Second to vaccinating, the hot-button issue with conscientious parents today is whether or not to give your child fluoride.
If you live in a municipality that has more than 400,000 people, your water is most likely fluoridated. There are also plenty of communities whose drinking supply naturally has fluoride, especially if you live in the west. The only way to know how much fluoride is in your water is to read the Consumer Confidence Report that the EPA requires each community water system to provide. (search “Consumer Confidence Report” and your town name to find your local report).
There’s a lot of propaganda out there on both sides of the issue. Groups like the Fluoride Action Network cite a myriad of studies that “prove” how “dangerous” fluoride is. They make no concessions that fluoride can be beneficial, despite evidence that it is one of the only substancs that can actually re-mineralize teeth. They tend to showcase communities that have toxic levels of fluoride occurring naturally in the water that cause wide-spread bone-density issues. While it’s true that some water sources have too much fluoride, the excess is actually removed from water in industrialized places.
Topical fluoride application is more beneficial than ingestion, modern studies are showing. Dental fluorosis is one of the first signs of too much fluoride, and looks like white spots on the teeth. It is caused by consuming too much fluoride while the teeth are forming under the gums. Low-income communities have higher rates of fluorosis not from the water supply, but from canned food and juice.
However, fluoride makes teeth resistant to acid so that the bacteria can not dissolve them or cause cavities. Which is why the American Dental Association recommends that you use a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on your baby’s teeth as soon as they come in.
From all the research I’ve read, there isn’t much point in ingesting extra fluoride. In fact, it can cause permanent discoloration. That’s an inconvenience, but not dangerous. It would be impossible to digest a toxic amount of fluoride in a community with water fluoridation, so don’t waste time worrying about that. If you want to avoid dental fluorosis, eat fresh vegetables instead of canned, and don’t drink fruit juice.
Instead, focus on the topical application of fluoride if you want to prevent cavities. In fact, the wide-spread use of fluoride toothpaste has done more for the decline in cavities than Community Water Fluoridation ever has.
As for Franci, I’m not going to give her any more of her fluoride supplement. Instead, I’m going to start using a grain of rice sized dot of fluoride toothpaste when I brush her teeth. She’ll end up ingesting some of it any way, which will be enough for those adult teeth buds that we won’t see for a few years.
What are your views on Community Water Fluoridation? Do you give your kids fluoride supplements or use fluoride toothpaste?
Frances likes to play fetch with herself, which means I can get a few things done while she throws the ball and then crawls after it. The 4-inch ball is easy to grip with one hand, because of the nubs, and is just bouncy enough. It’s unlikely to do any damage when thrown, unless she manages to hit a tall vase just right. She may be strong, but she doesn’t have that good an arm!
Last time we were visiting the nieces, I remember playing with their nubby ball. It was easy for them to catch in the air, because of the nubs. They were 3 and 5 at the time, so I imagine Franci will be enjoying her super-cheap toy for years to come. Maybe when she’s a little older I’ll get her the larger, glow-in-the-dark version!
I’ve been worrying, as only a mother can, about the variety in her diet. Since she’ll eat just about anything, I’ve been pureeing every vegetable I can think of into a thick paste with some sort of meat. I keep a fish version, a lamb version and a chicken version in the freezer and alternate which one she eats each day.
Although she is not picky in general, she is particular about what she eats at which time of day. For example, her afternoon meal has to be fruit, and she won’t eat savory food at dinner. So I can’t feed her a vegetable-meat puree at any other meal but lunch. She has a strong preference for oatmeal at dinner, to which I add pumpkin or squash, yogurt and a little fruit all pureed together.
She’s been eating probably two dozen bananas a month, and after a couple months of this I’m thinking it’s time to switch things up. The problem is, it is so cheap and easy! I buy a bunch, and by the time we run out, it’s time to go grocery shopping again any way. It takes less effort to mush a banana than anything else I’ve found (with avocados close behind, which is the one food she will not eat).
How do you mix things up? It’s hard to get out of the habit of making a big batch of oatmeal, since I know she likes it. Maybe it’s time to switch to another grain? Maybe buckwheat or quinoa or farro? Maybe all three at once? Do I add in lentils or legumes? It seems like making my own baby food is a slippery slope since there is an endless combination of ingredients to use. It can drive a mom crazy!
How do you keep your sanity while providing a variety of fruits and vegetables? How do you decide what “super-foods” to include versus “convenience foods”?
Earlier this month I decided to do a series of posts on salads, in hopes of finding some good new salad recipes.
Now that you can easily find washed and shredded kale, this recipe is a breeze. As long as you remember to soak the currants over night, that is. I’m not a huge fan of kale, but this recipe has made me like it more than ever before. Maybe now I’ll branch out into other kale salads.
Unlike most other “green” salads, this one is even better the next day. It’s a good choice if you are having company or want to make a big batch ahead and have a little each day. The original recipe includes parmesan shavings, but I prefer the recipe without. I’d rather add in shredded carrot or red cabbage for a little color.
Kale Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts (adapted from Bon Appétit)
Place currants and 5 tbs of white balsamic vinegar in a bowl to soak over night. Drain before proceeding, reserving 2 tbs for the dressing.
Put kale, currants and pine nuts in a large bowl.
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small box and mix until the honey is well incorporated. Pour over salad and let marinate at least 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.
I think they left out an important percentage of the mom-population: Work-At-Home-Moms (WAHM). In my casual surfing of Facebook and Etsy, I’ve come to realize how large this group really is.
Perhaps we’re hard to categorize, because working hours aren’t always consistent. And while one WAHM may work 5 hours a week, another may work 40. And that could even be the same mom, just in a different week!
Since we are all about inclusion these days here in ‘Merica, I’ve decided to write my own letter, from one Work-At-Home-Mom to another:
You’ve made the decision to stay at home to raise your children, because the thought of missing the smallest milestone compels you. What you didn’t count on was the possibility of missing them any way, while at your work station or blocking out all distractions for just ten more minutes so you can reach a stopping point.
You might avoid cabin-fever, unlike many SAHMs, because your work connects you to the outside world. Whether it’s emailing back and forth, or talking on the phone, you’re interacting with other adults more than just answering “cash or credit” at the grocery store. But the physical isolation can get to you as well. It’s hard to fit in play dates when there is a stack of chores to tackle after work hours.
It’s a struggle to find the right balance of working enough hours to satisfy monetary and professional goals, while not working so many as to reach a breaking point or drive your family crazy. Since no one can “do it all”, don’t count on having a hobby. Unless your hobby is also your work, in which case be careful not to get sick of it! Maybe your new hobby now is cooking or cleaning, or listening to books on tape while doing chores.
Since you must become a multitasking, organizational expert to navigate the WAHM world, it’s hard to set that all aside and do something unplanned. Or to just do one thing at a time! Perhaps the biggest challenge is to dedicate undivided attention to your family. To sit down and play with your children, and not with your smart phone in one hand, checking email with one eye while admiring a tower of blocks with the other. To color at the kitchen table with your kids, instead of sitting them down to color while you make dinner.
As tempting as it is to burn the candle at both ends, a good night’s sleep becomes the most important thing. Too little rest and you will make more mistakes and your work will take longer, or your patience with your children will wane. You don’t have the luxury of napping when your baby naps, since that is prime working time. And you certainly can’t sneak in a nap in your car on your lunch break.
Hopefully we can find and connect with each other locally and online and foster our own community. If there can be a “buy locally” trend or a “buy American” campaign, why can’t we start one that focuses on supporting other WAHM moms? Whether you’re looking to make a website for your own business, or buy a cake for your child’s birthday, you can bet there is a WAHM that can deliver the goods. Let’s give it a try!
Love from the trenches,
When Franci was a few weeks old, and I was finally recovered from being pregnant and giving birth, I started to realize that there wasn’t much to do with a newborn. It hadn’t really occurred to me earlier that this would be the case, but there was very little entertainment to be had. For either of us! She couldn’t sit or crawl or read books. She didn’t call me mama or sign for more milk or giggle if I tickled her. I wish that we’d had Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid on hand to keep us busy!
Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid outlines common scientific studies performed on babies and explains how to re-create them in your own home. They are all simple, and anything you might need for the experiment can be found around the house.
Once you’ve conducted the experiment, you can compare your findings with those of the studies. See if your conclusions mirror what scientists discovered and read what the experts conclude about your baby’s cognitive, motor, language, and behavioral development.
If you’re looking for something fun to do with your baby, check out this book!
I think most babies have an innate love of music. I’m sure there are countless studies on the subject, but I can say for a fact that it’s true for Franci. When I play the piano or her dad plays guitar for her she stops what she’s doing and listens.
One thing I’ve noticed, is that she doesn’t care about the music if you aren’t directing it at her. Sometimes she hears music on the TV and will nod along, but she loses interest quickly. She also doesn’t seem to notice music when she’s riding in the car, which is unfortunate since she’s not crazy about going for a drive to begin with.
So there seems to be a difference between having music directed towards her, and hearing music in the background. I wonder if there is music that she would actually listen to on “tape”, instead of hearing it live or on TV. She seems to enjoy dancing so much I would love to be able to pop in a CD and let her rock out!
Are your kids crazy about music too? What albums did they enjoy at a year old? Her birthday is coming right up, and I’m still trying to figure out the perfect gift. I’m not looking for Lullabys or Disney Silly Songs or music just for children, but a play list or CD of regular songs that she would enjoy dancing to (and that wouldn’t drive her parents crazy).
Some people may think of salad as being more of a summer dish, but I prepare them more in winter. I’m not a huge fan of winter vegetables and can only stomach about one butter nut squash a year. I’m also not willing to spend a ton of money on out-of-season veggies from far-off lands. With the exception of tomatoes, which are (obviously) more delicious in summer, my favorite salad ingredients are equally accessible and tasty year-round.
I find myself eating about 10 salads a week in winter and after a few years of this, I need some new recipes! If I get sick of salads, my winter diet will be over-run with cheese and my family won’t be getting the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy. I’m hoping that if I share my favorite salad recipes with you, you’ll share some good ones with me!
So, to start us off we have my variation of a Greek Salad
Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Squeeze juice from about half a lemon on top and drizzle with a glug or two of olive oil (a scant 2 tablespoons or so). Toss well.
Last week I confessed that Franci sleeps in a second-hand drop-down crib. It gets even worse! Some of your kids may have rooms “as small as a closet”. Frances doesn’t have a room: she actually sleeps in our closet. The space is just big enough for a full-sized crib, so she sleeps with hangers full of clothes looming above her.
She’s actually slept in several closets in the past year. One time while visiting family, we didn’t bring our portable crib and so she slept in a large tupperware. Which we put in a closet. It was nice and dark and very quiet, and she slept like, well, a baby.
So, fess up! What’s your biggest confession?
Frances is coming up on one year at the end of the month, and the grandparents have started asking for gift ideas. I don’t remember what it was like to be that young, so I’m not sure what to suggest. She has certainly outgrown some things since Christmas, like her bouncy seat and jump-up, but I don’t know if they even need to be replaced with anything.
She’s too young for crayons and still prefers to chew on books rather than read them, so I don’t want to request art supplies or more books. She loves her wooden blocks and stacking cups, but I don’t think she needs more of them. She’s too young for a Doll House, and I think I would have more fun with that than she would.
I was trying to think of some bigger items that would be nice to not have to purchase ourselves, but I can’t think of anything we don’t already have: high chair, car seat, backpack. Is there some expense we’re overlooking?
As a new parent, each stage is something new and different so I’d love to hear what some of you veterans have to say!