Clean Up That Room! No, Seriously.

nursery tips Whether you have one little one, three or Duggars (19 and counting), it seems to be quite a challenge to get and keep kids’ rooms (never mind the house!) organized and clean. 

As our kids get old enough to help around the house (some willingly, some not so much), one of the chores we always insist they do is clean up their rooms. Granted, not many are willing to keep their rooms clean; they only clean it up after we parents get fed up with seeing more toys than carpet on the floor! 

However, there are ways to help making cleaning the room something fun and something that kids might be more willing to do on their own, and that is by finding some great organizational tools from idealbaby.com.  Each of the items for organizing at idealbaby.com are designed with sturdy materials and are thoughtfully crafted to meet the varying needs of your child’s room. You can label the organizers and set up a game with your kids so they learn to clean up after themselves after each play session.

Organizing is necessary, even if it’s not always fun. But you can make it fun and efficient by checking out the catalog of organizing items at idealbaby.com and teach your kids the joy of a happy Mommy and Daddy with a clean, organized house!

Baby-Proof Your Home

baby safety It’s just impossible to tell your toddler not to touch anything or put anything in their mouths as this is the stage in their development when they investigate the world around them as part of their learning process.  It’s also impossible not to drop the ball when you have ran around all day in the office and then run after the kids when you get home: something’s got to give, and at some point during dinner time (when accidents are most common), the child is going to bump his head, break something and cut his finger, or your nightmare come true, choke on her toys.

While you can do your best to be super parents and provide the close supervision that curious toddlers require, make it easier for you and safer for your young one if you start with a childproof house. Of course, you can’t baby proof a house 100%, but the following tips offer a solid start.

Electrical Outlets

If you can’t hide outlets behind heavy furniture, close them off with safety plugs or safety covers to prevent kids from sticking their fingers or pins into them. Repair exposed outlets and cover them as well.

Bathrooms

Turn down the water temperature to at most 110°F. And never leave the baby in the bathtub for even a minute; they can easily drown in an inch of water. Put nonskid strips on the floors to keep the child – and even adults – from slipping. Also cover the faucet head, keep shower cords out of reach, and install toilet lid locks. Prevent your child from running into sliding-glass doors by decorating them with decals.

Nursery

Lower the crib mattress when the child starts crawling, and remove things inside the crib like bumper pads and toys that he or she can use to climb out. Lock all the drawers as children may use the open ones to climb unto the top of the cabinet. Also fasten cabinets and other light furniture onto the wall to keep them from toppling over the child. Banish rickety furniture and lock them away in the garage. Install windows guards, cordless window treatments, and safety glass so they won’t shatter when a child falls into them.

Stairways

Never install a gate at the top of the stairs as the child can climb over it and fall from a much higher height. Install gates at the bottom of the stairway instead to prevent them from crawling up. Keep the stairway clear from toys and other items at all times to prevent anyone, especially adults carrying children, from slipping.

Cabinets and Doors

Install doorknob covers and locks especially on easy to reach doors and drawers regardless of their content. Children are likely to put anything they can find in these places inside their mouths or experiment with them that can lead to other accidents like cuts and burns.

Kitchen

Never let a child play at your feet while you are cutting or cooking. Something scalding may spill out of the stove and unto the child at your feet. Use the back burners when cooking, and turn the handles of pots and pans away from the child’s grasp after their use. Always keep anything sizzling or boiling or simmering well-attended so you prevent children from grabbing them. Keep all small kitchen appliances and all sharp objects on the top drawers. Lock all the cabinets especially those that contain harmful cleaners. Take the stove knobs out after cooking as children may play with these and start fire. Lock garbage cans as these may contain sharp objects or bacterial hazards.

Living Room

Empty drinks and ashtrays after a party at home as these can be toxic to children when ingested. Keep all cords out of their reach and cushion sharp edges and corners of tables with padded guards. Place all curios on the top of the bookshelf to eliminate choking hazards. Suspend all plants from the ceiling using hangers to prevent children from pulling at the leaves and toppling the plants on top of them.

Pets and Pet Supplies

Move all food dishes unto the top shelf. Find a place for cat litter away from the usual environment of your child as the litter contains parasites that could lead to toxoplasmosis which damages the brain, eyes and other organs. Given the seriousness of contamination, always handle poop, and cat litter especially, with gloved hands. Move the baby out of the pet’s area when the pet is feeding to prevent the child from mimicking the pet and joining them for dinner.

The Big 4 Baby Gear Essentials

baby gear Having a baby is admittedly exciting, and part of the excitement is the shopping of essential baby gear that goes with welcoming into the world your bundle of joy. With a slew of brands to consider, you can easily get overwhelmed with the long list of gear and other products that you need to get ready by the time the baby comes home from the hospital, to say nothing of the dizzying features that these products offer every new parent. So before you pile on the nursery with things that the baby may end up not needing, keep in mind that you only need a few essentials to start with. Let the following be your basic guideline in shopping for them right.

Car Seat

The baby’s first ride should not only be memorable (at least for the parents) but most importantly, safe. In this regard, the car seat is an indispensable baby gear that should be chosen with extra care. Do not get lost with all the choices available to you: when it comes to infant car seats, you need them rear-facing. Whether you settle for the detachable or convertible type (changeable to forward facing as the baby grows older) is optional. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep the baby in rear-facing seats until they are two years old, or whenever they outgrow the seats.

Crib and Crib Mattress

Buy new to be sure cribs are up to the latest safety standards, or if receiving a pre-loved version, make sure it meets the safety criteria of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. (This is where you can also check for recalled baby products.) Ensure that the cribs have no loose, missing or broken parts, and that all moving parts run on track smoothly. The space between slats should be no more than 2 3/8 of an inch (do the soda can test; it should not fit). The top of the corner post should be no higher than 1/16 of an inch so no clothing gets snagged.

Firm and snug should be your guideline in buying the crib mattress. The space between the crib frame and the mattress should be no greater than two fingers’ width (if it is, buy a bigger one) and use a fitted bottom sheet. Reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by keeping the crib free of smothering hazards. As adorable as they may be, stuffed toys should be banished from the crib, along with pillows, blankets, bumper pads and sleep positioners.

Stroller/Bassinet

As with the other baby gear essentials, there’s really so much to choose from in this category but you only need to look for a few qualities: sturdy bottom with a wide base, legs with locks, smooth surfaces, and snug-fitting mattress for bassinet. As for strollers, reclining seats, cup holders, trays, under baskets are some of the features you should look for, while you may also want to consider seats that double as carriers to make transfer to a car seat easier, and lightweight brands for easier handling. (Keep in mind that when using lightweight strollers, or any stroller or bassinet for that matter, you should never hang anything on the handles as this may tip the stroller backwards.)

High Chair

As early as six months, babies are able to sit up and eat solid food. This is an exciting time for parents as their children can now join the family at the table, and a highchair allows this happy arrangement. Go for ones that have a wide base and easy-to-use straps. Use these straps to restrain a wriggly baby and do not rely on the tray to keep the young one in his or her place. The straps also ensure that the baby is always seated in the high chair and not given a chance to stand up and tip over.

Top Baby Items You Should Never Buy Used

new babyWhen you welcome a new baby, it can be one of the most exciting times in your life – as well as one of the most expensive. You suddenly need to buy all kinds of new gear, from cribs to bouncy seats to strollers to car seats. That’s not to mention all the clothes, diapers, bottles, and other accessories you’ll need.

One way to save money is to buy some of those items used or to accept hand-me-downs from friends and relatives. However, there are a few baby items that you should never buy used.

Cribs

There are many guidelines for what makes a crib safe, such as the size of the slats, what materials it is made of, and the type of hardware and accessories that are on it. These guidelines are constantly being updated. When you buy a crib used, the chances are very high that it no longer meets safety standards. For example, many older cribs have drop sides, which are no outlawed. Make the investment in a new crib and ensure your baby’s safety.

Mattresses

You never know what could be lurking in an older crib mattress. Urine and vomit are highly likely on a mattress that slept a baby or toddler, but you may not be able to see the stains. Mattresses can also harbor bacteria and pests, such as bed bugs. Cleaning them may not get rid of all these issues. Stick to new mattresses to know what you’re really getting.

Car Seats

Just like cribs, the safety standards for car seats are always changing. Unlike cribs, they also have an expiration date. If you buy a used car seat, you may not know how old it really is. You also won’t know for sure if the car seat has been in an accident, which can weaken its effectiveness and put your baby at risk if you are in an accident yourself. Always buy your car seats new.

How to Keep the Baby Germ-Free

baby health cleaning A healthy baby is a happy baby. But since they have no concept of clean and dirty yet, and their very nature makes them explore their environment in sometimes dangerous ways (like putting a toy they picked up from the floor in their mouths, causing either choking or contracting germs that could cause fevers or worse), it’s important to keep a hawk’s eye on them and making the places they come in contact with germ-free.

While we all have a decent collection of germs in our skin and even in our guts that perform a host of beneficial roles, most germs can make your child ill as they don’t yet have a fully mature defense system to cope with the onslaught of fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites.

To keep their space as visibly and microscopically clean as possible, parents resort to using disinfectants that may not necessarily be child-friendly. Make sure instead that cleansing agents are child-appropriate by choosing products that are free from parabens, fragrances, dyes, alcohol and phthalates that could irritate the baby’s system.

When eager relatives and friends come visit, make sure they don’t bring with them the unwelcome gift of contagious diseases. Anyone with even a slight fever, sniffles, sore throat, sneezes or cough should be reminded that the best gift they could give at this time is to stay away from the child. As this may not be altogether preventable, lest you make a lot of important people feel left out, use air purifiers to keep the ventilation in the child’s room germ-free.

Washing hands is mandatory for anyone who comes in contact with the child. A 20-second rub with warm water and soap is usually sufficient to prevent the spread of germs, especially when that same hands have just visited the bathroom, shaken another person’s hand, or handled raw meat, vegetables, fruits or pets.

Also steer clear from kissing the child, especially the newborn, in the face. While that may look adorable, it is not healthy, as far as smearing the newborn’s cheek with mucus and saliva, two hotbeds for germs.

By the time the baby hits at least eight months old, he or she will be old enough to be taught the value of washing hands. Sing the alphabet song as you do. (This is how long it takes to kill the bacteria and get the little one’s hands clean.)

When trying to assess how thorough you should be in keeping the baby and the baby’s place clean (and the hands of those who come in contact with them), remember the following dirtiest places, from most to least, as far as babies are concerned: kitchen sink, carpets, playgrounds, shopping cart handles, bathtubs, and bed linens.

Easy Tips on Completing Your Baby’s Room on a Budget

Baby's Room A lot of first-time parents, especially moms, get too stressed out about having to decorate and complete their newborn’s room. There’s a wide range of baby stuff to choose from that it’s hard to know which ones to spend on without doing too much damage financially. If you’re working with a budget, as you definitely should, keeps these tips in mind as you build your baby’s nursery room.

Research on the essentials and narrow down your choices of items to actually splurge on. While you can get away with cheap find for some baby necessities, you also have to go for quality ones that would ensure your baby’s comfort and safety for items such as the crib, changing table, baby monitor, and so on. But even before you get your hands on any furniture or accessory, it’s better to come up with a theme in which you’ll build the room around on. Start by choosing statement pieces, which would serve as the focal point of the room in terms of visual appeal. Afterwards, pick out several accents and other accessories that could be both functional and pleasing to the eyes as well. It’s all about getting the most out of your money, especially since babies grow up so fast and a lot of their belongings end up being left unused.

Looking for the perfect accents and other quirky additions to your baby’s room? Head on out to the Signature Little Ones website and take a look at their wide range of room décor items, which are bound to add more character to your nursery. The good news is that you can also create your gift registry with them and leave it to your friends and family to get all the items that you want for your baby as well!

4 Effective Ways on How to Teach Kids to Save

BanksIf there is any takeaway in the mortgage crisis, it’s that even adults are not as financially literate as they should be.

Financial skills are crucial to navigating life. Contrary to popular belief, money does buy happiness, because if you are not bound to debts you are free to arrange your life around your genuine interests rather than the need to continue working to keep up with the mortgage. As made clear in the 2008 economic downturn, financial literacy needs to be taught to the younger generation so they avoid the mistakes of their elders. And since schools don’t really teach children about money, it’s up to the parents to impart to their children important financial lessons as they grow up. Here are some ideas on how to go about it.

1. Make saving fun so it becomes a habit. Children as young as three years old can already grasp the basic concepts of saving and spending. But you need to make them feel that it is just another game and not a task that is demanded of them. Otherwise, they will associate saving with dislike when they grow up. To make it easy for you to convince them and make it fun for them to oblige, give them a colorful and unique container where they can watch their savings grow. A more creative take on the traditional piggy banks are animal belly banks that children can ‘feed’ with coins as they watch their money slide down the animal’s throat.

2. Create a savings goal chart. With a chart, children will eventually understand that delaying gratification can sometimes pay off with huge returns, like owning a coveted yet expensive toy that requires a long time to save up for. To inspire them, make a visual goal chart, like posting the picture of the child’s desired item on a corkboard and ticking off the weeks that have gone by. This way, the child can see how far or near he or she is from the goal.

3. Offer rewards. Some of the child’s wants sometimes have to be fulfilled to avoid early disappointment.  So if the child has saved up for four weeks or did not spend his money for a certain amount of time, a treat can be offered to keep him inspired.

4. Be financially savvy yourself. Set a good example and let your child see that you are saving, too. Explain that the money you withdraw from the bank comes from working for 8 hours a day and not just dispensed by the machine without effort on your part. Keep a simple lifestyle and introduce your child to simple joys that often cost next to nothing.

Personalized Baby Gifts Make the Best Gifts

Gifts We’ve all traipsed up and down the aisles of the mega baby retail stores like Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby searching for the perfect baby gift. Yes all the “Dad’s #1 Fan” and rubber duckie onesies are adorable, but for the special person in your life who is expecting you want to get them a beautiful, unique baby gift. And what is more unique and meaningful than personalizing your baby gift with the little one’s name or the family name?

If you need some more convincing as to why personalized baby gifts make the best gifts, here are some important reasons:

Personalization Adds a Personal Touch

New parents may not remember who gave them the packet of baby blankets or stuffed animals, but they will certainly appreciate who added the special touch of getting them embroidered with their new precious bundle’s name.

Personalized Gifts Turn Into Treasures

Personalizing a baby gift puts it on the fast track to the keepsake box. Parents will forever cherish gifts that bear their baby’s name.

You Won’t Need a Gift Receipt

Even when buying from a baby registry, doubling up occurs. Save yourself the embarrassment of repeating gifts by choosing something from her registry (or a similar item) and personalize it.

You Can Buy Personalized Gifts Online

To eliminate an additional stop on your way home from the mega baby stores to have your purchases personalized, shop for customizable baby gifts online. For example, Signature Little Ones offers a huge variety of personalized gifts, like artwork for the nursery, toys, blankets and more.

A new baby’s arrival is a special occasion. Gift the new parents personalized baby gear that is sure to melt their heart when they read their baby’s name.

One For The Tooth Fairy

Tooth Fairy One of the first prominent signs that your child is growing up comes with the loss of their first baby tooth.  Sure, it’s a natural rite of passage, and everyone expects it, but it’s nonetheless a surprise to discover a loose tooth, and even more of a surprise to first behold the grin of a child who has recently lost their first tooth.

Tooth Fairy Beginnings

The origins of the tooth fairy are varied, and include characters other than fairies, who abscond into the wee hours of the night, with the newly freed tooth in hand, having paid well for it. Whatever the story, it’s fairly probable that the invention of someone or something that can’t be seen as it makes clandestine visits to the homes of children in possession of newly vacated teeth is rooted in a bit of coercion.

The Torture of Watching a Loose Tooth

Since the dawn of time, it’s fairly certain that the sight of a child bearing a dangling-toothed smile has been a source of anxiety for nearby adults, who understand that, with a short yank, the tooth could be out easily and effectively.  For some, it’s torturous to watch a child playing with a loose tooth with their tongue, flexing it back and forth. The adults just want the whole thing to be over and done with.  Most dangling-toothed children, however, are not so quick to agree.

A Bribe?

It had to be something to do with adult enticement that the story of the tooth fairy was rooted. With cold hard cash being the payoff to coax children who were otherwise reluctant or outright refusing to allow any form of adult tooth removal intervention, it’s certain that many baby teeth were removed in a jiffy.

A Tooth Pillow for the Tooth Fairy

Whatever the origin of the tooth fairy story, it has proven to be a lasting tradition to be told to and believed by the young children of families everywhere. And as these little teeth are sometimes difficult for the tooth fairy to find among the pillows and sheets, it’s a good idea to allocate a specific container to hold the tooth that’s ready and awaiting tooth fairy pickup. A personalized tooth fairy pillow makes the ideal method of containment for every occasion when a tooth is being “sold” to the tooth fairy, and it’ll make your child feel even better about the entire process.

Preparing a Nursery for your Newborn

Crib Whether preparing for your first child or your third, the process can be an overwhelming one.  No matter how much time and effort you put into getting everything just right, you may never quite feel ready.  Prepping the nursery is one of the most important steps as you get ready to welcome home the newest addition of your family.  When deciding what to put in your nursery, consider the major demands of a newborn.  The following are some of the most important things to incorporate into your nursery to make sure it is the perfect place to raise your child.

Crib

The crib is one of the most important pieces of furniture that you will need to purchase.  Look for a model that was built after 1991 as this was when safety regulations became stricter and more mandated.  Choose a crib setup that looks soothing and comfortable.  Newborns spend a lot of time sleeping, resting and napping.  It is important to have a crib that is comfortable, but more importantly, safe and durable.

Changing Table

As a parent-to-be, it is best to accept how many diapers you are going to change over the course of infancy.  While this is an inevitable outcome that cannot be avoided, you can be prepared and make the job a little bit easier.  Purchasing a changing table for the nursery allows you dedicate a small area specifically to this dirty job.  A changing table provide you with a safe, clean surface on which to change your baby’s diaper.  It also comes with ample storage space to all of the diaper-changing necessities like wipes and creams so that you are never left without what you need.

Rocking Chair

There will be many nights when your ornery little one will wake you up in the middle of the night, craving the familiar touch of Mom or Dad.  Including a soothing rocking chair or recliner in the nursery is a great way to prepare for the many sleepless nights that await.  You will most likely find yourself spending many nights rocking your child back into a peaceful sleep.  This will be much more easily accomplished with a comfortable chair.  Down the road, you will look back on those nights fondly.

Bringing a newborn home for the first time is both an exciting and frightening experience.  By creating a nursery equipped for all of the challenges that infancy brings, this process will be just a little more manageable.  Prepare early and take the time to create the perfect nursery before bringing home your little one.  Visit www.idealbaby.com for a great selection on high quality nursery furniture and every kind of baby accessory.