Weekend Picks from Parenting in the Loop

Weekend Picks from Parenting in the Loop

Labor Day marks the end of summer and the start of school.

Lunch Box and Labor Day Weekend

I know here in the midwest many schools are already back and the mad rush for supplies has slowed down to a crawl but some of us are last minute shoppers and wait until our kids see what others are buying. This procrastination is sometimes hard but great if your kids want to be like the rest of the pack. It keeps you from running to exchange things and filling up an already busy weekend schedule.

My friend Julie Cole from Canada has some great suggestions on her blog page for school supplies and helpful items that will withstand the test of time throughout the school year. Julie is a mom of six so she has plenty of experience in the back to school shopping routine. She is one of my favorite moms to read especially on weekends when I have some extra time. Her blog posts are humorous, helpful and always a delightful break for me. I met Julie a few years ago at a conference of bloggers and every year I look forward to seeing her and catching a quick hello and hug from her.

I hope you enjoy her posts as much as I do. And catch her at Mabel’s Labels as well, there is a link on my side bar. It is no fun losing kids’ stuff. Also if you have kids with allergies there are labels for lunch boxes and bags that alert teachers and the lunchroom staff of you child’s allergies.


It’s that time again! Back to school, back to reality. Here are some great products to help all your days be smooth ones.  Let’s talk litterless lunches:

Source: Favourite Back-to-School Products From a Mama of Many :: YummyMummyClub.ca

Have a great Labor Day Weekend Everyone!

Tips for Helping Kids Make Their Own Lunch

Tips for Helping Kids Make their Own Lunch


kids lunch

School has started or will start very soon and so will school lunches.

Yikes! As a mom my school lunches were not all that interesting nor were they all that healthy, I have to admit at this stage of my life as a grandmother. But for the past two years I have watched my daughter make lunch for her daughter, who is now in 3rd grade and it was such a vastly different food experience than in my days of kids’ lunches.

I began to research information on interesting lunches that were both healthy and tasty. Sometimes the healthy part was hidden and could not even be tasted except by very discerning tastebuds. Along with my daughter we came up with some beautiful combinations that my granddaughter both enjoyed and requested again and again.

We loved Planet Lunchbox to help keep lunches fresh and cool or warm. They can be decorated and personalized with magnetic designs purchased along with the lunchbox itself. There is also a great carrying case that has a pocket for a cooling pack which worked very well for my granddaughter throughout her school year. Kids’ lunch bags seem to self destruct after one year but this one will easily make it through three years will minimal care, along with the stainless lunch box itself. Since it is a pricey combination this is a good thing to know before you make a purchase.

Kids can also learn to fill up these lunch boxes pretty easily themselves with some assistance and suggestions from their parents or grandparents or even from their friends who might already be making their own lunches. My granddaughter has a nut allergy so her choices are dictated by how foods are made and packaged. Many times cookies and baked goods have to be homemade. Convenience foods are usually not appropriate for many nut allergic kids so that makes food choices very important for my granddaughter. Both she are her mother are vigilant about label reading even if it is something they buy all the time. You never know when processing or ingredients will change in your favorite go to snack or food staple

When it comes to kids making their own lunches there are a few tips we found helpful. I wish I had known some of these things when I was much younger and sending my daughters off to school with their lunch bags.

Being Positive

We found this key to success when kids are making their own lunches. If you practice some indifference when it comes to perfection especially related to how the finished product looks, your child will feel so much better as he or she attempts to make a sandwich that looks like one that you made. Remember that being positive will be rewarded in the end.

Take kids to the grocery store to help pick out foods for lunch.

This is so important. If they are in charge of their choices it makes them more vested in the process. It probably helps to make a small list of possible food selections prior to actually getting to the store to avoid chaos in the aisles.

Kids can choose their own foods

Create a designated area for food prep and storage of lunch friendly items

If you have room it would be extremely helpful to have an area where your children can do their preparation and where foods are readily accessible when needed. This will cut down time and hopefully create less mess. Again, letting your children help with setting up a prep area will help them become part of the kitchen team.

Get Creative

One of my favorite kids’ friendly cookbooks is from Momables by Laura Fuentes. She has a wonderful website and three books that are our favorites for family recipes that are easy, healthy and great for snacks and meals.

kids lunch

There are many months of lunches ahead…don’t get discouraged if your children slack off once in awhile. Revisit and tweak the process with them to keep them from getting bored. They are no different than we are when it comes to forming a habit. It takes time and patience with yourself and with them.

Happy Lunches Everyone!

Weekend Pick from Parenting in the Loop

Weekend Pick from Parenting in the Loop

Now that many schools are back in session it is time for kids with allergies to begin another challenging year in some cases as they try to avoid exposure to their food allergens.

Here is a great piece in Spokin that I thought would be handy for those parents of kids with food allergies.

Only one weekend post for this week while I am enjoying a back to school adventure in Los Angeles.

weekend readMANAGING THE LUNCHROOM   My daughters have multiple allergies which make managing all things lunchtime essential.

1. Label your child’s lunchbox with their allergies. Big + Bold


2. Review your lunchroom or cafeteria menu ahead of time and make alternative plans for high-risk days. When our lunchroom serves fish sticks, we ask our school to allow for our fish allergic daughter to eat lunch in a separate area.


3. Make arrangements for having the lunch area wiped down including the tables, both the top and underneath, and chairs each day to avoid cross contact. My daughter has a sesame allergy, so we need to be careful in the event a child wipes hummus on or under the table. Depending on the school, I ask the person who is closest in proximity to my daughter to execute this task.

Source: Maggie’s lunchroom guide

Enjoy one of the few summer weekends left.

Feeding Baby Cow’s Milk

Feeding Baby Cow’s Milk


Why do experts recommend waiting to introduce cow’s milk until a child is 12 months old?

Source: Cow’s milk: When and how to introduce it 

Our grandson just turned 1 year old! A baby’s first year of life is marked by so many growth and development milestones but yet it seems in the blink of an eye they are standing, cruising and then walking.

Obviously this is a grandmother’s perspective as new moms know it seems like forever before a newborn sleeps through the night and then forever till he sits up, crawls, holds his own bottle and begins to eat some “real” food!

At the one year mark our baby can now begin to drink cow’s milk or milk other than breast milk or formula which will make some trips away from home a slight bit easier. Prior to one year an infant’s digestive system is not ready for the high concentration of protein and minerals in regular milk. In addition cow’s milk is deficient in iron, vitamin C and other nutrients nor does it have the healthy fats for your growing infant.


When your baby is mature enough milk becomes a staple in his diet with all of its calcium and vitamin D. Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth as well as regulate blood clotting and muscle control. Protein is also found in milk along with energy providing carbohydrates.

The big question is usually how much milk should your child be drinking. Here are the AAP recommendations.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most kids will get enough calcium and vitamin D if they drink 16 to 20 ounces (2 to 2 1/2 cups) of cow’s milk a day. Offer 1-year-olds whole milk (unless they’re at high risk for obesity).

Don’t offer more than 3 cups of milk a day or your child may not have room for the other foods she needs to round out her diet. If your toddler’s still thirsty, offer water.

Happy Birthday to your 1 year-old!

Rainbow Cake

1st Birthday

It is exciting times… toddling to 2!

Parents, Are You Sick of Parenting Tips Yet?

Parents  Are You Sick of Parenting Tips Yet?

At any given moment, I have a pile of parenting information on my desk, nightstand, and kitchen table.

I have my favorite tipsters and I also have my favorite tip.


Make your primary goal as parents

to help your child develop empathy and

kindness in their hearts


than focusing on controlling his/her behavior.

Raising a child does not come down to following a list of tips. Parenting and grand-parenting really stems from the heart. It has to do with treating children with respect and empathy which is sometimes easier imagined than accomplished. Children imitate their parents and we often hear our own words come out of their mouths sometimes to our embarrassment.

If your goal is to have a well-behaved child with core qualities of kindness and empathy, you will need to encourage him to appropriately express his thoughts and emotions while listening and using these moments to treat him with empathy and kindness.

What do you think? How do you encourage your child to express himself?


Already August and Back to School

August and Back to School…Already?

back to school

I don’t know about you all but my summer has flown by with many changes happening at a whirlwind pace in my home.

Change is never easy and some are much more emotionally draining than others. Because of the turmoil in which I found myself posts on this blog have been few and far between.

As most of you know I am very close to my granddaughter who is now 8 years old. I welcomed her into the world 8 years ago this month. She was the inspiration of Parenting in the Loop. She and I have a very special relationship for which I am ever grateful. What a breath of fresh air she is and it has been God’s blessing for me to be able to watch and share in her life. As my first grandchild, she introduced me to the joy of being a grandparent. Words do not measure up to the feelings of this stage of my life.

Last year, my younger daughter had a little boy. He will be one in a few short days and I have recently shared an extended visit with him which has been joyful.

The huge change that has taken place in the last week is that my older daughter and granddaughter have relocated to California and my younger daughter, grandson and husband have relocated to Chicago and are staying with us while they settle into their new home away from the Rhode Island that they love.

Sending my daughter and granddaughter off to California was an emotional rollercoaster  for me. She and I talked about moving and watched the Disney film “Inside Out” several times, which helped us share our happy and sad feelings in a very real way. My granddaughter surprised me with the ease that she was able to relate to the movie and express her own feelings concerning her move to California. She understood that she would be sad as would I but that we would have “The Invisible String” keeping us attached even though we would be a 4 hour plane flight away from each other.

When a child moves, changing schools is usually an anxiety producing experience. Leaving family is one thing but leaving friends and their school along with the familiar teachers and staff can really play havoc with a child’s adjustment to their new environment.

My granddaughter’s new school will be similar to the one she leaves behind. It is a small Catholic school with uniforms so fitting in with the fashion code will not be an enormous issue. But there will be back packs, lunch boxes and various sundries to choose which will help her individual personality showcase itself.

We love “Cool Mom Picks “Back to School Guide 2016 and rely on it for quality and consistently great choices for these “BTS” necessities. I am always amazed at the wonderful changes in lunch boxes that encourage parents and kids to pack some really healthy and interesting lunches and snacks.

I loved helping my daughter with lunch decisions and back to school choices for my granddaughter over the last couple of years. Because she has a nut allergy food choices are VERY important. We enjoyed Planet Lunchbox which kept everything fresh and reduced our carbon footprint. Momables from Laura Fuentes provided seemingly endless variety to my granddaughter’s lunch choices and rotation.


Back to SchoolWe’ve found 34 of the coolest lunch boxes and bags for kids — whether you love packing them every day or not.

Source: 34 of the coolest lunch boxes and bags | Back to School Guide 2016 | Cool Mom Picks

Childproofing away from home


Childproofing When You Are Away From Home

childproofingSmall children are at risk for accidents especially at home since that is where they spend  the most time. There are all kinds of services and ways to go about making a child’s environment safe and providing a play area that is welcoming and worry free.

What about when you go away to a relative’s home or to a hotel, that safe environment is sometimes more challenging to acquire.

I just came across this video which is so helpful for those parents traveling during these summer months or actually anytime. Here is Childproofing 101!

Here’s to a safe summer for everyone including your littlest travelers who are curious and ready to explore everything that is new and different!

Here’s how to spot potential dangers when away from home and what to pack in your safety kit.

Source: Childproofing away from home | Video | BabyCenter

Parenting in the Loop Weekend Pics


Parenting in the Loop Weekend Pics

Mindful Parenting

The Fourth of July Weekend is upon us. So how about some outdoor play. The New York Times has this wonderful suggestion from its pages with a great reference to “Mindful Parenting” by my friend Kristin Race.

Why be intentional about this most relaxed of times? Summer goes by so fast. One minute, it’s June, and we have all the time in the world for ice cream, drive-in movies and bike rides. The next, it’s August, and too often, we’re left wondering where it went. We want to avoid regrets over missed opportunities. Every week, we’ll offer research-based suggestions for ways to set this season apart from the rest of the year.

“Kids who are used to more structured activities may not know how to create these things on their own,” said Kristen Race, a psychologist and the author of “Mindful Parenting.”

Source: The ‘Intentional Summer’ Challenge: Play an Outdoor Game – The New York Times

weekend summer fun


Questions about sunscreen for kids of all ages ….check out this link to help you decide what is best for your kiddos.

The skin is the largest organ of the body, proportionally larger in the smallest children, and protecting it properly needs our care and attention.
Source: Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Children’s Summer Skin Care – The New York Times


sleeping Colin

Getting enough sleep these days as parents? Probably not!

What are your baby’s sleep onset associations? Check out this post from the NYT and set yourself up for success when getting your baby to sleep on his own. Why not start this weekend?

Dr. Judith Owens, a pediatrician who is the director of sleep medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, told me that she would focus here on what she termed “sleep onset associations.” That is, on helping the children learn how to fall asleep independently at bedtime, which should then generalize to an ability to fall asleep when they wake in the night. So it’s lovely to use the song at bedtime as a going-to-bed routine, but it’s important that the actual moment of going to sleep should be after the bottle (and ideally, after brushing teeth after the bottle) and after the song.
Source: Ask Well: The Best Way to Put Babies to Sleep – The New York Times

Nothing like a three day weekend to mark the beginning of summer.

Make it a safe one!

Weekend Picks from Parenting in the Loop

Weekend Picks from Parenting in the Loop

Summer is full of celebrations it seems, especially when the weather is warm.

We all find it a bit easier to be playful and somewhat carefree when the the sun shines and the days are longer.

So here are my picks for some weekend reads.


Friends and family get together during the summer and our children are meeting all sorts of “relatives” that they may or may not know. Take a cue from them how affectionate they want to be to these “strangers”.

Weekend VisitsAs we head into the vacation season and into visits with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, there’s one awkward situation that will arise in many families that most parents will be unprepared to deal with: relatives who expect hugs and kisses from little ones — even when those little ones don’t want to show them affection. To spare a relative’s feelings, many of us will urge a small child to endure or even return this unwanted physical contact. But should we? What messages are we sending to our kids about their body boundaries when we do this?

Source: Why Your Child Should Never Be Forced to Hug a Relative | POPSUGAR Moms

Trying to teach your child coding and introducing them to STEM activities is easier than you think.


Computer coding is essentially a language that computer uses. When we think about helping kids learn computer coding, we automatically think we need a computer first. But in fact, there are many ways to learn computer coding without a computer, as many thinking and coding approach can be learned in many different activities off-screen. Today we share some off-screen activities that teach kids computer coding.

Source: 11 Kids Activities to Learn Coding without a Computer | iGameMom

Father’s Day is here and DIY gifts are great for the little ones to give to Dad. Here are some suggestions Cool Mom Picks.


24 wonderful DIY Father’s Day gifts, crafts + printables
Posted on June 17, 2016
DIY Father’s Day gifts are always so special, especially from the youngest kids. (Once we hit voting age or so, those handprint mugs just don’t really cut it in the same way, huh.) So for our next installment of our 2016 Father’s Day Gift

Source: 24 wonderful DIY Father’s Day gifts, crafts + printables

Do You Have An “Easy” Baby?

Do You Have An “Easy” Baby?

Cuddly Baby

Every child is a different assignment — and we can all pay lip service to that cheerfully enough. But the hard thing to believe is how different the assignments can be. Within the range of developmentally normal children, some parents have a much, much harder job than others: more drudge work, less gratification, more public shaming. It sometimes feels like the great undiscussed secret of pediatrics — and of parenting. Babies and children are different, assignments are different, and we spend a lot of time patting ourselves on the back — as parents and as pediatricians — when the easy babies and toddlers behave like themselves, and a lot of time agonizing and assigning blame when the more difficult kids run true to form. We talk a lot about temperament in my line of work. We look at where a child — or an adult — falls along a set of axes. High activity to low activity. Adapts easily to adapts with difficulty. Intensity, mood, attention span. And while no one would argue that these are fixed and immutable traits, it’s also true that — again, as every parent and teacher knows all too well — you can’t possibly make child A into child B. You work with the temperament you’re given — it’s the assignment. And some assignments are harder than others.

Source: Some Babies Are Just Easier Than Others – The New York Times

How do you know if you have an easy baby? Here are some things you might say…

  • “He rarely cries”…
  • “He sleeps well”…
  • “He eats well”…

Babies are people and they come in different sizes and temperaments . Temperament sometimes defines how “easy” or “difficult” your child seems to be. Your temperament also determines how you respond to your child. It really makes total sense.

On one of the popular baby sites at the end of every post, there is a statement that all babies are individuals and develop and respond to their environments differently. Developmental timelines are guidelines for monitoring your child’s growth and development each baby will differ, some more than others and that is usually expected and okay.

As most parents can attest every child is very different and there are so many variables that go into making this statement true.

So when your child has a meltdown in the middle of Target and people are staring at you try to understand that they may have had an “easy” child and it really was not a reflection of how “great” and “skillful” a parent they were. Parents young and old are quick to judge those with “difficult” children.

Grandparents who indulge are not the reason grandkids are “difficult”, parents who are strict or lenient are not the reason their young children behave better at times. It is related to temperament and combining an understanding of each child and their individual needs that help a child modulate their behavior when necessary as they grow and develop.

If you have an “easy assignment” as a parent…be empathic with those parents and grandparents who are dealing with a more difficult assignment. Your next child or grandchild could be more challenging.