Archive for the ‘ Solutions ’ Category

Learning Apps Get the Disney Treatment

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Disney knows you’re searching the App Store for educational games for your kids, and trying to tell the good-quality from the waste-of-time is rough to say the least. (We know, we looked at a ton for our 70 Best Apps for Families.) Today Disney unveiled ambitious plans to pair their stories and animation with strong learning content; the first of some 30 Imagicademy apps will launch on December 11.

The search for “joyful learning that kids don’t run away from,” as Andrew Sugarman, executive vice president of Disney Publishing Worldwide, puts it, is universal these days. This generation is screen-savvy and ready to learn as long as we capture and keep their attention. To that end, the math app, the first one out, features games like “put the sleepwalking alien to bed” that cleverly build in number order along the way. Another activity in the app has a baby robot building a sandcastle, working in number sense by first asking the child to draw a numeral on the touchscreen, then having that number of balls of sand appear, then counting them out and assembling a castle with that number of spires. (A mischievous child can then gleefully destroy the sandcastle. It’s all part of staying engaged!)

This first Imagicademy math app will hit the sweet spot of ages 3 to 5, children in Pre-K and Kindergarten. A creative arts app will roll out in January, followed by a Frozen-themed science app in March and reading with Doc McStuffins in April or May. By 2016, Imagicademy apps will stretch from ages 3 to 8.

One final note: Parents will be able to download our own app, and receive push notifications about what a child is doing in the Imagicademy world. You can then send your child a virtual high-five or at least be able to give them concrete feedback, such as “I like that rocketship you built,” rather than having to always ask, “What are you doing on there?”

 

Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children

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Shop Healthy — With Affordable Prices

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Thrive MarketGrocery shopping can be such a dreaded task. For most parents, you either have to open up your wallet and shell out big bucks for healthy foods, or get over your guilt of buying less-expensive foods that aren’t as healthy.

The founders of Thrive Market know your struggles, and they have crafted a pretty smart solution. They’re offering more than 2,500 of the most popular non-perishable products from trusted brands like Tom’s of Maine, Annie’s Homegrown, and Gerber.

For $59.99 a year (about $4.99 a month), members gain access to their favorite healthy food, beauty, and cleaning brands at 25-50% off their regular retail price. New members get a 30-day free trial and 15% off of their first order when registering. The founders of Thrive consider their business model “Whole Foods meets Costco.” They told us that their goal is to democratize access to healthy living because, after all, why shouldn’t products like these be available to all families?

Members have the option of shopping in categories such as paleo, vegan, gluten-free, Healthy Mom. You can also search by ingredients, such as GMO-free, peanut-free, and pesticide-free or by environmental/social standards like cruelty-free, made by a family-owned business, and locally sourced.

So how deeply discounted are Thrive’s prices? A 6-ounce box of Annie’s Homegrown Shells and White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese is ordinarily $2.65, but on Thrive Market it’s $1.75. Tom’s of Main Fluoride-Free Antiplaque and Whitening Toothpaste sells for $5.99, but Thrive Market gives it to you for 34% off at $3.95. (Note that you can’t see the discounted prices until you register for the service.)

Here’s what I really like: Thrive Market donates one membership to a deserving family for every membership purchased. So, not only are you taking care of your family, but also you are helping a family in need.

Image courtesy of Thrive Market

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How to Raise Healthy Eaters

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Kids and VegetablesWe all want to raise nutrition-smart kids, but where do you begin? Does a kindergartner need to know the difference between organic and processed foods? Aren’t babies just supposed to have breastmilk? And what about toddlers? Can we get them to do anything?

The good news is parents don’t need to go it alone in the quest for a healthier lifestyle. Local programs like The New York Foundling in New York City can help provide nutritional guidance.

“At The New York Foundling we empower our families by educating them on easy ways to incorporate healthy eating and the importance of nutrition,” said Bethany Lampland, COO, The New York Foundling. “We believe this is the most important step in enabling smart choices for years to come.”

To celebrate Nutritional Awareness Month, The New York Foundling’s Carlye Waxman, RD, CDN offers her tips on how and when to introduce healthy nutrition at different stages of a child’s life. And if you’re making feeding mistakes, don’t worry. There are easy fixes.

Prenatal: During pregnancy babies need vitamins, minerals and nutrients to develop properly. Get enough calcium by having 4 servings of dairy per day. Easy ways to do this – start your day with a yogurt (non-Greek has more calcium), have skim or low-fat milk as a snack, add cheese in your sandwich and have low-fat ice cream for dessert.

Babies: When your baby is around 6 months old, he or she can have more variety than just formula or breast milk. Introduce yogurt and cheese for necessary fat and calcium. Vegetables are important at this stage as well, not just for the nutrients they provide, but to encourage children eat their vegetables in the future. Be sure to introduce only one new food every few days to check for allergic reactions or intolerances.

Toddlers: Trying new foods may be a challenge if your toddler is choosy. Don’t force a new food if your child won’t accept it, but do try several times and don’t give up. Your child is also following your example, so eating healthy foods yourself will help him learn without even knowing it.

Kindergarten: This is the time to start involving your child in meal planning. Take her to the grocery store and ask her which vegetable she wants with dinner (present her with two or three options so she don’t get too confused). Serve foods that the rest of the family is eating as much as possible so they can learn by example. Don’t use desserts as a tool for children to eat their vegetables at this stage, or they may start to think of vegetables as bad or boring and simply a means to get to the real “delicious” foods after.

Tweens: The old adage is true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It can influence test scores and help increase learning throughout the day. If you’re on-the-go a simple breakfast can include a slice of whole grain toast, low-fat milk with cereal and a banana. For mornings that you can prepare foods, try making oatmeal with low-fat milk. Buy plain uncooked oats and sweeten them yourself with natural sweeteners such as fruit and honey.

Kids of All Ages:  Routinely have dinners at home as a family. Dinners together provide a balance of home-cooked nutrients, and serve as a time to talk about the day, the food or the meal prepared. Aim to include three things in your meal: a lean protein, a whole grain starch and a plethora of vegetables. Children will learn what constitutes a balanced, filling meal and take that knowledge with them as they grow up.

Take a look at our Food & Recipe Guide for healthy (and delicious!) recipe ideas.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Happy Kid with vegetables and fruits sitting at the table via ShutterStock

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Magic Tricks with the Magic Eraser

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

While working on 23 Clean Discoveries, our April issue’s ultimate spring-cleaning guide, I polled Parents staffers about their favorite tidy-up tools. By a landslide the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser was crowned everyone’s not-so-secret weapon. It may be an old standby for removing crayon murals from walls, but we discovered 17 other genius ways to put it to work. Test our editors’ and readers’ tricks: just wet the foam with water, wring it out, and get scrubbing!

 

  1. Shine shoes in a pinch, when you don’t have polish. (Julie Taraska, Shop Parents Editor)
  2. Lift food dye and paint from quartz countertops—that’s no mean feat! (Lisa Milbrand, Contributing Editor)
  3. Lightly buff hardwood floors to remove permanent marker without stripping the finish. (Gail O’Connor, Senior Editor)
  4. Rub-off shoe marks on floorboards and stairs in five minutes. (Karen Snyder Duke, Associate Editor)
  5. Remove dirt and fingerprints that collect around light switches. (Dana Points, Editor-in-Chief)
  6. Polish kitchen cabinet doors. (Chandra Turner, Executive Editor)
  7. Keep a white-topped stove in pristine condition. (Jessica Hartshorn, Senior Lifestyle Editor)
  8. Dissolve soap scum from textured, non-slip surfaces like bathtubs. (Laura Fenton, Lifestyle Director)
  9. Touch-up computer keyboards and electrical cords. (Amy Roberts, Contributing Writer)
  10. Scrub stains, spills, and scuffs from hard-to-clean tile floors. (Maryn Liles, Associate Editor)
  11. Get rid of adhesive gunk leftover from price tags, stickers, labels, and tape. (Rheanna O’Neil Bellomo, Editorial Assistant)
  12. Cut 1-inch strips for your toilet tank to keep it fresh and remove hard water stains without scrubbing—just don’t flush them! (Syndi Shoff via Facebook)
  13. Wipe away marks on vinyl siding (and campers!) that the power-washer can’t. (Marcia Workman via Facebook)
  14. Buff the plastic and painted parts of your car to mask small dings and scratches. (Keri Evangelista via Facebook)
  15. Take ink out of leather couches and car seats. (Erin Ford Weiss via Facebook)
  16. Swipe along shutter-style blinds and shades. (Ami McBride via Facebook)
  17. Get grime off the fish tank and its accessories—gently and chemical-free! (Melissa Rodriguez via Facebook)

For more help with spring cleaning, check out our room-by-room guides:

Download the Easy Chore Chart to get your kids in on the cleaning action.

Spring Cleaning With Kids!
Spring Cleaning With Kids!
Spring Cleaning With Kids!

All ideas submitted have been edited and condensed. 

Image: Gloved hand cleaning crayon via Shutterstock

 

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23 Spring Cleaning Secrets Revealed

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

A recent Parents poll shows most moms spend 15 hours or more each week sponging, scrubbing, sweeping, and vacuuming. To help slash that time, we enlisted the help of our editors, as well as cleaning experts, to deliver clever tricks and products for every room in your home.

In December, I sent 22 editors home with more than 30 of the latest and greatest cleaning supplies on the market. I assigned everyone a mission and they each went home to dutifully vacuum pet hair from carpeting, scour bathroom grout, steam hardwood and tile floors, wash windows, and scrub stoves—hey, we’re not above manual labor! Every sponge, brush, vacuum, and scum-busting solution was put to the test and if our real moms and dads weren’t impressed, we cut it from our list.

To see which products shined, check out our room-by-room guide to spring cleaning:

Your Kitchen
The room that’s the heart of the home is also its most mess-prone. Food prep plus eating is a recipe for sticky counters, gritty floors, and crud everywhere else. Here’s how to cut kitchen cleaning time in half:


Your Living Room and Bedroom
These spaces have a lot in common: soft, comfy furniture, plush carpeting, and personal clutter. They also share the cleaning challenges of upholstery stains, dirty carpeting, and dust. Use our tips for tricky messes:


Your Bathroom
Make the place where your family gets clean spotless. Tackle soap scum, mildew, stained grout, and more:


Find The Best Vacuum for You
We tested the latest vacuums to find the right tools for your home’s carpet, tile, and wood. Find out which is right for your family:

 

Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
Household Chores During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?

 

Which family space do you need the most help keeping tidy? Let us know in the comments!


Image: Dad and daughter vacuuming by Stephanie Rausser

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How to Drink Your Vegetables

Monday, March 10th, 2014

VanTrang Manges - Green MustacheYour kids happily eat plenty of vegetables. They look forward to lettuce, zero in on kale, and beg for broccoli. Right?

Ha.

Chances are, they don’t. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a four-year-old child should eat 1 1/2 cups of veggies a day. That can be a tall order especially when you have picky eaters on your hands.

Enter NYC mom of two VanTrang Manges. VanTrang began experimenting with green drinks for her youngest daughter when she realized that the toddler ate virtually no vegetables. One delicious drink led to another and VanTrang abandoned a career in finance to launch Green Mustache, a line of organic fruit and vegetable juice smoothies for kids. Green Mustache features three yummy flavors and is currently sold throughout the New York area.

If you can’t find Green Mustache at a store near you, or if you simply wish to DIY it, VanTrang shared with us a simple formula for blending up one of these nutritious drinks at home.

Start by enlisting your kids to help choose ingredients from each of these categories:

Smoothies are an easy way for kids to eat fruit and veggies.First, pick one of these for your base:

  • Almond milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  • Low-fat cow’s milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Orange juice
  • Water

Next, choose a green veg:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collards

Then, pick a fruit (or two or three):

  • Banana
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Pineapple
  • Apple

Finally, supercharge it with one of these power foods:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Chia seeds
  • Nut butter
  • Raw cacao
  • Spirulina

Then simply blend it all together!
More smoothie tips from VanTrang:

Make It a Family Activity: Allow your child to choose which ingredients she would like to try mixing together—experimenting with different combinations is part of the fun! And this simple formula is a great way to start teaching children about proportions and how to follow a recipe.

Color is Key: Use berries to help turn your smoothie a reddish or purple color, which might make it more visually appealing for your child. Or use lighter-colored ingredients like peaches, bananas, and mango for a paler shade of green.

Choose Dark Leafy Greens: Dark leafy greens contain high-quality amino acids, important minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and beneficial phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant-based chemicals that support your immune system, improve health and longevity, and may reduce life-threatening diseases.

Freezer Fun:  Keep some frozen fruits on hand, especially some of your favorite seasonal fruits to ensure that you can have your tasty smoothie anytime. Freezing fruits is also a great way to not waste ripe fruit. If you like your smoothies extra cold like we do, use at least one frozen fruit to help chill the smoothie. And of course, you can turn your smoothie into an ice pop and serve it to the kiddos as a healthy treat!

Smoothie Sweetness: You’ll notice we didn’t add any sweeteners to the smoothie formula. Using fruits like bananas, mangos, or apples will naturally sweeten your smoothie and help mask the “green” taste of the veggies.

2+2+3 Rule: Part of the fun of making smoothies is experimenting with all the different possible flavor combinations. But keep in mind the following proportions to ensure a tastier experience: 2 cups greens + 2 cups liquid base + 3 cups fruits. Adjust as needed to make it more palatable for your child.

Thanks for the tips VanTrang!

Find more easy smoothie recipes.

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How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

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A Keychain That Detects Dirty Diapers? You Better Believe It!

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Not long after Huggies Brazil introduced the world to the TweetPee, another device is garnering attention in the wet-diapers-detection industry.

Engineer Eric Schuh, based in Michigan, developed a USB-looking keychain that lights up if a diaper is wet. The user just places the sensor up to the diaper and a light turns on if it senses wet fabric. Yep, it’s that simple.

According to the demonstration video, the device works through a fully-clothed child, as well. Say goodbye to these days of undressing your bundled-up child or waking up your sleeping baby.

Schuh placed the model up for auction on Kickstarter on Jan. 21 asking for $500 to get the project off the ground. To date, more than $5,500 has already been pledge and bidding is still open through Feb. 20. An individual device is going for $12 and expected delivery is between February and March. Schuh did note one setback though: he hasn’t been able to experiment on all forms of diaper-clothing combos.

As dirty diaper detection technology becomes available, is this something you’d invest in? Tell us in the comment section below.

Keep up with all the latest tips and tricks during different stages of your child’s life with our As They Grow newsletter.

How to Change a Diaper
How to Change a Diaper
How to Change a Diaper

Image: Baby crawling and playing with pile of diaper via Shuttertock

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The 2014 Newbery and Caldecott Medal Winners: Kate DiCamillo and Brian Floca

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo; Locomotive by Brian FlocaThe American Library Association announced the winners of its two highest literary honors: the Newbery Medal (for distinguished writing) and the Caldecott Medal (for outstanding artwork).

Well-known children’s book author (and recently chosen ambassador for children’s literature) Kate DiCamillo was awarded the Newbery for Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, an illustrated novel about a tween who befriends a squirrel with superpowers. DiCamillo also won the Newbery in 2004 for The Tale of Despereux, a story about a mouse who yearns to become a knight. Her book Because of Winn-Dixie was also chosen as a Newbery runner-up in 2000.

For his illustrations in Locomotive, Brian Floca was awarded the Caldecott Medal. His book features a family of three taking their first trip (from Omaha to Sacramento) on the newly-finished Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Floca’s book was chosen as one of the 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2013 by the New York Times and the Top 10 Children’s Books of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal.

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