Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Easy ways to go green and save energy

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and save energy.

Saving energy
1. Unplug appliances when not in use such as computers, printers, toasters, can openers, even the microwave! Or install a smart power strip that senses when appliances are off.
2. This includes cell phone and toothbrush chargers – don’t leave them plugged in all the time. Charge them during the day so you can unplug when it’s fully charged rather than leaving it plugged in all night.
3. Turn off lights when not in use
4. Keep the thermostat a little higher in the summer and lower in the winter. And switch to a programmable thermostat (Alabama Power was giving these away and offering a credit on your bill for switching.)
5. Open windows on a nice day instead of running the AC
6. Turn down the water heater a few degrees to 120
7. Run the washing machine and dishwasher only when you have a full load
8. Wash clothes in cold water
9. Air dry your clothes as much as possible rather than using the dryer
10. Don’t use the dry setting on the dishwasher, open the door, slide out the racks and let the dishes air dry (use caution and common sense when you have children about) or dry with a towel
11. Ensure all windows and doors are sealed and caulk when needed
12. When replacing appliances, windows and doors, ensure they are energy efficient (and check to see if you get a tax credit!)
13. CFL light bulbs contain mercury (I personally avoid them). If there is a breakage, follow appropriate instructions for mercury clean up. Make sure you recycle all CFLs and other flourecent lighting – never put them in the trash

Have your own energy-saving tip? Please add a comment below!

Related articles

Ways to go green and eat smart

Create an eco-nursery; County bans BPA baby bottles and Rubber mulch is toxic

Something new: Link Round up!

It’s difficult to post even weekly now with 2 kids and working full time, so I decided when I have several interesting topics at once, I will give a smaller summary and post the link to the article.

Eco-proof the nursery this is a great little article highlighting common concerns for today’s new parents (or new again). It shows how parents are concerned about the expense of raising a “green” baby and offers tips on how to go free for free or for very little money.

One NY County Bans BPA Baby bottles Hats off to them! I hope this catches on, though with manufacturers stopping the production of them and national retailers stopping the sale of them, bottles made with BPA will be hard to come by soon enough.

Rubber mulch is not non-toxic and contains metal fragments. And Obama just used it on his girl’s White House playground. Hopefully he will replace it. While it seems like a great idea to turn used tires into mulch for playgrounds and landscapes, it really is not non-toxic or safe for kids or the environment. Plus, rubber is highly flammable and difficult to extinguish once on fire.

Related Articles
Harmful plastics with BPA
Lead and PVC-free lunch boxes
Non-Toxic Toys for Christmas 
The Real Story Behind BPA

Britax Car Seat Sale!

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! It looks like all 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 have a Civic, 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.

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/

Should you get the flu shot? Or just take Vitamin D?

Someone emailed me these 2 very interesting articles regarding the effectiveness of the flu shot (based on a study showing it is not effective) and another indicating Vitamin D deficiency may be what causes many to get the flu.

Certainly it is a personal decision, but I would encourage you to read these articles below. And DEFINITELY get a preservative/mercury free shot for your children if you decide to get the flu shot for them!!!!

Avoid Flu Shots With the One Vitamin that Will Stop Flu in Its Tracks   

Another influenza season is beginning, and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will strongly urge Americans to get a flu shot. In fact, the CDC mounts a well-orchestrated campaign each season to generate interest and demand for flu shots.

But a recent study published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that vaccinating young children against the flu appeared to have no impact on flu-related hospitalizations or doctor visits during two recent flu seasons.

At first glance, the data did suggest that children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years derived some protection from vaccination in these years. But after adjusting for potentially relevant variables, the researchers concluded that “significant influenza vaccine effectiveness could not be demonstrated for any season, age, or setting” examined.

Additionally, a Group Health study found that flu shots do not protect elderly people against developing pneumonia — the primary cause of death resulting as a complication of the flu. Others have questioned whether there is any mortality benefit with influenza vaccination. Vaccination coverage among the elderly increased from 15 percent in 1980 to 65 percent now, but there has been no decrease in deaths from influenza or pneumonia.

There is some evidence that flu shots cause Alzheimer’s disease, most likely as a result of combining mercury with aluminum and formaldehyde. Mercury in vaccines has also been implicated as a cause of autism.

Three other serious adverse reactions to the flu vaccine are joint inflammation and arthritis, anaphylactic shock (and other life-threatening allergic reactions), and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralytic autoimmune disease.

One credible hypothesis that explains the seasonal nature of flu is that influenza is a vitamin D deficiency disease.

Vitamin D levels in your blood fall to their lowest point during flu seasons. Unable to be protected by the body’s own antibiotics (antimicrobial peptides) that are released by vitamin D, a person with a low vitamin D blood level is more vulnerable to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections.

Studies show that children with rickets, a vitamin D-deficient skeletal disorder, suffer from frequent respiratory infections, and children exposed to sunlight are less likely to get a cold. The increased number of deaths that occur in winter, largely from pneumonia and cardiovascular diseases, are most likely due to vitamin D deficiency.

Unfortunately, now, for the first time, flu vaccination is also being pushed for virtually all children — not just those under 5.

This is a huge change. Previously, flu vaccine was recommended only for youngsters under 5, who can become dangerously ill from influenza. This year, the government is recommending that children from age 6 months to 18 years be vaccinated, expanding inoculations to 30 million more school-age children.

The government argues that while older children seldom get as sick as the younger ones, it’s a bigger population that catches flu at higher rates, so the change should cut missed school, and parents’ missed work when they catch the illness from their children.

Of course, this policy ignores the fact that a systematic review of 51 studies involving 260,000 children age 6 to 23 months found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo.

Sources:

 

Dr. Mercola’s Comments 

Back in 2005, The Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that all children between 6 months and 5 years old receive flu shots each year. Now they have expanded their guidelines to include children up to 18 years, which means everyone except those between the ages of 19-49, who are in good health, are urged to get a flu shot.It should come as no surprise to find out that a majority of the ACIP members who came up with these guidelines have financial ties to the vaccine industry, and stand to gain personally for every additional person getting a yearly injection. It’s actually the only explanation that makes any sense for recommendations as insane as these.

Three Reasons to Reconsider Flu ShotsThere are three major reasons why this government push to vaccinate 84 percent of the U.S. population with a yearly flu vaccine is so incomprehensible: 

1. The majority of flu shots contain 25 micrograms of mercury; an amount considered unsafe for anyone weighing less than 550 pounds! And which groups are most sensitive to the neurological damage that has been associated with mercury? Infants, children, and the elderly.

2. No studies have conclusively proven that flu shots prevent flu-related deaths among the elderly, yet this is one of the key groups to which they’re pushed.

3. If you get a flu shot, you can still get the flu (or flu-like symptoms). This is because it only protects against certain strains, and it’s anyone’s guess which flu viruses will be in your area.  

So why would you take a flu shot – EVERY YEAR — that has NEVER been proven to be effective, that can give you the very illness you’re trying to prevent, and has potential long-term side effects that are far worse than the flu itself?

The powers that be have done an excellent job of instilling fear into the population so they believe that they must get a shot to stay healthy, but the simple reality is it’s doing you more harm than good.

And, even if the flu vaccine could effectively prevent the flu, there have been several examples in past years where government health officials have chosen the incorrect influenza strains for that year’s vaccine.  In 2004, the National Vaccine Information Center described how CDC officials told everyone to line up for a flu shot that didn’t even contain the influenza strain causing most of the flu that year.

Two-Thirds of This Year’s Flu Vaccines Contain a Full-Dose of Mercury

According to Dr. Donald Miller, MD, two-thirds of this year’s flu vaccines contain 25 micrograms of thimerosal. Thimerosal is 49 percent mercury by weight.

Each dose of these flu vaccines contains more than 250 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit for mercury.

By now, most people are well aware that children and fetuses are most at risk of damage from this neurotoxin, as their brains are still developing. Yet the CDC still recommends that children over 6 months, and pregnant women, receive the flu vaccine each year.

In addition to mercury, flu vaccines also contain other toxic or hazardous ingredients like:

  • Formaldehyde — a known cancer-causing agent
  • Aluminum — a neurotoxin that has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease
  • Triton X-100 — a detergent
  • Phenol (carbolic acid)
  • Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
  • Various antibiotics: neomycin, streptomycin, gentamicin – which can cause allergic reactions in some people

The Evidence Against Flu Vaccines

For those of you who are still unconvinced, know that there’s plenty of scientific evidence available to back up the recommendation to avoid flu vaccines – if nothing else, then for the simple reason that they don’t work, and don’t offer any real benefit to offset their inherent health risks. For example:

  • A brand new study published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that vaccinating young children against the flu had no impact on flu-related hospitalizations or doctor visits during two recent flu seasons. The researchers concluded that “significant influenza vaccine effectiveness could not be demonstrated for any season, age, or setting” examined.
  • A study published in the Lancet just two months ago found that influenza vaccination was NOT associated with a reduced risk of pneumonia in older people. This supports a study done five years ago, published in The New England Journal of Medicine
  • Research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine last month also confirms that there has been no decrease in deaths from influenza and pneumonia, despite the fact that vaccination coverage among the elderly has increased from 15 percent in 1980 to 65 percent now.
  • Last year, researchers with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institutes of Health published this conclusion in the Lancet Infectious Diseases: “We conclude that frailty selection bias and use of non-specific endpoints such as all-cause mortality have led cohort studies to greatly exaggerate vaccine benefits.” 
  • A large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006, found no evidence that the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo in children. The studies involved 260,000 children, age 6 to 23 months.

Might Influenza be Little More Than a Symptom of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin,” may very well be one of the most beneficial vitamins there is for disease prevention. Unfortunately it’s also one of the vitamins that a vast majority of people across the world are deficient in due to lack of regular exposure to sunshine.

Published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006, the hypothesis presented by Dr. John Cannell and colleagues in the paper Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D actually makes a lot of sense.

They raise the possibility that influenza is a symptom of vitamin D deficiency!

The vitamin D formed when your skin is exposed to sunlight regulates the expression of more than 2,000 genes throughout your body, including ones that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses. Hence, being overwhelmed by the “flu bug” could signal that your vitamin D levels are too low, allowing the flu virus to overtake your immune system.

How to Prepare For Flu Season Without Getting a Flu Shot

I often find that some of the simplest explanations are the truest, and this sounds about as simple as it gets. And, getting appropriate amounts of sunshine (or taking a vitamin D supplement when you can’t get healthy amounts of sun exposure) is one of my KEY preventive strategies against the cold and flu, as it has such a strengthening effect on your immune system.

Interestingly, last week the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled its recommended dose of vitamin D.  Unfortunately this is still a woefully inadequate recommendation as the dose should be TEN times larger. Rather than going from 200 to 400 units per day, it should have increased to about 2,000 units per day.

For most of you reading this it is “vitamin D winter,” which means there simply isn’t enough sunshine to make significant amounts of vitamin D, so you will need to use a tanning bed or take oral supplements.

Although supplements are clearly inferior to sunlight or safe tanning beds, I am becoming more convinced of the value of vitamin D supplements as they are less potentially toxic than my initial impression, and they are certainly more convenient and less expensive than a tanning bed.

For those in the winter with no or very limited exposure to sunshine, 4,000-5,000 units per day would seem appropriate for most adults. If you are very heavy you may need to double that dose, and for children the dose can be half that.

The key though is to make sure you monitor your vitamin D levels by blood testing, to make sure your levels are therapeutic and not toxic.

I advocate getting your vitamin D levels tested regularly, but as I reported recently, you now need to beware of where you’re getting your test done. For an in-depth explanation of what you MUST know before you get tested, please read my updated article Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.

You can also use vitamin D therapeutically to TREAT the flu. But please understand that if you are taking the above doses of vitamin D the odds of you getting the flu are VERY remote.  The dose of vitamin D you can use would be 2,000 units per kilogram of body weight (one pound is 0.45 kg).  The dose would be taken once a day for three days. 

This could be a very large dose if you were very heavy (2-300,000 units per day)  This is the dose that Dr. John Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, has been using very successfully for a number of years.

I have not received a flu shot nor had the flu in over 20 years. Here are the other “secrets” I use to keep the flu (and other illnesses) at bay:

Another useful supplement you could try, should you come down with a case of the flu, is olive leaf extract, which you can find in most any health food store.

Olive leaf extract has been found to be a potent broad-spectrum antiviral agent, active against all viruses tested, including numerous strains of influenza and para-influenza viruses.

Related Articles:

http://articles.mercola.com/themes/blogs/MercolaArticle/mercolaimages/bullet.gif Risks of FluMist Vaccine

 

Health tips for raising a green baby

I thought this was a great little article about how to raise a green baby. Of course, this is just for starters, but great first steps!

UNDATED (WJRT) — (09/15/08)–At some point during pregnancy, most parents worry about the world they’re bringing their child into, and being eco-friendly is topping a lot of priority lists right now.
If you are worried about keeping it “green” when you have a baby, we have some tips for parents and parents-to-be:

1) Cloth Diapers: Disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose and every day, 50 million of these go into landfills in the United States. Disposables are convenient, it’s true, but cloth diapers have come a long way. Some cloth diapers are just like the kind you remember — layered flat diapers that you fold up onto the baby and secure with a safety pin. But there are many more options out there. There are pre-fold diapers, pocket diapers, fitted diapers, contour diapers and even all-in-one (AIO) diapers. The only extra time it takes is to wash the diapers. Another benefit — cloth diapers cause fewer (if any) diaper rashes than disposables, and some moms swear babies are easier to potty-train with cloth diapers than disposables.

2) Make your Own Baby Wipes: In the United States, 5,000 baby wipes are used per baby. Try making your own to cut back on waste. Cut pieces from cotton or flannel clothing or other material and sew the edges to prevent fraying. For the wipe solution, come up with your own variation, or try this one from babysabode.com: 
2 cups distilled water    
2-3 drops of tea tree oil (antiseptic and cleansing qualities)
1 T. your favorite baby oil  
2-3 drops of lavender oil (for its soothing qualities)
2 tsp. Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hemp Soap  

3) Breastfeed! It’s common sense, really. Breastfeeding is better for the health of the baby, the health of the mother and the health of the environment. 

4) Buy Organic Cotton Products: Here are a few reasons you may want to think twice before buying traditionally grown cotton. The chemicals used on cotton are among the most toxic substances used in farming; the runoff from irrigation seeps into our drinking water. Commercial cotton farming uses about 3 percent of the farmland but consumes 25 percent of the chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In the United States, about 600,000 tons of pesticides and chemical fertilizers are applied to cotton fields each season. Organic cotton is just a healthier choice. Organic crib mattresses and organic sheets are also green steps to consider.

5) Clean Smarter! Wash baby’s clothes in cold water, hang them to dry and try a simple homemade detergent of baking soda and vinegar. Or, if that’s too “homemade,” find an environmentally safe laundry detergent.

6) Make your own baby food: Making your own food not only eliminates tons (literally) of glass baby food jars, but it’s also a lot cheaper. (We know you can recycle glass, but recycling uses energy too!) Simply buy regular food that your family would eat and serve it to baby. The food may need to be blended to a soft consistency. Blend up a week’s worth of “meals” and store them in baby-size reusable containers in the freezer. Feeding baby organic food is also cheaper if done this way, by using frozen organic fruits and veggies, which are cheaper than their fresh counterparts.

7) Other Tips: Use plain old (chemical-free) olive oil as baby oil/lotion for your little one; buy baby items second-hand or swap with other parents; go online and find ways to make your own baby goods (i.e. diapers, breast pads, toys and baby clothes); and choose old-fashioned wooden, organic cotton or homemade toys.

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California Baby Care line product review

15 things you should know to care for baby

I thought this was a pretty good little article from USA Weekend.

15 things you need to know to care for Baby
Important lessons from the latest research
By Kelly DiNardo
 
Forget sugar and spice and everything nice. Your little one is a lot more complicated than that. USA WEEKEND wants to make sure you have a recipe for success, so each year we sift through the most recent scientific studies and research to compile this list of the 15 most important findings you need to know. From getting Baby to love her green beans to avoiding tooth decay, we’ve got you covered so your child can be the focus.

1 Help kids eat veggies. “Ignore the faces Baby makes when you introduce new foods,” says Julie Mennella, one of the authors of a study published in Pediatrics that found repeated exposure to veggies increased babies’ consumption. “We gave babies a taste of green beans for several days, and after about eight days, they were more willing to eat it. They learn to like their veggies.”

2 Lower Baby’s allergy risk. Breast-feeding for four to six months may protect against food allergies, says a newly published policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “If you can’t breast-feed and you have a history of allergies, choose a low-allergen formula that’s not the regular milk or soy-based formulas,” says Scott Sicherer, M.D., author of Understanding and Managing Your Child’s Food Allergies. “Also, hold off on solid food until your baby is about 4 to 6 months.”

3 Try honey. In January, the Food and Drug Administration advised that children under age 2 should not be given over-the-counter cough and cold medicines because of potential side effects that include rapid heart rates, convulsions and death. Instead, soothe your child’s cough with a teaspoon of honey. A study done by researchers at Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pa., compared a teaspoon of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored cough suppressant and no treatment in 105 children with an upper respiratory tract infection and found that honey worked best at calming coughs. However, do not give honey to babies under the age of 1, as there are rare but severe side effects, including infantile botulism. Instead, when Baby gets a cough or cold, treat symptoms with non-aspirin pain reliever and saline nose drops.

4 Quit smoking. Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found that if Mom smoked before breast-feeding, her baby’s sleep was disrupted, and Baby slept for a shorter period of time. “Ideally, Mom will quit smoking,” says Mennella, who co-authored the study. “But if she doesn’t quit, she can time the breast-feeding so that Baby is minimally exposed to the nicotine in the milk. It gets into the milk within a half-hour of smoking and takes two to three hours to leave the body.”

5 Take a test. Well-child visits take about 15 to 30 minutes and cover many issues, including vaccination schedules, so it’s no surprise that when pediatricians are trying to cover so much territory, they fail to identify up to 80% of developmental delays in kids. In a Pediatrics study, researchers found that when parents completed a screening test in which they answered questions about their baby’s development, referral rates for continued evaluation increased by 224%. “Push your doctor to use a standardized developmental tool,” says Hollie Hix-Small, one of the study’s authors. She suggests completing the Ages & Stages questionnaire at asq.uoregon.edu. “It gives parents a better understanding of where their child should be.”

6 Watch Baby’s mouth. Decay in baby teeth is on the rise among 2- to 5-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Keith Morley, D.M.D., president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, offers these tips to keep Baby’s teeth in tip-top shape:

Tips
Take Baby to the dentist at age 1.
The dentist can walk parents through a series of things to do with their little one.
Brush Baby’s teeth as soon as they come into his mouth.
Use a fluoride-free toothpaste until he can spit.
Do not let Baby take a bottle to bed if he has teeth.
The sugars in the milk or formula contribute to decay.

7 Go skin to skin. In a review of studies, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that babies who were placed on their mother’s chest with just a blanket over their back were more successful with the initial latching on to Mom’s breast and breast-fed longer. “If possible, hold your newborn there after the first [ever] breast-feeding for about two hours,” says Elizabeth Moore, one of the review’s authors.

8 Skip the bumper. Bumper pads on cribs and bassinets are meant to prevent Baby from hurting herself, but a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that the risk of accidental death or injury outweighs their possible benefit. The researchers found that over 20 years, there were 27 accidental deaths and 25 non-fatal injuries of children between 1 month and 2 years of age that were attributed to the bumper pads.

9 Turn off the TV. Parents are ignoring the AAP recommendation that children under age 2 not watch TV. According to a study done by researchers at the University of Washington, 40% of babies are regular viewers by the age of 3 months, and 90% of2-year-olds are regular viewers. Studies have shown that early TV viewing is associated with a variety of long-term problems, such as slower development of reading and math skills. Toymakers also are introducing tech devices with screens, like children’s computers, for younger and younger kids. “I don’t see a reason to introduce those products to kids under 2,” says Frederick Zimmerman, the author of the TV study. “Interaction with other people, like parents and older siblings, is far better.”

10 Avoid unnecessary medication. “Every infant under 3 months of age is going to have reflux,” says Vikram Khoshoo, M.D. Khoshoo and researchers from West Jefferson Medical Center near New Orleans measured the reflux, or regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the esophagus, of 44 infants. They found that 42 of the babies were on anti-reflux medication, but only eight should have been. “If your child is gaining weight properly, not having recurrent respiratory problems, not excessively irritable, feeding well and not vomiting blood or bile, they do not need to be on medicine,” Khoshoo says. To help alleviate reflux, give Baby a smaller volume of milk and thicken it with rice cereal, and recline Baby at an angle of about 45 degrees during and after mealtimes. “If that does not help, the child needs to be evaluated,” Khoshoo says. “It’s not good to take unnecessary medications because we are still learning all of the effects.”

11 Check Baby’s head. Since parents have been told to put Baby to sleep on her back to avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), the incidence of positional plagiocephaly has increased fivefold. Positional plagiocephaly occurs when Baby’s head becomes slightly misshapen because her skull is soft, and she’s primarily sleeping on one side. Within a year or two, “as the baby starts moving around, they take care of the problem on their own,” says Monica Wehby, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. She suggests rolling up a blanket and angling it under Baby’s shoulder and hip to alleviate pressure on the head. “Don’t prop the head or you’ll risk them suffocating themselves. If you’re concerned or it gets worse, mention it to your pediatrician.”

12 Know the signs. It’s estimated that one in 150 kids are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a group of disorders that affect social behavior and communication skills. Most parents become concerned when Baby is between 15 and 18 months. Although how the disorder presents itself varies, you may want to talk to your doctor if Baby ignores your efforts to draw her attention, seldom makes eye contact and hasn’t begun babbling after 9 months. If Baby has ASD, she may play differently, too. Kids with ASD often lack creativity, engage in repetitive play and develop attachments to common objects, like string, sticks and rocks, rather than store-bought toys.

13 Follow safe swim rules. After age 1, the primary cause of death for kids is injury. In the past five years, there were, on average, 2,200 children younger than 5 years old treated in emergency rooms for swimming pool-related injuries. “The No. 1 rule is that you never leave a child unattended around a swimming pool,” says Larry Baraff, M.D., professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “You have to be paying attention. You can’t be having an intense conversation.”

14 Check your home. More than 90% of injury-related deaths in children under 1 happen at home, according to the CDC. A study published in Pediatrics found that moms reported a greater use of home safety practices than were actually in use. For example, smoke detectors were found in 97% of participants’ homes, but only about half were working. The AAP recommends the following tips to keep your home safe for Baby:
 
Tips
Make sure drapery and blind cords are out of Baby’s reach.
Be certain the smoke detectors work and that there is one in or near Baby’s bedroom.
Place plug protectors in any unused electrical outlets.
Keep all medicines, vitamins, toiletries and any other potentially poisonous substances in cabinets with child-resistant safety latches.

15 Get Baby vaccinated. The AAP issued new vaccination recommendations in 2007. The changes include giving Baby a hepatitis A vaccine at 1 year of age as a two-dose regimen. Each dose should be given at least six months apart. The AAP also recommends two doses of the varicella vaccine (for chickenpox) — the first given to children between 12 and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years.

My comments: I think all these are good an important. However, I the AAP, WHO, AAFP and UNICEF all recommened breastfeeding for 6 months and then gradually offering supplemental foods starting at 6 months.

I would also add that there are many benefits to eating organic foods. Young children consume a great amount of pesticides from foods and this could lead to other health issues. Eating organic foods is much healthier.

I know #15 (vaccinating baby) is being debated by many parents. I believe that parents should do the research and decide what is best for their family. Dr. Sear’s “The Vaccine Book” has been very helpful in our decisions about vaccinating our children.

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Disturbing news about ARA / DHA in infant formula

Dangers of BPA, Phthalates and a host of other substances

No matter who you are, whether or not you have kids, you are male or female, old or young, everyone should check out this article. Especially if you use a computer, drink out of plastic cups, use a vinyl shower curtain, use soap, eat food, etc. I think I understand why I am often tired and my husband is losing more and more hair. LOL.

It’s a lengthy article, but contains a wealth of information on various chemicals, plastics and other toxins that we encounter daily and that are harming us in so many ways. The author cites scientific studies in each instance and what the findings were. It’s disturbing that yet again, the FDA fails to protect us. As companies are voluntarily phasing out certain substances in the products they sell, it should be a wakeup call to us all that there is a reason for this! Those substances cause all sorts of diseases, abnormalities, cancer, birth defects, low sperm counts, just to name a tiny few.

Additionally, it also affects our environment and the animals that live it in. Ironically that does include humans. But recently in Colorado, they discovered many of the fish living in the “purest” lake were transgender. Male fish had female traits. Studies link this as an affect to the presence of bisphenol-a, phthalates, prescriptions drugs and other substances in the water.

A scientist involved in the fish study said this:

“This particular study stands out because we’ve tried to address the question: What are the present compounds being broken down to?” Borch says. “It’s beyond the fact that these could have endocrine-disrupting effects.”

Check out this article. It’s well written and contains a wealth of eye-opening information.

http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/89453/?ses=2b135aa81b1a7d6b5e1b3017875dec7f

Some excerpts:

“Lab tests suggest that chronic, low-dose exposure to bisphenol-A — like drinking out of a coated cup or polycarbonate bottle daily — may cause women to have greater chances of breast cancer and polycystic ovary syndrome, a leading cause of infertility, and men to have increased odds of prostate cancer and reduced sperm counts.”

“As a computer warms up, particles inside start to fly and some catch a ride on dust. For years, I breathed in polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) from my laptop.”

“From 1979 to 2004, the EPA received more than 32,000 chemical applications, but agency personnel performed some level of review on fewer than one in eight cases. Eight out of every 10 applications are approved with no restrictions, often in less than three weeks. The agency has implemented restrictions on only five chemical classes, even though in the 1990s it reported that 16,000 compounds warranted concern because of their chemical structure or volume of use.”

“I have roughly 700 different synthetic chemicals in my body. That number probably won’t be going down any time soon. Every single day, the United States produces or imports 42 billion pounds of chemicals, about 140 pounds for every American. I also am what I eat out of, and with, and around.”

“Rather than yielding a regulatory hammer, the EPA generally allows the chemical industry to set its own standards voluntarily and conduct its own evaluations on endocrine disruption and chemical impacts on children. In cases where chemicals have gone through formal reviews, the results haven’t always panned out for public health and safety.

The Environmental Working Group recently exposed that the EPA had removed a government scientist from an external-review panel of deca-brominated diphenyl ester, one of the fire-retardant PBDEs, after the American Chemistry Council complained about her “appearance of bias.” “

“The public depends on EPA peer-review panels to help ensure the products they use every day are safe,” says Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., the committee chair. “The EPA seems to have a backwards way of composing these panels. The EPA is disallowing scientists who have valid public-health concerns about products, while encouraging participation by so-called experts who are paid by the chemical industry.”

Toxins found in infant crib mattresses cause health problems

For many new parents, finding a good crib mattress seems to be a trivial thing. You just need to make sure the mattress is firm, not soft and fits snugly in the crib, right?

Well, there are a whole lot of reasons to dig a little deeper and ditch the conventional crib mattresses. When we bring home our new bundle of joy, we want to put them in a safe environment. But crib mattresses are loaded with toxic chemicals, many of which can leach and outgas, having possible negative health effects. And considering infants spend most of their young lives asleep in their beds, it’s certainly a very important and critical element to consider.

Scientists also recently discovered the chemicals in traditional crib mattresses may cause SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). One reason why the back-to-bed campaign has been so successful at reduces the instances of SIDS, is that babies faces are no longer directly against the mattress breathing higher concentrations of the toxic chemicals.

Common toxins in conventional crib mattresses are:

PVC – polyvinylchloride found nearly everywhere in our environment. releases toxins such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats.
Phthalates – a synthetic substance just banned in children’s products by the US government. It’s associated with asthma, reproductive issues and cancer.
DEHP - the most common phthalate used in crib mattresses has been banned in Europe for years.
Polyurethane foam – a highly flammable, cheap substance highly treated with a host of chemicals to make it flame retardant. Not only does it easily ignite, it releases deadly gases when it is ignited. 
pentaBDE – The most common chemical fire retardant used to made polyurethane foam flame retardant, is a toxin associated with hyperactivity and neuro-behavioral alterations. PentaBDE is not bound to the foam, and leaches out into the surrounding air. It’s been banned in Europe for many years and in California since 2006.
Antimony – used as a flame retardant
Pesticides and boric acid – used to treat cotton in the mattress
Latex treated with pesticides

HealthyChild.com also offers detailed information on why traditional crib mattresses post significant health risks to infants and toddlers.

“… EPA has determined that infants up to age two are, on average, ten times more vulnerable to carcinogenic chemicals than adults, and for some cancer causing agents are up to 65 times more vulnerable… children accumulate up to 50 percent of their lifetime cancer risk by their second birthday… many chemicals linked to mutagenic activity are commonly used in consumer products and can contribute to children’s exposure to carcinogens.”
(Children’s Health Policy Review: “EPA Cancer Policy Revisions Highlight Risks to Children.” 3 Mar. 2003.
Environmental Working Group. www.ewg.org/issues/risk_assessment/20030303/index.php)

 

But never fear, there are safe, organic mattresses on the market that are free of these substances. Organic wool is naturally flame resistant so no chemicals are needed. It’s also naturally resistant to dust mites, mold, mildew and bacteria. Organic cotton is also a great alternative because it gives better air circulation allowing the baby to breathe better.

Do read the fine print and ensure the mattress is 100% organic and no where on the labeling or website does it list any of the toxins mentioned above. You can also call the Organic Consumer’s Association to get a list of stores that carry all-organic mattresses.

Here is a snippet from another article, it’s very disturbing, and once again proves how our government organizations are not protecting us from toxins:

“According to the CPSC risk assessment, they state that EVERY night, the average person (and infant) will absorb the following chemicals:
.802 mg Antimony (similar to arsenic – a known poison)
.081 mg Boric Acid (the active ingredient in Roach Killer)
.073 mg DBDPO (also known as DECA, a suspected carcinogen)
However, the CPSC stands by its controversial decision and says, this is level of chemical absorption is safe and poses no known health risks.

However, they excluded children under five years of age from their risk assessment by assuming all these children will be protected by a vinyl sheet over their mattresses, due to bedwetting problem. Their assumption is that this vinyl covering will protect them from the FRC’s in their mattress.

However, antimony has been proven by European researchers to leech through vinyl covers, and has been found in high concentrations in infants livers, who have succumbed to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Fearing a possible link, these same researchers looked at all cases of SIDS in their country and were able to statistically link this to the high levels of antimony in the crib mattresses. In fact, high levels of antimony were found in the livers of dissected human infants killed by SIDS.

For this reason, Europe has been moving away from using flame retardants in their mattresses and requires them be proven safe before being used. Many countries in Europe have even banned them. As a result, SIDS deaths have decreased over much of Europe.

Even New Zealand has virtually eliminated most cases of SIDS by preventing these mattress toxins from being absorbed by the infants, via a special mattress covering. They instituted a nationwide policy in 1994 to “wrap” crib mattresses with a special blanket to prevent the mattress toxins from poisoning the infants. It has been demonstrated that no infant has ever died of SIDS when sleeping on a “wrapped” mattress.”

Pretty infuriating isn’t it? For these reasons, I am getting an organic mattress for my son, who’s arrival is expected in just 12 weeks. My daughter also sleeps on a standard crib mattress in her toddler bed, and I likely will replace hers as well. I hate to think she has been exposed to these toxins for nearly 2.5 years.

I have researched and found these mattresses that are 100% organic. Please note this is not a comprehensive list! If you know of other 100% organic mattresses, please let me know and I will add them to this list. 

Naturepedic: all have 100% organic cotton filing
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Classic $259
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Ultra $359
2 in 1 Organic Cotton Ultra $399
Quilted Organic Cotton Deluxe (note, does not have a waterproof cover) $339 
Port a crib pad $149 

Natural Mat
Latex Mat $385 Made of organic latex, organic lambswool and double organic cotton cover 
Mohair Mat $625 (mohair is from horsetail, which naturally springs back to its original shape). Also made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton. 
Coco Mat $375 Made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton.

Pure Rest
Organic Crib Mattress Innerspring with Edge Supports
Organic Innerspring Crib Mattress (Cotton & Wool) $299 242 coils, organic cotton filling, organic wool batting.

Eco Baby has a variety of mattresses ranging from $299 – $399

Pixel Organics
REFILL mattress is an interesting product in that it recycles food grade plastic bottles into filling for this crib mattress. Also uses organic cotton and wool. $170
Natural Rubber and Organic Wool $150
100% Organic 510 Coil Inner Spring Crib Mattress $342
100% Organic Natural Rubber Crib Mattress $490. Also uses organic cotton and wool.

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Breastfeeding: Why doctors are so wrong about solids

I found this very interesting news brief today…. it supports the view of the WHO, AAP, AAFP and Unicef’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months with continued breastfeeding for a minimum of 2 years.

“Doctors are keen to introduce solids as early as possible as a supplement to breast feeding – and they couldn’t be more wrong.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first three months at least – and sometimes for the first 12 months – have better cognitive abilities and general intelligence by the time they are six.

Compared with children who were fed solids early on, breastfed babies registered far higher scores for verbal IQ, performance IQ and general IQ when they were tested at six-and-a-half years. 

Researchers made the discovery when they assessed the cognitive development of 13,889 children who were exclusively breastfed for a prolonged period.”

Nontoxic backpacks for back to school

I found this article with a great list and some tips for selecting non-toxic backpacks for back to school. My daughter is just 2, so I have not looked into this, but lucky for those who do have school-aged children, someone has already done the research for safe back pack options.

“While Congress has recently voted to ban toxic lead and phthalates from toys,  the legislation does not cover children’s backpacks, many of which are made of vinyl containing both toxic substances. Lead, high exposures of which cause learning problems (not so cool for back to school) and phthalates, linked to obesity and lower sperm counts, readily migrate out of vinyl and onto children’s fingers, and thence into their mouths. Phthalates also evaporate into the air and get inhaled; studies have shown they contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems in children.

When shopping for backpacks, make sure they’re PVC-free at a minimum, and made of recycled materials to get an E (for eco and excellence) plus. Here are some recommendations.”

Related Articles
PVC and Lead-free lunch boxes

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