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Smart Parenting

Practical advice about raising children

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Children’s most formative years are from birth to the age of five. This is when they begin to develop their intellect, personality, and social skills. It’s also a time for children to be surrounded by positive role models and learn how to enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. All adults are socially responsible to inspire every new generation to be fit, healthy, and active. When we think about the future, we often wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this case, the healthy adult or the healthy child?

Children are surrounded by adults from the moment they are born until they, themselves, become adults. These are the people who will influence your kids during their most important years of developing their preferences. As parents, we have the opportunity to be the foundation for our kids. Once they are in the hands of others, we begin to allow others to shape their way of thinking. This is the time to be great role models and to constantly remind our children of positive lifestyles. As a fitness professional and the co-founder of a preschool fitness program, I’ve put together a list of ways for YOU to be positive—it will rub off on the kids as they watch you enjoying life. Try this fun, comprehensive guide on how to become a positive role model for your kids.

mother bicycling with daughters
Photo by Fotolia.

Make fitness fun. I’m here to tell you that if you don’t love your fitness activities, you won’t enjoy the journey to health and your kids will interpret fitness and exercise as a negative word. So, go out there and find what makes you happy! You can try group fitness classes at a large gym, in a boutique fitness studio, or even at home with a DVD. Maybe you prefer outdoor activities like biking, hiking, surfing, etc. As the primary role model in your child’s life, it is your responsibility to learn to enjoy exercise, make it part of everyday life, and share your fitness with family and friends.

Stop counting calories. When we talk about kid’s fitness, we never mention words like, calories, weight loss, fat, thin, etc. As fitness professionals, enthusiasts, parents and teachers, we want to always practice what we preach. Can you imagine a four year old counting calories in their lunch box? No, and neither should you. Kids eat when they are hungry; they stop eating when they are no longer hungry. They move when they want to have fun; they sleep as long as their bodies require them to sleep. We should learn from our future generation and stop beating ourselves up about the number of calories we’re consuming and instead enjoy our meals and enjoy our fitness.

Avoid negative self-talk. Do your best not to degrade yourself with comments like, “I’m not skinny enough. I shouldn’t have eaten that. I hate exercising. I’m too upset to look in the mirror today.” Your kids are absorbing every negative and positive thing you say out loud. They can even interpret your body language. Crazy, right? It’s time for us to overpower the negativity that we see around us, especially in the media and to start talking in more positive ways. For instance, we can teach our children that going to the gym allows us to be strong and healthy, instead of skinny. We’re eating healthy to prevent disease and to enjoy what our bodies can do for us instead of dieting.

Kids are so intuitive and we’re often missing clues that they are modeling our behaviors. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if your attitude was healthier and you got excited every time it was time for the gym? Or you cooked healthy meals at home with your kids, letting them participate?

Ethel Baumberg has an MPH in health education and behavioral sciences and is the business director and co-founder of FLYAROO Fitness, the first nationwide customizable preschool certification fitness program created for children ages 18 months to 6 years old.


By the time you get all of your kids tucked into bed, it seems like half of the night is already gone. Your children never seem to get enough sleep and neither do you. Yet, bedtime doesn’t have to take all night. There are a couple of easy ways you can make bedtime easier. Make your children’s bedroom more inviting with organic bamboo sheets and establish a bedtime routine. While these tricks are simple, they will do wonders in making bedtime easier on you and your kids.

mother reading bedtime story to two children
Photo by Fotolia.

Make Their Bedroom Inviting

The first step to making bedtime easier is to make your children’s bedroom more inviting. If your children love jumping into their bed each night because their bedding is so soft and cozy, the bedtime battle is half won.

Organic bamboo sheets and silk comforters are the perfect way to turn your children’s bed from a night-time prison into a cozy haven that they want to spend all their time in. Organic bamboo sheets are even softer than cotton and as smooth as silk without the slipperiness.

Organic bamboo sheets and silk comforters are also extraordinarily breathable, which means your children will be comfortable all night long since they won’t ever wake up from overheating. Having your children stay asleep all night long is a parent’s dream because your children will actually get a good night’s sleep and you won’t be woken up in the middle of the night.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Establishing a bedtime routine is the next step in making bedtime easier. Having your children get that last drink of water, brush their teeth, and go to the bathroom as part of your bedtime routine will help eliminate many of the causes of your kids getting up after they have been put to bed.

In addition, bedtime is also a great time to bond with your children and. Incorporate reading a book or singing a song into your bedtime routine so your children will get your undivided attention, reassuring them of how much you love them before they fall asleep each night.

While establishing a bedtime routine is difficult at first, stick to it until it becomes a habit. Both you and your children will be happier in the long run when everyone knows what to expect at bedtime.

Reward Yourself

After your children are tucked in for the night, you can finally get the rest that you deserve. Make your own bedroom an inviting place with king size bamboo sheets and a silk comforter. This soft, smooth bedding will help you to relax after a long day with the kids. Organic bamboo sheets and a silk comforter you will also pamper you into a deep sleep so you are well rested and able to take on tomorrow’s challenges head-on.

To find the perfect organic bamboo sheets and silk comforters for you and your children, visit Cozy Earth today! Cozy Earth has everything you need to turn any bed into a cozy haven that everyone will love to jump into for a great night’s sleep.

Meggie Haneckow is a niche writer and blogger who loves to write on trending topics and share her personal experiences and knowledge through her writing. She is also a health enthusiast, so she loves to share health-care related tips through her blogs.


When you hold your child in your arms for the first time, you feel an overwhelming sense of love. You want to give them every opportunity in the world and help them anyway you can. While you can’t give them everything, there are a few simple ways you can help your child. For example, if you could reduce your child’s allergies and give them a better night’s sleep, wouldn’t you? Well, you can with organic bamboo bedding.

little girl sleeping

Reduce Allergies

Many small children and infants suffer from allergies. It’s difficult to watch your child struggle with allergies because they’re so little and don’t understand why they’re miserable. However, you can reduce your infant or child’s allergies by switching to 100 percent bamboo sheets.

Bamboo sheets reduce allergies because they are hypoallergenic and reduce the number of dust mites living in your bed. While it’s unpleasant to think about, traditional bedding attracts dust mites, one of the primary causes of allergies, because it traps moisture and creates the ideal environment for dust mites. However, organic bamboo bedding reduces moisture and humidity in your child’s bed by 50 percent, which discourages dust mites from making your child’s bed their home.

When your children aren’t struggling with allergies and dust mites, they are healthier and happier.

Sleep Better

Your children will also sleep better with organic bamboo bedding. As mentioned above, 100 percent bamboo sheets reduce allergies. When your children aren’t sneezing and coughing all night long, they can fall into a more peaceful, deeper sleep and wake up fully recharged the next morning.

In addition, bamboo bedding keeps your children warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Since 100 percent bamboo sheets reduce moisture and are extraordinarily breathable, there isn’t any humidity in your child’s bed to make freezing winter nights colder or scorching summer evenings hotter. Better temperature regulation lets your child sleep soundly without shivering from the cold or tossing and turning due to the heat.


Of course you want to reduce your child’s allergies and help them sleep better. Yet, you might hesitate before buying organic bamboo sheets. Kids tend to be pretty rough on everything, so why would you buy pricey bamboo sheets for your children?

Bamboo bedding is much more durable than cotton, which means it’s better able to withstand harsh treatment from your kids. Traditional cotton sheets are probably only able to last for a couple of years before being replaced, while bamboo sheets could easily last a lifetime. You can reuse your bamboo sheets with each child and never have to buy sheets again.

Bamboo sheets are also extremely easy to wash; just throw them in with the rest of your laundry and you’re good to go.

Now that you’re assured that your child’s bamboo sheets will last, what are you waiting for? Relieve your child’s allergies and help them to sleep soundly tonight with organic bamboo bedding!

Meggie Haneckow is a niche writer and blogger who loves to write on trending topics and share her personal experiences and knowledge through her writing. She is also a health enthusiast, so she loves to share health-care related tips through her blogs.


kid-friendly herbs

The enchanting aromas, interesting flavors and vivid colors of herbs delight children and inspire a love of the natural world. Sharing the tradition of herbalism with children connects that love of nature to daily activities such as eating, playing and self-care. Many of the most nourishing, gently healing herbs have a special affinity for children and can help to sweetly soothe childhood woes. The ten herbs discussed below are some of the most beloved children’s herbs and are wonderful for introducing any child to herbalism. Encourage your child to smell, taste and play with each new herb they meet. Enjoy meeting these plants together with your child!

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Happy lemon balm is deliciously fragrant and tasty. A member of the prolific and useful mint family, it is full of wonderful aromatic oils that delight children, eliciting happy sighs when inhaled. Simply take a stalk of the fresh plant and run your hands over it to release its beautiful lemony scent. Lemon balm is a well-known, gentle nervine. It is perfect for helping to soothe grouchy kids who are stimulated and high-strung from being overtired. Lemon balm is also a safe antiviral that can be wonderful for aiding children with a viral illness by helping to combat the virus while easing aches and pains.

Use lemon balm to make delicious teas, lemonades, syrups, and popsicles. You can add the fresh leaves to fruit salads, smoothies, cookies, and other tasty baked goods such as these scones.

chamomile flowers

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

We have all heard the story of Peter Rabbit and his terrifying adventure in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Poor little Peter was so distressed and tuckered out upon arriving home that his mother wisely put him straight to bed with a cup of chamomile tea. Indeed, this classic children’s herb is perfect for helping to relax the nerves and induce sleep. Chamomile can also be wonderful for easing digestive problems, especially those associated with emotional issues resulting in nervous tummy upset. Topically, chamomile’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities can be put to good use for helping to heal and soothe the skin.

Use chamomile in salves, baths, and compresses for irritated, injured skin. Most children adore the taste and smell of chamomile. The lovely little flowers make the perfect bedtime tea! Or add the tea to your child’s bath to help soothe skin and help send them right off to dreamland.

Rose (Rosa species)

The beautiful rose is not only wonderful to behold and smell, roses are also a beloved herbal remedy! Children simply delight in roses. They love to touch and smell the soft, silky flower petals, and they love tasting fragrant rose tea while learning all about this amazing plant. Roses are another nervine from the plant world. They help to open and comfort a sad heart while easing anxiety and depression. This may be helpful for children going through tough transitions in life or for sensitive souls who just need a little extra care and love to feel comfortable. Roses can also help to ease chest infections and cool a headache. The tangy hips are high in vitamin C and can thus be used to support a healthy immune system.

Delicious teas can be made from rose petals and hips. Use the fresh flower petals and rose water to make luscious desserts (like this Lemon-Rose Parfait). You can also add the fresh flower petals to salads, whipped cream, and baked goods. You can make a tasty jam with the hips by soaking them in apple juice overnight to soften. Dried baby rose buds are a wonderful craft item for children. Use them as playdoh decorations for very small kids or craft with them to make pretty jewelry with older children.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

Delicious spearmint is a favorite herb for children. The flavor is not as intense as peppermint as peppermint has less of that spicy coolness that can be overwhelming for kids. It is wonderful for easing tummy upset. Spearmint is also antimicrobial and makes a mild tea for helping children during illness such as colds and flus. Like all mints, spearmint is very easy to grow and is a delight in a child’s garden.

Spearmint leaves can be munched for a tasty snack. Pluck the stems to make impromptu wands for play. Add the leaves to salads, pancakes, muffins and more for a little minty boost in your food. Fresh spearmint leaves added to chocolate chip cookies is especially delicious. The leaves also make a refreshing tea for drinking and freezing into popsicles.

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Those fluffy marshmallows we all know today originally came from an old time herbal remedy made from the marshmallow plant! Marshmallow root used to be blended with sweet things—like honey—to make a tasty remedy for soothing scratchy throats and irritated tummies. The roots are mucilaginous and can help to create an extremely soothing and protective layer over irritated mucus membranes of the upper respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems.

Add the root to homemade teas and syrups when your child is dealing with dry, scratchy conditions. You can also make your own version of ‘real’ marshmallows by adding the powdered root to marshmallow recipes. Use the pretty edible flower petals to decorate foods!

Lavender (Lavandula species)

Beloved lavender is indeed a lovely herb for children. Just as with adults, children often find the aroma of lavender to be soothing and helpful for calming anxieties. Lavender is also helpful as a first aid plant. It’s antiseptic and skin-healing properties make it a great addition to any first aid kit and wound salve.

Help to soothe skin and nerves by adding the pretty purple flowers or a couple drops of essential oil to your child’s bedtime baths. My children and I love to add lavender to our playdoh, homemade paints, and aromatherapy sprays for plenty of relaxing fun!


Violets, Pansies & Heartsease (Viola species)

These sweet little flowering plants delight us each spring and are wonderful herbs for kids. Violets and pansies can be used interchangeably with slight differences, though most often the sweet fragrant violet (Viola odorata) is the sought-after species. Used to cool and soothe inflammation, fevers, and headaches, violet can be a wonderful, gentle herbal ally for children during illness such as a cold or flu. It is also high in nourishing vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin C.

Be sure to grow violet in your garden, because the fresh flowers are fun to munch on! Use the flowers as an edible garnish to make your food especially beautiful. Infuse violet leaves and petals to make delicious beverages like this refreshing lemonade.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum)

Tiny anise seeds have a delicious and mild licorice flavor that most children adore. Anise’s anti-spasmodic properties make it a useful addition to formulas when helping children with spasmodic coughing or griping pains in the stomach.

Use the seeds to make a tasty tea and add them to other herbal tea blends to improve their flavor and increase palatability. The seeds, along with organic orange zest, make a delicious addition to sugar cookies.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum species)

Sweetly spiced cinnamon is an herb most children will recognize from their very own kitchen. You might be surprised to find that cinnamon has beneficial herbal properties. Cinnamon is warming and may take the chill out of a cold day or provide comforting warmth for kids with chills during illness. It is also helpful for easing tummy upset with uncomfortable cramping, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Cinnamon makes an appealing addition to herbal teas, syrups, and formulas by improving the flavor of other less tasty herbs. Throw a couple of cinnamon sticks in a cup of hot water for any easy-to-make tea. Add the delicious, warming powder to all manner of foods -  cookies, cakes, whipped cream, or butter and even some savory sauces and stews. Children love playing with the smooth, fragrant sticks which make a great crafty building material or an interesting playdoh toy. Add powdered cinnamon to warm playdoh for a lovely aromatic experience.


Elder (Sambucus nigra)

A favorite of many children is the little elderberry. Well-reputed as an herbal remedy for influenza, elderberry is an effective antiviral and indeed a powerful herbal ally for families. The berries can be made into a delicious tea or syrup (try this Quick and Simple Elderberry Syrup Recipe) that can help to ease cold and flu symptoms while hasten healing. The flowers are also part of a classic flu remedy which combines elderflowers, peppermint, and yarrow to make a diaphoretic tea that can help to stimulate circulation and a healing sweat at the first sign of flu. The flowers may also be useful for hayfever and colds with copious runny mucus.

Children love elderberry tea and helping to squish the berries when making syrup. Use the tea to make tasty popsicles!

Inspire Your Kids to Learn About Herbs!

If you are interested in introducing your child to the magical world of herbs, please enjoy the free series from the Herbal Academy of New England. The kids’ series is written for children to read, learn and follow along with as they begin to play with plants. Each lesson is filled with fun craft ideas, recipes, printable activity sheets and notes for parents to aid in your child’s learning experience.

There are eight lessons to enjoy, which include:

• Meet My Friend Herb! Part One & Part Two
Keep It Simple
A Kid’s Herbal Pharmacy
Start Your Herb Garden
Adventures In The Herb Garden
Herbs Are Tasty

Angela Justis is the Family Educational Director at the Herbal Academy of New England, the home of the Online Introductory Herbal Course and Online Intermediate Herbal Course, and meeting place for Boston area herbalists. Follow the Academy on Facebook and Instagram! Photos provided and copyrighted by Herbal Academy of New England.


Today children begin learning with smartphones as early as 2 years old. In fact, 36 percent of children ages 2 to 10 spend their time on smartphones using educational media. The parents of those children report that their child has better cognitive, vocabulary and math skills as a result of using a smartphone at least once a week for educational purposes. With so many ways to play and learn, it's no wonder children ages 12 to 15 say they would choose their cell phone over television two to one.

Most children get their first smartphone at about 11 years old. Prior to owning their own phone, most children share ownership with their parents. Using internet-capable devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6 through a reliable carrier, kids can use family-friendly apps yet not have access to content that isn't age-appropriate. 

Smartphones are also a great way to teach children social skills through social media, blogging and messaging. These apps can lead to important conversations on the dangers of cyberspace and how to handle certain situations to stay safe.  

When children have access to smartphones early in life, they learn to use them correctly. This opens the door for learning at a young age with the help of parental support and educational apps. Read on to learn more about how smartphones are affecting children's learning and social skills. 

Smartphones Children Infographic 

Miles YoungMiles Young is a freelance writer, designer and outdoorsman. He’s worked as a roof contractor and part-time engine mechanic. He spends his free time fishing and tinkering in his garage. You can follow him on Twitter @MrMilesYoung.


home birth
Photo via Flickr

Many people think that having a home birth is a huge burden on your household. I’ve heard all kinds of silly reasons why people don’t want to have a home birth. “What about the mess?” or “I like being waited on at the hospital!” While I can understand why people, who are more than likely uninformed, might have some of these concerns, but these easily resolved issues certainly shouldn’t be someone’s main reason for forgoing a home birth.

Home Birth Space
Photo via Flickr

Prepare Your Space

It’s likely that your midwife will have you order a birth kit (or provide you with one) but it’s a great idea to go one step further and stock up on some essentials. I recommend extra towels, a couple dozen chucks pads, a few cheap shower curtain liners (used to protect the carpet and bed), and plenty of hydrogen peroxide (use it on all of your dirty laundry after the birth).

If there are things that you can do ahead of time, you should definitely take advantage of the calm before the storm. Go ahead and set up the birth tub, move any furniture out of the way and create a calm and peaceful space to labor in. Take into consideration where you feel the safest in your home. Often times, birthing moms prefer the tiniest room in the house so be prepared to change your mind and your location during the birthing process.

Birthing Team
Photo via Flickr

Choose Your Birth Team Wisely

When planning a home birth, your birth attendants might simply include your partner and your midwife but if you are feeling like you need extra help, even if it’s just with simple things like keeping the freezer stocked with ice cubes, then ask a friend or family member who you feel 100% comfortable around and whom you can trust to be an extra pair of hands when needed.

An essential member of the birthing team is someone who can watch older children, if you have them. Whether you choose to have them at home during the birth or not, it’s always a good idea to have a designated helper to explain things to them or help with their basic needs so your partner can remain at your side throughout your labor and birth.

Post-Birth: Enlist Help

Just like with a birth that takes places outside of the home, you should call in reinforcements to help out around the house after the baby is born. Have a friend set up a meal train, accept offers to help with housework or running errands, set up play dates (not at your house!) for any older children, and just focus on getting to know your new addition.

Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize and nurtures her HGTV obsession. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Decor and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker, Scary Mommy, and on her personal blog, Her Own Wings.


It’s amazing how a 2-year old can be handed a gadget and just know how to use it, similar to how a kid knows how to use a feeding bottle. Action figures, puzzles and blocks are no longer the standard toys among today’s children. Research by child-education specialists at the Michael Cohen Group revealed that touch screens have taken over all other forms of playful delight for kids. Sixty percent of parents with kids under the age of 12 reported that their child plays on a portable screen often, while 38 percent apparently play very often. It’s interesting to note that 36 percent of these kids have their own device.

On the average, research by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that children are spending seven and a half hours staring at a screen. Compare these results to a global survey of preschool-aged kids by the Nature Conservancy, which showed that preschoolers around the world spend an hour and a half a day (12 hours a week) on a playground or outdoors. It should be no surprise, then, that when a kid turns seven, traditional play is over.

The advantages of traditional play range from physical to mental and emotional. In addition, the disadvantages are equally enormous, and the effects stay with the child as he or she reaches adulthood. So before handing your kid a gadget just to shut him up, learn about the long-term effects modern gadgets can have on a kid’s brain as well as their overall development.

Kids And Gadgets 

Not Good For the Brain

Even before kids can utter their first words, kids’ brains are tripling in size—a lot of learning happens before the age of five. Researchers at the University of Washington reveal that modern gadgets are not necessary in child development—children can thrive on being talked to and read to. In fact, kids need one-on-one time with their parents, not gadgets. Additionally, overexposure to gadgets has been linked to attention deficit, cognitive delays and impaired learning.

Language Delay for Toddlers

There is no such thing as educational TV for kids under 2 years old, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). There are presumptions that screen time can be educational, but the AAP says that toddlers under the age of two do not have the cognitive ability to comprehend such programs. What it actually does is interfere with “talk time” between the parent and the child, which results in delayed language skills. Parents should be reminded of this because, aside from TV, a survey commissioned by Common Sense Media revealed that 38 percent of kids under 2 years old have used gadgets such as a smartphone or tablet even before they could talk or walk.

Less Active Play Equals Delayed Development

Kids under the age of 12 spend more time in front of a screen rather than playing outdoors. This restriction in movement results in delayed development. John Ratey, a doctor at Harvard, explained in his book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, that the advantages of playing are not limited to being physically fit and socially comfortable. Even 10 minutes of physical activity changes the way the brain functions. In addition, exercise normally makes people feel better because it “builds and conditions the brain.”

Not Good for Bedtime

The late-night glow of laptops and mobile phones are depriving children a good night sleep. Research at the Kaiser Foundation found that 60 percent of parents don’t supervise their children’s gadget usage, and 75 percent of kids are allowed to use technology in their bedrooms. This results in 75 percent of sleep-deprived children, between the ages of 9 and 10, according to researchers from Boston College.

Not Good for School

Being sleep-deprived doesn’t only affect child development but also their performance in school. Researchers from Boston College found that students from developing countries in Asia scored better in math, science and reading than students from the U.S. and other big world economies whose children are overexposed to technology.

Terrible Child Aggression

A study by the National Institutes of Health found that the increase in use of modern technology can break the old boundaries of family, values, behavior and children’s well-being. Some games available in the internet portray sex, murder, torture and mutilation, which can make kids violent and aggressive. On the other hand, playing outdoors (for example, in a traditional playground) has proven to help children be more sociable and generally calmer.

Kids Suffer Mental Illness

The PEACH project, a study of more than 1,000 children between the ages of 10 and 11, found that children who spend longer than two hours in front of a screen or another entertainment medium are more likely to suffer psychological difficulties. These can include child depression, anxiety, attention deficit and problematic child behavior. On the other hand, children who experience more moderate physical activity fared better in emotional categories and were better able to solve peer problems. This shows that active play makes kids healthier not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.

Gadgets Cause Tantrums

Do you know what an “iPaddy” means? It’s a term coined for kids throwing a tantrum when their electronic devices are taken away from them. A study commissioned by online retailer Pixmania revealed that eight out of 10 parents who have children ages 14 and under said they confiscate gadgets as a form of punishment. Because kids have grown attached to them, kids throw tantrums. If you don’t want to be like these parents, re-assess the extent you allow your kids to regularly use technology before they get too attached to them.

There is no stopping the wave of technology. Parents cannot tell their kids to live without them because they will surely need it as they grow older. However, a parent must be aware of the advantages and disadvantages behind them. When supervised and regulated, gadgets can aid in development at the right age, but too much use of technology (and too early) will only delay a child’s learning abilities and put a strain on his psychological health.

Aby League HeadshotAby League is a medical practitioner and an Elite Daily writer. She also writes about business and other topics of great interest. She also writes a blog, About Possibilities. Follow her @abyleague and circle her on Google+.  

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