Advice for L.A. parents of toddlers.

Toddler

How to Spot a Developmentally Appropriate Preschool

It's spring and if you have a young child, there's a good chance that preschool is on your mind. If you want to find the right place for fall 2017, I recommend that you start your search now. Good schools fill up quickly! There are plenty of things to consider when choosing a preschool. Clearly, proximity to home or work is a biggie as are cost, hours of operation and...

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The Millennial Dad Takes on Alternative Transportation

I am sitting with Hank in a Nippon Sharyo (which literally means Japanese vehicle) cab, model P865. This pantographed workhorse – a Los Angeles Metro train with a electric-current-collector on top – is here because of years of painstaking negotiations and political savvy, an effort by L.A. officials to create a more attractive cityscape while simultaneously curbing carbon emissions and alleviating traffic congestion. I have fantasized about a train connecting...

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When the News Is Scary or Confusing

Editor's note: This is an update of a 2015 article which, sadly, is still quite relevant and timely. Television, radio, newspapers and social media bring us news of terrorist attacks and tragedy on a daily basis. And too often, as in the case of a shooting Monday (April 10, 2017) at North Park Elementary school in San Bernardino, the news is much closer to home. How can parents begin to...

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Millennial Dad: A Voyage of Selfie Discovery

What’s wrong with me? What am I doing clutching my 2-year-old in this chokehold as I attempt to aim my phone at our two duck-lipped faces? Can’t he have a normal “mirror” phase like any other pre-Kardashian child? Profound parental – no, human – guilt confronts me. I know this is wrong, base, tacky. But I need Hank to stare into my smart phone and smile. Smile! C’mon, smile! Instead,...

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saying sorry

Beyond Saying Sorry: A More Meaningful Path to Conflict Resolution

“Say ‘I’m sorry’ and mean it!” How many times have we told our kids to apologize for saying or doing something hurtful to someone else? Honestly, forcing my 5-year-old, Sofia, to apologize in the heat of the moment makes me feel better as a parent. But when she doesn’t mean it, I feel guilty because I believe it’s a poor lesson to make her say empty words without meaning. After...

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home learning activities for kids

Digital vs. Analog: At-Home Learning Activities for Kids

Technology gives parents more ways than ever to provide a rich and engaging home learning environment for their kids. But how much is too much? Is it better to go “old-school” with plenty of books, journals to fill, and hands-on activities? Or is it best to be future-focused and provide the latest tablet computer and learning programs? Staying Hands-On Patti Clark, vice president of product development at Lakeshore, advocates for...

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parenting

5 Common-Sense Tips For Raising Great Kids

It’s the middle of January and many of us have broken our New Year’s Resolutions and are back to who we were in December. For parents who are looking for a way to raise their children to be respectful, likeable, and successful adults it’s not too late. Here are 5 philosophical tips that will pay dividends for years to come including: Teach your kids to leave a trail of people...

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parenting

Depression in Moms Goes Beyond Baby Blues

“I’m depressed.” How often have we heard a fellow mom say that? We commiserate, give her a hug and move on. After all, the phrase is used quite casually these days. It might indicate sadness – the loss of a job, the death of a loved one or a sense of stagnation – or it might indicate hormonal shifts. Unless that mom says she has been clinically diagnosed with depression, there is a chance we won’t treat her comment with gravitas, ask questions or steer her toward professional help. Experts say we should. Depression in moms is not always definable, not always evident, not always diagnosed. Women suffer from mood...

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mommy and me groups

Mommy-and-Me Groups Offer Friendship and Support

When my son was an infant, I sought out a therapist. “I need someone straightforward to talk to about new baby/marriage/work stress,” I explained when asking a counselor friend for a recommendation. I told her my son was 4 months old and she responded with great empathy, “Oh, you’re right in the middle of it.” “It,” as I was to learn, is that period when your child’s needs are all-encompassing...

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parenting

Small Books With a Big Mission for Multilingual Kids

Board books and babies just go together. But when L.A. moms Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein shopped for their little ones, they didn’t find any that reflected the Latino culture they grew up with. “We both knew there was something missing for our children,” says Rodriguez. Best friends since childhood, the two worked together to create Lil Libros, a line of simple board books that teach letters, numbers, shapes and...

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Hottest Trends and Products from the ABC Baby & Kids Expo

What’s the hottest trends for baby and tots this year? Well, we found the world’s smallest stroller, a glider that reclines and charges your cell phone, colorful silicon food storage made even better and whimsical teepee tents to add some fun to your playroom. We’re back from the ABC Baby & Kids Expo, the largest juvenile-products trade show in North America, where we had an exclusive first look at all...

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positive parenting

Finding Diversity in Children’s Books

Five Easy Ways to Find Inclusive Reads Your Kids Will Love “There were tons of brown kids just like me running around the neighborhood where I grew up in East L.A. in the mid-90s, but I never came across a single book about anyone who looked like me until high school,” says Julia Casas, youth services librarian for the Santa Monica Public Library’s Ocean Park Branch. When Casas, a Latina,...

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positive parenting

Positive Parenting: Experts Answer Your Questions For Early Childhood

We hear it all the time, and yet we can’t hear it often enough: Children’s early years matter. Your child’s first interactions with you and with others, the environment you create for your family, and your child’s earliest educational experiences influence how your child’s brain is built, and set the tone for her or his relationships with others and future learning. The idea can feel overwhelming, but by asking yourself...

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positive parenting

A Family Legacy Worth Leaving Behind

It is a day I will never forget – Christmas 2013 in snowy Chicago, and my parents were visiting from Texas. Christmas carols were playing, festive food and decorated cookies were on the table, and I had buttery egg nog in hand and a big smile on my face as I sat to watch my then 2-year-old daughter, Sofia, open her first gift from under our tree. The first package...

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activities for toddlers

Where to Find the Perfect Toy Truck Around LA

Hank is a 1-year-old gear jockey. He bounces with a kind of Strauss waltz-like ebullience when a wheel positions itself in his field of vision. I have no scientific data to back this up, but he seems to possess a nimble radar for all things automotive, almost like a shark sensing a floundering adolescent seal on a lazy current. Having witnessed my toddler son’s wide-eyed enthusiasm for all things with...

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On the Record: What Mom Really Wants for Mother’s Day

Every year when my husband asks, "What do you want for Mother's Day?" I always respond exactly the same way: “Amor, I don't need a Mother's Day gift. My kids are enough." But wait a minute, who am I kidding? I do want something! Why do I feel guilty admitting that I secretly want something for Mother’s Day? Is it because I feel like I should not get a gift...

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Take Time, Talk: Eight Ways to Support Your Child’s Language Development

Like a snowball growing as it rolls downhill, young children’s vocabulary expands faster and faster as they hear more words. However, a constant stream of words from the radio or even an educational children’s video won’t create this cumulative advantage in language processing. Instead, social interaction (the back-and-forth, turn-taking nature of conversation) and talking with infants and toddlers will build their language and communication skills. This might seem easier said...

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6 Most Common Sleep Training Myths Debunked

Have you ever stopped to think about what the definition of “sleep training” really is? Unfortunately, several incorrect sleep training stereotypes exist, suggesting that the practice requires parents to do everything from shutting the door on an 8-week-old baby for 12 hours, to eliminating nighttime feedings, to surrendering your family values to a sleep trainer who stays overnight at your home for several weeks. As a sleep consultant, I’ve heard...

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Doc Talk: Why There Are No Accidents

The other day, a 9-year-old came in to the emergency department with an elbow fractured in a way that required a surgical repair with metal pins, and a cut across the middle of his forehead that required plastic surgery. He had tried to skateboard down six stairs. In emergency medicine, we don’t call these “accidents,” because the injuries that happen by accident are almost always preventable. And the key to...

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Building Your Baby’s Brain

Your earliest interactions with your child set the foundation for future learning A few moms sit on the floor of a bright, airy playroom at Well Baby Center in L.A. with their 1-year-olds toddling nearby. Facilitators, family therapist interns who are Masters-level graduate students, move among the toys, babies and moms. Each time a baby approaches an adult, she or he is engaged in back-and-forth play. Each giggle or squeal...

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Driving, Dreaming and Daytime Napping in L.A.

How to waste gasoline in style while putting your baby to sleep I’m leaping over speed bumps, cruising the potholed boulevards and aimlessly wandering the canyon roads. I have no destination and am often jammed in a traffic-laden city artery, but I have not an ounce of road rage, lane pain or street defeat. No, I’m delighted, because Hank is still asleep in the back seat. When you have a...

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Read Aloud Like a Rock Star

Seven Secrets from Voice-Over Actors, Teachers and Literacy Experts Early in my time volunteering with BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools), I picked up my first valuable lesson on what not to do when reading to kids. On that fresh, September morning, my read-aloud selection for the 20 eager third graders gathered before me at Paseo del Rey Elementary in Playa del Rey was an educational but – in...

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A Plea for More Old-Fashioned Play

Happy New Year! Like many of you I also had a busy holiday season. This week, our kids were ready to go back to school, the house is slowly getting back to normal and routine is kicking in. If you are like our family, many gifts were given and received, especially anything that was device- or game-oriented. As a parent, educator and advocate for wellness and vitality, I have to...

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Hot Wheelers Comes to Outside the Box

Wheelchair accessibility and new classes are part of the learning center’s expansion. Outside the Box opened its first 500-square-foot storefront in 2009. The center, devoted to sensory activities that contribute to brain development for ages 8 weeks to 6 years, has expanded a couple of times over the years, and always made good use of the space. There were bubbles. There was paint. There were musical instruments, giggles and squeals....

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Toddler Town Debuts at AdventurePlex

Farm-to-table fun – designed just for toddlers – is coming to AdventurePlex, Beach Cities Health District’s 17,000-square-foot kids fitness and health facility in Manhattan Beach. Officially dubbed “Toddler Town,” AdventurePlex’s newest healthy play zone includes an interactive toddler-sized farm, market and beach home – each specially crafted to help introduce kids ages 5 and younger to the organic farm-to-table nutrition cycle through imaginative play. AdventurePlex will also offer a variety...

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Mary McNamara: A Mom With a Critical Eye on TV

Mary McNamara took on her job as television critic at The Los Angeles Times in 2009. The mother of three – Danny Stayton, 17; Fiona Stayton, 15 and Darby Stayton, 9 – had been a features writer and editor at The Times for 18 years when she was offered the job. “My question was, ‘Can I work from home?’ And they said, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll have to.’ If I didn’t...

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Are Those Toys Safe, Ducky?

The baby board book, featuring lots of colors and textures meant to stimulate developing brains, was labeled “organic.” Josh Kasteler tested it anyway, and found that the packaging contained such a high level of phthalates – chemicals widely believed to disrupt hormone levels – that it contaminated the book as well. Kasteler, a biochemist and molecular biologist who founded Santa Monica-based Safe Ducky (www.safeducky.com) in June, tests toys and other...

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Keeping It Real For Your Child Actor

Every parent is proud of their little darling’s accomplishments, from the finger paintings on the refrigerator to – in the case of some of our Hollywood-bred children – the National commercial airing during the Super Bowl. We adults recognize the difference between these two accomplishments, but kids might feel much more excited about their artwork on the fridge than about the day they spent on set eating cereal. And that’s...

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Dr. Shefali Tsabary: Promoting ‘Conscious’ Parenting

Becoming a parent changes us in the most profound and irrevocable ways, and it is often our children who motivate and inspire us to grow into our best selves. Through everyday interactions and ordinary moments, we have the opportunity to create a meaningful connection with our children and nurture a deep sense of resilience, tolerance and self-acceptance in them. But first we need to better understand ourselves, says Shefali Tsabary,...

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Actor Taye Diggs Celebrates Diversity With New Children’s Book

Helping kids of mixed race and culture celebrate their uniqueness with confidence was the focus of a recent Multiculti Mixer in West Los Angeles featuring a special appearance and book reading by actor Taye Diggs. The event was hosted by Multiculti Corner, a culturally diverse community of people with the intention to recognize, embrace, and celebrate what it means to be a part of a blended family. The co-host of...

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What To Do When Your Kids Argue

Sibling rivalry is one of the most discussed topics in my practice. “How do I get my children to stop fighting? How do I help them get along?” No matter what the age difference between the children, this is an area of no escape. Common areas of conflict include siblings sharing rooms, siblings being rude to one another and siblings arguing when a friend is over. And when rivalries flare...

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How to Choose a Child-Centered Preschool

Extensive research shows that attending preschool helps children develop social and emotional skills, improves their reading and language development, and gives them the opportunity to make decisions and ask questions in a safe environment. Regardless of their socio-economic status, race or location, children who have attended preschool are more likely to graduate high school and attend college, and less likely to repeat a grade, have substance-abuse problems or commit a...

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Have a Fabulous Fiesta Birthday!

Lucky and I love throwing parties, celebrating with friends, laughing, drinking and eating. Lucky is the chef of the house and I am the party planner – but neither of us likes doing the dishes! Here are our tips for a great fiesta with plenty of fun ideas for kids: Mix up the guest list. Invite your most fun friends and your most interesting friends. Sometimes, these are the same...

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Stop Over-Parenting and Raise An Adult

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk in the media, at PTA meetings and among parents and educators on the effects of helicopter parenting – knowing when to step in to help and when to allow children to do things for themselves. A new book by Julie Lythcott-Haims does a great job exploring the topic of over-parenting and its detrimental effects on young adults. How to Raise...

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Teaching Kids To Speak Up

My daughter is lost in play with a friend, and I watch as her eyes suddenly fix on the floor beneath her. The conversation is quiet and I can’t quite make out the words between them, but I can sense from her posture that she doesn’t want to speak up. The path of least resistance tends to be her favorite path, even if it means pushing her own ideas and...

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Don’t Neglect Essential Social-Skills Development

“Don’t miss the forest for the trees,” so the saying goes. When it comes to parenting, the “trees” are the many academic milestones and measuring sticks society tends to focus on, and the “forest” is the bigger picture of overall development and social skills in our children. Society tends to be achievement oriented and, once children reach ages 3 to 5, their ability to verbalize, add, subtract and write takes...

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Keep Tabs on Children’s Product Recalls

Maria L. recently searched a swap meet for the perfect stroller for her baby, due in a couple of weeks. When she settled on one to purchase, Maria had no idea that the item was on a Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) list of recalled products  known to cause injury and deaths. Recently, to help Maria save money, her family and friends also gave her used baby items that they...

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Taking the Perfect Family Photo: Photographers Give Their Advice

With summer under way, families are getting together for barbecues, pool parties and outdoor adventures, and taking advantage of all these summer activities to stage family photos. Family portraits can get a little stressful, especially since there is always that one person in the group who feels like taking pictures is not for them. Whether you have little ones who get fussy and don’t want to pose, a relative who...

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Finding Quality Childcare in L.A.

Choosing a childcare provider can be one of the most important decisions parents can make, particularly during the years before a child starts kindergarten. The number of available options can be overwhelming, and it is easy to be tempted to go with the first recommendation from a friend or neighbor. But experts warn that a childcare solution that works for one family might not work for yours. Here are some...

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The Value of Pretend Play

By Patti Rommel, Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials Does your child love to dress up as a fearless superhero and conquer menacing villains, or reenact a scene from his or her favorite movie with friends? Maybe your little one can transform a cardboard box into a bottomless treasure chest … with just his or her imagination! If so, your child is engaging in pretend play, an...

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Mother's Group

Mothers Together

Joining a moms’ group can help forge connections and support By Elena Epstein Michelle Turner says the best advice she received while pregnant with her twin daughters was from a co-worker, advising her to join a moms’ group. She found the West L.A. chapter of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs and signed up. Her daughters, Coco and Aya, are now 3 years old and the moms in...

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