Saturday, July 31, 2010

Turn Reading a Children's Book into a Lesson Plan

Review of Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

What's better than inspirng children's curiosity? One way to do that is to read a children's book to your charge then continue doing activities inspired by the book. Today, we hope our Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs will inspire child care providers to take reading books to children to the next level -- using lesson plans.

The activities we list after the book review below get increasingly more difficult for a child of any age or level.

One of the most popular children's book series is Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel. The many facets of friendship are explored in the five short stories within Frog and Toad Are Friends. Each story alternates the principle action that is taking place between the two characters.

The stories begin with Frog’s attempts to coax reluctant Toad out of bed to enjoy Spring. When Frog is sick in the Summer Toad engages in a series of entertaining actions to think of a story to make Frog feel better. Whether looking for a button, waiting for a letter, or taking a swim, Frog and Toad demonstrate to the reader a mutually caring friendship.

Frog and Toad Are Friends received a Caldecott Honor. (See below for fun activities to do after reading Frog and Toad Are Friends).

After reading the book share interesting facts about frogs and toads and focus on friendship with the children.

1. Select and Color a Frog:

While reading Frog and Toad Are Friends children will see pictures of different frogs. Let them select a favorite picture of a frog and print a copy for the child to color by clicking here. This web site is appropriate for children going into Kindergarten to third grade.

2. Make an Origami Frog:

Print out the directions on how to make an origami jumping frog by clicking here.

3. Write a Friendly Letter:

Read Frog's letter found on page 62. Just as Frog sent a letter to his friend Toad, have the child write a letter to their friend. Ask the child, "What makes a friend special?" Teach them how to write a letter.

4. Use Venn Diagrams to Describe Friends:

By third grade children will be using Venn Diagrams to help organize their thoughts before writing assignments in school. Venn Diagrams are useful for examining similarities and differences in characters and stories. This activity helps to organize similarities and differences visually. Draw a Venn Diagram, see how by clicking here.

Ask the child, "What is special about Frog and what is special about Toad?" Have the child write their ideas on a Venn Diagram comparing the similarities and differences of the two characters. Next, have the child draw a picture of a special friend and write what they like about the friend.

These ideas are inspired by the San Diego Office of Education and Linda Scott of CyberGuide

Friday, July 30, 2010

More Fun Summer Reading Learning for Nannies and Au Pairs

Make an Alphabet Book
You will need photos of the child and their family and friends, a photo album or scrap book, and some paper and markers.

In the scrapbook or photo album assign each page as a letter in the alphabet, and make sure the pages are in alphabetical order.

Then, have the child look through their photos to find pictures them doing an activity that starts with the same letter or a photo of something that starts with the letter of the page. Or, you set up photo shots together especially for this project. For example, for the letter "O" the child can include a picture of her visiting the ocean and a photo of an ostrich she saw at the zoo. For the letter "P" she might include a photo of herself playing piano and you can take a photo of her using a pen.

Story Smarts and Parts
Read children stories in which it is easy to tell what happens first, next, and last such as fairy tales like, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." At the end of the story ask the child what happens at the very beginning of the story. Then ask what happened next. Then ask what happened at the end of the story.

Story Sprint
Have the child read a story as if they are in a race. Set a time for one minute. Say, "start." Begin timing for one minute. At the end of the minute say, "Stop." and count the number of words read correctly. Help her with words she doesn't know. Have her read the same story again for one minute. Count the number of words correctly again. Compare the numbers of words to the number read in the first reading. Praise her for reading accurately and quickly.

Your Own Story Ending
An important part of reading and listening to stories is learning that they have endings. Read a story to the child that he does not already know. When you are close to the end of the story, stop reading. Ask the child how he would complete the story. Let your charge say the words to you as you write the ending. Then finish reading the story's ending and your charge's ending of the story are the same and different.

These fun reading activities come from 365 Reading Activities

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Counting and Number Activities for Nannies and Au Pairs to Do With Children

Illustrate a Counting Book
In this activity the child will combine counting with reading and writing. Read and compare a variety of counting books together. Discuss what goes into a good counting book. Are accurate illustrations important? Does a story make the counting book more interesting? Plan to make a counting book. You may choose to make a book that goes from one to 20 or a book that counts by 5's to 100. Then on each page of the new book, write the words and numerals. Invite the child to illustrate the book.

Number Riddles
Invite the children to make up number riddles and try to stump you. Begin by sharing examples of number riddles. For example:
What has four legs but never walks? (A chair)
What has four legs and barks? (A dog)
What has eight legs, two arms, three heads, and wings? (A man, riding a horse, carrying a canary)

These fun reading activities come from 365 Reading Activities

Do you have any fun counting games for nannies and au pairs to play with children?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alphabet Activity to do With Children

Eating the Alphabet

Children who are read to at home actually do better in reading at school. In addition, the child is exposed to new vocabulary words and how they sound. The child also gains familiarity with books and learns that print is read from left to right.

This activity may require a trip to the library but you may have a cookbook with foods from the alphabet already in the home library.

With this activity hopefully children will learn new words and try new foods while you create a menu for many meals to come. You will need to read an alphabet book with food items listed in it.

Read a food alphabet book together. Then read the book again but this time have the child point to and read the words. Next list all the foods illustrated and organize them from A to Z. Some letters will have more than one food, other letters will have none, but try to include all of them.

Now plan what foods to eat over the course of a week, with the intention of eating through the alphabet. Use the letters with several choices to provide a series of menus that are balanced and interesting. Write up a menu for each meal and have the child read the food words.

At the end of the week evaluate the process. Was it fun? Did the child learn some new words and try some new foods?

These fun reading activities come from 365 Reading Activities

Do you have any fun ways to encourage reading for children?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nap Nanny Baby Recliners Recalled After Reports of Suffocation, Entrapment, Falls

Nannies, Do You Use the Nap Nanny?

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission about 30,000 Nap Nannys were recalled.

Only the first generation Nap Nanny Infant recliners are included. Consumers will be given an $80 voucher towards the purchase of a newer Nap Nanny.

A 4-month-old baby died while using a Nap Nanny in a crib. The report also stated that about 22 infants has been hurt while using the Nap Nanny, these reports have been turned into the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for an investigation.

Consumers should always use the Nap Nanny® on the floor away from any other products.

Consumers with a first generation Nap Nanny® models, without "D"-rings, should stop using the recalled baby recliners immediately and contact the firm to receive an $80 coupon towards the purchase of a new Nap Nanny® with free shipping. Consumers with a second generation Nap Nanny® model, with "D"-rings, should immediately stop using the product until they are able to visit the firm's web site to obtain new product instructions and warnings. Consumers will also view an important instructional video to help consumers ensure the harness is properly fastened. Consumers who are unable to view the video or new instructions online, should contact the firm to receive free copies by mail. For more information, contact Baby Matters toll-free at (888) 240-4282 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at

See the full story here.

Summer Learning Activities for Nannies and Au Pairs

Playing Matching Activities to Help Children Read

Matching games help children develop good memory skills needed to read. Below are some fun matching games to encourage memory skills in young children.

A, B, See it!
Write a letter of the alphabet on the top of a piece of paper in a notebook. Give the notebook to the child and have him name the letter and say the sound for the letter. Next take the child on a letter walk, inside and outside, if possible. Instruct the child to look for words that begin with the letter on the paper. then have the child copy the words into the notebook.

Bag It!
This game helps children learn vowel sounds. You will need five paper bags with handles and small household items. Write one vowel -- a, e, i, o, and u -- on one bag. Find a small household item with a vowel sound in it's name and place it inside a corresponding bag. Then place the bag on the back of a child's chair. Invite the child to find another item with the same vowel sound and place it in the corresponding bag. Now it's your turn to find an item with a different vowel sound and place it inside the corresponding bag. Continue take turns placing items int he bags until all the vowels sounds have been used.

Shoe Sole Sight Words
Gather several pairs of shoes, marker and heavy paper. Trace shoes onto the paper and cut out the paper into shapes of the soles of the shoes. On pairs of pre-cut paper soles, write sight words, such as do, my, and like -- the same word on each half of the pair. Place one "sole" of each word inside one shoe from each pair so the card is standing on end and the sight word is clearly visible. Set out the remaining soles and invite the child to place them in the empty shoe that matches the one with the same sight word.

The Match Game
Write at least ten different words on separate index cards that the child should know. You might want to pull out their spelling words from school last year. Write the same words on other index cards. Turn the cards over so you cannot read the words. Give the child five cards and yourself five cards. Pick up the first card in your pile, leaving the rest in a pile. Turn the card over to see if you have two words that are the same. If so, say the word and put them down as a pair. If neither of you has a pair, draw a card from the pile. Take turns until one player has gotten rid of all their cards.

These fun reading activities come from 365 Reading Activities

Do you have any other matching games to share with other nannies and au pairs to play with children?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Having Fun with the School's Summer Reading List

Summer Reading

Reading to your charges is important. It gives you time to bond. It tells the children that reading is important. It lets you share your knowledge and ideas with children. Reading calms children down when transitioning to nap time or bedtime.

If you care for children attending school this Autumn we hope you have a copy of the school's summer reading list and have borrowed books from the library to read to the kids. If not, why not stop by the local library this week and get reading with your charges?

Here are some ways to have fun with the children when reading with them:

Use Funny Voices:
We often change our voices when speaking for a character in a book. For example, we might raise our voice into a high pitch tone for a princess, yet a deep voice for a villain. As you read a story to a child remember to use your voice to draw attention to a special or new word too. You can say the word in a funny way, sing it, say it loud or soft, and even make funny faces. Introduce the kids to real sounds by saying, "Woof" when pointing to a dog.

Sound Clapping:
When you say a word clap for the main sound parts in the word. For example, "The first word is Baby. I'll clap and say the word again. Ba-by" Clap two times and say it again. Take the child's name and clap it out. For example, Maria is three claps, ice cream is two claps, banana is three claps, and so on,

Stories Come to Life:
Creating and acting out a story make it come to life. Select a story that the child knows. Tell her that you will read the story out loud. As you read, find one word such as "HOPPED" and say it in a louder voice. Ask the child to act out the loud word when she hears it by hopping. You may choose another word in the story to say loudly. If you read, "the LEAF fell to the ground," the child will fall to the ground like the leaf.

Guess the Rhyme:
Children love to guess words that rhyme. Read and entire nursery rhyme to your charge. Now reread the nursery rhyme leaving out the last word of every other line of the rhyme. Le the child fill in the last word. For example, "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great ______." Keep doing this with other nursery rhymes.

Ask a Question:
Read a page of a book to a child, then stop and ask a question. For example, "How do you think the little train felt in this story?" "What do you think the silly monkey will do next?" Encourage the child to talk and relate what you have read to the child's own life. "How are you like the little train?" "Have you ever done anything like what the silly monkey did?"

These fun reading activities come from 365 Reading Activities

Do you make time to read daily to your charges? What fun reading activities do you do with children?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Have You Ever Been Mistaken As Your Charge's Mother?

Mother Mistaken for the Nanny of Her Mixed-Race Daughter by Colleen Egan

We posted this link to parentdish web site on our Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Facebook Page and asked if nannies have ever been mistaken as their charge's mother and got some cute responses. So, we want to know if our blog readers have ever been mistaken as their charge's mothers?

The article describes how Indian-American writer Nandini D'Souza's daughter has her Irish-German husband's fair skin and hair. She finds many people think she is her daughter's nanny.

Click here to see the rest of the story.

Don't forget to visit our Facebook Page see more stories of nannies being mistaken as their charge's mother.

Nannies and au pairs, do you have a funny story about being mistaken as a child's mother?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Your Backyard Herb Garden by Miranda Smith

This week we discussed the dangers of pesticides and the need to use bug spray and how to use insect repellent safely.

Here is another option. You can make insect repellent out of herbs. Herbal insect repellents work. They can help keep flies away from the dinner table, fleas off pets, ants out of the kitchen, moths from eating woolens, and mosquitoes away from your skin.

Insect-Repellent Skin Lotion

Make an herbal oil using pennyroyal, rosemary, and tansy with a light vegetable oil such as soybean or safflower. The strong fragrance of the herbs it the key to deterring insects. Finish off the lotion by adding at least a teaspoon of purchased essential oil of citronella. Label the lotion and store in a dark, cool location. Rub the lotion on your skin when you venture into insect-infested territory. You can rub it on your clothing or onto a bandanna too. Just don't put the lotion on good clothes since the oil will leave a stain.

This book includes everything you need to know about growing your favorite herbs using safe, natural, all-organic methods. Included are practical tips and advice on all aspects of successful herb growing. A wealth of great ideas and helpful how-to on using herbs in cooking, crafts, cosmetics, health care, insect repellents, and more. Illustrated herb directory featuring all the most popular herbs-- from aloe to yarrow-- each with complete information on growing, care, harvesting, and uses.

Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Using Bug Spray for Nannies and Au Pairs

Yesterday we discussed the link between pesticides and ADHD. Despite the dangers of pesticides, there are also plenty of dangers caused by being bitten by bugs. We summarize an article by CBS News on proper use of bug spray below.

The Centers for Disease Control warns about the dangers of the West Nile virus, which is spread through mosquito bites. And of course Lyme disease is caused by the deer tick.

The Centers for Disease Control advise using a repellent that contains the pesticide DEET.

Properly applying insect repellent:
  • Cover All Exposed Areas
  • Avoid Cuts, Wounds and Rashes
  • Don't Spray Directly On Face
  • Wash Hands

Never spray bug repellent directly on your face. First spray it onto your hands and then gently rub it over the entire face, including the ears and neck. And don't forget to wash your hands when you're done applying. You don't want to ingest any DEET.

Children and Bug Spray

The best concentration to use on children is 10 percent DEET. Never apply higher doses than 10 percent DEET on children.

Here are tips on applying repellent on children:

  • Never Apply Bug Repellent on Children Under 2- Months of Age
  • Never Allow Child To Apply Bug Repellent
  • Do not apply repellent to children's hands. (Children may tend to put their hands in their mouths.)
  • Also Avoid Mouth and Eyes
  • Don't Apply Under Clothing

If the repellent does get on the clothing, make sure it's washed before the child wears the article of clothing again.

To see entire article please click here.

Tomorrow: How to Make Herbal Bug Repellent

Thursday, July 22, 2010

If it Kills Bugs Why Wouldn't it Hurt Kids?

Pesticides Linked to ADHD in Kids

We have been discussing how diet and artificial dyes and chemicals in personal care products can effect hyperactivity in children. This article posted by ABC News on MedPage shows the link between pesticides and ADHD.

By Todd Neale, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: May 17, 2010

Children with greater exposure to pesticides appear to have an increased risk of developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a cross-sectional study showed.

These findings support the idea that pesticide, at levels common among U.S. children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence.

The population is typically exposed to pesticides through food, drinking water, and residential use. Major sources of exposure for children and infants is through the diet, as some fruits and vegetables have been shown to have pesticide residue.

The potential harm from pesticide exposure is greater in children because the developing brain is more vulnerable, and doses per body weight are likely to be higher than in adults.

Click here to see entire article.
Don't forget to buy organic when possible. Reference the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides by clicking here.
Do you buy organic for children?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Avoiding Artificial Dyes and Preservatives in Personal Care Products

Beyond Food

On Monday we started discussing how to determine if synthetic food coloring is effecting a child's hyperactive behavior in Laura Stevens article The Role of Food Coloring in Improving Symptoms of Hyperactive Kids from the December/January 2008 issue of ADDitude Magazine.

Yesterday she described how to substitute food high in artificial dyes and preservatives. Today, she explains that dyes and preservatives found in personal care products can be swallowed by young children as well.

Dyes and preservatives can also be found in personal care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes, some of which may be swallowed by young children.

Again, read the labels carefully before buying them. Crest toothpaste, for instance, contains blue dye; Colgate’s Original is free of it. Clear, natural mouthwashes are a good substitute for those brightly colored varieties.

Most pediatric medicines are also artificially colored and flavored. Ask the child's pediatrician if there is an additive-free substitute that would work just as well.

For over-the-counter medicines, choose Motrin or Tylenol, which come in dye-free white tablets. Be sure to adjust the dosage for the child’s age. The liquid form of the over-the-counter antihistamine Benadryl is artificially colored with red dye, but the medication also comes in clear liquid capsules.

Avoiding foods and products with artificial colors and preservatives have a big benefit: It will raise the nutritional value of the entire family’s diet, since the "junkiest" foods on supermarket shelves tend to be — you guessed it — most heavily colored and flavored.

Be sure to check out Laura Steven's book Twelve Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child: Drug-Free Alternatives for Attention-Deficit Disorders.

Are any of the children you care for sensitive to artificial dyes, colorings, or preservatives?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How to Avoid Artificial Dyes

Artificial dyes in foods can cause hyperactivity in a child with attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD). Here are healthy substitutes.

Today we continue a portion of the article by Laura Stevens from the January/February 2008 issue of ADDitude Magazine.

Here are some helpful tips about what foods to avoid and what to serve in their place:

* Substitute 100 percent fruit juice for soft drinks, fruit drinks, and fruit punches — all of which are typically artificially colored and flavored. If the child must have a soft drink, try 7-Up, Squirt, or Sprite. These brands are naturally flavored and free of dyes—though they all contain sodium benzoate. Even better, buy natural sodas or fruit spritzers sold at health food stores.

* If you have time to bake, make muffins, cakes, and cookies from scratch. Cake mixes contain red and yellow coloring. Use pure extracts instead of artificial vanilla (called vanillin), almond, peppermint, lemon, orange, and coconut flavors. Bonus: Pure extracts taste better, although they are more expensive. No time to bake? Try Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies, which are free of dyes and low in sugar.

* As you would expect, the more colorful the cereal, the more food dyes it contains. Cap’n Crunch, Trix, Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, and Apple Jacks are full of food coloring. Look for breakfast cereals that are free of dyes — like Cheerios, which doesn’t contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

* If the kids love barbecue sauce, or if you use it to spice up everyday dishes, read the label before buying a bottle. Many brands are loaded with Red #40. Hunt’s Original, however, is free of food coloring. Does your child enjoy Popsicles? Buy Welch’s Fruit Juice Bars, one of the few brands without dyes or preservatives.

* Avoid Jell-O and other gelatin mixes are loaded with artificial coloring and flavors. Make your own gelatin salad or desserts by dissolving plain gelatin in 100 percent fruit juice for a pretty, and nutritious, dessert.

Click here to see the entire article.

Tomorrow: Effects of dyes and preservatives in personal care products.

Have you ever cared for a child that was sensitive to food additives? What foods or chemicals created the sensitivity?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Does Diet Effect ADHD?

How to Determine if Additives are Causing ADHD.

The Role of Food Coloring in Improving Symptoms of Hyperactive Kids by ADDitude Magazine

Last week we discussed that studies have shown a link between artificial food dyes and allergic reactions, hyperactivity, and even cancer.

We posted the link to the "Smart Guide To Food Dyes: Buying foods that can help learning" by David Wallinga, M.D., Director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Health Program with things you can do to reduce the exposure to food dyes.

Then we reviewed The Feingold Cookbook for Hyperactive Children which helps eliminate synthetic additives including artificial colors.

Today we reference an article from a great magazine ADDitiude Living Well with Attention Deficit. The advice is from Laura Stevens from the December/January 2008 issue of ADDitude and can now be found on the ADDitude website. The author, Laura Stevens, is a food and nutrition researcher at Purdue University and author of Twelve Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child: Drug-Free Alternatives for Attention-Deficit Disorders.

Below is an edited summary of how to determine if chemical food dyes effect a child.

How do you know if food additives are compromising a child’s focus? Conduct a quick test at home.

1. For one week, avoid foods and drinks that list on their labels U.S. certified color Red #40, Blue #2, Yellow #5 (Tartrazine), Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow), as well as sodium benzoate.

2. Then ask: Does the child seem less fidgety?

3. After seven days, reintroduce food additives into his diet by squeezing a few drops of artificial food coloring — you know, the McCormick brand in the little plastic bottles — into a glass of water, and have the child drink it.

4. Observe his behavior for two or three hours. If you don’t see a change, have him drink a second glass. Does he become more hyperactive?

5. If so, wean the child off foods that are artificially dyed or flavored, or that contain sodium benzoate.

Click here to see the entire article.

Tomorrow: How to Wean Kids Off Foods with Artificial Dyes and Flavors

Do you think diet effects a child you care for with ADHD?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What's Your Vote?

Should the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Blog Continue to Allow Anonymous Comments?

to Allow Anonymous Comments
"No" to No Longer Allow Anonymous Comments

To reduce the risk of "flaming" from anonymous visitors, readers of the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter blog have asked that commenters be required to register. Registration would not require any private contact information be revealed.

Registration would require the commenter to have one of the following:

1. Google account, (gmail address or easy to make with any current email address and password),
2. WordPress account (http://(username),
3. LiveJournal account (http://(username),
4. TypePad account(, or
5. AIM or AOL account ( name).

Should we require commenters to register?
"Yes" to allow anonymous postings or
"No" to not allow anonymous postings.

Comment below or email with your vote!

Weekly Trip to the Library

Review of The Feingold Cookbook for Hyperactive Children

On Thursday and Friday we discussed the "Smart Guide To Food Dyes: Buying foods that can help learning" by David Wallinga, M.D., Director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Health Program with things you can do to reduce the exposure to food dyes.

To help reduce children's exposure to food dyes for this week's Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs we will review The Feingold Cookbook. Although the Feingold Diet is cherished by many there is also is no shortage of reviews calling the Feingold Diet quackery.

The Feingold Diet is a food elimination program developed by Ben F. Feingold, MD to treat hyperactivity. Dr. Feingold was a pediatrician and allergist, and was considered a pioneer in the fields of allergy and immunology.

The Feingold Program eliminates three groups of synthetic food additives and one class of synthetic sweeteners:

1. Synthetic colors (FD&C and D&C colors)
2. Synthetic flavors (several thousand different chemicals)
3. Synthetic preservatives (BHA, BHT, and TBHQ)
4. Artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Neotame, and Alitame)

In the first phase of the diet, all offending foods are eliminated. In the second phase, substances are re-introduced item by item to detect those substances that cannot be tolerated by the body.

In the first phase, the diet recommends the complete elimination of Salicylates from food. Salicylates are food additives, but they also occur naturally in foods like oranges, peaches, plums, tangerines, prunes, coffee, cloves, grapes, apples, tomatoes, tea and berries. So, these foods too are avoided.

In the second phase, those Salicylates that may be tolerated by the body are identified by reintroducing foods one by one.

There has been much debate about the program. Some medical practitioners deny that it is of any value, while other medical practitioners, as well as many people living with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD, claim that it is effective in the management of ADHD as well as a number of other behavioral, physical, and neurological conditions including salicylate sensitivity. The debate has continued for more than 30-years, involving not only consumers and physicians, but scientists, politicians, and the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Many studies show that 70% or more of hyperactive children respond positively to the removal of synthetic additives, especially when salicylates or allergens are removed. There is controversy, however, over what happens when researchers take children whose behavior has improved on a diet that eliminates several thousand additives, and then challenge them with one or a few additives, usually synthetic colors.

As well as The Feingold Cookbook, Dr. Feingold wrote a book directed to parents, entitled Why Your Child is Hyperactive.

As parents began using this diet for their children, many saw dramatic success and formed grass roots support groups. When they gathered in 1976 to form a non-profit national organization, they chose the name "Feingold Association" to honor Dr. Feingold. Today the Feingold Association of the United States provides member support services. Recently, some support has been added for Canadian members, and there is some information on the website suitable for people in other countries, as well.

The Feingold Association provides information and support for those starting the Program. Members can purchase comprehensive materials including a book listing thousands of brand name foods that have been researched by the Association and are free of the eliminated additives. Newsletters, updates, and phone and email support are also provided. Acceptable products — food, toiletries, cleaning supplies — are included in the Foodlist and Shopping Guide, the Mail Order Guide, the Supplements Guide, and the Fast Food Guide.

A good introduction to the Feingold Program, as well as 400 pages of compiled wisdom from over 30-years of working with families using the diet, is provided by the book Why Can't My Child Behave?


Friday, July 16, 2010

Smart Guide To Food Dyes

Things You Can Do to Reduce Exposure to Food Dyes

Yesterday we discussed that there are many studies showing the dangers of food dyes. They have been linked to allergies, ADHD, and cancer.

Today we reference the "Smart Guide To Food Dyes: Buying foods that can help learning" by David Wallinga, M.D., Director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Health Program with things you can do to reduce the exposure to food dyes.

Things you can do:

• Eat whole foods (fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and protein/dairy). Whole foods are better for you, and allow you to avoid the inspection of food labels necessary to avoid toxic food dyes.

• At home or at restaurants, avoid foods with synthetic food dyes, especially if a child suffers from hyperactivity, ADHD, or other learning or developmental disabilities.

• Garden with kids, visit a farm or join a CSA to help teach your children how ripe whole foods should actually look, smell and taste.

• Call on the FDA to grant CSPI’s petition to eliminate synthetic dyes from our children’s food supply. Ask elected officials to do the same.

• Ask children's teachers, principals, and school board members to allow only “brain foods” in schools (including vending machines) foods free of synthetic dyes impacting children’s ability to learn and be healthy.

• File a report to be sent to the FDA if you think your child has been affected by food dyes. See http://

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks

Food Dyes Linked to Allergies, ADHD and Cancer: Group Calls on U.S. to Outlaw Their Use

I can't even tell you how much food dye I have been serving to children. I have added blue food coloring it to encourage a finicky eater to drink her milk. I mix it into holiday cookies, cakes, and icings. But, now I see there are dozens of articles online of studies showing the link of food dyes to allergies and hyperactivity in children and even cancer. Below is a report from CBS News on the topic.

(CBS) Food dyes may make food look tastier, but a prominent watchdog group says they pose major health risks and is calling for the government to ban them.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says the dyes - used in a commercially prepared foods ranging from candy to breakfast cereals and salad dressing - present a "rainbow of risks" and can cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity, and even cancer.

"These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behavior problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody," Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit group, said in a written statement. "The Food and Drug Administration should ban dyes, which would force industry to color foods with real food ingredients, not toxic petrochemicals."

Jacobson is co-author of a new report entitled, "Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks."

The group says the three most widely used dyes - Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 - are contaminated with cancer-causing substances. Another dye, Red 3, has been identified as a carcinogen by the FDA but is still in commercial use.

Other dyes have been linked to allergic reactions, the group says, and studies show that dyes can cause hyperactivity in children.

Despite those concerns, manufacturers put about 15 million pounds of eight synthetic dyes into our foods each year, according to the group. Per capita consumption of dyes has risen five-fold since 1955, thanks in part to the proliferation of brightly colored cereals, fruit drinks, and candies pitched to children.

The continued use of food dyes presents "unnecessary risks to humans, especially young children," James Huff, associate director for chemical carcinogenesis at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' National Toxicology Program, said in a statement. "It's disappointing that the FDA has not addressed the toxic threat posed by food dyes."

Other governments have already taken action against food dyes, according to the group. The British government asked companies to phase out most dyes by last December 31, and the European Union will require a warning notice on most dyed foods starting on July 20.

The group predicted that the label notice might be the "death knell" for dyes across Europe.

If the CSPI has its way, the dyes will die here too. Click here to read the full report.

Tomorrow: How to Serve Dye-Free Foods

Nannies, will you show the parents you work for this report? Will you try to limit the amount of foods you serve to children with food dyes?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Challenges of Using Nanny Personality and Risk Assessments

Personality and Risk Assessments Do Not Replace Interviews, Background Checks, and Intuition
By Yossi Pinkas, TakeCare

We have been discussing the benefits of using a nanny personality and risk assessments in helping parents hire in-home childcare providers. But, while administering nanny personality assessments can significantly improve the selection of a nanny by parents, it may also create certain challenges.

Some parents are concerned that the use of such a test may offend an applicant and create a bad impression. While this may be true and certain applicants may even refuse to take such tests, parents should always keep in mind that such tests are a standard procedure for applicants in many business and government organizations, as well as part of the screening process in a number of nanny and au pair agencies.

There is really no good reason why parents recruiting a nanny on their own, will not benefit from the use of such assessments. There is no other position as important and as critical as that of a child caregiver. Parents shouldn’t compromise on the screening process and use all possible means to make the best-informed decision.
To minimize objections, parents should explain to the nanny about the test, why they feel it is important, and ask her to put herself in their place, facing a similar decision about her own kids.

Another challenge is for parents to avoid using the test results as a single decision factor. Parents should keep in mind that nanny personality and risk assessments do not replace interviews or any other component of the existing caregiver screening process. As any other psychological tool, they are not 100% accurate and should be considered a decision supporting tool and not a decision making tool. When hiring a nanny, parents should always interview applicants, check references, and use their intuition, which is as important and useful as any scientific tool.

Nanny personality and risk assessments should be used correctly to ensure test results are valid. The applicant must read fluently the language in which the test is administered. Applicants who are not fluent in the test language should not be tested.

Tests are also designed for a specific purpose. For example, a test designed to assess applicants for a job should not be used for self-test purposes, such as by someone who wishes to check if he is suitable for a certain position or occupation.

Designed and used correctly, nanny personality and risk assessments are invaluable for parents who are looking for a nanny for their child, and should become a standard component of the screening process of any childcare provider.

To find out more about nanny personality assessment tests visit TakeCare.
For nannies that are apprehensive about taking personality assessments, would you not take a personality assessment even if a potential nanny employer or nanny placement agency asked you to during a job interview?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More on Taking Personality Assessments for Nanny Candidates

Benefits of Nanny Personality and Risk Assessments

Wow, this blog and our Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Facebook page were alive with comments yesterday. Today, Yossi Pinkas explains more benefits of using personality assessments to help hire a nanny. Tomorrow, he will address some of the challenges of using personality tests when interviewing in-home child care providers.

Another Way to Help Find the Right Nanny and Find the Right Nanny Job

By Yossi Pinkas, TakeCare,

Nanny personality and risk assessments are psychological tests that help parents assess potential childcare providers. The tests provide a better insight into the caregiver’s personality and traits, as well as an assessment of possible risk factors, and allow parents to select the best possible nanny.

Similar tests are used by corporate and government organizations worldwide (including some 80% of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 75% of the U.K. Times 100 companies) as well as by some nanny, babysitter, and au pair agencies, and childcare organizations. As a matter of fact, such tests are mandated by the U.S. government for all au pair agencies.

Why are such tests needed? Aren’t interviews and checking references sufficient to select a nanny? Most recruitment specialists agree that the validity of interviews is quite low, even when conducted by trained professionals. Most parents are not trained interviewers and are usually lacking the necessary experience to properly formulate interview questions, read between the lines of what the applicant says, interpret non-verbal signs and body language, and so on.

A nanny personality and risk assessment test can be considered as a very detailed and structured interview that overcomes some of the parents’ face-to-face interview limitations. The test includes several hundred questions, covering all relevant issues, including questions which parents may feel uncomfortable to ask in a face-to-face interview.

Personal traits covered may include responsibility, obedience and discipline, self control, emotional stability, coping with pressure, positive attitude, and service awareness.

Risk assessment issues should include violent behavior, drug abuse, drinking problems, truthful reporting, respect to property, and more.

In a similar manner to an ordinary interview, online interactive tests of this sort allow different questions to be asked according to prior responses, as well as provide real-time feedback to the applicant triggered by specific answers that are considered problematic.

Yet, the main benefit of the nanny personality and risk assessment test is in the accuracy of the information provided. A properly constructed and administered test includes various mechanisms which are aimed at identifying misleading and inaccurate responses; the large number of questions (some repeating themselves in different versions), the way those questions are structured (which may sometimes seem peculiar), the time constraints and some additional mechanisms (which won’t be detailed in this article for obvious reasons).

To find out more about nanny personality assessment tests visit TakeCare.
Tomorrow: The Challenges of Using Nanny Personality and Risk Assessments

What are your thoughts on taking personality assessments when interviewing for a nanny position?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Selecting a Nanny or Au Pair – What Are We Missing?

Nanny Personality Assessments Can Help Parents Choose a Better Nanny, Au Pair, or Babysitter

By Yossi Pinkas, TakeCare,

Selecting a caregiver for children is a difficult task for parents and the risk of making a wrong choice is frightening. Most articles on the topic of hiring a nanny advise parents to interview the nannies, check their references, and perform a background screening. While each of those screening tools is important, they all have their limitations and do not necessarily provide sufficient information to make the best possible choice.

The purpose of an interview is to obtain enough knowledge about the nanny candidate to determine whether he or she is suitable for the job. Yet, interviews often fail to reveal important facts or problematic personality traits, and their predictive value is limited, even when conducted by several properly trained interviewers.

Reference checks are an important component of the screening process, since past performance is usually a good indicator of future performance. Nevertheless, such references are highly subjective and in some cases past employers may even prefer, for various reasons, to omit certain details which may harm the candidate in his search for a new position.

Background screening is often used to verify facts about the job candidate. Such checks may include identity verification, criminal records search, credit checks, past employment and education verification, driving abstracts and more. It is important to bear in mind that accuracy of the various databases searched may be limited for various reasons. More than that, having, for example, a clean criminal record means a person has never been convicted of such activity but does not necessarily indicate that a person has never been involved in criminal activity or has a tendency to do so.

Performing nanny personality assessments can significantly improve the selection process and minimize the risk of a wrong choice. Personality assessments are psychological tests that analyze a person’s character and personal traits. The optimal personality assessment for nannies, au pairs, and babysitters should combine both testing for relevant personal traits and risk assessment, with a strong focus on the later. Relevant personal traits may include responsibility, obedience and discipline, self control, emotional stability, coping with pressure, positive attitude, and service awareness. Risk assessment should cover issues such as violent behavior, drug abuse, drinking problems, truthful reporting, respect to property, and more.

Nowadays, nanny personality assessments are becoming available online to all parents. Making such tests easily accessible, as well as designing them to be easy to use and understand by non-professionals, allows more and more parents to incorporate personality assessments into their own nanny selection process.

Nanny personality assessments do not replace interviews, reference checking, or background screening. Making personality assessments an integral part of any nanny, au pair, or babysitter selection process, in addition to the existing selection tools, will allow parents to make the best and most informed hiring decision, ensuring their kids are in good hands.

To find out more about nanny personality assessment tests visit TakeCare.

Tomorrow: The Benefits of Personality Assessment Tests
Wednesday: Challenges of Using Personality Assessment Tests

Have you ever taken a personality assessment test while interviewing for a nanny job?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Perfect Summer Read for Nannies and Au Pairs

Book Review of What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
Weekly Trip to the Library

What the Dog Saw is a collection of stories reported by The New Yorker journalist Malcolm Gladwell.

The author specializes in taking ordinary or overlooked subjects and writing about them in entertaining and insightful ways. The nineteen chapters range from the simple, such as ketchup, to the complex, such as birth control pills.

A few chapters specifically deal with child development, intellectual growth, and human behavior.

The story most interesting for nannies is the chapter also titled "What the Dog Saw." Here, Gladwell tells the story of Cesar Millan, "The Dog Whisperer." Gladwell imagines looking through the eyes of the dogs Millan trains and explains why Cesar is so successful in modifying the behavior of the pets and of the owners. Millan's philosophy is that the dog's master must be a calm and balanced leader of the pack. A nanny might follow the same advice with her charges and her own children and thereby be an admirable role model.

This book is an ideal summer read: each chapter is captivating, self-contained, simple, yet profound. If you enjoy good storytelling from a different perspective, you will enjoy this book.

Do you have a book review for nannies or au pairs? Send your ideas to Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Celebrity that Respects Her Nanny!

Brook Burke Speaks to NY Daily News

By Moms and the City

In a NY Daily News interview, by "Moms and the City," Brook Burke is interviewed about hiring a nanny.

Brook Burke is quoted as saying, "I’ve been committed to consistency. I never like a lot of change for the children. But at the same time you’re so blessed to have people with you who are consistent and help you manage your life and raise your children. I’ve had someone with my older daughters who I’ve had for 10 years which is amazing."

When asked, "How would you describe your relationship with your nanny?"

Brook Burke answered, "This is someone really integrated into your family so it’s an extremely intimate relationship. Really know that they are there to make your life and your family’s life easier. I’ve found the most successful relationship is a professional one. If you really define what’s expected of someone you are setting them up to succeed. As a younger mom I probably wasn’t as detailed in regards to what I needed and what I expected. Like any employee relationship you need to teach them what you want and give them a chance to do it well and to set them up to succeed. I think there is a loving factor when it comes to children and that is very important that the person you employ will agree with your family style."

And when asked what qualities she looks for in a nanny she said, "Discipline, organization, compassion, experience. I think referrals are huge - and loyalty. You have to take into account your own personality traits and make sure they are really gonna blend. There is nothing worse then someone working in your home who is rubbing you the wrong way. And also confidentiality. I also have someone sign a confidentiality agreement because it’s very personal. You don’t want nannies talking to other nannies on your block and in the neighborhood because they really know your business. Industry or not industry if you’re in a community the nannies could start a pow wow and you definitely don’t want everybody to start discussing your business. You want people to respect the privacy of your own home, right?"

To read the entire interview visit the Moms and the City blog at the NY Daily News by clicking here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Do You Get Paid Sick Days?

How Would the New NY Nanny Law Effect You?

We have been discussing why those who support the Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights are so excited that NY Governor David Paterson is expected to sign the bill into law.

This new "Nanny Law" gives domestic workers up to seven paid sick days for full-time workers, and four paid sick days and for part-time workers. I want to know from nannies if they already get paid sick days?

But, I also want to know if this bill allows domestic workers personal leave. Since I have not seen that the new NY Nanny Law ensures nannies personal leave I assume it does not. If you know if the bill covers personal leave please let us know in comments below.

Typically domestics don't qualify for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which requires employers to provide unpaid, job guaranteed leave to heal from serious health conditions. But, low wage working women need paid time off from work for a wide variety of reasons that may or may not include caring for a sick child, or parent.

Have you ever had to take a personal leave from your nanny job? If you had to take a personal leave of absence, did the family keep the job for you or did you have to find another nanny job?

Have you ever been sick and not paid for the missed days of work?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Would the NY Nanny Law Help You? What are Your Termination Rights?

Have You Been Let-Go Without 14-Days Notice?

Last week the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights was passed in NY and is awaiting NY Governor Paterson to sign it into law.

The legislation requires that domestic employees receive a 14-day termination notice. If the employer fails to give adequate termination notice, the employee can receive back pay and the value or cost of any benefits that employee would have received.

Do you already have at least 14-day termination notice in your work agreement? Have you ever been fired without at least two-weeks notice or severance? Have you ever walked out on a job not giving the parents at least two-weeks notice?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nannies: Do You Get Overtime Pay?

Would the NY Nanny Law Help You (if you worked in NY)?

For the past two weeks we have been discussing how New York State Legislature passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, making New York the first state in the nation to provide new standards of worker protections for more than 200,000 employees in an industry which has gone unregulated for decades.

We want to see if nannies across the nation are already have the rights spelled out in this law. Yesterday we asked if nannies have paid holidays. Today we wonder if you receive overtime pay?

Legislators and New York Governor, David Paterson, have reached a reconciliation deal that will give nannies overtime pay. The legislation sets a 40-hour work week for standard live-out domestic workers and a 45-hour week for live-in employees, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The proposed bill would also require at least one day off for such workers and any work beyond the weekly limits must be compensated with overtime pay, which is time-and-a-half. The bill also requires employers to give nannies three paid off-days each year.

Do you already receive overtime (time-and-a-half) pay?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Today Should Be a Paid Holiday!

Nannies, Is Today a Paid Holiday for You? What Paid Holidays Do You Get Off?

We have been posting articles about the new "New York Nanny Law." Click here to see the article stating that Gov. Paterson will be pleased to sign the bill. Click here to see comments from the article entitled "Wake-Up Call for Working Parents." Click here to view comments by other nannies on my opinion that the new legislation is not enforceable unless a complaint is made, yet is a step in the right direction.

The New York State Legislature passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, making New York the first state in the nation to provide new standards of worker protections for more than 200,000 employees in an industry which has gone unregulated for decades.

Legislators and Governor David Paterson have reached a reconciliation deal that will give nannies six paid holidays including Independence Day. Since this is the Monday after July 4th, today is considered a paid holiday.

Do you already have today off as a paid holiday? What days do you get as paid holidays?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Children's Books for the 4th of July

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Below are some great children's books for nannies and au pairs to borrow from the library for their charges. Also check out our July 4th children's book suggestions from last hear. Just click here to see last year's Independence Day children's books.

Apple Pie 4th of July
By Janet S. Wong

A Chinese-American girl helps her parents open their small neighborhood grocery store every day of the year. However, today is the Fourth of July and her parents just don't understand that customers won't be ordering chow mein and sweet-and-sour pork on this very American holiday. As she spends the day working in the store and watching the local parade, she can't shake her anxiety about her parents' naivity. When evening arrives along with hungry customers looking "for some Chinese food to go," she is surprised but obviously proud that her parents were right after all: Americans do eat Chinese food on the Fourth of July. Nighttime finds the family atop their roof enjoying fireworks and sharing a neighbor's apple pie.

Hooray for the 4th of July
By Wendy Watson

Author and illustrator Wendy Watson celebrates Independence Day in America with this cheerful book for preschoolers and early readers. Tracking a family through their summer holiday, Watson begins, "Crack! Pop! Snap! Wake up, everybody--today is the Fourth of July. It's America's birthday!" The next pages proclaim, "Everything is red, white, and blue, even breakfast," and the lively illustration's accompanying verse reads, "Strawberry, blueberry, cream of tartum, tell me the initials of your sweetheartum!" Young children will enjoy the silly, often quirky traditional poems and songs, as well as the colorful, cartoonish depictions of a small-town family's Fourth of July romp.

The Case of the July 4th Jinx
By Lewis B. Montgomery

It's the Fourth of July fair! There are fireworks, parades, pies, games . . . and a jinx? When everything starts going wrong, Milo and Jazz must find out: is it really a jinx--or is it sabotage?

I'm Going to Read Hooray for the 4th of July
By Rick Brown

Whoopee—it’s a 4th of July parade! Kids will happily join the celebration as marching feet keep the beat, big brass bands pass the stands, and decorated floats roll along. Rick Brown’s art makes everything look grand, from the fife and drum players to the flags flying high.

For more children's books about independence day click here.
Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Friday, July 2, 2010

NY Nanny Law: Gov Paterson Says He'll "Be Pleased to Sign it into Law."

This post was written by CBS News Investigates intern Brian Mastroianni.

Deloris Wright worked for eight years as a nanny for a family in New York City. Earlier this year she was fired when she refused to work a nearly 60-hour week with no overtime.

"I was so humiliated," said Wright. "When I spoke to him about overtime, he dismissively waved his hand in my face and said, 'Don't even go there.'"

On Thursday, New York lawmakers gave final legislative approval to a bill making the nation's first domestic worker labor protection law to help domestic workers like Wright.

Gov. David Paterson said in a statement that he "will be pleased to sign it into law."

The Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights bill creates guidelines for employers of housekeepers, nannies and other workers in an industry that is unregulated and without clearly defined work benefits.

The bill includes standardized work weeks, one day off each week, three paid days off each year and overtime pay, said Bryan Clenahan, an Albany County legislator.

Groups in California and Colorado are now eyeing similar legislation.

"New York has a history of blazing the trail for labor rights," said Clenahan. "We are reclaiming the heritage for New York worker protection."

The New York bill is an attempt to "reverse 75 years of discrimination against this work force" said Priscilla Gonzalez, director of Domestic Workers United, a New York-based advocacy group.
Gonzalez said it is an industry where most of the work takes place behind the closed doors of employers' personal homes, making it easy for the mostly immigrant and female workforce to be exploited.

Wright, a nanny for 22 years, said the legislation is a step in the right direction.

"When you are doing something for these people and then see a smile on their face, we are honored to do that work," she said. "For many of us, there is no respect, no dignity in what we are doing."

If You Work 4th of July Do You Get Overtime Rate?

Fun Party Ideas for Nannies and Au Pairs Working on the 4th of July

Sara Henderson, a nanny that works in Tarrytown, NY is working at a party with 10 children for the 4th of July. She explains she accepted the job at double here typical rate because it is a holiday. She also asked if we have ideas for the party. We like the fun games we found at The ideas are so much fun the parents may want to join in the activities.

Balloon Pass:
Use red, white, and blue balloons in a relay race. Create two teams of people, and line them up in straight lines. Give the first person a balloon and tell them to put it between their legs, passing the balloon to the next person in line with their legs only. That person will take the balloon and pass it to the next person by putting it over their head. That third person will put the balloon between their legs and pass to the next person like that. The game continues until the balloon has passed all the way down the line. If you have a small group, require that the balloon get passed down the line and back again before declaring a winner.

Scooter and Bike Parade:
Have guests decorate their bikes and scooters to win prizes! Ask everyone who comes to the party to decorate their bike or scooter or other item in patriotic garb. You can have people bring them to the party already decorated and have a contest for "best bike" or have them decorate their bikes and scooters at the party with red, blue, and white streamers, banners, flags, and ribbons available. The children and adults can decorate their bikes and scooters as a party activity.

Red, White, and Blue Guessing Game:
Have guests guess how many items of red, white and blue are in a jar. Fill a large jar with peppermint candy (the red and white striped kind) and decorate it with blue and red ribbon. Have children guess how many candies are in the jar. The winner, or the person who comes closest to the number without going over, gets the jar of candy.

Are you working this 4th of July? If so, will you be paid time and a half, overtime rate?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July To-Do List

A Week, Why, Wireless, Wired, Where

If you are paid weekly, you will have an extra pay day in July. Take the money from that fifth payday and save at least part of that check.

Examine the way that you are using the e-gadgets, the e-conveniences and the e-communications devices you have. Be prudent about the technologies you are using when you should be caring for children, driving, or doing anything else that requires your full attention. No need to text, to chat, or to make a call when a cranky child or reckless driver needs your attention.

Make "bargain" a verb, not a noun. Research prices and be prepared to negotiate. Use coupon sites, shopping comparison sites and auction/negotiating sites to lower your purchasing prices. Check online before you shop.

Pay your bills online. Save on postage, paper, checks, and time. Designate payment on the day the bill is due and hold onto your money longer. Auto pay those monthly bills that must be paid in full each month, such as the utility bills.

Microwave when possible, rather than using the stove or oven. Cook cheaper, quicker, and safer.

Learn to search the Internet more effectively. Google for some useful tips.