YES, YOU CAN RAISE SMART KIDS-7 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CHILD’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

Boy holding a book

Holding a brand new baby is magical. You spend oodles of time staring into their glinting puffy eyes and stroking their chunky feet. Besides being awestruck by their beauty, figuring out ways to boost your child’s cognitive development is one of the best gifts you can offer them.

Between birth and the age of 3, a child’s brain develops at a skyrocketing speed. During this time, a lot is happening behind the scenes as your little tot coos and shows off their gummy smile. A foundation is being laid in their brain. This foundation will determine how your child will interact with the world years later. 

Fortunately, your child doesn’t need to do the groundwork alone. There are several things you can do to enhance your child’s ability to think, understand, and perceive their environment. But first things first, what is cognitive development?

What is Cognitive Development and What’s Your Role?

Cognitive development refers to the way a child interacts with the world around them. This includes how they think, explore and interpret things and situations.  

Cognitive skills include the ability to pay attention, remember, reason, and interpret sounds and sights. Just like any muscle, the more a child’s cognitive development is flexed, the better it functions.

Children need daily quality interactions with the adults around them in order to sharpen their cognitive skills. This gives them a head start in their success in school and life.  

7 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Cognitive Development

1. Read Books

It’s never too early to introduce your child to the fascinating world of books. You can set the ball rolling by reading to them from 3 months of age. Choose books with more pictures than text during their earlier years.

Make reading fun by using different voices and acting out the story. Reading to your kids early in life helps trigger their curiosity, improves their focus and concentration, improves communication, and gives their literacy skills a hefty boost.

2. Encourage Outdoor Play

Lots of good things happen when kids trail outdoors. As they stamp on rocks, crawl under bushes, and pick flowers, they are coordinating multiple senses. Here are some of the benefits that outdoor play rakes in:

  • Improves attention
  • Enhances social and communication skills
  • Stokes their imagination
  • Strengthens their bodies while making them more agile
  • Gives their mood a boost
  • Builds motor skills
  • Helps regulate weight

3. Enthuse Them With Safe Non-Toxic Toys

Use Kleynimals-How to boost your child's cognitive development

There’s a reason why kids of all ages light up at the sight of a new toy. Toys draw in children like a magnet. That’s because they play a huge role in fostering their cognitive development. Here’s how they do that:

  • Improve memory and concentration
  • Encourage problem-solving
  • Teach cause and effect
  • Teach imitation
  • Improve motor skills and dexterity
  • Trigger curiosity

Only Purchase Safe Non-Toxic Toys – Kleynimals

It is important to ensure that you only buy safe non-toxic toys for your kids. A lot of conventional toys are laced with harmful chemicals which leach out when babies grasp them or put them in their mouths.

This means that in your quest to boost your child’s cognitive skills, you could end up crippling their health if you purchase toys laced with harmful chemicals.

Be hawk-eyed while purchasing toys. Opt for safe toys such as those manufactured using organic materials.

Kleynimals- A Safe Bet

Our Kleynimals are the perfect choice of safe non-toxic toys for your child. They are organic toy keys made from 100% stainless food-grade steel. They are free from harmful toxins like BPA, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, cadmium among others.

Kleynimals are suitable for babies who can sit unaided. As babies touch them, rattle them, and nibble on them, they are improving their ability to perceive sound, learning about cause and effect, and honing their fine motor skills.

4. Visit Interesting Places

You can open up a brand new world for your kids by taking them to fun places like children’s museums, amusement parks, farmers markets, famous landmarks in your area, the library, the beach among others.

As you explore these places, take time to answer their myriad of questions. As they savor a new world, they learn new things and perk up their imagination and curiosity.

5. Sing and Dance

Watching your child twirl in a jig does more than send you into fits of laughter. As they move and sing along, they are reaping several benefits:

  • Improved memory
  • Better mood
  • Improved literacy and numeracy skills
  • Improved motor skills
  • Greater confidence and creativity

You can start with simple nursery rhymes and move on to more advanced music as they grow.

6. Assign Chores

Having your kids take up chores is another brilliant way of stoking their cognitive abilities. Chores help them develop hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. The earlier you encourage your kids to participate with chores the better for them.

2-3-year-olds can for instance help in cleaning up toys and sorting out clothes by color. 4-5-year-olds can wipe up spills and water houseplants. As they grow they move to more advanced chores.

7. Answer Their Flurry of Questions

Kids take the trophy for shooting the most questions. One study showed that children ask an average of 73 questions each day. That’s a lot, honestly. But it is a good thing where their cognitive development is concerned.

By asking questions, children are able to understand how things work. This in turn helps sharpen their problem-solving skills. It also helps them understand the concept of cause and effect.     

Final Thoughts

Kids are constantly exploring their environment and prodding the adults around them in a bid to understand how things work. The quality of a child’s experiences in their early years sets the stage for their brain development.

Parents/guardians should not let this narrow slice of time slip through the cracks. We trust that you are now armed with ways to boost your child’s cognitive development. As you do this, you are inadvertently setting your kids up for success.

Non-Toxic Baby Toys: 7 Ways to Sift Through the Junk While Buying Your Baby’s Toys

Being a parent is a tad frightening these days. There are so many ills to contend with. There are pesticides in kids’ bedding, harsh chemicals in bubble baths, toxins in crayons, and harmful chemicals in toys among many other perils. 

Parents buy toys to keep their tots enthused and to stoke their social and cognitive skills. Unfortunately, many of these toys brim over with harmful toxins that often leach out when kids nibble on them. These toxins cause severe health complications to children. 

It’s no longer business as usual, parents need to be hawk-eyed while purchasing toys. Fortunately, there are plenty of non-toxic baby toys available for your child. This article will show you how to niche down on them. 

Cracks in Toy Safety Manufacturing Laws

How do toxin-laden toys seep through the law and end up in the hands and mouths of little babies? In the USA, the buck stops with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). 

There are however many loopholes in their regulatory laws mainly because toy production is a complex global supply chain. Many companies in developed nations outsource their manufacturing overseas. This complicates the regulatory process and the rules are easily flouted. 

Furthermore, CPSC focuses mostly on mechanical safety such as the choking and laceration hazards. CPSC has also been mainly reactive in cracking the whip. In the past, they have only recalled toys after complaints are filed.   

Common Toxins in Baby Toys and Their Harmful Effects

What’s your idea of a perfect toy? We bet that you fancy soft, sturdy, durable, colorful, affordable, and heat-resistant toys. Toy manufactures are privy to this and will go to any lengths to churn out your dream toys. 

Unfortunately, many of them use harmful chemicals that are crippling to kids’ health. Here are some common toxic chemicals found in baby toys.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) and Phthalates

PVC goes down as the most environmentally impairing plastic, from its production to disposal. PVC is all around us – in home furnishings, packaging, building materials, and sadly in children’s toys. 

It has a high chlorine content which causes toxic pollution in the environment. Phthalates on the other hand are thrown in to make PVC soft and flexible. 

Phthalates are notorious for triggering hormone disruption, birth defects, asthma, liver problems, early puberty, and low fertility. They also exacerbate the risk of both testicular and breast cancer. 

Other harmful chemical compounds found in PVC are lead, cadmium, and organotin which have devastating effects on the human body. 

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is an industrial chemical that is commonly used to make plastic strong, heat resistant, and light in weight. BPA easily leaches to the human body and causes great harm to infants and children. It is an endocrine disruptor that throws the body’s hormones into disarray.

BPA can interfere with the development of prostate glands, alter brain development, cause infertility, obesity, cancer, and liver problems. It has also been linked to high blood pressure. 

Lead

Lead can be found in the paint, metal, and plastic parts of some toys. It is used to soften plastic, make it flexible, and as a stabilizer from heat. It causes nerve damage, reproductive problems and has been linked to low IQ and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

Flame Retardants

These are added to toys to make them less flammable. They are endocrine disruptors that trigger reproductive problems and birth defects. They also cause dermatitis, allergies, asthma, and some types of cancer. 

Formaldehyde

This is colorless flammable gas with a pungent smell. It is used as a preservative in water-based toys. Exposure to formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, and throat while long-term exposure has been linked to some types of cancer. 

Children Are More Vulnerable to Toxins

If an adult and a child were both nibbling on a toxin-laden toy, the child would be more adversely affected. Children are more susceptible to environmental toxins and hazards. In our case, the child would ingest a larger dose of the toxins than the adult in proportion to their smaller body.

Additionally, a child’s body is still developing so their detoxification system may not be able to flush out the toxins.  

How to Choose Non-Toxic Baby Toys

Here is a cheat sheet that will help you dodge harmful toys:

1. Avoid Plastic Toys

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Plastic is the most common material in conventional toys. Though not all plastic toys are created equal, most plastic toys are chock full of harmful chemicals that leach out and cause untold harm to children. 

2. Avoid Cheap Toys

Cheap is expensive. It’s appalling to think of the harmful toxins hiding in cheap toys. Steer clear of dirt-cheap toys especially from countries where toy production laws are sloppy.  

3. Avoid Toys That Smell

If a toy has a ‘chemical-like’ smell, steer clear of it. If it smells fruity, it is most likely having some phthalates in it. 

4. Opt For Stainless Steel Toys – Kleynimals

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Your tot gawks with longing at your house keys. They love the tinkling sound. They would love to fiddle with them before shoving them into their mouth. But you know that keys often contain lead, not to mention the gunk they accumulate over the years. So you keep your keys far from your child. 

How about enthusing your little cherub with their own organic, non-toxic and safe set of keys that they can rattle and nibble on to their heart’s content? Our Kleynimals are kid’s toy keys made from food-grade stainless steel that is 100% non-toxic. 

Kleynimals are manufactured in the USA and are durable, dishwasher safe, recyclable, heat and fire-resistant. They are suitable for babies that can sit unaided.

5. Opt For Wooden Toys

Opt for non-toxic wooden toys made from natural wood that is devoid of toxic paint or finishes. Wood is durable, biodegradable, and recyclable. It’s great for both your child and the environment.  

6. Opt For Natural Rubber Toys

Opt for toys made from natural non-toxic rubber that has been harvested naturally without the use of herbicides. Rubber is environmentally friendly because it is biodegradable. 

7. Opt For Organic Stuffed Animals

Babies love cuddling with plush toys. Non-toxic stuffed animals that are made from organic fabrics like cotton, wool, bamboo, or hemp are a great choice. Ensure that they do not contain any non-toxic dyes and pigments. 

Final Thoughts

It is paralyzing to think of the plethora of harmful chemicals that children come into contact with through toys. Parents need to keep their eyes peeled to ensure that they only purchase non-toxic baby toys. We trust that the tips we have shared will help you fortify your kids from this peril.   

If you are looking for the perfect non-toxic, heirloom-quality American made baby gift, this is it! Kleynimals Baby Flatware Set.

This is NOT a paid or sponsored post; there are just a handful of items that I absolutely LOVE to gift to the babies in my life – and this is one of them!

This is one of my favorite products out there and, if you have been reading my blog for a while you know I don’t give this kind of praise lightly. The quality and design of this baby flatware set is excellent, and I trust this brand 100%. [Full XRF test results are below if you are interested!] When I first learned of Kleynimals’ products I approached them (not the other way around) and asked them to sponsor my website — because I thought their products and their company were amazing, and something I could wholly endorse!

Kirsten, the owner of Kleynimals, was able to support my advocacy work and website by becoming a sponsor in May of 2019. [Sadly, Kleynimals is currently no longer able to financially support my advocacy work (in large part due to the impacts of the pandemic) — but I STILL LOVE THEIR PRODUCTS!] Now, during these wild times we are all in – I want to return the favor and make sure to share with my readers about how much I love these products and hopefully encourage y’all to purchase one or two or five!!!! – one for each of the babies in your life! [I just sent the flatware pictured here to my favorite cousin in Germany who has a baby – I am excited to see what he (the baby!) thinks of them!]

Did you know that many antique silver baby spoons may have unsafe levels of Lead?

The Kleynimals baby flatware set is a must-have alternative to some of the antique silver baby spoons you may have in your life — because a lot of those antique silver baby spoons actually have unsafe levels of Lead! You can read more about that here on this link:

If you do buy one of Kirsten’s products (and the baby flatware is just one of the very thoughtful, non-toxic, stainless steel baby things she makes and sells), you are not only buying something saferfor the babies in your life, but you are also supporting a small, woman-owned business during a very difficult time – a business that is also committed to making products right here at home in the United States. If you are a mom, or an auntie with a bunch of older kids in your life (like me!) and expect to be a grandma or great-aunt soon – please consider helping to keep Kleynimals in business in 2021 by buying multiple sets of their baby flatware (and rattles too!), so you can set them aside and have them on hand to give to each of the new babies when they are born in to your family!

I love their products because, not only are they high quality stainless steel, they are very well made, sturdy and truly heirloom quality products (and let’s not forget cute, super cute!) If you buy them for your grandkids now, I expect they will be handed down for generations.

For more information from Tamara Rubin, child health advocate and environmental activist, please look at her website: tamararubin.com

5 Simple Ways to Make Life Easier for Your Sensitive Kid

Sensory smart parenting made easy.

Jayden, an active preschooler, loves the playground. After a few minutes, he’s so revved up that he starts running around, bulldozes over other children in his path, and then digs into the sandbox, spraying his little sister, Jenny, nearby. Jenny starts crying because she hates sand on her skin, and it’s sticking more than usual because she refused to let you properly rub in sunblock. She can’t stand that either. You manage to calm both kids down and head to the supermarket because you forgot to buy frozen spinach cakes, the only vegetable they’ll eat. You bribe them with cookies to behave and grab another brand of spinach cakes because they’re out of the usual one. Maybe they won’t notice? Fortunately, your spouse bathes the kids so you can make dinner, turning up the music to tune out the complaints:

“The bath is too hot!”
“You’re pulling my hair!”
“My pajamas hurt!”
“That music is too LOUD!”

Then you serve dinner. The kids are pleased with the mac n’ cheese at exactly the temperature they like but … the spinach cakes are WRONG. Jenny starts to wail and Jayden calls her a baby. And the nighttime battles begin.

Quirks vs. Sensory Issues?

Do your child’s likes and dislikes make you feel like you’re catering to a cute but impossible dictator? All of us have preferences and intolerances. But there’s a big difference between the endearing quirks that all kids have and sensory issues that make living with children SO very difficult at times.

We all learn through our senses, both the familiar ones—touch, sight, sound, taste and smell—and some that are less well known: vestibular (our sense of movement), proprioception (our internal body awareness), and interoception (our sense of physiological well-being or distress). Sensory processing refers to how we transform all of these sensory messages into useful information so we know what’s going on in the world and with our bodies so we can respond proportionately.

Some of our kids, and some of us, are wired differently. When people have sensory processing issues, their brains do not interpret sensory information accurately and reliably, so their responses may be out of proportion. They may overreact to certain sensory experiences that don’t seem to bother anyone else. They might be hypersensitive, feeling things too intensely and thus overreacting to a tiny scratch or to getting messy with glue or paint. The hypersensitive child might be fussy about clothing or food textures. A child can also be hyposensitive (underreactive), needing a lot of input for it to register in his brain—stuffing his mouth with food to feel it in there, sprawling on the floor during circle time to feel the floor beneath him, or playing too roughly at recess. Many kids have sensory meltdowns when there is too much input to process, as can happen in a busy classroom or crowded store. Fortunately there are “sensory smart” parenting hacks you can use to minimize the effect of these sensitivities.

1.Keep a journal to help you predict and prepare for sensory-related problems.

Write out where the problem happened, what preceded it, the problematic behavior and what seemed to help.

2. Create a visual or written list of the day’s events so your child knows what to expect.

Children (and many adults) feel more confident and capable when they know what’s ahead. If a disliked activity is planned, collaborate on ways to make it more tolerable such as downloading favorite music on your smartphone for your child to hear while she’s sitting in the doctor’s office.

3. Bring a bag of tricks to help your child stay on an even keel.

If you know your child gets fidgety when waiting in line, keep a supply of calming items: an unbreakable snow globe, a container of putty, chewing gum and so on. If your child is sensitive to noise, bring sound-reducing earmuffs, noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.

4. Get them moving! Kids need to move, some more than others.

If your child is bouncing off the walls when it’s time to sit down for dinner, plan ahead and have him get intense movement before dinner such as climbing a few sets of stairs, jumping on a mini-trampoline with a safety bar (or a mat on the floor), running laps and so on. If your kid loves screens, put on a gonoodle.com or other online activity that encourages movement. Exercise keeps kids healthy and also generates those feel-good chemicals that keep kids happy too.

5. Take breaks and don’t over-schedule.

We’re all overworked and overbooked these days. We mighy be used to it, and lots of kids thrive on being busy, but sensitive kids need downtime. Keeping it together at school all day among active kids and all of those academic, social and behavioral demands is a lot to ask of a sensitive child. Taking a short restorative break in a quiet, softly lit room or taking a peaceful walk in a park after school can make all the difference!

When to Get Help

Some kids, teens and adults have sensory challenges so significant that they interfere with learning, playing, working—and the ability to parent confidently. Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of children have what’s called sensory processing disorder (SPD), including those diagnosed with autism and attention deficits, as well as kids who do not have any other developmental issues. The Sensory Checklist in Raising a Sensory Smart Child, which you can also download from sensorysmarts.com, will help you better understand your child’s sensitivities. A pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in sensory challenges can help you create more sensory-friendly environments and routines while, even more importantly, building your child’s ability to better process everyday sensory experiences.


Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L, is an occupational therapist with a private practice in New York City. She is co-author of the award-winning book, Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues.

Written by Lindsey Biel for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

5 Fast and Healthy Finger Foods Your Toddler Will Actually Eat

It’s been a long time since I had to worry about this since my boys are now 12 and 15, but I do remember these days! I also admit that it wasn’t just when they were toddlers that they were picky… they still prefer an all carb meal when given the chance. I hope you find these recipes helpful! ~Kirsten

These tasty meals can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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Working Mother

The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook Photo: amazon.com

Cooking one meal for a family is hard enough for a working mom. It gets worse when you also have to make something separate for younger kids who are either too little or too picky to have what everybody else is eating. But it doesn't have to be this way! There are plenty of easy and tasty recipes that can be enjoyed by toddlers and the rest of the family.

The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook: Your Baby Learns to Eat Solid Foods, You Enjoy the Convenience of One Meal for Everyone by Gill Rapley, Ph.D., and Tracey Murkett contains 99 dishes that will please even the fussiest kids. The recipes are a great way to introduce children to solid foods while eliminating all of the extra cooking.

Here are some quick and easy finger foods that your whole family will love:

These soft, sticky discs of sweet potato are excellent served warm as a side or cold as a salad. They go very well with roasted meats and casseroles and take just minutes to prepare before roasting.

Serves a family of four to six.

Ingredients

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed orange
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F (180 ̊C). Slice the sweet potatoes crosswise into chunky rounds, about 1⁄2 inch (1.5cm) thick. Lay the rounds on a large baking sheet.

  2. Mix together the orange zest and juice, the oil and thyme leaves and pour over the potato rounds. Turn them over so that they are coated on all sides.

  3. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

  4. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 5 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potato is very tender and the sauce has reduced and become sticky. Serve warm or cold.

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Working Mother

Banana Pita Pockets Photo: Ruth Jenkinson

Recipe from The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

One of the easiest breakfasts ever, this recipe includes a couple of simple textures for your baby to explore. Don’t be surprised if she squishes the banana out to play with before eating it!

Serves one adult and one baby

Ingredients

-1 large pita
– 1 large ripe banana, mashed

Method

  1. Warm the pita under the broiler (it will puff up slightly), then tear or slice it open around the edge.

  2. Spread the mashed banana over the inside, then fold the pita back together and cut it into fingers. Serve while still warm.

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Working Mother

Carrot & Pineapple Muffins Photo: Ruth Jenkinson

Recipe from The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

These delicious, lightly spiced muffins are naturally sweet, with all the sweetness coming from the pineapple, carrots and apple. They can also be made as mini muffins, which are perfect to take out and about as a snack. They freeze well, too, defrosting in four to six hours at room temperature.

Makes 12 standard-sized muffins or 20 mini muffins

Ingredients

  • A little oil or unsalted butter, for greasing
  • ½ cup (100ml) sunflower or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ¼ cups (150g) peeled and grated carrots
  • ¾ packed cup (135g) drained crushed pineapple
  • ½ cup (75g) golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (100g) sugar-free applesauce (preferably homemade)
    -Finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed orange

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F (180 ̊C) and grease 12 large or 20 small holes of a silicone muffin pan (or line the holes with paper liners).

  2. Put the oil, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and whisk.

  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, pineapple, raisins, applesauce and orange zest and stir. Pour in the oil, egg and vanilla mixture and stir gently (or fold) until the flour is just combined (avoid overmixing, which will make the muffins tough).

  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (14 to 18 minutes for mini muffins), until the muffins are risen and a rich golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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Working Mother

Mini Quiches Photo: Ruth Jenkinson

Recipe from The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

These crustless individual quiches, made in a muffin tin, make an excellent breakfast, lunch or snack and are very quick to prepare. They keep well in the fridge for three to five days and freeze well, too.

Makes 12 quiches

Ingredients

  • A little oil or unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2/3 cup (75g) grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (25g) unsalted butter, melted

Optional fillings – 1 2/3 cups (50g) shredded fresh spinach leaves
– 1/3 cup (50g) sweet corn kernels (no added salt)
– 1/3 cup (50g) cherry tomatoes, chopped
– 1/3 cup (50g) frozen peas
– 1/3 cup (50g) chopped red, yellow or orange bell pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 ̊F (200 ̊C) and grease a 12-hole silicone muffin pan (or line a metal muffin pan with paper liners).

  2. Put the eggs, milk, cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Stir in your chosen filling (if any), then pour the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole to around two-thirds full.

  3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the quiches are a rich golden brown and are nicely risen.

  4. Leave the quiches in the pan for at least 20 minutes (they will sink a little) before turning them out to finish cooling.

Tip

Silicone muffin pans are generally easier to use and clean than metal ones, especially for this recipe. If you don’t have a silicone pan, line your metal pan with paper liners. The quiches will be easier to turn out.

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Working Mother

Sweet Corn Fritters Photo: Ruth Jenkinson

Recipe from The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

These fritters make a quick savory breakfast. They’re delicious on their own, but when served with sour cream or guacamole they’re a great way to give your baby some practice at dipping.

Makes eight fritters–enough for one adult, one child and one baby

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (50g) self-rising flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Half a 15.25-ounce (432g) can sweet corn (no added salt or sugar), drained and rinsed
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons oil, for frying

Method

  1. Put the flour in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and whisk well to form a thick batter. Stir in the drained sweet corn kernels and black pepper (if using). Mix well.

  2. If you want a smoother texture, pour the batter into a food processor and whizz for a minute or two to crush the kernels.

  3. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium to high heat. When the pan is hot, pour 1 tablespoon of batter into the pan for each fritter. It should be possible to cook around four fritters at a time. Let them cook for around 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown, then remove them from the pan. Add a little more oil and cook the remaining batter in two or three batches.

To serve

Serve warm or cold, perhaps with some sour cream or simple guacamole with the fritters cut into halves or quarters for your baby.

Written by Joseph Barberio for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

This Tale of Baby Sign Language Gone Wrong Has Us Cracking Up

Be careful what you teach your tot!

Sign language is a smart way to communicate with babies before they’re verbal—so long as they’re using the correct signs. One mom discovered, in the most mortifying way possible, she’d taught her daughter some very incorrect signs.

Thankfully, she took to Reddit to share the hilarious story with all of us. Prepare to laugh.

The funny mom began her tale by saying she’d decided to start teaching her little one American Sign Language after seeing other babies using it in her weekly mommy and me class. (To be clear, this is not her scene. She received a membership as a “gift” from her mother-in-law, because “she doesn’t think I am socializing her grandchild enough and this was her way of passive-aggressively correcting my parenting.”)

One day, while her husband was out of town and she didn’t feel like cooking, she took her daughter to a local burger joint. All seems to be going well, she says, as her daughter uses her newly learned sign language to signal what she wants.

“The server brings a little styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw filled with water for my daughter, and I set it out of her reach so she doesn’t hulk smash the styrofoam and make a mess. So of course every time she wants some, she signs ‘drink.’ And every time she wants my attention, she signs ‘dad’ because apparently the slightly different sign for ‘mom’ isn’t as fun for her. Ok, whatever.”

But then the mom notices a couple of women nearby “who are also signing to each other but they’re looking over at us and snickering.” She confesses she just quickly looked up the signs online, so she may have botched them, but on their way out the door, the two women kindly let her know just how badly she botched them. And it’s priceless.

“They stop by our table and one of them lays her iPhone down with a message typed out for me to read. It says something to the effect of ‘she’s calling you "dumb” and telling you she wants to drink alcohol.’”

Yep. As it turns out, there are two different signs, one for requesting a non-alcoholic beverage, and one for requesting alcohol. She’d taught her daughter the latter. And since her daughter was balling up her first up instead of using a flat hand at her forehead, she was calling her mom "dumb" instead of "dad.”

Oops.

She clarified that the two women who set her straight were very friendly. “Please understand that the conversation that took place with the deaf women was totally lighthearted; they were not correcting our signing to be rude or in thinking that I was trying to teach my child proper ASL. They thought my baby was cute and struck up conversation, and it was funny and welcome!”

The mom posted her story in the appropriately-titled subreddit TIFU, or Today I F*cked Up, and commenters jumped in to share their own sign language snafus. The entire thread is well worth reading if you need a laugh.

“I can only imagine what the Pinterest moms would’ve done had I shown up next week with my kid asking to drink liquor,” the mom quips.

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Can Yelling Be a Part of Healthy Parenting?

Every parent is guilty of yelling at their children at least once or twice. But why do parents yell at their kids? There are many different reasons, but the most common two are:

  • Having the feeling of powerlessness or not being able to control the kids. When you feel your kids are disobedient or hard-headed, you may lose your temper to get their attention
  • When you think you’re protecting the kids from any perceived threat, like when a toddler runs to the poolside and attempts to jump off

Regardless of the reason and whether it was on purpose or not, yelling at your child can leave serious long-term effects on them, ones which they may carry with them into adulthood. I know kids can get on our nerves sometimes, but before you lose your temper, consider this.

Yelling Worsens Behavior Problems in Children

Research shows that yelling could create more behavior problems rather than correcting them. HVD or "harsh verbal discipline", especially on adolescents, can cause an increase in behaviors like lying and stealing, which can turn into petty crimes and depressive symptoms later on.

Yelling Alters Proper Development of the Child's Brain

A study showed that children who are exposed to parental verbal aggression like being yelled or cursed at are likely to develop mood and anxiety disorders. These disorders are known as forms of psychopathology, which slows down normal brain development. When this occurs, auditory and language processing in the child is negatively affected. Being quiet, aloof and anti-social are the most common characteristic shown in children with mood and anxiety disorders.

Yelling Can Lead to Depression

HVD or "harsh verbal discipline", like shouting, cursing, insults, humiliation or calling the child names can make the child feel neglected and unloved, thus making them believe they are useless, worthless and inferior. This treatment can also increase chances of the child becoming overly self-critical and deficient in self-esteem. The child usually shows inactivity and low performance on tasks assigned to him especially at home and school.

Stress may also trigger certain illnesses, psychological imbalances and abnormalities in the brain pathways that involve emotional regulation, movement and habit formation. These conditions can include trichotillomania–excessive hair pulling, which is often observed in a stressed child who has lost their ability to control their impulses. Take a trichotillomania test for diagnosis and proper treatment.

Yelling Can Cause Chronic Pain

A study showed a link between negative childhood experiences, verbal and other forms of abuse and the further development of painful chronic conditions, which may include arthritis, severe headache, back and neck problems and other chronic pains. As the child becomes emotionally and psychologically depressed, appetite and other healthcare protocols may be forgotten or not prioritized, making the body susceptible to illness.

Yelling Should Never Be a First Resort

Words are powerful, especially when delivered in anger or frustration. Sometimes negative words are much easily absorbed by the brain and the heart than positive words. So choose your words especially when dealing with children because what you say to them is how they will see themselves in the future.

Written by Guest Author for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Could You Be Experiencing Parenting Burnout?

If you're a parent, you've probably at some point experienced parenting burnout. Your weekends away from work may be filled with activities for your kids from sports games, to play dates, and even Sunday school. Between all that there can be standoffs you have with a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum, and negotiations on how to get your kids to bed.

If you work throughout the week, it may seem like you're never getting a moment to switch your brain off from work, and if you're a stay at home mom, it could feel as if you're working on call 24/7. At some point, the buildup of parenting responsibilities can make us hit a wall. Many parents now have this internal pressure to be a superhero and to do it all. Be a boss and a parent at the same time while cooking every meal throughout the week and staying social in the evenings. All of this pressure and responsibilities can make you feel like you're losing your mind.

Parenting burnout is real, but so are the solutions to help you find your balance. To help you cope with the stress that comes from parenting, I've outline the signs that you could be experiencing burnout, and how to fix them.

  • Losing your ability to concentrate: Specifically on work tasks like you used to.  When you’re experiencing burnout – this can turn into chronic stress which can lead to a lack of mental clarity and other cognitive issues.
  • Losing control: Feeling as if you have zero control of any outcome, and almost as if you never have a say in what is happening in your day to day life.
  • Feeling as if you’re never doing enough : Between your own parenting instincts and everything you read in articles, you may feel like there’s always some new form of parenting that you aren’t quite getting right.
  • Lack of feeling accomplished: Feeling as if you aren’t making any progress with your own life’s goals outside of being a parent.
  • A loss of energy: Feeling as if you never have any energy to socialize, or rarely experiencing energy at all. Constant exhaustion is an extremely clear sign of burnout- and it can be a blend of physical, mental and emotional fatigue.
  • Never feeling rewarded: Parenting can be a thankless job. This could leave you feeling like you’re being taken for granted or that all of your efforts are not recognized.
  • No room for self-care: Not making self-care or “me” time a priority.
  • Irritability and frustration: Feeling extra irritable and experiencing a short temper with your kids and spouse.

Steps you can take to reverse your burnout:

  • Don’t strive for perfection: Trying to be perfect at everything is self-destructive and sets yourself up for failure. You may always feel like you’re never doing things the right way, and that’s OK. A lot of us put such a focus on being perfect because we are afraid to fail as parents. Instead, focus on doing your best
  • Prioritize your mental and physical wellbeing:  Make sure you create non-negotiables throughout the day such as making time to work out, eat nutrient dense meals, and get enough sleep. Also taking breaks throughout the work day to take walks around the block, or standing up to stretch your legs.
  • Take a break : Typically when you are experiencing burnout – you are overworked, overstimulated, and reaching your mental capacity. It might sound scary to take a break when there seems to be never ending parental duties, but the results can make a significant impact on reversing your feelings of burnout. Taking time for yourself for a quick yoga class to reset your mind, detach from responsibilities can help you come back to your parenting mindset with more confidence and clarity. This could also be the ideal time to rediscover your passions and creativity. Have your partner watch the kids while you break free for a class or even hire a babysitter if you want to connect with your spouse on a date night.
  • Listen to your body: When you are feeling mentally or physically fatigued, take a break. Don’t try to power through and work through these signals your body is giving you. If you are experiencing frequent headaches or stomachaches, these could be manifestations from stress.
  • Get organized: By putting some time management and project management systems in place, your day can become more structured which can lead to less feelings of constant stress. I know it can be hard to follow routines when kids have consistent needs throughout the day that can change suddenly, but having some sort of guidance can help you feel more put together.

With these tips you can better understand how to recognize when you're experiencing parenting burnout, and how to reverse it! What can you do today to reset your mind and bring more balance to your life?

About the author: Dr. Tenisha White

Dr. Tenisha White is a Clinical Psychologist at ClarityChi.com. In 2005 she earned her first Master's degree in mental health counseling at Loyola University New Orleans. In 2010 Dr. White returned back home to Chicago to pursue her doctorate degree at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she obtained a second Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology in 2016.

Dr. White has experience in providing individual, family, couples and group therapy for a wide range of individuals with diverse backgrounds. Dr. White's areas of clinical focus include adjustment issues, mood and anxiety disorders, academic issues, family issues, relationship issues and behavior issues. She has a dedication to being involved in the community and has provided workshops for community programs and employers, which include stress management, conflict resolution, improving communication skills, understanding depression and developing effective coping skills.

Written by Dr. Tenisha White for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Talented Dad’s Comics Show the Sweet and Funny Sides of Parenting

They are so right about why being a parent is totally worth it.

As a father, John Kovaleski knows parenting comes with a lot of hard work. But it’s the little moments that make it all worth it.

In his new comic strip, Daddy Daze, the Pennsylvania dad and cartoonist is illustrating the humorous moments that come along with being a parent. The comic follows the life of a single dad named Paul as he balances working from home and raising his young son Angus. According to Kovaleski, the strip is inspired by his own life and experiences as a father.

Daddy Daze is a loosely based portrayal of my experiences with fatherhood, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it. Being a parent is a crazy job—the hours are terrible, the pay is nonexistent, but the benefits outweigh it all,” he said in a press release.

Daddy Daze is available in newspapers nationwide and can also be read on the strip’s website and social media pages. Here are some that truly nail what it’s like to be a working parent:

Being a Parent Pays Off

Thinking Outside the Box

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Probably a good idea to keep it “inside the box” for now. Photo: Daddy Daze

Better Get Comfy

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This could take a while. Photo: Daddy Daze

Safety First

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I like the way this kid thinks. Photo: Daddy Daze

Better Check Twice

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You can never be too careful. Photo: Daddy Daze

Close Enough

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It’s the thought that counts. Photo: Daddy Daze

Changed in a Moment’s Notice

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“Is it mom’s turn yet?” Photo: Daddy Daze

Recipe For Sticky Floors

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Clean up on aisle three. Photo: Daddy Daze

Sleep Training

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He should probably work on sleeping through the entire night before asking for a curfew. Photo: Daddy Daze

An Enviable To-Do List

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Sounds like a busy day. Photo: Daddy Daze

Written by Joseph Barberio for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Dear Companies: Don’t Talk So Much About Productivity. Focus Instead on Supporting Parents This School Year

COVID-19 has turned every kind of working mom arrangement there was completely on its head, and it is urgent that organizations find new ways—impactful ways—to support their working moms and working women as school starts.

While every woman’s situation is unique, there are some commonalities across us upon which organizations can mobilize, for the purpose of easing employees’ everyday lives. The first step is to stop asking, over and over again, “How do we ensure our workforce is being as productive as possible working from home?” It borders on an insult to the women who have advanced the concept of “multitasking” to spellbinding performance art. Focus instead on how to ease their situation, which of course means that organization policymakers must first understand it.

The key issue in organizations is that, with so few women in the C-suite, or even the executive leadership ranks, CEOs are not likely to understand the intense pressure put specifically on women during this work-from-home pandemic. The CEO and the working women in the organization simply don’t share the same household income and range of choices of how to organize and assign work at home. Here’s what they’re likely to miss:

  • Women were already working harder to be seen, heard and rewarded for their performance before COVID-19.
  • With COVID-19, there are more meetings, and the days are longer, more intense and more exhausting for everyone.
  • The pleasure that once was found in the inherently social nature of work—the casual conversations, the connections with colleagues during the day—is gone.
  • For working parents, the rhythm of having part of their day separate from their kids, who were at school, daycare or home, and rejoining them at the end of it is gone. It’s all family, 24/7, all the time, every day.

For many, but certainly not all, women, research tells us they do a disproportionately larger share of the household chores in heterosexual households—two-plus hours more every day. And somehow, the new job in every house with children—that of the home tutor—has fallen to the female in the majority of those households. My women clients tell me they’re dealing with emails at 6 a.m., and then family and work in an all-out effort until 9 or 10 p.m. Just after they stop for the day, their boss sends out that after-hours email.

So, how can managers support women and homeschooling parents this September?

The strategy is simply this: Ease the lives of the mothers in your workforce.

  1. Immediately include benefits for virtual tutoring for the kids. Provide the funds necessary across the economic spectrum of your working population for tutors to do the teaching at the end of the classroom day.
  2. Host a live speaker series for the men in the organization focused on how they can step up at home and be an equal partner in the entire scope of house and family work. Don’t worry if it’s not “masculine.” (A recent survey found men in the US were not taking reusable shopping bags to the market because they felt it was unmanly). Teach men how all that “unseen” work gets done for home and children, and encourage them to take on their fair share.
  3. Provide anywhere from two days to one week off on a rolling basis across the workforce so people have time to recover and deal with other things. The companies doing this are trying to synch up cross-functional teams for time off so that the group’s workstream is preserved. They find productivity increases with this adjustment.
  4. Host a Virtual Hacks night. Showcase the moms and dads who’ve figured out clever solutions to handling the new challenges brought on by the quarantine. Maybe it’s tips on scheduling regimens, or less-known virtual learning tools for kids.
  5. Last, don’t assume that this household-driven help is all women need. With the same passion they have for family, they also want to have career development discussions, talk about compensation, performance and their future. Be proactive in setting up those discussions! They are on the minds of the women and working moms of your organization just as they are on the minds of their male colleagues.

Written by Susan Hodgkinson for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.