City dwellers have two clear options for transportation: take the car, which, in large metropolitan areas, is both a benefit and a liability, or opt for the bus. Particularly for those looking to not own or for those who can’t afford a vehicle, taking the bus is extremely convenient – except when you’re a parent. Strollers, along with diaper bags, are large and bulky and frequently need to be folded up before you get on the bus. If you’re traveling by yourself, the baby often has to be placed on the seat first before the frame is folded. In this case, the child wakes up from a nap or, worse, may slip off if the driver won’t wait.
San Francisco, until recently, was strict about strollers being brought on public transit. As a result, drivers determined if a passenger with a stroller could come on board. From there, the parent was required to fold up the stroller.
As of March 1, change came to the San Francisco Municipal Transit Association, or “Muni” shorthand, for parents. Partially as the result of complaints but also to make the system more family friendly, a new policy went into effect.
Drivers now have to let all strollers on, unless the vehicle is a cable car. When the vehicle is not crowded, the parent can even keep the child inside the stroller, just as long as the baby is strapped in, the stroller’s wheels are blocked, and it does not block the aisle. Parents, instead of lugging their supplies up a set of stairs, can even use the lift ramp. If the vehicle happens to be crowded, the stroller can come on, just as long as it is folded. Drivers, in this regards, can ask a passenger to assist a parent with folding the frame.
Until a child is at least three years of age, diapers are a must. Although the amount used lessens over time, they’re still a considerable expense for new parents. In general, although this varies with each child, babies and children up to the toddler years tend to go through about five to six diapers per day. In the toddler years, this amount drops somewhat. Yet, over this time, parents must make a budget for this baby product, but what happens when the cost no longer fits?
As many are still hurting from the Recession that began in 2008, resources like the Diaper Bank provide free diapers to all parents that come in. Operated by the Hispanic Religious Partnership of Community Health, the organization says it stocks diapers – from floor to ceiling – but, as the result of a growing need, does find itself short. Diaper sizes 3, 4, and 5 are regularly in demand, as are unscented baby wipes and unopened containers of formula.
Not every area has such an organization, unfortunately. Because of this need, guests are advised to bring diaper cakes to baby showers. Although models and appearances vary with brands, these products make attractive centerpieces at the event and are extremely helpful afterward. Certain cakes even contain 80 to over 150 diapers, along with ribbons and many colorful baby products on the outside.
A supply from a diaper cake, unfortunately, lasts roughly 30 days at maximum, and parents may have at least 36 more months to go. In this case, as a piece on About.com suggests, parents can be economical with diapers. Specifically, look for double coupons and similar deals, or even request samples.
If you have a particular good tip for saving on diapers, what do you suggest?
So many factors influence how a baby turns out. While many are controllable, including foods a mother eats and staying away from certain medications, others aren’t. A recent international study, with results published earlier in February, points to one of these latter factors: smog, or particulate air pollution, may be associated with smaller, lower-weight babies.
The study examined data from 3 million births across the world, including on all continents except for Africa and Antarctica, and what was considered a low birth weight was any number below 5.5 pounds. What researchers found is, in areas where smog, from vehicles, power plants, and similar sources, is in higher concentrations, mothers are more likely to give birth to lower-weight babies. While the relationship is not purely cause-effect, the likelihood of smaller babies increases globally in such areas, the study found.
Regarding the results, Tracey Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, stated: “What’s significant is that these are air-pollution levels to which practically everyone in the world is commonly exposed. These microscopic particles, which are smaller than the width of a human hair, are in the air that we all breathe.”
Also as results point out, how air quality is regulated varies globally. While the U.S. tends to have stricter qualifications, expanding and urbanizing parts of Asia have yet to catch up and, as a result, may have lower air quality.
Low birth weight is the start of several health concerns for a child. While babies may not survive, those that do have a larger likelihood of developing respiratory, eye, and brain conditions. Beyond this point, once the child grows into an adult, such individuals may develop heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
When shopping around for baby products, parents, in recent years, have faced a significant conundrum. As the hazards of toxic flame retardants, added to polyurethane foam in furniture, mattresses, and even car seats, was exposed, parents have sought out alternatives. Babies sleep for 70 percent of their first year, and, because chemicals found in such furniture leak out and end up in the surrounding environment, potentially breathe in flame retardants.
Because of this and other hazards associated toxic flame retardants, also known as PBDEs, California revisited its proposed ban on such chemicals. Announced on February 8, state lawmakers revealed a plan to overturn a 1975 rule requiring such chemicals be added to furniture. While no date is set, implementation is expected to begin later in 2013 after more testing is done.
While allowing upholstery to withstand a lit cigarette for the required 12 minutes, toxic flame retardants have been associated with cancer, developmental issues in children, and fertility problems. According to a Chicago Tribune piece, furniture manufacturers are now able to add flame retardant properties without inclusion of PDBEs and other toxic chemicals. Furniture may be the primary focus, but because these chemicals are found in many baby products, mattresses, bassinets, carriers, and car seats will be affected once the ban goes into effect.
Regarding the changes, Arlene Blum, a University of California at Berkeley chemist, mentioned to the press: “Everybody will be healthier if we can have increased fire safety without toxic flame retardants.”
In the meantime, what alternatives do parents have? Retailers carrying green, eco-friendly baby products frequently offer natural and organic baby mattresses, which are made with cotton or, in some cases, rubber. Naturepedic is one of the more popular brands. All materials are Certified Organic and are able to naturally resist flames and handle leaks and accidents.
Talking about your child on social media is a very narrow tightrope to walk. For many parents, it’s now a ritual of having a child and so easy to do. But in this instance, is it better to follow the lead of other parents, many of whom post pictures of their children, or to think about it logically?
As much as adding galleries and galleries of photos is so tempting, parents, according to KSL.com piece, really ought to avoid such behavior. There’s really no single reason this is a bad idea, but the points they and NPR emphasize are as follows:
Privacy. This is huge. No matter how great your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram settings are, someone is still bound to see your child’s pictures. From here, you don’t know what happens. Not to deploy scare tactics, but what goes online stays online and has potential to end up in the hands of – or on the website of – a predator.
Respect. Facebook and other social media tools make documenting your child’s progress for the world so easy. But, have you considered how those in your circles feel? Just as you roll your eyes at the details of another drunken night out (and feel glad that those days are behind you), another adult, with children or childless, yawns at the constant updates about your child’s walking or, worse, bowel movements.
But, in this regards, there are your children. While your infant daughter or son can’t use the internet now, wait until four or five years down the line. They likely won’t be too pleased with your postings.
Modeling. It’s a fact that children take after their parents, no matter how foul the adults behave. That being said, your online habits, from screen time to posting, may soon become your children’s. Don’t want them tied to a screen? Step away from the computer or smart phone and show them that entertainment and social fulfillment can be found in other ways.
Perhaps the oddest baby product to come out in years, perfume for infants was announced by Dolce & Gabbana at the end of January. Since then, news, and scathing criticism, propagated through the internet. Forbes, however, sheds light on this item more familiar to Europeans: that is, a scent designed for infants reflects the greater demand for luxury baby items in the U.S.
Specifically, the demand grew 8.6 percent from 2000 to 2012; Forbes estimates it will grow an additional 7.6 percent by 2016. And, Dolce & Gabbana isn’t alone in creating an infant perfume. High-end brands, like Bulgari and Burberry, and low-end, Johnson & Johnson, have introduced similar items in recent years. Dolce & Gabbana claims the honey-, musk-, and citrus-infused concoction enhances a child’s natural scent.
It’s not the superfluous nature of the item that galls parent bloggers, however; it’s the health concerns, especially as both a significant amount of adults and children are allergic to fragrances, and not all chemicals are listed on the ingredients.
Explaining the product better to American audiences is Frederick Bouchardy, founder of Joya Perfumes, who spoke with Fashionista about such products. At least in Europe, he claims, these scents are designed for both parents and children – essentially as bonding. He said: “I think it’s supposed to be a shared experience–mom and child are meant to smell the same.”
Although versions for children, at least in Europe, are not always made with alcohol, Bouchardy explains additionally that plenty of baby products contain “fragrance” as an ingredient. Regardless of what you think of his platform, he’s right – and using such products is also an instance in which parents find their child to have allergies.
Baby perfume, even if it is more common in Europe, is a perplexing item. Where do you stand on it?
For all parents, hearing a child coherently utter a first word is a moment of triumph. This moment, a recent study points out, is a culmination of language understanding that starts in the womb, with the child beginning to differentiate the mother’s voice and start to understand speech.
But, although a child can understand, a communication gap exists between the parent and child from infancy into the toddler years, and frustration is present on both sides. A child appears upset or frustrated, and a parent must guess what he or she needs. In worst case scenarios, a child’s frustration escalates into a full-on tantrum.
However, American Sign Language interpreter Joseph Garcia discovered that children of deaf parents who taught their child ASL were less demanding. Thus, baby sign language was born. Although based on ASL, baby sign language differs and offers a medium for a parent and child to communicate needs. Over time, baby sign language is said to improve a child’s verbal and written communication skills and build self-esteem and confidence. A parent, meanwhile, understands a child’s specific wants and has to deal with fewer tantrums and outbursts.
Although some preschools incorporate baby sign language into the curriculum for infants and toddlers, it’s simple enough for a parent to add to his or her daily routine. As soon as a child is able to hold a gaze for a few seconds, a parent can begin adding three to five gestures, all accompanied by words.
Children, on the other hand, may not respond or seem indifferent at first. Exposed to signing around 6 or 7 months, a child may begin to pick up and start to use the gestures by 8 or 9 months. Once a parent notices a child’s responsiveness, adding a greater vocabulary of gestures and words is recommended.
For many parents, baby seats are a great opportunity to put the child down. In the process, the child naps or learns to sit up. Nevertheless, over the past year, two major baby seats were recalled, with the latest being Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘N Play Infant Sleepers.
According to a statement made by CPSC, 800,000 Fisher-Price baby seats were recalled at the beginning of January 2013. The seats were sold from September 2009 to the present.
The recall, according to the statement, is over mold. When the seats aren’t effectively cleaned frequently or when the frame is wet, mold may form below the cushions. Since the seats appeared on the market, 600 reports have been filed, and 16 children experienced respiratory issues, as well as coughing and hives. Currently, the seats are still in stores, and parents have the option of contacting the company for cleaning instructions.
Rather than take a risk with such a product, consider purchasing a new baby seat. Retailer Dada Baby Boutique carries baby seats for playing or being active, such as the Haba airplane-shaped swing, and also options for resting. Moses baskets, in this regards, are one of the more popular options.
The other baby seat recalled twice over the course of 2012 was the Bumbo. In fact, this foam baby seat that assists an infant with sitting up has been issued warnings on multiple occasions since 2007, with 4 million products recalled in the process. As a result, the Bumbo seat has experienced multiple changes. Because of fall hazards when the seat is placed on an elevated surface, a warning was added to the side of the product. Additionally, a harness was recently added to keep the child in the seat.
Postpartum depression isn’t a first-world problem; in fact, a recent piece in Voice of America shows, it affects women all over the world and across all income levels.
Nevertheless, the ability to get support, access resources, and ultimately to pull a new mother out of depression varies considerably with each region. In Ghana, the piece reveals, psychiatric services are practically nonexistent.
Yet, low-income women are particularly hit hard by this condition – which is more severe than the “baby blues,” or natural hormonal fluctuations. Specifically, postpartum depression decreases a person’s functionality and ability to take care of herself; not only does she suffer, but the health of her child is negatively affected, as well.
Postpartum depression, essentially, creates distance between the mother and child, resulting in lesser bonding and attachment between the two. Beyond an emotional level, however, the child may have his or her growth affected and experience disease because of a lack of care.
Even with the serious ramifications of postpartum depression, the condition isn’t always taken seriously. Worse, in some circles, it may be seen as a woman’s personal weakness. However, social assumptions aside, certain women are more predisposed to developing this condition than others, particularly if she has a child young (under the age of 20); has a history of depression or other mood disorders; has family members with a history of depression or mental illness; has gone through one or more stressful events; or is experiencing hormonal changes because of pregnancy or a thyroid condition.
Aside from the care factor, symptoms of postpartum depression vary, from negativity toward the child or self to worrying to suicidal thoughts. A mother, as well, may feel anxious or experience a change in sleeping patterns, among other signs. Treatment is typically administered as therapy or counseling sessions, support groups, or medication.
It’s a factor all parents can agree on: Daycare, no matter where you live, is expensive. And, the more convenient it is, the better. Nevertheless, a piece published in NewParent.com shows one startling reality: A good deal of parents aren’t familiar with their child’s daycare. In fact, a childcare center may be selected for its convenience over actual curriculum.
But, what factors actually make a good daycare? On a basic level, the daycare must follow regulations, which include obtaining a license and meeting space, child-teacher ratio, background check, and other requirements.
Nevertheless, parents should do a bit of investigation into this aspect of a daycare. As standards are regulated on a state level, not all daycare centers run background checks on their employees. In the 26 states where daycare workers must have their backgrounds screened, 10 only require comprehensive investigations – or those that go above the state level.
Beyond these standard features, curriculum is just as crucial. Is the daycare simply a child-watching service, or are educated professionals with background in early childhood development enforcing a curriculum incorporating physical, emotional, cognitive, and social stages of development? Ideally, a daycare, nursery school, or preschool program gets a child ready for the challenges of kindergarten: not just reading – often a concern of parents – but how to interact with peers, work through very basic academics, and how to handle new challenges. A high-quality preschool program, as well, keeps is parents informed throughout the process.
While research turns up information about a program, a definitive factor regarding curriculum, as well as overall atmosphere and character, is NAEYC Accreditation. Only a small amount of childcare centers fall into this category: just 6,000 to 10,000 out of 96,000 licensed facilities. Accreditation not only includes curriculum but also standards for the facility and staff.