The Three Most Common Harmful Oral Health Habits for Kids

Today, Dr. Peter Markov, a pediatric dentist and owner of VK Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, VA, shares common harmful oral health habits many parents are guilty of and his best advice for proper pediatric oral care.

#1 Wrong toothpaste

An often-easy mistake to make is using the wrong toothpaste. Although this can take a while to show effects, it will definitely take its toll on teeth in the long run. The toothpaste aisle can be overwhelming with so many options but the main two things you want to look for include the ADA (American Dental Association) stamp of approval and to make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride.

#2 No Mouthguard?!

There’s no excuse for your child not to wear a mouthguard while playing sports. Even though mouthguards may not be the coolest fashion accessory, it does prevent teeth from being knocked out, chipped or damaged. When a child is in mixed dentition (Usually from age 7-12), they are undergoing quite a bit of change in their mouth. While custom mouthguards are thinner and more comfortable, they are also much more costly.

We usually recommend getting a less expensive moldable mouthguard and changing it every season or every other sport (otherwise you will be getting custom guards every 6 months) while a child is at this age to protect their teeth without breaking the budget.

#3 Chewing On Everything In Sight. Teeth Are Not Scissors!

While kids are bored, they tend to chew on anything in site including nails, pencils and paper clips. This might satisfy your child’s tactile sensations, but it’s a fast way to cause damage to teeth. An easy alternative that you can give your child is a gum that’s sugar-free and contains xylitol. This can help satisfy their attention and prevent nasty habits from developing. For more information, please read this article on tips for teething.

Never let your children open packages with their teeth - it will break down their tooth enamel and can lead to chipping or fractures. Although this sounds like common sense, you’d be surprised how many children use their teeth to open packages, wrappers, or cans. Although it may not cause damage every time, there is the potential it chips a tooth.

About the Author: Dr. Peter Markov is passionate about children and children’s oral health. He firmly believes that prevention is best when it comes to kids' dentistry and hopes this post helps you make educated and healthy oral health decisions. His practice, VK Pediatric Dentistry, provides comfortable, convenient, and quality kids dentistry for infants, toddlers, children, and teens in Arlington, Mclean, Falls Church, Alexandria, and the surrounding cities of Northern Virginia.


These Spring + Summer Staples Every Family Should Have

With Spring on our doorstep (Northern Hemisphere people of course!) and summer around the corner, I thought I would share my 10 MUST HAVE things that make frolicking in the sun with my family much easier.

Full disclosure, while a couple of the things on this list I did review on the blog, not one company is behind this list. The following 10 things are 100% MY FAVORITE SPRING/SUMMER 2015 PARENTING Game Changers!

1. A waterproof travel blanket for trips to the park, firework shows or late nights at a friend's house with a cold sleepy kid. Look for a blanket that fits in the trunk of your car in its own carrying case. I LOVE the Adventure blanket from Tribe Provisions.  It has an attached bag that makes unpacking and repacking a breeze.
Tribe Provision Go-anywhere Adventure Blanket (Black-Gray)

2. A small portable cooler bag.  Two years ago I was asked to review the Pack-It cool portable lunch/cooler bags.  I nearly passed up the offer, but my sister insisted that she heard great things so I tried it. Since I have used it more than any one of the things on this list! I cannot recommend enough a bag like the Pack-it cool.  Basically, it's a bag that you store in your freezer until you need it.  I use the crap out of ours for all kinds of stuff.  This bag keeps Popsicles frozen while at the zoo!  The best part is that it's cheap $15-50 depending on the size.  MOM TIP: Freeze a small washcloth inside of it for cooling off kids, wiping up messy faces and adding an extra level of cold!  DO THIS !

They are in stores everywhere.  For a store locator click here. 

3. Homemade popsicles!  Last summer when Ollie became a Popsicle junkie, which turned his poop BRIGHT GREEN, I thought I better read what the hell is in the store-bought Popsicles.  My friends, I felt like I needed to go to confession to report my sin of pumping my toddler full of things I couldn't even pronounce! I decided then that I would make all of Ollie's Popsicles moving forward.  I bought cheap molds and got to work. OMG! Not only does he love the Popsicles, but I also pump them full of healthy things like Probiotic yogurt, frozen organic fruit and juice, and when he's not looking, every veggie I can blend up small enough! DO THIS!  (Last year's Popsicle how-to is Here, I'm writing a new one for this year with new recipes coming soon!)

4. Super Safe Bug Spray! With all of our outdoor frolicking, by mid-June, if we don't have a great bug spray we become bug food. (SO GROSS!)  Bug spray is essential, but after doing the research on safe bug spray for babies/toddlers, I found not many were available.  Last summer I fell in LOVE with Honest Company's Bug spray.  It's super safe for the whole family, yet extremely effective! Even FTD who insisted on using his Deet soaked crap until it ran out, had to admit that the Honest Bug Spray was just as effective, if not more. Now it's the only spray we use! 

To buy it now, click here! 

5. SLAB O' Water! I keep a case of water in my trunk all year long, but especially in summer.  I go to Costco, buy the biggest one I can and store it in my trunk. Water is not only essential to fight dehydration, it cleans feet, toys, shoes, hands, scrapes and other assorted kid-mishaps in a pinch! 

6. Attachable (Clamp-On) umbrella!  This one is huge for me. FTD and I both have very fair skin, so naturally, so does my child! Since Ollie was a little baby I would push him around with an umbrella on his stroller for extra protection.  I still do.  You can pick them up at Big Lots, or Amazon.  They are SO worth it! 

Here is a super one on Amazon- ($20) Sport-Brella Versa-Brella All Position Umbrella with Universal Clamp, Firebrick Red

7.  First Aid Kit- Chances are, if you're the parent of a toddler, you're already packing band-aids, but with the summer running, jumping, scrapes and falls, make sure you have a full (travel size) first aid kit handy in your bag/car.

8. Outdoor Tub O' Toys. With a toddler's attention span lasting all of 10 seconds, I try to keep a tub full of outdoor toys ready.  I go to the Dollar Tree (Dollar store) and load up on outdoor toys and arts and crafts like chalk, sponges for water painting the sidewalks, and anything else that will make playing outside fun.  I'm determined to keep my kid playing outdoors for as long as possible.  Stupid video games...

9.  Sun protective clothing. I swear by UV clothing. It's so worth the investment (about $50) I do long sleeve top and long shorts. It takes the fear out of a long day outside.

This outfit is from http://www.coolibar.com
 10. SUNBLOCK!!!!!!!!!  There is no one thing more important. Now, that being said, there are four million sunblocks on the market, but when it comes to sensitive skin, there are only a few I trust. I ALWAYS check the Environmental Working Group's Annual Sunblock report, where thousands of sunblocks are tested and rated for skin safety. When it comes to Ollie, I try to stick to the absolute safest rating possible a Zero or One.  I really cannot recommend enough that you check your sunblock's rating before slathering it on your kid.  Click here for a list of last year's, (I will post the second EWG releases their 2015 Sunblock report!)

And for those squirmy little ones, I LOVE Honest Company Sunblock stick, It's the best!!

Are there any products you can't live without?

10 Ways To Save Big On Kid's Things For Spring

We are a family that lives by our budget, and when I can squeeze it a little more, I do. Being that I'm a first-time parent, I feel like each season we start over with buying new clothes and season-appropriate toys and snacks, all can be big-budget busters. So, for today's top 10 Tuesday, I'm sharing a few of my favorite ways to save big on Kid's things for spring... and summer too!

1. Make a list: I learned very early that kids do not need half as much stuff as I think they do. Before my baby was born, he had enough clothes to go for a month without wearing a new outfit. Most of which, he never wore because he grew too fast! I quickly learned that I need to make a reasonable list of what I actually needed for my son, taking into account mid-season growth spurts! I cannot recommend this enough, make a list of the number of shorts, shirts, and shoes that you actually need to start the season, also include seasonal toys and future big buys like bicycles, ride on toys or backyard trampoline if you're brave enough. Having a list early will allow you to do online shopping for better deals as well as put feelers out with your family to look for things on sale.

2. Shred those winter clothes: When it comes to outside playtime, kids get to get dirty, so the last thing you want them to do is grime-up the nice new clothes. Go through those winter clothes that have holes in the knees or tears in the sleeves, and cut them off to make shorts and t-shirts. Then, deem those play clothes so you won't cry when you can't get the grass or ketchup stains out.

3. Borrow Budget Busters: For those one-off family portraits or special occasions where you normally end up buying an incredibly expensive outfit, your child will most likely only wear once, check out Etsy, eBay, and your friend's closets before paying full price for anything.

4. Secondhand Shops: Places like Once Upon A Child and other children's secondhand shops are full of clothes and everything else you need to cover an entire winter or summer wardrobe, for under $20. (Shoes too! Did you know Crocs are machine washable?)

5. Facebook Finds: Every city has at least one Facebook mommy group that has clothes exchanges and lists where big family sales are taking place. To find them, on your Facebook page ask your friends if they know of any great mommy groups on Facebook. I bet you'll get plenty of replies!

6. Garage Sale Heaven: Garage sales are a great place to pick up those big toys that people want to get rid of because they take too much space, but you desperately need because it's time for your toddler to start riding a bike. On Fridays, go to Craigslist, or wherever your city list garage sales, and find ones close by. Look for multi-family sales then grab a friend and some coffee and start shopping!

7. Discount Dealers: I love Groupon and other sites that can offer great things at a huge discount. All will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders.

8. Daily Deals: Did you know there are hundreds of websites that crawl the Internet daily for the best online daily deals? They do, and then list them in an easy to search format so you can quickly search for items on your must-have list. My favorite is DealNews.com.

9. DIY For Family Health: When it comes to springtime treats and healthy fruit snacks, the budget can bust very quickly. I make our Popsicles, grow our fruit and cut out juice and soda, we are water drinkers during the warm months. If you have a sunny spot in your yard, patio or balcony, you have a place to grow your own fruit! Did you know strawberries grow well in a pot? Go to your local nursery and ask for help finding the right fruits to grow for where you live (Grower's Zone).

For a total of $20, I have strawberry plants, blueberries and grapes thriving in pots and around my yard. The best part is that I can use that fruit to make Popsicles! (For my Popsicle DIY post, Click here.)

10. Price Shop From Home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today that make price comparison shopping from home a breeze. Gone are the days of driving from store to store or waiting for the Sunday Paper deals. Pull out the list you made of spring must-haves and start going through each item online and list where the best deal is, for that item. Once you've gone through your list, check the entire list for stores that overlap to save you a bundle on shipping and time. Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.

If you have any great tips, please leave a comment below, or join my Facebook discussion, here. 


This Star Wars Lightsaber Valentine Will Win Your Child's Heart And The Class Party

Last year, I made Star Wars Lightsaber Valentines for Ollie's class that teachers and a few parents complimented me on! They were pretty cool if I do say so myself, and super cheap to make! I thought I would share the idea for the other parents out there with Star Wars obsessed littles. 

I'm going to keep this short and sweet because this valentine is so easy, your child can help! Four simple steps. 

1. Find the Star Wars Valentines that suit you. I picked ours up at The Dollar Tree, but have seen them everywhere else! Look for a design that will be easy to incorporate a lightsaber. 

2. Have your child fill out the valentines. I know it can be annoyingly slow process having your child fill them all out, but chill out, this is a great learning opportunity and penmanship practice! 

3. Pick out red/yellow/blue/green glowsticks from the pack. Use those first. You can either crack them the day of the class Valentine exchange, or wait, and let the child crack the glow stick. The latter is my son's preference. 

4. Cut a small slit where you want the glowstick to slide in the card, and that's it.

There you have it, one trip to the Dollar Tree and the Super Cool Star Wars Lightsaber Valentine can be yours for under five bucks!


Valentines Day DIY Crafts and Treats #HappyValentinesDay

Can you believe Valentine's Day is almost here?! I'm still getting over Christmas.  In an effort to get in the Valentine's Day mood, I hit up Google and Pinterest for the latest and greatest 2020 Valentine's Day Treats and Cute Ideas.  I found a few too good not to share. 

Still a classic favorite of mine. This little gem is something anyone would love. Create the document in a Word program leaving room for those little fingers and toes.  

Print on a heavy paper stock. Then dip those tiny fingers and toes in non-toxic paint.

Or this... 
This one too. So easy and so cute! 


This is a classic, that you can do year after year. Fill grandma's garden perhaps?
Salt Dough Stepping Stones
This is so easy!
1 Cup of salt
1 Cup of Flour
1/2 Cup of Water
Roll out like dough then form into a heart.
Get those little toes and a butter knife!
Once the footprints are made, use a butter knife or thin end of a fork to PRESS in the letters,  DO DO NOT drag, letters will get screwed up.

Bake @ 200F (or 100C) for 3 hours. 
Once completely cool, paint and let dry.

Since so many of us have to make a class Valentine box, 

I thought I would remind you how easy it is. 

Three things: Old box. Wrapping paper, tape. 
Feeling wild, add your imagination to the mix...

Speaking of a class party, here's a cheap ad easy heart hat. 

TIP: forget the white plates. Use pink/red plates. (pictured above)

Feeling all crafty? Kick the heat up a notch or two.

Here's another great party idea, check out these super easy heart cupcakes.

Do a family dinner everyone will love! Heart-shaped Pizza!
     Roll out the dough, then shape into a heart. 

Wanna know the fastest way to your man's heart? 

Two words: Bacon Hearts

NOTHING says, I Love You, Man, like bacon hearts!

For perfect hearts, cut strips in half, then shape half a heart at a time. 

Speaking of guilty pleasures, you could always make a Cork Heart!
(I might have to do this. ON a smaller scale.)


And for desert, Rice crispie kisses!    


Or, maybe peanut butter cookie hearts.

But what I really want...


16 Valentine's Day Boxes That Will Win The School Party

To the first-time parents about to experience their first valentine's day class party, get ready. This is the holiday that requires the most parent involvement. My best advice is to start early. Waiting until the last minute to make the Valentine Box and the Valentines is No Bueno! Picture it: You up until 2 am making the box and signing your child's name on 25 class Valentines.

NOTE: If the idea of making Valentine's Day box makes your sphincter spasm, no worries go to Target and buy a ready-made box. Yes, they totally exist. I did that last year. This year, We're making the BB8 Trash can. I picked up the stuff at the Dollar Store. I'll post the tutorial asap.

If you feel adventurous and crafty, it's really easy to make the box, and your child will probably love making it with you. All you need is either a shoebox, cereal box or tissue box, construction paper and an imagination. Below are 16 super easy to recreate Party boxes to get you thinking.

To see the step-by-step tutorial for any of the boxes or to see more Valentine's Day box ideas, Check out my Valentine's Day Pinterest Board. 

The Archives