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Another Angle of Protection- Fighting the Internal Invaders

Well, it’s here. All across the country hospitals officially declared flu season a few weeks ago. Hopefully all of you out there have remained healthy, but for those of you who have succumbed to the monster known as influenza, you know how awful it can make you feel and how it can put you out of commission for awhile. Some years are worse than others, with last year being a particularly mild season for the flu. We are definitely starting out with a bang this year, with the hospitals here in North Carolina filled to the max. Every year the formulation of the flu shot is developed based on current and past trends/mutations of the virus and obviously, like any human prediction, has some room for error. This year is one of those years, and the results are thousands of us across the nation laying on our couches in a grumpy, fever induced stupor.

Coming in contact with 15+ flu positive patients a week? Yeah, this mask is becoming my latest fashion accessory.  Being able to see facial expressions on your nurse is overrated anyway.

Coming in contact with 15+ flu positive patients a week? Yeah, this mask is becoming my latest fashion accessory. Being able to see facial expressions on your nurse is overrated anyway.

So what is the flu? I mean we all know what it is in general, but do you really KNOW? It’s very common to hear people with a stuffy nose say they have the flu. Then those of you who have actually had the flu want to punch them because you WISH the flu was simply a stuffy nose and feeling run down. Then there’s the term “stomach flu”. That is not influenza and I’m really not sure where that term came from. There are three types of influenza: type A, B, and C. Influenza A is the virus responsible for the epidemics that hit this time of year. Symptoms include sudden onset high fevers, chills, body aches, sore throat, and sometimes kids can complain of tummy aches and/or vomit due to the high fever.  For the majority of us, it’s something that can knock us down for a week or two and make us feel like a wrung out rag, but we emerge on the other end unscathed. For those who are very young, very old, immunocompromised, and those with respiratory conditions it can be dangerous and warrant a hospital stay. Tamiflu is a an antiviral medication that is effective in disrupting the virus, but it is time sensitive and most of us are stubborn and don’t visit the doctor till it’s too late for Tamiflu (hey, I’m a nurse and therefore only go to the doctor if I’m actively dying so I totally get it).

Flu is spread by droplets in the air and on surfaces. They come from our body when we cough/sneeze/talk and enter the bodies of others when they contact these droplets. We all know the basic ways to prevent getting sick. Handwashing, staying clear of ill people (duh), getting plenty of sleep, and eating healthy food. Once you are sick, your doctor will tell you to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. But there are some other unconventional preventatives and treatments out there that may be worth a try.

-Elderberry: Elderberry is a plant that grows berries that may decrease inflammation in the body and boost the immune system. This reportedly can help you defeat the flu faster. It can be bought in syrup or gummy forms over the counter as a supplement, or some people prefer to make their own. I’m lazy and will never be standing in my kitchen brewing up a batch of elderberry so gummies it is. And hey, they taste like candy so whatever.

-Honey: Since this is a safety site the first thing I’m going to say is please don’t give honey to children under a year old. For those over 12 months, honey is an excellent and soothing remedy for coughs and sore throats. It is also said to boost the immune system and contains antibacterial properties. We actually use honey at my hospital in wounds with great success. Plus, it’s tasty!

-Bone broth: Yep, from bones. Not your mama’s chicken noodle.This is a very nutrient dense food. It contains tons of minerals essential to allowing your body to heal. It’s also easy to eat when you probably don’t feel like eating.

-Saline: Good ol’ salt and water are good for so many things. Gargling with salt water not only soothes sore throats, it breaks up the thick disgusting mucus that builds up back there and rinses it away.

-Steam: We all know a hot shower can do wonders for congestion but consider making a steam tent on the stove. Boil a pot of water and then remove it from the burner (and turn the burner off so you don’t set your head on fire please). Put a towel over your head so it creates a tent while you hold your face in the steam.

 

Hopefully the flu has not barged into your house. But if it has, take care of yourself. And if it hasn’t, well, wash those hands and quit licking shopping carts because it’s going to be knocking at your door for the next 3 months. Good luck!

 

Autumn is here and the leaves are….swaying? A review of the Nuna LEAF.

Nuna LEAF Baby Seat Review

Ah, Nuna. The name brings excitement to the brains of many (Pipa? droooool) or confusion to others (what the heck is a Nuna?). But not to worry. Whatever side of the fence you are currently on, you will emerge from this post happy. Because ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, the Nuna LEAF Baby Seat:

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Now in all honesty I really can’t write much on it because there isn’t much to it. But that’s the beauty of it! It’s simplistic and basic and instead of being a jack of all trades like many of the swings/bouncers/gliders/washes your dishes contraptions out there, it’s truly the master of one: gently swaying your kid.

There are two versions, the original (pictured in this review) and the new LEAF Curv model. The only differences are the design of the base.

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The original LEAF is available in several colors but the LEAF Curv (pictured above) is currently only available in “Cinder”.

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The Nuna Leaf is shaped like a bouncer (and adorably like a leaf) and mounted on a wide base frame. It uses a kinetic mechanism combined with the weight of your baby to keep the seat swaying side to side (like a falling leaf…get it? You’re so clever, Nuna) for quite a while without using batteries or electricity. The base also has a lever on it that can be locked to keep the seat stationary.

The lever on the side can be pushed down to lock the seat in a stationary position.

The lever on the side can be pushed down to lock the seat in a stationary position.

The cover is organic cotton and is a a nicely ventilated mesh on the seat area and the insert is also organic cotton and is generously padded. Both are machine washable. The entire thing weighs about 10.5 lbs.

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The harness is fastened with strong Velcro–strong enough to contain my stubborn 12 month old but fairly noisy for a sleeping baby.

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Plenty of space for 18 lb, 27 in Declan

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He approves of the swaying action.

An interesting thing about the Leaf is the weight limit of 130 lbs. Not only is it a peaceful and cozy place for infants, it’s a nice hang out spot for older kids as well. My 12 month old is only interested in hanging out in it when he is tired or focusing on something but my 4 year old uses it constantly! He watches TV in it, plays games in it, uses the iPad in it…he just loves it.

Don't confuse the mistake the 4 year old attitude face…this seat makes a great preschool chill spot.

Don’t mistake the 4 year old attitude face…this seat makes a great preschool chill spot.

The Nuna Leaf is a good birth to young child age seat that doesn’t take up much room and is very minimalistic in a classy, modern way. Here’s a quick break down:

Pros:

  • No batteries! It runs simply with kinetic energy and your child’s weight
  • Soft, washable, organic cotton cover and seat pad that come in a variety of colors including Navy, Bisque, Twilight, Grape, and Dawn
  • Locking mechanism if your baby does not want to sway
  • Grows with your child and can accommodate up to 130 lbs
  • Optional accessory toy bar

Cons:

  • It is a pricey piece of baby gear retailing around $220, with the optional toy bar accessory retailing around $35
  • The safety harness is a very strong Velcro, which is pretty noisy and could easily wake a baby should you need to remove them while sleeping
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Big enough for two!

No monetary compensation was provided from Nuna for this review, and the opinions stated are entirely my own. The Nuna Leaf retails for $219.95 and is available for purchase through Amazon.com. Thank you to Nuna for providing the LEAF for review.  No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.

The Not So Angry Vitamin

Natrol offered CarSeatBlog a chance to review some vitamins, and given my kiddo is usually down to try just about anything, I took them up on the offer.

A few weeks later a package with two bottles arrived in the mail. Liam was jumping up and down because of course he loves playing Angry Birds on the iPad and these vitamins just so happen to be Angry Birds themed.

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I got two different bottles, one containing vitamin gummies and the other containing vitamin chews.
The gummies came in a red bottle with 60 gummies per bottle. It retails for about $5.99 at Amazon.com. Kids are to chew 2 gummies a day, which of course Liam had no problem with. They taste great (yes, I had to try them too!) and don’t stick to teeth as much as your run of the mill gummy treat so I like that aspect since anything gummy related usually makes me cringe. I typically avoid gummy vitamins altogether but these really weren’t bad as far as stickiness goes! They don’t contain as many minerals as the chews do, but have higher amounts of the ones they do contain. They are sweetened and colored with fruit juice extracts. They do contain tree nuts (from fractionated coconut oil) but are free of egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, soy, yeast, and artificial colors or flavors.

The chews came in a big blue bottle with a count of 180. They retail for about $6.95 at Amazon.com. These are the more classic chewable vitamin, with a light berry flavor. They have more of the typical vitamin taste- I believe it’s probably the iron, which the gummies do not contain. Liam ate them no problem, and I didn’t find them offensive in the least. The instructions are to chew 3 tablets daily, which is quite a bit considering they are on the larger side in the first place. Plus 180 seems like a lot but you have to remember you’re taking 3 a day. However, it’s still about 60 days worth of vitamins for just over $20 so that’s still pretty darn good for a quality multivitamin! The chews contain additional B1, B2, B3, K, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum, all of which the gummies do not contain. They also contain beet root powder, artichoke extract, bilberry extract, carrot powder, and cranberry extract. They are free of milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, yeast, and any artificial colors or flavors. They do contain wheat, but are a good choice for those with peanut or tree nut allergies!

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All in all, we liked them. I do wish they contained more whole food additives since we try to avoid most synthetic vitamins but they were much better than typical mainstream vitamins you pick up at the drugstore. I also wish the B12 was methylcobalamin instead of synthetic cyanocobalamin, but to be fair, it is very difficult to find methylcobalamin in most supplements. They tasted great, are fun for the kids (who doesn’t like an Angry Bird?), won’t empty your wallet, and are easy to obtain. Plus they came with a fun little bird prize that unfortunately had to go live on top of the refrigerator so our vacuum, I mean baby, doesn’t suck it into his esophagus.

Thank you to Natrol for the sample bottles and the chance to review the vitamins! This review and all opinions are entirely my own and myself or CarSeatBlog were not provided any monetary compensation from Natrol.

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for….sunscreen?

While the first day of summer is still just around the corner, most of us have been basking in the warm weather for weeks now. I don’t know about you guys, but our winter was pretty miserable and I’m soaking up the 90 degree sunshine like a lizard that was just removed from a freezer. What can I say, I’m an Arizona girl living it up in North Carolina.

If you’re like me, you had to do the ol’ closet switcheroo (or, like me, multiple times because our weather was bipolar and just when I thought it was warm, it would snow and I’d have to dig the freshly packed away winter clothes out again), buy the kids new swimsuits and sandals, and plan vacations and trips to the pool/beach/lake. And of course, buy some sunscreen. Good ol’ sunscreen. It’s like a little tube with a superhero cape, standing between our skin and the dastardly deeds of melanoma. So what is sunscreen exactly? How does it work? What should we look for in a sunscreen? Let me, in my warm weather lizard giddiness, try to answer those questions for you.

First, let’s take a look at what exactly sunscreen protects us from. UVA and UVB are two different types of ultraviolet radiation that reaches our atmosphere from the sun. You can’t see them with your eyes, but they can fry up your eyeballs like a couple of seasoned eggs. UVA and UVB both are different wavelengths and act differently by nature, but are both equally damaging. UVA rays penetrate deeper and are responsible for most skin aging and wrinkles and is usually responsible for the start of skin cancers by damaging the DNA in our skin. UVB rays are shorter in wavelength, and cause more damage to the surface of the skin (think the redness of sunburn).

The sun's gnarly side.

The sun’s gnarly side.

Sunscreen can be protective either chemically, physically, or both. Chemical ingredients in sunscreen absorb the evil rays and prevent them from penetrating your skin. Examples of these chemicals are avobenzone and oxybenzone. Physical ingredients actually cause the rays to bounce off the skin and usually are present as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Most sunscreens on the market contain a mixture of both, or “broad spectrum”. However, according to the Environmental Working Group, chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone are potential hormone disruptors, have a high risk of allergic reaction and have been found in the breastmilk of nursing mothers. Some people may prefer to use mineral sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide instead, which can be harder to apply and leaves you looking like a snowman. Whatever you choose, it’s probably best to stick with the lotion/cream/stick sunscreens as the spray sunscreens are more likely to not be thoroughly applied and can also be inhaled. And remember, never apply sunscreen to babies under 6 months old.

This article is about summertime, but it's also important to mention that it's important to wear sunscreen year round. Sun reflecting off snow can be particularly damaging.

This article is about summertime, but it’s also important to mention that it’s important to wear sunscreen year round. Sun reflecting off snow can be particularly damaging.

So what are you looking for in a sunscreen besides the type of ingredient you are most comfortable with? The sun protection factor, or SPF. SPF is a “rating” per say, that indicates how long it will take UVB (not UVA! Remember, those are responsible for the destruction under the superficial layer of skin) to redden your skin. So SPF 15 basically means it will take you an additional 15 minutes to burn. SPF 50 is recommended, and all sunscreens should be applied every few hours, more if you are sweating or swimming. Recently the FDA revised their rules regarding the wording and description on sunscreens, including banning the words “water proof”, although you may see “water resistant”. This means the sunscreen tends to stay on a bit longer in water than others, but you still need to reapply at least every 2 hours.

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. Remember, you only get one pair of eyes!

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. Remember, you only get one pair of eyes!

 

In addition to applying sunscreen, try to stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm, wear protective hats and SPF clothing, don’t burn, don’t go to tanning beds, always keep babies out of direct sunlight, wear sunglasses that specifically say they contain UV filters, and eat lots of ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream. CarSeatBlog orders. Happy summer!!