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The Benefits of Babywearing

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

October is SIDS Awareness Month

October 27th, 2011

Aden & Anais wrote a great article with some informative links to make you aware of SIDS and SIDS Awareness Month (October).  I thought I would pass it on to you guys.

When talking about SIDS, it is important to understand that nothing can be done to prevent SIDS, however parents and care givers can reduce SIDS risk factors.  On October 18, 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out with an updated study about SIDS risk factors; click her to view the full study. Take note of the following risk factors:

Room-sharing without bed-sharing
You’ve probably heard statements such as, “We shared our bed with our children and nothing happened”. However, there is a surplus of research that shows bed sharing with an infant is dangerous.  There is NO research that shows bed sharing reduces the risk of SIDS.  Here is a link to over 20 research studies that have shown a direct link between bed sharing and infant death (you must be signed in to Facebook to view the studies).  In the October 18th study, the AAP stated “The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).”

Always place baby on his or her back for every sleep time.
Since the AAP recommended that all babies should be placed on their backs to sleep in 1992, deaths from SIDS have declined dramatically.  This rule still holds true today.  Keep in mind that swaddling a newborn helps to keep them on their backs while sleeping, however if baby is old enough to turn over, they should no longer be swaddled.  Instead consider a sleeping bag or sleep sack.

Remove all lose bedding, bumpers and toys from the crib.
According to the AAP, there is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.   For warmth and comfort consider a wearable blanket such as the aden + anais® classic and cozy sleeping bags.  Sleeping bags eliminate the need for loose blankets in the crib.

Don’t let baby get too hot.
Overheating is a SIDS risk factor.  Many people think that babies need to be bundled with hats and blankets.  Dress your baby in as much or as little clothing as you would wear.  Keep in mind that the AAP recommends that while baby is sleeping, room temperature should be comfortable for a lightly clothed adult or approximately 61-67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Support SIDS research every month and remember that a portion of all aden + anais® swaddles and sleeping bags go to the CJ Foundation for SIDS.  Learn more about risk factors or print a down-loadable PDF with safe sleep tips.

How To Choose a Crib Mattress for Baby

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

First Day of School

August 25th, 2011

How many of you sent your kids off to school today?  I sent a 2nd grader and a Kindergartner to Leesville Elementary SchoDillon's First Day of 2nd Gradeol, and I was so excited for them (and for me, LOL!).  I thought I was beyond this, since Peyton has been in daycare since he was 10 months, but I did have a tear or two in my eyes when I had to leave my little 5-year old in that great big school.  I was on pins and needles all day wondering how everything went.  Were they happy?  Were they scared or nervous?  Am I going to get a call from the Principal saying that my child is too young to go to school?  (He’s just so little).  Peyton was in true

form, as we waited in the Kindergarten registration line, making faces and licking my hand just to push my buttons.  But he was quiet, and when he got his nametag, was the first kid that said “Thank you” to the lady.  At least he got that right!  LOL!

In all seriousness, moms, they grow up fast!  So, if you still have a baby or are expecting a baby, enjoy every day, every step, every stage.  They are all equally awesome.  I remember hearing this saying.  You don’t own your kids.  They are on loan to you for 18 years.  Enjoy the short time you have.  I am one of those people that is always looking forward, and I have to remind myself to live in the moment.  I hope you remember to live in the moment, and I will try to follow my own advice as well.

Motherhood, Pregnancy, and the Future

August 10th, 2011

Hello fellow moms and moms-to-be.  I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve been so busy running a store and being pregnant, I have forgotten to write.  So just wanted to share some late night thoughts and reflections about life, motherhood, and just being present.

So for those that don’t know, I have two boys, just turned 5 and 8.  Seems crazy to think I have an eight-year old.  I remember moving into this neighborhood when I was pregnant with Dillon.  The neighbors had children from 3 to 9, and I remember thinking how far apart we were in life.  Now I realize we were not so far apart at all.  After having children, your life speeds up exponentially.  Is it because you are busier, and thus time flies?  Or is it because you are older?  I think the former is true.

Once you are caught up in bathing, feeding, dressing, teaching, cleaning, and nurturing your child, the months just fly by.  The first sense of this comes the first time you have to put away your baby’s newborn clothes that he has outgrown, and you think, “Oh, he’s growing too fast.”  Before you know it, you have a second grader coming home to you, doing “armpit farts” and laughing hysterically at your “OMG” reaction.  Just wait!  It will happen to you sooner or later.

So after giving away all of our baby stuff, imagine our surprise when we find out we are pregnant again last April.  I must say that I was perhaps a bit pleasantly surprised.  I found myself excited and a bit apprehensive.  Will this one be a boy too?  Or dare I say a little girl that I have always wanted?

As time passed, I talked myself into thinking this was another boy, and surprisingly, I was very content with this possibility.  I love my boys dearly, and to me, there is nothing sweeter than another little baby boy.  So as the weeks have passed, we even picked out a name for our new son, “Luke”.  Funny enough, no girl names appealed to us.  My relatives told me I was going to have a girl, but I just laughed them off, and said, “No, no.  It will be another boy.”

So last week, we went to have the ultrasound done, and I brought my boys, DIllon, Peyton, and my husband BIll.  It took the tech about 15 minutes to get a clear shot, as we really have an active little one who did not want to stay still.  Finally, she said she got a clear shot.  She said, “Are you ready?” and I looked and knew already, but didn’t dare say it out loud.  There was something missing from this picture that I normally see, and my boys were not shy with their ultrasounds.  As soon as shy typed the “G”, tears sprang to my eyes.  “It’s a girl!”  I was so excited, as my dream nursery sprung to my mind.  Then the thoughts of all the future tea parties, barbie doll playing, dressing up and painting our nails together, going shopping, and just doing girl stuff popped in my mind.

As soon as the excitement wore off a little bit, that’s when I thought of all the responsibility being a mom to a girl will be.  I have to make sure she turns out to be a confident, smart, happy, and independent woman.  I am her role model.  I would rather her rescue the prince than be rescued.  Sure I’ll let her play princess, but I will always remind her that she must rescue herself.  She must take control of her own life to surely be happy.

Having a girl makes me nervous, but at least I don’t have to make the circumcision decision.  Am I right?

Heather from Smartmomma reviews the Ju Ju Be BFF Diaper Bag

May 12th, 2011

Heather reviews the different features and benefits of owning the Ju Ju Be BFF Diaper Bag.

Smartmomma.com gives an overview of Pocket Diapers

May 12th, 2011

Heather from Smartmomma goes gives an overview of Pocket Diapers. Rumparooz One Size Diapers, Fuzzi Bunz One Size Pocket Diapers, and bumGenius 4.0 One Size Cloth Diapers are discussed.

Heather from Smartmomma goes over All In One Cloth Diapers

April 29th, 2011

Heather talks about the features and benefits of All In One Cloth Diapers. Bum Genius Organic One Size All In One Diapers and Bummis Easy Fit Diapers are discussed.

Heather from Smartmomma reviews the Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack!

April 28th, 2011

Heather goes over the various features of the Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack diaper bag.

Heather talks about the secrets of Cloth Diapers and Poop

April 22nd, 2011

Heather from Smartmomma discusses the use of diaper liners and diaper sprayers, which make dealing with poop and cloth diapers much easier!

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