Archives for March 2010

Pump It Up — Sensory Nights for Autistic Children

A group of children bouncing around on inflatable equipment might not be the typical picture of therapy, but parents across the country who have children with autism are touting the physical and social benefits of playtime at giant, indoor inflatable playgrounds. 

PumpItUp.jpgThe environment at indoor inflatable playgrounds, featuring giant bounce houses and slides, can become an ideal place for children with autism to receive helpful sensations. This is the reasoning behind Sensory Nights hosted by the Autism Society, and Pump It Up, a national franchise of giant, indoor inflatable playgrounds. The private playtimes are designed exclusively for children with special needs and their families — the music is turned off and the bounce arenas are less crowded, so children aren’t as likely to be overstimulated as in other similar environments that might be noisier. But besides avoiding overstimulation, bouncing in this sort of environment also can provide therapeutic benefits for sensory challenges by creating a calming sensation called proprioceptive input.

For added bouncing benefit, children could wear firm-fitting clothing, especially if it has a stretchy quality, like dance clothing. The firm pressure along their skin provides calming information to the brain and keeps the brain organized as they play. It’s the perfect sensation for therapeutic benefit. 


In addition to Sensory Nights, Pump It Up locations across the country and the Autism Society are hosting “Bounce for Autism” events, a broader community fundraiser to raise support and awareness for autism during National Autism Awareness Month this April. More information is available at

To find a Sensory Night in your area, check with your local Pump It Up. To learn more about autism, visit

Safety Alert — March Issue!

balloon.jpgA dear ParentLife reader who also is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner reminded us of the safety precautions involving balloons. The March 2010 article “Let’s Have a Party!” mentioned having balloons at a birthday party and sending them home with children as party favors. We thank this reader for updating us and want to remind parents of the dangers that balloons and balloon pieces can cause to young children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Policy Statement (March 2010) has the following to say: “Of all children’s products, latex balloons are the leading cause of choking death, and most of these fatalities are among children younger than 6 years. Uninflated and pieces of broken latex balloons pose a particular hazard because of their ability to conform to the child’s airway and form an airtight seal.” So please guard your young children from balloons.

We apologize to our readers for not thinking through the implications of including balloons at parties. We do want to take this opportunity to get the word out to other readers so they will be aware.

Thank you for your comments! We always want to give the best health and safety information available to our readers.


More Car Organization Tips

126_mom_kids.jpgIf you are like most parents, you spend a lot of time in your car … taxiing kids from one activity to the next. Keeping your car clean and organized can be easier said than done. But in the March 2010 issue of ParentLife, Leigh Rollar Bethel provided some great tips for organizing your car. Be sure not to miss it. And if you need some more help, try the following ideas.

  • The Glove Box. Keep your car manual with current insurance card and registration in the glove box, as well as a pack of peanut butter crackers in case of low blood sugar, extra straws, and napkins.
  • An Under-the-Seat Drawer. This is a good place for a roll of tape, a small stapler, a flashlight, a screwdriver, a motion sickness bag, an extra toothbrush and toothpaste, an ice scraper, and zip-lock bags.
  • A Coupon Holder. Keeping a coupon holder in your car can help you save money. Consider filing your coupons into categories: Fast Food Restaurants, Sit Down Restaurants, Stores, Beauty (hair and nail), and Entertainment. Go through the coupons regularly to discard the expired ones.

What tips and tricks have you found for keeping your car clean and organized? Leave a comment or e-mail us at

Fun Friday Photo — March 26, 2010

Don’t you just want to kiss little Elijah’s sweet cheeks?


Thanks to Lorie K. 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!

Happy Haircuts

125_haircut.jpgIt is amazing how a haircut on a toddler can make a "baby" suddenly turn into a "big boy." I experienced this firsthand last week. My 20-month-old, Jack, has had a few haircuts here and there — short trims but nothing drastic. We tried to taking him to a salon once and it was not a pleasant experience, so the past few times, my husband has cut Jack’s hair at home.

Last Monday we decided it was time to cut it again. We’ve kept it fairly long for quite some time, but warmer weather is just around the corner and it was starting to get in his eyes, so we decided to go for a shorter cut this time. I was nervous, but ulitmately, I knew it was time!

So we put Jack in the bathtub (without water of course, makes for easier cleanup), brought in his favorite snacks and toys, and broke out the clippers. This plan worked well the last time we trimmed Jack’s hair, but this time was a different story. He was not at all interested in cooperating. He cried, screamed, and wiggled through the whole experience (which made this mommy want to cry right along with him). One of his wiggles caused Jason to take a fairly big chunk out of the side of his hair. We finished up as best we could, but Jack was making it difficult. So we gave up. (As a side note: I thought Jack would be mad at us for at least a little while afterward, but he bounced back quickly as if nothing had ever happend … much to my relief!)

The haircut looked passable … but Jason and I weren’t happy with it … especially with the super-short patch on the side. So Tuesday, much to my protest, we tried it again. This time, we brought the laptop into the bathroom and popped in one of Jack’s favorite DVDs. He sat still and cooperated without a single tear this time. It was like he was a different child. Jason was able to shorten everything up and blend in the sides without any trouble.

The result … my baby is now a big boy with a big-boy haircut. I was in mourning for a few days, but I got over it and realize now that it adds to his super-cuteness!

I don’t have any deep insight or thoughts to share based on this experience. I’m just curious … What was your child’s first haricut like? What tips or tricks do you have that you could share with other ParentLife readers? Do you cut your child’s hair or do you take him to a salon? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment or e-mail us at

“You’re Invited!”

Are you planning a party using Abbey Land’s awesome party-plannying tips In the March 2010 issue of ParentLife? Building excitiement and anticipation for your guests starts with the invitation. There are so many fun, easy resources online to help you personalize and create your own party invitations. Check out just a few of these options:

  • TinyPrints-Logo.pngTiny Prints — This company guarantees 100% satisfaction with their photo cards, birth announcements, and party invitations.
  • — Find adorable themes, cuts, characters, and colors — from wild and festive to sweet and silly.
  • Shutterfly-Logo.pngShutterfly — Shutterfly allows you to upload your own photos and use them for photo books, photo cards and stationary, and much more. You can have your purchase mailed to you or you can choose to pick your order up at your local Target.
  • Disney’s Family Fun Printables — By clicking on "Printables" and and then "Cards and Invites," you will discover a variety of do-it-yourself invitation options.
  • VistaPrint-logo.pngVistaprint — Vistaprint delivers high-quality printed products (including inviations) in low volume for a great price.
  • — Print invitations featuring your child’s favorite Nick Jr. characters or create your very own printable invitation from scratch! Click on "Games & Activities" and "Preschool Printables" or "Custom Nick Jr. Printables."
  • — Thinking of going paperless? Check out for free, fun electronic invitations.


Do you know of any other great invitation options? Share your ideas by leaving a comment or e-mailing us at

Mom, Can We Have a Dog?


Dr. Linda Mintle answers your questions each month in the Real Life Solutions department of ParentLife magazine. This month Dr. Linda answers questions about kids using cell phones and when kids lie. Each month we post an extra question on the blog. This month Dr. Mintle gives some advice about getting a pet.

Q: Our 10-year-old daughter is begging us for a pet. I have two younger children and adding a pet to the mix feels overwhelming. However, my daughter desperately wants a pet and I am an animal lover. I am not sure about the added responsibility right now. What should we consider in making this decision?

A: Most children will beg you for a pet some time in their young lives. The main issues to consider are the child’s developmental stage and your expectations for taking care of a pet. Obviously a cat or dog would require care and attention — feeding, grooming, exercise, clean up, and more. Other pets, such as fish and guinea pigs, are less time and care intensive and good choices for younger children. They offer you an opportunity to see how committed to taking care of a pet your child really is and how long interest will be sustained.

Go to the library and get a book about pet care. As a family, talk about the needs of a pet, what type of pet you may consider, and what the expectations would be. For example, certain dog breeds are more kid-friendly than others. Goldfish or hermit crab requires very little upkeep and expense. Visit a pet store and talk with a friend who has the kind of pet you are interested in to get a better idea of time and care issues.

Of course your child could lose interest in the pet after several weeks and you may end up with the responsibility. Schedule playdates with a friend who has a pet and see if the interest in the pet sustains over time. Decide what you can handle right now and do not be swayed by the begging.

Finally, consider the cost of owning a pet, family stability in terms of moves and housing, the demand of time and energy, and the possibility of the pet becoming a source of family conflict if people slack off on their responsibilities. The benefits of pet owning should be considered as well. Pets help teach a child structure, empathy, compassion, nurturing, loyalty, trust, and responsibility and provide companionship. Pets are also sources of unconditional love and dependability. Pets can improve mood and blood pressure, increase family exercise, and even reduce stress.

Send us your questions for Dr. Mintle!


Fun Friday Photo — March 19, 2010

This is how brothers Camden and Evan get closer together when Mom tells them she is taking their picture! 


Thanks to Jennifer C. 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!

March Madness

March Madness has officially struck at our home! My boys went crazy over the annual college basketball tourney this year. And this time I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Sportscrazy.jpgJonathan drew up a bracket in time for the selection show Sunday night and had me fill it out as the brackets were announced. He did this so he could go ahead and choose all his winners. He wanted to be ready to post when the online brackets were available. I believe we entered at least 12 different brackets online — and only one of those is truly mine! The boys both were anxious for the games to begin today so they could either brag … or make excuses about their picks! It is a great time to be on spring break. They probably will try to watch as many of the 16 games today as they possibly can.

We always try to balance sports with everything else. My wife will tell you that sports seem to be on the TV all the time. And we play plenty of them too. It’s just a matter of keeping things in proper perspective.

So tell me: Is there basketball fever at your home? I want to know if there are other parents of sports crazed kids out there. How do you handle it all?

And who did you pick to win? : )


High Chair Recall

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of the Graco Harmony™ High Chairs. Here is the product info as provided by the CPSC.

Units: About 1.2 million

Manufacturer: Graco Children’s Products Inc., of Atlanta, Ga.

high chair recall.jpgHazard: The screws holding the front legs of the high chair can loosen and fall out and/or the plastic bracket on the rear legs can crack causing the high chair to become unstable and tip over unexpectedly. This poses a fall hazard to children.

Incidents/Injuries: Graco has received 464 reports of screws loosening/falling out and/or plastic brackets cracking causing the high chair to tip over unexpectedly. These tip-over’s resulted in 24 reports of injuries including bumps and bruises to the head, a hairline fracture to the arm, and cuts, bumps, bruises and scratches to the body.

Description: This recall involves all Harmony™ High Chairs. The Harmony™ high chair was manufactured from November 2003 through December 2009 and is no longer in production. The model number can be found on the label that is located on the underside of the foot rest.

Sold at: AAFES, Burlington Coat Factory, Babies "R" Us, Toys "R" Us, Sears, Target,, Walmart,, Shopko, USA Baby, and other retailers nationwide from December 2003 through March 2010 for between $70 and $120.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the Harmony™ high chair and contact Graco to receive a free repair kit.

Consumer Contact: To order a free repair kit, contact Graco toll-free at (877) 842-3206 or visit the firm’s Web site at For additional information, contact Graco at (800) 345-4109 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

To see the release, click here.