Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 10 Things To Consider When Choosing Toys For Your Baby

1. Is it Made of Safe Materials?
Free from BPA, phthalates, and PVC?  For the safest toys, check out  

2.  Is the toy Age Appropriate?  

3.  Will the baby actively engage with the toy or sit passively and watch the toy do something?  

4.  Does the toy encourage creativity and imagination?  
5.  Can the toy be used in many ways?

6.   Will the toy interest your baby for more than just a few weeks?

7.  Some of the best toys are the simplest- wooden spoons, pots and pans, measuring cups, and the boxes special toys arrive in!

8.   Search for items of different weights, materials, textures, flexibility, sizes, shapes, colors, and smells. Your baby thrives on variety!

9.  Is the toy durable and is it easy to clean?

10.  Is the toy simple?  Avoid complicated toys that may frustrate your baby. 

Remember, It isn't what a toy does, it is what your baby can do with the toy that matters!

(This is re-posted from the Day One Center)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Positions To Decrease Reflux

A Tum e Time mom passed this information on reflux along to me.  She found it on
  • Positioning:
    • Reflux is worst when baby lies flat on his back.
    • Many parents have found that carrying baby in a sling or other baby carrier can be helpful.
    • Avoid compressing baby’s abdomen - this can increase reflux and discomfort. Dress baby in loose clothing with loose diaper waistbands; avoid “slumped over” or bent positions; for example, roll baby on his side rather than lifting legs toward tummy for diaper changes.
    • Recent research has compared various positions to determine which is best for babies with reflux. Elevating baby's head did not make a significant difference in these studies [Carroll 2002, Secker 2002, Craig 2004], although many moms have found that baby is more comfortable when in an upright position. The positions shown to significantly reduce reflux include lying on the left side and prone (baby on his tummy). Placing the infant in a prone position should only be done when the child is awake and can be continuously monitored. Prone positioning during sleep is almost never recommended due to the increased SIDS risk. [Secker 2002]
    • Although recent research does not support recommendations to keep baby in a semi-upright position (30° elevation), this remains a common recommendation. Positioning at a 60° elevation in an infant seat or swing has been found to increase reflux compared with the prone (tummy down) position [Carroll 2002, Secker 2002].
    • As always, experiment to find what works best for your baby.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A New Pilates Mat Class For Mamas AND Babies in Oakland!

Classes start
Tuesday 12/6

For the month of December class will be donation-based. Come experience a little lengthening and strengthening with other Mamas. Time will be offered for socializing and connecting after each class.

Alley 49 Somatic Arts is a mind-body centered wellness studio offering Pilates, Yoga, and Massage in North Oakland's Temescal district.

Check us out at

Or visit us in person:

View our location on Google Maps

New Pilates Mat Class for Mamas & their Wee Ones


Tuesdays 11:00-12:15

Alley 49 Somatic Arts
482E 49th Street
Oakland, CA 94609

Join Jessica and lil' Lulu bird for some stretching (of achy muscles), scooping (of stretched out abdominals), and strengthening (of bodies and spirits) in this all-levels, baby-friendly mat class for all you Wonder Woman mamas who could use a little TLC.

We'll be starting with the fundamentals, so don't worry if you're new to Pilates or feeling a little soft around the middle. Class will be both safe and challenging for all postpartum bodies, with modifications offered for Diastasis Recti and C-sectioned abdominals. And of course, this is a mama-centered class, so lateness, fussy babies, and nursing breaks are par for the course. Come prepared to open, strengthen, relax, and invigorate in our intimate somatic arts space. Babies of all ages are most welcome. We hope you can join us!

love from,
and Lucinda Bliss

Lucinda Bliss

In her five short months, Lucinda has brought her fair share of love and laughter to the world. She is also an expert at Teaser (an intermediate Pilates move, you had better believe it.) This is Lucinda's first gig as a Pilates instructor.

Jessica Damon

New mama and lover of bodies in motion, Jessica is also a dancer, choreographer, and certified Pilates instructor. She has worked with a wide-range of bodies, and specializes in injury rehabilitation, sports-specific conditioning, and general fitness. She is co-owner of Alley 49 Somatic Arts.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dads at Tum e Time

Well, it happened.  This month topped the number for amount of Dad's who attended in one class.

I was so touched that families arranged their schedules so partners could come and play.

Thanks to all the families! 

Here are some photos from the last Oakland class:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Toys For The Holidays

In my 4th class of the Tum e Time series I talk about using things from around the house to play with.  Although the stores are brimming with choices, so are the rooms in your house and the paths in the local parks.

I had to laugh when I stumbled upon this article from GeekDad on the Wired website.  It speaks to exactly this....enjoy, laugh, and make this holiday a joyful one with just the basics.

Many blessings for the holidays and new year.  May you have many parenting adventures.

See you in 2012!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Elimination Communication With Your Baby

Ever wonder what it means to use elimination communication or EC with your baby?  Andrea Olson, mom and author (and tum e time class graduate) has made it easy with her new book EC Simplified.

These are her thoughts on what EC means:

"There are many different definitions of the phrase, but below is my summary version:
a gentle, non-coercive way to respond to
a baby’s natural elimination needs, from birth,
which enables her to follow her instincts to not
soil herself, her caretaker, or her sleep space
In other words, babies are born ready. We just need to tune into what they’re born asking for, provide it, stay in good communication, and roll with the evolution until our babies are totally potty independent. (Kinda like with eating and sleeping.)"

If you are researching or already EC-ing, Andrea's website can offer you an array of support and information.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creative Ways to Play with Your Baby

By Kim Lyons (me)
Now that your baby has arrived, what do you do to entertain and play with her?  Forget about the advertisements plastering the parenting magazines or the aisles full of toys at the big warehouse shops; what I'm referring to doesn't require anything more than being present and using items you find around your house or in the local park. Let's call it back to basics: non-stressful ways to spend time with your baby. 

This may mean changing modes, moving at a slower pace. For example, take your time getting out of bed, explore with massage, sing a lullaby, stare into baby's eyes, and take those moments to be together. Give yourself permission to have a pajama day from time to time. Since babies can pick up on emotions such as stress and anger as early as 6 months, teach them how to take care of themselves by taking care of you. Find ways to create quiet periods throughout the day. The email, laundry, and dishes can wait.

As you lay in bed together, gently massage your baby's toes one by one; use the opportunity to burst into "This Little Piggy" or begin introducing numbers by counting them. Not only does massaging his toes provide an opportunity for play and early number introduction, stimulating this area of the body boosts the immune system warding off colds and flu viruses. Other prime times to offer a gentle massage are during diaper changes and after baths. Administering long, slow strokes from head to toe is calming and relaxing not only for baby, but for you as well.  If you want to dive deeper into massage, attend an infant massage class or check the library for books or DVDs on how to massage your baby.

How might you make use of other times together, such as when you are standing in a long grocery line? Start to move together by swaying back and forth; bend your knees and move up and down, turn around if there is room, and sing about your movement while you dance. No matter how small the movement, it will improve both of your attitudes about being stuck in line. Imagine the smiles from people around you as they vicariously release their own unspoken frustration. You can explore these dance moves with music while at home. Play a variety of music (classical, jazz, drumming, rock, etc.) and find a rhythm as you partner with your baby to tango, salsa or slow dance around your home. See what appeals to you and your baby.

You can also tone down the moves and introduce gentle passive movements, also known as baby yoga. Leg movements, where you move baby's legs like they are riding on a bicycle, can offer gas and constipation relief. Simply hold her legs on the lower leg/calf and rotate them gently in a circular motion. Remember: If you meet with resistance, stop. Never force the baby to do any movements they are not ready for. You can clap baby's hands at mid-line while singing "Patty Cake", then take his arms out to the sides or up over her head for an easy stretch. Describe how you are opening and closing or moving up and down. See how many ways you can engage your baby's hands and feet. You can gently clap them, roll them, tap them, push them, shake them, etc.

Many of us are very self-conscious about singing in our society, but babies don't care what your voice sounds like. You can make up songs about anything such as: leaving the swings or washing your hands for lunch. Sing in a whisper, a big voice, or somewhere in between. Clap your baby's hands together or offer him a wooden spoon to drum along. Try to remember old favorites from your childhood, check out the library or check out Internet resources for a new repertoire. For example, has an array of tunes sung by all types of people.

Finally, gather things from around the house or outdoors to play with. Look for items that will fit into one or more of the senses: touch, taste, sound, smell and sight. Remember you can explore items safely together, for example, sand at the park or beach may be a tempting thing to put in her mouth, but what about just sitting baby on your lap, scooping a fistful of sand and pouring it over her legs or toes. Or how about standing your baby up so just his feet are standing on the sand all the while describing the experience? You might say one or all of the following based on what is going on: "the sand feels warm because of the sun," "the sand may tickle as it runs through your toes," and/or "does the sand feel rough against your skin?" You are beginning to introduce descriptors that the baby uses as it learns to categorize while experimenting with all the different textures.

In addition, explore with more than just the hands and feet. Rub the silky scarf on her cheek or roll the smooth rock down his forearm.  Take time to engage in play together and other times sit back and watch as your little scientist performs experiments with the toys you offer.

Often grandmothers like to say, "All we had were pots and pans to play with and we turned out just fine!"  I find this to be more and more true as I watch my 6 year old find 101 things to do with a toilet paper roll. Sometimes, it's about adjusting our own perceptions and merely looking around with new eyes. Babies do get tired of playing with the same items though, so change things around by rotating items every week or two.

Keep things simple, it's more about the quality than the quantity that you give your baby. Our time with our babies passes by far too quickly. What better gift is it to slow down and be less absorbed by the latest gadget and explore what is right in front of you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to find out more about toxins in children's toys or products?

In my one of my classes I bring in loads of alternatives from around the house to use as toys.  Why?  Unfortunately, many of the children's toys that are on the market contain toxins that are unhealthy for your little ones and the planet.

When researching what to get your child for a birthday present or offering recommendations for family members to purchase for you as a holiday gift, stop by Healthy Stuff first to see how it ranks in terms of safety.

The organization also offers information on everyday products as well for your home, car, pet, etc.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Parents Urged Again to Limit TV for Youngest


Parents of infants and toddlers should limit the time their children spend in front of televisions, computers, self-described educational games and even grown-up shows playing in the background, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned on Tuesday. Video screen time provides no educational benefits for children under age 2 and leaves less room for activities that do, like interacting with other people and playing, the group said.

The recommendation, announced at the group’s annual convention in Boston, is less stringent than its first such warning, in 1999, which called on parents of young children to all but ban television watching for children under 2 and to fill out a “media history” for doctor’s office visits. But it also makes clear that there is no such thing as an educational program for such young children, and that leaving the TV on as background noise, as many households do, distracts both children and adults.
“We felt it was time to revisit this issue because video screens are everywhere now, and the message is much more relevant today that it was a decade ago,” said Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Tex., and the lead author of the academy’s policy, which appears in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. Brown said the new policy was less restrictive because “the Academy took a lot of flak for the first one, from parents, from industry, and even from pediatricians asking, ‘What planet do you live on?’ ” The recommendations are an attempt to be more realistic, given that, between TVs, computers, iPads and smartphones, households may have 10 or more screens.
The worry that electronic entertainment is harmful to development goes back at least to the advent of radio and has steadily escalated through the age of “Gilligan’s Island” and 24-hour cable TV to today, when nearly every child old enough to speak is plugged in to something while their parents juggle iPads and texts. So far, there is no evidence that exposure to any of these gadgets causes long-term developmental problems, experts say.
Still, recent research makes it clear that young children learn a lot more efficiently from real interactions — with people and things — than from situations appearing on video screens. “We know that some learning can take place from media” for school-age children, said Georgene Troseth, a psychologist at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, “but it’s a lot lower, and it takes a lot longer.”

Unlike school-age children, infants and toddlers “just have no idea what’s going on” no matter how well done a video is, Dr. Troseth said.

The new report strongly warns parents against putting a TV in a very young child’s room and advises them to be mindful of how much their own use of media is distracting from playtime. In some surveys between 40 and 60 percent of households report having a TV on for much of the day — which distracts both children and adults, research suggests.

“What we know from recent research on language development is that the more language that comes in — from real people — the more language the child understands and produces later on,” said Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University.

After the academy’s recommendation was announced, the video industry said parents, not professional organizations, were the best judges. Dan Hewitt, a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association, said in an e-mail that the group has a “long and recognized record of educating parents about video game content and emphasizing the importance of parental awareness and engagement.”
“We believe that parents should be actively involved in determining the media diets of their children,” he said.

Few parents of small children trying to get through a day can resist plunking the youngsters down in front of the screen now and then, if only so they can take a shower — or check their e-mail.
“We try very hard not to do that, but because both me and my husband work, if we’re at home and have to take a work call, then yes, I’ll try to put her in front of ‘Sesame Street’ for an hour,” Kristin Gagnier, a postgraduate student in Philadelphia, said of her 2-year-old daughter. “But she only stays engaged for about 20 minutes.”

In one survey, 90 percent of parents said their children under 2 watched some from of media, whether a TV show like “Yo Gabba Gabba!” or a favorite iPhone app. While some studies find correlations between overall media exposure and problems with attention and language, no one has determined for certain which comes first.

The new report from the pediatrics association estimates that for every hour a child under 2 spends in front of a screen, he or she spends about 50 minutes less interacting with a parent, and about 10 percent less time in creative play. It recommends that doctors discuss setting “media limits” for babies and toddlers with parents, though it does not specify how much time is too much.
“As always, the children who are most at risk are exactly the very many children in our society who have the fewest resources,” Alison Gopnik, a psychologist at the University of California, said in an e-mail.

On Radio:

There was also a wonderfully debated discussion regarding babies and tv on Michael Krasny's Forum:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Upcoming Sleep Workshop in Alameda

Need more information on sleep?  There is an upcoming workshop by Dawn Fry you might want to check out.

Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011
To find out more visit,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Great News About Our Babies Toys

I was extremely grateful when this Mom Rising email ended up in my box. 

"We have great news!  On Tuesday, the the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted that independent testing for toxics like lead in paint, lead content, and phthalates in products for children under the age of 12 must be done BEFORE toys hit the store shelves.

You and more than 10,000 MomsRising members sent letters to the CPSC in support of this rule.  Your effort paid off!

A statement about the CPSC's vote explains the significance of this success: "Today was a monumental day for the safety of America’s children, and one that parents and grandparents have waited years to happen." With this vote, the CPSC is taking "safety to the source."

You can read the entire statement here: (pdf)

Great work and thanks for standing with us to make toys safer!

-- Claire, Sarah, Kristin and the MomsRising Team"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Did You Know That We Just Lost Our Parental Rights in California?

Governor Brown, CA, Signs AB 499 Allowing Shots Without Parental Consent.

This is about taking away our parental right.

"In a national press release on Oct. 10, NVIC criticized California Governor Jerry Brown for bowing to pressure from the pharmaceutical and medical trade lobby when he signed a controversial bill (AB499) into law that allows 12 year old children to be vaccinated without the knowledge or consent of their parents. The new law allows minor children as young as 12 years old to be given Gardasil and hepatitis B vaccine, as well as future vaccines sexually transmitted diseases without the informed consent of their parents.

The new CA law is a violation of vaccine safety provisions in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act that mandated doctors and all vaccine providers give parents vaccine benefit and risk information before vaccination. It is estimated that it will cost the state of California millions of dollars to implement the new law."  

From the National Vaccine Information Center (

If you are concerned about this, voice your opinion to Gov. Brown at:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

No More Toxic Chemicals In Children's Toys! Action is needed immediately!

I received this important message from Moms Rising.  The US does not test toys that are marketed to our children!  There is a list of toxic chemicals that already exist in toys that our babies are sucking on and our children are playing with.  We don't want them.  What can you do?

"On October 19th, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission  (CPSC) will vote on whether or not independent testing for toxics like lead in paint, lead content, and phthalates in products for children under the age of 12 should be done before toys hit the store shelves.
Tell the CPSC to vote YES on October 19th for testing kids' toys for toxics BEFORE they reach the stores:
Taking one moment to click the above link will help stop toxic products before they hit the shelves!   The current system, where you basically have to have a home chemistry lab in order to figure out if you've purchased a toxic toy or not, isn't working. The vote on October 19th is an important moment for us to make a difference for all kids (and parents who are shopping for gifts) in our nation.
* The CPSC vote is scheduled for October 19th which is next week, that's why they need to hear from families today!

This type of testing is sorely needed.  Independent third party testing before products go on the market would insure the quality and safety of the products our kids interact with daily. These tests would include tests for lead and tests for phthalates. (1)

These are crucial tests.  Lead is a poison. Even low levels of lead exposure can harm a child's mental development.(2) Phthalates, a chemical used to soften plastics, can impair reproduction and development, alter liver and kidney function, damage the heart and lungs, and affect blood clotting. (3)
And now, we can help protect our kids from these dangerous toxic chemicals.  Also, if the CPSC votes YES on this new rule and requires independent third party testing, then it would have the added bonus of reducing the amount of product recalls that parents have to juggle by making the toys safer before they hit the toy stores.  Fewer recalls are a win-win for businesses and families because that means less returning of items to the manufacturer, less post-recall inconveniences, and fewer unhappy surprises when it comes to products in our homes.  Fewer recalls would save businesses money, and save children from tears as favorite toys have to be returned.

This is it!  October 19th is our moment to make a difference for kids. Tell the Commissioners at the CPSC to vote YES:
*The Commissioners of the CPSC rarely hear directly from families, so your message today will have a big impact.  Please forward this email to friends and family--and also post the action link on Facebook. The more voices, the stronger our message.

Thank you for everything you do to protect our kids.
--Claire, Sarah, Kristin, Ashley, and the whole MomsRising team

1) U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (PDF)

2) Lead Poising, Medline Plus
3)Phthalates, Health Care Without Harm (PDF)


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nutrition For A Healthy Pregnancy and Beyond--CLASS

A healthy baby starts even before the baby is born.  No matter what stage of pregnancy nutrition has a huge impact on both mother and child.  In this informative talk you will:

~ Discover ways to maintain your energy levels.

~ Ideas on how to beat the postpartum blues.

~ Ways to combat common pregnancy discomforts such as nausea, constipation, cramps, swelling

~ Recipe ideas and useful resources.

This is a free talk with Sarah Brick, NE (
Saturday, October 15 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Awaken Chiropractic
3515 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA  94610

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Birth and Post Partum Doulas

A couple months ago I spent an evening with the East Bay Postpartum doula group.  If in need of support after your birth, I would recommend going on their website and interviewing some of these wonderful women.

If you are in San Francisco, luckily, you have another amazing group of women to turn to....please go to the San Francisco Doula Groups website at:

Happy Doula-ing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Birth & Baby Fair San Francisco--Sunday, Oct. 2

I will have my Tum e Time table at the upcoming Birth & Baby Fair in San Francisco this coming Sunday, Oct. 2.  Details are below.  Please stop by and say, "Hello" if you are coming :)

If you're new to parenting or expecting a baby, make a note of an upcoming event -- the San Francisco Birth and Baby Fair brings together reps from pregnancy, birth, parenting and baby related resources for a day of information, education and shopping. Baby experts -- from midwives and educators, to baby photographers -- will be on hand to address your questions and interests. The Birth and Baby Fair also offers free workshops on such topics as Baby Sign Language, Sleep Techniques and Making your own baby food , spoil yourself with mocktails from HINT water, mini massages, hand and nail treatments, and goody bags for the first 150 attendees. Check out baby and maternity clothing, including items from local designers, most discounted from regular retail price. Enter the fair photo contest at the Sugarbaby Photography Photobooth and win a free photoshoot. Then, enter a raffle to win one of several grand prizes such as A Joovy, Bumbleride, Orbit & Mountain Buggy stroller.

San Francisco Birth & Baby Fair Stats:
SUNDAY - October 2nd - 10a to 4p
the Fort Mason Center Herbst Pavilion
99 Marina Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94123


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Child Advertising

Brain research shows that children at the age of 13 months can remember a single event up to one week after seeing it, a 1.5 year old can remember a single event up to 4 months afterwards!  Who knows this best, advertisers.

There is a reason that Sweden has banned tv ads aimed at children under 12.  Are there any rules in the US?  Must do more research.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great News--Tum e Time starting in SF!

I'm confirming the last of the details, but it looks like a Tum e Time class will be scheduled for Fridays starting Sept. 23 in the Mission District, SF.

I've been wanting to and have been asked to offer classes in San Francisco for many years.  I'm thankful that the owner of the Sun Room approached me to teach at her lovely, light filled, BART accessible studio.

I will keep you posted, but please spread the word around :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Mom's Group forming at BirthWays

Take some time to give back to yourself and share the intensity and joys of new motherhood with other moms. This 6 week facilitated series will cover such topics as: sharing birth stories, finding time to heal your body and mind, feeding your baby, adjusting to your new identity as a parent, trusting yourself enough to know when not to listen to another piece of "good" advice, navigating changing relationships with partners and friends, going out with your baby, preparing to go back to work or stay home with baby, sleep... what sleep? And most importantly, realizing that you are not alone in this journey.
*Facilitated by local birth & postpartum doulas - Stacia Biltekoff & Anna Bahnson

*There are two 6 week fall/winter sessions:

  Sept. 9th to Oct. 14th and
  Oct. 28th to Dec. 9th

*Fridays from 1:00-3:00

*At Birthways -1600 Shattuck Ave., Ste 122

*The cost is $175 for the entire session.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sensory Exploration

Anyone who has been in my class knows that I advocate for sensory exploration from a young age.  Which is why I cringed when I saw this picture of the latest, must have piece of equipment where the baby is removed from the beautiful surroundings and not able to fully explore the environment.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nursery Art by Joanna

Looking for something for your child's wall?  Check out this introduction and nursery art by tum e time mom, Joanna. 

"i am a self taught visual artist who often works with reuse materials.  my compositions are mixed media, finished in resin.  creativity is drawn from all that surrounds me and presently, the magnificent force of my daughter is all engaging.  viewing the world has taken on a new meaning, as now it is through her eyes.  with eye candy in abundance, everything is a new experience and lesson learned.  toys have become a great resource for this purpose and a body of work is evolving.  the pieces i am creating are 20"x16" and composed of 80 toys with each framed by a picture slide.  from a nest with hatching eggs to a thermometer reading 102, a letter ready to be sent and lucite pink stiletto;  each piece is unique and an excellent learning and identification tool. there are toys for shape identification, numbers to be counted, colors to be appreciate, nouns to be recognized and your imagination to be fully inspired. as i signed each piece today, the only title that came to mind was "play with me."  how a' propos?"

Find out more at her website:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

People in the Neighborhood--Sarah Brick, Nutrition Educator

I recently met Sarah at the SF Baby Fair and after talking with her many times since I can honestly say that she has much to offer to you and your family!  As a mother of the cutest baby boy, she has first-hand experience gathering ideas that are both nutritious and tasty for families with babies ready to start solids. She can also help if you are looking to explore new foods for you and your baby.

If you are in my tum e time series, you will receive a helpful handout from Sarah called Introducing First Baby Foods and a coupon for $20 off her services!  And now, introducing, Sarah....

Sarah grew up in the English countryside.  She considers herself very lucky to have had the chance to collect eggs from the family chickens daily and even help her dad pluck them in preparation for cooking. Helping her mum cook traditional foods inspired Sarah later in life to cultivate a family centered kitchen.

An avid traveler, she found herself settling in the Bay Area seven years ago and has embraced the temperate climate and abundance of fresh local produce at the farmers markets. Her passion for good food led her to study Holistic Nutrition at Bauman College. When she became pregnant in 2009, she enjoyed a complication free pregnancy and was able to work out up until the day she gave birth. Sarah attributes her energy throughout pregnancy and into motherhood to her knowledge of nutrition.
Sarah founded at the beginning of 2011. She specializes in nutritional support for pregnant women, postpartum recovery and families. 
Services she provides for families around the Bay Area are: cultivating healthy meal times through cooking classes in your own home, introducing solid food to babies, market shopping trips and pantry restocks.
She teaches monthly Healthy Pregnancy classes at Sage Femme Birthing Center and is a member of the NANP – National Association Of Nutrition Professionals.
You can contact her at:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Can a Playground Be Too Safe?

If you look back in my blog, you will find pictures I took of fantastic playgrounds in England.  I was thrilled to see the zip lines, high climbing structure,  merry-go-rounds and large swimming puddles.  This NYT article touches on why the US is creating 'safer' playgrounds.  The law suits may be down, but what are we offering our children?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

We are blessed to have an overwhelming amount of practitioners that offer support to new parents in the Bay Area.

As a new addition to my blog, I'd like to start introducing you to some of the finest teachers/businesses in the area.

Please look for these introductions in the coming months and contact them for more information about their specialty.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hold On To Your Kids

I just finished watching the dvd by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, the same title of his award winning book, Hold On To Your Kids.  Although I have read the book, revisiting the information as Dr. Neufeld spoke affected me even more.  There were many topics to quote, but this one seems most important to me at the moment.

" What is the most likely thing for a North American parent to do when a child misbehaves?.....Time Out.  Send the child away, which involves what?....Separation.  It says to the child that your behavior is more important than the relationship.  And it creates insecurity in a child which we have known for a while, a long time now, in developmental science that is absolutely essential for the unfolding of personality, health and well being."

If you haven't read Dr. Neufeld's work, I highly recommend it!  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Where to donate used toys?

For local East Bay places to donate toys....

Bananas (on Claremont Ave.) in Oakland

Childwatch at the Berkeley YMCA

Headstart programs

Many Foam Baby Products Contain Harmful Neurotoxins

I received a petition to sign from the group, MomsRising.  This has been in the news this week, but this is taken directly from their email.

 "This week I found out my son's car seat probably contains neurotoxins and carcinogens! (1)

I thought my little boy was safe when I buckled him into his cozy car seat.

But then I saw the news.  A study just published in the journal "Environmental Science & Technology” found that the majority of foam samples from baby products  (like car seats, changing pads, and infant carriers) were laced with toxic flame retardants shown to be neurotoxins and carcinogens. (2) Yikes!

After reading this information, my first instinct was to ransack my bedrooms and closets, and make sure not a single shred of foam was left in my house. But after a deep breath (well, maybe a few deep breaths), I realized there's a better, long-term solution, for all of us.

We need Congress to effectively regulate toxic chemicals in this country and make it easier for us to keep toxics out of our homes and lives.

*Please ask your U.S. Senators to immediately co-sponsor, and urge your leaders to support, the Safe Chemicals Act today!

When I read about this new foam study, I was super shocked that toxic chemicals are in so many children's products.  I was also blown away by the information about the double-dose of chemicals kids get through both touch AND through the air. (3) That means my asthmatic son is exposed to toxic chemicals through both his skin while he sits in his car seat AND through his lungs as he breathes the air around his car seat.

The neurotoxins and carcinogens in many flame-retardant foams aren't just in baby products, they're also in our couches and chairs.  In fact these toxins are so prevalent, a recent study found them present in nearly 100% of the U.S. population.  And these toxins have been shown to cause reproductive, thyroid, endocrine, developmental and neurological disorders including decreased fertility, birth defects, learning disorders, and hyperactivity in animal studies. (4)

(To learn about how to reduce your family's exposure to these chemicals, check out the information in the P.S. below.)

The Safe Chemicals Act is a much needed update to our not-so-current toxics legislation, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. In 1976, we didn't know as much about how toxic chemicals can migrate into our bodies and accumulate causing health issues now or decades later. Under the outdated TSCA, the EPA has only been able to require testing of a few hundred of the 62,000 chemicals that have been on the market since TSCA was passed, a number that has increased to 85,000 chemicals today. (5)

Thirty-five years after this law was first passed, the Federal Center for Disease Control has found that every American carries hundreds of these chemicals through their blood and tissues. These chemicals aren't just in our bodies; they're in our babies too. Just last year, the President's Cancer Panel found over 300 contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. (6)  It's clearly time to update this outdated toxics law!

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have already spoken up for our kids and have come out in favor of toxic chemical reform, but now our leaders need to hear from you. (7)

Our kids deserve safe toys and car seats, and parents shouldn't have to worry about the products they buy.

Here's that link again to ask your Senator to cosponsor the Safe Chemicals Act:

And please pass this link along! We need lots of parents to speak up.  Together we can protect a lot of families and a lot of kids from harmful chemicals.

Together we are a strong voice for our families!

--Sarah, Claire, Kristin, Joan and the whole team

 P.S. Wondering how to reduce your family's exposure to this type of toxic chemicals?  Here are a few steps you can take:

1) Keep dust levels down by wet mopping and vacuuming with a HEPA filter
2) Purchase baby products and furniture filled with cotton, polyester, or wool instead of polyurethane foam
3) Avoid products that use polyurethane foam and have a TB117 label which likely contains chemical flame retardants
4) Contact manufacturers to inquire whether retardants were added to products

Some manufacturers state their products do not contain halogenated flame retardants, including (but always double check each product): BabyLuxe organic pads and mattresses, BabyBjorn baby carriers, OrbitBaby strollers and car seats, and Boppy nursing pillows.

You can read more about practical tips for reducing your family's exposure to toxins by going to these great sites:

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
Green Science Policy

(1) Freeman, Dan "Baby products contain toxic flame retardants, study says: Are kids at risk?," CBS News, May 18, 2011

(2) "Identification of Flame Retardants in Polyurethane Foam
Collected from Baby Products,"
  Environmental Science & Technology (PDF).

(3) Ibid.

(4) Green Science Policy Center

(5) The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011: Introduced Today, Legislation Would Protect American Families from Toxic Chemicals.

(6) Kristof, Nicholas, "New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer," New York Times, May 5, 2010

(7) "Pediatricians Urge Tougher Chemical Safety Law," CNN"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fussy Babies Program in Oakland

I just learned about the Fussy Babies Program for Newborns to 7 months of age in Oakland, CA.

The flyer states:

"Have concerns about your baby's crying, sleeping or feeding?  You're not alone!  We can help.  Call 510.428.3885, Extension 7229.  A Fussy Baby Program clinician will call you back promptly.  Se habla Espanol!

The Fussy Babies Program offers warmline phone calls to families in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.  Home visits are available for families in Alameda County with full-scope Medi-Cal.

A collaboration between Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland's Primary Care Clinic and Early Intervention Services Unit.
The Fussy Babies Program is an affiliate of the Fussy Babies Network at the Erikson Institute in Chicago, IL."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Summer Sunscreen

If you are looking for a sunscreen that is free of paba, parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, nano-particles, petroleums, chemicals, propylene glycol, sulfates, paba and gluten....cruelty free...and uses certified organic and natural ingredients, look no further than the Oakland company, TruKids.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has awarded TruKids entire line of natural body care for kids the safety rating of 0-3.  The safest rating of all kids skin care lines.

You will be supporting a local mom and company....go to for more information.

*Please note that babies, especially younger than 6 months, should be well covered and out of the sun. Ask your pediatrician about sun exposure and sun screen guidelines for your little ones.

**I am not compensated in any way for this post.**

Monday, April 18, 2011

Upcoming Workshops at BirthWays in Berkeley

BirthWays is struggling to keep our doors open during trying financial times, and we need your support! We're hosting a series of free, donation-based workshops, where all tax-deductible proceeds go to BirthWays. Please join us, or pass this invitation along to other new and expecting parents and professionals who might be interested.

AcupunctureAcupuncture for Fertility, Pregnancy & Birth
April 26, 6:30-8pm
BirthWays, 1600 Shattuck Ave, Suite 122, Berkeley CA
Free, donation-based event
Seating is limited. You must register here to reserve your space.

Come and learn from a licensed acupunturist how acupuncture can support your fertility, health and a smooth labor and birth.
Presenter: Frank Griffo, L.Ac.
Suggested donation $15 - 35, all proceeds go to BirthWays

Nutrition for Expecting Moms
Nutrition orange
May 12, 6:30pm - 8pm
BirthWays, 1600 Shattuck Ave, Suite 122, Berkeley CA
Free, donation-based event
Seating is limited. You must register here to reserve your space.

Learn about your nutritional needs during pregnancy, postpartum healing, breastfeeding, and how to begin introducing solids into your baby's diet.
Presenter: Angie Needels, Certified Natural Chef and Nutrition Educator
Suggested donation $15 - 35, all proceeds go to BirthWays

Choosing Childcare
Childcare mom
June 13, 6:30pm - 8pm
BirthWays, 1600 Shattuck Ave, Suite 122, Berkeley CA
Free, donation-based event
Seating is limited. You must register here to reserve your space.

Learn about your options when choosing child care, how to assess the quality of a childcare, and how to choose one that's the best fit for you!
Presenter: Judy Kriege, Bananas
Suggested donation $15 - 35, all proceeds go to BirthWays

Children nutrition cake Nourishing Our Children
June 20, 10am - 12:30pm
BirthWays, 1600 Shattuck Ave, Suite 122, Berkeley CA
Free, donation-based event
Seating is limited. You must register here to reserve your space.

Come learn tips and secrets on meeting your child's nutritional needs with delicious, healthy foods.
Presenter: Angie Needels, Certified Natural Chef and Nutrition Educator
Suggested donation $15 - 45, all proceeds go to BirthWays

Infant & Toddler Language Development
Baby language
June 20, 6:30pm - 8pm
BirthWays, 1600 Shattuck Ave, Suite 122, Berkeley CA
Free, donation-based event
NOTE: Seating is limited. You must register here to reserve your space.

Learn about language and cognitive development in babies and young children, including the roles of social interaction and media.
Presenter: Dr. Priya Shimpi, Mills College
Suggested donation $15 - 35, all proceeds go to BirthWays

We hope to see you there!
The BirthWays Team

BirthWays, 1600 Shattuck Ave, Suite 122, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Babies are Invited to Visit Elders at Chaparral House in Berkeley

I have been involved in intergenerational programing at Chaparral House for the past couple years.  Our group of 4 year old and up has been providing a variety of shows for the elders.  It has always been my dream to do more mixing of elders and children as they are both populations that could benefit from each others charm. 

Last week, I witnessed as a crawling baby wandered over to an older gentleman.  His face lit up as he opened his arms up to welcome this happy little one into his lap.  This brief, quiet interaction was extremely powerful as two different generations shared each others joy. 

The Chaparral House in Berkeley is a special place to visit.  And now they are inviting babies into their 'house'!

Here is a flyer they sent out:
Chaparral House
Intergenerational Visits

Visit our elders with your Babies!

Come visit weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.  Sit in a common area or visit a few residents in their rooms and watch the joy you and your baby bring to
the faces of our elders.

Baby & Mom’s Groups: Come visit our elders!

Pregnant Women:  Share the experience of your pregnancy with our residents

Contact Erika Shaver-Nelson
Events Coordinator
To Schedule Your Next Visit!

(510) 848-8774

Chaparral House is a non-profit skilled nursing community that provides the highest quality of residential healthcare to Berkeley and the extended community. 
Our residents range in age form 60 to 100.  Many of our residents have limited vision and are hard of hearing, most use wheelchairs for mobility and some are confused or forgetful.  Our residents have led active lives, traveling to foreign countries and being active in community affairs. Our residents have worked as college professors, doctors, teachers, scientists, artists, homemakers and volunteers.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept passed away

I have recommended The Continuum Concept book since the day I finished reading it.  It is a book worthy of a read for everyone.

This was taken from The Liedloff Continuum Network (

Jean Liedloff Photo"March 15, 2011 – Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept, passed away peacefully in her home, a houseboat near San Francisco. She had been ill for many months and was receiving hospice care to ease her suffering.

Prior to her passing, Jean expressed gratitude for a fulfilling life and the honor of carrying a message that has positively affected the lives of so many children and parents. She felt happy knowing that those people are keeping her message alive by living it and sharing it with others.

A detailed obituary is now being written and will be posted here soon. We also have plans to create a memorial website where Jean's readers and friends will be able to post their thoughts about the impact of her work on their lives."

Blessings + Thanks Jean.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Babies in Buckets?

Here is a picture taken in the Netherlands, 24 March 2009.  Babies sit in water-filled tubs to cool down after a baby massage class.  The 'cooling down' is to stimulate a womb-like environment.  Look at those expressions!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Homemade Fingerpaint For Your Baby

Most finger paints are not meant for little ones, but they want to explore textures too!  So next time you need an art activity for your baby try these ideas.  Babies can do this directly on their highchair tray, the table in front of them, a cafeteria style tray, freezer paper or paper grocery bags work (you might need to tape it down for it to stay put).

For this recipe, all you need is flour, water and preferably a natural food coloring (Have you seen these?  Blue from blueberries, red from beets, etc.  Check them out at your local grocery store).  Pour one cup of flour into a bowl, slowly stir water into the flour until you have a mixture that feels like fingerpaint.  Add several drops of the coloring (as many as you'd like the color to be).  You can always separate into smaller bowls to make multiple colors.

Voila!  Safe finger paint for your baby.  Also, try an array of messy, spreadable foods!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Children's Playground Designs in England

Through my travels I always take pictures of interesting playgrounds and other kid friendly places.   Here are some highlights from our last trip to England.  I will have to also recommend the Princess Diana Playground in Hyde Park, London.   Although I didn't post all the pictures of my family enjoying themselves!

I am always amazed how other countries will offer what the US feels is unsafe.  Look at the kiddie splash pool in the one shot, no fence, just an wide open puddle!  Also, this trip, I found that a lot of playgrounds have added zip lines!  Imagine kids 'flying' through the air and jolted to a stop at the end.   Although we live in California, rarely have I seen sunshades at parks...and this is England where they don't get as much sun!  And finally, ah, every one of these playgrounds has a cafe.  A cafe!  Think, cup of tea, snacks for kids, right there where you are playing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What about Daddy?

It's so nice when dads can join the tum e time class, either by themselves or with their family.  Dad resources are growing, here are a couple recommended groups in the East Bay.

Jon Sarlin:  There are two groups, both free and informal.  One is for expecting dads and newborns, the other for 10 months and up.  Information can be found on Craigslist or you can call Jon at 510.595.4662.

Fathers Forum:  Bruce Linton, leads an on going Men's Group for Fathers group in Berkeley and a 2.5 hour "Becoming a Father Class" at Alta Bates.  For more information on these and other resources, you can go to or call Bruce at 510.644.0300.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Effort to Restore Children's Play Gains Momentum NYT article

This is a link to a New York Times article dated Jan. 5, 2011.  While the article is all about restoring children's playtime, kudos to those of us who have always known that play IS the most important work of children!