Category Archives: Toddlers
Mother’s Day tends to sneak up on us every year … if you’re anything like us you probably haven’t got a present yet or thought of what to get for your good lady. Panic not … here’s our last minute list of free presents to help you out:
NB: Some of these you can also use for your own mother … you’ll know which ones
1) Make a Mother’s Day card from anything that your kids have drawn or painted on (check with your day care, pre-school or school in case you can’t find anything suitable in the house). Make sure you get your kids to write their names on it or do it for them if they are too small
2) Give your partner a few hours of extra sleep – a recent survey found that one of the things most mums wanted for Mother’s Day was to simply sleep in or sleep a few hours with no interruption. So take your babies, toddlers or kids away for a few hours and give your partner a nice break.
3) Make a TLC voucher – e.g. for a back rub, or do something for her that you know she really doesn’t like doing
4) Pick some nice family photos from your phone or camera and print out at work and use to make a Mother’s Day “post card” – write a nice message and get your kids to write on it or sign it as well (or do it on their behalf if they are too small). Go down to your post office and get it stamped so it looks like a real post card … then tell her on Sunday morning that there was a special delivery.
5) Record a video of yourself (and the kids) with a special message for her (or sing a song if you dare) and upload to youtube – get your kids to give her a piece of paper (or card) on Sunday with the URL on it
Whatever you do it’s probably a good idea to go the extra mile on Mother’s Day to make sure your partner has a nice day. It also doesn’t hurt to tell her what a wonderful job she does and how cool it is to have her as the mother of your kids. Finally – don’t forgot to do something for your own mother as well!
Have a great Mother’s Day
ps.: Don’t forget to do something special for your pregnant partner this Mother’s Day
Guest post by Patrick Bennett, Uncommon Caribbean
A year ago, I marveled at my son Trinidad’s magnificent first year of life. In the first 10 months, he managed to visit 10 different islands! I can’t imagine how his baby brain processed this period of perpetual beauty and exploration, but I tried to outline all I hoped he’d learned along the way.
Now, as Trinidad turns two, he’s slowed down a bit in his old age.
Well, not by his choosing. Trips like the one where I tackled Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the West Indies, just didn’t seem kid friendly, so unfortunately he had to sit out a few of this past year’s adventures.
But don’t feel too sorry for the little guy, there were still more than enough opportunities to learn a few things at new ports of call throughout the islands.
1. Barbados – Sometimes travel can be the best medicine.
Trinidad taking his medicine
When we landed on Barbados for a long trip over the holidays, poor Trinidad was suffering from molars violently bursting through his gums. Fevers, pain, and intestinal distress were all making him miserable in frigid New York City, but once he had sand between his toes and the sea stretching out incomprehensibly before him, his mood seemed to quickly improve.
Funny how that happens. At a time when people seem to push pills on kids for every little thing, this is one lesson I hope he takes to heart.
2. Barbados again – Share your best stuff with your friends.
Traveling Toddlers Take Barbados
Upon returning to the big city with tales of how incredible a stay at our Perfect Fantasy Beach House in Freight’s Bay had been, all the talk on the playground was Barbados, Barbados, Barbados. Pretty quickly, talk turned into action and before we knew it we were right back on Bim, but this time with five (yes FIVE!) toddlers in tow plus their parents.
What could have been a nightmare turned out to be a magical, multi-day playdate like no other. Days overflowed with sun, sand and shenanigans. During the night, I imagine the same sunny scenes danced in their heads until the kids woke up to do it all over again.
Remember Trinidad, sharing really is caring.
3. Viareggio, Italy – The Caribbean is where your heart is.
Keeping it Caribbean in Italy
OK, so this isn’t an island and its sandy shores border the Mediterranean, not the Caribbean. But on the occasions when we do find ourselves so far from the islands, I’m always amazed at how deeply this little boy carries his father’s home region in his soul. From the way he pronounces “watah” like a true Trini, to him munching on coconut even on Italian beaches, to his favorite bedtime book “One Love by Cedella Marley” — the Caribbean never seemed too far.
Few things would make me happier than for the West Indies to always be a part of whoever he becomes.
4. St. Maarten – Sacrifice.
The Traveling Toddler leaves SXM behind
As I mentioned last year, Trinidad’s first Caribbean travel experience ever was to double destination of St. Maarten. He loved it about as much as a three month old can love anything, but this time around SXM was just a stop on the way to our final destination.
So, no hiking to Happy Bay, no afternoons for liming at Cupecoy Beach, no delectable dinners in Grand Case. We simply landed, took a taxi to the ferry, and were gone!
In this day and age when kids seem to be learning that somehow it’s perfectly logical that they should be able to have their cake and eat it, too — I can only hope that the boy learns that sometimes you have to give up something awesome to get something awesome.
5. Anguilla – The best things in life are free.
Trinidad the Traveling Toddler
And what awesome destination could possibly pull us away from St. Martin? Anguilla, of course!
Once on-island, we were soon basking in the luxurious environs of the impeccable Ani Villas. The word “posh” simply doesn’t do this place justice! Yet no matter how much I might have loved the hot tub perched on the edge of the cliff overlooking Little Bay Beach, or the pristine pools that shimmered off into infinity, or the treats prepared by our private chef — little Trinidad only had one thing on his mind: beach!
It’s funny how foreign it can feel to spend time with a human who completely places experiences above everything else. Possessions? Wealth? Status? Whatever, let’s run in the watah!
Who’s the one that’s supposed to be learning from all of this again?
Trinidad, you can’t possibly know how special you are to me.
Happy Birthday, son.
By Patrick Bennett
Storytelling used to be the only way families could pass on knowledge from generation to generation. Moms and dads did it a lot because that was probably the easiest way to get the kids to sleep. Recently a study revealed that over 1/3 of all toddlers and preschoolers in the US have a TV in their nursery / bedroom. As a result storytelling and bedtime reading is disappearing quickly and is often replaced with audio books on tablets or DVDs.
Some parents still choose to read and with millions of (free) ebooks available reading is often easier than to come up with your own story. Reading to kids is clearly a good thing however Rick Polito, creator of the Shake-N-tell app believes it is also very important for kids to hear original stories to stimulate their imagination.
Kids enjoy stories that are about things that have happened in their family. You could call these stories “family non-fiction”. So tell your kids about adventures you had when you were young, let them know how what happened during the day or just make up a story. Of course as parents we are often tired and just want to get the kids off to bed so we can sit down and relax. Fortunately there’s now and app to help parents along with storytelling. It’s called Shake-N-Tell and it’s free! This application helps by providing the bones of a story and you simply fill in the gaps. Even better – the kids can help fill in the gaps.
So give storytelling with Shake’n Tell a try and see what happens!
Inspired by nationalnannies.com
One of the scariest things about hiring a nanny is the thought that your child will not like them and will be miserable while you’re away. This is even more difficult to assess when you need to get a nanny at a stage when your little one hasn’t grasped the necessary language skills yet. So what do you do? Here’s a few tips:
- Behavioral Cues – observe how your child behaves when the nanny arrives or leaves. The first few seconds when your little one sees the nanny provides a crucial tell for your little one’s feelings about the situation. Refusing to engage with the nanny when she arrives, fleeing or crying are some obvious cues but there may be more sublte signals as well like showing little interest playing with the nanny or showing no interest when the nanny leaves. If your child is particularly prone to separation anxiety (i.e. when you leave the room and your little one can’t see you) you may need to spend more time on looking for subtle cues (e.g. a hidden observation of your little one with the nanny)
- Interaction with the nanny – You need to make time in the early days (after just hiring a nanny) so you can observe how your nanny interacts with your child. This is a crucial period and you need to allow time for things to get settled. So allow for a certain “overlap” period where you gradually remove yourself from the situation. It’s natural for your child to be more interested in your presence than that of a new nanny, but if your little one continues to behave standoffish or hesitant to engage with the nanny, it could be an indicator that their relationship isn’t developing well.
- Ask verbal toddlers – Even if your toddlers’s language skills aren’t super advanced you can still get a general idea of how they are feeling by asking a few pointed questions. Questions like: did you have fun with
, did you enjoy playing with , do you want to come back tomorrow? Etc. Bear in mind, that toddlers can’t always distinguish between fantasy and reality so just keep asking and keep observing.
The good news is that you know your child better than anyone else and by being observant and making time specifically for this task you will be able to tell whether your little one is enjoying the nanny’s company (and how capable the nanny is). We’d discourage the use of hidden nanny-cams as this sets you up for a dishonest relationship from the start.
Written by DIYFather, inspired by gonannies.com
You may have never thought of your bathroom as a hazardous space but once you’ve got young children in the house – think again. Children can drown in 2 inches of water and sadly, each year over 100 children in the US drown in bathtubs, spas, hot tubs, buckets and toilets. So child proofing your bathroom is an important task you shouldn’t put off. Here’s some simple steps on what you can do:
- Install Toilet Lid Locks – Babies at a certain age love to pull themselves up with the aid of surrounding low surfaces and toddlers that are just beginning to walk are both a bit top-heavy, making it easy for them to tumble forward when they look down. When that stable surface is a toilet, and the water inside the bowl captures a little one’s attention, they can pitch forward and drown in the water before anyone finds out. Even if your little one doesn’t drown, he could contract any one of a handful of messy illnesses from the bacteria living in the water, so it’s best to install a toilet lid lock; for the record, most adults can operate these very easily.
- Spring For Cabinet Latches – Latches designed to keep kids from accessing the contents of cabinets are very effective for keeping the little ones from getting their hands on stuff that is not suitable for them. These relatively cheap and effective latches (or locks) can be installed easily, and provide parents with an extra measure of peace of mind.
- Move Sharp Objects and Chemicals Upwards – Any childproofing should be backed up with common-sense approaches like moving sharp objects, cleaning fluids, and other dangerous items upwards and out of the reach of inquisitive little hands and minds.
- Keep Styling Appliances and Other Electrical Items Out of Reach – Hairdryers, curling irons and other electrical items can be dangerous on more than one level; in addition to the electrocution risk that they can present if dropped into standing water, many also generate enough heat to severely burn kids’ delicate skin. So move them out of the way too.
- Treat Medications Like Poison – Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can be lethal to children, who may confuse the brightly colored pills for candy or sweets. In order to prevent intoxication from swalling medication, parents should secure all medical drugs in a container that’s kept well out of reach.
- Adjust Your Water Heater Temperature Settings – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that hot water heater temperature settings be kept at or below 120deg F (50 deg C) to prevent painful and potentially severe scalding.
While safety measures and childproofing methods are an essential part of helping to keep your children safe in their home, there is absolutely no substitute for supervision. Never leave a child unattended in the bathroom, especially in the bathtub, for any length of time whatsoever. A young child can drown in the bathtub in the blink of an eye, so be sure to take him out of the tub and carry him with you if the telephone or doorbell rings. Even better take a cordless phone or mobile phone with you to the bathroom!
Inspired by nannybabysitter.com
Having a new baby in the house is often a shock to the system for first-time parents. Not only has the dynamic changed (there is an extra person in the house now) but also there are lurking dangers that went entirely unseen while the house was inhabited solely by adults. Knowing that your tiny bundle of joy will soon be crawling, and then walking, adds a bit of urgency to the task of childproofing the house. In fact it’s never too early to childproof the house. Kids grow up quickly, and it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. Here’s a few tips for childproofing the kitchen:
Safety Gates – If possible keep babies out of the kitchen altogether … especially when you’re not near by. By placing baby safety gates at the entrance to the kitchen you can prevent a crawling baby or adventuros toddler from slipping into this household danger zone without the knowledge of an adult.
Cabinet Locks – Aside from the dangerous substances, utensils, and other items that are often stored in lower cabinets, there is also a very real risk of injured hands and fingers. So get cabinet locks to prevent any potential harm to your baby.
Outlet covers – The small, translucent plastic outlet covers that most adults remember from their own childhoods are still commercially available; they do, however, present a choking hazard and can also be quickly figured out by observant toddlers. Kids learn by mimicking adults, so it won’t take too many instances of watching you remove an outlet cover before using it for your child to grasp the concept. Since small outlet covers may not be ideal, it might be wise to consider full outlet plates that cover both sockets and immediately slide back into place after use.
Oven Locks – Ovens can be purchased with a factory installed lock, but if your oven doesn’t have one you can purchase after-market varieties that can be installed on your existing oven as well. This will prevent curious little hands from landing themselves in the emergency room with severe burns.
Cleaners and Other Chemicals – Installing cabinet locks is a wise idea because they can keep kids from pinching their fingers or accessing dangerous items inside. However, as a general rule all cleaning fluids and other potentially harmful chemicals (dishwasher tablets!) need to be moved to upper cabinets, way out of kids’ reach.
Garbage Cans – While a rational adult would assume that the off-putting odor of a garbage can would be repellent enough on its own, there’s something about the refuse heap that captures kids’ curiosity. To keep your baby or toddler out of the smelly, dirty, and bacteria-laden trash, move the can to a cabinet or invest in a model with a childproof lid.
Small Appliances – Unplugging small applianced, like a blender, mixer, or toaster, can be a difficult thing for new parents to remember, however, it is another useful habit to get used to avoid the risk of potential injury, damage or mess. Welcome to parenthood
The earlier you start childproofing your house the longer you’ll have to become accustomed to the various measures before your child will explore the various hazards. So get on to this task and be prepared for when the little one arrives in your house!
The title of this column probably brings shivers to parents of toddlers and kids under the age of 12. Many parents do not like or appreciate tattoos or any so-called “Body Art.” I am one of them plus it is against our religion and is expressly forbidden in Judaism. Nonetheless, we parents have to choose our battles and this is one I chose to lose.
My older son Arnie has been a passionate musician since he was about 11. His music of choice is good ‘ol Rock ‘N’ Roll, from loving Jimi Hendrix and Led Zepellin to all the newer bands, including Green Day, Periphery, and Incubus – and so many others whose names I can’t even remember.
Arnie was not much of a student, in spite of his intelligence. Getting him through high school was quite the struggle because “everything is stupid” and he didn’t get the importance of doing well, though he cared enough to graduate. But, he never stopped learning his music. In his junior year, he decided he wanted to go to The Berkee College of Music.
The problem was he had no grades to speak of and no plans to even take the SAT. He finds out they don’t require the SAT, though it and grades factor into their acceptance process. What matters most to Berklee is your music – your audition. So, he set his mind to ace that.
To cut a long story short – he got in. Early acceptance. I got a heart attack upon learning how much the tuition was but I was proud.
Now, he wanted his first tattoo. He had just turned 18. Our understanding, after several years of discussion, was that he could not get a tattoo before he was 18 and he had to pay for any tattoos with money he earned vs. his savings, birthday money, or allowance. He got a job. He showed up last month with his first tattoo. I say “first” because he plans several more.
Parents must choose their battles. I wrestled long and hard with this one. My son’s commitment to his music was evident. While we all know and say that a kid thinks one thing but ends up doing another more often than not, my gut said my son would end up in music – one way or another. Tattoos are part of the culture. His culture.
What is more important to me than his body art is his character and I’ve seen unbelievable growth from him the past two years. Sure, he’s still lazy with his chores, but he is thoughtful, cares about his friends, and even seems aware now and then that the world doesn’t fully revolve around him.
He’s growing up. That’s what I want. Tattoos are not important. Being a good person is.
Do I like the tattoo? An emphatic NO. Maybe he’ll keep them off his face and neck. I think I may have impressed upon him enough that those sorts of tattoos are very off-putting and may hinder some choices in his future. But ultimately, it will be up to him.
He’s going to Berklee in the fall. My requirement for his continuing there is maintaining a decent grade average and not reverting to partying or any mischief that would result in me getting a call from the school. I also require that he sign the authorization that I have access to all his school records. I’m paying for it; I insist on that.
Finally, he got a loan from me for a quarter of his 4-year tuition expense because I want him to be invested in his education as much as I’m investing in it.
Tattoos? Not worth the fight …
By Bruce Sallan
Did it really take a study to prove that TV is bad for young children? Apparently so.
Researchers at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Centre in Seattle found that for each hour of TV a child watches, there is a 10% increase in the risk of attention deficit disorder (ADD). Read the complete research findings here.
Wonder why? Possibly because children become accustomed to a level of stimulation watching TV that is much higher than they would experience in life. Combine this with the flashing images common in children’s programming, and you’ve set children up to be ill-suited to deal with school, homework, concentration, reading, and real life in general. Three recent studies show that as TV viewing increases, academic performance decreases (Diller, Amen, and Armstrong).
Before formal schooling even begins, however, the damage of TV viewing is well underway. A research study at the Literacy Trust has found that exposure to television causes delayed language acquisition in toddlers. As if that is not bad enough, a working paper by Prof Waldman at Cornell linked the rise in autism to an increase in exposure to television.
Grim facts. Perhaps that’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under the age of two be kept away from TV altogether.
International TV Turnoff Week is observed during April of each year. The challenge is to abstain from any TV viewing for an entire week. But of course you don’t have to wait till next April to try this out yourself? Are you up for the challenge?
Amen D (2001) Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 6 Types of ADD, New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Armstrong T (1995) The Myth of the ADD Child, New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Christakis D (2004) Early Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children, PEDIATRICS: Vol. 113 No. 4 April 2004
Close R (2004) Television and language development in the early years, The National Literacy Trust, UK
Diller L (1998) Running on Ritalin, New York, NY: Bantam.
Waldman M (2006) Does Television Cause Autism?, Johnson Graduate School of Management Cornell University
Going on a long haul trip (as in 6h+ flight time) with a child aged 18 months to 3 years is probably one of the most challenging travel experience you can have as a parent. Obviously many of us do this but the difference between wanting to fling yourself off the plane and getting a few hours of sleep is all in the preparation. Check out some essential travel secrets for long haul trips with a toddler.
Here’s our long-haul survival list (in order of keeping you sane)
#1 The most essential toy for air travel is a Doodle Pad. It’s the most versatile, unmessy, imaginative and inexpensive toy you’ll ever buy (you can get them for about $10). It’s a true life saver as you can draw stuff, erase it and draw some more for quite a while. Most importantly you can use during take off / landing and when passing through turbulent weather (unlike some electronic gadgets).
#2 Sticker booklets – almost as versatile as the Doodle Pad, slightly more messy but still pretty imaginative and cheap. You can get them with different themes (animals, cartoons, sports, etc).
#3 Model airplanes in all shapes and sizes – you can get some really simple “assemble in less than 1 minute” sets or cuddly toy planes for next to nothing. Toy planes are great fun when as you can re-enact take-offs and landings on your tray table (and your neighbor’s tables). It’s also great fun to watch your fellow passengers when you cover off some “unlikely” scenarios of mid-air crashes, landing on water, loss of cabin-pressure, fire on board, lightning strikes or snakes on a plane (especially if you do this during turbulence). For the latter scenario you can sing “the wheels on the bus” with more suitable lyrics like “the snakes on the plane go tsss tss tsss, zsss zszz zsss, tsss zss ttss …”
#4 Snacks and food – nothing like a few interesting snacks to keep a toddler entertained for a while. Avoid snacks with high sugar content as that will just keep them going for longer. Dried fruit, popcorn and salty sticks are ideal. Preparing zip lock bags of several different snack options before the flight can help. Make sure you’re well prepared for this one as you never know what the airline gives you (if anything). Have at least enough food for 5 light meals + drinks! Also make sure you’ve got lollies at hand for take off and landing (it’ll make your child swallow frequently which is exactly what they need to do to compensate for the change in air pressure – that way you won’t have a screaming child during take off and landing).
#5 An iPad / iPhone (or other tablet / smartphone) loaded with baby and toddler apps – yes I know … they’re expensive. But you probably had to fork out a lot of money to go on a long-haul trip with the family in the first place. So perhaps you can squeeze in a little extra for a device like that. In most cases having a smartphone or tablet is your ultimate tantrum stopper and the ultimate entertainment center which you can use when all else fails. It’s like a magic bullet that will solve your temporary parenting issues when on a plane.
Ideally you’ll have time to gift-wrap (in lots of layers of wrapping paper!) all of the above (except the smartphone/tablet) … that way you can burn some valuable minutes by getting your little one to unwrap the thing.
OK it’s time to get ready for April Fools Day so we thought let’s put together a useful list of pranks you can play on your kids and partner.
Babies and Toddlers: well given that the irony of April Fools Day may be a bit lost on babies and toddlers you can just have a good old laugh with them. E.g. paint your face, user finger puppets or put a nappy on your head (a fresh one!!!)
Preschoolers: Find a piece of old / scrap cloth. Place your victim’s favourite toy or other item of interest on the floor and stay nearby. When the victim comes along and bends down to pick up the toy, rip the cloth … yell out that your little one as just ripped their trousers.
Primary school children: Add a few drops of food coloring into a milk carton for a nice surprise at breakfast! If you have sleepy kids you can also get up a bit earlier and draw something on their face while they are still asleep.
Preteens: Hide in a wardrobe or closet in their room when they get home and give them a good old fright
Teens: change the language setting on their mobile to some random language (make sure you know how to change it back … otherwise the relationship with your teen might deteriorate quickly).
A prank you can play on your pregnant wife is to tell her that you will need to be overseas for work when the baby is due. Probably a good idea to declare it as an April Fools prank within 5 seconds to avoid any serious domestic repercussions.
Another good one for your partner is to “fake nail” a fridge magnet to the fridge. Find a small photo or sonar baby scan that you’d typically hang up on the fridge. Use wire cutters to cut off the head of a nail and glue the nail head to the item you’re going to hang. Find a flat magnet and glue it to the back of the photo. Wait until the glue is dry and until your partner is in a room close by to the kitchen (but not IN the kitchen). Put the photo on the fridge (i.e. using the magnet at the back), take a hammer loud hammering noises. No doubt your partner will come into the kitchen to investigate and “catch” you nailing a picture to the refrigerator.