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Your toddler needs about 1,000 calories a day to meet his needs for growth, energy, and good nutrition. If you’ve ever been on a 1,000-calorie diet, you know it’s not a lot of food. But your child will do just fine with it, divided among three small meals and two snacks a day. Don’t count on his always eating it that way, however, because the eating habits of toddlers are erratic and unpredictable from one day to the next. He may eat everything in sight at breakfast but almost nothing else for the rest of the day. Or he may eat only his favorite food for three days in a row, and then reject it entirely. Or he may eat 1,000 calories one day, but then eat noticeably more or less on the subsequent day or two. Your child’s needs will vary, depending on his activity level, his growth rate, and his metabolism. As a general rule, it’s a real mistake to turn mealtimes into sparring matches to get him to eat a balanced diet. He’s not rejecting you when he turns down the food you prepared, so don’t take it personally. Besides, the harder you push him to eat, the less likely he is to comply. Instead, offer him a selection of nutritious foods at each sitting, and let him choose what he wants. Vary the tastes and consistencies as much as you can. Your toddler needs foods from the same four basic nutrition groups that you do:

1.Meat, fish, poultry, eggs

2.Dairy products

3.Fruits and vegetables

4.Cereal grains, potatoes, rice, breads, pasta

When planning your child’s menu, remember that cholesterol and other fats are very important for his normal growth and development, so they should not be restricted during this period. Babies and young toddlers should get about half of their calories from fat. You can gradually decrease the fat consumption once your child has reached the age of two (lowering it to about one-third of daily calories by ages four to five). While you should not lose sight of the fact that childhood obesity is a growing problem, youngsters in the second year of life need dietary fat. If you keep your child’s caloric intake at about 1,000 calories a day, you shouldn’t have to worry about overfeeding him and putting him at risk of gaining too much weight. More information: Click here

Nutrition: Your two year old

By age two, your toddler should be eating three healthy meals a day, plus one or two snacks. He can eat the same food as the rest of the family. With his improved language and social skills, he’ll become an active participant at mealtimes if given the chance to eat with everyone else. Do not fixate on amounts and do not make mealtimes a battle. Do, however, pay attention to adopting healthy eating habits and making healthy food choices as a family. Sitting as a family at mealtime is the beginning of a good habit, too! Fortunately, your child’s feeding skills have become relatively “civilized” by now. At age two, he can use a spoon, drink from a cup with just one hand, and feed himself a wide variety of finger foods. But while he can eat properly, he’s still learning to chew and swallow efficiently, and may gulp his food when he’s in a hurry to get on with playing. For that reason, the risk of choking is high, so avoid the following foods, which could be swallowed whole and block the windpipe.

•hot dogs (unless sliced lengthwise, then across)

•whole raw carrots

•spoonful’s of peanut butter

•nuts (especially peanuts)

•raw cherries with pits

•round, hard candies or gum

•raw celery

•whole grapes


Many toddlers resist eating certain foods, or for long periods insist on eating only one or two favorite foods. The more you struggle with your child over his eating preferences, the more determined he’ll be to defy you. As we suggested earlier, if you offer him a variety of foods and leave the choices to him, he’ll eventually consume a balanced diet on his own. He may be more interested in healthful foods if he can feed them to himself. So, whenever possible, offer him finger foods (i.e., fresh fruits or raw vegetables other than carrots and celery) instead of cooked ones that require a fork or spoon to eat. Click here for more information

Reading To Your Toddler

Reasons to Read to Toddlers

Studies show that kids with active exposure to language have social and educational advantages over their peers — and reading is one of the best exposures to language. Reading to toddlers sets the foundation for later independent reading. Reading problems can be challenging to fix when discovered in elementary school, but most reading problems can be prevented if exposure to reading starts in the toddler and preschool years. Before children can read independently, they need emergent literacy skills. These include:

•having a large vocabulary of words and knowing how to use them

•understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds (called phonemic awareness)

•understanding that marks on a page represent letters and words

•knowing the letters of the alphabet

You don’t need games, flashcards, or special instruction for a toddler gain these skills. Just reading to your child as often as possible is the best way to help him or her learn to read independently.


Don’t expect your toddler to sit still for a book – Toddlers need to move, so don’t worry if they act out stories or just skip, romp, or tumble as you read to them. They may be moving, but they are listening.

Recite rhymes, sing songs, and make mistakes! – Pause to let your toddler finish a phrase or chant a refrain. Once your toddler is familiar with the rhyme or pattern, make mistakes on purpose and get caught.

Choose engaging books- Books featuring animals or machines invite movement and making sounds. Books with flaps or different textures to touch keep hands busy. Books with detailed illustrations or recurring items hidden in the pictures are great for exploring and discussing.

Keep reading short, simple, and often- Toddlers frequently have shorter attention spans than babies. Look for text that is short and simple. Read a little bit, several times a day.

Play to their favorites- Read favorite stories again and again. Seek out books about things your toddler especially likes — trains, animals, the moon. These books may extend a toddler’s attention span and build enthusiasm for reading. Click here for more information

Screen Time

Between cartoons, games, and silly photos and videos, your child might be exposed to more media than you even realize. And while the research isn’t clear yet, many experts have concerns. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long had strict guidelines that recommend zero screen time for kids under the age of 2. The guidelines haven’t officially changed, but in October 2015, the group softened its stance, encouraging parents to keep screen time to a minimum, choose quality content, and focus on interacting and learning. Little to no screen time sounds like a good goal, but many parents have a tough time sticking to it. Here are some of the top concerns parents might want to keep in mind.

•Language development: One of the biggest worries is how screen time can hurt language acquisition. One study showed that the more hours of television children under the age of 4 watch, the fewer words they learn. Babies and toddlers learn to speak by interacting with parents and caregivers, picking up on sounds, words, body language, and eye contact. Your child also needs quiet time to sit and babble and experiment with her voice.

•Social and emotional development: Babies learn how to socialize by connecting face to face with their parents. A study published in the journal Child Development found that when the TV was on, parents were less likely to interact with their kids. A study in Pediatrics revealed that when babies and toddlers watch TV at such a young age, they may also have a tougher time managing their emotions and comforting themselves when they’re older. And yet another study of families eating in fast food restaurants revealed that the more a parent was absorbed in her mobile device, the less she engaged with her children.

•Behavior issues: Another concern is that too much screen time might lead to shorter attention spans. Researchers at a children’s hospital in Seattle discovered that the more TV kids watched between the ages of 1 to 3, the more problems they had focusing at age 7.

•Weight issues: Many reports have drawn a connection between too much screen time and obesity, especially in older children. One big survey looked at kids as young as age 2 and saw the same trend. For kids of all ages, it’s important to keep moving, which boosts physical development and encourages healthy habits.

•Sleep issues: A study in Pediatrics found an association between TV and irregular sleep schedules for children under the age of 3. This is especially troubling considering that babies need 14 to 16 hours of sleep a day to thrive, and toddlers need about 13 hours. The AAP warns against keeping screens in kids’ bedrooms as they get older, reporting that even small screens like phones and tablets have been linked to poor sleep quality. One reason may be that the light emitted by screens delays melatonin release and actually makes it harder to fall asleep.

More information: Click here

Activities with your Toddler/Preschool- Aged

Toddler Toddler is a website where you can find ways to have fun with your toddlers and teach your kids at the same time! Try some GAMES, or ACTIVITIES, or ARTS and CRAFTS, or just some things to do with your toddler on a rainy day! To find the activities, go to: Click here

Arrange a Scavenger Hunt

Children are natural investigators and they love to explore. Scavenger hunts can be created beforehand or invented on the spot. At the supermarket, search for foods that are one specific color (like purple) or look for objects of one shape (like a circle) around the house. If your child needs assistance, gather three objects for her to choose from while asking, “Which object is red? Which object is a circle?” Expand on the Label Your Household activity by arranging a scavenger hunt for different labeled items, or ask her to search the bookshelves for a specific letter, word, or number. You can also pretend you can’t find the orange juice carton or a pair of socks. Send your child on a fun mission to locate the items in the house.

Sing Vocabulary Words

Develop this skill by creating funny tunes about rhyming words and counting to ten, or sing easy, classic songs such as the Alphabet Song and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” “During the pre-reader years, children learn an average of nine new words a day,” says children’s book author Eugie Foster in iYour Child’s Writing Life/i by Pam Allyn. “Parents have a better chance of making this happen if they create worlds for kids that are like dream catchers’ nets, capturing beautiful words and the sounds of them,” says Allyn, who is also the Executive Director and founder of LitWorld.

Pin Up Pictures

Keep pictures of friends and family on a bulletin board in your child’s room to develop word association and improve memory. Write people’s names on sticky notes (include titles such as “aunt,” “uncle,” and “cousin”) and put them at the bottom of each photo. Refer to the words often, especially at a family gathering. Remove the sticky notes from the pictures as your child becomes more familiar with everyone. Also, read books about brothers and sisters or aunt and uncles, and ask your child to identify each family member mentioned. As your child grows, extend the activity by creating a family tree with names and pictures. Make this an ever-changing piece of artwork in your home.

Set Up a Weather Windows Wall

Your tot can become a junior meteorologist by creating a weather window. Take a piece of blank white paper (8″ x 11″) and have your child draw a picture of the day’s weather by using any art medium (crayons, markers, watercolors). Then cut three long strips (11″ x 1″) from brown construction paper and three short strips (8″ x1″) to represent a window frame and panes.Help your child glue two long and two short pieces around the paper edges to create borders of a window. The last two strips (one long and one short) should be placed in a cross shape and glued in the middle of the paper to create a four-pane window. Add a word to the window frame that describes the weather (cold, snowy, sunny) and a date to compare the weather patterns over time. Choose a “weather corner” to hang the “windows” and change them every month!

For more activities, Click here

Sleep Needs

From ages 1 to 3, most toddlers sleep about 12 to 14 hours over a 24-hour period. Separation anxiety, or just wanting to be up with mom and dad (and not miss anything), can motivate a child to stay awake. So can the simple toddler style of always saying “No!” It’s important to set regular bedtimes and naptimes, and to stick to them. Parents sometimes make the mistake of thinking that keeping kids up will make them sleepier at bedtime. But the truth is that kids can have a harder time sleeping if they’re overtired. Though most toddlers take 1- to 3-hour naps during the day, you don’t have to force your child to nap. But it’s important to schedule some quiet time, even if your toddler chooses not to sleep. Establish a bedtime routine to help kids relax and get ready for sleep. For a toddler, the routine might be 5-30 minutes long and include calming activities such as reading a story, bathing, and listening to soft music. Whatever the nightly ritual is, your toddler will probably insist that it be the same every night. Just don’t allow rituals to become too long or complicated. Whenever possible, let your toddler make bedtime choices within the routine: which pajamas to wear, which stuffed animal to take to bed, what music to play. This gives your little one a sense of control. Even the best sleepers give parents an occasional wake-up call. Teething can awaken a toddler and so can dreams. Active dreaming begins at this age, and for very young children dreams can be pretty alarming. Nightmares are particularly frightening to a toddler, who can’t distinguish imagination from reality. (So carefully select what TV programs, if any, your toddler sees before bedtime.) Comfort and hold your child at these times. Let your toddler talk about the dream if he or she wants to, and stay until your child is calm. Then encourage your child to go back to sleep as soon as possible. Click here

Dental Care

Toddler Dental Care Basics — Toothbrushing

Brush twice a day. Baby teeth are vulnerable to decay as soon as they break through the gums. The best line of defense? Brushing regularly — and optimally, for two minutes at a time — in the morning after breakfast and in the evening after bedtime snack. Be prepared to be the brusher-in-chief — your toddler won’t have the motor skills to go solo until he’s between five to seven. But capitalize on his growing independent streak by making him your dental deputy. Then teach your toddler to brush, and try toothbrushing games to make cleaning teeth a whole lot more fun. Does two minutes seem like forever to your wee wiggler? Sing a song, tell a story, or ask a nightly riddle as you brush — anything to distract and make the time pass more quickly. Or buy a toothbrush that lights up, plays music, or makes a noise after the job’s done. Whatever type of toothbrush you use, replace it every three to four months. Get the right toothpaste and mouthwash. Stick to water only or fluoride-free training toothpaste until your child can be trusted not to swallow it. After that, he can start using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. When he’s around two, you can show him how to rinse post-brushing, and he’ll probably be a fast — and most enthusiastic — student when it comes to spitting. You can also use a fluoride-free mouthwash if the dentist or pediatrician gives you the go-ahead. Get the right technique. You want to teach good toddler tooth care habits, so give him lots of chances to pick up the best technique. Stand your child on a step stool in front of you. Face a mirror and brush his teeth with your hand over his hand. This way, he can watch you and learn how to brush more easily. Work on one tooth at a time, and use a gentle back-and-forth motion across the chewing and inner surfaces, then switch to a circular motion along the sides, holding the brush at a 45-degree angle. On areas that don’t have teeth yet, lightly brush the gums, and don’t forget the tongue — a popular hangout for bacteria.

Toddler Dental Care Basics — Flossing

As soon as two teeth grow in side by side, you and your tot can go on a plaque hunt with some trusty floss as your weapon — he’ll love pulling it out of the little box and cutting the string, too. Choose your floss. You can use your regular (or flavored) floss on your toddler’s teeth or try one of those handheld plastic flossers shaped like a dino or other kid-friendly character. Teach the technique. For early flossing sessions, sit your toddler on your lap, facing you. Floss his teeth as you would your own, using your index fingers and thumbs to guide floss gently in between the teeth. Slide the floss up and down against the tooth surface and (carefully) under the gum line, flossing each tooth with a clean section. You probably won’t be able to get to all those teeth — it’s the rare tot who can last through a flossing session without fidgeting — and that’s just fine. Focus on the molars first (if there are any) and work your way from the back of his mouth to the front. You can even let him have a go at it. Although your toddler may lack the finesse to floss efficiently (which he probably will — it’s hard work for those little fingers), he’ll be getting into the habit, and when it comes to toddler dental care, that’s the most important thing of all.
Click here for more information

Child & Teen Check-ups

C&TC health checks are a benefit for children and teens, birth to 21 years of age, who are enrolled in Medical Assistance. Children and teens enrolled in a health plan must get C&TC services from that plan. Regular health checkups are important to stay in good health. C&TC health checks help find and treat problems early. For more information on how to enroll, contact Morrison County Social Services at 320-632-2951 and ask for a financial intake worker.

Where do I get Child and Teen Checkups?

•Your doctor or clinic

•Call your own family doctor for an appointment. Be sure to ask for a child and teen checkup specifically.
Click here

Preschool Sleep Needs

Preschoolers sleep about 11 to 12 hours per night. Those who get enough rest at night may no longer need a daytime nap. Instead, they may benefit from some quiet time in the afternoon. Most nursery schools and kindergartens have quiet periods when the kids lie on mats or just rest. As kids give up their naps, they may go to bed at night earlier than they did as toddlers.

Preschoolers may have nightmares or night terrors, and there may be many nights when they have trouble falling asleep. Create a “nighttime kit” to keep near your child’s bed for these times. The kit might include a flashlight, a favorite book, and a cassette or CD to play. Explain the kit, then put it in a special place where your child can get to it in the middle of the night. Favorite objects like stuffed animals and blankets also can help kids feel safe. If your child doesn’t have a favorite, go shopping together to pick out a warm, soft blanket or stuffed animal.
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Early Childhood Screening

Screening is a brief, simple procedure used to identify potential health or developmental problems in infants and young children who may need a health assessment, diagnostic assessment or educational evaluation. Screening in early childhood supports children’s readiness for kindergarten and promotes positive child health and developmental outcomes.

Early Childhood Screening or evidence of a comparable screening by non-school provider (e.g., Head Start, Child & Teen Checkups/EPSDT or health care provider) is required for entrance in Minnesota’s public schools or within 30 days of enrollment into kindergarten. Early Childhood Screening is offered throughout the year by local districts.
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What: Parent Support Group
Location: First Lutheran Church Little Falls, MN
Contact Tami Naslund for dates: 320-360-9870

If interested there is a FREE meal through the Oasis Share A Meal which is offered at 6:00 p.m. at the First Lutheran Church.

Cost: FREE

Childcare is provided.

Registration is required for both childcare and attendance. Please call Tami at 320.360.9870 to register.


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