Teeth! You find them everywhere!

Teeth! You find them everywhere! On mountaintops and in the air. And if you care to poke around, you’ll even find them underground.

That’s the opening line to one of my little one’s favourite Dr Seuss books and has been the theme around my house for the last few months. My little guy has more teeth than any other baby we know (we’re up to 8 chompers now) and he’s not even a year old yet! He’s done amazingly well through the whole teething process, though I hear once we get to the molars we’re in for some sleepless nights and lots of tears. So I thought I’d get a leg up on finding teething remedies. We’ve tried Camilia and didn’t have much success, then we tried Tylenol, and while it knocks him out, once it wears off he’s back to not feeling so hot. So since these doctor recommended remedies aren’t helping, I was wondering what the natural world might have to offer.

I had heard that frozen teething rings are great for sore gums, but I find they’re too big for my little one’s mouth. Next up was the cold, wet washcloth, which he loves, but after a few minutes it ends up on the floor, picking up all the little bits of dust and dirt that the vacuum missed. Hmm, so what next? After a bit of searching online, I found an amazing trick. Homemade frozen teethers made from, wait for it, breastmilk! They’re affectionately referred to as momsicles! I’ve now got a stash in the freezer, waiting to be tested. I just took pumped breastmilk, poured it into an icecube tray and stuck a pacifier into each cube so they’re easy to hold onto, or can be clipped onto a bib with a pacifier clip. Voila, homemade teethers! And this way they’re not only cold but nutritious too! As an alternative to breastmilk, you could use water with little bits of fruit inside or if you’ve got an older baby, frozen milk or a non-dairy alternative. Fingers crossed these work for us because we’ve still got a ways to go in the teething battle.

Goodbye, baby swing

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been going around the house taking inventory of what needs to be packed up and put into storage as we make room for the next stage of toys and baby gear. I can’t believe we’re already packing up this first round of gear though! I mean, clothes were a no brainer as we’ve been moving through those faster than I can buy them. But for some reason it’s the toys, baby swing and baby chair that seem to be getting me. I suppose it’s because they seemed so massive next to my little one during those first few months. And now they’re a very visible measure of his getting bigger and an indication that it’s time to say goodbye to that very baby baby stage.

So, goodbye bouncy chair and thank you for saving my arms and my sanity during dinner time for so many months. Goodbye baby swing, who allowed me some much needed hands-free time to accomplish monumental tasks such as laundry and showering sans crying. And goodbye cradle. While my little one never really liked you, I spent $200 on you so I will appreciate you because otherwise I would resent your outrageous price tag! :-)

And I think to myself, what an inaccessible world

Not until I started pushing a stroller around did I realize how difficult it can be for someone on wheels or with any kind of impairment to navigate this world. I’d say at least 50% of the time, the automatic door opener buttons on doorways don’t work, even in hospitals or government buildings, ramps are in the most awkward locations if they’re placed on curbs at all, and aisles are often crowded with merchandise or displays that make it nearly impossible to navigate past.

I feel fortunate that one day in the near future I will be out of the wheeled stage and able to pop in and out of any location I choose with ease, but I think about all those who spend their time in wheelchairs or who have trouble with stairs or crowded areas and wonder why we (and by we I mean the collective we as a society) don’t make more effort to accommodate our less able bodied peers? Is it really too much to ask that as many locations as possible be open to as many people as possible? I don’t think business owners, developers or city planners are consciously trying to exclude others. I just think it’s one of those circumstances where unless you’ve ever had to take a different path you may not realize how difficult it can be to get around in this world built for the masses. So hold that door open, help that person up the curb and offer to reach something that may be tucked away in a back corner. Or at least that’s what I’m planning on doing for others once I return to the non-strollered population.

Just my do unto others thought of the day!

Am I a germaphobe? Or is the whole world just filthy?

I recently took my little guy to my office so he could meet my coworkers and join in on a work potluck They loved him and he loved all of them, passing happily from one set of welcoming hands to the next. After lunch, I packed him up so we could head home, and upon arrival, I swiftly removed the clothes he had been wearing and gave his hands a wipe down. I wanted to get rid of any possible germs that had been transferred to him during our visit. It’s not that I think my coworkers are a particlarly filthy bunch of individuals. Quite the opposite! I just think that most people, especially those who don’t handle babies on a regular basis, don’t consider exactly what they’ve touched in the course of a day and could be inadvertently passing germs on to my bubs and others.

Even before I became a mama I was very good about washing my hands when I came in from being out and about, but it wasn’t until after I had my little guy that I started to ask others to do the same. I also have put up a sign in our entryway asking guests to please remove their shoes before entering the house, because I don’t want them tracking dirt and germs all over the floors, where our little one is now rolling about.

Does my fight against germs make me crazy? Or just a mama trying to protect her little one? Or do those two things now go hand in hand…craziness and motherhood that is ;-). It’s not like I go around spraying people with hand sanitizer or take my baby out sealed in bubble wrap. I’m just trying to keep him as healthy as I can by practicing good hygiene.

If you’re a mama you may feel this way too, trying to keep germs at bay as best you can. But if you’re a friend or loved one to a new mama and baby, this germy issue may never have crossed your mind. So I’d like to suggest you put a mama’s mind at ease by following a few anti-germ rules:
- Announce that you’re going to go wash your hands before handling baby (Yes really, announce it. Then we don’t have to awkwardly ask you to go to the sink and scrub up)
- Don’t kiss baby on the face (or anywhere else for that matter)
- Remove your shoes before entering the house, especially if there’s carpet because it’s hardest to clean
- If you run into mama and baby in public and aren’t able to wash your hands, don’t grab baby’s hands with your grimy mitts. Sales clerks always seem to grab my little one’s hands and it drives me nuts because once they’ve grabbed his hands, he sticks them in his mouth.
- And most importantly – if you’re sick or think you might be getting stick, STAY AWAY!!

Any thoughts on this? Do others practice any anti-germ tactics with their little ones? Or are we all getting too carried away? (Clearly, you know my opinion on that last question!)

When milk doesn’t do a body good…

A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When my little one started showing signs of a food allergy, his doctor said it was most likely caused by milk proteins that I was eating (he was exclusively breastfed, which is why my diet came into call). I thought to myself, “Milk? How could he be getting any milk or dairy? I don’t drink milk or eat cheese so how could this be?!” I was sensitive to milk myself so couldn’t eat icecream or cheesecake but it wasn’t until I stopped to read the ingredients of the processed foods I was eating on a daily basis that I quickly learned how invasive an ingredient milk and its derivatives are in our everyday foods. And even though I was only ingesting trace amounts, it was enough to cause a reaction for my baby.

To help remedy my litte one’s symptoms, I put myself on an elimination diet, keeping strict track of every morsel I consumed, and had to learn the many other names milk could appear as on an ingredient label. After months of making progress with his symptoms (by also cutting out soy and egg, as well as a few other things), to my dismay, he was still having symptoms - and it was driving me nuts! I then realized that during all this time, the one place I forgot to check was the medicine cabinet. And there I discovered that dairy (caramel and lactose, used as fillers) was present in one of my daily supplements and in a medication I was taking. Ack! I was relieved to find these last traces of milk that were still causing my little one so much upset, but also incredibly irritated that this ingredient was present without a warning anywhere on the label. Had I not learned to watch for caramel, I never would have known that milk was hidden in my daily pills.

A lot of companies are getting quite good at labeling their products for the top allergens. But there is still much improvement needed when it comes to the labels of most ready-made, boxed, canned or bagged foods.

So it’s up to us as parents to become familiar with what the ingredient “milk” can appear as in any product purchased from the grocery store. If you’re struggling with a milk allergy with your little one (or yourself!), check out the Health Canada website for a very comprehensive list of otherwise-named milk ingredients. Until you become more familiar with all the possible names for milk, I recommend printing out the list and taking it with you to the store to avoid any possible allergic reactions.

If you’re wondering what symptoms to watch for when trying to diagnose a milk allergy, be on the lookout for skin rashes or hives, runny or stuffy nose, blood or mucus in baby’s diaper, ear infections, upset stomach, irritability or fussiness.

BC store gives back to moms and babies on tight budgets

If you live in the Lower Mainland of BC and are on a tight budget, you may want to consider checking out Mommy and Me Clothing in Tsawwassen. They sell gently used mom and baby items for ridiculously low prices and based on their sales, also make donations to local charities. Maternity pieces are $5 each and baby clothes are $2 each! And if you bring in items to donate, you can score an even better deal – baby clothes for $1! Amazing!

The website indicates that they also carry items like strollers, cribs, toys and other baby essentials. The selection varies from week to week so you may need to call ahead if you’re looking for something specific.

 

Postpartum depression could effect not just you, but your hubby too

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association highlights a new finding related to postpartum depression. The depressive symptoms some women feel following the birth of their children are being seen in more and more men, raising questions about whether the causes are related more to lack of sleep and stress than hormonal issues, as originally speculated.

Oh, Canada! Really? Bottom of the list for supporting new mamas?

A world map showing developed countries, devel...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Save the Children has released its State of the World’s Mother’s Report for 2012 and in it, the organization provides details on challenges facing new mothers and young babies around the world and steps that can be taken to help alleviate some of the problems.While much of the focus is on the developing world, the report includes a scorecard for the developed world. Amongst other things, this scorecard looks at length of paid maternity leave, percentage of hospitals that are baby friendly, and women’s rights to daily breaks while working to support nursing. Of the 36 industrialized nations, Canada ranks 31st on this scorecard. We’re in 31st place?! Seriously? And my American friends, I have bad news for you. The US is dead last!

How can North America be so far behind? What can be done to change this grim stat? This scorecard suggests that perhaps the women’s movement hasn’t come far enough on this continent if childcare and maternity rights aren’t being taken seriously by employers and government.

Thoughts?

Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun, please shine down on me (after I’ve applied my sunscreen that is!)

how UVB and UVA works in sunscreen

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been absolutely gorgeous weather in my neck of the woods these last couple weeks and so I’ve had sun safety on my mind. While I’ll be sticking with the shade and a hat as protection for bubs, I wanted to know what sunscreens would be best (or should I say, the least harmful) to use on myself. I’m looking for as few toxic chemicals as possible. My go-to brand last year was Badger, but I know there are more brands out there to try, I just wasn’t sure where to look.

Thankfully I came across this post from the Environmental Working Group, outlining their top choices for sunscreen this summer. Time to get to the store to stock up and then head outside for some fun in the sun!

Any other sun safety tips out there? Which brands of sunscreen do you like?

Little one, thank you for turning my world upside down

I was reflecting today, on Mother’s Day of all days, about the last few months. My little one hit the 6 month mark today and I realized just how quickly he’s changed from the tiny screaming baby we brought home from the hospital to a sweet little character, full of love, happiness, coos and hugs.

The first few weeks at home were overwhelming to say the least. My little one was not an easy baby. He didn’t settle into sleep without a fight, he cried and cried at all hours, and had reflux and allergies that made him a bit on the irritable side. In the early days, my husband and I didn’t quite know what we had gotten ourselves into! We were wondering “Is it always going to be like this? Will he ever settle? How are we going to function?!” But soon, with the passing of time and a dose or two of patience, we all fell into a rhythm as our little one got to know us and we got to know him. And now we are blessed with the sweetest baby who has changed our lives in so many ways, all for the better.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re still exhausted from lack of sleep and many days I’m covered in milk, poop or a combination of the two, but I couldn’t be happier to be part of the mama club. For all the ups and downs, it really is an amazing experience that I wish upon everyone.

So if you’re a mama who is in the very early days of parenthood, up to your elbows in diapers, running on no sleep with a baby attached to you around the clock, I feel for you! But be proud in knowing you’re doing it! You’re a mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you out there who have been down in the trenches of early motherhood and have come out with happy, healthy children on the other side. I’m looking forward to being able to look back on these times (even those very rough first few weeks!) as some of the best moments of my life.