Entertaining infants and toddlers demands a lot of creativity. They move from one plaything to another in minutes—which usually requires us to keep coming up with new ideas.

As parents, we can get exhausted and let them play with whatever they get their hands on. No judgments—I've been guilty of that, too! My boys were born long before I became a pediatrician, and back then I let them play with most items within reach.

But June is National Safety Month, an ideal time to think about what common household items are truly safe for your little ones to play with—and what's not.


While there are certainly more unsafe household items than one short list could cover, here's a list of 8 items your little one definitely shouldn't be playing with, the dangers they can cause and safer alternatives.

1. Thermometer

Why children are attracted: Some kids love to hold items that have been used on them. Some thermometers also have blinking and beeping effects that are irresistible for your curious one.

What's the danger: Anything that contains button batteries tops my list of things NOT to give your child. Button batteries are extremely dangerous if swallowed as they can burn the feeding and breathing tube in a short period of time. Most thermometers contain button batteries and when these batteries fall out, your child may put them in their mouth.

What to do: Take it away completely. It's not a play option. You can consider colorful pretend doctor kits, most of which contain thermometers.

2. The remote control

Why children are attracted: Kids are naturally attracted to what their parents or older siblings have or use most. And anything that makes stuff happen as if by magic is a big draw for curious little minds. My daughter's interest in the remote control increased when she noticed it could turn our television on and off.

What's the danger: Most remotes function with small lithium button batteries and are unsafe for the same reasons as a thermometer. Also, some remote controls have small parts and buttons that may fall apart—especially when chewed on—and could possibly be swallowed. Kids are smart, so with a few bangs on the floor, they can pretty much tear a remote control apart.

What to do: Get them a child-friendly remote control, preferably one that doesn't use button batteries.

3. Your keys

Why children are attracted: Keys are shiny and make exciting noises when they're jangled. Plus, parents get really worked up when they go missing—for a baby, what's not to love?

What's the danger: Keys are made of brass and contain a small amount of lead. Although the amount of lead may not be high enough to cause injury immediately, lead poisoning affects kids developmentally. There are currently no federal standards regarding how much lead is safe in keys.

What to do: Get babies and toddlers their own toy plastic keys to gnaw on.

4. Pill bottles + containers

Why children are attracted: Kids are attracted to shiny items and small containers. Some are also curious about the sounds made by shaking pills in the container.

What's the danger: The risk of accidentally swallowing a pill or multiple pills is high. Although most pill containers are made to be child-safe, I've seen a few kids find a way to open them.

What to do: Invest in child-friendly, safe, colorful containers. Some have objects inside that make cool noises when babies shake them—look for rattles that contain noise makers that are too big to fall out when opened.

5. Straws

Why children are attracted: Older infants and toddlers love the idea of being able to sip with a straw. This is good for their development, especially when you are weaning them off a bottle. Straw cups can also help build lip, cheek and tongue strength.

What's the danger: The harm comes when a child engages in active playing such as jumping or running while they have a straw in their mouths. A straw (especially hard plastic or metal ones) can cause a cut inside the mouth if it pokes far back into the child's mouth or throat. Some injuries can be severe enough to damage an important blood supply.

What to do: Observe children while they use a straw and make sure they are not actively playing with a straw in the mouth. Teach children to put straw cups down before play.

6. Diaper rash cream or other creams

Why children are attracted: Babies may not be immediately attracted to a tube of diaper cream, but I've seen parents reach for any quick and easy consoling tool within range while struggling with an unruly diaper change. If a baby reaches for what's in your hand while being changed, you may just give the diaper cream tube to them to hold without a thought.

What's the danger: At this age, almost everything goes to the mouth first—then everywhere else. Your child can suck and chew on the tube till it's open and by the time you realize it, they may have swallowed a good amount of the content, which can be dangerous. The tube cap can also be choking risk if accidentally unscrewed.

What to do: Have safe toys at the ready for your baby to distract themselves with during a diaper change.

7. Coins

Why children are attracted: Coins are shiny and beautifully textured so young children are naturally interested in them. Older toddlers might also like holding coins and imagining they're "rich".

What's the danger: Coins are a choking hazard, which can quickly lead to obstruction and interfering with their airway.

What to do: Be sure to always store coins and other small items safely away. Consider buying a smart kid piggy bank that can help teach your child how to sort coins without danger. Look for toy banks with large coins that can't fit into the mouth.

8. Small brick sets

Why children are attracted: Small brick sets, popularly known as Legos, are a favorite in most homes. For younger children, the colors are fancy enough and the size is small enough that the bricks often head straight for the mouth. So while small building bricks are fascinating toys and an ideal engagement for older kids, if you have younger children in the mix like I do, you have to be careful.

What's the danger: Small items can cause choking in kids if swallowed, especially infants and toddlers. Also, some of the building bricks are small enough to fit in other holes—like the ears and nose.

What to do: Separate toys by age. Get a dedicated container to pack building bricks and other small toys into, and be sure it's a container that snaps shut or locks. Raising Dragons has some great ideas for DIY brick sorters, too. Always encourage older siblings to pack up once they are done playing with theirs.

Here's to hoping that you and your little ones stay safe.

Lace up your shoes: A baby on the move means a mama on the move!

Scooting, rolling, crawling—there is no denying that their increasing mobility makes your life a bit busier.

Gone are the days when your baby was content to hang out in one place to observe. And, really, who can blame them? With so much to discover, your curious little one's cognitive skills are booming along with their fine motor skills.

It's natural to feel as though everything revolves around your baby's schedule, wants and needs right now. But it's time for you to think of yourself, mama! Now is the perfect time to treat yourself to something that'll help you adjust to mom life. Maybe that's a cozy new outfit (perfect for Sunday morning snuggles), a product that streamlines your beauty routine, or something that'll motivate you to get back to regular workouts.

As you celebrate the 8-month mark, here are a few helpful items to toss in your shopping cart:

For a little jam session: Bright Starts safari beats

Sitting unassisted offers your baby an exciting new view of the world! Keep them encouraged as they build their sitting endurance with a toy that also introduces colors, musical sounds and more.


For safe exploring: Skip Hop playpen

Skip Hop playpen

When your baby constantly wants to play with mama, it can be nice to give yourself a breather. A spacious playpen is a lifesaver when you need to keep them in your sights while crossing some items off your to-do list.


Indestructible dinnerware: Cloud Island plate

cloud island

As your little one graduates from purees to more traditional dinner time fare, it's a nice time to introduce plates, bowls and cups—just not your grandma's breakable dish set.


Follow the leader: Skip Hop crawl toy

skip hop

It's a fact that remains true throughout life: Getting moving is easier with proper motivation. If your baby is this close to crawling, give them a bit of extra encouragement with a toy that begs to be chased around the room.


For keeping stairs off-limits: Toddleroo safety gate

Having a baby in the house certainly makes you look at things differently, like those stairs that now feel incredibly hazardous. On the flip side, since permitted people (like you!) will want to access the stairs regularly, it's helpful to have a gate that's easy to open with one hand.


For looking cute in your sleep: Stars Above short pajama set

Stars above

If you've spent the past few months sleeping in milk-stained pajamas, you are due for an upgrade, mama. We're willing to bet that a special someone in your life will approve of this cute set, too.


For supporting your ladies: Auden full-coverage t-shirt bra

t-shirt bra

Let's just call it like it is: Your breasts have been on quite a rollercoaster ever since that pregnancy test was positive. Whether you are nursing less frequently or exclusively bottle feeding now, you owe it to yourself to try out some bras that actually fit.


To cover up household odors: Project 62 3-wick candle

Project 62 candle

One of the quickest, best ways to refresh a space? A candle with your favorite scents. Take a moment to take a deep breath in and exhale any tension—ahh.


If you have to skip that shower: Living Proof dry shampoo

living proof

If a day of chasing after your baby means you have to pick between collapsing on the couch or taking a shower, just know we have zero judgment for the camp that goes with dry shampoo.


For the nap time hustle: Merrithew Soft Dumbbells

soft dumbbells

Running after and picking up your baby is a workout all on its own. But if you also like a little dedicated sweat time for your mental and physical health, a basic set of hand weights is a simple (yet super effective) way to ensure you can squeeze in those at-home workouts.


This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.


The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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