Inside the life of Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer, an elite equestrian who stands to inherit ‘a minuscule portion’ of her father’s $130 billion fortune

Jennifer Gates horse
An accomplished equestrian, Jennifer Gates will reportedly receive a “minuscule portion” of her father’s wealth.

Jennifer Gates, 25, is the eldest daughter of the billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates. She has two younger siblings, Rory and Phoebe.

Jennifer Gates

Source: CNBC

While their father might be famous for founding Microsoft, Entrepreneur reported that the Gates kids had a “cap on screen time” growing up. Gates also wasn’t allowed to own a phone until she was 14.

bill gates daughter Jennifer gates family

Source: Entrepreneur

Gates and her siblings attended her father’s alma mater, Seattle’s private Lakeside High School.

Bill Gates family Melinda Jennifer

Source: Business Insider

Gates graduated from Stanford University in 2018 with a degree in human biology and took a year off to focus on her equestrian passion before going to medical school. She told Sidelines Magazine her childhood pediatrician inspired her to pursue medicine.

Jennifer Gates

Source: CNN, Business Insider, Sidelines Magazine

She’s an accomplished equestrian and has been riding since she was 6. One of her favorite horses is named Alex. “He is super sweet, down-to-earth, easy-going, but you can also go fast and have a lot of confidence, so I am really excited about him,” she told US Equestrian in November 2017.

Jennifer Gates horse

Source: Herald Weekly, US Equestrian

To support her passion, Gates’ father set about buying property in Wellington, Florida, a hot spot for wealthy equestrians. The Miami Herald reported he dropped $37 million to buy a whole string of properties near Laurene Powell Jobs’ estate.

Jennifer Gates horse

Source: The Daily Mail, The Real Deal, The Miami Herald, Business Insider

Gates has competed against Eve Jobs, as well as other famous show jumpers born to celebrities and high-profile figures, like Michael Bloomberg’s daughter Georgina, Bruce Springsteen’s daughter Jessica, and Steven Spielberg’s daughter Destry.

Eve Jobs horse equestrian

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

While she was a student at Stanford, Gates told the Horse Network that balancing school and horseback riding made her life “a little busy, but I love doing both.”

Jennifer Gates horse

Source: Horse Network

Beyond her education and her horseback riding, Gates also makes time to travel. Her Instagram highlights past trips to Kuwait, Spain, Australia, and other exciting places.

Jennifer Gates

Source: Instagram

Bill Gates is determined for his children to forge their own paths in life. In 2011, he told The Daily Mail that his kids would each get a “minuscule portion” of his wealth, which Forbes estimates stands at $130.5 billion. “It will mean they have to find their own way,” he said.

bill gates
Bill Gates participates in a media availability on agricultural research, Thursday, March 13, 2014.

Source: The Daily Mail, CNBC, Forbes

Gates is enrolled at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. She just finished her first year remotely. Gates told The Chronicle of the Horse in March that all of her medical-school classes had been temporarily moved online because of the coronavirus.

Jennifer Gates

Source: ET, New York Post, Instagram, The Chronicle of the Horse

The New York Post reported that in 2017, her parents bought a $5 million condo that’s only blocks from her medical school.

Jennifer Melinda Gates

Source: New York Post

In January 2020, Gates announced her engagement to the renowned Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nassar. Nassar also attended Stanford University. “I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives learning, growing, laughing, and loving together,” she wrote on Instagram at the time.

jennifer gates nayel nassar

Source: Forbes Middle East, Business Insider

Gates and Nassar are both riders for Paris Panthers, a show-jumping team founded by Gates, who also manages the team. In 2019, they competed and placed ninth in the Global Champions League.

Jennifer Gates Nayel Nassar

Source: CNN

Like her parents, Gates has also expressed an interest in using her privilege to help others. “I was born into a huge situation of privilege,” Gates recently told Sidelines Magazine in an interview for the publication’s July issue, “and I think it’s about using those opportunities and learning from them to find things that I’m passionate about and hopefully make the world a little bit of a better place.”

Bill Gates Jennifer Gates

Source: Business Insider, Sidelines Magazine

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The 5 best tables for kids in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Tables give kids their own spot where they can comfortably create, eat, do homework, and just be.
  • We tested 11 kids tables to find the best ones for activities indoors and outside.
  • The Ikea Dundra is the best table for kids because it is sturdy, competitively priced, and has storage.

Kids deserve their own space where they can sit or stand comfortably to create art, do homework, eat, and play. Plus, when they have their own table for these activities, it reduces the mess on the dining room table or kitchen counters.

The market is saturated with kids tables, with many different sizes, styles, and types. We tested 11 different tables for kids, from picnic tables to basic-use tables, considering their durability, stability, ergonomic positioning, and ease of cleaning. We put these tables through the ringer, using them daily for at least a month each and purposely getting them messy just to see how well they clean up.

To inform our product selections and testing, we also spoke to two occupational therapists who specialize in pediatrics: Chaye Lamm Warburg and Ashley Stoffel. Jump to the end of this guide to read more about our full testing methodology and FAQs about kids tables.

Here are the best kids tables in 2021

The best kids table overall

Ikea dundra kids table

The Ikea Dundra activity table is big, sturdy, cleans well, and has a large storage drawer, all for under $100. 

Pros: Affordable, easy to clean, raised edges, added storage, very sturdy   

Cons: Doesn’t come with chairs, liquid spills drip into drawer 

 The Ikea Dundra activity table checks all of our testing boxes, and it does so as one of the more affordable tables we tested. The table has raised edges to stop crayons, markers, and other supplies from rolling off, and it has a large storage drawer with two compartments. The table surface is gray while every other surface is white. 

Although it doesn’t come with chairs, it’s the right height for younger kids to stand at the table and for older kids to kneel or sit. The table is 19.5 inches from the ground, which is about belly button height on my 3-year-old.

In our cleaning test, everything came off easily with a basic household cleaner with the exception of the colored pencil, which came off with a Magic Eraser. The storage drawers in the front have pros and cons when it comes to cleaning. The pro: If you’re in a rush, pull out the drawer and push everything in with one arm swipe. The con: If you don’t clean up a liquid spill on the table quickly, it will drip into the drawer. 

From the second I picked up the box, I could tell the table would be very sturdy. It does not budge unless you have one or two adults trying to move it. It has also proven to be durable, with no dents, chips, or other signs of wear. 

The best activity table for kids

Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow With You Activity Table

The Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table has the look and feel of being high quality plus it’s durable and easy to clean — two musts for kids tables.

Pros: Two leg-length options, very sturdy, raised edges, three color options  

Cons: Pricey, crumbs get stuck in corners 

With a high-end design and three color options, the Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table will not be an eyesore in your home. Ideal for crafts and activities, it has raised edges to keep everything on the surface. 

It has proved to be very durable and stable in our tests. The table doesn’t wobble or tip, and we haven’t seen any chips, cracks, dents, or other signs of wear. In addition to our clean test, this table also saw a lot of daily use throughout our testing as the main craft table for my toddler. 

In our cleaning test, everything came off very easily with a basic household cleaner. However, cleaning crumbs and other small scraps was a bit more difficult. Because it has raised edges, small detritus tends to get stuck in the corners.  

Like other activity tables, it does not come with chairs. However, there are two leg-length options, fulfilling the “grow-with-you” moniker. We tested the 15-inch legs; 24 inches is the other option. When kids are old enough for the 24-inch legs, the table becomes tall enough to add on chairs. This table is so beautifully crafted and low to the ground that my husband attempted to overtake our testing and convert it into a coffee table. 

The best basic kids table

Kidkraft farmhouse activity table for kids

The Kidkraft Farmhouse Table and Four Chairs was the easiest to clean out of everything we tested. 

Pros: Very easy to clean, comes with four chairs, durable and sturdy 

 Cons: Messes can get stuck in screw holes  

A basic kids table and chair set should be a staple in every child’s home. The Kidkraft Farmhouse Table and Four Chairs stood out as a high-quality kids’ furniture set that looks just like a miniature version of a dining set. It comes in four colors: espresso, white, natural, and pecan. 

Easy cleaning is a parent’s dream and this table passed our cleaning test with flying colors. Everything wiped clean using a regular household cleaner. The only downside when it comes to cleaning is that the chairs have quite a few uncovered screw holes. Cleaning can become a bit tricky when messes get into those indentations.  

Like our other top picks, this set is very durable and looks new after months of use. It doesn’t have any dents or chips. The table and chairs are also sturdy and have never wobbled or tipped over. 

As a basic set, this table doesn’t come with any bells and whistles. It’s simply a flat surface for kids to eat, play, and create without distractions. 

The best picnic table for kids

Little tikes easy store picnic table

The Little Tikes Easy Store Jr. Picnic Table is built to withstand outdoor conditions, and it even has a built-in multipurpose tray with cup holders. 

Pros: Very sturdy, multipurpose tray and cup holders, folds up for storage, can withstand harsh weather conditions 

Cons: Umbrella is flimsy, max seating capacity would be a tight squeeze  

The Little Tikes Easy Store Jr. Picnic Table was a clear winner between the two picnic tables we tested. It’s sturdy, cleans easily, and can seat up to six kids, though four is more comfortable. It’s available with or without an umbrella. We found the umbrella a bit flimsy, but it does the trick if you want some shade. 

During our testing period, we left the table in a backyard surrounded by other large toys. When high winds sent a small slide playset and a playhouse flying, this table stayed put. It also never wobbled or tipped, even when we sat one adult on one side, within the 200-pound weight limit.

In our cleaning test, most messes came out easily. This table has some texture, which trapped the crayon and colored pencil marks. With a bit of scrubbing using regular household cleaner for the crayons and a Magic Eraser for the colored pencils, everything cleaned off. 

After over one month of testing, the table does not have any dents, cracks, or other obvious signs of wear. As an outdoor table, it does get a bit dirty, but dirt, pollen, and other outside messes clean quickly with a hose. 

The table can seat up to six kids with a maximum weight of 200 pounds per bench. Based on experience, I’d say it seats four comfortably; six kids would really need to squeeze to fit. 

One of our favorite features is the indentation in the middle of the table. It’s described as a multipurpose condiment/crayon tray, and it does not disappoint. It also includes two cup holders. 

When you’re ready to store the table, it folds nicely into one flat piece. It’s so easy that you could feasibly fold it to store after each use if you don’t want to leave it sitting out. 

The best budget kids table

Ikea Mammut picnic table

The Ikea Mammut is about as inexpensive as you can get, but it still received top marks in all of our tests, and it’s appropriate for indoor and outdoor use.  

Pros: Sturdy, easy to clean, affordable, appropriate for indoor or outdoor use, lightweight

Cons: Doesn’t come with chairs, slides slightly on hard surfaces 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a safe and sturdy kids table for less than the Ikea Mammut. The table doesn’t come with chairs, but you can add two on for $15 each, and it will still be the most inexpensive option in our guide. In testing, we often used it with this active balance chair, which we received as an editorial review sample from its manufacturer.

The Mammut is available in white or red. The nonporous material of the table even makes it ideal to use outside. It’s very lightweight and easy to move around outdoors and indoors. 

In our cleaning test, crayon marks came out with a Magic Eraser, and everything else cleaned off easily with basic household cleaner. This is another one that my toddler got a lot of use out of during our testing, and it still looks like it did when we took it out of the box. No dents, cracks, stains, or other signs of wear. You can purchase it in white or red.

As expected, the lightweight table slid a bit on hard surfaces, but never so much that it flew out from under our tester, and I never felt the need to remove it from our home due to safety concerns. 

All in all, this table gets the job done for a fraction of the price of others we tested. 

Our testing methodology

Testing kids tables

We used four main parameters to test each table: durability, stability, ease of cleaning, and ergonomic positioning. We tested each table with regular use for at least one month and some for more than six months. With the exception of the Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table and B. Spaces by Battat set, we received editorial review samples of each table for testing purposes. 

  • Durability: After at least one month of regular and appropriate use, we checked for chips in paint or finishes, dents, splinters, cracks, or other obvious signs of wear.  
  • Stability: Stoffel emphasized the importance of finding a sturdy table and chair set. The table shouldn’t wobble when kids put their elbows on it, for example. To test stability, we observed daily and regular use and noted any instances of tipping or wobbling in both the chairs and the tables.
  • Ease of cleaning: It’s a fact of life: Kids make messes. On each table, we purposely made messes with: crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, glue, and food.

    We first cleaned each mess with a regular household cleaner like Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner or Lysol Multi-Purpose Cleaner. For messes that persisted, we followed up with a Magic Eraser. Almost all messes were gone at that point. We noted any messes that persisted beyond the Magic Eraser. 

  • Ergonomic positioning: Both experts we spoke to emphasized the importance of ergonomic positioning. This is difficult to assess because children grow at rapid rates. We followed this sizing guide recommended by Stoffel. Although ideal chair and tabletop heights vary by a child’s age, ideal differences between chair seat height and table top height are consistent. All of the tables we recommend come within 1 inch of these guidelines. 

What else we considered

Kidkraft picnic table for kids

We tested 11 kids tables in total. Here are the ones that didn’t make our top picks:

Kidkraft Outdoor Table with Benches and Umbrella: This is a beautiful table, but it’s not the most practical option for kids. Crayons, colored pencils, and markers didn’t clean off in our tests, and the wood started to chip and splinter after less than a year of use. 

Lalo The Play Kit: This set is very solid, has rubber bottoms to prevent sliding, and the chairs come in four colors. Unfortunately, the table wobbled in our tests. For a $250 set — the most expensive we tested — a structural issue like wobbling is a deal breaker.

B. Spaces by Battat – Kids’ Furniture Set: This is a nice set that has a few minor flaws. Because the chairs curve up on the edges, we found that they tip and can fall over if kids sit on the very edge. Additionally, we couldn’t get both chairs to fully fit under the table, and this one needed some extra scrubbing in our cleaning test.

Delta Children Chelsea Chair Set With Table: I really, really wanted to love this set. It has storage under the table and it includes a reversible chalkboard/whiteboard. Unfortunately, it had a strong off-gassing smell that lasted over a month, and within a couple months of use, the chair legs became loose and almost fell off. 

Melissa and Doug Wooden Table and Chairs: We really liked this set and didn’t find any major flaws. There simply wasn’t anything that made it stand out, and it’s more expensive than some of the similar tables we tested. 

Humble Crew Tot Tutors Forever 2-in-1 LEGO Compatible Activity Table: We were unable to spend much time testing this table. It quickly became apparent that it was unsafe. The table and chairs repeatedly slid and flipped out from under my toddler during testing. This happened with appropriate use on both hard floors and carpeting. 

What we look forward to testing

Ikea Flisat kids table

We’re always looking for the best products to test and recommend to our readers. We’ll continue to test kids tables for a future update to this guide. 

Ikea Flisat Children’s Table: This table has a flat top, but it can also become a sensory table with two storage bins that fit inside. It was out of stock at the time of our testing, so we’re looking forward to trying it out for a future update. 

FAQs about tables for kids

What are the benefits of tables for kids? 

Both of our experts emphasized the importance of ergonomic positioning so kids can be comfortable and have support for their bodies. “We all benefit from having our feet supported either on the floor or a sturdy footrest so a child-size chair might support a child in being able to more comfortably place their feet on the floor,” Stoffel told Insider Reviews. 

Stoffel also explained that this position helps support the upper body and allows kids to have more coordination and control in their hands. Warburg emphasized this as well. “Dangling feet cause children to round their backs and lead to back pain and sloppy handwriting,” she said.

Warburg noted that having a good table and chair fit is critical when kids are expected to sit for long periods of time. Having proper positioning is helpful for eating, completing school work, completing artwork, and playing and kids might even sit for longer periods of time for meals or homework if they’re seated comfortably. 

“Another benefit of a chil- size table and chair is that it gives the child a specific and special place for daily activities,” Stoffel said. “Knowing the table and chair are their own, the child might be more motivated or invested in the activity.”


How can I tell if a table is the right size for my child? 

According to Warburg, a good table allows a child to sit with their feet flat on the floor. Tabletop height  should be 2 inches above the height of the elbow when the child is sitting. Hips, knees, and ankles should also be at 90-degree angles when the child is seated.

Stoffel added that kids should be able to gently rest their elbows on the table without reaching up or leaning down. She also gave us an example of what a child might look like if the chair and table are not a supportive size. “You might observe the child squirming, shifting around in the seat, getting up from the table frequently or demonstrating decreased success with fine motor tasks,” she said.

Our sources

Read the original article on Business Insider

How To Help Your Kids Develop An Entrepreneurial Mind

Reading Time: 4 mins

Every parent hopes they have a genius on their hands, let’s be honest! But what if you could encourage your child’s brilliant mind to get them started early in life with an entrepreneurial attitude? That’s exactly what the folks at www.teiyu.co.uk offer. Teiyu use a storytelling approach to build an entrepreneurial mindset in children…and you can find out more below.

Because they believe, as we do, that it’s possible to help nourish kids in developing an overall leadership attitude and skillset.

  1. Teach Them About Money Early On
  2. Encourage A Leadership Attitude
  3. Inspire Creative Thinking
  4. Help Them Develop Excellence 
  5. More Ways Kids Can Make Money

Teach Children About Money Early On

Help your kid make millions by teaching them early on

At school, we hardly get any financial education at all. Sure, we’re taught maths – but there’s no real insight into how percentages (interest rates) and sums (budgeting) really impact our lives outside of the classroom.

Teaching your children about money early in their development doesn’t mean giving them lectures, either! You could start by demonstrating the importance of saving, by giving pocket money each week. For older children, what about showing them how bills work – raise their pocket money allowance, but take some back to pay ‘bills’ (you can sneak it into a savings account for them, if you like!).

Another way to encourage children to think about money is to include them in financial activities. When you go grocery shopping, for example, take a calculator. Tell them your total budget and ask them to monitor whether you’re sticking to it. Or, if you go to a restaurant, give them a budget to spend on their meal and see what they can get with it from the menu.

When they understand how money makes the world go round, it’s much easier to encourage them to consider how they want to make their own money. You can, for example, exchange a few pounds for chores they complete around the house. For older children, encourage them to take on a part-time job – that could be making and selling crafts, taking on a paper round (they still exist!), or helping older neighbours with their shopping or gardening.

 

Encourage a Leadership Attitude

When your child understands how money works, it’s a good time to start encouraging their entrepreneurial mindset. This starts with a leadership attitude!

Teiyu is a great resource for children who want to get ahead. It’s a storytelling strategy about a lizard called Teiyu, who helps children solve problems in the land of Teguria. It’s a positive, encouraging experience that helps children embrace problem-solving strategies on their own.

Other ways to encourage a leadership attitude is to volunteer with community groups, or attend other groups such as Scouts or an after-school sports team. This helps develop important skills like communication, teamwork, and delegation – as well as helping your child identify their own strengths along the way.

 

Inspire Creative Thinking

Inspire creative thinking to help your kid make millions

Another key attribute to help your kid make millions in the future is to encourage creativity. Abstract problem-solving is a perfect way to help your child identify unique ways to reach a solution. You can do this through techniques such as the Teiyu stories, as well as showing them real-world problems that need a solution.

For example, let’s say you have an arts and crafts afternoon ahead of you. Let your children build a castle from a shoebox and cardboard – but tell them it has to do certain things! Does the drawbridge go up and down? Is there a secret entrance? Things like this will help your child take instruction but think creatively to reach the solution.

Creative thinking when it comes to money is another step towards an entrepreneurial mindset. For older children, you could ask what they want to buy with their pocket money. You can work out with them how long it will take to save up for it – and get them to find ways they could make more money to save faster. This might be, for example, selling some of their old clothes and toys that they’ve grown out of at a car boot sale. When they see how much faster they can get the thing they want to buy, if they make money as well as save it, you’re encouraging creative thoughts around money from a young age.

 

Help Your Child Develop Excellence

Being brilliant at something is the most notable attribute of all entrepreneurs. For some, it might be technological savvy. For others, they could be great with social skills. Help your child find their passion – and the skills they’re great at – and nurture them.

This will help them to develop excellence in these habits, skills, or hobbies over time. As they become confident in these areas, it’s easier for them to identify their strengths and how they might be able to use them to make money through an entrepreneurial mindset. One great example of this is the 12-year-old investor we spoke to on the MoneyMagpie podcast! He realised very quickly that understanding the stock market was a great skill, and he nurtured it, and is already a leading example to other children about how to invest wealth!

 

Special offer

Right now, MoneyMagpie readers are able to get an exclusive 50% off the Happy Pack. All you have to do is use the discount code HOPE50 at the checkout.

 

More Ways Kids Can Make Money

There are lots of ways to include your children from an early age when it comes to understanding (and making) money. Here are a few more ideas:

The post How To Help Your Kids Develop An Entrepreneurial Mind appeared first on MoneyMagpie.

The most common coronavirus variant in the US is no worse for kids than adults, despite more children showing up at hospital, experts say

kid hand sanitizer coronavirus
  • The most common coronavirus variant in the US infects kids more than the original virus.
  • But the variant, first found in the UK, is no more infectious or deadly in kids than in adults, experts told Insider.
  • This is despite anecdotal reports that, proportionally, more kids are showing up to hospital.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The most common coronavirus variant in the US is estimated to be twice as infectious as the original, and can spread quickly amongst children. Anecdotal reports suggest young people are increasingly filling up US hospitals – but experts tell Insider that the variant, called B.1.1.7, isn’t affecting kids any worse than adults.

The variant became the most common strain of the virus in the US on April 7. In Michigan, the state with the most B.1.1.7 cases, hospitalization rates were higher for kids in recent weeks, “therefore they must be sicker,” Rudolph Valentini, chief medical officer for Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, told Bloomberg on Monday.

“Until now we haven’t seen transmission like this in kids in the pandemic,” Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Minnesota and former advisor to President Joe Biden, told Meet the Press early April. “This B.1.1.7 variant infects kids very readily,” he said.

Higher numbers of kids in hospital doesn’t necessarily mean the variant affects kids differently. Younger people, especially those under 16, are the least likely to be vaccinated. So while many adults are protected from COVID-19, including the variant, kids aren’t, and some are ending up in hospital.

And many experts – including from the UK, where the variant was first detected in December – aren’t convinced it is more infectious for children than adults, and say the variant doesn’t appear to make kids sicker, either.

No evidence variant is not more infectious in kids than adults: Experts

There’s no evidence that B.1.1.7, the name of the variant, is more infectious in children than adults, Damian Roland, honorary associate professor in pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Leicester, told Insider.

“Denmark has kept schools open for young kids (even without masks) and hasn’t exploded,” Dr. Alasdair Munroe, clinical research fellow in pediatric infectious diseases at University Hospital Southampton, said on Twitter March 11.

In Denmark, where there are high numbers of B.1.1.7, those under 20 years old were least likely to transmit the virus to others in the household, and those younger than 10 were less likely to catch it than young adults aged 25 to 45, according to a pre-print study from the University of Copenhagen posted March 5.

Read more: Just 3 governors haven’t gotten their COVID-19 vaccine, Insider found. Here’s who – and why.

Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who has served on infectious disease advisory panels for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told CNBC that kids were getting infected more frequently because of how contagious the virus is, not because the variant poses a particular risk to them.

Roland told Insider that “it’s not the variant, cases rise when you’ve got a lot of coronavirus around.”

A spokesperson for The Royal College of Pediatrics & Child Health (RCPCH) told Insider that “cases in children continue to reflect cases in adults generally.” They said that the best way to protect the children is to maintain “low community infection rates.”

B.1.1.7 appears no more harmful to kids

Dr. Stephen Schrantz, an infectious disease expert at University of Chicago Medicine, told CNBC that young people, especially school-aged children, didn’t tend to get sick because their immune systems react less severely to the virus.”

Roland told Insider that kids “very rarely” get sick with COVID-19. “Often it’s children presenting with non-COVID illness and then happen to have it.”

About one-third of kids testing positive with COVID-19 in a London hospital during the second wave of the virus in the UK – when 70% of the capital’s coronavirus infections were caused by B.1.1.7 – were admitted for another illness, according to correspondence published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health medical journal in February.

A London-based study published in the same journal around the same time found that severe illness and death from COVID-19 in children was rare, accounting for just under 0.2% of all UK deaths in 10 to 19 year olds, and just under 2% for those under 9. More kids died from COVID-19 when there were lots of infections in the wider community, the study authors said.

Kids coronavirus
A temperature check is taken as students return to St. Joseph Catholic School in La Puente, California on November 16, 2020.

Some children who contracted coronavirus have experienced Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare condition that can sometimes cause severe illness or death.

It doesn’t appear that the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant increases the likelihood of developing MIS-C.

Dr Liz Whittaker, consultant pediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital in London, said in a statement January, when London had high levels of B.1.1.7 cases, that there were lots of children with positive COVID-19 tests, but “only small numbers” with severe disease or MIS-C, and these were within expected levels given the high infection rate at the time.

The number of children hospitalized, admitted to intensive care, or dying from COVID-19 hasn’t changed on a national level following the emergence of the B.1.1.7 variant in the UK, the RCPCH spokesperson said.

In Michigan, those aged 20 to 29 and 30 to 39 years-old are most likely to be infected with coronavirus, according to state data. But while hospital admissions are going up in all age groups by 25% each week, the highest rate remains those 50 to 59 and 60 to 69 – not younger people.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Women are taking a ‘rain check’ on babies, and it could change the shape of the economy

millennialskids_ Alexi Rosenfeld
The number of births have been declining during the pandemic.

  • America is seeing a “baby bust” as women put off having kids during the pandemic.
  • The drop in births intensifies a pre-pandemic trend of decreasing birth rates and fertility rates.
  • It could slow down the economy in the long term, but it could also result in a delayed baby boom.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The predicted baby boom is looking more like a baby bust.

While many thought a year locked up would lead to some serious babymaking, Brookings Institute economists Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine forecasted the opposite last June: The pandemic would lead to 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in 2021, they said.

So far, their predictions are on track.

Nine months after the first lockdowns began in the US, the number of births in the country had declined by 7%, according to data provided to CBS News by health departments across more than 24 states. And fertility rates – the number of live births a woman is expected to have over her lifetime – are already lower in the first few months of 2021, said Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University.

“We’re going to see many fewer babies in 2021,” she told Insider.

The drop continues a pre-pandemic trend of declining birth rates and fertility rates, as childbearing women, many of whom are millennials, delay having children. Both of these rates decreased by 2% from 2017 to 2018, per the latest CDC data, with the birth rate hitting its lowest in 32 years. As of January 2020, the US fertility rate sat at 1.73 births per mother – a stark contrast from the peak in 1957 at 3.77 births per women.

Demographers have expressed concerns over what this means for the future of America, as the fertility rate is below the replacement rate – producing as many births each year as deaths – of 2.1 births per woman.

The decline in births over time is the result of both economic distress as well as progress for women in the workplace, with potential long-term implications, such as a smaller workforce and higher cost of caring for the aging. It’s too soon to say whether we should be concerned about these economic effects, but it’s already clear the economy is in for a big change based off what happens to the American birthrate.

Catching up to a global shift

American women are having babies later. While US birth rates have declined for nearly all age groups of women under 35, per latest CDC data, they rose for women in their late 30s and early 40s.

But this is actually bringing the US in line with worldwide trends – or helping it catch up, depending on your perspective. High-income countries, and increasingly middle-income ones, have long seen women delaying their first child until later ages compared to American women, Percheski said.

It’s a sign of better access to education and employment opportunities, a rise in individualism and women’s autonomy, better sex education, and a shift from religious-based to more secular values, she said. But on a more individual level, having kids at a later age is also a result of women choosing to stay in school longer, waiting until later to marry, and paying off student debt first.

mother baby
American women delaying childbearing is bringing the US in line with worldwide trends.

To be sure, macroeconomic forces are another major factor in the decision to postpone having kids. Millennials have grappled with several of these, from the lingering effects of the Great Recession to soaring living costs for things like housing and, of course, childcare.

Finances are one of the top reasons why American millennials aren’t having kids or are having fewer kids than they considered ideal, Insider’s Shana Lebowitz reported, citing a survey by The New York Times. To raise a child to age 18 in America, it’ll cost parents an average of $230,000.

A ‘rain check’ on babies

Recessions typically have the strongest economic influence on birth and fertility rates. “People tend to wait during periods of political and social and rest,” Percheski said.

The Great Recession saw a 9% decline in births, per Brookings, about 400,000 babies fewer than there would have been otherwise. And while the Spanish Flu only resulted in an economic contraction, that public health crisis also led to a drop in births. A pandemic lumps together economic and health turmoil, which Brookings says could result in a greater impact on births.

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Sara Adelman became a working-from-home mom during the pandemic. Birth rates typically decline during periods of economic crisis.

But whether the current lapse in babymaking will translate to fewer babies overall or just a childbirth postponement, Percheski said. She said she thinks we’ll see a reduction in the number of women having two or three kids, as happened during the financial crisis.

Mauro Guillén, Wharton professor and author of “2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future” told Insider that the decline in births is a “temporary blip,” likely to last one to two years.

“Young couples have said, ‘Give me a rain check, I don’t want the baby now because there’s too much uncertainty,'” he said. “But they will have those babies later. They don’t cancel their plans to have babies for life.”

A ‘demographic time bomb?’

A decline in birth rates has sparked worries that the US may be headed for what’s known as a “demographic time bomb,” in which an aging population isn’t replaced by enough young workers.

This could slow the economy in the long term by creating higher government costs and a smaller workforce, who will have to front the care costs for aging populations. It could also create a shortage of pension and social security-type funds and impact things like school enrollment and college demand.

Japan is a famous example of just such a time bomb, long ticking demographically. Experts in that country are now worried that a pandemic-fueled baby bust could worsen the country’s aging crisis that strains the working population. Like Japan, Italy is facing an aging population and dropping fertility rates, to the point where the government has begun issuing fertility ads. So far, high levels of immigration have kept the US from seeing the same economic impact that has hit these other countries.

But Percheski said a decline in births isn’t necessarily bad – it will just require structural adjustments, like creating new public policies that respond to changes in population size.

family child tax credit mothers
Today’s baby bust could end up being tomorrow’s baby boom.

In some ways, fewer classmates for those born in 2021 could be good, she added.”If there are fewer people competing for jobs when they hit the job market, that’s not bad from their perspective, but it does require us to make adjustments.”

America can also change now to avoid having to do it later, such as making childcare more affordable. “Raising children is one of the great joys of life, but it’s also one of the great burdens,” economist Tyler Cowen said in a recent panel with the American Enterprise Institute. “If we don’t have innovations to make raising children either easier or more fun or less costly, we’re in big trouble.”

But if the pandemic-fueled birth decline just results in women bearing children at a later age rather than having fewer kids or none at all, per Brookings, the fertility rate may be underestimated. It could even result in a delayed baby boom.

Guillen said he thinks we’ll see a higher number of births in 2022 and 2023, which could make preschools fuller. He said he’s more concerned with the mortality rate than the birth rate, but in any case the full effects of the birth decline won’t truly be seen until 20 to 30 years later.

“Generally, it would be better to have a smoother evolution of pace, but recessions always have their effect,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A parent’s review of Disney Plus: It’s hands down the best streaming service for kids

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Disney_Plus_kids_profile_UK
Disney Plus features a ton of kid-friendly content.

  • Disney Plus is packed with family-friendly entertainment perfect for parents and their kids.
  • Parental controls allow you to fine-tune what your kids can watch and set a PIN to protect profiles.
  • At $8 a month, Disney Plus is also affordable, making it a great choice for families on a budget.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyMonthly Subscription Service (small)

Bringing the magic of Disney to the small screen, the Disney Plus streaming service has a lot to offer families and kids. And best of all, the platform comes in at a budget-friendly price of just $8 a month.

After spending over a year watching the service with my wife, our 8-year-old daughter, and our 11-year-old son, I continue to be impressed by the platform’s selection of all-ages content and kid-friendly navigation options. Here’s why Disney Plus remains our go-to streaming service for family viewing.

What can kids watch on Disney Plus?

wonderful world of mickey mouse

Disney Plus features a ton of movies and shows for kids and families. There’s a good mixture of blockbuster films and TV series that cover Disney’s entire library, from classics like “Snow White” and “101 Dalmatians” to recent releases like “Moana” and “Frozen II.” Live-action versions of “Aladdin” and “Lion King” sit alongside the animated originals.

The Disney Plus catalog also includes Pixar titles like “Toy Story,” Marvel superhero blockbusters, “Star Wars” cartoons and movies, documentaries from National Geographic, and plenty of kid-friendly titles from Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD.

In the US, Disney Plus has no R-rated content at all. The maximum ratings are PG-13 for movies and TV-14 for shows. This makes its library uniquely suited for families. Outside of the US, Disney Plus recently added an adult-focused section called Star, which does include R-rated movies and mature shows. Thankfully, Disney makes it easy to restrict access to these programs if you have kids.

My family experience with Disney Plus

the mandalorian
“The Mandalorian”

We signed up for Disney Plus when it first launched, and I recently renewed it for another year. As big “Star Wars” and Marvel fans, my whole family has enjoyed watching and rewatching the major movies.

The highlight of the service so far has been “The Mandalorian,” which became a weekly treat that brought us all together. We’ve also enjoyed introducing our bemused kids to nostalgic movies like “The Black Hole” and “Freaky Friday.” There’s a lot of choice if you’re hunting for family-friendly films, and we often pick something from Disney Plus for family movie nights.

My 8-year-old daughter is by far the most avid watcher of Disney Plus in the house. She loves the Disney and Pixar movies and watches favorites over and over. She also enjoys many of the Disney shows. My 11-year-old son is less interested, but there are certain series they frequently watch together, such as “Phineas and Ferb,” “Gravity Falls,” and “The Simpsons.” He also likes some of the National Geographic documentaries.

My wife and I enjoyed “WandaVision,” but that’s one of the few things we’ve watched on Disney Plus without the kids. That is beginning to change, however, with the addition of Star in the UK where we live.

Parental controls on Disney Plus

Disney Plus parental controls
Parental controls are included to restrict what kids can watch on Disney Plus.

With the launch of Star in international markets, Disney Plus revamped its parental controls, enabling optional PIN protection for profiles. The updated parental controls rolled out globally, so they also brought new options to parents in the US.

When creating a profile for your child, you can now specify the content rating from TV-Y at the bottom of the scale all the way up to TV-14. This gives you tighter control for kids of different ages.

You can also toggle on “Kid’s Profile,” which changes the Disney Plus interface and limits the profile to content that’s suitable for kids. In the US, that means shows rated up to TV-Y7-FV and films rated G. The kid’s interface also organizes titles into simpler categories like “Super heroes” or “Princesses” instead of the “Marvel” or “Disney” categories you see with regular profiles.

The “Kid’s Profile” is ideal for younger children and, as long as you add a PIN to other profiles, there’s no danger your child will find anything inappropriate.

There is one potential issue here for families with multiple children, however. We set up PIN protection for the adult profiles, but didn’t want to for the kids. We allow my son to access 12+ content, while my daughter has the “Kid’s Profile” setting. But we soon found that this meant there was nothing stopping my daughter from choosing my son’s profile to gain access to a slightly wider library. The only way around this was to add a PIN to my son’s profile.

Can different family members watch at the same time?

Disney Plus profiles
Disney Plus supports multiple profiles.

For any family-friendly streaming service it’s important to have support for a wide range of devices, and the option to have multiple simultaneous streams. Disney Plus nails this with support for most smart TV brands, Roku, Fire TV, PlayStation, Xbox, and pretty much any Android or Apple media device you can buy. You can also stream through a web browser.

You can have Disney Plus play on four devices simultaneously, so you and you children can watch different titles at the same time. You can also download as much content as you want on up to ten mobiles devices. This makes it easy to save shows for your kids to watch later when you might not have access to an internet connection.

How does Disney Plus compare to other services?

We also subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Technically speaking, Disney Plus has some advantages since it offers 4K movies at no extra cost and it handles limited Wi-Fi bandwidth gracefully.

With Netflix, you need a Premium account at $18 a month to get 4K and stream on four screens simultaneously. With Prime Video, there’s no extra cost for 4K, but you are limited to three simultaneous streams. Prime Video is also slightly more expensive at $9 a month on its own, or $13 a month as part of Amazon Prime.

There are more adult-focused titles on Netflix and Prime, but Disney Plus is better for young kids. Classic Disney films are the kind of movies that kids will watch over and over. This type of content is disappearing from other services as Disney continues to make its programs exclusive to Disney Plus.

Netflix and Prime Video do offer some family favorites like “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “Pokemon,” and “Scooby-Doo,” but we’ve also found that they carry a lot of subpar shows. The fact that they change content often can also lead to disappointment. So far, Disney Plus seems to have a more permanent library.

There’s quantity and quality for kids on Disney Plus. If family viewing is a priority for you, then Disney Plus can’t be beat right now.

Should your family get Disney Plus?

Disney Plus adult profile UK

Choosing a streaming service for your family will largely depend on your children’s tastes and your own beliefs about what’s appropriate. We feel Disney Plus is a must-have for kids around 10 and younger, but it isn’t as good for older kids unless they’re heavily into “Star Wars” or Marvel.

It’s nice to have a streaming service you can browse together without fear of inappropriate content, and there’s always something on Disney Plus that you can watch with a family of all ages.

You can sign up for Disney Plus today for $8 a month or $80 a year. In the US, you can bundle the service with Hulu and ESPN+ for $14 a month. This is a great way to supplement your Disney Plus subscription with access to live sports and more adult-focused content, making the bundle a value that’s equally strong for kids and their parents.

Monthly Subscription Service (small)Bundle Monthly Subscription (small)

Read the original article on Business Insider

I overcame the fear and stigma of giving my kid extra screen time during the pandemic. Here’s why he’s better off for it.

Melissa Petro
Petro with her husband and kids.

  • Experts used to urge parents to only allow up to one hour of screen time a day for kids.
  • As a working mom, Melissa Petro says she overcame the stigma that allowing extra screen time made her a bad parent.
  • She says more parents and experts are softening their stances on screen time — and many kids are happier for it.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

After going through a very public and humiliating job loss in my early 30s, I considered myself impervious to other people’s opinions. Then at 38 years old I became a mom, and I got a sort of shock. When it came to parenting, I learned, everyone has an opinion on everything, from breast versus bottle to how much personal information to post about your kids online (if any), to whether or not it’s traumatic to let a baby “cry it out.” 

But one of the greatest issues up for debate, I learned, was screen time. 

In 2017, the year my son was born, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was recommending no screen time for children younger than 18 months and up to one supervised hour of screen time a day for kids ages 18 to 24. Children over the age of two were also encouraged to limit their screen time to under an hour. 

For the most part, the parents I knew followed these recommendations – or felt guilty when they didn’t.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered childcare centers and schools, kids are spending more time than ever in front of their devices, and experts are walking back their super strict screen time guidelines and even hyping the benefits

The news that screen time may not be as evil as once feared – and could even be beneficial – comes as no surprise to my husband and me. Like most parents, we were initially ambivalent about giving our young toddler an iPad or setting the baby up in front of the TV. But for some time – and well, before a pandemic forced our hand – we came around to the idea of allowing our young children to explore technology, and began recognizing the benefits immediately.

These days, screen time is a given. But not so long ago, it was taboo.

Melissa Petro kids
The author’s kids.

As a consequence of the pandemic, children’s screen time has soared, and attitudes towards the technology has softened, and so it feels almost nostalgic to remember a time when it was taken for granted that any screen time at all (let alone too much) would have a deleterious effect on our kids.

In Facebook mom groups I gravitated to as a first time mom, anti-screen time screeds were an almost daily occurrence. Moms posted dubiously sourced articles suggesting screens were to blame for a host of physical and mental health issues, everything from obesity and eye strain to anxiety, depression, and even suicide.

Most moms kept vigilant track of the amount of time their kids spent in front of smartphones, computers, television, or video game consoles, while others banned devices entirely.

While the moms encouraged one another to follow experts’ ‘better safe than sorry’ approach, they were never harsh.

When every so often, someone would guiltily confess how she occasionally permitted a little Daniel Tiger in the background while she prepared dinner – or that she handed her kid a tablet so that she could shower in peace – other moms would jump in to reassure her and confess their own transgressions.

Rarely would a mom admit how she personally relied on screens as a habit, but I saw them out in the world. In the grocery store and on the subway, parents occupied their babies in strollers with smartphones. Toddlers, obviously familiar with the technology, huddled over glowing tablets in restaurants while their parents enjoyed a quiet meal. 

Even less visible were the parents who – without reliable, affordable childcare – felt no choice but to put their children in front of a screen while they attended to professional responsibilities. 

Long before COVID-19 shuttered daycares and in-person learning, there have been moms who couldn’t afford to eschew screens.

Melissa Petro
Family lunchtime.

From the beginning, it was our instinct that screens weren’t all “bad” – after all, both my husband and I both work in digital media. Still, debates over screen time made me doubt my maternal instincts, and I probably wouldn’t have given our son a tablet if it hadn’t become necessary.

My son Oscar was still in his mini crib when we introduced him to Bi mmi Boo, one of countless of educational apps designed specifically for young kids. By then, balancing motherhood and a career had proved impossible. 

It wasn’t enough to work while my baby napped. My career was rapidly tanking, and I was not making ends meet. The apartment was a disaster. I was exhausted, burnt out, and depressed.

Within no time, our son had figured out the basic mechanics, navigating from the app to the home screen and back again. He smiled in delight as he figured out how to make the cartoon bear dance. 

Screen time was more than convenient – it was clearly beneficial to my son.

From then on, Oscar explored his tablet independently for at least an hour or two every day. While I completed assignments or did housework, my son learned his letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. Within weeks, Oscar was navigating the internet like a pro, having fun and hitting developmental milestones – not in spite of technology, but because of it.

By the time the COVID crisis began affecting us last March, my son’s tablet had become just another toy. He masters educational games just as fast as we download them, and explores content and develops interests free from my influence. Sure, in the beginning he got sucked into a lot of videos of tires crushing stuff. But eventually, he’d gravitated towards videos about horses, and had learned the names for at least two dozen construction vehicles (two subjects I might not have thought to introduce on my own). 

All the while, he’s grown increasingly competent and confident with technology. My husband and I joke that, at three years old, he is already more tech savvy than we are. Not surprising, given that before his first birthday, he’d already taught himself how to skip ads.

Thanks to COVID-19, it’s no longer a scarlet letter to say your kid gets a little – or even a lot – of screen time in a day.

Melissa Petro
Screen time with dad.

In the past year, some experts have revised their positions on screen time, walking back warning and offering practical advice as opposed to arbitrary time limits. One expert who literally wrote a book about setting screen time limits went so far as to apologize for being so out of touch. 

It’s a step in the right direction and undoubtedly a relief for parents who agonize. Still, I can’t help but feel dismayed, and more than a little vindicated. As other writers have articulated, screen time limit ‘rules’ were rooted in classism and racism, and I agree with those who declared it a feminist issue.

Using screens to help my household to function didn’t make me a negligent mother – nor did it make my kid “moody, crazy, and lazy“, as one particularly offensive headline suggested. 

Instead, introducing technology early was an act of resourcefulness. As for my son: When he’s not building Lego boats, drawing underwater scenes, or pretending to be a oceanographer, he’s usually online, researching everything there is to learn about fish, oceans, and boats. Typical toddler obsessions aside, he’s well-rounded and intelligent, creative, clever, and kind.  

I’m not immune to mom shame, but it doesn’t control me like it used to. And when it comes to screens, I’m clear: My kid’s alright – and even after loads and loads of screen time, your kid will be alright, too.

Read the original article on Business Insider

24 best Valentine’s Day gift ideas for kids of all ages in 2021

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

primary
Primary’s rainbow heart pajama set is a comfy and cute Valentine’s gift for kids.

  • This Valentine’s Day, don’t forget the little ones in your life. 
  • You can’t go wrong with teddy bears or sweets, but if you’re looking to get a little more creative, we rounded up great Valentine’s Day gifts kids will love. 
  • Looking for more gift ideas for everyone in your life? Check out all of Insider Reviews’ Valentine’s Day gift ideas, including our favorite gifts for him and her.

You found the perfect gift for your partner – now it’s time to find something special for the little ones you love. As adults, we show the kids in our lives we love them every day with our kindness, support, and all that good stuff, but Valentine’s Day is a unique time to show your little ones you love them with some good old-fashioned gifting. 

Whether you’re looking for a gift for a newborn, a rambunctious toddler, or a clever elementary-schooler, we’ve got you covered. We rounded up 24 Valentine’s gifts ideas that are great for all kinds of kids – think books, crafts, and lots of sugary treats. 

Keep reading for 24 Valentine’s Day gifts that any kid will love:

An adorable new stuffed animal

llama

Lulu the Llama, available at Brooklinen, $38

Brooklinen’s aptly and adorably named baby line, Brooklittles, has everything you need to make the cutest nursery ever, including this soft and cuddly stuffed animal that your little one will love snuggling with. 

The cutest little mittens

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Valentine Mittens with Heart, available at Etsy, from $31.50

These adorable mittens will keep their little hands toasty on cold days, plus the red heart adds a festive touch. There are sizes to fit babies, children, and even adults, so everyone can have a pair. 

A cute pair of knit loafers

rothys

Kids Loafer, available at Rothy’s, $65

Little kids will love getting to wear the same shoes as the big kids. Rothy’s are made out of recycled water bottles and are comfortable enough (and machine-washable) for all of their adventures. There are sneakers too if that’s more their style.

A super sugary treat

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B’Day Truffle Dozen Box, available at Milk Bar Store, $24

Is there anything kids love more than sugar? These dense, chewy, rainbow cake truffles are sure to satisfy their sweet tooth. 

A kinetic sand bakeshop

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Kinetic Sand Bake Shoppe Playset, available at Target, $9.59

This kinetic sand can be easily molded into all sorts of fun shapes. This set comes with some “baking tools” so they can make cookies and cupcakes to start. Sensory toys like kinetic sand are also great for soothing overstimulated kids.

A Disney+ subscription to watch their favorite movies

disney plus 4x3

Subscribe for $6.99/month or $69.99/year

Get unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here. And if you need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.

A city they can build themselves

little architect stem toy

Arckit Play Little Architect, available at Maisonette, $69

With 130 pieces of all different shapes, kids can create the pastel-colored city of their dreams with this STEAM toy.

A festive pair of pajamas

primary
Primary’s rainbow heart pajama set is a comfy and cute Valentine’s gift for kids.

Rainbow Heart PJ Top, available at Primary, $16

Rainbow Heart PJ Pant, available at Primary, $16

Any kid will love getting these cozy pajamas with a festive twist in the form of lots and lots of colorful hearts. 

A heartfelt book you’ve filled out

love book, $10

“What I Love About You by Me” Book, available at Barnes & Noble, $9.95

Give your kid a book filled with all of the reasons you love and appreciate them. They can look back on it whenever they need a little reminder that they’re awesome. 

A fuzzy, decorative pillow

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Heart Faux Fur & Velvet Throw Pillow, available at Target, $16.99

Show your kids you “heart” them with this heart-shaped decorative pillow that adds a warm and fuzzy touch to their bed. 

A rainbow silk streamer

sarahs silks waldorf streamer

Sarah’s Silks Rainbow Silk Streamer, available at Amazon, $12.95

Kids love using their imaginations, which makes something as simple as a rainbow silk a great gift. Whether they use it for twirling, dancing, or playing dress-up, they’ll have fun getting creative with it.

A festive and funny book

junie b jones

“Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime” by Barbara Park, available at Amazon, $4.24

Junie B. Jones is an iconic and hilarious Kindergartner that kids love. Little ones have been reading her series for over 25 years! Any tiny bookworm will love working on their reading skills with this funny story about Junie B. Jones navigating “Valentime’s Day”.

A rainbow scratch-off note pad

melissa and doug scratch pad

Melissa & Doug Scratch Art Box of Rainbow Mini Notes, available at Amazon, $8.99

A note pad doesn’t seem all that exciting, unless you give them this one. Once they scratch off the black coating, a bright rainbow pattern will be revealed. They can use it to write notes or just create fun drawings. 

Crayons that are customized with their name

crayons

Personalized Rainbow Name Crayons, available at Etsy, from $19.95

Show your love for a young artist in your life with a personalized gift. Coloring gets a lot more fun with these giant rainbow crayons that spell out their name. 

A challenging LEGO set

Legos ideas ship $61.75

LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle, available at Amazon, $85.43

This LEGO set is a challenging and fun way for kids to work on their building and problem-solving skills. 

An inspiring poster

heros

Heroic Girls in Books Poster, available at Uncommon Goods, $29

Inspire your kids, no matter their gender, with this cute poster, featuring 100 inspiring women characters from great books. 

A heart-shaped teether

chewbeads heart shaped teether

Chewbeads Brooklyn Teether, available at Amazon, $14.50

On theme for Valentine’s Day, this teether — which features silicone and wood parts — can be attached to strollers and car seats so babies are distracted from the discomfort of teething.

A snuggly teddy that turns into a hoodie

cubcoats

Cubcoats hoodies, available at Cubcoats, from $35

What looks like an adorable stuffed animal at first glance can be rolled out into a full-sized, fuzzy hoodie. Kids will be so excited when they realize they can take their favorite snuggly toy with them everywhere they go. 

Read our full review here.

A singing pillow inspired by a viral song

baby shark

WowWee Baby Shark Official Song Cube, available at Amazon, $12.99

Kids are constantly singing a song about baby sharks — we don’t know why, but it seems like they’re really into it. Give them this plush cube that sings four different versions of “Baby Shark” so they can listen to the viral song all the time.

A playset for an aspiring baker

melissa doug slice bake cookie set

Melissa and Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set, available at Target and Walmart, from $15.79

Start little bakers off with a wooden slice and bake cookie set. They can use the knife to slice through the cookie “tube” and mix and match the icing toppings. 

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A craft kit for making sweet cards

Valentines Day Craft Kit Amazon

Kid Made Modern Valentines Craft Kit, available at Amazon and Maisonette, from $16.99

Make home decorations or little love notes with these art supplies, from gel pens to metallic paper and more. The popsicle sticks and felt hearts are perfect for handmade valentines, but the crafting can continue long after February 14.

Recommended ages: 6 years and up

A tee to spell out how you feel

alphabet_heart herwholeheart etsy

ABC I Love You Shirt, available at Etsy, $21.94

This love-themed baseball tee is sweet and neutral enough to wear year round. Stick with red and white, or choose from a variety of color combinations.

Available sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

A colorful slime pack

Elmer_s_Glue_20_Count_Slime Amazon

Elmer’s 20 Count Mini Premade Slime Party Pack, available at Amazon, Target, and Walmart, from $14.99

For a slime super-fan, nothing says love like 20 jars of premade slime. Each slime comes with a set of mix-ins for even more gooey fun. 

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A toy full of surprises

Two Pack_Mini Brands_Surprise_Balls Amazon

Zuru Mini Brands Double Pack, available at Amazon, $13.99

Surprise them with Mini Brands and let the unboxing joy begin. Plus, in this two-pack, collectors have double the chances to find a rare gold or glow-in-the-dark Mini Brand.

Recommended ages: 3 years and up

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best snow sleds

  • A proper snow sled is an entertaining (and exciting) way to spend a snow day, no matter if you’re playing hooky from work or just looking to pass some time on the weekend. 
  • The best sleds should all have these three things in common: Enough surface area for one to two people to ride comfortably, a design that allows a smooth (and fast) ride, and some form of steering wheel or rope for added stability. 
  • Our top pick, the Slippery Racer Downhill Xtreme Toboggan Snow Sled, is a swift and stable sled that’s large enough for both an adult and child to share a ride together. 

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Sledding is a winter pastime that’s as thrilling as it is fun. Not only is it a popular recreational activity for people of all ages but variations of sledding (i.e. the luge, skeleton, and bobsled) are beloved Olympic sports. Regardless of whether you’re gunning for a gold medal or just want to see how fast you can go careening down a snow-filled hill, you’ll always need that one thing that gets you from Point A to wherever you land on Point B: A sled. 

But not all sleds are created equal, and you don’t even need a genuine, by-the-book sled to get downhill. In addition to those classic metal and wood sleds, you can also use a plastic toboggan-style sled, an inflatable intertube, and even a round saucer (and who hasn’t just used a garbage lid?). 

If you crave the thrill of downhill snow sledding but aren’t sure which sled variant is best, we have you covered: The following guide includes some helpful tips and info on the best sleds for a range of use cases. With one of these sleds, you’ll be able to turn any normal snow day into a snow sled day. They’re also suitable for use with your kids.

Here are the best sleds you can buy:

Updated on 12/23/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the introduction for relevancy, revised the copy for each pick, checked the availability of all recommended sleds, and updated the prices and links where necessary. 

Best sled overall

sled

The Slippery Racer Downhill XTreme Toboggan Snow Sled was designed for top speeds, but it’s also stable enough for a parent and child to safely enjoy together.

Pros: Fast on most types of snow, fits adult and child, durable plastic body

Cons: Bottom scratches and loses slickness over time

The Slippery Racer Downhill XTreme Toboggan Snow Sled is the closest adult-sized approximation to the sled I used as a kid. It has the classic plastic toboggan shape with a few upgrades I would’ve been glad to see as a kid but that is certainly enjoyable today.

These include cutout handles for a secure grip and easy carrying, a proprietary IceVex cold-resistant coating that helps prevent cracking and scratching, and construction using such a durable yet flexible plastic that the sled can bend to 90 degrees without breaking.

The bottom of the 48-inch long Slippery Racer toboggan is smooth and slick, helping it to glide over all sorts of snow, from soft, fresh powder to heavier, wetter packed snow. The sled features a slight taper toward the front that increases its dynamic performance and also serves to accommodate a smaller rider during an adult-child tandem ride.

While you should always avoid rocks, trees, and other solid objects during a sled ride, should you endure an impact with some such obstacle, know that the sled can take the abuse without breaking. That’s backed up by a yearlong warranty Slippery Racer throws in with each purchase.

And while the Slippery Racer Downhill XTreme Toboggan is an adult-sized sled, it’s also more than suitable for kids. The site ToyTruckToys.com recommends it for kids over the age of four, calling it a “beginner to intermediate” sled.

Best inflatable snow tube

snow tube

The A-DUDU Inflatable Snow Tube gives a swift, comfortable ride down the hill, and its air-filled design cushions riders against the jolts and bumps along the way.

Pros: Smooth and comfortable ride, supports up to 250 pounds, easy to store when not in use

Cons: Requires inflation prior to use, cannot be steered or controlled

One of the best things about an inflatable snow tube is the fact that when it’s not being used, it can be deflated, folded up, and stored in a cabinet or drawer. That makes the A-DUDU Inflatable Snow Tube a great choice for the apartment-renter for whom free space is at a premium.

This tube can zip riders up to 250 pounds down a snowy hill at great speed. The A-DUDU Inflatable Snow Tube measures 47-inches in diameter, easily supporting larger, taller adults, and is suitable for use by two kids at the same time, provided they’re ready to share those handles.

The rugged PVC exterior of the tube resists tears and punctures and resists cracking even in temperatures as cold as negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The tube inflates quickly by mouth or with an air pump and stays sealed shut thanks to a double-locking valve.

Snow tubes might be nearly impossible to control, but they do absorb many of the bumps and jumps along the way, thanks to that huge cushion of air. And besides, less control means more excitement.

Best classic runner sled

sled

The Flexible Flyer Steel Runner Sled is a timeless classic made with a birch wood deck and red steel runners.

Pros: Steering bar controls direction, beautiful classic style, last for years

Cons: Rather expensive, greater risk of injury than with other sled types

You could easily be forgiven for buying the Flexible Flyer Steel Runner Sled as a piece of faux-vintage decoration. It would look great beside the fireplace, above the mantle, or among the collection of wacky tchotchkes on the wall of a casual dining restaurant. But where this sleigh-style sled truly belongs is flying down a snowy hill at high speed.

Though a wood and steel runner sled may look antiquated, there’s a reason they’ve been produced since the late 1880s: They flat-out work. While not suitable for use on fresh powdery snow, in the right conditions, this sled is as fast as almost any modern option while also allowing you to control your ride. With a flexible steering bar at the front of the sled, you can steer right or left and enjoy the ideal route down, avoiding obstacles and people and hitting jumps and drifts, if that’s your thing.

The sled is recommended for ages five and older and can accommodate most adults. I’d probably recommend you wait until the kids are a bit older than five, personally, as the chance for injury is a bit higher with this sled than with a plastic toboggan or inflated snow tube. Wood and steel just hurt more than plastic.

Best saucer sled

Lucky Bums sled

The Lucky Bums Powder Coated Metal Saucer might be impossible to steer, but it’s also basically impossible to ride without a smile on your face.

Pros: Works on most types of snow, built to last for years, suitable for wide age range

Cons: Impossible to steer

If you’ve seen the classic comedy “Christmas Vacation,” starring Chevy Chase, then you know a flying saucer style sled can potentially lead to a tragicomic tableau. Skip the extra grease on the bottom, and you should be able to enjoy this saucer without quite as much risk of personal injury as Chase’s Clark Griswold while still having lots of fun this winter.

The lightweight but virtually indestructible Lucky Bums Powder Coated Metal Saucer is fun for kids and adults alike thanks to the simplicity and durability of its design. Even a smaller child or a larger adult should be able to fit on this sled thanks to its 25-inch diameter. You’ll just have to sit cross-legged, of course. And despite being made of metal, the saucer only weighs six pounds, so even a younger child can carry it back up the hill.

You can’t steer a saucer — that much is important to know going in — but they also tend to work well on all sorts of snow, from slush to ice to powder to those perfect large, downy flakes. While a runner sled bogs down on lighter, fluffier snow and a toboggan can sink into slushier snow under a larger rider’s weight, this smooth disc will slip along over all sorts of wintry precipitation with ease.

Check out more Insider Reviews winter gear guides

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