The Importance of a Playroom

importance of a playroomTo children, play is serious business. It’s essential to the development of their intellectual, physical, and emotional health. From our perspective, play can look like silly fun, but to children play is how they experiment and observe the world. A playroom is important because it gives kids a dedicated space to play without interfering with the rest of the home.

No More Bedtime Energy

One of the biggest benefits of having a playroom is called “space conditioning.” Children (and adults) develop mental moods to inhabit when they visit a particular space. (This applies to work, a store, the gym, and anything else too.) In the playroom, kids become conditioned to play and explore as they please. In the bedroom, they learn to calm down and prepare to sleep. However, if the bedroom and the playroom are the same room, these mental modes can be become confused.

A Place to Store Everything

If you’re tired of tripping over countless toys all over your house, a playroom is a solution. It gives you a space to leave everything so you aren’t constantly putting it away. If company drops by suddenly, all you have to do is close the door. If you use some clever organization methods (like low-to-the-floor storage and picture labels), kids can help keep the room tidy. Plus, toys don’t leave the room so they don’t go missing.

Children Are Influenced by Their Surroundings

Kids are natural explorers. They are drawn to the things around them. If they spend time in a room filled with things that don’t facilitate learning, they won’t learn. You can fill a playroom with plenty of open-ended toys that allow your kids to experiment and try new things. For example, an excellent playroom would have a section devoted to costumes and dress up, a table for arts and crafts, and an easy-to-access shelf full of books.

A Playroom in any Home

Playrooms are so beneficial that there’s a growing trend of families who are combining children into one room in order to use a spare bedroom as a playroom. At the younger ages, you might be able to spur your child’s development by having them sleep in the same room as sibling in order to move the toys to the other bedroom. Of course, eventually they will age and you’ll want to give them their own space.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are patented footed baby pajamas for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Plus Zippyz are a unique baby shower gift! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Photo Credit: ThrasherDave via Compfight cc

7 Tips to Encourage Creativity During Playtime

encourage creative playPlay time is an important part of growing up. In today’s busy world, we sometimes forget that for little minds, play is learning. If we want to give our children the best life we can, the first years have to involve lots of play, alone and with others. Here are some ways you can stimulate creative play.

1. Make time for play.

Play shouldn’t be something your kids do between errands, school, and chores. It’s an important part of growing up and you should make sure they have ample free time to get to it. They don’t need packed schedules and direct stimulation; they need to explore the world in their own way.

2. Eliminate some after school programs.

Many parents think they need to cram as much as they can into their kids’ day to boost their development. This often backfires. The kids are exhausted and bored, so they don’t pay attention and disregard whatever they’re being taught. These parents have good intentions, but they likely aren’t helping. A few extra-curricular activities are good, but leave time for free time.

3. Accept chaos.

When your kids (babies and toddlers) in strong, developmentally beneficial play, you’re going to have an untidy home. They’ll pick up and discard toys as their game requires. Don’t chase them around, cleaning up their mess. The goal is to let your child’s mind wander and take her where it will. In fact, dive into the game with her!

4. Offer open-ended toys.

Board games and arts-and-crafts are fun, but they don’t offer many developmental advantages. These can only be played with in a certain way, so your child doesn’t have the opportunity to use his or her imagination. Stock your playroom with dress up costumes, blocks, dolls, toy cars/trucks, and anything else that can be played with in many ways.

5. Start the imaginative game yourself.

If your kids are struggling to come up with something to play, dive in yourself. Recruit them to help you explore an alien planet, invite them to your tea party, or enlist them in your army to slay the dragon. Your kids will quickly follow.

6. Tune off the TV.

The television is easy entertainment. It’s pleasing and doesn’t require any work on your child’s part. As the stories are laid out, each character and plot become more predictable and less imaginative. Switch off the TV and (if you can) hide it in a cabinet. TV has its uses, but it shouldn’t be the primary mode of entertainment for young minds.

7. Invite other children to play time.

Your children will, over time, fall into patterns when they play with each other. One is the hero, the other is the sidekick. One is the good guy, the other is the bad guy. These routines don’t give them a chance to explore other perspectives and build empathy. By tossing some kids into the mix, you shake up their routine and get their brains working. Don’t schedule arts and crafts or plan out the activities, just let play time happen.

baby play matGuest Blog by Jennifer Jacobellis, founder of Baby J

Jennifer Jacobellis started Baby J when her son was just a few months old. She ventured out to mommy and me classes and play groups, armed with just a blanket for him to lie on. After class, she would fold up her blanket and stick it in the diaper bag, knowing that when she got home it would have to go straight into the laundry basket. There had to be a better way!

One day she decided it was time to solve this problem. She ran to the fabric store and began tinkering. She designed this baby play mat with her germ-a-phobe tendencies in mind, as well as being soft, baby friendly, and chic. The Baby J play mat was born!

For more information, visit www.babyj.com

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann via Compfight cc

8 Playtime Ideas to Boost Baby’s Development

playtime that boosts developmentWe all want our children to be as smart as possible. Let’s face it, smarter people tend to (not always, but often) lead easier lives, perform a job that doesn’t tax the body, and even make more money. Who wouldn’t want that for their children? We can usher them in that direction by taking steps to improve their brain’s development earlier in life. Play time isn’t all fun and games – it’s full of learning! Here’s how you can help.

1. Encourage babbling.

When your baby speaks gibberish to you, he’s actually attempting to communicate. Don’t disregard him or speak baby talk back. Respond as if he said something meaningful and then pause for his part in the dialogue. You’ll encourage speech development this way.

2. Arrange messy play.

Set up a space and then let your baby experiment with messy play materials, like water, mud or sand. These textures give him a chance to interact with something unusual and unlike anything he’s experienced before.

3. Include other children.

Before a year old, kids aren’t really capable of playing with one another, but just playing nearby can improve their development. They’ll witness how the other baby behaves and how he/she is using toys. It’s a different perspective.

4. Start the day with activity.

Be as active as possible early in the day. Early activity sets a tone for the body. Your baby will be awake and inclined to take in as much as possible. A slow start can leave your baby sluggish and unwilling to play.

5. Avoid overstimulation.

During play time, you want to let your baby move from toy to toy at his own pace. Don’t bring too many toys into the play area. Too many options can be overwhelming and force little minds to shut down or become cranky.

6. Skip playtime when your baby needs something else.

Convincing your baby to enjoy play time while he’s hungry, wet, or crabby is futile. Even if you get him to push his truck or shake his rattle, his brain isn’t in the right mindset to gain much from it. Meet his needs first so he can focus on learning.

7. Create a passion for books.

Just because reading is a passive activity doesn’t mean books can’t be a part of play. Use books with large, colorful pictures of animals and people. Make silly voices and animal sounds to match the story. Be as entertaining as possible so your baby associates fun and silliness with reading, thus creating a lifelong enjoyment of it.

8. Play “mimic” games.

Games that require your baby to mimic your movements are excellent tools for development. Play games like patty-cake, peekaboo, this little piggy, etc. You can encourage movement by imitating the behavior once, then placing the toy in your baby’s hand and encouraging him to do the same. For example, show him how to shake a rattle by placing it in his grasp and shaking his wrist.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are patented footed baby pajamas for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Plus Zippyz are a unique baby shower gift! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

6 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Development Through Play

boost development through playMany parents believe that before formal schooling begins, there isn’t much you can do to help your child develop. This isn’t true at all. Play time is just as important as school lessons – perhaps more so when you consider that most development occurs during the first few years. You can give your child a leg up by making that playtime as meaningful as possible. Here’s how:

1. Schedule creative play time.

Structured play (like arts and crafts, lessons, or reading) has its benefits and should certainly be a part of every child’s routine, but your kids also need time for creative, unhindered play. Let your child play whatever he likes in whatever manner he likes. Don’t constrict games because they don’t make sense to you. If he flies his truck through the air or lassos a horse with a sock, let him explore and experiment.

2. Introduce other children.

You don’t need to come up with a schedule of activities for that next play date. Plop both kids in a room full of toys and games and stay nearby. By two and a half, your kid is developed enough to play with other kids, not just alongside. That means they’ll take each other’s cues, play the same game together and interact in a healthy way.

3. Encourage dress up play.

Pretending to be someone else is an excellent way to build empathy, objective understanding, and social skills. It lets them explore attitudes and behaviors, and give their imaginations a workout. Include some dress up costumes in the play room that your kids can easily access. Don’t discourage your child from using ordinary items as costumes (like a pot for a racecar helmet).

4. Switch off the TV.

The TV has its place and I’m not saying it’s bad for kids, but it doesn’t offer much in terms of development benefits. It’s an easy form of entertainment that doesn’t require much brain activity. It’s better to let your kids play pretend or toy cars or read than zone out in front of the TV. If you can, put your TV in a closeable cabinet so it’s out of sight.

I understand, however, that there are some great programs for kids that you should take advantage of, and sometimes you just need something to occupy your child while you take a quick shower.

5. Rotate some toys out of the playroom.

Interestingly, children can be overwhelmed by too many toys. If you have a generous family, your playroom might be filled to the roof. When your child has too many toys, he doesn’t fully experiment with each. Instead, he tends to play with the toy in the manner it was intended, which doesn’t work out his imaginative muscle. Store some toys in the attic or basement, and every so often switch them around.

6. Play somewhere else.

Eventually, your home will become unstimulating to your child. The blue carpet won’t be a river, it’s just carpet now. The bathroom isn’t an alien planet any longer; too many baths have ruined that room’s fun. Take your kids and a few toys one day and just change the scenery. Take them to a friend’s house, a play center, or simply outside.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are patented footed baby pajamas for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Plus Zippyz are a unique baby shower gift! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

The 6 Benefits of Sensory Play

benefits of sensory playSensory play are activities that give your child a chance to explore and discover the world using their senses. You can facilitate this learning by providing your children with sensory play opportunities. I’ve written before (here and here) about how you can create some.

When most people think about sensory play, they think about touch: sand and water tables, play dough and beads. Other senses can be incorporated as well, like sight (by using bright colors) and smell (by using strong odors) and taste (edible toys!).

Here are the benefits of sensory play.

1. Sensory builds nerve connections in the brain.

The first years of development are critical for the brain. Many of the brains pathways are created during this time period. That means stimulation during the baby and toddler ages is important. With more neural pathways, your child will be able to complete more complex tasks and work through difficult problems. In fact, as your child learns through his sense, he becomes better at learning with those same sense, compounding the benefit.

2. Sensory play enhances memory.

Like most abilities, memory can be improved by working at it. Sensory play gives children a chance to practice their memories by remembering how their play set behaves to their manipulations.

3. Sensory provides a pre-language learning environment.

Your child might be able to talk just yet, but he has been seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling since his first breath. He has an idea of how to use those senses well enough to use them to learn the world. That’s why babies and toddlers are so eager to put their hands (and mouths) on something new. Someday you’ll be able to explain concepts with words, but for now you need to appeal to his senses.

4. Sensory play develops fine motor skills.

Your child needs to develop two types of motor skills: fine and gross. Gross motor skills are things like walking, running, jumping. Fine motor skills are a bit harder to build, so you’ll have to give your child specific opportunities to learn. Sensory play items often have small pieces that need to be manipulated with precision, like buttoning, zipping, pinching, pulling and turning.

5. Sensory play is calming.

You have probably noticed that after bath time (a form of sensory play), your toddler is a lot calmer than an hour spent running around and roughhousing. Stationary play that requires lots of mental energy is a great way to get your kid to calm down for the evening. It regulates discomfort, anxiety, restless and agitation. Offer a little sensory play and a calm book, and your child will fall right to sleep.

6. Sensory play is an abbreviated form of the scientific method.

The scientific method, if you remember from school, is just the way we evaluate the world to get the best results. When you cross the street, you suppose cars are coming (that’s the hypothesis), check both ways (the experiment), and determine that the way is clear (your results). Similarly, children learn through sensory play by experimenting. When they touch something sticky, they learn that it won’t separate from their hands. When they touch water, their hand comes away wet. With each endeavor, they learn something.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are patented footed baby pajamas for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Plus Zippyz are a unique baby shower gift! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

3 Do-It-Yourself Sensory Toys for Babies

do it yourself sensory toysPlay is an important part of learning for babies, so it’s important that we (as parents) do everything we can to make that play time as meaningful as possible. Babies learn by watching and interacting with their environment. By offering sensory toys, we foster learning through discovering and experimentation.

You don’t need an expensive DVD set to teach your baby. You need something he or she can hold on to, manipulate, and change. Below are three sensory toys you can create a home, probably using items you already have.

Water Sensory Mat

Babies and toddlers get a thrill out of water sensory mats. Water mats teach hand-eye coordination and teach cause-and-effect. You can buy water mats at the toy store, even ones that baby can sit on for lots of movement, but it’s simple to make as well. Your kid will get a kick out of batting the objects around inside and manipulating the bag to move the contents around.

Fill the largest Ziploc bag you can get your hands on with water and some small objects that won’t break through the plastic, like glitter, confetti, paper cutouts, and even small toys. For the sake of tidiness, I like to add some duct tape around the bag’s seal just in case my son accidentally opens it.

Sensory Water Bottles

Water is involved in a lot of sensory toys because it creates all sorts of movement. Fill some used, cleaned water bottles with random items. Use anything that will make a great visual effect once the bottle is full of water. Pick items with lots of color. You could use glitter, marble, beads, buttons, paper clips, small toys, bouncy balls, pipe cleaners, googley eyes, coins, etc. Fill the bottle with water and glue the top down so it doesn’t spill. Your baby will love spinning around the bottle and watching the contents swirl.

Baby Bean Bags

Bean bags are fun because they have an interesting textural element. Babies can touch, manipulate and throw the bags. They have different properties and move differently than a typical ball. Use them to play catch without fear they will break anything or hurt anyone.

Using fabric (any kind will do, whatever is cheap at your local craft store), cut rectangular strips. Fold them in half (so one of the four sides of the bean bag is the crease). Sew the two sides adjacent to the crease so the top is open for stuffing. Turn the bag inside out (sewing 101 here!) and fill fil rice, pellets, or dried beans. (I like rice: it’s super cheap and has a soft, crumbly feel). Sew the remaining side good and tight so nothing spills.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are patented footed baby pajamas for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Plus Zippyz are a unique baby shower gift! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

5 Ways to Encourage Sensory Play

sensory play ideasPeople learn best when their senses are involved. After all, our senses are a key component of memory (can you think of a memory without a vision, taste, feeling, sound, or smell?).

Sensory play is any activity that stimulates your child’s senses. When their senses are aroused, they use scientific methods to discover, learn, and grow their brains. While active lessons (like piano lessons or karate classes) have their own uses, a big part of early development comes from creative play and free exploring.

To help them better understand their world, we want to give them play opportunities that stimulate their sense of touch, sight, smell, hearing, and even taste. Here are a few ideas to encourage sensory play, but don’t stop here! You’ll find many examples all over the web.

Jell-O Finger Paints

These easy-to-make finger paints are non-toxic and safe to eat. Basically you’ll make watered-down Jell-O that can be spread all over and cleaned up easily. If you make several flavors, you’ll fill the room with lovely fruit smells, too. Offer your child brushes or encourage him to use his fingers. Don’t worry if he spreads it all over; that’s part of the fun.

Click here for a recipe.

Quicksand

Using cornstarch and water, you can create your own quicksand! Quicksand is simply sand that has been infused with so much water than it behaves like a liquid. You can make quicksand in a bucket or tray, or fill a small kiddie pool (but monitor your children while they play). Let them slosh, splash and construct with the odd substance.

Click here for a recipe.

Play Dough

Play Dough is fun, but you never seem to have enough to make anything big. Fortunately, it’s easy to make at home out of water, flour, and salt. Create a generous amount of several different colors and encourage your kids to build anything they like. Show them how to stick it together to make colorful objects.

Click here for a recipe.

Sensory Tub

A sensory tub is a simple ideas designed to give your child a plethora of options. In a plastic tub or bin, include a variety of objects. Some parents like to center the objects on a theme that the child likes so he or she will be inclined to explore. Your child will find the different textures and colors appealing, develop his/her fine motor skills, and play creatively.

Click here for a recipe.

Sensory Bath

Similar to the sensory tub, the sensory bath incorporates a variety of items, but in water. Fill your tub with a few inches of water and add a variety of objects that your child wouldn’t normally come in contact with, like filled water balloons or small rocks. Let her play with these items and interact with the water.

footed pajamas for fast diaper changesWritten by Lisa Youngelson, Owner of Zippyz

Like most new moms, Lisa had been up night after night changing her newborn son’s diaper. She was so exhausted she could barely function, let alone match up the tiny snaps on her baby’s pajamas.

Frustrated by endless mis-snapping and re-snapping, Lisa found zippered pajamas, and thought her problems had been solved. That night when she unzipped her son’s pajamas, he started to cry from the shock of cold air. Although less time consuming, Lisa hated that she had to expose her baby’s entire body with the zipper. She felt her baby’s comfort should come first and yearned for the perfect footed pajama, which was both soft and cozy for her baby and hassle-free for mommy.

One night while feeding her son she thought of “Zippyz.” Zippyz are patented footed baby pajamas for easy and fast diaper changes with 3 snaps on the chest and a zipper from foot to belly. Finally, a solution suitable for baby AND mommy! Plus Zippyz are a unique baby shower gift! Along with her best friend and business partner Erica, Lisa decided make the diaper changing world a better place for all new parents!

For more information, visit www.shopzippyz.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Zippyz? Send your topic idea to: media@shopzippyz.com.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Zippyz makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, current-ness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.