Friday, August 30, 2013

7 Quick Takes August 30, 2013

--- 1 ---
Boy #2 turned 7 months old this week. Hurray!!

--- 2 ---
Boy #2 has also finally taken an interest in actually eating solids! Pears are his favorite, but he likes sweet potatoes too. Mostly he loves eating with the family. He looks around to make sure we all see what a big boy he is!

--- 3 ---
Quinoa + chicken broth + frozen stir fry veggies is my new favorite super easy quick lunch. Definitely going into the rotation of meals we have often!

--- 4 ---
 I am on a quest to find the fluffiest wheat bread recipe I can. If you know of one please leave a link to it! So far I tried one, my standard half whole wheat sandwich bread, as a control, and I even made a video which I will post at some point!

--- 5 ---
I get to be a pattern tester for a super cute but totally boy friendly plush toy pattern and I'm so excited! Assuming it goes well, I'll ask the pattern designer to blog about my attempt and link to her Etsy store in case you want to make one too!

--- 6 ---
 I joined the Amazon affiliate program this week, so if you click through to Amazon from one of my links and buy something (it's not even restricted to the specific item I linked!), the price stays the same for you, but I get a tiny sliver of Amazon's profits! I doubt I'll make much money, but it'd be fun to make a little!

--- 7 ---
Is anyone else squeamish about cicadas? I know it's totally irrational but I just don't like them. I try not to let it show, but inside, I'm thinking "ewwwwwwww"! My son found 8 today and they are sitting in a basket in my living room. That's motherly love. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Babywearing a baby with Down Syndrome

This post is the first in probably (hopefully!) a large number about how to continue doing attachment parenting/natural parenting/etc. when presented with the unique challenges of a child with Down syndrome. I hope it's helpful to you!

With my older son, I got ridiculously lucky and won a Baby Bjorn, a Moby Wrap AND a Boba carrier through online giveaways and a Twitter party. I didn't know anything about baby carriers and probably wouldn't have spent the money to try that gear out. Since I won it, I tried it. I was instantly hooked and now consider it both essential baby gear and definitely worth the money! We mostly used the Boba, our favorite of those three options, as it was comfortable, sturdy, and very toddler-worthy. I liked the BabyBjorn, but learned that narrow seated front packs don't provide adequate support for babies' hips, and that front-facing is actually not advised by most people who have looked in depth at the ergonomics of "babywearing" (using a baby carrier). My son was actually too old for the Moby wrap by the time I got it, so I never even used it with him. But with the Boba, I walked miles and miles with my adorable son strapped to my back or tummy! It was so great to get to hold my intense, high-needs baby AND be able to go anywhere or do just about anything. After this great experience, the only thing I asked my parents for as a new baby present for son #2 was an Ergo, as I've heard great things about the ease of nursing in them and liked that you can also do hip carries.

So I was devastated when I read online and had it confirmed by our physical therapist that our soft structured carriers-our Ergo and Boba-would not be appropriate for our son with Down syndrome. But I was determined to find a carrier that would work for our son. I believe babywearing is great for all babies, but especially for babies with Down syndrome. Being close to their mama (or daddy) in a carrier or wrap stabilizes or improves heart rate, growth, and breathing patterns and decreases the incidence of ear infections, reflux, and sleep apnea, all of which babies with Down syndrome are more prone to getting than typical children (This great article cites studies for each of those amazing claims!) And it allows parents freedom to keep their special needs babies close and still go anywhere and do just about anything. When you know the average predicted walking age for your child is 2 years old, a piece of gear that allows for increased mobility and freedom for you can be a godsend! To figure out what would work for our son, I talked to two friends who recently received their physical therapy degrees, plus our own physical therapists. I researched hip dysplasia and Down syndrome generally. You'll want to of course take your child's strengths and weaknesses and invidividual health concerns (and your own) into consideration when deciding what will work for you. For our son, here's what we came up with: 

 Key Concerns
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Babies and toddlers with Down syndrome are more prone to hip location than babies in general, so it's extra important to use a carrier that supports out to the knee, thereby spreading the baby's weight away from his or her hips.
    Inadequate support: 
Well supported:

  • Joint laxity
  • People with DS basically have extra stretchy joints. This leads to a tendency to splay their legs apart, and to avoid encouraging this, it's important to have a carrier that does not spread your baby's legs wider than is natural. Imagine if you were holding your baby, asleep, against your chest while you recline in a rocking chair, and you were absent-mindededly patting his back with one hand and had the other arm under his bottom. Your goal is basically to mimic that leg and hip position as closely as possible! Some physical therapists and websites may recommend keeping legs together, but I feel there is compelling evidence that forcing legs together actually increases the risk of hip dysplasia! A more neutral, natural position is preferable to either overly splayed or forced together.

    Forced together:
    Better position:

  • Neck instability & other delayed motor skills
  • Babies and toddlers with DS tend to take longer than typical babies to develop good neck strength. It's important to choose a carrier that provides adequate neck support until baby is able to hold his own head up well. You also have to be very careful about avoiding chin-to-chest position, so I personally don't feel comfortable with pouch slings or laying down positions to nurse in other types of carriers.

  • Sensory & communication issues
  • Babies with DS tend to have delayed communication skills, may not be as reactive to sensations like pain as typical babies, and can tire easily. Because of this you have to pay very close attention to positioning them well, as they may not fuss when uncomfortable as quickly, as loudly, or as long as a typical baby would. Our son did not cry until he was several months old except from shots and blood draws!

    What works
    • Stretchy wraps
    • A Moby Wrap, Boba Wrap or other stretchy wrap is an excellent choice for a newborn with Down syndrome. They are easy to use once you get the hang of them and are very easy to get baby in and out of. They are good until baby is about 15lbs or so. 
      A Baby K'tan is a great stretchy wrap hybrid carrier-no tying needed- that was actually created by the parents of a baby with Down syndrome!! It is tested as safe for babies up to 42lbs, but most reviews I've seen say it is most comfortable for babies under 15-20lbs like traditional stretchy wraps. 

  • Woven wraps
  • Woven wraps are my favorite carrying option for my baby with an extra chromosome! Some reputable brands include Oscha, Natibaby, Didymos, and many more. Stores like Marsupial Mama and Wrap Your Baby carry many wraps from some of the best brands, and you can buy used wraps from other moms on Facebook, often for less than retail (but sometimes much more, for hard to find patterns and unique handwoven wraps!)

  • Ring slings
  • Ring slings are often made by the same companies as woven wraps, but a few companies like Maya Wrap and Sakura Bloom specialize in just ring slings. They're a sturdy and pretty grab-and-go option that many people love. I personally don't own one, but my son's physical therapist specifically mentioned them as being great, and most people I've met who like woven wraps like ring slings too. I got to borrow one from our local babywearing lending library, and to me it feels slightly less secure but also much easier to get baby in and out of than a woven wrap.

  • The right soft-structured carrier or mai tei
  • A carrier like an Ergo or Boba or an Asian style mai tei can work if the baby is big enough that he is supported out to the knees but not spread out farther than he would be if you were holding him in your arms snuggled against your stomach and chest. For most kid+carrier combos, that will probably not be until toddler days at the earliest, but some custom carrier makers can craft one especially for you that will fit at any point! Additionally, the Ergo newborn insert actually alleviates the splaying problem for newborns and is what we used the first several months of my son's life!

    Babies and toddlers with Down syndrome present some extra challenges when carrier shopping. But in almost all cases you should be able to find a carrier that fits your lifestyle and your child's strengths and challenges, so you can snuggle your sweet baby almost whatever you do and wherever you go. 

    What type of carrier is your favorite for your child? 


    I'm not a medical professional or physical therapist, and I've never met your child. I hope this information helps you find a carrier that's right for you, but please consult your child's care team and use common sense and motherly intuition to adapt or ignore my suggestions to fit your child's needs!

    Graphics used with permission of the International Hip dysplasia Institute

    Some product links are Amazon affiliate links, which means your product doesn't cost any more to you, but I get a tiny cut of Amazon's profits!

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    7 Quick Takes August 23, 2013

    --- 1 ---
    I got another woven wrap (thanks Mom and Dad!), a Diva Milano turquoise baroque lions, and it's really soft and pretty. Would anyone be interested in me writing reviews of the specific wraps I try out? 

    --- 2 ---
    If you plan on selling your old your toys, have your husband get them out of the basement and clean them off and brush their hair and take pictures of them and such or you might find yourself playing with them and not wants to give them up ever!

    --- 3 ---
    Summer came back! Hurray! I love warm weather!

    --- 4 ---
    My husband's 10 year reunion came up and I'm super worried about what to wear because he was a cool kid and I was definitely not (different schools far far away from each other though, we met in college) and I don't want people to see us and wonder why Mr. Most-Likely-to-Succeed married some frumpy nerd. 

    --- 5 ---
    We had several appointments this week and the bottom line at all of them was that our baby is awesome and people blame us for that. One doctor went so far as to suggest we adopt upon being done having biological children. Lol. Laying it on a bit thick...but I can't say I minded. 

    --- 6 ---
     Someone at Annie's must be able to read my mind, because they DID make a bigger box of Annie's Bunnies, making them cheaper per ounce than Teddy Grahams, which makes me able to justify to myself buying them instead! Hurray! My preschooler and I ate them for breakfast in our glee over the larger box size. 

    --- 7 ---
    A relative just got a new job in Kalamazoo Michigan and I'm really proud of him! Does anyone have any suggestions of places to go, things to do, what to eat, where to shop, etc in Kalamazoo? I'll happily pass your tips along to him!

    For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Sharkopedia Kids' Book Review

    What it is
    Sharkopedia is a full color children's encyclopedia all about sharks!

    Who wrote it
    Discovery Channel Books, especially Susan Knopf and Lori Stein. 

    Get it
    You can get Sharkopedia from any major book retailer. At time of posting, it's $19.99 when bought directly from Discovery Channel

    My impression
    I love the amazing photos in Sharkopedia . I've never seen that many great shark pictures ever, let alone in one book. I have been learning about sea creatures since I was a kid on the west coast, so I was surprised that even I learned a lot from this book. It's definitely a book with broad age appeal. My 4 year old son loved seeing the picture and hearing about the different types of sharks, but I can also see it being valuable to a much older student for a report in biology class, or just for fun! My favorite feature was actually the appendix that listed what sharks are in which aquariums and zoos.
    We were planning a trip to the aquarium for shortly after we got this book and my son thought it was really interesting to see pictures of some of the shark varieties we were going to see and learn a little more about them like what they eat and where they live in the ocean. 

    My 4-year-old-says
    I like the scary sharks [great whites]! They look like ghosts! The pictures are so fun and scary!

    The bottom line
    Sharkopedia is a well done book I highly recommend to families who love animals and science. It'd be a great addition to any home or classroom library. 

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    7 Quick Takes August 16, 2013

    --- 1 ---
     I really am going to start blogging regularly again! I have a couple fun book reviews and a post about babywearing and Down syndrome that I hope is going to be awesome!!

    --- 2 ---
    Some other moms who love woven baby wraps too mentioned selling old stuff to get money for wraps, so I looked some of my old toys up on eBay and I have a My Little Pony someone is trying to sell for $200!!! I didn't know people paid that kind of money for plastic ponies!

    --- 3 ---
    It has been strangely cool where I live and I do not like it. I like summer. Come back summer, where'd you go?!?

    --- 4 ---
    I read on Ain't No Mom Jeans that the 90's are back. For me the original go around consisted of Punky Brewster type kid outfits and not so stylish pre-teen outfits, so I can't say I'm thrilled. I just look so lumpy and short in cords & sweaters!

    --- 5 ---
    Trend I am surprised I actually do love? Hi-lo maxi skirts! I bought a gray one and it is as comfy as sweats but way more flattering. It's easy to drape the longer sides and back towards the front to sit down modestly to play on the floor, which had been my main concern. 

    --- 6 ---
     I wish Teddy Grahams or Annie's Bunnies came in a huge container that was cheaper per ounce than the normal boxes. We got through those things pretty quickly because we all love them so much. They're hard to resist!!!
    Maybe it's a good thing they don't come in a bulk size!

    --- 7 ---
    Does anyone else watch Breaking Pointe? It's totally my guilty pleasure trash tv indulgence. I read ballet books as a kid and I just love watching real ballet dancers! I wish they'd show more of the dancing. Seriously CW, show me the wholllllle ballet, please please please?!? 

    For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!