Baby Eczema: 5 Simple Changes You Can Make to Soothe Your Baby’s Skin

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Around the 18 month mark, Liam started developing baby eczema. He never had particularly sensitive skin, diaper rashes, or reactions as an infant, so we were a little surprised to hear from our pediatrician that it was, in fact, a mild case of nummular eczema.

The reality is that about 20 percent of babies and young children develop eczema. It usually starts in infancy, with 65 percent of patients developing symptoms in the first year of life and 90 percent developing symptoms before age 5 (babycenter.com). The tendency to have eczema can be inherited , but it can also be caused by an allergic reaction or a simple reaction to irritants, changes in temperature, and dry skin. It isn’t contagious, and the good news is that many children do outgrow baby eczema. For others, it is simply seasonal with flare ups in the colder months.

Although the steroid ointment our pediatrician suggested worked right away to clear his eczema, Liam has had some mild flare ups again, especially during particularly cold weeks.

Since I am not a fan of always having to go the “medication” route if not 100% necessary, I did some research on natural ways to prevent eczema flare ups. Here are five solutions I’ve found that could help you too:

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Although the cause of eczema is still unknown, it is important to figure out what your child’s triggers are to alleviate flare ups.

Eczema flare-ups can sometimes be triggered by skin irritation caused by chemicals, such as the detergents in bubble baths, shampoos, washing powders and fabric softeners (babycentre.co.uk).  You could also try changing your washing detergent because, believe it or not, even the washed clothing and other linens that come in contact with your baby’s skin can cause flare ups. We use Seventh Generation and Babyganics.

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As mentioned above, there are many toxins and chemicals in traditional shampoos and body washes. Sometimes, even organic products can be too harsh on your baby’s skin! Aim for products with simple ingredients, and definitely no strong smells. Less is more!

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Since Liam was a newborn, we’ve been using the Babyganics Foaming Shampoo and Bodywash. It’s super foamy so you don’t need a lot, and it’s hands free which is always nice during crazy bath time.

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I’ve had the opportunity of working with two amazing Etsy vendors who are beyond passionate about baby skin. Their products have done wonders on my son’s dry, winter skin!

Made and shipped from Louisiana, Cake Face Soaping products are made with premium ingredients, some even grown in Kelsey’s own backyard. Does it get more authentic than that? There are no chemicals, fragrances, or parabens in their products.

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Although I received this lovely set only a few days ago, the Baby Body Lotion and Bye-Bye Dry Patch! have become staples in our household after bath time. Liam’s skin has definitely improved as a result and I can already see the dry patches fading, becoming softer to the touch. I cannot wait to test out the baby oils as well!

Baby Body Lotion Ingredients: A delicate blend of organic avocado oil, avocado butter, grapeseed oil, pistachio butter, pumpkin seed butter, fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, and essential oil blend (lavender, chamomile, patchouli).

Bye-Bye Dry Patch Ingredients: Distilled water, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and a Cake Face blend of chamomile and lavender essential oils.

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The founder of Meadowlark Botanical, Jessica Yaw, started her brand based on a personal need. In 2009, she started getting hives from packaged foods, skin products, and stress. She thought she could control the symptoms with topical ointments, but realized the problem was deeper than that. After countless MD appointments, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Mast Cell Activation Disorder, in which mast cells excessively release chemical mediators, resulting in a range of chronic symptoms. The products she was using at the time were only aggravating the situation.

Jessica made her first eczema cream on the 4-burner stove in her kitchen, using a host of organic ingredients that came together in what she believes was a “truly divine way”. Within days, her skin started clearing. She felt better, no longer itchy, her bran fog began to lift… Since then, she’s continued her training in medicinal aromatherapy and herbal medicine and has created a wide array of products she is exciting about sharing with the world. Her passion for holistic health changed her life, and she yearns to empower others to do the same, living a mindful, well-intentioned and beautiful life.

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Jessica’s eczema cream is our go-to multiple times a day. It smells delicious and rubs on beautifully. Liam always asks for a quick sniff before I put it away! When my mother-in-law tried it on her psoriasis, she was quick to order one for herself. It’s that good.

Ingredients: Organic shea butter and coconut oil combines with organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, evening primrose oil, chamomile, house-infused calendula oil, and a few soothing, medicinal grade healing essential oils such as calendula that bring immediate relief from eczema, psoriasis, and dry, inflamed, or chapped skin.

If you’re interested in trying out Jessica’s product line, she was generous enough to give my readers a 15% off coupon (MAMALUV). I promise you that you will not be disappointed!

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I can’t stress this one enough, because it’s made a huge difference in our household. Avoid polyester, nylon, and even wool, as it may trap heat and worsen itching. Cotton and bamboo are two of your best options because they are soft and gentle on the skin, breathable, and absorbent.

 Bambi Bamboo is a brand I found on Amazon that sells baby linens and swaddles made of bamboo, a fiber that keeps baby’s skin clean & clear while also being hypoallergenic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-static, as well as odor and germ resistance. The advantage of bamboo is that it regulates your skin temperature. Perfect for our babies!

This adorable, organic bamboo hooded towel is great because it actually dries Liam in half the time cotton does (I know, I was shocked too!) and gets softer with every wash – so much softer than the organic towels I previously purchased for Liam! It comes with a washcloth set, too.

The Bambi Bamboo swaddles may be even better than my Aiden and Anais ones. Made of 70% bamboo and 30% cotton, they’re super light and breathable, therefore great on the go as nursing covers and blankets for the warmer months. I love the summery prints!

If you want to try out either one of these products, Bambi Bamboo is  generously giving Mama Naturelle readers 20% off their product line! Comment below for more info 🙂

Another fantastic organic bamboo brand is The Parent Diary. I actually discovered them a few months ago when I purchased their ChooseMyPlate silicone place mat which we love (especially at Grandma’s or when we go out to eat!)

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The Parent Diary had the super clever idea of creating a large, hooded towel that is hands-free for parents. You heard that right, no more wriggling away! You clip the towel around your neck and all you have to do is hug your little one and pick him up. The clip can be removed as your child grows, turning the towel into a large, hooded towel. It is much larger in size than most of his other towels I’ve seen on the market, so I expect to use it for many years as Liam grows with it. Like the Bambi Bamboo towel, it also came with a washcloth set.

Both are great options to replace your old, scratchy towels. To get rid of eczema triggers, you first need to know what they are… and that can be your child’s clothing, towel, bed sheets, etc.

Speaking of bed sheets, I’ve recently switched out my older organic cotton sheets for these two brands, Sweet Jojo Designs and Copper Pearl. Both are 100% woven cotton, making them durable, lightweight, and breathable. Check them out!

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We always use a humidifer during the winter months to prevent Liam’s room from getting too dry.The National Institutes of Health recommends the use of humidifiers to not only help relieve congestion from the common cold, flu, and sinus infections, but also alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes, eczema, itchy skin, dry nasal passages, cracked lips, and nose bleeds due to dry air, allergies, or asthma.

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We love the Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifer. Aside from its benefits for Liam’s skin, it is proven to help reduce mold and bacteria growth up to 99.96%. Sounds good to us!

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3 DIY Activities to Teach Your Toddler Colors

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We’re mid “color discovering” phase with Liam and it’s so much fun!

Considering that he’s learning his colors in both French and English, we’re trying to keep it as simple as possible to not confuse him. That’s a lot of different words!

For the most part, we’ve been asking Liam to point to the colors – when I play with him, I ask him the colors in French (“jaune, comme le soleil!” (“yellow like the sun!”), and when his dad does, he asks him in English (“red, like elmo!”)

It’s been working out great so far – ‘m so impressed with this little guy! He is able to say some of the primary colors in French and English, but not every time. We’ve still got a long way to go 🙂

To make the color-learning phase challenging and enjoyable for your toddler (and you too, of course!), here are some easy DIY activities you can put together in under 20 minutes. Fun times for all guaranteed!

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For this activity, all you need is construction paper, laminate/adhesive liner (I bought this large roll for $4.93 on Amazon!), a sharpiescissors, and tape.

Trace your hand on a piece of construction paper(color of choice) with a sharpie. Then,  holding a neat stack of 5 pieces of construction paper (we did red, yellow, blue, orange, and green) trace your handprint, then cut the shape out. Then, for extra protection, all you ned to do is stick each handprint on a piece of laminate paper, cover it with another piece, and cut the shape out. Voila!

I like to tape the hands to a wall in the living room and ask Liam to “high five” the requested colors. He loves it!

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This is a fun activity involving those magnetic letters that we all seem to have in storage from our toddler’s first birthday or Christmas! 😉

All you need is a tray, magnetic letters, and construction paper. 

Have your child match the magnetic letter colors to each piece of construction paper. As shown above, we stick with blue, red, yellow, green, orange, and purple (the colors that the magnetic letters usually come in!)

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This is another really fun activity that can be expanded on using more baskets and more colors!

All you need are three (or more) plastic baskets, construction paper or post-its (in red and blue, or  other colors of choice), and air-filled ball pit balls. You can also hand select toys in each color to keep things fun! This activity is super easy and should entertain your little one for, hmmm, let’s say 5 minutes 😉

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Please share! xo

5 Things Moms Should Stop Doing Right About Now

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Moms always mean well (duh!), but sometimes, even with the best intentions in the world, we end up enabling some bad habits…

Sound familiar?

Check out my new post on Westchester County Moms Blog!

What to Expect With the Terrible Twos

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Reason for meltdown: Mommy took the TV remote away (after the fifth warning to not slam it on the ground.)

Let’s be clear about one thing: we’ve only gotten a glimpse of what the terrible twos have in store for us. Liam started acting out around the 18 month mark and it caught us a little off guard at first… where was all this attitude coming from? How could someone so cute and small give us such a pounding migraine? If, like us, you’ve started noticing changes in your little one’s behavior, you’ll relate to this post. Silver lining? Our babies are growing up, developing personalities of their own. One thing is for sure: they sure know what they want!

Here’s what we’ve experienced so far with Liam:

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I always admire families who take their kids to the restaurant. I watch in amazement as their little ones sit quietly at the table, never once trying to yank all the cutlery off the table or reaching for the wine glasses. I mean… how? Liam, being the very energetic kid that he is, is always the center of attention when we dare take him to lunch or dinner. I constantly need to keep an eye on him, and the experience is, well, pretty darn stressful. Lately, Liam has been acting out at the supermarket if he can’t get, say, a balloon or a toy he sees in an aisle. He’s been louder than usual when he doesn’t get his way, and definitely much more assertive. And yes, we’ve been getting a lot of side eye from other shoppers. Tip? We usually ignore the tantrums (to some extent) or distract him – he eventually gives up on his own. If we give him the attention he craves, he only behaves more badly.

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When Liam isn’t in the mood to do something, there is no way around it. We’ve noticed this at Great Play, the baby gym we go to. If he has decided he wants to skip an activity, there is literally nothing we can do. At home, he will sometimes whine for hours… for no good reason. Fun times. 

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This is definitely new with Liam – he seems to have such a short fuse and refuses to wait for anything: waiting his turn at Great Play, for his food to cook… anything. I usually have to get down to his level and explain why we’re forced to wait – not sure if he understands, but it at least distracts him a little bit.

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There’s no rational reasoning with a toddler – if they’ve decided they’re unhappy about something, well, nothing you do will most likely change that. For younger toddlers, they understand most of what we tell them but obviously can’t reason like an older child. The best way to navigate these changes in our toddlers’ temperament is to distract them from the issue that’s bugging them.

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Mischievous is Liam’s middle name! He constantly pushes the boundaries with us, whether it’s pulling the dog’s tail, doing what we tell him not to do, not to touch,  or where not to go. This is part of learning boundaries and testing how serious we are about things. We try to be firm, and if he doesn’t listen, remove him from the situation. Moving to another room or activity always helps.

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Liam loves to be around people. He loves being the center of attention, making people laugh, playing games…  This was always a facet of his personality, but I’ve definitely seen him become even more comfortable around others, no matter how familiar they are to him. If a stranger gives him a smile or plays along with him, they become instant buddies! He yearns for a connection with others, and loves to watch older kids play.

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I’ve noticed Liam copying everything we do lately, whether it’s blowing our noses, reprimanding the dogs, or even singing a tune. He’s been mimicking the way we talk and the words we say, which is a fascinating change to witness. Our pediatrician made it clear that the biggest change we would see in the next few months would be language development and that is definitely true for Liam. He seems to be all about babbling away these days.

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Liam is learning to be his own person, without Mom and Dad. At Great Play, he goes off on his own to socialize with other kids and their parents. He doesn’t even glance in our direction! He seems to always want to discover new things and go on a new adventure, and most of the time, he wants to be given free rein and as much independence as possible. Bittersweet for us, but so amazing to watch him grow up.

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There is nothing Liam loves more than to be given a little job: put toys away with Mommy, participate in a house chore, go get something from the living room… it’s so fun to see him understanding our simple commands and how pleased he is when he does something well.

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As you can see, there are a lot of major changes that occur after the first birthday. Most of them take some getting used to (and we, parents, have to learn how to adjust!) but others are simply incredible to watch firsthand. Our babies aren’t babies anymore and they’re showing us in their own little way. Yes, the twos can be terrible… but if you try to overlook the little annoyances and see the bigger picture, our little ones are starting to discover who they are and what they like and don’t like. There’s so much to be proud of! Our little ones are becoming so smart, curious, and above all, these changes mean they’re are as healthy as can be. And that’s worth cheering for 🙂

 

6 Popular Snacks That You Should Stop Feeding Your Child

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All moms face the same struggle: finding the perfect, non-messy, healthy snack that can be packed on the go. The easier it is, the better. Unfortunately, though, food manufacturers and marketing teams know that very well. They focus their efforts on making their products enticing to moms, concealing the fact that their ingredients are absolutely awful for our kiddos. We should never assume that foods targeted at children won’t be packed with the bad stuff – In the processed world, it’s all about the money!

And since children are attracted to bright, colorful snacks… well, you know what that means. Healthy, unprocessed, natural foods are never neon-colored, Mamas, remember that… No matter what the label says!

Here are five popular snacks that you may be fooled into thinking aren’t so bad for your child. Think twice! They really are.

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It’s easy to read these cereal packages and choose to settle for “good source of whole grains” or “made with real fruit” instead of really looking at the ingredients in question.

The sad, scary truth is that popular cereal brands are 40 to 50% sugar by weight. If corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose (a manipulative trick to get you to think it’s a “healthier” option, when it’s actually just a new title for HFCS), or any other sugar in the top three ingredients, then move on.  Most sugary cereals made from refined grained are stripped of their fiber and nutrients and all you end up with is a blood sugar spike.

Alternative: Whole Foods has many options similar to these traditional cereal brands, only healthier and with less sugar. Add a banana, berries, and cinnamon for a healthier, filling breakfast!
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We assume that yogurt is good for our kiddos because, well, it has probiotics and dairy is good for their little bones, right?

Go-Gurt (among other brands) is literally sugar milk (sugar and corn starch are the second and third ingredients listed), and there are most likely no probiotics left in those little, plastic tubes.

Go-Gurt contains 2/3 of the daily recommended amount of sugar for children in just one tube. The thickener carrageenan, shown to cause intestinal problems in animals, and potassium sorbate, a preservative that may cause allergic reactions, nausea, diarrhea, and even DNA damage, are also used (mamavation.com).

Alternative: Aim for plain, organic yogurt (always buy organic dairy products to make sure it’s antibiotic and hormone free!) and add a spoonful of honey or maple syrup. You’ll be know exactly how much sugar you’re adding!

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These “fruit” gummies are nothing but sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and should be viewed as candy, not a healthy snack. Claims like “Made with real fruit” or “made with real fruit juice” don’t mean anything because of all the added sugar.

Remember: if sugar is in the top three ingredients, don’t buy it. And the longer the ingredient list is… the less healthy it most likely is!

Alternative: Dried fruit (apricots, plums, figs, mango…)

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A few issues with Goldfish that make it an absolute no no for the kiddos:

  • Enriched wheat flour seems harmless, but it means that many of the natural nutrients are stripped away in the processed flour and that things have to be added back in.
  • The iron added is a metallic form that our bodies just can’t absorb fully.
  • As for the folic acid, research now shows that the fortification of foods with folic acid is linked to cancer.
  • The cheddar cheese is not organic, meaning that the cows ate a diet of genetically modified grains and then produced milk for the cheese. Conventional dairy may also contain rbST, another Monsanto product, which causes many health problems. The cows are injected with this genetically engineered hormone (banned in Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia) to stimulate milk production.
  • Vegetable oils, unlike olive or coconut oils that are extracted from pressing, are made in a very unnatural way. They are heated to unsafe temperatures, oxidized, and treated with petroleum solvents. Then the oil is treated with chemicals to make the color and odor of the oil more pleasant. On top of that, they are also made from GMO crops like corn and soy (Mamavation.com).

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The issue with juice boxes is that they are essentially all sugar. The kids drink them out of thirst, get a sugar rush, and then crash.

All types of fruit juice are problematic, but apple juice is the most concerning because parents seem to think it’s healthier than orange, grape, or cherry juices, but they’re wrong. Even 100 percent apple juice can sack kids with 160 calories a cup, most of it sugar.

The claim that juices are “fortified with vitamin C and minerals” is only a way to manipulate parents – don’t buy into it. Children aren’t usually lacking in these nutrients.

Although we know soda should not be given to our kids, fruit juice seems to be one of those misconceptions when it actually is just as bad. Most popular brands are also made with high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors… so read labels carefully!

Alternative: Look for juice boxes that contain 100% organic fruit juice, with nothing artificial (and not from concentrate). Even better: make your own, fresh juices at home for extra vitamins and nutrients!

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These may seem like a healthy snack, but really they contain very little protein and fiber, and hit kids with so much sugar all at once that it’s just as dangerous as a candy bar.

Read ingredients lists to make sure the bars contain real nuts, fruit, whole grains, and no high-fructose corn syrup or other added sugars. The fewer ingredients listed the better!

Alternative: Make these delicious, homemade granola bars (with nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate) that I whipped up this summer. Delicious!