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Children’s Place


Kids Selling Lemonade For Kids Less Fortunate Through The Toy Foundation’s Stand Project

The Toy Industry Foundation has just started a new project “Make a Stand for Kids” that allows kids to set up stands where they can sell things like lemonade, punch, iced tea, brownies, or cookies to raise money to buy toys for underprivileged kids.

Kids running a lemonade stand for the “Make a Stand for Kids” project. Photo courtesy of Karen Quincy Loberg, Ventura County Star.

The proceeds from the stands will get donated through the Toy Industry Foundation’s How To Help website, which will then use the money to purchase toys for under privileged children.

The foundation is largely supported through toy companies who donate new toys, as well as by companies and individuals who make monetary donations. The foundation also grants funding to worthy children’s charities.

Through the foundation’s partnerships, it collaborates with groups that serve those in need such as military families, as well as children that are at-risk, in foster care, or homeless worldwide.

This new project is a great opportunity for kids to both get some early firsthand experience in learning how to run a small business, as well as learning about the importance for sharing and giving to those less fortunate.

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Play Gyms Play A Crucial Role In Developing Babies Minds, Muscles, and Fine Motor Skills

Finn + Emma Baby Gyms (boy version). Montage courtesy of growingyourbaby.com.

Baby gyms are definitely very valuable tools in helping babies get a head start in their development – both mentally and physically – and there is no small selection from which to choose.

There are a lot of different styles of baby gyms, but they all have some basic functions, which include:

  • Stimulating the senses through combinations of colors, music, and squeaking noises.
  • Developing hand-eye coordination while grasping for things.
  • Developing fine motor skills when grabbing things.
  • Building body muscles when pulling themselves up to grab at something.
  • Developing lessons in cause and effect (to a baby’s mind, “When I do this, this happens), like when they squeeze a toy and it squeaks.
  • Stimulating learning social interaction between babies and parents – teaching babies about colors, shapes, sounds, and names of things.

Baby gyms are not meant to be babysitters though, and parental supervision is always necessary. Toys can break and become hazards.

At eHow.com, they made a point that’s obvious, but worth repeating, which is that, “It’s important that the product be used on floors only, and never high areas such as tables or beds.” Another reminder is to never place these toys near stairs or other potentially dangerous areas.

Play gyms are to be enjoyed and used for developmental growth, but when selecting a location for them, always play worst-case-scenario in your mind.

Safety considerations kept in mind, there are a lot of great options for baby gyms. Let’s look at some of my favorites.

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Toddlers Gaining Stability in Walking and Play With Natural Wood Push Toy Walkers

There are few prouder moments for parents than when their babies take their first steps. This proud time comes at about nine months old for most babies, and there are a lot of things that parents need to do to make this a safe, easy, and happy developmental experience.

At about nine months old, most babies will start trying to pull themselves up to a standing position using furniture or whatever is available, which is why a toddler walker is a good idea.

Even if you buy a walker, the first thing you need to do is toddler-proof your home. “Obviously, one of the first things you should do is to remove items that are within your baby’s reach that he could pull down on himself. If you have table lamps, place them far back out of the baby’s reach,” says learningwalker.com.

“Don’t have ornaments that can easily break where your baby can reach them, and make sure that there is nothing sharp that your baby will be able to reach when using furniture to help with balance,” adds learningwalker.com.

Dr. William Sears offers further suggestions for making your home a safe environment for a new walking toddler, which are:

  • Secure lamp cords so lamps can’t be pulled down.
  • Anchor floor lamps, or remove them.
  • Cushion sharp corners on coffee tables, piano benches, and hearths.
  • Display breakables out of baby’s reach, or put them away for a few years.
  • Move plants
  • Push chairs all the way up to the table to prevent climbing.
  • Install latches on drawers and cabinets that hold breakable dishes.
  • Push items to the centers of tabletops.

Watching your baby learn to walk will be a happier and less stressful experience when your home has been toddler-proofed. Then, the next priority is finding a walker that is both safe in itself, as well as fun and versatile enough to be used past when your baby doesn’t need the physical support anymore.

This is why natural push toy walkers are such a good idea. They are safe (using only non-toxic paints and other materials) and most can be used as just fun toys later on. But even with these toys, some additional safety considerations should be kept in mind.

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Soothing Baby Safely Using Natural Rubber Teething Toys

Having your first baby is always an exciting and uncertain time. You have this beautiful new life that doesn’t talk, but is totally dependent on you, and you want to do everything perfect. There is so much to figure out and one of the most confusing times is when your baby is teething.

Photo courtesy of Crocodile Baby Store.

Teething usually begins around six months old, but it’s normal for teething to start at any time between three months and 12 months old, according to WebMD, which says, “By the time your child is three years old, he or she will have all 20 primary (baby) teeth.”

You’ll know when each baby tooth is coming in about a week in advance because there will be some classic symptoms preceding each one.

“Some babies are fussier than usual when they are teething. This may be because of soreness and swelling in the gums before a tooth comes through. These symptoms usually begin about three-to-five days before a tooth shows, and they disappear as soon as the tooth breaks the skin,” says WebMD, adding that, “Babies may bite on their fingers or toys to help relieve the pressure in their gums.”

One of the best things to do during this time is to give your baby a safe teething toy, and not all teething toys are created equal. The best options are natural (latex) rubber teething toys or if your baby is allergic, then natural wood teething toys.

Here, we’ll look at some of the best options on the market for non-toxic natural rubber teething toys. Among the most notable places to look are: Crocodile Baby Store, Nature’s Baby Blanket, and Tiny Birds Organic Baby & Family.

Crocodile Baby Store

Crocodile Baby Store provides a strong eco-focus on baby products that fall in the range of organic, natural, sustainable, and durable.

Photo from Crocodile Baby Store.

The store has a great line of teethers from Lanco Toys that are all made from 100 percent natural latex rubber, hand-painted using non-toxic paints, and measure nearly four inches tall. They’re also completely free of bisphenol-A (BPA), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and phthalates.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says on its website that “both the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and FDA have some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.”

The use of BPA has been banned in Canada and the European Union because of concerns about neurological effects on fetuses, infants, and young children.

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ChildTrek’s Buying Tips to Parents: Pick Toys That Are Wholesome, Natural, and Educational

After the Christmas rush to buy gifts, comes the after-Christmas rush to exchange them. This is a great time to get the kids some high quality educational toys.

Baufix Crane Construction Kit. Photo courtesy of ChildTrek.

I’ve found that ChildTrek is one of the best places to look for a wide selection of eco-friendly, educational toys and parenting advice on child development.

The ChildTrek has just won second place in the King 5 Best of Western Washington 2011 contest for Best Children’s Gift. The event is sponsored by King5 News in Seattle.

The retail company makes sure that all of the toys and items it sells meet several safety standards, including:

  • Documentation of high safety and quality controls from product designs, material acquisitions, product development, and delivery.
  • Compliance with the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act laws (CPSI) and the European Standards (EN 17).
  • Excellent product safety history.

When deciding which toys to carry, ChildTrek also evaluates them against its “wholesome, natural, and educational vision.”

miYim Organics – Tigger. Photo from ChildTrek.

ChildTrek considers wholesome toys to be toys that facilitate the development of social skills, such as sharing, taking turns, and negotiating problems.

As for the naturalness of its toys, the company says, “The vast majority of the toys you’ll find at ChildTrek are made of natural, biodegradable, recyclable, and/or recycled materials. They are made of sustainable wood and/or natural fabrics such as wool and cotton. A few are made of cotton and polyester blends and very little new plastic is used.

“Most of the toys are finished with vegetable or other natural dyes, polished with beeswax, and painted with non-toxic paints, or retain their natural, unfinished beauty.”

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