Category Archives: hygiene

Why Car Seats Might Be One of the Worst Things for Kids’ Health

I absolutely hate removing my car seat from its rightful spot in the back of the car, mostly because it’s an endeavor that that usually leaves me sweating and exasperated enough to have to dial for back-up to get it back into the car correctly. I also hate it because it’s confirmation that, yes, my car seat is just as nasty, if not more so, than I had imagined.

And it’s not like I don’t try to keep it as clean as possible. I brush my kid’s car seat free from crumbs and other debris nearly every time we use it. And about once I week I probably take a rag to it to try to rub out obvious stains. But it’s when I actually get the time to do a deep clean that I start to really get grossed out. Because for as much as moms focus on  health and cleanliness for our babies, spending small fortunes on products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and immune boosting vitamins, the car seats we put our kids in day in, day out are crawling with germs.

Or at least I know mine is.

My first step in de-grubbing the car seat is always just to get the darn seat out of the car, which comes with its requisite huffing, puffing and pushing, pulling to get it free. Immediately, I remove the cover and hose it down while aggressively going at the crumbs smooshed into every corner and crevice with a hand-held scrubber brush. (Sometimes I also just throw it in the washer.)

Once the cover is hanging up drying somewhere, I move on to the actual seat. It also gets the hose and a soapy water rubdown. I’ve learned that I need to actually flip the seat upside down and spray the bottom as well to be sure it gets really clean. Why? Because sometimes stuff like this is hanging out under the seat:

Ewwwwwww!

Yes, that is a Wheat Thin stuck to some gunk that probably was milk at some point. I still don’t understand how this stuff managed to harden into a solid and adhere itself to the underside of the seat, but it did.

Next, I move on to cleaning up the back seat. Also disturbing:

Yuck!

This stuff actually required scrubbing to remove it. But it’s curious to me how much stuff ends up under the seat given how much seems to end up either in baby’s belly or all down the front of him.

And of course the door:

Not so yummy

It sort of freaks me out when I think about how many germs the typical coffee cup contains, you know, the ones that kind of hang out in people’s cubicles never getting a truly thorough washing. So, when I see this, my inner germ-a-phobe comes rushing to the surface. Can this really be healthy for our kids?

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Filed under babies, baby travel, car seats, cleaning, daily life, health, hygiene, transportation, travel

My Inner White Trash Mom

I don’t know whether it’s the fact that it’s summertime or that I’ve taken refuge at my mother’s house for the season, but I’ve started to notice that my parenting standards are slipping.

Bedtime was the first routine to go. The first couple of missed bedtimes I justified by saying to myself that we hadn’t seen my parents in awhile and we were in a new place. Things would settle down and we’d be back on our old routine. Not so much. Twice in the last week we’ve been out to dinner at baby’s bedtime. (Thankfully sans meltdowns.) Not to mention that I’m so not a co-sleeper mom and yet three times in the past week, I’ve tried to have an all-night struggle with my baby. (I have regretted that decision every time as I found myself hanging off my queen-sized bed at 4am.)

Cleanliness also has been debatable since we’ve been home. Whereas at home baby gets a bath around 5pm every afternoon, at Mimi and Grandpère’s, baths are much more fluid. (No pun intended.) We’ve been so busy that it feels like I’ve been in almost a rush to get him into bed at the end of the day, bath or not. But the other day, I found an entire lock of hair encrusted in some sort of baby food. Seriously, how did I miss that?

Yes, that is a Dorito

But I’d say where I’ve been doing the worst in recent days is in baby’s nutrition.

I consider myself totally that mom who tries to buy organic for baby, who thinks about balancing fruits and veggie servings every day, who doesn’t get more adventurous with snacks than Goldfish or an occasional Wheat Thin–two of baby’s faves.

As a total aside, I’m a big fan of HappyTot foods; love the foil pouch, random mix of flavors–seriously, spinach, pear, and mangoes?–the thicker consistency (no need to add oatmeal or rice cereal), and the fact that it includes the so-called super grain salba, which has the awesome powers of omega-3. But these days, this type of wholesome food is only a tertiary part of his diet.

This past week’s menu has been pretty much an incarnation of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. While baby’s still sucked down tons of milk and chowed on at least some of his his normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods, his appetite has been decidedly more geared toward a number of treats:

Last Thursday, baby ate French fries.

Friday, he ate a lemon wedge, a carrot with ranch dip, and part of an onion ring.

Saturday, he ate watermelon, salami, and macaroons.

Sunday, he ate soft-serve, vanilla-chocolate twist ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

Monday, he ate gingerbread cookies for breakfast and Doritos.

Tuesday, he ate barbecue-flavored pretzels, a grilled cheese, and part of an Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea).

Wednesday, he ate animal crackers.

Taking stock of his intake definitely makes me feel a bit like a white trash mom. The collective nutritional value of these menu items is darn near zero. But then part of me thinks that it’s summer at grandma’s house, so why not have a little fun and indulge. We’ll make up for it with an extra gummy vitamin or two.

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Filed under babies, co-sleeping, daily life, feeding, food, health, hygiene, infants, parenting

A Traveling Mom’s Sanity Saver

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I travel long distances with baby a lot. And mostly on my own. Because I don’t usually have the luxury of an extra set of hands (or knees) to help me, I have learned to be quite disciplined when it comes to packing.

Anything that goes into one of my three bags–one suitcase (for both me and baby), which gets checked; a diaper bag that doubles as a purse and primary carry on; and a smallish, soft-sided cooler stocked with boob milk (for baby) and snacks (for me and baby). Everything that goes into my bag meets one, if not more, of the following criteria: versatile, efficient, or convenient. (And yes, I totally miss packing things that were cute, fun, or “just in case.”)

The convenience is so worth the coin

At any rate, given my self-imposed packing restrictions, I’ve fallen totally in love with Johnson’s Take Along Packs. These pre-assembled packs may not be the most economical–they run around $4 to $5 for the pack–but the convenience when traveling is so worth the extra dimes. The pack consists of five trial sized–about 1.5 oz–mini bottles of baby essentials–baby shampoo, head-to-toe wash, baby lotion, baby powder, and diaper rash relief. Granted, when we’re at home, I use other stuff than Johnson’s, but when I’m traveling it’s not worth the headache to lug all those big bottles–or worse, go through the tedium of pouring them into more travel-friendly bottles.

As a total aside, I recently found out that Hyatts dole out these little gifties to hotel guests when they request a crib (complete with sheet and light flanne blanket) in their rooms–along with a super cute long-sleeve onesie with the hotel insignia on it. How awesome is all that?

But back to the take-along packs…

The biggest criticism I have of the packs is that I’d prefer a larger packet of Desitin and a smaller amount of baby powder to what currently comes in the pack. But that might just be me; I’m not big on the powder. Other than that, the size, quantity, and mix is just right for a good 5- to 7-day trip. (I’m going to see if I can stretch it to 10 days on a single pack during my next trip; we’ll see.)

But for as much as I love these totally smart packs of baby essentials, I’m completely confused by this on the reverse side of the package:

Does anyone else see the irony in this?

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Filed under babies, baby travel, bathing, hygiene, travel

Buggin’ Out

My husband and I reached a parenting milestone this week. We were both taken down in a big way by some nasty bug or another that no doubt came from a crumb cruncher. It’s like a game of Clue to try and figure out which crumb cruncher.

Was it the wee one in the nursery with the teething toy? With everything that he touches, drops on the floor, and puts in his mouth, it wouldn’t surprise me if he picked something up that way despite all my efforts to sanitize. But he really never exhibited any symptoms more severe than the sniffles and a little cough.

Was it the nanny in the kitchen with the warmed bottle? Possibly. She has had a bit of a runny nose and a cough. And then there’s the question of the nanny’s two kids, ages 2 and 7. I know she had to go pick up her 7-year-old from school the other day because he threw up. But I saw him later that day and he seemed perfectly fine, so maybe it was that his breakfast didn’t agree with him, as his mom suspected.

Or was it a neighborhood parent in the living room with a brunch plate? I hadn’t considered this option until my husband pointed out that we had gone to a meet-and-greet brunch last weekend for a neighborhood new parents group. There were a bunch of kids there, although at the time I wasn’t looking at them as pint-size petri dishes.

While Patient Zero remains unknown, the end result is not. I started feeling bad Sunday night, so I decided to go to bed early. I went upstairs, pumped, and as I came back downstairs to put the bottles in the fridge, I had to take an emergency detour to the bathroom. I think the last time I threw up like that was Colgate Spring Party Weekend ’98 after my roommate and I tried to drink 3 bottles for $10 Andre champagne out of a two-story funnel. (True story.)

Monday morning was just painful. I had spent the whole night alternating between my face feeling like it was on fire and my teeth chattering and had a wicked headache. Fortunately, the nanny was on duty, so I pretty much handed the baby off to her like a baton in a relay race and holed myself up in my room with my computer for the day.

Just as I was starting to feel better by the late afternoon, I get a call from my husband. He wasn’t feeling well. By the time he got home, it had gone from bad to worse.

If I thought I was sick then he might as well have been on his death bed. His symptoms were like mine times 10. So bad, in fact, that he woke up this morning and said, “I dreamed I had a disease.”

“Really?” I said. “What disease?”

“TTS,” he said.

“What’s that?” I said.

“Toilet to sink,” he said.

We’re both on the mend, thankfully. But the experience was definitely eye opening. I had no idea baby germs could take down–and with such wrath and fury–two healthy adults. I always sort of thought that the parents who worried about their kids getting sick from daycare or church school or wherever else kids interact were a little on the paranoid side of things. Or, if they were getting sick all the time, a little more immune deficient or susceptible somehow. After all, in the decade plus that my husband and I have known each other, neither one of us has been remotely close to as ill as we’ve been in the past two days. But down we went. For the first time but certainly not the last, I’m sure.

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Filed under babies, daddy care, daily life, family, health, hygiene, infants, mommy care, moms, newbie parents

A Pig Pen in the Play Pen

Baby had his first play date the other day. Play might be a bit of an exaggeration. More like lie-on-a-Boppy-next-to-another-baby date. But it was fun, mostly because it was a chance for the moms to get out of the house, eat some spinach dip with pita chips, and vent.

But as the four of us moms snapped pics, laughed about how the kids looked like their dads, I had an awful realization: My kid is the dirty kid.

Look:

Mr. Un-clean

I guess I should have considered changing his outfit before the photo shoot rather than after. I didn’t realize it was so obviously bad.

Baby has always been a spitter-upper. My mom (and pretty much any other mom-like woman over the age of 60) is convinced he spits up because I give him a bottle cold. Like right-out-of-the-fridge cold. The pediatrician looked at me like I had 10 heads when I asked her if this was true. But even without doctor’s confirmation that it was indeed a motherhood myth, I knew cold milk was the unlikely root since he would spit up after nursing, too.

For whatever the reason, I can count on baby to make at least three wardrobe changes in a day because of spit up. (Diaper blow outs are another animal altogether.)

But as a mom, I have pretty much stopped noticing how nasty spitting up is. In my head, I know it’s gross, but it’s so expected now that I don’t even sweat it. I just make sure I have at least two cloths within arm’s reach at any time for mop up. And when I say cloths, I mean those flannel receiving blankets most people use to wrap up their kids; plain old burp cloths can’t really handle this kid’s volume.

My husband reminds me occasionally of how nasty it is by gagging like Vince Vaughn in the scene from the 2008 classic Four Christmases when a baby vomits on Reese Witherspoon. (As an aside, I highly recommend it for people like us who have divorced families; you’ll likely appreciate the humor more than those with unbroken families.) Here’s the clip, in case you haven’t seen it:

But it’s not until you see a picture of your kid like the one above that it really hits home. Now I worry that he’s going to evolve from the dirty baby at the play date to the dirty kid in school. God, I hope not.

But this baby is a magnet for dirt. Despite daily baths and constant trimming, it’s always a battle to keep his nails clean, for example. I mean, really, how do infants get dirt under their toenails? What’s it going to be like when he’s crawling? Do people start giving their kids multiple baths a day? That seems a little excessive.

But the one comfort I take is that he’s a boy. I don’t think many people really expect boys to stay clean very long, so maybe mine won’t look as exceptionally stained as he does today.

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Filed under babies, bathing, bottle feeding, boys, daily life, hygiene, infants, newbie parents, parenting, spit up