Summer Kindness Contest

summer kindness contest

Let’s do some random acts of kindness this summer! Maria Dismondy is hosting a Summer Kindness Contest. Submit a photo of your child doing something kind for a chance to win. For complete details, check out Maria’s event page.

 

10 Tips for Parents on Coping with a Baby in the NICU

NICU baby under bili lights

Image credit: Sara Kuhn

Admission to the NICU isn’t something that any parent hopes for. Unfortunately it is a reality for many and can bring a range of emotions.

I spent 43 days in the Royal Oak Beaumont NICU. Here are some things I did, and some things I wish I did.

1. Take care of yourself.

I know this is easier said than done. I wish I did a better job at this. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try to get enough sleep. Don’t isolate yourself from your family or partner.

2. Accept help if it’s offered. If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Friends and family often feel helpless and don’t know what they can do to make you feel better. Be specific and polite. Trips to the grocery store, meal prep, pet care, and house cleaning are all small things that they can do that can make a huge difference.

3. Reach out to other parents in the NICU.

They’re going through a lot of the same things, and have many of the same fears and insecurities. Some of these parents you may see for weeks or months at a time. Smile. Say hi in the lounge. If you make a friend, keep in touch with them. This way when you bring the baby home, you’ll have some support from other NICU parents. There are certain quirks (e.g., extreme germ paranoia, very chapped hands, strange reactions to beeping sounds, etc.) that you probably won’t find with your non-NICU parent friends.

4. Don’t compare yourself or your baby to anyone else.

In the NICU, as in life, someone will always have it better and someone will always have it worse.

5. Find a mentor.

One of the greatest things I did was request to be put in touch with a mom whose children were Beaumont NICU graduates. We communicated via text and she was my light at the end of the tunnel throughout the process. It was tangible proof for me that I could make it. She also kept in touch with me after my daughter went home and was a great resource as we adjusted. You can contact a staff member of the Parenting Program if you’re interested in this.

6. Get to know your nurses.

The Beaumont NICU nurses are some of the most dedicated, hard-working and compassionate people I’ve ever met. They care about you and they care about your baby. They want you to succeed and have so much knowledge. Don’t understand a word the doctor said at rounds? Ask your nurse questions. Let them know you. They can be incredible allies if you let them. They might even end up at your baby’s first birthday party.

7. Document your experiences.

This is another thing that I wish I would’ve done better. Use your NICU journal. Take lots of pictures and video. I love looking back now and seeing now how far we’ve come.

8. Take advantage of the resources at Beaumont.

Check to see if you qualify for a meal to be sent up. Go to the education classes offered. Even if you think you know everything about the topic being presented, it can be a great way to take a breather and connect with other parents for support.

9. Believe in your baby.

The NICU can be sad, scary, overwhelming, difficult, disappointing, frustrating and downright horrible. Through all this, your baby is fighting. Joe Louis has nothing on a preemie baby. They are tough. They are strong. And they are fighting. Fight with them. Muster every ounce of positivity you can find and channel it into your baby. They need you to believe in them and yourself. You will find strength you never knew you had in the NICU. Live in every precious moment that you have to hold them, see them and talk to them.

10. Take care of yourself.

I know I said this already, but it’s the most important thing that’s the easiest to forget. Drink lots of water. Bring healthy snacks. Invest in some good hand lotion. You’re going to need it.

– Sara Kuhn is a Parenting Program participant and volunteer.

 

A Big Thank You, Dads, for Doing the Gross Stuff

Two children mowing the lawn behind dad

Image credit: Rebecca Calappi

It’s Father’s Day. A time to recognize the spider-killing, lawn-mowing he-men in our lives. Seriously, where would we be without dads?

I know for sure, our toilet would always be plugged up. My husband is the plumber in the house. Now that I think about it, he does all the gross jobs: taking out the garbage, plungering the toilet, catching kid vomit without gagging.

Yep, dads are pretty handy to have around.

So, thanks to all you dads out there who teach your kids how to put live bait on their fishing hooks. And thanks for teaching them about cars, kicking the tires, changing the oil for yourself and how to choose a good mechanic. Thank you also for attending tea parties and daddy-daughter dances, and for getting just as excited as your kids when they get a cool remote-controlled car.

Don’t think that your gross … er … I mean great work goes unnoticed. You guys rock!

– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples.

Savvy Sunscreen Tips

Boy wearing a hat with sunscreen on nose

Unaltered image. Bryan, Flickr. CC License.

Should we swap one health hazard for another? Overexposure to the sun can damage DNA and lead to skin cancer. Therefore protecting our skin, especially during the hottest part of the day, is vital. But if we try to protect ourselves using only sunscreen, we may run the risk of other health hazards, including other cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.

Hormone Disruption

Common sunscreen preservatives, parabens and BHA, are known to disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system. Increasing evidence shows that the popular chemical active ingredients (those that “actively” absorb or block UVB rays), oxybenzone (benzophenone-3 or BP-3) and octinoxate (octyl-methoxycinnamate or OMC) may disrupt the endocrine system as well. The authors of the scientific review article, Sunscreens: are they beneficial for health? An overview of endocrine disrupting properties of UV-filters, state, “the UV-filters BP-3 … and OMC can be considered as substances of high concern in relation to human risk.”

The National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences’ (NIEHS) publication, Endocrine Disruptors, warns American consumers that, “… endocrine disruptors may cause … increases in mammary, ovarian, and prostate cancers …” among other health concerns such as reductions in male and female fertility, abnormalities in male reproductive organs, early puberty in girls, and increases in immune and autoimmune diseases.

Adequate Protection

Surprisingly, sunscreen chemicals may not sufficiently protect us from skin cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its Burning Facts fact sheet states, “Although a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher offers protection from sunburn, it does not block all of the sun’s damaging rays. In fact, there is no evidence that sunscreens protect you from malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer …”

The EPA goes on to suggest that to “fully protect yourself, remember to seek shade, minimize peak hours of sun exposure, and wear protective clothing in addition to applying sunscreen.” The EPA urges consumers to use full-spectrum sunscreen, which protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Both are linked to skin cancer, but a product’s SPF only refers to blockage of UVB rays.

Look for Minerals

The majority of individual chemical sunscreen active ingredients are not full spectrum; they do not successfully block UVA rays. However the minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide do physically block both UVA and UVB rays.

Avobenzone is one chemical active ingredient that receives a low-toxicity rating from the environmental health watchdog group, the Environmental Working Group (EWG). According to the EPA, avobenzone offers extensive UVA protection and limited UVB protection.

Remember These Five Tips

1. Prevent sun exposure

  • Minimize exposure when the sun’s rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Wear a hat and protective, light-colored clothing

2. Use “Broad Spectrum” sunscreen to protect against both UVA and UVB rays

  • SPF only refers to blockage of UVB rays, not UVA
  • UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and can cause wrinkles and skin cancer

3. Look for minerals or least toxic active ingredients

4. Avoid potential and known endocrine disruptors in the ingredients

  • Active ingredients: oxybenzone (BP-3) and octinoxate (OMC)
  • Preservatives: parabens and BHA

5. Use sunscreen properly

  • Lay it on thick
  • Reapply after 2 hours

Buying Guide

Mineral Sunscreen Brands

Lip Balms with SPF

**Indicates brands with both chemical- and mineral-based suncreens. Look for the specific line(s) listed to avoid chemical active ingredients. This list isn’t exhaustive or all-inclusive.

– Melissa Cooper Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at melissas@ecocenter.org or visit http://www.ecocenter.org/lmg.

When the Needle Arrives, My Child Dives: Keeping Your Child Calm During Shots

Little boy holding up his sleeve for a shot

Children receive shots often within the first couple years of life and multiple shots if they have a chronic medical condition. These times can be anxiety-provoking for the child as well as for the parent. Here are some tips on how to prepare your child (and yourself) for shots.

  • The truth shall set you free
    • Kids appreciate honesty. Tell your child about the doctor’s visit and the likelihood of getting a shot. Begin this practice during infancy as this will help your youngster know what to expect and trust that you will be there to provide comfort and reassurance.
  • Be prepared
    • Distraction works! Consider bringing a favorite toy or blanket for youngsters. Bubbles or cartoons on a tablet or iPad may help toddlers and school-age children. Music can help older children. Some kids may try to negotiate their way out of getting a shot. When this happens, provide limits with choices. For example, “You have to get a shot. You may sit on the exam table or sit in the chair”, or “Which arm do you prefer, the right or the left?”
  • Gold star
    • Reward your child for completing the task. Stickers, choosing the Band-Aid, and a small toy from a treasure chest are all suitable examples. Focus on the positives such as sitting still, being brave or using a distraction technique such as deep breathing. Don’t focus on the behaviors that we want to decrease such as screaming or avoiding.
  • Anything else?
    • You may consider some over-the-counter topical agents that can be applied to the site prior to the shot. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for the best way to use the product.
    • Remind yourself and your child about the benefits of getting shots. They help you stay strong and healthy or to feel better quicker if sick.
    • One more thing, hugs and kisses from mommy and daddy are by far the best feel good medicine after shots (even for teenagers), so be sure to double the cuddles!

– Carnigee Truesdale-Howard, PsyD, ABPP is a Pediatric Psychologist with Beaumont Children’s Hospital Divisions of Hematology/Oncology & Gastroenterology.

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Michael Sobolic

Parents with 3 young adult children

Michael Sobolic with his family.

Beaumont Parenting Program volunteers come to the program for many different reasons. Parents and grandparents who wish to share their experience. Professionals who hope to share their expertise. A young man who, hoping to “get a foot in the door” at the hospital to further his ambition to become a physician, also joined the BPP family.

Michael Sobolic, 21, has been a Parenting Program volunteer for 3½ years, working as a hearing screener and trainer. He’s also employed as a Clinical Assistant in Maternal Child Health at Troy Beaumont, and a Supplemental Instruction Leader for Anatomy and Physiology at Wayne State University. While Michael was searching for any way into Beaumont, he says that his first opportunity was “fortunately” the BPP. This is telling, because he’s clearly found a home in the BPP family.

It’s evident that Michael has established his place here in the stories he tells about volunteering. He finds happiness in assisting the nurses and making their days easier. He knows he’s making a difference in potentially preventing speech deficits in his young charges. It’s also obvious when you see Michael interacting with the staff with whom he works, as I’ve been privileged to do. He’s definitely a favorite with the mostly female staff, mothered and teased in turn, and appreciated and esteemed by all, as they talk with respect of his dedication and intellect.

Young man holding a baby

Another example that Michael has found his place as a BPP volunteer.

One of the purposes of this Parenting Program blog feature is to share with our online community some of the fabulous volunteers who make the program so strong. To that end, one of my favorite questions — and one that rarely gets a response — is, “Share something that most in the Parenting Program don’t know about you.”

Michael, however, gave us a peek into himself by sharing that he “dance[s] in a Slovak Folk Dance group. [The group] dances at festivals and performances in the tristate area and occasionally internationally, with the last trip being to Eastern Slovakia.” He also enjoys going to Slovakia with his parents to see his family. He said, “I love walking down the long, winding, cobblestone streets on a beautiful day, eating gelato, [seeing] enticing storefronts with European pastries lining both sides.”

What a picture Michael paints, giving detail and dimension to the future physician with his foot in the hospital door. Peeking behind him, beyond that door, we can see a young man (with a sweet tooth) sharing his heritage with his family.

When asked for his favorite quote, Michael gave me this sentiment from Erma Bombeck. “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” I think it is safe to say that Michael is well on his way to being able to do just that.

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program Volunteer

Infant and Child CPR Tips

Every parent should take a CPR class. It can’t hurt to take a class and get certified in Infant and Child CPR by the American Heart Association. You’ll get to see these techniques performed in person and ask the instructor any questions. And someday you may save a life! 

Shout and tap.

Decide whether CPR is necessary. Call out your child’s name and gently tap him on the shoulder. If there is no response and the baby isn’t breathing (or not breathing normally), position the infant on his back to begin CPR. 

Remember to “Take a CAB”.

Performing CPR on a baby comes down to these three steps.

C = Circulation

1. Place the baby on his back on a firm, flat surface, such as the floor or table.
2. Place two fingers of one hand just below an imaginary horizontal line between baby’s nipples.
3. Give 30 chest compressions. Hard and fast! Depth should be 1½ inches to circulate the blood.

A = Airway

After 30 compressions, gently tip the head back one hand and lift his chin slightly with the other.

B = Breathing

1. Cover the baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth.
2. Give a gentle puff of air in baby’s mouth, wait one second, and then give a second puff of air.
3. Give two breaths after every 30 chest compressions.

Do the CAB steps 5 times (30 chest compression to two breaths) = 2 minutes. At the end of every 2 minutes, assess the baby. If there is still no movement or breathing, continue to repeat the CAB steps until help arrives.

Call 911.

If there’s someone else at home with you, have her call for help immediately. If you’re alone, you can start CPR. If after two minutes there is still no response, call 911. Once you give the emergency operator your info, continue to administer CPR until help arrives.

– Michelle Enerson, RNC, is the NICU Program Coordinator for the Beaumont Parenting Program and a certified Basic Life Support Instructor.


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