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A Witching Hour Guide: Getting Safely – and Happily – from Kansas to Oz

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Do you dread the time between when your kids get home from school and dinnertime? Are fights, yelling and crying more inevitable than death and taxes? Then you, my friend, have fallen victim to the deep, dark and mysterious black magic of the witching hour. Before you call your tax adviser, I’ve got some concrete advice to help break the nasty spell. No longer will you be the Wicked Witch of the West. Just keep these tips in mind, tap your glitteriest red shoes together and say it with me: “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home …”

  • Break it up (the monotony and the time that is, not your marriage or household). Every preschool has a scheduled routine for the day; these little guys need it, and you need it. Break two-hour increments into four half-hour segments. Definitely include a downtime and give young children two to three choices for what to do during each time period. Give them something to look forward to.
  • Make a list. Involve kids in making a list of activities they enjoy; help them refer to it when they need ideas or re-directing. Art and books are no-brainers. (I would say that limited amounts of time on an electronic device or watching a mellow TV show are acceptable, but I live in the East Bay, and I don’t need hate mail.) Every so often, add new activities to the list. Your child will have new interests every few weeks; get books on those subjects from the library.
  • Articulate great expectations. Confidently tell your children what kind of behavior you expect. If you’ve got work to do and need them to play quietly for a bit, tell them how long it will be and what you’ll do after. Remember to be supportive and convey that you believe in them. (If you do it in a negative, threatening way, you’re setting everyone up for failure.) The more you establish the fact that there is a plan and some structure, the less chaotic things will be. Try not to get too frustrated when they inevitably slip up. If you feed their drama with your own, you’ll only get lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
  • Nip it in the bud. When you start to hear the tone of the play getting sassy or too rambunctious— before it’s clear you’re not in Kansas anymore—remind them of your expectations. Review their choices and give them the opportunity and responsibility of making good decisions (if they only had a brain?). Instead of focusing on punishment and blame, convey that you believe they can work things out through honest communication and respect.
  • Try to engage. Have a heart. You’re no Tin Man and don’t be a Cowardly Lion. No matter how busy you are, you have enough time to play with your children. Even if you can only spare 20 minutes, tell them clearly you have time to spend with them. Get hands-free and dive into their world. Relax and enjoy them and watch them magically become relaxing and enjoyable. For you are Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.
  • Applaud their efforts. It’s so easy to only say something when you need to discipline or re-direct. Attention energizes. Make a conscious effort to thank them and applaud them when you see they are helping you out and behaving respectfully. Help them see that when they make good choices, everyone benefits and feels better. Because, because, because, because, because—because of the wonderful things he does.

We all long for a place where there isn’t trouble, somewhere over the rainbow. By now you know parenting isn’t always a romantic love story. No doubt it will be an action/adventure, but you can help it be less of a suburban drama. Anytime things start spinning out of control, take charge. Huddle up and make a plan. Be the director in your own family classic. Like Dorothy, you may awake to find that you needn’t look any farther than your own backyard to find your heart’s desire. Because if it isn’t there, you never really lost it to begin with.

This article was reprinted with permission from Tom Limbert is a published parenting author and Parent Educator at Parents Place. Tom has been working with young children and their families since 1992, including 10 years at Stanford's Bing Nursery School. He has a Master's degree in Education with an emphasis in early childhood development, is the co-creator of Studio Grow, and the Director of Woodside Preschool. Tom's first book, Dad's Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time, has over one hundred inspiring quotes and includes a Foreword from Hall of Fame QB Steve Young. He's working on another gift book for dads with Chronicle but his most helpful book is What They Won't Tell You About Parenting.

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Study: Children with TVs in their Rooms More Likely to be Overweight

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Updated: Monday, June 12, 2017

In not surprising news, a study by a team at University College London published in the International Journal of Obesity found that children who have TVs in their bedroom by the age of 7 are more likely to be overweight or obese by the age of 11.

The study, which found that girls were 30 percent and boys 20 percent more likely to be overweight if their rooms contained a television, looked at the data on over 12,000 children. Factors for obesity including household income, mother’s education level, time spent breastfeeding, bedtime and physical activity were also taken into consideration. The BMI of each child’s mother was also looked at. All factors were adjusted to complete the study.

Of the 12,556 children who took part in the study, over 50 percent had televisions in their room by age 7. The analysis found that those children were likely to have a higher BMI and fat mass than children who did not have a TV.

The study showed that, in addition to more research needed, the childhood obesity epidemic needs to urgently be tackled. Read more at Newsweek.

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Family Day is on its way...

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 15, 2017

PAMP's biggest event of the year is coming! Family Day is a free, fun-filled day for PAMP members to mingle with other PAMP families, and enjoy food and fun activities! We'll have live music, a catered lunch, pony rides, story time and more!

Hosted to celebrate all of our PAMP families and to show appreciation for all the wonderful volunteers who help make PAMP a success, Family Day is a great way to make friends and meet the new board of directors! You can even learn about easy ways to give back to our club and community!

Register now and join us on Sunday, July 30 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mitchell Park.

Here’s what we know:
Friendly Pony Parties: As always, Friendly Pony Parties will provide the barnyard animals for the petting zoo and pony rides to our PAMP families.
Earth Baby: Hosting a diaper station

Key Sponsors:
International School of the Peninsula
La Petite Baleen: Arts and crafts
Pediatric Dentistry of Palo Alto: Face painter, balloon twisting and magic
Party with 630: Bubble machine, cotton candy and coloring
Jefunira Camp: Several stations of fun and games (think bubbles and Play-Doh)
Pandia Health: Origami
The Village Doctor: Three games to play and a ducky pool
Town & Country Resources: Water table, facepaint and natural Play-Doh
Forever Smiles Pediatric Dentistry: Tooth brushing activity and wheel spin

 Activity Sponsors:

Super Soccer Stars: soccer activities focusing on skill development for children ages 1-7
Sweetgreens: Coloring table with veggie illustrations
Roovillage: Water table activity
SnipIts: Crazy, fun hairstyles with color streaks and product and temporary tattoos
Stratford School: Activity TBA
Lighthouse: Activity TBA

Members – even though the event is free, please RSVP here and be sure to select your choice of food.

More Activities and Entertainment Schedule to Follow -- Stay Tuned!

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Study: Dairy Drinking Children Taller

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Updated: Monday, June 12, 2017

In a study not funded by the dairy industry, a study lead by Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital, found a SMALL difference in the height between children who consumed cow’s milk and children who drank non-dairy alternatives and goat’s milk.

More than 5,000 children were part of the study and the results suggested that for each cup of non-cow’s milk a child consumed, those children were, on average, 0.2 inches shorter than children who consumed dairy. The results were consistent with the percentile lines on the World Health Organization growth chart. It also found that children who drank both cow’s milk and cow’s milk alternatives were still shorter than average, indicating that height was likely tied to the amount of consumed milk.

However, doctors pointed out that the height difference in children who were drinking alternatives due to allergies might be shorter due to the allergies themselves, as it could impair the absorption of nutrients. On the flipside, the hormones given to cows to produce more milk could also be causing the increase in a child’s height.

Bottom line for parents: pay attention to the nutritional values in products to ensure they contain the necessary protein, fat and micronutrients to support optimal growth.  Read more at Newsweek.

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New Information about Jump Into Summer

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 8, 2017

PAMP’s Jump Into Summer is just under two weeks away, and while you’re scheduling out your summer activities, this popular event is one you surely won’t want to miss. We have some new information that just might entice you to take the “jump” and sign up your family.

We’ve ordered 5 - yes FIVE - blowup, bouncy structures to please even the toughest of critics. We’ll have the 4-in-1 dazzling castle and castle jumper for all of our princes and princesses, soccer darts for our future soccer stars, 4-in-1 pirate ship to yo-ho-ho your way to fun and another 4-in-1 structure. We’ll have standard bounce houses and bouncy slides sure to tucker the kids out and ensure a peaceful naptime. One of the structures will even be dedicated to the youngest of guests so parents can rest assured that their two-year-old will be in a safe environment and away from larger kids who may knock them over.

Soccer Shots Bay Area will have an indoor soccer activity. Located in San Mateo, Soccer Shots impacts children’s lives on and off the field through best-in-class coaching, communication and curriculum.




Snip-its will be on hand to give kids fun and wacky hairstyles for the day. Snip-its, located at Palo Alto’s Town and Country Village in Palo Alto, is designed to make kids feel special and have fun. No appointments are necessary, as walk-ins are welcome.






La Petite Baleen is hosting an indoor craft activity. La Petite Baleen has been providing swim lessons throughout the Peninsula since 1979. With indoor, heated pools and four locations, La Petite Baleen offers year-round lessons to children of all ages.

Blossom Birth will be there too, providing yoga instruction and henna to guests. Blossom Birth serves new and expectant families in the Bay Area by providing resources and services for a healthy, informed and confident pregnancy and parenting journey.

Party with 630 is providing the bounce houses at a discounted rate for this event. Party with 630 provides a variety of services including bounce houses, photo booths, fun games, sport games, rock walls and shoot 'em up games, among other things to make your next party the best party.






Snacks will be provided by My Petite Box, which offers a large variety of nutritious meals that will wake up your children’s taste buds. My Petite Box will be bringing pizza, savory muffins, sweet muffins, cookies and applesauce.







Jump Into Summer is only $10 per PAMP family and $25 for non-members (tell your friends and neighbors to come and enjoy a day with PAMP). Register today and we’ll see you on June 25 at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center – Sequoia Room and Patio, 700 Alma Street in Palo Alto, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

We’re also looking for volunteers to join in the fun. Volunteering is a great way to meet the PAMP board and other families!! If interested, sign up  here or email

Tags:  jump into summer  pamp events 

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Child Sleep Series #2: Your Baby at 6 months

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Updated: Monday, June 12, 2017

I remember my baby boy being 6 months, and thinking “Oh this is the best age!”.  Little did I know that I would continue to say that each month as he grew, except maybe when he turned 3… but that’s another story :)

At 6 months, your baby is becoming more mobile, and curious about her world.  She’s likely rolling, and maybe even doing some commando crawling across the floor, aiming to grab that remote of course!  She’s likely started some solids, which can be very entertaining for us parents.  Don’t forget to introduce new solids early in the day, so she has the entire day to process the food.  Offering new foods at dinner time could interfere with nighttime sleep should she have trouble digesting it.

What can you expect sleep wise from your baby at this age?

By 6 months, most babies will have transitioned from 4 daily naps, down to 3 naps.  A typical nap schedule for a 6 month old looks something like this:

Nap 1 - 45 minutes or more

Nap 2 - 1 hour or more

Nap 3 - A Cat nap no more than 30-40 minutes.

Your sleep goals are to have 11-12 hours of total overnight sleep and 2-3 hours of napping hours during the day.

The first nap of the day is always the easiest to put them down for, and the last nap of the day is always the hardest.

She’ll keep that 3rd nap until 7-9 months when she’ll drop that nap and transition to 2 naps.  You can read more about that nap transition on this blog post The 3-2 Nap Transition.

If your baby isn’t getting enough sleep, she’ll get into an overtired cycle.  When kids are overtired the consequences are:

-      Taking a long time to fall asleep

-      Trouble staying asleep

-      Frequent night wake ups

-      Early morning wake ups

The most common error parents make with nap transitions is they don’t adjust bedtime to be earlier to accommodate for the lost nap hours, and bedtime is too late.  When your child was 5 months, she may have had a 4th nap around 4:30 pm, and then a 7:30 pm bedtime. 

Now that that 4th nap is gone, she may be waking from her 3rd nap around 4:00 pm, and needs to be back asleep 2.5 hours later, which would be 6:30 pm.  An earlier bedtime is necessary here. 

Don’t be afraid of this early bedtime as it does not mean that your child will wake up earlier in the morning.  The more well rested a child is, the better she will sleep. Think of the earlier bedtime as “bridging”, by shifting some of the lost nap hours into an earlier bedtime.

Are you still struggling with night wakings?

Around 6 months, exclusively breastfed babies may be down to 1-2 night feeds over 11-12 hours.  Formula fed babies may be down to 0-1 night feeds.

If your child is still waking every 3 hours to feed, you might want to ask yourself, is she really hungry?  Or is she reliant on the bottle or the breast to put her back to sleep?  We call this a sleep crutch.  A sleep crutch is something external that your child needs to fall back asleep.

If you are feeling exhausted, let’s talk about what you can work on.

1.    Focus on her awake times.  Awake time is the age appropriate time between naps that she can comfortably stay awake for, before she needs to be back asleep before, to avoid her becoming overtired.  At 6 months, her maximum awake time is 2.5 hours.  If she is awake any longer than that, you’re going to have challenges getting her to sleep, and having her stay asleep.

You can download my age appropriate awake time chart here: Age Appropriate Awake Time Chart.

2.   Think about tackling her sleep crutch.  Your child will wake up at night or mid nap, and fall back asleep in the same manner at which she fell asleep at bedtime.  So if she’s being nursed, bottle fed, using a pacifier, being rocked or held, then she’ll require that same sleep crutch to help her back to sleep when she wakes up.  The only way to change that is to “re-train” her, by doing some sleep training.  You can read more about sleep training techniques on my blog post here:  Sleep Training Techniques.

If you like what I have to say, you are always welcome to join my FREE Helping Babies Sleep Support Group where I moderate discussions, and you can post questions about anything sleep related.  This community is here to validate your experiences, and support you in your questions. It takes a village.

Sarah Mitchell has a Bachelor of Kinesiology from McMaster University and a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.  She has always been interested in health and the human body.  Having children of her own uncovered a new passion, helping parents get their children to sleep.  Her 1stchild would not sleep, which led her down the path of researching everything she could about baby and toddler sleep, and now she wants to empower you. She coaches parents and blogs at Helping Babies Sleep., twitter: @sleepcoachsarah

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Study: Supplements and Special Diets Ineffective in Autistic Children

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017

A new study published in Pediatrics assessed the current research on dietary restrictions and supplements and how they relate to children with autism.

Authors identified 19 pieces of research literature – four of which had a low risk of bias and five had a high bias risk. The studies investigated the benefits of supplements, variations of gluten-free or casein-free diets and other dietary restrictions of a total of 732 children.

While parents reported behavior and communication improvements, the hard data showed there was no change in long-term benefits. One study, which had a high bias risk, showed that gluten- and- casein-free diets positively affected communication, cognitive, motor, verbal and social skills, while another only showed improvements at 12 months, but not 24. Basically, there was not enough evidence to draw any conclusions.

The use of Omega-3 fatty acids had no effect on behavior. In another study of DHA supplements, parents in the placebo group reported better social skills while teachers reported better communication in the treatment group. There was some promise with methyl B12 and levocarnitine, but more research needs to be done to determine actual benefits.

Currently, the best treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders is evidence-based therapies that can address the specific needs of each child. Read more at Forbes

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Apps for your Special Needs Child

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Technology has brought about many different tools that help special needs children. The market is saturated with apps for every possible need. From entertainment to education purposes apps have become an integral part of living in the digital world. Filtering through the different apps from paid and free can be overwhelming.

There are many different apps specifically to help children with special needs, but here are a few of our favorites:

1.    ProloQuo2Go - This app is a favorite among speech therapists. Although the high price tag ($249.99) might seem a bit steep, it is one of the leading programs for speech improvement. The app is meant to help those with speech or communication issues to practice their communication and language skills. The app also has customization in that it can be adapted for different levels as well as can be adjusted for different fine-motor, visual, and cognitive skills.

2.    Story builder - This app is an all-around great education app for children. The app is meant to help students put together paragraphs and boosts their reading skills. This particular app is great for children with autism because it extensively uses audio clips in aiding with the storytelling process. This audio feature enhances audio-lingual processing and gives children with special needs another way of stimulating their sensory learning.

3.    Speech with Milo - This is another app that is great for enhancing speech and communication skills. Developed by a speech therapist, the app is great for not only education purposes but for entertainment purposes as well. Children become in engaged in the learning process with the help of the animated mouse, Milo. 

1.    Dexteria - Another top app for special needs children is Dexteria. This app helps with fine motor skills as well as develop handwriting readiness. By taking full advantage of the multi-touch surface of a smartphone or tablet, Dexteria uses a series of games and activities to practice fine motor skills and build control as well as strength and accuracy.

2.    Abilipad - Developed by an occupational therapist, the app is a great way to develop handwriting skills as well as can function as a form of communication because of the text-to-speech feature. The app is essentially a keyboard app that can be customized to the user.

3.    See.Touch.Learn- An interactive learning tool designed specifically for children with autism or special needs. The app takes the initial idea behind picture flash cards and uses technology to enhance the benefits of this simple exercise. Users can create custom flashcards, but also comes with a vast starter set with high quality photos. Other sets are also available to purchase within the app.

4.    The Social Express - The online interactive program is used to help develop social skills with children. The app uses animation and high quality visual presentations to get children to be interactive in learning.

These are just some of the apps that are available to help special needs children develop their various skills and enhance learning. There are plenty of others for parents and children to practice with to find the right ones that work for their family.

Hilary Smith is a freelance journalist based out of Chicago. Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary attended St. Stephen's Episcopal School and Northwestern University's school of journalism. Upon graduation, she turned her love of technology into a freelance writing career. After becoming a mother, she began focusing on writing about family and parenting in the digital age.

Tags:  apps  special needs children 

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PAMP Holds Another Fun Day at the Farm!

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Updated: Friday, June 9, 2017

PAMP held another fantastic and fun day at Pastorino Farms in Half Moon Bay on June 3. In the second farm event of the year, Summer Fun Day at the Farm gave PAMP families and friends of PAMP families the opportunity to ride ponies, pet farm animals, go on a hayride bounce in the bouncy house and take a tour of the farm.

Hosted by Friendly Pony Parties, Summer Fun Day at the Farm provided all of the entertainment that has come to be expected from this popular PAMP event.

PAMP member Mariza Kim attended with her three and six year old. “The farm day was quiet and not too crowded,” she said. Although somewhat frustrated by a seemingly longer setup time than she had anticipated, she said her kids “enjoyed the baby animals and the ponies.”

Mom of four-year-old triples and PAMP member Melaine Hennessey attended the Fall Fun Day at the Farm event with her family last year and although her husband joked that the Halloween decorations still on display, they had a great time and plan to attend the next PAMP event at Pastorino Farms.

“My family loved the event,” she said. “I was surprised it wasn’t better attended … [My kids] loved the pony rides, the petting zoo, and the train. Really, everything! They also mentioned the hay ride.”

PAMP will hold another Fun Day at the Farm this fall, but if your kids need a petting zoo fix sooner, make sure to sign up for Family Day on July 30 at Mitchell Park. The event is free to all PAMP families.

Tags:  pamp events  summer fun at the farm 

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Study: Infant and Young Toddler Screen Time May Lead to Speech Delays

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017

We’ve all been there. It’s almost dinnertime and you’re standing in the kitchen, baby in tow, wondering what you’re going to make for dinner and how you’re going to handle watching your little while cooking. You’ve heard time and time again that screen time prior to age two is detrimental, but part of you wonders if it’s an over exaggeration. Could it really be that the hour or two you set your child in front of a YouTube channel or iPad each day to keep them entertained while you’re checking off chores is really that bad?

A new study being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting says yes. Conducted by Dr. Catherine Birken, a pediatrician at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the study found that the more time children between the ages of six months and two years spent using handheld screens the more likely they were to experience speech delays.

Nearly 900 children were studied to obtain the findings. Parents reported the amount of screen time their children had at 18 months. Researchers then used a validated infant toddler checklist to assess their language development while looking at whether or not the child used sounds or words to get attention, as well as how many words are in their vocabulary.

Parents reported that the average participant spent around 28 minutes using screens. Every 30-minute increment of daily screen time resulted in a 49 percent increased risk of speech delay. Interestingly, the study found no link between device use and a delay in body language, gestures and social interaction.

More research needs to be done but the findings backup the American Academy of Pediatrics claim that children under a year and a half should avoid televisions, tables and other screened devices. Read more at CNN.

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