Sunday, February 17, 2013

Proper Car Seat Safety

Today we talk about.... car seat safety! Woo! I know I may seem to talk about subjects that are talked into the ground, but everyday is a day someone can learn something new.

Two articles have been running through my mommy Facebook world lately that are very informative on carseat safety. 11 Deadly Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making and its sequel 8 More Deadly Car Seat Mistakes is a must read and will surely get us parents thinking.

Some of the important facts of car seats are as follows:

1) The chest clip must be ON the chest, level with the arm pits. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen moms post photos of their children in car seats with the chest clip right above the buckle, sitting on their tummy. That will do nothing in the event of a car accident. Accidents don't always happen, but the point of a car seat is to protect your child should one occur.
2) The straps should be at or behind the baby's shoulders, not coming from above like an adult's seat belt.

3) The straps should be snug, and not able to be pinched. The baby's shoulders shouldn't be able to slide out of them.

4) You should not use any snow suits or heavy coats in a car seat. The safety belts are stationary and do not tighten back like adults do. The amount of strap you would have to loosen to accommodate a snow suit or heavy coat will loosen the straps too much. They may seem snug because of the large coat, but in an accident the compression of force will thrust the child against the straps, the coat will flatten, and the child can be ejected from the seat. Most car seat manuals warn against this. To keep our baby warm, my husband and I use a car seat cover that wraps OVER the already buckled in baby, and we bundle her with blankets, again, after she is strapped in and secured. She is happy and perfectly toasty! Plus, once the car is warm we can take off how ever many layers to ensure her comfort.

5) Do NOT put the car seat on top of a shopping cart. Again, most manuals warn against this, and there are usually warning printed on the seats the cart. Car seats are not manufactured to be perched on top of a cart. While there is an indent in the bottom, it is for a car seat base not a shopping cart. It is extremely dangerous, and many kids have been injured and even killed because of a car seat toppling off a cart. Place the carseat IN the cart, or use a stroller. In the even the shopping cart is not wide enough, I suggest carrying the baby or using a baby wrap/carrier.

6) It is not safe to use "after market" products in the car seat, such as strap cushions, or fluffy covers that go UNDER the child (same reason as a fluffy coat or snowsuit, compression in a collision). Most aftermarket products actually void your warranty as well, another disadvantage. Use only the head rest that came with your seat. If your baby is a newborn or small and you are worried about a floppy head, receiving blankets can be rolled and placed on either side of the baby's head between them and the seat for extra sturdiness. This is safe because it does not compromise the safety or tightness of the straps.

7) Rear face as long as you can. Most parents start to forward face the carseat around a year of age, but there are more benefits to rear facing than forward facing should you be involved in an accident. As this article from NBC news states, "When a child is placed in a rear-facing seat there is less chance of trauma to the highly vulnerable neck and head areas during the most common crashes. Arbogast notes, too, that even older children — up to age 12 — still haven’t fully developed. They — along with adult passengers — would also probably be safer sitting rear-facing. Of course, this isn’t feasible. Adults and older children won’t do it or they can’t because the car seats won’t allow it. So the question safety experts are trying to answer now is how long we can get our very youngest children to do it." And... "When I talk to parents some feel that the bigger children are more at risk for leg injuries because their legs are bunched up. But that concern has never been borne out in the data,” says Arbogast. “Besides, remember, the risks you’re trying to prevent by keeping a child rear-facing are head and spinal injuries.” Broken legs are easy fixes compared to the other injuries, she notes."

8) You should not buy used car seats. Unbeknownst to many, car seats have expiration dates, and should not be used again after involvement in an accident. You can never be sure if you buy used. A great resource on car seat safety is The Car Lady is a great resource, and in this link on reusing car seats offers some good perspective.

These are just some of the topics to hit on this subject, and as always, I encourage you to read more! I am including more links at the bottom of this post. Happy researching!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Realm of Facebook & Adulthood

People on Facebook are amusing. I am in the midst of a debate on the evils of pacifiers! PACIFIERS?! Oh noooo! I use a soothie-style binkie, and have no issues. I think you need to be careful to establish a good breastfeeding relationship before you use them (in case of nipple confusion or preference), but they can be a lifesaver for car rides and washing dishes.
Facebook is great for networking, keeping in contact, and sharing information. And like anyone else, I also use it in times when I need support or encouragement. I think that's totally okay. People contact each other more on Facebook than they do in person sometimes! And if you need someone, by all means, reach out.

But it's sad when I see adults using it to constantly complain and whine about life. I see 13, 14 year old girls doing that. Its totally normal for their age, everything in life is super dramatic. A grown women, however, posting a status about every single thing or person that bothers her or ticks her off is a bit ridiculous.

I feel at the age most wives and mothers are, you should be able to process your emotions enough on your own without having to need a social network to validate how you're feeling. If someone or something is bothering you THAT much, go to the source and deal with the situation, or if you need to talk, go to a friend or spouse.  

Where is our maturity, our dignity, our strength, that we constantly feel the need to tell Facebook (or Twitter, Tumblr, etc) our problems. Dwelling on them is negative and won't help. Many people have children on Facebook as well, what kind of example does that set? Its perfectly okay to constantly complain. In real life, if all a friend does is complain when they talk to us, we generally don't like talking to them or being around them do we? So why do we tolerate it on Facebook?

I recently took a month long challenge not to post any negative or complaining statuses. It was surprisingly hard to resist the want to post. "Ugh, have the most wretched headache today!" "Baby was up alll night, can't take this exhaustion anymore!" Or, the passive aggressive statuses pointed towards someone who, in all probability, will not see your post about them. "Some people need to learn how to drive!" "If you want to say something, say it to their face next time!"

Just yesterday I was in a debate with some people, and a friend who disagreed posted a status very obviously pointed at me. As a teenager I would have absolutely retaliated via status, but instead, this time I felt pity for her, and honestly, amusement.

I use the social networks to share pictures of my gorgeous daughter, spread awareness about my passions, share thoughts and musings, and to keep in contact with those far away. Let's rise above and be the adults we are, and keep everything civil and grown up. Its normal to need support and encouragement, as I said before, but lets not be Debbie Downers!

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Hot Topic

I’ve been mulling over writing this post for a while. The topic is quite controversial, and is a touchy subject for many. But as I have stated before, I feel the need to educate and inform others.  I will do my best to offer factual, unbiased information, and I ask that you read this post with an open mind.
Today I am writing about circumcision. For many people it’s just something you do, no big deal. But unfortunately it is a big deal, and one that quite a few people brush off without thorough research. 

Whether you have circumcised or not, I encourage you to continue reading. It is my hope to offer up some new info you may not have known before.

The common myths are that circumcision prevents UTIs and HIV, is cleaner, and prevents penile cancer. Let me begin by saying this is quite false. Males have a higher chance of developing male breast cancer than a UTI, and as with women, it can easily be treated with anitbiotics. Women, in fact, are more prone to developing breast cancer than a man to a UTI, yet we do not remove our breast buds as means of prevention. In this LINK the writer states “Moreover, penile cancer is much less prevalent in countries like Denmark, where circumcision is uncommon, compared to the United States, where between 50-60% of males are circumcised.”

For those who argue the intact penis is dirty, it is actually very easy to clean. Wipe it like a finger! In newborn to adolescent boys, the foreskin is actually fused to the penis as our nails are to our fingers. It does not retract, and it is important not to until it begins to do so on its own (which can be anytime between two and puberty, everybody is different). Simply wipe and you’re done! For the retractable penis, it’s just as easy (if not more so) to clean than the vagina, which has many creases and folds. The foreskin is actually quite clean and aids to healthy bacteria and a moist head, as our labia do for females. In fact, did you know females have a foreskin? It covers your clitoris (side note, female circumcision was legal in the US until 1997). The foreskin aids in intercourse as well. When erect, the foreskin is pulled back and the moist glans helps in lubricated sex (dryness is often a problem blamed on women and remedied by synthetic lubricant such as KY). The looser skin on the penis also aids in easier movement and stimulation during intercourse, and less friction and soreness for a female.

Another myth is that the foreskin is just skin. Actually the foreskin provides a great purpose! As this link, Functions of the Foreskin, states “Babies are born perfect. Every part of your baby’s body is there for a purpose. Every part of your baby’s body helps him grow, develop, learn, and experience our wondrous world. The foreskin is one of these special body parts. In fact, the foreskin is an important body part throughout the entire life of the male. The foreskin adds more to the penis than just increased sexual functioning and pleasure. It keeps your baby’s penis safe, warm, clean, and moist. It allows the baby’s glans (head) to complete its development normally. The glans is meant to be an internal organ, covered and protected from the outside world.”

As far as the HIV myth, the above link “Functions of the Foreskin” also says “The mucous membranes that line all body orifices are the body’s first line of immunological defense. Glands in the foreskin produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme. Lysozyme is also found in tears and mother’s milk. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, an immune system component, abound in the foreskin’s outer surface. Plasma cells in the foreskin’s mucosal lining secrete immunoglobulin’s, antibodies that defend against infection. Rigorously controlled studies have also demonstrated that the foreskin plays a protective role in shielding the rest of the penis and thus the rest of the body from the contagion of common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) encountered during sexual activity.” The entire article is quite eye opening, and I encourage you to read that as well.

Here are some common myths debunked by Intact America 

MYTH: Circumcising baby boys is a safe and harmless procedure.
FACT: Surgically removing part of a baby boy's penis causes pain, creates immediate health risks and can lead to serious complications. Risks include infection, hemorrhage, scarring, difficulty urinating, loss of part or all of the penis, and even death. Circumcision complications can and do occur in even the best clinical settings.

MYTH: Circumcision is just a little snip.
FACT: Surgical removal of the foreskin involves immobilizing the baby by strapping him face-up onto a molded plastic board. In one common method, the doctor then inserts a metal instrument under the foreskin to forcibly separate it from the glans, slits the foreskin, and inserts a circumcision device. The foreskin is crushed and then cut off. The amount of skin removed in a typical infant circumcision is the equivalent of 15 square inches in an adult male.

MYTH: Circumcision is routinely recommended and endorsed by doctors and other health professionals.
FACT: No professional medical association in the United States or anywhere else in the world recommends routine circumcision as medically necessary.

MYTH: The baby does not feel any pain during circumcision.
FACT: Circumcision is painful. Babies are sensitive to pain, just like older children and adults. The analgesics used for circumcision only decrease pain; they do not eliminate it. Further, the open wound left by the removal of the foreskin will continue to cause the baby pain and discomfort for the 7-10 days it takes to heal.

MYTH: If I don't circumcise my son, he will be ridiculed.
FACT: Times have changed and so has people's understanding of circumcision. Today, although the popularity of circumcision varies across geographical areas, nearly half of all baby boys born in the U.S. will leave the hospital intact. Most medically advanced nations do not practice child circumcision. Three quarters of the world’s men are intact.

MYTH: A boy should be circumcised to look like his father.
FACT: Children differ from their parents in many ways, including eye and hair color, body type, and (of course) size and sexual development. If a child asks why his penis looks different from that of his circumcised father (or brother), parents can say, "Daddy (or brother) had a part of his penis removed when he was a baby; now we know it’s not necessary and we decided not to let anyone do that to you."

MYTH: Routine circumcision of baby boys cannot be compared to Female Genital
FACT: Rationales offered in cultures that promote female genital cutting – hygiene, disease prevention, improved appearance of the genitalia, and social acceptance – are similar to those offered in cultures that promote male circumcision. Whatever the rationale, forced removal of healthy genital tissue from any child – male or female – is
unethical. Boys have the same right as girls to be spared this inhumane, unnecessary surgery.

MYTH: To oppose male circumcision is religious and cultural bigotry.
FACT: Many who oppose the permanent alteration of children's genitals do so because they believe in universal human rights. All children – regardless of their ethnicity or culture – have the right to be protected from bodily harm.

MYTH: Circumcising newborn baby boys produces health benefits later in life.
FACT: There is NO link between circumcision and better health.  In fact, cutting a baby boy's genitals creates immediate health risks. Circumcision also diminishes sexual pleasure later in life.

MYTH: Male circumcision helps prevent HIV.
FACT: Claims that circumcision prevents HIV have repeatedly been proven to be exaggerated or false. Only abstinence or condoms can prevent the spread of STDs.

Christians often say they are told to circumcise by the Bible. Unbeknownst to many, circumcision in Biblical times was not performed as it is today. The entire foreskin was not removed. A cut to spill blood or the slight tip was removed, and the foreskin still covered the glans of the penis.  Today’s form of circumcision was made popular by Dr. Kellogg in the Victorian age (and yes, the cereal Kellogg) as a means to prevent boys from masturbating. It was believed that circumcising would cure an array of ailments as well, which we now know is false.

For Christians, under the New Covenant covered by the blood of Christ, we are no longer called to circumcise anyway. For those who may be Jewish, this link talks about the Bris Shalom.

Another thing to consider is that most other countries in the world other than Arabic or Jewish nations, are intact and do not routinely practice circumcision at all! America does practice RIC (routine infant circumcision) as a means of “prevention” and yet we have higher rates of STDs than the countries that do not. is a wonderful website that offers many interesting views and facts on circumcision. For instance, did you know that more babies die from circumcision related injuries than from SIDS, car accidents, and drop side cribs? A lot of blood is lost during a circumcision, and it doesn’t take much blood loss to kill a baby. Take a quarter and put it in a shot glass. Put some water in it a ¼ of the way up the quarter. It takes that much blood loss to kill an infant. Shocking, isn’t it?

As this mama writes in this informative post, The Circumcision Decision - “…my son is happy, healthy and has never had a single problem whatsoever with being intact. As I’ve continued to research the subject, I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined, such as the many important functions of the foreskin and how specialized it is. It is truly so much more than a “flap of skin”.

Another thing you may not have known is that babies are strapped down to a board when circumcised. 
The foreskin (fused to the head of the penis) is ripped from the glans in preparation to cut, and there is not adequate pain relief. Nothing is strong enough to fully block the pain without being too strong for a baby's system. Many people say their babies were fine or didn’t cry, but in reality if a baby isn’t crying they most likely went into shock from the trauma. Here’s a video of an actual circumcision as an example. It can be hard to watch, but shows just want the infant goes through.

Something many people argue is that they’ve known an intact man who had issues or needed to be circumcised. In most cases, men with foreskin issues or infections were caused by forced retraction before the foreskin loosened itself. Any other issues are rare, can usually be fixed without circumcision, and are still no excuse to preventatively circumcise infants.  As mentioned earlier,  women are more likely to have breast cancer than men are to have a UTI and we do not remove our infant daughters’ breast buds as a means of prevention.

Another thing to consider is that circumcision is not covered by many insurance companies or Medicaid in many states because it is a cosmetic surgery. It is not labeled as a medically necessary surgery, that should be one clue that our country has missed. It is cosmetic, just as breast implants or a nose job would be.

Here is a quote from a very wise woman I know, Ruthie Davis –
I know this is a touchy subject for some people so please don't be offended by this as it comes from a place of love and compassion with zero judgment. Since you're having a boy I'm wondering if you've researched circumcision? Many people don't actually research and think that it's the "norm" when it's not (I think the statistic is only 32% of babies in the US are circumcised these days and it almost never even happens in other countries.) Some daddies convince mamas to do it even mama's gut instinct is to not. I have several friends who circumcised their first but then not other sons. They really regret not fully researching before "letting daddy make the decision." I have no idea if that even applies in your case, it's just so common. My husband is circumcised and our son is not (we had made that decision long before we were ever even pregnant with our oldest.) He actually wishes he had his foreskin back even though he's never had any "problems". Now that my son is here I can't imagine doing that to my sweet boy, it gives me a panicky feeling when I think about him being hurt like that. I also can't even imagine dealing with a circumcision wound on top of everything else that comes along with a new baby. Not to mention any complications that arise with breastfeeding or infection, etc. Oh man, no way.

Anyhow, I really like this article about it:, and this is a great perspective piece: Also, here's a link with a TON of informative links to articles, books, videos, etc. It's a good place to start if you haven't already watched the videos and researched:

Please know that I only aim to provide accurate information. I hope you can check the links with an open heart if keeping your boy intact is not something you have considered. I have a ton more (some very graphic) informative links if you're interested because I've researched every aspect of why anyone would even consider cutting a perfectly healthy baby. (I really like this one too

I apologize if this message seems blunt. It's just that there have been times I didn't send a message like this and the baby was cut, only then to find out that mama just didn't know and if I'd only have sent that message... "

And here's a pretty good thread from male perspectives:”

If you’re a mom who HAS circumcised, and this post has got you thinking, do not feel bad or be filled with guilt. You didn’t know. When we know better, we do better! If you are pregnant and have yet to decide what you’re going to do, please read the links provided and do some more research, and feel free to message me and ask questions if there is any topic I haven’t mentioned or covered. Another wonderful resource on circumcision is and I am providing many more links to read.

In your research I would like to warn however against sites that are in anyway affiliated with, owned by, or mention in positive light Brian Morris. He is a circumfetishest, a man sexually excited by circumcision, and has procured false studies and statistics to promote genital cutting.

I leave with this. A lot of men don’t care if they are circumcised, but that is because often they don’t know what they’re missing or haven’t had any issues. But many men ARE upset about what they’ve missed out on, and some have had some serious issues. If you are one of those men, or know a man who is disgruntled with his circumcised penis, there IS such a thing as foreskin restoration (I personally know a few men in the process of restoration), and there are currently studies being conducted on actually regrowing the foreskin.  I have provided links to resources about that as well.

I truly hope in writing this that I have not offended anyone, but have opened eyes to the tragedy that is infant circumcision. If you have stayed with me through this post, I thank you for your time and hope this information has you thinking.

If you have anyquestions, comment, or feel free to message The Crunchy Mama on Facebook