6 Tips to Help You Choose Safe Clothing for Your Kids

non-toxic tips for babies

From the time your child is a newborn, they’ll spend most of their time in clothes. While clothes keep us warm, keep us clean, and are a fun form of expression, some fabrics hold more risks than others.

This post will guide you through picking safe, nontoxic clothes for your child, so you can feel safe dressing them (or helping them dress themselves!) every day.

What Chemicals Should I Avoid?

Over 8000 chemicals are used in producing clothing. While not all of these chemicals are necessarily toxic, many of them are, and many we don’t even know enough about to know either way.

Some of the more well-known chemicals used in some textiles include:

  • Pesticides (used to grow cotton or other natural fibers)
  • Formaldehyde (a fabric finisher used to create ‘easy-care’ clothing or to reduce creases)
  • AZO dyes (used as a colorant)
  • Chlorobenzene (used to dye polyester clothing)
  • Phthalates (used to soften leathers and rubbers)

These chemicals can have harmful effects. For example, formaldehyde and AZO dyes are known carcinogens and skin irritants, and are even banned in some countries. Formaldehyde can also cause respiratory issues. Phthalates are known to cause disruption of the endocrine (hormone) system. Long term exposure to chlorobenzene can affect the central nervous system.

While serious health effects are unlikely to come from the low exposures we get from clothes, it’s still a good idea to avoid these chemicals. Avoiding these chemicals can also help protect your baby’s sensitive skin from irritation.

The following tips will help you avoid these chemicals and keep your kids safe.

1. Embrace Natural Dyes

As you can see, chemical dyes are one of the biggest health concerns when it comes to clothing. In fact, toxic AZO dyes are used to dye nearly 60-70% of all colored clothing.

The best way to avoid toxic dyes is to buy clothing that uses natural dyes. Many dyes are made from natural plant materials that still create beautiful colors. 

While many brands sell clothing that is made with natural, organic dyes, if you’re feeling creative, you can even take it a step further and make it yourself! Just buy a plain, organic cotton outfit and experiment with different colors by different plant materials, like blueberries, red cabbage and lemon peels.

Not only are these natural dyes safer, but they are also better for the environment, as many synthetic dyes create high levels of water pollution.

2. Buy Certified Organic Textiles

While some natural materials like cotton may be grown using dangerous pesticides that linger in the fibers, opting for organically and sustainably grown cotton is a great solution to avoid these pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

The best way to tell if a natural fiber is safe is if it has a GOTS certification. The Global Organic Textile Standard certifies products that use cotton farmed without pesticides. Many infant clothing brands are GOTS certified. While there are other certification schemes out there, GOTS is a great option, as it also considers the source of the fabric, which promotes ethical labor.

3. Read the Brand’s Chemical Policies

Many companies that have ditched harmful chemicals want to tell you about it! One of the best ways to choose safe clothing for your kids is to read a brand’s website for statements about chemicals in their clothes. 

Even some major brands like Target have started to release statements about their efforts to stop using unsafe chemicals in their products.[1] 

And if the company doesn’t release a statement on chemicals (or lack thereof) used in their clothing? It’s a fairly safe bet to say that they use harmful chemicals.

The Greenpeace campaign “Detox My Fashion” aims to reduce the use of chemicals in clothing that harm human health and the environment. Many brands have signed on to the campaign. You can find a list of these brands in Chapter 4 of Greenpeace’s report on the campaign progress.

4. Buy Vintage

Many clothing companies have started using chemicals only in the last half century or so, so buying older clothes is a great way to find safer clothing.

Buying used clothing also has the added benefit of being an environmentally-friendly choice, as you help reduce the amount of waste produced by buying new clothes.

5. Wash Clothes Before Wearing Them

Washing clothing before your child wears it helps to get rid of some of the irritating chemicals like bleach or textile finishes that may be used in the final steps of making the clothing. This is especially important when it comes to children, as they often have more sensitive skin. 

This isn’t a full solution, as some toxins can stick around through many washes. However, washing clothes does help to remove some of the most irritating chemicals.

Keep these tips in mind next time you buy clothes for your child, and rest easier knowing your child’s health is being protected.


Are Electronic Baby Toys Safe? How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Child

Are Electronic Toys Safe for Babies?

More and more baby toys these days are electronic or have electronic components. While these toys may be exciting, sadly, electronic toys can pose risks to your child. 

The risks associated with electronic toys include:

  • Burns: Electronic toys may overheat because of faulty wiring or circuit boards. This can burn your child.
  • Electric shock: Faulty electrical wiring or plugs can be very dangerous, and can cause electric shock. Electric shock is also a risk when an electronic toy is used near water. As we know, babies and toddlers can be messy, so make sure to keep liquids away from electronic toys.
  • Fire hazards: Overheating of electronic toys, especially poorly built toys, can cause fires.
  • Battery hazards: Batteries in toys can pose risks such as overheating and breaking down into small pieces that cause choking. Choking risks are especially high for babies, who are more likely to chew on toys.
  • Toxic materials: Some electronic toys contain dangerous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). These materials are generally only used inside the toy, so don’t worry – your baby is unlikely to come into contact with them. Of course,  it’s still best to buy toys without these substances!

Electronic toys are also environmentally unfriendly, as they are notoriously difficult to recycle. Additionally, research suggests that relying only on electronic toys, rather than more traditional toys, can harm a baby’s language development.

Here are some tips for choosing safe and stimulating toys for your baby.

1.    Choose Non-Electric Toys

The simplest way to avoid the dangers of electronic toys is simply not to buy them! All our Kleynimals toys are non-electronic and made from safe and nontoxic stainless steel. Our toys provide your baby with all the excitement and stimulation they need without the risks posed by electronic toys.[1] 

If you do choose to use electronic toys, it is best to mix these in with more traditional toys. Exposure to different types of toys, including simpler toys, helps your baby develop a wide variety of skills.

2.    Choose Well-Designed Toys that Comply with Safety Standards

Safety must be included in every step of a toy’s production. If you do choose to buy electronic toys, make sure it is from a trusted manufacturer that takes the necessary steps, such as testing for toxic materials, to ensure the toy is safe and functioning properly.

There are several regulations in place that work to protect you from the dangers of electronic toys. It is important to check that your baby’s toys have been tested for compliance with these consumer protection laws. For example, electronic toys stamped with a “CE marking” (a small CE symbol printed on the toy or packaging) comply with all safety regulations and do not contain harmful materials.

3.    Choose Sturdy Electronic Toys

Make sure your electronic baby toys are well-built and sturdy. Durable toys are less likely to break down, exposing you or your child to any harmful substances that may be used to create the inner electronic parts. Toys that break down are especially concerning for babies, as babies are likely to chew on their toys as part of the teething process.

Durable electronic toys are also less likely to experience overheating or other problems due to degradation. 

4.    Make Sure the Toy Is Used Properly

Electronic toys may have parts that are designed to be used in a specific way (for example, that spin in a certain direction). But we know that babies and children may not use the toy in the way it was designed! This improper use can cause potentially dangerous malfunctions.

If you do choose electronic toys, always watch your child when they are playing with the toy to make sure it is being used as it was intended. While most toy manufacturers put control measures in place that will avoid malfunctions no matter the situation, it is still best to use the toy as it was designed.

All in all, the risks of electronic toys can be safely managed by an attentive guardian. Of course, the most worry-free option is to simply buy non-electronic toys! If you do choose to use electronic baby toys, however, make sure you buy well-made toys of a wide variety to support your child’s development happily and safely.


TEETHING AND KLEYNIMALS

Teething toys to soothe sore gums

Guest post by Dr. Patricia Bast, AskDoctorMommy.com

A teething baby is hard, there is no way around it, and all babies go through it. Unfortunately it seems like it lasts forever. Beginning for most between 4-6 months and continuing until 24+ months old! Sometimes with no substantial breaks between teeth.

The key to making teething bearable is being prepared! Here are my top 5 tips I give to parents to help their teething baby.

1.      Offer safe options for chewing. For example: teething approved pacifiers, grasping toys, rattles, and finger length veggies (frozen celery is excellent, just supervise closely and replace when it starts to break apart).

2.     Frozen foods. Breastmilk, formula, smoothie, pureed food popsicles. They are both soothing and a great way to offer calories since appetites often decrease when teething. 

3.     Offer various textures and shapes for teething (ensure all are safe, food-grade, and designed for teething): silicone,

4.     stainless steal, and wood. Each one offers a different firmness for soothing those sore gums. The oral sensory input is also excellent for developing brains.

5.     Camilia or other safety tested herbal relief. Avoid dosing with medication around the clock and instead look for effective natural solutions that aid in pain relief.

6.     Tylenol or Motrin. If your child is in significant pain, medication should be considered.

Kleynimals: Engraved Kleynimals Keys are a fantastic teething option. They are also my favorite gift for both baby showers, holidays, and 1st birthday parties! They are durable, beautiful, safe, and fun for all ages of babies and toddlers. 

4 Ways to Soothe your Teething Baby

Teething Baby with Sore Gums

Despite being a developmental milestone, parents may be surprised to find that the teething stage can be quite a challenge. According to Anastasia Williams, a doctor at Olde Towne Pediatrics, teeth start to emerge when babies are around four to seven months old. However, this development can be uncomfortable for your little one, especially when the baby teeth start peeking through. Dr. Williams points out that this process can even be painful for babies. On top of that, the kids may drool, bite their fists, and experience gum swelling. To soothe your baby during their teething phase, you can try the following these tips:

Provide Teething Toys

Once you noticed that your child is showing symptoms of teething, invest in soothing tools like teething toys. These toys are easy for them to grasp and chew on. Plus, it provides enough pressure to alleviate the soreness from their swollen gums. While these tools are certainly helpful, parents need to be wary of teething toys that contain toxins. In fact, our article on the ‘9 Ways to Choose Safe Teething Toys’ points out that PVC, phthalates, BPA, antimony, cadmium, and lead are just some of the harmful chemicals in these tools. To keep your little one safe, choose durable teething toys made up of materials like natural rubber, organic cotton, stainless steel, or food-grade silicone.

Provide a Wet Washcloth

You can also provide teething babies with a wet washcloth to bite. It works similarly to manufactured teething toys, but is more of a quick fix than a long-term solution. The coolness of the washcloth helps reduce inflammation around the gum area and, by biting into it, your baby can release the tension in their gums. For this quick solution, Baby Play Hacks suggests that you take a gentle baby washcloth and tie knots at each end. Then, soak one end in water. Once that end is wet, place the cloth in a ziplock bag before freezing it for half an hour. And once the makeshift toy is cool to the touch, you can give it to your infant to chew and play with.

Give Them Cold Milk

It’s worrying for parents to witness their babies refuse food. Unfortunately, this aversion towards food could be caused by many different reasons, including your baby’s teething stage. To help parents, nurse Rowena Bennett shares her pediatric knowledge in her book ‘Your Baby’s Bottle-feeding Aversion’. The book describes the causes of aversive feeding behavior in infants and helps parents find effective solutions. In this particular case, babies may refuse food due to the pain and discomfort felt during their teething stage. So, try giving them cold milk. The cool feeling will ease their aching gums, encouraging them to drink. You can do this with either breast milk or infant formula. Just note that breast milk has a shorter shelf life than formula.

Massage Their Gums

Teething symptoms can be difficult to deal with, especially when you don’t have access to the remedies stated above. For instance, your little one may experience the symptoms while you’re traveling outside. In these cases, you can easily soothe your baby by massaging their gums. The study ‘Teething Symptoms and Management During Infancy’ highlights that rubbing the gums can reduce irritation. As a result, it can also put a stop to finger sucking. Furthermore, this simple remedy decreases the pain your baby experiences from the erupting teeth. Just remember that it is important to wash your hands thoroughly before opting for this method.

Before your baby’s cute little teeth show up, they may experience uncomfortable and even painful sensations. Keep your little ones safe and comfortable during their teething stage by implementing these simple remedies. And before you know it, they’ll be showing off some pearly whites!


9 Ways to Choose Safe Teething Toys

Baby nibbling on a Kleyminals safe teething toy

Many babies have it rough when their pearly whites begin to peek out, mostly at the age of 4-7 months. They have to contend with flushed cheeks, swollen gums, plenty of drool, rashes, poor appetite and disrupted sleep, among other nasty symptoms.

Little wonder that they are always rummaging for something to nibble on in a bid to soothe their tender gums. Thankfully, teething toys are a great reprieve.

But here’s the problem, some teething toys are from the bottom of the barrel. They are laced with harmful toxins that pose unprecedented health risks to little children. How can you separate the wheat from the chaff while buying your baby’s teether? This article will show you how to cherry-pick safe teething toys for your little cherub.

How to Choose Safe Teething Toys for Your Baby

1. Choose Non-Toxic Materials

A damning 2016 report published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology revealed that harmful chemicals are rife in teething toys. In the study, 59 plastic teethers were tested and were all found to contain BPA (Bisphenol A) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals. This is despite the fact that 90% of the teethers were labeled as “BPA free” or “Non-Toxic.”

Sadly, this report is merely the tip of the iceberg. A lot of baby products are chock full of harmful toxins that wreak havoc on the tender lives of children.

Harmful Chemicals in Teethers

Here are some of the ravaging chemicals commonly found in teething toys:

  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
  • Phthalates
  • BPA (Bisphenol A)
  • Antimony
  • Cadmium
  • Lead

Parents, therefore, need to go the extra mile while vetting teething toys. Your best bet at shielding your child from this menace is by getting teethers made from non-toxic materials. Needless to say, avoid plastic toys in their entirety.

Non-Toxic Materials for Teething Toys

Here are examples of non-toxic materials that can be used to manufacture safe teething toys:

  • Food grade stainless steel
  • Natural rubber
  • Untreated wood
  • Organic cotton
  • Food grade silicone

Our Jangles Teethers are the perfect non-toxic teether for your baby. They are made in the US using 100% food-grade stainless steel and are completely devoid of the aforementioned horrendous toxins. Your baby can nibble on them freely to their little mouth’s content.

But perhaps their versatility is what endears them to babies and toddlers alike. These teething jangles can turn into anything your baby deems fit. Your baby can use them as bracelets, rattles, teethers, or even fidget toys. What’s more, Mom can slip it on her wrist and have it act as “chewable” Jewelry. 

2. Choose Durable Teething Toys

Teethers go through a lot in the hands and mouths of babies. When they are not being gnawed at, they are getting hurled to the floor or doubling up as toys. They, therefore, need to be durable in order to weather your baby’s vitality.

Avoid teething toys that break easily as they can injure your baby. All our Kleynimals toys (keys, jangles, and rattles) are made from stainless steel and are highly durable. Additionally, they are heat and fire-resistant and will be your baby’s companion for a jolly long time. They are also non-corrosive and rust-resistant.

3. Avoid Liquid Filled Teething Toys

Some teethers are filled with a liquid (mostly saltwater or glycerin and water) that allows you to freeze it to effectively pacify your child’s gum. Such teethers are not safe because the water can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Furthermore, if the teether cracks open, your innocent child may chug down the liquid.

4. Avoid Teethers With Batteries

Some teethers come with extra features such as the ability to vibrate while soothing a baby’s gum. Such teethers are often powered using batteries. This poses a great risk because the battery, battery cap, or screws can get dislodged and end up in a baby’s mouth.

Thousands of children are hospitalized each year after swallowing batteries, causing them serious injuries. As such, teething toys that use batteries should be avoided.

5. Choose Easy to Clean Teething Toys

Tummy Time with Jangles

Always sanitize your baby’s teethers before use. Additionally, a good teether should be easy to clean using warm soapy water. Some teether toys, like our Jangles Teether (pictured above) can even be put in the dishwasher.

6. Avoid Old Teething Toys

Old teethers may cause more harm than good to your baby. They may be damaged and injure your baby’s sensitive gum. Additionally, toy manufacturing regulations are constantly revised. This means that an old toy that was labeled as “not-toxic” during production may not pass the test when scrutinized under existing laws.

7. Avoid Teething Necklaces

There are two types of teething necklaces- those designed for moms to wear and others for babies to wear. Pediatricians warn that putting a teething necklace on your child increases the risk of choking and strangulation.

8. Avoid Rough Teething Toys

Teethers come in an array of textures with some aimed at stimulating babies mentally while at the same time soothing their gums. Be careful however not to hand your little tot a teether that’s rough around the edges – literally. Ensure that all your teethers are smooth to avoid injuring your child’s gum.

9. Regularly Inspect Teethers

Don’t underestimate your baby’s gnawing and chomping on their teether. Regularly inspect it for any damage. It is best to toss away teethers that have given in to wear and tear.

Final Thoughts

Your baby’s safety is the most important factor to consider while choosing a teething toy. Here is a nifty summary of what safe teething toys look like:

  • Made from non-toxic materials
  • Durable
  • Not Filled with Liquid
  • Without Batteries
  • Not worn around baby’s neck
  • No rough edges
  • Inspected regularly

Thankfully, our Jangles Teethers effortlessly tick all the boxes. They are designed with your child’s safety in mind. Besides soothing irritated gums, they also help stimulate your baby’s sense of sound, sight, and sound. Babies get enthralled at the way our chain of jangles interplay in unexpected ways. But don’t take our word for it, go ahead and try them for yourself. 

The Importance of Giving Your Kids Some Space to Play

 

Space To Grow and Learn 

At one time or another we have all told our kids to go play, but do you know you’re actually encouraging a vital part of their development? Play is great for infants and toddlers. While we often love to get down on the floor with our little ones, as they grow it is important to give them space to play. 

Wondering why play matters and if there is a right way to play? Here are the basics. 

Why Play Matters for Infants and Toddlers

Play isn’t all fun and games, though it can certainly look that way! When your little one is deep in imaginative reenactments, games, or even crafts they’re developing emotional, social, mental, and physical skills. 

Language and communication are two important benefits of play. These skills begin to be encouraged with the earliest examples of play, like peek-a-boo and singing. As your child continues to grow, play can get more complex. Pretend play with friends is excellent for building social skills, like sharing, and also further their communication. 

Working on puzzles, building towers, and other tactile types of play help with physical and cognitive development. Even though your little one appears to be simply stacking blocks, they’re refining their motor skills and engaging with basic math concepts like problem-solving. 

Allowing play, and providing space for children helps them learn in so many ways! 

Why Is Space Important for Your Child’s Playtime? 

When your child is an infant, being a hovering parent is somewhat expected. After all, they usually need some engagement during play. However, as your kids become older and more independent, giving them space while playing is recommended. 

First, let’s define what space looks like during play. You want to monitor your child and be close enough to help if they need it. You don’t want to hover over them, push them into actions or experiences, or take over during interactions. There are a few reasons why it is beneficial for you to hang back. 

The Benefits of Giving Your Child Space

Encourages Independence

Some independence is a good thing. We all want our kids to be able to handle situations and do things for themselves. If you do everything for your child and don’t let them explore and try, you are not fostering independence. They may become hesitant about doing things on their own if you always insist on being with them or taking care of things for them. Don’t let them run wild, but give them the freedom to try and do. 

Builds Confidence

Not only will your little one be less independent if you don’t give them space to play, but they may lack the confidence to become independent. Providing your child with the opportunity to try something, even if they could fail, helps build their motivation and self-confidence. Always fixing things so that your child succeeds or preventing them from failing, can demotivate them and increase their unnecessary reliance on you. 

Promotes Individuality 

It is so wonderful as a parent to see your child develop their personality. Giving your kid room to play helps to let their individuality bloom. Don’t push or force your child into activities, instead, let their intuition and imagination lead the way. 

To foster these characteristics, not only should you give your child space but also design the perfect play area. The play space shouldn’t be cluttered or chaotic. Instead, provide simple and engaging toys in a spacious area that allows for imaginative and unstructured play. 

Let Your Child Grow by Giving Them Space

Just like we adults need our personal space, kids need space too. Give your child the room, literally and physically, to explore, imagine and develop. You will get to enjoy witnessing the creative, unique, and confident little humans they become. 

About the Author

Megan Moore

Babyjourney.net

5 Baby Toys to Keep Your Twins Entertained in Your Stroller Outing

Twice the Fun, Twice the Toys

Do you have two bundles of joy? Twins are twice the fun but also require double the baby gear, like small baby toys to keep them entertained on stroller outings. When you’re out and about, fun toys that are easily accessible, washable, and engaging are a must. 

While finding this magical unicorn of a toy may seem like a tall order, we have rounded up five of our favorites to make your job easier. Take a look at our top toys that will make your double stroller a traveling entertainment space! 

What to Consider When Selecting Baby Stroller Toys for Twins

Before we jump into our top five stroller toys, let’s take a look at what criteria we used to select them. Keeping these considerations in mind will help you find the safest and most engaging toy for your children. 

  • Nontoxic. This is a bit of a no-brainer these days, but you want the toy to be nontoxic. A baby toy will likely spend quite a bit of time in your infants’ mouths, therefore you want to choose one that is free from chemicals and dangerous products. 
  • Easily Washable. Stroller toys have a habit of getting dirty. After all, they go where your babies go; including places like the playground and the beach. An easily washable toy will save you time and grief if you can just pop it into the washing machine. 
  • Age Appropriate. If the toy isn’t appropriate for your children’s age, it likely won’t keep them entertained. Look for an item that fits their age range and developmental milestones. Many toys include age guidelines on the packaging! 
  • No Detachable Choking Hazards. Safety is paramount with baby toys. This is especially true with stroller toys when you’re behind pushing and can’t always see what’s going on. Make sure the toy you choose doesn’t have any small pieces that are detachable or could come loose and pose a choking hazard. 

Five Fabulous Twin Toys for the Stroller 

Kleynimals Jangles 

It doesn’t get eco-friendlier and more non-toxic than Kleynimals Jangles. These hoops with clacking beads are made out of food-grade stainless steel. They’re fun to shake, mesmerizing to move about, and safe for little ones to taste. Durable, and dishwasher safe, this is one stroller toy that is as parent-friendly as it is baby-friendly! 

Kleynimals Keys 

Parents know that jingling keys are a child’s favorite. Skip the germy car keys and hand your child Kleynimals Keys. The design mimics real keys, making the same sound and having an identical cool metal feel. However, the “keys” are adorably cute animals on a metal ring, both made out of food-grade stainless steel. Non-toxic, dishwasher safe, and free from sharp edges, these are a much safer and more sanitary alternative to true keys and other jingling stroller toys. They make great teethers too! 

Lamaze Freddie the Firefly 

Lamaze Freddie the Firefly is a vibrant and colorful toy that will delight your child each time you buckle them into the stroller. It entices all five of your baby’s senses with a squeaker, knotted wings for chewing, a mirror, and textured fabrics. While your little one will love feeling, hearing, and munching on this little insect, parents will love that it encourages visual, auditory, and tactile development.

Baby Einstein Star Bright Symphony Toy 

While some infant toys simply dangle from the stroller, the Baby Einstein Star Bright Symphony Toy does so much more! Brightly hued fabrics frame an adorable smiling face, helping to improve your baby’s focus and visual development. This little star plays six classical melodies accompanied by gentle, soothing lights. An easy-breezy velcro fastener secures to your stroller, crib, or playpen. 

Sassy Peek-a-boo Cloth Book 

We all know that reading to your child is a great practice, but no one wants to lug around bulky books. Enter the Sassy Peek-a-boo Cloth Book, a soft fabric book with bold patterns and bright colors. The visual design is perfect to attract infants and encourage visual skills while the simple words are excellent for older babies learning to identify pictures. Its crinkle pages and peek-a-boo flaps keep babies of any age happy and entertained! 

So Long Stroller Boredom! 

These amazing toys are perfect for delighting your twins while they’re out and about. No longer will they fuss about being buckled into the stroller when they have one of these amazing toys to play with! 

Whether you want simple and safe toys that are ideal for curious little ones, like Kleyanimal Keys or Jangles, or you want colorful fabric items that entice the senses, this list has something for everyone! We hope you and your little ones have a blast traveling with your stroller and its new, fun accessories. 

About the Author

Megan Moore

Babyjourney.net

The Ultimate Guide to Design a Fun, Functional Kids Playroom at Home

Playing is more than just a way to have fun; it’s also an essential part of healthy childhood development. As parents, you can adapt any space at home and design a playroom where your kids can explore, get creative, and learn. When designing a playroom, it’s crucial to think about it from a kid’s perspective. Our guide shows you how to create a fun and functional kids playroom that your children will love for many years to come.

Brainstorming with Your Children

While you’ll have most of the say about the design of the playroom (after all, this is your home), it’s important to let your children provide some input before you set up their new playroom. Ask them about their favorite subjects in school and what type of things they’d like to have in the room. From furniture and toys to kids’ entertainment, sit down and write out a list of all the most important things to your child. When you brainstorm together, you’ll ensure that the final result is something you and your kids will both enjoy and appreciate. Make sure you design a space that’s “evergreen” and one that will grow and adapt as your child gets older. This is the best way to make the most of the playroom and keep it functional and useful over the years as they develop and mature.

Pick a Theme

Choosing a theme for your new playroom can make it fun and exciting, but keep in mind that certain themes might not be appealing to your child in a year or two. Try to stick with themes centered around their favorite activities rather than characters from movies or TV shows. Here are some tips to help you develop the perfect theme for your child’s playroom:

Theater / Dance

Add a small stage to the room where your children can practice their acting and dancing skills. Stock the room with various costumes so the kids can play dress-up and do a little bit of theater right at home. If your child likes to dance, install a large mirror on one wall of the room. Bring in a stereo system or a record player so they can enjoy their favorite plays and dance to music.

Music

Fill the playroom with various instruments like a small drum set, a keyboard, and a tambourine. Stock your child’s playroom with sheet music if they’re skilled at playing the piano or other instruments, so they always have something new to learn. Display some music-themed décor in the room like oversized music notes, framed sheet music, or artwork of images like people or animals singing and playing instruments. 

Art

Set up a roomy, sturdy craft table where your child can paint, draw, and work on a variety of arts and crafts projects. Stock the playroom with watercolor and finger paints, an easel, paint brushes, scissors, glue, and construction paper. Find a place where your kids can display their art, such as a large bulletin board or a magnetic board for easy hanging.

Sports

Decorate the room with items that display your child’s favorite sports like a framed picture of a baseball field, a hockey stick hung on the wall, or a picture of their favorite player. If you’re feeling brave, install a ceiling-mounted cargo climbing net so your child can play and let off some steam indoors. Bring in some books about sports so your child can read about their favorite games and expand their mind whenever they’re not on the playing field.

Game Room

From cards to board games, you can easily make your child’s playroom a fun game room by stocking it with a variety of games geared for their age group. Paint a tabletop in a checkerboard design so the kids can play a game of checkers or chess anytime they want. If you have space (and the budget), bring in a large game like a foosball table or ping pong table to serve as the room’s focal point. 

Furniture

Once you’ve chosen a theme, it’s time to pick out some furniture for your kid’s playroom. Here are a few tips to help you get started and ensure that this room is functional and fun to use:

Stick with neutral furniture that’s not too loud or colorful. The more neutral the furniture is, the better the odds are that your child will grow with it instead of out of it. 

Choose furniture that’s durable and easy to clean and aim for multifunctional furniture that includes storage like an ottoman or storage bench.

It’s important to ensure that the entire family feels welcome in this room. While kid’s furniture is excellent for little ones, consider bringing in a full-size couch and table so your older children and the adults will feel comfortable in this space, too.

To add a pop of color, bring in some rugs, curtains, and décor to fill the room with bright and cheerful hues. Leave the wall color neutral so it’s easy to adapt the room as your child grows.

Make sure that this space has flooring that’s easy to clean and maintain. Linoleum and vinyl are both good options, and they don’t require a lot of maintenance to keep them looking new. Protect the floors (and your child’s knees and elbows) with some soft, machine-washable area rugs. 

Storage Space

Your child must have fun in their playroom, but it’s also important that this part of your home stays clean and organized. With the right storage, you can keep everything neat, tidy, and in its place.

Use Mason jars with a lid to store and organize small craft items like buttons, beads, and spools of thread. Cubbies are perfect for larger toys and games, and you can easily put them on a shelf or stash them under furniture. Baskets and storage bins work well as a catch-all to toss stuffed animals and other toys in one place. Add a storage bench or ottoman, so the kids have a place to hide their shoes, board games, and other medium-sized items. Make sure your playroom has at least one bookshelf for reading material, sheet music, or art supplies.

Set up Different Zones

To make the most of your playroom, break it up into different zones. Each zone can be designated for a variety of activities your child enjoys. Put a small desk in one corner of the room for homework, and place shelving with art supplies and a craft table on the opposite side. Keep kid’s toys, games, and accessories in constant rotation so that there’s always something new for them to enjoy. As your child begins to outgrow certain items, donate them to a local nonprofit organization or your school. Make sure there is one part of the playroom designated for home use, such as a spot for a comfy sofa and TV set.

Get Creative

There are many fantastic add-ons you can bring into the playroom to make it more functional and fun to use. Here are some inspirational ideas to help you get started:

Add a swing. Hang a swing from the ceiling of the playroom so your child can swing as they listen to music or watch television. Make sure the swing is anchored securely and that you’re always nearby whenever they use it.

Add a nap station. Naptime is particularly important for younger children, so create a “nap zone” with a comfy mat, cot, or sleeping bag along with a blanket and some pillows so they can take a snooze after playtime.

Create a dress-up corner. Use a rack to hang costumes and accessories in the playroom and add a freestanding mirror in the corner of the room so your kids can have fun playing dress-up.

Add a slide. Bring a sturdy, small slide into the playroom for your younger children. If you really want to go all out, install a tube-style slide that will whisk your child from one floor to the next for a great entrance.

Create a chalkboard wall. Paint one wall with black chalkboard paint so your child can sketch and doodle to their heart’s content. If you’re not keen on painting a wall this way, bring in a large freestanding chalkboard and place it against one wall.

Make a slime station. Playing with slime is lots of fun, but it’s also messy. Make a special “slime station” with all of the supplies so your child can have some slimy fun, and then put everything away when they’re done. 

You don’t have to spend a fortune to design a fun, functional kid’s playroom. There are plenty of ways to DIY and get creative by using items you already have lying around your home. The key is to make sure that you’re having fun while you plan and decorate the playroom. Use these kid’s playroom ideas as inspiration to help you create the perfect space. When it’s finished, everyone will want to come over and play at your house.

This article was originally published at Porch.com

Top 8 Benefits of Sensory Play (With Ideas)

Toddler enjoying the benefits of sensory play through Kleynimals

Children are born with an insatiable appetite for play. Admittedly, all forms of play are great but sensory play trumps them all. This article will let you in on the top 8 benefits of sensory play and show you how you can sprinkle sensory activities in your child’s life.

What is Sensory Play?

We interpret our environment through our five senses of touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates one or the multiple senses of a child. It also includes activities that stoke their movement and balance.

Examples of Sensory Play

Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to have your kids enjoy sensory play. Your home is awash with household items and activities that appeal to your kids’ senses.

When your child is, for instance, stuffing spaghetti in their mouth using their hands, they are stimulating multiple senses – sight, touch, taste, and movement.

Here are some sensory play ideas that your kids can revel in:

Sensory Play Ideas for Touch

Sensory Play Ideas for Sight

Sensory Play Ideas for Hearing

Sensory Play Ideas for Smell

  • Cooking
  • Scented Sensory Bottle
  • Smelling Flowers

Sensory Play Ideas for Movement and Balance

  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Trampoline
  • Skipping Rope

Sensory Play Idea for Taste

Offer a variety of foods with an array of flavors, colors, and textures

Why is Sensory Play Important?

Little girl playing with wooden blocks on the floor

A child’s brain grows exponentially during their first years of life, between birth and 3 years. The experiences of a child during this time set the stage for their cognitive development.

In fact, their success in life and school hinges on the amount and quality of the care, interaction, and stimulation they receive in their early years.

Sensory play is a critical way of flexing a child’s brain and setting the stage for their future abilities.   

Top 8 Benefits of Sensory Play

1. It  Enhances Healthy Brain Development

A newborn checks in with all the brain cells (neurons) they will have for the rest of their life. All their brain needs is to make connections between the cells for it to work at optimum. Their brain produces more than a million neural connections each second.

Sensory play helps in forming and strengthening the neural connections. Interestingly, a child’s brain eliminates neural connections that are not stimulated through a process known as synaptic pruning.  On the flip side, active neural connections are fortified.

As your baby squeals while popping bubbles or chuckles at the jingling sound of their favorite rattles, their brain is at work. It is refining its threshold for an assortment of sensory information.

2. It Helps Children Accomplish Complex Tasks

As aforementioned, sensory play helps build multiple neural connections in the brain’s pathway. This endows children with the ability to engage in complex tasks, sometimes well above their age.

A child who is, for instance, fond of creating things with play dough may surprise you with a steady pencil grip when you send them off to school.

3. It Helps Calm a Flustered Child

We all have one or two things that pacify us when we are feeling a little frazzled; like soaking in a warm bath or getting lost in a good book.

Some forms of sensory play will help calm your child. Some kids will be lulled by a rocking chair or a swing. Others will need a massage, a walk outdoors, or a sensory bean bag to squeeze away.

4. It Improves Their Fine and Gross Motor Skills

All the scooping, squeezing, molding, splashing, jumping, and cycling that young children fancy is not in vain. It helps strengthen their motor skills.

Fine motor skills refer to the ability to move the small muscles in the hand and wrist. Gross motor skills are the ability to move the larger body muscles of the arms, legs, and torso.   

Don’t be too alarmed when you notice that your little tot can chow down their food using a spoon or fork with minimal spills.

Don’t be too gobsmacked when you catch your toddler trotting up the stairs unaided. They have been practicing behind the scenes.

 5. It Enhances a Child’s Memory

Two children playing as knight and princess while lying on an alphabet mat.

One of the heftiest benefits of sensory play is that it helps build and improve a child’s memory. As the sensory experiences stack up, there’s a lot of information getting absorbed in the brain. This expands their threshold for memory retention.

6. It Encourages Creativity and Problem Solving

As children engage in sensory play, they are actively formulating ideas, trying the ideas out, and accepting or rejecting their hypothesis. Without any set of rules or guidelines, they gradually become critical thinkers with problem-solving skills to boot.

 7. It Helps in Language Development

As children exercise their senses, they start describing what they can see, touch, hear, smell or feel. They can describe things that are bitter or sweet, hard or soft, hot or cold, smooth or rough, etc. This perks up their vocabulary.

8. It gives Their Social Skills A Boost

Sensory play activities offer children oodles of opportunities to interact with their peers and adults. As they take turns in play, asking questions, investigating, and manipulating objects, they freely interact and inadvertently hone their social skills.

Final Thoughts

Thankfully, children don’t need a lot of nudging to play. Their pattering feet and explorative hands naturally gravitate towards play. When children engage in sensory play, they are not merely passing time. They are investing in their future.

Sensory play helps their brain development, enables them to complete complex tasks, calms them, improves their motor skills, helps them solve problems, and gives their creativity, language and social skills a boost.

Parents and guardians need to ensure that their children are raking in all the wonderful benefits of sensory play by providing plenty of play opportunities and quality interactions.

Newborn Baby Must-Haves to Stock Up In 2021

Newborn Baby Must Have Teether

Eat, Sleep, Repeat is a motto often associated with newborns.  Many soon-to-be parents feel trepidation, mingled with excitement when they consider the first few months ahead.  Second, third or beyond-timers know that parenting in those early weeks and months is hard work, involving late nights and early mornings.  It makes sense, then, to stock up and do your research on must-haves as you get your home ready for a new baby that can make those first few months a time of loving, bonding and connection.  In this blog, we take a look at 3-less obvious Newborn Must-Haves to stock up on in 2021, with a view to eco, non-toxic and sustainable options.  Perfect for values-driven parents who want the very best for their new-born without compromise.  

Organic Swaddle Blankets

Swaddling is an ancient, tried and tested way to soothe and settle newborns.  Dr Harvey Karp has pioneered the concept of the first three months of a new-born’s life as a type of “Fourth Trimester”.  A time in which baby adjusts to a gradual adaptation to life outside of the womb.  Swaddling can provide support and containment to your baby that mimics some of the familiar “snugness” of the womb, helping your baby to feel secure and relaxed.  

Swaddling is the practice of wrapping a baby up gently in a light, breathable blanket to help them feel calm. They should only have their body wrapped and not their neck or head.  Many babies wake because of the startle reflex (called the Moro reflex) when their arms suddenly twitch or move in their sleep.  Swaddling means your baby is less likely to wake from the startle reflex and more likely to enjoy restful sleep.  A calmer baby equals a calmer Mom and Dad.  There are plenty of products on the market that fit the bill, ranging from simple and low-cost organic cotton squares to shaped swaddle wraps including helpful hook and loop fastening to make the swaddling process easier and fuss-free.  For the most sustainable options, consider if the swaddle you are considering is made from locally produced materials. 

With swaddling, it is important to follow safety guidelines, to avoid your baby overheating or being wrapped too tightly. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recognize that responsible swaddling following safety guidelines can promote sleep.  Such safety guidelines include:

  • Use thin materials. 
  • Do not swaddle above the shoulders. 
  • Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front. 
  • Do not swaddle too tight. 
  • Check baby’s temperature to ensure they do not get too hot.

So, whilst they may be an ancient practice, swaddle blankets are at the top of many parents list when it comes to 2021 new-born must haves. 

Montessori Toys 

There’s been renewed interest recently in the Montessori method.  Prince William and Princess Kate have chosen a Montessori school for their first child, Prince George, to attend.  As a result, parents on both sides of the Atlantic have been finding out more about the Montessori approach.  

Dr. Maria Montessori established her now world-famous Montessori method to child development and learning in the early 20th Century. Montessori believed that fostering imagination through play was best achieved by offering children a simple and natural environment to allow children to learn things through exploration.  Montessori believed developing minds absorb that which surrounds them. 

You can adopt a Montessori approach with your new-born by attending to the toys that surround them in their first few months of life:

  • Well-chosen, quality toys that are non-plastic and toxic-free are fantastic for providing rich and open-ended learning and development and sensory play. 
  • Classic wooden toys with simple moving parts and toys that stimulate the senses are a great choice.  
  • Sorting games, simple wooden blocks and products that can be moulded and manipulated all fit the Montessori philosophy.   
  • And don’t overlook metal options.  Kleynimals offer a fantastic range of non-toxic, food-grade and dish washable stainless-steel rattles, jangles and key sets that allow curious little ones to mouth and explore the sounds, texture and temperature of the products.  
  • These are toys that last, and can be a family-orientated approach to reducing waste in 2021: your baby’s Kleynimals teething toy can become your grandchild’s go-to learning tool in the future.

Black-and-White Options    

Simple, high contrast black-and white graphics have been shown to promote visual development in early infancy.   In the early 1960’s, developmental psychologist, Dr. Robert Fantz, began research on patterns and colours that young babies were drawn to.  He found a simple patterned black and white checkerboard held the infants sustained attention.  Since then, researchers have repeatedly shown that newborns prefer to look at black and white geometric shapes, rather than pastels or gaudy bright primary colours.  The latest research reveals that the visual interaction provided by black and white simple graphics has a positive effect on visual function maturation in very young babies

For these reasons, a host of companies now offer black and white board and fabric books and other resources for newborns.  These are all part of an increasing theme in childcare dubbed: “neuroparenting” – that is, using neuroscientific findings to inform parenting choices.

Options here include soft blocks, playmats and soft toys featuring black and white geometric shapes and patterns.  Some parents print black and white visual graphics on paper or cards to display in the nursery.  

Final Thoughts

As a soon-to-be parent, or parent again, you’ll want to stock up and get prepared on the things that help you and your little one to enjoy those early new-born days together.  Crib sets, diapers and sleep suits are standard baby must-haves for those beginning weeks.  With eco-credentials, baby development, and safety in mind, some of the aforementioned options discussed are smart choices for parents who want to prepare to give their newborn the best start in life.