Hidden Gem: MAP Program At Greenwich Music House (the perfect pre-school option)

greenwhich music house MAPThe school days are almost upon us! NYC Public schools start next week, and while Aria is super excited about going to school, she also insists she wants to go back to her old school “with Miss. Lyra and Emy”.

Last year Aria attended the MAP (Music, Art & Play) at Greenwich Music house in the West Village. We had done the whole Nursery School application routine (alright, only really one place), but in the end decided on Greenwich Music House. In retrospect, I think it was one of the best things we could have done for her, and the program is definitely a hidden gem for west village parents.

Greenwich Music house offers a variety of programs for all ages, but the MAP program is perfect for 3 year olds, providing just what they need at that age. Art, music and play suits their age perfectly, stimulating their senses and creativity, but not overwhelming them (and it’s FUN — social skills develop too!).

We got a great variety of daily art projects sent home, seeing Aria’s creativity bloom (and I’m convinced today she’s such a good drawer in part because of this). We also saw our little one grasp onto music, finding confidence in her voice and embracing all different kinds of instruments and her own musicality.

The building is a charming brownstone, a warm loving environment that is safe and contained, and also boasts a sweet outdoor garden for them to play. Many a day, Aria did not want to leave after wrapping up with the daily, “It’s time to go now,” Goodbye Song.

MAP program greenwich music house nyc pre kLearning also extended beyond the brick and mortar of the school. The kids had a variety of field trips and outings, serving the community with a holiday sing-along at a local senior center, and taking advantage of the cultural playground that is NYC (see photo from a Very Young People’s concert at Merkin Hall).

Finally, and most importantly, the teachers are WONDERFUL. I can’t say enough good things about their care, which definitely eases an anxious parent who may be leaving their child in another’s care for the first time. Both Ms. Lyra and Ms. Emy are extremely capable, loving and caring, and very communicative with parents– providing email newsletters on what the little ones are up to, and always being open and welcoming to all.

The program is offered half days (mornings) for up to 5 days a week. We loved the flexibility of it, not having to commit to 5 days, but setting up times that worked with our lifestyle and our child. That being said, if you’re a NYC mom or dad of a toddler who’s looking for a GREAT nursery option this fall, check out Greenwich Music House. I promise you won’t be disappointed (except when it’s time to go!)

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Product Review: Dubble Trubble Organic Bath Products

We’ve graduated from using solely baby shampoos, and now bubbles and fun scents are in demand when Aria’s in the tub. I recently received a line of bath products called Dubble Trubble that contains certified organic ingredients and comes in fun fruity scents (like bananaberry and cool cucumber). It also creates bubbly suds in the tub (a must these days!).

dubble trubble line

Dubble Trubble is put out by Galvin & Galvin London Kids, a company founded by UK hair stylist (and dad) Daniel Galvin Jr.  Galvin started focusing on the little ones after he had a son of his own, and wanted a shampoo for him that didn’t have harsh chemicals. Following that Dubble Trubble was born– a line that is completely free of harsh chemicals, parabens, SLS and mineral oils. There are still a few preservatives in there (some long words in the list of ingredients!), but fortunately the line highlights natural organic ingredients and botanical extracts.

What I really love about the line is they are extremely eco-friendly and also give a percentage of sales to charity (The Prince Of Wales Foundation). Also, it’s very affordable (retailing at just $4.99 at Target) and comes in super cute packaging. Galvin & Galvin London Kids also makes a hair de-tangler that I can’t wait to try (yes, we’re at that stage!). For more info go to DubbleTubble.com. 

 

Product Review: Brica Roll n Go Car Seat Transporter

UnknownScreen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.32.09 PMSo, we just returned from sunny Florida (sigh) and even though I forgot this travel item this trip, I’ve been meaning to review it for a bit. We’ve been traveling with Aria since she was only a few months old, and  on our last big trip (Switzerland, Dubai, Milan) this item came in super handy.

Dragging a car seat through the airport is never fun, and the Brica Roll N Go allows you to strap the car seat to it and essentially roll your child through the airports. It eliminates the need to have a stroller along (side-note– in Dubai airport Emirates has courtesy Maclarens available for passengers which I think is genius), and avoids you having to carry the car seat separately. We found it VERY handy in large international airports when we had long walks and customs lines (and one jet lagged toddler). Aria basically went back to sleep in her seat and we pulled her along.

It’s relatively easy to hook up the car seat to The Brica Roll-n-Go, although I will say that the base is somewhat small and at times I felt like the seat might be more secure on a larger base like the Britax version.  It’s also lightweight enough and packs easily into the overhead compartment on board.

I bought mine last minute at Babies-R-Us here in the city, but was also looking for the  GoGo BabyZ  Seat Luggage Strap option (which I couldn’t find in store). It’s cheaper and may be more convenient (although I can’t attest to it’s sturdiness & security) since it’s a single strap to store away.  I also just saw this Kids Luggage Travel Chair product on Shark Tank last night and am thinking it will be a good option as she gets older and loses the car seat all together.  Happy Travels!20140204_153344

Bye Bye Paci… or maybe not… (Difrax pacifiers to the rescue)

PacifiersAria loves her pacifier. Yes, we have been saved by the little suckers, but now it’s a bit of a curse considering she can’t seem to live without them. We were recently told by the dentist she should be giving up the habit, but like all addictions it’s not going to be easy. Fortunately, we have been weening her off of them (only for sleeping now or when mommy wants a quiet car ride), but there is no way this child is giving them up… not without a fight.

That’s why I was thrilled to find out about a pacifier that was designed to help encourage your child to give them up. Can you believe a company actually made that? No repeat customers there! Well, in fact it’s genius because I’ve found out (after lots of mom talk and googling) that I’m not the only mom trying to break up their child’s first serious relationship.

The Difrax 3-Stage Pacifier was introduced to me a while back, and as soon as I heard about it I thought we must have one. I had bought a MAM orthodontic pacifier in Duane Reade prior to getting the Difrax.  MAM also is supposed to be better for jaw and teeth development and claims to be recommended and developed by dentists, but I loved that the Difrax 18 + months has similar benefits and also is supposed to ween your child off (or encourage them to give up) their pacifier.

I was concerned when I first gave Aria the new Difrax pacifier. It’s more solid and stiff than most and she had been a bit of a pacifier snob, but after not getting her beloved Avent back, she seemed to accept the Difrax and now is very happy with them. So happy in fact, that I have to wonder if they are actually encouraging her to give up the habit. She may be the exception because so far she still seems hooked. At least I am comforted by the fact that the orthodontic model is supposed to be better for her jaw development and help with the orthodontics. Baby steps I guess.

Follow Up: I just discovered that Difrax also has a FREE E-BOOK on their website that is a 15 day stop plan to help little ones give up the pacifier.  Downloading now!

 

Road Trip: 7 Essentials For Baby In The Car

car ride essentials toddlerSo, riding in the car with baby/toddler is not always the easiest of experiences. Unlike a lot of NYC dwellers, we actually are in the car quite often.  Our recent road trip to Saratoga (a 3+hour ride) made me realize some things that were downright essential!

1) The Perfect Car Seat:  Ok, so there may not be a perfect seat, but some are better than others. For our infant car seat, I went with the Graco Snug Ride. It is safe, lightweight, versatile (fits in the snap and go travel system which is key for travel) and has an adjustable shade (essential). I didn’t like it’s infant insert, and definitely recommend buying one like this to keep baby snug and comfortable. When it was time, we also bought Aria a convertible (front facing) seat. She actually has a couple different ones but by far her favorite is the Britax she has in Oma’s car. It’s extra cushy and she sits higher which allows her to see out the window better.

2) Window shades: I can’t tell you how essential these are to keep the sun out of the baby’s eyes and off baby’s face. UV rays can still filter through window so these shades protect and keep your baby comfortable. I first bought the White Hot Safety Shade by Munchkin, but they totally don’t stick well or cover as much window area as my second (and much better) purchase by Safety1st. 

3) A Mirror (when still rear facing): A mirror allows you to look into your rear view and see you little one’s face. Some argue it can be a distraction, but I think a quick glance is much better than trying to bend behind the seat to check in on baby.

4) Tunes: Baby’s love music. One mom friend gave me a baby’s CD as a gift and said it’s “like crack”, meaning her baby was totally addicted and instantly gratified.  Aria too chills out when her tunes get on (not to mention now she asks for “Muffin Man” the second she gets in the car). My mom gave me CD of baby songs early on and I was like, “hells no, we’re not listening to that all trip,” but that quickly changed when I realized Hickory, Dickory, Dock is much better than a screaming baby.

5) Entertainment: Small books, stuffed animals and even soft little dangling toys for infants do make a difference. Now that Aria’s a toddler (and obsessed with Barney) I’ve also been guilty of passing back the iPhone when super desperate for a peaceful ride.

6) Snacks:  Again, some people would say this was a big no no (choking hazards), but, if you choose the right snacks (bottles, pureed fruit pouches, puffs that dissolve in their mouth, etc), I can attest that it makes for a much easier time.

7) Pacifier:  Again, a “love em or hate em” for many parents.  For us they’re  a lifesaver quite often (and I’ve cursed myself the times I’ve realized I’ve left the house without one). Aria def prefers Avent.