MyChildCareGuide Blog

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The Importance of Daily Feedback from a Daycare Provider February 26, 2014


Daycare Center

Childcare Center

Child care, daycare and preschool environments should be an enjoyable, educational and safe place for children in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Hialeah and Tallahassee.  To be sure that the childcare, day care or preschool is a safe and healthy environment, you should request a meet and greet with the director before your child’s first day of care.  Be sure to go over the childcare provider’s policy and procedures on discipline, toilet training, nap time, meals and safety.  Also, ask what is expected of you.  For a check list of items to discuss with a childcare provider, visit and under the Parents tab, click “touring the facility” and “meeting the director”. It is always a good idea to check references too. See our “references check list” for good questions to ask when calling references.

As a parent, you should expect daily feedback from your preschool, day care or childcare center in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Hialeah or Tallahassee.

  •  Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Hialeah, Tallahassee child care centers   should supply you with their policies and procedure handbook.
  • Make sure you understand what their protocol is for drop off and pick up your child.  What is their policy when your child becomes sick? What are their rules and necessary paperwork for who is allowed to pick up your child from daycare.
  •  You should ask the childcare provider which staff members will be attending to your child while in their care. Plan to introduce yourself and get to know the teacher. Share a little information about your child’ personality or special needs so they have a better understanding of your child’s behavior and personality. Be pleasant and polite to the teacher and ask if you can speak to them from time to time about your child’s behavior, needs or their assessments.
  • Childcare, day care or preschool providers should provide you with daily feedback upon pick up of your child.  This feedback should include; How your child’s mood was throughout the day? Did they eat well? Was there any problems? Did they get along with the other children? Did they take a nap and for how long? Did they appear happy, sad, frustrated or other? Were they injured or hurt throughout the day? If so, were you notified? Request a copy of the incident form. This should always be provided to you.
  • Your provider should provide you with information about important events; any school closings, any change of hours, new staff, field trips, guest speakers, special activities or anything that is different from an average day at the center.
  • A daycare, preschool or childcare provider should give you feedback on your child’s development on a monthly basis.  They should explain how your child is doing and mention interests, dislikes or concerns about your child if they recognize any.
  • Be sure to find time to stay in good communication with your childcare, daycare or preschool provider. Whether it be a quick chat during drop off or pick up or whether it be a telephone call weekly or through email communication.
  • You can expect your provider to discuss problems or issues directly with you and together work to resolve all problems or special needs.
  • You are responsible for helping your provider understand your child likes, dislike, things that upset them or typical expectations of behavior.  Many providers have a form to complete so parents can share this information with them about their child.  If your child is experiencing any changes in their routine – for example, sleeping, eating, allergies or other, be sure to share this with your provider immediately.

The Child & Dependent Care Expenses Tax Credit March 2, 2011

It’s tax time again and if you have a child (12 years or younger) that is enrolled in daycare, childcare, preschool or afterschool care so that you can work or search for employment, you may be eligible for a tax credit under The Child & Dependent Care Expenses Tax Credit.

The IRS requires that you meet the following requirements to be eligible for this tax credit;

• The care must have been provided so that you (or your spouse) could work or search for employment. (This qualification rules out “stay-at-home moms.”)

• The qualifying dependent must not have provided more than half of their own support.

• The qualifying dependent must have lived with you for more than half of the tax year.

• You (or your spouse) must have earned income from wages, salaries, tips, other taxable employee compensation, or net earnings from self- employment.

• Your filing status cannot be “married filing separately.”

You can claim up to $3,000 for one dependent and up to $6,000 for two dependents.

If you are meet the above requirements, complete the IRS form 2441. This form must be attached to your 1040, 1040A or 1040NR.

For more information, go to


Are your child’s bathroom products toxic? April 5, 2009

shampoo-and-conditioner4As parents, I think many of us are so busy caught up in our daily activities and routine that we go into robot mode and sometimes don’t realize that the products we could be using could be harmful to us or our children.  The FDA has the big job of regulating the safety of personal products sold in the United States but currently, the FDA does not require companies to test products before selling them or disclose the use of harmful contaminants in our products. Most of us are not chemists so we do not know what the ingredients are on our child’s bubble bath, shampoos or lotions but we assume that they are safe.  Here is some information for you that may help you decide what products to buy for you and your family and which ones to avoid.

The two most concerning chemicals that are found in many of our children’s bath products are; Dioxane and Formaldehyde. You most likely will not find them listed on your bottle of shampoo, lotion or other products but you will find them listed in the manner below.  Dioxane is a known eye and respiratory tract irritant as well as a Group 2B Carcinogen, which means that it is classified as a probable carcinogenic in humans because it is a known carcinogen in tested animals.  Formaldehyde can cause allergies and is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA and already has been banned from the cosmetics industry in other countries (Europe, Sweden, and Japan).

Ingredients likely to be contaminated with 1, 4 Dioxane

·         Peg-100 Stearate

·         Sodium Laureth Sulfate

·         Polyethelene

·         Ceteareth-20

Ingredients likely to be contaminated with Formaldehyde

·         Quaternium-15

·         DMDM hydantoin

·         Imidazolidinyl urea

·         Diazolidinyl urea

·         Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate

Of the products tested by an independent consumer organization (Environmental Working Group), some of the top offenders of Dioxane and/or Formaldehyde in children’s products are; Bath and Body Works, The Body Shop, SpongeBob Square Pants Bubble Bath, Neutrogena, L’Oreal Kids, Dora Bubble Bath, CVS Foam Bath, Caress Bath & Shower, Calgon, Baby Magic, Huggies Clean time Bath Wash Johnson and Johnson and Avon Kids.  You can quickly check the products you’re using by visiting 

Read labels! Try to avoid brands that contain these ingredients or added fragrances which are an indicator of phthalates (which are linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity in animals). As a recommendation, I found the following products free of Dioxane and Formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals that may be harmful.

Bubble Bath

1.     California Baby Bubble Bath which can be found at Target Stores or various stores online.

2.     Burt’s Bee’s Baby Bee Bath which can be found at Target Stores or various stores online.


1.     Burt’s Bee’s Super Shiny Grapefruit and Sugar Beet Shampoo which can be found at Ulta Stores, your local Health Food Store or at various stores online.

2.     California Baby Shampoo and Body Wash (Super Sensitive or Tea Tree & Lavender) which can be found at Target stores or online.

3.     Aubrey Organics Shampoo which can be found at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Wild Oats or most Health Food Markets.


1.     Burt’s Bee’s (Super Shiny Grapefruit and Sugar Beet, Avocado Butter) Conditioner

2.     Aubrey Organics Conditioner

3.     California Baby Conditioner (Calming or Super Sensitive)


1.     Aveeno Baby Daily Baby Lotion

2.     Aubrey Organics Natural Baby and Kids Body Lotion


1.     Burt’s Bee’s Children’s Toothpaste

2.     Jason Natural Kids Toothpaste

3.     Tom’s of Maine Natural Toothpaste

Diaper Rash Cream or Powder

1.     California Baby Diaper Area Wash

2.     California Baby Calendula Cream

3.     California Baby Non-Talc Powder


1.     Seventh Generation Unscented Baby Wipes

2.     Avalon Organics Baby Wipes

Interesting Reads:

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Report: Toxic Chemicals found in Kid’s Bath Products, ENews March 12, 2009

Beauty: Not Just Skin Deep, Minneapolis Examiner March 23, 2009

ATSDR- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry








The Dangers of Chemical Sunscreens. Are they protecting you from skin cancer? March 26, 2009

With a growing conscience of a healthier lifestyle many people have increased their use of sunscreens to prevent skin cancer. Yet, there has been an astonishing rise of skin cancer over the past several years. A lot of medical research is going into testing the chemical ingredients in many of the sunscreen products on the market. One concern is that these toxic chemicals could be increasing your cancer risk and doing more harm than good. Many of the chemicals in our sunscreens are actually promoting free radicals and contain chemicals that disrupt hormone balance and normal sexual development in girls. Here is a list of chemicals most often found in the popular sunscreens on the market.

Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone), Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate), Digalloyl troleate, Menthyl anthranilate, Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate), PABA (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA, Avobenzone (butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane; Parsol 1789).

Many of these chemicals generate free radical growth, which accelerate the aging process and contribute to cancer. Currently, the FDA is evaluating requirements and possible changes to the labeling requirements to make the public more aware of the dangers of the sun. Read the labels and look at the active ingredients when choosing your sunscreen and always make sure you are choosing a sunscreen that is a “broad spectrum” sunscreen. Usually the toxic chemicals begin with oxy, octo, octyl or ethyl, or methyl. Ingredients that have been declared “chemical free” and most effective in blocking the UVA and UVB rays in sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

I did some research through the Environmental Working Group ( to find out which sunscreens on the market are the safest (free of toxic chemicals) and still protect us from both the UVA and UVB sun rays. These are some of the top ranked sunscreens that are chemical free. I encourage you to always check the ingredients on the sunscreen before you buy. If it is loaded with chemicals then you may want to consider a different sunscreen.

1. Badger Sunscreen SPF 30 – costs about $15 for a 2.9 oz tube and can be bought online at

2. TruKid Sunny Days Sunscreen SPF 30 – costs about $11 for a 4oz tube and Face sticks SPF 30 for about $9 and can be purchased at or

3. California Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 – costs about $13-$18 for a 2.9 oz tube and can be found at most Targets or online at or Target stores.

4. Kiss my Face 100% Paraben Free with Oat Protein SPF 30 – costs about $8 for a 4 ounce tube and can be found at or

5. Goddess Garden Kids and Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 – costs about $13 for 3oz tube and can be found at

6. Jason’s Natural Cosmetic Sunbrellas Mineral Based SPF 30– costs about $12 for a 4oz tube and can be purchased at , Trader Joe’s or the organic section at your local market or health store.

7. Vanicream Sunscreen (sport, sensitive skin or regular) SPF 15 and above – costs about $15 for a 4oz tube and can be purchased online at

8. Mexitan or Tropical Sands Lotion SPF 30 – costs $16.95 for a 8oz tube and can be purchased at

9. Soleo Organic Sunscreen SPF 30 – costs about $14 for a 1oz tube and can be purchased at or

10. Sun Science Organic Daily Wear SPF 30 – costs about $22 for a 3.4oz tube and can be purchased online at They have a coupon for 15% of sunscience15 at checkout.

Keep in mind that you should always check the expiration dates on your sunscreens before applying. If you have a tube that is from last year and you haven’t used it in awhile you may want to consider tossing it and picking up a new tube. Sunscreen does lose its effectiveness over time and may not keep you properly protected from the UVA/UVB rays of the sun. Try to avoid being in the sun during the hottest times of the day noon-4pm but if you must, then be sure to reapply your sunscreen every 30 minutes to be sure you are being properly protected.

Interesting Read: CBS News, Many Sunscreens Ineffective, Group Says, March 26, 2009


Super brain foods for our kids March 18, 2009

Super Foods for our Kids Brains

Below are the top 10 most important foods for our growing child’s brains. Many of the foods listed aid in important brain functions such as memory and concentration which could greatly improve your child’s performance at school and sports.   The brain is first in line of all our body’s’ organs to absorb the benefits of the food we eat.  So eat smart and be smart!

1.       Salmon which contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids which is important for brain growth and function.


Kid friendly meal tip:  Bake, grill or pan fry your salmon.  In a mixing bowl mix honey and light soy sauce together. In a heated pan, pour the sauce into the pan on a medium to high heat until it begins to bubble into a glaze.  Pour the delicious sauce over the salmon and serve.


2.       Eggs (especially the egg whites) are an excellent source of protein. Egg whites contain choline which helps in memory function.


Kid friendly meal tip:  Scramble eggs with your child’s favorite vegetables. Some suggestions are mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes and avocado.  Add his/her favorite cheese and roll up in a whole wheat tortilla for a breakfast burrito.


3.       Peanut Butter or peanuts are a fantastic source of vitamin E which protects our nervous membranes.  It also contains thiamine which helps the brain and our nervous system turn glucose into energy.


Kid friendly meal tip:  Slice up apples, celery, bananas, and bite size pieces of whole wheat bagel or bread for a dipping party.  Let your child pick and dip into a bowl of all natural peanut butter. This can make an excellent after school snack.


4.       Whole Grains are a good source of vitamin B which help you maintain a healthy nervous system and also a good source of fiber.


Kid friendly meal tip: whole wheat pasta with a dribble of olive oil and parmesan cheese. Throw in some of your child’s favorite nuts or veggies (cooked or raw). This tastes great warm or cold and can be a nice treat in your child’s lunch bag.


5.       Oats/Oatmeal are a super source of fiber, vitamin E, B, potassium and zinc which all help with brain function.


Kid friendly meal tip:  Mix oatmeal and yogurt together in a cup or bowl.  Add a light drizzle of honey and fresh fruit on top for a delicious yogurt parfait. Great for breakfast or an afterschool treat!


6.       Berries (strawberries, blueberries, cherries and blackberries) carry high levels of antioxidants and Vitamin C.  Strawberries and Blueberries are known to improve memory function.


Kid friendly meal tip:  Using whole wheat pancake mix.  Pour pancake mix into a pan or griddle and add your child’s favorite berries.  Once pancake is fully cooked, place on a plate and add some fresh berries on top.  So good, they won’t need syrup!


7.       Beans contain protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber with loads of vitamins and minerals. Kidney and pinto beans have more Omega-3 than any other beans.  Omega-3 is important for brain growth and function.


Kid friendly meal tip:  Smash cooked beans and spread in a whole wheat tortilla with cheese, avocado and tomato for a yummy burrito. 


8.        Vegetables (sweet potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli and pumpkin) are loaded with vitamins and minerals. The deep, rich colored veggies are the best sources of antioxidants which help keep the brain healthy.


Kid friendly meal tip: Peel and slice sweet potatoes in the shape of French fries. Bake in the oven and sprinkle lightly with honey or brown sugar.  A great dinner side dish!


9.       Milk & Yogurt are loaded with protein, Vitamin B & D which are necessary for brain tissue growth, enzymes, neurotransmitter functions and the neuromuscular system.


Kid friendly meal tip: Combine apple juice, plain yogurt, a banana and a handful of blueberries in the blender for a tasty and healthy smoothie.


10.   Lean Beef is one of the best sources of iron which will keep the body energized. Beef also contains zinc which also helps with memory functions.


Kid friendly meal tip: Marinade a skirt or flank steak with orange juice, honey, lime, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Grill and cut up into small bite size pieces.  Place whole wheat tortillas on the grill or in a pan with your child’s favorite cheese, bite size pieces of steak, tomato, avocado, mushroom or whatever their favorite healthy foods are. Cut up the tortilla into small pizza like slices to make a scrumptious Quesadilla.


Pesticide Levels in our Fruits and Vegetables February 23, 2009

Many of us see the organic fruits and vegetables in the produce section of our local grocery store and it’s obvious that the organic fruits and veggies are rarely on sale and almost always at a higher price than the non-organic.  With our economy struggling I know a lot of parents who normally shop organic are cutting back due to the rise of grocery prices.  This list may help you decide when to buy organic and when it might not be necessary. The Environmental Working Group, which is a non-profit environmental research organization, ( tested the pesticide levels of many of the items in the produce section and here is what was discovered.  Keep in mind that levels tested on each item were done in the manner of how it is typically eaten.  For example, they washed the apples and peeled the bananas before testing for pesticide (100 being the highest pesticide level).

Highest Level of Pesticide                                                                          

1.       Peaches-100                                                                                                                     

2.       Apples-98                                                                                                                          

3.       Bell Peppers-96                                                                                                                               

4.       Celery-85                                                                                                                                           

5.       Nectarines-84                                                                                                                  

6.       Strawberries-83                                                                                              

7.       Cherries-75                                                                                       

8.       Lettuce-69                                                                         

9.       Grapes-Imported-68                                                     

10.   Pears-65                                                                             

11.   Spinach-60                                                                         

12.   Potatoes-58                                                                      

13.   Carrots-57                                                                          

14.   Green Beans-55                                                                              

15.   Hot Peppers-53                                                                               

16.   Cucumbers-52                                                                  

17.   Raspberries-47                                                                

18.   Plums-46                                                                            

19.   Oranges-46                                                                        

20.   Grapes-Domestic-46                                                     

21.   Cauliflower-39                                                                  

22.   Tangerine-38

23.   Mushroom-37

24.   Cantaloupe-34

25.   Lemon-31

26.   Honeydew-31

27.   Grapefruit-31

28.   Winter Squash-31

29.   Tomatoes-30

30.   Sweet Potatoes-30

31.   Watermelon-25

32.   Blueberries-24

33.   Papaya-21

34.   Eggplant-19

35.   Broccoli-18

36.   Cabbage-17

37.   Bananas-16

38.   Kiwi-14

39.   Asparagus-11

40.   Sweet Peas-Frozen-11

41.   Mango-9

42.   Pineapple-7

43.   Sweet Corn-Frozen-2

44.   Avocado-1

45.   Onion-1

Studies suggest that pesticide exposure is dangerous to our health and especially to the health of pregnant woman and children.  The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) has determined that certain active ingredients in pesticides are “reasonably anticipated as human carcinogens”.  For a printable copy of this list for your purse or wallet, visit