Getting Your Kids Involved in Philanthropy
July 15, 2018 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Getting Your Kids Involved in Philanthropy

by Jean Shafiroff

Soho Parenting’s Louisiana Project

Now that we’re in the heart of summer – and school summer vacation – many parents are left wondering how their children can best spend all of this free time! While some opt for camps to fill the summer months, New York City-based philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, author of Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give and mother of two grown daughters, believes that summer break is the perfect time to get your kids involved in charity and giving back to society. Below you’ll find Jean’s top tips for how to get your kids involved in philanthropy over the summer:

Identify Your Kid’s Interests before Deciding on Any Activity
If your child is not interested in sports, volunteering with Special Olympics will most likely be a flop. On the other hand, if your kid loves art, volunteering for a local museum may be a great match. Focus on what your kid loves, and then use that to find philanthropic inspiration. After all, you do want your child do enjoy giving back so that he or she continues with charity throughout adulthood!

Match the Activity with your Child’s Age
While volunteering positions offer a fantastic foray into the worlds of both philanthropy and work for teenagers that are middle school- and high school-age, there are countless ways for younger children to give back. The developmental importance of more elementary philanthropic activities should not be underestimated. Start off your young kids with fun, age-appropriate activities. Think of charitable day camps, or even simple at-home activities like going through a kid’s possessions and deciding what they would like to donate. Opening a dialogue on privilege and disadvantage, especially among other children, is vital for helping your children cultivate a benevolent attitude.

Consider Collaborating with Your Kids
You don’t want your child to feel overwhelmed, or else they may grow to resent philanthropic work. Instead, choose an altruistic activity that can be used as a means of spending time together so that you can bond, work together, and give back all with the same project. This way, your kid can feel proud to be part of something bigger than he or she could accomplish alone. Such an endeavor may look like a toy or food drive, where you and your child can gather toys from your community in order to donate them to less privileged children.

Emphasize Togetherness
Whether your kid would like to spend more time with his or her parents or is more interested in spending time with friends, use philanthropy as a social activity. For example, you can either accompany your kid to a soup kitchen, or better yet bring his or her friends along so that they can have fun spending time together while simultaneously learning and doing something great for the community.

Utilize the Power of Virtual Philanthropy
Consider a simpler means of giving back: online philanthropy. As an example, you could use the internet to research ways you can help your child sponsor a child in need or protect an endangered species. You would be surprised how much change can be made with just a small investment of time and a few dollars. You may find this approach excites your kids, as they can establish connections with kids, causes, or animals around the globe!

 

ABOUT JEAN SHAFIROFF:
Formally honored by several major philanthropic organizations, Jean Shafiroff has made a name for herself by dedicating her life toward a wide array of charitable causes. She has invested her efforts in orchestrating large-scale events and fundraisers for non-profits including the New York Women’s Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Furthermore, Jean serves on the boards of many other organizations, such as the New York Mission Society and the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. Perhaps she is most well-known for the integral role she plays for the Southampton Hospital, for which she has previously served as chairwoman of the Annual Summer Galas, and the Southampton Animal Shelter, for which she sits on the honorary board. She also authored the 2016 book Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give and has penned articles for Social Life Magazine, Hamptons Magazine, Gotham Magazine, and Avenue Magazine.

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Stop Brain Drain Before it Starts
June 13, 2018 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Stop Brain Drain Before it Starts

by A.S. Braverman

The end of the school year is in sight and summer is right around the corner. Kids and parents alike are excited for the chance to slow down and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the school year, not to mention things like sleepaway camp, pool parties, and ice cream in the shade. But there’s a flip side to summer vacation—brain drain. Kids lose months’ worth of academic skills, including reading, writing, math, and executive functioning skills, and this puts them at a real disadvantage when they go back to school in the fall. To prevent this learning loss, try some of the following activities:

 

  • Go to a museum – When the day is just too hot to do much outside, visit a museum (especially a natural history museum). Kids will love the displays and interactive exhibits. This is a great way for them to get some science review (or history, or art), and for the family to spend time together. Plus: the air conditioning will feel great.

 

  • Send postcards — Make a summer-long game out of collecting the best postcards of the sights and landmarks in your town. Take some time every week to fill them out and send them to faraway friends or relatives. It will be excellent writing and geography practice.

 

  • Have a spelling bee – If you’re worried about your learners’ spelling skills, hold a spelling bee with a summery twist. Set up a bucket of water balloons that the “audience” (parents, neighbors, school friends) can throw at anybody who misspells their word.

 

  • Plan an excursion – Get your kids to practice using their planning and time management skills by having them plan out a day trip for you to take together. Make it fun and keep it organized by mapping out the day’s events using color coded markers, stickers, and other craft supplies.

 

  • Read together — Sometimes even the summer months can get hectic. When you have some down time, it’s nice to sit with your kids and read out loud. Choose a book that piques their interest, and alternate listening and reading, making sure the kids get a chance to do both, too. This will help them keep up their spelling skills, and can even be used as a gentle way to develop public speaking skills.

 

 

 

Author Bio: A.S. Braverman is an Academic Liaison at Thinking Caps Group and a recent graduate of Columbia University. Thinking Caps has published many books, including SAT Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2012) and ACT Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2013). The company has been featured in The New York Times, Parenting, and The Huffington Post.

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Chew On This!
May 23, 2018 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Chew On This!
by Dr. Jacqueline Dikansky
It’s 7:55 AM and your child’s school bus is arriving in 5 minutes. You’ve just placed a nutritious and delicious lunch inside a lunchbox and are wondering what to pack for snack time. How about some cookies? An apple? Dried mango? As a pediatric dentist, I am here to provide advice to make snacking as ‘teeth-friendly’ as possible. After all, we want your little one’s smile to be as healthy as it is beautiful.

There are genetic factors—such as bacterial profile and composition and secretion rate of saliva—that come into play when determining your risk for tooth decay. However, there are also significant factors that you have more control over, such as hygiene and diet. This is why it’s important to know what makes some snacks better for dentition than others. The bacteria in your mouth needs access to specific carbohydrates to cause cavities. Therefore, two important factors that determine how dangerous a snack food is for your teeth are the presence of these specific carbohydrates and the snack food’s retentiveness. In other words, we should consider what a snack is feeding the bacteria in our mouths and the amount of time it’s allowing the bacteria in our mouths to feast on it.

What does all this mean?! Here are some key takeaway points.

1.     Fresh fruit and vegetables are a go! As you may have expected, these get the green light for advisable snacking. The fibrous texture of many fruit and vegetables even provides teeth a cleansing effect, and stimulates the gums.  
 
2.     Milk and other dairy products offer protective qualities! Cheese and unsweetened yogurt are great snack choices. Milk has shown to help strengthen teeth, partly due to the casein protein found in milk that prevents demineralization. Avoid sweetened flavored milk, however, as the sugar may counteract its benefits.
 
3.     “If it’s sticky, it’s icky!” Sticky foods, such as gummy candy and dried fruit (i.e. raisins!), adhere to the surfaces of teeth and allow bacteria to sustain the cavity-forming process over an extended period of time.
 
4.     Sharing the above sentiment, potato chips and cookies are dangerous as well. These foods are not sticky per se, but they get pulverized and packed into the grooves, nooks and crannies of teeth, where they remain for an extended period of time. This too offers bacteria prolonged fueling of the tooth decay process. Fun facts: data shows that children who snack on cookies have 3.89 times more dental decay than children who don’t snack on cookies. Cavities in children who snack on potato chips are 4.28 times more common than in children who don’t consume potato chips!
 
5.     Sweetened beverages? Soda is a sugar shower for your teeth. Research shows again and again the deleterious effects of frequent soda consumption. Less intuitively, fruit juice can be dangerous due to its acidity. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following recommendations: For children age 4-6, fruit juice should be restricted to 4 to 6 ounces daily; and for children ages 7-18, juice intake should be limited to 8 ounces or 1 cup of the recommended 2 to 2 ½ cups of fruit servings per day.
 
6.     Finally, the frequency of snacking is extremely important! Every time you snack, the environment in your mouth changes to one that is more conducive to forming cavities. Try and limit snacking to 1-2 times per day.
I certainly want your little one to enjoy all of his/her favorite foods, regardless of where they fall on this list! We just want to make sure this is done in the most protective way possible for the teeth. If your child did have potato chips, gummy candy, or any of the foods that may pose a greater risk to the teeth, go ahead and brush his/her teeth not long thereafter, if possible. If not, at least have your little one drink a lot of water (or milk!) after snacking to increase clearance and wash that snack off the teeth. Snack happy, but also snack healthy!

References
1.     Snacking Habits and Caries in Young Children. Johansson et al. Caries Res. November 2010.
2.     The relationship between snacking habits and dental caries
in school children. Iftikhar et al.  International Journal of Collaborative Research on Internal Medicine & Public Health. Vol. 4 No. 12 (2012)
3.      Evaluating the Cariogenic Potential of Flavored Milk: An Experimental Study using Rat Model. Al-Jobair et al. Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice. January 2015.

About the author:
Dr. Jacqueline Dikansky is a pediatric dentist who practices at iSmile Kids, a dental practice in lower Manhattan. She is a native of Brooklyn, NY and completed both her undergraduate and graduate education at New York University. Dr. Dikansky graduated dental school with honors in pediatric dentistry. She also received the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Predoctoral Student Award, given to a single senior student who shows the most promise in pediatric dentistry. After receiving her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, she completed an additional 2- year specialty training program in pediatric dentistry at Yale University. Besides dentistry, Jacqueline’s passions are fitness, travel and ballroom dancing. She was a competitive ballroom dancer for over 13 years! You can find more information on Dr. Dikansky at www.ismilekids.com.
 
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How to Become a Digital Savvy Parent
May 9, 2018 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on How to Become a Digital Savvy Parent

infographic by Amy K. Williams

data gathered from www.teensafe.com

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Start the School Year Right
September 11, 2017 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Start the School Year Right

Fall is just around the corner. There are lots of things to look forward to—the crunch of dry leaves, the comfort of your favorite sweater, pumpkin pie and apple cider, and, of course, the start of the new school year! As exciting as it is for kids and parents alike, this yearly transition can also be a big source of stress. It’s easy to let little things fall through the cracks in the hubbub of September. Your kids might be getting more homework as they get older, and lots of students participate in so many extracurricular activities that they’re hard to keep straight!  Here are five ways to make your back-to-school experience as smooth as possible.

Get Organized

Make sure your child’s study space is free of the clutter that can distract from schoolwork. You can also set up a system of organization that he or she can use right from the beginning of the semester. Some students find that a color-coded binder helps them keep all their assignments in order. Others might benefit from keeping a weekly planner in a notebook or online.  A family calendar in a prominent location—such as the living room or kitchen—is another good way to encourage time management. Additionally, the act of crossing off finished tasks can help give kids a feeling of accomplishment and autonomy.

 

Make a Schedule

Outline a daily “plan of attack” for school projects, social events, activities, and chores. Make sure your child records his/her assignments in the same place every week—such as in the notebook or online planner mentioned above. Next, we suggest “chunking” assignments into smaller, manageable steps, and then ordering those steps according to the project due date and the length of time your child will need to complete each step. You can use this plan to tackle daily homework and study time, as well as longer projects, such as papers or science projects. Ultimately, these steps will help your child learn the time management skills necessary to complete any long-term task.

Identify Your Child’s Learning Style

        One of the most important things you can do to ensure a great school year is to understand how your child learns best. This information will help you tailor study and organization strategies to your child’s strengths and challenges. Some children absorb information by listening; we call these kids auditory learners. Other students—visual learners—do best when information is convey visually, through charts or illustrations. Finally, kinesthetic learners apprehend concepts through touch, by physically working through ideas and problems. Often, students exhibit a variety of these traits, so it’s essential that you get to know your child’s particular needs.

Remember To Take Breaks

        The beginning of the year can feel overwhelming for everyone, parents and kids alike! As the days get shorter they also seem to get fuller. Don’t forget to build breaks into your child’s routine. Even a two-minute stretch, walk around the house, or quick snack can work wonders for a busy brain, especially when transitioning from working on one subject to working on another. We all need to take moments to reset our minds. Kids learn best work they’re running on all cylinders.

 

Author Bio: A.S. Braverman is an Academic Liaison at Thinking Caps Group and a recent graduate of Columbia University. Thinking Caps has published many books, including SAT Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2012) and ACT Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2013). The company has been featured in The New York Times, Parenting, and The Huffington Post.

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Deciding When to Be a Parent or a Friend With My College-Age Daughters
August 11, 2017 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Deciding When to Be a Parent or a Friend With My College-Age Daughters

by Kim Flodin

Originally published in MaximumMiddleAge.com.

We are in Ikea buying bookcases for our 24-year-old daughter who is going to graduate school. We are thrilled with her accomplishments and while she’s getting significant funding from her university, we have offered to help out with furnishing her apartment as she makes a move to another city.

And we are bickering. Daughter likes bookcase A. She thinks they are pretty and will work best for her many volumes. Husband likes bookcase B. He thinks they are sturdy and multi-functional. Both items are reasonably priced. When we finally agree it will be bookcase A, we pass bookcase B again in Ikea’s many make-believe rooms and Husband says, “What about bookcase B?”

Finally, Daughter answers in exasperation, “OK, sure, bookcase B!” Husband, sheepish, responds, “No, honey, you like bookcase A.”

All three of my 20-something daughters were home this summer and we stepped on each other’s toes from the moment they started to arrive in May. We had friction over dentist appointments not booked, antibiotics not taken, suitcases not emptied, dishes not cleared, and summer calendars not kept up-to-date.

When I was 24, I lived with a much younger version of Husband. I called him Boyfriend and I can assure you no parent on either side was concerned with our appointments, let alone our bookcases. No mom was figuring out the dimensions of our apartment, no dad was schlepping boxes and tearing his hair out over infuriating Ikea instructions. Instead, Boyfriend and I built a precarious tower of pilfered plastic milk crates to house our books because we had no parental financial support from the moment we graduated college. Were we better for it? In some ways, yes — we were resourceful, serious, and thrifty. We also stayed in dead-end jobs too long during those years because we couldn’t afford to take chances, and we sometimes made important decisions in a vacuum because we lacked the authentic connectedness with our elders this generation enjoys.

I don’t want to be overbearing because I give more than I received at this age. I also don’t want to clean late-night snack dishes in the morning to make room in the kitchen sink to fill up the breakfast kettle. I want to respect my grown children’s boundaries and have them respect mine because we have a great time together when we do. This summer we listened to the Hamilton cast album non-stop, binge-watched Orange is the New Black, and shared fascinating perspectives on art, politics, and movies. We danced at weddings, were introduced to Spanish wine by the daughter who spent a spring semester abroad, and figured out as a group what the hell was going on with Pokémon GO.

Read more: All the Grown-Ass Adult Places Pokémons Should Hide in Pokémon GO

I didn’t have much in common with my parents when I was 24. The gap between my generation and our young adult children is narrower, and sometimes, in that camaraderie, I lose my way when to parent, when to friend, and when to roommate. But it’s worth pausing to figure it out each time. When my girls make lunch to entice me to join them, or text me funny inside jokes, or ask for an old-fashioned cuddle, I feel lucky to witness their fascinating journeys in the intimate way they allow.

When Husband and I aren’t being stubborn about bookcases or nosy about doctors’ appointments, our daughters express their deep gratitude for the safety nets we provide. It’s not forever or even much longer — and I know we and they are lucky to afford them — but in these transitional years, I believe these nets, both financial and emotional, have given them courage to reach higher than I would have dared at 24.

So, here’s to giving only what I can give. Here’s to not being a secretary or a housekeeper, and to picking my battles. Here’s to respecting the young’s right to make mistakes and feel their way through things. Here’s to showing my daughters my trust in them is enormous.

Here’s to summer turning into fall.

 

Kim C. Flodin is a Brooklyn writer who specializes in parenting, health, and family issues. Her personal essays have been published in The New York Times, Newsweek Magazine, and The Christian Science Monitor among others. She also serves as Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at The Brooklyn Hospital Center. Last, but not least, she is the mother of three young adult daughters.

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Talking To Your Child About Smartphone Monitoring
July 27, 2017 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Talking To Your Child About Smartphone Monitoring

infographic by Scott Reddler

 

 

Scott Reddler is an active software developer, water sports fan, and a loving and enthusiastic father of three. He uses his knowledge of new technology to understand how social media and apps are changing the parenting landscape. @ScottReddler. Infographic source: Teensafe.com

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Natural Healing: Why Kids Need Nature for Good Health
July 7, 2017 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Natural Healing: Why Kids Need Nature for Good Health

by Jackie Edwards

Today’s parents have been accused of raising an ‘indoor generation’, starved of the beauty of nature and the freedom of the great outdoors. Research shows that children are spending half as much time outside as they did 20 years ago. The effect is inevitably harmful. In fact, there’s a growing body of research that shows that when children spend less time outdoors it negatively affects their health. There’s no doubt about it…kids need nature!

How can kids engage with nature?


The greatest health benefits are seen when children are given the freedom and independence to play their own games with natural materials in outdoor settings, whether woodland, open countryside, parks or backyards. They become fitter, happier, smarter, more attentive, more sociable and less anxious. But if you struggle to find green space in your urban home, don’t despair as health benefits can still be gained by simply looking at pictures of nature scenes with your child. The essential thing is allowing your child to engage with nature, be it through play or through images.

 

Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits.

Improves physical health

If your child has the opportunity to play outside, it will help improve their physical fitness – an important consideration for the one in three American children who are obese. What’s more, being outdoors increases exposure to vitamin D which boosts immunity and helps protect your child from future bone problems, heart disease and diabetes. Research has also shown that children who regularly play outdoors are also more likely to have better distance vision.

Calms the mind

It’s not just parents who get stressed! A survey by the American Psychological Association found a third of children aged 8 to 17 experienced symptoms of stress. Furthermore, anti-depressant use is on the rise amongst school-age children, as are diagnosed cases of ADHD. Nature is a proven aid to relaxation and has been shown to reduce stress levels within minutes, whether through being outdoors or simply looking at a tranquil vista. And ‘nature therapy’ is now a recognized form of treatment for ADHD children.

Promotes happines

Playing in nature is strongly linked to a child’s wellbeing. When kids are given the opportunity to explore a large open space, they develop a sense of freedom, independence and inner strength. They can think freely, design their own games and approach play in a fun, inventive way.

Challenges the brain

We typically think of computer games as stimulating, but they only provide a narrow focus to your child’s attention. Being outdoors activates all the senses – hearing, seeing, smelling and touching; it enriches the mind through a thoroughly engaging experience. And even if you’re only looking at images of nature scenes, these visually-rich stimuli are enough to nourish the brain.

What should YOU do?

If you have an outdoor space, make it inviting for your child. You don’t have to install permanent play equipment, just provide a bucket and spade, a hose, or chalks. Let them explore their space using their own imagination. If you don’t have a backyard, ensure you have images of nature freely available in your home. And don’t forget to devote family time to the great outdoors: visit local parks, wildlife refuges, go hiking or biking. Ensure time for nature is top of your family’s list!

Now a freelance writer, Jackie formerly worked in HR but took a career break when she became a mother. Writing gives her the freedom to be at home with her children, and in her spare time she volunteers for a number of local mental health charities

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Signs of a Good Child Care Center
June 29, 2017 · Posted in Education, Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off on Signs of a Good Child Care Center

by Jackie Edwards

In New York City, there are over 3,900 day care centers, but only a few of them may provide the kind of care, nurturing, and stimulating environment that you expect. For many parents, choosing a good child care center has become more important than ever, as this is where your child will spend most of his or her formative years. Finding the best child care center for your little one may be daunting, but with a bit of time spent visiting a few locations and observing what goes on inside them, you can recognize the signs of a good facility. From there, you’ll be able to determine whether it will be a place of learning and fun for your child.

Here are the signs of a good child care center.

The center has an ideal child care provider to child ratio

According to the New York state requirements for daycare centers, the ideal care provider to child ratio is 1:4, and this is applicable if the children are ages 6 weeks to 9 months. The number of children per care provider may increase depending on the kids’ age group. If your child is three years old and will be cared for alongside other children with the same age, then the ideal ratio is 1:7.

The workers are knowledgeable, competent, and have sufficient training

A child care center’s head of groups should have an AA in early education or early childhood development. Those who are caring for children under the age of three should have at least one year’s experience or training in infant and toddler care. You can ask the center’s director about the staff’s credentials, but you can also look around and see how the workers interact with the children.

The staff is warm and responsive to children

If the caregivers look competent and calm in dealing with different types of situations, then that’s one of the main signs of a good childcare facility. However, the staff should also have close interactions with the children, so they should be playing with the kids on the ground or holding very young babies. Workers should be warm and responsive to children of all ages, and they should provide consistent care.

The center has a good reputation

Ask the child care center to provide names and numbers of current clients and call them for references. If the facility refuses your request, you can always drop by in the afternoons when the kids get picked up by their parents. Strike up a conversation with the other parents and find out if they truly love the center and its program. If you happen to find a parent or two that shares your values with regards to child care and they happen to love the center, then you may find that it’s the right fit for you and your child.

It has a stimulating environment

It’s a good sign if the center has a lot of books, toys, and crafting materials for children. While some facilities let children watch videos, it shouldn’t take up most of their day. Ideally, a center should have structured schedules for meals, reading, and quiet time, but it should also allow children to have enough free time to play.

A good child care center may be a challenge to find, but by recognizing the signs of a good facility, you may find one that is just right for what you and your child need. Above all, you must also trust your instincts when you’re searching for a center. If you think that there is something that’s not quite right with a certain place, you can always move on and find another one that’s better suited to your requirements. Though searching for a good child care center may take some time, it’s worth it if you can find one that can provide the care, learning, and nurture that your little one needs.

Now a freelance writer, Jackie formerly worked in HR but took a career break when she became a mother. Writing gives her the freedom to be at home with her children, and in her spare time she volunteers for a number of local mental health charities.

 

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Don’t Skimp On The Nap
May 18, 2017 · Posted in Infant Development, Parenting, Preschoolers, Sleep, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments Off on Don’t Skimp On The Nap

The data just keeps pouring in on the importance of children’s sleep. Perri Klass MD, highlights the impact of daytime sleep for young children in her NYT article, “A Child’s Nap Is More Complicated Than It Looks” 

“Dr. Monique LeBourgeois, a sleep scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her colleagues recently conducted the first study on how napping affects the cortisol awakening response, a burst of hormone secretion known to take place shortly after morning awakening. They showed that children produce this response after short naps in the morning and afternoon, though not in the evening, and it may be adaptive in helping children respond to the stresses of the day.

By experimentally restricting sleep in young children, and then analyzing their behavior in putting puzzles together, Dr. LeBourgeois’ group also is quantifying how napping — or the lack of it — affects the ways that children respond to situations. “Sleepy children are not able to cope with day-to-day challenges in their worlds,” she said. When children skip even a single nap, “We get less positivity, more negativity and decreased cognitive engagement.”

At least two naps a day for the first year, at least one nap a day until age three, and for some children, even up to age five is critical. Children experience a “pressure to sleep” and need to have the opportunity to release that pressure with regular naps. Remember this when choosing between a nap and baby class. The best thing for your baby’s brain development is sleep.

 

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