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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Play, but play safely.
Play, but play safely. (Photo: shutter)

Keeping your kids' skin and lips safe in the winter snow and cold

As colder weather sets in, so do chapped lips and dryer skin. Children and chapped lips means uncomfort. Dry skin means itchiness and scratching. It's best to be prepared ahead of time for a remedy. While a pediatrician can offer a personalized product for your child's condition, there are plenty of over the counter options for minor signs of dryness. It's always best to still consult with your child's pediatrician just top rule out anything else.

Toy Tips tested out some brands of moisturizing products that are appropriate for children and adults.  These made our top list.

Carmex Everyday Healing Cream.  It's non-greasy which makes it easy to put on your child without a thick residue on your own hands. Designed to penetrate dry, rough and cracked skin, it worked well on heels, elbows and hands.  It  does have a softer scent of the regular Carmex lip balm. We suggest adding a coat of that on your child's lips after as protection. Now that these come in different flavors, have your choose the one they like best. It will help make it easier for you to have them wear it.  For a little extra something for Mom, the Ultra Hydrating  Moisture Plus lip balm
with SPF15/Sunscreen come in stylish tubes. Mom testers liked the  clear gloss finish and the soft vanilla flavor.  Gluten-free, too. 

One of the worst feelings are those little cracks near your cuticles or around your nails that are just downright. painful. We found two products that seem to work for that.

CapriClear Moisturizing Spray. This easy to spray bottle of clear liquid fractionated coconut oil is 100% natural.  Mom testers used this at night on their face as well as their hands and reported a healthier looking complexion and softer hands after a few days use.  We suggest to keep it on the nightstand as a quick reminder before bedtime so the fractionated oil can soak into the skin. It also worked well on the lips to prevent dryness and moisturize.  It's also gluten-free. 

The Carmex Healing Oin…

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Smile, it's toy season!
Smile, it's toy season!

Toy buying tips for the holiday season

My independent Toy Tips business wants to help you choose smart toy choices this holiday season.

First, don't get caught up in the "hot" toy  hoopla or must-haves that you think your kids won't be happy without. Choose smart toys that kids will play with over and over. A good toy is one that is age and skill appropriate that holds a child's current interests. The more you personalize a selection, the better the play experience for your child.

Here are several tips:

  • View toys as learning tools building life skills.
  • Allow children to identify their own strengths with self-discovery toys. Toys that they play with alone such as science activity kits, magic kits and dolls help teach important lessons about responsibility values and respect for others.
  • Encourage cooperation with friends and peers with relationship toys. Team communication skills are improved with sports toys and board games.
  • Strengthen language skills and stimulate listening, speaking and imitation sounds with speech and hearing toys. Musical toys and phonics based learning aids and voice command reading books are good examples.
  • Improve hand eye coordination with fine motor activities that require hand movements such as grasping and pinching. Smart toy choices include stacking games, puzzles, writing and coloring books and activities.
  • Encourage spatial relations and teaching children about their own surroundings through textures, tastes, smells and sight with sensory activity toys.
  • Develop balance and exercise gross motor skills with toys that allow children to crawl, run, throw and climb. Look for age and skill  appropriate ride-on toys that  are kid-powered and climbing structures that encourage activities to use large muscle groups.
  • Encourage independent thinking with toys that promote concentration, competition and deductive reasoning. Thinking and logic toys include  spy toys, ant farms, construction sets and memory games.
  • Increase confidence with toys that build on self esteem. Art …
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You baby's first toys are important.
You baby's first toys are important. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

First toys for infants

For all children, toys are props and the process of play is valuable in the development of physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills. The toys an infant plays with today may help shape the skills a child masters tomorrow.

In the infant years, the first toy a child needs is you. It is important to monitor a child’s progress milestone by milestone and introduce new sensory textures once you recognize a child has learned a new skill. Once baby crawls, climbs and stands, small climbing structures and ride-on toys foster use of large muscle groups. Gross motor activities help develop balance and exercise with the whole body.

Look for toys that will encourage a baby to build on naturally occurring developmental skills. Buying more advanced toys to speed the process is not advisable. A toy that is too complicated or too difficult to use will often frustrate your little one.

The concept of sticking to a task and learning a difficult new skill is one that is many years off. Babies are much more grounded in the present. As a child learns something new, enhance that skill and choose toys that will allow her to practice the skill. This raises self-esteem and creativity and provides your child with a sense of accomplishment.

Keep in mind toys for an older sibling are not recommended for the hands or within reach of a younger child. Small pieces, sharp edges on a toy, magnet toys and a storybooks with non-rounded edges are inappropriate for every infant. Any toy that is fun most likely will engage repeat continued interest.

Remember, playing with your infant creates a bonding, parent-child interaction that is priceless.

Packing for a family vacation can be daunting. Here are some helpful tips to simplify the process.
Packing for a family vacation can be daunting. Here are some helpful tips to simplify the process. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

How to pack and plan for a family trip

If the backyard has lost its luster and you've visited every Milwaukee attraction at least once already this summer, then you're ready for a quick and easy nearby family getaway. It's Family Vacation Week here at OnMilwaukee and we'll bring you suggestions every day for great jaunts perfect for a day, weekend or week-long getaway. Bon voyage, Milwaukee!

Family vacations are supposed to be fun, except when you’re unprepared. My advice is simple: plan ahead. And don’t worry about coming off as annoying or overly meticulous. The time you put in beforehand can save you headache later. Commit this to-do list to memory:

  • Make a list of kid-friendly activities everyone will enjoy.
  • Find out how far your destination is from the airport.
  • Schedule a shuttle to and from the hotel ahead of time, if possible.
  • Locate family-friendly restaurants in the area.
  • Pinpoint your geo-location in relation to historic or recreation sites.
  • Research if there’s dining at your hotel and what they offer.
  • Ask if there’s a fridge in the room and if it’s stocked.
  • If traveling by car, check the oil, tires and brakes before you hit the road.
  • Find out if the hotel provides a crib; ask for the brand name, and then check recalls.gov (before you depart) to make sure it’s safe.

Next up: packing. This is, perhaps, the biggest task to tackle because you don’t want to bring too much or too little. Still, it’s best to err on the side of being overstocked. Although you may remember to bring along the basics, it’s the travel accoutrements that often end up saving the day. Here, a list of less-obvious must-haves.

For infants age 4 months to 1 year:

  • Digital thermometer
  • Sun repellant clothing and hat
  • Swimming aids
  • Pediatrician phone number and after-hours contact information
  • Baby shade and rain protector cover
  • Inflatable bath tub

For toddlers age 1-2 years

  • Disposable utensils and cups
  • Insect repellant
  • Water shoes and swimming aids
  • Travel toys (Click here to see…
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