Milestones: Part 5 (June 2013)

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Milestones: Part 5

My favorite and final part of my 'Milestones' series introduces my idea of creating a child enrichment center that would include specific classes based on what I have done to enhance my daughter's early learning.  I would combine all of the activities, toys, songs, advice and directions into a program for babies beginning at 11 1/2 months.

I am taking this idea to heart and below is a skeleton of what my program would look like. My program would be called the NetworkforMoms: Enrichment Center for Children.

In my program we would stress to parents that play time is 'learning time' and is a time of discovery for their child.  The program would include one-on-one weekly classes divided into 4 stages.

Stage 1, 12 months old: "Boom Beginning": This stage introduces certain basic toys, books and activities. These classes would consist of the "Breakthrough" classes that include introduction to certain toys/books as well as a special baby food class and a feeding class. This stage would also include the "Leap" class that would introduce a few basic activities to encourage specific play between parent and child.

Our happy daughter in her rocking chair playing a game with her blocks. 
Stage 2, 13 months old:  "Betterment": a more intense stage with increased interaction between parent and child during play time.

Stage 3, 14 months old: "Enriched Stage": will consist of the "Chrysalis" class that introduces one more parent/child play time activity as well as instructing the parent about the best way to have their child explore colors. In addition, the "Flowering" class, which is designed to help parents with their child's creative play, will encourage parents to allow their child to play with their toys until they are satisfied and have their child understand how to put on a bracelet.

Stage 4, 15 months and 16 months old: "Toy Exploration": these classes will introduce certain types of toys and how best the parents can work with them during play time with their child. The types of toys that I would encourage are the ones that children can play with quietly while gaining understanding of those toys' learning components.
Examining her Safari Animal shapes at 14 months old.
For example, once the child is 15 months old, the Hape Toys 'Block and Roll' stroller with blocks would be introduced.  It is useful for children that are walking, or are beginning to walk at this stage, while the blocks have a certain arrangement that I would explain to the parents (if their child is walking earlier, then the stroller would be introduced one month earlier at 14 months old).

The Hape Toys Counting Stacker would be introduced at 16 months old. This would give the child time to enjoy their stroller first and then have fun exploring their new blocks in the counting stacker.  The parents would be encouraged to always keep the blocks stacked after their child was finished playing with the stacker. Re-stacking the blocks ensures that the learning components are not lost when using this toy.

At the beginning of the "Toy Exploration" class, it will be stressed to the parents/caregivers to only 'clean up/organize' their child's toys once their child is obviously done playing with them (i.e. has moved on to another toy or seems distracted by the mess!).   
Our daughter (at 1 1/2) ready for her lunch! Look at how cute she is!
Food Class:
This class would be introduced in
Stage 1 of the program and my suggested list of healthy, organic jarred baby food would be highlighted.

As part of this class, we would discuss nutrition briefly and the ill effects of non-approved baby food on the digestion of your baby (i.e. homemade baby food, hummus, raw egg, hot dog or other meat). Next, I would provide a set of attractive food toys (see pic below) for the children to play with, while the parents are given specific play time instructions for this toy. I would stress to the parents the need to extend the intake of certified, safe jarred baby food.  There is a reason why they call it BABY FOOD!  It is safe for babies and should not aggravate their digestive tract causing them to vomit constantly.

The best combination of jarred baby food that I found was Earth's Best Apples & Blueberries, Vegetable Turkey Dinner and Green Beans & Rice. I like this combination because it does not involve too much starch and provides my daughter with the right amount of protein, vegetables and fruits.

Earth's Best (only about $.10 to $.20 more a jar than other brands!) uses only organically grown food, which means they buy food from farms that only use natural pesticides and, therefore, I trust their food for my baby.

To buy Green Beans & Rice, go to and search 'Green Beans' or click the link below: 

To buy Vegetable Turkey Dinner, go to and search 'Vegetable Turkey' or click this link:

To buy the Apples & Blueberries, go to and search 'Apples Blueberries' or click this link:

I found that my child is more interested in eating her food if I place it in a bright green bowl.  This color seems to make a difference - and I matched it with a bright green spoon. This way the feeding tools are one exciting color and the food is distinctly a different color. This Babies R Us spoon set has a nice lime green spoon in the pack here:

I used the Nuk Gerber Graduates My 1st Feeding Set bowl in lime green.  If you can't find this one, try the Green Eats Divided Plates that also come in the lime green color.

Our daughter at 9 months old in her high chair!
Feeding Class:
This class would be introduced in Stage 1 of the program and provide the parents with the best ways to feed their baby along with information about high chairs, safety and clean up.

One of the feeding ideas that I would suggest is a method that I discovered when I was first feeding my daughter solids. My daughter did not like to open her mouth to receive the spoon every time. We struggled with this for weeks at 4 and 5 months old, after introducing her to peas and squash.   I tried different methods in order to encourage her to receive the spoon (helicopter noises, etc.) without success. Then I discovered a way to get her to open her mouth every time I put a little food on the spoon and placed the tip of the spoon under her bottom lip at one corner of her mouth. Then I ran it slowly from one end of her bottom lip to the other side.  By the time the spoon reached the other side of her bottom lip, her mouth was open and ready to receive food. Yum!

I hope my fellow moms and buddies have enjoyed my idea for my fantastic child enrichment center, NetworkforMoms: Enrichment Center for Children! has a goal listed in the tabs at the top of this blog (growing this blog to be a larger, hosted website is one of them), however, the NetworkforMoms: Enrichment Center for Children is now another one of's goals. 

...and it all started here with!
In the meantime, my daughter and I will spend our summer taking more baby classes at Isis Parenting and Mama & Me in Boston and enjoy hanging out with our classmates!  My daughter looks forward to seeing all of her baby pals from her last class!  If you have any comments or questions, e-mail me at

Happy early learning everyone!

Joy E.
Posted June 25, 2013

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