Monday, December 27, 2010

Can’t Find a Baby-Sitter on New Year's Eve? No Worries!

Every year since we had kids, my husband and I look at each other as New Year’s Eve rolls around and say, “What are we going to do this year?” It’s become a holiday we look forward to see come and go because it is so hard to find a baby-sitter. What usually ends up happening is we put the kids to bed and try to stay up and watch the ball drop on TV, but rarely do we actually make it to midnight. (Kind of sad, huh? We know other parents out there can relate!)

How can you celebrate New Year’s Eve once you have kids? What are some fun things you can do if you find yourself without a baby-sitter (again)?

- Find other couple friends who have kids and team up to celebrate the New Year. Let the kids all play together while you to enjoy adult conversation. Celebrate New Year’s Eve before the children go to bed. Do a countdown early and let the kids have New Year’s hats and noisemakers.

- Start a new family tradition. Pick a (family-friendly) restaurant to go to each New Year’s Eve. Dress up and celebrate the holiday by having dinner out together. Only go to the restaurant on New Year’s Eve so it becomes a special place for your whole family.

- Celebrate “Noon Year’s Eve” instead of New Year’s Eve. Host a party at your house for friends and family and do a big lunch for everyone. Count down at noon instead of midnight and you’ll feel like you celebrated enough by the time midnight actually rolls around. Don’t forget to give your spouse a Noon Year’s Eve kiss at the stroke of noon!

- Create a time capsule on New Year’s Eve with your family. Fill a shoebox up with pictures and mementos from the past year. Talk about your favorite memories from the year and then bury your time capsule in the backyard.

- Find a local community event that is kid-friendly. Many towns and cities have “First Night” events that are alcohol free, low-cost, and fun for the whole family.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and safe 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

'Tis the Season to be...Stressed?!?!

Hello everyone! So sorry it has been two weeks since I have posted a blog entry. But like a lot of you out there, our family has been in the throes of the holiday season. Parties, events, shopping…you name it, we have been busy doing it!

While the holiday season can bring visions of sugarplums, it can also bring tired feet, overwhelming anxiety and dread. If you are feeling this way, then it is time to SLOW DOWN! (In all honesty, I am giving myself this advice. Maybe it will help someone else out there, too.)

It’s hard to be a good parent when you are feeling stressed out. And I firmly believe the old saying…happy mother makes for happy children. So mamas, instead of focusing on the kids in this week's blog entry...this one is for you!

How To Beat the Holidays Blues

If the mercury level on your stress-o-meter is rising, you’re not alone. According to the National Mental Health Association, more than 17 million Americans experience some form of depression and anxiety during the holidays. Women tend to feel more of the “holiday blues” because we typically bear a greater burden during the season. The ladies tend to be the ones spearheading the holiday shopping, planning, and schedules.

Stress increases in so many of us around the holidays because of unrealistic expectations, financial hardships, and sometimes, due to the colder weather, a little bit of cabin fever.

Here are some tips on how to deal with competing demands of the holidays.

Plan ahead.
During the holiday season, your social calendar can go into overdrive. Try downshifting to a more manageable schedule.

Get a separate calendar and organize all your seasonal activities. Be sure to allot time for decorating, holiday cooking and shopping, as well as annual get-togethers. This will help prevent you from over-committing.

Before agreeing to a new commitment, check your calendar and see if it is feasible. Remember, you don’t have to say yes to every invitation.

Stick to a budget.
Make a budget for your gift giving and stick to it. While the holidays are about giving, they aren’t about breaking the bank. Shop early for bargains and to avoid crunch-time crowds.

People fall into the trap of spending a lot of money on a gift to express how they feel. A homemade gift can show how you feel about someone just as much, if not more, than a more expensive gift. These are often more personal and appreciated.

Take care of your body.
The holidays are an emotional and eventful time, so it is vital to make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating right and scheduling downtime for yourself.

Just because Santa enjoys milk and cookies at all of his holiday stops doesn’t mean you should follow suit. Try to cut back on holiday eating and drinking. When faced with a table of holiday treats, be selective and take small portions.

Be flexible.
Keep traditions and family gatherings simple. As families grow and change, so do your holiday traditions. Be flexible, embrace change and keep in mind that being together is more important than keeping family customs.

Stepfamilies will want to discuss holiday schedules ahead of time to avoid confusion and stress during the holidays. This way, all family members can plan ahead and know what to expect.

Don’t expect perfection.
Hallmark cards may portray holiday harmony, but in reality, there is no such thing as a perfect holiday season.

In reality, your relatives may argue, your eggnog may sour and your Christmas party may be less than perfect. Just remember that a positive attitude, forgiveness and a sense of humor go a long way during the holidays.

Don’t become another victim of seasonal stress. By taking care of yourself and managing expectations this yuletide season, you, too, can have stress-free holidays. Your kids will thank you for it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Excitement Can Equal Cranky Kids

I am the world’s worst at revving up my children during the holiday season. Yes, it is not even December 1, and we are already decorated for Christmas. The house is lit up like “Christmas Vacation,” holiday music is playing 24/7, and the stockings are already hung by the chimney with care…you get the picture. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house, and we still have 25 days to go until the big day.

So what does this mean for my four year-old? Well, it means she is already in holiday orbit and every bit as excited as her mama!

This also means it is getting harder to settle her down for bedtime and keep her (somewhat) calm throughout the day. How do you manage your kids and their schedules during the the holidays, but still keep that spirit of the season?

Here are some tips on how to balance being full of holiday cheer, while keeping bedtime battles and holiday sugar highs at bay:

• Schedule holiday parties and plans when the kids are well rested. Try not to interrupt naptimes and bedtimes.

• If the holidays mean you must travel and be away from your home, then try to keep mealtimes and bedtimes as close to your schedule as possible. You may not be able to control where your little one sleeps, but you can control what time they go down for bed at night.

• Don’t go overboard. Children like simplicity, so instead of doing three holiday crafts, baking Christmas cookies and visiting Santa all in one weekend, just choose one holiday activity to do as a family. It will mean more to your child (and to you) if you have one special event or activity to focus on at a time. Too many new and exciting experiences can make children overwhelmed, thus leading to a meltdown.

• While holiday treats certainly are a fun part of the season, limit cookies and candies. Too much sugar contributes to children having a tough time settling down at night. When several holiday treats are offered to your kids in a single day, have them select one and tell them to either save the rest for another day or give the treat to a friend or family member. This is an excellent way to eliminate too many treats, as well as reinforce the importance of giving to others, instead of always receiving.

• Keep your stress level in check. Remember that children are very much affected by their parent’s stress levels. If holiday activities become too much for you and you can feel your stress level rising, then it’s time to take a step back and look at your schedule and to-do list. Determine what you can eliminate from it to make the holiday season more enjoyable for everyone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas...Card!

It’s that time of year again…time to prepare for the (often dreaded) family photo for the annual Christmas card!

Something that should be fun and easy is oftentimes very stressful... your kids won’t cooperate, your husband is complaining about having to smile on cue, and you are thinking to yourself, "Why do I put myself through this every year?"

Hopefully this year will be different! Here are some tips to help your Christmas card photo session go well!

- Don’t be above bribery!
Come armed to the photo session with snacks, lollipops and bubbles…anything to get your kids through the shoot while keeping a smile on their faces!

- Keep the weather in mind.
Sometimes you may have the perfect outfits picked out, but if you are doing an outside photo session and it is terribly cold that day, it might be time to ditch the cute, coordinated outfits and go with something warmer, like coats, gloves and toboggans. A happy child in a winter coat is better than a teary one who is cold!

- Bring a helper.
Consider bringing grandma or a favorite baby-sitter who get the kids’ attentions during a family photo or can play with one child while the other one is getting photographed. An extra set of hands can alsofix collars, flyaway hairs and clothes once you are all posed.

- Less is more.
The family itself should be the focal point of the card. If you try to incorporate too many props, your Christmas card may become too busy or can get “cheesy.” Just keep it simple for a beautiful holiday card that you’ll treasure for years to come.

- Don’t be afraid to be “candid.”
Sometimes it’s hard to capture a good photo of the entire family, especially when you have little ones who have trouble sitting still for more than a few seconds! Just interact with one another and leave it to your photographer to capture holiday magic. Candid pictures sometimes make more interesting holiday cards than posed ones anyways!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas card this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Surviving the Doctor’s Office with your Kids

Cold and flu season is upon us (NOT AGAIN!), and one of the worst places to pick up germs is the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Both of my kids have well visits coming up, and it makes me want to cringe at the thought of taking them into the lion’s den (aka- the doctor’s office.)

I admit it. I can be somewhat of a germaphobe. What can I say? Besides, when the American Academy of Pediatrics states, “An office waiting room often presents opportunities for transmission of infectious diseases among patients,” well, I am going to listen and try my best to keep those germs at bay!

Here are some tips on how to reduce your child’s chances at catching an infection at your next well visit.

- If there is a “well section” at your doctor’s office, utilize it.

- Wash your children’s hands often during your well appointment with hand sanitizer. If you know your doctor’s office doesn’t have hand sanitizer available, carry your own hand sanitizer with you. When you get home, wash your child’s hands thoroughly with soap and water. This tip goes for parents, too! You could pick up germs while taking your kid to the doctor's office, too.

- Bring your own toys to occupy your kids in the waiting room. The toys in the waiting room are a germ cesspool. Also avoid toys and books once you are back in the exam room, too.

- If your child is compliant, have them hang out in their stroller while you wait to be called back to the exam room. This will help them to avoid germs on waiting room chairs.

- Try to get at least two chairs between you and someone who is coughing and sneezing. Flu droplets can travel!

- Avoid using bathrooms at the doctor’s office if possible. These bathrooms are packed full of germs.

I know germs are everywhere and your kids can pick up illnesses anywhere you go, but these tips will help you protect your kids as much as you can.

Here’s to a safe and healthy winter!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Play It Safe on Halloween!

Halloween is right around the corner, and our ghosts and ghouls are brimming with excitement about trick-or-treating!

What are some ways you can keep your little pumpkins safe this Hallows’ Eve? Check out some safety tips below.

- Never allow your child to trick-or-treat alone. Always walk in groups and have a responsible adult with your group.

- Use reflective tape on your costumes and shoes so drivers see your children.

- Always face away from traffic. Use sidewalks when possible, or stay on the far edge of the road when sidewalks are not available.

- Only allow your children to eat packaged candy from stores. Avoid homemade goods. Inspect all your children’s candy before they eat it.

- Do not walk near decorative luminaries with an open flame. Your child’s costume could catch fire.

- Ensure your kids’ costumes are not too long to avoid tripping and that their shoes are comfortable so they don’t get blisters from walking around so much.

- Stay close to home. Try to trick-or-treat at your neighbors houses. Avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods.

- When someone opens the door for your trick-or-treaters, make sure they know to stay on the porch. Never let your child go inside someone’s house.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Keeping It Clean…Organizing Your Kid’s Toys

Both of our kids have fall birthdays and each birthday means new TOYS! This delights our kids to no end…and if I am honest, it makes this stay-at-home mom happy, too, because it means new toys to enjoy with the kiddos.

All the new birthday toys have prompted us to clean out our playroom and “toy stash,” and it’s coming at a perfect time since the holidays are right around the corner. It seems like such an overwhelming task to accomplish, but with these tips below, I think it will go smoothly this year!

- Use clear bins to house similar toys. Cars go with cars, dolls go with dolls, etc. This will make finding toys and cleaning them up much easier.

- Avoid duplicate toys. Children do not need two stacking rings or two musical keyboards. Consider donating duplicate toys to goodwill. This will help you declutter your toy areas

- Always put toy bins at eye-level and within reach of the kids. This way, they can find the toys they are looking for easily, and they can also put the bins away when they are done playing. This will teach your children the importance of cleaning up after themselves.

- Consider using photo or pictures to label bins when your kids are younger. Pictures will help small children know where to put certain toys when it is time to clean up. When your kids are older and can read, use labels with words to mark your bins. This will help them to learn how to spell new words while keeping your play areas tidy.

- When organizing your toys, think about what your kids play with the most often. Put those toys out in your play areas and when you sense your child is tiring of them, put them back in a closet or in storage and bring out different toys. Rotating your toys will make old toys feel new again.

- Consider donating the toys not used very often to charity or goodwill. This is an excellent way to instill the spirit of giving to your children.

Good luck cleaning out your toys this year. Here’s to staying organized the rest of the year and into 2011! I'm off to a good start...I just put all my daughter's Barbie gear in clear bins with labels. It's funny how the small things in life can make you feel accomplished!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sleep Positioners- Read This Warning

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are urging parents and caregivers to stop using sleep positioners.

A sleep positioner is a product used to keep babies on their backs while sleeping. These products are marketed as an aid to help with food digestion and reflux, ease colic, and prevent flat head syndrome. Sleep positioners are also marketed as a way to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death syndrome (SIDS) by keeping babies on their backs.

There have been more than 12 reports over the past 13 years of infants (between the ages of one and four months old) who have died when they suffocated in a sleep positioner. In some of these instances, the babies died when they became trapped between the sleep positioner and the side of the crib or bassinet.

"In most instances, these products provide no real benefit and the risk of harm when they are used is significantly greater," said FDA deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein.

Parents need to remember that the safest way to put a baby to sleep in a crib is for the crib to only have a mattress and a tight-fitting sheet. Also, babies should always be placed on their backs.

According to these organizations, parents should stop using sleep positioners or any device to hold an infant on his or her back or side for sleep. These are unnecessary and can pose a suffocation risk to your baby.

For more information on the CPSC and the FDA’s warning, please click here.

We at Pure and Honest Kids like to try to stay abreast on safety issues involving children's products. As we continue to learn more about this issue, we will share it with our readers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Football season is upon us, and down in the south where I'm from, going to a college football game is a typical Saturday activity. When your family expands with little ones, does that mean you need to give up sporting events all together until the kids are older? Definitely not! Here are some tips on how to survive game day with kids.

- Check with the stadium ahead of time about rules on bag sizes, strollers and cameras (you have to capture little one’s first football game, right?) There would be nothing worse than being told in the ticket line that your diaper bag is too big and cannot be taken into the game or that strollers are not allowed.

- Speaking of diaper bags, stock yours with extra diapers or undies, a change of clothes and lots of wipes! This will have you covered if your child has an accident during the game.

- Food and drinks are a must! Plan on feeding your child (either a snack or a meal) during the game. Check ahead of time what foods and drinks are available at the stadium to determine if you need to pack your own snacks or if you can buy food at the game. Also check on the rules of bringing your own food into the game. You may be able to get away with food and snacks for toddlers and babies. Eating always allows kids to happily pass the time and will hopefully help you stay longer at the game.

- One personal tip…we took our kids to a football game last weekend and brought our travel high chair for our one year-old. He happily ate lunch and snack strapped to the stadium’s bench in his travel chair. This was key to lasting as long as we did at the game. And it was a much better alternative to holding him the entire game!

- Pick up any promotional items being passed out at the beginning of the game. It is (free) entertainment (our four year-old loved playing with the pom-poms most of the game) and a great souvenir to take home to remember your fun day.

- Consider the noise level of the game before you go. Do you think the cheering, bands and fireworks might scare your kids? If so, pack ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones to drown out some of the sound for them, not to mention, protect their hearing.

- Be flexible. Understand up front that you more than likely won’t make it through the whole game. Look at the game as an adventure and however long you make it is a success. Also be willing to walk around the stadium with toddlers who don’t want to be held for long periods of time.

- Be mindful of the weather. If it is blazing hot, bring sunscreen for your kids (and yourself!)Have them drink plenty of water throughout the game. If it is going to be cold, bring warm coats and even a stadium blanket. Protect your kids from the elements as much as possible.
- Don’t forget your sanitizing wipes! Wash their hands with the wipes frequently, and even consider wiping down the bench before you sit down if the seats look grungy.

- Change diapers right before you go into the game. Sometimes the diaper changing stations inside stadiums are less than favorable.

Are you feeling brave enough to try to root on your favorite team next weekend? If so, head to the stadium and have a great time! Give us your tips, too, on what worked/didn’t work for you at the next home game.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Getting Your Kids Ready for School- How To Beat the Morning Madness

Do you ever feel like you are running a race against the clock in the mornings? I know I do, and my daughter only goes to preschool three mornings a week! So many moms I have talked to recently feel like no matter what time they start getting their kids ready for school in the mornings, they are always running late and feeling frazzled.

How can we make the mornings run more smoothly and make the start to school days more peaceful for everyone? Here are some tips below to help manage the morning madness!

1. Do as much as you can the night before.
You can pre-pack your kids’ lunches, lay out their backpacks, and even layout their school clothes the night before school. The more you do ahead of time, the less hectic your mornings will be. If your child is particularly opinionated about what they wear, include them in the decision the night before when laying out their school clothes. Let your child know in advance that changing his or her mind the next morning is not an option.

2. Have a designated place for all “school-related” items, such as backpacks, library books, homework, notes to teachers and lunch boxes.
It will save you time in the morning so you are not scrambling to find what your child needs to take to school that day.

3. Wake up earlier than your kids.
Even if it is just by fifteen minutes, I know the mornings I rise before my kids and have a cup of coffee in solitude, I am more prepared to deal with the hurriedness of the morning time. You won’t feel as frantic and stressed out if you get that alone time. (Remember that kids can sense when you feel stressed out.)

4. Have a morning routine.
Create a morning routine and stick to it. If your kids know they have to brush their teeth, wash their face and make their bed every morning in the same order, they will less likely fight you on it and do it in a more timely manner.

5. If your child is sluggish most mornings, consider moving up their bedtime earlier.
When children constantly drag their feet in the morning and have trouble getting out of bed or sleepwalk through their morning routine, this is a good indication they are not getting enough sleep. Consider moving up your child’s bedtime by 30 minutes for a week and see if it makes a difference in the mornings. Keep moving their bedtime up week by week until you see an improvement in your child’s energy level in the mornings. You’d be surprised by how many children do not get enough sleep at night!

Here’s hoping your mornings become more peaceful and less stressed! Speaking of…I’m off to pack lunch and lay out school clothes!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Talk of the Town: What Are You Going To Be For Halloween?

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was shopping the other day and Halloween gear was already in the stores! Can you believe it?

It’s hard to not get in the spirit of Halloween when all the stores are brimming with pumpkins, candies and costumes! So of course, my almost four year-old daughter discusses daily what she wants to be for Halloween, and it’s not even October yet! She has decided she wants to “coordinate” with her one year-old brother and dress up together (how sweet?!?!), so it got me thinking…what are some dynamic duos the kiddos could be for Halloween this year?

Here are my favorite brother and sister costumes I’ve found so far…feel free to leave in the comments section some of your favorite “couples” ideas for Halloween. Good luck finding the perfect Halloween costume for your kiddos this year!

1. Little Miss Muffet and her Spider

2. Little Bo Peep and her Sheep

3. Mickey and Minnie Mouse

4. Dorothy and The Cowardly Lion

5. Little Mermaid and Sebastian

6. Elmo and Abby Cadabby

7. Cowgirl and her Pony

8. Dora and Boots

9. Cookies and Milk

10. Tinker Bell and Peter Pan

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Packing Lunch for Little Ones!

My daughter starts preschool next week, and this means I will be packing a lunch for her three times a week. (Her wonderful preschool includes lunchtime!)
No big deal, right?

Well, I am a little nervous about running out of ideas and being “that parent” who packs the same thing every day, especially since it is a peanut-free school. (No peanut butter?!?! What will my daughter eat?!?!)

Luckily, there are so many wonderful resources on the Internet to help you when making lunch for your kids this year. Here are some alternatives to the ho-hum turkey and cheese sandwich that are both healthy and delicious!

- Cream cheese “tea sandwich”
- Roll-ups (deli slice of ham or turkey with cheese rolled up together)
- Whole grain bagel with cream cheese
- Pasta salad
- Fruit salad
- Baby carrots with vegetable dip
- Vegetable soup (in an insulated thermos or container)
- Granola
- Mini-muffins
- Hummus with baked tortilla chips or vegetables
- Dried fruit bars
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Cheese cubes
- Ham and cream cheese pinwheel sandwiches
- Fruit kabobs (make sure the stick holding the fruit together is not too pointy)

(Also parents…this article on back-to-school lunch and snacks is a must-read. I can’t believe 98 percent of children fail to meet the five core food groups each day. Yowza!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Clearance Sale- Don't Miss It!

Pure and Honest Kids is having its best sale of the year...the clearance sale! From now until August 29, you can take an additional 30 percent off all clearance sale items. Just use the code BIGSALE when you check out.

Clearance sale items are up to 80 percent off. These deals won't last long, so check it out today! Happy shopping!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Empty Threats?!?!

I recently read an article on a website called "Mom Logic" about a mother who gave her son an empty threat while on an airplane. She basically said, "If you don't stay seated and calm down, I'm going to ring the flight attendant's call button and get the flight attendant to take you away."

Okay parents...confession time! How many of you out there have given an empty threat to your kids? Have you ever threatened something you knew you could never follow through with? (I am raising my hand over here, too!) Why do parents do this?

I think we get so flustered and stressed sometimes that we say things we don't mean or that will never come to fruition in hopes of stopping an unfavorable behavior.

Here are a few examples of empty threats parents may sometimes give their children:

- "If you don't hurry up and get ready for school, I'm going to leave you." (Hello, child services! You can't actually leave your young child alone.)

- "If you don't pick up your toys, I am going to give them all to goodwill." (Seriously?)

- "If you don't stop throwing the ball at your brother, I'm going to throw your ball away in the trash can." (Most parents would not want to deal with the meltdown that would occur from actually throwing the ball away in the trash can. By the way, this one happened at my house recently. My husband said it and I suggested he follow through with it. It wasn't pretty.)

A parent that makes these kinds of threats has lost control and their children are winning! Kids are perceptive. They quickly begin to understand that you are not going to follow through with your threat, so why should they modify their behavior?

When you make ultimatums that you cannot carry through with, you undermine your authority as a parent. So next time you are trying to discipline your child, remember you are in control! Make discipline choices that fit the crime and that you can actually follow through with.

You are the are in control. You are the are in control. Keep chanting this to yourself until you actually believe it!

Have you given a funny empty threat lately? Leave it in the comment section below.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Too Hot, Too Fast: Signs your Kids Could Be Dehydrated

Where we live, it is hotter than hot this summer. When I walk outside, I am full-on sweating before I even reach my car. My almost four year-old, who usually does not complain about rain, sleet, snow or heat, even said to me today, “Mommy, it’s too hot to play outside today.”

The summer sun can be ruthless, so it’s important to recognize the early signs of dehydration and other heat-related illnesses. Children are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, because their bodies do not get rid of heat as efficiently as adults' bodies do. Check out these tips below on how to keep your kids from reaching the point of too much sun, and not enough water.

- When kids begin to complain with thirst or feeling hot while playing outside, or just seem irritable in the heat, they may have early dehydration. Get them out of the sun immediately and find a cool spot to sit and relax. Push fluids as well (water or sports drinks with electrolytes are best.)

- If you know your child has been outside in the heat and is experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible: few or no tears when crying, eyes that look sunken in the head, lack of urine or wet diapers, headache, extreme fatigue, dizziness or altered mental state.

- Encourage your child to drink water before, during and after outside activities when it is a hot day.

- Avoid giving your kids fruit juices, sodas and other caffeinated beverages when playing outside in the heat. These types of drinks can actually make dehydration occur more quickly.

- Find shady spots outside to take breaks from playing. Have your kids drink fluids every 20-30 minutes, or even more often if they ask for it.

- When playing in the heat, dress your children in loose, light colored clothing.

- Whatever you do, do not leave your children alone in a hot car, even for a few minutes.

Play it safe in the sun by staying cool and hydrated the rest of the summer!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Snacking

It’s so easy when the kids are out of school and on summer vacation to become lax in eating healthy. Ready to get summer snacking back on track? Check out these delicious (and healthy) snack ideas that moms and kids alike can agree on.

- Cheese: The protein in this kid-friendly snack will help your kids stay on the go all day long! There are so many variations you can do with cheese, such as cheese and crackers, string cheese and cheese and fruit kabobs. The possibilities are endless!

- Peanut Butter: For a dose of protein and fiber, turn to peanut butter, a favorite food for so many kids. Peanut butter and crackers, as well as peanut butter and apples slices, will satisfy your children and give them a nutritious snack to tide them over until dinner.

- Yogurt: Low fat yogurt is a delicious and healthy snack for your kids, and also an excellent source of calcium. To amp up the nutritional value even more, pair the yogurt with fruit or granola.

- Sweet potatoes: Before you skip over this one, hear me out! Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables around. This vegetable is packed with vitamin A, and is also a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C and folate. Whip up some yummy sweet potato chips in lieu of store-bought chips, and both kids and moms will be happy campers.

- Hummus: Kids love to dip their foods, and hummus is one of the healthiest (and most delicious) dips around! Serve hummus with low-fat pita chips, salt-free crackers or vegetables for a tasty treat. Not only will your kids enjoy it, but they will also get a dose of folate, vitamin B6 and iron.

For more snack ideas, check out this article from, entitled, “The 20 Best Snack Ideas.” It will have you and your kids back on track in no time to eating healthier snacks this summer season.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Car Travel with Baby!

My family is embarking on a six hour car ride this weekend to spend time with friends from college. I have no worries about my three-and-a-half year old (she will be happy to watch movies, eat snacks, and play games), but the thought of crossing the state line with my 10 month-old breaks me out in a cold sweat. Needless to say, he is not the best car traveler in the world.

I have been doing my research on how to conquer car travel with a baby, and here are 10 tips I came across that I thought might help make our trip more successful. Here’s hoping it all goes well! If you have any additional car travel tips, leave them in the comments section!

1. First things first…plan to travel at your baby’s best time. This may mean you leave at nap time or bed time, so choose your departure time accordingly. (This is only if your baby sleeps well in the car. Your baby may be like mine and only take cat caps in the car, so there is no “best time” to travel!)

2. Plan a few breaks in travel so your baby is not strapped in his or her car seat for long periods of time. The longer your baby is in the car seat, the fussier he or she may become. Remember, it is not a race when traveling with a baby. Take your time and you will all be happier for it.

3. Pack plenty of toys for the trip. New ones or forgotten favorites will likely keep your little one occupied for longer periods of time over toys he plays with every day.

4. Also pack baby-friendly music, plenty of snacks and drinks, and books to read to your baby on the road.

5. Have a well-stocked diaper bag with everything you need for diaper changes. Don’t forget a change of clothes in case it’s a major diaper blow out! Make this bag easily accessible so you don’t have to dig it out under suitcases.

6. Never take a baby out of the car seat when the car is in motion. Always pull the car over if you need to change a diaper or if the baby gets extremely fussy.

7. Tape brightly colored pictures to the back of the seat your baby will be facing. This gives them something cheerful to look at and may keep their attention longer. If you have a car mirror, you can put that on the back of the seat, too.

8. Put up window shade screens in your car to protect your baby from the sun. Sun shades will also prevent your baby from getting too hot.

9. Keep a lookout on your GPS for baby-friendly places to stop. Your little one might like to go for a swing or walk around a playground, so don’t be afraid to stop at a playground and wear your little one out! This might also help your baby take a good nap in the car for the second leg of the trip.

10. Finally, don’t have your travel plans set in stone. If your goal is to make it to a certain city without stopping, but your baby is very fussy, make an unscheduled stop. If you sense your baby needs a change of scenery, instead of eating in the car as you planned, stop at a restaurant and let the baby see something besides in the inside of your car. The more flexible you are, the happier everyone will be while traveling!

Good luck with your summer travels!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beat the Heat this Summer!

Where we live, temperatures have been circling around 100 degrees and it is too hot to take the kids outside to play (unless it involves water.) In order to beat the summer heat, sometimes you have to get creative! Check out our top 10 ways to enjoy summer without melting away in the hot sun.

1. See a “dollar movie” or a free movie at a local cinema. Many theaters have a free summer kids program, too. Check out your local theater web sites for information on kids movie programs this summer.

2. Attend “story time” at your local library. Your kids will love hearing new stories, singing songs, and you can also check out some books while you are there!

3. Declare a board game day. Enjoy some family time by playing board games together in the cool air conditioning!

4. Set up your very own water park in the backyard. Have baby pools, slip-n-slides, and sprinklers going at the same time and enjoy watching your little ones run around outside while staying cool.

5. Make your own homemade ice cream. Your kids will love churning the ice cream maker, and will enjoy eating your cold treat even more!

6. Set your kids up with some (clean) paint brushes and water buckets and let them paint the town…literally! Your kids can “paint” the house, walkway, bikes, fence and porch! Throw some soap and wash rags in the mix, and you can have your very own car wash, too.

7. Host an arts-n-crafts extravaganza and invite your kids’ friends! Stock up on arts-n-crafts…crayons, markers, paper, glue, scissors, molding clay, and anything else that your kids can use to create a masterpiece. Watch your kids and their friends create beautiful artwork, and then hang their creations up on a bulletin board, refrigerator or clothes line to display for the week.

8. Throw a “pretend party.” Have your kids put on party clothes from the dress-up bin and then have the kids decorate for the party, as well as make simple, yummy snacks for the pretend party. You’ll be surprised how much fun they will have and how this one idea can take up a whole afternoon!

9. Encourage your children to write (or just make-up) a play. Have them make tickets for the play to sell to the audience (you and their favorite stuffed animals), create a stage with blankets, sheets or towels, and put together wardrobes for the “cast” from your dress-up bin. Then sit back and watch as your favorite stars put on a show for you!

10. Make homemade play dough together. It’s very easy to do and your kids will love playing with it afterwards.

All of these ideas will hopefully help you keep your kids busy and cool this summer. Good luck beating the heat!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Baby Talk

Do you ever wish you could communicate with your baby? Decipher his or her cries? Know what it is that they really want versus playing a guessing game? Well, according to Pricilla Dunstan, a Sydney, Australia mom who was born with a rare photographic memory for sounds, "all babies, regardless of race or culture, make the same sounds." She spent two years working with babies around the world and soon found a pattern in the way they cried.

Someone has finally cracked the code on how to decipher the wants and needs of newborn babies!

Dunstan found that all babies have five “words” to communicate their needs. These words are actually reflexes that occur automatically during the first three months whenever your baby needs to eat, sleep, be burped or is uncomfortable. If you can learn to recognize these sounds and respond to them, your baby will cry less, settle more easily, and have more uninterrupted sleep. WOW is all I have to say! Why didn't I know this information when my kids were newborns?

Here are the five words your newborn will say, what they mean, and how to react: (Source: Just the Facts, Baby)

1. Neh means “I’m hungry.”

When your baby is hungry, she will say "neh" or "nah." According to Dunstan, you are listening for the "n" part of the sound. She also said that "neh" is the easiest to hear when your baby is in the pre-cry phase before she starts screaming. As soon as your infant begins to cry, listen for the "neh" sound to determine if she needs to be fed.

2. Owh means “I’m tired.”

Dunstan said this sound is created when sound is added to the yawn reflex. Your baby’s mouth will also be oval shape while they are saying: “owh.” This means it’s night-night time!

3. Eh mean “I need to be burped.”

This sound is produced when muscles in the infant’s chest tighten and sound is added. Start burping your infant whenever you hear “eh.” Dunstan said you will know when to stop burping your baby because she will stop saying “eh.”

4. Eairh means “Give me some relief.”

"Eairh" means your baby has gas. Respond when you hear "eairh" by doing an infant massage technique used to relive gas pains.

5. Heh means “I’m uncomfortable.”

When your baby says, "heh," it could mean he or she is hot, cold or needs to change positions. Do what you can to make your baby feel at ease.

Now you can better communicate with your newborn! This information may bring into your home more peace, more happiness, and more sleep!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

By what age should a child express happiness?

All parents want to know that there child is healthy and developing as they should be. With so much discussion in the media about autism, many parents look for signs of autism in their children earlier and earlier than we once did even 10 years ago. One sign a lot of parents look for is the expression of emotions. Moms and dads begin to wonder, “At what age should my child be able to express happiness?”

According to Pediatric Services, the first ”real” smile usually develops sometime between 8 and 12 weeks, and it accompanied by sweet “coos” and crinkling, smiling eyes. And as most parents can attest, there is nothing sweeter than getting that first gummy grin.

The next big milestone in your baby's ability to express happiness is the first laugh, which usually happens at around 4 months of age. Physical sensations, such as tummy kisses or swinging your baby in the air, will elicit these wonderful shrieks of laughter.

As your baby get older, more subtle forms of comedy will make your baby laugh out loud. Exaggerated voices, playing “peek-a-boo,” and making a toy come to life might make your little one howl with laughter.

Every baby is different, and there is a wide spectrum of behavior considered normal in the social and emotional developmental areas. However, for peace of mind, if your baby has not hit these milestones mentioned above, make an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss any concerns you may have.

Remember, not being able to express happiness is not the only sign of possible autism. There are many other signs to look for such as poor eye contact, resists cuddling and holding, prefers playing alone, and unusually sensitive to light, sound, or touch, but oblivious to pain. There are many other signs of autism as well, and you can see a comprehensive list on the Autism Speaks Web site.

A great chart to help you know what your child should be doing not only socially and emotionally, but physically as well can be found here at the Child Care Aware Web site. This chart also shows you what your child should master and by what age in regards to language, small motor and cognitive skills.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Peer Pressure- How To Deal With It

No one is immune to peer pressure. From preschool age to adults, we all at some point have been influenced by our peers, either negatively or positively. It becomes more prevalent in the preteen and teen years because this is the time in life when children begin to spend more time with their peers and less time with their parents. Kids begin to look to their friends for acceptance at this age. Before your child enters this phase in life, it’s important you equip them with the proper tools and knowledge to deal with peer pressure.

- Tell your kids about peer pressure.
Explain to your kids that their friends will more than likely try to peer pressure them at some point and that they need to be prepared for these situations. For instance, you could say to your child, “At some point, one of your friends may ask you to cut school or drink alcohol, and it’s important that you say no and don’t do it just because others are doing it. Be your own person.” Then you can tell them a story about when you were peer pressured as a kid. It's comforting for a child to know that you have experienced what they are going through and it may make them more comfortable coming to you for advice when they feel peer pressured.

- Always be your child’s advocate and bail them out.
Tell your child that no matter what situation they find themselves in, you will always be there for them and bail them out. For example, if they need a ride late at night or if they feel uncomfortable in a situation and need a way out of it, tell your kids you will always be there for them, no questions asked. This will build trust and hopefully teach your child to reach out to you if they find themselves in a dangerous or troublesome situation.

- Get to know your child’s friends.
The more you know about your child’s friends, the more you know what you are up against. If your child is hanging out with kids with high morals, there may be less to worry about. If you know your child is hanging out with the wrong crowd, then you need to police your child’s whereabouts and know where your child is and who they are with at all times.

Get to know their friends’ parents, too, so you have a network of adults to help you keep tabs on what your kids are doing.

- Pick your battles.
It is inevitable that you and your preteen/teen will not agree on everything. However, if you nitpick and fight over small issues, such as what they chose to wear every day or a certain hairstyle they decide to try, your child may tune you out when it comes to the big stuff. If your child needs to rebel, let it be the things that won’t harm them or get them in trouble.

- Help your child avoid troublesome situations.
If your child wants to attend a party where there is no adult supervision, or wants to be alone with a boyfriend or girlfriend, tell your child it is not a good idea, be firm, and stick to your guns. Being in situations where trouble is likely to occur sets your child up to experience peer pressure, and it may lead to him or her doing something they regret.

- Encourage your kids to get involved in positive activities.
Encourage your kids to get involved in positive activities such as sports, volunteering, or youth clubs. The more positive social outlets your child has in their lives, the bigger chance your child will find friends that are encouraging and a good influence. Finding safe environments for your kids to grow and learn is essential to combating peer pressure.

Sources: Saltz, Dr. Gail. “Preteens and Peer Pressure: How to Help Your Kids Avoid Negative Influences From Friends.” Today MSNBC. September 10, 2009. Web. May 27, 2010.

“Peer Pressure.” Web. May 27, 2010.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Internet Safety: Keeping Your Kids Safe on the Internet

Back in the day, when it was time to work on a school project, I would dust off my trusty set of encyclopedias or cozy up to a desk in the library and use reference books. Nowadays, students have a wonderful resource…the Internet!
The Internet is chalked full of information on any and all subjects. There is no better learning tool around. But with great access to information also comes great danger. There are many Web sites with harmful information readily available for children to view. How do we keep our kids safe while surfing the Internet?

First off, we should warn our children about the dangers of the Internet, especially chat rooms and social networking sites where not everyone is who they seem. Dangerous strangers your kids meet online could coax them into meeting in person. Also, teach your children not to give out any personal information on the Internet to anyone.

Beyond that, there are many tips on how to keep your children safe on the Internet:

- Keep the computer screen in plain view so your kids know there is always the possibility someone can see what they are searching for on the Internet.

- Keep tabs on what your child is viewing through your browsing history. If the browsing history is deleted for some reason, investigate why.

- Share an e-mail account with your child or know your child’s password so you can monitor messages being sent to and from your child.

- Bookmark your child’s favorite sites so they don’t accidentally go to a harmful Web site. (For instance, your child may be typing in “Legos” but accidentally searches for “legs” instead and they are taken to pornographic Web site.)

- Forbid your child from entering private chat rooms; block them with safety features provided by your Internet service provider or with special filtering software. Also consider using filtering software to limit the Web sites your children can access.

- If your child belongs to a social networking site, such as Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace, monitor what your child is posting. Talk to them about putting only appropriate information on these sites.

Remember, monitoring your child’s Internet activity is not a violation of your child’s privacy. It is your responsibility as a parent to keep your child safe.

For more information on how to keep your child safe while surfing the Internet, be sure to check out the iKeepSafe Web site. It has valuable tips and information for parent s and children on Internet safety.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How Much Should My Child Weigh?

Do you ever wonder if your baby weighs enough? Too much? Do you worry about how your little one compares in size to others his or her age? I know this is a topic many parents fret about because it is one of the most highly searched topics on the Internet in regards to raising children.

There are many factors that influence a child’s height and weight, such as, genetics, gender, nutrition, physical activity, health problems, environment, and hormones. And all of these factors are different for each child.

Just remember, like adults, children have different body types, too, so no single number on the scales is the right weight for everyone. It’s also important to remember that among children the same height and age, some are more muscular or more developed than others.

If you think your child has gained too much weight or is too thin, the best thing to do is make an appointment with your pediatrician. Your doctor will help you determine if your child has a weight problem. Since your doctor has measured your child's height and weight on a regular basis, he will know whether your child’s growth is proceeding normally.

Check out this very informative article from Kid’s Health Web site. Did you know that all kids are not measured on the same growth chart? I did not. Girls and boys are measured on different growth charts because they grow in different patterns and at different rates. Looks like I need to stop comparing my son’s measurements to my daughter’s measurements at the same age!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flying with a Baby and Living to Tell About It

One of my closest friends, Jessica, who now lives in London with her husband and their sweet 8 month-old baby girl, just made the long trek across the pond to visit friends and family in the United States. Her traveling adventure got me wondering, “How in the world do you travel that far with a baby?!?!”

Luckily, Jessica had done her research on how to survive air travel with a little one and picked up some great tips. I decided to do a little research myself so I’ll be ready the next time we need to travel by air.

• Make sure you book your flight for the right time. Take your baby’s schedule into consideration and see if you can plan your trip for your baby’s sleepiest time.

• Book a seat on the aisle. You will have access to move around easier in case your baby becomes fussy or if you need to change a diaper.

• Check to see if your airline allows you to pre-book a baby bassinet (sky cot) before you travel.

• Board the plane first and get off the plane last to get a better chance of assistance from cabin crew.

• Bring everything you think you'll need -- and then pack extra! That way, you will be prepared in case there is a flight delay. Pack extra diapers, clothes, food (solids and/or formula if you are not breastfeeding) and snacks.

• Bring an extra shirt for yourself, too. No one wants to sit on a long flight with baby spit-up on them!

• Disposable bibs are a great idea for mealtimes on board an airplane.

• Bring toys out one by one in order to ensure get maximum use of each toy. Once your baby tires of one toy, put it away, and get out another one.

• Ask for 'bulkhead' seats. They have much more legroom, and there is a small space for your baby to sit and play. It is also a great area for you to stand and rock your baby without disturbing other passengers.

• During take-off and landing, the change in air pressure might hurt your baby’s ears. This is a great time to feed a baby (either breast or bottle) or have your baby suck on a pacifier. Both feeding a baby and sucking on a pacifier will make your baby swallow, thus alleviating pressure in his or her ears.

Happy flying! We hope your flight with baby is a success. Please share your own air travel tips when flying with babies in the comments section below.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

When Should I Give My Child a Cell Phone?

Do you ever cringe when you see kids walking around the mall with a cell phone attached to their ears? I know I do, but it got me wondering, when do parents give their children cell phones nowadays?

Maybe I have an inaccurate view of what is considered a normal time frame for a child to receive a cell phone. I didn’t receive my first cell phone until I got my driver’s license, and even then, my first cell phone was only programmed for calling out in case of emergencies! I didn’t truly get a fully functioning cell phone until I was a junior in college.

I see my neighbor, who is 11-years-old with a cell phone nicer than mine and wonder, "Why in the world does she have a cell phone?"

I did some research and found some interesting statistics on children and cell phone usage, such as:

- According to the Center on Media and Child Health Web site, 54 percent of 8-to 12-year-olds will have a cell phone in the next three years.

- According to, cell phones are the number one form of communication for teens.

- Teens text more than they talk; the average text rate per month is 2,272 texts.

So how do you know when your child is ready for a cell phone? Some things to consider:

- How independent is your child?

- Do they need to be in touch for safety reasons or purely social reasons?

- How responsible is your child? Do they understand the concept of minutes and the costs associated with abusing cell phones?

- Can you trust your child not to use the cell phone during class and to not use the text, photo or video functions inappropriately?

It’s a different world than the one I grew up in, so I can see where a cell phone can be a valuable safety device for kids.

Here are a few pros for giving your child a cell phone:

- A child can contact you in case of emergency at all times.

- When a child is participating in activities where the parent drops them off (such as soccer practice, etc.) the child can call his or her parents if practice ends early or late.

- During a school crisis or tragedy, your child’s cell phone may be the only means of getting in touch with you so you know they are okay.

But like I said earlier, it is a different world than the one I grew up in, and kids have to deal with cyber bullying, sexting, and embarrassing video and picture distribution on cell phones.

There are many cons for kids having cell phones, such as:

- Cell phones encourage kids to text and overspend with their cell phone plans. This can be costly to you.

- Cell phones can be a distraction from homework, school, and much needed recreation.

- Children become too reliant on technology to communication with peers. Instead of learning proper social interaction through play and personal contact, kids are relying more and more on technology to further their relationships with friends.

- Cell phones allow your children a portal to the Internet, making it harder to keep tabs on what Web sites your child is visiting and who is contacting your children.

- Humiliating texts, photos, and videos captured on phones can be sent instantly or uploaded to Web sites.

There is so much information to process when trying to decide when your child needs a cell phone. I have come to the conclusion it is dependent upon your family’s situation. If you work away from the home, and if your child will be home alone or elsewhere without parental supervision, then a cell phone may be appropriate for a younger child. However, for me and my family’s situation, I think I am going to stick to when my child gets her driver’s license. Worked for me, right? Thankfully, I have many, many years before I even need to ponder this decision! And who knows that the factors will be by then?

Check out these articles about cell phone usage and children for more facts and figures.

Where do you stand when it comes to the great cell phone debate?

When did you give your child a cell phone? Post it in the comments section below.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Can I Help My Child Deal with a Bully?

In light of the recent Phoebe Prince bully case highlighted on the cover of this week’s People magazine, many of our P&H Kids blog readers may be wondering, “How can I help my child deal with a bully?” Unfortunately, in national surveys, most kids and teenagers say that bullying occurs at their school, so how can we help out kids deal with these unsettling situations?

We certainly don’t have all the answers but here are a few tips and resources on how to help your child deal with bullies at school.

• Make it clear that it is NOT your child’s fault they are being bullied.

• Never tell your child to ignore the bullying because this makes it seem insignificant to you. To your child, being bullied may affect every aspect of their days so you don’t want it to seem unimportant. Offer comfort and support if your child tells you they feel bullied by a peer.

• Praise your child for telling you they have been bullied. This takes a lot of courage.

• Encourage your child to tell an adult they trust when the bullying occurs. Reiterate that this is not “telling” on the bully. Tell your child they have a right to feel safe at school and by getting help, they can make the bullying stop.

• Learn as much as you can about the bullying incidents. Ask who was involved, what happened, were there any other adults around to witness the bullying, and how often it occurs. The more you know, the more you can help.

• Do not encourage retaliation towards bullies. This will usually result in your child being disciplined at school as well.

• As a parent, it is important to keep your anger in check when your child is being bullied. Be as rational as possible and stick to the facts of the bullying incident. Do not act on emotion.

• Work with your child’s school to see what policies are in place with bullying issues at school.

• Encourage your child to get together with friends that build up their confidence and that are good influences.

Here are some resources for helping your child deal with bullies.

MSN ‘s Kids Health: Helping Kids Deal with Bullies


My Child’s Safety

Stop Bullying Now

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Car Safety- When Can Your Child Ride in the Front Seat of a Car

A sad but true fact: Car crashes are the number one cause of death and serious injury for children. To keep our kids as safe as possible in cars, have them ride in the backseat of the car for as long as possible. Why you ask? Riding in the front simply isn’t as safe as riding in the back.

According to, children 12 and under should ride in the backseat of a car, but many passenger safety organizations recommend going even further by keeping your child in the backseat until your child is ready to get their drivers license.

Check out these statistics from BabyCenter about car safety:

- Buckling a child into the backseat instead of the front reduces by a third his risk of death in a collision.

- In a head-on crash (the most common and deadly type of collision), a child in the front seat is more likely to be thrown into your car's dashboard or through the windshield.

- Even if your child is properly buckled in, he's at much greater risk for being harmed by objects intruding into the car in the front than in the back.

- In cars with passenger air bags (which includes most newer models), the air bags deploy with such force that they can cause severe head and neck injuries to a child. Nationwide, more than a hundred children have been killed by air bags in recent years, and many of these deaths were in slow-speed collisions that should have been minor.

Not convinced yet? Read this editorial on MSN. I don’t know about you, but my kids will stay in the back for years and years to come.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dealing with Food Allergies at School- How to Keep Your Child Safe

Sending your child to kindergarten or preschool for the first time is nerve-wracking enough, but when your child has food allergies, it’s even scarier. Parents with food-allergic children have many worries and concerns such as, “Will teachers know what to do if my child has a reaction at school” and “Will the parents of my child’s classmates be understanding of my child’s allergy?

Because food allergies are so common these days (more than 3 million U.S. students have food allergies), schools are growing more and more adept at how to safely deal with children with food allergies. In fact, most schools have a food allergy management policy. But what are some things you can do as a parent to try to keep your child safe at school? By working with the school’s administration and directly with your child and your child’s teacher, these are some tips to help your child stays safe:

- Make sure your child knows his or her own food allergies. If they are too young to retain this information, have your child wear a medical bracelet with his or her food allergy information on it.

- Make sure you fill out any forms asking about food allergies as thoroughly as possible. Because some classrooms are quite crowed and teachers might not know your child right away, put a picture with the food allergy forms so your teacher will immediately put a face with the allergy information.

- Tour your child’s school before the beginning of the school year and meet with both the school’s administration and your child’s teachers to discuss your child’s allergy and allergy-triggers. Also meet with any other adults that might care for your child during the school day, such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teachers of special classes, such as music, art or physical education, and of course, the school nurse. You never know where a food allergy might occur!

- Have your child’s allergist write out clear, specific information on your child’s allergy, instructions on how to recognize an allergic reaction, and what to do should one occur.

- Let your child’s teacher and the school administration know that you want to work with them to keep your child safe at school and that you wish to minimize the disruption in the classroom.
- Teach your child how to say “no thank you” when offered food not given from home. Also teach your child to not do “food trading” during lunch or snack.

There are so many other valuable tips on how to deal with food allergies in the school system. A few Web sites to check out are:

What are some tips you have on how to deal with food allergies at school? Please leave your tips in the comments section. We can all learn from each other!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Important Safety Messages Regarding Slings

Due to recent press about the Consumer Product Safety Commission's investigation about three infant deaths last year associated with sling-style infant carriers, we wanted to share with our customers the following information from companies whose slings we carry at Pure and Honest Kids.

Both Serena & Lily and ERGOBaby wish to let our customers know that babywearing is very beneficial for nurturing infants and for the emotional development of babies and toddlers. However, it is imperative for parents to follow all safety instructions and to use correct positioning when babywearing.

Both Serena & Lily and ERGOBaby ensure its compliance with safety regulations for all of their products.

For more safety information from Serena & Lily, please click on the following link, and then select the Important Safety Warning link.

For more safety information from ERGOBaby, please click here.

Your child's safety is our number one priority at Pure and Honest Kids. We will report any findings we discover on all safety issues regarding children and the products they use.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Slings Are All The Rage....

I have thoroughly enjoyed “wearing” my baby (i.e. using a baby carrier) since he was born. With my first child, we used a stroller everywhere we went, but this time around, I love having my little buddy right in front of me.

Slinging my baby frees me up tremendously…I have my hands available to assist my toddler when she needs my help, and it also gives me more mobility to get things done around the house. And as it turns out, I am not the only one who is enjoying one of the oldest and most widely accepted parental practices in the world.

An article in the New York Times entitled, “The Latest in Strollers? Mom and Dad,” discusses how many parents are dumping their strollers in favor of wearing their little one in a baby carrier or sling.

The article states that between 2006 and 2008, overall sales of industry-certified carriers rose 43 percent, and is now a $21.5 million dollar industry. That’s a lot of baby carriers!

You may be wondering why so many people are choosing to carry their baby in a sling or carrier? Well, there are many wonderful benefits to babywearing! Many highly acclaimed pediatricians have identified that babywearing is a good practice for babies and provides benefits that unslinged babies do not receive. Research has shown that:

- Babies who are carried in slings cry at least 40 percent less than those babies who are unslinged.

- Babywearing can help reduce colic in infants.

- Babies worn in slings show more alertness, both visual and auditory, and absorb information much quicker.

- Because your baby is close to you when worn in a sling, he or she is not scared by loud noises, thus allowing them to absorb more sights and sounds around them.

- Babywearing also helps promote speech development, as babies are exposed to more conversations and sounds when held closely to their parents.

- Using a baby sling or carrier can simply make life easier for you and your baby. It is a convenient way to breastfeed while caring for an older child, working or getting chores done around the house. It also is a great way to snuggle babies that liked to be held frequently, but it frees your hands to complete other tasks.

Are you going to join Team Babywearing? Or are you still Team Stroller? Or are you like me and think they both have a place in your life? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Celebrating Baby Number Two!

More and more second time moms are having baby showers to celebrate the newest addition to the family, but often times, they don't know if they should register or what they should register for. It's all in what you feel comfortable doing, and if there are items you need to make the transition from one to two children easier, I say go for it...register away!

But...since many of your guests may have given you a gift when you were pregnant with your first child, focus on the essentials when registering for your second baby. Some items to consider registering for are:

- Diapers
- Wipes
- Gift Cards
- Daddy Diaper bag
- Burp cloths
- Bibs
- Double Stroller (Perhaps family members will pool together to get you this big item.)

Consider registering for a few outfits, too. If your second baby is a different gender than your first child, gender specific clothes are always very fun, and very necessary! Even if the gender is the same, new clothes are always a great gift idea since baby clothes become worn out so easily.

If you still feel uncomfortable about having a good ol' fashion baby shower thrown for you for your second child, there are other ways to celebrate your pregnancy. You could suggest to your gracious hosts to hold a specific themed shower, such as a book shower (guests bring children's books to build your baby's library), a diaper shower, or a frozen meal shower. All of these shower ideas would mean less expensive gifts that your guests would have to give, but all are very useful. Or you could simply have a "Baby Bash" where your friends and family come to a party in your honor, but no gifts are given.

Expanding your family is an exciting time...enjoy celebrating your new baby!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Napping is Necessary!

My baby has (luckily) been a good napper from the beginning, but after a recent ear infection, he has been off his nap schedule for about a week now. Not having those long, restorative naps has made my little guy a little off kilter. (It made me off kilter, too! I need those down times as well.)

Being off schedule this week made me realize how important those naps are...not only do they rejuvenate moms and babies, but according to a new study from the University of Arizona in Tuscon, babies learn better when they nap within four hours of learning something new.

The study shows that babies who are able to take a daytime nap are more likely to exhibit an advanced level of learning known as abstraction. Abstraction is a level of learning where the brain detects patterns of new information.

One of the researchers of this study, Lynn Nadel, stated that babies should get some sleep within a reasonable amount of time after learning new information. If a baby doesn't sleep within four to eight hours of learning new information, they most likely will lose everything they just learned.

So what does this mean, parents? It is important to stimulate your baby with reading, talking, playing and other stimuli, but these stimuli need to happen within a timeframe that includes adequate sleep.

Interesting, huh? Nap schedules are important for your little one's disposition and for their learning, too!

For more information on the nap study, click here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Teething Is the Pits....

My little guy got his first tooth last week…at five-and-a-half months old! I forgot how hard teething can be on both babies and parents! Long, sleepless nights and fussy, irritable babies make teething one of the hardest parts of raising your baby for some parents.

Here are some ways to cope with the inevitable milestone in your little ones life…teething!

• Look for signs of teething. Excessive drool and cramming anything and everything in their mouths are sure signs that a baby is teething. Other signs of teething include swollen gums, sleep issues, and biting behavior. If you know your baby is teething, you can sympathise with them during this trying time.

• Wipe your baby’s mouth and face often when they drool. This will prevent what is known as “drool rash’ from appearing on their mouth, chin, and cheeks.

• Give your baby something to chew on, such as a teething toy or a frozen wet washcloth. Make sure it is big enough to where your baby cannot choke on it, and that it also cannot break into little pieces.

• One way to soothe your baby while teething is to rub his or her gums. Make sure your fingers are clean before you put your fingers in the baby’s mouth.

• If you baby is eating solids, sometimes cold foods, such as chilled applesauce or pears feels good on your baby’s gums and is a good remedy for teething.

• If all else fails, give your baby Infant Tylenol. Before giving your child Infant Tylenol, always check with your pediatrician first.

Teething is the pits, but remember it does end...eventually!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cabin Fever Got You Down?

Our household was recently blessed with some awesome winter weather, and the whole family enjoyed sledding, eating snow cream, and making snowmen! However…after a weekend of winter bliss, we were plagued with days of closed schools, cabin fever, and cold, wet rain.

Are you feeling the effects of winter in your household? Cabin fever got you down?
What are some ways you can combat the winter blues? Here are a list of ideas on how to make the not-so-great indoors become fun for the whole family.

- Have a movie date with your kids, complete with popcorn and treats! Create a comfy atmosphere with pillows, sleeping bags and blankets and curl up and enjoy the show!

- Host a game day and invite neighborhood kids over to compete against one another. Play Candy Land, Monopoly, Uno, and other family friendly board games and card games all day long…you and the kids will love the competition and camaraderie!

- Put together puzzles as a family. You can do this over an extended period of time. Once you finish a puzzle, it’s time to pull out another one and start again! Always have a puzzle out for family members to work on during times it’s too cold to go outside.

- Stock up on arts and crafts supplies. Before winter weather heads your way, stock up on fun crafts you can do with your kids. Glue, crayons, scissors, glitter, foam shapes, stickers and paper are sure to create hours of fun for your little ones!

- Cook with your kids! Everyone loves to eat when you are snowed in, so make preparing the meals a family affair! Have everyone join in making warm soups, delicious baked goods and yummy comfort foods.

Being snowed in with your family can be a wonderful bonding experience. Enjoy the time together and when cabin fever starts to creep in, use your creativity to make your time at home fun for the whole family!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Losing the Baby Weight...Again

How do celebrities lose their baby weight so quickly?

Lately, there have been so many magazine covers touting new celebrity moms who lost their baby weight in record time, and their baby isn’t even three-months-old yet! It took me more than a year to lose all the baby weight after my first daughter was born.

After the arrival of my son, the weight is coming off quicker, but I still have those last pesky 10 pounds that I would like to lose pronto. I don’t want to celebrate my son’s first birthday with this extra weight, so what can I do to lose the baby weight…again?

Here are some tips I found when researching how to lose baby weight!

- Find time to exercise.
“Duh”, you may be thinking…so simple, yet so true. With two kids and a husband who travels quite a bit, finding my way to a gym is not so easy. My goal is to find ways to exercise that works for my family, such as taking walks with the kids (outside on nice days, and inside at the mall on cold, rainy days). I can also utilize nap times and work out in the living room with my Wii Fit or an exercise DVD while the kids are sleeping. Finding time to exercise will make a difference in your day, as well as a difference in your mental and physical health.

- Have healthy snacks readily available.
It is so easy to eat what’s left on your toddler’s plate, or to hit up a drive-thru restaurant on your way to pick up your oldest from preschool, but resist. Have nourishing snacks near you at all times. Put some nutritious snacks in your purse and in your pantry in plain sight. Grab for those wholesome snacks that will satisfy your hunger. Some great grab-and-go healthy snacks are: edamame, baby carrots, string cheese and rice cakes.

- Drink more water!
If you drink a glass of water before each meal, it will make you feel fuller, making you eat less. Also, if you are nursing, make sure to drink a glass of water during each feeding as well.

- Set a fitness goal.
I find that if I set a goal to work towards, it will actually happen. For me, that would mean working towards running a race or working out a certain amount of days a week. When you reach your fitness goal, reward yourself with a special treat, such as new running shoes or a pedicure!

- Delay, delay, delay!
If you are feeling hungry, drink a glass of water and wait fifteen minutes to see if you are still hungry. Often times, moms mistake thirst for hunger. Also, at the end of a meal, instead of rushing to get seconds, drink a glass of water and decide if you are still hungry. Taking a break from eating will allow you to figure out if you are indeed full and satisfied.

Check out this article from for more weight loss secrets. It has 18 great tips on how to lose the baby weight for good from real moms!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A New Adventure: Making My Own Baby Food!

My son is just starting solids, and this time around, I decided to try to make my own baby food. When my daughter was a baby, I found the idea of making her baby food at home overwhelming, so we never attempted it. I feel more confidant in my abilities the second time around, so we are going to give it a try!

Why make your own baby food, you may ask? For me, I thought it would be fresher, healthier, easier and more economical in the long run. Instead of buying prepackaged foods, your baby can eventually eat what the rest of the family is eating. Also, because you selected the organic foods yourself, you know exactly what is going into their little tummies.

Here are some tips on how to make your own baby food.

- Get the tools you will need to make the baby food ahead of time. You will need some sort of blender to puree your baby’s foods. A regular kitchen blender or food processor will do, or you can opt to get a baby food maker, such as the Beaba Babycook from Williams-Sonoma (there are other baby food makers out on the market as well.) You may also need to purchase storage containers and ice cube trays to use for freezing extra portions.

- Select the freshest fruits and vegetables you can find. Organic produce is best, but you will have to be mindful to use them in a timely manner, usually within a day or two. You want your baby to eat as organically as possible to ensure pesticide-free and additive-free baby foods.

- Label your freezer packages with what the food is and the date it was made. Baby food can be stored for up to three months, so put the freshest foods in the back of the freezer and use the older foods first.

- To avoid wasting the baby foods you have prepared, only thaw our small portions to heat up and serve. Once you have thawed out baby food, it cannot be refrozen. Also, do not save any baby food that is leftover after a feeding because once your baby’s saliva has touched the food (via the baby spoon), bacteria can grow in the food.

- Play with the textures and tastes of your baby’s foods. Because you are able to puree the foods and mix the foods to suit the taste buds of your baby, transitioning to table foods will be much less stressful.
- Do not add any salt, pepper, seasoning, butter or spices to your baby food. Your baby’s digestive system is not ready for that yet!

If you decide to make your own baby food…good luck and have fun with it! Post some of your favorite baby food recipes in the comments section below. If making your own baby food if overwhelming to you, remember that your local grocery stores more than likely carry organic baby food brands, such as Gerber Organics, Earth’s Best, Happy Baby Foods, and Natures One.