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?
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”?
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,
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).
Playtime is more than just a way to pass a few hours. Gray’s research asserts that play is essential in all mammals’ development, and the those that have the most to learn play the most. He makes great points about creativity and the fact that we have robots and computers to do many of the tasks that we used to do, so our focus now should be on solving problems and thinking towards the future.
One point I agree with (and so did Einstein) is that too much schooling can destroy your interest in a topic you once enjoyed. After completing my Computer Science degree, I didn’t want to touch a computer for years. In contrast, my husband saw himself in a similar position and chose to leave school and pursue CS on his own. Guess who still loves computers and enjoys making a living with them?
Play teaches children self-control and teamwork better than any classroom because they live the results. There are correlations between the opportunities to play and mental disorders and anxiety. I know that I’m in a healthier state of mind if I have time to play!
The most ironic part of this situation is that while US (and UK, where Gray resides) schooling becomes more rigorous, China is doing the exact opposite. They tried what we’re trying already, and it was a miserable failure (check out, “China’s 10 new and surprising school reform rules“, on the Washington Post’s website for more on this topic).
Where do you stand on the subject? Do you think school days should be longer and holidays shorter? Are we too hard on young students or not hard enough?
I usually just skim the titles, but one article recently caught my eye that is worth a read: Growing Up Unvaccinated. The author was not vaccinated as a child, but has chosen to vaccinate her own children. When faced between letting her child suffer through the measles and the consequences (such as infertility or the use of antibiotics) and vaccinating, it’s a no-brainer. I tend to agree with the author. A very sick child is heartbreaking, and is no fun for the parent either.
After learning about how long it takes the body to get back to normal after a round of antibiotics, I try and avoid them at all costs. If I’m sick a few days longer, it’s worth it to keep my digestive track healthy.
So if I have to chose between vaccines and antibiotics for Franci, I’m sticking with the vaccines. What about you?
It all started when I noticed Franci was more interested in rubbing her gums with the xylophone wand than using it to make music. I had suspected that her gums were starting to itch since she spent a lot of time with her fingers practically down her throat.
While she is more than welcome to use the wand in whatever way she desires, I thought it might be a good time to try out one of the gum massagers available. There are lots of different choices, so I narrowed it down to cheap and easy to hold (and hard to swallow).
The Zo-li Gummy Stick looked the most like the xylophone wand, and it came in a pack of two. The price was way better than the Green Sprouts Silicone Gum Massager, but I was a little concerned the massaging end wouldn’t be long enough. Now that she’s used it a few times I think the length is just fine. If I hand it to her she massages her gums for a minute, and then abandons it to play with her toys. Still, it serves its purpose and I’d consider it a good purchase since it has the mouth guard. I thought about giving her a real toothbrush, but I was a little concerned she’d try to stick it down her throat.
I decided to go with something completely different while I was at it and ordered The Teethifier. Unlike all the other models, this one massages both sides at once. I had to show Frances how to use it several times, but now she understands how it works. Sometimes she chews on the ring with her front teeth, but I often find her using it as intended. She picks it up herself sometimes, so if you were going to buy just one gum massager this is the one I’d recommend.
Did you resort to a gum massager when the molars started itching? What kind did you use?
Taking her to the dentist now seems drastic, but it’s probably time to think about brushing. A quick Amazon search for Infant Toothbrush returns so many different types of teeth-cleaning devices, I don’t know where to begin. Do we start with a finger toothbrush? Or a silicone toothbrush? Or should we start right away with a toothbrush with bristles, since that’s what she’ll use eventually?
And what about training toothpaste? Is it good enough to just use water at this point?
Frances can no longer sleep through the sound of a single dog bark, but doesn’t wake up after vomiting all over herself? Motherhood is full of surprises!
This morning Franci awoke at her usual time with her usual smile and giggle, accompanied by a little surprise for her dad: a huge pile of dry vomit. At some point in the night, she had puked in the crook of her arm while on her stomach. The dried chunks covered her face and hair, and her sleep sack and pajamas were cold and damp. Whatever made her sick worked it’s way out of both ends, because her diaper was in a similar state of affairs.
An infant getting sick in the middle of the night isn’t big news, I’m just incredulous that she slept that way for hours! And that she didn’t even notice upon waking up. The smell alone was enough to make me cry. That and the thought that my poor baby slept in her own barf. Maybe she wasn’t upset because whatever made her stomach turn was short-lived. Her temperature and temperment are completely normal and if you ignore the load of bedding tumbling in the dryer, it’s like none of it even happened.
Every parent has at least one good vomit story in his or her repetroire, so let’s commiserate. What’s your best tale of puke?
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was planning to pick up the pace on using baby sign language. I finally found the book I was looking for when I cleaned house, and I’m glad I did!
The Baby Signing Book by Sara Bingham is a great resource that I’d recommend to anyone wanting to use ASL with their kids. The book starts out with instructions on how to introduce sign language to your baby. The following sections are geared toward young babies, older babies and toddlers.
Bingham includes strategies and “teaching moments” as well as “Notes from a signing parent”. All of these additions helped me get excited about signing with Frances. She encourages you to use as few, or as many, signs as you’re comfortable with, and I appreciated her low-stress approach.
There is a pretty good sized selection of baby signs included. It covers most of the signs we’ll be using, but doesn’t include a few I was interested in, like patient and poop. Overall, there are plenty of signs worth learning. I especially appreciated the “memory aids” she includes with each sign to help you remember them.
The last section includes several songs and the signs that accompany them. I like the idea of signing while singing, and I’ve already committed a few to memory.
If you’re only going to buy one book about Baby Sign Language, I’d check out The Baby Signing Book.