Monday, November 19, 2012

Stage Three Toys We Love

Stage three... your baby has mastered some powerful gross motor skills like sitting, crawling or cruising and experimenting with self-feeding. He is now interested in the finer things in the toy box and is often able to use a toy as it was intended as well as in many other creative ways. So let’s go holiday shopping.

(Got a little one in an earlier stage? Check out Stage One Toys and Stage Two Toys.)

1. Classic Doodler With 2 Stampers - Classic Purple The Magna Doodle is an easy to use, mess free magnetic drawing board with a chubby stylus that is easy to grip. Your baby will enjoy her all important first scribbles and you don’t have to worry about her mouthing the “pen”. $19.95 at Amazon.

Mini Magnadoodle—Fisher-Price Travel Doodler Pro.Same great toy but in a smaller size so you can take it with you to occupy your baby in the car, the waiting room, or on vacation. $9.99 at Amazon.

Magnadoodle Table—Crayola Sit 'N Draw Travel Table.This version of the drawing board has pros and cons. It is in a mini table perfect for little ones who want to sit or kneel, or even stand while they draw. However, the slide eraser is difficult to manage and your child might require assistance from you to make it work. The stylus fits too snugly in its holder and your child will probably not be able to get it out by himself. These drawbacks have earned it bad reviews. About $35 through Amazon but only 24.99 at Bj’s Wholesale Club.

2. Baby Doll. Young children, girls and boys, are very interested in babies. Your little one is beginning pretend play and will enjoy interacting with their own baby to bottle feed and hold. Having a baby doll is a terrific way to introduce your child to new or stressful experiences like potty training or going to the doctor. You can model what will happen and encourage your child to help with the activity. Any baby doll that looks realistic will do. The baby doll pictured here is the You & Me Mommy Change my Diaper Doll - Boys available at Toys R Us for $14.99.

3. AeroMat Weight BallBy now your baby is ready for a weighted ball. Playing with a heavier ball will help her build muscle strength and is a great way to get in some physical therapy while having fun. After all, what better thing is there to toss at a tall tower of blocks but a weighted ball? The 2 lb version is $19.49 at Amazon.

4. Alex Toys Learn to Dress MonkeyBy now your baby is probably cooperating while getting dressed. He is beginning to get interested in how his clothes work and the Learn to Dress Monkey is the perfect practice friend. The monkey’s clothes have different textures and offer opportunities to snap, button, and zip. As your child grows and gains more fine motor skills he can practice lots of other dressing activities as well. $29.59 at Amazon.

5. Pacific Play 6' TunnelNow that your little one is on the move encourage his travels (and coordination and gross motor skills) by getting him a tunnel to crawl through. The tunnel folds up flat and is stored in a zipped bag when not in use. $29.09 at Amazon.

6. Battat Woofer GuitarThis guitar is easy to play and has 20 songs that play in three modes (electric, acoustic, and hound dog howls). Your baby can strum the strings or push the many buttons to explore musical notes and sing along. This very entertaining toy has volume control and an automatic shut off to conserve its 3 AAA batteries that come with it. $32.78 at Amazon.

7. Learning Resources Pretend and Play Dish SetEncourage your baby’s developing pretend play with an activity that he is very familiar with, eating! Your baby will have so much fun trying to feed you, or his baby doll, or his stuffed animals with this set of dishes and eating utensils. Pair it up with a play food set such as the Melissa & Doug Birthday Party Cakefor some truly enjoyable imaginative play. $13.42 and $13.59 at Amazon.

8. B. Whacky BallYour baby will work on her motor skills while she pushes or whacks the balls down into the mirrored maze. Once they pop out into the tray, she can put them back up top and whack them again. The company (B.)that makes this toy (and the Woofer guitar above) gives 10 cents of every toy purchase to Free the Children. $25.39 at Amazon, also available at Target.

9. Chicco Baby JoggingIf your baby hasn’t taken that first step yet, she will be soon and a push toy is the perfect companion to motivate her to get up and go. Not all push toys are created equal... many tip over, or go too fast but this one will not do either because of its unique design. It also has six different positions so that it can be perfectly set to your baby’s height. Depending on the speed of walking, the lights come on progressively and the rhythm of the melody speeds up or slows down, stopping altogether if your baby stops. Takes 2 AA batteries. $55.77 at Amazon.

10. LeapFrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal SetYour baby can practice matching and placing magnetic pieces into the slots while learning the names and sounds of five farm animals. Even mismatched combinations are rewarded with a silly song. The toy has two different sound levels and takes 3 AAA which are included. $34.50 at Amazon.

The LeapFrog Fridge Wash & Go Magnetic Vehicle Set is newer and cheaper this year, and I am guessing (hoping) the quality is the same, so if you can’t find the Fridge Farm at a good price or just prefer vehicles, this is the version for you. $24.99 at Amazon.

Your Turn
Have you started your holiday shopping? Tell us what you got for your little one, or share about a favorite toy you already have.

Monday, September 24, 2012

BabyLegs Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Nancy, winner of the BabyLegs giveaway. Email me with your information so that you can get your leggings goody bag just in time for this chilly Fall weather.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the drawing... if you haven’t been out to the BabyLegs site in a while, you should go take a look at their new stuff. Oh la la, gorgeous! Here is just a sneak peek at a few of my favorites...







Friday, July 6, 2012

BabyLegs Giveaway

A while back I posted about how some babies have difficulty regulating their body temperature, and how using leggings can help but today I am going to share another reason why I love leggings.

Some babies hate shoes, or at least it seems that way. No matter the style or fit, they will pull them off or bite at them trying to get them off. This isn’t really a big deal at home (unless you are in that “working on standing phase” and want your little one to have some practice in shoes) but in the car it can be annoying, or even dangerous if your baby has a strong throwing arm.

I have one daughter who is relentless with her shoes and one or both of them is off by the time we reach our destination. The only way to keep her shoes on her is to cover them with leggings. She will still work at getting them off but most of the time her efforts are foiled.

(click the pic to see Kimani's leggings)

If you are tired of digging under the car seats for the missing shoe, or just want your baby to look super stylish and be protected from UV rays this summer, check out BabyLegs and grab a few pairs of sanity savers.

(click the pic to see Autumn's leggings)

Your Turn
BabyLegs is giving away a grab bag of leggings and other goodies worth $50 to one lucky Down Syndrome New Mama reader. To enter the drawing leave a comment here letting us know that you “liked” the BabyLegs Facebook page or that you are now following BabyLegs on Twitter by July 20, 2012.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Health Insurance for Babies with Down Syndrome

Today Ryan McCostlin, a team member at Bernard Health, is going to share the Top 5 Health Insurance Tips for new parents of babies with Down syndrome.

When new moms and dads have a beautiful new baby, the questions can seem endless. What are the right foods? ...the right child care? I need to buy Kidz Bop records, or is it okay if I play The Rolling Stones?

And while learning how to be a new parent can be a heck of a lot of fun, finding the right health insurance strategy... well... isn’t. . I happen to be someone who spends most of his time thinking about health insurance, and even I can admit that on the fun spectrum, shopping for health insurance can fall somewhere between tax audits and root canals.

That said, all parents spend time thinking about how to plan for expected and unexpected medical expenses. And for parents of babies with Down syndrome, there can be additional costs associated with neurological exams, cardiology exams, thyroid screening, etc. So while finding the right health insurance strategy might not be very much fun, it is important.

So, what should new parents of a baby with Down syndrome know as they begin to research health insurance options? Here are the top 5 tips:

ikn1. Depending on your income and your state’s rules, your child may qualify for a government subsidized health insurance program called Medicaid. The name for the program varies from state-to-state... for example, it’s called MediCal in California and TennCare in Tennessee, but each state’s program is a version of the federal Medicaid program. If your annual income is too high to qualify for Medicaid in your state, your child may qualify for another government program called CHIP. To research government subsidized options in your state, you can click here.

2. If you have group health insurance through an employer, most employers have a 30 day window from the birth of your child to add him/her to your plan as a dependent. If you choose to add your child to your employer’s health plan, make sure you share your good news with your HR representative so you can fill out the appropriate paperwork!

3. If you don’t have access to insurance through your employer and you don’t qualify for a government program, you can still get coverage for your child through an individual health insurance plan. Child-only plans aren’t available in every state, but because of healthcare reform, children cannot be denied coverage by health insurance companies as long as at least one eligible parent also applies.

4. Consider enrolling in a Health Savings Account based health insurance plan if your employer offers one... and especially if you’re enrolling in an individual plan for your family. At first glance, it may seem like a co-pay based health insurance plan is a better option, but Health Savings Account based plans often have a true annual out-of-pocket limit on spending. After you meet your deductible, your child’s healthcare is free for the rest of the year. Families with lots of healthcare expenses often find that Health Savings Account based plans can help them come out ahead

5. Health insurance can be complicated, and it’s especially important for new parents of Down syndrome babies to consider all of the available options. If you need more help, there are several resources available who can provide guidance. As you consider where to seek additional help for your family, know that there are three basic categories of advisors:

First, each state has a State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) that can answer basic questions about health insurance eligibility. Advice from SHIP employees is free, and you can find your state’s SHIP contact information online.

Second, you can find a health insurance salesman who may be able to help you research private health plans. Health insurance salesman don’t charge you anything up front, but they get paid when they sell you an insurance policy.

Finally, many families find it helpful to work with fee-based health insurance advisors who, for a flat fee, can help you navigate the complexities of the individual health insurance market. This option is similar to a tax advisor or CPA who helps you prepare your taxes. While the flat fees vary, health insurance advisors usually don’t work on commission, so their only incentive is to help you get the right strategy in place for your new child.
More about the author: Ryan joined Bernard Health in 2010 to help families save time, save money, and get peace of mind as they consider affordable health insurance options. Through a network of retail stores, Bernard’s team of licensed, non-commissioned health insurance advisors provide face-to-face advice to families across the country. He earned a BS from Vanderbilt and an MBA from Yale. Ryan can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Friday, June 22, 2012

We Are Lefties

Ok maybe not all of our children are lefties, but an uncanny (and disproportionate ) amount of people with Down syndrome are either lefties or ambidextrous. While 13% of the general population is left-handed, our (non-scientific) poll showed that 41% of people with Ds are left-handed and 10% are ambidextrous.

Got a lefty? Here is a wonderful website that sells everything you can think of in a left-handed version.

And the winner is...
Stephanie from Two Times the Fun is the winner of the $25 Amazon gift certificate. Email me with the email address that you would like the certificate purchased for, and I will get it right to you. Thanks to everyone who participated in the poll.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Resorting to Bribery :-)

There are hundreds of us, even thousands of us... parents, siblings, caretakers... people who know—really know— someone with Down syndrome. Combined we have a wealth of knowledge that surpasses any book written about Down syndrome, any expert’s opinion, and all stereotypes.

The only way to harness that knowledge is to come together and share it. Does left-handedness occur more often in the population of people with Down syndrome? Only we can answer that question. I am asking you to share your expertise on your child. I did a little begging on FB and now I am going to try bribery...

Take the poll over in the left column, leave a comment saying that you did (and how you voted if you want to) and you will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card. If 500 people take the poll, I will up it to a $50 gift card. (If you are one of those who already voted, just leave a comment saying so and you are in.)

Thank you for participating. Every one of us matters.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fact or Fiction? Many People with Down Syndrome Are Left-Handed

Being left-handed means that the right hemisphere of the brain is dominant. The right side of the brain controls music, art, creativity, perception, and emotions. It is what we would call the holistic thinking mode. Left-handed people are more likely to be visual thinkers.

Right-handers have left-brain dominance which controls the areas of speech, language, writing, logic, mathematics, and science. It is thought of as the linear thinking mode.

In most cases being left-handed is a matter of heredity... it must be passed down to you by your parents genes, however there is some evidence to show that people with neurological differences tend to be left-handed. People with Down syndrome would fit into that category.

It would be easy here to tap into personality stereotypes and suggest that maybe the 21st chromosome has something to do with right-brain dominance but instead I am going to go with personal observation. I have three children with Down syndrome, all biologically unrelated, and guess what? They all favor their left hand. The oldest is 5 and the youngest is 2, so none have completely settled on which hand it will be but for now they lean left.

Teaching a baby with Down syndrome to eat with utensils can be difficult if the baby is a budding lefty trying to use righty tools. My one daughter refused to self-feed using a spoon or fork and continuously ditched the utensils to use her bare hands. It was frustrating for both of us until I realized that she wanted to, and would, use utensils in her left hand to feed herself.

If you have a lefty, you may want to pick up a set of left-handed utensils for your budding eater. These EasieEaters curved utensils go for about $15 on Amazon.

If you are not sure yet which hand your sweetie prefers, you can get a set of Benders that your baby can practice with. I like these because you can bend them side to side or even up to suit your child’s current skills, though I find them to be only really useful with foods that stick to them because of their small bowl size.

Your Turn
Take the poll in the sidebar. Is your child with Down syndrome a lefty, righty or ambidexterous? Let’s find out if there is any truth to the left-handed rumor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Meet Annie & the Wobble Penguin Winners

Thank you to everyone who entered in the drawings and shared them on FB with friends.


The winner of the Meet Annie book was Twilson9608 and Stacy and Mike won the Go Baby Go! Bat and Wobble Penguin. If you will email dsmama your contact information, we will get your gifts out in the mail ASAP.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway—"Meet Annie"

Lisa Morguess who blogs over at Life as I Know It also has another blog titled, Turn the Page where she exclusively writes book reviews. She is an excellent and fair reviewer so I was pleased that she agreed to write a review of Meet Annie by Heather J. Scharlau-Hollis.


In this short and sweet book aimed at young children, we meet Annie who is just like you and me in all the ways that count to little kids: she likes to play with her toys, she likes to splash around in her swimming pool, and she sometimes gets in trouble. But Annie is also a little bit different - she has Down syndrome. Although the book doesn't explain what Down syndrome is, it touches on the fact that Annie looks a little bit different and learns a little bit differently, and that everyone is a little bit different in their own way, and those differences make us who we are. My favorite aspect of the book is how the author invites and encourages its audience to identity with Annie by asking a question at the end of each page:

"Sometimes my zipper doesn't zip right. I ask Dad for help. Do you ever need help?"

"Sometimes I cry when I get scared. Do you ever get scared?"

Encouraging empathy and compassion without resorting to condescension or stereotypes, this is a wonderful book that should have a place on everyone's bookshelf who is touched by a child with Down syndrome.

The author of Meet Annie, Heather J. Scharlau-Hollis, will send a signed copy of the book to one lucky winner. To enter the drawing simply leave a comment below by Wednesday April 18th. Good luck!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Adorable Charlotte

Lisa and Ian are proud to announce the birth of their daughter Charlotte... born on World Down Syndrome day! Charlotte has three big brothers and a big sister who all love her dearly. No blog yet but you can leave words of joy here or visit with Lisa in the FB group, “Our Adventures with Down Syndrome.”


If you would like our community to know about the arrival of a child with Down syndrome, please send an email to ds.mama with the baby's info and an email address or blog/website address of the baby's mom or dad.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tech Baby Loves the iPad

Don’t all babies just love electronic gadgets? T.V. remotes, cellphones, Wii consoles... how many times have you had to pry one of these no-nos from your little one’s grip? And it’s a well-known fact among the diapered crowd that toy versions of grown-up stuff really don’t cut it.


Consider getting your baby an Apple iPad. The iPad is a perfect toy for your baby because as she is playing with it, she is learning from it. And as she grows, it can grow with her into a diverse learning and communication tool.

Five Favorite Apps for Baby

soundshakerSound Shaker by Tickle Tap Apps 1.99 - touted as the 21st century rattle, Sound Shaker lets children create and play with chime, whistle, drum, barnyard animal and mystery sounds by simply tapping and tilting. Repeated taps generate new sounds, while longer taps grow sounds and trigger surprise animations. Tilting makes sounds spin and collide in whimsical combinations.

itsybitsyItsy Bitsy Spider by Duck Duck Moose 1.99 - A musical book based on the popular song, with fully interactive, original illustrations. Follow the spider through the captivating, inter-connected scenes as he goes up the water spout, comes down with the rain, and watches the sun dry up all the rain.

soundtouchSound Touch by Sound Touch 3.99 - Sound Touch has 6 categories, which are shown at the bottom of the screen as pictures – animals, wild animals, wild birds, vehicles, musical-instruments and household. Each page has 12 items displayed with bright, cute cartoon items. Tap a picture, and a real life photo of the item pops open, accompanied by the sound it makes. Tap the picture anywhere, and it disappears. There is a sound option in settings that makes it so that the app says the name of the item prior to making the sound.

peekabooPeekaboo Barn By Night & Day Studios, Inc. 1.99 - This cute app features barnyard animals and the sounds they make. Babies can open the barn doors to find a new animal animation by touching the screen. They’ll learn about cause and effect and become familiar with animal names and sounds. As a bonus, you can record your own voice saying the animal name.

talkingtomTalking Tom Cat By Out Fit 7 Ltd. Free- Baby’s first pet :-) Tom the cat responds to your touch and repeats everything you say or babble with a funny voice. When you pet him, he purrs.

Ok, stop. Yes, I know an iPad is a really expensive toy for a one-year-old, but consider it an investment. New iPads start at $500, and first generation iPads can be found on auction sites and lists for about $200-ish. Here are some ideas on how you might afford an iPad for your baby with Down syndrome.

Chip-in birthday gift: Perhaps for your baby’s first birthday you could create a chip-in fund and let family and friends know that you are trying to raise enough for an iPad for your little one.

Medicaid Coordinator Alternative Funding: If your child has Medicaid or the Medicaid Waiver, your coordinator may be able to find you grant funding for your baby’s iPad.

Win one: iPads are a popular draw for online fundraisers. Keep your eye out for the chance to win one. Usually you can get a drawing entry by donating a small amount or even just by posting the fundraiser on your FB, blog, or Twitter account. Right now through March 31st, Patti over at A Perfect Lily is giving away a beautiful brand new iPad 3 as part of a very special adoption fundraiser, so be sure to head over there and get an entry to win.

Update: Two more chances to win an iPad... (valid to 4/6/12) over at Our Chinese Butterfly and (valid to 4/8/12) over at The Stars Aligned.

Babyproofing the iPad
If you do get an iPad for your little sweetie, be sure to babyproof it with a back shelland a screen protector. You will be glad you did.

Your Turn
Do you already have an iPad for your child with Ds? What are your favorite apps?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Birth Announcement & Giveaway

For those of you who got all excited thinking I was going to announce the birth of a darling baby and then give him away on my blog, awww sorry ;-)

Lisa and Mark are proud to announce the birth of their son Connor. As you can see, he is one heck of a cutie. Lisa blogs at Life with Connor - Perfect with a Little Extra, so be sure to visit her there and watch this darling grow.



Now for the giveaway...


The Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Bat and Wobble Penguin looks like it might be fun for our little ones to practice gross motor (leg-extension) kicking and (arm-extension) pushing skills. I have a brand new one, but no baby to try it out with. So if you would like to win this toy, leave a comment telling Lisa how lucky she is to have such a scrumptious little boy and mention that you would like to be in the drawing. I’ll draw a random entry in mid-April.