Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Emily Deschanel Has a Baby Boy [People]

List of Ingredients in Breastmilk and Formula [BabyFriendly]

Top 100 American companies for working mothers [SeattlePI]

Stem cell patch could save thousands of pregnancies [DailyMail]

Child-trafficking reports shake adoptive parents [SeattleTimes]

Swedish daycare centers use GPS systems to track children [WashPo]

Baby Costumes for Those Who Read and Those Who Game [Babble]

Nine Meatless Months [FitPregnancy]

The Evolution Of The Stroller [Babble]

Purchase a Baby Sling for Under $20

Seven Slings is holding a huge sale on their baby slings right now, taking 25% off their most popular designs. In addition, if you add a promo code sent out by, you can purchase a sling for the price of the shipping (about $15). The code is FAMILY2011. It can be used more than once, but you may need to switch browsers in order to complete a second order.

Shop here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Installing Car Seats for Babies

Finding the right car seat and installing it properly can be overwhelming to any new parent. Car accidents are the leading cause of death in 2-14 year-old children. Most of these deaths are attributed to the improper use of child seats and seat belts. Reports show that 80% of children aren't properly secured in the car. For the sake of your child, it's important for you to know that you've done everything you can to ensure that they are safe.

Infants need a rear-facing carseat until they are at least two-years-old. Keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible because it is the safest place in an accident. Convertible seats have higher weight limits and can be used rear-facing and forward-facing. Once the child’s head is less than 1” from the top of the seat, they need to be put in a new seat.

You only have a couple choices in rear-facing seats: infant-only and convertible. Sometimes a preemie will need a crash-tested car bed (consult your doctor before leaving the hospital if you have a preemie). Infant-only seats often come with a base that they easily click into. They come with a carrying handle and are fairly small. They usually hold a max of 22 pounds. Convertible seats can be used rear-facing and forward-facing and have higher weight limits than infant-only. They are bulky and don’t have a handle, nor do they click into a base. They come with two types of harnesses: 5-point harness and overhead shield. The five-point harnesses are preferred by safety experts. If you use a convertible seat for a newborn, avoid one with a padded shield because they don’t fit properly.

Once you’ve purchased a carseat, read the installation directions that come with your vehicle and the car seat. After installing the seat, visit a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station to verify correct installation. Always put a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. The safest place to put the car seat is in the center of the back seat  because it has the least chance of impact. The lowest slots on the car seat should be used for the straps when dealing with an infant. The seat should be tilted at a 45 degree angle to allow the infant to sit back without their head flopping forward. Most seats come with an angle-adjustment mechanism, but if you don’t have one, use a tightly rolled towel, pool noodles (up to 3 in a triangle formation can be used) or other firm padding to prop the bottom of the car seat up. If the car seat touches the back of the car’s front seat, check the car seat manual to see if it’s safe or not.

Once you have the car seat at the right angle and in the proper location, pull the seatbelt out as far as you can before threading it through the holes in the car seat. To make sure your seat belt locks, pull the shoulder strap all the way out and then slowly let it click back about 12 inches, then pull on it. If you’re seat belt does not lock, you will need a heavy duty locking clip from the car’s manufacturer. To make sure it’s tight, push the seat down with your weight as you tighten the belt and make sure the seat belt locks.  Check how tightly the seat is installed by trying to move it side to side and forward, if the belts loosen more than an inch, than the child is not safe and you should try another position in the car. It is safe for the top of the seat to move towards the back of the car, this is called “rebounding” in the case of an accident.

There are two devices that lock a seat belt - seat belt retractors and latch plates. Seat belt retractors can lock when you come to a sudden stop, be locked all the time when pulled out (some can do both) and some lock if the belt is at the correct angle against the car seat. There are three types of latch plates. Lightweight latch plates lock when they are flat against the seat belt but will move when they are at a 90 degree angle, locking latch plates are usually on lap-only belts and are always locked, switchable latch plates have a switch that must be flipped to ensure that it is locked (common in Volvos), and a sewn-on latch plate is where the lap belt and the shoulder belt are sewn on separately to the latch plate. When dealing with a sewn-on latch plate, check the lap belt, if it does not lock you will need a heavy-duty locking clip from the car manufacturer.
Newer cars need few add-ons for safe car-seat installation. Cars made after 1996 are all required to have seat belts that tighten around safety seats. Older cars may require locking clips, which often come with the car seat. Cars with seat belts attached to the doors will need “attaching belts” installed by the car’s manufacturer. The only safe way to shorten a belt is to use a car manufacturer’s heavy duty locking clip. If you have a pick-up truck, the car seat must be in the back and the back of the car seat must be 80% on the back seat. If you have side-airbags, read your car’s manual about safely installing a car seat.

Cars made after 2003 have a LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system which helps to make installation easier. The LATCH system removes the need to use seatbelts and provides hooks instead with a forward and rear facing path. If you use the LATCH system, do not use the seatbelt. Lower LATCH anchors might have weight limits (usually 40 or 48 pounds). Unless the car’s manual specifically states otherwise, the LATCH system should not be used in the center seat. Most car seats come with a LATCH tether strap which stops the child’s head from being forced forward in the event of a crash. There are kits available if you have an older car without a tether strap anchor and some car manufacturers will install an anchor for the tether strap for free.

Once you put the baby in the seat use one finger (index for women, pinky for men) to measure how tight the straps are around the shoulder. The straps should go around the strong parts of the body; namely the shoulders and hips. The chest clip should be near the armpit, which ensures that the shoulder straps are in the right position. If you want to cover the child with a blanket, do so after securing them in the car seat. Bulky clothing can cause the harness to be too loose. If the baby slumps: place a rolled-up diaper or cloth between the legs, behind the crotch strap. For preemies who need a car bed use tightly rolled towels to keep the head from flopping side to side.

When buying a car seat, you’ll want one to fit your individual needs. Check the buckle release and snap in the store, try changing the straps, and try it in your car. Make sure seats with a tray shield will work if you have a low ceiling in the car. Used seats are fine as long as they are not cracked, older than six-years-old, missing a label with the model and manufacturer, have no instructions, are missing parts, were recalled or were involved in a moderate to severe crash. If the seat was involved in a crash where the car could drive away after, the passengers were not injured, or the air bags did not go off, then it’s able to be used. Make sure you send in the registration card that you receive with a new car seat, this allows manufacturers to contact you if there is a recall.

Have you had your car seat installation inspected by a technician?

To find a car seat technician near you:
866/SEATCHECK (866/732-8243)

For car seat ratings, to locate a fitting station or find up to date information on car seats:

Car Safety Seats: Information for Families for 2011 [HealthyChildren]
Car Seat Mistakes [KeepKidsHealthy]
How to protect newborns in the car [KeepKidsHealthy]
Car Seat Safety Guide [KeepKidsHealthy]
Do You Need a Locking Clip? [Carseatsite]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Joy After Twins Joined At Head Are Separated [SkyNews]

A Sneak Peek Into Melanie Brown's Chic Antique Nursery [lilsugar]

7 Must-Reads for Dads-to-Be [Parents]

Create A One-of-a-Kind Pregnancy Journal [Babble]

Playing in the grass may ease ADHD [MSNBC]

10 Horrible Things Your Baby Does in Public [Babble]

Mother With Two Wombs Has Twins [MedicalNewsToday]

Breast Milk Antibody Fights HIV but Needs Boost [ScienceDaily]

Learning to see: How vision sharpens [CNN]

Fatty Acids Could Boost Brain Development

Recent studies add more merit to the claim that long-chain fatty acids can boost the mental development of infants and toddlers. One study found that the positive effects could be found all the way up to the age of 10, regardless of whether the children were breastfed or formula fed.

Two studies, one in Spain and another in the UK, found that polyunsaturated fatty acids such as DHA were linked to greater mental development in children. The UK study found that of 107 preterm babies, the group that received fatty acids in fortified formula or through breast milk exhibited significant cognitive advantages over the placebo group, particularly among the girls. The study completed in Spain studied 500 children who were breastfed for approximately 14 months. The levels of fatty acids in the mothers' colostrum were recorded and by the end of 14 months, the scientists found a positive correlation between fatty acids and cognitive development.

Formulas are often fortified with DHA and other polyunsaturated fatty acids due to previous evidence that they are necessary for brain development. Fatty acids naturally appear in breast milk. They are easy to add to your diet through the consumption of flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, salmon and many other types of fish.

Does your infant receive some form of polyunsaturated fatty acids?

Can Fatty Acids in Breast Milk or Formula Make Kids Smarter? [USNews]
omega-3 fatty acids [WHFoods]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pregnancy, The Video Game

There have been many attempts to somehow relate the experience of being pregnant to other people, particularly to a pregnant woman's partner. Pregnancy suits, weighted strap-on bellies and many other devices have been cooked up in the past few years. Finally, some developers out of Tokyo have created a pregnancy video game, complete with a simulation pregnancy suit.

You start playing Mommy Tummy by strapping on a velcro vest that comes equipped with an umbilical cord and a maternity dress. The beginning of the game reveals the player's growing baby, as the breasts begin to expand with warm water and a small motor provides the sensation of the changes. Then the belly begins to expand and a motor simulates a baby's kicks and the heartbeat. The game then becomes more interactive. Players can jump up and down and the baby will react with angry kicking and punching. Rubbing the belly will calm the baby down. Players are challenged to pick up objects off the floor with the approximately 20 lb.belly intact. Players are given a final score based on the baby's overall mood.

Out of all the methods that have been used to help an unsympathetic partner better understand pregnancy, a video game with a suit seems like the most efficient to date. What do you think?

Do you think this game would help a partner understand what it feels like to be pregnant?

TGS: Strap on a Pregnancy Vest in Mommy Tummy [1up]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Probiotics May Lower Risk of Preeclampsia

Probiotics, often referred to as "the good bacteria," are being touted for their healthy affects during pregnancy once again. Researchers recently discovered that women who consumed probiotic-rich foods regularly were less likely to develop preeclampsia during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia develops in approximately five percent of pregnancies and is characterized by a sudden rise in blood pressure after the 20th week. It is one of leading causes of maternal and infant illness and death. Researchers reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology that among 33,000 Norwegian women who gave birth over a period of six years, there was a 20% reduced risk of developing preeclampsia if the women regularly consumed probiotic-rich milk or yogurt everyday during their pregnancies. After factoring in lifestyle factors such as smoking and weight, the reduction could still be attributed to consumption of probiotics.

Dr. Bo Jacobson, a researcher involved in the study, noted that the findings are not conclusive and that more research is needed. He also cautioned against dietary changes in the hopes of staving off preeclampsia, a condition that has no known cause. Nevertheless, probiotics have been proven to be safe during pregnancy, whether they are ingested through probiotic-rich foods or in supplement form. Probiotics are often used as digestive aids and have been proven to help ward off vaginal infections. They are often recommended after taking a course of antibiotics, in order to restore bacterial balance in the body.

Do you take any probiotics?

Preeclampsia [PregnancyWeekly]
Probiotics tied to lower risk of pregnancy problem [Reuters]
Taking probiotics during pregnancy [NIH]

Emily Deschanel Dishes on Birth Plans

The star of the TV hit series Bones, Emily Deschanel (34), is expecting her first child with husband David Hornsby. She opened up to Fit Pregnancy for their November print issue. In the interview, she dishes on eating vegan throughout her pregnancy, her all natural birth plan and more.

How are you feeling?
I really like being pregnant. Not that there aren't things I don't love, but when I think about what my body is doing - creating a child - it just blows my mind. I'm in awe of the process and science. And seeing my belly move is pretty amazing; it's like in the movie Alien. I knew about the kicks but never expected somersaults.

What has been most challenging for you?
The fatigue is the hardest part. We work 14 to 16 hour days and, for the first trimester, we weren’t telling people about the pregnancy, so it was hard. Now it’s just things like putting on shoes, getting up off the ground. It’s comical.

You’re a committed vegan. Has keeping up that way of eating been a challenge?
I don’t think it’s any more challenging for me than for anyone else. You have to make sure you get all those essential nutrients. The real challenge for a vegan is getting vitamin b12, and omega-3s, but you can get those in a vegetarian supplement. I’ve increased my protein intake with beans and brown rice, and shakes made with almond milk and hemp powder. The funny this is, I love kale and always used to put it in my breakfast shakes, but for some reason I can’t stand it right now.

Any cravings?
Lemonade! I want it all the time. That and grapefruit. Those cravings I indulge. But I also crave chocolate all the time, and I try to ignore that.

What kind of prenatal exercise do you do?
I’m still Spinning and doing yoga - right now it’s a prenatal yoga DVD I do at home - but I really love classes. I like the music and the motivation you get from the people in class with you. And I’m walking a lot these days.

How do you plan to balance motherhood with your busy life?
I have no idea, but I’m lucky because I’ll have a nanny and I’ll also be able to bring the baby to work. Otherwise I’d never seen him or her.

Will you breastfeed?
Absolutely, for a year, maybe longer. I'm a total hippie, so we will co-sleep and breastfeed. My mom breastfed me for more than a year, and I can't imagine doing it any other way. It's cheap and much better for the environment, and you don't have to lug all that stuff around. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but I'm determined, even if it's hard at first.

What are your plans for the birth?
We've been taking HypnoBirthing classes, and I plan to do that. David will be with me, and also a doula.

What is the best piece of advice you can give other first-timers?
It's kind of ironic, because you do get so much advice, but someone told me: Trust your instincts. I love that.

Emily Deschanel in Fit pregnancy magazine! [LiveJournal]