Natural Parenting


Nursing Toddlers: How Old Is Too Old? 0

 Nursing babies are a beautiful sight. Many mothers fall in love with their children as they watch them suckle and drift contentedly off to sleep. Babies are happiest while in their mother's arms. While few would argue that nursing babies are adorable, what's to be done with a toddler who stomps their foot in defiance and demands to be nursed right now? How old is too old to be breast fed? Choosing to breastfeed your baby may have been a simple decision but determining when to wean a child can be difficult. When many mothers begin to breastfeed their babies, they assume that weaning will occur naturally. For some breast fed babies, the transition from the breast to the cup comes with a fight. Nursing babies who have a difficult time adjusting to life away from the breast may be objecting to more than just weaning. Some breast fed babies crave the physical closeness of nursing more than breast milk. Determining if this is true for your child can help make the transition easier for both mother and child. Continuing to hold your child during feedings can help reduce the shock of weaning for a sensitive child. While the appropriate age to wean a child is not set in stone, it is culturally acceptable in America to nurse a child for the first twelve months even though it is preposterous to assume that the benefits of breastfeeding suddenly end at 12 months of age.. Once solid foods are introduced into the child's diet and they begin to walk, American customs call for the weaning of the child. Some breast feeding women choose to extend this period of nursing, sometimes until the child leaves for kindergarten. While many of them wean their babies shortly before returning to the workforce, some continue to pump breast milk and bottle feed their babies for several years. The choice really is up to each woman and many choose to ignore social norms. Breast feeding women can even choose to keep their extended breastfeeding a secret by storing breast milk in the refrigerator disguised as cow's milk or formula. When a mother decides to stop breastfeeding, she can feel a sense of loss and sadness as a chapter of her baby's life comes to a close. Sensing this unhappiness in the mother, a child can exhibit fussiness and tantrums during a mother's attempts to stop breastfeeding. Before attempting to stop breastfeeding, a nursing mother must come to grips with any unresolved feelings she may be experiencing about weaning her child. Mothers who choose to formula feed a nursing infant can be in for a fight unless the transition is made slowly. Abruptly springing a formula feed schedule in place of breast feeding sessions can be traumatic to nursing babies. The bottle should be introduced slowly and be filled with 100% breast milk at first. Formula can be slowly added to subsequent bottles of breast milk until the child is completely weaned from the breast. Gradually substitute a breast feeding session with a bottle feeding session over a period of several weeks if possible. Once a child is accustomed to the 100% formula feed schedule, the mother should continue to provide physical interaction with the baby during bottle feeding sessions to continue bonding and provide intense social interaction for the child. Nursing toddlers can transition smoothly to the bottle or sippy cup if a nursing mother is emotionally prepared to wean her baby. Armed with a few facts, mothers can help nursing babies adjust smoothly to being away from the breast. Not all nursing babies will be pleasant to nurse as they grow to be nursing toddlers. Each woman must decide for herself when her child needs to stop breastfeeding. by Mike Selvon About the Author: Breast feeding is an important aspect of your new born baby. Mike Selvon's portal has more information about nursing babies. Visit our portal and leave a comment at our breastfeeding blog. Buy the book: Mothering Your Nursing Toddler[affiliate link] Image Source:

Farm Vacations for Your Family 0

Take Your Family on an Unforgettable Vacation: Visit a Farm! As you are planning your next vacation do you get sticker shock from the cost of accommodations, airfare and meals? Are you tired of the usual resort or theme-park destinations where you are passively entertained (and constantly opening your wallet)? Are you searching for a vacation that will be relaxing for you and an unforgettable experience for the kids? Do you want to be at a place that is real and not manufactured? What you need is a good old-fashioned farm vacation. Staying at a farm - even if you just stay a weekend - is an experience your family will never forget. If you have kids, it is a chance for them to experience firsthand where food comes from and even help with farm chores, such as feeding baby lambs and collecting eggs. It a way out of the hustle and bustle of modern life; it is a retreat that brings you and your family back to America's farm roots and a calmer, simpler way of life. Farm vacations are not new. In fact, 50 years ago city dwellers who needed a break would call their country cousins for a respite from urban life. However, today, with less than 2% of the U.S. population now living on working farms, finding a relative with a farm is unlikely for most people. But now more than ever -- with the frenetic pace of suburban & urban life at full tilt -- we all desperately need a vacation "away from it all." Luckily there still many farmers who, in addition to farming, love to play host to their urban "cousins." These farmers are part of an ever-growing trend of agri-tourism. According to a recent article in the Boston Globe the farm vacation is increasingly becoming a popular getaway among suburban families. This trend is being fueled by a surging interest in environmentally-conscious tourism and the increased enthusiasm for local organic food among suburbanites and urban dwellers - who rightly believe that children ought to know and understand where food comes from. What's it like to stay on a farm? Imagine for a moment waking to the sound of the rooster crowing and chickens clucking. How about rolling out of bed and collecting fresh eggs with your kids for your breakfast? You can then stroll around the farm, go fishing, milk a cow, sip lemonade on the rocking chair on the porch, feed a baby lamb out of a bottle, or go for a hayride. The pace and pressures of everyday life slip away. This is a place you can really "let go" on vacation, participate in some real down-to-earth activities, eat wholesome home-grown and cooked meals, and probably have the best sleep you've had in years. Many parents who have taken a farm vacation report that it is more relaxing than a traditional vacation (such as at a Club Med or Disney World), plus farm vacations promote simpler values they want to instill in their children - like hard work and respect for nature. A farm vacation is not only relaxing, but it is a true bargain. The average middle income American family spends hundreds of dollars annually in its two weeks' pursuit of fun and relaxation. You probably lay out even more money on camping equipment, special vehicles, boats, motorcycles, gasoline, motels, restaurants, camping fees, portable TVs, movies, liquor, repair bills and more. Sometimes you need a vacation after your vacation to recover from the stress of spending all that money and not really having a relaxing time. Your farm vacation helps not only your family, but small family farms. Taking a farm vacation not only benefits you and your family - but farmers as well. For farmers - the influx of guests who are willing to pay for lodging and the "farm experience" is becoming vital to their economic survival and preserving the rural landscape. In fact, farms who include some kind of "agri-tourism" (such as farm stays) are managing to stay afloat and even thrive. With many independent farms on the verge of extinction, cash-strapped farmers are finding a good stream of income hosting urban/suburban guests...who actually want to milk their cows and gather eggs! So this season, instead of taking your usual vacation, pack your bags, your muck boots, and your sense of adventure and head for the nearest farm. It will be an experience you and your kids will be talking about for years to come. By Marcia Passos Duffy About the author:Marcia Passos Duffy is the author of the e-book, "Farm Stays: Northern New England. Your Guide to an Unforgettable Farm Vacation". Marcia is also the publisher of the free online magazine, The Heart of New England Image Source: Buy the Book: Farm Stays

Baby Skin Conditions 7

Common Baby Skin Conditions A newborn baby's skin is soft and also very delicate. It would be difficult to find a baby with "completely flawless" skin in the first weeks to months of life. For a few weeks after birth, the mother's hormones will continue to circulate through a baby's system. These hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands. Conditions caused by this over stimulation of maternal hormones can cause symptoms such as infantile acne and cradle cap. A child's skin defense system has not fully matured which makes their skin vulnerable to effects such as - irritation, nappy (diaper) rash, infection, temperature and other conditions such as miliaria. Most of these conditions are not harmful and will usually clear as baby grows. Typical skin conditions found in young babies include: Infantile Acne Some baby's will develop lesions on the face. These are thought to occur as a result of mother's hormones which, as mentioned above, are still present in a baby's blood system. The acne will usually clear up on it's own. If the acne shows signs of being infected you may need treatment or advice from a doctor. Cradle Cap Babies will sometimes develop a build up of greasy white or brown scales on the scalp or forehead. It is not likely to occur after 12 - 18 months of age. It usually appears within days of birth. The condition is not serious and will usually clear up itself. For a natural approach to treatment try massaging the baby's scalp with an organic marigold (calendula) ointment. This will help with healing and will ease any itching that may occur. Diaper Rash As we have learned above, a child's skin is delicate and as such most babies will develop some degree of nappy rash from birth up to around 2 years of age. Nappy rash, which develops around the butt and genital area is usually caused by a reaction of feces and urine. It can appear as red blotches in the early stages but can spread into generalized redness. Incidentally, your child will never get a diaper rash if you don't use diapers. Consider elimination communication. Miliaria This condition which is more commonly known as "Sweat rash" or "prickly heat", is caused due to a hot, humid environment causing a blockage of the sweat glands. The rash will develop around areas prone to sweating such as the folds at the elbows and knees and between the buttocks. It can occur at any age, however newborns are more susceptible to miliaria. The rash should disappear in time. Keep your child cool and avoid over dressing during warmer weather. Frequent cool baths will help with itching and irritation while the rash heals. If your child's spots or rashes seem inflamed or infected you should take your child to the doctor. Your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics or antiseptic cream such as lignocaine to be applied directly to the spots or rash. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist for assistance and advice on managing your child's skin irritations. by Eric J. Smith About the Author: Eric J Smith is an Organic Gardener & a Passionate Environmentalist. He is dedicated to promoting the need for a chemical free environment. Find out more on Organic Skin & Personal Care Products Image Source:

Babywearing Makes a Difference 0

Bringing Up a Smart, Happy Baby How Babywearing Makes a Difference Have you ever wondered how you can get your baby to stop crying? How you can get something done around the house when your baby doesn't want to be put down? Have you wondered how you will get out and about now that you have a baby? Babywearing will calm your baby down, let you work with both hands free, and give you complete freedom to get out of house - all while your baby is securely on your body. Even celebrity mamas are realizing just how wonderful babywearing is. Mamas like Angelina Jolie, Michelle Williams, Liv Tyler, and Joely Fisher have all been spotted wearing their babies around. Babywearing is easy - just pick up one of the many baby carriers on the market and pop your baby inside. Most carriers come with clear photo instructions and some even come with videos to help you learn to wear your baby! Your baby will love being close to your body. A fussy baby is soothed by the rocking motion as you walk with him in the carrier. It's similar to how he felt in the womb - including the close, cradled position. As your baby grows you can carry her sitting up and facing out or straddling your hip. She can see the world and you can get out in the world! Your baby will be able to interact with others in a way that is just not possible when she's close to the ground in a stroller. Babies in traditional societies were able to learn how their family and culture worked right from the start - because they were right there with their mothers. Your baby can have the same benefit. Your baby will pick up on language quickly because he'll be listening to you as you talk with other adults. The shifting and bouncing that your child gets in the baby carrier will help enhance her sense of balance. She'll gain muscle tone and strength as she travels with you and learns how to adjust her body in the sling or carrier. It will also make her happy to be an active part of your day. Having your baby snuggled in the sling or cheerfully straddling your hip will leave your hands free to get some things done. Some baby carriers even allow you to put your older child on your back. What fun for baby and how nice for you! You'll easily be able to handle the housework. And you'll be able to take your baby out without having to lug a heavy stroller or baby carrier. Your sling or baby carrier will also keep your baby close to you. People are less likely to ask to hold your baby while she is safely in the baby carrier. You can nurse your baby discreetly in a sling. And when you are in crowded areas your baby will feel more secure and be happier - meaning you can still hit your favorite malls or enjoy popular natural trails. Wearing your baby in a baby carrier will result in a happier, more secure baby. And you'll be a happy mama (or maybe daddy!) knowing that you can take care of life and still get out to play - all with your bouncing baby on your hip! by Kristen Hart About the Author: Kristen Hart is the owner of Natural Birth and Baby, a website devoted to healthy pregnancy, natural birth, and the best baby care. You can learn more about babywearing and research all different types of baby carriers at Baby Wearing, The Benefits and Beauty of This Ancient TraditionSheryl's comment: As a single mother, my New Native Carrier was the one thing that I absolutely positively could not live without. My daughter is now two and we still use it regularly. She sits in it rather than laying down so we can dash through airports, stroll through farmers markets or just walk to grandma and grandpas without all the extra "stuff". I usually ask her if she wants the sling or stroller and she will inevitably pick the sling. While using the sling we talk and I get to shower her little noodle with kissies. While she is in the stroller however, we are generally just lost in our own thoughts. A stroller ride is a far cry from bonding. When she was younger I regularly nursed her in public and people never knew. The outside of the sling covered her head and people thought she was sleeping. If I have the privilege of having another child I can pretty much guarantee that I will use the sling even more especially during the first 9 months or so. Babies love it and I promise that it makes your life unbelievably easier. Buy Babywearing, The Benefits and Beauty of This Ancient Tradition Image Source:

Autism and Environmental Triggers 11

Autism and Environmental Triggers Autism spectrum disorders are an ever increasing problem in the developed world, being the most prevalent developmental disorders by far. Currently more than 1 in 200 children are believed to be afflicted, and this could mean as many as 1 in 100 boys, as they are more widely affected than girls. The numbers continue to rise and actual figures for those affected may be much higher than what is reported as there is a general feeling that many pediatricians continue to miss telltale signs of autism spectrum disorders. For a long time, research efforts have concentrated on finding genetic clues to the origins of autism. The general view within the medical community has been that the condition is entirely predetermined by a child's genes and there is nothing that can currently be done about it medically with regards to treatment. Over recent years however, a considerable amount of evidence has started to pile up suggesting that environmental triggers probably play a major role in autistic spectrum disorders. An increasing number of people, including individuals and families affected by the conditions and many medical professionals, feel that the correlation between increases in autism and the increasing presence of chemicals and other pollutants in the environment is too strong to ignore. Babies and young children are exposed to a terrifying array of chemicals including ingredients in household cleaning products and personal care products, soft plastics in toys that are known to end up in children's body's, as well as such controversial substances as thimerosal, the mercury containing preservative used in some vaccinations. A child's vulnerable body also has to deal with an added assault from vaccinations themselves, as well as many pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics that tend to be given too freely. Perhaps even more frightening is the fact that a child in the 21st century is exposed to a wide variety of synthetic chemical toxins before it is even born through contamination of its mother's body. Organizations such as National Geographic, Environmental Defence in Canada, and The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the UK have all funded investigations that have revealed that everybody in the developed world is carrying a cocktail of the chemicals around with them in their bodies. Environmental Defence recently tested four prominent Canadian politicians for the presence of residues from 103 different chemical pollutants. The group included Health Minister Tony Clement. The results showed that around 50 pollutants were present in each of the politicians. Amongst the chemicals detected was arsenic, the toxic heavy metal, organophosphate pesticides whose residues persist on our food and in the water supply, as well as various flame retardant chemicals used in a multitude of products from computers to soft furnishings. Many of the chemicals detected are known neurotoxins that likely pose a risk to a child's delicate developing brain. Environmental Defence had previous tested a much larger number of ordinary Canadians and detected a large number of chemical pollutants in everybody involved. It seems nobody can escape in the modern world. Thankfully things are starting to change and the link between environmental triggers and autism is beginning to get the attention it needs. There is a growing consensus that autism spectrum disorders are likely to result from interplay between genetic susceptibilities and exposures to environmental triggers such as those we've discussed. This new realization is being helped in no small part by advocate groups such as the Autism Society of America (ASA) who are doing much to raise awareness of the issue. The ASA recently launched a major initiative aimed at raising awareness of the role environmental triggers play in the development of autistic disorders. The campaign includes a special issue of their magazine, the Autism Advocate, as well as a new website section devoted to the subject. Let's take a closer look at specific environmental triggers that may play a role in autistic spectrum disorders: Heavy Metals These highly toxic heavy metals include mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. A number of researchers have found that autistic children tend to have more of these substances in their body than healthy children. The most common of these tends to be mercury. This metal is a known neurotoxin and could be especially damaging to the sensitive brains of young children. Mercury can also disrupt the function of various enzyme systems and damage cell membranes and many proteins involved in all bodily functions. Recent research studies have concluded that the exposure of children to low levels of mercury during critical stages of development is associated with neurological disorders, including ADHD, learning difficulties, and speech delays. Mercury is a by-product of many industries and often ends up in rivers, lakes and oceans. The mercury then accumulates in the food chain so that large predatory fish such as tuna often contain high concentrations. Contamination of water and food supplies is now a major source of mercury and may pose a risk to the health of children. Equally, or perhaps more, frightening is the fact that mercury has been routinely added to childhood vaccinations in the form of the preservative thimerosal. This substance is approximately 50% mercury. An article published in the journal Neurotoxicology by The Coalition for Safe Minds in 2001 reported on the finding that a child given a regular vaccination schedule in the US, using thimerosal containing vaccines, would have a blood level of mercury that is higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) own safe upper limit. Other studies have found that low concentrations of thimerosal trigger an immune response and the production of antibodies in autistic children. This sets the scene for autoimmune reactions if thimerosal is bound to the body's tissues. Some research and anecdotal reports suggest that therapies to remove heavy metals from the body, known as chelation therapies, are effective in treating the symptoms of autism. Chemical Exposure Over the past few decades a number of hazardous chemicals such as lead, asbestos, and organochlorine based insecticides have all disappeared from common use in developed nations. In contrast other supposedly safer alternatives, such as organophosphate pesticides, have become more widespread in the environment. The Autism Research Unit at the University of Sunderland in the UK has published extensively on a potential connection between these organophosphate pesticides and autism. They note that autistic individuals show increased levels of IAG, a chemical which is only produced as a result of the incorrect metabolism of the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid is the starting point for the production of the important neurotransmitter serotonin which is essential for regulating mood and other brain functions. The researchers believe that organophosphate pesticides may be causing the elevated IAG and the resulting serotonin dysfunction. Organophosphates had their birth as chemical warfare agents, so called 'nerve gases'. They fulfilled this function because of their ability to cause paralysis by inhibiting certain enzyme systems. Even modern organophosphate pesticides tend to be fairly unspecific in their action so have the unfortunate ability to compromise various other enzyme systems as well, including those that metabolize tryptophan to produce serotonin. This could account for the symptoms of autism and other developmental disorders. Additionally, high levels of organophosphate compounds in the environment could reportedly result in increased permeability of the intestines, so called 'leaky gut syndrome' as well as blood-brain barrier. This could result in partially digested food molecules passing into the bloodstream and causing the production of antibodies. This would lead to allergic and autoimmune reactions which are a common feature of autism. These molecules would also play havoc with brain function directly as they could more easily pass through the weakened blood-brain barrier. Organophosphate pesticides are by no means the only potential chemical triggers of autism, but they are certainly a leading candidate. As mentioned previously, everyday items such as consumer electronic products are also a major worry due to their content of chemicals such as flame retardants. Vaccinations Probably the most controversial subject regarding environmental triggers and autism is the role of vaccinations. Aside from the thimerosal issue it has been suggested that multiple vaccinations early in life may cause unhealthy changes in the immune systems of susceptible children. A high prevalence of allergies, autoimmune disease, and gut infections in autistic children would seem to lend weight to this idea. It's worth noting that in the natural order of things, infectious agents must enter the body through the mucous membranes of the intestines or lungs which have a high concentration of specialized immune cells designed to be the body's first line of defense. Injecting people with infectious agents in vaccines bypasses this vital first step of the immune response. Some highly qualified individuals have postulated that vaccines inherently cause a shift to a Th2 immune response in susceptible individuals of any age. The Th2 response is associated with allergies and autoimmunity. The most controversial aspect of the already controversial subject of vaccinations is undoubtedly the combined Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. In 1998 research published by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in the UK sent the media into a frenzy. Dr. Wakefield was studying the connection between gut disorders and autism in a group of children that presented with both. He unexpectedly found traces of viruses from the MMR vaccine in the children's intestinal tissue in areas of inflammation. The parents also reported that problems had started around the time the children had received the MMR vaccine. This led to the assertion that the MMR vaccine had caused the autism and gut problems. The debate has raged ever since over whether MMR vaccines do actually play a role in autism and opinions have become polarized. Since the publishing of Dr. Wakefield's paper researchers have attempted to validate or refute the connection. Whilst some have said there is no connection at all, some researchers have noted that autistic children with gut problems that became ill after receiving the MMR vaccine show unique biochemical abnormalities. They suggest that these children may represent a subset of autism that differs from the classical diagnosis. Intestinal Yeast/Candida In health, the human intestines contain many billions of bacteria, yeasts, and other micro-organisms. These micro-organisms perform many important functions such as regulating immune-function and preventing infection. They live symbiotically with the human host and the competition for space ensures that no single type of organism becomes dominant. Unfortunately, factors such as antibiotic use and lack of breastfeeding can compromise the gut flora and allow organisms such as Candida Albicans to become the predominant species. This yeast can become parasitic when it is allowed to increase in numbers. It produces many toxic substances as a result of its metabolism, the main ones being ethanol (drinking alcohol) and acetaldehyde, an even more toxic chemical formed when ethanol is broken down in the human body. We all know the effects of drinking alcoholic beverages, imagine how a baby or small child would be affected if constantly exposed to ethanol and acetaldehyde being produced in its intestines by yeast such as Candida. This is not the end of the story either as Candida species produce dozens of other potentially toxic substances in addition to these two. In relation to autism, a number of researchers report detecting high levels of yeast metabolites in the blood and urine of autistic children. Dr. Shaw of The Great Plains Laboratory, formerly a medical director at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports that he routinely finds high levels of tartaric acid in the urine of children with autism and that the most likely source is intestinal yeast overgrowth. He states that when treated with Nystatin, an antifungal drug that is not absorbed from the intestines, the children show remarkable improvements in their condition. Critics suggest that tartaric acid is not a reliable marker for yeast infection. This issue may be resolved in future when autistic children are tested for an accepted definitive marker such as the 'sugar alcohol', D- arabinitol. Gluten and Casein There is a theory for the causation of autism known as the 'opioid excess theory'. What this says is that various peptides (chains of amino acids) from incompletely digested foods, particularly gluten from wheat and other grains, and casein from milk products, are able to enter the bloodstream as a result of poor digestion and leaky gut syndrome. Once in the bloodstream a proportion of these peptides are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain. If the barrier has been weakened by organophosphate pesticides or other chemical agents then a higher proportion of peptides will be able to penetrate. In the brain these peptides are able to interfere with normal brain function. The name of the theory comes from the startling fact that gluten, casein, and other peptides actually mimic the opioids(morphine-like chemicals). These peptides act likes the bodies own natural opioids (such as the enkephalins or endorphins) and cause various behavioral changes. Gluten and casein don't usually directly act as neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or dopamine, but their opioid activity often causes changes in the function of these important neurotransmitters, usually in a negative fashion. Conclusion As you can see there is ample evidence that environmental triggers play a central role in the autistic spectrum disorders. A lot more research is needed and the new awareness initiatives discussed should help with reaching this goal. On a final note, although the information presented here may be worrying, it should be seen as good news for those affected by autism. The involvement of environmental triggers in the condition provides a great opportunity for effective therapies to be used to correct the biological dysfunction they cause. With such treatments, hopes of leading a normal life are much improved. by Matthew Hogg About the Author: Matthew has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, IBS and environmental illness for 15 years after being diagnosed at age 11. Having learned much about these illnesses through personal experience and research, he decided to share this knowledge by setting up The Environmental Illness Resource - © Matthew Hogg. This article may be freely used so long as author bio remains. Image Source: