Tag Archives: kids health

Baby Einstein’s questionable value

Baby Einstein

In a recent State of the Union address, US President George Bush heaped praise on Julie Aigner-Clark, founder of Baby Einstein saying that she is a “generous social entrepreneur” and “represents the great enterprising spirit of America.”

What an endorsement. And from an authority no higher than President of the United States of America. I can only imagine that sales of Baby Einstein products are increasing as we speak.

I’m in complete agreement with the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood when they say that:

The President claimed that Ms. Aigner-Clark “represents the great enterprising spirit of America.” We respectfully disagree. We don’t believe that preying on parents’ concerns about their children’s well-being; deceiving customers about a product’s benefits; or exploiting our youngest and most vulnerable children should have any role in the American marketplace.

As parents, we are kept in a constant state of fear about how we raise our kids. Advertising and marketing do a phenomenal job at making us feel that, if we don’t use (insert a product here), our children may somehow be in danger, miss out or be left behind.

Well, today there is some new research that may have the U.S. President rethinking the praise he heaped on Aigner-Clark. Okay, okay…I doubt this President rethinks anything he says, but I digress. Apparently “Baby Einstein” is doing more harm than good and can actually delay language development in toddlers.

Time magazine recently published a story about the findings of research conducted by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis at the University of Washington.

…the research team found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. “The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew,” says Christakis. “These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos.”

So, how can you actually increase your child’s vocabulary and language skills when they are infants? The authors of the study suggest reading to them as children who are read to daily show a slight increase in language skills.

Pick nose, eat, get healthy

Apparently, according to an Austrian doctor, picking your nose and eating it might be good for you. According to Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, an Innsbruck-based lung specialist:

“Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.”

However, like many other parenting issues, there is always another side; the dangers of digging for gold.

If the skin inside the nose is broken while picking away, the veins in that region are situated in such a way that sometimes an infection can migrate inward to the base of the brain and inhibit the blood flow, a serious condition known as cavernous sinus thrombosis.

To let the kids pick and eat their way to health and happiness, or risk a brain hemorrhage and social isolation? Damn, this parenting thing is never easy.

Veggie Booty Recall

Veggie BootyFor those of you who might enjoy this snack like we do, you should know that Robert’s American Gourmet has posted a product recall for all Veggie Booty Products because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Veggie Booty was distributed nationwide and also in Canada through local distributors, internet sales, phone orders, mail orders and retail outlets.

If you bought Veggie Booty and still have the product in your house, the company has requested that you dump it and contact them at 1-800-626-7557 for reimbursement.

Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie counsel overweight kids

Man, someone please tell me this is a really bad joke. From CommonSense Media.

The media is buzzing about the new season of The Simple Life in which scary skinny rich girls Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton take on the role of camp counselor, including counseling kids at a fat camp (or as E! prefers to call it, a weight loss/ fitness camp).

Seriously, this program idea is about as good as the one from last year where the Olsen Twins pitched a show about healthy eating.

You can just hear the inspiring and helpful advice coming from Ritchie, with her history of eating disorders, and Hilton, who once paraded around in a commercial in a swimsuit and a 50 pound hamburger.

“Like, you guys are so, like, fat.”

“Don’t you know people like us make fun of you.”

“Cause you’re fat and no one likes fat people.”

“Maybe you should, like, try sticking a finger down your throat.”

“Or drugs. Because then you wouldn’t be fat.”

“But we would still make fun of you.”

I know I should really have something much more intelligent and constructive to say here to add to the public discourse about this idiotic, and absurdly cruel, concept. But reading this and I have suddenly regressed back to being a fat little 8 year old kid with people poking me in the belly and laughing. I found that experience utterly humiliating and can’t imagine how horrific it might be for a kid to have their belly poked by a couple of uber Queen Bees in front of an international audience.

Getting rid of eczema

The Boy has a wicked case of eczema that we’ve been waging war on for the past few months. We don’t seem to be winning, so I am tossing out a request to the wonderful internet world to see what comes back.

Have you had to deal with eczema and, if so, how did you get rid of it?

So far, our strategies have included:

  • Changing laundry detergent. We’ve been using Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent, which works well, but so far has not had the desired effect.
  • .5% hydrocortisone cream. We really wanted to avoid this route, but after trying a few other products, this one seemed to work temporarily. But then the bloody stuff flared up again.
  • Eliminating dairy. Mom took one for the team. No milk in the coffee, cheese, yoghurt…nada. It’s been over a week and still no change.
  • Calendula moisturizing cream. Same as the Hydrocortisone. Some temporary relief, but nothing long lasting.

So, anyone else have any suggestions of things to try? We’re off the the family physician today who I am sure will up the hydrocortisone up to 1%, which I would like to avoid if possible. Something about smearing steroids on The Boy’s skin gives me the heebie-jeebie’s.


Came back from the Dr. and she has prescribed a 1% hydrocortisone cream, as expected. We’re also heading to a pediatrician to do some allergy testing.

Also came across the National Eczema Organization website with some good tips on treating eczema in children. It looks like moisturize, moisturize, moisturize will be our mantra for the next little while. Look at that. 3 months old and already the little guy is getting his first glimpse in the world of the metrosexual male.

Does media grow healthy kids?

The first annual Kids and Media conference Beyond Primetime kicks off today in New York. Sponsored by the excellent web resource CommonSenseMedia.org, I hope to see a lot of discussion floating around the media and the blogsphere about kids and the media as a result of this conference.

Unlike other events of this type, this one seems a tad different in that the discussion of kids and media use is framed by the context of media use being a public health issue, rather than a social or moral issue. That’s not to say that health is not a social or moral issue, but it’s refreshing to see the context of healthy kids being used to frame the issue of media consumption by kids.

It’s not hard to see the correlation between increased media consumption and health problems in kids. In Canada, rates of childhood obesity have almost tripled over the past 20 years.

The correlation goes beyond speculation that there might be links between media consumption and health. There are direct links. Children who watch more than five hours of TV per day are four-and-a-half times more likely to become overweight than those who watch two hours or less, and kids who watch more than two hours of television a day are more likely to smoke and have high cholesterol.

Which is why conferences like this one are important.

The speaker list is an impressive who’s who list of academics, CEO’s and NGO’s covering all aspects of the media landscape. If you happen to live in New York, you might be interested in checking this conference out.

Olsen Twins Pitch Show About Healthy Eating

Hahahahahaha….I almost fell for this one.

Olsen Twins Pitch Show About Healthy Eating.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are creating a show about health and nutrition for young children, according to media reports. Ashley and her twin sister Mary-Kate, who underwent rehab for anorexia in 2004, have met with TV executives about the new program aimed at four-to-five-year-olds called “Sportee Kids.”

Oh, wait…it’s true? Hmm, kinda like Tyra Banks hosting a show on how to be nice.

Corn Starch & Vaseline

Okay, I have no idea why this works only that it does.

The girl has had a bit of an unknown rash on her face. Nothing serious – it looked like a touch of excema around her nose. It had been hanging around for awhile being more of an annoyance than a medical problem. We hummed and hawed about going to the Doctor for such a minor thing.

Then a friend said to take some corn starch, mix it with some vaseline and apply it to the rash. The results were fantastic. Within a day the rash had visibly gotten smaller, and after a couple of days it is almost completely gone. Go figure.

Chalk one up for folk remedies!