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?
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!
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
Parenting books are another source of advice, and you can find one that suits all parenting styles. Sometimes they really speak to you, and sometimes not. I got a kick out of reading sleep books from both ends of the spectrum before Franci was born, since the advice from one completely contradicted advice from the other.
Whether or not I decide to follow the advice, I really don’t get sick of hearing it all. Knowledge is power, after all. And just because I disagree completely, doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything!
One piece of advice I find myself coming back to over and over is, “Begin as you mean to go.” It means that it’s easier to take a stance now, instead of having to change it down the road. It may take a lot of energy up front that you don’t really have, but you’ll see the pay-off eventually. It goes hand in hand with, “Choose your battles.” Decide what the rules are the moment it becomes an issue, and stick to it. And if you don’t see yourself fighting that war down the road, for whatever reason, don’t half-ass it up front just to give up after a weak show.
What is the best piece of parenting advice you ever received? How about the worst?