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Your Child ’ Category
Saturday, June 22nd, 2013
I’ve noticed that expectant parents pour oh-so-much thought into what kind of stroller to buy, and usually some hundreds of dollars into buying it, and then a year later want to ditch it for a lightweight stroller anyway. That big “first stroller” is a lifesaver when you have a tiny infant to move around, but as soon as your kid is sturdy enough to sit in a smaller stroller, that scaled-down piece of gear can save you a lot of hassle.
Our June issue of American Baby has a lightweight stroller guide. These are sometimes also called “umbrella strollers” because they fold up pretty small and are easy to carry. Note that we don’t show any of the under-$50 models that are more or less a sling of fabric on wheels. Those can be okay for short outings with preschoolers, but if your child is still 2 or under, I recommend something that can recline back, that has a basket to hold your stuff, and that has a canopy to keep the sun away.
Breaking news: Zulily has a sale starting June 22 on BeBeLove strollers that does include an umbrella stroller that reclines and has a canopy for a crazy $28! It’s this little blue number here. I seriously don’t think you can find a better bargain than that!
Enjoy summer outings with your baby!
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Friday, June 21st, 2013
Today marks the first official day of summer. It is also Summer Learning Day, a day dedicated to making sure kids keep up with their academic goals even when school is not in session.
Growing up, summer was my favorite time of year. I was fortunate enough to go to camp, travel, and hang out by the poolside. However, come fall, I would dread the first day of school because I had forgotten a good amount of what I had learned the year before. I was an avid reader regardless of whether school was in session, but my math skills went out the window once Memorial Day came around.
Luckily, there are now more ways than ever to keep your child’s mind churning during these school-free months. If you’re not sure where to get started, PBS Kids has already launched several summer learning resources. True to it’s mission, the network is offering TV programming that is both educational and fun. Weekly themes include Sesame Street’s “Literary Quest Week” and Arthur’s “Sports Week.” PBS Kids is providing ways to encourage learning beyond the silver screen as well. If your child loves playing on your smartphone, retire Angry Birds for a bit and try the new PBS Kids “room” in the Apple store instead. This “room” is a page curated with (free and paid) educational apps that are worth exploring with your child.
Many kids want to spend much of their break outdoors, and there are plenty of ways to maximize that time as well. Try introducing your active learner to a jump rope spelling game. After dinner, transform your patio into the set of Jeopardy: Kids Summer Edition with fun trivia games.
Planning on logging some miles in the family van this summer? If your children don’t get motion sickness, you might be able to keep them occupied in the back seat with a book or two. And before you hit the road, create an easy interactive chalkboard map with your kids so they can learn where they’re going.
Whatever you do with your family this summer, make sure you set aside some time to help your kids avoid brain drain. Happy learning!
Image: Schoolchildren painting, via legnenda/Shutterstock
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Thursday, June 20th, 2013
You know who sleeps well? A newborn, as demonstrated by my niece, below. When you’re one day old, what else are you going to do?
But as a mom of two, I know that this new baby is going to wake up and want to party like all of them do. And for that, my Bro and his wife are going to need strategies. Here are some from Cloud b (a company that focuses on products for baby’s sleep) that I agree with completely:
* You need a routine. If you do the same things night after night in the same order, eventually it signals sleep to a kid. Your routine can be bath/nursing/song/swaddle/lights out, or any variation, it’s just the consistency that matters.
* Swaddling helps most newborns. Not all, but most! It makes them feel like they’re still in the womb, and keeps them from waking themselves if they involuntarily startle.
* Noise helps nearly every infant. They are not used to the sound of silence because the womb is noisy 24/7 thanks to mom’s whooshing blood. A white-noise device helps babies feel at home.
I’d also add that babies need to be put down awake so they settle themselves to sleep. I failed miserably at this; I nursed each of my babies to sleep and then carefully laid them down conked out, and let’s just say it didn’t do anyone any favors. I finally read Have a Great Sleeper, from Parents magazine advisor Dr. Harvey Karp, and now I get that I should have rocked them gently awake after laying them down, so they could resettle themselves in those first few minutes. It’s such good advice. Have any of you tried this and had it work?
And if any of you are struggling with sleep issues, Cloud b may be able to rescue you with a Sleep-Well package valued at more than $100. One lucky person who comments below will win the Cloud b Tranquil Turtle (which shines soothing dots of lights on the ceiling and plays sea sounds), Sleep Sheep, shown above (a great white-noise device), a Lullabag for safe sleep since you never want a blanket in the crib, and Twinkles to Go Octo, so you even have a soother for vacation. Leave a comment below, up to one a day between now and the end of the day on Wednesday, June 26th. We’ll pick one lucky commenter at random to win. Here are the official rules. Goody luck!
Congratulations to out winner Roxanne Winkleman!
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Friday, June 14th, 2013
My brother, due to become a first-time father this month, got one baby item that is his and his alone: A Steelers diaper bag. He’s pretty psyched to carry it. And I’m a little jealous!
We’re a football family but, this being baseball season, I want to give an shout-out to one of my favorite dad-inspired companies, Diaper Dude, which just debuted a Major League Baseball line. Getting Dad a diaper bag that he likes not only makes him a part of the whole “nesting” phenomenon, it helps ensure that he’ll actually take the baby on outings without you. In other words, it’s pretty key!
And you know, you can totally take one of these bags to a ballgame long after your baby is out of diapers.
I’m just going to have to ask the Diaper Dude owner, Chris Pegula, shown here with two of his kids, why I’m not seeing the Pirates as one of the team choices. Hey! We’re not all from LA or NY!
What’s your favorite baseball team? Leave a comment below, up to one a day between now and the end of the day on Thursday, June 20th, and you can win a Diaper Dude MLB bag, worth $78. If you win, you can pick your team! (Though you may be limited to the ones they show on their site.) Because our comments below use Facebook technology, you’re going to want to check your “other” Facebook message folder on June 21st to see if you’ve won. I’ve included a picture of what it looks like; it’s the gray word “other” next to your message inbox. We’ll also try and post the winner’s name as a comment to help you all out. Here’s where you can read all the official rules. Goody luck!
Congratulations to our winners Tiffany Sugranes and Holly Marie Nace!
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Thursday, June 13th, 2013
Want your kid to eat broccoli and brussel sprouts? Paul Lindley, a British father of two, created Ella’s Kitchen in 2006 to do just that. His goal was to encourage his daughter to explore new foods and, hopefully, banish picky-ness. The organic baby food creator just released The Cookbook: The Red One, which just might get your kids to like their veggies, too.
Q: Why did you write this cookbook?
A: Involving children with cooking and food at an early age can help shape their future relationships with food. The Cook Book: The Red One features fun ideas and creative activities that allow little ones to experience healthy foods outside of mealtimes, from getting creative with vegetable prints to playing at a “Cool Kiddie Café.” We offer ways for children to learn more about fruit and vegetables using all their senses, to help them develop healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.
Q: What is Ella’s Kitchen? What products do you offer and how did you get started?
A: I launched Ella’s Kitchen in 2006 to help babies and toddlers enjoy eating healthy food. I had an understanding of what makes children tick from being a parent myself, as well as from my experience working at Nickelodeon.
I was inspired to set up Ella’s Kitchen by my own experiences in weaning Ella. I passionately believe that all kids should have the opportunity to discover that healthy food can be fun, tasty, and cool.
At Ella’s Kitchen we believe that little ones eat using all of their senses, and therefore it was important for us to produce foods that not only taste great, but are bright, tactile and fun. We always approach healthy eating from a child’s perspective and take simple, natural ingredients to create foods and packaging that really connect with kids and their parents – helping them through the entire weaning process.
Q: There is a large element for children in this book. The illustrations are playful and fun and there are drawings to color. Why was this important to include?
A: We always approach everything we do from a child’s perspective and our cookbook is no different. The book is for the whole family and the easy instructions, clever shortcuts and fun activities allow little ones to engage with healthy foods outside of mealtimes. It’s all about getting children hands-on and messy in the kitchen from a young age.
Q: Why is organic, fresh, and homemade so important to you?
A: Organic food is better because it comes from carefully monitored sources with high standards in quality but habits—both good and bad—are formed in the earliest years of a child’s life. It’s crucial to start a healthy diet from a young age. Develop healthy eating habits by getting your little one involved in food; let her help during the cooking process and make yummy homemade dishes together.
Q: How and why did you get into food and cooking?
A: I’ve always loved cooking. Even as a child of 6 years-old, I used to help my mum make surprise birthday cakes! Then when Ella was born, I—like any parent—struggled at times to get her to eat certain foods. So I designed games to make mealtime fun. In our home, meals have always been messy, noisy, interactive events. The whole family enjoys the experience of creating dishes together. Sitting down to enjoy them always makes me smile.
Q: Your personal inspiration came from your children, Ella and Paddy. Did they help in the creation of the book? Did they create any recipes?
A: Two of the recipes in the new cookbook are my family’s own, including Ella’s Dad’s Sweet + Sour Prawns and Ella’s Mum’s Easy Chicken Curry. We first made the chicken curry when Ella was just three years old and she’s loved it ever since, as it’s mild, sweet and creamy. Ella and Paddy were involved in tasting lots of recipes when we were experimenting with ideas!
Q: Ella, now 13, wrote the book’s Foreword and has been in the kitchen since age 4. Does she have goals to pursue cooking professionally in the future?
A: Ella’s favorite school subject is Food Technology, so you never know! At this stage in her life she’s busy having fun with her friends. All we wish is that when she grows up, she does something that she’s passionate about and believes in.
Q: Your recipes are family-friendly, but some have unexpected flavor combos—do you have certain chefs or books that you look to? Where do you find culinary inspiration?
A: The inspiration for our recipes came in lots of different forms; from real mums and dads, friends and family, and our ever-so-clever recipe developer Emma Jane Frost. Our team of nutritionists selected and approved every recipe to ensure that kids have balanced meals to help them grow.
Q: You have tips on preventing picky-ness, but what advice do you give parents who already have picky eaters?
A: Help your kids use all of their senses when exploring new foods—this will teach them to love healthy food from the start! The key is to be patient and persistent. Little ones have three times as many taste buds as adults, which leads to a taste intensity of up to 10 times that of an adult. As a result, both sweet and bitter tastes are exaggerated, often leading to immediate rejection of brussel sprouts and broccoli. It can take 10 separate experiences of a new taste before it’s accepted, so don’t give up after the first couple of times! Keep going and your little one will eat up their vegetables in no time.
Q: Growing up, who did most of the cooking in your family? What was a typical weeknight meal like?
A: I grew up in Sheffield, England and it was my mum who did most of the cooking. Her crispy Yorkshire puddings were a big favourite in our house – whether filled with sausages and gravy during the week or as part of a family roast with meat and loads of veg at the weekend. I can still hear the crunch they made when I close my eyes now!
Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be and why?
A: It’d have to be my mum’s Yorkshire puddings now that it’s in my mind – Mmmm! There are so many different things to fill them with that I’d never get bored. Ella and Paddy love them too and I’m sure we’d have fun experimenting with new things to put in them!
Q: What other important things should our readers know about you or the book?
A: At Ella’s we always try to look at life from a child’s point of view: with an open mind and with all our senses. My strong belief is that the more a young child is involved with his or her food, whether that’s choosing it, preparing it, playing with it or eating it independently—the more likely he or she is to give it a try and go on to enjoy it!
Interview has been condensed and edited.
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Babies, Food, GoodyBlog
Friday, June 7th, 2013
Even when you want to eat more healthy food as a family, it can feel like an uphill battle. There is so much “kid food” available everywhere, and our children are served snacks and sweets at school, friend’s houses, and soccer games. The new e-book, Bite This! Your Family Can Escape the Junk Food Jungle and Obesity Epidemic, was written by Haim Handwerker, Eileen Katz, and Katherine Weber, who met at their children’s school and discovered that they shared a similar desire to return to “real food.” Even if you have chicken fingers in your freezer (like I do), the authors will inspire you to realize that making smarter choices is easier than you think.
Check out the ideas for throwing together simple meals and snacks from an inventory of healthy basics like rotisserie chicken, plain yogurt, quinoa, eggs (“the new black”), chick peas and spaghetti squash. The book (only $2.99 for Kindle, Nook, iBook, and PDF) has attitude, and the authors want you to get one too. It urges you to be informed, be engaged, be intentional, and persevere.
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Friday, June 7th, 2013
Does your child’s room have a theme? Often we start out theming a baby’s room, and then as he or she grows, it becomes a bit of a hodge-podge of whatever they’re into at the moment. My daughter’s room started out red and flowery but then grew pink as she went through her pink phase, and now it looks like an American Girl store exploded into a stuffed-animal emporium. My son’s room had a transportation theme originally, but now he’s put Star Wars stickers all over one wall and pictures of penguins on another. And graffiti on the closet. Sigh.
What I need is a weekend to devote to cleaning/organizing/painting and yes, giving a real “look” to each of their rooms. Maybe it will happen this summer.
Part of what’s inspiring me is that the Disney folks came through our offices to talk up their Disney paint line, with lots of pictures of perfectly pulled-together kid rooms. I know our rooms won’t ever look as clean as their models, but at the same time, I know I can do better than we’re doing now!
Disney Paint is going to give two lucky commenters a Disney-themed comforter plus a $150 Walmart gift card to get going on your child’s room upgrade. You can choose between a Cars 2-themed comforter and a Disney Fairies comforter. All you have to do is leave a comment below; you can leave up to one a day between now and the end of the day on Thursday, June 13th. Check back here on the 14th and we’ll announce the winner (and contact the winner via Facebook; look for our message in your “other” Facebook message folder; I’ve included a picture so you can see where I mean!).
Read the official rules here. Goody luck!
Congratulations to our winners Nicole Amorosi Rollins and Nicole Crisafulli Grant!
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Babies, Giveaways, GoodyBlog
Thursday, May 30th, 2013
I was on the Today Show talking about picky eaters, and the segment focused on preschool kids…making broccoli tasty for them by stir-frying it, trying grilled chicken on a stick to lead kids away from nuggets, freezing grapes and cutting them in a half for a candy-like fruit snack.
Preschoolers have opinions on everything, but toddlers are more open-minded about what they put in their mouth. Take advantage of that magic window between age 1 and 3 to serve a huge variety of healthy foods. Anything soft and easily chewed and swallowed is fair game. My son preferred blueberries, strawberries, and shredded cheese. It all made a huge mess, but that’s how these things go. Check him out happily tearing apart a quesadilla!
I think the biggest culinary mistake parents make is thinking that a toddler only wants bland food. So not true! Give your kid the chance to be an adventurous eater early and you may spare yourself a decade of making pasta with butter. And watch; though they may first spit something out, they’ll be willing to try it again. (And again!)
I tried to mostly serve whole foods or homemade meals, but life being what it is, I also used Gerber Graduates. The Gerber company is 85 this year! And they’ve come a long way from simply pureed peas. The Graduates line now includes Sweet Corn with Red Peppers, Brown Rice with Mixed Vegetables, and Turkey Meatballs. Yum!
This week we’re going to give away three baskets each with $120 worth of Gerber Graduates, appropriate for ages 2 and up. Just leave a comment below, up to one a day, between now and the end of the day on Wednesday, June 5th. We’ll randomly pick our three winners after that. Note: Comments are now done via Facebook, so if you’ve won, we’ll be shooting you a Facebook message. We won’t show up in your “friends” message folder, we’ll be in your “other” message folder. See the word “other” in this picture? You’d click on that after June 6th to see if you’ve won! PS There are also giveaways every day for 85 days on the Gerber Facebook page. Goody luck!
Read the official rules here.
Congratulations to our winners Jenna Mott Hunt, Mary Beth Isaac, and Carla Gee-Gee!
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