Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Sunshine Boy: Sun Safety Tips for Kids

We love our son... and the sun, too. We spend countless hours playing in the backyard, building sandcastles at the beach and swimming each summer. Monkey did not inherit my olive skin, and he turns red just thinking about being exposed to the sun. Chunky has a natural tan, but it is still important to keep him in the shade and put on his sunscreen before we go out. One blistering sunburn during childhood can double your baby's chance of developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

Sun Safety Tips:

1.) Apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside on all children over 6 months of age.  If your child is under 6 months keep them in the shade and away from damaging sun rays. A newborn's skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. If your tiny little one has to be out in the sun, apply baby sunscreen only to areas directly exposed to the sun. Cover baby in loose, cotton clothing as much as possible.

2.)  Look for products containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Avoid products containing Vitamin A or oxybenzone. If you have questions regarding the safety of your sunscreen or would like to see how yours compares, check out: Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens from for a comprehensive list of the safest sunscreens on the market and product comparison ratings. Lotions and creams are better than sprays - but anything is better than nothing!

3.) Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Sweat and water decreases it's efficacy. Remember to cover the often forgotten areas - ears, neck, feet, and cowlicks!

4.) Wear UVA/UVB protective clothing like the long-sleeved rash guard Monkey has on in his flying sun pictures. Look for swim garments and rash guards that have UPF 30+ on their tags for extra protection.

5.) Head for the shade during the peak hours of 10am and 4pm. If that isn't possible invest in a tent or canopy for the backyard/beach/park to provide a cool, shady place to play while you are outside.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend throwing your son high enough to reach the sun... It will result in a really bad sunburn.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Weekend Fun

Dad having a little pow wow with Monkey before the beginning of the city-wide egg hunt. There were 15,000 eggs that were gone in 1 minute! Monkey took his fair share of them home.
Chunky joined in the egg hunt, too. He filled his basket in lightning speed (pun intended!)
The big boys took a dip in Gammy's pool after a long morning of egg hunting. This was Cade's first swim since last summer - he was super excited and had been talking about the pool all week!
The water features were a huge hit... unless you were one of the innocent bystanders getting sprayed by Monkey!
Nothing like a little high-flying, splashing fun in the pool!
Chunky was totally jealous of all the fun big brother was having...
Gammy had to throw on her suit and get in with Chunky. He was so excited to play in the water... as long as someone was holding him tight!
Chunky learning how to kick his feet and swim with daddy. Anytime there was a big splash, Monkey would yell "Oh no, big octupus!"

Daddy and baby daddy lounging in the pool. All that kicking and splashing was hard work.
Monkey taking a big bite out of his first chocolate bunny. He wouldn't eat chocolate last year. Now he decided it was "ok" but still not a huge fan.
Chunky's war wound from the cool-crete around the pool. He thought he could walk it by himself... and Mommy wasn't there to catch him as he fell and scratched his face. Poor baby is all bruised up!
New beach chair! The boys received matching lime green beach chairs from MoWo and Poppa to bring on their next beach outing. We do a lot of beach trips so it will be nice not to have to share our adult chairs with two wet, sandy baby boys.
The Easter bunny was really good to Monkey! Check out all his goodies - puzzles, candy eggs, coloring pages, a new Patch Lalaloopsy doll and lots of other fun stuff!
Chocolate face!
Chunky really liked checking out his basket - his favorite was his new elephant cellphone/camera, the sensory balls and the bath squirties!
After Easter basket opening Monkey decided to have an impromptu run outside in the sprinklers.
"Eat this, Bubba" - Monkey  Gammy got the boys the Melissa & Doug sandwich playfood set and Monkey made baby a big sandwich. Chunky wasn't so interested in trying it, but Monkey wouldn't listen. Chunky eventually tried a big bite!

Easter egg hunt #24543 of the weekend was at "Old MawMaw's house" Chunky was an expert at grabbing his eggs and running from Monkey. He forgot one little thing - his basket. Oh well, he still managed to grab a few eggs before Monkey took them from him!
Sweet boys and "Old MawMaw" after the Easter egg hunt.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chunky versus Sleep

Chunky is not a fan of sleep. Well, actually he is. He really does like to sleep. He used to get up every hour at night and require a lot of cuddling, rocking and patting to go back to sleep. Within the past couple of weeks he has reduced the number of these night time awakenings to one or two on most nights, and he usually goes right back to sleep after a pat, pacifier replacement or a pouch of Plum organics baby fruit (long story, but he refuses other forms of nourishment so he gets Plum in the middle of the night.) His new, improved night sleep has had a  negative impact on his naps. He used to catch up on sleep by taking 2 naps, each over an hour long. Trey could easily pat him to sleep and leave him in his crib for an hour or two while he napped. Things have chanced. Chunky now refuses all attempts at his afternoon nap. He will sometimes relent for his morning nap, but it takes a lot more patting and rocking than before. The refusal of an afternoon nap has left us in a predicament. We've tried letting him cry in his crib, patting, pacifier, feeding, rocking, etc. They all make him very, very angry - and much more worked up. Within the past week this is what we've been left with...

Chunky passed out on the carpet in the hallway. He just couldn't go anymore...
Chunky passed out in his highchair mid-bite. He still has his food in his hands. He just couldn't take another bite...
Chunky passed out standing up with his lead in his yet-to-be-installed carseat. He just couldn't take another step...

We have got to do something about this naptime sleep thing. We can't have our poor baby looking like this by mid-afternoon...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Seven: April 17-23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from the cutest little bunny I know!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday Seven: April 10-16, 2011

Brothers having fun in the sandbox!
Chunky with 3 baby goats at the petting zoo at the fair. He wasn't so sure about sitting next to him, but he quickly warmed up to the idea when he felt how soft they were.
Treybo and his mini-me swinging at the park.
Pretty sure Chunky didn't enjoy getting buried at the beach. He wanted to climb in the hole, but he was less than pleased when daddy threw some sand on top of him. I couldn't help but capture the moment.
Learning to feed himself with a spoon as a messy task!
Splash fun in the backyard!
Monkey and his favoritest MoWo (my Grandmother) rolling around in the backyard!

Vaccines: Difficult Decision

First off, I'd like to say this is not meant to be a debate post. It is meant to be a post about what I think and feel about vaccines and what I choose to do with my own children. I hope not to alienate anyone with my views and opinions and am very open to hearing thoughts different than my own.

As a pediatrician I will recommend standard vaccine practices according to the most updated guidelines. As a mom I give my boys all of the recommended vaccines at the recommend times without spacing, witholding or delaying. I also reserve the right to change my mind (or not) at any time.

Some of the Science: What I like and What I don't

Vaccines work by prompting a baby's body to make antibodies to dangerous bacteria and viruses. These antibodies then prevent the bacteria and viruses from replicating and making the baby sick. From the moment a child is born their immune system is exposed to trillions of insults from "immunological components" from bacteria. These components are what cause the baby's immune system to perk up and develop antibodies so that the baby doesn't get sick. These same components are no different than what a child is exposed to when given a vaccine. Compared to the number of immunological components encountered in a single day to the number of components in vaccines, vaccines are a much lighter load. Babies are exposed to trillions of bacteria with thousands of immunological components on each of them at birth and are then exposed to billions more just by breathing and becoming colonized with bacteria. There are only 150 immunological components given in the course of the roughly 14 different vaccines that a child receives in their early years. Although children receive more vaccines now than any other time in history, the number of immunological components has actually substantially decreased over time (from greater than 3000 down to 150.)

All of this sounds great in theory - and most of the time works really well. However they are manufactured "drugs" and come with risks. There are slight amounts of antibiotics in some of our vaccines. There used to be thimerosal in a lot of our vaccines - now only found in the influenza shot. Some of the vaccines are developed through use of "fetal tissue" (an old fetal fibroblast cell line from a long time ago), but that does not mean  "fetal tissue" is actually in the vaccines. The current research shows that vaccines are usually quite safe with side effect profiles similar to other manufactured drugs - fever, swelling and redness at injection site, malaise, etc. There are other not as benign side effects that, although very rare, are absolutely horrible - seizures, neurological impairment, death. A lot of these issues have become the basis for the anti-vaccine movement. Deciding what is an acceptable risk and what is not is extremely difficult, and many parents choose not to vaccinate until there is more research and more "proof" that vaccines are 100% safe. I don't think we will ever get to that point.

Why do I choose to vaccinate? Why is it such a difficult decision?

I believe in the science behind vaccines. For me it is hard not to believe in all of the lives that have been spared, paralysis prevented and illnesses averted by immunizations. That does not mean that I think it is a perfect system. However I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks, and I choose to vaccinate my own children with the full knowledge of the science behind immunizations and the possibility of vaccine-induced injuries. I, also, am aware that a I will have patients and friends who choose not to vaccinate their children for one reason or another. I do not agree with it, but I can certainly understand why parents are so concerned and confused about what to do. It is so hard to get a clear, unbiased view of anything vaccine related. Virtually everything we read as parents and as pediatricians is so slanted pro-vaccine or against that is hard to pick out what is real, factual information and what is not without getting swayed by all of the opinions out there. Add that supposedly "factual information" to the many pro/against messages from family, friends, moms groups, etc., parents have a really hard time. Its also really difficult to "google" information on vaccines and get the true facts. Moms hear from other moms in their playgroups that a particular vaccine caused autism in Johnny and a febrile seizure in Sarah. They get scared. They choose not to vaccinate. I can see why even if I don't necessarily agree with it.

I choose to vaccinate both of my boys. I have deemed that the benefit my children receive from the vaccines far outweighs the risk. I have done my research, and I'm as comfortable with my decision as I can be. That doesn't mean that I'm not scared that something I am doing to my boys may later harm them.

I do not know if there will ever not be a "vaccine debate." I do know that with whatever we choose to do for our children, we must do our research and come to an understanding that all things we do carry a risk. Is the risk of vaccines acceptable for you and your family? Will you love your child any less if they have autism? Are you prepared to have your child die from a vaccine-preventable illness? We as parents, and more importantly our children, will have to live with whatever decision we make.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Busy, Busy

I managed to have an unscheduled day off from the hospital today, and we decided to get every single one of our "errands" done since we didn't know when we'd get another chance.

First off we had to get Chunky's 1st birthday photos taken (seriously, the kid is going to be one in about 3 weeks!) I didn't buy the CD this time around, and have no idea how or if I can even copy them from the website so you'll just have to believe me that they are the cutest pictures ever! He did a great job smiling for the camera, and you can definitely see his little personality. He wore a cute white t-shirt embroidered with his name (no, Chunky isn't his real name...) because we hadn't received his real birthday embroidered t-shirt yet. It was sitting in our mailbox when we arrived home 8 hours later.

Next we hit up the mall to sit with the Easter Bunny. Monkey has been talking about asking the bunny for lots of eggs with candy. He threw a slight tantrum when he didn't get any right then and there... but at least he waited until after sitting in the bunny's lap to start crying. They both really enjoyed the Easter bunny - I'm lucky to have kids that aren't terrified of giant, costumed people/animals.

Daddy saved the day with some candies at our next stop....Chunky needed a plate painted with his footprint to commemorate his 1st birthday. We quickly managed a super cute, brightly colored plate with his ginormous baby foot in the middle. We made one of Monkey's foot around his 1st birthday and compared the boys' foot sizes. They are almost exactly the same. Colin's are slightly skinnier but just as long. I didn't measure in inches, but Chunky is currently outgrowing 18-24 month Pediped shoes and moving to the toddler size 5 shoes.

We ended the day at our favorite place.... the beach!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

If you can't tell by my many postings about Spring, I love sunshine! There is something about the warm rays on my face, the smell of sunscreen and the giggles of my little boys that bring me to my happy place. I could sit on the beach for hours and just "be." Trey has to "do" something at the beach such as find shark teeth or fish, but I am just as happy to "be." I think my boys take after me in that regards, they can just "be" at the beach. I've always said if I hadn't gone into medicine I would have been a beach bum. I'm lucky. I get to be a doctor at the beach. Since I've been able to sneak out of the hospital early and the weather has been nice, we've been doing lots of things outdoors.

We've played a lot in the back yard with some of our sand and water toys...
There is something special about a little bit of sand, a few seashells and plastic shovels that make even my impossible to photograph together boys willingly smile for the camera.

Chunky set out to explore the backyard splash pad for the first time. He sauntered over to the edge and quickly realized there were little fountains of water spraying.  He splashed about for a little while before deciding to take a leap of faith (or slippery splash) into the pool part of the splash pad.
Monkey wrestled a giant dolphin (?whale?) and emerged victorious. He slid down the giant sea creature multiple times yelling "I'm okay!" with a sly grin after every fall.

We rode the ferry boat and fed the seagulls...

Daddy may or may not have had part of his cuticle ripped of my a hungry seagull resulting in a small amount of blood loss.
How cool is that! Finally caught a picture of the seagull grabbing the bread out of Trey's hands.

And we played on the beach...

My little beach Monkey relaxing in his chair. The weather wasn't very pretty - really windy, freezing water and tons of seaweed - but we still managed to have fun.
Monkey caught the ladybug flag!

Walk on little Chunky Monkey...

Daddy found a lot of shark teeth for Monkey to examine.

My boys are beach bums like their momma.