Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two Important Infant Formula Facts

Aias has never had formula so these two facts have never been on my radar; they may be absolutely common knowledge among parents who use formula, but just in case they aren't, I thought I'd write them here.

I was reading an article today about a little baby boy who recently died from a bacterial infection (E. sakazakii) he'd contracted through his infant formula.  This article brought the following fact to my attention:

Fact 1: Powdered infant formulas are not commercially sterile products.

This really surprised me. I know that one should never assume, but I would have felt safe assuming that powdered infant formula was supposed to be as sterile as possible.  The article writes:

Powdered milk-based infant formulas are heat-treated during processing, but unlike liquid formula products they are not subjected to high temperatures for sufficient time to make the final packaged product commercially sterile. FDA has noted that infant formulas nutritionally designed for consumption by premature or low birth weight infants are available only in commercially sterile liquid form. However, so-called "transition" infant formulas that are generally used for premature or low birth weight infants after hospital discharge are available in both non-commercially available sterile powder form and commercially sterile liquid form. Some other specialty infant formulas are only available in non-sterile powder form.
This reminded me of another fact.  I often see mothers of newborns using bottled water to fill their babies bottles, presumably because they think the water is sterile and filtered.

Fact 2: Bottled water is not necessarily sterile water. Sometimes it's even basically just tap water. 

You can read more about different types of bottled water and bottled water purification processes here.

I know a lot of people will probably say "Oh wow it's so dumb for people to have thought infant formula or bottled water are sterile."  In all honesty, while I know you should never assume, I think a lot of really well meaning and trusting people probably would have assumed otherwise, if only because they thought that everyone truly had the number one priority of health in mind when creating these products. Unfortunately that's not always the case.

Anyhow, this is good information to have and share.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Parenting Can Be Hard, and That's OK

"Parenting can be hard." -- Captain Obvious

Since I found out I was pregnant with Aias, I've read hundreds, maybe thousands, of articles on parenting strategies.  I've read all the big titled parenting books cover to cover (Harvey Karp, Elizabeth Pantley, Dr. Sears, you name it).  I've read parenting magazines, parenting blogs, parenting forums, I've asked questions of friends/family members/other parents and been given awesome answers. At the end of the day, presumably this would have left me the most confident parent with all the answers, a real "parenting expert." Right?


Despite all the texts I've read that were written by parents who make it all look so easy, I still feel like a dunce when it comes to parenting.  As a stay-at-home parent of a 2 year old who spends literally 24/7 with  him at my side, you'd think by now I'd have a few tried and true strategies to keep him happy.  Well, I have no such thing.  In fact, the more parenting I do, the less brilliant I feel. 

Lately I've been noticing a trend in articles I've been reading, and that trend is this:

Parenting article addresses parenting issue = Parenting article explains how this issue isn't ACTUALLY that big of a deal = Parenting article explains quick and easy solution that will make this not a problem for you anymore.

Here's the problem: these solutions rarely work with my kid.  Of course, sometimes they do, but maybe 10% of the time.  And when they don't work with him, I start to feel like there's something seriously wrong with myself or worse, seriously wrong with my kid. Sure, sometimes maybe it's poor execution on my part, but sometimes I really follow advice to a T, REPEATEDLY, and I see zero results. This does a number on  my confidence, and let me tell you, 2 year olds can sniff out that sort of vulnerability.

I was recently talking to a friend who has two kids. She explained to me that her first child was easy as can be; she said if she had to watch 10 toddlers at one time and they had all been like her first child, she would have been able to do it no problem.  While parenting her easy first child, she would read about other people's issues on parenting forums and snicker and judge: OBVIOUSLY these parents were just total screw ups who don't have a handle on their kid.  When she got pregnant with her second, she was certain the child would be the same. After all, aren't second children always "so much easier?"  Much to her surprise, her second child was the complete opposite of her first and suddenly she found herself siding with the parents in forums that were saying "Yes! I tried X,Y,Z... none of these strategies work!"  She also found herself on the receiving end of comments such as "well you are obviously doing something wrong or something is wrong with your kid."  It was incredibly frustrating for her, but she FINALLY understood what the other parents were saying when they claimed these "easy peasy strategies" weren't working for their kid.

Now, I'm not suggesting that these parenting tips/strategies are bad, and I'm also not suggesting that parents who make it look easy are jerks.  These parents are simply reporting their experience of parenting their own children, on the off chance that someone out there has a similar child and can therefore have success through learning and utilizing these same strategies.  At the same time, I don't think that making parenting look like an easy breezy thing in general is doing anyone much of a service; the fact is, sometimes parenting is hard, and most importantly THAT'S OK. 

It's ok for strategies that work with other kids to not work with your kid or family. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with yourself, your parenting, your family, or your kid. It's ok if parenting doesn't come easily to you, or if it doesn't seem easy to you ever/most of the time/all of the time.  Additionally, it's ok for strategies that you find successful to NOT be successful for other people. It's ok if another parent finds something frustrating when you find it easy and non-eventful. 

Maybe you are one of those lucky parents of a child who doesn't tantrum, always says please and thank you, shares with the selflessness of Gandhi, and happily obeys your every request.  That's awesome and you are lucky.  If you have advice or tips that you believe will lead to success for other parents and other kids, go on and share those.  Be gracious for your good fortune and remember that while all of us are blessed to be parents, not all of us are blessed in that same exact way. 

Parenting Book Disclaimers should read: Caution, results not typical!

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