News: autism month

Pediatrician with Autism Uses Her 'Aspie' Skills to Better Care for Kids

By Gen Cohen

Doctor says her autism helps her understand her special patients in a way that no other pediatrician can.

By Rochelle Flynn, MD, FAAP via parenting.com

 

If you have a child with autism, you have probably read everything about the disorder—from articles written by other parents raising a child with autism to psychologists giving their professional opinions to people who have the disorder sharing their own experiences. And you have likely taken your child to the pediatrician for advice about childhood illnesses and parenting suggestions for your special child. In your mind, you try to coalesce all of the information from so many diverse sources as you try to figure out how to help your child to reach his or her full potential.

But what would you think if you took your child to the pediatrician and instead of the same routine advice, she is able to explain things to you that your child is likely experiencing, but may not be able to communicate? You're probably thinking, "Great, I found a pediatrician who has an autistic child, too." Nope—actually the pediatrician has autism spectrum disorder! Say what?!

The story of my diagnosis begins almost three years ago, when I was officially diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome on May 15, 2013 (later revised to "Autism Spectrum Disorder-Mild"). At the age of 42, I finally had an explanation for the decades of struggling to fit in and for the severe anxiety associated with struggling to survive in my career.

When I was a child, autism referred to the more severely affected, nonverbal children. That certainly didn't apply to me. After my diagnosis, I started reevaluating my entire life through the eyes of autism. So much now is starting to make sense. In second grade, I begged another girl to be my friend. In high school, I made a joking comment to someone and my classmates got really upset. I felt the tight grip of pressure in my chest from everyone's reaction, but I didn't understand what I had said wrong.

All my life, my "obsession" was becoming a doctor. There was a path to follow and getting into medical school was the final step to this dream coming true. The very first day stands out in my mind as the day when one of the deans approached me "out of concern" because she noticed that I "seemed more anxious than any other student." From that day on, medical school became the start of a career-long roller coaster ride of anxiety, when my personal drive and intelligence smashed full-speed into the brick wall of all of my social skills' deficits. As I fought to survive and achieve my dream, the emotional toll it took on my already-fragile self-esteem left permanent scars that to this day I struggle to overcome.

Graduating medical school should have been the realization of my lifelong dream, but the struggle to fit into a career where so much relies on social skills meant that my journey was just beginning, and every day was a new battle to survive. I started my career in pediatric emergency medicine where every day was different, and I loved the puzzle of piecing together clues and making a diagnosis. However, the high-stress environment, the tragedy of young children dying, and the physically unbearable work schedule all built up over the years. To see colleagues spend their entire careers in one place made me feel like an incredible failure as I floundered around trying to find my career niche.

My practice style focused on providing information to educate parents rather than performing unnecessary tests or giving unnecessary prescriptions. For many parents in the emergency department, however, this was the trigger for complaints because I "didn't fulfill their expectations" (that antibiotic for their child's virus, etc.). Most times, this occurred long after they left the hospital. I never suspected that anything was wrong, only later to be criticized by my supervisors. It did not matter that I did everything medically correct, only that the parent was "not satisfied." And so this pattern continued: well-meaning advice by me would result in complaints by the parent and censure by my supervisors. My brain became so conditioned by this that the grip of panic in my chest became increasingly frequent, triggered even by thinking about work. No wonder so many on the autism spectrum develop PTSD after years of this type of unconsciously triggered anxiety and the emotional scars it leaves behind.

Switching careers to general pediatrics, where I am now, was my attempt to find families who could appreciate my practice style. However, new sources of stress come from the constant daily struggle to navigate the subtleties of office policies and politics that everyone else seems to understand but often make no common sense to me.

As I am beginning to understand myself better after my diagnosis, I am also realizing that there are many great benefits to being a pediatrician with autism. I think that choosing pediatrics as my career was unconsciously due to the realization that children are very accepting. My personality traits that are considered deficits in the adult world of communication are actually strengths when dealing with a scared child. I can allow myself to get very silly with a child to get them giggling and no longer afraid of my exam. The depth of gratitude expressed by many of the parents of these children has been overwhelming and incredibly rewarding.

Another of my "Aspie" skills is being very detail-oriented. Sometimes this focus allows me to pick up a single clue that leads to a diagnosis that otherwise might have been missed. This skill is also the one that causes me the most stress, however, because it means that I am frequently one or two hours behind schedule. The more burdened I become by time-pressure (a notorious detriment to most of us with ASD), the less efficient I become. I suffer daily anxiety struggling to balance family life with the hours of paperwork and indirect patient care tasks that I still have to do during my personal time because I cannot complete them during regular work hours. Physical exhaustion and emotional guilt are my constant companions.

I do not tell most parents that I have ASD. However, when I do share this personal information with parents of children who have ASD, the sense of appreciation and acceptance is slowly beginning to give me confidence in myself as a person and as a pediatrician. I am becoming more hopeful that some of my emotional scars might eventually fade away.

This journey of personal and professional self-discovery is something that, until now, I have kept deep inside myself. However, by taking the risk of putting aside "normal professional boundaries," I hope to foster a better understanding about the struggles that all of us on the spectrum experience to some degree or other. All of my struggles to survive in a career that relies on social skills have led me to the unique position where I am able to understand my special patients in a way that no other pediatrician can. Perhaps in that realization, I have finally discovered my own special career niche.

Rochelle Caruso Flynn, MD, FAAP, started her career as a pediatrician specializing in pediatric emergency medicine, but with her husband's encouragement, Rochelle decided to make a career change to general pediatrics. Then, in May 2013, her world once again turned upside down when she was diagnosed with autism. Rather than providing relief as the explanation for many of her life's challenges, Flynn now finds herself reevaluating her entire life from this new perspective.

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10 Things Autism Parents Wish You Knew

By Gen Cohen

Read the heartfelt article below to get your autism facts straight and to learn 10 things every child with autism (and their parents) wishes you knew.

Originally shared on autism speaks

Kristi Campbell is a semi-lapsed career woman with about 18 years of marketing experience in a variety of national and global technology companies. While she does work part-time, her passion is writing and drawing stupid-looking pictures for her blog Finding Ninee, focused on finding humor and support for her special needs son. 

The word autism entered my heart as a whisper. It later entered my brain as a possibility. Later still, it entered my life. I think I knew, long before I knew.

I worried, bought a book on autism, devoured it, and then felt like that must not be what my son has. He was nothing like the boy in the book. Nothing.  ”Maybe,” I thought, “he just has a language delay.”

I waited for him to start speaking more. For him to start playing in the way that he was supposed to play. He did play though, unlike the boy in the book, so certainly, his issues were different. Less “severe?”

Never mind that he had an egg-sized bruise on his forehead for six weeks at the age of 18 months from banging his head on the floor. As quickly as that behavior started, it went away. I stopped worrying about it. I mean, it no longer existed. Sure, he ran laps around the house. But only when he was tired. Don’t all kids do that? Don’t they all twirl their hair, around and around and around, while drinking a bottle? 

I’ve mentioned before that parents and friends assured us that Tucker would catch up, and that his delays were likely due to me being at home with him as a baby.

They were wrong.

I was wrong.

I remember one day, when I looked at my son and with a fearful, time-stopping heart, I wondered whether he was deaf. He wasn’t responding to me that day. Then, I gave him a little at-home test, and he responded. I let myself believe that everything was fine. What did I know? I had no other child in the house to compare him to. He loves to snuggle, and, from what I’d read, autistic children do not. He looks at me in the eyes. Deeply. With meaning and intent. I’d already learned from Dr. Google that children with autism don’t make eye contact…

Here. Four years later. Does Tucker look like anything other than a little boy having fun in the snow?

Autism doesn't look like anything but the way it looks. It doesn't look like Rain Man. It doesn't always include hand-flapping, rocking, or issues with language. Sometimes, it does. But, sometimes, it doesn't.

Last night, I reached out to my IRL PAC tribe.

I asked them what they wish the world knew about autism and special needs and based on their feedback, I compiled this list of 10 things every child with autism (and their parents) wishes you knew:

10 Things Special Needs and Autism Parents Wish You Knew:  

  1. People don’t need to feel awkward when they’re around my son. Yeah, they may need to treat him a little differently, but I wish they wouldn’t be weirded out.
  2. Not all autism is the same.
  3. People seem to think that because my son isn’t like the one single other person they know on the spectrum, that he must not be autistic.
  4. These kids love. They need love. They are wonderful and bring enormous joy and laughter to those who love them.
  5. Knowing one child with autism doesn’t mean anything really – they’re all so different. Please don’t tell me my son doesn’t have it because he looks so different from the other kid you know on the spectrum.
  6. Kids with special needs are smart. Talented. Creative, and thoughtful. It may not be obvious all the time – their minds work differently.
  7. If my daughter is making strange noises, feel free to look. She’s just making them because she’s excited. Please don’t stand there and gape at us with your mouth hanging open.
  8. If you see my son in a grocery store, he may be head nuzzling, chewing on the corner of his shirt, or spinning. He’s anxious. I will not scold him, so please do not look at me as if I should. He can’t help how his body receives stimuli. He is trying to cope with the way his body is affected by his surroundings.
  9. From onlookers who think I am not addressing my child’s odd behaviors: I ask for a little empathy. Don’t judge. Try to understand that his environment strongly affects him.
  10. Please accept our kids the way that you assume we will accept yours.

I think I’m speaking for all of us when I say that what we really want you to know, what we’re screaming out loud, is that we, as mothers, are both terrified and brave.

Just like you.

That while our children may act differently from what you’re familiar with, they are our normals. That they’re full of emotion, fierce love, tender hearts, and hope.

Hope.

Our special needs kids are here, on purpose, and OutLoud.

Even when they’re silent.

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15 Ways For Moms and Daughters to Have More Fun Together

By Dallas Stevens

15 Ways For Moms and Daughters to Have More Fun Together



With the chaos of juggling our own schedules with our kids' calendars, it's easy for your quality time to be limited to carpool conversations and the bedtime routine. Penciling in some one-on-one time with your favorite girl may require a little extra effort, but it'll pay off in spades. Here, 15 ways to stop stressing and start making memories.

1. Ice Cream Outing

Because calories don't count when you're spending time with your favorite girl!

2. Sign Up For a Mother-Daughter Cooking Class

The weeknight dinnertime rush tends to take the fun out of cooking. Bring it back by devoting a few hours to hands-on foodie fun with your little one. Look up a cooking school in your area — you may be surprised to find how many kid-friendly classes are out there.

3. Spa Day

Source: Thinkstock

Instead of trying to squeeze in a mani-pedi while your kids are at school or during your lunch hour, schedule appointments for two after school or on a weekend afternoon. It's a fun opportunity to indulge yourselves in some girl time.

Keep reading for more great mother-daughter date ideas!

4. Farmers Market Fun

Give her a lesson in where her food comes from by taking your daughter out for a one-on-one farmers market outing. Let her have a say in your selections, and encourage her to help turn your produce picks into dinner once you're back home.

5. Play Tourist in Your Own Town

We often take for granted that our own town or city has some pretty amazing sites to see. Spend an afternoon exploring with your girl. Head off to a destination that you've always wanted to check out, or take her to one of your own favorite spots that she hasn't seen yet.

6. Get Crafty

Source: Thinkstock

Sometimes staying home is the easiest and best way to bond. If she's got siblings, plan some crafty QT during their nap time or when dad or someone else can take them out for a bit.

7. Volunteer

Source: Thinkstock

Do good while having fun by signing up to volunteer for a few hours. It's a great opportunity to learn which causes speak to your daughter and spark a conversation about the importance of giving back.

8. Invite Grandma Along

Source: Thinkstock

What's better than two generations of family fun? Inviting a third along!

9. Get Active

Depending on her age, bring your daughter along for a jog in her stroller, a side-by-side power walk, a class at the gym, or whatever other fitness fun suits your fancy.

10. A Night at the Movies

Let your little chick pick the flick, and treat yourselves to a movie date.

11. The 9-5

Source: Thinkstock

If you're a working mom, make arrangements to bring your daughter in to visit your office for the day (or, depending on her age, an hour or two). Give her a better understanding of what her mom does for a living, and spark a conversation of what she could see herself doing as an adult.

12. Day Trippers

Take advantage of a sunny weekend afternoon, and take a meandering drive down a scenic stretch near your home, either with a drivable destination in mind or just an openness for adventure!

13. Plan a Picnic

Take the experience of planning and preparing a meal together, and make it even more special by enjoying it al fresco — just the two of you.

14. Ladies Who Lunch

Source: Thinkstock

This weekend, skip brunch or lunch with your gal pals, and instead take your special little lady out for a date a deux. A one-on-one meal is a great opportunity to get her to open up on what's happening at school, in her social circle, and more.

15. Explore Nature

Source: Thinkstock

There may be a chill in the air, but don't let it slow you down. Bundle up, and hit up a local nature trail, park, or boardwalk (hot cocoa in hand, perhaps?) for some outdoor exercise and conversation.

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Some Preggers "Rules" Examined...

By Scott Morris

Really? No sushi, no lunch meat, and I can't touch kitty litter?? 

[reposted from Lucie's List] 

There are TONS of pregnancy myths and fact about what you should-- and shouldn't -- be doing during your pregnancy. Perhaps you've already been admonished by an annoying coworker about the dangers lurking inside your turkey sandwich. 
 
The truth of the matter is that the majority of miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects occur from reasons that are totally outside of your control. This will either give you comfort or totally freak you out; hopefully it's the former.
 
As it turns out, many of the rules of the pregnancy police come not from actual data or studies, but from the "why-take-a-chance" philosophy that pervades American medicine, no matter how infinitesimal the actual risk.
 
First, a biology lesson.
 

Mr. (or Ms.) Fetus

Only half of your tiny peanut is identical to your own biology (the other half belonging, of course, to your sperm-donor-of-a-husband, or boyfriend, or fiance, or one-night-stand --- no one's judging here).

Fetus: nooo, don't attack meee!!

Because of this dissimilarity, your little ball of baby cells would normally be rejected by your body's own immune system (much like with a transplanted organ). Thankfully, our immune systems have evolved to NOT attack the developing fetus.

Essentially, your whole immune system lets down its guard for the duration of your pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women are more vulnerable to nasty stuff. This also explains why you'll get every strain of cold under the moon during the 3rd trimester, even if you are normally quite healthy.

So which of the rules are justifiable and which aren't? Let's have a look at some pregnancy myths that have been debunked or confirmed.

Listeria Hysteria

Listeria is the big bad bacteria that you want to avoid during pregnancy, mainly because it can cross the placental barrier and infect the fetus, which can result in miscarriage or fetal death.

True, pregnant women are about 20 times more likely to get listeria than the non-pregnant, but EVEN SO, it is EXTREMELY rare, infecting about 50-100 per million for those with a bun in the oven (3 to 5 million without).

~ This is even less likely than your chances of dying in a plane crash (1 in 30,000). 

* For comparison's sake, 1 in 84 people die in car crashes.

It should also be noted that most listeria infections in pregnancy occur in the 3rd trimester, when suppression of Th1-mediated immunity is at its maximum.

The highest risk foods for listeria are preserved fish (lox and stuff), cheese from unpasteurized milk, and deli meats. Pate (pa-TAAAAAY). Under cooked hot dogs. Stuff like that.

Bottom line: With those kinds of odds, you should worry more about your driving and less about your turkey sandwich.

Sushi 

Most American OBs say, "No sushi for you!" However, if you look at the data, 85% of seafood illness comes from eating raw shellfish -- that's right, bivalve mollusks, namely, raw oysters and clams

If you take those out of the equation, the risk of falling ill from eating seafood is 1 in 2 million servings. [By comparison, the risk from eating chicken is 1 in 25,000.] So... can we agree that we won't eat raw oysters and clams? I mean, really? Millions of Japanese women are not wrong (and yes, with some of the best public health officials in the world, they've looked into it).

Furthermore, fish eaten in a sushi restaurant in the US is almost always flash frozen before it gets to the restaurant, so any parasites or bacteria in the fish would have been killed during the process.

Salmon-ella, ha!

Bottom line: No raw shellfish, but your salmon roll shouldn't be any more scary than your chicken sandwich.

Freddy Mercury

"You should eat lots of fish when you're pregnant." No wait... "You should avoid fish when you're pregnant."

Well, which is it?

"Between the warnings about parasites in sushi and about mercury in certain species of fish, pregnant women are being scared off fish altogether. And that's bad news, since the fatty acids in fish are the ideal nourishment for a developing baby," said Steven Shaw, a former food writer for The New York Times.

Furthermore, researchers found that greater maternal intake of omega-3 fatty acids in fish was associated with better fine motor development, more pro-social behavior, and better social development.

So is there a "too much"? All researchers can do is guess at it, but many suggest that the warnings against seafood consumption are dramatically overblown.

In fact, a study in the Seychelles [a high fish-eating population] showed no link between the children's development over their first 6 years and the levels of mercury contained in their mothers' hair during pregnancy, which is a measure of the amounts to which fetuses were exposed.

Bottom line: Common sense would tell us to limit consumption of fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (sorry, no shark for you this week [snort]). 

The Truth About Kitty Litter

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite whose only natural host is the cat. Reeeer.

The truth is if you've had an indoor/outdoor cat for years, your chances of being immune from a previous exposure are fairly high - perhaps as high as 90%.

Studies show... of the 10% of pregnant cat owners that are susceptible, about 2% of those are exposed to toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. Of those (now 0.2%), only 30% of the 0.2% become infected. If infected (this keeps getting better, huh?), only 30% of those are "clinically infected", meaning their newborn will be impacted in some noticeable way.

Where are we on the math? About 0.0018 (or, 1.8 in 100,000) of the fetuses of pregnant cat owners will get sick from toxoplasmosis. You can see why doctors really don't see this very often.

Should you tell your husband or partner that this really isn't a threat after all?

Hell-to-tha-NO! Let him think it's highly lethal for, like... the rest of your life (come on, you can't get drunk for the next few months, the least he can do is scoop some kitty crap, yeah?). It'll be our little secret. ;-)


Conclusion: Ladies, I'm not saying you can't get sick from things like listeria, sushi, and kitty litter. I'm just saying they're fairly unlikely (k, so don't sue me). The beauty is that everyone can decide based on their own risk tolerance. I love 'dis country!

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Connecting with Autism Spectrum Kids

By Scott Morris

Connecting With ASD Children (from Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine)
Autism_Awareness_Ribbon

Communicating and connecting with someone who has Autism can be difficult. If you have a loved on or a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder you might notice they have difficulty making eye contact, or they may withdraw into themselves or they might seem uninterested in relating to family members. As a parent these symptoms can be frustrating and heartbreaking but there are ways you can remove boundaries that this disorder has created. As part of Autism awareness month we want to help you break down the barriers of ASD.

How common is ASD? According to the CDC approximately 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder. From a study performed by the CDC about 1 in 6 children in the United Stated had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy and autism. ASD is also more common in boys.

Although ASD has no cure, there is still hope through treatment. Doctors and other health experts have learned the key on how to deal and communicate with kids with Autism.

BayCare recommends we should:

  • Be patient. Many children with ASD take longer to process information. Try slowing down your conversation to his or her speed.
  • Teach your child how to express anger without being too aggressive. Children with ASD should know they shouldn’t have to hold in their anger.
  • Be persistent yet resilient. Don’t get upset if your child does not respond to you as you’d like. Many children with ASD have trouble both showing and controlling their responses.
  • Be polite. Children with ASD respond best to positive reinforcement, so make sure to reward good behavior.
  • Ignore irritating attention-getting behavior. ASD children may act badly at times to get you to focus on them. The best way to prevent bad behavior is by ignoring it.
  • Interact through physical activity. ASD children tend to have short attention spans, especially when it comes to communicating. By letting your child run around and play outside it allows them to relax and feel calmer.
  • Be affectionate. Children with ASD just like other children need a hug every once in awhile. Often times children with ASD they have trouble showing their feelings, but they still need to know you love them.

Upcoming events for Autism: 

Tampa Bay Autism Speaks Walk 

The Tampa Bay chapter of Autism Speaks will hold this event at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. Proceeds will support Autism Speaks’ mission: To fund research and family and adult services.

 

Ro.Sham.Bo.Baby 

These adorable sunglasses for kids, like these black toddler Wayfarer sunglasses, come in a variety of colors and sizes. Designed to care for your baby or toddler’s eyes, a portion of the proceeds of these stylish specs goes to the Autism Research Institute.

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Best Baby Carriers!

By Scott Morris

Check out this best baby carrier review to find the best baby carrier for your newborn!

Reposted from Lucie's List

People have been wearing babies for centuries. We could learn a thing or two from our ancestors.

American women went away from babywearing a couple of generations ago when doctors preached that a baby who received too much love, touch, and attention would be “spoilt.”

Now we know better: babies desperately want to hear the sound of your voice and the beating of your heart. They also have a very good sense of smell; just the scent of mommy or daddy is enough to calm their nerves. In fact, one study showed that infants who were carried/worn during the day cried and fussed 43% less (overall) and 51% less in the evening hours (4 pm to midnight)1. Yes, please! Sign me up for that.

The Tula Baby Carrier

The Tula Baby Carrier

Babywearing is also a practical logistical solution: wearing your baby allows you to go about your day like a normal person.

In the early days (before your baby can sit unassisted), babywearing is the only practical way to do things like grocery shopping, where you really need your hands free to push a cart. Things like getting the mail, walking the dog, going through airport security and boarding a plane, doing housework, or navigating through a crowded street market becomes infinitely easier with a baby carrier.

Nay, downright enjoyable!

ErgoBaby Carrier

Ergobaby Carrier

 Your Lifestyle

As with strollers, there is no one carrier that is perfect for every situation, so my advice is to decidehow you will primarily use the carrier, then go from there. Meaning… will you use it for shorter periods of time, for doing things around the house, taking short walks around the neighborhood – OR – will you use it for longer periods of time, like going on long walks or hikes. Or both.

Speaking of lifestyle, excuse me while I grossly overgeneralize and stereotype people, but I really have noticed that there are two very different types of moms out there: the walkers and the drivers.

The walker is a mom who lives in a city or walkable suburb. They walk to neighborhood parks and cafes and take public transportation sometimes (or a lot). Perhaps they also go hiking, visit street markets/festivals, and generally have more of a metropolitan lifestyle. These moms greatly benefit from longer-term babywearing. (I just described all of my mommy friends in San Francisco.)

The driver is a mom who lives in the suburbs and rarely gets from A to B on foot. This mom mostly drives everywhere and her baby/toddler tends to spend most time away from home in her car seat or stroller. Perhaps this mom also has a long commute from work and doesn’t tend to leave the house again once she arrives home. These moms will be just fine with a “small baby” carrier and probably won’t need/use one after 6 months or so. (I just described all of my mommy friends in Atlanta and Tampa.)

After living in both environments, I can tell you that the needs of these two groups are very different (sorry for overgeneralizing, but it’s kinda true). (Yes, I know you can fall somewhere in the middle, just humor me.) 

Picking an Infant Carrier

Infant carriers are smaller and meant to be worn anywhere from 0-4 to 0-9 months, at which point you would switch to a larger “soft structured carrier,” which will take you well into toddlerhood.

Nesting Days

Nesting Days Newborn Carrier

You could also skip the infant carrier and go straight to a soft structured carrier to save some money – with the understanding that young babies (0-6 months) tend to get swallowed up in most SSCs.

Furthermore, many of the soft structured carriers (Ergo, for example), require the purchase of a newborn adapter in order to use it with a young baby (0-6 months). The newborn adapter is often about the same price as some of the infant carriers below, so…. you’re better off just getting an infant carrier that’s appropriate for young infants. Your choice.

Lucie's List (Meg Collins)2. Best Baby CarriersFollow On

1. Original Baby Bjorn ~ $56+

Yes, she’s wearing socks on her hands. Sue me, it was cold…

For me, this is hands-down the easiest carrier to take on and off, especially if you leave it in its semi-intact position after taking it off. In the Bjorn, your baby can face in or out, which is fab. It can also be used very early on for newbs without needing a special newborn adapter. Lucie loved facing out in the Bjorn so she could watch the world go by.

However, this is not Sweden’s finest piece of engineering… the downside for the parent is the ouch-factor: think of carrying a heavy backpack on the front of your body. This carrier exerts a great deal of pressure on the lower back and the straps tend to dig into your shoulders. This results in a condition I call “Bjorn back” or “Baby back” (you may also be stricken with Baby wrist, Baby hips and knees, or Baby shoulder — none of which are pleasant). The BabyBjorn Miracle is slightly easier on the back, but for that price? I think you can do better.

People also love to hate on the Bjorn because it’s a dreaded “crotch dangler” [drink!], which means the baby is not in an ergonomically correct position and, in theory, could develop hip dysplasia. With casual use, I don’t think this is a real issue. However, for baby’s sake, I would not wear it heavily. Speak to your doctor if you have concerns.

bjorn

Having just talked all that smack, I have to admit I LOVE the Bjorn for its easy on/off, around the house convenience. Need to throw it on to unload the dishwasher, get the mail, or tend to another child? YEP! For 0-4 months or so, this is a very handy carrier indeed. Closeted, crotch-dangling mothers around America agree. But after baby hits the 15 lb mark? Forget it, your back will be DYING. It absolutely pains me to see moms or dads carrying around older infants or even young toddlers in a goddang Bjorn. Ouch, people! It makes me want to have an impromptu baby carrier intervention.

I’m not sure I would buy one new, but if you can borrow one from a friend for the first few months, you’ll be glad you did. It’s all about options! BabyBjorn introduced a new carrier, the Baby Carrier One, named so to be “the only carrier you’ll need from birth through toddlerhood.” This is a pricey (but pretty nice!) carrier that behaves more like a traditional soft structured carrier, like the Ergo, but with the convenience of easy in and out that Bjorn is known for. Read our complete review of the BabyBjorn One.


2. Moby Wrap Original ~ $48

The Moby is the bizzaro Bjorn: difficult to get on, but a pleasure to wear. The closeness and comfort that you have with a Moby is like no other, mainly because you are literally wrapping baby to your body so you move together as one unit.

moby baby carrier

The Moby is a single, long piece of stretchy fabric that you tie around you and your baby and, like grits, is an acquired taste. It takes a bit of practice to tie it correctly, but once you do, you’ll be in love. Unlike the Bjorn, it’s great for wearing for long durations because it doesn’t cause back fatigue. Seriously though, I would never have figured out how to tie it if I had just read the manual.

I made an instructional video here:

Just remember: it takes some practice and patience. If you lack both of these qualities, see #3. The Moby is totally perfect for your 0-6 month old baby and at ~$45, it’s very affordable.

  • A lesser known, but similar wrap is the Boba Wrap. Many moms like it better because it’s more stretchy and less bulky (and cheaper!).
  • Ergobaby released the Ergobaby Wrap in March of 2014. This wrap has a built-in pocket to store all the fabric so it doesn’t drag on the ground. It’s about $80 though; almost double the price of the others. So unless someone else is buying… see my review here.

3. Baby K’tan (pronounced Ka-TAHN) ~ $50

The K’tan is the Moby without all of the intricate tying – the best of both worlds if you ask me. Your baby can face in or out (yay!), and can be carried on your hip when they get older. Unlike most other carriers, the K’tan is not one-size-fits-all. It is sized to fit the wearer (you), not your babe. Therefore, you may not be able to share it with your partner if there is a great size difference (which there usually is). This is the biggest downside.

For a video on how the K’tan compares to something like the Moby, click here.

The Baby K'Tan baby carrier

The Baby K’tan

And like the Moby, the price is right at ~$49. Score!

Notes:

  • Pay close attention to the sizing recommendations. If you are at all in-between sizes, get the smaller one. The material is quite stretchy.
  • It comes with an extra piece of fabric that you can tie around to give you extra support (more like a Moby) if you feel like you need it. Some people forget about this piece then complain it isn’t secure enough. It’s there – use it.

4. Nesting Days ~ $89+

The Nesting Days carrier is different because you wear it around your tummy, like a shaper, which makes it very secure, comfortable, and totally hands free. This carrier also gives much needed tummy support after giving birth, especially for C-section moms.


Snug as a bug

The creator of Nesting Days, Julie Arvan, is a nurse and postpartum doula who also worked in the apparel industry. With the Nesting Days carrier, she brought together the best of both worlds. The fabric’s are soft, stretchy, and completely machine washable.

This has become my go-to gift for new moms and the friends who received one can’t stop raving about it. See our demonstration video here.

Nesting Days is ‘made-to-order’ in small batches in San Francisco. Immediate delivery is $99. Pre-orders that ship in 4 to 6 weeks are $89. Sizing is based on your pre-pregnancy dress size. They run a little small, so size up when you order. Wrong size?  Nesting Days sends you the right size in a few days, and a pre-paid envelope for the return.  Made for newborns 5-18 pounds. You’re going to love going skin-to-skin!

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Beach/Pool Product Review From San Diego Family Magazine!

By Scott Morris

Beach/Pool Product Review

beach

Beach and Pool Products! Headed to the beach, pool or waterpark this summer? Check out these cool new products to make your trip easy and fun.

 

shark

 

Sharkbanz
$59; Sharkbanz.com

Sharkbanz is a new wearable that uses patented magnetic technology to interfere with sharks’ sensitive electroreceptors and deter attacks. Simple to use, store, and durably built for surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and general beach-going. Sharkbanz use no chemicals, batteries or electricity to deter sharks. The wearer just straps it on any time they’re about to head into the ocean, and they comfortably fit on children. “Easy to put on, stays on well and so far we have not had any problems with sharks so it works great!” says Gavin.

 

carryall

 

The Freezable Carryall Lunch Bag
$19.99; PackIt.com

This stylish tote is a great option for all your lunch needs. Whether it’s a big pasta salad or a hearty meal to bring to an outdoor event, this bag has the room to fit it all. The front storage pouch provides extra room for utensils or any other personal items. "I love that you can just pull it out of the freezer, throw your lunch, drinks and snacks in and head to the beach!" says Laura.

 

mad hippie

 

Mad Hippie Facial SPF
$24.99; MadHippie.com

Chemical-free and all natural 30+ facial SPF utilizes zinc oxide—the safest and most natural physical blocking agent available. Combined with naturally photoprotective oils, red raspberry seed oil, avocado oil and carrot seed oil, plus vitamin C + E + Ferulic acid, this hydrating blend offers broad-range antioxidant protection from photo-aging. "Nice and thick and not greasy at all," says Michelle. "Rubs in really well so I feel my kids are completely protected for a day at the pool."

 

 

glasses

Ro·Sham·Bo Baby's waterproof baby sunglasses
$20; roshambobaby.com
Designed specifically for babies and children’s use, abuse and love of putting things in their mouths, Ro·Sham·Bo's waterproof baby sunglasses, like these bright blue baby sunglasses, are so durable that they can be bent, stretched, pulled, stepped on (they have even been run over and survived!) and bounce right back to shape. Ro·Sham·Bo Baby shades come in baby, junior and adult sizes. They block 100% of UVA/B rays, have a shatter resistant lens and are small parts tested, so safe for babies. Full lens and damage replacement is guaranteed if lens or frames break or get damaged. "Genius! Indestructible children's sunglasses! They look great and I can throw them in our beach bag and go," says Suzanne.

 

chair

 

Nautica® Beach Chair and Umbrella
$39.99-$49.99; BedBathandBeyond.com

This stylish, lightweight beach collection from Nautica is perfect for staying cool and relaxed when at the shore. Features a 5-position beach chair and 7-foot beach umbrella. "Durable, different colors and designs to choose from and easy to carry as a backpack," says Robyn. "Perfect chair and shade for the beach or a soccer game."

 

speaker

 

Swimmer Jr Speaker
$39.99; PolkAudio.com

At the approximate size of a racquet ball, the Swimmer Jr. by Polk BOOM is Bluetooth speaker that delivers surprisingly loud, high quality sound. It is also waterproof so your teens and tots won’t have to worry about dropping it in the pool while you’re on vacation this summer- plus, it will make shower time a lot more fun. Features a celebrated flexible tail design that can be hung, looped or attached to any object such as a backpack, a belt loop, bike handlebar, etc. All you have to do is link the speaker to your smartphone via Bluetooth and the kids will be jamming in no time. "My son attaches it to his backpack so he always has a speaker with him," says Tracy.



plate

 

The Great Plate
$15; GreatPlate.net

The Great Plate is an innovative plate and cup holder in one. It is the perfect companion for every occasion, from slumber parties to popcorn and movie nights. Easily allows kids to hold both their snacks and beverage comfortably, keeping inevitable spills at bay. BPA-free, dishwasher/microwave safe, reusable and recyclable. Sold in a set of four in bright, cheerful colors. "Great for outdoor snack use and they float!" says Craig.

 

 

chill

 

Chill Factor™ Drink Bottle
$18.99; http://thechillfactor.com/drink-bottle

Stay hydrated when playing outdoors during the summer with the Chill Factor™ Drink Bottle, a color changing water bottle for both kids and adults! Simply place the water bag in the freezer prior to use, and when ready to hit the park, the trail, or the beach, pour in water or any room temperature drink. Use your hands to squeeze the water bottle and in seconds, your drink will be chilled, staying cold for up to two hours. When cool, the new hyper color function shows you how cool your bottle is. "My kids love this," says Tracy. "And they are easy to grab and take to the pool."

 

spray

 

Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 8 oz. Airless Pump
$33.99; BeyondCoastal.com

Beyond Coastal's top-rated 100% natural sunscreen provides shelter from UVA rays with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. SPF 30 effectively blocks 97% of UVB rays, which cause sunburn.  This ultimate skin care is moisturizing, water resistant and hydrates skin with aloe vera, shea butter, and vitamin C. "Easy to apply and stay on whether the kids are in the pool or at the beach," says Laura.

 

trotter

Super Soft® Water Trotter
$129.99; BedBathandBeyond.com

The kids will jump for joy with this adorable Super Soft Water Trotter pool toy. They'll have so much fun racing around the pool with this ride-on horse, featuring built-in safety handles to help kids keep their balance. Perfect for the horse crazy kid. Vinyl coated for durability. Recommended for ages 5 years and up. "This is my kids favorite pool toy!" says Ramona. "Everyone loves to play with it, regardless of age."

 

shore

Shore Jr Sandals
$39.99; us.Hi-Tec.com

Going on an adventure in the sun? Need to splash through some water? The Hi-Tec Shore JR is the perfect sandal for every kid. This sandal is constructed with a soft synthetic upper for comfort, durability and breathability. A shock cord and adjustable heel strap ensure a customized and secure fit. The EVA midsole absorbs impact for all-day comfort and a rubber outsole provides grip on any terrain, making the Shore Jr. the ultimate kid's summer sandal. Adult shoe selections also available. "Perfect for the beach or tidepooling," says Erin.

 

derby

Derby Duck
$59.99; DerbyDuckFun.com

Taking the form as a classic yellow rubber ducky with sunglasses, this 72-inch-long stylish inflatable duck is made with durable, heavy-duty vinyl and has a recessed seating area that's comfortable for lounging. It has two built-in handles on its sides, giving passengers plenty of stability as well as a convenient cup holder to keep drinks cool and fresh. The Derby Duck pool float can hold multiple people, making it the perfect way to combine relaxation and recreation in every backyard swimming pool. This Derby Duck is the perfect item to have at every pool party during the summer! For ages 6 and up. "I love the built-in cup holders," says Craig. "Great for lounging around in the pool on a hot day."

 

 

 

 

aloe

Too Cool Key West Aloe
$10; KeyWestAloe.com

Summer weather can damage and diminish skin by drying out precious moisture and nutrients. But adding back what you lose with a little spritz of hydration may be the remedy to your woes. Infused with hydrating properties from 80% of Aloe Vera and the protection of Red Algae, skin will soak up the moisture and keep it locked in for the months ahead. "Feels refreshing on my skin after a day in the sun," says Tammy.

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8 spring fashion favorites for kids (and the Best Baby Sunglasses Around)!

By Scott Morris

8 spring fashion favorites for kids


Ro·Sham·Bo Baby sunglasses
 

By Jackie McGoey

Digital Editor

Springtime is probably my favorite time of year when it comes to fashion. Kids ditch the heavy winter coats in favor of floral prints, polka dots and bright rain boots. Here’s what all the cool kids are wearing this season. Plus, a little something for mom, too!

kidpik.com

kidpik

I couldn’t have discovered kidpik.com at a better time. My daughter is totally into fashion right now and, without hesitation or prompting, would describe her style as “fabulous.” But even if your girl is more sporty, glam or modest, the beauty of kidpik is that it’s completely tailored to her. Girls (sizes 4-14) can choose which colors, patterns and styles they love to wear and within a few days, a box of clothes and shoes arrives at the door. Parents with commitment phobia will love that there’s no subscription fee, shipping is free and you only pay for what you keep. However, if you do decide to keep the whole box, you get a 30 percent discount. I’d call that pretty fabulous.

 

The average kidpik.com box retails for $75.

Umi Shoes

 

umi

Come spring, kids can’t wait to ditch the closed-toe shoes and set their piggies free. Cute sandals that are comfortable and well-made are worth their weight in gold. Add in the fact that Umi shoes are made from eco-friendly materials and genuine leather and I’m planning on my girls living in them all season long. In my house, we’re loving the Celia and Cora styles. And boys will turn heads (and still be able to play rough and tumble) in the Mason and Nolan styles.

 Umi Shoes retail for $50+.

Picklez by AC Lens glasses

picklez

As a proud member of the four-eyes club, it’s exciting to see how far eyeglasses designs have come. I think back to the bent up, wire-rimmed frames I began wearing in third grade and I cringe. Kids today are so lucky they have cooler options like the new Picklez line from AC Lens. Bright colors and fun, trendy shapes allow kids to express their personalities. They even come in non-prescription lenses for those kids who like the playful look of glasses but don’t have the medical need to wear them. Best of all, they’re super durable (a must with kids) and the scratch resistant lenses come with a protective UV coating.

 

Picklez glasses retail for $49.95.

Glitzies hair stickers

glitzies

Any fashionista will tell you that if the ‘do isn’t right, nothing is. Glitzies stick-on hair jewels add a bit of shine and shimmer to everyday hairstyles. Silver sparkles accent fishtail braids, pearls add sophisticated glam to your girl’s top knot and try cheetah-print hearts for when she’s really feeling adventurous.

 Glitzies hair stickers retail for $9.95.

ro.sham.bo baby sunglasses

roshambo2

If babies in tiny sunnies don’t make you smile, you’ve got a cold, cold heart. Beyond upping your little’s cuteness factor, Ro·Sham·Bo Baby is making sure those baby blues (or browns or greens) are protected right from the start. Their stylish kids' glasses offer 100 percent UVA and UVB protection and are light, flexible and virtually unbreakable (seriously, just check out this video). A portion of all sales benefits the Autism Research Institute in San Diego and just in case you’re not already crushing hard, the shades come in names like “Kelly Kapowski” (hot pink), “Ice Ice Baby” (bright white) and “McFly” (tomato red). Be still my ‘90s heart.

Ro·Sham·Bo Baby stylish kids' glasses and sunglasses retail for $20.

Runchkins.com

runchkins

Kids seem to grow out of clothes faster than you can blink sometimes. Runchkins--a new personal shopping service based in Chicago--promises to buy back their items once your child outgrows them. Unheard of! Here's how it works: For a nominal subscription fee, hand-picked items for girls and boys (up to age six) are delivered to your door. Choose what you love and send back what you don’t. Simple! Prices are comparable to higher-end boutiques, but keep this on your radar for the future: you can soon choose to receive gently-used items in your box, which will reduce the final cost to you significantly.

 

The average Runchkins outfit retails for $88.

Doodle Pants

doodlepants

Your kiddos will have the cutest bums in Chicago in Doodle Pants leggings. And as we’ve all seen, spring in Chicago can mean snow (really, Mother Nature?), so having a few options to keep those chunky legs warm is a good idea. The 75+ designs are fun and creative, and most importantly, they’re comfy, with extra room in the seat (perfect for cloth diapers!). If you love them, you’re in good company; celebs such as Olivia Wilde, Jessica Simpson and Jenna Dewan-Tatum do, too.

 Doodle Pants retail for $24.99+.

Skylar Luna organic loungewear

skylarluna

Nobody, kids included, wants to be uncomfortable when they’re sleeping. Skylar Luna’s short sleeve pajamas sets are perfect for warm spring nights. Wrap your kids up in softer-than-soft Turkish organic cotton as they drift off to sleep. The sets are so cozy in fact, don’t be surprised if, come morning, your kids want to stay in their jammies all day long.

 Skylar Luna organic loungewear retail for $30+.

BZees shoes

BzeesDream

Chasing after toddlers, running behind new bike riders fresh off training wheels and walking big kids to school. Face it: moms have to be on their feet a lot. BZees line of sporty footwear aims to make that time as comfortable as possible. The lightweight slip-ons, strappy sandals and wedges (my personal favorite) are made with a special air-infused outsole and free foam footbed which make you feel like you're walking on air. Say goodbye to aching feet at the end of the day. Bonus: They're machine washable!

BZees retail for $59+.

http://www.chicagoparent.com/community/momma-knows-best/blogs/spring-fashion

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