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Nutritional Supplements for Kids – Part 2

Nutritional Supplements for Kids – Part 2Not all children need nutritional supplements, especially if they are getting a well-rounded diet. However, if your kids’ diet is lacking or if they have specific physical, behavioral or neurological issues you want to address, some out of the ordinary nutritional supplements for kids may be a good choice for your family. Check out these off the beaten path nutritional supplements for kids and be sure to consult your pediatrician before starting any new supplements.

Gelatin: It may sound weird that the ingredient in Jell-O and gummy candies, gelatin, is a nutritional supplement for kids. When it’s not surrounded by all that sugar, gelatin is marvelous for your kids’ digestive system and supports strong skin, hair and nails. You can add it to almost any drink and works particularly well in smoothies.

Probiotics:  If your child struggles with GI issues, a probiotics may be the first step in trying to heal the gut. Probiotics help populate the gastrointestinal tract with healthy flora and combat some of the harmful bacteria that enter our bodies. Probiotics aid the immune system that resides in the gut too.

Magnesium: Sleep issues have their own set of nutritional supplements for kids to help balance the sleep-wake cycle. Magnesium is terrific for soothing kids to sleep. It comes as a traditional capsule or you can get a spray-on version that absorbs directly into the skin. Epsom salt baths contain a good deal of magnesium and are another option for getting this restful nutrient.

Melatonin: Another great sleep aid that you may have heard of for adults is Melatonin. It is a hormone your body naturally produces but your child may need more of it if her sleep patterns are out of whack. It can also help curb defiant, aggressive and hyperactive behavior.

Cod Liver Oil: Your kids may not like this one but it’s actually amazing for their health. Cod Liver Oil, the oil extracted from cod, is a tremendous source of omega-3 fatty acids and also boasts a good deal of Vitamin A and D. It is known to enhance moods and support cognition. If a spoonful isn’t a hit in your house, try blending it into food or spreading it on a sweet snack.

Zinc: Zinc offers stellar neurological and behavioral benefits for children including counteraction of the urge for hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It also reduces copper in the brain that can lead to unwanted behavior and attention deficient issues. Zinc is naturally found in dairy products, meat, chicken and shellfish.

Sources: Wellness Mama, LiveStrong, Medical News Today, WebMD, ChildrensMD and Mayo Clinic

Nutritional Supplements for Kids – Part 1

Nutritional Supplements for Kids – Part 1Nutritional supplements for kids are a highly debated topic. While ideally children get all the body-loving vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, phyto-nutrients, and essential fatty acids from their wholesome, well-balanced non-toxic diet, we all know that’s not always the case. Between our grab-n-go meal plans and increasingly picky eaters, kids don’t always eat the way we wish they did. And let’s face it, we don’t always offer the healthiest choices either. That’s when nutritional supplements for kids can be useful.

This week we’re reviewing the leading traditional nutritional supplements for kids as well as some off-the-beaten-path options you may want to consider.

To Supplement or Not to Supplement

Keep in mind that your child may not need a nutritional supplement at all. If you’re unsure, consult your pediatrician as your doctor may want to test for deficiencies before you begin a new supplement regimen. However, if your child is on a restrictive diet due to allergies or personal lifestyle choices (like vegetarianism, veganism or dairy-free), has physical growth issues, or has a chronic disease, a daily supplement is probably a good choice. Also, parents of kids who don’t consume a well-balanced diet, eat lots of fast food, or drink carbonated sodas that strip away nutrients should consider supplements as well.

Traditional Nutritional Supplements for Kids

If you plan to implement a nutritional supplement for your kiddos, a multi-vitamin is a good choice. Alternatively you can pick and choose the supplements you want for your kids by going for one-ingredient capsules, powders, gels or oils. The most common traditional nutritional supplements for kids include:

  • Vitamin A: This antioxidant supports the immune system and promotes healthy eyes and skin, in addition to normal bodily functions. Vitamin A is found in eggs, dairy products and many bright yellow and orange vegetables.
  • Vitamins B: The B-complex vitamins are crucial for the metabolism, nervous system and circulatory system. Kids usually get Vitamin B from all types of meat, eggs, beans and nuts.
  • Vitamin C: Another important antioxidant immune booster, Vitamin C is also needed for skin, tissue and muscle growth. It is common in citrus fruits, tomatoes and green vegetables.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D goes hand in hand with calcium to support bone development and it helps with the absorption of other essential nutrients. It is found in fatty fish, diary products and sunlight.
  • Calcium: Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth. Children ages 1 to 18 should get 2 to 4 servings of calcium daily, depending on their age. Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, as well as soy products.
  • Iron: Iron is critical for the production of red blood cells and muscle growth. Your kids can get iron from beef, turkey, beans, spinach and prunes.
  • DHA: DHA is a type of Omega-3 fatty acid that supports cognition, focus and proper organ function. DHA is naturally found in fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines.

Stick around later this week as we share less common nutritional supplements for kids.

Sources: Wellness Mama, LiveStrong, Medical News Today, WebMD, ChildrensMD and Mayo Clinic

Family Road Trip Hacks 3

Parents with babies may be especially anxious about taking a family road trip. Between navigating naps, feedings and “restless car seat syndrome,” you may be dreading hours in the car with your baby. We’re here to help make things a little easier with our family road trip hacks specific to babies.

Baby-Specific Family Road Trip Hacks

Family Road Trip Hacks 3Your tiniest family member may need some extra preparation to ensure a smooth ride on your family vacation. Try to spend a bit of time in the back seat playing with your baby. The stimulation may help pass the time. Here are some ideas to help out when you can’t be front and center:

Strategic Planning: Surely your diaper bag will be stocked for your trip but have you thought about planning around your baby’s schedule? Experienced moms recommend stopping around 30 minutes before a usual nap time to change, feed and stretch your baby. With a fresh diaper, full belly and a little mommy time, your baby may have an easier time napping in the car. Encourage everyone to rest while baby is sleeping (except the driver of course) so that no one wakes her. Some parents even put on a second diaper to ensure babies don’t leak during long car trips.

Sippy and Snack Cup Lasso: If your little one is able to drink from a sippy cup and pop snacks in her mouth, tether cups to her car seat or her seat’s handle or door so she can easily retrieve them if they are tossed about.

Cookie Sheet Activity Tray: Much like the game board idea for older kids, you can create a magnetic tabletop for your baby as well. Add magnets to blocks, shapes and other fun objects your baby enjoys and let her play away during your family road trip. You can even secure the tray to your baby’s seat with Velcro straps.

Tissue Box: As you know, your baby loves pulling things out of a box. (Hopefully she enjoys putting them back as well.) Give her a box of tissues and let her pull them out one by one for a safe and quiet activity.

Best and the Brightest: Buy a few new toys and bring along your baby’s absolute favorites for the road trip. This is the time to bust out your best stuff. Consider taping fun pictures to the seat in front of your baby or string items from the ceiling of your car that your baby can enjoy. Just make sure nothing heavy will fall on your baby and avoid any objects where she may get tangled.

Pom Pom Stuff: Grab a bag of colorful craft pom poms and a container with a small hole. Your baby will enjoy putting the pom poms in the hole and pushing them down. A clear container will allow her to see her work.

Sibling Play: Engage your older kids to help out with the baby. Provide puppets, books, and other fun toys that your bigs can show your little one. Although the play time may only last a few minutes, it can be just the distraction your baby needs to snap out of a fussy mood.

Music Class: Babies particularly motivated by music may enjoy a family sing-a-long. Make a list of songs everyone can sing together and have a music session whenever your baby starts getting fussy. Around family no one cares if you sing out of tune!

We hope these family road trip hacks are helpful as you hit the road this summer!

Sources: Life Hack, Your Modern Family, Kids Activities Blog, Momtastic, Choose to Thrive, Life Through My Eyes, Huffington Post, Moms 365, Child Development Institute, and What to Expect

Family Road Trip Hacks 2

School’s almost out and summer is just weeks away. If you have a family road trip planned, you’ll want to be super prepared to keep your kids happy and busy during the ride. Yesterday we shared activities and snack ideas for your family road trip. Today we’re helping you survive the ride without the annoying “are we there yet?” question and more.

“Are We There Yet?” Hacks

Family Road Trip Hacks 2Nothing frazzles parents more than the constant drone of the question, “are we there yet?” Before the trip, set some clear behavior expectations for kids who are old enough to understand. Then steer your kids away from that dreaded question towards a more productive way to smell the roses along the journey with these hacks:

Follow Along Map: Involve your children in the drive by providing a laminated road map of your route. Let your kiddos follow along with a marker as you get closer and closer to your destination. If you are passing major landmarks, add them to the map so your kids can conceptualize how different parts of the country connect.

Mile Marker Rewards: Before your trip, make surprise bags filled with small items you know your kids will enjoy. As you reach certain predetermined mile markers, reward good behavior with a surprise bag. When someone starts to act out, remind them they may miss their chance at a goodie bag. Hopefully this shapes up their attitude ASAP.

Set the Timer: Let your kids know when to expect breaks by giving them a time range for pit stops, meals and sight-seeing. If they are emerging time-tellers, this can be a great way to practice. Otherwise, set a timer on your mobile phone or bring along a wake-up clock that will turn green when it’s time for a break.

Other Sanity Hacks

Still need more ideas to survive a family road trip? Try these clever suggestions:

Pulley System: Never cramp your neck again by awkwardly passing items to the back seat. Kids and parents love this fun way to send snacks and other supplies from the front to the back of the car. Rig a pulley system along the inside roof and attach a bucket to transport goods.

Inflatable Naps: If you’re headed to the beach and you’re bringing a raft, use it on the road as a nap mat. Inflate it and lay it in the back seat for a quick rest before heading back on your journey.

Survival Supplies: Sometimes successful road trips are all about survival of the fittest. Make sure you have the survival supplies you need including duct tape, binder clips, safety pins, rubber bands, cling wrap, zip bags, bandages, wipes and lots of accessible extra clothes. Moms can fix almost any problems with these supplies on hand.

Wait, that’s not all of the family road trip hacks we have up our sleeves. Get the scoop on keeping your baby happy on the road tomorrow as we finish our family road trip hacks series.

Sources: Life Hack, Your Modern Family, Kids Activities Blog, Momtastic, Choose to Thrive, Life Through My Eyes, Huffington Post, Moms 365, Child Development Institute, and What to Expect

Family Road Trip Hacks 1

Family Road Trip Hacks 1It’s almost time for family road trip season…are you ready? Taking a family road trip is both exiting and daunting at the same time. It’s fun to get out of town for adventures together, but traveling with little ones can leave parents needing a serious adults-only vacation when it’s all said and done. The best way to ensure your family makes the most of a road trip is being prepared. This week we’re sharing clever family road trip hacks that will help you enjoy the ride.

Ride Along Activity Hacks

The biggest issue with family road trips is usually boredom. Have an arsenal of fun activities prepared for your kids to keep them entertained, occupied and otherwise happy during the ride.

Child-Specific Activity Bin/Backpack: House the plethora of activities you bring along for each child in a bin they can easily reach or an open backpack hung over the seat in front of them. Combine necessary supplies in storage bags to ensure your child can quickly grab an activity without fumbling around for things they need. For example, if you bring along paper and art supplies, put them together in a bag as a one-stop art kit. Older kids may enjoy an activity binder where they can doodle, do fun (dare we say educational) worksheets or puzzles.

Magnetic Game Board: If family game night is when your fam is at it’s best, recreate the scene in the car by magnetizing your games. For traditional board games, find a printable image of the game board and laminate it. Use magnets to secure it to a cookie sheet. Don’t forget to bring along whatever cards, dice, score cards and other supplies your games require. This also works beautifully for puzzles or DIY art designs. Place a magnet on the back of each puzzle piece or on a variety of art supplies like craft sticks, pom poms, pipe cleaners, etc… Let your kids design cool things over and over again!

Portable Lego Kit: Place a lego building board at the bottom of a tin lunch box or any other portable, sealable box. Your kids can build using the lego board as a base and store extra legos right in the box.

Family Scavenger Hunt: Print off a list of items you may see along the way during your road trip. Let the kids check off or tally up what they see along the way. This can be fun and interactive for all.

Read A-Longs: Listen to a book on tape that is age-appropriate for all family members. Ask questions and talk about what’s happening during pit stops.

Rotating Build-a-Story: Tell a story together by sharing a few ideas and then passing it off to another family member. By the end you’ll probably have one wacky tale!

Private Screening: If you’re willing to offer some screen time and you have multiple viewers, there’s no need to hook up a portable TV or purchase a DVD player. Simply clip your tablet to a visor so everyone can see and enjoy the show. This is also a good way to look up information along your trip as well.

No Fuss, No Muss Eating/Cleaning-Up On-the-Go Hacks

Eating on-the-go is a great way to save money, keep your kids occupied and ensure everyone has the nourishment they need to stay in a great mood for a family road trip. Avoid cranky kids and messy situations with these hacks:

Grub Supply Bag: Before leaving, pack a re-sealable bag with everything you would need to eat on the road including paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, straws, etc… Make sure you have clean-up supplies as well, such as wipes for sticky hands and spills.

Wearable Snacks: This snack idea is fun to put together before your trip and makes snacking in route easier. Let the kids string cereal, pretzels and anything else with a hole in the middle to make snack bracelets or necklaces. Whenever they are hungry they can bite off a few pieces.

Snack Bento Box: Fill up a compartmentalized box (think tackle box or bead box) with a variety of snacks. This will be a fun way for your kids to graze and you can ensure balanced snacking along the way. Items like raisin, pea crisps, freeze-dried fruit, crackers and nuts are all great for a snack bento box.

Line your Cup Holders: Avoid melted lollipops in your up holders by lining them with silicone cupcake wrappers. When the trip is over, you can wash them and at least your cup holders will remain clean.

We have more great family road trip hacks coming your way tomorrow so stick around!

Sources: Life Hack, Your Modern Family, Kids Activities Blog, Momtastic, Choose to Thrive, Life Through My Eyes, Huffington Post, Moms 365, Child Development Institute, and What to Expect

How Mother’s Day Changes Throughout Your Life

How Mother’s Day Changes Throughout Your LifeHappy Mother’s Day! With the special holiday just two days away, you may be feeling particularly mushy about your role as a mom. Perhaps you’re thinking about how you celebrated Mother’s Day as a child, how your children are honoring you, and what Mother’s Day will be like when your kids are grown. Mother’s Day changes throughout your life as you go from being mothered to becoming a mother and maybe even a grandmother one day.

Whether this is your first Mother’s Day or 50th, it feels good to be honored for all the love you put into motherhood. Gratitude for moms comes in many ways, some less traditional than we might hope, but Mother’s Day is like the Academy Awards of celebrating moms and you’re getting the golden statue.

As a young child you probably followed the lead of others to determine how to celebrate your mom. Perhaps you made your mother something in school or your dad planned a special surprise that you executed together with your siblings. While you always felt the love for your mom, a holiday designated for moms helped you demonstrate these feelings.

Eventually, finding meaningful ways to celebrate your mom in middle school, high school and beyond was up to you. Giving cards, making gifts, and doing nice things for mom were all in order. She didn’t expect or even desire elaborate gifts but the thoughtfulness behind your efforts were what really mattered.

Somewhere in your 20s you may have started to wonder what it would be like to be a mom – having the responsibility of another life constantly in your hands. That certainly seems like something to celebrate. Will you be a good mom? Will you live up to your mother’s example or will you learn from her mistakes? What kind of mom do you want to be?

And then, somewhere in your 20s, 30s or 40s, you have kids and those dreams of motherhood become a reality. Now you understand the labor of love your mom put into raising you and you may have a newfound respect for all that she did for you in life. Between sleepless nights and breastfeeding, tempering your tantrums, helping with homework and guiding you to make good choices, you quickly learn the meaning of motherhood. Being celebrated on Mother’s Day feels so good and so right, at least for one day of your life as you reflect on the joys of having a family.

As the days pass slowly but the years seem to fly away, you find yourself with older and grown children who are now figuring ways of their own to show their love on Mother’s Day. Perhaps this is the greatest gift of all – discovering the baby you nurtured into an adult is capable of love and gratitude, especially for dear sweet mom.

Motherhood changes you in so many ways and Mother’s Day certainly changes throughout your years too. We hope you embrace whatever stage of motherhood you’re in this year and have a spectacular Mother’s Day!

Why You Should Limit Juice for your Kids

When you have a hard time getting your kids to eat fruits and vegetables, reaching for a juiced version may seem like a healthy and simple way to ensure your kids are getting the nutrients they need. But before you rely too heavily on juice, find out why you should limit juice for your kids.

As you browse the juice selections in the grocery store you’ll see many varieties of 100% fruit and vegetable juices. Sounds amazing, right? Most of the labels are probably telling the truth, however they are not telling the whole truth. The whole truth is that packaged juices don’t contain whole fruits.

During the commercial juicing process, fiber and many other nutrients are eliminated from fruits and vegetables. In order to achieve the liquid consistency, much of the fiber is stripped away and packaged juice is heated at extremely high temperatures for pasteurization purposes, which boils off many of the excellent nutrients including vitamins and enzymes found in whole fruits.

Why You Should Limit Juice for your KidsWhat’s left is the sweet sugar – albeit natural – that makes juice taste so good. But there are some issues with all that concentrated sugar. First, it will elevate your kids’ blood sugar levels. The initial “sugar rush” may seem like a good pick-me-up for energy, but this spike often results in hyperactivity. Then, as the sugar cycles through your child’s system, he’ll come crashing down, leading to even more behavioral side-effects. Sugar spikes are not good for your child’s body either. Food that maintains blood glucose balance is ideal for excellent body function, cognition and behavior.

Of course, with all that sugar comes a lot of extra calories. Active, growing children certainly need plenty of calories but they should be from nutrient-dense foods rather than straight sugary foods. Excess calories are stored as fat, which can lead to obesity. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the U.S. and is a risk factor for diseases, especially diabetes. Type 2 diabetes in children is highly preventable based on good lifestyle habits such as a healthy diet and exercise.

It’s also important to limit juice for your kids because filling up on juice may prohibit healthier, well-balanced food choices. Your children might come to expect constant sweet tastes, which can lead to bad eating habits and the expectation of regular treats. Plus, continual concentrated sugar swishing around in your child’s mouth may contribute to tooth decay.

Does that mean your kids should NEVER have juice? Not necessarily. It’s certainly a parenting call you’ll have to make. An occasional juice treat is not going to hurt your child, especially if it is viewed as a special indulgence like dessert. If you do allow it, limit juice for your kids to 4-6 ounces daily for ages one to six, and no more than 8 ounces per day for ages seven and older. Babies under one should not have juice and never serve juice in a bottle as this can leave extra sugary residue on your child’s teeth. Also, stick to 100% fruit and vegetable juices. They still have sugar but at least it will come from real foods not added sugary substances. If you’re up for it, try making your own juices at home.

An occasional juice box or cup of juice is OK as a special treat, but limit juice for your kids and stick to water and milk as their main drink options.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Hollywood Homestead, and BabyCenter

Hilarious Pregnancy Moments

Hilarious Pregnancy MomentsPregnancy is such a sacred time in your life…and it can also be downright LOL funny! From the adorable things that siblings and husbands do and say, to the hormone-induced mistakes moms-to-be make, you’ve probably experienced an amusing or comical situation (or two or three) during your pregnancy. We asked our Facebook fans to share some of their hilarious pregnancy moments and we have to admit, they are side-splitting.

Check out these hilarious pregnancy moments from our Leading Lady fans:

“My son, who is 3, has been trying to understand about the baby in my belly. He coughed the other day while laying next to my stomach and told me, “Oh no mommy! Now the baby is going to get sick!” It was funny and sweet all at once!”  -Aley

“I used the opposite side of the blade on the knife to cut a cooked chicken breast and was wondering why I was so exhausted cutting it halfway through until my husband cut in and caught me holding the knife upside down lol”  -Dori

“At the end of my last pregnancy my boobs leaked a little and I was so fascinated. I showed my husband who was more :-~ than :-)”  -Jennifer

“My 3 year old thinks that if she does more chores around the house that the baby will be a boy! She has been keeping my house clean!”  -Katelyn

“With my oldest I wore two different shoes to work because I could not see my feet.”  –Rebekah

“My most hilarious pregnancy moment was being pregnant during summer and cutting my waist length hair up to my ears because I was hot…lol! Yes, I can laugh about it now but I cried then!”  -Phyllis

“My brain stops working completely. I have forgotten what the dryer, and washing machine are called, and other every day, super easy things. The funny part is when I’m trying to explain what I’m talking about. “you know that this with the clothes that spins around and around” lol”   -Jenn

“One time I was watching AFV and a baby was eating spaghetti.  The poor baby sneezed and the noodle came out from his nose…I started to laughed and then cry my eyes out….my 7 year old daughter looked at me and asked: why are you crying mom? I said…Oh because is so funny….and so sad….buuuaaaaaaaa!!!!! I cried for like 15min after…because the poor baby had a noodle on his nose….crazy prego hormones!!!”  -Magali

“My hilarious moment so far with the pregnancy was when my husband wanted to cuddle me and the baby kept on moving inside my tummy which made him uncomfortable and scared and just move away from me.”  –Afsha

“I stood in front of those new fancy soda machines and couldn’t figure out how to get water out. Never mind the big blinking ‘Push’ sign right in front of me. I had already gotten ice and after staring for way too long tried to get water the same way I got ice (I even jumped- I surprised myself with ice coming out and not water). It was not a proud moment.”  –Julie

“I cried because my husbands game World of Warcraft was “so pretty”  -Kumari

“Towards the end of my last pregnancy, around 38 weeks and huge, I dropped a glass of water in the kitchen and yelled to my hubby that my water had broke. He was not nearly as amused as I was.”  –Staci

“It’s not super funny but I have to try and laugh about it. I’m only about 11 weeks but next youngest is 9 months. I’ve had to ask my mom to help change his diapers when the nausea is super bad after throwing up from the smell.”  –Ashley

“My daughter felt my son kick for the first time recently (my third baby, second boy, is due in August) and said, “Mommy, your belly is grumbling. Do you need a snack?” Lol”  -Christine

“With my previous pregnancy I was pretty much around my due date and my oldest asked me to change the batteries on one of his toys. So I took a battery and put in on my lap. The battery fell in between my legs and all of a sudden I hear a hissing sound and my thighs all wet. Thought my water broke but the battery burst. Scary at first but funny after.  This pregnancy my oldest went to the sonogram with me all excited to see the baby. He walked into hospital all ready to see the baby. Little did he know (he’s only 3) that baby was on a computer. The tech put the baby on screen and he was like “what is this a cockroach! It’s a cockroach! Where’s the baby!”  We burst out laughing lol”  -Marianna

“My 2yr old thinks that the exercise ball can only be used by me (to sit on or put my feet up) so when my husband uses it she takes it from under his feet and rolls it to me. She then proceeds to ask if the baby is sleeping or “mooooving.”  -Hannah

“Forgot my own name and address at the office. Took a few to remember I felt like a fool. My mind is just literally racing.”  –Mary

“I had a very rough pregnancy but for me the funniest part is that I constantly forget what things are called or words I’m trying to say. So trying to explain what I want to say can get funny.”  –Jenifer

“April fools day this year I asked my husband’s mom to go tell him that my water broke. He ran so fast I’m not sure he even touched the ground. When he got to the house where he could see me I was standing there trying very hard to not pee myself laughing. He said that wasn’t funny. Everyone else laughed!”  -Debbie

“My husband and I were blessed to find out that we are expecting a little boy. I was told for 18 years that it would be impossible for me to conceive. Well Baby Azariah is very active. Last week we had our funny moment. I kept feeling weird sensations around my belly button. After hours I figured it out. He had shifted around and was shoving his butt against my belly button. Well the chronic pain disorder that I have was causing muscle spasms and just as he shoved his butt out my stomach muscles spasmed and locked his little butt in place. He started wiggling trying to get his butt loose. I could feel him squirming around, arms and legs going so fast as he tried to get loose. I can only imagine what he was thinking. It was the funniest thing to watch his butt poking out.”  –Chelsy

Why Do Newborns have Crossed Eyes?

If you notice your newborn giving you cross-eyed stares every now and then, don’t be alarmed. It is normal for newborns to have crossed eyes or at least appear to have crossed eyes for their first few months of life.

Why do newborns have crossed eyes?

Like the rest of their bodies, newborns eyes are rather uncoordinated. Their eyes don’t always align to focus on an object, especially one that is close. This can result in moments of crossed eyes. As vision and the brain-eye connection mature, the crossed eyes gradually Why Do Newborns have Crossed Eyes?fade away. Usually by around four months babies begin to track objects and both eyes align to do so.

However, the appearance of crossed eyes doesn’t actually mean it’s happening. More often than not, babies’ eyes are actually aligned but they seemed to be crossed due to extra folds of skin at the corner of their eyes. The eye folds eventually disappear and so does the appearance of crossed eyes. Also, babies have flat nasal bridges – designed for breastfeeding! – which can make the eyes look crossed from a certain angle.

When to be concerned about crossed eyes

If your newborn’s eyes are crossed constantly rather than intermittently or if your baby is six months or older and continues to have crossed eyes, consult your pediatrician. The condition we call “cross eye” is medically known as strabismus. This is when the eyes don’t align when fixating on an object.

Pediatricians recommend all babies – whether they display signs of crossed eyes or not – undergo a vision test at six months. Often this test is done during a regular check-up but if not it can be conducted by an optometrist. The test uses light flashes and pictures to examine the health of your baby’s eyes. Doctors will look for strabismus and amblyopia, otherwise known as lazy eye, in addition to other vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatisms, and more. The test only takes a few minutes and your baby can be sitting in your lap. She may even find it fun!

Discovering vision problems early is helpful as some of them can be easily corrected. Others will need to be addressed throughout your baby’s life, beginning in infancy.

Sources: Healthy Children, What to Expect and The Bump

The Importance of Play Dates Part 3: Rules of Play Dates

We’re wrapping up our series on the importance of play dates by talking about the rules of play dates. For the enjoyment of everyone and to ensure your child is getting the most out of playtime it’s essential to set up your play dates for success. Here are a few rules of play dates to keep in mind:

The Importance of Play Dates Part 3: Rules of Play DatesBe respectful in someone else’s home. It’s a no brainer that you won’t intentionally damage a playmate’s home but it is your job to keep an eye on your child to make sure she doesn’t write on walls or scratch floors. If your child is engaging in an activity that you think could lead to damage, distract her with another play option. Always help clean up so you don’t leave the host’s house a mess. Also, respect the family’s rules regarding noise, where you can play, wearing your shoes indoors, snack time and anything else that applies to the household.

Keep play dates small. Young children do their best in small groups. Too many playmates in a confined space can be overwhelming for little ones. One or two other children is probably the right size for the first few years.

Keep play dates short. An hour to an hour and a half is an appropriate amount of time for play for under two-year-olds. For older children, gauge behavior and pull the plug at the first sign of fatigue or crankiness.

Take turns hosting. Alternate houses so each family has a turn to host. You can also switch things up every once in awhile by going to a park or planning an outing to the zoo, aquarium or children’s museum.

Give warnings before it’s time to go. Young children won’t have a grasp of time for awhile but you should give several warnings before it’s time to clean up and leave to avoid tantrums when it’s time to say goodbye.

Plan age-appropriate activities. If your little ones are ready for an activity, prepare it before the play date so you can get going on it right away. Allow plenty of time for free play as well.

Make sharing easier. If your child has a favorite toy that you know will be hard for her to share, put it away for the play date to avoid conflict. Then explain that all other toys are going to be shared during playtime.

Have fun with snacks. Always ask the other parents if their children have food allergies and if it is OK to serve a snack during your play date. Go for something easy to eat that won’t make a mess. A nutritious choice such as fruit is always a good option. For older kids you can make snack time fun by having the children help prepare or design their snacks.

Play dates are a wonderful way to teach your child valuable social skills. Enjoy and watch your child develop and mature through play with others.

Sources: Café Mom, Everyday Family, Parents, and

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