Cloth Diapers: Gross or Goldmine!?!?!

As a crunchy, granola, hairy-armpitted doula & birth educator, I have used cloth for all 4 of my kids. That’s 13 years of diapers, people!!!  Clients in my childbirth practice always tell me they are considering cloth.  But, what makes someone go from curious to committed?  Is it just the benefit of being able to shame other parents with their parenting perfection?

No! Cloth diapers are more than an opportunity to feel superior to the parents in the Pampers aisle.  After teaching cloth diapering classes for 8 years, I find the reasons people choose cloth are threefold: Environmental, financial and health. Influencing all three of these, is the fact that babies in cloth tend to potty train 1-2 years sooner than those in disposables! That’s less environmental impact, less money, and less time with your precious baby’s buns in a waste receptacle!  Why do babies in cloth train earlier? That is a topic for future posts and Patience Bleskan's Potty Training Class...(see that? I hooked you with a little teaser there!).  For now, let’s examine these 3 reasons...

 

 

Reason 1: Save the Whales! Hug a tree! Stop the ice melting! It’s the environment, silly!

It’s obvious that cloth is better, right? Weeeellll... there might not be such a clear winner in the cloth vs. disposables environmental race.  It all depends on how you weigh things.  Factors to consider include processing, shipping, water use and materials (cotton can be a very environmentally costly crop and is common in cloth diapers, but disposables use petroleum, absorbent chemicals and wood pulp).  But, for me, cloth still wins out.  Comparisons I’ve read equating the two leave out important factors such as disparities between disposables and cloth in potty training, the reusability of cloth, materials available beyond cotton, and water as a renewable (and treatable) resource - yes, even in Colorado where water is scarce!

 

Reason 2: Hey! Must Be The Moneeeey!

Ah, Nelly; really the best resource in natural-minded parenting, don’t you think?  Cloth diapering varies in cost depending on whether you use a service, what type of diapers you purchase, and how many.  Cost of diapering from highest to lowest: eco-friendly disposables, premium disposables or diaper service, cheap/low-quality disposables, then waaaaay lower than all else is buying and washing your own.  Seriously, the cost of disposables or a service is around $80/month, whereas the cost of washing your own works out to be about $20/month.  When you factor in the time your baby will likely potty train, and that you can reuse cloth with subsequent children, the savings is even more staggering.  There is an upfront cost to cloth that can lead to sticker shock, but after that investment, the future cost is only laundering.  And if you go with the service? You’re spending roughly the same as if you were buying disposables anyway, so why not do it for reasons 1 & 3?

 

Reason 3: Diaper Rash - It’s an Irritating Pain in the Ass!

Did you know babies in cloth tend to have less diaper rash? Why? Because disposables are so absorbent, they tend to result in less frequent diaper changes.  Convenient for parents in the short term, until baby’s butt looks like hamburger meat! Then it kind of cramps everyone’s style.  Dry does not mean sanitary! Even though a baby feels dry in a disposable, there are still tons of bacteria and moisture festering in there.  Nasty!  Also, cloth tends to be less irritating to baby’s sensitive skin.  Finally, there have been studies associating the absorbent gels in some disposables with sterility.  What?! No grandkids?!?!? That clinches it!

 

But It’s SO GROSS!!!

As my students will confirm, one of my mantras is that parenting is just figuring out what you need to do to make it through the day, and that intangible factor can sway people away from cloth.  Folks think cloth diapers are gross or that they will make a bigger mess than disposables.  Or, they just don’t want to do extra laundry.  To the former I say, ain’t no diapering system preventing the inevitable contact of your bare hand on human feces.  It’s part of being a parent and IT WILL HAPPEN. To the latter I say, use a service! Or, get enough diapers that you’ll only be doing 1-2 extra loads of laundry per week.  A baby makes laundry no matter what; disposables won’t stop that!  Cloth diapers aren’t gross.  Strapping a containment device for crap to a moving creature is gross.  There’s no escape!!!  


If you’re considering cloth and want to learn more, I encourage you to attend my monthly diapering class at The Family Room.  For more information on me and my practice, visit my websites DenverChildbirthClass.com and DenverDoulaServices.com. And, follow Ann Kaplan Childbirth Services on Facebook and childbirthkaplan on Instagram! Thanks for reading!

If you haven’t tried Craniosacral Therapy, this is why you should…

You may have heard of the very gentle form of bodywork called Craniosacral Therapy. If you have, then you know that it’s supposed to help at a minimum to calm the central nervous system. For some people it helps them with insomnia, headache and migraines, or general stress. I like to tell my clients that it expands our ability to respond to stress and stimulus, it re-patterns the brain, breaks the stress cycle, allows you to stop repetitive thought patterns, and creates the ability to feel empowered.

This technique was founded many years ago and has been developed and researched by the late Dr. John Upledger. At the Upledger Institute they have continued with Dr. John’s research and have continued to develop courses that work with the brain, fetal development and embryology, infant/pediatric care, Sensory Integration, and many more avenues of application. You can visit www.Upledger.com for more information on their programs and credentials. I am currently completing the advanced training in Obstetrics and Pediatrics.

My passion for the work began after I fractured my tailbone snowboarding. The work quickly evolved to address events that had led to a PTSD diagnosis when I was 19. Learning how this gentle technique could help my brain change the way it responds to certain stimulus was fascinating to me. Many years later after my son was born, I dealt with Postpartum Depression. I did not seek treatment at the time. After I had my daughter and experienced moments of the worst depression I had ever experienced, I finally found the resources that I needed to pull out of my mental state. The three things that I did were regular yoga and meditation, working with a naturopath, and regular Craniosacral Therapy. While I feel that each of these things made a deep and significant difference in my healing, the Craniosacral Therapy has had the most lasting effect in how I think and respond to daily situations. Meditation helped me to feel less fearful, yoga provided me with inner strength and balance, my naturopath showed me that I’m beautiful and strong while helping me create a new way of being. Craniosacral Therapy showed me how to pause, gave me the quiet that I needed to look at my situations and not react, helped me to remove belief patterns that didn’t serve me, and gave me back to me. I’m not saying that this will happen for everyone or anyone. I just know that it’s possible.

If you want to experience what’s possible, I’m offering a 3-session package for new clients and old clients that have not yet experienced Craniosacral Therapy. The 3-pack cost is $195. You can book your first session at www.bookeo.com/emilynelson or call me at 303-591-7570. I look forward to starting the journey of wellness with you. I feel honored to be able to give this gift back to my community, for without it I would still wonder what it feels like to be whole.

How Chiropractic Can Improve Your Child’s Mood and Well-Being

Pediatric chiropractic care has proven useful in many different ways to help with the spinal stresses and physical well-being for children. Chiropractic also can have a great impact on a child’s mood and behavior. According to the International Pediatric Chiropractic Association, three of the main benefits linked to pediatric chiropractic care are “improved immune system function, improved sleep, and improved moods in the children.” 


At Well Beings Chiropractic, we pride ourselves on our pediatric chiropractic care for children of all ages, from newborns to teens. The human body takes on many physical stresses throughout life, starting in the womb. In fact, pressure on the spine begins while a child is in utero, often resulting in spinal dysfunction, also known as subluxation. This causes stress on the nervous system as well, which can affect your child’s behavior. Some other causes for an imbalance within the body that are almost inevitable, include:

  • Birth
  • Learning to walk, falling down or jumping
  • Playground accidents and tumbles
  • Contact sports
  • Ill-fitting footwear

Spinal misalignments caused by these issues and others are often exacerbated by the high-stimulation world we live in and reflected through behavioral issues and disrupted sleep patterns.

For example, one young Well Beings client struggled with sensory processing. He was hyperactive and uncomfortable with physical touch or any signs of intimacy. After two and a half months of care from Dr. Jacob Fletcher at Well Beings Chiropractic, the child gained a new calmness as well as the ability to show love, his mother said.

When the spine is properly aligned, we see improvements in behavior, mood and digestion, and physical comfort in children of all ages as well as a better ability to breastfeed in infants.


We are frequently asked how old a child should be to receive chiropractic care. Our answer is almost from birth! In fact, we frequently see babies as young as a few days old. We often will care for a mother during her pregnancy and then continue care for her and her newborn post-birth. In this video we have Drs. Maura and Jacob explaing more on the topic. 


At Well Beings Chiropractic, it is our mission to help families heal, grow and thrive through chiropractic care.   If you have any questions about how chiropractic could help improve your child’s mood, or any other inquiries about our practice, please give us a call at 303.238.6500.

Sleep Training for the Sensitive Mama

*a long post about getting a baby to sleep

For most of Cyrus’s first year, he napped in my arms. He spent most of the night in my arms. 

The first six months involved the 5-S dance (I was told this would lead to my having the Happiest Baby on the Block. LOLz.). Some nights Koan would be the shusher, some nights I would. We’d try so hard to make it easier for one another; one would offer to take over while the other would be so determined to push through the screaming to the eventual silence. Those daytimes at home, I’d sit somewhere comfy for the duration of the nap. I made it through all 7 seasons of The West Wing and did a lot of phone scrolling. All of that sitting, rocking, and back-patting, I was suffocated and I was so blissful. The sweet weight of his resting self, no longer arching from reflux pain or flexing from general baby muscle-building, would trap me and it would rejuvenate me. 

Somewhere along the line, I managed to shift to putting him down on a bed, then lying next to him. At night, I’d put him on his cushion and read or scroll or type next to him on the bed, laying my hand on his belly and shushing when he stirred. We were in Alabama after Christmas when Cyrus was 6 1/2 months old when he first nursed to sleep. No more shushing and swinging, just relaxing in my arms. 

But, shortly after falling asleep, he’d wake again, crying or searching or, eventually, signing for MILK. Then an hour or two later and then an hour or two after that and so on. Some nights, just every single hour. 

We sought wise counsel and learned we needed to eliminate the first feeding, so that we would not stimulate digestion and re-waking. By just not giving in. By extinction, the nearly impossible procedure I’d prescribed to my own clients in the past. A few months later, I was ready. One night, without warning to Cyrus or to a very bewildered Koan, I just decided I was going to push through. My sweet, snuggly, determined baby cried for 70 minutes. He hadn’t started sleeping in his crib yet, so to keep him from falling off our bed in his distress and to feel like I was doing something in my doing-nothing-ness, I just held him. I told him he was going to be ok and he would be able to have milk again after a few hours and that I loved him. I sang all our good night songs while he arched and screamed and clawed at my chest. He whimpered and almost fell back asleep then ramped it all back up to level 11 out of 10. And then he fell asleep. After 70 minutes. 

The next night he cried for 15 minutes. The next night for 5. After that, he would still wake before midnight, but would easily go back to sleep with a few minutes of cuddles. 

After his first birthday, I started placing him into his crib at night. When he was tiny, Koan and I would sit in the dark on the couch, Cyrus in one of our arms, and watch a show - very quietly. Then came the months of me sitting in bed with the babe, Koan working or watching zombie shows or reading on the couch. Now, Cyrus was in his bed and we were sitting on the couch together, finally using that fancy video monitor. 

After 1 or 2 AM, when he woke for the second or third time, I’d bring him back into our bed. And the frequent waking and crying or signing or INSISTING on milk would start again. I knew it was time to start having him fall asleep in his crib on his own. We were ready, but I wasn’t sure I was ready. After all that time, I had, in fact, become attached to those sweet, sleepy moments. I wanted to move on to less frequent night wakings, but I didn’t want to lose that pure, connected time in our chair, free-flowing oxytocin and rhythmic rocking. 

Without a real plan, I started telling Cyrus that “soon” he wouldn’t fall asleep with me in the chair, but in his bed. I told him I would stay with him until he fell asleep, but that I wouldn’t pick him up. I told him he would be safe and I would be there with him. Koan told him that he would do the same, that we loved him very much, and that he would be ok. 

While working a shift at The Family Room, I overheard bits of sleep group and realized we needed to come back. We needed a real plan if we were ever going to pull the trigger. Cyrus and I went to group. We made a plan. 

Add solid, discrete, external cues. Nurse for the length of x, cover up and talk about milk “going to sleep,” cuddle for the length of y. Place baby in bed, shush and sing and pretend to sleep until he nods off.

3 days later, after more describing and warning and gearing myself up, I was up for the task. Nurse (“You Are My Sunshine” - chorus, verse, chorus), change into crew neck Noah’s Ark shirt, read books, snuggle (“I Love You Lord” - singing once, humming once), whisper “I love you just the way you are, no matter what,” then place into bed. 

The first night was hard. I was prepared for it to be hard, but my baby is such a toddler now and I wasn’t prepared for how well I would be able to empathize with him. He stood and cried and reached for me as I lay next to his crib, clapping his hands and bouncing up and down for emphasis. Being able to label this an extinction burst did not make it easy to push through. His nose ran ferociously and I sat up to wipe it. I knelt next to his crib and hugged him, his arms wrapped around my neck, his body weight collapsed against me, sniffling and catching his breath. I reminded him that I wasn’t going to pick him up, that I loved him and he was going to be ok, that it was time to lie down and rest. Three times he held the edge of the crib and tried to lie down on his back, each time hitting his head against the side, then standing again and crying angrily. Finally, after only 30 minutes, he sat in the center of the crib and lay back, sniffled hard a few times, then bravely fell asleep.

The next night he protested for about 3 minutes before lying down. Every night since then, I’ve unnecessarily lain next to him, as he’s been perfectly content to lie in his crib and fall asleep almost immediately. The duration he stays asleep has been different every night, but it’s been a success. Easier than Koan and I ever expected. 

My heart aches and swells with pride over the progress we’ve made. My baby is learning through hard work to do what some babies do naturally before they can sit up on their own. We are teaching him. We are using the resources at our disposal to make educated and loving decisions for our family. We are doing hard things. Sometimes I realize we really have no idea what we’re doing; sometimes I am so proud of what we’re doing anyway. 

Breastfeeding Support: All Families Welcome!

When I first started attending breastfeeding support groups back in 2004, with the birth of my first child, it was common to see that the adult attendance was restricted to mothers or mothers-to-be.  The reason for this was that when support groups dedicated to breastfeeding were popping up across the US in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a great deal of concern about creating a protected space where mothers who were learning how to breastfeed would be able to do so without feeling self conscious about exposing their breasts in front of men.   Things have changed in the years since those first groups started and it's become apparent that nursing works best when everyone around the nursing dyad understands how best to support them.

Consequently, while there are still support groups around town that restrict attendance to mothers or mothers-to-be and their children, the support group at The Family Room does not.  Breastfeeding works best, and families are most likely to reach their feeding goals, when families support each other as a team, and all members are educated and supported by their chosen lactation support personnel.  In some families, that means helping Dad work beyond his concerns by addressing his fears, and teaching him constructive ways to support Mom and baby through the challenging early days of breastfeeding.  For other families it means teaching Mom's wife how helpful it can be to have a second set of eyes looking for ways to adjust a latch to make it less painful.  It can mean helping a transgender Dad and his husband become comfortable with, and develop their own method for navigating chestfeeding sessions with a supplemental nursing system.  Or, it can mean supporting a breastfeeding parent and baby learning to nurse as a new family of two.

Breastfeeding works best, and families are most likely to reach their feeding goals, when families support each other as a team.

All family members deserve to be supported through their concerns that accompany those early days of nursing and to be empowered with information on how to navigate the bumps in the road.  All support persons who make up a nursing dyad's family are welcome to attend our no-cost support groups on Thursdays from 1-2pm.  

Breastfeeding Support at The Family Room is facilitated by Sara Dale-Bley, IBCLC

5 Tips to Improve Oral Motor Skills

Sensory Ideas to Improve Oral Motor Skills

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • My kid chews on the collar of their shirt
  • I notice when they are working on a project, they start to drool
  • Their mouth is always open
  • He does not like to eat certain textures of foods

Here are 5 simple tips to help improve your child’s oral motor skills. These activities help to improve their lip, cheek, mouth and tongue strength and control. 

1.     Bubbles

Blow them, pop them, clap them, jump for them, follow them with your eyes, eat them…possibilities are endless.

2.   Straws and Cups

Using straws not only works on developing the muscles of the lips, mouth and cheeks, it is also a calming action. Taking water breaks when you notice your kiddo is having a difficult moment can reset them almost immediately. 

Using open cups at mealtime is a great way to develop facial muscles and independence. Using thick liquids like yogurt or apple sauce are a great way to practice both of these skills.

3.   Chewy and Crunchy Foods

Oral stimulation or sensory input can help children change the level of alertness.  Chewy food like dried fruit, licorice, gum, bagels can help your child to become more calm. Crunchy foods like pretzels, crackers, apples, popcorn and veggies are more alerting. 

4.   Motorized Toothbrush

Make brushing your child’s teeth more fun and effective. Let them choose what character or color toothbrush they want. Not only are motorized toothbrushes more effective, they help to develop facial muscles and awareness which may help those picky eaters

5.   Gum & Lollipops

Chewing gum can help organize and calm a kiddo, especially during activities like homework. Lollipops are a great way to work on strengthening on the lips and tongue.

*Always supervise these items until you know your child can handle them safely.

 

Jill Loftus, MS, OTR/L is a practicing pediatric occupational therapist and parenting coach focused on enabling and empowering children and families. Her 15 year career working in schools, homes, clinics and the community has spurred her passion for providing child development education in a meaningful and creative way. She provides a variety of services, blogs and a weekly 5 tips newsletter that you can learn more about by visiting www.honestot.com or follow us on www.facebook.com/HonestOT/

Navigating Information Overload When You’re Expecting

You’re pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant- Congrats! I’m sure at some point, perhaps after a visit with your provider or a chat with a friend, some level of panic, excitement or curiosity swooped in, and you found yourself thinking, “now what?”

Lucky (and unlucky) for you, we live in a digital age when #alltheinformation is right at our fingertips. This means that you can easily hop onto Google or Bing (does anyone actually use Bing?) and search all of your questions, get instant feedback from a million strangers about your concerns and very quickly find yourself a victim of information overload. Unfortunately, and importantly, a LOT of the information we can find in books, blogs and websites is false or misleading, or at best, very biased. This can leave you with a laundry list of shoulds, shouldn’ts, musts and mustn’ts that can make your pregnancy experience difficult, and that might also impact your safety or the safety of your baby. So what’s a pregnant person (or their partner) to do?

There are a lot of great resources that have been vetted by some of the greatest advocates and supporters of pregnant people. Check out these sources first to get evidenced based, high quality information:

 

Check out this awesome Expecting Mom’s timeline from Choices in Childbirth, an organization dedicated to helping parents make informed choices regarding their birth.

 

Browse through the resources on Childbirth Connection, a program of the National Partnership for Women and Families that seeks to improve maternity care and maternal and child health outcomes.

 

Check out these articles from the March of Dimes about how to have a healthy pregnancy. This resource is particularly helpful if your pregnancy is high risk for preterm birth.

 

Do you have a nerdy side? Want to check out the latest research to understand what the big deal is about Cesarean Birth rates and other hot topics? Birth By the Numbers is the resource for you.

 

While internet research can be a helpful and accessible way to get information, I also strongly encourage you to take a childbirth education class that is evidence based, comprehensive and empowers you in your pregnancy and birth process. Let’s break down what each of those elements is, and why it is so important.

 

Evidence Based: An evidence based course is one that incorporates information obtained through research. This means that the recommendations made and information presented are not just from anecdotal stories, or hospital policy, or other biased sources. You want to find a class taught by an instructor who has read and understands current research about pregnancy, labor and childbirth. This instructor will be able to explain to you the WHY behind certain recommendations, explain the risks and benefits of procedures and guide you through how you might use that information to make your own best choices for your body, your baby and your birth.

 

Comprehensive: Many childbirth classes have a specific method of coping with labor that they promote and teach. If the method you pick works for you, this can be an awesome way to get through pregnancy and labor. If, however, the method you chose to learn doesn’t work for you- your teacher very likely didn’t provide you with any other tools to cope, or any additional information about what might be happening during the labor and birth process. Some classes assume that if you follow all the steps, and get the method right, you’ll have an ideal birth and won’t ever have to face the possibility of cesarean birth, pain medication or other interventions. This can be really scary and frustrating for parents who get into the intense part of labor and find they don’t have the tools or information they need.

 

A comprehensive class will not focus on any one particular coping method, but will instead provide you with information about what could happen in labor and what options you have to meet each challenge that comes up. This class will also discuss many different coping mechanisms and provide resources for you to explore the ones that you’d like to add to your “birth toolkit.”

 

Empowering: Last, and perhaps most important, you childbirth class should leave you and your support team feeling empowered to be active players in your health care. You should feel like you know which questions to ask, like you can exercise choice where possible and appropriate. You should feel like you have an idea of what alternatives might exist, and what YOU have the power to impact through your own actions and preparation. A good childbirth class will give you the information and tools you need to feel like you had power as you labored. My hope for all of my students is that through this feeling of power, agency and active participation, my clients walk away from their birth experience feeling confident, cared for and ready for the challenges of parenthood.

 

Birth matters, and not just in a fluffy, feel-good sense. Birth matters in a very tangible way. I challenge you to ask any mother of any age to tell you about the births of her children. She will recount every detail, every sensation, every emotion she experienced, whether it was yesterday or 80 years ago. Her birth experience will set the tone for her relationship with her child, her partner and herself as a new mother. Birth is how we bring forth new life and how we participate in a process that spans the entire history of our species. Birth matters, and I wish you the best birth you can have!

 

Katie Krebs teaches Birth Knowledge Childbirth Education at The Family Room, and is a passionate advocate for reproductive health rights and informed consent in medical care. Katie has a Master’s degree in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University, is the President of Kith Colorado-- a non-profit that seeks to increase access to high quality, evidence based childbirth education and early parenting support services for low-income and traditionally underserved populations--, and has written curriculum on childbirth education, breastfeeding, youth nutrition and other public health topics for organizations and businesses across the US.

Katie Krebs teaches Birth Knowledge Childbirth Education at The Family Room, and is a passionate advocate for reproductive health rights and informed consent in medical care. Katie has a Master’s degree in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University, is the President of Kith Colorado-- a non-profit that seeks to increase access to high quality, evidence based childbirth education and early parenting support services for low-income and traditionally underserved populations--, and has written curriculum on childbirth education, breastfeeding, youth nutrition and other public health topics for organizations and businesses across the US.

Join Katie for Birth Knowledge Childbirth Education at The Family Room this month (August 17, 19, 20) or next (Tuesdays, Sept 6-27 6-9pm).

 

Support for the Baby Blues

No one wants to admit they have the “Baby Blues” - the stress, the anxiety, frustration, feeling of loss (of self), the isolation or any of the number of feelings one gets after giving birth, and occasionally before. There are a number of women who don’t get the blues, or some for only a short time. For many others, it lasts much longer than a few weeks, or like me, it shows up later. It can feel utterly consuming.

We envision so much joy in having children in our lives, and yet no one can truly tell new parents how much will change in their lives. No amount of reading books, taking classes, or reading fun blog articles can prepare you for the explosion in your emotional spectrum when a baby arrives. If your foundation isn’t complete to support not only the emotional and physical changes that will come your way but the hormonal chaos as well, then it might be a good idea to look for some opportunities to support your well-being and create a community for that.

There are a number of postpartum support groups starting up around the country, as well as postpartum or “mommy-and-me” activity groups. (Daddy-and-me groups are a little on the slow side.) What I find myself telling parents, especially those with challenging babies is to take a break where baby isn’t part of it and do it either alone or with your partner. I remember the times when I was able to go to the grocery store sans family. It was absolute heaven. I stood in the beauty aisle smelling lotions for easily ten minutes just taking in something different. It’s imperative to support yourself and your partner in time needed for self-care.

This isn’t always easy, and taking time away from baby isn’t always what’s best for you. If you thrive on the fuel that being around others provides and being with baby isn’t what triggers you, then group classes with the mommy-and-me theme may be a great option. If you’re more of an introvert and quiet time feeds your soul, then check out a yoga class with babysitting available.

Whatever it is, you must honor yourself throughout the transitions of parenthood. Not only will you be a better parent in general, but you’ll be teaching your children how to take care of themselves, honor boundaries, and that community from an introverted or extroverted place is necessary for a sense of wholeness. It’s when we’re scattered and frayed that life is so uncomfortable. Sew up the edges with the healing balm that serves you best and the Baby Blues will be much easier to navigate.

 

Emily Nelson, MA, RMT is a Craniosacral Therapist specializing in Obstetrics and Pediatrics, and also teaches gentle/postpartum yoga, currently at The Family Room in Wheat Ridge, CO. You can learn more about her at www. LivingConsciously.MassageTherapy.com. She has two children, and has successfully found her way around the Baby Blues into a fulfilling life of parenthood.

You Spin Me Right Round Baby, Right Round!

UP-DOWN-ANGULAR-CIRCULAR-FAST-SLOW

Sensory Processing can be complex to explain. Very simply, it is the way we take in, process and have a response to stimuli in our every day life. Many parents, educators and caregivers have questions about the kiddos who are clumsy and uncoordinated or who avoid movement and seem fearful. This may be due to the way their VESTIBULAR system responses. Vestibular input is just a fancy term to describe your movement sense. It is located in your inner ear and sends messages to your brain about where you are in space. This system affects vision, gravity, balance, orientation in space, posture and muscle tone. 

The vestibular system has 3 canals:

Horizontal - detects rotations around vertical axis like spins when ice skating

Anterior - forward and backward movement like nodding

Posterior - frontal plane movement like cartwheeling

A healthy vestibular system is central to the integration of the other sensory systems. When a child’s vestibular system is not functioning correctly, he may be under responsive or overly sensitive to movement. He may either need to move constantly to feel satisfied or he may be fearful of movement because it makes him feel insecure and unbalanced. He may move in an uncoordinated, clumsy manner, bumping into things, falling, and never fully walking or sitting in an upright manner. This is the child that slouches at his desk or is constantly being directed to “stand up straight” or “quit leaning on the wall!”  He may appear weak or “floppy.”

As a result, he might have difficulty coordinating and planning motor tasks such as jumping jacks, skipping, catching a ball with two hands, or reaching across the center of his body (crossing midline), or even coordinating movements of the mouth, resulting in difficulty with speech production.

For a parent, caregiver or educator to have a better sense of what sensory information their child may need, you may want to consult with a pediatric occupational therapist to get more customized information.

Some activities to help improve vestibular function may include:

*Spinning - Make sure you balance the body and spin equal times to the right and left sides

*Upside down - head stands are perfect!

*Merry go round or an office chair work!

*Swinging- Go to the playground or your backyard play structure

*Tumbling/Rolling - forward rolls and log rolls

*Jumping on a trampoline, the bed or off an elevated surface

*Sliding

*Rocking 

*Balancing by walking on a curb or finding materials that are narrow to make a balance beam

Jill Loftus, MS, OTR/L is a practicing pediatric occupational therapist focused on enabling and empowering children and families. Jill is teaching a 6 week workshop for preschool-age children starting this Thursday, July 7 at The Family Room. She will also be subbing for Patience Bleskan for all play groups the week of July 11!

Dancing For Birth

What is Dancing For Birth™ About?
You don’t have to be a dancer to love this class! Founded in 2001, Dancing For Birth™ is the leading global class for pregnant and new moms. We are the “trifecta” of birth preparation: feel-good prenatal fitness, essential birth wisdom, and support of pregnancy, birth, and mothering, all rolled into a weekly 90 minute class that supports you from preconception to postpartum! This childbirth education and pre/postnatal fitness fusion was created by USA’s National Birth Hero, Founder, Stephanie Larson. The classes are currently offered on four continents. Birth professionals and moms alike swear by our signature moves like “Dilation Gyration” and use them during labor to make birth shorter, easier and safer.

 

Re-imagine Birth
What if you could harness gravity to your advantage during labor? How much more effective will birth be when you utilize the pushing position that as much as doubles the size of your pelvic outlet for ease of birth? How would your birth plans change if you knew how to move your body in order to correct your baby’s breech or posterior position? Dancing For Birth™ Founder, renowned birth expert Stephanie Larson, has innovated an effective new way to birth that makes all this possible. Join a weekly Dancing For Birth™ class now and gain support that extends all the way through the pregnancy, birth and postpartum. With each class, you’ll learn techniques that support a safer, easier birth, and you’ll increase your confidence for empowered, enjoyable birth and mothering.

Why Dance?
Dancing is a fun and gentle exercise that everyone can enjoy, even if you’ve been told you have two left feet! This is the perfect time to connect with your body and your baby through movement and awareness. You have primal and powerful birth instincts within you, awaiting activation. You’ll be surprised at the numerous benefits for your pregnancy, your birth, your baby and your postpartum recovery. Click on the posters below to learn how attending Dancing For Birth™ classes can help you to feel great during pregnancy, improve fetal wellness, have an empowered and easier birth, and bond with your newborn while you get back in shape.

Classes are held on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at The Family Room. If you enjoy the class and want to continue with the series, join me for weekly classes Wednesdays at 6:00 pm. There are discount package rates available. Drop in rate is $14/class. The Family Room has a new location in Wheat Ridge. Connect with your baby, your family and your community.  The Family Room exists to provide high-quality evidence-based education and support services to families with young children.

Questions? Call me! 314.620.8767 or email me!

Keeping Your Pups Busy with a New Baby!

So, as many of you know I, Carolyn, recently had my first child.  Which is why I am MIA for the last year.  Funny how quickly they suck up all your free time.


Speaking of free time, my pets have been very frustrated by the lack of attention. We try our best to get out but sometimes we just don't have the time. I love using enrichment activities for when we are really swamped (For example that first 6 weeks after the kiddo was born). "Enrichment activities" is a fancy way of saying entertaining your animal.

Food is a great reward and motivator. Your pet will work long and hard to get a super yummy treat.  We take advantage of that determination to keep our pets busy for a long period of time.



Pupcicles are easy to make, and you can make a bunch so you can pull them out as needed.  Like when all your baby wants to do is nurse for the next 8 hours.  Cluster feeding, who knew that was a thing?

  • Tupperware popsicle holders or Dixie cups

  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin

  • ¼ cup peanut butter

  • dog treats

Mix together wet ingredients until smooth.  

Spoon into tupperware or dixie cups

Add dog treat as popsicle stick

Freeze

Give as needed to your pups

I cover this and more in my class "Prep your Pet for Baby" taught at The Family Room.  Call today to sign up 303 356 6244. Our next offering will be Sunday, June 26 at 10am. Classes regularly take place on the 4th Sunday of each month.

The Gay Virgin Homebirth

From Melita Schwartz, LMT, RYT, CEIM of Catalyst Healthy Solutions

There is one comment my midwife made during the arduous 29 hour home birth of my son that sticks with me to this day.  I’m pretty sure my midwife had never attended the birth of a child of a same-sex couple.  However, I deeply desired a home birth and she had been birthing babies for longer than I had been alive.  We were in small town Arizona but, in many ways, I finally had a practitioner who I felt completely confident in.  I totally trusted her ability to bring my son into the world without drugs or unnecessary interventions.  My blood pressure relaxed around her and she never wavered in her steady, confident demeanor.  Even several hours into pushing, I knew she still had faith that we were doing women’s work and that my body was built for this.  

"Birth of the Virgin," De Beers, 1520

"Birth of the Virgin," De Beers, 1520

But, then came the comment.  It was during the manual scraping of my cervix which never effaced fully.  That is an extremely painful procedure as it stands.  But, adding insult to injury, she said “I never thought about it before, but this is like pushing a baby out of a virgin.”  I still catch my breath when I think of this moment.  We were all tired.  We had been in the water, on the ball, on walks for over 20 hours at this point.  I’m sure, in her mind, she was trying to think of all the things that were in the way of this baby coming out.  But inherent in her ignorant comment were two beliefs: a) that I had never had sex with a man and was therefore a virgin and b) that sex with men somehow helps babies come out easier.  I remember thinking, in my vulnerability, that perhaps I should have done exercises to stretch my vagina!  I wasn’t angry at the time.  I was becoming a mother and I instantly thought of what I could have sacrificed in myself to make this process easier for my baby.  

I’m not really angry about it now either.  There is a serious lack of training and knowledge for birth professionals working with non-hetero or non-cisgender couples.  I know that.  So, why does this one comment stick?  Does one ignorant statement disregard an otherwise beautiful home birth?  What could I do to make a difference for the next person?

In answer to these questions and more, I have devoted my life’s work to helping new parents and parents-to-be feel confident, safe, and healthy.  While Colorado may be light years ahead of Arizona, there is still a need for support around the things that can come up when we create a family that doesn’t look like a Norman Rockwell painting.  That is why I am happy to facilitate that Family Group here at the Family Room for those of creating beautiful families who also desire community and connection with someone who has been there or somewhere similar.  

Please join us the first Sunday of the month from 2-4.  Also, please join us at the LGBTQI Family Resource Fair on Sunday, June 5th from 2-4!!  Here is a link to the Facebook Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1760745254211674/

 

Melita Schwartz is a Postpartum Doula and Prenatal Massage Therapist with more than 12 years of experience working with the LGBTQI Community.

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sugar in Your Child's Diet

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sugar in Your Child’s Diet -- by Lesley Herrmann, CNC of Awakened Taste

Processed sugars leave a sour taste in my mouth! Many studies have shown that childhood diabetes, obesity, and ADHD are directly related to the amount of sugar in the diet. Hyperactivity, behavioral issues, sleep disturbance, susceptibility to sickness, and difficulty focusing, although less mainstream but definitely more common, also have ties to sugar intake. Many issues can be resolve when we change the diet. By minimizing sugar, our kids can experience less sick days, fewer cavities, healthy body weight, focus in school, and a better night’s sleep. But sugar is not easy to avoid. It can be hidden in everything from yogurt to tomato sauce to bread to lunch meat… 

Take for example a typical cold lunch: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread, a cup of apple sauce, and a juice box. Surprisingly, this “healthy” lunch adds up to roughly 75 grams of sugar (about 18 teaspoons)! That’s more than four Twinkies! (Read more at Parents Magazine.)

Here are five ways to reduce sugar in the diet and prevent its negative effects on the body:

1) Remember to balance: Balance every meal and snack by including clean protein, healthy fat, and colorful carbohydrates. By balancing our meals, we avoid sharp spikes in blood sugar, which eventually lead to energy crashes and cranky moods. The lunch example above can be balanced by replacing peanut butter and jelly with turkey and cheese, replacing the apple sauce with sliced apple for added vitamins and fiber, and throw in a few cashews to boost healthy fats and protein. 

2) Make it yourself: Not all sugar is created equally. White sugar is different than raw honey both in nutrients and in the effect on blood sugar levels. Refined white sugar is made from genetically modified sugar beets and can contain pesticide and herbicide residue.  In the manufacturing process, all other nutrients have are stripped away, leaving only sucrose (the simplest form of sugar) behind. Raw honey, molasses, grade B maple syrup, and dried fruit sweeten just as well and contain minerals and enzymes to that help the body process the sugar. These sweeteners also have less effect on blood sugar levels. Buy unsweetened yogurt and add your own vanilla and honey or maple syrup. Make your own cupcake frosting using honey, coconut oil, and creamy almond butter. Stir up homemade granola with dried fruit, maple syrup, and cinnamon. 

3) Avoid juices, sports drinks, and soda: Beverages have sweet tastes, but sour effects on the body! For example, 8 oz of Juicy-Juice raspberry apple juice contains almost 30 grams of sugar! Even though it’s 100% juice, the processing and pasteurization destroys most of the fruits’ healthy properties. You’re left with a beverage that has just as much sugar as soda! Sports drinks and other flavored juice drinks, like Capri Sun, have added refined sugar, food colorings, and other unnecessary flavorings.  If giving up juice is out of the question, try Honest Kids juice pouches, made from organic and non-GMO ingredients. They have 9 grams of sugar per 6.75 oz serving.  VitaCoco brand, a coconut water based juice, has a variety of tropical flavors. These products have quite a bit of sugar (15 grams per 8 oz serving) so add 1 part juice to 1 part San Pellegrino for a sparkling treat.  Another option is to make your own iced herbal tea. Sweeten with licorice root, stevia leaves, dates, maple syrup, or honey. See the recipe below for date ginger tea. 

4) Add sweetness by adding fresh fruit: Fresh fruit is a great way to satisfy the sweet tooth! Fruit contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that work together to deliver nutrients and stabilize blood sugar.  Fruit is a whole-food and 100% pure goodness.

5) Be a sugar detective: Become aware of what products contain added sugar and find alternatives that have less or no added sugar. Keep in mind, some foods have natural sugars, like the tomatoes in tomato sauce, so check the ingredient list for added sugar. Watch out for the following ingredients: sugar, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup. Look at portion size and the amount of sugar per serving. Remember if one slice of bread has 5 grams of sugar, you’re getting 10 grams in a whole sandwich, just from the bread alone (over 2 teaspoons).

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce sugar in the diet, join Healthy Meals for Families on the Go at the Family Room. This three-week workshop offers easy, delicious ways to create fun meals and snacks for the whole family! The next session runs Thursday evenings, July 7th - 21st. You’ll receive recipes, nutrition education, and an opportunity to get your questions answered. We’ll also do demonstrations each night so you can explore new flavors. Childcare is provided by the Family Room. You can also stay informed on other events, new recipes, and nutrition insight by subscribing to my monthly newsletter. 

Cheers to your health!

Lesley

Date and Ginger Tea

50 oz water (purified recommended)

10-12 dates

4” piece of ginger, sliced

½ organic lemon, sliced

Add water, dates, and ginger to a large kettle and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. 

Remove from heat and allow tea to cool slightly. Transfer to a large jar and add lemon. Allow to cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator. 

Mix tea with carbonated San Pellegrino (2:1 ratio). Add a garnish of fresh mint leaves (optional). 

NOTE: Adjust ratios to your liking. You may enjoy more lemon, more ginger, or more sweetness. Play with the amount of ingredients until you find what you like best. 

Hand-Up-Hand Bags : Purses With a Purpose

We are proud to announce that The Family Room is a partner in the Hand-Up-Hand Bags Drive this May to celebrate moms escaping from domestic violence situations.

The Family Room and The Family Tree are partnering to help collect new or gently used purses and handbags to donate to the women and their children who are a part of The Family Tree’s programs. The Family Tree is the only non-profit organization in the Denver metro area working to address the interconnectedness among child abuse and neglect, domestic violence and homelessness. Within the last year, Family Tree provided services to nearly 24,000 people in the Denver metro area.

The Family Room is an inclusive community resource center for families, no matter their size, shape, sex or color. The organization brings educational events and programs to help parents and parent-figures be the best they can be. The offer breastfeeding support, sleep advice, play groups, film screenings, infant sign language, meditation, yoga and more.

We are participating in the drive and we couldn’t be more excited to present these deserving moms (many of them homeless) with a purse stuffed with goodies. Please feel free to donate as many as you like. We are accepting donations 10am -2pm Monday through Saturday. 

Items that are highly in demand to stuff the purses and bags:

  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Soap/Lotion

  • Brushes/Combs/Hair Ties

  • Deodorant

  • Toothpaste

  • Razors/Shaving Cream

  • Makeup/Jewelry (everyone deserves something fun too!)

  • Toys/Diapers

  • Gift cards to Office Depot (to make copies for resumes, etc.)

  • Gift cards in General (food, especially)

  • Band Aids/First Aid Items/Cough Drops/Ibuprofen

  • Diva cups/Feminine Products

  • Books/Pens/Magazines

For more information, contact Heidi at 303-356-6244 to coordinate your donation drop-off or contact Kim Johnson at 303-638-8042 to learn about the program, participating businesses and additional drop-off locations. Additional drop-off locations and hours can also be found by clicking this link.

We will be collecting stuffed purses/handbags through the entire month of May to celebrate moms. Thank you in advance for your kind generosity!

Happy Occupational Therapy Month! || A Pediatric OT Primer from Jill Loftus

By Jill Loftus

April is Occupational Therapy Month!

What is Pediatric Occupational Therapy?

Pediatric occupational therapists or OTs get to work and play with children, while collaborating with families, caregivers, and educators to promote occupation or meaningful activities that support the health, well-being, and development of a child. By identifying and meeting the needs of children, organizing and adapting the environment to support a child’s performance, modeling and teaching skills and strategies, we can optimize the child’s independence and participation in all aspects of daily life tasks. Our training is based on the foundation of science and rehabilitation, blended with a rich understanding of child development and a holistic, client centered approach in the home, school and community setting.

Pediatric occupational therapists can help with a wide range of skills. Let’s look at the most common areas pediatric occupational therapists address.

Development

The primary occupations of infants, toddlers, and young children are playing, learning, and interacting with caregivers and, eventually, their peers. We look at the whole child by looking at their physical development of their big muscles (jumping and climbing) and small muscles (coloring, cutting and handwriting); how their eyes and hands work together; how they participate in their day to day routine like getting dressed, eating, bathing; how they take in and process sensory information like touch, body movement and awareness, sights and sounds, smell/taste; learning to cope and regulate with various situations and promoting social skill development. 

Education

Occupational therapy practitioners work with students in preschool, and elementary, middle, and high school to support successful learning, appropriate behavior, and participation in daily routines and activities. Services can be provided under the federal programs. Practitioners also support children as they transition throughout the school environments, such as from preschool to kindergarten. In addition, OTs work closely with classroom teachers and administration to provide education, tools and modifications for successful student experiences.

Injury

When a child experiences a serious illness or injury, medically based or rehabilitative occupational therapy services may be provided. These services are developmentally appropriate and may emphasize physical skills to increase movement, strength, and/or coordination; and adaptive skills or equipment to address deficits in cognitive and executive function, strategies to integrate sensory information, visual motor and perception, and the ability to form appropriate social and interpersonal relationships, with a goal of improving the child’s functional performance and independence.

Emotional-Behavioral

Occupational therapy practitioners have training in psychosocial and mental health conditions and are well suited to address children’s emotional and behavioral needs as they relate to everyday activities and social interactions. For example, occupational therapy practitioners help children develop the ability to cope with challenges, and to use calming strategies to deal with frustration, defuse anger, and manage impulsivity in order to succeed at individual tasks and collaborative interactions at home, at school, and in the community. OTs provide education and coaching support for parents and caregivers as well.

As children grow older, skills for success in independent living become essential. Occupational therapy practitioners address self-determination and self-advocacy skills, along with the transition into adult roles.

Active participation of caregivers and families in their children’s lives is crucial to helping them achieve their greatest potential. If you would like to dive deeper into your child’s development and/or functional performance abilities, caregivers can consult with their physician, local health clinic, hospital outpatient clinic, or educational service district to request an occupational therapy referral.

If you would like to learn more about your child’s development, sign up for a workshop at The Family Room.

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Get honest tips to your inbox by visiting Honest Occupational Therapy.

Why go to a meditation group....?

By Wendy Ray

Everybody has heard that meditation is good for you.  It relieves stress, creates peace and, well, is sometimes just something that is way down on our to-do lists.  We can meditate on our own, so why come to a group to meditate?

One thing that I have often heard from people who come to our Monday morning group is that the meditation time we have on those mornings is the only chance they find in their busy mothering week to sit down to meditate.  Good intentions of meditating while our children nap often get trumped by all the things we need to get done.  Still, they report that even that one time a week is worth it. 

Another reason to come to a group for meditation is that for most, the experience is deeper—or more simply put, it works better.  We all have that monkey mind that wants to stay busy no matter what we are doing, but being in the presence of others somehow seems to allow our minds to quiet just a little bit more.

Lastly, it is a chance to be with others while our children are being well-cared for in the next room.  A much needed respite and a wonderful (dare I say powerful?) way to start the week. 

If this calls to you at all, please come to The Family Room Monday mornings at 10am.  It is an open, warm and easy environment.  All we do is take time to practice being still together.

Sibling Love || from Rebecca Peterson's "Sacred Breaths" blog

This beautiful letter was written by Rebecca Peterson to her daughter Everly. Rebecca teaches Birthing a Baby with a Little Something Extra: Preparing to Birth a Baby with Extra Needs at The Family Room. 

My lovely Everly,
Last night we gave you and your brother a bath together. We often do this - for many reasons - mainly because it gets you both clean quickly and you have fun while you do it. There. I'm a lazy mom. I said it.

During your baths I frequently have to remind your almost 5 year-old brother that you're a baby, that he can't squeeze you so hard and no, he can't pour water over your head. He is so in love with you, Everly. When I see that love in all its forms, I beam. It's so pure and fierce! 

However, last night, he decided to try and help me rinse you and it was a little too close to your face, so I got scared and yelled at him to back up. It made him cry big alligator tears. Rightly so. As Daddy finished your bath with the lotion and pajamas, I stayed with your brother to work things out. As he took deep breaths, I validated that being a big brother can be hard at times. To know what to do or not to do all the time. We spoke for a bit about the ways that he is really gentle with you and how much he has learned in this last year.

And then...he got really sad for a moment and said, "I really like when she squeaks. I'm afraid that when she turns "1" she won't make that sound anymore and I will miss that." As tears streamed down both of our cheeks, I realized we were both carrying sentimental feelings for a year gone by too quickly and celebrating the joy that you bring just by being you. I acknowledged that I feel that way whenever he grows bigger too - and doesn't continue to do the cute things I wished he would always do.

Photo by Joel Peterson

Photo by Joel Peterson

How could I have really worried how you having Down syndrome would affect him? Before you were here, I jumped ahead 5, 10, and 20 years and worried about the impact of having a little sister with a disability would affect him and I worried it would be too much. As I look at your connection and the joy and love that is both tender and crazy wild between you, I continue to let go of worry. 

You chose well my little beautiful lady. Your big brother is the sweetest, kindest soul of a brother you could have chosen and he loves you with such a fierceness that even I can't touch. And I trust that in time, he will be your biggest advocate and love.

Birthing a Baby with a Little Something Extra is a 4 week course at The Family room. Our next session starts April 20 and the summer session will begin June 22. We meet on Wednesdays at 6:30pm. More info on Rebecca can be found at her website Sacred Breaths

Am I A Boy?

By: Anonymous

When I was little, I was a pretty cute kiddo! I was the first child of my parents and the first grandchild, so my family was pretty head over heels when I came around. But, being the only child thus far in the family, I had a lot of sorting out to do and one involved gender (a very confusing topic for a wee one!).

I never had thought about it before until I entered Kindergarten. I also hadn’t been teased yet. Oh boy, what a fun day this memory was….. I was at school with my cute pixie cut and the kids just started laying into me...on the first day of school of course too.

Walking home from school in tears, I arrived at our family home and asked my mom, “Mom, am I a boy?” The look in her eyes was a little daunting as I could tell even then that I was about to learn something.

My mom put me in the bathtub for my nightly wash and gently explained the different parts of girls and boys. Confused as hell still, I understood a lot more than I did in the beginning, and no, I found out that I was not a boy. And, my mom started letting me grow my hair a little longer.

I don’t exactly remember how she explained it to me, but I remember that she did it in a way that was not scary, not intimidating and gave just enough information for my little brain to handle.

Talking to your kids about sex and gender is always an awkward moment. No way around that. But, instead of going at it alone and second-guessing yourself and your approach, why not take some tips from an expert?

The Family Room owner, Patience Bleskan, is offering a course to help navigate the topic. Check it out and sign up today! Register and get more info here: www.patiencebleskan.com/sexually-healthy-households.

 Sexually Healthy Households is a 2 part workshop that takes place on Saturday, April 2 and Saturday, April 9 at 5:30pm. Child care is provided.