Category Archives: Development

Sustainable, Non-Toxic Toys: Where Are We Headed Next?

Sustainable Baby Toys

As a parent, you’re probably familiar with what the typical playchest looks like: full. of. plastic. Unfortunately, while plastic is certainly convenient, plastic poses risks both to the environment and your child’s health.

This guide will discuss current progress in the world of sustainable, non-toxic toys, and will walk you through how to pick toys that are safe for the Earth and human health.

What’s the Problem with Conventional Toys?

As you may have gathered by now, our reliance on plastic is one of the main problems with toys today. Not only is plastic extremely carbon-intensive, as it’s made from fossil fuels, but it also can contain harmful chemicals. 

Unfortunately, a whopping 90% of toys on the market today are made from plastic. This reliance on plastic has severe environmental impacts, ranging from contributions to global warming to creating large amounts of plastic waste. For example, plastic often breaks down into microplastics that litter our land and oceans. Finally, when plastic toys end up in landfills, they can break down and leach chemicals into the air, soil, and water. Not only does this harm ecosystems, but it can also cause exposure to these chemicals through our food and drinking water.

Many plastic toys contain dangerous chemicals or heavy metals such as cadmium and lead. For example, some toys contain phthalates, a class of hormone-disrupting chemicals used to soften plastics. While some countries like the US and the EU have begun regulating the use of phthalates in toys, many toys do not undergo appropriate toy safety testing and may still contain the chemical. While exposure to dangerous chemicals in plastic toys is fairly low, the risk goes up if the toy is broken or your child chews on it.

Luckily, many of the innovations that make toys sustainable also make them safer for humans.

Making the Move to Safe, Eco-Friendly Toys

1. Check your materials

The materials a toy is made of are the biggest indicators of both sustainability and safety. We’ll tackle safety first. As mentioned above, many toys are manufactured with dangerous chemicals. Instead of buying plastic toys, consider buying toys made from non-toxic materials like stainless steel, which is 100% non-toxic. In fact, most of us put stainless steel into our mouths every day in the form of silverware. 

Other non-toxic materials for toys include unpainted wood, natural rubber, or toys made with wood that use natural, non-toxic sealants and dyes.

Sustainable toys employ many of the same materials as non-toxic toys. After all, if it’s toxic to humans, it’s often toxic to the environment as well. Luckily, avoiding plastic and other unsustainable materials is getting easier every day, as many toy companies are beginning to produce toys from new materials. For example, researchers are working on 3D-printing toys made from beetroot puree, a material that is not only healthier for children, but also has a much lower carbon footprint.

Other more sustainable materials to look out for include:

  • Stainless steel, like Kleynimals toys, which are 100% recyclable and made from around 50% recycled materials
  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Wood
  • Bamboo
  • Hemp
  • Other natural fibers

2. Ensure proper use

One of the main ways to make sure a toy is safe for your child is to make sure it’s being used as intended. Some toys can become dangerous when they’re taken apart, as this can cause choking hazards or exposure to toxic chemicals in toys. Some electronic toys may overheat. Make sure to read the instructions on any more complicated toys you buy to make sure your kid can play with it safely. It’s also important to monitor play, especially with toys with small parts or electronic toys. 

Your best bet, of course, is to simply use toys that are simple and non-toxic in every situation. For example, especially with babies and toddlers, there’s a strong chance that a toy will end up in their mouth whether it was meant to or not! Pick the safe option of simply buying a toy that is mouth-safe.

Finally, part of “proper use” is proper disposal when you’re done with the toy. First, you can always donate the toy to your local thrift shop. If the toy is beyond the point of usefulness, however, consider recycling it. Before chucking the toy in the trash, where it may end up leaching toxic chemicals from the landfill into our environment, check to see if the toy can be recycled. Many plastics and metals can be recycled, and some toys, like toys made of wood, might even be compostable!

3. Get safety-tested toys

As we discussed above, the best way to ensure your toys are safe is to buy toys made from safe materials. If you’re ever unsure, though, consider buying from manufacturers that adhere to strict toy safety testing procedures. This not only helps ensure the toy doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, but it also ensures that the toy is functional and safe to play with.

Some toys may also have sustainable certifications. For example, toys made from cotton may be GOTS certified, meaning they’re fully organic (which also means no toxic pesticides!). Another label to look out for is fair trade certification, which certifies that the toy was produced under ethical and sustainable conditions. 

4. Buy durable toys

Let’s face it – most kids are not exactly gentle with their toys. In fact, you can almost bet on toys ending up on the floor at least once, if not all the time! The best way to practice sustainability is to buy durable toys that you won’t need to replace every time they break. This helps reduce the need for more production of plastic, which helps limit the energy and emissions necessary to manufacture new toys.

Buying durable toys is also a smart measure to take in order to avoid small pieces breaking off and posing a choking risk.

Kleynimals toys are made entirely from stainless steel, so your child can truly put the toy through its paces without breaking it. And if (when!) the toy does get dropped, you can simply rub out any rough spots with a nail file to make it look brand new again!


How to Pick Safe Diapering Products: Nontoxic Diapers, Creams and Wipes

Safe Diapering Products

It can feel overwhelming when buying products for diapering your baby. There seem to be a million and one opinions on which diaper is the most leak proof, which rash cream is the most soothing and which wipes are the most effective.

As parents, safety is of course your number one concern. While there are many guides on how to diaper safely, many of us didn’t even consider the safety of the actual products we use. Unfortunately, some diapering products contain chemicals that can harm you and your baby.

If you’re wondering where to even begin, this guide is for you. Here are the basics on safe diapers, safe diaper creams, and safe diapering cleanup.

Safe Diapers

The main question when it comes to diapering is whether to use cloth or disposable diapers. Besides the possible environmental and economic benefits of cloth diapers, cloth diapers may win when it comes to safety as well.

Are Disposable Diapers Safe?

Disposable diapers contain many synthetic chemicals that may pose dangers to your health at high exposures. 

For example, many diapers use the chemical tributyltin (TBT), which is an irritant and which, at high levels, can cause nausea and diarrhea. Disposable diapers may also contain TBPP, a toxic plastic additive, as well as diethanolamine, a chemical used in a number of products that acts as a skin irritant. Lastly, disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, which works to absorb liquids. Sodium polyacrylate is also an irritant and can harm your baby through skin absorption.

It’s worth noting that although disposable diapers do contain chemicals, the level of exposure is likely not high enough to cause health problems. For example, one 2015 study found that while diapers may contain phthalates, hormone disrupting chemicals, exposure levels are extremely low and likely not dangerous. 

So while some disposable diapers may be safe, research is still ongoing, and it may be a good idea to avoid disposable diapers for now.

How to Pick Safe Cloth Diapers

Luckily, picking safe cloth diapers is pretty simple. The safest fabric to use for your cloth diapers is organically grown, undyed cotton. 

Cotton grown with pesticides or using conventional dyes can cause irritation and other health problems. Learn more about safe fabrics for your children here[1] .

Safe Diaper Creams & Baby Powders

Many parents rely on diaper creams and powders to help protect their baby’s sensitive skin. It’s important to read the ingredients on these products in order to make sure they’re safe.

Creams

When it comes to diaper rash creams, you don’t want to risk causing even more irritation! Many diaper creams contain fragrances and other chemicals that irritate the skin or cause other health problems. For example, many diaper creams use petroleum oil, which penetrates skin, stays there, and may even cause cancer.

A good natural option is coconut oil, which hydrates and soothes skin. If DIY isn’t your style, many brands out there sell non-toxic diaper creams.

It’s also important to make sure that any creams you use have been tested for skin irritation and are not expired. A good rule of thumb is to buy products that have an EWG Verified mark, which shows the cream doesn’t use harmful chemicals. Use their website to search for safe personal care products for your baby.

Baby Powders

While baby powder likely does not help diaper rash, it’s still a popular product for leaving the skin soft and dry. However, talc-based baby powder can contain asbestos, which may cause ovarian cancer

If you must use a powder, opt for a cornstarch based, talc-free baby powder instead. (Make sure to keep the bottle away from your child, as inhaling large amounts is extremely dangerous.)

Safe Diapering Cleanup

Finally, you need to make sure that any products you use to keep you, your baby and the general area clean are nontoxic.

For example, some baby wipes contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen, which may be listed in wet wipe ingredients as “diazolidinyl urea” or “DMDM hydantoin,” among other names. 

Many other chemicals are used in conventional baby wipes in addition to formaldehyde, so it’s best to simply search for specifically nontoxic baby wipes. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website is a great resource, as they research and rate the safety of baby wipes.

If you’d like to simultaneously stay safe and reduce your waste from throwing out disposable wipes, use an organic cotton cloth wipe with a little water to do clean up. For extra hygiene, use a small amount of nontoxic, gentle baby soap.


6 Tips to Help You Choose Safe Clothing for Your Kids

non-toxic tips for babies

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

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

What Chemicals Should I Avoid?

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Embrace Natural Dyes

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

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

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

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

2. Buy Certified Organic Textiles

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

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

3. Read the Brand’s Chemical Policies

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

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

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

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

4. Buy Vintage

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

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

5. Wash Clothes Before Wearing Them

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

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

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


TEETHING AND KLEYNIMALS

Teething toys to soothe sore gums

Guest post by Dr. Patricia Bast, AskDoctorMommy.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Ways to Soothe your Teething Baby

Teething Baby with Sore Gums

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

Provide Teething Toys

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

Provide a Wet Washcloth

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

Give Them Cold Milk

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

Massage Their Gums

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

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


9 Ways to Choose Safe Teething Toys

Baby nibbling on a Kleyminals safe teething toy

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

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

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

How to Choose Safe Teething Toys for Your Baby

1. Choose Non-Toxic Materials

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

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

Harmful Chemicals in Teethers

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

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

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

Non-Toxic Materials for Teething Toys

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

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

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

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

2. Choose Durable Teething Toys

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

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

3. Avoid Liquid Filled Teething Toys

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

4. Avoid Teethers With Batteries

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

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

5. Choose Easy to Clean Teething Toys

Tummy Time with Jangles

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

6. Avoid Old Teething Toys

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

7. Avoid Teething Necklaces

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

8. Avoid Rough Teething Toys

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

9. Regularly Inspect Teethers

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

The Importance of Giving Your Kids Some Space to Play

 

Space To Grow and Learn 

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

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

Why Play Matters for Infants and Toddlers

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

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

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

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

Why Is Space Important for Your Child’s Playtime? 

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

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

The Benefits of Giving Your Child Space

Encourages Independence

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

Builds Confidence

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

Promotes Individuality 

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

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

Let Your Child Grow by Giving Them Space

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

About the Author

Megan Moore

Babyjourney.net

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.