Category Archives: Development

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.

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.

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.

The Bittersweet Moment You Realize Your Baby Isn’t a Baby Anymore

I had to admit to this reality quite some time ago, since my boys are now 15 and 12. The crazy thought about that is that it means that I came up with the idea for Kleynimals almost 12 years ago! I admit that I ended up getting a little dog a few years ago, mostly as a way to help eliminate the baby pangs. It was a warm being that I could still carry around and cuddle. LOL. If only we could stop time. ~Kirsten

At some point we are all done having babies—even if we don’t want to be.

A few days ago I met a pregnant friend for lunch, and I couldn’t catch my breath as I walked to the restaurant. My car was filled to the brim with baby gear I was giving her: a crib mattress, a jumper, bodysuits and baby rattles. It was the last of the baby items in our house to be passed on. I realized I was entering a difficult new stage of motherhood: the end of having babies.

I did keep a few sentimental items, but ultimately, I knew the remaining ones should go to families who needed them. Because let’s face it, you need a lot of stuff when you have a baby, and it certainly isn’t cheap. Plus, it’s an established rite of passage to pass on and share baby items with other moms—some of the goods I was giving my friend I had received from other moms, myself. It felt right to pay it forward.

Nevertheless, there is no better way to describe the feeling of giving away the last of your baby stash than completely bittersweet. It occurred to me that nearly every mother goes through a range of emotions when the end of the baby phase occurs, but for me, it was slightly more bitter than sweet.

My husband and I always wanted to have more than one child, but we unfortunately experienced secondary infertility. After several years of failed fertility treatments, we decided to move on and embrace that we were meant to be a family of three. Our almost 4-year-old son, Alexander, would be an only child, but we were grateful for him; he would be loved, and we would enjoy the perks of having only one child.

I would be lying if I said it was simple for me to give away the baby items and move on. It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t easy, but it becomes more bearable with each day that passes. Occasionally, I struggle with reconciling the family structure I had always imagined and the petite family of three we are today. But then I decisively shift my thoughts on to acceptance and gratitude for my beautiful life at the present. Letting go of the last of the baby items was a big step in accepting our circumstances and living in the present.

Either way, the end of having babies is universally bittersweet for all moms, because at one point we will all be done having babies. We reflect upon the time past, and we worry we did not treasure it enough. Our once squishy, cooing babies who used to fall asleep in our laps are now tall, little monsters who never want to go to sleep and always want to talk about poop and farts. We ponder: Did we stop to grab the baby rolls enough?

Working mothers may take the end of this phase even harder. We question our choices and whether we weren’t present enough. A perfect example: I missed my son crawling for the first time while I was out of town at a work conference. Should I have been at home, so that I didn’t miss that moment? But then, logic hits me. I could have been at the grocery store or the post office when he crawled, so I couldn’t blame work. I still believe we need to have independent pursuits and passions outside of parenting, to be the best version of parents we can be.

As I exit this phase of motherhood, with my heart full of memories, and step into the next phase, I’ve realized:

The end of the baby phase is bitter.

There is something that is purely magical about a baby’s first year that can never be replicated in a child’s later years. The first few months of feeling pure awe and joy. The baby’s first noises, eye contact, smiles and coos. The first time they recognize your voice. The first snuggles. The first steps. These are the most wonderful moments that you will never forget, and we will miss it.

But, the end of the baby phase is sweet.

Sleeping is so wonderful. My child understands me when I speak to him. He laughs at my jokes. He feeds himself (mostly). He attempts to wipe his own butt, and we are no longer putting Mr. Pampers’ kids through college. Travel is much more feasible, and we can order him almost anything off a menu instead of having to worry about making him a bottle.

It is all bittersweet. My little man has become just that, a little man, and I’m loving each step of this adventure in motherhood.

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

Is it Safe for Babies to Chew on Keys? No, Keys are Dangerous for Babies – Guest Post from The Modern Mindful Mom

An alternative for babies who love keys

Is it safe for my baby to chew on keys? Is it safe for my baby to play with keys?

No and No.

But what about my toddler? They don’t put things in their mouth. So that’s harmless, right?

Wrong.

Children (of any age) should not be playing with or handling keys. It goes beyond the dirt and grime that is found on most keys, though that may be reason enough not to let your child play with them. If you’re like me, your keys often end up at the bottom of your bag, which definitely isn’t the cleanest place in the world!

The bigger reason why you should not let your child play with your keys, especially babies who put things in their mouth, is because of lead.

Yes, lead.

DANGERS OF LEAD EXPOSURE FOR CHILDREN

According to the EPA, “lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead”. Even low levels of lead in children can result in a slew of problems including:

  • lower IQ, 
  • hyperactivity, 
  • slowed growth,
  • anemia,
  • hearing problems, and 
  • behavior problems

“In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.”

REGULATION RELATED TO LEAD

The law does limit the amount of lead that can be present in children’s toys to 90 parts per million. 

However, keys are not considered toys. There are currently no regulations on the amount of lead that can be found in keys (or most other products meant for adults, for that matter). 

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY KEYS HAVE LEAD? 

It’s better to err on the side of caution and just assume that one or more of your keys is leaded. 

There is a special machine that tests lead levels in products (XFR), but unless you buy one (they’re tens of thousands of dollars, by the way!), rent one, or hire someone who has one, you won’t know for sure how much lead is in your keys.

One such person you can hire is Tamara Rubin, an internationally recognized, award winning lead-poisoning prevention advocate. 

As part of her advocacy work, she tests tons of products for lead and shares the results on her site. You can see the results of the various keys Tamara Rubin has tested for lead here. Spoiler alert: they all have shockingly high levels of lead. 

Promise me you’ll never let your child play with or chew on your keys ever again!

ALTERNATIVES FOR BABIES WHO LOVE KEYS

It’s understandable why our keys are so appealing for babies and young children. Among other reason, keys are:

  • shiny
  • fun to manipulate
  • jingle when you shake them
  • cool to the touch, so feel great on the gums when teething

They are often given to babies by unsuspecting parents because they are so readily available. In the grocery store? At a restaurant? You always have your keys on you so it’s an easy trap to fall into if you didn’t know any better.  But now you know better. Keys are not safe for babies.

If your baby loves keys, I highly recommend toy keys from a company called Kleynimals. They are the perfect replacement for real keys. They provide all the same features that babies and young children are drawn to in real keys, but these are safe

Kleynimals are made (in America!) with 100% food-grade stainless steel. They also come with a muslin pouch so you can toss them in your bag without them getting dirty.

I bought these for my 8 month old when I was looking to offer my baby a variety of textures and materials to teeth on. She loves chewing on her Kleynimals and I love that they are safe and non-toxic. Not to mention, they are super cute! The ‘keys’ are shaped like a lion, giraffe, and elephant!

For more articles on non-toxic toys, check out: The Modern Mindful Mom