December is finally here and with it comes National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. How much thought have you put into the safety of the gifts on your list? Before we know it living room floors all over America will be covered in wrapping paper while kids eagerly tear into their new toys. The absolute worst thing we can imagine as parents is our children being injured, or worse, by these new playthings. Fortunately the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has provided a wonderful list of purchasing guidelines for children of all ages, helping you keep the holidays safe for your little ones. It seems the number one guideline to be followed is recognizing age appropriateness in the toys you buy.
Safety was first in my mind when Ava began asking for an Easy Bake Oven. She was only 5 years old and I really felt in my heart that she simply wasn’t old enough to understand and follow the safety guidelines for this toy. I pictured frustration, burns, tears, and eventually the hiding away of the oven… I still had 1 very young toddler and 2 babies at that time. It wasn’t just her lack of understanding of safety procedures but also my lack of time to dedicate to teaching her and supervising the use of the oven. A couple of Christmas’ went by, the boys got older and easier. I decided it was time. She had been “oohing and aahing” over every Easy Bake Oven she saw on TV and in stores for months. I knew just the man to turn to. Ho Ho Ho!
She loved it and had cooked up all of the food packs that came with the oven that Christmas Night. I was so happy with my decision to give Santa the “go ahead”. Shopping for the refills a few days later however, put me into Sticker Shock! I absolutely could not believe how expensive those little refills were. There was no way I could afford to provide a few refills per week, costing over $20. Were we destined to put the oven into hiding? A quick Google session led me to hundreds of do-it-yourself Easy Bake Oven refill recipes; the oven suddenly became the gift that kept on giving.
Ava and I spent hours in the kitchen together trying out and making up new recipes. We would throw together ready-to-use dry mixes, just like the ones in the store! Before we knew it there were dozens of snack size baggies in our fridge filled with various dry mixes. Ava made label and direction cards for each one and was able to simply pull out a baggie and get to baking whenever she wanted! After mastering the sweets we began tinkering with savory dishes. Mini Pizza Crisps, Ham and Maple Omelets, and now these White Spinach and Parmesan Pizzas! Using Litehouses’ Spinach Parmesan Veggie Dip in place of pizza sauce adds an extraordinary burst of garlicky flavor to this white pizza that any child or adult will love. Don’t worry Mom and Dad, this recipe includes an adult size pizza as well! Keeping it simple with ready to use dough, Spinach Parmesan Dip, and cheese allows time for a child to not only make their own personal pizza but also whip up a large pizza for the rest of the family! The child’s pizza will be ready at the same time the adult sized pizza insuring your family can eat together.
Nearly a year has gone by since Ava’s first Easy Bake Oven cooking session. Many tea parties have been thrown for little boys dressed in tutus. Not a single burn or accident has occurred. And many hours of mother daughter memories have been made in our kitchen. Waiting for the right time to give this gift has truly given us both the best gift of all. Time together. To see a complete list of recommendations for toy safety shopping tips visit http://www.army.mil/article/92555/December_is_National_Safe_Toys_and_Gifts_Month/ For suggestions on good toys for young children by age visit http://www.naeyc.org/toys.