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.

5 Sure-Fire Tips That Preschool Teachers Swear By – They Help in Molding Well Rounded Kids

Happy boy in preschool

You’ve got to give it to preschool teachers. How do they do it? Do they have some uncanny superpowers up their sleeves?

Isn’t it baffling how they effortlessly flip the veil of ignorance off the tender minds of children? Before you know it, your child can tie their shoelaces and fix their snack like a pro.

Whether you home school your child or they attend a public or private preschool, there are many gems that parents can glean from how preschool education is tailored.

A child’s first years of life are the springboard for their future abilities. Preschool education offers young children a stimulating and caring environment where they can harness their cognitive and social skills.

We scoured through some of the common preschool programs and cherry-picked some of their best practices. Parents can use these tactics at home to help stimulate their kids’ cognitive and social development.

1. Following a Child’s Cue

Some preschool programs like Montessori and Reggio Emilia allow the child to steer the wheel in their education journey. In a Montessori preschool, the child walks into a tidy, beautiful environment that is peppered with many stimulating materials.

The child is free to choose the form of play/activity they wish to concentrate on, whatever floats their boat. The materials are thoughtfully selected to support the child’s cognitive and social development.

The child is allowed to explore the materials to their heart’s content and at their own pace. The teacher only acts as a guide. He/she observes the child’s interests and helps the child to make intellectual interpretations.

This approach works like a charm because each child is unique. Allowing a child to explore activities on their terms (without imposing things that don’t pique their interest) makes learning enjoyable. It also bolsters their confidence, teaches them how to work independently and concentrate on a task.

2. Using Thoughtfully Selected Sensory Materials

Both the Montessori and the Reggio Emilia early childhood programs use thoughtfully selected materials for multi-sensory learning.

In Montessori, materials are scientifically designed to help the child learn and master complex concepts. The materials are designed to allow the child to correct their errors without requiring the help of an adult.

They allow independent learning, practice, and repetition, thereby sharpening a child’s cognitive abilities. Such materials include sound cylinders, classification cards, movable alphabets, beads, dressing frames, and puzzle maps among others.

Montessori’s hands-on activities include opening bottle caps, pouring and scooping, gluing paper, sweeping, matching socks, among others.

The Reggio Emilia curriculum also uses hands-on, skill-building, and mentally stimulating materials to stoke a child’s cognitive abilities. The teacher identifies a child’s interests and creates projects in line with them.

The classrooms are large common places with natural elements like sand, leaves, branches, and stones. You may also find some complex items like wire cutters, scissors, and hammers. Hands-on activities include painting, dancing, playing real musical instruments, reading and writing.   

Tip: You can help stimulate your baby’s sense of touch, sight, and sound all the while developing their motor skills using our non-toxic stainless rattles and Jangles.  

3. Peer to Peer Learning

One striking feature of the Montessori system is that it integrates children of mixed ages. Children aged 3-6 years are, for instance, grouped together.

This encourages peer-to-peer learning with older children naturally stepping up to assist the younger ones. Here are some benefits of peer to peer learning among preschoolers:

  • It helps the older kids master their tasks– As they teach the younger kids, they get a better grasp of the task at hand.
  • It cultivates leadership and mentorship skills -The older kids get to savor the thrill of teaching and showing the younger children around.
  • It cultivates empathy – The children learn how to treat others kindly and offer support.
  • It snuffs out unhealthy competition– It is natural for children of similar ages to compete. In mixed-age learning, this is replaced by sharing of skills and mentorship.

Tip: Allow older kids to put on their big kids’ caps and teach the younger kids tasks and skills while at home. 

4. Minimal Use of Technology

We are smack dab in a digital age with so many alluring devices in our homes. How do preschool teachers maneuver the murky waters of technology overload?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that exposure of young children (0-5 years) to media has far-reaching health and developmental effects. This is because their early years are sacred. They are critical for brain development, building relationships, and healthy behavior.

AAP recommends that babies under 18-24 months should not be exposed to screens other than video chatting.

On the other hand, children between 2-5 years should not use digital media for more than one hour each day. Parents should only expose them to high-quality programming and be alongside them as they consume the content.

Thankfully, most of the preschool programs encourage hands-on learning with the use of real materials and social interaction and shun the use of media.

In many preschools, there’s very limited use of media and when used, it is done as a supplement to education and not as a substitute.

The Waldorf Program however takes a very firm stance where media is concerned. Children under this curriculum are not allowed exposure to any form of media until they get to fifth grade.

5. Nurturing Each Child as a Unique Individual

Treating each child as a unique individual is perhaps the game changer in helping preschoolers thrive. Let’s face it, even parents sometimes plummet headfirst into the trap of comparing their kids.

Stacking kids up against each other exacerbates their stress and anxiety, and diminshes their self-esteem, among other unsavory effects.

In most preschool programs, respect and value of the child as a unique individual is the guiding principle. The children are allowed to learn at their own pace. They are constantly made aware that their views matter.

Competition is frowned upon and the teachers craft an individualized learning plan for each child. The Montessori and Reggio Emilia programs for instance hold the view that teachers, parents, and the community are merely collaborators in the child’s education.  

Final Thoughts

Preschool education gives children a sneak peek into the infinite world of learning. They learn best through materials and activities that make their hearts sing. Preschool education should not be about hitting academic goals.

On the contrary, it should be aimed at shaping well-rounded kids who are eager to explore their environment.

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.