Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Safe Are Your Child's Items?

Child safety used to be a whole lot easier. You made sure the cabinets didn't have anything accessible that could harm your kids, you bought cabinet latches where necessary. You used the proper car seats and along with covering electrical outlets, made sure your kids were properly dressed for the weather. Fast forward to today and there are major concerns about the safety of the toys being sold for kids; in particular are concerns regarding the plastics used in making those toys and it's not just toys you need to be concerned about.

When you buy your kids sunblock in your local grocery story did you ever consider that a possible reaction between the chemicals with the bottle and the chemicals in the plastics, specifically the phthalates, could affect your children's health? Of course not, especially when you have an impatient child miffed enough you even stopped on the way to the pool or beach to buy sunblock in the first place. However, there's riveting scientific studies that point to a large probability.

But what are phthalates? They are a family of chemical compounds, that soften plastic, and even help fragrances linger longer. Bisphenol A makes plastics clear and strong, and is in resins that coat the inside of canned foods. So what's the concern for? There is heavy evidence that suggests these compounds may affect the developing reproductive system in children according to the EPA's Earl Gray who studies Phthalates in animals. Dr. Gray says, "In the rat, we know that in utero the, several of the phthalates disrupt the testes function in the male so that he produces lower levels of hormones."

Finding out the levels that will impact humans is the challenge but the fact a threat may be there is driving many parents away from plastic bottles and sippy cups. One thing parents can do is buy skin care products that are sold in glass or more and more companies are advertising their plastic packaging is "phthalate free". One key to determining if a plastic has phthalates is if it contacts a phthalates. Also the letters "PVC" or the number 3 are all tell-tale signs. The number 7 is used for the chemical Bisphenol, which is also found in canned food.

A sobering study by the Centers for Disease Control found phthalates in the urine of 75% of the people tested. Bisphenol was present in 95% of the study subjects. So, these chemicals aren't rare. As the studies continue for determining the long range health effects in humans, be careful of the plastic you buy and also opt for children's toys that are made with non-toxic materials including the glue that holds them together, when in doubt - read the labels and look for those other markings on plastic if you're not sure. Choosing a brand name you know and trust such as Melissa and Doug Toys for example is also a good move parents can make.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Toy Fair 2008 KidKraft Sneak Peek

We got a look at some of the new KidKraft products during Toy Fair 08 in New York. There area some dynamite new products that you're going to love. Toy Fair is exciting and exhausting at the same time. All the worries about the economy and problems around the world disappear when you're in a giant space with thousands of toys! We stopped by the KidKraft booth and asked a few questions about the new products they are debuting this year.
New Products: Barnyard Learning Dry Erase Peel & Stick Decal
Deluxe Toy Box In Chenille Dots & Beige Micro Fiber

SE: We see a lot of new products in your booth. What can our customers expect this year?
KK: Toy Fair has been a huge success for us at KidKraft. It's our goal to come to every market with a fresh slate of products. This year we're showing new
play kitchens, new dollhouses, new activity tables, and we've introduced a new line of sand toys. Our entire staff felt like it was one of the most refreshing shows in a couple years.
SE: Do you think the issues with China and the economy will cause a slow down in consumer purchasing?
KK: The buzz in the booth was awseome. Customers were placing orders and erased any thoughts of a slow year due to the sluggish economy. You can always judge the industry by the actions of the specialty market. We had one of our most succesfull shows in recent years.

SE: Your kitchens and table sets are always a big hit with our customers. How does KidKraft come up with new ideas?

KK: All the credit goes to our Creative and design teams. They spend long hours not only designing but researching the products they design.

SE: Are you doing anything different this year?

KK: We debuted two brand new product lines, PlayKraft and DollKraft, and both are receiving very positive feedback. PlayKraft is an exciting new line of doll and train set accessories. DollKraft, our other new line, is made up of precious baby dolls and baby doll accessories that young girls are sure to love. We also showed off all of our newest KidKraft toys and room accessories, including animal-themed furniture sets.

SE: How is KidKraft handling the backlash from the lead issues out of China?
KK: Great question, KidKraft has always taken extra measures to ensure our products safety. We actually do quite a lot of business in Europe. The testing standards in Europe are a bit more stringent than the US testing standards, so when this lead issue arose in the US, we felt pretty comfortable with the steps we were taking to esure our products safety. The bottom line here is that unlike a lot of toy manufactures we actually run the factories that our items are produced in. If you walked through our office in Dallas and then went to one of our factories you will see the same type work ethic and the same commitment to the end product. At the end of the day it's all about the children and making sure that we supply them not only with something great to play with, but also something that does not harm them in any way.

SE: When can we offer the new items to our customers?

KK: Most of the new items should be ready to ship by the end of June.

SE: Thank you so much for your time, we can't wait to add these products to SensoryEdge. We think our customers will really love them.

KK: Thanks for being a great customer. See you again next year!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Princess Revolving Bookcase

It is pretty much a guarantee that you have never laid eyes on a bookcase that is quite like this one. The Princess Revolving Bookcase really seems to bring out all of the glamour and whimsy that a little girl can expect from some of her favorite stories. Whomever the little princess is that gets to have this beautiful bookcase in her room is going to feel just like she stepped right out of the pages of her very favorite story book.

Made by Levels of Discovery, it will not take you very long to see just how this Princess Revolving Bookcase can seem as though it was dreamt up in a fairy tale. Complete with a wonderful color scheme, this adorable bookcase is complete with amazing vines along the outside, majestic accents that are fit for a royal family and even two nice little places up on the top where you can place a pair of pictures of your little reading princess!

Having an incredible bookcase such as this will definitely make your little one feel as though picking a book to read is an adventure. With this kind of a feeling, it is only natural that they will become more and more interested in books over time. Add to that the fact that this Princess Revolving Bookcase is a nice conversation starter for anyone who stops by your house and you really have a wonderful purchase that is quite an investment for your household. Birthdays, holidays or even just because are all wonderful reasons to purchase such a gift.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Learning Through Living History

By the time your little one is entering or about to enter school, you will have read and been told a hundred thousand times that children learn and retain knowledge easiest through pretend play. Have you ever thought about how much you can expand on that?

Pretend play doesn't have to be about playing house or coffee shop and learning just colors, numbers and shapes. It is also a valuable way for kids to learn to interact, be considerate of other's ideas and opinions and also develop valuable social skills that are paramount for classroom activities and getting along in a group. These are all skills your child will take throughout his or her life. If your little one can't get along in a group and never learns social skills, he won't fare much better as an adult in an office job and may wonder why he never gets that promotion or special project to work on. It all goes back to the basics we learn as kids and you can give your kids a headstart in life by letting them learn through group play and other social building skills.

Another fun way to learn that develops young imaginations as well as teaches history is to let your child dress up in a costume and learn about figures or historical times past. Dressing up as an colonial and learning about the early Presidents is a great way to both teach your kids how America was founded as well as making history come to life. Let him dress up as General George Washington and act out Crossing the Delaware. There are tons of preschooler and early reader history books at both your local bookstore as well as your library - indulge your child's love of learning and let him really live the part too!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Think Spring!

Today was Valentine's Day and now you know spring isn't far around the corner. If you have a little girl that loves to go to slumber parties or is looking forward to attending her very first one; make sure she has a great sleeping bag and make it a Sugar and Spice.

This child sized sleeping bag is perfect for every little princess from the age of 2-6 years old and has so much to look at! If your little girl likes anything but to the ordinary - she will love this sleeping bag.

Made in a soft lilac color and the sleeping bag has butterflies and flowers stitched right on. A larger flower can serve as a pillow or just something to hug when she's going to sleep. This sleeping bag is machine washable and will take your little girl through many overnight adventures.

Also if your kiddo enjoys staying overnight occasionally at their grandparents or other relatives, a sleeping bag can make it something special. When you're an adult, camping out in the living room and sleeping on the floor has little to no appeal; but to a preschooler, that's how you spell real FUN.

Make an addition that will make your little girl squeal with delight when she sees that you have gotten her not just any old sleeping bag - but a very special one - made just for her!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Learning Through Crawling and Playing

Babies are on the go and their little minds are like sponges. Whatever you put in front of them, they soak up. If you have a little one that is on the move, give her a safe place to play that is also stimulating for learning.

The Alphabet Foam Mat is a fabulous place for your little one to crawl, play and learn letters and colors. The foam letters are far to big to pose a choking hazard and are easy for little hands to handle and grasp due to their squishy, foamy design.

It makes for great interactive play with your child as well as a cushy place to do it. Sing the Alphabet Song to her, talk about colors, and play games like "Find the Letter". When she's a toddler, ask her what her favorite letter is, favorite color and have her point them out. Toddlers love to be opinionated about everything!

Your little one will stay safe and clean, while she'll love the bright colors and things to do on her mat. The 5-foot by 5-foot square mat has interlocking pieces that go together like a puzzle which will really please a curious toddler. When your child is even older, she will be delighted to discover that the assembled squares can be put together into cubes for large-sized building

If you like toys that can grow with your little one, this is another great addition to your child's room!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Safe, Fun Developmental Toys for Kids Under the Age of Two

Does your little one seem bored? A quick glance in your child's toy chest may yield the reason why. Numerous toys that are sold for smaller children today are so advanced they actually play for the child too. Electronic coloring books are safer for your newly painted white walls but your kids don't learn as much about the colors from touching dots of color on a screen with a light pen. Tactile senses - being able to hold and feel what they are playing with - are important to the development of children.

Because of the boom in video games, many children have exquisite hand-eye coordination but lack development in other fine motor skills. This isn't to say video games are a bad thing - they aren't and there are a good number of wonderful learning programs that will give your child a leg up on learning. But as with all activities - they should include parental involvement and limit their use. Diversity in activities will keep your child's mind stimulated and ready to absorb information.

Another good way to get your young child's fine motor skills up and running is to use some of the types of toys you probably remember from your own childhood. A simple wooden pounding toy will delight your young child and he will quietly be learning to place the hammer where his eye sees the point to hit and in turn develop his fine motor skills. You can also talk about the shapes and colors of the various parts and help him brush up on his colors and shapes. If you've been skittish about buying wooden toys, rest assured the fine folks at Plan Toys have taken your concerns to task.