Category Archives: Parenting

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.


Are Electronic Baby Toys Safe? How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Child

Are Electronic Toys Safe for Babies?

More and more baby toys these days are electronic or have electronic components. While these toys may be exciting, sadly, electronic toys can pose risks to your child. 

The risks associated with electronic toys include:

  • Burns: Electronic toys may overheat because of faulty wiring or circuit boards. This can burn your child.
  • Electric shock: Faulty electrical wiring or plugs can be very dangerous, and can cause electric shock. Electric shock is also a risk when an electronic toy is used near water. As we know, babies and toddlers can be messy, so make sure to keep liquids away from electronic toys.
  • Fire hazards: Overheating of electronic toys, especially poorly built toys, can cause fires.
  • Battery hazards: Batteries in toys can pose risks such as overheating and breaking down into small pieces that cause choking. Choking risks are especially high for babies, who are more likely to chew on toys.
  • Toxic materials: Some electronic toys contain dangerous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). These materials are generally only used inside the toy, so don’t worry – your baby is unlikely to come into contact with them. Of course,  it’s still best to buy toys without these substances!

Electronic toys are also environmentally unfriendly, as they are notoriously difficult to recycle. Additionally, research suggests that relying only on electronic toys, rather than more traditional toys, can harm a baby’s language development.

Here are some tips for choosing safe and stimulating toys for your baby.

1.    Choose Non-Electric Toys

The simplest way to avoid the dangers of electronic toys is simply not to buy them! All our Kleynimals toys are non-electronic and made from safe and nontoxic stainless steel. Our toys provide your baby with all the excitement and stimulation they need without the risks posed by electronic toys.[1] 

If you do choose to use electronic toys, it is best to mix these in with more traditional toys. Exposure to different types of toys, including simpler toys, helps your baby develop a wide variety of skills.

2.    Choose Well-Designed Toys that Comply with Safety Standards

Safety must be included in every step of a toy’s production. If you do choose to buy electronic toys, make sure it is from a trusted manufacturer that takes the necessary steps, such as testing for toxic materials, to ensure the toy is safe and functioning properly.

There are several regulations in place that work to protect you from the dangers of electronic toys. It is important to check that your baby’s toys have been tested for compliance with these consumer protection laws. For example, electronic toys stamped with a “CE marking” (a small CE symbol printed on the toy or packaging) comply with all safety regulations and do not contain harmful materials.

3.    Choose Sturdy Electronic Toys

Make sure your electronic baby toys are well-built and sturdy. Durable toys are less likely to break down, exposing you or your child to any harmful substances that may be used to create the inner electronic parts. Toys that break down are especially concerning for babies, as babies are likely to chew on their toys as part of the teething process.

Durable electronic toys are also less likely to experience overheating or other problems due to degradation. 

4.    Make Sure the Toy Is Used Properly

Electronic toys may have parts that are designed to be used in a specific way (for example, that spin in a certain direction). But we know that babies and children may not use the toy in the way it was designed! This improper use can cause potentially dangerous malfunctions.

If you do choose electronic toys, always watch your child when they are playing with the toy to make sure it is being used as it was intended. While most toy manufacturers put control measures in place that will avoid malfunctions no matter the situation, it is still best to use the toy as it was designed.

All in all, the risks of electronic toys can be safely managed by an attentive guardian. Of course, the most worry-free option is to simply buy non-electronic toys! If you do choose to use electronic baby toys, however, make sure you buy well-made toys of a wide variety to support your child’s development happily and safely.


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!


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

5 Baby Toys to Keep Your Twins Entertained in Your Stroller Outing

Twice the Fun, Twice the Toys

Do you have two bundles of joy? Twins are twice the fun but also require double the baby gear, like small baby toys to keep them entertained on stroller outings. When you’re out and about, fun toys that are easily accessible, washable, and engaging are a must. 

While finding this magical unicorn of a toy may seem like a tall order, we have rounded up five of our favorites to make your job easier. Take a look at our top toys that will make your double stroller a traveling entertainment space! 

What to Consider When Selecting Baby Stroller Toys for Twins

Before we jump into our top five stroller toys, let’s take a look at what criteria we used to select them. Keeping these considerations in mind will help you find the safest and most engaging toy for your children. 

  • Nontoxic. This is a bit of a no-brainer these days, but you want the toy to be nontoxic. A baby toy will likely spend quite a bit of time in your infants’ mouths, therefore you want to choose one that is free from chemicals and dangerous products. 
  • Easily Washable. Stroller toys have a habit of getting dirty. After all, they go where your babies go; including places like the playground and the beach. An easily washable toy will save you time and grief if you can just pop it into the washing machine. 
  • Age Appropriate. If the toy isn’t appropriate for your children’s age, it likely won’t keep them entertained. Look for an item that fits their age range and developmental milestones. Many toys include age guidelines on the packaging! 
  • No Detachable Choking Hazards. Safety is paramount with baby toys. This is especially true with stroller toys when you’re behind pushing and can’t always see what’s going on. Make sure the toy you choose doesn’t have any small pieces that are detachable or could come loose and pose a choking hazard. 

Five Fabulous Twin Toys for the Stroller 

Kleynimals Jangles 

It doesn’t get eco-friendlier and more non-toxic than Kleynimals Jangles. These hoops with clacking beads are made out of food-grade stainless steel. They’re fun to shake, mesmerizing to move about, and safe for little ones to taste. Durable, and dishwasher safe, this is one stroller toy that is as parent-friendly as it is baby-friendly! 

Kleynimals Keys 

Parents know that jingling keys are a child’s favorite. Skip the germy car keys and hand your child Kleynimals Keys. The design mimics real keys, making the same sound and having an identical cool metal feel. However, the “keys” are adorably cute animals on a metal ring, both made out of food-grade stainless steel. Non-toxic, dishwasher safe, and free from sharp edges, these are a much safer and more sanitary alternative to true keys and other jingling stroller toys. They make great teethers too! 

Lamaze Freddie the Firefly 

Lamaze Freddie the Firefly is a vibrant and colorful toy that will delight your child each time you buckle them into the stroller. It entices all five of your baby’s senses with a squeaker, knotted wings for chewing, a mirror, and textured fabrics. While your little one will love feeling, hearing, and munching on this little insect, parents will love that it encourages visual, auditory, and tactile development.

Baby Einstein Star Bright Symphony Toy 

While some infant toys simply dangle from the stroller, the Baby Einstein Star Bright Symphony Toy does so much more! Brightly hued fabrics frame an adorable smiling face, helping to improve your baby’s focus and visual development. This little star plays six classical melodies accompanied by gentle, soothing lights. An easy-breezy velcro fastener secures to your stroller, crib, or playpen. 

Sassy Peek-a-boo Cloth Book 

We all know that reading to your child is a great practice, but no one wants to lug around bulky books. Enter the Sassy Peek-a-boo Cloth Book, a soft fabric book with bold patterns and bright colors. The visual design is perfect to attract infants and encourage visual skills while the simple words are excellent for older babies learning to identify pictures. Its crinkle pages and peek-a-boo flaps keep babies of any age happy and entertained! 

So Long Stroller Boredom! 

These amazing toys are perfect for delighting your twins while they’re out and about. No longer will they fuss about being buckled into the stroller when they have one of these amazing toys to play with! 

Whether you want simple and safe toys that are ideal for curious little ones, like Kleyanimal Keys or Jangles, or you want colorful fabric items that entice the senses, this list has something for everyone! We hope you and your little ones have a blast traveling with your stroller and its new, fun accessories. 

About the Author

Megan Moore

Babyjourney.net

The Ultimate Guide to Design a Fun, Functional Kids Playroom at Home

Playing is more than just a way to have fun; it’s also an essential part of healthy childhood development. As parents, you can adapt any space at home and design a playroom where your kids can explore, get creative, and learn. When designing a playroom, it’s crucial to think about it from a kid’s perspective. Our guide shows you how to create a fun and functional kids playroom that your children will love for many years to come.

Brainstorming with Your Children

While you’ll have most of the say about the design of the playroom (after all, this is your home), it’s important to let your children provide some input before you set up their new playroom. Ask them about their favorite subjects in school and what type of things they’d like to have in the room. From furniture and toys to kids’ entertainment, sit down and write out a list of all the most important things to your child. When you brainstorm together, you’ll ensure that the final result is something you and your kids will both enjoy and appreciate. Make sure you design a space that’s “evergreen” and one that will grow and adapt as your child gets older. This is the best way to make the most of the playroom and keep it functional and useful over the years as they develop and mature.

Pick a Theme

Choosing a theme for your new playroom can make it fun and exciting, but keep in mind that certain themes might not be appealing to your child in a year or two. Try to stick with themes centered around their favorite activities rather than characters from movies or TV shows. Here are some tips to help you develop the perfect theme for your child’s playroom:

Theater / Dance

Add a small stage to the room where your children can practice their acting and dancing skills. Stock the room with various costumes so the kids can play dress-up and do a little bit of theater right at home. If your child likes to dance, install a large mirror on one wall of the room. Bring in a stereo system or a record player so they can enjoy their favorite plays and dance to music.

Music

Fill the playroom with various instruments like a small drum set, a keyboard, and a tambourine. Stock your child’s playroom with sheet music if they’re skilled at playing the piano or other instruments, so they always have something new to learn. Display some music-themed décor in the room like oversized music notes, framed sheet music, or artwork of images like people or animals singing and playing instruments. 

Art

Set up a roomy, sturdy craft table where your child can paint, draw, and work on a variety of arts and crafts projects. Stock the playroom with watercolor and finger paints, an easel, paint brushes, scissors, glue, and construction paper. Find a place where your kids can display their art, such as a large bulletin board or a magnetic board for easy hanging.

Sports

Decorate the room with items that display your child’s favorite sports like a framed picture of a baseball field, a hockey stick hung on the wall, or a picture of their favorite player. If you’re feeling brave, install a ceiling-mounted cargo climbing net so your child can play and let off some steam indoors. Bring in some books about sports so your child can read about their favorite games and expand their mind whenever they’re not on the playing field.

Game Room

From cards to board games, you can easily make your child’s playroom a fun game room by stocking it with a variety of games geared for their age group. Paint a tabletop in a checkerboard design so the kids can play a game of checkers or chess anytime they want. If you have space (and the budget), bring in a large game like a foosball table or ping pong table to serve as the room’s focal point. 

Furniture

Once you’ve chosen a theme, it’s time to pick out some furniture for your kid’s playroom. Here are a few tips to help you get started and ensure that this room is functional and fun to use:

Stick with neutral furniture that’s not too loud or colorful. The more neutral the furniture is, the better the odds are that your child will grow with it instead of out of it. 

Choose furniture that’s durable and easy to clean and aim for multifunctional furniture that includes storage like an ottoman or storage bench.

It’s important to ensure that the entire family feels welcome in this room. While kid’s furniture is excellent for little ones, consider bringing in a full-size couch and table so your older children and the adults will feel comfortable in this space, too.

To add a pop of color, bring in some rugs, curtains, and décor to fill the room with bright and cheerful hues. Leave the wall color neutral so it’s easy to adapt the room as your child grows.

Make sure that this space has flooring that’s easy to clean and maintain. Linoleum and vinyl are both good options, and they don’t require a lot of maintenance to keep them looking new. Protect the floors (and your child’s knees and elbows) with some soft, machine-washable area rugs. 

Storage Space

Your child must have fun in their playroom, but it’s also important that this part of your home stays clean and organized. With the right storage, you can keep everything neat, tidy, and in its place.

Use Mason jars with a lid to store and organize small craft items like buttons, beads, and spools of thread. Cubbies are perfect for larger toys and games, and you can easily put them on a shelf or stash them under furniture. Baskets and storage bins work well as a catch-all to toss stuffed animals and other toys in one place. Add a storage bench or ottoman, so the kids have a place to hide their shoes, board games, and other medium-sized items. Make sure your playroom has at least one bookshelf for reading material, sheet music, or art supplies.

Set up Different Zones

To make the most of your playroom, break it up into different zones. Each zone can be designated for a variety of activities your child enjoys. Put a small desk in one corner of the room for homework, and place shelving with art supplies and a craft table on the opposite side. Keep kid’s toys, games, and accessories in constant rotation so that there’s always something new for them to enjoy. As your child begins to outgrow certain items, donate them to a local nonprofit organization or your school. Make sure there is one part of the playroom designated for home use, such as a spot for a comfy sofa and TV set.

Get Creative

There are many fantastic add-ons you can bring into the playroom to make it more functional and fun to use. Here are some inspirational ideas to help you get started:

Add a swing. Hang a swing from the ceiling of the playroom so your child can swing as they listen to music or watch television. Make sure the swing is anchored securely and that you’re always nearby whenever they use it.

Add a nap station. Naptime is particularly important for younger children, so create a “nap zone” with a comfy mat, cot, or sleeping bag along with a blanket and some pillows so they can take a snooze after playtime.

Create a dress-up corner. Use a rack to hang costumes and accessories in the playroom and add a freestanding mirror in the corner of the room so your kids can have fun playing dress-up.

Add a slide. Bring a sturdy, small slide into the playroom for your younger children. If you really want to go all out, install a tube-style slide that will whisk your child from one floor to the next for a great entrance.

Create a chalkboard wall. Paint one wall with black chalkboard paint so your child can sketch and doodle to their heart’s content. If you’re not keen on painting a wall this way, bring in a large freestanding chalkboard and place it against one wall.

Make a slime station. Playing with slime is lots of fun, but it’s also messy. Make a special “slime station” with all of the supplies so your child can have some slimy fun, and then put everything away when they’re done. 

You don’t have to spend a fortune to design a fun, functional kid’s playroom. There are plenty of ways to DIY and get creative by using items you already have lying around your home. The key is to make sure that you’re having fun while you plan and decorate the playroom. Use these kid’s playroom ideas as inspiration to help you create the perfect space. When it’s finished, everyone will want to come over and play at your house.

This article was originally published at Porch.com

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.

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

Boy holding a book

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

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

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

What is Cognitive Development and What’s Your Role?

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

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

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

7 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Cognitive Development

1. Read Books

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

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

2. Encourage Outdoor Play

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

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

3. Enthuse Them With Safe Non-Toxic Toys

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

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

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

Only Purchase Safe Non-Toxic Toys – Kleynimals

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

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

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

Kleynimals- A Safe Bet

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

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

4. Visit Interesting Places

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

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

5. Sing and Dance

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

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

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

6. Assign Chores

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

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

7. Answer Their Flurry of Questions

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cracks in Toy Safety Manufacturing Laws

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

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

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

Common Toxins in Baby Toys and Their Harmful Effects

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

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

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) and Phthalates

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

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

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

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

Bisphenol A (BPA)

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

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

Lead

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

Flame Retardants

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

Formaldehyde

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

Children Are More Vulnerable to Toxins

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

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

How to Choose Non-Toxic Baby Toys

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

1. Avoid Plastic Toys

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

2. Avoid Cheap Toys

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

3. Avoid Toys That Smell

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

4. Opt For Stainless Steel Toys – Kleynimals

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

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

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

5. Opt For Wooden Toys

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

6. Opt For Natural Rubber Toys

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

7. Opt For Organic Stuffed Animals

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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