The Child & Dependent Care Expenses Tax Credit

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;

 If you 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

Benefits of Emu Oil for Children

Emu oil has organic healing properties, it is all natural and very gentle. One great thing about emu oil is, since it is natural it can also be used on children without any ill effects.

About Emu Oil

In many places in the United States and Australia emus are harvested to create emu oil, which has been used for thousands of years by aboriginal tribes, to help them stay healthy and fit in what most people would consider a very dangerous habitat.

Uses for Emu Oil

People use emu oil to aid in muscle and arthritis problems, moisturizers and as a skin healing agent. Emu oil is used in a wide variety of products including lotions, shampoos and oils. It is pure, natural and hypoallergenic.

It is a natural anti-inflammatory; it helps reduce swelling and redness in cuts, scrapes and burns. It can be used as an anti-microbial which means it kills fungus and bacterial buildups. It helps the skin repair itself and start new skin growth. It absorbs into the skin for maximum penetration. Even through it is oil it does not clog pores which can lead to acne breakouts. It is also know as a carrier oil which means it carries active ingredients deeper into your skin for faster results.

Benefits for Children

A child`s skin absorbs three times faster than an adults, this why a parent has to be very careful what they put on their children. Their skin is also more sensitive, if you put a skin care product on them that you use on yourself it may break them out, causing a rash or even blisters.

Emu oil is great for all skin types, especially sensitive skin; it is also good for all ages because it is natural and gentle. It can be used on the face because there are no harsh essential oils or scents. It can relieve every thing from diaper rash to dry scalp.

Help repair damaged tissue while naturally guarding against swelling and reducing redness. It helps skin cells regenerate faster, which is great for children who are constantly getting bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes and blisters. So the next time your child gets banged up try emu oil, it is all natural, gentle on even the most sensitive skin and best of all it is safe for all ages.

Written by Seth D. Hoover

Interesting Reads on Emu Oil

Web Md

Amazon Reviews on Emu Oil

The Importance of Performance Reviews

report cardWith the school year quickly approaching, many parents are preparing for their child`s next year of development. Each year our children are learning new skills and throughout the school year are graded and tested on their comprehension of the information they have been taught. As parents, we learn how our child is doing in school by the communication of report card grades and parent teacher conferences. This information is valuable to understanding our child`s strengths and weaknesses and also helps us guide our child to follow their interests and improve.

As parents, we have the opportunity to benefit so much from performance reviews on child care providers.  At, parents are given the opportunity to review childcare providers based on a 5 tier rating system of  quality of care, curriculumin, atmosphere, cost/value and quality of staff.  Parents are also given the freedom to verbally express their experience with a provider.   Combining performance reviews along with your state inpsection and violation results on childcare provider offers a good background of information which is enabling many parents to make faster and more informed choices when choosing a daycare or preschool provider. 

With child care being a necessity for working parents across the country, many are overwhelmed with the choices of finding a quality daycare or preschool provider and are turning to the internet to search and read reviews on providers. Childcare reviews are a great way for parents to continously communicate about their experiences and grade a provider based on performance.  The information shared by parents creates a valuable  network on licensed childcare across the United States.  

10 steps to finding a quality childcare provider;

1. Identify the type of provider atmosphere you are seeking (Full time, Part time, Daycare, Preschool, After School, Babysitter, Au Pair or Nanny).

2. Visit to utilize a national search engine to identify all licensed childcare providers in your area by using our zip code, city and state search engine on our homepage.

3. Read provider reviews and ratings conducted by parents who have experience with this provider.

4. Check out a provider`s inspection and violation history through our state childcare licensing links in the “For Parent`s” tab.

5. Begin contacting providers that appeal to you. Use our telephone interview guide with helpful questions to ask.

6. Be sure to set up a time for you and your child to tour and meet the director at a minimum of three of the facilities that you feel could be a good match for you and your child.

7. Use our touring the facility guide and our meet the director guide when you visit the facility. Bring a pen and take notes about the things you like and dislike about the facility.

8. Ask for references!

9. Use our call references guide. Discuss any areas of concern that you may have noticed while touring the facility and meeting with the director.

10. After you choose a provider, continue to monitor your child`s progress by maintaining relationships with the caregivers and director. Check evaluation and inspection reports every 3-6 months and leave a progress review of your provider at

Overuse of Antibiotics in Children

baby medicineMany parents are faced with sleepless nights when their child is sick with a fever, the flu or a cold.  When both parents work, it can become challenging being up half the night taking care of a child and then waking up feeling energized enough to function at work.  There is also the issue that the child may be sick enough that they need to stay home from school or daycare for a day or two until they are well enough to return to school or childcare which means a parent must miss work.  For these reasons, parents make the decision to call the Dr. and take their child in to get medicine.   While this may solve the short term problem, parents may be facing a bigger long term problem of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics are useful in fighting bacterial infections, fungus and some parasites.  However, antibiotics do not fight infections that are caused by viruses such as the flu, a cold, most coughs, bronchitis or sore throats (unless it is strep).  Each time you take an antibiotic you will be running the risk that the bacteria in your body will resist the antibiotic the next time.  Bacteria and germs are essential for the body to develop an immune system to fight off the big infections and illnesses to come.  Over time, parents may find that the antibiotic isn`t working anymore and switch to another one and so on.  Continuing down this path leads to an even bigger problem of multi-resistance or a “superbug” which means that the bug carries several opportunities of resistance which limits the available antibiotics that are effective in killing the bacteria.

Ear infections are the most common use of prescriptions among children in the United States and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “80% of children whose ear infections are not treated immediately with antibiotics get better on their own”.  ( Unfortunately, many parents today rush their child to the doctor upon suspicion of an ear infection and walk out of the doctor`s office with an antibiotic prescription and enter into the vicious cycle of this repetitive behavior.

Parents today are overusing antibiotic prescriptions due to the push of the pharmaceutical industry and the demands of their careers but ultimately we are risking the health of our children. Dr. Greene offers a brief guide for parents that will help determine when an antibiotic might be useful and when it might be best to allow your body to heal on its own

For a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to treat an ear infection without using antibiotics, click here

Interesting Reads:

CBS News Silent Killers; Scary Superbugs

WebMD; Cutting antibiotics for Ear Infections

What does a bar code tell you?

Over the past two years we have heard a lot of reports in the news and online about dangerous and toxic levels of lead in our children`s clothing and toys.  The U.S. Consumer and Safety Commission have now recalled millions of Children`s products manufactured in China and other Asian territories and changed policy in the United States to enforce resale of clothing and toys that may contain dangerous lead levels (  

With almost every store using computerized scanners at the checkout counters, EAN (European Article Number) codes are now on almost every product in every store.  The good news is this helps the consumer understand where a product comes from even if the product tag doesn`t indicate.  Here is some helpful information that you can print out and stick in your purse or wallet.  bar-code













The first 3 digits of an EAN bar code will tell you what country the bar code was registered in.  In this example, it’s Taiwan. 

000-019 = USA 

030-039 = USA

060-139 = USA

300-379 = France

400-440 = Germany

450- 459 & 490-499 = Japan

471 = Taiwan

480 = Philippines

489 = Hong Kong

500-509 = UK

628 = Saudi Arabia

690-695 = China

740-745 = Central America

885= Thailand

888 = Singapore

899 = Indonesia

955 = Malaysia

Having this information helps parents understand where their child’s clothes or toys are coming from and allowing parents to make more cautious choices when purchasing these items for their child.  If you would like to see the full list of country codes, visit


Interesting Reads:, Toys `R’ Us Asia Removes China-Made Products Containing Lead

MSNBC, Mattel issues new massive China Toy Recall

Health, Safety and Environmental Fact Sheet on Lead Exposure

Daycare Fire in Mexico

The recent news of a daycare center fire in Mexico where 44 children died brought so many concerns to my mind.  While reading the article I could only imagine the horror and anger of the families involved. Why would a government funded facility have 8 employees watching over 142 infants/toddlers?   That leaves each employee responsible for the care of approximately 17 infants/toddlers.  The second serious concern I had is the building had a newly installed sprinkler system which did not work due to being improperly installed.  Did anyone ever test the system after they installed it?  The third question is why is there only 1 emergency exit for a building that houses an estimated 150 people on a daily basis?  There was a second door but it was bolted shut and required a key to open.  What kind of emergency exit requires a key to get out? As Mexico faces daycare safety issues, we can certainly learn from this mistake.

In the United States, you can run daycare out of your home and care for children without maintaining a license by the government.  I think the tragedy in Mexico should bring concern to parents who use providers that are not licensed.  Are the non-licensed providers striving to meet all the necessary criteria to keep your child safe? Licensed child care providers are required to meet a large list of requirements and are inspected to ensure they continue to meet these standards on a regular basis.   Each state determines their own standards and it can vary from state to state but all must meet required areas including updated immunization records, health, safety and food standards, sanitation, gas, fire, pest control, emergency procedures and insurance.    If you use a non-licensed provider, you could be subjecting your child to danger in various areas. provides “Guides” with quality questions to ask when choosing a daycare or preschool provider for your child.  Our website also provides links to each state`s child licensing division where you can review a provider`s violation and inspection history.  

How did you choose your daycare or preschool provider? 

1.       How did you find them? 

2.       Are they licensed with the state?

3.       Did you research your providers` state violation and inspection records before you enrolled your child?

4.       Are you comfortable with leaving your child with a non-licensed provider? If so, why or why not.

PFOA and Microwave Popcorn


popcornThe invention of microwave popcorn seemed like the greatest invention for all us popcorn lovers.   I have to say it has been one of our favorite snacks around the house, especially on Friday nights when we have family movie night!  I recently read information about microwave popcorn that alarmed me enough to throw ours in the trash. The FDA has recently discovered dangers associated with a chemical coating perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) that is in the lining of the popcorn bag that is released when the microwave heats. The EPA has identified PFOA as “likely a carcinogen to humans” (  PFOA also causes infertility, birth defects; increased cancer rates, changes in lipid levels and adverse effects on the immune system (in animal testing).  It`s also found in stain resistant products for clothing, furniture, carpet and anti-stick Teflon pots, pans and utensils.  Some pizza makers are using it for their pizza boxes to resist grease build up. 

If that`s not bad enough there is also very concerning information about diacetyl which is a chemical in the butter flavoring of most microwave popcorn brands and has been associated with a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans which causes pulmonary inflammation and obstruction of the lungs.  Several microwave popcorns manufacturers such as, Orville Redenbacher, Act II, Pop Secret and Jolly Time removed diacetyl after studies and reports came out about the lung disease associated with it.  I looked over the ingredients on a few microwave popcorn boxes while at the grocery store and they only list “natural and artificial flavor and color added”. Since the box doesn`t say diacetyl free then I would assume it`s not.

It`s time to go back to the basics when it comes to popcorn.  Buy whole kernels and coat the bottom of your pan with oil, cover and wait until the popcorn pops.  As a kid, I remember enjoying the process of making popcorn almost as much as I did eating it. I also found that Trader Joe’s sells air popped popcorn in their snack section. Another alternative to this method would be to buy an air popper which is fun and chemical free!

Interesting Reads:

Perfluorooctanoic (PFOA)

PFOA`s and the Teflon Don


Diacetyl and Food Flavorings containing Diacetyl

Doc Warns that Prolonged Exposure to Microwave Butter Popcorn Fumes Could Cause Lung Disease, Fox News,2933,295761,00.html

Health and Fitness on Popcorn Flavoring, April 2009

The Best Children’s Vitamins


Many parents today deal with the constant struggle to get their child to eat vegetables or a well balanced diet.  When I ask my daughter`s what they would like to eat, the common answers are; PB & J, macaroni n cheese, a hot dog or grilled cheese sandwich.  I usually can get them to eat fruit along with a meal but the vegetable is a whole other issue.  Like some parents, I rely on a multi-vitamin to help supplement nutrition through the “picky eater” stages of childhood.  I know from my own experiences as a child that eventually you do grow out of it and begin to like vegetables.

When I go shopping for a multi vitamin I am always amazed at the amount of choices on the shelf and when I begin to read the ingredients they all look the same. Lots of words that appear to be chemicals and I have no idea what they are.  Many of the vitamins at your local drugstore are manufactured using synthetic chemical processes and not from the actual plant itself.  The ingredients on a synthetic vitamin bottle will usually read something like; Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid and so on.  

There are other choices of vitamins available that come from whole foods and have natural ingredients which are not chemically manufactured.  Whole food vitamins contain the actual foods that we eat in the ingredients. The label will list the plant that the nutrients come from usually like this; carrots, green beans, spinach, strawberries, etc.  Another benefit of whole food vitamins is that they don`t contain preservatives, color additives, aluminum, sugar additives and other fillers.  Many are dairy, soy, wheat, salt and gluten free.  I believe the main reason why people are buying synthetic vitamins is for one, they are readily available in almost every drugstore and supermarket and two, they are cheaper.  I am more comfortable giving my daughter’s a vitamin with spinach and strawberries in it than a vitamin with Aspartame and Sorbitol.

Below is a list of whole food vitamins that are available for children and can be found in health food or organic sections of your local market or at most health food stores.   It`s always a good idea to discuss vitamin supplements with a physician before giving it to your child. 

1.       Hero Yummy Bears 200 gummies for about $15.


2.       Rainbow Light Nutri Stars 120 tablets cost about $16.


3.       New Chapter Every Kid powder pouches 28 for about $20.  It comes in two flavors Brilliant Berries and Awesome Apple.

Interesting Reads:

Dietary Supplements: Nutrition in a Pill?  By the Mayo Clinic

Vitamins for Kids: Do Healthy Kids need Vitamins?  Web MD


Are your Child’s Bathroom Products Toxic?


As parents, I think many of us assume that the bath, lotion and like products on the market are safe. Why would manufacturers make something that could harm our children? Could our government actually allow them to sell products that are potentially harmful? 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

The Dangers of Chemical Sunscreens. Are they protecting you from skin cancer?

baby_sunscreen7With 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 that are in most often found in 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 EWG, 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