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Babies

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)

Pregnancy

Q&A: Should I get a Midwife or a Doula?

Q. I’m pregnant with my first baby and a friend of mine suggested I hire a doula for labour and delivery. What exactly is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

A.  Although a midwife and a doula may seem very similar in their approach toward childbirth, their roles differ quite significantly.

In Canada, midwives are trained and licensed medical professionals providing care to women during pregnancy, labour and delivery.

Doulas are not health care providers, but instead offer guidance as well as physical and emotional support to the mother and her partner during the pre and post-natal periods as well as during childbirth. She provides physical support to the labouring mother including gentle massage, guided breathing and positional support. A doula often provides education and information to the couple so that they can make informed choices in their birthing experience.

Here are few things your midwife will do:

  • Run prenatal tests and monitor your health and the baby’s health during pregnancy, birth and post-partum period
  • Prescribe maternal health related supplements or medications
  • Perform physical examinations
  • Consult with an obstetrician (OB) if a medical complication comes up which is out of the midwifery scope
  • Do their best to help you experience a comfortable birth

Here are a few things your doula will do:

  • Give you information about medical examinations and procedures (but cannot perform these procedures)
  • Establish a pre-natal relationship with you and help you figure out your “birth plan”
  • Help keep you and your partner feeling calm and supported during labour
  • Use a variety of tools and techniques to help you manage the intense physical sensations of labour and birth
  • Ensure you feel comfortable and confident communicating your needs to your health care provider
  • Provide any post-partum help and support

Although doulas do not provide medical care, research has shown that having a doula present throughout birth decreases the likelihood of using medical interventions such as instrument-assisted births (forceps, vacuum extraction) and c-section births. Furthermore, women who use doulas report having more positive feelings about their childbirth experience.

Research shows that having a doula present throughout birth decreases the likelihood of using medical interventions.

Many women often choose to have a midwife and a doula supporting them through labour and childbirth providing a perfect complement of knowledge, care and comfort for the mama-to-be.

Recently I became a Doula after taking the DONA International Doula Course at The Toronto Yoga Mamas.  A few weeks ago, I attended my first birth and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!  If you have any questions about doulas or my role as a doula, please feel free to send me a message at hello@draliya.ca.

Find my Q&A expert column and other great mama and baby advice & resources at babypost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)

(Photo by babypost.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!

Pregnancy

Reflexology helps during pregnancy!

Recently, our clinic office manager, Aislinn completed her certification in Reflexology. In the past, I’ve often thought of Reflexology as an adjunctive technique to massage therapy. However, it’s so much more than that and is an amazing source of relaxation during pregnancy!

Thanks to Ais, here are some reflexology basics!

Q. What is reflexology?  How does it work?

Reflexology is an ancient holistic healing art that naturally stimulates every gland and organ in the body. By applying pressure to reflexes in the feet, tension is released, circulation is improved, and the body is assisted in regaining its state of harmony and balance.  It is theorized that it works because applying acupressure to the skin and peripheral nerve endings sends calming signals to the central nervous system, which in turn reduces tension in the body and engages the parasympathetic (rest and relaxation) response. When the body is relaxed, all body systems can function more optimally.

Q. What conditions can reflexology treat?

While reflexology does not claim to cure any specific illnesses or conditions, it can be used in conjunction with other health therapies as part of a holistic approach to wellness. Reflexology itself is a holistic therapy and as such all the body systems are treated in a reflexology session. Energy blockages throughout the body are addressed – areas that are tender or have significant uric acid crystal build up can be paid extra attention. Having said that, reflexology is a hugely beneficial therapy for a multitude of conditions from fibromyalgia to anxiety disorders. Studies have shown that relaxed states promote natural pain management – reflexology aids in achieving a state of relaxation and in turn this supports the body in self-healing and the release of tension and pain. Because reflexology increases blood and lymph circulation in the body it can also be useful treating acute and chronic conditions such as sinus congestion and digestion issues. It is also used frequently by women struggling with infertility.

Q. Is it safe during pregnancy?  How does it help mamas-to-be?

Yes, reflexology treatments are considered safe during pregnancy. Adjustments are made in the treatment for pregnant women. They include the use of lighter pressure and modified body positioning during the treatment, especially late in pregnancy, to promote comfort and safety. Reflexology can be a welcome experience for moms-to-be as it encourages them to relax and connect with themselves thereby inducing a feeling of overall wellness.

Q. Can babies receive reflexology treatments?  What conditions does it help treat for little ones?

Yes! Babies can receive reflexology. Reduced pressure and shorter treatment lengths are best for tiny feet. Because reflexology is a soothing treatment it can be used for a variety of situations, such as; teething, colic, and constipation, to name a few. It can also be incorporated into the nap and bedtime routines of babies and toddlers as a natural means to aid in their relaxation.

Q. What can I expect during a treatment?

Clients report feelings of deep relaxation and contentment during and after the treatment. Many drift in and out of sleep while their feet are being worked on and end the treatment feeling refreshed and renewed. I have also been told that this relaxation carries on throughout the day and that sleeping patterns are improved after receiving a treatment. Reflexology should not be painful or uncomfortable, even though there may be tender areas in the foot  – these areas are addressed with gentle pressure within the clients comfort zone. The practitioner may suggest a treatment schedule and/or may recommend other complimentary therapies based on findings from the initial treatment.

 

For specifics on what you can expect from one of Aislinn’s treatments or to book a treatment, please visit www.solesmith.ca

 

 

 

Babies + Kids

Chiro for Kids?

One of the most frequent questions I am often asked by parents is – “Why does my child need to see a chiropractor?”

To keep it short and sweet, I often ask my patients why they come in to see me for adjustemnts? The most common answers include: “to feel amazing”, “to get aligned”, “to make sure my spine is in the right place and that my nervous system is working”. All great answers!

Now think of it this way – babies and kids have spines and nervous systems too! Essentially, the nervous system is like the information highway. It coordinates all types of bodily functions including breathing, digestion and immune responses. If the communication to the nervous system is interrupted or damaged by misalignments (subluxations), we experience all sorts of information errors including pain, headaches, high blood pressure, digestive problems.

In babies and kids, this communication breakdown may show up as colic or irritability, poor sleeping habits, developmental/motor delays, digestion issues, lethargy or low energy, difficulty breastfeeding, asthma and more.   Often, a newborn baby could have experienced a difficult birthing process or suffered from distress during his journey through the birth canal.

Chiropractic focuses on restoring function to the nervous system so that the body can work optimally and efficiently; invariably, letting the body heal itself.

Chiropractic adjustments for adults differ greatly from those performed on babies and are very gentle using light fingertip pressure.

Dr. Jennifer Barham from Australia has written an amazing book called Well Adjusted Babies.  In it she lists reasons why children need to see a chiropractor.  I’ve listed them below:

Top 10 Reasons Why Parents Take Their Children to See a Chiropractor (as adapted by Dr. Jennifer Barham of Well Adjusted Babies.

1. To encourage good neural plasticity

2. To support “first- class “ nerve communication throughout the body – promoting health and well-being

3. To help strengthen their child’s immunity thereby reducing frequency of colds, ear-aches and general illness

4. To help resolve breastfeeding issues and colic

5. To reduce the detrimental impact our modern world has on our children

6. Encourages child to thrive by supporting digestive strength

7. To help improve child’s ability to learn and concentrate

8. To promote body balance – resolving poor posture, and encouraging proper biomechanics

9. To help kids stay fun and light-hearted

10. To help kids stay in tip-top shape

Taking these things in mind – it may be time to have your little one checked by a paediatric chiropractor.