Toddlers and Technology

One of Totsy's own Niece

Our kids will never know what a life without wireless devices and touch screens is like. Their future may very well be like that of the Jetsons. But what effect does all this technology going to have on their young development. Have you seen the YouTube video of the baby using an iPad? The video captures her clearly understanding the iPad’s touch capabilities. Then, she is given an actual paper magazine and she thinks it’s broken because nothing happens when she taps the pages.  It’s a cute video. Really.

And its also evidence of one of today’s challenges as a parent. The what and how of parenting with technology. How much is too much? Will not using technology enough make it harder for children when they reach classes that require it? Where does a parent come down on balance?

Just like t.v., video games and cell phones, today’s technology presents another opportunity for parents to use it as a learning tool, but not allow it to become a fixture that replaces other educational or physical development opportunities. And certainly, it should not be used as a substitute parent.

Parents will use their smartphones and other devices to calm their kids down or keep them distracted during long waits and in public situations where a little technology might prevent a meltdown. Like most things in life, it’s a matter of balance. Our Totsy team dug a bit deeper into the situation to give you some of both the positives as well as the negatives surrounding Toddler’s and Technology.

Pros

  • Fine-tunes motor skills: Pushing keys and manipulating a mouse gives those tiny toddler hands and fingers the same type of valuable workout they get from finger painting or doodling (though without the creative kick of more artistic endeavors). This form of “finger activity” also hones in on hand-eye coordination, which will pay off for years to come as your little one learns to catch a ball, use scissors, or put together a tricky puzzle.
  • Teaches Cause and Effect: When your child taps a button or swipes the screen, something happens, encouraging curiosity.
  • Apps Targeted to Toddler’s: The App store has a plethora of apps targeted at toddlers. From flashcards that teach numbers and the alphabet, to learning a new language, to games that involve shapes and colors, your smartphone or tablet can be turned into a classroom.

Cons

  • Not Enough “Face Time”: Kids who are glued to a screen throughout the day are less likely to interact with other kids or adults. As humans, we need to interact with one another, developing emotional and social skills.
  • Lack of Activity: Too much screen time may make your little less active, even later on in life. Toddler’s need hands on time, feeling and touching everything, developing their senses. Get them to play with blocks, get muddy in dirt, or finger paint. Can they do that on your smartphone? Nope! Toddlers also need physical play; it helps build strong muscles and it’s a primary way little kids discover what their bodies can do.
  • Too Much Stimulation: According to Natural News, research presented at SLEEP 2010, the 24th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, has revealed that children who use technology late at night are more prone to develop cognitive problems than children who have regular sleeping patterns that do not involve staying up late on their computers and cell phone. Or in other words, after using technological devices too close to bedtime may make them antsy and hyper, disrupting their sleep schedule. Their bodies basically have been told, “you’re not ready for bed.”

Tune in tomorrow as Totsy’s Chief Mom shares her thought via video.

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Why I Love My Cast Iron Skillet

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For Christmas I received a 10″ Pre-seasoned Lodge Cast Iron Skillet.  At first glance, cast iron skillets might seem intimidating and they are heavy as heck!  I have to use two arms to lift the thing!  However, it really is worth the investment if you decide to purchase one. Here are 5 reasons why I love my cast iron skillet:

  1. Easy clean up:  You shouldn’t use soap on the iron skillet because it can strip away the seasoning. Just rinse with warm water and use a washcloth and salt to scrub if necessary and dry thoroughly to prevent rusting. Very important to apply a thin layer of oil after each cleaning.
  2. Multifunctional: take it camping. Transfer to the oven. Roast, fry, bake, braising, simmer, anything!
  3. Lasts forever: True that I’ve had it about 2 weeks now, but based on reviews and the tough material, I’m sure it will take me through a few decades and then some.
  4. Retains heat: Love this! I can prepare a dish and it will stay warm longer.
  5. Wide range of recipes:  Doing a quick search on Pinterest will pull up endless recipes to use with your cast iron skillet; cookies, pizza, baked eggs, etc!

Be sure to check back next Monday about how to care for your cast iron skillet.

Tell us, do you own a cast iron skillet?  How often do you use it?

Dine with Diana: Too Good To Be Healthy Veggie Quinoa

If you’re like me, you’re scrambling around this week trying to get the kids back to a respectable bedtime routine, trying to remember where you left off at work, unpacking from holiday trips, and just generally trying to keep your head screwed on.

Meanwhile, my kids will not stop asking for snacks and chocolate. Literally. They average about once an hour. In the morning they want a snack, not breakfast. And around 9am they start saying, “Can we please have chocolate now. We haven’t had any yet today!”

Now that they no longer get their way, they go into full tantrum mode in hopes of recreating the near free-reign eating they experienced during the break when grandparents, uncles and even laid back parents were caving in at every turn.

So now our challenge is to get us all back to eating normally again with a focus on nutritious and delicious meals. Oh yah, and you know me. Fast and easy are key.

Since we’ve all been eating hearty dishes with a lot of flavor and comfort to them over the holidays, I wanted to come up with something that would give our family the same comfort feelings without being full of fat and calories.

Hubs and I came up with this amazing Veggie Quinoa dish that can be used as a side, a full meal (don’t be afraid to add meat) or as Hubs did, as a bed for our roasted leg of lamb a few nights ago. Decadent for a post holiday meal, I know, but it really wasn’t heavy at all.

The flavors, nuttiness, textures and healthy-factor on this dish all add up to perfection for getting back on track at the dinner table this week.

Let me know how you serve it!

Xo,

Diana

Too Good To Be Healthy Veggie Quinoa

 quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1 bag vegetable quinoa mix- I like Roland brand Garden
  • Yellow grape tomatoes cut in half
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Golden raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Top with raw Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
    (amount of added ingredients is all to taste)

 Directions:

  1. Prepare the quinoa mix according to package instructions
  2. Toss in the yellow tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, cranberries and mix
  3. Sprinkle top of each serving with the crispy raw Brussels sprouts

You can follow Totsy’s Chief Mom, Diana Heather on Twitter: @totsymom

5 Ways to Wrap a Gift with Brown Paper Bags

At Totsy, we love to do our part to help the environment. That means recycling everyday, using a water filter to reduce plastic bottle waste, cutting down on printing and planting a tree for every first purchase.  So this year, we decided to forego wrapping paper and reuse paper shopping bags instead to do a small part to help our planet.  Here are some fun ideas we came across on the web when wrapping for the holiday season.  You can use brown paper shopping bags from grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Simply cut them flat, remove the handles and make sure the printed side is facing towards the gift when wrapping.

1.  Glitter Ribbon. Simple and pretty, we love how glitter works beautifully with the brown paper bag. Learn to tie this pretty bow.

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2.  Snowflake overlay. Cutting paper snowflakes is a craft we used to do as kids.  We’re sure your kids will enjoy doing them as well!  Use colored computer paper and supervise as they get creative. Then overlay them to the wrapped gift and tie with simple white string.

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3.  Typographic gift wrap. This is very clean looking and makes the recipient’s name stand out. Read the full post on how to create this simple and crafty gift wrap.

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4. Winter  green.  Sometimes a simple arrangement can go a long way. We love the acorns and touch of sprigs. Find instructions on arrangement here.

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5. DIY printed wrapping paper. Finally, if you’re looking for something with more oomph, try this easy DIY project for patterned wrapping paper. The kids would love this! Get creative!

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Tell us, will you be getting creative this year when wrapping your gifts? Share in the comments below!

5 Unexpected Dangers for Baby

We make sure to have locks on our stoves and plugs for the outlets, but sometimes the most dangerous things for your baby aren’t the most obvious. Here are a few things to look our for that are dangerous to baby.

  1. Baby powder/talc:  They may be great for diapers but they are terrible for lungs. When inhaled, it can irritate the lungs or worse, if there are toxic chemicals or asbestos present.
  2. Canned formula:  Be careful, formula cans may be lined with BPA. If nursing is not an option, try dry powdered formula. Always be on the lookout for BPA-free cans.
  3. Antibacterial Cleaners:  We know you want to keep the nursery germ-free but those antibacterial cleaners can pose unnecessary health risks.  Soap and warm water is usually sufficient when cleaning most surfaces.
  4. Teething Toys:  They may be of great help to your little one when they’re teething but many are made with PVC plastic. Choose teethers made of organic cotton or silicone.
  5. Crib Mattress:  Make sure the mattress is made of natural materials or get a mattress cover to help babies with allergies.

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Tell us, what are some unexpected dangers you’ve discovered?

Wrapping up with The Mother Co. & Parenting Expert, Dr. Robyn Silverman

[Source: Pediatricsafety.com]

[Source: Pediatricsafety.com]

Hi Totsy fans! In case you missed our live Facebook chat with parenting expert Dr. Robyn Silverman, partnered with The Mother Company, here’s a quick summary of some interesting questions and answers!

Question: My 6 year old son has a hard time expanding beyond 1 friend and has difficulty taking social cues and knowing personal space. His school has developed a “playground plan” for him that has just started where he plays with his one friend 2 days a week and others the rest of the week but we have learned that on the alternate days he has played by himself. He does not seem to be bothered by it at all, but we don’t want him to become an outcast or not liked as he gets older. We’ve tried talking to him about it but he still struggles with it. He is very affectionate and seems to be liked by other kids, except when they tell him they don’t want to play anymore he does not take the hint. What else can we do? –Bob Celosky

Dr. Silverman

  1. Diversify and multiply friendship circles.
  2. Encourage him to be a part of something in someway.
  3. Meet up outside of school: Perhaps crowds intimidate him.
  4. Make sure you don’t put your fears on him: If he is happy to be alone some of the time, perhaps that’s something that just works for him.
  5. Challenge him: Challenge him to choose one person who he will talk to or play something with during recess
  6. Ensure that he is spending time with people he likes
  7. Ask for their definition of a good friend

Question: I have a couple of friends who tell me their children (3-6) are drawn to kids that are aggressive and rebellious. How should parents instruct their children? What kind of action, if any, should parents take to guide their children?  -Laurel Moglen

Dr. Silverman: Children like to have fun– so if they see kids looking like they are having fun, they will be drawn to it. Rebellious sometimes seems like fun! But, we need to guide our children to understanding what fun & good choices are and what fun but bad choices are. The biggest question: will it hurt you or someone else?

Question: What would you say are the benefits and drawbacks of the label “bully”?  –Scott Baumgartner

Dr. Silverman: My feeling is that labels can be dangerous. Self fulfilling, if you will. However, someone can be acting like a bully without always being one– just like someone can behave in a shy way without the label “shy”– another label I don’t like. When we say “he IS a bully”, the child wears it like a coat. If you are behaving like a bully, it feels more changeable. Our main thought is to first ask, How do you think that made them feel? Instead, start with, what happened right before you started that vicious rumor? How were you feeling right before you took that action? Ground the action to a feeling.

Question: My daughter is 5 and just started going to pre-k this year. She has always been very independent and loved to go anywhere where she can play with kids, even preschool. Well, she has began to get anxiety and really nervous about going to school. I have even had to beg her to get out of the car when we got there. Her teacher has expressed concern to me about Kendyl acting nervous when they had to do group activities. I want school to be a fun experience for her. – Kristin Hovde

Dr. Silverman: Find out what’s scaring her: Is he scared that he won’t make friends? Getting lost? Being left out? Loud noises? Once we find out the true fear, we can handle it together. Talk about your childhood back to school fears and how you coped: When your child can hear that you had fears and that you dealt with them successfully, it can help her to feel better. Share something that made you feel more confident so she can call up this story or nugget of wisdom when she needs it.  Use a structure: A structure is something tangible that your child can touch when she is feeling nervous. It can be a smooth rock or marble in her pocket or a little something hanging from her belt. Put an association along with that structure. “Every time you touch this, remember to take 3 deep breaths and think of me sitting beside you,” for example.

mindware

[Image: mindware.com]

Great tips from Dr. Silverman:

  • Asking kids AS A COACH can be wonderful instead of lecturing.
  • It’s important for kids to understand their definition of “friend.” What is it that they are really looking for?
  • We need to ask our children to reflect on choices they’ve made as a practice. “That was fun…and it was a good choice!” or “that might have been fun…but what was the consequence?”
  • I think it’s important for parents to step back and get their children to think. It’s a way of teaching accountability and empathy. Instead of providing the answer, ask questons. Takes patience. What did you do? What happened when you did that? What did you learn from that? What will you do next time?
  • Who do you want to be thought of as a person? What words do you hope come to mind when people think of you? Then they must act accordingly. Have them write it down. It is what they must aspire to.

More Resources:

The Mother Company Facebook Chat: “Friendship” with Dr. Robyn Silverman

Join Totsy & The Mother Company for a  co-hosted Facebook chat on the Totsy Facebook page!

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We’ll be discussing the topic of kids and FRIENDSHIP with parenting expert Dr. Robyn Silverman, who provides parents with essential tools to guide their children in developing happy & healthy relationships. Join us!

For a sneak peek of our Facebook chat topics, check out Dr. Silverman’s guest post on The Mother Company blog today. She answers questions such as:

  • How can parents best teach their young children (3-6) how to meet other children?
  • How can we steer our children toward healthy friendships?  Making friends with people who will be good to them?

To see the full list of questions & answers, please check out the original post on The Mother Company website!  And check out “Ruby’s Studio:  The Friendship Show”, now available on DVD and download as part of The Mother Company’s award-winning line of children’s products.

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