More On Tablets And Electronics For Toddlers

First, let me be clear that I’m no expert on this topic. This is just based on what I’ve seen at home.

Kids are quick to adopt. No kidding right? We have a number of tablets and phones in our home and in very short order one of those quickly became “his tablet.” Now, this was entirely my fault as I loaded some flashcards and other games on that tablet specifically, making it the one he used regularly. Interestingly he didn’t use it obsessively as I’ve heard from other parents, perhaps due to the fact that we limited the apps installed, and kept them to learning (vs gaming) apps.

Regardless, it became his tablet… and it wasn’t designed for toddlers. It was an Asus Transformer Prime TF201 which isn’t made to bounce or have drinks spilled on it.

Solution? The Asus mysteriously disappeared and I picked up a LeapFrog Ultra Ultra. Here again we’ve limited our installed apps to those that include some manner of quiz even if paired with a game or two. My observations thus far:

  • The hardware isn’t super cheap. Now, you may say that it doesn’t seem too expensive relative to buying say a Nexus 7 or other similar low-priced tablet… but I say it’s not cheap based on the speed of the device. Build quality seems fine. Ours has been dropped several times and seems to shrug it off.
  • These devices are slow. The pricepoint isn’t rock bottom, so why they can’t build with better processors and more RAM I have no idea, but they are slow. That said, while my son sometimes gets frustrated, he seems willing to bear with it for now.
  • Games are much better than the free, and even paid games we tried on our Android devices. They’re not nearly as cheap mind you, but they seem appropriately priced. Note as well that if you start your app search by visiting sites like RetailMeNot you can usually find some pretty decent discount coupons to make them even more reasonable.
  • Games that we’ve tested for encourage learning, but don’t go far enough in my opinion. For example, we have a racing game that requires our son to answer simple math questions between rounds. Unfortunately, he is able to guess his way through as the questions get harder rather than having to stop and think in order to proceed. My expectation was that there would be some minimum accuracy threshold for answers in order to move forward, else you would have to start again. This approach has held true across a couple other games suggesting that either its just easier, someone has decided that it is effective despite appearances, or they would rather trade engagement for learning.

All this said, please don’t take the comments above to mean I wouldn’t recommend the device. It definitely serves a purpose. It is easy to use. It appears to be well built and forgiving. The games are entertaining. There is an element of learning built into even racing games and the like. The price-point isn’t terrible. That said, I anticipate the request for something faster, sleeker and with better games in a couple years (and would be somewhat disappointed if it didn’t come).

LeapFrog LeapPad on

Who Would Buy Nikes For Toddlers?

Who would buy Nikes for a toddler? I would.

For a while I was of the mindset that spending money on brands like Nike, Adidas, etc for a toddler was foolishness. We bought our little guy (now not so little) whatever was well priced when he needed a pair, and fit his feet. What made me change my mind? Well, we noticed that at around age 3 he started to complain about going for walks that were more than a couple blocks long. It didn’t matter which shoes he wore, he would ask to be picked up after a couple blocks. We tried several pairs, thinking that it could be the shoes didn’t fit well, but it didn’t seem to matter. On a whim when we were searching for new shoes we tried on a pair of Nikes and as soon as they were laced up he started to hop in place smiling. Crazy. To be honest I still figured it was a fluke, but we went ahead and bought them as they were on sale.

Fast forward to that weekend and we asked him if he wanted to go for a walk. His response was much as before but we went ahead and got him dressed and went outside. Put simply it was the longest walk we had in months and not a single complaint. He walked (often ran) the entire way and from that point forward was excited to get outside.

So, I take back everything I said / believed about higher end athletic shoes not being worthwhile for toddlers. Since then we’ve stuck with it and wouldn’t change it for anything. Don’t believe me, give it a shot. Buy a pair that fit and take them home. Let your toddler wear them around inside the house (you can always take them back if they’ve not been worn outside) and see how they react.

Making Tooth Brushing Fun (AKA Getting Them To Brush For Themselves)

We’re lucky in that our little guy never really had an aversion to having his teeth brushed. I can’t say that he enjoyed it, but once it was established that we brushed teeth after meals he would consistently endure the process. That said, he would NOT take the initiative and work the brush on his own. It was definitely a task for Mom or Dad to initiate and perform.

How did we get past this? We bought him an electric toothbrush.

Actually, we bought ourselves electric toothbrushes first so he could see that it was the way we brushed our teeth and established it as something adults do, whereas the non-electric brushing was something for kids. Next we bought him his own and just set it down in front of him. He’d already seen how ours worked, so he was interested to see if this new brush would work the same way. Note as well that the brush we chose prominently featured characters from the movie Cars.

Surprise, surprise, by that evening he was turning it on and off and actually doing a pretty good job of brushing his teeth. At this point he takes the first stab after each meal and either Mom or Dad will bat clean-up and make sure that all areas are scrubbed. Best of all, if WE forget to get his toothbrush he’s sure to remind us!

We ended up getting him an Oral B Stages toothbrush for those interested.

Good luck all :)

Potty Training. An Update On Our Toddler

Last post I referenced an article that suggested one should not push potty training given that toddlers are generally fully capable of using the toilet, but for whatever reason choose not to. Further, that pushing them to use the potty rather than diaper can lead to issues like constipation now and later in life. We opted to follow this counsel in part due to the readings we found, and in part given the feedback from our daycare provider who has seen many, many children over the years of all personalities and schedules. I’m glad we did.

About four weeks ago our little one began to use the toilet much more frequently. Today it is the exception for him to soil is diaper vs. tell us that he has to use the potty and walk upstairs on his own to do so. Initially it was progress at home only, with reliance on diapers whenever we were traveling, or at someone else’s home. Roughly three weeks ago he decided that using the potty at his Grandfather’s place was ok, and earlier this week this willingness was extended to his Grandmother’s as well.

We’ve taken potty training / toilet related books out of rotation so as to remove any additional stress and it seems to be working well. We do asks occasinally if we’re at a time that typically would have seen toilet use, but otherwise leave him to tell us when he needs to go. We do cheer him on whenever he says he needs to go, and accompany him to the bathroom cheering all the way.

Now, granted we still use incentives as part of the exercise and have no immediate plans to remove these, but progress is progress and we’re thrilled, as is he! It’s been several days since the last time he woke up with #2 in his diaper, or didn’t make it to the toilet in time in the morning. Number 1 remains an issue, but its improving as well.

Next steps? Pull-ups and underwear when he’s ready, and having him wipe on his own.


Potty Training And The Argument For Not Starting Early

Our son is continuing to work on his toilet training, having just passed the three year mark. I have to admit that it’s been a source of some frustration for me since a) I know he knows when he needs to use the toilet and is able to do so should he choose, b) he often doesn’t choose to when there’s something more interesting going on and of course c) many of the other children at his daycare are already toilet trained or well on their way to being so (shame on me for allowing this last item to influence me).

Today I stumbled across an article that suggests that the approach most parents seem to be taken these days is misguieded.
The article is here: A Doctor Responds: Don’t Potty Train Your Baby

I’ve pulled out some of the more interesting statements to whet your appetite.

The Oniciucs may be thrilled and proud that their daughter knows how to hold her pee and poop, but from my perspective, they should be concerned. For proper bladder development, young children need to pee and poop without inhibition.


In toilet-trained children, chronic holding is the root cause of virtually all toileting problems, including daytime pee and poop accidents, bedwetting, urinary frequency and urinary tract infections.

Oh, and let’s not forget:

In truth, mastering the toilet has nothing to do with brainpower. Parents who wait until later to train their children aren’t treating babies as “stupid” and neither are they lazy; they’re wisely allowing their child’s bladder to develop in a healthy manner.


Parenting Cheat Sheet: Helpful Resources From Reddit Of All Places

Reddit may not be a site often associated with positive parenting, but for those of you not aware, r/parenting does exist and it’s FULL of interesting and potentially helpful resources.

Here’s a thread to get you started: Resources to help you be a better parent.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Were They Appropriate Then? Are they Appropriate Now?

My wife and I would never allow our son to watch the new Grimm tv show that kicked off last year, yet the basis of that show is Grimm’s Fairy Tales, stories that I can remember hearing/reading when I was young. Granted, the versions my mother told me weren’t as grisly as some of the originals, but still, they weren’t the pleasant, sugary stories that we tend to read our little one.

I would be really interested to know how many people do read Grimm’s Fairy Tales to their children, and at what age. Further, I’d like to know what the concensus is regarding the impact of these types of stories on a child’s development. Are such Fairy Tales appropriate? Were they ever?

Are Grimm’s Fairy Tales too twisted for children?

Just to refresh your memories, there are the Disney versions… and then there are the originals. Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and the like have various versions and the originals certainly aren’t child-worthy. In fact, today most of them wouldn’t garner anything close to a PG rating.

The following article documents some of the original storylines: Top 10 Gruesome Fairy Tale Origins

Holding Your Child Back A Year From Kindergarten. AKA “Redshirting”

Today was the first time I’d heard this concept referred to as redshirting and frankly it made me chuckle in the context of kids and kindergarten. It was NOT the first time I’d heard the concept discussed as it’s surfaced many times over the past year, particularly in discussions with some of our friends in the southern US.

What is redshirting? Redshirting in the context of kids and kindergarten is the practice of holding your child back from kindergarten for a year (usually) because they are born later in their calendar year. The reasons I’ve heard are so that a) your child isn’t that much younger, and potentially further behind developmentally (I would think this would be more a reflection of the child’s personal developmental stage rather than something that should be decided purely based on age), b) your child isn’t significantly smaller than some of the older children (some folks mentioning sports / physical activity abilities as well as their ability to generally hold their own on the playground).

I’m against the practice as a general, age-based decision. Purely based on age, I’m against it. Based on developmental stage and your child’s personal needs I’m all for it. The increase in consideration of redshirting strikes me as a symptom of some issues at the parental-level that might be better addressed or focused on. Why are we concerned about sports ability of a child in kindergarten… shouldn’t we just be letting them explore their world with friends and leave the competition for a later date?

Anyway, the following article includes some additional thoughts and links that anyone reading this might find interesting. Enjoy.
Redshirting: to enter kindergarten or not… that is the question

Bereavement Rates on Westjet

I posted quite a while back on the strategy we used to ensure our pre-2 year old was left with a full seat during those two years when he was able to travel as a lap infant.

This post is one for those unforunate times when you might have to travel due to the loss of a family member. We recently found ourselves flying across Canada more than once in a short period of time due to illness, and unfortunately, ultimately the death of a close family member. Under the stress of the time we didn’t think to look into the options available to reduce the cost of this travel under such a circumstance. Westjet does offer bereavement fares and I wanted to call out a couple notes to share our experience.

1. Westjet bereavement fares don’t necessarily translate to a reduced fare price. If you have enough advanced notice to benefit from the lowest, or middle fare tranche you’re unlikely to get a discount on the price of the ticket. That said, by contacting Westjet and arranging for a bereavement ticket you will be provided with additional flexibility than you would have with a standard ticket. It was my experience that the bereavement fare ticket was priced at the same pricepoint as the middle tier tickets.

2. If you’re booking last minute and find yourself with only the most costly fare option available to you then calling Westjet for a bereavement fare ticket is definitely worthwhile. Not only will you gain the flexibility that goes along with the bereavement ticket, but you’ll find that Westjet will provide a discount on the ticket price itself.

3. If you forget to book a bereavement ticket, or weren’t aware at the time of booking you can contact Westjet and they will apply the benefit after the fact. For example, my wife and son joined me as I’d flown earlier to our destination. They booked day before and so paid the full fare price. We called Westjet several hours later and explained that our travel was due to a death in the family and they graciously revised their ticket to a bereavement fare, with the only cost being that they were reseated from their priority seats to positions further back in the plane. Definitely worth it so save almost $500 across two tickets.

I hope someone out there finds this helpful, because worrying about cost is the last thing you need when dealing with the death of a loved one.