Weekly family rail, with tips on giving baby gifts, a review of "Glee" and more.

Tip of the Week

Gift-buying season lasts all year these days, from end-of-year-holidays to spring graduations and the annual August baby boom (it's the month when the most babies are born, according to census figures). More than any other gift-buying task, finding unique baby gifts can be a challenge.

Personalized options are unique baby gifts that both delight parents and provide kids with plenty of playtime enjoyment. Seeing their own name or image on a beloved possession helps reinforce children's sense of self and encourages them to interact with their environment. Here are five ideas for personalized baby gifts that you can give at any time of year:

1. Make her the star of her own story. Celebrity moms Brooke Shields, Courtney Cox and Jessica Alba have all purchased personalized books from children's publisher ISeeMe.com. The site offers a large selection of colorful, appealing, age-appropriate books that can be personalized with a child's name. Some books include the child's name on the cover, others throughout the story, and still others feature rhymes and text about the spelling of the child's name.

2. Help him grow into his personality. Kids love growth charts. Being able to track their own progress helps anchor children to their past while encouraging them to look toward the future. Personalizing growth charts can be as simple as adding the child's name to the top of a wall-mounted chart. You can also find plenty of options that elevate the level of personalization.

3. Let her make her mark on the world. Craft-making has an almost universal appeal for children, and when the crafts involve personalization, kids enjoy them even more. It's easy to find stepping stone kits that can be personalized with a child's name, handprint or even footprint. Young children will enjoy making the kit with a parent and putting their handprint in the finished product. Parents of infants can also cherish the project when they create it themselves and press their baby's footprint into the clay.

4. Protect his "lovey" from all challengers. It's not unusual for babies and very young children to have a favorite stuffed animal or security blanket. A "lovey" helps them fall asleep, and can provide comfort and even companionship. Personalizing a child's security blanket or stuffed animal with her name can help reinforce her sense of self and understanding of the concept of possession.

5. Pictures are worth a thousand words. It's easy to find online software and photo websites that allow you to create high-quality photo books with your own images. Parents will love seeing their pride and joy featured in a photo montage. Babies love looking at pictures of faces, something that helps stimulate their brain development. Younger children also love picture books and it's easy to tell them the tale of their young lives using pictures of themselves and loved ones.


Family Screening Room

“Glee: The 3D Concert Movie”

Rated: PG (for thematic elements, brief language and some sensuality)

Length: 84 minutes

Synopsis: A concert documentary shot during the Glee Live! In Concert! summer 2011 tour.

Violence/scary rating: 1

Sexual-content rating: 3

Profanity rating: 2

Drugs/alcohol rating: 2

Family Time rating: 2.5. The movie is on par with the TV show, so if your kids watch that, the movie should be fine for them as well.

(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)

Book Report

“Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #6)” by Jeff Kinney

Ages: 8-11

Pages: 224

Synopsis: The “Wimpy Kid” series is back this November with the sixth book in the series, “Cabin Fever.” If you liked the previous books, you’re sure to enjoy this one as well.

Did You Know

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said that 9 percent of U.S. children are diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That’s up 2 percent from a decade ago.

GateHouse News Service