Tag: parenting tips

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Should I Buy My Baby’s Products In The Store or Online?

More and more people are buying online these days.  Let’s face it, it is so easy!  You think of something you want or need, and you are seconds away from getting it, virtually anytime and anywhere.  Not only is it very convenient, but you also have much more variety to choose from.  With Amazon.com for example, if you search for “Teething Toys”, you get 6,000 results.  Even if you went into Babies R Us before it went out of business, you might have had 40 options to choose from in the teethers section.   Although we have so many options shopping online, which for many means Amazon, there is a danger lurking that you sense is there but can’t quite put your finger on.   We hope to bring light to the details that could be the source of your gut feeling.

The Old Way to Buy Baby Products

Traditionally, we relied on large retailers such as Walmart, Target, and the former Babies R Us, to research a need in the market and find a product that fits that need. Those large retailers proactively ensure:

  • The product is Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) compliant
  • Any claims that a product makes on its packaging is verifiable by an independent 3rd party
  • The company that backs that product is focused on quality, not just profit
  • Products are made in ethical working conditions

In addition, because physical stores (i.e. Walmart and the like) typically buy directly from the brand that has the product manufactured, there is virtually no possibility for counterfeit products.  There is one party accountable to the end customer, and that is ultimately the brand.  If the retailer does a bad job at this, it is a poor reflection on them.

The New Way To Buy Baby Products

Amazon has drastically changed the landscape of retail.    The new way consumers buy relies on resellers to give you the variety and convenience that consumers have come to expect.   Resellers are mini online retailers that pay Amazon a commission for every unit they sell on Amazon.   So, when you shop on Amazon, you are not necessarily buying from Amazon, you are buying from a sea of small retailers that are fighting to get you to buy from them.  Many resellers have made millions selling on Amazon.com, so they keep growing and growing every day.  Anyone can sell on Amazon.  Competition and ease for resellers to start selling on Amazon have created a slew of potential issues.

  • False claims – some products may claim to be “freezer safe”, for example, but have not actually been tested to make that claim. Many resellers will add features to create more sales.
  • Fake reviews – Some resellers hire companies that specialize in creating fake reviews that help boost product listings to the top of search results and increase sales.
  • Paid for reviews – reviews that were given in exchange for a free or steeply discounted product.
  • Counterfeit products – If a product does well on Amazon, some unethical manufacturers will make an identical or very similar product and may or may not use the same quality of materials, then sell it for the same amount or less. Counterfeits may use the original branding to pass it off as the original, but sometimes they do change it a tiny bit and use very similar branding to mislead the consumer into mistakenly buying theirs instead of the original.
  • Sellers located overseas shipping direct to the US – These products don’t have to go through the same United States Customs process. Customs scrutinizes large shipments to ensure products are what they say they are and that they meet CPSC guidelines.  Smaller consumer packages often go straight to the consumers.  The other disadvantage to this is it takes a long time to get the product.

Amazon has policies in place to help combat some of these problems and every seller must agree to follow those policies; however, many of the offenders fall through the cracks.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from these scenarios, but they may take a little bit away from the convenience you are used to.

What can I do to make sure I buy the best product for my baby?

One way is to do it the old way.  Go into a trusted store.  As mentioned earlier, physical stores have a lot of products that fit most people’s/baby’s needs.  You can rest easy knowing that if you buy something in a store, it has been scrutinized carefully by the store.  If you are looking for a selection most like what you found in Babies R’ Us (BRU), we recommend buybuyBaby (BBB). BBB has even more of a selection than BRU did.  The trouble is, there aren’t as many BBB stores.  If you have one close to you, this is a great place to shop and learn about baby products.  Not only do they have a large variety of proven products, but they also have an excellent staff that can help answer questions and point you in the right direction.  If BBB is too far away, here is a breakdown of the various physical stores you might try.

Store Type

Store

Variety Product Confidence

Physical Stores

buybuyBaby

A A

Walmart

C A
Target D

A

Local Boutiques A*

B*

Amazon N/A**

N/A**

* Independent retailers are a catchall category for retailers that are either online only or only have a handful of physical stores dedicated primarily to baby products.  Some can be excellent in terms of variety and quality assurance, and some can be poor in both.  If you explore locally, you are sure to find some good ones.
** Amazon purchased Whole-Foods, so they do have brick and mortar locations; however, the baby section in these stores has not changed much and is relatively limited.

As you can see from the chart, Walmart and Target may not have the same variety that you can get online; however, they carefully scrutinize the products they offer and the companies that provide them.  We are happy to say that Little Toader products are available in stores and we know firsthand how important quality is to these retailers. It is also worth noting that there are Walmart’s and Targets virtually everywhere, so while you may not have as much selection, you won’t have to wait for your product to ship and you know you are getting a good product.

Navigating Amazon

You think you got the chops to tackle online, fine, but make sure you follow these tips.  You can still find some very good quality products, from reputable companies on Amazon, you just need to do a little homework to make sure you are getting what you think you are getting.

  • Make sure the product’s reviews are on the up and up. There is a website that tells you if the reviews for a product seem fishy.  You can even install a chrome extension, so you can find out without leaving the product page, how legit those reviews are.  Each page will have a “Pass”, “Warning”, or “Fail”.  You can try it out on one of our Little Toader products below.

https://reviewmeta.com/amazon/B00HTURS3Q  Or try a product with ratings that seem too good to be true on Amazon, copy the url at the top (e.g. https://….) and paste in top area of the page on http://reviewmeta.com

  • Verify the accuracy of claims. There are so many resellers that can add content to the product page. Sometimes they may make a claim that will lead to more sales.  We suggest you find the website for the manufacturer of the product and check to see what they say about the product.  You will also be able to verify if you are getting a good deal from that seller.
  • Verify the reliability of the brand. For example, if you search for “Teething Toys” and see several different listings for what appears to be the exact same product, but the packaging is different, this can mean that these products are made overseas, resold to many different people or companies. It is hard to verify the safety of these products with so many different people involved.
  • Check for Counterfeits. There are a lot of well-known brands that have knockoffs.  These can be a little hard to detect because they are made to look just like the real product. If you look at the product listing and notice that the seller has a significantly smaller number of reviews, a shorter history on Amazon, and it is branded slightly different than what you find on the original manufacturer’s website, then be cautious and report it to Amazon.  Counterfeits typically are not made with the same quality of materials.
  • Don’t buy products that ship from overseas. If you are interested in buying collectables, buying a product that ships from overseas may be okay, but if you are buying a baby product, be sure it is shipping from the US.  If the product is Prime, you don’t have to worry about this.  If the product shows a long delivery window, beware.

So, if you want to buy baby products without having to second guess, find a local store that you trust, whether it is buybuyBaby, Walmart, Target, or a baby boutique.  That may not always be the most convenient, so if you are going online, just make sure you are aware of the common gotchas we discussed to protect you and your baby from poor quality products, or products that aren’t quite what they claim to be.

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How do you clean your baby’s pacifier when you are at home or on the go?

Keeping your baby’s pacifiers, teethers, nipples, bottles, etc… clean is key to keeping your baby healthy and well.  Each parent has a different opinion as to what constitutes “clean”.  This opinion will largely drive your preferred method. That being said, here is a quick list of some of the more popular methods used to clean our baby’s “stuff”.

  • Soap and Water
  • Steam Sterilizer
  • Boiling
  • Dishwasher
  • Mom or Dad sucking on the Pacifier

Obviously, some of these are easier to implement than others.  Urgency plays a large factor in the approach taken.  The other factor is perceived effectiveness.  We will go over each and discuss the pros and cons we found on each, so you can decide for yourself.

Mom or Dad sucking on the Pacifier

There is no questioning the ease and simplicity of simply popping your baby’s pacifier into your mouth and sucking off any debris or germs that it may have collected.  There has been a study that suggests introducing your saliva to your baby could prevent the development of allergies such as asthma and eczema (AAP.org) http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/6/e1829.abstract .  I wouldn’t get too excited about this because though there are studies showing that saliva can help, many medical professionals warn against this method as this is also how you can spread viruses to your baby at a critical time when their immune systems have not fully developed. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/pacifiers/art-20048140

Pros: could possibly prevent some allergies – very easy to implement.

Cons: your baby could contract viruses and harmful bacteria from you – most medical professionals recommend you don’t take this approach.

Soap and Water

This is a close second in terms of ease to implement.  You can always pop into a bathroom, even when you are on the go.  Washing with soap and running water is a very effective way to get rid of most of the germs.  After all, it is what you do for yourself whenever your hands get dirty or you are about to put something in your mouth.  Washing with soap and water is typically considered more effective than antibacterial wipes.

Pros: very easy to implement – quick – effective

Cons: it may not get rid of all germs or bacteria

Steam Sterilizers

This method has similar effects to boiling.  It kills germs and bacteria by exposing them to high temperatures.  Note: you must still wash your baby’s pacifiers with soap and water before you put them in the sterilizer to remove the bulk of the germs.  The sterilizer will kill the rest (mostly).   Sterilizing is particularly useful if you don’t have reliable clean water.  There is a wide range of models available that cost $15 – $100.  The less expensive varieties are typically used with the aid of a microwave and require some additional steps in the sterilization process. The more expensive options are just load-and-click.

Pros: will kill any bacteria missed after washing with soap and water – easier than boiling – very important if you don’t have a reliable clean water source.

Cons: when it comes to pacifiers, the “virtually bacteria free” badge only lasts a moment.  Once the pacifier is removed from the sterilizer it will be as clean as your hands and your babies hands and/or anything else that touches it (which is a lot).

Boiling

Boiling is the best way to kill germs.  You can expose the germs to higher heat for long durations when boiling.  You don’t need to buy anything additional to implement this method of cleaning.  You do need to make sure, as with sterilizers, that your products are safe to boil.  Products exposed to this method of sterilization must be able to handle high temperatures without breaking down leaching chemicals.  Refer to your product packaging and/or the manufacturer’s website to confirm they have used third-party testing to confirm their product is safe to boil.

Pros: best way to kill bacteria – no upfront cost to implement – very important if you don’t have a reliable clean water source

Cons: when it comes to pacifiers, as with sterilization, the bacteria-free badge only lasts a moment.  Once the pacifier is removed from the sterilizer it will be as clean as your hands and your babies hands and/or anything else that touches it (which is a lot).  It is the most time-consuming method of cleaning your baby’s products. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Pacifiers-Satisfying-Your-Babys-Needs.aspx .The extremely high temperatures may not be recommended for some products; therefore, causing more harm than good. In addition, it is extremely important that you ensure all water is drained from the pacifier after boiling and that it is completely cool before you give it to your baby.

Dishwasher

This is a very desirable method of cleaning your baby’s pacifiers and other products that go in their mouth.  It’s not quite as effective at killing bacteria as steam sterilization and boiling but is more thorough than washing it with soap and water or popping the pacifier in your mouth.  It is certainly a much easier approach to batch cleaning than all the other options.  Most people run their dishwasher every day. There are a few things to be mindful of.  It may or may not be as effective at cleaning if something in the dishwasher is obstructing the water flow.  This could prevent the detergent and water from hitting your pacifier, bottles, nipples or teethers.  You also must be cautious of the potential for detergent residue left on your baby’s pacifier, teether, nipples, bottles, etc….  If you use this approach it is advisable to rinse your baby’s products by hand afterwards.

Pros: you can clean a lot of items at once – it is usually effective (assuming there is nothing obstructing water flow).

Cons: you still need to rinse by hand after the wash cycle – its only practical to do once a day – must still check with your manufacturer to ensure your products can withstand higher temperatures and harsh detergents associated with dishwashers.  It is the longest cleaning process, in terms of time.

What to do?

Now that you know some of the more popular methods for cleaning products your babies put in their mouth, you can decide what will work best for you and your baby.   For every study or source that promotes something, there seems to be a study or source that states otherwise. You will likely use all of these methods sometime or another (except, perhaps, cleaning our baby’s pacifier by sucking on it).

WARNING 1 – Make sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and care.  Some products will explicitly state you should not boil, use sterilizers, or put in a dishwasher (or use top rack only).  If you aren’t sure, check the manufacturer’s website or the packaging for the product.

WARNING 2 – With any cleaning approach you use, thoroughly inspect all of your baby’s products for any signs of wear and tear prior to each use. If you see any signs, discard the product and replace it.

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5 Easy Steps to Make & Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution

new year's resolutionEach year, families create their own New Year’s resolutions to try and live healthier lifestyles, spend more time together, improve their finances, and more. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to craft a New Year’s resolution that it is to stick to them. This is especially true when you make them as a family and everyone has to do their part to achieve the goal. However, it is better to work as a team and support each other. Resolutions are also a great way to teach kids about the effectiveness and importance of setting goals, and how to see them through. Here are 5 tips to help you make and stick to your New Year’s resolution.

1. Brainstorm an idea together.

As a group, your whole family should come up with ideas together, and then decide on which works best for you all. Typically, families want to save more money, use less energy, get more fit, or spend more quality time together. Have every person contribute one idea so everyone feels included. Then, think of some creative ways to actually meet your goal. Will you take a short walk every evening? Will you designate a movie night?

2. Measure your progress.

It’s important to set milestones for yourself so you know if you’re working towards your goal or just slacking. Set up a calendar or list somewhere public in your house that everyone can access. Then, write down what each person’s responsibility will be so everyone knows how they’re accountable. This will help everyone stay motivated and working toward the goal.

3. Reward yourselves.

Often achieving the resolution isn’t enough to keep us motivated. Come up with a clear reward for each person involved. Ideally this is something that can be broken into mini-rewards and given out along the way by meeting your mini-goals. If your resolution is a lofty goal (like loose 20 pounds or save a bunch of money), you’ll need to find some way to reinforce your sense of accomplishment and keep you going.

4. Try something different.

Break up the monotony of a boring routine by meeting your resolution differently. If your resolution is to be more environmentally conscious, do 1 new thing each month to ease yourself into the new lifestyle. This will help prevent sliding back into bad habits. If you’re trying to loose weight, perform different exercises so the same routine doesn’t get boring. Don’t try to do too much at once or you risk giving up all together.

5. Tell your family and friends.

Once you spread the word that you’e trying to change yourself with  a New Year’s resolution, it’s good to let the people in your life know about it. This will make you feel accountable to them and keep you motivated. You don’t want to disappoint your friends! Plus, with all the support and cheering you’ll receive, it will make the whole task easier. You might even convince them to make a change in their own lives!

Image courtesy of  Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

nursing pillowGuest blog by Sandy Clark, Inventor of San Diego Bebe Eco-Nursing Pillow

San Diego Bebe® was designed by San Diego native Sandy Clark, a passionate breastfeeding advocate and mother of twins. Clark was inspired at a San Diego beach one day where she witnessed a young mother unsuccessfully nursing her baby. As the mother struggled to keep a blanket across her shoulder while her baby wailed from heat and hunger, Clark vowed then and there to design a product that would help resolve the issue of privacy while nursing. San Diego Bebe® was born that day.

When Clark sent her nursing pillow to Duke to be tested and reviewed, Duke University Chemical Scientist Dr. Heather Stapleton, who is a mother herself, said, “The San Diego Bebe® Eco-Nursing Pillow is not only a very supportive pillow with amazing features for discreet nursing, but is also free of flame-retardant chemicals that have been shown to cause adverse health effects in animal studies. I applaud Double Blessings (Clark’s company) for taking steps to produce high quality products that meet the same flammability standards without using these chemicals.”

San Diego Bebe® Eco-Nursing Pillow is the healthiest and most innovative nursing pillow on the market. Made with virgin polyfiber Eco*Loft™, a non-toxic and hypo-allergenic foam-alternative, it’s void of harmful chemicals. It’s also recyclable and eco-friendly. San Diego Bebe® is available in two versions, for nursing one baby or twins. The entire line is baby-safe, and is covered with deluxe plush fabrics including organic cotton.

Click to view a Nursing Pillow Comparison Chart to learn more.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Little Toader? Send your topic idea to pr@littletoader.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Little Toader makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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Calming a Fussy Baby

calm a fussy babyEvery parent has experienced that moment when the baby cries and cries and cries, and there seems to be nothing you can do to stop the tears. You’ve tried feeding. You’ve changed the diaper. You’ve sung songs. It seems hopeless, but it’s not. Every baby has their own unique personality, so you’ll have to try different methods until you get one that works best. Here are seven methods you can try to sooth your fussy baby.

1. Recreate the womb experience

Babies are used to the security, warmth and comfort of mom’s womb so recreating this environment for baby can be incredibly soothing. Swaddling baby is encouraged because it does a great job of replicating the womb environment. There are many different swaddles on the market to choose from. However, once baby begins to roll, that means it’s time to stop swaddling for safety reasons, but transitioning baby from swaddling is not an easy feat. Use a transition swaddle that gives babies the warmth and security of a swaddle but leaves them some mobility.

2. Give baby a massage

Babies find it very relaxing for mom or dad to gently stroke their tummies and massage their arms and legs. You can warm up some lotion and gently spread it all over baby while kneading the skin without applying too much pressure. This can be a bonding experience for parent and baby and it can also help put your baby to sleep.

3. Use a white noise machine

Babies are also accustomed to the loud noises they heard in mom’s womb and white noise can help to reduce stress in babies, help them fall asleep more easily and reduce their crying. Have the white noise machine be louder than your baby’s crying for it to be effective.

4. Run a warm bath

For some babies there is nothing more soothing than a warm bath, especially before bed time. A lavender body wash relaxes baby and makes baby sleepy when it becomes a part of your regular nightly routine because she will associate the warm water with falling asleep.

5. Breastfeed your baby

Breastfeeding baby doesn’t just calm her hunger, it also serves to comfort your baby. It’s a very powerful way to soothe baby as she feels much closer to mom. Nursing baby for comfort also regulates baby’s breathing and heart rate.

6. Rock baby to sleep

Babies love rhythmic motions like rocking, swinging, dancing, and jiggling. Swaying while holding a fussy baby or putting baby in a swing or bouncer usually helps to keep her calm. Sitting down with baby in a rocking chair will also help as well as pushing baby in a stroller around the house or taking baby for a ride in the car.

7. Offer baby a pacifier or teething toy

A pacifier will soothe baby’s instinctive need to suck and allows baby to self soothe. Be careful not to let baby sleep with a teething toy as this could be a safety hazard. But for those times, where baby is fussing during the day or if you make sure to take the pacifier and teething toy from them after they fall asleep, this is a great way to calm a fussy baby. Most babies will wean themselves off the pacifier when it is no longer needed. If baby is fussy because she is teething, a teething toy will help soothe baby’s sore gums and ease her discomfort.

Important Note: Although all of these are great ways to help calm your fussy baby, make sure to not become too reliant on any of these so that your little one doesn’t learn how to self-soothe on their own. Anything that could potentially become a sleep aid, like rocking and nursing should be used sparingly so that your little one doesn’t become dependent on any one particular thing to fall asleep. If a baby becomes used to needing to nurse in order to fall asleep, for example, you can be creating a habit that is difficult to break. You don’t want a little one who needs to feed in order to sleep even if they may not be hungry. The Zipadee-Zip has been used by moms everywhere to help reduce the need for sleep aids and encourage self-soothing.

transition baby from swaddleGuest blog by Stephanie Parker from Sleepingbaby.com, inventors of the Zipadee-Zip

The motto for Sleeping Baby, makers of the Zipadee-Zip, is: “Inspiring Dreams One Night at A time,” and that, in a nutshell, is how it all started…with one little dream that has since become the Parker family’s reality. When Brett and Stephanie Parker’s daughter, Charlotte, was born, the feeling that welled up inside of them was indescribable; they never realized until first looking into those baby blues of hers that they were even capable of that kind of love.

When it was time to transition baby from swaddling, the Parkers tried every sleep sack on the market and every swaddle weaning trick they could find for nearly two weeks and nothing worked to get baby Charlotte to fall and stay asleep.

Stephanie became determined to restore sleep and sanity to their household and set out to find a solution that would soothe Charlotte’s startle reflex and provide her the cozy womb-like environment she loved so much but still give her the freedom to roll over and wiggle around in her crib safely. Out of sheer desperation and exhaustion, the Zipadee-Zip was born. The first Zipadee-Zip(R) Stephanie put together on her little sewing machine worked like magic!

To date tens of thousands of Zipadee-Zips have been sold and all from word-of-mouth marketing. It is so rewarding for the Parkers to see other parents and babies getting the sleep they both need and deserve!

Interested in writing a guest blog for Little Toader? Send your topic idea to pr@littletoader.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Little Toader makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Car Seat Safety Tips for Parents Traveling With Small Children

car seat safety tipsWhen it comes to traveling by car with little ones, parents want to be prepared to make the trip as safe as possible. It’s not always easy to know what to do to protect your children, which is why you can find different resources online to help guide parents on how to keep kids safe in and around vehicles. As a mom of four and as a certified car seat safety instructor, I encourage parents to do their research on vehicle safety.  Below are four tips for choosing the right car seat.

One of my favorite sites to help parents find the right car seat for their situation is Healthy Children, which is from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They have a list of car seats on the market each year that gives the sizes and prices of each car seat.

Parents should remember that four things need to be true for a car seat to be the right one for them:

1. The car seat must fit your child.

You should choose your car seat based on your child’s age and size. As children grow they may no longer fit in the same seat. Check the manual for your car seat to determine the maximum weight and height allowed by the manufacturer.

2. The car seat must fit your car.

Car seats are not designed to fit every vehicle. To make sure it’s the right fit for your vehicle you should test the car seat that you are planning to buy and also read the car seat section of your vehicle’s owner’s manual for more information.

3. The car seat should fit your budget.

Car seats can be expensive but just because it costs more does not mean it’s a better choice. Making sure that it’s the right fit for your child and vehicle are the better criteria to go by. Choose the car seat that best suits your needs. Keep in mind you should never purchase a used car seat without knowing the history of the seat and checking to see if it has been recalled. If you have any questions about the seat, call the car seat manufacturer.

4. Most importantly, you need to use the car seat correctly EVERY time.

You have to make sure that your car seat is facing the right direction according to your child’s age. Infants and toddlers under age 2 should ride in rear-facing car seats. It’s also important that you use harness straps and chest clips correctly so they fit snugly across your child’s body. Always follow the instructions from the car seat manufacturer to ensure that you are following all of the guidelines.

Just because a seat is fancy or a brand name doesn’t mean it is the right one. Every car seat on the market meets all of the U.S. standards for car seat safety. Cup holders, colorful decorations, or licensed characters do not help at all with safety.

For more information on car safety for kids visit www.safekids.org and www.safercar.gov.

Find a car seat inspection station near you at http://www.nhtsa.gov/apps/cps/index.htm. A certified technician will inspect your car seat and show you the correct way to install it.

Image courtesy of kdshutterman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

no slip baby bowlWritten by Brabara Schantz or Baby Dipper Bowl

As a stay-at-home mom of 2 sets of twin babies, Barbara faced the daunting task of feeding them. Frustrated with the bowls she had already purchased, she researched and bought other bowls, but still remained disappointed. She needed a bowl that required only one hand to successfully feed a baby, but wasn’t able to find one on the market that satisfied this need. The vision for the Baby Dipper® bowl came to her when her twin girls were about 6 months old, not long after they started eating baby cereal and other pureed foods. After much learning and hard work, she was able to bring the Baby Dipper bowl to market so that others can enjoy true one-handed feeding.

For more information, visit www.babydipper.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Little Toader? Send your topic idea to pr@littletoader.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Little Toader makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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5 Secrets to Feeding Picky Children

feed picky eatersAs a parent of three school-age children and a personal chef, I am always striving to put good healthy mealtime options that everyone will enjoy in front of my family or those of my clients. However, it seems that the mealtime whims of ‘the picky eater’ are common to almost every household, often dominating mealtimes to the detriment of other family members’ enjoyment. Keeping the demands of our most choosy diners in check can be challenging and often frustrating. But in my experience, once you set a rule and establish a routine and (the difficult bit), stick to it, mealtimes can become a far more enjoyable affair dominated by conversation and togetherness.

But before you get carried away with these tried and tested strategies, it’s important to recognize that you will need time, patience and resilience. Rome was not built in a day, and people are unique in their food preferences – essentially your child may never like cauliflower or peas, even if you do. But as a parent you have the ability to help your child make an informed decision about food, just as they would about sports or academics – by presenting the opportunity to try in a consistent manner.

1. Establish a Mealtime Routine

Eat meals sitting down at the table, (not in front of the TV) preferably together as a family.  Prepare a meal, one meal for the whole family – that might mean that it can’t be spicy, and for younger children in particular, it should be easily identifiable. Your aim is to put something healthy on the table that everyone will enjoy.  Be clear that the family table is just that, not a restaurant with menu options. Make one meal with choices, ideally including at least one choice you know your family will eat, and do not provide alternatives. There is a difference between “I don’t like broccoli” and “I refuse to eat my vegetables.”

2.  Establish a Snack Rule

Eat meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner and limit snacking. Cutting out the snacks is probably the biggest hurdle for most families, especially as our culture is so snack-prevalent, but it can be done and over time, your children will also come to understand smart snack choices and timing which are important lessons to teach in their own right. How would you feel if an adult came to dinner, having consumed a grand latte and three donut holes only an hour earlier?

Think of milk and juice as snacks too – if you calculate the nutrition and calorie load in beverages, you’ll start to understand why and it’s simply unfair to expect a child, especially a small one, to eat a full meal at 5 pm when they’ve only just consumed half a pint of milk or juice. Consider introducing a ‘No Snacks 2 Hours Before Dinner’ rule – and then sticking to it.

3. Introducing New Foods – GO SLOW!

Introduce new foods alongside favored ones. If your child will only eat carrots, offer carrots and corn, carrots and beans, carrots and tomatoes. And then keep offering it. Just because a child refuses something once does not mean that they do not like it. Yes, this may take years – no really, years! It took me eight long years with potatoes and my eldest son. I never stopped bringing them to the family table. He now eats all types of potatoes – apart from mashed. And I’m okay with the fact that perhaps he will never enjoy mashed potatoes.

Don’t make a ‘ta-da’ over the new item you might be introducing – that’s enough to put any reticent diner on edge. Less is more, in terms of quantity and fuss. Once you’ve established a food as a favored item, start to consider switching up the flavors. For example, if your child loves green beans – try presenting Green Beans Almondine. This is setting them up for more sophisticated dining and gets them accustomed to eating with combinations too, which can often be a hurdle for children. Above all else, take your time.

4. Make it Fun

Kids love to play, so if you consider making their food playful, then there’s a better chance of them eating it – there’s a reason why giant food manufacturers came up with macaroni shapes and chicken nugget dinosaurs! But consider this too – small kids don’t really eat much and they love finger food. By cutting their food into fun shapes in tiny quantities, you’ve made their food fun and put them in charge of their plate – something we know they love. However, as Mom, I can’t say carving out shapes is something I love! Find yourself a nifty cutter that makes food into fun shapes for kids.

5. Stock your Pantry Smarter

If your home is stocked with more healthy choices like fruit, raw veggies, nuts, and less processed choices like chips, candy, cheese, then there’s a good chance your family’s snacking habits will change, not to mention your salt/sugar/fat consumption! At the end of the day, the buck stops with you – in the grocery store. If you want your family to eat healthy, then buy healthy and set the example from the top.

Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

personal chef Greenwich CTGuest Blog by Joanna Wallis of The Cooking Fairy

Joanna Wallis is a busy mom of 3 who started cooking over 20 years ago. Her culinary knowledge is self-taught and spans a variety of different cuisines and styles. Her love of food was the inspiration for The Cooking Fairy which started out as a glimmer of shiny magic over three years ago. Joanna works as a personal chef for a wide range of clientele and she loves bringing families together with healthy, delicious, and fresh meals prepared just for them.

For more information, visit: www.thefairycook.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Little Toader? Send your topic idea to pr@littletoader.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Little Toader makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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End of Daylight Saving Time: Tips for a Successful “Fall Back” Transition

traveling-sleep-tipsYes, it’s that dreaded time again… The end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) is just around the corner. On November 3, 2013, we will move the clocks back by one hour. If your children easily adjusts to the time change, you may be lucky and get an extra hour of sleep. Most of you, however, should expect that your children will wake up to an hour earlier until their bodies have adjusted to the new time. As a Certified Child Sleep Consultant by the Family Sleep Institute and Founder of SleepyHead Solutions in St. Louis, MO, I’ve given out lots of child sleep tips to help ease the pain of the end of Daylight Saving shift. Here are some of those:

For the less sensitive baby or child…

  • Go with the flow. There is no need to prepare them for the time change. Come Sunday, adjust the entire day to the new time including naps, bedtime, and meals. Within a few days his body will adjust.

For those children who have some difficulty with sleep transitions…

  • Start the transition to the new time several days before the end of DST begins. On Wednesday, October 30th, begin to shift the bedtime later by 15 minutes. Each subsequent day, shift the bedtime an additional 15 minutes. Be sure to adjust his entire day (naps, bedtime, and meals). By Sunday, your little ones’ body will already be on the way to adjusting to the new time.
  • For the first week or two after DST ends, keep the lights a bit dimmer for the first hour or so after waking in the morning and the lights a bit brighter for the last hour of the day. This will help the resetting of your child’s internal clock to the new time.
  • With any change to schedule or routine, the more rested your little one can be leading up to the change, the more successful the transition will be. Spend time now getting naps and night sleep in order so your little one is not overtired. A well-rested sleeper will handle this transition much more smoothly than an overtired child!

Tips for making Sunday (and the following days) as smooth as possible:

  • Spend lots of time outdoors. Physical activity will help ensure that your little one is tuckered out in time for naps and bedtime. Being in the natural light will also help them reset their internal clocks.
  • If your little one wakes early in the morning on Sunday, do your best to get him to go back to sleep until the regular wake time (according the new time). If he does wake early, on Sunday only, go ahead and get him out of bed a bit earlier than his regular wake time.
  • Keep him awake until the correct time for his naps. Spending time outdoors will help make this more successful.
  • In the evening, do your best to keep your child awake until his normal bedtime.

Have realistic expectations. It could take anywhere from a few days to a week or two for your little one’s internal clock to reset to this new time. As with all sleep training, the most important thing is for Mom and Dad to approach this transition with patience, confidence, and consistency.

certified sleep consultantWritten by Renee Wasserman of SleepyHead Solutions.

Originally from Los Angeles and now living in St. Louis, MO, Renee Wasserman holds a Masters in Public Heath and is a Physical Therapist with more than 15 years of experience. With her experiences in both the health care field and those that come with a being a mom to 3 girls (ages 5, 7, and 9), she discovered her passion for children’s sleep issues and founded SleepyHead Solutions. As a Family Sleep Institute certified infant and child sleep consultant, Renee empowers parents to teach their children to become healthy sleepers.

She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in person consultations to solve a child’s sleep challenges as well as to help parents set their newborns on the right track toward a healthy sleep foundation. Renee also serves as a volunteer ambassador for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Safe to Sleep campaign. This campaign aims to educate parents, caregivers and health care providers about ways to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

For more information, vist www.sleepyheadsolutions.com

Interested in writing a guest blog for Little Toader? Send your topic idea to pr@littletoader.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Little Toader makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Image courtesy of papaija2008 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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5 Baby Sleep Safety Tips: September is Safety Month

baby safe sleep tipsSeptember is Baby Safety Month so it is a good time for parents to focus on making sure they are doing all they can to keep their babies safe and protected. Knowing that baby is safe and sound will give parents peace of mind, so creating a safe sleep environment for baby should be a number one priority. Here are five important tips on baby sleep safety.

1. Keep crib empty
It’s important to keep cribs empty of all items such as pillow, blankets, bumper pads and stuffed animals. All of these items pose suffocation hazards to babies. Any loose fabric or soft cushions can unravel and block baby’s nose and mouth. Fighting for air or becoming overheated from too many blankets may be linked to SIDS.

2. Safe swaddling
Swaddling can be very beneficial for baby as it mimics touch and recreates the confinement felt in the womb. It also helps maintain the “back is best” sleep position and promotes good sleeping patterns. However, traditional swaddling blankets pose the risk of wrapping babies too tightly and reducing necessary movement in the hips causing hip dysplasia. Thick blankets or too many layers can cause overheating, and strong babies can break out of traditional swaddling blankets which can unravel and cover baby’s face. There are many swaddles available nowadays that do not require wrapping.

3. Put baby on his back
Make sure that you always place baby on his back when you are putting your little one down for the night or for a daytime nap. This is the best sleep position for babies because babies who are placed to sleep on their stomachs are at a higher risk for SIDS. The reason for this is uncertain but there have been findings that suggest that infants who sleep on their stomachs get less oxygen or rebreathe their own carbon monoxide, or “bad air”. It is important to keep putting baby down on his back throughout the first year of life.

First Candle, a national nonprofit health organization uniting parents, caregivers and researchers nationwide with government, business and community service groups to advance infant health and survival, says, “As human beings, when we exhale we exhale carbon dioxide or “bad air.” This is normal – we all do it! But when a baby sleeps on its tummy, or there is soft, fluffy or loose bedding or other objects in their sleep space, that carbon dioxide can build up around the baby’s head and face. So, rather than breathing fresh air, the baby breathes the bad air. To a normal, healthy baby breathing the bad air would not cause a problem. Their brain would tell them that they are breathing too much carbon dioxide and they would cough, cry, turn their head or do something to get themselves out of the challenging situation. To a baby predisposed to SIDS (see Triple Risk Model), their brain does not tell them there is a problem, so they continue to breath the bad air, which can then cause them to die suddenly and unexpectedly. The same holds true for overheating, another risk factor – when a healthy baby becomes overheated their brain recognizes the problem and attempts to correct it. When a baby predisposed to SIDS overheats, nothing happens to correct the situation.”

4. Monitor your baby
Having a baby monitor in the room with your baby allows parents to keep an eye or ear on their baby from another room. Monitors give you the ability to listen to your baby and check on them with disturbing their sleep. They help you to identify whether or not baby needs your attentions and can provide parents with reassurance that baby is sleeping safe and sound.

5. Safe co-sleeping
There is a debate over whether co-sleeping is beneficial to babies and there are pros and cons for each side. The argument for co-sleeping is that children who sleep next to their parents tend to have better emotional health later on in life. They tend to be happier, less anxious, and have higher self-esteem. Some parents believe that leaving baby alone to cry himself to sleep results in stress which can make baby more prone to illness. Parents who believe in co-sleeping find that baby falls asleep faster and sleeps better overall.

On the other side of the debate, parents argue that co-sleeping is risky for babies as there is an increased chance of overheating and a risk of suffocation if a parent accidentally rolls onto the baby. They believe that an infant sleeps better on his own as constant bed movement can disturb a baby who is co-sleeping. They also argue that co-sleeping does not leave parents with sufficient time to themselves to wind down for the night and does not allow for intimate alone time for parents.

For parents who do decide to take the co-sleeping route, make sure your mattress is firm with tightly fitted sheets and keep your pillow away from the baby. Keep the bed away from side tables and make sure there are no gaps baby can fall into. The best position for baby is on the side of mom instead of in the center of the bed. Consider buying a larger size bed so everyone has more space and can get a better night’s sleep.

Note: Although Karen Barski is a Registered Nurse, she is not a doctor and this press release is not intended to give medical advice but rather display research and findings to educate parents. Her mission is to be a passionate safe swaddling advocate and leading manufacturer of safe baby products.

woombie baby swaddleWritten by Karen Barski, BSN, RN, Mother of five, Certified Infant Care Specialist & Instructor, & Inventor of the Woombie Baby Swaddle

Karen has been an RN for 19 years, and has worked in many different nursing roles. As a Certified Infant Care Specialist, Karen counsels thousands of families yearly on a multitude of issues relating to pregnancy and infancy. Also, as a mother of five, she has invaluable experience and tips to share.
Since 2007, Karen’s company, KB Designs, has invented a line of signature baby swaddle products that have helped parents easily transition their new babies from womb to home. There are multiple designs and sizes so that babies can enjoy the comfort and security of the Woombie up until the time they begin to roll. The newest design called the Woombie Air that allows excess heat to escape to regulate baby’s body temperature.

Each product has been created and designed by Karen because of a need she identified in her life with her five children. With convenience, safety, and fashion in mind, KB Designs has helped over a half million babies…and counting! The Woombie is a baby swaddle that requires no wrapping and is designed to gently hug baby while allowing for natural movement. The Woombie Air is a breathable swaddle that allows for excess body heat to escape making it the first ventilated swaddle.

Read Karen’s story on how she invented the Woombie in the middle of the night on her grandmother’s sewing machine which turned into a million dollar mommy business. Read Woombie Baby Swaddle Story.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Little Toader? Send your topic idea to pr@littletoader.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Little Toader makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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5 Additives to Avoid in Baby Products– How to Determine if a Product is Safe for Babies

baby safety tipsSeptember is Baby Safety Month. Many parents don’t realize that there are baby products on the market that are not the healthiest or safest choice for their infants. Parents should carefully research which baby products are safest, and which materials and additives to avoid when choosing the best products for their family. I was determined to find eco-friendly materials that were void of harmful chemicals for my line of nursing pillows. It was not an easy feat to find a foam replacement for our products (foam requires fire retardants) – but after years of persistence, we did just that. During my research, I came across a Duke University study that exposed toxic chemical additives in over a hundred baby products. I was shocked to see which companies were on the list! Below are the top five additives to avoid when buying baby products.

Phthalates
Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that are often used to make plastics soft. They are found all throughout the home in clothing, bedding, toys and more, making babies and children especially vulnerable to these chemicals.

PVC
PVC plastic, better known as vinyl, is one of the most toxic substances that can cause health and environmental problems. It appears in everything from lunch boxes to children’s toys to cars. Phthalates are often added to PVC to make the plastic more flexible. Stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Johnson & Johnson have agreed to phase out the use of PVC in their products.

Lead
Lead is a poison that was banned from home use but can still be found in products today. Children can get lead poisoning from swallowing or breathing in lead which can also be spread by dust. Lead poisoning causes problems with children’s growth, behavior, and ability to learn. Protect yourself and your child by washing hands and toys often even when they don’t look dirty.

Triclosan
Triclosan is a pesticide found in many anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. Triclosan is a hormone-disruptor that is also found in toothpaste, cosmetics, yoga mats and more. It can encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria and water pollution. Make sure you check labels to avoid products containing the words triclosan and triclocarban.

Fire retardant chemicals
Fire retardant chemicals have also been linked to hormone disruption, cancer and harming the development of the brain. Dust is a primary route of exposure so you should dust and vacuum regularly. Products made of polyurethane foam, a highly-flammable material, have been required by the Bureau of Home Furnishings to be treated with toxic fire-retardant chemicals. Parents should search for foam-free alternatives to avoid these harmful fire-retardant chemicals.

For more information on the Duke University study, visit http://watoxics.org/publications/hidden-hazards-in-the-nursery.

Note: Sandy Clark is not a doctor and this release is not intended to give medical advice but rather display research and findings to educate parents. Her mission is to be a passionate breastfeeding advocate and leading manufacturer of safe baby products.

nursing pillowWritten by Sandy Clark, Inventor of San Diego Bebe Eco-Nursing Pillow

San Diego Bebe® was designed by San Diego native Sandy Clark, a passionate breastfeeding advocate and mother of twins. Clark was inspired at a San Diego beach one day where she witnessed a young mother unsuccessfully nursing her baby. As the mother struggled to keep a blanket across her shoulder while her baby wailed from heat and hunger, Clark vowed then and there to design a product that would help resolve the issue of privacy while nursing. San Diego Bebe® was born that day.

When Clark sent her nursing pillow to Duke to be tested and reviewed, Duke University Chemical Scientist Dr. Heather Stapleton, who is a mother herself, said, “The San Diego Bebe® Eco-Nursing Pillow is not only a very supportive pillow with amazing features for discreet nursing, but is also free of flame-retardant chemicals that have been shown to cause adverse health effects in animal studies. I applaud Double Blessings [Clark’s company] for taking steps to produce high quality products that meet the same flammability standards without using these chemicals.”

San Diego Bebe® Eco-Nursing Pillow is the healthiest and most innovative nursing pillow on the market. Made with virgin polyfiber Eco*Loft™, a non-toxic and hypo-allergenic foam-alternative, it’s void of harmful chemicals. It’s also recyclable and eco-friendly. San Diego Bebe® is available in two versions, for nursing one baby or twins. The entire line is baby-safe, and is covered with deluxe plush fabrics including organic cotton.

Click to view a Nursing Pillow Comparison Chart to learn more.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Little Toader? Send your topic idea to pr@littletoader.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Little Toader makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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