Why Eating Together as a Family Post-Pandemic is an Important Ritual

Over the last year as we all spent more time at home, many families started to cook more. For some this was fun and enjoyable and for others it was a burden. Some families did more baking and some did more scratch cooking, and others just ate more simple convenience foods that could be bought at the store and made quickly at home. 

Now that more restaurants are open and family schedules and routines are shifting, many are wondering what their new family “normal” will be. Will families who had started to cook more continue to do so? Or will they take advantage of being able to eat out more? We believe that “eating together as a family” at home post pandemic is an important ritual and way to build healthy family habits around food. 

We do encourage families to get kids involved in the kitchen, but this practice should ideally make family life easier and not more difficult. Getting involved can teach kids good eating habits and self-regulation while also fighting disordered eating habits, anxiety, and even depression, particularly important right now.  

In Sugarproof, we give ideas for specific tasks that kids of various ages can help with in a way that actually lightens the work load of the adults in the house rather than creating additional mess. 

Here are a few examples by age:

  • Toddlers can help wash fruits and vegetables, spin salad dry, and pick things like herbs or cherry tomatoes off of stems.
  • Preschool aged children can cut soft things like melon or peppers, shell peas, husk corn, snap asparagus, help measure and mix recipes for baked goods, arrange fruits and vegetables onto plates/platters, and set the table.
  • Elementary school children can peel carrots, cut/prep a wider variety of raw vegetables or fruits, crack eggs, and learn to operate appliances like a food processor or blender (supervised).
  • Older children can find recipes in cookbooks or online and start preparing simple things for the family with some/little assistance.

Involving kids in meal planning, shopping, gardening (where possible), and simple food prep increases their level of connectedness and enthusiasm for eating family meals. And ultimately this can make meal-times much easier for parents and less of a struggle. Kids who feel proud of helping make family meals are more likely to eat them enthusiastically and less likely to complain or refuse healthy foods.

And for when families do choose to buy convenience options or eat at restaurants, we have suggestions in Sugarproof for how to navigate food labels and menus to make smart choices that are lower in sugar and more nutrient-rich overall.

recommended book

About the Authors

Dr. Michael Goran, Ph.D. and Dr. Emily Ventura, Ph.D. are co-authors of pioneering new book, SUGARPROOF: The Hidden Dangers of Sugar That Are Putting Your Child’s Health at Risk and What You Can Do (Avery/Penguin Random House).  

Dr. Michael Goran, Ph.D. is a professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Scientific Advisor for popular brand, Yumi Baby Food. Dr. Emily Ventura is an expert in nutrition education and recipe development. 

Sugarproof busts myths about the various types of sugars and sweeteners, helps families identify sneaky sources of sugar in their diets, and suggests realistic, family-based solutions to reduce sugar consumption and protect kids. To purchase the book or for more information, visit

Children's Books

Imaginative Play Teaches Kids to Think Outside the Box

Imaginative Play Teaches Kids to Think Outside the Box

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou

In the picture book, Nutshell Regatta, a young girl and her beloved grandmother spend an afternoon exploring a pond and the many creatures and plants living in and around the water. Through their interaction, and using imaginative play, their experience transcends what most people might see when looking at a similar landscape. The animals take on unique roles, the plants play their special parts and the little girl and her grandmother transport themselves to a whole other world whereby they share a unique adventure and create their own story. This is imaginative play.

When we engage in imaginative play, we engage all of our senses. Observing a scene is very one-dimensional. Creating the scene, however, is multi-dimensional. All creative people and great problem solvers use imaginative play. At its core, imaginative play, is “thinking outside the box”. 

There are those who might worry they are not creative or don’t know how to start. The great thing about imaginative play is there is no wrong way to do it! Start with a simple plan. Next time you take a walk with a child, try to engage with your surroundings. 

  • Collect pebbles or leaves. Think about how you could arrange them in a vase or picture frame. 
  • Take a walk with a child in silence. When you get back home, take turns sharing what you saw, smelled, heard and felt.

The fun part is there is no wrong way to do this. Creativity really has no boundaries- you just need to start. In keeping with that vein, let children color outside the lines. Encourage creativity and story-telling. Keep as many supplies around as you can manage including empty boxes, old fabric, old costumes, catalogs, crayons, pencils, paint. All of these types of items are a treasure trove for imaginative play. And remember, it’s the process of imaginative play that’s important rather than what is created! 

Ideas For Imaginative Play:

  • Have one person start a story. Then, each family member or friend adds the next sentence or two. Round and round the story goes, often ending up in very unexpected places. This is a great boost for memory skills, and a source of delightful silliness for everyone!
  • Take out any board game. Collectively reinvent the rules. An example of this activity: a word tile game, like Scrabble, could expand to accept made-up words as a long as a pronunciation and a definition is given and the word is used in a sentence.
  • In this variation of charades, take out a stack of blank index cards. Each person draws or writes out instructions for whoever pulls one of their cards from a stack.
  • Create an entire new and zany rule book for a familiar game – this works well with strategy board games.
  • Flip the script. Rewrite or retell the endings of favorite shows or movies. To be able to deconstruct and reconstruct a familiar storyline is a prime example of imagination meets critical thinking skills.

The most important rule of imaginative play is …. There really are no RULES!

About the Author:

Nutshell Regatta in many ways is an homage to author Jonna Laster’s grandmother. The person that championed and introduced her to imaginative play. One of her favorite memories of imaginative play involves her visits to their home. “My grandmother would turn on any random soap opera and then turn the volume off. We would then make up the story for the actors. I would play dramatic chords on an electric piano and we would make up the dialogue for all the actors… we would create a lot of drama, it was so much fun. And also such a great learning exercise. “ Nutshell Regatta is Jonna’s first children’s book.

Infant Toddler Products

The Guide To Buying Baby Clothes As A First Time Mom

Buying Baby Clothes
The Guide To Buying Baby Clothes As A First Time Mom

Clothes are an essential part of a baby’s life. Some are meant for warmth, while others have other functions, such as helping put the diaper in place. Without proper research, first-time moms can get confused with all the baby clothes in the market. 

Buying baby clothes as a first-time mom is like going to another planet. There is a whole set of new names and things that you do not recognize. When you think about it, this can be stressful. But there is no need to fear. This article will guide you on what you need to know before shopping for your little champ. 

What If You Are On A Budget?

Honestly, most people are on a budget. Babies need more than just clothes that can cost you a pretty penny, but they are worth it? The good thing is that you can still buy good clothes even when you are on a budget. Whether you prefer online shopping from brands like Turtledove baby clothes or physical shopping, it is vital to know some great money-saving tips. Some of your clothes should be gender-neutral in case you get another child. Another counterintuitive way of saving is buying high-quality, pricier clothes to ensure the clothes are still intact for a future child.

What If You Still Do Not Know The Gender Of Your Unborn Baby?

Some people do not want to know the sex of their baby until they are born. If you are like this, it is okay. However, it would be best if you still came prepared with clothes to the hospital. At least have clothes that will last your baby for the next one month. But how do you make the best choice when buying baby clothes? Luckily, there are a lot of unisex baby clothes in the market. Another thing to remember is that not every boy wears blue, and not every girl is a pink girl. You can choose any color you want for your child. 

Baby Clothes In The Market

As a new mom, it’s not a surprise when you get too excited and end up buying too many clothes that the baby won’t wear. One reason is they might be for the wrong season. Secondly, you might choose too many garments of the same type. 

It is essential to know every kind of baby clothes by learning their names and the amount needed. Do not get worried because the terminology is straightforward, and you will get used to it. Here are some of the baby clothes in the market;

The Basic Baby Clothes You Need

  • snap-crotch bodysuits/onesies(7 or more)
  • side-snap shirts and/or T-shirts(3-4)
  • snap-up rompers (7 or more)
  • pajamas or sleeping gowns(7 pairs)
  • shirt-and-pant sets (several)
  • Sun hat
  • Socks or booties(6 pairs)
  • Baby hangers
  • Snowsuit or bunting during the cold seasons
  • Cardigan sweater
  • Cold-weather hat


  • Diapers cover(several)
  • Special outfit(1 or more)
  • Sleepsack

Number OF Baby Clothes To Buy

The numbers given above are a rough estimate of what you will need. However, it would help if you put into consideration several factors such as;

Baby Clothes Needed In Each Size

Babies grow very fast. By the time you blink once or twice, they have already outgrown those cute pajamas. Ensure that in the first three months, you can buy clothes with sizes 12 to 13 lbs. For tiny newborns, an 8 lbs size cloth will fit your baby perfectly. 

With this guide, you can go into the baby clothes world and buy clothes for your little angel. Now that you know different terminologies, you will not seem like a newbie at this. However, there is no shame in asking what you do not understand.


The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Live-In Nanny — Is It Worth It?

An astounding 69% of parents say that good babysitters are hard to find. However, for some families, hiring a live-in nanny can present a constant and worthy option without having to continually search for a babysitter — though the notion doesn’t come without a few drawbacks. From the convenience and flexibility that a live-in nanny can offer to the negatives worth considering and the importance of keeping your childcare goals in mind along the way, here’s what you need to know.

The undeniable benefits involved

For families looking to hire a live-in nanny, there are a myriad of benefits to be aware of. For starters, a live-in nanny can present a convenient and trusted caretaker for parents who have varying and/or busy schedules. Not only that, but a live-in nanny will also allow for your child to have a familiar face looking after them, which will allow for them to bond with and become a part of the family since a live-in nanny will be committed to working for your family. With a singular nanny looking after your child as opposed to a rotating schedule of babysitters, you can rest assured that your child will get individualized attention while under their care. In turn, this will allow you to have more parental control over things like activities, diet, and overall schedules.

Potential downfalls to consider

While live-in nannies can be a fantastic option for many families, there are some potential downfalls to take into consideration before actually hiring someone. In addition to the cost, another thing to consider is the fact that you’ll be sharing a home with the nanny, which will likely require setting boundaries early on in terms of when the nanny can have time off, what rooms are off limits, etc. in order to prevent any conflict later on. However, there are additional things to consider should you go another route.

If you’ve been looking for the perfect live-in nanny and can’t seem to find one to meet your needs, looking outside the United States is a great solution in broadening your choices. However, while a nanny from another country can be great for introducing your child to a new culture and even in learning a new language, obtaining a work visa for nanny may be required, with one way being to sponsor them for an H-2B nonimmigrant visa, which will allow the nanny to work in your home for a specific period of time. However, while this can be seen as a downfall due to the paperwork involved (such as applying for temporary labor certification, etc.), the end result will allow you to have a nanny that fits your childcare needs perfectly.

Considering your childcare needs and goals

When deciding whether or not hiring a live-in nanny is right for your family, keeping your childcare needs and goals at the forefront of your mind is imperative in making the right choice. For example, if your child needs more individualized attention, or your schedule requires great flexibility in terms of childcare due to a busy work schedule, a live-in nanny could certainly be the right fit, and can allow you to cater to additional goals such as helping your child learn a new language should you sponsor someone from another country. However, if you’re reluctant to share your home with your nanny or don’t need childcare as frequently, perhaps a babysitter would present a better, more cost-effective option.

Should you not mind sharing your home, a live-in nanny can present a wonderful childcare solution for your family, especially if you have a hectic schedule and would like your child to receive more individualized attention. However, this might not be for everyone, as visa considerations and sharing your home can be potential downfalls.