First Birthday Smash Cake Ideas

Disclaimer: All smash cake images shown were courtesy of a smash cake photo shoot with Jessica Vaughn. Jessica is a local Houston area wife and mom of two boys, ages 2 and 1. Jessica has a growing photography business that offers all inclusive photo packages with 30+ photos promised from each session (included in the session fee)! You can follow her on Instagram at @vaughnboysmom or visit her website here to see some of her work. She is offering $25 discount for anyone using “OwenTurnsOne” when booking!

From my child’s first birthday to someday their last, I want them to freely enjoy every bit of it. Their first birthday smash cake is no exception.

My choice in what to offer my own children for their first birthdays was a personal decision. While not much of a baker (nor a great one at that!), I still wanted to bake a cake for each of my children’s first birthdays from scratch. This was part of the party that I felt was “my thing,” but it is okay if it isn’t, wasn’t, or never will be your thing. Do your thing. You are your baby’s biggest fan and no one knows how to celebrate them better than you do. There is no shame in any birthday cake you have offered or may choose to offer in the future.

The purpose of this post is to reiterate how food is about more than just the nutritional value it offers (or doesn’t). Food has a way of creating special moments and fond memories, passing down family traditions, and being used in celebration, including as early on as a baby’s first birthday. It also makes for some adorable pictures of kids eating that kills me every time, including here my birthday boy covered in his smash cake.


This said, what I have chosen historically is not necessarily my overarching, best practice advice professionally nor is it what I am suggesting you should do when deciding on your baby’s first birthday cake. Instead, I felt it was about time that I had a small space on my site to house healthy first birthday smash cake ideas for those interested in low-sugar alternatives to traditional birthday cakes for a baby’s first (or second, or third!) birthday! So here it is...


What is a smash cake?

A smash cake is the term used to describe the small cake a baby is given, usually on their first birthday. Made up of anything from a store-bought cake with frosting that looks like Cookie Monster to stacked pancakes layered with an alternative to icing, smash cakes are a baby-sized birthday cake exclusively for eating without the formality of a plate and fork.

Why is it called a smash cake?

Smash cakes get their name as a birthday cake that babies are given to smash with their hands, fists, and sometimes feet, as part of the celebration for their first birthday party. Due to how messy this can get, smash cake photo sessions are now commonly being done separately from a baby’s first birthday party in order to capture the cuteness and contain the clean up!

All smash cake images shown were courtesy of a smash cake photo shoot with Jessica Vaughn.


Does my baby even eat the smash cake?

Many babies do not, especially if it a cake and/or frosting combo is unfamiliar to them. Thick, extra sweet frostings can turn some babies away from the birthday cakes quickly, meaning that even if/when you offer a smash cake with added sugar, the amount they actually consume is very little.

Can my baby have cake for her first birthday?

Babies can eat cake on their first birthday. Both physically with the feeding skills intact and from a nutritional perspective, most babies bodies are physically able to consume cake on their first birthday without it being a big issue. Infants are exposed to naturally sweet tastes both in utero through amniotic fluid and during their first year of life through breast milk and/or formula. So although we do want to try to limit a toddler’s overall added sugar intake as much as we are able, a single exposure to added sugar at a first birthday, even with the sweetest options of smash cakes, is not going to derail your child’s nutritional future. That is an important point to remember both now and in the coming year(s) as your child is exposed to more and more sugar in the world around them.

While we want to raise children who eat healthfully, we also need to prioritize our children experiencing food freedom and understanding how to embody a level of eating competence that allows them to confidently enjoy all foods (including birthday cake) if they so choose. While a traditional, sugary first birthday smash cake is not necessary nor negligent towards training your child in this important life skill, I encourage all parents to begin evaluating how they can better establish an all foods fit mindset while their child is still an infant or young toddler. This potential mindset shift in parents helps to set the stage early on with their child(ren) for ongoing feeding success, intuitive eating, and overall body positivity with each passing birthday!


Healthy Smash Cakes

“Is it even a cake then?” a friend asked when she suspected that I might be offering my son a healthy smash cake for his first birthday. To me, yes - it is. A cake does not require any specific ingredients to have the celebratory look or feel of a “true” first birthday cake.

However, as a baby, I know what foods, flavors, and foods my child favors (hence the strategically placed blueberries on top of my son’s cake, as shown). Something super sweet and unfamiliar in texture like a thick frosting may not engage them to “smash” let alone enjoy the taste of a baby’s first birthday cakes at all. That’s one of the reasons why I opted to make an alternative birthday cake with no-added-sugar for each of my baby’s first birthdays. During the early years of their development, this was still “the real thing” to them and didn’t leave them “missing” anything from it.

So although I decided to forgo turning these lentil banana muffins into a healthy smash cake for his first birthday (solely based on the principle of lentils being in his cake!), I searched for other recipes that aligned with what I wanted in a healthy smash cake and good, wholesome fun on his first birthday.


First Birthday Smash Cake Ideas

Here are a few of my favorites first birthday smash cake ideas from ones I have made for each of my kid’s first birthdays:

The Best Healthy Smash Cake For Baby’s First Birthday

I made this first birthday cake for my oldest daughter’s first birthday. I used whipped cream instead of the frosting option included in the recipe and used sprinkles. I was VERY first-time mom and went all out on her first birthday party, so homemaking a cake was something I wanted to do. We made it into an ice cream parlor theme party, so she had other exposure to sugar at her party since we offered an ice cream sundae bar. Majority of the guests were adult friends or infants (who didn’t yet eat), so we didn’t make extra of her smash cake for guests.

Baby’s First Birthday Cake

I made this smash cake for my second daughter’s birthday plus cupcakes of it on the side for guests who wanted an option without added sugar. By this party, we had significantly more guests with young children come to the party so we offered traditional cupcakes and other sweets options for desserts, as well as this for a low-sugar alternative.

First Birthday Smash Cake

This is the one we made for my son this year. I used Just Date Syrup instead of maple syrup in the cake itself and then topped with a fluffy, whipped cream frosting similar to the one in the recipe above (basically whip the whipping cream and add maybe 1 Tablespoon total of an added sweetener of choice). Not that it was any less messy for photos, but I liked that being one consistent element between my kid’s first birthday cakes. We held a small party with extended family only this year, so I made two smash cakes: one for his photo shoot and another kept in the fridge (without whip) until his party two days later. We also offered traditional chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting on them for everyone at the party.


Celebrating the first year of life with a little one is so sweet. I hope whether you add sugar to their smash cake or not, you don’t stress over their first birthday. You are an amazing parent and you did an amazing thing raising a tiny human for one whole year! Fork-cheers-full-of-cake to you, friend!

Kid-Friendly Food at Trader Joe's

This week, I am excited to feature a fellow foodie friend of mine, Ashlee Rowland. She has generously written the following post for us on kid-friendly foods at Trader Joe’s. She also created an easy shopping list for you to use when at Trader Joe’s to help you avoid some of the impulse buys and instead, optimize what is in your cart with some of her top picks! I know you will enjoy the simple yet smart ideas Ashlee shares, especially as we get into the Back to School season and need nourishing ideas on hand.

Ashlee simplholistic.png

Ashlee is from Alaska and is a sustainability and wellness travel blogger. She is a Holistic Nutritionist and dedicates her time to simplifying wellness, even on the go. You’ll find her traveling the world in her sprinter van with her husband and rescue pup, Gilligan! Be sure to go say hello — @simplholistic!

This downloadable guide to kid friendly food at Trader Joe's is perfect for this week’s shopping trip. Best of all, it has a lunchbox approved section that makes packing lunches for school and field trips effortless. 

Kid-Friendly Finds at Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s is packed with snacks, meals, produce and cultural finds. While I love TJs, not everything is healthy there... actually, a lot isn’t healthy. So, I created this guide to show you my well vetted favorites from TJs. Everything in this guide and blog post is gluten-free, soy-free and refined sugar-free. You’ll learn about actually healthy finds you can feed yourself and family with confidence.

What to look for

  • Organic

  • Grass-fed

  • Pasture raised

  • Pesticide-free

  • No color added

  • No flavor added

  • Whole food ingredients

What to avoid/limit

  • Refined sugar

  • Artificial sugar

  • Sugar alcohol (erythritol, maltitol, etc)

  • Maltodextrin

  • Caramel color

  • Artificial flavors/colors

  • soy/corn/canola oil

  • Conventional animal products 

A rule of thumb

Most of the time when you’re in Trader Joes, the premade meals are likely to be filled with added ingredients; most of which you’re better off avoiding or limiting. There are - of course - exceptions to this like a few of their TJs dressings, dips, bars and coconut milk. I will talk more about this below. The biggest thing you can do is read read read labels. Don’t go by “natural” or “healthy” labels on the front, they aren’t regulated terms and do not mean as much as they are marketed to. 

I like to look for simple ingredients so, if I am buying chicken I look for: organic chicken, sea salt and seasonings. Rather than this: chicken, maltodextrin, soybean oil, corn starch, seasoning, canola oil. Choose whole foods over packaged foods and you’ll be one step ahead, always.


Kid friendly food at Trader Joe's

Now, I get it, your kids may want the sweet treats, chocolate ice cream and bread, but you can choose to offer those less often, opt for healthier alternatives, or make these items at home with them. If you have the time to make bread, you can buy almond flour, coconut flour, eggs, baking soda and oil from Trader Joe’s. Maybe they want candy? Buy cacao powder, coconut oil, cashew butter and maple syrup and before you know it you’ll have healthy chocolate cups they helped make! Plus, they are both school lunchbox friendly. Just swap the nut butter for sunbutter if you school doesn’t allow nuts!

In a perfect world, you would have all the time in the world to make bread and chocolate cups but this is real life! Trader Joe’s luckily has healthier options for some of the items I listed above. For instance, you can buy their sourdough bread if you don’t have the time to scratch make it at home. Their freezer section is filled with fruits, vegetables, fish and premade meals that *can* be nourishing. You want to look for healthier items like Cauliflower Crust, Cauliflower Gnocchi, Organic Vegetable Foursome with New York Steak or the Organic Superfood Pilaf. Refer to the list above for ingredients I personally avoid.

Products I love (in the guide) with pictures

  • Organic ketchup

  • Plantain chips

  • Organic oats 

  • Organic Valencia Peanut Butter

  • Grass fed Collagen

  • Organic raw almonds (heavily sprayed food)

  • Coconut aminos

  • Coconut milk (one of the few brands without gums!)

  • Organic tahini

  • Organic chicken

  • Organic applesauce


Here are a few of my favorite recipes I’ve made with 100% of the ingredients from Trader Joe’s, woo hoo for only one shopping trip!

Almond Butter Energy Balls

Overnight Oats

Whole Foods Frittata


To get your hands on tried & true Trader Joe's products that kids can't get enough of, download the free grocery list. Perfect for school lunches, after school meals and field trips, this list will help give you simple ideas to get started with from Trader Joe’s. Plus, they're all gluten-free and simple to prepare at home!

My Favorite School Lunch Supplies

The very first posts that I shared on my Instagram account were those of my oldest's lunchbox when she started Moms Day Out in the Fall of 2015. At that point, I was a young mom, feeding my first kid, and still very much figuring out the ins and outs of not only packed lunches but also feeding an apprehensive eater.

Since then, I have packed thousands of lunches and learned a lot along the way. I have found products I loved, realized which ones are unnecessary and which are essential, and come up with an arsenal of the best lunch packing supplies.

So if you are doing some back to school shopping for items to use in your child's school lunch, check out my recommendations below. You'll quickly see which are essential, as well as get a bit more insight on the extra special product additions we enjoy.

The Best Back to School Lunch Packing Supplies


The Best Back to School Lunch Packing Supplies for Kids

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the following lunch packing supplies include affiliate links. These do not cost you more money, but help Veggies & Virtue continue to grow and offer you fun free resources like this post. For more on my disclosure policy, please visit my legal page here. Additionally, although I have purchased many of the below products myself, my family has also been gifted several of the following bento boxes as part of the work I do on behalf of Veggies & Virtue. As always, all opinions are my own.

Lunch Boxes and Bento Boxes

To pack a lunchbox, you don't actually have to have a bento box or lunch box (although I highly encourage that you do). While other approaches to packing lunches have worked for generations, I have to say I am 110% on the bento box band wagon.

Bento box systems or compartmentalized tupperware containers are seriously sanity savers. Instead of opening up, filling, and sealing several little containers or bags for your child EVERY DAY, bento-like systems allow you to pack lunches in one single container and call it lunch. Not only does this minimize waste, but it gives you an obvious platform to pack a lunch from.

Newer to the market are stainless steel lunchboxes. Many families are choosing to invest in lunch packing solutions like these that have no or less plastic. I have shared a variety of options from those that are entirely plastic to those that are made entirely of stainless steel. This is a personal decision which you choose to use, and I hope the pros/cons outlined below will help you and your family choose the one that most fits your budget and values.

I am not including any glass options due to the potential breakable nature with kids. Additionally, from my experience, many of the glass bento options are quick heavy for small kids to realistically carry on their own. That said, these are an option that is similar to an EasyLunchbox but in glass and may be one your family wishes to try for at least the adults (while evaluating if it is a realistic fit for your child or not). I have also sampled this option from Bentgo, which is a similar concept to their other bento but in a 3-compartment glass option. Again, this is an option I like for adults but has not worked for my family, partially due to the ages and feeding stages of my kids (currently 5, 3, and almost 1 years old). You can read more on my favorite options for lunch-packing adults below.

A note on opening bento or lunchboxes

If you have a child three or under or with more developing fine motor skills, I HIGHLY encourage you to practice opening their lunchboxes with them. Just as I encourage parents to “pre-tear” or “start” wrappers on bars, string cheeses, and other packaging to optimize the time your child has to eat, it is just as important that your child is able to open their own lunchbox. This might take a week or so of working on at home to help them develop the skills to do independently while they have your attention and assistance versus that of a busy, new teacher at school. Once they get the hang of it, being able to do this will give them that much more time to actually EAT rather than wait their turn with the teacher to open their lunchbox for them.

If this is a concern you have, my favorite lunchboxes for small kids to open are the Bentgo, Yumbox, EasyLunchboxes, and PlanetBox. While I love LunchBots for a variety of ages and the versatility of bento boxes for a variety of stages, I find them by far the most challenging to open (including for my five year old).



Pros: The Yumbox Original (shown here) has six compartments and has been our most favorite lunchbox option since my oldest (now 5) was 18 months old. It holds a good amount of food as her appetite has increased but didn’t leave excessive space when she ate less (than she does now). This system also seems to be the most leak proof of any we have used over the years without having to add separate “sauce-like” containers. There are other configurations of compartments in the standard-sized Yumbox as well, which is nice for when we send larger items like a sandwich or a wrap. Of note, we have also used the Mini Snack and Tapas bentos from Yumbox and loved those as well for a smaller snack-sized and larger more teen or adult-sized lunchbox option.

Cons: It does get a little grimy in the underside of the clear insert and between the leak-proof sections on the lid after repeated use, especially if washed in the dishwasher where it collects residue. I use a straw-cleaner (that come when you buy any water bottle or straw cup) to run in these areas, so it hasn’t been a big deal but something to consider. Because of these nooks and crannies in the insert, I find this takes a decent amount of time to air dry also. With this, I leave it out overnight once hand-washed, but this prevents me from being able to wash then immediately repack the night before for tomorrow’s lunch.

Average Price: $27.99



Pros: Similar to the Yumbox (above), the Bentgo has preset compartments that help take the mental energy out of coming up with variety and different options to send. The Bentgo has one main configuration with five spots, which takes away the guesswork of which size to get since there is only one option and you can adapt the larger space as needed to fit bigger foods or split to include multiple smaller items. This system also is a more leakproof options for items like dressing or yogurt compared to others. It is also often on sale through sites like Zulily and Groupon, so you can get two for the price of one Yumbox if you time when you buy it right.

Cons: There is a little more “wasted space” on the Bentgo than the Yumbox I feel for otherwise being similarly sized. The insert also removes, so it is a similar concern with grime build up with the Yumbox. That said, at often almost half the price, I would buy two Bentgos per child so that you always have one clear/dry to pack the night before while the other one air dries.

Average Price: $27.99 (but often on sale)

best lunch packing supplies easy lunchboxes


Pros: These are my go-to when packing everyone in the family a lunch. They’re easy to streamline and efficient when packing several lunches at once (be it for several family members or packing several days lunches in advance). They’re an economical option and nest well, so they don’t take up a lot of space to store. They also have a smaller, four-compartment option that is great for younger kids and smaller appetites or storing a hearty after school snack.

Cons: They changed the containers ever so slightly a couple of years ago, so if you have “old ones” and “new ones” the lids don’t lock as tightly when used interchangeably.

Price: $13.95 (per 4 pack)


Pros: This is an excellent option if you want to be able to keep cold items cold (without the need of an additional ice pack) and hot items hot. It has tons of space for children with larger appetites and a partition that adjusts as needed in the side areas. Also, with a handle, this can be a stand-alone lunch packing option that doesn’t require a lunch tote or ice pack (if stored in the temperature-regulated space). OmieLife is also rolling out some new accessory items for this school year (2019) that you can attach for it to further be a stand alone bento box.

OmieBox has an awesome meal planner printable you can access here.

Cons: This could be a pro or a con, but as a parent with kids who don’t always eat a lot at school (or in general), this box is HUGE! For us, the compartments feel excessively deep, which creates a lot of movement of the food within it (tossing around in the open space when in transport). Also, the two side compartments are not leak proof, so you really only have three main areas to put foods unless you can put two items together in one (when leaking is not an issue). This option is also on the more expensive end, so it may be a bit of an investment if you are wanting a lunchbox for each child in your family or want multiple boxes.

Price: $39.50



Pros: What I like about LunchBots is how many configurations they have to meet your family’s lunchpacking needs. We have the small, medium, and large sized options and enjoy them all for different applications (usually my 1 year old uses the small, three- and five-year old use the medium, and my husband and I use the large). As a single system, they are easy to wash out. Their shape and size is conducive with the other boxes above and has fit standard lunch totes from my experience.

LunchBots has an awesome meal planner printable you can access here.

Cons: Previously, I would have said the lack of a complete seal between each compartment was a deterent to me in using LunchBots. This school year (2019), they have rolled out bundle kits with their bento boxes so that the silicone liner or sauce/dip container can be inserted in to any of the lunchboxes to lessen or prevent leaking. While they do create another thing to clean out (or potentially lose if the dip container is not put back), we have loved using these and the solution they provide. If you have a small child, this lunch packing system is the most challenging to open independently in my experience.

Price: $35.99 (for the medium bento + bundle)

Planet Box Lunch Packing.jpg


Pros: The PlanetBox was one of the first stainless steel bento boxes to become popular on the market. With a higher price tag than any of the other options shared, it is more common among families who prioritize a stainless steel option and are ready to make an investment that they can keep throughout their child’s schooling. These are built to last and don’t break or wear quite as quickly as the plastic ones (particular in the area of getting grimy over time). These are also larger in sized so more ideal for older children or children with a larger appetite (unless you opt for the Shuttle style, which is smaller).

Cons: The price makes these prohibitive for many families who have several bento boxes to buy or what two per child to rotate through (so there is always one clean to pack the night ahead). Also, these are a larger style and may not fit every standard lunch pail, requiring you to buy a new lunch pail that fits or one from PlanetBox.

Price: $55.95 (for the Rover)

Lunch Packing Parents

A quick note I am adding after initially posting this and being asked over on Instagram about this. What are my favorite bento-style options for parents? Well, being a big bento-fan myself, here are my current favorites. These could be used for my children as well (and sometimes are), but they also pack plenty for myself or my husband:

Snack Bags



Pros: We are avid Bumkins bag users. Since I don’t always want to send pre-packaged snacks to school (or even when I do!), they offer an easy, economical, environmentally-sustainable method for packing additional items in my kids’ school lunches. I stick their Mabel’s Labels on the outside of every Bumkins bag, then I don’t have to write their name on their snacks every day (as we are asked to label all foods). This cuts out on the effort, and allows me to easily fill the bags with homemade snack items (that don’t have a wrapper) or fresh fruits or veggies, plus tuck in any cutlery if say I am sending yogurt or need to include a dip container for something like hummus. We have the small and large and love them both, but if I were to pick one, I would probably say the large because then you always have the space if you need it (which from my experience, you will, especially if ever packing for several kids to enjoy as a snack out of one bag).

Cons: I love the playful, kid-friendly patterns but from the perspective of using reusable bags at home and in the pantry or fridge, I prefer Stasher to Bumkins due to the transparent nature of them. Also, I love that they are machine-washable (in the washing machine or dishwasher!) but do take a few hours to then air dry so I recommend having a few bags so you can always have one clean/dry.

Price: $16.95 for a pack with one large and two small bags


Stasher Bags

Pros: They are super easy to clean and transparent, so these are my go to instead of disposable Ziplocks at home in the fridge, short-term freezing, and pantry. I love being able to pull one out and use it for the reusable nature of something I only need in a bag short-term. I also love that storing our foods in these cuts down on waste AND my family’s exposure to plastics by using 100% silicone instead. They do run sales on occasion on Amazon or around Earth Day, so I try to stock up then.

Cons: These hold up well and are worth the value in my opinion, but they are expensive enough that I don’t own nearly as many as I wish I did - specifically for using to freeze (long term storage) or to send to school. I don’t send these in school lunches based on the premise that if it was lost or accidentally thrown away, I would be sad to lose it/have the money wasted.

Price: $11.99 per one, 7-inch bag

Novelty Items

Food Picks

We love using Nutridashe food picks at home and have Pick-ease from back in the day, both of which you might see me still share on occasion. However, for sending to school, I stick to less expensive and more durable options since Nutridashe ones are handmade and less durable and Pick-ease no longer sells theirs. Instead, I have linked several alternatives to a standard toothpick (which work fine also in school lunches, if your child knows not to use it as a weapon) on my Amazon shop here.


Muffin Cups

When you want to create barriers between different foods (due to preference or to prevent something from getting soggy), using silicone muffin cups can be a great way to go. With a variety or shapes and sizes, these are an easy way to design your own bento box in any sized or shaped container.


Cookie Cutters

The options for cookie cutters are endless but we have found a few that are our favorites for year round use shared here. You definitely don’t have to go to the added effort of using cookie cutters for any of the foods in your child’s lunchbox, but doing so can add a special touch when it fits for your family.


Lunchbox Love Notes

There are a lot of times I feel like I channel my mom as a kindergarten teacher, and adding in little lunchbox notes is no exception. I think to all the notes she wrote and tucked into my lunchbox as a kid and what a warm reminder it always was of her love, presence, and support during the school day. With sweet messages of encouragement, words of wisdom, and the very sentiments we would hope stick with our kids at school, these are another addition I love to keep on hand. These cards also have fun facts on the opposite side, so you not only have double the options but also may be able to get two uses out of each if they come home unruffled.


Mabels Labels

In being cheap, I admittedly have tried a few brands over the years to label my children’s clothes, lunches, waters, etc. Since, I have also learned of different styles of labels such as those that wrap around your child’s water bottle. For my family, Mabel’s Labels remains our favorite. They stick to any and all of the above items, stay on when washed, and are economical enough that I can label EVERYTHING with them (rather than labeling just one water bottle with other silicone slide-on ring options I have seen). We put them in our kids shoes, on their jackets, etc. too so I like that I can order one set and have it work for literally everything in our Back to School arsenal.

For 10% off your order, use code VEGGIES10 when ordering at

Lunch Bags

Depending on what bento or lunch-packing solution you choose for your child to take to preschool/school, be sure to check the dimensions of the lunchbox to ensure that it will fit in whatever lunch bag you use. Pick a lunch bag that is ideally versatile enough to fit several sizes of bento boxes or lunchboxes so you have the option of what you are packing your child’s lunches in.

Lands End

Lands End lunch bags match and fit in Lands End backpacks and have been a great option at a lower price point than Pottery Barn. My oldest daughter used her soft-sided lunch bag for three years before the liner started to bunch up in the lunch bag. Shop for this while on sale and you can get the backpack and lunch bag combo for under $50 (including embroidery). The soft-sided lunch bag fits the original sized Yumbox, Bengto, EasyLunchbox, LunchBots, and OmieLife (if you want it in a lunch bag).

Pottery Barn Kids

For years we have used Lands End backpacks and lunch bags because the quality is great and price is fair (especially with the Lands End 50% back to school sales). However due to style preferences, we do prefer Pottery Barn Kids to Lands End. While more expensive, we purchased ours on sale (30% off at Pottery Barn Kids, which is the highest I have seen) and opted to skip the embroidery (as PBK embroidery is not up to par in my opinion). We have locally embroidered the lunch bag before, but because many of the patterns are so busy, opted to use a Mabel’s Labels lunch bag tag (like a dog tag) instead this year (2019). This will clearly identify my girl’s bags without the added price or hassle of embroidery. We can fit the original sized Yumbox, Bengto, EasyLunchbox, LunchBots, and OmieLife (if you want it in a bag) in the Cold Pack Lunch Bag.

If you are looking to see which will fit your child’s bento or lunchbox, you can click here to see the dimensions of all Pottery Barn Kids lunch bags (under dimensions & care). In my experience, I like the cold pack best because it is the most versatile and leaves just enough wiggle room to fit most all of the lunch boxes we own (since yes, I am thankful we have received a collection!).


One year, my middle chose a random kitty cat lunch bag at Target and it has held up awesome. It was inexpensive, cute (to her!), and fit well in her preschool backpack. This to say, you do not have to buy a fancy nor expensive lunch bag. Just be sure to test the insulation so you know how well it keeps items cold. This will help you to adapt how many ice packs you need to put in the lunch bag as well, so that your child’s lunch stays a safe temperature until whatever time they eat.

Ice Packs

These are my favorites. We have used these ones for going on four school years now and continue to be pleased. They work well, are a slim fit, and work in every lunch bag we've tried them in! We have never had an issue with them leaking, and they seem to stay cold for the course of our daughter's school day.

To make sure an ice pack works with your child’s lunch packing system, test it out before the first day of school! Pack a lunch to “pretend send” the time you would in the morning with an ice pack. Then, at the time your child would be set to eat, remove your child’s lunchbox and see if all of the elements (particularly those that require refrigeration/staying cold) are cold enough. If not, adjust accordingly and try adding another ice pack to the other side of the lunchbox or bento so that it is “sandwiched” between two ice packs.

Water Bottles

Thermos Funtainer

Pros: I love that these are stainless steel. One, they reduce my kids exposure to plastic but living in Texas, these also keep my kids water the coolest when the weather is still hot out. These come in different volumes, which has been handy over the years so my infant’s water isn’t excessively large but also so my five year old can have a larger water to stay hydrated with during her now, longer school days.

Cons: These are a more expensive option, as tends to be the case when purchasing stainless steel versus plastic. The container itself holds up well though over time, with my needing to just replace the mouth piece and straw on occasion. We seem to lose Thermos straws the most of all our water bottles for some reason, so that is an added expense I have noticed with this water bottle. This option also seems to drip out of the straw at times if held upside down.

Price: Shop around as the price can vary widely from $10.99 to over $20 per bottle



Pros: These are an easy, economical plastic option that is less expensive than the other two options listed (particularly since I am not buying replacement mouth pieces or straws for this). I like that the straw is connected to the lid better than the other two options (i.e. a child can’t pull it out/apart easily), so we never have an issue with losing the straws for this. I like that these have a hard spout for developmental purposes and making it so my kids aren’t chewing holes in the mouth piece (the way they do/have with the other two water bottles listed here). This option is also entirely leak proof if, say, held upside down!

Cons: These are a plastic water bottle option, so if you are wanting to minimize plastics (particularly with beverage containers left in the car), you might want to choose the Funtainer option or an alternative stainless steel one. Contigo has a stainless steel option in this style, however it does not review very well and I have not personally tested if/how it works compared to this style.

Price: $9.99 per water bottle. These are often on sale or cheaper when purchased in a multipack.



Pros: These are an easy, economical plastic option.

Cons: The rubber mouthpieces on these seems to split more quickly than on the other two options from my experience, if you have a child who tends to chew on mouthpieces. You can buy replacements for this (which I have) as well as extra straws (which I also have), but that becomes an added expense and hassle when you first discover. I haven’t had the issue of mold or leaking with these, but that is a complaint I have heard from others with this water bottle.

Price: $12.99 per water bottle

Off to School They Go!

So there we are. All packed and ready for another school year! I hope this round up of some of my favorites was helpful to you and will get you set up for a successful year of packing school lunches.

Muffin Club for Moms

Do you know you want in Muffin Club for Moms? You can skip the post below and sign up here.

Since a book club still seems like a distant dream, one thing I can commit to in the real day to day right now is baking once a week, every Monday, to both keep myself accountable and healthy snacks on hand in our home.

This was a random idea I had in planning for postpartum after my third was born in August 2018. I casually mentioned it on my Instagram, “Hey, if you want me to share the recipes I choose and make, let me know.” That was after 9 PM and when I crawled into bed, I literally had hundreds of DMs asking for me to share.

So what else would I do than hop back out of bed with my giant 32 week pregnant belly and get to work. I posted a sign up for my fellow moms (slash families as I love all you dads who bake too!), and over the past year, it has been so fun watching thousands of you bake with me.

Whether you are expecting a little one soon, early on in your pregnancy and wanting to find some tried-and-true muffins for future postpartum prep, or are a fellow busy mama who just wants to make life a liiiiiittle more streamlined, efficient, and low-stress (especially over summer and as we gear back up for Back to School by the end of this), this Muffin Club is for you.


Here is What You Can Expect:

Each week, I will:

  1. Search, find, and organize muffin recipes that I personally approve of as a dietitian-mom. I have personally tried each of these in advance and think they are enjoyable to eat and easy to make (with or without kids). As a dietitian mom, I also have vetted these recipes as ones that offer worthwhile nutrition for you and your family.

  2. Send out ONE email with the recipe for the upcoming week. I will send this on Saturday mornings, only to those who have joined the Muffin Club. Join here >>

  3. Share on my Instagram a picture and/or story about the muffins we are making for the week using the hashtag #muffinclubformoms.

Each week, I ask that you will:

  1. Check the recipe for the upcoming week so you can make sure you have the ingredients on hand. You can find this recipe on the email I send out each Saturday morning titled, "New Recipe for Muffin Club: ________." To join this email list and get this recipe to your inbox, make sure to sign up here.

  2. Recognize that each recipe may or may not suit your family’s dietary needs. Whenever possible, I have tried to select recipes that offer options to modify based on dietary preferences and/or allergen needs. In each week’s email, I also include modifications that I use for the recipe (based on my own family), but I can’t personally speak to other modifications or allergen-friendly alternatives. If you try any substitution, would you please share via email with me or on social media? Last year this proved to be very helpful among our muffin club community.

  3. Use this time to bond with your child(ren) over baking or for a much needed mom break when you can bake in peace! You can make this a family affair and double batch it so you have some to freeze and save, or many moms last year enjoyed baking and swapping with a fellow mom friend. This gives you both more variety of muffins for less actual effort on each end. Plus, it becomes an easy play date snack swap that I’m pretty sure most of us would be happy to do!

  4. Whenever you decide to make the muffins (be it on Monday or anytime!), please share a picture or a video on your social media. When you do, I would really appreciate it if you would tag me (@veggiesandvirtue) and include #muffinclubformoms. This makes a more fun "community" feel for our super official Muffin Club for Moms :)

  5. Enjoy the muffins! This is meant to be fun and ultimately help fuel your family - especially amidst the chaos of real life when sometimes we only have one hand to grab something healthy-ish while heading out the door. This isn’t intended to be a burden nor a baking competition. It is meant to fuel you - mind, body, and soul!

    You are doing great, mama, and I hope each bite of muffin brings you one more much needed deep breath each day.

FAQs for Muffin Club

I have received several questions about making muffins in advance, the logistics of doing so to freeze and enjoy again later, as well as this being round two to muffin club. To address some of these questions, I have provided the questions and my answers below.

If I signed up in 2018, do I need to sign up again?

Yes. Most of the recipes will be the same as those shared in 2018, but if you would like them to be delivered to your inbox again, you need to join here.

Are the recipes the same as last year?

Yes, majority of them are! I made 1-2 modifications (depending on when you signed up) to reflect some of my most favorite recipes currently. In upcoming years of running Muffin Club, I would like to introduce all new recipes. However, due to current bandwidth limitations, majority of the recipes will be familiar if you joined Muffin Club last year.

Can I get all the recipes in advance?

Yes. You can skip the weekly emails and get the complete Muffin Club series here.

What if I haven’t joined yet? Can I still get the recipes?

Yes, you will get all the recipes starting with WEEK ONE upon signing up. Please note, that means you will be however many weeks behind the Official Muffin Club for Moms Schedule. You can access each week’s recipes as they are shared on my Instagram stories or download the printable with all eight week’s worth of recipes here.

What kind of muffins will be included?

These are better-for-you, homemade muffins made with as many wholesome ingredients as possible. Set your expectations for them to taste delicious AND be nutritious as a nutrient-dense breakfast, snack, or anytime option! If you are wanting a muffin that is delicious but not so nutritious, I am probably not your gal nor is this going to bring you the type of snack you have in mind. The pre-made options you will find at most coffee shops and grocery stores are better suited for those decadent versus nutrient-dense options. Additionally, if you want these muffins to be zero added sugar, paleo-, keto-, or meet any other kind of specific dietary standards, again I am not your gal. These will have some grain-free, some without any added sugar, many with natural forms of sugar or added sugar, and some with tested swaps to eliminate dairy, eggs, etc. This club does not intend to follow one type of diet, however.

What type of ingredients will these muffins be made from?

Since I personally can't consume gluten, I usually bake gluten-free to ensure I can eat whatever I make. When possible, I use oats/oat flour or a gluten-free all purpose flour (as a substitute for a whole wheat flour or when specified). Many of these muffins will also use almond flour, or coconut flour as the base (making them naturally gluten-free). You are welcome to make your muffins with whatever flour is called for or is your preference, but please note I can’t ensure that the exchange is always 1:1 so you need to check the recipe notes and comments to verify what works (or doesn’t).

I am by no means endorsing a gluten-free diet is appropriate for everyone; this is simply how I cook for my family so the recipes chosen will naturally reflect that.

Otherwise, I am not looking to make anything fancy here folks! Most every recipe will be selected with the common home kitchen and pantry in mind, as I value recipes that use our everyday staples vs require exotic (or especially expensive) ingredients. Some of what I consider “staples” might be new to you. My goal is not to send you out shopping or spending unnecessary money on any of the ingredients included. Rather, the ingredients included are ones that I, as a dietitian mom, think are worthwhile having in your home and becoming familiar with - with Muffin Club as your first chance!

What is the best way to store muffins?

For the muffins that I plan we will eat the week of, I usually store them in a glass Pyrex with a snapware lid (as seen on my Amazon shop - affiliate link). If I don't want to tie these glass storage containers up long term however, so for freezing I use a gallon-sized freezer Ziplock, Stasher bags (when I have some free to use), and/or a metal disposable container with heavy duty foil top (I find the best size options and price for disposable metal pans at Dollar Tree).

What is the best way to freeze muffins?

Ideally, I recommend allowing the muffins to cool and come to room temperature. Then, transfer them on a cooling rack (or in the original muffin tin) and place them in the freezer for 30+ minutes to flash freeze individually. Once quick-frozen, transfer muffins to a sealed, freezer-safe container (see question above). This will help them to not stick together but prevents you from having to waste the time or product to wrap each muffin individually.

What is the best way to keep muffins tasting fresh?

Especially during hot summer months, I recommend you keep your fresh batch of muffins in the fridge (once they have cooled). Most will mold at room temperature if left out for more than 1-2 days, so I suggest storing them in the fridge and then pulling them out in advance to bring them to room temp on their own before eating or by quickly warming them up in the microwave (~10 seconds).

What is the best way to thaw frozen muffins?

When you go to thaw your muffins from the freezer, simply transfer the container of them to the fridge. Allow them to thaw on their own, or take one and put it on a paper towel to microwave (~15-30 seconds depending on how frozen they are). You should be able to transfer the whole container to the fridge to enjoy, or you can remove one muffin at a time from your freezer stash and thaw in the microwave. For muffins with more moisture, you may want to consider putting a paper towel inside of the container/Ziplock to absorb it as the muffins thaw.

How long do the muffins last in the freezer for?

From my experience and the notes I have read on many muffins recipes, most muffins are fine to be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months (assuming they have been well-sealed). When you put each batch in, just be sure to label with the name and date and then rotate using First In, First Out method when it comes to eating those that have been frozen. This said, in real life, we had so many muffins when my third was born we ate them after the three month mark and as far as I can tell, we all still turned out okay!

Breastfeeding (or Bottle Feeding) Busy Boxes

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. These do not cost you more to use but provide Veggies & Virtue with a small commission for any orders made using these links. Thank you for your support!

Guess what?!

Over nine months ago when little man was still a big bump in my belly, I planned to share this post.

Then life with three littles happened and while we have used these Breastfeeding Busy Box ideas often, I haven’t formally shared these ideas with you all - until now!

Many of you have direct messaged me on Instagram or emailed me over the past year asking, “What are these ‘Busy Boxes’ you speak of?” I have sent informal videos to many of you as a reply to share our up close and personal, but now is the time I want to put all this info in one place so you and any other families planning for postpartum with older kids or just a long summer with quiet time activities needed so mama doesn’t have to be “on” every second.

These were originally created because in addition to getting all things food-related ready for postpartum, I had seen and heard time and time again the advice to have activities ready for an older sibling once a new infant arrives. Seeing that breastfeeding has never been a cakewalk around here, having such activities ready in the form of Breastfeeding Busy Boxes helped me a lot in having three babies in under five years.

With my first, we didn’t need these busy boxes since she was the only one at the time. Come my second child though, and I struggled to breastfeed due to an undiagnosed tongue tie that put us through the ringer for her first 3+ months of life (until it was ultimately revised). I had to nurse her endlessly to satisfy her hunger in those early months, then later exclusively pumped once her tongue tie revision still lent to us being unsuccessful in breastfeeding. With this transition to two kids, I found myself needing a lot of strategies to engage my oldest as much as possible while we got the whole feeding situation figured out.

With my third child, I am so thankful breastfeeding finally did go/has gone smoothly. But that is not without the struggle of still wrangling two older siblings at home all the moments I am trying to sit and nurse. Even now with him being older and so easily distracted, I often need to pull something out that my three and five year old can play with independently (or often together) so they aren’t coming over and “interrupting” my attempt to nurse (or at least not as often). Having these Breastfeeding Busy Boxes continues to be helpful and adaptable.

So whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, exclusively pump, or use entirely formula, I hope this post supports you. It is not meant for only the moms who’s breast is out nor is it intended to imply that one method of infant feeding needs more support than another. Having been through so many ups and downs of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, exclusively-pumping and using formula in our own family, I hope this post meets you where you are at - wherever that is. While my hope is that this post will encourage and empower you to be successful in breastfeeding your baby for as long as it is beneficial to you and your family, my main motive with this post is to encourage and empower YOU - as the wonderful, gifted, and life-giving mom you are - in the transition to welcoming a new baby. With this, I will do my best to refer to these as “Busy Boxes” throughout the content of this post.

busy boxes.png

Activity Closet

When I think of all the nesting activities I did when preparing for my second and later third child, converting our downstairs coat closet into a place to store our toy rotation was one of the best ideas I had. Having all sorts of random toys scattered around the house drives me crazy, so consolidating those by concept helped us to not only manage (or eliminate!) much of the clutter as well as give the kids some guided play into like-toys (i.e. Z is for ZOO bin, I is for INSECT bin, T is for TENT/CAMPING bin, etc.). We still have the kids favorite toys out (like dress up, dolls, play kitchen, the Barbie house, Little People, blocks, etc.) available in the playroom. I find the girls focus on those toys a lot better though when all their toys aren’t out and competing for their attention. Plus, having these bins created easy, effortless prompts for the kids to play with anytime we needed an easy boredom buster. Even better? The clean up is obvious and isolated to everything in the bin goes BACK IN!

Additionally in the activity closet, we hung a shoe rack on the inside of the coat closet door for easy boredom busters. Using Days with Grey Alphabet Activity Cards, we have 26 ideas I don’t have to think up on my own that the girls can go up and grab at any given time.This allows me to keep tools and supplies I need in the shoe pocket with the card or have an easy idea of what we need to get once the girls grab a card. 

For both the toy bins and activity cards,  some require a bit more effort and energy from me. I found that while these options solved the hardest part of being home all day (in my opinion) of coming up with age-appropriate, engaging activities, I knew I also needed some that require little to none of my effort or energy for the times I was also tied up with the baby.

Additionally, I know many of you might be thinking, “We don’t have the space for that.” For the need of fostering as much independence as possible and minimizing the space required for storage, this is where my Busy Boxes come in.

Breastfeeding Busy Boxes

Activities to Engage Siblings When Mom and Baby are Busy

In this post, I will share:

  1. What are Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

  2. What criteria do I look for in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

  3. What do I Include in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

  4. What I do NOT include in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

  5. What are some recommended supplies for Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

Note: This post is NOT intended to bring about feelings of shame nor judgement over screen time. My kids watch TV and get to use our iPad on occasion. That said, as a stay at home mom, I prefer to have set windows when screen time is planned for rather than something used loosely or endlessly. For us, tthis helps manage the otherwise endless requests for tv or the ipad each day because the boundaries on when we use it are clear and consolidated. It also meant that before my second or third child was born, I planned these Busy Box activities with good intention … and a healthy dose of reality. Our Busy Boxes were used often, but also allowed freedom for screen time on occasion as I saw fit, instead of being my default boredom buster or means for entertaining my other little one(s) when breastfeeding. I respect that every family finds what works for them with allowing screen time, just as the activities suggested here are intended to be modified as needed for your family's needs, wants, and schedules. This post is intended to provide age-appropriate alternatives to screen time without insinuating any judgement or entertaining conversation about what is/is not “appropriate” screen time use - particularly in that vulnerable postpartum window!


Breastfeeding Busy Boxes


What are Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

When we were preparing for our second daughter to be born, one of the things I was most concerned about was what was I going to do with my older daughter when I needed to tend to her little sister? Sure, there were plenty of ways to engage her in caring for a new baby that I saw and planned to use, but I had heard feedback from some other, more experienced moms with multiples share that having activities to "keep the older one(s) busy" was a key to keeping sanity in those early stages.

That's when I fell in love with the idea of Breastfeeding Busy Boxes. Even though I ended up having to exclusively pump after all, these Busy Boxes became all the more important when feeding took twice the time (being to pump and then bottle feed baby sister). Having these boxes ready allowed me to pull one out before I started pumping so I could then sit there with both of my girls and keep the older one nearby (read: contained) and engaged while I did what I needed to do. I didn't have to worry about her running off around the house when I couldn't follow her, nor asking for something new that was inconveniently out of my reach. I also didn't have to worry about what to do with her feed after feed, day after day, because these busy boxes gave us some fun activities to continue to rotate through, reuse, or recycle for new ideas.

What Criteria Do I Look for in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?


These boxes should require little to no help from you, should your hands be full and/or you are unavailable to open, tie, clean, or need to heavily monitor an activity. While parental supervision is always encouraged, these should require minimal parental involvement but rather promote fun, safe opportunities for independent play. Note that some of these do require you to be able to read instructions, but minimal “hands on” help should be needed otherwise (in the case your hands are busy holding/feeding a baby).


Do you know why Daniel Tiger is so popular? Because besides being a great show for young kids, it also keeps them entertained for 23 minutes AKA around the amount of time it often takes us to feed a newborn, put together dinner, and other a million other tasks we could cram into 20 minute stints. This is where my mindset with busy boxes comes in. Ideally, I aim to choose items that I think can entertain my kiddo for at least 10 minute stints. Sure, sometimes they won't be into it at all but other times, they may find a newfound interest in the boxes for even longer than that (i.e. the goal of 20+ minutes so it could in theory replace the need for a show). By rotating these options and reserving them only for when you need them to captivate your child's attention, it promotes the chance that your child will be more willing to sit and use the activity at hand for the stint you need them to.

Mess Free

Now is not the time for paint, water play, or even our beloved DIY water/sensory table. Any of these on a moment's notice might make you feel the need to jump up and get hands on to minimize a mess, which is not when you want while also trying to juggle feeding a baby. That's why it is ideal to keep those activities for when you are more available and reserve more "calm and contained" activities for busy boxes. These are easy to get out and easy to clean up - ideally as soon as your older child is finished playing or younger child is done eating.

What Do I Include in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

I love the Creative Options Project Boxes from Costco like this. You can use whatever bin, basket, or container you already have though! I just find it most helpful to have a few different Busy Boxes ready at any given time. Since this set from Costco comes in a five pack, I usually select five different options from the following.

Disclaimer: The links below support fellow small businesses. None of these are affiliate links but rather products and people I genuinely love and support. All Amazon links are affiliate links, which Veggies & Virtue receives a small commission for when purchased with. I appreciate your support of my small business as well as the others shared below!

Days with Grey Alphabet Activity Cards: Add the card (i.e. idea!) to the Busy Box with any suggested supplies (i.e. pom poms, counters, tongs, etc.). These are what we have hanging in the shoe rack of the coat closet.

Days with Grey Breakfast Invitations: Get these ready in advance so all you have to do is set them out/up the way you would for a “morning activity” except it is in advance of a feed or whenever you need your child to do them. You can keep all the supplies Beth shares as being needed in the Busy Box so it is ready to put into action. I like to do this when I see her share an idea that I think, “I should totally do that!” but don’t necessarily have the chance to set up when she shares it.

NOTE: Beth of Days with Grey is running a sale through THIS weekend! If you have been wanting to buy something from her shop, be sure to check it out now as we kick off summer break!

Young Wild & Friedman Playdough Kits: We first got these for our girls over Christmas, and they were a HUGE hit! Endless hours of open-ended play. While some pieces can be small (for children under three), these can easily be omitted to entertain a wide age range of kids for a low-mess sensory play option.

The Littles & Me Chalk Doodle Ideas + Sidewalk Chalk: These prompts are so simple and yet perfect to read to your child and let them go after while you sit in the shade and feed your baby this summer. Ashley from The Littles and Me has several fun printables in her shop that we know, love, and use both in Busy Boxes and for more engaged pretend play or intentional time together.


Some other favorites include the following:

Note some of these might be items you already have! In that case, I like to just make it a “special” activity by reserving it for certain times. That way, a coloring book is no longer a boring old coloring book and an everyday toy/activity is no longer something that loses its appeal because they can play with it anytime. Instead, it is intentionally set up and ready in a Busy Box to be enjoyed during a window of time when the child is invited and allowed to play with it. Rotate through the toys you already have in your original Busy Boxes, or consider putting a few of these items on your Baby Registry for big brother or sister (see notes on this below at the end of the post)!

Craft Supplies

Letter Practice



Pattern Play

Pretend Play

By Melissa & Doug

Activity Books

Reader Books

What I Do NOT Include in Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

Choking hazards: As with anything around small children, you want to me cautious to avoid including anything that could be a potential choking hazard

Messy activities: As mentioned above in what TO include, now is not the time for messy activities. Obviously depending on your child, some “less messy” activities (or supplies such as the arts/crafts supplies above) can quickly get messy. Use your discretion with these “minimal mess” supplies so indeed these offer less mess AND less stress!

Two handed items: While you can hold a book that has a spine that stays open, an activity card that is flat and easy to read (or on your phone), or other small, simple to manipulate items, I recommend trying to avoid things that require you to open, twist, cut, or use two hands to help with.

What are Some Recommended Supplies for Breastfeeding Busy Boxes?

You can use any sort of basket, container, or bin you have on hand at home. I found these containers at Costco when pregnant a couple of years ago and appreciated that they gave me an organized, consolidated way to prepare four busy bins in advance. That way, I could come up with what I wanted in each at the end of every day or throughout the week as we needed to swap in new ideas.

For more ideas of items we have used and loved (such as those shown above), go to my Amazon shop and look under my ideas list, "Breastfeeding Busy Boxes."

Gift Ideas - to give or to get!

You know how friends with multiple babies rarely “need” a lot (having often received generous showers and baby gifts for baby number one)? Well, these busy boxes are, in my opinion, the perfect gift option for families having another baby. You might wish to get something for mom and baby of course (you can visit my Amazon affiliate shop for those items too!), but something I find an equally great gift is giving big brother or sister a Breastfeeding Busy Box activity kit as well. This helps the mom (or dad!) and baby to bond, work on breastfeeding (or bottle feeding!), or to just have one less thing to come up with in those earlier days of transition when leaving the house just feels like a lot (and thus leaves baby, big brother/sister, and mom/dad at home…A LOT!). So consider some fun ideas you could put together in a special container for the sibling as a less traditional way of serving the entire family in this time of transition. I like to pair a special book with related activity for a Busy Box idea that gets to be reserved specifically when mom (or dad) see fit! Or, if you feel like you already have a lot of the items you need for your next newborn, you might add a few new fun items to help entertain your older child with to your registry!

Be it with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or bringing about engaging new ideas to any aspect of your motherhood journey thereafter, I hope this list helps you both bond with AND keep your littles busy!