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Why I’d Never Put My Baby In A Baby Bjorn Carrier

Best position for preventing hip dislocation

According to the chiropractor, this is the best position for preventing hip dislocation – your baby’s thighs are supported to the knee, with the main weight of their body on their bum, not their crotch.

I came so close to buying a Baby Bjorn baby carrier. Another mum had shown me hers and told me how easy it was to clip on and off.  It looked great … and seemed easy to use.  What mum isn’t drawn to something practical that could make her life easier?  But then, a few days later, a friend of mine sent me an article about all the baby related things which a chiropractor was recommending you don’t put your baby in.  It included things like jolly jumpers, baby walkers … and the Baby Bjorn carrier.

A week later I heard Family Chiropractor, Dr Vanessa Harrington give a public talk about baby carriers.  Part of her presentation included the  diagrams below showing which style of baby carriers could cause hip dislocation in your baby (left) and which style of carrier is safe for your baby’s developing hips (right).  Arg!  What mum wouldn’t want to avoid that!  Of course they’re not allowed to mention brand names at those events, but the style they were warning against were identical to the Baby Bjorn and Stokke carriers.  I was relieved that we’d only worn Joshi in the hugabub wrap and then the ergo baby carrier, because they were both aligned with what she was suggesting were healthy for your baby’s hips.
hip dysplasia
I must just add here, that I’ve just loved, loved, loved wearing Joshi over the last 16 months, so much so that we’ve literally only used the stroller less than 10 times since his birth.  (Yes, the expensive ‘must have’ stroller that’s currently gathering dust in our storeroom).  I’ve loved it so much I’d go so far as to say that the ergo baby carrier has been the best and most useful baby thing we’ve ever bought.  Anyway, here are a few things I learned from Dr Harrington about baby carrying which I thought would be worth sharing with you:
If Your Baby’s Under 6 Months Old, Don’t Wear Him/Her Facing Outwards: This is a message that’s made it into the news recently  –  Forward carriers put baby in danger.  Here’s why …
  • The dangling legs of a baby who’s facing outwards may stretch their developing hip joints and increase their risk of hip dysplasia.
  • When you wear your baby outwards it shifts their weight distribution from their bottom onto their crotch/testicles/pubic symphysis. Imagine how you’d feel if you were sitting with all that pressure on your privates. “The sitting bones are strong with lots of padding – designed perfectly for weight-bearing, whereas the pubic symphysis and testicles aren’t,” says Dr Harrington.
  • Outward facing has the potential to interfere with normal spinal curve development by flattening out the backward kyphotic curve.  “An absence of normal spinal curves reduces the strength and flexibility development of the spine for life; and can delay normal milestone development,” says Harrington.

One Of The Advantages Of Facing Your Baby Inwards:  Of course a really great advantage of wearing your baby facing inwards is that they can snuggle into you to seek reassurance from you and switch off from the surrounding world if they want to – something they can’t do when facing outwards.  As an adult when we’ve had enough of all the stimulation on a busy street we can just go somewhere else. Imagine how much more intense the stimulation of a busy street is for a baby and how full on it must feel for them if they’re strapped into this outward facing position they can’t get out of.  When I see babies facing outwards in a busy environment (like a busy shopping mall or street) I often wonder whether there’ll be an extra big stress-release-cry for mum and dad to deal with later.

Always Make Sure Your Baby’s Knees Are Higher Than Their Hips: Irrespective of your child’s age, avoid carriers that let their legs dangle downwards.  (I can’t help but imagine how uncomfortable I’d be being carried around like that rather than in a comfy, more natural piggy-back position).   Your baby’s support has to extend all the way from their bum, along their thighs to the back of their knees.
Get A Carrier that Gives You Good Back Support: The carriers that don’t support the back of the person carrying the baby are those where the straps are quite high on the back and where there’s not much support around the hips.  One of the reasons I’ve loved the ergo carrier is because I’ve felt that my back has been supported by its wide, think hip band.  If your carrier doesn’t support your back properly you’re likely to end up with back pain, so you really need to get a carrier that checks all the ticks for you as well as for your baby.

Why Risk It?  If you don’t wear your baby in a carrier where their knees are higher than their hips it can lead to hip problems in babies who are susceptible, ie. in babies who already have some form of instability or “clicky” hips.  Also, any hip problems caused by a baby carrier may only become noticeable once your child is walking.   Correcting hip displacement could mean years of pain and struggle, so why take the chance – get a carrier that supports your child’s hips.

Examples Of Carriers/Wraps That Meet The Healthy Hip Guidelines:

Great for newborns: Hugabub, Moby, Didymo, Ergo, Tula

Great for toddlers:  Ergo, Manduca, Beco, Tula, Pikkolo, Beco, Mei tai

Want More Info On How to Avoid Hip Displacement?  If you want to read more about how to place your baby in a baby carrier or baby sling to avoid them getting hip displacement, click here for some info from The International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

It’s Your Turn Now:  I’d LOVE to hear your tips and experience of using different baby carriers in the comments box below, as I’m certain there’s a lot more that I could learn!

Update From Baby Bjorn on 29/8/2013:  Today I received the response below from Baby Bjorn.   I was pleased to read that the new carrier they are launching this year, the Baby Carrier One, has been designed in accordance with the recommendations from The International Hip Dysplasia Institute.  Hurray!  Of course their previous models are still part of their current product range … so if a baby bjorn is your preferred choice when it comes to carriers, show your support for the positive direction they are taking by choosing their new model over their earlier ones.  

“Hello Meggan,

We got some questions from parents who have read your blog post. The way I see it, the most important thing is that parents do carry their children. As there are plenty of brands and alternatives out there it doesn’t have to be in a carrier from BabyBjörn, if you’re not happy with it. However, the medical concerns you’re referring to are not called for. Safety comes first. We would never make a baby carrier, or indeed any other baby product that would be harmful to babies.

You’re referring to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute which have plenty of material online and are experts in the field. We’ve met with them during the development of our latest Baby Carrier and we’re proud to now have this statement on our web page:

“This product has been developed reflecting the advice of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Baby Carrier One is following the recommendation of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute in order to secure an appropriate position of the baby.”

It’s a great thing that so many parents these days are carrying their babies. It’s practical, it’s a nice thing to do but we firmly believe it has many positive effects and strengthens the bond between the baby and the parent so we’re very happy that this is gaining popularity in so many countries around the world. Parents should pick a carrier they’re happy with but there’s no need to worry about BabyBjörn. 30 million babies have been carried in them until now and we hope many more will in the future.

Happy baby wearing!”

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How To Take Care Of Yourself: Sudarshan kriya and meditation for mammas and daddas

Sleeping baby = time to do kriya and meditate!

Sleeping baby = time to do kriya and meditate!

When I was 26 years old I did this course called ‘The Art of Living Breathing Part 1 Course.’  I know it sounds really naff when people say this, but it changed my life.  It really did.  When I registered for the course I didn’t realise just how much I needed it.   I’d spent so many years of my life being really busy.  I was constantly trying to fit in as much as I could.  I  guess I believed that the more I did the more fully I was living.  At the end of the day what that mostly left me with was a over-riding feeling of worn-out-ness.  (Yes, I made that word up).

On the course we learnt this breathing practice called the sudarshan kriya.  It was powerful.  I’d done many breathing techniques before and I’d been teaching yoga for a few years, but nothing I’d done came anywhere near this.  Our teacher said that if we really wanted to experience the benefits of the kriya we should practice it once a day for 30 minutes over 6 months.  I took it on.  I was really keen to see how it would affect me.   For me the benefits were huge.  I was able to get so much done in heaps less time, quite effortlessly. I was working as a freelance journalist at the time and needed to on-goingly produce a lot of articles quickly.  I’d really have to work at that, until I started incorporating the kriya into my daily routine.  Because my mind was so fresh after practicing the kriya I was able to punch those articles out in no time.  The words just flowed through me.  In fact the course had such a huge impact on me that I ended up becoming a volunteer teacher of it.

How To Get Your Kriya and Meditation Done When You Have A Newborn

For the last 12 years I’ve done the kriya at home pretty much every day. When Joshi was born I missed a few days, but was back into it within 10 days or so.   Kriya’s not something you can do while your baby’s awake and needing your attention, so the way I fitted it in initially was to do it during the day as soon as he fell asleep.  It could be any time of day, because he didn’t yet have anything that vaguely resembled a sleeping pattern.   Anyway, as soon as he’d fall asleep I’d drop what I was doing and go straight into my practice.  There was pretty much always laundry to do (when isn’t there with a baby!), dishes to wash, rooms to tidy, etc, but I knew that if I was to get it done I had to seize this small and unpredictable window of opportunity.  All the other things could be done when he was awake. Kriya couldn’t.

Of course there were times when my practice would get interrupted because he’d wake quite soon after he’d fallen asleep.  Sometimes I had to come out of my meditation really quickly to tend to him.  But I decided that I wasn’t going to complain about it.  Instead I’d practice being grateful that I at least got 10 or 20 minutes in, or whatever it was.  Better than nothing, right?

How To Get Your Kriya and Meditation Done When You Have A One Year Old

Now that Joshi’s almost a year old a lot has changed.  When he wakes up in the morning (usually around 6.15am), instead of getting a bit of extra sleep while Simon looks after Joshi, I get up, have a shower and spend the next hour doing my practice.  I do 15-20 minutes of yoga poses, 30 minutes of kriya and 10-20 minutes of sahaj samadhi meditation, (which I also learnt through the Art of Living Foundation).  When I’m done, I  look after Joshi while Simon does his.  This is what works best for us now.  It wouldn’t have worked when he was a newborn coz I was just too tired to get up at that time in the mornings.

What I often wonder is how parents cope without something like kriya in their day because this parenting journey is really demanding and you really need all the energy you can get.

Tip of the day for parents-to-belearn the sudarshan kriya and meditation now, before you become parents.

Extra tip for mammas-to-be:  learn how to do the kriya before you become pregnant because you can’t learn the it while you bub’s growing inside you.  Once you have your baby it’s so much harder to make the time to do the course.  Not that it’s not possible, just harder.  The Art of Living course is a total of about 18 hours spread over 6 consecutive sessions, so it’s a committment.  And you can’t miss any of the sessions, so you’ve got to be able to really get your head around taking it on fully. But once you’ve learnt it you’ve got one amazing tool with which to take care of your mind and body.  And I promise you, you’ll need that when you’re a parent, especially if you want to bring your best self to the family table and not your worn out, sleep-deprived self.

PS.  The Art of Living Courses are taught by volunteers in more than 150 countries, so you can do it almost anywhere in the world.  Oh, and your kids can do the Art Excel Course if they’re between 8 and 13 years old.   They’ll love it. It’s heaps of fun.

Is It Really So Bad To Call Your Child A “Good boy/girl?”

"Good boy!?"

“Good boy?”

"Good boy?!"

“Naughty boy?”

You’d think that telling your little boy or girl that they’re ‘good’ is a good thing right?  Well, since Joshua was born it’s been something I’ve consciously avoided saying to him.  I’ve never quite been able to explain why, I just felt really drawn to not using the expression.  I’ve also felt a bit weird whenever people have asked me if he’s a good boy.  I mean, what mum’s going to say her kid’s not?   I guess people are asking if your kid’s easy to look after, but even if he’s not, does that make him bad?  Course not.   I digress.

Anyway, so finally, yesterday, I came across a pretty thought-provoking article.

Written by a Sydney-based psychologist, Robin Grille, – “Rewards and Praise: The Poisoned Carrot” gave me a bit of insight into why this whole “good boy” expression has never resonated with me.  I think the article’s really worth reading if you’re a parent, or if you’re someone who spends time with a kid, but in case you’re too busy to get round to it …

7 Ideas Of Grille’s Which Really Jumped Out at Me …

  1. You wouldn’t think that the positive things you say to a child about himself or herself can be as destructive as negative labels, but there are times when this is true.
  2. Children who have grown up used to expecting praise can feel crushed and inadequate when it doesn’t come. It can dampen their perseverance.
  3. Rewards and praise condition children to seek approval;  they end up doing things to impress others rather than doing things for themselves.
  4. The more rewards we use, the more we have to use them to keep children motivated. Praise doesn’t create a personal commitment to “good” behaviour or performance, it only creates a commitment to seeking praise.
  5. Praising a child’s potential, for example, saying something like, “I just know you can do it”, “You’re getting better!”, “I know you’ve got it in you!” or “You’ll get there!” sound supportive on the surface, but don’t help them to like themselves for who they already are or to develop a healthy self-esteem. Why? – Because beneath the praise is the implication that they ‘aren’t good enough yet.’
  6. Praising a child with words like “good boy” or “good girl” makes a child feel evaluated and judged rather than supported.
  7. Praise and rewards, like flattery, can stink of our efforts to control, and lead to a loss of our child’s respect and kids, like adults, naturally recoil from being controlled.

Instead Of Praising Our Kids What Can We Do?

Grille isn’t suggesting we don’t express our delight and appreciation for our children, but suggests that appreciation is quite different from praise because it’s not manipulative in any way.  Manipulative praise happens when we do it because we want our child to repeat that  ”good” behaviour and most kids can sense our deliberate strategy.

Grille also isn’t suggesting that we hold back our love or encouragement, just that we find a way to encourage our kids without using manipulative praise. For example, instead of repetitively and regularly labelling your child as “good” you could express your appreciation of them in terms of your feelings.  This is easy to do if you use an “I” statement.  For example, if you kids shares their toys with another kid, instead of saying “Good boy for sharing your toys” you could say “Thanks for sharing with your friend, that felt good to him – and to me.”

It’s a bit of a tough one though this isn’t it, because many of us were raised using praise and rewards and often the way we were raised becomes the default position when raising our own kids. Sometimes I find myself using phrases on Joshi which were said to me as a kid, whether I like them or not.  However, Grille’s bottom line is that the more we replace praising and rewarding our kids with authentic appreciation and acknowledgment of them, the more likely we are to have a deeper connection with them.   The aim I guess, if there is one, is to help nurture children towards becoming adults who are self-motivated and who honour themselves rather than simply becoming reward addicts or crowd-pleasers.

What do you think mums, dads?  Have you got anything to say about all this?

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Do I Need To Do Anything About My Child’s Cradle Cap?

Before I removed Joshi's cradle cap ...

Before I removed Joshi’s cradle cap …

I know of mums who dealt with their kids’ cradle cap really early and others who never did anything about it. You really don’t need to do anything unless it becomes itchy and starts bleeding, (which is very rare) or if bothers you of course.

I waited until Joshi was 15 months before I did anything about his.  You couldn’t see it because it was hidden under his hair and I wasn’t bothered by it, but I reached a stage where thought it would be nice to give his skulp a spruce. So one afternoon before bath time I put some almond oil (you can also use olive oil) on his scalp and massaged it over the cradle cap.  Initially I massaged in circles using a really soft body scrub brush. When that didn’t loosen the skin I placed the flat side of a comb directly against his scalp and made small circles, using the teeth of the comb to lift the dry skin.  It worked really well. In the bath I just rinsed his hair with water. I was wondering how to get the excess oil out, but by the next day it had completely returned to normal.   Hey presto!

Another Remedy For Removing Cradle Cap:

Make a paste from bicarb and water.  Rub it into your kid’s cradle cap, but not too hard.  Leave it for the duration of bath time and then rinse it out with water.

What Is Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap is really common in babies.  It’s scaly, crusty skin, either yellow or brown in appearance, which occurs on the baby’s skulp, usually in the first three months after birth.  It’s usually not itchy and doesn’t  bother your baby, (Joshi certainly never seemed at all bothered by it) but if it is then get it seen to.

What Causes It?

Doctors don’t agree on what causes it, but there seems to be two main theories – one says it’s caused by a fungus, the other says it’s caused by the baby’s overactive sebaceous glands.

Mums, did your child have cradle cap?  Did you do anything about it?  Do you have any effective natural remedies to share?

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Feeling In The Dark Around How To Improve Your Sleep?

Feeling in the dark around how to improve your sleep

If you’re not sleeping well at night then you’re probably spending a lot of your days feeling irritable and wishing you had more energy.  It’s not rocket science and you’ve probably heard it before – but getting high-quality sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health.  So, as a parent who regularly wakes through the night to attend to your child, what can you do to reduce the debilitating feeling of having your body’s natural rhythms interrupted?  According to Dr Mercola, one thing you can do to dramatically improve the quality of your sleep is to sleep in total darkness.

Even the tiniest bit of light in your room, even just from your clock radio, can disrupt your circadian rhythms and your body’s production of melatonin and serotonin.  These small amounts of light are enough to send a signal to your brain telling it that it’s time to wake up and start preparing for action.

So here’s what Dr Mercola recommends…

  • Close your bedroom door
  • Get rid of night-lights
  • Refrain from turning on any light at all during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom
  • Cover your clock radio and
  • Cover your windows with blackout shades or drapes

I’m almost there.  I no longer turn the bedside light on when Joshi wakes in the night.  I put him on the potty and feed him in the dark.  I’ve completely stopped pressing the button on the alarm clock which lights up and shows me the time. (After all, knowing how short it’s been since his last wake only reduced my peace of mind).  All trips to the bathroom are made without turning on any lights. Basically all that’s missing is the blackout curtains.  I’m keen to get them, especially since I’ve read some really positive reviews about how they can improve your sleep.

My only hesitation is I’m wondering how practical it’s really going to be, attending to Joshi several times through the night without so much as a glimmer of moonlight.  Getting him on and off the potty without any spills could prove challenging.

Would love to hear from any of you with experience in blacking out … your room that is.

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Poo-pooing Shampoo: Do We Really Need To Use This Stuff?

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Poo-pooing shampooTwelve years ago when I was traveling around India I spent a few weeks with a group of travellers in this really beautiful, remote place. We were living in caves or tents in the middle of nowhere. For food, a couple of us would hike a few hours down to the nearest village and bring back supplies on the back of a donkey.
At that time, I’d just started becoming more aware of what goes into the products I’d been using on my body for years, such at the sodium lauryl sulfate  and other nasty chemicals that you find in so many soaps, shampoos and toothpastes … and was wondering how many of those products were really necessary for maintaining physical cleanliness and hygiene.  Also, anything you put on your skin gets absorbed straight into your system, right?  So why was I using products which had chemicals in them that I didn’t want to have in my body?   And what were all those chemicals doing to the environment once they’d washed down the plug hole?

Being in the middle of nowhere felt like the perfect opportunity to begin moving away from toxic products, starting with shampoo.  If you don’t use shampoo for some time your hair eventually regains its natural oils, (those which have been stripped from it by shampoo) and you’ll no longer need to use shampoo to maintain your hairs’ cleanliness or conditioner to make it soft.

Despite my good intentions I didn’t manage to endure the phase of having really greasy hair, (which apparently passes after about four or five weeks pf not using products on your hair), but I have, however, moved to using bicarb and apple cider vinegar recently and am in the process of weaning myself off the shampoo that I last bought from our local organic health shop.

Clearly it can be a bit of a mission to help your hair find its natural balance once you’ve embarked on the road of using hair products. So when Joshi was born I was interested to see what happens to hair when shampoo isn’t used on it from the start.  So far Joshi’s had his head shampooed once since he was born. That’s a total of once over almost 16 months … It happened at this lovely eco-friendly resort in Bali where they make their own super gentle shampoo and I thought it would be fun.  It was.

I have to say, I’m really impressed with the way his hair always looks really clean and lovely despite only using water on it… and it never gets greasy. Of course it doesn’t smell of roses or lavender or anything like that, but it smells natural and nice. I’m wondering how long it will be before we need to use something, if ever.  And if we do, I’ll definitely go straight for the baking soda and water. Who knows, maybe you never need to use products on your hair to keep it clean if you’ve not interfered with your hair’s natural self-cleaning mechanism.

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How To Help Your Toddler Sleep

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Joshi asleep on mum's dressing gown

Joshi asleep on mum’s dressing gown

I’m still in shock – Joshi (who’s 15 months old now) slept 7 hours in a row for the first time ever.  It’s probably coincidental, but that same day I started Dr Sears’s “Baby Sleep Book,” and decided to implement some of his toddlers sleep tips.

Since then our evenings have quite a different feel to them. Usually we’d do a huge evening clean-up until Joshi shows tired signs, and then take him out for a walk in the carrier until he nods off.  That night, when Simon got home from work all the lights were off, a few candles lit and the only activity was me making up a story as we paged quietly through Joshi’s ‘Autumn’ board book. Brahms’s Lullaby played continuously in the background for over an hour that night. And then, when Simon took Joshi out for their evening walk I lay my dressing gown on his bed. Hey, like I say, all these things could be coincidental, but Joshi slept 7 hours that night!  I’m seriously saluting Sears right now.  Thanks for the tips Doc!

A few of Dr Sears’s other tips …

1. Tire out your toddler – The more physical activity they get during the day the better they’ll sleep at night.

2.  Set consistent bedtimes – It doesn’t have to be early, just consistent, programming their internal sleep clock to fall asleep easily at this time.

3. Enjoy a variety of bedtime rituals – These are the soothing things you do half an hour to an hour before those tired signs manifest.  They could be different each night and different for different babies at different ages. They could include bathing, bottle or breast-feeding, back rubbing, bedtime stories or songs, bedtime prayers, wearing your baby in a sling and saying goodnight (to people, pets, toys, etc).

4. Respond to sleepy signs – These could include lying on the floor, rubbing their eyes, yawning. Make sure your toddler’s bathed, brushed his teeth and is in his pyjamas before the drowsy signs kick in.  However, if drowsy signs kick in before, don’t feel you have to do them or you might miss your 10-15 minute window of opportunity to help them drop off.

5. Enjoy bedtime stories – Read stories that you enjoy too so that you don’t mind reading them.  Read in a smooth, gentle, sleepy and monotonous voice; no excitement and exaggerated facial expressions. Read slower and more softly towards the end. Even when their eyes are closed, keep reading a bit longer.

6. Put a cuddly toy to bed with them – They could tuck their toy in and give them a kiss good night just as you do them.

7. Offer sleep cues – These could be phrases that you use repetitively in a  soothing voice, like, “time for sleepy,” “Go night night,” “Rest your eyes,” It’s ok,” etc.

8. Enlist help from a sibling – the older child could lie next to and sing to them or look at a picture book with them.

9. Make peace before bedtime – If children have been fighting or arguing, help them make up before bedtime.  If it’s been upsetting for other reasons take some time to briefly talk about it and then do something nice.

10. Water your child – Kids often ask for water at bed time.  Give them water at bath time or place a bottle of water next to their bed.

Mums and dads, any good tips to add?