it’s easy to get caught up in all the superficial parts of parenting, isn’t it? people fight about feeding and sleeping and carrying and babysitting and all sorts of other made up issues (mommy wars, you can take all the seats). it can be exhausting, especially when all you want is a little friendly advice, emphasis on the friendly, but you’re getting a side of judgement with everything.
i don’t have all the answers, but i know if there is one thing that all parents can agree on in this world where there is so much to disagree on, it has to be that we all want our babies to be as healthy as possible. find me a parent who says otherwise, and i’ll show you a liar. we might all get there differently, but the goal is the same. so today i thought i’d share my top five tips for healthy babies that have been wonderful for us with both kids.
1. regular well-baby visits. this should be a no-brainer, but i’ll say it anyway. take your kids to the doctor regularly. it’s so much easier to stay on schedule than it is to catch up, and sometimes all it takes to make yourself feel better is asking the doctor about that nagging thing you aren’t sure about (is it normal for my kid to not sleep EVER? answer: yes). plus, the better your relationship is with your child’s health care provider, the better you can work together to make sure your child’s health is the best it can be. my kids love their doctor, and because we see her on time and exactly when we should, i know that she is as up to date on my kids health as she can be, and can help me make sure they are where they need to be for all facets of their health.
2. infant probiotics. one thing that many of you may not know is that my daughter has fairly severe eczema. after lots of reading and research and trial and error, and way too many tears (hers and mine), we are pretty sure that the cause of hers was a gut microbiome imbalance. it came on later than most baby eczema does, and was closely related to her starting eat more food. we have tried many different treatments for her, and i’m happy to report that it’s mostly under control, but during this process, we found that some things had more of an impact than others. one of the simplest, yet most impactful treatment was giving her a daily probiotic.
i wish that we had known about this when she was an infant. because it turns out, babies are born with a sterile gut and depend on their moms to pass on b. infantis, a beneficial bacteria, during the birthing process. it’s this initial setup of good gut bacteria that helps fight off potentially bad bacteria as they grow – and this bad bacteria is linked to eczema, allergies, asthma, diabetes and obesity (go figure). the last 100 years have seen a dramatic change in the baby’s gut microbiome and today, 97% of babies no longer receive b. infantis at birth. an it’s not the moms fault, it’s a generational issue that’s attributed to the unintentional consequences of antibiotic use, C-section deliveries and less breastfeeding during the first six months of life. in a survey of moms done by evivo probiotics, they found that while most moms know there’s a connection between breast milk and their baby’s gut, 96% don’t know that 15% of breast milk nutrients are wasted if b. infantis isn’t present (and most likely its not).
ever since our struggles with amelia’s immune system, i’ve been determined to be more thoughtful about gut health. amelia has been taking a daily probiotic for a while now, and it has helped immensely with her eczema. with william, we’re using evivo probiotics, a probiotic naturally intended for the infant gut, and formulated to work with breast milk to promote development of healthy bacteria. evivo is the only probiotic that is clinically proven to restore a baby’s gut microbiome to its original, natural state, transform special carbohydrates found in breast milk to promote the growth of b. infantis, and defend from bad bacteria linked to eczema, allergies, diabetes and obesity. if you’re wondering at all how probiotics can help with infant gut health, visit the evivo site here, and i’m more than happy to share more details about our decision to use probiotics for our babies!
3. lots of cuddles. i mean, twist my arm why don’t you? i’m sure you have seen all the articles out about a study that was recently done that says that holding your baby is actual vital for their health and development. skin to skin contact and frequent holding of babies helps them eat better, decreases their crying, and helps them deal with pain better. it even carries over as they grow up, with the effects of holding babies often showing up in iq levels and social skills 20 years later. so, like you needed an excuse to cuddle that sweet babe even more, but there you go. don’t worry about spoiling them, you’re doing them tons of good!
4. healthy cleaning products. you guys know how i feel about cleaning products. we’re never going to be perfect, but i think we can agree that the more chemicals we can keep out of our kids bodies, the better. like, i’m never going to be able to get Mister Man to give up his scrubbing bubbles (although he did just clean his bathroom using only vinegar and water and essential oil, because he grudgingly said, “i guess we’re doing the natural thing now…”), but i can do my best to decrease the chemicals in my home.
chemicals can mess with your hormones, and your cells, and your immune system, even as adults, so imagine the effect they can have on a child! our parents and grandparents didn’t have nearly as many chemicals around and available to them when they were growing up and raising kids, so it’s something that unfortunately we have to be a lot more thoughtful about.
in case you have no idea where to start, i will be sharing my recipes for natural cleaning supples as i get to them, so here is one for homemade glass cleaner if you missed it. i also share recipes on my natural home instagram page, so give that a look if you’re interested!
5. taking care of yourself. yes. this is SO important. if you can’t take care of yourself and keep yourself healthy, then it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to keep your little one healthy. as they say on the pre-flight video, put on your own oxygen tank before assisting others. the same concept applies to parenting healthy children. make your health a priority so that you can make your child’s health a priority.
i have talked about self-care for new moms on here before, so go ahead and take a look at that post for some ideas. some quick ideas are: taking a bath or a long shower, lighting a favorite candle or diffusing your favorite scent in the evening, watching a dumb show to give your brain a rest, reading a book if you need some mental stimulation, sitting down to drink a cup of coffee while the tv watches your kids for a half hour. whatever it is that brings you rest and rejuvenation, make time for it. you and your kids will be healthier for it.
what are some ways you keep yourself and/or your family healthy (kids or no kids!)?
when Mister Man and i took our wedding vows, we promised to take care of each other through everything with the words, “in sickness and in health”. well, i said those words, the priest may have forgotten to tell MM to say them (oops!), but we’ve already established that there is no loophole for him, and that’s another story altogether.
we meant those vows, and even if sickness comes to us, we will be there for each other and will stick it out as husband and wife. but it’s a whole heck of a lot easier to keep the “in health” part of that vow, isn’t it? so we have promised each other that we will do everything in our power to keep ourselves healthy as long as possible.
Mister Man is the person who keeps me healthy. he encourages me to get to the gym after work, and knowing that he is counting on me to meet him there keeps me from going home and sitting my butt on the couch. i am lucky enough that he loves to cook with me, so eating healthy at home feels like a date night instead of a chore. when i act like the night owl i am and stay up too late, he gets on my case to get more sleep.
some of our best conversations happen on long walks around our neighborhood. we can walk and talk forever, and all of a sudden an hour and a half has passed and we have a plan for our next project, or an agreement about our next big life event.
but for me, health does not exist solely in and of the body. i need to be mentally and spiritually healthy as well, because otherwise i’m just partly healthy, not totally healthy. and what’s the point of that? Mister Man gets it. he gets that for me, going to church every week is something i need to be healthy, and he participates and believes in that with me. he gets that sometimes we need a burrito bowl at chipotle or a burger at the local bar, along with a beer or two (none for me right now, boo!), because eating healthy at home 100% of the time will drive a person crazy. there is a balance in our lives that makes as much of a difference in our health as our gym membership.
now that we’re having a baby, our health has taken on an even more important role in our lives, because there’s a tiny human joining this world soon who is going to be dependent on us for a very long time. and that means we need to stay healthy for a very long time. we both want to be around to see our child go to school and have a family of their own and to be grandparents.
we know that we can’t control our health 100% of the time, because unexpected, unavoidable things happen. but for the parts we can control, i know that Mister Man will be there to keep me on top of my game, just like i’ll be there for him.
the American Recall Center asked me to share who keeps me healthy as part of their “Who Keeps You Healthy?” campaign. the American Recall Center is “a brand new site devoted to providing health and wellness news in simple, straightforward terms. their ultimate goal is to help their readers take complete charge of their health by being fully informed.”
today marked the first day of my no sugar detox. and after a day of no sugar, i’m thinking i may have been a wee bit cocky when going into this whole thing.
you see, in my head, i am super healthy. i eat lots of whole foods, i broke myself of the coffee habit, and i exercise on a regular basis. i am convinced that i don’t eat a lot of sugar or processed food. until today. today, i learned that i really like crackers and things made from simple carbohydrates. and i learned that i don’t like being hungry. oh no i do not.
the detox isn’t actually as intense as it could be. i’m not doing some sort of crazy juice cleanse or a cayenne pepper smoothie crazy thing. it’s mostly a reboot of your diet to make you more aware of how much sugar you’re putting into your body, and it’s just made up of whole foods and lots of veggies and protein. but it’s still so hard!
dinner: salmon with spinach/onions and sweet potatoes.
i mean, not bad, not too different from what i normally eat, even fairly delicious. (but that lunch! do you see why i’m hungry? work makes me want to eat ALL THE CHEETOS and i can’t eat any of them!).
the other thing with this detox is that it requires a lot of cooking and food prep. and it takes so much time out of the day, i was actually a little surprised. not being able to throw a sandwich together for lunch takes a little more thought than what my menu is for this week (surprise, surprise). so if i’m a little quiet on the blog front this week, chances are it’s because i’m chopping vegetables in the kitchen, while trying to keep up with the normal household stuff.
here’s hoping i come out of the other end of this detox alive!
have any of you ever tried a detox of any kind before? how did it go? was it worth it?
that’s such a typical girl thing to say, isn’t it? but when i say i have bad skin, i mean i am one of the people who actually has a dermatologist and has been to them for something other than to get a funky-looking mole checked out.
because of this, i have a pretty strict skin-care regimen, which my husband will tell you i’m religious about. i do the same thing every morning and every night, even when i’m traveling. oh how i wish i was one of those people who could just use a dove bar and call it a day. if any of you reading right now are one of those people, what is that like? i imagine that it feels a bit like heaven.
i somehow was able to keep my breakouts at bay in the months leading up to our wedding last year, which was no small feat. it was so good (for me) that i was even able to do my own makeup. this is momentous people.
then i did something stupid and tried a raw apple cider vinegar toner because i read somewhere that it was the most amazing treatment ever. you guys, if you have even slightly sensitive/problem/demon skin, DO NOT DO THIS. it basically destroyed any progress i had made in making my breakouts stop, and i had to start the process all over again.
so now i’m back to a good regimen, which i thought i’d share here. i’ve had a lot of people ask me what to do for breakouts, since i have so much experience with them, and i’m happy to share any tricks i have. let’s be honest, i could basically give facial treatments in a spa, i’ve done that much research.
rinse face with warm water
moisturize with cetaphil lotion
apply eye cream (because wrinkles you guys!)
wash face with cetaphil daily facial cleanser
every other day, apply either proactiv repairing treatment (make sure you only buy white pillow cases and sheets, unless you want to ruin a few colorful sets while you learn your lesson the hard way) or origins drink up intensive overnight mask, depending how gross your hormones are making your face look
apply eye cream (see above)
once-twice a week:
wash face normally
steam your face with a hot, damp washcloth to open the pores
apply clay or charcoal face mask (bonus activity: freak your husband out while you walk around the apartment)
apply proactiv repairing treatment
like i said, this stuff is what’s working for me right now, and even though i might get breakouts here and there, my skin is good enough to go outside my apartment with no makeup on my face. i feel like those of you with beautiful skin may not understand how awesome this is, but again, it’s momentous! i get giddy just thinking about it!
any awesome tips out there that i’m missing? any miracle products i should be aware of for the future? (i’m planning on trying out a norwex facial towel that i’ve heard is like a miracle, which you better believe i will be talking about if it works!) i’m totally willing to try new stuff, even if it might make things worse. i’m a risk taker like that.
i like to think i’m a fairly confident person, in the sense that there aren’t a lot of things that embarrass me…talking in front of people doesn’t make me nervous. i once put on a poodle skirt and did swing dances (multiple) in front of 3,000 people at my company’s annual meeting. i married the man who i had the most awkward first kiss with EVER. i’m pretty good with keeping my cool in potentially cringe-worthy situations. which is why my frustration with the gym is so high.
why does it have to be such an embarrassing place?? is it not enough that you are exerting yourself to points of physical discomfort so great you feel pukey*? is it not enough that you are all sweaty and gross and ALWAYS see someone you know when you are at the peak of the workout? why can’t it be enough that all the weirdos want to talk to you when all you want to do is pick out a magazine?
i go to the gym with the best of intentions and normally in a really great mood. more often than not i end up leaving with the feeling that something could have gone better. that or i should just stick to working out to my jillian michael’s dvds in my living room.
out of the last 3 times i’ve been to the gym, i have:
– accidentally reserved a stairstepper instead of an elliptical machine, but because there were about twenty people watching me do it, i just stayed with the stairstepper out of shame. they are the worst, and that workout confirmed why i never use them.
– circled one of the new elliptical machines for 3 minutes, attempting to determine which number machine i was on. half of this time was spent after i had asked the gym attendant where the numbers were posted.
– awkwardly hovered around one of the occupied weight machines while Mister Man searched out an ever-elusive floor mat for me. no, sir, i do not want to make eye contact with you, i am waiting for my husband to finish doing a favor for me. thank you goodbye.
– choked while taking a sip of water from the public drinking fountain. because of course.
MM and i go to the gym together all the time and yet we have never worked out near each other. i think i just figured out why.
*this is not a reflection on how hard i workout, only a reflection of how out of shape i am from not going to the gym enough.