Creating Good Eaters

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 11/19/17

One of the best things you can do for your little one is to introduce him or her to the wonders of healthy and adventurous eating. And the earlier, the better! Young children who have been exposed to a wide variety of foods from the outset are much less likely to reject new veggies and dishes later on. And it might take a few tries to get it to take, so start young and do it often, and you’ll have created a good eater by the time the toddler years hit.

Here are a few tips for creating good eaters:

1. Start early

Offer a variety of new foods to infants every few days (watch for allergies, and allow a day or two between new foods to be able to spot the culprit easily if any do pop up). Then by age 1, they’ll have been exposed to a wide variety of foods.  Often, kids are less resistant to familiar foods. So keep offering items later, even if they don’t like it at first. It may take up to 15 times for the food to be familiar enough to be desirable. Don’t force them, but consider a “no” more like a “not right now”, and do offer it again at another time. Also look for creative ways to introduce new flavors – curry powder in the tuna, veggies in the Mac and Cheese, using or serving almond milk instead of cow’s milk, almond butter instead of peanut butter, etc.

2. Mix the routine up

If it’s healthy, it doesn’t matter what mealtime it’s presented. If he gets a kick out of eating his whole grain pancakes and fruit at dinner but won’t eat them at breakfast, hey go for it. As long as he’s eating healthy and is enthusiastic about doing so, that’s what’s most important.

3. Get them involved from the beginning of the process

Kids will be a lot more invested in eating what you want them to if they’ve been involved with the process. They enjoy cooking and are much more excited about eating foods and meals that they made. For example, teach them how to make a salad dressing and watch them wolf down that salad eagerly.  Also, let them shop with you and pick out what healthy things go in their school lunchbox.

4. Turn them into little gardeners

One of the best ways to get kids stoked on new, different, healthy and nutritious foods is to give them a pack of seeds and a corner of your garden. Show them how to raise fruits and vegetables from seed to plate. It’s great family time, non-screen time, and promotes some serious diverse and healthy eating.

5. Let them choose

Your toddler will want to assert her independence, so you can help her expand her eating horizons by giving her two new, healthy choices to choose from. She gets to make the choice, but both choices are new and nutritious for her, and everyone wins. Try to make it a fun, exciting game that you play regularly.

6. Make sure they’re hungry at mealtime

Quit snacking 1-2 hours before mealtime for little ones to build up their appetite. Your child will be more open to eating new foods when they’re hungry and ready to eat than if they’re already full from the usual snacks.

7. Be the role model

And of course, as with everything – you’re the model of the behavior your children will adopt. Be adventurous, diverse and healthy in your own eating, and they will follow your example!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

Teaching Your Child Good Manners

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 11/11/17

Don’t you love when you come across a polite young child that has impeccable manners? Interacting with a child who consistently says “Please” and “Thank you”, and “Excuse me”, is one of the most delightful experiences possible.

Here are a few tips to help your kid be that polite child with great manners:

1. Understand why it’s important

Being polite and having good manners isn’t just for the people who will receive them. Realize that politeness is a social development that is important for your child’s well-being among his peers as well. A kid without good manners is as undesirable to other kids and playmates as it is to adults. If they’re not good at sharing or taking turns, they’re not going to be well-liked by their classmates. Conversely, a child who is well-mannered and polite will have a much easier time making friends, being seen as likable, and enjoying their day-to-day interactions. Consider sending your child into the world with good manners as crucial as sending him into the world with his lunch or sweatshirt, for his own well-being.

2. Give them the lingo

“Please” and “Thank you” are simple phrases and expressions of politeness that even your 2-year-old can manage. He may not fully “get” what he’s saying, or the concept of being polite, but what’s important at this stage is that you’re programming your child to associate the words with how you begin and end an interaction. Your toddler will realize they’re important words because Mom and Dad say them all the time with a smile. This way, long before social graces are a factor to them, the words and concepts are already implanted, and it won’t be a new concept you’re trying to introduce once they’re older. By then, your child will use his manners automatically, whether at home, daycare, a friend’s house, or out in the world.

3. Demonstrate the correct behavior

Give them the tools, then let them see them in action. If you haven’t noticed, children aged 2-4 do a lot of parroting. They’re trying to figure out what the things to say and do are, and what gets what reactions. Politeness both to and around them at this stage is very important, because they will pick up what they observe from you. Let them overhear a lot of “Excuse Me”, “Please”, “Thank You”, and “You’re Welcome”s, to everyone you talk to. This includes to your partner, as well as to your toddler – treat him or her with great politeness, just like you would anyone else. They’re watching and listening, and whatever you do is what they’ll end up doing.

4. Be consistent

For one, you must be consistent with teaching and instilling manners and politeness both in and out of the home. It’s not just for when you’re at a fancy restaurant, church, or a big special event like a wedding or a funeral that they should suddenly be expected to bring out their best manners. Such should be the expectation all the time, everywhere. Similarly, make sure your partner, caregivers, family members, etc., are all on board with this consistency. If your partner allows grabbing toys without saying please or thank you and you don’t, or you allow playing with food at the table but your partner doesn’t, your child has no way of understanding what the overall behavioral expectations are.

Thank you for teaching your child great manners!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

Is It Okay to Let Kids Indulge in Halloween Candy!

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 10/31/17

There's no reason to be spooked. Many dentists believe it is okay to let kids indulge themselves in candy this Halloween.

The reality is that if you're going to eat candy, gorging is far better for your teeth than rationing. As far as oral hygiene goes, it is better to eat many candy bars at once than to eat one every few hours. In the first situation, acid will build up in your mouth, but your saliva will naturally neutralize this acid over the course of an hour or so. In the second scenario, you are constantly exposing your teeth to acid throughout the day, resulting in too much acid for the saliva to wash away.

Slowly snacking on candy, chocolate and sugary snacks every few hours, day after day, keeps your teeth bathed in enamel-corroding acid, the by-product of bacteria feeding on sugar and other carbohydrates in your mouth. This leads to dental caries, or cavities.

Gorging is also better because it is more likely to be followed by tooth brushing. People, especially children, are less likely to brush their teeth after every candy bar, particularly if they aren't at home.

General Tips: Oral Health & Halloween
As a general rule, make sure you feed your children a meal before going trick-or-treating. This way, they will not crave treats as much. Make your kids count their treats and divide them into a few portions for everyday use as dessert after dinner. Do not let them have treats right after arriving home when they are hungry, or at school when they cannot keep their teeth clean.

Potato chips and pretzels are worse offenders than chocolate, because these cooked carbohydrates cling to your teeth and give mouth bacteria something to feast on longer. The worst thing for your teeth is stickiness and acidity that generates even more acid. These are normally the factors that really lead to cavities.

It is helpful to know that among candy, the sticky and sour kinds are the worst two types for your teeth. Sour candy tends to have more acid, so sour-tasting gummies are a double whammy. Also, those gummies that stay stuck in the molars till Thanksgiving are nothing but trouble!

Oral health is nothing to ignore, because tooth decay and gum disease are major public health problems. Stemming from inflammation and subsequent infections, tooth decay and gum disease are associated with poor digestion, heart attacks, strokes and cancers.

If you think candy is the only unhealthy element of Halloween, you need to consider this: Halloween is one of the top three major nights, along with New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day, for dangerous binge drinking, according to an article published last year in the Journal of American College Health.

Happy Halloween to all.

Ideas for new baby gear

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 10/21/17

It can be overwhelming as a new parent to figure out, amongst the sea of new baby gear that is available, what is really useful and needed, and what is just hype. While it’s good to be prepared ahead of time, there are an infinite number of things you could easily add to this list, and remember that it’s ok to add to your collection of gear as you go; don’t feel the need to accumulate everything all at once or before your baby even arrives.

Here’s a few pieces of new baby gear you’ll probably want to have around to get you started:

  1. Clothes

    Clothe that baby! Sizes usually run as: preemie, newborn, and then by months in increments of 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Comfort for the baby and ease for you are the key things in selecting clothing. You’ll want it to be able to hold up through many washings in the laundry machine as well, so pick something as durable as it is cute.

  2. Car seat

    A well-made, new car seat is mandatory from the moment you take your baby home from the hospital. Don’t buy a car seat with an unknown history; it’s not worth the risk of buying a used one just to save some money; buying new could mean the difference in saving your child’s life in an accident. There are lots of things to know about car seat safety for children – check out our article on Car Seat Safety and Proper Use

  3. Body Baby Carrier

    Wearing a carrier for your baby will both keep your baby close to you and allow them to cuddle with you while you do things, as well as keep both your hands free for doing other things around the house or wherever you are. Many people swear by slings, but make sure you’re aware of all possible health and safety hazards, and ensure all straps and safety mechanisms are sound.

  4. Stroller

    A stroller and/or baby seat will make your life infinitely easier when it comes to shopping, cruising around town, or even getting your exercise in after baby is born. Consider your personal needs with the stroller when shopping – do you have to negotiate a lot of stairs? Do you need a jogger-style stroller so you can take your baby with you when you exercise? Do you need storage to put things when shopping or going between places? There are a lot of options available so you should be able to find one that suits your needs well. One thing to keep in mind when looking at strollers is that most strollers won’t work for kiddos until they have good head control, so finding a stroller that can adapt to work with the infant car seat is a beneficial idea.

  5. Diapers and things

    Cloth or disposable diapers are up to you, but figure on that little human going through 10-12 diapers a day in the beginning. Have wipes (or a washcloth with warm water) on hand, and a designated diaper-changing area. You can go for buying an official changing table, or do what some parents do – put a towel on a table, bed or floor and call it good. Just make sure if you use an elevated surface that isn’t an official changing table designed to keep them from rolling off, keep your hand on your baby at all times to keep them safe.

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

Tips for Teaching Your Child Volume Control

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 10/14/17

As your child grows, it’s important for him or her to learn about personal-volume control, and when to use certain kinds of voices that are appropriate for different situations and environments they are in.

1. Remember that you’re teaching more than just volume control

Teaching your child how to moderate his or her voice’s volume control teaches them other skills as well: self-control, judgment as to what is or is not demonstrating correct behaviour. Teach these skills gently and forgivingly in tandem with teaching your child about volume control, and remember they’re only just learning this for the first time so patience and repetition is key, but be mindful that these are great teaching moments for those things as well.

2. Teach by example

Don’t use loud voices in the house or other places you don’t want your child to use his or her loud voice. They are always watching and will learn to mimic whatever behaviour you or your spouse are exhibiting in normal life. Remember to be mindful in situations when you may not otherwise think twice about volume control on your own voice, but still sets the example for what is appropriate behaviour to model after – yelling for your husband to come help you with something from across the house, or shouting at the referee for a bad call on the sports game. Nuanced situations for you; mixed messaging to your child demonstrating the opposite behavior from what you want to instill.

3. Play whispering games

Playing a whispering game with your child in quiet moments is a great way to teach and reinforce to them what it sounds and feels like to listen to and speak in a low-volume voice. Switch off with speaking in whispers, and turn the volume gradually down as low as you possibly can while still hearing each other. Make it a fun game, and they’ll love the chance to practice their new skill with you!

4. Give them the opportunities to shout it out as well

By letting and encouraging your child to yell and shout at times and in places where appropriate – like the schoolyard, or a playground, or a sports game – not only helps them get their sillies and energy out, but it also helps your child learn that loud voices are appropriate in some environments and situations as well.

5. Don’t call it “indoor/outdoor” voice

Although “Shh let’s use our indoor voices” is a common phrase, perhaps a better way to phrase it to your child is “quiet/regular” or “loud” voice. If your child is at a video game arcade, or a restaurant with lots of play area and games, they’re not expected to use their “indoor voices” only. Similarly, a wedding or a funeral may be outside, but their “outside” voice still wouldn’t be appropriate here.

6. Diversify their experiences

Taking your child to many different environments is a great way to help them practice with making the connection that different places require different volume levels and behaviours. Young children will need reminders, and consistent feedback, but they are also able to distinguish between different environments and situations from a young age. The more practice they get, the better!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

5 Helpful tips for potty training

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 10/07/17

It’s a big deal for both the kids and the parents when it’s time for potty training. Being in control of their basic functions in this way is a major milestone in a child’s development and a parent’s parenting role, and it can be both exciting and sometimes frustrating.

Here are some tips and ideas to help make the transition smoother for everyone involved:

  1. Patience, Patience, Patience

    The first thing you need to keep in mind is potty training kids takes time and patience. Probably the biggest factor in smooth and successful potty training is the child’s readiness. There’s not necessarily a specific age that is the right age to begin, and if you try to do it too early, it may take longer and be more frustrating for everyone. So don’t feel like you need to rush your child.

    Most kids have an interest in it by around age 2, but some can take til more like 2 1/2 years old or older before they are ready to take this next step. Encourage them, but don’t feel a pressure to rush them into it – they’ll do it when they’re ready. Figure the process may take around 3-6 months

  2. Signs they’re ready

    If they can follow basic directions and are able to do the mechanics like pulling down their pants, sitting on the seat, getting back up and pulling up their pants again, that’s a good sign that they may be ready.

  3. Signs they want to

    If they’re able to stay dry for more than 2 hours, communicate when he or she needs to go – either through words or body language, complain when they have dirty diapers, or if wearing “big boy” or “big girl” underwear seems exciting to them, and they seem interested in the toilet and how it works, these are all good indications your child may be ready to begin potty training.

  4. Make it fun

    Hey, even adults have trouble with “aiming” sometimes. Make it a fun game for your little guy and take one family’s idea of throwing a couple Cheerios in the toilet bowl and telling him to aim at them. When he succeeds, he can pick a dollar store prize.

  5. Make it naked

    Some families find success by having their kids have a “walk around naked” (or in just a t-shirt) phase at home – for some kids, it’s easier to remember to use the potty if they’re naked, but more difficult if they’re clothed. The reason this helps some kids remember is that without a diaper, underwear, or pants, well that stuff’s gotta go somewhere! “Oh, the toilet! That’s a good place for it to go!”

When they’re able to start remembering and getting the “cues” that they need to go use the potty, you can reintroduce clothes gradually – just some cool “big kid” underwear they’ve earned the right to wear that they can show off at first, then pants, then back into full clothing with no more accidents!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

9 Great Fall activities for you and your kids!

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 10/01/17

The leaves are starting to change and will soon be dropping, and the air is getting that crisp autumn feel to it. Fall is one of the most fun times of the year, with lots to do in the cooler weather before the summer fades away from memory completely and it gets downright cold with the winter frost.

Looking for some fall activities for your kids? Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Make leaf animals

    This could be a really fun activity, especially when the leaves are all different colors. Figure out fun and creative ways to incorporate the different colors, and choose different shapes, as many as you can find.

  2. Go to the Arboretum

    To help in your leaf animals, you could go to the Morton Arboretum to find all the different colors and shapes of leaf that you can imagine. The arboretum is only 25 miles west of Chicago and would make for a great fall family outing, and it offers walking, hiking, biking, various events, and even some fall races if you’re in the competitive spirit.

  3. Jump in a pile of leaves

    Get the kids to join you in raking up a big old pile of leaves in the yard, or go to a friend’s or neighbor’s house if you don’t have the yard for it, and get the biggest, fattest, crispiest pile of leaves together that you can muster – and then jump away! Show them this video of a husky loving his leaf pile for some fun and to get them in the mood for it.

  4. Go feed the ducks

    There’s no better time than now, while there’s still sunlight – and ducks! Toss ’em some stale bread before they head south for the winter.

  5. Stroll through the park

    Grab the stroller, put on the tennis shoes, get on the slide and the swings, and take the kids to have a great time before it’s too bitter cold to do it regularly. Be sure to get some photos of them, and of you all together!

  6. Pick apples

    Go to your local orchard and enjoy the last days of the warm(ish!) sunlight by picking some apples with the kiddo. Then go home and have some fun with your fresh-picked treasures!

  7. Go bobbing for apples

    Pop those apples you just picked into a nice big, open bucket of water and watch the kids crack up as they try to figure out how to get an apple out without using their hands.

  8. Make your own play-dough

    This is a fun way to get play time in. You can make various “flavors” of play dough, for example: apple piecranberry, and even pumpkin spice marshmallow dough.

  9. Have a pumpkin carving party!

    Invite your friends, your neighbors, your family to come and carve pumpkins. It’s especially fun for the kids if you get them their own little special pumpkin-carving tools and show them how it’s done, from carving out the top and pulling out the “guts”, to cutting out the eyes and mouths – then let them give it a shot on their own!

Fall is a wonderful time to spend time with your kids. Get out there and have a great time!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

Fostering Independence (Being the Anti-Helicopter Parent)

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 09/23/17

Fostering independence in kids is about teaching them how to make good decisions, and how to do things for themselves. It’s important for you to instill these skills without hovering over them all the time or doing it all for them – i.e. being a “helicopter parent”.

Here are some tips for instilling independence in your children without being a helicopter parent:

1. Provide abundant opportunities to practice making decisions and choices
Big choices and little choices, they all add up to decision-making practice. Let your child start flexing his or her decision-making and independence muscles by giving them a choice between two options that have your approval. Do they want eggs or oatmeal for breakfast? Do they want to go to the museum or the park? Help show them how to weigh options and evaluate the logistics involved in their ideas, and determine whether they still want to do it. Let them choose and then do what they decide on to show they made a good choice.

2. Never do for your child something he can do for himself
Putting his own socks and shoes on may take longer, but build in the extra time so he can do these things himself anyway. Otherwise he will remain overly-dependent on you far longer than he needs or ought to, which isn’t healthy for him or you.

3. Assign age-appropriate tasks
Along those lines, teach your little one to help with his own care for himself and his belongings. Even toddlers are perfectly capable of being taught to clean up after themselves and put their toys away, bring their dirty dishes to the sink, put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, sort laundry, etc.

4. Have routines
If you establish predictable routines, then kids will know what needs to be done every day and night, and can learn to do it on their own. For example, at bedtime, they’ll know they always need to get in their pajamas, lay out their clothes for the next day, and brush their teeth. It makes them responsible for their part in the routine, and eases the workload on the parent while minimizing chaos in the morning and evenings.

5. Don’t swoop in and “fix” everything – let them make mistakes
If your child wants to learn how to do something new, show him how to do it, then set it up and let him try. If it’s imperfect, let it be (so what if there are lumps in the bed? She did it herself! You can teach her how to smooth it out even better tomorrow), or encourage them to do it again. If you’re always there fixing everything the minute it’s imperfect, your child won’t ever get a chance to learn how to do it on his own, and may get discouraged from even trying again. If you see they are getting frustrated or their task is taking longer than it needs to, don’t just take over. Ask if they want your help or help coach them through doing it on their own.

6. Don’t save them from all heartache, discomfort and embarrassment
Kids need to learn the various aspects of life, cause and effect, and what role they can play in each. These things are a part of life; help your kids learn to cope with difficult things or setbacks healthily from the start, rather than trying to save or prevent them from ever encountering them. Having these skills will take them much farther than being packed in an insulated Mom- or Dad-bubble of protection.

It might be hard at first to let your kids deal with some of these things on their own. But remember, independent, self-reliant and encouraged kids are much happier in the short- and long-term than their counterparts who don’t get a chance to develop their independence and resilience for themselves. Help them grow independently from the inside out!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

Tips for Giving Your Toddler a Haircut at Home

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 09/16/17

It’s a necessary part of life, but also a great way to drive your toddler crazy: the haircut. From about a little over a year old to sometimes up to 5 or 6 years old, some kids find haircuts to be one of the worst, most torturous things ever. It may be the sharp scissors coming at them, it may be having to sit still in the chair for 15-20 minutes, or if you take them to a barber shop, it may be all the strange new sights, sounds, smells, people, etc. Whatever the case, a haircut, while it may be necessary for your toddler, may be one of the most excruciating experiences for both you and them.

But still, unless you’re trying to grow your own personal Rapunzel, your child will probably have to get their hair cut at some point. If you are the one to give them their haircut, it can save a lot of money, and can possibly make the whole experience easier for them to tolerate as well. If you do the haircut together at home, he may be more comfortable than he would be at a barbershop, in a completely new and different environment, with an unknown person.

Here are a few tips to help giving your toddler a haircut at home be a smoother experience for the both of you.

1. Gather the appropriate supplies

At the very least, giving your child a haircut will require a chair, comb, and pair of barber shears. You can certainly try with your regular pair of household scissors, but barber shears will be much sharper and cut more precisely. You can use any chair, but a higher chair will be kinder to your back.

2. Let them get in on the fun of wetting their hair

If your child doesn’t want to get his or her hair wet, you can use a spray bottle to dampen it while you cut. It may help to let him have a turn at spraying your hair first and maybe his own, so he sees how it works, and give him warning before you do it to him so it doesn’t startle him.

3. Do the front first

They’ll probably be more apt to sit still in the very beginning so do the part that people will actually see then. Start with the bangs, and go from the outside of one eyebrow across to the other to keep it even. Use one head to gently secure his head to remind him not to wiggle around and so you don’t accidentally poke his son or eyes.

4. Work swiftly, but take just small snips

Of course when working with a wiggly little one, you’ll want to do it quicker than slower, but if you take small pieces, you can fix any mistakes more readily than if you cut in large chunks.

5. Tell your child how great their new haircut looks

Some big (and genuine) oohs and aahs go a long way for positive reinforcement for both his cooperation and how great he looks in his new ‘do!

Happy haircutting! 

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

Teaching Your 18-24-Month-Old

by Smiling Stars Daycare on 09/09/17

Many people are curious about what they should be teaching their toddler at each age interval. Toddlers in the 18- to 24-months range are a lot of fun and easy to teach! What they should be learning most can be found in all the teachable moments found throughout the day in just normal life with you.

Toddlers love to be with their parents. They love learning to help and be involved in the household, your life, and the world around them. The best thing you can do to help teach your child things at this age is to enjoy being with them, and just keep sharing and exploring the world with them.

Talking to them throughout the day is especially important. They may not be able to converse back with you yet, but they understand so much more than they can say. Explain and name all the things you’re doing as you go through your daily routine. If you’re putting laundry in the laundry machine, tell your child, “I’m putting laundry in the laundry machine,” etc. They will pick up on what these things mean and start to be able to mimic what you’re doing if you give them verbal instructions.

By 18 months old, you’ve probably found that they’re able to follow simple and even increasingly complex directions or games that you give them. If you just naturally involve them in your activities, they can learn even more, and even start to help out a bit!

Additionally, toddlers often enjoy certain things in batches. If you find that your child is taking an interest in music, indulge that new interest and explore it with him from lots of different angles. You can sing songs to him and play songs on the radio one day. The next day you could make a makeshift instrument out of pots and pans or things that can make a shaker, or play him a real instrument if you have one, show him how to play something simple like the xylophone or a recorder, etc. Another day you could go to a concert in the park, or something of the like. You can read books and stories about music. Or watch a tv show or movie specifically about music, or play a game. Get creative and find all the different angles you can share more about whatever is interesting them.

You can also incorporate life changes in a similar way – if you want to get a small pet for the family, like a fish, you can similarly read books about fish, do fish art, visit the aquarium, do a fish puzzle, cut out fish and fish-related shapes for a storyboard, make fish faces at each other at dinnertime, watch a fish movie (Finding Nemo is always a favorite, of course!), etc., and then follow it all up with the big climax: buying your fish at the pet store and bringing him home!

Teachable moments exist everywhere in everything for an 18-24-month-old. Get as engaged with them as you can, and have fun with it!

For information about our child daycare services in North Vancouver, Smiling Stars Daycare, please call (604) 986-3380 or email us by visiting

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