It’s fall in the ‘burbs—the comforting smell of fireplace fires wafting down the street, Saturday afternoons swallowed by soccer…and the sound of leaf-blowers whirring in my neighbors’ yards 24/7. Can you guess which of these three seasonal mainstays most captivates my 5-year-old, gizmo-loving son? Yep, the leaf blowers. Hearing the familiar roar of motors again reminded Julian of the Let’s Play Black & Decker leaf blower we’d given his friend Teddy for his birthday last year—and he began hounding me for one of his own.
I typically belong to the new-toys-are-for-Christmas-and-your-birthday camp, but when he volunteered, for the first time, to pay for the tool with his own moola, I caved. Julian painstakingly counted out $20 of the $23 of Grandma-money in his bedroom. I braced myself for eventual tears, figuring he’d get tired of the toy in an hour and want his, er, money back. Wrongo! He gets a major kick out of faux blowing our backyard. If it this thing had a real motor, our lawn would be immaculate.
I asked my resident landscaper what’s so amazing about his new toy:
So, Jules, what do you like about the leaf blower? It looks so cool I want to marry it. It makes noise and has a blade inside with all these beads, and when you turn it on, all the beads inside spin.
Was it worth the money? I don’t know, but I’ve still got a whole bunch of money, so nothing to worry about.
You missed a spot. Even if it doesn’t have air to blow, I still like it because it looks like a leaf blower and it makes a cool noise. Real gardeners blow leaves with a backpack on their back, though, so I should wear one of those, too.
CDC: US Kids Eat Too Much Salt, as Much as Adults
American kids are eating about 1,000 milligrams of excess salt according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (via ABC News)
Gel Balls New Threat to Toddlers, Doctors Say
New gel balls toys increase in size when combined with water, posing a threat to toddlers who swallow the colored balls. (via Reuters)
Vitamin D in Pregnancy Critical for Brain Development, Study Says
Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy could hinder babies’ brain development, impeding their mental and motor skills, a new study suggests. (via U.S. News and World Report)
In-the-Womb Learning Affected by Mom’s Drinking
Drinking during pregnancy may harm an infant’s ability to learn even before he is born, according to a new study that is the first to examine alcohol’s effect on fetuses in the womb. (via Fox News)
Children’s snoring linked to behavioral problems
Children who persistently snore during their early childhood may be more likely to have behavioral problems such as aggression and hyperactivity, according to a new study. (via MSNBC)
A Host of Ills When Iron’s Out of Balance
Iron, an essential nutrient, has long been the nation’s most common nutritional deficiency. In decades past, many parents worried that children who were picky eaters would develop iron-deficiency anemia. (via New York Times)
Baby’s got cradle cap? Home remedy may worsen it
Home remedies for cradle cap and dandruff may do more harm than good by feeding the little organisms that cause the condition, two doctors warned on Monday. (via NBC)
Are gender-neutral toys much ado about nothing?
With all eyes on London in recent weeks, the city’s most famous department store managed to steal a few headlines — and maybe a few Olympics tourists — by unveiling a new gender-neutral toy department. (via MSNBC)
Is Corporal Punishment in School Legal?
Corporal punishment in school is still legal in 19 states which may come as a surprise depending on where in country you live. (via Reuters)
Breast Cancer Charity Overstated Screening Benefits, Researchers Say
Researchers say Susan G. Komen for the Cure overstated the benefit mammograms have on survival rates of women with breast cancer. Komen’s messages stated 98 percent of women who get the screening tests survive at least five years, while 23 percent who do not get mammograms survive that long — a difference of 75 percentage points. (via NBC News)
New Pets May Help Autistic Kids Socially
Getting a pet may help children with autism to develop their social skills, if the furry friend is brought into the home when the child is about 5 years old, according to a new French study. The researchers discovered the children showed improvement in their abilities to share with others and to offer comfort. (via Fox News)
Hidden Dangers in Vitamins & Supplements?
According to a new report in Consumer Reports, vitamins and supplements could do more harm than good in some cases. Between 2007 and mid-April 2012, the FDA received more than 6,300 reports of serious adverse events linked to dietary supplements, including vitamins and herbs. (via CNN)
Disharmony in the Land of Nod
A new study suggests that even moderate levels of household conflict can alter basic brain function in infants, leaving them hypersensitive to negative emotions. Researchers found chronic family conflict made infants more likely to have abnormal brain responses to angry speech. (via Huffington Post)
Chile Bans Marketing of Toys in Children’s Food
A new law in Chile aims to take some fun out of fast-food by forcing McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and other restaurants to stop including toys and other goodies with children’s meals. The complaint also targets makers of cereal, popsicles, and other products that attract children with toys, crayons, or stickers. (via Associated Press)
Speaking Multiple Languages Can Influence Children’s Emotional Development
Researchers are investigating how using different languages to discuss and express emotions in a multilingual family might play an important role in children’s emotional development. They propose the particular language used when discussing and expressing emotion can have significant impacts on children’s emotional understanding, experience, and regulation. (via Science Daily)
Why a Nightlight Could Cause Mild Depression
Constant exposure to light at night can cause depression, a new study on animals suggests. The findings suggest exposure to artificial light at night may have contributed to the rising rates of depression over the last 50 years. (via NBC News)
Parents, Docs May Clash on Quality of Kids’ Lives
About one in four parents of children with a serious and often fatal genetic condition say they feel judged by doctors when they want life-sustaining treatment for newborns, in a new study. (via Fox News)
Consumer Safety Panel Sues Magnetic Toy Maker
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is suing the maker of popular high-powered magnet “desk toys” to get them to stop selling their products. The magnets can pierce holes in the intestines, and some children have needed multiple surgeries and length hospitalizations. (via CNN)
To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes and Relax
New research suggests taking a brief break, relaxing, and closing your eyes for 10 minutes can help boost memory. The researchers ask participants to recall as many details as possible from two stories they were told. Those with some quick shuteye recalled more than those who were distracted with a new task. (via TIME)
Babies Born in Autumn May Live Longer
In a recent study, researchers looked at data from more than 1,500 people who lived to be 100 or older. The majority of people who lived an extra-long life were born between September and November. (via Fox News)
We used to call my daughter’s activity center “the office.” We’d put her in, and she’d sit with a determined expression and get busy with the toys, spinning herself slowly around to access all of them. Her seriousness about it was hysterical for the adults in the house. It also drove home to us the adage that “play is a child’s work.” Mastering toys is a baby’s job!
Does your baby have an activity center or jumper that he or she adores? If so, we want to hear about it for our American Baby Bests contest. We’re taking nominations for products that babies and parents love, and will turn those into polls that will go live in a few weeks. (Don’t worry, I’ll announce when they’re up!) In the meantime, you can vote for your favorite baby products here. You have to join our Parents.com community in order to post there, but the good news is, posting about your favorite products makes you eligible for a $250 prize! The rules for that contest are here.
Meanwhile, if you don’t yet have an activity center and need one…this could be your big break! We’re photographing this awesome Baby Neptune Activity Saucer, from Baby Einstein, for a summer issue. And we’ve got an extra one still in its box that we’re happy to ship out to a baby who seriously needs to play. Leave a comment below—you can leave a comment once a day—anytime between now and the end of the day Wednesday, March 21st. We’ll randomly pick a person to win this $90 supertoy. You can read the full rules here. Goody luck!
We all know that most kids are glad to speak their minds at any given time—talk about fearless! And Riley does just that. This admirable kiddie does just that by making a toy store aisle her very own platform to speak against the unfair marketing techniques companies are pulling on girls and boys. In her own words: “The companies try to trick the girls into buying the pink stuff instead of stuff boys want to buy.” Preach, Riley!