Monday, February 28, 2011

Review of Ring Sling Baby Carriers

What Is Your Favorite Baby Sling?
photo credit from http://theslingshack.com/

Last Wednesday we linked to articles that show the benefits of baby wearing. Then we discussed some dangers when using baby slings with children under four-months-old. Yesterday we mentioned that some of our favorite baby slings are ones with pouches.

Today we review our favorite ring slings. Ring slings are more adjustable than a pouch. The tail of the sling can be used as a cover up for nursing or can be tucked under the sling or wrapped around the rings. Newborns can be held upright or reclining.

Maya Wrap Lightly Padded Baby Ring
The Maya Wrap baby carrier is one well known brand of rings sling, not a wrap as the name would imply. Consumer Reports love this ring sling and is the number one ring sling recommended to new moms. It enables caregivers to wear newborns until they are toddlers in a variety of positions up to 35-pounds. There is a built in pocket for keys, a diaper, and cell phone. We like that it has just the perfect amount of padding in the shoulder for comfort, but isn't bulky or hot. It fits easily into a diaper bag or purse and has a free instructional DVD included!



Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling by Dr. Sears
The Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling by Dr. Sears can be worn in five different positions, for newborns through toddlers up to 25-pounds. One of America's most renowned pediatricians, Dr. William Sears is the author of over 40 books on childcare and is the grandfather of the modern 'attachment parenting' movement. The Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling is brought to you by Dr. Sears and Shirley Pepys, the founder of the popular NoJo sling. With so much experience between them, the creators of the Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling have designed a sling that's soft, comfortable, and designed to grow with any baby. When out and about, the Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling is much less cumbersome than a stroller or infant seat, and a convenient pocket can hold your keys, cell phone, or credit cards.



Ellaroo Ring Sling
The EllaRoo Lightly Padded Baby Sling is 100% certified organic cotton fabric, with just a touch of organic cotton padding in the shoulder and rails for your comfort. The inner and outer rails are fully independently adjustable through lightweight brushed aluminum sling rings, with an open tail for maximum adjustablity and versatility. The sling is designed to cup the shoulder and spread naturally over the back, keeping baby secure and close to your center of gravity. It's great for newborns, nursing moms, and it carries heavy toddlers up to 35-pounds exceptionally well.



Snuggy Baby Prestige Ring Sling Baby Carrier
Snuggy Baby Prestige Ring Slings have a pleated shoulder for lasting comfort. They are made with two layers of cotton fabric to provide additional strength and security. The two layers also ensure that you get an uniform print. No matter which side of the sling is showing, you always see the beautiful design. They are made with strong, lightweight aluminum rings. These slings measure approx. 2 1/3 yards long by 27″ wide, which is large enough to fit all body types. This is a wider sling and perfect for larger babies. It provides a deep secure pocket for newborns and still provides plenty of support for a wiggly three-year-olds. All Snuggy Baby slings come with an instructional DVD that will show you the correct, safe way to carry your baby in four different positions; cradle position, tummy to tummy (AKA snuggle position), kangaroo carry, and hip carry.



TaylorMade Silk Slings
This TaylorMade's luxurious silk dupioni sling features a one-of-a-kind pocket. Each pocket has been hand-dyed in Bali using the traditional method of batik and highlighted in gold. Turn heads with this stunning, unique TaylorMade Silk sling with batik pocket!

There is also a TaylorMade Water Mesh sling to use in the shower, pool, or at the beach. The mesh does not absorb water so you can still adjust your sling and not get weighed down. Light-weight fabric dries quickly. Can be used in or out of the water. While this sling's qualities shine in the water, we recommend a different sling to use for everyday. This makes a great second baby sling for showers and splashing around at the pool or beach.



SlingEZee Baby Ring Sling
While various forms of cloth baby carriers have been used around the world for thousands of years, this sling was one of the first to be widely used in the United States. While some baby wearers find great comfort in an unpadded ring sling, the makers of the SlingEZee Padded Ring Sling are adamant that the padding adds a great deal of comfort for both parent and child. The SlingEZee Padded Ring Sling comes in five different sizing, and sizing is crucial. When the baby is snug and tight in the sling, the caregiver can be truly hands-free. The lower rail of the SlingEZee Padded Ring Sling should fall close to your waist. When the baby is snug inside the sling, they should ride comfortably above your waist level. Another important aspect of the SlingEZee Padded Ring Sling is the construction of the shoulder area, which is designed so that the fabric spreads out wide enough to distribute your baby's weight. Making sure the shoulder is spread out over your shoulder cap allows the fabric to spread out evenly across your back, assuring comfort in the SlingEZee Padded Ring Sling.



What's your favorite baby sling?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review of Pouch Baby Slings

Baby Slings are typically one shouldered carriers. These types of baby slings are great for newborns as well as toddlers. Little babies are most easily carried in a cradle (laying down) position, older children on the hip. This type of baby sling can be used on the back with older children for short periods.The downside of these carriers is that the weight distribution is somewhat uneven since they go over only one shoulder.


Pouches are the easiest type of sling to use. Pouches are our favorite baby sling for getting a baby quickly in and out. They must be sized to the individual, some people find them uncomfortable for long wearing since they go over only one shoulder. Newborns must be held in a reclining position.

Hotsling Baby Pouch
Good-bye sizes! The one size fits all Hostlings Baby Pouch is infinitely adjustable. Two strategically placed buckles, hidden by hoods, allow the adjustable pouch to fit comfortably on you and the parents. The pouch can be worn on either shoulder. When worn on the right shoulder the buckles will be in front, and when worn on the left shoulder the buckles will be in back. The shoulder design is wide yet sleek, without excess fabric. Padding is included on both sides of the pouch providing more comfort and support for baby in all carrying positions.



Mammas Milk Adjustable Pouch Sling
The Mamma's Milk Invisibly Adjustable Baby Carriers have no exposed rings, buckles, zippers, snaps, or buttons and are made from beautiful, washable silk fabrics. Sleek design slips on and off easily with their unique "Rip & Go" feature for quick up and downs with toddlers. Conveniently adjusts to fit different sized parents and caregivers. It has leg padding for toddlers. The design allows you to hold an infant in the natural fetal position or toddlers in the upright position.



Peanut Shell Reversible Pouch Slings Baby Sling
There are no buckles, metal rings, or adjustments to be made and the sling can be worn five different ways to carry a baby or a toddler up to 36-pounds. The Peanut Shell® is compact so you can easily toss it into a diaper bag when you're on the go and it can also be used as a stroller cover or a baby blanket. The sling features sleek leg padding to increase the baby's comfort without added bulk or warmth, a perfectly placed hook for attaching toys and a small pocket for carrying essentials such as keys, a cell phone, or a pacifier



Lite-on-Shoulder Pouch/Rings Hybrid Sling
The curved pouch shape design of the Lite-on-Shoulder makes a deep pocket that allows for a more comfortable fit for baby and a better grip on baby's legs. The lightly padded shoulder portion distributes weight through torso and avoids straining the neck. Lightly padded railings provide right amount of cushioning for baby s tender thighs with no sharp edge cutting into flesh. Lite-on-Shoulder sling carrier has no overheating problem for baby and mother which is perfect for hot weather. Lite-on-Shoulder lightly padded Pouch Ring Hybrid open tail sling incorporates the curved pouch shape and opened tail fabric .Buckle rings are made of cast zinc alloy without wielding point . One size fits all up to women s dress size 22.The length of the sling is around 7ft. The baby sling can be used constantly with infant toddler to snuggle nurse or rock to sleep occasionally with toddler over 35-pounds in the hip carry position or even convert to a mini walker and toddler tether.



References:
http://www.theslingstation.com/howtochoose.html
http://www.attachedtobaby.com/


Stop by tomorrow for reviews of Adjustable Ring Slings

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Babywearing by Maria Blois

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

This week we asked nannies if the would be willing to carry babies for the majority of their work day if the parents requested it. Then we discussed the dangers of using baby slings with infants under four-months old?

To continue the discussion we highly recommend referencing the book Babywearing by Maria Blois.

The Babywearing book by Maria Blois talks about the benefits of baby wearing, from better sleep to reduced crying spells to enhanced learning and development.

Maria Blois is a mother and a physician who wrote this book that reviews over 30 different baby carriers and gives detailed instructions on how to use various carriers.

The author explains one of the best benefits of baby wearing is that carried time is considered better than tummy time, a fact that should resound well with parents who wear their children more often than not.

Babywearing also interviews baby wearers around the country.

There is a section of the book supplemented with charts to help which baby wearing product is most ideal for your needs.

You’ll learn about baby slings, baby front carriers, backpack carriers, torso carriers, and more There are thorough instructions on how to put a baby in them with step-by-step instructions and reviews of all carriers are unbiased.

The end of the book has useful appendices for later reference.

As Dr. Sears, who wrote the foreword for this book, says: "If babies could talk, they would ask you to please read this book and wear them as often as possible."


Stop by tomorrow for a review of a popular baby carrier.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Are Your Charge's Over Scheduled? Take Our Survey!

What Activities Are Your Charges Engaged In?

Do your charges have cell phones, Facebook accounts, and allowed to play freely on the computer? Do they have enough play dates and leisure play time, or do you feel they are over scheduled?

Let us know by taking the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter survey. The results will appear in the Spring 2011 issue of the nanny trade publication.

Please click here to take the survey.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Have You Used a Baby Sling While Working?


Caution Using Baby Slings When Baby Wearing

Yesterday we asked if nannies would be willing to work for parents that follow the attachment parenting method that would require the caregiver to carry the baby with them while working.

There are many benefits of carrying babies which we will discuss over the next few days on this blog.

But, there are also some concerns about using baby slings for infants under four-months old.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning in March 2010 that baby slings -- which cvaregivers put around their necks to carry their babies -- may pose a risk of suffocation.

In researching incident reports from the past 20 years, the CPSC identified and is investigating at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three in 2009. Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than four months of age.

Don Mays, of Consumer Reports, explains that the potential hazards of putting small babies -- especially newborns -- into bag-style slings arise because, "A very young infant's head will be folded forward. That cuts off the airway, and they essentially suffocate. Another problem could be if the baby's head could be nestled up against the carrier's body."

The CPSC said many of the babies who died in slings were either a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold. Therefore, it urged parents of preemies, twins, babies in fragile health and those with low weight to use extra care and consult their pediatricians about using slings.

But not all slings are dangerous. The safest baby wearing is in a carrier that keeps the newborn baby solidly against the adult's body, in an upright position.

The popular “SlingRider” by Infantino was been singled out for criticism because of the curved position that the baby can fall into while inside the sling.

Click here for the recall information of the "Sling Rider" by Infantino.

Do you use a baby sling at work?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nannies and Baby Wearing

Can a Nanny Easily Work for Parents that Require Baby Wearing?

Can a nanny easily work for parents that follow the attachment parenting philosophy if s/he does not agree with the same philosophy? Would you be able to carry a baby most of the day (baby wearing) if that were the wish of the parents?

Nanny Maria emailed Be the Best Nanny Newsletter to complain about the fact that she is required to carry the infant in a sling, even when doing mundane household tasks. She explains in theory she agrees with the concept of baby wearing. Clearly babies need to be held. But, she has found her back is hurting and she finds it much more difficult than she had anticipated. She's even found herself crying wishing she could put the baby down more often.

Click here to see a video clip and read more about the eight principles of attachment parenting.

Click here to reference photo credit and to better understand the benefits of baby wearing.

Could you work for a family that required you to carry the infant in a sling most of the day?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to Pick Out Books Kids Like

What Children Like in Books

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter has been encouraging nannies and au pairs to read daily to their charges.

Here is a simple guide from Reach Out and Read on what kinds of books are most suitable for children of different age groups.

INFANTS (6-12 MONTHS) LIKE

  • Board books with photos of babies
  • Brightly-colored board books to touch
  • Books with pictures of familiar objects-balls, bottles
  • Small books sized for small hands
YOUNG TODDLERS (12-24 MONTHS) LIKE
  • Sturdy board books they can handle and carry
  • Books with photos and pictures of children doing familiar things-sleeping, eating, playing
  • Goodnight books for bedtime
  • Books about saying goodbye and hello
  • Books with only a few words on the page
  • Books with simple rhymes or predictable text
OLDER TODDLERS (24-36 MONTHS) LIKE
  • Books with board pages-but also books with paper pages
  • Silly books and funny books
  • Rhymes, rhythms, repetitious text-books they can learn by heart
  • Books about children and families
  • Books about making friends
  • Books about food
  • Books about animals
  • Books about trucks
  • Word books
PRESCHOOLERS (3-5 YEARS) LIKE

  • Books that tell stories
  • Books about kids that look like them and live like them-but also books about different places and different ways of living
  • Books about going to school, books about making friends
  • Books with simple text they can memorize
  • Counting books, alphabet books, vocabulary books
What are your favorite children's books?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Do You Have President's Day Off as a Paid Holiday?

The Story of the Cherry Tree and Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

President's Day is celebrated on the third Monday of February to honor two of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Today is a great day to remind children of the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. After telling children the story be sure to make the cherry cookie recipe below.

George Washington and the Cherry Tree

When George was about six-years old, he was given a hatchet. He went around chopping everything that came his way. One day, as he wandered about the garden by himself he found a beautiful, young English cherry tree, of which his father was most proud. He tried the edge of his hatchet on the trunk of the tree and barked it so that it died.

Some time after this, his father discovered what had happened to his favorite tree. He came into the house in anger, and demanded to know who had cut away the bark. Nobody could tell him anything about it.

Just then George, with his little hatchet, came into the room. "George,'' said his father, "Do you know who has killed my beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden?''

This was a hard question to answer, and for a moment George was staggered by it, but quickly recovering himself he cried: "I cannot tell a lie, Father, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my little hatchet.''

His father’s anger died and taking the boy tenderly in his arms, he said: "My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees! Yes , though they were blossomed with silver and had leaves of the purest gold!''

Cherry Thumbprint Cookies

1 teaspoon vanilla
2 sticks butter or margarine
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the vanilla, butter, egg yolks, and brown sugar until creamy. Add the flour and salt and mix well.

Have the children roll the dough into 1" balls and place them on greased cookie sheets. Have the children make a thumbprint in each ball and then place a maraschino cherry in each thumbprint.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. (Makes about 3 dozen cookies).

Do you have President's Day off as a paid holiday? If not, what are you doing with your charges for President's Day?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nannies Favorite Diaper Rash Creams

Best Diaper Rash Creams for Kids with Eczema

We recently reviewed our favorite products to use with children with eczema. During the series, 64 nannies and au pairs emailed Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asking what diaper creams are best to use on infants with eczema and diaper rash?

First we need to look at the ingredients in the diaper rash cream. The Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding:

1. BHA - Banned in other countries because it can cause skin depigmenttion.
2. Boric Acid and Sodium Borate - Industry authorities caution against use on infants or damaged skin.
3. Fragrance - Allergens that may contain neurotoxic or hormone-disrupting chemicals.

The best diaper creams recommended by the Environmental Working Group include:

Badger Baby Balm, Chamomile

Flanders Buttocks Diaper Rash Ointment

E. FOUGERA Zinc oxide diaper rash ointment usp skin protectant by Fougera

Dimpleskins Naturals Bum Bum Balm One Size

Rite Aid Zinc Oxide, Ointment

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Cream, Deep Moisture, Creamy Formula

Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment

California Baby Diaper Area Wash - Non-Burning & Calming

Earth Mama Angel Baby Angel Baby Bottom Balm

Jason Earth's Best Baby Care Diaper Relief Ointment, Aloe Vera & Vitamin E

Triple Paste Medicated Ointment for Diaper Rash

Other diaper creams recommended by the Environmental Working Group include:

AROMABABY Barrier Balm
Baby Cakes Rear Repair & Over There Ointment
Cosmic Tree Essentials Simply Shea and Tamanu Cream for Baby
Earth Tribe Kids Baby Balm
Healing Anthropology Nurturing Baby Bottom Cream
See the Dawn Wisdom Calendula/Plantain Salve
Terressentials 100% Organic Terrific Tush Treatment
Giggle Baby Baby Bottom - Organic
Organic Blessings Little Angel Diaper Ointment
ViDoma Naturals Baby Bum Cream
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE DIAPER RASH CREAM? Did it make our list?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Children's Books for President's Day

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Monday February 21, 2011 is President's Day in America. Books can help children of all ages better understand the President's role in our country. Here are two of our favorite.

If I Were President by Catherine Stier and Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan

This charming picture book gives children a sense of the enormous responsibility of the President of the United States. From making speeches to creating laws, children from various backgrounds picture themselves in America's highest office. The charming illustrations give children a bird's eye view of the day to day rigors of the important tasks that face the President of the United States. Pre-readers and readers will learn about Air Force One, the cabinet, and more. A wonderful introduction for our youngest citizens.



Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes and Bryan Collier

Since February is Black History Month there's no better time to learn about our first African American President. This lovely selection by famed poet Nikki Grimes introduces the President to readers in an accessible way that will resonate with children. They will learn about young Barack Obama, his unwavering sense of hope, and the personal struggles he overcame to become a leader who inspires others. The bold illustrations are a beautiful accompaniment to the text.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What Are Your Favorite Children's Poems?

Poetry To Teach Children to Love Language

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter's new year resolution is to read more to children this year.

We hear poetry everyday but often take it for granted. We hear poetry in the songs we sing and in the books we read. Poetry is often used in children's books because poetry makes reading fun. It's fun to hear the rhythm and rhyming of the words of a story. Children can learn to love language using poetry. If you memorize favorite poems, children can learn to improve their memory.

To develop a passion for poetry, keep these tips in mind:

Start with the classics, like Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawingsby Shel Silverstein, The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, or Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face: And Other Poems: Some of the Best of Jack Prelutsky.

Act poems out. Use a loud voice, a whisper, or a squeaky voice whenever you think it's appropriate. Change the words and see who can make the silliest new poem.

Encourage kids to write their own poems. Help kids include the hallmarks of poetry, such as imagery -- using language to show how something looks. Help them include sounds, tastes, smells, or personification -- giving objects human qualities, such as "the tree's branches hugged the boy."

What are your favorite children's poems?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free Nanny Webinar - Nanny Taxes: Facts, Fiction and Conversation How-Tos

Thursday, February 17th7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST

Presenters: Tom Breedlove and Lora Brawley

In the first part of this webinar Tom Breedlove, a top nanny tax expert, will provide a comprehensive look at the what, when and why of nanny taxes. He’ll answer attendees’ questions in user-friendly language and provide helpful resources to share with employers.

In the second part Lora Brawley, owner of AllAboutNannyCare.com, will tackle the challenge of talking with parents about being paid legally. She’ll share tips and techniques for bringing up this often difficult subject, whether in the interview stage or after being on the job for years. Lora will help attendees script conversation starters tailored to their unique situation and offer simple, effective responses to common “why we pay off the books” reasoning.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Tom Breedlove is a Partner at Breedlove & Associates, the leading payroll and tax firm in the highly-specialized household employment arena. Tom received a Business degree from the University of Texas in 1985, with a focus in Finance and Accounting. He leads Breedlove & Associates’ education and outreach efforts – helping placement agencies, accountants, financial managers, families and employees understand the unique household tax and employment laws.

It's free! Click here to register.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaching Kids About the Post Office

In This Date in History

In this date in history, February 15, 1842, the Post Office used adhesive postage stamps for the first time. So, what better time to teach kids about the post office?

Each day you can watch for the letter carrier or mail truck to come and allow the child to help bring in the mail for the family. Depending on the age of the child you can allow them to help you any time you have to mail a letter. Children love to help putting a letter in an envelope, seal the envelope, address the envelope, put the stamp on the mail, and put it in the mailbox or take to the post office.

Make a Mail Box below as a fun way for the child to receive letters and notes from their family. Kristan Hart of ehow.com recommends preparing special deliveries at your house. Graham crackers delivered in envelopes, stickers for a job well done, or drawings can slide in an envelope for delivery to the child. Kept separate from items in the "at home" post office, this is a great tool for parents and nannies to use to reward children and teach them about the post office at the same time.

Read books about the post office such as: About the Post Office (Out & About) by Sue Barraclough, The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Movesby Gail Gibbons, and A Day With a Mail Carrier (Hard Work)by Jan Kottke.

Make a Play Mail Box
Click here for reference.

The following materials are needed to complete the mailbox craft project:
1 Shoebox
Scraps of construction paper
Markers or crayons
Stickers or other materials for decorating
Glue
Scissors

Adult Preparation for the Project:
Use a razor blade or sharp scissors to cut a rectangular flap in one end of each shoe box. Leave the bottom section of the flap uncut. This serves as the mailbox door.

Creating the Mailbox:
1. Give the child a shoebox mailbox to decorate. Encourage them to cut shapes or strips out and glue them to the mailbox.
2. Provide the child with ‘letter’ stickers to add to the mailbox. Also, allow them to draw on their mailbox. The idea is for the child to create a personalized mailbox.

Play the Hidden Letters Game

Materials needed for the Hidden Letters game:
Index cards
Markers
Envelopes
Name cards

Hidden Letters is a game to play with preschool children to help them practice spelling their names and continuing to practice letter recognition.

Adult Preparation for the Game:
Use index cards to create letter cards for this game. To do so, simply print one letter of the alphabet on each card. Include multiple cards of each letter, especially those which are commonly used. Be sure to make at least as many letters as the children have in their names. Hide the letter cards.

How to play Hidden Letters:
Provide each child with an empty envelope and a name card which shows how to correctly spell his or her name. Then, ask the kids to search the room for the letters. Have them place only the ones needed to spell out their names inside their envelope.
Allow the children to keep the envelope of letters for future practice with spelling their names. These letters may also be placed in the mailbox for safe keeping.

Click here for a link of mini printables about the post office for kids.

Consider helping the child start stamp collecting as a hobby.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Celebrating Valentine's Day for Nannies and Au Pairs

You Don't Have to Spend a Dime of Your Own Money

Nannies and au pairs can have a lot of fun with their charges without spending a dime of their own money. Although some in-home caregivers like to buy their charges presents and cards I am not even spending my own money on gifts. Instead, I am just going to make some fun meals and yummy treats with the children.

Here is what I have planned to celebrate Valentine's Day with the kids:

Breakfast:
I will start my Valentine’s Day celebration at breakfast. It’s easy to make pancakes, then use heart shaped cookie cutters to cut out a Valentine shaped breakfast. I plan to top the pancakes with strawberries. I actually prefer using a thawed bag of frozen strawberries with the juice than fresh strawberries if available. If the parents allow you to, cover the strawberries with plenty of whipped cream.

Lunch:
For lunch I am using the same heart shaped cookie cutters to make Valentine shaped sandwiches. First, use a rolling pin on the bread to make it easier to cut. Spread peanut butter and red jelly or jam on the bread. I don't recommend cold cuts as they are difficult to cut with a cookie cutter. Use cookie cutters to make the sandwiches fun heart shapes.

Dinner:
For dinner, I plan to let the children make their own heart shaped pizzas. I like to buy pre-made pizza dough from the grocery store but you can find mixes in the baking aisle at the store or find dough recipes online. First, I form the dough into hearts. I fill little bowls with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and other toppings the children like. I let them add their toppings to the dough and cook it.

Treats:
If the children love baking you can make a sugar cookie recipe from scratch. But, it is fine to use pre-packaged cookie dough when making Valentine’s cookies with children. Roll the dough out on a non-stick surface. Add a touch of flour to the rolling pin before you try to roll the dough or it will stick. I let the children place the cookie cutters on the dough to cut out Valentine’s shapes. After the cookies cool, allow the children to decorate with white and pink frosting and sprinkles.

Cupcakes are easy to make with a box cake mix instead of making the recipe from scratch. Red velvet cake is great for Valentine’s cupcakes, but any flavor will work. Mini muffin pans create bite size cupcakes for the family to enjoy after dinner. Decorate the cupcakes with creamy icing. White icing can be turned into pink with a bit of red food coloring. Allow the children to stir the white icing and food coloring so they can see the frosting change colors. Use candy sprinkles and cinnamon red hot candies to decorate the cupcakes.

Drinks:
For Valentine’s Day, serve the children red juice. You can find 100% fruit punch juice in any grocery store.

What are you doing with your charges for Valentine’s Day?