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How to Get Your Toddler to Wear a Mask

While there is hope that the pandemic will end with two newly approved vaccines, there is still a need for mask-wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And, as recommended by the CDC, everyone over the age of two should be wearing masks. But getting a two-year-old to wear a mask can seem like an impossible feat when you consider how challenging it can be to get a two-year-old to do anything. But if you are considering putting your toddler in any sort of daycare setting you need to prioritize mask wearing as many childcare providers are requiring them as well. We have a few strategies on how to get your toddler to wear a mask below.

Use a Special Character

For many children seeing a favorite character doing something is the best form of encouragement and can work wonders in getting your toddler to wear a mask. Sit down with your toddler and read a story like Heroes Wear Masks: Elmo’s Super Adventure to introduce masks in a non-threatening way. It can also provide an easier way to explain where and when we wear masks. Another option is to show a video of a character wearing a mask. Sesame Street has a short video with Oscar the Grouch and so does Arthur. Your toddler will get more comfortable with the idea of wearing a mask as they see it more and more in their books and shows. You can even get a matching mask for a favorite doll or stuffed animal so your toddler can practice putting a mask on for someone else before they have to wear their own.

Give Them a Choice

Toddlers are all about showing their independence and often want to be the one to make the final decision on everything. Have a few mask options ready and give them the choice of which one to try first. Getting a mask in their favorite color or character is helpful but remember to also focus on the fit and comfort of the mask. Try buying a mask with adjustable straps so it can properly fit your toddler’s face. You may be able to get your toddler to wear a mask with an exciting print but if it’s not comfortable it’s not going to stay on.

Toddler with mask

Practice Wearing Masks at Home

Don’t wait to go outside to wear a mask for the first time. Practice wearing a mask at home for short periods of time. You can make a game out of it by having a dance party and wearing the mask for the length of a song or a favorite show. Find other opportunities to practice like taking a walk around the block with masks. Practice, practice, practice! Make it part of the routine of leaving the house (shoes, jacket, mask) so it becomes part of your toddler’s routine.

Show-off for Friends

Get your toddler excited about showing their mask to special friends or family members. Try having your toddler show their mask to grandparents or friends over Zoom or Facetime. Sometimes seeing another adult that is not the parent doing something makes a toddler want to do it more. Try showing your toddler how others are wearing masks. And when you are able to get your toddler to wear a mask shower them with lots of praise. 

Provide a reward for wearing a mask

Sometimes the easiest way to get your toddler to wear a mask is to provide a reward. A favorite treat or extra screentime can be just the enticement that can get your toddler to wear a mask without pushback. With older toddlers a sticker chart can also be a good motivation tool. If you do have a situation where your toddler has to wear a mask bringing along candy or a special snack can be the quickest way to get your toddler to do so. 

Wearing a mask can be hard for adults so keep that in mind when you are trying to teach your toddler. Don’t force it too much and try not to make it a stressful situation. Just focus on exposing your toddler to masks frequently. With time they will learn and you will feel more comfortable trusting that they will wear a mask when it’s necessary. 

How to See Santa at Home in 2020

It’s that time of year again. Time to untangle the lights, take out the reindeer shaped cookie cutter, and coordinate the perfect holiday-themed outfits for a picture with Santa. Or maybe not on that last item. Families are adjusting their special traditions this year due to the continued surge of COVID-19 throughout the country. One of the biggest traditions that is being missed is seeing Santa in person. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to bring some of that Santa magic into your home. Zoom sessions, special apps, and elf-filled websites are becoming a popular option for families that are choosing to stay home for the holidays. We found a few options for families looking to make sure their children get to see Santa this year and are sharing them with you below. Each of these options offers different types of experiences and covers a range of budgets but all of them find ways to infuse some extra joy into the 2020 holiday season. 

Macy’s Santaland at Home

Macy’s has been hosting Santa visits since 1861 but this year they have transformed the experience “into an interactive, virtual experience” called Macy’s Santaland. Kids not only get to see Santa but also meet his elves and tour his workshop. The customized experience ends with a virtual visit with Santa. Best of all it’s completely free!

https://www.macys.com/social/santa-land/

Santa the Experience

For a more engaging experience try a live video chat with Santa the Experience. The chat with Santa is approximately five minutes but before that, you’ll be guided through a tour of the North Pole including the toy factory and the reindeer stables. You’ll even get to see Mrs. Claus! When you book you can provide information about your child like his or her name, age, wish list, and even a specific memory you would like Santa to bring up during the conversation. Packages start around $45 and can go up depending on the time slot and add-ons.

https://santatheexperience.com/

Santa’s Club

Another live video option is Santa’s Club. This site allows you to choose between a live video with Santa or a personalized recorded video message. They also offer an upgraded version that includes a personalized mailed letter that arrives before your session. The live video sessions last around five minutes and packages start around $35. 

Santa’s Club

Portable North Pole

Do you need a more involved Santa to help encourage your kids to stay on the nice list? Portable North Pole offers options for recorded personalized videos from Santa throughout the year. Santa can wish your child a happy birthday, remind them to behave, or congratulate a new accomplishment (anyone trying to potty-train their child right now?). You can also order a call from Santa about being kind or trying hard in school. You can create a simple video for free and a “Magic Pass” which allows you to create multiple videos starts at $10.99. 

https://www.portablenorthpole.com/

iCaughtSanta

If you get to Christmas Eve and don’t have time to schedule a call with Santa a great option is just to superimpose Santa to a photo and offer your kids “proof” of his visit. The iCaughtSanta App is perfect for this. You can just upload a photo of your living room or Christmas tree and the app will allow you to add a Santa sticker. They have several Santas to choose from. Your kids will see Santa leaving presents under your tree. The same app can be used again to add the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. The app is available for iOS and Android and is free to download. 

https://icaughtsanta.com/

Delaying Preschool or Daycare Because of COVID-19? Here’s What To Do.

While many parents start looking for a daycare as soon as they find out they are expecting some parents are delaying preschool or daycare and are choosing to start with a nanny. Before the age of two babies can get a great deal of social interaction from just their immediate family and a caregiver. Eventually, parents start to look at daycare to provide an opportunity to truly practice playing with others. 

With the onset of COVID-19, many parents have been forced to delay their toddler’s entry into daycare or preschool. Also, with fewer in-person classes and storytimes available, toddlers are missing out on valuable opportunities to practice their social skills and interact with other kids their age. 

A big concern for parents who are delaying preschool or daycare is that without the typically structured setting of a daycare or class their child is going to fall behind. However, there are things you can do at home with your child to help mimic some of the things they would learn at daycare. Practicing these things right now will help your child be more prepared when you do feel ready to send them. 

Keep a Schedule or a Routine

Daycares tend to follow a routine or a schedule at all ages. This helps the child understand what to expect and not be taken by surprise when it’s time to end one activity and transition to the next. Parents can implement a similar routine at home. Every minute does not have to be planned out but having fixed times for meals, snacks, rest, and free play can help establish calm and order at home. It also helps kids gain independence as they begin to anticipate what’s next and take pride in knowing what to do next. 

Practice Sharing

Let’s say you’re coloring with your toddler and he or she demands the red crayon. It can be easy to quickly hand it over to avoid a massive tantrum but that’s not going to teach your child how to interact with his or her peers. Instead, tell your child that you are still using it and will hand it over when you are done. Then take 10-15 seconds to finish up and give your child the crayon. They will start to learn how to ask and how to wait when someone is not done using an item they need.

Establish Mealtime Rules

It might be ok for your child to walk around the house with a snack in one hand and a favorite toy in another but at daycare, it’s expected that they sit down and eat nicely with others. Snack time and meal times are a chance to connect with others in a different way than they do when they play. Create a routine where you eat meals together at the table. Perhaps serve certain items family-style so that your toddler can help practice serving themselves and others. You can even infuse math into snacktime by helping your toddler count crackers or pretzels for both of you! 

Encourage Independence

At daycare, your child will be one of several which means that they will not be able to ask the caregiver to do everything for them. Find ways to help your child become more independent. Here are a few skills to work on:

  • Can they take their shoes on and off or can they at least bring you their shoes and socks? 
  • Can they put on their coats themselves? (Tip: Google “coat flip trick” for an easy way to teach this)
  • Can they throw out their own trash?
  • Do they help clean-up when it’s time to end an activity?
  • Do they help with chores like putting away laundry or wiping down a table?
  • Do they know how to ask for help?
  • Can they wash their hands with soap?

Practice Using Messy Materials

As a parent, we often avoid activities that have a high likelihood of making a mess. That includes things like glue, paint, glitter, markers, etc. While parents love receiving a homemade craft from their child they also love it when their child makes them at daycare and they don’t have to be the ones to clean-up. However, it’s important that you give your child plenty of opportunities to practice using messy materials. Learning how to use things like glue and scissors is an important milestone in childhood development. Teach your child how to make a mess responsibly by putting down a mat or using a tray to help contain the materials. Invest in a child-sized smock or keep an old large t-shirt handy when doing things like painting. Lastly, make sure you are not cleaning up alone. Your toddler will love the opportunity to wash brushes in the sink and sweep up sequins (warning: there is no magic vacuum that is able to pick up all the sequins). 

Delaying preschool or daycare is a tough decision for any parent. But you shouldn’t focus too much on how much your child is missing right now due to COVID-19. Providing a safe and loving environment at home will help your child grow even without the presence of peers. Remember that most parents are going through the same thing as you so it’s likely that being around peers will be a new experience for many children. Lastly, children are incredibly adaptable and will quickly get up to speed when they do have the chance to be more social.