Choosing Safe Toys for All Ages

Is it just us, or does your holiday gift list seem to keep growing each year?

There’s all those 2016 babies that your family and friends have brought in to the world; all those new ‘best friends’ that your little ones have made; perhaps even new kids in the neighborhood to buy for now.

Despite best intentions, there aren’t always enough hours in the day to keep on top of the list, meaning there is always an inevitable last minute gift dash, be it in-store or online.

With thousands of toys to choose from, and budgets to be mindful of, it’s tempting to just grab the first bargain you see. But, is it going to be safe?

And are the toys your own kids receive going to be safe?

The truth is, toys can pose serious health risks if they aren’t properly made or designed. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were about 254,200* toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2015 – 73 percent happened to children under the age of 15 and 35 percent happened to children under the age of 5.

With this in mind, here are some toy buying, and toy receiving, tips for the holiday season:

  • Check the toy for age, skill level, and developmental appropriateness before purchasing, or before allowing them to be played with
  • Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off. Toys should have no sharp edges and be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed, or being pulled apart
  • Look for safety inspection labels – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards
  • For children under three, avoid toys with small parts which can cause choking. This includes magnets, deflated balloons and button batteries. Rule of thumb: If the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids under age three
  • Do not give toys with ropes and cords or heating elements
  • If you are going to buy sports equipment for older kids, always accompany it with protective gear: e.g helmet (sized to fit) and kneepads with a skateboard. Or if budget doesn’t allow, speak to the parents about the additional safety purchases needed before use
  • Be aware of lead in toys and educate yourself not only about the type of toys that have been recalled / those most likely to contain lead in the paint, but also the symptoms of lead poisoning
  • Do not give crayons and markers unless they are labeled “nontoxic”.

If you are worried, confused, or simply stuck on ideas for age appropriate holiday toys, then please pop in to our Boutique, where our girls will be more than happy to help you complete that ever growing gift list!

*Cuts, scrapes, and bruises were the most common toy-related injuries, with most injuries affecting the head or face. Out of a total of 50 categories of toys, non-motorized scooters were involved in one out of every four injuries

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The Magic of Christmas Eve

While it’s without doubt the most wonderful time of the year, December can also feel the loooongest month for kids. And therefore the most exhausting for parents. Little ones, with no concept of time, can wake up wondering every day if today is the big day that they have been hearing about for so long! The tree is ready, they are ready…what’s the holdup mom? WHERE’S SANTA!? Cue a few frustrations and disappointments…. and maybe a few medicinal beverages for mom and dad.

But good news guys – we are nearly in the home stretch. Christmas Eve is getting so close we can almost smell the Santa cookies!

Every household does Christmas Eve in their own unique way, with many families repeating special holiday traditions on this night. It’s the good stuff that warm, fuzzy forever memories are made of.

What Christmas Eve traditions do you have in your home? 

Perhaps you are looking to add to them, or even start a brand new one this year? If so, check out a few of our favorite traditions below.  We dare you not to feel like an overexcited kid at Christmas after reading them:

  • Magic Reindeer Food –As well as leaving out treats for Santa, get your little one to mix some oats, dry cereal, glitter and colored sugar together and sprinkle it on the lawn / patio before bed time. Tell them it’s the sparkly glitter that helps keep reindeer flying. When the littles finally go to bed, sweep it up and show them how hungry Rudolph and his crew were the next morning.
  • Cozy New Pajamas – Every kid wants to look their best for when Santa stops by, so why not treat yours to a brand new pair of festive pajamas on Christmas Eve. Wrap them and let them open the gift just before bedtime – guaranteed sweet Santa dreams! PS, we are ALL for cute matching family pajamas here. ‘Tis the Season!
  • Magic Key – Reassure those children who don’t have a chimney that Santa will still be able to deliver all those toys. Buy an oversized key and tell your littles that it’s a magic key to the house that they can leave out for Santa. Get them to wrap it and leave it on the front porch, and watch their faces when they see it opened and the key returned on the tree.
  • Santa Evidence – Leave even more evidence for the kids to find on Christmas morning. Take some flower or powdered sugar and sprinkle it around boots to leave snowy footprints in the house. Or if you would prefer less mess, why not use this website http://www.capturethemagic.com/ – it allows you to put Santa in YOUR own picture of your home, so you can tell the kids that you caught Santa on camera, and actually show them!
  • Track Santa – Not only is this is great fun, it’s a great geography lesson – for mom and dad too! Cozy up together and track exactly where Santa is in the world on Christmas Eve using this website: http://www.noradsanta.org/

Have magical fun families – especially those who are parents for the first time this Christmas. You thought Christmas was great as a kid, but just wait and see, it gets even better with kids!

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Say Cheese…PLEASE?

It’s official. Santa Claus is in town! In fact, he was spotted looking very jolly at Babies in Bloom on December 3rd.  This can only mean one thing – it’s Christmas family photo time.

When you’ve spent painstaking hours perfectly coordinating your family’s outfits – and matching festive accessories.  And when you’ve spent all that time finding the right location, the right photographer, or even waiting in line to finally meet old Saint Nick, it should be as simple as one, two, three, cheese…right?

Well, not always.  Your kids might have different ideas on the day. Cue the photo frowns. Sometimes, there’s simply not a smile to be found.

But don’t worry, if you’ve not had your festive photos done yet, we are arming you with five top tips from your friendly local photographer Kelsey Smith on how to get the best (and most authentic) smiles for your Christmas photos. Parents, take note:

  • Potty Humor – It’s crude and oh-so-effective. Asking who let the stinker out, whose feet are the smelliest, and making fart noises are the number one laugh inducers for most kids.
  • Movement – Tickling is one of my absolute favorite ways to get a family well on their way to a giggle fest. Putting everyone close together and telling them to tickle the person closest to them will get you winning smiles and laughs every single time. Have the kids have a dance off to loosen them up and get some pretty amazing smiles. Jump up and down and generally make a fool of yourself, the kids will love it.
  • Telling Kids Not to Smile – Honestly, this usually cracks even the most serious of kids. Especially the ones that aren’t happy to be there in the first place.
  • Singing – At the top of your lungs, usually the opening song from the Lion King, as off key as you can possibly muster.
  • Let it Go – Focusing on getting that perfect look-at-the-camera smile can cause you to miss the in-between moments. And those are the sweetest ones.

Wise words from a mom of three and a pro. The proof is in the pudding – take a moment to check out Kelsey’s website or Facebook page to see all the beaming little smiles she captures.  She runs family, maternity and lifestyle newborn sessions right here in San Diego, all year round.

Happy Holidays folks!

 

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Thankful Ever After

Amidst turkey gobbling and pie indulgence, we’ll all be taking a rare moment this week to just STOP! Alongside our nearest and dearest (and perhaps in some cases, the ones who test our patience the most! ????), we will be remembering just how lucky we are this Thanksgiving.

As parents or parents-to-be, we have so much extra to be grateful for – those kicks, those smiles, those cuddles, those tiny little hands in ours, as well as those bigger hands who might pretend they don’t need us so much anymore.

It feels good doesn’t it? Taking a moment to reflect on what we have. You’re rich! I bet, you promise yourself every year that you will do it more often…but c’mon, raise your hands, how many of us stick to it?

The truth is, life is busy. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in work deadlines, feeding schedules, school runs, meal plans, unexpected diaper explosions, laundry, tantrums, playtime….we’re exhausted just typing it! Parenting feels like a lot of giving, giving, giving. And sometimes, we seem to give everything BUT thanks when we are deep down in the parenting trenches.

If like us, you’re determined to try a little harder this year, you might enjoy this article we discovered on Aha! Parenting. It’s all about establishing family gratitude traditions, for Thanksgiving and beyond.

We LOVE the idea of starting a family gratitude jar (#3) on the list. Can you imagine sitting down at the end of the year, opening up the jar and reading aloud all the good things, feelings and thoughts (big and small) that you’ve each felt this year? All those forgotten smiles and blessings REVIVED! What a tonic for even the toughest of years.

#6 Appreciation photo is a favorite of ours too. And if you have a tiny budding photographer in your household, you could get them involved. Find out what’s beautiful and magical in your little one’s eyes when you set them loose with a camera. This will open your mind to all the hidden beauties of the world that us busy grown-ups can sometimes miss.

Our take out from this article is that it’s not enough to simply promise to remember to be more grateful. We need to change our habits, and ultimately, change our mind set. In regularly incorporating grateful ‘tasks’ like the gratitude jar in to our lives, we will gently reprogram our brains and find ourselves counting our blessings more often! And if we can trickle this mindset down to our children, and get them involved, what a wonderful, healthy and happy foundation to grow upon!

There’s no better time to begin than Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVNG EVERYONE! We hope it’s a special one to remember.

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