Four Tips Before Diving In For The First Swim Lesson

by Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of the “Luca Lashes” app/ebook series

LL has his First Swimming Lesson_Book CoverTaking your child to a swimming pool to learn to swim is a fairly common experience for parents. Getting a child comfortable in the water can give a child confidence to handle a lot of new experiences. Here are a few tips to help make a toddler’s first pool experience a happy one for you and for them!

1. Getting ready!

Many toddlers are not potty-trained, or just learning how to go the toilet. To be on the safe side, until your toddler is completely toilet-trained, use a swimmer diaper underneath the swimsuit, so that you keep the pool as clean as possible. Also, it is important to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device that fits properly. Toddlers should wear these any time they are near water until both they and you are comfortable with their ability to swim.

2. Is there tech support?

Luca Lashes and his First Swimming Lesson is a great eBook/app that can walk a child through their first time in the pool! Children can get the look and feel of the pool, take a shower before getting in the pool, and have a lesson with a swim instructor. Luca and his daddy have fun in the water, and your child can join in!

3. Follow the Rules.

Every public pool has a specific set of rules. These can include “No Running,” “No Splashing,” etc. Be sure to follow these rules yourself, and teach your child how important rules and safety are in the pool area. The pool rules are there for the safety of every one involved, and should be read and paid attention to by every parent!

4. Be Safe.

Parents need to teach their toddlers that never go into the water without an adult, and parents also need to practice “touch supervision.” This means that an adult should be within arm’s reach of a toddler at all times near a pool or any body of water. For particularly early swimmers who are being carried by their parents in water, parents need to stay at a comfortable depth where a firm footing can always be maintained.

Remember to always ask your children both how they feel about the swimming pool both before and after their time in the water. This is a great time to have a “teachable” moment with your little ones! Laugh with your children; enjoy these moments, as some of the happiest times in a person’s life involve being in a pool!


Nicole & Damir Fonovich are co-creators of Luca Lashes,” an eBook and app series that turns “fear of firsts” into fun. The series is aimed at kids ages 0–4 and is available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese. The first app, Luca Lashes: The Brown Eyed Boy with the Magic Eyelashes, is free on iTunes, and the other apps can be downloaded for $1.99 at all major marketplaces and at and Damir both have backgrounds in teaching, writing and publishing. Together, they have 17 years of experience in the education field, in both teaching and administration. They live in the Phoenix area.

Eco-Friendly Baby/Kid Clothes

Organic, eco-friendly clothing trends are on the rise—with good reason! They are safe for people and the environment and they are super soft. We found 3 great sources for eco-friendly clothing for babies and kids and we know you will love them. Their quality is top notch, the comfort of the fabric is swoon-worthy and the styles are simple adorable!

silkberry-babySilkberry Baby is an eco-baby and children’s clothing line that uses the rayon from bamboo.  These clothes are literally the softest, silkiest clothes I have ever felt. (I wish they came in adult sizes too!) Not only is the feel of Silkberry unbelievable, the modern boutique look of the products are adorable and perfect for both genders. In addition to clothing, they also have beanies, sleep sacks, blankets and crochet hats.  Silk and bamboo products are safe, hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial, mold and mildew resistant and offer breathability and excellent body temperature regulation. $10-$60,

prinkgiraffe_bibsieWee Urban is a line known for its contemporary, eco-friendly gear and apparel for baby and toddler. Made with organic cotton and a distinctive screen-printing design done with 100% eco-ink.  Their clothing is cute and they have a “BiBsie” line that is genius. The bib matches the onesie it comes with (as in is the exact same screen print as the onesie it covers). It is amazingly perfect for bib-wearing droolers! They also have sleep sacks, blankets, gowns, dresses and rompers. $28-$55,

dhanaecokidsDhana EcoKids has an adorable selection of eco-friendly tees, tops and dresses for kids ages 4-12. The dresses are sweet and feminine and their limited edition lines are designed by artists. They have a more sophisticated feel that bigger kids love (they don’t want to dress like babies!). Beautiful, unique and truly wearable art! $30-$48,

Make The Potty Training Process Easy and Enjoyable With These Five Tips

When it comes time to say goodbye to diapers, it is important that little ones are developmentally ready for success.  Once parents are certain their children are prepared for this milestone and they, themselves, are willing to devote the necessary time and energy it takes to potty train, it’s time to start the process.  Lilly Cueto, spokesperson for SoapTime®, an action-packed hand soap dispenser and SmartBase™, offers the following tips to help transition children from diapers to the bathroom:

potty chartPotty Charts:  Potty charts are very helpful during the training process.  Before you begin teaching your child, set up a chart and hang it in the bathroom.  Personalize the chart by letting your child color and decorate.  Once completed, explain that every time they successfully use the toilet, they will be given a sticker to put on their chart.  Knowing they will receive a fun sticker after each potty break will encourage them to go more often.

Incentives:  One way to conquer potty training is to offer incentives to your child.  Fill a reward bag with small treats and once your child has finished using the bathroom, let them choose one item out of the bag.  Providing children with small rewards and positive verbal encouragement will stimulate ongoing use.  When praised for their achievement, they will begin to recognize the importance of using the toilet.  As children begin to accomplish each stage of potty training, parents can slowly reduce the amount of praise and incentives they give.

soaptimeSoapTime®:  A great way to coach children to use the potty and also to teach them proper hand washing habits is to provide them with SoapTime for hand clean-up after they are finished.  This electronically enhanced product encourages children to use the bathroom more often because it gives them a fun and engaging experience at the sink.  SoapTime’s hand washing system consists of three uniquely shaped bottles: ABC, Earth and Elephant set in a SmartBase®.  Each bottle is recognized by the SmartBase and has a distinct educational theme narrated by its own Professor Goodhabits.  The themes include unique songs, factoids and LED light shows.  To use, a child simply pushes the dispenser and for 20 seconds they wash their hands while learning and enjoying their time at the sink.

Four-piece kit including a SmartBase, ABC, Earth and Elephant bottle is $16.97 each.  Visit

Water Colors:  Turning potty training into a fun game can further entice little ones to use the toilet.  One way to do this is to dye the toilet water with blue or red food coloring.  This way, once the toddlers use the potty, they turn the water into an orange or green color.  Children will get a kick out of changing the color and will be more eager to join parents in the bathroom for potty training time.

Books:  Giving children books to look at on the potty will help them feel more comfortable sitting for a longer period of time.  After your child is sitting down diaper-free, provide him or her with a potty training book, as many have been written on this topic, along with any other favorite books of their choice.  Potty training books available on include A Potty for Me by Karen Katz and Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel.  They start at approximately $5.

It is important for parents to remain patient as they go through the potty training process.  Taking the time each child needs to learn this new skill is essential and with these engaging tips, it can be a fun learning time, too!

A New Game of Hide & Seek

snipe hunt gameYour two year old might not be that great at playing hide & seek. My daughter can’t stay hidden long enough for me to find her! It’s so much more fun to play when there are more people so someone can always be on your kid’s “team” to help them out. Well, I found the perfect game to accomplish this! It is called Snipe Hunt and it is a super fun game of Hide & Seek. My daughter LOVES the game (and loves the snipes themselves, which are her “babies”).

This game actually came from the traditional campfire story of the elusive creature of the forest, the Snipe. It is usually nothing more than a campfire prank, but Education Outdoors has transformed the story of the Snipe into a new family board game called Snipe Hunt. I am outdoorsy, but I had never heard of the Snipe story. It doesn’t matter if you are familiar with it or not, though! The game is just plain fun!!

A tradition passed down through the generations, the Snipe Hunt originated as a tall tale told by parents and teens to younger children. Inexperienced campers are told about a bird or animal called the Snipe and the usually preposterous method of catching it, such as running around the woods carrying a bag or making strange noises such as banging rocks together. As children set off in search of the Snipe, their elders take in the antics and try to contain their laughter.

A twist on this fruitless quest, Snipe Hunt is an indoor or outdoor game of hide-and-seek where players try to be the first to find their opponent’s Snipe and return it to its nest. To play, the teams choose an area that will be the Snipe nest and two areas to hide their Snipes.

Each team turns their Snipe on and disappears to find the best hiding place for them. In five minutes the Snipes will begin chirping and their eyes will start flashing red so teams must hurry to get back to the nest before they giveaway the direction their Snipe is hiding. Once both Snipes are hidden, the hunt begins! The first team to return their opponents Snipe to the nest is the winner.

One of the great things about this game, however, is that you don’t have to just play it the way it is intended! So, when it’s just me and my two year old, I hide the Snipes and she has to find them. The noises they make help her find them and keep her interest! If you have more people to play, and older kids too, you can amp up the difficulty and play it the “right” way!

Each game comes with two snipes, (named Biela and Smartin) and a Snipe nest. The packaging tells the story behind the legendary campfire animals. For more information on the game, including rules, visit Snipe Hunt retails for $24.99 and can be purchased at Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, Books a Million stores and specialty retailers nationwide.


Is TV Ok for Tots?

Toddler, Television, TVIs It Ok For Your Toddler To Watch Television?

Is it ok for your toddler to watch TV? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television at all for children under two. You might think that is ridiculous, but there is a lot to really consider and think about as it relates to your television. Here are a few things to think about when deciding whether or not to turn on the TV:

How Much Is the TV On?

As adults, we don’t think much about some of our daily habits, like having the TV on while we do chores and hang out. Even if you are not “watching” television and your toddler seems to be totally ignoring it, having it on can be having more of an effect than you think. The noise and stimulation is something your toddler can be getting used to and learn to expect. When your toddler gets older, TV can become something he wants to watch all the time instead of playing physically and using his imagination.

What Kind of Programs are On?

There are obviously programs that are made for children and others for adults. But, within those categories you can break that down into what is appropriate and “safe” for your kid to see or hear. Don’t assume that just because a program is made for kids that it is ok. There are shows for children that have a lot of “adult humor” that kids can pick up on or messages that really are too “old” for tots. You might be surprised at how perceptive your toddler is and how much she actually absorbs. Before you turn on a program to occupy your child be sure that you have already seen it and know that it’s a good one.

When it comes to adult television, some programs or networks, like HGTV or TCM probably aren’t going to have anything on that you need to worry about with your toddler. But, do pay close attention to violence and the underlying messages of the programs you watch. Obviously, with school-age kids and teens, the messages of programs are clearly understood, but you still don’t need TV planting any seeds that can grow into something else as your child gets older. It is best just to avoid anything you wouldn’t be ok with an older child, that definitely would understand, watching.

Educational Doesn’t Make It Better

Networks and companies love to market their products and programs as “educational”, making parents feel like they are better for them to watch. Most movies and television geared for kids are educational in some capacity, but it cannot replace any hands on, exploration and learning that you can engage in with your child. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that because what your toddler is watching is “educational” that it is ok to watch more often. Your child will definitely learn more by playing with you and participating in just normal everyday activities.

TV and Movies/DVDs Are The Same

Movies and DVDs may be marketed differently or give you a different vibe than television. But, they really are all the same and should be kept in moderation. Movies and DVDs have the same kinds of stimulation and have the same addictive qualities.

Don’t Feel Guilty But Remember You Are Setting the Stage

You can’t feel guilty for putting your toddler in front of the TV if you have to get something done and you really need the distraction, or if you are not feeling well and don’t have the energy to engage all day long. There are plenty of reasons why you may need or want to do it. The important thing to keep in mind is that it should be kept in moderation and should not become a habit. If you are tempted to turn on the TV because you are bored or are running out of ideas, bust out things from the kitchen cabinets, go outside or cook/bake something. Resist the temptation unless television is really necessary.

Just remember that the toddler years are setting the stage for the rest of you child’s life. If he gets used to TV being a part of his day now, it will surely continue into later years. Keep the foundation of hands-on, creative, physical activity and everyone wins!