Reduce The Chemicals In Your Baby’s Routine with Chemical Free Baby Wipes

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for WaterWipes. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.  The opinions in this chemical free baby wipes post are all mine.Reduce The Chemicals In Your Baby's Routine with Water Wipes

There was no time in my life that I was more careful about what I put into my body than when I was pregnant with the boys.  I cut down on caffeine, I avoided hot tubs, sought out the safest prenatal vitamin, switched to the purest body products, only took medicine when it was absolutely necessary, and suffered through allergy season without using a decongestant, all to keep my precious unborn babes safe as possible.  It was my responsibility to keep their living environment as pure as possible so they could grow and develop.  After the Captain was born, I began to see that the baby products that I had seen so often were not the best choices for his delicate skin.  This led me to examine other areas and see what changes I could make to his daily routine.  Part of my search was trying to combat his bad eczema, but it was also cutting out unnecessary chemicals.

One area that I really struggled with was baby wipes.  These amazing, pre-packaged, pre-moistened pieces of soft cloth that wipe bottoms, faces, spills in the car, leaky bottles, and so much more.  Baby wipes are SO handy!  In my quest to eliminate unnecessary chemicals, however, I was faced with two choices in the baby wipes area:  continue to use these handy wipes, despite the mass amount of chemicals in them, or make my own wipes.  I tried making my own with baby washcloths and different homemade solutions, but those aren't exactly easy to throw in the diaper bag and keep track of.  Then there was the issue of them getting moldy and the fact that you have to prepare them so often.  Alas, I gave up my quest for the perfect, chemical free baby wipe.

Reduce The Chemicals In Your Baby's Routine

A few months ago, however, my dream came true.  The last step in eliminating the chemicals in my kids' life was complete!  WaterWipes is a premier European brand of baby wipes that is chemical free and only contains TWO ingredients, 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract.  WaterWipes are both durable and effective and provide a safer alternative for Baby.  WaterWipes do not contain preservatives and the sterile environment within the package is maintained by not interfolding the wipes like other brands do.  It is best if the wipes are not moved to a different container.  Also, while the package of wipes will keep for 15 months, it is recommended to use opened packs within one month.

Reduce The Chemicals In Your Baby's Routine

Learn more about these fabulous WaterWipes and take advantage of the 2 for $6 deal at Babies "R" Us!

 

WaterWipes Babies "R" Us

Summer Essentials for a Happy Baby

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Little Remedies. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.  #LittleRemedies  Summer Essentials for a Happy Babysummer essentials

Summer is such a fun time, full of new experiences, vacations, and tasty treats.  We have had a lot of fun this summer, visiting the grandparents, checking out the Perot Museum in Dallas, going swimming, and we even made a trip to the water park.  Planning for day trips with the boys is getting easier as they get older, but there is still a lot to take.  I remember trying to go anywhere with a baby under one was sometimes so taxing because of all of the things we had to take along to make sure they were happy and made our trip pleasant.  Bottles, formula or breast milk, toys, pacifiers, diapers, swim clothes, extra clothes, towels, baby snacks, and more were sure to be missed if we forgot them.  One thing stayed in my diaper bag at all times, though, and it was Little Remedies® gas relief drops.  With new foods being eaten and the older two boys having dairy senstivities, the gas relief drops came in handy multiple times.  I was SO thankful that we had it when we needed it, to make their little tummies feel better and not filled with painful gas.

When D was about as old as he was in the picture above, I introduced him to yogurt for the first time.  Within the hour, he was screaming in pain.  Tears were streaming down his face and I didn't know what might be wrong with our usually happy baby.  I quickly remembered introducing him to the yogurt and grabbed some Little Remedies gas relief drops, read the dosage, and gave him what he needed.  While it was not instantaneous like I would have hoped, within a few minutes he was calm and I was relieved that he felt better.

We also have used Gripe Water when the babies were smaller when they had hiccups and when the Captain had colic (and was fussy!) and have had good results with that, too.  If you're looking to avoid those painful gas pains, here are some great tips from registered dietician Bridget Swinney:

Summer Essentials

I was always hesitant to give my kids medicine when they were itty bitty, but I'm thankful that Little Remedies believes that "less is more."  They make their products effective and with the fewest natural ingredients possible so we, as parents, can trust that they're not getting anything that they don't need and they will feel better quickly.  Little Remedies products do not contain any artificial colors, artificial flavors, or alcohol and are created with the specific needs of children in mind.  

Little Remedies

What are you sure to pack to make sure Baby stays happy during the summer?

What NOT To Say To A Childless Couple Who Is Trying To Get Pregnant

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When we were childless and trying to get pregnant the first time, we didn't tell anyone for a long time.  When a few months passed and it wasn't as easy as it seemed, we began confiding in others and luckily, received lots of love and support.  I had been tracking my cycles and it was clear to me that my ovaries just weren't doing their job.  It's hard to get pregnant when you're not ovulating, of course!  A few people and even a doctor said some pretty odd things to us, but I realize they were just trying to make us feel better and lighten up the mood a little bit.  Trying to conceive should be fun and light hearted and it is prime opportunity for sex jokes to be socially acceptable….or some people think!  

If someone confides in you that they are trying to conceive, be supportive and don't offer any advice unless they truly ask for it.  My advice would be to NOT utter any of these phrases to them, because they're not helpful nor necessarily even true.

"Just have sex every day and it will happen."

"Quit trying and it will happen."  (Which, if taken literally, really won't work!)

"Have sex on Day 13 and 14 and you will get pregnant."

"Just get drunk and it will happen."

"Be happy with what you have and then it will happen."

"Do you need some tips on how to do it the right way?"  This phrase is usally said by men and followed by a wink towards the male in the relationship.  Just no.

Trying to conceive is a special time in a couple's life where they are trying for something that will change their lives in the most magical way.  Astroglide TTC Trying to Conceive™ understands that, and wants to make the process as easy as possible.  Sometimes there are issues that need to be medically addressed, but oftentimes, a couple isn't getting pregnant just because of timing or their lubricant simply isn't optimized for the little swimmers.  Astroglide TTC™ is a specially formulated for couples who are trying to conceive.  It supports fertility with adjusted pH levels.  

ttc

When trying to conceive, it is very important to create an environment where sperm has a chance of survival, so they have the best chance to get to the prize – the egg. Environmental conditions are affected by pH levels, osmolality, and the consistency of egg white cervical mucus. While traditional lubricants may affect these conditions and inhibit sperm motility, studies have shown that Astroglide TTC is compatible with sperm, oocytes and embryos and allows sperm to move freely.  In essence, it creates the perfect environment to conceive a baby!

Astroglide TTC has a retail price of $12.99 which is the best value compared to other competitors.  One box contains 8 prefilled, mess free applicators.  They fit perfectly in overnight bags and can be taken anywhere for when the time is right!

Astroglide TTC

What's the craziest thing someone told you when you were trying to conceive a baby?

 

Astroglide TTC™ sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine

Four Reasons to Love the Merino Kids Baby Sleep Sack

This baby sleep sack post was brought to you by Merino.  All opinions are that of the author.

I'm past the baby stage with my little guys, so I was excited to be able to have a guest on the blog today!  Jess Weaver is the mom of three boys and a brand new baby girl.  You can find Jess at her website – Jess Lee Writes.  HUGE thanks to Jess for sharing this post and pictures of her adorable baby girl with us!

 

Merino Kids Baby Sleep Sack
I recently had my fourth child, which happens to be a girl, after three boys. It’s been such a joy to watch her learn how to nurse and understand how the world works.  As a mom to a new baby, sleeping is one of the most important parts of their lives (and ours). I want her to sleep safe and be comfortable along the way. The Merino Kids Baby Sleep Sack has been a great addition to our sleeping routine. Here’s why we love it!

Stylish

If I’m going to put something on my new little girl, even if she’s sleeping, I want it to be stylish. I love the checkered pattern of the sleeping sack and she seems to love it, too.

Sleep Sack

Sleep Safety

Safe sleeping is important to me. The sleep sack encourages safe sleeping. Placing your child in the sleep sack allows them to stay warm without any extra blankets. The sleep sack also makes it easy to place your child in it. The buttons down the side make it easy to put baby in and out of the sleeping sack.

Sensible

If you’re going to spend your money purchasing a sleep sack, it only makes sense to buy one that will last for several months or years to come. Not only can I use the Merino Sleeping Sack while she’s an infant, I can also use it as she grows older, which is one of my favorite parts.  

Comfort

The material on the sleep sack is very soft. To me, it almost feels like a weighted blanket of sorts, so baby will always feel as though someone is there hugging her.  

I hope you enjoy these pictures of our adorable little one in the Merino Sleeping Sack! You can purchase one for yourself at BabySleepBags.com or on Amazon.

How To Safely Introduce Your Baby To The Water

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for #SwimWays. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.  The opinions in this post about how to safely introduce your baby to the water are all mine.

Safely Introduce Your Baby To The WaterAll three of our boys LOVE the water.  We have diligently tried to teach them to both love the water and to respect it, because it can be very dangerous.  The Captain and D know they cannot be around pools, lakes, or any water without an adult present.  They are both getting better at swimming, too.  Now that Baby Brother is old enough to enjoy the water, we are mindful to teach him the same things about the power of water!  

When the weather does warm up, we will be hitting the pool more often.  The older boys wear life jackets in the pool unless we can be one-on-one with them.  Sometimes kids can get too confident in the pool, so it's a good idea to let them get used to the water while wearing a life jacket or water safety object.  

SwimWays has been teaching children to swim for over 40 years, so we trust the information on their website to teach our kids how to swim.  For Baby's first time in the pool, SwimWays suggests:

  • Help Baby feel more comfortable by helping him explore the water safely.
  • Stay with your child at all times.
  • Have fun and play in the water.
  • Let Baby feel water with their toes and splash it around before getting in.
  • Don't force Baby in the pool if he doesn't want to go.  Make experience stress free and fun.
  • Enroll in a Mommy and Me class, if available.

When your child is ready to do more in the water, visit SwimWays' Teach Me To Swim site to learn how to go about that.

babyswimfloat

When we do get to go to the pool, we will be using SwimWays' Baby Spring Float with Baby Brother.  It's a perfect way to get used to the water and be safe for babies ages 9-24 months.  It's the single best baby float on the market today.  

SwimWays

The seat of the Baby Spring Float is soft and covered in fabric to make it comfortable.  There is a soft mesh seat, too.  I also like the adjustable and removable canopy for added shade.  It's very important for sensitive eyes and a toddler who hates to wear sunglasses.

The patented inner spring ensures stability, which makes Mom and Dad more comfortable with Baby in the pool.

swimways2

When Baby Brother gets older and is ready for something different, SwimWays' Swim Steps line of products is where I will look.  They have done their research and know what they're doing!  Helping children become confident swimmers is what they do best.  Visit ToysRUs for the Baby Spring Float and other helpful products in the Swim Steps line!

National Learn to Swim Day is May 16, 2015. This day is designed to remind parents and guardians to kick off summer safely by engaging their children in water safety and swim instructions. SwimWays believes that swimming is an important life skill and that all children should have the opportunity to learn to swim. This will be the fourth annual National Learn to Swim Day.

How do you keep your children safe in the water?  Have you enrolled your kids in swimming lessons?

Spring Fashion For Boys That We ALL Can Agree On!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Carter’s. I received a complimentary gift card to facilitate my review as thanks for my participation. All opinions in this spring fashion for boys post are my own.  #SpringIntoCarters #IC

#SpringIntoCarters #IC

Winter was long and cold, and we had record snowfalls in Texas!  While it was fun, we are so glad that spring is here and we can enjoy the sunshine outdoors.  Spring means green grass, flowers, Easter, and FUN!  I wanted to get the boys matching outfits to wear to church on Easter Sunday and for spring pictures, but apparently the Captain is "over" matching with his brothers, so we settled on coordinating outfits.  We went to Carter's and were greeted with adorable clothes in gorgeous spring colors.  The Easter shop at Carter's is full of vibrant colors, florals for girls, and new classics for boys.  You can go with dressy styles, coordinating accessories, and even "My First Easter" products for babies.

#SpringIntoCarters #adWhile I wanted to choose everything, I let the boys go with the mission of finding something that fit their individual styles.  D immediately went to a beautiful blue shirt …. of course!  He loves blue!  He held on to that shirt for the duration of our shopping trip.  He was so proud!  Then, the Captain worked with D's choice to find a cute plaid short sleeved shirt and some khaki pants.  I then visited the baby boy section to pick out the most adorable navy blue romper with marlins on it for Baby Brother.  We were set and everyone was happy!  Oh and Carter's always has great sales, which makes Mom and Dad happy.

#SpringIntoCarters #ad

After we had agreed on Easter Sunday outfits, I let them choose a few other items and I visited the clearance section.  The Captain loves sports clothes more than just about anything, so I let him pick out this outfit, that he wears every chance he gets, like during this trip to the zoo.
#SpringIntoCartersAll of the clothes at Carter's are stylish, comfortable, and fun!  There is definitely something for all personalities.  While we were there, I also picked up a set of adorable long sleeved onesies for Baby Brother.  They are so soft and comfortable.  I love to dress him in these at night because they don't ride up and expose his back while he sleeps.  They are also great for chilly spring days.#SpringIntoCarters #ad

Through April 5th, you can save 50% off of everything in the store!  BUT, before heading to Carter's to stock up on the new spring essentials such as tees, shorts, tunics, leggings, tops, polos, dresses, skirts, and much more, print out this coupon to save even more.  Or log on to Carters.com and use the code to save big without leaving your home.  (Note that this savings coupon expires April 5, 2015.)  Check out the Swim Shop while you're there and get ready for warmer days, now up through sizes 7-12.  I'll be going back to pick up some swimwear with UPF 50+.carters_0326_marchblogger_coupon

The New, Simple Way To Protect The Sheets from Bedwetting – PeapodMats {giveaway, too!}

This post that shows you how to protect the sheets from bedwetting is brought to you by PeapodMats.  All opinions are mine.

PeapodMats for BedwettingWhen kids and pets are in your house, it seems like accidents always happen.  Even with the best diapers or overnight protection, there seems to always be those nights when someone drinks way too much before bedtime and is far too sleepy to wake up and use the restroom.  Or when somone is sick with a tummy bug and can't make it to the trash can in time.  You know how it is!  Most often for us, however, it is an unanticipated, unknown deluge in the middle of the night.  I'll go check on the kids at 2 AM and D will be soaked and snoozing right through it.  So, I change him while he is half asleep, but I don't want to change all of the sheets on the bed, along with a mattress protector underneath.  So what's an easier solution?  Something that lays over the mattress that the child sleeps on!  I've tried this, actually…I threw a towel over the sheet, but it got all bunched up, wasn't comfortable, and didn't really absorb as much as you would think.

PeapodMats were created with parents in mind.  They lie flat on top of sheets and stay in place with a grippy material underneath.  This allows kids to sleep comfortably in bed without bunching underneath.  There is also no "plastic crinkle" sound every time the child turns over!  

PeapodMats

The PeapodMats are made with three layers –

TOP:  cotton terry for comfort and breathability, stitched grid to prevent bunching

MIDDLE:  cushioning fibers to absorb moisture

BOTTOM:  coated and brushed to prevent leaking and to grip surfaces

Unlike other products for kids, PeapodMats can be used for a lot of different purposes after bedwetting is over.  Think pregnancy, birthing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, travel mat, vehicle seat protector, beach mat, park mat, tummy time mat, changing mat, playpen mat, bathing mat, nap mat, sleepovers, campouts, adult incontinence, bedrest, and much, much more.  

PeapodMats come in different sizes and colors.  Check out the helpful PeapodMats website for more information.  Visit their "Retailers" information to purchase, or visit Amazon to see what's in stock!  

Win a 3×3 PeapodMat, available in winner's choice of color, (in stock colors only.)  Enter in the Rafflecopter form below!  US only, one entry per day, per household.  Good luck!
PeapodMats for Bedwetting giveaway

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The New, Upgraded Pack ‘n Play ® Is Perfect From Newborn – Toddler

#AtHomeWithGraco ADTracking PixelThis Pack ‘n Play® post has been brought to you by Graco®.  All opinions are mine.

AtHomeWithGraco Party

The one product that I have used from the Captain's second day of birth is the Graco® Pack ‘n Play®.  We set it up in our room before he was born and it was awesome for middle of the night changes, and a comfy place for him to sleep while in our room.  We used it as his bed anytime we traveled, and also did the same for the other two boys.  This is the ONE product that truly is great from newborn – toddler age.  A friend of mine has two – one to keep at home and one in the car.  It allows her toddling baby to have a safe place to play at the water park, park, or other outdoor events if she needs to tend to her older children.  It is just so multifunctional and I recommend everyone add it to their baby registry!

Last week, I attended a party for the NEW Graco® Pack ‘n Play® Playard Portable Napper & Changer™.  It was well attended by other bloggers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, along with Massive Sway representatives, and a knowledgeable Graco rep, who told us all about this updated playard.  We were all in awe over this awesome product.  (And also in awe of the precious 2 week old baby that was there, trying it out!)  My favorite feature of the playard was the option for a newborn to sleep in the portable napper or the bassinet part and all you have to do is flip the napper over to create a changer that can be easily wiped off.  This is something that even *I* can do at 3 AM!  And while there are two wheels on the playard, which makes for easy mobility, the removable napper/changer can be easily carried around the house to make the perfect spot during the daytime hours.

At the live Graco® There were many fun friends to meet, snacks to eat, and cool Graco stuff!  There were also stairs.  Stairs entice babies and toddlers.  Stairs are a mom's worst enemy. 

Graco Pack n PlayAtHomeWithGracoAtHomeWithGraco

I loved getting to hang out with fellow mommy bloggers from the area and listening to what the Graco rep had to say about this helpful product.  Plus…did I mention the adorable babies?  So, so sweet!
AtHomeWithGraco pack n play

If you know any new or expectant parents or grandparents, THIS is the one product I definitely recommend.  Graco® products are dependable and honestly, it's my favorite baby brand.  Graco® is a leading innovator of baby and children's products that are trusted by millions of parents.  Car seats, strollers, travel systems, swings, high chairs, playards, and nursery care essentials are all quality and helpful for parents, grandparents, guardians, and childcare providers.

The features of the Graco® Pack ‘n Play® Playard Portable Napper & Changer™ are beyond awesome:

GracoPNP

Watch my video to see how easy you can flip the Napper/Changer:

For more information about these new products from Graco®, click on the links below:

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Graco®.

Our Journey of Firsts {Giveaway and Twitter Party, too!}

This journey of firsts post was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Pampers. I was provided product free of charge to facilitate my post, but all opinions are 100% mine.

#PampersFirsts

I never imagined that I would be the mother of three boys, but I am, and it is pretty awesome.  I remember distinctly many firsts in each of the boys' lives.  That first sweet smile, giggle, crawl, or step!  I am glad that I have kept a first year calendar for each of the boys, however, or I would not remember when certain "firsts" happened in the boys' lives.  I have learned though that when firsts happen does not really matter.  What matters is that babies are surrounded with love and support….and sweet celebration when little ones roll over, crawl, walk or talk for the very first time!

From the first time parents see their little one on a sonogram to the first evening home from the hospital, this Pampers “Firsts” video showcases precious, heart-felt moments babies and parents share together.  Pampers recognizes that all first moments, no matter how big or small, are moments to be cherished and celebrated. Pampers is honored to be a part of the journey of firsts for millions of families around the world every day.  Grab a tissue and watch this incredibly sweet video!

Pampers Swaddlers was the first diaper each of the boys wore in the hospital after they were born.  Pampers Swaddlers is the #1 choice of hospitals in North America and the first diaper worn by millions of babies.  I always loved the sweet smell of Pampers Swaddlers, the the soft feel against baby's skin.  These are quality diapers that you can depend on when you have so many other things to worry about!

Pampers Swaddlers are now available up through size 6.  Pampers listened to parents and have provided us with the dependability and soft, sweet diapers through the journey of firsts through the diapering years.  Swaddlers offer up to 12 hours of protection so, if your baby isn't sleeping through the night, (mine didn't and Baby Brother still doesn't!) you can rest assured that it's not a leaky diaper that's to blame.  You CAN depend on the color changing wetness indicator and Absorb Away Liner® to pull wetness and mess away from babies’ skin.

Join us for a Pampers Twitter party…  RSVP here!

Pampers Twitter Party Image

Pampers Twitter  ***  Pampers Facebook 

AND enter to win an awesome #PampersFirst giveaway package, valued at $100.  One winner will receive:

  • Pampers Wipes
  • Pampers Swaddlers in Size 6
  • “Love You to the Moon and Back” Necklace
  • “Guess How Much I Love You” Board Book
  • Baby’s First Year Keepsake Calendar
  • $50 AmEx Gift Card

#PampersFirsts giveaway

Enter to win in the Rafflecopter below, and join us for the Twitter party on 2/11 at 9 PM, EST.  Good luck and see you there!

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Having Fun and Reaching Milestones with Baby Brother (VTech giveaway, too!)

This milestones post was brought to you by VTech.  All opinions are mine.  The VTech product, giveaway, and information have been provided by VTech.

Baby Brother turned ONE last week!  In some ways, it seems like just yesterday that we found out we were having a baby and in others, it seems like oh so long ago.  Many nights with little sleep will do that to you, I have found.  (No, still not sleeping through the night, but that's ok!)    He is his own little person and is doing things at his own pace.  It has been fun watching him reach the milestones.  For awhile he wasn't into mobility.  He rolled over about three times before 6 months old and I really began to worry.  But, once he learned that he could move, he took off and hasn't stopped.  Rolling over, scooting, crawling, and after he turned 11 months old, walking!  And his mimicking sounds and learning to talk is really taking off now, too.  Oh and his temper…wow.  He is definitely a toddler!  His favorite thing is probably music, creating it, listening to it, and dancing to it, too!

VTech

Baby Brother is like any toddler…into anything and everything.  I like to have toys available to him that encourage learning and thinking and VTech toys do just that.  I never really thought about what goes in to toy making, but I recently learned that VTech works closely with a panel of children's learning experts as they develop new toys that children will love and learn from!  Milestones are broken down into three categories:

  1. Language and Cognitive
  2. Social and Emotional Development
  3. Physical and Motor

It's important to remember that each child is different and each child learns, develops, and reaches milestones at their own pace!  VTech clearly describes recommended age, milestones, and educational aspects of each toy they develop.VTech TrainDr. Lise Eliot is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science. A Chicago native, she received an A.B. degree from Harvard University, a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and did post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In addition to more than 50 published peer-reviewed journal articles and magazine pieces on children’s brain and mental development, Dr. Eliot has authored two books.  Dr. Eliot has answered a few questions about children and milestones and I have included her answers below:

Q. As a parent, what are your suggestions on things I can do with my child to help them develop their social and emotional skills? What are ways I can help my child to get the most of their playtime? 
A. Social-emotional skills are the bedrock of learning, so good for you for taking an interest in cultivating them in your child.  The best way to promote emotional and interpersonal skills is through interaction–reading, singing and lots of talking with your child.  Make eye contact with him or her. Laugh together.  Direct your child's attention to interesting things in your environment.  When you read together, ask your child questions about the characters' thoughts and feelings. This can help build empathy. Another way to think about it is to use books or videos as a stepping stone for dialogue with your child.  It's the two-way, back-and-forth sharing of words and feelings that build emotional and communication skills.  Playtime has ample opportunity to do this, whether you are visiting the zoo, finger-painting, or playing with toys.  Take every opportunity to talk about the feelings and relationships among characters your child is drawing or playing with.
 
Q. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I'm responsible for most of my toddler's learning the first couple of years. How can I ensure that I'm teaching him all he needs to know? What are the best games or play to help him learn basics things like numbers, colors, words, etc.?
A. Children learn through play, so almost any activity is a learning opportunity for your child.   Show your child how to count banana slices at lunch time, or toothbrush strokes at bedtime.  Read ABC books to him to teach letter sounds and recognition.  But don't worry too much about academic skills in younger children.  Most important at this age is for children to learn the joy of discovery.  Try to avoid drilling exercises (like flashcards) and instead focus on learning about the real world around him–animals, people, vehicles, music, art–whatever you encounter through books or the world outside that excites your child.  When kids find a passion and get absorbed in it, early literacy and number skills follow easily.
 
Q. What if it seems like your child isn't reaching a particular milestone, what can you do to facilitate the learning of it?  While every child is different, are there any Milestones (when not achieved on schedule) a parent should be concerned about?
A. It's important for parents to know what milestones to expect, because failure to reach them can be a warning sign of a developmental delay.  For social skills, we like to see babies making eye contact early on, and worry if it doesn't happen by 3 months or age, or if s/he is not sharing facial expressions or some other kind of back-and-forth communication by 9 months. For language skills, we worry when children are saying no words by 16 months, or only a few words at 2 years, and when there is any loss of communication ability at any age.  For motor skills, it is concerning if a baby cannot bring an object to his or her mouth by 7 months, sit independently by 10 months, or walk by 18 months. If your child isn’t reaching these milestones, talk to your pediatrician, who may propose additional testing and exercises you can do with your child at home to promote his or her development.
 
Q. My 2 year old (26 months to be exact) barely talks unless she wants to.  She has two older siblings who tend to speak for her.  She can string a few words together like "me up" or "love you."  How can we encourage her to talk more and what VTech products would be most beneficial for her?
A. There's a simple equation to verbal development:  "Language in = Language out"  The more words you and others address to your child, the larger her own vocabulary will eventually be.  You are right that younger children sometimes do have trouble getting a word in edgewise in a big family.  Find opportunities when your daughter can be the only one speaking.  Try to carve out some one-on-one time, when you are just focused on each other, and make sure to listen and respond to every word or babble she makes, acting as if you understand her.  Imitate her words and sounds and offer lots of praise.  Just giving your child the confidence that she is being heard will provide great reinforcement to encourage her to speak more.
Also, VTech's infant toys can promote this language development since most produce simple words or phrases that babies love to control.  Toys such as Cody The Smart Cub™ and Cora The Smart Cub™ introduce children to first words, emotions, stories, sing-alongs, and more.
 
Q. How do doctors come up with specific milestones for each age group? What are some milestones for older age groups (up to age 9)?
A. Infant developmental milestones have been cataloged by studying thousands of babies from all walks of life.  In healthy children, the various milestones emerge in a predictable sequence and time, give or take a few weeks or months.  This predictable pattern is due to the maturation sequence of the developing brain, along with the typical sequence of practice most babies engage in, given their gradually growing strength and coordination.  Some milestones you can look for as your child gets older include: able to draw a circle at age 3, asking lots of "Why" questions at age 4, knowing his or her letters at age 5, tying shoes at age 6, reading aloud fluently at age 7, and a big spurt of social independence beginning at 8-9 .

Q. What are some of the benefits of teaching children sign language at a young age to help improved their cognitive, motor and social skills? How can teaching sign language to my child help promote more than language development?  How can sign language help stimulate a child’s brain in other ways?

A. The research on sign language is not terribly strong, but enough has been done to indicate that sign language may benefit your child's overall language development. The more words addressed to babies, whether spoken or gestured, the faster their own vocabulary growth. Sign language also has the advantage that it is easier for babies to communicate using simple gestures, compared to oral articulation.  So especially in the first year of life, some babies find it easier to communicate their needs when taught simple signs, and may express less frustration than infants who were not exposed to baby signing.

Chomp n Count Dino
Baby Brother has really taken a liking to the VTech Chomp & Count Dino.  He learned how to "feed" the dinosaur and loves to play with him!  It also has counting games and D loves to help him with that, too.  It's a fun toy that has kept Baby Brother engaged and learning.  And I love it because as Baby Brother grows, he will learn how to use this toy more and learn from it, too!

What milestone has your child reached most recently?  

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VTech is going to make one baby or toddler's Christmas super fun this year!  Enter to win all three of these awesome toys in the Rafflecopter below!

Lil' Critters Play & Dream Musical Piano, Roll & Surprise Animal Train, and Chomp & Count Dino!
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