Note from Mommypotamus: Hey guys, I’m buried in boxes right now – packing up the house for a big move! We don’t know for sure where we’ll be in two weeks, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do. In the meantime, I’ve got some GREAT stuff lined up for you! Today, Susan from Learning And Yearning - the mama behind these DIY shampoo bars - is sharing her recipe for an extra gentle bar soap that’s great for those with sensitive skin, eczema, and of course babies! Continue ReadingRead More »
1. To set back to the initial state
2. That kid on What’s Happening (oh wait, that was Rerun)Read More »
There certainly was in mine. He stalked the halls, jumped out of mini-fridges, and hid in the shadows next to the snack machine.
I’m talking about the FRESHMEN FIFTEEN, of course. Continue ReadingRead More »
Note from Mommypotamus: Today’s guest post comes from Katja of The Savory Lotus. Thank you for stopping by to share this recipe, Katja!
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were always my favorite. I loved the salty and sweet flavors together. And when Halloween came around, I would always try to trade for more Reese’s Cups.
Fast forward 20 plus years, and I still love salty and sweet together. It’s been a long time since I have had a Reese’s PB Cup, but I have been dreaming of making my own for some time now. And since chocolate seems to be too stimulating for me, I thought that having more nut butter than chocolate would be better. Here is my version:
There are no hydrogenated oils or refined sugars here like in the Reese’s version. Just wholesome, natural ingredients like almond butter, coconut oil, real celtic sea salt and honey. I adapted the recipe from my Toasted Coconut Fudge. I think you will be surprised at how EASY these are to make. And how tasty they are. I had to actually HIDE them from my family until I could find the time to take the photos for this post.
This recipe requires placing the mini muffin tin into the freezer between making the layers for a few minutes in order to get the right effect. It’s quite easy once you get started. And the mini paper liners really help. I hope you like my version of an old childhood favorite….
Nut Butter Layer:
Seems like I am not the only one who loves nut butter cups. I love to see what other folks create.
Peanut Butter Cups from Our Healthy Homestead
Inside Out Peanut Butter Cups from Oatmeal with a Fork
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups from The Sprouted Kitchen
Healthier Peanut Butter Eggs from The Detoxinista
Katja is the author of the Savory Lotus, a food and wellness blog. She focuses on REAL, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods to nourish the body and the mind, and is passionate about helping people simplify their journey to health. She questions the existing state of affairs and features well-researched information to readers feel empowered about their health and to live a more sustainable, connected life.
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When your sweet babe starting mouthing everything EXCEPT the toys you bought them for that specific purpose, you probably didn’t actually price XRF machines so that you could scan random objects for lead. Even if it was your first baby that would be just nuts.
Fortunately, we don’t live in a country where profits are regularly put before human health. As soon as the devastating health effects of bisphenol A were discovered, the U.S. banned it outright.
Oh wait, I have that mixed up. China, Malaysia, Canada and the European Union all had the sense to ban bisphenol A (BPA) for certain uses before the FDA finally caved to pressure and banned it in baby bottles and cups. (source 1, source 2)
The FDA enacted the ban without admitting BPA is harmful in any way. In their words they were just “codifying” the general trend away from BPA-infused products. According to a 2010 study, products touting a “BPA-free” label went up 577% in just the twelve months between 2009-2010!
Don’t breathe that sigh of relief yet, though. Let’s set aside for a moment that BPA is still regularly used in children’s toys, food packaging, dental fillings and a variety of other products. There’s something else going on here.
According to this article, “Now that consumers are refusing to buy BPA-containing containers manufacturers have had no choice but to oblige with seemingly bisphenol-free alternatives. Ironically, BPA is used to make Sippy Cups (and polycarbonate) shatterproof, and therefore ‘safer.’ But, instead of manufacturers actually removing the danger in BPA-free labeled products, many are capitalizing on this marketing opportunity by removing only the perception of danger, opting to substitute BPA for equally toxic members of the bisphenol chemical class.” (emphasis mine)
Yep, that’s right. There’s basically an “alphabetic soup of toxic bisphenols in consumer goods,” says this article, which goes on to list them as:
In a study conducted last year, researchers found that manufacturers are quietly replacing bisphenol A with bisphenol S (BPS) in many products. Can these products be labeled as BPA-free? Yes they can. Maybe that’s why another study conducted last year found that “Bisphenol S concentrations in urine from the citizens of 8 countries were within the same concentration ranges as Bisphenol A levels reported by the same research group in the year before.” In other words, BPA levels dropped, but almost at the exact same rate that BPS levels rose.
Other sources have confirmed that – at least in Europe – “BPA-free” baby bottles now contain BPS. (source) As far as I know U.S. manufacturers have not revealed what they’re using.
Not a lot of studies have been done, but preliminary research indicates that it may actually be WORSE than BPA! Here’s why. From the studies we have, it appears that BPS has about the same level of estrogenic activity. (source 1, source 2) So far, estrogenic activity of BPA has been linked to:
What makes BPS potentially worse is that research indicates it takes longer to biodegrade. In other words, it’s likely to stay with us longer and therefore have a more lasting effect. (source)
Recently a non-profit public interest group sued Coca-Cola on the grounds that it’s Vitamin Water product makes unwarranted health claims. To defend itself, Coca-Cola’s lawyers contended that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” (source)
So basically, their defense is that we should have known they were lying? How very reassuring.
As parents, I think a healthy dose of skepticism is needed regarding manufacturers claims. Labels can mislead, and untested chemicals are usually presumed to be safe until a mountain of evidence proves otherwise. For example, did you know that marines where once told that Agent Orange was essentially “so safe you can drink it”? (source)
No! My kids have plastic toys and I have not called manufacturers about the composition of every single one. However, I do my best avoid plastic whenever possible, opting instead for glass water bottles & food storage containers, fresh foods instead of canned items, homemade glass spray bottles for cleaning supplies, etc. And of course, I don’t rely on labels to tell me everything I need to know!
Photo credit: Monkey Mash ButtonRead More »
Every time she smiled at a stranger and they looked at me wonderingly. I wanted to explain that I wasn’t negligent . . . that my daughter had never even had a processed food, but truth is I agreed with their disapproving looks. How could I let this happen and not do anything about it?
I’m talking, of course, about my daughter’s tooth decay. Though I’ve told this story in bits and pieces, somehow I’ve never put it together in a way that shares our journey from beginning to end. Today I’m going to do just that, so let’s get started!
So, this may be an odd way to start a post on ear infections, but before we get into the nitty gritty of comfort measures and remedies, I want to take a moment to discuss one of the most common misconceptions about ear infections.
And that would be . . . the infection part! According to Dr. Allan Lieberthal, pediatrician and lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics new guidelines for diagnosing ear infections, the medical community has contributed to the “over-diagnosis of [ear] infection.” (source)
How does this happen? My good friend and former chiropractor, Dr. Haggerton, explains:
For those of you who have . . . taken your child into the pediatrician because they are hurting, acting funny, and/or pulling at their ears and the doc looked in their ears with the otoscope and said ‘Yep, it’s red, little Johnny’s got an ear infection. I’ll write you a script for an antibiotic.’
Think about that for a minute, how did the doctor know just off of the color of the tympanic membrane that your child had an infection?!?
The truth is, a red and slightly bulging tympanic membrane can be a sign that fluid is not draining well, but it’s not necessarily a sign of infection. And even if an infection is present, according to CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton most ear infections are viral in nature and won’t respond to antibiotics anyway. (source)
So what will that course of antibiotics really do to help your child? If the earache has been misdiagnosed – absolutely nothing. Or worse, it may actually – wait for it – CAUSE future ear infections! (source)
So if ear infections are over-diagnosed, what else causes earaches? According to Dr. Haggerton . . .
with children, the eustachian tube (ear canal) is not slanted down like ours as adults is. Their canal is straight across or horizontal, making it where your baby doesn’t get much help from gravity to get the fluid to drain out of the lymph nodes and the ears into the throat and out of their body. The problem comes when fluid and congestion build up in the lymph nodes in the neck and throat and cannot be moved or flushed out of the child’s body. That fluid has to go somewhere so if the fluid can’t go back ‘down’, then it will frequently back up into the child’s eustachian tube and cause fluid pressure on the back of the ear drum.
Other than the natural shape of a child’s eustachian tube, misalignments in the head/neck area, teething and/or undiagnosed food sensitivities can cause swelling that prevents drainage. (source) In these cases, the irritation will often have the same symptoms as an infection. Left untreated, fluid buildup can eventually lead to a legitimate infection, but until that point antibiotics will do no good.
Obviously, the decision making process will be different for every parent. The AAP Guidelines now state that antibiotics should not be prescribed unless there is an obvious infection – a very bulging tympanic membrane. If fluid is present some parents might insist on a swab culture to confirm it is bacterial rather than viral before considering antibiotics. If they do, chances are the earache will resolve on it’s own before the results come back. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, that may be for the best anyway. Most ear infections clear up without any treatment, so they recommend the wait-and-see approach for:
Others may choose to support the immune system naturally while focusing on comfort measures. For those that prefer to avoid Tylenol and other pain medications that may delay the healing process, here are some natural alternatives . . .
*Safety Tip* from Creative Christian Mama: “If there is any puss coming out of the ear, that means the ear drum is perforated (it tore, due to the pressure). It will heal, but DO NOT put anything at all inside an ear that is perforated.”
According to a recent study conducted by Washington State University, garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at killing bacterial strains related to foodborne illness. They also found that it often worked in a fraction of the time.
So what does this mean for ear infections? Though only certain strains were studied, I’d venture to say that this finding indicates it’s likely to be beneficial for other strains. Garlic also has proven antiviral properties, which some feel makes it a better choice than antibiotics, which only cover bacterial infections. (source)
Bonus fact: Garlic contains alliin and allinase. When a whole clove is chopped or crushed these compounds combine to form allicin, a natural anesthetic that can provide a measure of relief while garlic does it’s other magic.
You can often find garlic and mullein oil at your local health food store, but to make your own check out this post. (Note: The article mentions the possibility of adding certain essential oils to the ear drops. See the next section for thoughts on that)
Tip from Creative Christian Mama: Use a dropper to put 2 to 3 drops in the ear. (Sing a song to keep the child distracted, since they will need to lay there for 30 seconds to allow the oil to get all the way in the ear canal.) The warmth of the oil helps to reduce the pain (as does the lavender oil) and can be used once an hour. Use at least four times a day, but preferably six or more, until the child is well.
Massaging the outside of the ear and face/jaw/neck area with diluted essential oils is thought to reduce inflammation and facilitate the drainage of excess fluid. “Massage in a downward direction behind the ear on the neck and apply gentle inward pressure in front of the ear toward the cheek (about where sideburns would be).” (source)
Oils often recommended for this purpose are eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, oregano, chamomile, tea tree, and thyme. Here is a guide to diluting oils for massage purposes. Please keep in mind that some oils should not be introduced until child reaches a certain age. There’s a list at the bottom of this post which compiles the opinions of several experts.
Most resources I have come across say not to pour essential oils directly in the ear canal, but I did find one study published in the The Oxford Journal of Infectious Diseases that seems to support this practice using basil essential oil:
Essential oils (and some of their components) applied into the external ear canal are effective as treatment of experimental acute otitis media caused by S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae. Their antimicrobial spectrum indicates that they may also be effective in the treatment of acute otitis media caused by other organisms. Many essential oils have been used extensively in food, massage oils, and cosmetics and for treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions by ingestion, inhalation, and topical application . They are generally considered to be safe, natural compounds. If toxicity studies confirm the safety of microbicidal essential oil components for use in the ear, then a significant advance can be made in the treatment of acute otitis media.
According to Dr. Michael Gerber, “Vitamin A deficiency disrupts the clearing mechanism of the ear.” Adequate levels of Vitamin A have also been found to diminish serious complications in other infectious diseases, such as measles. (source)
Dr. Gerber makes a distinction between betacarotene and true Vitamin A, which is only found in animal products such as fermented cod liver oil.
The majority of our immune system is found in the digestive tract, so supporting it with beneficial bacteria supports recovery from infection. If the inflammation is due to food sensitivities it can also be beneficial in helping to moderate and even reverse those sensitivities over time.
According to Dr. Haggerton, “The lymph nodes need properly functioning muscles to contract with your baby’s head movements in order to flush out lymph fluid and congestion that pools in the area. If the bones in the top of your baby’s neck become restricted (due to birth, or any other type of physical stressor), the muscles around that area cannot contract and work correctly. If the muscles don’t contract perfectly, then the body has a hard time flushing out the fluid in the ear canals. Adjustments also boost the immune system and help the body to function optimally. Read more research on chiropractic and ear infections here.” (source)
The antiviral properties of elderberry syrup make it a favorite with those who rightly suspect that most true ear infections are viral in nature. You can often find it at the health food store or make your own.
Less is more when it comes to using colloidal silver for ear infections. Recommendations seem to hover around one to three drops – warmed before use – inserted twice a day. Holistic Squid has a great article on why it is safe but should be used sparingly.
“Use one brown or yellow onion, chopped in half. Bake it face down on the oven rack at 350 degrees until you can just start to smell the onion, and it’s just beginning to recede. You want it to be just hot enough that you won’t burn the ears – test by touching as you would formula. Have the person lie down on their back with their head supported by a pillow. Place the onions over the ears like ear muffs, and then wrap them completely using a natural cloth such as a 100% cotton towel, or 100% wool scarf. You do NOT want to have the chemical fumes from an acrylic fabric going into the ear canal. What you are doing is wrapping the top of the head, covering the onions, and then keeping it sealed by wrapping it loosely around the neck. This is why a wool scarf (if you or they are not allergic) works really well. Leave on for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until onion cools. Repeat again as needed. The theory is that the fumes from the onions – a natural cleanser – are going into the ear canal and helping to unblock them.” (source)
Whether it be via the onion cure or the measures below, warmth does wonders for getting the lymphatic fluid moving and easing the discomfort of earaches. Fill a cotton or wool sock with rice or sea salt and bake until warm. Place it on the affected ear (testing first to make sure it won’t burn) until it cools. Repeat as often as desired.
Note: Salt is my preference because it has antimicrobial properties, but it’s also a lot more expensive. For that reason, rice works just fine for us.
According to Dr. Allan Lieberthal, whom I mentioned earlier is the pediatrician and lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics new guidelines on diagnosing ear infections, the “Basic rule of thumb for parents is: Don’t call the doctor for an antibiotic unless the child has a fever over 102 degrees or severe symptoms of cough, runny nose and ear pain, . . . Instead, a parent can safely wait 48 to 72 hours, giving pain medicine as needed, and watching to see if those symptoms simply go away. If the fever rises or the cough and runny nose last for several days, that’s when the child needs to visit the doctor for a full evaluation.”
photo credit: Darwin BellRead More »
But there was never a point in my life where I said to myself, “Gee, I think I’d like one of my best friends in the world to have a rubber-gloved, front row seat while I push my baby out.”
And yet, that’s exactly what happened. My good friend Dr. Cindy attended Katie’s birth as my chiropractor, then Micah’s as my chiro and primary midwife. Just for thematic consistency I’d love for her to act as chiro, midwife and maybe birth photog with Babypotamus #3, but alas the prenatal visits would require a 12 hour trek back to our home state.
Needless to say, it was pretty hard to pick up a (virtual) phone book and start calling random midwives in our new hometown.
Now I’m not sure how this happened, but I found an AMAZING birth team on the first try! It was almost as if someone sprinkled fairy dust on my phone, which annoyed me a bit. I like to make well-researched decisions, so even though I pretty much knew after our first conversation I created this checklist to make sure I had all my bases covered.
There are several types of midwives, some which have formal education and some who do not (such as lay midwives). The most common types who have completed training for midwifery are Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM’s) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM’s). Most CNM’s practice in hospitals, while CPM’s have specific training and expertise in out-of-hospital births.
Check out their websites to read up on their overall philosophy, services offered, certifications held, what clients have to say about them, etc. If you have friends who have birthed with a midwife, have a similar birth philosophy to yours, and had a good experience ask for a recommendation. From this pool create a list of midwives you’d like to interview (usually 2-4).
It’s, um, helpful to have some questions prepared for this, which honestly I did not. Daddypotamus and I were in a house-hunting frenzy right before the interview process and I didn’t have time to prepare as thoroughly as I would have liked. Fortunately my Daphne and Jordan didn’t miss a beat and presented all the info I needed.
Here are 50 questions to get you started, plus 44 more to pick and choose from. I personally would also ask about their position on using fetoscopes instead of dopplers and sonograms. (This is just my personal preference)
Though everyone I interviewed for Babypotamus #3′s birth was well-qualified, I just **knew** after talking with Jordan of Your Birth Midwifery that I’d found my team. It wasn’t just that she was the first to mention the Weston A. Price Foundation and asked my if I’d read Food Renegade’s new book, Beautiful Babies. It wasn’t even that her partner, Daphne, graciously accepted raw milk during our interview and didn’t flinch when I had a nice cold glass myself! Those things definitely helped, but it was more of a gut thing, which is something I deeply trust when making these kinds of decisions.
If at any point your original birth plan or choice of care provider feels like it is no longer the right choice for you, give yourself permission to alter the plan! Women who were 100% gung-ho about hospital birth have switched to a midwife at 40 weeks and vice-versa. Do what you feel is in the best interest of your baby.