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  • 5 Ways to Encourage Your Child’s Imagination

    by Micaela at Mindful Momma

    If you've ever listened in on a play date conversation between two friends or a gaggle of kids playing at the park, you know that kids are naturally imaginative. Little minds easily race off into make-believe worlds, returning only when the friend must go home or something else brings them back to reality.

    With benefits like improved social skills, increased self-confidence, stronger empathy and best of all - the ability to entertain themselves - it’s worth spending time encouraging your child’s imagination. Here are some easy ways to bring out the creative spirit in your child:

    Read Lots of Books

    A good story is a catalyst into another world. Whether the story is make believe or real-life; whether it happens near you or far, far away; a story can spark a child’s imagination and keep it burning well after the story is finished. Choose stories with characters you think your child can relate to in some way. Classic fairy tales, folk stories, fables and myths are wonderful imagination boosters, as is any adventure story with a hero and a lesson to be learned.

    Tip: Keep it green by borrowing books from your local library.

    Send them Outside

    Next time your kids are getting a little too comfortable in front of the TV or computer screen, send them on an outdoor adventure.  Try an open-ended scavenger hunt, where they get to choose what to look for. Take a nature hike and invent a story about the creatures you see. Or keep it simple with playtime in your own backyard. There’s nothing like a little fresh air to open up the mind and get those creative juices flowing!

    Tip: Have outdoor toys and gear in a place where kids can help themselves.

    Keep a Prop Box

    Prepare for one of those “I’m bored” moments by organizing supplies for creative play that you can pull out at a moment’s notice. These props can be anything from dress up clothes like costumes and hats, to miscellaneous household items to use as musical instruments, magic wands or whatever the imagination decides. Before you know it, your kids may be creating a play or putting on a puppet show!

    Tip: Instead of tossing old clothes, purses and other accessories, save them for the prop box.

    Buy Open-Ended Toys

    Give a kid a pile of blocks and you’ll never see the same thing built twice. That’s the beauty of open-ended toys – the possibilities are endless! Look for high quality, eco-friendly toys that will stand up over time, such as wooden blocks or pull toys, durable recycled plastic play food or organic cotton plush toys. A toy kitchen, doll house or other play structure is a wonderful catalyst for imaginative play and will be well worth the investment.

    Zenoobi pick: Green Toys Pizza Parlor

    Keep Craft Supplies Handy

    Drawing, painting and crafting are a perfect way to let your child’s imagination soar. Be prepared by stocking up on art supplies that are ready to go whenever the artistic bug bites. Since conventional art materials can contain toxic ingredients, look for safer, eco-friendly versions of popular items like crayons, paints and markers. Don’t forget that cardboard boxes and other material that you might otherwise throw out are great for creating free form crafts.

    Zenoobi pick: Artterro Arts and Crafts like Art Dolls Kit

    (image credit Jackie Popp via flickr cc)

  • Elements of an Eco-Friendly Nursery

    Kalon Studios

    by Micaela at Mindful Momma

    Most parents-to-be find themselves spending a lot of time dreaming about the day they bring their brand new baby home for the first time. By then they have spent countless hours and dollars preparing the nursery to be the most welcoming and nurturing place they can envision.

    What they don’t always consider is that a safe and healthy nursery goes beyond the cute décor, to elements that are often hidden from view. Environmental toxins lurk in many common products, from paint to furniture to fabrics. Given the fact that baby’s tiny little body is still growing and developing, the last thing you would want is for them to be breathing and touching something potentially harmful.

    Follow these tips to protect your baby from environmental toxins and also be kind to the earth that they will grow up in:

    Non-Toxic Paint and Flooring

    Conventional paint emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are harmful to breathe. Fortunately, a wide variety of no-VOC paint options are available so you can still have fun choosing colors for the baby’s room.  When choosing flooring, opt for solid hardwood or a natural wool carpet. Avoid conventional carpet as it can off-gas toxic fumes and harbor dust and mold.

    Sustainable Furniture

    Kalon Studios Caravan Crib

    Kalon Studios Caravan Crib

    When it comes to baby furniture, you’ll want to go natural and practical. That means looking for items made from solid wood that is sustainably sourced if possible and finished with non-toxic materials.  Avoid pressed wood as it usually emits toxic formaldehyde. To save money and resources, purchase multi-tasking items such as a crib that converts to a toddler bed or a changing table that becomes a dresser.
    Zenoobi pick: Kalon Caravan Crib

    Organic Bedding

    Finn and Emma Crib Set

    Finn and Emma Crib Set

    Babies spend a lot of time in bed so you’ll want to be sure to create a safe place for them to do all that sleeping and playing. Start with an organic or natural mattress to avoid the toxic fumes that off-gas from conventional mattresses. Then top it off with super soft organic cotton sheets and blankets. So cozy you’ll want some for yourself!
    Zenoobi pick: Finn & Emma Crib Set  

    A Healthy Layette

    Under the Nile Convertible Gown

    Under the Nile Convertible Gown

    Snuggle up your baby in clothes that are both adorable and free of harsh chemicals. Organic cotton, grown without pesticides or herbicides is best for both baby and the environment but when that’s not an option, stick with natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo or wool and avoid synthetics. Keep in mind that baby grows awfully fast so avoid stocking up on too many tiny sizes!
    Zenoobi pick: Convertible Infant Gown from Under the Nile

    Safe Toys 

    Manny and Simon Fire Truck

    Manny and Simon Fire Truck

    Now for the fun part! Baby toys are a blast to buy but not all toys are safe for little mouths to chew on. Look for wooden toys made from sustainably sourced or recycled wood and finished with non-toxic paints and finishes.  Plush toys should be made from natural materials and be free of any buttons or other small parts that could come off in baby’s mouth. It’s virtually impossible to avoid plastic when you have kids but when you do buy plastic items make sure they are high-quality and free of toxins like BPA, PVC, lead and phthalates.
    Zenoobi pick: Whimsical push toys from Manny & Simon

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