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Archive for September, 2007

Another recall – this time it’s cribs

Breaking news ILLUS.jpgCheck your crib. Graco and Simplicity recalled a million cribs today, after three babies became wedged in a gap in the crib and died of suffocation. In all three cases, families had installed the drop-down side of the crib upside down. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says they’ve received reports of 7 similar, but non-fatal cases, and 55 instances in which the drop-down side detached or the hardware failed. Parents need to check their cribs immediately and make sure the drop-down side was attached right side up – check the CPSC photos so you know what to look for and what to do next. Questions? Call Simplicity at 888-593-9274 or visiting
- Jackie Burrell

Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

Croup making the rounds

Doctor's bagI am not a doctor, so if your kid is sick call your pediatrician for medical advice, BUT I’ve spent enough hours (and dollars) at Kaiser the past two months that I think they should at least give me an honorary medical degree or something.

I had to take my 3-year-old in today after almost having to call an ambulance at 5 a.m. when he woke up unable to breathe he was so congested. My doctor, running an hour behind with no hope of catching up, diagnosed him with croup and said she’s suddenly seeing a virtual epidemic of this viral illness making the rounds.

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Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots, Health & Safety | No Comments »

Weird baby products

helmetMost of the bizarre baby product pitches we get are so very, very bizarre, we don’t even bother to mention them to you – like the Phillips baby monitor that calls your cell phone when baby cries (urban myth? we’re not sure), the toddler toupees or the strange hand-shaped pillows that hold your child so you don’t have to. Look up – a dorky helmet to protect your tot’s head 24 hours a day? Why?? And anise- and coriander-flavored milk to encourage lactation? Ewww. Our Oreos are going to taste ghastly dunked in that.

But this one, we don’t know what to do with…

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Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots, Just Bizarre | No Comments »

Recalled lunchboxes and school headlines

lunchboxCalifornia’s state public health department just recalled the 350,000 new lunchboxes it gave impoverished families this year. Seems the director of the department found out in July that the Chinese-made boxes contained lead, and notified agencies who’d been distributing them. But he didn’t make a public announcement or notify parents who’d picked them up at local health and children’s fairs until yesterday. All together now: slap your forehead in disbelief and scream, “What the-?” Please, if you picked up a lunchbox at any county-sponsored fair or health event and it reads “eat fruits and vegetables and be more active,” dump it. Sigh. In happier news, Mattel didn’t recall any more toys this morning.

Now, a quick wrap-up on this week’s school headlines: Berkeley students are protesting on behalf of the “Jena 6,” six Louisiana teens involved in a racially-charged trial…

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Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
Under: Toy Recalls | No Comments »

Want your tween daughter to be a superstar?

superstarDream Life Superstar — the TV-plug game that turns little girls into a movie star, diva, fashion designer, sports star or reality TV show star. Gut reaction: You’ve got to be kidding? The role playing game for tweens promises to let your daughter “dream big, live it up, be famous.” She can record in a sound studio, walk the red carpet, visit a spa, pick out a trophy pet and partake of fabulous celebrity activities. Does that mean our kids also get to endure the paparazzi, dance drunken on a bar table and make fools of themselves the way Britney Spears and Hilary Duff do?

Forgive me for being so strait-laced, but I prefer my child learn to emulate teachers, parents, doctors, scientists and the like. Yes, every kid loves to play make believe. But in this age of bad-behaving divas, distorted body images and TV-warping reality, I couldn’t in good conscience encourage any young girl to imagine being a celebrity.
In the spirit of being open-minded, however, I’d like to hear from a parent willing to try out this game with their daughter. The first person to e-mail me will receive the game free. All you have to do is try it out, write and tell us what you thought and then you can keep the game (or give it away if you’re not impressed).
Ann Tatko-Peterson

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

Flying with toddlers? Get in line!

planeOh noooooo! Having boarded four separate flights with a squirmy one-year-old last month, I can only wail in dismay in response to this story:

One of the privileges of parenthood is getting to be one of the first to board airplanes. But from now on the kids and their car-seat carriers will have to wait, at least if they fly on Southwest.

The airline said Wednesday that it’s tweaking its “open seating” policy, assigning boarding numbers – but not assigned seats – to passengers. It also plans to eliminate the practice of letting families board first. Starting Oct. 2, families who don’t hold the coveted “A” boarding passes will have to wait until passengers in that group have been seated – that’s the first 60 seats.

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Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Under: Family Travel | No Comments »

Fab five for the weekend

applesFall’s a bustling time as every city and park tries to squeeze in just one more warm-weather festival or open air concert. We’ll see if the weather cooperates this weekend, but here’s a list of fab five family outings, some indoors and some out:

1) Make cider, bob for apples and play old-time games at Livermore’s annual Apple Fest. Saturday at 2 p.m. at Ravenswood historic site, 2647 Arroyo Road.

2) The annual Walnut Festival brings a ferris wheel, rides, games and a giant King Nut to Walnut Creek’s Heather Farm this weekend.

3) There’s Balinese music and dance at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens with Gamelan Sekar Jaya…

4) Fantasy play for tots at Berkeley’s Habitot.

5) Or head over to the Oakland Museum to stroll through the Gold Rush and natural science exhibits, and the contemporary totem pole gallery too – the totem poles were made by Oakland teens.
-Jackie Burrell

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2007
Under: Fab Five, Family Outings | No Comments »

Kid Nation a mixed bag, for this parent

kidnationTV critic Chuck Barney gets partial credit for my television viewing habits tonight. I’ve been one of the loudest opponents of CBS’ new reality show, “Kid Nation,” which puts 40 kids in a New Mexico ghost town for 40 days without parental supervision. But as Chuck pointed out earlier this week, I was among the critics “slamming a TV show, sight unseen.” So, I decided to tune in.

Admittedly, I had preconceived notions. Everything about this screamed exploitation of kids, starting with CBS calling them “participants” instead of employees, even though these kids were sometimes filmed 16 hours a day. Most alarming was the contract in which parents essentially waived away their kids’ rights – and seeing the show tonight did little to lower that red flag. That said, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. In fact, some things surprised me.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Under: Kid Nation | No Comments »

Holistic moms

Veggie babyLooking for a group of like-minded moms? There are thriving mothers’ clubs all over the Bay Area, and more pop up all the time. Here’s one with a different spin. The Holistic Moms Network is launching an East Bay chapter with monthly meetings on such topics as natural first aid for babies and growing up organic. Interested? They’re holding an open house for prospective members on Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Upaya Center for Well Being, 478 Santa Clara Ave. in Oakland.
- Jackie Burrell

Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

Kid Nation vs. Sex in the City for teens

GOSSIP GIRLBetween the debut of “Kid Nation” – 40 kids building their own society in the Wild West – and the launch of sexy “Gossip Girl” (pictured above, courtesy of the CW) tonight should be a hot one for parents. We’ve been listening to colleagues Ann Tatko-Peterson and Chuck Barney weigh in on the Kid Nation conceit – Ann was horrified by the contracts parents signed that gave up all oversight of their children’s safety to a bunch of money-grubbing television producers, while TV critic Chuck is taking a wait-and-see approach. And the Times’ parent poll, which asks the question “Would you let your kids do this?” is running 72 percent against. So now we’re really curious…which is exactly what CBS intended.

As for “Gossip Girl,” the series is based on Cecily von Ziegesar’s popular YA novels that young tweens started snatching up a few years ago. Apparently, their parents saw the nice pastel covers and didn’t bother peeking inside or even reading the jacket blurbs, which called it “Sex and the City” for the teen set. And sexy it is, but what’s more concerning is the amount of alcohol the sexy teen prepsters blithely consume in the pilot episode tonight – champagne, limoncello, and vodka – with little in the way of consequences…

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Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
Under: Gossip Girl, Kid Nation | No Comments »