Which tablet to buy for your kid: These are the best right now


Kids are device-hungry nuts these days. Seriously, WTF happened to Sesame Street and a book before bedtime? But we digress.

Technology has changed a lot since you were small. Your kids have probably mastered the features on your iPhone better than you have due to constantly asking to play with it. And when you do eventually get it back, it’s a sticky mess covered in slobber and other unexplainable slimes. But in the age of touch screens and constant connectivity, there’s not really a way to say “no” without feeling like a parent from the dark ages. Even the animals in Zootopia have smartphones. (Seriously.) Read more…

More about Ipad, Tablets, Parenting, Fire Tablet, and Mashable Shopping

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Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet

Amazon has outdone themselves with an ultra durable version of the Fire HD Tablet that can take whatever kids throw at it.

Resolution: 1280 x 800

Storage: 32 GB

Battery life: 12 hours

$129.99 from Amazon

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9.7-inch iPad

Apple's most affordable option has computer-like features and will likely last for your kid's whole school career.

Storage: 32 GB, 128 GB

Resolution: 2048 x 1536

Battery life: 10 hours

$249 from Amazon

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Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet

Energetic kids are no match for the new Fire 7's improved protective case and Amazon's worry-free guarantee.

Resolution: 1024 x 600

Storage: 16 GB

Battery life: 7 hours

$99.99 from Amazon

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iPad Air

Consider it the diet iPad Pro: The 2019 Air is speedy and packed with power that lasts all day.

Storage: 64 GB, 256 GB

Battery life: 10 hours

Resolution: 1920 x 1080

$499 from Amazon

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Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1

Kids will love the interactive learning in Kids Mode and parents will love having a totally separate interface.

Storage: 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB

Resolution: 1920 x 1200

Battery life: 10 hours

$229.99 from Amazon

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Samsung Galaxy Tab E Lite Kids Edition

Ideal for parents who want to watch kids' behavior like a hawk, *without* the kids feeling restricted.

Storage: 8 GB

Resolution: 1024 x 600

Battery life: 9 hours

$127.99 from Amazon

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LeapFrog LeapPad Ultimate

Large icons, specially curated-for-kids internet access, and a shatterproof screen makes this great for kids 6 and under.

Storage: 8 GB

Resolution: 1024 x 600

Battery life: 5 hours

$99.99 from Amazon

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IMAGE: Walmart


Kurio Xtreme Next Tablet

A decent amount of pre-downloaded content and parental controls for balling on a budget.

Storage: 16 GB

Resolution: 1024 x 600

Battery life: 6 hours

$79 from Walmart

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Best Father’s Day gifts: 40 unique and surprising gift ideas


Father figures come in many different forms — whether biologically related to you or not. All it takes is having someone who cares for you and acts as a role model to guide you through the trials and tribulations of life. 

If you’re shopping for a Father’s Day gift for the paternal figure in your life, but don’t want to stick to anything traditional or safe, keep reading.

Not all dads enjoy the typical Father’s Day gifts — some are more eccentric and appreciate things that are a bit more outside the box. For those types of dads, you need to get them something truly unique and special, which we can totally help you with. (Looking for something on the cheaper side? Check out these recommendations instead.) Read more…

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Best last-minute Mother’s Day gifts


Still haven’t gotten mom a Mother’s Day gift, huh? Yeah, turns out that “busy being the perfect child” isn’t an excuse for not getting your mom a present.

Here’s your “oh shit” warning that the big day is May 12. The cutesy personalized gifts from Etsy that take four weeks to ship are out of the question. You’re going to need something that can ship out fast. 

SEE ALSO: Best gifts for mom that are less than $50

Every gift that we’ve listed below has free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime or Walmart — or it’s a subscription and doesn’t have to be shipped at all. Making a big purchase for mom (like a tablet or expensive robot vacuum) would typically require some research on your part, but you don’t exactly have time for that. We made sure to pick the best-of-the-best brands that mom is guaranteed to recognize and love. Read more…

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Mouth Taping for Good Health in Kids and Adults

Mouth Taping for Good Health in Kids and Adults

What would you think if I told you that braces, asthma medication, decongestants, ADHD medications, and even CPAP machines could be replaced by a simple $2 roll of tape?

No, it’s not actually the tape that’s solving the problems, it’s just training you into the habit of nose breathing and out of the habit of mouth breathing.

Nose breathing is our natural way of breathing, with mouth breathing being part of our emergency ‘fight or flight’ system. Mouth breathing even triggers a fight or flight response on its own. Our modern culture contributes to the mouth breathing habit in a few ways.

First, our culture is higher stress than that of our ancestors, and stress triggers mouth breathing.  Inversely, mouth breathing also triggers a stress response, creating a loop.  Second, low-grade inflammation, chemical irritants, and mild allergies often result in chronic plugged noses. And the owners of these plugged noses often get in the habit of mouth breathing to get the air in.

Once again, your body, when encouraged to work properly through diet and lifestyle changes, is very capable. Little changes in our lifestyle add up to big changes in our overall health. In this case, it’s that we are too often breathing through our mouths, especially during sleep.

Mouths are for talking and eating, noses are for breathing

When we breathe in and out through our nose, we are using the normal pathway for air.  Irritants are caught immediately in our nose.  The air is warmed in our nose before hitting our lungs.

Different parts of the brain are oxygenated in different concentrations with nose breathing.  In contrast, mouth breathing encourages the high-anxiety fight-or-flight response and alters brain chemistry. (source)

Tape to encourage nose breathing:

Somnifix is specially designed for mouth taping, and it may be a good way to introduce yourself to tape the mouth. But at around 50 cents/night for their specialty tape, most of us have chosen to use regular medical tape instead.
3M Micropore tape is widely recommended for its less-sticky adhesive that leaves little residue the next day.  This tape works for many people, but some are allergic to the adhesive.
Hypoallergenic silk tape is what we ended up using due to an allergy to the adhesive on the micropore tape.

Other ways to encourage nose breathing:

Running a warm mist humidifier helps keep airways open.
Practicing nose breathing and closed mouth posture (tongue resting on the top of the mouth)  during the day.
Mindfully practicing nose breathing during exercise.
Keeping stress low to keep the body out of fight or flight response.

Mouth breathing is associated with:

Cavities, due to dry mouth
Narrow palate, requiring braces and/or removal of teeth (source, source)
Change in facial development including a smaller chin (source)
Poor quality sleep (including thrashing, snoring, and waking up grumpy)
Attention deficit during the day (source)
Allergic rhinitis (source)
Thyroid and adrenal function, due to reduced nitric oxide (source)
Increased stress response including the fight/flight response (source)
Sensory processing issues, especially oral defensiveness
Learning disabilities, due to poor quality sleep and lack of nitric oxide in the brain (source)

Is more oxygen always better?

Just like food and water, it is possible to get too much oxygen to different parts of the brain.  In the case of mouth breathing, it is shown that breathing through the mouth over oxygenates the prefrontal cortex, which causes a ‘fatigue’.

The prefrontal cortex, which also is one of the main parts of the brain affected by alcohol (source), is responsible for such things as self control, emotional regulation, personality, and delayed gratification (source).

Our results suggest that continued oxygen load on the prefrontal cortex from mouth breathing during the waking hours is one possible cause of ADHD arising from central fatigue.

Source: Increased oxygen load in the prefrontal cortex from mouth breathing: a vector-based near-infrared spectroscopy study 

Nasal breathing increases Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that is produced at least 10% more when we breathe through our noses.

The discovery within the paranasal sinuses for the production of nitric oxide (NO) has altered the traditional explanations of sinus physiology… healthy paranasal sinus epithelium expresses an inducible NO synthase that continuously generates large amounts of NO, a pluripotent gaseous messenger with potent vasodilating, and antimicrobial activity.  (source)

Nitric oxide is important for pulmonary (lung) function, and not having enough of it is associated with cardiac problems, increased cancer risk and cancer progression, poor wound healing, asthma, and more  (source).

Continuous and regulated generation of NO is essential for the health of the cardiovascular system, immune and nervous system. Decreased production and/or bioavailability of NO is recognized as being one of the earliest events in the onset and progression of many diseases. – Nitric oxide enhancement strategies

This paper discusses the necessity of nitric oxide in pulmonary function and how those who are intubated miss out on this important compound.

Dental and Orthodontia problems

As Dr. Weston Price found,  good oral health (avoiding cavities and having straight teeth) is much more of a holistic problem than just genetics, brushing, flossing, and needing braces.

Dr Mark Burhenne, DDS, talks about mouth taping, mouth breathing, and its effects on oral health in this podcast.

“Mouth breathing changes the hemodynamics of blood flow in your body and brain. It causes dry mouth which can lead to more cavities, bad breath, coated tongue, yellow tongue, or geographic tongue.

It can cause or aggravate gum disease, make you snore more and is involved in sleep apnea. If you are a mouth breather as a child, it changes how your face and airway develop and effects how you sleep for the rest of your life. Mouth breathing lessens the amount of nitric oxide that is created. It impacts the humidity of the lungs.”

From the High Intensity Health Podcast, click the link to read the rest of the show notes or listen.


This study used a nasal dilator, not mouth tape, but showed that with nasal breathing episodes of nocturnal asthma was significantly reduced.  The study showed decreased usage of asthma medication with nasal breathing as well.

This study, though, showed no improvement in asthma symptoms in the 50 patients that had active asthma.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea and snoring both can be helped by nose breathing rather than mouth breathing. This is due to both the increased nitric oxide and the lessened airway resistance with nose breathing in sleep. Both of those processes work together to help sleep apnea sufferers get a better night’s sleep.

This switch from nasal to oral breathing is disadvantageous physiologically and mouth breathing is associated with a reduction of the retropalatal and retroglossal areas and it lengthens the pharyngeal airway as a result of further posterior retraction of the tongue, which might result in elevation of Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) during sleep. (source)

This small study found, “Upper airway resistance during sleep and the propensity to obstructive sleep apnoea are significantly lower while breathing nasally rather than orally.”

This paper talks about the $5 device Nozovent, which manually opens the nose to encourage nose breathing, “It has also been shown to result in a decrease of the sleep apnoea index and improvement of arterial oxygen saturation during sleep apnoea.”

This small study of 30 people shows improvement with mouth taping in those with mild obstructive sleep apnea and open mouth breathing.

This study showed that humidifying the air encouraged nose-breathing and in turn reduced apenic episodes.

Interestingly, nasal surgery to encourage nose breathing through the removal or polyps or correction in those with obstructive sleep apnea has been explored, and the results have not been consistently helpful for sleep apnea, though they have helped with subjective ‘tiredness’ and snoring (source).  To me it looks like encouraging nasal breathing by taping the mouth and humidifying the air are more sure-fire, and clearly less invasive, options for sleep apnea treatment.

Please remember: Sleep apnea is a serious condition and you should work closely with your doctor before modifying any of your treatments.

How to mouth tape for kids:

I have three different children with three different temperaments. This is how we tape their mouths to encourage nose breathing.

Tape to encourage nose breathing:

Somnifix is specially designed for mouth taping, and it may be a good way to introduce yourself to tape the mouth. But at around 50 cents/night for their specialty tape, most of us have chosen to use regular medical tape instead.
Hypoallergenic silk tape is what we ended up using due to an allergy to the adhesive on the micropore tape.

Encourage kids to DIY

My middle child, age 10, (up at the top, also my carnivore baby) gets a kick out of my health experiments and willingly does up his own mouth tape every night, and it’s still on every morning.

He seems to be in a better mood most mornings, but I haven’t seen any drastic difference with him.

Sneaky tape

My oldest, age 12, is my child that has special needs and thrashes around at night and sleeps with an open mouth more than the other two.

She does not like to go to sleep with tape on her mouth, but I can usually sneak in and stick one piece from top to bottom after she falls asleep but before I go to bed.  While I quickly put the tape on, she briefly wakes up and rolls over without fussing. She does take the tape off sometime later (before morning), but I know she’s keeping it on for at least an hour, and she lays more still and I don’t hear snoring when she has it on.

I also will tape her mouth when she’s watching TV (like I do for my littlest) if I notice open-mouth posture. But for the most part she will self-correct to avoid the tape, which is ideal!

She gets dark circles with sleep deprivation, and these circles have seemed to lighten.  Of note: Dark circles are also signs of an allergy (most commonly dairy).  I do think that the mouth tape is helping her sleep quality improve.

Daytime Tape for Littles

My littlest is almost 5, but I don’t quite feel comfortable with his mouth being taped closed when I’m asleep.  He has pretty good closed-mouth breathing when I check on him at night anyway, but to continue encouraging nose breathing I tape him for an hour or so at a time during the day. He doesn’t nap, so ‘quiet time’ or screen time is a good time for this.

Of all my children, my little is the most chatty, so using a movie helps encourage compliance- if the tape comes off, the movie goes off. I haven’t noticed anything specific with him, but I’d like to encourage the nose-breathing habit.

For adults:

To tape my mouth, I simply put a strip of tape on before going to bed.  Using the minimum amount necessary to remind yourself to keep your mouth closed vs to seal the mouth can help avoid feeling claustrophobic.

Stories of Mouth Taping:

Just Take a Bite talks about taping her adorable daughter’s mouth, among other things to encourage nose breathing, to widen the palate, heal adrenals, reduce picky eating, and increase attention during the day.
Beverly Meyer, of On Diet and Health, tapes her mouth for deeper sleep, less snoring, for asthma and allergies, for a more calm mind and body, and to increase nitric oxide production.
Alex Fergus tapes his mouth closed for deeper sleep and to prevent dry mouth associated with mouth breathing.




The post Mouth Taping for Good Health in Kids and Adults appeared first on Health, Home, & Happiness.

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My Naturally Carnivore Toddler (a Child-Led Weaning Story)

Beautiful Babies Nutrition Course

It’s story time… with the rising popularity of the carnivore diet I know there will be parents wondering if this is an okay diet for children. While I wouldn’t recommend limiting your child to only animal foods, I do have a child who self-limited to nearly all animal foods (carnivore) as a toddler and absolutely thrived.

Back in 2009, when we started the GAPS diet for autism recovery, I had my preschooler with autism and a nursling 2 years younger.

As we transitioned onto GAPS, I made GAPS food for all of us, so that meant that as the little boy started solids, he went right onto the GAPS intro diet, which essentially is soup and meat and more soup.

My Beautiful Baby Boy, 16 months

Because I was a maxed out mama, and I knew that GAPS was plenty nutrient dense, he pretty much only had access to nursing + GAPS foods as he started solid foods.  I also was only serving 3 meals a day (no snacks), because, once again, I was pretty overwhelmed with life.   I now know that not serving snacks is a fantastic way to prevent picky eating, but at the time it was because I could only wrap my head around cooking/serving/cleaning up 3 times a day.

Meat meat meat

Anyway, this little boy LOVED his meat. He cut teeth on beef ribs, and would cheer when he saw the cod liver oil coming.  Pureed soup made with chicken stock (drank from my coffee cup) was a favorite as well.

And, more than that, though I’d serve both kids a serving of vegetables, meat, and a fruit if we weren’t doing ‘Keto GAPS‘, half way through their plates (above), the kids would get up and trade spots.

When they traded, my daughter had barely touched her meat, and my son had not touched his vegetables. Then they finished the other’s vegetables and meat until it was all gone.

Naturally, they gravitated to meat for my son, and vegetables for my daughter.

Again, I think that I just *didn’t care* because I had so much other stuff going on in my life really contributed to them being able to follow their instincts for what they needed on any given day.

Young toddlers will make healthy choices

Because I had read a study (source) about how, when given access to only nutrient dense foods, young children will choose what they need for optimal growth and development I wasn’t too worried.

I was kind of fascinated by the whole process, with my children begging for cod liver oil and happily eating patties of meat and cultured sauerkraut by the bowl.

Self-Selecting Carnivore Toddler Food

Looking back, our meals were pretty simple, these are most of the foods that he ate. Remember, I did put fruit and vegetables (especially ferments) on his plate, and he just opted out of eating them for the most part. At the time we didn’t eat shellfish or pork, so he ate mostly chicken and beef.

Hamburger patties (we ate a lot of those! We had purchased a huge quantity of grassfed ground beef at a steep discount that year)
Meatballs (I did sneak the veggies in there)
Scrambled eggs
Chicken or beef stock from my coffee cup (he loved the salt!)
Chicken thighs with the skin on
Beef ribs
The meat from around beef marrow bones (osso bucco)
Liver, both cooked with onions and as a pate that he would eat with a spoon, given the chance
Cod Liver Oil 
Fresh caught trout
Salmon Patties
Later into toddlerhood: Plain 24-hour yogurt (we were mostly dairy free when we first started autism recovery)
Raw milk
Breast milk

Growth & Immune Systems

Both children were growing (we were on WIC – a food assistance program for young children-  at the time, with quarterly weight checks) and had amazing immune systems; it’s a story for another time… but when I tried to get them life-long immunity to chicken pox, it was quite the ordeal to actually get their immune systems to let them catch it!

Occasional Vegetables

This boy wasn’t completely carnivore, as he loved sauerkraut, and peeled onions cooked in chicken stock (which you might recognize from GAPS Intro day 3, start at 23:40 for the recipe), but the majority of his diet came from human milk (me! my olders were slow to wean) and M-E-A-T.

As you can see from the picture to the right, he has now turned into a strapping young man.

Together we are excited to share the encouragement that just offering your children nutrient dense foods is enough.

Between him avoiding vegetables, and my daughter avoiding protein for many meals, I was seriously questioning whether my grand nutrition experiment would work at the time.

But you can benefit from my small case study by knowing that they did indeed grow into healthy vibrant children.

Note about child-directed feeding:

I do allow my young toddlers to choose from the nutrient-dense food that I offer, at set meal times.  To accommodate growth spurts, I still nurse at-will at wakeup and sleep times.  For us, this looked like 4 nursing sessions a day, another in the middle of the night*, and 3 meals.  As they cut back on nursing sessions, we just keep the 3 meals a day.

*I’ve always relied on a 3 a.m. feed to keep my milk production up.  I made plenty of milk to feed my babies, but I noticed that my production would go down if my little ones skipped their night nursing session. Sleeping through without nursing was never a priority for me. 

As toddlers develop into preschoolers and wean, I transition more into a parent-led approach, with the kids being allowed to ask for seconds of whatever they want after finishing what I put on their plate.  I put small portions of each a vegetable, protein, and fat on their plate to start.

Young vs older children

Young toddlers are operating nearly completely out of instinct, and if they are in a ‘healthy food bubble’ where they have never tasted sugar or refined carbohydrates, they most likely will choose what they need.

As they become more strong willed (this is developmentally appropriate as their brain develops!) and notice all the other food-like products out there the growing children usually benefit from a parent-led approach to eating.

You can see more of my picky-eating prevention or solution protocol to keep parents sane and kids eating (even if they have sensory issues) in the free Picky Eating Solution webinar.

The post My Naturally Carnivore Toddler (a Child-Led Weaning Story) appeared first on Health, Home, & Happiness.

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ADHD: It’s More Than Just Too Much Sugar and Screen Time (the root is in the gut)

The ADHD gut connection

ADHD is one of the most polarizing health topics.  Hyperactivity or inattention (ADD) have been blamed on too many electronics, lack of consistency in parenting, just boys being boys, too much structured time in the classroom, not enough structure at home, food additives, or just a normal part of childhood.

Brain Rewiring & Technology

With everything becoming increasingly ‘on demand’, there are more options for us to consider and sift through than ever before.

Studies have shown that frequent internet users can rewire how their brain processes information, which involves switching between topics more frequently and retaining less, in as little as 5 days (source).

This Time article explains, “Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.”

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Consider shopping… When I was growing up, my parents left us with a sitter one evening before Christmas, hit the mall and Toys R Us, and hauled the shiny packages home in the back of their navy blue Jeep. A doll, a truck, a new outfit, and jewelry for Grandma. They chose between 4-5 options where today on Amazon we’re choosing between dozens and dozens of very similar products.

We need to be able to filter and select quickly.

Have you ever watched someone from the older generation online shop for a home appliance? It’s often an all-day event.  Ads/clickbait are clicked on, every web page is read in its entirety, and a notebook or pad of paper often makes its appearance next to the computer to keep everything organized.

This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s also not something that we can generally sustain for every decision that we need to make, so we’ve adapted.

Those of us who have been using the internet for most of our adult lives probably have a nearly automatic selection process that looks something like this:

Google ‘cordless vacuum reviews’
Scan the first page of Google, automatically ignoring the ‘Ad’ listings at the top.
Click on a review website that we’ve heard of before and we know not to be scammy.
Scan the website and jump to the price range we’re looking for.
See 2-3 vacuums in our price range that we want to compare prices for.
Copy and paste the model number, and paste that into Amazon, Overstock and maybe one other reputable website.
Quickly scan those three websites for the three things we’re looking for: Price, shipping speed, and warranty/returns process.
Choose the best for our needs, and complete checkout.

Though I wrote that in 8 steps, there were about 3-5 different ‘changes in attention’ for each of those steps. Is this ADD? Is this causing ADD? or has our brain adapted to efficiently use technology?

I would argue that this is a functional change that we’ve conditioned our brain to do.  After all, we probably completed these steps in less time than I would take to drive to one store and look at one vacuum model, and we’ll probably have found a better value as well.

So is ADD a natural thing?

No. A disorder is characterized by something that impacts your quality of life in a negative way, to the point that it interferes with your daily activities.

It is useful for us to scan a dozen Amazon listings for a similar toy and pick out the lowest price/highest rating item in under 30 seconds.  But similarly, it is NOT useful for us to not complete a needed task (like schoolwork, or organizing our belongings so that we can find them easily) because we can’t concentrate long enough to get it done.

Is there more to the rise of ADD and ADHD than just more technology being used in the house and less outside time? Yes.

But a missing piece, and likely a large part of the root issue, is the gut-brain connection.

When the body is healthy, we self regulate well

When we’re healthy we can self regulate.  If we’re overstimulated, or antsy, or have watched too much TV, a healthy body will crave the opposite – a walk in nature, the TV turned off, or a book rather than checking Facebook for the 925th time that day.

Just as a healthy person tends to choose healthy foods, a healthy person will also choose to limit media consumption, and to get energy out in healthy ways.

This is why some people are so adamantly pro-self-regulation with media, and why others insist that their children need strict structure when it comes to media.  My children fall on the side of needing more structure, I personally don’t have a problem leaving my smartphone in my purse, but I do turn the wifi off if I notice I’m using the email/facebook/pinterest/email loop to procrastinate writing, much like I would have moved from the kitchen to my bedroom while doing homework in elementary school.

Being able to self regulate, concentrate in the middle of distractions, and have impulse control is the sign of a well-functioning body and mind.

It’s not just genetics, the mind-body and even gut-brain connection plays a huge part.  Yes, I’m saying that your DIGESTION affects your IMPULSE CONTROL.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is characterized by inability to focus, hyperactivity, impulse control issues and inattention.  Children with ADD or ADHD often have trouble with schoolwork, with behavior in the classroom, getting long with other children, and paying attention to instruction.

ADHD does not always present with the classic hyperactivity, but rather some children may appear calm on the outside but not be able to pay attention to what’s being said during instructions.

Scientists are not sure what the cause of ADHD is, though studies including twins may show a genetic component.


What are the conventional treatments for ADHD?


Medications as treatment for ADD and ADHD are on the rise, being prescribed for children as young as age 3.  Before automatically judging parents and doctors for prescribing children medication, realize that this is usually after lots of thought and behavioral programs. When children can’t attend to instruction, or control impulses, it affects their ability to learn.

I hope that by starting to understand the gut-brain-impulse connection, some of these children are able to come off medications, heal, and learn as they were designed to.

Medications are usually stimulants, such as:


Side effects from stimulant medications like these include:

Decreased appetite
Sleep problems
Personality changes such as appearing ‘flat’ or without emotion
Increased risk of strokes, cardiovascular problems in children already at risk
Increased risk of psychiatric problems such as hallucinations in children already at risk

None of these treatments are thought to cure ADD or ADHD, but rather to just manage the symptoms.

Being on a medication with side effects like these should never be a long-term solution unless all other options have been exhausted.

Why is digestion and gut health so important?

Our gut, where we digest food, keep most of our immune system, and is even home to brain tissue, is much more important than most people realize.

The gut normally is populated with a hefty balance of good gut flora (microorganisms – yeasts, fungi, and bacteria).  It normally is healthy tissue with intestinal villi that work with the gut flora to extract nutrients needed from food, and pass them through the gut wall into the blood stream. These villi move food along the digestive tract, break it into smaller pieces so that nutrients can be extracted, and secrete enzymes needed to break down food (source).

The bacteria in our gut line the gut walls, and actually pre-digest our food for us. They line our guts to prevent food from being passed through the gut walls without first being broken down sufficiently. This gut flora is also a large part of our immune system.

When our gut is unhealthy, the flora in our gut is not protecting food from being passed through, vitamins and minerals are not able to be extracted properly from food, the body is unable to detoxify normally, and the immune system is not functioning as it should.

Lastly, the pathogenic bacteria, which aren’t kept in check by the good bacteria, send out chemical signals as part of their metabolic process through the gut wall, into the bloodstream, and then make it to the brain.

This combination of chemical signals making their way to the brain from pathogenic bacteria and lack of nutrients being adequately absorbed in the gut are a horrible combination for a developing brain.  

The ‘side effects’ of a gut healing diet?

This is what I’ve seen – these ‘good side effects’ show me that rather than further harming my body in attempt to solve one problem,we’re actually bringing everything into a balance, and the body is functioning like it should.

Eliminating picky eating
Food allergies eliminated
Seasonal allergies lessened
Better sleep
Better growth

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

Other places that a gut-healing diet has seen to help ADHD:

Robb Wolf: ADHD: Not a Ritalin Deficiency
The Paleo Mama: What is Causing the Rise in ADHD? 
Evolutionary Psychiatry: Food Elimination and ADHD
Study: Gluten free diet, Celiac, and ADHD

How to start balancing the gut to calm ADHD

First, I would look at sensory solutions to some of the behavior and impulse problems.  Can sitting on an exercise ball help this child to focus? How about running laps rather than being put in time out for impulse issues?  See more about sensory issues here – this is a non-medication tool that can help focus and calm children starting immediately, while we work to clean up the gut.

Next, we need to make healthy changes to our homes and reduce our toxic load – these are pretty basic steps but can make a big difference. Click here to get a free printable checklist for a 30-day plan to get this started in simple steps

Third, we try an elimination diet. It’s so common that removing foods that often are allergy-causing, inflammation-causing, and cause a leaky gut.

Elimination Diet & Balancing Gut Flora

Removing dairy and/or gluten will most often relieve symptoms drastically.  And then we can work our way back to really healing our gut with the GAPS diet. (click here for more information on working backwards to the GAPS diet)

Then once we are stabilized and eliminating common allergens from our diet, we can work on restoring gut flora balance and healing the gut. Most importantly, we clean up the gut.  (click here for the GAPS intro diet for gut healing and sealing)

Probiotics can help, be sure to go slow – we’ll be introducing these beneficial bacteria, which will in turn kill off the bad ones – when this happens we can experience a rush of symptoms, so it’s important to go slowly (these are the probiotics that I use)

When the gut flora is balanced, we should crave healthy food, have a stable mood, and feel nourished.

Depending on your symptoms, you may be able to modify this protocol and still see great results; possibly just removing gluten, any known allergens (often eggs, wheat, or dairy), and increasing probiotics for a time.

How did this work for us?

While we haven’t specifically had ADD or ADHD, my daughter used to be on the autism spectrum and struggled with attention and impulsiveness (and still does to some extent). Some people think that ADD and ADHD both fall on the very mild end of the autism spectrum, and I tend to agree with them.

When we are taking care of the gut by removing inflammatory foods and adding probiotics back in, I do notice a huge issue in her impulse control. When we deal with die off, from too many of the pathogenic bacteria being killed at once (see more about die off here), I tend to see the impulsivity come start to come back.

This is always an indicator to me that something if off in her diet or sensory-wise, whether we need to be taking probiotics slower, do more detox baths, or make sure we’re getting enough fresh air.

My son, I do believe that he has normal little-boy energy and I don’t notice a difference with this when he’s on the GAPS diet or not. He has the ability to pay attention in the classroom, but also craves lots of outside time, challenges like climbing, and other behaviors that some might think are ADD-like but I believe are developmentally appropriate.

I share this just to let you know that a dietary change will not automatically make your child eager to sit still and read books for hours at a time – some children naturally are like that, some children need more activity to grow and develop, this is all within the range of normal.

GAPS and Calmness

The GAPS diet isn’t like a tranquilizer or a pill that numbs your energy or mind, but rather it gives you back normal consistent calm energy.  For young boys this variety or normal may be different than what our culture would prefer.

It’s really amazing to me to see the difference that a dietary change can make – many families find the calmness and quality of life achieved by dietary changes to be worth the initial lifestyle change.

And the health habits are a life long gift that we give our children.

Related posts:

Amino Acids for Mood Help

How to make gut-healing broth cubes

There’s a War in Your Gut! (explain the microbe-mood connection to kids)

Why Sensory Integration May Be Causing Your Child’s Meltdowns

30+ Sensory-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas for Children

More posts in this series:

Behavioral Problems? Skin Conditions? Low Immune System? It’s What We’re Feeding Them!

Eczema: Is the Root Cause in the Gut?

The Gut-Flora and PICKY EATING Connection

Anxiety: Why It’s All in Your Gut, Not Your Head


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Wax Paper Autumn Leaf ‘Stained Glass’ (Easy and Beautiful Natural Fall Craft for Preschoolers)

Wax Paper Autumn Leaf ‘Stained Glass’ (Easy and Beautiful Natural Fall Craft for Preschoolers)

This fall craft is simple enough for even less-crafty families, makes good use of the treasure of leaves your little one collects on autumn walks, and looks absolutely beautiful in the light of a window. All you need to do this is about half an hour, waxed paper, leaves, and glue!

We tape our waxed paper leaf ‘stained glass’ over a front-facing window for a little more privacy as the days get shorter, but this leaf craft will bring seasonal warmth into any window you choose.

Craft Traditions

Working with toddlers and preschoolers, I learned that while adults may get bored doing the same thing over and over, children absolutely delight in the repetitivity of doing the same activity day after day, or year after year. Adults enjoy some repetition as well, that’s why traditions are part of every culture.   This craft is our fall tradition.

To keep our traditions fun, and not obligations, we keep them very simple!  Remember, our children don’t care how elaborate the craft is, they enjoy the process and spending time with us. If you love elaborate crafts, you may want to take some time to yourself to do those as a form of self care.

Another tradition: Dairy-Free Creamy Hot Cocoa (GAPS, Paleo)

The love of repetition, and delight in the simple is especially true with our preschool and toddler age groups, though even older children often shyly join in for the story time, or seasonal crafts like this one.

Read similar: 12 Gifts that Encourage Healthy Independence for Toddlers

Working memory and repetitive activities

For children with special needs that have problems with processing or short term memory, or adults with neurological conditions that affect memory, you may find that they can tap into long-term memory better than short term memory. In addition to those with special needs (especially developmental delays, and alzheimer’s) that impair memory, preschool-age children are still developing their capacity for working memory. (source)

For these individuals, they may find it easier to carry out a craft that they did last year, or have done many of the previous years, than be able to implement a new craft – even if you are right there telling them what to do. It’s because they’re drawing from long-term memory, not ‘working’ or short-term memory.

Fall Wax Paper Leaf Craft

This craft is a yearly favorite that we repeat with each season.


Besides fall leaves, we use the same method with tissue paper stars and ‘tree ornaments’ for winter, and hearts for Valentine’s day.  Sometimes we even do shamrocks for St Patrick’s day and snowflakes with glitter for January! 

First, gather leaves and press to flatten between the pages of a large book.

While you may want to pick the most pinterest-perfect leaves in their vibrant fall colors, do not be surprised if your children are amazed at the leaf that is crinkly and turning brown, or the half-eaten green leaf that the caterpillar visited.  They all make beautiful crafts!

 After gathering leaves, allow to dry if they are rain or dew covered.
Next, tuck the dry leaves between pages of a large book, not overlapping. There is a chance that they will rot, rather than dry cleanly, so choose a book that is already ‘well loved’ or you aren’t going to be bothered if it gets discolored- like a telephone book.
Once the leaves are tucked into the book, you can add more books to the top to weigh it down even further.  I use a cutting board and a kettlebell to weigh mine down.
Leave the leaves pressed in the book for at least an hour.
To preserve the color of the leaves, you will want to press them until they are completely dry; about 3 weeks. In reality, we ‘press’ them until they’re flat, about 2 hours. They will discolor a bit in our window display, but we re-make these year after year, and it doesn’t bother me that they turn colors a little bit.
After pressing

Once your leaves are pressed, or at least flat, tear out 2-foot sections of waxed paper.
Using glue sticks (we used disappearing purple), or watered down white glue, cover the waxed paper.  The white glue may bead up a little bit, this is okay.
Place your leaves on your paper, next to each other and slightly (but not completely) overlapping. Try to keep all parts of the leaves on the paper/glue.
Cover a second sheet of waxed paper, similar size with glue and press, glue side down, over the top of the leaves. Hold the waxed paper (as long as it’s not too drippy) up in the window at this point and admire your work!
Allow to dry, trim off rough edges, and tape to the window where desired.
Optional step: You can make a construction paper ‘frame’ for your leaf ‘stained glass’, and glue the waxed paper part in as the ‘glass’.  Then it can be hole-punched at the top and hung, rather than taped, in the window for a more finished look.

More crafts:

Homemade Playsilks Made With Food Dye

Make a Waldorf Doll for Infants

Make a Wool Felt Birthday Crown

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Family Camping Etiquette at Campgrounds

Toddler in tent

This is a continuation of our Down and Dirty Guide to Family Tent Camping!

Among first-time campers, it’s tempting to think this is a time to be free and let the kids finally run wild, taking some relaxation for yourself. This can be inconsiderate of others, it’s important to teach children to be respectful. 

Here are some guidelines so that you’re able to enjoy the great outdoors, and everyone else can too. 

Campsite Etiquette

Campsites are a shared space, and a great place to help children learn to read a new situation and behave in a way that is appropriate, fun, and still considerate of others. 

Just as we teach kids to stay on the trail to prevent erosion, not pick the last wild flower so everyone can enjoy, and absolutely not litter, noise pollution is also important to avoid.

Children who are in tune with others can simply be encouraged to observe what other people are doing, think about why they may be doing it that way, and ask if they aren’t sure of something.

For children with black-and-white thinking, you may need to have specific ‘camping rules’.  This can also be called scripting. This is helpful for spectrum-y kids and preschoolers.  This might be a little advanced for most toddlers, which other campers nearly always are very forgiving of. 

For example, if the children have learned that yelling and ‘outside voices’ are appropriate for the playground, new rules may be that we need to use walkie-talkies to talk to each other in normal talking voices, or only use inside voices at all time because our voices carry across the lake.  You can make this into a game, or just matter-of-fact spell out the rules. 

In general, this is acceptable:

Laughing, giggling, talking- just try not to crowd where other campers are reading or doing another quiet activity.
Big groups being a little louder. (tip: when reserving a campsite, look to make sure it’s not near  group campsite if you would like quiet 🙂 )
A little more noise during a game, especially if you include other campers.
Toddlers squealing with delight, or periodic fussing/shrieking.
Babies and toddlers crying/fussing/protesting for 10ish minutes as they go down for a nap/to sleep.
Occasional laughing and raising voices around a campfire.
Kids doing ‘happy yells/screams’ when catching a fish, falling into the lake, win at Uno etc.
Dogs that bark excitedly as they wait for you to throw a stick, during daytime hours.
Asking your campsite neighbors if they have a spare of whatever you forgot (I forgot everything for lighting a fire last time! Friendly neighbors gave me a healthy supply of strike-anywhere matches).

In general, this is not acceptable:

Shouting from raft to raft across a lake to other people, unless it’s a small campground and all the camper kids are out there and involved in the middle of the afternoon. Camping can really bond people together, especially if you go the same dates and to the same place year to year.
Rowdy/noisy games before 9 am or after 7 pm.
Dogs that bark at every squirrel, passer by, or creaking branch.
Making noise or throwing rocks where people are fishing.
Electronics (the radio, a tablet that can be heard from another campsite).  We typically don’t go outside and sleep on the ground to hear the top 40 radio station 😉 This may change if you’re in a popular ‘party spot’. 
Bright lanterns that will shine through someone else’s tent when you’re on the way to the bathroom or ruin their night vision if they are out without a flashlight.  Use a small flashlight and point it at the ground.
Driving fast so that dust kicks up on the roads where people are walking – drive slow not only to avoid hitting wildlife, but also to avoid creating your own personal dust storm.

Campsite Rule Enforcement

Children who do not follow the noise rules for me usually sit in the car with me until there is a better understanding (car on and AC on if it’s hot) The car buffers the sound in case this interruption causes an increase in noise 😉 For children who have a hard time with impulse control, starting with day trips and trail/fishing etiquette a few hours at a time can help.

For some kids, a movie in the car or tent on a tablet (I know, probably not the camping trip you had in mind… but working up to being media free is okay!) is a needed break once a day. Just make sure you’re the one who is in charge of the movie (I’m going to put on Dory for you after lunch and you can lay in the back of the car with the windows open for a break), or you may end up with whiney kids who just want to sit in the car and watch movies the whole time. 

The children are not in charge, it is too much responsibility to ask most preschoolers or toddlers to self-regulate electronics.

Some scripts:

When we are camping, we use quiet voices because we do not want to disturb others that are reading/fishing/etc.

When we are on a trail, we use quiet voices so we can hear all the birds chirping and sounds of nature. People enjoy these sounds, and we want them to be able to hear them.  Can you hear a bird? The wind in the trees? 

When we are on a boat, we are careful not to drop things against the bottom, since it spooks the fish and the people fishing can’t catch them.

When we are near people who are fishing, we do not throw rocks in the water. We look for a place away from people who are fishing to throw rocks, or we wait until the middle of the day when fishing isn’t good anyway.

Do you see how thin the tent is? Our voices go right through it and into the next tent! So it is important to be so so quiet and whisper to me at night if you have something to say.

In general, campers are forgiving if  they see you are trying to teach your children to be respectful. Children with obvious disabilities, babies, and toddlers are afforded quite a bit of grace.  Parents are expected to steer rock-throwing toddlers away from fishing spots, and out of other campsites, though.

Assume good intentions with others is key

You also get to enjoy your space. Again, it is a shared space, and it’s unreasonable to think that you will have the same solitude as if you were in the middle of the forest on your own. But it’s also okay to politely request someone keeps their noise down.  Using ‘sandwich statements’ of a positive – negative – positive, along with I statements can go a long way.  Again, campers are generally great people who may get carried away, especially when alcohol is involved.

Asking a group to keep it quiet after 10, someone to keep their kids from running right through your campsite, or a group to stop swearing is completely appropriate and okay to request.

Also, moving or ignoring as much as possible is the way to be a good camping neighbor as well.

Usually there will be a camp host, where you can bring any major concerns (huge parties, crazy campfires that are about to burn down the entire place, etc).

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Simple, Successful, and Fun Family Tent Camping

Toddler in tent

Tent camping has been the great adventure of this summer, which my children have been talking about since we reserved a spot 6 months ago.

I grew up camping, and being out in nature, away from cell reception and wifi is really how I love to spend my time.

When camping with children, it’s time to check our expectations – camping, especially tent camping, is more of a ‘team building’ exercise than a relaxing one. But the payoff is SO worth it!  We all love it, and come home exhausted, smelling like campfire, and with tons of much-loved memories.

Camping Expectations

Growing up, if we had a camping trip planned we were *doing it* rain or shine.  There were many a muddy, sloppy, and maybe somewhat miserable Memorial Day camping trips.  Memories are made whether the weather is good or bad (looking back I have great memories of this!) but for this mama, I now know when to cut my losses, stop the struggle, and throw everything in the car. We camp close to home for this reason, and are lucky to live in an area where this is an option.

Pre-kids, I was able to put up with an impressive amount of discomfort in a strong-willed desire to ‘stay out in the woods until I absolutely have to go back to work’. Bugs, rain, snow (!), sleeping in the truck, forgetting coffee (!), etc were all acceptable discomforts. This continued though having one baby… but once she got older and another arrived, I have turned into a fair-weather camper without regret.

After a night of my baby sleeping fine, but me not sleeping at all because I was convinced my 3-month-old would freeze to death, I decided no more camping until my kids were bigger and we took a break from camping with nurslings.  As I said above, the only difference between camping pre-kids and camping with my first was bringing clothes, diapers, and a baby carrier for her… but once more kids were added it was exponentially harder. So we took a break for a while, shattering my ego-driven ‘nothing will change when I have kids, I’ll figure it out’ and creating more realistic expectations.

Camp Sites With Water Are The Way to Go

With kids, I choose populated camp sites so that I don’t have to carry bear spray as I make dinner, and there is help if I need a jump or something like that. We also like sites that have running water and are right up against a water source.  With my kids in lifejackets if the water is deep and within sight, they can throw rocks into the lake, build a dam in the creek, dig in the dirt, and ‘adventure’.

Water is essential for much of my children’s outdoor play, and if the camp site isn’t right up against water, it’s hard to prepare food and clean up without giving into pleading to go to a river/lake.  If this happens, I find we blow through all our packaged food quickly, and really – tiny stomachs don’t do so well  and camping burnout quickly ensues with daily meals of jerky, nuts, and water. 

If you’re camping near a creek or river and have young children, don’t go when the snow just melted and the river is rushing.  A fast river is dangerous even for children that can swim, and it’s not worth the stress.  If it’s bug season, try not to camp near stagnant water, or you’ll be eaten alive.

My best camping tips:

A solar shower is hard to take a shower under (we like to think that swimming and ample use of deodorant keeps us fresh), but it’s perfect for having slightly warm water to wash hands before eating. 

Two tubs for washing, plus a wash cloth, scrubber, dish soap and 2-3 dishtowels is something the whole family can get involved with.

Keeping camping meals simple is the best way to start unless elaborate camping is really your thing. Trying to cook an elaborate meal is a recipe for burnout when camping with young (hungry) children.  See these videos below on camping meal prep and camping meals as I cook them.

Camp Stoves & Coffee

Instant coffee and a camp stove that can heat water quickly makes quick work of coffee. I’ve never been able to get the ‘camping percolators’ to do anything but gritty watery coffee-like liquid. Cold brew is a valid option as well, just pre-make ahead of time.

Nothing fills my heart more than hot coffee, a beautiful lake in the morning light, and sleepy children emerging from a tent still smelling like campfire and excited for the day. Setting up a campfire (which may be damp from the night) in the morning is not my favorite and takes a surprisingly long time.  Then the fire has to be extinguished before going on the day’s adventures.

You won’t do much… 

…more than cook, clean up, and then cook again. That’s just how camping food with kids works! Even if your meals are simple, the necessity to wash dishes after each meal and heat water on the stove and then wash in tubs draws out this process. Rather than wish you could get more done, this is a great time to put into practice what we learned in Chop Wood Carry Water and embrace the primal simplicity of this rhythm.

Our typical day

Our typical day when camping has us waking up around 8 (this year my kids sleep well camping!), breakfast gets started right away and is ready by 8:30, cleaned up by 9. Then we fish a little, or go out on the paddle board, or hang out whatever got wet the night before.

Lunch usually has less cleanup involved but still takes about an hour start to finish. If it’s cold, we’ll fish again, or gather firewood and start a fire mid afternoon. If it’s warm, this is great swimming and paddle boarding time.

We aim for our normal 5:30 dinner hour, and if we’re cooking over the fire we try to start the fire by 4:30 so it’s ready in time. Dinner is cleaned up by 6:00 and we sit around the campfire until 7.  Then we start cleaning the site up to prepare for nighttime, and putting the kids who need to go to bed earlier to bed.

Camping Sleep & Energy Expectations:

Children will refuse to nap, have a hard time going to sleep, and be up with the sun.  For this reason, we keep our camping trips short, and fairly close to home.

We schedule our biggest ‘adventure’ for the second day when excitement can still propel little hikers, and more calm simple activities for days when everyone is more tired.

Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em

Afternoon thunder storms can provide an exciting break in the tent with littles napping or older kids playing Uno.  All-day rain with active toddlers is going to be hard. Even a beautiful sunny day the 4th day of camping with children who haven’t slept well the entire time is a recipe for meltdowns.  It’s okay to leave early. 

Sometimes we reserve a campsite for one more night longer than we’re actually planning on staying just so we can be there the whole next day. Then we go home for an easy dinner, bath, and bed in our own beds rather than staying one more night.

Camping Toys

Recreational equipment, again, is something that I prefer to keep simple. Rather than half a dozen rafts and water play toys, I try to really focus on what my kids LOVE and play with again and again. This will look different for everyone. For a short trip I will bring one thing (sand toys, the paddle board, OR fishing equipment).

This is what we like:

Paddle board- we all share one. With 3 kids on there at the same time it’s a considerable amount of teamwork to go anywhere, and taking turns isn’t horrible either.
Life jackets, even for swimmers, give peace of mind.
Small children’s kayak – watching my three kids pile on and nearly sink (it’s unsinkable) the kayak provides hours of entertainment for us all.
Extra small paddles don’t take up much room, but a $12 paddle is what the kids really want (control!) and they take up way less space and cost way less than an additional kayak or paddle board.
A bucket and shovel for each kid – sturdy over novelty.
Simple squirt guns (the kind that you put in the water, and then pull back to handle to fill) are popular and entertaining, especially among toddlers who first learn how to use them.
Fishing equipment if you like to fish.  Seeing the tip of your pole twitch is the ultimate dopamine hit 😉

For around the campsite, in the tent, and for the car ride:

Each child can pack a backpack (it must zip!) full of non-electronic toys.  Choose a smaller backpack if you feel your kids bring too much 😉
Uno, Go Fish, or an age appropriate card game for afternoon thunder storms.
Frisbee, football, ladder golf, or some kind of active game that is quiet and you do with friends you make at the campsite.
Bikes are fun in campgrounds if you have room to bring them. Show the kids the loop they’re allowed to go on (most campgrounds are made of a few loops).

The post Simple, Successful, and Fun Family Tent Camping appeared first on Health, Home, & Happiness.

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Parents surprise FaceTime friends with their first meeting, and it’s too much


The internet has connected us in ways we never thought possible, allowing people who would’ve never met to create long-lasting friendships. Unfortunately, distance is a bitter reality and often those internet friendships are screen-only. 

SEE ALSO: Delightful water-filled glove is the internet’s best son

Redditor core330 and his best friend have daughters the same age. The two introduced them on FaceTime four years ago, and since then, they’ve been best friend. Unfortunately, the two  were separated by a 7 hour distance, and were never able to meet IRL.

But without their knowledge, the dads decided to plan a surprise visit and captured the girls meeting for the very first time.  Read more…

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