Monday, June 28, 2010

Fitness and Your 2- to 3-Year-Old

Kids this age are learning to master basic movements like walking, running, kicking, and throwing. They're naturally active, so be sure to provide lots of opportunities for your child to practice and build on these skills.
How much is enough? According to the National Association of Sports and Physical Education, each day toddlers should:
  • get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity (adult-led)
  • get at least 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)
  • not be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time (except for sleeping)

What Kids Can Do

It's important to understand what kids can do and what skills are appropriate for this age. By age 2, toddlers should be able to walk, run, and jump in place with both feet. By age 3, most kids can run and jump well. In addition, they'll learn to balance briefly on one foot, climb well, kick the ball forward, throw the ball overhand, and pedal a tricycle.
Keep these skills in mind when encouraging your child to be active. Play games together and provide age-appropriate active toys, such as balls, push and pull toys, and riding vehicles.
Mommy-and-me programs can introduce toddlers to tumbling, dance, and general movement. But you don't have to enroll kids in a formal program to foster these skills. The most important thing is to provide lots of opportunities to be active in a safe environment.

Games provide fun and fitness for parents and toddlers:
  • Walk like a penguin, hop like a frog, or imitate other animals' movements.
  • Sit facing each other and hold hands. Rock back and forth and sing the song "Row, row, row your boat."
  • Bend at the waist and touch the ground. Walk your hands forward and inch along like a caterpillar.
  • Sit on the ground and let your child step over your legs, or make a bridge with your body and let your child crawl under.
  • Play follow the leader, "Ring around the rosy," and other similar games.
  • Listen to music and dance together.
The possibilities are endless — come up with your own active ideas or follow your child's lead. Also, limit the amount of time your child spends watching TV (including DVDs and videos) or playing on a computer.

Kids who are active at young age tend to stay active throughout their lives. And staying fit can improve self-esteem, help maintain a healthy weight, and decrease the risk of serious illnesses, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Road trips galore

We all know that summer means school is out and vacation is in. Chances are with a growing family, road trips are the number one option. Sometimes, road trips aren't the easiest on a little family, but here are some way to stay entertained and bust the boredom from state line to state line.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Toddler Reading Time

Studies show that kids with active exposure to language have social and educational advantages over their peers — and reading is one of the best exposures to language.
Reading to toddlers sets the foundation for later independent reading. But before they can read independently, they need emergent literacy skills. These include:
  • having a large vocabulary of words and knowing how to use them
  • understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds (called phonemic awareness)
  • understanding that marks on a page represent letters and words
  • knowing the letters of the alphabet
You don't need games, flashcards, or special instruction for a toddler gain these skills. Just reading to your child as often as possible is the best way to help him or her learn to read independently.

Experts recommend reading to toddlers as often as possible, striving for at least one scheduled reading time each day. Choosing regular times to read (especially before naps and bedtime) helps kids learn to sit with a book and relax. But you can read anytime your child seems in the mood.

You'll find that your toddler wants to be independent and successful. Encourage this by offering three or four books to choose from, praising the selection, letting your toddler help you turn pages, and asking for help as you find things on a page. Your child will love to finish sentences in books with repetitive phrasing or rhymes.
Here are some additional reading tips:
  • Read whatever books your toddler asks for, even if it's the same book every night for weeks and weeks (and weeks and weeks).
  • Read slowly enough for your toddler to understand.
  • Read expressively, using different voices for different characters and raising or lowering your voice as appropriate.
  • Use puppets, finger plays (like the "Itsy Bitsy Spider"), or props while you read.
  • Encourage your toddler to clap or sing when you read rhythmic, sing-song books.
  • Talk about the illustrations. Point to items and name them. Then ask your child to name them with you and offer enthusiastic praise.
  • Ask open-ended questions — "Why do you think the lion is going into the woods? What do you think will happen next?" This encourages your child to think about the story and to ask questions.
  • Substitute your child's name for the name of a character in the book.
  • Have fun! Show your child that reading is enjoyable.
Don't worry if your child can't sit still for an entire book — toddlers' attention spans will get longer soon. You might want to keep reading even if your child moves around. Before bedtime, allow your child to touch and play with favorite toys while you read aloud. The sound of your voice will be a soothing reminder of your bedtime routine and that books are a part of it.

Toddlers want to feel included and competent; choose books they can follow along with, especially those with repetitive text so they can fill in words. Maintain your toddler's interest by choosing books with small amounts of text on the page and books about topics that you know are of interest.

Toddlers love to look at homemade books, scrapbooks, or photo albums full of people they know (try adding simple captions). Poetry and songbooks are good choices for this age group too. You may find that story time turns into sing-along time.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Toddlers and Toenails

My husband is going to be attending podiatry school in the fall and told me that I should blog about toddlers and toenails. I laughed at first, but here I am, blogging about toddlers and toenails.

                Trimming nails can be a challenge to say the least. Trimming the nails of a toddler can be even more of a challenge. But there are some things that you can do to make the process of trimming a little easier.  
1: Set a good example. Often times if a toddler sees you do something, they will want to do it too!
2: Tell you child what you are doing to them. Tell them what will happen and what it feels like.
3: Explain to your child what happens if nails are not taken care of.
4: Let your toddler hold the clippers and show them what each part is for.
5: Soak their toes in warm (not hot) water. When you soak their nails it softens them, making it easier for you to cut and probably less painful for your toddler. I’m pretty sure your toddler would not oppose to splashing their feet in warm water for a few minutes.
6: If your toddler is fidgety, wiggly, squirmy, etc. Try trimming their toenails while they are distracted. You can set them on the countertop (Be sure not to leave them alone at all times!) and give them a snack or coloring book while you trim their toenails.
7: Try doing it while they are asleep. If your child is a sound sleeper, then trim their nails while they are taking a nap or after they have gone to bed for the night.

Minor foot problems many parents are not aware of:
Athlete's foot This is a fungal infection that causes a red, itchy, moist rash. It's not very common in babies and toddlers, but it can occur if you take your child swimming a lot as the fungus thrives in warm damp areas, for example, between wet toes. Prevent it by drying in between toes properly after baths and swimming, and treat with anti-fungal cream or powder from your GP if it does occur.

Blisters These are commonly caused by ill-fitting socks or shoes and can be quite nasty as your baby or toddler can't necessarily tell you that something is rubbing or their foot hurts. Have your child's shoes rechecked in case her width fitting or size has changed and leave off socks and shoes to allow the blister to dry up. Don't be tempted to burst a blister as you could introduce infection.

Hand, foot and mouth disease Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood viral infection that causes blisters on the mouth, hands and feet, possibly accompanied by a slight fever. It usually resolves itself within a few days, but let the skin breathe by leaving off socks and shoes at home.

Ingrowing toenails Reddened or swollen skin at the side of your child's toenails could indicate an ingrowing toenail, usually caused by incorrect cutting of the toenails. Make sure you cut your child's toe- and hand nails straight across, rather than in a curve, and file away sharp edges if necessary. If your child complains of sore toenails, ask your GP or health visitor to take a look.

Verrucas Small warts on the feet, often with a black speck, or "root", at their centre, that are most often picked up at the swimming baths. Encourage older children to wear flip-flops or protective footwear around the poolside and carry toddlers if possible. Most disappear within two years of appearing, but can be treated if necessary - ask your GP's advice. Cross infection is common so give your child their own bathmat and towel if they've got veruccas.

Painting Toe Nails:
                Many parents like to paint their little girl’s toe nails. However it is sometimes difficult to find a nail polish that is SAFE for children. Many nail polishes contain harmful chemicals for not just young children, but for adults as well. Make sure that you avoid nail polishes with DBP, Formaldehyde, and touene. There are many water-based nail polishes out on the market that are available. When looking for nail polish, look for bottles that are first of all non-toxic and second, water based. A great product for little girls is Piggy Paint http://www.piggypaint.com/ It is a great alternative to regular nail polish.