Maclaren Beginning – a product review

As many of you know, I’m very choosy about the personal care products I will use on my children. I’m kind of selective about what I will use on myself too, but the truth is I’m much more discriminating when it comes to my kids. That’s just how mothering goes, is it not? 😉

I recently was given some new holistic personal care products from the Maclaren Beginning line to review and I have to say I was quite pleased with them.

First of all, they use natural and organic ingredients and 100% pure essential oils. All essential oils and exotic butters are sourced through fully sustainable, traceable partnerships. They do NOT use synthetic perfumes, artificial colors, petroleum derivatives, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), parabens, TEA (Triethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine) or animal ingredients. Maclaren is also against animal testing. The products are dematologically tested on sensitive skin (which I feel is important for products that are designed for pregnant women and babies). I feel the need to add the disclaimer here that no, I am NOT pregnant, I’m just testing some products that are intended for pregnant women. 😉

Because it is a new product line, it is not yet available in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, although I suspect based on the ingredients that the products would score well.

The Maclaren Beginning product line includes personal care products for both mother and baby. Some of the products I (and/or my kids) tested include: For Mother – the Connecting Massage Oil, and For Baby – Comforting Room Mist, Absorbing Dusting Powder, Soothing Delicate Soap and the Protecting Nappy (Diaper) Change Balm. All of the products contain essential oils. Normally I’m not a big fan of scented products, but these scents are very subtle and calming, not at all like the synthetic fragrances other products on the market have.

The Connecting Massage Oil for Mother with organic orange, lavender and Neroli essential oils is seriously just dreamy. It smells wonderful, feels great rubbed into your skin and doesn’t leave you feeling oily. When I was pregnant I enjoyed rubbing my belly as a way of connecting with my babies. It would have been great to have this massage oil for all of those belly rubs (and back and foot rubs by your partner would feel wonderful with this too). It’s a bit pricey at $24 a bottle, but would make a great gift to a newly pregnant woman.

The Maclaren baby products I received all met with my approval and all seem reasonably priced. I tried the Soothing Delicate Soap with my kiddos (ages 5 and 2) in the bath tonight and I liked that it lathered well even though it doesn’t contain SLS.

The Absorbing Dusting Powder would have been great for my kids when they were roly-poly babies. They both had lots of lovely baby fat rolls which meant lots of creases to get sweaty and irritated and I think this product could have helped with that.

The Protecting Nappy Change Balm with organic lavender, German chamomile, Shea butter and aloe is not very thick so I am not sure how effective it would be as a barrier cream, but I did apply some to my son’s diaper area and was pleased it did not cause any irritation to him like some creams we have tried in the past have.

The only product I received that I am a bit skeptical about is the Comforting Room Mist. The directions say, “Gently pump 2 or 3 burst of the aromatherapy mist into the air. Use at home when baby is resting and safe. When away from home, use to comfort the baby, creating a sense of familiarity and a connection to the safety of home.” I just don’t see a real need for this product. I always used breastfeeding and holding my baby to create a sense of familiarity and safety. I suppose though if a mother had to be away from her baby, this spray might be useful then.

Overall I really like the Maclaren Beginning line and think it would make a great gift to an expecting mother. Oh, and did I mention the packaging is recyclable? The packaging is made from raw, uncoated, recyclable Kraft material, with uncoated paper labels made from recycled paper. This crunchy mama is all over that!

Interested in winning some Maclaren Beginning products? Head on over to Today’s Mama to enter to win.

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Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009

Ditch the Disposables ChallengeIt’s been one year since the first Ditch the Disposables Challenge on Crunchy Domestic Goddess which, with nearly 150 participants, was a big success. Let’s do it again and see if we can get 200 participants this time around! For two months, September and October, I’m challenging you to Ditch the Disposables!

We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge, please select one or two (or more! – this can be as challenging as you want it to be) of your disposable products to ditch*, then leave a comment saying which disposable product(s) you will leave behind for two months in favor of an environmentally-friendly reusable product. I will create a list in the sidebar linking to everyone’s blog. Of course, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I realize that many of you probably are already living without some (many?) of these disposable products, but certainly nearly all of us can find at least one NEW thing we can give up in favor of something better for the earth. If you honestly don’t use a single disposable product, leave me a comment too and I’ll still include you in the challenge and link back to you. 🙂

Here are some ideas to get you started…

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels or something like Skoy cloths
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Disposable utensils to regular silverware
  • If you order food “to go” or have food to take home from a restaurant, bring your own container rather than accepting Styrofoam or plastic
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Thermos or Camelbak bottles or the Klean Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Thermos, Klean Kanteen or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Plastic straws to glass or stainless steel straws
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others. You can even make your own pads.
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags
  • Disposable wrapping paper or gift bags to reusable cloth gift bags
  • Single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries

Or, for the really crazy dedicated:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge on your blog by adding the button linking back to this post. If you have other ideas for disposable products people can ditch, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks and good luck!

I’ll host a few check in posts (every other Sunday if I can remember) throughout the two months so everyone can stop by and say how they are doing, and offer support and/or tips to others as well. Together we can Ditch the Disposables!
*When I say “ditch,” please know that I don’t mean throw them away. I want you to try making a lifestyle change from a disposable product you use regularly. If you want to save your disposables until the challenge is over, that’s your prerogative. You might also consider Freecycling them or donating them to a local charitable organization. I do suggest that whichever product(s) you choose to give up, you pack away until the challenge is over, lest you be tempted to use it/them.

Also, I WILL have a few giveaways along the way to help you out with this challenge. Stay tuned! 🙂

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Barbara Kingsolver would be proud

As the temperature hovered in the 60s yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel that autumn is quickly approaching. The cool weather inspired me to finally make some headway with food preservation for the winter. I’ve done a little bit of preserving thus far – mostly freezing blueberries and strawberries – but I haven’t been motivated to do much more than that. While I spent a lot of time last year canning, I haven’t been excited about doing any this year (perhaps because we still have lots of jam left) – yet.

This weekend, however, I tackled zucchini and yellow squash. While I’ve only grown one measly zucchini in my own garden so far this year (which I pureed with a can of black beans and made into Black Bean & Zucchini brownies*), I managed to score enough off of Freecycle to make me a happy camper. On Friday evening I picked up 17 lbs of zucchini and yellow squash from someone in a nearby town. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it all when I got it, but I knew I would figure something out. In the meantime, the kids played with it. 🙂
(Please excuse the quality of these pics. They were taken w/ my iPhone.)

On Sunday I got to work. I shredded and froze 16 cups of zucchini to use during the winter for baking or adding to soups.

I also used 3 additional cups to make a triple batch of Barbara Kingsolver’s Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies (from the awesome book Animal Vegetable Miracle).

Then I used one huge yellow squash to make Kingsolver’s Disappearing Zucchini Orzo for dinner (I added spinach to it to give it a little more color and tomatoes as a garnish).

After all of that, I still have two large yellow squash remaining! I may chop and freeze them and throw them into a casserole at a later date.

*Below is the recipe for Black Bean Zucchini Brownies. The other two recipes (cookies and orzo) can be found on the Animal Vegetable Miracle web site. I was very skeptical of the idea of beans in my brownies at first, but now that I’ve made them, I can’t imagine going back to the traditional way. They are sooooo good (and, as Jody will tell you I like to argue, healthier!) Yum!

Black Bean Zucchini Brownies
Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix (I prefer the kind that has chocolate chunks in it)
1 can black beans (do NOT drain)
1 small zucchini (Optional. You can make the brownies with just the beans and they will turn out just fine. If you want to add a little extra vegetable in though, add the zucchini.)

Puree entire can of black beans (including the liquid) in blender or food processor. Add the zucchini and puree until smooth. Add the beans and zucchini to the dry brownie mix. Mix well. Pour into greased pan and bake according to directions on the brownie box. You may have to bake a little longer than recommended on the box because there’s a fair amount of liquid added between the beans and zucchini. You could also add in some flour (maybe a 1/2 cup or so) to even it all out. When a toothpick or knife comes out of the brownies clean, they are done. Cool, cut and serve.

Jody, the kids, and I loved these brownies. And yes, I told them what was in them. Nobody cared. 🙂

Nearly 17 lbs of squash used or preserved in one way or another this weekend. I think Barbara Kingsolver would be proud.

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The big SIGG BPA letdown

Water bottle manufacturer SIGG has found themselves in the hot seat recently after they revealed that their bottles, which many environmentally-aware, health-conscious consumers and parents fell in love with, have actually contained bisphenol-A (BPA) all along. SIGG claims they never said their bottles were BPA-free, but only that they “did not leach BPA.”

Z Recommends was one of the first blogs to break the story with their very thorough and informative post:

“Swiss sports and children’s bottle maker SIGG has admitted what many consumer advocates have suspected for years, but never proven: That the epoxy lining used for years in SIGG bottles – which they secretly swapped out for a new liner last summer – contained the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A.”

How do you know if your SIGG bottle contains BPA? According to SIGG, “all SIGG bottles made since August 2008 contain our new BPA free EcoCare liner. SIGG bottles manufactured prior to August 2008 have the former water-based epoxy liner which contains trace amounts of BPA. These bottles have been thoroughly tested and showed 0% leaching of BPA.

The photo and information below (from SIGG) should help you determine which liner you have.

New SIGG EcoCare Liner Former SIGG Liner
* Dull pale yellow coating*Special powder-based co-polyester liner certified to be 100% BPA and Phthalate Free*Utilized in the manufacturing of SIGG bottles since August 2008 * Shiny copper bronze finish*Proprietary water-based epoxy liner thoroughly tested and showed absolutely no leaching of BPA*Found in SIGG bottles manufactured prior to August 2008

EcoCare Liner:

Former Liner:

In case you didn’t just do the math, SIGG is saying they have been manufacturing bottles with the new liners since August 2008. But wait, what year is it now? Oh yeah, 2009. Which means they’ve been sitting on this information for an entire year. Ouch.

Lynn from Babble discusses the problems with bisphenol-A in her post BPA: How Bad Is It? Get ready to clean out your cabinets.

It is a type of compound called an endocrine disruptor, which means it mimics or alters the effects of a particular hormone — in this case estrogen — in your body, throwing everything out of whack. It is bad for you, and your pregnancy, and your kids, and it is, almost literally, everywhere: in baby feeding items, water bottles, soda and soup cans, PVC pipes, carbon-paper-style sales receipts, dental fixtures, the water supply, even in the goddamn air. (And probably in your body: the CDC has detected BPA in 93 percent of people 6 years old and up.)

… BPA is thought to cause disorders of the neurological, cardiac, immune, and reproductive systems, with adults, children, and developing fetuses all exposed and at risk.

To say that people are upset about SIGG’s admission would be an understatement.

Alison from Green Me feels deceived and wrote an open letter to SIGG expressing her outrage.

While pregnant I drank from my SIGG bottle 4 days per week as I had a long commute to a college campus where I did not have easy access to water. When my son was born I breastfed him and carried my SIGG bottle around with me to have water on walks and at the store. Last year, when my son turned one we got him a big boy SIGG water bottle. I would not have made any of these purchases had I known your products were lined with BPA.

I am outraged…

Cool Mom Picks feels disheartened at the news. “It’s disheartening to support a brand like SIGG for making safer, BPA-free drinking bottles for kids and adults when it turns out that nope, that wasn’t the situation at all. Or as the old saying goes, ‘we was played.'”

Miriam from Tripletly Blessed said she will take the replacement bottles from SIGG and donate them because “I have no intention of supporting a company that would blatantly mislead their consumer base.” She also plans to tell others of SIGG’s betrayal. “Yes, SIGG technically did nothing wrong. They never stated that their bottles were BPA-free. However, the manner in which they marketed themselves left many people with that impression. I’m not a lawyer but I don’t see that there is really a case here, though some are suggesting it. What I am, though, is a mom and a blabbermouth. Would you like to guess what I’ll be talking about for the next few weeks and whenever I see someone with a SIGG bottle?”

Kellie from GreenHab: The Browns Go Green is feeling disappointed. “I’m feeling kind of like I did when I found out that John Edwards cheated on his wife. It isn’t the worst thing to ever happen in this world, but I still feel really disappointed because I thought SIGG to be a genuinely green company. They say ‘never trust a politician.’ I guess we shouldn’t trust companies that claim to sell green products either.”

Despite all of this, Sonja from Girl with Greencard says she will continue to use her SIGG from the early 90s. She said she has two old SIGGs, and she’s going to keep using both of them. Why? Because “test shows BPA doesn’t leak and SIGGs are pricey and I don’t use mine on a daily basis.” She said she also has no qualms about letting her 1-year-old son drink from her old SIGG bottles either.

Jeremiah from Z Recommends said:

Whether or not you are comfortable using a bottle that contains but does not leach BPA, for us the real story here is how a company using BPA that would have been absolutely sidelined by consumers seeking BPA-free alternatives managed to make itself a central player by carefully controlling information about its products, challenging consumer advocacy organizations when they made statements that were unproven but that the company knew to be true, and “coming clean” only when it suited its own purposes.

Alicia at The Soft Landing believes it’s an issue of proprietary versus transparency. She said, “It’s not about the ‘mere presence of BPA’ or that their studies didn’t show any leaching – it’s about the principle of trust. We as parents, consumers and advocates should demand transparency from companies who build their entire foundation on being healthy and green.”

While SIGG encourages dissatisfied customers to contact their customer service department (liners@mysigg.com) to trade in their old SIGG bottles for ones made with the BPA-free EcoCare liner, many bloggers would rather find more transparent companies to support. In case you are concerned about what will happen to the bottles that are turned in to SIGG, CEO Steve Wasik assured Lisa from Retro Housewife Goes Green that “All ‘retired’ SIGG bottles that we receive are always sent to recycling.”

Lisa from Condo Blues suggests four BPA-free water bottle alternatives.

Over at Mamanista, Candace recommends Stainless Steel BPA-free water bottles.

I also wrote a post earlier this year about several different reusable water bottles.

Lastly, Z Recommends has some additional information about possible problems with the new BPA-free SIGG liners that you should take a look at before you email to get your replacement bottle. Unfortunately, this information might turn off even more consumers.

What are your thoughts? Are you surprised? Upset? Fine with all of it? Will you trade in your old SIGG bottle for a new one or will you seek out an alternative?

I have to say the only reason I’m not fuming mad is that we never splurged to buy SIGG bottles until a few months ago when my husband Jody got one for Ava and one for himself. Thankfully, they both have the new liners. While I had been thinking about getting my own SIGG bottle in the near future, after learning all of this, I’ll stick with my BPA-free Camelbak for now, thankyouverymuch.

Related posts:
SIGG Controversy: Older SIGG Bottles Have Bisphenol A (BPA)
SIGG Bottles and BPA
Really? SIGG bottles contain BPA

Cross-posted on BlogHer

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A 5-minute healthy lunch idea: tortilla pizzas


I’ve been buying Stacy’s Organic Tortillas in bulk lately and using them primarily for making sandwich wraps. The kids love the wraps and they worked well in their camp lunches this summer and in school lunches for Ava in kindergarten. I admit I enjoy them myself as well.

However, I may have found a new use for the tortillas that I love even more than the wraps. Thanks to my friend Melissa, I am now making 5-minute tortilla pizzas! I know I said they were for lunch, but I’ve made them for dinner too on those nights I need a quick meal.

5-minute tortilla pizzas

Ingredients:
– Tortilla (white flour, wheat flour, whatever you desire)
– Cheese (shredded mozzarella, goat cheese, soy cheese, whatever you prefer)
– Sauce (store-bought tomato sauce is easy, but so is homemade canned sauce – provided you made it prior to this, pesto works well too)
– Optional: additional toppings. I would make sure they are already cooked and don’t add too many or it could affect the quality of the pizza. Also, because the crust is very thin (it’s a tortilla after all), you don’t want to weigh it down with an overload of toppings.

Instructions:
Lay a tortilla on a pizza pan, cookie sheet or baking stone. (I recommend only one tortilla per pan unless two fit well. They didn’t cook as evenly when I tried to put two on one cookie sheet.)
Spread a thin layer or sauce on tortilla. (Add additional toppings if desired. Remember, don’t add much or it will weigh down your tortilla too much.)
Sprinkle with cheese. (The kids can totally help out with making these too, though that might add a little extra time to the preparation.)

Put in oven under broiler until cheese melts. This only takes a few minutes so definitely keep an eye on it.

Remove from oven, let cool, slice and serve or save to pack in a school lunch the next day.

The kids love them and so do I. Easy, peasy and oh so cheesy! 😉 Thanks again, Mel!

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A mama’s thoughts on sending her daughter to kindergarten

Last Wednesday, my little girl grew up a little bit more. She went from attending a small home-based Waldorf preschool to attending kindergarten in a classroom of more than 20 children (I think there are 27) in a school of more than 400.

As I said previously, I’ve been filled with a mix of emotions with Ava starting kindergarten in “the big school.” There are some things about it I’m not fond of: like that they use hand sanitizer before lunch and snack instead of washing hands, that Ava – who is normally a social butterfly – said she was an “only lonely” at recess on Friday, the not-so-healthy snacks, that the hot lunch program is pretty much all fried, unhealthy foods, and that after two full days of school her teacher doesn’t appear to know her name yet.

I could be overreacting. I mean, I want my girl to be happy and safe and healthy, but it was only the first week of school. Perhaps once they get into their routine, hand washing will happen more regularly instead of hand sanitizing (the teacher did tell me that washing was her preference – if there’s time). And I’m sure her teacher will learn her name soon. This week they are focusing on “making and keeping friends” and maybe that will help Ava fit in a little better.

Yet, regardless of all of this, there was something about taking Ava to school that first day that just didn’t feel “right” to me. I’ve made a lot of parenting decisions in the past five years and I have to say I’ve felt peaceful about pretty much every one of them. Sure, I made some wrong choices here and there, but as for the big decisions, I’ve felt good about them. However, there was something about dropping Ava off that didn’t feel peaceful to me.

Last week I reread a post I wrote almost a year ago called Is Home Schooling Right For Us? At the time, I was leaning toward home schooling, but wanted to keep my options open. Jody and I ended up visiting a few public schools including a charter school, a regular public school and an International Baccalaureate World school (also public). We made our decision and hoped for the best. Somewhere in there the idea of home schooling got lost in the shuffle. Also, I was dealing with some heavy duty anxiety as I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder this winter and didn’t feel like I could add another thing (home schooling) to my plate.

Now here we are, a week into the school year and I’m reconsidering home schooling. There’s a great, very active home schooling community in my area and I feel like, if I wanted to pursue this, I’m in a good head space to do it now. However, I am not going to make any rash decisions. We are going to see how it goes for now. I’m going to do more research. There were a slew of helpful comments with links in my Is Home Schooling Right For Us? post and I need to read up on them. What I’d like to do is supplement a bit at home while Ava is in kindergarten and see how she responds to that and how I do with it too. If the supplemental home schooling goes well and I feel like she could learn from me and if I don’t fall in love with her school over the next several months, then we might give home schooling a try for first grade. We’ll see.

For now I’m going to try to stay positive (especially around Ava) and go to a volunteer orientation this week so I can start volunteering in the classroom and do some reconnaissance help out and see how it all works. I’ve already been emailing with the principal about the possibility of donating a Clean Well wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser for the classroom (by the way, I’ll be giving away some Clean Well products soon!) and to obtain the Material Safety Data Sheets (boy, are those a fun read :P) so I could take a look at what kinds of cleaning products are used in the school. I hope I’m not coming off as a pain in the ass, but rather a parent who’s concerned about the health and well-being of her child and all children in the school. The principal did encourage me to stay in touch, thanked me for my interest and said “parents like you are what make “X” the great school it is!” That last part struck me as a bit form letter-esque, but I’d like to think that she means it.

I like that I have choices and the option of changing my mind. I like that I can get involved and maybe make a positive difference. And I will keep asking my questions because knowledge is power.

I’ll be posting the rest of Ava’s first day of kindergarten pics soon. (Yes, I finally picked up my SLR again after a several month hiatus and it felt good.) 🙂

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Kindergarten! – Wordless Wednesday

This is one of those “not quite Wordless Wednesday” posts. 😉

I snapped this picture with my iPhone of Ava at our “meet the teacher” night Tuesday. She starts kindergarten Wednesday morning and will be going two full days and one half day each week. The first day is a full day.

I’ve been filled with a mix of emotions (excitement, nervousness, sadness, happiness, pride, and even close to a panic attack this evening) about my girl starting kindergarten and I hope to write about it soon. This new school is such a big change from what Ava’s used to (a Waldorf home-based preschool with eight kids at the most). Yet I have a lot of confidence in her ability to adapt, make friends and fit right in. She’s proven to me on so many occasions that she is fully capable.

And so, although I might have my worries, I will be strong (at least outwardly), put on my proud mama smile and let her spread her wings. After all, that’s a mama’s job, right?

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

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Breastfeeding doll Bebé Glotón causes a stir

There’s a new doll on the market that has many parents up in arms. It cries, it makes sounds when it eats, it burps when patted. Sounds reasonable so far, right? So what’s the big issue with this doll? Apparently the fact that instead of coming with a bottle to feed it, this baby doll comes with a nursing bra-like halter top and is, indeed, meant to be “breast-fed” by children.

Spanish toy maker Berjuan has created Bebé Glotón (which, despite the literal translation of “Baby Glutton,” is actually a term of endearment in Spanish culture), a doll specifically designed for young children to breastfeed. The doll, which is not yet available in the United States, makes suckling sounds and motions when placed on the pasty-like flowers on the halter top that represent nipples. You can see a Bebé Glotón demonstration here.

Bebé Glotón by Berjuan Credit: Berjuan.com

There have been a mix of reactions to this doll by bloggers across the ‘net. Some see it as a positive thing, helping to normalize breastfeeding and combat the ubiquitous inclusion of bottles with dolls, while others think the doll is stifling creativity and simply not necessary. Still others think a breastfeeding doll is exposing young children to too much, too soon.

Cate, a self-professed lactivist who writes at Eco Child’s Play, says she doesn’t believe that “setting aside creative, imaginative free play for an instructional doll is the best for kids. The silly doll is simply encouraging parents to buy more ‘stuff,’ and plastic stuff at that. Let your kid put her own favorite baby doll up her shirt and ‘breastfeed.'”

On the other hand, Catherine from Their Bad Mother believes, “marketing dolls as nursing dolls is necessary, I would argue, because it counters the dominance of dollies-with-bottles. Children can pretend to breastfeed any old doll, but they don’t, and they don’t, arguably, because pretty much all of those dolls come with what are more or less express instructions to bottle feed this baby, dammit.”

Beth at The Natural Mommy said when she first heard about the breastfeeding doll, she thought, “Finally!,” but the more she learned the more she thought Bebé Glotón “was a bit much.”

It includes a vest that the girl has to wear with appropriately placed flowers for the baby to nurse on. But wait a minute? Isn’t the biggest convenience of breastfeeding the lack of required materials? I mean, really, all you need is a baby that roots around and sucks on whatever you place near his mouth as soon as you hold him in a horizontal position. That’s pretty darn realistic, if you ask me. I just don’t think we’re clearing up any confusion by having little girls put on special vests to breastfeed.

Plus, without the vest, you get rid of all critics raising an eyebrow at the ‘appropriately placed flowers.’

But then the same people will be telling little girls to please use a nursing blanket or go the restroom to feed their baby dolls.

And then the baby doll nurse-ins will begin.

Touché.

Julia at Parent Dish believes there is a benefit to the doll. “Anything that encourages breast-feeding and empowers young girls to embrace the natural side of womanhood is a good thing.”

Melissa at Rock and Drool, however, is adamantly against the doll stating there is “no way in HELL” she would ever buy this doll for her daughters and goes so far as to call it “ridiculous,” “stupid,” and “moronic.” Melissa, who points out that she breastfed her three children, said, “Are you freaking kidding me? A DOLL to promote breastfeeding? In children? WHY??? I fail to see the notion of how a doll is going to promote something like breastfeeding. And I don’t understand why it’s necessary! Quite frankly, I can’t even voice why this doll disturbs me on so many levels. It does. It’s just…WRONG.”

Julie from Julie’s Health Club on the Chicago Tribune asks, “if it’s OK for children to mimic bottle feeding a baby, why shouldn’t they be encouraged to breastfeed a baby?

But in the U.S., breastfeeding is often seen as a sexual act, rather than vital nourishment. And despite the popularity of those tarty Bratz dolls, many parents are concerned that a breastfeeding doll is too much too soon. What’s next? Playing house and pretending to make the baby?”

A commenter on Julie’s Health Club reacted strongly by saying, “This is a sad, stupid, ignorant, very untasteful way to raise a child. Let a child be a child! Stop trying to fill their minds with things they should not even know about until they are of age to know. If United States lets this doll come in, we will see more children abused, sexually, and they will be led to doing things grown ups do before they are 5 years old even. America!!!!!!!!!!! Wake Up!!!!!!!!!”

Bloggers aren’t the only ones talking about Bebé Glotón. Fox News chimed in on the “controversial” doll, by linking (probably not surprisingly) breastfeeding with sex.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor of FOXNews.com, said although he supports the idea of breast-feeding, he sees how his own daughter plays with dolls and wonders if Bebe Gloton might speed up maternal urges in the little girls who play it.

“Pregnancy has to entail maturity and understanding,” Alvarez said. “It’s like introducing sex education in first grade instead of seventh or eighth grade. Or, it could inadvertently lead little girls to become traumatized. You never know the effects this could have until she’s older.”

Sommer at Mama 2 Mama Tips said, “I have to wonder if Dr. Manny Alvarez is ignorant on history, does he think breasts have always been about sex and selling beer? Most likely he is projecting his ideas about sex and breasts onto children. To a child there is nothing sexual or inappropriate about pretending to breastfeed a doll. Because there is nothing sexual to young children, period. Certainly not feeding a baby doll, whether it be bottle or breast.”

As for my opinion, I believe children imitate what they see. If they see mom, auntie, or mom’s friend regularly breastfeeding a baby, chances are they at some point will try to do the same. I can’t count the number of times my daughter Ava tucked a baby doll under her shirt to “nurse” it, just like she saw her mama nursing her brother Julian. And while to my knowledge my younger son Julian has not nursed any dolls himself, he has brought me dolls, stuffed animals, Legos, etc. for me to “nurse” and I know of many little boys who have nursed their dolls. There has never been anything sexual about my kids nursing dolls nor have either of them expressed interest in having a baby of their own. I mean, c’mon, does this look sexual to you?

I think Bebé Glotón is a bit gimmicky and I am not in favor of toys that are made to perform a certain function and stifle creativity (or ones that are battery-operated). I also don’t believe having a special breastfeeding doll is necessary. However, I do think it’s good to have another option available on the market besides all of the dollies with a bottle. If a well-meaning friend or relative wanted to buy my child a doll and knew that we did not formula-feed, I’d like to think she’d have the option of buying a breastfeeding doll like Bebé Glotón. I wouldn’t seek out the doll myself for reasons already stated, but if we were to receive it as a gift, that would be fine by me. For the record, Ava saw the YouTube video of the doll and said she wants one. I’m not getting her one, but still, this doll obviously has some appeal to little girls. Julian, on the other hand, after watching it just kept imitating the doll’s burps. 😉

What do you think about Bebé Glotón?

Related posts:
From The Unnecesarean: Spanish Toy Maker Introduces World’s First Breastfeeding Doll
From Alpha Mommy: The Doll that Breastfeeds
From Feministing: Breastfeeding doll will lead to horny 5 year olds, pregnancy
From MotherLode: A Doll That Breast-feeds

Cross-posted on BlogHer

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Lookout BlogHer, here I…tiptoe (an intro to me)

BlogHer '09 In Real Life

Tomorrow afternoon I will embark on an adventure unlike any I’ve had before. I will kiss my kids and husband goodbye and travel alone (for the first time in more than five years) to the windy city of Chicago. I will arrive at the Sheraton hotel and likely not know what hit me as I join 1,500 other women bloggers for the sold-out Fifth Annual BlogHer Conference. There will be general sessions and break-out sessions, the community keynote, hugging, swag, friendships forming, more swag, networking, and more parties than you can shake a stick at.

I had been feeling really overwhelmed and anxious about it all, but honestly right now I am mostly just excited. This definitely isn’t something I do everyday and I’m excited to be a part of it all – to learn and grow as a blogger and to meet sooooo many women who, up until this point, I’ve known only virtually.

Yes, I will still be nervous and will be keeping my bottle of Xanax on hand just in case, but I am hoping I can push through the anxiety and turn it into an unforgettable experience.

Over at BlogHer, Denise recently suggested folks write a blogging primer on themselves as a pre-BlogHer get-to-know-you kind of post and here’s my go at it:

My name is Amy. I live in Colorado with my husband Jody (yes, he’s a guy) and our two kids Ava (5) and Julian (2.5). I’m currently a stay-at-home mom (hence the “Domestic” part of my blog name) and I also write as a contributing editor for BlogHer. I love finding new ways to “green” the way we live (hence the “Crunchy” party of my blog name) – from organic gardening to composting to cloth diapering to biking to using environmentally-safe non-toxic cleaners to making my own yogurt and granola (the best!) and much, much more. I like to post the occasional Green Challenge to motivate others (as well as myself) to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

I try to raise my kids using the Attachment Parenting philosophy, though I admit most of what I do is just parenting by instinct. I sometimes make mistakes though and am thankful that tomorrow is another day.

In addition to writing about parenting and eco-friendly living, I also enjoy writing about maternal health. I am a big believer in the power of a woman’s body (both to give birth and to nourish her baby) and I had my son at home with the help of my midwives.

I also consider myself an activist and most recently was involved in campaigning for Barack Obama and trying to get my city to allow backyard chickens. (I finally got the OK to get a permit!)

I grew up in an alcoholic family which is something that, after years of repressing, I am tackling head-on now. I kind of felt like I had no choice after I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder at the beginning of 2009. There are a lot of things in my life I am tackling head-on now (thanks to therapy) to help myself be a mentally and emotionally healthier person.

I sometimes struggle with how much information to share on my blog. There is a lot that I want to share that I don’t feel that I can out of respect for others who are involved. However, I often find myself sharing quite a bit anyway (things about myself and my anxiety disorder) and feel comfortable doing so as long as it’s not going to harm anyone.

Anyway, I bring up the alcoholism in my family’s past because growing up in those kind of conditions definitely shaped who I am today – which is a mostly quiet, reserved person, at least until you get to know me (or I have a glass of wine *wink*). Sometimes people thing I am just being snobby or stuck-up because I don’t talk much (especially in larger groups), but I’m just shy like that. I prefer one-on-one or small group conversations to those with several people. I feel more comfortable that way.

I love to write and am also a photography nut (and did portrait photography professionally for a while), though I haven’t picked up my SLR in months. I imagine that I will get back into again someday soon. I consider myself kind of crafty, but just don’t have the time to do much. However, after Jody recently suggested I make my own business card holder for BlogHer because “it would be the ultimate crunchy thing to do,” I had to take him up on the challenge. I sewed that by hand last night with some fabric I had and I cut a button off an old shirt. 😉 It’s not perfect, but, provided it doesn’t fall apart, should work just fine.

My favorite quotes are, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi (I had that printed on some stickers I will be passing out at BlogHer) and “Knowledge is power.” I try to live by both of those mottos.

I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at BlogHer (tomorrow, eeep!!!). Please remember that if I don’t immediately jump into a conversation or run up and introduce myself to you, it’s not because I’m stuck-up, I just move at my own pace (though would welcome you running up to me to introduce *yourself*). 😉 If you have time, write up a “getting to know you” post of your own and then link to it over on BlogHer and leave me a comment here with the link too so I can read about you before I meet you. 🙂

And if you aren’t going to BlogHer (I will miss you!), but want to know what I’m up to (hiding in a corner? sneaking away for a nap? eating some Chicago-style pizza? partying with my roomie PhDinParenting?), I plan on tweeting while there so be sure to Follow me on Twitter. You can also search flickr for photos tagged “Blogher09” – maybe I’ll turn up in some. 🙂

Lastly, a big THANK YOU to my sponsor Stonyfield Farm for helping me with my trip expenses. If you are interested in trying some of Stonyfield Farm’s new organic Oikos Greek Yogurt, track me down at BlogHer and I’ll give you a coupon for a free container of it. 🙂

Future vaccine may prevent ear infections

A new vaccine that may someday prevent ear infections (otitis media) in children is currently in the works. The vaccine is still a ways out from being tested on children, but the results on chinchillas have been promising so far.

Photo courtesy Tandem Racer
Photo courtesy Tandem Racer

The needleless vaccine, developed by Dr. Lauren Bakaletz, a researcher at Nationwide Children’s hospital, is administered by way of a drop of liquid rubbed into the skin on the outside of the ear.

Dr. Bakaletz says it works by activating cells just under the surface of the skin, called dendritic cells. When this liquid touches the skin, it touches off a response throughout the body.

“These cells deliver it to the lymphoid organs where it can generate an immune response. So really harnessing a power that’s there all the time, but you’re doing it in a way that’s now directed toward a specific disease,” says Dr. Bakaletz.

It seems only natural that moms, especially those of young children, are having some strong reactions to the news of this possible future vaccine. Some of the those I’ve seen from moms thus far include excitement and curiosity, as well as disbelief, frustration and cynicism.

An anonymous commenter on News Anchor Mom said, “Don’t you think we should be looking into the CAUSES of these ear infections rather than just adding yet ANOTHER vaccine to the list? Neither one of my children have ever had an ear infection. They are now 4 and 2.”

Karissa, another commenter, said, “Wow! What an ingenious idea! I am always leery of giving more vaccines but ear infections are the worst! It seemed like for years one of my three kids always had one. The kids were miserable, and couldn’t sleep or eat. … I’m interested to see what happens with this.”

Yet another commenter, Emily from Randomability said, “This sounds promising and it doesn’t go into the ear either. My only concern would be long term side effects.”

Catherine Morgan shares a lot of the same thoughts and concerns that I have regarding this vaccine and vaccines in general and wonders how many is too many.

I wonder how many pharmaceutical companies are bothering to invest in research to actually cure diseases that kill children? Because, why should they bother wasting money on cures for drugs that only a small fraction of children will ever need (buy), when they can make billions on new vaccines for non-life threatening illnesses that can be sold to every child?

Regardless of how you feel about autism, food allergies, or processed foods…When it comes right down to it, pharmaceutical companies are making vaccines that they believe can be most profitable for their companies. I think there comes a time when we (the parents and the consumers) need to decide that we don’t need to vaccinate every child for every illness that they may or may not get.

The thing is our immune systems need to develop by actually fighting off these infections, viruses and diseases on their own. We are already becoming a society with more and more people suffering with auto-immune diseases (like MS, Lupus, Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis, Celiac Disease, just to name a few). Personally, I would rather risk my child coming down with the flu, the chicken pox or an ear infection and fighting it off now, than risk their immune system failing them when they really need it later.

Is there a vaccine that we would ever say no to?

A vaccine to end conjunctivitis (pink eye)?
A vaccine to prevent poison ivy?
A vaccine to prevent runny noses or sore throats?
A vaccine to end diaper rash?

Where do we draw the line? How many vaccines is too many?

Interestingly enough, I first learned about this vaccine via an email that was sent to me from a media relations specialist (MRS). She mentioned that she could put me in touch with Dr. Bakaletz so I took her up on her offer and sent her a list of questions that I and other women (both bloggers and non-bloggers) came up with. Some of the questions included:

  • What are the possible side effects of the vaccine? – asked by Beth of The Natural Mommy
  • Who will be the manufacturer of this vaccine?
  • What are the ingredients?
  • Could this vaccine create resistant strains like antibiotics do? – also asked by Beth of The Natural Mommy
  • What are you trying to prevent with the ear infection vaccine – ear infections, the number of children who need tubes in their ears or deafness? – asked by Kayris of Great Walls of Baltimore and Kate

The response I got from the MRS was that the questions were “a bit too detailed for Dr. Bakaletz to answer given where she’s at in the development of her vaccine at this point.” However, she encouraged me to submit some more general questions, so I said:

  • I’d love to know how long the vaccine will be tested (on animals and humans) before it is deemed safe for public use and/or if she knows what the possible side effects are.
  • What prompted her to pursue making an ear infection vaccine?

Again, I was told, “Unfortunately Dr. Bakaletz couldn’t answer your specific questions.” However, she did forward on to me some general information from Dr. Bakaletz. This response left me a bit frustrated and wondering why I was told I could be put in touch with the doctor in the first place.

Whether you are excited about the prospect of this vaccine or not, it will not likely be available any time soon. Dr. Bakaletz notes, “most vaccines have taken 25-30 years from discovery to development, so I can’t really predict how soon the transcutaneous vaccine would be available since we’re still so early in terms of our experience with this vaccination approach.”

In the meantime, children will continue to get ear infections and treating them with antibiotics is not always (in fact, not usually) the best course of treatment. According to this recent Health News article, “Repeated use of antibiotics to treat acute ear infections in young children increases the risk of recurrent ear infections by 20 percent, according to researchers in the Netherlands who called for more prudent use of antibiotics in young children. … Antibiotics may reduce the length and severity of the initial ear infection, but may also result in a higher number of recurrent infections and antibiotic resistance, the researchers stated. Because of this, they said, doctors need to be careful in their use of antibiotics in children with ear infections.” You can read the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for treating ear infections here, which include:

  • Minimize antibiotic side effects by giving parents of select children the option of fighting the infection on their own for 48-72 hours, then starting antibiotics if they do not improve.
  • Encourage families to prevent AOM (acute otitis media) by reducing risk factors. For babies and infants these include breastfeeding for at least six months, avoiding “bottle propping,” and eliminating exposure to passive tobacco smoke.

SafBaby also suggests parents of children who suffer from ear infections might want to look into chiropractic care as an alternative to antibiotics.

Cross-posted at BlogHer.