Friday, November 23, 2007

The Best Forms of Praise

This short article written by parenting educator and coach Michael Grose is about the three types of praise that have the most positive impact on children's behaviour and self-esteem.

Child Praising: Praise With Impact
By Michael Grose

Praising and encouraging kids can be difficult for many people. It just doesn't come naturally. They are hard-wired for criticism rather than praise.

Some children, particularly boys, feel awkward receiving praise unless it is done carefully. It can be misconstrued as being manipulative and not genuine, particularly when it is simply a throw-away line. Praise can become meaningless for some kids unless it is done with a little thought and care.

There are three types of praise that have positive impact on children's (as well as adults') behavior and self-esteem.

1. Descriptive praise

Throw a spotlight on the behaviors that kids do well. Rather than a trite 'well done' draw a word picture of what they did well and let them know its impact. Tell them what you see and how you feel. "Wow. You have tidied the room really well and put everything back where it should be. It's a pleasure to come into the living room." Such comments genuinely made become stored in their bank of skills and builds up their confidence.

Private praise is more effective than public praise for boys as they can become embarrassed being praised in front of their friends or relatives.

Use for: keeping house rules, changing poor behavior (when combined with ignoring some of their poor behavior)

2. Summary praise

Give your child a positive label to live up to by summing up their positive behaviors with one word. "You really worked hard to finish your project. That's what I call persistence." "You cleaned up the kitchen without being told. You are a self-starter." Persistence and self-starter become part of your children's ICRS (Internal Character Reference System).

Use for: kids who lack confidence, kids of all ages but particularly those under 10 as they really use parents as reference points

3. Self-praise

Praise is always bit more powerful when it comes from yourself so allow children to brag a little. "I did that well.", "I am really pleased with the way I did that.", "I did the best I could.", "I love the art I did at school today." Teaching kids to self-praise can be a little tricky but you can start by asking them how they feel about their efforts. When you use descriptive feedback you actually show kids how to self-praise.

Some kids need to be cued regarding self-praise -"Are you pleased with yourself because you tried your best in the game?" Encourage them to say they are pleased with themselves rather than just agree with you. This gets them in the habit of self-praise.

Use for: kids who always want your reassurance, use for children's efforts rather than behavior

There are plenty of people in your child's life who are critical of them – including their peers and maybe siblings. It is a parent's job to tell kids what is right about them, so spend a little time telling kids what you see and feel when they do something well. Make up positive labels that they can add to their Internal Character Reference Systems and encourage them to brag a little when they have done something well.

Michael Grose is a popular parenting educator and parent coach. He is the director of Parentingideas, the author of seven books for parents and a popular presenter who speaks to audiences in Australia, Singapore and the USA. For free courses and resources to help you raise happy kids and resilient teenagers visit

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Show and Tell

Now with our two shows over and finally having gotten things back into order I wanted to share with you some of the things that went on as well as show some pictures of the two shows.

We certainly had a great time and learned quite a great deal form each show both before and during. We were very happy to have many friends stop by and say hi, as well have available all our great toys for people to touch and play with, the children who came by had a fun time. We also received great feedback from many of our customers and had the time to meet the other great vendors at each of the shows.

Take a look at a couple of pictures of the booth from each show:

At the Mom2Mom Green Holiday Show

The Children's Trunk Show

One of the most popular vendors at the Children's Trunk Show and my next door neighbour was January Baby. The founder and creator Anne whose great product 'Smittens' or the 'no escape mittens' was a certainly a big hit . Her warm and very functional outerwear accessories are available for children 6 months and up and can be found at Macklem's.

Another new friend and vendor at both the Mom2Mom show and The Children's Trunk Show was founder Flora Cheung of FlowerPot Designs whose hand-made hair accessories for little girls as well as her one-of-a-kind knitted toys and kids wear were simply stunning and so unique.

I also had the opportunity to meet Sara Bingham from Wee Hands and Canadian Babies as well as the lovely Kim Silk, founder of Davisville Moms.

All in all a great experience and one I am looking forward to next year.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Article Posted: "Newborn Babies and Sleep"

I recently posted an interesting sleep-related article by Elizabeth Pantley called "Newborn Babies and Sleep". The article talks about some common misconceptions about newborn sleep and also provides some helpful hints on helping baby develop healthy sleep habits. Having been through this developmental stage with my daughter, I ask the reader to note the following about newborn sleep:
  • Newborns sleep often, and mostly for short periods of time. I jokingly refer to it as the 2-hour eat-sleep-poop cycle.
  • Breast milk does not stay in baby's belly very long, so they will wake up when they are hungry. Our daughter started sleeping through the night (I mean, really through the night) at about 6 months, when we introduced solids.
  • The preemptive nap is key. Learn your child's cycle and put them to sleep before they show signs of tiredness. We found that our child slept more soundly when we prevented her from getting too tired.

If you find this article useful, or if you need extra help with newborn sleep, I strongly recommend a book that was a life saver for me and Karla: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Round and Round In Circles We Go

The newest addition to the fabulous line of puzzles from Melissa & Doug have arrived at Brand new for 2007 are the Fresh Start Circular Floor Puzzles, there is Vehicle Fun, Farm Friends and Zoo Friends.

The puzzles have 12 large, bright and colourful pieces that are the right size for little hands to play with along with a fun and interactive story that children will love.

Though the puzzles are for children ages 2 years +, younger children will love the colourful pictures of all their favourite animals, and parents can sing along to the Old MacDonald song, or introduce them to their favourite jungle friends. For older children these are a great introduction to the more challenging jigsaw puzzles.

Puzzles are not only entertaining, but are also great for children's cognitive development. They assist in strengthening their problem solving skills, their vocabulary as well as encouraging independent play.

Stop by to see all three!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

News & Events at Baby Thoughts


We are very happy to have up on the site a new section titled 'Articles'. It will be a place where you can read up on the latest research in early childhood development. Recent articles posted have covered topics on Social-Emotional development, Child Literacy, Speech Development and more.

EVENTS will be showing off its stuff at two popular events in Toronto this November.

Our first show will be the annual Mom2Mom Holiday show, this year the show will promote local, ethical and ecologically-responsible products and vendors. There will also be talks and demonstrations by local experts such as Leslie Garret, an award winning journalist, author and editor. She has written many children's books and has a syndicated column called The Virtuous Consumer which is featured monthly in many publications. Another well known speaker will be Erica Ehm founder of the YummyMummy Club.

Highlights of the show include:

-Interactive and kid-friendly activity booths given by not-for-profit agencies and organizations which provide services to families

- Live programs and demonstration performed by local children groups, performances include martial arts, dancing and signing

- Children activities and colouring contests

- Photos with Santa and much much more!

Our second show will be the Children's Trunk Show, taking place at the Distillery District over two days! This year the show will have over 80 vendors showcasing unique products and services by moms for moms.

For both our shows we will be showcasing our best toys, as well as cool new toys that we are bringing in for the holiday season. There will also be a special giveaway at both shows.

We hope to see you at either of the shows...stop by our table and say hi!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

From Crawling, To Walking, To Running in 60 seconds

Looking back on my daughter's gross motor development it felt like it progressed that quickly but when she was going through it, it felt more like 60 months. Without a doubt all parents anxiously await the day when their little one will start crawling, it is a very important event because the move from being "stationary" little ones to non-stop moving machines is very exciting.

My daughter was a great crawler and took her time walking, for her the need to walk was not pressing. In fact she did not walk until about 15 months, before this she was happy crawling in order to get from point A to point B. I believe that what helped her get off the ground and onto her two little feet was her exposure to walking toys. It had taken me some time to actually get her some walking toys, I believed that she would not really need them, but short of always taking her by the hands and walking with her she and I needed the assistance. My back could only take so much.

That is why I would greatly recommend getting your little one a walking toy, whether it is something that helps them get off the ground and push like the fantastic HABA Walker Wagon which not only helps baby walk but also promotes pretend play.

Or for those who have already mastered the skill something more fun like the array of Push & Pull Toys available. All children love these toys especially the ones that allow them to also play and enjoy while sitting down and taking a breather.

Before you know it they will be running and there will be times when you wish you could go back to the days when all they could do was sit up.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Arts & Crafts for Little Hands

My daughter's favourite time at her day care is sensory time, she absolutely loves getting her hands full of paint, glitter, goop, and playdough. In fact she likes everything about arts and crafts. We went through a period when every time I would pick her up she would be wearing her change of clothes and still be full of paint. Her teacher told me that she liked to become one with the paint and they just could not stop her. Now she has to be changed into her arts and craft 'outfit' so that she does not dirty all her clothes.

Arts and craft is very important for young children, it is such a great way for them to learn, to explore, to imagine, to be creative and even more importantly it gives them a sense of accomplishment and confidence. I personally like to draw with my daughter and teach her about animals, shapes, colours, and all the things around her. I draw pictures for her and then I tell her the names in Spanish, this is just another tool, along with the signing and reading that I use to reinforce the language.

Here are a few arts and craft ideas:

- You can never go wrong with a box of crayons and a big pad of paper. You can draw along with your child and print the words of the object that you draw.

- You can get some construction paper of different colours and make masks. The eyes, nose, mouth, and ears can be made out of different shapes, for instance, the eyes are circles, the nose a triangle, the mouth a semi-circle and so on. This will help children learn their shapes.

- You can make just about anything you can think off out of corrugated boxes. You can make a sail boat, a car, a stove, a robot, or anything your imagination or their imagination can think off.

- Using paint is the most fun of all. You can collect leaves, twigs, use cookie cutters, rubber stamps and dip them in paint and make great works of art.

- You also can't go wrong with playing with playdough. Having different colours and letting the kids mold it, roll it out, pat it and use their imaginations to create all kinds of things is so much fun and a great learning experience.

For more great ideas take a look at an article written by Ann Douglas, she has some other suggestions that will certainly keep everyone entertained.

Allowing children to be creative is very important for their development, it will help with both their cognitive and social-emotional development. It is a fun way for them to learn valuable skills that they will use throughout their academic career.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Importance of Self-Esteem

A child's self-esteem is like a flower, and just like a flower it must be nurtured, given nutrients and kept safe in order for it to blossom. It is so important that we as parents ensure that we help our children have a high self-esteem in order to help our children succeed in this very competitive world.

I am very conscious of ensuring that my young daughter has a strong positive self-esteem because I want her to always know that she is someone who is special, loved, and capable of achieving anything she sets her mind to.

The following article written by Cassie Simons, author of 'How to Help You Child Succeed' touches on this issue and I believe provides important information on how we can help our children.

Give Your Child the Gift of Self-Esteem

By Cassie Simons

Much has been said about the "gifted child" but in truth every child is born with unlimited potential. As expressed so well by Orison Marden:

"Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action."

This statement can be true for your child. Not just if he's a "gifted child" but any child. Indeed, perhaps we should consider a "gifted child" to be a child whose parents have gifted him with a high self-esteem.

Children with high self-esteem are happier and more successful. Low self-esteem is common in children who are performing badly at school, have behavioural problems and suffer from depression.

The Newborn

The "helpless" newborn baby actually comes into the world well equipped with the power to get what she wants. Not only do her cries bring her parents running to tend to her; she also uses her body and facial language to get what she wants. It's no coincidence that babies learn to smile while they are still very small - it is an essential tool in their armoury of communication. A baby with a disarming smile can frequently wrap mommy or daddy round her little finger!

At this early stage, it's important to respond to all your baby attempts at communication. Attend to her when she cries (this does not preclude training her gently into a stable routine), mirror her attempts at facial communication and reward the infant sounds she makes by praising her and talking back to her.

The "Can-Do" Toddler

Toddlers are into everything! They are learning so fast about the world around them and want to explore everything, touch everything and even try to eat many things.

It is such a crucial stage and one that is stifled by many parents. Yes, you need to control your child's behavior so that he doesn't hurt himself or damage valuable property. But you also need to give him opportunities to express this exploratory behavior without constant criticism and telling-offs.

Put valuables out of reach and supply your child with toys or household items that he can play with safely. Try to find time to get down on the floor and play with your toddler. Let him watch you and imitate you. He could play on the kitchen floor with some pots and wooden spoons while you are cooking.


I want to emphasize up front that I believe discipline is very important, because I don't want you to think in any of what follows that I'm advocating spoiling your child. Some parents call this "allowing the child to enjoy the freedom of youth." These parents are entitled, of course, to raise their children however they wish.

But if you want your child to grow into a successful adult, you would do better by teaching her firmly what is and isn't acceptable in present day society. And, just as importantly, helping her to learn self-discipline and that you will support her in achieving anything she wants, as long as she does so ethically.

Discipline should be sensitive, thoughtful and appropriate. You should strive to never lose your temper but to discipline your child calmly and firmly. When is discipline appropriate? When your child's actions (or lack of them) may harm herself or others. When is discipline not appropriate? When it is purely for the parent's own selfish preferences.

Talk to Your Child

Positive talk with your child and generally within the household cannot be over-emphasized. Avoid criticism wherever possible; it is praise that produces good, successful behavior. Be sure to find at least one thing to praise in your child every day. Even better, give praise as often as possible.

Are you having problems finding good behaviors to praise? If so, give your child a task to do that you know he is capable of. Children love earning their parents' approval. Also remember to praise your child for trying, on those occasions that he is not successful.

Set a good example; talk about your goals and successes, and teach your child by example to accept compliments gracefully. Resist the temptation to put yourself down when you are complimented - instead, say a simple Thank You. That's an important sign of a healthy self-esteem.

The other side of the coin to talking is, of course, listening. It is very important to listen to your child. When there is something he is upset about, don't sweep it under the carpet by saying "Don't be silly!" Whatever it is might seem totally trivial to you but often all your child needs is for you to empathise. "I'm sorry you feel sad about that." He may then come up with a solution, or put the incident behind him without further help. Or, you can suggest a solution.

The Power of Desire

You can give your child the best possible schooling, teach all the important techniques of success, encourage goal setting and set a fantastic example. But that is not enough! All these good things have one vitally important pre-requisite. Before you can achieve anything, you must know what you really, really want.

A burning desire is the first, most important and essential step towards any major achievement. As a parent, you are in a unique position to influence another person's desires - your child's. By the time they reach their teens, you will have lost this influence to a significant degree, as young adults are swayed much more by their peers' opinions than their parents'.

So make the most of the early years by instilling positive, beneficial desires in your children. The desire to do well academically could shape your child's further education and career much more than her innate ability.

How can you instill desire? Telling stories is a great way. Children love stories! Be creative and tell stories where the hero or heroine has a burning desire for something, overcomes challenges and set backs, and achieves the desired outcome. Try telling stories where a child achieves academic success, which in turn results in something even more desirable. For instance, one story could tell of a child who has a burning desire to travel to the North Pole. She succeeds academically and thus wins an award, which makes her dream come true. Tailor the stories to your own child's life and experiences as much as you can.

The famous author Napoleon Hill used story-telling to instill in his almost-deaf son both a burning desire to hear, and a firm belief that his disability would actually bestow upon him a great advantage (although at the time even his father had no idea what that advantage could be). By the time this boy left college, he had against the odds acquired a hearing aid that enabled him to hear clearly for the first time in his life. More remarkably, he had justified his father's belief by securing a marketing position with the hearing aid manufacturer to bring the same benefit to millions of other deafened people.

"Gifted child"? Give your child the gift of self-esteem, and you will give him the gift of happiness.

Cassie Simons ( is the author of "How to Help Your Child Succeed", a revolutionary approach to guilt-free parenting. Positive Parenting, Gifted Child - Visit today for the secrets of raising successful children.

It is just incredible how important a child's early years are for their development. Parents have a great deal of responsibility, it is very important for us to ensure that we watch how we communicate, discipline and act with our young children. This responsibility is something that we must not take lightly as it can have such far-reaching effects.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

I have found it extremely important to be as consistent as possible with my daughter. It all began when we were learning to breastfeed those first days, weeks, and months together. Being consistent was also what got us through the difficult time of sleep training, and now as she is entering her toddler years, it is our saving grace.

That is why I wanted to share this article by parenting expert Michael Grose.

Why consistency is important but makes parents feel bad
By Michael Grose

Being consistent when children are less than perfect can make you feel dreadful. However consistency is one of the most important elements in the relationship with your children, but it is the one most frequently overlooked.

Consistency means dealing with the little misbehaviours and not letting them grow into bigger behaviours. It means saying no to children's constant requests for five more minutes of television at night or a third serve of ice cream. It means following through and allowing children to experience a consequence when they misbehave every time. It doesn't mean if children arrive home after dark from a friend's place you ground them sometimes but at other times you just voice your disapproval. That type of inconsistency makes you responsible for children's misbehaviour and teaches children nothing about accountability.

Consistency also means that both parents have a similar approach to behaviours. If mum is too strict and dad is too lenient children will know who to go to if they wish to take advantage. They will soon play one parent off against each other. If a child wants to get away without doing a job or stay an extra hour at a friend's place just ask dad because he is easy-going. Even if you are separated, talk about your approaches to discipline and find some common ground. Agree on such issues as family rules, pocket money, and guidelines for going out and suitable consequences for misbehaviour.

If you disagree with a partner's approach do so behind closed doors. When unplanned situations occur don't be afraid to tell your children that you need to consult with your partner before making a decision. Children will realise that you are working as a team and that you are making a considered approach to their behaviour or request.

Consistency, like routines, are often sacrificed by busy working parents and put in the "too hard basket". When we are tired, stretched and overworked the last thing we want to do is engage in a battle with children over what are sometimes petty issues. You may have spent the whole day dealing with difficult customers or colleagues only to come home and find that you have another battle on your hands with equally belligerent children. So to avoid an argument, a tantrum or tears you give in to your child's unruly behaviour or unreasonable request.

But being consistent and holding your ground is a smart long-term strategy. Kids learn quickly how far they can push a parent before they give in. If you give in occasionally they will learn that if they push you hard enough and long enough you will cave in. So consistency is about being strong and holding your ground. That is hard work because the average child will push parental boundaries about 30per cent of the time and more difficult kids push your boundaries twice that much. It is hard work being consistent but good parenting demands it.

This article was written by popular parenting expert Michael Grose. For great ideas on how to raise kids visit

Ensuring that I only speak Spanish to my daughter is one area that I need to be more consistent in. It is a challenge for me and it is something that I am always working hard on, and something that will always be ongoing for me and her.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Toddler Years

I came across this very useful excerpt from a booklet that gives some tips on how to approach the discipline of your toddler. My daughter just turned two years and we have had a taste of her toddler ways for some time now. Without a doubt these tips are very very useful.

Top Ten Tips For Disciplining Your Toddler
by Claire Albright

How can I support my toddler's spontaneity while supporting his need to learn to behave in ways that will help him to get along well in relationships and at school? How can I discipline my toddler without causing him to feel shame?

1. Learn to say "no" in a firm, peaceful way that carries authority but not anger. This parenting skill will help you to cut short years of power struggles with your child and will help your child to feel secure in knowing that there are limits. Strong-willed behavior and temper tantrums can be encouraged by a "no" from a parent who doesn't sound convincing.

2. Stay with your child when they are in "time out" so that they don't feel abandoned. Many parents leave the area, which can make a child feel rejected.

3. Follow through, no matter what, if you say that there will be a consequence for misbehaving so that your child does not learn to manipulate you. If you change your mind after a child protests, you are encouraging your child to protest even more in the future.

4. Pick one or two target behaviors to focus your discipline on at a time, such as not playing with their food. It is usually more effective to completely train your child in one or two areas than to try to train them a little bit in many different areas.

5. Be the boss and don't be ashamed of being the boss in your relationship with your child. If you are not the boss, they will step into the power vacuum and this may have long term negative consequences. You could even say to your child occasionally, "I am the boss."

6. Discipline your child in your loving, caring environment. Otherwise, they may learn discipline from frustrated teachers in the less caring and loving environment of school.

7. Present you child with small choices if you are in a lot of power struggles with your child. "Do you want to wear the white shirt or the blue shirt? Do you want the carrots or the peas?"

8. Remember that consistent discipline is a safety issue. There will be times that your child's obedience to your input can save them from danger. The best time to prepare for a dangerous situation is before you are in a dangerous situation.

9. Do not feel obligated to explain your rationale for the things that you ask of your child every time that you ask something of them. Many parents fall into the trap of explaining the rationale behind all of their requests, usually because they want their child to feel respected. Unfortunately, this often leads to the child learning how to manipulate their parent by acting like the rationale is not compelling enough to justify cooperating with the parent's request.

10. Focus on "first time" obedience. Your child is old enough to learn this concept. It is not helpful to your child to have you repeat yourself over and over when it is time for them to come to dinner, have their diaper changed, etc.

Written by Dr. Clare Albright, Psychologist and Parenting Coach who can be reached at Excerpted from her booklet, "100 Tips for Parents Of Two Year Olds".

All the tips that Dr. Albright has outlined are certainly ones that I have put to work. I found that the hardest one to stick to was #10, it is really hard to stop from repeating yourself. What I like to do is think of myself as a "broken down vending machine", I tell her things once and then if she keeps asking I try to distract her with something else or change the topic.

Another thing that I have found to be really important and would highly recommend, is that you should really make the effort to get down to their eye level. This can make a great deal of difference, when my daughter is acting up and is whining, I get down to her level and tell her that I can not understand her because she is whining and that she must speak in her calm voice and use her words. She hates it when I do this, but I stick to my guns and in the end she will calm down and "calmly" tell me what she wants.

Without a doubt there are good days and bad days but what helps is to stick to the game plan. Just like the sleeping problems, the potty training and the picky eating, this too shall pass. It is all part of the exciting adventure of being a parent.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tiny Love Has Arrived At

The wonderful toys from Tiny Love have just arrived at Tiny Love is well known for their innovative and original soft developmental toys, they are also the creators of the 7 Elements System™ which is a benchmark for the developmental milestones that are typical of the natural phases that babies go through simultaneously during their first year of life.

We are excited to be carrying a variety of their award winning toys which are very popular with babies and toddlers. From mobiles to grasping toys to activity mats to books, we have something that will captivate your child's imagination and helped in their development.

If you are in search of a mobile for your little one, look no further than Tiny Love's Symphony-In-Motion-Farmyard Animals mobile. Great features of this mobile include captivating music from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven which will help develop baby's sense of hearing. It also has 4 different types of movement and motion that will capture baby's attention and encourage them to follow along. As the child grows they will learn about cause and effect each time they press the buttons on the base of the mobile and music plays. This mobile is a beautiful addition to any nursery.

The Developlay Activity Center is another exiting toy that will be played with over and over again. The activity center has two sides with each side having age appropriate activities that are designed for different aspects of baby's development. This toy will have baby pulling, pushing, grasping, spinning, looking, listening and laughing at all the interesting things offered by the Developlay Activity Center. A great toy that will stimulate baby's senses, encourage the development of their fine motor skills and cognitive development.

For fun play on the go, the Fruity Pals are a great choice. There is Andy Apple and Anna Banana, with both having hidden surprises that will help baby develop their sensory and fine motor skills. The Fruity Pals offer a full sensory experience with their bold colours and lovable faces. Along with their fruit-like figures and human characteristics such as mouth, feet and arms they will encourage baby to be creative, imaginative and play.

Tiny Love toys are not only beautiful, extremely fun but also ecourage baby to learn and grow. To see the full line of toys that we carry, you can stop by the Tiny Love page at

Tuesday, September 4, 2007 Safety Policy

To our valued Customers,

As a result of the recent toy recalls we have received inquiries regarding the safety of the toys that we carry. Please be assured that the safety of all the children (including ours) who enjoy our toys is of the utmost importance to us.

At we take pride in providing toys that are of the highest quality, bring delight and enjoyment to children and help in their development and growth. All our toys are purchased from respected companies in the toy industry. In addition all the manufactures have passed and in many cases exceed the safety standards set out by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the European Union (EN71). As a result we are confident in the safety of the toys that we carry.

In order to provide our valued customers as much information as possible about our products we have provided manufacturing location for all our toys. We have also created a new method of searching called 'Made In', this will give you a list of all toys manufactured in a particular country. With all these changes we hope to provide you with as much information as possible to be able to make an informed decision when purchasing toys at

Please contact us should you have any other inquiries or comments.


Karla Zamora

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mattel Toy Recall

Another major toy retailer has sent out a recall for nearly 9 million toys. For more information on the recall please visit the Mattel corporate website. There is also a useful page on the Toronto Star website with a complete list of the toys affected.

We at take the safety of your children (and ours) very seriously, and have researched all the toys we carry with safety as a priority. Please note that all the brands that we carry have met Canadian Safety Standards, but should you have any questions or concerns we ask that you please contact us and we will respond within 24 hours.


The Team

Friday, August 10, 2007

Breast-Feeding Challenges

I received an article from a friend entitled 'Five breast-feeding mistakes new moms make, and how to fix them', needless to say I was very interested to see what these mistakes were and what solutions they proposed. The article is from CNN and you can view it here.

Here are the five mistakes:

1. Moms go at it alone

The article suggests that new mothers should seek out support groups where they can get advice on technique and emotional support. I have to say that I agree with what they suggest, I know from experience that breast-feeding does not come 'naturally' no matter how much people may tell you. I went to the classes and read the books and got the manuals but until I had someone (my doula) actually put my breast into the baby's mouth and show me how to do it I was completely lost. There is no doubt that we can always use more support as new mothers and you never know what great tip someone will give you.

2. Moms forget about their successful breast-feeding friends

In other words they suggest that you invite a friend who was successful in breast-feeding and have them help you out. I say why not, it will certainly NOT hurt and you will get a great deal of insider information.

3. Moms assume that they don't have enough milk

The article proposes that you rethink your baby's nursing behaviour. I think that as a new mom you never really realize that a baby will eat pretty much every two hours for the first few months. And that depending on how fast they eat it can feel like you are feeding every hour. I really think that you should not be focusing on ounces at the beginning. You really must take your cues from the weight the baby is putting on. The important thing is to speak with your health care provider and explain the baby's feeding habits and get their input. And believe me, there will be days every once in a while when you will feel like the only thing you did that day was breast-feed. These are the wonderful growth spurts.

4. Moms get intimidated breast-feeding in public

The article recommends that you have a snappy comment or reply for anyone who should actually say something to you. I have to admit that it took me a couple of months to feel comfortable breast-feeding in pubic. I was not uncomfortable about the idea of it, I just felt very clumsy doing it. It took me a while to really get the positioning right for breast-feeding, but once I did, I could feed anywhere. And by that time, I could not care what people thought, said or felt about the it. I was always respectful of where I breast-fed and was certainly not in anyone's face.

One thing to note is that breast-feeding in public is not for everyone, but it should not deter you from going out with your baby in the early days. It is always good to know the places that offer a private place where you can breast-feed. For instance I knew what stores in the mall had big stalls where I could go into and take 10 minutes to feed. No one will say anything and if they do, ignore them.

5. Moms panic when milk doesn't gush out

I don't really understand why this is a 'mistake' mostly because I knew after reading the books and going to my pre-natal classes that you did not get your milk right away. For this reason I was not exactly worried, I also did not try to measure my milk output. In many ways you don't want your milk to gush out as it will be very annoying. Certainly the baby does not like since it throws them off and they can choke on too much milk all at once. All I can say is don't worry, your milk will come in two to four days after birth and when it does you will know it. Also you don't really want it to gush out ever because when it does it will be when you are in public wearing a nice shirt.

Those are the top 5 mistakes new moms make about breast-feeding. I really would not call any of them mistakes, because for something to be a mistake you have to already know what is the right thing to do and for many new mothers this is certainly not always the case.

If you would like to share your breast-feeding tips, please leave a comment. There is no doubt that new mothers would really appreciate it.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Fisher-Price Toy Recall

Fisher-Price has sent out a recall for certain toys that were sold in Canada after May 1, 2007. For a list of the toys that have been recalled and instructions of what should be done please visit the Fisher Price website or call them at (800) 916-4498.

It is very important that the toys be removed immediately as lead is extremely toxic to young children.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Exciting New Arrivals at

Over the past 3 months we have received great feedback from customers, friends, and colleagues on the website. Based on this feedback we have been working hard to make the website easier to navigate and more informative, and to give our visitors a satisfying online experience. We have also added some great new products that have been lacking in our product selection:


If I could carry the whole HABA toy line I would, they are just fantastic toys. However, we have been able to add some key items, namely activity mats, mobiles, and a push wagon. One of these is Dwarf's Land Playmat, a colourful soft cloth play mat with playing elements that baby can clutch, push, and remove. It has vibrant trees, houses, and castles that can be popped up or folded down. Dwarf's Land Playmat is for babies starting at 0 months and up.

Another great new item is HABA's Splish Splash Playmat, which has a water filled center with little toy fish that swim around as baby presses down on the mat. Around the "pond" there are fold up houses and a lighthouse that invite baby to play. The Splish Splash Playmat is for babies 6 months and up.

We have also added 2 new colourful mobiles, Sunshine and Curtains Rise. The Sunshine mobile is decorative, while the Curtains Rise mobile has interactive elements such as a foil mirror and detachable mouse and bear plush toys.

Last but not least, we have added a wooden push wagon. This beautiful wagon has sturdy wooden construction, with rubber wheels, and has a small seat up front for baby's "travelers" as well as a cargo area at the back for baby's "luggage".

Manhattan Toy

With their "Imagination at Play" approach to product design, Manhattan Toy always has new items to peak baby's interest. From Manhattan Toy we have decided to complement our existing products in the Whoozit, Cirque du Soleil, and Nooboo lines of toys.

If you are a fan of the Whoozit toys, you will love our Whoozit additions. The most notable is Tizoo, Whoozit's female, heart-shaped companion. We have also added a Whoozit activity center with lots of interactive items such as a bead spiral, squeakers, spinning balls, and crinkle paper. This product is great for teaching baby about cause and effect and is geared for babies 6 months and up. To top it off we have added an interactive spiral toy that can be attached to baby's crib or stroller.

Another great new addition is the Big Top Sounds toy. This amazing toy is a circus tent with plush animals that make animal sounds when inserted or removed from the tent. Baby will hear "Monkey" or "Ooh Ooh, Ah Ah!" when taking monkey out of the tent. It's absolutely fabulous.

For the full selection of toys, including all new arrivals, please visit our store front.

- Frank

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mr. Sandmand, where are you?

This article is for all the moms and dads who are experiencing difficulty with sleep and their little ones.

Sleep Solutions
By Ann Douglas

Sleep is the stuff of which dreams are made—especially if you’re a sleep-deprived mom. Here are some tips on troubleshooting some common mom, baby, and toddler sleep problems.


“My newborn is sleeping, but I’m not. It takes me forever to get back to sleep after each middle-of-the-night feeding—and then it’s time to start all over again!”

What to try:

· Try to lull yourself back to sleep by breathing in and out slowly and deeply; imagining a peaceful and relaxing scene; and repeating the same relaxing word (“relax” or “calm”) over and over again until you fall asleep.

· Get out of bed. If you aren’t asleep within 15 minutes (don’t look at the clock!), move to another room and read until you feel sleepy. Then go back to bed.

· If you continue to have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. Caring for a new baby is tough enough without being chronically sleep deprived.


“My newborn hates to sleep on her back. I know this is the safest sleeping position for her, but neither of us is getting any sleep!”

What to try:

· Swaddle your baby. A study in the September 2002 issue of Pediatrics concluded that newborns protest less about sleeping on their backs if they’re swaddled.

· Watch for symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—colic, feeding problems, choking, and gagging. Babies with GERD find it very uncomfortable to be placed to sleep on their backs. Your baby’s doctor will be able to suggest ways of easing your baby’s discomfort if your baby has GERD.

“My ten-month-old was sleeping through the night. Now he’s up almost every night.”

What to try:

· Sometimes when babies are trying to learn a new skill, they’ll work on that skill day and night: you’ll find your baby “stuck” standing up in his crib because he doesn’t know how to get down.

· If there has been a big change in baby’s life, he may react by waking in the night. Encouraging an attachment to a small stuffed animal and providing tons of TLC during the day may help to reduce the number of night-time calls for mom.


“My toddler wakes up really early. I’m talking 4:30 a.m.”

What to try:

· Move your toddler’s bedtime back by an hour. Sleep deprived toddlers wake up earlier than toddlers who are getting adequate sleep (which is 14 hours of total daytime and nighttime sleep for most toddlers). Note: You’ll need to shift your toddler’s bedtime back in stages—by 15 minutes at a time over a period of a week or two.

· Learn your toddler’s signs of sleepiness (e.g., talking less, starting to yawn, becoming distracted) and try to get your toddler to bed before she becomes overtired (whining, crying, acting all wound up, becoming frustrated with her toys).

· Encourage your toddler to stick with her daytime naps as long as she needs them. This will help with the quality of her nighttime sleep and, because she will be better rested, this will help with the early-waking problem, too.

Sleep Facts and Stats

· Breastfed newborns may need to be fed a little more often than formula-fed babies, but their moms end up getting roughly the same amount of sleep in each 24 hour period.

· New parents can each expect to miss out on about 400 hours of sleep by the end of baby’s first year.

· A study by the U.S.-based National Sleep Foundation found that majority of toddlers are down to one nap a day by age 18 months (87%), and that only 19% of two year olds are members of the “no nap” club.

Ann Douglas is the author of The Mother of All Baby Books and the newly-published Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler. Read her articles at

I went through hard times with my daughter and did quite a great deal of reading on how to help your child sleep and sleep well through the night. Another place where I looked for help was my mom group and they were able to provide me with ideas and suggestions that I could try. They also suggested a great book for me to read which I have since recommended to many friends, it is called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth.

I have yet to read Ann's book Sleep Solutions as it was just recently published and thankfully I have not had any new sleep problems (knock on wood). I am sure that like all her books it is filled with great information.

If there is one thing that I can say is that it does not come easily and that it is very important to be consistent and for both parents to be involved in the sleep training.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Adoption: Same Destination, Different Trip

I have two friends who have gone through the adoption process, one is a single mother, the other a working couple. Having followed their stories to happy conclusions I am compelled to write a few words.

First of all, for anyone that thinks parenting through natural birth and parenting through adoption are similar, you are mistaken. They are two worlds far apart. I am not an expert in the process, but I can say this: When my wife and I decided to have our daughter, all we had to do was agree, and try. No one asked us to fill out an application, fly half way around the world, or prove that we had the means or qualifications to be parents. This is the great absurdity of parenting where a man and a woman, qualified or not, can produce offspring. Fall outside this mold, be it same sex couples, single moms, and adopting parents, and you now have to prove to experts or the community that you are up to the task. Unfortunately for adoption, I'm not sure there is a better process.

The stress, uncertainty, and emotional roller coaster I witnessed these parents go through was inspiring to say the least. The process took many months and both parents had to fly overseas twice for interviews and to meet the child they might adopt.

Think about this for a moment.

How would our own parenting experience be if we got to see our 'potential' children as they would be at 9 or 12 months of age and then make a choice based on some logical criteria like looks, health, history, etcetera? It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?. Parenting is a leap of faith, and our love for our children is instinctive and complete from the moment we meet them. So too it was with these parents, for once they met the child they were emotionally invested. That is, from an emotional standpoint the child they just met was "their child".

Come to think of it, maybe parenting by birth or adoption are not worlds apart: The trip is different, but the destination is the same.

So I commend them for staying the course, and I have no doubt that both they and their children will know all the happiness, frustrations, uncertainty, and fulfillment that being a family brings.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Appearance of the Pearly Whites

The daughter of a good friend is starting to show signs of teething and her mother asked me if I could recommend some teething toys that would offer her some relief.

This request got me remembering our own adventure with teething and how it felt like months before the pearly whites made their appearance. My daughter started with the teething signs quite early. She would drool all the time, and put anything and everything into her mouth. I was thankful that a family member gave her as a gift what later became our favourite teething toy, the Winkel from Manhattan Toy.

When I first received the toy, I could not understand why it was so popular, it looked unusual to me and I wondered how she would find it interesting. But my daughter loved it. She would bite it, suck on it, turn it around, throw it ( many times out of her stroller), stare at it and play with it. I loved it because it was very easy to keep clean, and I could fasten it to her stroller, her car seat or just about anything and she could have easy access to it.

Other teething toys that I found very useful were the ones that you could put in the freezer or fridge. These toys were great during the summer months when it was really hot, the only problem I found with them was that they would loose their coolness quickly. It was necessary to have at least two and to use them while at home where you could put the used one back in the fridge and give them the other cooled one.

Another surprising toy that she loved to sink her mouth into was her Whoozit, she loved to suck or bite its many arms. Though it is too big to take along with you, two great alternatives would be the Baby Whoozit and for more fun the Whoozit Starz Lights & Sounds.

There are many great teething toys for little ones on the market. Something to consider though is that they will not be teething all the time, so if you are going to purchase one, see if they will also find a way to enjoy it before and/or after they have gotten their pearly whites. Though maybe like my daughter they may not be done with putting things into their months for quite some time.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Goodbye Ella

I was doing some research on the Maternity and Parenting Centres in Toronto such as the Ella Centre and Becoming Maternity when I came across the announcement that the Ella Centre will be closing its doors on June 30, 2007.

To say the least I was surprised and sadden by this announcement, the centre is one of the great places in Toronto were parents and parents-to-be can get information and servicest as the Ella Centre from conception and beyond. Founder Amy Harpenny hopes to have the centre re-opened early 2008 and will provide parents with e-newsletters filled with expert advice and support. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the closure you can visit their website.

Becoming Maternity & Parenting Centre also offers a wide selection of classes, workshops, support groups, and counseling programs for parents and expecting parents. They offer classes from Preconception and early pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Fitness and wellness, parenting workshops, Parenting Multiples and Adoption preparation and adjustment workshops.

They also offer many support groups and counseling services for parents, from lactation support, sleep consultants, birth planning, post-partum support, as well as many support programs for parents of adoptive children or those going through the adoption process.

Both these centres were a source for support, information, and socialization. Certainly the Becoming Maternity & Parenting Centre will still provide parents with all the great services, classes, counseling and support that they may need. We also hope to see the Ella Centre return in 2008.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Everything I Needed to Know About Raising Babies I Learned From My Mom-Friends

The tittle is one from a great article written by award-winning journalist and author Ann Douglas. If you are new to the parenting world you may not have come across her yet, but believe me, you will. She has written the best selling 'The Mother of All' books, with her newest book being 'Meal Time Solutions for your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler'.

This article caught my attention because I recently met up with a new friend who is expecting her first baby in a month. At our meeting we started talking about things that you are not really told but should be. As Ann Douglas says...

You can wear out your mouse-pad surfing all the top ranked baby websites, fill your shopping cart to overflowing with the must-read baby magazines, manuals, and momoirs, but, in the end, it’s your mom-friends who tell you what you really need to know. Here are six all-important lessons about motherhood that I learned from other moms.

1. Only supermodels shed their baby weight by the six-week checkup. (Okay supermodel mommies and their biological equivalents. You’ll meet the odd non-supermodel who manages to get skinny fast, but she’s the exception rather than the rule. The rest of us take months (or longer) to lose our baby bellies.) So don’t measure yourself against the super-crazy supermodel mommy weight loss standards unless you want to start speed-dialing the therapists of the rich and famous.

2. Your partner is not “the enemy”. It just feels that way at 3 am. It’s easy to start staring daggers at your sleeping partner, particularly if you’re convinced he’s ignoring your baby’s middle-of-the-night cries, just so he can snatch a few more minutes of uninterrupted sleep. Before you pack your bags and hop the next train to Splitsville, take it from other moms who’ve been there: He’s not a selfish swine: he’s just a sound sleeper. Scientists have discovered that dads simply don’t hear babies’ cries as well as moms do in the night. Of course, you can help him to hear better by giving him a gentle poke or prod if you need some middle-of-the-night support. There’s no scientific research to show that Dads can’t be roused to provide hands-on help to moms.)

3. Germs have been getting a bad rap. Studies have shown that taking things to extremes on the housecleaning front can increase children’s likelihood of developing allergies. In other words, a few germs can be a good things as far as kids are concerned. So relax a little and consider giving your inner Martha Stewart the day off every now and again.

4. Every mom needs time off for good behavior. Whether you take your time off across town, around the corner, or in your bathtub with the door locked is up to you. (Not every new mom wants to venture too far away from her baby, after all.) But taking some sort of break from baby will give you the chance to recharge your maternal batteries and get reacquainted with your pre-baby self. (Remember her?)

5. Time doesn’t move at a predictable speed once you’ve become a mother. Some days—the not-so-great days—tick by painfully slowly. Then entire months flip by in roughly the same amount of time in takes to flip a page on your calendar. S-l-o-w d-o-w-n, speedup, s-l-o-w d-o-w-n, speedup: it reminds you of the way your Slinky used to flip-flop down the stairs when you were a child, gathering up speed and taking on a life of its own.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting, including—most recently—Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler. Visit her on the web at

All five things that Ann Douglas mentions I learned through the mom group which I joined when my daughter was a few months old. The group was one of my support structures, we would share our troubles, our struggles but most importantly our accomplishments and joys. To this day we are still there for each other to offer support and advice and to share in our children's milestones.

If you are interested in joining a mom group, take a look at the many already created at Baby If you don't find one that fits your needs, create one, because you never know who else is also looking to join a group with the same preferences.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fitness Does a Body Good

When I was pregnant with my daughter Isabel, the only real regular exercise that I did was walking. I believe that I probably walked more during those nine months than I did my entire life.

Research and experts encourage pregnant women to exercise in order to help them have a better labour and to recover faster and with less complications after delivery. Certainly besides walking there are many other activities that are safe for pregnant woment to do such as aqua fitness, yoga, and even pilates. The key is to make sure you go to a fitness club that has certified pre-natal instructors and more importantly that you speak with your healthcare provider before signing up to make sure that the activity that you are interested in is safe for you.

If your doctor gives you the green light, then there are a number of places where you can sign up for a class. Places like Fitmom have locations all over Southern Ontario, as well as Halifax and Calgary. They have three great classes for expecting women; their Fitmom 2 Be, Yoga 4 birth and a Yoga + couples intimacy class. Another great centre that offers many programs besides fitness classes is the Ella Centre, not only do they offer yoga and fitness classes, but also massage therapy, childbirth education and support services like doulas and lactation support.

Without a doubt whatever form of exercise that you do, be it just walking like I did, yoga or aqua fitness you will be doing yourself and the baby a great deal of good. I believe that the key is to find something that you enjoy doing it, because if you don't you will not keep going. Another great thing about joining a class is that you get to meet other pregnant women with whom you can connect with, share information and support.

For a list of other places to sign up for pre-natal exercise classes take a look at the Baby Thoughts' resources section under Fitness and Nutrition.

Monday, May 7, 2007

What's in a Gift

I have had a number of friends ask me lately what toy I would recommend to give as a gift to a newborn. Now, though receiving blankets, bottles, clothing and other newborn gifts are very useful, a beautiful toy that can stimulate baby and help her develop but it can also go a long way. Personally I find that any of the Whoozit Baby toys make great gifts, though they are not the newest toy on the block they are timeless and baby-approved.

Whether you give the classic Whoozit, the Baby Whoozit, or the the Starz Lights and Sounds Whoozit there is no doubt that the child will play with it for a very long time. My daughter Isabel received a Whoozit as a gift and has played with it since she was just a few weeks old. It is very interesting how she is always discovering new ways to play with it.

Other toys that are beautifully crafted and make great gifts, are the grasping toys made by both Haba and Melissa and Doug. Both these brands make such quality toys that they will be enjoyed by future generations. The Clutching Toy Bonita by Haba is a stunning toy, it has four flowers and each flower has something interesting and special, from a mirror, to a bell, to a shiny jewel.

All the grasping toys by Melissa and Doug are fun and vibrant, be it the Monkey Face, Froggie Face, Wiggling Worm or the Friendly Fish. The primary colours found in each of these toys will certainly attract any little one's interest.

Another great tip that I give my friends is that newborns will not be newborns for long, for this reason it is also a good idea to look at the toys that are for older babies, such as the stacking toys, or the pull and push toys. Parents will really appreciate this because they now have something to take out when their little one is 6 months or older.

Whatever toy you choose, there is no doubt that the child will love it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Playing, Singing, Toys and More

I want to share with you one of the great places that I was introduced to after I had my daughter. In the province of Ontario there is a government service called the Ontario Early Years Centres. Each centre offers parents and their children up to age 6 a place were they can take part in some fun activities, obtain information on child development, and meet other parents and children from the neighborhood.

All centres offer different programs but they are all developmental and a great deal of fun. Some programs include, Get Fit with Baby, Sensory Exploration, Mother Goose and the Connecting with Families Drop-in. They even have a toy library were you can take out a toy and bring it back when your little one no longer wants to play with it.

All programs are free but many of them require registration, if you are interested in taking part in one it is best to register as soon as possible.

Links to the Ontario Early Years Centres and other places where parents can look for programs to take part in with their children can be found in the Resources section of


Monday, April 30, 2007

Dinos, Bugs, and Kittens Oh My!

Welcome to the first product review at the Baby Thoughts Blog. For this first review, I will be discussing the beautiful puzzles from Melissa & Doug available at

Those who know Melissa and Doug know about their stunning hand painted, hand-crafted wooden puzzles. All puzzles are made from quality woods and extraordinary attention to detail.

For younger babies, starting at one year, Melissa & Doug offers colorful puzzles with large shapes and "Jumbo Knobs". These knobs are rounded wooden pieces attached to each puzzle piece that make it easier for babies to grasp. Another great feature is that there is a picture of familiar animals or shapes both on the surface and under each piece to help young children match the right puzzle pieces.

My favourite Jumbo Knob puzzles to introduce to young children are the smaller Jumbo Knob puzzles like Fish Bowl, House Pets, or Jungle Friends. These are simple, colourful, 3-piece puzzles. For those who are a bit more adventurous I recommend the Large Farm or Large Shapes puzzles, each with 8 pieces.

For older children we offer 2 different lines of puzzles: Chunky, and Peg Mix 'n Match. Chunky puzzles share some characteristics of the Jumbo Knob, in that they have colourful animals painted on the puzzle piece and the board underneath. A great feature of the chunky puzzles is that the thick shapes can be used to play with without the puzzle board. Check out the Dinosaurs, and Insects puzzles. The Mix 'n Match puzzles, such as Farm Friends and Zoo Animals are fantastic to play silly games making up your own animals. The puzzle shapes are interchangeable so that you can put the cow piece on the pig, the turtle on the fish, etcetera.

All the Melissa and Doug puzzles are works of art, they are puzzles that can passed down from generation to generation. Stop by and take a look for yourself.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Choosing a toy for your baby

For new parents, choosing a toy for your baby can be a bit confusing at first. There is a lot of choice out there and not a lot of data points on which to make your decision. I have a 19 month old daughter, and I think I have learned a couple of interesting things about choosing toys, from the time she was a newborn, until now.

First - and I think this is the most important message to other parents on this subject - the most interesting, entertaining, and positively awe inspiring toy for your baby is you! Yes, that's right, you. Think of it like this: A baby is born with limited vision and only a handful of instincts to help her get started in life. Everything else is up to you. Baby will probably start breastfeeding almost immediately after birth and will have frequent visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation from mom and dad. Baby will learn mom and dad's faces and sounds and will draw a familiar comfort from it. From then on you will find that as baby develops she will appreciate you at different levels. I remember with my little one, coming home after work when she was about 2-3 months old, and just upon seeing me and hearing me calling out she would break out in hysterical laughter, every time. Now that she's older, it's about more sophisticated games, such as dancing, reading, or playing "where's daddy's nose?" (you get the idea). But the fun she derives from me and my wife is still beyond any toy we have purchased.

But then, there are some awesome toys too.

Let me start from the 0-6 months stage. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, multi-sensory toys are staples for babies under 6 months. Toys and mobiles with high contrast shapes (such as Wimmer-Ferguson toys from Manhattan Toy) and textures, such as the Whoozit will give baby interesting stimulation. I also found that toys that can be wound up to play a soothing song for 30 seconds or so can also bring comfort and stimulation to your baby. Toys that come to mind here are Whoozit Starz Lights and Sounds from Manhattan Toy and Fisher Price's Ocean Wonders Aquarium. There are always plush toys (such as teddy bears), but I find that baby will not really really appreciate those until later on. Also, don't forget grasping toys in many different shapes and sizes that your baby will use as a toy and teether at the same time. Brands like Haba and Manhattan Toy have some great grasping toys.

As they get a bit older and they can sit and play, I have found that blocks, Legos, balls, and other toys that can be stacked, squished and thrown and have interesting colours and themes are also big winners. As they start to stand up or get more aware of their surroundings you might find that activity tables with buttons, clickers, spinners, and music are also popular.

Last but not least, for babies over 12 months, there has been a strong resurgence of wooden toys and puzzles. Toys ranging from shape sorters to alphabet blocks, and puzzles are great learning toys and visually very appealing. Brands like Melissa & Doug, Plan Toys, and Hape Toys come to mind here.

Some of these products, of course, can be seen at

Happy toy hunting!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Should dads get up too?

I'm going to switch gears a bit today and talk about an infamous struggle for new parents; sleepless nights. (If you are about to be a new parent, get ready and read on)

My daughter, who is now 19 months, spent the first 5-6 months of her life sleeping no more than 4 hours at any given time. Don't get me wrong, we were very lucky in that she was an absolutely healthy, happy baby. It's just that she had a constant cycle of sleep, eat, poop, and sleep again. This, of course, meant that my wife spent those first 6 months like a zombie, never being able to get a decent, restful night. I would occasionally chip in on the weekends and help where I could, but since my daughter was breast fed, there were some areas were I was, well, unqualified.

This leads me to a common topic of discussion, which I have had with a couple of other dads-to-be, on the type of involvement that a dad should expect to have during those sleepless nights.

The most obvious conclusion, which is what my wife and I thought before our daughter was born is that there are two main obstacles that will limit how much a dad can help. One is work. The other is breasts.

From a work perspective, we thought that there was no point in me being a zombie too, since I would not be able to perform my "9-to-5" duties. Therefore, I seldom, if ever got up in the middle of a week night to help out. From an anatomical perspective, my daughter was 100% breast fed until she was 6 months old, so there was not much I could do on that front. There was breast milk in a bottle of course, but there is only so much milk a mom can pump.

My perspective on this has changed dramatically after 19 months. If and when baby number 2 comes along I think I would like to do a couple of things differently. First, my job doesn't call for operating heavy machinery or doing dangerous tasks, so next time around I will get up with my wife at least once a night (yes, even during weekdays). Even if you do not feed the baby, as a dad there is a lot you can do, including burping, walking, rocking, and changing diapers (yes your wife is doing all of that too, while you are asleep). Secondly, I would introduce some portion of formula feeding after a couple of months. I would encourage parents to seriously discuss the breast milk versus formula topic before their child is born. For all of the advantages of breast milk (there are many) formula fed babies typically sleep longer and formula feeding gives dad a chance to give mom a break.

If nothing else, getting up will show much needed moral support during this zombie phase (yes, it is a phase and it does end). After you get the hang of it and your baby reaches 4-5 months, I would encourage parents to read a book called "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child". My wife an I are raving fans, since the sleep training discussed in the book helped us get our child to sleep continuously for about 10-12 hours every night!

Hope this helps.