Christmas gifts for toddlers!

This post contains affiliate links on Amazon which means that if you purchase something using one of my links I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Every day I strive to be more organized and more of a minimalist. My toddler is 2 years old and in these 2 years I have experienced the devastation of toy clutter. Toy clutter is harmful for everyone in the homes mental health. I am not giving my child a lot of Christmas presents or “toys” because children really don’t need a lot of toys. Also, simple toys are best. If the toy is doing more playing than the child there is a problem.

Buying toys based on your child’s development: Between 18-24 months toddlers may play pretend games like talking on a toy phone or using keys to unlock something. At this stage-toys that actually look like the real deal is helpful (police car, ambulance etc). By 24 months toddlers may start to use representational thinking where a toy can represent something else (this is the stage my child is in so the list below are toys that I am getting him to accommodate this stage-more abstract toys (like plain blocks..they could be a barn, a tower, a space ship, who knows!)

Part of my child’s christmas present is an Art Cart. We are using this all month long and he will get art supply refills under the tree if he runs out of materials. Click here to shop my toddlers art cart and supplies.

Another Christmas present that my toddler got early is this mini fridge that I have on his shelves in his play area. I put snacks in here for him so he can serve himself.

These feelings flashcards are my all time favorite for teaching children to learn how to identify their feelings at a very young age (which is a very important skill for children’s mental health).

One present he is going to get under the tree are these CORK BLOCKS:

This is one of my toddlers favorite toys & its on sale, totally recommend this magnetic bug catching wooden puzzle!

These multi colored Grimms Blocks are awesome!

Love this cleaning set!

A learning tower is an awesome way for your toddler to be able to help out in the kitchen with cooking and baking. Here is the one we have:

These paint sticks keep my child entertained for so long! See my Art Cart post for more details.

The best trick for teaching your child deep breathing!

This post contains affiliate links which means that if you purchase something using one of my links I may receive a small commission at not additional cost to you.

Deep breathing is one of the most important skills that we can teach a child to help them learn how to regulate themselves. If your child has trouble calming down or they get stressed easily, deep breathing is a coping skill that can really help them.

They have all different sizes, colors, light up ones, and even glow in the dark. Glow in the dark ones would be super fun to use as a calming bedtime activity. You little one could lay in their bed and take deep breaths with their calming breathing ball to help them get sleepy, how cool!

DIRECTIONS: Start with the ball together. Slowly pull the ball apart as you take a deep breath in through your nose. Keep breathing in until the ball is fully extended. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth. The trick is to go very slowly. Tell your child that you want the air to fill their tummy up as big as the ball is getting.

Check out my previous post about how to teach your child about how their body and brain are like an engine and how we can learn to help our engine run smoothly. My previous post tells all about how to make an engine plate. If you have an engine plate on your refrigerator or classroom wall, you can have your dysregulated child check their engine plate and then use the breathing ball to help get their engine back in the green. After you do several repetitions they can check their engine again to see if they feel better. Ask them how their body feels. Depending on their mood you might say “Do you still feel like you could bounce off the walls, do you still feel very angry, do your fists still feel really tight or does your body feel more relaxed?”.

I would love to see how you and your little ones practice deep breathing with your spheres! Check out my instagram account thewholekidandkaboodle and post pictures of your breathing ball fun and #kaboodlebreathingballfun and tag @thewholekidandkaboodle

Check out my other posts below:

How to teach your little one to learn to regulate themselves

How to create a gross motor/sensory room in your home

How to “discipline: your one year old

Why bubble gum can help your child’s sensory needs

#1 tip for calming a fussy baby

DIY Kid Sleep Hack: Sleepy Time Clouds

The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine

The Best Valentines Day Activities for Toddlers!

*This blog post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase using one of my links I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you <3

Valentines Pom Pom Scoop:

These Extra Large Valentines Pom Poms are perfect for toddlers who still put things in their mouth because they are not a choking hazard. They are great for scooping and transfer work.

Valentines Day is a perfect time to teach your toddler all sorts of things! Some concepts you can introduce to your toddler are the heart shape, the color RED, color PINK, etc.

The sensory table below is the Ikea Kallax Sensory table and you can purchase it on Amazon here.

Valentines Duck & Pom Pom Tray

Another activity I created for my toddler is this Valentines duck and pom pom pour activity. Some activities you might try with this tray: count number of ducks, sort by color, separate ducks from pom poms, transfer from bucket to tray, what sound does a duck make? Your little one can use tongs to transfer objects to the bucket for more complicated fine motor practice. You can even add water for more sensory fun!

If you are looking for a good sensory tray, this one is very similar to the one in the picture below. These metal bucks are also similar to the ones in the photo below. These valentines rubber ducks are super cute.

Valentines Day Pom Pom Scoop

Let your little one have fun scooping, counting, and color sorting these Valentine colored pom poms. These pom poms are cute also. I have also created a therapeutic activity with this tray. Click here (coming soon but in the mean time go to my Instagram thewholekidandkaboodle for directions on how to Teach Your Child Pom Pom Soup Deep Breathing to help combat your child’s excess energy, stress, hyperactivity, and problem behaviors.

Looking for an edible sensory tray filler?

You can click on the images below to purchase these edible sensory bin fillers on amazon:

Here are some Valentines Day sensory bottles that I made:

Below I have linked some of my other favorite craft items to buy for Valentines Day crafts & sensory bottles: just click on the image to purchase from Amazon!

These pipe cleaners and pom poms are fun sensory bin fillers!

Put a piece of scotch tape on the back of these foam hearts and let your toddler stick them to the wall or the floor. They will get a kick out of this!

Put this washi tape down on the table and let your toddler peel it off…loads of entertainment and great fine motor skills practice!

These foam stickers are perfect for helping little ones with their fine motor skills practice. The doilies can be glued onto paper for fun toddler art work!

I am obsessed with these heart shaped foam confetti! These would be awesome for sensory bin filler!

This heart shaped wooden spoon would be so fun to stir a sensory bucket filled with all kinds of valentines day filler or letting your little one help out with valentines day baking!

This valentines baking mold is so cute! It would be fun to bake in but also use to separate pom poms by color or hold valentines stickers and pom poms.

These hearts would be fun inside a sensory bottle!

These bottles are perfect for sensory/discovery bottles because they have a wide mouth at the top so you can fit decent sized objects inside.

This extra fine glitter is perfect for making valentines sensory bottles.

These heart erasers would be cute inside a sensory bottle, just add rice!

These rose petals would be fun sensory bin filler.

These felt balls are awesome for scooping, sorting, and using as sensory bin filler.

This Grimms wooden heart set is on my wants list!

These wooden beads would be super cute in a sensory bottle mixed with some more colorful plastic beads.

These candy hearts are what I used in my sensory bottle that I mixed with rice. My toddler likes to shake it and hear the sound it makes.

These are some of my favorite Valentines books:

Fine Motor Skills Activity

I found the velvet rose at the dollar store and then paired with our HABA toy :

Below you can see a photo of my 16 month old’s Valentines themed play shelves:

Here are some toys similar to the ones on my Valentines shelf that would be super fun:

Check out some of my other posts:

The easiest way to host the most perfect Gingerbread house decorating party..

How to “discipline” your one year old…

The BEST brownies with this secret ingredient…

Why Bubble Gum Can Help Your Child’s Sensory Needs!

#1 Tip for Calming a Fussy Baby

DIY Kid Sleep Hack: Sleepy Time Clouds

The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine

Why I choose to exclusively bottle feed my baby and how I feel about it 7 months later…

15 Must Have Baby Items!

A Gentle Approach to Sleep Training

Christmas sensory bottles your little one will love!

PicMonkey Image-18

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using my links.

These sensory bottles are a great way for your little one to explore and discover christmas ornaments and christmas trees without actually touching the tree! Toddlers have a natural inclination to explore everything and this will help fulfill their need!

Click on the image below to purchase the bottles I used to make these sensory bottles! What I like about these bottles is the whole at the top is large enough to put fairly good sized items like these mini christmas ornaments.

I used mini christmas ornaments like these to fill the bottles

You could also use Christmas bells!

I used Christmas trees like these to fill one of the bottles:

You can also add rice to any of the bottles for a little extra noise!

Check out some of my other posts:

How to host the most perfect Gingerbread decorating party!

A Gentle Approach to Sleep Training:

The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine:

#1 Tip for Calming a Fussy Baby:

Check out this DIY kid sleep hack :

Why Bubble Gum Can Help Your Child’s Sensory Needs:

The easiest way to host the most perfect Gingerbread House decorating party!

ginger final

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using my links.

There is nothing more festive than an awesome Gingerbread house decorating party! There is nothing more annoying than having a Gingerbread house that won’t stay together and candy that falls off. Luckily, you can learn from my mistakes because I finally found THE MOST PREFECT GINGERBREAD HOUSE KITS that won’t fall apart and the icing that is provided actually works and the candy sticks! NO MORE EMBARRASSING  GINGERBREAD HOUSE DECORATING PARTY BUSTS!

Click on the image below to purchase these super easy Gingerbread House Kits

The kit comes with everything you need, the icing, the candy, & the house is already put together so you don’t have to worry about it falling apart. If you want to be extra spiffy you can get extra candy to decorate:

For kids I suggest having a bowl of candy at each of their seats so they don’t fight over the candy. I used plastic bowls like these so each child had their own bowl of candy (and every child had the same candy..) this makes for happy little decorators 🙂

I used green plastic chargers but if you are wanting to protect your table, covering your table with paper like the one below would be super cute!

Santa hats or headbands put everyone in a festive mood 🙂

Don’t forget an apron for the host!

Don’t forget cups, plates, & napkins!

If it is a party for all kids, don’t forget to serve some healthy snacks! They will eat candy but they will eat less if you also serve healthy snacks!

Check out some of my other posts:

A Gentle Approach to Sleep Training:

The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine:

#1 Tip for Calming a Fussy Baby:

Check out this DIY kid sleep hack :

Why Bubble Gum Can Help Your Child’s Sensory Needs:

How to create a christmas themed play space for toddlers

xmasplayspace*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using my links.

Wondering how you can decorate your house for Christmas with a toddler in the house? Creating a fun Christmas play space for your child is a great way to bring Christmas cheer into your home without having to worry about your child getting into the decorations and breaking something. The plastic snow globes and the wooden christmas themed houses in the photo above were found in the dollar section at Target. Below are links to some awesome items on Amazon that would be great additions to a toddler Christmas themed play space.

Below is a picture of my toddler christmas themed book shelf:

Click on the images below to purchase these festive Christmas toys on Amazon!

Check out some of my other posts:

The easiest way to host the most perfect Gingerbread house decorating party..

How to “discipline” your one year old…

The BEST brownies with this secret ingredient…

Why Bubble Gum Can Help Your Child’s Sensory Needs!

#1 Tip for Calming a Fussy Baby

DIY Kid Sleep Hack: Sleepy Time Clouds

The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine

Why I choose to exclusively bottle feed my baby and how I feel about it 7 months later…

15 Must Have Baby Items!

A Gentle Approach to Sleep Training


I would love to hear from you!

How to “discipline” your one year old…

How to “discipline” your one year old…


What age you should start “disciplining” your child?

I was inspired to write this post because of reading Whitney Ports insta post where she was asking questions like “when should kids be taught the difference between right and wrong, safe and unsafe, good and bad, nice and mean. She mentions not wanting to be one of those no no no no parents but also doesn’t want her child to have no boundaries. Her question is such a great one and is something that I am currently going through with my almost 1 year old. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist and am still navigating mom life day by day. This post explains how I have used my knowledge in the field of child development when working with my 1 year old.

Baby Discipline: 1 year old

The first step is to exchange the word “discipline” for the word “teach”. It is a parents job to “teach” their baby about the world even before age 1. All the ways you interact with your child teach your child about their world. Starting at birth we want to teach our children that the world is a safe place, their needs will be met, and that there is an adult who is bigger/stronger/wiser who will take care of them and keep them safe. So even though I am suggesting you get rid of the word “discipline” from your parenting vocabulary, your children still will learn boundaries that you teach and set for them.

How to teach your 1 year old “to mind”:

This is kind of an old timey phrase that my parents generation used “teach that kid to mind” type of mentality. The fact is that if we set up a child’s environment in a way that will lead to their success, the focus shifts from teaching them to mind to teaching them how to thrive.

Setting your child’s environment up for success:

It is important to try to create an environment for your child where they can be as successful as possible. I have done my best to child proof my house so that my little one can be free to explore most things. When the house is child proofed I do not have to spend as much time and stress telling my child “no” every 5 seconds because they are getting into things. I have become way less stressed and my child is happier. At this age children are so curious about everything and by child proofing as best as possible, I can let my child explore and he loves this. He hates being in a play pen. I have a play pen and I use it when I have to but I try let him be free to explore most of the time. Another thing I try to do is give my child ample time of outdoor activities. Taking a walk, splashing in the pool, swinging on the park swings, going to feed the ducks. During most of these activities I realize that I hardly ever have to tell my child no because they are having so much fun. I think that when children get bored they tend to “get into stuff” a lot more. If the weather isn’t good or swimming isn’t an option I will let my little guy splash in the sink in his bath chair or in the tub. This is a great way for him to expel energy. Babies who get their energy out and have ample time for play and exercise exhibit less acting out behaviors. I try to almost never tell my child no (I am constantly working on this even though saying no is sometimes my first instinct). I think you want to provide so many “yes” experiences by creating a proper environment described above that you only have to say no on rare and serious occasions.

Is it ever okay to use the word “no” when disciplining your child?

The fact is, if you constantly say “no” to your child you will begin to sound like a broken record and they will completely disregard what you are saying. Children will take attention any way they can get it and if they realize that doing things they are not suppose to do causes you to come over to them and say no and make a big fuss, they will continue to do the things just to push your buttons and get a reaction out of you.

One exception that I use the word “no” for is physical harm and danger. But even in these types of situation you can often correct the behavior without actually saying the word “no”. Say your child is pulling your hair. You can say “no hurting mommy” or “be gentle” or “mommy’s hair is not for pulling”. If my child kept pulling my hair I would say “no hurting mommy” and put my child down or move myself out of harms away. I would then try to engage my child in a new activity “look, lets play over here with your toy car”. Redirecting your child to a more acceptable activity is a great way to change their behavior in a positive way.

Using empathy when you set limits with you child:

This is one of the most helpful concepts in working with children of all ages. Say your one year old is about to reach their hand in the toilet because they think it is fun to splash in there you can say ” I know you think that is really fun but our toilet is not for splashing in” and pick them up and move them to a safe location. Toilet locks come in handy as well so you can prevent the whole situation or keeping the bathroom door shut but sometimes your little ones discover new things and you have to respond in the moment. Another example of using empathy when setting limits or boundaries with your child: say your child is banging a toy on your glass coffee table you might say “I know you are really having fun making music with that but our table is not for breaking” and hand them a soft toy that they can hit on the table that will not break the table (or just get rid of the glass table…because is it really worth it?)

Discipline approaches that you should never use:

One approach that I think is absolutely NOT a good approach would be to try to disiciple a 1 year old with using a fear method, such as spanking them for getting into things they aren’t suppose to or for not listening. Child Development theorists Erik Erikson would say that during 0-18 months a baby is learning to either trust or mistrust their caregivers and the outcome of this can either be a healthy trajectory for your child or a negative one. Attachment theory explains that when a parent consistently meets a child’s needs in a loving way the child learns that their parent is a “secure base” (a safe person to turn to in times of fear) to seek comfort and reassurance. By using fear as a means to “control” your 1 year old, you are teaching them that they cannot always trust you and that sometimes you are frightening (which is extremely damaging to children emotionally).

Increasing positive interactions with your child will decrease the need for “discipline”:

If you are stressing out about how to discipline your child, I urge you to change your focus on increasing positive interactions with your child. Instead of following your one year old around waiting for them to “get into something” create a situation in which you can play with them. Carry them to a safe play space and say to them “lets play”. Put your phone and other distractions away and be present with your child more often throughout the day. I have found that when I am fully available to my child not only physically there with them but mentally and emotionally present to play with him, he his less interested in “getting into things” and more interested in playing with me.

Final thoughts:

Remember your goal is to be your child’s teacher. If they are doing something they are not suppose to do, teach them what they can do. Remember to limit the amount of words you use when you are trying to get your point across to your child. One rule of thumb is use 1 word for every year old that they are. For example, if my 1 year old tries to eat a leaf off the ground I will take it out of his mouth and say one word “yucky”. I try to use some of the same very simple phrases over and over with my child to help it sink in such as: “not safe” and “be gentle”. Be aware of the positive to negative ratio of comments you make to your child in a day. You want most of your interaction with your child to be positive. If you find yourself constantly correcting your child, find ways to comment on the positive things they are doing.

Check out some of my other posts:

A Gentle Approach to Sleep Training:

The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine:

#1 Tip for Calming a Fussy Baby:

Check out this DIY kid sleep hack :

Why Bubble Gum Can Help Your Child’s Sensory Needs:

I am always looking for new parenting questions and topics that people have to write about, I would love to hear from you!

The BEST brownies with this secret ingredient…

bestbrownies, fourth of july recipe

The trick to the best brownie recipe ever is using:

*Hershey Symphony Bars*

Honestly these are the most delicious brownies ever. After learning this brownie hack I will never go back to making brownies without using symphony bars. 


1 pack of brownie mix 

4 Hershey Symphony Bars

1 pack of Brownie baking cups, you can use standard ones like these, or cute ones like in the picture above, I got mine at Tuesday Morning.

Vanilla Ice cream or vanilla frosting 

Handful of Blueberries and Strawberries for decoration


Make brownies according to the box directions. Pour brownie mix into baking cups. During the last 10 minutes of baking, top brownies with squares of Hershey Symphony Bars. After brownies are done baking, let sit until warm. Top with scoop of ice cream and garnish with blueberries and strawberries. If using icing instead of ice cream, let brownies cool completely before topping with icing. Icing brownies can be made ahead of time and served later. Ice cream brownies need to be served immediately.

Alternative Recipe:

Cook in a standard baking dish. Pour half the brownie batter in the pan. Layer Hershey Symphony bars on top and then pour the rest of the brownie batter on top, then bake. These are the absolute most delicious brownies!

I love to serve these delicious brownies on my favorite MacKenzie-Childs tray as seen in the picture above!


Why Bubble Gum Can Help Your Child’s Sensory Needs!

sensory, sensory integration, proprioception, self regulation*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using my links.

Did you know that aside from the commonly known senses like smell, touch, taste, see, and hear we also have some other senses that really effect our daily life? One of these other senses is called proprioception. When a child gets firm, gentle muscle pressure, the proprioception sense is at work! Proprioceptive input can be calming and organizing for children’s brains (and adults too!).

Chewing bubble gum is a way to engage the proprioceptive system and this can be a major trick for helping children to regulate themselves (or calm themselves down when they are dysregulated aka hyper/overexcited/stressed etc.)

I learned about this bubble gum trick from the bubble gum queen herself, Dr. Karyn Purvis  when I was a camp buddy for kids at The TCU Hope Connection Camp, a therapeutic day camp for internationally adopted children. Dr. Purvis was an expert in helping children from hard places and children who had experienced trauma. Dr. Purvis would greet new children at camp with a friendly smile and a playful tone of voice and introduce herself as The Bubble Gum Queen! Dr. Purvis knew that play reduces fear and many of the children who came to the camp were fearful of new situations and new people due to frightening people and places in their past. Dr. Purvis also knew that when children chew bubble gum it engages their proprioceptive sense and helps the children’s brains calm and organize. In fact, Dr. Purvis would let children get multiple pieces of bubble gum because the bigger the chew the more calming the effect was due to the firm muscle pressure.

Dr. Purvis also used bubble gum as a way to help children learn to use their words and give good eye contact. For a child who acts out to get their needs met instead of using their words, learning to communicate their needs with words is life changing for the child and the parent. Dr. Purvis would gladly give a child bubble gum if they “used good words and gave good eyes”. Dr. Purvis always praised good words and good eyes by saying things like “oh I just love good words and those sweet eyes”. She would give the child choices by playfully saying “do you think you need one piece of gum or two pieces” to help you calm down? Karyn Purvis truly was a child whisperer! She and Dr. David Cross’s (who is also amazing!) book “The Connected Child” is a must read for anyone who cares for children.

So…if you are a teacher, you may want to consider letting your students chew a double bubble during testing time to help with testing anxiety. This can also help hyper children or children with ADHD be able to calm and regulate themselves during long periods of sitting and focusing. If you get the kind of bubble gum with different flavors see which types of flavors the children prefer. It turns out that sweet flavors are calming and sour flavors are alerting. A child who likes sour flavors may do well with the sour gum because it will keep them awake and alert during their test taking. Just provide them with a tissue at their desk so that if they need to spit it out they don’t have to get up to throw it away and disrupt the class. Also make sure they know that bubble blowing is not allowed…until after the test of course 🙂

If you are a parent or caretaker…you may want to purchase a big tub of double bubble and keep a baggie of gum in your purse for times when you need your children to regulate and  calm themselves. For kids who are old enough not to choke (please don’t give bubble gum to kids who will choke) you might want to give your child bubble gum in the car to help them calm down. Make it fun- your children can have contests of who can blow the biggest bubble, what a fun car ride activity! (give them a tissue incase they need to spit it out during the ride) Need to go on a long shopping spree and need your children to behave? BUBBLE GUM might be your best friend! Obviously kids need good nutrition and should eat healthy snacks on the regular but bubble gum can be a secret weapon for you when you need to help your child regulate! Teaching them how to dispose of their gum properly is also important but be playful about it (lets see who can spit their gum the best into the trashcan!) Having your kids brush their teeth frequently is also a must. Although there are many sugar haters out there…it turns out there may be more benefits than cons to the MAGIC bubble gum trick!



#1 Tip for Calming a Fussy Baby

#1 Tip for Calming a Fussy Baby

how to calm a fussy baby, mom tips, baby tips, mom life, baby hacks

What can cause a baby to be fussy?

Have you ever tried to soothe a fussy baby and nothing seemed to work? When a baby gets fussy often their caretakers become stressed. The babies then pick up on this stress via the mirror neuron pathways in the brain. What this means is that the more stressed the adult gets, the fussier the baby is going to get.

How to calm a fussy baby:

The #1 trick to calm a fussy baby is to first focus on calming yourself. 

First, you need to focus on your breathing. There is a proper way to deep breath that can actually calm your brain and body. You need to 1. take a deep breath in through your nose  and 2. breath out through your mouth-but SLOWLY…like really slowly. You can even do this breathing out loud and the baby will hear this and they will start to align their breathing with the adults breathing, which will calm them too. Repeat the deep breathing over and over again. Notice how your body is feeling. Is your body feeling tight and tense or are your muscles loose and relaxed?

Second, you need to SLOW DOWN the rocking, jiggling, bouncing, or patting that you are doing with your baby. When you rock a baby you should move to the rhythm of a heartbeat. Most times when caretakers are stressed, they start rocking faster and faster because they are getting stressed. This actually makes the baby fussier.

Third, pay attention to the sensory information in the room. What are you smelling, touching, tasting, seeing, and hearing. Do you like these things or is there something in the room that is bothering you? Chances are if it is bothering you it is bothering your baby.

Fourth, try to observe over time the types of sensory input that may make your baby fussy. Does your baby get fussy every time you wear a certain perfume? Is the music in the room to loud? Is your baby hot or cold? Are the lights to bright or is there not enough natural light and only artificial lighting in the room? Are there to many stimulating toys and high contrasting pictures in the room?

Check out my other blog post “The Ultimate Calming Bedtime Routine” for more tips on how to create a calm environment to prevent your baby from getting overly tired and fussy.