Fun and Healthy Ways to Keep Your Toddler Busy This Summer | Cute Beltz

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Whether they’re tearing through the house giggling madly or scaling a Mount Everest of sofa cushions, toddlers are an active bunch. One of a kid’s main jobs in the transition between infancy and childhood is to learn the foundations of movement. When your toddler is throwing building blocks as hard as he can across the room, he’s not just testing your limits. He’s also practicing his motor skills. Toddlers learn by playing. And when you give them a wide variety of games and different settings in which to play, you help them to learn more.

Above and beyond the minimum of 60 minutes and up to several hours of unstructured free play toddlers require daily, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends that toddlers get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity each day. Here are some healthy ways to harness your toddler’s boundless energy.

Brain Games

From the moment they wake up until the time they drop off to sleep, toddlers are developing intellectually at an amazing rate. Here are some fun things you can do to boost your toddler’s brain power:

  • Dress Up: Adorn your daughter with a top hat and baton so she can “lead the band” while you both march around the living room. Comb through thrift stores for gently-used Halloween costumes, fancy hats, boas and ties for a low-cost way to build a stockpile of dress-up supplies. Keep in mind that a toddler’s attention span is very limited. He or she may like the silly hat more than the pretend game, but dress-up is a great way to stimulate creativity.
  • It’s A Bug’s Life: Head outside and hunt for bugs. She’ll learn the names and characteristics of all kinds of creatures, from ants to worms, and squatting and standing will help her practice balance.
  • Head and Stomach, Knees and Toes: Ask your son to point to his head, pat his ears, rub his tummy and touch his toes. This time-honored game not only teaches your toddler to recognize and identify parts of his body, it also helps him learn new action verbs like rub, touch, pat and point that he can use in many other games.
  • Story Time: Pick a time that you can read every day such as during snack, bath time, before a nap or at bedtime. Stories are very calming to a child as well as stimulating. The pictures visually stimulate the brain while your voice teaches vocabulary. Books with textures are will develop tactile awareness as well! Have fun and make animal sounds or give characters “voices”. Toddlers love to make sounds and the more sounds they make; the more they talk and will want to talk about what they see in the books.
  • Look and Listen: This you can do anywhere; sitting on your front porch, pushing the toddler in the stroller, waiting at the airport. Point out sounds – identify what it is and show the child where the sound is coming from. This activity teaches a child to follow where you are directing his attention. Encourage him to make up the sounds himself. This will also develop his listening skills.

Have a Ball

Since the wheel was invented, humans have been steadily improving upon things that roll. Today, toddlers and their parents can enjoy playing with balls in all sizes and shapes — from simple soccer balls to fancy spheres that light up and make noise when they move. Ball games can help teach everything from impulse control to motor skills. Here are a couple ball activities you can try:

  • Kick Ball: Set up simple targets (a sofa cushion, a stick or a pile of leaves) and take turns with your toddler kicking a ball toward the goal. The kicking will develop her motor skills and balance; taking turns will help her develop impulse control. This game works inside as well as outside.
  • Track Ball: Use a roll of wide masking tape to mark off a simple “track.” Encourage your toddler to try to kick or roll a ball along the track. Extend this game by setting up two or three stopping points along the way. When the ball reaches a station, perform a simple exercise like jumping, turning around or touching toes.

Swim like the Fishes

Most toddlers love the water, whether it’s bath time, running through a sprinkler or playing in the pool. While swim aficionados maintain that the earlier a child learns to swim, the safer that child will be in the water, parents often worry that pools bring a risk of accidental drowning, sunburn and chemical exposure. While pools do pose risks, with proper safety precautions, swimming can be a healthy and enjoyable activity for the whole family, including your toddler.

Use adequate sunblock or visit an indoor pool to reduce the risk of sunburn. The chlorine used in pools actually kills off disease-causing bacteria, and when applied within proper guidelines by safe, qualified pool operators, it doesn’t put people at risk.

A great way to introduce your toddler to swimming is by enrolling him or her in a qualified swim program. A good program will offer a clean, safe environment, warm water and experienced, trained teachers. Since parents are usually required to join their child in the water for lessons, both of you will benefit from the training. Soon your toddler may be a stronger swimmer than you are!

Move It!

The healthiest activity for toddlers requires no props, no instruction and no special venue. It simply requires that you and your toddler get moving. Young children aren’t meant to be sedentary. They need to practice balance and a variety of basic movements to develop the motor skills that form the building blocks for the more complex movements they’ll perform in later life.

Something as simple as ditching the stroller and having your toddler accompany you on a walk around the block will provide him or her with tons of opportunities to get moving in novel ways. He’ll have to navigate curbs, watch out for trip hazards and adjust his balance to accommodate variable surfaces. Turn your daily walk into a learning game by identifying and describing familiar sites along the route. Ask him: Is the neighbor’s dog with black spots snoring? Is the stop light red, green or yellow? Is the door to the bank open or closed?

To practice moving indoors, have your toddler crawl under, climb through, jump over and twist around a simple obstacle course you’ve made out of couch cushions, pillows and blankets. Even asking her to help you pick up toys will provide her with many different opportunities to squat, stand, walk and reach. It’ll also teach her to be helpful, which is a valuable lesson. Whether you’re tickling, wiggling, rolling, jumping  or chasing, the sky’s the limit on ways you and your toddler can get moving together.

How will you keep your toddler busy this summer? – Cute Beltz

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Fun 4th of July Treats | Cute Beltz

Somehow June has flown by and the 4th of July is right around the corner.   I’ve been looking for fun and festive 4th of July treats and desserts, and thought I would share some of the fabulous sweets I’ve found around the web.

Here are some 4th of July treat ideas that include just a few simple ingredients. No real cooking is involved- just some very easy assembly is required.

Red, White and Blue Strawberries

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Strawberries taste best in the summer but these juicy fruits might be too pretty to eat! Take a strawberry and dip it in melted white chocolate (I used the Baker’s brand) and then sprinkle blue sugar on the bottom tip of the berry. Keep the strawberries in the refrigerator on waxed paper until you’re ready to serve.

Ice Cream Sandwich Pops

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These treats are a kid-tested favorite and so easy to make it should be a crime. Cut an ice cream sandwich in half or use the mini sandwiches (I know Meijer has the mini ones.) Insert a wooden craft stick into the sandwich and then allow the ice cream to soften just a bit. Roll the ice cream in red, white and blue sprinkles and re-freeze on wax paper. Take out and serve when you’re ready.

Patriotic Cones

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These ice cream cones are just too fun and couldn’t be any simpler to make. Take a sugar cone and roll the top round part in melted white chocolate and then add red, white and blue sprinkles or colored sugar. Line them up on a wax-paper covered platter to harden and then bask in the admiration you will surely receive for your talent and creativity.

Red White and Blue Layered Popsicles

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Ingredients:

  • Blue Kool Aid (and sugar) or blue Gatorade
  •  Red Kool Aid (and sugar) or red Gatorade
  •  Vanilla yogurt
  • Cool whip
  •  Plastic cups or popsicle molds
  • Craft sticks

Directions:

1. Mix the blue kool aid as directed and pour into cups or popsicle molds for bottom layer. Freeze for 1 hour, or until mixture is beginning to freeze, but not yet hard.

2. In separate bowl mix 2 cups vanilla yogurt with 2 cups Cool whip. Spoon white mixture into popsicle molds. Insert craft sticks in an upright position into popsicle molds. Stick back in the freezer until solid (white mixture won’t get completely hard, but pretty firm).

3. Mix the red Kool Aid as directed and pour into cups for final layer. Freeze overnight or for at least 5 hours

If you feel like channeling your inner Martha Stewart, give any of these recipes a try and let us know how they turned out! Happy 4th of July everyone! – Cute Beltz

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Sun Safety Tips For Families | Cute Beltz

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Spending time outside is a great way to increase your family’s level of physical activity.  But before you hit the beach, pool, or backyard, make sure you’re aware of this sun safety from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Sun Safety for Babies

  • Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy.
  • For babies younger than 6 months. Use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands, if protective clothing and shade are not available.
  • Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and use brimmed hats that shade the neck.
  • For babies older than 6 months. Apply to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes. If your baby rubs sunscreen into her eyes, wipe the eyes and hands clean with a damp cloth. If the sunscreen irritates her skin, try a different brand or try a sunscreen stick or sunscreen or sunblock with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. If a rash develops, talk with your child’s doctor..  Apply broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunscreen to areas left uncovered such as baby’s hands. Many companies have tear-free formulas that won’t sting baby’s eyes.
  • The sensitive skin of babies and children is easily irritated by chemicals in adult sunscreens, so avoid sunscreens with para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzephenones like dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone. Children’s sunscreens use ingredients less likely to irritate the skin, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Unlike chemical ingredients, these protect babies’ skin without being absorbed.

Sun Safety for Kids

  • Select clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. Cotton clothing is both cool and protective.
  • Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or bill. When using a cap with a bill, make sure the bill is facing forward to shield your child’s face.
  • Protect eyes with sunglasses that provide 97% to 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays.
  • If your child has an allergic reaction to sunscreen, or gets a sunburn that results in blistering, pain or fever, contact your pediatrician.

More Sun Safety Tips

  • The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to keep out of the sun during those hours.
  • The sun’s damaging UV rays can bounce back from sand, snow or concrete; so be particularly careful of these areas.
  • Most of the sun’s rays can come through the clouds on an overcast day; so use sun protection even on cloudy days.
  • When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label–it means that the sunscreen will screen out both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Choose a water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
  • Zinc oxide, a very effective sunblock, can be used as extra protection on the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears and on the shoulders.
  • Use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Rub sunscreen in well, making sure to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet and hands, and even the backs of the knees.
  • Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors–it needs time to work on the skin.
  • Sunscreens should be used for sun protection and not as a reason to stay in the sun longer.

Did you find our tips helpful? What are some ways you keep your family safe in the sun? – Cute Beltz

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DIY Home Accents | Cute Beltz

Do-it-yourself home accents transform any space into one you can call your very own. Follow these tips to make over any room with budget-friendly projects you can complete in a weekend.

Chevron Vase

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Customize a plain vase by taping off a chevron pattern with painter’s tape (it need not be perfect). Spray-paint the exposed area with a lighter shade of the vase color. Remove the tape when the paint is dry.

Memo Board

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This magnetic memo board is as functional as it is stylish. Simply cut decorative paper to fit inside a cookie sheet and glue it to the pan. Add magnets and important papers, notes, or letters, and you’re ready for business. Place it on a desk or hang it in the kitchen to ensure your family always stays on task.

Rosette Lampshade

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Embellish a plain lampshade with paper roses. Use a compass to draw an 8-inch-diameter circle onto drawing-weight paper. Cut the circle into a swirl to create a paper coil about 1/2 inch wide. Roll the paper tightly starting at the outside end of the coil. Release the coil slightly and manipulate it until you have created a flower shape, then hot glue it at the base to retain the shape. Use hot-glue to adhere roses to the lampshade.

Ombré Dyeing

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Hot from the runway, ombré dyeing is a variation on basic tub dyeing giving fabrics a subtle, ethereal look. We put the trendy technique to work on these ordinary, store-bought throw pillows. For maximum results, always make sure you take the process slowly and follow through with each step

What you’ll need (per pound of dry fabric):

  • 1/4 cup professional textile detergent
  • 1/3 cup soda ash
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Two 5-gallon buckets or plastic containers
  • 1 tablespoon urea powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons fiber-reactive dye
  • 3 cups non-iodized salt
  • Rubber gloves
  • 2-3-cup plastic mixing container
  • Ruler
  • String
  • Two binder clips
  • Stool
  • Spring clamp

Directions:

1.Wash fabric with professional textile detergent, following manufacturer instructions. Combine soda ash and 3 gallons of warm water in a bucket, stirring until dissolved.

2. Submerge fabric in soda ash mixture. Do not overstuff; instead, soak only fabric that easily fits in bucket. Allow fabric to soak in soda ash mixture for at least 30 minutes.

3. Combine urea powder and 1 cup warm water in a mixing cup. Pour a few tablespoons of urea mixture into a plastic mixing container with fiber-reactive dye in bottom. Work the powder and urea water into a smooth paste, then stir in the rest of the urea mixture to make a concentrate.

4. Add salt to 3 gallons of warm water in your dyeing tub, stirring until dissolved.

5. To create the lightest shade in your ombre pattern, add about 1/3 cup dye concentrate to saltwater and stir.

6. Wipe the inside of dye tub to prevent unwanted dye marks on fabric.

7. Create a tool to help you hold your fabric longer by tying strings to two binder clips and then wrapping the string around a ruler. Wring out fabric and attach binder clips.

8. Dip fabric to desired point and hold for 10 minutes or until you reach preferred color intensity.

9. With clean, gloved hands, remove fabric from dye. Hold undyed end of fabric with one hand while wringing out excess dye with the other.

10. Place dyed fabric on a clean surface protected from the dyeing area.

11. To create the next intensity of dye, pour about 1/3 cup of the dye concentrate into the dye tub and stir.

12. Dip fabric to desired point (we suggest several inches below your last dip point for a noticeable progression) and hold for twice the amount of time of first level or until you reach preferred color strength.

13. Repeat steps 8 through 12, each time doubling the amount of dye you add and the amount of time you leave the fabric submerged. For more than three levels of ombre, you’ll need to make more dye concentrate. Use a spring clamp and stool or ladder to hold fabric while dyeing if desired.

14. Rinse fabric with cold running water until water runs clear.

15. Wring fabric again, squeezing out as much excess water and dye as possible.

16. Wash fabric in hot water using professional textile detergent. If you’re unable to wash immediately, lay fabric flat on clean plastic wrap and wrap completely to prevent unwanted dye marks and drying.

What are some ways you add DIY accents to your home? – Cute Beltz

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Creative Playroom Ideas | Cute Beltz

Kids learn through play. Creating a fun playroom for your kiddo is a great way to encourage learning and creativity. When creating your child’s playroom include your children in the design process to ensure the playroom is a place they will enjoy as much as you.  Creating such an environment also provides a safe haven for when your child is tired or upset.

Consider some basic elements such as warmth and comfort when planning a playroom.  Young kids can greatly benefit from things that nurture like soft and cozy bean bags, kids armchairs, blankets and stuffed animals.  Such things also help to make the room safe if your child is active or if a couple of playmates start to play rough.

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A perfect play space combines fun and function seamlessly. Start with smart storage for toys and games, and add comfortable seating and a sturdy table. Make it unique with a theme that excites their imaginations and creativity.

If you want kids to have easy access to the items they regularly use. Consider containers that blend style with creativity, such as the tiered art supply holder below. Also note the numbered baskets along the wall, which help kids remember what’s inside by matching numerals with sets of items.

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Don’t forget the power of a large bookshelf. Even if some shelving is too high for kids to reach, these vertical places can be the perfect location for items that aren’t regularly accessed, such as toys out of the main play rotation, or books and supplies that children will enjoy when they are older.  Age appropriate books and toys can be stored on the bottom of the shelf for easy access.

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If a child’s playroom and bedroom are one in the same, try a vertical shelving unit with drawers, which provides an ideal space for books, small supplies, and toys of all sizes.

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Check out some more creative playroom ideas:

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As you can see, there is no right way to create a playroom for children, the possibilities are endless.

How will you decorate your child’s playroom? – Cute Beltz

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