Friday, December 24, 2010

Bonding with Baby (and the Whole Family) During the Holidays

Some dads find the bustle of the holidays invigorating, a chance to show love for family and friends, an excuse to eat special foods like pot roast and figgy pudding, and a time to take a breather from work.

Others would rather have pneumonia than have to buy one more Christmas present or attend one more holiday party. They feel stressed about money, prone to depression because of family-of-origin issues, and generally out of sorts.

But whether you're Happy or Grinchy around Christmastime, it's important to try to stay connected to your baby, and your family.

Here's how:

1) Set aside some quiet time every day when you can play with your baby. Even if it's just ten minutes, make sure you have this time to reconnect.

2) Set clear boundaries with visiting family before they arrive. Make sure you explain the baby's schedule to them and let them know that your plans will revolve around that.

3) Bring the baby with you on errands or exercise. This gives your partner a break and gives you some time with the little one.

4) Don't be passive aggressive when holiday stress is bothering you. Communicate with your partner and tell your family when you need space.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Canadian Study Finds Obese Children Have Heart Problems

Dads! Maybe it's time to give up the Happy Meals and dust off the baseball mitts?

A recent study of 63 obese children in Canada found that they have heart problems usually associated with adults with cardiovascular disease.

"We were surprised to find that these obese children already have stiff blood vessels," Dr. Kevin Harris from B.C.'s Children's Hospital told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

"Aortic stiffness is an early indicator of cardiovascular disease in obese children," Dr. Harris explained.

The results of his study indicate that the aging process has been accelerated in the aorta of grossly overweight children.

Dr. Harris and colleagues evaluated 63 obese children and compared them with 55 normal weight controls.

According to a press release from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, blood pressure was taken, lipids evaluated, and body mass index measured. Children then underwent echocardiography, or ultrasound, of the heart and blood vessels. This test was used to determine the Pulse Wave Velocity in the aorta. This is a measure of how fast blood flows and was one of the measures used to assess aortic stiffness.

Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson says the rate of childhood obesity has tripled over the last 25 years and it continues to increase. Over 25 per cent of Canadian children between the ages of two and 17 years are overweight or obese, with the percent increasing with age from 21 percent among those two to five years to 29 percent among those aged 12 to 17.

Researchers don't know if the ill effects of obesity are reversible but it has been found that reducing processed food consumption, eating fresh healthy food (and lots of leafy greens), spending more time outside, and exercising as a family all help prevent childhood obesity.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dads Need To Eat More Greens

We know that a diet higher in vegetables, especially raw vegetables, is good for all Americans. But eating leafy greens may be particularly good for dads.

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), over-consumption of milk products in America may be connected with the high incidents of prostate cancer that we have here.

"Prostate cancer is one of the most common malignancies worldwide, with an estimated 400,000 new cases diagnosed annually," writes Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D. in a PCRM fact sheet. The fact sheet concludes: "... [S]everal lines of evidence indicate that consumption of dairy products is associated with increased risk of prostate cancer incidence and mortality. Avoidance of these products may offer a means of reducing risk of this common illness."

So what should men eat instead?

Green leafy vegetables!

Any nutritionist will tell you that one key to good health is to eat a high intake of green leafies, especially dark ones that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

However, if all you’re bringing home from the supermarket is iceberg lettuce, you may need to revisit the salad aisle.

While crisp, light green iceberg lettuce is a beloved food for many Americans, it’s actually the least healthy of the greens, and better left at home. Iceberg lettuce does have fiber, and some vitamin A. But Ruth Yaron, author of the bestselling book, "Super Baby Food," calls it a “nutritional waste of time,” and urges Americans to consider darker, tastier greens.

Unlike iceberg lettuce, most dark green leafies are high in iron, the mineral that is found in the largest quantities in the blood. Common knowledge that women need to have a diet high in iron, fewer people know that men need to make sure they get enough iron as well. Iron is responsible for producing the blood’s hemoglobin and also for oxygenating red blood cells.

According to the National Anemia Action Council, at least 3.4 million Americans suffer from anemia, an iron deficiency. About 20% are women, and about 50% are children.

Squeezing lemon juice or other citrus on greens, or eating them with fish, also helps the body absorb iron more efficiently.

But for those of us who do not know our arugula from our mustard greens, how do we decide which green to pluck off the vegetable shelf?

Arugula: For the novice green leaf eater, beware: arugula is surprisingly spicy. Some describe this flavorful green as “nutty.” It has a sharp crisp flavor, a palate pleaser to those who like unusual tastes. Use in the place of spinach or lettuce. Arugula can also be cooked and added to pasta sauces or other dishes. But if you’re interested in getting the most nutrients for your leaf, eat it raw.

Chicory: You’ll often find chicory in gourmet salad mixtures, which may be the best way to eat it. Like arugula, chicory has a bitter flavor. In WWII when coffee was in short supply, the roots of chicory were dried and added to coffee to stretch it. In New Orleans, it’s remained a chosen taste ever since. Rich in vitamins K, C, and calcium, chicory is also good in soups and sauces.

Collard greens: Popular in the South where every supermarket stocks these gigantic leaves, collard greens are dark in color and the leaves are tough. Best steamed or boiled, try not to overcook them (Southerners tend to cook most of the flavor—and the nutrients—out of collard greens and serve them drowning in butter as a side dish. Not the healthiest way to eat these flavorful leaves.) They are rich in vitamin A and calcium, as well as fiber and other nutrients.

Dandelion greens: While Italian-Americans love dandelion greens (also called cardoons), they’re not as popular with the mainstream American palate. Rich in vitamin A and calcium, dandelion greens have a delightfully bitter taste. If you don’t go for bitter, try sautéing them in lemon juice, butter, salt, and vinegar to cut the flavor. Best served over homemade Italian pasta or with cannellini beans.

Kale: Kale’s a champion among green leafy vegetables. It has a strong taste, and its leaves are tough (though baby and adult leaves can be eaten raw, some people prefer to cook them) but it’s so packed with nutritional perfection that this is a leaf you should not pass up. Cultivating a liking for the strong flavor of kale means a pay off in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, folic acid, and potassium. Try dinosaur kale (it looks scaly, hence the name) or purple kale (yep, it’s purple).

Mustard greens: These greens are spicy even “hot.” Like their fellow leaf friends, mustard greens are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. To maximize their nutritional content, eat them raw in a salad mixture. They also add a nice flavor to soup.

Spinach: Most of us know spinach though we might not be in the habit of eating it. But it’s worth the work to cultivate a taste for this iron-packed, vitamin rich leaf. Rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron, spinach should be added to any salad you serve. If, like some people, you find spinach to be more earthy than sweet, try baby spinach (that really expensive stuff served by the leaf in pricey restaurants) for a more mitigated taste.

Swiss chard: chard is actually a type of beet that has been developed for its large yummy leaves and edible stalks instead of for its roots. It’s rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium and can be eaten raw or cooked in a stirfry.

As greens become cool (this is not just a nutrition enhancer, eating greens will soon be a fashion statement as well), more unusual varieties are cropping up.

Look for tot soi (a baby Asian green), mizuna, cress, garlic greens, Korean spinach, New Zealand spinach, purslane, trevisse, radicchio, brocolli rapini, and mâche.

You may take a shine to one of these greens, and your body (and your kids) will thank you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

7 Ways to be an Incredible Father

There's a great post by Laura Egley Taylor, the art director at Mothering magazine, called 7 ways to be an incredible father.

Her top three:

#1: Love your children and let them know it.

#2: Be fair.

#3: Listen to your children.

Read the entire post post by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Keeping Children Safe While Biking

Summer is here, in full swelter. And your kids are outside biking. But do they know how to keep themselves safe?

Here's bike safety information to share with your children:

The eight best ways to keep yourself safe from cars while biking

1. Ride in the bike lane, not the sidewalk. Drivers don't look down the sidewalk for bikes, and they pull right into it when coming out of driveways.

2. When cars are parked on the right side of the street, watch out for opening doors.  Ride three feet away from the cars: just imagine that all the cars' doors were all the way open, and ride so you won't hit them--that way they can't hit you!

3. When you are riding on a street with no bike lane, ride to the side but leave at least a couple feet of room between you and the curb.  If the lane isn't wide enough for a car to pass you, ride right in the middle of the lane.  Oregon law lets bikers use one whole lane when they need to.  On Main St. in Ashland, for example, to stay away from the parked cars' opening doors, you have to ride in the middle of the lane.  If you don't feel safe on a street like that, just walk your bike down the sidewalk to a better street.

4. Where cars are crossing your path at intersections or driveways, yield the right of way to them. Before you cross any place where a car can drive, slow down and get ready to stop if you have to, and look all ways: not just right and left, but in front and behind for cars turning into the crossing.

5. When you're in a bike lane, never pass a car on the right side of it: drivers don't look for you before they turn right, and may cut you off or turn right into you. When stopped at a light or stop sign, and there is a car on your left, don't start out into the intersection before you know if the car is turning right. 

6. Make eye contact!  When a driver is waiting to turn in front of you, look at their face and see if they are looking at you.  If they are only looking the other way, don't cross in front of them.

7. Use lights on your bike whenever you are not in bright sunlight. Reflectors are not enough, though you should wear them and reflective clothing too. The more lights the better!

8. Drivers make mistakes, and they sometimes don't see bicyclists. Sometimes when you are riding, a driver will actually make a mistake and not do what you expect. It is not an if, it's a when, so you need to expect it.  Always ride so that when a driver makes a mistake or doesn't see you, they can't hit you.

1. Use the bike lane.
2. Steer clear of opening doors.
3. Ride 2 or 3 feet from the curb in a car lane; or in narrow lanes ride in the middle.
4. Wherever cars can cross your path, get ready to yield and look all ways.
5. Never pass cars on the right, not even at a stop.
6. Make eye contact.
7. Use lights.
8. Expect the worst from drivers, and ride so they can't hit you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Study Shows Primate Papas Use Infants to Enhance Their Clout

In an article in the New York Times today Natalie Angier has a very interesting article about father-child bonds in the animal world.

The article mentions a new study in the Journal of Animal Behavior about the ways Barbary macaques parlay infant care into social clout among other males.

Angier writes:
[The authors of the study] describe how male Barbary macaques use infants as “costly social tools” for the express purpose of bonding with other males and strengthening their social clout. Want to befriend the local potentate? Bring a baby. Need to reinforce an existing male-male alliance, or repair a frayed one? Don’t forget the baby.

It doesn’t matter if the infant is yours or not. Just so long as it has the downy black fur and wrinkly pinkish face that adult male macaques find impossible to resist. “They will hold up the infant like a holy thing, nuzzling it, chattering their teeth,” Dr. Fischer said. “It can be a bit bewildering to see.”

Just in time for Father’s Day come this and other recent studies that reveal surprising, off-road or vaguely unsettling cases of Males Behaving Dadly — attending to the young with an avidity and particularity long thought to be the province of the mother.

Scientists have learned, for example, that the male pipefish — which, like his seahorse relatives, famously becomes pregnant and gives birth to live young — is both more generous and more calculatedly harsh toward his offspring than previously believed, able to fine-tune the flow of nutrients to his gestating babies depending on how he feels about their mother.
Read the entire article, Paternal Bonds, Special and Strange

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Dad Tells About His Daughter's Cerebral Palsy

Cross-posted at Click over there to see photos of Mark Wada and his family.

My name is Mark Wada, and my wife and I have a daughter with cerebral palsy.

The girl in that beautiful picture wearing the white dress is my daughter Rachel. Only now she’s 19 years old.

I would like to give you a glimpse into our world.

While every child rearing experience comes with its own set of challenges, joys, crises and successes, raising a child with a major developmental disability presents many issues most families will never experience.

Rachel was born on October 2nd, 1990 to a 15-year-old from southern Washington, who came to the emergency room of the hospital in the Dalles complaining of stomach pains.

She was shocked to find out that the stomach problems were because she was having a baby that day.

“This can’t be happening,” she said. “I have to take a test tomorrow.”

My wife and I were at a conference in Monterey, California when we first heard about Rachel’s birth. Rachel’s birth mother was considering putting the baby up for adoption, and she and her mother would let us know the next day. We had put the word out that we were interested in adopting and had just started the process to do so but had not yet signed up with an adoption agency. My wife’s sister was the nurse for the doctor who handled the delivery. She put in the word for us, and the birth mother and her mother decided that they were okay with that. Robin and I were playing golf the next day, and the hospital paged us on the first tee to tell us that the birth mother had decided to go ahead with the adoption and Rachel would be ours if we wanted her.

We finished that round of golf—I got my first eagle ever that day—and flew home the next day.

Since the birth mother had had no prenatal care, no one knew her due date. The doctors believe Rachel was born about 5 weeks early. Rachel was our first child, and since the adoption had happened so unexpectedly before we had even signed up with an adoption agency, we had no time to prepare for taking care of a baby. I’ll confess that I felt so ill prepared for the adoption that at the San Francisco airport, I was looking to see if there was a good book on parenting.

We had no baby room, no baby clothes, no crib, no bassinette. We got back to Portland, Oregon, where we live, and spent one day getting some things together. Then we drove to the Dalles to bring Rachel home.

When we drove back to West Linn, I commented to my wife that I have more documents when I rent a car than when we brought Rachel home.

Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Rachel was a very colicky baby. We survived on a few hours of sleep as we tried different techniques to get her to quiet down. Rachel was a difficult baby, and she would cry and fuss literally for hours. We tried every trick in the book to console her. I would find myself dripping wet with sweat trying to calm her down after hours of crying. I will never forget when Robin came in the bedroom at 4 a.m. one morning, dropped Rachel on the bed and said “if you don’t take this baby, I’m going to kill her.” I woke up right away and took over. Those were crazy years for us, because I was the managing partner of my law firm with a busy practice and I think I lived on about four hours of sleep for a year or so. We adopted our second daughter 10 months after Rachel was born, so it felt like we had twins. Robin and I both felt that as older parents, we were maybe better able to deal with a difficult baby than we would have been in our early 20’s. I was 37 when Rachel was born and Robin was 33. I think Rachel’s muscle spasticity greatly contributed to her difficulties as a baby.

Our first pediatrician was recommended by friends. He had a very busy and successful practice. But as we noticed things that caused us concern, the pediatrician examined Rachel and would give us a stock speech about how first-time parents worry about things that he would chalk up to normal differences in the rate of development of babies.

When Rachel was about six months old, Robin was fed up with the pediatrician and decided to have Rachel checked by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

She examined Rachel and said that she was blind and recommended an MRI.

When they showed the MRI to me, my wife says I went white. It showed that nearly 30 percent of Rachel’s brain had been damaged.

The most likely cause, they told us, was that the umbilical cord had gotten twisted when Rachel was a fetus, and the lack of oxygen to the brain caused this level of damage.

Doctors can tell you generally that damage to certain areas of the brain may affect speech, muscle control and other functions. Unfortunately, they can’t tell you much more than that.

Since the areas of brain damage and the extent of the damage will vary from child to child, there is no roadmap for parents to indicate what to expect. One physical therapist told me that Rachel’s body functions normally, it is just that the signals from the brain are totally messed up.

Rachel has what I understand to be a fairly high level of disability. In one of her schools, the principal told us she was the most disabled child they had ever had. Rachel is not completely blind. She can see things that are put close to her eyes and she likely has better peripheral vision. She can only say anywhere from 10 to 20 words, but it is clear that she understands more than she can verbalize. We communicate with her largely by asking yes or no questions. While Rachel has an augmentative communication device, she uses it only sporadically.

The level of muscle spasticity varies with kids with CP. In Rachel’s case, she has spastic quadriplegia, which means that she has very tight muscles affecting her legs and arms. We dress her, shower her and transfer her to and from her bed and other equipment. We built a handicap accessible house about 16 years ago that has a lift system to get her to and from the bed. We still try to get Rachel to eat solid food, even though she hardly chews any of it. This means that we have to cut it up in very small pieces, and feeding her can take up to an hour for each meal.

Rachel is in a manual wheelchair full time. We did try her out in an electric wheelchair a couple of times, but putting a nearly blind child behind the controls of an electric wheelchair … did not turn out to be a good idea.

As you might imagine, Rachel has a myriad of medical issues. She has had 12 surgeries, ranging from some fairly simple ones to more difficult ones. Her spasticity probably played a part in her scoliosis that caused her vertebrae to be curved to almost 90 degrees. She had scoliosis surgery to straighten her vertebrae and put in two metal rods to keep them straight. Her hip was being pulled out of the socket, so she had a major surgery in which a bone was grafted to the socket to keep the hip from going all of the way out of the socket. Rachel was one of the first kids in Oregon to get a baclofen pump (about the size of a hockey puck) put in her stomach to pump a muscle relaxant into her spine. We have to get that pump filled with baclofen every couple of months and replace the pump every four to five years. Before getting the baclofen pump, she would be up in the middle of the night quite often with muscle spasms in her legs. She also has seizures and has taken seizure medication most of her life.

Rachel is more than her diagnosis

Let me tell you about Rachel as a person. She is a beautiful young lady, with a spirit that draws people to her. She has finished high school and is attending a post-high school program in Wilsonville three days a week for three years.

She does not like to just sit around the house and watch TV or movies or listen to music, although those are favorite activities of hers. She wants to go out to lunch, go shopping at the mall or go to the movies or a concert.

When she doesn’t get what she wants, she has a bad habit of screaming. My nickname for her is “beautiful screamer.” This can happen when she leaves the shopping mall (because she doesn’t want to go) or if she doesn’t like the movie that she’s watching. She also sometimes screams when she is really happy, so when she gets out of the shower and we put her on her bed, she will often scream out of what seems to be pure joy for a minute or two. Fortunately our neighbors have not called DHS when they hear this coming out of our house.

I think her screaming has been helpful to her, as many kids with CP are prone to respiratory problems. Sometimes the screaming is a blessing, although not when we want to leave the mall.

She is a loving child, and it is an unconditional love. She is Daddy’s girl around our house. For many years, when I would get home from work, she would scream “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” and would practically jump out of her wheelchair until I would give her a hug. She would then laugh with a very infectious laugh and smash my face against hers. I think she has more different laughs than anyone else I know. And her hugs, I call them “smash face hugs” and one day I swear she is going to break my cheekbones.

At those moments, I tell her that I am the luckiest father in the world.

I think about how much she has had to endure and yet she is always able to greet me with a smile that lights up a room. No child should have to go through what Rachel has and will go through, but she faces each day with grace, a good attitude and patience (except when she screams, of course).

But the real unsung hero in all of this is my wife, Robin. I could not have asked for a better life partner for this undertaking. Robin is a Rachel believer and advocate. She is the primary caregiver for Rachel who stays by her side night and day when she is in the hospital.

What about the future?

There are many challenges that lie ahead for us. Will we be taking care of Rachel for the rest of our lives until we cannot physically do it anymore? While that is not a good option for Rachel or for us, I can tell you that we will have mixed feelings when she moves out, because there will be a huge void in our lives when Rachel no longer lives with us.

I wonder how will she spend her days, since it seems unlikely that she will ever be able to work. How do you give her opportunities to have a full and fulfilling life and what does that mean for her?

My family is fortunate, even blessed, that we have some resources to do things for our daughter and plan for her future. But even with those resources, you need help. You need an organization like United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) to help you and guide you through the process, because the choices are not clear ones and there are times when we are plowing new ground.

UCP has referred us to doctors and therapists and helped us understand Rachel’s condition. We’ve looked to UCP for assistance with estate planning issues and with dealing with challenges in the schools. Someone from UCP met with a group of us to talk about living situations for our kids. Given the level of Rachel’s medical and caregiver needs, a nursing home with elderly residents may be one option, but UCP is helping us explore more palatable options.

Raising a daughter with a major disability has opened my eyes. At times when I’m pushing Rachel’s wheelchair, I see the looks in people’s eyes, as though I have ET in the chair. I have seen people at their best and their worst. We have a long way to go in this country to look beyond what we see on the surface. I have learned so much about diversity issues because of Rachel. Take anyone you know, put him or her in a wheelchair, and that person would instantly be viewed by many in this world as less competent, less intelligent and more difficult to hire, train and employ. That needs to change.

As my wife would say, people like Rachel are not disabled people, they are people with a disability.

Thank you for reading this post and letting me share my daughter’s story with you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Potty matches the dress

Many parents today are re-inventing parenting, exploring other ways to do things, and we are no exception. This go-around we are trying out Elimination Communication, in which you attempt to go diaper-free by paying attention to when your baby needs to go, and giving them an opportunity to go over the potty (or the grass...or your lap if you miss the cue). It's like potty training but for parents: it's YOU who gets trained to know when they need to go--they don't have to do anything. We were skeptical but interested.

Since trying it, we have been amazed at how often babies start squirming 30 seconds before they pee. I've been wondering how often our three other children were fussing inexplicably when they just needed to pee. It's pretty clear now that she doesn't like to wet her diaper (we use cloth, and though it cuts down on our laundry, we are far from diaper-free).

All those times I have wondered what was going on with a fussing baby, I've had the question: is there a reason, or is she just feeling fussy? Sometimes it's probably just fussy time, but the more I learn, the more fussing turns out to have a very good reason that I just couldn't understand.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bonding As They're Growing Up Too

There's a gorgeous article that appeared in last week's Fashion & Style section of the New York Times about a dad who read to his daughter every night, night after night, without fail, from the time she was in fourth grade until the day she left for college.

Here's an excerpt:
When The Streak reached 100, they celebrated with a pancake breakfast, and Kristen whispered, “I think we should try for 1,000 nights.”

Mr. Brozina was delighted, but what he was thinking was, a thousand nights?! “I thought, we’ll never do it,” he recalled. “And then we got to 1,000, and we said, ‘How can we stop?’ ”

For 3,218 nights (and some mornings, if Mr. Brozina was coming home too late to read), The Streak went on. It progressed from James Marshall’s picture books about George and Martha (two close friends who happen to be hippos) to middle-school classics like “When Zachary Beaver Came to Town” to the 14 Oz books (which they read four times each), to Harry Potter, Agatha Christie, Dickens and Shakespeare, continuing on, until Kristen’s first day of college.

In those nine-plus years, they survived many close calls. When Kristen was still in elementary school, her father and older sister went to Washington. “The phone rings at 10:45 at the hotel and it’s Kristen,” Mr. Brozina recalled. “She says, ‘Dad, we forgot The Streak!’ Fortunately, I always travel with several books and we read right then and there.”
Click here to read the full article, which is called "A Father-Daughter Bond, Page by Page."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love, Sex, and the Male Brain

There's a great opinion piece on about how male brains are wired, how they respond to testosterone, and how women often misinterpret men because their brains work differently.

For our Daddy-Baby bonding purposes, the most important part of the piece is in the middle. The author, Louann Brizendine, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and founder and director of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic, writes:

The 'Doting Daddy Brain'
A man in hot pursuit of a mate doesn't even remotely resemble a devoted, doting daddy. But that's what his future holds. When his mate becomes pregnant, she'll emit pheromones that will waft into his nostrils, stimulating his brain to make more of a hormone called prolactin. Her pheromones will also cause his testosterone production to drop by 30 percent.

These hormonal changes make him more likely to help with the baby. They also change his perceptual circuitry, increasing his ability to hear a baby cry, something many men can't do very well before their wives are pregnant.

And a word to the wise for all the young mothers who are reluctant to let your husbands hold and care for your newborn. The more hands-on care a father gives his infant, the more his brain aligns with the role of fatherhood. So, hand over the baby. (Emphasis ours).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dads Can Do EC Too!

EC = Elimination Communication.

The basic idea is this: a human baby is born with the instinct not to soil the nest, just like other primates and almost all mammals.

But in America we've lost the ability to recognize and respond to when a baby needs to pee or poop.

A very small group of moms and dads, however, have gone back to a more natural way of parenting and are responding to their baby's signals and taking them to the potty.

It's truly amazing. Some people call it being "diaper free." But whether your baby is diaper-free or not isn't the point. The point is to communicate with your baby, listen to his or her signals, and also help him or her recognize the need to eliminate.


Here are some places you can read more about the concept of elimination communication:

An Interview With Infant Pottying Expert Christine Gross-Loh

Misses and Catches

The Incredible Pooping Baby

Friday, February 26, 2010

Angry? It May Not Be So Good For Your Health

“Sorry I’m late,” apologized the manager of a local furniture store who rushed in at 9:15 a.m., a plastic pharmacy bag dangling from her wrist. “I had to stop at the drugstore,” she explained, gesturing to the bag.

“Sick?” The customer asked.

“No,” she rasped. “I was screaming so loudly at my kids this morning that I lost my voice.”

Anger. Rage. Fury. Ire. Wrath. Spleen. Petulance.

The English language has dozens of words to describe an emotion that all of us feel keenly, whether we express it or not.

We all get angry—whether it is at our kids, or at the driver who cut us off at the stop light, or at our boss, or at our editor.

But is anger good for you? Does anger have any health benefits? To lead a healthy life is it better to express anger or suppress it?

There is an abundance of recent health studies that suggest that anger is not good for your health.

For example, one University of North Carolina study, published in the medical journal, The Lancet, showed that men and women who possessed the most anger traits were as much as seven times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

Another study of anger management in 54 married couples conducted by Dr. Sybil Carrère, Ph.D., similarly found that women who could not control their anger, or who got angry more frequently than they would have liked, had feelings of dissatisfaction in their marriages, higher heart beats, and more trouble decompressing physically after a bout of anger. According to Dr. Carrère, this evidence suggests that women’s cardiovascular health could be jeopardized by frequent anger.

“I just feel clenched,” explains 28-year-old Natasha Pangburn of Eugene, Oregon, who stops talking and feels herself “shutting off” when she gets angry. “If I’m really angry I just turn off. I get this tight feeling. I feel like people don’t understand me no matter how hard I try.”

Pangburn, who has been trying to find ways to express her anger more overtly, believes that anger is harmful and makes intimate relationships strained. “It creates a divide between me and other people."

Kristen Bernard, an obstetric nurse at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital in Vermont, agrees that bottling up anger is not good for you.

“Anger goes along with a whole cycle of health issues,” says Bernard. “I have one client who is angry and has irritable bowel syndrome. This person is getting bleeding ulcers from the tension the anger creates.”

Bernard believes that people need to be encouraged to resolve their anger in order to help them lead healthier lives: “As a health care practitioner, that is one of the first things I focus on—what are you angry about? How can I help you with it? It is my number one priority.”

According to Joni Cohen-Mitchell, Director of the Brick House in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, there are many ways to help people resolve conflicts and diffuse anger. The Brick House runs programs that help people learn to listen to others, to agree to disagree respectfully and then move on, to use humor to break the tension in an angry encounter, to write about their feelings as a way of recording and validating them, and to use “I” statements (“I feel angry,” “I get upset when...”) instead of being accusatory.

Although studies show that people who are angry more often than not—whether they express their anger or suppress it—are at higher risk for heart problems, the American Psychological Association (APA) advocates expressing anger in a controlled way.

According to a brochure published by the APA, “Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn't mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.”

According to Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., a world renown specialist on anger and author of the best-selling book, The Dance of Anger, anger is both a natural emotion and an emotion well worth paying attention to.

Dr. Lerner argues that anger can be productive, and that recurring anger can help a person become aware of a more serious underlying problem.

Lerner says anger should not be used as an excuse to blame other people. Instead, anger should be recognized as a signal that harmful behavior patterns need to be changed.

When men and women pay attention to their anger and use it as a starting point to change then anger, according to Dr. Lerner, is something for which we can be grateful.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fathers in Britain Get Paid Paternity Leave

Looks like it's time to expatriate.

According to a British newspaper, fathers in Great Britain will be entitled to up to six months of paternity leave, three months of which will be paid leave.

The new law is to enable women to go back to work sooner, while the dads stay home with the babies. After three months of paid leave, they can choose to spend another three months at home, unpaid.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A New American Born Every 14 Seconds

Apparently a new American is born every 14 seconds.

And the population of the United States is high right now: 308 million people. Some of the population growth is due to immigration but mostly it's because of all the new babies.

The reporter who wrote about this in Philadelphia's Family Newspaper, The Bulletin, used a photo of Jennifer Margulis and James di Properzio (the co-authors of the Baby Bonding Book For Dads and the co-authors of this blog) to illustrate the story.

Here's the photograph:

The caption underneath it reads:
Jennifer Margulis and husband James di Properzio gaze at their newest daughter, Leone Francesca, at their home in Ashland, Ore. on Nov. 11. An increase in births pushed the U.S. population up about 1 percent this year to a projected 308,400,408 as of Jan. 1, 2010, a jump of 2,606,181, the U.S. Census Bureau said this week. (Jeff Barnard/Associated Press)