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For women, French braiding pigtails might be second nature, something they could do in their sleep. But sometimes dad is left home alone with the kids for the weekend, and he suddenly holds the responsibility for getting everyone’s hair ready.

It’s at that moment that dad begins to wonder how to French braid pigtails.

While French braids may look complicated, they actually follow an easy-to-learn process. To help dads who may find themselves trying to make their daughters look cute before walking out the door, here’s a simple step-by-step process for how to French braid pigtails.

Yes, the process for French braiding is easy to learn. But that’s not to say there won’t be some frustration. To help manage the frustration, follow these 3 French-braiding rules: 1) Always pull the hair tight as you go, 2) Keep the sections as even as possible, and 3) Practice as often as you get the chance — because the only way to master French braids is through practice.

 

Easy Steps to French Braid Pigtails

Did we mention there’s an easy, step-by-step process for how to French braid pigtails? Well, your wait is over. Here’s how to do it in just 9 steps:

1. Brush/Comb

Brush the hair out until it’s as smooth as possible You want to leave a perfectly straight part right down the middle of the head. After brushing, you may need to use a comb to get that straight part. And here’s a pro tip: The whole process is a little easier if the hair is just slightly damp.

2. Divide and Tie

Now bunch the two sides together and drape them over the shoulders. Tie the right side of the hair down so that it can’t be pulled over as you work on the left side to start (or vice versa).

3. Create 3 Sections on One Side

Starting as close to the hairline as possible, collect some hair and divide into three sections — left, right and middle. Your three sections will need to be amount the same size throughout the process, so start with a manageable amount. And here’s another pro tip: The thicker the hair, the larger each section should be.

4. Begin Braiding

Once the hair is divided into three sections, you’ll start the process that will carry you through to the end. It goes like this: Pull the left section over the middle section, and then pull the right section over the left section that you just pulled into the middle.

5. Pull Tight!

Now you’ve take your first real step toward a French braid. It’s time to pull the first braid tight! You’ll want to do this after each individual braid — always pull tight. This helps keep the braid organized as you work, and it will help create a neater braid once you’re finished.

6. Make Another Braid

What was originally your left section is now your right section. What was originally your middle section is now your left section. And what was originally your right section is now your middle section.

Now simply add a little bit of hair (equal to the original amount) to each section and repeat for the second braid. Take your new left section over the new middle section. And then pull your new right section over the new left section that you just pulled into the middle. Pull tight again! And don’t

7. Keep Going

You should settle into a rhythm. Keeping adding equal amounts of hair to each section, and then pull the left section over the middle and then pull the right section over the left section now in the middle. Keep going. This is how you French braid! And don’t forget to pull tightly …

8. The Big Finish

Once you only have 2 or 3 inches left, it’s time to finish. Simply pull the three sections together and tie them at the base of the braid as tightly as possible using a braid. If you’re been pulling tightly as you go and if you’ve been using equal amounts of hair for each braid, you should be left with a neat, tight, organized French braid.

9. Do the Other Side

You might need a short rest first, but: It’s time to do the other side. Don’t worry about it, though. You’ve got this. After French braiding just one side of a head of hair, the second side should come easy.

 

Final Thoughts on How to French Braid Pigtails

There are lots of different ways to make your daughter’s hair look cute. Start with French braiding, and then move onto something else. In time, you’ll feel confident in helping her get ready for the day. This helps take a responsibility off your wife’s plate, and — Who knows? — you may find that you enjoy it and that it helps you and your daughter bond.

Do you have other tips for how to French braid pigtails? Let us know in the comments section below, of you can always send a message directly through our contact page.

 

Few things are quite as miserable as having a cold. Your nose runs constantly, it’s hard to sleep, and you don’t feel like doing much other than sitting on the couch or lying under the covers.

But it’s even worse when you’re pregnant, because you feel as though even OTC medications are off limits. But what can a pregnant woman take for a cold? Here’s a look at recommendations from doctors and other experts who are in the know.

It’s important to keep in mind one thing: Cold medication only treats symptoms. There’s nothing that speeds up your recovery process, and nothing that helps “heal” you from your illness. So, before you push the limits on cold medication, remember that you’re only masking symptoms for a short period of time.

 

What You CANNOT Take for a Cold While Pregnant

Let’s start with warnings on what not to take while pregnant. You absolutely want to avoid at all costs aspirin, ibuprofen and any herbal remedies.

Why are these things off limits? It’s always a good idea to understand the reasoning. So here you go:

  • Aspirin: Aspirin is associated with the risk of miscarriage at conception and during early pregnancy. Also, aspirin can stunt a baby’s growth during pregnancy, and it can also increase the odds that you experience a placental abruption — which is a term that describes when the placenta pulls away from the uterine lining.
  • Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is what you find in medications like Motrin and Advil, and it can also be associated with miscarriage in the first trimester. Additionally, ibuprofen can prevent a baby’s heart from developing appropriately during pregnancy.
  • Herbal Remedies: The problem with herbal medications is that they are relatively unregulated when compared to other-the-counter meds. Because they can reach your baby, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

 

What You CAN Take for a Cold While Pregnant

First, it’s important to know that most doctors recommend avoiding all medications during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. This is a pivotal time for the young life growing inside you, so make sure you don’t do anything during those first few months (more on this in a moment).

But, once you clear those first 12 weeks, there are plenty of OTC options for treating cold symptoms. You can take the following:

  • Acetaminophen: This is the pain reliever found in Tylenol.
  • Dextromethorphan: This is a cough suppressant found in many cough syrups.
  • Diphenhydramine: This is the nasal decongestant found in Benadryl.
  • Loratadine: This is the antihistamine that treats allergy-related symptoms like watery eyes, runny noses and general itchiness.
  • Pseudoephedrine: Another nasal decongestant, you’ll find pseudoephedrine in medications like Sudafed.

Avoid any medications that blend different ingredients to treat different symptoms — like Nyquil, for example. Also, you can take Claritin (which includes Loratadine), but stay away from the more advanced versions of allergy meds like Claritin-D.

 

Natural Cold Remedies for Pregnant Women

Remember that you’re only treating symptoms when you use any of the drugs listed above. There are also plenty of natural, non-herbal ways to treat the symptoms of a cold. Consider trying the following to get relief:

  • Saline Spray: You may be amazed at how much a saline spray can help relieve nasal congestion and the discomfort that it brings.
  • Hot Showers: A hot shower can help open up those sinuses and clear out the congestion.
  • Lots of Fluids: You’ve probably heard to drink lots of fluids when you have a cold. But why? Because fluids help thin out mucus and other bodily secretions, which help them clear more quickly. In short, the more fluids you drink, the faster your cold may dissipate.
  • Chicken Soup: Chicken soup is chockfull of nutrients, and it also helps clear nasal congestion while also acting as an anti-inflammatory that eases your other symptoms.
  • Lots of Rest: When your body is at rest, it’s able to heal more quickly. So, when you have a cold, don’t try to do too much — especially when pregnant.

You already know this, but: Prevention is the best natural safeguard against a cold while pregnant. Make sure you wash your hands constantly, avoid those who have been sick, and generally take care of yourself when expecting a child.

Final Thoughts on What a Pregnant Woman Can Take for a Cold

This post is designed to give you helpful information for when you’re expecting a child. But there’s no substitute for the expert advice of your doctor. If you have any questions about what’s safe and what isn’t for how far along you are, your OB is just a phone call away.

What has your doctor recommended you take for a cold while pregnant? Let us know in the comments below, or send us a message using our contact page.

 

No one wants their kids to go through those difficult preadolescent or teenage years with crooked teeth. And surely no parent wants to see their kids enter adulthood with unaddressed dental issues.

But braces can be incredibly expensive. How much do braces cost exactly? It depends on a number of factors, each of which we address below. But you’ll also find information below that shares ideas for managing the cost of braces.

So, take a look and find a path that will allow you to help your child get the help needed for his or her teeth.

Remember that the information below includes ranges that represent the average cost of getting braces. You’ll find that different orthodontists charge different prices, and you’ll also find that where you live may affect the cost of braces. In short, there are many different influencing factors, so don’t be shocked if the price you’re quoted is anywhere between the high and low ends of each range.

 

The Average Cost of Different Types of Braces

One of the main influencing factors for the cost of getting braces is what type of braces you get for your child. Braces today fall into four main categories. Here’s a look at the four common types of braces, as well as how much you can expect to pay for each:

1. Metal Braces

Metal is the traditional material used for braces. Or, to be more specific, stainless steel is the traditional material used. Stainless steel is a good material for braces because it’s relatively affordable and it’s also quite durable.

If you’re choosing metal braces for your child, expect to pay around $5,000. Depending on where you live, how long the braces are worn and who is providing the service, you can pay anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000 for metal braces.

What about insurance? In most cases, dental insurance does not cover braces for adults. But, dental insurance may cover some portion of braces for children under the age of 18. Don’t expect an insurance provider to pay all or even most of the cost of braces, even if it’s a part of your plan. Dental insurance on average only covers about 25 to 30 percent of the cost of braces.

2. Invisalign Braces

Invisalign has become the most popular alternative to braces. The Invisalign process features the use of trays made of a thermoplastic rather than metal wires and brackets. The trays fit right over the patient’s teeth, and a series of different trays are used to gradually move the patient’s teeth into the desired positions.

The cost of a single set of Invisalign trays is between $100 and $200. But the patient will need to switch out trays regularly — perhaps as often as every two weeks. Depending on how many different sets of trays the patient needs, the cost could be quite high.

On average, Invisalign will cost between $4,000 and $8,000. While the price ends up being similar to that of metal braces, the process is much less invasive and intense for the patient, which makes it a popular alternative.

3. Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are almost identical in function to metal braces, but they use clear brackets that are much more difficult to see. That is, people are much less likely to notice when someone is wearing ceramic braces vs. metal braces.

Of course, the drawback to ceramic braces is that they break much more easily than metal braces — which can mean far more trips to the orthodontist. But ceramic braces cost about the same as both metal braces and Invisalign — between $4,000 and $8,000.

4. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are the most rare type of braces. They are installed on the insides of teeth for cosmetic reasons — few people will notice that the patient is wearing them at all. While lingual braces are difficult to see, they do come with a number of disadvantages.

Lingual braces are difficult to install and to adjust, so many orthodontists don’t offer them at all. Lingual braces also get in the way of the tongue, and they are much more difficult to clean. They don’t work at all on small teeth, and they aren’t a good idea for patients who have intense issues.

And here’s the greatest disadvantage: Lingual braces are far more expensive than the others, costing on average between $8,000 and $12,000. You have to really hate the idea of people noticing your braces to choose lingual braces.

 

When Do Kids Get Braces?

There’s no specific age at which kids get braces. Some have braces installed in middle school and others in high school, Even adults often choose to get braces to fix issues that weren’t addressed when they were younger.

Consider making a first trip to the orthodontist at around 7 years old. At this age, adult teeth are starting to come in, and a professional can begin to identify emerging issues. In fact, there are many non-brace tactics an orthodontist can use to help a child with teeth or bit issues.

If your child can benefit from braces, the best time to get them on will be between 10 and 14 years of age. At this point, the mouth and teeth have developed enough to allow for braces to be effective. But, again, every child is different. Lean on the expert guidance of your orthodontist when making these decisions.

 

How Long Do Braces Stay On?

The amount of time a patient wears braces depends on how much work there is to do from the start. On average, a patient wears braces for between 18 and 24 months. But, there are cases when they are worn for shorter and longer periods of time, all depending on how long it takes to address specific issues the patient is experiencing.

 

Final Thoughts on How Much Braces Cost

Yes, braces are expensive. And orthodontists typically realize just how difficult it can be for parents to spend thousands of dollars in one lump sum. That’s why many offer payment plans that allow you to pay as you go. You may find that paying upfront comes with a discount, but payment plans can be a lifesaver for parents on tight budgets.

Just to work with round numbers, image that your child’s braces are going to cost $4,800 over the 24 months that he or she wears them. You may be able to spread that cost out over the years, making $200 each month. And $200 is much more palatable than paying almost $5,000 at the start.

Have you had an experience with braces, good or bad? Let us know about it in our comments section below, or use our contact page to send us a message directly.

 

Screens are all around us, all the time. It used to be that the television was the one screen in the home. But, today, our households are filled with tablets and smartphones, too. Everyone seems to believe deep down that screen time isn’t a great thing for kids, but how much screen time is too much?

Here’s a look at screen time recommendations by age as outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics. While these recommendations are authoritative and rooted in scientific research, you’ll need to translate these recommendations into a plan that works for your family.

What you see below are recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics in October 2016. But don’t forget to consult your own pediatrician about screen time for your children. You’ll be able to have a much more beneficial back-and-forth with your pediatrician about what works and what doesn’t for your family.

 

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Different Ages?

Screen time is something to make more and more available as your kids age. You should always limit screen time to some degree, but those limitations can be relaxed gradually over time. Here’s a look at screen time recommendations by age:

Newborn to 18 Months

Parents should avoid all digital media for children younger than 18 months. First, digital media isn’t good for a child of this age on a day-to-day basis because of the stimulation. There’s simply too much noise and too much light associated with screens, and your newborn or baby may experience some distress or trouble sleeping if they get screen time at a young age.

Also, screen time at this age can hold back brain development. It’s far better for parents to engage babies one-on-one, to make plenty of eye contact, and to encourage their exploration of the world around them. At best, digital media can slow down a baby’s development. At worst, it can even lead to behavioral issues.

It’s impossible to completely limit screen time, but make sure it’s not a part of your baby’s routine until he or she crosses the 18-month threshold.

2 to 5 Years

Between 2 and 5 years of age, limit your child to just one hour of screen time each day. Instead, emphasize creative and outdoor play. Use screen time as a reward or for moments when you (as a parent) simply need a break.

But be careful what you’re watching during screen time at these ages. It’s really hard for kids at this age to comprehend and decipher advertisements. They are also unaware of the difference real and fictional characters. For that reason, you should stick to educational programs on public television that are designed for children at this age — and that have no advertisements.

Sesame Street is always a good idea, as are Daniel Tiger, Bob the Builder and other programs you can find on your local PBS affiliate. And don’t forget to build on educational screen time. Ask your child about what he or she learned on Sesame Street and other programs, and help your child build on those lessons learned.

6 to 18 Years

At 6 years of age and older, there is no set limit on screen time. Keep focusing on productive activities, such as physical activities (like playing outside), educational activities (doing homework), social activities (going to camps, having friends over) and restful activities (like sleeping).

You should also consider some sort of structure for screen time. Some parents ban screen-based entertainment between Sunday and Friday nights so that children can focus on school and other important activities. Other parents may limit screen time to just an hour after school or during set windows over the weekend.

Find what works for you, but always emphasize the aforementioned productive activities over entertainment activities.

 

Effects of Screen Time on Brain Development

Why is limiting screen time so important? Because there are serious health and developmental consequences that come with too much screen time. The negative consequences of too much screen time include:

  • Difficulty focusing, concentrating and paying attention
  • Trouble building a large vocabulary
  • Challenges handling social situations and making friends
  • An inability to work hard and persist through difficult times
  • A lack of empathy

These negative consequences aren’t meant to scare parents. Rather, they are simply meant to highlight the very real effects of excessive screen time that scientists are discovering out in the real world.

 

Final Thoughts on Screen Time Recommendations By Age

Don’t forget that you set the best example for your kids. Children are very perceptive at a very young age. And, if you have your face in a smart phone all the time, your child is going to perceive a screen as something to be desired.

So try out limiting your own screen time and setting a positive example for your kids. You may find that your example does more than anything else to limit your children’s screen time.

Do you have an effective plan or policy for limiting screen time at home? Share with us in the comments section below or by using our contact page to send a message.

 

Vision is one of the first ways that newborns communicate with parents. But how far can a baby see? And at what rate should parents expect a child’s vision to development?

Here’s a look at what happens with a child’s vision during his or her first 2 years, as well as vision-related warning signs to look out for while your baby is still little.

You’ll see a vision development timeline below. But don’t panic if your baby isn’t following this developmental timeline precisely. Every child is different, and yours may development faster or slower than average. There are certainly no ramifications for your baby’s long-term ability to see. If you do have questions or concerns, your pediatrician should be able to provide authoritative answers.

 

Baby Vision: A Timeline for Sight Development

Most parents are curious what to expect at different stages during a child’s first couple of years. Here’s a look at what to expect with your baby’s vision during the first year, as well as what happens when your child turns 1 and starts pushing toward 2 years of age.

The First 4 Months

Early on, your child is only able to really focus on objects less than a foot from his or her face. That said, by about 8 weeks, your baby has started to develop greater hand-eye coordination, and he or she now has eyes that are working together. Your child’s eyes are still learning, though, and you may think they are crossing or wandering often — which is perfectly normal.

At 3 months, things start to change a little more dramatically. Look for your baby to start reaching for things and to better follow moving objects with the eyes. For example, you may find that your baby starts to follow your movement much better at 3 months.

5 to 8 Months

This is the period when your child starts to develop that elusive depth perception. In essence, this is when the world becomes three-dimensional for your child and he or she begins to judge when things are close or far away.

Your baby also begins to develop better color recognition. While it’s not yet on par with an adult’s, your baby’s ability to see color is now improving rapidly. Also, your baby may start crawling at closer to 8 months. The simple action of crawling also helps a child’s vision and hand-eye coordination.

9 Months to 1 Year

As every parent finds out during this 3-month window, your baby starts learning new tricks pretty quickly. First, he or she will start to use objects to pull up to a standing position. It’s also during this window when your child may take his or her first steps.

When your child is drawing closer to 1 year old, he or she will be far better at discerning distances, and you may also find that your baby can throw things with rough accuracy. That is, if they want to throw something, they can generally send the object in roughly the direction they desire.

1 Year to 2 Years

Things start to get a little more exciting between 1 and 2 years. Your child can now recognize objects, and you will notice that a child of this age will start to respond positively to familiar things that he or she sees.

This is the era of exploration and discovery. A child between 1 and 2 will want to look at everything, touch everything, taste everything, etc. This is good for vision development, too, as your child is becoming more and more familiar and more and more comfortable in the world.

 

Vision-Related Warning Signs

While parents shouldn’t panic if a child isn’t developing as quickly as others, there are always warning signs to keep an eye on. When it comes to vision, look out for the following four red flags:

  1. Sensitivity to Light: If your child seems to dislike light to a high degree, there may be an issue with pressure buildup in the eyes.
  2. White Pupils: While rare, a white pupil can indicate the presence of some forms of cancer.
  3. Crusty or Red Eyelids: Babies can pick up all sorts of different infections, and a red or crusty eyelid may indicate an eye infection.
  4. Constant Tearing: If your baby is constantly tearing up, it may indicate the presence of a tear duct issue.

As noted above, don’t panic if you see any of these warning signs. Simply visit your pediatrician, who can let you know whether or not what your child is experiencing is normal — or if there’s an issue that requires further investigation.

 

Final Thoughts on How Far a Baby Can See

Don’t forget to treasure each stage. You may find yourself eager to see your child’s vision development and for them to start making eye contact. But you should also savor those early days when your child can barely see past his or her nose, and when your child is fully dependent on your for absolutely everything. Every stage of the journey is sweet, and make sure you’re appreciating each one.

Any questions about how far a baby can see? Just leave them in the comments section below, of you can always send a message using our contact page.

 

Santa Claus has become such an embedded and important part of our culture, not just at holiday time but throughout the year. Parents often chide their kids even in summertime that “Santa’s always watching,” and, of course, parents dutifully help their kids leave cookies, milk and carrots (for the reindeer) on the hearth before heading to bed on Christmas Eve.

But the Santa ruse can only last so long. And, eventually, you’ll have to tell your children the truth. Wondering how to tell your child Santa isn’t real? You’re not alone. While every unique family needs its own unique way to have the conversation, here’s a look at some effective ideas you can put into practice as you plan your conversations with your kids.

You can find lots of specific ideas about how to tell a child about Santa, including a lot of letters that you can steal and use as your own. Here’s one approach that gained some Internet fame. We share a few general tips you can use for your Santa conversation, but feel free to use one of the letters floating around the web, if that makes you more comfortable.

 

Tips for How to Tell a Child About Santa

There’s no right or wrong answer when you’re wondering how to tell your child about Santa. But, you can always learn from the experiences of those who have gone before you. And, with that in mind, here’s a look at 7 tips for how to tell a child about Santa:

1. Search for Signs

Your child will eventually become curious as to whether or not Santa Claus is real. This is just part of growing up and maturing. If someone doesn’t plant doubt in their minds, they will begin to doubt themselves. After all, at some point a child gets old enough to wonder why Santa hangs around the local mall each year.

Use that curiosity as an opportunity. When you start to see signs that your child is curious about who Santa really is, that’s your change to have a conversation about it. Your child will be as ready as ever.

2. Pick the Right Age

Even if you’re not seeing signs your child is curious about Santa, there comes an age where you need to have the conversation anyway. Aim for between ages 5 and 7. This is the time when kids are entering school, and some of their classmates will begin to tell them that Santa isn’t real.

In fact, some kids will even tell other kids about their parents having “the conversation.” This is going to happen sooner rather than later, and wouldn’t you rather be the one to tell your kids about Santa?

3. Stay Away From Christmas

Here’s a tip that many miss: Try telling your child about Santa during summertime or another time of year that’s nowhere near Christmas. This separates the startling truth from the emotion of the actual holiday.

If you tell your child about Santa right before Christmas, it could end up ruining the holiday for them. Plan ahead and tell your child well before, and the months before Christmas will give them time to adapt and get used to the idea that Santa isn’t real.

4. Go Beyond Just Santa

There’s more to the Santa conversation than just Santa. The Santa conversation might be a good chance to tell your child that the dressed-up characters they see at Disneyland aren’t real either, that the Easter Bunny isn’t real and that there’s no Tooth Fairy.

Sound harsh? It might be. But telling your kids that Santa isn’t real might lead to a flood of other questions, and it’s best to deal with them all at once.

5. Focus on the Spirit of Things

The Santa conversation is a time to talk about the spirit of Christmas. Specifically, it’s a time to help your child transition from being purely a “getter” at Christmas to also embracing the idea of being a “giver.”

You can even talk to your child about people who don’t have anything at Christmas. And, if you’re in a position to help, consider using your child’s first Christmas without Santa as a chance to adopt a child or family in need — and to become their personal Santa by buying them gifts.

6. Make it a Fun Secret

Do you have multiple kids? It might be fun to make the Santa conversation a secret. If you frame the entire conversation as a can-you-keep-a-secret discussion, your child will feel like a co-conspirator rather than a kid who just had the rugged pulled out from underneath.

7. Roll With the Punches

There’s no telling how your child will react to finding out that Santa isn’t real. He or she might tell you that they knew all along. Or, he or she might break down into tears.

Be prepared for either extreme, and roll with the punches no matter what happens. This is just one of those moments that all kids and all parents go through, and be assured that everyone will survive it and come out OK on the other end.

 

Final Thoughts on How to Tell Your Child Santa Isn’t Real

There’s nothing better than helping your child embrace a role as giver during Christmas. No one wants to raise a child who is expectant and selfish. And this conversation about Santa is the ultimate teaching moment — a real chance to help your child think more about others and less about himself or herself.

Did you try a different method for telling your child Santa isn’t real? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can always send us a message through our contact form.

 

Stuffed animals are so precious and so valued by our children. But they also get kind of gross over time. Can you wash stuffed animals? You don’t want to do anything to damage a beloved item, but, at the same time, there comes a point where stuffed animals can be downright unsanitary.

Here’s a look at two options for how to wash stuffed animals, including some additional tips for keeping stuffed animals in tip-top shape for as long as possible.

Remember this before you start washing stuffed animals: It’s hard to find the right time. Stuffed animals are incredibly important to our children, but they are most important during naptime and bedtime — so don’t try to sneak them away at those moments. Instead, try washing stuffed animals while your kids are away with the grandparents, or while one parent takes them to the playground (while the other stays back to do the cleaning). Find the right time to wash stuffed animals is just as important as how to wash them.

 

How to Wash Stuffed Animals

Many parents find themselves wondering: Can you wash stuffed animals in the washer? The answer is “yes,” but only if you’re incredibly careful. Here’s a step-by-step look at how to wash stuffed animals in the washer:

  1. Remove Anything “Extra”: If the stuffed animal has clothing or anything else that can be removed, take it off. If the stuffed animal is exceedingly old or fragile, or if it includes electronics, you’ll have to hand wash it.
  2. Use a Mesh Bag: Stick your stuffed animal in a mesh laundry bag while washing it. The bag serves as a needed layer of protection during the wash cycle.
  3. Wash Using the Gentle Cycle: Use whatever the lightest cycle on your washer is called. It might be “gentle,” or it might be “delicate.” Whatever it is, use that.
  4. Stay Away From Hot Water: Cool water is best, but you can push it to warm without too much concern. Just don’t use hot water.
  5. Hang Dry: Never put your stuffed animals in the dryer. Instead, use a hanger with a clip, clipping one a sturdy leg or ear of the stuffed animal. Leave in a space that gets lots of fresh air — maybe somewhere outdoors where there’s a breeze.

One last note on using a washing machine to clean stuffed animals: Front-loading washing machines work best. The spindle in the middle of top-loading washers can spell trouble for stuffed animals. If you don’t have a front-loader, ask a friend or family member — or visit a Laundromat, where washers are almost exclusively front-loading.

 

How to Sanitize Stuffed Animals That Can’t Be Washed

Sometimes a stuffed animal is covered in sequins that won’t last in the washer, or sometimes a stuffed animal is on its last leg — and he or she is likely to disintegrate even during a delicate cycle.

So, to help with fragile items, here’s a look at how to sanitize stuffed animals that can’t be washed:

  1. Fill a Sink: Find a spacious sink (kitchen sinks work best) and fill it with lukewarm water.
  2. Add Detergent: Add just a little bit of mild detergent. If you add too much, you’ll never be able to fully rinse the stuffed animal. Start with a teaspoon and work your way up as needed.
  3. Submerge the Stuffed Animal: Now fully submerge the stuffed animal and gently move your hands through it to make sure the cleaning begins. Leave your stuffed animal fully submerged for 30 minutes to an hour, returning from time to time to move your hands through it again.
  4. Drain and Rinse: After 30 minutes to an hour, drain the water. Then, refill the sink with fresh water — again, lukewarm. Now let your stuffed animal rinse in the fresh water for as long as needed to get rid of the suds.
  5. Dry: Gently wring out as much water as possible, then roll the stuffed animal into paper towels to get even more water out. You may need to use your hands to reshape the stuffed animal. Then, hang dry using a clip hanger, just as noted above. It might help to use a hair dryer on its lowest, coolest level, or to place a fan where it can blow on the hanging stuffed animal.

Once you’re finished, simply replace where your child will find him or her. Everyone will be happier that the beloved stuffed animal is now clean again.

 

Final Thoughts on Washing Stuffed Animals

Kids get really attached to stuffed animals. But don’t kill yourself trying to salvage a stuffed animal that has seen better days — and that simply can’t be cleaned. It’s part of the cycle of toys, the circle of life, and your child will eventually move on to other things.

The day will come when your child isn’t interested in stuffed animals at all anymore, and that day will make you sad. So do your best to keep the current stuffed animals in great shape, but don’t panic if there’s nothing you can do for one of them.

Do you have any other tips for washing stuffed animals? If so, just leave a comment below, or you can always send a message directly through our contact page.

 

Getting a two-wheel bike a rite of passage for children. It provides them the feel of wind blowing against their faces, as well as the possibility and opportunity of transportation and travel. They begin to think beyond their own homes and their own yards and wherever places their parents typically take them in cars.

But parents are still essential to the bike equation, helping their children choose the right options and then (of course) making the actual payment.

You may be wondering, though: What size bike does my child need? You have lots of options, but there’s only one that will set your child up for the most success when they finally get onto that new two-wheeler. Here’s your comprehensive guide.

Your child may fall in love with a certain bike while browsing at the store. But size is so much more important than style. Consider going by yourself to do a preliminary run through of options. You can pick 3 or 4 bikes that are the right size, and then present your son or daughter with the options. This is a much better approach than letting your little one wander aimlessly through the store, falling in love with bikes that simply won’t work.

 

First Things First: Get Your Child’s Height

You’ll want to measure your child before you do anything. And this isn’t the time for your child to stretch and stand on tiptoes hoping to get a higher measurement. You want a true indication of how tall your child is.

So, have your child take off his or her shoes. Your son or daughter should stand with back against a wall, feet about shoulder width apart. Then, have your child hold a book between the knees with the spine just barely touching the crotch of his or her pants or shorts.

Now, measure from the floor to the top of the spine of the book. That measurement should give you a pretty good indication of what size bike your child needs.

 

Different Bike Sizes for Children

OK, so you now have an idea of what size bike your child needs. Now, what are your options? Children’s bikes come in five different sizes: 12 inches, 16 inches, 18 inches, 20 inches and 24 inches.

Just in case you need another indication of which size will work best for your kid, here’s a look at age and overall heights that best coordinate to each size (as outline by bike manufacturer Schwinn):

Bike Size Child’s Height Child’s Age
12″ Bike 28″ to 38″ 1 to 4
16″ Bike 38″ to 48″ 3 to 7
18″ Bike 42″ to 52″ 5 to 9
20″ Bike 48″ to 60″ 7 to 13
24″ Bike 56″ to 66″ 10 to 15

 

Beyond Size: Other Tips for Choosing the Right Bike for a Child

Height is SO important to finding the right bike for your child. But it’s not the only important consideration. Here are four other things you’re going to want to take into account when you search for the ideal bike option for your little one:

  • Store: It’s tempting to go to Target or Wal-Mart to find your child’s first bike. But it’s best to go to a real bike shop. The people who work at a real bike shop can make expert recommendations and provide authoritative that you’re just not going to find elsewhere. Plus, if you ever need repairs or maintenance, you have an existing relationship with people who can help.
  • Brakes: Brakes are probably the second-most important feature in a bike (behind height). Cheap bikes have cheap brakes. A child’s bike with quality brakes is a little bit harder to find, but here’s a test you can do: An adult should be able to engage handlebar brakes with only one pinkie. If the brakes are too hard to pull with just your pinkie, look elsewhere.
  • Weight: The lighter the better. When your child has a lighter bike it’s easier for them to pedal and to manage the bike itself.
  • Comfort: Your child should be comfortable above all else. When your child is comfortable on his or her bike, he or she will be more motivated to learn how to ride a bike and more confident in riding it. If your child isn’t comfortable, he or she isn’t going spend much time on the bike.

 

Final Thoughts on What Size Bike Does My Child Need

Yes, your child is going to need your help with picking out a bike — not to mention funds to buy one. But consider giving them as much freedom as possible in picking a bike they love.

You might not like the style of the bike they choose, and you might recommend a different option. But your child is going to have a greater sense of ownership if you give them as much freedom as possible in choosing the bike they want to ride.

Do you have any other bike-buying tips for children? If so, send us a message to let us know, or you can always leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Building a pillow fort is a perfect activity for rainy days, for slumber parties, for beach vacations and for any number of other occasions. But you need to have a plan before you get started, which is why you need to know how to make a pillow fort — a good one — prior to gathering up blankets and sheets for construction.

So, here’s a look at 9 tips for how to make a pillow fort, including plenty of options so that you can always make an incredible creation — no matter where you are or what you have to work with.

Don’t consider these tips must-dos or requirements. These are just ideas! Here’s the real tip: There are no rules when making a pillow fort. Test out different concepts, and find something that works for you. And, when you discover the perfect way to do your pillow fort, don’t forget to come back and let us know in the comments section. Happy building!

 

1. Get Pillows (and Bedding) From Everywhere

Go big on gathering pillows and bedding before you do anything. You want lots of building blocks to work with as you work on your pillow fort. Because here’s the thing: You’re going to try a lot of stuff that doesn’t work.

When you’re trying a pillow that’s too light to hold a load, you’re going to want a pillow that’s heavy enough to get the job done. And when a comforter is to heavy to serve as a roof, you’re going to want a sheet that’s light enough to do the trick. So, make sure you have lots of stuff to work with before you get started: chairs, pillows, sheets, blankets and more.

 

2. Find the Perfect Base

Location is everything when it comes to building a pillow fort. The best possible base is a floor with padded carpet. The worst base you can choose is hardwood or tile — it’s just not that comfortable.

After you choose the right base, look for the next level. For example, building your pillow fort adjacent to a bed allows you to wedge roofing between a mattress and box springs. And building next to a couch let’s you use the space between the couch base and cushions to wedge roofing.

 

3. Use Walls for Pinning

Here’s something that a lot of pillow fort builders miss or forget: You can pin sheets and even blankets to walls!

Yes, that’s right: Simply using thumbtacks allows you to pin things to the wall, and the thumbtacks aren’t going to leave much of a mark. You’ll find that pinning things to the wall opens up all sorts of possibilities when you’re wondering how to make a pillow fort.

 

4. Duct Tape is Good in a Pinch

Not interested in tacking anything into the wall? Try using duct tape. Duct tape is powerful when holding together a pillow fort, and it’s not going to leave much of a mark on your walls, pillows or blankets.

If it does, a little Goo Gone can do wonders on a wall, and you can always wash pillow shams and sheets and blankets after your pillow fort party if you need to rinse away any duct tape residue.

 

5. Choose Your Roof Carefully

You have a choice to make when it comes to your pillow fort’s roof. A sheet is lighter and, hence, easier to hoist and to keep up. But, a blanket is going to be denser and create a darker fort interior, which is a little more charming for when you’re throwing a pillow fort party.

If you’re going to choose the latter and use blankets for a darker pillow fort, you’ll almost certainly need to use thumbtacks or duct tape. If you can’t (or don’t want to) use tacks or tape, it might be easier to use a sheet for a roof.

 

6. Proximity to Entertainment is Key

Always build near a television, preferably one that has a DVD-Blu-Ray player or some sort of device for streaming. The best part about building a pillow fort is then popping some popcorn and turning on a show or movie to watch. You’ll love it, and your kids will, too.

 

7. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks

Entertainment is key, and to so too is food and drink. Make sure you stock your pillow fort with lots of delicious stuff to eat and drink after it’s built. In fact, your kids might love having a cooler full of goodies to stash in their pillow fort and to bring out at various times during the evening.

 

8. Name Your Creation

Back in the day when they built real forts, they always named them. So name yours, too. You can try Fort Fun or Fort Kookout or Fort de la Diversion or Fort (insert your last name here). Stand back and admire your creation, and then give it a name worthy of your time and effort.

 

9. Have a Ball

Now it’s time to have a blast. Decide to binge watch all the Toy Story movies, or choose to plow through a season of Paw Patrol.

You can even hop on YouTube and show your kids children’s shows from your youth: Pinwheel House, Today’s Special, Mr. Rogers, etc. But, no matter what, have some fun. Bake some cookies, put on some music, do whatever makes you and your kids happiest.

 

Final Thoughts on How to Make a Pillow Fort

Don’t forget to let your kids take a lead role. You can help with the vision and the plan, but let them to most of the actual creating. Part of the fun of making a pillow fort is seeing your children’s eyes light up as they take everyday household items and make something extraordinary.

Yes, adults might do a better job of making a pillow fort — but that’s not really the point. So introduce them to the tips for how to make a pillow fort, and let this become their own project.

Do you have anything else to add to the tips above? Let us know in the comments section below, or send us a message through our contact page.

 

Summer’s right around the corner, and you’re most likely itching to stay cool with a little swimming. But, if you have a newborn, you also have to ask the question: When can baby go in pool?

Your pediatrician can give you the best advice on this front, but here’s a look at recommendations by leading authorities on caring for babies and children.

No matter when you take baby in pool, always follow the touch rule. That is, when you take a baby or toddler in a swimming pool, even a wading pool or baby pool, always stay a close enough distance that you can touch your child at any time. It doesn’t take a lot of water for a little one to drown, so make sure you’re always right by your child’s side when water is involved.

The Risks With Newborns and Swimming Pools

If you’re looking for a firm age at which babies can get into the pool, shoot for 2 months. Prior to 2 months, there’s simply too much risk for a little one. What types of risks do swimming pools present? Here are just a few:

  • Illness: Even a well-maintained swimming pool can have bacteria floating around in it. If your baby comes into contact with the bacteria, it could mean an illness. Diarrhea is one of the most common issues, and it’s very difficult for babies to handle.
  • Body Temperature: Babies aren’t yet able to regulate their own body temperature to respond to cold water. For that reason, don’t take a baby into a swimming pool before 2 months, and make sure the water is warm enough up until your child turns 1. If the water feels cold to you in any way, it’s far too cold for a newborn to handle.
  • Chemicals: Chlorine and other chemicals can help keep pools clean. But a newborns skin isn’t yet ready for these chemicals, and it’s not a good idea for your baby to swallow pool water either.

The Benefits of Swimming for Babies

Let’s be clear about one thing: Don’t avoid the swimming pool once your baby is old enough to get in. There are so many benefits to swimming for babies, including:

  • Exercise: Swimming is great exercise, and it’s even better for little humans who can’t yet walk or even crawl.
  • Confidence: Swimming is one of the earliest ways your baby can experience what it means to be independent. For that reasons, swimming helps develop much-needed confidence.
  • Coordination: Swimming is also great for development and helping your baby begin to develop motor skills.
    Fun: Swimming is just a lot of fun, for adults and for babies.

Let your baby explore and enjoy the water, and you’ll unlock these benefits and many more.

Simple Baby Swimming Rules to Follow

Ready to get in the pool with baby? Here are some simple rules to follow in order to keep everyone safe:

  • Check the Temperature: If it’s cold at all, it’s too cold for baby. The same goes for heat. You wouldn’t want to take baby in a hot tub.
  • Avoid Chemicals: If a pool has too many chemicals, it’s best to skip it altogether. If there’s a powerful scent of chlorine, it’s too much for baby.
  • Discourage Swallowing: Keep your baby’s head well above water and do you best to keep him or her from swallowing any water.
  • Keep Baby Secure: Hold your child tight the entire time. Make sure you can always stand securely — so stay as far away from the deeper end of the pool as possible.

Final Thoughts on When Baby Can Go in Pool

Don’t let the idea of a swimming pool paralyze you with fear. Swimming is fun, and it can be a blast for your baby, too — if you take the right precautions. Start slowly this summer, test out the water and see how your baby responds. It could be a great activity for passing the hottest time of the year, and it might also help accelerate your child’s development.

Do you have anything to add about babies and swimming? Leave a comment below, or you can always send us a message through our contact page.