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Health & Safety ’ Category
Monday, December 23rd, 2013
** Guest-edited by Kristen Kemp, yoga instructor
My last baby popped out 6 years ago, but I vividly remember the feeling that everything—my strength, energy, muscle tone and stamina—had been completely zapped. Where I was once able to run two miles up and down steep hills for exercise, all of a sudden, walking up and down the stairs to the laundry room was as strenuous as running a marathon. I reassured my latest yoga student—her adorable baby is 6 weeks old—to start slowly and steadily. All of our muscles remember what they used to do and luckily, our minds are even stronger than our bodies. We can think ourselves back into fitness.
I learned all of this at the amazing Yoga Journal Conference I attended in November. For yoga geeks, it was a dream come true. I spent two days in an intensive anatomy workshop with the brilliant celebrity teacher Jason Crandell. He taught me about muscles and bones—and how to make them strong. Another famous yogi, Kathryn Budig, taught arm balances (these are post-post natal moves you’ll love working up to). I did some crazy 8-point pose (see photo) where my arms were bent and my legs were parallel in the air about a foot off the ground. I thought, ‘I’ve come a long, long way since my kids were born.” I was so proud of myself. As Kathryn had said earlier, “getting stronger is amazing and empowering.”
For the holidays and New Year, I, of course, recommend yoga. In the wise words of the great teacher and sage Cyndi Lee, sometimes you have to put you first. “Take care of yourself so you can be a better mom, business partner, whatever. You can take better care of other people when you take care of yourself first. Only then will you have a little extra to give.”
If you’re interested, the next Yoga Journal Live conference is in San Fran on January 16 through 20. I’ll be at the YJ Live in New York City in April. Message me if you’ll be there, and we can meet up. I’ll definitely post new-mom moves I get from there, so stay tuned.
So go ahead and get started now. I’ve posted one of my favorite beginner videos by Jason. He’s a super-safe and inspiring teacher who offers this cool and relaxing 15-minute beginner yoga sequence. I’m taking this to my postnatal client on Friday.
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Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
Whether your child has an aversion to many foods due to sensory processing disorder (SPD) or is just plain picky, getting through those big holiday meals can be more stressful than joyful. I recently tuned into a picky eaters webinar by the SPD Foundation, and Dr. Kay Toomey, a pediatric psychologist with more than 30 years experience working with children with feeding problems, provided some great ways to help kids she categorizes as picky eaters (children who will only eat a limited number of foods) and problem feeders (kids who suffer from SPD and are extremely selective about what they will eat). Here are some of her tips for getting through—and enjoying!—the holidays:
- Talk about the holiday plans. Unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations can be overwhelming for kids and ultimately decrease their appetites. Before you travel or have extended family over, pull out the family photo album, have your child draw pictures of what she thinks the holiday meal will look like this year, or chat about the upcoming plans—anything that will give her a better idea of what to expect. This is also a good time to remind her about table manners such as using utensils, not interrupting, and saying excuse me.
- Serve the food ahead of time. Most family traditions are about eating specific foods (ham, latkes, turkeys, yams, elaborate desserts, etc.), many of which children may not encounter during any other time of the year. If an unfamiliar food appears in front them, chances are they’re not going to eat it and even seeing it on their plate can cause a great amount of stress, especially for problem feeders. Try making some of these foods throughout the year so by the time the holiday comes around, your child will know what they are and how they taste, making him more likely to eat them during special occasions.
- Prepare the meal together. If you’re doing any cooking for the holidays, have your child lend a helping hand in the kitchen. By letting him assist you, he experiences the smell and taste of the food without the pressure of having it on his plate. Toomey’s rule of thumb when it comes to cooking with the kids: 3- to 4-years-olds should be able to help you stir, open a package, or do a simple task to assist; 5-year-olds should be able to abide by safety rules and help cook a family meal once a week; and 7-year-olds should be cooking with you twice a week, actively preparing some portion of the meal.
- Minimize changes in his routine. Getting off schedule when away from home is disruptive to children’s sleep patterns and appetite, so the less changes in their daily routine, the better. Try to serve your child meals and snacks at the usual time and resist the urge to let him stay up past his set bedtime.
- Feed her before the main holiday meal. You can’t expect picky eaters or problem feeders to mind their manners and try new foods during a holiday meal. They realistically will only be able to do one or the other, so you’ll have to decide which is more important to you. It’s helpful to put something in their bellies beforehand so they’re not starving at the dinner table and so there’s less pressure for them to eat what is offered. This way they’ll be able to concentrate more on participating in the conversation and bonding with family, less on stressing over the fact that they’re hungry and have to eat unfamiliar foods. Remember: it’s more important they’re at the table and a part of the celebration than whether they’re eating what everyone else is.
- Add one food they are sure to eat to the table. Even if children eat beforehand as recommended, you still want them to come to the table and participate in the meal as much as possible. To help them feel included, bring one food you know they’ll nibble on—even if it’s as simple as a roll, apple slices, or crackers. If they do happen to try something new on their own, don’t make a big deal out of it. You can mention something to them afterward or quietly at the table, but you don’t want to embarrass them in front of the family. And if they don’t eat at all, that’s also okay, as long as it is an option.
- Bring something familiar from home he’s used to eating with or on. His favorite utensil, placemat, or cup can serve as a reminder of how he normally eats at home and cue the same eating habits in an unfamiliar place.
- Create a secret signal. It’s a good idea to come up with a way for your child to let you know if she is getting overwhelmed during the meal and needs a break. You can give her a small card to hold up or establish a simple tap on the arm or leg to signal it’s time for a breather. This can also go the other way and you can signal to let her know she’s excused before a pleasant situation turns sour.
- Control and limit the sweets. This can be difficult because those Christmas cookies and Hanukkah chocolates are a large part of the holiday, but it’s important to stand your ground. Not only does sugar cut down kids’ 20-minute appetite window to only 10 minutes, it also suppresses their appetite for substantial food and leads to cravings for more sweets. Aim for one sugary treat a day, and make sure they know to ask permission beforehand—they can’t just raid grandma’s cookie jar at their leisure.
- Mask the scent. The smell of food can be too much for problem feeders, so it’s best to lessen it as much as possible. Try placing an isolating fan in the room where you’re having the main holiday meal. Or ask family members if they can open some windows while they cook so the smell isn’t completely permeating the house.
Image: Thanksgiving dinner via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Every October people are swept up in a sea of pink and inundated with mammogram reminders as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month efforts. And for good reason: More than 232,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in women every year, and more than 39,000 women die of breast cancer every year, according to U.S. data from the American Cancer Society. But all of the talk leaves many people with later stages of breast cancer out of the conversation. When the focus is on taking preventative measures, those who have long since been diagnosed with breast cancer need their own outlet from which to gain strength and receive support.
Fortunately, there are options for breast cancer patients who no longer benefit from early detection and prevention campaigns. The pharmaceutical company Novartis is one organization working to fill this void in the cancer awareness sphere with its Count Us, Know Us, Join Us support network. As stated on its site, the initiative recognizes that “this is a community that has different physical and emotional needs from those in earlier stages of breast cancer.” Novartis has partnered with a number of advocacy groups to give those living with breast cancer and their loved ones a voice.
With Count Us, Know Us, Join Us, patients with advanced breast cancer can find information on treatment, support, and how to get involved with a thriving community of people living with advanced breast cancer. And as a symbolic gesture, patients can add their name to the virtual list of members and show that they are indeed being counted.
Breast cancer is a complex experience that affects each patient in a vastly different way. Just as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, there’s no uniform way of connecting with survivors. Count Us, Know Us, Join Us is a reminder of how we each need personal support that is loving and meaningful to us.
Image via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 14th, 2013
Aden + Anais, best known for its adorable muslin baby blankets, is now giving away 10 of its muslin “sleeping bags,” or wearable blankets. These are a safe way to keep your baby warm while sleeping without using a loose blanket, which poses a suffocation risk; avoiding them in cribs is an important part of reducing the risk of SIDS. The company is running this giveaway now because October is SIDS Awareness Month, when advocates work especially hard to increase the awareness of SIDS as well as the importance of safe sleep habits for babies. Among those advocates are the CJ Foundation for SIDS, a nonprofit which has provided millions of dollars for SIDS research initiatives, support service grants, public education, and awareness campaigns since 1994. In fact, a portion of the sales of all Aden + Anais sleeping bags go directly to the CJ Foundation.
To enter the giveaway, visit Aden + Anais on Facebook. (Scroll down a bit to find the latest post about the contest.) Good luck!
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Monday, October 7th, 2013
This week (October 6 through 12) is National Fire Prevention Week, an imperative time to talk about and practice safety measures with your kids. Keep both your home and family safe: use these tips from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and LEGO City to start a conversation with your child about emergencies.
1. Be Prepared with Necessary Tools
It is critical to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month. According to Joe Molis, a member of NFPA’s Fire Analysis Research Division, two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes with non-working or no smoke detectors. He recommends replacing batteries twice each year: at the start and end of daylight savings time, which that act as helpful reminders for this essential task.
2. Make An Evacuation Plan
Talk to your child about exit points in every room, asking her to identify doors, windows, and clear paths to safety. A toy like a dollhouse or a structure built from LEGOs can be useful tools, suggests Molis, a father of three and active lieutenant of the Providence Fire Department in Rhode Island. “This way, children are engaged while their parents direct the discussion,” he says.
3. Mark a Meeting Point
Every evacuation procedure should include a safe spot to gather (a neighbor’s porch, a lamppost or tree across the street), so that your family can respond quickly to an emergency and stay all together.
4. Run the Drill
Be sure to act out emergency escape plans at home two times every year. “It’s one thing to talk about evacuation, but it’s another when you role-play and practice,” Molis says. This helps remind children of their family’s specific plan, and builds their confidence to respond to emergency situations. It also instills the importance of keeping exits clear of obstacles. Running the drill is vital, but if you are ever faced with a house fire, Molis stresses: “The most important thing is to get out and stay out. Make sure everyone is accounted for, and then call 911.”
5. Lead the Way
Practice daily safety measures in front of your children: never leave pans cooking on the stove unattended, store matches and lighters out of litte ones’ reach, and ensure that appliances are clean and functioning properly.
6. Check It Out
Download a fire safety checklist at Sparky.org and use it to inspect your home as a family. Walk through each room and check off the safety measures you are following. If something is potentially dangerous, remedy the problem. “The checklist is incredibly important,” Molis says. “It helps make sure your dryer vents are clean, electrical cords aren’t damanges, escape routes are clear, and heat sources are away from flammable items.”
To learn more about National Fire Prevention Week, visit NFPA.org.
For more tips on teaching and practicing fire safety, visit the following Parents.com resources:
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Health & Safety, News
Friday, October 4th, 2013
Flu season is approaching, but that won’t stop Tia Mowry. Parents chatted with her upon the launch of a new flu vaccine and she shared tips for dealing with a sick baby, having a different parenting style than her twin, Tamera, and she let us help her cement her upcoming Halloween plans!
P: What makes you so passionate about this health issue in particular?
TM: I’m a busy mom. I’m always on the go. I’m an entrepreneuer, I’m a wife, I’m a sister, I’m a working mom, but my family’s health is my number one priority and my health is my number one priority. To be honest with you I never realized the importance of the flu vaccination, but after really understanding how the flu can take a huge toll on the entire family—because we all know once a mom is down or sick it’s instant chaos—I realized that it was really important to make sure that flu vaccinations were a part of my family’s annual routine.
P: What would you say to the mom who is nervous about vaccinating her child?
TM: When we think about vaccinations, we think about needles. Needles aren’t, I don’t think, anyone’s best friend. That creates a sense of fear when it comes to vaccinations. One thing I love about FluMist Quadrivalent: it’s needle-free. You know you’re not going to have a crying child leave the pediatrician’s office, which is a plus. (Editor’s note: The flu mist is for children ages 2 and up.) The other thing is, it’s FDA-approved, and when I know things have been FDA-approved I feel ok about that. I want to protect my child in the best way that I possibly can.
P: When Cree does get sick, what are your non-medicine ways to help him feel better?
TM: The first thing that I do when my son gets sick is give him extra extra extra love and extra attention. Kids get scared. They don’t know what’s going on with their bodies and things are happening that doesn’t normally happen, they’re sneezing, they’re coughing and they get scared. Just to support them in a way that they feel comfortable, whether that’s letting them sleep with you, taking a nap with them, doing soft gentle things with them, I think is beneficial.
The other thing is: Vick’s has always been huge in my family. It just helps. I actually put Vicks on the bottom of his feet, it helps with coughs and it really really works. Instead of just applying it on the chest or the back, I apply it on his feet and put little socks over. Then I get a humidifier going and he’s fine.
P: Speaking of mom advice, you came out with your book of pregnancy tales and advice last year. What is the single most valuable piece of advice you want pregnant moms to know?
TM: The most difficult thing for me was worrying that everything would be okay. The best thing that I could say is “just relax.” I know it’s easier said than done and I’ve been through it already, but the more relaxed you are the better it will be for you and the baby. Don’t get on the internet and try to look at every wrong possible scenario that could happen. And sleep while you can. Everybody would tell me this, but I would not listen. Make sure you get as much sleep as you possibly can because when you become a mom—sleep, what? There is no such thing as sleep.
For moms in general, follow your instincts. I believe we have been born to do this, to be moms. We’re natural nurturers, so trust your instincts. Go at your own pace. I never realized how much judgment comes with certain parenting styles. Do what’s best for you and your family and that’s ok. If you are an attachment parent and you have the type of style, that’s fine. If you’re not, that’s fine. Don’t judge other moms. I think that’s the worst thing you can do to any mom and any child. Whether it’s breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping. Every parent has their own journey.
P: Your sister, Tamera, is also a new mom. Are your parenting styles similar or different?
TM: My sister and I have very different parenting styles. I’m definitely more of the attachment parent. I sleep with my son. I pay close attention to his emotional needs. If I could have breasfed until he was 2, I would have. I loved breastfeeding. That’s why we came out with Need Milky, because I was devastated that my milk dried up after three months. I’m not going to spank my child. I don’t believe in spanking. I was spanked as a child, so I have an interesting perspective about that. I do believe in setting boundaries. I think a child definitely has to understand their boundaries because when they go out in the real world not everything is going to go their way, but I don’t think that spanking is a form of discipline that works for everybody.
P: As twins and as co-stars you are so close, how do you deal with a clash about parenting styles?
TM: I’m going to be honest, that’s why I say “don’t be judgmental.” Sometimes I would think “Oh my gosh, are you judging me? Are you judging my parenting style? Do you think I’m not a good mom or a good parent because I’m co-sleeping with my child and you’re deciding not to?” We’ve realized that we have different lifestyles. There’s a reason why I do what I do. I work a lot. When I’m gone from my child, to then be able to sleep with him and to be able to feel his hand on my face and to hear him go “Muhmuh” in the middle of the night it melts my heart. Whereas, Tamera, she’s more at home so maybe she wants to have a little break. What helped us with that clash is not judging one another. We do what we do because it’s what’s best for our families, not that we believe one is the right way or the wrong way of parenting.
P: It’s interesting because obviously you came from the same family, but have very different interpretations of the events that you both experienced and how that translates to your sons.
TM: It shows how your children are watching. My sister’s way of parenting is very close to my mom’s way of parenting, whereas I’m like the free one. I’m the free bird. I like to try different approaches and have a mind of my own in a way. So I say, “Ok that worked for you, but I see it differently.” It’s interesting when you have your mom saying, “Honey, why does your 2-year-old still have a bottle.” And I say, “If he wants to have a bottle—this is what I mean by listening to him emotionally—he can have a bottle.” I know he’s not going to be 9 years old with a bottle, so if he wants to suck a bottle right now and that’s bringing him comfort, that’s fine. I trust my child in his development.
P: Speaking of age and developmental milestones, I know that Cree is 2. What is your favorite thing about this age?
TM: My favorite thing about this age is that I can now communicate with my child. I can kind of understand what he’s saying. There’s a lot of babbling. I love the way when I’m driving and we’ve been in the car for about an hour and he wants Mommy’s attention he says “hand, hand, hand” and I can reach back and give him my hand. I like the way I’m able to understand him more, he’s able to understand me more. I like the way he’s able to have his own point of view now or his own interests. He likes Curious George. He likes Thomas the Train. He was not too fond about the Chica show. That’s fine. I like that. Little bits of his personality are coming out.
P: Now that he’s vaccinated and there is no fear of going out and catching the flu, what is your favorite autumn and winter activities that you’re looking forward to sharing with Cree?
TM: My son loves being outside. He’s living up to his name, Cree, after a tribe of Native Americans who were warriors who would travel around the world. He always wants to go out and about. We love going to The Grove in L.A. For winter there is Santa Claus and there’s this big huge tree and he gets to meet Santa Claus, so that’s what I’m looking forward to. I also just got him a new wardrobe at Zara. I love ZaraKids. He’s looking like a little Jay-Z, he has on these puffy bubble jackets with these cool corduroy pants and boots. I can’t wait to dress him in fun fall clothes.
P: Speaking of dressing up, Halloween is upon us. Do you have a costume planned for him?
TM: I have to tell this story. I was working last year for Halloween, I was doing Baggage Claim. My husband took my son around the block for Halloween. My husband dressed as Mario and my son was dressed as a frog. It was so cute. For the other one he was a boxer—I had to get him more than one because it was his first Halloween. This year I think I want to be a Geisha with the whole makeup, but I don’t know what Cree could be.
P: Maybe a little sushi roll?
TM: Oh that’s such a good idea! That is so cute. And then what should my husband be? A samurai!
P: Will he go trick-or-treating with his cousin or is Tamera’s Aden too young?
TM: He will be dressed up and I think that will be great. I’m thinking about having a huge Halloween party at my house and having all cool punches and desserts and food that’s very Halloween-themed. That’s what I want to do.
P: I know that Instant Mom is coming up. Is your character’s mothering anything like what it is with Cree, or maybe when Cree gets older?
TM: I think where Stephanie Phillips’ parenting skills are right now is kind of like how I was when I first had Cree. When you’re a new mom, you’re a fish out of water. You don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s trial and error basically. You can read all these books and get advice, but you kind of have to go through the experience yourself. So it reminds me of that, when I was a new mom. People would say that I’m a fun mom and I’m a hot mama and Stephanie is that. She is a hot, fun mom. She definitely has not lost who she is and her essence as a woman now that she’s become a mom and that’s how I am. But I add a lot of my own personality to my character, that she is just a lot of fun but when it comes down to discipline she’s serious with the kids. She feels “I know I’m your mom and you want me to be your friend, but at the same time I’m the mom.” But for me, my goal is to be the best mom I can possibly be.
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Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Sarah Chalke had a gut feeling something was seriously wrong with her son Charlie. The 2-year-old was covered in red rashes and had a fever for days. At night he was restless, arching his back and crying. Chalke went from doctor to doctor, one wrong diagnosis after another. But it was only when she took matters into her own hands by researching her son’s symptoms and consulting a specialist that she found an answer: Kawasaki disease.
The little-known childhood inflammatory disease was the cause of Charlie’s redness on his body and his lips, which turned so bright he looked like he was wearing lipstick. His blood vessels were inflamed and his joints ached. By the time Chalke carried Charlie’s limp body to the emergency room, it was obvious that he was in danger.
“I’d never seen a baby that sick,” Chalke says. And she hopes it’s something no parent will ever have to experience.
Now the actress is at the helm of a Crowdrise fundraiser for a diagnostic test prototype for Kawasaki disease. Doctors at Stanford University and University of California San Diego are getting closer to developing a test that could be 95% accurate. But first, it requires the time and funding to refine it for mainstream use.
“It would be a really big deal if this diagnostic test was in doctors’ hands,” Chalke says. “It would mean that kids would not go misdiagnosed. It would take a lot of the guessing out of Kawasaki disease. It would have meant our son would be treated a lot sooner.”
Diagnosing the disease is tricky because it presents a collection of symptoms, Chalke explains, which often leads many doctors to believe that the sick child has a completely different ailment than Kawasaki disease. The guessing creates a lot of confusion and wasted time.
“The waiting time is excruciating from when you get the diagnosis to when you get the treatment, and then when you find out if the heart is OK,” Chalke says.
What’s worse is that the disease is like a “ticking clock,” as Chalke describes, and treatment must occur within a small window of about only 10 days. And as the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children, Kawasaki disease makes the urgency of an accurate diagnosis all the more important.
Fortunately, Charlie was diagnosed close enough to the crucial period of time that he got the help he needed, and is doing well today. Now 3 and a half years old, he is healthy and happy, says Chalke, and makes her laugh all the time. He also hasn’t suffered coronary aneurysms or heart attacks, like some children with Kawasaki disease do.
“I don’t really think there’s a day that it doesn’t strike me we’re so lucky he’s OK,” Chalke says.
Because of Chalke’s research and unyielding search for a proper diagnosis, Charlie survived. If you suspect your child has Kawasaki disease, Chalke says to be vigilant about getting a diagnosis. She was grateful for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation’s website, which confirmed her instincts that Charlie had the disease, and she let Charlie’s doctor know her concerns.
“If a parent is worried that their kid is really sick the first step is to bring it up to your doctor,” Chalke says. She also encourages taking pictures of your child to show to the doctor and writing all symptoms down. And if the first doctor isn’t receptive, try again, and seek out an infectious disease specialist if necessary.
“I have huge respect for doctors,” Chalke says. “We’ve had some incredible care for Charlie, but I really do feel like you do need to advocate for yourself and for your kids.”
With her campaign for a Kawasaki disease diagnostic test, Chalke is speaking out for all parents who are looking for much-needed answers.
Image via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
You probably know that infants should snooze about 14 to 15 hours total (nighttime rest plus naps) every 24 hours. So why does it feel like your sweetie is always awake? Or the minute her sleepy head hits the crib, she pops her eyes wide open? Because making sure your infant gets good zzz’s takes a lot of hard work, time and practice!
We’d love for you to share your thoughts and opinions with us about all things sleep-related for babies from birth to age one.
Please take a moment to complete our short survey. You can also enter to win a Babies “R” Us gift card. And who couldn’t use a little cash for baby gear?! But hurry! This survey and sweepstakes ends October 4.
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