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Tips for Keeping Baby Safe and Happy in the Car

(StatePoint) When it comes to car travel, families know that keeping baby safe and happy is essential, and understanding the latest expert recommendations is one of the best ways to help keep children as safe as possible.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its recommendation on how long children should ride in rear-facing car seats. The AAP removed the age guideline of 2 years old and now advises parents that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible until reaching the maximum rear-facing height or weight restrictions set by their car seat manufacturer, which for many children is well past the age of 2.

As children grow older and more curious, it can be trying at times to keep them rear-facing in their car seat. Here are some helpful tips to keep children happily rear-facing and to make car rides fun and enjoyable for all:

• Sing-along songs: It can be difficult to calm a baby from the front seat when traveling without another adult in the car. But the next best thing to seeing a parent’s face is hearing his or her voice. Sing lullabies or even your favorite song of the moment to soothe your baby.

• Control the temperature: Your car’s temperature can truly make or break an outing with your baby. Before strapping your little one into his or her car seat, turn on the air conditioning to cool the back seat or the heat to warm it up so that the car reaches a comfortable temperature sooner.

• Find the right car seat: There are several car seats available to keep children riding rear-facing longer. For example, Graco Extend2Fit car seats feature a built-in extension panel to provide extra legroom rear-facing. The extension panel is included on nine models, seven of which accommodate children up to 50 pounds, rear-facing. To learn more about these car seats, visit

• Play a game: Car games, like “I Spy,” are easy to learn and perfect for keeping rear-facing toddlers entertained. All passengers can play this interactive game and take turns picking out the mystery item for others to guess.

A smooth car ride is precious to parents, and, with these tips, you’ll be able to keep babies and toddlers safe and happy during every outing.


PHOTO CAPTION: Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats as long as possible.


Science Made Magical

(Family Features) When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but scienceat play. Observing the laws of physics or chemistry can, at first glance, seem too fantastical to be explained, but science can explain a lot.

These moments serving as creative ways to engage kids in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning may be one of the best tricks of them all. STEM touches many aspects of daily lives, and finding the connections between the classroom and the “magical” STEM moments of day-to-day life can inspire children and pique their interests in these topics.

Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science:

Rubber Pencil
By holding an ordinary pencil by the eraser between your thumb and index finger then shaking it at just the right speed, it appears to become made of bendable rubber instead of wood. However, it’s simply an optical illusion. The effect is due to visual persistence, which occurs when many different images blend into a single image in the human mind. This is the same reason people can see a rapid sequence of changing images and recognize it as a movie.

Vanishing Water
There is a popular magic trick in which a magician takes an ordinary looking cup, pours water into it and, after a series of gestures, appears to make the water disappear. The viewer is surprised when the cup is flipped over and no water drips out, as if it has vanished into thin air. The science and answer to this mystery is a substance called sodium polyacrylate. This is a “hygroscopic” substance, which means that it acts like a sponge and absorbs water almost instantly. When the cup is lined with this substance, any water that meets it forms a mixture that is a solid gel. Unassuming audiences think the water has suddenly disappeared, when in fact the mixture is simply stuck to the base of the cup.

The art of talking with the tongue and not moving the mouth or face is called ventriloquism. When a skilled ventriloquist does this sitting beside a puppet that has a moving mouth, the human brain is tricked into thinking the puppet has come to life and is speaking to the audience. It works because humans use their eyes to find sound sources. The area of the brain that processes sounds entering the ears also appears to process stimulus entering the eyes, providing a novel explanation for why many viewers believe ventriloquists have thrown their voices to the mouths of their puppets.

Knowing how the magic works doesn't necessarily make these tricks any less fun, and these simple tricks help teach children how STEM plays a role in everything, including fun and games. Another way to encourage children with STEM at an early age is encouraging them to participate in a program such as ExploraVision, the only STEM-related competition of its kind. It allows kids of all ages to create ideas for new technological innovations in response to current real-world issues. Participants work on their projects to supplement their science education, while also developing problem-solving, analytical and collaboration skills.

Parents and students can learn more about the competition and how to enter, and teachers can find free tips for engaging students, at

Photo courtesy of Getty Images



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Welcome to the Raleigh Kids Directory.  We  simplify the search for families to connect with local businesses by including all area services in one full color publication. Our publication caters to educational resources, camps, sports, child related activities, pampering for mom, and dads, and family events.

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5 Unique Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

(StatePoint) Flowers are always a classic selection on Mother’s Day, but for gifts that will truly make Mom’s day, consider the following ideas:

1. Self-care. Whether you bring the professionals to your home or plan a spa day, Mom deserves to be taken care of and treated well. A gift certificate is a great way to let her pick the services she wants á la carte, though many spas offer special package deals providing a greater value. Either send Mom alone for some deserved me-time, or make a day of it and join her so you can enjoy some quality time together.

2. Music. For musical moms with limited space, or moms looking to learn piano or hone their skills, consider gifting a keyboard with a slim profile. Weighing in at less than 25 pounds, the Casio’s PX-S1000 boasts the Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard with simulated ebony and ivory key textures, for a grand piano feel and a remarkable sound. And integrated Bluetooth technology lets you connect your device wirelessly. Complement this gift with a package of lessons or music to get her started.

3. Making a meal. Create memories together, and a new family tradition, by cooking one of Mom’s favorite or most notable recipes together. Not only will you be creating a delicious Mother’s Day meal, she can pass down the recipe to you while you spend quality time together.

4. Timepiece. Put a spin on the usual jewelry given on Mother’s Day, with an accessory that’s not only fashionable, but useful, too. For versatility that will complement simple, classic or retro glam looks, consider the Vintage Collection timepieces from Casio, which are offered in different metallic color combinations, such as gold and black, rose gold, silver, and even camo, and equipped with an LED-lit display face, a countdown timer and a 1/10th second stopwatch. They also feature a daily alarm, hourly time signal, and an auto-calendar, making them a necessity for anyone looking for fashion flare that keeps them on time.

5. Movie night. Is Mom a movie buff? Upgrade the cinematic experience by helping her create an affordable at-home theater. It all starts with the right projector. For a unique, high-brightness tool, consider a LampFree projector from Casio’s Advanced Series, such as the XJ-F210WN, which features two HDMI terminals as well as a USB power supply. It also has Intelligent Light Control, which senses ambient light in the room and automatically adjusts the projection brightness accordingly to ensure viewers have spectacular visuals any time of day and in any lighting conditions.


3 Popular Eating Plans You’ll See in the New Year

(Family Features) If you’re thinking about revamping how you eat in the new year, you might want to think twice about the trendy dairy-free plans that crop up on your social media feed – as they could leave you missing out on nutrients you need.

Three of the most popular and health-promoting eating plans of the moment – the Mediterranean Diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet and Flexitarian Diet – all include dairy milk as an important component, and according to a study in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association,” it’s hard to get nutrients you need without it.

New research also suggests adding an extra serving of dairy to the Mediterranean Diet makes it even more nutritious, boosting amounts of calcium, vitamin D and potassium without exceeding recommendations for nutrients to limit, like saturated fat and sodium, according to a study published in “The Journal of the American College of Nutrition.” A second new study found not only does incorporating more dairy improve the quality of the diet, it benefits health, as well – specifically improving blood pressure and levels of good cholesterol (HDL) compared to a standard low-fat diet, according to research in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” While the Mediterranean Diet typically includes around two servings of dairy a day, these studies built in 3-4.

The DASH Diet, long known for its positive effects on heart health, includes three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy per day. Good news for fans of whole milk: it may be just as effective when it includes full-fat dairy, too, according to recent research in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Researchers found a DASH diet that included whole milk and other full-fat dairy products lowered blood pressure just as much as the traditional version. 

As a high-quality, complete protein, dairy milk is also an important part of the Flexitarian Diet, which encourages more plants and less meat. Many plant-based proteins are incomplete, which means they don’t provide some of the building blocks your body needs. Dairy milk is also an important source of calcium, as substituting milk with non-dairy calcium sources like fortified soy milk or leafy greens can lead to gaps in other key nutrients such as protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin B12, according to a study in the journal “Nutrition Research.”

Instead of eating in a way that could leave you at risk of nutrient deficiencies, opt for a more balanced approach to the new year and consider a plan that includes dairy milk. Visit for more information and milk-inspired recipes.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


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The Juggle is Real


The juggle is real: Online students' tips to balance family, school

(BPT) - Balancing work, school and family can be a challenge. Some days might feel like more of a struggle than a juggle, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to have it all. In fact, one in four of the 17 million Americans enrolled as an undergraduate in a higher education institution is caring for a child, according to the National Center for Education. Many people in this position turn to online education to help make it possible to manage work, life, family and earning their degree.

Learning how to successfully integrate coursework into an already-packed schedule comes with practice (and patience!). It never hurts to receive advice from those who’ve been in similar shoes. Here are three tips from juggling connoisseurs who have experience completing their degrees online while raising a family:

1) Have patience and think about the big picture

Brian Hood juggled earning a bachelor’s degree in software engineering online with Arizona State University (ASU) while parenting young triplets. His road to graduation wasn’t without its fair share of challenges.

“My desk is in the middle of my house and opens to a room that doubles as my kids’ playroom. To say that I had challenges while trying to listen to lectures is an understatement,” Hood said.

Several times throughout his academic journey, he hit roadblocks trying to balance it all. “It was so frustrating, and at times, deflating. But then you take a step back, look at the situation, and ask yourself, ‘How do I do this?’ When you tell yourself that failure isn't an option, it becomes much easier to focus on finding a solution, rather than being consumed by the problem,” Hood said.

Hood’s expert tip: With young kids around, invest in a good pair of headphones, and be flexible, patient and willing to pause and re-watch your lectures.

2) Communication is key

For Cherise Shockley, the key to finding balance was opening a dialogue with her family and ensuring everyone was on the same page about her online degree program. “If you are married or have kids, you have to tell your family what’s going on. Explain to them that this will require a time commitment but, in the end, it will be worth it,” Shockley said.

Openness and honesty go a long way, according to Shockley, who earned her mass communication and media studies degree online with ASU. “You have to be organized and know that there are no shortcuts. If a problem comes up, make sure to speak up and ask when you need help.”

Shockley’s expert tip: When challenges arise — as they inevitably do — remind yourself and your family that anything is possible with sacrifice, hard work, faith and determination.

3) Make your family a priority

Robert Rutledge, an online student with ASU, earned a bachelor's degree in business with a concentration in global leadership while juggling a full-time job and parenthood.

Often, while he worked on his studies, his two younger children would come into his office and ask, “Daddy, are you done yet?” In these instances, Rutledge would take time to explain to his children what he was doing and why he was doing it.

His biggest piece of advice? Make your kids a priority. “It’s difficult for [children] to grasp the importance of the time you're spending on your education instead of with them — especially with younger children.”

Rutledge’s expert tip: Use study breaks as bonding time with your loved ones. Go for a walk or play a game with your children and come back to your studies refreshed and ready!

Managing everything can be overwhelming at times, but remember: completing your education can open doors to so many new possibilities for you and your family, such as the opportunity to advance your career, increase your overall earning potential and even pursue a personal passion.

With nearly 4.8 million parents pursuing degrees, remember that you're in good company and are now armed with some expert advice on how to successfully juggle life, learning and family. With the right support and resources, earning your degree is possible and there is no better time than now to get started on pursuing your educational dreams.


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Combatting Cold and Flu Season

(Family Features) When temperatures drop, the risk for illness, such as colds and the flu, rises. Each year, millions of Americans suffer from symptoms ranging from coughing, sneezing and congestion to aches, fevers and vomiting that can leave them feeling less than 100 percent.

While you may not be able to avoid illness entirely, you can take steps to protect yourself from the common cold and more serious bugs like the flu.

This cold and flu season, keep essentials on-hand from thermometers that can help you diagnose a fever quickly to humidifiers and heated blankets that can potentially help shorten your recovery time.

If cold or flu viruses happen to strike you or a family member this winter, it’s important to consult a medical professional with any health-related questions. Find more tips for fighting illness at

Easy, Accurate Temperature Readings

Many parents place speed, accuracy and ease-of-use at the top of their list when choosing the ideal thermometer. Consider the Vicks RapidRead Digital Thermometer, which consistently delivers a professionally accurate temperature reading in Fahrenheit or Celsius in only two seconds. To help interpret fever, the Precision InSight feature provides site-specific, color-coded guidance, since temperatures register differently between oral, rectal or underarm readings. Find more information at

A Warm, Comfortable Night’s Sleep

Sleep is essential for letting your body recover, especially when you’re feeling under the weather. A heated blanket or mattress pad can provide natural pain relief and help to relax sore muscles, ease tension, promote blood flow and increase body temperature to help fight fevers that often accompany colds and the flu. Often washer- and dryer-safe, featuring variable temperature settings and available in a variety of sizes to fit nearly any bed, a heated blanket can help you get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

Combat Dry Winter Air

The cold, dry winter air is an ideal breeding ground for the flu virus. However, using a humidifier can add moisture to the air, help fight cold and flu symptoms and aid in preventing dryness and irritation in many body parts, such as skin, nose, throats and lips. Available with a multitude of tank sizes and features to fit nearly any room in your home, some humidifiers even offer smart functions, rotating mist nozzles, programmable timers and automatic shut-off when they run out of water.

Reduce Airborne Germs

As the flu virus can survive for up to 48 hours outside of the body, good personal hygiene can play an important role in preventing the spread of germs. One way to do so is by coughing or sneezing into facial tissues, which can help reduce the amount of germs released back into the air. There are even antibacterial, aloe vera and eucalyptus varieties available, which offer added cold and flu fighting benefits while helping prevent dry skin from the excess nose blowing that often accompanies illnesses.

Warm Up with a Hydrating Beverage

Hydration is a key part of recovering from nearly any illness, and warm drinks like tea can help relieve a cough or sore throat by simulating salivation and secretions, which can help soothe and lubricate your throat. Having a high-quality tea pot on-hand that alerts you when your hot water is ready can ensure relief from a warm beverage is never more than a few minutes away.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (main image, heated blanket, tissues, teapot)







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5 Ways to Get Kids Excited About STEM Learning

(Family Features) Many of the growing problems around the world, from famines and food insecurity to climate change and profound poverty, need the contributions of brilliant scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technologists. Encouraging children to explore skills and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can help build a better future.

Whether a child pursues a formal career in STEM or just gains the background in related skills, that experience and perspective can be important in stimulating change. Unlock the potential in your child with these tips from the learning experts at KinderCare:

  1. Recognize people who advance STEM. When reading a book or watching a show featuring characters in STEM careers, such as doctors, mechanics or computer engineers, talk with your child about the characteristics those characters have in common, like a sense of curiosity or a willingness to try an idea that may or may not work. Taking time to point out any family members or friends with similar jobs or hobbies can help your child picture himself or herself in STEM-related roles.
  1. Identify outside-the-box places STEM lives. Technology, for example, can be used to conduct research, draw or create music – things that don’t always occur in laboratories, research centers or tech companies. Using technology to pursue other interests can open new possibilities for children to channel their interests into STEM careers. To build on any specific interests, such as robotics, the ocean or the universe, find activities in your area you can do with your child. For example, encourage your child to ask the zookeepers about certain animals he or she is interested in or research the lifecycle of a tree before taking a family camping trip.
  1. Focus on the process to instill confidence. Kids should understand failure is OK, so they’re more open to try something new and step outside their comfort zones. Encourage your child to explore his or her passions and interests more in-depth. Try to compliment desired behaviors, such as hard work, perseverance, grit and learning from mistakes, to teach your child success doesn’t come from always being right.
  1. Emphasize STEM-related skills. Curiosity, observation, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication are crucial in nearly all STEM-focused careers. By asking questions like “why?,” “how?” and “what if?,” and giving children the opportunity to explain the world around them instead of simply providing the answers, you can help spark curiosity and set the foundation for the development of more advanced skills.
  1. Don’t limit your child to gender stereotypes. Ensure your children know they have the ability to do and try things that capture their attention and align with their passions. Try to refrain from identifying certain toys or games as things that are just for boys or girls. All children should be allowed to play with and explore trucks, dolls, dinosaurs, kitchen sets and tool boxes. Try to avoid setting boundaries that could unintentionally channel a child in a different direction, and make sure your child understands the vast possibilities his or her future holds.

Find more learning resources to help create a better future at