Triumph the Winter Flu!

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With the cold winter forecast on Pluto, it should be of great importance to ensure that your kids stay healthy and away from the dreaded Flu! We all have our fair share of experiences with sick children… You know, the crying, fussy behavior, loss of appetite, crankiness, and so on so forth. Knowing what you will have to deal with, let us be sure to do our best to keep our kids healthy this Flu Season. Here are some quick tips to help your children stop the Flu bug from invading Pluto:

  • Stay Clean – There just aren’t enough sinks in the world to keep up with an active toddler’s hand-washing needs. Disinfect your childs’ hands (and yours) constantly with your most trusted Hand Sanitizer.

  • Stay Hydrated – Make sure your kids are properly hydrated throughout the day. More trips to the bathroom isn’t as bad as a week’s worth of miserable crying children =) If you’re having trouble getting your child to drink water, try making it fun and let them choose their own Nalgene bottle – whether it’s their favorite character or favorite color, it’ll make drinking h2o more enjoyable.

  • Stay Warm – Make sure the home is warm and cozy. I remember one of my fondest winter memory as a child was being inside my home, bundled in a blanket, and watching Christmas movies. When outside, layer your children up with clothing. Although the sun may be out, it’s still quite chilly, especially if there is a slight breeze!

  • Stay Moisturized – Piggybacking off the tip above about staying warm, if you turn on the heater in the house, this often comes with the side-effect of dry skin. Keep your child’s skin moisturized with the frequent application of body lotion. Take it one step further and use humidifiers as they are great for providing moisture to help soothe nasal congestion, dry cough, sinus irritation, and dry skin.

  • Stay rested – Have your kids stick to an early bedtime schedule to get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation nearly doubles the risk of catching a cold or the flu.

  • Stay nutritious – Meals with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables will help boost your child’s immune system. Look for foods rich in Vitamins C and D.

Lastly, and most importantly, go as a family and get your flu shots!

Have a great weekend and stay healthy everyone!

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Which Christmas Card are You?

Doesn’t the world seem so much smaller this time of year?  There’s something about Christmas that just brings people together.  The common theme of Joy, Hope, and Love provides for a universal platform where people can relate to each other, despite differences in age, gender, race, religion, etc.  You can feel it all around you: houses decorated with Christmas lights, presents under the Christmas tree, Mariah Carey Christmas songs on the radio, eggnog in the grocery stores, Christmas cards in the mail, the list goes on and on… and I’m not talking about Santa’s naughty or nice list =)

With everything going on around me, I admit that Christmas this time of year came swiftly and I was not at all prepared.  Next thing I knew, I was rushing to get last minute stocking stuffers and Secret Santa gifts, looking up recipes for the family holiday potluck, and ever since I picked up photography, helping my sister and her family take pictures for their Christmas Card.  You would think that the latter would be one of the easier of the tasks mentioned… not so much.

Before even taking Christmas card pictures, you have to have a game-plan.  What is the message you want to send?  How do you want the message to come across?  Outfits?  Location?  Lighting?  Time?  etc. etc. etc…?  All these need to be taken into consideration before even picking up the camera.  Having gone through this already, I have laid out some examples that you may consider when taking pictures for your Christmas card.  Have a look and ENJOY!  So, which Christmas card are you?

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Simple Toys for Kids

Today’s advanced technology with it’s motion sensors, sensory pads, audio and visual capabilities can often lead to the misperception that modern is better, especially with the case of toys and games for kids. Yes, I admit, with the invention of the iPad, the task to keep your child entertained is on cruise control.

Pros: You can be rest-assured that your child will be entertained, sitting, and behaving.

Cons: You lose that sense engagement with your child.

Sometimes simpler is better and less is more.  Let’s try putting down the iPad and other advanced technological toys that came out of a box and let’s be creative with the most simplest and fun toys/games that can be just as effective and possibly even more memorable.

Never run out of fun things to do with these clever ideas! Engaging, interactive, and fun, these simple games/toys will provide your child with hours and hours of amusement.

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How to Win the Battle of Kids Against Vegetables

Let’s face it. There exists an ongoing battle between kids and vegetables.

You know how it is…

Eat your broccoli, eat your carrots.

Response:

I don’t want to eat that” =(

This is vegetable reality. Kids aren’t going to eat their leafy greens just because you say vegetables are good for them and seeing your child refuse to eat vegetables can get quite frustrating. Veggies benefit child development, as it is a great source of fiber, vitamins and nutrients. But darn it, how do we get kids to eat vegetables?!

Don’t worry, this is a war you can win, and auntie k is here to help.

What you need is a plan of action, creative ideas, and a few good recipes. I will show you how to disguise vegetables cleverly and make them fun and kid-friendly. Armed with these creative tactics, victory is almost certain!

Now get out there and start sneaking!

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Weigh The Benefits: Organic Food and Your Toddler

Where does your food come from? A farm? A factory? Do you know what you’re putting in your mouth? Thanks to amazing grocery stores, farm-to-table initiatives, the Non-GMO Project, the EPA (and many, many others!) you can discover exactly where your food was created and how. It’s up to you to test the waters and yes, it can be very scary!

Organic food is a very viable option if you want to be cautious about not putting overly processed items in your body. Organic foods are free of pesticides, chemicals, and most preservatives that are used when growing and processing food items. If you look at the list of ingredients on organic items, there is no sign of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

The key here is to look for foods labeled “USDA Organic.” This means that: antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, synthetic growth hormones, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and pesticides are not used to produce the foods. These are harmful and potentially toxic substances.

Organic food has changed the landscape of child nutrition today and eating “clean” the way to go. You know that what you’re ingesting wasn’t pumped full of chemicals and hormones to make it look better and grow larger. Organic produce certainly isn’t cheap, but you can pick and choose. There are certain produce items that contain fewer pesticides than others if you don’t have the funds to buy purely organic. Check out theses items deemed the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 15.”

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 The EPA has worked significantly since the late 90s to stop the use of organophosphates (OP) in children’s food products. These are the most toxic form of pesticides. Organophosphates are linked to mental health disorders in children: depression, memory problems, and attention deficit disorder. Even mild symptoms like nausea and dizziness can occur from pesticide exposure.

Even recent studies have shown that some organic foods are actually more nutritious. It’s been proven that organic vegetables and fruits contain up to 30% more antioxidants. Organic milk has a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids.

This explains why it’s so necessary that pregnant women, infants, and children stick to an organic diet. They need the most nutrients out of food that they can get. Infants and children are the most vulnerable to the toxic effects from pesticides for a few reasons; Children seem to absorb pesticides more easily; their GI tract, (which is not fully developed), has a hard time breaking toxins down; last but not least, pesticides can rob your child of valuable nutrients by blocking them from being fully absorbed.

Your child’s healthy growth and development is essential and the cleaner they eat the better. Avoiding processed foods is a wonderful way to start a change. Your child needs foods closest to their original state to ensure they get the most nutrients from them. Remember, the more processed the food, the less nutritional value it has.

While I’m talking about nutrition for children, I have to say that a little bit of sugar, salt, or even butter is not going to harm your child, of course in moderation that is! It’s actually so much better to have a little of the real stuff, instead of buttery spreads or drinks filled with aspartame. Please, please stay away from chemicals and go for the real thing.

I know how tempting those packaged foods are after a long day, especially if you have a hungry, screaming toddler clinging to your ankles. I realize time is crucial as a parent, but there are quick and easy options, keep it simple! Steam some broccoli, boil some brown rice, and pick up a chicken from the store. Puree veggies and add them to organic mac and cheese. Make more and freeze it. It doesn’t have to be time consuming so get creative!

I hope this gives you a better idea of organic food. Everything you need to for a healthy, happy, and simple family life can be found in nature. Thanks to Emma from Emma’s Children for guest posting for Kids are from Pluto!

Emma Jenner, a child development and behavioral specialist who launched Emma’s Children, a consulting service whose goal is to provide parents the tools they need to take care of their most valuable asset.  To see more of her work, visit her site here.

Parenting Tip: Rewarding Good Behavior

Being a mother of two is no easy task, supplemented with having an older child with ADHD makes it even more of a challenge, but through everything, and with the support of my wonderful husband, I remain optimistic and confident knowing nothing is impossible. My name is Charity Shilkret, and I’d like to share this story with you.

There was a point in the past year that our 6-year-old son, Lucas, was so addicted to his Nintendo 3DS Mario game that it would be all he would talk about.  He’d burst out at dinner talking about some Koopa-something-or-other.  It was almost scary to see him zoned out and hunched over his video game as if he was possessed. 

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