Category Archives: Toys

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!

Montessori-Style Toys Foster Independence and Imagination

You’ve likely heard about Montessori education, which was developed by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator. This alternative education approach builds on the natural tendencies of children.

Montessori features readily available realistic play materials that are designed to help children relate to and process the world around them.

The Montessori Method of Teaching

Montessori education involves playful hands-on learning — children teach themselves through active exploration. The approach is:

  1. Child-centric: Children are eager to learn and absorb the world around them. They are encouraged to play with age-appropriate items to help them learn from their environment and grow in independence.
  2. Present tense: Children may repeat an activity over and over. A child is welcome to continue an activity for as long as they wish. In this way, the Montessori environment prioritizes the present and doesn’t look to the future or the clock to determine what comes next.
  3. Reality-based: In the Montessori environment, you rarely find fantasy-oriented play. Instead, children are encouraged to use age-appropriate items that have a real-life purpose. For example, they have access to plastic knives to cut real bananas and feed themselves (versus feeding fake bananas to a stuffed animal).
  4. Freely chosen: The Montessori setting offers a variety of materials for children to choose from (but not so many that they feel overwhelmed by the clutter). Children select activities that make them happy and keep their attention. Once they disengage from their selected activity, they choose another and work with it for as long as they wish.

Montessori Toys for Babies and Toddlers

Baby trying to open a door with a toy key

As a parent, I think it’s important to foster a Montessori approach from day one. We don’t have to wait for kids to enter preschool to help them develop their:
· Independence
· Imagination
· Self-discipline
· Love of learning

All you need are a handful of appropriate toys and daily interactions with your baby! At Kleynimals, we’ve designed several of our toys to mesh with the Montessori philosophy (and other holistic-education philosophies like Steiner and slow-learning):
· Flatware: In the Montessori environment, children feed themselves from a very young age. Self-feeding helps foster independence and fine motor skills. We designed our flatware to fit perfectly in baby’s hands.
· Keys: Babies love to play with metal keys. At first, it might be the sound or cool touch that interests them. Eventually, they may put them to use to “unlock” things around the house. We designed our clean key animals to stimulate the imagination and improve gross and fine motor skills.
· Rattles: As with our keys, the sound and cool touch of our stainless steel rattles will capture your baby’s imagination. Your child can wear the jangles around their wrist, so they feel like they’re wearing the jewelry mom does (Tip: You can also wear them as a bracelet when your child isn’t using it…no one will know!).

While my kids enjoy Kleynimals toys (obviously!), I know we aren’t the only company out there making Montessori-inspired baby toys and learning toys for toddlers. We make our toys from non-toxic, dishwasher-safe stainless steel, but other safe options include wooden puzzles, stackers and activity boxes. I also love wooden brushes with natural bristles.

Shop the Kleynimals lineup of Montessori toys. And give them as gifts whenever you can — I guarantee they will bring joy to the recipient over many years.

Autism Toys Help Kids (and Adults) Regulate Behaviors

As of 2018, the prevalence of autism was one in 59 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reporting. A majority of people on the autism disorder spectrum have some level of a sensory processing disorder that makes it difficult to process sensory inputs like sights, sounds or touch.

If you’re the parent of an autistic child, you probably know that an autistic person’s brain receives and processes stimuli differently. Autism can make it difficult for your child to respond to stimuli the way a person who isn’t on the spectrum would.

Early intervention for autism using sensory toys

Early intervention with sensory integration therapy is remarkably effective at helping the autistic population handle everyday stimuli. Sensory toys that are fun and exciting help motivate kids (and adults) to engage in the world around them. Therapists use sensory toys for a variety of needs:

  • Occupational therapists use sensory toys, such as fidget toys, to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills and social skills.
  • Applied behavior analysis therapists use autism toys for pretend play and to teach cause and effect.
  • Speech therapists use autism chew toys to encourage communication and for oral stimulation.

Fidget and spinning toys motivate autistic kids to modify behavior

Parents of autistic kids can use fidget toys or spinning toys to capture their child’s attention and deepen their relationship. They serve as a great reward when your child performs a task or modifies their behavior to be more desirable.

One prominent study showed that, after sensory integration therapy, kids ages 6 to 12 exhibited decreased autistic mannerisms, such as:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Being easily startled
  • Repetitive movements, like hand flapping or jumping

What makes Kleynimals products among the best toys for kids with autism?

Kleynimals Jangles®, Keys and Rattles are the ultimate toys for autistic children because they serve many needs — bracelet, rattle, chew toy and fidget toy. The interplay of the stainless steel materials is unexpected and delightful. As a result, with a single toy your child is processing multiple sensory inputs: Sound, sight and touch.

Helping people with developmental disabilities, like autism, is a core part of the Kleynimals mission. Since 2011, we have relied on the support of developmentally disabled adults at The Providence Center to help us prepare our product for retail.

If you are looking for autism toys, you can shop on our website. BTW, Kleynimals aren’t just for kids on the autism spectrum — they also make a great gift for adults on the spectrum. (For that matter, they’re great for any kid or adult who likes to fidget!)