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Creating Christmas Traditions
Creating Christmas Traditions

This time last year I was writing a blog for an Italian real estate agent and had the pleasure of submitting several posts discussing the Italian traditions of Christmas. I was quite surprised to find that Italian Christmas traditions in both the North and South of the country are quite different to what we experience here in North America. Food is still a big part of their day, but Santa and Christmas trees aren’t.

I have a young family and it’s been fun to create a unique approach to gift giving and the folklore of Father Christmas. Learning about different customs around the world really got me thinking about how we could build traditions in our family.

Here are some of the different traditions from other areas of the world that we are going to incorporate into our own Christmas celebrations.

  • Italian letter writing – On Christmas Eve, after dinner, children put a letter on their father’s plate. The letter tells their daddy why they love him and are grateful for him and mom.
  • Dutch Christmas Eve – My husband’s family are from Friesland, north of Holland. Traditionally the Dutch, like many countries in central and northern Europe, open their presents on Christmas Eve. We now choose one present to open on Christmas Eve (will it be a thumb sucking guard this year?) and open the rest on the ‘big day’.
  • Greek offering to the less fortunate – A lot like their Mediterranean counterpart, the Italians, the Greeks don’t give many presents. Instead they give small gifts to hospitals, orphanages and people in need. This year, we will be participating in a gift rally for those in local foster care.
  • Austrian Baked Carp – I love turkey, just love it, but I like the idea of an alternative. We celebrate Christmas with a big family gathering so I am going to bring a fish to shake things up a little at our Christmas table.
  • Egyptian New Outfit – I like this tradition most of all! On Christmas Eve Egyptians will head to church dressed in a new outfit. Growing up in the north of England we did similar on Christmas Day, we always saved something special for the 25th. A cool idea might be to gift a new Glovey Huggey to match the outfit your child is going to wear. This is a good way to encourage them to wear the thumb guard and make it fun and exciting.
  • French Chocolate Log – I’m not a big fan of fruit cake which is the tradition for Christmas. Long ago I started to make a French chocolate log for dessert. Serve with cream or ice cream – delicious!

Christmas is a fun holiday to celebrate whether you celebrate age old traditions or are creating your own family folklore. It is a great time to hang out with your kids and show how much you love them, thumbsucking and all.

 

Author Bio: Breanna Andrews is a mother of two young children and a writer. As the article suggests, she loves new clothes and is currently coveting this Becksöndergaard star scarf by Minkpink for herself and the Nature’s Pride for her daughter!

Image courtesy of posterize / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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5 Things That Every Children’s Toy Should Be
5 Things That Every Children’s Toy Should Be

Playtime

There can be no question that children’s toys have evolved massively over the years.

However, perhaps the biggest thing you can say about children’s toys is that, in more recent times, they have come full circle to a point where traditional, “old school” toys are now among the most popular available. So, knowing that modern toys eventually came to be discarded in favour of original, much-loved ones, what does that tell us about how every toy should be?

Fun

This is an obvious one – if a toy isn’t fun then a child is never going to spend any time playing with it, are they?

More to the point, a toy needs to be able to provide a child with hours of fun at a time, if something gets boring after half an hour then can it really be considered to be fun?

Interactive

When people see the word interactive they immediately think that there must be some sort of digital element involved. Interactive play doesn’t mean that they have to be on a computer, or playing a game on the television – just that they are able to get something out of the toy itself and engage with others with the toy.

Educational

Part of that something should always be learning. If a child, particularly at a young age, is not getting anything out of their playtime then what they are playing with needs to be looked at.

Children are encouraged to learn through play from a very young age, with building blocks and shape sorters often among the first toys we will own. Parents, as well as schools and children’s clubs, should ensure that this process continues throughout the child’s formative years.

Multi-Purpose

One great way to help the child develop – as well as save money for the parents – is to ensure that toys are multi-functional. Take a girls doll, for example. That can be a plaything, an imaginary friend, a character in a story, or an alternative to a teddy bear in bed.

If a toy is boring and one-dimensional the child is unlikely to get any real value out of it.

Meaningful

If a child has no emotional connection with a toy, then there is no point to it. You could buy a little boy a remote controlled car, however if he has no interest in them then it makes no difference whether you have bought him an archetypal “boys toy” or not.

Seek to buy toys with real meaning, and a child will value them a lot more.

A Girl for All Time is an online retailer that provides a range of toddler girl toys, including award-winning dolls, novels, and keepsakes.

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Top 5 Toys for Toddler Girls
Top 5 Toys for Toddler Girls

Buying toys for your toddler daughter is not an easy thing to do. The market for this group is so narrow in many ways, especially when you look at how big a change there is in the transition from toys aimed at younger age groups to those meant for older children.

We searched high and low for the best toys to buy for toddler girls, be it for Christmas, a birthday, or another special occasion, and why you should consider making the purchase.

Tablet Devices

This year has seen the launch of a number of excellent tablet devices aimed at children. The best thing about these is that they are so much more than the usual “learning laptops” that are seen every single year. Buying one of these for a toddler girl will enable them to discover a world of features and applications tailored specifically for their interests, and help them become proficient at using a device that will likely form a huge chunk of their future.

Collectable Dolls

Whether you go for historically inspired dolls or something more contemporary, such as One Direction figurines, collectable dolls are always a great idea for toddler girls. The only real problem is that they will undoubtedly want to play with them, so if there is a collectable element to your motivation for buying, you may want to reconsider.

Furby

While the original incarnation of the Furby around 15 years ago was innovative at the time, it ultimately left a great deal to be desired in terms of how a child could engage with it. The new, improved, and re-launched Furby toys are much more interactive and engaging for a child, and can even be hooked up to a mobile device or laptop so that even more exciting features can be unlocked and enjoyed.

Design Toys

For those looking to unlock their child’s creative side, there are a wide range of design toys that are available, especially from well-known brands such as Crayola. Whether you go for a simple colouring and painting-based toy, or something such as Aqua Beads, for example, the possibilities for individual designs and an exciting voyage of self-discovery are endless.

Roleplay Toys

Whether it is dressing up as a favourite Disney character or keeping busy in a play kitchen, there are many imaginative roleplay option available for younger girls. You can be sure that they will want to dress as a beautiful princess, their favourite film character, or re-enact the housework behind you. These toys are great for killing time as well as helping your child develop social and emotional skills.

Check out some of these toy ideas next time you are at the shops, and don’t become hamstrung by what can be a difficult age group to shop for.

A Girl for All Time are stockists of a number of Christmas gifts for girls, including award-winning books, novels, and keepsake dolls.

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Healthy Thanksgiving Treats: Cook with Your Child to Take Their Mind Off Thumb Sucking!
Healthy Thanksgiving Treats: Cook with Your Child to Take Their Mind Off Thumb Sucking!

Healthy Thanksgiving Treats: Cook with Your Child to Take Their Mind Off Thumb Sucking!

 

Around the Holiday season it can be difficult to make sure you’re doing right by your child’s health. With so many sugary snacks and crunchy treats you’re most likely not only worried about their waistline, but their dental health too – especially if thumb sucking is also an issue.

So, here are three healthy Thanksgiving treats you can bake with your little one which will not only take their mind off thumb sucking, but not be damaging to their health in the long run either. All of these recipes can be prepared whilst they’re wearing their thumb sucking gloves, so what are you waiting for?

Sweet Potato Chips

Nothing says Thanksgiving more than root vegetables, and these sweet potato chips are high in vitamin A, low in fat, and good on the teeth.

Simply peel and slice the sweet potato finely – you can use a mandolin or use the slice function on a grater. Get your little one to spread the potato slices in a single layer on baking sheets, and spray lightly with a low-cal cooking spray. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and pop in the oven at 400F for around 20 minutes. Yum!

Apple Cranberry Crumble

This is a low-sugar version of a classic Thanksgiving pie, morphed into a yummy crumble pudding.

Peel, core and cube around 3lbs of apples – a mix of cooking and dessert varieties work well. Pop in a pan, and get your little one to add a couple of handfuls of fresh cranberries, juice of half a lemon, and ½ tsp ground cinnamon. When the apples begin to soften, taste, and add a little stevia or other natural low-cal sweetner if needed. Put the filling in an oven dish.

In another bowl, mix 1 cup oats, 1 cup no added sugar muesli, 2tbsp baking fluid (such as Flora Cuisine) and 1tbsp stevia sweetner until it makes a light crumbly topping – you can add in some crushed pecans too if you like. Sprinkle the topping over the apples, and bake at 350F for around 30 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and fruit completely soft.

Serve with low-sugar frozen yoghurt or vanilla yoghurt for pudding!

Turkey Pizza Roll Ups

Great as a savoury snack or as a post-holiday lunchbox treat to motivate school children, these are a yummy way to use up leftover turkey, or even pre-Thanksgiving to get a taste for it.

Take a can of bread/pizza dough – try to find a low sugar and fat one if possible – and spilt into 8. Roll each bit of dough into a rough square about 1/4in thick, and top with a thin slice of turkey (leaving a ½ in boarder at one end), a sprinkling of cranberries and a little low-fat grated cheese. Roll up towards the edge with the boarder, and stick the end down with a little milk.

Put all your completed roll ups on a lightly greased baking tray with the sealed end on the bottom. Bake at 375F for around 20 minutes until risen and golden. Store in an airtight tin to keep fresh.

Do you have any teeth-friendly treat recipes for Thanksgiving?

Bio: Louise Blake is a new mum and aspiring writer. She loves cooking and can’t wait till her son is old enough to get involved in the kitchen. She currently writes for Classroom Carrots giving helpful advice for parents.

Image by: Feli

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Christmas Gifts from the Kids
Christmas Gifts from the Kids

As the Christmas season is soon approaching, include children in sharing the holiday spirit by encouraging them to give gifts. Children can give all sorts of gifts to their family, friends and loved ones, from buying wholesale jewelry to making their own crafts. Here are four ways for children to spread Christmas cheer and give gifts anyone would love:

1. Bake Holiday Cookies

Cookies are a great gift to give during the Christmas season. For a fun and enjoyable activity to do together, let children bake their own holiday-themed cookies to give to others so they learn how to bake while making delicious treats. You can buy prepared cookie dough from the grocery store that you can let kids cut and arrange on baking sheets or you could walk your children through the steps of making dough from scratch. After baking and cooling the cookies, decorate them to spread the holiday spirit and personalize the cookies with messages like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Use colorful paper or boxes to add a finishing touch to their gift.

2. Give Stuffed Toys

If children are giving to others close to their age, consider having them give toys like stuffed animals. Not only do stuffed animals or dolls decorate a child’s room, they can also make a good friend to him or her. If a child’s room is overflowing with stuffed animals, action figures or dolls, encourage him or her to either donate or gift toys they do not use or rarely play with. Buying new toys from the store is also another option to give toys if you are concerned with getting your children to part with their unused toys.

3. Make Customized Cards and Calendars

Making cards and calendars are simple craft projects anyone can do and makes for a thoughtful gift. Make calendars by pasting decorated paper on flip calendars or fold paper into cards. Using construction paper, children can decorate cards and calendars any way they choose to express their creativity and imagination. Decorating ideas range from cutting out white pieces of paper to make snowflakes to drawing Christmas trees, presents, and other holiday-themed pictures.

4. Buy Costume Jewelry

Children love to play dress up and as they already know, wearing costume jewelry completes any outfit. For a gift appreciated by girls and women of all ages, let your children buy wholesale jewelry as a gift. With a huge variety of jewelry and designs to choose from, including necklaces, bracelets and earrings, costume jewelry is an inexpensive way to add style to clothing and outfits.

Let children get into the holiday spirit this Christmas season by giving gifts, whether buying something small or making their own custom gifts.

Patrick Whalen is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @2patwhalen.

Attached Images: License: Creative Commons image source

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Books On How To Stop Thumb Sucking
Books On How To Stop Thumb Sucking

We all know that Thumb Sucking can be a nasty habit to have. It is proven to be one of the more costly “Childhood Habits” a child could have. When the habit of sucking your thumb goes beyond the first, 3 years of life, you start to get the adverse effects starting to appear. In turn, your Orthodontist bill starts to sky rocket! It is easy to kick this habit, but you just need the knowledge and persistence to change it. So, if thumb sucking persists in your life or in your household, be comforted in the fact that there are many good books on “how to stop thumbsucking” on the market these days. You can find everything from educational, Children’s Books to Adult thumb sucking books. There are a few top seller’s listed below for your reference and some good ideas on how to beat this thumb sucking habit once and for all!

1. Stop Thumb Sucking – Stop Thumb Sucking with this cute, “Stop Thumb Sucking, Thumbuddy To Love” Book and Thumb Puppet. This hardcover books tells a tale of a ballerina who finds she needs her thumbs to keep dancing. It is a gentle and educational story that comes with a ballerina thumb puppet that can be worn day or night to help prevent thumb sucking.

2. Thumb Sucking Gloves – You can also find a male version of the “Stop Thumb Sucking, ThumbuddyTo Love,” collection. You can find “Fireman Fred,” who will share a great tale for your child and also comes with a “Fireman Fred” thumb puppet for your child to wear. While looking over the various books you can also find many options for Thumb Sucking Gloves as well.

3. Thumb Sucking Devices – Thumb Sucking Devices are available for your’s or your child’s thumb sucking habit. You can find devices such as Thumb Guards that are plastic, non-toxic and comfortable to wear. They are 90 percent effective and backed by the Food and Drug Administration and thousands of Dentist and Orthodontists worldwide.

4. Thumb Sucking Concerns – If you are concerned with the effects of Thumb Sucking and wonder about the physical and emotional aspects of it, you can look into the book by, Pam Marshalla. It is a good book for Adults/ Parents and even Therapists to read. It goes over the emotional aspects of thumb sucking and how to conquer it.

If you are past the point of reading a book on this and just want something to cover the thumb, you have a few different choices. As listed above, you can always pick a fun, thumb puppet for your child or even a glove. You might also notice that there are different kinds of bitter, topical ointments that can be applied or even a device called a “Thumbster,” which goes over the thumb and is comfortable and made of breathable, washable fabric. Whichever “Stop Thumb Sucking” device you use, if used with persistence, you should be guaranteed success in your quest on how to stop thumb sucking.

Author Bio:

Jason Miner an expert freelance writer loves writing articles on different categories. He is approaching different bloggers to recognize each other’s efforts through “www.blogcarnival.com”. He can be contacted through e-mail at jasonminer8atgmaildotcom. .

Out on Their Own: Trick or Treating Safety

For many children, being allowed to trick or treat without an adult is a rite of passage and a coming of age moment on a par with no longer thumb sucking or tying their shoe laces on their own. Whether you feel fine letting them out alone at age 8 or 18, there are still several safety precautions you should enforce to make sure they arrive home safe and happy, with a bucketful of yummy candy!

Here are the ten safety measures you should implement before your child goes out on their own this Halloween.

  1. Make a map of the route they’re to take, and give them strict instructions not to veer off the route. You can also roughly calculate the time they’ll be home, giving about 2-3 minutes at each house.
  2. Give them a curfew, and make sure they know to stick to it. It’s a good idea to have them home before it gets completely dark, as it becomes more difficult to be safe, and tripping, cars and older teens can become a bigger hazard.
  3. If your child has a mobile phone, make sure they take it with them and have it stored in a concealed but easily accessible place. Program your home number into the speed dial, so if they have any issues they can contact you quickly.
  4. Instruct them not to eat any candy or chocolate on the way, as it may have been tampered with. When they get home, make sure to check over their spoils and throw away any treats not in commercial packaging, or with packaging that’s been tampered with.
  5. Remind them to avoid houses without lights outside, even if they’re decorated, or dark houses without decorations. Let them know that some people do not celebrate Halloween, and may not be forgiving of them trick or treating, and dark porches are not a safe place for them to be.
  6. Make sure they know they are not allowed to enter any stranger’s houses or vehicles, especially if they offer them treats to come inside. If they wish to go into a friend’s house, let them know they need to call you first to ask permission, or get their friend’s parents to call you.
  7. Refresh their road safety knowledge, as most accidents on Halloween are related to cars. Make sure to practice crossing at designated crossings, remembering to look both ways before they cross the road – try giving them a pupil reward sticker every time they cross the road safely to reinforce this. If you can, choose a loop route with sidewalks where they can stick to one side of the road and then come back along the other to minimize the number of times they have to cross roads.
  8. Make sure their costumes fit well and don’t present a tripping hazard, and avoid large masks or headwear that could obscure their vision. Shoes that fit well are also a must, and if your child will be out after dusk make sure they have reflective tape attached to both the front and back of their outfits so they can be seen by motorists. If your child uses thumb sucking gloves, try to incorporate these into their costume so they don’t have to feel shy about wearing them outside the house.
  9. If they have an accessory to go with their outfit, for example, swords or sticks, make sure this are made of a flexible material like foam so they won’t injure anyone if your child trips or falls. If they aren’t, leave them at home.
  10. Make sure to remind them of these rules every year they go out alone to remind them how to be safe when trick or treating alone.

Do you have any more safety tips for Halloween?

Bio: Louise Blake is a new mum and aspiring writer. She loves Halloween, but is focused on safety. She currently writes for Carrot Rewards giving helpful advice for parents..

The High Price of Thumb Sucking as a Child

5 horrifying results of thumb sucking addiction

Do you have a secret; I’m talking something that would be so horrifying if your parents decided to make it public knowledge at your wedding that you’d pull a runaway bride?

Well then since we’re amongst friends, I have a confession to make—as a child I was a thumb sucker! I’m not talking about thumb daintily placed in the mouth during deep REM sleep. I’m talking walking around, so prone, with thumb covered in slobber and jammed knuckle deep in my mouth!

It’s quite the unattractive visual, and as a parent, I’ve tried everything I can to deter the addictive behavior in my own children. However, I guess I’m not alone. Psychologists say that thumb-sucking is actually a comforting gesture that mimics the soothing, cared for feelings that baby felt when breastfeeding. Toddlers and children who continue to suck thumb do so to go back to a safe and nurturing place in time because it sends a rush of endorphins to the brain.

However, as a kid I was a chronic thumb-sucker. I did it in bed, in the house during playtime, in public, and even at preschool. You could not wrench my thumb from my pie hole under any circumstances. My parents, relatives, friends, and teachers all tried, but no amount of bargaining, flashy toys, or yummy cookies could get thumb unstuck from mouth.

The habit didn’t really concern me as a child; however as an adult my teeth have come to pay the price so much so that when I meet fellow thumb-suckers on the street they know we’re birds of a feather right away and claim, “Oh, girl, your teeth are wonky like mine. Did you suck your thumb into your teens?”

Here are some adverse effects that I’ve suffered as a result of my childhood thumb sucking addiction:

1. Shifting teeth

The bad teeth truth of thumb-sucking kids is a tragedy once they reach adulthood. The act of repeated thumb-in-mouth addiction actually causes the teeth to shift as they are still developing.

2. Crowded teeth

One common denominator in all thumb-suckers is crowding of teeth and crookedness along the bottom line of teeth that’s often revealed with smiling.

3. Overbite

Another unsightly result of thumb sucking as a child is my overbite. As a result of thumb-jammed in mouth, my lower teeth no longer matched up to my top teeth, which shifted forward to make space for my ever present thumb.

4. Bacteria reservoir

By that I’m referring to the pocket created in thumb-sucking mouths as a result of the lower teeth crowding together. This pocket becomes the ideal space for bacteria to gather and is difficult to cleanse out because of the position so cavities and gum disease can form in these areas if bacteria sit too long.

5. Jaw surgery

One drastic result of thumb-sucking is that some addicts have to undergo jaw surgery or cosmetic dentistry later in life to reverse the damage and shifting of teeth and bone caused by excessive thumb-sucking.

About The Author

Ashlee is a staff writer for Apron Addicts, a blog about kitchen fashion and home style. She also likes to write about family life, mobile technology, business, productivity, and anything else that catches her attention.

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From hygiene to ethics: How to teach children good habits

Psychologists often emphasize the fact that behaviors learned in childhood tend to follow a child throughout the rest of their life. As parents, you’re largely responsible for helping your children develop good behaviors that enable happy and healthy futures. The earlier you begin teaching these behaviors, the easier it gets, so be sure to get started now on the following important lessons:

Health and personal hygiene

Several studies have shown that those who develop unhealthy habits in childhood are more likely to exhibit unhealthy behaviors as adults. This trend can be observed in the rising numbers of obese people in the United States; children who eat junk food and lead a sedentary lifestyle tend to carry those behaviors into adulthood. In an environment where fast food and television watching are commonplace, parents have to make an extra effort to provide their children with healthful foods and encourage physical activity.

Similar to this idea, it’s important for parents to encourage personal hygiene by teaching children to brush teeth properly and at least twice a day, flossing once per day. Although children may be losing their baby teeth anyway, developing these good habits is the most important objective of practicing dentist-recommended behaviors. You can use dental coupons to give your children the supplies they need to maintain excellent dental health, while still sticking to your budget. Daily bathing is also an important habit to foster in children, because adults who never learned about good hygiene may find it harder to get a good job.

Personal ethics

Teaching your children to be respectful and to make ethical choices is arguably the most challenging – yet most important – responsibility you have as a parent. Simple lessons include teaching kids to clean up after themselves to share with others. Other lessons may be harder to explain, like why they should sacrifice for those less fortunate and not make assumptions about other people based on what they look like. Children often struggle with these ideas early in life because they’re so focused on their own happiness and satisfaction. However, parents should continually explain why children should exhibit ethical behaviors – and parents should lead by example, too.

Empathy plays an important role in helping children develop a strong ethical code. Although empathy may seem like an innate characteristic, children often have to be told why they should care about others and the appropriate ways to show they care. In other words, children may feel love and care for others, they just may be confused about the right ways to show it. Drive is another important character trait that will help children succeed in reaching their goals, whether they be personal, academic or professional.

Parents face many challenges when raising their children to be upstanding adults, but developing these habits is a process that will take some time. Although children may rebel against these habits at first, they’ll gradually begin to see how these behaviors influence their lives for the better as time goes by. Remember, it’s never too late to begin practicing these habits, so be sure to take advantage of any time you have left during your child’s developing years.

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Kids Beneficial Use of Trampoline, Even for Thumb Sucking

Kids Beneficial Use of Trampoline

Use of Trampoline, Even for Thumb SuckingOne of the best gifts we can give our children is a trampoline. Other than a fun time of bonding and having fun with family and friends, it is also a good time to exercise. They love to show off what they can do and it sets memories that are embedded in the mind for a lifetime. The latest technologies have made it hard to get kids out of the house to have good old fun. These trampolines will make them feel happy and will get them out to have fun. All the jumping up and down moves there focus away from thumb sucking and other vices especially in the younger kids who may be idle without having an activity to keep them busy.

The growth of their bones is also boosted by the Vitamin D they get from the sun. This simply means that all the fun they are having is helping them get healthier too rather than staying indoors playing video games. In addition, they are able to improve their skills, timing, rhythm, agility and balance which will be useful in the future in the activities they do daily as well as dancing and athletics. The heart is strengthened too and the child will have better circulation of blood in their body. When the heart is strong, it will last longer on top of other benefits.

Kids that are hyperactive will greatly benefit from the trampoline as it gives them something fun to do and a good way to release their energy and stress. The parents too benefit as their kids get to be free of the stress they had from being in school all day as well as have something fun to do in the summer. Their creativity and imagination is expanded as they can come up with fun games to play on it. To guarantee safety, enclosed trampolines are recommended though accidents on them are rare.

When it comes to buying these trampolines for the kids it is important to keep in mind a few factors that will help in the choice that you will be making. The first is the kind of shape of what is in the market. For the kids they are usually four that is octagonal, round, square and rectangular. The rectangular ones have more bounce than the round ones as they have more springs which are flexible. The octagonal one will be a good choice if you want more space to jump around whereas the round ones would keep the kids jumping in place. Size is also important as it will influence the number of people who will be using it at a time.

To be safe there needs to be enough space around them. One thing that you should not forget is that these trampolines are for children and their safety is a priority. The overhead clearance needs to be about 24 feet and two all around it. The mesh ring can be wrapped around it so that the kids do not fall out as they play. The price varies from shop to shop depending on the brand. They really help in keeping the child busy in a fun way search that even sucking of the finger will be quickly forgotten. All parents want is to create a fun environment for their children to play and this is one way they can achieve this as they record these fun moments.

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