Tag Archive for 'tips'

Weekly Highlights (3/26/12) – Health & Safety News, Research, & Recalls

Welcome to this week’s highlights, our weekly post that recaps important health and safety news, research, and recalls from the previous week and other great finds we’ve come across in our internet travels.  If you see anything you think we should feature, please send it to jasmine@purebebe.com. Thanks, and we hope your week is off to a great start!   - Jasmine

In the News:

Help for Postpartum DepressionThe nation’s first inpatient unit for moms who suffer from postpartum depression at UNC Chapel Hill allows hospitalized moms to be with their babies, offers weekly therapy for mom and baby, as well as partner-assisted therapy for dad to learn how to be most helpful. The center has been open since August and sounds as if it has been a resounding success. If only more women could have access to this kind of therapy and support.

FDA to Decide on BPA by Week’s EndBy the end of this week, the FDA is set to take a position on BPA in food packaging in response to a court order after ignoring a petition by the National Resources Defense Council. We’ve seen more research emerging as of late showing effects at even low doses. I’m with the NRDC – we need to get BPA out of our food, but we also need to ensure a safe replacement.

Sugar Takes Corn Syrup to Court - Sugar producers are taking on corn refiners as they accuse the corn industry of false advertising in its latest campaign that argues corn syrup is “nutritionally the same as table sugar.” In fact, corn industry reps are hoping to change the name from “high fructose corn syrup” to “corn sugar” in an attempt to improve its image. Call it what you want, but ultimately our society needs to reduce its overall consumption of sugars and sweeteners if we’re going to have much impact on the obesity epidemic.

Maryland Senate Proposes Ban on Smoking in Cars with Young Children - After a lively debate on the Senate floor, the Maryland Senate voted to send a bill to the House that would ban smoking in cars with children under the age of 8. While many opponents argue the intrusion of privacy, the dangers of smoking are well-established and in this case, I think the pendulum swings in favor of protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

New Research:

Early Exposure to Germs Does a Body GoodSome scientists think they’ve figured out the key to the “hygiene hypothesis”, the hypothesis that exposure to germs at an early age helps build immunity whereas a super clean environment increases susceptibility to allergic and autoimmune diseases.

In a recent study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital compared the immune systems of mice living in “germ-free” and normal environments and found that immune cells (invariant natural killer T cells) accumulated in the lungs and colon of the mice in germ-free environments and caused symptoms resembling asthma and colitis. When young mice were exposed to microbes during the first weeks of life (but not later as adults), on the other hand, they grew up with stronger immune systems protected from immune cell accumulation and disease.

The researchers caution that additional research in humans is needed, but the findings fall in line with years of research showing that exposure to microbes and parasites in childhood reduces the risk of autoimmune disease.

Good Reads:

Spring Cleaning: 11 Germ Traps to Clean Today – Some surprising recommendations you might not think about.

The 4 Questions Anyone Struggling with Work-Life Balance Should Ask – A refreshing point-of-view on the idea of work-life balance. Her dialogue sure helps me feel better about my inability to keep up with life sometimes.

Pinterest-Worthy Finds:

This week, we’re featuring pocket-size activities for your little ones – small enough to tuck away in your purse or diaper bag for a little entertainment on the go. The first feature comes from Made by Joel, an ingenious site that is full of DIY activities to do with your children. LOVE this site! I came across the second feature on Pinterest, and it comes to us from Etsy. I think I need to invest in some altoid tins. FYI – do a search for altoid tin crafts on google, and you’ll be amazed what else you might find.

Travel Size Paper City Paris! from Made by Joel

Wee Mouse Tin House PDF Pattern from mmmcrafts on Etsy

If you’d like to follow us on Pinterest, find us here.

Recalls, March 20 – March 26:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

Child Safety Seat Recalls

No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls


Weekly Highlights (3/19/2012)

We hope you had a wonderful weekend. Welcome to this week’s highlights, our weekly post that recaps important child health and safety news, research, and recalls from the previous week and other great finds we’ve come across in our internet travels.  Enjoy! - Jasmine

In the News:

Is it Safe to Play Yet? Going to Extremes to Purge Household Toxins - The article is a bit hypocritical as it highlights legitimate reasons why we should be concerned, but then paints concerned mothers as neurotic and portrays a PhD’d father as unconvinced based on his common sense. Even so, the message is that parents are going to great lengths to determine what is safe and protect their children from what they feel is not.

This is one of the many reasons that Heather and I do what we do – research and write in an effort to put helpful information at your fingertips. Despite what the article says, there is plenty of science on some toxic threats with more emerging daily. It’s becoming harder to deny the science on BPA when even small doses are showing adverse effects.

Concern over toxins in our daily lives can be incredibly overwhelming, paralyzing even. But we do have to be careful not to let toxic green guilt take over our lives. I’m guilty of that feeling sometimes, but I’ve learned to move in baby steps knowing that every step gets us closer to a healthier family. In the end, though, there’s only so much we can all do to protect our families, and ultimately we need chemical reform.

Schools Can Just Say No to ‘Pink Slime’ - In response to public uproar, the USDA is now giving schools the option to purchase ground beef sans ‘pink slime’. While many say it may not be unsafe, everyone seems to agree that there is a definite yuck factor with ‘pink slime’.

Herbal Danger: You’ll Rue Taking Rue - Consumer Reports highlights important points to consider before using herbal treatments, in particular detailing concerns over rue which can cause uterine contractions and miscarriage in pregnant women.

No More Annual Pap Smear: New Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines - New guidelines on cervical cancer screenings from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advise women to reduce the number of tests they receive over their lifetime. Recommendations now suggest that women under 21 should not be tested, and those over 21 should only receive a pap smear every 3 years.

New Research:

Low Doses, Big Effects: Scientists Seek Fundamental Change in Regulation and Testing of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals
A team of 12 scientists are calling for a paradigm shift after spending 3 years reviewing hundreds of studies on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals. In what is likely to be a controversial paper, they have concluded that there is plenty of evidence that hormone altering chemicals have effects at low levels, and those effects are often different than what may be seen at high doses. The researchers argue that we need to change from the current regulatory system where chemicals are tested at high doses and then safe levels are determined at lower doses while never actually being tested; instead, chemicals need to be tested and regulated at low levels akin to human exposures.

Common Antibiotic Linked to Asthma
A recent study out of Canada has concluded that a widely used antibiotic, vancomycin, when used early in life can increase the risk and severity of asthma. In experiments done on rodents, the researchers found that the antibiotic wipes out beneficial gut in the bacteria that play an important role in shaping a healthy immune system. The ongoing research is investigating specifically which microbes are affected, as consideration for how the bacteria might ultimately be used in treatments in the future. While the research is not yet proven in people, the researchers are working on a national study in 5,000 children.

You Are What Your Mother Ate
This article provides a good overview of the theory of epigenetics. A lot of the studies that I’ve been reading and that we’ve been highlighting fall under this theory – that the foods we eat and the environment we expose ourselves to can affect the expression of our genes and the traits that we pass on to our offspring, but we and our children also have the ability to modify gene expression with our behaviors. For instance, where certain factors have put us at increased risk for a particular disease, we can counter that risk with healthy behaviors and possibly turn the tide for the next generation. Much of today’s research is focused on epigenetics, and it is truly fascinating.

Pinterest-Worthy Finds:

CafeMom, a social gathering site for moms, recently hosted a photography challenge by Me Ra Koh, a professional photographer, in which she provided recipes/detailed instructions for capturing memorable images and moments and then users reported back with their images. Her first recipe invited moms to capture the fleeting hair swirl of their newborns.

How to Capture the Fleeting Hair Swirl

I love how specific these instructions are for those of us less experienced behind the camera. To see her other recipes and challenges, visit her post here.

If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, find me here.

Recalls, March 14 – March 19:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

No child product recall announcements this week.

Child Safety Seat Recalls

No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls

If there’s anything you see and think we should feature, please send it to jasmine@purebebe.com.

Weekly Highlights (2/29/2012)

Happy Leap Day! Sorry for the delay this week, as I managed to land myself with crutches after a rough spill and a badly sprained ankle. Nevertheless, welcome to this week’s highlights, our weekly post that recaps important child health and safety news, research, and recalls from the previous week and other great finds we’ve come across in our internet travels. Enjoy!

- Jasmine

In the News:

Baby Born with Cancer is a Medical Mystery - In the rarest of medical occurrences, a baby was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma shortly after her birth. Earlier this month, her mother lost the battle with the same cancer that they believe she passed on to her baby in utero. Now baby Addison is fighting the cancer and being treated with an experimental FDA-approved medication approved only for her and not covered by insurance. To help the family with the cost of care, donations can be made to the “Cox Family” donation account at Arizona Federal Credit Union.  Account #826604.

Recall: Birth control pills Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol—Tablets out of order - We wanted to bring to your attention another birth control pill recall - Generic birth control pills Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol sold between September 21 and December 30, 2011.

California Bill Would End Use of Toxic Flame Retardants - A new bill was introduced Friday seeking to change the state’s outdated flame retardant standard. While the new bill doesn’t require the phasing out of toxic flame retardants, it does set a standard that most furniture items could pass without the use of toxic chemicals, and that is a step in the right direction.

I’ll Take a Sperm Test to Go: First DIY Male Fertility Test Now Available - Very few men get tested early on or at all in struggling couples, but now a new screening test approved by the FDA, SpermCheck, can assess sperm count with 98% accuracy in 10 minutes in the privacy of your own home.

CPSC Adopts New Federal Standard for Portable Bed Rails - Bed rails intended to keep children from rolling out of an adult bed have entrapped young children and killed infants. The CPSC has adopted a new standard requiring testing and improved warnings stating that rails should never be used with children under 2. Portable bed rails must also not create a dangerous gap with the mattress or contain hazardous edges or small parts.

New Research:

That New Car Smell is Toxic
That new car smell is actually the smell of chemicals off-gassing from interior auto parts like the steering wheel, dashboard, seats, and trim. It’s amazing how the smells we’ve been conditioned to associate with new and clean can be so toxic to our health. Over 275 different chemicals have been identified in vehicles interiors, including bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; and heavy metals. These chemicals have been linked to a variety of health problems such as allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.

Healthystuff.org has tested over 900 vehicles since 2006 for these chemicals, and in its latest release the 2012 Honda Civic topped its list as the least toxic whereas the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander was the organization’s worst pick. Some general observations to note: Honda has virtually eliminated PVC from its fleet, with 83% of 2011/12 models free of PVC. North American-produced vehicles lag behind Europe- and Asia-produced vehicles in PVC and brominated flame retardant use, as the U.S. has the weakest regulatory system for chemicals in consumer products and provides the fewest incentives. How does your car stack up?

Memo to Pediatricians: Screen All Kids for Vitamin D Deficiency, Test Those at High Risk
As numerous studies have shown the fundamental role of Vitamin D on health and disease, which often develop in childhood, pediatricians are recommending that children be screened for risk factors and tested when at high risk. The AAP recommends 400 IU daily for breastfed infants under one and 600 IU daily for toddlers. I give my girls, one of whom refuses to drink milk,  Carlson Labs Vitamin D supplement which comes in the form of liquid drops of vitamin D3 in fractionated coconut oil. It’s tasteless, so they don’t notice a few drops added to their water.

Kids Get More Added Sugar From Foods Than From Drinks
While soda is still the single largest source of added sugar in children’s diets, new government data shows that processed and packaged foods are the leading source in their diets with 63% of calories from added sugars consumed at home. “Soda consumption is high, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the added sugars in foods such as muffins, cookies, sugar-sweetened cereals and pasta sauces,” says Cynthia Ogden, senior author on the report and an epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics.

Getting Kids to Eat Veggies Can Be Sticky Business
A recent study found that rewarding children with stickers increased their affinity for a previously disliked vegetable. In the study, 173 families were assigned to three different groups: one that rewarded tiny tastes with stickers, another that rewarded with praise, and a control group that used no special tactics. Over the course of 12 days, the researchers found that the children rewarded with stickers gave higher yum factor ratings to vegetables they’d previously disliked and the results seemed to last, whereas praise seemed to have little effect. While rewards can be controversial as may lead to an expectation of reward, the researchers suggest that it about 10 days was enough to change a child’s attitude toward the vegetable.

Fantastic Finds:

Solutions for Siblings from Positive Parenting - I’m fortunate that my children get along most days, but sometimes they and I need a little help diffusing a situation. This article provides some great ideas for minimizing sibling rivalry and creating an environment where children can feel safe, loved, and valued.

How to Delete Your Google Browsing History Before New Privacy Policy - Apparently, once Google’s new policy takes effect tomorrow, all data it has previously collected about you across Google, Gmail, YouTube, etc. will be unified and associated with your online identity including search data which can reveal particularly sensitive information. The EEF, a nonprofit org for online privacy, recommends that all Google users take steps to delete their web history.

Porn for Pregnant Ladies from Pregnant Chicken - Don’t worry, ladies. It’s safe for work. My personal favorite? Hugh Jackman on Pinterest. :)

Get Closer from YouTube -  An inspiring human message.

Recalls, February 22 – February 29:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

Child Safety Seat Recalls

No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls

If there’s anything you see and think we should feature, please send it to jasmine@purebebe.com.

10 Tips for a Successful Start to Breastfeeding

I have several young friends who are entering motherhood or have just recently entered motherhood, and whenever I’ve been asked for advice I always tell them two things (that I learned the hard way):

1. Do not leave the hospital without a personal visit from the lactation consultant.

2. Do not leave the hospital without a breast pump.

When I was expecting my first baby, I committed to myself that I would breastfeed but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. In my mind, it was a very natural thing that should, well, come naturally. I didn’t have a lot of time to do much reading, though I did attend a childbirth class at my local hospital which included a segment on breastfeeding. Ok, so we talked about how to get a proper latch, but when you hear this weeks before you’ve ever tried to attach a child to your breast, it really doesn’t stick.

When my little girl arrived, the nurse assisted me with my first feeding, and it seemed easy enough…until the next day, when I noticed that I was quite sore and by the end of the day my nipples were cracked and beginning to bleed. When the nurses checked on me, I told them as much and they informed me that it was perfectly normal.

Fast forward 2 days later, and my milk comes in…not 3 hours after I left the pediatrician’s office saying everything was great, my breasts are suddenly the size of grapefruits and hard as a rock; my newborn can’t latch; and I don’t have a breast pump. I’m searching frantically on the internet trying to figure out what to do, and best I can find are some instructions on how to manually express. No luck. By late that evening, I’m in pain, in tears, and feeling like a failure because I’ve resorted to giving my baby formula. (Aside: This does not imply that I judge anyone who cannot or chooses not to breastfeed. I just really had my heart set on breastfeeding, and by this hour I felt like breastfeeding just wasn’t going to happen for me).

Thank goodness for the ladies at Northern Virginia Lactation Center. After numerous calls to La Leche League volunteers and other lactation consultants, I found these ladies who, although booked, called in one of their consultants on her day off to help me out.  By the end of my two hour visit, I’d pumped nearly 15 ounces; we had my baby weaned back off the bottle (she had to be offered breastmilk via syringe for instant gratification to coax her back to the breast); we’d learned the proper latch; my baby had a full tummy; and I left with a breast pump and a treatment plan designed to help with continued engorgement and normalization of my milk supply. Thank you, Nancy!

Now, I don’t share this to frighten anyone…in the end, I was able to breastfeed my daughter up to her first birthday and then some. I share my experience in hopes that others will benefit from it.

In addition to the two pieces of advice I mentioned above, here are the remainder of what I would consider my top 10 breastfeeding tips for a successful start:

3. A proper latch is critical. Don’t let anyone tell you that soreness and cracked nipples are normal. It is a likely indicator that your baby is not positioned or latching properly.  Back to #1 – before you leave the hospital, have a lactation consultant check your latch and correct it, if necessary. There are also a wealth of great videos online you can refer to when you get home as a reminder. (P.S. We’ll plan a separate post in the future geared specifically to proper latching techniques)

4. Use a breastfeeding pillow. A breastfeeding pillow will elevate your baby and make it easier to get a proper latch. I’ve tried both the Boppy and the My Brest Friend, and my personal preference is the Boppy. The My Brest Friend has to wrap around your lower back, and I found that it caused me back pain unless I put an extra pillow for support behind my upper back. It’s also not as easy to put on when you’ve got the baby in one hand and are trying to bring the strap around and buckle it with the other. Plus, the Boppy can serve other purposes as your baby gets older – it can be used for tummy time or a prop to assist your baby with sitting up.

5. Lanolin is good, but breastmilk is better. Lanolin is most often recommended as a remedy for sore, cracked nipples because it is safe for baby. However, I found that breastmilk worked even better. After your baby finishes nursing, rub a little breastmilk on your nipples and let them air dry for a little bit. Within days, I was on the mend.

6. Relax, and rest when baby rests. Stress and lack of sleep can negatively impact your milk production. It’s the age old adage, but it is a necessity. To reduce stress, accept help and ask for it if needed. Take a hot shower or warm bath.

7. Follow your baby’s cues, and not the clock. Don’t stress over how long your baby feeds. Instead, let your baby suck at one breast until they fall asleep or pull away; then offer the other but don’t fret if they don’t accept it. Just offer that side the next time. I used to try to ensure that my baby fed from both breasts at each feeding, but I learned that doing so doesn’t allow the baby to get as much of the more nutrient-rich hindmilk that comes as the feeding progresses. When it comes to frequency, it’s advised that you wake your newborn every 4 hours to feed if they’re not waking on their own to feed, but once a pattern of weight gain is established, it’s ok to let them sleep and feed on demand.

8. Stay hydrated and fed. Your body needs fluids to make fluids. Drink a glass of water at each feeding. Your body also needs calories. Keep lots of easy to eat fruit and healthy snacks handy. Unless someone was making me a meal, I found it difficult to get good nutrition in the early weeks. It was much easier when I kept things around that I could pick at throughout the day or eat easily while feeding or tending to my baby.

9. Wait to introduce the bottle. It is recommended that you wait at least 3-4 weeks before introducing a bottle or pacifier. Introducing either too early can cause issues either because bottle nipples require different mouth and tongue motions or because baby gets used to a different flow as seemed to be the case with mine. I’m not entirely convinced about the same issue with pacifiers – I introduced the pacifier in the first week with my second baby because she was using me as one ‘round the clock, and we had no issues. We used the Soothie pacifiers that are offered at the hospital.

10. Approach breastfeeding in stages. While I hoped from the beginning to nurse my baby until she could transition to cow’s milk, I found it helpful to set milestones for myself along the way. Start by taking it a day at a time, then aim to get through the first few weeks, and then months. The milestones I set for myself were (1) the first week, (2) two weeks, (3) 1 month, (4) 3 months, (5) 6 months, (6) teeth, (7) 9 months, and finally (8) 1 year. From there, we weaned slowly as my baby was ready.

Since breastfeeding can be a different experience for everyone, I’d love to hear any tips you have to share as well. Just leave a comment above!


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