Monday, October 31, 2011

Keeping Safe on the Trick-or-Treat Trail

Happy Halloween

Last week we shared safety tips for Halloween costumes and carving and displaying pumpkins and a safe home for trick-or-treaters.  Here are safety tips for trick or treating tonight from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For Trick-or-Treating:
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
Healthy Halloween:
  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What is Your Favorite Halloween Movie?

Not-Too-Scary Halloween Movies for Kids

Little kids are scared of the dark, haunted houses, and scary movies on Halloween. But, you can view fun Halloween movies with little kids too. Some great classic Halloween movies for little kids include: It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Barney's Halloween Party, and Arthur's Scary Stories. We've included a few less known films as well.

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
Peanuts classic movies appeals to all ages. It promotes many favorite American Halloween traditions like trick-or-treating and apple bobbing, not to mention the infamous Great Pumpkin (who must have missed Linus' pumpkin patch somehow). When Snoopy dresses up as a WWI flying ace, he hams it up during a pretend battle atop his dog house -- complete with flying bullets. Some of the Halloween imagery (ghosts, skeletons) may alarm the very youngest viewers. The positive message is sticking to your beliefs no matter what others may think.

A Very Brave Witch and More Great Halloween Stories for Kids
"A Very Brave Witch" teaches that assumptions and stereotypes are often wrong when a little witch ventures out to meet some "scary" humans. "Georgie" explores the feeling of being unwanted. "The Three Robbers" subtly explores repentance when the bad guys become good and rescue orphans. The spooky music and exaggerated voices are the only potentially frightening elements of this Halloween-themed collection of short films. Witches, ghosts, and robbers all make appearances, and while their presence might raise tensions for the youngest children, nothing truly scary happens.

Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie
This DVD incorporates a previously aired TV cartoon, Winnie the Pooh: Boo to You Too (1996), into its story. Although the DVD has a Halloween theme, the scares are relatively mild -- a few of the worst frights include bats, crows, and a wheelbarrow full of jack-o'-lanterns that seem to come alive. The positive messages include o learning to compromise. Parents will love that the characters, at one point, use veggies and fruits for trick-or-treat goodies instead of candy!

Shaun the Sheep™: Little Sheep of Horror
Tip toe along with Shaun the Sheep™ and his fellow flock as they creep, sneak and behave like sheep in a collection of kooky and spooky episodes when the all-new Shaun the Sheep: Little Sheep of Horrors. Shaun leads his fearless flock through six adventures that mix the spooky, the kooky, and the just plain funny. A troublesome tractor, freaky farm noises, and sleepwalking sheep are only a few of the weird and wonderful surprises waiting for Shaun and his barnyard pals as they creep, sneak and make mayhem in this laugh-filled collection.

"Little Sheep of Horrors" - Intrigued by a horror film on TV, Timmy wanders into the Farmer's House, and Shaun's rescue mission wreaks panic.
"Abracadabra" - When the Farmer decides to throw out his magic set, Shaun decides to put on a show - but things get out of hand when the flock start disappearing!
"Things That Go Bump" - On a dark and stormy night the flock cannot sleep - Shaun discovers the culprits.
"Heavy Metal Shaun" - The farmer inspects the lawn with a metal detector. When Shaun and Bitzer try it, they discover a metallic threat behind a hedge.
"Troublesome Tractor" - The tractor seems to be ready for the scrap heap and the farmer wishes he could afford to buy a new one. So the sheep overhaul it.
"Sheepwalking" - It is a peaceful night at the farm, until Shaun starts to walk in his sleep. The Flock cannot resist their natural instinct to follow, and chaos soon ensues.

Halloween Spooktacular / Trick or Treat Tales (Double Feature)
Here are some not-so-spooky tales of adventure, learning and friendship with your favorite preschool pals Thomas & Friends™, Barney™, Bob the Builder™, Angelina Ballerina™, Fifi and the Flowertots™ and Fireman Sam™. The thrills start with Thomas & Friends™ in a ghostly adventure. Bob The Builder™ and Spud put on scary faces to protect a giant pumpkin pie from hungry crows. Barney™ and Fifi learn that there’s more to a costume than just dressing up. Angelina Ballerina™ sneaks into a costume ball and Fireman Sam™ saves a furry friend from a chilling experience. Enjoy the season’s sweetest collection of · Trick or Treat Tales!
· Thomas & Friends – "Flour Power!"
· Barney & Friends™ – "Guess Who?"
· Bob the Builder – "Trix’s Pumpkin Pie"
· Fifi and the Flowertots – "Pirate Primrose"
· Angelina Ballerina – "The Costume Ball"

Spooky Buddies
The Buddies series is intended as a humorous Halloween scare fest for kids. Though lighthearted and far-fetched overall, there are still many scenes that might be too frightening for the youngest audiences. This is a spooky story with lots of dark, ominous music and special effects, as well as two villains who are sinister evil-doers bent on power and mischief. The beloved "buddies" and their child companions are in exaggerated danger throughout. They're chased, threatened, captured, turned to stone, and, in some cases, they vanish. There are also pratfalls, visits to a graveyard, a haunted house, black cats, rats, zombies, flying villains, explosions, and fires. The positive message is the dogs and their human companions are all about fighting against bad deeds using teamwork. There are also some lessons about following your conscience and not listening to those who don't respect you.

The Addams Family and Addams Family Values (Double Feature)
The Addmas Family movies are movies that teens will love. These films are best for teens about 13 and older because there is a little violence and sexual innuendo. But, it does have a positive message. Despite their strange clothes and quirky behavior the Addams family still love each other and that isn't diminished by all the weirdness. It also shows the importance of being true to yourself and never conforming to fit in with others.

Stop by next Sunday for more Products Nannies Love. What are your favorite Halloween Movies?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Children's Books

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Here are some children's books to share about Halloween with children. Click here to see our recipe for candied apples. Click here for our ghost cookie recipe and our meatball bug recipe for Halloween. Click here to see how to make some Halloween decorations.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
By Linda D. Williams
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams includes some fun opportunities for noise making and getting the kids to interact with the story, which is a huge part of its charm for ages three and up.

Pumpkin Jack
By Will Hubbell
Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell is a great story about a boys love of his Jack O’Lantern that is also a lesson in the pumpkins and the seasons. A perfect story for the child who hates to say goodbye to their Jack O-Lanterns every November 1st…

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin
By Joe Troiano

I love books that come with a CD and so do children. Spookley the square pumpkin is different. He delivers a special message of tolerance and self-acceptance that's just right for Halloween and every day of the year. A story about how good being different can be. And the imaginative end -- a patch filled with all sorts of oddly shaped and colorful pumpkins -- will thoroughly delight kids!

By Jerry Seinfled

In his first picture book, comedian Jerry Seinfeld captures on the page his hilarious views on Halloween, from Superman costumes that look like pajamas to the agony of getting bad trick-or-treat candy. Seinfeld's tale resonates with vivid experiences of a night every kid loves. I think all nannies will love this book.

Too Many Pumpkins
By Linda White

Because she had to eat too many pumpkins when she was a child and money was scarce, Rebecca Estelle grew up hating them. As an adult, she never ate or planted them. One fall, a big surprise, too many pumpkins in her own garden, made her change her mind.

Celebrate Halloween with Pumpkins, Costumes, and Candy
By Deborah Heiligman

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Halloween is part of National Geographic's Holidays Around the World series of nonfiction books. The book uses color photographs of children celebrating fall and Halloween in several different countries to illustrate the story of Halloween, its history and celebration. An afterword provides directions for a Halloween game, information about The Day of the Dead, a recipe for a Spooky Graveyard cake, a glossary, a map showing where the photographs were taken, a one-page essay by scholar Jack Santino about Halloween, and recommended books and web sites for readers eager to learn more about Halloween.

Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

More Halloween Safety Tips

Yesterday we shared safety tips for Halloween costumes by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Today we share more safety tips from the AAP.

  • Instead of carving a pumpkin consider painting them. Click here to see the top seven reasons to paint pumpkins instead of carving them.
  • When carving pumpkins, small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Are Your Charges Dressing Up as for Halloween?

Halloween Costume Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Costume Safety Tips:
  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
What are your charges going to be for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Separated Military Parents and Their Children are United Through Reading

United Through Reading

Each year as the holidays approach I try to find a worthy organization to donate to. This month we have been discussing the importance of reading aloud to children and how to read aloud to babies. So, I think I have found the perfect charitable organization that promotes and understands the importance of reading aloud to children -- United Through Reading.

There are 1.9 million children with a parent serving in the U.S. military; 220,000 of these children have a parent currently deployed. One of the most difficult things a child can experience is having a parent deployed to a war zone for an indeterminate period of time.

United Through Reading is a military program that helps ease the stress of separation for military families by having deployed parents read children’s books aloud via DVD for their child to watch at home.

This powerful program is available to all deploying military units and at select USO locations. It provides parents a chance to make powerful and lasting connections with their children and parent from afar.

Founded in 1989, United Through Reading is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) public benefit organization. Their mission is to unite families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together.

Their vision is that all children will feel the security of caring family relationships and develop a love of reading through the read aloud experience.

United Through Reading, the nation’s first nonprofit to promote the read aloud experience for separated families, offers deployed parents the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children which creates positive emotional connections and cultivates a love of reading. By participating, deployed parents can turn downtime into Mommy or Daddy time to help ease the stress of separation, build family resiliency and make homecomings easier.

The vision of United Through Reading is that all children will feel the security of caring family relationships and develop a love of reading through the read aloud experience. If you would like to donate or if you are interested in volunteering, please feel free to contact us at 858-481-7323 or at email.

Click here to learn more about the organization.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do You Paint or Carve Pumpkins with Your Charges?

7 Reasons To Paint Pumpkins
By Chris Yates, Kids Craft Magazine

One year I took the kids to a local farm where they sold really cute painted pumpkins for $30-$50 per pumpkin. Being a pretty crafty person, I decided that I wanted to try pumpkin painting on my own. Now we paint our pumpkins every year instead of carving them.

Sound strange? Well let me give you my top seven reasons to paint pumpkins and you might just become a pumpkin painter too.

1. Painting is a lot less work than carving.
With five of us in our family and each one of us needing our own special pumpkin, that is five pumpkins to cut open, clean, and carve each year. Plus the kids are too young to handle the knives themselves.

2. Kids can paint pumpkins all by themselves with very little help.
Even very young children can pick up a paint brush and paint their own pumpkins. That means that they aren’t idly standing by watching while Mom or Dad does the carving. They’re actively participating, designing, and enjoying their own pumpkin creation.

3. No sharp utensils.
Even with some of the safer pumpkin carving tools on the market today, pumpkin carving can still be dangerous for children. Pumpkin painting only involves the use of paint and paint brushes – no sharp objects needed.

4. Painted pumpkins last longer.
After you carve a pumpkin, you might get to enjoy it for a couple of days before it starts to rot, slump, and fall apart. Painted pumpkins, on the other hand, can last a really long time. If there are cool temperatures without any frost at night, we’ve had pumpkins last into the late Fall and early Winter.

5. Painted pumpkins don’t need a candles.
When you carve a pumpkin, you really need to put a candle or battery operated light into it and see it at night to get the full effect of carving it. Painted pumpkins don’t need an internal light. They can be seen from the light of your other decorations, and they look great in the daytime!

6. Painted pumpkins are much more versatile.
It’s much easier to make a painted pumpkin look like anything you want, while carving pumpkins limits most of us. It can take hours to carve an intricate design into a pumpkin to make it look the way you want. Painting is much quicker and easier.

7. Painted pumpkins are easier to embellish.
We’ve made painted pumpkins for Thanksgiving that were decorated with glitter, three little pig pumpkins for the beginning of the harvest season with wooden spool legs and pink pipe cleaner tails, and Halloween pumpkins with pine boughs sticking out for hair. Painted pumpkins are super easy to embellish with just about anything you can think of to make them fit your design.

Sure, you can still carve the occasional pumpkin, but it's so much easier if the majority pumpkin activities revolves around painting pumpkins.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Do You Do to Show the Parents You Really Love Their Kids?

How You Can Tell If Your Nanny is Into Your Kids
By Candi Wingate,

Nannies should have a loving bond with the kids in their care: they should really care for your kids. It’s so not ok if your kids are bleeding profusely and your nanny can barely tear herself away from “The Bold and the Beautiful.” This is not about your carpet not being Scotch Garded recently: this is about your kids feeling loved, attended to, and (for Heaven’s sake) safe.

How can you tell if your nanny is into your kids?

1. Your kids aren’t experiencing rapid weight loss while under her care. (If nanny is seldom remembering to feed your kids, well, she’s probably not that into them).
2. Your kids don’t cling to you when you get home. Kids whose need for love and affection is being met throughout the day don’t have an O-M-G-I-need-a-cuddle response when you walk through the door each day.
3. Your kids smile and laugh easily. (If your kids begin to take on the demeanor of an undertaker, there may be a problem).
4. Your nanny smiles and laughs easily and praises your kids often to you, directly to your kids, and to third parties as well. If you come home to kids who think they’re rock stars, nanny make be fluffing up their egos during the day.
5. Your kids assume that they can get help when they need it. If they have an established paradigm of helpful caregiving, then the nanny cares for them. If, on the otherhand, they think they are on their own, and you see your three-year-old winging it through, say, tricycle repair (with screwdriver and pliers in hand), that may be a sign that nanny isn’t into your kids.
6. Your kids maintain a reasonable schedule while in the care of nanny. A nice mix of play time, homework time, various lessons and/or sports, time to attend to home things (i.e., chores, etc.), and some quiet time should be in the mix. On the other hand, if nanny shuttles your kids from activity to activity (all of which require her to be less interactive with them) such that President Obama would be daunted by the timetable, that is probably not ok.
7. Your kids feel comfortable self-determining on age-appropriate matters. (If the nanny makes all the decisions for your kids, especially without considering their opinions on the subjects at hand, then the nanny is probably not that into your kids).
8. Your nanny knows where your kids are when you come home from work. (If, on the other hand, you walk through the door, ask nanny where the kids are, and her response is, “Who are you asking about?” well, that’s not a good sign).
9. Your nanny happily flexes in what she does for your kids. For example, if one of your kids needs to change the time of drop off or pick up at a specific event, does your nanny willingly agree to the new time or does she tell you that your kids need to learn to hitchhike?
10. Your nanny shows up for work regularly and cheerfully. Frequent absences, especially for suspicions reasons, may be a sign that nanny is not into your kids. For example, if nanny calls in absent one day, saying that she can’t make it to work because of the ice storm, and you live in Bermuda, consider that a heads-up that things are not going well.

Not every nanny can mesh with every child. If you have a nanny that acts like she’s not into your kids, it’s best to talk with her about what you’re seeing and how that’s different from what you’d like. Maybe the nanny is coming across differently than she intends. If she really is not into your kids, then it’s time to move on. Both your family and she can find better matches out there somewhere.

Please consider is the perfect resource to help you find your new nanny, the one who is a perfect fit for your family.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Do You Know How to Swaddle?

Nannies Love the Miracle Blanket and Kiddopotomaus Blanket

Swaddling blankets are must haves for newborns. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Blockexplains that our world is too big for newborns. Swaddling mimics the snug environment of the womb and calms a baby. Another great explanation I once heard from a nanny was that swaddling helps a baby feel like their are being hugged even when they aren't.

Swaddling also keeps their arms from flailing around and accidentally whacking and waking them or scratching their faces. Contrary to popular myth, new babies don’t need freedom, they need holding and security.

But, it’s imperative to swaddle correctly. Poor swaddling can cause dangerous overheating, blankets over the face and stress on the hips. On the other hand, correct swaddling can save lives. In this regard, wrapping is very similar to infant car seats. Car seats can kill babies if used incorrectly, but used correctly they are a blessing and save lives.

It is well know that back sleeping lowers a baby’s risk of SIDS. But, a large Australian study found back sleeping plus swaddling dropped SIDS risk an extra 30 percent. Wrapped babies are have a harder time flipping into the dangerous tummy down position.

Swaddling soothes fussing so well it reduces the chance of exhausted parents accidentally falling asleep with their babies on a bed or sofa (potentially hazardous locations for little babies). Finally, swaddling reduces the chance of a parent being tempted to put her flailing baby to sleep tummy down.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's Good for the Goose: Rhyme Schemes

Mother Goose Books
By Esme Raji Codell, Author of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading

Every Gosling deserves a good collection of Mother Goose in their nest. Some folks like classic editions they remember for their own childhood such as The Real Mother Goose illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright.

But to me, the Faberge egg of the flock of Mother Goose editions available in the contemporary and comprehensive My Very First Mother GooseLibrary edited by Iona Opie, one of the compilers of the scholarlyThe Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. The oversized books come in a boxed set, which includes both My Very First Mother Goose and Here Comes Mother Goose (My Very First Mother Goose). All the greatest hits -- "Humpty Dumpty," "Jack and Jill, " "1, 2, Buckle My Shoe" -- are here, and also the charming lesser known rhymes and clever twists on standards.

This, along with Lucy Cousins' Book of Nursery Rhymesand Mother Goose Remembers offer the most accessible introductions to the rhythm and rock of the English language.

If you are one of those lightweights who just can't abide farmers' wives chasing blind mice and carving knives and the like, well, then, try the politically correct Father Gander Nursery Rhymes by Douglas Larche.

Personally, I don't mind a good blackbird baked in a pie, and chances are, school-age siblings are in the mood for a slice as well. You can be very generous and give an older Monster Gooseby Judy Sierra or the "Surprising Sequels to Mother Goose Rhymes" found in Whatever Happened to Humpty Dumpty?: And Other Surprising Sequels to Mother Goose Rhymesby David Greenberg. It's nice to have something slightly related (and slightly naughty!) to read while Mom is coddling and cooing the new arrival.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Is it Awkward Discussing Problems With Your Boss? Did You See This Segment on Today?

How to survive awkward conversations with your babysitter

Did you see this segment on the TODAY show? Career coach Debra Shigley and Parents magazine's Chandra Turner discuss how to deal with situations that may come up with  a babysitter or childcare provider.

They ask questions like, "If your friend is looking for a nanny and asks if she can borrow your nanny for a little while and asks for your nanny's phone number for extra babysitting should you give it to them?" They suggest not to in case the caregiver ends up liking the friend more.

"What do you do when your nanny asks for a raise and you can't afford it?" The experts recommend being honest and offering extra days off and other perks.

They ask the going hourly rate for babysitters and the experts recommend visiting sittercity for the going rate.  They answer, $10 to $18 per hour.

The experts say, "99% of babysitter issues can be solved with a written agreement." Plus, they recommend that parents shouldn't micromanage or expect their caregiver to be perfect.

When it comes to the people we trust to watch our children, some conversations have a way of getting .... awkward. Fast.

Say your babysitter isn't getting your kid to eat his veggies like you want him to. How do you communicate with her without coming off as a micro-managing momster?

What if your nanny shows up late a lot -- but she's otherwise so great, you don't want to upset her by complaining about her tardiness?

Or, what do you do when a friend asks for your baby-sitter's phone number -- but you're afraid if you give it to her, your babysitter will end up being her babysitter, and you'll be out of luck.

The truth is, the relationship you have with your child's caregiver is unlike any other employer-employee relationship. An episode of 30 Rock last season brilliantly dynamic when executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), who considers himself a master negotiator, finds himself totally at the mercy of his child's nanny. Most (good) bosses want their employees to be happy -- but when you're dealing with someone who takes care of your child, you really, really want them to be happy.

Debra Shigley, author of the "Go-Getter Girl's Guide," and Chandra Turner, executive editor of Parents magazine, joined TODAY this morning to talk about how to navigate your way through these tricky conversations with nannies and babysitters.

In general, honesty is the best policy. If you talk openly and honestly with your child's caregiver, you can work out most issues. Setting out expectations up front goes a long way. Of course, sometimes a little subterfuge is OK -- like when you think your friend wants to poach your best babsitter. Try stalling, "forgetting" about her request, or giving her the number of your backup, Debra Shigley told TODAY in an earlier interview: "Keep your friends close -- and your babysitter closer! It's every woman for herself when it comes to reliable childcare, and all is fair in love and daycare!"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do You Let Children Under 2 Watch TV?

More Guidelines that Screen Time is Not Educational for Babies

As we recently mentioned once again, it is recommended that children under two-years old limit their time spent in front of televisions, computers, self-described educational games, and even grown-up shows playing in the background.

In fact, in 2009 Baby Einstein products were required to give parents a full refund on the purchase price on their misleading "educational" DVDs and currently Your Baby Can Read products have a complaint filed against them that their infant-reading program's claims are false and misleading.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that video screen time provides no educational benefits for children under age two and leaves less room for activities that do, like interacting with other people and playing, the group said.

In an article in the New York Times it makes clear that there is no such thing as an educational program for such young children, and that leaving the TV on as background noise, as many households do, distracts both children and adults.

The article says, "The new report strongly warns parents against putting a TV in a very young child’s room and advises them to be mindful of how much their own use of media is distracting from playtime. In some surveys between 40 and 60 percent of households report having a TV on for much of the day — which distracts both children and adults, research suggests."

The new report from the pediatrics association estimates that for every hour a child under two spends in front of a screen, he or she spends about 50 minutes less interacting with a parent, and about 10 percent less time in creative play."

Click here to read entire article.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Do You Think Toddlers Can Be Diagnosed with ADHD?

Is it Immaturity or ADHD?

On Slate web site they posted an article by Brian Palmer, How to Diagnose a Toddler with ADHD. The article discusses new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics urging parents and doctors to lookout for signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children as young as four-years old. Previous guidelines set the minimum age at six.

The author explains, "ADHD diagnostic methods are notoriously controversial for children of any age. Doctors have to rely on reports from parents with no experience recognizing symptoms, and the impressions of various teachers. (Few children exhibit ADHD symptoms in a doctor’s office.) There are several different questionnaires and scoring scales that require mothers and fathers to speculate on how often their child talks too much: Never, sometimes, often, or very often. Doctors in the United States and abroad can’t even agree on a single definition of the disease."

The article poses the question: Don't all little kids have short attention spans?  Preschoolers aren’t particularly focused in general—so how could you tell if one had ADHD? What do you think?

Click here to see the entire article.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Does Working as a Nanny Make You Want to be a Mother or Convince You Not to Have Kids?

Choosing Between Suzie Homemaker and G.I. Jane
By Ashley Withers of The Daily Campus

I have been a nanny since the 9th grade, so over the past seven years I have spent a ridiculous amount of time with kids ranging in age from two to 13. I love kids and I love spending time with them, but I also love that moment when their parents arrive back home and I can hand over the responsibility to someone else.

The lessons I learned as a nanny were invaluable. I learned responsibility, time management and about seeing the world through someone else's eyes, but the biggest thing it has taught me is that I never want to be a parent.

The first time I told my friends that I wasn't interested in ever having children they were shocked. I was having brunch with three of my best friends from home at our favorite cafe. All three of them love children and absolutely cannot wait for that part of their lives.

They were commenting on this adorable baby in the restaurant and saying how much they wanted one of their own when I blurted out, "Ew! I never want to have kids."
Now, I admit that I didn't phrase it in the most respectful way, but they looked at me like I was an alien, like I wasn't even a woman.

However, recent statistics show that I am not alone. Census data from 2010 shows that nearly one in five American women end their reproductive years without a child. In the 1970s that rate was one in 10.

My friends have since come to terms with our distinctly different desires, but they all still adhere to one of society's unspoken rules: at the root of a normal woman's life there must be a desire to get married and have children. If this isn't your underlying yearning, then you are an "other." As a female I have to pick between Suzie Homemaker and G.I. Jane. This hardly seems fair.

What about those of us who fall on the middle ground? Those of us who believe that a woman is still a woman even if she never sees herself as a mother. Those of us who believe that the sexes have different roles in society, just not ones as narrowly defined as historical traditions would suggest.

The more I talk about not wanting to have children, the more I hear the same response from people: "I'm sure you'll change your mind" or, "Give it time."

It's not about time. It's about my ability and freedom to make that choice.

As it is, our society doesn't let any woman make that decision. Look at Oprah Winfrey, one of the world's most successful women. She created her own brand, hosted a top-rated television show and ran her own magazine all at the same time. All of this success, but she isn't married and she doesn't have kids, so what do people assume? They assume that she must be a lesbian, because no "normal" woman would want to live her life without a husband and kids.

Take a look at political pundit Ann Coulter. Whether you agree with her politics or not, you can't deny that she is the embodiment of a powerful female. But she is almost 50 years old and still unmarried without children. Though she is one of the biggest champions for conservatism, people in her own political party often point fingers and say that she is not a real woman. According to them, she doesn't have the same "family values" as the rest of the Republican Party.

Deciding not to have kids is an automatic social divider and I am aware that this decision will probably separate me from friends in the future. As my generation grows up, mothers will inevitably replace me with play date pals who are more relatable, and likewise I will seek company with people who have chosen a more similar lifestyle to myself.

Both sides of the decision face consequences. This is not some bash on people who truly have the desire to raise children. I think that is an incredibly noble cause. I am just asking for the chance to make the decision for myself, without becoming a social outcast. I am asking to culturally redefine feminism as something empowering for proudly feminine women.

Now, I am not naïve enough to think we can change this societal stigma overnight. I have come to terms with its implications on my own life and fully accept the challenges ahead. And in the future, I may actually end up having kids, who knows?

But it is my right to choose and in all respects, I will still be a woman for doing so.

Ashley Withers is a senior majoring in journalism and also serves as editor in chief of The Daily Campus. She can be reached for comment at

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rock-a-Bye Reader

How to Read to Babies
By Esme Raji Codell, Author of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading

We have been reviewing products marketed to teach babies to read and debated about whether babies can learn to read. We all agree it's important to help teach kids to books by reading to them aloud from a very early age.

Esme Raji Codell, author of "How to Get Your Child to Love Reading" recommends choosing books that are durable when reading to babies. She explains, "May titles are available in durable and less-expensive "board book" editions with rounded edges and thick, no-rip cardboard pages."

Ms. Codell prefers original paper-page editions because the pictures are so much larger and it is easier to point out details. But, she explains that board books are more fun for a baby to hold, and laminated pages make for easy drool clean-up.

Hints for Reading with Infants:

  • When sharing books with infants, one of the goals in looking, not reading. Talk about the pictures. Name objects and colors; count repeated images.
  • Relax! Don't worry if the baby turns the pages, or chews the pages. Choose books in board or paperpack editions if it makes you feel less nervous.
  • Don't be afraid to kiss and cuddle or nurse in the middle of a book. It comes with the territory. If the baby can make the association that books equal time and attention, the baby has made a positive association with books. regardless of what is written on the page.
  • Another goal is conversation. Say what you think will happen next, express your surprise, anticipation. Laugh. Ask questions, "What do you think will happen? Will the balloon pop?" all right, maybe they can't answer now, but someday!
  • Try to find books wit musical qualities, repetitions, and rhythms in the language. Mother Goose rhymes are always marvelous.
  • As you read, move your finger from left to right beneath the words. The fact that books are read this way, and that we turn pages in a particular directions is new information to a baby. Keep moving your finger under the words throughout a child's primary years, as it helps with word recognition.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Your Baby Can Read!"

Do You Think Babies Can Learn to Read?

Dr. Robert Titzer, Ph.D., developed this reading program for babies after researching infant learning and development. His philosophy is based on the idea that we miss the optimal window to teach our children how to read by waiting until kindergarten. He believes the natural window to learn language is between birth and the child’s fifth birthday. Titzer also believes that early reading leads to a greater affinity for reading later in life. A broad range of products support his Your Baby Can Read: Early Language Development Systemsystem.

But, child development experts are of the collective opinion that while young children can be made to recognize or memorize words, the brains of most infants and toddlers are just not developed enough to actually learn to read at the level the way the enticing television ads claim they can.

In fact,The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission that infant-reading program's claims are false and misleading.

Still, many parents and nannies swear by this product. For example, Katie from FL says, "I started this program with my son when he was five-months old. He is now 16-months old and reads ALL 50 words, even when I write them on a sheet of paper. Also he reads 10 other words he has picked up from reading books with me!"

Melinda, a nanny from Fredericksburg, PA says, "I think this is an amazing product, regardless of what some experts may say. We started this when my charge was three-months old and he loves it. He just turned two-years old and he has learned all the songs and recognizes most of the words from the DVDs."

Cathy, a mother in FL explains, "This product is great for children who can sit in front of the TV and pay attention to what is going on. We purchased this for my oldest daughter when she was about a year old but she is very hyper and barely glances at the TV so it didn't work for her. She did like the songs and she learned body parts, directions, and colors from the DVDs, just not reading. My youngest one is five-months old and much calmer and she seems to be getting the hang of it. Overall it's a good product for the attentive child and dedicated parent."

Let us know what you think. Do you think this program helps babies learn to read?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Do You Make Time to Read to Kids Each Day?

Benefits of Reading to Children: The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

One of my favorite experiences working as a nanny is seeing my little 20-month old charge walk proudly out of the library carrying a book she has borrowed for the week. She is so cute carrying her book out of the library, with her chest puffed out, walking a little taller, with a happy gait.

In fact, I have loved taking kids to story time, or to the children's library, at every nanny job. That's why I started reviewing a book each Saturday on this blog in a series I call the Weekly Trip to the Library.

This week, on the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog we started our discussion with a review by Maria Lopez of a reading system called BrillKids for babies and toddlers. Ms. Lopez works as a nanny and despite advice from experts suggesting it's impossible for children to learn to read under two-years old, she (and others) swear the program is beneficial.

Whether children can learn to read or not before two-years of age, we can all agree that one of the most important tools for learning starts with a love of books. To nurture that love, we must read books aloud to children.

Reading books aloud to children is so simple. According to Esme Raji Codell, author of How to Get Your Child to Love Reading, reading doesn't require any special training. Ms. Codell explains, "In fact, it is so easy on everyone's part that it hard to believe an activity only slightly more kinetic than television viewing could yield results that verge on the miraculous."

In his book, The Read-Aloud HandbookJim Trelease lists the benefits of reading aloud to children. Reasearch by Jim Trelease shows that sharing books:

  1. Conditions the child to associate reading with pleasure, which is necessary to maintain reading as a lifelong activity.
  2. Contributes to background knowledge for all other subjects including science, history, geography, math, and social studies.
  3. Provides the child with a reading model.
  4. Creates empathy toward other people because books offer insight into different lifestyles, values, and humanity.
  5. Increases a child's vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills.
  6. Improves a child's chances of staying in school.
  7. Improves future probability of employment.
  8. Increases life span by higher education, better employment, and higher quality of life.
  9. Lowers probability of imprisonment.
  10. Improves problem-solving and critical-thinking skills needed for all other areas of learning.
  11. Offers information.
  12. Offers laughter and entertainment and an alternative to television.
  13. Improves attention span.
  14. Stimulates the imagination.
  15. Nurtures emotional development and improves self-esteem.
  16. Reading skills are necessary for academic success.
Do you make time to read books to the children you care for each day?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Last Chance to Click Link and Vote for Our Blog!

Please vote for us as one of the best blogs on Parenting Magazine! And while you are at it don't forget to vote for other nanny industry blogs such as First Class Care and Regarding Nannies blogs.
By Best All-Around Mom Blog

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Job Benefits Do You Have? What Job Benefits Do You Wish You Had?

10 Job Benefits Nannies Want

Families that employee nannies have a lot of flexibility on what benefits they provide to them. Most families do offer some of the same standard benefits that anyone would expect at a full time job, but every nanny also has the option of requesting benefits when negotiating her contract. Here are ten benefits that nannies say they would like from their families.

  1. Cell phone – Providing a cell phone for use that is included in the family’s cell plan is a nice perk and one that makes a lot of sense for the parents. They’ll want their nanny to have a cell phone whenever she is out of the house with the children. Prior to cell phones, asking for a phone extension in their living quarters may have replaced this current benefit.
  2. Vehicle – Providing a vehicle and insurance is one benefit many nannies would like from their families, especially if she is expected to do chauffeuring of the children to lessons and other activities.
  3. Holiday travel – This benefit is certainly not a ‘must have,’ but it is one that many families have provided to nannies who are working a long distance away from family. A plane ticket to fly home for Christmas or the 4th of July has always been a great benefit to offer.
  4. Health and Dental – Nannies need insurance coverage just like the rest of us. A good insurance plan with at least half the premium paid by the family is very important benefit.
  5. Paid vacation time – Providing paid time off during a year of employment is a very customary benefit at almost any job, and most nannies will expect this as a benefit in their contract.
  6. Paid sick time – This is another wise benefit for families to offer. If your nanny is ill, the last thing you will want is to have her feel she needs to share her germs with your children in order to avoid a deduction from her pay.
  7. Educational benefits – Offering to pay for child development classes or other educational opportunities related to your nannies profession or advancement can be prized benefit for some nannies.
  8. Professional membership – Paying the membership fee for your nanny to join professional organizations for nannies is another small perk that nannies have appreciated from their employers.
  9. Overtime pay – Providing and paying for extra hours beyond the weekly agreed total at a higher rate of pay is another benefit that nannies appreciate, when employers include it in their contract offer.
  10. Holiday pay – Paid holidays is one benefit nannies may request, and extra bonus pay for working on a holiday is another that nannies appreciate.
A nanny can often become part of the family in many ways, but it is always important to remember that she is an employee, too. Click here to see original article.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Does Your Bank Charge a Fee for Using Debit Cards?

How to Find a New Bank

Change isn't my forte. I've lived in the same apartment for over seven-years. I have two Bank of America ATMs on my one-mile walk to work and another right next door to the PO Box I use for this newsletter. I've gone to the same location for banking for over ten-years, even when the bank changed names.

After much media coverage about a $5 monthly fee for using a debit card I decided to figure out how much Bank of America was charging me. I originally wanted to stay with the bank. So, I visited the new link for Bank of America factsabout to figure out why I'm being charged. I admit that reading their explanations confused me even more. My questions about my banking service fees aren't even discussed at the new part of their web site.

But, one thing I did know that if I kept banking at Bank of America the monthly service fees would have cost me at least $276 per year.

There is a petition against Bank of America's new $5 monthly fee to use debit cards at:
But, I don't see how signing a petition really benefits me. Signing a petition doesn't reduce my bank fees immediately, only changing banks can eliminate the bank's service charges.

To make the change, I first visited But, some of the local banks within easy walking and driving distance for me aren't listed on So, I just visited the web sites of my local banks. I found one with ATMs and branches within a mile of my home without any service fees for regular banking services like checking accounts, savings accounts, and more.

Although change can be scary, we have the right to do with our hard earned money as we choose. I finally choose to use a bank that serves me, instead of the other way around.

If your bank charges monthly fees (and you may not even understand their explanation's as to why you are being charged), feel free to shop around. Within a few hours you can take control of your earnings and feel comfortable how to secure your heard earned salary without service fees to cover the business mistakes the bank has made in the past.

At least my $276 will earn interest for me now, instead of paying Bank of America executives.

Does your bank charge fees for using a debit card?

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Are You Doing With the Kids for Columbus Day?

Activities and Children's Books for Columbus Day

The kids have off from school today, as do many nannies. If you are working with the kids today, here are some really simple projects to do with the children. If you are working, what are you doing with the kids off from school today?

Christopher Columbus Telescope
Take a paper towel roll and cut construction paper to fit around the paper towel roll. Have the children decorate the paper. Then glue the paper to the cardboard roll.

Christopher Columbus Map
Cut the bottom off of the brown grocery bag. Cut the brown grocery bag down the center of one of the sides so that you may lay the bag flat on your work area. Using markers draw the seven continents. Use your paint to decorate the map. Set aside and allow to dry. Roll your map up and place the yarn around your map and get ready to set sail like Christopher Columbus!

Christopher Columbus Hat
Fold a piece of newspaper in the center. Fold the top corner to the center line making a diagonal crease. Fold the other top corner to the center line making another diagonal crease. Fold the bottom edge up about one-inch to cover the bottom of the two diagonal creases where they come together. Open the Christopher Columbus hat and place it on the kids' heads.

Click here for some children's books on the subject. Click here for even more children's books about Christopher Columbus. Here are some great free online resources on the topic.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Can You Teach Infants to Read?

Review of BrillKids Little Reader
Review by Maria Lopez, Nanny, Miami, FL

I remember when Be The Best Nanny Newsletter posted an article about research that Educational DVDs like Baby Einstein DVDs are not educational for babies, and that children under age two should not have any screen time at all. I remember parents who purchased Baby Einstein DVDs, mistakenly believing the videos would make their babies smarter, were refunded their money.

That being said, I've been very skeptical of any program that claims to teach infants to read since then. But, I have been using BrillKids at my current job and really like the product. BrillKids is a company that has worked hard to develop a system for teaching reading skills very early. Their products are more expensive than what you find elsewhere but after seeing their first semester of English reading for myself, I understand why.

BrillKids is actually computer software, not a DVD. You have the option of buying just the software, or you can buy a deluxe reader kit that also contains flash cards, storybooks, and other helpful resources. The sheer volume of material you receive really does blow the competition out of the water. I have just been reviewing the software alone, and what really impresses me is that a semester has roughly six-months of lessons of five-days each week. Each lesson is different! I love that they switch up their presentation so that children are not simply memorizing.

Another thing I love about BrillKids early reader software is that the nanny or a parent needs to be involved. With this system, an adult is needed to click through the lesson, and you go at the speed you desire, so you can stop and have conversations about the words you are learning, you can manually use the arrows to point to the different letters in the words, and you can help make the experience much more fun. BrillKids allows nannies and parents to be part of the learning in a way that I just couldn’t with the other system.

BrillKids does offer the software download for $150 for a semester. Also, don’t miss the BrillKids offer of a free trial which offers nine-days of content to check out on your computer, and you can keep it for 14-days while you decide if you want to make the investment.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cooking is Cool in the Fall

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

In Cooking is Cool in the Fall by Cindy Sardo, Mrs. Sheff is a magical teacher who loves to cook with her beloved students each day! She makes a unique collection of books, designed to teach children that cooking is cool! Begin a journey with the children in your life using these delightful tales full of recipes sure to capture your taste buds and find joy in cooking and eating healthy. Recipes are included in this first book of a series that includes one book for each season.

Author Cindy Sardo is a teacher at heart especially when it comes to teaching children to cook and eat healthy. Her inspirations to write these children's cookbooks are many, but her finicky eater, Sarah, has been the greatest. Before becoming a mommy, Cindy was a fourth grade classroom teacher for ten years. These experiences made for an excellent recipe to begin writing the Cooking's Cool collection.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Do Mothers Make Better Nannies?

10 Reasons to Consider a Nanny Who is a Mom by

Finding the right nanny can be a really difficult and frustrating experience and it’s true that some parents go into it with preconceived notions of what a nanny should or should not be like (young and fun or older and experienced). We aren’t really sure why that is the case but over the years I have had some parents tell me that they would prefer to not have a nanny that has her own children. I think that’s really too bad because there are many reasons to consider Moms. Just being a Mother doesn’t mean that they are good or bad, better or worse, but it should NOT be a reason to exclude them from a search. In fact, you should see their experience as a parent in many ways consistent with “on-the-job” training that should help them in their career as a nanny. We are going to give you a few reasons to consider hiring a nanny who is a mother, but we want to stress that these types of life skills can and often do exist in people that have chosen a career as a nanny.
  1. Experience – Colic, croup, teething, “terrible two’s” and a cast of thousands of first-hand experiences will be helpful for your nanny.
  2. Empathy – Being a mother takes things from the hypothetical/theoretical to a practical level, and those with the “experience” are more apt to have a “feel” for their charges.
  3. Behavior Recognition – Mothers see the progressions, regressions, aggressions and digressions in your kids because they have been through it with their own children.
  4. Skills – Mom’s can have learned some skills that are hard to teach effectively from dealing with kid’s that know how to push their buttons to holding a sick child’s hand while they lie in bed with a fever. Some of those life skills can really come in handy in ways that are just hard to describe.
  5. Discipline – Nannies with parenting experience have learned to balance the use of the carrot and the stick. Again, all nannies should have this well under control but getting your kids to accept discipline for some reason can be even more challenging than doing the same with other children.
  6. Nutrition – If a nanny has been successful at getting her own children hooked on healthy foods then there is a chance she has a few tricks up her sleeve for getting kids in her charge to eat their veggies and more.
  7. Knows the Routine – Doctors, dentists, pictures with Santa, after-school activities and a slew of other appointments and activities are nothing new to the nanny who is also a mom.
  8. Education – Typically, a nanny who has school-age kids of her own will be better prepared to help in the educational process if that is something that you are looking for from your nanny (tutoring and/or interactions with the school as needed).
  9. Instinct – Humans don’t like to be compared to other earthly fauna, but many say the motherly “instinct” is alive and well. Once again, this can be strong in nannies without their own children as well and is much more intrinsic to the person on a case-by-case basis.
  10. Intangibles – Almost a compendium of the previous items is the overall presence of a nanny who already has child rearing experience. The total package can be greater than the sum of the parts.
Motherhood is certainly NOT a requirement for a great nanny by any means. There are many fantastic caregivers that have never had children of their own (in fact through their nanny experiences they will likely pick up nearly the same life skills). With that said, it’s common when you are looking for an experienced nanny to find out whether or not candidates have been a mother and to delve into questions surrounding their own experiences. It can go either way, but one thing we are sure of is that you should not ignore candidates who have been a Mother, in fact we hope we gave you some good reasons to include them on your interview list.

What do you think? Do mothers make better nannies?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You Won't Gain Respect If You Allow Someone to Mistreat You

Resolving Issues on the Job by Marta Perrone

Weekly in my career development class for domestic employees, we review the various issues that have occurred in the workplace to see how to better resolve them in the future.

Many of the housekeepers [share] stories of being mistreated. The biggest concern is that they are not spoken to with respect. There is no question, that housekeepers, along with many other private service individuals, receive the brunt of abuse by employers unlike most other settings where [there is an] HR Department to ensure such conduct is avoided. Interestingly, the employees often simply accept such treatment because they have no other choice....until, of course, they find another place of employment.

I tell the domestics in my classes that [to be respected you must first] demand rrespect. If you sit back and allow someone to mistreat you, then of course, the behavior will be repeated.

[Domestic workers] must sit down with their employer quietly and explain things properly. It is best for the domestic worker to say the following to an employer that insists on screaming and yelling as opposed to quietly instructing [them] "Mrs. X, while I understand your frustration when something is not done the way you like it, for us to have a good working mutually satisfying relationship, it is necessary that you speak to me in a civil manner. I would ask you to either leave me notes of instruction or that we please have a weekly (and if necessary daily) session in the beginning to review your wants and dislikes until I am fully acclimated to your home and way of doing things."

It takes time for [both] parties [in a working relationship] to get used to [working with one another]. Every home is different and standards are not the same. When new employees begin as household workers, there must be a training period. The best way to begin is to have a household manual detailing every responsibility on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis so that there are no misunderstandings. Then, someone needs to go through the house carefully with the new employee to fully understand exactly how to implement each function.

If [employers] want [their] home to run smoothly and their employee to know what to do, [they] must put in the time initially to ensure the best performance.