Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pleasant Grove Playgroup

We have had several people ask about starting a playgroup in the Pleasant Grove area.   Playgroups are a fun way to connect with other parents, share ideas, educate your child and build social connections.  If this is something you would be interested in please let us know.  United Way will help the group get started and supply curriculum and materials .   Email us as ShannonM@unitedwayuc.org


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fun with Matching

Our playgroup for the day was all about matching!  Some of the kids were still learning their colors, so to help them we turned it into a color matching game!     
Color Matching:
Take a colored piece of paper and attach an envelope or small bag to it.  Tape (or glue) the same color onto some Popsicle sticks.  You can do this for as many colors as you want.  Once you have a pile of colored Popsicle sticks you can mix them up, and hand out a pile to each kid to put away.  For the younger kids who were still learning their colors, we gave them a colored stick and had them identify the color.  Then they ran off and put it in the right spot before coming back for another.

To see how well some of the kids knew their colors I had two different shades of some colors.  Everyone did a perfect job!  They loved running around and seeing how quickly they could sort through their colored sticks.  Next time we’re going to try to play with even more colors to give some of the older kids a challenge. 

The Memory Game:
 Do you remember playing memory as a kid?  Now you can make your own game of memory and color your own pictures to match.  You can find some free prints off the internet, or make your own pictures by drawing two of the same animals onto index cards.  The kids loved coloring the pictures and got some good practice using scissors when it came time to cut them out. 

Most of the kids who come to playgroup love to run around.  We played another fun game to get us all moving.  This is a great game to play on a rainy day, to help get those wiggles out before bedtime, or just when you feel like having some fun!

 Balloon Ping Pong:
Just tape a Popsicle stick onto a paper plate, blow up a balloon, and you’re done!  We split the kids into two teams and had each of them practice hitting the balloon to the other side.  It was pretty hard for some of the kids to aim the balloon, sometimes all they wanted to do was hit it as hard as they could!  This is a great game for teaching control.  The really little kids could practice their hand-eye coordination, and the older kids had to work on hitting it back to the other side when the balloon flew out of bounds. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Can Babies Do?

Babies spend a lot of time growing and developing for the first few years of life, more than they do at any other period in their life. They have many skills and abilities for being so young. Some of them they are born with, others they "grow into." But do you know the difference between the two? Here is a little quiz about what babies can do. For each item, decide when you think each ability first appears: (a) at birth, (b) one month, (c) six months, (d) 24 months, or (e) after 24 months.

  1. The child can grasp the fingers of an adult so firmly that she/he may be pulled into an upright position.
  2. The child can distinguish between human voices and other non-human sounds.
  3. The child prefers light-colored and bright objects and prefers looking at these.
  4. The child can communicate that she/he is hungry or in pain.
  5. The child can effectively capture the gaze of parents and, thus, can produce strong feelings of affection in these adults.
  6. The child can visually distinguish between different kinds of patterns and prefers looking at some patterns more than others.
  7. The child can teach parents to meet his/her needs immediately.
  8. The child can receive food by sucking and can adjust sucking behavior to different sizes of nipples.
  9. The child holds her/his breath underwater and is capable of simple swimming behavior.
  10. The child begins to process language. She/he can distinguish between different speech sounds and attends to human speech more intensely than other noises.
  11. The child can look at an object using both eyes.
  12. The child can see clearly objects that are 7 or 8 inches away.
  13. The child can distinguish between high-pitched and low-pitched sounds and between loud and soft ones.
  14. The child can taste foods and prefers sweet to non-sweet ones.
  15. The child can distinguish between different odors and can determine the direction they come from.
  16. The child has depth perception.

Answer Key:
The answer to all of them is... A! That's right! Your amazing, wonderful, intelligent little newborn is capable of all of these things from the moment he or she is born. Babies are born with this wonderful array of reflexes and inherent abilities, and they will continue developing and becoming even smarter as they grow.

Image taken from: http://shannyjeanmaney.com/2011/07/if-jane-sent-you-here/

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Homemade Bath Crayons

Here is a simple and easy recipe for making some easy clean-up bath crayons for your little one to help keep him entertained in the tub.

  1. Buy some glycerin soap at a craft store.
  2. Melt it in the microwave, add food coloring, and our into a mold, such as an ice cube tray.
  3. You can also add essential oils if you want them to be scented, though most people find that unnecessary for bath crayons.
  4. They will take about an hour to cool completely, then you can pop them out of the mold.
And voilà... you have bath crayons!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No more!

Today we decided to go on a Color hunt and see what colors we could find.  First we went around the room and found out what everyone’s favorite color was.  Then we went to work trying to find that same color somewhere in the room.  It was amazing to see how quickly some of the kids could find something.  It was also fun to see how great the kids felt when they were able to find every color we looked for.  
Our fun book for this Playgroup tells of one boy’s desire to fill his world with color by painting not only the walls in his house, but himself.  He’ll paint anything he can until his mother catches him, then it’s off to the bathroom to get cleaned up.  Not only was this a fun read as we saw the different designs the boy painted, it was an opportunity to teach the kids how to keep their paintings off the furniture and on their crafts.   

To help us find where all the different colors were hiding, we made our own set of binoculars and painted them with our favorite colors.  Here’s how you can make your own: 

    2 Toilet Paper Rolls
    Some Yarn or string
    A Stapler
    A Hole Puncher
    Paint Brushes

Start by stapling the two toilet paper rolls together.  You can also try tape or glue, but I’ve found staples work best for me.  Next punch a hole at the end of one side of the tube for the string to go through.  That way kids can wear them around their necks instead of carrying them all the time.  Now you’re ready to decorate.  We used some colorful washable paint for this playgroup, but you can color your own binoculars with markers, stickers, or anything else!   Make sure to let them dry all the way if you’re using paint!

Our snack time doubled as another fun craft.  We made Fruit Loop Bracelets to wear and eat!  Here’s how you can make them:

Fruit Loops
Pipe Cleaners

The kids loved threading the fruit loops onto the pipe cleaner.  It worked better than string or yarn because it kept the ends straight.  You can try asking the kids to sort the colors out into sections and place them into muffin tins.  This can help the smaller kids learn how to sort by colors.  Then you can twist the ends together and presto!  You’ve got an edible accessory to wear around the house!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baby Health Scares: When to Worry

There are few things more exhausting than having a sick baby. There are few things more potentially frightening either. Here are five potential "baby health emergencies", when it's actually emergency, when it's probably not, and how to treat it (if necessary).

Emergency: Baby spikes a fever
It's an emergency if: Your baby is under 3 months old and his rectal temperature is 100.4°F or higher. Fever in new babies is cause for serious concern because they haven't gotten most of their vaccinations yet and are therefore highly susceptible to infections. Of particular concern is meningitis, a potentially fatal infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Doctors will do lab work, and (if the baby is less than 4 months old), they will do a spinal tap to see if the infant has meningitis. If he does, he will be admitted to the hospital.
It's probably not if: Your baby has passed the 3-month mark and has received his first haemophilus influenza type b and pneomococcal conjugate vaccines (which help prevent meningitis). A fever is actually quite a normal reaction to a vaccine, though your baby's physician will probably start treating the fever if it reaches 101.5°F or above.
Treatment: If your baby isn't bothered by the fever, then there's nothing that you need to do. If he's fussy, you can give him acetaminophen (or ibuprofen, if he is at least 6 months old). Doctors usually recommend giving the baby a fever reducer and then giving him a tepid bath until he cools down, if his temperature hits about 102°F to 103°F. If you've used the safe maximum dose and the baby's fever continues to rise, be sure to call your pediatrician, so that you can determine what the cause is and whether treatment is necessary.

Emergency: Baby falls off of the changing table
It's an emergency if: Your baby isn't breathing. Start CPR and call 911 immediately. If she is breathing but unresponsive, skip the CPR and go straight to calling 911. Because falls can cause fractures and other serious injuries, watch out for warning signals with baby's behavior. Check her entire body for any signs of injury: redness, swelling, pain from touch, bleeding, excessive crying, vomiting, and abnormal eye movements. If she refuses to move an arm or leg, doesn't seem like herself, is inconsolable, cannot be roused, or is vomiting 12 to 24 hours after she has fallen, seek immediate medical attention.
It's probably not if: You can easily soothe your baby after the fall and she seems to be behaving normally. Even vomiting after a fall is normal for the first 12 hours. Make sure there is no swelling or bruising and watch your baby for signs of abnormal behavior. Make sure she can still move her arms and legs. If any of the more serious symptoms develop within 24 hours, see a doctor immediately. Once you get through the first 24 hours, the baby should be fine.

Emergency: Baby swallows an object
It's an emergency if: Your baby has put something in his mouth and cannot breathe or is having difficulty doing so, or if you think he has swallowed a button battery. If this is the case, call 911. Batteries are especially toxic and must be dealt with immediately. A button battery lodged in the esophagus can cause severe chemical burns within two hours.
It's probably not if: The object isn't toxic, isn't blocking the airway, and your baby is not coughing up or vomiting green bile (which is a sign of intestinal blockage). However, your pediatrician may still want to do an x-ray to decide whether to wait for it come out the other end on its own or to have it removed immediately.
Treatment: If your baby is coughing, he may cough the object out on his own.You can help the process along more quickly by leaning him forward. If his airway is completely blocked, give him five sharp blows between his shoulders. If you can see the object, try to remove it. However, you should NEVER just do a blind finger sweep, as that can actually force the object even further down the airway.

Emergency: Baby has an allergic reaction to food
It's an emergency if: Her nostrils are flaring, she is wheezing or whistling as she inhales, her lips are swollen, or she is turning blue. A severe allergic reaction (known as anaphylaxis) can close off your baby's airways very quickly. if you have an EpiPen (containing epinephrine, which can stop an allergic reaction), use it. You can also administer an antihistamine (such as Benadryl). But you also need to call 911 as well, because you don't know how much worse the reaction might get.
It's probably not if: Your baby's breathing is not immediately jeopardized. Symptoms of milder allergic reactions can vary widely, ranging from eczema and diaper rash to reflux, diarrhea, or even bloody stools. These can be handled by your pediatrician. You can also follow up with your doctor for testing to determine what else your baby is allergic to. Keep in mind that the trigger food could have possibly been passed to your baby through your breast milk. Babies with one allergy typically have others. Your doctor may also prescribe an EpiPen for dealing with future accidental exposures, depending on the severity of the baby's allergies.

Emergency: Baby swallows poison
It's ALWAYS an emergency. Without question, this should always be treated as an emergency. Common household products, medications, and even chewable kids' vitamins can be hazardous to a baby, even in very small amounts. Call Poison Control at 800-222-1222. Operators can tell you what to do next, based on your baby's age and what he ingested.

Information taken from:http://www.parents.com/baby/injuries/emergency/emergency-baby-health-scares/
Images taken from:

Friday, September 14, 2012

20 Tips for Flying With Kids

The thought of traveling with kids, especially toddlers, is a horrifying prospect for many parents. The thought of flying with a toddler can be even more frightening. Here are 20 tips for flying with children:
  1. Check in early so you get the best seats. The front row is best because it has the most leg room.
  2. Plan to get to the airport two hours before you depart.
  3. Be prepared and remember to stay patient. If you're calm, it's much more likely that your kids will be calm as well.
  4. Buy new toys from the dollar store.
  5. Pack coloring books with crayons in Ziploc bags.
  6. Bring a variety of health snacks.
  7. Divide the books and snacks into small bags so you can pull them out at different times. You can even wrap the toys to make it more fun.
  8. Give your  baby a bottle or a pacifier for take-off so that their ears won't hurt. Starbursts work great for the older kids.
  9. Bring a favorite blanket or stuffed animal
  10. Pack Ziploc bags for those oh-so-wonderful messy diapers.
  11. Bring an extra pair of clothes just in case.
  12. Take along an iPad or Kindle with children's books and/or shows with headphones.
  13. Bring melatonin if it's a really long flight, to help the kids sleep.
  14. Buy a few packs of stickers to keep their hands busy for a little while.
  15. Dress up silly magnet faces.
  16. String Cheerios on a necklace.
  17. Play with finger puppets.
  18. Count Teddy Grahams or Goldfish crackers.
  19. Bring flash cards with letters and numbers.
  20. Snuggle and sing songs.
If the kids are entertained and (mostly) quiet, it's a win-win situation for everyone. The kids are happy, the parents are happy, and you don't have to face the wrath of the other childless passengers on the plane. :)
Information and image taken from: http://blogs.babycenter.com/life_and_home/20-kid-friendly-tips-for-long-flights/

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What's in a Name?

Have you ever thought about how different we all are? We started off this playgroup by looking at some different dolls and noticing how different they could be. Some had different hair and eye colors, and some were even sticking their tongues out. We went around in a circle, looked at everyone there and talked about what made each of us different.

Our fun craft for the day was outlining our names.  Not only does his help kids learn the letters of their names, this craft will help them practice some coordination. Here's how!

- Glue
- Construction Paper
- Beans, Pasta, or any dried foods you have.

With some glue, write your child's name or the first letter of their name on the constructor paper. Next, place the dried beans over the glue to outline the letters.

Once this has dried your kids will be able to see, and feel their name. This is a great activity to do to help teach some fine moor skills. Come to some Playgroups activities for more fun ideas and a chance to play with your kids.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

7 Ways to Encourage Infant Social Development

As your baby grows, she will be changing a lot. She'll learn to hold up her head, sit up by herself, crawl, walk, and so much more. But she won't just be changing physically. She'll be growing mentally, emotionally, and socially as well. Your baby's need to interact with other people and to be accepted by others is just one of the steps in the direction of developing social skills. However, infant social development isn't possible without emotional and language skills. Here are seven ways that you can help to foster your baby's social development:
  1. Smile and talk to your baby - explain and describe your day-to-day activities and tasks.
  2. Touch your baby often.
  3. Encourage acceptance and approval by making eye contact often.
  4. Involve dad by letting him hold, talk to, and touch your baby.
  5. Pick up your baby when he reaches out with his arms.
  6. Encourage and boost confidence by making a fuss over little things your baby accomplishes, like asking "Where is your hand?" or telling him, "Put your foot here." Encourage and make a fuss when your child learns such things as feeding himself and using the potty successfully. This grows confidence, both in his own abilities and in others that support him. This means that by the time he reaches the age of about three, he is better able to cope with such things as nursery and other periods away from his main caretakers.
  7. Encourage self-discovery by letting him spend time in front of a mirror... your baby likes to watch and talk to the mirror image.
When your baby is an only child, it is important that his family socializes with others who have small children. They may be too small to join in play or even get down on the floor, but babies are keen observers and this helps your baby to discover that other small people exist, but he will also learn about such things as sharing and taking turns, such as when food or drink is passed around, when conversation takes place, or when people pause to allow others to speak. Some of these things can be very subtle, so the more often the baby is exposed to them, the better chance he has of learning the social skills he needs to become a positive member of the society in which he belongs.

All About Seeds

This week for our playgroup we learned about seeds.  We read a fantastic book that was very educational, and taught the children what seeds are, what they need to grow, and what those seeds end up being! The book is called All About Seeds by Susan Kuchalla.
We learned that acorns, pine cones, peach pits, nuts, and beans are all seeds.  All the plants, trees, grass, and flowers that we see in our beautiful world all start from a seed!  Plants, like people, needs certain things to grow. They need water, sunshine, and soil to grow. Ask your children what they need to grow!

Planting your own seeds is an activity every child loves to do! They especially love taking care of the seed, and watching it grow day after day.  You would be surprised at how responsible children can be--even little ones--when they can actually see that the effort they put in every day is actually doing something!  This is a great teaching tool for children to learn at a young age that when you take the time to care for something, nourish and nurture it, it will grow and flourish into something beautiful.  If you ignore and forget about it, it will quickly wilt away and die.

Making your own "Grass Friend" is simple and easy to do.

  • First you need to get a plastic cup
  • Next, decorating our grass friend is what gives it life and personality! Googly eyes are fun to glue on, and you get them at any craft store. They come in all colors and sizes. My opinion is, the bigger the better!!!
  • For the nose and mouth, the kids can draw their own on card stock, then color, cut, and paste to the cup. Or you can glue a button on for the nose, and use pipe cleaners for the mouth--or anything else that you think would work.

  • Next when the face is all put on, fill it half full with potting soil.  Next add some grass seeds. Any type of grass seeds should work, then fill the rest of the cup with more soil. Make sure you water it, and put it in some warm sunshine.  When the grass grows out long, your children can "style" their hair!! If its a girl grass friend they can put bows or ribbons in the "hair" to style it up! That's what makes this activity so fun because it lasts for so long.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Strollers, Baby Carriers, and Infant Spinal Development

Many parents cannot conceive of life without a stroller, a car seat as a baby carrier, or both. Many pediatricians recommend that newborns and infants lay flat on their backs in a stroller and not be carried, in order to avoid pressure on their underdeveloped bodies. However, laying an infant on her back in a stroller is actually more physically and emotionally stressful. It can also inhibit some types of physical development. Being carried or worn (in a baby sling, etc.) with proper support is not only developmentally sound but often preferable for both the baby and the mother. Upright carrying optimizes the physical, emotional, and intellectual growth of your baby.

The human spine is not perfectly straight, though it might seem that way from the front or the back. When viewed from the side, the spine is shown to have four slight curves, resulting in an elongated "S" shape. These curves help us to maintain flexibility and balance, as well as absorb the physical stress placed on our body and our spine throughout the day.

We are not born with these curves, though. They develop gradually as a result of our body responding and adapting to gravity. At birth, babies are in a state of flexion, meaning that their spines form a natural long c-shaped (convex) curve, indicated by the red line in the picture below.

Initially, a baby doesn't have the strength or the balancing spinal curves necessary to hold up his head. But as his neck muscles get stronger, he will begin to lift his head against gravity and a curve will start to develop in his neck (the cervical curve) to help balance his head.
Later, as he begins to crawl around and pull himself up into a standing position, a curve in the lower back (lumbar curve) and the muscles that support his back will begin to develop as well.
Laying your infant flat on her back stretches the spine out of its natural curved shape and into a straight line. Not only is this stressful to her spine, but it can also negatively impact the development of her hip joints. It has also been shown to cause plagiocephaly (deformed skull, flattened on the back or side; generally requires a helmet to correct and reshape the head) and deformed bodies with poor muscle tone.
Though carseats help to maintain the spine's original convex shape, they can actually prevent the formation of natural curves and the development of muscle tone. Though the seats do support the baby's head and neck, they prevent her from using her own muscles to hold up her head. This can be a serious problem, as many babies spend the majority of the day in a carseat or stroller. (We are NOT suggesting that baby carriers should replace carseats for transport while inside the car. Never drive or carry your baby in a baby carrier while in a moving vehicle.)

When an infant is held upright, however, she is able to practice various compensatory movements, enhancing muscular strength and allowing fro more control over her gross and fine motor skills. When the mother walks, stops, or turns, the infant's body naturally works against the pull of gravity to maintain her upright position.

If this is the case, why do some still insist that the horizontal position is so much better for your infant, in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary? This assumption might stem from their acquaintance with the upright carriers of the 80's and 90's, with their typical lack of head/neck support, tight or chafing leg holes, and have no leg support, resembling a parachute harness more than a device for carrying a tender newborn. Perhaps they have seen so many babies facing outwards when carried upright that they assume all carriers are non-supportive. Such carriers do not provide the proper leg support, and can cause the pelvis to tilt backwards and place them in the dangerous "hollow back" (concave) position indicated by the red line in the image below.
When facing outwards, their center of gravity is off. Pressure is placed on the baby's shoulders and chest area, often pulling the shoulders back and hollowing the back even more. It also places pressure on the base of the spine and on the inner thighs of the infant, and is very stressful on an infant's body.

How, then, should you carry your infant? When an infant is carried, he should be oriented toward his mother. Ideally, the fabric of the baby carrier should extend to the back of his knee (or have footstraps), which appropriately positions the pelvis and spine. Upright baby carriers that support the legs, carrying a baby as a mother naturally would in arms, does not compromise a baby's spine or hips. A mother, using either her arms or a simple piece of cloth, supports her baby's legs in a flexed (with the knees bent) abducted (legs spread apart) position supporting the hip and spine. Instead of fabric at the crotch (which contributes no leg support) or swaddling the legs (which is too restrictive), ergonomic carriers put the baby in the position that supports his legs the way his mother's arms would. This is the position that infants are hardwired to assume when they are picked up.
Carrying an infant in this manner also fosters secure emotional attachment and cognitive development. It allows the baby the opportunity to learn about language, facial expression, his environment, and more because of his position and his proximity to his mother. They feel more secure and are more alert when placed in this upright position. Far from spoiling the child or creating a "tyrant", you will fulfill the infant's need for touch, closeness, and warmth.
In summary, laying babies flat on their backs in a stroller or restricted in a car seat is not better for their necks, spines, hips, or their minds. Nature intended for babies to be carried. Upright positioning with proper leg support is the most desirable position for your infant and is gentle enough not to physically stress even tiny babies. By holding baby close to her heart, a mother will not only be choosing the most beneficial and physically supportive method of bringing baby along with her, she will be providing the optimal environment for the infant's psychological and emotional growth as well.

Information taken from: http://www.bobafamily.com/research/strollers-baby-carriers-and-infant-stress/