Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: Frederick by Leo Lionni

This book is an adorable story about a poet mouse who uses his words to warm his friends during the winter months.  The author uses expressive words to describe the story and beautiful collage artwork throughout. This book also won a Caldecott Honor award and the Times Best Illustrated Book award.  

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After reading the book talk to your children about work and the value of work.  Was what Frederick did considered work?  Did he contribute to his community?  Do all members of a community have to contribute equally?  

As an activity have children create their own collages using cut up pieces of construction paper glued to card stock.  

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Playgroup Activity: Butterfly Snack Packs

Buy some of your child's favorite snacks and make these cute butterfly snack packs. This is a fun and easy activity to do with a play group and everyone gets to take one home with them! You could also make these with fruits and vegetables for a healthier option. Just store them in your fridge and they'll be ready to go when you are. 

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What you'll need:

Snack size Ziploc bags
Clothes pins
Craft paint
Pipe cleaners and/or Googly eyes 
Sharpie pen

Place some snacks inside the zip lock bag and close it up. Filling it about half way full will allow room for the clothes pin. Paint the clothes pins or you can buy some that are already colored. Attach the googly eyes to the clothes pin and use the sharpie to write your child's name or a cute little note. You could even name each butterfly. Pinch the bag in the middle and attach the clothes pin. Bend a pipe cleaner into the shape of some antennas and pinch it between the very tip of the clothes pin. Now you have a snack you're kids can't wait to eat! Be sure to save the clothes pins so you can re-use them later!

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mommy Apps

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About 5 years ago I was driving in southern California with my cousin and close friend. We were on the I-5 I believe and our gas tank was empty; to the point that we thought we might be pushing our rental car back to the hotel. We could not find a freeway exit with a gas station nearby to save our lives. Here in Utah you can see gas stations from anywhere as you drive the I-15 so this was bizarre for us! We decided to pull off, drive for a bit and then ask someone if we became that desperate. We became desperate. We pulled into some drive-in fast food restaurant, rolled down the windows and yelled to the seemingly frightening boys at the table. "Hey do you know where the nearest gas station is?" They all turned and looked at us as if we were from another planet or at least another decade and said, "don't you have an app for that?" We still had flip phones at this time and were quite caught off guard. We had no idea what an app even looked like at this point. Needless to say they were of no help and we drove off feeling lost in the technology world. The point of my story?

#2: Flip phones are apparently out of style.
#3: If you have a smart phone and a baby, kids or you're pregnant this is for you!

APPS for Mommies:

  • LactMed-is a database of drugs and dietary supplements that may affect breastfeeding. It includes information on the levels of such substances in breast milk and infant blood, and possible adverse effects in the nursing infant. Suggested therapeutic alternatives to those drugs are provided, where appropriate. 

  • iBreastfeediBreastfeed provides tools and resources to help you successfully breastfeed!
    - Get information on the benefits of breastmilk, breastfeeding and breastpumping tips, breastmilk storage guidelines and instant access to other online resources.

  • Baby Feeding Log-Quickly log baby feedings, sleep and diaper changes. Easily see the last feeding time and what side was used.

  • Speedy Tot-Easy to use app to find changing stations,feeding spots and highchairs.

  • Pump@work-pump@work simplifies the features you love about spreadsheets and hand written pumping logs in a chic, digital format for the busy mom heading back to work. pump@work is a stress-reducing solution to pumping, storing and providing just the right amount of milk for your infant each day.

  • My Cycles-Get the best period and ovulation tracker now! My Cycles takes all the guesswork out of tracking your period and predicting your ovulation window. Trying to conceive? Want to know when to expect your next period? This period calendar app is for you! 

  • ipregnancy- iPregnancy is THE PREMIER APPLICATION for keeping track of your pregnancy! Others have tried to duplicate the features found in this program, but this is the only pregnancy app actually written by a practicing Ob/Gyn!

  • Parenting Ages & Stages-With parenting guides from newborn through school years, the Ages & Stages app provides the most targeted information on child development and parenting milestones. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Touch: A Medicine for Healing and Growth

"Huddled in his clear Plexiglas incubator at Miami's Jackson Memorial Medical Center, 11-day-old Brandan ...seems as inaccessible as Snow White in her glass coffin. Born eight weeks premature, now weighing four pounds, Brandan must live in this artificially warmed environment because his own underdeveloped system can not yet regulate his body temperature.
Brandans's mother watches as Maria Hernandez-Reif of the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute (TRI), reaches through the incubator's portholes and begins to massage the baby. Her hand is larger than Brandan's entire back; as her fingers move in firm downward strokes, the baby's translucent skin looks as if it might tear as easily as tissue paper...Far from injuring the infant, the massage may be essential to his development, for newborns are meant to be touched."

In America, our society almost fears touch. We worry that touch will be seen as abuse or that we are being "too touchy". In essence we are touchy about touch. "Tiffany Field, a TRI researcher found that French parents and children touch each other three times more frequently than American parents and children. She worries that American aren't getting enough touch, especially with the growing concerns about sexual harassment and abuse in schools and workplaces."

-From the LIFE George Howe Colt

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The reality is that touch is an important tool and even a "medicine" for the development and growth of your baby. Preemies especially benefit from massage and touch. They gain weight faster, sleep longer, they spend less time in intensive care units and generally need less assistance with breathing. For other infants including preemies, touch is a calming aid for mom and baby and gets dad involved too. Mom's stress level is decreased and lower levels of depression were seen in mom's that do this. Brain development is also facilitated in the baby and mom's are better able to notice her babies cues. 

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins

Last week at our monthly Ready to Learn class we talked about the building blocks of emergent literacy. These building blocks include listening, talking, writing, decoding and comprehension. Part of learning comprehension is sequencing. This includes questions like, what came first? What came after and what can you expect next? Watch this video to understand more on how to help your child build their literacy skills. To receive information and an evite to our Ready to Learn class email us at baby1@unitedwayuc.org

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The Wind Blew is a must find in your local library. Not only are the illustrations beautiful but this story helps your child learn sequencing. After reading this book print the activity page below. Cut out the following items, color them and then use a paper clip to attach them to a piece of yarn or string. Have your child place them in the order they appeared in the story.

Activity Page

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Playgroup Activity: Tracing with Yarn

Here's a fun activity to help your child get excited about writing. It's also a great practicing tool.

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What you'll need:

                 Sandpaper                                   Crayons                                                  Yarn

Cut the yarn into several pieces of different lengths. Then draw some shapes and letters on a piece of sand paper with crayon. You can usually find sandpaper sheets at your local hardware store but try the dollar store first. They'll probably have it for cheap. The yarn pieces will actually stick to the sand paper as your child traces the letters and shapes. Who knew? This is a great activity to do in a playgroup and is really easy.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Resource Spotlight: InsureKidsNow.gov

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"Children get sick so fast...One moment they are playing energetically; the next moment they're cranky and disorganized. Suddenly, they stagger or lie down. Their eyes glaze over and their color changes to either a fierce red or a chalk white. Their breathing rate doubles, and they seem to be gasping for breath. Small children whimper inconsolably or won't cry at all. They can't tell you whats wrong. They obviously feel awful. Their collapse is all the more sudden in that while they are playing, they resist giving up. When they finally do, they are so pitiful [but so cute]. All but the most experienced parents will feel a painful surge of anxiety."- Dr. T. Berry Brazelton M.D.

InsureKidsNow.gov: Conneting Kids to Coverage.
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InsureKidsNow.gov can provide a bit of relief from the anxiety parents feel when they have a sick child. Their website has information on how to apply for Medicaid or CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) here in Utah as well as other states. These insurances are affordable and can help pay for your child's Well-Child visits, emergencies, prescriptions and more.

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Medicaid and CHIP typically cover a range of benefits including:

  • Doctor Visits
  • Emergency Care
  • Hospital Care
  • Vaccinations
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Dental

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sun Safety

Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. According to one U.S. study, 54% of children become sunburned or tanned in their second summer, versus 22% in their first. Many parents don’t know the best ways to protect their young children and with summer on it’s way, Welcome Baby thought it was best to advise on sun safety. The Skin Cancer Foundation and the FDA recommends the following sun safety tips for infants and babies.

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Infants: 0-6 months

Infants under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. Sunscreens are recommended for children and adults. What makes babies so different? For one thing, babies' skin is much thinner than that of adults, and it absorbs the active, chemical ingredients in sunscreen more easily. For another, infants have a high surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults. Both these factors mean that an infant's exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens is much greater, increasing the risk of allergic reaction or inflammation. To add to that an infant’s skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin, hair, and eyes, and provides some sun protection. Therefore, babies are especially susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects.

Tips for infant sun safety:
* Use removable mesh window shields to keep direct
sunlight from coming in through the windows of your
car or invest in UV window film, which can screen almost 100% of ultraviolet radiation without reducing
 * Take walks early in the morning before 10 a.m. or late
afternoon after 4 p.m. and use a stroller with a
sun-protective cover.

* Dress baby in lightweight clothing that covers the
arms and legs.

* Choose a wide-brimmed hat or bonnet that protects
the baby’s face, neck, and ears. A baby who wears a
hat during the first few months will get used to having
it on.

* Provide adequate liquids to keep your infant hydrated.

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If adequate clothing and shade aren't available, apply small amounts of sunscreen only on areas of your baby's exposed skin, such as the face and back of the hands.

Babies:6-12 months
It’s now safe to use sunscreen on babies.

Tips for baby sun safety:
* All the protection methods explained above still
apply; however, now sunscreen use should be incorporated.

* Apply a broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunscreen to areas
left uncovered such as baby’s hands. Many companies
have tear-free formulas that won’t sting baby’s eyes.

* Most importantly, sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before going outside.

(Sun Safety Tips for Infants, Babies, and Toddlers.(2010). Dermatology Nursing,38-39).

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: The Little Red Hen retold by Starfall

This English Folk Tale is one I'm sure you're familiar with. This story follows a little red hen who asks her friends to help make corn muffins, but when all of her friends only want to help her EAT them she finds it hard to share. Click here for a FREE online version of this book (It is a little different than the original version but it's easy for a young child to follow and even read). Your child can easily click through the pages as you read this book together.

The Little Red Hen

After reading this story make some healthy delicious muffins with your child. Ask them to help and include them in any step possible. They'll see the fun in helping and the reward of hard work, which is of course eating them! This muffin recipe uses Greek yogurt, blueberries and orange juice. Try it out! click below for directions.

Healthy Orange Blueberry Muffins 

2 large eggs 
2/3 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup of sugar replacement such as honey or maple syrup)
1/2 cup canola oil 
1/4 cup apple sauce  
1/2 cup greek yogurt 
1/2 cup orange juice 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1- 1 1/2 cups of blueberries 
1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour 
1 1/2 cup sifted whole wheat flour  
2 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp salt 
zest of 2 oranges- play with this until you get the right about of orange flavor you prefer

Optional Crumb topping 
1/2 cup all purpose flour 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
4 tbsp Earth Balance

-Recipe from Jocelyn
Healthy Orange Blueberry Muffins

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Playground Scavenger Hunt

Discovery Park

Last weekend I took my nieces and nephews to the discovery park in Pleasant Grove or as they call it "the park with the big red slide" (1550 North 100 East if you want to try this fun wooden park out). This is a park that they only visit a couple of times a year so they were all pretty excited. They were telling me all about the new and different things this park had that their other local parks didn't. I then came across this fun idea that you could do with your kids in a playgroup.

Playground Scavenger Hunt!

Use the list below to discover all of the different playground equipment at different parks close to you. This is an activity that could be ongoing for you and your kids. Visit at least 1 new park a month and check mark all of the different types of playground equipment your children tries out. This will get them active and excited to search for new parks to complete their lists. Feel free to add to it too!

Click here for a full printable version

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Safe Kids Utah

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The Safe Kids Utah organization started in 1995 with the mission to make Utah a safer place for children by preventing unintentional injuries and fatalities. They do this by:

  • raising community awareness
  • influencing policies
  • promoting safety
  • establishing private/public partnerships
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Their website has information and resources on car seat safety, bike helmet safety, water safety, fire safety, Utah safety laws and much more. Here are some things to keep your child safe:

  • The law in Utah is to keep your child in a booster seat until the age of 8
  • You can have a Child Passenger Safety Technician take a look at your car to make sure your children are safely secure. There are several places around Utah that have Child Passenger Safety Technicians and a list of these can be found by clicking here
  • Never leave your child in the car. The temperature in your car can increase up to 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. Its dangerous and children die from this every year. 
  • Helmets should be worn every time a child rides a bike. Make it a habit! Let your child choose their own helmet; if it's "cool" then they'll want to wear it. There is a 5-step Helmet Fit Test you can do to make sure your child's head will be protected properly. 
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  • Summer time is here and that means swimming, boating and lots of water! This is a fun time of year but don't get caught up in just the fun. Make sure your child wears an appropriately fitting life jacket on a boat and in the lake. Enroll your kids in swimming lessons so they can learn to float, tread water, and swim. This will be a life long skill that will never be wasted. Teach your kids to always swim with a buddy and stay close to the shore. 
  • Learn CPR! Find a class near you offered by the American Red Cross.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Balancing Praise and Criticism as your Child Learns

Small children can and do learn very quickly. They have the capabilities of mastering skills in a minuscule amount of time. They often do this by watching those around them. Children strongly identify with our patterns of behavior and mimic everything we do; it's important for us as adults, role-models and parents to be a good example of how to learn, how to help and how to give praise.


There is often a lot of pressure for children to learn to read, write or learn to play an instrument. Sometimes they feed off of the praise others give them for their success rather than their own feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. This can actually be harmful to your child's learning and self-esteem. Praise is good but too much praise can become pressure instead of reassurance. Giving small and gentle amounts of praise is good when your child succeeds. Dr. Carol Dweck, a  researcher in the field of achievement and success, suggests praising your child for their hard work instead of labeling them as "smart" or "talented". For example, "I can tell you worked so hard on those math problems!" Instead of "Look how smart you are!". This will help your child realize that it's the hard work and determination that really matters. Encouraging them to continue forward is also good but avoid shaping his problem for him or pressuring him to be the best of all; focus on his best. Praise is also great after a child fails and then tries again! This may be hard to watch but let your child fail. Failure with new explorations of success are good for your child. Don't jump in the moment you see struggle. Allow your child room to find ways to accomplish the goal or task he has set out to do.

In Dr. T. Berry Brazelton's book touchpoints: Your Child's Emotional and Behavior Development he says, "Never forget the enormous power of frustration to fuel a small child as he searches for mastery and a sense of his own competence."

From Frustration to success and accomplishment
Your example of how to praise will help fuel the success of your child. If you are faced with a task that is challenging to YOU, remember that your child is watching. They are observing how you will overcome that challenge. Take note of how you react. Find alternative solutions and don't give up. They'll mimic the way you change your failures into successes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Book Review: llama llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney

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llama llama red pajama is a well illustrated book with lots of rhyming! It is part of a series of books written by Anna Dewdney. The book goes through llama llama red pajama's bedtime routine with his mamma. He learns that his mamma is always near even if she isn't right there with him.

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Activity to go along with this book:

Explore rhyming with your child starting with basic words. Try giving your child a word and seeing how many different words they can come up with that rhyme. If your child is older, see if they can write a poem or a story that rhymes. This is a great activity to help broaden your child's language skills.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Plastic Bottle Bowling

One of my "nerdy" hobbies in life is bowling. I joined a bowling league in January of this year and had the time of my life. My team and I ended up winning the tournament a few weeks ago which led me to this fun playgroup activity I found on another blog. This could be a great activity that you make with your kids which leads to a fun game you can share with other kids in a playgroup.


Here's what you'll need:

10 clear plastic bottles-preferably all the same size with the caps too
Craft acrylic paint
A ball-a little bit of weight to the ball is helpful. 


  • Clean the inside of the bottles well.
  • Add some paint to each bottle. See the picture below for a good amount. If your paint is  thick you'll want to add some water to it so the paint can move around and coat the inside. About a teaspoon of water should work. 
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  • Put the caps back on the bottles and let your kids shake them allowing the entire inside of the bottle to be covered in paint. You could also use 2 colors in a bottle and make the inside look swirly. Get creative!
  • Take the caps off, dump the extra paint out and let them dry for about 12 hours. 
  • Put the caps back on and arrange them on your sidewalk like the pattern to the right. 
  • Let the game begin! You'll kids will love a little challenge. Hopefully they can knock them all down!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Back Yard Camping

One of my favorite summer time activities as a kid was to sleep out on my deck in the back yard with my siblings. The nights were warm and the stars were so bright; there was something so special about sleeping "out in the woods" even though I was still at home.  My dad would roast hot dogs and mallows over our barbecue grill and later would point out some of the constellations in the sky. These are the kinds of memories I'll never forget. Camping can be a lot of work with young kids but making memories like these are fun and will give your kids the quality YOU time they need. To reduce the stress and work of actually camping in the woods or mountains just camp in the back yard! You're close to everything you need, just in case, but your kids will love the imagination and adventure they'll find in their own back yard.


Here are some fun back yard camping ideas:

  • Pitch a tent and fill it with blankets and pillows or create some foam pad/air mattress beds on your deck. 
  • Roast hot dogs and marshmallows on your BBQ grill or fire pit if you have one.
  • Have your kids point out different shapes and objects that the stars make in the sky. Name them if you want. This can be a type of eye spy game too.
  • Use flash lights wrapped with colored cellophane to create a light show against the side of the house or on the tent ceiling. 
  • Use the flash light as a spot light for you to make shadow hand puppets. 
  • Turn out the lights and tell stories.
  • Play Squirrel Tag: One person is the squirrel catcher; everyone else is a squirrel, clinging to his own tree (if your yard is treeless, you can use lawn chairs). When the catcher shouts "Squirrel scramble!" the squirrels have to dash to another tree without being tagged. Once you get tagged, you're the new squirrel catcher.
Hand Puppets

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tips and Tricks for your Child's Seasonal Allergies

Spring Time

This time of year is beautiful in Utah but with that beauty there is often a price to pay; that price is allergies. Over the past 2 weeks I've been trying every trick in the book to help control my allergy symptoms. Runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing has made an annoying few weeks for myself. I never had allergies as a kid but I remember my brother suffering from them every spring. He'd be sprawled out on the couch with a cold rag over his swollen eyes and constantly had a box of tissues with him. Because seasonal allergies can be annoying for you and your young kids, here are some helpful tips and tricks to prevent and control the symptoms.
Seasonal Allergies

  • Stay Inside. The best way to treat allergy symptoms is to avoid allergens to begin with. So when pollen counts soar, keep kids indoors as much as possible. Pollen is usually at its peak mid-morning, early evening, and when the wind is blowing.
  • Use Saltwater. Having a plugged-up nose can be one of the toughest symptoms for children with allergies. For relief, older children might want to try nasal irrigation with a saline solution. You can buy saline at the drugstore or make your own by mixing in a squirt bottle eight ounces of boiled water to one teaspoon non-iodized salt.
  • Stay Hydrated. All that sneezing and blowing can leave a child parched. Keep a water bottle full and close to hand and encourage your children to keep sipping.
  • Warm It Up. Steam from a warm shower or bath seems to offer allergy symptom relief for some so encourage kids to enjoy a little tub time. Just be careful to make sure the shower is not too hot.
  • Keep It Cool. To keep pollen out when the weather’s hot, air condition your car and home and keep windows closed.
  • Deal With Dry Air. A little moisture in the air makes breathing easier for most, so if the air in your house is dry, get a humidifier. But be careful: Humidity over 40% can encourage the growth of indoor allergens like mold and dust mites.
  • Go Cold. When itchy eyes are driving your kid crazy, try a cold compress, which may help reduce the itch and soreness.
  • Keep Your Hands to Yourself. Help kids to avoid rubbing their itchy eyes. Rubbing will only irritate them -- and could make the itchiness even worse.
  • Spice It Up. If your kids will eat spicy foods, a dish made with cayenne pepper, hot ginger, fenugreek, onions, or garlic may help thin mucus and clear nasal passages.
  • Use Top Tissues. When kids’ allergies are at their peak, tender noses can get sore pretty fast. Look for tissues with lotion or aloe..
  • Rub Jelly On It. And if your child’s nose is raw and red from blowing, you can soothe his sniffer with a dab of petroleum jelly.
  • Gargle to Relieve Sore Throats. If drainage leaves your child with a sore throat, gargling with warm salt water made of 1-2 Tablespoons of table salt in 8 ounces of water may ease the pain.
  • Drink Warm Tea. Drinking more fluids can also help sooth tender throats. Try a weak tea with honey and lemon. Bonus: The steam may relieve sinus congestion, too.
  • Get Face Time. Warm compresses applied to the face may also help soothe a child’s sinus pressure and pain.
  • Watch Out for Certain Foods. If your child is allergic to ragweed, he may also have an allergic sensitivity to some foods that may include bananas, melons, chamomile tea, sunflower seeds, and cucumbers.

  • (WebMD, Nov. 2012)