Cloth diapers are not what our grandmothers once used- a cloth towel held together by pins. Gone are the days of hand-washing and line drying cloth diapers, too. (Unless of course, you choose to do so.)
We are entering a more environmentally friendly generational wave right now, and one trend is coming back with a new style. Keeping disposable diapers out of landfills can help to lessen your carbon footprint, and it can have significant health benefits for your baby. Choosing cloth diapers over conventional diapers is an easy decision when you understand just what it can mean for your baby.
The Benefits of Cloth Diapering
Keeping the chemicals from disposable diapers off of your baby’s skin should be a priority. Sodium Polyacrylate, Tributyl Tin, Phthalates, and Dioxin are only a few of the most common chemicals found in disposable diapers. These are all linked to lifelong health risks such as endocrine disruption, obesity, and cancer.
By choosing cloth diapers, you also lower the risk of diaper rashes and UTI’s because you will be changing your baby more frequently.
9 in every 10 American babies use disposable diapers. This adds up to 27.4 billion diapers in landfills each year.
- Just for the disposable diapers U.S. babies will wear, over 200,000 trees are cut down every year.
- In one year, 3.4 billion gallons of fuel oil will be used to manufacture disposable diapers.
- Disposables generate over 3.5 million tons of waste each year.
- Those diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose.
Earlier Potty Training:
Because cloth diapered babies can feel when they are wet, they want to potty train earlier than those in disposable diapers. They tend to have less bed wetting issues as they potty train and grow, too. It is easier to notice your baby’s bathroom cues when wearing cloth diapers, making the transition to underwear smooth and easy.
Your Bank Account:
Purchasing disposable diapers will cost you over $800 a year per child, but (depending on how many cloth diapers you purchase) cloth diapers can be bought for $5-20 a piece. You can survive with about 25-30 diapers, easily. (It’s even cheaper if you use prefolds and a cover!) These diapers can be reused on siblings, too.
The Selection of Cloth Diapers
It is an overwhelming world to jump into these days! You can choose between:
But don’t shy away because of the choices, you’ll find your favorites as you start trying them out. The easiest will always be an all-in-one, hybrid, or pocket diaper. They require the least amount of work, but all cloth diapers are pretty easy!
Perhaps the pattern options may sway your choice, too. Whales, monkeys, plaid, stripes, ice-cream cones, you name it and you can find it on a cloth diaper. Ruffles and bows? No problem. An attachable dragon tail? Yep. You may just find yourself starting a new obsessive collection!
How to Clean Cloth Diapers
If you are breastfeeding, there is literally nothing to do but toss your diapers directly into a diaper bag, and then wash the contents of the bag every other day (empty and toss the bag in, too). You’ll rinse the diapers on a cold cycle, wash them on a hot cycle with minimal soap, and then rinse them again on cold. You can hang them to dry or toss them in the dryer for convenience.
If you are using formula, or after solid foods enter the picture, you can knock the poop into your toilet before throwing the diapers into the wash.
Learn More About the Risks of Disposable Diapers:
Parents are also not aware of the adverse effects of disposable diapers being in contact with their baby’s reproductive organs 24 hours a day for more than two years and the long-term effects it causes.
Disposable diapers have been implicated by diapering proponents like leak proof polymers, super absorbent polymers, and some scented chemicals which are the key factors for everything from chronic diaper rash, respiratory problems like asthma, liver damage, skin diseases, infertility, and even to cancer.
Continue the research:
We have discussed the effects of stress on the human body as a whole, but what most people forget to consider are the women who are pregnant. Yes stress affects them just as it does the non-pregnant woman, but did you know that it can also have an effect on pregnancy and the unborn baby? It’s true, and it’s enlightening. This research has prompted many feelings for me, as my 4 year old has gut and speech issues that have “no medical reasoning.” His pregnancy was during a time of my life when I was battling stress more often than not. Let’s just say that the hours of research I’ve read through leads me to better understanding my son’s issues.
Research shows that stress experienced by a woman during pregnancy may affect her unborn baby as early as 17 weeks after conception, with potentially harmful effects on brain, gut and overall development.
Pregnancy in itself is a stressful time on a woman’s body. The normal physical and hormonal changes can be quite daunting, but the reality is that excessive stress during pregnancy can have some severe consequences for the health of an unborn baby if it is not managed. It’s already known that extreme stress during pregnancy can lead to increased risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy. In the later stages of pregnancy, extreme stress can lead to premature labor, premature birth and low birth-weight babies. But more than that, the latest findings indicate that prenatal stress can also increase the risk of a baby being born with asthma or allergies, and so many other lifelong challenges.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, naturally increases 2 to 4 fold in pregnant women. Cortisol is passed through the placenta to baby, but the amount of maternal cortisol that crosses the placenta barrier is limited because its passage is regulated by the enzyme 11B-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. Maternal cortisol does still account for 30-40% of fetal concentrations of cortisol. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11231985
Women under higher than normal stress levels, chronic stress, or stress that is not handled well are unknowingly exposing their babies to increased levels of cortisol. These maternal cortisol levels can affect birth and infant outcomes in multiple ways. For one, cortisol stimulates the synthesis and release of placental corticotrophin-releasing hormone (pCRH). In humans, elevated cortisol early in pregnancy predicts pCRH levels later in pregnancy, and pCRH predicts preterm birth. Maternal cortisol also acts directly on the fetus and its developing nervous system. For example, results of some studies have documented that relatively high levels of prenatal maternal cortisol predict:
- greater behavioral and physiological stress reactivity in fetuses, infants and children
- decreased cognitive ability in infants
- increased affective problems in young children
- altered amygdala volumes in young girls
Stress during the first trimester of pregnancy alters the population of microbes living in a mother’s vagina. Those changes are passed on to newborns during birth and are associated with differences in their gut microbiome as well as their brain development.
According to research presented in 2013 by the Society of Neuroscience, “features of the mother’s vaginal microbiome were altered by stress, and in turn, changes were transmitted to the offspring’s gut.”
During a vaginal birth, a newborn is exposed to its mother’s vaginal microbes, collectively known as the microbiota, which importantly colonizes the newborn’s gut, helping its immune system mature and influencing its metabolism. These effects take place during a critical window of brain development.
Tracy Bale, senior author on the study and a professor of neuroscience in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Perelman School of Medicine states:
‘As the neonate’s gut is initially populated by the maternal vaginal microbiota, changes produced by maternal stress can alter this initial microbial population as well as determine many aspects of the host’s immune system that are also established during this early period.’
These findings not only highlight the important role that the mother’s vaginal microbiome has in populating her baby’s gut at birth, but also the profound effect of maternal stress experience on this microbial population and on early gut and brain development.
A study released in March 2015, utilized the information provided by baby’s first blood draw (heal prick) after birth shows that infants whose mother’s cortisol levels were consistently higher than normal early on in pregnancy, had higher than normal cortisol levels themselves. These infants displayed a much higher sensitivity to stress than other babies with lower cortisol levels. As these babies grew into toddlerhood, they exhibited heightened levels of anxiousness compared to other children, and by the time they were six years old, MRI scans revealed their amygdala (the section of the brain associated with the human response to frightening stimuli) were larger than normal. http://www.newsweek.com/how-calm-your-anxiety-during-pregnancy-315242
Increased stress in pregnancy also elevates the fetal heart rate. Research comparing stress to mood changes shows that a bad mood or bad day does not alter the fetus, but stressful situations and lifestyles do. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549003/ and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12002098
The intelligence of more than 100 babies and toddlers whose mothers had suffered unusually high stress in pregnancy was studied, and in January 2015, results were released showing their IQ’s were generally about 10 points below average. Many of these small children also had higher than average levels of anxiety and attention deficit problems. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2007/may/31/childrensservices.medicineandhealth
Numerous studies have found that males appeared most affected and may have implications for the development of disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, both of which disproportionately affect males in our society.
Shown below: Maternal stress also impacts normal fetal tissues and organs’ development and increases the risk of development of cardiovascular, metabolic syndrome, stroke and various neurobehavioral, neuropsychological, neuropsychiatric diseases later in life. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404248/
The brain development is strongly compromised by maternal stress. Expression patterns of key functional mediators that contribute to the heightened susceptibility of neonatal HIE (Neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a devastating disease that primarily causes neuronal and white matter injury and is among the leading cause of death among infants.) The response of these mediators may be stress-specific.
Prenatal stress changes normal brain developmental trajectory, alters brain cellular behavior, remodels cerebral structure and morphology, disturbs neurotransmission, and reprograms the vulnerability or resiliency to neurological diseases in later life.
Other Possible Effects of Stress: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404248/
Asthma and Allergies: Babies born to mothers who are experiencing extreme stress levels had more immunoglobulin E (IgE) in their blood at birth than babies who are born to mothers with normal stress levels. IgE is an immune system compound (antibody) that indicates an immune system response. This suggests that these babies would be more likely to have asthma or allergies because IgE is an antibody involved in allergic and asthmatic reactions. Obviously this is not conclusive as there are many other factors that determine whether a child will be asthmatic or allergy prone but certainly elevated IgE is suggestive of an increased risk.
Enhanced vulnerability of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy: Studies indicate a close link between prenatal stress and enhanced risk of development of cardio-metabolic syndrome, stroke, neuro-behavioral, neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric pathogenesis in adolescence and/or adulthood. However, little research shows the potential harmful effects of fetal stress on the susceptibility of neonatal HIE. Given the impact of prenatal stress on programming of brain structures and functions as discussed above, it is possible that fetal stress may induce the sensitive phenotype of HIE in the neonatal brain through reprogramming expression patterns of some key functional genes and/or proteins involved in the pathophysiology of HIE. More research needs done in this area.
The most common forms of stress that pregnant women noted:
- Relationship Problems
It is vital that pregnant women are given adequate support and reassurance from their family, friends and employers, to ensure they have a happy and healthy pregnancy.
Stress is going to happen. It is inevitable. But how one handles the stress is what seems to be of importance. Working through it before it becomes ongoing and overwhelming will help lower the chances of any maternal stress-related complications.
Before diving into the benefits and confusion of fevers, I will start with explaining a fever by age. You see, a newborn, infant and baby’s temperature is not categorized as a fever at the same numerical reading as a grown adult, or even a child for that matter.
Did you know that a temperature up to 100.4* is completely normally in an infant under 12 weeks of age? A child over 12 weeks, a toddler, even an adult has not reached a true fever until 104*. Nothing under this (100.4*) for a newborn is even considered an elevated temperature. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, the normal range of temperature for an infant is between 97-100.4*F. It is important to remember that a fever is not a form of illness. In fact, a fever is typically brought on by the body fighting off an infection or as a result of an immunization. Because a fever is generally caused by fighting off an infection, this can even be taken as a good sign of a baby’s developing immune system! With a healthy immune system, the fever should break within 48 hours.
When the immune system is weak, or fighting something, it is smart to start supplementing to strengthen it. By adding extra vitamin D, probiotics, and including colloidal silver, you can boost the immune system and have it ready to head into battle.
Fevers show that the body is doing exactly what it is designed to do. They are the body’s way of healing itself. When the child’s body increases in core temperature, it is preparing to battle. The temperature will rise to a level that is necessary to keep the invading virus or bacteria from growing or reproducing more. The fever causes everything to slow down and allows the body a chance to build up antibodies to fight off the disease. Treating the fever with medication reverses this situation and tricks the body into cooling down before it is ready. The fever also acts as a catalyst to speed up enzyme reactions and metabolism. It is during this time that the body begins to repair tissue. Allowing the fever to run its course is the easiest and smartest way to beat the invading illness.
The best piece of advice you will get is to step away from the thermometer. You will know when your baby is under the weather and feverish. Unless that baby is so hot that your mama bear instincts are screaming at you to run to the ER, then knowing a specific number won’t do anything but cause you anxiety. (And have you rechecking that temperature every 10 minutes!) Fevers are more frightening than harmful. They are usually a sign that the body is fighting an infection of some kind. According to www.askdrsears.com the top three reasons for a fever in an infant are:
Viral Infection: The most common cause of fever in children. Roseola, colds, flu, hand-foot-mouth disease, chicken pox, fifth disease, along with many other viruses cause fever. Most viruses are not dangerous. They simply need to run their course over several days. They are not treatable with antibiotics. They are contagious, though, and baby should be kept home until the virus has passed.
Bacterial Infection: Ear infections, sinus infection, pneumonia, bladder infection, and strep throat are all bacterial infections that cause fever. Antibiotics can be used (or homeopathy and other natural remedies), but a trip to the emergency room is not needed, call your pediatrician in the morning.
Teething: A fever up to 101*F is common while teething.
Fever is also a very common side effect of vaccines and should be treated as a vaccine injury if the fever causes a seizure, brain swelling, or any other illness. (Directly from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm )
Being skin-to-skin with baby in a lukewarm bath will assist in cooling baby off gradually and will prevent him from getting too cold too quickly. It is also encouraged to ensure your baby is drinking a lot of liquids and kept in a cool room, out of the sun. If you are breastfeeding, nurse him around the clock. Breastmilk has antibodies in it created specifically for your child and the environment you are currently in. (www.kellymom.com )
If your child is old enough to consume food, is no longer nursing, and is showing signs of illness, most people will recommend you supplement with pedialyte. Before you go grabbing the sugar, preservative, and dye-filled drink, think about making a homemade version instead.
Homemade Pedialyte Recipe: (Source: 100 Days of Real Food)
- 1 quart water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Note: If you fear your child will think this drink is too plain consider adding in a couple splashes of orange Juice. Also, the sugar and salt may dissolve more easily if you warm up the water first.
The main reason to treat your child’s fever is to make him feel better. When he is achy, fussy, crying, not sleeping, or slightly lethargic, you may want to try a handful of natural methods of lowering the temperature to help with his comfort level. Just remember that you are treating a symptom and not the illness by lowering the temperature. Another note worth mentioning, a fever does not always present itself as a hot forehead, a fever can show as lethargy, overly thirsty, a poor appetite, poor sleeping, or a seizure.
Ways to help: (www.askdrsears.com )
- Skin-to-skin, kangaroo care keeping baby chest to chest with you to help regulate body heat
- Rest: Do NOT wake your child up. Rest is best!
- Give your child plenty to drink to prevent dehydration (not enough fluid in the body) and help the body cool itself. Water, clear soups, and popsicles are. If your child isn’t getting enough fluids, don’t force him to eat if he doesn’t feel like it. (Breastfeed around the clock if possible.)
- Keep your child quiet. Moving around can raise the temperature even more.
- Keep the room temperature between 70°F to 74°F.
- Dress your child in light cotton pajamas so that body heat can escape.
Don’t over bundle your child. Overdressing can trap body heat and cause your child’s temperature to rise.
- If your child is chilled, put on an extra blanket but remove it when the chills stop
A fever is the body’s way of testing the immune system. Regular chiropractic care keeps the immune system ready to fight. A study showed the effects of specific upper cervical adjustments increasing healthy cell counts. Along with a healthy diet and active lifestyle, chiropractic care adds to the building blocks of a strong immune system. (http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Kent_Model_of_Subluxation.pdf)
Most pediatricians recommend to alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help reduce fever. Here is the APA stance of alternating therapies:
“…questions remain regarding the safety of this practice as well as the effectiveness in improving discomfort, which is the primary treatment end point. The possibility that parents will either not receive or not understand dosing instructions, combined with the wide array of formulations that contain these drugs, increases the potential for inaccurate dosing or overdosing. ”
So, it is best to let the fever ride out and don’t panic it’s just a fever.
Contrary to everyone’s belief, taking the temperature rectally is quite controversial should not be done at home. A thermometer must be inserted at least 5 cm to obtain a stable core temp. This insertion temp risks perforating the rectum and can possibly end in death. Perhaps, leave this for the extremely rare instances in the hospital when the absolute most accurate reading is needed. (http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/nixrectl.html )
Above all, trust your gut instincts. If you truly feel that your child is seriously ill, contact your doctor or head to the emergency room. You have every right to call your pediatrician and ask questions to calm your anxiety and have your questions answered.
Did you know that even newborn babies can benefit greatly from chiropractic care? Conditions such as colic, reflux, and other common issues can be treated with physical adjustments. But perhaps one of the most important visits is the first visit after baby’s birth.
As soon as mom and baby feel well enough to leave the house, it can be beneficial to be seen by a chiropractor. The act of being born is not inherently dangerous for baby. In fact the compression of the contractions and the hormonal and probiotic cocktail to which they are exposed during labor and delivery are all beneficial to baby.
However, as a result of increasing rates of cesarean section and continued instrumental deliveries, many babies undergo mild to moderate physical trauma during the birth process. Even a typical vaginal delivery in the United States, complete with an epidural and mom pushing from flat on her back or a semi-sitting position can result in trauma to the newborn baby. Labor inductions can also cause unusually intense contractions that excessively compress babies skull, neck, and spine. C-sections, forceps, and vacuum deliveries often involve an inordinate amount of tugging and pulling, both of which can cause their soft bones and joints to come out of proper alignment.
Chiropractors who specialize in Pediatrics have the skill and knowledge to properly assess and adjust tiny newborns. In a review of thirty three studies on chiropractic care and pregnancy and the postpartum period, research indicated evaluation and spinal adjustment of the infant to be beneficial.
“The induced vector of force that may cause trauma to the newborn includes traction of the cervical spine coupled with hyperextension during the birth process.31 Forceps, cesarean, and suction or vacuum extraction can also cause trauma to the newborn’s cervical and thoracic spine and spinal cord31 and may warrant chiropractic evaluation…In a review of 1000 infants, Gutmann suggested that birth trauma frequently affected the atlanto-occipital joint, causing blockage or vertebral subluxation.31 Correction of such a presentation may be accomplished through a light, precise, biomechanical adjustment, using various gentle techniques.32” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647084/)
Wordy I know! But the gist is that a precise, gentle, adjustment by a skilled provider can greatly improve baby’s comfort level and promote proper development of the spine. As with any practitioner, is important to always choose your chiropractor wisely. Like your medical doctor, make sure that you are choosing a practitioner who listens to your health concerns, respects you and your family, and has a firm knowledge base in your particular issue. While most chiropractors are trained in the care of infants, it is best for babies to be adjusted by those who specialize in pediatrics. And once baby is correctly aligned, it is important to maintain said alignment! Babies are meant to be carried and worn by their parents and even older siblings. Babywearing promotes both mental organization and proper spinal and hip alignment. But more on that in our next post!
There is hardly anything more frustrating for a new parent than when your previously sleepy newborn baby turns into a colicky mess. Before we were parents, most of us had heard the term ‘colic,’ may have thought it had something to do with gassy babies, and hoped it would never be something we would have to deal with. Colic typically begins at around 3 weeks of age, and consists of crying spells that last more than 3 hours, 3 or more days per week, and lasting 3 weeks or more. Colicky crying applies to babies who have been fed, changed, burped, are dry, warm, being held by a parent, and otherwise comforted but cannot seem to relax or sleep. They may arch their back like babies with reflux do (note: although reflux and colic often go hand in hand, this is not always the case. See our next post about reflux!), and twist up their face in grimaces of pain. Theories as to the causes of colic include intestinal gas, food intolerances to either mom’s milk or formula, baby adjusting to their new gut microbiome, and others. However, these are all just theories and unhelpful to mom and dad in the middle of a crying spell! Breastfeeding on demand can help soothe your baby. Many babies cluster feed in the evening, and if baby is happy as long as he is attached to the breast, then let him be there! However, if baby is full, does not want to comfort nurse, and is not comforted by swaddling, rocking, shushing, nursing, or any of the usual methods, you might be dealing with colic.
Babies have quite the time of it as they emerge from the womb. Although their skulls and spines are built to withstand (and even benefit from!) the uterine contractions and descent through the birth canal, fetal malposition during labor, instrumental delivery, a supine delivery position, or cesarean section, can all have a detrimental effect on how babies adjust to life outside the womb. A skilled chiropractor will check babies pallet, belly, neck, and spine, and do any necessary adjustments to help your baby feel more relaxed, and have less pain, resulting in less crying spells. Infant chiropractic care is very gentle, yet can make a world of difference in the comfort of you and your baby!
Recent studies have shown that chiropractic care can relieve some of the symptoms of colic and help your baby be more comfortable. Infant chiropractic adjustments by a qualified practitioner are both safe and efficacious! In a pragmatic single-blind, randomized controlled trial in the UK, they found that chiropractic manual adjustment reduced crying behaviors in the colicky infants. The findings showed that knowledge of treatment by the parent did not appear to contribute to the observed treatment effects in this study. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23158465)
A 2011 review of available literature resulted in the following findings: “Our systematic review of the literature revealed 26 articles meeting our inclusion criteria. These consisted of three clinical trials, two survey studies, six case reports, two case series, four cohort studies, five commentaries, and four reviews of the literature. Our findings reveal that chiropractic care is a viable alternative to the care of infantile colic and congruent with evidence-based practice, particularly when one considers that medical care options are no better than placebo or have associated adverse events.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21571236)
A study at the Center for Biomechanics at Odense University in Denmark found that chiropractic manipulation reduced crying by up to 2.7 hours! (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543581) Other studies have shown parent-reported improvement of symptoms of up to 94%.
If you think your baby is suffering from colic, don’t wait it out! Come see us at Pea and the Pod Chiropractic