Friday, November 30, 2018

Best Toys for Children

The holidays are approaching fast, which leads many adults wondering what to purchase for the children in their life.  With big toy stores now becoming obsolete, window-shopping is now difficult, making the task of choosing that perfect gift even more daunting.  Are you looking for some simple ideas for the children in your life? Something that will stand the test of time and that children will play with again and again? Look no further!  

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following five basic categories of toys for young children:

  1. Blocks and building toys: Lincoln Logs, Legos, basic wooden blocks, Duplo, etc.  Studies show that children that play with building toys at a young age do better in math, especially algebra in middle school.
  2. Puzzles and problem-solving toys:  As children solve puzzles, they sharpen their problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, fine-motor skills, shape recognition, memory, spatial awareness and more.  For toddlers, puzzles with 4 to 12 pieces are best, while preschoolers enjoy more complex puzzles with 12 to 20 or more pieces.  Also, look for toys with latches, locks, hooks, buttons, snaps, etc. for children to manipulate.
  3. Pretend play items:  Dress-up clothes, hats, cooking utensils, cash registers, baby dolls, microphones, etc. Children build social and emotional skills, learning to share, take turns, and learn complex problem-solving skills when participating in dramatic play.
  4. Items that inspire creation: crayons and paper, paints, playdoh and clay, harmonicas, maracas, etc.  Items that spark creativity in children help children to develop fine motor skills, math and language skills.
  5. Large motor play items: bikes, balls, bats, carpentry sets, hula hoops, tunnels to climb through, etc.  We all know that regular exercise leads to a healthy weight.  In addition, participation in large motor activities has been found to improve attention and memory and increase academic performance. 

Follow this link read the entire MSU Extension Early Childhood Development article, courtesy of Carrie Shrier. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Thanksgiving Wreaths

For the month of November, we have been making Thanksgiving wreaths during Playgroups. 
This super easy craft can be made with real or fake leaves and any decor that you choose. Just add your decorations to a paper plate with glue, attach a string at the top, and you have the perfect wreath for your holiday festivities! 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Baby's First Tooth!

There are so many exciting moments when watching a baby grow - first laugh, first time rolling over, first taste of real baby food, and that first tooth poking through!  For most parents and babies, the process of teething can be stressful.  Some children cut teeth without batting an eye, but others have an extremely hard time with it.  
Oftentimes, parents mistake teething for illness.  The fussiness can definitely seem like symptoms of something much greater.  Of course, always be cautious and let an expert diagnose your child if you are concerned.  

What's Normal?

Most babies begin teething around 4 to 6 months and teething is usually complete at 2 1/2 years old.  Baby teeth remain in place until permanent teeth begin replacing them around age 6.  

Signs of Teething

The desire to bite on hard objects
Increased finger-sucking
Bruises on the gums
Trouble sleeping
Low-grade fever
Decreased appetite

Soothing Your Baby

Most babies are back to normal a few days after the new tooth appears.  In the meantime, try the following to comfort your little one:

Increased cuddling and close play time
Teething rings 
Frozen washcloth
Baby Orajel or Anbesol

Caring for Baby's New Teeth

Believe it or not, the best time to start your child on the right path to proper teeth brushing starts as soon as that first tooth appears.  You don't have to buy a toothbrush at this young age.  There are special finger brushes made especially for infants that you can use, or just use a washcloth or gauze to gently clean the new tooth after each meal and as part of your bedtime ritual.  At the start, just moisten the brush or cloth with water or, if you wish, use a rice-grain size of cavity-preventing fluoride toothpaste.  As your infant grows a little older, add a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. For more information on brushing baby's teeth, or tips on helping a toddler learn to brush independently, and that all-important first dental visit, visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.