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March, 2009:

What to do When Your Child Fights Bedtime?

Children take up so much of our concentration day and night.  You are concerned about what they watch on TV, who they play with, where they go to Mother’s Day Out, pre-School and the list goes on and on!  But one real concern is when our children don’t readily fall asleep at night.  They fight, struggle and pitch a fit, but don’t go to sleep.  We had dreams of rocking our sweet children to sleep, humming lullabies or reading bed-time stories to bath-time clean babies.  What went wrong?                          Bed     First you need to make certain that your child is not ill.  A quick check-up with your pediatrician will set your mind at ease.  Once the Dr says they are well, look for other reasons for the night owl in your life. 

Are they eating late in the evening?  Sugary or caffeine laden foods?  Sugar and Caffeine hide in food and both work against a gentle bedtime.  Read the labels and do some research to keep the extra sugar and caffeine out of your child’s diet.  According to Neuroscience for Kids, caffeine has many names.  Look for these when reading those labels.  Look for:  3,7-dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6,-dione OR 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine .

Now that you have ruled out sugary food and caffeine, move on to setting up a regular Routine at bedtime.  Bath time needs to be calm and quiet, with warm water, not hot.  Let your child start to understand that this is a time to calm down and let go of the excitement of the day.  Set the mood with light calming music.  And most of all You need to remain CALM!  If you get frustrated, angry, wound-up and fussy,  your child learns to do the same kind of behavior.  So stay calm, use your inside voice!

Use this Bath Time to brush teeth, put on their favorite PJ’s, read a favorite story, or tell them a story and tuck them in bed with a favorite stuffed animal or doll.  Use massage and rocking to calm the child to help establish a quiet time routine.  Whatever you do, Stick to your routine.   You will both appreciate the quiet time and be ready for sleep yourself.

Now I am ready for a good night’ s sleep.  It is my hope that you and your little ones are ready too!  Good Night…

Allergies…Just Where do they Come From and How Can we Get them to GO BACK?

peanuts-rows-2x3-72Peanut Allergies have certainly been in the news lately.  Children are being diagnosed with food allergies in growing numbers, even if the figures vary depending on the source quoted.  But the Why is not always clear.  Why are  food allergies becoming more common?   Many theories have been put forth, including the latest research from the US, Israel & the United Kingdom.

Even Popular Science Magazine has looked into this problem.  A recent article, “Why are so many kids allergic to peanuts?” has several theories:

  • An overactive Immune System. Anne Muñoz-Furlong, CEO of the US Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, suggests that we have done such a good job of eliminating the threats that the immune system is supposed to manage, it is now attacking food-based allergens instead. Wow, we are washing our hands too much!

This is the so-called Hygiene Hypothesis.  In medicine, the Hygiene Hypothesis states that a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g. gut flora), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by modulating immune system development.

  • Peanuts contain several proteins not found in other foods. These proteins have a structure that can stimulate a strong immune response as Allergy specialist Dr Robert Wood from John Hopkins University. It seems roasting may change the proteins’ shape, making them an even bigger target for the immune system. Boiling does not have the same effect.
  • Previous indirect exposure to peanuts (eg. in the womb or in breast milk). Recent research tends to downplay this theory, however.
  • Videogames. Videogames?? According to Popular Science, it seems that some scientists believe the human body needs Vitamin D to help the immune system label substances as innocuous. Children who spend less time outdoors (ie playing videogames) tend to be deficient in Vitamin D, which the body needs sunlight to make, so they are more likely to have immune systems that might mislabel peanut proteins as dangerous.

So what do Parents DO?  What is Popular Science’s advice?  Parents looking to protect their kids might consider sending them outside – and not washing their hands when they come home.  Now throw the kids in a mud puddle and let them play and have fun making mud pies.   Just like me when I was a kid!  I played in the red mud of Georgia and got really dirty, only to spend time in the tub each night trying to get clean.  My poor Mother!  But I can eat peanuts!!! Yeah.

Just how “Fresh” are Air Fresheners?

Fern Tree Close-Up

Fern Tree Close-Up

Fresh is one of those terms that brings to mind, for me anyway, the smell of sheets and towels just brought in from drying on the clothes line in the back yard on a crisp day.  Now that was clean, fresh.  The towels were a bit rough and the sheets were nowhere close to silky soft, but the aroma was fresh.

Having grown up in the south where we can keep the doors and windows open,  fresh air to me has no scent per se.  The air had the scent of pine at times,  fresh dirt if the garden was being worked,  and the scent of rain when a storm was approaching.  But we did not fill our home with artificial scents that mimic “Mediterranean breezes”, whatever that means.

Today we are bombarded with ads for odor control options.  We see ads with folks sniffing the carpets and sneakers that smell “fresh” because of an air freshener being used in that home.  Scents come in different delivery systems, some are automated, so you spray, some are more passive and are released as air moves over them.

Fresh air is a big business, approaching $1.7 Billion according to some researchers.   However, studies from the University of Bristol show that scented air is not the only effect.  Some children have more diarrhea, 32% more, when air fresheners were used daily.  Adults suffer from more headaches, 10% more .  And among the most disturbing are the statistics showing women who work at home with air fresheners used daily have a 26% increased risk of depression.

So, be careful when utilizing these products.  Consider natural alternatives such a baking soda,  indoor plants, green tea, and old fashioned cleaning!  Open windows and doors when appropriate.  Let the sunshine in!   Empty the garbage frequently and clean the area with natural, green cleaners.  If you just have to have a scent in your home, bake cookies or use a simmer pot with cloves, cinnamon,  ginger, lemons and such for a natural alternative that won’t give you headaches or depression!

Stay Healthy!

Snow in the Deep South!

Mountain Snow

Mountain Snow

Wow, we had snow here yesterday and it was wonderful!  Have not had that much snow in years.  The picture is of the mountain across the road from our home.  Big pretty flakes coming down.  Really cold today so am staying healthy by taking my vitamins.   Be well!

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