The Adventurous Eater: Preparing For Baby’s First Bites

tilly_foodHas your little one been eyeballing your breakfast? Maybe she is reaching out to grab your fork or spoon during dinner. If this sounds familiar, chances are they are ready to try solid foods. First bites are a big milestone in a baby’s life. Often parents begin with rice cereal or baby oatmeal. But today, the bland fare that has traditionally dominated the diet of American babies – cereal, plain pasta, and the like – may be creating a generation of picky eaters. In other words, branching out of the traditional norm and dressing up baby’s first foods with spices won’t hurt your baby. In fact, breastfed babies have already enjoyed this experience as breast milk takes on the flavors of the food the mother eats. If you dine at your favorite Indian restaurant and then nurse, your baby will also enjoy a flavorful Indian meal. Going from flavor to bland won’t seem like much fun to baby. Of course, mixing foods and spices together should only be done after food allergies are ruled out.

When choosing ingredients for preparing your baby’s first meal, one thing that is known is that the organic factor matters more for certain foods than others. For example, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and avocados tend to have relatively low levels of pesticide residue. On the other hand, conventional apples, lettuce, and strawberries have some of the highest levels. For guidance, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group ranks 53 fruits and vegetables from worst to best in terms of pesticide residue.

If you find yourself ready to add Baby Food Chef to your mom resume, consider tossing some some rosemary in with that squash, liven up that chicken with a dash of cumin, and give those mashed potatoes a kick with a blend of paprika and parsley. You may be surprised by your baby’s reaction.

>> Recipe: Simple Apples & Cinnamon


3 organic apples

Teaspoon of Cinnamon


Peel, core, and slice apples.

Add apples to steamer basket and allow them to become soft (8-10min).

Transfer steamed apples to a food processor and add cinnamon.

Blend apples to desired consistency.


>> Recipe: Apples, Cinnamon & Strawberry Puree

5 or 6 medium sized organic strawberries (washed)

3 organic apples

Teaspoon of Cinnamon


Slice strawberries in half.

Peel, core, and slice apples.

Add strawberries and apples to steamer basket and allow them to become soft (8-10min).

Transfer steamed strawberries, apples, and cinnamon to a food processor and blend to desired consistency.


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Before You Use the Bumbo Seat…

Hazel sitting in her Bumbo Seat for the first..and probably the last time.

Hazel sitting in her Bumbo Seat for the first..and probably the last time.

This one-piece, adorable little seat called the Bumbo Seat is made of foam, and has been popular among parents with infants for several years. Its popularity is no surprise – as soon as an infant can support his/her own head (usually by 4 months of age), he/she can sit upright, fully supported by the Bumbo and play with arms free while mom and dad finally get some stuff done.   It seems harmless enough, but in addition to its voluntary recall of 1 million Bumbo seats in 2007 to address the dangers of using the seat on raised surfaces, and its recall in 2012 to add a seatbelt after numerous babies fell out and suffered skull fractures, pediatric physical therapists believe it interferes with normal motor skill development.

Rebecca Talmud is a Pediatric Physical Therapist who published a blog about the Bumbo Seat as a guest on Mama OT. She describes the following as standard motor milestones in developing infants:

  • Between 6-9 months we expect typically developing children to begin to sit upright on the floor for short periods of time, first using support from hands and later independently.
  • Between 9-12 months, we expect children will begin to gain more control in seated position. When seated on the floor, they will begin to turn their trunk to reach and manipulate toys placed around them.

Rebecca states, “When children are placed in the Bumbo before they are developmentally ready for sitting it can interfere with the natural progression of skills.”

How exactly does it interfere? Rebecca explains that the seat claims to hold the child in a specific position that allows for the ‘active practice of the head and postural control,’ when in reality, there is no active control being achieved. The child is passively placed in position and then locked in.” There is a lack of muscle activation and joint mobility while in the Bumbo, and no natural weightbearing occuring, which robs the child of the sensory input needed for development.

Talmud’s post goes on to mention other inconsistencies between what the Bumbo claims to accomplish and what actually happens during use in regards to posture, noted in the Chicago Tribune by Mary Weck, Clinical Coordinator of Physical Therapy at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Seems a no-brainer to toss your Bumbo Seat so it can join the ranks of other failed and unsafe baby equipment. Instead of a Bumbo, help your baby practice sitting by physically sitting with your baby. If you need to get stuff done, make use of a Moby wrap or Ergo.

Check back later for the lowdown on the ExerSaucer!


Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Tips On How To Keep Baby Safe In Winter Weather

Babies are not experts at regulating their body temperature quite yet, but that doesn’t mean they should be bundled up like mini space travelers to enjoy a winter stroll. Getting outside is a good cure for cabin fever and can break up the day when you’ve spent WAY too much time indoors. To keep baby warm and comfortable, the general rule is to dress her in one layer more than you’re wearing yourself. However, each baby is different, so see what works best for your child and enjoy some much needed fresh air.

Baby Matilda is all ready for a  Winter stroll.

Baby Matilda is all ready for a Winter stroll.

Here are more tips on how to keep baby happy and comfy outdoors:

  • A thick winter hat is the number one necessity. On very cold days, be sure the hat covers the ears; one that fastens under the chin is helpful to keep it positioned.
  • Keep fingers and toes protected with mittens, thick socks, and booties (if available).
  • Wear your baby against your body in a sling or carrier. This can help to keep her warmer than when she’s riding in a stroller.
  • Keep a warm, thick blanket handy in case baby needs extra protection.
  • Bright sun against white snow can be hard on the eyes. Keeping a pair of baby sunglasses with you can help her enjoy her walk while looking fashionable.

Protecting Babies Skin:

The winter season can be irritating for your child’s tender skin. Cold, dry air can sap moisture, and your little one’s rosy cheeks can quickly become leathery and wind-burned. Luckily, there are basic steps you can take to protect baby from seasonal skin hazards.

  • If any areas of your child’s skin look or feel dry, immediately apply a generous amount of baby moisturizer.
  • Purchase perfume-free baby soaps and lotions, which are less likely to be irritating.
  • Use a humidifier in baby’s room or around the house. For safety reasons, don’t place the humidifier near or directly over your child.
  • Dressing your child in too many or too heavy layers can make him sweat, leading to blocked glands and skin irritation, while under-dressing can dry out exposed skin or aggravate a preexisting condition.
  • Cut down on daily baths. Two or three times a week is enough for an infant’s first year; more baths may dry out the skin, especially during the winter. If your baby finds a daily bath soothing, make sure it lasts no longer than 10 minutes and that the water is lukewarm, not hot.

Keep these tips in mind, because ‘baby, it’s bad out there,’ and before you know it, winter will move out so you and your little one can enjoy the fresh spring air!


Welcome Kathleen Collins

Little Steps Early Learning Center welcomes its new Director, Kathleen Collins.

Kathleen Collins - DirectorProfessional Experience:

  • Run-A-Muck Childcare/Majestic Harbor Childrens Center, Rowley, MA – Pre-School Teacher. 2010 – 2014
  • Community Day Care, Lawrence, MA – Consultant – 2010
  • Community Day Care, Lawrence, MA – Program Director – 2007 – 2009 – Employee of the Year
  • Merrimack River Community Childcare, Lawrence MA – Director – 1992 – 2007
    • Assistant Director – 1990 – 1992
    • Kindergarten Teacher – 1998 – 1990
    • Pre-school Teacher – 1986 – 1988
  • Community Teamwork Incorporated, Lowell MA – Pre-school Teacher – 1983 – 1985


  • Salem State College – Master of Education in Early Childhood Education – 1986
  • Salem State College – Bachelor of Science in Early Education – 1983

Professional Affiliations:

  • President – Essex County Association for the Education of Young Children – Two Year Term
  • Volunteer – Greater Lawrence Council for Children

Dog Week in the Mango Room

At Little Steps, we are encouraging our toddlers to find their inner impressionists. Our Mango’s came up with some abstract puppy paintings that are sure to catch your eye!

Mango Dog Week1

As we all know, not only painting, but arts and crafts in general, can be a ton of fun! One thing we must remember is, aside from fun, the importance of craft and ingenuity. Simple creative activities are some of the building blocks of child development. The motions that come with painting or scribbling with a crayon are essential to the development of fine motor skills within toddlers. Along with fine motor skills, crafting with kids gives them an opportunity to learn new words, shapes and colors, in turn aiding in your child’s language development. According to a report by Americans for the Arts, art education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The experience of making decisions and choices in the course of creating art carries over into other parts of life. “If they are exploring and thinking and experimenting and trying new ideas, then creativity has a chance to blossom,” says MaryAnn Kohl, an arts educator and author of numerous books about children’s art education.  As well as problem-solving, language, and cognitive development, art plays a role in children’s inventiveness and visual learning. These skills are more important now than ever! “Parents need to be aware that children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past,” says Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University. “Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.”  PBSKids states that “knowledge about the visual arts, such as graphic symbolism, is especially important in helping kids become smart consumers and navigate a world filled with marketing logos.

Here is a book the Mango’s read to wrap up Dog Week!Mango Dog Week3

The Latest Blueberry Project

“Every child is a different kind of flower, and all together, they make this world a beautiful garden.” -Unknown

July garden1We take pride in our creative learning curriculum as well as making sure your active little ones have an awesome time here at Little Steps. Although these precious tikes may be young, it is still vital for their development to learn who they are as people through imitation and imaginativeness. This month our theme is Garden; we practiced these developmental techniques by painting and making abstract pictures with our hands, feet and reading fun books about bugs. Here are some photos of July’s Garden theme crafts.

In the piece of art above: each flower represents a Blueberry and the teachers are listed in the clouds.

In the piece of art below: the Blueberries had fun getting messy in the paint with their hands, feet, knees and elbows!

July garden3

Stay Cool in the Summer Heat

Tips for Keeping Kids Safe This Summer

Warm weather is here and the heat continues to get more intense! Summer is the season for fun times, great friends and getting outside; but it’s also a time to take extra precaution when it comes to protecting your infants and toddlers.

Follow these simple tips to keep your kids safe in the sun:

  • Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight with shade, an umbrella or the canopy of the stroller.
  • Your car can reach 120 degrees on hot July days; never leave your child in the car, even if you’re going in the store for ONE minute! Kids in Cars put into effect a Lock Before You Walk campaign to help parents keep their children safe.
  • Make good choices when it comes to choosing your kids’ ‘outfit of the day.’ Loose, tight-woven pants and long-sleeve shirts are good barriers to keep between your kids and the sun.
  • Have your child wear a hat or cap to protect his/her face.
  • Limit sun exposure to times to before 10am and after 4pm, since hours in between are the when the sun is at its most intense and can cause the most damage.
  • Find yourself and your child sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.
  • USE SUNSCREEN! Always choose the sunscreen that says “broad Spectrum” – it will shelter your skin from UVA and UVB rays. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. For more sensitive areas of the skin such as the face, use sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Although these sometimes leave the white on your skin, they now come in fun colors that kids love! For babies younger than 6 months, protect with clothing and apply sunscreen on small areas such as the face and backs of the hands.For children older than 6 months, apply sunscreen to all areas of the body. Be careful to avoid the eyes. If the sunscreen irritates their skin, try a different brand, a sunscreen stick, or sunblock with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. It is recommended that sunscreen be reapplied every two hours. Read more HERE.
  • Last, but definitely not least: Lead by example! Teach your children and family good sun protection techniques by screening yourself from the sun the right way.

Here at Little Steps your child’s safety is our top priority! We keep your child’s safety in mind when going outside by applying sunscreen and dressing them in hats provided by parents, as well as by finding the shadiest spot for your little one to play in (Blueberries, especially).

Learn more HERE!

Inside Little Steps

Little Steps Early Learning Center is coming along…


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Little Steps is Opening Its Doors

Little Steps Early Learning Center has been working diligently to complete the finishing touches to their facility. We are excited to announce that the tentative opening is scheduled for April 29th, 2013.

If you missed our first open house, mark your calendars for their Grand Opening being held on May 1st, 2013, from 4:30-7:30pm. Tour the facility and meet the staff of Little Steps. After, head upstairs and meet the providers of Salmon Falls Family Healthcare. Light refreshments will be served.



Open House!

Join us for our Open House tonight, April 10th!!


This is your chance to meet the staff and tour the facility.

Light refreshments will be served.