Child Development

Put an infant in a box – really

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An Infant in a box – REALLY?

Who would put an infant in a box?   Well, hopefully, new parents in Denver will!

Denver Public Health hopes to soon begin a campaign distributing free baby sleep boxes across the city, a first, modest step in Colorado to help new parents gain access to a simple tool that health experts say could greatly reduce infant mortality.   Please check out this Denver Post article referencing Denver Public Health.

The leading cause of death in infants – that’s birth to age one – is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).    It is believed that this tragic occurrence, happening during their sleep, is likely caused by suffocating due to items in the crib with them   Doctors recommend *nothing* in the crib with an infant.

In this Children’s Hospital of Colorado excellent information about SIDS, there is a long list of things to AVOID so the infant stays safe.   Two of these are:

  • Sleeping on a sofa, adult bed or other soft surface
  • Sleeping in the same bed with someone else, including a parent or sibling (called “co-sleeping” or “co-bedding”)

Infant in a Box.   Yes, really!

infant in a box

Infant in a Box

A small, safe place to sleep – these infant sleep cardboard boxes (used for many years in Europe, already) – are a simple and wonderful solution to the two dangerous situations listed above.

Despite years of research, doctors don’t know why SIDS strikes some infants.     However, we do have accurate numbers of its occurrence.   In Colorado, between 50 and 80 babies have died from SIDS each year since 2004.

Safe sleeping is a goal that every parent – and babysitter – can commit to by following the advice from our excellent Children’s Hospital of Colorado.

Stay Safe!

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Jean Lesmeister, 17 year youth Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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BE with children – Four to a Chair, in fact

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Four to a Chair

During my 17 years of teaching youth Babysitting CPR (age 11+), I have always stressed NOT turning on anything electronic as the best choice while babysitting.    QUALITY time with the children  is about what all specialists advise – READING to them,  PLAYING with them, and TALKING to them.   And Four to a Chair can help babysitters – and parents – do all three!

Reading to children soothes their emotions, sparks their imaginations and develops vocabulary, social skills and even brain development.    SO, tuck them close and read to them!

Awesome grandfather Hal Taylor creates fantastic chairs that seat FOUR.   That’s right – Four to a Chair!

The Storytime Rocking Chair! 


Four to a Chair

Grandpa Hal Taylor’s Storytime Rocking Chair

Check out Hal Taylor’s website about his creating these wonderful Storytime Rocking Chairs.   They are of the highest quality, crafted by a master carpenter, to be sure.   They are, yes, pricey.    It would be wonderful if more and more people purchased these works of art – but the IDEA of sitting close like this (however you devise it),  is definitely reinforced by Hal Taylor’s choice to make this chair so that he could spend quality time with his grandchildren – ALL of them!

Whether to purchase one of Hal’s chairs, or devise something of your own, a Storytime Rocking Chair is something babysitters would do well to create.   I urge babysitters to enjoy making living room blanket “forts” to enjoy with the children.    Perhaps they might devise their own Storytime Rocking Chairs, too?

Four to a Chair

Four to a Chair. HIGH quality workmanship!

This rocking chair helps babysitters – and parents –  READ to children!

I have crafted a video (on my website) about the benefits of reading to kids which is compiled from lots of experts on the subject.    I recall my childhood years were  about playing outdoors all the time, helping our parents with household jobs, talking to each other, reading – lots of watching TV and video games didn’t exist!   So, I urge my babysitting students to get back to little kids’ sweet desire to talk and share and explain and instruct you and tell and talk and share and explain and question and talk…. you get the picture…

I love the idea of putting a puppet on your hand and start asking the children questions so they can TALK.   “Would you rather hold a baby duckling or a baby turtle?”, for instance.    Babysitters, ask children questions, encourage them to talk, ask them about their feelings.

Hal Taylor, chair maker extraordinaire!

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Jean Lesmeister, 17 year youth Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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Screen Time for Kids – Not Much

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Screen Time for Kids

Everyone knows the story about the internet:  earliest impressions were “Internet allows for massive knowledge and learning”, “Internet is a vast and amazing library”.   BUT, next came the shock of discovering violence/crime on the internet, predators on the internet, vicious games on the internet, etc.   So, here we are, today, with the big questions of internet security and how much Screen Time for Kids “should” there be?


Screen Time for Kids? Not much!

For over 16 years, I’ve been teaching Babysitting CPR classes in the Denver area  (age 11-15).    Besides first aid, diapering, burping, preventing injury, FULL CPR – lots and lots of content – I spend considerable time talking to them about Quality Time while Babysitting.    It is, of course, not only wonderful for the children to get attention, to be read to, to be played with, it is a great investment in their small business!   I remind my students that children are asked by their parents who they want for a babysitter – I tell my students that *they* will be the ones wanted if the children have a nice time with them, affectionate time, creative time, PERSONAL time.   That, of course, means no computer or TV time whenever possible.

Screen Time for Kids?   NOT MUCH

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some excellent advice about screen time for children ranging from little toddlers to older teens.    Great advice!

The Academy breaks down their advice into two categories – advice for children up to age 5 and for ages 5-18.    CBS News has offered a snap shot view of the recommendations.

What I really like about the advice is that it stresses what to do “instead” with the child – play, exercise, dining, and more.    For instance, no computer in the bedroom!    It’s a strong message; limit screen time and activities to do, instead.


Screen time? No – unless it’s video chatting

Parents are busy – it can be too easy to “plop the kid in front of the screen”.

I hope you benefit from the advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics!

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Jean Lesmeister, 16 year Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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Eat. Play. Read. 15 Minutes With Your Child

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Eat. Play. Read.  15 Minutes With Your Child

For the 16 years I’ve been teaching Babysitting CPR classes for youth age 11+, I have always strongly urged the importance of quality time with the children.    I tell these young babysitters it will 1) make the children like you – and thus behave better for you and 2) will make you the preferred babysitter – and thus you make more money.

More money.  That’s when they giggle and squirm a bit that I’ve identified their “secret” about babysitting – that they want to babysit to make money.  It’s rather sweet that they think they should be altruistic about babysitting versus pragmatic.  I assure them it’s both.   Parents are looking for two things, I tell them:  1) someone kind and 2) trained.   Yes, they deserve to be paid for doing the vital thing of keeping dearly loved children safe!

I urge them to PLAY with the children; ask them questions to get conversations going, teach them a song or a dance, make up things to do – be creative.    I also urge them to READ to the children and I list for them all the benefits – brain and vocabulary development, emotional soothing, imagination as the plot and characters unfold, and more.

Eat. Play. Read.

So, that’s advice for babysitters, right?

Well, I have come upon a very nice organization that gives similar, gentle information for PARENTS.    The site The Family Tree suggests small changes that families might make that can make a big impact.

Eat. Play. Read.

One of their programs is Eat. Play. Read.  Just 15 Minutes a Day.   

“The time investment is small, but the benefits of spending as little as 15 minutes a day eating, playing and reading with your family are enormous – starting with more focused, creative and sociable kids.”

Eat. Play. Read.

Eat together – it’s strong family time

You might like to print out this one-page list of suggestions for your refrigerator:

Eat. Play. Read.  

The Family Tree also has You Tube short videos explaining why each area has great benefits – Eat.  Play.  Read

Click above on each each short clip – it’s a boost of inspiration and motivation!


Eat. Play. Read.  Print-out examples.

For instance, a one-page sheet gives great suggestions on using “positive discipline”.  It’s a helpful nudge, reminder, deep-breath list of information when times get tough.

Eat. Play. Read.

Play together. Let your kids know you.

Eat. Play. Read.

Quality time. It’s BEST.


But wait!   Parents do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with “advice” about parenting and “vital information” about parenting?

Gotcha.   It can rather make you feel like you “need to do even more” or that you are “falling short” since you don’t do that particular, specific advice in your household…


I recommend reading this article from the Washington Post, “Quality Trumps Quantity”.    It addresses the issue of parents feeling they should “spend more time” with their kids.   The article asserts that the quality of the time is far, far more important.   And to stop feeling guilty!

A hefty chunk of time to be with your children can be very hard to achieve.   The article asserts that parents should not expect it – or even try to think in terms of quantity.   Rather, quality.

The article is clear support to continue to do, as always, “the best you can”.    That’s wonderful right there!   It’s the best you can!

reading together

Read together.

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Jean Lesmeister, 16 year Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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Kids and video games

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Kids and video games

When I teach the Babysitting CPR class that I’ve taught to youth age 11+ for over 15 years, I always urge students to spend *quality time* with the children, which brings up the issue of kids and video games.

There are surprising statistics on how little one-to-one time kids might spend with their parents who are rushing about to jobs, commitments, appointments, household and life errands, etc.   Life’s pace can be so fast that kids can get only short face-to-face time with their parents.   Perhaps 20 minutes per day?  So, I always counsel students to engage in conversation, ask questions about school and friends, get them talking about their favorite fun, favorite ice cream, favorite animal – and AVOID television and video games.

Compared to being talked to or read to, television is a waste of time and a brain drain for children, I believe.    Watching TV, they never use their imagination the way they do when being told or read a story.    But when their imagination envisions in a story the characters, what the characters are doing and saying, how they feel, the suspense in the plot, the child’s brain is active and developing

I’ve also always thought that kids and video games are a poor match.   I’ve thought that the games are detrimental to a healthy child.   After all, Seriously?   You make points for Murdering?   Rewarded for Violence?

SO…I decided to learn more about video games!

Kids and video games – there are some good games?

The website has done some research, gathering input from many sources, to list Positive Effects and Negative Effects of kids and Video Games.

I’ve learned so much more about kids and video games – and some positive benefits.   It’s all about the premise of the game they’re playing.   If the game is one of quality, it encourages the development of quite a list of positive skills.   If it’s just violence, it’s trash.

There CAN be benefits!

There CAN be benefits!

Positive Effects of Kids and Video Games

  • Problem solving
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Motor and spatial skills
  • Multitasking
  • Making fast analysis and decisions
  • Immediate issues while keeping long term goals in mind
  • Reading and math skill development
  • Responding to frustrations and risks
  • Teamwork and cooperation when playing with others – Especially playing with parents!

Having fun is the best way to learn

I believe having fun is the best way to learn.    It’s why I make my Babysitting CPR classes lively and with warm humor.    I tell example stories of smart safety things babysitters have done, funny stories about what a little child said to her babysitter, etc.    Humor in class escalates retention, a major point of any training.

Having fun is the best way to learn

Having fun is the best way to learn

As a child plays a quality video game and does well with the challenges and problems and creativity, they experience the wonderful feelings of warm self-confidence, self-esteem, pride and satisfaction with success.    Good things!

It certainly seems to be all about a parental decision of WHAT games to allow their child to play.    And also that only ONE HOUR per day is the solid mandate asserted by researchers.

Negative effects of kids and video games

If a youth plays violent games, their behavior can become aggressive, their values skewed by being “rewarded” for violence.   They can also become addicted to the game and thus avoid doing their homework and even stay awake all hours of the night playing the game – and ensuring fatigue and failure the next day at school.


As a strong advocate for woman and girls – and passionate about ending the worldwide abuse of women and girls – I find it horrifying how video games so often portray female characters as weak, helpless, sexually provocative or victims.   That doesn’t fly with me AT ALL.   I’m passionate about the awesome girls’ website called A Mighty Girl.

This website offers a huge amount of excellent support for girls, empowerment for girls, and humor and fun.   Here are some video games recommended for girls from A Mighty Girl.

As a horse woman, I love horses with all my heart.   In fact, loving horses is very common for most girls!   So many young girls long to have a horse…

pony girl


Why not buy her one?    There is a video game offered on A Mighty Girl site called Planet Horse.   The game player rides a horse all around the countryside, jumping fences, experiencing cross country challenges.   What fun – let your daughter ride a horse on Planet Horse!

What ARE the positive games available out there?

Sim City – the player builds a city and has to complete urban planning

Farming Simulator – the player performs the role of a farmer growing crops and livestock

Cut the Rope – the player uses physics to solve puzzles

Super Mario 64 – the player Mario explores a castle to rescue Princess Peach.

I’ve learned that there ARE some good video games and they CAN be beneficial to children – but ONLY AN HOUR A DAY is what is recommended.  

Stay safe!

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Jean Lesmeister, 15 year Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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Tummy Time babysitting tips

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Tummy Time babysitting tips

Tummy Time babysitting tips definitely help youth babysitters keep an infant safe.     And these safety reminders from medical experts are great reminders for parents, too!

At issue is that an infant enjoying tummy time must be continually supervised.    They must be watched in case they begin to fall asleep.    An infant sleeping on their stomach is of instant concern, a safety issue regarding the tragedy of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Since 1992 when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  began to educate the public about how SIDS happens and the best advice on how to avoid a little infant suffering SIDS,  the incidence of SIDS has decreased by 50%.

While that is encouraging news, SIDS remains the leading cause of death in young infants.        It is vital to remember that infants must sleep on their backs, which is why the AAP implemented the “Back To Sleep” campaign; namely, sleep on the back.

tummy time baby

Tummy Time helps me get strong!

What are some great Tummy Time babysitting tips?

Dr. Jay L. Hoecker of Mayo Clinic recommends “at least 20 minutes of tummy time a day”.    The infant can lay on a blanket on the floor with some little toys close by to stimulate activity.   Dr. Hoecker states, “The more time babies spend on their tummies, the earlier they might begin to roll over, crawl on their stomachs, crawl on all fours and sit without support”.   They are developing muscles in their head and neck, shoulders and legs.   It’s all good!

Another great tip comes from the WEBMD site.     They recommend “move to the level” of the infant.  “Getting down on the ground and doing face-to-face encouragement will reassure a baby that he can did it and it’s OK”.

Use plastic mirrors.   A little infant might enjoy lifting her head (developing those muscles!) to look at their reflection in the mirror.   Lots of fun!

Involve a sibling.   Engaging the older child to join in the fun is a great idea for both ages.    As I remind my babysitting class students, two great rules when babysitting are

a) prevent injury and b) stay in the same room with the children.    Tummy time is a safe time for everyone.

Sing or tell a story so everyone enjoys themselves.   I urge my babysitting students to explore their own talent, their own creativity.    Can you tell the story or sing the song with “flair”?   Pull out your acting talent!

Never leave an infant alone during Tummy Time.

tummy time baby 2

Tummy Time makes me happy!

Not Too Hot – Tummy Time babysitting tip  states this advice, “Make sure your baby does not get too warm while sleeping.   Some researchers suggest that a baby who gets too warm could go into a deeper sleep, making it more difficult to awaken”.    Again, the issue is SIDS.

Extra tips for parents

Pacifiers also have been linked to a lower risk of SIDS.

Having the infant sleep in the same room with the parents (but not the same bed) has also shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Does the parent smoke?   Oh, no…   Exposure to secondhand smoke doubles a baby’s risk of SIDS.


The family dog might help tummy time be fun!

Click on this YOU TUBE clip for a gentle look at dog and infant together


As always, STAY SAFE!

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Jean Lesmeister, 15 year Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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build a fort for fun

18 Quick Tips for Quality Time while Babysitting

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18 Quick Tips for Quality Time while Babysitting

When I teach my Babysitting class for youth ages 11+, I urge them to use their creativity while babysitting.   I talk about quality time while babysitting so that the children enjoy themselves – versus time watching television or computer games.    Quality time while babysitting is wonderful and helps children develop and be happy – television and computer games is a waste of a beautiful little mind.

Sometimes my students feel stumped about what to do while babysitting when the children DO say, “Let’s watch TV!” and “Let’s play computer games!”    They know what I’ve told them about how invaluable reading to kids is, and how valuable getting little kids to talk and answer questions is.   To dissuade the kids from TV, I realized my students could benefit from a Quick Tip list of things to do with the children; things the babysitter may have forgotten from their own younger years.

I hope you’ll look at my .pdf list – and print it out – 18 Quick Tips for Quality Time While Babysitting.    Hopefully, this list of quality time while babysitting will spark more and more fun ideas!   These young babysitters are SMART and CREATIVE!

Build a FORT!

Build a FORT!

My 18 Quick Tips covers thing to TEACH, things to BUILD, things that ENTERTAIN – and more.   Teach the child how to do a jumping jack!

jumping jack

Jumping Jacks!

I also remind my students that if they engage in quality time while babysitting, the little children will REQUEST them when a babysitter is needed!    That’s very important to them – they want to be a babysitter, their entrepreneurial venture!    They are excited to make money providing just what the parents want – my students are a) kind and b) trained.   Yee ha!

Next Babysitting CPR classes coming up – Denver, CO:


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Jean Lesmeister, 15 year Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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Best Best Best Toys Ever — Kids 2-8

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Best Best Best Toys Ever

This company in Switzerland makes the best best best toys ever!

Check out the BILIBO!   Check out the OOGI!   Check out the Plui Rain Cloud!

The BEST toys ever.   Really.

Enjoy watching the Bilibo video  of these little kids having a fun, fun time.    Even better than that, this toy nudges them to creativity, it nudges them to explore, it nudges them to develop their ideas.    That is absolutely priceless as they grow.

Enter… BILIBO!


BILIBO – a best best best toys

Here’s the OOGI!    The video that will make you laugh with joy


OOGI – a best best best toys

Explore further what this excellent company has continually been developing!    The Bilibo has been such a success that they just keep creating, making and doing.   More toys.   More fun.   Wonderful.

Here’s the PLUI!    Enjoy


PLUI – a best best best toys

I commend all parentsand babysitters – who keep the TV, computer, video games OFF and stay active with the kids – play, run, jump.

Youth babysitters – use the best toy ever!

I have been teaching young people how to be safe Babysitters for over 16 years in my classes in Denver, Colorado.    My class covers preventing injuries, diapering/burping, first aid, the choking skills, full CPR and, so importantly, QUALITY TIME!     Studies have shown that busy parents, perhaps both employed, often enjoy too little one-to-one time with their children.   It’s part of why I’m so passionate about babysitters engaging in quality time while babysitting; little kids flourish with attention.     I urge that these young babysitters read to them, read to them, read to them, as well as play with them, play with them, play with them.   I ask them:  Have you ever taught the little child to “bicycle” with their legs in the air?    Have you taught them to balance something on their head or hand and talk across the room?   Have you taught them to balance on one foot while you both count as high as you can go?

Here’s my video urging Babysitters to read to children – please view!

Best wishes – stay safe!


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Jean Lesmeister, 16 year Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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Reading Aloud To Your Older Kids – Here’s Why

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Reading Aloud To Your Older Kids

There are so many amazing benefits to reading aloud to your kids.   Can you picture your 4 or 5 year old snuggling up while you read the story?    Well, experts assert that you should be doing the SAME for your older kids, too.

Preschool children and those in first and second grades are learning orally.    They cannot yet read.   It is from listening to parents talk that they are learning vocabulary.    And better than that is reading to them.    When speaking we tend to use half-sentences and quick phrases – but in reading, the language is rich, complete sentences are used, vocabulary is richer.

A child with a large vocabulary does better in school than the child who has little familiarity with words and vocabulary.

Reading Aloud To Your Older Kids – At what age is your older child listening?

Reading Aloud To Your Older Kids

Reading Aloud To Your Older Kids

A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to listening level until eighth grade“, states writer Connie Matthiessen in her article on the findings of famed Educator Jim Trelease.    Her article “Hidden Benefits of Reading Aloud”  delves into the idea that a youth in fifth grade can enjoy the story, and more complicated plot, of a book designed for a seventh grader.    That means they can “listen” at a higher level when read to.   That opens a very, very large bounty of good things.

The Excellent Things About Reading Aloud To Your Older Child

  • they get excited about a situation outside their reality – and thus develop understanding and empathy for the characters in the story
  • they are sharing powerful one-to-one time with you, the parent
  • difficult issues can be discussed and explored, presented in the story
  • talking together about the character’s challenges increases the bond and communication level – so important – between parent and youth

A definite consideration for talking about the issues of a character in the story is that the thoughts and questions from you, the parent, are not perceived as “lecturing”.    The focus is on the challenges of the character.   Your child can talk more freely when you ask, “Do you think the boy made the right choice?”, for instance.

Is this quality time?

Is this quality time?

If You Read, They Will Read

When a parent shows that they value reading – by reading to their kids and by reading for pleasure, themselves – that message is transmitted to the children.   In a world of too many electronics, too many video games, too much shallow content, quality stories “make you laugh, make you cry, and move the soul.”

Be Selfish:  Keep Reading To Your Kids

Greg Weinger shares the benefits to the parent by reading aloud to older kids, in his article “Be Selfish: Keep Reading To Your Kids“.    Below is the list he shares about those benefits.

At the end of the day, a 30-minute daily activity that helps you:

  • set aside your work and the stress of life
  • connect with your children
  • lower your heart rate and blood pressure
  • enjoy some of the greatest stories ever told
  • recharge your creativity and ability to think

Matthiessen states that youth are more and more addicted to electronic devices and need to be protected from too much time playing games and social network sites.    That’s why the quality time spent together – and the time spent reading aloud – is invaluable.


Jean Lesmeister, 15 year Babysitting CPR, Adult CPR & First Aid Instructor

American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI)

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