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Babies + Kids

A baby’s health and well-being is at the heart of a parents concern for their child. Babies and children thrive and grow with healthy choices. Find the latest expert advice relating to natural health and wellness for babies and kiddos. After all, happy babies mean happy mommies!

Babies + Kids, Health + Wellness

Life Lessons Learned from my Little

 

No one ever said motherhood would be easy.   Actually, I’m pretty sure we’ve all had our butts kicked by our kids at some point or another. For me, it’s a constant reminder that she really is “The Boss”.   And the boss is a little crazy.

But I will say one thing….my little boss is constantly teaching me things.

Today I took a second to stop and think about all the little nuggets she’s shown me or taught me over the last 2 years.   Some pretty awesome life lessons.

Here are a few:

1. Take pleasure in the little things.

Blow bubbles. Splash puddles. Let snowflakes land on your tongue. Try on mommy’s jewelry.   Eat raisins one at a time. Lick the jam off the toast before you take a bite.

She loves taking her time, investigating and savouring the little details.  Life moves so fast – it’s easy to get caught up in it and forget the little things that make you feel joy!

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

photo rose 1

 

2. Dance to the rhythm of your own drum.

Sing off tune. Dance they way you want. Wear mismatched socks. As adults we’re constantly fearful and mindful of what others will think or say. Her life is limitless. She’s not scared or fearful of failure or judgment.

As we get older, we fear the unknown, stay safely in our comfort zone and perpetually match our socks. I’d like to think the sense of unknown exhilarates our senses and keeps our spirit awake.

3.  Baths aren’t just to get clean.

Baths are to practice swimming or to pretend you are an octopus. The crib isn’t just where we sleep – it’s a giant castle for all of your stuffies or a boat that’s sailing through the sea.

A child’s imagination is wild. I can’t believe all of the things she dreams up and how creative her mind becomes. She sees an elaborate fairytale story everywhere!

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get your everywhere” ~Albert Einstein

photo rose 2

4. Every day is a new day

She pushes a reset button every night.   Every morning is a fresh start and all of the worries from the day before have flown away. Her adaptability constantly surprises me – she kinda just goes with the flow (clearly she doesn’t get that from me!).

There’s no baggage from day to day.   How I wish I could as easily let go of the past with its often tenuous situations and just chuck my baggage out the window!

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M. Montgomery.

5. A hug and kiss fix EVERYTHING.

I’m serious. It’s like a magic potion. It works for skinned knees, major meltdowns and a lost stuffed bunny.   It still amazes me how powerful a loving hug is when she’s in the throes of her emotions – whether it’s anger, sadness or frustration.

It’s such a tremendous feeling to know that I have the best antidote to all of the crappy things life hands her… she still needs her mama to make things better!

“The Best Medicine in the World is a Mother’s hug”

Babies + Kids

YOGA: Not just for grown ups anymore!

 

The benefits of yoga for grown ups are well documented- helping with things like stress reduction, increased physical strength and flexibility, mental clarity…the list goes on.

But I bet you didn’t know that yoga for babies and children is also super beneficial giving kids increased emotional awareness and boosting their self-esteem and confidence!

Recently, a study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that gentle mindfulness-based yoga helped children regulate their emotions (bye, bye tantrums). Children’s ability to stay focused and attentive was also noted after yoga.

Exposing your kids to yoga at a young age helps them to learn about themselves and empowers them to be in charge of their emotions.   Our daughter, Rose goes to a daycare centre that incorporates yoga into their weekly routine and she absolutely loves it!

We’ll do a yoga session together and she’ll be the teacher, showing us all the poses. It allows us to take some time out of our crazy hectic schedules and find some calm and peacefulness together as a family.

Here are a few ways you can practice yoga at home with your child:

  • Be the example. One of the most important things is for parents to do yoga while their kids are present. Modeling poses or lying still in Savasana will peak your child’s interest and curiosity and they will definitely ask what you are doing.
  • Create a warm yoga space. Lie out mats, use cushions and pillows and choose a space clear of furniture and toys to eliminate distractions.
  • Get creative. Encourage your children to use their own creativity and invent their own poses. Children will love playing animals, trees, flowers and warriors. Barking in dog pose, hiss in cobra pose and meow in cat stretch!
  • Make it a ritual. Similar to brushing teeth, your family yoga practice can be included in a daily or weekly routine. It could be a few minutes of quiet breathing or a 20 minute yoga practice with posture. Our daughter knows that “yoga time” means bringing out her little yoga mat and towel.

Yoga classes for families are a great way to spend some time together. Toronto Yoga Mamas offers weekly weekend family yoga classes. For more information, check their website www.torontoyogamamas.com.

I would love to hear about your family’s yoga time – send me a note at hello@draliya.ca.

Babies + Kids

The Ins & Outs Of Swimming With Baby

Yes, it’s -10°C outside. And yes, maybe the last thing you are thinking about is a dip in the pool.   However, Toronto’s indoor pools are pretty busy this season with parents finding indoor swimming and lessons a great way to keep their children busy as outside temps fall below freezing.

Swimming at all ages is awesome and it’s particularly amazing for infants for a whole host of reasons.

When can you take your little one for a dip?

Although a specific swimming age appropriate guideline doesn’t formally exist, most pediatricians and health practitioners advise parents to wait until their baby is about 5-6 months old before enrolling in swim classes. By this age your baby should have pretty good head and torso control. Plus, at that age your baby will be able to splash, kick and enjoy the water.

After spending nine months suspended in fluid in the womb, it’s not surprising that most babies have a natural affinity for water.  Babies have primitive reflexes that actually help them in the water.

Specifically, the laryngeal reflex (or gag reflex) allows them to hold their breath and avoid inhaling water in response to the sensation of water on their face, nose or throat.

 

The Benefits of Swimming in Infants

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that younger children may benefit greatly from swimming classes.

New data shows that early swim training may actually lower drowning rates in children under the age of 4.  Swimming also helps to develop a child’s confidence, as well as improve motor skills and co-ordination.

Swimming helps develop a child’s confidence and improve motor skills and co-ordination

Here are a few tips to turn your tot into a water baby:

  • Visit pools that have warmer water temps for baby’s comfort
  • Use bath time as an opportunity to get your baby used to the water.  Sing a song, use a cloth or sponge to dribble some water over baby’s face, splash, and blow bubbles.
  • Take your time and be patient.  Give her plenty of time to get acclimated to the water.
  • Start with slow, gentle motions like bouncing up and down together or swaying from side to side.  Once she’s more comfortable with her surroundings, explain and demonstrate some fun, basic skills like blowing bubbles or splashing.
  • Hold off on introducing floats or other floatation devices until baby is comfortable in the water.
  • Enjoy yourself.  If you are relaxed, smiling and having fun, your baby is more likely to be at ease!
Babies + Kids

Q&A: Do babies really need shoes?

Q. Is it true that babies need to wear shoes when learning to walk to help their feet develop normally?

A. This is a very popular question parents often ask.  The answer is a simple no.  Babies do not need shoes to help their feet develop or even to help them learn to stand or walk.

Although tiny high-tops and little Mary Janes are adorable, they don’t actually help support the feet when walking.  In fact, they become more of a hindrance when practicing walking skills.

At birth, a baby’s foot is comprised of cartilage – firm but flexible connective tissue that eventually forms into bone around 5 years of age.  This results in a foot that is very flexible.  Walking barefoot will encourage that flexibility and allow baby’s tiny foot muscles to develop and strengthen properly.  Having good flexibility is important for the normal development of the arch of the foot.  Going shoeless will also help babies gain balance and co-ordination without tripping over cumbersome footwear.

Walking barefoot will encourage flexibility and allow baby’s tiny foot muscles to develop and strengthen

At this age, the only real purpose of a shoe would be to protect their tiny tootsies from hot, rough, sharp or splintered surfaces.  If the floor or surface is chilly, have your wee one walk around in soft-soled, flexible baby shoes or even socks.  Flexible shoes will help mimic the natural flexibility of the foot.

Here are a few of my favourite baby friendly footwear choices:

Minimocs

Minimoc moccasins have a soft-soled flexible bottom made of suede which make them great non-slip footwear.  Not to mention they come in fabulous colours and are handmade in Canada.

Robeez

Robeez soft-sole shoes are perfect for growing feet with a stretch elastic on both sides that allows the shoe to fit snugly but won’t leave marks of baby’s feet.  They are machine washable and tumble-dry as well!

Pediped

Pediped shoes are a comfortable shoe for baby with a roomy toebox so feet can move, grip and feel the floor.  The sole has now been updated with a new diamond treat making them more slip resistant.

Read my Q&A expert column and get amazing mama and baby advice & resources at BabyPost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)

Babies + Kids

Fevers: Friend or Foe?

A few months ago, my 14 month old daughter Rose woke up in the middle of the night with a fever. She went to bed easily and a few hours later, she was awake, crying and heating up. Her temperature was 103°F and rising. Like any parents, my husband and I were both worried. However, as a chiropractor treating many infants and children, I know that fevers are a part of our body’s healthy immune response. But that didn’t stop us from being slightly panicked anyway.

Many parents misinterpret the dangers of a high fever and believe they should be suppressed immediately, at all costs. We often confuse fever with being a sign of illness instead of a sign of our normal immune response. In fact, fevers are one of the body’s natural and effective protective mechanisms. Temperatures between 100° and 104° F (37.8° – 40° C) are generally a sign of functioning immune system and are good for sick children helping their bodies fight infections.

Here are a few fever related questions I often get asked by parents:

Q.  When should I be concerned about my child’s fever?

A. Children can be warm for many reasons – they are basically giving off heat. Generally their temperatures should be back within normal ranges within 10 to 20 minutes. Normal ranges vary depending on the way the temperature was taken (eg. rectal, ear, oral, axillary).

Here are the guidelines for parents to seek medical attention when their infant or child has a fever (using the rectal or ear method of taking temperatures):

    • Infants 0-3 months with a temperature higher than 100.4°F (or 38°C); parents should seek care immediately and continue to breastfeed often while waiting for care.
    • Children 3-36 months with a temperature higher than 102.2°F (39°C), if they appear ill. Breastfeeding often while waiting for care.
    • Children older than 36 months with a temperature higher than 104.5°F (40.3°C)

For children not in the above three categroies, bed rest and fluids will support the fever and allow it to do the job that your child needs it to do.

Q. What are febrile seizures and are they harmful?

A. Febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children. During a febrile seizure, a child often loses consciousness or shakes, moving limbs on both sides of the body. Seizures are very scary to watch but are over rather quickly and do not cause permanent harm.

An article in the medical journal, Neurology, concluded that most febrile seizures do not adversely affect global measures of intelligence, nor do they harm more specific functions such as memory in children older than 1 year of age.

Q. My child has a low grade fever. Should I give her some medication to reduce it? 

A. Most parents, myself included, want to do everything we can to help our children feel better. However in the case of a fever, the best medicine is to support the fever and let it run its course. A fever of 102°F to 103°F is considered the optimal defense against microbes.

Supporting your child’s fever means keeping him or her comfortable and resting. Offering plenty of fluids and keeping them cool by removing layers. Don’t force food. Generally children have reduced appetites when fighting infections – let her determine when and what she eats. Keep in mind, sugary foods often delay the natural immune response.

Medication is not always needed to reduce a child’s temperature. In fact, the best reason for giving your child medicine is not to reduce the fever, but to relieve any aches and pains.

Here is the American Academy of Pediatrics advice to parents as found on their website:

“Fevers generally do not need to be treated with medication unless your child is uncomfortable or has a history of febrile convulsions. The fever may be important in helping your child fight the infection”

Remember moms and dads: Fever is one of the good guys.

Suppressing a fever will only delay your child’s natural immune response to help fight the infection. Instead supporting a fever will help your child feel better, faster!

And we all want happy, healthy babies after all!

 

 

References:

Neurology (July 10 2001; 57:7-8, 37-42)

www.mercola.com (Dr. Mercola)

www.aap.org (American Academy of Pediatrics)

(graphic www.magicmum.com)

 

Babies + Kids, Pregnancy

Chiropractic care now at Toronto Yoga Mamas

Great news Mamas and Mamas-to-be!  There’s now one more place to find me in Leslieville!

In addition to my regular hours at Restore Integrative Health, I will now be offering chiropractic care to all of the lovely and wonderful mamas at Toronto Yoga Mamas studio in Leslieville.  I am so thrilled to be a part of this amazing team and community.

The Toronto Yoga Mamas (TYM) was founded by the amazing Jamie Kalynuik, yoga instructor and doula extraordinaire!  She has created a studio full of warmth and love where mothers and soon-to-be mothers can connect with their babies and with each other.  Not only do they offer a huge variety of classes (prenatal and baby yoga to pilates) but the studio also serves as a meeting place for women to share stories and experiences in their weekly Mama Group (every Tuesday).  Workshops, such as Baby Massage and Reflexology, Infant CPR and Baby Sleep are also offered and are super popular.

Recently, Jamie has added Wellness Services to her growing studio and I am thrilled and excited to be a part of their team.  Offering Massage Therapy and Acupuncture, Chiropractic Care fits nicely within the studio’s Wellness Centre and their new space is beautiful!  Come find me at the Toronto Yoga Mamas studio in Leslieville on Wednesday mornings!

xo

 

 

 

Babies + Kids

Your infant sleep questions…ANSWERED!

As a new mom, I remember spending endless early morning hours searching the internet in the hopes of finding the miracle that would help my little girl sleep through the night! Or even sleep a 6 hour stretch!  I know I’m not alone!  On every new parents mind is – SLEEP! When will my baby sleep through the night? What do I do to help?  Countless articles and books have been written around the subject of Infant Sleep.

Last year, when I was awake at 4 am researching the matter on the internet I came across Catherine Wright – sleep consultant extraordinaire and owner of Motherhand, offering supportive sleep coaching. Her approach and philosophy surrounding sleep is integrative and intuitive allowing parents the space to use a variety of sleep solutions and embracing all parenting styles.

We asked Catherine some of our frequently asked sleep questions – here’s what she had to say.

Q: When is a good time to start sleep training?

A: There is a wonderful book called Bedtiming, by Marc Lewis and Isabela Granic, which gives parents an overview of optimum ‘windows’ for making modifications around an infant or child’s sleep, based on where they are at developmentally.

The 5.5 – 7.5 month window is considered a good time for sleep coaching. At this age, babies are naturally starting to consolidate overnight sleep (and so we’re simply finding ways to nudge the process along). Developmentally, they tend to be focused on tactility, and more interested in exploring the edges of a sleep sack, or grasping for comfort buddy, than tracking parents’ whereabouts.

Because separation anxiety and social referencing tends to peak around the 9-month mark, this is not an ideal time to make big changes around a baby’s sleep.

The 5.5-7.5 month window is considered a good time for sleep coaching

Q: When is it too early to sleep train?

A: Of course, there are differing opinions on this.

Internal, biological forces like melatonin production (a sleepy hormone) and the development of the circadian rhythm start kicking-in around the 4-month mark, totally transforming the sleep landscape for a baby. It’s helpful to wait until these processes are underway, before helping a baby learn to fall asleep and resettle more independently (introducing new sleep associations and moving away from bouncing, holding or feeding a baby to sleep).

Some pediatricians and sleep experts feel babies as young as 2-3 months are ready to ‘sleep train’. In my experience, this is not always the case. I prefer to wait until a baby is 5 months before starting sleep coaching – parents can see marked changes very quickly, and changes tend to ‘stick’ at this age, when parents are consistent.

Sleep foundations should be solidly rooted before parents start with any sleep coaching method. Without foundations in place, parents often get frustrated or stressed because they aren’t seeing results, tears are not easing off as they’d hoped, or, if they have initial success, it starts to unravel within a few weeks.

Q: What is sleep shaping?

A: I think of sleep shaping as the gentle steps parents can take, starting on day one, to set their baby up for long term, healthy sleep. Sleep shaping is mindful of a baby’s developmental age and stage, and how the sleep ‘puzzle’ comes together over time.   Sleep shaping is essentially laying down the ‘sleep foundations’:

  • Ensuring baby’s health, nutrition and emotional wellbeing is in check
  • Creating a healthy sleep environment for baby
  • Cultivating simple routines around baby’s naps and bedtime
  • Ensuring baby is getting enough daytime and nighttime sleep for his age (being mindful of not overstretching wakeful periods during the day)
  • Establishing (fairly) non-variable wake-up and bed times

Once foundations are in place and baby is old enough, parents can start to teach their baby how to fall asleep with less intervention by giving them new associations around sleep which support self-settling.

Sleep shaping are the gentle steps parents can take, starting on day one, to set their baby up for long term, healthy sleep

Q: Will my baby ever sleep through the night?

A: Yes! When sleep foundations are in place this often unfolds organically, when baby is ready. There is also a huge range within ‘normal’ when it comes to overnight waking patterns in the first year of life, but most healthy babies are quite capable of this by 6 months (many earlier).

Don’t forget that all babies and toddlers wake frequently at night! The difference between a baby who is ‘sleeping through’ and a baby who is still waking at night is that the baby who is ‘sleeping through’ has learned some sleep skills which allow him to resettle on his own when he wakes and doesn’t have an immediate need.

For parents who want to be more proactive around nudging their baby in this direction, they’d first want to ensure sleep foundations are in place, and then find a sleep coaching method that fits with their parenting style, household set up, and their baby’s temperament and age.

It possible to embark on sleep coaching while respecting that a baby still may need to feed overnight.

sleeping baby 1

Q: How about bedtime routines?

A: Sleep routines are possibly the most important sleep foundation for babies, toddlers and adults.

Wind-down routines offer babies a transition between ‘awake time’ and falling asleep – it is the predictability around routines that sets sleep in motion. Instilling routines early on makes it easier to help a baby learn to settle more independently, down the road.

Here are a few key ingredients for a bedtime wind-down routine:

  • Doing relatively the same low-key activities in the same order each evening before your child’s intended bedtime (bath, PJs, cuddles and books, lullaby, bed).
  • Turning off all screens in the home and dimming lights
  • Darkening baby’s sleep space (as dark as you can get it!)
  • Using a bedtime lullaby or ‘sleepy mantra’ around settling baby into sleep
  • Ending the routine ends in baby’s sleep space

Parents can start with a short, simple routine and build upon it as their baby gets older. Using continuous ‘white noise’ around wind-down routines and overnight can be incredibly helpful in the first year of baby’s life.

Wind-down routines offer babies a transition between ‘awake time’ and falling asleep

Q: What else can parents do to help with the sleep training process?

A: It’s essential to consider a baby’s health, nutrition and emotional wellbeing before starting on a sleep coaching plan. If a baby’s birth experience was traumatic in any way, if baby has had a history of reflux, colic, or difficulty latching or feeding – chiropractic care is tremendously beneficial and will support the changes parents are making towards improving their child’s sleep.

By optimizing baby’s nervous system (neural communication) and assisting any restrictions in his body, chiropractic treatments often make the sleep learning journey a much smoother process.

chiropractic treatments often make the sleep learning journey a much smoother process

Q: How would you know if your baby or toddler is a good candidate for sleep coaching?

A:

  • You have a 6-month baby (or older) who is waking frequently at night and having trouble resettling.
  • Bedtime is routinely a drawn out process, or fraught with tears or lots of protesting.
  • Your baby is 6 months or older and has very unpredictable routines around sleep.
  • You feel your baby or child is chronically not getting enough restorative sleep during the day or at night.
  • You’ve made sacrifices to accommodate your baby or child’s sleep but are now so exhausted your day-to-day life is affected and you’re not sure about the best way forward.
  • You have multiple children and are struggling to find peaceful routines around helping them to sleep in a way that works for your family.
  • Your baby is no longer a newborn but you are all sleeping like he is.
  • You simply want support around creating new routines for the way your family sleeps.

If you have any other questions or would like to speak with Catherine, visit her website at www.motherhand.com.  You won’t be sorry you did!

Babies + Kids, Health + Wellness

Top 5 Toxins to Avoid

As parents, there’s nothing we want more than to have our kids healthy and happy. We try our best to buy organic fruits and vegetables and prepare wholesome nutritious meals for our little ones to consume.   Similarly a child’s exposure to toxins can be detrimental for their growth and development. Many pollutants in our environment have been linked to abnormalities in behaviour, perception, cognition and motor ability during early childhood, even when exposure is at low or harmless levels.

Infants and children are more at risk than adults due to their immature detoxification systems. Furthermore, children play and breathe closer to the floor where contaminants often accumulate in air and dust.

Our role as parents is to minimize our child’s exposure to toxins by knowing about the harsh chemicals found in foods, furniture, toys, cleaning and grooming products.

Here are FIVE of the most harmful chemicals to avoid:

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is a component found in many plastics and the lining of food cans. There is evidence that it disrupts endocrine function in the body and has been linked to low sperm count, hyperactivity, early puberty, obesity, enlarged prostrates and small testes.

Parabens

Widely used as preservatives in cosmetics, washes and pharmaceuticals. Be weary of the contents of your everyday products such as prescriptive and non-prescriptive drugs.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is related to both contact exposure (children putting toys in the mouth) and offgassing (the relase of gas from a product over time). PVC can leach both phthalates and lead.

Phthalates

These are man-made chemicals found mostly in personal care products. They pose potential toxic effects to the developing endocrine and reproductive systems and can be ingested, absorbed through the skin or inhaled. Research has shown that infant exposure to lotions, powders and shampoos were signficiantly associated with increased urinary concentrations of phthalates. The study also shows that children with the highest concentrations of phthlates in their urine had more severe ADHD symptoms.

Dioxins

A by-product of PVC manufacture, dioxins are also found in a variety of household items such as baby diapers. They are a global health threat as they persist in the enviromnet for an extended period of time. Even at very low levels, dioxins have been linked to immune system suppression, reproductive disorders and endometriosis.

Babies + Kids

How to strengthen your baby’s back muscles!

Unfortunately these days our babies spend way too much time in carriers, car seats, highchairs and strollers! It’s important to let babies and toddlers explore the world around them. Teaching them to engage in a wide range of physical activities is important for their strength, balance and co-ordination.

As your baby grows into a toddler, “tummy time” may no longer be applicable. However there are a few ways to stimulate his postural muscles to help development and improve brain function!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Regularly tickle their back
  • Write letters and numbers on their back in the bath
  • Play on all fours (pretend to be wild animals)
  • Encourage hand-stands and cart-wheels
  • Dance!
  • Use hula-hoops
  • Rub the back of their necks along their hairline
  • Play on jungle gyms, slides, or balance beams
  • Try jumping games like hopscotch or jumping jacks
  • Play on the floor with everyone lying on their tummy

 

 

(Reference: Ticklish by Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani)

Babies + Kids, Pregnancy

Baby and Beyond: Learning by Trial & Error

As a chiropractor working with pregnant women and babies for years, I’m your girl when it comes to labour prep, solutions for colic, dealing with gas, breastfeeding, morning sickness and the like. I’m ready and willing to share!

But nothing could have prepared me for going through this process myself.   There is so much more to pregnancy, labour, childbirth and parenting than I could have imagined. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 14 months, it’s that every pregnancy, mama, baby is different. What worked for many of my friends, or even my patients did not work for me.   Unfortunately, there isn’t one way to conquer all that comes with pregnancy and having (and raising) a baby. What I’m slowly learning is that parenting is basically trial and error. As an analytical person, I like to follow rules, steps, flowcharts; motherhood doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Every baby is different and we are all doing our best to figure it out. You might get the hang of certain things – you’re good, you’ve got it under control… And then the phase changes. Sleep patterns are out the window, your toddler stops eating and you have something new to master. It’s a learning curve, and at times it can be frustrating but it’s also so gosh darn amazing!

So if you’ve tried everything under the moon to help soothe your teething, fussy baby (or your morning sickness won’t ease no matter how many tips you’ve tried), my advice to you is: Don’t Give Up! Just because your best friend’s way to burp a baby didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. You’ll settle into your groove and find a way that works best for you.

Chin up Mama – you’re doing great!