Ear infections in babies and children are one of the most common childhood afflictions parents will come across. It is also the number one reason babies are routinely prescribed antibiotics by their pediatricians. For something as ubiquitous as a runny nose, why are we even giving these strong medications in the first place?

Ask any adult who has gone through the pain of an infected ear drum and they will tell you it is almost unbearable. For parents, especially new parents, watching their normally happy baby scream for no reason is equally unbearable. This begins a phenomenon that is all too common where a child is rushed to their pediatrician with a runny nose or cough and a fever. The doctor then confirms an inner ear infection and routinely prescribes antibiotics. The parent leaves feeling relieved, having a script for meds in hand. Yet they are never told about the “wait and see” period the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. The AAP advises observation alone as the prescribed treatment since 80% of acute ear infections in children resolve naturally in a few days.

Your Pediatricians Office Is Also A Business

I am extremely fortunate to have a next door neighbor who is also a pediatric nurse. I will never forget a conversation we were having one day about ear infections and antibiotics. I was telling her how it just didn’t seem right for a tiny six-month-old baby to be put on antibiotics because of an ear ache and a runny nose. You see we were debating over the issue of how there is no way of knowing whether the infection was viral or bacterial. As much as 50% of the time an ear infection is caused by a virus which would mean antibiotics would not work. She then explained to me how pediatric offices are also a business. Parents demand a product to fix their child and doctors happily supply them. I was stunned. On one end you have working parents who need a quick fix so they can get back to their lives and who don’t even question it because they don’t have the time or energy. One the other side of the spectrum are first time parents, vulnerable and afraid of the unknown and who believe in their pediatrician wholeheartedly. The bottom line is parents aren’t happy unless they leave with a solution in hand.

Antibiotics Have Known Side Effects

For parents who have succumbed to a 10 day course of the pink stuff, they are also inadvertently setting themselves up for a cascade of after effects. This includes but is not limited to:

  • antibiotic-induced diarrhea, the most common
  • fungal diaper rash, the kind that makes a bum crack and bleed
  • oral thrush, which is contagious to nursing moms causing a painful nipple infection
  • vomiting, which often happens after you just gave a dose of meds
  • allergic rashes including hives, an actual allergy to the antibiotics
  • joint damage and swelling, a rare but serious side effect

There Are Several Reasons For Ear Aches

What was surprising to me after having been through many ear aches with my own kids was how often they didn’t have an ear infection. Many times the sinus pressure from a simple cold can build up and cause ear pain. Swimming causes an outer ear infection which can also irritate the ear drum. Last but not least our children are damaging their ear drums at an astounding rate from listening to their screen devices too loudly in a new syndrome called “noise exposure,” or noise induced hearing loss. The number of visits to my pediatricians office for ear checks became so often that I broke down and bought my own otoscope, which I highly recommend. The learning curve is short and I was able to easily spot a perfect eardrum from an angry one.

How To Manage Ear Infections Naturally

After you have made an informed decision not to treat a simple inner ear infection with antibiotics, here is what you can do instead:

  • Treat with ibuprofen for pain – avoid tylenol
  • Use garlic oil for it’s antiseptic properties
  • use this warm salt sock recipe and include essential oils like tea tree or Purification by Young Living
  • breastfeed or give high quality probiotics (anything refrigerated and in the billions)
  • suction out as much snot as you can (for small babies)

You Can Get Through This

Lastly it is so important to know that you will get through this, I promise. Sometimes it helps mentally to have that prescription called in to your pharmacy ready to go. But if you can get through even two days you have a 60% chance that this will clear on its own. My daughter is extremely sensitive and complained of ear pain for three weeks once. After checking her ears more times than we could count and no bulging eardrum we came to the conclusion that she actually had a sinus infection. That will be a post for another day but for now take good care of those sweet babes and good luck.


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Vaccines save lives and have helped build up our civilization into the modern world it is today. But with a new vaccine added to the schedule of childhood immunizations every few years, parents are starting to see that there can be too much of a good thing.

Many parents today don’t realize that there are a lot more shots than there used to be when they were a child. Most will take their baby in to all of the “well baby” check-ups and let the nurse give injections without even a thought. They believe immunization is part of their civic duty, to help keep the community healthy. After all, they were vaccinated as a child and turned out just fine. But all of that is starting to change and the new generations of parents are asking questions.

Vaccines: Then and Now

An interesting thing happens when you begin to educate yourself on the matter of vaccines. The most critical pieces of information come not from the science or the medicine or even the diseases themselves. The most valuable information comes from the history. It is by looking to the past that you can begin to understand the complexities of this medical procedure we call vaccination.

Vaccines really started to take off during the 1940’s when doctors recommended the smallpox and the DTP (a combined shot of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccines. After that was the Polio vaccine in the 1950’s and lastly the MMR (a combined shot of measles, mumps and rubella) came along in the 1970’s. Since smallpox was eventually declared eradicated, the remaining shots of polio, DTP and MMR were the only three recommended shots, for decades. A child would never receive more than two shots at one time.

The Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was added in the 1980’s and hepatitis B in the 1990’s. An official annual vaccination schedule was implemented in 1995 and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Since then, more and more and more shots have been added. The current childhood schedule contains 69 doses of 16 vaccines. To give you an idea of how this breaks down, here is what a two month old baby would receive at one checkup: Diphtheria, Tetanus, a. Pertussis (DTaP), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Pneumococcal conjugate Vaccine (PCV) and Rotavirus (RV). These five shots contain 15 different strains of viruses and bacteria and are all injected into a ten pound baby in a single office visit.

Where Are All the Safety Studies?

With the introduction of each new shot one would assume that there are proper safety studies done to ensure parents that mixing together a combination of so many different diseases is, well, safe. But this is not the case. To date there are no safety studies done on the entire vaccination schedule as a whole. Each vaccine is tested individually. Since vaccines are considered a public health measure they don’t have to go through the same strict testing as a pharmaceutical drug would. Vaccines are tested against other vaccines. There are no double blind studies and no true placebos. Most of the safety studies are epidemiological (recording the effects reported by different populations of people.) No true medical studies have been done measuring blood, urine, bone marrow or other empirical data such as these.

A mother’s intuition is not something that should be taken lightly. If she had observed that her child became extremely lethargic after getting all of the recommended shots, napping hours longer than normal and running a high fever – this is what is called a vaccine reaction. More and more incidents like these are emerging, and scientists are beginning to take notice. Most Americans would be shocked to discover that the U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate out of 34 other industrialized nations.

Schedules in Japan and France

America has the most aggressive vaccination schedule of infants under one. Vaccines are a pharmaceutical product and in the U.S. pharmaceuticals are our biggest industry and our biggest commodity. We are the makers of the vaccines that go out to the rest of the world. The only difference is that in other countries they make their own vaccination schedules. While the U.S. has 26 doses of shots from birth to 12 months, Japan and France recommend 12-15 doses during the first year of life. Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Denmark are the same – though they all have the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.

The Future is in Our Hands

No one wants to look back one day and say that we made a huge mistake. It is up to the parent to ask questions. Luckily, generations X and Y are really good at questioning things. It’s okay to say no to certain shots and go slow with the ones you have decided were important. To be an American is to consume products, but this type of mentality does not serve our future generations. Especially when their blood is concerned. The days of worshiping our doctors and blindly following their advice are over. People are learning to take matters of their health into their own hands. Research. Ask questions. Find what’s right for you and your baby. Across the board health officials can agree on one thing – everything in moderation. From a daily glass of wine to a simple 30 minutes of walking per day. Our children deserve this as well. Their health is not determined by the amount of pharmaceutical products injected into them.

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When I was pregnant with my first I felt her kicking before they said it was possible. At five months she made her presence known. She kicked so hard as I was working on the computer one day that she nearly hit a few keys. I was convinced she was a boy until the twenty week ultrasound proved otherwise. We gave her a strong, stately name, Elizabeth.When she was born she had such a powerful sucking reflex that she actually tore open my nipples during our first twenty minute nursing session. My husband had to take over and let her suck on his pinky, which she did for two hours!

The first two weeks of her life were excruciating for us. I remember feeling so down that it was sooo hard, even though I had ten years of infant care under my belt. She was a sensitive baby, yet when she nursed she had no regard for the person on the other side. Every time she latched I winced in pain, for four months. I saw five different lactation consultants and counselors, which barely helped. We were referred to an Ear, Nose Throat specialist who cut her tongue tie. This only helped her latch on even stronger. My husband started describing my nipples as being completely annihilated.

It was only because of my childcare skills that I was able to handle her. For the first five months of life she had to be bounced on an exercise ball every night during the bewitching hours from 6 – 10pm. She didn’t sleep through the night, ever. At twenty-three months we finally broke her of her 2am bottle. Also at two she started refusing to take naps. The only way I could get her to go to sleep was to drive her around in the car for 45 minutes. As a professional nanny it was part of my job to sleep train infants, and she was untrainable.

I read all five of the popular infant sleep books at the time, and tried each of their theories. She defied them all. Even the examples in the books of other babies who wouldn’t sleep all had logical explanations. No sleep routine, not enough exercise, too much sugar. Check, check, and check. She had all of the conditions conducive to sleep in place. Yet she thrashed around and woke up crying several times each night. Once when she was three she had a night terror so bad we had to drive her in the car to calm her down, at 2am. She is five now and gets up at least once still, usually because of a “bad dream.”

When her brother was born her whole world changed. She was deeply aware even at two-years-old that she was no longer the center of our lives. Her brother now took center stage. To make things even worse – he was easy. So easy. I remember nursing him sweetly to sleep and lying him in his crib. I would stare at his sleeping face in awe of how sweet and how easy he was. He learned to fall asleep on his own as an infant, napped easily right on schedule and rarely got overstimulated. A dream baby. Thus began her sibling rivalry.

Just like with the sleep issues we had major jealously issues and sibling issues. Again I read every good book on siblings and siblings getting along. Again my daughter defied them all. Just the other day she told me, again, she wished Nolan wasn’t in our family and that it was only her. “Why did daddy have to plant two seeds!!!” She says crap like this all the time. Also, she wishes we didn’t have a daycare and that I didn’t have to work.  

Now onto the tantrums, crying spells and bouts of anger. She has had meltdowns and explosions so intense I have found myself actually laughing a few times. Weird right? It is just so shocking how amazingly intense she can feel things that I can’t help but laugh sometimes. She gets physical, slams doors, tells me she hates me, hates her brother. Sound normal? Sure, all kids can get like this at times. But for us it is all the time. We will have a few weeks here and there of a good spell, but it never lasts long. When she was two and three and four people rarely judged us. She was a toddler after all. But recently things have changed… because now she is five. Now she is required to do things like clean her room and get dressed and go to school. All of these things are a battle. Especially school.

This year’s Thanksgiving was kind of a sad day in our house. Depressing actually. Not because of the turkey – which was our best ever. Not because of the decor – which was awesome. And not even because of our out of town family, one of them my estranged brother who made it to his first holiday since our daughter was born. No, that all went down without a hitch. It went so smoothly actually I even got to take a two hour nap before our guests arrived and dinner began. That would have been impossible in previous years. Thanksgiving was a disaster because our five year old daughter was a disaster.

She started melting down about half way through dinner when she knocked over her water goblet and it fell to the floor and shattered. I know she was embarrassed because I could feel her embarrassment and I even get a tear in my eye when I think about it for some reason. Five-year-olds love to do what grown-ups do. In fact the biggest compliment you can give a five-year-old is to say “You did that just like a grown up.” So when she started crying and getting upset because she knocked over her glass like a baby, I felt her pain. For the rest of the ten people at the table there was less understanding and more “can we just move on from this now so I can finish my meal in peace?”

Sure everyone said things to her like “it’s ok, no big deal.” After all no one had any reason to think that this would turn out to be such a big deal to my daughter. Only it was. It’s like a downward spiral of darkness when she gets like this. I barely had time to finish cleaning up the glass pieces all over the floor before I found myself swooping her up and bringing her to her room. I can’t even remember what I said but I know I acknowledged her feelings of embarrassment, because that’s how I roll. We went back to the table and she wanted to sit in my lap. The meltdowns continued throughout the night until people started to get over it. By desert she was fighting with her brother so bad I had to lock her in the bathroom with me until she calmed down. No, I don’t spank and i don’t do time-outs.

By the end of the night I was washing my third dish when I heard her hysterically crying in the other room. No one had any capacity or desire to deal with her. After all when a toddler has a meltdown it’s cute. A five year old, not so much. I tried bringing her outside but when we came back in she announced to everyone, “THIS THANKSGIVING IS THE WORST DAY OF MY WHOLE LIFE!!!” The next day I got an enlightening rundown from my mom just exactly what the in-laws, and herself, think of our situation. Our daughter needs more discipline and punishment, they said. In other words, we are pushover parents. I believe that one of my strongest qualities is being able to hear and take criticism well. But in this situation my husband and I felt totally unsupported by our families. I am not angry at their criticism of our parenting style, but rather that no one felt for the pain our daughter was in, or tried to understand it.

Now let me just take a minute to explain the days leading up to the downward spiral of darkness. First, grandpa had been sleeping on the floor in my daughters room for the past week, sawing logs at night. My daughter is an extremely light sleeper and I know her sleep was affected simply by the presence of another person in her room. Second, we came home the day before Thanksgiving from a two day Disneyland trip. Need I say more? Third, since we were traveling our diet consisted entirely of white sugar and white four. It has been proven that children need amble amounts of nourishing foods to sustain their rapidly growing frontal lobes. If they eat too many sugars they revert to their reptilian brains and become super cranky animals.

I offer the above explanation as simply a back story to our week, not as an excuse for our daughter’s behavior. There has been a clear line in the sand drawn between who I can trust in our family to honor our struggles and be supportive to us in our huge endeavor of raising two children – one very difficult and one pretty easy. My sadness about this day comes not from the separation that has inevitably occurred between me and my family. Rather, it comes from my own personal realization that our daughter is a force to be dealt with. At five she has a strong voice and her opinions and meltdowns can no longer be contributed to terrible twos, or awful threes or wild fours…

I used to think that sleep, diet and over-stimulation were the key factors that contributed to our daughters meltdowns. I relied on those factors heavily actually. Now I am seeing that while they do play a big part, they are not the entire reason. Some kids are just difficult, strong willed, stubborn and unmanageable. They are natural born leaders and when not given choices or when things are not going their way you are sure to hear about it. They defy classic parenting books and theories because they are here for our future, and our future had some pretty big problems to solve. They are bright, creative and extremely talented. If someone tells them to paint the pumpkin orange, they will certainly make it a rainbow colored pumpkin. They defy authority. Some day a book will be written explaining how to deal with them but for now no such book exists. (Except if I write it, some day.)

Thank god our daughter has us, and we love her more than anything. Only time will tell what she will become one day, and it certainly will be something exciting. 

Do you or someone you know struggle in raising a Difficult Child? If so please share your stories, trials and tribulations. Join our online community of parents supporting other parents. Email your stories to

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Sibling Rivalry

Posted - 5 June, 2014

When I was pregnant with my second I had so many people warn me about how my first might react. I heard stories about firstborns stealing the diaper cream and smearing it all over the walls. Or even worse tales of an older sibling actually doing harm to the new baby. My mom warned me to be careful because our oldest was so used to being the center of attention and could easily be the jealous type. Yet no one had any suggestions of how to help our daughter cope with the bomb dropped into her life called a little brother. It seemed the only thing I could do was to sit back and wait – and keep a careful watch over the newborn. Eventually time would tell if our daughter was trustworthy or not, and thankfully she was. She was infatuated with the sweet new babe as much as we were. Though she was jealous and sad at times, even if only I could see it. In the beginning she was great at keeping her jealously at bay. There were no bag balm incidents or any harm done to the newborn. That is until later, when he started walking and talking and interacting with her… and fighting.

I think that there are two ways that kids deal with the enormous life change of having to share their parents with a new sibling. They either hold it in, or they act out. With my daughter, everyone was so proud of how sweet and gentle she was with the baby. Some are simply not capable of holding back and the second they realize that they have to compete for food, love, attention and MOMMY and DADDY they scream, “Take the baby back to the hospital!” Or, “Put him back in your tummy.” Recently I learned that our reaction to these statements (aka their feelings) will either help them to love or hate their new sibling. Often we say without even thinking “You don’t mean to say that! You love him!” This shuts them down, suppresses their emotions and puts up walls between them and their sibling. Instead it’s better to address their jealousy directly, in a simple way like “You wish it were just me and you again? You are sad to see me spending so much time with the baby? If you get sad just tell me and I will give you a special squeeze.” But I didn’t know this at the time. I didn’t realize this until last week. I finally read a book that has been calling out to me on my bookshelf for years – Siblings Without Rivalry.

A few months ago I wrote several pieces on my experience with eliminating television from my daughters daily routine. At the time I was at my wits end dealing with her fights with her little brother. While I saw a great deal of success going without TV and forcing them to play together more, I recently realized that I was missing a huge part of the equation. I had known that my daughter’s intense emotions and meltdowns were mainly due to her jealously of her little brother, but I wasn’t equipped to fully address this – until now.

Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish has changed my entire life as I know it. It is a very straightforward book that shows you how to address your children’s emotions in order to make them feel heard and loved. They give you simple examples, often illustrated by cartoons of what not to do when your kids fight, followed by what to do instead. Every single topic in this book was an “aha” moment for me. I consider myself a caring, compassionate parent who is there for my kids even when it gets ugly. I hold my daughter when she cries and respect her intense emotions, but I really didn’t know what to do with her constant meltdowns. And then I learned about this book. It gives you the power of words to heal your child’s soul wounds. The book gives the example of how we know what to do when there is a scratch on a knee but do we know what to say when feelings are hurt? It is the feelings that are at the root of the fighting.

It turned out that I was following the steps in the book to get my kids to play well together without even knowing it. When I decided to unplug our daughter from daily screen time it forced her to find other things to do like play with her brother. I knew it was important to let them figure out how to get along, and I let them be – as long as no one was getting hurt. Just having the uninterrupted play time together decreased the physical fights significantly. Step one in Sibling Rivalry is to step back and see if they can settle their disputes on their own.

After three days of no TV my daughter had a huge meltdown where she told me that she hated her brother and wanted the trash truck to come and take him away. She was sobbing and I just listened. I really didn’t know what to do at the time except to just hold her and be there for her. It turns out that this is step two in Sibling Rivalry. The book says not till the bad feelings come out, can the good feelings come in. Once my daughter was able to tell me, sobbing, how much she hated her brother – only then did she actually start to really like him. Kids are so in the moment compared to adults. Their feeling and emotions are raw and real and they just need a little help naming them. This book give you a series of carefully chosen words to say to your kids to help them. Once they are able to get out what they are feeling and talk about it with their parents, they often are skipping away happy five minutes later.

Since I finished this book I have been amazed at how many times my son would be crying because of a fight with his sister. I would acknowledge his hurt feelings, and he would literally be laughing at her thirty seconds later. We can encourage them and lift them up with carefully chosen words. For example, instead of saying “Don’t pick on your brother.” Say, “Bodies are not for hitting. Use your words to tell him what’s bothering you.” What this does is enable them to verbalize their feelings about each other. They are able to work out how to live together and play together by talking it out. This is pretty huge especially when the alternative is screaming, pushing, grabbing, hitting or even worse.  Now when they fight I only intervene when it gets physical and then I separate them for a cooling off period. These incidents are getting fewer and fewer since reading the book.

While it may be hard to accept at first, all siblings will be jealous or experience hate toward one another. It is a feeling that is not going to go away for the rest of their lives actually. Not when they are two or twenty. When we learn to accept this as a child’s first lesson in experiencing intense emotions, we learn to accept all of their other emotions too. What I mean is that we tend to focus on kids being happy and getting along and having fun. However, learning to control the other explosive feelings is important too. When you tell a child, “Don’t Cry. You’re ok. Calm down.” What are we really saying to them? We as parents know what we mean when we say you are ok – you are alive! But they hear differently. What if instead we say, “What happened? Wow you are angry! You look so sad.” If we accept their feelings, the good and the bad, we are accepting them completely. The beauty of this is that the bad feelings and meltdowns happen less and less the more kids feelings are acknowledged.

Siblings also explains at great length several of the ways that parents unintentionally hurt their kids relationships with each other. For example, we compare. We say “Nolan is so good at picking up, why can’t you be like Nolan.” This makes the lesser sibling feel less loved by the parent. Instead say, “I don’t like when you leave all your things lying on the floor. Someone could trip and fall. I need to keep our house a safe place.” Another way we get in their way is by obsessing over everything being equal. We feel bad if we buy something for one child so we will buy one for the other even if he doesn’t need it. It’s better to say, “Everyone in this family gets what they need, when they need it.” There is more security from the parents this way. A big example of this is when your child asks, “Who do you love the best?” The book says what kids really want to hear is, “Each of you are special to me. No one has your thoughts, your feelings, your smile. I’m so glad you’re my daughter.” This sounds so much better than, “I love all of you equally.”

This book is written so well that I feel I am doing it an injustice writing a report on it. But I know you are all busy so here is one final way we keep our kids from getting along. We put them into roles. She is the artist. He is the sports kid. She is the bully. He is the victim. Instead it is helpful to empower the victim to be strong. Tell him “you can share when you’re ready.” Ask the sports kid if he wants to go to art camp for a change. You never know if he secretly wishes he could paint like his sister and no one is giving him a chance.

I really recommended reading this book if you have more than one kid. It is a quick and easy read and only 200 pages. It has helped me so much that I am now reading it’s companion book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. It is amazing so far. I will keep you posted.


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I had a lovely Saturday today getting a break from my kids and getting to go to a baby shower. There is nothing better than drinking a cup of coffee while it is hot. This lasted about two minutes before someone then handed me their baby, which I happily obliged since its mother was needing to get a cup herself. We then sat down on the grass watching the little seven month old roll around so happy he could hardly stay on his blanket. I was so happy to see a baby that was allowed to be put down on the ground, play in the sunshine and pull out grass. He had no toys, only a blanket, the grass and the company of his mom close by. Such a sweet way to relax, watching a baby learn about the world and move his body around. Recently I learned that while sitting on the earth your body will absorb positive ions, making you feel happy, uplifted and grounded. Soon we were asked to come inside for the shower games and gift opening. I found my spot in the room and found myself holding another baby, rocking it to sleep, which of course is my favorite thing anyway. And then I saw it – wrapped in a big bow in the middle of the pile of presents. A Bumbo seat.

I write this next part with careful consideration. I want to begin with a vision of what life will be like for the baby that will be stuck in this seat, pictured here.

Imagine it’s early in the morning and the baby is up! Most likely its mother will be needing to make herself a pot of coffee so she sticks him in the chair and plops him onto the kitchen counter. He is watching all around, taking in the smells of the coffee and if old enough might even be playing with a toy – one that his mother chose for him and handed to him. Suddenly he is picked up and carried into the living room. Here mom drinks her coffee and maybe watches the news. Most likely she faces the baby toward the TV and he watches as well, entranced. If this mom is really with it today she might even go and take a shower next, with baby and Bumbo seat in tow. If she is really savvy she will even take them into the shower with her, and bathe him in the chair. When they are done she brings the two into the kitchen and feeds baby in his handy seat. Now it’s 9am and time for the baby’s morning nap. He is put to bed without ever having touched the floor.

Here is why the above scenario causes big problems. Babies placed in these seats are passively observing life happen around them. They are not given any opportunity to create a cause and effect scenario like if I push a ball – it rolls. Rather they learn that if they cry, wine, or fuss mom will hand them a new toy or piece of food. They learn to rely on someone else for their entertainment. They are completely immobilized in the seat, not able to roll, crawl, lift their legs or do any kind of core strengthening activities. By putting your baby in a Bumbo seat you are literally delaying their physical development. How can this be true, you ask. Here is what Bumbo has to say:

“The Bumbo Floor seat was designed to seat young babies who can’t sit up by themselves yet.
As soon as your baby can support their own head you can seat them in the Bumbo Floor Seat. The seat has many technical design features that supports the babies posture allowing them to interact with their surroundings.”

Ok. Many babies are actually strong enough to support their heads a couple of weeks or even days after birth. Bumbo is saying to seat these tiny babies into these chairs because they can’t sit up on there own yet. They have designed a chair to support a baby in the sitting up position when they would naturally not be able to get into that position on there own. Here’s the thing. Babies all reach developmental milestones in their own time, and sitting up is a major milestone. The chair gives parents a false sense of helping their babies advance more quickly. Some parents even believe that sitting up in the Bumbo chair starts to develop those sitting up muscles. But this is not the case. The seat supports them 100% so that they are not using any of their core muscles.

So how do you get a baby to sit up on his own? You lie him on the floor on his back. I really feel the need to say this part again. Lie your baby on his back on the floor if you want him to learn how to sit up. As I said above, babies reach milestones in their own time. However, the sequence leading up to a baby sitting up on his own is totally predictable. Here is how it goes from newborns to around six months; they lie on their back and move their head and their arms from side to side, then they learn leg lifts, then they roll over, push themselves up into cobra or a half pushup, and then for the grand finally – they figure out how to kick their legs out in front of them and sit up! It sounds easy, right? Not at all. Babies need the opportunity to learn how to do each specific movement and they need plenty of time to practice. The above sequence takes about six months. So for the poor example baby above who was stuck in the Bumo chair all morning long, he didn’t get to practice any rolls or leg lifts that morning.

You might be saying, “Ahh come on. A little time in the seat every day is ok. I only do 20 minutes. I have to get the dishes done somehow and he loves his Bumbo seat.” Well, sorry. What your baby can accomplish in 20 minutes if left on his own is giving him more than just physical motor skills (which it does even in that short amount of time.) Lets say in that 20 minutes he rolls over for the first time, or pushes up out of a sit up and kicks his legs out in front of him to sit up. This simple action actually gives him a great sense if personal accomplishment and is sending him down a path of learning independence and self management. When babies and children learn to do things on their own they gain a tremendous amount of self esteem. This is something that has been proven by a large body of studies done by a particular parenting group who practice the philosophy called RIE parenting.

If you are still not convinced to never use a Bumbo seat, ever, listen to this. In 2012 Bumbo recalled 4 million seats because babies were falling out of them and getting skull fractures. This is not because the seat was placed onto a counter and the baby fell (which you should never do by the way.) It is because babies are arching their backs trying to escape from the grips of their seats and ejecting themselves out of the seat, pictured above. And what does Bumbo do to correct this problem: seat belts, pictured right.

I want to end with another note of caution. If you want your baby to reach all of his developmental milestones and not skip or miss any milestones – eliminate all restrictive devices from your home. This means jumperoos, bouncy chairs/seats, swings, and vibrating chairs. It also means limiting time in a car seat. It also means unstrap your baby from the Ergo/Baby Bjorn baby carriers and let him lie on the floor for the love of god. I love my attachment parenting parents for their sweet connection they have with their babies and for their general compassion towards child rearing. But for gods sake give them some time to explore on their own. They are a separate person after all and not attached to you physically.

Here is how you give your baby time to move his body on his own on the floor. You create an amazing baby friendly space just for him, that is safe, fun and soft. Then you put him down there, often. “But my baby cries when I lie him on his back,” many moms say. This is simply because babies are creatures of habit and he has gotten used to you sitting him up. Just start slowly a few minutes a day in your awesome baby zone that you will create in a quiet, safe part of the house. Nurseries are great for this. I recommended at least a 5X8 area rug with a blanket over it. A good rule of thumb is that it should be thick enough padding or carpet for you to roll around on and be comfortable. Next add a few toys like balls and scarfs that the baby can manipulate on his own. A silver bowl will provide hours of fun. Another amazing thing that happens if babies are placed on their backs frequently is that in no time they learn to roll over onto their bellies. This eliminates the need for forced “tummy time” which I personally never need to force on my babies. They all get there in their own time, if you let them. If you keep it up you will soon be needing to provide a gate around your baby zone because if left on their own they figure out how to crawl in no time at all!

Yes my dog is pictured above with one of my daycare babies. Even the puppy can tell how awesome and cozy and fun the baby place is. It’s amazing how much space swings and chairs and all of those restrictive devices take up. I am always shocked when I visit a house with a new baby and there is plenty of things to put the baby in but no where for the baby to lie on the floor and stretch out. My hope is that this changes that.

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A Working Mother’s Guilt

Posted - 7 January, 2014

Hi Jessica, This is Sayaka sending you a question for your blog from Japan.

“I’m a full-time working mom and have only a few hours with my two little kids at home during weekdays.
How do I deal with the feelings of guilt?”

I’m not sure if my feeling of guilt is universal or just for Japanese moms, but I feel so bad that I don’t have enough time to play with my little ones during weekdays. I’m afraid if my kids feeling sad since they’ve got a bad mom who’s out to work for ELEVEN hours.

Looking forward to reading your blog.

Best regards,


Dear Sayaka,

First of all, I just have to say how amazing you are to be asking this question. This is definitely not an issue that only affects Japanese moms but a universal problem that EVERY working mother faces. I feel in my heart deeply for you and want you to know that there is a way to conquer these gut wrenching feelings. Guilt will overcome you if you let it. Please know that by simply shining the light on this problem you are half way to its resolution. And again, you are an amazing person to be thinking about resolving this.

So here goes. In Buddhist philosophy, guilt is simply negative energy. It is one of the worst kinds of negative energies actually. The reason for this is that when you send these feelings out to your loved ones, one of two things can happen. 1) They feel your guilt on an energetic level and this brings them down. Or 2) they choose not to resonate with these feelings and then the guilt bounces off of them right back to you, doubling your feelings of guilt. It drains your energy and can really suck the life out of you.

Here is the good news. Young children and babies live in the moment. They are beings of love and simply require love to survive. Your children most likely do not resonate with your feelings of guilt, which is why you are feeling so bad (your feelings are bouncing off of them and right back to you.) The other side of this is that as long as you have put them in the hands of a loving caretaker you do not need to worry about them. The only one you have to change is yourself. This is no easy task, I know.

To start: make it a point to think about your kids throughout the day and send them LOVE. Have pictures of them around your desk. Make an alter or shrine of your love for your children and feel good when you look at it. Send them love as often as you think about them, which is probably every 15 minutes but that’s ok. Tell yourself you are not going to have negative thoughts anymore because you don’t want to affect them or yourself  negatively. Be creative and come up with a solution or plan that you know could work for you. If an alter doesn’t fit into your job, try something else. Just send them love throughout your day, all day.

In my years as a nanny I witnessed first hand the ugliness of a working mother’s guilt. In one family I worked for the mom was a school principle. She worked 12 hour days every day and would go 24 hours at times without seeing her child. When she walked into the door she had a smile on her face and went straight over to her daughter. She would pick her up and then her daughter would immediately smack her in the face. This happened often!! The little toddler could see past her moms smile and the hitting was her way of saying “Get that guilt out of my face mom!” Needless to say it was painful to watch. This mom wasn’t going to change her job, but she did have the power to change her energy.

Lastly, children actually don’t require hours a day of your one on one attention. This may sound strange but there is a parenting philosophy I really resonate with called RIE parenting. One of it’s principle theories is that children need plenty of time to play on their own uninterrupted or directed by adults. They believe in fostering independence from infancy by free play and being allowed to choose what they want to play with and how they want to play with it. Where parents fit in to RIE parenting is that when we are doing the mundane caretaking tasks like feeding, bathing, and changing we give them our FULL undivided attention. This makes for happy, loved babies that pleasantly go about their day (and moms who have time to themselves!) I don’t know if that applies to your small window that you have with them each night, but if they get a little nugget of your PRESENCE during their bath or whatever part of the nighttime routine you get with them – that is all they need!

Good luck, and I wish you all the love of your little angels!!


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Who reads parenting books anyway?

Posted - 23 October, 2013

This blog is about my journey to become an educated parent. By that I mean reading parenting books and taking parenting classes – as well as learning from other various “experts.” Today I decided to stop by my local library to see what was out there. My library is a pretty tiny branch as far as most neighborhood libraries go. I went to the area where I thought I would find what I was looking for and did not see anything. I actually had to ask for help and was escorted to the tiny section on a bottom shelf that barely filled one whole shelf. I was shocked by the tiny display of “parenting” books wedged in between the pregnancy section and the kids health section. Really? Seriously? I kept saying to myself. Here is what my local library had: Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, three volumes of a parenting guide by Gerber, Your One Year Old and Your Two Year Old which were written in the 80’s but I happen to like them, and a few others that were also outdated and not worth mentioning. I couldn’t believe that there were no “modern” parenting books out there. The closest thing I could find that was written in the past ten years was in the kids health section with many other books about autism and ADHD. This book was written by Jenny McCarthy called, Mother Warriors, where she explains how she “cured” her sons autism mostly by feeding him a gluten free diet. Ok. I guess the only new parenting books written these days are if your kid has a health concern.

Of course in the pregnancy section I found What To Expect While You’re Expecting, which I also read while I was pregnant. Even though it was written in 1984 it is still considered the pregnancy bible and is now in its fourth edition. Last year they even made a movie with the same name. I know there is What To Expect The First Year and Second Year and many more Expect books after that, but does anyone really read those? Who has time after all when you are taking care of kids! Why is it we all find ourselves reading books while we are pregnant but once our baby is born we stop? I have only ever heard of two people who read (multiple) parenting books and even took parenting classes. This was because they were overwhelmed with their difficult child. I have been there too with my first daughter and found myself reading five books on infant sleep. My daughter defied them all and it wasn’t until she was four years old that I finally found a book that was actually helpful. It’s called, Raising Your Spirited Child. It offers parents whose children are highly sensitive and perceptive ways of helping them adjust to our fast past, technology based society.

When my daughter was born my grandmother would occasionally bring up Dr. Spock’s baby care book. She said that it really was what everyone used at the time and that she referenced it often when raising her two daughters. She also said that he advised parents not to “swat” kids with their hand but to use an object like a wooden spoon instead. That way the children would associate the object negatively instead of you. Ok grandma. I looked it up and was shocked to find out that this book literally has been around since the 1950’s and that Benjamin Spock was a pediatrician born in 1903. His baby care book is in it’s ninth edition and in it’s first fifty years was the second best selling book next to the bible. It is still one of the biggest best sellers of all time. Wow.

Well, at least in the 50’s this man got parents to investigate issues that can come up when raising a child. His primary message to mothers was “you know more than you think you do.” I like this message and there is some real truth to it, but I blame him for the end of mothers educating themselves on growing a baby outside the womb. I think that it is a common belief that when you have a baby you will just “figure it out” or that your mother instincts will know what to do. But what about those of us that are not motherly. Where is the book for them? I was lucky that my mom was a very nurturing hippie type who nursed all three of us until “we were speaking sentences” as my grandmother loves to point out. I asked my dad if there were ever baby books or parenting books around the house when we were growing up. “No. Never,” he said. But then he went on to remind me that my mother was never a “self helper” and that it just wasn’t something that she would have been into, and he is right. We were all pretty easy going babies and kids from what I gather, so I guess she never really had any reason to read a parenting book. Except all three of us were completely out of control as teenagers. OUT OF CONTROL.

There was defiantly a good amount of books in this other section I saw that housed only books on controlling or speaking to teenagers. I think that if we can figure out how to have a respectful relationship with our two year old then sixteen will be easy. Oh and I did find one book that looks promising called Your Child’s Self Esteem which has a picture of a naked baby on the cover sitting in the grass. Hopefully there will be no mention of hitting kids with wooden spoons. More on this to come.

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