Archive for the ‘child care’ Category

What to Expect from a Vacation Nanny

April 1, 2015

Vacation-Nanny-250x250
Originally posted on the INA Blog.

When planning a vacation with children it is an option when traveling with children to have a vacation nanny.  There are several reasons why people opt to have help on their vacation or during a family or business travel trip.  The reasons range from needing an extra set of hands during the family vacation, to planning date nights, providing coverage when working or at a conference, and providing household assistance and or cleaning services.  Below are various ways that visitors use a vacation nanny when traveling.

Vacation Nanny:

Many families when traveling simply want the luxury of having an extra set of hands while on their trip.  They may have someone who works full days traveling around the city with them or spends the days at the beach or the pool acting as a nanny/entertainer for young children.  They may utilize the nanny not only during the day but as night as well, providing nanny services while the adults have dinner out/do a date night.  A vacation nanny should be expected not only to provide safe and reliable child care, but assist the family in covering nap times, planning fun activities for the kids, and educating the family about activities appropriate for the kids in the local area.  They can provide light housekeeping services as well to make things run smoother so the family is better able to fully enjoy their trip.

Hotel Nanny:

From time to time families will request a nanny for a single night out or a few nights out during a trip.  Many of the times these a date night vacation nanny will arrive with some games, activities, and the ability to be nurturing and put the kids to bed while the parent’s go out on the town.  They are used to working in a hotel environment with different kids who need “warming up” and the nanny should have a strong capability to be energetic and easily adaptable.  Vacation nannies are used to coming in to a situation where they do not know the kids and quickly building a relationship where the kids are able to have a great time and feel comfortable.

Conference/Work Trip Nanny:

There are a lot of families who come to town and need a nanny to cover time when they will be working or attending an event. A nanny that comes to a hotel to cover work time usually plans an outing or activities for the kids/babies.  They follow the regular or requested schedule of the family and are used to working in hotel rooms.  They are able to provide a fun, safe, environment while Mom or Dad is busy working for the day and adapt quickly and easily to the needs of the family.

Housekeeper Nanny:

From time to time when families are traveling they rent vacation homes and like to have daily assistance in the home cooking and cleaning.  This is considered a Housekeeper Nanny and can be very helpful in creating a great environment in a vacation rental.  This nanny can also provide childcare services within reason of being able to maintain the housekeeping tasks and cover things like parent’s night.

Hiring a vacation nanny can meet many different types of needs and requests.  If you are interested in learning more about the different types of coverage that can be provided when traveling and considering a vacation nanny consult with an INA member nanny agency for options and availability in your destination.

3 Areas For Nannies to Make a Big Impact

January 29, 2015

nanny impact

Originally posted here.

There’s a certain balancing act we nannies must manage in the course of doing our jobs. We want to help mold and shape our young charges, but then at the same time, we know we should leave the big character development stuff to their parents and stick to the basics. Where’s a loving, caring nanny to draw the line? We can’t fully answer this question for you—you and your family will have to hammer out the fine details of that one yourselves—but there are a few “safe” areas in the middle where everyone can meet and agree. Let’s take a look:

Cooking

Preparing meals and snacks for our kids is a big part of our job, and an important one, too. Childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past 30 years, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, and more than one-third of American children are currently overweight or obese. It’s vital we teach and model healthy eating habits to the kids we take care of. To do that:

  • Take them grocery shopping with you. Talk about the benefits of low-fat or nonfat dairy products, lean meats, whole grains, fruit and veggies. Download the OurGroceries app to your smartphone for some high-tech shopping help.
  • Have them help in the kitchen. Helping to prepare their own food will give them a sense of accomplishment, and they may be more apt to try something new if they had a hand in making it. Food Networkfeatures numerous recipes kids can help make.
  • Show them that healthy eating can be fun and yummy. Let them dip their veggies in low-fat ranch, hummus, salsa or yogurt-based dressing; whirl up a delicious fruit smoothie in a juicer or blender. The NutriBullet system comes with a variety of nutritional recipes and is easy to clean, too.

Cleaning

Everyone in the house can agree that kids should help with the household chores—well, except the kids, of course. But there’s good reason to require chores from the kids you watch: According to a Wellesley College study entitled “Children’s Autonomy and Responsibility: An Analysis of Child-Rearing Advice,” chores help them develop into caring, grounded young adults, and a lack of household chores makes them less responsible in other areas of their lives. To get them involved:

  • Make a chore chart. Pinterest has a great page on this topic, with a variety of printable chore charts, lists of age-appropriate chores and tips for making chores fun.
  • Don’t insist on perfection, and don’t be shy with praise. You don’t want to make the whole affair into an anxiety-ridden struggle. Of course they have to do their best, but also remember that no one’s perfect.
  • Be consistent. We know that sometimes it’s simply easier to do it yourself, but if they aren’t expected to follow through, they won’t.

Reading

Ready for some shocking facts about kids and literacy?

  • Two-thirds of students who can’t read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare, and more than 70 percent of U.S. inmates can’t read above a fourth-grade level (One World Literacy Foundation).
  • Kids who don’t read proficiently by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school (American Association of School Librarians).
  • Fourth graders who have 25 or more books at home do better on reading tests than children who don’t have that many (National Center for Education Statistics).

Don’t wait to start reading to the children in your care. No matter what age they are, set aside time each day for reading, whether together or solo.Scholastic.com features six great reading apps for kids—give those a try.

Things to Do in January with Your Family

January 19, 2015

mom-daughter-musicOriginally posted here.

January may seem like a dreary month since it can get so cold outside. But you can find plenty of fun things do in January with your family in this first month of the new year with activities and celebrations that make all of you forget about the weather outside.

Enjoy Winter Activities Together
Kids are playing indoors more these days. Keep them busy without video games. Try a complete list of winter activities for kids that will entertain your children until the spring thaw.

Play Indoors
Staying in the house doesn’t mean the kids have to park it in front of the TV. There are plenty of indoor activities for kids that involve active games, pretend play and creativity exercises.

Sign Up for Music Classes
New sessions of kids’ music classes start this month and many programs are geared toward the school-age child, all the way down to classes for mommies and babies. Not interested in classes? Try music activities with kids that allow you to strike up the band on your own terms.

National Hobby Month
Find a new hobby to enjoy with your children during National Hobby Month. Explore many fun hobbies, such as jewelry making, rubber stamping, origami, painting and more.

National Soup Month
Warm up your winter days with hot soup. National Soup Month is the perfect time to get your kids in the kitchen to make soup together. Whip up a batch of chicken soup,vegetable beef soup, bean soup and more.

National Staying Healthy Month
Cold and flu season is kicking into high gear. Keep kids safe and healthy with these winter health tips. Get your children involved with health, safety and nutrition worksheets.

National Thank You Month
Practice the gift of “thank you” during National Thank You Month. Encourage your kids to write thank you notes and show them how to make those thank you cards special.

Oatmeal Month
When else do you get to celebrate all things oatmeal? Make oatmeal cookies together. Send them off to school with a bowl of warm oatmeal in their bellies.

Nannies: The Best Childcare Option

April 23, 2014

Flickr-Woman-Smiling-300x199
Originally posted here.

Parents have to make big decisions for their young children starting even before they are born. Will they name the baby after crazy Grandpa Cornelius or wacky Grandpa Walter? What kind of diapers will be used? Will the nursery be painted yellow or green? While the effects of having a unique name may last a lifetime, there is one decision that will make a huge impact on how a child develops: what kind of childcare to use? According to the National Network for Childcare, “quality child care has the capability of promoting trust, autonomy, and a true sense of happiness and well-being in children. It can lead to positive social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development.” What more could a parent ask for?

More than two thirds of children in America have working mothers and therefore are in need of childcare. Most parents must choose between finding an opening in a daycare center or hiring a nanny to care for their bundles of joy. As with most major decisions, many factors must be taken into consideration. However, after closer inspection, it is clear that nannies can offer everything a daycare does and more.

PROMOTING SOCIALIZATION

Gaining social skills is crucial for children to grow into intelligent, compassionate adults. However, a daycare may not be the best way to accomplish this as many would assume. A good nanny knows how important socialization is in a child’s development and will cater to those needs. The nanny can accompany her charges to early childhood classes and play groups where they can interact with the same children repeatedly and build relationships. They can also attend fun outings such as the playground, library, or the grocery store. Taking turns with others on the slide, asking the librarian for help finding books, or putting groceries on the conveyer belt for the cashier are all forms of socialization. Being exposed to a variety of people, environments, and situations will broaden a child’s skill set and knowledge of the world.

ONE-ON-ONE ATTENTION

Children who are cared for by nannies receive more one-on-one attention than those in daycare centers. According to www.childcareresourcesinc.org, “one of the most important quality indicators for child care centers is its staff to child ratio. The fewer children served by each staff member is critical to higher quality care.” Depending on a child’s age, the staff-to-child ratio in daycare centers may be anywhere from one adult for every 3 to 15 children.

Nanny Joy Schreiber of Des Plaines, Illinois, recalls her days working in a childcare center. “Having worked in infant classrooms, I would say that for infants it would be much better to hire a nanny. There is no possible way for an infant in daycare to get the one-on-one attention that they need. Some days all you can do is meet basic needs of feeding, diapers, and naps. By the time you get done with one round, it’s time to start the next.” Only being able to meet the basic needs of infants is sufficient. In addition to food and sleep, babies need physical, emotional, and mental stimulation.

For older children, one-on-one attention is just as crucial. Nannies can tailor activities to a child’s individual interests. Nanny Carrie Corbin of Chicago, Illinois explains, “I come up with age-appropriate activities that I know the child I watch will enjoy. At a daycare, where there might be a variety of ages in one setting, those age-appropriate stimulating activities may be harder to come by.” Toddlers have their own interests and preferences, which nannies can use to enhance learning opportunities.

FAMILY CONVENIENCE

Another great reason to hire a nanny is convenience. Many parents do not work nine-to-five jobs, which means the cookie-cutter start and end times of daycare centers will not meet the family’s needs. A nanny can start and end her workday at any agreed upon time. Many nannies will also be flexible with their schedules as we all know things don’t always go as planned when there are little ones involved.

Having children be able to spend their days in the comfort of their own home is an attractive idea to many parents. After all, home embodies all a child really knows about the world. There are favorite toys for entertainment, loveys to wipe away tears, food chosen by Mom and Dad, and a familiar bed for naptime.

A nanny also means there is an adult at home during the day. This allows a world of tasks to get done that would not with a daycare. Nanny JoAnna Ryan Becker of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, lists “children’s laundry, homework help, meal preparation, grocery shopping, accepting deliveries, and being home for service people” as some of the many ways she helps make her NannyFamily’s life more convenient.

CAREGIVER CONSISTENCY

Consistency means that rules and expectations are the same at all times. Consistency makes the child’s world predictable and less confusing. Hiring a nanny allows the parents to choose a caregiver that will be consistent with their style of parenting. For example, new mother Haley Williams of Olympia, Washington, explains why she hired a nanny. “We knew that going with a nanny would allow a constant in my daughter’s life instead of the constant turnover of other daycare kids and teachers. Ideally, we’ll have the same nanny for several years so that she’ll become close with us, understand our family, and ultimately care for my daughter the same way that we would as her parents.”

All children learn at a different pace and go through phases that require special attention. Whether it’s potty training or transitioning to sleep in a big kid bed, nannies and parents can work together to provide consistent encouragement and learning experiences while helping kids meet developmental milestones.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Hiring a nanny is the best childcare option. Nannies can provide children with everything a daycare offers and more. With individual attention, socialization, and consistency between parent and nanny, children can grow into confident, happy people.

7 Tips for Hiring the Right Nanny

April 9, 2014

Originally posted here.

It’s time. Your maternity leave is about to end and you need to prepare to hire a caregiver for your child. Or perhaps you’ve moved to a new town and need to find a new nanny. Whatever your situation, I know that hiring someone else to care for your child in your absence can be an emotionally difficult and confusing process.

As someone who has worked with parents and educators as a researcher and teacher, and who has a Ph.D. in Psychology and Doctorate of Education, here are some tips that I have found to be helpful in the search for a nanny for your child.

1. Hold preliminary interviews outside of your home.
It is important to interview potential nannies in a neutral space rather than a place of power, such as your home. You want to get a true picture of the nanny — if she is influenced by your environment, you may miss the subtleties that are important to a job interview and a clear evaluation of who this person is.

2. Create a checklist of certain “must-have” attributes and watch for them during the interview.
In general, your child’s nanny should be honest, committed, compassionate, intelligent, caring, empathetic and experienced. Your child’s nanny should have a put-together appearance during the interview: How we express ourselves on the outside is often how we feel about ourselves on the inside. When we meet someone that is disheveled or has poor hygiene, that person may be dealing with some internal issues, including self-esteem. Punctuality is also important, as it demonstrates a person’s work ethic, just like personal hygiene and appropriate dressing. We can only evaluate people in the beginning by their behavior, and mature, responsible behavior often reflects a good work ethic and commitment.

3. Know your parenting style and values, so that you can hire someone who has a similar parenting style and shares similar values. 
Continuity and consistency is high on the parenting playbook. Children need structure and consistent rules to develop security and competency. Therefore, it is very important that nanny follows your parenting style. This is a point that needs to be established prior to hiring a nanny.

4. Run a security and background check, and carefully check references. 
You want to be assured that this person is someone who can be trusted with your child.

5. Look for someone who comes with first aid and CPR training. 
Your child’s nanny should have the full spectrum of emergency care knowledge: She/he should know what to do if a child is choking, spikes a fever or is involved in any athletic accidents, including water accidents. The nanny should always know who to call in case of emergencies and be familiar with how to get to the children’s doctor and hospital.

6. Make sure there is good chemistry between you and the nanny. 
After all, this is the person that you are trusting with your children. There is no job more important. This person is representing you when you’re not present and therefore must hold your values. Children model what they see and they will model the nanny that is interacting with them for most of the day. You’d better like the person you hire as your child’s nanny, since she/he will transfer her/his own values to your children.

7. Know your budget for your nanny’s salary. 
Be sure to go over your budget well ahead of time, and figure out what you are willing and able to pay as the nanny’s salary. This can alleviate any uncomfortable negotiations back and forth between you and the nanny, which can only lead to feelings of dissatisfaction.

Once you think you have found “the one,” I suggest giving the nanny a trial period of one week when you are able to be present. During this trial period, you can watch the interactions between the nanny and your child, and make sure that the values you uphold are also being passed along by the nanny to your child. You can watch for any personality or work ethic quirks that perhaps did not come out during the interview. You can also see how your child reacts to the nanny, whether positively or negatively. Then, at the end of the week, you and the nanny can meet and decide whether to continue further into an official signed contract, or whether it is best to part ways.

Traveling With Toddlers

March 30, 2014

Multi-ethnic family waiting in airport

“Hayley Spurway’s Tips For Traveling with Toddlers”  was originally posted here

Take your time

The greatest thing you can take – whether at the airport, sightseeing or getting from A to B – is extra time. Toddlers love to explore and don’t care for the time pressures of travel, so you’re more likely to all retain your cool if you factor the faffing, gawping, stalling, toilet stops and tantrums into your timeframe.

Book ahead

Whether you’re camping or staying in hotels, it pays to book ahead. Trying to retain the spontaneity of travel BC (Before Children) doesn’t pay off if you arrive at your destination to find you can’t bag a bed or pitch and have to hit the road again with tired, hungry toddlers melting down in the backseat.

Give them a camera

Giving toddlers their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view. Amongst pictures of feet and wheels, my three-year-old has shot flowers, animals, helicopters, boats, rocks and rabbit poo.

Be prepared for the climate

It’s simple advice, but children dressed comfortably for the weather and terrain will be happier in a new environment. With all the gear available, there’s no excuse for dressing toddlers in ski-suits four sizes too big, forgetting their gloves, or leaving them barefoot on a beach where sea urchins lurk.

Pack Pull-Ups for potty training

Planes and public transport during the potty training days can be a nightmare. As if you didn’t have enough in your hand luggage, now you’re expected to add a potty, three changes of clothes and bags of wet, stinky pants. Potty-training gurus may disagree, but if toddlers are still having lots of little accidents then I’m all for putting them back into Pull-Ups on the plane.

Be app-y

Thanks to toddler-friendly apps, there’s no need to cram a toy box into your hand luggage when traveling by plane. By all means take a book and a magic scribbler (crayons just get lost down the side of seats), but the most compact form of entertainment is a device loaded with apps and games.

Use public transport

Most toddlers love the novelty of travelling by train, bus and boat, so ditch the hire car and use public transport where possible. In Switzerland, my two-year-old would repeat the names of the metro stops as they were announced – provoking ripples of laughter and making him even more excited about boarding the train each day.

Invest in a child locator

In my experience, toddlers aren’t fans of reins, backpacks with a leash, or any infringement on their freedom. Keep tabs on them at airports, train stations and crowded attractions with a child locator. The child wears a small unit (strapped to a belt or shoe) and you keep the transmitter. If you lose your child set off the alarm and follow the sound to find them.

Keep bugs at bay

Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer are handbag essentials. A wipe of the cutlery in restaurants where you’re unsure of hygiene, or a squirt of hand sanitizer when there’s no washing facilities, can zap a few germs and prevent toddlers catching some common bugs.

Don’t forget the medicine

Whether they’re out of routine, jet-lagged, or eating less healthily, kids always seem to get ill on holiday. Dampen the impact of broken nights, frayed temperaments and fevers by packing an easy-to-swallow medicine. Other basic ingredients in your first aid kit should include antiseptic wipes, plasters, sting treatment, and a thermometer.

 

 

How Do You Structure Your Day?

March 23, 2014

2368x_bBy: Sue Downey of Nannypalooza.com.
Originally posted this article here.

As nannies we have some unique challenges and some very exciting benefits to being in the home. We have a great deal of control over how things go- the pace, the activity and the schedule. We also have to juggle a lot of elements – the age ranges of the children, the other adults (parents, grandparents, other workers) in the home and the running of the household.

How do you set up your days?There are a few different approaches but it warrants some thought.Most children have periods of the day where they are more open to certain activities. For instance, very kinesthetic (lots of movement) kids may need to move around a lot during or after periods where they are exposed to new information. Younger kids may need to follow a period of stimulation with sleep. All kids need to have basic needs met to be able to fully engage. This means they need to be comfortable in temperature, not be hungry and not be too tired. Perhaps you consider all these things for your kids and set up times when you introduce materials, plan crafts or games and outings.

Or maybe you follow the child’s lead and each day is a bit more unique. There is a rhythm to this but it does not necessarily have a pattern that is easy to see. These days are more free flowing and able to change on a dime. You may introduce materials only to have a child see a butterfly and follow him on a nature walk instead of the puzzles or blocks you had laid out. You may not have a snack time per se but instead feed the child when they ask for the snack.

I find for me that it is better to think of a rhythm to the days instead of a true schedule. I like to have routines at the outset of the day- getting dressed, self care, eating breakfast. Then flow into a period of directed activity, setting out an art project, science experiment or sensory play. When the interest wains with this I open it up to free play which is often independent as I start a load of laundry or do the breakfast dishes. I observe the child and offer guidance as necessary. None of this is done on the clock (with specific times or starting and ending times) more just with the interest level of the child and my patience and interest as well. As it nears time for lunch there is more routines of clean up, any responsibilities the child may have and then stories before rest time. In the afternoon I like to get outside if possible and also allow time for revisiting the mornings activities.

What ever structure you choose, it is important to give it some thought and to have a plan. As always when working with kids (and nanny families!) the plan may go out the window more days than not. But starting with a plan means that you will make sure you are intentional in your caregiving, which is a big step to quality care.

Simple Strategies Aren’t Enough For Bed-wetting, Study Finds

March 12, 2014

Originally posted here.

child sleeping
Tue, Aug 27, 2013 (HealthDay News) — While techniques such as fluid restriction can help some children who have problems with bedwetting, alarms and medications are more effective, a new study finds.

“Simple behavioral therapies such as rewarding the child for dry nights or taking the child to the toilet during the night can sometimes help with bedwetting, and is better than doing nothing,” said study leader Dr. Patrina Caldwell, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

“However, there are more effective treatments such as bedwetting alarm training or medications,” she said. But alarm training is more difficult, she noted.

Bedwetting affects about 5 million children in the United States, with up to 20 percent of 5-year-olds having the problem. Most kids outgrow the problem, known medically as nocturnal enuresis, and only 2 percent of adults are affected. However, bedwetting can be frustrating, stressful and traumatic. Remedies and treatments abound, but with much debate about which are best.

In the United States, two medications are approved for childhood bedwetting — desmopressin (DDAVP) and imipramine (Tofranil) — although others are also used off-label.

Dr. Trevor Resnick, chief of neurology at Miami Children’s Hospital, said he only prescribes medication on an as-needed basis, such as to spare children embarrassment on a sleepover.

The new report was published recently in The Cochrane Library.

For the review, Caldwell’s team reviewed 16 published studies involving more than 1,600 children, with about half trying simple interventions. Among them were fluid retention, rewards for dry nights (such as stars on chart), and lifting children and taking them to the bathroom after they have been asleep.

No one simple strategy worked better than another, the researchers found. When they compared alarm training with the simple strategies, the alarm training was more effective. And treatment with medication alone was better than the simple interventions.

However, the researcher noted that “the findings from this review should be interpreted cautiously due to the poor quality and small sizes of the trials.”

Reasons for bedwetting are not totally understood, but experts think it may be associated with the time it takes children to develop control over the bladder, a complex milestone. The timing varies from child to child.

The findings suggest that parents may want to start with simple treatments, Caldwell said, “then move to alarm training or medication if simple treatments do not work after trying for six months.”

“Younger children generally take longer to respond to treatment,” she said. “Don’t get annoyed with the child, because bedwetting is usually out of their control.”

While the alarm system, which sounds an alarm when drops of urine are detected, is effective, it is difficult to do, Caldwell said. Another downside she has sometimes seen is when children become dry on alarm training then develop sleepwalking or night terrors. “Bedwetting and night terrors and sleepwalking are all parasomnias [sleep disorders] and are known to be associated,” she said.

The new findings mirror what U.S. expert Resnick has seen in his patients. “I’d say behavioral therapies work about 50 percent of the time,” said Resnick, who was not involved in the study.

If simple treatments don’t work, Resnick said he may consider medications, but he only prescribes them on an as-needed basis, since the medications have side effects.

He agreed with the review authors that many of the included studies did not have sufficient children participating or who were receiving a single treatment to produce definitive findings.

Six Steps to Happy Playdating

March 5, 2014

Originally posted here.

Playdate

Do you have a playdate planned for the week ahead with a new family, and are not sure what to expect? Not to worry! Follow our six step guide to happy playdating. Both you and your child are sure to make a lasting positive impression, and receive an invite back!

Plan ahead:  Exchange contact information with the host family or nanny in advance.  Confirm a head count for the number of children you will be bringing to the playdate, arrange a drop off and pick up time, and stick to planned times.

Bring a bag of supplies: Prepare a bag for your child with emergency information, extra clothing, and any other necessary items the child may need such as medications or special food items

Manners matter: Arrive on time to the playdate. If you are running late call the other nanny or parent. Make sure both you and the child use “please” and “thank you” as often as possible. In fact, you really cannot say it enough!

Pitch in: Offer to bring a healthy snack or lunch items. When at the home, offer to help host nanny or parent with meal prep or clean up. Encourage your child to help the host child with clean up at the end of the playdate.

Gossip and play don’t do hand and hand: This one may seem fairly obvious, but in the event that you are asked a question that makes you uncomfortable, never speak of your nanny family, other nannies, or parents in a negative light. Be mindful of what you say. You never know how others will spin your words. Remain a positive ambassador to your family at all times

Be respectful: Of the other family’s rules and also of your child’s space. If something arises that calls for disciplining, do your best to wait until you and your child are in a private place, such as the car ride home to discuss the matter in detail.

7 Ways to Make Breakfast Fun

February 19, 2014

7-Ways-Make-Breakfast-FunOriginally posted here.

We all know that a healthy breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The problem is getting kids to eat it. Some kids aren’t morning people; some want nothing but sugary cereal. Some kids want to eat the same thing every day, and others need some variety. I’ve come up with some creative and healthy new breakfast ideas so my own don’t get tired of the same old things.

These ideas are even more fun if you have your kids help you make them; they’ll enjoy helping in the kitchen, and they’ll be more than happy to eat their own creations.

1. Fruit Pizza
Make a pizza crust and let it cool, or use flatbread. Spread it with a favorite flavor of yogurt, then top with sliced fruits. Bananas, strawberries, grapes… almost any fruit will work.

2. Parfaits
In a parfait cup or a juice glass, alternate layers of yogurt with fruit, and top with granola or cereal. For a rainbow effect, use different flavors of yogurt and different fruits for each layer.

3. Fruit Kabobs
This is as easy as it gets. All you need is some bowls of various sliced up fruits and some skewers. Supervise the kids while they create the fruit combinations they prefer. Have some yogurt on hand for dipping.

4. Make-Your-Own McMuffins
Scramble an egg, and layer it with cheese and a slice of ham on a toasted whole wheat English muffin. For something different, try using Swiss, cheddar, or mozzarella cheese, or use turkey sausage or Canadian bacon instead of ham.

5. Strawberry Pinwheels
Start with a small whole grain tortilla. Spread it with low fat cream cheese – regular is fine, but you can also use cream cheese that comes in flavors like strawberry or blueberry. Top it off with sliced strawberries, then roll up the tortilla and slice it into pinwheels.

6. Put Peanut Butter On It
Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and most kids love it. It’s good for so much more than sandwiches and actually makes a great breakfast food. Spread it on toast or English muffins, or even pancakes or waffles, then top with banana slices, preserves, or raisins. Or make ants on a log by slicing a banana lengthwise, spreading the flat sides with peanut butter, and sprinkling with raisin or dried cranberry “ants.”

7. Breakfast Smoothies
Throw some milk, yogurt, and protein powder in a blender, and then add some frozen fruit, like strawberries or blueberries, and a sliced banana. Blend, pour, and go.

When all else fails, forget the rules. Some people, kids included, simply don’t care for “breakfast food.” And that’s okay. What matters is that they get a healthy meal in the morning. A turkey and cheese wrap or an English muffin pizza made with tomato sauce and low fat mozzarella is healthy too. Include a piece of fruit and a glass of milk, and you have a healthy lunch for breakfast.


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