Archives for September 2009

Photographing Your Baby — Tips & Tricks


In the almost 15 months that our son, Jack, has been in our lives, we’ve taken more pictures than we know what to do with. Luckily, my husband has a knack for photography, and so we’ve gotten some fantastic photos (such as this one from our recent trip to the beach … I couldn’t resist), but there are plenty of not-so-great photos too!

Trying to snap frame-worthy photos of a baby often results in disappointment, frustration, and ultimately a costly trip to the local portrait studio. (Trust me … we’ve been there!) That is one of the reasons I was so excited to get my hands on a new how-to DVD called How to Photograph Your Baby.


In this DVD, Nick Kelsh, renowned photographer and author of eight photography books, including the best-selling book How to Photograph Your Baby, introduces easy steps that will have parents creating beautifully composed baby pictures in just a few minutes. The DVD explores common photography mistakes and offers simple, fun, and effective ways to improve results with a few quick tips.

Nick offers three main tips for getting great photos of your baby.

Tip #1: Get Closer to Your Baby
Don’t be shy when photographing your baby. Get closer and avoid all the background clutter that distracts viewers from the most important element in the photo — your baby. "Parents who take pictures of their babies never see all the background objects that often ruin the picture. All they see is their beautiful child. Don’t be afraid to get closer to your baby and try to be as conscious about the things you don’t want in the picture as much as what you do want."

Tip #2: Natural Light Is Key
Using flash in dark environments or for taking snapshots at parties is fine but turn the flash off when photographing your baby. Instead Kelsh suggests using natural light to create a softer, more attractive
photograph. "Move your baby closer to any light source — a sunbeam coming through a window, under a skylight, even peering out an open door," says Kelsh. "You will immediately see a drastic improvement in the quality of light and, if you follow the "get closer’ tip, your baby will appreciate you turning the flash off too."

Tip #3: Take Lots of Pictures
If you’re thinking, you’re probably not shooting photos — so just keep your finger on the shutter. One of the great advantages to digital photography is that there is no added cost to taking lots of photos versus just a few. The more photos you snap, the greater the odds for an album filled with priceless images. "Many people don’t realize how many thousands of photos professional photographers take just to get the few really good ones we see in Sports Illustrated, Time magazine, and even our favorite daily newspapers," explains Kelsh. "Don’t be afraid to keep shooting, because it’s your best guarantee for that one perfect picture."

If you’ve ever been frustrated when trying to get a good picture of your baby, check out this DVD. It also includes tips on capturing your child’s personality as well as how to file and display your favorite photos.

For preview clips from the DVD and to order, visit

Do you have any other tips and tricks for photographing your baby? Share them with us and other ParentLife readers by leaving a comment.

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

The month of September is quickly drawing to a close, but we couldn’t let it get by without bringing your attention to the problem of childhood obesity. September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – a perfect opportunity to evaluate your child’s diet, exercise, and medical conditions that may cause weight gain and health issues. Childhood is the ideal time to instill healthy, positive habits that will last a lifetime.

Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky, a renowned New York pediatrician with more than 20 years experience advising parents on child weight issues, offers some fun ways that your family can stay active on the weekends — an important victory in the battle of childhood obesity.

  • 84_hiking.jpgHiking is great. Hikes ending in a picnic are better. You can set the place, but not the time, for the picnic, this way there will be less tendency to slack off. (If you know where the food is, you will go there faster. If you know when, you may be tempted to whine away the time). Many areas have bike trails and urban hiking works just as well as the country variety.
  • Pick-up soccer games need only two participants, one ball, and something to mark off a goal on the ground. You can play in an 8-by-12-foot space and have a blast doing it. There a plenty of games to keep everyone occupied in a park.
  • Visit local museums, botanical gardens, or fairs. Tap into resources and events happening in the area.
  • Go on a GPS scavenger hunt. Walk the path alone with "reward" items (obviously something of no value to a casual passersby — like a note of congratulations, or a certificate redeemable only from you). Mark GPS waypoints wherever you drop them. Give the GPS unit to the kids and have them find the items. Remember the GPS is only accurate to about 20 feet! No GPS? Take photos at waypoints with your phone and send them to your kids’ phones, see if they can figure out the locations!
  • Go on a foxhunt. Put an old remote control into a recess so it is not easily visible. Put a rock on the buttons so it is constantly transmitting (it will put out a flashing infrared signal). Most cameras will see the infrared easily — have the kids find the remote! This one works best indoors or outdoors in dim light.

What are some fun ways that your family stays active? Share your suggestions with us?

Smiles Across America

R4-SAA-Header.jpgTooth decay is considered the most common chronic childhood disease—five times more common than asthma—according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The department also reports that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness. Fortunately, good oral health habits can keep tooth decay at bay.
To help teach students and parents this important lesson, Trident has partnered with Smiles Across America (SAA), a program that links schools and dental care providers to help fight untreated oral disease. The company’s support has enabled SAA to double the number of children it cares for and expand services for more children in underserved communities. 

The following are some great oral care tips for both parents and children to practice.

• Brush twice a day, after breakfast and before bedtime, to remove food particles and plaque. Plaque causes tooth decay and gum disease.
• Use a soft toothbrush so you don’t scratch teeth or gums.
• Brush both the teeth and gums, especially the areas where teeth and gums meet, and the chewing surfaces of teeth.
• Always brush after eating candy and other sugary or starchy snacks, and after drinking sugary sodas and juices.
• Adults should supervise tooth brushing, giving a second brushing after kids have brushed to make sure teeth are clean.
• Floss every day to remove food and plaque from between teeth and under gums. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar—a hard, yellow buildup.
• Visit the dentist every six months to one year for cleanings and checkups, beginning at age 1, when baby teeth are coming in.

Have you been able to establish a good oral care routine with your family?


Fun Friday Photo — September 25, 2009

Three-year-old David shows off his "I’m-too-cool-for-you" shades!


Thanks to Laura F. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!

Fearful Parenting

I tend to be very laid back about things that come along in life with our kids, but there have been moments in my life as a parent that have caused worry and fear. I remember that feeling being separated from my family on a business trip on September 11, 2001. I was uncertain and fearful about what would happen next. It made me realize that uncertainty for the future can be worse for a parent. The question nags until it develops into fear: Will it happen again?

83_worried-parent.jpgI had a similar experience when my son had two seizures last month. I was fairly cool and collected during those moments, focused on caring for my son. But the feeling afterwards, night after night, sometimes lying in bed right beside him. Will it happen again?

There are so many moments in life that can cause fear. Will my child get the flu that is going around? Will we be able to pay for college? Will he be safe?

It is in those moments that God wants us to place our trust in Him, to give our children to His care. It is easier to say than do for sure! But in God is the only place of perfect peace.

I was so glad to be able to go back and read Rebecca Powell’s article "By Fear of Faith?" in our August issue of ParentLife. When the article was published, I may easily have thought, This article isn’t for me. But how quickly one life event can change everything! Then the process begins of turning those fears over to God.

If you ever discover there is a past article that you would like to read again, e-mail us, and we will be happy to send you a copy of a past article.

Are there times when you are afraid for your children? How have you been able to turn them over to God?

Calafant Toys — Fun and Eco-friendly!


Looking for a great goodie bag gift for your child’s party? Or a fun activity that also is eco-friendly? Check out the small Calafant kits that let kids build and decorate their own toy — dinosaurs, houses, race cars, steamers, fire trucks, and more. Each toy is easy to build and comes with 6 high-quality markers. It’s a wonderful party activity, and children get to play with their very own toy at the party and take it home.

DSC05627_Colins_Dino_web-150x112.jpgAll Calafant toys are made from recycled cardboard, and they are, of course, biodegradable. Parents can choose either just one style depending on the theme of the party (i.e. for a dinosaur party, every child gets a dinosaur) or mix and match nine different styles.

Visit to see these eco-friendly treasures. These sell for $6.99 for one toy or $53 for the party pack including 9 toys. Available at and select retailers listed on the Web site. All toys are lead-free, non-toxic and safe for play.

Do you have some great toys that you would recommend? Share with us and other parents by posting!

Free Admission on Museum Day 2009

Spend a whole day at a museum for free, courtesy of Smithsonian magazine. Smithsonian magazine invites Smithsonian readers and visitors on a free journey to celebrate culture, learning, and knowledge at Museum Day 2009. Smithsonian has designated Saturday, September 26, its fifth annual Museum Day, when participating museums and cultural institutions nationwide open their doors free of charge to emulate the free admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities. 

museumday-logo-2009.jpg“Museum Day represents Smithsonian Media’s commitment to making knowledge and culture accessible to everyone, whether they’re able to travel to the nation’s capital or not,” said Kerry Bianchi, Group Publisher, Smithsonian Media. “In light of the economy, when many families are looking for ways to still have fun and pursue their passions, Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day is a welcome treat this year. With more than 750 museums throughout the country already registered to offer Smithsonian’s free admission policy, this year’s Museum Day is poised to be the largest to date.”
Museum Day’s supporting sponsor is CITGO. Attendees must present the Museum Day Admission Card to gain free entry to participating institutions. Visit to download your Museum Day Admission Card, or find it in the September issue of Smithsonian.  Each card provides museum access for two people, and one admission card is permitted per household.  Listings and links to participating museums’ and sponsors’ sites), can also be found at  
Will you try to take advantage of free museum day this Saturday?

Dr. Mintle Answers Your Questions


Each month in ParentLife, Christian counselor Dr. Linda Mintle answers your questions about parenting. We have an extra question this month and wanted to get it to you on the blog.

Q: My 5-year-old son tried to kiss a girl in kindergarten. The teacher called me and told me he chases a girl at recess and tries to kiss her. Apparently the little girl runs away and giggles. The teacher is new and young and wanted me to know. The teacher says he is doing well in class, and we don’t have problems with him at home.  He does see my husband kiss me when he comes home from work. How should I handle this and why is he doing this at such a young age? Apparently this isn’t the first girl he’s tried to kiss either!

A: Do not panic! This is the age in which your child is learning about what it means to be male. He does this primarily through identification with Dad and watching and imitating others. Developmentally, he is learning basic gender identity. He has seen your husband kiss you and watched people in movies and TV do the same.  Your son is curious and experimenting with what he has seen. It is normal to try and copy this behavior. In a few years, he will think kissing is gross! So talk to your son and tell him that kissing his classmates is inappropriate. Do not punish him but tell him to stop. He can chase the little girl he likes but not kiss her. Suggest that he play tag instead. Most important is your attitude toward this behavior. Be careful not to shame your son or make this into a big deal. How you feel about his sexual development and how you respond to normal development is important.

Post your questions for Dr. Mintle, and we will send them to her to be answered in a future issue of ParentLife!

Safe Volume Headphones Recall


In our September 2009 issue, we recommended Safe Volume Headphones by iHearSafe. We have just been informed that these headphones are no longer being sold due to a voluntary recall. For all of the recall details, please visit and click on "Recall Information." We apologize for the inconvenience!

For more details about the recall, please view the following press release.


Fun Friday Photo — September 18, 2009

Eight-month-old Libbie exhibits the proper way to eat a book.


 Thanks to Jessie W. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!