Nov 28

What kind things do your children do ?

A study of 1400 parents of 2-6 year olds, revealed the top twenty kind traits that are trickiest to teach children, including patience, good behaviour and understanding they can’t always have their own way.

Tidying toys after playtime, not interrupting when someone is talking and not being jealous all feature highly on the list.

What kind things do your children do?

Watch this you tube video 


Nov 22

A clever way to save when you shop.

images-1There is no greater feeling than doing something good for your child. That’s why we’ve joined forces with our friends at KidStart to give you the chance to save money towards their future, every time you shop.

What is KidStart?

KidStart is a clever way to save when you shop.

It’s a free shopping club for parents, grandparents, family and friends to save for their children.

KidStart works with loads of big retailers like Asda, Tesco, Boots, Debenhams, Ebay, Mothercare, John Lewis and hundreds more. Whenever you shop for your essentials through KidStart, you’ll earn cashback that automatically gets transferred to your child’s savings account.

So every time you shop – whether you’re buying food, clothes, books, toys, furniture, or pretty much anything – you’ll be saving money for your kids’ future at the same time.

Join KidStart here

 Benefits of KidStart

  • It’s completely FREE to join
  • Save £££’s each year through exclusive offers
  • Partnered with 100’s of well-known retailers – from Asda to John Lewis
  • Save into any child trust fund, most junior ISA or any bank/building society
  • KidStart savings never expire
  • Authorised by the FCA
  • Save up to 15% of what you spend
  • You can invite other family members to save for your children too

Join KidStart here

 What do KidStart members have to say?

KidStart case study

Hi I’m Laura, aged 30, mummy to Garner aged 5 and Elijah aged 2. I live in Hampshire with my partner Lee.

I first heard about KidStart when I was signing up to Sky. I was looking for ways of saving money and happened to stumble across KidStart who were offering an excellent cashback opportunity to new Sky customers. I read through the details and thought it would be a great way of saving some money for the kids with no extra hassle.

I’m quite new to KidStart but have already banked about £40 of savings. I think I will be a more regular customer to KidStart now they are offering savings on Waitrose groceries too.

So far I have saved with Sky, Dunelm Mill and Graze!

My top tips for new member would be that anytime you think of buying online check out the list of KidStart retailers first as there are hundreds to choose from and you could save £’s. It’s easy to sign up and you could even get Aunties, Uncles and Grandparents to save for your kids too!


Kidstart nicki

Hi I‘m Nicki. I have a 14 month old daughter call Maddie who is looked after by my mum (Gran) as I work full time. I live in Surrey with my husband Paul and our deaf cat called MP.

When I fell pregnant with Maddie, my friend told me about KidStart and I registered straight away. Our parents are also registered and when they shop online they use KidStart and save for Maddie which is great. I’ve also got it on my Facebook account!

It’s been 18 months since I registered and Maddie has received over £210 into her bank account which is great for her future and helps us as parents. Every little amount helps!

The KidStart retailers we use the most are Next, M&S, Mothercare, Homebase (just moved house so we’re decorating) and Ebay.

Before I order anything online we check with KidStart first to see if the company are on the list. I did our RAC membership through KidStart and not only got a saving for Maddie’s account but a saving for our membership too.

Next on my list is our gas and electric. I am pleased that Waitrose have joined KidStart too.

I’d recommend for other members to check KidStart every time you buy anything. I did all of my Christmas shopping via KidStart and I am constantly logging in into my account, so just think of all the savings you will get!

Sound interesting? Sign up for FREE today

Oct 04

socket covers – are they a safety risk ?

imgresA few years ago we wanted to raise awareness on the hazards of UK socket covers

see our article here 

It is not that the socket covers per say are dangerous – just that there is no regulation in their manufacture and they are made all over the world. The reason for their danger is that modern UK sockets are perfectly safe but when you put in a socket cover (all designs are different and have different length pins) they often open up the shutters which activate the live socket. While they are safe when inserted – it may be a danger for small children who may play with the covers and do not insert correctly or fully causing a live socket.

While the government has not warned or made a ban on households using socket covers it has imposed a complete (UK wide) ban on the use of socket covers in all NHS premises, including doctor and dentist surgeries?

See: And:

This is the first sign that the Government is taking this issue seriously!


Sep 27

change your energy supplier and top up your kids’ savings at the same time for FREE!

imgres-1A recent government report[1] revealed a shocking fact: 70% of households stick with the big six energy suppliers[2] despite them being up to 30% more expensive. This means that the average family could be over paying by £300 a year!
For many, the process of switching seems complex, the choice bewildering and they worry about hidden catches. Families in the UK have suffered too long. This has inspired a small revolution! 
Both Octopus Energy and KidStart are British entrepreneurial companies determined to help families. KidStart, a free service that enables parents to top up their kids’ savings, have teamed up with Octopuswhose mission is to make energy better, to launch a unique family energy offer. This new offer takes away the hassle of switching, provides clear and transparent pricing, has no exit fees or contract lock-ins, protects the planet and helps families save for the future – it’s a no brainer.

For more information / to switch / to save your £300 click here 


[1] Competitions and Markets Authority

[2] British Gas, EDF, Eon, Sottish power, Scottish & Southern and Npower

Sep 05


thumbnail_The LodgeNew teen-drama series, is set to excite fans around the UK with its intriguing storylines, catchy music and engaging characters when it premieres on Disney Channel on 23rd September 2016.

Dont miss out – watch the trailer below and tell us if you’re going to see it !





here’s a link to the trailer


Aug 22

New Loveable bear food

Ready Brek – New, loveable bear brings you a deliciously smooth oat porridge filled with nutritious goodness*

Ready Brek is introducing a new cuddly teddy bear mascot to the brand, with the new look packs now available nationwide. The new loveable Ready Bear has been charged with an important mission; to ensure children up and down the country are receiving a great start to the day.

Made only from finely milled wholegrain oats and flour, vitamins and minerals, with no added salt or sugar, Ready Brek Original delivers all the benefits of an adult porridge but without the lumps: Calcium for healthy bones and teeth, Vitamin D for a healthy immune system, protein for healthy muscles and oat fibre for healthy digestion*.

* Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal bones and teeth. Vitamin D contributes to normal immune system function. Protein contributes to a growth in muscle mass. Oat grain fibre contributes to an increase in faecal bulk. Enjoy as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

May 10

Childalert believe this is one of the most important topics to be aware of ….

????????????????????How to talk to your child about the dangers of sexting

Dr Hayley Van Zwanenberg, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist from Woodbourne Priory Hospital, provides advice for parents who may be concerned their child is affected by sexting. You can download the information below in this handy PDF Parent’s Guide: How to talk to your child about the dangers of sexting

What is sexting?

Sexting is when someone sends a sexually explicit photograph or video of themselves via their mobile phone or online. It can also refer to written messages. It has become common in recent years due to easy access to smartphones and camera phones with internet access. Adolescents are texting messages of a sexual nature taken in the privacy of their own homes and there is significant concern regarding the negative effects of this on their mental state.

Why is sexting so common amongst young people?

Teenagers often have unlimited text messaging plans on their own mobiles and it is now very easy to take a sexually explicit photo and send it on without the risk of adults seeing it. Many also believe their photos will self-destruct rapidly if sent using certain apps. They do not realise the permanency of their actions, (it is easy for people to save these images) and the potential repercussions.

Sexting is normalised amongst many adolescent peer groups, they do not realise it is violating UK law by sending or being in possession of sexually explicit photos of a minor. Young people are impulsive as their prefrontal cortex, which plays a significant role in impulse control, is not yet fully developed. They are struggling with managing a combination of fluctuating hormone levels, emotional and sexual feelings and peer pressure and they have not yet developed the maturity to manage these issues safely or wisely. Often, young people ‘sext’ hoping to start a relationship or to gain positive comments about their body image to aid their self-esteem. At times they are pressurised into it by a friend or someone older.

What are the consequences of sexting?

There is a risk that their image will be made available to others. This leads to a high level of distress for a young person, and it can lead to them resorting to ‘coping’ in unhealthy ways such as self-harming, isolating themselves and restricting their dietaryintake. It can also lead to high levels of anxiety and the development, or exacerbation of, depressive symptoms. Young people are often worried about the consequences of their actions too late in the day and will hide what they have done while dwelling on it, not sleeping because of it and not concentrating in class.

If adolescents do not get the response they wished for from sending the image or video, this can have a negative impact on their self-esteem and body image. They may also experience bullying that further knocks their self-esteem.Young people who engage in sexting are also more likely to engage in other risky sexual activity which again can have a negative impact on their mental state. Some young people are coerced into sexting, or blackmailed into more sexting, and this can lead to trauma. Images that young people have sent could reappear on websites years later, leading to yet another deterioration in that person’s mental state at that stage and interfere with their future prospects

Why should you discuss sexting with your child?

It is very important to explain to your child how to stay safe online, however difficult this conversation may feel. If they know the boundaries that you accept as parents, from the moment they first have a mobile phone, they are more likely to accept these rules. If they have the risks of sexting explained to them, it might help reduce their impulsivity and enable them to challenge peer pressure. If, as a parent, you let your child know you will be supportive and understanding if they ever do feel pressured to ‘sext’, they are more likely to discuss it with you when that pressure arises.

Tips on how to talk to your child about sexting:

  1. Select a time when your child is not in an emotional state but is calm and rational and not distracted by other activities
  2. Tackle the issue at a young age. Do not wait until they are in the midst of a group of friends who do ‘sext’
  3. Set out the rules of mobile or internet access when they are first given this in an unsupervised manner
  4. Make sure that your child knows what is not acceptable regarding sending photos and that their body is private and they should never be forced to share it with anyone
  5. Talk to them explicitly about how being asked to ‘sext’ is inappropriate and illegal for minors and how often young people are pressured into this
  6. Explain to them it is ok to stand out from the peer group and not follow the crowd
  7. Talk to your child about real life examples where private images or videos have been shown to the world and the consequences of everyone seeing a photo that the person in it does not want others to see; for example, it can lead to bullying, have an impact on future career prospects, create the potential for blackmail and so on
  8. Reinforce to your child they can talk to you about any pressure they receive and you will be supportive and non-judgemental.

What should you do if you think your child is a victim of sexting?

  1. React calmly if your child tells you this is the case. Listen to them and offer support, validate how distressing it must be for them. Try not to place guilt on your child
  2. Find out details of who the image was sent to and keep evidence if you can
  3. If the image was shared on a website, contact that website to report it
  4. Consider changing your child’s phone number
  5. If your child was forced into sexting, contact your local Police force
  6. If your child shared their image willingly, talk to your child again about the dangers and consider discussing the issue with the parents of the receiving child
  7. If the image was sent to an adult, report this to the Police or the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre
  8. Inform your child’s school so they can monitor the situation if it involved peers
  9. Offer your child support. Let them know of confidential helplines they can talk to such as Childline or the NSPCC. If you are concerned they are not coping see your GP and consider a specialist referral for mental health input.

For further details on the full range of Priory Services including Child and Adolescent support, please call 0800 084 1411 or click here to make an enquiry.

May 09

How old is too old to have a baby?

getting pregnant !



44, according to a recent survey of British women

Do you agree?




The five most cited reasons as to why women believe 44 should be the cut-off age are:

1.    It is unfair on the child to have old parents

2.    Increased likelihood of health complications like Down’s Syndrome for the child

3.    Women aged 50-plus should not be allowed fertility assistance via vitro fertilisation (IVF)

4.    Parents won’t live long enough to see the child grow up

5.    It is “unnatural” to have babies after that age

The research also reveals that almost three-quarters (74%) of women believe that there isn’t enough fertility education available for women about not “leaving it too late” to start a family, or the options now available to help preserve a woman’s fertility and likewise, to assist with conception. The majority of women (75%) questioned believe that the responsibility to educate women about these time-sensitive issues lies with government health officials.

Dr Amin Gorgy, fertility consultant and IVF specialist at The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy comments:

“The ideal age for women to become pregnant is in their twenties and early thirties. A woman’s fertility potential declines rapidly after the age of 35 and drops even faster after the age of 40. Indeed, successful egg freezing through vitrification has made it possible for women to postpone conception to later in life but as a society, we should be encouraging couples to have children at a younger age, in fact, I recommend that couples should aim to complete their families by the age of 35. There isn’t enough education available to women, many of whom still believe they can go on forever.

Theoretically, through egg donation and using eggs frozen at an earlier age, women can conceive at any age, in fact, the receptivity of the womb for implanting embryos declines only after the age of 54 but usually, we take 50 as the age limit for assisted conception and only under special circumstances will we consider someone beyond the age of 50. IVF must be put into perspective if used after the age of 35 as the chances of having a live birth with an IVF cycle declines dramatically with age, for example, there is a 20% success rate at the age of 40 which falls to just 1% above the age of 45.”

Dr Alex Eskander, consultant gynaecologist at The Gynae Centre comments:

“My feeling is that women in the UK enjoy much more the liberty, freedom and opportunity to further their careers over settling down to have children, the latter of which is now a thoroughly outdated concept of the traditional family.

I find the two key points of pressure for these women to have children come from their parents’ “need” to have grandchildren and a growing understanding of their biological clock. As a clinician, let’s be clear, I am not scare-mongering, it is a fact that ovarian function declines significantly from 30 years of age and even more sharply after 35 years.

I agree that 44 is too old for women to have children. From the ovaries standpoint, the number of eggs decline and the egg quality is poor. As a result, it is difficult to conceive and the conception maybe associated with a high rate of chromosome abnormalities and increased chances of miscarriage. From the mother’s standpoint, there is a high risk of hypertension, pre-eclampsia and caesarean section.

My advice for young women who may want to delay conception for any reason beyond the age of 35 is to seriously consider egg or embryo freezing (with donor sperm) as your “insurance policy””.

The two doctors will be joining a wider panel of experts who will be hosting this debate in a women’s healthcare Question Time seminar on Sunday 22 May at the Private Pregnancy UK Show.

For more information, please visit

Apr 26

Exam Stress – how can you help!

Its that time of year again – exams are approaching – are your kids focusing or oblivious to the time needed to revise ! or re they quietly anxious and stressed


Here are some things to look out for/ warning signs perhaps that your child/ teenager may be suffering from stress or suffering from anxiety

Are they sleeping well or do they have regular disturbances, erratic/ poor eating, low mood, low confidence, frustration/ anger, queasy tummies, headaches and flaring up of skin conditions such as eczema

Try to help them set realistic goals and expectations

Understand your child’s/teenager’s strengths and interests and focus on those, whilst acknowledging their weaknesses

Reinforce that failure is a normal part of learning

Make learning fun

Depending on your child’s age, make learning an exciting activity

Use toys and tools to aid in their education and revision

Create a consistent environment at home for your child/ teenager to study e.g. create a revision corner that is comfortable and inviting to work in

Help them with preparation and plan ahead for each exam

Have an exam rota in a visible place so everyone in the family is aware, i.e. on the fridge or next to the front door. It helps if you all know what exam is when.

Create to-do lists

Ensure your child/ teenager has practical and simple considerations in place i.e. let them know you will drive them to each exam so they don’t need to worry they might be late, or ensure your child has access to a quiet space should they require it for revision etc.


Ask your child/ teenager how their revision is going and how their exams are going

A simple conversation at the end of the day and giving positive feedback on their efforts will go a long way

Take a break

Encourage relaxation and your child/ teenager taking part in other activities to unwind i.e. playing football, painting, meeting friends etc.

Music and art are ideal activities to aid in stress relief, reducing anxiety and stress management


We’re sure the results will be positive and if not what more can you ask for than hey tried their best. 

Mar 08

Keeping cyberbullying in the spotlight

UnknownWilliam Ellis of OnlineThem comments on the new proposed guidelines from the Crown Prosecution Service which say adults who use fake online profiles to harass others should be prosecuted.

“Cyberbullying may be a new phenomenon but it is serious and can cause great anxiety, upset and stress. Hiding behind the veil of the internet should not be a reason to avoid prosecution from abusing others – in the same way that using the internet should not allow you to become a victim. Abuse is abuse and whether done in person or online, it should not be tolerated by anyone, the law included.

“Going online has become an integrated part of children’s lives and creates an incredible opportunity to learn and to connect with others. However, the risks which the online world presents cannot be ignored which is why we welcome the proposed guidance which would see ‘trolls’ prosecuted. The sad truth is that everyone who goes online is at risk from cyberbullying. The statistics about the scale of cyberbullying are scarce but those that are out there suggest that it is increasing.

“More can be done to protect children from these risks which includes using the law to crackdown on cyberbullying activity and act as a strong deterrent for perpetrators. Keeping cyberbullying in the spotlight creates more opportunities for parents to engage with their children about the issue. A recent study* found that a third of children felt they should be learning about online safety at home and, as a father myself, I know that parents also want to protect children online. Ignoring the issue or trying to prevent children from going online will only exasperate the issue. As parents, we need to be able to foster trust and transparency. It can sometimes be hard to have open two-way conversations about issues with children but this is what we need to do and anything that can facilitate this is a step in the right direction.”

One in five young people are targeted by a cyberbully every day, a fact which is unbeknown to their parents.

With 65% of bullying incidents now occurring online, it is easier than ever for bullies to take advantage of social media platforms and hide their activities from teachers, parents and supervising adults. Technology is providing platforms for cyberbullying, and new ways for trolls and catfish to make contact with your children. OnlineThem enables you to monitor your child’s activity across popular social media platforms, all with your child’s permission and without the need to access their passwords. We at OnlineThem believe that, to fight cyberbullying, ways of monitoring your child’s activities need to advance alongside technology and social media. We have developed OnlineThem in order to provide a way to ensure that cyberbullying will no longer go unnoticed or undetected without you needing to look over your children’s shoulders or fear that they are hiding it from you.

Check out the website here  - monitor your child’s activities online

OnlineThem is a first of its kind cyberbullying monitoring tool in the UK, designed by parents, for parents. The intelligence tool uses big data to give parents visibility over their child’s online activity enabling them to be alerted to risks of cyberbullying as well as other potentially dangerous online behaviours.

Feb 08

Play your part in creating a better and safer internet for our kids

safer internet day Safer Internet Day 2016 will take place on the 9th February with the theme Play your part for a better internet!

On the whole the internet is a really positive place, but there are still too many young people who have negative experiences like being targeted with mean comments. This Safer Internet Day young people should come together to explore how we can change things.

This may mean different things to different people but as parents we all want our children to enjoy all the benefits of the internet and none of the risks. How do we go about educating our children to understand the benefits and to avoid the dangers.

Perhaps you could talk to your child about what actions they could take to make the internet a kinder place?

Here are some Childalert agreement rules but first why not just get involved – support your kids when young in their exploring of then internet – share fun things with them – don’t just leave them alone to play on your tablet and find out for themselves!

Parents and carers play a crucial role in supporting children to navigate the risks while also making the most of the opportunities offered by technology. The most important thing you can do is to have a conversation and stay engaged with your children’s digital lives.

Why not have a go at this QUIZ

And check out these videos about kindness and respect online


Nov 23

Antibiotics Resistance – the greatest health problem of our century

antibiotic awareness

Oct 29

Saving for your children’s future

UnknownHow to save for your child’s future

Here are some tips by Julie Hutchison and few of our own like using KidStart to save for your children’s future.

While we can’t guarantee that our children will become millionaires, there are some simple steps that parents can take to really help set up their children for a good financial future.  Commenting on the benefits of thinking ahead, Consumer Finance Expert at Standard Life, Julie Hutchison said: “Being savvy to the savings options available to children can reap rewards as they get older.  From Junior ISAs to setting up a trust, it’s important to know the options available.  And as well as setting them up financially, it could also encourage loved ones to become successful savers themselves as they get older.”

How to help you save for your child’s future

1.       Review your Child Trust Fund

If your child was born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011, they’re likely to have a Child Trust Fund already set-up in their name. Parents can add to this by up to £4,080 a year this tax year – either into a cash savings or investments – and it’s tax-efficient too.  Your child will gain access to their account when they turn 18, the perfect time to help fund university or buying their first car.

Child Trust Funds are, however, gradually becoming historic, as they have been overtaken by Junior ISAs.  Parents can transfer a Child Trust Fund into a Junior ISA which does mean more options and choice available so it’s worth considering whether a move is right for you.

2.       Set up a Junior ISA

If your child doesn’t qualify for a Child Trust Fund and they are still under 18, or they have one but you want to transfer, then you could consider setting up a Junior ISA.  Just like your own ISA, a junior version is tax efficient and, as with the Child Trust Fund, you can save up to £4,080 for them this year. Your child will have full access to the account aged 18.

For more information on Standard Life’s Junior ISA visit:

3.       Consider a children’s bank account

A children’s bank or building society account is simple, but it comes with some health warnings.

Interest isn’t automatically paid tax-free yet, so you need to sign form R85 to make sure interest earned is tax free. The other banana skin here is where a parent is paying into the account and there’s more than £100 of interest in a tax year. In this situation, tax rules say this income has to be taxed back on the parent.  It does mean that bank and building society accounts can be most useful for small amounts of money, or where money comes from a variety of sources.

4.       Use your ISA allowance

If you want to stay in control of the money after your child turns 18, you might decide to save into your own ISA so it doesn’t automatically transfer over to them. You can save up to £15,240 into an ISA in the 2015-16 tax year, and it’s up to you how much of that is in stocks and shares or cash, or a bit of both.  And unlike a Child Trust Fund and Junior ISA, you can take withdrawals from your ISA when you want to.

5.       Start a pension for your child

If you’re not happy with the idea of your child getting their hands on what could be a sizeable sum of money at age 18, how about saving into a pension for them, where they can’t access the funds until they are into their 50s? Starting a pension for a child suits those who are prepared to take a very long term approach so their loved ones could benefit from many years of the compounding of any potential investment growth.

The annual limit which applies for this type of pension saving is £3,600 and works in a special way. If you pay in £2,880, it is topped-up with tax relief by the government, and becomes £3,600. But your child won’t have access to it until their late 50s or 60s – again, this won’t suit everyone.

6.       Set up a trust

This one’s more relevant for grandparents. Sometimes, it’s helpful to set aside a pot of money now, but in a way which allows you to control who gets what, and when – for instance if you don’t want your grandchildren to access their money until a certain age. This is sometimes called a ‘trust’. The money is controlled by trustees who manage the investments. There are different types of trust, which give access at different times and ages. The tax issues are complex, and I’d recommend you take legal advice to stay on track here, particularly when it comes to inheritance tax.

7. A more immediate way to get started

Why not join – it is free and will allow you to shop online and in some high street shops and receive money back on every £1 spent – so whether you are doing your weekly grocery shop or buying for Christmas gifts or just regular clothes or utilities or anything you might buy online – do it through KidStart and you receive up  to 20% back every time as savings for your children This money gets transferred into any UK bank or building society you tell them.

In summary

It’s not hard to take the first steps towards saving for a child’s future. You just need to decide whether the idea of “too much too soon” gives you sleepless nights, or how ready your teenager might be for financial responsibility at age 18. Will you hand over control and use a Junior ISA? Or do you prefer to delay access or keep control with one of the other options? It’s up to you.

This is not financial advice. Standard Life is not responsible for the content on any external websites. An ISA, Junior ISA, Child Trust Fund or pension which holds stocks and shares is an investment – its value can go up or down and it may be worth less than you paid in. This information was originally written in June 2015 with figures for tax year 2015/16 – tax and legislation can change in the future and the tax position will depend on individual circumstances.

Oct 14

Today is World Maths Day – what does it mean?

maths is funWorld Maths Day celebrates the importance of maths in our everyday lives.

But how can parents help their children to enjoy maths?

Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning says: “If I got a penny for the amount of times I have heard people say, ‘Oh I’m awful at maths’ or ‘I’m not a maths person’ with a shrug and a smile, I would be a very rich person!  It’s so common place amongst adults in the UK but you would never hear someone in public admit, ‘I can’t read’ – and if you did you certainly wouldn’t do it with a smile!  It’s time for change!

But how do you inspire children to love maths?  Maths, whether we love it or hate it, is a fundamental part of everyday life. It’s a global language. It underpins many essential life skills and yet can also be the key to many of life’s biggest questions.  For something so indispensable we should definitely seek to master it, but more importantly have fun with it – from an early age.

Rule number one is to drop any negativity on the subject – remember that your child is hugely influenced by you so if you are proudly claiming how bad you are at the subject they will too!  Second have fun with it!

Here are some ideas how:

•    Play games – children respond particularly well to games such as Monopoly. They are learning how to calculate their earnings as well as using logical thinking.  They are also a good way to spend some quality time together.

Yahtzee is great for developing calculations and strategy without children realising it.

Playing cards is also beneficial – lots of maths can be learnt through games such as cribbage. There are also dedicated maths card games such as HOO HA! or Ulti, great card games that help you master your tables.

•    Mix shopping with learning – When you’re on your weekly shop, get the children involved by asking them to recite the prices and add up what’s in the trolley.  Playing the ‘guess how much the shopping comes to’ game is a great way of developing estimation skills and is great fun

•    Bake and learn – All cooking requires some element of maths. Baking cakes and cookies can easily become an educational game.  Test their maths skills by asking them to add up or adapt a recipe for different amounts of serving.  The great thing about this is that they get to eat the results at the end!

•    Enter competitions – There are a number of individual maths competitions out there that you can compete in – particularly on World Maths Day.  Each year Explore Learning, together with the highly prestigious NRICH Project at the University of Cambridge, organises the National Young Mathematicians’ Awards which is the only school team maths competition in the UK.  Schools enter a team of four year 5 or 6 pupils where they compete against other schools in their areas with the main aim of instilling confidence in children and helping them see the fun that maths can bring!

•    Don’t pass on your insecurities – If you’re a parent who claims to be bad at maths, try not to.  By saying how much you dislike maths, you are passing this negativity to your child who will see it as acceptable.  Encourage them by making it fun and when they succeed celebrate it!  If you’re worried about your own maths skills, you can always visit the National Numeracy Challenge website that helps you identify your weaknesses and suggests activities and tutorials that you can do to boost those areas.

•    Games and Apps – We’re lucky to live in a generation where our children are spoilt for choice with the amount of games and apps on offer to keep them entertained.  There are so many apps out there and at Explore learning we have a free Times Table app to help children while they’re on the move (

Jun 09

Should a dog be a danger to children?

Unknown Unknown-1









A dog in the family can be a wonderful things for any child – it teaches them love, respect, how to care and be responsible for another and it can give them a place to find peace and quiet.

But there have to be some rules and be friendly to your own dog is not always a ticket to approach every other dog you see .. here are some statistics and tips on how to teach your children to be careful around animals and in particular dogs and also tips on how to train and look after your dog at home.

Around half of all recorded dog attacks involve children under 12 years of age. And approximately 80 percent of dog bites that are treated at hospitals involve children under 15 years old.

These numbers increase dramatically for children between 5 and 9 years old, and boys are more likely than girls to be bitten. Dogs and unsupervised children are never a good mix, no matter how well behaved your dog normally is.

Advice for Parents

The chances of a dog biting your child can be reduced by following some simple advice.

Education is the key to preventing a dog bite. Children who are taught how to act around and safely play with dogs are much less likely to be bitten.

Supervision is also paramount. Children should always be supervised when they’re around dogs. Almost all fatal dog attacks occur when a child is left unsupervised.

Dog Safety Rules for Kids

Here’s a list of rules to review with your children to ensure they enjoy a safe and happy relationship with dogs:

Always treat your dog with kindness.

Never hit, kick, slap or bite a dog, or pull on its ears, tail or paws.

Leave the dog alone if it is doing something else.

Never bother a dog that has puppies, a dog that is playing with or guarding toys, or a dog that is eating or sleeping.

Do not approach a dog that you don’t know without asking the owner first.

Never approach a dog that is tied up, behind a fence, or in a car.

If you find a dog that is lost, call the police or animal control.

If you want to pet a dog, ask the owner for permission. If the owner says it’s OK, hold out your hand in a fist for the dog to sniff. If he shows interest, you can scratch him under the chin and say hello. Don’t pet the top of his head.

Stay calm. It will help the dog stay calm too

Always talk in a quiet voice or whisper. Don’t shout. Take a “time out” if you feel angry or frustrated, as the dog will pick up on your negative attitude.

If you are suddenly in a vulnerable position with an aggressive dog, keep as still as possible.

If a loose dog approaches you, stand still like a tree. Keep your hands at your sides and stay quiet and calm. Look away from the dog rather than directly at it.

If you are on the ground, curl up into a ball. Stay quiet and calm. Look down at your knees, not at the dog.

Move slowly, set things down carefully, and don’t run when you’re around dogs, as this gets them excited; they may give chase and accidentally hurt you.

Safety Advice for Dog Owners

Consider spaying or neutering your dog

Neutering helps reduce aggression, especially in males. Un-neutered dogs are more than twice as likely to bite than neutered dogs. Female dogs that are in heat or nursing their puppies are more dangerous than spayed females, and their behavior can be unpredictable.

Talk to your vet or local humane organization or animal shelter for information on low-cost spay/neuter assistance.

Always supervise your dog

Dogs that are left on their own may feel uncertain and defensive, or they might become overly confident.

Train and socialise your dog

Ensure that your dog interacts well with people and other dogs. Teach it good manners in the home and in public. Basic training is as important for the owner as it is for the dog, and socialisation is the key to a well-adjusted adult dog.

It’s essential that puppies between 8 and 16 weeks old are exposed to a variety of people, places, dogs, and other animals. As dogs age, continue to expose them to these things to ensure they are well socialized throughout their lives.

Restraining your dog may be necessary

Twenty-four percent of fatal dog attacks involve loose dogs that are off their owner’s property. Dogs that are allowed to roam beyond the yard may see your entire neighborhood as their “territory” and defend it aggressively.

By obeying local leash laws and properly containing your dog within the boundaries of your property, you will not only be respecting the laws in your community, but will also be keeping your dog safe from cars, other dogs and unforeseen dangers.

Don’t chain your dog

Despite the fact that you need to restrain your dog and make sure that it knows its boundaries, it is not a good idea to keep it chained up.

Chained dogs are nearly three times more likely to bite, as tethering or chaining dogs increases their stress levels, protectiveness and vulnerability, thereby increasing the potential for aggression. Fencing is a much better solution.



May 12

TOP TIPS – Teaching Your Child to Ride a Bike

188329_firstbike0045Want to get your child started on a bike this summer? Here are some top tips from balance bike company FirstBIKE.

1. Always start with a balance bike. Balance bikes have no pedals or stabilisers and are much lighter than pedal bikes. On balance bikes children use their feet to balance and propel themselves along. One of the biggest advantages of this method is that children as young as 2 learn to balance on their own without explanation, coaching or unnecessary stress.

2. Start on the flat and work your way up. The ideal place to ride a balance bike is a park or area with no traffic. Begin on flat terrain and gradually upgrade to small hills.

3. Teach them to use a brake. Around the age of 2½ to 3 years, children are able to operate a hand brake provided it is gentle enough for their little fingers. Show your child how it works and motivate him/her to practice braking. A good tip is to draw a line on the pavement and challenge the child to stop on it.

4. Always wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet on a balance bike – as on any other bike – is another must. The sooner your child gets used to it, the better. Shop for a helmet together, and let the little biker express his or her opinion. Make it a treat!

5. Look for safety features like a ‘steering limiter’. Bikes with handlebars that limit the steering angle, a “steering limiter,” help little ones keep direction and prevent rough falls. Models with sharp edges or extruding screws should also be avoided.

6. Choose a bike with an adjustable seat. On balance bikes, children immediately benefit from the security of having their feet on the ground, so it is important that the seat is easily adjustable to their height. When the child sits on the bike, both feet should be firmly planted on the ground – not just the toes – with knees slightly bent. This way, the child is able to properly push off, slow down and stabilise.

7. Get the right safety gear. Wearing bright colours or a safety vest is recommended, ideally with reflective elements so he or she is readily visible. As for shoes, balance bikes are called “run bikes” in many languages, which means that flip-flops will not do – toes should be covered and ankles fixed.

8. Transfer to a pedal bike when the time is right. Around the age of 4 or 5 depending on their height and skill – children can smoothly transfer to a pedal bike without ever needing stabilisers. From a balance bike, such as FirstBIKE, children learn how to balance and use a hand brake. The only skill they still need to learn is pedalling, however, at the age of 4 or 5, it is a natural transition.

May 07

The Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide and Child Safety


Despite what the recent weather and unseasonal temperatures might have you believe, summer is actually just around the corner and the holiday season will be in full and fanciful swing for families up and down the country before you can say – “please let the holidays be over soon”.

But wherever you are going to unwind and relax (and good luck with that if you have kids) it’s imperative that you keep yourself and your children safe from ‘The Silent Killer’ – Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.

CO poisoning will take the lives of up to 50 people in the UK this year and hundreds more lives will be lost across the globe because of it; you won’t see it, smell it, taste it or touch it, but unless you take the time to understand it, it could very well be you that is counting the cost.

CO poisoning is the biggest cause of accidental deaths in the UK every year, yet unlike campaigns about fire safety and seasonal safety adverts about diving into rivers or setting off fireworks, CO poisoning coverage is pretty limited.

But a few simple tips on what to look out for should see you safe and sound, not just throughout your jollies, but in everyday life too. So what is it and how can you keep your family safe from it?

Carbon Monoxide is produced from the incomplete burning of carbon based fuels – gas, coal, oil and wood. The majority of cases in the home stem from badly installed or damaged appliances that have prevented fuel from burning properly or, if you have a chimney and a cosy open fire, blockages like birds’ nests stopping exhaust fumes from escaping will lead to the same outcome.

The best way to ensure that these problems are avoided is to have your boiler checked every 12 months and invest in a carbon monoxide alarm that is battery powered – that way it still works if you have a blackout.

There are also a number of things that you and your children can look for around the home that could warn you of a potential carbon monoxide leak -

  • Increased condensation on windows and even walls
  • Yellow or brown discolouration around your boiler
  • Flames that look yellow instead of blue

All of these things are physical signs that you may have a problem with carbon monoxide.

Also, if you have pets, your dog might seem a little lethargic and your cat will probably refuse to come into the house, so be sure to teach the kids to keep a keen eye on the animals.

But the safety doesn’t just stop in your home, carbon monoxide can be found in all sorts of places and can affect you when you least expect it.

If you’re going camping this year, don’t bring any heaters inside the tent. Even small gas heaters can give off enough CO to have a fatal effect, so be sure to pack a few extra jumpers and make sure you have a thick, cosy sleeping bag instead.

And then there’s the barbeques.

The story of Hannah Thomas-Jones is a case in point.

When out camping, Hannah and her family took the decision to move their disposable barbeque inside their tent to keep warm; a really bad idea that unwittingly led to Hannah’s death.

Even cold barbeques give off carbon monoxide, and Hannah – who was only 14 when the tragedy struck – died from the fumes that her family had no idea about.

CO awareness should be at the forefront of every family’s safety routine. Don’t get caught out by the biggest accidental killer in the UK!

Visit for more information on CO poisoning and help on how to keep you and your family safe.

Apr 30

Britain’s Biggest Family Event Sunday 28th June

Pop Stars and the Biggest Names in Children’s Entertainment Unite for:

“Britain’s Biggest Family Event”

Sunday 28th June  visit


offer ends May 5th 2015

Union J

Justin Fletcher – CBeebies Superstar


Dick & Dom

Sam & Mark

Also featuring:

SpongeBob SquarePants, Bart & Homer Simpson, Horrible Histories, Brainiac Live!, Chickenshed Theatre, Cook & Line – CBeebies Swashbuckling Pirates, The Cuban Brothers, Shaun The Sheep and much more

The Teen Zone – Meet your favourite YouTuber!

Urban Arena – BMX, mountain biking & Parkour


*Early Bird tickets on sale 9am Wednesday 29 April*

Tickets from £12.50 until 5th May


Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park is proud to announce a phenomenal line up to please the whole family. The final day of Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park this year will be filled with musical acts, comedy and good old fashioned family entertainment, plus award winning street food.

Headed up by boyband favourites Union J and including everyone from Britain‘s Got Talent winners Collabro to king of kids TV Justin Fletcher and more CBeebies stars, right up to teen YouTube sensations – no other day out packs more into one park.

A big hit with every member of the family, suitable for all ages, Family Day has proved an annual hit in the capital since the start of Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park in 2013. For the equivalent price of a family cinema ticket, Britain’s Biggest Family Event in Hyde Park is fine value for money. The little ones will never want to leave and even the bigger kids will not be able to wipe the smiles off their faces, or the selfies from their phones after grabbing a chat with all their YouTube faves.

Union J won the Best British Breakthrough at the 2013 BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards.  Since their debut on the ‘X Factor’, Josh, JJ, Jaymi and George have become undeniable teen heartthrobs. Their debut self-titled album Union J was a Top Ten smash hit and their 2014 hit single, ‘Tonight (We Live Forever)’ was a Top Ten single.  They are currently supporting The Vamps on their huge UK tour.

A fantastic addition to the incredible lineup for the day will be Collabro, 2014’s Britain’s Got Talent champions. Since winning the show, the five piece musical theatre group have performed at the Royal Variety Show, had a No.1 debut album Stars and sold out a 32 date UK tour.

The star of the show for younger children is BAFTA Award Winning CBeebies superstar Justin Fletcher MBE of “Mr Tumble” fame. Justin will be commanding the Great Oak Stage for a high-energy song and dance show to delight his loyal audience. Fresh from his sell out UK tour this master of slapstick, he may even give dads some tips on improving their own comedy routines.

Joining Justin on the Great Oak Stage are Dick & Dom competing against each other in a series of hilarious challenges, complete with their usual anarchic antics. The unique comedy chemistry makes this duo one of the most loved children’s acts in the country.

Dick & Dom said: ”We’re really looking forward to being your twisted ringmasters of the main stage for this massive family event. We’ll be bringing you the biggest names and best acts. It’s going to be THE best day out for the kids…….and you!!”

BAFTA Award-winning children’s presenters Sam & Mark will be bringing their hugely anticipated ‘On the Road Show’ to the Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, jammed packed with laughs, jokes, sketches, prizes and bundles of family interaction and games!

Sam & Mark said, “We’re so excited to be bringing our ‘On The Road Show’ to Hyde Park. It’s a show that we hope will entertain the whole family; from kids, older brothers and sisters, Mums, Dads, Grandmas and Granddads! It will be jam packed with lots of fun, games and laughs. It’s going to be awesome!”

A favourite from last two years, Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park are pleased to say that Horrible Histories will be regaling the audience with their original live sketches. Sticking with the educational yet entertaining, it is time to strap on the safety goggles as the award winning Science TV Series Brainiac Live! will also be on the Barclaycard Stage for a breathless ride through the wild world of the weird and wonderful.

Renowned theatre company Chickenshed will be returning to Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park with performances of its acclaimed and highly popular children’s show Tales from the Shed. This is the second year that Chickenshed have been a part of the experience and their performances are an integral part of the family day.

But the fun does not end there, with some of the world’s best-loved characters joining the summer fun. Bart & Homer Simpson, Spongebob Squarepants, Titan the Robot will all be at Hyde Park to spend time with their fans and provide photo opportunities. Penguin Random House will be bringing along some family favourites – Spot the Dog and Baby Bookworms for storytelling sessions, games, dancing and singing. This will be a unique opportunity for the little ones to see the characters jump off the page and for the youngest of babies to enjoy exploring texture, shape and sound in the interactive workshops based around Ladybird’s ‘Baby Touch’ books. Peppa Pig and George will also be having their very own reading sessions too – perfect for parents, babies and toddlers to enjoy together.

Families will also be able to join Shaun The Sheep for fun and games that will have them bouncing, singing and frolicking around the farmyard with Shaun and his friends.  There will be baa-rrilliant themed activities such as Shaun’s Sheep Hopper Maze, Sheep Shape Clay Modelling, Dodge Cabbage Team Game and Get Fit With The Flock. After that, join in with the bleats and beats of the Vegetable Orchestra.

Cook and Line CBeebies Swashbuckling Pirates will be appearing live at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park for a rip-roaring pirate adventure! Full of fun songs and silly slapstick comedy, their energetic and interactive performance will be loved by children of all ages.

And even your teens will find something to keep them entertained, whether it is family comedy from the Cuban Brothers or visiting the Teen Zone or Urban Area.

The Summer Stage will be dedicated to the young rising stars of YouTube, with performances from: talented musician Bethan Leadley; lifestyle vlogger Helen Anderson will be sharing fashion and beauty tips and taking questions from the audience; Hazel Hayes – Chewing Sand, comedic duo The Mandeville Sisters, Becca Lammin and Grace Victory, Ugly Face of Beauty will all be there to share their lifestyle tips.  There is also the chance to get that all important selfie with your favourite YouTube Star in our Guest Area, where meet and greets will be taking place all day long.

The Urban Area will be filled with a mix of urban sports from BMX to Parkour.  Watch the Extreme BMX team as pedal power takes to the horizon.  As long as it’s got two wheels and plenty of stamina it’s game on, as these talented young riders showcase their tricks mid-air, including all your favourites and a few yet to be invented.  From the same platforms and straight from the movies, check out the Parkour Team as they negotiate their way around the arena, regardless of obstacles.  This is also your chance to get involved, with workshops available for a taste of the street vibe scene.

James King, Senior Vice President, AEG Live comments: “The line up for this year’s family content day is our best yet. We have gathered together the very best in children’s, teen and family entertainment and it is a fantastic way to round off an exceptional 2 weeks of comedy, music and entertainment.”

Daniel Mathieson, Head of Experiential and Partnership Marketing for Barclaycard, said: “Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park is one of the musical highlights of the summer and this year we have another fantastic line-up of headline artists and bands.  From Kylie and Taylor Swift to The Who, Blur and The Strokes, there’s something for everyone, so fans should act fast to avoid missing out.”

With so many activities, arts and crafts, live entertainment and family bonding to be had, Sunday 28th June is one to put on the family calendar. Don’t miss out on your chance to make some amazing family memories that will be talked about for years to come!

From today, as a Barclaycard customer you can get exclusive pre-sale as well as discounted early bird tickets ahead of everyone else, but hurry as the early bird opens up to fans and other groups from 9am Wednesday 29 April before tickets go on general sale at 9am Tuesday 5 May 2015.

Go to

Apr 16

Love Food Hate Waste

UntitledA 20-foot frozen billboard made entirely of ice and cash was unveiled today to urge Brits to save money and reduce household waste by using their freezer more.

The billboard containing £700* in coins and notes – the amount the average household wastes every year on food **

The billboard was made with four tonnes of ice, and took a team over a month to freeze and a further eight days to build – passers by were able to collect the currency as the billboard melted throughout the day.

Did you know that you can freeze –  Eggs; Herbs; Fruit; Sauces; Cake; Milk; Cooked meat; Water obviously ! and Vegetables. A lot of people didn’t know this.

The study found that 92 per cent of people in the UK are unaware that items such as eggs can be frozen** and over half (56 per cent) did not know that herbs could be kept in the freezer. Despite one in five (21 per cent) shopping baskets in Britain containing at least 50 per cent frozen food, almost two million people throw away items in their freezer after two weeks believing they have gone off by this point.

By embracing the freezer to reduce food waste consumers could work towards saving the equivalent of £700 in a year* – the equivalent to a designer handbag or 50 inch TV.

The same report by WRAP found that 850,000 tonnes of good food thrown away each year, which could have been eaten later if frozen.

Emma Marsh, Head of Love Food Hate Waste, said last month: “The average person in the UK throws away the equivalent of £200 of good food and drink every single year – rising to £700 a year for a family. By simply making the most of the freezer, mixing and matching fresh and frozen food for meals each week everyone can make real savings on their budgets and help make the most of the food we buy. Love Food Hate Waste is delighted to be supporting iFreeze, iSave”

Commenting on the iFreeze, iSave initiative,Andy Weston-Webb, Birds Eye UK Managing Director, adds: “We’re incredibly excited by this campaign as we understand the pressures families are under to save money. Reducing food waste by making the most of the freezer will not only help families to do so but it will also help the UK to become more sustainable and resourceful, something we’re very proud to be a part of.”

The iFreeze, iSave frozen billboard was erected at Southbank’s Observation Point.  Members of the public are also encouraged to get involved in the iFreeze, iSave movement by visiting the online hub:


** commissioned by iFreeze, iSave


Mar 26

If I could tell my 20-something self …..

_2C82203.GarethGatrell2015Gaby Roslin tells us her top tips ..

Take Time Off

Having a lazy morning, making a big lunch or a walk in the park are things we all should do from time to time. And turn your phone off!  I have learnt to  turn my phone off – no problem.

Balance work and home life:

I am a mummy first and a working mummy second. My daughters are 13 and 8 now. These are precious times that need to be treasured.

Allow life outside the bubble:

I eat healthily; with organic products, and no wheat or dairy but I’m not a food fascist who tries to control what my girls eat everywhere. I don’t send them off to parties with a tub of nuts and seeds.

Children are their own people:

You flip a light switch and they go from being little to grown-ups. Mine are still young and they already know what they want to do! All we can do as parents is guide them.

Look after your body:

You get in what you put out. It is so important what we put into our bodies. I eat healthily but I still think – especially as we got older – that we benefit from taking supplements. I take Seven Seas Perfect7 for the marine oil, but I also up all my minerals and vitamins overall. In the future I’ll still want to enjoy life as much as I do now!

Be Confident:

If I had to give my 20-something self a tip I’d say, stop being so self-conscious! There is so much scrutiny on women in the media, I just think to myself your upper arms aren’t that big and no-one is looking anyway!

Follow your dreams:

The best advice I’ve ever been given was by my parents. They told me to follow my dreams and when I look back over my 28 year career in television, I can’t help but thank them for saying that.

Get on with it:

You can never be prepared for what life throws at you. Sometimes you do just have to ‘get on with it’.  Especially as parents.

Be happy.

I don’t apologise anymore for being happy. You need to love life and be able to jump out of bed in the morning like I do! From losing those close to me, I know how short life can be.

Give yourself a break:

I have been critical of myself, yes, but not too hard. I think pushing yourself to try hard and learn new things is important, but you also have to give yourself a break And relax and do your best!


Have you got any tips you can tell your 20-something self … or perhaps you’d liked to tell yourself now – what ever your age. What tips can you give the rest of us_2C82343.GarethGatrell2015

Mar 04

Calling all new mums! Tips for a healthy body and mind

So you’ve given birth and the hard part is out of the way. Now all you have to concentrate on is looking after your beautiful new baby – but are you forgetting to look after yourself? new mums exercising

It’s inevitable that as a new mum you’ll become so immersed in your new role that you’ll put everything else before your own wellbeing. While it’s essential that your baby receives the proper care that they deserve, you need to remember to take care of yourself too. Having a baby can be difficult, after 9 months of adapting to a new way of life your world is suddenly turned upside down due to the arrival of your little one. While of course they are a blessing, they don’t come without their own challenges.

Many new mums find themselves becoming isolated from the rest of the world during the first few years of their child’s life. Your life transforms into a routine of midnight feedings, nap times and nurseries, and you have little time to stop and think about getting some well deserved “you time”. Due to this, many mums struggle to keep up with their fitness and lose their baby weight.

This doesn’t have to be the case, and we’ve compiled some exercises that will encourage you to get out there and enjoy spending time with your baby as well as keeping yourself active. As you no doubt will, remember that when performing any of these exercises your baby’s safety is paramount.

Stay social

Balancing an active social life with bringing up a new baby can be challenging, but there’s no reason why you should avoid seeing your friends altogether. Instead, rethink the way that you spend time with your friends.

Meet them for a catch up in the park and push the baby around in its pushchair for an hour, as opposed to sitting in a coffee shop or inviting friends to your home. The added resistance of pushing the stroller around, especially on a more difficult terrain such as grass, will make this a great cardio workout. Getting out in the fresh air will be beneficial for you and your baby, both mentally and physically, as it not only encourages you to be more active, but it can also boost the levels of serotonin in your brain, which promotes feelings of happiness.

If you get the chance, leave your baby with a sitter and see if you can take a quick trip to the gym on your own. Participating in a low-intensity activity, such as swimming, can help to reduce stress and improve your fitness. Many gyms offer swim and sauna facilities, so you can feel pampered upon your return.

Use your baby as a weight

As a new mum, you’ll be familiar with how heavy a healthy growing baby actually is. You might as well use this extra weight to your advantage when you’re looking after your baby.

Baby squats: Try strapping your baby to your chest using a baby carrier so that they are comfortable and secure, stand with your legs shoulder width apart and slowly bend down into the squat position and return to standing position. Repeat this for 10 reps, have a break and repeat the sets three times.

Pushchair power: Place your baby in their pushchair. Stand about four feet back facing them and put your hands on your hips. Then bend forward on one leg and hold for a few seconds. Complete 10 reps, switch legs and repeat four times. You’ll be getting a vital workout and your child will think you’re playing an elaborate game of ‘Peekaboo’. Everyone’s a winner!

Learn and tone: Lie on your back, face to the ceiling with your baby by your side. Secure an arm around your baby to keep them safe and slowly extend your legs up towards the ceiling. Make circles of the alphabet using your toes and say each letter out loud to your baby as you complete each one. A great way to build up your leg muscles.

Feb 23

How are your teeth ?

The accompanying tiredness and morning sickness as a result of pregnancy is well documented and accepted as a part of being a new mum to-be, however there is one common symptom which is not generally discussed; over 90% of women suffer with gum problems when they are pregnant.

During pregnancy, increased hormone levels boost blood circulation, which can cause red, swollen or bleeding gums and increase the likelihood of plaque build-up. Expectant mothers should also be mindful that the baby’s first teeth begin to develop around three months into pregnancy.

Here Dr Sameer Patel, one of the UK’s leading dental experts mummys teethshares how best to avoid teeth and gum problems during pregnancy.

1) Be Aware of Changes in your Gums
Regular periodontal examinations are very important, as pregnancy causes hormonal changes that put you at increased risk of pregnancy gingivitis. Pay particular attention to any changes in your gums such as: tenderness, bleeding or swollen gums, and visit your dentist before the problem develops.

2) Floss and Brush Thoroughly
It might sound obvious, but being less than vigilant with your oral hygiene routine could lead to the onset of gingivitis (gum disease) or periodontitis (a more serious form of gum disease). This is caused when plaque extends beyond the gum line and leads to infection, but this can be prevented by keeping your mouth and teeth as clean as possible. Your dentist will be able to advise on the best course of action to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and will inform you of the frequency of hygienist appointments you should make during both pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

3) Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Your baby’s first teeth begin to develop about three months into pregnancy. Healthy diets containing dairy products, cheese, and yoghurt are a good source of essential minerals which are great for baby’s developing teeth, gums, and bones. Avoid sugary snacks. Sweet cravings are common during pregnancy, however, keep in mind that the more frequently you snack, the greater the chance there is of developing tooth decay.

4) Be Mindful of Mouthwash
Dr Sameer explains that pregnant women should not be surprised if they notice their gums bleeding when brushing, but he advises against using a mouthwash such as Corsydl: ‘Popular mouthwash Corsodyl can lead to staining of the teeth and antibacterial resistance if used for a long time. Pregnant ladies should only use this as a way to prevent gum disease if prescribed by their dentist’.

5) Adopt the ‘Four Minute Rule’
Dr Sameer advises brushing teeth for 4 minutes in both the morning and evening, which will help to reduce the build-up of even the smallest amounts of plaque. This is crucial because during pregnancy smaller amounts than usual can create early gum disease.

6) Try to Avoid Antibiotics
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed during pregnancy, but they must be chosen carefully. Some antibiotics are OK to take during pregnancy, while others are not.  For example, tetracyclines — such as doxycycline and minocycline can discolour a developing baby’s teeth.         

7) Switch to a Softer Toothbrush
Pregnancy hormones can cause your gums to swell and become inflamed, which makes them bleed more easily when you brush or clean between your teeth. Brushing regularly will help improve the tenderness; use a soft brush, and choose a toothpaste for sensitive teeth if your gums are tender. Try not to rinse after brushing, as this will reduce the desensitising effect of the toothpaste.

8) Ensure Your Diet Includes Plenty of Calcium and Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is essential for bone growth and repair and keeping your teeth strong. Taking a parental vitamin and calcium supplement should provide you with enough of these nutrients.

9) Steer Clear of Teeth-Whitening Kits and Toothpastes
These products contain peroxide, which may be harmful to your baby. The oxidation of your teeth is the process that causes them to whiten and may be harmful to the tissues and cells of the foetus. Whilst no studies have currently documented any harm caused to the foetus, pregnancy is such a crucial time for the development of a baby that many dentists still warn against teeth whitening whilst pregnant.

10) Avoid Dental Treatments During The First Trimester
Dental treatments during the first trimester and second half of the third trimester should be avoided as much as possible as a precaution. These are critical times in the baby’s development and it’s simply wise to avoid procedures that could in any way influence the baby’s growth or development.

11) Avoid Dental X-rays During Pregnancy

If X-rays are essential (such as in a dental emergency), your dentist will use extreme caution to safeguard you and your baby. Advances in technology have made X-rays much safer today than in past decades but it is advisable to avoid any exposure to radiation if possible.

Feb 02

Is your child getting enough sleep?

is your child getting a good nights sleep  Its a question which many anxious parents ask, given how important it can be for growth, learning and other mental development. Here we take a look at some commonly cited ways to ensure your progeny get their full complement of shut eye.

Children, of course, need significantly more sleep than adults. A newborn baby might be expected to sleep for up to 18 hours per day; and will benefit from daytime naps until at least the age of 4. The NHS have published rough guidelines for sleep requirements through age groups; but also practical advice on diet, routine and other factors which promote healthy sleep.

Having a TV, or other screens, in your child’s bedroom is strongly discouraged. Not only are children inclined to stay up; they also stimulate the brain at a time it should be winding down and relaxing. The widespread, unrestricted access of many children to TVs, tablets and phones has been blamed for the fact that ⅓ of 12 – 16 year olds average fewer than 7 hours sleep per night.

Of course it is also important to create a favourable sleeping environment. Having a dark, quiet bedroom is important and, if its loud outside, consider double glazing or earplugs. A comfy bed is naturally also a big factor; research by the sleep council shows that it can be worth an extra hour’s rest per night. If you’re child is very young, it may even be worth investing in a “day bed”; for napping, like this child sized option from Bedstar.

Omega 3 fatty acid has long been known to promote brain health. Signals in the brain are transmitted through neurons. As these signals travel through the brain they jump between neurons at points named synapses, passing through fatty barriers; around 20% of which are fatty acids like Omega 3.

Taking regular Omega 3 supplements has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia; as well as improving memory and concentration. A randomised study conducted by Oxford researchers on children have shown that taking supplements over a sustained period can lead to marked improvements in academic performance, and is also linked with longer, less disturbed sleep with fewer nightmares.

Using relaxation techniques can help clear your childs mind and create a regular bedtime routine; which teaches the brain to become familiar with sleep times. A warm (but not hot) bath, yoga stretches and music can all be helpful – or a cup of herbal tea.

Finally there are some foods which have been scientifically shown to boost healthy sleep – primarily because they contain a sleep promoting hormone named melatonin. Cherry juice is an incredibly rich source of melatonin and drinking a glass per day can have dramatic benefits!

Jan 05

Are your kids feeling the pressure – 2015 deep thought

keeping the arts aliveA Place to Dream: Keeping the Arts in the Lives of Our Kids

It seems that the pressure of thinking about the future of our children trickles down to them, whether we like it or not; more and more, we are seeing academic programs being implemented in schools at early ages where students must make life-changing career decisions by setting out on a specific path to get a head start. While this is an intelligent direction, curriculums are also losing track of the bigger picture where learning is involved, resulting in physical education and arts programmes being cut further back each year to make way for more specialised subjects. The end result is that children and adolescents are not only losing out on developing a heightened ability to think analytically and logically, but are also missing out on enhancing social skills, personal growth, and the capacity to be free and creative which is so important right from the early developmental stages of life.[i] We owe it to children to be able to explore the arts and enjoy them, whether it is for intellectual development or fulfilment.

Changing the Way We Think About Life

While the UK enjoys a huge, diverse and lively arts scene which receives extensive funding from organizations like Arts Council England which implements pro-active long-term programmes[ii] as well as many events and festivals which take place throughout the year, the outlook on the arts industry as a whole continues to encounter tension within our current economic structure. Despite the invaluable skills which are cultivated during early years all the way up to university levels and beyond in the arts, its respective professions are not always perceived to carry the same urgency or necessity as careers in science or economics, and this is even reflected in the cuts to arts programs at leading institutions.[iii] Parents may enjoy watching their children’s talents flourish in painting, dancing, and piano, but even at an early age, they may feel the need to gradually siphon out these pastimes in order to make time for school and more “useful” occupations; let’s also not forget the evident competitiveness and relatively poor pay of many arts careers as well.

In reality, the arts do not only perform many “useful” functions in terms of generating local economies as well as tourism and increasing a region’s cultural capital, but help to comprise the overall social health and identity of a place as well.[iv] On an individual level, the arts provide an invaluable experience, provided it is allowed to be explored naturally with the occasional motivation or competition. During developmental stages, the arts enhance cognitive abilities and develop motor skills as well as academic performance, while they also lead to the growth of intuitive skill sets such as inventiveness, cultural awareness, problem solving, and shaping one’s individual identity.[v] Children who engage in the arts not only learn how to keep their own company – a virtue which is becoming increasingly hard to come by – but also learn what it is like to collaborate on a creative project and utilise one another’s skills as well as personal attributes. The social and individual benefits of this build a framework crucial for a variety of lifetime scenarios.

An Invaluable Outlet

But it is also important to argue for art for its own sake. It is a pastime – or passion – that for some children can become an escape which is cathartic, revealing, and fulfilling. And for some children, it can truly be a life-changing endeavour, particularly for individuals undergoing a difficult period in their lives. Utilizing the arts in a format such as art therapy is one way in which people help children to tackle with various mental challenges, giving them an outlet for expression which is accessible, safe, and free as well as helping to develop vital skills.[vi] This can be a valuable technique when used as an alternative or in conjunction with other therapies which address common mental challenges which children face, as well as give them an enjoyable activity to focus on.[vii] Even in a pursuit as simple as hobby, the impact it will have on a child’s life will prove to be invaluable.

Some children may not connect with the arts, although there is usually something which can be of interest to everyone. This is perfectly fine, but children should be able to have the choice to enjoy the arts, and every community should have access to resources which enable children to pursue their subject of interest, be it music, dance, painting or poetry. We should not be questioning if the arts are valuable to society and a child’s development, but how we can create a society which gives children the opportunity to grow, create, learn, socialise, and move forward towards a more innovative and conscientious future.



this has been written by freelance journalist Helen Dale

[i] “Music and Child Development”. Accessed 21 December, 2014.

[ii] “Great Art and Culture for Everyone”. Accessed 21 December, 2014.

[iii] “Growing outcry at threat of cuts in humanities at universities”. Accessed 21 December, 2014.

[iv] “Nicholas Serota on Global Citizenship: a reminder of art’s role in society”. Accessed 21 December, 2014.

[v] “The Importance of Art in Child Development”. Accessed 21 December, 2014.

[vi] “How Art Therapy Can Help Children”. Accessed 21 December, 2014.

[vii] PsychGuides. “ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder)”. Accessed 21 December, 2014.

Dec 13

By the Book: Debating Home Schooling vs. Mainstream Schooling: Which is Safer?

home schoolingIt’s a question which most parents find themselves asking: which is better for my child: home schooling or regular schooling? And generally the same criteria applies: will I have the capability to provide a well-rounded education which is comparable to the experience and curriculum of regular schooling, as well as a healthy social experience? If I send my child to school, will the teachers be able to meet their individual needs, especially in light of increasing classroom sizes and decreasing budget cuts? And inevitably, parents are also asking about the most important aspect of all, particularly in light of school violence. Will my child be safe?[i] Or should I keep them at home?

Prevalent Safety Issues

Safety is something that should never have to be considered where children and schools are concerned. These are peaceful places of learning, where healthy competition and the inspiration to discover is nurtured in the most important developmental years of an individual’s life. But sadly, this is not always the case. Parents have several aspects to consider which related directly to the safety and wellbeing of their child, such as:

  • Violence: bullying, gang violence, discrimination, and random attacks
  • Abuse: substance-related, physical, emotional, and sexual
  • Pressure: academic expectations, peer compliance to fit in
  • Health: lack of physical education, unhealthy food options

These all play widely into the spectrum, and when parents choose a particular school to send their children to, all of these factors are taken into account and are often intertwined with one another.

While the UK does not face the same risk as the US which has had to implement a lock-down procedure for schools nationwide, it still remains at threat for violence like knife crime.[ii] Understandably, the key to reducing this problem is through preventative measures, which is where another safety consideration – peer pressure – comes into play. It is up to both schools and parents – as well as the widespread community – to practice a no tolerance policy against violence, as well as bullying which takes many forms. Likewise, discrimination is another serious issue. Dependent on race, religion, class, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, and even gender, the way in which schools continue to face these problems is extremely troubling. The fear of radicalisation, xenophobia, objectification of women, and homophobia are just a few of the challenges which divide communities, and schools are no exception.[iii]

Parents also worry about the amount of academic pressure children face in an education system which forces students to make career and life choices before they have even left school, and the impact of social peer pressure which can lead individuals astray. Combine that with the worry that kids are not getting enough healthy food options or time outside to refresh the mind and body, and the argument for home schooling is more than compelling. But is it always the best option?

On the Home Front

Parents are concerned about home schooling for a few reasons like the ability to provide a full education and social exposure, as well as financial pressure. Home educators will not have access to government funds to provide them with resources which schools can offer such as extensive libraries and databases, gym equipment, arts supplies, musical instruments, or scientific tools. Nor do they provide for home tutors. Parents who wish to stay at home will lose the advantage of having a second income. But there are solutions which make home schooling economically viable, making it an appealing alternative.[iv] Parents will save money by not spending thousands in tuition on private schools which they believe may be more fitting,[v] as well as uniforms, bus fees, and trips. Additionally, the internet is now teeming with more information than ever before – including lectures from leading academic institutions[vi] –  which makes it an ideal reference provided the use of its resources are explored with discretion.

Parents can bring the social aspect in easily. By addressing an individual’s needs exclusively, a considerable amount of pace can be covered, leaving time to invest in arts programs, clubs, sports teams, and other activities where children and adolescents can mingle and interact for that essential experience, as well as cultivate open-mindedness and acceptance. But is this really that much safer than a school environment, where these activities are usually a part of the program, even if extra-curricular? Does it always guarantee freedom from prejudice or even abuse, which occurs right in our very homes as well?[vii]

Owning It to Our Children

Undoubtedly, the pros of home schooling – and the fact that many of its cons can be countered make it even more appealing. Many parents will find home schooling the best choice for their child. But if this is debate is based on safety, and rightfully so, then surely as a society we should make every place safe for children. This may seem idealistic, but there is no other choice. At some point or other, children will leave home and experience the world. Perhaps their time in mainstream school – even if this is divided with home schooling – will give them the street smarts they need, and the capability to properly collaborate and share ideas, and even experience a greater open-mindedness. We cannot shelter our children entirely, as much as we wish to protect them – but what we can do is work towards making our world safer. Even as home schoolers, we should fight to keep the public education system in check, to ensure that the classroom is safe, and that people can embrace and accept their differences. We must push for education which teaches the how and the why, not just the what. And we must make sure that schools are provided with the resources required to give everyone a fair and just education, which gives them equal opportunities for success in life.[viii]

Whatever choice we make, we need to invest in a system which gives parents the right resources as well as guarantees a child’s safety, therefore, whichever choice is freely made, is accepted and embraced. We owe it to our future.


this has been written by freelance journalist Helen Dale

[i] “Parenting News”. Accessed 9December, 2014.

[ii] Gov.Uk. “Reducing knife, gun and gang crime”. Accessed 9 December, 2014.

[iii] “Challenging stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination”. Accessed December 9, 2014.

[iv] Money. “Home Schooling: Good for Your Child & Your Finances?” Accessed 9 December, 2014.

[v] “Private School Fees”. Accessed 9 December, 2014.

[vi] “The Rise of the MOOC: The Future of Higher Education?” Accessed 9 December, 2014.

[vii] “Sexual abuse Facts and statistics”. Accessed 9 December, 2014.

[viii] “Education systems urged to restructure: Why? What questions are really asked?” Accessed December 9, 2014.

i forgot to socialise the kids



Dec 01

Good ‘ol DAD

Dads playing with the kids Did you know that the average Dad has 22 injuries a year … because of the kids!

Poor ‘ol Dads get bashed on the shins , fall over toys, stumble on clothing, are hit in the privates, knocked on the face, get back pains from rolling, being jumped on and even by picking up their children.

Just over a third have been head butted by their young child,  while quarter said play flighting with the kids regularly saw them tweak something. ‘I have even attempted ballet dancing to please my daughter’ laughed one Dad!!

Other areas of parenting where Dads have had a brush with injury were when having to play goalie, kicking a ball around with the kids or when climbing trees with them.

We’re all pleased to see those Dads having a great time with their kids and that they feel young at heart enough to do so … but possible they should be cautious – as one Dad confessed  ‘I should know better at my age’.

The top 10 injuries are

back pain while playing

bashing a shin or elbow on a toy/coffee table while running around

balls thrown or whacks to the crotch  ouchhhh!

treading on a toy left out and injuring a leg

knocks to the face

even the pet gets in the way

tripping over a child’s belonging

nearly drowning in the swimming pool

thinking skate boarding is for me

repetitive strain injury from trying to join in the gaming


Tell us

1. what do you think about Dads larking around with the kids

2. what injuries can you tell us about


Dads playing with the kids



Nov 11

Forget the Fruit Juices says Leading Dietician

Nutritional Advice News this morning reports that more than quarter of fruit juices and smoothies that are aimed at children contain as much if not more sugar than Coca-Cola.

The survey carried out for a health campaign group found that 57 out of the 203 supermarket drinks tested had as much sugar as Coca-Cola, or more. A quarter of the drinks tested had at least six teaspoons for every 200ml glass, which is the maximum adult daily intake recommended by the World Health Organisation.

With this in mind, we’ve been speaking to Mr Rupert Allen, Lead Dietician at The Lister Hospital, London ( find to out about our recommended daily sugar intake and about the dangers of drinking fruit juice. With rising concerns that a high sugar intake is fuelling sharp increases in obesity rates, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, news that parents may be unknowingly feeding children smoothies with as much as 8 tsps of sugar, Mr Allen urges people and parents to eat fresh fruit rather than drink fruit juice.

Mr Rupert Allen, Lead Dietitian at The Lister Hospital, London answers some of our questions:

What is the current daily recommended sugar intake?

“The current recommendations for ‘added sugar’ is up to 10% of daily calories, which works out to be approximately 70g sugar per day for men and 50g sugar per day for women. Although a new report (from SACN – Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) suggests this should be reduced to 5%.”

How much sugar is there in a glass of fruit juice?

“A glass of fruit juice contains around 13g sugar (typical serving 150ml, around 9g per 100g), although some fruit juice drinks may contain added sugar. A 150ml glass of fruit juice counts as 1 of your 5 a day and therefore provides vitamins and minerals.  Unsweetened Fruit juice can also be a source of fibre, particularly if they contain fruit pulp.”

Are there any health benefits to drinking fruit juice? Is it more beneficial to eat fresh fruit instead of drinking juice, or is this still too high in sugar?

“Fresh fruit is generally more beneficial as the sugar is contained within the fruit structure, and is slower to be absorbed.  Also fresh fruit will contain lots of fibre, which has many health benefits.  Fruit will also fill you up more than fruit juice which may reduce the tendency to snack on other high sugar / high fat foods.”

Is there a difference between shop-bought juice and homemade fruit juice? Which is better for you and why?

“Fruit juice made at home is likely to be better for you, as it will contain plenty of pulp and flesh and therefore will be higher in fibre.  You can also guarantee what and how much fruit is in the drink and therefore be assured there is no added sugar.”

What are the dangers of a high sugar intake?

“High sugar foods can cause tooth decay, especially if consumed regularly as a snack.  High sugar foods also tend to be high in calories and therefore can contribute to heart disease, obesity and diabetes.   Also people who tend to have a high sugar intake tend to have a diet lower in other nutrients.”


Here are some other nutritional questions answered via Childalert

Questions answered click here 

I am keen to have us eat as a family more click here 


Oct 23

Are you one of the country’s most inspirational parent?

Most parents go beyond their duty to help their children succeed and we want to know who you are .. or who you might nominate.

Chris Hoy, Britain’s greatest ever Olympian said “From a very young age my dad has been instrumental in my cycling career, I really wouldn’t be where I am today without his support. ‘

There are parents all over Britain doing amazing things for their children every day, very often quietly behind the scenes.  Chris Hoy along with Highland Spring want to celebrate these unsung heroes and recognise the fact that behind every great sporting star, business person and success story, there are great parents

Many parents will know the feeling of shuttling their offspring to sports practise and cheering them on from the sidelines. The Highland Spring’s  campaign has been launched to give inspirational and supportive parents the pat on the back they deserve. The winner and their family will get to meet Chris as well as enjoying a fantastic family break.

Members of the public can nominate their own parent or guardian or someone else’s who they believe deserves the title of the nation’s most inspirational parent – whether it’s early morning rises to get to swimming practise, advice and support to help start a business or make a dream come true or even unconditional love to get over life’s challenges.

The shortlisted entries will be announced on 10 November and a public vote will decide the ultimate winner of the Parentspiration award.

To find out more and nominate someone for the Parentspiration campaign

or just tell us your stories below

inspirational parents

Sep 22

Austin is onto a winner once again ! Internet safety for the home.

austin healey in strictlyEx England and Lions Rugby Union international, Austin Healey, `and of course ex winner of Strictly Come Dancing!’ is urging parent to be more vigilant when allowing children to use the internetAustin, father of four daughters, aged between six and 13 years, will be the face for BT Parental Controls new campaign.
watch his video
“If you have young children, I would really urge you to spend a couple of minutes setting up your BT Parental Controls. As a parent, there are an endless number of things to worry about, so don’t make the internet one of them. It really does take a matter of minutes and a few clicks of a mouse to protect your children online and it will give you the peace of mind of knowing they are using the internet more safely.”BT Parental Controls is a network-based filter that helps make it easier for families to control what their children can see online. It blocks inappropriate content and filters out potentially harmful websites on all devices. These range from PCs, laptops and games consoles to tablets and smartphones that are connected to the BT Home Hub or when customers use their BT ID to connect to a BT wi-fi hotspot, of which there are more than five million in the UK, The filter is free to all BT Broadband customers.

Activating BT Parental Controls is quick and easy to do – there’s no software to download and once it is set up, customers can amend their filter level to suit their family’s needs.

The filters can be set to automatically turn on and off at particular times, for example to act as a “watershed” and it can also be set for “homework time” when children are studying

New customers are automatically offered the option of setting up their BT Parental Controls when they connect their BT Home Hub. BT has committed to the Government to contact all existing customers by December 2014 to decide whether they would like to activate BT Parental Controls and this is underway. Existing customers can turn on the controls by logging into My BT at

Austin Healey added: “The internet is a hugely valuable tool for children and I want to encourage my daughters to use it positively. Having got my BT Parental Controls in place, I am now confident that my children will be able to use the web positively to learn, interact and explore their curiosity and creativity, without being exposed to sites that my wife and I do not want them to see.”

Childalert also suggest you talk franking to children about the pros and cons of using the internet and as a bit of fun as well as focus – why not have a parent/child family contract where you benefit from each other – the kids help parents understand a bit more and the children agree to access rules .

Here are Austin’s top five tips for keeping children safe online:

1. You can’t watch them all the time, I’m a father of four girls and it’s just not physically possible to be there all the time, that’s why you need all the help you can get by doing things like installing BT Parental Controls on your network

2. Trust children to make some mistakes, especially teenagers they need to be able to self police and be in control so you need to allow them to make some mistakes. You just want this to be within safe boundaries so it’s a smaller mistake rather than a big one

3. Explain to them that the internet is here forever – you don’t put a picture on the internet and it disappears, it will still there when you go for a job, your children go for a job so you have to think carefully about what’s out there

4. Teach kids how the internet works so that they can use it as the great resource it is. This of course depends a bit on how old they are, if I tried to teach my teenage daughter how to use the internet she’d look at me like I was crazy! Talk about online risks at the right age, you don’t want to scare them but you don’t want to miss the boat either, these days I think right age is around 8 years old.

5. is a great site for parents to visit for tips and support for looking after their children online.

Jul 20

Treat your Little Prince or Princess to a Royally Wonderful First Birthday

Prince George is about to turn one year old. Who can believe it was a whole year since we all sat glued to our TV screens, waiting to hear the news!


prince georgeA child’s first birthday is a huge, happy milestone – perhaps not so much for the baby, who quite frankly has no idea what’s going on and just wants to bury their face in cake icing, but for the parents.

It’s also the moment we wake up and think, ‘where DID that year go?’

Where Kate Middleton may have the help of her sister, Pippa the party planner, you may not know where to start with your little one’s first big do. Modern Family Expert for, Liz Fraser, has some invaluable tips:

1. Keep present-buying simple – You can buy the most expensive, amazing, stimulating toy in the world for your child’s first birthday…and chances are all they will do is play with the box. Remember this! A few simple, fun toys and books to play with (and try to eat…) are all that’s required at this stage. Believe me, you’ll be glad of that saved money as they get older and want the latest electronic gadget or expensive trainers.

2.    Stay close to home – Once you have sorted the timings around your child’s sleep routines (assuming they are helpful enough to have one…!) try not to get carried away with big, over the top plans. Keep it simple and small with close friends and family. You don’t need to hire the Albert Hall; having the party at home makes decorating and getting the birthday boy or girl ready much easier, whilst keeping them in a familiar place.

3. Be resourceful – If you do bravely decide to hold the party somewhere other than home, take your trusty bag of fun things to entertain your child and his or her friends, in case they become restless. Don’t forget that everyday items can be fascinating for small children too. Just some rustly paper, or balloons (not blown up fully, as they pop much less easily…) can entertain them for ages. And please don’t worry about party bags! They are totally unnecessary, and most other parents will be very grateful that you bucked the trend. A piece of cake and a balloon is just FINE.

4. Invite those closest to you – You might feel that you have to invite everyone who has played a part in the first year of your child’s life. You don’t. Take into consideration your child’s personality and how they deal with large groups of people, (not to mention how much food you’ll have to provide….!) and think about inviting only close family and friends to keep things simple. And remember that this is also about YOU having a nice time, and celebrating your first year as parents, so invite the friends you’d like to share this fun event with.

5. Get decorative – Very young children like bright, bold colours. Paper bunting is a great alternative to balloons, if they are too terrifying when they pop, and also a fun activity for younger children to be involved with making. Tissue banners, bright plates and so on are all good, cheap ways to brighten things up, and make the room look fun.

6. Let them eat cake - First birthday cakes only go one way: messily. Your child will end up with cake down their front, all over their face and on their head. Truly, haute cuisine this is not. Baking a cake doesn’t have to take long, but if you don’t have the time, buying one no longer generates finger-wagging by older relatives or other mums. Just do what you can manage. Making one at home is a great way to involve older siblings, who will see this as a great excuse to eat lots of cake mixture, and thus love their new sibling even more. And do please learn from my (bad) experiences: drawing a character on with icing is much easier than attempting to make a 3D-character cake. Oh, and candles are a MUST. Just not the re-lighting ones, unless you want to be there for 24 hours filling your house with smoke.

7. Capture Everything – As much as we sometimes moan about technology taking over our lives, it has its advantages where capturing these special moments is concerned. During the party, you or your partner may want to grab your phone and capture a handful photos or videos so you’ve got this memorable occasion on record forever, to look at in years to come when they’ve left home – which happens very fast! You could even use an app to then automatically turn the video clips into a pretty professional-looking ‘first birthday’ film if you fancied! The Oscars beckon…

8. Share Everything – Whilst many families are becoming more and more spread out by the generation, it is also now easier than ever to connect with family wherever they are in the world.  Sharing the photos of your little one on social media, or even connecting with family members on Skype during the party, can make them feel a part of it.

9. Enjoy! – Whilst all of the planning and logistics can be pretty hectic in the run-up to the party, as well as overseeing the party on the day, make sure to enjoy this special moment with your child so that you can create some happy first memories. And do remember to get that classic photo of your baby with their hands IN the cake, for the 18th birthday party….

However you prepare for your child’s first birthday, the most important thing is to create memories and surround yourself with close friends and family. Enjoy yourself!


Jul 05

Top summer parenting tips..

playing outside ‘Top 5 Tips for Parents’ – things that parents can do this summer to help keep their children fit and healthy.

1.   Eat healthily.   Read the label – Make sure you understand everything about the food you’re purchasing.

2.   A colourful plate mean lots of food variety and healthy veggies. Bring as many food types as you can to the table, and the more colour you see, the better you’re doing.

3.   Physically engage with your children. Spend your time together being active. Change those days on the sofa for a walk, switch the cinema for a day in the park.

4.   Let your child lead. Be sure to make sure you’re not just playing a sport you want to. Would your child rather play catch than football? – encourage them to maintain an active life.

5.   Have a ‘no technology day’. It’s all too easy to be in front of a television playing on the iPad. Remove technology for just one day, and notice the rewards of getting outside and the impact that can have on health and on your relationship.


Jun 25

Which is your favourite cake?








Tell us which is your favourite cake ? Can you name each of them from the list below?


Apple Strudel



2.New York Cheese Cake


4. Victoria Sponge

5. Panettone



Good Luck – every winner will receive a cream tea voucher !


Jun 24

Protecting children from burns at home

4610042231_417x89Read about RadAlert and the story behind it…..

Everyone told me when I had child number two that I would be more relaxed than with my first. To some extent they were right; I was not so worried about the non-existent routine, I relaxed more when I was feeding her and I was certainly more confident travelling out and about. But one thing that I ensured stayed the same and that was “baby-proofing” the house.

Imagine my horror then, when my precious little bundle badly burnt her back on our bathroom radiator. It was one of those lovely new shiny silver ones. It had had been pretty cold for several weeks so I had the heating on quite a lot. Like many I really enjoyed bath times and we always hung a lovely fluffy towel to warm up for when she got out the bath.

And that’s when it happened – I tried to wrap her up, she pulled away in fun and her whole body leant against the radiator. It was just a few seconds, but by then the damage had been done. I had no idea a burn that bad could be delivered that quickly. We spent the next three weeks of sleepless nights as the burn healed followed by weeks of itching.

But what could I have done differently other than have the radiator at a temperature that did not burn you so easily and BUT how could I tell that.

So I started investigating how this could be prevented from happening in the future both to my daughter and other children too. I could not find a way to control each radiator unless we had individual thermostatically controlled valves in each room and even then I could not be sure that the temperature was not too high.

Instead I found some little stickers that changed to purple when the item was too hot using thermo chromic technology (colour changing ink) but these were very small and the colour change was very slight.

I then stumbled across a medical report that noted that the skin of babies and children burns on contact at a much lower temperature than adults – 43 degrees instead of 47 degrees for adults. The existing product on the market only operated at the higher temperature and to make matters worse they were attached by glue that left a nasty black mark on whatever item it was attached to meaning they could also not be re-positioned easily.

The report also noted that it was metal objects in the home that did the most consistent damage to young skin and that’s when it dawned on me. If metal objects were the culprit then surely a magnetic attachment would work. Using the existing colour changing technology if I could find a way to combine the two – then bingo!

I found a great UK-based manufacturer who was willing to help and also most importantly was prepared to work with me on a much lower ink temperature than previously existed. And so RadAlert was born.

Using magnetic strips that change from a discrete black to a bright red when the contact skin burn temperature is reached means that you can now tell when your metal radiators could be a danger. Or in our house we use it as a check that all the strips stay black.

I would love it if every house that has metal radiators could carry a strip on each one and note to themselves and to their children that when red shows – it’s too hot to touch.

Since we launched RadAlert there has been phenomenal interest in the product and we are now manufacturing strips half the length to be used on the sides of metal kettles and toasters for example. We have also kept the cost really low so that everyone can start protecting those they care about quickly and easily.

I am so excited that this simple idea will help stop others going through the pain and discomfort Millie did”

To read more about RadAlert and the story behind it go to or

email Find us on Facebook too

Jun 16

Morning Mayhem!

msr-opd_512_d159Raising awareness about potential problems that can affect children is an important thing for all parents and anyone else whose work brings them into contact with young people

Thankfully events such as Child Safety Week can help bring these issues to everyone’s attention.

This year the annual campaign runs from 23-29 June and sees the Child Accident Prevention Trust highlight the risks of child accidents and offer practical advice on how they can be prevented. A range of resources to help practitioners organise and run local activities and events are provided so that safety messages can be presented to a wide audience in a fun and engaging way.

Accidents in the home

The sheer scale of child accidents is staggering. Half a million kids under the age of 4 are injured in UK homes every year. Fire is the greatest cause of accidental death as 46% of all fatal accidents to children are caused this way while 39% of the total of children’s accidents are from falling and as many as 10 children die each year from falling out of a window or off a balcony.

However, the most serious accidents in the home are caused in the kitchen. More than 30,000 children go to A&E every year with signs of poisoning, which usually occurs after ingesting domestic cleaning substances.

Be involved 

You can prepare for Child Safety Week by taking part in it yourself. You can receive a range of free downloadable resources to help you by signing up online and then you can start spreading the message and even help save lives.

Whether it is in your own home or visiting grandparents in their McCarthy and Stone retirement property, making sure that simple practises are put in place can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your kids safe.


This year the focus of the week is on the accidents that are more likely to happen in what the Child Accident Prevention Trust calls ‘Morning Mayhem’ morning mayhem

35,000 children under the age of 4 years fall down the stairs each year while 3,000 injuries are caused by tripping over piles of laundry or toys that have been left on the floor.

Of course, accidents also happen outside of the home and in the mornings the journey to school also has its own dangers and potential pitfalls.

Any type of accident can be more likely to happen when everybody is in a rush, so just by being aware of the dangers everybody can make the world a safer place for children.

You can find out more about Child Safety Week here.

Jun 12

Dinner Time kids !

UnknownThis should be of interest to every parent – an app that gives parents the ability to remotely lock and unlock their child’s Android tablet or smartphone at any time – encouraging more family time together at events such as dinner time and bed time.

Sounds like a blessing ~! – how easy is it for you to drag your child away from their phone / music / games; how easy is it for you to set the boundaries of how long they can use their devices in any one day.

When children are younger boundaries are a hot topic and we all find them incredibly useful in teaching our children right and wrong and giving them the opportunity to understand limits and patience and expectations. But when they get older and especially as a teenager the phone seems to throw all that guidance out of the window.

There is something about the phone, texting, facetime, games, keeping in constant touch, the immediacy of information that the phone and the internet bring that seem to paralyse our kids.

Ever shouted until you are hoarse ‘Dinner TIme’ only to be ignored TOTALLY!!Unknown

Well now is your revenge – an app that allows you to turn off remotely your child’s phone or tablet.

Richard Sah, Co-Founder of DinnerTime and father to three young kids, explains: “I’ve noticed that my children find technology to be addictive, playing games or watching videos on their tablets or phones, and are easily distracted by their devices at dinnertime and bedtime. This gave me the idea for DinnerTime, as I wanted to create something that could help my children focus on other activities, and we could enjoy quality time together.”

Once the parent activates the DinnerTime functionality to pause activity on their child’s device, everything from apps and the internet to texting and calling friends is temporarily disabled. Kids can even see a countdown clock, so they are aware of exactly how much time remains before they are able to access their device again – reducing distractions from schoolwork and family time.

Now that is cool ….

The DinnerTime app has 4 main features and works from the parent’s phone (Android or iPhone) to link up to two kids’ Android devices:

·       Dinner Time: pauses any activity for any set time, up to 2 hours

·       Take a Break: pauses any activity for any set time, up to 24 hours

·       Bed Time: set a start and end time to pause any activity while in Bed Time mode. This still allows kids to access their alarm clock

·       Ability to share the DinnerTime control with another parent by linking to their phone number

The DinnerTime Plus app has the features of DinnerTime, with additional functionalities, including:

·       App and device time limits: set time limits for how long your children can use both the app and the device, regardless of whether the device is online or offline

·       For younger children: ability to display real-time status of your children’s device and which app is currently running

·       Usage reporting and link up to 5 kids’ devices with in-app purchase: see how long your child has used their device and on what apps, so you know exactly what’s distracting them

·       App allow/disallow blocking features: choose which apps your child can access, i.e. only educational apps during exam time

DinnerTime and DinnerTime Plus are now available to download for free:

DinnerTime app, Android:

DinnerTime app, iPhone:

DinnerTime Plus app, Android:


Jun 09

It’s our world – take care of it…

Last week Faber- Castell organised an event giving children their say in ‘saving our world’ by setting up an open studio at Waterloo Train Station in London.

Children and young people aged 4-19 took part in classes and artistic sessions to produce the largest online gallery of artwork celebrating the environment.

Faber-Castell encouraged green fingers and coloured pencils to give young people their voice on the environment

This unique artwork can be viewed by commuters at Europe’s largest indoor ad screen in London Waterloo.

Faber-Castell produces 2.3 billion pencils per year, and has long-since taken a leading role on environmentalism. The company sources all of its wood from renewable sources, while its 14 global production sites use renewable energy sources and efficiency methods work to ensure the company is carbon neutral.

Have your say …. like this page to show your comittment to our environment NOW . Thank you !

Its our worldsave our world

save our world

May 23

Can your children swim?

515 OF CHILDREN 11+ CANT SWIMAccording to academics at the University of East Anglia (UEA) we are failing our children but not insisting that schools provide better swimming instruction in schools.

Britain could become a nation of non-swimmers if drastic changes aren’t made to ensure all young people have access to adequate lessons and facilities.

51 per cent of primary school children are unable to swim the minimum of 25 metres.

“It is a national problem that children cannot swim by age 11,” said Dr Avieson, who along with Dr Lamb is publishing an article in the journal Physical Education Matters, outlining findings and presenting a new training model for teachers.

“Ensuring children have basic swimming skills is the responsibility of both primary and secondary schools and this is a chance to do something about it,” said Dr Avieson. “Teaching children such an important life skill should be a priority and there should be joined-up thinking between primary and secondary schools to address this issue.”

Lack of funding, cost of transport and limited access to a pool – particularly in rural areas – are some of the reasons for a decline in swimming provisions for primary school students.

A new web site has been developed to help teachers to teach children in Key Stage 2 – as a parent you might like to know what it says :

Key Stage 2 National Curriculum requirements – can be found at:


May 21

Vital home safety reminders – water, fires and falls

home safety from ChildalertKeeping Your Home Safe 

Home is where a child learns the ropes of life. It is where he or she is nurtured, loved and cared for and where a child first begins to form an impression of the world around them. A child should feel completely uncompromised and safe within their homes.

A large number of accidental deaths among children is caused due to injuries and events taking place at home. Children sometimes walk out of the front door and into traffic or fall from balconies. Pets who are trusted in the house bite children or they accidentally injure themselves on plastics or kitchen utensils.

These horrid and unfortunate injuries can be prevented through awareness and action. There are quite a few steps that you can take to make your home safer for your child and a few of these are listed below.

  • Water Hazards

Children hate getting into water, but once they get in water, then they hate getting out of it. Water lets them splash around and have fun while their parents fuss over them. However, as a parent, you should be especially careful around water.

Incidents of drowning have occurred in water that is less than an inch in depth. If you are giving your child a bath and someone rings your doorbell or the phone starts to ring, do not leave your child in the bath for even a second. Wrap your baby in a towel and carry him along. If you hire baby sitters and nannies, ensure that they are very clear about this point.

Take care to reduce the settings of your water heater to around 120 degrees F or 50 degrees C. Children are more susceptible to burns from hot water than adults are – so what seems hot to us will be extremely hot to them, and may hurt them.

  •  Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Over two third of fires in the home which have killed children below the age of 5 have happened in homes without fire alarms. Home fires mean that families have few minutes to get out of their homes safely. You can help your chances by installing a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. Smoke alarms should be installed in every room and in every floor of the home. Make sure that your alarms are working by testing them out each month. Remember to replace the batteries annually.

You should also educate the rest of your family about the smoke alarms and help them become familiar with the alarm system. Work on fire drills and on action plans execute when a fire does break out and involve even your youngest child in these drills. Discuss outdoor meeting points where everyone congregates in the event of a fire.

  • Safe Doors, Windows and Stairs

Many children sustain heavy injuries due to accidental falls. Children can break their bones from falls from counter tops and beds so imagine the damage that can happen if they fall from a window or a stairwell. Ensure that there is as little clutter as possible to reduce the risk of your child tripping on anything lying around on the floor. Stairs should be kept clear at all times. Install safety gates which stop your baby from rambling onto the staircase.

Do not encourage your child to play near windows and other openings. Fasten windows and doors securely. Children can squiggle their ways through openings as small as five inches.  Take care to remove all objects of interests from window sills in order to avoid having your child reaching for them and most importantly, remember to keep the front door locked at all times.

see for lots more practical advice


May 01

Keeping the Kids Safe This Half Term

Happy Kids at Easter behind us we are now all looking forward to the May Bank Holidays and of course a sunny ! summer half term. This is only a few weeks away .. but, with excitable children, you need to make sure they are safe in what they do and where they play ; this is often easier said than done. Here are some top tips on how you can keep them safe over half term, no matter what your plans.

Beware of Pollen Warnings

Summer may bring brilliant weather, but the dreaded pollen comes along with it. We’ve already had our first pollen warning of the year, one that warns that June will see the highest level of pollen for the past 50 years. Sadly, the influence of pollen and hay fever can ruin even the most intricately planned half term ventures and, because of this, you have to be constantly aware of the impact it can have.

It is estimated that hay fever affects around 14,000,000 people in the UK and, because there are over 30 symptoms, it takes many different forms. Due to this, if you’re planning to go away over half term, it is vital that you take every step possible to protect your children from high pollen levels. Check online with the Met Office for pollen levels, and ensure you always carry antihistamine. This way, even if they do start to struggle, you have the medicine on hand to stop it taking effect immediately.

Make Car Safety the Priority

Car safety is something that is tragically overlooked by some people. However long it takes to make your child safe in a car- and making sure that child seats are properly installed- is time well spent and the knowledge that they are safe on every journey far outstrips the regret of being 10 minutes late to your destination.

A child’s physical safety isn’t the only element that you should focus on, and you must also consider their internal health. The Labour Party recently tabled an amendment that would make smoking in a car with children illegal.

Research undertaken in 2009 shows that the level of second hand smoke in a stationary car is 11 times greater than the level that would be found in a smoky bar and that, even if you leave a window open, smoke can linger for four hours. To put in into perspective, second hand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and 350,000 children go to visit a GP because of the effects of second hand smoke every year.

As a show of wide-ranging support, even AA Cars have backed the amendment, with their president stating that “Now we know the risks from passive smoking, we would urge all drivers to stub it out… [as well as health risks] the resale value of your car can also be cut by 10% because it smells of smoking”. In all aspects, not smoking seems like the only option to make sure your children are safe this half term.

Establish a Routine for Playtime

Even if you’re not going away this half term, you still need to be aware of safety in the immediate area. Children thrive from structure and, if they’re playing out, you should pay close attention to how they will communicate with you in a safe manner. By keeping them in a routine, they will adapt back to the school routine quickly too, and will also learn about independence. Setting strict curfews and boundaries for them may seem as though you’re mothering them too closely, but it is essential for ensuring they’re safe. As well as this, it will prompt them to be self-serving, monitoring their time and acting on it. In many ways, this is the best form of safety, as it forces a child to think of their own safety constantly, helping them learn an invaluable life skill.

Happy half term!

Apr 18

Kate, Will and baby George – how do they do it ?

prince george on holiday

prince george on holiday


While Prince George is winning a legion of new fans in Australia and New Zealand, the boss of Britain’s first luxury maternity lingerie company has come up with some vital tips for new mums on how to survive their first trip abroad.

Both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge look remarkably relaxed on their whistle-stop tour but the good news is that you don’t need an army of Royal helpers to feel the same.

Jules Canterbury, founder of Amoralia, said with a bit of careful planning, travelling with newborns and young babies needn’t be a nightmare. Indeed, the tour had prompted lots of feedback from mums about their experiences of flying with babies.

Jules said most mums were in agreement with one key piece of advice – “do travel, don’t avoid it”.

“You never regret getting away from it all”, said Jules. “Like anything else, babies will adapt if you give them the confidence to. Summer is coming so look forward to that break – don’t dread it.”

Now Jules has come up with five tips for new and expectant mums.

1.      Arrange flight times to suit the new baby’s routine rather than yours. Aim for the times they would normally sleep – If that’s a flight that takes off at 8pm and might land in a destination late at night don’t worry about it if it means your baby has slept through and you haven’t had to pace the plane trying to keep them quiet.

2.      Dress for success when travelling too. We know it’s tempting to wear layer upon layer to avoid baggage charges. But comfort and practicality are key when pregnant or travelling with nursing babies. Too much hanging around at airports to be burdened with extra jumpers and jackets you don’t need.

3.      Wear a comfy seamless legging (there are some good maternity and post-partum ones), a nursing cami (check out our seamless one here, or a silky soft version here), a long shirt with buttons down the front (Cos has some great ones) as these are easy to open for breastfeeding when sitting down, and the cami will ensure discrete feeding, and a lovely snuggly cashmere scarf (try Hush-uk, Feather & Stone or The White Company) – it’ll work as a blanket for your little one and breastfeeding cover too.

4.      Of course you have to remember baby’s essentials in your hand luggage but don’t forget things to help you feel human at the other end – favourite lip balm or lipstick, hairbrush, facial wipes etc All avoid the ban on liquids.

5.      Ask for help if you need it – despite assumptions to the contrary most of our mums have had a good experience with fellow passengers even those not travelling with children. People are mostly generous human beings and will carry luggage down the steps for you and lift it into overhead lockers. Particularly remember this if you are pregnant as you may be travelling at a stage when it’s not obvious to other people.

Where have you been this Easter break – did you take a new baby or toddler – how did you cope?

Mar 17

Weekend Fun – taking the kids out

Before your children have to cram their time with their studies or their social life, take advantage of week-ends to share the multiple activities on hand close-by. Everyone will benefit from these past-times as they will not have spent time in front of the tv nor on their video games: the further advantages of outdoor fun are that they have acquired a healthy appetite, learnt a skill, socialised with other peers rather than school mates, knowing that you also are participating in their time positively while can take your mind off the daily grind, enjoying the day and share it all with the local parents or residents. A terrific all-rounder!

Free and/or cheap

Time to tighten your belt well help is on hand as there are plenty of local clubs and churches who offer sports and training for little or no money with volunteer organisations sprouting up. Don’t forget to bring a packed lunch or picnic if the little ones are not soaking wet or muddy from rugby and enjoy the togetherness and recounting of the event!

horse riding


You can either register the children at the local or the nearest boat club which does not necessarily mean river or lake but a reservoir: there are clubs who specialise in families learning together or individually in age groups. This will combine both their swimming prowess and communication skills which together can save lives, build up their confidence while having a fantastic time.



Join a club or the local courts where you can learn to coordinate your hand and eye with your footing while exercising: this is an amazing sport that can withstand the length and breadth of time because it can be enjoyed throughout your life, keeping you alert both physically and mentally. It is also a perfect chance to mix with different people and develop long term friendship based on a shared interest.

Horse-back riding

Give the kids a taster of this majestic sport by volunteering at the local farm and they will pet, feed and clean ponies (see above) then horses as they grow older. Once they are at ease with the environment, they can start learning to ride, expanding on their love for nature and all its wonders through animals. You may find yourself with a budding vet! Afterwards they can see how the races can move at the speed of lightning take a look at another great outing for all!


Develop and entice the kids to attend art classes combined with ceramics where they can explore their creativity without being forced into a syllabus. From here they will crave the museum and galleries to open their minds to the vastness of colour, shape and form on all creative platforms. Museums now hold their extraordinary workshops that start from early years onwards plus there are sleepovers for those special birthdays where you can invite all thirty of their friends while never worrying about the mess afterwards!

Happy and fulfilled week-ends to all!


Mar 11

Good holiday destinations for children

When the children start reaching anywhere between five and seven, you can start rethinking your family holidays with a vengeance so start saving!

Rajasthan, India

As the tale goes, Rajasthan is proud to flaunt its hundred thousand dazzling saris which is a must for any keen traveller: the rainbow shades will capture the kids’ imagination and then you could enjoy the hospitable family friendly hotels of the highest standard. There is also a straightforward transportation system to get around where you could enjoy the old city with its labyrinthine streets.

The alternative Christmas break: Santa and his 1001 reindeer, Lapland

Situated above the Arctic Circle, there are sleigh rides, visits to Santa’s very own home and work space, rocketing the pine trees, ice hotels and capturing the northern lights. Starting in Rovaiemi, ski-jumping and then a typical sauna-equipped cabin.

holiday destination

Lego mania in Copenhagen, Denmark

One of the happiest capital’s ever, this city is ideal for a short break at anytime of year. Those Little Mermaid enthusiasts’ can admire the universal statue followed by a walk through the Tivoli Gardens with its magical fairground, thrilling children since 1843. For the teenagers and adults in the group, there is the Christiania off-the-wall atmosphere that is compelling followed by the brightly coloured and designed creations in Legoland only a day trip away.

Child-friendly Fiji

This stunning, peaceful archipelago in the South Pacific is perfect for a restful and revitalising stay where the ultraluxurious resorts, have activities for all the family: from a qualified nanny for the younger ones who looks after their enjoyment while the older kids can enjoy all forms of entertainment from sports, beach time and spa treatments. Re-charging those adult batteries while everyone can enjoy their time.

Oz land

For the true adventurers, you can rent a campervan and explore the wilds of Australia: the young naturalists and geologists will be thrilled by the poisonous species known to creep around and slide behind rocks combined with the family enjoyment of the outdoor air complete with a campfire meal, the wide open horizon that will delight the whole troupe. The ultimate in desert escapade is found when driving to the Uluru (Ayers Rock) and watch the kangaroos hopping around.

Oz Land

Sternen Guesthouse, Gais, Switzerland

Surrounded by the tumbling hills of Appenzell, the hotel is located just outside the village. The hiking and bike trails are easily accessed and there are children’s clubs with a wide range of activities to choose from plus walks and excursions to enjoy the bountiful landscape. If you are interested in shopping, it is worth checking out the kinds of things available on sites like Watches of Switzerland first. The rooms all retain the traditional Appenzell design style with all the modern amenities. The cuisine caters also for vegetarians and uses all the local and regional ingredients, freshly produced. There are even rabbits and goats for the children to become acquainted with.

It will also be a turning point for everyone!

Mar 07

How do Noise and Light Affect a Child?


Ever walked into a room and had to really squint your eyes because the lighting was so poor? Likewise, have you ever been deafened by incredibly loud music or sounds in a room and found yourself wishing you could leave? Well, the same goes for our children in the environments in which they play, learn and generally spend time in. It is important to understand the ways in which noise and light affect children and what you can do to provide the best possible environment for kids

Let’s have a look at why noise and light are such important factors when it comes to children:


It’s no secret that prolonged exposure to loud noises is bad for our hearing, which is why it is especially important that you consider this fact when it comes to the environments that your children are exposed to. This is especially true when it comes to younger children as oftentimes their hearing is more sensitive In fact, studies have shown that prolonged exposure to loud noises can lead to problems like loss of hearing, speech issues, reading and attention skills. Increased blood pressure has also been cited as being one of the effects that loud noises can bring and this can cause other issues as a result.

noise and light

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Noise can also be an issue when it comes to concentration. Children can become distracted by certain noises and their motivation for tasks drops as a result. This is a particularly important factor when it comes to learning environments as high concentration levels are needed to achieve the most effective absorption of knowledge.

Some buildings are just generally noisy. It may be that they are old and so have the added noises that come with older properties like creaking floorboards, doors and windows. Or they may be modern but situated in a noisy area, which inevitably leads to increased noise levels inside the building. A few easy ways to reduce noise levels are by adding soft carpets or rugs to bare floors and covering windows with thick curtains to reduce outside noise. Double-glazing significantly reduces traffic noise and so is a great investment.


As with noise, light plays a significant role in our children’s development, particularly in schools and nurseries. Light can actually affect the physical and psychological health of kids, which is why it should always be a focal point when it comes to interior design.

For example, in schools, the right lighting actually promotes learning. Extremely bright lights can be over-stimulating and dimly-lit rooms can lead to lethargy and even depression. In fact it’s not usually the amount of light that matters, but the quality. Factors to consider are glare, reflection, brightness, shadow, contrast and colour rendition.

noise and light

Image courtesy of potowizard /

The key, when it comes to lighting, is to experiment and see the results for yourself. Remember though to check the lighting from a child’s level and not just your own. Natural light is obviously the best, so installing sky lights can be a great way to brighten up a room and fill it with natural light. If however, sky lights are impractical, there are many specialist lighting retailers who can provide solutions such as Lampcommerce.


Mar 04

It’s pancake day ! My favourite …..

strove tuesday and pancakesHow to make fool proof pancakes

We are so looking forward to our pancakes this evening … are you making some if so follow this fool proof recipe – the kids will love them.

Basic pancake recipe 
(makes about 12 small pancakes)  

▪                100g white plain flour

▪                1 egg

▪                150ml milk

▪                150ml water

▪                1 teaspoon olive oil (plus more for greasing the pan)

Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and break in the egg.

Add a little milk and stir gently. Add the rest of the milk slowly and stir until smooth. Stir in the water and oil and beat for one minute.

(If you have an electric whisk bung all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until you have a smooth batter).

Heat a drop of oil in an omelette pan. When the pan is really hot, pour in about 3 tablespoons of batter. Cook for just under a minute – using a spatula to keep an eye on how it’s cooking.

Now the fun bit … FLIP IT – or if you find you’re dropping too many, turn it over with the spatula.

Cook the other side for 15 seconds.

cover with sugar and lemon juice. ENJOY!


What are pancakes all about ?pancake day at

Pancake Day is also known as Shove Tuesday and is the last day before the period which Christians call Lent .  Lent is a time to give up (abstain) from something you enjoy  as a ‘giving’ to your  belief and in respect to Jesus who suffered in this period leading up to his death on the cross.

We eat pancakes on Strove Tuesday as it is the last time to indulge yourself and the fat , butter and eggs that make up pancakes traditionally were good energy food which were forbidden during Lent.


Lent ends on Easter Sunday when you celebrate with food again !

Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between 3 February and 9 March. 41 days before Easter.

Feb 24

Six tips for protecting your child from flu

children's fluLethargy, a stuffy nose, aching muscles, dry coughs andfever – getting the flu can be an unpleasant time for anybody, let alone young children. Not only will it mean keeping your child away from school or nursery, but you may have to take time off of work to look after them. Complications can also arise, particularly in children with heart conditions or diabetes, and a hospital stay may be necessary in some cases. While children seem to be magnets for dirt and germs, there are plenty of ways you can help prevent your child from getting infected with the flu virus.

1)      Keep vaccinations up to date

In 2014, for the first time in the UK, healthy children aged two and three will be given the chance to be vaccinated against the flu as part of the NHS Childhood Vaccination programme. Over time, this programme will gradually extend to include all children across the UK aged between two and 16. And there’s no need to worry about scary needles, a simple nasal spray, squirted into each nostril, is enough to protect your child against the flu virus. Getting vaccinated won’t necessarily mean your child won’t get ill or is immune to the flu virus, but it can significantly reduce their chance of getting infected. Should they still get infected with the flu virus after vaccination, symptoms are usually milder and the illness often won’t last as long.

2)      Teach good cough etiquette

With flu germs travelling up to six feet after an uncovered cough or sneeze, it’s no wonder children are good at spreading illnesses, as their sneezes tend to go everywhere. Teaching your children the habit of covering their mouths with a tissue when they cough and sneeze and to throw the tissue away immediately after will help lots. If no tissue is on hand, a last resort could be to sneeze into the crook of your arm, as this can provide a better shield than your bare hands.

3)      Keep hands and surfaces clean

The flu virus can survive on unwashed hands for up to 30 minutes. Keep your children’s hands clean by ensuring they wash them before and after eating, after they use the bathroom and especially after coughing or sneezing. A simple splash under the tap is not sufficient either. Use plenty of soap and hot water and wash for around 15 to 20 seconds, about the time it takes to sing two rounds of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song.

4)      Disinfect hard surfaces and toys

While the flu virus can live for up to 30 minutes on unwashed hands, it can sometimes survive for up to two days on some hard surfaces. This means an infected person with poor cough etiquette can create a trail of contaminated surfaces with everything they touch. If someone in the house is already infected use a virus-killing disinfectant or diluted bleach solution to disinfect any hard surfaces. Light switches, taps, telephones, door handles, keyboards, TV remotes and any shared toys should all be disinfected regularly to avoid passing on the virus.

5)      Eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke

It’s well known that second-hand tobacco smoke can cause breathing problems, ear infections, lung infections and even cancers in children. However, researchers at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora have now found children exposed to second-hand smoke also have a higher risk of upper respiratory tract problems and are more likely to develop complications from the flu. While keeping your child away from tobacco smoke won’t necessarily protect them from getting the flu, it may prevent serious complications developing. The seven-year study led by Dr. Karen Wilson, an assistant professor specializing in paediatric emergency medicine, also found smoke-exposed children took longer to recover from the flu and remained in hospital 70 percent longer than children not exposed. “This is a preventable cause of severe flu,” explains Wilson, “and it’s sad that children are in a position to be exposed even though these serious complications can occur,

6)      Build a healthy body

Having a fit and healthy child means their body is well-equipped to fight off any infection they may encounter. Poor diet, stress and lack of exercise or sleep will weaken the immune system and reduce the number and efficiency of the cells needed to fight off intruders to protect the body. Ensure your child gets plenty of daily exercise and has a good, regular sleep routine. Access to a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables will also provide them with all the nutrients they need to build a strong, healthy body.

children's flu

Dr Nigel Smith is a partner at Blossoms Healthcare, clinic specialised in health assessments, GP services, and occupational health. Nigel has over thirty years experience in managing complex health risks within working environments, as well as the refined skills necessary to support the most discerning of private patients.

Feb 07

One in five parents fail to monitor their child’s online activity

smartphoneMore than a quarter (27 per cent) of parents have said via a study put together by Kaspersky Lab, that they ‘think’ their children have been exposed to online risks, such as accessing inappropriate content or cyber bullying in the past 12 months. Why ‘think’ ?

It is time to encourage open communication with our children – talk to them daily about their internet usage – what they have been doing, what they have seen? Use of the internet needs to be viewed as a point for conversation and not something you do in isolation. Dealing with issues, like cyber bullying or inappropriate images should be talked through with a trusted adult. Numbers and contacts on apps can both be blocked if they are making children uncomfortable, and you will only know this if you keep talking.

Despite this research one in five parents (22 per cent) takes no action to govern their children’s online activity – whether on the home computer or mobile devices.

Regardless of how their children are accessing the internet, parents must remain vigilant, supervise their internet use and consider parental control technologies. However, as a parent myself, I find these statistics particularly worrying when you consider the increasing number of children using connected smartphones today. After all, when children use mobile devices to access the web, they are using the same internet, with the same risks – yet parents are often not as aware of the dangers.

The study also found that 18 per cent of parents had lost money or data from their personal device as a result of their child’s unmonitored access.

There is a common misconception that smartphones and tablets don’t need the same level of protection as a PC, but with such a high percentage of parents not having a clear view of their children’s online activity, this way of thinking needs to change. The internet is an incredible resource, both for social use and in an educational capacity. But in the same way as we would teach our children to cross the road safely, we must teach them to be aware of, and respect, the dangers of the internet. Just because a threat is out of sight, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep it front of mind.

David Emm  from Kaspersky Lab offers the following tips to stay safe online:

1.    Both Android smartphones and iPhones come with in-built parental controls – when purchasing a smartphone, ask the sales assistants to demonstrate these features. They have policies in place and a responsibility to make parents aware of these. By creating a demand, it is more likely they will let other parents know.

2.    Apply settings that prevent in-app purchases to save hefty bills should children stumble across a game with expensive add-ons.

3.    Install security software – these providers will offer apps to filter out inappropriate content, for example, adult images and senders of nuisance SMS messages.

4.    Encourage children to talk about their online experience and in particular, anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Open a channel of communication so they feel they can discuss all areas of their online life without fear of judgement or reprimand.

5.    Protecting children from cyber bullies is especially challenging with smartphones as they can be targeted in so many ways, especially out of view of their parents.

6.    There are sites that can help and advise parents and children on how to manage online threats. Take a look at

Feb 03

Creating a happy home: Top tips for mood-boosting interiors

Is your home a healthy, happy environment? If not this could be down to your home interior. Did you know that the right interior can boost the mood?

If you’re looking to create a more harmonious living environment for you and your family, a little revamp of your current décor could be just what’s needed.

  1. 1.     Focus on the lighting

Lighting is one of the major things that can affect your mood. In winter when there’s very little natural light, many people suffer with a condition known commonly as SAD (or Seasonal Affective Disorder).

By introducing various light sources into the home, it can really help to boost your mood. Focus on chandeliers, dimmable lighting and candles. You can even add wooden French doors to help bring more light into the home.

  1. 2.     Don’t be too minimalistic

One of the most modern forms of home décor is minimalism. While this can help to create a more organised and cleaner living space, it doesn’t do much for your mood.

If you create a room that’s too minimalistic it can actually really bring you down. You need to make sure you have a few items scattered around the room that help you to feel grounded. Photos, books and creative projects are all great for adding a personal touch to a room.

  1. 3.     Add wooden elements

Wood has a natural, warm look. There’s an endless supply of wooden furniture and accessories you can invest in. Adding little elements of nature into the home can really help to boost your mood.

  1. 4.     Paint the room

The simplest way to boost your mood via your interior is to give the room a fresh coat of paint. If you currently have neutral coloured walls, paint them a warmer colour. Browns, reds and gold will all help to brighten up the home and help to create a happier environment.

  1. 5.     Move everything around 

If you really don’t have the budget to spend on updating your interiors, moving things around can really help. A change of scenery is sometimes all you really need. Read up on the principles of Feng Shui and you could soon restore harmony back to your home in next to no time.

a happy home

Dec 02

Gifts for all the family

86363It’s always nice to give family orientated presents from you and the children to grandparents, aunties and uncles but in an era filled with expensive, impersonal gifts and flashy gadgets it can be difficult to find a gift for a family member that really means something.

For a merry Christmas, we’ve found a variety of fun personal gifts that the whole family can enjoy.


If you’re on a low budget, let the children get stuck in with making gifts. Handmade presents really show you care and can mean a lot more than vouchers or gift sets. Get the children to make personalised Christmas cards for all the family and help them make biscuits, sweets or chutneys to give as gifts. Alternatively, put together a bespoke hamper of each family member’s favourite food and treats for a thoughtful and delicious gift. All you need is some pretty ribbon and bags, jars or baskets to turn your handmade creations into beautiful, thoughtful Christmas presents.

Day trips

Christmas is all about spending time with the family, so make the day last longer by pre-booking a trip out with the grandparents and other family members. Tickets to football matches or the theatre can make for a great day out for the family, or package trips can be easily booked online. If you’re on a bigger budget, get the grandparents a year’s family membership to the National Trust or English Heritage for fun, cheap days out as a family for the rest of the year. If you’re really looking to splash out, book a few days away for the whole family to a secluded cabin or lodge for some precious family bonding time. Don’t forget to take your camera to make those memories last.


Nothing says a family gift like photos. Instead of the standard school photo, order a canvas print of a special family occasion or an action shot of the children, which family members can display proudly on their walls. Alternatively, design your own personalised calendar or diary with a different family photo every month and smaller photos throughout the calendar on special occasion days to turn your family’s year into a useful gift. Personalised photo albums are also a great gift for families to keep forever and look back on in generations to come.

Personalised gifts

Whatever gift you have in mind, personalise it with a family member’s name or a special message. Anything from mugs and tankards, jewellery, photo frames and even iPods can be personalised with a message of your choice, creating a gift that’s unique to them and is a lasting memory of your Christmas together. If you’re looking to buy a gift for a whole family try personalised cushions, cookie jars or wall art to add a unique touch to their home that they’re sure to love.

Nov 25

Anti-Bullying : Is there cause for concern?

One parent to anotherThe UK’s Anti-Bullying Alliance released some extremely interesting statistics about kids’ thoughts on cyber bullying and what emerged was quite alarming. More than half (55%) of kids surveyed agreed that cyberbullying is part of normal, everyday life and 51% or parents said it makes them worry for their child’s safety.

This simply isn’t good enough. It’s important that we make sure our kids understand that cyberbullying or any type of bullying is not acceptable and we should all work together to eradicate this from life online and offline. I have a son with red hair and I am sure other kids make fun of it in everyday playground teasing, this is of course bullying and if it became extreme I would take action. Does my son think this sort of playground name-calling is bullying? Probably not. But when that playground is the Internet, it’s clear that it would be classed as cyberbullying.

My point here is that there are varying degrees of bullying and while all of them are unacceptable, society, government, teachers and parents need to address the worst cases first so that we no longer hear stories of kids committing suicide, taking anti-depressants or becoming reclusive.

There are many organisations and government sponsored activities to highlight the issue and provide great assistance to families, kids and teachers when the need arises. I support the call by the Anti-Bullying Alliance that online safety and security should be a mandatory curriculum subject. But we need to be realistic, teaching online safety isn’t going to eradicate cyberbullying. Kids naturally tend to push boundaries, often beyond acceptable levels, so it will never disappear completely.

With that in mind we need to better equip parents with the information and knowledge of what to do when there is an issue – and the chapter the book – ‘one parent to another’ – on cyberbullying is a good place to start! Teaching our kids should be a priority but it’s important for parents to build a greater understanding too so that we are tackling the problem in a uniform manner!

Childalert have six copies to give away – please like our facebook page and email

About the Author

Tony Anscombe, Online Safety Expert at AVG Technologies and father of a teenage son provides us with an introduction to his book ‘one parent to another’ that launched this week. Tony is giving away 6 copies of his book to Childalert readers, if you are not lucky enough to get a hard copy you can download the full online version here.

The need to keep our kids safe online is always on our mind, and amongst all the scare headlines we often forget that the internet is in fact a great place for our children to learn. With Anti-Bullying week now coming to a close, which I am sure highlighted the need for extra vigilance online for some of you, there is still a lack of clarity over how we as parents can help our kids navigate the online world

We are heading towards a time of year that will see our kids getting new gadgets as gifts and in the excitement of giving or receiving we rarely give a thought to how we should be safeguarding our child on these new shiny toys. The Christmas season brings with it a whole complexity of challenges for us as parents, but how to protect our children online should not and does not need to be one of these!

I launched a book this week on online safety, a how to guide for parents if you like that will hopefully help you navigate your child through any problems he/she might encounter online. I was inspired to write this as I have had so many conversations with parents since joining AVG Technologies as Online Safety Expert that I wanted to offer parents more broadly – some useful awareness and educational advice for protecting their kids online.

As this is my first stab at playing author I am overwhelmed with the reception to the book. Having never written a book like this before, or laid bare my concerns/fears as a father to a teenage boy, I was very nervous about whether people would enjoy the read. But given the great reception so far I guess I can take a breather!

As a parent of a teenager and being involved in many discussions and events about child safety online it was common place to find myself having long discussions with parents on ‘appropriate’ technology use. As I have said to nearly all parents the line in the sand is different for each and every one of us as we all have different expectations of our kids, and differing views on what should be considered reasonable internet usage.

Saying this, there are of course a few hard and fast rules that you should know and hopefully my book is a good place to start guiding you through these!

I hope you enjoy the book and I welcome feedback, thoughts and discussion on the ideas and content.

You can follow me on Twitter as @TonyatAVG and you can find my Google+ profile here

Nov 18

Green parent – eco toys

takealongtoolkitWith world leaders meeting from every corner of the globe to discuss innovations in adapting to greener lifestyles, to city dwellers planting trees on their roofs to offset carbon emissions, the world is collectively embroiled in leading an eco-friendly existence. Many parents are recognising the importance of practising greener lifestyles, a trend which is reflected through the choice of toys parents are buying for their children.

Eco wooden toys are ethically sourced, safe and have environmentally-friendly credentials.

Wooden toys

For centuries, parents have used wooden toys to help keep their youngsters occupied and entertained and to assist with their physical and emotional development. We cannot ignore that despite the myriad of inexpensive plastic toys laden with fancy lights, noises and a bulk of batteries, some parents are turning their backs on these plastic toys in favour of traditional wooden ones.

There are several reasons as to why (despite the obvious attraction of the glitzy and glamorous plastic toys) wooden counterparts have experienced particular popularity in recent years.

Wooden toys allow children to create the scene themselves and make the sounds to accompany the play, thus promoting creativity. This contrasts to plastic toys which usually have noises incorporated thus stifling creativity.

Also parents have been propelled into abandoning plastic toys due to the potential of them containing dangerous chemicals in favour of wooden toys. The educational value of wooden toys can also not be ignored. Wooden puzzles, easels and building blocks all have many educational benefits such as developing young children’s creativity, cognitive and literacy skills.

Another reason is with all the inherent plastic and paper packaging and the pollution generated when disposing of plastic toys in landfill sites, the impact on the environment soon adds up. All of a sudden what seems like a small and innocent Barbie doll equates to a huge ecological burden. Green parents recognise the adverse impact plastic toys have on the environment and are opting to buy wooden toys. These toys have often been handmade by a local crafter or by companies which pride themselves on their ethical values. Without any plastic or polyester, many wooden toys are made from sustainable sources and therefore adhere to green parents’ commitment to buying toys that are eco-friendly.

Fair trade toys

By enabling people to use their resources and skills to trade their way out of poverty, fair trade products seek to improve the lives of local workers living in developing countries. Fair trade aims to create opportunities for poor producers, ensure trading practices are fair, to maintain safe working conditions and to ensure that children are not exploited.

Fair trade toys are typically made out of wood and are lovingly handmade and painted. Being made out of natural materials, parents can have peace of mind that the items they are giving their children are environmentally friendly and have been ethically produced. As well as being an eco-friendly choice, most fair trade toys have an educational value, designed to promote literacy, numeracy and creativity.

British made wooden toys

Recently there has been a renaissance with manufacturers bringing production back to the UK and also the increasing visibility of British made wooden toys with the Made in Britain symbol in the shops as well as in newspapers/magazines. One of the reasons is reducing the carbon footprint and also that the manufacturer can being assured of the source and quality of wood which ensures high quality and safe toys are manufactured.

Millhouse Healthy Eating Kitchen and Market Stall

This award-winning wooden kitchen and market stall is representative of the renaissance of an increased visibility of wooden toys made in the UK. Having a fully equipped kitchen on one side which transforms to a market stall when turned round, this multi-functional toy is perfect for encouraging interaction, role play and fun. What’s more being made out of wood, the Millhouse Healthy Eating Kitchen is a quality, long-lasting toy with an eco-friendly edge.

Traditional/retro toys

Retro and traditional toys will never be replaced by computer games and plastic toys, especially for parents who are green-minded. Instead of encouraging violence, retro toys instead encourage creativity and imagination. Many traditional/retro toys, such as mechanical cars, musical boxes and pogo sticks encourage a child to move around and play creatively.

The Slow Toy Movement

Since the Slow Toy Movement was launched in 2011, many parents have seen the benefits of buying toys that observe the movement’s mission -  to find ‘real toys’ that are “well made, good quality and most importantly give the freedom for creativity and encourage traditional play, without the distractions of flashing lights and electronic music.”

As Slow Toy Movement toys are not made out of plastic and are battery-free, these wonderfully traditional toys offer a modern twist on a classic toy and are a firm favourite for environmentally-friendly parents.

Safety, durability, getting value for money and being an environmentally-friendly choice are just a few of the many reasons why parents are returning back to simple wooden and retro toys.

For a diverse range of high quality wooden and traditional toys made from ethically sourced materials, visit Born To Toddle’s toys for children. Also go to our Pinterest boards for more inspiring ideas.

Nov 14

Tips for Cleaning Your House after the Kids are Sick

Despite your best efforts to prevent it, your kids will end up sick at some point or another. As unfortunate as this is, it happens to everyone. The key to quickly coming out of this is to keep the germs from spreading to the rest of the family. Disinfecting the house is one of the best ways to prevent anyone else from contracting the illness.

How to Sanitize Your Home after Illness

Where do you even start when it comes to cleaning the house after an illness? If you can, open up some windows to get fresh air into your home. This air will not only clear out any strange smells that are lingering, it will also help replenish the stale air with fresh air.

Cleaning you home after an illness

Start by cleaning the items that are the most frequently touched, like door knobs, remotes, cell phones and light switches.

If it’s sunny outside, lay your pillows and bedding outdoors in the sun to disinfect them.

Wash any soft surfaces, like stuffed animals, and dry them in a hot dryer to kill germs.

Since rubbish bins will be filled with germ-filled tissues, empty them all out and sanitize them.

If your baby was the one who was sick, make sure that you clean the changing table thoroughly.

When you’re contending with a stomach virus it’s important to soak or replace the sick person’s toothbrush.

Invest in disinfecting wipes and constantly wipe down any and all surfaces in your home.

Cleaning Those Forgotten Areas

It’s easy to overlook cleaning some areas of your home; however, those surfaces can hold tons of germs. For instance, the drawers in your refrigerator can hold germs that can make your entire family ill. To avoid this, line them with paper towels.

Make sure to microwave your ‘cleaning’ sponges on a regular basis to kill germs.

The kitchen sink, can hold more germs than a toilet. Bleach it.

Toys and play areas like tables and toy kitchens can hold many germs – clean with a solution of water and bleach.

Window and door tracks often contain bugs and dirt that can lead to colds and other illnesses.

It’s important to remember to clean your vacuum because it picks up all sorts of germs.

The dog bowl is one of the dirtiest places in your house, so make it a point to clean it often.

Make sure you are cleaning your reusable water bottles on a regular basis as they will hold bacteria and germs.

Declutter your home to prevent and help after Illness

Stacks of items and other clutter hold dust mites as well as other germs that could be making you sick.

The living room is often where you or the kids lie down when they are sick. There will be less to clean and sanitize if this room is decluttered before you get sick.

Streamlining the kitchen will save you time before and after you are sick, and having a decluttered kitchen makes it easier for someone else to come in and help you if you are sick.

Cleaning the Kitchen to Avoid Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illnesses can make your family really sick. These types of illnesses are typically contracted because of cross contamination in the kitchen or a problem with food preparation. There are ways to prevent foodborne illnesses at home, though. Two easy tricks: keep surfaces clean and be careful to not to use the same knife with raw meat that you do with cooked.

Wash hands and surfaces often

Make sure the utensils are cleaned to 160 degrees and that you don’t use the same utensils with both raw meat and cooked food.

Carefully wash fruits and vegetables to avoid passing on these germs to your family.

The kitchen sink comes into contact with raw chicken and other meats, not to mention other chemicals from fruits, making it imperative to keep it clean.

When someone in the house comes down with a virus wash everything down in the kitchen with a bleach solution and use disposable dishes until the sickness has passed.

Cleaning the kitchen daily will prevent the spread of some germs so that you can avoid leftover germs from reinfecting a family member.

It’s important to continuously kill the germs on your kitchen sponge when cleaning up after a sick person.

Cleaning Up After Your Child Has Thrown Up

Unfortunately, cleaning up after your child has vomited is part of being a loving parent.  It’s not fun! One thing to remember is that you need to clean up the carpet immediately because it may stain the carpet if left to dry.

Scrub the carpet with vinegar to get the smell of vomit out and then use baking soda as a secondary deodorizer once it’s dry.

Keep a grocery sack lined bin near the sick child so that they can use it and you can clean up without much hassle.

Vomit on a Couch Using vinegar or baking soda can pull the smell of throw up out of the couch.

Wash sheets and clothes that have been vomited on right away and start cleaning the carpet immediately because if it dries it’s likely to stain.

If you prefer to avoid harsh chemicals when you are cleaning your home there are several alternatives that will work just as well as for killing germs. Vinegar and tea tree are natural solutions that will disinfect surfaces, for example.

Use a vinegar solution on your door handles to make sure you remove any germs that could reinfect your family.


Oct 02

That perfect Sunday roast

Roast DinnerWe have to admit we all LOVE a good Sunday roast. It may not be our favourite thing to cook as it takes time and preparation (and there’s usually a fair amount of washing-up to be done afterwards too), but we all love sitting down to a good hearty home cooked roast dinner.

Roast chicken

To achieve the perfect roast chicken (and miles tastier than the rotisserie one from the supermarket) pre-heat your oven to the highest temperature and then turn down to 200°C when you put your chicken in.

Place a well pricked lemon in your chicken’s cavity to give it extra flavour before popping it in the oven. When you take your chicken out of the oven cover it with tinfoil and a tea towel until you are ready to carve.

Roast beef

A lot of people are afraid of cooking a roast beef in case they under/over cook it. The key to this is pay attention to the cooking times and if you like it medium-rare, take it out five to ten minutes early. For well done, leave it in for an extra ten to fifteen minutes.

As with the chicken, when you take your beef out of the oven cover it with tin foil and a tea towel  while you prepare your gravy and trimmings. Don’t forget to baste your meat halfway through cooking either!


Roast veggies are just as important as the meat. If the veggies aren’t up to par the roast is a disappointment. Par-cooking/boiling is key when it comes to roast root vegetables. Once parboiled, toss them in flavoured oil and roast until golden and crisp.

If you put these in when the meat has about 40 minutes left to cook you’ll have more room in the oven to move them up a shelf when the meat is out. If you do not have the time to cook your own roast potatoes, try some frozen oven cook ones.

Some of these are just as good as doing them yourself. If you’re stuck for which ones to try, choose McCain. They’re known for their delicious potato treats!


Top any roast dinner off with a super scrummy crumble, it doesn’t matter if it’s home cooked or shop bought; a good crumble is the perfect ending to any roast dinner providing it has lashings of fresh cream!

Sep 16

Deadline for child benefit claims approaching

child benefit Parents have until 5 October to request self-assessment forms

The deadline to request self-assessment forms for parents affected by changes to child benefit for high earners is fast approaching, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is warning today.

Any parent who earns between £50,000 and £60,000 can elect to continue to receive child benefit but they must complete a self-assessment form and will have to repay a proportion of the benefit they receive, by way of a tax charge, at the end of the tax year.

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA head of taxation, says: “If you earn over £50,000 and continue to claim child benefit but do not complete a self-assessment form you could be liable, not only to repay part of all of the benefit claimed by way of a tax charge on the highest earner of the couple, but also interest and penalties on the tax unpaid.

“It could be an entirely innocent mistake, you may not realise that your partner earns over the threshold introduced by January’s changes and be unaware of the need to self-assess, but that is unlikely to garner any sympathy from the taxman. If you are unsure whether you are affected by this you need to discuss yours and their earnings with your partner, and in many instances it may be necessary to get advice from an ACCA qualified accountant.”

For more information on the 5 October deadline you can visit:

Sep 03

Hobbs has always been one of my mainstay shops.

Hobbs-AW13-NW3-Look_(3)Pre children I spent a lot of time wearing their classic styles, I loved the lines that use to make me feel smart yet trendy and snappy.  Also Hobbs shoes were and still are to die for – I had a real thing for boots and shoes.

When my children were tiny there wasn’t quite the same incentive and anyway time and money spiraled in other directions.

There was the occasional seasonal outfit I would purchase – I remember a wonderful muted floral dress I bought one Christmas … and still have.

But yesterday things turned on their head. I was wandering around Covent Garden in London with my 16 year old daughter who was intent on going to Hobbs to check out their NW3 styles – she needed a suit for school – she didn’t want any old suit, she specifically wanted a chic jacket to be worn with skirt or trousers from Hobbs. I was so pleased, not only an excuse to go in myself but my little girl showed extemporary taste.

So a few £££ later we walked out weighed down by a large number of bags. The trousers we bought from Hobbs were probably our favourite purchase of the day but the jacket, two pairs of shoes, a pair of brogues and alternating pretty pumps were key purchases too. Come to think about it, everything was a clear favourite!

Who would have thought Hobbs would be on the list of ‘back to school’

And for me … well I went for the accessories – a much needed belt, scarf and handbag !  They’re gorgeous.

I do want to make this point – it gave me enormous pleasure to see my daughter looking effortlessly smart. Fashion is a funny thing, most parents (I think) would agree that the trend is for youngsters is to look more trampy than sophisticated! It’s always a worry, as described by facebooks CNN readers.

A recent poll also suggested that fashion on the high street is mostly inappropriate for the 7-15 year olds:

Too sexy  64%

Cute but occasionally too grown-up  25%

Mostly acceptable  6%

Always acceptable and value for money 5%



These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.


What are your views?

Is it ok to state the argument that if it’s inappropriate don’t buy it?

How much fashion control do we have over our teenage children now-a-days?

Aug 20

How to preventing common fires within the home

fires safetyWhen you hear the words ‘fire safety’ you may well instantly associate the term with workplace regulations, and the constant warnings, signs and fire drills we are subjected to during our working week. This is all very well, if only we retained and applied these safety measures to our home lives too.

It might surprise you that over 72% of the recorded fatalities from fires actually occur in the home.

The worst thing is that most of these fires are entirely preventable. Fires can be devastating; they can tear families apart and destroy homes, taking valuable possessions along with them.

Every day, people accidentally start fires by falling asleep with cigarettes in their hands, leaving candles burning in an empty room, or by leaving cooking food unattended, to name but a few.

All of these situations are careless and easily avoidable.

Did you know…?

Official statistics derived from the directgov fire safety report 2011 found that:

  • You are more than twice as likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm that works
  • 18 people each year die because the battery in their smoke alarm was flat or missing
  • Over half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents
  • Three fires a day are started by candles
  • Every three days, someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette
  • Faulty electrics, such as appliances, wiring or overloaded sockets, account for approximately 7,000 house fires across the country every year
  • Over 500 children are injured and 11 killed in house fires each year
  • 6,000 fires a year are caused by children under the age of 10

Essential Fire Safety Tips and Preventative Measures

The best preventative measure within any potentially hazardous situation is to ensure that you remain focused and do not get distracted when performing a task.

An obvious place that fires can start within the home is the kitchen; leaving food unattended when it is cooking, especially on a gas hob, can have disastrous consequences. Children especially should not be left unattended in the kitchen, near open fires or around electrical outlets. It is best practice to keep any obtrusions away from open fires, and ensure that candles are never left unattended.

At least one smoke alarm should be installed on every floor of your home. Smoke alarms should be routinely tested (at least once every two months) to ensure they are still functioning correctly.

Fire extinguishers should also be available on every floor.

Emergency numbers should be clearly marked in a place that everyone can see. Ensure that all members of your family are aware of fire exits, and consider a fire evacuation procedure within your home, especially if you have a large household.

Fire doors could make a significant difference to the welfare of you and your family, but they are often dismissed as an option as they are so heavy and cumbersome to open and walk through. If this is the case, consider a wireless door control system such as a Dorgard.

These devices are perfect for the home, allowing for doors to be kept propped open throughout the day, and automatically closing them as soon as a fire alarm sounds.

Aug 18

Travelling abroad with children: Car vs. Train

Tips-For-Traveling-With-KidsWhen on holiday with children, it often feels safer to stick in one spot, to not venture too far from the beaten path.

However this can pretty much limit your holiday options for eighteen years, and there is so much for your children to enjoy when you take them on holiday and go and explore.

Whenever we go away we treat it as an adventure.

Most recently we travelled to Spain, and stayed in the north of the country.  We flew into Zaragoza and picked up our hire car.  It is easy to find cheap car hire in Spain and other European destinations. Iit is worth booking in advance to ensure you save Euros.  You can attempt to travel by train or bus, but in my experience the car is often a more stress free choice.

Car Hire vs. Train travel


In a hire car, you can pack as much as you will need, travel cots, travel high chairs, and clothes, plus toys.  The car will normally carry as much as you want to cram into it.  The train is the opposite, you need to travel lightly and be able to hold all that you need on your back.  The train works when travelling solo or as a couple, but since I have had children, my mode of transport needs a great big boot.


Surviving a trip with children that involves travelling can be a challenge.  In the car you can maintain a happy environment, sing along CD’s, stopping at beauty spots, and loud car games are all perfect ways to maintain harmony.  The train has the advantage of allowing you to stretch your legs, but, not all travellers are sympathetic to crying toddlers and raucous pre teens.  You could find the journey extremely stressful from a parenting point of view.

Price Tag

We are a family of five, and we have to buy tickets for each of us.  When we travelled to Northern Spain we looked at how much the train would cost us in order for us to reach the different destinations we had planned to see.  The price was astronomical.  The car came out much cheaper, even with petrol added on.  Because it was a hire car, with lower emissions, I lost some of my guilt about trying to live green, knowing if we had brought our own people carrier over the ocean it would have hurt the environment far more, because of the age of our vehicle.

In my opinion, travelling with young kids is a great way to spend a break, but hiring a car beats train travel every time whilst they are still small.

By Jane Blackmore, writer, blogger, traveller.

ALSO read: Childalert’s Travelling with Children

Jul 27

Domestic Violence – why dealing with it later is just too late!

Baby Buzz Logo-2











The Maria Stubbings Story

The family of a woman strangled by her former boyfriend and Refuge, the national domestic violence charity, are calling on the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to set up a Stephen Lawrence-style public inquiry to examine why victims of domestic violence, are still not getting sufficient protection from the police and other government agencies.

A highly critical report by the police watchdog was published recently, with the family of Maria telling the Guardian, that nothing short of a formal inquiry would prevent another family having to experience the failures by Essex police, that contributed to her death.

Maria was strangled to death and left in the downstairs toilet of her home in Chelmsford, Essex, in December 2008 by her former boyfriend, Marc Chivers. The police knew he had killed before, and that he had served time in prison for assaulting Maria. Yet, by the time that Chivers left prison, Essex police had disabled a panic alarm they had installed in her house, and failed to carry out any risk assessment when they did so – one of a number of failings highlighted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Manuel Fernandez, Maria’s brother, said his sister’s death must be a “catalyst for change” and an inquiry was needed to make sure that it takes place. “If there was ever a case that is an example of the state failing to protect a woman, then this is the case,” he said. “Since Maria’s death, there has been a degree of rhetoric about how things have changed, and yet, there is a long list of cases like Maria’s that continues to grow. How can this continue?

On another occasion, when Maria called for help after Chivers turned up at her home and stole her medication, the report of the incident was downgraded from domestic violence involving a “very high-risk victim” to a “burglary”

In the intervening days, police made several ineffectual attempts to contact Maria, including one visit where they turned up at her home to find Chivers in the house, and passed him a note asking for her to call them. When police finally realised the danger Maria was in – eight days later – they arrived at her home to discover her body hidden under a pile of coats in the downstairs toilet. Chivers was still in the house with Maria’s 15-year-old son, Bengi, whom he was closely watching in case the boy found his mother’s body.

Bengi now 19, said: “It is horrific to discover the extent of the police failings and hard to understand how they got it so wrong. The risk to my mum was clear. I don’t want other women and other children to go through an experience like that. We all deserve help and protection when we’re in danger – and they knew the danger.”

Thank you to BabyBuzz Magazine

Also read Childalert’s article: Domestic Violence

SPEAK UP if you suspect Domestic Violence or Abuse.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating — telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it — keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life. Talk to the person in private and let him or her know that you’re concerned. Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he or she feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let him or her know that you’ll help in any way you can.

Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.

Help For Abused Men

If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It happens to men from all cultures and all walks of life. Figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed, or they fear they won’t be believed, or worse, that police will assume that since they’re male they are the perpetrator of the violence and not the victim.

An abusive wife or partner may hit, kick, bite, punch, spit, throw things, or destroy your possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack you while you’re asleep or otherwise catch you by surprise. She may also use a weapon, such as a gun or knife, or strike you with an object, abuse or threaten your children, or harm your pets. Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to violence.

Your spouse or partner may also: ·

Verbally abuse you, belittle you, or humiliate you in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media sites. · Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful. · Take away your car keys or medications, try to control where you go and who you see. · Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations. · Make false allegations about you to your friends, employer, or the police, or find other ways to manipulate and isolate you. · Threaten to leave you and prevent you from seeing your kids if you report the abuse.

Getting out of an abusive relationship.

Do you want to leave an abusive situation, but stay out of fear of what your partner might do? While leaving isn’t easy, there are things you can do to protect yourself. You’re not alone, and help is available. Below you will find a range of websites, phone numbers, email addresses all of which can provide you with substantial amounts of information to help you and give you advice:

HelpGuide causes_effects


1 in 4 Women

Womans Aid

0808 2000 247

Mankind Intiative

01823 334 244

Jul 19

Swimming pool water safety – enjoy the heatwave!

swimming pool safety

swimming pool safety

We have all had a wonderful summer so far with the heat wave still to continue!

So we are sure many of you are enjoying swimming whether in the park, at a local pool or maybe you have your own.

Swimming can be such a huge relief in the heat of the summer, but it can also turn a fun day into a tragic one in minutes.

Make sure your loved ones are safe at all times and are supervised by an adult. Here are some tips :

An adult should supervise all water activities at all times. Children who cannot swim should always remain an arm’s length away from you and should wear arm bands if water is close by.

Never leave children of any age unattended while swimming, and pay attention to older kids while they are in the water, even if you feel that they are good swimmers. Drowning only takes seconds and often happens silently.

If you have your own pool – a fence should surround all sides of the pool and have a childproof safety gate to gain entry to the area. Ensure there are no gaps along the edges or bottom of the pool that could allow a child to sneak through and gain entry to the pool.

All swimmers should be reminded of the pool rules: no running around the pool, always swim with an adult, never push anyone into the pool, no jumping onto other people in the pool, don’t dive in shallow water and never swim alone! It may seem like a lot of rules, but kids need to know how serious pool safety is.

All children left in a pool should be capable of swimming to the side of the pool and that they know what to do in an emergency should they accidentally fall into the pool. Very young children can be taught basic self-rescue skills, such as floating on their backs, being able to swim a short distance underwater and knowing how to get themselves out of the pool.

It is best to remove temptation when the pool is not in use. Invest in a sturdy pool cover for your pool, preferably one that needs a key to open and one that can safely be walked on should a child wander over the cover. Remove all toys, floaties and other items from the area and store them out of view. If an area doesn’t look fun, a child is less likely to want to enter the area to begin with.

Maybe a little over the top but you might consider installing a surface alarm which will alert you when the surface of the water has been broken. They can be turned off while you are in the pool and then reactivated once you leave the area. This is ensure you know if a child enters the pool without you being there.

Keep your pool clean and clear. Ensure you are up to date with pool maintenance, always make sure your chemicals remain at appropriate levels, keep your filters clean and make sure your circulation system is free of debris. This will ensure that you have clear pool water and can safely see to the bottom of the pool.

Always have swimmers stay away from pool drains to reduce the risk of something getting caught on the drain and a swimmer getting trapped at the bottom of the pool.

Smaller paddling pools should be emptied after each use and place them upside down if you store them outside, that way they won’t collect water. Remove ladders and lock them up if you possibly can; this is especially important for above ground pools that may not have fences or alarms on them. Removing access to bodies of water reduces the risk of drowning.

Every adult in your household should be appropriately trained in first aid and CPR so that they can adequately respond to any emergency that may happen in your household. It’s a good idea to always keep a phone with you by the pool, that way you have quick access to help if there’s an emergency.

Drowning can happen to anyone, at anytime. If you cannot find your child, check your pool first so you don’t waste precious time. Swimming is such a wonderful activity to do with your children, so do everything that you can to make those memories positive ones this summer!

Also read Childalert’s

Sea and Beach Safety

Drowning is the third biggest death amongst UK children 

Jul 12

Are you aware of the Facebook Security Threats!

No one who owns a mobile internet device or uses a desktop or laptop at home to go online can deny the impact that social media has had on our lives. Whether or not you are a big fan or even if you never sign up for any of the many services on offer, the fact is the way people communicate has undergone a revolution over the past decade.

From the early days of Myspace through to the short and sharp contemporary punch of Twitter, big names in the field are continually newsworthy.

Facebook was the real game changer, and, although it remains to be seen how long it can stay on top in an arena that has already seen some massive falls from grace, an astonishing number of people around the world use the service every day. Anything that involves putting personal information online comes with some dangers and using Facebook, simple though it may be, is no different.

So what are the main security threats that users should be aware of?


As with many things in life, where there is success there are also risks as the
bigger something becomes the more likely that unscrupulous and criminal users will try to twist a positive into a negative. Any online interactions on a person to person basis need certain rules to be observed, many of which are basic common sense and have followed on from an earlier pre-internet age.

Too much information

Make sure you don’t give away too much information for a start. Do you really need to make your mobile phone number public in your profile? Be especially careful when it comes to any personal financial data.

If you make a first connection with someone online, any subsequent physical meetings in the ‘real world’ should be always approached with caution to begin with. A first meeting should always take place in a public area and someone you know should be informed of your whereabouts.

Catching a virus

Most traditional web related problems are caused by clicking on infected links and then opening your device up to infection by malicious code. With social media, the same rules apply as to email – do you know and trust the source of the link? Does it look like spam? Do you really want to watch that video?

Another key threat is the fact social networks are constantly accessible. Whether you’re logging in from your home PC, at work or on the move using your smartphone, you can be in constant contact with the social media world. This means protecting your password and making sure you’re signed our securely is essential and you should only have ever connect to services using a secure internet connection.
This means using a reputable Wi-Fi hotspot or, if at home, checking your broadband security. With the kind of speeds and security offered by Virgin Media it has never been easier to have an active ‘online’ life that is secure and safe to use.

READ Do  your teens have a Facebook page 

ALSO READ Tips for online safety 

Jul 03

Helping your child become a safe driver

Road SafetyWorldwide, road traffic accidents are the biggest killer of young people. It’s a terrifying fact for parents. But what about when your youngster is the one behind the wheel of a car? A shocking two out of ten newly qualified drivers will crash their car within six months of passing their test. Those aged 17 – 24 account for 30 per cent of people who are killed in cars every year.

The news is full of proposals and suggestions being considered in order to try and combat the high accident rate our young people face – everything from curfews for new drivers, to restricting the numbers of passengers they carry. But what can you do right now, as a parent, to keep your child safe?

Kim Stanton, from Young Driver, has this advice:

  • Longer learning - In the UK we don’t require any minimum period of learning before someone can qualify for a licence. Other countries have much stricter rules and require a period of staggered learning. Make sure your child learns for as long as is physically possible before they take to the road alone.
  • Start young – You can’t drive on a public road until you’re 17. But there are ways of helping youngsters start their learning experience way before that. Young Driver offers driving lessons for 11-17 year olds on private property, set out like a real road system. The younger you start, the more open their attitude is to learning (think back to when you were 17…)
  • Practice makes perfect – Try, try and then try again. Once they have their provisional licence get out on the road with them in between lessons as much as you can.
  • Talk about it – Ask someone they trust to have an open and honest chat with them about the responsibilities of driving. They possibly won’t listen to you, but would they listen to an aunt, uncle or grandparent?
  • Be smart – Help them to study for their Theory Test. Check they understand what they’re reading and that they’re not just cramming in order to pass.

Kim Stanton is from Young Driver 

Its not just those that drive children are in danger on the roads if they are not taught to safe Read the following articles

Death on the Roads 

Stop Look Listen

Road Safety for Children




Jun 25

A quarter of UK children come close to death or serious injury before they leave school

child safety week 2013New research out today (24 June 2013) shows just how much parents do to stop their children suffering horrific accidents. A quarter of parents (24%) say their child had a close call before leaving school. Two-thirds (67%) say they’ve had to save the day to prevent a serious accident. But parents play down their life-saving role and seriously underestimate the rescue service they provide.

The top hair-raising accidents that parents have saved their children from are:

· Stepping in front of traffic (54%)

· Falling down the stairs (29%)

· Suffering a serious fall from a highchair (20%)

· Falling out of an open window (12%)

· Drowning in the bath, in a pool or pond or in the sea (11%)

· Being badly scalded by a hot drink (11%).

Parents whose children had a close call with danger revealed an alarming number of near misses. 80% recalled around five narrow escapes. 20% reported up to ten close scrapes.

But the new research reveals parents seriously underestimate themselves and fail to recognise their actions as heroic. Most (94%) agree that rescuing a child from danger makes someone a hero and parents protect children from serious accidents every day. However, they are far more likely to see fire officers (64%) or paramedics (49%) as heroes than themselves or other parents (9%).

The findings are released to launch Child Safety Week, a national awareness campaign run by the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT). Commenting on the findings, Katrina Phillips, CAPT Chief Executive, said:

“Most parents whose children have had a near miss have been the ones to save the day. They’re on the frontline of accident prevention, the hidden heroes in our midst. Yet bizarrely they rule themselves out as safety heroes. And it’s not just the heroic rescues. Many parents don’t realise the life-saving importance of the small things they do every day to protect their children.

“Our message for Child Safety Week is you don’t need to be superhuman to be a Safety Hero. Putting your coffee cup out of reach, making sure the safety gate is closed, practising road safety with your children while you’re out walking – these small things all add up to children who are protected from serious harm. You can get tips on the simple things you can do to keep children safe from serious accidents from the Child Safety Week website”

See Childalerts tips on childproofing your home or have your own home surveys by an expert : email us at  Email:

Take our Childproofing Quiz click here 


Jun 24

Protecting your children online

online safetyToday child safety week kicks off – but we need to protect our children all the time … and online safety is a key priority.

Staying safe online is a major concern for everyone, but how can you make sure your little ones are protected? Children aren’t as capable of identifying potential threats and risks as adults but with these tips you can help keep them safe.

Educate yourself

The first and perhaps most important step to protecting your children when they are using the internet is to make sure you know a bit about their internet usage. What websites does your child visit? Just because a website doesn’t include any explicit content, doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful. Social networking sites and chat rooms are just as dangerous.

Furthermore, just looking at the web addresses your children has looked at is not always a good indicator of the content you’ll find there – many websites have chat functions that aren’t its core purpose so you need to educate yourself on this before you can help your child.

Educate your child

Instead of snooping on your child, which can alienate them if it leads to them being confronted about something they are embarrassed about, just talk to them. Let them know you are on their side and that if they come across something or someone that distresses them, you won’t be upset with them.

Communication with your kids may be difficult but it is vitally important because even if you protect the one family computer in your house, your child could still encounter danger when accessing the internet elsewhere

By making them aware of the risks of web use, you are likely to make them more cautious wherever they use it. Stress the dangers, not just of information that they send out – sharing pictures and personal information – but also of downloading things they are unsure of, such as harmful programmes and imagery.

Consider software

When it comes to actually controlling the content that gets to the computer, parental controls are wide ranging and effective. Most browsers have an option to filter explicit content, as do operating systems themselves – Microsoft Windows will let you enforce family safety on certain user accounts which can only be lifted by somebody with password privileges.

You can also install third party software which will filter content. You may want to shop around internet service providers and see if they have the option to opt out of certain content. In addition, some ISPs like BT TV and Broadbandhave programmes that bolster family protection that are well worth considering.

But don’t just leave it there: think about whether your child has a smartphone or console – do some research, and see whether their systems allow you to surf the internet and what options are available to curtail explicit content.


More childalert tips for online safety click here 

How to keep your children safe online click here


Jun 12

Have we forgotten how to play with our children.

child aloneTime-poor, self-doubting, technology obsessed parents are in danger of developing play amnesia as they spend less than an hour a day playing with their children.

Young children and toddlers are losing out as the average busy parent spends just 56 minutes a day playing one to one with their children – less than the time it takes to watch an episode of Britain’s Got Talent.

Even parents of children as young as 0 – 2 years of age play for an average of only 62 minutes.

Dr Miriam Stoppard, said: “These findings are incredibly sad. A parent is a child’s first teacher and playing with babies and toddlers is absolutely crucial to their early development. Every time a baby plays, it thinks. And every time it thinks it develops half a million brain connections.”

Time pressures and modern demands are taking their toll as parents feel self conscious and inadequate when it comes to playing.

76% of parents polled blame short playtimes on low confidence, feeling self-conscious, a lack of understanding about how important play is or even finding it boring.

Technology is impacting on play. 65% of mums and dads felt that demands from work, emails, social media and texts on a daily basis was resulting in less ‘child-time’

John McDonnell, Managing Director of Galt Toys, comments: “Despite being well aware of the time pressures on today’s parents it is still quite shocking to find out that so little time is spent playing one to one with children. It is a shame to hear children are watching TV or playing with gadgets instead of playing with their parents which is so much more beneficial.”

For most families, the traditional evening bedtime routines still exist – such as playing at bath time and bedtime stories – but even these have been drastically cut. We now spend an average of only 16 minutes on bedtime stories.

Dr Miriam Stoppard continues: “Our study found that many parents avoid or reduce bath and bedtime activity for fear of getting children too excited before they go to sleep. But this is the time of day when you’re back from work and there are the least demands on your time so is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with your little ones.”

Interaction is key for kids. Instead of playing alone, children are much better off playing with others, their favourite choice being their parents rather than other children or siblings.

Playing with your child should be fun, not a chore.

Jun 04

3 of the Best Child Friendly Holidays in Spain

imagesSpain is a beautiful destination for a holiday and it can be a great place to take children. If you’re looking to take that perfect yet cheap holiday in Spain, here are three fantastic child friendly hotels the country has to offer.

Although it may not seem like your go-to island for a family friendly trip, Ibiza is an incredible place to visit even if you’re not interested in the night life. The more secluded areas on Ibiza are beautiful to explore and if you have a toddler or baby, Can Gall in the quieter part of Ibiza is a great place to stay. The selection of pools has a non slip edging and a shallow slope rather than steps into the pool so they are especially safe for kids and some rooms have enclosed gardens so children can play outside so you can relax without having to worry about their whereabouts. A play tent with toys can be set up in the garden on request. The beach is only a 10-15 minute drive away so not too far for the kids to travel on a daily basis. Nannies and babysitters are available on request if you do fancy sampling the Ibiza nightlife.


Another great child friendly Spanish destination is the Barceló Varadero Apartments on the island of Tenerife. The apartments are great for families because they have all the amenities of a complex but also the freedom of an apartment, which is ideal for young children. There are three large swimming pools and a separate children’s pool. A wide range of shops and restaurants are in walking distance so food and fun for the whole family is just an easy walk away. On site there is a playground as well as children’s activities during the day and a mini disco at night.

Caserio del Mirador Apartments on the east coast of mainland Spain are perfect if you’re looking for a rural, secluded holiday destination but still want access to all of your everyday family needs. Valencia is in close visiting distance and has a lot to see and do, with beautiful architecture and a vibrant nightlife. A popular children’s attraction to visit is Gulliver, a playground that looks like a 60ft giant lying down, with slides for children cleverly added into the folds of his clothes. The largest of the Caserio del Mirador apartments on offer, Santa Maria, has a double room for parents and a twin room for children. It has a spacious living area and 2 bathrooms, one of which has a bath which is useful if bathing your children is usually part of their bedtime routine.

Wherever you decide go to in Spain for your holiday, you can guarantee that one thing is the kids will love is the beach, so don’t forget to pack your bucket and spade!

Also remember to keep safe in the water and when out and about ; read childalert’s

Beach Safety click here 

Young children at risk near water  click here 

Sun Safety click here

May 24

Kids Eat FREE Special Offer

Kids Eat Free during Half term before 5pm (No voucher required)

Choose your closest restaurant and give your kids a treat this half term. Simply enter your postcode by clicking here to find your nearest place to eat.

Kids - Sweetie Sundae - white pots[4]



Terms and Conditions

1.This offer entitles one child to a free kids’ main meal per adult purchasing a main meal from the main restaurant menu at the same time.

2.Breakfast, Light Bites, Bar Snacks, Daytime & Evening Value menu meals and Junior Meals are excluded.

3. This offer is valid before 5pm from Monday 27th May until Saturday 1st June 2013 inclusive.

4. The offer cannot be exchanged for cash, is non-transferable, must not be reproduced, copied or varied and cannot be used with other offers, promotions or vouchers including the Whitbread Privilege card or Premier Inn meal deal.

5. All rights remain with the promoter who reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any time and without prior notice.

The decision of the manager is final. Promoter: Table Table (on behalf of Whitbread Group) PO Box 777, Dunstable LU5 5XE.

May 21

How to Prevent Accidental Window Falls at Home

safety The leading cause of injuries among children five years of age and younger is falling, with approximately fifteen thousand kids under the age of eleven falling from windows each year. On average, fifteen to twenty of those falls are fatal. According to emergency medicine specialists, kids that live in urban areas are at an especially high risk for window falls.

These tips can help you prevent window falls in your home, so you can keep the little ones in your life safe from harm.

Keep Furniture Away from Windows

Placing cribs, beds and dressers near a window provides curious little explorers with access to sills that might ordinarily be out of reach. While your design scheme might depend upon a specific placement of furniture, it’s still essential that you keep anything kids can climb on or around away from the windows in their rooms. Even the most docile kids will find a reason to scale the furniture the moment an adult’s back is turned, and the last thing you want is for them to end up near a window when they do.

Install Window Safety Locks

Windows should be fitted with child safety window locks that allow windows to be opened but only to a certain level so that children cannot slip underneath.  These are so easy to buy and fit but if you need a specialist email us at

There is a Difference Between Window Locks and Security Bars

While security bars and window locks are not the same thing nor do they serve the same purpose, they’re commonly confused. The placement of security bars designed to protect your home against intruders is wide enough to allow a small child to slip through, and the design of window locks is not intended to protect against intruders. It’s important to understand the difference between the two, both to keep your children safe from falls and to guard your home.

Always supervised young children

While it’s important to always keep a close eye on children in your care, it’s especially important when they’re in rooms above ground level and are capable of opening a window. Make sure that you never leave a child in a room unattended when a window is open, and that all windows are locked and carefully secured to prevent little fingers from opening them.

Also read:

Childalert Daily Safety tips

Childalert Everyday children are admitted to hospital

Take the Childalert Safety in the Home Quiz 

May 14

School doesn’t always have to mean head lice

head lice Head lice are a fact of life for most parents, particularly during term time when children’s close proximity allows them to spread quickly, with one in three children likely to get head lice during the school year[1].

Here’s a quick guide to the pesky things.

What are they?

Head lice are small insect (about 2.5mm long). They cling to hair and live on blood from the host. They access blood by biting through the scalp. The female lice produce eggs which are attached to the hair, close to the scalp. After several days the baby louse hatches. Lice are equally likely to be found on clean and dirty hair.

What are the symptoms?

  • Intense itching and irritation of the scalp
  • Redness of the scalp
  • Rash at the nape of the neck

Many studies have shown Tea Tree to be an effective treatment for head lice.[2][3][4] It’s thought that the tea tree works by damaging the membrane of the lice, destroying it and everything in it, thus preventing the lice from multiplying and spreading.

So Tea Tree really is a natural superstar for head lice!

Also read childalert’s   Getting down to the nitty gritty 

Guest Post from:

Thursday Plantation’s Tea Tree hair care is available in both a shampoo (Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil Shampoo £4.95 for 200ml) and conditioner, (Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil Conditioner £4.95 for 200ml) Thursday Plantation’s hair care range is a safe, 100% natural and effective way to get rid of those pesky lice and you don’t have to worry about exposing your children to dangerous and harmful chemicals that are often found in other medicated lice treatments.

Thursday Plantation is available from Lloyds, The Nutri Centre,,, and all good independent health food stores.


[1] NHS Choices: An Introduction to Head Lice

[2] Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs.

Di Campli E, Di Bartolomeo S, Delli Pizzi P, Di Giulio M, Grande R, Nostro A, Cellini L.

Parasitol Res. 2012 Jul 31. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID: 22847279 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

[3] Inhibition of acetylcholinesterase by Tea Tree oil.

Mills C, Cleary BJ, Gilmer JF, Walsh JJ.

J Pharm Pharmacol. 2004 Mar;56(3):375-9.

PMID: 15025863 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


May 06

Signs that Your Child Has a Speech and Language Delay

Unknown-1A lot of parents do not know exactly how to understand their child’s behavior. In fact, many go years without noticing a condition that plagues their child. This is because most people are not doctors and always want to assume their child is just like everyone else. However, it is important to always be on the look out for any physical, emotional or developmental conditions that your child may develop over time. The next steps are to understand and, if possible, work on fixing any that may arise. While not all symptoms are obvious, here are five checkpoints at which to measure whether your child has a speech and language delay. It would behoove you to look out for these as your child matures.

18 Months

Before 18 months, it is difficult for many parents to understand the state of their child’s development. However, by the time your child is 18 months old, he or she should know a few words – 15-20 words, to be exact, including names.  If they cannot speak, or only know a couple of words, they may have a slight language delay. It is important at this stage to consult a doctor, monitor how he or she develops.

Two Years

By the time your child is two years old, he or she should be able to say two word sentences. Their vocabulary should be growing, and they should even understand sounds of familiar animals. A child of this age should also know how to communicate his or her very basic needs.

Three Years

By the time a child is three years old, he or she should be able to identify body parts and should have a vocabulary of around 450 words. Not only that, he or she should be able to combine nouns and verbs. They should understand you most of the time, even if you’re speaking at a much higher level. Often at this age, a child will enjoy storytelling and will ask you to tell the same story over and over.

Four Years

By the time a child is four years old, he or she should be able to tell a story, and their sentences should be at least four to five words long. By this point, their vocabulary should be around one thousand words. The child should also know their full name and the name of the street they live on.

Six Years

When your child reaches six years old, their sentences should be around five to six words. Their vocabulary should be around 2,000 words. At this point, they will hopefully be able to communicate with all levels of speakers and have a basic conversation.  In short, they should be well on their way to mastering their native language.

There is nothing to necessarily worry about if your child has not passed these milestones. He or she could be a late bloomer, or there could be other things at work here. Make sure to get your child’s hearing and vision tested though, just in case. This should really be routine for all kids though, so hopefully this check up won’t inconvenience you in the slightest. Poor hearing and vision often result in poor learning, especially among very young children. If your child has good hearing and vision, it may be time to take him or her to a specialist. A specialist can determine the best course of action to fix the issue. It is pertinent to take care of the issue as young as possible – this will ensure that you’re doing everything you can to keep your child on track for success.

Author Pam Johnson is a nurse in the Speech and Hearing department at her hospital.

Apr 22

Does your child kick up a stink when it’s time to brush their teeth?

UnknownHave you thought about the reasons why they don’t like it?

Sometimes they just need some encouragement and incentive like the teeth chart below.

In some cases it can actually be down to the toothpaste they are using. Perhaps get them to choose the toothpaste with you.

Here are some teeth ‘facts’ – sometimes telling your children about their teeth may encourage them to look after them better….

Milk teeth

Although your child will lose their milk teeth as they get older, it is still important that they look after them during their early years. Milk teeth play a huge role in the development of the jaw as well as the spacing and alignment of adult teeth.

What’s the difference?

Contrary to popular belief, not all toothpastes are the same and there will be some that your child prefers over others. Most will contain fluoride, abrasives and flavouring, but they will have different consistencies and tastes.

Here are some important things that you should keep in mind when finding the best toothpaste for your child:


Most toothpastes found on the shelves contain a substance called fluoride, which is designed to help prevent cavities. However, too much fluoride can be harmful to young children and can cause fluorosis.

A recent report suggests that parents should be using toothpastes with stronger concentrations of fluoride as their children’s teeth may not be adequately protected. If you are using a toothpaste with fluoride, make sure that your kids are only using a pea-sized amount and are spitting out correctly.

In general, it’s safe to say that the benefits of using fluoride toothpaste outweigh the risks of developing fluorosis.


All toothpastes contain abrasives, as these are used to rid the teeth of stains and plaque. As with fluoride, it’s important to get the right balance of abrasive as too much can be quite harsh for younger children.


Children are more likely to enjoy cleaning their teeth with a fruity flavoured toothpaste than the strong peppermint or spearmint flavours we are used to. Allow your child to try a few types until they find one they like.

If you’re concerned about choosing the best toothpaste for your child, or just want further dental advice, speak to your dentist at your next check-up.


Encourage children to look after their teeth Childalert’s top ten tips

Introduce a Teeth Chart with an incentive click here

Orthodontic treatment click here 

Apr 19

Are your children at risk from wearing the wrong shoes?

Girls_shoes1-1Parents may be putting their children’s health at risk by not providing them with the correct footwear.

While we all know wearing ill-fitting shoes can be uncomfortable on a day-to-day basis, causing blisters, ingrown toe nails and sores on children’s feet, there are even more serious side effects to simply wearing a badly fitting shoe. Over time, foot deformities can develop, along with knee and even posture problems.

Feet are designed to take body weight and give mobility essential to quality of life.  Whilst vast amounts of money is spent on educating people to look after themselves nutritionally and physically, little effort is made to educate them on the importance of foot-health, and their child’s.

Children’s feet aren’t fully-formed until they reach their late teens; their bones are still changing and developing, therefore it is a crucial time to nurture the growth process.

According to children’s clothing specialist, Vertbaudet, who are working hard to raise awareness of this issue, children’s shoes need to be designed to support the arches and back of the feet, they should have sturdy soles and be made from robust materials for even more support.

Many mothers find it difficult to choose the right shoes for their children, since not only the size but also the shape of the foot needs to be taken into account. It is vital to ensure shoes are fitted by a trained professional to safeguard against ill fitting shoes that can cause long lasting damage to a child’s feet. The children’s clothing specialist works with an in-house Podiatrist and shoe designer, to ensure every detail of comfort and support is taken into consideration.

Children’s shoes need to have a good counter that is rigid enough to support the rear of the child’s foot. This will give the child vertical and dynamic balance. And the soles, which should offer an integrated arch system, also reinforce this balance and increase both the static and dynamic stepping of the child.Philippe Pelligand, Vertbaudet Podiatrist

Choosing the correct footwear for your child really is a priority for mother and baby, and for the child’s future development.

An insightful video full of tips and information can be found at

Guest post by Vertbaudet Vertbaudet


Apr 09

What Safety Risks Do Kettles Pose To Children

imagesIn any household, there are numerous appliances which pose safety threats to children, but kettles are often overlooked. Here, we look at some of the safety risks these appliances pose and the preventative measures you can take to protect your children.


There can be a few risks posed to your child with the standard off-the-shelf kettle. The first of these is that the child can tug on the cord, potentially causing the kettle to fall, running the risk of spilling boiling water onto them. This can lead to severe burns, which is obviously a massive danger.

Another risk is that parts of the kettle can fall off, particularly with plastic kettles. Kettles can be built up of numerous parts, some of which can fall off, especially if the kettle is an old one. These small components can then pose choking hazards to young children.

It may sound obvious, but the outside of a boiling kettle can get very hot. There is always the concern that a child may touch the outside of the kettle, burning themselves in the process.

While none of these risks are completely avoidable, there certain measures that you can take to prevent them:

Cordless kettle

Some kettles nowadays, such as the Delonghi kettle, have a base that plugs into the mains that the kettle sits on to warm up. This means that there isn’t a wire trailing down, meaning that there is nothing for a child to grab hold of, other than the base, which can be pushed right back onto the countertop.

Stainless steel kettle

A stainless steel kettle tends to be made of one solid and continuous piece rather than lots of separate pieces, meaning that it is less likely that something will fall or break off. Although these kettles seem studier, the outside material can get extremely hot when boiling, so it is important that you never leave the kettle unattended when children are present.

Keep children out of way

While this is hard to achieve, it is the safest way to ensure that there are no accidents with the kettle around your children. No kettle will ever be completely safe due to the nature of the appliance, but ensuring your children aren’t left alone with them removes the chance of an accident.

See Childalert articles

childproofing your home 

kitchen safety 

dangers of UK sockets

Mar 19

Fatherhood ! no one warned me .

fatherhoodAnother great video from Fiat  – I just love them – the music, the sense of  ‘it does happen to others too – not just me!’ and most importantly I love the humour.

Take a look at it here and pass it onto friends and family – especially if they have just had a new borne and if they have twins!

We used to drive around at night trying to get my little ones to sleep – we didn’t have twins but some how the baby used to wake the toddler and all hell was let loose — so off my husband went to drive around the block … while I crashed out for at least half an hour !  Thank goodness those days are over, but I do feel for all those new parents out there … things DO get better, promise.

Did you know that new parents drive on average 1,300 miles a year trying to get their children to sleep.  Ouch !

Have a read of Childalerts :

Bedtime routine

Toddlers boundaries

Having Twins

VIDEO: The Fatherhood video takes viewers back to the 80s with a catchy tune and a time when New Romantics were young and carefree.  With oh-so-serious poses to camera and dreamy dance sequences, the film takes visual cues from the 80s music videos everyone loves to hate and offer a humorous and edgy insight into the mind of a new dad.

Set in the dead of night, The Fatherhood follows a weary dad-of-two trying to get his screaming babies to sleep by driving them around the neighbourhood. As he drives, he starts to sing with brutal honesty and humorous irony about his long-lost youth and he questions how he’s gone from Jack the Lad to Jack the Dad.

It’s a Dad’s life. Watch it

Mar 18

5 Ways to Take Your Newborn to the Pool Safely

Baby in pool “My baby is two months old, and I was wondering how soon I can start getting her accustomed to the water?”

Parents with newborns often ask this question – how soon can the baby be introduced to the water? There are a number of issues involved with introducing a child to water. So what are things to watch out for? Here are 5 ways to look at taking the newborn to the pool:

1) Wait until the time is right. According to, a big issue is exposure to infection and illness. The site recommends that if the child is younger than two months, parents should not be taking the infant into a swimming pool or other body of water.  Since pools are easily contaminated with bacteria – some able to cause diarrhea, the danger of a baby getting sick from exposure to the water is very real.

Another issue is the temperature of the water. Babies can’t regulate their body temperature until they are about 6 to 12 months old. The water needs to be warm enough for the baby.  An easy test – if the water feels chilly for the parent, it will be very cold to the baby. It is suggested that water temperature be at least 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The reverse is also true – too much heat can be bad for a baby, so hot tubs or pools heated to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit are not recommended for children younger than 5.

2) Keep in touch. The adult needs to be within arm’s reach of the infant or toddler at all times in or near a swimming pool or body of water. If in the pool itself, always be holding the baby, and avoid water that is too deep for the parent to maintain firm footing. But while holding the baby, the parent can allow the baby to experience the freedom of movement afforded by water. Hold the baby securely under the arms and allow them to enjoy the sensation of movement in lessened gravity. Some tiny babies can sense it’s fun to move in the water, especially when securely held by the parent.

3) Get them used to the water. suggests a gradual introduction of the baby to the water. Start them getting used to water by taking baths with them. In the bathtub, let them play with a washcloth and splash around – of course babies enjoy that – and enjoy floaty toys. Trickle water over the baby’s forehead and face to acquaint him or her with the feel of moving water. Allow the baby to snuggle against the mother’s chest while reclining in the tub, and even nurse while taking a bath. The main thing is to make the babies first impression of water – “Hey, this is fun, and it feels good to play in!”

4) Swimming lessons. Around 6 months of age, the parents might want to think about enrolling the baby into swimming lessons. Many cities have infant swim classes taught by qualified instructors. Parents can be a part of the instruction process and help the child feel comfortable in the water. It is suggested that by 9 months of age, a baby can be taught to “swim” between two adults for a few seconds. Going back and forth from parent to instructor will give the child the experience of water, while in a safe situation.

5) The realities of a pool. Parents should avoid pools that are heavily loaded with chemicals. Although necessary to keep down bacteria, overexposure can be unhealthy to a baby. The skin, eyes and breathing passages of a baby are more sensitive to chlorine than an adult. A simple test – if the parent smells chlorine immediately upon entering the pool area – assume it’s too strong for the baby.

Since babies might have a bowel movement in the water, sensible precautions must be taken. Swim diapers, specifically designed for the water are recommended. Clean the diaper before going into the pool, and common sense would suggest not taking the baby into the pool immediately after a feeding.

If the parent conveys a love of and comfort with water at an early age, it will help the child have a positive experience with swimming, and make pool time the fun it is supposed to be.

Also see childalert’s water safety tips:

Be careful near water click here 

Sea and Beach safety click here


GUEST POST : Becky Flanigan is a freelance writer.  She has 3 kids with her wonderful husband – two boys and a girl – and two lovely golden retrievers.  Since they were babies, she has spent hours at her local above ground pools, and now enjoys watching the kids and dogs splash and play.  She is also a runner, and diligently training for her first half marathon.

Mar 12

Does your child suffer from iPaddy syndrome ?!

screaming_child_poster-p228435468748905309trma_400Restricting the use of gadgets is the preferred form of punishment by most parents yet over half of parents continue to buy tech related gifts for their children such as iPads and smartphones

Six out of ten (59%) parents say they have experienced an ‘iPaddy’ when they try and forcibly end their kids’ gadget game time.

Researchers have found that restricting the use of gadgets is now the preferred form of punishment for eight out of ten (79%) parents in the UK. This new trend for tech-punishment has led to the coining of the term ‘iPaddy’, bad behaviour brought on directly from children having their gadgets confiscated.

Common symptoms reported by parents include tears, tantrums, sulking and the silent treatment. Yes we have all experience these !

Confiscating smartphones and tablets were revealed as the most hated form of punishment as they stopped children having contact with friends and enjoying entertainment.

The uniqueness of gadgets such as smartphones and tablets is that they provide both a method of communication between friends and a form of entertainment. When parents remove them this then becomes a double whammy for children

Nearly three quarters of parents (72%) believe children are too attached to gadgets yet half (50%) of parents with children of fourteen or under buy tech related gifts for their children such as iPads and smartphones.

The study found that even if parents did not buy the gadgets themselves one in eight (13%) kids bought their own tech and nearly half (46%) of parents admitted they are more likely to buy their child a tablet computer as a gift for a birthday or Christmas present instead of a traditional toy. The most popular tech item for children to own was a games console (owned by 46%), followed by an iPod or mp3 player (30%) and smartphone (30%).

The educational value of products such as tablets and laptops was a key factor for many parents with six in ten (61%) saying they thought it was beneficial for children to become familiar with gadgets at an early age. Even for parents that aren’t a fan of gadgets at home, the rise of children’s tech habits may appear unstoppable, with over a quarter (27%) of children having access to tablets and the like at school.

The average child was found to spend nearly two hours a day playing with tech products and over a quarter (27%) of children were revealed as using gadgets for 4+ hours per day.

Parents take note of ‘gadget security’ Make sure your have your parent controls on and give sound advice as to the ‘rules’ of internet and game entertainment.

See also childalert

 wireless gadgets 

smartphones – an addiction a necessity or just fun 

children’s online rules 


Mar 01

Keeping your child safe online – what you need to know

Navigating the minefield of viruses and spam-filled websites is tricky enough as an adult so it is understandable if your kids aren’t sure how they should avoid online threats. As a parent you should not just allow your child the freedom of the internet but nor should you block every website there is. Somewhere between the two is ideal, and these simple steps will best prepare your children for the online world.

Use parental controls

Most laptops and computers you can get these days come with inbuilt options for parental controls; customise these settings to suit your children. You can block various types of content that your child could potentially stumble upon which means you will have peace of mind letting your children use the computer unattended. You cannot always watch them when they are online and parental controls are perfect for these occasions.

Get a good antivirus/spyware

It is not just what your children might see online that can harm them, but also hidden threats they can be completely unaware of. Anyone at any time can accidentally download a virus or stumble across a website that can steal personal information so you must have software that is on the lookout for these risks. Children as young as 11 have written malicious code in the past, so your kids must be made aware of the risks.

Remind them about sharing information

Chat rooms, fan sites and forums are good places for your children to meet like-minded people but there are always rules they must follow just as in the real world. Remind them not to share their full name, address, phone number or photograph. This is information that can be used for all the wrong reasons in the wrong hands, so teach them to use these websites safely.

Encourage them to keep passwords secret

This is a good habit for adults and children alike and it also stretches to emails that ask for their details or users online. Encourage them to even keep their passwords secret from you; if they don’t tell you they certainly won’t tell a stranger.

Also see Childalerts; 

Zip it Block Flag it – click here 

Tips for online safety – click here

Over a quarter of young people say their parents never talk to them about Online Safety - click here 


Jan 04

Ever wish you could have family time, all the time?

Happy New Year everyone … Have you made any news years resolutions ? You’ve no doubt had a wonderful break and time with family and friends over the past few weeks. Don’t we all wish it could go on forever but sadly reality is back along with the daily routines of school and work.

My biggest new years resolution is to reduce the stress and guilt I have by balancing my work and life commitments. I have told myself that I will be more productive at work with less worry if I just accept that we can all communicate almost instantaneously via our phones, tablets, and the internet. I have in the past reluctantly avoided getting my family involved with techy communications but I now see it is the way forward … for everyone.

We have installed the wonderful and all-inclusive infinity broadband making life quicker and easier and cheaper – take a look at what is available – Broadband packages .  And you’ll find that, communication across your family along, your workday goes better than ever.  Promise!

This what I love about the package ;   keeping in touch with my family during my working hours makes my life a lot easier – I know when they have arrived home after a bus journey from school, I can sort our unexpected school activity changes; knowing I can receive a quick text  to say they passed their latest test and also that I can provide some comforting words when they are unhappy.

This what my daughters love ; my sister and I share YouTube videos with each other and text our mutual appreciation.  While I am away at school I can keep my relationship fresh with my sister discovering channels and music that we both are crazy about—and then sharing them together when we next meet.

I know some will say we all have too much screen time but my new year belief is that yes lets control it but best lets all keep in touch and share our interests and lives together all the time.

This is what my husband loves ; Sounds like a great way to spend family time on the job?  We can now can have it all, with the numerous Broadband phone, media/music, TV and movie channel packages that include BT Wi-Fi, evening and weekend call packages, the BT home hub (because the home should be the center of all of this) and the Superfast BT Infinity system (because a family on the internet should communicate fast—and BT Infinity 2 is eight times faster than any other system in the UK).

That’s what we call family time—all the time.


Dec 20

Is Christmas pulling at your purse strings…….

Our home is a buzz with Christmas festive joy – the decorations are up and fridge packed to the brim with goodies including the turkey.  The stockings are hanging from the fire place and pretty much (believe it or not) we are ready for Christmas day.

Every year however gets more expensive …  we have had to make cuts, mainly on the presents as the main Christmas fun comes from family and friends around the Christmas table.

The best tip has come from signing up to a shopping club for families that gives money back in cash on every purchase made and given back as savings for the children.  The Christmas grocery shop made £23.00 alone !

Another change, is instead of our usual extensive present buying we are having a Secret Santa. All adults get one present from one person to a given price – it actually makes it much more creative and fun and a lot cheaper.

Research, this year has revealed that almost two thirds (60%) of UK adults will be sticking to the same Christmas budget as last year, with nearly a third (29%) spending less.

According to The Co-operative Annual Christmas Spending Survey the average consumer will spend a total of £344 on Christmas this year.

Tell us how you have managed this year – have you spent the average £344 or a lot more ( or less!)

What are your tips for a more thrifty Christmas but giving just as much fun.

To see how frugal some parts of the country have been this year read below

2012 Christmas Infographic

A Frugal Christmas and a Debt Free New Year – An infographic by the team at The Co-operative Bank


Dec 18

Motherhood personified!

Childalert were sent this video clip and we thought it summed up what all us mothers go through – it’s a rap telling motherhood as it is; the ups and downs and often unexpected consequences of being a mum. Good on this heroine, here, looking glamorous through out – something that is not always easy to achieve!



Now on a more serious note ‘motherhood’ is a wonderful thing to most of us but some find the process really hard and it’s not that they don’t love their children deeply, it is that we are all made differently. For some, motherhood has taken away their identity, for others it is their identity; some women feel the need to go back to work to find control where as others love the control they have in mapping out their children’s programme. What ever our choices we all want to do our best for our children and we should all respect the way each of us wants to live our lives.

However always remember this …time doesn’t stand still…you will look back on this period of your life with enormous fondness  …  don’t miss out !

Dec 12

How to Protect Your Kids over Christmas

Christmas can be a busy time of year, especially if you have children. The run up to the seasonal preparations can be exciting and run smoothly when suddenly out of know where – there seems to be three, two, one week before the big day! It all comes in a rush with the children breaking up from school, (along with nativity and carol concerts), family and friends start to call and organise visits and meals .. and there is no time for anything and someone asks ‘have you ordered the turkey’ !

When we’re stressed and rushing around, accidents can happen especially to children – in the home and out and about. If we as parents take our eyes off the situation you’ll find your little ones experimenting in the kitchen, playing with the new and exciting Christmas lights, putting small parts into their mouths and more.. Remain vigilant no matter how much you have to organise. Remind yourself of the childalert home safety quiz.

Weather conditions don’t help either, days can be cold and dark and the generally busy-ness of the festive season can mean kids find themselves prone to colds and outdoor accidents. See how to avoid the the common cold video

One bit of advice is to be preparation. Not just with presents and entertainment. But also be prepared should your family have a mishap or as often happens over a stressful period, a serious family quarrel.

Should this happen over your Christmas period, it may be a good idea for you to know where to turn should you need to –  family law advice .

Family quarrels

Family quarrels can take many forms and thankfully for most of us they blow over as soon as they happen. But occasionally individuals find if difficult to let go, or an old problem can flare up again.

Some quarrels occur in the lead up to Christmas over custody of the children  If this is likely to be the case, getting some family law advice may be a good idea in order to know where you stand; ensuring that no arguments escalate and spoil your Christmas time.

They will simply help guide you through what you’re entitled to and will be there to offer any assistance that may be needed. Contacting a solicitor doesn’t necessarily mean taking direct action against another party but could simply educate you on the options you have at your disposal.

Lets home your preparation means a peaceful and happy festive season.

Dec 11

Dear Santa can I have a tablet this Christmas ?

If you’re planning on buying your child a laptop, tablet or smartphone for Christmas, please follow these six golden rules, which will ensure your child surfs safely in cyberspace over the winter break:

1. Update your  Antivirus and Security software

2. Be sure to be part of their leaning process helping them ( even if they think they know better)  set up their internet connection. Set a password together and set your boundaries from day one allowing children to surf the web for limited time periods and when you can periodically check on their online activities. Set clear rules about the use of computers see Childalert internet family contracts.

3. Instruct your kids about internet privacy: they should never supply personal data and details to strangers on the web and social networks

4.Control the web camera as it can be easily misused by strangers. Turn off or unplug the webcam when you don’t use it.  Have children use the camera only for approved communication: with known friends and family while you are around.

5. If you or your children use Facebook, ( they should not under the age of 13)  and you share the wall with “Everyone” or “Friends of friends” then you have lost control of who has access to all data.

If one uses apps on Facebook, and is not careful, then one may end up sharing also all private data with the world See Childalert social network safety guide

Remember  information posted on the internet does not go away. Do not assume that when you delete a photo or even the whole social network account that you have automatically deleted all the data forever. Pictures and information might already saved on someone else’s computer.

Have a good chat about the pros and cons of the internet you’re your children and ensure they think twice about which pictures and details they use

Read Childlert Internet Safety Guide

Nov 29

The dangers of boiling water

boiling water

Having the kettle boiling while the kids are playing in the kitchen can be dangerous. It just takes one of them to knock it over and there could be a serious injury – a definite safety risk.

Dangers of boiling water

There are many dangers inherent with boiling water, the most obvious of which is burns. As parents it is fundamental to be vigilant when using a kettle around small children; for starters the kettle and its cord should be placed at the back of any counter out of reach from small fingers who could potential grab at it; spillages of boiling water can be painfully harmful especially to young skin – do not carry a kettle over a small child or have them able to pull at your legs or cause you to trip.. Whilst good safety practices can help protect you from these dangers, they can only do so much. Kettles can be easily knocked from surfaces or be overfilled resulting in numerous risks being posed to their users.


Kettles can also get a little bit horrible inside sometimes due to a limescale build up. This means that if you choose to boil your water in your kettle, this limescale may break off into your water and you could end up drinking it. This isn’t really very good for anyone – especially if you are using the boiling water to sterilise things such as bottles.

The Alternative to a kettle

Thankfully, there is a new alternative to using a kettle to get boiling water. As part of your child safety precautions parents should consider installing a hot water on tap which provides immediate boiling water – offering convenience as well as a number of other benefits.

Our guest blogger today is Virgin Pure, who would like to introduce their WaterBar – a gadget that is connected to your mains water supply and acts to purify your tap water and then delivers it by means of a switch perfectly boiling hot and ready for sterilising or making a cup of tea!

By using this equipment which sits stylishly on your worktop you take away the risk of the kettle making the kitchen a more child friendly safety zone as well as avoiding the nastiness of limescale build up  – what a treat!

Boiling water on tap  eliminates the need for a kettle, taking away the risk of it being knocked over by a small child, and also avoids any potential burns by boiling water or steam.

Why not give it a go!

Also see childalert articles:

Kitchen Safety Tips

Daily Safety Tips to think about including burns

Children admitted to hospital due to accidents in the home


Nov 29

Hey – it’s nearly Christmas – yum !

A twist on the traditional mince pies – meringue Topped Mince Pies  WOW!

Preparation Time  40 minutes

Baking Time 20 minutes

Portions - 12




250 grams plain white flour

100 grams butter (cold and cubed)

25 grams lard

3 tbsp golden caster sugar

400 grams mincemeat

Ice sugar (to dust)


2 free range eggs (whites only)

Pinch salt

125 grams golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Almond Extract


1.       Place the flour in a large bowl and using your fingers, gently rub in the butter and lard until it resembles breadcrumbs (or place in food processor and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs). Add 2-3 tbsp of ice cold water, a little at a time, until it comes together in a soft dough. Knead gently into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for 15 minutes.

2.       Preheat the oven to 220 °C (fan 200°C, gas mark 7). On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the pastry until 3mm thick. Take a 7.5 cm fluted cutter and stamp out 24 circles and use to line a 12 hole bun tins. Place a heaped tsp of mincemeat into each pastry case.

3.       Bake 15 minutes until golden brown.

4.       Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt to medium peaks in a mixer, then gradually add the sugar and the almond extract. Whisk until stiff and glossy.

5.       Spoon the meringue onto the pies and bake for 3-4 minutes until meringue is lightly golden.

Keep Safe in the kitchen though click here

Nov 14

Anyone thinking of getting a smartphone this Christmas?

Once again technology seems to be the most talked about conversation in our household in the lead up to Christmas.

There is always that debate about whether it is necessary for children to own a mobile phone or to have a computer lap top when it will only encourage more screen time, will be yet another item that potentially could get lost or stolen, whether they are indeed old enough to be responsible and anyway who are they going to contact.

On the other hand a phone does have its safety benefits, it would be nice to be in contact as they become more independent. Technology is the way of the world and we shouldn’t hold our kids back …. and so it goes on.

What are your views?

Have a read of this article – is the phone an addiction, a necessity or just fun?

If you do decide to buy a smartphone this Christmas whether for your kids or you how about purchasing one of these Pong Rugged protective cases too – it does make sense. I have one – they are sturdy colourful and great to hold onto.

There are a lot of protective smartphone cases on the market but the new Pong Rugged case offers protection not only for phones, but people. The Pong Rugged is designed to offer extra tough protection for your phone by encasing it in tough polycarbonate chassis and resilient hard rubber. This case provides protection for your phone for drops of up to about 8 feet onto concrete, making it child proof! In addition to this very handy level of protection from small slippy fingers the Pong Rugged case is also designed to protect you and your little ones by using an antenna in the back of the case to draw out the radiation your smartphone emits towards the back of the phone and away from the head and body.

With Government guideline’s warning under 16s not to use phone due to radiation exposure the Pong Rugged case offers protection for children whilst allowing them to still use their phones.

In addition to this protective element the antenna in the case also serves to improve your signal, which is a fantastic bonus! All in all the Pong Rugged case is a good option for anyone concerned about both keeping their phone in one piece and the possible health issues surrounding smartphone radiation.

Nov 05

Stir it up Sunday ! and lots of kitchen safety tips

Why not encourage your children – girls and boys – to be chefs in the kitchen but remember your safety kitchen tips .

If one of your children shows enthusiasm when you ask him or her to help bake a cake then cease the chance to make it fun and they will be asking to help you out in the kitchen for many years to come.

However if you bring your child into the kitchen screaming and kicking you certainly wont get the best from them.

Sometimes, children need to start off doing what they love in the kitchen and then graduate into cooking. If you push too hard, you could turn your child off of cooking forever.

So why not start with this fabulous Make your Own Organic Christmas Pudding. On November 25th it is Stir Up Sunday – this is the traditional day when Christmas Puddings are made ( bet you didn’t know that!) and every member of the family is suppose to stir the pudding and make a wish.

What a great introduction to Christmas and a fun way to get your children involved in the kitchen.

Let us know how you get on.

Nov 02

Have a happy and safe firework weekend

Remember fireworks while enjoyable and fun can also be dangerous.

Find a safe place to stand and don’t get too close to the fireworks or the bonfire – sparks can fly out of the fire so quickly that a baby or child’s eyelids might not have time to react.

Make sure those little ears are protected – displays tend to be very loud, around which is loud enough to cause permanent damage, according to Baby Sensory.

Earmuffs can reduce dangerous levels of noise and can be used on babies as young as six weeks old (unfortunately there isn’t any ear protection designed for newborns, so its a good idea to keep them tucked up at home). Don’t use earplugs – they can damage the soft ear canal of a baby or young child.

Never give a sparkler to a child under the age of five. A sparkler can reach a temperature of around 2000 degree C, five times hotter than cooking oil. Older children should be supervised at all times, wear gloves and hold the sparkler at arm’s length, and don’t hold babies or young children while you are holding a sparkler; they could reach out and grab at it unexpectedly.

Don’t let children run around with sparklers, wave them near anyone else or pick them up from the ground; sparklers stay hot long after they have gone out, so put them in a bucket of cold water to stop little hands getting burnt.

Wrap your children up in several layers of clothing, especially if you are heading out for prolonged periods of time. Make sure that heads, hands and feet are all well covered.

Have a very happy Bonfire Night!

see childalert’s safety tips : plan your fireworks; bonfire night fun and games; and the ROSPA firework code

Oct 31

Halloween – have fun but keep safe

On average, officials say twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween than on other days of the year.

Parents need to talk to kids about safety before they go out trick-or-treating. Remember most children will be out trick-or-treating while it is dark, when it is more difficult for drivers to see them.

Top safety tips for parents:

Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic lights and zebra crossings. Look left and right when crossing and keep looking as you cross.

Walk across streets, don’t run. AND always look before crossing.

Walk on pavements or paths. If there are no prevements, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

Slow down and stay alert – watch out for cars that are turning or backing up and never dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars.

Don’t use your mobile phones or have ear plugs which can distract you further.

Costumes can be both creative and safe. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Masks can obstruct a child’s vision, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible instead. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better, as well as be seen by drivers.

Top safety tips for drivers:

Drive extra slowly this evening especially around residential homes.

Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at cross roads, or as walking down the pavements. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.

Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone ( which is illegal anyway!) or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

Oct 18

Slower speed = happy people

In November each year there is a week dedicated to Road Safety (19 – 25 November) – the week is a reminder of the many dangers on the roads while drive, walking and cycling.  We obviously need to be vigilant all year round and each year  – this week is merely a reminder.

As parents we must teach our children through example – parents play a vital role in keeping young children safe – near roads, ensuring they are strapped in on every car journey, teaching children how to cross roads safely and demonstrating good road safety habits.

Last year 60 children died on British roads and many hundreds more suffered serious injuries including brain damage.

Take a look at the Road Safety Quiz  from the charity Child Accident Prevention Trust

Children – help your parents understand the role they can play and the  difference they can make to your safety on the roads! Click here

Also see childalert articles

Road safety for children

Stop Look Listen 

Death on the Roads


Oct 08

Do you have a child with dyslexia?

Help is at hand …

1 in 5 children have difficulties with reading and writing, which is why it’s worth knowing that this week is National Dyslexia Week (8 -14th October).

If you’re a parent with a child with Dyslexia or a child who is struggling it’s likely you’ll feel a familiar bell ringing with the results of a new survey released by the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust which has revealed the top 5 stresses for families living with Dyslexia.

  1. 1.  Parents feel guilty because they want to do what best for child but not always sure making right choices.
  2. 2.  Parents feel isolated and do not know who to turn to for reliable advice and information.
  3. 3.  Parents feeling guilty because they want to help their children with reading and writing but get frustrated or struggle themselves.
  4. 4.  Impact on family with siblings resenting amount of attention given to child with Dyslexia.
  5. 5.  Mums finding it hard to get partner to talk about child’s dyslexia.

What many parents say they yearn for is information, resources and support. Which is why it may help to know about Parents Champions run by the Dyslexia-SpLD Trust

This organisation offers an independent support network for parents who have children with Dyslexia. Run by parents who understand the challenges you are facing, they can offer support to you and other  within your local community.

As a result Parents Champions will be running a series of information sessions for parents and carers at locations across the country for National Dyslexia Week. Sessions will be in Hull, Scarborough, Wilmslow, London, Bath, Chelmsford, Nottingham, Knaresborough, Bristol, Chippenham, Haywards Heath, Tonbridge, Winchester from the 6th October.

To find your nearest course go to:

Also read about Dyslexia at Childalert  here 


Oct 05

Help keep colds at bay

Top tips for preventing the common cold

Nobody escapes the common cold – according to the NHS, the average adult in the UK catches between two and four colds every year. Despite great advances in medicine, common virus infections such as the common cold or influenza continue to cause a considerable economic burden, due to loss in productivity and high medical costs.

The cold facts:

· The common cold causes more days off work or school than any other ailment

· An estimated 22 million school days are missed every year due to colds

· More than two hundred different viruses can result in a cold

· Most colds take around 3-5 days to recover from, though some won’t go for at least a week

· One sneeze can travel as far as 5 metres!

There are no known cures for cold and flu, so cold and flu prevention should be your goal. A proactive approach to warding off colds and flu is apt to make your whole life healthier.

Here are some tips you can use to help prevent colds and the flu – encourage best practice with your little ones from the start teaching them how to avoid the common cold and help them to avoid passing a cold onto others.

Wash your hands. Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact. Washing hands reduces the risk of transmission of viruses and bacteria. Teach children to do the same.

Avoid touching your face, especially the nose, mouth, and eye areas, if you are around someone with a cold or have been touching surfaces in a public area.

Practice healthy habits. Eat a balanced diet; Get enough sleep; Do your best to keep stress in check; Exercise. It can help the immune system better fight off the germs that cause illness.

Don’t Cover Your Sneezes and Coughs With Your Hands. Because germs and viruses cling to your bare hands, muffling coughs and sneezes with your hands often results in passing along your germs to others. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming, use a tissue, then throw it away immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow.

Avoid people already ill with colds or flu.



Oct 03

A child goes missing every 5 minutes!

We are all concerned, shocked and worried sick about little April Jones who got willingly into a van two days ago while playing outside her home. We all prayer that they find her safe and well.

In the UK around 140,000 children a year get lost or go missing, that is over one child every 5 minutes. (This is not to say that they are being abducted – lets understand that this is very rare.)

Every parent has had that feeling of not knowing where their child is! Children have a habit of running off in busy areas such as supermarkets, airports, amusement parks and even from their own garden. The question is how do you, the parent, react when your child goes missing?

This is a worrying issue which parents don’t like to face but parents should be prepared in case the worst does happen and your child . Having your child’s up-to-date information on hand when you are out with your children is vital to allow you to react effectively if they do go missing. This is to ensure that the police or nearest authorities can have the information they need (such as name, picture and latest clothing) as soon as possible so they can react and find your child.

Keep your child safe by giving them the following advise dependent on their age.

Tell them about the importance of staying close, if they go off alone make sure they tell you where they are going.

If they are little keep them close , if they cannot see you, they are not safe.

Find a place that you know they can remember in case they do get lost. This is particularly important for older children who do need some safe independence .

If you are in a mall or a department store, identify the staff’s uniform and security guard’s uniform with your children. Ask them to look for them if they feel lost.

It is unfortunate that we need to teach our children to avoid talking to strangers, but the truth is, with today’s world, it’s not safe anymore to let your children talk freely to a stranger.

Teach your children your mobile and home phone numbers. If they are too young to remember then we advise you to place the details into their shoe –you can buy a Shoe ID here ( put in streetsmartkids into voucher for 10% discount off price) . For older children go through the basic family information such as the home phone number, your mobile phone number and your address.  For some children a mobile will be appropriate.

Sometimes is helps to write down the cloths your children are wearing when you take them out – you will not be surprised that your memory can fail you totally under stress.

Carry a Child Identification Card ( put in streetsmartkids into voucher for 10% discount off price) can also help and allows you to react effectively to your child going missing. Hand your card into the nearest authorities or police station and the information contained on the card such as the picture and latest clothing will allow them to start a search and dramatically increase the chance of finding your child.

For more information on how to react to your child going missing and resources to help prevent them from going missing then please visit:

The Child Identification program

Also read Childalert’s Top Stranger Danger Tips


Sep 24

Connect with Respect

Each year Safer Internet Day encourages parents and children alike to think about their internet usage and values – what agreements should be in place to avoid over use or misuse, how misuse of the internet can be registered and handled, how to stop bullying and addiction and much more.

Normally we give advice to you but this year the Safer Internet Center – - is asking all children and young adults to help them!

We want to hear what you think your online rights should be.

With help from the University of Plymouth, the Safer Internet Centre have today launched two surveys designed specifically for primary and secondary schools, the results of which will help to highlight the responsibilities of government and the internet industry, and what else needs to be done to make the internet a safer place.

The survey will give children and young people the chance to reflect on their own online responsibilities, considering how the way they act online can affect their own and other people’s online experiences.

Schools from across the UK are being asked to help the UK Safer Internet Centre raise the voice of children and young people by completing the survey which can be found online at

Other childalert internet safety articles – click to read:

how to keep children safe online 

tips for online safety

children’s internet agreement 


Sep 11

Meningitis : Keep Watching

Every year, bacterial meningitis affects around 3,400 people in the UK and kills more children under five than any other infectious disease. What’s most frightening for parents is the speed in which meningitis can come on; it can kill within hours.Many parents mistakenly think their children are protected against all types of the disease and may miss the symptoms and delay seeking medical advice.

Three leading meningitis charities are launching a new campaign called Meningitis: Keep Watching asking parents to spread the word that children are not protected against all types of meningitis. Please help them help parents keep watch.

watch this now              Also see child alert’s guides

Meningitis Research Foundation, Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK, with support from Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited, bring you the launch of Meningitis: Keep Watching.

Sep 06

Help children’s safety – spreading the word is so vital

A 2 year old boy climbed onto the kitchen table where there was a bag full of shopping and managed to take out an open a bottle of oven cleaner ( which had a child safety cap`!) –  before swallowing the liquid.

The little boy was rushed to hospital with internal injuries and may now need a oesophagus transplant after suffering extreme burns.

“I feel distraught. I know I made a mistake leaving the shopping bags in the kitchen but I still cannot understand how a child aged just two managed to open the bottle.”  The toddlers grandmother commented

Of course, these caps aren’t “child-proof”. If they were completely child-proof, they may be adult-proof too – particularly for people with arthritis or less strength in their hands. They’re “child-resistant”, which means that some toddlers may well be able to open them.  In fact, one in seven children under 51 months may be able to open a cap – and it could still be classified as “child-resistant”.

If parents and carers knew the facts, of course they’d behave differently, and tragedies like last week’s would be avoided. That’s why your help in spreading the word is so vital.

Aug 26

First to school – are you anxious?

Seeing your child go off to school for the first time is definitely a big milestone in any parent’s life and whilst a very proud moment, for parents and children alike it is often incredibly emotional and stressful.

For parents, the day brings the realisation that our little ones are no longer our little babies anymore. A new phase in their lives has begun as they move towards more independence, which whilst exciting it can also be sad for many mums and dads.

But even harder to deal with is our children’s faces when they realise we’re leaving them in the care of someone else. For children who are naturally shy or worried this can cause plenty of stress until they get used to a new situation. What parent after all finds it hard to walk away from their child as they call after them even though they know it has to be done?

Many children suffer from acute separation anxiety when it comes to starting school and this can manifest itself in many different ways, from not being able to sleep to loss of appetite to even bed wetting.

So are you nervous about your child starting school for the first time? Are you worried about what impact it could have on your child? Are you unsure of how to ease your child through this huge milestone? And if they do suffer from separation anxiety when the big day happens, are you worried that you won’t know how to solve resulting problems such as excessive bed wetting?

If you answered yes to any of the above then you should log onto WebTV’s show with DryNites experts Dr Hilary Jones and child psychologist Emma Kenny.

Watch it live online at 3pm on

Also have a read about school anxiety and how to handle it at childalert – click here 

Jul 19

Meg Mathews, – it was one of the scariest experiences of my life

Toddlers and Electricity: Did you know?

•Socket covers will not protect your child from electrical accidents

•Toddlers can chew or even bite through electrical wires

•Wet toddlers who grab an electrical appliance are exposed to electric shock

•Some socket covers are easy to remove, leaving and toddlers to poke fingers, metal objects or wet mouths into outlets

•Babies and toddlers are inherently risk-prone and should never be
left unattended and allowed to ‘play’ with socket-outlets

5 simple steps to safety

•Download the free ESC ‘Home Electrical Safety Check’ app to do a simple safety check of your home

•Install an RCD in your fuse box, or use a plug-in version

•Do not rely on socket covers, to be safe they must be backed up with RCD protection

•Keep all electrical cords out of reach of children

•Check wires and sockets for scorch marks or signs of electrical

The charity ‘The Electrical Safety Council’ is encouraging all parents to download  ‘Home Electrical Safety Check’ app, which allows anyone to do a quick, visual check of their home to ensure it is electrically safe.

Designed to be as easy to use as possible, the app highlights potential dangers in each room and explains how to resolve simple, non-technical problems. Where more serious issues are flagged, people are advised to use a registered electrician. The app is available for iPhone and Android phones.

Meg Mathews, ex-wife of Noel Gallagher and mother of his daughter Anais, suffered a devastating electrical fire at her Primrose Hill home in September 2011. She said: “The fire that destroyed my home last year was one of the scariest experiences of my life. If we hadn’t popped out to walk the dogs, my daughter Anais and I would have lost our lives – the firefighters said no-one could have survived the blaze

Read more here including how to download the app


Jul 12

Child Obesity vs Body Image

This week is National Childhood Obesity Week and the timing is interesting as it comes straight after a government recommendation that all school children should take part in compulsory body image and self-esteem lessons.

What do you think these lessons will entail?

We have two extreme issues here – on the one hand our children are getting fatter due to a more sedentary lifestyle of computer games and lack of physical sporting activities. Tested against this are the children who want to mirror the images they see of models and celebrities in magazines and on TV. Many of these images are of unrealistic bodies – digitally manipulated which only goes to exacerbate the reality gap.

It seems we either eat without boundaries or control or starve to aspire to the shape and size of unrealistic images. 1.6 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, and more than half the public have a negative body image.

This is a huge number and if, as research suggests, most children reflect their own parents’  we are in for an explosion of problems – or are we already there?

I hope these lessons will teach children about the need for healthy eating and good exercise. We need to tell children that appearance is not everything but that if you are too fat or too thin you are likely to be unwell – therefore not something to aspire to. I hope through these compulsory school lessons children learn to understand that a balanced lifestyle will make them much happier in the long run. At least they may can have the opportunity to consider a different outlook than the one they may be  getting at home and through the media.

What are your thoughts?

Read childalert feature on “how do we talk to our children about weight, health and body image ? 

Jun 29

Hydrated children perform better and are better behaved !

There has been alot of talk and discussion recently about the need to allow children to have a bottle of water by their side especially at school …

Bridget Benelam, Senior Nutrition Scientist  said “We know there is a lot of confusion about how much and what children should be drinking. Water is a great choice to keep children hydrated, but other drinks like milk, juices and soft drinks can contribute too. It’s just important to be aware of the calorie content of drinks and the potential impact on dental health so that parents and carers can help children to develop healthy drinking habits.”

Getting kids to drink water instead of sugar and acid filled drinks is the first step towards a healthier childhood. The acid and sugar content in fizzy drinks, juices, and lemonades contributes to childhood obesity and tooth decay. Dehydration in children is common as well. To fight all these negative effects, you only need to do one thing: drink water.

Water is the healthy, natural choice. The human body is made up of more water than anything else. You need water to keep your muscles moving, your blood pumping, and your brain functioning. Dehydrated children have lower test scores and a harder time concentrating. They also have increased problems with coordination and motor function.

Even if your child prefers other drinks to water, you should still insist they drink at least some water every day. Here are five ways to help your child to drink more water:

1. Start young – The younger you start children out on water, the easier it will be for them to have a healthy water habit throughout their life. Even babies can and should be given water in their bottles. A healthy lifestyle starts from birth, so it is never too early for your children to drink water.

2.  Fun straws and cups – Make drinking water fun by having a special water cup or straw. It can have their favorite cartoon character on it or just be swirly and fun to watch as they suck the water up the straw. The more fun you make it, the more water they will drink without even noticing.

3.  Natural flavor – If your child insists that they hate the ‘flavor’ of water, then you can add some natural flavorings. A few drops of orange or lemon juice add a negligible amount of sugar and acid but can flavor a whole glass. Fresh fruit and berries are also a good choice and make the water look festive.

4. Hot or Cold – Make sure when you give your children water that it is cold. Ice water is much tastier and more pleasurable to drink than lukewarm water. If it is a cold day, you can give them hot water to drink flavored with ginger, orange, or lemon. Hot or cold, water is the best drink for children and adults.

5.  Habit –Make drinking water a habit. Set time aside for rehydration, especially after outdoor play and physical activity. Children should make it a habit to drink water all day long, and, eventually, will come to crave water instead of the other drink choices. The human body knows how good water is, you just have to make your children aware of what their body is really craving.

Healthy drinking makes for a healthier lifestyle and a longer, more active life. Encourage your children to drink lots of water every day. Remember, you are your child’s best example. If they see you properly hydrating, they are more likely to drink water too.

Evidence from the University of East London found that older students who brought water into their exams performed academically better than those who went without.

The amount of fluid a child needs depends on many factors including age, gender, weather and how much physical activity they undertake but generally they should aim to drink about 6-8 glasses of fluid per day.

1.Children should aim to have 6-8 drinks per day which should ideally be water but milk, weak squash and diluted fruit juices are also good choices.

2.Put a bottle of water in lunchboxes as this is the fluid that the BNF advises drinking ‘plenty of’.

3.Children should be encouraged to sip fluids at regular intervals throughout the day i.e. a lot of children drink fluids at the end of the day when feelings of dehydration have already started to set in.

Thank you to Kelsey Clark our guest blogger today of 

Jun 28

What are your views on child safety?

Are you a parent that sees danger at every turn? Someone who’s afraid your child will get snatched/hurt and injured wherever they are? Or do you feel that the world has gone health and safety mad? Whatever your take we’d like to hear about it.

Let us know your feelings, thoughts and experiences on being safety conscious (or not).

For instance, are you worried that your level of caution is hindering your child’s ability to explore? Or are you laid back about safety to the point that other parents comment on your parenting?

Does living in a more rural area make you less fearful or do you feel city life boosts your child’s street awareness?

With some studies saying being over protective can leave children ill-equipped to deal with life on their own, and others highlighting the hidden dangers most parents ignore. It’s a confusing area.

Personally I think it’s all about balance. Having been brought up by very risk adverse parents who saw danger all the time I was a fearful child very afraid of getting hurt. As a parent I try not to coat my kids in cotton wool but at the same time it does drive me mad when parents are slack on the safety front.

My personal pet hate is seeing kids hanging out of car windows on busy roads. One dad at school even allows his son to stand on the seat with his head out of the sunroof as he’s driving!

Of course he’s an exception and I would think most parents adopt a more sensible view on child safety but what do you think?

Could we all do with being more safety conscious?

Jun 22

Finger food hazards

This is the story of when an innocent grape given to a toddler to snack on became life threatening.

When Luke was 14 months old he was given a few grapes as a snack only to find one got caught down his wind pipe and he was unable to breath. Limp and unconscious he was rushed to hospital where his lung had collapsed and he was critically ill …

Dr Allan Goldman the Paediatric Intensive Care consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, comments on how giving grapes to young children can cause problems:

“This is now the third patient in two hospitals where children under 33 months have choked on a grape. Our message is to be cautious when feeding toddlers grapes, and if possible to cut them in half. Also I would like to say how delighted we are with this little boys’ outcome and congratulate all the first aid and medical teams who contributed to saving his life.”

read more here 

and watch this video provided by essentially baby

make sure you know your first aid 

Jun 18

Child Safety Week kicks off with new research

‘New research for Child Safety Week reveals that child safety is threatened by stressed parents struggling with work pressures. Exhausted British parents no longer have enough time to prevent accidents and face more pressure than ever before according to the survey.’

How true is this – i am constantly juggling and rushing to take my children from one event to another, then to do the weekly shop, then to sort out some badly needed paper work, remembering to call my mother, the school, to confirm the gas man appointment, and so it goes one. With all this on the go I can often forget to ensure my 9 years old has safely placed her seat belt on, thinking we are only going around the corner ( most accidents in the car happen a few miles from home); I allow my 6 year old to sit in the bath while i run downstairs to iron her uniform ( a child can die in only a few inches of water); upstairs my teenager is curling her hair with some very hot hair curlers ….  it is so easy to think an accident will not happen to your family….. but please lets all try to take one small step to ensuring we have far fewer accidents.

Here are 10 accident prevention messages we can all try to act upon this week and beyond

* Every day 11 toddlers are rushed into hospital because it’s thought they’ve swallowed something dangerous. Detergent capsules and concentrated detergents are really convenient but pose new risks to young children. If yours are under the sink, take a couple of minutes to move them to a high cupboard or one with a lock, away from little hands.

* Remember some 3-4 year olds can open child ‘resistant caps in seconds (child ‘resistant’ doesn’t mean child ‘proof’), so keep medicines in a locked or high cupboard too. Don’t forget the painkillers in your handbag!

*  6 toddlers are admitted to hospital every day because they’ve been so badly burned. A hot drink can burn a young child even 15 minutes after it has been made, so put your baby down before you pick up yours and don’t pass hot drinks over children’s heads.

* A 1/3 of children and young people injured crossing the road admit they didn’t stop at the kerb and just as many said they didn’t even look. Remind your children this morning of the dangers.

* At least 2 children every year die after getting caught in a blind cord and being strangled. It takes seconds to tie yours back round a hook to keep loops out of reach of climbing children. Move children’s cots, beds and highchairs away from window blinds too.

* In five seconds a toddler’s skin can be burned so badly by hot tap water that they need to go to hospital. So take a second to put the cold water in first and top up with hot, then test the water with your elbow, to reduce the risk of your child being burned.

* Hair straighteners ( and curlers) stay hot enough to badly burn a child 8 minutes after being unplugged. So take a moment to lift them off the floor or the door handle and put them where they can’t be reached.

* Every day 45 toddlers are admitted to hospital after a fall. Take the time to fit a window lock so it will only open to 6cm (2.5 inches). Falling downstairs can damage your babies brain as well as their body so make sure you use safety gates on stairs.

* Thick, black smoke from a fire can fill your home in minutes and kill your child in seconds. So get a smoke alarm fitted on every level of your home and test it regularly.

* Toddlers can choke on food that’s too big, even just the size of a grape. Take a minute to cut their food up into small pieces.

visit for more advice and tips on child safety in the home

Jun 15

What are your Dad moments? Make your Dad feel special this Sunday on Father’s Day.

thats me bottom left !


Boots linked to want us to share our Dad moments.




Dads are often over looked when it comes to verbalising your love and appreciation – will you be giving your Dad a card or hug this Sunday ?

Dads are pretty special and often it is not until they have gone that we remember just how important they were to us …….

My Dad moment is when he would find you alone and then talk to you one to one about his thoughts and ideas and philosophy on life. He made you feel you were the only one worth talking to. Increasingly those moments were hard to find as life got busier and he got older. I miss them.

Father’s Day is here to remind and influence us of that special bond that Dads can have with their children.  While every dad has his individual quirks that can make children roll their eyes in red-faced embarrassment , it’s  also these things about them that children will remember and love.

This post is to pay tribute to those unique dads all over the country this Father’s day and to ask you to share your special ‘Dad moments’.

 What are your Dad moments , please share them.


May 25

What type of parent are you ?

All parents want their children to be happy. We should aim to love them for who they are, not who we would like them to be, nor for what they achieve.

What kind of parent are you?

The experts tell us that the most all round and happy child comes from the parenting style that is authoritative – not indulgent or permissive , not disinterested without guidance but firm love.

‘An authoritative parent keeps a close eye on children, sets firm boundaries, but grants considerable freedom within them. Intervenes only when necessary. Sticks to what they say, and does not shy away from conflict when enforcing rules. Loving, supportive, but not over-indulgent. A key aspect is flexibility: adapts responses after listening to and taking into account both their own perspective and that of the child’

Children of authoritative parents are happier, academically more successful, emotionally better adjusted and have better personal relationships than other children

Aaaaahhhhhh ! no pressure !

I don’t know about you but I often break my rules if it suits the situation, often bribe my children into doing things, love them a little too much and quite often see their point of view too easily and so find myself giving in, I’ve been known to go a bit mad going down to their level – - all wrong the experts say – oh dear oh dear oh dear – how will they turn out?

As parents we want our children to be happy, to have good social and emotional skills, to be  free from any anxiety, to be in control and resilient to knocks in life, have good self-esteem, optimistic, fun and flexible – with empathy for others  – lets hope our parenting skills are giving them some of these skills.

How / what are your views on best parenting practice?

May 11

Is sport for pre-school children a good thing?

The last thing young children need is another activity to cram in to their already busy schedules. In this day of technology, shouldn’t parents just get them home to watch TV, play a computer games or send an email? To chill out !

Luckily (in hindsight) my parents were very keen for me to get in to sport from a very young age and I fondly remember making frequent trips down the local rugby and football clubs to watch and then later play. I was exposed to the key morals and discipline that comes hand in hand with sport; learning to work as a team, responsibility, independence and of course friendship.

It also introduced me to competition. Competition in young children can be seen as a negative, but it is one of life’s core lessons. Controlled competition is healthy but it must be said that the ‘win at all costs’ approach is destructive. Rugby specifically teaches children, even from a very young age, to respect their opponents with the obligatory “three cheers” and handshakes all round.

And let’s not forget the key ingredient for all this; health.

In a recent NHS survey, doctors found 17% of boys and 16% of girls aged between 12 and 15 are classed as either overweight or obese – these figures in my mind are far too high.

It’s claimed that nearly three quarters of children are not getting the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity outside of school. By gently introducing sport to young children those statistics can be radically improved.

I can’t put it better than sports psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor at the NYU Child Study Centrein America:

“Research has shown that sport contributes to psychological well-being by reducing anxiety and depression and enhancing self-esteem. In sport, kids find a social milieu that can promote a spirit of social interaction, cooperation and friendship. Sport helps kids think critically and solve problems, build self-discipline, trust, respect for others, leadership and coping skills, all of which form the foundation of character building. Sport has also been shown to improve academic and occupational outcomes, lower school dropout and deter delinquency. And, of course, sport develops the mind/body connection by strengthening the body and training the mind to use it for action and reaction.”

And all this is gained in a watertight safety conscious environment.

Is sport for pre-school children a good thing?

Hard to say ‘no’.  Tell us what you think and what sports activities your kids are involved in

From guest blogger: Luke Walden  Munchkin Sports Ltd

Apr 26

Does your pre-teen have a Facebook page?

It’s all too easy for 11 / 12 ‘somethings’ to want to be part of the social network scene – why? – because their peers do and it appears it’s the way most now communicate. I wonder why that is – I know technology is second nature to kids nowadays but how sad it is that they are losing the art of just talking to each other.

I asked one teenager what was so special about social media  - her reply was that ‘you always knew what your friends were doing and thinking cos they changed their status on BBM or tweeted / shouted on Facebook – its just easy to be connected!’ She then confessed that ‘sometimes its easier to say things onscreen rather than face to face – it can be less embarrassing and at least you think they are listening ‘

Not only are kids losing the ability to be truthful in front of each other but they are living the fantasy of thinking they have friends cos they are seeing Facebook shouts, BBMs etc which are non specific.

Tim Loughton, the Children’s Minister, accused mothers and fathers of “aiding and abetting” pre-teens to open accounts on the social networking site.

Mr Loughton, who has three teenage children, said parents had a responsibility to monitor youngsters online, adding: “Having a Facebook page, you should be at least 13 to do that. That is not legally enforceable.

“We know, and I know from personal experience, the temptations for younger children to set up a Facebook site and get involved with those social media.

“And I also know that in too many cases they do that aided and abetted by parents. So it’s not just a question of giving information to parents, it’s making sure parents are acting responsibly on behalf of their children too.”

As a start take a look at Childalert’s Facebook Parenting tips

Apr 20

Girl aged 6 handcuffed and put in cell !

What do you do when your child is having a tantrum ?  How do you control it, stop it?

Most mothers know the signs, the triggers and have a way to resolve it, but not before you cringe with embarrassment.

Most children’s tantrums die down as they get older but every so often even my 13 year old will lose her sense of humor and throw a tantrum.

Usually tantrums are a way of expressing, what the child believes is a profound sense of injustice.

They usually are expressed in an environment of safety – where the child feels secure and with whom they feel safe.

However a little girl six has been handcuffed by police and thrown in a jail cell in the US after throwing a tantrum at school.

According to a police report, the child allegedly knocked over a small shelf which hit the principal in the leg, injuring her.

She also jumped on a paper shredder and tried to break a glass frame.

The school called in the police and an officer handcuffed the young girl when she refused to calm down.

She was taken down to the police station where she was charged with simple assault and damage to property.

What did they think they were doing?

Why wasn’t the teacher able to take control ?

What was wrong with simply calming and listening, finding common ground with the little girl?

The little girl probably just needed a cuddle – but health and safety say you cannot touch or show affection to children in your care.

The world’s gone mad.  What do you think?  I blame the teacher.

see childalert’s tantrum tips

Mar 23

What time do your children go to bed ?

We have a very strict routine in our household – bedtime for all our children(they range from 6-13) during the week is by 8 pm – they should try to sleep which mostly they do or otherwise read.

Not only de we believe children need a good nights sleep but we need an evening!

It seems logical that children who have to get up early and are engaged in busy school timetables should have down time away from each other and hopefully a good nights sleep.

Sleep guidelines for children suggest up to 12 + hours sleep a night -

2 to 3 years 10.5 to 12.5 hours; 4 to 5 years 12 hours; 6 years 11.5 hours; 7 to 11 years 9.5 to 11.5 hours

A report out today however is showing children going to bed as late at 11.30 and expecting to be up and bright by 8 am the following morning.

Dr Pat Spungin, child psychologist and family life specialist, said: “I agree there is very little information available to parents about the importance of a good night’s sleep. Parents should be concerned about the effects of sleep deprivation on their children, as lack of sleep has a negative effect on a child’s mood, concentration and attention. Research also shows that children who are sleep deprived do less well academically, show more problem behaviour and have lower levels of social skills.

“Scientific evidence shows that adequate night-time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and regular exercise for children to develop.’

Here are some tips to help you:

1. Establish a regular time for bed each night and do not vary from it

2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, give your child a warm bath or shower

3. Make bedtime fun – read your child a story

4. Do not give your child any food or drinks with caffeine prior to bedtime

5. Avoid giving your child a large meal before bedtime

6. Make after dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake

7. Exercise should be included in your child’s day to help them sleep well

8. There should be no TV or music playing while your child is going to sleep

9. Ensure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable

10. Make sure the noise level in the house is low

Mar 16

Schools say they want to build strong partnerships with parents …

A primary school in the North of England held a football match with another school – all players were 7 and 8 year olds keen to show off their skills to their parents.

However, as the mums and dads began to arrive they were asked for identification and if they had none the schools health and safety, ruled that they could not attend.

The match was played behind closed doors. “ we do not want unsupervised strangers wandering on the premises “

Quite rightly one parent shouted “It’s outrageous. I cant see for the life of me how this is about health and safety – if a child gets hurt the first thing they do is make a beeline for their mother or father”

What do you think?  Have we finally gone too far?

Mar 12

The Forgotten Baby Syndrome

The ‘Forgotten baby syndrome’ is becoming a serious worry as mothers are busy juggling family, home and work! ?

It seems unthinkable – accidentally leaving your baby for hours, but lots of busy parents do it with devastating consequences

Karen, a professional devoted mum goes on trial today for the murder of her baby son who she left alone in a hot car for over 7 hours! He died of heatstroke.

‘Karen drove a short distance to work, planning to drop her son off at nursery on the way. At around 4pm, she returned home. There, she received a panicked phone call from her husband. He was at the nursery to pick Ryan up. But Ryan wasn’t there.

In that split second, Karen’s world imploded. She realised she’d done something unimaginably awful. She sprinted to her car in the driveway and found her beloved baby, still strapped into his seat in the back. Karen, described by all who know her as a wonderful and caring mother, had forgotten to drop her son off at nursery. He’d been left in a searingly hot car for more than seven hours.

Despite frantic attempts to resuscitate him, Ryan died from heatstroke’.

Today, Karen goes on trial in America accused of murder and child neglect. If convicted, she could face a maximum prison sentence of 40 years.

Her husband, who is standing by her — as are their friends and extended family — says the murder charge is outrageous. He says it was a tragic accident, an inexplicable, inexcusable mistake — but not a crime. Furthermore, Karen is in a living hell. Accidentally killing your own baby is a lifelong sentence far greater than any a court could ever deliver.

What do you think ? Do you have any sympathy?

Have you ever forgotton your baby somewhere because you have just had too many things on your mind?

Feb 11

Aren’t the government’s plans to offer loans to help with childcare costs totally rubbish?

hildcare costs are severely denting the budget of millions of parents, but I don’t find the latest government proposals helpful. In fact, I find the plans to offer parents of pre-school children loans of up to £10,000 to pay for childcare absolutely outrageous. These loans would be paid for at an interest rate of 3 per cent above inflation, taken straight from the parent’s taxable income. If the loan starts at £10,000 in 2012, what will it look like in 2, or even 10 years time when you take into account interest payments and inflation? These loans would put already-struggling parents into even more debt

Polling for the Social Market Foundation, which has put forward the proposals, shows 55 per cent of parents say childcare is too expensive (by the way ONLY 55%, that surprises me when a full-time place at nursery in a big city would set you back around £1000 a month PER CHILD…)

The solution is not to offer a loan but to subsidise childcare, or create nursery places at an earlier age. Yes it would cost a fair bit of money – especially at a time when the government is drastically implementing budget cuts.

But think about the millions of women who have to give up work to look after their children because they cannot afford childcare. Millions of clever, able, hard-working women who cannot contribute as much to the economy and have to stay at home because it’s makes no sense to work when all their salary is used up for childcare. High childcare costs are discriminatory to women.

I know many people think it is a ‘lifestyle choice’ to have children and therefore associated costs have to be paid by parents but if you follow that reasoning, if some of us stopped reproducing on behalf of others, the world would be, well, empty.

What do you think?


Feb 11

Tales of a ‘culture starved’ generation: should school be the only place to learn about art?

Do you rely on school to teach your offspring about Picasso, Monet or Van Gogh? Have you ever taken them to the museum, the cinema, or the theatre? If not, then they could be amongst the millions of a new ‘culture starved’ generation of British children who have never been to an art gallery, theatre or stage show.

A according to new research carried out among 2,000 parents of five to12 year-olds throughout the UK, four in 10 children have never seen the inside of an art gallery, while 17 per cent haven’t visited a museum with their parents.

The research, which was commissioned by Visit Birmingham, also revealed that a quarter of children haven’t been to the theatre, while six in 10 have never heard or been to a classical music concert.

One in 10 kids hasn’t even left their home town to visit other sites in the UK.

And half of parents admit they make little effort to educate their children on culture or history, relying on schools to do so.

Instead, a third say they rely on schools to take full responsibility for sight-seeing trips and educational visits to local attractions

When questioned on why they make no effort to make their children more ‘cultured’ and knowledgeable about past history, a fifth of parents claim their offspring simply wouldn’t be interested.

A further 26 per cent claim they can’t afford to visit attractions, while 28 per cent don’t have the time to go trekking up and down the country.

A fifth of parents refer again to the fact that the children learn everything they need to know about culture and history at school. Well, that’s wishful thinking I’d say….

Tell us what you think?


Feb 01

Toddler development classes…is there any point? Dr Lin Day says yes.

I have to confess I have always wondered whether going to playgroups or ‘baby gyms’ made any sense – other than give exhausted and socially isolated mums an opportunity to commiserate with others.

According to Dr Lin Day, the founder of Baby Sensory, the baby development classes, they do. This is why, on top of the very successful baby classes, the company is also running Toddler Sense programme.

“Toddlers need to be with other children in order to learn important social skills such as negotiation, turn-taking and cooperation, which form the foundations for cooperative play and relationship building. Even though toddlers do not cooperate, share or make friends until their fourth year, if they have been given plenty of opportunities to play with other children, they will be at an advantage when they go to toddler group or preschool,” the company says.

I can only agree with that. How is a child who has spent the first four years of his life just with his parents going to cope at school? Learning key diplomacy skills from a young age can only be good to mingle with other equally “un-cooperative” creatures at school.

“Toddlers also need structure and a regular routine. Both give toddlers a sense of organisation, stability, comfort and personal control. In a Toddler Sense class, exercise and group play form an important part of the structure and daily routine. The first part of the session involves free-flow adventure play, which offers endless opportunities for exploration, problem-solving and imaginative thinking. Toddlers are encouraged to crawl through tunnels, bounce, climb or clamber over the equipment. They decide what interests them the most and how they will explore the equipment. Adventurers (18 – 36 months) put the equipment away after use, which builds self-esteem and confidence and keeps them busy and stimulated”.

So basically they run till they are exhausted – and, hopefully, that means they’ll sleep better at night – and then TIDY UP!!! Nice one…

“Free-flow play in the adventure area is followed by structured group activities which build the skills that toddlers need for healthy brain development. Activities may include hide-and-seek, music and movement, action songs, rhymes, dance, clapping and patting games, drawing and colouring, puppet shows, parachute activities, football, treasure hunts and interaction with soft toys.”

The sessions aim at being interactive: “Throughout the session, parents join in with the fun and offer toddlers support, praise and encouragement.”

And what about having a cup of tea instead?

Because: “spending time with them raises their self-esteem and emotional security and equips them to handle moments of frustration and anger”.

Well, ok, forget the cup of tea then, if Dr Lin Day says so….

For more information about sensory classes, click here

And for ideas about entertaining young children and turn them into happy, confident and sociable individuals, visit childalert’s website:

Jan 12

Children love to read ..

Gripping adventures from Stacy Gregg with the Diamond Horse to Magical adventures with River Rose by Kelly Clarkson there are some wonderful children’s books out this new year.

Others include :

Quentin Blake’sThree Little Monkeys about Hilda Snibbs and the three monkeys who turn her life upside down. Beautifully illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark – this book will be loved by all.

or Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers – an extraordinary tale of friendship – Fred floated like a feather in the wind until a lonely little boy wished for him and found a friendship like no other.

The oldies are also the best – Dr Seuss – who can resist The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham or Fox in Socks – a book with 5 best loved classics .

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