Home // Archive by category "Toddler Care"

Dental Care Tips for Halloween

oralbtoothfHalloween dental care tips from Dr. Margaret Mitchell, owner of Chicago’s Mitchell Dental Spa.

  • Examine: Examine your child’s candy before he or she digs in to see if it meets your approval.
  • Brushing: It is okay for your child to eat any candy that you approve of, but to help lessen the chance for tooth decay, have them brush as soon as possible after eating the candy. By brushing right after candy consumption, the impact of the candy on the teeth is minimal.
  • Avoid: Avoid sticky candy such as taffy, gummy bears, caramel, etc.  Sticky Candy adheres to teeth and leads to decay.
  • Preparation: Prior to Halloween, visit your dentist to have sealants put into the child’s teeth grooves. This protects tooth enamel against decay caused by excess sugar.

If brushing soon after eating is not possible, here are these other tips that also can help:

  • Together: Consume the candy with a meal. The increased saliva production while eating will help wash the sweet off the teeth.
  • Rinse: Rinse the mouth with water.
  • Gum: Chew a sugarless gum (especially those containing xylitol) after snacking on candy. The increased saliva from chewing will help wash the sugar off the teeth and xylitol gums help control the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
  • Quickly: Eat the candy quickly in one sitting to decrease the amount of time it is contact with the teeth. Avoid eating any candy slowly over an extended time or over multiple sittings. Recent studies have shown that length of time eating a sweet can be more harmful than the amount of sweet consumed. This means hard candies, breath mints, etc. (long residence time in the mouth) can actually be worse for your teeth than a chocolate candy bar (shorter residence time in the mouth).

Preschool + Nap = Good

naptime-and-toddlers-315x315An interesting article by Sharon Mazel. Click here.

Nanny Tips and Do You Tip a Nanny?

photo617The International Nanny Association offers some advice from their Nanny of the Year winner.

The INA recently named  Jo Barrow their Nanny of the Year.  A professional with 22 years of experience, Jo is an outstanding example of the nanny every family hopes to engage for the care of their children.  Some of Barrow’s tips include:

Nearly 11 million American children under the age of 5 are in outside care according to Child Care Aware in their 2012 report Families are entrusting their children to caregivers in record numbers when they go off to work each day.

How do parents ensure they are making the best possible choice when it comes to caregivers? Jo Barrow, the newly-named 2013 Nanny of the Year, has great advice and tips for any parents exploring child care needs.

How to Find a Great Caregiver

•        Start the search: by asking the experts – Personal referrals, when a great care giver is leaving her current position, may also be invaluable as they can lead to a wonderful relationship. Agencies, while expensive, can offer the best selection of qualified candidates. The INA is a great resource to tap.

•        What to ask in the interview? Scenario based questions, ‘What would you do if……a b c happened?”  What are your thoughts on discipline, what techniques do you prefer? What aspects of the job do you particularly enjoy/not enjoy?

•        Red flags? Little or no previous experience. No references or weak letters of recommendation. Can’t provide proof of legal status.

•        Check it out: Background checks are a must, even if you’re going with the nanny of a good friend who you’ve known for years.

How to Keep a Great Caregiver

•        Start with the right set-up:  Write a detailed job description.  Dedicate enough time to work with the new Nanny, side by side, to show her the ropes, your preferences and expectations.

•        The hand-off:   Some parents take a few days with the Nanny before leaving her alone with their kids; others may want to wait a week.  Barrow recommends spending 2 full days together.

•        Keep the lines of communication open.  A parent should schedule times for weekly check-in meetings to make sure your children are happy and well-cared for.

•        Make sure your caregiver knows how much you appreciate her/his efforts.

A pretty, intelligent and articulate Englishwoman, Barrow could easily stand in for Mary Poppins on Broadway, but she’s the first to tell you that she doesn’t have any magic up her sleeve. Rather, she depends on great training, her love of nurturing and her ability to establish a rapport with children and their parents.

Children come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some are smart and studious, others can be mischievous and fun-loving but they’re all different and pose different challenges,” says Barrow.  “As a nanny you need to understand and work with each individual taking into account his or her needs, capabilities and the overall family dynamic. It’s that ability that defines a really skilled caregiver.”

Advice on Moving with Kids

moving_with_kidsMoving is a hectic transition for anyone to make, but having young children makes it all the more difficult. Not only do you have to consider packing up all those toys, books, and clothes, you also have to consider which schools, sports, and dance programs to enroll your children in, many of which have deadlines for you to make your move!

If you’re on a time crunch to move before your kids start school, Unpakt, THE authoritative voice on moving and online tool to manage your move, has compiled a list of tips to help you and your children move with ease.

1.       Contact the new school prior to moving – Make sure all paperwork for your child, such as immunization forms, have been completed and provided to the school. Additionally, consider asking for a tour of the school with the child’s new teacher to help your child get acclimated.

2.       Change your address before you move – It will take some time for all of your mail to be sent to your new address. Making the change ahead of time will ensure you receive your mail after you move.

3.       Subscribe to/pick up the town paper – Local papers carry great information about recreational activities for children as well as family events in town. Pick out some fun things to do and sign up for to get your child excited about making this new move. This will also allow them to meet other children in the neighborhood.

4.       Book your move early – Hiring a moving company will make your move quicker and more efficient. For help, consider Unpakt, a comparison pricing site for consumers searching for a moving company, to help you make the transition. You can worry about the children and let Unpakt movers worry about the rest.

5.       Don’t pack important papers and documents into random boxes – Keep documents such as birth certificates, closing papers, credit card information, etc. on hand so you can easily access them at all times, particularly if any documents must be provided to your child’s school district for enrollment.

6.      Pack up your child’s favorite belongings in one box ­– Keep this box with you for your child to open as soon as you move in. This will help to create a familiar place for your child in the new home.

7.       Take your children to their favorite places in town – Before you move, make one last trip to your children’s favorite places, whether it be a restaurant, the park, or their favorite toy store.

8.       Find a do-it-yourself kid’s art studio – Take your child to paint a piece of ceramic or a blank canvas to hang in their new bedroom to create a sense of excitement for the move.

9.       Pick up some fun stickers and let the kids label their boxes – Involving your children in fun ways will help them associate moving as something fun. Additionally, when the boxes head to the new house, they will be able to get excited about finding the ones that belong to them.

10.   Unpack your child’s room first – Moving is exhausting for everyone, but organizing your child’s belongings first will help to keep them calm while you unpack the remainder of the house.



Uno, Due, Tre… Raising a Multilingual Baby

Luca7 Steps to Introduce Your Child to a New Language by Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of “Luca Lashes”

Immersing your children in another language and culture is beneficial to their social and cognitive development. But to many parents, the job of teaching a child a second language feels out-of-reach, not to mention costly.

We made the commitment to raise our son in a multicultural home when our son at the tender age of 1. Growing comfortable with another language is a vital skill that we didn’t want him to miss out on, so we learned how to nurture that skillset early on. Today, Lucas takes an Italian class once a week. At home, he speaks Italian with dad, who is fluent. During bath time or playtime, we play Italian music to keep his ear attuned to the language. We also have Italian children’s literature to read to Lucas.

But that raises an important question: If you aren’t multilingual, can you introduce a new language at home? The answer is yes! Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Start early…earlier than you think!

As with most behavior that you want your children to absorb most effectively, you need to start introducing a foreign language as soon as possible. Experts agree that true language development and vocabulary building occur between ages 2 and 3.

2. Create a comfortable learning environment.

It would be ideal if you could enroll your children in pre-school foreign language classes. These classes are typically music based and use games to introduce foreign words and concepts. If foreign language class isn’t an option for your little one, focus on what you can do at home. Be casual and depending on your comfort level, use TV or videos, as there are plenty of options to help nurture multilingualism. You can also find nursery rhymes and songs in other languages to help reinforce language skills.

3. Enlist the help of technology, bien sur!

Use as much technology as can help in introducing your child to foreign languages. There are multiple videos and music on Youtube that are free to watch. There are multiple apps that can be accessed on tablets and smartphones that are in foreign languages that also help introduce the sights and sounds of foreign languages.

4. Whenever possible, introduce new words.

Simple tricks like saying “Buon Giorno” instead of “Good Morning”, or “Bonne Nuit” instead of “Good Night” , can help children form mental bridges between words they already know and words they are trying to learn in new languages. Try and teach them words in both languages if you know them.

5. For parents who speak a second language, speak it often.

If you are a foreign language speaker yourself, you need to speak in front of your child as often as you can. This goes with starting your child early, as the more often a child hears foreign words, the faster they will make the language connections for better understanding.

6. Faced with a choice? Think bilingual!

Many parents have to use daycare, have a babysitter, or have a nanny at home. If you have the choice during the interview process, it is important to try and hire someone who can speak a foreign language, or to enroll your child in a daycare where they speak a foreign language. When you are buying children’s books, find some in the language you want your child to learn as well. If you are buying music, also pick up some foreign music.

7. Have reasonable expectations.

It is important to remember to not pressure your child. Set reasonable expectations for both yourself and for your children. This can be a fun activity for children and parents to share, and should be nurtured as such. By setting achievable measuring points, you will enhance the learning process and help your children internalize the language lessons.

Learning and being introduced to new languages and cultures is a great way to cultivate open-mindedness in our children. A small effort from parents can go a long way in helping this process for our children.

Nicole Fonovich (with husband Damir) is the co-creator of “Luca Lashes,” an eBook and app series that turns “fear of firsts” into fun. The series is aimed at kids ages 0–4 and is available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and soon, Chinese. The first app, Luca Lashes: The Brown Eyed Boy with the Magic Eyelashes, is free on iTunes.

Holiday Safety Advice

CPCS_Logo_-2010bCalifornia Poison Control System (www.calpoison.org) urges everyone to practice “12 Days for Safety” on each day leading up to December 25th.

12/14 – Make sure your home is “poison proof” if small children are visiting.  Secure all medicines, cleaning products and personal care products before your guests arrive.  Poisonings can occur in the home of grandparents who may not remember how quickly children can move or how inventive they can be in exploring new spaces.

12/15 – Take steps to prevent food poisoning.  Prior to food preparation, clean all counters and cutting boards with hot water & soap, and wash your hands.  After meals, refrigerate food promptly.

12/16 – If you use alcohol or tobacco, make sure these products are out of reach of toddlers.

12/17 – Keep your Christmas tree fresh with water early on, and keep all sources of flame well away from the tree.  Put fresh batteries in all your smoke detectors.

12/18 – Carbon monoxide can be a holiday killer.  Never heat a home with a gas stovetop, gas oven or use charcoal indoors.  Make sure your chimney flue is fully open before enjoying a holiday evening in front of the fireplace. Keep outdoor generators away from windows. Keep flammables away from floor furnaces.

12/19 – Holiday gifts can have flat, coin-shaped batteries. If swallowed, these can cause serious injury.  Keep all batteries away from babies, children and pets!

12/20 – Don’t let babies or pets chew on foil wrapping paper. It may contain lead. Do not throw this paper into the fireplace either.

12/21 – Holiday plants, including mistletoe and holly berries, may cause some mild stomach upset if swallowed.

12/22 – Store and serve food only in containers meant for food, and never put non-food items in food containers.

12/23 – Lead can still be found in new and used children’s products, like toys, backpacks, lunchboxes and jewelry. Find out about product recalls & tested products at www.healthystuff.org.

12/24 – If using snow spray or flocking the tree indoors, be sure to open windows while applying it. Solvents in the spray cans may cause nausea, lightheadedness and headache.

Happy Child Tips

These 14 tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics were suppose to be for Valentine’s Day, so you can either view them as late or early.

  1.  Use plenty of positive words with your child. Try to avoid using sarcasm. Children often don’t understand and if they do, it creates a negative interaction.
  2.  Respond promptly and lovingly to your child’s physical and emotional needs and banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary. Be available to listen to your child when he/she want to talk with you even if it’s an inconvenient time.
  3. Make an extra effort to set a good example at home and in public. Use words like “I’m sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.”
  4.  When your child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, give him a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection he favors and then talk with him about it when he’s feeling better.
  5. Use non-violent forms of discipline. Parents should institute both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help prevent trouble during the teenage years. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages more rule violations.
  6. Make plans to spend time alone with your young child or teen doing something she enjoys. Send a Valentine’s Day card to your older child or teen. Make Valentine’s Day cards together with your preschool or younger school age child.
  7. Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member’s name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.
  8. Owning a pet can make children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by stimulating physical activity, enhancing their overall attitude, and offering constant companionship.
  9. One of the best ways to familiarize your child with good food choices is to encourage him to cook with you. Let him get involved in the entire process, from planning the menus to shopping for ingredients to the actual food preparation and its serving. It is wonderful when families eat together as much as possible. Good food, good conversations.
  10. As your child grows up, she’ll spend most of her time developing and refining a variety of skills and abilities in all areas of her life. You should help her as much as possible by encouraging her and providing the equipment and instruction she needs. Start reading to your child beginning at six months. Avoid TV in the first two years, monitor and watch TV with your older children and use TV time as conversation time with your children. Limit computer and video games.
  11. Your child’s health depends significantly on the care and guidance you offer during his early years. By taking your child to the doctor regularly for preventive health care visits, keeping him safe from accidents, providing a nutritious diet, and encouraging exercise throughout childhood, you help protect and strengthen his body.
  12. Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community.
  13. One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and encouragement to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him and praising his accomplishments are all part of this process.
  14. Don’t forget to say, “I love you” to children of all ages!


Parents Making Mistakes When Using Car Seats

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, and Safe Kids President and CEO Kate Carr, kicked off child passenger safety week with sobering news about car seat use. According to a new NHTSA survey, the following are the five most significant and commonly observed mistakes made by parents and caregivers when using and installing car seats and booster seats:

1. Wrong harness slot used – The harness straps used to hold the child in the car seat were positioned either too low or too high;
2. Harness chest clip positioned over the abdomen rather than the chest or not used at all;
3. Loose car seat installation – The restraint system moved more than two inches side-to-side or front to back; anything more than one inch is too much.
4. Loose harness – More than two inches of total slack between the child and the harness strap; there should be no slack.
5. Seat belt placement was wrong – Lap belt resting over the stomach and/or shoulder belt on the child’s neck or face.

The survey also revealed that 20 percent of all drivers of child passengers did not read any instructions on how to properly install their car seats, yet 90 percent felt ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ that their car seats and booster seats were installed correctly.

Help us get the word out. Safe Kids and NHTSA are encouraging everyone to take 15 minutes to conduct an at-home checkup using the following Safe Kids downloadable checklist:

• Right Seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.
• Right Place. Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they are 13. Doing this, along with correctly using the appropriate child restraints, greatly reduces the risk of injury.
• Right Direction. You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors.
• Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
• Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
Parents are encouraged to read the vehicle and car seat instruction manuals in addition to following the checklist.

Child Passenger Safety Week began September 16 and culminates September 22 with National Seat Check Saturday. Throughout the week, Safe Kids will host hundreds of child seat inspections across the country as part of its Buckle Up Program, a national initiative established 15 years ago to keep children and families safe in and around cars. Car seat inspections offer drivers the chance to receive assistance and guidance from certified car seat technicians regarding proper installation of their child safety and booster seats.

Taking your tot to the salon? 5 tips to preempt a first haircut meltdown

Taking your tot to the salon? 5 tips to preempt a first haircut meltdown by Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of the “Luca Lashes” app / eBook series

Will your toddler get hysterical at the hair salon? There are plenty of reasons kids fear the haircuts: sharp scissors, the buzzing of the clipper, the huge cape, and that big metal chair, for starters. So many new sights and sounds at once, and baby’s first haircut can quickly turn south.
Getting a haircut shouldn’t be a scary “first”—it should be fun! These five pointers will help you avoid a salon meltdown, so your little one can enjoy him/herself —and the new “do” too!

1. Find a salon that caters to children.
Hair salons can be intimidating places for children. Thankfully, the hairstyle industry has grown with the times and helped parents by designing kid-friendly, family salons. Children can sit in fun seats with special designs, even in racecar-style chairs. Waiting rooms at family salons usually have children’s toys and books or even a children’s movie playing. Finding a family salon, rather than relying on your own personal hairstylist, will make your life easier when it comes time for the first cut.

2. Be prepared.
Going to a salon a day early, and just walking around with your child can be a great experience to help prepare for the first haircut. This way, your child gets a chance to see what the salon looks like, what tools are being used, and what the person who will cut their hair looks and acts like. Going along ahead of time with family friends or relatives on their positive hair cut experience can also really help! There is nothing like seeing other kids they look up to having fun!

3. There’s an app for that!
Take an extra step in prepping for the first cut—enlist the help of an app, like Luca Lashes and his First Haircut. In this app/eBook, kids join Luca and his mom as they learn about the hair salon, meet the stylist, and see all the tools used in getting a haircut. Let your child interact with each illustration to become familiar with the sights and sounds they soon will see!

4. Time it right.
All parents can sense their child is crabby. Whether anxious, overtired, or hungry, there are specific times of the day that can be the best times to have a new experience. Haircuts are events that can be planned with appointments; just be careful to plan the times appropriately so your child is, hopefully, on their best behavior.

5. Make new memories.
First haircuts are a major life event for both parents and children. Make sure to have a digital camera or smartphone ready to snap “before” and “after” pictures, so you can show your child how awesome the new haircut looks right away. Kids love seeing themselves on camera! Remember to keep that first lock of hair for your “memories” book.

As with all of your child’s “firsts,” ask them how they feel about the new experience both before and after. These moments are great times to soothe your child and share the feelings and excitement that all childhood discoveries bring.

Remember to have as much fun as you can and revel in these moments together, before you know it, they grow up.

Nicole & Damir Fonovich are co-creators of “Luca Lashes,” an eBook and app series that turns “fear of firsts” into fun. The series is aimed at kids ages 0–4 and is available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and soon, Chinese. The first app, Luca Lashes: The Brown Eyed Boy with the Magic Eyelashes, is free on iTunes, and the other apps can be downloaded for $1.99 at all major marketplaces and at www.LucaLashes.com. Nicole and Damir both have backgrounds in teaching, writing and publishing. Together, they have 17 years of experience in the education field, in both teaching and administration. They have a 3-year-old son and live Chicago

Car Seat Info

Click here for important safety information about cars and babies.