Kids Archive

An Open Letter to the Executives at Modern Family

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To Whom It May Concern-

I want to start out by saying that I love your show. I really do. I have loved it since it came on the air years ago and we watch it religiously, even though we don’t have cable or an antenna, because we love it so. But I would be lying if I didn’t also say that I am at the end of my rope with a significant oversight that just keeps showing up: child passenger safety.

The first time it happened, I don’t think it even really pinged my radar. Probably because I didn’t have kids and didn’t know anything about car seats (which I suspect is true of whoever oversees things on this show). But now looking back, I realize how big of an error it was.

The first time was when Lily, the daughter of modern family 1Cam and Mitchell, was a baby. It’s possible that she was over the age of 1, both in real life and in the show, but she is very small and it looks a whole lot like she’s forward facing in a rear facing only seat. I’ll admit I could be mistaken and will forgive them this one if I am (even though she would be substantially safer rear facing), since forward facing after age 1 and 20 pounds is legal in Los Angeles, but it’s where my mistrust began.

modern family 2The next time was when Lily was a bit older. This one nearly snuck by me, but if you look closely, Lily, who in no way, shape or form, should be in a booster, is not belted properly in her seat. If I had to guess, I’d say that the seatbelt is over the armrest instead of under it, but either way, the belt fit is not correct. Picky? Maybe. But as most of you know, child passenger safety is one area that we ought to be picky about. The seat belt should be contacting the middle third of her clavicle and low on both hip bones, as those are the strongest boney parts of the body and are most able to withstand the crash forces. Complaining about where the belt is now might seem picky, but it could cause really significant injuries.

And don’t worry, I’m about to get less picky.

Someone call the wahhhhhmbulance

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screaming baby clip art…because I think I’m about to lose my head. How many times have you said this to yourself from the front seat as your baby screams bloody murder behind you in their car seat?

Trust me, I know the feeling. It’s a cross between extreme sadness from hearing the wails, and a stabby frustration that there’s nothing you can do about it. Half of me wanted to beg and plea for his mercy for having strapped him into such an obvious torture device, and the other half of me wanted to scream, “FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SLEEP IN THE CAR LIKE EVERY OTHER BABY ON THIS GODFORSAKEN PLANET?????”. Instead I just white knuckled it every drive and blasted my music while taking deep breaths.

I’m not sure why some babies hate the car. It seemed to me that everyone I knew had babies that slept like angels as soon as the car started moving. Heck, if their kids wouldn’t go to bed, the solution was to pop them in the car and go for a drive. Then there was Liam, who transformed into a diaper wearing, spit up wielding Gremlin who would gladly claw your eyes out if given the chance and had a scream with a pitch that could summon the gods to an otherworldly war.

My first born.

My first born.

I’m fairly certain I have 20 years worth of hearing loss that occurred in one trip to Target. Nothing I did helped. Nothing. He literally screamed every car trip from the time he “woke up” from his newborn slumber at around 3 weeks till he was about 18 months old. He did have reflux, so that probably contributed. But mostly I think it’s that he hates any form of physical restraint on his body. I’ve never understood people’s insistence on having an infant seat that attaches to a stroller because I’ve never experienced a moment where I wasn’t scrambling to unbuckle them out of their car seat! Even sweet, easy going Declan would never ever be content in a car seat that wasn’t in the car. He wasn’t a car screamer-thank god- but there was no way on this green earth that he was going to lay in his infant seat while we strolled through the store. As soon as the car engine turned off he would fuss until he was unbuckled and freed.

Hi, I'm the easier second child but I will still make your shopping trip one you will never forget if you don't get me out of this thing as soon as you cut the engine.

Hi, I’m the easier second child but I will still make your shopping trip one you will never forget if you don’t get me out of this thing as soon as you cut the engine.

It was truly crippling, life with my car screamer. I plotted my days to exist solely in a 5 mile radius of my house because I couldn’t take anything longer. I declined invitations to family gatherings, birthday parties, etc that were too far. It wasn’t because I thought it was damaging to him; it was because it was damaging to ME. I have an extremely low tolerance for noise and that combined with the traffic in Phoenix just made it impossible for me.

So what can you do? Well I’m convinced nothing will stop it. But word on the streets from people who don’t have a Gremlin for a child is that there are some things you can try.

Numero uno: Consider switching to a

The Incredible (little?) Plasticman!

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If you know me, you know one of my peeves is when people try to swing my kids around by their arms or lift them up by their hands. I’m always the bad guy to ruin the fun for all. But here’s why:

Kids, especially the under 5 set, are pretty much just running around connected by rubber bands. It sounds crude to say, but it’s true. The ligaments holding their joints together are still fresh, and aren’t as strong as they will be later in childhood. One of the most common minor injuries of childhood is known as the “nursemaid elbow”. It occurs when a child is pulled hard by the arm, falls on it wrong, or is picked up or swung by their arms/hands. The weight is too much for the immature ligaments to handle, and the joint of the elbow partially or completely dislocates. It’s pretty painful for the child, and you’ll know right away if it happens. Kids will cry and refuse to use their arm.

elbow2

It’s pretty scary but fortunately it’s benign and a simple fix. Your pediatrician or the doctor at urgent care or the emergency room can quickly pop it back into place by doing a maneuver known as a reduction. It hurts for a split second but there’s immediate relief. The downside is if this happens to your child once, the odds of it happening again are pretty high, so you may be making multiple trips before your child’s ligaments firm up a bit after the age of 5 or 6.

I swear sometimes my 2 year old does look like this.

I swear sometimes my 2 year old does look like this.

You can prevent this from happening altogether by always leading your child gently by the arm (I know this is hard when you’re holding their hand and they are doing spaghetti legs and flailing around!), only lifting them by their armpits, and avoiding rough play that involves swinging them around by their hands or wrists. Sometimes it just happens regardless, but following those basic tips greatly reduces the chances that your toddler will have to go through the pain.

But if it does happen, don’t fret. It’s very common and sometimes it’s just another bump in the roller coaster of childhood.

How to toss your cookies but not your sanity.

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Let’s talk about one of our absolutely favorite things about being a parent. Something that makes childless people totally jealous, makes you cry tears of joy, inspires the angels to sing, and brings that rhetorical unicorn to continue defecating glorious sparkling rainbows all over your home.

Your child comes to you. They have that look in their eyes- the look of true love and need for you. You open your arms to accept them and “GAHHHHGKSJHDJHERUIGTGSJGJAJSHJFDH*#$^&#^$@%#@^#&@”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The stomach runneth over. You look down at the coating on your shirt. The puddle collecting in your lap. The smell invading your brain.

No? Not your favorite?  Well that’s a bummer because ‘tis the season!

toystory puke

Anyway, a common misconception is that this is a “stomach flu”. Actually it’s not the flu at all. Influenza is characterized by sudden onset fever, chills and body aches, runny nose, cough, etc. Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestine, causing nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, low grade fevers, aches, and general ickiness. It’s definitely no fun.

So what can you do when you or your little one is lucky enough to contract this? Honestly, the less you do, the better. The first thing people worry about it dehydration, which is a valid concern, but it really only becomes a danger when the vomiting or diarrhea becomes excessive (think more than once per hour and continuing this way for a long period of time). The stomach is purging because it is irritated, so you want to give it a rest. Resist the urge to give your child fluid after they vomit. It will continue the cycle and prolong the misery. Let them rest and once they’ve been vomit free for more than an hour or two, allow a few SIPS of water or electrolyte drink. No drinking full glasses no matter how hard they beg! Once they’ve been vomit free for longer than that, they can nibble on crackers or something bland. If they throw up again, start back at square one with nothing by mouth again. Sometimes this lasts for just the day, sometimes a few.  Avoid giving sugary drinks like Gatorade and juice since it can irritate the stomach more. You don’t need to follow the BRAT diet- typically once kids aren’t throwing up anymore they can resume normal eating patterns but do avoid fatty, fried, or spicy foods. Avoid dairy as much as possible during this time, most irritated stomachs cannot tolerate lactose.  Breastfeeding is always ok! If you are nursing, encourage them to breastfeed as much as they want. Resist the urge to give medications. Ibuprofen can irritate the stomach and any kind of anti-emetic and anti-diarrheal is preventing the purging of the virus from the system. Just let it ride- the best medicine is rest and love.

Typically a stomach virus doesn’t require a visit to the pediatrician. Viruses are not treated with antibiotics. However, if your child is showing signs of dehydration (dry skin, dark urine or not urinating, crying without tears, sunken soft spot in infants, listlessness, or high fever) then they should be seen. Rotavirus and norovirus can cause severe dehydration, so if your child shows any of these symptoms or is vomiting/having diarrhea uncontrollably then swift action is needed.  Also if you notice red blood or dark coffee ground-looking stuff in their vomit or diarrhea, get them seen right away.

Remember to wash wash wash! Hand sanitizer is not effective in killing stomach viruses. Good ol’ soap and water is your best bet. Make your child wash their hands constantly and remember to wash yours too even if you aren’t sick! Also remember that even if they stop vomiting or having diarrhea, their stools will still be contagious for several weeks, so be vigilant with those diapers and disinfecting the bathroom/house.

quarantine-sign

Even if this isn’t your magic parenting moment, you will make it through. I have faith in you. Although may I suggest investing in a good carpet/upholstery cleaner?