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About John Thompson

Here are my most recent posts

Toys still tops for tots, figures reveal

Despite the large amount of media coverage given to lead-tainted playthings over the past year, new data reveals that American families have not been dissuaded from buying toys.

Figures from market researchers NPD Group show that the number of households purchasing toys grew by two percent during 2007, up from 105 million to 107 million.

According to the research, 100 percent of families with kids aged six and under bought at least one toy last year, a statistic that may not surprise dads with small children.

However, 88 percent of households without any children present also made such a purchase. Anita Frazier, industry analyst at the NPD Group, said this finding "shows just how broad the appeal of toys actually is".

"Few industries are as widely penetrated in the lives of US families as are toys," she added.

In mid-2007, toy safety issues dominated the headlines, with Mattel recalling almost one million products due to high lead content and 18 million more due to the potential danger of the high-powered magnets they contained.

Warning about kids’ consumption of sugary drinks

Parents who purchase fruit punches and sports drinks that claim to have health benefits may want to think again, the findings of a new study suggest.

Researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has risen significantly over the past ten years, raising concerns about how this trend is affecting obesity levels in the US.

The team said that kids who consume sugary drinks take in an average of 356 extra calories each day, which can affect both weight gain and energy levels.

Dr Steven Gortmaker, co-author of the study, warned: "Parents can be easily misled by the labels on fruit punch and sports drink bottles because they make these sugar-sweetened beverages seem essential for good health."

Instead, he added, they are "nothing more than different forms of sugar water". The data indicates that consumption of sports drinks among children has trebled over the past decade.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children up to six years old should drink no more than six ounces of fruit juice per day, while those aged seven to 18 should not consumer more than 12 ounces.

Moms’ Encouragement Matters to Dads, Research Says

Fathers who receive encouragement from their partners are more likely to get involved in day-to-day childcare than those who face criticism, a new study reveals.

Researchers at Ohio State University interviewed 97 sets of parents-to-be about their beliefs regarding fathers as caregivers.

Then, once the babies were born, they followed up by tracking mothers’ reactions to their partners’ parenting behaviors, logging how many hours each parent spends with their child and videotaping their familial interaction.

In addition to the conclusion that supportive mothers lead to more involved fathers, the study discovered that even dads who intended to play an active role in childcare did not do so if their partner was judgmental.

The team said this was the first piece of research to focus on the level of encouragement given by moms as a factor in a father’s engagement in childcare.

“Mothers can be very encouraging to fathers, and open the gate to their involvement in childcare or be very critical and close the gate,” commented Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study.

Previous research published in the journal Family Process found that men who valued their partners’ household contributions were more likely to take an active role when raising children.

Indiana Jones for a new generation

After nineteen years out of the saddle, swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones is back in a film that should appeal to movie-goers of all ages.

Harrison Ford has donned his fedora once more for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is set in 1957 at the start of the cold war, 19 years after we last saw our hero fighting the Nazis in The Last Crusade.

This time, Indy is battling the Soviets in an adventure that takes him from the Nevada desert to the jungles of Peru, in search of a mysterious lost kingdom.

Accompanied by his new sidekick Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) the intrepid explorer sets out to find the famed Crystal Skill of Akator, dodging Cate Blanchett’s Russian agent Irina Spalko along the way.

Despite concerns that Harrison Ford’s advanced years (he’s 66) could tarnish this action-packed film, it manages to live up to the expectations of the army of Indiana Jones fans.

Ford is as charming as ever in the role, while Cate Blanchett hams it up perfectly as a clipped Soviet agent. There’s also a love interest in the form of Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), who first appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Kids will love this classic adventure story, while dads who were fans of the original Indy films are sure to enjoy taking a trip down memory lane.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released nationwide yesterday and is rated PG-13.

Dentists offer parenting advice

Despite the stickers and lollipops on offer, persuading children to visit the dentist can sometime be a difficult task for parents.

In order to help moms and dads with this issue, the Chicago Dental Society recently polled over 300 dentists and collated their parenting advice, State Point Media reported.

Among the parenting skills mentioned when it comes to dental visits is the recommendation that parents should try and play down the importance of a visit to the dentist and not build up fears before going.

One of the main things they can also do is to begin taking their son or daughter to the dentist from an early age. The dentists questioned suggested six months – or around the time when the child’s first tooth appears – as a good time.

In addition, parents could find it useful to distract their kids with toys, cartoons or coloring books while in the waiting room to keep them calm.

However, the key thing mentioned by dentists was the importance of parents themselves relaxing, so that their children do not pick up on their anxiety.

When it comes to other aspects of their child’s oral care, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should also try to make tooth-brushing a "fun" experience in order to encourage their kids to get into good habits.