Baby Products: What the hell are we using for our babies’ hygiene?

Baby Products

Whilst getting ready for our daughter’s birth, my husband and I got overwhelmed by the number of ‘baby products’ out there and we got a little confused about what would be the safest brand for the baby. You only have to wander in the ‘baby products’ aisle of a pharmacy or a supermarket to get an idea. What should we buy then?

Or, what should we NOT buy?

In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer. It was found that there was a link between her ovarian cancer and the Johnson talc she has been using. Apart from this case, Johnson & Johnson is facing 1400 lawsuits involving Johnson’s Baby Powder. That sounds scary!

It is alarming that it is only in 2014 that Johnson & Johnson flooded the shelves with new ‘improved’ baby products as it finally managed to remove two harmful ingredients: (1) Formaldehyde, which has been identified by government scientists as a carcinogen, released over time by preservatives, like quaternium-15. (2) 1,4-dioxane, which has been linked to cancer in animal studies, created during a process used to make other ingredients mild. What about those who used the products before 2014?

The question is: would you trust Johnson and Johnson’s products for your newborn? Which product to trust?

According an article from The Connexion newspaper published on 15 February 2016:

NEARLY 300 baby products on sale in France contain chemicals that have a moderate to elevated risk of causing allergic reactions and health problems, according to a report. The study by the group Women in Europe for a Common Future (link) looked at 341 baby products on sale in supermarkets, pharmacies and specialist shops across the country and found the vast majority included chemicals that carried health risks.

The group used criteria set out by the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety and France’s Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament to judge the safety of products.

Among the chemicals the group found that were classed as having an “elevated risk” were an allergen (methylisothiazolinone) discovered in 19 products, including baby wipes, a preservative that can have side effects on the reproductive system (phenoxyethanol) and potentially allergenic perfumes in 226 products.

The WECF has demanded that these three ingredients be banned from all cosmetic products used by children under three years old. The group found 181 products contained chemicals rated as having a “moderate risk” such as EDTA and sulphates, found in shampoos, bubble bath and wipes.

It also noted mineral oils that had been refined from petroleum which could be contaminated with impurities and nanoparticles in skin creams that had yet to have their effects properly evaluated. “We were surprised at the ubiquity of perfumes in almost all the products,” said Elisabeth Ruffinengo of the WECF. The skin of young children is more sensitive and more permeable than that of adults and older children, making the study of the chemicals in baby wipes particularly important. In 2013, the consumer group UFC-Que Choisir also raised the alert over baby wipes when it found that of the 27 brands it tested, 94% contained potentially harmful chemicals.

What about Mauritius?

I cannot recall the number of times I have been advised to use talc with my baby (not Johnson’s brand in particular… but still …) Johnson & Johnson products are very popular in Mauritius; if I consider my relatives and friends alone, I know for a fact that they are not aware of the risks of some chemicals used in some ‘baby products’, let alone the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, and the names of those harmful chemicals…

Some well known and widely used brands of wipes are ‘Bebedou’, ‘Bebe Calin’, ‘Pampers’ and ‘Nivea’.

According to an article from l’Express newspaper, Bebedou contains phenoxyethanol; Bebe Calin contains methylisothiazolinone, perfume and EDTA; Pampers contains phenoxyethanol and EDTA and Nivea contains phenoxyethanol, methylisothiazolinone and perfume — all potentially harmful chemicals.

The article published on 6 March 2016 states that when contacted, the Ministry of Commerce declared they were now going to conduct tests on the wipes. Result of these tests to date? Well, nothing yet. In the meantime, the shelves remain flooded with all the supposedly ‘best’ products for your baby.

The body part of a baby which really needs some cleaning up is the bum. And that part is cleaned numerous times a day and over the night too. So, no use spending lots over shower gels, baby baths etc. as you never know what’s in these ‘baby products’. Given the numerous concerns, we are left wondering: which product to trust for our baby?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holidays in Mauritius with a Toddler (Part 3/3)

Blue Bay Mauritius

The last leg of the holidays was very relaxing and although we didn’t visit ‘new’ places we had great fun with family and friends. The next adventure starts again now: back to Doha, Qatar in Emirates A380 (Check out my next post about the trip back).

Blue Bay Marine Park – A MUST SEE

Blue Bay Marine Park is a must see during your trip to Mauritius. Although the beach itself is not one of the nicest in Mauritius, the sea is a stunning landscape. The drive to the south of the island is totally worth it with great views. The Marine Park is very popular with both locals and tourists; however, as a result of incessant sea traffic and cropping up of many industries around the region, the marine park is in constant degradation.

I was very surprised to see the huge crowd at Blue Bay, enjoying the beach, waiting for boats to take them for a ‘glass bottom boat’ trip or to one of the small surrounding isles. The boat ‘owners’ sit at tables with beach umbrellas and ‘ready’ to fulfill all your requests! Bargaining is the ‘normal’ thing to do, else you will pay more for the same service that you could have got for less.

Our ‘boat owner’ promised us an unforgettable experience – it was one indeed. We paid Rs 300 for one hour for 3 adults and 2 kids which I thought was a great deal. However I was quite disappointed with the state of the corals. Although we were told 80% of them were alive, I saw only 10% alive ones. Fortunately though, there were lots of beautiful fish and the kids had a blast. I have never seen so many beautiful fish in one spot at the same time! My dad decided he wanted to swim with the fish; mask, palm and tuba were free and provided by the boat. He loved the experience. The skipper was a nice guy with a great sense of humour and as I said before, it was a beautiful experience.

Do give me a buzz if you’ve been to Blue Bay Marine Park. Did you enjoy it?

Check out the beautiful pictures of Blue Bay Marine Park.
Blue Bay Mauritius

Blue Bay Mauritius

Blue Bay Mauritius

Blue Bay Mauritius

 

Blue Bay Mauritius

Blue Bay Mauritius

 

 

27 Things Only a New Mum Will Understand

When I heard my cousin complaining about how pregnancy is tough as she cannot lie down properly nor eat the spicy food she wants because of heart burns, I thought to myself “hmmm… and this is just the fun part, the hard work is yet to come’.

The baby doesn’t come with a manual and even if he/she did I believe the longest part of it would be the ‘trouble-shooting’ part! As new mums we don’t have a clue of most things, so when dad or ‘others’ (remember everyone knows better than you how to take care of your baby) ask you why is the baby crying or keep telling you the baby is hungry (even when you just fed for the last 30 minutes!), or (the best one) advise you to ‘sleep while the baby is sleeping’, you really want to pull all your hair out!

New mums, don’t lose hope, you will soon learn all the strings; you are great since you can do everything that you are doing even though you’ve never been trained for it. You will get there. Motherhood is hard but so rewarding and so worth it. So, hang in there! YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!!!

The following was written by Julie Lay and I’m sure most new mums will agree as these are things only a new mum will understand.

1. The complete joy of a warm sitz bath.

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2. Being so afraid to poop that you avoid the bathroom at all costs.

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3. Having incredible boobs … that hurt so badly you’ll kill anyone who so much as brushes up against them.

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4. That taking a shower is a luxury, not a necessity.

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5. The isolation of being alone with a tiny, helpless human. All. Day. LONG.

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6. Celebrating your new eau de parfum: slightly spoiled milk, cabbage, and A+D ointment.

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7. The fear that every other mother in the world is doing a better job than you.

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8. What a dairy cow feels like.

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9. Loving your other half for giving you such an amazing gift.

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10.Hating your other half for the way they eat/sleep/breathe.

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11. What it feels like to have no shame about whipping out a boob in public.

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12. The feeling of victory that fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes awards you (no matter how much muffin is left on top).

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13. Using the baby as a legitimate excuse to get out of absolutely anything.

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14. Wearing granny panties that are made out of mesh and come up to your eyeballs.

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15. Why you can no longer do jumping jacks. Ever again.

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16. Watching a horror movie and sympathizing with the zombies. If you can stay awake, that is.

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17. Going so crazy with fatigue you find yourself mindlessly rocking a jug of milk to sleep at the grocery store.

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18. That “mother’s intuition” is real. And it is powerful.

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19. The pure joy that is a first glass of wine after nine LONG months of sobriety.

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20. The joy/embarrassment that are Preparation H pads.

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21. Being so in tune with someone that your body actually produces food for them on demand.

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22. Accidental shoplifting.

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23. Leaking through your shirt during an important presentation at work.

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24. Waking up in a cold sweat, convinced you rolled over on the baby — only to find them sleeping soundly in their crib.

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25. That “sleep when the baby sleeps” is the stupidest phrase anyone has ever uttered.

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26. Being proud of the fact that your stomach looks like it was attacked by a tiger.

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27. The amazing feeling of being the one who created this unique human being.

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My favourite is the last one (#27). I totally agree. What do YOU think?

 

How NORAD became the world’s official Santa-tracker

Santa Claus norad

An interesting article I came across from Los Angeles Times, written by Karen Kaplan.

U.S. Northern Command Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Charles D. Luckey and volunteers take phone calls from children around the world. A misprint in a newspaper advertisement kicked off NORAD’s Santa-tracking activities 60 years ago.

December 25, 2015, 5:44 a.m.

It was December 1955, the height of the Cold War, when the red phone on Col. Harry Shoup’s desk at the Continental Air Defense Command began to ring.

Only an elite few knew the number. Odds were good that a four-star general from the Pentagon was on the other end of the line.

Shoup reached for the phone.

“Yes, sir. This is Col. Shoup,” he said.

No response.

“Sir? This is Col. Shoup.” Pause. “Sir, can you read me all right?”

That’s when Shoup heard the little girl’s voice.

“Are you really Santa Claus?”

For the last 60 years, officials at the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., have tracked Santa’s whirlwind tour across the globe to deliver presents on Christmas Eve. Nearly 9 million people from more than 200 countries are expected to check in with NORAD’s Santa-tracking website before they go to bed on Christmas Eve.

And it all began with that phone call.

As Shoup later recalled in a home video, his first response to the unlikely query was that someone was pulling his leg — and he wasn’t amused.

“I said, ‘Would you repeat that please?'” he replied.

“Are you really Santa Claus?”

That’s when he realized two things: Something had gone wrong with his phone, and the question was genuine.

So he told the little girl on the other end of the line that he was, indeed, Santa Claus. Relieved, she informed him that she would be leaving him food by her fireplace, plus treats for his reindeer as well.

“I said, ‘Oh boy, they sure will appreciate that!’”

Then Shoup asked to speak to her mother. That’s how he learned that a Sears, Roebuck & Co. advertisement in the local newspaper had invited kids to call Santa at ME 2-6681 — the number for the red phone.

It was a misprint, of course, but that didn’t stop kids from flooding the line all the way until Christmas. Shoup assigned a couple of airmen to answer the line and act like St. Nick, Shoup’s daughter Pamela Farrell recounted to StoryCorps.

After a few weeks, someone at the Continental Air Defense Command (which is now NORAD) had an inspired idea. He went to the giant glass board where airmen tracked the planes in U.S. or Canadian airspace and added a drawing of a sleigh with eight reindeer. They were headed south from the North Pole.

Shoup studied the board. Then he picked up his phone, his other daughter, Terri Van Keuren, told StoryCorps.

“He called a local radio station and said, ‘This is the commander of the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object — why, it looks like a sleigh!’”

After that, Van Keuren added, stations would call every hour to ask for the latest on Santa’s whereabouts.

The military’s Santa-tracking efforts have become considerably more elaborate since 1955. NORAD’s online tracker plays Christmas tunes while flying reindeer pull a red sleigh over images of the Earth provided by NASA. The site shows Santa’s last stop and gives an ETA for his next destination. It also keeps a running tab of the number of gifts delivered.

Those who find websites passé can download the NORAD Tracks Santa app from the iTunes store, follow @NoradSanta on Twitter, “like” NORAD’s tracker on Facebook or keep tabs through a variety of other social media sites.

More than 70,000 children still call NORAD to talk to Santa on a toll-free line — (877) HI-NORAD or (877) 446-6723 — and another 12,000 or so send e-mails to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com.

All of this would have been impossible for Shoup to imagine as he spoke to the little girl who inadvertently kicked the whole thing off 60 years ago.

Before handing the phone to her mother, the girl asked a question that was certainly appropriate for an Air Force colonel: How is it possible for Santa to visit so many houses in a single night?

Years later, Shoup still remembered his answer: “I said, ‘That’s the magic of Christmas.’”

You can follow Karen Kaplan on Twitter @LATkarenkaplan and also ‘like’ Los Angeles Times Science and Health on Facebook.

Have you been tracking Santa with your kids or you’ve already told them that Santa is not real?

 

Holidays in Mauritius with a Toddler (Part 2/3)

 

Mauritius beach

Mauritius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The holidays in Mauritius are still on and activities and outings are part of our everyday life now; there’s so much to see and do in this paradise island. Here is a list of a few other things we did these last weeks.

Trianon Shopping Park – Intresting shopping outlets

Trianon Shopping ParkWith around 80 shops, cafes and restaurants, cinema halls, this mall is one of the busiest of the island offering a wide variety of both local and international brands. There are many parking spaces and it holds regular events.

A big plus: an entertainment area for kids called Cocotown Kids. It has a huge climbing frame, many interesting activities for both small and big kids as well as a café/restaurant with small tables and chairs. The price charged for three hours is Rs 300 and there are lots to do in those three hours. My daughter loved Cocotown and so did I. We have to go again!

 

Mauritius Aquarium – Not recommendedMauritius Aquarium

After having been to the Sydney Aquarium – where more than 700 species are on display – I must admit that the Mauritius Aquarium was a big disappointment. True, my expectations may have been too high. However, to call the place an aquarium would be a hyperbole. There are many big salt water fish tanks and one very big water tank. There were a few interesting fish and although the website advertised for a ‘ray’, we simply couldn’t find it. The sharks were probably baby sharks and there were about two turtles. All this for the price of Rs 300 for an adult and Rs 150 for children aged between 2 and 12, which is quite a rip off I think with regard to what you get to see.

Mauritius AquariumThe water tanks are placed at quite a height, which made it very hard for my 2 year old daughter, my 3 year old nephew and my 5 year old nephew to see much, if not, anything at all. We had to hold them all the way through for them to be able to have a look. Not very convenient for anyone I must say.

Mauritius AquariumLuckily for us, the children were simply amazed with the turtles and the baby sharks. They know nothing about inconveniences – fortunately for them. They kept asking me about the ray as I had told them they would see one in the ‘aquarium’. Hmmm …

Mauritius beachAfter the ‘aquarium’ they went for a quick swim in the Trou-Aux-Biches sea, one minute drive from there. It was not a great beach but as I said earlier, children are so fortunate to see only the fun side of things, reminding me of the poems of The Lamb and The Tyger in Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’.

Casela – Great fun for kids

Casela Park MauritiusThis nature park has recently been uplifted and looks much better than it did two years ago. It is beautifully maintained and ‘visitor-friendly’.

Because of my daughter’s naptime, I could only spend around two hours in Casela; however, even a full day might not be enough to enjoy all the activities. We walked past the giraffes and straight to the petting farm. The ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, turtles were all quite eager to be fed. We decided to go and feed the kids (baby goats) …… It wasn’t a good idea after all as my 9 year old niece really freaked out causing the other children to get scared too and I’m pretty sure the baby goats got quite scared with so much screaming.

Then we walked to catch the bus for the safari. The safari was quite interesting although the number ofCasela Park Mauritius animals cannot be compared to those from Perth zoo, for example. We saw mainly zebras, ostriches, 2 baby rhinoceroses, a few species from the antelope family. I was pleasantly surprised to see an oryx – the oryx is the national animal of Qtar, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Jordan. Unfortunately for us the giraffes and the ‘big cats’ were in separate enclosures.

The safari took a while and by the time it was over, it was 5.00 p.m. which was Casela’s closing time. We will definitely have to go back for other activities.

Here are a few more pictures of the beautiful place:

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerald Park Shopping Centre – Okayish

Emerald Park Mauritius

Photo Credit: thunderpanths

This is a rather small shopping centre which is not really for kids. If you want to eat or drink something (healthy) with the kids, apart from one vending machine, there is absolutely nothing. I’d say, it’s somewhere you could go to buy clothes or toys for the kids (only 2 shops are relevant for that) but where they will get really bored.

Mr Bricloage which is a DIY type of shop is quite an interesting place. I bought a small swimming pool for my daughter and she absolutely loved it. It was relatively cheap. I really liked the fact that it is not an inflatable one so hopefully it will last a while. Lots of interesting DIY stuff for kids too.

The other shop is  Pridemark. It sells brand clothing at a bargain price. Although I could only find one shirt  for my daughter I bought 3 dresses for myself! If you like brands for affordable prices, this is the place to go.

I’ve got a few other things on my bucket list for the coming weeks. Would you have any suggestions?

Fish and Mercury — it’s important to know how much of which fish type you are eating.

children eat fish

Photo: tomolivernutrition.com

 

When discussing fish with my young niece, I became quite alarmed to see that she didn’t have a clue about mercury level in fish. She had marlin for lunch! I thought I’d draw mums’ and dads’ attention to ‘Fish and Mercury’ so that they are better aware of the risks involved with eating some particular types of fish.

The following article from the New South Wales (Australia) website sums it all up and can be quite helpful to choose how often to give which type of fish to children and also for pregnant mums and women planning pregnancy.

Fish and Mercury (Source: NSW Food Authority)

It’s good to eat enough fish, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding. Fish are a valuable source of protein, minerals, vitamin B12 and iodine. They are low in saturated fat and contain omega-3 fatty acids which are important for the development of babies’ central nervous systems before and after birth.

Selecting Fish

Most fish in Australia are low in mercury but some are higher and too much mercury can harm developing nervous systems. It’s best to know the mercury levels of different types of fish and how often to eat each type.

Pregnant & breastfeeding women & women planning pregnancy

1 serve equals 150g

Children up to 6 years

1 serve equals 75g

Eat 2-3 serves per week of any fish and seafood not listed below
OR
Eat 1 serve per week of these fish, and no other fish that week:

Catfish or Orange Roughy (Deep Sea Perch)

OR
1 serve per fortnight of these fish, and no other fish that fortnight:

Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Swordfish, Marlin)

 

Mercury from fish is generally not a health consideration for most people, it is mainly an issue for women planning pregnancy, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children up to six years.

Ready-to-each, chilled seafood, such as raw sushi, sashimi & oysters or pre-cooked prawns and smoked salmon can be risk for pregnant women because of listeria. Our guidelines have more information about listeria and what to avoid during pregnancy.

Mercury in Fish

Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and accumulates in the aquatic food chain, including fish, as methyl-mercury. All fish contain some methyl-mercury, but most fish in Australian waters have very low mercury levels.

Mercury content is not reduced by processing techniques such as canning, freezing or cooking. Many fish have low mercury levels.

The following fish have low mercury levels and are also high in omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Mackerel
  • Silver Warehou
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Canned salmon & canned tuna in oil
  • Herrings
  • Sardines

Other seafood with low mercury levels include:

  • All prawns, lobsters and bugs
  • All squids and octopus
  • Snapper
  • Salmon and trout
  • Trevally
  • Whiting
  • Herring
  • Anchovy
  • Bream
  • Mullet
  • Garfish

These fish can be eaten more frequently, up to two to three times per week.

 

canned fishCanned Tuna & Salmon

It is generally safe for all population groups, including pregnant women, to consume 2-3 serves of any type of tuna or salmon a week, canned or fresh.

Canned tuna usually has lower mercury levels than other tuna because tuna used for canning are smaller species that are caught when less than one year old.

Supplements

Fish oil products and supplements are not a major source of dietary mercury and there is no recommendation to restrict consuming them because of mercury.

Crustacea & Molluscs

Crustacea (including prawns, lobster and crabs) and molluscs (including oysters and calamari) are not a concern because they generally contain lower levels of mercury and are usually consumed less often than finfish.

Fish for Others

Breastfeeding mothers can continue to eat fish.

Fish are rich in protein and minerals, low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for the development of your baby’s central nervous system, even after birth.

Although it’s important to continue to eat fish while you are breastfeeding, you need to be careful about which fish you choose. Some fish may contain mercury levels that can harm a baby’s developing nervous system if too much mercury is passed to them through breastmilk.

To safely include fish as an important part of a balanced diet while you are breastfeeding, follow the same guidelines provided to pregnant women.

Kids eat fishFish is good for young children

The healthy nutrients found in fish are excellent for growing children. Simply follow the guidelines for children up to 6 years.

 

Exceeding the Recommended Guidelines

Like all foods, fish should be eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet. Over-consumption of any single food group, particularly to the exclusion of other foods, is not recommended because it can lead to dietary imbalances and may increase your intake of potentially harmful substances, such as mercury.

If you have been eating more than 2-3 serves of fish in the past, you can follow the recommended number of weekly portions and your mercury levels will return to normal fairly soon.

Mercury levels will generally halve within several months, providing you follow the dietary advice and limit the amount of Shark (Flake) and Billfish (Swordfish, Marlin) you consume. If you are concerned about your mercury levels, your doctor can order a blood and/or urine test.

If you choose to eat more than 2-3 serves of fish per week it is important to eat a variety of fish, and avoid those that could have elevated mercury levels, such as Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Swordfish, Marlin).

Have you had any issue with mercury level in your blood or that of your child? When did you last have a blood test?

 

7 Parenting Tips from the Book Loving Our Kids on Purpose

A Few Tips on Parenting.

IMG_1201When I first saw the title of this book, Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart-To-Heart Connection, I almost decided not to read it. I figured I already know how to love my child, that’s the easy part, it’s all the other stuff that is hard. However, I am so glad that I didn’t stop there. This has been one of the best parenting books I have read. It challenged me to think about how I was raised and the kind of parent I want to be. I picked 7 highlights, but there is really so much more to this book. I highly recommend it and only wish I would have read it sooner.

  1. You can’t control your child.

This was kind of shocking for me to realize, but I think Danny Silk is on to something. Bottom line, you can’t actually control anyone except yourself. You may…

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