Making healthy babies and keeping them healthy, happy … and safe.

Archive for March, 2008

Pregnant (or working on it)? Detox your diet!

Posted by NonToxic House on March 31, 2008


Decisions over what to eat can be overwhelming when you’re pregnant – or if you’re trying. You know you’ll need to fuel your growing baby with good stuff and avoid passing bad stuff along. But, what’s good? What’s bad?

I came across some great advice from Fit Pregnancy. They’ve simplified food choices down to six simple steps, using The Whole Pregnancy Handbook by Joel M. Evans, M.D., and Robin Aronson (Gotham Books, 2005) as their guide. Read on for the tips:

Read the rest of this entry »


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Meet Sophie. A non-toxic teether.

Posted by NonToxic House on March 28, 2008


Ohdeedoh has a nice round-up of non-toxic teethers – great for your baby or (how thoughtful!) for a friend’s. The post was prompted by a reader who asked, ‘With so much attention being paid to the dangers of plastics and lead in toys, do decent options exist for teething babies?’.

Why, yes, the options are decent – and apparently super chic! My favorite is Sophie the Giraffe, an old school French teether made of natural rubber (that’s right, from a rubber tree).

The RaZ-Berry silicone teether, though, I can do without.



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10 safest states for kids

Posted by NonToxic House on March 25, 2008


Does where you live impact your kids’ safety? Parents magazine crunched the numbers  on 30+ criteria to find out. Their verdict? It absolutely depends on your home state. Check out their safest state rankings:

1. Connecticut

2. Rhode Island

3. New Jersey

4. New York

5. California

6. Maine

7. Pennsylvania

8. Massachussets

9. Maryland

10. Oregon

Surprised? There’s a detailed list of the criteria used for the rankings, if you’re interested (or just want to see where your state fits in).

Some of the laws Parents cited seemed a bit heavy-handed, which begs the question of whether we’re breeding the brains out of parents. On the other hand, I was thrilled to see that sex offender rates were part of the mix (sadly, we can never be too aware). 

Either way, great food for thought.

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Research: Little swimmers need folic acid too

Posted by NonToxic House on March 21, 2008


An earlier post covered the benefits of folic acid for women. But, today, the Washington Post reported on a study that says it can benefit men too. Dads-to-be with low levels of folate (the natural form of folic acid) were at increased risk of having sperm with too few/too many chromosomes, according to the research.

The fine print? Men with “poor nutrition” still had 99 percent normal sperm. But the researchers still advised men in baby-making mode to increase their folate intake (my husband’s multi-vitamin already has 100 percent of the daily folic acid requirement; I bet most do).

The takeaway is that good nutrition is important for both sexes when you’re planning a baby. Study details are in the journal of Human Reproduction.

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How not to dry a baby.

Posted by NonToxic House on March 20, 2008


Who says safety tips can’t be fun? The photo comes from a great tongue-in-cheek book, Safe Baby Handling Tips by David Sopp.

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Build your own crib?

Posted by NonToxic House on March 20, 2008


A do-it-yourself contest on Design Sponge, a home and product design blog, prompted a flurry of harsh criticism from angry parents. Their issue? One of the contest finalists was a custom-built crib … and posters didn’t hold back in pointing out what they saw as the design flaws, saying ‘Soft bedding is a danger to infants,’ ‘Those slats are too far apart,’  and ‘A baby’s life should not be endangered for the sake of pretty’.

Undeterred, Design Sponge fans voted the crib to third place in the contest. DIY is great, in my view, but kudos to Design Sponge for altering the build directions, posted here (scroll down a bit), to reflect national safety standards.

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Safe baby-making (not what you think)

Posted by NonToxic House on March 17, 2008

Planning for a baby? Once you’re pregnant, your thoughts will naturally turn to keeping baby safe – what to eat, or not? work out more, or less? – but if you’re still in baby-making mode, you should consider how you might make a safe, healthy baby in the first place.


I had a look at the March of Dimes’ preconception checklist. Admittedly, some items are old news (no illicit drugs? drat!), but more than a few were eye openers. Overall, there are some good reminders on where baby-making ought to start:

 1. Take folic acid. Take a daily multi with 400 micrograms of folic acid; it can help proper brain/spinal cord development.

2. Get a checkup before pregnancy. The goal is to identify pregnancy-affecting health risks now. You should also visit the dentist now (dental x-rays are a no-no during pregnancy, according to the MOD).

3. Eat right. Maintain weight. Cut caffeine. You’ve heard these before: Avoid high-fat, high-sugar foods and eat from the five food groups. But, also, cut back on caffeine. (Recent studies about caffeine and miscarriage have made news; though some of them are contradictory, why take a risk? Cut back.) 

4. Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smokeEnough said.

5. Stop drinking alcoholDrinking alcohol can make it harder to get pregnant, says the MOD. Of course, we all know about dangers of drinking while pregnant – fetal alcohol syndrome and the like.

6. Don’t use illegal drugs. Another no brainer.  

7. Avoid infections. MOD says wash with soap and water after using the bathroom, blowing your nose or, more suprisingly, touching soil; avoid raw meat or unpasteurized milk products (no feta?!); wash fruits and veggies well; ask someone to change your cat’s litter box; and stay away from pet mice, hamsters and guinea pigs (no need to tell ME twice!). Also, get screened for STDs, which can pose special risks for you and baby.

8. Limit exposure to hazards. Avoid hazardous chemicals, like cleaning supplies and insect killers. Stay away from strong-smelling cleansers, chemicals and paint. If your water pipes are old, you may want to test for lead or drink filtered or bottled water. 

9. Learn about genetics. Your doctor will take your family health history. If there’s something to be concerned about, she may advise you to see a genetic counselor. The Greek population, for instance, has a higher rate of a blood disorder called thalassemia, which can be harmful to baby if both parents carry the trait. Better to know now.

10. Avoid stress and get fitHigh stress may increase risk of early labor and low birthweight. Start by ID-ing the cause of your stress. Get emotional support. Go exercise. Try deep breathing. Or pray. In short, do what it takes.

So, there you have it. Some insights. And a nice neat checklist as a reminder to get it done! No reason why, before you make a baby, you can’t do your best to make a healthy baby.

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Folic acid is your friend

Posted by NonToxic House on March 14, 2008


I didn’t know I had to worry about folic acid. And when a friend casually mentioned that I should be taking it if I planned to get pregnant, it set off alarm bells. Folic acid? Before pregnancy? I mean, what else didn’t I know? 

Experience has shown me that my tum is just too sensitive for most vitamins. The idea of puking my guts out before I even got pregnant? Nope. Not appealing. 

A quick search changed my mind, though. The March of Dimes says 400 daily micrograms of folic acid, a B vitamin, can help prevent 70 percent of neural tube defects (the neural tube is the part that becomes the brain and spinal cord).

I also learned folic is in ordinary foods: papaya, orange juice, broccoli, asparagus, lentils and, my favorite, edemame. Great option if your fridge is full of that kind of thing, but I knew better than to leave my daily intake up to whether or not I remembered to shop the produce aisle this week. 

So I set off for Target. On a bottom shelf I found a bottle of Prenatal One by a company called Rainbow Light. The package made a claim that spoke to my weak belly: Gentle on the stomach. 

True to form, the multis have been going down, and staying down. No nausea. Nada. And, yeah, I know there’s controversy over whether vitamins actually help the body or just, um, flush through our system. But, the hope is that I’m getting other good stuff out of this too.

So, kudos to you folic acid. My new friend. [photo:]

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