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.

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)!

Back to School 2018, Education, Parenting

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten? Try these tips!

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

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

Can you believe it? Your baby is heading to Kindergarten and it happened so fast! How has at-home learning been going? Did preschool prepare your child well enough or is there more you wish they could do? Summer is a great time to sneak in extra at-home learning. It keeps their eager brains learning without a summer pause and brings a way to have some one on one time you both are craving. Let’s order your Teach My Preschool Learning Kit now. There is so much inside this kit your child will not run out of motivation to learn at home.

But, learning kits and summer home programs are expensive? Teach My is under $30! It is affordable at-home learning and let’s not stop learning after school gets out for too long or they may lose some of the knowledge preschool gave them. Let me dissect what comes in this kit:

  • Teach My Preschooler Reading Learning Set
  • Teach My Preschooler Printing Learning Set
  • Teach My Preschooler Numbers to 100 Learning Set
  • Teach My Preschooler Math Learning Set

I think that covers the early-learning subjects of math, reading and writing. Teach My makes learning fun because you get the lessons in the form of mini books, flashcards, a drawing board, a flip book, posters, counters and it all comes packed neatly in a carrying case. Don’t worry, you get plenty of guides to best create learning segments at home and make sure you are using all of these tools correctly.

Let’s make learning fun! To make sure you stay consistent and also to make sure they stay engaged, create a learning site weekly calendar! Here is what a learning site calendar may look like for example:

  1. Monday: Math Flashcards and 1 booklet – After lunch at the table. Read second story at nap time
  2. Tuesday: Number counters and Writing practice – with snacks at the backyard patio table. Read 1 story at nap time
  3. Wednesday: Field Trip! Park, grocery store, etc and bring 2 flashcards and find groups of things in the cards #
  4. Thursday: Take TeachMy case to the park for a math lesson & 1 writing fun! Read 1 book at bedtime
  5. Friday: Child’s choice = Pick 2 lessons and learning spot for the day! Have a Friday treat ready to celebrate your weeks learning!

Making learning fun, having a reward each week and changing up study spots makes it so much fun and becomes a great way to spend quality time together. It is OK if you work and it is OK if you have other children in the home. Learning each day can be anywhere you find new spots and with anyone willing to take that day! Older siblings may have fun taking 1 day a week to sit on the lawn as a weekly ‘fun chore’ and help little sibling learn for a bit! Anytime of day and any study buddy works as long as they are learning!

Connect with Teach My by visiting their website and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Buy Teach My Kits

Stay tuned! I will be giving away THREE Teach My Preschooler kits in starting mid-July!

Parenting

Useful Tips to Help You Take Care of Your Baby

Image Source: Pixabay

Being a parent is a full-time job which implies endless hours of constant care while being sleep-deprived for days. However, when you get your “paycheck” from time to time, consisting of millions of smiles and love, you feel refreshed. The toughest thing is that no one can train you for this and you face numerous challenges every day, seeing your little one growing up.

Learning how to take care of your baby is one of the most important steps in becoming a good parent. That’s why MomCrib is here to help you with some tips and tricks. At times, you may get confused when it comes to your little angel’s development. Your newborn baby needs frequent feeding and it may have different sleeping patterns than you would expect.

Feeding Habits

Your one-month-old baby needs to be fed several times during the day and they may also wake you up in the middle of the night. Specialists argue that mothers should consider feeding their babies six times per day. Nevertheless, if you choose to breastfeed your baby, you may need to do it about 12 times a day.

Breastfeeding your baby for the first time will not be easy. At first, your newborn child might reject your breast and the feeding job might become harder than you think. You might experience sore nipples and you may need a warm washcloth when you experience blocked ducts. The heat will help the milk flow. However, if you experience this, you should use a cold pack.

Holding Your Baby

When you see your baby for the first time, you will surely be nervous and excited, and your hands might get all shaky. The most important thing when holding your newborn is to support their head. When picking him or her up, make sure you hold firmly the neck and the head. In these areas, babies have little muscle development and that is why it is extremely important to support the area when lifting them.

If you do not follow the steps mentioned above, the baby may get injured. Pick them up delicately and cradle their head when lifting. You will also notice that a baby’s skull will not completely close until they are about two years old. Hence, you will notice soft spots on the baby’s head. You should not worry about it since the membrane covering them is pretty strong.

Diaper Changing

This may be the easy part since you will immediately know when it’s time to change your baby’s diaper. A full diaper may irritate your baby’s skin if you leave it on for too long. You need to make sure that you check the baby’s diaper every two hours. Lots of problems may occur if you do not change the diaper properly. An improperly placed diaper can cause pinching, chafing, and leaks.

When changing your baby, place them flat on their back and do not leave them unattended because they may roll away. Open the diaper and use a wet washcloth or wet baby wipes to clean your baby, place it in the diaper and them slide it out from under them. You will become so good at it that you will be able to do it in your sleep.

Soothing

A baby’s cry can mean a lot of things and it may be hard to decipher. However, you will learn it all by trial or error. When trying to soothe your crying baby, you have to mimic the womb. You should hold the baby on their sides while swinging, shushing and swaddling them. All these can generate a calming reflex.

Another method you could use to soothe your baby is by playing some music. Make sure you choose soft, calming music. You may also need to try tricks like lunges or knee bends while holding your baby. If none of these methods works, prepare a warm bath for your little angel.

Exploring the World

When preparing the stroller and the nursery bag, make sure you are well-equipped for any situation. A walk in the park would be perfect, but if you want to reach public places, choose a spot that is more likely to welcome a baby. You should try a bookstore or a library. Before stepping outside, make sure you have plenty of diapers.

Besides baby clothes and all the needed accessories, you should also consider getting some changes for yourself. No one would like to walk around wearing a T-shirt with plenty of stains. Do not try to stick to a plan, just go with the flow and fully enjoy motherhood.

No one could say that they are fully prepared to become a parent. If someone says so, they do not know what challenges it could bring. Surprisingly, your newborn baby will teach you a lot of things. Even if motherhood might become overwhelming, try to see the bright side.

You will learn how to become a better parent along the way, by experiencing difficult situations and reading numerous tips and tricks. Keep in mind the fact that no matter how difficult your days may be, your baby’s smiles are the greatest reward you could get.

Brands with a Cause, Earth Friendly, Education, Healthy Living, Parenting

What Happens To Your Carton Recyclables Once They Leave Your Home?

This post was sponsored by the Carton Council as part of an Ambassador Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

What Happens To Your Carton Recyclables Once They Leave Your Home?

You know it is important! You see the blue containers! And you use recyclables everyday yet do you remain conscious about recycling? I know lunch breaks are short and running errands with a car full of kids steals all of your focus, but do you know what happens to your recyclables once they leave your home? Maybe if you have a visual and really understand the impact you can make, you will find a way to stay a bit more aware of what cartons you are tossing. I use this type of education and visuals as a teachable moment for the entire family.

A Recycling Video for Motivation

Let’s start with a short video from The Carton Council titled, How Recycled Cartons Become New Products. This is really fun to show the kids too because if they also have a visual that is motivation to help out and recycle. It is important to know why you can and should recycle food and beverage containers.

How and What Cartons to Recycle

You watched the video and now you know what can become of your recyclables. So how and what should you recycle? First of all, if you need a go-to site to see a lot more information on recycling than I can fit into one post, visit the Carton Council website.

The cartons you would typically recycle are packages from soups, broths, milk, juice, coconut & other waters. Other cartons used for packaging could be found with certain wines, creamers, beans to name a few. You would simply put these cartons in your recycling bin with your pickups.

Do you know if your community participates in curbside carton pick up? You can use the zip code locator at recyclecartons.com, or check with your local program to find out if recycling cartons is as easy as putting them on your curb. While there you can even find ways your family, work and schools can start their own easy recycling efforts. This can be a great class or senior project for your child to take on in their school! Think of what we can do with all of those juice and milk cartons from hundreds of students each day!

Let’s turn these shelf and refrigerated cartons into other paper products or chemical free environmentally friendly building materials.

The entire family can be involved in bettering your recycling habits! You can make it a fun spring or summer competition for the family that can build habits to last well beyond the season. You can start by making it the kids spring project to set recycling collections up in your home!

Getting the entire family to effortlessly recycle (and even to get staff and schools to recycle) can be simple. Sometimes all it takes is some education and a visual like the video I shared above. It is that simple to leave a positive footprint on the environment we will be leaving behind.

Click below to print your own summer chart!

Be sure to visit The Carton Council as I mention earlier because they even offer great ideas for making recycling fun and learn what happens to your recyclables once they leave your home!

Back to School 2018, College Bound, Education, Gift Guides, Kids, Parenting, Reviews, School

Back To School Guide 2018

Welcome to the 2018 Back to School Guide

Back to School Guide 2018

“An Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Interest” – Benjamin Franklin

They are heading back to school! Fun in the sun and vacations are coming to an end! Are you prepared? Do you have a buy list to complete still? Have the kids style and sizes changed? Is one off to college and you have no clue what you may be forgetting to buy or discuss with them? I hope I can help you out with topics, reviews and some fun below!

*If you are a brand, contact Erin at erinnsluka(at)gmail(dot)com to get your product featured!

Keep checking back as there are more posts added several days a week through summer and fall!

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