Archive Page 2

Is using a car seat covering safe?

woman carrying infant carrier with canopy

image credit: Amazon

As the winter months approach, children will soon be sledding down snow hills, building snowmen, and really little ones will be traveling in cold weather in their car seats. As a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), I can assure you that there are many steps that a parent can take to ensure their children stay warm and safe this upcoming cold season.

One recommendation is to avoid heavy, bulky coats on children harnessed in their car seats; there are many articles and infographics that discuss why this is important. However, there is a hidden danger that many parents are unaware of: using car seat covers or aftermarket canopies that cover your infant’s head for a long period of time while installed in his or her car seat.

Before diving into the research and reasons why this is potentially dangerous, let’s rewind for a minute. The practical reason for a covering children is to protect them from wind, rain and snow while you transport them in and out of the vehicle. As the parent of a winter-born baby, I can tell you that I covered my child with a blanket in his infant carrier many times after strapping him in the car during our Michigan winters. My job as a CPST is to provide you with information so you can make an educated decision about keeping your child safe.

There is an increasing amount of research that discusses how car seat canopies and other coverings are potentially dangerous. A specific concern is the risk of CO2 rebreathing. During the breathing process, your body inhales oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide (CO2), maintaining a balance between these two gases. However, rebreathing CO2 can have harmful effects on the body. When an infant has soft, fluffy or loose fabric around his face, the carbon dioxide can build up around the baby’s head. Rather than breathing fresh oxygen, the baby is rebreathing the expelled CO2 (Blair, Mitchell, Heckstall-Smith and Fleming, 2008). Many babies may cry, turn their head or attempt to get out of this unsafe situation, however infants who are at-risk (i.e., preterm, respiratory concerns) may have extra difficulty notifying a caregiver they are struggling (First Candle – Rebreathing Carbon Dioxide and Suffocation as they related to SIDS, 2009).

In April 2014, Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) issued an executive statement regarding infant carrying that is applicable to car seat safety and any situation to where a child’s face might become covered and breathing could be compromised. It stated, “[C]overing a baby’s face makes it impossible to monitor a child’s breathing, in addition to putting the baby at risk for suffocation, or CO2 rebreathing.”

This does not mean that you have to expose your infant to cold weather and crippling winds when taking baby to the car in the winter. The key is to protect your child with a temporary cover. Use a receiving blanket to protect your child from the elements, but be sure to remove it once baby is secured in the vehicle. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) recommends against over-bundling and covering the face and head.

My recommendations

  • Avoid car seat canopies that strap onto the infant carrier’s handle. Parents often pull back the cover and leave the strap for convenience, but this poses a suffocation risk if the fabric accidentally falls down over the infant’s face.
  • Avoid car seat covers that zip close to a child’s face.
  • Always be aware of your infant’s airways and the car seat environment. We recommend using the “visible and kissable” phrase, which means keep your baby’s face uncovered and able to receive kisses at any given moment. This ensures that you can easily see and assess your child’s breathing while in the car seat.

Together we can ensure all babies stay warm and safe while traveling to and from the vehicle. As we know all too well, the sledding and snowman season will be here before we know it.

– Stephanie Babcock, CPST, is an IFS coordinator with the Parenting Program. She’s also the proud mommy of two boys.

Fall into autumn books

child reading book on blankets

Cropped image. Image credit: babyccinokids.

Autumn is the time of year that tickles our senses, and it’s the perfect season to enjoy with your baby. The once-green leaves come alive with rich and vivid color. The red, orange, yellow, and purple leaves hanging in the trees, fly past us in the fresh air and crunch under our feet as we walk. The brisk and chilly air makes it a perfect time to spend outdoors gathering leaves. Cider, cinnamon doughnuts, pumpkin pie, and crisp, red and green apples tantalize our taste buds like no other time of year. Bright orange pumpkins dot the fields begging to be chosen by the right child; a pumpkin’s bumps and crevices are fun for children to run their hands over. Celebrate the colors of fall, the time for gathering and giving thanks.

Of course, whether reading under a tree bursting with color or under your favorite quilt next to the fireplace, there’s nothing better than cozying up with books and reading with your child. Here are some recommended books for sharing with your baby during this special time of year.

– Lori A Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer.

Random Halloween musings

My childhood Halloween outings took place in the 1980s. Never being one particularly fond of dressing up, my costume was usually one that was handed down from a random friend of my parents or cobbled together from cast-off sporting goods. My younger brother—also not one to go out of his way for, well, anything—usually ended up dressing as whatever I’d impersonated the year before.

One such costume we both experienced was the Smurf. A typical offering of the era, this costume was composed of only two parts: a rigid, plastic Smurf-face mask secured with a flimsy elastic band around the head, and a plastic vest/shield/tunic thing upon which was a silkscreened image of a frolicking Smurf. Vision was strictly limited to what was directly ahead and respiration was limited to near-asphyxiation. Mobility was hampered by the ill-fitting tunic thing. Misery was imminent. But candy was the ultimate goal, so the misery was borne.

And speaking of candy … what was the item you most feared? You know. The one you never, ever wanted to see in the depths of your Holly Hobby pillowcase but yet somehow always ended up with in abundance? This is a trick question because there is only one right answer: Good & Plenty. There must have been some wacky individual working in his candy lab, twirling his handlebar mustache and speculating to himself: “How would young, innocent children best enjoy nasty licorice?” Encapsulating it in a chalky white substance isn’t quite icky enough so let’s make it interesting and also use some chalky pink substance! Mwahahahahaha!

Back to costumes. Kids these days experience Halloween in a much different fashion (no pun intended). Store-bought costumes are detailed, readily identifiable, and breathable! For those who want to up their game, Pinterest brings the DIY attempt to a whole new level. Of course, it’s easy to become overwhelmed simply by the sheer number of choices at hand! Basing one’s selection on price is useless, as all costumes retail for the same cost as that of a small car. Choosing based on popularity is also tricky, as manufacturers employ small armies of researchers who can pinpoint trends months in advance and use their brand knowledge to exact maximum dollars from consumer’s wallets. Thus, everything on the shelves is trendy and current. Everything is equally necessary in the eyes of the young “costumees.” What is a parent to do?

To achieve that unique, yet inexpensive, costumed visage, perhaps one should look to less current ideas for inspiration. For the right bribe incentive, I just might have a Smurf costume to lend out. Just don’t try to use a bag of Good & Plenty as a bartering tool.

– Wendy MacKenzie is a mother of four, Parenting Program volunteer, and avid licorice avoider.

The stranger things of parenting

young girl making a silly face

Cropped image. Philip Dean, Flickr. CC license.

Sure, we all know having kids changes everything. Sleep deprivation, cold food, bodily fluids and more become part of the everyday. The ho-hum.

But there are some surprises—things that I find bewildering that happen with kids. These are the Bermuda Triangle Parenting Issues.

There will be toothpaste everywhere.

I have no idea how this happens. Not only are there large clumps in the sink (at least that part makes sense), but also, it’s down the cabinets, on the floors, and once, on my husband’s comb (unbeknownst to him). My friend has to wash her shower curtain on a regular basis because of toothpaste. It’s like The Blob.

You will go through hand towels faster than Bed, Bath & Beyond on Black Friday.

Every day and sometimes more, we need a new hand towel in the bathroom. I’d like to think the kids are using it to wash their hands, but I’m not that naïve. The towel is sopping, smushy, sticky or any combination of the above. Often, toothpaste is involved. Sometimes, it’s in the toilet. Or completely missing altogether. See, Bermuda Triangle.

Food will take on strange names.

The other day, we wanted Chinese food. Knowing that the kids wouldn’t eat it, we referred to it as “Ninjago food.” It went down faster than a chubby kid on a seesaw. We also have “ground apples” (onions), “flat ravioli” (lasagna), and just about every meat is called “chicken.”

toothpaste cap on light switch

Exhibit “A”

You will find things in strange places.

For an entire week this summer, one of my darlings kept putting the hand soap on the floor in the corner of the bathroom. Purposefully. Also, see the photo, labeled “Exhibit A.” That’s just last week at my house. Yes, that’s a toothpaste cap on the light switch. *shrug*

Laundry becomes more of an adventure.

Yeah, there’s piles of laundry. But now, underwear and pants are always melded into one. Clothes are always inside out. And you will wash lots of things that aren’t clothing: LEGO, toys, bits of food (mac ‘n cheese holds up remarkably well), candy, crayons, markers, loose change and countless stickers. The inside of my dryer has several stickers that will not come off. One is Elsa. I know the cold never bothers her, but what about the heat?

But, like anything, everything becomes the new normal. I can’t tell you how often I assess for damages/potential danger, shrug and move on. Sometimes, it’s just not worth it.

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.

 

30-minute dinner:  Sheet pan balsamic-herb chicken and vegetables

sheet page chicken and vegetables

image credit: skinnytaste.com

After a long day at work, it can be hard to find the motivation to cook a healthy dinner. I find myself not wanting to cook because I’m tired and don’t have the energy to put in an enormous amount of effort for dinner. With life being so hectic for everyone, I wanted to share a quick and easy recipe that takes me 30 minutes to prepare with minimal clean-up.

This balsamic-herb chicken and vegetables recipe is a great because it only requires one pan and the most work is cutting up the vegetables. Aside from the quickness of this recipe, I enjoy it because I can use it as meal prepping for the week. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

 Sheet pan balsamic-herb chicken and vegetables

Ingredients for the chicken

  • 16 ounces boneless/skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped or ½ teaspoon dried
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the vegetables

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces, layers separated
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley chopped or 1 teaspoon dried

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment.
  2. Mix marinade for chicken by combining balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, basil, parsley and salt.
  3. Place chicken in marinade. Let chicken marinate while preparing the vegetables (the longer the better).
  4. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper, basil and parsley.
  5. Spread the vegetables onto the large sheet pan. Place the chicken within the vegetables.
  6. Roast until tender on the lower rack in the oven (about 20 minutes). Serve immediately.

Freezer-friendly tip

Let the cooked dish cool completely and then portion into freezer containers. You may freeze the meal for up to three months. When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a 325° F oven until warm (about 20 minutes).

Yield

4 servings (Serving Size: 1 piece chicken, 1 cup veggies)

Nutrition information

251 calories per serving

– Lauren Baker was a dietetic intern with Beaumont Health. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Source: http://www.skinnytaste.com/sheet-pan-balsamic-herb-chicken-and-vegetables/

So I brush her hair

brushing red hair

All of a sudden I find myself the mom of a tween. It happened in the blink of an eye. It seems like yesterday that princess dresses, tutus, and American Girl dolls were her focus; now I have a confident, responsible, independent 12-year-old girl who knows what she likes and doesn’t like. She practices with makeup, has her own sense of style, manages all of her school stuff on her own, and even does some cooking.

Sometimes I wonder if she even needs me anymore. As a mom, it’s sort of a weird place to be. I mean, I know she needs me and will for a long time, but it’s just different. We have a good relationship and are doing our best to navigate her transition to a young woman together, and I’m learning as I go.

About six months ago, I found myself really missing my girl — missing her needing me to take care of her the way she did when she was younger and not so self-sufficient. I know, I know, that may be a little irrational, but I had a moment. In my logical mind I know that this is a natural progression, but my mama-heart took over. She had just showered and was getting ready for bed, dressed in her bath robe with wet hair, and I looked up from reading and asked, “Would you like me to brush your hair?” She said yes and so I did. It felt good to do that for her, and it was nice to have some quiet time just the two of us to talk about whatever.

A few days later she asked me herself if I would do it, and since that time it’s something that has happened many times, and I love it. To think something I once took for granted — all the years of chasing her with a brush to get her wild, red hair tamed — now has become such a precious gift.

So if you, like me, have found yourself parenting a girl on the verge of becoming a young lady and you’re missing the “old days,” may I suggest that you brush her hair? It may be just the thing you are looking for to fill the void.

– Kelly Ryan, MSW, Parenting Program, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator

Who says you can’t pick your family?

bunch of kids skating on a pond

My daughter and most of her Beaumont siblings

As a parent you tell your kids never to lie. It’s one of the cardinal rules in our house that has the biggest consequences—we’re talking loss of electronics! I know, the worst punishment ever … according to my oldest, anyway. But to be truthful, we’ve been lying to her. Let me explain.

We’ve told our girls you never get to pick your family, you get what you get and don’t throw a fit. That part of it is true, but here comes the fib. The day she was born we signed up for a Beaumont Parenting Program group and on that day she wasn’t an only child anymore. She gained two brothers who excel on the ice, another who has more musical skill than any of her blood relatives. A fellow bookworm and a sister who, just like her, can dance until the streetlights come on. And lest we forget, her family is now international with a sister in England and her German transplant who moved to Germany when work called her dad back home.

6 kids with birthday cake

Celebrating “7”

They are her Beaumont Family, a hodgepodge of brothers and a sister who all may have different parents, but share common experiences that siblings only do. Birthday parties, Halloween costume competitions and even a few camping trips that show these kids pick up right where they left off from the last time they saw each other.

Heck, even the Beaumont moms go on an annual “girls weekend” that is filled with laughter, good times and relaxation … or so I’ve been told. Being a Beaumont dad, I never get an invitation! That doesn’t mean we don’t have our excitement though.

During the most recent girls weekend, one of the dads was playing basketball with his son, and what can only be described as one of the highest jumps in recorded backyard history, hit his head on the backboard suffering a serious cut.

Like any good dad, he sucked it up and went on with his weekend. But after a quick consult via a few texted photos, the injured dad decided to get medical attention. Too deep for urgent care to handle, and not knowing how long he’d be in the ER, he reached out to another dad in the group to look after his son as he went to get patched up.

Without hesitation, the other dad looked after the son and folded him into the daily family plan. That’s what’s good about having the built-in support system that the Beaumont parenting group offers—when you need someone to lend a helping hand they’re there for you.

We’re coming up on a decade of being a Beaumont Family and even though we don’t have bi-weekly meetings like we did when we started, we still get together nearly once a month to hang out, share a meal and reinforce our family bond. Next to our marriage license, the most important paper we ever signed was the one for the Beaumont Parenting Program.

And if you’re wondering, our high-flying dad had to receive seven staples to close his backyard basketball battle wound.

– Jim Pesta is a past Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.


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