Monday, December 21, 2009

Babysitters have been a part of our culture since the advent of babies. The stereotype of the teenage girl coming over to sit with the little ones while the parents enjoy a night out has been in our mind’s eye since “Leave it to Beaver” (okay…I’m dating myself). Today’s world is no different: Parents still need a night out once in a while to “get away”. It’s healthy for them, and it’s healthy for the kids. As parents however, you need to be certain about whom you are leaving your children with. As the season for Holiday parties gets into full swing, here are some basic things to consider before ever leaving your children with anyone:

1. Unless you know everything about this person, get references.
2. Ask for recommendations from other parents who have used this person
3. Interview the person before ever leaving your child with him\her…even if they are a licensed childcare provider. You should still interview them to get their philosophy on child rearing, discipline, and whether or not they have a clear and up-to-date understanding about what to expect from young children
4. Have they ever attended a “Safe Sitter” program (or something similar)
5. Do they know CPR?
6. How much experience do they have sitting for the age group in which your children fall?
7. Have you ever noticed ANY impatient or violent tendencies toward anyone or anything?
8. Make sure and leave all emergency numbers, and reinforce that it is fine if the sitter has to use them.
9. Tell your sitter that it is not okay to have guests over while they are sitting. You do not want strangers around your child whom you have never met or interviewed.

A Book Makes A Wonderful Gift

Monday, December 14, 2009

Books make fantastic gifts for anyone, especially kids, for long winters! Picture this… a snowy day outside, a warm fire in the fireplace, fuzzy slippers, your favorite book and some hot chocolate on hand. Yummy!

Adults who read in front of children, set a wonderful example for the kids, demonstrating how important reading is. When caregivers read to or with children, they share very special times together. Healthy touches and snuggles can be exchanged when reading alongside a child. Adults can ask questions about the story, about the characters, or how the ending could be different.
Magazines make good gift ideas too! Perhaps one in their stocking or a monthly subscription would make a nice gift. Consider what type of magazine or book the child might like, their reading level, and their age when choosing.

Don’t forget books for drawing, games, and word/picture finds and puzzles. No matter what a kid is “into,” there surely is a book on it! Books can open their minds to all sorts of possibilities!
Both kids and adults reap the advantages when they make reading a priority!

Toys Are Serious Business

Monday, December 7, 2009

Shopping for toys during the holidays can be exciting and fun, but it can also be frustrating. There can be thousands of toys to choose from in one store, and it's important to choose the right toy for the right age child. Toys that are meant for older children can be dangerous for younger children.
Last year, an estimated 140,700 children were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms after toy-related incidents; 13 children died.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires toy manufacturers to meet stringent safety standards and to label certain toys that could be a hazard for younger children. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide. Labels on toys that state "not recommended for children under three ... contains small parts," are labeled that way because they may pose a choking hazard to children under three. Toys should be developmentally appropriate to suit the skills, abilities and interests of the child.

Toy Buying Tips:

Under three years of age:
• Children under 3 tend to put everything in their mouths. Avoid buying toys intended for older children which may have small parts that pose a choking danger.
• Never let children of any age play with uninflated or broken balloons because of the choking danger.
• Avoid marbles, balls, and games with balls that have a diameter of 1.75 inches or less. These products also pose a choking hazard to young children.
• Children at this age pull, prod and twist toys. Look for toys that are well-made with tightly secured eyes, noses and other parts.
• Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.

Ages 3-5:
• Avoid toys that are constructed with thin, brittle plastic that might easily break into small pieces or leave jagged edges.
• Look for household art materials, including crayons and paint sets, marked with the designation "ASTM D-4236." This means the product has been reviewed by a toxicologist and, if necessary, labeled with cautionary information.
• Teach older children to keep their toys away from their younger brothers and sisters.

Ages 6-12:
• For all children, adults should check toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. Damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away.
• If buying a toy gun, be sure the barrel, or the entire gun, is brightly colored so that it's not mistaken for a real gun.
• If you buy a bicycle for any age child, buy a helmet too, and make sure the child wears it.
• Teach all children to put toys away when they're finished playing so they don't trip over them or fall on them.