DIY Nativity Advent Tree

Last Christmas, I was determined to find the perfect Advent calendar to use with Stella and, when I didn’t run across exactly what I had in mind, I gave up the hunt and used a vintage cardboard one that I purchased a few years ago, like this one:

antiqueadvent

I think  it’s adorable, and it will continue to be a part of my Christmas decor, but it just isn’t quite what I had in mind for an Advent calendar. I wanted something that would be more interesting to a young child; something that Stella would be excited to do every day. I also wanted something that told the story of Christmas.

My mom sent me a link to this Kathy’s Primitives Advent Tree on Zulily and I completely fell in love with the idea of decorating a small tree with a new ornament each day as we counted down the days to Christmas! However, this one was a little on the pricey side and didn’t tell the story of Christmas, so I set out to make my own.

kathyprimitive

I decided to hit up Hobby Lobby while all of their Christmas decorations were 50% off to stock up on my supplies. I found a small tree and tree skirt, a set of tiny nativity ornaments, bead garland, a star for the top of the tree, and some tiny presents.

24 items to countdown to Christmas! (The first day will be the tree, so there are 25 things total.)

24 items to countdown to Christmas! (The first day will be the tree, so there are 25 things total.)

Mini silver tree!

Mini silver tree!

I remembered a tutorial I saw a while back for a toilet paper tube advent calendar, and I thought it would be perfect for this. My ornaments were just the right size to fit in a toilet paper tube, plus it would be inexpensive since I already had the supplies! I happened to have almost enough empty toilet paper tubes stocked up to complete my project, but I needed a few more and didn’t want to wait.  It turns out that you can, in fact, remove the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper while keeping the roll intact! I know you were dying to know that.

Tubeless toilet paper rolls! ;-)

Tubeless toilet paper rolls! 😉

I covered my cardboard tubes with scrapbook paper, folded the ends in to make little “pillow boxes,” attached a number with some string, and dropped the ornaments inside! Easy!

Toilet paper tube Advent calendar.

Toilet paper tube Advent calendar.

Close up of the pillow boxes.

Close up of the pillow boxes.

I haven’t decided how to store/display them yet, but I think I will do something with a picture frame like the tutorial I linked above. They would also be cute just sitting a basket.

I will probably make something more durable and permanent later, like the Kathy’s Primitives box that sparked this idea, but this project was fun, easy, inexpensive, and definitely good enough for now! I’m so excited to show this to Stella and start using it come December!

Food, Water and Attachment (re-post)

*Note — This is a post I wrote for my old blog, but I think it is worth sharing again.

Yep, it’s that important.

There are few, if any, aspects of infant/toddler development more important than the child’s attachment relationship to his parent or other primary caregiver.  Secure attachment provides a healthy and secure base for the child to learn how to appropriately respect, relate to, and interact with others.

“But,” you wonder, “what exactly is attachment?”

Attachment theory is credited to child psychiatrist, John Bowlby, and psychologist, Mary Ainsworth.  To learn more about Bowlby and Ainsworth, click here.  Here’s a very brief breakdown of what they discovered:

Attachment is the emotional bond that forms between an infant and her primary caregiver (typically the mother).  An attachment figure provides the baby with feelings of security, comfort, consistency, and happiness.  As the infant grows into a toddler, she uses her attachment figure as a secure base from which to explore the world she’s discovering.  When the baby is separated from her attachment figure, she typically experiences distress and fear.

Secure attachment is what you want for your child.  There are three other types of attachment: avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized.  These are insecure and unhealthy attachment patterns and often result in emotional issues in later childhood and adulthood.  They are not conducive to optimal development.  If you want to learn what these patterns look like, this website gives a brief breakdown of them.

In short, a secure attachment relationship during early childhood is crucial in order for your infant to develop healthy relationships over the course of the rest of his life.

No pressure, right?  🙂

Relax.  You are likely already engaging with your infant in ways that help create a secure attachment — picking him up when he cries; feeding him when he’s hungry; changing his diapers; talking, reading, and singing to him; holding him (babies thrive when they have physical contact); and picking up on his cues.  These things (the things you’re already doing...go you!!) are the best ways to create a secure attachment with your infant.  As long as you are responding to your infant consistently, appropriately, and lovingly, you’ve got this attachment thing down. Click here to read, “Bonding with Your Baby,”(a great article!) for more information about ways to create a secure attachment with your infant.

Some people tend to believe that in order to foster independence in an infant or toddler, they must limit how quickly they respond to the infant’s needs and avoid consistently responding to all  of their needs.  They think they will “spoil” the baby.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Research proves that babies whose needs are met in consistent and loving ways develop a more positive self-image and become more independent and more secure adults than babies whose needs are met inconsistently or unreliably (who tend to act out in ways we might define as “spoiled”).

 To sum up, I basically just told you that there is no such thing as holding your baby too much (as if you needed a reason to hold your baby) — so go ahead and ignore those people who tell you you’re “spoiling” your infant…that’s really pretty hard to do.  In several years you can prove them wrong anyway with the secure, independent, caring little human you’ve raised.