Friday, September 10, 2010

Pest Control

Today I took the babies to the park and made the brazen decision to remove the mosquito netting from their stroller.

For the first time, their pure baby skin was exposed to the untamed wilderness (well, there was a Bank of America across the street) and I am relieved to say they survived.

To most people this must sound like a ridiculous feat. I myself can remember sporting hundreds of red itchy mosquito bites as a child. My mother applied calamine lotion and never gave it a second thought. But for an obsessive who has spent actual time googling malaria (there were two cases in NJ in 199), West Niles Virus, Encephilits and other various types of deaths by mosquito bites, this task took alot of emotional and physical preparation.

Of course, prior to leaving the house I went through my usual shpiel of what ifs, each one ending more tragically than the next. What if the babies got stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction and died? What if they contract West Niles Virus, Encephalitis, or malaria? What if they get bitten by a tick?  But then logic, as he does every so often, stepped in. If I don't chill out and allow my babies experience the world, they could wind up having the same neurotic tendencies as their mother.

I took it upon myself to learn all I could about other ways to protect infants from mosquitoes. Here are some noteworthy suggestions.

  • The CDC recommends that mosquito netting be used by babies under two months old. Layla and David are now five-months so I was glad that I wasn't breaking any safety rules.
  • Since mosquitoes that carry West Niles virus usually attack between dusk and dawn, we took our walk around lunchtime.
  • In the matter of insect repellents, the CDC recommends that children under 3 should use a repellent without lemon eucelyptus. However, the CDC had so many additional warnings about repellents and things that could go wrong with repellents that I decided to steer clear from them altogether.
  • recommends wearing light colored clothing. Layla was in canary yellow and David was in a pale blue onesie.
  • Avoid scented lotions or soap. This was not an issue since I chose an extra 10-minutes of sleep over a shower this morning.
  • Avoid insect hangouts like trash cans, high grass, or stagnant water.
Confronting my fear was so worth it. David looked so thrilled when he looked up to the trees. He attempted to grab them, as if the branches that stood 30 feet above his head, were hanging from his crib mobile. He squealed in delight and looked at me as if to say," Mom why have you kept us couped up for so long?"

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Birds

Q: How can I protect my baby from getting attacked by a seagull at the beach?

A:  Put away food. Use an umbrella.

I always imagine the worst case scenario.

If the worst case scenario does not culminate in death, hospitalization, or loss of limbs, I can usually remain calm and rational. If the worst case scenario is something disastrous, (meaning it does culminate in death, hospitalization, etc), I automatically go to into panic mode.

For instance, today I took my twins to the Belmar boardwalk. They were hungry so I found a picnic bench  at Gunny's Pizza  and started to feed them their bottles. Within moments, I noticed  that a flock of roughly fifteen seagulls were swooping over us.  Right next to us was a table of teenagers splitting a pizza and the seagulls were determined to devour a slice. Like a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds, the seagulls were not friendly but rather agressive, menacing, even sinister. 

As usual, I started to imagine the worst case scenario.

What if there was an avian attack on one of my babies? What if one of those birds mistaked the orange bottle of Similac Sensitive for a slice of pepperoni and swooped low enough to inflict a cut or even a wound on their tiny little faces? What if the cut caused my babies to get some rare avian flu? I panicked, grabbed the bottles, and got the hell out of there.

The logical side of my brain was pretty sure I was overreacting. I spent most of my summers on the Jersey Shore and never heard of anyone being attacked by a seagull. Also, none of my parenting books advise to steer infants clear of  seagulls at the beach.

When I got home I googled the words: seagulls, attack, and people and I was surprised to see my fears were validated. The BBC reported that in Devon, England, they had to stop the mail service because seagulls were attacking postal workers: I also sought out the expertise of  Steven Wickstrom author of The Seagull Who was Afraid to FlyIn an email, he wrote that he never heard of a seagull attacking a baby. He said the birds would not come close to humans or babies unless there was food . "Keep food out of sight," he writes. He also recommends using an umbrella.

More things to Worry About

Babies and staircases. Another thing to worry about:
Keep Babies Safe Around Stairs.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Attention Intervention

Q: Is it unhealthy to let a four month old cry it out?

A: Depends who you ask.

The baby that screams the loudest wins the most attention.

And in my home, the winner of the loudest most vociferous wail comes from the very naughty little David Miles. Poor Layla's polite little wimpers could never compete with his milk-thirsty roars.

Starting at two weeks old, David suffered from I am Going to Take an Hour to Burp and Everyone is Going to Suffer with Me Disease . If Davy had to burp he HAD to be held upright belly to belly against my body or else he would go into a frenzy. The world stopped and patiently wait for the belch that often never came. This included his sister Layla who couldn't burp or be held or eat in peace without enduring screams from her younger brother.

At sixteen weeks, his digestive problems pretty much subsided, but he is now suffering from I Need to be Carried and Entertained by a Human all the Time or I am going to Lose It Syndrome. I came to that realization when I repeatedly put my recently fed, freshly changed, burped and cuddled David down in his car seat for just a single moment to change Layla's diaper. Within a split second of putting him down, he screamed bloody murder and and nearly nose dived out of his carseat. When I went to pick him up, my disheveled red faced infant transformed into a smiley happy baby.

I panicked.

What am I going to do? How did I spoil my baby in just four months? I immediately had visions of David as a toddler kicking and throwing himself on the floor at Toys 'R Us floor when I refuse to buy him a Transformer or fast forward twenty years and saw David as a man screaming and yelling at a bar because they don't have Guiness on tap.

I immediately took action.

I called the pediatrician and explained the situation. The doctor advised me to let the baby cry it out. I took her advice. I waited for the next tantrum and let him cry for about ten minutes before picking him up again. He stopped crying on his own but the look in his eye was one of sadness, depression, even loneliness.

I couldn't take it. I feared I scarred him for life. That he would never be the same bubbly happy hungry baby again. I picked him up, laid him on my bed, looked into his eyes and sang "If You're Happy and You Know It." His face lit up. He smiled. He squealed. I cuddled him and within moments things were back to normal.

As a new mother who is not so educated on different parenting techniques, I decided to do some research on the subject. I bought the Ferber book and read some stuff online. For as many theorists who believe crying it out is the only a means to end in teaching a child to be independent, there are a whole load of people who think "crying it out" does more harm than good.

I came across an attachment parenting website for parents of multiples., which advocates for breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and taking babies out with you and your husband on date night, argues against CIO methods as well as twin sleeping schedules, saying that children who are cuddled more during infancy become more independent adults.

Both theories seem extreme and I am still not sure what the best way to go is. One thing I am sure that I will take advantage of David wanting me to carry him around. In just a few years, he will probably tell me to leave him alone.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Similac Story

Q: Can baby formula get contaminated when left out in the heat?

A: Not if the container is sealed.

A few months ago, I signed up for

But four months after I registered for the program, I still hadn't receive any offers or coupons or any freebies whatsoever. I spend at least fifty bucks a week on Similac Sensitive which comes to more per month than my car payment and I was starting to give up hope of getting any lucky breaks.

Then, one sizzling hot 97 degree summer afternoon in August it happened.

I opened my mailbox and there they were: a cardboard box toting two glorious radiant complimentary containers of Similac Sensitive...Well, Two scalding hot to the touch tins of Similac Sensitive.

I felt distressed.

The tins had been sitting there for at least five hours and I was sure the milk based formula was contaminated. I was angry and I felt the need to blame someone. Why why why didn't Strong Moms put an advisory on the box. Jesus, didn't my mailman have more sense than to leave baby formula out in this heat?

I knew I would not sleep well at night if I fed this to my babies without further investigation so I called the company and spoke to a super duper friendly Product Specialist who instantly validated my concerns.

Here is what she said:

Although the Abbott company recommends that Similac be stored between 55 and 75 degrees. The formula can stay good at 95 degrees for 24 hours as long as the container is sealed.
Similac Strong Moms. As a non-breastfeeding mother of twins, I can tell you that the cost of formula is no joke. In exchange for your email address, Strong Moms claims to send Similac users like me up to $329 in discounts and deals.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Duct Duct Goose

Q: Is it recommended to use duct tape when swaddling an infant?

A: Not recommended.

So it turns out that using duct tape to secure a fidgety baby trying to escape from a Swaddle Me blanket is not recommended.

I cannot take credit for this idea.

In The Happiest Baby on the Block, author Dr. Harvey Karp, who attests to the effectiveness of tightly swaddling infants to mimic life in the womb, cites an example of a couple he worked with that used duct tape to ensure the baby straight jacket would not unravel.

He writes:
Ken and Kristie said, "whenever Henry sneaks out of his blanket he cries as if to say 'What have you done for me lately? We found that securing the wrap with duct tape gives us an extra 45 minutes of sleep between feedings."

As cruel and barbaric as it sounds, I was actually psyched when I read this was an option.
My four month old son has been morphing into the Incredible Hulk during the night and has been violently tearing through the velcro of his Swaddle Me blanket. With the freedom to wave his arms around, he hits himself in the face, knocks the binky out of his mouth, which ultimately prevents all of us from getting any shut eye.

"The duct tape could be our solution,!" I thought.

Just seconds after thinking my problems were over, my mind started to race:
Where should the duct tape go? If it goes under the elbow, he could still break out of it, leaving a loose blanket in the crib and increasing his chances of him suffocating.... If it went above the elbows, he may still be able to wiggle the blanket up over his face.... What if I put the tape on too tightly and stop his circulation?..... Dr. Karp is a baby guru and he would not print something in his book that could be potentially dangerous? Would he????

I decided to email Dr. Karp and find out where the duct tape should be placed. I received a response from a woman named Emily. Here is what it said:

"Dr. Karp doesn't recommend using the duct tape to secure the swaddle. Instead he recommends:
1) Use a strong, coarse white noise (like our womb sound CD) all night long. That will help keep him from struggling so much. Use it for naps and at night at least the first year to keep his sleep habits regular through teething, growth spurts, etc.
2) Make sure you're using a large swaddling blanket (43 or 44" square) or a big "swaddle me" blanket that closes with velcro."

Glad I asked.

The Swaddle Me blanket has been put to rest.

Unfortunately, my son has not.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Don't Be So Touchy!

When it comes to germs, I am the first to admit that I am over the top. My relationship with hand sanitizer is comparable to Snooki's relationship with sunless tanner. I never leave home without it and if I do, I may go into complete panic mode.

I am not proud of this. It is very trying to live life as a neurotic obsessive compulsive mother of three month old twins. Even harder is being labeled as such by other people. I am sick and tired of certain members of my and my husband's family making me feel like an unreasonable person when I politely ask that they apply Purell before handling the babies. Or when they subtly roll their eyes when I ask them if they have a cough or cold before they come to visit. Or when I request that certain people not handle the babies.

Even though David and Layla were just three weeks premature, my pediatrician recommended that we keep them shielded from children or "germ factories" (as she put it) for their first three months of life. Of course, this has complicated matters since my three nieces and one nephew- all between the ages of 2 and 9 and definitely members of the grimy dirty germy hands club -were so anxious to meet their new cousins. To make a long story short It annoyed a certain in-law of mine when I said the children would have to wait the three month period. It annoyed me when she got annoyed. A door slam, a name calling and a screaming match later and I am no longer on speaking terms with this person.

All this drama had me wondering whether their was an easier way. Can you have the best of both worlds? Is it possible to keep the germs away without blowing your germaphobe cover? Here are some of my ideas.

1.Buy a high-tech home hand sanitizing kit. I bought one and now I simply pretend you I am letting guests try out my new gadget. Works every time.
2. Cover their infant carrier with mosquito netting. This only works outdoors and actually was suggested by my pediatrician who is also a mother of quadruplets. Not only does it get keep the mosquitoes away, it keeps the people away.
3. Tell people that the babies have a cold.
4. Germaphobe gear gets the message across by showing people you have a sense of humor about it. Check out for "don't touch" tags.