Posts Tagged ‘kids health’

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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Safer Sunscreens 2009

It’s that time of year again — planning for beach trips, the pool, biking, or whatever outdoor activities interest you.

california-baby-spf-30-natural-sunscreen

Last year, the folks at the Environmental Working Group published a report on the effectiveness of sunscreens. They studied 952 common sunscreens and found 4 out of 5 do not do their job.  Additionally, 53% of sunscreen make claims on the bottle that are simply inaccurate and are terms the FDA has said are unacceptable terms or misleading. 

They also found zinc and titanium based formulas to be the most effective.

What to avoid. Avoid ingredients like those with anything “–paraben” in the name, fragrance (likely contains phthalates), PEG compounds, polyethylene, oxybenzone,  triethanolamine, BHT,  benzyl alcohol, and others. This is not a complete list, just some of the ones you may find. Definitely consult the EWG’s Cosmetic Databse for more information on specific ingredients.

Again, read those labels and remember formulas frequently change!

Here is a little summary on the EWG website, plus their recommended top 10 sunscreens that are safe and effective. They also offer a list of “common brand names” and specifically which product in that line is safe and effective. **A little disclaimer though about the cosmetic database.** I have personally found discrepencies in the ingredients they have listed in their database than what is actually listed on the bottle. This is because formulas change frequently and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with each and every product. So definitely still consult the databse as a guide, but as always read the labels before you buy!!

EWG’s recommended Top 10 sunscreens (and their hazard rating. Rating is based on level of hazard, 0 being safest, 10 being highest hazard)
1. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30   0
2. Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+  0
3. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+   0
4. Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30       0
5. Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum    1
6. Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40     1
7. Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 35      1
8. UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+      1
(there is also a Baby version)
9. Sun Science Sport Formula, SPF 30     1
10. Soleo Organics Sunscreen all natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+  1

From 10 Common Brands (and their hazard rating. Rating is based on level of hazard, 0 being safest, 10 being highest hazard). If more than 1 product is listed for that entire brand’s line, I put the range, so be sure to get the ones specified below)
** Please note, these are safer common brands (meaning easier to find), does not mean they are free of harmful ingredients. Other than California Baby, I would personally NOT recommend any of the below or use these for myself or my family.
1. Blue Lizard anything without oxybenzone    (1-7)
2. California Baby anything with SPF 30+     (0-2)
3. CVS with zinc oxide       (2-7) 
4. Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock  (1-7)
5. Kiss My Face “Paraben Free” series     (2-7)
6. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock     (2-7)
7. Olay Defense Daily UV Moisturizer (with zinc)    (2-7)
8. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense     (2-3)
9. Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face      (1-2)
10. Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears   (1-7)

Personally, I am a HUGE fan of TruKids and California Baby. TruKids is a little less expensive. My husband and I both used it last year during our traditional week at the beach and I use California Baby on my then 2 year old. She enjoyed using the TruKids face stick on all 3 of our faces! None of us got burned, and our relatives who used Bull Frog did get burned.

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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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High Fructose Corn Syrup contains mercury

A new study shows half the samples tested contained mercury. This includes 1/3 of 55 popular name brands where HFCS is the first or second ingredient.

Mercury contamination is very harmful and toxic in all forms. It should be avoided. Pregnant women are advised to avoid certain fish because of high levels of mercury.

High fructose corn syrup is a synthetic sweetner that has replaced sugar in many items. It’s much cheaper than sugar, so is used by many companies in all types of foods and all kinds of brands. 

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

The use of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common. The contamination occurs when mercury cells are used to produce caustic soda. So the good news is HFCS can be produced without caustic soda, the bad news is us consumers do not know if the HFCS containing products we are consuming are produced using caustic soda or not.

What can you do? Avoid HFCS. Read the labels, if it contains HFCS, put it back on the shelf. This is what I have done, even before knowing about the mercury contaimination.

We try to avoid sythetically produced ingredients in our house, opting for the safe and natural stuff. HFCS has also been linked to behavioral problems, but not sure anything has been proven there. Though I know several kids who were taken off HFCS and their behavior improved drastically with this change alone. Proof enough for me. 

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Kids Lungs Benefit from Longer Breastfeeding

I thought this study was very interesting. In a nutshell, the study concluded that children breastfed exclusively for at least 4 months, had greater lung capacity and airflow than those children who were bottle fed. The study surveyed 1033 10 year olds, in 3 different groups. One was exclusively breastfed, the other exclusively bottle fed and the last group a mix of breast and bottle.

The greatest benefit was among those who were breastfed the longest and no benefits was shown for those breastfed less than 4 months.

The interesting part is the benefit is not believed to be from the breastmilk, but from the act of suckling since it takes more effort to extract milk from the breast than the bottle.

“The physical exercise caused by suckling at the breast – about six times daily on average for more than 4 months — may result in increased lung capacity and increased airflow in breast-fed children compared with bottle-fed children,” Dr. Ikechukwu U. Ogbuanu told Reuters Health.

Read the entire article here.

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Extreme Breastfeeding — 20/20

OK, so I didn’t watch 20/20’s episode on Extreme Mothering. I was interested in the breastfeeding portion, but I knew the stance they would take, so I didn’t even bother watching.

It almost humors me that people are so against “extended breastfeeding” when they know absolutely nothing about breastfeeding period. Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience and the American Academy of Family Physicians, the World Health Organization and UNICEF all recommend a MINIMUM of 2 years of breastfeeding. That’s just the bottom requirement. It’s like getting a D, you just passed.

The mother featured in the 20/20 episode was breastfeeding her 6 year old. Her older 2 children also breastfed for about that long as well. All 3 kids are great, outgoing kids. Nature supports breastfeeding until about 8 years of age, so this mother/child relationship still has a few good years in it. 🙂

Nature supports extended breastfeeding for many reasons:

1. The natural age of weaning is approximately 2.5 – 7 years of age with 4 as the median age.

2. During childhood, the child’s immune system is still developing, thus the antibodies in mama’s milk offer immunity support during these years.

3. Between the ages of 5 and 8 a child’s milk teethfall out, permanant teeth come in and the jaw line changes in such the child loses the suckling reflux necessary for nursing.

4. The brain is still developing and breastmilk offers the best balance of fats needed for this development.

There are many biological reasons and this mom does a great job of outlining them here.

There are many great reasons to breastfeed period, other than the ease of it — healthier child, lower cancer rates for mom and child, great bonding experience, higher child IQ, lower rates of diabetes, fewer ear infections, etc. Plus, breastmilk is great for curing many common ailments like pink eye, cold sores, diaper rash, ear infections, etc.

So really people, if you don’t know your facts, don’t comment on how breastfeeding past a certain age or milestone (like you must stop when a baby gets teeth — that is just ridiculous!), because the facts just are not on your side. Now you may not like it or agree with it, which is fine, but that is your opinion and nothing more. My daughter weaned at 28 months when I was halfway through my pregnancy with my son. My husband was like all the naysayers, but once he saw what great benefits it had for our daughter, he is now a lactavist! We will also let our son wean himself when he and I are ready.

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