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Health and Wellness for the Whole Family

Studies Show That Natural Ingredients Can Help With Colic

A new study which was published on March 28, 2011 in Pediatrics online magazine shows that in clinical trials, relief of colic was seen with fennel extract, herbal tea and sugar water. 

Although it is reported that the trials do have limitations (i.e. too few patients or not being double blinded) pediatricians agree that these natural ingredients are safe to give to babies, so there is no harm in doctors recommending them.

An article in U.S. News quotes, “”It’s reasonable for parents to consider those kinds of interventions for which there is some suggestion of benefit but no known risks,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.”

Colic causes misery for both parents and babies alike, yet researchers have Continue reading

Diastasis–Do You Have One?

Before a diastasis.

After a diastasis.

For those of us who have been pregnant, we are all too familiar with the stretching of our tummies, and the “pooch” that seems to want to stick around for months after giving birth. Eager to lose the pregnancy pounds and get our flat belly back, most of us will jump right into doing sit-ups, without giving it a second thought. However, we do need to think about it as this is one of the worst things we could do to our stomach. Why? Chances are you have a diastasis–an uncommon word for a very common problem with women who have been pregnant. What exactly is a diastasis, and how can it be healed? The Colic Calm Journal turned to Lynn Leech, PT, from Intuitive Hands Physical Therapy and a Women’s Health specialist who teaches how women can restrengthen their abdominal muscles, get rid of their “Pooch” and help cure a Diastasis Recti.

Can you explain what exactly diastasis is? And what causes it?

The Rectus Abdominus muscle has two sets of muscle fibers that run up and down from the sternum, or chest plate, down to the pubic bone. They are separated by a connective tissue called the linea alba. During pregnancy as the uterus expands these muscle bellies can become separated and the connective tissue between them stretched thin to make room for the uterus.  This separation is Continue reading

What is Craniosacral Therapy and How Does it Help with Colic?

Craniosacral therapy–it’s a mouthful, and if you’re like most people, you may have no idea what it is. But, for those of you with a colicky baby, tune in, because it could help your child.

Wikipedia defines craniosacral therapy as, “Craniosacral therapy (also called CST, also spelled CranioSacral bodywork or therapy) is an alternative medicine therapy used by osteopaths, massage therapists, naturopaths, and chiropractors. A craniosacral therapy session involves the therapist placing their hands on the patient, which allows them to tune into what they call the craniosacral rhythm. The practitioner claims to gently work with the spine and the skull and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia. In this way, the restrictions of nerve passages are said to be eased, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord is said to be optimized, and misaligned bones are said to be restored to their proper position.”

In layman’s terms–trauma in a person’s life can cause the cerebrospinal fluid to be blocked–craniosacral therapy, through gentle massage and touch, can release it. Although craniosacral therapy can be performed on people of all ages, it’s especially useful for babies because it’s non-invasive. Continue reading

Mommy Brain = A Better Brain

bonding with baby, benfits of breastfeeding, mommy brain, American Psychological Association, high-resolution magnetic-resonance imaging, Yale-New Haven Hospital, gray matter,post-partum depression,Yes, we’ve all heard and (most-likely) used the term, “mommy brain.” You know, when you’re toting around a newborn and do things like lock the keys in the car, drive away with your precious coffee ON TOP your car, or leave the dog tied in front of the store (yes, this actually happened to a friend of mine). We laugh and blame it on our Mommy Brain, but, new research shows that Mommy Brain is a good thing.

The article, which is on the American Psychological Association’s website, states that, “The researchers performed baseline and follow-up high-resolution magnetic-resonance imaging on the brains of 19 women who gave birth at Yale-New Haven Hospital, 10 to boys and nine to girls. A comparison of images taken two to four weeks and three to four months after the women gave birth showed that gray matter volume increased by a small but significant amount in various parts of the brain. In adults, gray matter volume doesn’t ordinarily change over a few months without significant learning, brain injury or illness, or major environmental change.” How’s that for coolness?

So what triggers this growing? Bonding with your baby. The study showed that those women who were happy, and “blissed out” with their new little bundle of joy had more significant brain growth. All the women in the study were breastfeeding, and none suffered from real postpartum depression. But for those moms who are unable to nurse, such things as skin-to-skin contact, lots of cuddling, and any other forms of constant contact also helped.

To further this finding, the doctors now plan to be studying adoptive mothers and their new babies–to see if the adoptive parents’ brains are growing as well. Which would mean that the actual act of giving birth isn’t needed in order to connect with a baby–something dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles already know.

Sneaky Food Tricks

smoothie, sneaky food tricks, cooking for your child, making sure your child gets enough vegentables, healthy eating, easy recipes, easy cooking, recipes with hidden vegetablesParenting comes with all sorts of worries–“Will I raise my child to be a responsible citizen?” “Will I have the playground bully?” “Am I disciplining my child the right way?” But, believe it or not, one worry that consumed me was, “Is my child getting enough vegetables–and is he getting a big enough variety of them?” I always feel as if my family eats healthy enough, but when my first-born was a baby, I felt that all he was eating was peas. Peas are great and all, but do they have all the nutrients he needed? I doubted it.

So, I got creative. Luckily, I love to cook, and I’m not afraid of experimentation. I have found the following to work well–and, since they are used in packaged foods, it makes it all the more easy.

Cauliflower, spinach, and sweet potato all make great sneaky additions.

Pureed Cauliflower:
Cut up a head of cauliflower and then steam. You know it’s done when a fork easily pokes in. Put the steamed pieces in a food processor or blender, with about half a cup of the water that was used in the steaming. Blend until smooth.

Puree can be stored in a airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days, or pour into Ziploc bags and freeze. If using frozen purees, just put the Ziploc bag in a bowl of hot water and it will defrost.

Spinach: I use fresh, and chop it up, or frozen chopped spinach works as well.

Sweet Potato: I usually use canned and make it easy on myself. But, you can also use a fresh sweet potato: Bake at 350 degrees until soft. Scoop out pulp and then put in food processor or blender, add a half cup water. Blend until smooth.

Now, here are three recipes that you can use these purees in:

1) Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

Yes, I said Kraft. Make your macaroni as usual, and when you blend in the cheese packet, milk and butter, add the pureed cauliflower as well. Heat it up a bit if it’s coming out of the fridge. For even more veggies, pour some frozen peas in with the boiling noodles just before they are done.

2) Campbell’s Soup

Take your child’s favorite flavor (Cars, Buzz Lightyear, Princess–you get the idea) and pour into the pan. Add the sweet potato puree, and water (if soup can says it needs it). Stir it up as it heats, and wah-la–healthier soup. For even more veggies, add some frozen peas and/or chopped up carrots (carrots should cook through as soup heats up).

3) Smoothie

This is great for the spinach or the cauliflower–the kiddos never realize it’s in there.

Ingredients: (you can use all of the fruit listed, or a combination of it)

  • 4 strawberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • handful of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of juice (orange works best)
  • 1/2 cup of yogurt (I like vanilla) — optional
  • Veggies: handful of fresh spinach leaves, or 1/2 cup of frozen spinach. Or, 1/4 cup of cauliflower puree
  • 4 ice cubes

Put all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth. I usually serve in cups with lids and straws so the kids don’t see the green color of the smoothie.

Enjoy! And have fun being your child’s sneaky chef!

Sleep Positioners are a No-No

In case you haven’t read the news in the last week (you poor, sleep deprived you), sleep positioners have been declared a no-no. They’re often used to  keep baby on their back while sleeping, thus preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but evidence is showing the contrary. According to the NY Times, the positioners have, “led 12 children to suffocate in the past 13 years and should no longer be used,” said FDA officials.

Sleep positioners usually come in two different varieties: Continue reading

Bottled Water: Do We Need It?

My family is a household of bottled water drinkers. Although we’re adamant about using reusable water bottles (recently, we had three cases of 12 ounce bottles delivered to us as a promo and it was embarrassing to see so much plastic on our doorstep), we do get the eight gallon jugs delivered for our water cooler. I don’t know why this came to be–perhaps college–the water from our taps was awful. Dirty and chalky tasting, we did anything to avoid drinking it. Whatever the reason, today I am a bottled water drinker. So, when I came across an article which stated that Americans drink way too much bottled water (something that’s easily Continue reading

Do You Know What’s in Your Baby’s Bath Products?

Bath mohawks are all fun and games until you find out you could be exposing your kids to carcinogens.

Each day, as I research different topics to write about for the Colic Calm Journal, I stumble upon hundreds of different sites, touting a mass array of information that can be mind blowing. Case in point–today I read about contaminants in bath products. Now, I don’t live in a cave. Not only am I the Editor of this site, but I also co-run a site for moms called Breezy Mama and thus, I feel like I do a pretty good job in keeping up with what’s safe for baby. So when I clicked on the Contaminants in Bath Products link, I was expecting the usual, “stay away from parabens” spiel that is about as common as BPA-Free. Instead, I read about “hidden carcinogens” and DID feel like I’d been living in a cave.

It turns out that many of the bath products you probably use (Johnson and Johnson’s for goodness sake!) have two known carcinogens, 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, in them. Manufacturers are using these ingredients in products meant for babies, who are 100 times more sensitive than adults. Organic Consumers.org claims that the industry could easily take out these known carcinogens, if they just made the effort to do so. It’s sickening.

You may be asking why bath products contain these ingredients in the first place. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics breaks it down like this, “1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethyoxylation, which involves using ethylene oxide (a known breast carcinogen) to process other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. For example, sodium laurel sulfate – notoriously harsh on the skin – is often converted to the gentler chemical sodium laureth sulfate by processing it with ethylene oxide (the “eth” denotes ethoxylation), which can result in 1,4-dioxane contamination.

Sodium laureth sulfate is just one common example. More than 56 cosmetic ingredients are associated with the contaminant 1,4-dioxane.”

I need to pay attention to what I’m buying instead of reaching for the product that I have a coupon for. If you’re like me and need some help on what to look for, check out the Cosmetic Skin Database, which rates hundreds of products–so you know exactly what you’re putting on your baby.

Sources:

Earth Mama – Angel Baby

Organic Consumers Association

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Environmental Working Groups’ SKIN DEEP Cosmetic Safety Database

Midwives versus OB’s–Which Should You Get?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I never “bonded” with my OB. Each time I had an appointment, I felt that she didn’t know who I was, and I had to explain my matters all over again. During my actual labor, I barely saw her, and felt like the nurses did 90% of the work. So when I was pregnant for a second time, I considered having a midwife instead–I had a couple of friends who had used one, and they both had wonderful experiences. The local midwifery practice in my area delivered at a local hospital (a home birth is something that I would never want–why stay at home when you can be pampered by nurses?), and had years of experience under their belts. A doctor would be there to back them up if needed. Why not?

Alas, all my plans fell part. Continue reading

Whooping Cough-It’s a Reality

If you’ve picked up a parenting magazine recently, you’ve seen the ad for the whooping cough vaccination. An adorable baby making a adorable face with the headline saying something like, “What Mom? You haven’t vaccinated me against whooping cough?” Bottom line, whooping cough–one of those diseases that seems like it should’ve been eradicated long ago–is back. And it’s scary.

Whooping cough is an infection of the respiratory system. Wikipedia defines it as: Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is known to last for a duration of approximately 6 weeks before subsiding. The disease derives its name from the “whoop” sound made from the inspiration of air after a cough. A similar, milder disease is caused by B. parapertussis.[1]  Although many medical sources describe the whoop as “high-pitched”, this is generally the case with infected babies and children only, not adults.[2]

Doesn’t sound Continue reading