Archive for the ‘Year One’ Category

Thanks for the diapers, Jess! {Honest Company Diaper Review}

Our first son was cloth diapered 90% of the time. I LOVED it! I loved making my diaper “stash” and especially enjoyed getting “fluffy mail” when I would order another one or two to the stash. I would hang them on the line outside to dry. It felt so good ya know? Leaving such a small footprint on the earth and all…

Then our second son arrived.

He is 9 months old and has yet to wear a cloth diaper. DOH! Crunchy mutha FAIL! Ah well. I beat myself up over plenty of other things, so I’m going to just let this one go. Besides, we are happy with our compromise from Jessica Alba.

There is a tie for why I love them.
1) They are “healthier” diapers and earth-friendly
1) They are automatically shipped to my front door
2) CUTE designs!
3) Even the inside of the delivery box is cute for crying out loud
4) If you recommend them to a friend and the friend gives them a whirl, you get a $20 credit! How nice!!
5) No leaks! Ok, occasional leaks with the 2 year old and only overnight.

The hubbs had been running to get diapers when I said we were low (read:out) and having them just come right to us every month is really quite fab.

We do have to weigh the boys in each month to see where they need a different size, but somehow that seems like a fair trade.

If you want to give them a try, we would LOVE if you used this invitation: http://honest.com//accept_invitation/46519

Happy diapering!

Why Delay Solids Until At Least 6 Months?

Unfortunately, many health care providers are not up to date on this. (Here is another example of why to not blindly trust your doctor since they may not be up to date!) There has been a large amount of research on this in the recent past, and most health organizations have updated their recommendations to agree with current research. The World Health Organization, UNICEF, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and Health Canada all recommend that all babies be exclusively breastfed (no cereal, juice or any other foods) for the first 6 months of life (not the first 4-6 months).

Although some of the reasons listed here assume that your baby is breastfed or fed breastmilk only, experts recommend that solids be delayed for formula fed babies also.

Delaying solids gives baby greater protection from illness.
Although babies continue to receive many immunities from breastmilk for as long as they nurse, the greatest immunity occurs while a baby is exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk contains 50+ known immune factors, and probably many more that are still unknown. One study has shown that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 4+ months had 40% fewer ear infections than breastfed babies whose diets were supplemented with other foods. The probability of respiratory illness occurring at any time during childhood is significantly reduced if the child is fed exclusively breast milk for at least 15 weeks and no solid foods are introduced during this time. (Wilson, 1998) Many other studies have also linked the degree of exclusivity of breastfeeding to enhanced health benefits (see Immune factors in human milk).

Delaying solids gives baby’s digestive system time to mature.
If solids are started before a baby’s system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Protein digestion is incomplete in infancy. Gastric acid and pepsin are secreted at birth and increase toward adult values over the following 3 to 4 months. The pancreatic enzyme amylase does not reach adequate levels for digestion of starches until around 6 months, and carbohydrate enzymes such as maltase, isomaltase, and sucrase do not reach adult levels until around 7 months. Young infants also have low levels of lipase and bile salts, so fat digestion does not reach adult levels until 6-9 months.

Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies.
It is well documented that prolonged exclusive breastfeeding results in a lower incidence of food allergies (see Allergy References). From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an “open gut.”

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This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream.This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby’s bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby’s first 4-6 months, while the gut is still “open,” antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby’s digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also. See How Breast Milk Protects Newborns and The Case for the Virgin Gut for more on this subject.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from iron-deficiency anemia.
The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby’s iron absorption. Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores. In one study (Pisacane, 1995), the researchers concluded that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months (and were not give iron supplements or iron-fortified cereals) had significantly higher hemoglobin levels at one year than breastfed babies who received solid foods earlier than seven months. The researchers found no cases of anemia within the first year in babies breastfed exclusively for seven months and concluded that breastfeeding exclusively for seven months reduces the risk of anemia. See Is Iron-Supplementation Necessary? for more information.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.
The early introduction of solids is associated with increased body fat and weight in childhood. (for example, see Wilson 1998, von Kries 1999, Kalies 2005)

Delaying solids makes starting solids easier.
Babies who start solids later can feed themselves and are not as likely to have allergic reactions to foods.

(Source: http://kellymom.com/nutrition/starting-solids/delay-solids/)

It’s cheaper too, which is a nice perk. We didn’t buy one jar of baby food because I exclusively nursed our first until close to seven months and by then he was old enough to feed himself spears of avocado, pear, etc. (“baby-led weaning“) which were things we already had because we eat them too! I went on to nurse him until he was 19 months and I think delaying solids was a huge reason for that.

Here’s some baby-led weaning in action!
Avocado spear:

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Sweet potato chunks gone before I could even get the picture:

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Healthy Baby Hip and Muscle Development

While jumparoos, walkers, and exersaucers can come in rather handy at times and baby carriers/wraps are ideal for deepening the parent-infant bond, be cautious of overuse and improper hip placement. It’s highly recommended to only use jumparoos, walkers, exersaucers and the like for 20 TOTAL minutes or less per day. Also when using baby carriers and wraps, as well as car seats, placements of baby’s legs/hips is vital.

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Here’s why (This is taken from a parenting forum where a pediatric physical therapist chimed in to the discussion):

“Saucers, jumpers, walkers, etc. do nothing to enhance development, and can actually delay the achievement of milestones by several weeks. Essentially, to give a quick summary, standing in a saucer is not the same as actively standing while say holding onto a couch. The muscles work in a different pattern that is less desirable. This has been backed up by EMG studies, where they read the electrical output of different muscles and look at the patterns in which they are activated. Babies in saucers tend to be pitched forward onto their toes, which isn’t a normal posture and can theoretically lead to tip toe walking down the road (an abnormal gait pattern). Their abdominal muscles aren’t activeley engaged like they would be while actively standing. Their gluteal (butt) muscles aren’t engaged the same way they would be while standing on their own. This allows them to stand with a sway-backed posture that isn’t particularly healthy.

There have been excellent twin studies showing that even in typically-developing kids, the twin that used a walker walked on average 6 weeks later than the non walker using twin. Most therapists would say this can be applied to saucer use as well. Studies have shown saucers to delay sitting, crawling and walking milestones. Many parents will say their child used a saucer and walked early, but that isn’t really a fair assessment, as their child may have walked even earlier if they *didn’t* use one.

In a typically developing kid, it is less of a concern than a child at risk of delays (preemies, low muscle tone, etc.) However, not all parents know if their child is delayed or at risk of delays either.

The recommendation of most pediatric PTs I’ve known is to limit their use entirely if you can. If you insist on using one, don’t use it for more than 20 mins a day, and be aware of how fast that time adds up (10 mins while you shower, 10 mins during a phone call, 30 mins while you make dinner, 10 mins while you clean up, 5 mins while you go to the bathroom…). It adds up more quickly than people realize. Also if the child shows any signs of fatigue (slouching over, slumping, leaning to one side) they should be removed before 20 mins total, and hopefully beforehand.

I know mamas need to shower and do things around the house…I can sympathize, believe me. Just keep in mind saucers are all marketing, and there is no real benefit to be had from your child using them. The manufacturers make parents feel like they really enhance development, when the opposite is true. The best “tool” for helping a child develop motor skills is floor time…supervised tummy time, just playing on the floor w/ your baby. If you need to contain them for safety, a playpen still allows them to practice their motor skills without getting into trouble if you are in the shower and can’t supervise, for example.”

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute says:

“The most unhealthy position for the hips during infancy is when the legs are held in extension with the hips and knees straight and the legs brought together, which is the opposite of the fetal position. The risk to the hips is greater when this unhealthy position is maintained for a long time. Healthy hip positioning avoids positions that may cause or contribute to development of hip dysplasia or dislocation. The healthiest position for the hips is for the hips to fall or spread (naturally) apart to the side, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. This position has been called the jockey position, straddle position, frog position, spread-squat position or human position. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development.

Some types of baby carriers and other equipment may interfere with healthy hip positioning. Such devices include but are not limited to baby carriers, slings, wraps, pouches, car seats, exercisers, rockers, jumpers, swings, bouncers and walkers, and molded seating items. These devices could inadvertently place hips in an unhealthy position, especially when used for extended periods of time. Any device that restrains a baby’s legs in an unhealthy position should be considered a potential risk for abnormal hip development. It is also important to assess the size of the baby and match the device and carrier to the size of the child so that the hips can be in a healthy position during transport. Parents are advised to research the general safety and risks of any device they wish to use. When in doubt, we recommend involving your primary health-care provider in any further decision-making that may be medically relevant.”

They also share some very helpful graphics, including a common incorrect way to wear baby:

Incorrect

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This is often called the “crotch dangle” and it is not good for baby’s hips as you see here:

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Correct

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Baby is supported all the way to the knee.

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They also show helpful pictures on car seats and ring slings.

Happy safe bouncing, saucering and wearing!

Got Milk?

When I first learned I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It just made sense to me. As I learned more about it through our childbirth class I became fascinated with it.

One of the most amazing things I learned is the physical interaction between breast tissue and baby’s mouth. To this day I find this completely awesome. When you nurse your baby about a zillion things are happening through that priceless skin to skin contact. Perhaps the coolest is the interaction that takes place with the actual physical contact between tissues. There is an exchange of information about what the baby needs more or less of nutritionally. So the next time they nurse they have more and less of what they need. Your milk is designer milk! It is tailored to your baby’s needs throughout the day. Fascinating, yes? Yes!

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I am always curious about the facts about anything and it turns out that there is an excellent source for these particular facts, “Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries” (April 2007) and it was prepared by a team of investigators at the Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center in Boston. They “screened over 9,000 abstracts. Forty-three primary studies on infant health outcomes, 43 primary studies on maternal health outcomes, and 29 systematic reviews or metaanalyses that covered approximately 400 individual studies were included in this review.”

Since this study is about health outcomes in developed countries, the claims that breast is only best if you don’t have access to clean water or enough money to buy formula can be confidently refuted.

Here is a summary of the scientific facts determined about breastfeeding:

Benefits for baby:
There are a number of health benefits to the breastfed child, some of them are significant and others are less significant. For full term infants the benefits include:

Acute otitis media (middle ear infections): Babies that were ever breastfed had a 23 percent lower incidence of acute otitis media than exclusively formula fed babies.
Atopic dermatitis (type of eczema): In families with a history of atopy, exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3 months was found to have a 42 percent reduction in atopic dermatitis compared with breastfeeding for less than 3 months.
Gastrointestinal infections: Infants who were breastfeeding had a 64 percent reduction in the risk of non-specific gastroenteritis compared with infants who were not breastfeeding.
Lower respiratory tract diseases: There is a 72 percent reduction in the risk of hospitalization due to lower respiratory tract diseases in infants less than 1 year of age who were exclusively breastfed for 4 months or more.
Asthma: Breastfeeding for at least 3 months was associated with a 27 percent reduction in the risk of asthma for those without a family history of asthma and a 40 percent reduction for those with a family history of asthma.
Type 1 Diabetes: Breastfeeding for at least 3 months results in between a 19 and 27 percent reduction in incidence of childhood Type 1 Diabetes compared with breastfeeding for less than 3 months (findings confirmed through multiple studies, but some cause for caution in interpreting results).
Type 2 Diabetes: Found a 39 percent reduction in risk of Type 2 diabetes later in life for people that were breastfed as infants (some cause for caution in interpreting results).
Childhood Leukemia: Breastfeeding for at least 6 months associated with 19 percent decrease in risk of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia and a 15 percent decrease in the risk of acute myelogenous leukemia.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The meta-analysis found that breastfeeding was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS compared to not breastfeeding. Another study completed since the meta-anlaysis was done found a 50 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS as a result of breastfeeding.

It turns out that IQ, obesity and risk of cardiovascular disease can’t be solely connected to breastfeeding, other factors seem to contribute.

Benefits for mom:
Let’s not forget that breastfeeding benefits the mother as well. Women that are having trouble breastfeeding and considering giving up should think about not only their child’s health, but also their own health and weigh the short-term issues they are having with breastfeeding against the longer term potential health benefits:

Maternal type 2 diabetes: In women with no history of gestational diabetes, each additional year of breastfeeding resulted in a 4 to 12 percent reduction in the risk of maternal type 2 diabetes (only nurses included in these studies though, so interpreting results for general population must be done with care).
Breast cancer: A reduction of risk of contracting breast cancer of 4.3 percent for each year of breastfeeding (one study) or 28 percent for 12 or more months of breastfeeding (another study).
Ovarian cancer: Breastfeeding results in a 21 percent decrease in the risk of ovarian cancer.

Weight-loss, osteoporosis and PPD haven’t been scientifically proven to be a benefit of breast-feeding.

There are some people who say there no or very few benefits to breastfeeding. After you consider the source, ask what information they have to back up that claim. If they reference Hanna Rosin’s “The Case Against Breastfeeding” then know that she only read a select few studies on breastfeeding, in particular those that would support her claim that perhaps the benefits were few and far between. Then point them to “Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries” and tell them to call you when they’re done with it and you talk.
(Source: PhD in Parenting)

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However…

I find it important to point out that not everyone can breastfeed. Sometimes the milk just doesn’t come in, at no fault of the mother. Medical issues can also interfere. I recommend all mothers struggling to nurse get plugged to a support group like La Leche League as well as contact a lactation consultant if things just aren’t improving. I heard from someone in our Attachment Parenting group that the lactation consultant she called came to the house and didn’t leave until things were going smoother. Also, never underestimate yourself or your drive to nurse. I have a friend who’s twins were in the NICU and had feeding tubes. This determined mama rented the best of all breast pumps and those babies got nothing but her milk through those tubes. Go mama!

And don’t forget, breastfeeding is cool!!

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If you are having pain from nursing, as well as plugging in to a support group (this helps above all else in my opinion) check to see if your little one has a tongue tie or an upper lip tie. These are not automatically checked at the hospital or by a midwife. If you live in the Midwest, go to Dr. Margolis in Buffalo Grove, IL. He is one of two pediatric dentists in the country with Master Certification in laser dentistry. He fixed our second son’s upper lip tie and he was fantastic.

If you’re having a boy, have you thought about this?

Circumcision. This is one of those things that a lot of people just go ahead and do without thinking too much about it. We didn’t ask too many “why, really?” questions before making our partially informed decision. I’m very happy with our decision, but we were close to going the other route because we didn’t do enough research on it.

Therefore I wanted to share the best information I have found so far for anyone having a baby boy. This information is from a mom to be that found herself having a boy. She did a very good job researching the decision. She looked deeply into the reasons why “they” say it’s better to circumcise:

-better hygiene
-less chance for UTIs
-less chance for HIV/STDs
-needing to look like father/brother(s)
-less chance of penile cancer/HPV
-better to be done as an infant
-needing to fit in with his peers

It’s amazing what information you find when you ask questions and dig! To see her thorough findings, please go here. I also recommend reading some of the comments for some interesting perspectives.

Considering that “the majority of the males in the world are not circumcised. In fact, the United States is the only country to perform this procedure routinely for non-religious purposes.” (United States circumcision rates fell from 56% in 2006 to 32% in 2009. Bcheraoui, et al. 2010)
and that “there is not a single medical organization in the world who recommends circumcision- not even the American Academy of Pediatrics!”, this is worth looking into, right? Thats right, no national or international medical association recommends routine infant circumcision. For access to the actual position papers and guidelines of medical associations worldwide, go here.

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