My kids were born with obstructive sleep apnea

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Before I was a childbirth educator, I was a mom of a little girl. I’ve written about her birth before; I haven’t really ever thought to talk about how both of my kids were born with sleep apnea, and how it took forever to find a pediatrician who would actually believe me.

When I first brought her home from the hospital, I noticed almost immediately that my baby girl would regularly stop breathing for a couple of seconds, only to gasp for air. Initially, my new mama instinct wasn’t sure if I was just being overly paranoid, or if she really did stop breathing for a couple of seconds before the big gasps I didn’t think were normal. Her Mayo Clinic doctor (who was a total and complete ass, BTW), ignored my concerns– he told me she was just congested, and moved on to something else.

(As an aside, I should tell you some day about the nonsense “parenting education” material they would give me every visit. Knowing what I know now, there was very little actual evidence behind it. All it did was foster doubt an insecurity by creating parenting expectations that would never be biologically normal. Even better, if I could find the sheets, it’d be a total hoot to go through it with a big red marker!)

When my daughter was about 4 weeks old, after sleepless nights and too many days nodding off during the day while I fed her on the couch, a friend encouraged me to look into safe bedsharing. I found the safety guidelines online, and during one nap time, I latched her on while in the side-lying position in my bed, and we both fell asleep for a life-changing 2 hours. I was a convert from then on out. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that since she and I started sharing a safe sleep surface, I no longer noticed that she would stop breathing. Instead of sleeping next to me in her bassinet on her back (which, until very recently, was the only AAP-sanctioned sleep scenario), she spent her nights cuddled up next to me, on her side. Sometimes I’d wake up and find out that I’d been feeding her without remembering when or how the feeding started. And then, when she was 9 months old or so, she started to turn sideways in the middle of the night and stretch out as much as she possibly could. That’s when we transitioned her to a crib in her own room. And at 9 months, she would sleep in whatever position she felt like sleeping in that night. By that point, she was not only rolling and crawling, but walking on her own, too. SIDS and back-to-sleep stuff was no longer technically an issue for her.

However– she was back having very, very audible sleep apnea. We’d listen to what I now understand was the sound made when her tongue would fall into the back of her mouth, then the little “kuh” sound she’d make right before the gasp as she started breathing again. We’d joke in a moribund manner that the gasp at least told us she was breathing…eventually. Moreover, we’d started to notice that when she slept, she always slept on her stomach or he side with her head tilted back to straighten and open her airway.

When she was 2 years old–maybe?– we brought it up again with her doctor. Keep in mind, smart phones weren’t a thing yet. iPods were big and bulky and only had hard drives and were only for music. We could really only convey what we were noticing by trying to recreate it ourselves. Her family med doc was again dismissive, though he did say he could refer us for a pediatric sleep study, but that it would take 6 months before we’d be able to get in. Shortly after that, our basement flooded, my husband got a new job that required him to commute 90 minutes each way, and then I got pregnant with her little brother… and life got super chaotic.

Once my son was born, bedsharing was started from day 1. However, he didn’t really nap on his own until he was about 8 months old, and when he did, he’d do what his sister did– he’d stop breathing. As he neared the 9 month mark, when I would put them both down for a nap in the same room, I’d listen to the baby monitor as they took turns having apnea episodes (which I’m sure did NOT help my anxiety). I can’t remember if it was at a well baby visit for him or a well child visit for her, but I mentioned the apnea episodes their pediatrician, who referred us to a pediatric ENT. She got her tonsils out shortly after her 4th birthday. At that point, they had grown so large that she barely had any room to breathe while she slept. A few days after the tonsillectomy, we noticed that when she slept–there was silence.

My son had his tonsils and adenoid out when he was 3 years old. He was also able to breathe perfectly while sleeping a couple days after surgery.

So there you go. My kids had obstructive sleep apnea, and now they don’t. I do think that both of them had and have tongue ties for a BUNCH of reasons. I had recurrent mastitis, nursing was super painful at first with my daughter, she didn’t gain weight all that fast, both kids had EPIC spit-ups. One child had speech issues that have been resolved. The other one tongue-thrusts to swallow and is very sensitive to food texture.I often wonder if I had had them sleeping on their own in a room from day 1, on their backs and not near me–would we have had a different outcome? We know (and the AAP recognizes this) that babies NEED to sleep in close range to their parents for at least the first 9 months, in part to help them regulate their breathing. When humans sleep on their backs, the tongue can fall to the back of the mouth, causing snoring and apnea.

Finally, I do want parents to know that if your little one stops breathing and then gasps for air, that is NOT NORMAL. If they sleep with their head always tilted back—again, not normal. Listen to your gut, and if your child’s care provider dismisses you–get a second opinion. Or a third. I know that there’s so much more to learn about this, SIDS, and other sleep issues, but I do think that parents can go a long way if we share our stories and compare notes.

On that note, Happy New Year!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Will the new Evenflo car seat prevent heatstroke deaths?

car seat heatstroke

Last week, Evenflo and Wal-Mart announced that they had partnered up to create the ADVANCED SensorSafe™ Embrace™ DLX infant-only car seat. The seat has special technology in the chest clip that goes to a wireless receiver to alert the driver when a child is being left behind in a car. I’m not going to get into how the technology works or if it’s reliable. There are a few things I want to delve in on, though, when it comes to the issue of kids dying of heatstroke in cars and if this is going to be a good solution to reducing deaths.

So far for 2015 (as of this writing), we have seen 11 children die of heatstroke after being left in a car in the US. There were 44 and 31 deaths in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In the Upper Midwest, we do have fewer heatstroke deaths than in the South or the West, but it does still happen. Since 2003, 3 children have died of heatstroke in a car in Minnesota; 8 kids have died in Wisconsin during the same time frame.

According to information collected in Heatstroke Deaths of Children in Vehicles by Jan Null, CCM of the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, most of these deaths (for the years 1998 through 2014) occur under 3 main circumstances:

  • 53% – child “forgotten” by caregiver (336 Children)

  • 29% – child playing in unattended vehicle (186)

  • 17% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult  (111)

This new car seat technology is really only designed to address the first and third scenarios. It’s critically important to teach your kids to never, ever, EVER play in cars and make sure that a car is locked when it’s parked. Kind of like you need to teach your kids to not play with lighters or matches. Remember the gut-wrenching case in Wisconsin 2 years ago with the toddler who was hiding in a car truck and died? Cars are not toys.

Back to the car seat in question, I have a few issues with someone buying this seat.

First of all, this is an infant only seat, with a maximum weight of 20 35 pounds and a maximum height of 30 inches. The average baby is 30 inches by around the age of a year, but some babies outgrow an infant-only car seat before they are this old. Currently, the technology isn’t offered on a convertible car seat. Less than one-third of heatstroke deaths were in babies less than a year old. 22% of the deaths were in kids ages 1-2 years old, and 13% were in ages 2-3 years old. This is a solution for a very limited time period, and ONLY if your car is model year 2008 or newer.

Second, this piece of technology increases the cost of the seat from $90 to $150. That’s a $60 clip! While that’s not to say that saving lives isn’t important, is this cost increase worth it when it’s only useful for a very limited length of time?

Third, will this lull parents into a false sense of security?

Ideally, technology like this will become standard in all car seats. My cynical guess is that it’ll take 10 years or more before something like this is universally adopted, if ever. In the meantime, there are some common sense tips out there, but probably the best one is this:

Get in the habit of putting your phone, either in your purse or diaper bag on the floor whenever you put your child in the car seat. Do it every time, without fail. Not only will it serve as a reminder to always check your back seat, but it also removes the cell phone as a distraction while you’re driving. Really, the cell phone is a danger in of itself that should be removed from the process of driving, baby or not. As my neighbor Anna says, “Phone down, eyes up.”

What tips do you have to keep your kids safe in cars in hot weather? Share below!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Summer Baby Safety

Summer Baby Safety

Today is our very first 90 degree day of the year, so it’s time to get everyone up to date on the things you need to know to keep your baby safe.

No water for newborns 

Your baby should ONLY be given breastmilk or formula for the first 6 months. Nothing else. Water can actually be dangerous; their kidneys aren’t able to get rid of the excess water and it can make babies very ill. And really, we take access to safe water for granted (BIG TIME). Even some things in the water supply that an adult body can handle, a newborn’s body can’t.

Nurse that baby!

When the weather gets warmer, don’t be surprised if your little one has more frequent feedings. We get thirsty more often, and your baby does too. So watch your baby for cues and listen to what he’s trying to tell you: It’s hot and he’s thirsty. It’s OK. It won’t spoil your baby.

Stay in the shade

The AAP cautions against using sunscreen on babies under the age of 6 months. Their skin isn’t mature enough to handle it. Get a hat that allows for decent ventilation with an SPF and use an umbrella or anything else to make sure you avoid prolonged sun exposure.

Cover that car seat

If you’ve been through at least one summer with kids, you’ll know this, but it’s still important to repeat: Car seats get very hot in the sun. Kids and babies alike try to avoid getting burned (smart kids!). While your car is sitting out in the sun, cover the car seat with a thick blanket to keep it from getting too hot.

Rethink the beach

Here in Minnesota, in the land of lots of lakes, going to the beach in the summer seems like a birthright. Yeah, not so fast. While nobody is claiming that lakes should be squeaky-clean, the reality is that our lakes aren’t very clean. The Minnesota Department of Health has a wonderful set of resources to help you figure out if your favorite spot is safe, but again– what we can tolerate as adults can easily make babies and toddlers sick. Stick to the pool instead.

Nobody wants to miss out on our precious summer days because of injury or illness. Any other summer safety concerns? Let me know!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Am I biased? You bet.

BiasedBiased

Recently, although I’ve heard it before, the charge was leveled at me that I am biased in my classes. I was called, “Pro-breastfeeding, anti-drugs.” I spoke with a few other Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators, and it seems that this charge is something that we’ve all heard. So, I think it’s time that I out myself for all of my biases.

First of all, I teach what’s best practice, what’s evidence-based, and what’s biologically normal. Now, keep in mind that it takes, on average, 17 years from the time something is deemed best practice (ie. safest) in maternity care before it used on a regular basis. 17 years. When new practice bulletins come out from ACOG, when the American College of Nurse Midwives issue statements, when the AAP put out new guidelines, guess what? That’s what I’m teaching. If I only taught what was being done by doctors and midwives– well, I have major ethical concerns with that. In an environment of “shared responsibility,” there’s a moral imperative to give families the information that they need to know if they are getting safe and competent care.

As for the “pro-breastfeeding” charge; I’m always interested to know why someone’s motivated to make that charge. Yes, I am a Certified Lactation Counselor. So? In classes, I teach the American Academy of Pediatric’s guidelines on infant feeding and mention what the World Health Organization’s stance is on the issue. Maybe the issue is that my classes meet the standards as set forth in the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Again…so? We have 6 hospitals in the Twin Cities that are certified as meeting the Baby-Friendly requirements, all of the Healtheast system, one HealthPartners hospital, HCMC, and the U of M hospital, I hardly think I hold a renegade position. If those hospitals want to maintain Baby-Friendly status, they need to make sure their childbirth education classes have the same content as mine do. With almost 90% of moms initiating breastfeeding, I’ll stand with and support them. This is not about condemning one feeding choice, it’s about helping moms reach the goals they have for themselves.

What else?

I believe that it’s important to teach an understanding of the processes that are the biological norm.

I believe in maternity care transparency.

I believe that moms need to be responsible for finding competent care. They need to learn what that looks like and how to find it.

I believe that infant car seats are usually a waste of money and, since they are more often recalled and used incorrectly, can quickly become not as safe as convertible car seats. I also hate that parents aren’t taking their babies out and more than half of kids now have flat heads by age 1.

I believe in teaching about healthy choices and safe choices.

I believe in judging a hospital and birth center by their outcomes, not their wallpaper.

Are these things really that bad? Is it wrong to make sure parents aren’t being lied to? Is it wrong to be critical of those “educators” who are giving parents unsafe information because it’s the cultural norm? Is it wrong to help parents seek out safe care? Is it bad that I advocate for the right of a mother to be listened to? I hope not.

Every day, I hear birth stories and breastfeeding stories from moms who didn’t get the education or support that they needed and either they ended up with poor outcomes or their babies did. And you know what? I’m going to stay the course, because moms, babies, and families deserve it.

-Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Guest Post: From a Mommy Dentist: The challenge of breastfeeding tongue-tied babies

Today I’m going to share, with permission, a post that Dr. Kristen Berning wrote for her dental practice’s blog. As the admin for Tongue and Lip Tie Minnesota Facebook group, I see story after story after story from moms that have many of the same themes that Dr. Berning’s does. In the last year, there has been some very forceful pushback from Lactation professionals, pediatricians, dentists, etc. against addressing tongue ties. Quite frankly, some of the discussions I’ve seen via blogs or social media are very negative about moms who are looking for help on this issue. I’m hoping to share other stories from moms over the next few weeks to help get the word out about what it’s like to be the parent who has to advocate for help. If you have your own story you’d like me to share, email me at veronica@babylovemn.com.

Like many new moms, I thought breastfeeding would come naturally.

When my third baby, Ted, was born, I already had 2 years cumulative experience breastfeeding my other children.   I planned to exclusively breastfed Ted for at least 12 months.

When Ted was just one day old in the hospital, I knew something was different with breastfeeding.  I felt he was “chewing” instead of “sucking.”  The lactation consultants worked with me on encouraging a deeper latch:

tongue tied baby

  • I was told to use my finger to encourage him to stick his tongue out further.  But he couldn’t stick his tongue out very far.
  • I would wait for a wide opening before letting him latch.  But he didn’t open very wide.
  • I was told to use a nipple shield.  But that made the pain even worse since he was still “chewing,” and the plastic was pinching me where I had open cuts.
  • When his latch was shallow, I was told to break suction and try again to relatch.  But the latch-on was the worst part and I didn’t want to restart the feeding.  I just wanted to get it over with.  The toe-curling pain brought me to tears and I dreaded the next feeding.

I had cracked and bleeding nipples.  The lanolin and gel soothies weren’t helping enough.  I attended the breastfeeding support group when he was 3 weeks old and discussed the pain with the lactation consultants.   I was sitting near a sweet mom named Jessi.  Jessi suggested Ted might have a tongue-tie, as she experienced it with her daughter and had it clipped by an ENT physician.   The lactation consultants took a look at his tongue, but were not sure.  At Ted’s 3-week well child appointment, his pediatrician was also not sure.

I made a phone call and the ENT could not see Ted until the next week.

The next night, I felt shooting pains in my chest in between feedings.  With one arm clutched across my chest, and the other arm used to search Google, I read that it might be thrush- a yeast infection of the nipple and breast.  I looked inside Ted’s mouth and saw small white patches in his cheeks.  I went to the pediatrician’s night clinic to confirm the diagnosis of thrush.  Then I drove to the pharmacy in tears, to get our prescriptions.   The pain, the frustration, the thrush diagnosis—were pushing me over the edge.   But I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding.

I called the ENT doctor’s office the next morning, and politely but desperately asked if there was any way they could see us sooner due to the severe pain I was having.  They squeezed me in that day.

At our appointment, I explained to the doctor how I knew Ted’s latch was drastically different than my first 2 babies.   We discussed the procedure, I signed a consent form, and the nurses prepped the room for the frenotomy procedure.  Three-week-old Ted’s little body was placed onto the operating table, he was stabilized by a couple nurses, and the ENT clipped Ted’s lingual frenum with a surgical scissors.  Ted was immediately returned to me to breastfeed.  His latch was instantly better: deeper and less painful.  I was so relieved to have improvement.  My cracked nipples healed over the next week.

It took some time until the thrush was completely managed, but the frenotomy saved our breastfeeding relationship and I exclusively breastfed Ted for 13 months.

_____

Fast forward to when my 4th child, Clara, was born.  She latched on fairly well in the hospital and gained weight well.   I thought we were in the clear.

However, a few months passed and the initial soreness from breastfeeding was not going away.  Her latch was shallow, but not as bad as Ted’s.  She popped on and off the breast frequently and was gassy.  I had sore nipples and cracking again.  I was dreading each feeding as her latch rubbed on the open cracks causing awful, toe-curling pain.  I pumped several feedings (which also hurt) so my husband could bottle feed her and I could take a break from her poor latch.  I tried different nursing positions, used prescription APNO (Jack Newman’s all purpose nipple ointment), and did everything I knew to improve her shallow latch.  I also dealt with clogged ducts and developed mastitis, and was in the doctor’s office again, in tears.

upper lip tie, laser revision, laser frenectomy

I noticed Clara’s upper lip was often tucked in while nursing, and it did not flange.  In our local private Facebook group for breastfeeding mothers, a mom named Tricia mentioned difficulties breastfeeding due to a lip tie.  I had become aware of tongue-ties after my experience with Ted, but I was unsure how lip ties affected breastfeeding   I needed to find out more…

I learned that when a lip tie was present, a posterior tongue-tie was usually present.  A medical practitioner may be familiar with anterior tongue ties, however, posterior tongue-ties are not as visible to the untrained eye.  Clara also had a posterior tongue tie.

Lip and Tongue Tie Revision

I engaged myself in learning about lip ties and tongue-ties as I had experienced so much of this myself with minimal local support.  Let me emphasize, I really appreciate and respect my local lactation consultants and pediatricians.  They are wonderful people!   They just were not (at that time) familiar enough with lip ties and posterior tongue-ties.

Lip and Tongue Tie Revision, Laser Revision

I learned there were dentists revising infant lip and tongue-ties with lasers.  I was using a laser  almost daily in our Dubuque, Iowa dental practice and had done many laser frenectomies on older children and adults.  Dr. Mindy Hochgesang became my mentor and allowed me to observe the lip and tongue tie revision procedure.

As a passionate supporter of breastfeeding, this opened the door for me to “pay it forward.”  It was mom-to-mom support that sent me on this journey.  I could now give both mom-to-mom support and provider-to-mom support for breastfeeding dyads struggling with tongue and lip ties themselves.

My daughter Clara was my first infant patient.   I revised her lip tie and posterior tongue-tie, we did post-frenotomy care, we both healed, and now we have a great breastfeeding relationship.

 

laser dentist, Iowa laser dentist, lip tie, tongue tie

Dr. Kristen Berning provides support for breastfeeding moms who are dealing with lip and tongue ties.  She uses a laser to perform lip and tongue tie revision, including posterior tongue ties.  Her office is located at 4200 Asbury Road, Dubuque, IA 52002 and serves the Cedar Rapids & Dubuque, IA, Galena, IL and Madison, WI areas.  To schedule a consultation or ask questions about laser lip and tongue tie revision with Dr. Kristen Berning please call 563-556-2711 or contact us online.

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Used car seats aren’t a good deal

dangerous used car seats

“Another post about used car seats?”

Yes. Another post about used car seats. Like much of parenting, there’s the inherent instinct to dismiss professional advice as being overly-cautious or self-serving. And babies can be expensive, so clearly it’s all a scam to get parents to pay more money for more junk that they don’t need, right?

Um…..no.

If this post didn’t convince you that used car seats should be used with caution, here are 6 things I want you to think about:

  1. That used seat may be hard to install or use correctly- Over time, manufacturers make upgrades to the design of their car seats. In theory, as they get smarter about design and use, they make the seats easier to use. Some older or inexpensive car seats may be very hard to adjust the straps so that they are tight enough, which means your baby wouldn’t stay secured in the car seat in the event of a sudden stop or crash. It’s also VERY common for used car seats to have stuck or difficult lower anchor adjustments, making it so you can’t tighten the seat’s install enough.
  2. That used car seat may have gone through an unreasonably high amount of wear and tear- Something we look for as CPSTs when looking at used seats to to see if the shell of the seat has been weakened or compromised in any way. It’s pretty common to find that a seat has gone through an excessive amount of stress and has weak points in critical parts of it. These weak points may mean that the shell breaks at the belt path or at the harness slots if placed under any extreme force.
  3. Seats get recalled- When a family has a used car seat sitting in the basement or garage, they may not notice if a recall has been issued on a seat (this is why registering products is critical). It’s not uncommon to come across recalls when using previously used seats. Some recalls render the seat useless, some require a fix, and some just address seat usage. Whatever it is, these are key to take into account.
  4. The previous owner didn’t care for the seat properly- Car seats can stop working if not cared for in the correct manner. Using bleach on webbing can lead to the straps breaking down, causing them to be very weak. Failure to clean moving parts according to manufacturer’s instruction can cause them to seize up and no longer work. Clips and tabs can break off over time. It’s important to take these possibilities seriously.
  5. The car seat has been put together incorrectly- I don’t have any hard and fast statistics on this, but it’s VERY common for a seat that’s been used over a length of time to have the various straps and buckles twisted, threaded through the seat the wrong way, or to have parts of the seat backwards or in the wrong place. Without a thorough knowledge of how seats should work, you may not be able to determine if a seat has problems that need to be fixed.
  6. The car seat is too dirty to salvage-  Babies are messy. Spit-up, vomit, poo, crumbs–lots of things end up in a car seat. Usually, the car seat cover can be removed and washed (usually on delicate, but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions), but other things like buckles and straps often can only be cleaned with warm water and mild detergent.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I can understand that the expense of a car seat can seem very overwhelming. However, there are good ways to spend those dollars in a way that is both wise and safe and that is useful for a long length of time. After all, it’s better to spend $200 on one seat that your child can use until he’s 6 or 7 years old than to buy 4 seats at $75-$100 or more each time to get to that same age.  We’re talking about something that can protect your child from the leading cause of death for kids. That’s something to value.

The National Highway and Transportation and Safety Administration has some very good resources that can be helpful to understand the complicated topic of car seats. Check it out, and let me know if you have questions!

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Don’t make these common mistakes with your baby!

Don't

Ooh…click-bait-y. Sorry.

Some days, I feel like a broken record. There are so many things that have become so ingrained into our parenting culture that very few people question it any more. And I’ve written before about how some things seem very subjective, but when it comes to health and safety, the truth is pretty black or white. So, dear interwebs….it’s time to break some bad habits and burst some bubbles.

When you know better, you do better.

1) No baby should ever be fed 8 ounces of anything in a bottle.

This has nothing to do with formula or breastmilk. A baby’s stomach is only as big as his fist, which means that realistically speaking, a baby should really only be fed 2-4 ounces from a  bottle. Any more than that is overfeeding, plain and simple. And it turns out that it doesn’t matter if it’s breastmilk or formula in a bottle– overfeeding leads to obesity.

Here’s info on how much breastmilk a baby should be given via bottle.

Here’s some info on how much to feed a formula-fed baby.

2) Limit the amount of time your baby spends in “containers”

More than half of babies now have a flat head by age 1. And truth be told, I’m not shocked. I see too many flat heads when I’m around babies. While some of it may be caused by tight neck muscles (some times caused by a tongue tie), the use of too many baby containers is primarily to blame. Parents move their babies from a bouncy seat…to a swing…to one of those magical baby moving chairs….to a car seat…..and so on.

Limit the amount of time your baby spends in these containers. Do more “tummy time”. And find a way to carry your baby in a sling or wrap or other carrier that works for you and your budget. Babies who spend too much time in containers can also end up with under-developed stomach and back muscles, learn fewer words, and not have a chance to learn how to interact with other people.

When you need to start making meals, need to take a shower, etc, then the swing or seat for a short about of time is perfectly safe, though.

3) Car seats are for cars

Want to hear something staggering?

“An estimated 43,562 car seat–related injuries [EXCLUDING AUTO-CRASHES] were treated in emergency departments from 2003 to 2007.”

Stunning, yes? Over 40,000 babies ended up being injured from falls and other accidents while they were in a car seat that wasn’t in the car. I’m sure if a newer study was done they’d have similar findings. The rules for safe car seat use are black and white. Your baby is either safe or in danger.

  • Car seats should never be placed on top of shopping carts in the seat area. The basket is OK, but not in the small shopping carts (and see above).
  • Car seats should NEVER be placed on restaurant high chairs.
  • Car seats should not be placed on tables, chairs, beds, in cribs, in those sling things the restaurant was suckered into buying….your baby should NEVER be left in a car seat on an elevated surface.
  • If your baby is in the car seat that’s been placed in a compatible stroller, baby MUST be strapped in. Babies wiggle and fall out more than you want to know.
  • Behind falls, the other cause or injuries or worse is suffocation—which is why you should never leave a child of ANY age strapped into a car seat to sleep unattended.

4) It’s normal for breastfed babies to poop anywhere from more than 7 times a day or once every 7 days…or more.

Breastmilk does not cause constipation. Some times I forget to warn moms that it’s totally normal for exclusively breastfed babies to get super efficient about breastmilk digestion and just not poop very often. Hey, as a new mom I freaked out about it too….until I found my trusty breastfeeding book that told me it was totally normal. That experience inspired the phrase “fro-yo poo.”

I’m sure there’s more that I can think of….there’s always more. But 4 things is plenty for now, yes?

I hope this is helpful!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

5 Reasons Why Car Seats Are So Tricky

why are car seats hard to install

It’s Child Passenger Safety Week! YAY!

I get complaints all the time from families about how hard cars seats are to install and use correctly. Yes, they can require a few tries before figuring out how to get a seat installed correctly into a car. Yes, I often end up with cuts and scrapes while helping parents wrestlt with a seat. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all easier, but the reality is, things aren’t going to change any time soon. So if you’re wondering what the deal is, here are 4 reasons those car seats are so tricky to install.

1) Lack of universal requirements for LATCH in cars- While LATCH became standard on most cars starting in 2002, there aren’t set standards for HOW the LATCH system exists in a car. So, for example, in some sedans, you have 3 different positions that you can use lower anchors. That’s rare. More often, you can only use the outboard positions. Lack of universal standards mean that you need to consult the car;s owner manual and the car seat owner’s manual to make sure they will play nicely with each other.

2) Lack of universal requirements for car seat manufacturers- In the US, car seats are required to meet minimum crash test standards. You’ll also start to see more seats now that have “side crash protection,” but not all seats do. Some seats have “ease of use” features like lockoffs, variable angle settings, optional rear-facing tethers…you get the picture. And while those things can make a seat a great seat to use, I find that parents are more confused by the array of options than helped. The free market at it’s finest.

3) Parents don’t read the directions- I know those manuals seem like they are simply too thick to read and have too much information, but the grand secret of car seat checks? We read the manual for the car and your car seat with you and go from there. Just don’t tell anyone that’s what we do. (OK, so we also have some tricks up our sleeve and are more familiar with different seats, but still.)

4) That seat your friend lent you is broken- After a few years of use, some really messed up things can happen to car seats. Like what? Harnesses completely misthreaded, buckles missing, parts installed upside-down, key pieces broken off, lower anchor belts so coated with crumbs and goo that you can’t actually adjust the belt…yikes. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The car seat is the ONE THING you should buy new. Car accidents are the #1 cause of death for kids under the age of 12. Why skimp on a vital piece of safety equipment?

5) Amazon reviews are just opinions- So, you get home that seat that has RAVE review from parents online, and then you realize….it’s not as easy to use as people say. Why? Well, again, the reviewers may have a different kind of car, may have a different number of kids, and who’s to say that they put the seat in correctly? Maybe it was “easy” to install because it’s wrong.

And know that if you’re struggling, help is out there. A CPST can help you understand your car, your car seat, and teach you how to install your seat in your car. We’re often happy to help advise on types of car seats, too. Car seat techs are special kinds of nerds. Let us help you keep your precious car as safe as can be.

Warmly,

Veronica

Related:

My suggestions for Convertible Car Seats

My suggestions for Combination Car Seats

 

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Finding Day Care

Finding Day Care

When I was in college one summer and then for a year after I graduated from college (thanks, recession), I worked in day cares. I worked for one not so great place over the summer, and then for a really awesome company after college. I also had the not-so-awesome experience as a mom of finding day care for my daughter, as I went back to work when she was only 6 weeks old (Thanks, employers who unenrolled me from short term and long term disability once you found out I was pregnant so I’d have no choice). Finding good providers is really hard, but there are some really amazing resources out there. I’ll give you my 2 cents first, and I’ll also link a bunch of things to this post to help you sort through your options as well.

First of all, if you’re looking for a space for a newborn, start calling early. Because Minnesota has strict 1:4 ratios for babies in centers, those spaces for good centers fill up quickly. For home day cares, the rules are a little more confusing; the limits on the number of children under the age of 1 depends on the type of setting and the licensed capacity.

Second, make sure you go visit the places while kids are there before you put your name on any waiting list. I’ll link to other resources below, but some things, I feel, are VERY important.

  • Is the place clean? Are there spills and stains all over?
  • Is there food from previous meals all over the floor?
  • Are there toys all over the floor, to the point that it’s impossible to walk without tripping on them?
  • Does everyone have a runny nose? (Yes, I know kids get sick, but TRUST ME– that’s a sign that toys and surfaces aren’t cleaned properly or often enough.)
  • Is it loud? Chaotic? With lots of fighting? That’s no good. Chaos equals injuries, sad kids, and sick kids.
  • Do they have the babies sleeping in safe surfaces?
  • What do they feed the kids for meals?
  • Are the babies held when being given a bottle? (Bottle propping a really, really big no-no.)
  • Is the TV on?
  • What do they do for older kids to sleep? Do they rock babies? Do they rub backs for older kids? Or do they expect ALL kids to fall asleep on their own?

Third, make sure you check references, and, in the case of in-home providers, call the county licensing department to find out what kind of complaints they have on file. Here’s a list of things you should be asking.

Minnesota has some really amazing resources out there for families. Child Care Aware Minnesota has a checklist, including a pdf of the checklist, that’s very detailed that you can use to help you make sure you’re asking all of the relevant questions. To locate options, there’s Parent Aware.

It’s important that you make sure you are totally at peace with your choice. I can tell you from my own experience that there’s nothing worse as a mom to find out that your child hasn’t been well taken care of. Hopefully these tools will help you dig through the options and you can find the right fit for your family.

Anything to add? Share below!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Choosing a Pediatrician…or Not

How to choose a pediatrician

Just as the language that we use when discussing birth tends to favor the term “OB” instead of “Doctor,” or “Midwife,” or “Care Provider,” when we talk to parents about finding someone to take their new baby to, the default term for this person is “Pediatrician.” These word choices leave out wide swaths of care providers. For births, it’s not uncommon for people to forget that there are Family Medicine doctors who also provide maternity services (and often they are the one kind of care provider where you can reasonably expect to see the person who did your prenatal care to also attend your birth), or they don’t understand that Certified Nurse Midwives are qualified, appropriate options in many places. For children, Family Medicine doctors are an alternative to Pediatricians, but there are also Advanced Practice Nurses who can do well-child (and sick child) care, such as Pediatric Nurse Practitioners or Family Nurse Practitioners. So, while there are things you need to think about finding a care provider for your baby, keep in mind that there are more options than just choosing a pediatrician.

1) Location- When you have a sick baby or a sick child, that ride to get things checked out can be very stressful. And while the best choice for you may not be the closest option, be realistic about choosing a provider who is 45 minutes away. The distance may become too much to manage. If your child is going to daycare, keep that location in mind when narrowing down options, too. Sometimes finding something largely between your home and daycare makes the most sense.

2) Access- This may be obvious, but if a clinic or provider has a full practice, it’s disappointing, but would mean that you’d have a very hard time getting appointments, especially for urgent issues. Every clinic has different arrangements for after-hour care, too. Find out what they do when parents have a sick child at 2am. Not everything is Emergency Department-worthy. Case in point: When my son had to have a pre-op checkup to have his tonsils taken out, the clinic we had been going to since he was born could not, would not find me any appointment within the 7 day window the surgeon required. I only got an appointment after escalating the issue to a manager and explaining that this was very important that he get in, because it’s hard to get surgeries scheduled. We’d had other issues with being able to get appointments, but this was the absolute last straw.

3) Bedside Manner- When you have a new, tiny baby, it can be overwhelming, and you need to find a care provider for your child who is kind, listens, takes the time to answer questions, and takes your thoughts and goals seriously. We all have bad days, but if you aren’t being treated well or respected on a consistent basis, then you need to look for another provider.  You usually have lots of options– find them!

4) Breastfeeding Knowledge- Again, moms face huge hurdles to make it to the 2 week mark with breastfeeding, much less to make it to 6 weeks or 6 months. Your baby’s care provider should be an ally to help you, not to try to discourage you. Unfortunately, not all pediatricians or other providers understand breastfeeding that well, and that lack of comfort on the subject may make them less likely to help a mom meet her breastfeeding goals. And just as study after study has found that when doctors have free samples of a medication to hand out, they are more likely to prescribe those medications to pateints, the same is true for breastfeeding.  A care provider who has free samples of infant feeding products may be more likely to default to that as the solution to a wide array of concerns, when it may not be necessary to go that route.  There are providers out there who really get breastfeeding, and if your goal is to breastfeed for any amount of time, pick someone who wants to and can help you meet that goal.

5) Are they up to date?-This is the car seat tech in me saying this, but if your baby’s care provider tells you that you can turn your baby forward facing at one year and 20 pounds, please know that that has not been an appropriate practice for at least a few years. Guess what? Best practices for car seats, medications, and everything else do change over time as we gather more and more information. I consider the car seat thing a canary in a coal mine, and I get concerned whenever I find care providers who are so blase about serious issues like car seats.

So, remember your options:

  • Pediatricians
  • Family Med Doctors
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
  • Family Nurse Practitioners
  • Physician Assistants

And I also like to point out that even if you do a lot of research, think you made the right choice, but start to have any of the issues I listed above, or if your gut tells you that something is just not right, don’t be afraid to switch. It’s easy, and it’s worth it.

Anything you’d add? Let me know in the comments below!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CD(DONA), CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE

DONA-Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.