Headline from Reuters yesterday: "Toddlers are less likely to have asthma and itchy rashes if their parents 'cleaned' their pacifiers by sucking on them when the kids were infants," Hmmmm interesting.
First reaction - EW!
Second reaction - Why? So, let's look into this...
The idea is that you are adding to the bacterial diversity in your baby's gut, helping them to grow stronger immune system. OK, sounds about right. Lots of people give probiotics to their kiddies and take 'em themselves for this reason. I've heard strong arguments that probiotics are especially important before/after vaccinations, and anytime an antibiotic is given. Another interesting tidbit from the article: babies born vaginally are exposed to tons of bacteria through that route and have fewer childhood allergies than c-section babies. Wow. and... EWWWW!
Anyway, the Swedish study showing less asthma and eczema in babies whose parents sucked their pacifiers was not exactly scientific. Groups weren't assigned. So it's not known if the effect is correlation (i.e. parents who suck their baby's pacifiers might also be doing something else that is the culprit of the difference in groups) or causation (i.e. it the actual sucking of the pacifier that makes the difference). My take on it is - if you want to, go for it. But probably better not to do it right after you have a peanut butter smoothie or an egg sandwich, in case your little one does have allergies to those.
And while we're discussing cleaning binkies...
Kenzo doesn't really take a pacifier. I mean, he'll take it, but pop it out of his mouth in all of 5 seconds. So we rarely use them. But did you know they make pacifier wipes? Many of my mommy friends are using these and I'm quite intrigued. They say "alcohol free, no harsh chemicals, food grade". But how safe are they reeeeaaaaalllllly?? My feeling is, if it's strong enough to clean something, how can it be safe for baby to pop right back in his or her mouth (Unless the cleanser is vinegar, but I don't think they baby would take a binky just doused in vinegar... hmmm... something to try with camera on the ready!!). I'm thinking they're meant to "clean" (i.e. take off surface dirt, not kill viruses and bacteria), or else they're probably not entirely safe for baby's mouth.
So I looked up the Munchkin Arm & Hammer Pacifier Wipes on Good Guide and it says this product "contains ingredients that raise a low level of health concern". One of the ingredients has been "restricted for use in cosmetics in Japan", and another ingredient is "suspected of causing skin or sense organ toxicity". Hmmm... Me thinks the safe bet here is to clip the pacifier onto your child and get one that has the cap that snaps over the nipple part when not being used, and have several clean backups with you at all times. And while you're at it, just go ahead and get a bubble to put your baby in. And a couple of portable air purifiers. And a virus sniffing dog. Hey, maybe he can suck on your baby's binky too, then he'll get LOADS of bacteria introduced to that gut of his ^_^
Get me out of this damn rabbit hole!!!!
With mother's day coming up, I thought I'd poll via Facebook and What to Expect fellow new moms who gave birth around the same time as me (Dec-Feb) to see what their take on the whole shabang is so far. I asked for them to describe the following 4 things in ONE WORD. Results were really fun for me to go through; most I could relate to, but some were pretty surprising. So without further ado...
For birth experience, my personal answer to this one was "empowering", which got classified under the "wonderful" category. A couple of interesting responses were: excruciating (obviously in the "painful" group, and I would have to agree!!), terrifying & traumatizing (in the "scary" group), blessed / perfect / amazing (in the "wonderful" group), and in the "other" group: hazy, unexpected, textbook, crazy, worth it, underwhelming, surreal, interesting, and disappointing.
For the start of breastfeeding, my personal response was frustrating (in the "tough" category). Two of the "painful" responses were horrendous and bloody - yikes! The most responses got grouped in the "tough" category, as I expected, and some were: impossible, challenging, heart-wrenching, heartbreaking, exhausting, stressful, and difficult. Of the "good" group, two lovely responses were natural and amazing.
With 63% responding that the start of breastfeeding was either tough or painful (probably both for many, as it was for me!), it's no wonder so many women give up. There really needs to be an increase in lactation support, ideally covered 100% by health insurance. I know I would have loved in-home support, but wasn't willing to pay the $200-$300 per visit that my midwife told me it would cost. Luckily Kenzo and I hung in there and everything resolved itself eventually!
For the breastfeeding now question, my personal response was surreal (in the "other" group). I was really sad to see what a high percentage responded that they are not breastfeeding - most were formula feeding but a few were pumping. But I talked about this in another post - I don't judge any mom about this whether it was her choice or not. I'm just sorry if it wasn't a choice and she wanted to breastfeed and couldn't for whatever reason. That's really heartbreaking! On the more positive side, many moms described breastfeeding now as special, incredible, bonding, convenient, and beautiful - all of which I 100% agree with!
My personal response about motherhood was awesome, obviously in the "great" group. Other responses in this group were fulfilling, bliss, relaxing & calming (really??), joyous, and rewarding. Some of the "tough" responses were sleepless, juggling, and frustrating. Some "others" were surreal, humbling, and indescribable.
About the future, my response was exciting which was actually the #1 response overall! Many moms also responded with bright, to which I wanted to respond singing "I gotta wear shades" ^_^ The "negative" responses weren't so bad, for example "too close" and "sleepless.
So there you have it!
If you want to add your responses to my poll, or have a reaction to any of my results, just comment below!
We're about to go down the rabbit hole here ladies and gentlemen. If you are of the "ignorance is bliss" mentality, you have been forewarned.
A friend on facebook had one of those re-shared posts today that circulate the web again and again. It was along the lines of "Warning: Drinking bottled water that's been sitting in your car will give you breast cancer. Sheryl Crow's doctor told her that's what gave her breast cancer" yada yada yada. Shocking and frightening - yes! But I'm never one to read something and believe it 100% without looking into it a little further. So off to google I went. Got some interesting findings which led me to research phthalates, BPA, and oodles of other goodies out there leaching into our bodies on a daily basis. I'm not quite sure what to do with all of this info, so I thought I'd share it and bring you into my dark and confusing world.
What: Used to increase flexibility and durability in plastics. As the plastic ages, the release of phthalates is accelerated and they easily leach into food, the air, etc. High doses have been shown to change hormone levels and cause birth defects.
Sources: PVC – think shower curtain, air mattress, etc. Fatty foods such as milk, butter, and meats are a major source. Also, check your daily cleaning and cosmetic goods such as laundry detergent, shampoo, etc.
What: Highly toxic; can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer. They dissolve in fat, are eliminated from the body verrrrrrrry slowly, and are passed on from mother to child before birth and through breastfeeding.
Sources: Humans get 90% of their dioxin exposure through food, mainly meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish. Other sources are smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp, manufacturing of herbicides/pesticides/PVC, volcanic eruptions, and forest fires. Diapers, tampons, and sanitary napkins all contain dioxins because of the bleach and chlorine used in their processing. Some studies showed that the levels of dioxins in these products were low, and not the most toxic or potent forms, but not much is known yet.
What: Synthetic preservatives that mimic estrogen and act as endocrine disrupters. These are stored in fat cells, and are not easily broken down so will accumulate in the breasts and other areas with a lot of fat, and have been found in high concentration in breast tumors. Also thought to lead to early puberty and decreased sperm levels.
Sources: Foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care products.
What: An endocrine disrupter that mimics estrogen, studies have linked prenatal exposure to later physical and neurological difficulties. In 2010 the FDA warned about its hazards to fetuses, infants, and young children, and Canada declared it a toxic substance. It’s since been banned in baby bottles.
Sources: Used to make hard usable plastics – think water and baby bottles, pacifiers, lining of canned vegetables and soups. Type 7 plastics are the most likely to contain it, with type 3 being possible, and other types being unlikely.
What: An environmental pollutant. Hard to break-down by ordinary waste-processing systems, they’re carried to lakes and rivers where they increase algae growth and decrease oxygen which is needed by plant and animal life in the water.
Sources: Contained in household detergents and cleaning agents, especially dish-washing and laundry detergents.
What to Do:
So now what?? I'm completely freaked out by the amount of these products I already have exposed my baby to in-utero and in the 4 months since his birth. For sure he's going to develop 10 kinds of cancer, be developmentally challenged (what is the PC term for that these days?), and grow breasts when he's 5 (well, ok he already has them, but I think that's just his baby-fat...). No time like the present to take action. So here's what I've figured must be done:
1) Be prepared to spend more money
2) Buy organic, especially for the "dirty dozen"
3) Make sure your plastics and canned goods are labeled "BPA Free" (Thankfully, most baby items these days are clearly labeled with this, but beware of plastic hand-me-downs - especially since the older the plastic the more readily the toxins are leaching out)
4) Consider greener alternatives to the traditional brands: ex. Honest Company and Earth's Best make chlorine-free diapers (or go with cloth diapers); Seventh Generation has safer laundry and dish-washing detergents; Badger makes a mean sunscreen... Ditch the fabric softener and bubble baths altogether. There are lots of DIY cleaning tips out there as well - vinegar and water for cleaning, using wet wash clothes instead of baby wipes, etc!
5) Check your products' safety on the EWG Skin Deep Database
6) Don't buy anti-bacterial or fragranced anything, especially for baby. They're harsh on skin, have extra unnecessary chemicals, and anti-bacterial goods seem to be increasing the presence of antibiotic resistant strains, yikes!!
7) Buy bedding of 100% cotton, hemp, linen or wool (no synthetics which are full of chemicals). While you're at it, the more clothes you do this with the better.
8) For baby, go with glass bottles and silicone nipples and pacifiers (latex can release carcinogens).
9) Choose: metal or solid wood furniture with non-toxic finish (nothing made of particleboard, chipboard or pressboard), paint with low-VOCs, non-vinyl wallpaper, carpeting with the industry's "green label" (though carpeting is a nightmare for anyone with allergies, trapping mold, dust, bacteria, etc), metal blinds over PVC plastic blinds.
10) Choose wooden or cloth toys over plastic. Make sure they're free of toxic paints, glues, dyes, etc. If plush or fabric, keep them free of dust by storing in a lidded toy box.
Don't panic and throw out everything this very minute, unless money is no problem in your household, ahhhh wouldn't that be nice?? Baby steps! As you reach the end of one product, just replace it with the safer alternative. Little by little your house will be greener and safer for your family, or at least that's the idea ^_^ I hope I can practice what I preach!! If you have tips on a great product, or how you got your family on a greener path, please leave a comment!!
Resources for more info:
Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database - they rank cosmetic goods from 0 (totally healthy for people and the environment) to 10 (we're all going to die because of this product!!).
Guide to Less Toxic Products <Baby Care> - by the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia
Today I ordered a cutie patootie Coolibar UV Swim Romper and Badger's Unscented Sunscreen for Kenzo off of Amazon. We're gearing up for summer and are almost ready, but wait, what about doing his "business" while splashing about in the water. They sell swim diapers, but are they really necessary? Isn't it just a marketing ploy to make us spend more money? So, off I went on another researching spree!
From what I've gathered, it seems if you wear a regular disposable diaper in the pool, it'll soak up all the water and get really really heavy and bulky. It might even "explode", with chemical-loaded stuffing going all over the place. A disposable diaper specifically designed for swimming is better, though it will probably still soak up some water and for this reason you'll need to change the diaper as soon as the child is out of the water. Apparently washables have the opposite problem - they are not meant to absorb, just to contain. So, pee will flow freely into the pool. They do say it's sterile, but still. As soon as baby is out of the water, you'll have to put something more absorbent on them - either a new diaper or an insert into the washable shell. The benefit of the washables is that, assuming there's no poo, you can rinse out the diaper and reuse it all day long. The price of one washable swim diaper is about the same as a pack of disposables, and will fit for at least 1 summer season, possibly two. Depending on how much time your baby will be spending in the water, one may be better for the budget than the other.
What I'm mostly worried about is poo. Kenzo's only 4 months, and will be around 6 months during peak summer time. As a breastmilk only baby, he's pooing out a disturbingly gooey brownie batter type substance, that unfortunately does NOT smell like brownie batter! I can only imagine him splashing about with the other babies in a friend's kiddie pool when he lets one rip. I'm sure we'd never being invited back again >_< Or how about at the public pool, where hundreds of people will be forced to clear the pool while they clean up my son's explosion. How humiliating!! SO, figuring out a good swim diaper is pretty important here!!
Alpha Mom did a great write up on disposable vs. washable swim diapers here. She's quite pro-washables, though I'm just still not sold on them handling Kenzo's poo. If you do go the washable route, it seems velcros or snaps are preferable to pulls on, because it's a lot easier dealing with poo clean up, or if baby has sandy and sunscreeny thighs.
And the kicker that has me doubting whether I'll ever let my little one into any pool, a message from our dear friends at the CDC that swim diapers *may* delay poopy disease-carrying bacteria from entering the water for a couple of minutes. And it seems chlorine can not be counted on to kill everything. They also mention that urine binds with disinfectants to contaminate air quality in indoor pools. F$&%! And to think it was Jaws that made us not want to get back into the water. Now we have a lot more to worry about...
If you're still interested, here are some options and prices I found:
WASHABLE OPTIONS: (in order of my interest, best on top)
* Bummis Swimmis - $14.50, velcro on both sides (pictured below - how cute!)
* FuzziBunz - $20 - regular cloth diaper, just leave out the insert for swim time; snaps on both sides
* Imse Vimse - $30 - snaps on one side
* iPlay - $10 - snaps on one side.
* The Honest Company - $13 - One size fits all, pull-up style - not sounding so great.
* Pampers Splashers - 24ct - $9 ($0.38/diaper)
* Huggies Little Swimmers - 12ct - $13 ($1.08/diaper)
The winner of our very first giveaway and the recipient of Miny Moe's AWESOME 6-brand newborn & size 1 combo diaper sampler pack is, drum roll please...
Sierra Rost (and her little bun in the oven)
To everyone else, thank you so much for entering!! I'll be contacting each of you with a code for a special gift with your next Miny Moe order ^_^ They've got the best stuff for new or expecting moms and dads, so check 'em out!!
And don't forget to like Miny Moe on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to hear about future promotions and giveaways!! Tell your friends, family, and co-workers...
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!