Infant Toddler Products, Kids, Parenting, STEM Learning, Toy Reviews

Age-Appropriate Toys and Play

Age-Appropriate Toys and Play

I just spent some time in NYC and it was part family vacation and part toy conferences. Included was a lunch at The Toy Association where we heard from ‘Safety Mom’, Joan Lawrence about toy safety standards. I share a lot of toy posts and videos on this blog and our social channels and after listening to the safety talk I felt it was worth it to take some time to share some toy safety information with you. Most of all you would need to know is available at The Toy Association website and in some of their online resource sites such as Genius of Play and a re-vamped toy safety site coming very soon!

I took in all the aspects of toy safety and two standards stuck out most that I will discuss! First, is toy storage! I have discussed the story of my cousin’s baby, Eddie who was in a drowning accident and is still suffering form the effects of his drowning.

When you have a pool, for instance, little ones are drawn to not only the water but the fun toys and balls around the pool. If those are left out, in or around the pool, the little ones will go after them all while forgetting the obvious such as not knowing how to swim or even noticing the barrier of water between them and the toy. This is the same for toys or bikes near a road. They become so tunnel vision around fun and play and may not notice the division between road and sidewalk or even forget that cars could be coming as they dart into the road for a toy or ball.

Moving indoors, you have fall and small parts issues. Properly storing indoor toys means avoiding tripping injuries, most of which happen to adults who fall over children toys. It is also worth noting that by properly storing the older kids toys helps keeps their smaller toys away from younger siblings who may not be at the proper age for that toy. This brings me to the second safety topic…

Age-appropriate recommendations on the toy packaging are for SAFETY! They are not about ability (per-say) or how smart you think your child is. It is an age printed on the packaging that has all the safety standards in mind. It may be due to sharp edges, moving parts, batteries or small magnets  that all pose dangers to smaller children.

So…follow the age-recommendations also found at Genius of Play from The Toy Association!

Birth to 6 Months: Remember that any toys should not be left in cribs or sleep areas. Also, once a child can pull to stand, all infant toys should be removed. As they grow stronger, these infant toys may give way under weight if used to pull up or break under stronger manipulation. Shop for toys with lights and sounds, colors: black and white or high contrast colors. Keep teething in mind with textured toys that may go into the mouth.

6-12 Months: Their motor skills are really taking off. Now they are ready for toys that stack, open & shut and even create banging noises. Once they start crawling, they love toys that move with them. This is the age to introduce their first ride-on that use their own feet to move. In the summer you can introduce the sandbox and bring out child-size table and chairs.

1-2 Years: They are always on the go now! Physical play that keeps them engaged is essential to keep them learning and growing. This is a fun age to introduce role-playing. Introduce them to puppets, toy kitchens, playhouses and some shape sorters and learning toys.

2 to 3 Years: Now they have gone from walking and running to climbing and jumping. Their eye hand-eye coordination skills are beginning to really excel and arts and crafts begin to be a fun new task at this age. Bring home the dolls and let’s start dressing and bathing them! They love balls and toys to chase at this age. Wagons and training bikes are great for outdoor play.

3 to 6 Years: Let the play dates begin (and sharing wars). So let’s find great group play toys at this age. From friends to active imaginations this opens up an entire realm of toy possibilities from age-appropriate board games, construction toys like larger Legos and Duplos and puzzles and non-toxic art supplies.

6 to 9 Years: They know everything now (well, if you ask them). Strategy and skill play is great at this age and there are so many STEM-inspired options these days. There are also fun classics for this age such as marble runs and kites for outdoor play. Find them arts and crafts sets, magic kits, building kits, action figures, bikes you can start to remove training wheels on, electronic games and more!

9-12 Years: With this being the top of the age scale it is very important to remember that by now (and even years earlier), they have toys with hazardous parts that may harm their young siblings! At this late age they have hobbies and enjoy crafts and building still at a more advanced level. Sports games and gear as well as strategy boards games and electronics are popular at this age. Just be careful about the electronics that connect them to the outside web world and maintain supervision.

Kids, Reviews, Toy Reviews

The New Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Building Set by PLAYMOBIL

I have partnered with Playmobil for this feature. All opinions are my own

The New Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Building Set by PLAYMOBIL

Start your engines and bring your Porsche 911 GT3 to the race track! This little building project come with stickers, wheels, tools, 2 figures and lights! Just 3AAA batteries needed and those headlights will light up the dark track!

Features of the Porsche 911 GTS Cup set

  • Detachable roof.
  • The cockpit has room for one figure.
  • The boot can be opened upwards and has adjustable motorsport rear spoiler
  • Cool light effects (front, rear and interior lighting).
  • Auto power off function.
  • Includes two sets of wheels (with and without profile)
  • Lots of accessories and matching tools (e.g. for changing tires).
  • Includes command stand for monitoring the race.
  • The mobile spare wheel trolley offers space for 2 sets of tires.
  • Victories are celebrated with the included trophy and winners’ podium

Connect with Playmobil on their website and follow on Facebook with more fun on their YouTube channel

Buy it! The PLAYMOBIL Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Building Set is available on Amazon and at the PLAYMOBIL website

Back to School 2018, Home, Kids, Reviews

These LampyPets Kids Nightlights have Multiple Functions

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I have partnered with LampyPets for this feature. Opinions are my own

These LampyPets Kids Nightlights have Multiple Functions

Don’t you love these ling summer days? Sunset is late and we get plenty of daylight all summer long to keep our BBQ’s going and enjoy company outdoors longer. The saddest part of the year for me is shortly after school starts and it gets darker earlier and earlier. Suddenly it is 5pm and dark out. In the summer there tends to be enough light for the kids at bedtime, but after fall daylight savings it is plenty dark by then. Let me share our new “pet”, Spencer, with you. He is more than just a nightlight when the sunlight disappears.

Spencer is one of the animal LampyPets you can choose for your kids space. He is a nightlight as well as a lamp. He has 3 levels of color temperatures from 3000K which is nightlight bright to a lamp-bright 6000K. He also has 3 steps of dimming as well. So you can get a low nightlight to a decent amount of light – just enough to scare away those bedtime monsters!

My son is 10 and beyond being scared of the dark, but he does like to read most nights. That’s why having all of these lighting functions are great! He can have just the right amount of light to read yet have control enough so that if he drifts off with the book in his hands it is not too bright in the room for sleep. The fun part is you control temperature and brightness with each eyeball. It makes sense because on a nightstand, the LampyPets eyes sit at a perfect reach level.

The lighting is LED too and will last 20,000 hours! On high is has a 6W output so it is not energy-draining at all. It comes with a wall plug and instructional booklet. The handy pencil cup keeps their space neat and organized.

Let’s start getting their rooms back-to-school ready. Find all the fun characters like Spencer at LampyPets.com

Healthy Living, Kids, Parenting, Tips and Tricks

10 Tips for Kids Staying Home Alone

10 Tips for Kids Staying Home Alone

As our boys neared about the age of 10 or so they began to hear of friends who are home alone for a bit such as from the time the bus drops them at home until parents are back from work. To a pre-teen and teen this sounds so cool. The idea of being home alone is a huge milestone and they are eager for doses of independence wherever they can get it.

As parents, so many thoughts pass through our heads when we get to that point where perhaps we can try some doses at being left home alone. What if there is an emergency? What if they forget to have their phone charged? What if strangers try to enter the home? What if they decide to turn on the stove or fall? We can drive ourselves silly with the ‘what-if’s’ and never leave them home alone. But, I think it is important to reach this milestone.

Teaching a child to be home alone can bring some valuable lessons and even if you don’t think there will ever be a need to leave your child home, I think finding ways to teach a child this independence and leaving him or her alone in spurts is more valuable than that thrill of independence for them. It can introduce talks about trust, making plans and perhaps they will have a minor panic moment that teaches them the importance of making sure that phone is available or to have to think on their feet. They may need to use these lessons elsewhere in their young lives.

We have recently begun training our youngest to be home alone. Notice I use the word TRAINING? This is because like an important job, you need training. This is an important responsibility and it requires planning and tasks to follow.

  1. First and foremost, check about your State Laws. In Wa. state we do not have a formal law about a child’s age to be left home alone but we do have an advisory of 10 years old. Our youngest just turned 10 so it is a great time to start training them after their 10th birthday. Keep in mind there may be a separate law on what age to leave a child responsible for another child if you have 2 left home alone. Know your law!
  2. As soon as you know your State’s law on children home alone, consider your child’s maturity level. We have 3 boys and they are all very different people.
  3. Put the rules on paper! Trust me, your child’s head has a big ego as they lavish in this idea of being home alone. The opposite may also be true, they may be nervous and anxious as you get to the point of actually leaving. So, rest assured that all those rules you mumbled at them did not stay in their heads very long. So have your rules written down and left out for them.
  4. Start small. We began by allowing our son to stay home alone as we took our evening walks. Eventually I may run to the grocery store 5 minutes form our house and then that graduated into longer errands. But never at night after sunset and never longer than 1-2 hours for maybe the first year or so.
  5. Check in! As much as you want to test them on their independence I always give a call within 5 minutes of leaving for 2 reasons: First is to test they have their cell with them and it’s on and working. Second, is to gage their level of nervousness. If they keep asking when you will be back or exactly where you will be, they may be showing their nerves by asking so many questions so I know to make it quick.
  6. One of my top rules are DO NOT CLOSE DORS BEHIND YOU. We have an over 3,000 square foot home. If he decides to go upstairs and close his game room door behind him he will get lost in video games and potentially not hear noises or alarms that may go off in the home. They need to keep volumes down and doors open for safety. Once I came home and he had the door shut-he did not even know I walked through the door and was home because I startled him. For 2 months the game room was off limits if we are gone. He lost the game privileges.
  7. Keep them busy! I tell my son he can watch the downstairs TV where he is in the main part of the home, play computer or video games only if he keeps game room door open at all times and if he lost game privileges I leave a list of chores he can do AND earn money form to make it motivating. If they get nervous or scared, it keeps them busy and passes the time which helps them out a bit. I also have a NO FRIENDS over rule when I am away too.
  8. The emergency plan! Like you have the babysitter list-that becomes your child’s new sheet! I have all numbers in his phone AND written down incase he has a phone issue and I have a trusted neighbor I alert when he is home alone.
  9. The doorbell! Under no circumstances should your child answer the door when home alone. If you need a neighbor to check in for you, have a secret knock code or alert your child that at a certain time neighbor will knock to check in.
  10. Check the home! Have a very curious kid? Do a double check that stoves are off (make sure your child knows cooking is off limits home alone), weapons are locked up, all windows/doors are locked as you leave, garage door is shut, etc..

These all seem pretty basic. However, a guide and a plan is great to ease their discomfort as well as your own. It is much better than roaming a grocery aisle and suddenly panicking that maybe you left the back slider wide open and they are vulnerable or you left the stove on!

Even thoughts like, “they do know silverware does not go in the microwave, right?” are scary thoughts so have rules and plan so you are covered and your child is safe.

What can make this even easier on you are two tools I use in my home! The Ring Doorbell and Security Camera and a Wi-Fi, app controlled indoor camera. I can turn off the daily schedule on our Ring and set it to motion alerts so anytime someone approaches our driveway or front door my phone chimes. I know if someone is lurking and I also can see if my son broke any “door answering or inviting friends in rules”. I also have an app for my indoor video cameras that has 2-way talk. I can see if he entered the game room and shut the door and all I do is hit the microphone label and tell him to get off or open the door! I can also have motion as he enters the kitchen and have a view of what he may be getting into. See them grab a large knife to cut or about to stick metal in the microwave I have eyes and a voice to shout out at him. Now that you are covered, let’s do this! They will learn some very valuable skills under your control.

(I left links to what I use below if that helps you get set up for the Home Alone plan)!

Fashion, Healthy Living, Kids, Natural Products, Reviews, Summer

Cabana Life Sun Protective Family Swimwear Inspired by Melanoma Survivors

I have partnered with Cabana Life for feature. Opinions are my own

Cabana Life Sun Protective Family Swimwear Inspired by Melanoma Survivors

Don’t you just love the chance to wear new swimwear? There are so many styles and brands to choose from that when you find the right piece it is like a huge accomplishment. I have a few tankinis and shorts, but what I realized I lack is something for when evening hits on chilly nights. I may still want to get in the water, but out of the water I get cold and don’t want to have to change or get my regular clothes wet. My Palace Blue Zipper Rashguard from Cabana Life is my new favorite sun protective clothing and swimwear piece.

Cabana Life has swim shorts, bikinis, suits, tanks, tees, coverups and more that all work to protect your skin from harmful UV rays and with pieces like the long-sleeve rashguard I have it is great for those days when the warm day sun brings a chilly sunset. Above is an example of a cover up from the Girls line.

Cabana Life has the boys and men covered too! Their skin-safe fabrics give you the highest rated UV protection that will not wash out in the water or with sweat like sunscreens do. I hate the chore of greasing up my son so if I can cover him with safe clothing wherever I can it eliminates skin areas that I have to apply sunscreen to.

From the water to the meal table their fabric is comfortable to wear all day. It dries fast and looks great with bold colors and/or fun patterns. This brand was started by a skin cancer survivor so they are serious about the protection this fabric gives you and your entire family.

Here is the fun part! They have Mom and Me as well as Daddy and Me matching styles. I love finding these matching sets (and it makes spotting my big and little men in a crowd much easier).

Connect with Cabana Life on their website and follow on Facebook and Instagram

Buy It! The featured rashguard

Back to School 2018, Fashion, Kids, Reviews by Anthony, Video Reviews by Anthony

Brooklyn Cloth Co. Surf and Skate Clothing Brand

I have partnered with Brooklyn Cloth for feature. Product was sent and opinions are my own

Brooklyn Cloth Co. Surf and Skate Clothing Brand

Recently Anthony received a few pieces of clothing from Brooklyn Cloth Co. and he fell in love with the styles. He is all sports and typically only wears shorts and sports brands tops, socks and hoodies. He loves basketball and loves the basketball style all year. So, it was a gamble to agree for clothing from a surf and skate clothing brand. To my surprise (and perhaps his) the pieces really excited him.

The very next day he grabbed the pair of Brooklyn cloth shorts and the Sherpa-lined jacket to wear to school. Even on warm days, he grabs hoodies and coats to school because his classroom gets chilly. I warned him he may be too warm in the sherpa-lined coat, but there was no talking him out of it even on a 70 degree day.

I think this may be my favorite top. The New York cotton hoodie has the sporty look he typically wears. It is called the Boy’s New York Fleece Hockey Jersey Hoodie. We visited NYC last summer and Anthony fell in love with the city. We will be going back again this summer for a conference and he is so excited. Having these New York branded clothing brings back those memories for him. Such as visiting the Statue of Liberty when we were there.

The top above is called the Boys’ White New York State of Mind Long Sleeved Tee. It looks so sharp on him and with print on the front, back and each sleeve there is something happening on this entire shirt.

The cloth shorts at Brooklyn Cloth Co. fit long like board shorts. I ordered Anthony medium shorts in boys as a 10/12 size he normally wears and they hung long like board shorts should. You can see each piece from the shorts and jackets and how they fit in his video below….

Connect with Brooklyn Cloth Co. on their website and follow on Facebook. You can find clothing for men and women too!