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Mealtime with Baby

placematTable manners… Healthy eating habits… Self-control. We all want our children to develop these abilities, but it’s hard for parents to know how and when to start! Did you know that children have the potential to develop these qualities from the time they start showing interest in solid food?

While you might think it’s impossible to instill these qualities in your baby or toddler, it’s really not that hard if you have the right expectations and tools. Click here to learn more about Montessori...

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Turning Picky Into Practical

Toddlers are famous for their food fixations. I'm blessed to be raising a very adventurous eater, but even Zachhas some toddler quirks that would drive me insane if I chose to let them bother me.

This morning, I pulled out a container with a few strawberries from the fridge. I asked Zach if he'd like some with his breakfast and he said yes. I told him I had to rinse them first, and he flipped out. While he screamed, I washed the strawberries, put them in a bowl, and took them to the table.

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Pom-Poms vs. Broccoli

Practical Life activities shouldbe, above all else, practical: real activities that have a purpose and a goal. Practical Life IMG_0309should never, EVER be busy work. Busy work is insulting to the child's intelligence and developmental drives.

So, let's say you want to introduce transferring with tongs. Instead of the ubiquitous pom-poms you see all over Pinterest, how about using broccoli?

Here's what I did with Zach (who just turned 3), when he asked if he could help in the kitchen:

I had already...

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10 Quick Tips for Baking with Your Toddler

Note: You'll find our fabulous, healthy, and toddler-approved recipe at the end of this post! Try it out and let us know if you like it!

I love to cook, and I'd love to include Zach every time I'm in the kitchen. But as a working mom, I rarely get more than 15 minutes to cobble together a semi-healthy meal during the week. Instead of pressuring myself to involve my toddler in weeknight dinner preparation, Zach and I bake muffins on the weekends, and we've been making the same recipe for the...

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Show & Tell

It might seem like Montessori parents like to show off what their children can do: "Look, my baby can drink from a glass! My toddler can slice a cucumber!" But honestly, our excitement has nothing to do with bragging. At least for me, sharing my son's accomplishments is about telling other people: "Look what YOUR child is capable of, and imagine the sense of competence YOUR child can develop!"

Parents who are new to Montessori often observe a classroom and think: "My child would never fit in....

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Breaking Bread

My twelve-month old son loves LOVES bread. If it were up to him, he'd eat nothing but bread at all three meals. When he was younger, I could give him his food and then offer a piece of bread and he'd be content with the arrangement, but now that he's keenly aware of the goings-on at the dinner table, he's realized that there's bread available at dinnertime. Of course, to him that means that he can have bread instead of all the other food, and he's prepared to throw a tantrum to get his way....

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Food Fight

Yesterday at the park I struck up a conversation with a grandmother who's visiting from Argentina to help her daughter, who just had her second child. The older sibling, a little girl named Carla, is only 15 months old. Carla's grandmother told me that the little girl's world has been turned upside-down with the baby's birth, and for the past week she has refused to eat anything except fruit.

Every couple of minutes, the grandmother would interrupt our conversation to walk across the...

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Using a Fork (with video)

During the past few months, I've given Zach many opportunities to explore eating with his fingers. On several occasions I've offered him small pieces of fruit or steamed vegetables that he can grab with his hands and bring to his mouth. I thought he would find this enjoyable, since he loves to eat, but it's actually been super-frustrating for him!

Because he's only 8 months old and hasn't developed fine motor control yet, he can't grasp the pieces with a coordinated pincer grip. He manages to...

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Montessori Mealtimes

I come from a Hispanic culture, where mealtimes are sacred. As children, we were expected to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner sitting down at the table. We were also expected to remain seated throughout the meal, have appropriate table manners, and join in or at least listen to the conversation. Weekend meals at home and in restaurants were three-hour affairs, especially as my brother and I got older and could partake in adult discussions about politics and current events.

Those times around...

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Making the Soup

Last week I wrote about our experience with the Jaramillo Soup. The beauty of this soup is that you can make it with whatever you have in your fridge, so it's economical and uncomplicated. When I started making it for Zach, I began by giving him 2 oz. three times per day, mixed with breast milk (plus nursing on-demand the rest of the day). This meant that I was making about 1/3 of the recipe featured here. I gradually increased the amount of soup based on his demands and hunger level. By six...

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