Countdown to the Holidays: Gift Recommendations

By Dr. Ariela Taub

With the holidays fast approaching, here is our holiday list of great finds to fill up your stockings or holiday bags this year.

1.  "Guess How Much I Love You" by Sam McBratney:  Reading nurtures parent-child bonding and helps a child's vocabulary blossom.  This book will have you and your child asking, "Guess how much I love you?" back and forth with each other sweetly this holiday season.  

2.  Magnetic Matching Game by VATOS:  Board games are a great way to help young children learn to take turns, socialize, and enjoy time with others (and off their screens!).  This board game also teaches color coordination and helps develop attention and fine motor coordination.  Board games like this are also a good time to teach your children that winning is less important than spending time together building relationships and having fun!

3.  Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set:  For ages 3+, this science kit is great for young children and parents to do together to build the parent-child relationship and foster an early joy for science.  

4.  FunzBo Arts and Crafts Supplies Jar for Kids:  Arts and crafts are a great way to help children develop their imaginations and creativity.  This bin is full of all the odds and ends that a child needs to create their own unique designs for hours of fun.

5.  Li’l Gen Water Beads:  For your sensory seeking little ones, these water beads are a fun way to teach fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and color coordination. 

6.  Learning Resources Shining Stars Projector:  This toy by Learning Resources encourages a love for space science, exploration, and language development.


8.  Kinetic Sand:  Kinetic sand is a great way to help young children enhance their creative play, stimulate their sensory needs, and cultivate building skills.

9.  Rock and Mineral Educational Collection & Collection Box:  This gem kit by Dancing Bear is a fun toy to get your young children off to an early joy for geologic science.  Help your children learn about the different gemstones together to help develop their language skills, social skills, and love for learning.

10.  Lewo 230 PCS Wooden Pattern Blocks:  This wooden block set helps children with pattern and shape recognition, fine motor skills, creativity, and following directions.  Play alongside your kids for a fun Sunday afternoon activity!

~Happy gift giving!

Thanksgiving Day: 5 Tips for a Meaningful Holiday with your Kids

By Dr. Ariela Taub

It's that time again!  The time of year when the house is filled with the sweet aroma of turkey, pumpkin pie, cornbread, and stuffing.  Here are 5 tips to help nurture your children this holiday and make this Thanksgiving really count!  

1.  Gratitude jar:  Place a mason jar filled with small pieces of paper on the dining room table the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  Each day, have your child(ren) fill one piece of paper with something they are grateful for.  Then, at Thanksgiving dinner, spill out the pieces of paper and read them aloud.  You can also go around the table before starting the meal and have each member say three things they are grateful for.

2.  Get your kids cooking:  Encourage your children to  join you in the kitchen.  Even if they are young, find a cooking step they can do, such as tossing a salad, pouring filling into a pie, or helping set the table.  Getting your kids involved will teach them the joy of creating family memories, helping one another, and seeing the product of their own hard work.

3.  Volunteer together:  The holiday season is a great time to teach children the value of giving.  Help them bring toys to a toy drive, serve a holiday meal at a soup kitchen, or visit the elderly.  Your children will learn the importance of gratitude, compassion, empathy, and community involvement.

4.  Have at least one food your child loves:  It is common for children to be picky eaters, especially children with sensory issues.  Include your child in the menu planning by asking them for one healthy food they would like on the Thanksgiving table.  Some children may enjoy the soft texture of an avocado or the sweet taste of strawberries over some of the more traditional holiday foods.  By putting a favorite food on the table, you will make your child feel important and you will also avoid the stress of them not wanting to sit at the table.

5.  Plan a healthy meal:  Thanksgiving is a good time to teach your children the importance of a healthy lifestyle.  Find creative ways to make the holiday dishes healthy as well as tasty.  Serve a menu filled with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.  Consider serving baked apples instead of pies or grilled veggies instead of stuffing.  You can also take the family out for a 20 minute walk before or after dinner to enjoy the autumn scenery.   

~Happy holiday season from our family to yours!

Getting Your Child to Sleep: 10 Tips for Bedtime

By Dr. Ariela Taub

Getting your child to bed can be a challenge for any parent, especially at the end of a long day.  

Here are 10 positive parenting tips to help ease the struggles and make bedtime a relationship enriching and special bonding experience for you and your child.

  1. Establish a bedtime routine:  About one hour before bedtime, begin a set routine that you and your child will follow nightly.  This can include bath-time, brushing teeth, brushing hair, putting on pajamas, etc.  Some children respond well to visual cues, so a visual schedule may be helpful, like this one: 
  2. Bonding time: Cuddle, hug, and hold your little one to show they have your affection and attention.  You can ask questions such as: "What was your favorite part of today?" or try taking turns listing three things you loved most about the day.
  3. "Last" ritual:  For some children, this may be a favorite bedtime story or a soothing lullaby.  You can offer a "menu" to your child and let them choose whether they would like you to read them a book, tell them a story, or sing them a song.  There are several videos on Youtube of lullaby music for babies that may help if you are feeling too tired to sing yourself.  Once you kiss them goodnight and leave the room, if they follow you, gently take their hand and guide them back to bed.
  4. Nightlight/projectors:  A sound or light projector may be helpful in serving as a physical cue that it is time for bed.  I found this musical nightlight by Fisher-Price to be extremely helpful:
  5. Dark and quiet:  Toddlers may need a low stimulation setting, or a dark and quiet room, to fall asleep comfortably.  Shut off all lights and make sure the house is nice and quiet, as your child may be sensitive to light or sounds.
  6. Is Melatonin a good option?:  Some children may benefit from a sleep supplement called Melatonin.  For example, research has shown children with autism spectrum have a low level of nighttime melatonin and therefore may have an abnormal circadian rhythm.  If you think your child may benefit from taking Melatonin, please discuss with your child's pediatrician to determine if this may be a good option for your child and what dose is best.
  7. Security object:  Offer to grab your child's favorite stuffed animal to give them something soft and comforting to hold onto as they fall asleep.  
  8. Shut off all screens:  Shut off all screens (TVs, iPads, iPhones, etc) at least 1 hour before bedtime.  The blue light from these screens is known to interfere with the viewers melatonin pathway, making it harder for him or her to fall asleep.  
  9. Are weighted blankets effective/safe?: While these may be useful sensory tools during day hours, studies have not shown weighted blankets to be effective in helping children fall asleep.  They are also not considered all-around safe by pediatricians, as they may limit movement during sleep, so talk to a physician before considering this option.
  10. Self-care for mom and dad:  To help make sure mom and dad have enough energy for helping their child, take care of yourselves as well by eating a nutritious three meals a day, getting 7-9 hours of your own sleep, and taking some alone time for yourself to do something you enjoy (e.g. a warm bath, yoga, reading, etc).