Let’s talk about preventing stillbirth

by Sandra Gordon on May 27, 2015

Boppy's Total Fit Pillow

Of the 4 million babies born each year in the U.S., almost 26,000 are lost due to stillbirth – babies who die in utero past the age of viability (after 24 weeks). In fact, stillbirth is 10 times more common than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. At your prenatal appointments, however, don’t expect your obstetrician or midwife to mention it.

“Stillbirth is the elephant in the room,” says Ruth C. Fretts, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and an ob/gyn at Harvard Vanguard Associates in Boston. “Everyone wants to prevent stillbirth, but no one wants to talk about it.” Why? “There hasn’t been enough data collected consistently about stillbirth,” Dr. Fretts says.

Fortunately, we should officially know more about stillbirth soon because nuMOM2b is going on right now. It’s a new study that’s collecting data from 10,000 women who are having their first baby. nuMOM2b will focus on problems during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, babies born much too early and very small, and stillbirth. Meanwhile, “Don’t wait for the results of nuMOM2b,” Dr. Fretts says. We already know plenty about stillbirth to be proactive.

To-do Tactics

Here are three things you can do today to help ensure a safe birth:

Get a kick outta your baby! Beginning in week 28, start paying attention to your baby’s kicks. Does your baby kick more in the afternoon? When you’re hungry? Make a mental note. “A healthy baby is an active baby,” Dr. Fretts says. Also, use a Kicks Count chart to log the amount of time it takes to count 10 kicks. Repeat the same process at the same time daily and take your chart with you to your doctor visits. If you notice that your baby isn’t kicking as much as usual at a point in the day when he/she is usually active, “See if drinking a cold, sweet drink, such as orange juice, wakes your baby up,” says Linda Gaglioti, CNM, director of midwifery at the Brooklyn Birthing Center, the only free-standing birthing center in New York City. If that doesn’t get your baby moving, call your doctor.

Bug your doctor for tests. Once you have your doctor on the phone, ask about a non-stress test, biophysical profile, ultrasound and contraction stress test. Each of these four tests can help your doctor determine what’s going on in there. “Reduced fetal movement is a symptom that has to be evaluated, just like chest pain,” Dr. Fretts says. Be persistent in requesting these tests, as in “I’d like an ultrasound just to make sure everything is okay.”

Be a side snoozer. Pregnant women are notoriously sleep challenged but doing what you can to sleep like a baby can pay off.  Studies show that those who sleep six hours or more each night are less likely to have prolonged labor. Sleeping on your left side as much as possible during the last trimester can also reduce the risk of stillbirth. Boppy offers the Custom Fit Total Body Pillow to help you get comfy in that position.

Pregnant and Empowered!

For more information about preventing stillbirth, visit Pregnantandempowered. It’s a new campaign First Candle and The Boppy Company are launching with support from Babies R Us to get the word out. It’s aimed at educating parents to be about prenatal health and wellness to reduce the risks of stillbirth.

FYI: This post isn’t sponsored. It’s based on my notes from the media symposium I attended in New York City that launched the Pregnant and Empowered campaign. But it may contain affiliate links to products I think are a good idea for moms to be on a budget.


Greentoe helps get you better baby gear deals

by Sandra Gordon on April 9, 2015

Green_Toe_Logo_BigOne of the best ways to get a good deal when you’re loading up on baby gear is to utter these five words: “Is this your best price?” 

Posing this question at baby boutiques can so be helpful because small businesses often have some say in their product pricing. With major retailers like Babies R Us, however, I couldn’t imagine asking for a better price, can you? Still, according to Joe Marrapodi, the co-founder of Greentoe.com, a website and mobile app that allows consumers to negotiate with online retailers, it’s possible. Even major retailers have play in their pricing if you’re negotiating in-store.

Pricing flexibility is thanks to Minimum Advertised Price (MAP). It’s an agreement between suppliers and retailers stipulating the lowest price a product can be advertised for, as in displayed or published. But if you go into a store, you can actually buy products below MAP just by asking for a better deal. In-store bargaining with the five magic words is an MAP work around.

Still, whose gonna do that? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m bashful bargainer. If you are too, Greentoe can make your life easier. The site and super fun app that does the bargaining for you. It’s a great place to try to get a good deal on a car seat, stroller, high chair and diaper bag.

The site and iPhone app allow you to name your price on these baby products online.

Gaming the Baby Gear System

Here’s how Greentoe works: Let’s say you’re in the market for a Stokke Classic Tripp Trapp High Chair. From the Greentoe app, you would press “Make an Offer.” Then, with the site’s gauge meter, you’ll move the needle with your finger until you’re at the price you want to offer for the high chair. The gauge meter gives you an idea of how realistic your offer is. It’s color coded as follows:

Green means the retailer is almost guaranteed to take your price.

Orange—the retailer might take your deal, depending on timing, their inventory and other factors.

Red basically means sorry–it’s not likely to happen.

The gauge meter is based on algorithms and price intel.

In general, Greentoe shoppers save an average of about 18 to 22 percent off retail, according to Marrapodi. But you can always try to do even better by submitting orange offers and see if you get a hit. I tested my Greentoe offers against prices on high chairs on Amazon and I found that I could beat Amazon’s prices by around 20 percent.

All Greentoe offers include taxes (if they apply in your state to online shopping) and shipping. To learn more and sign up, visit www.greentoe.com and get $20 off your first purchase.

Baby Deal

You can also earn 3 percent cash back (good through April 30, 2105) by typing saveabundle in the box at checkout. Happy haggling!

Want to learn more?

Baby products are just one of five categories of products available on Greentoe. To learn more  about Greentoe and saving money online, check out my Greentoe post on ShopSmart or go to Greentoe.com.


Don’t let medication mishaps happen to you.

The AAP urges parents, physicians and pharmacists to use only metric measurements on prescriptions, medication labels and dosing cups to help ensure kids receive the correct dose of medication. Medication should not be measured in teaspoons or tablespoons, especially not spoons taken from a kitchen drawer.

BPM: To give liquid medication to your baby, toddler or older child, the AAP wants you to use a medication syringe with measurements in milliliters (mL), such as this one

“Spoons come in many different sizes and are not precise enough to measure a child’s medication,” said pediatrician Ian Paul, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, “Metric Units and the Preferred Dosing of Orally Administered Liquid Medications,” in the April 2015 Pediatrics (published online March 30). “For infants and toddlers, a small error – especially if repeated for multiple doses – can quickly become toxic.”

Each year more than 70,000 children visit emergency departments as a result of unintentional medication overdoses. Sometimes a caregiver will misinterpret milliliters for teaspoons. Another common mistake is using the wrong kind of measuring device, resulting in a child receiving two or three times the recommended dose.

“One tablespoon generally equals three teaspoons. If a parent uses the wrong size spoon repeatedly, this could easily lead to toxic doses,” said Dr. Paul.

The back story on why it’s important that children get the right dose:

Research has demonstrated that common over-the-counter liquid medications for children often have metric dosing on the label, but include a measuring device marked in teaspoons, or vice versa, causing confusion among caregivers. One recent study demonstrated that medication errors are significantly less common among parents using only mL-based dosing rather than teaspoons or tablespoons.

Accuracy in dosing has long been a concern of the Academy’s. The AAP has previously testified before the Food and Drug Administration urging metric-only labeling and dosing. The updated 2015 policy statement recommends:

– Standard language should be adopted, including mL as the only appropriate abbreviation for milliliters. Liquid medications should be dosed to the nearest 0.1, 0.5, or 1 mL.
– How often a dose is needed should be clearly stated on the label. Common language like “daily” should be used rather than medical abbreviations like ‘qd’, which could be misinterpreted as ‘qid’ (which in the past has been a common way for doctors to describe dosing four times daily).
– Pediatricians should review mL-based doses with families when they are prescribed.
– Dosing devices should not have extra markings that can be confusing, and should not be significantly larger than the dose described on the label, to avoid two-fold dosing errors.
– Manufacturers should eliminate labeling, instructions and dosing devices that contain units other than metric units.

“We are calling for a simple, universally recognized standard that will influence how doctors write prescriptions, how pharmacists dispense liquid medications and dosing cups, and how manufacturers print labels on their products,” Dr. Paul said.

Check out this informative video on medication dosing from the AAP:


5 things to know before buying a car seat

by Sandra Gordon on March 27, 2015

Shopping for a car seat can make your head feel like your inside a pinball machine. There’s so much to choose from. Option overload is one of latest trends I mention in Top Trends in Child Car Seats, a piece I wrote recently for Edmunds.com. Check it out. It can help you sort through the seats and get the gist of what’s going on in the car-seat world. Meanwhile, I’ve also come up with these basic car-seat shopping guidelines to help you narrow the field.

Know that…

1. You should buy an infant car seat if possible. I know 3-in-one and 4-in-one car seats are a trend and they’re tempting. One and done! They save money too. Still, starting with an infant seat first is the safety gold standard. That’s because an infant car seat offers the snuggest fit for newborns. It’s more cocoon-like, which may offer more protection in a crash. In my Edmunds piece, I also talk about infant car seats with a load/stability leg, which is a new feature that can help narrow the field. Love load legs! That’s a definite feature to consider when you’re buying an infant car seat. If you buy an infant car seat, don’t set it on the counter or any elevated surface with your baby in it.

CloudQProductImage2. Some car seats are a cut above. All car seats sold in the U.S. must meet safety standard 213, which is designed to protect a child in the event of a head-on collision. That means that all U.S. car seats have this baseline of safety. Some seats go beyond the government’s safety standard and offer side-impact protection too. Side-impact seats aren’t the cheapest out there, but they’re worth the premium price, IMHO. Put these brands on your contender list:
3. The seat you choose should be relatively easy to use and install. If you’re torn between two or more contender car seats, NHTSA’s Ease of Use ratings can help you decide. Look for those with five stars for overall ease of use. And just know this list is by no means inclusive. There are lots of great easy-to-use seats out there that aren’t on this list.
4. You will be tempted to just choose a car seat based on looks. Car seat manufacturers know this. That’s why they make car seats with bold colors, such as orange with gray or chartreuse or they make car seats that are designed to blend in with a car’s interior (there are two basic style camps). Do you want to go bold or blend in? That’s a fun question—and not something you should base your car-seat buying decision on. Better style questions to ask: Does this seat fit my lifestyle? Does it fit the design of my car’s interior?
5. Whatever car seat you buy, there’s going to be an installation learning curve. Car seats, even the ones with 5 star NHSTA ratings, aren’t intuitive. So once you get your seat home, do you homework. Check out Safercar.gov for starters on installation how-tos.


Dr. Sasha Carr offers summer travel sleep tips

by Sandra Gordon on June 16, 2014

Babies need 10 to 18 hours of sleep each 24-hour day. That’s not so tough to accomplish when it’s could out and you’re cocooning at home anyway. But during the summer months, “it can be challenging to fit all that in while traveling or enjoying summer vacation activities,” says Sasha Carr, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and certified child and family sleep coach at Off to Dreamland. The upshot? If your baby doesn?t snooze, you loose. But Dr. Carr’s summer travel sleep tips can help you make sure your baby gets the sleep he needs and make your trips more fun.


headshotSummer Travel Sleep Tips

Stick to your baby’s regular schedule/routine as much as possible. Even though you’re out and about, protect your baby’s nap time. While naps on the run aren’t ideal because they’re not as restorative, they’re better than skipping the nap. Plan for your baby to nap in the car, on the plane, or in a comfy stroller. Babies and young toddlers often do best in a familiar travel crib. Dr. Carr recommends the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light. Before your trip, have your baby sleep in it at home to break it in. “It opens like an umbrella,” Dr. Carr says. Assembling it is almost a one-step process. For hotel rooms, even just going to Grandma’s house or for longish mommy’s group meet-ups, The Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light can help babies and toddlers get in a real nap. It’s only 11 pounds to lug around and much easier to set up/dissemble than a Pack ‘n Play.

Turn to the dark side. Little ones sleep best in a dark environment, especially in new, potentially stimulating locales. Temporary blackout shades like Redishades can make any hotel or guest room sleep-friendly, no matter what time zone you’re in. “They’re accordion black construction paper with adhesive on the end,” Dr. Carr says. You can cut them or overlap them to make them fit any window size. You can also use a black bed sheet with tools for hanging, like safety pins and non-marking painter’s tape or a few black trash bags taped directly to the windows. They work as well as the most deluxe curtains, Dr. Carr says. For portable stroller napping, check out the Snoozeshade. Dark and breathable at the same time, it creates a perfect cocoon for your little caterpillar when you?re on a roll.

Get everyone onboard with the plan. Before you set off on your summer adventure, make sure everyone agrees or at least is aware of your priorities regarding sleep. If you’ve decided to head back to the hotel for a midday rest at Disney so that your 10 month old can get a good nap in before a jam-packed afternoon and the evening fireworks, for example, explain to your 6 year-old why this plan equals more fun for everyone later in the day.

For more sleep tips, sign-up for Dr. Carr?s free monthly newsletter, and like Off to Dreamland on Facebook.


Post image for Retweet Today about Heatstroke

Retweet Today about Heatstroke

by Sandra Gordon on May 23, 2014

The National Weather Service has designated today, Friday, May 23, 2014, National Heat Awareness Day

Each year, nearly 40 children die from heatstroke after being left unattended in a hot vehicle, according to KidsAndCars.org. Child vehicular heatstroke is the leading non-traffic cause of vehicular death for children. The inside of a car can heat up quickly—to as high as 122 degrees F in less than 20 minutes on an especially hot day. Moreover, young children overheat faster than adults because they’re less able to regulate their body temperature.

Prevent Heatstroke from Happening

Child hot car deaths vehicular is an under-recognized and commonly misunderstand danger to child passenger safety.

Play it safe. Never leave your child in the car, even with the windows “cracked,” or even just for a few minutes. And keep in mind that a change in routine or a bad night’s sleep can lend themselves to the unthinkable—driving to work with your sleeping baby in the car and forgetting that it’s your day to drop her off at daycare. To help you remember that your baby is in the car, put a soft toy in the front seat. Or secure something you need, such as a purse or backpack, in the backseat near your baby. Also, get in the habit of checking to make sure that everyone has exited the car when you get to your destination and lock car doors when you leave so a curious toddler can’t climb in your car when you’re not looking. Keep your car keys out of your child’s reach.


Ray Ray’s Pledge (www.RayRaysPledge.com), KidsAndCars.org (www.kidsandcars.org), Safe Kids Worldwide (www.safekids.org), Jan Null (Certified Consulting Meteorologist, San Francisco State University; ggweather.com/heat), Child Care Aware of America (www.ChildCareAware.org), National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) (www.hmhb.org), Pediatric Safety (www.pediatricsafety.net), Britax (www.britax.com), and International Association for Child Safety (www.iafcs.com) will join forces today to commemorate National Heat Awareness Day. Today, this coalition of child safety advocates will post hourly child vehicular #heatstroke facts and prevention tips. The resultant heightened public awareness will hopefully lead to a reduction in these preventable tragedies.

Get involved in National Heat Awareness Day and child vehicular #heatstroke prevention by sharing this coalition’s #heatstroke facts and prevention tips throughout the day on your social media outlets, and asking your friends and family to do the same.


Advice for Saving Money from Second-Time Moms

by Sandra Gordon on May 16, 2014

What can first-time moms learn from second-time moms about saving money on baby gear? Here’s money-saving advice along that line from a satellite media tour video I did last June. I think the advice is still very much relevant. As a two-time mom myself, I can vouch for the more laid-back perspective on baby products that second-timers tend to have.

Second-time and multi-time moms: What did you do to save money on baby gear for baby #2 (#3 etc), compared to baby #1?



If you’re shopping for a crib mattress, you’re in luck. Colgate—the third generation, family-owned specialists of high-quality, handmade crib mattresses—just launched the industry’s first line of recycled and recyclable crib mattresses that provide the most natural microclimate for babies and toddlers.

The new line, Nuzzle Snuze, offers AirWeave technology, a spun matrix of totally synthetic fibers that allows air to flow freely through the unique matrix to produce the perfect microclimate for sleep and comfort. “When air circulates through a crib mattress, it keeps your baby warmer and cooler, depending on what your baby needs,” says Dennis Schuetz, director of marketing merchandising for Colgate Kids. The Nuzzle Snuze is wrapped in naturally fire resistant fabric that’s Greenguard certified so you can be assured that it doesn’t contain any toxic, off-gassing chemicals. The Nuzzle Snuze is 100 percent recyclable, too. (Yes, crib mattresses can be recycled.) We’re getting ahead of ourselves, but for a list of mattress recycling facilities in your state, visit the Mattress Recycling Council.

Snoozing in Style

With crib mattresses, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. You want to buy the firmest mattress you can afford because it offers the safest sleep surface for your baby. What’s may seem too hard for you isn’t too hard for your baby to sleep on. Think brick! Still, most parents judge a crib mattress by its boring white or beige cover, Schuetz says. Consequently, most crib shoppers don’t think the mattress is important and discount this purchase by spending hours selecting the crib, then whizzing through the crib mattress section and buying the cheapest crib mattress they can find.

That’s not necessarily a safe move. The Nuzzle Snuze is designed to change all that and get your attention. It comes in three gorgeous fabric patterns in muted, fashion-forward colors: Chickadee (gray and yellow abstract chicks), Squiggles (yellow abstract design) and Dottie Lottie (various colored dots). Chickadee, Squiggles and Dottie Lottie are the new white.

Babyproductsmom loves the Snuzzle Nuze for its innovative design. If “babyifying” the crib mattress is what it takes to get shoppers to notice and appreciate this important product, then so be it. “Nuzzle Nest is trying to do what’s best for baby, while appealing to the consumer—mom and dad,” Schuetz says.

It’s Giveway Time!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ll be giving away one free Nuzzle Snuze (MSRP $369). The Nuzzle Snuze is a smart splurge. Since I write a lot about how to buy the best for your baby less, however, I’d like to know your savings secrets: What did you do or what are you doing to save money when gearing up for your new baby? (I hope you don’t say “Buying the cheapest crib mattress I can find.”) Leave me a comment, and I’ll choose a winner at random to receive this awesome crib mattress!

This contest is open to residents of the US only and closes at 5PM ET, May 31, 2014. If your name is chosen, I’ll notify you by email; if you fail to respond within 48 hours of being notified, you’ll make another entrant very happy because I’ll be forced to choose another name.

Thank you, Colgate Kids, for graciously and generously providing me with my own Nuzzle Snuze to see for myself!


“Parenting Now” the PBS Newshour series

by Sandra Gordon on May 6, 2014

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m passing along this information about “Parenting Now,” PBS NewsHour’s week-long series that’s running this week (the week of May 5, 2014).  The series will examine the challenges, concerns and financial issues that modern parents face–and give us some insights into what we’re dealing with that we may not even realize. The series started on Monday, May 5th, with a report about parents trying to achieve the right balance at a time when traditional roles have changed.

The NewsHour’s series continues throughout this week, on-air and online, with planned broadcast segments exploring different facets of modern parenthood. All air-dates are subject to change based on news developments. Here’s a rundown of what’s on the viewing agenda, all of which sound so interesting:

  • Tuesday, May 6, 2014: Raising Girls – Gwen Ifill discusses the concerns associated with girls and marketing, gender stereotypes and learning leadership. (As the mom of two girls, I’m definitely tuning into this one.)
  • Wednesday, May 7, 2014: Raising Boys – Gwen Ifill focuses on challenges that are increasingly associated with boys, including the academic gap with girls, role models and more.
  • Thursday, May 8, 2014: The Affordability of Good Child Care – Economics Correspondent Paul Solman looks at the struggles that many mothers and fathers face in securing quality child care at an affordable price.
  • Friday, May 9, 2014: The Overprotected Kid – Judy Woodruff interviews journalist Hanna Rosin on her recent Atlantic Cover article on whether we’ve gone too far in our preoccupation with safety.

Online, at www.pbs.org/newshour, the NewsHour plans the following features:

  • A look at parenting around the world, including a list detailing the best and worst countries to be a mom.
  • Tips from “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” author Peggy Orenstein on how to navigate “princess culture.”
  • An article on closing the academic gap for boys – what can parents do?
  • A Q&A with director of “The Mask You Live In,” Jennifer Siebel Newsom, on raising boys to become men.
  • A Twitter chat with authors Jennifer Senior and Hanna Rosin.
  • An examination of when “time outs” and taking away iPods don’t work – is it time to reexamine how we punish
    Be sure to check your local listings for air dates.


Graco Car Seat Recall Issued–Will You Take Action?

by Sandra Gordon on February 13, 2014

cs-buckles-20140211As you may know, Graco has voluntarily recalled the harness buckle on 3.7 million of its toddler convertible car seats and harnessed booster seats–not the entire seat, just the harness on its seats manufactured between 2009 and July 2013.

The reason? Graco determined that over time, food and dried liquids can make harness buckles tough to open. The harness can get stuck in the latched position. Some 80 parents complained that the harness became so difficult to open, they had to use excessive force to push the button to unlatch the harness. Some had to pull their child through the still-buckled harness, or cut the harness straps to remove their child from the seat.

Not being able to unlatch a harness promptly is a safety hazard. In an accident, you need to be able to remove your child quickly from his/her car seat.

The following Graco seats are affected by the recall:

Toddler Convertibles: 
–The Cozy Cline
–The Comfort Sport
–The Classic Ride 50
–My Ride 65
–My Ride 70
–My Ride 65 with Safety Surround
–Size4Me 70
–My Size 70
–Head Wise 70
–Smart Seat

Harness booster seats:
–the Nautilus 3-in-1
–the Nautilus Elite
–The Argos

To-Do Tactics:

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which did not participate in this recall, the recall effectiveness rate is only 30% once a product is in consumer’s hands. That is, only 30% of eligible consumers take the recommended action when a product has been recalled. Don’t be among the 70% who don’t respond to a recall.

The solution for this recall is to replace the old safety harness with a new one supplied by Graco.

If you registered your Graco car seat through Gracobaby.com, which is always recommended, you don’t have to do anything. You’ll automatically receive a replacement harness in the mail for you to install.

If you haven’t registered your Graco car seat, you can place your harness order on www.gracobaby.com. Or, call 800-345-4109 or consumerservices@gracobaby.com.

Graco says it’s safe to continue to use your car seat while you’re waiting for a new harness. The recall doesn’t impact the performance of the seat or its effectiveness as a child restraint. As a stop gap, they recommend cleaning the buckle. For more information and how-tos on how to clean the buckle and replace it when the new buckle arrives, visit http://www.pages02.net/newellrubbermaid/harness-buckles.

Is your new Graco harness on its way to you? Be a recall responder. A simple phone call or e-mail to Graco can make it happen and keep your child safer.