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Advice to New Mothers

Recently my cousin Imogene Tilson e-mailed from Huntsville, Alabama, asking for tips for mothers-to-be. Two nieces were about to make her older sister a grandmother, and she wanted to create personalized “guidebooks” for “the girls.” What better way to get everyone in their far flung extended family involved in getting ready for the babies? Here’s my reply:

About that request for tips for the mothers, did you want only one? Too bad. I’m an opinionated mother.

Read and re-read as your child progresses from one developmental stage to another: Between Parent & Child by Dr. Haim G.Ginott and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Hands down, these books stand out as the most useful and thought-provoking of any I read.

Remember flight attendant instructions and put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. That’s sound advice. If you do not take care of yourself–emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually–you cannot be your best and do your best for others.

Abandon all hope of being the “perfect” mother. Be the best mother you can, knowing some days work out better than others.

Less is more: having too many toys overwhelms children, making them unable to focus on any one. Invest in quality toys and rotate them as the child loses interest, reintroducing them later when what’s old will be new again. Quality toys promote quality play and grow as the child grows.

Beware of branding. Companies often use characters from movies and television to promote their products, from food to clothing and toys. These licensed products become “must have” because they are familiar and popular with peers. Licensing agreements support branding efforts, benefitting corporations, not children and their families, and can lead to unwise buying, unhealthy eating, and that “I want” nagging that drives all parents nuts.

Balance is the key to sanity and successful parenting. Easier to say than to achieve, but well worth the effort.

Nurture your sense of humor. You’ll need it. Laugh everyday.

Blow bubbles. Even infants find watching bubbles float around mesmerizing. And who can be tense while blowing bubbles?  Need a recipe for bubble solution? Contact me.


Having sent off my “words of wisdom,” I called my mother and asked her what she had sent. In declining health, she had lacked the energy to answer the letter, then forgotten about it until I asked. With prodding, she agreed to me e-mailing what she thought most important. In another post, I’ll share her advice.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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What Types of Toys Support Healthy Play?

Our last blog entry addressed the question Why Is Quality Play So Important? Now that we’ve defined the essential character of quality play, let’s move on to explore What Types of Toys Support Healthy Play? The answer goes beyond my suggestion that you Throw Away the Script and Engage the Imagination.

A quality infant and toddler toy can be used in many ways.

A quality toy can be used in more than one way and will grow with your child. For example, a set of nesting blocks can be used for many things: filling, dumping and stacking when your toddler is young, and as car garages, towers, for sorting, and homes for animals as she grows!

A quality infant and toddler toy engages the senses.

Young babies learn by using all of their senses. They like play that involves materials with a variety of texture, as well as lots of physical contact, singing and dancing. For older toddlers, play with sand, finger paint and shaving cream provides opportunities for learning using touch, smell, sight and sound.

A quality infant and toddler toy allows children to use their imaginations.

Look for stuffed animals or dolls that aren’t from a TV show, or other media, to allow your child to create her own play ideas. Developing creativity and problem solving skills is important for life long learning.

A quality infant and toddler toy lets children make decisions about their play.

A quality toy does not do something for the child. Instead, the child finds pleasure and satisfaction from doing something to the toy. For example, a soft and simple doll can do whatever your child imagines, while a battery-operated doll that talks limits what your child might pretend.

What does this kind of play look like?

When you child builds with blocks, she is learning many important skills such as: creativity as she creates a unique structure of her own design; physical development as she develops fine motor skills; and thinking as she explores relationships among object size, shape and balance.

When you share a book with your little one, you are developing social and emotional skills through parent/child bonding; language development and literacy skills as he learns new vocabulary, enjoys hearing stories, and learns to “read” the pictures to see what is happening; and creativity as you are supporting the development of his imagination.

With permission from the Child Life Council,  PlayopolisToys is pleased to share this most informative and thought provoking article with you, section by section. TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, reprinted from the Winter 2010 Child Life Council Bulletin.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play