Health and Safety

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So unfortunately we’ve joined the “KEEP PEANUTS AWAY FROM MY CHILD!” club. We made this discovery a few weeks after Leah turned 1 year old.  I knew that the books recommended waiting until after the age of 1 to introduce peanuts so a few weeks after Leah’s first birthday, I thought it would be okay to let her taste my peanut butter toast when she showed interest in it one morning. She touched the peanut butter and tasted it, but didn’t seem to particularly like it. Before I could wash her hands, she got some on her face and started rubbing her eyes. Her eyes got red and swollen and then she developed hives on her face. She started scratching her body and hives appeared on her arms. Thankfully she didn’t seem to have any problems breathing, she was just whining from the itchiness. I gave her a dose of Children’s Benadryl (thank you First Aid course!) to delay and minimize the symptoms and we gave her a quick bath to remove all traces of the peanut butter. The hives subsided and the swelling went down. Leah was still a bit irritable but after speaking to a pediatrician friend, I felt it wasn’t necessary to take her to emergency.

In retrospect, this wasn’t Leah’s first allergic reaction to peanuts but it was definitely the most severe and traceable. I suspect she had her first allergic reaction at 6 months old when she was exposed to peanut butter cookies from a playdate with a mommy friend and her toddler. Leah was crawling at the time and though she didn’t eat any of the cookies, she seemed to show mild allergy symptoms (itchy eyes and skin rash) after the visit. We washed the playmats and vacuumed the house thoroughly and the symptoms didn’t return. The second allergic reaction which was more severe, occurred when Leah was at a playdate at the park with another mommy friend and her child. Her daughter was eating peanut butter on bread but Leah didn’t have any. After playing on a picnic blanket together, Leah experienced a significant eczema flare up. She couldn’t (and wouldn’t) stop scratching her arms and legs and was incredibly irritable and cranky. After the third allergic reaction at 1 year old, I realized that the other two incidents should have clued me into Leah’s sensitivity to peanuts. Upon speaking to my pediatrician friend, I also learned that I should have delayed introducing peanut butter since she had eczema (making her more susceptible to other allergies and sensitivities). Darn.

When Leah had her next doctor’s appointment, we told the Doctor about her allergic reaction to eating peanut butter and we asked him if she should take an allergy test or get an epi-pen. Surprisingly, he advised against both. He said that since Leah reacted within 5 minutes of eating the peanut butter, her reaction would be categorized as severe and he wouldn’t recommend that she eat peanut butter regardless of the allergy test. Since the test is unpleasant to go through, there’s really no point in subjecting Leah to it to confirm what is pretty obvious. With the epi-pen, he said that as long as we had access to EMS services, he felt that the risk of potentially using the pen incorrectly was significant enough that he would recommend against it. Instead, he suggested that we keep Benadryl close at hand to help in the case of another reaction.

Now that Leah is eating more table food and dining out more often, we really do have to be quite vigilant about what she is eating and exposed to. We removed all traces of peanut butter from our home (I was so sad) and we had to avoid eating at Thai restaurants when Leah was with us. Thankfully (?), peanut allergies are so common nowadays that most restaurants, schools and theme parks are peanut-free. Even more amazing is the number of great peanut butter substitutes available like PTPA winner I.M. Health SoyNut Butter. I was so happy to receive this in the mail and was really looking forward to Leah finally being able to enjoy something like peanut butter. At that time we were really struggling to come up with ideas for what to feed her for breakfast so it was perfect timing. It’s easy to spread, tastes great, is totally healthy and the best thing is, we can all enjoy it without worrying about about Leah having a reaction. With the frequency of nut allergies out there these days, I totally recommend it to all parents, regardless of whether or not your child has a nut allergy.

Learn more about this PTPA Winner here.

Visit the product website here.

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Teething is one of the inevitable challenges of parenthood. Every child will experience it at different times and stages, but rarely (never…?) will a child skip it entirely.  One of the babies in my mommy group got all 8 of his teeth in the first few months of his life and another baby I know didn’t have any teeth at the age of 1. All babies are different but at some point that cranky, whinny, I-wanna-bite-chew-and-gnaw-on-everything-in-sight phase will come.

One of the interesting (but tough) things about teething is that the most uncomfortable phase of teething is actually BEFORE the teeth break through the gums. When the teeth are actually visible, the most painful period has likely already passed. This means that when your child is irritable, cranky and waking up from sleep unexpectedly, you won’t be able to immediately diagnose why. Just like many other elements of parenting, you’ll be scratching your head trying to figure out “why”? You may be able to narrow down the source of the fussy child to teething if you also notice excessive drooling, a low-grade fever, changes in eating habits and an incessant need to chew on anything and everything in sight (fingers, toys, books etc.). Alternatively, you may happen to have a child that doesn’t seem to notice teething much at all… lucky you!

Leah endured teething moderately well.  She did have some moments of difficulty but like I mentioned, it was often hard to know whether emerging teeth was actually the cause. By the time her teeth came through, I was happy that she was back to her normal self and didn’t concern myself with re-visiting the past. Besides, I usually had something new to tackle by then like Leah biting me during breastfeeding!

To help you with the teething process you can buy a teether, or two! Some are filled with fluid that you can chill to give your child relief, and others are in the shape of a pacifier. There are ring-shaped toy teethers  but one of my favourites is the Nuby Softees Super Soft Teether. This PTPA winner is a high quality teether with a really great texture to massage gums matched with a shape that is easy to hold for babies. As a bonus, it comes with a case so you keep it clean between uses and easily throw it into your diaper bag to take it out with you. Though Leah seemed to like chewing on books just as much as chewing on teethers, she did show a bit more interest in the Nuby teethers more than others.

Nuby Softees teethers are designed to soothe and comfort your baby when they start to cut their first teeth. The hard and soft textures massage and assist erupting teeth to bring comfort and relief to your baby. Nuby Softees? super soft 100% silicone teethers are ideal for middle teeth teething. The different textures provide relief for baby’s sore gums. The Softees super soft rattle teethers are ideal for back teeth teething. The different textures massage and soothe in the final stages of teething.

To learn more about this PTPA Winner, click here.

Check out the Nuby website here.

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Once Leah started walking around on her own, I realized I should stock up on some first aid supplies for minor falls and tumbles. When I received the I’M OK!® mini first aid set, I knew right away that  it was perfect for just that. As soon as I opened the package, I giggled in delight! :) It was obvious that the product creators had put thought and care into designing a product that would make kids feel “OK” after an injury…and parents too! The theme that I received was Pink Princess, so appropriate for my baby (princess) Leah.

The I’M OK! set includes:

  • Patented pocket case
  • Emergency info card
  • I’M OK! cold pack
  • 24 I’M OK! bandages
  • 6 non-sting antiseptic swabs

Now you’ve probably already learned how much I love being prepared, and this kit might seem quite minimal, but I actually love that it contains just the basics. It’s really ideal for when you’re on the road since injuries at home can easily be taken care of with the at-home medical supplies. Plus, my diaper bag is already stuffed with the day to day essentials (diapers, wipes, change of clothes, sippy cup, diaper cream, snacks, sling, etc….) so I really don’t want to carry a full first aid kit with me anyhow. I particularly love how there’s a little carrying case so that the bandages and swabs don’t get lost or crumpled in the diaper bag. So brilliant! With my little Leah tottering everywhere these days, little bumps and bruises are inevitable and the little ice pack is just the thing. It’s also convenient to keep snacks cool, like yogurt or a sippy cup of milk.

All in all, it’s a cute, useful and convenient product to use. Did I mention it’s so cute!? :)

Learn more about this PTPA winner here.

Check out the I’M OK website here.

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I’ve had my fair share of challenges with Leah and her eating. She’s just not one of those babies that attack food with her mouth wide open. I suppose I should be thankful that her sleeping habits are quite good (aside from the occasional 5AM wake up mornings that I can’t seem to fix), but I would love for both her sleeping and eating to be great. Is that too much to ask? Apparently not, because in this past week her eating habits have taken a huge turn for the better! Yep, with only a few minor changes, Leah has become a mouth-wide-open eater and I am so incredibly thankful. Here’s how it happened.

After attending a Sleep Workshop with Nanny Robina, I started to think more about the timing of Leah’s meals. I had been feeding her at approximately 8am (breakfast), 12pm (lunch), 3pm (snack) and 6pm (dinner). Nanny Robina’s schedule had the mealtimes at 7am (breakfast), 11am (lunch), 2:30pm or 3pm (snack), 6pm (dinner). I started asking my other mommy friends what they had been doing and in doing so, learned this gem of a tip:

“Kids should be fed with at least 3-4 hours of time in between.  This includes milk, snacks, main meals, etc. 

The only thing kids should have in between those times is water.”

When I heard this I was like, NO WAY, are you kidding? Leah eats so little during her meals, if I can sneak a little milk (in a sippy cup) or a few Nutrios, crackers, Kamut puffs or rice cakes in there, I’m all over it (especially with the milk since I had weaned her from a few breastfeeding sessions). But in doing so, I was satiating her appetite and she wasn’t truly hungry when it was time for her meals. Breakthrough!

In the days that followed, I stopped giving her milk or any snacks between her mealtimes, only water. What a difference this made. All the sudden Leah was eating her food with her mouth wide open and actually screaming for more food! It also meant her lunchtime was falling earlier in the day (closer to 10:45am or 11am) and she was eating a substantial amount during her snack times (half an avocado most days and on this one occasion, a WHOLE avocado!). It made so much sense to me after I started doing it, and started to remember a few particularly BAD mealtime incidents and could map them back to too many pre-meal snacks/Mum Mums at the mall or on the road. It all makes sense! Once she started eating better, I felt less worried about supplementing her diet with extra milk or snacks.

Some disclaimers: During this past week, the feeding responsibility also started to switch over to my mother-in-law as I slowly started to transition back to work, but I would have expected her eating habits to worsen, not improve. I have also been slowly weaning Leah from the breast which may have made a greater impact in her improved appetite.

Regardless, I think this has been a huge breakthrough in my understanding of feeding babies and hopefully these good eating habits will continue throughout her childhood. Good luck to other moms out there!

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I’m all about being prepared and having the necessary supplies on hand. These are the items I would suggest purchasing in advance, to stock up your medicine cabinet and to avoid last minute runs to the pharmacy.

Please Note:

1) Consult your pediatrician or health care provider before giving medications to your child.

2) Recent recall on a number of infant and children’s medications including Tylenol, Motrin and Benedryl.

1) Baby Pain and Fever Medication (Tempra/Tylenol/Motrin) - These medications are really good to have on hand in the case of a fever (on that note, make sure you have a thermometer) for when teething pain starts to become a problem.

2) Calamine Lotion/0.5% Hydrocortisone Ointment - Some kind of anti-itch cream is useful for rashes or eczema. 0.5% Hydrocortisone is available over the counter and useful for treating eczema. The SpectroKids Eczema Care cream is very effective as well if you want to avoid steroid creams.

3) Saline Drops (and a nasal aspirator) - Saline drops used with a nasal aspirator address the problem of nasal congestion, particularly in the early stages when even a little bit of baby snot causes frustration for them during breastfeeding or for colds.

4) Children’s Benadryl - An anti-histamine mediation is very useful in case your child experiences an allergic reaction such as hives. Our First Aid instructor recommended that we have this on hand in your home, to buy you some extra time in the case of a severe allergic reaction.

5) Gripe Water/Ovol - Having something on hand to address colic (or just gas in general), is convenient. Gripe water, which is all natural is also good for hiccups, so we used it a few times when Leah’s hiccups were persistent. Make sure you buy an alcohol-free version such as the Kolik brand.

6) Vitamin D Drops – For exclusively breastfed babies, your physician will likely instruct you to give your baby a daily dose of Vitamin D.

7) Children’s Polysporin – For minor cuts and scrapes, this antibiotic cream comes in handy. We used it a few times when Leah’s ears got cracked and a bit bloody from her tugging on her ears.

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I confess, I’m not the most disciplined when it comes to flossing my teeth and during my pregnancy, I was so tired that my poor flossing habits continued. But when I went to the dentist in my third trimester, I got a good scolding from the hygienist for not keeping my dental hygiene in check. Apparently, though practicing good dental hygiene is always important, it is particularly important to take good care of your teeth during pregnancy. The reasons are as follows:

1) Hormonal changes can intensify dental problems – During pregnancy, a woman’s increased hormone levels exaggerate the body’s normal response to dental plaque, increasing the likelihood that a pregnant women will develop gum disease if her daily plaque control is not adequate. Pregnancy gingivitis is the most common dental concern during pregnancy, affecting almost 50% of all pregnant women. It causes your gums to become red, puffy, and inflamed. It can also trigger bleeding gums when you are brushing and flossing.

2) Poor dental health in moms can affect the fetus – Pregnancy gingivitis can lead to the serious stage of gum disease, periodontitis. Pregnant mothers with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to go into preterm labor. The explanation: Prostaglandin, a chemical found in oral bacteria, may induce labor (high levels of prostaglandin has been found in the mouths of women with severe cases of periodontal disease).

3) No x-rays during pregnancy – Since x-rays are not safe during pregnancy, your dentist will not be able to monitor your dental health as closely. Problems such as cavities may go undetected for 9 months or more, and in that time, they may worsen. Consider also that many pregnant women (like me) develop a sweet tooth and eat all those foods that can cause and worsen cavities. Furthermore, all those late evening and midnight snacks can worsen the problem further.

Believe me, the last thing you want to have to worry about is extra visits to the dentist with a newborn in tow, all because you didn’t practice good dental hygiene while you were pregnant. So make sure you take good care of those chompers especially if you’re snacking on all those sweets.

More information on oral health before, during and after pregnancy here.


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Clayton with the Peapod Wrap

There are a lot of baby carriers available to parents out there and selecting one is not easy, but when you pick the right carrier and use it correctly, it can be a godsend! Unfortunately, figuring out which one to use, and when, is not an easy task.

The benefits of ‘baby-wearing’ are well documented on sites such as They include reduced crying, improved physical, mental and emotional development, improved maternal bond, easier breastfeeding and better care, thereby reducing the incidence of postpartum depression. On a practical note, baby-wearing is convenient and can give you some of your freedom back. Like I mentioned in my previous post about Leah’s sleep habits, we spent the first 3 months of Leah’s life holding her (both when she was asleep and awake). Though this was wonderful bonding time for us, sometimes I just needed to have my arms available to get a few things done around the house. Putting Leah in a carrier gave me my freedom back and it felt amazing.

We started shopping around for a baby carrier while I was still pregnant and purchased the Baby Trekker at the HIGH recommendation of a friend. I also decided to purchase a baby wrap (PeaPodBabe) since I heard they were really useful as well. A friend of mine loaned me her Hotslings baby sling so I had 3 major types of baby carriers to experiment with. So far, I’ve found that carriers vary in effectiveness depending on the size and stage that the baby is in.

Before I go any further, I want to address the recent recall on the Infantino SlingRider. Like all baby products, it is important to know how to use the product properly and the risks involved. It is important to note that the recall was for a bag-style sling which can be more risky due to the tendency for the baby to be scrunched up, thereby compromising the airway. Like stated on, I agree that when properly positioned, a baby in a sling is as safe as a baby in arms.

Here’s a summary of what worked for us.

Clayton with the Peapod Wrap

The Baby Wrap

In the first few months of life, a sling is a great option for baby wearing (again when properly positioned). However, unlike some newborns, Leah didn’t seem to like being in the confines of a sling. The first time we put her into the sling she squirmed and clearly wanted out. This was unfortunate since a lot of my friends had great success with going out to weddings and restaurants (even high tea!) with their newborn in a sling. Without this option, we always held Leah in our arms when we were out and about.

At home, we started experimenting with the baby wrap so our arms could have a break once in awhile. It worked because the wrap supported her easily and adjusted to her small size (like a custom fit every time). Plus this super cute video peaked my interest. At first we put her into the wrap in the horizontal position (cradle hold) like in the video but as she got bigger, she preferred being in the upright position (tummy-to-tummy). We only used it while we were at home since wrapping her was tricky. We’d often have to re-wrap a few times before we got it right and in the process of doing so, the ends of the wrap would drag along the ground. The only caveat was that he would only tolerate the wrap during certain times (after being well fed and burped) and not for too long in most cases (3o minutes to an hour).

Me with the Baby Trekker

The Baby Carrier

When we started going out to the mall or grocery shopping, holding her all the time became increasingly cumbersome. She didn’t like being in the car seat (since we were still using the car seat in the stroller), so most of the time I would push the empty stroller while Clayton held her. Again, not the most convenient arrangement, especially when I started going to the mall with my other mommy friends and without Clayton. I didn’t want to use the baby wrap because it would drag all over the floor while I put it on. Instead, we started trying the Baby Trekker baby carrier and it worked out perfectly since she was able to look around (nosy girl!) and I could push the stroller myself since my arms were free. It was so comfortable that we could wear it for hours! Leah would enjoy looking around and often nap in it as well. The only tricky thing about the Baby Trekker brand of carrier is that putting it on is a bit of a two person task. As long as I had another mom or Clayton around to help me it was no problem but if I was home by myself, it was a bit of a struggle. This is why I later moved on to the baby sling.

Me using the Hotsling

The Sling

A baby sling is great because it is very compact and can fit in your diaper bag easily (unlike the Baby Trekker which I always needed to remember to bring separately). If Leah is fussing, I can quickly slip her into it without needing help from anyone else. I used it a few times at home when she started to get clingy and I needed to be able to move about the house. In the modified cradle carry hold she can still look around. Now that Leah has really good neck and back control, I can even start to use it with her in a hip-carry position. The disadvantage of the sling is that it can be tiring and straining on your back once the baby gets bigger. Carrying Leah in the sling (she’s about 15 lbs) gets tiring after 30 minutes. the Trekker on the other hand never got tiring.

Other Brands

My sister using the Ergo

In terms of different brands, I can only comment on what I have learned from my own experience and from talking to other moms. I thought I would also mention the Ergo since a lot of my mommy friends have had good success with it (and it’s easier to put on than the Trekker). Like the Trekker, it distributes the weight of the baby well, with the help of a waist strap. The standard Baby Bjorn and Snugli don’t have this feature so once the baby gets to a hefty size, your shoulders will start to ache. A friend of mine even experienced plugged milk ducts from using her Baby Bjorn, so make sure you adjust what carrier you use once your baby starts to get bigger. The Ergo however, does not allow the baby to face outwards which is how we typically use the Trekker. Another mommy friend of mine uses the ErgoSport carrier for all of her baby’s naps, so you can imagine how important comfort would be.

In summary, you will likely find that you prefer various carriers depending on the age of your child and how/when you’re using it. For this reason it is useful to have a few on hand and to try them out with your baby. Buying used carriers (in good condition) or borrowing them from your friends can make this feasible.

For a different perspective, check out a recent article on Baby Carriers in Canadian Family.

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Contributed by: Nancy

At each of the pre-natal classes I have attended the instructor has recommended taking an infant & child CPR class.  I didn’t really take this to heart because I figured that I could just call 911 if there is an emergency.  Plus on TV people do CPR all the time and I figured if I needed to I could just “wing-it” or try to remember the CPR training that I had during my Red Cross swimming lessons 20 years ago.  Ok, perhaps not the best idea…

Yesterday there was a last-minute cancellation in a CPR course that we were on the waiting list for, so fortunately both my husband and I were able to take advantage of the open spots.  The class was hosted by a local children’s store and the attendees were all parents or grandparents of young children, plus us – the expectant couple.  It was taught by American Heart Association certified instructors, took 3 hours, and covered adult, child, & infant CPR & choking.  The class was very hands-on and gave us plenty of opportunity to practice on the mannequins provided.  The steps are very easy to do and can really make the difference between life & death.

During the class some of the others shared stories of a family member requiring CPR, or a time when their child had choked on something, and they were really eye-opening.  We learned that over their lifetime, every kid can and will find a way to choke on something (food, toys, etc.).  Part of this has to do with their anatomy and how their throats are still developing.  Combine that with their natural curiosity and desire to put everything in their mouth and choking is inevitable.

When we left the class both my husband and I felt that it was the best thing we have done so far to prepare for the baby.

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Before Leah arrived, we got this trip from a friend:

Buy an Ear Thermometer. The ones the nurses use in the hospital which only require one second to take a reading. They’re like $80 but worth it. When my daughter had her first fever at 3 months I cheaped out and bought a 10 second oral thermometer. 10 seconds is like 4 days for a 3 month old. I got back into the car at 1am to pick up the proper one. Just trying to save Clayton the 1am drive to the drug store.

We followed his advice and found the thermometer very useful because we could quickly check Leah’s temperature if we were concerned that she might be getting sick. However, I found out in my prenatal class that for babies 3 months old or younger, it is recommended that you use a rectal thermometer for babies younger than 3 months old because of the size of their ear canal.

Last week, Leah developed a temperature after her 2nd vaccination and once again the digital thermometer came in handy. We actually had a small scare (see story here) but she is doing fine now. In the process, I learned this important tip: when taking a baby’s temperature, you should take the temperature reading 3 times and then take the average as the final value.

Some more information on taking kids’ temperature here.

Before you set up the baby’s crib, make sure you think about whether you’ll be co-sleeping with the baby (having the baby sleep in your room). We initially set up the crib in the baby room but needed to move it into our room once Leah grew out of the co-sleeper. We had to dismantle the crib and re-assemble it in our room because it didn’t fit through the door! At 7 months old, we had to dismantle the crib again to set it up in her own room.

Also remember that crib bumpers should not be used due to health risks, including SIDS, so as cute as they may be, don’t install them in your crib. I saved mine to protect Leah from bumping int the coffee table once she started rolling. When your baby starts to pull up to a seated position, I suggest you lower the crib. You want to do this before the baby is able to pull up to standing and believe me, it’ll happen before you expect it. I remember the day that I went to get Leah from her nap and saw her sitting there waiting for me. It was so cute and such a surprise that she was growing up so fast.

When you lower the crib, I wouldn’t bother going halfway down. Just go straight to the lowest position on the crib and save yourself the trouble. If you still use a sleep positioner at this point, you may want to consider phasing it out since any object can now be used as a stepping stool for the baby to climb out of the crib. I also removed the crib mobile at this point because I didn’t want her standing up and yanking at it.

Now when I look back to old pictures of Leah, it’s amazing to think that at one point in time she just lay there without turning, rolling, sitting or standing. Now I’m just waiting for the day she walks back and forth across the crib and starts jumping on her bed!

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