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,