Category Archives: Toys

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

Sustainable Baby Toys

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

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

What’s the Problem with Conventional Toys?

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

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

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

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

Making the Move to Safe, Eco-Friendly Toys

1. Check your materials

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

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

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

Other more sustainable materials to look out for include:

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

2. Ensure proper use

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

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

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

3. Get safety-tested toys

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

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

4. Buy durable toys

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

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

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


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.


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. 

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

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.

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

Happy boy in preschool

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

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

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

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

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

1. Following a Child’s Cue

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

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

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

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

2. Using Thoughtfully Selected Sensory Materials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Peer to Peer Learning

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

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

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

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

4. Minimal Use of Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Nurturing Each Child as a Unique Individual

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

Boy holding a book

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

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

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

What is Cognitive Development and What’s Your Role?

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

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

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

7 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Cognitive Development

1. Read Books

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

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

2. Encourage Outdoor Play

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

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

3. Enthuse Them With Safe Non-Toxic Toys

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

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

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

Only Purchase Safe Non-Toxic Toys – Kleynimals

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

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

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

Kleynimals- A Safe Bet

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

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

4. Visit Interesting Places

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

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

5. Sing and Dance

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

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

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

6. Assign Chores

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

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

7. Answer Their Flurry of Questions

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cracks in Toy Safety Manufacturing Laws

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

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

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

Common Toxins in Baby Toys and Their Harmful Effects

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

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

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) and Phthalates

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

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

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

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

Bisphenol A (BPA)

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

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

Lead

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

Flame Retardants

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

Formaldehyde

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

Children Are More Vulnerable to Toxins

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

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

How to Choose Non-Toxic Baby Toys

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

1. Avoid Plastic Toys

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

2. Avoid Cheap Toys

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

3. Avoid Toys That Smell

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

4. Opt For Stainless Steel Toys – Kleynimals

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

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

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

5. Opt For Wooden Toys

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

6. Opt For Natural Rubber Toys

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

7. Opt For Organic Stuffed Animals

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Kleynimals and Baby Development – Guest Post from Dr. Patricia Bast

Tummy Time with Jangles

As parents something we always wonder and question is whether our baby is developing at a healthy rate. Here is a little glimpse at what to expect over the first 3 years. The Kleynimals toys are wonderful to encourage these developmental milestones. For example, the large ring of the Rattle is perfect for tiny hands to grasp, the Keys soothe sore teething gums while stimulating imaginations, and the Jangles keep busy little fingers occupied! 

Starting at 4 months old your baby may reach for toys with one hand, batting at hanging toys, and shaking toys with their hands. This is the beginning of using their hands and eyes together. This is also the stage where many babies will start bringing hands to their mouth and following items from side to side. This is the perfect time to introduce the Kleynimals rattle, with a large ring it is easy for tiny hands to grasp and explore.

At 6 months old your baby will start to focus on nearby objects and is now capable of bringing objects to their mouth. Baby may also reach for objects that are just out of reach and will begin to pass toys from one hand to the other. This is when I find my babies start to love their keys, the cold metal is soothing on the gums while the sound they make is beautiful. Learning they can make noise when they shake an object is huge for their development. 

By 9 months old babies develop preference for favorite toys, point to what they want, and may even look for things you hide. They can also now smoothly transfer toys from one hand to the other. All of the Kleynimals toys are perfect for hide and go seek. Shake the toy to draw baby’s attention and place it under a small lovey, baby will love peeking under the blanket to find their beloved toys.

Next, at 12 months old, babies will find hidden objects. In addition to placing objects into containers and taking them back out, this is also when babies love to bang objects together. With their increased awareness, babies love placing their toys into small baskets and dumping them out repeatedly. Another favorite activity is clapping hands together with bangles on their wrist. The musical nature of stainless steel captivates their attention while the cold texture stimulates their attention. 

At 18 months pretend play comes to life. This is such a fun time and the perfect opportunity to introduce the Kleynimals keys as keys. Model them for starting a toy car or opening a door, place them into a purse or backpack, the possibilities are endless. 

At 24 months your toddler will be able to find objects hidden under 2-3 covers, and begins to sort shapes and colors. Simple make-believe games are popular. Hand dominance may be apparent. The Kleynimals toys make the perfect objects for hide-and-go-seek.

Finally, at 36 months old your toddler can work with toys, buttons, and moving parts. They may also play make-believe with dolls, animals, and people. I find this is when jangles are the most enjoyed. The small beads and interlocking rings are perfect to keep fidgety little fingers busy. 

If you are looking for more than toys Kleynimals also makes the most beautiful stainless steel utensils, I highly recommend them!