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September is National Baby Safety Month

Pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene’s tips on Chemicals and Household Toxins

There are about 80,000 chemicals in the marketplace today – more than enough to make parents who are concerned about chemicals pull out their hair. Simplify and pay attention to just 3 ways your child might be exposed.

1) What goes in the mouth. Choose clean food and drinks, and pay special attention to the plastics that go in the mouth, especially those used to store, heat, or serve food and drinks. Chemicals in the plastics can leach out and enter your child. Notice the recycling symbols on the bottoms of many plastics. Opt for symbols 1, 2, 4, or 5. Or choose brands like BornFree, where the entire line of toddler sippy cups, pacifiers, baby bottles and plastic water bottles are free from BPA, phthalates and PVC. Or skip plastic, and go with something like glass or stainless steel.

2) What goes on the skin. Chemicals in lotions and creams can be absorbed through the skin. We read the ingredients on food; it’s time to learn to read ingredient lists on skin products as well, and choose those you trust. Sunscreen is a great place to start. I prefer sunscreens that rely on minerals, like zinc or titanium, rather than relying on chemicals that might act as hormones in the body.

3) What goes in the nose. Clean air may seem overwhelming. After all, you don’t have much control over other people’s exhaust pipes and smokestacks. But the air that matters most is the air in your own home, where your child sleeps at night. Indoor air is usually more polluted than outdoor air, so you can often make a big difference just by opening the windows. Replace cleaning products that have harsh fumes or artificial fragrances (anything that says, “Use in a Well-Ventilated Space” probably isn’t good for your child). And you might consider houseplants or an air filter to help clean your air.

Dr. Greene is the author of Raising Baby Green, Feeding Baby Green, and is a consulting pediatrician for BornFree.

The Penalty Box

During our 18 month check up, the doctor asked if I had any questions. I basically had only one, do you have any advice on discipline? He gave a slight chuckle and basically shared a few pieces of advice that he has learned over the years. The plan when dealing with a crazy toddler was pretty simple in theory if not in practice. It is all about distraction, distraction, and distraction. He suggested using the loud sharp, No, only for real scary situations such as when he is about to stick a fork in an electrical outlet. If he is just being mischievous use different warnings because after awhile the No would just become white noise. And if all this should fail to calm the beast? The so-called Time Out works with toddlers in the sense that it takes them out of the action. Of course it is also pretty much a Time Out for you, as you have to make sure they stay in one place. I have found the playpen makes a pretty nice temporary baby jail as most people don’t have access to Alcatraz.

However, the doctor’s most important advice came when we hit upon the subject of the dreaded temper tantrum, the kind that are sprinkled with a mix of kicking and screaming on top. The best tactic is to lose the battle but win the war. The toddler can scream and flip out longer than you can, in other words, you can’t match him at his level. You have to go on defense by excusing yourself to another location and calming yourself down or in his words doing a primal scream into a pillow. Once refreshed and hydrated you are ready to deal with the little guy for round two. So in the end like everything else in life it is important to just breathe.

I Say, Hats Off to You Sir and Good Day

As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know LTD is always picking up new patterns of behavior with great side effects ranging from frustrating to funny. His latest falls into the first category, frustrating. It seems the little guy doesn’t care to wear his hat when outside to protect his dome from the harmful rays of the punishing sun. Most of the time he wins the battle because we aren’t really in the sun all that long and I try and fight the battles I can win. However, when we are walking the dog or at a playground the back and forth begins. Walking the dog is especially fun since he is in the backpack and when his hats hits the ground it forces me to make some hard decisions. I’ve tried to get the hat back on his melon without taking him down from the backpack and I’m not gonna lie and play the hero, I can’t do it. Which leaves me with the choice of either stopping and fixing everything and hope the dog doesn’t see a squirrel in the process or admitting defeat and trying to stay in the shade. Oh, and I know what you’re thinking, why not use the velco strap? Well, the kid loves Velcro so much he rubs it against his tongue before he whips the hat to the ground. The only real question is, do they make motorcycle helmets that will fit a 16 month old?

Would You Mind Turning Off the Hose?

As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know all to well, LTD is not in daycare. His lack of exposure to other kids on a daily basis has resulted in him never really being sick. The streak is over. Or I should say, the streak of him not getting a cold is over and the streak of stuff coming out of his nose has begun. Thankfully, this all happened a few weeks ago and now that he has recovered I am able to speak about the traumatic things I’ve seen for the first time.

The first sign of trouble was when LTD started have coughing fits, sounding hoarse and running a slight fever. He was also not exhibiting good behavioral control like he normally does. It was clear to The Mommy and me that he was not feeling 100 percent. Thanks to our awesome pediatrician’s office having walk in hours, I took the little guy in for a quick check up. We didn’t wait all that long and after listening in the doc determined that it was either croup (or as I call it kennel cough) or a cold, but nothing serious. He told me to watch and see for the next day to see what developed. Well, it turns out he did in fact have a cold as his cough went away and the mucous started. LTD soon looked liked every sick baby cliché in the book. We are talking gross. The doc told us to use Tylenol for the fever, engage the cool air humidifier and use the steam from a shower if necessary. Unfortunately, the cold’s symptoms and discomforted seemed to mostly manifest itself during the night which made for some tired days. All in all it could have been worse with LTD feeling better after a few days even if his nose ran like it was getting paid to make mucous. The Mommy and I have survived the first real cold and assume the little guy won’t get one again.

What do we do When we Get Home?

On certain days, like recently when LTD turned 14 months, The Mommy and I will reminisce about earlier moments from our parenthood journey. I was laughing about our last childbirth/Lamaze class. Our instructor was a mother of two, had been an ob/gyn nurse for over 20 years and was very nice. The class was great because she wanted us to practice the Lamaze breathing and lessons at home allowing her to teach more and us not to have watch each other breathing heavily. The Mommy and I learned a lot each class because our instructor was cool, experienced and realistic. She answered all our questions and gave us the straight poop about what to expect (pun intended).

At the last class, we finished up our lessons quickly and she opened the floor to questions. Everyone blew past childbirth and peppered her with questions about what to do when we go the kid home. We are talking rapid-fire crazy detail questions about every possible situation we could ever experience with a baby under our care for the first time. In fact, it didn’t take long for all the questions to become the one big question that was on all our minds, how do we not kill the kid and ourselves? Thankfully, our patient instructor talked us all down from the ledge. She calmly went through what would likely happen during the first few days. The one piece of advice that The Mommy and I found particularly helpful was her instruction to not have the baby sleep in the same room as us right from the jump. She told us that we simply would not be able to sleep because we would be startled awake every time the newborn made any one of the millions of newborn noises they make. Now that we are over a year in it really was funny to think about that last class and how crazy we must have sounded.

What do I Look Like an Elephant?

Year One Week nears its conclusion with perhaps the biggest new development resulting from LTD’s one year check up with the pediatrician. As our visit wound down the subject of food came up and he told us that, “all bets were off” in terms of what the little guy could now eat. Of course the one thing that he stressed was still a big no-no was peanuts. Don’t worry the kid can still play with Snoopy and the gang, what were talking about is the ballpark snack and soul mate of jelly. He added that we could introduce LTD to every other nut out there including filberts, because technically Peanuts aren’t nuts they are legumes.

Armed with our new eating orders life has changed for the family. It no longer is such a big deal to always pack food for the little guy as he can eat off of our plates. Of course that practice is easier said than done in terms of how much still ends up on the floor. We have stopped buying jars of baby food and started using a lot more containers to hold his chow in the fridge. Another interesting practice has cropped up with LTD spitting out foods that he has eaten and like already. For instance, sometimes he will eat a grilled cheese and other times out it goes and on to the floor. The Mommy and I try to analyze the phenomenon, but we have reached no conclusions, as it doesn’t seem to matter if he feeds himself or we put it in his pie hole for him. When it comes to feeding the little guy we have learned to only count on one thing. If I have Dairy Queen it must be shared.

Hey, Let’s Have a Little Less Moo and a Lot More Milk

Year One Week continues with a massive shout out and thank you to The Mommy. She officially finished breast-feeding LTD and despite the hassles of pumping during the workday made it to just shy of the one-year mark. No more nightly sterilizing the pump and no more defrosting frozen milk. So once again hats off to The Mommy may she have her body back in peace. At our one year check up the doc told us that we would be transitioning the little guy from breast to whole cow’s milk. Thankfully, that process went smoothly with LTD taking to whole milk with ease and joy.

Babies need whole milk for the fat and calories to meet their growing nutritional needs. We use organic whole milk for him and organic skim for us. The Mommy and feel the extra price is worth it because the hormones they put in milk can screw up growing bodies pretty good. Plus we don’t want the little guy to get big boobs and we certainly don’t want him to get them early. Truthfully, the jury is still out on the rule hormones play, but since the organic milk exists we choose to drink it at home exclusively. Out of the house, I’m sure DQ milkshakes use non-organic milk, but I am willing to have my bra size increase if it means having a delicious treat.

Jaws Part II

Welcome to Beyond the Car Seat’s Body Part Week. Today we turn our attention to the mouth. LTD has long used his mouth to explore and to vocalize loudly (especially in the library) and for the last few weeks he has been using his mouth to vent his frustrations. He has turned his gaping maw into a living weapon and focused his rage on my arm, the couch, the coffee table and just about anything else that gets in his way. That’s right, I’m talking about biting. LTD is growing up and getting in touch with his emotions unfortunately he is also getting in touch with his teeth and my pant leg.

It is interesting to watch why he bites as it is clearly not done out of malice, but true frustration. It’s not like conflict resolution is going to help here, he can’t just ‘use his words’. Thankfully, the little guy doesn’t do all the time and he seems to understand enough to stop when we make him. However, occasionally when I hold him and he is trying to be funny he will lean his head back, get a crazy look in his eye, open his mouth wide and drift forward to chew on my face. I guess they really are making every movie 3D these days.

Happy Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, I spoke with Christy Aune of Kids Konserve about the steps her company has taken to make the planet a better place to live.

“Kids Konserve empowers children and parents to do their part in saving the environment by challenging them to cut down on the waste created by school lunches, while teaching about the importance of reuse. The company was sparked by the amount of trash that was coming home from our preschooler’s lunch. We took what has been a family endeavor; reducing the amount of trash we put into the landfills, and made it a business that will help all families.

Kids Konserve creates awareness via our Waste-Free Lunch Challenge Fundraiser, Reusable Bottle Drive, and Green Your Classroom Party Pak Challenge and teaches about not creating waste. Many schools do not even recycle, and the amount of trash produced by one child’s lunch alone creates 67 pounds of landfill waste in a school year! Kids Konserve offers its reusable lunch products directly to families and also as a fundraising opportunity in schools.”

Kids Konserve is giving back even more this Earth Day with a 15% coupon code valid until April 30: “earth15”.

Product Review – Burt’s Bees Diaper Ointment

Last week, LTD had a particularly severe case of diaper rash. He usually doesn’t get diaper rash that much so this was especially troubling. The Mommy researched good treatments and discovered that Zinc Oxide is a great way to deal with wicked bad diaper rash. We turned to Burt’s Bees Diaper Ointment and with its help along with The Mommy’s hard work the rash went bye-bye. The only problem was that because the ointment has Zinc in it and is very hard-core it looks like and goes on like Marshmallow Fluff. I would also mention that once The Mommy used baby powder LTD’s bottom looked like something from the bakery on Ace of Cakes. So a word of caution then regarding the use of the ointment, be careful especially if you are using cloth diapers or wearing clothes.