Posts Tagged ‘children’

Natural ways to prevent and prepare for the Swine Flu

There are many things you can do to help prevent illnesses, such as N1H1 H1N1 (Swine Flu), in your family. Most of these do not cost anything and are things you can do everyday.

  1. Before all else, if you are sick, please stay home! Yes, times are tough for many, but please think of the greater good and stay home to get well.
  2. Frequently wash hands with plain soap and water (there is no evidence that anti-bacterial products are anymore effective at removing germs than plain soap and water). (See how to make your own non-toxic foaming hand wash.) BabyGanics has a great non-toxic foam hand soap as well and is available at Babies R Us.
  3. Use kid-safe, non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available. I love CleanWell Hand Sanitizer. It’s available at GNC and Whole Foods. (See my CleanWell product review.)
  4. Degerm. When you get home each day, encourage everyone to do the following:     a. Remove your shoes to keep germs from getting on the floors where children play

         b. Change into clean clothes

         c. Take a shower if at all possible, or at minimum, thoroughly wash hands

         d. Wash any toys with soap and water or vinegar and water that your child may have brought with them 

  5. Do not touch your face, bite your nails, put your hands in your mouth, etc. Teach your children to do the same.
  6. Keep babies from sharing and mouthing toys if and when possible. Wash them frequently with soap and water, or vinegar and water to sanitize. 
  7. Take care of yourself: Get enough sleep, exercise, eat a balanced diet, drink lots of water (as opposed to sugary drinks). 
  8. Take a vitamin supplement, especially Vitamin D. Some studies suggest illnesses such as the flu are brought on by lack of Vitamin D. I love Carlson’s Baby Vitamin D drops. They are actually cheaper than the traditionally recommended infant multi-vitamin, minus all the extra “junk” ingredients. They also have kids’ and adult versions. One drop a day is all you need – too easy!
  9. Take a daily probiotic. A recent study showed a significant decrease in the report of illnesses among a group who took a daily probiotic than those who did not. It’s also a good idea to mix up the brand and strains for maximum benefit. Children’s Rhino probiotic comes in a chewable and powder form and is all natural.
  10. Cough and sneeze into a tissue. If one is not available, use your sleeve (your hands will come in contact with more people and surfaces than your sleeve). 
  11. Do not share utensils, drinks, etc. even with your children or spouse.
What should you do to prepare for a N1H1  H1N1 outbreak? 

  1. Wear a face mask. It may offer additional protection during an outbreak.  
  2. Avoid public places as much as possible during an outbreak. 
  3. Stock up. Stock the freezer with veggies and meat, the pantry full of non-perishables, and anything else you would need to survive in your house for days or weeks at a time, so in the event of a major outbreak, you will not need to venture out of the house. Think toilet paper, laundry detergent, toiletries, pet food, etc. 
  4. Have treatment supplies on hand such as fever reducing products, thermometers, tissues, hand sanitizer, etc.
  5. Refill any reoccurring prescriptions ahead of time
  6. Prepare for childcare. Have someone lined up to care for your kids in the event schools or daycares close, or you yourself become sick.
  7. Discuss telecommuting options with your boss.

Visit the CDC’s website and understand the symptoms of N1H1 H1N1. If you or your child becomes sick, contact your doctor or pediatrician immediately to understand any warning signs so you can get prompt attention when it is needed.

More info:

CDC’s H1N1 Flu Center 

WHO – World Health Organization H1N1 Coverage

Prevent and Prepare for Swine Flu 

Swine Flu on Wikipedia 

Mercola on Probiotic benefits

Author’s note: The author is not a medical doctor and is not giving out medical advice. Many parents are looking for natural ways to prevent the swine flu, whether it’s in addition to, or lieu of the N1H1 H1N1 vaccine; and healthy adults currently are not eligible for the vaccine. The fact of the matter is a little less than 50% of the US population will receive a N1H1 H1N1 vaccine, whether by choice, ineligibility or lack of availability. Additionally, the vaccine is not 100% effective (so far it’s proved to be effective about 90% of the time), thus it’s nice to have a little back up. The author is not advocating against the vaccine in anyway and this is not meant to spark any type of debate on vaccines.

 

BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes for back to school

Lead as you know is toxic to children (and adults for that matter), so it’s important that the place their lunch is stored in is lead-free. PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead. Lead can also be ingested from your child touching the bag and then their food. And BPA is the hormone disrupting chemical found in plastics whose toxic effects have been hitting the news and blogs for the last several years. crockcreekcountries

Before purchasing a lunch box for your child, read the label. Make sure it is not made of PVC. Nylon, polypropelyne or cloth are much safer materials. Look for tags that say PVC-free. You also want to avoid BPA if you are purchasing a water bottle or food storage containers.

Crockodile Creek Countries lunch box.

Here is a list of BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes.

The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free.

Crocodile Creek. These are SO CUTE, and my favorite of the bunch. I saw these at Whole Foods and they are very well-made and have very cute traditional style, zippered lunch box and kid-friendly designs like dinosaurs, the solar system, horses (purple for girls) , trucks/vehicles (boyish), girls from around the world, flowers, countries with animals, farm animals  and a sunflower.

Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food.

LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free.  They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.

The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. They also offer a lunch buddy which is more of a traditional lunch box style.

Mimi the Sardine has cute cloth lunch totes that are PVC and lead free. There are several designs such as the ladybug, monkey/elephant/flower pattern, bugs and mice (my favorite).

Munchlers look like zoo animals and they fold out into a placemat, also very cute. They are insulated and come in several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. My daughter has the white dog.

ZAK Designs offers several licensed character insulated lunch boxes that are lead free and lined with PVC-free material. Note, they just mention “PVC-free lining” so leads me to believe the entire lunch box may not be PVC-free. Some of the characters available include: iron man, Wall-E, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Spongebob Square Pants, Diego, Spiderman and many others. Wal-Mart and Target carry Zak lunch boxes.

California Innovations is a nice lunch bag that Wal-Mart carries. It’s stylish no-nonesense bag and free from any characters or crazy prints.

Lunchopolis is another zippered, traditional style, no-nonesense lunch box.

Citizens Pip is a new one available only online from what I can tell. The cool thing is you can customize your lunch box with accessories — separate food compartments, stainless steel bottle, cloth napkins, fork/spoon set, and of course the lunch bos itself!

Kid Konserve is a similar to Citizens Pip’s customizable lunch box system and available on their website.

Thermapod is another similar concept to the laptop lunch. However, it is one piece with 4 sections, which may not be desireable for some.

ReusableBags.comhas a whole section also dedicated to lead, PVC, and BPA-free lunches. I bought two ACME lunch bags — one to carry bottles in for my son to daycare (it fits three Dr. Brown bottles) and one for me for the milk I pump for him at work (it fits six medela bottles).

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CleanWell Hand Sanitizer: Product Review

I had been looking for an alcohol-free hand sanitizer for some time now that I could use on the go when I would not have access to soap and water, like at the playground, or after changing a diaper in the car (not while in motion) when we are out and about. I knew the alcohol-based ones were not safe for kids. If a child ingested it, they could get alcohol poisoning, so I didn’t even want alcohol-based sanitizers in the house knowing I can’t use it without my toddler begging for some as well. I prefer to avoid the ER.

Also, Triclosan is toxic, so that was out as well. As well as parabens, phthalates, PEG compounds, etc.

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon CleanWell Hand Sanitizer. It claimed to be all natural, alcohol and triclosan free and kills 99.99% of germs, including MRSA, staph, E. coli, and Salmonella. It is botanically based, and no pesticides or chemicals are used. Plants are also a renewable resource. No petrochemicals or harmful byproducts are created during harvesting or manufacturing.

cleanwell6oz

OK, I gotta be honest here, I LOVE this stuff. It smells great – a nice herbal smell. One or two sprays is all you need. One 1 ounce bottle will yield 225+ sprays, so you get 4 times as many uses as the gel sanitizers.

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is safe, no parabens, phthalates, alcohol or other ickies. Thymus Vulgaris Oil is the active ingredient (hence the herbal scent). EWG’s cosmetic’s database does not list Clean Well Hand Sanitizer, but I entered the individual ingredients and everything was in the safe (0-2) category except citric acid which was a 4 (it seems mostly for skin sensitivities).

It’s important to note that there are good bacteria and bad bacteria, so using antibacterial products on a regular basis is not good or recommended. In fact, the over use of antibiotics and antibacterial products cases viruses to mutate creating superbugs and strains that are resistant to medication. So while CleanWell is a great product, it, along with other hand sanitizers and antibacterial products, should never be used on a regular basis. It should only be used when hand washing with regular soap and water is not an option (think port-a-potty, wiping noses in the car, etc.)

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is available in purse/travel size (1 oz) and regular size (6 oz). I’d recommend several to keep in various places – your purse, the diaper bag(s), at work – so you will have it when needed. I have one in each diaper bag (we have 3), in my purse and on the changing table (easy for between kids when I am changing both).

CleanWell has a whole family of products including CleanWell Sanitizing Wipes, CleanWell Foaming Hand Wash and the CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.

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Britax Car Seat Sale!! Save up to $60!

Amazon is having a rare sale on Britax car seats, which are touted as being among the best/safest car seats available. I have one and LOVE it. Yes they are a little bigger and heavier than most, but they have performed better than other car seats in crash tests.

The sale is for one week only, so don’t delay, click here to view the sale items! Britax seats will also receive free shipping! When I purchased my Britax, all prices were very similar, so free shipping was important to me. But now there is a sale AND free shipping! Can’t beat that!

Britax offers a wide variety of car seats — convertibles, boosters — and in different models with different features. I have the Boulevard, which offers true side impact protection. I had a Civic at the time, so that was an important feature to me. It also had a knob on the side allowing you to adjust the straps to where YOU want them all without having to remove the straps or the seat.

Britax also has a new seat — the Click and Safe seat which provides and audible click to let you k now when the restraints are tight enough to keep your child safe.

Another thing to watch for is weight limits. The Boulevard is rear-facing up to 35 lbs and forward facing up to 65 pounds. The Roundabout is rear-facing also to 35 lbs, but only forward facing to 40 lbs.

The most important thing about car seats it to make sure they are properly installed!! I NEVER install my own seats. There is a technician at one of the fire stations here who is recommended by Children’s Hospital. He is certified and does hundreds of installations every year. The fact is, death from improper use or installation of car seats is the leading cause of death in infants and children. It’s so not worth it — get it professionally installed fire stations will do this for free, so cost is not an excuse, just takes a few minutes. Your child is worth it!

Other tips for safe car seats and usage:

1. Make sure the seat fits your car and fits your child. It does not matter how safe the seat is if it does not properly fit the car or child.

2. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This has nothing to do with age or how long your child’s legs are. Rear-facing is the safest position up to the weight limit of the seat or until his head reaches the top of the seat.

3. Use the seat every time! NEVER go anywhere without your child properly restrained in an approved car seat. Surprisingly, nearly half of all child deaths and injuries related to car accidents are from parents not using a restraint. Don’t do this — buckle up your child before you even start the car.

4. Watch for recalls, especially important if you are using a second-hand seat. Car seats come with a registration card. Fill it out and send it in so the manufacturer can send you any recall information.

5. Lifetime of a seat is about 6 years, at which time a new seat should be purchased, because the plastic starts to breakdown. Again, especially important if you are using a second hand seat.

6. Use a 5 point harrness, LATCH system and tethers.

7. Inspect the seat regularly to ensure it is still secured properly (ideally you would do this each time before putting the child in the seat). Very important as one day I discovered the car seat belt came undone on my daughter’s infant seat. Scared me to death to think what could have happened if I had not checked.

8. Make sure the straps are tight and secure each time you buckle up your child and that the chest clip is in the middle of your child’s sternum.

9. Children up to 80 pounds, 4′9″ and 8-10 years old need to be in some restraint system. Many seats now hold up to 100 pounds.

10. Don’t buckle in your child when she is wearing a heavy coat. It can create gaps and your child could fly out of the seat on impact. Instead buckle your child in then use blankets for warmth.

Go to the sale NOW! Before it’s too late….

Other resources:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/

http://www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm

http://car-seat.org/

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National Healthy Schools Day

header_hsn_nhsdayaltNational Healthy Schools Day
What you can do to make sure no child’s health is left behind
 
by Janelle Sorensenjanelle
 When my husband and I first toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet. 
 
I didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was (and still is) prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs (in addition to her brain). For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.
 
While air quality is a significant issue in schools (the EPA estimates that at least half of our nation’s 120,000 schools have problems), parents are also increasingly concerned about other school health issues like nutrition and the use of toxic pesticides. Many schools are making the switch to healthier and more sustainable practices like green cleaning, least toxic pest management, and even school gardening. What they’re finding is that greening their school improves the health and performance of students and personnel, saves money (from using less energy, buying fewer products, and having fewer worker injuries among other things), and also helps protect the planet. It’s truly win, win, win.teacher_students_classroom
 
To highlight the issue, the Healthy Schools Network coordinates National Healthy Schools Day. This year, over three dozen events will be held across the country (and more in Canada) on April 27th to promote and celebrate healthy school environments.
 
What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:
·      Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Quality as a policy for your School;
·      Distributing information related to Green Cleaning or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ);
·      Writing a letter or visiting your Principal or Facility Director to ask about cleaning products or pest control products;
·      Walking around your school: looking for water stains, cracks in outside walls, broken windows or steps, and overflowing dumpsters that are health & safety problems that need attention. Use this checklist.
·      Writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper on the importance of a healthy school to all children and personnel.
 
You can also help support the efforts of states trying to pass policies requiring schools to use safer cleaners. (Or, initiate your own effort!) There are good bills pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. According to Claire Barnett, Executive Director of the Healthy Schools Network, the key pieces to promote on green cleaning in schools are:
·     Not being fooled by ‘green washing’ claims—commercial products must be third-party certified as green (to verify claims);
·     Understanding that green products are cost-neutral and they work; and,
·     Learning that “Clean doesn’t have an odor.”
 
She encourages parents and personnel to tune into one of the archived webinars on green cleaning (like the first module for general audiences) at www.cleaningforhealthyschools.org.
 
The fact of the matter is that whether you’re concerned about the quality of food, cleaning chemicals, recycling, or energy use – schools need our help and support.  Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, it’s time to help do what’s right – for our children, our schools, and our planet.
 
What are you going to do? There are so many ideas and resources. Find your passion and get active on April 27th – National Healthy Schools Day.
 
Additional Resources:

 
·      Creating Healthy Environments for Children (DVD): A short video with easy tips for schools and a variety of handouts to download and print.
·      Getting Your Child’s School to Clean Green: A blog I wrote last year with advice based on my experience working with schools.
·      Healthy Community Toolkit: Healthy Child Healthy World’s tips and tools for being a successful community advocate and some of our favorite organizations working on improving child care and school environments and beyond.
·      The Everything Green Classroom Book: The ultimate guide to teaching and living green and healthy. 
 
Janelle Sorensen is the Senior Writer and Health Consultant for Healthy Child Healthy World (www.healthychild.org). You can also find her on Twitter as @greenandhealthy.

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Seeking safer packaging to eliminate BPA

According to a new study, not many companies are seeking alternatives to replacing BPA in their packaged foods.

The survey was conducted by sending letters to 20 leading publicly-traded packaged food companies to inquire on the actions they are taking to address concerns over BPA. Fourteen companies responded and the scores were determined based on these responses.

The main findings of the study concluded:

(Excerpt)
• All companies surveyed use BPA and are taking insufficient steps to move toward alternatives.

• Hain Celestial, Heinz, and Nestlé received the top scores because all three companies are involved in researching and testing of alternatives to BPA and all have plans to phase out the chemical in some products.

• Heinz stands out as a leader as it is the only company surveyed that is currently using an alternative to BPA in some of its can linings.

• Three of the companies that responded to our questions, Del Monte, Hershey, and J.M. Smucker, are not taking action beyond monitoring the industry to identify or implement alternatives to BPA as a packaging material. 

Eden Foods is privately held so was not listed in the surevy, however, all their canned foods are BPA-free with the exception of tomatoes which are too acidic for any BPA alternative.

Green Century Capital Management and As You Sow conducted the study and they provide acceptable alternatives to BPA in food packaging. Read the entire article.

 What can you do?

Arm yourself with information.

Avoid companies who are not doing anything on the BPA issue, and write letters to them letting them know you will not buy from them until they offer BPA free products

Support companies who are moving to alternatives to BPA by purchasing their BPA-free products

If you need canned foods, opt for Eden Foods, which are BPA free (except tomatoes)

Ditch canned foods and opt for fresh or frozen

View my lists of BPA-free cups, dishes, bottles and more

Never microwave plastic as it could still leach BPA

Write your congressmen and encourage them to support the call to ban BPA altogether.

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Link between Autism and vinyl floors?

Certainly more research is needed, but a Swedish study concluded that an infant/toddler with vinyl flooring in their bedrooms were twice as likely to have autism 5 years later than those with wood or linoleum flooring. For parents who smoked, autism rates were also twice as those who’s parents did not smoke. More research is absolutely needed, but interesting nonetheless. 
Vinyl can emit phthalates, which are chemicals used to make soft plastic that have also been connected to allergies and asthma. The scientists, lead by Carl-Gustav Bornehag of Karlstad University in Sweden, call the data “far from conclusive” and say further studies with a larger group of children are needed to confirm a link.

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