Over the Christmas period many of us travel with children. In Australia that often means a long car journey to the country or coast, with the car loaded up. In our busy schedules we give little thought to the journey itself, but travelling with children, especially newborns and toddlers can create problems if you haven’t made some simple preparations. In this pre-Christmas blog we thought it would be timely to provide some tips and reminders so that the journey goes smoothly – even if the unexpected happens.
Car and safety
It goes without saying that you need to have the basics checked on the car! Tyres, brakes and steering are obvious, but make sure the air con is properly gassed up, too. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre has air and you have the car jack and a brace in the boot! Remember that there can be traffic jams or accidents in front of you, and delays may stretch to hours if you’re unlucky. That can spell trouble if you’re travelling with children, particularly on a hot day. You need to be prepared for the unexpected.
Child Booster Seats
The most important thing is safety. New national child restraint laws were introduced in NSW 2010. Here is a summary of what’s required:
• Children younger than six months must be secured in a rearward facing restraint.
• Children aged six months to under four years must be secured in either a rear or forward facing restraint.
• Children aged four years to under seven years must be secured in forward facing child restraint or booster seat.
• Children younger than four years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows.
• Children aged four years to under seven years cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in a child restraint or booster seat.
Make sure the restraints and booster seats are correctly secured and are the right size for older children. Don’t let children wriggle out!
Travelling with a Baby
Most babies travel really well and will probably sleep most of the way. The motion of the car often sends them to sleep. But if they wake, or they get car sick, then you need to have some basics on hand.
• Make sure you have enough milk or baby food not just for the journey, but for any unexpected delays. If your car breaks down, you could be hours waiting for roadside assistance during holiday periods;
• Make sure you have water and plenty of wet wipes. This is useful for cleaning up any mess, but you can also use both to help keep them cool. Strip them down to their nappy and wipe them with a wet cloth. As the moisture evaporates from the skin it takes heat from the skin to do so. Simple and very effective. If they are cool they are less likely to be so irritable;
• Make sure they have something to play with to keep them occupied;
• It sometimes helps to have a shade on the side window to keep the sun off them, too.
Travelling with Toddlers
The main issues with toddlers are restlessness and carsickness. For restlessness, distractions like “I spy” can work for a surprisingly long time! Books are often not a good idea because focusing on something static inside the car while it’s moving means the motion sensors in their ears get confused. That’s the basics of motion sickness. If they are sick, get them to look outside the car, keep them cool.
Some children will benefit from taking a motion sickness preparation prior to travelling. Seek some advice from your pharmacist on what’s best for their age.
Remember to take clean up materials and water in case the worst happens. Don’t have the children travel in their best clothes! It is much better to stop somewhere safe for 20 minutes and let them run around than to press on and spend 30 minutes cleaning up a nasty mess in the car! Let them kick a ball around, or look at cows in a field. But do take a change of clothes and a couple of good sized bags to put the soiled clothes in! Just in case.
To keep toddlers entertained, a little bag of surprises can help a lot. If your child doesn’t get sick, a small pack of crayons and a pad can be useful. You can pull out a few favourite toys they didn’t know you had.
Take along plenty of healthy snacks for the journey. These will keep them going without filling them up with junk and fizzy drinks that really don’t help. Check out Bellamy’s Certified Organic dried fruit snacks for real convenience, or take fresh fruit. Apples are simple and easy on the stomach. Take drink bottles that are sealable rather than large bottles that are not. Stick to water if you can.
Finally, remember to factor in that the trip will take you much longer than it would for four adults! Make sure your (male..!) driver knows this so he doesn’t get frustrated and there isn’t an argument about stopping along the way! Travelling with children doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Manage the expectations! The journey is part of the holiday, so keep cool and stay safe.
And from everyone here at Bellamy’s, thank you for all your support and have a wonderful Christmas break.
“Around the United States, thousands of toddlers are eating single-use laundry detergent packets, thinking the colorful nuggets are candy, reports TodayHealth.com. Because the detergent in the packets is so concentrated, the children are experiencing the symptoms of a stomach virus: vomiting, sleepiness and trouble breathing. Most of the 2,950 reported cases have resolved themselves naturally, but some of the under-fives have had to be admitted to the hospital for breathing issues”.
This story about child safety from the US got us thinking about toddler safety in general and how quickly they can get themselves into trouble, so this blog isn’t about baby food, it’s a reminder about things to look out for in the home and some do’s and don’ts.
The first thing to remember is that Toddler World all happens 1.3 metres below yours! They see things at their eye level that you don’t worry about. The sharp corners of coffee tables come to mind. If your toddler is at the age where they are holding onto table edges, you might want to consider covering the corners for a month or two. You can buy corner covers, or just make some out of thick cardboard and tape them on when you need them.
Chemicals in household items
Being down that low means you’re just the right height to get into the cupboard under the sink! In our house that’s basically a chemistry set. Virtually everything in there is poisonous. Fortunately, practically all poisons now have child-proof stoppers, but you can see from the story that not all poisons are liquid. You don’t want your little one chewing a Finish power ball! They look great with the red ball in the middle, but they are, of course, made from a powerful alkali, sodium hydroxide. Great for greasy dishes, but very nasty on eyes and mouths. Make sure that you have inexpensive child-proof latches fitted to all those lower cupboards where you store that stuff. And never, ever, store anything in old soft drink containers. Children know that the contents of those containers taste good and they do not have child-proof caps so it’s important for child safety that you don’t store anything harmful in them.
If your child does ingest something, read the label for instructions if you know what it is, and in Australia call Poisons Information Centre Emergency line on 131126.
The next obvious one is the stove-top. Even small children can reach up to grab things you may not expect. Get into the habit of always turning the pan handles around so that they do not project over the front of the stove. Remember that boiling water and hot fat produce burns that can disfigure for life. For these sort of extensive burns seek medical help immediately. Remember that bath water can be a major child safety risk, too. Turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater (which on average is set to 700) or have a special bath tap fitted. It only takes 10 seconds for water at 550 to cause third degree burns, but 5 minutes at 500.
DO NOT immerse an extensive burn in cold water; this may cause the person to go into shock. For smaller burns, wash and cool the area under cold running water until the skin returns to normal temperature (up to 20 minutes for a thermal burn, at least 20 minutes for a chemical burn). If this is not possible apply a cold-water compress.
DO NOT use iced water as this can worsen the injury.
DO NOT over-cool the person, especially if they are young or if the burn covers a large area.
NEVER use butter, oils or ointments to cover the burn, as they may retain the heat.
SEE A DOCTOR as soon as possible if burns involve the face, hands, feet, genitals or bottom, or if the burnt area is larger than a twenty-cent piece.
Finally the pool. My best child safety tip here is to teach your child to swim as soon as they can walk. The Royal Life Saving Society said today that many children leaving primary school are not able to swim 50 metres or float for 2 minutes. In Australia, that’s a real problem.
We had our own close shave when my wife and I were standing pool-side with two friends. Our little one got out of the pool, took off her floaties and then unthinkingly slipped back in. No splash, no noise. Only when I looked down did I see her sinking quietly. I pulled her out and she was fine, but that is the stuff of nightmares! So, if you have a pool, keep the gate shut and be on hand at all times to supervise. By the way, one month later, after lessons, Alexandra could swim.
Well that was a harrowing piece to write and maybe not so easy to read, but I think it’s a good reminder to be vigilant to keep your little one out of harms way and be mindful of child safety at all times. Mental note to self: have a cup of tea and then check under the sink!
If you have ever wondered why there is a general prohibition on the use of antibiotics in the organic supply chain, a study of baby food published by the University of Almeria (UAL) in Spain may provide the answer.
A report in the Food Chemistry journal showed that researchers had detected residues of antibiotics given to livestock in various samples of baby food made in Europe. Antibiotics, such as tilmicosine, or antiparasitic drugs, such as levamisole, are given to livestock in order to avoid illness but they can remain later in food. Although the concentration levels were very low, “it shows the need to control these products to guarantee food safety” said Antonia Garrido, Professor of Analytical Chemistry at UAL.
The study, which was conducted in Europe, highlights the importance of a zero-tolerance policy to veterinary drugs in food, as they can cause allergic reactions, resistance to antibiotics and other health problems.
So what can you do to ensure your food is safe?
We would recommend only choosing to eat organic foods wherever possible because animals must be free from antibiotics under certified organic farming.
Always check the label to make sure you are buying certified organic. That means you can be sure it has been audited and accredited.
Where you can, choose meat and meat products from Australia only. Australia has a zero tolerance policy where, for example, the European Commission has not regulated the levels of pesticides and other substances in animal based foods.
Obviously there is no cause for alarm, but it is another reminder of how invasive some of these chemicals can be to our food supply. It’s another reason why organic food, especially organic baby food, is a good choice as part of the diet for health conscious families. Bellamy’s Organic baby food range is produced in Australia from certified organic produce.
If you’d like to know more about Bellamy’s Organic baby formula, cereals and our other products click on this link. It will take you straight to our on-line store.
In response to a recent question on how to get a baby to move from breast to bottle, I thought it might be useful to look at a couple of things that mums might try. Whether you want to express breast milk for bottle feeding or using a baby formula, move to full time bottle feeding or would just like your baby to take a bottle on some occasions because it’s more convenient for both of you, here are some tips to help give your baby the nutrition it needs.
Sometimes babies just don’t want the bottle! This could be because they don’t like the feel of the teat in their mouths at first, or the flow from that teat might not be what they’re used to. So the first thing is to try a couple of different shaped teats and to ask for teats with different flow rates. The difficulty with the later is that different manufacturers have different rates, so “slow” for one may not be the same for another.
Remember also that the taste of formula is different to breast milk. Breast milk is a living liquid and the taste and texture of formula is different. You might like to try expressing some breast milk and making the first bottle feeds with what your baby is used to. At Bellamy’s, we’ve had a lot of mothers tell us that trying Bellamy’s Organic Baby Formula tastes good, but that won’t work for everyone.
At the first session, make sure you and baby are relaxed, in a comfortable position holding your baby close to your chest (as you would in a breast feed). Some Mums also offer some skin contact as a way of connecting to your baby.
Tilt the bottle and gently slide the teat of the bottle across your babies mouth, stimulating her to open her mouth. Hopefully, baby will latch on, and learn to suck from a teat. If it does not work first time, relax, and start again.
If you are using formula, toward the end of the bottle you may see some froth. This is perfectly normal, but you should stop feeding at the point where there is no liquid left for your baby to drink.
Finally, from personal experience we know you have to persevere with some of these changes. Obviously there is a high comfort factor in breastfeeding and not so much from a bottle, so with some babies you have to just keep trying!
On the other hand some babies take really well to a bottle, because it can be less work for them. Just remember bottle feeding can make it really hard for baby to go back to the breast as it does require a different mouth action, so consider the move to a bottle carefully and understand the implications.
We all do what we can to protect our children on the outside, but do we think enough about the hazards on the inside? At Bellamy’s we know that a newborn’s immune system is not nearly as effective as an adult’s or even an older child’s, and that’s why we’re convinced that organic foods help you give them a Pure Start to Life.
It takes many months before a newborn can fight off infection as effectively as someone whose immune system is fully matured. Nonetheless, you may be pleasantly reassured to know that newborns are much better protected against (or immune to) potential illnesses and diseases than you might otherwise think. This is because during pregnancy, disease-fighting antibodies made in the mother’s immune system are able to make their way across the placenta and into her baby’s body.
But it’s not just bugs that are a potential hazard, it’s chemicals, too. If we are what we eat, then chemicals in food must make some kind of difference to who we are! OK, so we don’t glow in the dark, but we know harmful things do happen if we accumulate pesticides and other nasties we can’t easily get rid of. Babies in particular are susceptible to impurities and that’s why organic baby foods are a safe alternative.
But let’s not confuse the benefits of eating organic food with living in some sort of sterile environment. Organic foods come from traditional farming practices and it seems one of the reasons our immune systems sometimes turn on us and produces unwanted reactions seems to be not so much about being overly hygienic these days, but because we don’t “mingle”, as generations used to, with animals – particularly farm animals.
A 2006 study examined exposure to pets, and the association with Hay Fever, Asthma, and Atopic Sensitization in children living in rural areas.The study ultimately found that animal exposure is most likely to provide a protective effect when the total level of exposure is highest (ie, those children exposed to pets and farm animals).
At the leading edge of this thinking, Graham Rook, Emeritus Professor of Medical Microbiology, University College, is looking into what he calls “the old friends” hypothesis. It appears that we have effectively rid ourselves of some types of parasitic worms that now seem to have the ability to regulate our immune response in positive ways! Gross, you say. But if we could understand the mechanism of these worms, we might be on the edge of breakthroughs in immune system related diseases such as MS and Crohn’s disease, among others.
Professor Rook also says that exposure of children, particularly those under 2 and a half, to a range of farm animals, can be beneficial in reducing incidence of asthma and eczema.
The Australian Medical Journal seems to endorse this view and says:
▪ Epidemiological studies have identified a number of factors associated with increased incidence of asthma. These include allergen sensitisation and exposure, reduced exposure to infections and to farm animals in early childhood, and maternal smoking.
▪ These factors may represent “true” risk factors for asthma or may be merely associated factors that do not in themselves cause asthma.
▪ The “hygiene hypothesis” has been proposed as one mechanism by which infections may protect against asthma.
▪ Current recommendations for the primary prevention of asthma include exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, avoidance of maternal smoking during pregnancy and infancy, and reducing the levels of house-dust mite in some environments.
So, what to do? Well, check out Bellamy’s organic range, it’s better than eating worms, and armed with some delicious fruit snacks, maybe check out your local petting zoo!