By: Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC
It’s that time of year again when the nights get shorter, the weather gets cooler and kids are back in school. For me it was an extra-special time this year as my little love monster started his first few days of junior kindergarten, insert mom cry here. Truth be told it’s an exciting and terrifying moment all at the same time. For me, I rejoice as I get a bit more time to myself and at the same time get to watch my little boy grow and flourish in his new school.
The first few weeks are a crucial time for kids as they start new routines, meet new faces, are exposed to “new germs” and experience new stresses.
I’m sure other mom’s, like myself, are worried how their little ones will manage. Will they get the dreaded never ending snotty nose & nasty cough?!
Here are a few strategies and tips on how to insure your kids are armed with their best to thrive during this fall season:
1- Come in for a spinal checkup. Having a balanced spine and nervous system is essential for anyone who is looking to function at their best. If we think about all the things kids do in a day: run, jump, fall, stumble, it’s not hard to see how their little bodies get out of balance. A chiropractic adjustment is simply about bringing more balance and movement to the body, reducing stress & tension and allowing their nervous system to function with ease. That’s it. By removing interference from the nervous system it boosts the immune system and gives your little ones more energy to fight off whatever “bugs” they are exposed to. Studies show regular chiropractic adjustments boost the immune system by as much as 200%!
2-Minimize their sugar intake. Did you know the “average” kid consumes 16 teaspoons of sugar every day….that’s more sugar than eating 4 twinkie’s (we all remember twinkie’s, right?) Sugar can cause hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating and lower the immune system. Just one teaspoon of sugar can lower your immune system for up to 5 hours!! Of course, not all sugar is evil. Fruit and starchy vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars combined with important nutrients. You might be thinking, “my kid doesn’t eat a lot of sugar.”. But remember sugar is hidden in a lot of things: breakfast cereal, yogurt, granola bars, apple sauce, fruit snacks, bbq sauce, pasta sauce, gummy vitamins and juice.
3-Wash your hands with good old soap & water. It seems simple really but it’s a great way to minimize your family’s exposure to germs. It’s become a household rule for us, whenever we come back into the house, the first thing we do before anything else, is wash our hands. If we think about what kids do, they touch anything and everything, put their hands in their mouth, eyes, ears and noses and then touch anything and everything again. Teaching our kids the importance and easy habit of washing their hands can minimize the potential of spreading “germs” to you and your loved ones.
4-Supplement with a few key vitamins. I know there is a lot of information out there and sometimes it can be overwhelming on what to give our kids. I generally stick to 3 solid supplements and make an effort to be consistent. My top 3 recommendations for children are: Vitamin D, Probiotics & Omega 3’s. Vitamin D is a must for my son and I give it to him all year round, summer included! I give him 1200 IU’s a day. Vitamin D is an extremely powerful immune system booster. I also make a point to incorporate a quality probiotic into his routine. Generally I sprinkle some in his drink every other day but if he is fighting something or if your child has taken a course of antibiotics I would recommend giving it daily. Probiotics are extremely important for immune health and more and more research shows the health of your gut determines the health of your brain! Omega 3’s are another supplement that is necessary for optimal brain function. Omega 3’s aid in the development of the brain, eyes & nerves, and our mental & emotional well-being. To get my son a source of Omega 3’s I use hemp hearts or ground flax seed and sprinkle it into various things he eats: oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods etc
Since the school year started I incorporated a product by St Francis Herb Farm called Deep Immune for Kids. It is amazing for helping boost the immune system and can often ward off or minimize any general cold symptoms ( I have been giving him a dose of this 3 times a week to give him that extra boost).
Two products I keep on hand in my cupboard are:
-Elderberry Syrup….it’s amazing for anything respiratory.
-Stodal Honey Cough Syrup….it’s a homeopathic medicine that works great to sooth a cough or sore throat.
For more information, check out Dr. Lindsay Grieve’s website and blog: www.drlindsaygrieve.com
This month we thought we would introduce you to the world of Osteopathy. Osteopathy is a non-invasive manual therapy that works on the muscles, joints and spine to enhance your body’s natural health. In other words, an osteopath will stretch your body for you, allowing the muscles and joints to move more freely.
What can it treat?
Ok, ok, we’ll be a bit more specific. Osteopathy is great at treating any and all sports related injuries as well as that chronic pain (read headache) that just doesn’t seem to go away.But beyond that osteopathy can help those things you may not think about when it comes to manual therapies. Our osteopath Marine is able to treat things such as insomnia, gastrointestinal problems and varicose veins! Definitely something to look into!
And for all you breastfeeding Moms out there- Marine has techniques that could help stimulate milk production! To me, this sounds much better than downing Domperidone and Fenugreek!So if any of this sounds like something you might need help with book with Marine today!She is available on:
Wednesdays 8:30am-12pm, 3:30pm-7pm
From the moment your child enters the world their cranium, spine and nervous system undergo trauma, starting with the birth process. A baby goes through much exertion when travelling through the birth canal and even during a C-section they are removed from their environment suddenly which can cause trauma as well. As your child matures and engages in various activities of life they will continue to experience spinal and cranial subluxations, which put massive pressure on the nervous system and the body’s ability to function properly. Early in life, these subluxations, or misalignments in the spine, can lead to a host of symptoms ranging from minor discomfort, trouble with feeding and digestion, ear infections, colic and decreased immune system function. When left untreated, these can become chronic pain and headaches and much more in adults.
Many chiropractors and other medical professionals believe that the trauma of birth can contribute to infant issues such as colic and acid reflux. An article published in “Paediatric, Maternal and Family Health” in 2009 written by Dr. Erin Ulster found that symptoms of colic and acid reflux could be resolved with chiropractic treatment. Dr Ulster notes: “These results suggest a causal link between birth trauma, upper cervical injury, and colic / acid reflux onset. Correcting the injury to the upper cervical spine (with chiropractic adjustments) appears to eliminate colic and acid reflux.”
If your infant is suffering from symptoms of colic and acid reflux a Chiropractor will assess your baby and ascertain if subluxations are causing issue for your baby. A Chiropractor focuses on misalignments in your baby’s spine that can impair your baby’s overall nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments can help to restore proper function to the nervous system allowing the body to work properly again.
Symptoms of Subluxations
Because an infant is unable to express its issues verbally, you can watch for a few signs that may indicate necessity of a chiropractic examination to determine whether a subluxation is responsible:
- If your baby is constantly tilting their head to one side
- If they seem to have restricted head movement favouring one side
- If your baby cannot sleep without disturbance every hour or two
- If your infant is unable to breastfeed or has difficulty doing so
- If your infant has difficulty breastfeeding at one breast or the other
- If your baby often arches back
- If your baby tugs on one ear lobe often
- If your baby is very gassy or difficult to soothe
- If your baby has flat spots or very prominent bumps on the skull
As your child matures there are many symptoms that can point to spinal subluxation and nervous system stress, such as:
- Recurring earaches
- Recurring sore throats
- Complaints of headaches
- Complaints of growing pains
- Clumsiness or frequent falls
- Trouble with gait
Your baby will continue to exert themselves as they progress and learn to lift their heads, sit and crawl and of course toddlers undergo daily challenges as they learn to walk falling roughly several times a day. Learning to skate, playing sports, wearing heavy back packs, and falls during play can all cause spinal subluxations or misalignments. Even normal growth and development can be an adjustment to the body. As such, it is important that children continue to have regular care throughout childhood to improve the body’s ability to deal with these stresses and develop to their greatest potential.
A visit to your Chiropractor will allow your child to undergo an assessment early in life and any misalignments can be corrected before they can cause issues into adulthood.
When it’s time to start your baby on his or her first foods, it’s an exciting but sometimes nerve-wracking time. Parents are naturally anxious about all of the new responsibilities that solid (or semi-solid) foods bring – choking hazards, allergies, and unwanted ingredients to name a few.
Many of us choose to make our own baby food, which is a fantastic idea for so many reasons! Here are just some of the benefits of creating your own personalized infant cuisine.
#1. It’s cost-effective. You can save a lot of money by purchasing and pureeing your own foods for your baby. As your very own chef, you have the ability to buy your produce in bulk and then batch your baby food. Store safely and freeze, so you have a personal supply of food that you can always count on at home. Instead of doing a jar-heavy grocery store trip, your baby food shopping will consist of trips to the market to buy plenty of fresh ingredients!
#2. It’s green. Buying your own baby food is an eco-friendly commitment on many levels. You can choose to only purchase ingredients that have been cultivated with green practices by buying pesticide-free, organic, local produce. Making your own baby food is also another way to cut down on trips to the store, consumer packaging, shopping bags and receipts. You can re-use all of your containers, or make small batches for at-home meals! Fewer packages, fewer ingredients and fewer risks make for some clean, green baby meals.
#3. It’s nutritious. You can exercise control over every single ingredient that goes into your baby food –and the simpler the better. Some baby foods contain fillers that you likely don’t want to waste time or money on feeding your infant –whether water, tapioca or other manufactured starches. This way you can ensure nothing but whole ingredients find their way into your recipes. Plus as your baby gets a little bit older, making your own purees can help you combine different ingredients and mask some of the nutrients that your picky eater might not like. Hide the taste of carrots by pureeing them with fruit, or sneak a little bit of ginger into your apple sauce. You can get creative while maintaining total nutritional integrity.
If you’re starting the transition to solids soon, make sure to stay tuned four our next Introducing Solids workshop! There’s lots you can learn about your baby’s nutritional needs and digestive system before you start this next step. Experts Aviva Allen, Registered Nutritionis, and Kristin Heins, ND, are a great pair at hosting these friendly, jam-packed sessions! Bring your little foodies, your questions, and get ready to learn.
After a chilly spring it seems summer finally made its presence known through the end of June with high temperatures, humidity and heat warnings. While we’re thrilled to welcome summertime, we’ve been reminding our followers of the importance of playing smart in the sun this season. As adults, we know to apply sunscreen with a high SPF, limit direct sun exposure, and be vigilant about signs of heat exhaustion. But it can be more difficult knowing how to protect an infant in the heat. Since babies are so temperature sensitive, some new parents are unsure about how to keep their infant at a comfortable, safe temperature.
Here are some basic guidelines for your baby during the hotter days of summer:
In the sun:
Babies have thin, sensitive skin, so sun exposure should be limited. Cover your baby’s arms and legs in light, cool clothing, and if necessary, use a natural sunscreen that’s formulated for infants and toddlers. Shade your baby with a hat and by draping a light sheet over your stroller if the sun is strong in a clear sky. Watch for clues that your baby is overheating or dehydrated. A red face and hot skin are the first signs that your infant is too warm. Symptoms and markers of dehydration include a sunken “soft spot” on your baby’s head, sleepiness, irritability, and a decrease in wet diapers. Babies don’t have a large fluid reserve and if they have diarrhea it’s easy for them to become dehydrated. Be extra careful in the hot weather!
In the air conditioning:
Remember that AC will affect your baby to a more extreme degree–just like the heat. It’s easy to overlook how chilly air conditioning can be on muggy hot days. While it’s often essential for comfort, air quality and sleep, just be mindful of how cold your home is when dressing your baby. Consider where the AC vent is in your nursery in relation to your crib, and cover babies in light layers for sleep.
Some breastfed infants may need to nurse more frequently in hot weather, but you may notice no change with your baby. Babies don’t have many adjusted dietary needs in the heat, and they get enough water in your milk supply. Make sure your toddler is replenishing fluids by keeping a sippy cup on hand at all times. At intervals in play, make sure to encourage a few sips of water. If your toddler doesn’t like to drink water, try adding frozen fruit in place of ice cubes to add some natural flavour.
Infants release sweat to cool their bodies down, but because their pores are so tiny, they’re susceptible to getting clogged. The result is heat rash, which appears as prickly little red dots, bumps or blisters on the skin. While heat rash is common and not serious, it’s a sure indicator that your baby is overheating. Heat rash isn’t typically painful but your baby may feel uncomfortable, tender or itchy. Try removing clothing in the house and letting your baby play in a diaper. A tepid bath can help to cool your baby’s skin. At bedtime a light fan is an easy way to provide a soothing breeze- just avoid aiming it directly at an infant. Heat rash should clear up fairly quickly.
Babies react to temperature changes differently, but it’s always important to remember that a small infant is much more sensitive to the heat (and cold) than an older child or toddler. Protect your baby and watch for signs that he or she is uncomfortable. Let’s make sure it’s a cool and healthy summer!
It’s overwhelming caring for a new baby, particularly with so much advice about the best health practices for newborns and infants. One of the reasons we advocate for infant chiropractic is its offer of a gentle preventative care that helps at reducing and improving such a wide range of common infant health problems. Rather than offering up another trick or treatment for a specific infant health concern, chiropractic can be a smart way to support overall development and health in your baby. Here are some of the major benefits of chiropractic care for infants and children.
Optimizing the Nervous System
It’s no secret that the importance of chiropractic has much to do with the nervous system. When the nervous system isn’t in optimal condition, its communication channels break down, affecting the health of various areas of the body. The same is true for babies- as they develop, the health of their nervous systems is critical. When the nervous system isn’t able to command the body properly, that biological communication-breakdown can result in a number of symptoms that are common in babies: colic, fussiness, poor sleep habits and difficulty breastfeeding to name a few.
Alleviating Nerve Irritation
We tend to think that babies and children are free of nerve and muscle irritation, but this isn’t always the case. Sure, many lifestyle factors accounting for nerve irritation don’t affect babies (like stress, bad posture and poor ergonomics), but emotional stressors, difficult births and use of forceps during delivery can all affect an infant’s nerves too. In fact, some studies suggest that there’s potential for nerve irritation to the baby while still in the uterus, as a result of problematic movement and positioning.
Fostering Cranial and Spinal Development
Many babies experience cranial trauma during birth as well. As a result, chiropractic care in early infancy is important to gently encourage proper growth following the physical impact of birth, and to foster healthy spinal and cranial development. Another important consideration: during the first year of your child’s life, the spine is developing faster than at any other life stage, as it shapes and lengthens by 50 percent. It’s best to make sure that your child’s spine is properly aligned and prepared for this major growth spurt.
Many parents recognize early infancy as a critically important time for a child’s development. Chiropractic care can offer a gentle, effective course of treatments to best support babies’ healthy growth by both targeting specific symptoms and optimizing overall health. For more information from Dr. Jennifer Wise about chiropractic for infants and children, check out her article on TogetherMoms.ca here.
Springtime has finally arrived and after a long, cold winter we’re all rejoicing. While the weather is still inconsistent, overall warmer temperatures mean that many people are experiencing the unwelcome return of seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies occur when your body reacts to airborne particles, most commonly pollen. At this time of year so many different things are in bloom- flowers, trees, weeds, plants- that a whole new host of spores and particles have been reintroduced into the air we breathe. For those who are allergic, these substances are met with a defensive reaction by the body. Upon contact with the allergen, allergy sufferers will experience a release of histamine as the body tries to shut out the particles that it perceives as harmful. The result is any combination of a runny nose, sinus congestion, itchy ears, nose, throat, and watery eyes. All of these symptoms are your body’s way of keeping airborne toxins out.
As adults we know to brace ourselves for allergy season, and it’s a time of year when many will reach for over-the-counter relief. As Modern Mom reminds us however, babies and children suffer from allergies too, and require safe and gentle forms of treatment. If your child is showing symptoms of an allergy, take a look at the different environmental factors that could be to blame.
Allergy symptoms in children
Springtime allergies can produce many of the same symptoms in young children and infants as adults, along with hives, fussiness, and impaired breathing. You may notice your child rubbing his or her face and presenting with a red nose and red, swollen eyes. A common sign of allergies in children that Dr. Heins notes is a palmed wipe up the nose- this is commonly referred to as the “allergy salute.” Children with allergies may also present with darkening around the eyes, which we’ve dubbed “allergic shiners.”
Dr. Heins’ best preventative health tip for allergy sufferers is nasal rinsing after school or before bed. This helps to literally wash out the allergens and reduce the histamine response in your child. Companies like HydraSense make baby-safe saltwater misting sprays and nasal rinses that are gentle and effective.
Use a vaporizer to keep air moist in your nursery or child’s bedroom, and consider elevating one end of your crib mattress to help with congestion during naps and at night. For an older child, encourage that they sleep on an extra pillow to slightly elevate the head. Just be sure that the neck is supported and doesn’t sit at an extreme angle.
You can also limit allergy symptoms by minimizing your outdoor time and keeping windows shut when the pollen count is high. Depending on the severity of the allergies, Baby Center recommends washing hands and faces when your child comes in the house from outdoors and removing clothing so it can be added to the laundry immediately.
Remember that babies are very sensitive and haven’t had as much exposure to various airborne substances, so keep a close eye on your child to avoid mistaking allergy symptoms for a cold. If your baby has hives or a rash, consult with a health care practitioner who can help you determine if the allergen is more likely airborne or ingested. Naturopaths can run allergy testing panels and use modalities like homeopathics to great effect- these are safe in infants and children, and can help push the immune system to better handle environmental aggravants.
Wishing you a safe and sniffle free spring!
In her blog post “Why Feed Kids Healthy NOW?” nutritionist Lauren Talbot points out how lucky parents are to have the opportunity to instill good eating habits in their children right from infancy. As she reminds readers- and as we’ve mentioned on our blog before- not only is a baby’s development affected directly by prenatal diet, but newborn infants begin to develop taste preferences from their earliest feedings. From birth, we have a responsibility to guide and direct our children’s diet- this is a big responsibility, but we’re fortunate to have it.
Raising a child from infancy can offer an opportunity to encourage certain tastes, food preferences and understandings of nutrition… but what about when we want to influence eating habits at a later stage in development? Talbot mentions how challenging it can be to break the ingrained eating habits of older children and adolescents, which she’s experienced firsthand as a stepmother. At this point, children have already come to expect and crave certain unhealthy foods because they’re such a regular part of their lifestyle. This doesn’t just apply to particularly lackadaisical families either- let’s face it: most of us have an appetite for foods we could certainly do without. We recall craving unhealthy food as children, as adolescents, and even as nutritionally-minded adults.
So how do processed, sugary, high-fat and junky foods sneak into so many children’s diets? A large part of it is our own leniency. In order to truly adopt the cleanest, most healthful eating habits, Talbot says we need to make a critical shift in our attitudes. She suggests that we redefine how we conceive of “normal” eating, and stop making allowances for unhealthy foods on account of how mainstream they may be. She stresses the importance of adult guidance, reminding us that “it’s okay for children to be different from the norm.”
It’s true that the “norm” is far from optimal. Just think of the many factors that contribute to our conceptions of customary eating behaviours: we see other families eating a typical North American diet; we find the same packaged foods lining our grocery store shelves; we are surrounded by cheap and readily accessible fast food options. These things all shape our views of acceptable eating patterns and make healthy, organic eating seem different, difficult, and deviant.
We need to set a positive example for our children to help make healthy eating habits seem (and in fact become) more common. Let’s strive for a culture in which healthy, whole food choices are what’s normal. In the meantime however, it’s important that we make the choices that are best for our health, regardless of how irregular and inconvenient they may seem in comparison to those around us.
Teach your family to share your priority of clean eating. Teach them to choose fresh, whole foods. Teach them the value of food preparation and empower them with the skills to nourish their bodies. By doing these things, together we can help to create a new “normal.”
Recent news has made the disconcerting report that women often have misguided ideas about their caloric requirements during pregnancy.
The findings of numerous studies continue to prove that moms-to-be need to be careful about what they’re eating and avoid some dangerous behaviours like over-indulging their cravings. Why? Because what you eat can directly affect the development of your child, in both the fetal stage and infancy.
For example, research shows that women who eat a higher sugar diet may have bigger babies. The sugar consumption triggers the baby to produce more insulin, which in turn promotes growth.
The reason for this- and one of the key “takeaways” from this article- is the fact that everything in a mother’s diet has a collective impact on her child’s development. While medical science used to believe that the placenta could filter out unwanted or unneeded nutrients, we now know this isn’t the case. So when a pregnant woman chooses to eat things that are high in sugar and low in nutritional value, those decisions are also being made for her child. And when these decisions are made consistently, your baby’s body will react and develop accordingly. A poor prenatal diet can even affect the infant’s eventual likelihood of developing chronic disease.
The nutrients that babies feed on and physically process in the womb also help determine the types of cravings they’ll have in infancy, because the mother’s diet shapes her baby’s sensitivity and receptiveness to certain tastes. So skip the sugar and greasy, processed foods. Make it a strict habit to exercise dietary balance, high nutrient density, and moderation.
Yes, moderation. As the article points out, it’s important to understand what it means to be “eating for two.” This is a misleading expression because the volume of food you need to consume while pregnant is never going to double. In fact the view that pregnancy is a time to “let go” contributes to the problem of compromised fetal nutrition. When women eat empty calories, avoid exercise, and indulge repeatedly in high-sugar, high-sodium or high-fat food cravings, their pregnancy weight gain begins to exceed the targeted and healthy range of 25 to 35 pounds.
Of course pregnancies are subjective and body weight, nutritional needs, and gestational health concerns vary. However, understanding your personal needs is a good place to start. Consult Health Canada’s pregnancy weight gain guide, set up a diet plan based on your own cravings and aversions, and try to remind yourself that the right combination of nutrition knowledge and discipline could go a long way in keeping your child healthy.
Deciding when it’s time to start weaning is certainly a subjective and personal decision. Some of the factors that help you choose when the time is right include:
> your lifestyle
> your child’s needs
> the demands of breastfeeding on your body
> indications that your baby is ready to wean
> the emotional connection you have to breastfeeding
Remember that weaning is a gradual process and one that should be undertaken with confidence and patience. Some mothers find that when it’s time to begin weaning, the resistance from their babies is an early and significant obstacle to the process. Here’s some general advice that you might find helpful if you’re struggling to start this transition.
Your baby may not be ready. If you believe in child-led weaning, then your cues for the right time to stop breastfeeding will come from your baby. Carefully assess the situation as you try to wean. Is your baby simply used to feedings and fussing out of habit? There is an expected transitional phase where you’ll need to introduce your baby to whatever new feeding routine you’re moving towards in the early stages of weaning. Since this will be an adjustment, some confusion, fussing or resistance is normal. If, after an initial attempt, your baby truly doesn’t seem ready to skip a feeding at the breast however, you might consider waiting.
Find new ways of nurturing. Breastfeeding is an emotionally rich experience for mothers, and an opportunity to bond with your child in a unique way. This is an experience that is difficult to let go of. But the special relationship you share with your baby doesn’t have to diminish at all when you stop breastfeeding. During the process of weaning, find new ways to nurture your child, whether it’s by rocking, napping together, singing, soothing or reading.
Timing is important. Since weaning is an emotional and physical transition that takes some adjusting, avoid beginning the process during other major changes in your family’s life. If you’ve just returned to work, for example, your child may still be getting used to new structures and routines. Adding in weaning may overwhelm both of you, and might be met with more resistance if too much else is changing simultaneously. You will also want to time weaning based on your own health. Your nutritional needs and metabolic rate will be changing, so begin weaning at a time when you’re ready to adjust your habits, exercise and diet accordingly.
Make your own schedule. Figure out a weaning process that works for you. Are there certain feedings that feel more intuitive to cut out? That’s the place to start. Consider the duration, convenience and time of day of each feeding. Check out this insightful and personal blog post from breastfeeding consultant Taya Griffin as an example. She shares her experience with night-weaning. She knew that she could benefit from more sleep, and that eliminating nighttime feedings was a good place to start the weaning process. We appreciate her reminder that her successful experience with night-weaning doesn’t mean that she’s ready to eliminate breastfeeding altogether. Remember, as she does, that starting your own weaning process doesn’t have to put you on a fast track to solely solids. Go at your own pace.
Talk to someone! As with many aspects of mothering and baby care, talking about your feelings, experiences and struggles can be enormously helpful. Talk to another mother, a breastfeeding consultant or keep an eye out for workshops and support groups. We host many! You can also chat with Dr. Heins about how to ensure you meet your growing toddler’s nutritional needs. Whatever path you choose, knowledge, patience and support will make this an exciting transition in your baby’s life.