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Attention, confused aunts and uncles at Toys 'R' Us

Published December 4, 2006


Shopping for your nephew up North and can't decide if the push - or the pull - toy is appropriate - and safe - for his age? Some guidelines, by age, from the Pinellas County Health Department, as suggested by Safe Kids Worldwide:

Infants: Think choking safety. Activity quilts, stuffed animals without buttons, bath toys, soft dolls, cloth books.

Ages 1 to 3: Think curiosity. Books, blocks, fit-together toys, balls, push-pull toys, pounding and shape toys.

Ages 3 to 5: Think creativity, movement. Art supplies, books, videos, musical instruments.

Ages 5 to 9: Think engagement. Craft materials, puppets, books, electric trains, sports equipment.

Ages 9 to 14: Think physical dexterity. Table games, sports equipment.

Because the Hardy Boys are old men

What do boys like to read? What? Do boys like to read? Consider some new books for boys in the realm of fantasy fiction:

- Maximum Ride: School's Out Forever (Little, Brown, 416 pages, $16.99; teens) by James Patterson. The author known for his adult thrillers chronicles the further adventures of Max and her flock of genetically altered kids - they can fly, like birds - who have a run-in with the evil Erasers.

- Peter and the Shadow Thieves (Hyperion, 576 pages, $18.99 - but discounts on the Web; ages 9 to 12) by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Peter Pan arrives in London, where he and Tink plot to keep the monstrous Lord Ombra from getting his hands on some "starstuff," a magical powder.

- Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini (Greenwillow, 224 pages, $18.99; ages 9 to 12) by Sid Fleischman. A magician and acquaintance of Houdini's widow offers a biography of the escape artist.

It's hard for us to understand war

"We usually don't think of a discussion of war and peace as dinnertime conversation, but it can and should be," says Gregory Ramey, who has a doctorate in child psychology and frequently writes about his specialty. "Make it real. We've become almost numb to TV violence. It can be hard for our children to think of real people actually fighting and dying. We've lived through wars throughout our entire adult lives, and now we need to prepare our children to do the same." (To read more of Ramey's columns, or sign up for a free e-newsletter, go to www.

We don't want to nit-pick, but . . .

Head lice. Ugh. It's that time of the year. Worse than getting them is getting rid of them. There are over-the-counter treatments and fine-toothed combs that may help. Some folks swear by mineral oil treatments or even mayonnaise to eradicate the little buggers. Wash or dry-clean the clothes or bedding of an infected child, and vacuum rugs and upholstery. Dump the vacuum bags into the garbage outside.

Tips for prevention:

- Tell your child to avoid head-to-head contact and not to share hats, jackets, combs, brushes or hair accessories with others.

- If your child has been exposed to head lice, check his or her scalp for lice every few days.

Mom, can I get liposuction?

Perhaps you read about the 12-year-old girl whose 35-pound weight loss from liposuction was chronicled in a recent People. Perhaps you are thinking, this is crazy. But last year more than 3,000 kids under 18 underwent liposuction, a 22 percent increase over 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Seems like a no-brainer, but liposuction should never be used as a treatment for childhood obesity, says the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.


[Last modified December 3, 2006, 21:58:44]

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