  We are way off.  That’s more than a day and a half each week or 73 1/2 days a year!

Interestingly, I read this article right finishing a two-week experiment.  I recorded the number of hours my toddler (3 years old) and I spent in nature and the number of hours of his screen time.  I did this mainly because his temper tantrum rate had increased to about 1 tantrum a day, lasting well over an hour.  I was unsure what to do so I prescribed some nature therapy.  What I found was that the more time we spent in nature and away from any screens, the less tantrums.  Now I admit that there could be many other variables involved, such as not feeling well, travel, food, sleep, weather.  Although I can’t conclusively prove it, I sure seems like more nature and less screen time has significantly reduced tantrums.  I was so happy and inspired by the result that we weaned off of screen time almost completely.  He still watches some TV here and there, such as March Madness with his Dad, but it is SO much easier to just say no – no screen time.  Otherwise, I completely lose track and without even knowing it screen time slowly increases until it’s out of control.  If, however, the idea of NO TV or screen time seems too extreme then you could still keeping a chart and track screen time.  Post it on the refrigerator and try for some time with nature.

My heart goes out to parents and I know all about the TV temptation.  My favorite screen time is at a restaurant when my toddler finishes his food in about 5 minutes.  If I hand him my iphone and he becomes engrossed in YouTube or games, my husband and I can almost have a real conversation.  It’s almost like a date!  But at what cost?  The last time we went out to eat I resisted pulling out my phone and we survived just fine.  We talked more with our toddler and did not stay as long but I think it was worth it.  And there were no tantrums.

How do you limit screen time?  Is screen time out of control?  What do you think about the new TV channel for babies?


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Book Recommendation: “Better Than Before”

I’m enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better than Before.  I loved her first two books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home.  Through her books, I learned that I’m an “obliger” and a “finisher”.  I do very well with external expectation but not inner expectations.  Meaning, I put everyone else first before myself.  I wake up and wonder: What is expected of me today?  I’m great at being a role model and supporter but I tend to not leave time for what I want to do.  With these types of tendencies, I need external accountability.  I find this information SO POWERFUL when it comes to making or breaking habits and organizing or prioritizing my day.  Now I know why I LOVE to read but never find the time!  If you want to figure out whether you are an obliger (me), upholder, rebel or questioner (my husband) you can take a short quiz on Rubin’s website.

I highly recommend this book!  What are you reading?


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Pictures of Spring – Nature Walks

Are you starting to see signs of Spring?  With the warm weather, the boys (4 months and 3 years) and I have been taking nature walks.  I like to think of it as nature therapy.  Nature according to my definition does not include playgrounds or backyards, although those are nice and fun too.  My requirement for a nature walk is that it does not include anything man-made as much as possible.  I prefer a trail through the woods.  It’s almost magical.  After the first 30 minutes, my toddler stops asking about other things and seems to become aware of the environment.  During the next 1/2 hour, he lets loose and runs or frolics.  During the second hour, he becomes absorbed in nature, oblivious to time and me.  He’s relaxed, energized and very, very happy.  It’s difficult to describe and yes, we take 2 hour walks.  I put the little one in the Moby Wrap and off we go.  Sometimes we get lost.  These have been my favorite hours of the day and week.  There is something magical about nature and SPRING!

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Toddler (Spring) Fever

Springtime is like a toddler.  One moment a lamb and the next moment a lion.  Quick to change, a whirlwind of activity, excited about everything, and ready to begin again and again and again.  My toddler is about to turn 3 and just like the 2 year old lion we met at the zoo – he’s found his roar!  (Lions develop their roaring capability after they turn two.)  Just like I’ve completely given up on the weatherman (because who can blame him, the weather changes every second in the spring – rain one minute, sun the next, 70 degrees back to 50 degrees in a day), I have given up predicting my toddler.  My 3 1/2 month old is more predictable!  I DO know that summer will arrive eventually.

This past week I retreated to my parents house at the beach for a respite (or as close as I’ll ever get!).  My husband is away traveling and in addition to that disruption we have dealt with stomach bugs, sore throats (me), runny noses, temper tantrums, and the usual travel conditions – new routines, new foods, new places, new temper tantrums (did I mention that already?).  When I think about all we’ve done, it seems that my toddler has weathered the storm quite heroically.  Through it all I have continued a learn-on-the-go, Montessori-inspired, education philosophy.  The beach is one HUGE sensorial bin.  I have “followed the child” down the beach for an aimless, toddler walk.  We have discovered nature at the zoo and listened to grandparents reading stories.

So, my question…how do you keep education rolling along when everything else is constantly changing?  School work during trips?  At the grandparent’s house?  At the beach?  On springbreak?

Pictures from our trip to Nana’s and Papa’s at the beach…

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Distinguishing Sounds Activity

I believe there are several versions of this activity.  I’m curious how you would structure this game.  I took three noisy items (keys, bells, and rocks), showed them to my toddler (almost 3 years old) and then placed the items in three brown bags.  I shook each bag and had B guess which item was in the bag.  He had to guess based only on the sound.  He also had fun reaching into the bags, feeling the items, and naming them – so distinguishing the items based on touch.  This activity encourages your toddler to pay attention, listen, and distinguish sounds.

Do you have a similar distinguishing sounds activity?