Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sleep Tips for Daylight Savings Time by Synthia Praglin


Daylight savings time will begin at 2:00am on Sunday November 1st when we turn the clocks back one hour. Adjusting to the shortened day and lack of sunlight can be hard on everyone, as we are forced to restructure our days. Here are some tips that may help make the adjustment a bit smoother.

On Sunday morning, your child will likely wake at their normal time, which unfortunately may be 1 hour earlier according to the new time. Keep their day and routine as close to normal as possible, according to the new time (meaning put them down for naps based on the new time). If bedtime was 7:30 on the old clock, it will now say 6:30. Try to keep them up until 7:00 on the new time unless they are so tired that you may miss the sleep window, in which case put them to bed at 6:30 and then begin to push bedtime ahead each day until you get to 7:30. Wake ups may continue to be a bit early for the first couple of days, but most will adjust within the first week. Watching the sleep cues and staying consistent will benefit everyone!


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Synthia Praglin, M.A., J.D., CIMI, CPE began teaching Mothers' Gathering (Mommy&Me) & Infant Massage classes after the birth of her own son Jake over eleven years ago. She found it was the perfect fit for her child development background and her own experiences of being a mom. Her professional background includes 15 years of experience in the fields of social services and law with at–risk children and their families.

For more information about Synthia Praglin, check out our Instructor Interview blog!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w. shopthehaven.com

Monday, October 26, 2015

Help - my child is teething!

Before your little one hits the terrible twos, she will hit teething. Mommas need something that works quick - and what's better than a gel that you can put right on that red, angry gum where a tooth that is about to pop through.


Hyland's Teething Gel is the first and only all-natural teething gel on the market. This homeopathic formula contains no benzocaine (see our other blog post about the FDA warning on benzocaine). No sugar. No artificial flavoring. No dyes or coloring agents. Just 100% natural, effective treatment - the only product like it on the market.


Hyland's teething tablets also provide a natural, homeopathic formula for symptoms of simple restlessness and wakeful irritability due to the cutting of teeth. They are a favorite of moms and babies as they dissolve quickly and are highly effective. They reduce pain, inflammation, fever, drooling, and the discomfort of teething.


Need extra help with teething... maybe a toy to distract and soothe your wailing baby -- Look no further than Sophie the Giraffe. Derived from natural rubber and food paint, this favorite toy is safe to chew. Her shape is easy for baby's hands to grasp, and she makes a delightful squeak when her tummy or head are squeezed. Her unique smell -the singular scent of natural rubber- also makes Sophie identifiable amid all other toys.


If the original Sophie is too big for your itty bitty, there's now a smaller version of everyone's favorite giraffe! The Sophie Teething Ring is ergonomically shaped and perfectly sized to fit your little one's hands and mouth!



A close cousin to Sophie the Giraffe, Chan Pie Gnon is also proudly handmade in the French Alps with the finest natural rubber (phthalate-free) and food quality paints.


What about a teether that also helps your child eat fruits and vegetables... The Baby Safe Feeder is the multitasker that does just that! It's the easy way to give your little one fresh food without added salt, spices, sugar, or preservatives. You can now introduce your baby to fruits, vegetables, and snacks of your choice without the risk of choking. It's easy to use. Just remove ring, put food into the Baby Safe Feeder mesh bag, and screw tight. That's it! For help with teething before your baby is ready for solid food, you can freeze breastmilk or formula in an ice cube tray and then pop it into the Baby Safe Feeder for your baby to gnaw on. (Check out our other blog post about how to best clean your Baby Safe Feeder.)


The Tiny Teether is made of washable vinyl. Tiny hands can easily grip, bite, and squeeze this soft and squeezable, vanilla-scented teether ball. It helps baby's gums feel better while they are going through the teething stage.


What if your baby is more into the pacifier concept? The RaZberry teether may be the solution for you. The bumpy multi-textures of this bright and cheerful teether will comfort your baby with teething relief and soothe those sore little gums. This silicone teether is cleaner and healthier for baby, too. You can freeze the teether for extra soothing comfort.

Need more help with teething? Call us at (818) 380-3111. You can also email us at info@shopthehaven.com.

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w. shopthehaven.com

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Motherlove Products - Nurturing Life

More than a generation ago, Motherlove was founded to help women discover the bond between motherhood and mother earth. Today, women around the world are experiencing that connection through their herbal care products for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and babies.

Creating the purest products of the finest quality, Motherlove Herbal Company is dedicated to using certified organic ingredients for a holistic way to soothe, pamper, and enrich the pregnant or breastfeeding body. Certified cruelty-free and without the use of preservatives, artificial fragrances, or petroleum-based additives (such as mineral oil) found in most body care products, Motherlove products instill confidence and peace of mind as you nurture yourself and the life within.

Used to soothe the discomforts of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and pamper the body, these products are also safe and gentle on baby's skin. Motherlove products have been proven so effective they have earned the trust and continued support of lactation consultants, midwives, health care practitioners, and mothers everywhere.

A Mother's Haven carries a variety of Motherlove products. Some of our top selling items include the Motherlove Nipple Cream, Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush, and the Motherlove More Milk Special Blend .

Motherlove Nipple Cream - According to our breastfeeding moms, this is the one thing you can't live without! It is a life saver for sore, cracked nipples. It is olive oil based and has no lanolin (which can cause an allergic reaction and stain clothes) nor Vitamin E (which shouldn't be ingested by infants). It smoothes on easily without being sticky or tacky. It's packed with healing herbs that are great for lips or diaper area too.

You can use it on sore, cracked nursing nipples to quickly soften and heal skin, and relieve pain. All ingredients are safe for ingestion, so it does not need to be washed off prior to nursing.

Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush - One of our long-time best-selling diaper rash treatments, it is an excellent all-natural salve for diaper rash, including persistent, inflamed diaper rash possibly caused by yeast. It is also effective on thrush-infected nursing nipples.

Motherlove More Milk Special Blend - An alcohol-free liquid concentrate in vegetarian capsules. Specially formulated at the request of lactation consultants, this blend of More Milk Plus with Goat's Rue helps women with special needs -- such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), breast reduction surgery, and adoptive moms -- to build mammary tissue as well as to safely and effectively increase breast milk. This formula is also helpful for women who did not see an increase in their breast size during pregnancy. This product does not contain any milk, dairy, soy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or gluten.

Take 1 capsule 4 times per day. Women over 175 lbs take 2 capsules 3 times per day. For maximum effectiveness, avoid more than 1-2 oz of liquid for 15 minutes before and after each dose.

Need more help with breastfeeding and nursing? Call us at (818) 380-3111. You can also email us at info@shopthehaven.com.

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w. shopthehaven.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lily Padz - Breastfeeding Made Simple


LilyPadz are the revolutionary new alternative to traditional breast pads combining such unique features as flexibility, breathability, invisibility, and the ability to stick to you to provide the kind of protection every expectant and nursing mother needs.

LilyPadz are reusable non-absorbent breast pads - they are the only breast pads that adhere to you and not your bra - which means better leakage protection.

Their unique design maintains pressure on the nipple and forms a non-absorbent barrier to prevent breast milk leakage. No more soggy breast pads, so you and your clothes stay dry!

Here are some of the benefits of LilyPadz:

LilyPadz can be worn overnight and with strapless tops. This has been proven to be one of their most popular advantages. Because of their special shape, LilyPadz can be used without a bra - a luxury for any nursing mother.

LilyPadz go unnoticed under almost any choice of clothing and can be used while swimming. They must be applied when dry and to your dry skin, but once they are in place, water does not penetrate them or cause them to fall off. So your LilyPadz are effective as you go from dry to wet to dry again and again.

If you don't plan on nursing, you can continue to wear LilyPadz as your milk dries up. You may experience some discomfort initially as with any weaning situation, but this zero demand triggers your body to regulate its milk supply down and eventually dry up.

LilyPadz can be used with lanolin or other nipple creams. However, because these creams are oily by nature, it may interfere with LilyPadz ability to adhere to you. We recommend applying the cream only to your nipple and areola (leaving the edges dry to adhere to the LilyPadz) and wearing the LilyPadz with good support to avoid slippage.

LilyPadz are manufactured from 100% medical grade, gas permeable, silicone compounds, so even if you're allergic to latex, it is unlikely you will have a reaction. Make sure to wash well before use and always be sure to rinse well to avoid soap residues.

A study has shown that LilyPadz users have decreased risk of common breastfeeding complications, such as incidences of mastitis, thrush, nipple injury, and duct clogging compared to use of traditional cotton nursing pads.

If properly cared for and used as directed, LilyPadz have a life expectancy of up to 2 months.

Unlike adhesives that wash away, their tacky lining is renewed with washing. Washing daily using an oil-cutting soap is important. The use of hot water while lathering the tacky surfaces ensures effective removal of lint and oils that interfere with any ability to stick. Always rinse well and air dry only.

Best Tips for Application and Use:

You can use LilyPadz whenever you need leakage protection or to accommodate strapless/braless clothing styles.

1. Peel the soft silicone LilyPadz from the product holders (round hard plastic domes) before use. Keep product holder to store your LilyPadz on when not in use.

2. Flip the LilyPadz inside out (the tacky side bowed out).

3. With a finger in the center of the LilyPadz, firmly place it on your breast, depressing your nipple.

4. With nipple in flattened position, smooth the edges down over the skin, making sure to smooth out any air pockets that might form underneath.

While feeding, your LilyPadz can be stored on the plastic domes used in packaging. This keeps the tacky surface clean and ready to go again. However, when on the go, it is convenient, discrete, and sanitary to simply place the removed pad toward the cleavage area of the opposite breast (outside the bra on the skin) when feeding.

Lilypadz are available at A Mother's Haven. To order your LilyPadz online, please feel free to visit our website or calling us at (818) 380-3111. You can also email us at info@shopthehaven.com.

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w. shopthehaven.com

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mothers' Gathering & Your Journey Through Motherhood

You've survived 9 months of pregnancy. You've made it through the excitement of labor and delivery, and now you're ready to head home and begin life with your baby. Woohoo! Except you get home and frantically realize you have no idea what you're doing!

We know that your first year with your baby is challenging - You're tired, overwhelmed, and confused - This is where Mothers' Gathering comes in. Whether this baby is your first or fourth, we offer classes that are catered to your specific needs. Still wondering if Mothers' Gathering is right for you? Here's a list of just a few of the benefits...

It is a great bonding activity. Parent and child classes offer a wonderful opportunity for bonding, which ultimately provides a sense of security and fosters a positive self esteem. Bonding is necessary to help your little one grow and flourish. In a mommy and me class, you will interact together and participate in similar activities that will promote bonding.

It can help your child develop cognitive, social, and gross motor skills. Many mommy and me classes will help with your child's overall development. For example, in our Mothers' Gathering classes, you and your baby will sing songs, play with developmentally appropriate toys, and do movement activities together. It can help them acquire reasoning skills, increase self-control, and cultivate a lifelong love for music.

It is a fantastic way to make new friends. A class offers you a wonderful opportunity to make friends and meet other new moms. This is a great chance for your little one to find a new buddy, and for you to build a new friendship with another mom. Friendships can make a tremendous difference in your journey through motherhood.

It's about building a community that can help alleviate a feeling of loneliness. A parent and child class can help alleviate those feelings of loneliness - even if you have family or friends around, you can feel alone in this journey as a new mom. This class allows you to create meaningful relationships with other moms going through a similar experience. It also gets you out the door, provides a break in the day or week, and gives you an opportunity to get support from people who truly understand what you're going through.

Much more than a "Mommy and Me" class, our Mothers' Gathering classes are education & support groups for thinking moms who are looking for information, guidance & friendship. These eight week sessions truly allow for a place to establish a foundation and gather the tools to determine what fits best for each mom and her child.

Our philosophy is that there is no one "right way" to parent and what works for you might not work for another mother. And what might work one week, might not work the next. Whether you're a first or second or third time mom, we give you tips and strategies for your parenting tool box, helping you to find confidence in your parenting skills and choices.

Groups for new mothers start approximately every 4 weeks. These classes do fill quickly and require pre–registration. You can call (818) 380-3111 to register or use the online registration page. You can also email us at info@shopthehaven.com.

For a full Mothers' Gathering class schedule, you can visit our online class calendar.

You can also read more about our Mothers' Gathering teachers on our blog:

Interview with Synthia Praglin

Interview with Danielle Vorzimer

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w. shopthehaven.com


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Breastfeeding Support Group & You

We realize that for many women breastfeeding can be challenging. That's why at A Mother’s Haven, we offer a breastfeeding support group for all mothers who are nursing their baby and have any questions, need information, or want the camaraderie of other breastfeeding moms.

The group is facilitated by a highly knowledgeable Certified Lactation Consultant, who has breastfed her own children and has years of experience working with mothers and babies.

The Breastfeeding Support Group meets at our boutique in Encino on Tuesdays from 10am. This informative drop-in group is only $10 per visit.

If you have any questions or breastfeeding problems you need help with, please call us at (818) 380-3111 or email info@shopthehaven.com. We can help you figure out if the Breastfeeding Support Group or a one-on-one Lactation Consult is best for you and your baby!

Here are just a couple of our testimonials...

“Thanks for being there for me during Lily’s nursing strike. Your kind words and advice were comforting as I figured everything out. I appreciate your support so much!”
Jessica Thompson

“We would have never been successful at breastfeeding without your help and support. We appreciate so much the service you provide.”
Jeanie and David Tibayan

We rent out hospital-grade Medela pumps. Rental pumps are only $75 per month!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w. shopthehaven.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Medela TheraShells - Two Solutions In One


Sore nipples, engorgement and flat/inverted nipples can be challenges for breastfeeding mothers but TheraShells can help provide relief between feedings. Constructed of medical grade polypropylene, TheraShells are sterile and are ready for immediate use in hospital.

What can TheraShells do for you?

Here are some features and benefits...

- Help flat/inverted nipples or engorgement with small-holed backs

- Help soothe sore nipples with large-holed backs

- Help keep nipples dry and prevent further irritation

- Vented fronts provide air flow for comfort

- Help prevent leaks. The foam absorbs well and you also have the cup to hold leaking milk

- More flattering appearance under clothes than other shells and inconspicuous under clothes. You can even use them with nursing pads if you want a flawlessly smooth look under clothes.

- It's best not to wear them at night, so you don't put pressure on your breast in case you sleep on your side, but they help tremendously if you're up and around so your bra or clothes don't rub against your skin and further irritate your nipples.

- you can also use these with a nipple cream to further soothe your sore nipples.

What’s Included:

- 2 shells
- 2 flat/inverted nipple shell backs (small opening)
- 2 sore nipple shell backs (large opening)

The Medela TheraShells are available at A Mother's Haven. To order your Therashells online, please feel free to visit our website or calling us at (818) 380-3111. You can also email us at info@shopthehaven.com.

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w. shopthehaven.com

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Holidays, Travel and Sleep Disruptions by Synthia Praglin

The scene goes something like this… your baby is finally sleeping through the night and naps are generally going well. And then the holidays arrive. Whether you are traveling or having guests stay at your house, holidays can be disruptive to a child’s sleep. Routines often go out the window, and traveling across time zones can be tricky. The good news is, some children actually travel very well, are flexible and easily adapt to new surroundings. These children can return to their normal sleep routines with little or no difficulty. Others tend to be creatures of habit and resist sleep due to the new environment and/or the lack of a predictable schedule. Before you cancel those plans, try some of the tips below!

Typically, a child who sleeps well at home will usually sleep well while traveling. Still, you might want to consider bringing along some familiar reminders of home for the new sleep environment. For crib sleepers, grab the sheets right off the bed, and anything else your child may be attached to including loveys, blankies, stuffed animals, music and favorite books. If your child will be sleeping in a pack n’ play, be sure to have a couple of dry runs (naps will usually do) before leaving. Also, check with the hotel as to what they mean by a “crib.” It could turn out to be a pack n’ play. Consider renting a crib from Baby's Away, a company which will deliver a variety of baby/child accessories to your location.

If your child is still struggling with night time sleep, it may be worth putting off any “training” until after your trip. If your child has just recently begun sleeping through the night (and is resisting the new environment) the temptation to revert back to tried and true measures (rocking, nursing, etc.) is an easy one. If you feel this is your only option, don’t despair. Once home you can begin the “training” all over again. Adopting a “business as usual” attitude will help, simply picking up where you left off.

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Synthia Praglin, M.A., J.D., CIMI, CPE teaches Mothers' Gatherings (Mommy&Me) & Infant Massage classes at A Mother's Haven. Her professional background includes 15 years of experience in the fields of social services and law with at–risk children and their families. Synthia is certified by the International Association of Infant Massage Instructors and believes strongly that massage is a valuable way to promote bonding and communication between parents and their children.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Featured Instructor - Interview with Synthia Praglin


We hope that you're enjoying finding out more about our different instructors who teach the prenatal classes, mommy&me groups, baby music classes, and all the other workshops and sessions we do here at A Mother's Haven Boutique & Educational Center.

Our next interview is with Synthia Praglin - so many moms have had the benefit of being with Synthia in our Mothers' Gathering classes, which are wonderful education-support-community groups where new moms are together with other moms who have babies the same age. Everyone's going through the same stages and issues, and the instructor informs and supports the whole group through the huge life change of raising a baby!

AMH: What can new moms expect to learn or get from your Mothers' Gathering class?
Synthia: First and foremost, a sense of connectedness. Being a new mom can be very isolating and these groups can be very helpful in minimizing the isolation and loneliness. Additionally, I want moms to feel ‘normal.” It is important that they realize they are not alone in their feelings or experiences and that the group is a great resource for support. Each class addresses a topic geared towards the mom or her baby, so I always hope that they leave with some new information or tip to make the adjustment a bit easier.

AMH: What is your philosophy on parenting?
Synthia: There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to parenting. Each family has its own unique qualities and needs, thus the parenting approach that one chooses must ultimately fit well with those needs. I like to offer a “tool box” from which moms (and dads) can chose tips and techniques that work best for them.

AMH: How did you decide to get into this field?
Synthia: After having been at home with my son for 3 years I realized that it was time to do something in addition to being “Jake’s mom.” My educational background and personal experience including having been in a mommy group, were a perfect fit for facilitating such groups. I began teaching at The Pump Station in Santa Monica and received my certification in infant massage before accepting a position to expand the Mother’s Gathering program at A Mother’s Haven.

AMH: How would you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
Synthia: Empathic, supportive, good listener, good sense of humor (especially when it comes to parenting!)

AMH: What inspires you? What drives you?
Synthia: My 12 year old son inspires me to be the best mom I can be. Knowing that the mother-child relationship is the most significant relationship between two people keeps me constantly assessing what I am saying and doing so that he grows up feeling loved for who he is, not who I may want him to be. Children tell us what they need, we need only to listen with our heart.

AMH: How do you stay current in your field?
Synthia: Blogs, articles, books, workshops and very often, the moms in my groups! They are a wonderful source of information of which there is no shortage.

AMH: What products/resources would you recommend to new or expecting moms?
Synthia: The Sleep Sheep is great for helping little ones sleep.

AMH: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Synthia: I’d love to go to culinary school!

AMH: Favorite hobby? pastime?
Synthia: I love to cook and travel.

AMH:Favorite place to travel?
Synthia: Italy and Greece

AMH: Favorite spot in LA?
Synthia: Any new restaurant!

AMH: Best advice you've ever gotten?
Synthia: More of a quote than advice:
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

AMH: Favorite advice to give new/expecting moms?
Trust yourself and trust what you know about your baby. If something doesn’t feel right, find the support you need. Don’t compare your baby to anyone else’s. They will all walk down the aisle and say “I do” just not at the same time.

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Synthia Praglin, M.A., J.D., CIMI, CPE began teaching Mothers' Gathering (Mommy&Me) & Infant Massage classes after the birth of her own son Jake over eleven years ago. She found it was the perfect fit for her child development background and her own experiences of being a mom. Her professional background includes 15 years of experience in the fields of social services and law with at–risk children and their families. Synthia is certified by the International Association of Infant Massage Instructors and believes strongly that massage is a valuable way to promote bonding and communication between parents and their children.


Check out some of our previous Featured Instructor and Staff interviews:

Terri O'Donnell - Store Manager

Lauren Ryan - teaches Supported Birth and Caring For Your Newborn

Danielle Vorzimer - teaches Mothers' Gathering

Leslye Adelman - teaches Prepared Childbirth One-Day Intensive, Breastfeeding 101 prenatal workshops, and Caring For Your Newborn prenatal workshops. She also facilitates our weekly Breastfeeding Support Group, and is available for Private Lactation Consults.

Monday, October 5, 2015

BabyGanics - Naturally Safe & Non Toxic

Are you a clean freak but also care about the environment? The founders of BabyGanics sure are, and as a parent, they're betting you are too!

While some people don’t think twice about the everyday products they use to clean their homes, parents often do, and most importantly - they want to keep their children healthy and safe. The fact is that many common household products contain questionable ingredients and substances that can easily be avoided.

For years, BabyGanics has been the trusted brand of parents worldwide, providing a set of solutions specifically created for the growing family. Among our favorite products are The All Purpose Cleaner and All purpose Surface Wipes which we obsessively to clean all surfaces and products...

So what makes these products so unique and beneficial?

- Safe – Free from harm, injury or risk.
- Natural – Products sourced from nature, i.e. plant based sources.
- Sustainable – Materials that are readily biodegradable, provide for long term well being and are responsibly derived from our natural resources.
- Renewable resources – Ingredients that are replaced by nature at a rate faster than we consume.
- Healthy lifestyle – Making choices that benefit our health and well being while avoiding risk and potentially harmful materials.
- Gentle – Neutral and safe formulations that are safe to touch, breathe and handle.
- Convenient - They're so easy to use - just a spritz ofthe spray or a swipe of the wipe cleans the dirtiest of grimes.
- Value – Affordability of premium products at everyday prices.
- Non toxic – Products that have low or no toxicity when used liberally and as directed.

The Babyganics Floor Cleaner offers a safe place to play, skid, sleep, crawl, eat, roll around and occasionally walk... while the BabyGanics Hand Sanitizer keeps your hands clean, moisturized and safe with its non-toxic formula. And what about those mysterious stains and odors found on clothes, bibs, carpets, bedding and pretty much everywhere? They found the solution for that too with their BabyGanics Stain Remover Spray - safe as it is effective!

You can order all these products on our website or drop by the store to pick some up.
Feel free to contact us by calling (818) 380-3111 or email us at info@shopthehaven.com.

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w. shopthehaven.com

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Floortime by Danielle Vorzimer


When was the last time you played with your child? Were you multitasking? Were you holding your PHD (preferred handheld device)? Can you remember the last time you “simply” waited, watched, and wondered? When our babies are newly born, we tend to naturally do a lot of watching and waiting and wondering. But very often, as time progresses, we create new and efficient routines. Our babies and children become more independent. We tend to focus our energy on doing – making money, making food, cleaning, packing, planning – family maintenance. We live in an extraordinarily fast-paced, highly purposeful and demanding culture. It is easy to consider it superfluous to play. But consider this: it is as important for you to play with your children without judgment, agenda, or distraction as it is for them to have clean clothes on their backs.

I would like to present a challenge. Let’s set aside some time every day engaging in focused, child-led, non-judgmental play with our children. Countless developmental theories and establishments (The American Academy of Pediatrics; Stanley Greenspan’s Floortime model; Serena Weider’s DIR model; the Zero to Three movement; mindful parenting philosophies; psychoanalytic child therapies; etc.) encourage us to let go of our agendas and allow our children to guide us in age-appropriate play alongside them. It may feel silly at first, but it will undoubtedly boost your child’s confidence, teach them how to communicate and think emotionally, help develop their ability to solve problems, exercise their imaginations, and facilitate their capacity for warmth and attachment.

If you’re not sure what I mean, consider the following suggestions (Drs. Greenspan & Weider’s theories expanded):

1. Follow your child’s lead. Make calm and encouraging remarks and ask questions.

Younger child example: “You’re shaking the rattle. Shake, shake, shake!”
Older child example: “You’re interested in that book. Which page is your favorite?”

2. Treat whatever your child is doing as intentional and purposeful

Younger child example: “You’re looking at mommy’s eyes. Big, brown eyes!”
Older child example: “I hear you singing to your doll. I bet she likes that.”

3. Encourage your child’s exploration and choices.

Younger child example: “I see you touching your toes. Now Daddy is touching your toes too!”
Older child example: “You want to look inside the cabinet. Let’s look together.”

4. Open the door to symbolic play.

Younger child example: “The car goes vroom!”
Older child example: “I see you holding the teapot. Are you making some tea or hot chocolate?”

5. Be a player, not just a helper.

Younger child example: Crawl through the play tunnel with them. Shake a rattle with them.
Older child example: Get alongside your child and mimic their behaviors. If they’re hammering with their play tools, grab a toy saw and join the fun. If they don’t want help, find other objects for them to hammer. The more engaged in the play you are, the more thrilled they will become.

I know you have a million things to do. I’m a mom too. I know firsthand how challenging it can be to find time for fun. But this is as important as everything else on our To Do list. It will be good for us and good for our children. And, really, isn’t that what life is all about?

References and related links:
http://www.floortime.org
http://www.zerotothree.org
http://www.aap.org/

Danielle Vorzimer, Psy.D. teaches Mothers' Gathering class at A Mother's Haven. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University in 2010. Danielle received her B.A. in psychology from Indiana University in 2004 and her M.A. in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University in 2006. Danielle has several years of experience working with adults and children of all ages, including parents & infants, at the Child Development Institute in Woodland Hills, The Help Group in Sherman Oaks, and The Maple Counseling Center in Beverly Hills. Danielle has received a year of training facilitating Mindful Parenting groups with mothers and their babies, and has a special interest in Mindful Parenting theories. She also has experience researching parent-child interactions in the field of third party reproduction.