What Being Your Own Boss Means For Your Health Insurance

I took the leap into entrepreneurship nine years ago and, for the most part, haven’t looked back. I love having the freedom to carve my own path and do things my own way. That said, there are a couple of minor downsides of being my own boss—a big one being the lack of health benefits.

Prior to self-employment, benefits were provided as part of my former marketing gig— so my family could get the care we needed without thinking much about it. After I left my job, the benefits were hard to give up—especially since my husband is also self-employed as a real estate agent.

In the last year alone, here are just some examples of costs we would have had to pay out-of-pocket if it weren’t for our private health benefits.

  1. A missed jump on the part of my aspiring ‘Ninja Warrior’ son = ambulance ride.

2. Multiple trips to the dentist because of my son’s weak tooth enamel.

3.  An eye exam for a mama whose eyes are starting to get tired from staring at a computer.

4.  Massage and physiotherapy for stiff muscles and cramped hands caused by that same screen.

5. Cough, cold, flu …enough said = prescription coverage.

Because of our coverage, the above have been minor blips along the road— instead of major stressors or bank-account-drainers. I hope to never need to use my coverage for anything more serious (*knocks on wood*), but it gives me tremendous peace of mind knowing we’re protected for medical expenses large or small.

Visit ab.bluecross.ca to learn how you can stay protected in Alberta.

Written By: Sarah Remmer, BSc. RD
Registered Dietitian

A topic that frequently comes up in my counselling practice is protein. How much does my baby or child need, how do I make sure they’re getting enough, and how can they eat meat if they only have three teeth! I have to admit, I have seen a toothless toddler scarf down slow-cooked beef with ease. It’s not the prettiest thing to witness, but it is possible. But not all babies and toddlers enjoy the taste and texture of meat. It can be a tricky food to introduce, but the important thing is to keep introducing even if your baby doesn’t immediately love it. For those babies and kids who are not carnivores, or who eat little to no meat, there is a way to incorporate protein without worry or pressure. I’m talking about plant-based proteins.

But first, it’s important to know that kids (and adults) don’t require a steak the size of their plate in order to receive the recommended amount of protein. Portion distortion is a real thing people! For example, according the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s) for protein, kids between the ages of 4-8 years old only need 19 grams per day or 0.95 g/kg/day. So, what does this look like? In plant-based protein this would be ½ cup of chickpeas or 1 cup of lentils.  What’s important to remember is that babies and children are most likely obtaining their protein requirements through food, especially if protein is offered at multiple occasions throughout the day.

In my household, meat is not an everyday occurrence. I try to incorporate plant-based protein (also known as pulses) into my family’s diet not only because they are excellent sources of protein, but because they are quick, versatile, cost-effective and delicious! And did you know that Canada is one of the biggest exporters of pulses!? That includes beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas! If you follow me on social media, you may know that I have a serious love of lentils. My pantry is always stocked with cans of lentils to add to meals or baked goodies. I find it an easy way to boost the fibre (and therefore the feeling of fullness) to my kid’s meals and snacks.

And I’m SO thrilled that Baby Gourmet has jumped on board with this plant-based trend and created a new line up of nutritious and delicious 100% plant-based, lentil and chickpea finger food for babies —no rice or weird ingredients here! As a mom and Dietitian, I love that there’s finally a nutritious, high quality snacking choice down the baby aisle.

I thought I would share with you my love of lentils (and all plant-based protein) by giving you my top five reasons WHY you should add plant-based protein to your baby’s and child’s diet, as well as my top five reasons HOW to add plant-based protein to meals and snacks. So here goes!

Top Five Reasons You Should Be Including Plant-based Protein in Your Child’s Diet

  1. They are a great way to increase satiety (the feeling of fullness). Kids have little tummies. Which is why they require smaller more frequent meals. Pulses not only contain protein, but fibre too. Protein and fibre can help keep kids feeling fuller longer, which means less snack requests five minutes after a meal!
  2. Help with digestion. As a new parent I was obsessed with my kids poop. Why was it yellow, why was it green, what does THAT mean, is it supposed to smell that bad? The list was endless. Finally, my dietitian brain kicked in and I realized that as long as they were pooping and growing (and their stool didn’t contain blood) the colour or smell didn’t matter. All kids at some point or another develop a bit of constipation. Trying new foods, water intake, and so on can affect bowel movements. Pulses contain two types of fibre, both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre helps with digestion and regularity, and pulses are a fantastic source! Also, Baby Gourmet’s new lentil and chickpea finger foods contain tummy-friendly probiotics that can help this cause too!
  3. They are convenient. What’s for dinner?! The panic sets in. In my opinion (and experience) this is where lentils really shine. Canned lentils are a staple in my household. Simply rinse them thoroughly and add to just about anything. They add flavour, texture, and a whole lot of great nutrition.
  4. Super kid-friendly. We’ve all been there. Supper comes and goes, and your toddler still did not eat their chicken. Surely, they will be hungry and miss out on essential nutrition that they need to grow and thrive! Wrong. Parents often think about their kid’s nutrition meal by meal, when in fact they should think about the day as a whole. So, on the night that they decided “no” to the chicken, keep in mind that they said “yes” to the carrot and hummus snack and to the lentil nuggets you made for lunch! Remember you are in control of what (and when) food is offered, and the kiddos are in charge of if they eat and how much.
  5. The possibilities are endless. When it comes to plant-based protein the possibilities are endless. Chickpeas are a fantastic finger food or snack, and lentils can be used in main dishes and baked goods! Yum.

 

Top Five Ways to Incorporate Plant-based Protein in Your Child’s Diet

 

  1. Snack time. What kid doesn’t love snacks. Try hummus (chickpea spread) and veggies or for older kids, roasted chickpeas! They’re crunchy and delicious. Bonus if you ask the kids to help make them.
  2. Baked goods. Lentils are the perfect pulse to add to baked goods. Check out this recipe for flourless chocolate lentil protein muffins.
  3. Meatless Monday. We all get stuck in meal preparation ruts. It’s easy to fall back on the sample old recipes. By opening up the protein base you give yourself the opportunity to try new things. Why not aim for plant-based protein once a week?
  4. Add to sauces and casseroles. I’ve added lentils to spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, you name it. It’s an easy and affordable way to add extra protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals (like iron)!
  5. Finger food. Chickpeas are a fantastic finger food for babies and toddlers. Simply rinse canned chickpeas thoroughly and serve. They are soft and entertaining and great way to practice the “pincher grasp”. Another great finger food is lentil nuggets. Perfect for little hands and the whole family!

Join us in August and November for our MomChat parties!

Let’s Chat  Back To School and the Holidays

Each MomChat week will run for 5 days.  The first day will be a Facebook party and the last day will be a Twitter party and each of the 5 days we will feature two of the MomChat sponsors on our social media pages. All sponsors will also be featured at the beginning of the week in our newsletter. Click here to learn how to become a sponsor.

Our fans and followers have 2 ways to win a prize from our sponsors; by answering one of our Facebook or Twitter party questions on the first and last day of the week!

If you haven’t been to a facebook or twitter party before, it’s easy! Just be online during the 1 hour party and answer each question as they are posted. If you are on twitter, remember to include the hashtag #MomChat18  so we can choose a winner from the responses.  We will choose each winner live during the party!

See you in August for the MomChat 2018 party!

Diagnostic medical imaging is extremely valuable for assessing the pediatric population. Specific imaging modalities can be particularly helpful for doctors by providing information needed to make accurate assessments, leading to an appropriate and timely treatment plan. However, working with infants, children, and adolescents creates several unique challenges, including resistance from parents to altered medical procedures and techniques for healthcare workers. The purpose of this article is to provide clarity about pediatric diagnostic imaging, so you can be confident your child’s exam is necessary and the medical benefits outweigh any potential risks involved.

Children are different from adults in several ways; from a granular perspective, maturity and independence have a large impact on behavior. From a more simplistic perspective, a child’s physiology is completely different than an adults’. As stated by the World Health Organization, “Children are not just little adults.” Therefore, the distinct challenges accompanied with pediatric imaging must be addressed by healthcare providers.

Arguably the biggest challenge for doctors and technicians attempting to capture high quality images from a child is gaining their complete trust, which results in their cooperation during the exam. This can be tough when a child is placed in an intimidating and unfamiliar environment such as an MRI machine. It can be incredibly difficult for a child to remain still in the loud machine for the duration of the exam (often 30 minutes or longer). If a child cannot remain still for the exam, a slight immobilizer might be needed. However, support from parents and family can help in comforting a child, and most providers prefer not to rely on sedatives for an exam.

Another factor that must be taken into consideration is the basic physiology of the patient. A 6-year-old girl will have drastically different organ development compared to a 45-year-old man. As such, adjustments must be made on the providers end. Any exam that emits radiation should only be performed when the healthcare provider believes it is necessary to answer a clinical question or to help with treatment.  Additionally, FDA recommends X-ray imaging exams are optimized for the lowest possible radiation dose (As low as reasonably achievable – the ALARA principle).

Numerous factors influence the amount of radiation needed, but a patient’s size and tissue density are the most important factors when determining the dose. Age gives imaging providers a benchmark to start with, but the actual distance the X-ray travels through the body has the largest impact on picture quality.

Unnecessary radiation exposure should be avoided at a young age, however, X-rays, CT scans, and other diagnostic imaging tests should never be withheld from a child or adolescent if the results could aid in the diagnosis or treatment of a serious medical condition.

It is important to note that healthcare providers are responsible for ensuring all diagnostic exams are justifiable for pediatrics. If there is another option to reach the same conclusions without radiation exposure, such as an ultrasound or MRI, it will be strongly considered. Ultrasound is particularly useful because it is readily available and does not involve ionized radiation. Furthermore, ultrasound exams can be repeated for follow up studies with no significant risks and no concerns for additional exposure.

At Insight Medical Imaging we encourage parents to talk to their healthcare provider before undertaking an exam with radiation exposure. Talk about the benefits, risks, and ask if there are any other exams, such as ultrasound that can provide similar findings. You can also talk to your physician about different imaging facilities, how they use radiation techniques for children, and if any special preparation is required.

Diagnostic medical imaging exams such as X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI can be intimidating for both parents and children. Although you may be concerned about radiation exposure, your medical practitioner will only recommend an exam when the benefits far outweigh the associated risks. X-ray exams are commonly used, and while radiation exposure might seem frightening, you would need to be exposed to a large quantity of X-rays in a relatively short period of time before you should be concerned about impacts on your health. Just remember, the radiation exposure you receive from being in the sun on average in a year is equivalent to roughly 60 chest X-rays!

On the road with your toddler this spring? You need to pack for distraction — hours of it. Books, videos, toys and games abound.

Then, there are the snacks. While you can deal with the kids projectile-launching food at home relatively easily, your hands and senses will be dutifully occupied on the road. You need healthy snacks that fit in their little hands, leaving them full and tantrum-free. It’s important to strike a balance by packing a few of their favorites, as well as mostly healthy, mess-free foods.

Here are eight car-friendly, tasty snacks your kids will love you for bringing along.

  1. Waffles

As long as you don’t use syrup, waffles are already handheld. Pop them in the toaster, pack them and give them to your kid. Though toppings traditionally make the waffle the glorious food that it is — your kid will likely destroy the bare waffle on the spot — it even makes a fun faux steering wheel!

  1. Wraps

Take smaller tortillas and spread seed or nut butter across them for a healthy snack. Whether your kids are fans of peanut butter and jelly or lunchmeat and cheese sandwiches, all you have to do is roll it up and go.

  1. Dry Cereal

Face it. You want to cook the least amount of healthy road trip food possible, and you also don’t want to buy junk from the store stuffed with artificial ingredients. Dry cereal is the answer. Scoop out your toddler’s favorite cereal, then pack it up. They’re sure to spend at least a few minutes happily crunching away.

  1. Fruit and Fig Bars

They’re part cookie, part cake, but they also have fruit in them. Fruit and fig bars are a curiously healthy and enticing road trip snack for your toddler — you’re one sneaky parent.

Ask the grocery store clerk which aisle holds the sacred granola bars, and you’re in business for the healthy fruit snack attack.

  1. Cheese, Please!

Adults and kids alike seem to have a weakness for cheese. The ooey-gooey richness of cheese comes in many flavors and consistencies, like peppery, smoky and herby, for example. There’s cheese for every picky palate. Chances are, your kid loves it in mac-n-cheese. But unfortunately, that won’t do on a road trip.

Cheese and crackers are a classic road trip snack, whether they’re homemade or pre-packaged. String cheese is even better for the car, as it’s an easy peel-to-eat snack without the mess. Your child will have fun peeling back each string and eating it. Plus, the movement is excellent for developing motor skills.

  1. Squeezable Applesauce

Applesauce cups and spoons don’t mix with toddlers — unless they’re practicing invading a castle with projectile fruit mush. Hey, it could work.

Go the squeezable route while you’re on the road if your toddler has a thing for applesauce. Maybe they will squeeze it on their face, but it won’t be on the top of your head. With practice, the applesauce goes inside toddler tummies where it belongs.

With ingenuity, you can even make your own refillable homemade applesauce pouches, though extra-crunchy moms may have to do a taste test through a straw for chunkier applesauce. At worst, it becomes food for a great gag video.

  1. Cut Up Veggie Sticks

Your kids are more likely to get their full spectrum of nutrition in when they eat the rainbow. Health experts advise parents and children to fill their plates halfway with colorful veggies and fruits and the other side with whole grains, protein and other nutritional foods.

You won’t have a plate, per say, on the road trip, but you can still let your toddler taste a healthier rainbow on the road. Cut up veggie sticks of colorful peppers, zucchini, celery and carrots, then throw in cucumber slices for additional water content. Provide dips, such as ranch and peanut butter, with caution.

  1. Mini Muffins

While you can buy a tray of mini muffins, homemade goodies offer more customization, such as mixing in delicious blueberries and walnuts. You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen, either — use one bowl to mix up your muffin batter. Then, fill the mini muffin tray with care, bake them, pack them up and hit the road.

Simplify Your Next Kid-Accompanied Road Trip With These Tasty Snacks

You love your toddler, but road tripping with your munchkin bodes for a mixed bag of fun and exhaustion for all. Sometimes, all you need is a toddler-friendly waffle steering wheel — that’s also edible — to keep rolling with it.

Schedule messier meals and snacks for pit-stops such as a restroom or walking break. For meals, don’t forget to make a list of kid-friendly restaurants in advance. You can look at menu options early on to help plan the snacks out and make them more nutrition-friendly.

Include these eight mess-free foods to keep the toddler tantrums in check and your baby well-fed — along with your sanity — so you can make the best of memories together on your road trip.

The first few days after your baby is born are such a whirlwind. While you’re busy adjusting to the new little life you’ve created, they’ve already begun changing and growing.

That’s why having photos of your newborn taken in the first week is so important. We were so fortunate to work with Hidden Jem Photography out of Stony Plain. Jamie has worked with our Mommy Connections programs in the past and specializes in newborn photography. She is so creative and ridiculously talented, so it was no surprise that our photos were exactly what we had hoped.

The perfect way to finish any nursery is with a beautiful canvas of your beautiful new baby. There are a lot of options available, but we used The Canvas Factory. The website was very user friendly. Once you upload your photo, you’re able to edit, size and customize your canvas. Shipping was quick, and it only took 6 days for us to receive our canvas. The colors were bright and we were happy with the quality of the canvas. The website also offers metal prints and acrylic glass prints. If you’re feeling inspired, you can create collages or split canvas right from the website. If you’re looking for a way to display images in your home, look no further than www.canvasfactory.com.

Enter to WIN your own 40x50cm canvas here!

Written by: Jennifer Landis

Children spring up like weeds, it’s true. Though the time you spend raising them feels like it flies by, that doesn’t compare to how quickly they learn.

Up until age three, your child creates a million new neural connections every second that represent the endless potential of the developing brain’s architecture on which health, behavior and learning depend. In these early years, your child shares a “serve and return” interaction with you, also known as contingent reciprocity. When you’re responsive to your child’s needs and are present as a parent, they experience less stress and development risks.

Human development is lifelong, but those first years mark the highest degree of developmental flexibility. Your child’s brain is wide open to enrichment and learning influences, but on the downside, it makes your child extremely susceptible to developmental issues if they aren’t nurtured or are neglected.

Here are five tips for boosting brain development in your child.

1. Cuddle With Your Child

Parents enjoy cuddling with their child, but some may think it’s not as crucial in the early stages or makes them too “needy” as adults. That’s a myth. Touch is intrinsic to the human experience. Not only is cuddling pleasurable for both the parent and child, but it helps your child develop a big, healthy and happy brain. Cuddling alters genetics in babies for years — low contact is linked with slow epigenetic aging, which creates less favorable developmental odds. On the flip side, high contact children show positive marks in their metabolic and immune systems.

2. Follow Your Instincts

When you have your baby, unsolicited advice bombards you from family members, friends and even random people. The internet has it out for you. But remember, your baby makes you the most powerful magnet on the face of the Earth — look out, Magneto!

Follow your instincts first. Read multiple unbiased sources for extra help and information, but your inner voice is the most important since you helped that tiny human grow its tiny fingers and toes! That bond means something on the instinctual level.

3. Music Tunes Them In

Play music to boost your child’s brain development — interaction and music help a child learn language, according to studies. Passive music listening doesn’t have the same impact as interactive listening, in which a parent sings to or dances with the baby. Lullabies assist with premature development, so keep it up!

Don’t forget the power of your voice to soothe your child and help them grow. Sing to your baby, even if you feel like your voice will make the birds drop from the sky.

4. Learn Other Languages Early

Aren’t children under enough pressure without pressing more education from the time they’re out of the womb? Not in this way — learning another language from the beginning provides your child with many benefits now, as well as a brighter future down the road.

Every day, the world grows more multicultural, which is encouraging more people to learn a second language. While learning a language feels complicated, babies are programmed via their DNA to absorb language in general, not just their mother’s voice. They best hear and pronounce particular phonetic sounds up until age three. Children can learn two languages at once and recall both words for a single object, so try singing and speaking a second language with them while they’re young.

5. Play With Your Baby

Let your inner child out to play with your baby. Movement activities assist with development in multiple aspects, such as social-emotional skills like cooperation and self-confidence, and unused synapses in babies will disappear according to studies. Stimulation is vital to maintaining and growing those synapses. Remember, your baby forms one million synapses until age three.

Experts divide playtime into two types: structured and freestyle. Most children engage in structured play, but free play develops social and communication skills, as well as leadership, creative thinking and cooperation. Soon, your child will express their ideas for play, and their thoughts and reflections will astound you.

Remember, play is also exercise that will help your baby’s brain and body develop. The flexibility of your child’s mind will allow them to adapt quickly, and you will really be playing with them. As your child learns new skills, practice positive reinforcement. Even at this stage, your baby seeks your approval, and your engagement with them now sets the stage for lifelong learning and growth. Cuddle your child as a form of positive reinforcement, a reward after they accomplish something new or whenever they just need to be comforted.

The years speed by as your child grows at rapid rates. Interaction and positive engagement with your child right now is vital to their mental and emotional growth. From cuddling to playing with your child, the typical aspects of what it means to parent hold an essential influence on a child’s development — especially up until age three. Don’t let those synapses go unused!

We asked mom dietitian Andrea Holwegner, CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting and lead nutritionist to BrightPath early childhood education her thoughts on the sticky subject of sugar.  Here is what she had to say:

1.What is sugar and what is the difference between added sugar and natural sugar?

Sugar is a type of carbohydrate. Our brain and central nervous system run exclusively on carbohydrate for energy, and our muscles use carbohydrates for fuel.  To our body, regardless if we consume honey, brown sugar, white sugar, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, fruit, vegetables, milk, or yogurt, these all contain simple sugars made up of single and double units of sugar. The difference between them all is nutritional density, or the amount of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre they contain. There are also differences in what is known as the glycemic index or how fast the sugar enters the bloodstream.

Health guidelines are targeting a reduction of added sugar, which include glucose, fructose, sucrose (table sugar) as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.  Added sugar is found in foods such as pop, cake, cookies, chocolate bars, frozen desserts, granola bars, and more.  Health guidelines are not suggesting you reduce natural sugar found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and yogurt.

  1. Why is eating too much sugar bad?

Similar to consuming too much of anything, too much added sugar can increase the total calories of your diet and increase the risk of obesity. Excess added sugar consumption is also a large concern for tooth decay in adults and children. Taking in too much added sugar can also take the place for other nutrient dense foods that are rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre that we need for good health. There is also growing research to suggest that high added sugar consumption can increase triglycerides (a blood fat similar to cholesterol that can increase the risk of heart disease).

You certainly don’t need to reduce healthy natural sugars found in vegetables, fruits, milk, and yogurt. The key message here is EXCESS added sugar is harmful. Infants don’t need any added sugar to their diet and as your kids get older you don’t need to eliminate sugary foods altogether but instead be mindful of your families overall consumption of sugar. There are no bad foods, only bad overall diets.

  1. How much sugar is too much sugar?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for adults and children suggest added sugars should make up less than 10% of your total calories per day, but also that a reduction to less than 5% of your total calories intake would have additional benefits (primarily for dental health).

While adults need variable levels of calories, for a 2000-calorie diet, 10% of total energy would be the equivalent of 50 grams of sugar per day (about 12 teaspoons). For younger children taking in smaller calorie levels than adults the grams or teaspoons of sugar recommended per day is obviously far less than this.

Here are some examples of sugar in foods:

  1. How should parents read food labels when they see the word “sugar”?

Reading food labels to determine how much added sugar is in a food is actually currently quite difficult. This is because total sugar is currently listed on a food label and includes a combination of added sugar as well as those that are naturally occurring in foods such as fruit, vegetables, and dairy foods. It can be confusing on a label to see foods such as a carton of plain milk or package of baby carrots displaying grams of total sugar. These foods obviously do not have sugar added to them, but contain natural carbohydrates (milk contains lactose and carrots contain fructose and glucose).

You can take a look at the ingredient list on a food label to investigate if sugar has been added to your food. A word ending in “ose” usually has sugar. These items on a label mean sugar has been added to your food:

  1. Does sugar cause hyperactivity in children?

No. Feeding sugar to kids does not cause hyperactivity. Research has also not supported a link between eating sugar and the behavior of kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). What research has shown is that when kids have excess energy, it may be more linked to the experience itself. For example, the fun activities at recess time or at a birthday party leads to excitability (not necessarily the sweets fed at that time).

I will, however, say that balanced meals and good nutrition does make a huge difference in how kids feel and their overall energy levels throughout a day. If your child does not eat enough healthy food, is undernourished, or fails to consume meals with a good balance of both carbohydrate and protein to stabilize blood sugar, expect their mood and ability to concentrate to be negatively influenced.

  1. Is sugar toxic and should I avoid sugar altogether?

No one food or nutrient contributes to obesity, disease and health issues. There are no bad foods, just bad overall diets.  Similar to the trends we have seen in the past for low-fat diets and low-carb diets, remember to keep things in perspective. Sugar is not a villain and you don’t need to have a sugar-free diet. If you have been consuming an excessive amount of pop, sugary beverages, candy, desserts and other sugary foods, of course you could benefit from reducing these. You don’t need to eliminate them, but be clear on what you really love and save room for these favorites.

I live and teach the mantra that you can eat anything, just not everything, it’s all about being intentional about your choices. Make choices that reflect eating fully (healthfully AND soulfully). What do you really love? Keep some of these and make healthy choices around that. For me, that means brown sugar on my oatmeal, homemade baked cookies, and muffins made with regular sugar and, of course, saving room for chocolate (after all, I am the chocoholic dietitian!). To take a closer look at all the important aspects of building a healthy diet you can live with for life, download my Personal Nutrition Scorecard:  www.healthstandnutrition.com/scorecard

Canada nutrition expert Andrea Holwegner “the chocoholic dietitian” and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. leads a team of Calgary nutritionists specializing in nutrition counselling for sustainable change since 2000.  She is a consulting mom dietitian to BrightPath early childhood education, professional speaker and online nutrition course creator with an award-winning blog and popular free monthly e-newsletter at www.healthstandnutrition.com. Twitter: @chocoholicRD.  Facebook: @chocoholicRD  Instagram: @chocoholicrd

WATCH more about sugar on Andrea’s TV segment on sugar here: https://youtu.be/108aYfFTASE

 

Written by: Lana Hawkins

Living rooms are hubs of domestic life where families spend quite a lot of time together. Most parents are worried about the dangers that wait outside, but know that there are many risks that also lurk right under your nose.

A typical living room is littered with objects and furniture that can injure the little ones. Therefore, to help your baby stay out of the harm’s way, you need to baby-proof the space. You are going to have to engage in some redecorating and rearranging.

So, take this chance to boost the safety, but also rethink the design and décor of the room.

From a baby’s standpoint

Things may seem fine from where you are standing. However, to assess the situation properly, you need to get down on your knees. This kind of perspective allows you to uncover problems and safety pitfalls that your child comes in contact with as it waddles around.

These include pointed corners and edges, pieces that stick out, electrical outlets, appliances, fireplaces, and footholds that could allow the baby to reach unsafe heights. Before embarking on a shopping spree adventure, see if you can shift the existing layout of the space or take the design edge off.

Find an angle

Namely, you need to focus on sharp angles and edges around the room. A coffee table is one of the most notorious pieces of furniture, so see if you can replace it. I would go for an ottoman: it is soft and curvy, meaning it is a baby-proof option that can also fill the role of a coffee table.

Likewise, keep a close eye on couches and side tables that could also feature sharp corners. Soften up anything that seems threatening with padding. You should be able to deal with those pointy corners and edges for good. Also, remember to keep floors free of small objects.

Piece by piece

Furthermore, inspect all your furniture and check whether it is prone to falling over. Your little fellow will always find joy in pulling and pushing on objects. The good news is that instead of investing in new pieces, it is possible to use furniture anchors for stability.

And when you do go spending, you might want to look for easy-to-wipe materials like linen and vinyl. It might be hard to make a fashion statement and obtain functional furniture at the same time. However, some manufacturers of comfortable lounge suites in Sydney prove that one can get the best of both worlds.

 

The bottom line

While frequent falls are unavoidable, you can prevent them from causing any injuries. To mitigate the impact, identify floor areas of the living room you can soften. A nice rug is a good way to anchor your style and also cushion falls against a hard floor surface.

If you choose the right size and material, it can serve as a play mat as well. For extra safety, use rag pads to keep the rug firmly in place. Finally, bear in mind that you can re-purpose materials lying around your home, such as old towels, and use them as DIY softeners.

Turn a new leaf

It would be wise to streamline your décor and do away with excess clutter. You can stick to decorations that appeal to your sense of style, but they need to stay out of your baby’s way (and hopefully do not draw its attention). Avoid objects like heavy vases on tables. Be careful with hardwood and metal pieces.

Anything that is within easy reach of the baby must be found a new place. It is also highly recommended to store away decorations that contain tiny pieces and consequently pose a choking hazard. I would encourage you to embrace the sublime elegance of minimalist interior design and witness you space in new refreshing light.

On the safe side

A baby who is learning to walk and constantly tumbling over calls for extra vigilance and effort. So, how about you give your space a nice spruce-up while also improving the safety of your child? Hope for the best, but assume the worst: baby falling and knocking its head against hard surfaces and sharp corners.

Ideally, you should your take on baby-proofing endeavors before the new arrival. Begin the project from the ground up. Get down on all fours, and comb through the area. Turn your living room in a safe haven and gain the much-needed peace of mind.

Written by: Jennifer Landis

Getting toddlers to eat in some households is the equivalent of trying to herd cats into a room full of dogs— they’ll devour chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese, but if you try to get them to eat a vegetable, you’re in for the fight of your life. Their stubbornness doesn’t mean you’re giving up though. So, what snacks will make them budge on their hunger strike?

Try these healthy snacks for your toddler and watch them gobble them up:

Baked Potatoes

Potatoes are a lot better for you than most people give them credit for — with the addition of dairy and a couple of supplements like B12, you can survive on nothing but potatoes. Skip the french fries though, and go for an original baked potato instead.

Top it with cheese to account for the dairy section of the food pyramid and feel free to add anything that your toddler might think tastes good on a potato. Give it plenty of time to cool though — the interior of those potatoes gets super hot when baked!

Nut Butters

Peanut butter is a go-to choice for toddler foods, but with the rising number of peanut allergies, it’s not always the best choice. Thankfully, there is a host of different nut butters that taste fantastic, but don’t risk an allergy attack. Cashew, almond, walnut and even sunflower kernels are all available as “nut” butter.

The beautiful thing about nut butter is it works with just about any snack food. Try these:

Without a doubt, you’ll find yourself enjoying these are toddler-friendly snacks too!

Nuts

Now that your kids are all about eating nut butter, it’s time to start talking about where they come from — nuts! Nuts themselves can make an excellent snack for your toddlers, as long as they’re in small enough pieces that your kids can crunch and munch on them with ease.

Some of the healthiest — and kid-friendly — nuts include:

For toddlers, skip whole nuts in favor of smaller pieces that don’t present a choking hazard.

Vegetables

Both raw and cooked vegetables can make an excellent snack, and they’re easy to prepare. Fresh vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and carrots can all be eaten raw by themselves, or with a low-fat dip like hummus.

You don’t have to serve boring veggies on a plate though — toddlers love it when their food is fun. Dress it up by turning tomato slices into ladybug wings or cauliflower heads into sheep. Your imagination only limits you when it comes to food.

Cheese

Everyone loves cheese, and it’s a great way to make sure that your toddler is getting enough calcium in their diet. What’s terrific about cheese is it’s safe to eat for a variety of ages and abilities. Children who are still learning their fine motor skills can make a mess and enjoy eating shredded cheese, while older toddlers can practice those same skills by peeling off low-fat string cheese.

If you’re getting bored with plain old cheese or string cheese, change it up a little bit with these snacks:

For toddlers, make sure you stick to hard cheeses like cheddar and mozzarella rather than softer cheeses that may contain bacteria, which could be dangerous to the child.

The only exception to this rule is pasteurized soft cheeses, like cottage cheese, cream cheese and ricotta. Experiment with different cheese types to expand your toddler’s pallet and find out what they enjoy eating.

Healthy snacks are an essential part of a toddler’s diet — but we all know how tricky it can be to get kids to enjoy the foods that are good for them. Hopefully, these tricks can help keep your kids healthy while making snack time something that you both look forward to every day.

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