Our Experience with Torticollis-Part 1

Buddy at 3 months with obvious tilt to the left. This is how it looked all the time.

When our son was born I thought, like any mother, that he was the most beautiful, perfect baby in the world. I was right. He had all 10 finger and 10 toes, was alert, and rarely cried. He slept wonderfully from the beginning and nursed easily after the 4th day(the first four days are an entirely different story).  After a few weeks I began to notice that he always kept his head tilted to the left. My father pointed it out a few times, but I brushed it off as just a baby without developed neck muscles and head control. We also noticed he used his left hand a lot, but I thought he would just be a leftie. It was so cute! My husband took him to his 3 month check-up and the pediatrician let us know it was not normal and gave us some stretches to do at home. A couple weeks passed and he didn’t seem better so I got on the internet and googled “baby head tilting”. Torticollis pages filled the screen. I clicked on the first one that seemed credible and my eyes were now wide open. Of course he had torticollis! I called the pediatrician the next day and they worked us in. She looked at him and said she was referring us to physical therapy and she was glad we didn’t wait until his next check-up. We received a phone call within a few days from PT and were scheduled for the next week.

Buddy at 3 months with obvious tilt to the left. This is how it looked all the time.

Buddy at 3 months with obvious tilt to the left. This is how it looked all the time.

His first PT visit went well. There were some questions about my pregnancy and delivery. I didn’t have any complications with either. He was not breech and I didn’t have a long delivery which are some possible causes of tort. The only explanation we could come up with was that he was cramped into my small frame, even though he was an average 7.7 lbs. She felt his neck to see if she could feel the tightened muscles. On a side note, Buddy had muscular torticollis. Vision, hearing, and neurological problems are some other potential causes. We felt certain, as did the pt, that he had muscular.  She checked his rotation, which was good, and took some measurements of his skull to check for plagiocephaly. Fortunately his skull was still symmetrical. Many babies with stubborn torticollis will go on to develop plagiocephaly and potentially need a helmet. She pointed out that his cute left-handedness was simply because he couldn’t see his right side due to the tilt and was not as aware of it as his left. It’s not normal, and not good, for a baby to favor a side so early.  She did then some stretches and showed us some exercises and activities to use at home. We left feeling very positive that we would have this resolved in no time.  Although we were very upset that he had a problem we still felt very grateful that it was something so minor and easily treated.We set up a weekly schedule for PT.

The exercises at home were easy to do and we tried to do them whenever we had something else to do, like change a diaper. This was an easy way to remember to do them. We saw great improvement over the next couple of weeks. Two weeks later the PT said that if he continued to do this well we would probably only need to come a few more months and could soon go to visits every other week. We were so excited! Our bubble was burst the next week when he had obviously regressed. We continued going to our weekly visits and about a month later the PT pointed out that his skull was now misshapen. I had noticed but didn’t think it was too bad, and I think I was a little bit in denial. She recommended having a scan done to check the measurements and see if he needed a helmet. I was really upset at this news. We scheduled a scan and checked with our insurance to see what, and if, it would be covered. Fortunately it would be if it was needed. I scoured the internet for information about helmets. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. Some people, and doctors, think most cases of positional plagiocephaly will resolve on their own with time. The parents who chose to go ahead with it seemed to have no regrets and the biggest complaint was cost and stinkiness. I decided if he needed it we would go forward. We went to have his scan done and had some more questions about pregnancy and labor. He had a little cap put on his head to push his hair down and was placed in a small three side machine that scanned his head. It was very quick and he didn’t mind at all. The orthotist looked it over right then while we were in the room. He said that his skull measurements were outside of the range to be considered normal, but not yet to the point of recommending a helmet. We were so relieved. He gave us some helpful tips to keep him off his back and how to minimize pressure to his flat spot when he was on his back. He wanted us to come back in one month for a rescan. Fortunately Buddy had just started rolling over to sleep the week before. This might scare some parents but I knew there were no blankets, stuffed animals, or a crib bumper that might increase his chance of SIDS. Frankly, I was happy that he would have at least 8 hours of time off his back. We continued our weekly PT visits and followed-up one month later. His scan showed that he was now in the normal range and was even more symmetrical than most! We were so, so relieved.

Resources

http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/bones/torticollis.html

http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/sleep/positional_plagiocephaly.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle

Tips for Thrifting

Last week I went over some of the great things I’ve found on my shopping trips. Now I’ll go over some tips and some of the negatives of thrifting.

 

Tip #1-Have a plan. When you first start going to the thrift store you’ll need to get familiar with the layout. I (and many people) have a few stores that they visit regularly. I have one down the street that I go to almost weekly and I’ll use that one as an example. I hit the spots that I enjoy the most and have the best stuff then browse the rest if I have time. Clothing and shoes are immediately to the right and front of the store. Some people spend a lot of time in these sections and recommend really digging through to find they want. I do not buy shoes at thrift stores because, um, eww. I guess if I found a pair with tags I’d be open to it, but not generally. For clothing I briefly go through and look for anything that catches my eye. I’m not going to dig through the racks looking for a brand name simply because it’s a brand name. If it’s not a material, color, or pattern that is my taste I really don’t care that it’s normally a $75 sweater.

    If I’m not looking through clothes I normally go straight to furniture. Flipping furniture has gotten very popular lately and will be snatched up quickly if something good has come out. I’ve looked at a table before, walked around to think about it and come back to find it’s already been claimed. If you think you want it, claim it, then think about it. At Goodwill they will have a tag attached with a part to tear off if you want to buy it. Just take the tag with you to check out. If your store doesn’t have this just ask an associate to place a “sold” sign on it. After furniture I check out the frames and decorative “junk”. Frames are fantastic to buy at thrift stores if you don’t need ones that match. They are very affordable and easy to redo with some paint.  Next I’ll look through the Target closeout section. I’m not sure that every Goodwill does it, but the ones in our area get Target clearance merchandise that never sold. I’ve gotten some great stuff this way. After that I’ll check the book section for Buddy and can usually find a few. Next comes the kids clothes.

 

Tip #2-Check often. Thrift stores are very hit or miss. I usually find nothing or several things. Most thrift stores have a constant rotation and bring things out to the floor throughout the day. That’s why it’s so important to check frequently, especially with big ticket items like furniture.

 

Tip #3-Find out about sales. Goodwill has a tag color everyday that is usually 50% off. The sign is near the door as you walk in. They also have 50% off on holidays. These are great to take advantage of if you passed up on that awesome table you saw. It can’t hurt to see if it’s still there on these days.  Most places also have a senior discount. Consignment stores usually have a schedule they follow for marking down items. Ask an associate how long an item has to be on the floor before it get marks down and then how frequently after that. Most stickers on items have the date that the item was put out.

 

Tip#4-Not everything at thrift stores is worth bringing home.  As mentioned above with the shoes, there’s just some things I will not buy used. I only buy things that can easily be fixed or cleaned. That means no stuffed animals or upholstered furniture. Also no furniture that can’t easily be repaired. No underwear or socks (yes they sell that). Fortunately, most stuff at these stores can be easily fixed or cleaned.

 

Tip #5-Find the good ones. Some thrift stores are better than others and better than others for certain things. The Goodwill closest to me doesn’t get great furniture, but when they do it’s very reasonably priced. The Goodwill fifteen minutes away gets awesome pieces on a regular basis, but it’s usually outrageously priced. The one closest to me doesn’t get good kids clothes, but the one fifteen minutes away does. The one closest to me gets great “junk, but the other doesn’t. If you’re looking for something specific then go to the one you know can fit your needs. The Goodwill 15 minutes away is in a more affluent area and they tend to get a lot of name brand clothes. If I want to look for that, I usually check there first.

 

Now I will go over some of the things that I don’t like about thrift stores.

 

Pricing- Thrift store pricing can be weird and doesn’t always make sense. As noted above the same retailer can have very different pricing for the same type of item just because it’s in a different part of town. I know they have a general guideline for how to price, but it would be nice to see it a bit more standardized or more training for employees doing the pricing.  I went to the store further away and saw a king size Target closeout comforter for $60. I then went to the store closest to me and saw the exact same comforter for $35. Consistency would be much appreciated. The thrift stores also seem to have picked up on the fact that flipping furniture has become popular and are pricing their pieces accordingly. I’ve seen some very beat up dressers for $150. It’s gotten a bit absurd at a few stores. An outdated piece of furniture in good condition shouldn’t be $150, much less a piece that needs a lot of work. Obviously there are some antiques and collectors pieces that would be more expensive, but these aren’t your typical furnishings offered at thrift stores.

 

Strange policies- Goodwill will not sell anything that doesn’t have a price tag. Yes, you will need to leave it behind or give it to an associate so it can go  to the back and be priced. Yes, it is very frustrating. It would be nice if someone would just go “Oh, it’s a shirt, it’s $5”, but that’s most likely not what will happen. I doubt all thrift stores have this policy, but be aware that it may exist.

 

Cleanliness-Some items at thrift stores are just plain dirty, but it can be worth it if you’re willing to put some elbow grease into it. Most stores don’t have the time or resources to clean or sanitize everything that comes through their doors, so be aware.

 

Display- The upkeep of some stores is just outright offputting. I went to one that smelled so heavily of cigarette smoke that I had to leave after a few minutes. Most stores don’t take the time to organize their goods and you have to really dig through to find good things, but that’s also part of the fun. Just bring hand sanitizer (homemade!) Goodwill has done a great job lately of redoing their stores and brand to take away the stigma of thrift stores and make them feel more like “real” stores, but some places still have that feel to them.

 

Keep in mind the difference between consignment stores and thrift stores. Most (but not all) consignment stores are making a profit for an individual or business owner. We do have a thrift store locally who gives the profit to a local church and their programs. Places like Goodwill and Salvation Army are charitable organizations so you are not only helping the environment, and your wallet, but others too!  Donating is also a great way to help them out and you can ask for a receipt to use for tax deduction purposes. Thrifting is win-win for everyone!

Our Thrifted House

Pitcher, tea cups, bowl, cake stand, relish dish

Many people wonder what easy steps they can take to begin living a greener lifestyle, and thrifting is one of the easiest ways to do it. Thrifting helps the environment, your wallet, and can even be lots of fun! It’s gotten pretty trendy recently and for good reason. There are so many benefits and there is definitely a “thrill of the hunt” aspect to it. I try to go thrifting once a week. Not only to look for necessities but to also check out cheap and easy ways to spruce up our home.There are many treasures to be found at thrift and consignment stores. I’m going to go over some great things I’ve found, tips to thrifting, and some of the not so great things of thrift and consignment store shopping.

Lets take a look at some things I’ve found and other things you can usually find thrifting that will be useful around your home.

Odds & Ends.There are all kinds of great random things you can find at thrift and consignment stores. It’s kind of like a surprise because you will never know what treasures you might find. Some of it is great as is and some needs little sprucing up to look decent. I’ve had a lot of success with both.

I have a collection of milk glass, all of which I found while thrifting.The most I spent was $8 for the cake stand. My milk glass vases look great in the spring and summer lined up on our mantle filled with flowers.

Pitcher, tea cups, bowl, cake stand, relish dish

Pitcher, tea cups, bowl, cake stand, relish dish

This painting was found at a local Goodwill for $8 and is very large and handpainted. It was just what I needed to put over our sofa.

Found for $8

Found for $8

Decorative accessories are great to find at thrift stores. It’s easy to find things that you can easily switch out for the seasons if you like to change up your decor.

Jadeite fish bottle,Ball jar, decorative bird cage

Jadeite fish bottle,Ball jar, decorative bird cage

I have a long wall in my dining room. I bought a bunch of frames and painted them to fill up a lot of space. The whole project cost about $30. The opposite wall has a mirror that I found for $8 that I painted white and highlighted with silver.

Family photo gallery

Family photo gallery

Dining room mirror

Dining room mirror

Furniture is another wonderful thing to search for at thrift and consignment stores. I found these tables at our local Goodwill for $8 each. We are currently working on a dresser for our son’s big boy room. I will do a full post on that room when it’s completed as many things in there will be from thrift and consignment stores. I’m also on the hunt for a dining room table, but no luck yet.

Bought for $8, sanded and painted

Bought for $8, sanded and painted

Well made side table for $8

Well made side table for $8

Found for $100 at furniture consignment store

Found for $100 at furniture consignment store

Various kids items are in abundance at thrift stores. Most of Buddy’s books have come from Goodwill and only cost $1 each. Most of his clothing comes from thrift stores and big consignment sales.

A great way to eliminate plastic is to get dishes at a thrift store. I often see whole china sets for $30 or less. Or you could build a more eclectic collection by just buying what you think is cute! Baskets are also in abundance and an affordable way to start organizing your home. You can also find some great clothes in these stores. I’ve often seen designer brands in great shape.

Join me next week as I go over some tips and not so great things about thrifting (but nothing bad enough to not go thrifting!).

28 Blogs with creative earth-friendly Easter crafts for 2013

Found some pretty cool projects for you and your little ones to do for Easter. There are some creative ideas using materials you probably already have, will provide for a fun bonding experience, and best yet they are all earth friendly!

Get an early start on your Easter decorating and check out this article:

http://www.findababysitter.org/blog/28-blogs-featuring-recycled-easter-crafts-for-eco-friendly-moms/

What You Can and Can’t Recycle

Paper Recycling Bin

I remember when I was in middle school our county started a curbside pick-up for recyclables for those within city limits. I thought it was such a neat thing until I found out that there were many things we couldn’t recycle. Although most places seem to accept more now, there are still some restrictions and that causes people not to recycle. People want it to be easy. They don’t want to think about what is ok to recycle, rinse stuff out, and remove labels.

Once you are familiar with what is acceptable it really isn’t that much effort. As for the rinsing and removing, we tend to set things aside during the day and just do all that at one time at night. It doesn’t take much time. Although I will admit I don’t always do great with removing labels. Keep in mind you can’t recycle anything with food residue such as a pizza box.  Now what can you recycle? We’ll take a quick look at that.

Paper Recycling BinPaper
According to the EPA, paper accounts for the largest portion of our trash. Most paper products can be recycled. Paper, cardboard, and mail are some common things you can put in your bin. Glossy paper such as magazines is accepted at most places, but not all. Our local drop-off doesn’t accept hardback books.

 

 

Recycling Logo

Plastics
Plastic containers have a triangle made of three chasing arrows with a number inside indicating what type of plastic it is. They are labelled No. 1 through No.7. The most common types are No.1 and No.2 and should be accepted at most facilities. Some common products using these numbers are water bottles and salad dressing. You will need to check with your county to see if they accept any other numbers. Our county will accept everything except Styrofoam  Plastic bags are usually not accepted but many grocery stores will take them. Our local Wal-mart has a drop-off at the entrance.

 

Stack of Crushed Cans

Aluminum and Steel
Aluminum and steel products are widely accepted, including soda cans and aluminum foil. Our local county drop-off will even accept aerosol cans if they have been emptied and cleaned.

 

 

 

Colorful Bottles

Glass
Glass recycling is surprisingly restrictive. Most places will only accept food or beverage containers, cleaned and without the lids. Many curbside drop-off services will not take glass since it can break in transport. Light-bulbs, mirrors, and ceramic dishes are common household items that cannot be recycled.

 

 

Another thing to remember is your county run recycling center will probably accept more items than a simple bin drop-off at a small location. We usually take our recyclables to a drop-off center but we can only take glass, aluminum, and paper. Our county-run drop off will accept much more. Visit www.Earth911.com for more information and to find your local recycling center.

 

Sources: Earth911.com

http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/something-can-recycled-3194.html#

Green Toys Recycling Truck – One of our favorites

Recycling Truck 3

This is a green toy in every way! This truck is so much fun for a little one to play with. Our two-year-old has gotten so much use out of it. I was surprised by how large it is. You get a lot for your money.

P1030060

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truck has a door in the back that opens up and openings on the sides to put recyclables in. He likes putting his wooden people in the back and raisins in the sides. We find all kinds of things in there. We have no problem with him eating the raisins after as the truck is food safe.

P1030061

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has also proven to be very durable. Our son has thrown this a few times and dropped it several more, but there are no signs of wear and tear after playing with it every day for a month. I know this one will last us a long time.

We have been very happy with this product. This truck is made from recycled milk jugs and is BPA, PVC, and phthalate free.  Green Toys products are made in the USA. You can purchase one from Earth Friendly Tots here.

P1030057

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*We were not paid or perked by Green Toys for this review. Our son, and we as parents, truly love this product.

Pros and Cons of Using Eco Friendly Products

You are probably somewhat familiar with eco-friendly products that can help to reduce toxic wastes and prevent environmental pollution. If you start thinking about the advantages of using such products, you can come up with countless reasons for why to use them. The main benefits are saving money and energy, as well as reducing harmful chemicals. However, living a green life isn’t perfect.  Let us discuss a few advantages and disadvantages of using eco-friendly products in our daily life.

Pros of Using Eco- friendly Products

Pollution Reduction – Of course, this is the most well- known and biggest advantage of using such products. They help you reduce the amount of toxic wastes and non-degradable substances on the planet which means less pollution. Imagine all those plastic bottles and similar items that won’t disintegrate getting eliminated totally from the face of earth. Some ways to help with this are using a filter on your tap water and using cloth diapers instead of disposables.

Personal health – Plastic substances and such other items we use can produce many health issues, due to the chemicals present in them, right from the time of manufacture to the time it becomes an end product. Switching to eco-friendly items can eliminate this fear and make your lives greener and fresher. Look for items that don’t contain BPA, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals.

Long term savings – If you are looking for some savings in the long run, then eco-friendly products are a good way to go. Many of them are also quite energy efficient. Products like solar panels and electric or hybrid cars can save you a lot on energy costs. Something as simple as switching out your incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs can help save money with reduced energy consumption and you won’t have to replace them as often.    

Cons of Using Eco-friendly Products

Now that we have discussed the pros of using these products, let’s get into the cons of using them.

Limited availability – The first and foremost problem you may face when looking for eco-friendly products is where to find them. Finding the best eco-friendly products that can suit your requirements may not be such an easy job. Sometimes you have to go to smaller stores or online to find products that are eco-friendly.

Initial Cost – In the case of bigger eco-friendly products like the solar panel or the electric or hybrid car, you may find that the initial cost needed to buy them would be far more compared to a normal mass market product. This can act as a hindrance if you are on a low budget, but this doesn’t necessarily apply to smaller products or for those people who are prepared to spend more to make green changes in their life.

Implementation-It can be hard to make changes to your routine. The intention to go green is much easier than actually doing so. It’s best to start with small changes, such as changing light bulbs or buying reusable shopping bags instead of using plastic.

Also many people are now realizing the cost-savings for going green in many aspects of their lives, and with more and more eco-friendly products coming to market, it will get easier and less expensive.

Though you know the cons clearly now, buying eco friendly products can be a small change of lifestyle if you are ready to go the extra mile to leave a green world for your children.

The Dangerous Ingredients of Plastic Toys

Toys are something children can never live without! In fact, if you are the parent of a little one, you are expected to find and buy the toys of your tiny tot’s liking. But is it good enough if you buy some random toy you find in a shop? That would definitely satisfy your kid; but the fact is that you might be indirectly giving your kid a toxic substance!! Yes – you are reading right! Almost every plastic toy contains toxic chemicals and by-products that can harm your child and cause serious health issues. Read on, to know more about the toxic substances a plastic toy may contain.

You would be surprised to learn that each step in the process of making toys involves chemicals, some less harmful than others, but there are some that can cause serious health issues. The main purpose for using chemicals is to save the time and money during the manufacturing process for these toys. Lead is one of the major toxic substances found in most plastic toys available today, as has been seen recently in toys being manufactured in China. Lead is actually a component of the paint used to color the toys. The paint containing lead can cause severe health issues even in a fully grown adult. And this paint, which can peel off from the toy with time, can cause severe lead poisoning to your child. This can lead to terrible defects in the body or even death if the level of lead is too high.

Phthalates are the next type of toxic substances found in plastic toys. These are substances that are added to the normal plastic material, to increase its flexibility and durability. As far as plastic toys are considered, flexibility is very important, mostly because children love to play with something that moves and bends. But if this flexibility is attained by the use of phthalates in it, you should definitely say NO to those toys, as they can harm your child and cause health issues. Sucking or chewing a toy containing phthalates can cause this toxic substance to be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause serious problems. These substances can actually affect the development of your child, cause an early onset of puberty, cancer, stunt growth or otherwise negatively influence them.

BPA or Bisphenol A is yet another toxic substance in toys which can harm your child. These substances, if ingested through chewing or sucking of the toy, can imitate the body hormones and cause various unpleasant and unwanted activities in the body of the child, including retarded growth or early growth and development of the child’s body.
The presence of polystyrene in toys also cannot be disregarded, when looking for safe toys for your child. This chemical is present in most toys and has the ability to cause cancer in the body. It is also known to affect the nervous system, thereby damaging the nerves in severe cases.

PVC plastic, the 3rd most commonly used plastic in the world, is another material you should be conscious of. Due to its nature as a hard and brittle material, numerous chemicals must be added to it to make finished vinyl products. Whenever your child plays with toys made out of PVC and puts them in their mouth, they can potentially end up ingesting these toxic chemicals.

Testing has been done on PVC toys designed for very young children, which included teethers, for the presence of hazardous additives known by the scientific term phthalates, which are used to soften plastic. All soft PVC products contain these hazardous chemicals.
It is also important to point out that there are very little regulations on the manufacturing and distribution of toys and the harmful substances they are made of.

There are no stringent tests a children’s toy product must pass before being put on the market in most countries, including the U.S., unlike crash tests that new cars must endure before being allowed to be sold. Do NOT fall under the assumption that if it made its way onto a store shelf or is simply being sold that it is safe. You MUST do your due diligence and understand what is in the product.

So now that you are aware, make sure that you choose wisely when looking for your tiny tot’s favorite toy! If you want SAFE toys that are chemical-free, made by environmentally and health conscious companies, check out the store over at: www.earthfriendlytots.com

How to Teach our Kids to Go Green?

tree

Don’t you think it’s time to teach your tot’s to go green?  Because of people littering everyday, factories polluting, and not enough recycling, it seems like our planet is going one direction-and that’s down.

Here we list some ways to help teach you children to be environmentally friendly.

1. Replace the forest: Our forest are being taken down one at a time. When there are fewer trees there is less oxygen, and more pollution. Teach your children the importance of keeping and planting trees.

2. Teach your children to recycle when possible instead of littering. Explain how littering pollutes our land and water.

3. Buy eco-friendly toys: they are safer and most of the time last longer-and your children can hand them down to their children.

4. Reduce time using electricity: Teach your children the importance of spending time outdoors, explain to them why they shouldn’t leave the lights on, or leave their electronics on when not being used. Not only will your electric bill go down, but there will also be a reduction in energy used.

5. Use the library: Teach your children to use the library or download books when possible. Not only will you save money, but you will protect our forest and cut down on waste in our landfills.

 

Tip: Buy Toys With Minimal Packaging

alphabet

Americans buy 3.6 billion toys per year, and in some cases the packaging volume for a single toy can be more than ten times the toy itself. Look for toys with the least amount of packaging , you will reduce pollution, save on waste, and fuel cost when having shipped.