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Posts Tagged ‘raleigh’

Hygeia - The Only Breast Pump Company Endorsed by La Leche League International

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

By Daphne

Are you in the market for a breast pump? Have you heard of the Hygeia Enjoye-LBI? Now available at SmartMomma, the brand Hygeia is named after the Greek Goddess of health and wellness because breast milk brings health and wellness to moms and babies. The only pump brand endorsed by La Leche League International, all of its personal-use electric breast pumps are hospital-grade performance.

Hygeia Enjoye LBI

Hygeia Enjoye LBI

Having been a pumping and working mom myself, I was excited to learn that all Hyegia breast pumps have a closed system, meaning they can be rented and shared between mothers who use their own pumping sets. There is a barrier filter to prevent any cross-contamination between mothers, so you can ethically sell your pump to another new mom when you no longer need it, knowing you are not risking sharing any viruses or other germs with other moms and babies.

Another advantage of the closed system is that the flexibility of reuse allows Hygeia to be one of the “greenest” pumps on the market. Once you no longer need your pump and if you do not wish to sell it or share it with another person, you can return it to Hygeia for recycling or reuse.

A significant selling point to me is that Hygeia is WHO compliant. It supports the World Health Organization’s code on marketing of breast milk substitutes by not including pictures of babies on its packaging and not risking implying that a mother’s goal should be to pump milk over directly breastfeeding her baby. Hygeia makes it clear that breastfeeding is best for mother and baby and that the primary use of a breast pump is for when mother and baby are separated.

I frequently worry about what chemicals are exposed to my children, and I was glad to see that all Hygeia pump parts that come in contact with breast milk are BPA and DEHP-free! No dangerous chemicals will be seeping into your pumped liquid gold!

The Hygeia Enjoye-LBI and all of its accessories are now available at SmartMomma! If you’re planning to return to work after the birth of your baby, this is definitely one of the best pumps to consider. If I were shopping for a pump today, this would definitely be my choice!

Finger-Painting with Toddlers: Life is More Fulfilling Outside the Lines

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

By, Daphne

Reflecting back to my own childhood, I have a distinct memory from my three-year-old preschool class. We were all given large letters to color, and on my page was the letter “R.” I chose the color red, and in my mind, my work was perfect; the edges of my letter were intact without the slightest stray scribble. I was completely content in my perfect expression of art until Brad, the kid next to me, took his brown crayon and make a huge mark that extended from inside my red letter, crossed the boundaries of the line, and finally violated the clean white space of the paper that was not meant for any coloring. It could be said that I overreacted, but I felt the only appropriate action to take was to grab a black crayon and destroy my beautiful, red “R.”

Further reflection about this memory could say quite a bit about my wish to control the environment around me, an indication that the budding creativity of my own children might challenge my comfort level. Perhaps the brown mark across my paper could have been developed into a beautiful tree over my letter? My creative vision at the time was limited, though, and I could only see that my work was destroyed.

Son, Andrew, fingerpainting

Son, Andrew, fingerpainting

Those who have seen my house can easily confirm that I am not a neat freak. Clutter is well nourished in my home; I tolerate scattered books and toys better than most. However, the story of the letter “R” revisits me when it comes to doing artwork with my children. With my son, the challenge has been that he would want help with coloring a picture, so I would help. I would choose my color, pick a section, and all would be well until I realized that I was supposed to be okay with him coloring on my, I mean his, artwork. Fortunately, as the years have passed, my son has become happy for us to each color pictures beside each other, allowing me to control the environment of my own artwork.

The medium of art expression that I have avoided the most is finger painting. Yes, children’s paint is washable, but somehow it will not only move beyond the boundaries of lines on the paper but also find a way to use children’s hands to hitchhike onto the table, clothes, hair, and sometimes even the floor and wall. Of course, the moment will come when my child wants help from me, and the risky feeling of paint on my fingers that could be transferred to anything else I touch gives me a greater awareness that even I, in a moment of distraction, might not be able to keep my own art inside the square corners of the paper.

For me to be able to help my child with finger-painting, I have to accept the reality that art is messy, it can be cleaned up, and that my child and I will recover no matter where the paint ends up residing. I almost forgot – it should be fun!

Daughter, Elaine, fingerpainting

Daughter, Elaine, fingerpainting

Today I finally opened up the finger paints I bought for my daughter months ago. I took the risk of letting her have fun, fully aware of the disorder that would result from her joy. At fist, she hesitated. Maybe she was also worried about a mess? Oh no, I didn’t want her to feel limited by a fear of paint going everywhere. I dipped my finer in the paint and demonstrated. She following my example and enjoyed herself by painting five pictures! By the time she was finished, the total damage was paint on her hands, my hands, her pajamas, and the table. That was it! We had fun creating art together, and all of the mess was easily cleaned up!

Perhaps not all mothers have as much difficulty with finger painting as I do, but I do think most mothers can relate to having their children push them outside of their level of comfort. Of course, there is a balance, and sometimes it’s important to maintain order. However, I’ve learned that the situations where our children push us just past our limits can be good lessons for how we view life. This can apply to our career choices, our social activities, and even our value system.

Perhaps the safe career isn’t the most rewarding? Perhaps the risk of starting a new activity and meeting new people will bring a greater depth and enjoyment to life? Perhaps one of the rules of life you have always followed should be reevaluated to determine if it still fits into your value system?

Since I gave birth to my first child, I have tackled all three of those questions. My career goals have changed, but I feel a much deeper sense of satisfaction with my new career direction. I have joined many new social groups and have only found more appreciation of life with getting to know more people. For my value system, I have learned to listen more closely to what is in my heart rather seeking out popular values that are not meaningful for me. Hopefully now that I have survived finger painting, I will be able to accept even more of the joys waiting for me outside the lines of the letter “R.”

Parenting Skills Begin in High School

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

By, Daphne

When I first met my newborn son, I initially felt that any parenting challenges would settle into a predicable routine. There is so much advice out there about soothing the young baby and disciplining the toddler. While some of the tips and suggestions from magazines, books, friends, family, and online communities have been helpful, I finally realized that some of my parenting difficulties could be helped by what I learned in high school.

The time between comforting a baby to sleep and quietly slipping out of the room can be the most stressful, fearful, and hopeful experience of a parent’s day. As you step away from the bed, you move as carefully as possible, making sure not to bump into a creaking place on the wall or step on a musical toy that might make the slightest or loudest sound. Movement must be precise yet purposeful to make it out of the room successfully. The lurking punishment of a crying baby keeps your fear alive, much like the fear of high school detention for getting caught without a hall pass. If you have any experience with sneaking down a restricted hallway during lunchtime in school, you’ve already fine-tuned a silent tread. In addition, the stress management skills you learned in each second of hallway fear will now help you keep calm when you hear the sounds of your baby possibly waking up, seeing you, and loudly requesting that you remain in the room for a longer period of time.

As your child grows somewhat older, you will enter a stage when you want to enjoy sweet foods and candies that you would prefer not to share with your exclusively organic fed little one. Some of us have better personal discipline than others, but I know I like to experience some type of sugary treat several times a day. The challenge is that children have a shockingly well-developed ear for candy wrappers at an early age. Complicating the task further is the fact that some toddlers can even smell scents such as chocolate on your breath after you’ve managed to successfully fulfill your sweet tooth’s needs. Luckily, those of us who spent years eating candy in class daily already know all the tricks for keeping our sugary secrets private. Unwrapping candy before school was the best strategy for removing the noise risk to eating candy during class. Now, the same concept can be applied by transferring all candy to cloth or zip-lock bags. While teachers weren’t checking the smell of anyone’s breath, they may have noticed the rhythmic movement of gum being chewed. Limit talking after sneaking any sweets to avoid having your toddler discover your secret.

The most desperate moment for any parent can be when your child is frantically searching for a toy that you know for sure is never going to be found. It didn’t seem like it would be missed at the time, but this overlooked entertainment purchase from three years ago has suddenly become the only teddy bear that loved him or the only toy xylophone that will express the music of her heart. Once again, you must search through the high school compartment of your brain and now think of a time when you didn’t have an assignment turned in on time. It’s not that you lied about the reason for the lateness, but you did want your situation to be convincing to your teacher. Perhaps you embellished or even fabricated entire details about what occupied your time when you should have been working on the school project. Now, as your child looks at you with faith that you will solve the case of the missing, loved toy, you find those story-enhancing skills from years ago to be most helpful. Again, it’s not that you completely lie to your child – or maybe you do, but the goal is to keep everyone happy. True, you might not actually know a little girl who had no toys or if she received your child’s loved possession when you donated it to charity, but a personalized aspect about the destination of your preschooler’s now retired teddy bear or xylophone sure helps take the focus off of what she lost.

Parenting is difficult, and we all run into challenges regularly. Though it does seem that solutions to our adjustments to living with children are hidden behind days of research, sometimes the answers have always been with us. Just take a moment to reflect, and you will find some of your own problem-solving patterns from your past to apply to today.

What if my baby isn’t developing normally?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

By, Daphne

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, like many, I found myself dreaming of how my dedicated mothering would result in a perfect child. I was careful to leave room for my imagined child’s own choices and interests and various other characteristics that would make him a unique person. My goal was not to control him but to give him the best start in life through love, attention, security, good nutrition, exposure to educational experiences, and unending patience. It’s easy to plan on meeting every need when the challenge of the live baby hasn’t yet arrived. Without realizing it, I linked his ability to develop into a well-adjusted individual to my ability to adequately mother him, and I hadn’t even met him yet.

Many of the usual tasks on the perfect baby checklist were tackled: balanced diet during pregnancy, natural

Andrew and Daphne just after he was diagnosed with autism - Crickett Photography

Andrew and Daphne just after he was diagnosed with autism - Crickett Photography

childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing, lots of direct attention, and organic baby food. Despite my morning sickness resulting in the loss of 16 pounds, I did my best to eat healthy foods. Of course, the all-too-common story of a planned natural childbirth turning into a C-section happened to me. I not only had an epidural but general anesthesia as well. Luckily, my dedicated support system helped me through my breastfeeding challenges, allowing me to nurse my son well beyond the first year. I scheduled time into every day to play games and engage him with other activities that focused on his development, and by the time I started my son on solid foods, I was sure I had made up for his difficult birth with all the breastfeeding, babywearing and organic foods. Clearly, my careful mothering was, in fact, making my baby perfect!

It wasn’t until my son was close to three years old that I started to question if his little quirks were a sign of a larger developmental concern. Some of his unique interests during his first few years included an unusual fascination with wires, shoestrings, and any other string he discovered; staring at escalators for long periods of time; and an intense attraction to flowing water, such as drinking water fountains, running water hoses, the kitchen sink sprayer, and the larger water displays at malls. I know a lot of kids are attracted to water, but my son only wanted to stare at the running water rather than play with it, and he would shriek as if his life was being taken away if we either stopped the running water or took him away from it. I didn’t know that all of these interests fell under the category of visual stimulation.

Andrew just after he was diagnosed with autism - Crickett Photography

Andrew just after he was diagnosed with autism - Crickett Photography

Developmentally, just before my son turned three, I noticed that he didn’t seem to understand what I was saying as much as other kids. Still, he had a great vocabulary. I figured he was okay if he could talk. My pediatrician and his daycare providers also assured me that they had no concerns. After checking off all of his milestones on developmental checklists, I was certain he must be fine.

Finally, about a month after my son’s third birthday, I realized that there was a clear difference between his communication skills compared to his peers. I had to use specific phrases and vocabulary for him to understand me, and he just didn’t seem as aware as other kids. I took him to Project Enlightenment for a developmental screening, and then he was referred to the public school system. The school system met with my husband and me several times, observed my son, and finally completed a formal developmental evaluation. The whole process took six months, but at the end of it, we found out what was going on with our son: autism.

How did I feel? Devastated! I was trampled by the news of my obvious failure at mothering. With all of my hard work and effort, I was supposed to have a perfect child. If he had a diagnosis as horrifying as autism, I felt I must have missed some essential ingredient in my recipe for being the ideal mother. For years I had met other women who had kids with autism. Not knowing my situation, I had always felt so bad for those mothers; I admired how they appeared to have a positive perspective of life when their children faced so many challenges. Now I was one of those mothers, and I didn’t feel positive at all!

It took time to grieve the loss of the child I imagined, the child I thought I knew. Knowing that social skills are so closely tied to a fulfilling life, I wondered how my son could find a place in society with a diagnosed social disorder. Would he be the “weird” kid? Would he be bullied? I had always had the impression he was so smart, and now I was being told he was cognitively delayed. Would he always be delayed, struggling to keep up with his peers? People on the spectrum are known for having trouble understanding humor. Would I not be able to laugh and tell jokes with my son? He seemed to enjoy humor, but maybe it would go away? Would he be able to go to college? Get married? Have his own life?

Andrew and Daphne just after he was diagnosed with autism - Crickett Photography

Andrew and Daphne just after he was diagnosed with autism - Crickett Photography

My son, Andrew, was diagnosed with autism two-and-a-half years ago. How do I feel now? First, he is really funny – and in an annoying way like any other six-year-old, making his humor somewhat typical for his age.

He still struggles with some academics but manages to perform on grade-level. Though he’s in a special education kindergarten class, he is doing the same work as other kindergarteners in regular classes, and he will likely be in a regular 1st grade class next year. Andrew is smart, creative, skilled at art, good at solving real life problem. He has friends, enjoys going places, loves and protects his younger sister, voluntarily gives me hugs, and is very inquisitive. I enjoy spending time with him and am fascinated with who he is as a person.

We have been so lucky that all of his preschool teachers and his current teacher are absolutely awesome. Every teacher has taken the time to get to know him and find strategies to work around his challenges. I am so hopeful that he will continue to have such dedicated and talented educators throughout his future school years.

Andrew does have some challenges. The motivation is not always there when he has to complete tasks he does not like. Some concepts are difficult for him, and his fine motor skills are inconsistent. In addition, his stimulatory behavior involves making odd sounds while running around. If he starts to “stim” in public, people do look at him oddly, knowing something must be different about him. I am hopeful that he will be able to embrace more socially compatible outlets for stimulatory expression as he gets older.

I’m not going to say I wouldn’t change a thing about him, as I notice many other people say that about their disabled kids, but I also won’t say there’s nothing I would change about myself. I think it’s okay to admit we would like for things to be different while simultaneously working on accepting people and ourselves as we are. I do appreciate everything about my son: the good, the bad, and the lessons he and I learn from his challenges. We will both grow as people by working together.

Daphne's Son - Andrew

What do I recommend for parents who are worried about their babies or toddlers? We all constantly hear and read the message that babies develop differently. Developmental milestones have a wide window of time for when they should be mastered, and anytime in that window is acceptable. It’s good to find out exactly how late is okay for your baby to master a skill. With this knowledge, you are able to remain somewhat more calm if everyone else’s baby is sitting up at six months if you know your baby still has as couple more months to be on target for that milestone.

When I checked the lists for developmental red flags, my son never showed any of the major symptoms of autism. Now that I know more about child development, I realize that my son’s receptive language and problems with joint attention were clear indicators of his disorder by eighteen months of age. Receptive language is what your child understands. It is more common for people who have concerns about their child’s language will say their child understands everything but doesn’t say much. The child who understands most of what he hears likely does not have autism. However, if you worry that your child doesn’t understand as much as his peers, you may want to investigate further. Children demonstrate joint attention when they are having trouble with something and look up at you, hoping you will help. A child with autism who struggles with joint attention will continue to stare at the toy while crying, never looking for someone to help. Another form of joint attention is when a child sees something of interest and wants to share it with you by bringing it to you or by pointing at the object.  Children with autism aren’t as aware of you being a separate person and don’t realize you may not already see what they see. While it’s not necessarily a problem if your child doesn’t point right at twelve months of age, within a few months of her birthday, she should be clearly making an attempt to show you what she sees.

What would I do differently if I could start over with my son? My son has improved significantly since receiving intervention starting at three-and-a-half years of age, but earlier intervention is always better. Now I always tell people to follow their gut feeling and to not take too much of a wait and see approach if their child is showing signs of a delay. True, many children do catch up on their own, but testing and possibly some developmental therapy will only help. Both evaluations and therapy are designed to be fun for children; I do not know of any drawbacks to getting a child tested.

Delayed intervention is a loss of the most effective time to make dramatic improvement in a child. Though my son had an age-appropriate vocabulary, he did not talk as much as other children, and I made the mistake of assuming he was just a late talker. I was not aware of the many resources available for determining if he needed help.

Daphne's Son - Andrew

Daphne's Son - Andrew

What resources are available for parents who have developmental concerns about their children? If your child is under three years of age and in Wake County, it is best to contact the Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA). You can call them about any concern you may have, whether your doctor agrees with you or not. Their evaluations are free, and they emphasize that it is better to call them sooner rather than wait and see if your child improves. I personally think it’s best to work with the CDSA before your child turns three because they work very quickly. They come to your house to evaluate and give you the results the same day. Then they arrange for any necessary therapies to take place in your home.

If your child is three years of age or older, the public school system is the only free option available for investigating questions about your child’s development. Though the entire process takes at least six months, if your child does have significant delays, he or she may qualify for free therapy and possibly specialized education through the school system. They have half day and whole day special education preschools.

You may wonder if you should check with your pediatrician before asking any of these services to evaluate your child. Yes, definitely bring up your concerns with your pediatrician; however, don’t wait for his or her permission to proceed if you are worried. Unfortunately, pediatricians’ knowledge and training is mostly focused on medical care, and many of them do not know how to properly address all developmental differences. It is common for pediatricians to miss problems when they could have been detected much sooner. Your child’s development is a place where you are the only expert until you meet with a developmental specialist.

Your Baby's Milestones

Your Baby's Milestones

What if I think my baby or toddler is doing great? Most children are developing normally. Just be sure to take the time to check off developmental milestones as they happen. So many parents share that their children meet developmental goals long before the indicated time on the chart. If your child shows all signs of rapidly growing into a social butterfly, enjoy her! Our children want us to have fun with them, and I definitely enjoy my son!

The Appeal of the Designer Diaper Bag

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

By, Daphne

While I’m planning a post for later in the week about steps to take during pregnancy to improve your early breastfeeding experience, I decided to go ahead and have fun writing about the diaper bags that call my name every time I’m in the store.

For most of my life, I have not been a person who chooses to carry bags. In college, I only carried a wallet and key combination, and I only reluctantly decided to carry a handbag after realizing that having my keys attached to my wallet and addressed license was probably not all that safe.

It wasn’t until I was nine months pregnant and ready to redeem several Christmas gift cards when I finally decided to buy a designer handbag. No woman at 40 weeks wants to shop for new clothes, and I wanted to splurge on myself one last time before my baby arrived. Of course, once I experienced the quality and fashion experience of a designer handbag, I found a way, over time, to build a small collection!

When it came to diaper bags, I was originally certain that the basic, affordable bag would be sufficient. To be honest, my simple bag was all I needed. Actually, I now remember that I had to throw away the first one when a surprise poop during a diaper change spread across the bag, and the stains wouldn’t wipe clean. The strap on the second bag broke after a few months, but it still held all my baby boy’s diapers, clothing, and various other necessities. Four years later, I had a baby girl and still chose a conservatively priced bag that had a slightly feminine look to it. For some reason, I thought that the gender of my baby had to be reflected in the look of the bag that I carried rather seeing the bag as a reflection of my own style. It only occurred to me recently that if my handbag doesn’t need to be gender appropriate to my child, the diaper bag I carry doesn’t need to be boy or girl themed either. Unfortunately, my choice to switch to cloth diapers with my daughter resulted in a broken strap much more quickly. The bag didn’t have a designated hook for a wet bag, and the strap was not strong enough to support the weight of soiled cloth diapers.

Now that I’ve had some time to look at the higher quality diaper bags, I wish I would have made the investment sooner. First, some of these bags are actually machine washable. That would have changed the outcome of my first diaper storage tragedy. All of the bags that caught my interest have a hook that is strong enough to support the weight of a wet bag. Clearly, much more thought has gone into these baby supply accessories, as the options for storage appear to be endless. Every unzipped section reveals many smaller compartments to store unlimited child-related necessities. I know in the early days, I needed separate spaces for Lansinoh, burp cloths, diapers, wipes, extra baby clothes, sometimes an extra shirt for me - babies are messy, water and snacks for me, and anything that would have been in my handbag. Later I had to add snacks and drinks for my toddler. Finally, these baby supply totes hardly look like diaper bags at all. The designer understands that the diaper bag doubles as your handbag for a period of time as well. Beyond the diaper years, they can easily be carried as handbags or office bags on their own, completely independent of an accompanying baby. I like the style of the designer diaper bags so much that I want to buy one just for my personal school and office use!

Today I looked at three bags I have considered for purchase:

The Petunia Pickle Bottom Toffee Roll Boxy Backpack’s fabric caught my attention immediately. It’s

Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack

Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack

absolutely beautiful! Exciting features include a built in changing pad that unfolds out of a zippered section on the side. I like the flexibility of carrying it as a backpack or as a shoulder bag. The backpack option would be most appreciated when trying to chase an excited toddler! My only disappointment with this bag is that Velcro holds the cover closed. This noise violation can be a hazard when trying to maintain a tranquil atmosphere around a sleeping baby. Fortunately, most of the other Boxy Backpacks have magnet closures.

Timi and Leslie Dawn Bag in Cloud Blue

Timi and Leslie Dawn Bag in Cloud Blue

The classiest style is the Timi & Leslie Dawn in Cloud Blue. A unique feature of this bag is a set of straps that attach it to a stroller, and I appreciate a smaller matching purse that comes with the bag that includes credit cards slots and a zippered pocket. This allows you to have a separate purse while knowing it can easily be stored inside the diaper bag. The best feature, however, is that no one would ever suspect you are carrying a baby accessory. It truly is a great fashion choice!

My absolute favorite choice is the Ju-Ju-Be Be All Bag in Coral Kiss! This bag has a fun, bright fabric, and it is machine washable! The interior antimicrobial lining is a light color to help with visibility of the contents, and the storage options are endless! The compartments on the sides for baby bottles are stretchy, easily

Ju-Ju-Be Be All Diaper Bag in Coral Kiss

Ju-Ju-Be Be All Diaper Bag in Coral Kiss

accommodating my water bottles, and the tags indicate that the bag is large enough for a laptop, allowing me to consider purchasing it to store my school needs. I could keep diapers and books in it at the same time!

Of course diaper bags are not at the top of the list for what you need most for your baby, and any bag will store your little one’s belongings. However, if you are in a position where you could spend more to tote around your baby supplies, go for it! The quality and advantages are worth the money. Have fun and be fashionable!

The Benefits of Babywearing

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Practicality & Benefits of Babywearing

Babywearing allows the wearer to have two free hands to accomplish tasks such as laundry while caring for the baby’s need to be held or breastfed. Babywearing offers a safer alternative to placing a car seat on top of a shopping cart. It also allows children to be involved in social interactions and to see their surroundings as an adult would.
In general, when wearing a baby it is important to stay attentive to the baby’s interaction with the environment. Parents need a little more space to turn around to avoid bumping the baby into counters and doorways. Babies on the back may be able to reach things that the wearer cannot see. Carriers must be fit snugly and properly to avoid discomfort and promote safety and it is generally recommended with most carriers to avoid wearing an uncooperative child on the back. Babywearing can improve safety, especially in crowded areas such as airports, by keeping a child who might otherwise be able to run into a crowd safely attached to the parent. This also allows for you and your family to spend time in locations that might otherwise not be small child “friendly” and allows these younger ones to be exposed to a variety of learning experiences; for example, hiking or trail walking and crowded festivals or kids museums.

Many sling users have found that it is easier on the back and shoulders than carrying their infant in a car seat or pushing a stroller through uneven terrain or crowds as the weight of the child is spread more evenly across the upper body and no bending is required.

Several sources express concern that carriers which put all of a baby’s weight on a narrow band of fabric at the crotch may cause problems with spinal growth, and advocate carriers which disperse most of the infant’s weight between the hips and thighs so it is important to shop for options when finding a carrier. Several types of carriers allow for proper weight distribution such as wraps, “soft” carriers (ex: Ergo style or Asian style Carriers), or pouches. These types of carriers allow for the child’s knees and thighs to be used for additional weight distribution and security.

Researchers have found that the close physical contact with the parent can help to stabilize an infant’s heartbeat, temperature, and breathing. Especially, preterm infants often have difficulty coordinating their breathing and heart rate. Researchers also have found that mothers who use kangaroo care (carrying the infant close to the skin) often have more success with breastfeeding and improve their milk supply. Further, researchers have found that preterm infants who experience kangaroo care have longer periods of sleep, gain more weight, decrease their crying, have longer periods of alertness, an earlier hospital discharge.

Simple Safety Tips

• Practice before you begin. Try your baby carrier with a helper or large doll or baby-sized sack of potatoes and practice bending (bend your knees), moving through doorways (watch out for his “head”!), quick movements and getting the “baby” in and out.

• When you start wearing your baby, support her with your arm until you are confident.

• Learn to wear your baby carrier properly and get it really comfortable. This is important for your body and for your baby’s safety.

• Swap positions. Change positions or swap shoulders regularly (perhaps each time you wear your baby). The sooner you start doing this, the easier it will be. Your baby might appreciate changing positions, especially if you are wearing them for long periods and you will stay balanced.

• Continue to support your baby whenever you bend over and bend from the knees!

• Gradually build up your endurance. This happens naturally if your baby is still small. If you are starting out with an older baby, try a few short sessions each day rather than one long one. Gradually increase the duration as your muscles adjust.

• Check the seams, buckles and straps regularly.

• Beware of what you put in the carrier with the baby. This is particularly important while your baby is young: keys, wallets, handkerchiefs can become hazards when they jiggle around and end up near your baby’s face or poke into delicate flesh. Many baby carriers have built-in pockets to help contain these items.

Some Claimed benefits of Babywearing include:

• Mothers’ progesterone (the “mothering hormone”) is increased through physical contact with the infant, leading to a more intimate bond, and easier breastfeeding, thus lowering the incidence of postpartum depression.

• Infants who are carried tend to be calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. The caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted, provide feeding and the motion necessary for continuing neural development, gastrointestinal and respiratory health and to establish vestibular balance and muscle tone is constant.

• Decreases risk of positional plagiocephaly (”flat head syndrome”) caused by extended time spent in a car seat and by sleeping on the back (supine position). Sleeping on the back is recommended to decrease the risk of SIDS. Concern over plagiocephaly has also led the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend that infants “should spend minimal time in car seats (when not a passenger in a vehicle) or other seating that maintains supine positioning. None of the babywearing positions require infants to lie supine while being carried

• Wearing your baby promotes their physical development. When your baby rides in a sling attached to your body, they are in tune with the rhythm of your breathing, the sound of your heartbeat, and the movements you make – walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps them regulate their own physical responses, and also exercises their vestibular system, which controls balance. The sling is in essence a “transitional womb” for the new baby, who has difficulty controlling their bodily functions and movements. Premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. Also carried babies are closer to people and can study facial expressions and be familiar with body language. Mechanical swings and other holding devices do not provide these same benefits.

This article provided by Donna Hedgepeth of Keystone Chiropractics. Donna specializes in pregnancy, babies, and children. Call her today for a consultation at 919-851-1010.

Donna will be at SmartMomma on January 31st at 12:30 pm for a FREE seminar on babywearing. Please sign up today to join us!

Copyright Keystone Chiropractic 2011
www.KeystoneChiropracticNC.com

How To Choose a Crib Mattress for Baby

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

I recently taught a Shopping for Baby 101 class about crib mattresses, and wanted to share my thoughts on how to find a crib mattress for your baby.  Enjoy!

Parents-to-be often spend months deciding on the styles of crib and bedding they want and then purchase the crib mattress as an afterthought. The crib mattress is actually a more important purchase since it where the majority of a child’s growth and development will occur. An infant will spend up to 70% of his or her time on the crib mattress and a toddler can spend up to 50% of his or her time on the crib mattress. This coupled with the fact that the child will spend the first three to five years of their lives sleeping and playing on this same crib mattress are the most important reasons to buy a quality crib mattress.

Babies have different needs the rest of the population, so their mattresses should be different.

  • A baby’s mattress should have square corners if possible, so the baby cannot become entrapped between the mattress and the rail.
  • A baby’s mattress should fit your crib snugly. Most crib mattresses are standard size, but check with your crib’s instruction manual for more information.
  • A baby’s mattress should be very firm, as this is the surface they are most often using to develop their muscles. For example, they often learn to turn their heads, roll over, and push their upper torso up on their crib mattress. Also, studies show that a very firm mattress can help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

There are three basic kinds of mattresses

  • Foam

Scientific advances in the making of foam have caused the quality of foam mattresses to improve dramatically over the past few years. A better quality foam mattress today is about the same quality as a better quality innerspring mattress. The costs are also very comparable. One thing is definitive in the choice of a crib mattress: a better quality foam mattress is better than a poorer quality innerspring mattress, and a better quality innerspring mattress is better than a poorer quality foam mattress. On the top 5 list from a leading consumer magazine, the number one mattress was made from foam, and 2 through 5 were innerspring. One of the biggest advantages to a foam mattress is that it weighs fewer than eight pounds, as compared to an innerspring mattress, for which better quality ones weigh 30 plus pounds because of the thicker gauge coils and extra padding.

Moonlight Slumber Foam Little Dreamer Crib Mattress

Moonlight Slumber Foam Little Dreamer Crib Mattress

The three things to look for when looking for a better quality foam mattress are:

  • Total weight of the mattress (also referred to as density) - generally, the heavier the mattress the better the mattress.
  • Firmness - most medical experts recommend that you put a baby on as firm a mattress as you, the parent, feel comfortable putting them on.
  • The reputation of the manufacturer of the mattress (and not just the name on the mattress label.)

Benefits: Light, easy to change sheets, can be found very firm, can upgrade to dual firmness

Price Points: From $149 to $179

Key Brands: SmartMomma recommends Colgate and Moonlight Slumber

  • Innerspring

An innerspring mattress is more complicated internally than a foam mattress, but like the foam mattress, there are several major things to look for when purchasing a better quality innerspring crib mattress:

Colgate Sure Sleep Crib Innerspring Mattress

Colgate Sure Sleep Crib Innerspring Mattress

  • The total number and quality of layers in the mattress - Generally, the more layers the better.
  • The reputation of the actual mattress manufacturer (and not just the name on the label).
  • The reputation and quality of the retailer from whom you are buying the mattress.

The layers in an innerspring crib mattress are:

  • The innerspring unit - It is not just the number of coils that is important, but it is also the amount of steel. Buy a mattress with the thickest and greatest number of coils, but even more importantly, buy a mattress with an innerspring unit that has a border rod that adds firmness and extra edge support.
  • The insulator - This is the layer that prevents the soft cushioning layers from sinking into the coils. The best insulator is a coir fiber pad made from coconut shells. This is far superior to a fiber pad or cloth pad, especially over long term use. Besides the coir fiber pad, some better quality mattresses offer a permanent insulator that reduces the gap between the coils. Some mattresses offer two insulators.
  • Cushioning layers - These usually consist of one foam layer. Sometimes there are two layers of foam, and some manufacturers offer a layer of foam and a layer of 100% all natural cotton batting.
  • The cover - Triple layer nylon reinforced vinyl is the best.

Benefits: A little more give for comfort; thicker mattress, can upgrade to dual firmness

Price Points: From $169 to $189

Key Brands: SmartMomma recommends Colgate.

  • Organic (can be innerspring or not)


Organic mattresses, like all other certified products made with organic fiber and textiles, are certified under the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) In particular, the GOTS standard requires that all fiber and fabrics, with limited exceptions, must be made from certified materials that meet the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) standard and are processed in accordance with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). All other components (such as innersprings, fire protection, etc.) must meet stringent non-toxic standards.

What to look for in an organic mattress.

Priority #1: No harmful chemicals.

Priority #2: No allergenic materials.

Priority #3: Natural, organic and renewable materials wherever possible.

Priority #4: Practical design (e.g. easy-to-clean waterproof cover).

Priority #5: Third party independent testing and verification.

What is in a Naturepedic Organic Mattress?

  • Certified Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is the purest form of cotton, grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). In mattresses, organic cotton is a healthier alternative to foams (which are chemically treated) and latex (which is allergy-prone). Naturepedic uses only U.S. grown and certified organic cotton.
  • Food-Grade Polyethylene: The surface of every waterproof Naturepedic mattress is so pure you can eat on it. Polyethylene is an environmentally friendly plastic that is used throughout the food packaging industry for its purity and non-toxic properties. It has a very simple molecular structure that does not require chemical additives (as opposed to vinyl/PVC) and is favored by environmental groups all over the world. Naturepedic uses only polyethylene specially formulated to meet food contact standards, creating the finest non-toxic waterproof mattress surface available. Polyethylene is easy-to-clean and highly stain resistant while providing an excellent barrier to dust mites and other allergens. Does not contain any fire retardant chemicals or phthalates.
  • Steel Innerspring: Naturepedic uses only the highest quality innersprings available. Steel springs are readily recyclable and provide heavy duty support without any health or allergy concerns. Our flagship crib innerspring features 252 coils at 15.5 gauge with 9 gauge border wire. Our 150 coil innerspring features 13 gauge coils with 9 gauge border wire.
  • Wavesupport™ Lightweight Technology: Wavesupport is an exclusive Naturepedic innovation designed to provide exceptional support with about half the weight of an innerspring mattress (11 lbs instead of 22 lbs on average). Wavesupport is made from pure food grade polyethylene and makes changing sheets a breeze! Unlike most lightweight mattresses on the market, Wavesupport contains no polyurethane foam! Wavesupport also does not contain any fire retardant chemicals.
  • Fireproofing a Different Way: Organic cotton is a far superior filling material and is significantly less flammable to begin with, allowing for more creative solutions. Our exclusive fire protection system is based on the unique fire retardant properties of baking soda and hydrated silicy permanently bonded to cellulose. This results in an inherently flame resistant barrier that does not breakdown. The cellulose fiber used is derived primarily from eucalyptus and poplar trees and has a low carbon footprint. These materials provide the best way to meet fire regulations without the use of questionable chemicals or allergenic wool.

Naturepedic Organic Lightweight Mattress

Naturepedic Organic Lightweight Mattress

Different Types of Naturepedic Organic Mattresses: Innerspring, Lightweight

Benefits: No petroleum/fire proofing chemicals, natural but still conveniently waterproof, can upgrade to dual firmness

Price Points: From $259 to $399

Key Brands: SmartMomma recommends Naturepedic

Introducing…the SmartMomma Classroom - Classes for Baby and You!

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Ever since we have opened up our local store in Raleigh, NC, we have been asked by our customers to offer classes.  Classes for pregnancy, postnatal, baby, and toddler too!  We would like to announce that starting February 2011, we are rolling out classes for you!

Come into the store and ask about our FREE DEMO WEEK, FEB 5-12TH.  Demo a class for free!  Registration required.  New classes will be added every month.  Classes take place in a dedicated, private SmartMomma classroom.  Come visit us today, call us at 919-847-0024, or email us at customerservice@smartmomma.com for more information or to sign up for a FREE demo class.

These classes include:

Pre-Natal

Cloth Diapering Seminars: This cloth diapering seminar will set you on the path to picking the perfect diapers for your little one and properly using them.

*45 Minute Class, Monthly, Thursdays at 6:00 pm. Registration is Required.


Pre-Natal Yoga:
Prenatal Yoga is specifically designed to help prepare the body and mind for labor, birth and motherhood.
*Mondays & Saturdays, 10:00am - Six-Week Sessions. Multiple Sessions Available.

Post-Natal

Post-Natal Yoga Fusion: Postnatal Yoga Core Fusion is a reintroduction to a physical practice which utilizes poses that work to tone and strengthen the core.

*Mondays, 9:00am & Saturdays, 11:00am -Six-Week Sessions. Multiple Sessions Available.

Baby

Baby Sign Language: Using the BABY SIGNS® Program gives babies a way to “talk” with their parents before they can talk.

*90 Minute Class for Parents Only.  Multiple Sessions Available.

Mom & Baby Yoga: Non-Movers: This program is designed to benefit you and your baby. It will safely help you to regain your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, and develop inner and outer strength necessary in caring for your baby.

*Tuesdays, 10:15am - Six-Week Sessions. Multiple Sessions Available.

Mom & Baby Yoga: Movers: This program is designed to benefit you and your baby. You will learn to practice yoga with your baby, developing a closer bond in a comfortable, supportive environment.

*Tuesdays, 1:00pm - Six-Week Sessions. Multiple Sessions Available.

Toddler

Toddler Yoga - Preschool Yoga

Toddler Yoga - Preschool Yoga

Baby Signs Potty Party Parent Workshop: Using the BABY SIGNS® Program gives babies a way to “talk” with their parents before they can talk.

* 60 Minute Class for Parents Only. Multiple Sessions Available.

Toddler Yoga: Toddler yoga captures your child’s interest as they learn yoga through social interaction and play. In our classes we hop like frogs, roar like lions, soar like eagles, as we stretch, play and practice Yoga.

* Thursdays, 3:00pm - Six-Week Sessions. Multiple Sessions Available.

REGISTRATION WILL START ONLINE MONDAY, FEB 17th!

New classes will be added every month.  Classes take place in a dedicated, private SmartMomma classroom.  Come visit us today, call us at 919-847-0024, or email us at customerservice@smartmomma.com for more information or to sign up for a FREE demo class.

Some Interesting Ways to Use Rockin Green Detergent

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Recently, Rockin Green, a brand carried by SmartMomma, sent us a newsletter with some great tips and uses for their laundry detergent.  It was so interesting and insightful to us, that we wanted to share it with our customers, so here it goes!

ROCK YOUR LAUNDRY ROOM TIP OF THE MONTH!

What do you use Rockin’ Green for beyond cleaning your laundry and cloth diapers in the machine? We asked our Facebook fans and here’s what they had to say:

· Jamie Lynn G. uses it to steam clean her carpets

· Robyn L. uses it to soak dishtowels in the sink. “They come out super clean,” she says. “Rockin’ Green is miracle stuff.”

· Heidi M. soaks her dish rack in Rockin’ Green to bust away all the icky soap scum.

· Diane T. sprinkles Rockin’ Green on her toilets before swishing them.

· Amy K. rocks a soak with her sheets.

· Kellie B. used it once to get red fingernail polish out of her white carpet and it worked!

· Samara Q. uses it on nearly everything in her house - carpets, as dishwasher detergent and as a stain remover for just about anything – bathroom, mirrors, counters, diapers, floors. She has even made a paste with Rockin’ Green and water for shining her appliances before her family comes over, and she got the hard water off her spray hose and showerhead in the bathroom.

· Liz F. uses it to get out dog urine from the carpet and walls, as well as spit up from baby and dog on the carpet and the couch.

· Amy P. rocks the soak with her husband’s military uniforms.

· Amy K. took off the covers from her couch cushions and rocked the soak. “I was shocked that they looked like new,” she says.

· Heather W. uses it to get out dirt from the grout in her tile floors.

· Alison B. uses it as jewelry cleaner.

5 QUESTIONS WITH A ROCKIN’ GREEN GROUPIE

Name: Tabitha Spivey
City: Manchester, TN
Age: 25
Children: Gage, 1 year old boy

1.  What is your favorite scent to rock out to?

Rage Against the Raspberries!

2.  What has Rockin’ Green helped you do?

Get rid of stink!  I was having serious stink problems in my dipes until I started using Rockin’ Green 3 months ago.

3. What was your first rock concert? What was memorable about it?

98 Degrees!  I was desperately in love with Nick Lachey.  I had a poster on my wall of him that I kissed on a daily basis!

4. If you were a rock star, what diva demand would you make?

Pedicures every single day!  LOVE pedis and I can’t ever afford them!

5. What is one gadget you can’t live without?

My DVR!  I’d miss every show I love without it.

Lastly, tell us your best washing tip

Two things that have worked great for me is sunning my diapers for stains and doing a wash cycle of warm pre-rinse, hot wash, normal rinse, extra rinse.  Haven’t had a stink issue since doing that and using my Rockin’ Green!

NOTE TO SMARTMOMMAS EVERYWHERE:  YOU CAN FIND ROCKIN GREEN DETERGENT AT SMARTMOMMA, IN-STORE OR ONLINE!

What Makes a Convertible Car Seat Safe?

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I felt like writing this post today, because of my history in the education of car seats.  This past week, another manufacturer issued a safety recall of car seats, and it got me thinking.  “I wish all parents knew what really makes a car seat safe”.

Like most parents, when I had my first son, we just figured, “what’s the difference?  I’m sure if the US government approves of a manufactured car seat sold in the US, then it’s safe.  Why not get a less expensive seat and save the money?  I mean, would the US government really allow an unsafe seat on the market?”  So, I went to Wally World and bought an inexpensive convertible car seat.

After a couple of years, as we developed SmartMomma, I noticed that not all car seats are created equally.  Here I was with a plastic car seat with no EPS-lined foam on the sides, so that if there was an impact, my child’s head would be protected by a flimsy shield of plastic, about as thick as a frisbee.  Not good… This brings me to Point 1.

  • Car seat must be lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam.

This absorbs some of the energy of an impact and helps to protect the side of your child’s head and body from the impact with the side of the seat or foreign object when in a side-impact crash.

Another problem I had was that I could literally NOT install the seat by myself.  Who knew that inexpensive seat meant difficult, if not impossible, to install tightly and easily enough for a typical mom, who does not have the strength of her husband to tug and tug tight enough for the seat not to move around.

Here is a rule of thumb.  A car seat should not move more than one inch after installed.  If it moves more than that, it is not safe.  This would not be that big of a deal, except when I moved my car seat to my mom’s car, or if I needed to wash the cover because my son threw up in the car, I could literally not go anywhere all day until my husband got home and installed the stupid seat.   It was pathetic that I could not do this myself, but seriously, I would pull and pull and it would move about 2-3 inches, not nearly good enough.  Now I’m a busy mom, so I can’t just sit around waiting for my husband, so that seat just had to go.

That brings me to point 2 and the most important thing to look for in choosing a car seat is:

  • Car seat MUST be easy to install.

If the car seat is not easy to install and the instructions/design of the seat is not intuitive, chances are you will install it incorrectly.  That is not your fault as a parent, as much as it is the manufacturer.  Now I have a great seat, that I can install without the help of my husband.  It’s just two clicks, a knee in the seat and a couple of tugs and it’s in!

One of our manufacturer reps was in the store today to show us the difference between two competing well-known manufacturers and what makes their seats different, and I noticed another important point to look for.

  • Solid steel-enforced foundation

Most car seats are reinforced with plastic.  YES, PLASTIC!  This flimsy material is no match for maintaining the integrity of a car seat during a crash and therefore, cannot by itself thoroughly protect your child’s body.

This steel or magnesium foundation could be a steel bar, magnesium shell, or steel shell (even better).

A bit of trivia.  What part of your child’s body is most likely to be hurt in an automobile crash?

You guessed it!  The head!  How can we better protect this vital part of your child’s body?  An interesting fact was brought up to our store from one of our manufacturers.  They talked to the ER staff of major hospitals around the USA and found that the government standards were not protecting a child’s head from hitting the back of the front seat in a head-on or rear collision.  This resulted in an increase of head injuries that were entirely preventable with the right car seat and the right amount of tension in the harness.  A lot of this is user error, or with some great add-ons from manufacturers.  This includes tangle free harnesses, easy to tighten belts, and one manufacturer even offers “Click-Safe” technology, which produces an audible clicking noise when the harness is tight enough on your child, which brings me to another feature to look for.

  • Tangle-free, easy to tighten harnesses

When you do choose your seat, also make sure that you are tightening that harness so that there is no slack in the shoulder nor hip area of the child.  Your child may complain, but you are protecting your child when you make sure the harness is at the proper tightness.

While we are talking about head safety, we have one more area that you should consider when buying your child a convertible car seat in relation to safety.  That is the extra side impact protection head piece.  Some examples of these models include the Britax Boulevard or Advocate, Recaro ProSport or ProRide, and the Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL.  It is my opinion that paying a little bit more and getting these models over the less expensive models offered by the same manufacturers really does make a difference with side impact.

To illustrate this point, check out this quick Sunshine Kids Radian XT crash video, which clearly shows the extra side impact wings/head piece cradles the head and gives extra protection that would not be there without the wings.

SUNSHINE KIDS RADIAN XT CRASH TEST VIDEO

As a retailer, I did not push the importance of the side head protection on my customers until I saw this video.  Many parents are worried that this blocks the view of their child and they won’t be able to see as well.  As a mom, I can certainly see the point, but I must say, both of my boys were upgraded to these seats and they have never complained; and I feel better knowing that they have this extra safety, and that means piece of mind for me.  My older son, Dillon, seemed to sit forward for the first couple of days in the car seat, as if to see better, but then quickly got used to the change.  Your child will sit in whatever seat you get for them, and in relation to their ultimate safety, this point of not being able to see as well, seems unimportant.  Most children don’t even notice a difference, and if you are moving them from an infant carrier, it is virtually no difference at all in relation to the view.   So the last important point…

  • Extra Side impact HEAD protection that goes beyond the sides of the seat: a head piece lined in EPS foam

Well, I hope that this guide helps you make a decision about what car seat to go with for your child.  I encourage you to go to your local independent juvenile retailer to explore all the different options, and to help you choose the absolute right seat for you.  These stores are the ones with the knowledge and the options, and most of the owners are parents themselves.

I hope you walk away from this blog post empowered to choose the right car seat for your most precious cargo; your child.  We all want the best for our children, and want our kids to be safe.  Happy Travels!

I leave you with more crash test videos.

RECARO CRASH TEST VIDEO



BRITAX CRASH TEST VIDEO

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