They’re Heeere! Brand New Editions of “The Expectant Father” and “The New Father” Are Out

The brand-spankin’-new, updaed, revised, improved editions of The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be (Fourth Edition) and The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year (Third Edition) are here!

With more than a million copies sold, both are considered the classics in the field. They’ve been completely revamped for the modern dad and feature the very latest research and discussions for today’s fathers.

Dairy Deception and Thriving without Milk

Alissa Hamilton, author of Got Milked?
Topic:
The great dairy deception and why you’ll thrive without milk.
Issues: The major players in promoting milk in the U.S.; how milk makes us sick and increase the risk of bone fractures; the need to balance calcium–which we get a lot of–and Vitamin D and magnesium (which we’re not getting enough of).

Potty Training + Got Milked?

Jamie Glowacki, author of Oh Crap! Potty Training.
Topic:
Everything modern parents need to know to do it once and do it right.
Issues: How do I know if my child is ready; why won’t my child poop in the potty; how do I avoid power struggles; How can I get their daycare provider on board? what about nighttime? why children regress.

Alissa Hamilton, author of Got Milked?
Topic:
The great dairy deception and why you’ll thrive without milk.
Issues: The major players in promoting milk in the U.S.; how milk makes us sick and increase the risk of bone fractures; the need to balance calcium–which we get a lot of–and Vitamin D and magnesium (which we’re not getting enough of).

Don’t Know Much About…

Whether you call it the “summer brain drain” or the less-catchy “summer slide,” the sad fact is that most children forget a lot over the summer. According to the National Summer Learning Association (http://www.summerlearning.org/), “students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.” Low-income students do worse than their middle-class peers. The result is that, on average, teachers have to spend the first 3-6 weeks of the new semester reviewing the previous year’s material instead of teaching new material. This week, we review several products that will put a plug in that brain drain.

 

super genius - multiplication super genius - 5 gamesSuper Genius (Blue Orange Games)
Super Genius is a collection of five very clever games that are designed to be used at home or in school to help early elementary age children learn, review, and master basic math facts and sight words. The basic platform is the same throughout: match something on one card with something on another. With the math games (Addition and Multiplication) about half of the card have five equations (2+3, 2×4) and the other half have five numbers. With the word-based games (First Words, Reading 1, and Reading 2) half the cards have pictures and the others have words. We’re not sure how they did it, but there’s always one match between any cards in the two decks. Each Super Genius game comes with instructions for how to play five different matching games. Some require memory, some speed, some both. What’s especially nice is that the names of those games and the basic rules are the same in each set. So kids will be able to move from reading to math and back again without having to learn new rules. All games can be played with 1-6 players. The reading games are targeted to kids 5 or 6 and up, and the math ones for 7 or 8 and up. And all take a maximum of 15 minutes to play. Prices ranges from about $8 to $14 at your favorite retailer. Or visit http://www.blueorangegames.com/

 

talking USA puzzleTalking USA puzzle (Discovery Kids)
Every year we hear the results of surveys that show that American school children can’t find China, Iraq, India, or most other countries on a world map. That’s bad enough, but the real shocker is that a lot of Americans (some estimates go as high as 20%) can’t even find the U.S. on a map. And if they can’t locate the country, they’ll have a really tough time identifying individual states. The Talking USA puzzle will definitely help with that. There are two components: The largest is a colorful puzzle with pieces that are shaped like each of the states (although a few of them combine some of the smaller east-coast states). Push on the state and you’ll learn its slogan, capital, and a fun fact. The other component is the USA Fun Fact Map that has a visual hint for each state and a series of statements. The object, of course, is to match “This ‘Pine Tree’ state produces 99% of all the blueberries in the country” with Maine. Although this puzzle is theoretically for kids, geographically challenged grownups will learn plenty. (At the very least, people on the coasts will be able to stop saying, “somewhere over there” when asked to identify a state on the opposite coast. Although, in defense of the West, some of those East Coast states are really, really small.) Batteries included. Comes with a pull-out storage drawer to keep the pieces from getting lost. About $30.

The Importance of Being a Blockhead

dad kids and tower

dad kids and towerDear Mr. Dad: My husband and I are new parents and our baby is going to have his first birthday in a few weeks. We both work in tech and we’re really excited about getting a tablet for him. There seem to be so many options out there and we’re a little overwhelmed. Should we get an iPad or is there a better choice for toddlers?

 A: Yes, the Internet is full of videos of very young children happily swiping away on their tablets. But the best tablet for your baby is no tablet at all, at least not for a while. In fact, if I had to recommend one toy that’s an absolute must-have for every nursery, it would be a nice set of blocks.

But before I tell you why blocks are so great, let’s talk about why tablets are such a poor choice for babies.

  • The more time a baby spends interacting with a screen, the less time he’ll spend interacting with real, live humans—which is a lot more important. Tablets are great for a lot of things, but they can’t teach verbal- or social skills.
  • Although research on babies and tablets is in its infancy, early results aren’t very pretty. Researchers (and day care providers) are finding that toddlers who spend a lot of time playing with tablets are developmentally lagging in terms of muscle tone and hand-eye coordination (swiping takes a lot less dexterity and coordination than stacking blocks or picking up tiny objects). One app company, Tiggly, has taken some excellent steps to bridge the gap between swiping and developing actual fine motor skills. But the rest of the industry has a long, long way to go.
  • As kids get older, screen time is associated with weight gain, behavior problems, repetitive stress injuries, sleep problems, and low cognitive performance.

Okay, so what’s so great about blocks?

  • They help your baby develop hand-eye coordination as well as grasping and releasing skills.
  • They teach your baby all about patterns, sizes, categories (big ones with the big ones, little ones with the little ones), gravity, balance, and structure. These mini lessons in math and physics lay the foundation for your baby’s later understanding of how the world works.
  • They teach good thinking skills. “Taken from a psychological view-point,” wrote Albert Einstein, a guy who knew a thing or two about thinking, “this combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought—before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which can be communicated to others.”
  • They can help your baby grasp the difference between things he has control over (such as which blocks he wants to use and how high he wants to go), and things he doesn’t (such as the law of gravity, which keeps pulling down his towers).
  • They teach perseverance. Building a tower—or anything else—out of blocks can be an excruciatingly frustrating experience for a baby. But along the way, he’ll learn that if he keeps working on something long enough, he’ll eventually succeed.
  • Research by Dimitri Christakis and his colleagues at the University of Washington has found that kids who play with blocks have better language skills and watch less TV than those who don’t.
  • The best thing about blocks is that they encourage parents to get down on their hands and knees and spend time with their children, playing, laughing, and learning.

Finding the right blocks can be just as overwhelming as finding the right tablet. For reviews and recommendations, do a search at http://parentsatplay.com/

Would You KINDly Exercise with Me?

I partnered with Life of Dad and KIND for this promotion, but all the opinions are mine.

I’ve been an exercise addict for as long as I can remember. I played little league baseball, then lettered in baseball and swimming in high school. Later, I competed in martial arts, worked out at the gym, and ran, and I still play in the “old Jewish guy” adult softball league, and do some rather brutal at-home workouts like “Insanity.”

Over the years, I’ve tried to pass on my love of sports to my daughters but haven’t been entirely successful. It took me a while to figure out that perhaps seeing me completely drenched in sweat or watching me heal from martial-arts inflicted bumps, bruises, cuts, broken bones, ACL tears, and reconstructive surgery didn’t convey the message that being athletic is fun.

But I never gave up. My oldest two, now living on their own in New York have discovered the joys of spin classes and yoga, and the youngest has played softball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and is a competitive swimmer. Sometimes we’ve worked out together, but most of the time not (the exception being walking and biking).

So when I heard about the #KINDMilesMatter challenge, I jumped at the chance to participate. The challenge gave us the perfect excuse to do physical things together, plus we’d be helping out a favorite local charity (KIND Snacks will donate a bunch of its healthy, delicious bars and other snacks to the Alameda County Food Bank).
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