Category Archives: Guest Blog

Guest Blog: Things to Remember When Baby-proofing Your Home

5 Things to Remember When Baby-proofing Your Home

By: Justin Havre

Babies start crawling between the ages of about 6-10 months. Once your baby is mobile, they will have access to a variety of objects that can cause harm. Baby-proofing the house is the best way to protect your child from household items and surfaces that can cause serious injury.

Stay One Step Ahead of Baby

Babies grow so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. First they roll, then they crawl, finally they start pulling themselves up on the furniture. You may not be with your baby when all of these milestones occur, so you’ll want to be sure your home is ready even before your baby becomes mobile.

Babyproof your house before your baby is able to move on their own. This ensures that your house will be ready when your baby can move independently, and it will also put you in the mindset of baby safety well in advance. By the time that your baby is able to crawl and walk, you’ll be fully ready.

Lay on the Floor for Some Perspective

Babies grab what they can and put everything in their mouths. Pennies, buttons, paper clips and other small objects are all dangerous for babies, and often these items can be found on the floor, under furniture and in corners.

To keep these things out of your child’s arm reach, try lying on the floor and looking at the world from your baby’s perspective. Lay in the places where your baby spends the most time and look at the world as your baby sees it. This is especially important when you’ve just bought a new place with the baby in mind and may not have as deep of an understanding of the nooks and crannies as you would in a home you’ve lived in for years. What do you see under the furniture? What’s in the corners? What can your baby grab from the floor?

It’s Not Just About What Your Baby Can Fit in His Mouth

Babyproofing involves protecting your baby from all dangers in the house, not just the chemicals under the sink. Knowing the full extent of the danger in your house can help you protect your baby more fully. Below are some of the other dangers that babies face in normal households:

  • Sharp corners. Babies can be seriously injured by hitting their head on the corner of the coffee table and on other sharp, low corners in the house. Covering sharp corners with padding can help prevent accidents.
  • Buttons and on/off switches. Toddlers like to turn knobs, turn on and off appliances and so on. For example, when your baby is old enough to reach the knobs on the oven, this could lead to a serious safety hazard. Covering the knobs that turn on accessible appliances is a good way to prevent this from happening.
  • Hot water. Hot water scalds babies every year. To protect your baby from a serious or potentially fatal injury, keep your water heater turned to 120 degrees or lower, and consider installing a safety device on the bathtub knobs that will prevent your child from ever turning on the water.

Don’t Forget the Fireplace

Some parents assume that their children are safe from the fireplace if they close the glass doors, but children who touch the glass can suffer serious burns. The best way to protect your baby from a fireplace is install a baby gate that prevents the baby from accessing the hearth, or to avoid using the fireplace altogether. Parents who do use the fireplace must remember to keep matches, lighters and other accessories away from their children.

Babyproof at the Relative’s House

If your baby spends a lot of time with grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other relatives and friends, these homes must also be baby-proofed. This can be a less burdensome process if your child stays mainly in only one or two rooms of the house when they visit. Work with your relatives and loved ones to develop a baby-proofing plan to make the home safe when baby comes over!

Best Movies for Families [from mostly] 2016

Guest Blog
with Movie Maniac Moe from The Calgary Public Library

It’s always easy to find great movies for the 14+ crowd, being that most flicks are aimed at this demographic. On tap for 2016 were many returning franchises for the older kids (and kids at heart), like ‘Avengers: Civil War’, ‘Star Trek Beyond’, ‘Batman versus Superman’, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, and ‘Ghostbusters’.

It is a little harder, though, to find something that you can watch with the whole family. Something without nudity, violence, gore, profanity, images of alcohol, drugs, smoking, or frightening and intense scenes, yet still has something to offer up that appeals across a variety of ages… especially if you have managed to talk an older child into sitting with their parents and younger sibling and promised them “you’ll like it”.

Parents know how often a child will watch something they like — we’re talking dozens, maybe even hundreds of times. I know I am guilty of it myself… some of my fave films I have seen upwards of 40 times! Just like grown-up movies, not all children’s movies are created equal, and poorly made children’s movies can be mind-numbing for adults. But we like what we like and children do even more so.

So have a look at these ten suggestions. They will stand up to multiple viewings — visually stunning, creative, funny, and highly watchable… for the WHOLE family.

zootopia_xlgZootopia

The entire city of Zootopia is populated by animals living, thriving, and holding down regular day jobs. From tiny shrews to the largest elephant, everybody has a place in this society. For any human who has ever gone to a registry office, you will find the scene with the sloth particularly funny. Rated PG for some very mild rude humour.

 

 

 

BFGproduct_thebfg_digitalhd_eb135fc0

For the legions of Roald Dahl fans, the Big Friendly Giant is brought to screen in a manner befitting this beloved story. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the novel by the well loved author, you are in for a real treat. Rated PG for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor, but this should be good for 6 years old and up. Directed by master movie maker, Steven Spielberg.

 

 

fqNhnLkg-7U.movieposter_maxresFinding Dory

The sequel to the very popular Finding Nemo, this Pixar release features the return of the friendly-but-forgetful Blue Tang, Dory. This time the search is for her long-lost parents. Along the way everybody learns something new about the real meaning of family. Rated PG for some mild thematic elements. The young kids will love this one.

 

 

 

The Jungle Bookjungle_book

Everyone is likely familiar with little Mowgli, the boy-child raised in the jungle by a pack of wolves. This Rudyard Kipling story has been adapted to film many many times in the past seventy plus years. This version features only one live person, and the little boy is wonderful. The CGI (computer generated images) are so seamless, many times you are certain you are looking at real animals. Lots of A-list stars are doing the voices and parents can have extra fun trying to guess who’s who. Rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril, but it should be suitable for six and up (with parental guidance). You will love the elephants!

Untitled-1If you can track down the live-action adaptation from 1994 (a little hard to find these days), that was the standard for my young girls

As I mentioned above, the story is of such enduringappeal that it is always being remade. So even though one was just released in 2016, a new version has just wound up production and is due for release in 2018. It stars everybody’s favorite Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch, and will no doubt be a hit.

 

 

news-021516b-lgA Beautiful Planet

This film explores the Earth as seen from the International Space Station. Astronauts film what they see as they orbit the planet, and the images are stunning. In the night scenes you can actually see major cities around the world, plus different storms taking place on Earth. From Disney, this is only 45 minutes long, and can be viewed by 5 and up.

 

 

 

Kung Fu Panda 3Kung-Fu-Panda-3-Movie-Poster

In the third installment, Po continues his ‘legendary adventures of awesomeness’, and must fight super villain Kai. To fight him he must try to train his well-intentioned but clumsy fellow pandas. Rated PG for martial arts action and some mild rude humour.

 

 

 

Kukubo_and_the_two_strings_ver13_xxlgbo and the Two Strings

Kubo, a young boy in a fantastical alternative Japan, is kind, clever, and an amazing storyteller. As with other flicks from this movie house, this gorgeously animated offering from Laika Studios tends to be a little darker than the light-hearted, brightly-coloured movies from other creators, but with some parental guidance, this one is genuinely wonderful for 8+, or younger at personal discretion.

 

 

moana_ver5 Moana

Not content with infecting a large portion of the adult population with his catchy earworms in hit musical ‘Hamilton’, Lin-Manuel Miranda turns his skills to the younger generation in the delightful ‘Moana’. There’s at least three songs in this one that neither you nor your little ones will get out of your heads. You’re welcome.

 

 

 

song-of-the-sea-posterSong of the Sea

If the songs of the sea form Moana weren’t enough for your heart, and you missed this hit from a couple of years ago (2014), you’ll definitely want to check it out now. There are a lot of titles on this list from heavy-hitters Disney and Dreamworks, so we always like featuring some of the other studios. We can’t wait for the next from Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon!

 

 

Don’t Be Scared By The Name: What Music Therapy Can Do For Your Typically-Developing Child

Guest Blog by:

Hilary MacAulay, BMT, MT-BC, MTA

MasterworX Music Therapy

We all get a little nervous around the word ‘therapy’. Misconceptions about the type of people who require therapy, and the perceived social ramifications associated with the term make us hesitant to get involved in any program with that word in the title. But according to Webster’s Dictionary, something therapeutic is simply defined as ‘producing good effects on the body and mind’. This is the way I like to define music therapy. I like to think of it as using music to produce good effects on the body and mind, with a particular emphasis on the specific needs of the person or people involved. It sounds much less scary now, does it not?

Group Of Children Playing In School Orchestra Together

Music therapists are accredited through the Canadian Association for Music Therapy, and use a variety of music and musical interventions, such as songwriting, listening, or drumming, to work on their client’s individual goals. They work in a wide variety of healthcare, educational, and community programs, as well as in the client’s own home. But you would probably be surprised at how often you will come across music therapists in early childhood settings. We run the music program at the local daycares, and classes with the preschool down the road. We host mom-and-baby classes, or teach instrument lessons. We may even be the performer at a holiday party.

Usually when we speak of music therapy and early childhood, we are talking about kids with special needs. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of using music therapy with children with autism to work on communication and social skills 1, those with physical disabilities to work on strength or range of motion 2, and in special education settings 3. But the benefit of goal-oriented music reaches beyond just special needs.

Many of the skills that need to be acquired in early childhood, such as literacy, physical coordination, social, and mathematical skills, can be worked on using music. Songs lyrics that use wordplay can help to work on early literacy skills, while songs that use counting and numbers can help to improve early mathematical skills. Playing and sharing instruments is a great way to practice social skills and self-expression, as well as encourage curiosity and experimentation. But it gets better, because none of this work actually feels like work. Music groups or individual sessions look and feel just like playing, and children often do not even realize that they are learning to wait their turn and count higher than ever while they are singing, dancing, and jamming.

Group Of Elementary Age Schoolchildren In Music Class With Instruments
Music therapy can also be beneficial when times get tough for your child. Events such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, or a parents losing their job can be hard on young children, who may not have developed the words they need to express what they are feeling. A music therapist can help the child to express those difficult emotions through playing instruments, movement, or a number of other expressive forms to help alleviate the stress that the child is experiencing. The music therapist can also help the child to develop some personal coping skills, to be used when those feelings appear again in the future.

These sessions do not just benefit your children either! Singing, dancing, and creating music with your child can strengthen your bond. Studies have shown that singing with another person actually releases oxytocin (you may have heard it referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone’ or the ‘love hormone’) in your brain, making you feel more connected with your little one 4. It may also help you feel less stressed and more energized, ready to tackle whatever else is headed your way for that day. And who knows! You might even find that you become a better singer, drummer, or car-dancer in the process!

There are numerous early childhood music programs out there, and they are all fantastic in their own way. What makes music therapy different is that the entire program is designed to best suit your child, family, or group. You can decide what your child or group needs, and the music therapist will work with you to ensure you are getting what you want. It can supplement other music programs or lessons your child participates in, help to practice physical skills such as balance and hand-eye coordination, provide the opportunity to practice social skills in a fun, engaging environment, or address any other goals or interests you may have.



 

MasterworX Music Therapy
If you would like more information on music therapy, check out the links below, or contact Hilary at MasterworX Music Therapy by email at masterworxmt@gmail.com or by phone at 403-999-1497.

Canadian Association for Music Therapy: http://www.musictherapy.ca/en/

Music Therapy Association for Alberta: http://www.mtaa.ca

American Music Therapy Association: http://www.musictherapy.org



 

1 Alvin, J. (1978). Musical and Autistic Behaviour. In Music therapy for the autistic child (2nd ed., p. 12). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2 Davis, W., & Gfeller, K. (1999). Music Therapy for Children and Adults with Physical Disabilities. In An introduction to music therapy: Theory and practice (2nd ed., pp. 154-155). Boston, Mass:

3 Davis, W., & Gfeller, K. (1999). Music Therapy for Children and Adults with Physical Disabilities. In An introduction to music therapy: Theory and practice (2nd ed., pp. 413-416). Boston, Mass:

4 Grape, C., Sandgren, M., Hansson, L., Ericson, M., & Theorell, T. (2003). Does singing promote well-being?: An empirical study of professional and amateur singers during a singing lesson. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science, 65-74. Retrieved December 30, 2015.

My bedroom, myself

Mommy Blogger Kat from motherfunctions.wordpress.com, shares her tips for making sacred spaces for ourselves and our children — especially important during these often crazy holiday months!


 

dd91df9b-fd4f-49e9-81d5-064300748220
There is something to be said for the sanctity of a bedroom. As adults, when the day is long and hectic, we seek our beds as sanctuary from the onslaught of the day. It is our space to put our feet up without people walking into the scene with loud voices, deadlines, and demands.

So here are a few pieces of advice to help kids love their bedrooms:

  1. Make the Bed

First thing in the morning, have your kid make their bed. Don’t make the bed for them. Don’t supervise the task. Don’t even help (unless asked), Of course, their best efforts to do it won’t be hotel-quality, but it is a task that involves patience, focus and a bit of strength to lug all the blankets and pillows into a rough proximity of where they should be.

At the end of the day, when it is time to settle down to bed, that is the time to reward the job. “Did you make this bed? It looks great! You did a great job!” Suddenly the bed becomes a point of pride and comfort. Make a big deal out of how comfortable they made their bed and how much their stuffed animals love the work they did.

This holds true for ourselves as well. When we put time into making our beds, or cleaning our rooms, we appreciate the work we put in earlier to make our experience in this moment even better.

  1. Toy Free

When we go to our bedrooms as adults, we are acknowledging that we need to go somewhere quiet and stimulation-free where we can process our day and put our hectic world aside to focus on ourselves. We may not necessarily fall asleep, but we have a place that is wholly ours, separate from any other communal space in the home.

The same holds true for children. A toy-free room establishes a quiet area that is just for your child to focus on sleep and relaxation. When their bedroom is loaded with toys, there is no boundary between this room and any other room in the house. When the bedroom is filled with quiet books and their most loved possessions, they get the satisfaction of knowing their room is a place of solace and introspection, free of distraction.

A toy-free room also adds to the next point:

  1. Friend Free

By removing toys from the bedroom we eliminate the desire for our children to bring friends up to their bedrooms.

This is a tough rule. Why wouldn’t we want our kids to have their friends playing in their rooms when we have just established that their room should be a place they love?

Our bedrooms often house our most loved items. That ceramic unicorn you got on your 5th birthday may not fit in well with your adult décor, but it has a place in your heart, and in your bedroom where no one will break it or judge you for loving it so much.

Kids deserve the same space. By keeping friends out of the bedroom, we set up a space where a child can house the special items that they don’t have to share. So often our kids are bombarded with the need to share that we forget that not all items should be shared. That very special teddy bear and baby blanket do not need to be handled by a friend that doesn’t understand the special nature of the precious item. That is your child’s possession and we know how their heart would break if anything happened to it; friends in the bedroom adds a risk that that item won’t make it to maturity alongside your child.

  1. No Timeouts

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean no timeouts at all. Quiet time can be a very effective strategy, but the bedroom should not be a place where your child is sent when they are acting up. Or, not angrily at least, with the feeling that they are being punished.

A timeout in the bedroom establishes a negative association with that room. The bedroom isn’t really supposed to be a place where you go to when you’re scared, crying and worked up. The bedroom is a place that you would choose to be when you want some close distance from a situation.

For some kids, bedtime is a difficult time because they feel isolated and alone, and a timeout in a bedroom just drives the point home that your bedroom is for removing you from everyone else.

A different approach is to provide a close-proximity timeout spot where your child can do their time near you. After a number of timeouts throughout the day and no change in their attitude, it can help to calmly remove the child from the noise and chaos to their bedroom with you. A calm talk on the bed about their behavior, a cuddle, bonding time and a story reinforces that the bedroom is a soothing place and that it is okay to walk away when the stress and excitement of the day can’t be handled.

The upside to a toy-free room means that your child won’t be distracted during their quiet time and also any siblings that have to be lumped into the process won’t cause an issue when they’re playing with toys while you’re trying to give the other child a quiet time.

  1. Sibling Separation

Sometimes it is hard as a parent with more than one child because there are issues when your older child is trying to play and a younger one comes along trying to snatch the toy they’re playing with. That tends to be the point where we find older kids get frustrated because they understand polite rules of play while their sibling isn’t at that stage yet. The older kid can’t reason with the little one, and they know better than to lash out against them. Often that frustration turns into the oldest kid not knowing how to let that stress out and feeling like they have no place to go.

That is when a bedroom that is a positive space comes in handy. It becomes far easier to suggest to the oldest kid that they might want to take those toys they were playing with and go play with them in their bedroom, by themselves, when they view their bedroom as a nice place to be, rather than a punishment when they obviously haven’t done anything wrong.

Now, this clearly seems like it flies in the face of point #2 where toys have been banned from bedrooms. However, the occasional need to retire to a bedroom with a toy or two is a wildly different experience than having a bedroom filled with toys at all times.

Again, we establish that the oldest child has a place solely for them to relax in while also fostering independence and rewarding good behavior. We are also recognizing their need to be viewed as a separate entity from their little sibling.

The youngest sibling also learns that their sibling has the ability to walk away and can help to establish proper rules of play, a model they can then follow themselves.

Another added bonus is that a separate space for the oldest child can help ease any animosity they might feel towards a younger sibling because they are able to walk away at any time instead of having to put up with whatever the young one decides to put them through.


Don’t forget to follow some of these tips yourself — reclaiming some close distance and retiring to your own sacred space is a great way to recharge your battery and maintain a healthy level of self-care! Don’t be afraid to reinforce the idea of me-time with your children — everyone needs it, and it is important to make it!

Pregnancy and Alcohol Don’t Mix

Pregnancy and Alcohol don’t Mix

Guest Blog Submitted by The Calgary Fetal Alcohol Network

Alcohol and pregnancy – it’s a bit of a touchy subject, conversations about which can be filled with misinformation and maybe a hint of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality. With all kinds of conflicting information just a mouse-click away, it may not be a surprise that more than 10 per cent of women surveyed by the Public Health Agency of Canada reported using alcohol during their last pregnancy and that a growing number of women believe it’s okay to consume moderate amounts of alcohol while pregnant.

Yet, international medical consensus remains unchanged: No alcohol is safest during pregnancy. There simply are no low-risk thresholds for alcohol intake by expectant mothers.

A number of risks are associated with drinking during pregnancy, the best-known of which is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) which refers to a range of brain injuries resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol, including developmental, physical, learning and behavioural disabilities.

The most common developmental disability in North America, FASD affects at least nine out of every 1,000 babies born in Canada. Symptoms are life-long and can include learning and memory difficulties, speech and language problems, impulsive behaviour, social difficulties, sensory difficulties and, in some cases, physical problems.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
FASD is 100% preventable through abstinence from alcohol, but it’s not always that straightforward. Prenatal alcohol exposure happens for a variety of reasons, including unplanned pregnancy (up to 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned) lack of information, mental health concerns and addiction.

In all cases, knowledge, education and healthy support systems are key to successful prevention efforts. Caring partners, friends and trusted service providers, like doctors or even hair dressers, are perfectly situated to support the women in their lives to have the healthiest pregnancies possible.

Here are some ways that partners/friends can support an expectant mom:

  • Talk openly about how to achieve a healthy pregnancy, including abstinence from alcohol
  • Show solidarity by reducing or eliminating your own alcohol intake during her pregnancy
  • Take the initiative to plan social events and activities that don’t involve alcohol. So much of our social lives involve alcohol, and moms-to-be can easily feel left out from the fun.
  • Know where to find help if your partner/friend is struggling with giving up alcohol or making other important lifestyle changes during her pregnancy.

 

CFAN-Logo-300x277

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Need more information on alcohol and pregnancy, FASD, supports and other resources? The Calgary Fetal Alcohol Network is a non-profit society that engages and mobilizes the community toward a healthy response to the issue of FASD. Visit www.calgaryfetalalcoholnetwork.com to learn more about the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure, FASD, diagnosis, supports for individuals, families, professionals and more.