Archive for November, 2012

Pregnancy & Parenting News: maternal diet, traffic pollution and breastfeeding support programs

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Current news in the world of pregnancy and parenting has revealed that proper nutrition during the maternal and early childhood stages of development may protect children from obesity later in life. A study has revealed that children living in an area which has a high level of traffic pollution are three times more likely to develop autism when compared to infants exposed to low levels of pollution. A study conducted in Pakistan has revealed that mothers cease breastfeeding early in order to return to employment, this is a concern as this country has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Furthermore breastfeeding has been proven to be beneficial in providing improved health outcomes for infants and may be critical in reducing infant deaths in countries such as Pakistan.

The importance of diet during pregnancy

Birth weight has been shown to influence the health outcomes of children later in life and can be associated with the diet consumed during pregnancy. Low birth weights consistent with nutritional deficiencies in energy, iron and micro-nutrients can be associated with metabolic imbalances and may ultimately lead to obesity later in life. Studies have also shown that a high protein intake such as through feeding formula early in life may also lead to obesity. Breastfeeding reduces the incidence of obesity later in a childs’ life by 20% (Yang and Huffman, 2012). This is significant in a world where obesity is becoming an epidemic.

A link between autism and air quality

A study conducted by the University of Southern Carolina and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has compared 279 autistic children with 245 unaffected children. The results of this study have shown that children living in areas of high traffic pollution were three times more likely to be autistic than children who were exposed to low levels of this pollution. The results of this study are significant given that we live in a world which is becoming more and more urbanised and with this comes reduced air quality and increased transports. The results of this study are supported by earlier research carried out in this area.

Breastfeeding promotes infant health however mothers need support programs to make the transition

Many studies have shown the health benefits associated with breastfeeding, of particular note is the improvement in immunity and ultimately a reduction in infant mortality. A study conducted in Pakistan has shown that many women find it difficult to continue breastfeeding when they return to employment resulting in a reduction in the prevalence of breastfeeding which is concerning in a country which has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Women who were able to continue breastfeeding whilst being employed said it was important to receive social and workplace support, information and to be able to communicate openly about their needs. The study unveiled a need to develop programs and systems to encourage and support mothers to continue breastfeeding when they returned to work.

 

Fabric vs vinyl wall decals – what to look for before you buy

Monday, November 19th, 2012

While many of our customers adore the traditional vinyl wall stickers others are sampling our latest range of fabric wall stickers and loving them! There’s good reason to love the humble fabric wall decal, it’s great for the walls, small children, mum and dad’s sanity and the environment.

Dinosaur wall stickers

Dinosaur wall decals for kids rooms

 

Let me explain why I personally love fabric decals over vinyl.

  • Removable and movable over and over and over again- the flimsy structure of vinyl just can’t handle this stress and will either tear or bluntly refuse to adhere to the surface and that’s if the vinyl decal is movable in the first place. Many vinyl wall stickers are not movable and you should read all listings very carefully and request a sample to check the quality of the product.
  • Longer lasting- the movable nature of fabric decals means they look just as good after several repositions as they did when you took them out of the postal tube. Overall the money you invest in fabric wall stickers goes much further than investing in vinyl. You can even wipe and wash our fabric wall stickers! Perfect for dirty little finger prints :)
  • Scrunchable – Yes you got it, scrunch up the fabric decal and you can straighten it to look just like new. After many years of trading in vinyl wall stickers and having our customers comment saying their child had removed the decal and crumpled it up only to find that when you start straightening out the vinyl it starts to tear. Fabric wall stickers are super durable!
  • Adherence to pretty much any surface – we receive enquiry after enquiry from our customers wanting to know if wall stickers will stick to their rendered walls. Thankfully we can now say that our fabric decals will adhere to render and we have even tested them on unpainted brick (our manufacturer says this is the only surface they won’t stick to) on the outside of our house- they stick without any issues.
  • Eco-friendly – when you purchase Wall Craft branded fabric decals you are doing your bit for the environment. Not only is this product PVC and BPA free but it is printed using eco-solvent inks which are non toxic and do not contain any harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which have been linked to causing cancer.
  • Australian made – keep jobs in Australia and support an Aussie owned and run business. We are really proud to be supporting an Australian made product and like most goods made in Australia the quality is far superior to goods made overseas. From our experience wall stickers that are made in China commonly have issues adhering to wall surfaces and will often peel off the wall and cause a hazard in your baby’s nursery particularly when they fall in their cot! Cheap is cheap, do not sacrifice quality when it comes to your child’s room and safety. More importantly who knows what goes into manufacturing wall stickers overseas? What type of inks are used, do they contain harmful VOCs which will be emitted in your baby’s nursery? These are all important questions you should be asking or being informed about before purchasing any wall stickers. A reputable manufacturer will provide this information.
  • Stick around corners and ceilings – our fabric wall stickers will adhere around bends in the walls and will even stick to ceilings.
  • Matte finish which looks fantastic in any light and will not reflect making the design invisible.
  • Customisable – made in Australia also means you can choose your own colours and make alterations to the designs. Decorate your nursery with a decal that is just perfect, our designers are more than happy to help.
  • Transportation wall stickers

    Transport wall stickers for boys rooms

If you’re still not convinced on the benefits of Australian made fabric wall decals, please contact us and we’d be happy to send you a free sample so you can make up your own mind! Next time you’re decorating give them a go, what’s there to lose? Unlike other wall sticker companies we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our fabric wall stickers.

News: Iron & omega-3s, Malaria vaccine, exercise and limiting screen time

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

The latest news surrounding pregnancy and parenting for this week is disappointing in terms of a failed vaccine for Malaria but on a more positive note exercise appears to be beneficial for a child’s cognition. In the area of children’s supplements some new research suggests that the timing of administration is critical to having a positive effect on a child’s development. We’re all concerned about the effects of our children watching copious amounts of television and a study has effectively reduced the number of meals children consume in front of the TV by implementing a new program.

Malaria vaccine found to be ineffective

Malaria kills 650,000 people every year, mainly young children and pregnant women. Drug company Glaxo first started developing a vaccine to prevent Malaria in 1987 and has spent $300 million with disappointing results thus far. The difficulty in creating a Malaria vaccine appears to be due to the challenge of targeting 5 different parasites which all cause the disease. No one has been able to develop a vaccine to prevent a disease caused by a parasite, hence the frustrating delay in making one available. On a positive note the current vaccine protected 30% of the 6500 infants in the study from Malaria but this is not significant enough to support the widespread use of the vaccine which according to the World Health Organisation should protect at least 50% of the population.

Iron and omega-3 supplementation in children

The results of a recent clinical trial have shown that iron supplementation for 8 months improved memory and learning in children aged 6 to 11 years old. Similarly children with diagnosed anemia showed even greater improvement. In contrast omega-3 supplementation did not improve brain function and in fact children receiving omega-3 supplements showed a decline in learning and memory. Research in the area of iron deficiency is important because the World Health Organisation estimates that it affects 2 billion people worldwide, making it the most common nutritional deficiency. Studies on rats have shown that there appears to be some benefit in supplementing both omega-3s and iron together. This study was conducted in South Africa and the children were impoverished and some were suffering from low iron, therefore the results cannot be generalised to all children worldwide. Iron and omega-3s are essential in brain development and more research is needed to identify whether there is an ideal age for supplementation as brain development may be irreversibly effected if supplementation is delayed.

 Reducing kids screen time

A paediatrician from the Hospital of Sick Children in Toronto believes there is a relationship between obesity and eating in front of a screen whether it be a computer or television. Screen time has also been linked to kids with poor language development and an increased incidence of cigarette smoking as teenagers. A program was developed to inform parents of the damaging effects of screen time on a child’s development and instructed parents to remove screens from their child’s room and not to allow the eating of meals in front of a screen. The study found that there was no difference in the amount of time spent infront of a screen by children who underwent the program and the control group however the children that participated in the program ate less meals in front of the televsion than those who did not go through the program.

Exercise may improve ADHD outcomes

Children with ADHD struggle to ignore distractions and focus on a single task. Pontifex and his colleagues recruited children with ADHD and without. They gave them a test which assessed their ability to focus, this was administered following 20 minutes of treadmill exercise and 20 minutes of reading on separate occassions. The results showed that both children with ADHD and those without demonstrated improved test results following exercise. Further research needs to look into the mechanism through which this improved cognitive ability comes about and whether regular exercise could improve children’s ability to focus, ultimately leading to better school outcomes. More research is required before exercise replaces ADHD medications however this research suggests that all children may benefit from regular exercise through an improved ability to focus on a task.

Breastfeeding and diet

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Many mums are tempted to go on a strict diet following the birth of their baby. If you’re going to breastfeed, it’s important to consume a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients. This will be a demanding time for your body, it will be drained of nutrients and energy and you must replenish these reserves to ensure a quality supply of milk and to maintain your overall health and wellbeing.

Breastfeeding will drain your body of fluids so it is important that you drink lots of water, up to 2L per day is recommended.

Important nutrients include:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Vitamins

Some women find they naturally lose weight whilst breastfeeding and it’s important to keep in mind that this natural and gradual reduction in fat should be the goal rather than rapid weight loss.

You may find yourself snacking more frequently whilst breastfeeding and this is normal as your body is refuelling the energy lost from breastfeeding. Plan for this hunger and you will be able to avoid being tempted into eating chocolate and other unhealthy options. Here is a list of beneficial snacks for breastfeeding mums:

  • Toast and sandwiches- use avocado as your spread to replace margarine and butter
  • Dairy products such as yoghurt, milk and breakfast cereals
  • Seeds- chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Nuts- almonds, walnuts, macadamia
  • Celery and carrot sticks- whip up a yummy dip using avocado, tomato, red onion and lime juice

Be sure to include these nutrients in your meals:

  • Protein- meats, fish, seeds, dairy, legumes, beans.
  • Four serves of calcium per day (very important or it will be drained from your bones)- dairy products, sardines
  • Iron- think red berries (Vitamin C), meats, dried fruit, nuts, spinach (leafy greens- these also provide folate and Vitamin A)

Certain medications and other compounds such as caffeine will pass into breast milk and therefore should be avoided. Ask your pharmacist about medications which are appropriate for breastfeeding. Limit tea and coffee to 2 drinks per day to avoid feeding your baby large amounts of caffeine. Avoid fish with high levels of mercury such as flake and swordfish.

Breastfeeding has been shown to be beneficial to the development and wellbeing of babies and therefore you have the support of many helpful resources at your fingertips. Here are a few that you may find helpful in your journey:

Nappy bag checklist

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Packing your baby nappy bag may seem somewhat daunting at first however we have created this simple checklist which although general in nature (every baby is different) – it’s a terrific foundation for building on with your own ideas and baby’s requirements.

Organising your nappy bag

Use our checklist to organise your nappy bag

 

  • Nappies- depending on how long you’re going out for you should always carry one or two nappies in your bag and some extras in the car just in case. If you’re using cloth nappies, we recommend selecting a nappy bag that is roomy enough to accommodate your cloth nappies which can be bulkier than disposables. The il Tutto nappy bags (Nico, Mia, Chiara) are very spacious as are the OiOi carryall styles and the gr8x escapades design.
  • Nappy wet bags – these are waterproof sacks that zip up and contain any soiled clothing or nappies that you may need to store when you’re out and about. We are currently giving away 2 free wet bags with every nappy bag purchased from our store!
  • Wipes – you can purchase handy travel packs which will fit snuggly into your nappy bag. Some nappy bags also come with a wipes case which is great for keeping your wipes moist and handy for convenience. We also love the reusable bamboo wipes which are super soft and perfect for babies who have sensitive skin as they do not contain any fragrances or chemicals that may cause eczema.
  • Tissues
  • Change mat – a padded change mat is handy when you need to change your baby on the run. These are portable and fold up so as to fit into your nappy bag. You can also purchase change stations which have compartments for your wipes, creams etc.
  • Sanitiser – the new hand sanitisers are available in small travel bottles which are great for using on your own hands after changing bubs if you have no access to soap and water.
  • Change of baby clothes - just in case. Always have some warm clothes in case the weather changes for example socks, jumper etc.
  • Hat -¬† in case it’s cold have a beanie and for any weather keep a hat in your nappy bag for bubs and one for you too – if you have the room.
  • Sunscreen & repellant – infant roll on sunscreen.
  • Food – keep a jar of baby food in your nappy bag and some snacks for bubs.
  • Bottle and formula – kept inside an insulated bottle holder which generally comes with most nappy bags but can be purchased separately.
  • Bibs and burp cloths
  • Toys -¬† a couple of toys to keep your baby entertained.
  • Dummy – stored in a pacifier pocket which comes with some nappy bags.
  • Baby Panadol or Neurofen – in case of fever or pain.
  • Muslin wrap – great for covering your babies pram or wrapping baby in whilst feeding/sleeping.
  • Bottle of water – for mum, particularly important for breastfeeding mums who need to keep up their water intake (up to 2L per day).
  • Nursing cover and breastpads – for breastfeeding mums.
  • Barrier cream – or Pawpaw ointment to prevent nappy rash.
  • Spare shirt & bra for mum- in case you get chucked on or leak through your breast pads.
  • Some spare change – keep $10 in spare change, this will be handy for parking metres or other odd charges.
  • Blanket – keep a blanket and or muslin wrap underneath your pram as it may be too bulky for your nappy bag.
  • Keys – some nappy bags have a handy key finder which you can attach your keys to.
  • Mobile – Keep an eye out for nappy bags that feature a pocket for your mobile phone. These are super convenient when you have bubs in one arm and need to find your phone quickly.
  • Wallet or purse – don’t leave your license and money in your hand bag! Remember to transfer your purse over to your nappy bag and vice versa depending on if you have baby or not.

We have a great range of nappy bags to suit all mums. We even have a special section for mums with twins or more than one child. Click here to view our full range.

News: fertility, early treatment and anxiety

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

What topics have made the news this week in the areas of parenting and medicine?

Could predicting your decline in fertility be as easy as asking your mum? What are the benefits of early treatment including parental training for children with autism? Is there a connection between parental anxiety and childrens social outcomes?

Fertility and genetics

The Copenhagen university hospital has undertook research to determine whether there is a link between the age that a mother goes through menopause and when her daughter will go through menopause. The research showed that daughters of women who went through menopause early, had a faster rate of egg decline represented by lower levels of AMH and AFC hormones. The results of the study suggest that a woman’s fertility is somewhat inherited from her mother.

Early intervention helps children with autism

The Yale School of Medicine has found improvements in the communication of children with autism when treatment is initiated early in their development. Treatment included parental training and is known as pivotal response treatment. Previously diagnosis of autism occured when the child was 3-5 years of age however researcher Volkmar is now diagnosing children as young as one year of age. The study employed the use of magnetic resonance imaging or MRI and the results showed that children who underwent early treatment demonstrated a higher level of activity in the region of the brain associated with social behaviours and these children also showed improvements in talking to people.

Parental behaviours and anxiety in children

Reseachers from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center have found that children who’s parents suffer from social anxiety disorder are more at risk of developing anxiety than children who’s parents suffer from other forms of anxiety. Put simply if you suffer from social anxiety, the risk that your child will suffer from some form of anxiety is increased. Researchers noted that parents who had been diagnosed with social anxiety were more critical of their children and showed less warmth. Apparently children do not inherit anxiety however they do have a propensity toward developing it if they are exposed to environmental factors. Research in this area is important because anxiety can lead to depression, substance abuse and poor performance at school.

Tips on creating a modern baby nursery

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Over the past few years we have noticed a trend toward parents purchasing modern decor to create their ultimate baby space. Modern nurseries are often simple, sustainable, gender/colour neutral, flexible, efficient, child friendly and inspire children’s imaginations.

Here is a simple checklist you can use when creating your modern nursery.

1. Set a budget- note down all the essential items you will need for your baby, including items such as the cot, change table, drawers, nappies, bassinet, bath, pram etc. Once you have budgeted for these items you can then start working on your budget for the nursery decorating. It’s a great idea to be browsing magazines, blogs and websites etc for ideas and keep a folder or note pad to jot down your ideas. I have included some great nursery decorating resources at the end of this page.

2. Get organised early- it’s a good idea to begin sourcing where you will purchase your nursery items relatively early to mid way through your pregnancy. Some items may need to be ordered in or custom made and this can typically take 1-3 months in some cases for items ranging from wooden baby names, wall decals up to your essential goods such as furniture. The other benefit in sourcing your supplies early rather than later is that you may be able to shop around for the best price and snag a bargain at a sale.

3. Keep it simple- it’s important to keep in mind when creating your modern nursery that this space should feel like a calming and safe place to your baby. Shapes of furniture and other items should be simple with natural curves and lines, nothing overly flamboyant. Keep the colours neutral, natural tones are perfect. Some of our customers have created amazing nurseries using colours such as beige, which will progressively be livened up with your baby’s toys, floor rug, bedding and wall decals etc. The photo below shows how a neutral backdrop has the effect of highlighting the items used to decorate the nursery in this instance the white furniture, books, toys and wall decals. This wall decal is perfect for modern nurseries as it customisable (choose your own colours to match your nursery colour palette), gender neutral (can be re-used for your next baby or evolve into a kids room), flexible (removable if you wish to re-design the room), adaptable (the branches can be transformed into shelves, saving space- purchase these from Ikea). You can find out more information or buy this wall decal by clicking here.

Tree shelf wall decals

Use this tree shelf decal to decorate your nursery

 

4. Use some bright colours- bright colours will add interest to the nursery. Items such as toys, floor rugs, wall decals, clocks and even furniture can add a pop of colour. White furniture on a darker contrasted wall looks terrific and if you prefer brown furniture use a lighter colour on your wall to make it stand out. Customisable wall stickers are readily available and you really should invest some time into thinking about the colours you would like in your nursery. Choosing your bedding and items which are not customisable first may be a good option as wall stickers in most instances can be customised to match your bedding and wall colours. As the image below shows, bright dot decals are the ultimate in adding some instant colour.

Bright dot wall decals

Dot wall decals can add a splash of colour to any kids room.

 

5. Saving space- select decorating and furniture items with a view to creating an open space. For example if you are limited for space, when selecting your furniture instead of purchasing a change table plus a separate set of drawers, choose a change table that already has a built in set of drawers underneath. As shown below.

Baby change table

6. Re-use- Modern spaces should reflect modern goals and sustainability, the re-usability of items is key in the nursery. Select gender neutral colours and the space will be perfect if you decide to welcome a baby boy or girl to the nursery in the future. Some furniture can be re-used for example source a cot that can convert into a toddler bed, saving the need to purchase unnecessary furniture down the track. Other reusable purchases may include your designer nappy bag which can often convert into your favourite handbag once you no longer need to carry about your baby items. Movable wall stickers are a fantastic sustainable option and they can be re-used over and over without losing efficacy. Similarly supporting ecofriendly products such as fabric wall stickers instead of PVC vinyl decals will go a great way to fulfilling the long term goals of a modern nursery. Reusable cloth nappies are fantastic too!

7. Child friendly- modern nurseries should showcase items that are child friendly and usable. With the aim of encouraging exploration and inspiring the imagination. Interactive wall decals are a great way for a child to explore art and learn visually. Alphabet wall decals are educational and make a bold statement in the modern nursery and kids room.

8. Themes can be limiting- avoid creating a nursery around an overpowering theme such a licensed character. Instead allow your baby to develop their own tastes as their modern nursery inspires their imagination and encourages their independence. Some popular themes can be found by clicking here.

9. Personalise the nursery- it is so easy to personalise your baby’s space with customisable name wall stickers and wooden names. For as little as $49.95 you can add your child’s name to their wall as a wall sticker, in your choice of colours and fonts. Painted wooden names can be ordered for as little as $29.99 depending on the length of the name.

Some inspiration for your nursery project:

Tree wall decor

Tree wall stickers for the home or office

Bird cage wall stickers

Birdcage wall stickers can be customised to suit your home decor.

Owl wall stickers

Owl wall stickers are customisable to suit all nurseries.

Woodland tree decor

Woodland wall stickers for kids rooms available in 4 designs

 

Some resources that you may find helpful:

Baby nursery ideas on pinterest

Chic and Cheap nursery

Project nursery

Lay baby lay

Baby room ideas on pinterest