Swimming with Babies

Water Baby

Water Baby

When I took Francis to her first toddler swim class, she was the youngest by far (about 4 months old).  I could tell from the very beginning she loved water and believe it’s never too soon to get children comfortable around water. I’ve always showered with our girls instead of bathing them, as soon as their cord fell off in fact.  I take time to make sure they get plenty of water on their faces and are used to that particular sensation.

A few weeks ago Allison attended her first swim class and had a great time.  It helps that it took place in the warmer therapy pool.  I wish I had more time to take her so she gets as much exposure as Franci, who goes to the pool a couple of times a month with her grandmother.

The toddler classes we attend are very informal and involve lots of singing and play.  At this point, I just want the girls to enjoy the water and have fun.  It wasn’t until recently that I had heard of Infant Swimming.  Now that’s hard core!  I understand that some families, especially ones with pools at home, would want to teach their babies to hold their breath and swim a few feet, but I don’t think we’re that dedicated.

When they are a little older, we’ll start lessons in earnest.  By then they will have a positive association with the pool and will be ready for real instruction from a trained teacher.  Considering about 700 children under the age a 14 drown in the US each year, the sooner they can swim the better.

How young were your kids when you started swim lessons? Did you start with casual lessons or serious ones?

Little Lotus Kickstarter to Help Vulnerable Infants in Developing Countries

Embrace Warmer

Embrace Warmer

It’s easy to take for granted the tools we have in the US to care for premature and at risk babies. For example, there isn’t a hospital in this country that doesn’t have an incubator to help underweight babies regulate their body temperature.

In developing countries, hospitals don’t always have enough incubators, or even the electricity to run an incubator. While I don’t know this fact for certain, I can only imagine that small or remote villages don’t have an incubator handy for premature babies or low weight babies at risk of hypothermia.

Little Lotus Swaddle

Little Lotus Swaddle

We just heard about an amazing product to replace incubators in places where they are not available: the Embrace Warmer. It doesn’t require constant electricity, is portable and reusable. Developed using the same material NASA uses for spacesuits, the Embrace Warmer looks like an advanced swaddling contraption that keeps the baby from becoming too hot or too cold. The technology works by drawing away excess heat if the baby starts to get too warm then releasing it if he starts to cool down.

Little Lotus started a Kickstarter Campaign on April 14th, to roll out a line of baby products including a swaddle, sleeping bag and blanket made with the same proprietary material used in the Embrace Warmer. Much like the Tom’s Shoes One For One mission, for every Little Lotus product purchased, an Embrace Warmer will be donated to a baby in need. Since it is reusable up to 50 times, not just one baby will benefit from this donation.

Little Lotus Sleeping Bag

Little Lotus Sleeping Bag

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter Campaigns, this is how they work: You pledge a certain amount of money to your chosen campaign to help fund the project, which can be anything from a movie or book to a product like the Embrace Warmer. If the campaign reaches its funding goal by the deadline set, your pledge is collected and the creators move forward with the project. After the project is complete, everyone that has pledged money receives a reward in return. Many campaigns offer tiers of donations, and the more you donate the more you get at the end.

Little Lotus Cozy Blanket

Little Lotus Cozy Blanket

For the Little Lotus Kickstarter Campaign, you can pledge anywhere from $5-$10,000 dollars. If you’re hoping to receive a Little Lotus Cozy Blanket, 2 Swaddles or 2 Sleeping bags in exchange for your donation, expect to pledge $125 (they will be retailing at $150). If their funding goal of $98,000 is reached by May 29, 2015, the product development will move forward and you will receive your reward in late summer.

As a bonus, if Little Lotus reaches its goal by the end of May, we’re going to host a giveaway for one of 3 Little Lotus swaddles, sleeping bags or blankets. We encourage you to check out Embrace Warmer, Little Lotus and their Kickstarter page to learn more!

Fun With Paleo

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To Spank or Not to Spank

A better source of parenting advice than the Pope.

A better source of parenting advice than the Pope.

Pope Francis has made headlines with his story of a “good father” that chooses to smack his children a bit, but “never in the face so as not to humiliate them”.

I realize that priests are often called upon to give advice to parishioners, but maybe parenting advice is a little out of their purview. Of course, children of his generation were whipped, smacked, and spanked with abandon. Nowadays you can get sent to jail if someone finds out about it, even in the Pope’s home country of Argentina.

Corporal punishment is definitely falling out of favor. Studies suggest that spanking doesn’t correct behavior over the long term, and can erode the trust between children and their parents. It is not, however, illegal in the US. Unless the judge decides the punishment was abuse.  In fact, about 60% of American parents believe in spanking.

If you’re against spanking or would like to enforce discipline without it, there are plenty of books out there that tell you how.

Were you spanked as a child? How do you feel about spanking your own children?

Quarantining a Toddler: Is it worth the effort?

What's a little personal space between sisters

What’s a little personal space between sisters?

We had RSV work its way through our ranks this month, and I admit that I did nothing to stop it. When Franci fell ill, I briefly considered keeping her away from Allison only to immediately abandon the idea. I mean, how would that even work? Would I wear a smock when caring for Frances and whip it off when I ran to comfort Allison? No doubt we had all already been exposed before Franci showed any symptoms.

Sure, we make Franci wash her hands regularly and she remembers to cough into the crook of her arm half the time. She is relatively good at blowing her nose and knows where her “hankies” are and asks for a tissue when ever her nose starts to run. She also sneaks a suck on Alli’s pacifier when I’m not looking, shares bowls of granola with her dad and regularly coughs in my face. If RSV is as contagious as they say, any effort I could have made to sanitize my hands and everything around us would have been cancelled out by one well-aimed sneeze (and there were several).

At least I’m able to find comfort in the fact that Allison is piggybacking my immunity through all the breast milk she guzzles down. It might not save her from a serious case of RSV, but maybe it will save her from the various other childhood illnesses Franci brings home from daycare. And when Alli starts attending herself, in another year and a half, maybe she won’t spend the first six months with a perpetual cold.

How do you prevent colds from infecting your whole family? I would love to hear some tips to try out next time, because I don’t even know where to start!

Newborn Fever

Get Well Soon!

Get Well Soon!

When I say “Newborn Fever”, I’m not talking about nervous excitement about having a baby, I mean an elevated temperature in a baby that is less than three months old. Is there anything more nerve racking?

In our household, we try and let a fever take its course. It’s doing something important, after all: helping the body fight off infection. Sometimes we can’t help but give into “feverphobia”, and bring it down with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but only if the child is uncomfortable. As long as she is eating, drinking, peeing and not acting lethargic, we let the illness run its course.

The course of action is not the same for a baby under three months old. It’s hard to find a source on the internet that doesn’t insist you take her to the ER the minute her temperature goes above 100.4F. It turns out that if the fever is caused by a bacteria, it’s very dangerous. The only way to really be sure that it isn’t caused by a viral infection instead is through tests.

We never bothered to buy a rectal thermometer because Franci never got sick. We’ve liked our ear thermometer and use it on the whole family. Although they are not very accurate for infants, I didn’t worry about it too much. It gave us a ballpark range that seemed good enough. I wish I had known just how inaccurate it is!

After being intimidated by all the information online about fevers in infants, we made a late-night trip to the store for a multi-use digital thermometer. I had no idea we were looking at a full two degrees of difference between the ear and the rectal temperature! I wish I hadn’t been so quick to avoid taking a baby’s temperature rectally. When it came down to it, she sure didn’t seem to mind and I wasn’t as clumsy as I thought I’d be.

Although her temperature was above the dreaded 100.4F cutoff, we were confident that Allison’s fever wasn’t bacterial (Franci and I had the same fever), and our pediatrician supported our decision to wait until morning instead of rushing to the ER. If she had stopped nursing, peeing or began acting lethargic, we would have gone instantly. Since she was behaving so normally I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong had we not decided to take her temperature the right way.

What I learned was that just because I would balk at having my own temperature taken rectally doesn’t mean a newborn cares. And even if they do, knowing that the reading is accurate in your newborn is worth it.

Product Review: Calazime Skin Protectant Paste

Best Diaper Cream

Best Diaper Cream

We’ve reviewed and recommended a lot of different diaper creams over the years: Burt’s Bees, Angle Baby Bottom Balm, Weleda Calendula Diaper Care, and more.

While I previously had a strong preference for Weleda, I was randomly turned on to a kind I never previously considered: Calazime Skin Protectant Paste. It’s not generally advertised under baby care, so it was not previously on my radar.

The first thing I noticed was how thick it is. It spreads easily and leaves a thick layer on the skin. Even after a full night of sleep, when most other creams have dissolved into oblivion, the Calazime is still there.

The first ingredient is Aloe, which I like, and has menthol to soothe any irritation along with zinc to protect the skin from moisture. The best part is that Allison’s rash is nearly gone after one application.

Have you tried Calazime? What diaper cream is on your changing table right now?

Milk Debate: Is raw milk really any better for you?

As fresh as it gets!

As fresh as it gets!

Last week I posted about non-homogenized milk, and it got me thinking about the raw milk movement. Advocates claim it is a sort of magical elixir that can cure aliments like allergies and asthma. It contains proteins and compounds that stop the immune system from reacting to allergens and is full of enzymes and beneficial bacteria.

There are no studies that support these claims, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence. Some say “no one is allergic to raw milk” because of its live enzymes.  The lactase digests the lactose and the protease helps the protein and lipase digest the fat.

The CDC, on the other hand, warns against harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli and listeria, that might contaminate raw milk from the same source you’ve been using for years. They suggest that if what you are after is “good” bacteria, you could get if from fermented foods or yogurt instead.

Is raw milk truly dangerous? Well, the CDC claims that there were 2 deaths resulting from raw milk products (like milk and cheese) between 1998 and 2011. Since it is being used to “treat” sicknesses, it is possible that the two victims already had compromised immune systems. There were 2,384 illnesses and 284 hospitalizations in the same 13 year span. As risks go, I consider that to be pretty minimal. Of course, raw milk comes from farms full of animals and manure, so even the cleanliest dairies aren’t completely sanitary.

Should you drink raw milk? Perhaps if you prefer the taste and get it from a dairy that regularly tests its supply or if you truly believe it is benefiting your allergies. If you would feel devastated if your child were paralysed from raw milk tainted with campylobacter or needed a new kidney from a bad case of E. Coli, perhaps it is not worth the risk.

Where do you stand on the raw milk debate?

Milk Debate: Is non-homogonized really any better for you?

My great uncle was an OBGYN and he always said that the homogenization of milk was one of the worst “advances” in science. He said the body was meant to process the small and large milk particles at different rates, and that homogenized milk had particles all the same size which meant the digestive system had to process them all at the same time. Or so it was explained to me.

To homogenize or not to homogenize?

To homogenize or not to homogenize?

Keep in mind that homogenization (making all the milk particles the same size so there is no separation) is not the same as pasteurization (heating milk in order to kill bacteria). Raw milk is non-homogenized and unpasteurized, where as non-homogenized milk has been pasteurized.

When I noticed they sell non-homogenized “Cream on Top” milk at our Trader Joe’s, I decided to give it a try on Franci in place of the more expensive Goat Milk. As Frances got a little older, I gave her homogenized milk and didn’t notice any difference in her digestion. What I did notice was a big difference in taste. I don’t drink a ton of milk myself, but I do put it in my coffee and on cereal. It could just be the fact that the non-homogenized milk is small batch and organic, but it is delicious!

It is also more expensive than homogenized organic milk. I decided it was time to do a little research and find out if I’m just paying for the delicious taste, or if it really is easier to digest.

During one double-blind test, there was no difference between symptoms when the testers drank homogenized versus non-homogenized milk. Of course, there were only 44 people in the study. I couldn’t find any better tests to report.

The homogenization process breaks the protective membrane made of proteins and other immune factors around the milk particles. Some studies suggest that this membrane has it’s own health benefits.

Other studies prove that homogenized milk is easier to digest. As much as I searched, I wasn’t able to track down these studies, despite them being referenced from time to time. There is a pretty good debate presented at ProCon.org for further reading

Since research suggests that the digestive properties of both milks are equivalent, are there reasons to choosing non-homogenized? If you are trying to eat “closer to nature”, yes. If you are not willing to risk raw (unpasteurized) milk but want milk that has gone through less processing, yes. If you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, stay away from both! If you’re like me, and prefer the taste, yes. Otherwise save yourself the extra dollar (or trip to the speciality market) and stick with organic milk.

Do you splurge on non-homogenized milk?

Fun With Holidays

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