The first three years of a child’s life is a critical time for brain development. Within the first three years, a child’s brain grows at a phenomenal rate and absorbs much more than we can even assume. By the age of three a child’s brain is twice as active as an adult (which may explain that short attention span)! It’s no mystery that having conversations with your child beginning at early infancy is beneficial to their brain development. From “goo goo and gaga” to your child’s first words, there are many things you can do as a parent to help our children learn how to communicate. Here are three tips for boosting your child’s brain development through language. 1.Read to your child daily. Introduce new words, books, and bright pictures that catch their attention. 2.Expose your child to new lullabies and music. Children often respond to music and rhythm before they begin to pick up words. 3.Narrate daily activities. Give your child a “play by play” of daily activities, this will allow a child to listen, understand, and make connections. Eventually your child will be telling you what is on the day’s agenda. From the moment your child wakes up in the morning to the time they go to bed at night, you should be engaging and conversing with your child. A child has the ability to hear thousands of words a day that will help them learn, understand and communicate as they grow. The more speech your child hears the better opportunity they have to learn and understand language. The thought of speaking to your infant shouldn’t be a silly one, soon enough your child will be responding too! Keep it up and the results will show!
Get Up and Get Moving! The times, they’re changing, and it’s becoming even more difficult to keep our kids engaged, happy, and well out of our hair. I know I’m not alone when I say that I have used my friends: television, computer, and tablet as a distraction for my children when I need 30 minutes of peace. As parents, we know it’s not always easy, but are kids being exposed to too much technology? According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children spend an average of 7 hours a day using media including television, computer, internet, video games, and cell phones. In an ever growing media driven world, it’s becoming even more important to make sure your child is getting active every day. So, how can you encourage your child to get active? Show them that being active is fun! Exercise as a family by going for a nightly walk, jog, or having a family soccer game in the back yard. You can also get your children involved in activities outside of the home, (like The Little Gym!) to help them appreciate a healthy and active lifestyle for years to come. Whether you’re running, jumping, or tumbling, get moving with your child to build the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits!
5 Ways to Make New Mom Friends Making friends as a new mom is not always an easy feat. It’s like standing in the cafeteria on the first day of school surrounded by strangers wondering where you fit in – but this time you’re at the playground and you have a baby with you and you’ve just sang “The Wheels on the Bus” for the 1000th time, and you just want to have an adult conversation. Is that too much to ask? Whether you’re at the grocery store, the playground, or The Little Gym, as a new mom you’re constantly scoping out potential mom friends, eager to strike up a conversation about ANYTHING. No matter where you are, making new mom friends does not have to increase panic or stress. Here are 5 tips for making mom friends with ease. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. No seriously, how are you going to meet any awesome new mom friends if you stay cooped up in the house all the time? Put yourself out there by getting involved in a mom’s group/mommy meet up. Enroll yourself and your little one in the Parent/Child programs at your local The Little Gym. Or head on over to the playground and scope out a mom that looks like you may have something in common with. It could be the start to a beautiful friendship! Find a friend? Get her contact information! Don’t be shy; finding new mom friends is like dating… if you find a mom you like get her number so you can see her again. If you guys don’t connect the second time around you can’t say you didn’t try! Plan a play-date. Find a mom you like? And she has a little one the same age as yours? SCORE! Plan a play-date; this is the best way to get moms talking – to each other. Plan a “Mommy” play-date. Find a sitter or get your significant other to take the baby reigns, it’s time for a mom’s night out. Grab some drinks or dinner and enjoy a kid free night with your new friend. Moms deserve off nights too! Be yourself. This is the best way to find genuine friends that will last a lifetime. Finding new mom friends may not always be simple, but having one, two, or five mom friends may make your days easier. Next time you’re at the grocery store, playground, or even your local The Little Gym, don’t be shy – strike up conversation and see where it takes you! There are plenty of fish in the sea and soon enough you will have a group of great mom friends that will last a lifetime. Brain Boost! The Power of Baby Talk The first three years of a child’s life is a critical time for brain development. Within the first three years, a child’s brain grows at a phenomenal rate and absorbs much more than we can even assume. By the age of three a child’s brain is twice as active as an adult (which may explain that short a
The Little Gym has done it again! We are excited to announce that The Little Gym has been awarded Best Gym Party by Parents Magazine! We are honored to be awarded yet again by Parents Magazine following the 2010 ranking as the #1 place to host children’s birthday parties. Thank you to all of our wonderful customers for making our Awesome Birthday Bash Parties such a success. If it wasn’t for you this award would not be possible! If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience The Little Gym’s Awesome Birthday Bash Parties, what are you waiting for? Our fabulous instructors will lead all the fun and our team handles everything from set up to cleanup which means more fun for you! From our Awesome Birthday Bash Parties, to our exclusive Dora the Explorer; Go, Diego, Go; and NOW new SpongBob SquarePants themed parties (coming this fall), birthdays at The Little Gym really “take the cake”! We’ve got the awards to prove how great our parties are, and now all we need is a great family like yours to make it extra fun! Be sure to check out The Little Gym’s Best Gym Party award in the August issue of Parents Magazine, now on newsstands! And online here

When your little one has you dreading dinnertime due to her picky nature, take solace in the fact that kids aged 2 to 4 are hard wired to question what they put in their mouth—it’s a normal part of development. And while that pickiness normally starts to subside after age 5, there’s a lot you can do to in the interim to make mealtimes more pleasant—and make sure you raise a good eater.


Involve your child in your meal. Have her grocery shop with you or visit the local farmer’s market, so she begins to understand where food comes from. Once you are back in the kitchen, have her help prepare the meal. Kids are more likely to be interested in eating dinner if they helped participate in its creation.


Refuse to be a short-order cook. Make one meal for the entire family instead of caving to your child’s demands for “kid” food. Think of it this way: your child is invited to enjoy the parent’s meal. It should never be the other way around.  If you begin serving your kids “real food” now, they won’t create the unhealthy habit of always requiring chicken fingers, hot dogs and pasta.  You will raise good eaters at a young age.


Make mealtimes routine. By serving dinner at roughly the same time every night and sitting together at the table without distractions you send a signal that mealtime is a priority.


Never force it. Studies show the more times you expose a child to a food—roughly 10 to 15 times—the more likely he is to like it. Don’t give up on carrots until you’ve offered them repeatedly. And don’t force the issue with your child. If he’s not interested in a food you’re serving, don’t pressure him to eat it and don’t make a fuss. Just offer it again in a day or so and possibly in a new way.  Dress it up with the presentation, for instance put spinach leaves on a sandwich and plate it so it looks like a house on the plate.


Forget “clean plates.”  Requiring your child to clean her plate before leaving the table just sets you up for a battle. Instead, allow your little one to choose what and how much she eats from the healthy options you serve. If a child comes to the table hungry enough, her innate hunger mechanisms will guide her to eat until she is satiated.


Don’t bribe with dessert. By rewarding a child with a cookie for eating his broccoli, you cement the idea that healthy foods are “bad” and sweet foods are “good.” You can avoid this common trap by treating all foods neutrally.


Above all, set a good example. No child will eat and enjoy peas if her parents blatantly dislike them. Therefore, more than anything else, you can encourage your child’s good eating habits by modeling healthy habits yourself.  You must be eating the foods you want your children to eat.

Getting little ones to go for a snack that isn’t chock full of sugar can be a real challenge. Here are several healthy snack ideas for kids, as recommended by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (pcrm.org), an organization headed by Dr. Neal Barnard and dedicated to advocating good nutrition. Try packing these in your kids’ lunchbox and see if they pass the taste test!


• Chopped raw vegetables and dip

• Chunks of avocado, cucumber, or cooked sweet potato

• Breadsticks or pita chips with hummus

• Tortilla chips with bean dip or salsa

• Graham crackers or gingersnaps dipped in applesauce

• Mini rice cakes with peanut butter

• Apple slices with hazelnut butter or honey

• Fresh or dried fruits, especially raisins

• Frozen bananas blended with a little coconut or almond milk

• Nuts, especially mixed with dried fruit

• Fresh soybeans (edamame)

• Bite-sized cheese cubes



Maple Walnut Granola

Makes about 6 cups


3 cups rolled oats

1 cup wheat germ

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup raisins

½ cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon cinnamon


1.      Preheat oven to 300ºF.

2.      Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

3.      Transfer to a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Bake, turning often with a spatula, until mixture is golden brown, about 25 minutes.


Nutritional facts per ½-cup serving: 231 calories; 7 grams protein; 39 grams carbohydrate; 6.5 grams fat; 2.5 grams fiber; 5 milligrams sodium; calories from protein: 11%; calories from carbohydrates: 66%; calories from fats: 23%





Makes about 6 cups


6 large, tart apples (gravenstein, pippins, Granny Smith, etc.)

1 cup undiluted apple juice concentrate

½ teaspoon cinnamon


1.      For chunky applesauce, peel apples, then core and dice. Place in a large pan. Add apple juice concentrate, then cover and cook over low heat, stirring often, until apples are soft. Mash slightly with a fork if desired, then stir in cinnamon. Serve hot or cold.


2.      For smoother applesauce, cut apples into quarters and remove cores. Chop finely in a food processor. Transfer to a pan and add apple juice concentrate and cinnamon. Cover and cook, stirring often, over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes.


Nutritional facts per ½-cup serving: 101 calories; 0.3 grams protein; 26 grams carbohydrate; 0.5 grams fat; 2 grams fiber; 6 milligrams sodium; calories from protein: 1%; calories from

carbohydrates: 95%; calories from fats: 4%




Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Makes 10 to 12 muffins


2 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin

½ cup raisins


1.      Preheat oven to 375ºF.

2.      Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add pumpkin, ½ cup of water, and raisins. Stir until just mixed.

3.      Spoon batter into oil-sprayed muffin cups, filling to just below the tops.

4.      Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until tops of muffins bounce back when pressed lightly. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.

5.      Remove muffins from pan and cool on a rack. Store cooled muffins in an airtight container.


Nutritional facts per muffin: 131 calories; 3 grams protein; 31 grams carbohydrate; 0.5 grams fat; 4 grams fiber; 236 milligrams sodium; calories from protein: 10%; calories from

carbohydrates: 87%; calories from fats: 3%




Veggies in a Blanket

Makes 2 large roll-ups


2 flour tortillas

2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese

1 grated carrot

2 lettuce leaves (or a handful of baby spinach leaves)


1. Warm tortillas in a dry pan. Spread vegan cream cheese on them.

2. Add carrots and lettuce or spinach. Roll up and serve or wrap in plastic wrap for snacking later.

Variations: Add thin sticks of cucumber or sweet red pepper before rolling.


Nutritional facts per roll-up: 159 calories; 4 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrate; 6 grams fat; 2 grams fiber; 230 milligrams sodium; calories from protein: 10%; calories from

carbohydrates: 55%; calories from fats: 35%