A Little Genius Game to Enhance Color Learning

There’s no better way to learn something than through play, as the great Comenius said in the 17th century… There are numerous games and didactic toys out there, especially now when home schooling is becoming mainstream and future genius production seems to be the way a woman can make a mark in this world (you ARE taking these words with a few pinches of salt, aren’t ya? ūüôā ).

I have discovered¬†a neat little company out of Poland while looking through children’s books at¬†Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.¬†GRANNA company¬†has very nice didactic table games for children and families, most can be adjusted for different ages. The boxes alone are really attention grabbing, but the Rainbow game immediately caught my eye, perhaps because I am secretly a gypsy caught in white chick’s body – at least when it comes to clothes and color perception.

The game is really easy and you can play it with very young children Рthe play board is sturdy and the little play pieces with colorful pictures are not small enough that a 2-year old could swallow them. The objective of the game is to place photos of different objects on the play board according to their color. There is also a die with colored sides, but you can leave it for older children to play a different version of the game. 

Here are the sweet little tokens with beautiful photographs:

Aditya at 2 years made sense of the game truly fast and was able to play with the pieces all by himself, just being observed. In reality this means that children will be attracted to the game more often, because there will be no frustration.

We have also been using the reverse side of the board for different activities – find the objects from our tokens, find all purple (yellow/ green…) objects, name this thing etc. The game has proven to be a hit for both, color learning and¬†expanding vocabulary.

If you’re crafty, you can surely make a similar game at home yourself (send me links if you do! I bet your versions will be creative and amazing!), but if you want it pronto, Amazon (as always) is here to the rescue:

http://amzn.to/2dXlTfQ

This post may contain affiliate links (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for your support by reading and commentingūüôā

I Love This! No, actually I hate it! The Difficult Life of a Toddler

Let me tell you about a person in my life. Somebody I have to deal with every single day. This somebody is not an easy person. In fact, this someone drives me crazy every now and then. One day this person loves some food and the next day we can’t serve it, although that’s what we literally lived off for a week. There are days when the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner is OK, and then there are days when searching for the good-enough food is fruitless (pun intended)…

There are days, when it seems like this person’s drawers are full of cool clothes; then this closet that’s bursting on the hinges¬†has nothing to offer¬†and no¬†shoes are not good enough,¬†all outer layers are horrible and we just need to go shopping.

Sometimes going to the park seems like the best idea ever, but the next day it’s too cold/hot/noisy/quiet… the complains don’t stop¬†once they start!

Sometimes any book will do. All the pages are so colourful! So beautiful! Sometimes a library won’t have a single sheet that could satisfy the moodiness…

Shall I go on? You get the idea. By now you think you know who I’m talking about. I bet I know who you’re picturing right now. You think I am describing my toddler, right? Right? Well, I have just described a full grown adult. This is me. Totally me.

Not an easy person. Opinionated, yet lost at times. Sometimes I just know what’s planned for the day ahead and then sometimes I just can’t manage what was supposed to be done quick… Sometimes I¬†crave a food that¬†I normally dislike. There are¬†moments when a certain dress is fabulous and then¬†I want to toss it¬†in the bin. We all have moods, tastes and thoughts that change with outer (and inner, let’s not forget inner ūüėČ ) influences.

Now imagine the toddler you thought I was talking about. He has good days and not so good days. But he can’t always decide what he would do, eat, wear, because he doesn’t have the experience and the abilities… and that’s just the beginning. His problem is that he can’t fully express himself yet. Even if he could say a few words, even if he could sign, he wouldn’t be able to tell¬†me exactly how and WHY he feels in a certain way. Again, even we adults aren’t always able to do that – why else there would be help lines, shrinks and group therapies? And BFFs? And …. well, even Sigmund Freud was a big boy when he was trying to get into our heads.

It’s a difficult world out there. It’s a VERY difficult world inside too. Every time I am about to get mad, because this little man is acting up, not eating, not “cooperating”, I have to remember how much effort it sometimes takes me to be a big girl. How much effort it sometimes takes to control myself and reason with my inner alter egos.

I have to remind myself of something I read once: that this beautiful person, that my toddler is, is not GIVING me a hard time, he is HAVING a hard time. And I am here to help him, guide him and teach him how to be a big boy. And by doing that I am helping myself, guiding myself and teaching myself how to be an adult.

Come here, Aditya! Mommy needs a hug!

Lice Removing Treatment That Will Nourish Your Scalp and Hair

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After the flu season there’s the lice season… it’s getting warmer and all sorts of animals are waking up from hibernation and multiplying. And if you or your child ever has had lice, you know that these little things are banging good at¬†it (no pun intended ūüôā ). A few of my friends whose children go to school or kindergarten have already posted some teary notes about it.

My little one hasn’t caught them yet, but seeing how little kids, once they learn to walk and run, really rub the elbows (and heads) at the park and the sand pit, I wouldn’t be surprised that one day instead of the old ladies oohing and aahing over Aditya’s hair, it would be an alpha louse: “Oh, look at all that hair! What a jungle gym! That would be a great place to raise a family!”

So before a lousy louse catches a ride, here is a recipe for a preventative spray:

  • 10 drops Tea Tree essential oil (a.k.a. Melaleuca Alternifolia)
  • 10 drops Lavender essential oil¬†
  • 8 oz spray bottle, filled up with filtered water.

Shake before application. Apply a few sprays after washing. Lice are deterred by the smell, your kids will on the other hand love it.

But we don’t live in an ideal world, so let’s not pretend that any “whatever”-proof spray is 100% effective… sigh… I know, the lice made it! Well, don’t hang your head down¬†yet (oops, another pun???) and make this LICE REMOVING TREATMENT!!! (Yes, I’m screaming it)

Combine:

  • 1 table spoon of jojoba or olive oil
  • 5 drops Thyme essential oil
  • 5 drops Rosemary essential oil¬†
  • 5 drops Lavender essential oil¬†

Massage the mixture into the hair and scalp before bedtime (nap might be too short for this to work completely, but do it if you must at first sighting of lice). Wrap head in towel and leave it on overnight or as long as possible during the day. Repeat until you are sure there is no more sign on the little freeloaders.

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Lice are killed by the essential oils and the carrier oil will suffocate the eggs, but all ingredients are excellent as a scalp nourishing mask. Keep brushing lice out daily and you will get rid of them naturally knowing your child’s skin will not suffer (or your own, lice are actually quite non-judgmental when it comes to age).

And where to get essential oils? I prefer and recommend Young Living Essential Oils, especially around children, because of their wonderful guarantees. You can get the oils here.

Oh and one more thing. Don’t reuse that towel…. (and treat your bedding with some heat in your dryer).

Happy lice hunting!

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How To Clean House with A Toddler (And Have Fun Doing It)

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I have an album on Facebook called “Let me help you, mommy!” and, well you guessed it, it’s not really about my toddler helping me ;). Every now and then the mess he manages to create is so epic, I have to take a picture, so I can shame him at his 18th birthday party! Just kidding. Or not. ūüėČ

He gets to make mess and I get to clean up. But I don’t want this to be like that forever. You know, one day he will have a dorm room and I don’t want him to be that messy, that even his roommates would call and beg me to come and¬†pick up after him! I thought I should start teaching him how to arrange his toys till he still thinks it’s all part of the fun. So I make him a part of the cleaning process. I don’t¬†leave clean up or putting toys and books away for the time he’s asleep. I clean up with him. He’s watching and lately he started helping me. He hands me things, puts books in the bookcase, stuffs kitchen towels back in the drawer. No, he can’t fold towels and the¬†books are not arranged very well, but I have a feeling that he’s doing a much better job than even some teenagers.

We turned the tidying into a game, that develops mathematical thinking and expands vocabulary!

While we are clearing up mess, we pick up things and talk about them (ok ok, I do the talking). We count toys and books that are being put away, another time we pick them by size – I take the big ones, he takes the small ones. Another time, we arrange toys by colour. Or by shape (is it just our house, or does your child have more than 4 balls too?). There are limitless variations to the game and if you make it part of play early enough, there is¬†a chance your child will connect cleaning with play. Priceless, if you ask me! Maybe, just maybe, in some parallel crazy universe, when playing this game, you will wish there were more things to mess up, so you can play longer… no… I didn’t think so either. Just an attempt at a joke.

Happy cleaning!

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Raising a Multilingual Baby

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I’m sure this happens to all mothers (and fathers) on a regular basis (since we were pregnant, as far as I can recall): a perfect stranger tells you how to raise your child…

I often hear people’s opinion on which language I shall speak to my own child! “Don’t you think we should understand what you’re telling your child?” Well, sure. In case you are included in our conversation. Otherwise, I am speaking to my baby. Stop listening. Am I too harsh? I think somebody telling me how to teach my baby to speak is harsh!

I would like my baby to understand his own family – I am Czech and most of my family doesn’t speak or even understand English. My husband is Indian and most of the elders in his family speak Hindi. And me and him communicate mostly in English (if you don’t count that hybrid language of ours as a separate newly invented tongue:). So if we want our child to speak to all his relatives, he will have to learn our native languages. And English will come naturally, it is all around him including our home. Are you skeptical, just like that lady know-it-all in grocery store? How did you learn your language? By listening and looking around! Now it makes sense, doesn’t it?

I speak to Aditya exclusively in Czech, even in public. I don’t want to make exceptions, because then they become a habit. If somebody speaks to the baby or me in English, then of course, I reply in English. The rest is between my baby and me. My husband had to be reminded at the beginning, that he should speak to him in Hindi – he felt like I should understand everything he says. Now he gets it and actually enjoys speaking to Aditya in his native language. And I am learning Hindi like never before! See, two pupils instead of one;)

I think it is important that if a family lives in a foreign country, parents speak to their children in their native language. Around myself I see stories of regret:

One of my friend’s parents came to America from Cambodia and wished for their two daughters to speak good English, fluently and without an accent like themselves. Their daughters have been born here and only learnt English. When they were teenagers, the parents wished they spoke Cambodian at least a little, so they signed them up for classes – they still don’t speak almost any Cambodian. Every Sunday these two daughters join their parents for a lunch. They don’t¬†talk very much – the daughters don’t understand everything their own parents say and the parents’ English isn’t good enough that they would understand everything their daughters talk about…

And another story: My grandmother’s parents worked for a few years in Canada where they learnt English. When they had an argument, they fought in English, so their daughter (grandma) wouldn’t understand. Until today she’s sorry they didn’t teach her English. She feels like her opportunities in life could have been different.

And then I see stories of success:

A Slovak¬†friend living in India has two kids. They both speak English, Hindi and Slovak without problems. I saw their younger one when she was learning to speak. She had a cup of tea and told her mother in Slovak “hot, hot”, but her mother didn’t hear her at that moment, so she turned to her father and repeated in Hindi “hot”. Even at that age she already knew which language to use while communicating with her parents! (This is to those who say, that my child will be ‘confused’.)

I grew up in Czechoslovakia, which is now separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.¬†Each of the¬†countries, even in union, used a different language (Czech and Slovak). Growing up, we spoke both languages. They were all around, TV was bilingual. We never considered ourselves bilingual, now I know we were, because kids who grew up in Czech Republic after the separation, don’t understand Slovak well anymore. It was easy and natural that we acquired both languages.

Babies are little geniuses when it comes to speaking. If you start early, they soak up all you offer!

There are, however two different approaches to raising bilingual/ multilingual children. You either are or are not a native speaker of the second language you want to teach your child. You can teach your child a language that is not your native, your child can actually learn a language that you don’t even speak. It’s all about the approach, but I have to stress here, if you are planning to raise your child bilingual, you will be more successful with a plan.

There are several myths about bilingualism, let’s have a look at some.

A child will become “confused” and mix languages if he learns more than one at a time.
>> Mixing is normal, just like kids like to mix games, stories and food, they will be mixing languages if they know more than one. This can actually add to their vocabulary later in life and it will definitely amplify their fantasy!

Bilingualism leads to language delay.
>> This¬†was one I was told most about, but I never really worried. It seems like kids need to figure things out before they try them and sometimes they take longer¬†(some kids learn to walk by trying and falling, some kids take more time and then all of a sudden start cruising along furniture; same applies to learning other things including language). Maybe your child won’t say much at¬†first and then just spit out a whole sentence, who knows. And he doesn’t even have to be bilingual. Anyway, no scientific research actually confirms that bilingualism leads to language delay.

You have to be fluent in languages you’re trying to teach your children.
>> Even monolingual parents can raise their child bilingual. You can hire a foreign nanny, enroll them in a language program or learn a new language along with them. The key is consistency and commitment (consistency is the main reason I speak to my child Czech in nearly ANY situation).

Children just absorb language passively.
>> This is a dangerous myth, if you are really trying to teach your child a different language. To learn a language fluently, brain needs a stimulating environment, so just playing French radio will not “teach” your child French. How many times have you encountered an expat living in a foreign country for years and still barely understanding the native language? A simple immersion doesn’t mean that somebody will learn a language. Participation in the language is stimulating and only then appropriate synapses in brain can be formed.

If a child is not very intelligent, he cannot speak more languages.
>> A baby’s brain is created to learn ANY language in the world and learn multiple languages if you start early and right.

If a child doesn’t speak English by kindergarten, she or he will have difficulty at school and will have problems to read.
>> Children take much less effort to learn new things, including languages, than adults. While it is best teaching language skills before the age of 3, children are capable to adapt and learn languages well beyond 5 years of age. At that time it might be more dangerous letting your child concentrate on one language only (the official school language) and not supporting vocabulary development of the other languages your child was speaking and hearing until then.

It sounds like it¬†is no easy feat to teach your child multiple languages, but don’t be hard on yourself. Think of ¬†a plan and then just flow with it. Remember, you need to work smarter, not harder – it takes a village. Find a foreign language play group, hire a foreign nanny or enroll into a childcare facility that has foreign language programs or has foreign language speaking teachers.

Make it a point to get together with your foreign friends more often and let them talk to your child in their language. Let their children play with your child, they will be learning without even knowing it. Employ your language-talented family members for babysitting or find some smart programs that help children acquire richer vocabulary.

One such program, that we’re using at home, is Little Reader – your child can learn vocabulary in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Thai or Chinese (traditional or simplified), other language versions will be available with time. Although this program is made to teach children read, smaller kids will still benefit by learning new vocabulary (and learning a new language if you opt for non-English version).

What do you think? Are you going to try speaking another language at home or send your child to a language class? Give it a go, you can’t turn back time!

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Is My Baby Right-handed or Left-handed? Is Laterality Strictly Hand-related?

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I remember the joy when my son clutched a toy for the very first time. My baby can hold a toy! “Oh wait”, said the voice of anxiety in the mommy head. “Is he right-handed or left handed?” “Come on, it’s too early to tell”, said another voice (I’d like to believe it was the voice of wisdom. Yep, it’s still somewhere there in the mommy brain.)
Of course it was waaaay too early to tell, but as a parent, isn’t it one of the things you’re asking too? My son is now 14 months old. He can hold things in both hands, he can pass things from one hand to another. Yet it’s still too early to tell. And is it that important? Are you going to love your child less if he’s left-handed? Or if you’re left-handed, are you going to like a righty less? Or are you secretly hoping, he or she will be left-handed – a hidden genius and rugged artist with the wildest imagination? Sometimes we just wave the hand and say ‘We parents worry too much.’
Not until the age of 3-4 (some sources say 2-3, as always, babies are individualities) can we talk about absolute laterality. Once babies start grabbing things, they may prefer one hand over the other. But before the age of 1 they actually should be using both hands and experimenting with both parts of their body equally. If they have very strict preference at this age, it could be because the parents hand them objects into one hand only; then it’s good to switch the hands here and there. If this is not the case, it’s good to check (preferably with assistance of a pediatrician) for a possible muscle weakness or underdevelopment.
When talking about laterality, most people think about hands first. But laterality refers to a preference for a whole body side. Humans’ ear and eye laterality should be ideally identical with hand laterality. If it’s not, it could lead to learning problems in the future – it may be crucial in the way a child processes information. So as we, parents, anxiously watch for the “handedness”, we should watch for possible signs where a child is using one eye or ear more when forced to choose.
Breastfed babies are in a slight advantage when it comes to eye and ear stimulation – they get usually fed from both breasts, so primary sound and vision stimulation changes with each breast. Bottle-fed babies tend to be held in the same position when being fed. If you have a bottle-fed baby, you might try to stimulate him in different positions.
The same applies if your diaper changing station is by the wall with a parent changing always from one side. You might consider either changing the side with each diaper change or, which is even better for you and the baby, move the table so the baby’s feet are towards your body and you look at your baby from above. This is by the way the most preferred diaper changing position in Motessori-style upbringing.

How to support muscle development in both hands? Children as young as 10 months can be handed crayons and showed, how to use them on paper. Don’t expect any miracles, your baby will need a few sessions to figure out things (and you’ll need a bit of patience trying to stop her eating the crayons:) ), but you can start with drawing some simple shapes, letting them scribble over them and filling them with different colours. Describe what you’re doing and you have just developed an educational game! Example:
Look, I’m drawing a blue square! Will you help me colour it? Now we’re making a red circle.
You can even make it a pre-diner game when one partner is preparing the meal and the rest of the family is waiting at the table (and you have a brand new family ritual!). While ambidexterity (equal skills with both hands) is very rare, children are natural learners and using both hands for easier tasks is a game for them, so even older children can take part and try drawing the same easy shape with each hand taking turns.

I like these triangular crayons ¬†for the first experiments – they don’t roll away, are non-toxic AND washable. Washable is important. Mark my words…

Just remember – we all are unique and possess individual nervous systems – you cannot change your baby’s laterality and you SHOULDN’T try.

 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for your support by reading and commenting ūüôā

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How To Save Money With a Baby ‚Äď Part 2

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In my last post I was sharing some tips that would save you money if you are trying to keep your costs down after having a baby (or just trying to be a good citizen of the Earth).

Many of us can’t resist a good deal, especially for things that we somehow determined our baby “will need”. If we must, let’s build a strategy! In the light of upcoming Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and winter Holiday sales, here is my way to keep things real:

  • Make a list of things you need. It will keep you in line:)
  • Once you have your list – rework it! Put the ‘needs’ on top and put the ‘wants’ at the bottom. Re-reading your draft will surely reveal some doubles and some non-essential items.
  • Visit shops that carry your items and see them in person (well before the sale and the stampede starts!). Some things look “bigger and better” in a catalogue or on-line. Some items will make you wonder, why they’re on your list at all once you see and touch them.
  • Write down prices and compare them in different stores and on-line.
  • Shop on-line if possible – this is about those big stores where people behave like herds of headless beasts on sale days. Battle for the Middle Earth belongs on your TV screen!
  • If you choose to hit the stores, have a bottle of water and a snack in your bag. I’m serious. It would be worse than a trip to IKEA ūüôā
  • Spend your time wisely – don’t waste 3 hours running to 5 different stores to find a $5 toy for $4.50. Your time is also money! Big ticket items are worth more time invested (think a stroller or a car seat).
  • Once you buy, keep the receipts. You will be able to return your purchase if for any reason you decide it’s not wanted anymore – if you find the same item somewhere else for a considerably better price, the size of the clothes you bought is not correct, you decide you have enough stuff already (well done!).
    Some shops have stricter return policies for items on sale or in clearance, so make sure that you are aware of it.
  • Know your budget. Do you really want to run up your credit card debt because of a “great deal”?

Happy hunting!

 

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How To Save Money With a Baby – Part 1

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Having a baby in your¬†world is life-changing. For some of us, it’s the most important event of¬†our¬†lives, it’s the very existence¬†we have and are… and logically there should be nothing we would spare to make our baby/ babies thrive and make happy. We would bring the sun and moon for them!

But is it always good to give everything? If money is the question – shouldn’t we save some for later as well? If money is not an issue – is it correct to have and give everything the eye sees and the mind desires?

Everyone should have ways to economize, it’s good for our wallets and it’s good for the Earth we hope to give to our children (please no Whitney Houston song here, if it gets stuck in your head, I cannot be held responsible… enough that after typing this, it’s already whizzing through¬†MY head). There are many ways to save money when you have a baby, some are surprisingly easy and simple! The following list is by no means complete and I will return to some points later again,¬† otherwise this post would go forever, saving you no time;)

1) Buy less

This seems like DUH!, but tell me honestly, aren’t you sometimes really, really tempted to buy that cute dress or that toy on sale even though we have a similar one already?
There are many things we are led to believe we will seriously¬†need by toy makers and big baby stores. Sometimes you just need one of each (hey, that’s not the same as one of everything ;).
Here you have to think about your own setting and situations you will likely find yourself with a baby in. For example if you travel a lot, you might consider buying a travel basinet, but don’t buy a travel bed. They are bulky even when folded and who wants to pay extra luggage fees? You could use a folding bed in your parents’ house, if you plan to visit a lot – it will be out of the way when you’re not there.
Another example are books. I fully support little readers and personally think that teaching your child to love books is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, BUT… does your kid need 15 different lift-the-flap books? Or 5 bathtub books? Or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” in 3 sizes board book, 2 paper AND a bathtub version? See where I’m going?¬†Some books will be useful only for a short¬†time (i.e. black & white infant books), why don’t you spend your money on children’s classics you will read before bedtime? And make a good use of that library card!
An easy way to save on baby clothes: don’t create a little fashionista! Don’t pretend like your 8 months old won’t wear anything yellow or grey, your child will wear what you put them in… (hello, celebrity moms!). Your child doesn’t need a new dress every Sunday either.

2) Be old-fashioned

Every generation of children has more and more toys, books and¬†hi-tech gadgets. Sometimes it’s worth asking your parents or grandparents what they owned and how they played. Or you can just walk down the memory lane and remind yourself that you were happy with much less as well!
Buy things that are lasting and will become a heirloom, get multitasking toys and learn activities that encourage open-ended play. Teach your children how not to be bored. And get out often!

3) Buy on sale

There are days on American calendar that are supposed to celebrate important events, but lately became an epitome of shopping sprees. While I don’t support shopping till you drop in lieu of giving an appropriate respect (i.e. recent Veterans Day), but at the same time I believe that if you can buy something 50% off after New Year, why would you buy it full price.
There are lots of websites that offer discounted baby and children stuff all year round: zulily.com, babysteals.com, kidsteals.com, babyhalfoff.com just to name a few.

4) Use memberships and monthly delivery services

Many websites with baby products have member-only services to (lure you in) and to save money. It’s worth discovering sites like Amazon.com (their Amazon Mom program offers 20% diaper subscription and free 2-day shipping, plus other perks like 15% off baby registry items), Diapers.com (subscribe &¬†save programs and frequent sales), Honest.com (the Bundles, like Diapers & Wipes Bundle, save you a lot every month plus the products are absolutely safe and Earth-friendly).

5) Breastfeed

Our whole species survived because mothers did what was natural – breastfeeding. I will never blame a mother who didn’t breastfeed because of a medical issue, but that’s for a different post. Here I am writing about saving money and boy, breastfeeding is actually the most natural way to save while doing the most natural thing for your baby! Have you ever looked at baby food prices? Yes, your baby will become a toddler in a few months and before you know it he or she will be eaten by an omnivorous beast pretending to be that same baby and set on to break your bank in the grocery department. But before all that, you can save a few hundred by not using formula.

6) Reuse and recycle

Some ways to reuse are: using cloth diapers or going completely diaper-free (aka Elimination Communication), using washable breast pads and cloth wipes.
Scour garage sales, bookmark Craiglist on your computer, ask friends with bigger kids if they’re downsizing. Thrift stores have sometimes amazing things and once you’re done with them, you can donate or resell them again. Keep the cycle going. Halloween was a great example in the days just passed by – parents spend high sums for readymade costumes while one trip to a thrift shop could have yielded similar results (no offense, but some ready-made costumes looked like they came out of trash bin already…).
Make your own toys and activities. Make them with kids! Pinterest is an amazing resource; you had no idea what all you can make out of cardboard boxes, fabric scraps¬†or empty water bottles (well, buying bottled water won’t exactly save you money either, get a water filter;). Have you heard of the saying that if you want your child to play, give them the box their toy came in?

7) Support local and handmade

Handmade doesn’t always come cheap, but with a few key items you are getting furniture/ toys/ decor that will last longer then flimsy cheaply made pieces. You’re exchanging quantity for quality and you might be able to resell your pieces well. Or keep reusing with more children. Some one-of-a-kind items can be also of collectors’ interest.
Create a relationship with a local farmer – we keep going to the same stand at a farmers market and the lad selling there already knows us. After exchanging family stories from the past week, we hand him $15 and a bag and he fills it with whatever is in season. We used to pay at least twice that much at the beginning… Making the “I know a guy” work for you!

8) Get one – give one

Babies grow and develop so fast, it’s inevitable that your closet will be soon full, storage boxes overflowing and cleaning after playtime will take longer. You need to clear some space! Get one – give one is just what it says, for every new thing get rid of an old one. Donate or sell old clothes and toys (or keep them nicely organized and stored for your next child). Get rid of broken toys, destroyed clothing and items your child is not using. Donate to a family in need.

9) Take a clue from other countries

In many countries people live with much less. Yet their children are happy, they still become scientists and lawyers and teachers and they find love and have families. Material stuff doesn’t make them happier or more content. Some of the local traditions and habits actually do. Bed sharing, room sharing and eating from one plate are to name just a few.

10) Give what’s always for free

Your baby needs you, your time, your love and affection, your loving touch, your voice, your guidance. All these are already free!

 

Some of the categories definitely blend together and have some points in common. They all could be a version of “Buy Less”! And while trying to live with less, make sure that your family and good friends are on the same boat with you – who wants to fight over presents on a baby’s birthday?

What are your tips for saving some dough with baby?

 

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How To Choose Sunscreen for a Baby

Shopping for baby sunscreen can surely be very confusing. Here are what the labels say to lure you into buying a specific product:

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It’s surely a jungle!
Most of baby-targeted sunscreens have a warning “do not use for children under 6 months old” or “for children under 6 months old consult¬†a pediatrician”. We live in South California and NOT wearing a sunscreen is simply not an option, especially now in summer. I’m trying to be outside with the baby every day, so I wanted to understand WHY are sunscreens supposed to be that bad for babies. This is what FDA says:

‚ÄúBabies’ skin is less mature compared to adults, and infants have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults.‚Ä̬†(…) ‚ÄúBoth these factors mean that an infant’s exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens may be much greater, increasing the risk of side effects from the sunscreen.‚ÄĚ (source)

AHA! It’s the chemicals! Well, I have checked some baby products in our pharmacy isle and here are two labels just to illustrate a point:

IMG_4937 IMG_4938

These two baby products (that are for DAILY use) contain a handful of ingredients that are not safe for adults, let alone children (hormone disruptors being the most questionable ingredients). But there was no warning to consult a pediatrician before use! Hmmm….. While I appreciate the FDA’s concern over baby sunscreens, I know there are some, that are much healthier than the products that the hospitals send young mothers home with as freebies!

Your best bet:

Visit EWG’s Skindeep Database (EWG is a nonprofit¬†Environmental Working Group independently testing product safety) to check your product’s ingredients safety and find best options for yourself and your baby. There are lots of options and an organic sunscreen doesn’t always mean zinc-white skin or super thick formula. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Also check out the sunscreen DON’Ts here and COVER UP!¬†And yes, follow the safe-sun tips from FDA:)

 

  • Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible.
  • If you do use a small amount of sunscreen on your baby, don’t assume the child is well protected.
  • Make sure your child wears clothing that covers and protects sensitive skin. Use common sense; if you hold the fabric against your hand and it’s so sheer that you can see through it, it probably doesn’t offer enough protection.
  • Make sure your baby wears a hat that provides sufficient shade at all times.
  • Watch your baby carefully to make sure he or she doesn’t show warning signs of sunburn or dehydration. These include fussiness, redness and excessive crying.
  • Hydrate! Give your baby formula or breast milk if you’re out in the sun for more than a few minutes. Don’t forget to use a cooler to store the liquids.
  • Take note of how much your baby is urinating. If it’s less than usual, it may be a sign of dehydration, and that more fluids are needed until the flow is back to normal.
  • Avoid combination sunscreens containing insect repellants like DEET. Young children may lick their hands or put them in their mouths. According to the AAP, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old.
  • If you do notice your baby is becoming sunburned, get out of the sun right away and apply cold compresses to the affected areas.

Found In Translation: UK English Baby Glossary

When I moved to the USA many years ago from Ireland (which is not my home country, if you ask), I had the occasional run-in with the different words used on either side of the Atlantic (or, more often, SAME words with different meaning). Now as a new mum, I had to learn a completely new word book of baby vocabulary.

Here¬†for those of you who might travel to Europe – or just want to¬†have a good laugh –¬†today I present you with some basics of British baby-talk.

Let’s start by changing the baby, shall we? For that, of course, you will need some nappies. Dirty ones go into a nappy bin or, if you’re a bit more posh, into a nappy disposal system. Since we just¬†established the absence of “diapers”, there are no diaper bags. Your baby items will fit comfortably into a changing bag.

But before you put a new nappy on, you will want to clean your baby using a top and tail bowl and drying her afterwards with some cotton wool.

Are you going out? If you don’t want to use a carrier, you will need a pram. The term pram can be confusing.¬† Many people use the word to mean a pushchair or travel system, but it is also the name for a traditional, coach-style pram. Make sure your tyres are in good shape!

Are you staying in? Baby can be put to sleep in a cot (or if you’re visiting, you’ll probably have a carrycot or Moses basket). You might notice that more European parents are rather concerned that their baby might kick a blanket off and get cold than suffocate underneath it. That’s because the use¬†of cellular blankets is more popular than fleece blankets. Also, European parents don’t give their babies pacifiers, but pacify them with dummies.

If you’re bottle feeding, make sure you have some extra teats (however if you pronounce it ‘tits’, you may as well just stay with nipples:) and a bottle and teat brush.

Lastly, stock up on bibs and cloths to wipe the posset. Now this word is tricky. What is posset you want to know? Wikipedia will tell you that “A posset (also spelled poshote, poshotte) was a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century”. That’s not really helpful. And although somebody once said that it sounds like something the British would wear on their heads to horse races, it is rarely worn on heads (although as a new parent you possibly had it on yesterday:))). Americans call it un-euphemistically spit-up!

What other British words do you find confusing?