Really important study--we need your help

Hi all. This was supposed to post Monday, so I'm attaching Tuesday's post to the end of it. Please please read through the first part and pass it on.

Leslie Davis, a researcher at Illinois State University (in the U.S.) is doing a study on pre-natal and post-partum depression, and she's trying to tease out the differences in mood disorders (depression vs. anxiety, etc.) so that they can work on more effective plans for treatment.

She needs women to fill out their online survey. You are eligible if you are pregnant and 26 weeks along or more, or if you are between 6 week and 6 months post-partum.

Please, please please, if you are in this category or know people who are, fill out the survey. Forward on the URL to everyone in your childbirth ed class, new moms' group, breastfeeding support group, online support group. Ask the moderator of any online boards you post on if you can post the link there.

The more responses the researcher gets, the better info she'll have and the better prevention/diagnosis/treatment we'll be able to offer to pregnant women and new mothers. (The results of the study should be available in the summer of 2008, so I'm going to ask Leslie to update us then on what she found.)

Now, for Tuesday's post, I'm cleaning up holiday gift requests.

A grandmother is looking for good toy suggestions for 2 1/2 year-old twins (boy/girl, if that affects your response any).

Following up on the post last week about asking friends and relatives for nicer quality toys, Kristen wants to make things as easy as possible for her relatives:

"So I need some help...I have a 6 month old son and I'm trying to buy him toys that are made in the US or Europe.  Any good websites or stores that you can suggest?  I'm trying to encourage my family and friends to buy him the more expensive toys that are of better quality than the cheap plastic ones and I know that options are important."

Melissa writes:

"My son will be 4 in mid-December.  As one would expect he is full of questions about the world and everything in it.  We have gone to the library with some questions and done some research on the internet, but I thought we might also want to look at having a good children's illustrated (we are not quite reading just yet, but trying hard) dictionary or a set of encyclopedias at home for some old fashioned look it up exploration.  Do you are your readers have any recommendations?"

My 5 1/2-year-old is loving the Scholastic Children's Dictionary I listed over there on the left in the sidebar. I'm not sure about encyclopedias, but I'm sure someone will have suggestions. I just discovered Simple Wikipedia, which is just Wikipedia, but using simple language and without some of the content that makes regular Wikipedia so much fun but also too wild for kids.

Then Liz writes:

"I am looking for a good book that might have some good suggestions for fun and developmentally-beneficial activities I can do with my 5 month old.  A kind of "Daring Book for Girls" for babies.  I consider myself a creative person, but I'm running out of things to do with my baby. I'm not sure I can play on that playmat and simply pass toys back and forth with her for too much longer.

Any good ideas?"

I, personally, think you should just do your normal activities with the baby in a sling and narrate what you're doing and that will help her development more than anything. But that's also because I'm not a "down on the floor playing kids games" kind of mom. Which may explain why my kids are great at baking and cooking and doing laundry with me, but good at playing Legos with each other and not me. ;-)

I know someone out there will have suggestions of books or of activities to do. And toys for the other questioners.

But first please pass on the survey info to any interested parties you know.