Category Archives: Development

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

How We Raise Liars and What to Do About It

No parent wants to consciously and purposefully raise a child who lies, but the truth is our kids lie. They lie often and they lie well. Dr Victoria Talwar, a leading expert on children’s lying behavior, has proven that as parents we only do slightly better than chance (60%) at telling whether our children are actually lying to us. Where do these lies come from, and what are we, as parents and adults around them, doing to promote this behavior?

First of all, let me reassure you. All kids lie, even yours, no matter what you might think. In fact, by their 4th birthday, 9 out 10 children will be experimenting with lying. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a developmental milestone to lie. Think about it, a kid has to know the truth, be able to invent a lie that is an alternative to the truth and then deliver it convincingly to the right audience. It’s an impressive accomplishment.

Kids start lying for two reasons: they want to avoid punishment or they want to make you happy. As they get older, lying becomes a way to vent frustration, gain status at school or cope with life’s stressors.

Some kids grow to be lifelong liars while others eventually stop. How do they develop into liars and why? The short answer is, we train them into it.

Sometime back I was sitting at the American embassy waiting to get a new passport for my son. The family behind me had a boy who looked to be 7 or 8. Old enough anyway to have some logic. I guess they’d been there a while because the child was getting restless and telling his parents he wanted to leave. As a response to the constant nagging his father told him ‘look, look our number is coming up!’ The kid could obviously read the numbers and as he pointed to the screen, he told his father no, there are still 4 people before us! The father, denying completely the fact that numbers are called in order and the fact that his son could actually figure out the calling system, insisted that their number was going to be called next.

More recently, I took my daughter to the pediatrician’s office to have her shots. She’s only 4 and was terrified. As the elderly man came closer with the needle, she cringed and started to cry. To reassure her, he blatantly lied: ” Don’t worry you won’t feel a thing. It’s not going to hurt at all.” He pinched her arm and inserted the needle. Her eyes widened with surprise as a scream tore from her throat.

What these kids are learning, is that adults lie to them, and that if those adults are in positions of authority, like parents and doctors, then lying is clearly acceptable.

Parents are masters of the mixed messages to kids. We tell them not to lie, then we angrily whisper at them to be polite about a present they hate; we claim they’re six when in actual fact, they haven’t celebrated their 6th birthday yet (unless we’re trying to get them in to an event for free in which case they’re under 6 long after their 6th birthday!); we encourage them not to tell on friends or siblings when someone does something wrong, teaching them that withholding the truth is in actual fact honorable.

We obviously have the best intentions. We are being empathetic, approximating, and using teachable moment to develop their integrity. They don’t see out intentions. To them, we are just blatantly lying. We don’t realize is that it takes the same emotional acuity to tell white lies as it does for the bigger lies and by modeling it for them, we are training our kids to be really good liars.

To make matters worse, when our kids are obviously lying to us or use flimsy cover ups, we find it funny or cute and we let these little lies slide (honestly, it’s exhausting to stay on top of house, kids, life and then to nit pick and how we react to a lying four-year-old).

“Did you spill chocolate milk everywhere?” You ask the child with chocolate milk dripping from her chin and covering her dress.

“No!” she says. “It fell by itself”.

“Ah! It must be the chocolate milk monster then” you reply. Which makes you much cooler than launching into a lecture. But our kids don’t recognize the coolness. They just get the message that some lies are ok.

The fact is, kids actually lie more as they get older, not less. We punish bad behavior and we let the little lies slide, so they practice telling us what we want to hear and they get better at it.

According to Dr. Bella De Paulo who studied adult deception, as parents, the way we react to our children’s lies can affect lifelong lying. So if you don’t want to raise liars, here’s a quick list of what to do and what not to do!

  1. Don’t enforce sweeping punishments for your child’s behavior. If they tell the truth, reward that over all else.
  2. Reinforce the importance of truth-telling over making you happy. They may not tell you what you want to hear, so fix your face and make sure your reaction doesn’t tell them you’re angry. Help them not repeat their mistakes instead of showing them when to lie.
  3. Applaud them when they do tell the truth and let them know you’re proud of them for that.
  4. Never turn a blind eye on the small lies they make up. Don’t laugh and dismiss them. Make sure you address the tiniest lie by letting them know lies are not acceptable.
  5. Try not to lie in front of your kids. Remember, kids do what you do, not what you say.
  6. Don’t try to entrap them or test their honesty. That will just degrade your relationship.
  7. Attenuate your tone of voice so it doesn’t carry a threat of consequences. For example, instead of, “Who on earth got red marker all over this wall?!?” try “Hey honey, this looks like your red marker on the wall. Shall we clean it up because you know we don’t write on walls.”

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

7 Baby Book Ideas to Preserve Your Memories of Your Little One

Have you ever looked at your baby and wished you could press pause? Maybe wish the baby wouldn't grow so fast? As conventional moms, more likely than not, we share photos and videos of our kids on social media.

Read the amazing comments and acknowledge the likes, but it's not enough. You want to capture that moment, that milestone. Well, there's something you can do about that; create a baby memory book.

While it might seem traditional and unconventional, it's a fantastic opportunity for you to capture major milestones in their lives, their first birthday, first vacation, and the likes.

Are you looking for creative baby book ideas? Well, look no further, here are seven unique ways to keep track of your little one's milestones, and preserve every precious moment.

Baby Book Ideas

The best thing about having a baby memory book is that you can relive that moment again, recreate the experience. Plus, you can easily tell your narrative or story of that day. Besides, your baby will be glad to see themselves once they grow up.

Let's dive right into these creative baby memories ideas.

1. The Story of You

Every pregnancy is different. Nausea, mood swings, and changes in the body. The best way to rekindle the moments is to start right from the beginning, at conception. They say kids develop from a pea to grapefruit and slowly to a fist, and before you know it, its nine months and the baby's out.

It will be a pleasant experience to write about your experiences from the time the baby was inside you. The first sonogram to when you knew the baby is a boy or a girl, and the last prenatal exam.

It will be an interactive journal where you can express to your baby how it felt when they kicked inside you and on the day they decided to brace the world with their presence. You can call it the baby keepsake memory book.

2. The First year

Statistics reveal that in the first year, the growth rate of a baby is double any other time of their life. Every month, the baby grows at least one inch and gains about seven ounces every week. You wouldn't want to miss out on this incredible time.

You can on easily capture them as they grow, as they sit for the first time, as they learn to stand, crawl, and probably walk. With such growth rates, the baby outgrows their clothes so fast, all the more reason you should capture such moments.

3. Baby's First Birthday

Before you know it, the baby is one year old. What an amazing first year it was, and now it's time to celebrate. Take pictures of them in their best outfit, carrying their favorite stuffed animal.

Reaching to one year is one of the most significant milestones. That feeling of accomplishment as a mother because many others don't get to see that day. Take pictures with the rest of the family and every one of your supporters.

The baby won't remember this day. But with the memory book and a few pictures, they can relive that time again.

4. Baby's First Christmas

Ah yes! The baby's first Christmas. The time to set in the family traditions. A special time when family comes together, cook up some cinnamon rolls, and cookies with a warm cup of tea as you await Santa.

With such an abundance of joy, it would be the perfect time to get them into the festive mood. Dress them in those red elf clothes and takes as many pictures as you want. Visit Santa and take even more photos.

Capture that special moment when you're decorating the tree and playing in the snow filled with love and happiness. This will always keep the spirit of Christmas within them as they grow up.

5. My Family and Me Book

Over the years, the baby grows and loses touch with their extended family. Sometimes by bad luck, the family loses a member. That's why it's essential for you to remind your baby of the time they spent with family.

Introduce them to their uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents, and other extended family members. Let the baby have a reminder of the time they spent with every one of them.

6. Digital Milestones

At least not all the baby book ideas have to be traditional. The famous actor Ashton Kutcher and his wife had this great idea of email milestones. This is where you create a digital account for the baby.

You can send videos, voice notes, and messages about the baby's growth over the years. The idea here us to be able to personalize every milestone in the baby's life and keeping it alive somewhere.

While some people may prefer to blog about their baby, a simple digital account can be a good idea. All the data will remain private, and when your baby is of age, you can share login details. Let them revisit their life.

7. An Alphabet Book

A great idea for a homemade baby book is an ABC book. When your baby turns three or four, they'll learn the alphabet. What a great way for them to read about the letters in the form of pictures they took with such an alphabet.

For example, you could take pictures of them in animals like the owl for letter O, a dog for letter D, a horse for H, and much more. Let them have something relatable with them in the future.

Relive the Precious Moments

The journey of motherhood starts hard but still precious, and before you know it, the baby is a tween, then a teenager, and they're off to campus. Some moments are meant to be felt more than once, so embrace these baby book ideas and create something special for that special person.

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

A Chef’s Best Tips for Raising Non-Picky Eaters

Letting them help in the kitchen may be the key.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the existence of restaurant kid’s menus. Why limit children to a basic menu of mac and cheese, chicken fingers and burgers? Kids shouldn’t automatically be put into a box that shapes them as selective eaters, when they really do not have to be. With more than 225,000 students passing through our doors each year at Young Chefs Academy, the kids' cooking school I founded, we’ve come to learn that there are many things that can be done to promote an adventurous palate and help raise non-picky eaters.

Children can become fussy eaters for a number of reasons. It can be from a parent’s influence, the style that food is served, kids being made fun of for something they brought in their lunch—the list goes on. In addition, there are many accidental things adults do that can cause pickiness. A prime example is parents who label their kids, especially in front of them. When kids are told they are picky eaters, they will believe it’s true and use the label as an excuse to not eat something.

Just as important, parents shouldn’t make a big deal when kids do eat a certain food. If they choose to eat broccoli, don’t applaud them—they should be eating broccoli! I’d veer away from making food associated with a reward process for your children.

If your kids do not like a specific food, suggest they choose how to prepare it the next time. For example, show them how to chop and sauté mushrooms instead of serving them raw. Changing the texture and consistency of a certain food can completely change one’s perception of it.

I am not a proponent of making a different meal for a child, based off of their seeming likes and dislikes, aside from what the rest of the family is eating. Encourage kids to experiment with food they may not initially like, but don't force them to taste anything. I'm a big fan of having fun and interacting with children. Their tasting of new food tends to follow naturally.

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. Working Mother

Pickiness often comes from attention-seeking behaviors. One of the best remedies is to involve kids in the food-making process. Children will become immersed in the creation and steps of making a meal and their perception of certain foods takes a back seat. The focus is taken off the food itself and shifts to the child creating their own meal for themselves. Never in a million years would a parent think that their child would come home after one of our classes and proclaim their new love for lemon grass soup or rhubarb! This stems from utilizing children’s sensory experiences. Have them pick out the veggies from the store, wash them, chop them and prepare them. You will be amazed at what they will end up eating—and thoroughly enjoying.

Also, encourage your child to cook with other kids. Children will listen well and get onboard with an idea if it comes from their peers. Sign up for your own kids’ cooking class, host a cooking birthday party or have a cooking playdate. Kids can experiment and encourage each other to try something new together.

Lastly, never forget that it is okay to not like certain ingredients. Adults are just the same! Pickiness will fade away naturally. A great way for children to expand their palates is through trying new foods with the family. Choose new ingredients from the grocery store to test at home. Experiment with new and adventurous ways to prepare different ingredients and get involved in the kitchen together. Most importantly, have fun!


Julie Burleson has served as Young Chefs Academy Founder and CEO for 14 years. Julie owned and operated two culinary businesses prior to franchising the Young Chefs Academy model and set out on a mission to teach children the joy and value of cooking. She was the recipient of Best Feasibility Plan from Baylor University’s John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and is a proud member of the IFA (International Franchise Association).

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