Tips + Tricks

Tips + Tricks: How to Get Kids to Love Books (+ a Giveaway!)

Encouraging Your Kids to Read

Struggling to get your little ones to read more? Fortunately, our friend and children’s book author Ashley Eneriz is here to the rescue with some ideas on how to encourage your kids to to read more – and maybe even enjoy it! As an added bonus, we’re teaming up for a giveaway at the end of this post – enter below to win a paperback version of one of Ashley’s books and your favorite Estella toy. Take it away, Ashley…

What makes a kid a bookworm and another kid a hater of all books? It can be frustrating as a parent when your child does not love books. Here are a few tips to turn your kid into a book lover. It might not happen overnight, but by applying these tips, gradually, you will notice your little one is begging you to buy him more books to read.

Connect Reading to Something Special

So many kids will tune out on reading because they do not understand that many books contain magical worlds and fun. They think that they can only be entertained by their video game, TV show, or iPad app. Your job is to help them see just how amazing books can be – even better than their favorite shows because a book goes into much greater detail.

Right now, your child probably associates reading with boring or quiet time. Instead, make reading fun by having weekly donut dates. Your child can munch on a donut while you read a chapter from a book. Some books offer more movement or actable parts that your child can do while you read out loud.

How to Get Kids to Like Reading

Make Books More Appealing

Books filled with small and a lot of words are daunting, even for expert readers. Choose books that have illustrations, smaller chapters, and bigger words to attract readers of all ages. The first Harry Potter book was just re-released with full illustrations. Your child will love exploring the magical world of Hogwarts while enjoying the illustrations.

Think in Terms of TV and Movies

What makes children so hypnotized to certain shows and movies? Next time your child watches a show or movie, take note. What makes them laugh? What makes them engaged? Start reading books that are laugh out loud funny and that are jus downright silly. Also, read out loud in interesting and fun voices. Reading aloud is beneficial for all children, even if they already know how to read. Reading books aloud can also help deepen your child’s love for books, imagination, and vocabulary, which in turn, transforms them into a stronger reader.

Pair Books with Activities

On my site, Ebook Kids, I offer craft, game, and snack ideas for several popular books. There are so many simple things you can do to enhance a book. For example, children will love making blueberry muffins after reading, “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”. They will also love acting out the story with sock puppets. Activities do not have to be time consuming or expensive. Most activities or snacks will only take about 10 minutes extra, but you are teaching your child that books are fun and building those fun, lifetime memories with them.

It can be hard to get kids to love books, especially when there are so many other things vying for their attention. Try to fit a few minutes or reading or reading activities in each day, and you will see that your child will eventually beg you to keep reading.

Tips for Encouraging Your Kids to Read More

Giveaway (updated: now closed)

Ashley has generously offered to give away a paperback version of one of her books, plus we’re throwing in one of our hand-knit toys too. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Ends February 17th at 11:59pm EST. By entering you agree to receive the latest and greatest updates from Estella and any participating brands.)

Posted by Estella Editor in Giveaways & Contests, Tips + Tricks, 0 comments

A Conversation with: Jak of Baby Does… NYC

Organic Baby Rattles - Estella Taxi Rattle

We chatted with Jak Burke, founder of the website Baby Does… NYC, on her favorite baby-friendly restaurants, hidden NYC gems, and how to survive long winters with baby:

1. Tell us about Baby Does…NYC and why you decided to start the site.

I’m a London born and bred girl but when I visited New York in 2001 I was instantly hooked. Within 12 months I had sold everything in the U.K and shipped out to NYC. I quickly began to work with families and small children in the city… I soon realized that there was an info gap for the 0-24 months age group. I also wanted to host a site that offered healthy, locally made goods and services for busy parents. In 2007 I registered my company and trademark Baby Does NYC. In 2012 we fully launched with a team.

2. In your opinion, what are the best parts of raising a baby in the city?

Oh where to begin! NYC is literally the best place on earth to raise a family. The city has everything: nature, enrichment, culture and some of the most progressive companies in the juvenile market. The city also feels like a collection of communities. Each neighborhood has its own unique scene and cultural vibe. Events for kids in NYC are also superior simply because of the concentration of talent and ingenuity here.

Organic Baby Toys - Estella Taxi Rattle

3. Can you let us in on any hidden NYC gems (parks, museums, play groups, etc.)?

To be honest everything in NYC is pretty spectacular and it’s difficult to pick a few things in particular but I am always pleasantly surprised by classes aimed at babies. For example, the Guggenheim has a stroller tour that is interactive (tots get to do stuff) as well as deeply enriching visually. It’s also a great social mixer for parents. The Mahayana Temple in Chinatown is an oasis of tranquility in a noisy neighborhood. See how your baby responds to the giant golden Buddha. On a similar theme, The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden in Snug Harbor, Staten Island, is sublime in terms of peace and beauty. For more boisterous fun I love to go to Coney Island and enjoy the historic boardwalk amusements and beach.

Baby Toys Taxi Rattle by Estella

4. Winters in the city can be tough for anyone, but especially when you have a newborn. Any tips on surviving the season without just hibernating at home?

Yes, in fact I recently wrote a post all about winter and how to survive it. Feeling isolated and trapped while undergoing sleep deprivation can be brutal for new mothers. I recommend that moms prepare for inclement weather by weather-proofing their strollers and baby carriers, then get outside! If your building has a community garden or rooftop grab some sunlight and fresh air at least once a day. Book regular drop-in classes for baby in your neighborhood – Kidz Central Station lists hundreds of classes for infants by zip code. We partner with them every week to promote different events. Also check out what’s going on at your local library. The NYPL has a variety of weekly free events for children and babies in most neighborhoods. Join a local parent forum and attend meet-ups at places like Barnes & Noble. Reach out to other parents in your neighborhood and building – host coffee mornings or breast-feeding dates. Last but not least accept help. Allow a relative or a friend to babysit for an hour or two while you nap or take a walk. Remember a happy baby needs a happy mama too.

Organic Baby Toys - Estella Taxi Rattle

5. And when the weather’s nicer…What are some can’t-miss outdoor spots?

Once the weather is temperate it’s fun to go further afield and explore other boroughs and even islands! Take a ferry ride to Staten Island and visit Snug Harbor with its wonderful children’s museum and exquisitely themed gardens. Visit Roosevelt Island and take a tram ride and see the lighthouse. Take a free ferry and grab some art on Governor’s Island. You can also enjoy a bike ride and picnic alongside some amazing outdoor art installations. I also recommend that parents attend some of the glorious parks in Queens and the Bronx. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a wonderful place to enjoy springtime’s Cherry Blossoms.

6. Favorite baby-friendly restaurants?

NYC is pretty baby-friendly at least during the day and early evening. Navigating a tightly packed restaurant with a stroller is trickier though so bring a baby seat or booster seat and park your stroller outside. I personally love Bubbys on the weekends when the neighborhood’s families are feasting on pancakes. For an early supper try Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the West Village. Uptown The Indian Road Café in Inwood serves locally farmed foods and they also host live music. Brooklyn would require a food page of its own – neighborhoods like Fort Greene and Park Slope boast amazing eateries for families. I recommend you just wander. Queens has some fun ethnic beer gardens with outdoor music events. It also has some of the best Indian family-friendly venues in NYC. The Bronx hosts quite a few tasty Italian restaurants like Villaggio Ristorante and Patricia’s. For fun-dining on Staten Island why not go for some steak and sushi at Arirang Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar or Bavarian cuisine at Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn? It’s good to remember that because your child is under two you can still opt for a menu that does not involve fries and pancakes – so make the most of it and be adventurous!

Organic Baby Toys - Estella Taxi Rattle

7. What baby gear or accessories do you think all NYC mom’s should invest in?

A good light-weight but robust stroller with a compact diaper bag (one that straps easily to the stroller) and a stroller organizer are must-have items as well as a supportive baby carrier. You can buy just about anything for a baby within a block or two’s radius so new parents can afford to travel light.

Thanks, Jackalyn! Head on over to Baby Does…NYC for more on all things baby.

(Image 2 via Bel & Beau, 4 via Annie Dean.)

Posted by Estella Editor in Interviews & Guest Posts, New York City, Tips + Tricks, 0 comments

Tips + Tricks: Traveling with Babies & Toddlers

Traveling with Kids

For those of you with upcoming trips or lots of traveling for the Christmas, New Years, and beyond, we chatted with mom of two and frequent traveler Ashley of Hither & Thither on how to make the process as seamless as possible. In just 2014, Ashley and her family traveled to Italy, Seattle, Hawaii, Florida, among many other places, so she’s got plenty of experience to pass along… Enjoy!

1. Traveling is always stressful, but even more so during the holiday season. As a frequent traveler, are there any ways to make the trip even slightly more pleasant?

The goal: More time, less stuff. In an ideal world, I’ll have finished packing well in advance so that we’re not rushing around at the last minute. We’ll get to the airport well in advance of our departure, and we’ll come back on a Saturday rather than a Sunday to start the week relaxed. In other words, there will be plenty of time. I’ll also have arranged for diapers and a few other things to be shipped ahead to the hotel or house where we’re staying, and have streamlined our suitcases to the bare minimum. Nothing is worse than shlepping around an excess of stuff, especially with young children who can’t yet carry their weight.

2. Do you think there’s an ideal time to travel with little ones (early mornings, after dinner, during naptimes, etc.)?

I’ve always preferred to drive or fly when the kids are sleeping—it’s hard to spend over three hours on a plane without some respite. We were lucky that my son was a pretty dependable sleeper, once we had a routine in place. But I do think it depends on the child: if they’re likely to fight it, or if you don’t think you could get them to sleep in your arms, a red-eye (when everyone else is silent) might be more stressful than passing the hours in a noisy, light-filled cabin.

Flying with Babies

3. What are your top tips for flying with babies? Are there any must-haves you swear by and always include in your carry on?

I always pack our carry-on as if we’re going to have a day-long layover. Think of that when you ‘re deciding how many diapers, how many ounces of formula, how many changes of clothes or toys you bring along. I’ve written a post with some favorite tips—like having your partner board the plane and set up the overhead space while you stay off the plane and play as long as possible.

4. What are some of your favorite ways for keeping a toddler occupied on a long car ride? Any go-to toys for car rides/flights?

Almost every carry-on bag has included a reusable sticker bag, paper and crayons, a few favorite books, child-friendly headphones (screen-time rules go out the window, but audio books are great for the older toddler), masking tape, and lots of snacks. Here are a series of games I came up with for flights, all using Cheerios.

Traveling with Babies & Toddlers

5. If there’s a time difference between home and where you’re traveling to, how can you get your kids on a new schedule?

The trick is to set your clock to the new time immediately. Eat on the new schedule and expose everyone to as much sunlight as possible in the new timezone. That said, keep the old clock (the body clock) in mind and be prepared with snacks the make it past expected mealtimes (and a bed around expected nap times without suffering major meltdowns.

6. Any unusual or unexpected travel tips you’ve picked up over the last few years?

While not unusual, I’ve really found renewed enthusiasm for preparation after having kids—in all manners. Before a trip, we go to the library and check out books related to our destination and talk about what’s exciting or different about where we’re headed. We talk about what we’ll do there and what we’ll eat. It makes a big difference! If Hudson is happy and enthusiastic, we all win.

International Travel with Toddlers

7. Any major travel success stories? Or disasters (or just plain funny ;)?

Our visit to Paris with our son, when he was a toddler, was filled with laughable moments. From taking him to La Maison Angelina (a tea salon where we learned he is not a fan of hot chocolate) to watching him get on stage at a Marionette show, it was a memorable trip! I recall in particular being excited for him to ride on a vintage carousel at Luxembourg Gardens: Unfortunately, it was a bit of a fail (albeit a comically sad one). The vintage carousel has no standing place, as the horses move using suspension alone, and so children must ride unaccompanied. This mean that Hudson was too little to ride a horse and would only be allowed to sit in a carriage. Good thing, too, because it was so fast! As the horses whipped around, and children reached for rings, Hudson wailed and wailed and tried to break free of the ropes that tied him to his seat. With every turn, he’d see us and reach his arms out crying “off, off” making the tongue-click sound he used for horses’ hooves in between sobs.

It seemed to last forever. Finally, the ride slowed. I tried to play it cool, but I just wanted to go rescue him so badly. I started walking besie him but it wasn’t coming to a stop. Aron looked at me like I was crazy and started laughing as I found myself fast-walking beside the carriage for an entire revolution.

I immediately though about that book Bringing Up Bébéand the description of the cliché, hovering American parent who shouts “weeeee” like a food every time their child goes back and forth in a swing (guilty) and felt my cheeks grow flush.

Luckily, even the man with the rings took pity on Hudson and soon he took my place, walking beside the tear-streaked boy and trying to untie him before the ride had truly stopped. I practically ran once he was in my arms. I ran to the playground, which was closing, and pleaded with a slightly shocked gatekeeper for just one ride down the slide. What a ridiculous scene!

paris-with-kids

Thank you Ashley! Some more travel posts from Ashley that may interest you:

Gear to pack when traveling with a toddler.
Flying with a toddler or baby.
Trip planning – travel itineraries.

(Images via Hither & Thither)

Posted by Estella Editor in For Mom, Holidays & Special Occasions, Interviews & Guest Posts, Tips + Tricks, 0 comments

Tips + Tricks: Newborn Baby Essentials

Baby Clothes - Estella Knit Layette

Expecting a new addition to your family sometime soon and ready to start planning? Here are some of the baby essentials you’ll want to shop for at Estella and add to your baby registry. From must-have baby clothes that your newborn will be living in, to blankets and toys, be sure to stock up on the following:

1. One-Piece Rompers & Receiving Gowns: These are some of the most practical and versatile baby clothes for new parents. Snaps between the legs simplify diaper changes and a lap-neck or buttons down the front/back ensure that dressing your little one will be quick and seamless. Plus, the cozy silhouette and soft fabrics will keep baby comfortable and happy while lounging at home or as a first layer during winter. You’ll want to stock up on our Bamboo Layette or Nature Baby Collection for kimono-style one-pieces and long-sleeve rompers in classic colors and 100% organic fabrics. If you’re looking for something with more personality, check out Beau LOves and Bobo Choses. And for ultra-luxurious and sophisticated styles: Album di Famiglia or our Baby Knits Collection. Make sure to order a variety of different sizes!

2. Booties, Hats & Mittens: Accessories to keep little hands, heads, and feet warm. Cotton hats can be worn all year long, even in the summer, and these bamboo baby mittens prevent babies from unintentionally scratching themselves.

3. Baby BlanketsLotus Springs blankets are some of our most popular, and for good reasons: they are soft, eco-friendly, and machine-washable. These plush blankets will be a go-to for babies and parents alike, making them a practical and versatile choice. For a special, keepsake, check out our hand-knit alpaca blankets. These blankets are made in Bolivia by a Fair Trade manufacturer and sure to be treasured from infancy through adulthood.

4. Swaddles: The Aden and Anais Swaddles have a multitude of uses beyond simply keeping baby safe while sleeping, thanks to their generous size: they can double as a stroller or nursing cover, burp cloth, play blanket, and even a portable crib sheet. Plus, these pre-washed blankets are made from muslin, a breathable cotton fabric that allows baby’s body temperature to regulate itself naturally. Versatile and all-natural, these swaddles are the perfect multi-taskers for new parents.

5. For the nursery: The crib sheetsbumpers, and changing pad covers from Flink Living are made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton and available of classic prints and elegant colors that can be mixed and matched for a complete look. Sleep sacks from Aden and Anais keep baby comfortable, safe, and snug.

6. Baby Rattles: Engage all of baby’s senses with one of these designer newborn toys. Bold colors, soft cotton, and a charming sound will both entertain and delight your baby. Unlike other mass-produced plastic or wooden baby toys on the market, these rattles are safe and feel wonderful in little hands. Plus, the humorous shapes will amuse parents.

7. Keepsakes: Don’t we all have those special toys or accessories that have stayed with us since we were a newborn? Baby keepsakes will be treasured from day one all the way through adulthood. Whether it’s an engraved sterling silver rattle or accessory from Salisbury or Areaware, a hand-made Jess Brown doll, or piece of nursery decor from Boramiri, these toys and accessories are one-of-a-kind items that will remain with baby and become even more special as he or she grows up.

Estella Knit Layette - Baby HatsBaby Clothes - Estella Knits

Posted by Estella Editor in Baby & Kids' Toys, Baby Accessories & Toys, Baby Boys, Baby Clothes, Baby Girls, For Mom, Tips + Tricks, 0 comments

Tips + Tricks: Let’s talk about July 4th…

Fourth of July Pie

Independence day is this Friday! Here are some last minute, kid-friendly activities, recipes, & outfits from around the web if you’re looking for ideas… Let us know if you have anything to add!

What to do with kids if you’re staying in New York City.

A fun DIY: 4th of July sprinkle fireworks.

Baby & toddler clothes for the holiday.

A summer classic: Blueberry Pie (& S’mores, of course).

Plus, 101 picnic dishes that take 20 minutes or less.

Temporary tattoos for the kiddos.

4th of July-themed crafts and projects.

Happy celebrating!

July 4th Activities for Kids

Posted by Estella Editor in Holidays & Special Occasions, Tips + Tricks, 0 comments