How To Make Your Baby Smarter with Rainbow Rice

You may have seen this colorful sensory activity on instagram or Pinterest; buckets full of bright blue rice and aquatic toys. Or bright green rice with tiny plants and jungle creatures. These fun and whimsical worlds are actually extremely educational and beneficial to your little one’s development! Their base is made of dyed rice and provides unlimited opportunities for your little one to develop their fine motor skills as well as engage in sensory play. And we’re gonna show you how easy and fun it is to make! Skip to the end to find out how sensory rice may be beneficial to you too, mama!

But first, what is sensory play and why is it important?
Great question! Our senses are how we intake information about the world around us and learn to navigate it. We are born with these senses, but we must learn how they work and how to use them. Sensory play involves activities that stimulate your little one’s senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell and movement) and increase their threshold for sensory stimulation, essentially making their senses sharper. Sensory play encourages exploration and that exploration helps build nerve connections throughout the brain. These new connections allow your little one to take on more complex tasks and promote cognitive, motor skill, language and problem solving development, which is another way of saying this type of play actually makes your baby smarter (1).

Ok, now it’s time for the fun part. This process is super simple and all the ingredients are probably already in your cupboard somewhere.

What You Need:

  • Dry rice
  • Food coloring
  • Vinegar
  • Sandwich bags

What You Do:

  1. Fill your bag with ½ – 1 full cup of rice
  2. In a separate cup, pour in ½ tablespoon or less of vinegar
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to your cup of vinegar
  4. Swirl the dye mixture around to make sure the vinegar and food coloring fully mix together
  5. Dump your dye mixture into the bag of rice
  6. Now the fun part! Zip your bag closed and squish it up. Make sure the dye works its way through the bag and touches all the rice. It will pool in the bottom of the bag and form pockets so make sure you mix and squish it enough to cover all the rice in dye.
  7. Let the dye soaked rice sit in the bag for a little bit, rotating it every 20 minutes or so to make sure the rice is evenly colored.
  8. After an hour or two, most of the food coloring mix will have been soaked up or evaporated off. Pour the now brightly colored rice into a bowl and place it in the refrigerator to dry the left over vinegar and get rid of the strong smell.

Helpful Hints

  • You don’t actually have to measure any of the ingredients, eyeballing everything works just as well.
  • A lot of rice + a little dye = lighter colored rice
  • A lot of rice + a lot of dye = brighter colored rice
  • A little rice + a little dye = brightly colored rice
  • A little rice + a lot of dye = darker colored rice
  • You can mix food coloring to create new colors just like with paint. If you’re mixing colors, you will need to pay attention to ratios and eyeball your measurements carefully. A bad ratio of colors can turn your rice dark and muddy.
  • The good news is that, like with paint, you can continue to add one color or another to lighten, darken, or tone your dye mixture. For example, when we made our first batch of purple, we used entirely too much blue. The mixture turned a blue tinted black color, but was able to be toned back down to purple by adding in more red. 
  • When mixing a new color, start with a base of the lighter color and add in the darker color one drop at a time. Colors with deeper pigments will absorb and darken higher concentrations of lighter colors. Think of what happens when you add white to any color of paint. The mixture may lighten slightly, but the white will be completely consumed by the pigment of the original color. The principle applies to food coloring as well.
  • Brown rice can also be dyed, but produces more jewel toned colors compared to the bright colors created using white rice.

You’ll Love It Too!

If you enjoy working with your hands, and don’t mind a little mess, you’ll probably have some fun making this rice, and might want to consider making an extra batch for yourself!

Remember in inside out, when we’re meeting Riley’s emotions? Joy, ever the optimist, describes Anger as someone who ‘really cares a lot about things being fair’ right before he blows his top over not being able to have dessert. If you, as a mom have never had a moment like this, we…well we wanna know your secret! But if you’re like us, and blow your top from time to time consider keeping a small stash of this pretty rice to play with when you’re feeling agitated. Just a few minutes of ‘playing’ with a manipulative, like a stress ball, zen garden, or a handful or rice, can have intensely calming effects. The process by which we find relief from objects like this, called fidget widgets, is mostly psychological. Our brains intake information in two ways: physically, through our senses, and cognitively, with our mind. Sometimes, when we’re stressed or overwhelmed, it becomes difficult for us to process all the information our bodies are taking in, and we become distracted or unable to focus. When we play with a stress ball the physical distraction allows our brains to slow down and relax, and thus refocus on processing cognitive information or problem solving (2). 

These devices can help address anger in a way that is similar to how they address stress. As with any emotion, our bodies produce a cognitive and a physical response. Often, our physical responses are more extreme than our cognitive responses and we have much less control over our physical responses than we do our cognitive, making it reletively easy for our bodies to overpower our minds. Fidget widgets use the same power of distraction, or redirection, to distract our minds from the physical manifestations of anger: sweating, increased heart rate, muscle tension, and shortness of breath (3).

Not only is this colorful rice a fun activity for you and your little one, but it can atually make your little one smarter, and help you be a more relaxed and focused mama! what could be better? Please share with us if you’ve made this fun rice, and tag us on Instagram so we can see all the lovely colors you make!

XO, Fake Mom

Sources:
1/ https://www.educationalplaycare.com/blog/sensory-play-important-development/ 
2/ https://ardesign.us/2016/01/the-bouncing-science-behind-stress-balls/ 
3/ https://www.sharecare.com/health/anger-management/what-physical-effects-of-anger

Tips for Boosting You + Your Little One’s Immune Systems

Hey mama,

How are we all doing out there? Are you panic stricken by the CoronaVirus coverage or are you managing to keep it together? Maybe somewhere in between? With all the numbers, speculation and warnings going around, it’s hard to process the information or know what to do next.

Here at Fake Mom, we’re all about being proactive, rather than waiting to be reactive. And the best way to be proactive about contagious viruses or public health outbreaks is to support your immune system so your body is ready should it need to fight off an infection, virus or bacteria. Below are 17 tips for boosting your and your littles one’s immune health along with some tips for sneaking the trickier foods into meals.  

There are few things harder than being sick and trying to care for a little one who’s full of energy, so make sure you’re taking good care of yourself too! Grown ups can incorporate any of the items on the list into their lifestyle, while some tips are not suited for small children. Each tip will denote whether or not it is suitable for children 

Citrus Fruit rich in vitamin c, which is thought to boost white blood cell production. They’re sweet and juicy flavors tend to make them an easy favorite with little ones, but if you have a picky eater who is texture sensitive, using citrus juices is a great substitute. Processed store bought juices have a lot more sugar than the actual fruit, so if you can’t juice yourself, we recommend watering store bought juice down with at least half as much water as juice. You’re little one will still get the vitamin boost they need without the extra sugar. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Spinach is a triple threat; packed with white blood cell boosting vitamin c, regenerative antioxidants and strengthening beta carotene. Use it in smoothies blended with other fruits and veggies as little ones tend to not be super excited but this plain tasting leafy green. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Ginger, a go to for most cold like symptoms, ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help fight nausea. Ginger can be used in your littles ones bath but can be quiete strong when it is cooked with. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Garlic for grown ups it’s known for its heart healthy benefits but garlic also contains compounds such as allicin which is known to have immune boosting properties. Garlic is great to use as a flavor enhancer when cooking and is an easy additive to most recipes. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Turmeric is an old world remedy for inflammation that has gained popularity in recent years among western lifestyle gurus for its anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. Turmeric is great added to smoothies or blended treats for your little one. The flavor is mild enough to be masked by citrus fruits and the bold color will peak your little one’s curiosity. Turmeric can be used to cook with or as an additive in small amounts to fresh smoothies or juices. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Papaya, often an overlooked superfood, have more vitamin c than oranges, are packed with potassium, b vitamins, folate and an anti-inflammatory enzyme called papain. Because of it’s mild taste, papayas are also great for smoothies or juicing when added with other more flavorful fruits and vegetables. AGE 8 MONTHS +

Kiwi are full of folate, potassium, and vitamins k and c. They can be a little sour so if your little one won’t eat one by itself, try adding it into a smoothie. The flavor is mild enough to blend seamlessly with other fruits and veggies. AGE 10 MONTHS +

Water is the key to life and health! Our bodies are 70% and require that we consume clean fresh water to replenish what our bodies use up throughout the day. Watering down any liquid your baby drinks is any easy way to decrease heir sugar intake and increase their water intake. AGE 6 MONTHS +

Sleep is simultaneously the most important and most neglected aspect of our modern life. Proper sleep is essential to a healthy, balanced life, and sleep deprivation is the natural enemy of our body’s immune system, killing the cells in our bodies designed to track down and attack dangerous microbes and cancer cells. ALL AGES

Local Honey. Honey can be tricky because children under 1 can contract botulism from the bacteria found in honey. But after 12 months, their bodies are able to process these bacteria properly and they can benefit from its many useful properties. Honey is a natural antibacterial and contains powerful antioxidant properties shown to lower LDL (read: bad) cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides. In children, honey has been found to be as effective as over the counter cough suppressants. The honey acts a barrier, coating the throat and providing relief without the side effects of over the counter meds, which often keep your little one from getting the quality sleep they need to fight off their illness. Adding a bit of honey and lemon to warm water for baby when they’re not feeling good is especially soothing before bed. AGE 12 MONTHS +

Lay off over the counter meds- it may seem counterintuitive but loading your little one up with drugs every time they get the sniffles will actually make them more sick in the long run. As a result of this over medication, bacteria themselves begin to build up an immunity to the treatment. These new, antibacterial resistant strains are harder to fight and a simple ear infection can snowball into a serious infection. ALL AGES

Yogurt contains thousands of good bacteria to keep you healthy from the inside out. The “live and active cultures” stimulate our immune system, help our digestive system to work more efficiently, and are fortified with vitamin d, which helps regulate our immune system and boost our defenses against disease. Most little ones enjoy yogurt because of its mildly sweet flavor but if you have a child who is averse to foods with a runnier consistency, you can use yogurt as a smoothie base and blend it with fruits and veggies to make a delicious drinkable and nutritious snack for your baby.  AGE 6-8 MONTHS +

Blueberries contain Flavonoids, antioxidants that can repair damaged cells and boost your immune system. They are also rich in vitamins and nutrients including vitamins C and A, potassium, fiber and manganese, an essential nutrient found commonly in nuts and legumes. Little ones tend to like blueberries because it’s a chance to flex their fine motor skills and trying to pick them up is just as fun as eating them. They also blend well into any smoothie. AGE 7 MONTHS +

Green Tea: Green tea is loaded with caffeine, so this one is definitely not for kids. But for grown ups, green tea is somewhat of a superfood. The caffeine boost is a welcome effect for most grown ups but it’s levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a powerful antioxidant shown to boost immune health. Green tea also contains high levels of L-Theanine, an amino acid that may raise production of germ fighting compounds in your body’s T-cells. ADULTS ONLY

Cruciferous Vegetable: These include cabbage, broccoli, colliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, bok choy, radishes, arugula, collards and watercress: Rich in vitamins and minerals like folate and vitamin K, darker varieties are also rich in vitamins A and C. They’re also packed full of phytonutrients, plant based compounds that benefit our bodies in a number of ways, most notably by acting as anti-inflammatories and reducing our risk for cancer and heart disease. Little ones enjoy cruciferous vegetables the most when they’re cooked a bit and seasoned with aromatic spices like garlic, onion or turmeric, all of which provide their own health benefits. AGE 10 MONTHS +

Mushrooms: They’re usually not popular with kids but adults love them and mushrooms are packed full of nutrients that help keep us strong and healthy. Cooked properly, the varieties that are not poisonous are packed with B vitamins, potassium, copper, antioxidants and beta glucan, a soluble fiber linked to lowering cholesterol and supporting heart health. AGE 12 MONTHS +

Sunflower seeds: This may be a surprising one for most people but sunflower seeds are actually packed with nutrients including phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins B-6 and E, a powerful antioxidant responsible for regulating our immune system. AGE 24 MONTHS +

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system#ginger

https://www.parents.com/health/cold-flu/cold/boost-childs-immunity/

https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2018/01/19/14/09/6-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system-through-cold-and-flu-season

https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/the-beginners-guide-to-cruciferous-vegetables https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/are-mushrooms-good-for-you