Monthly Archives: October 2010

Hyland’s Teething Tablets Recalled – Should You Be Concerned?

Hyland’s Teething Tablets have been recalled due to inconsistent levels of belladonna in them. The FDA states that there have been reports of serious adverse effects due to these inconsistent levels, as belladonna can be highly toxic.

This is one of those recalls I almost hate to see. I used Hyland’s Teething Tablets with great success on two of my children – the youngest didn’t react in any way to them. No comfort, no bad reactions either. They were such a blessing with my two oldest that it was hard to recognize that for my youngest they would not be the solution to teething pain.

Hyland’s Teething Tablets have been used safely for decades. Are the inconsistent levels really a problem, or is the FDA being really picky?

Personally, I’d like to see consistent levels, especially with the reports of adverse effects. The amount of belladonna is incredibly small, and I find it hard to imagine that there’s enough to cause harmful effects, but if there are some, we need to be aware of that fact.

Of course, we also need to remember that acetaminophen and ibuprofen can have adverse effects too. It’s not like the usual OTC medications are 100% safe or anything.

I know not all doctors approve of Hyland’s. I remember mentioning them to my pediatrician when my son was an infant. His response was along the lines of, “well, you could give him the whole bottle and not hurt him,” and an implication that it wouldn’t do any good either.

It’s also a good time to remember that all medications need to be kept out of reach of children. Hyland’s Teething Tablets don’t have a childproof lid. That’s nice when you’re trying to deal with a fussy baby in the middle of the night, but makes it all the more important that you keep those medications safely out of their reach.

If you have Hyland’s Teething Tablets on hand, take a look at this recall and either dispose or return any you have right now. It’s better to be safe.

Want Happier Kids? Buy Fewer Things for Them

It may be contrary to what children themselves will tell you, but if you want happier kids, don’t buy them so much stuff. Things do not equal happiness, for any of us. By buying too many things for your kids, you’re encouraging them to want more and more, rather than enjoying the good things they do have.

Think about all the things children see on television that they want. No parents in their right minds would buy every single thing that a child says “I want” about. Yet so many parents always get sucked into buying more than children can really enjoy.

Teaching Kids to Avoid Consumerism

Children are impressionable. That’s why they love all the toys their friends have and all the toys they see advertised. It all sounds like things they must have.

But people who are excessively materialistic usually aren’t the happiest. Just think how happy simple things in your own life make you feel. The pride you feel in doing things yourself. How often is it things that make you happy rather than what you do?

It’s the same for kids, and it’s up to you to teach them that.

If you let them watch television, talk to them about what ads do to make them want the toys, fast food and other things they see advertised. Talk to them about why they don’t need everything they see. Point out the things that they have enjoyed for a long time, rather than the few minutes that many of the things advertised would be enjoyed.

It’s not easy to teach this in today’s society. Ads are everywhere. It’s easy to want ridiculous quantities of things you don’t need, yet that’s not the choice that will make most of us happy for any significant time.

Make sure you take your kids with your often when you go shopping. Talk to them about what they see that appeals to them, and whether or not those items would be a good purchase. Teach them what you think makes a good purchase. Show them how quickly the cost adds up for the things you do buy, and how much more it would be if you bought everything that caught their eye. Discuss the environmental cost to buying things you don’t need and won’t really enjoy for a long time.

But My Friends Have….

Kids are going to compare their possessions to those of their friends. It’s a part of growing up. They’re going to wish they owned some of the things their friend has, and may not always appreciate the lessons you’re teaching them about avoiding consumerism.

It’s not easy hearing your kids wish for more. We all wish we could let our kids enjoy whatever their hearts desire. But that’s not good for children and it’s not good for the environment either. Teaching your kids that they don’t need to have everything their friends have is one of life’s great lessons.

Help them to think about their own possessions and what they enjoy about them. Help them think of the things they enjoy doing. Help them to see how these things have value.

Talk to them about those who have less. Kids have great sympathy for the less fortunate if you talk to them about it. The idea that other kids have even less than they do is a great lesson that can be taught to young children.

Don’t make them feel bad about owning what they do or even for wanting other things. We all want things we can’t have. We learn to deal with it. It’s a natural feeling.

You can help your kids deal with our consumeristic culture without becoming excessive consumers themselves. Talk about your beliefs, and live them as a family. It’s amazing how well these things can work out.

The Need for Clean Water – Blog Action Day 2010

This year’s Blog Action Day’s subject is water. Specifically, the need for more clean water around the world.

As a southern Californian, I have a lot of sympathy for those who don’t have water, even though we have plenty of water for our needs. We grumble about lawn watering rationing here, but that’s nothing compared to the desperate shortage of water others live with every day of their lives.

About one billion people on this planet don’t have access to safe, clean water. This results in 80% of diseases and kills more people weekly than war. This is hard to imagine, coming from a place where scarce water means to most people that their lawn turns brown – the horrors! But a lack of water is a harsh reality elsewhere.

A lack of water is a major contributor to poverty. You can’t do much if you don’t have water. You have to spend hours collecting water, and hope it doesn’t make you sick. The lack makes basic sanitation difficult.

Just think of all that water is necessary for on a daily basis. Drinking, growing food, sanitation, bathing. If you lack water, you have to prioritize which of these you can do when you get water, sometimes after walking miles to retrieve it.

There’s a question now about if access to water should be a basic human right. The UN says yes. Putting that into action and finding ways to supply water to those who don’t have it is going to be quite a challenge. It’s not a situation that can be fixed quickly, resolution or no. It’s going to take time and money to fix it. The problem has at least been recognized, and that’s the first step.

Those of us who have more access can help. First and foremost, look into charities and other organizations that are making water more accessible to communities that need it.

Also look at your own lifestyle. Water supplies are almost shamelessly wasted and polluted in many areas. That needs to change, for out own good as well as the good of others.

That means rethink your lawn. Is it the best choice and is it the right type of grass for your area? Are you using chemical fertilizers on it that wash off and end up in creeks and rivers?

Where does your water come from? Is the supply good now? Is it being overused to where there won’t be water available from that source in the future? Aquifers do dry up, as do other sources of water, when they’re overused. There are places in the United States where it’s not at all clear that water will continue to be readily available.

How Do You Get Your Children to Play Outside More?

One of the healthiest habits you can build for your child is to encourage more outdoor play. It encourages physical fitness and an appreciation of nature. Sadly, many parents don’t push this issue very much at all. They let their children play inside too much of the day, and give them too much time to watch television and play on the computer.

This isn’t just about children old enough to go play outside on their own. This is also about getting outside with children so young they need supervision every minute. It’s about getting out into nature even when you have an infant so young that you have to carry him or her the entire time.

One of the best books I’ve read on this topic is Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. Read it, and you’ll know much more about why you want your children to play outside every day.

The younger you start, the more appealing outdoor play will be. Hot, cold, remember that there are appropriate clothes for just about any weather. If your kids say the weather is wrong and you want them to play outside, take a look and what they’re wearing and make any necessary changes before shooing them out.

Outdoors should be appealing. A swing set can get kids begging to go outside for as long as they fit on it. But even something as simple as a 2×4 board used as a balance beam will get many kids out and playing. Don’t forget basics such as a bicycle and roller skates for outdoor fun.

Kids shouldn’t always have to play outside alone. It’s good for you to join them, and increase their exposure to nature in more places than the local park or your backyard. It’s also good to get yourself out and active. Go camping or hiking as a family. You don’t have to make it a huge expedition. An hour’s hike, or a single night out camping is a good experience for the entire family. Take longer trips as everyone in the family learns to appreciate it more.

For simpler times, kick or throw a ball around in the back yard together. Go for rides or walks around your neighborhood. Make these outdoor family times a part of your family routine, not just something for special days.

Don’t forget the value of friends for getting the kids to play outside! Any neighborhood friends your kids have are a great incentive to getting them outside and playing. Get to know the parents and make outdoor play something they enjoy as a group.

You may have battles about being sent out to play. There will be times to give in and times to fight it out. Do your best to have your kids value their outdoor playtime so it will be looked forward to rather than complained about.

More Great Books About Getting Kids Outside

Sharing Nature with Children
I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature
Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children
Fun With Nature (Take-Along Guide)

When Do You Wean?

When it works, breastfeeding is a delightful activity for mother and child. It provides the best source of nutrition for an infant, as well as health benefits to the mother. It’s the most environmentally friendly way to feed a baby as well, needing no extra equipment such as bottles, and no need to buy can after can of formula. But inevitably the time comes when you start to think about weaning.

There are a lot of differing ideas about when to wean. Some say sooner, some say later. But what really matters is what works for you.

Early Weaning

Some say to wean early. My mother-in-law tried that when I was breastfeeding my first, wanting me to wean at 6 weeks, then six months, and on it went. For some mothers, that’s the right choice because they can’t afford the time it takes to breastfeed, or it’s painful for them, or they have to work and no place to pump. These things happen, and it’s not always possible or reasonable for a mother to continue breastfeeding, even when she wants to.

And of course some simply don’t want to. It doesn’t appeal to them for one reason or another. While this means they’re going to have to use formula, I’m a firm believer in bodily autonomy, and that means they have the right to not breastfeed.

Weaning at One Year

A lot of moms wean their babies at one year. It’s a time recommended by many pediatricians. Babies no longer feed exclusively on their mother’s milk by this age, and are easily enjoying pureed foods. It’s also felt to be a safe time in most cases to introduce cow’s milk, as an allergic reaction is less likely as baby gets older.

Weaning at Two Years

Age two is another popular time, as the World Health Organization recommends at least two years of breastfeeding. The baby has become a toddler and can chew many foods.

Child Led Weaning

Child led weaning is my personal favorite. It’s more comfortable for mother and child, if the breastfeeding relationship has lasted this long. You rely on signals from your child to decide when to wean.

This age varies tremendously. My two oldest self weaned by 18 months. My youngest is firmly in favor of continuing the breastfeeding relationship, at age 20 months.

Child led weaning can lead to extended breastfeeding, with children aged 3, 4 and more before they want to wean. It takes some extra dedication to breastfeeding to let your child decide when it’s done. On the plus side, you get to enjoy the closeness of breastfeeding for as long as your child cares to continue it.

When breastfeeding works, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the mother-child relationship. No one can get as close to a baby as a mother who is breastfeeding. Giving a bottle of expressed milk lets others participate, but it’s not the same as nursing a suckling child. It can be more than an obligation; it can be a delight.

As for my current breastfeeding situation, I’m giving very gentle nudges toward weaning, mostly making other drinks more readily available. She’ll take the hint or not, it’s not a major matter of stress for me, although I’m ready to be done.