Go The F@#*&K To Sleep

Posted on 17th June 2011 in Uncategorized

I listened to the Samuel L. Jackson rendition of the new book Go The Fuck To Sleep, and it is funny.

And it is funny for a good reason.  Every parent who understands that sleep is important has had to fight with his or her kids to get them to sleep.  (If you have never had to fight with your kids to go to sleep, I want to hear your secrets!)

I do not buy the argument that kids know what is best for them.  If that were true, human parent/child relations would more closely resemble those of other animals who are cared for until they grow a little, and then run off on their own.

A recent study supports the urge of many parents to get their kids to bed early.  Science Daily reports that children who receive less sleep in the pre-school years are more likely to have ADHD symptoms and to be less developmentally advanced.  This makes sense to me.  If you let a kid stay up one night, they are a disaster the next day.  It follows that if you let a kid stay up late every night, their whole lives will turn into disasters.


If you know of good books about getting kids to sleep I would like to hear about them.  Post a comment on this blog or on my associated forum.

Early to Bed and Early to Rise Makes a Kid Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise.


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How Much Poison is in the Food Your Family Eats?

Posted on 16th June 2011 in Uncategorized

You Can Really Taste the Poison!


As you might be able to tell by this second in a row post on news from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), I am on their email list.


The EWG has just released their updated report called EWG’s 2011 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  If you think that eating poison that was manufactured by chemical companies (DOW, Bayer, Monsanto, DuPont) for the express purpose of killing bugs (think RAID), is perfectly OK for your family, then save your time and do not read on.  If you don’t trust large companies or the government when they tell you that eating THESE poisons is perfectly safe, then this report is for you.


What I really like about the EWG reports is that they tell you what is bad, but they also tell you what is good.  So you can choose cheaper non-organic vegetables that are not covered in poison, or which are pealed so that nothing bad gets through (think Avocados, Onions, and Sweet Corn).  And if you want Apples (the worst for pesticides), Strawberries, or Spinach you know you should choose organic if you can.


One key thing to remember is that any vegetable is better than no vegetable.  Non-organic Spinach is better for you and your kids than french fries.  Non-organic Apples are better than Gummy Bears.  So remember to keep things in perspective.


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Sunscreen Rules Get Overhauled in Meaningless Way After 33 Years

Posted on 14th June 2011 in Uncategorized

Trust Us. It's Safe!


The FDA announced that after leaping into action in 1978, it has come to a decision that sunscreen makers are saying things that are not true.  After exposing people to harm for 33 years, sunscreen makers are going to be forced to make some trivial labeling changes.  The New York Times breathlessly claims the sunscreen industry will be transformed.  In fact, sunscreen manufacturers will no longer be able to call their products “water proof” (it took 33 years to figure that out?).

The new regulations will also more clearly define the term “broad spectrum”, and limit the claim that it “prevents sunburn” to products that are SPF 15 or greater.  Big deal.  Nobody is going to read that pathetic fine print.  They are going to buy the big blue bottle that says KIDS.

Besides some of my other gripes about sunscreen, such as the toxic chemicals and that there is little or no proof that it prevents cancer, my biggest gripe is that manufacturers do not tell you how much to use (and of course the FDA doesn’t address this).  If you think you know the proper amount, you are wrong!

Here is what Wikipedia (sunscreen) has to say about how much sunscreen is used in the official tests vs. how much sunscreen you use:

The dose used in FDA sunscreen testing is 2 mg/cm² of exposed skin. Provided one assumes an “average” adult build of height 5 ft 4 in (163 cm) and weight 150 lb (68 kg) with a 32 in (82 cm) waist, that adult wearing a bathing suit covering the groin area should apply 29 g (approximately 1 oz) evenly to the uncovered body area. Considering only the face, this translates to about 1/4 to 1/3 of a teaspoon for the average adult face. Larger individuals should scale these quantities accordingly.

Contrary to the common advice that sunscreen should be reapplied every 2–3 hours, some research has shown that the best protection is achieved by application 15–30 minutes before exposure, followed by one reapplication 15–30 minutes after the sun exposure begins. Further reapplication is only necessary after activities such as swimming, sweating, or rubbing/wiping.

However, more recent research at the University of California, Riverside, indicates that sunscreen needs to be reapplied within 2 hours in order to remain effective. Not reapplying could even cause more cell damage than not using sunscreen at all, due to the release of extra free radicals from those sunscreen chemicals which were absorbed into the skin. Some studies have shown that people commonly apply only 1/2 to 1/4 of the amount recommended to achieve the rated sun protection factor (SPF), and in consequence the effective SPF should be downgraded to a square or 4th root of the advertised value.

That means you are supposed to use at least ¼ of an entire 4 oz bottle if you are going swimming.  Let me do that math for you.  To figure out the actual SPF of the sunscreen you are using, taking into consideration that you are using 1/4th the proper amount, you must take the 4th root of the stated SPF.  That means when the bottle says SPF 50, you are actually getting an SPF of 2.7 !  So unless you look like a clown covered in white makeup after you apply your sunscreen, you are getting 1/19th of the protection that you were hoping for.

I almost never use sunscreen on my kids.  On normal days, I let them get sun.  If they are going to be out for a while they wear hats with brims, long sleeved shirts, or the stretchy fabric shirts for the water.  And if that is not going to be enough protection, I apply one of the zinc or titanium oxide sun screens suggested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) – Skin Deep – Sunscreens 2011.  And the EWG also has an iPhone app for your drug store trips.

Maybe in 33 more years, in the year 2044, the FDA will recommend that you not smear poison on your children at all!  Of course your 8 year old will be 41 by then, and will have spent her life lathered in ineffective harmful chemicals.  Thanks for protecting chemical companies rather than our children American Government!


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Women Who Were Vaccinated Against Flu During Pregnancy Had Fewer Premature and Low Weight Babies

Posted on 9th June 2011 in Uncategorized

Mothers May Want to Get Stuck


Everyone knows that babies are supposed to be vaccinated (Did you get your Dip-Tet?  You’ve get to get your Dip-Tet!)


Now Science Daily reports that there is a Link Between Influenza Vaccination in Pregnancy and Reduced Risk of Premature Birth.  The article points out that the results don’t prove that the vaccine caused the the babies to be healthier.  But it is not hard to imagine how it might make babies healthier.  Although the flu is lumped together with the common cold, the fact is that the flu kills people and can make people very ill for one to two weeks.  This drain on the system could disrupt an otherwise normal pregnancy.


I have to admit am a huge fan of vaccines.  I understand people’s fear of possible side effects.  But I am not one to trust the mainstream beliefs, and have done as much research as possible on the subject.  I have come to the conclusion that if there is a risk to vaccines, it is outweighed 100-fold by the benefits.  Not vaccinating children is irresponsible.  And this study may indicate that flu vaccination in pregnancy is an important tool in increasing the odds of having a healthier baby.


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Kick the Kids Out of the House

Posted on 7th June 2011 in Uncategorized
Outside All Day

Outside All Day


Playing outside has never been a less popular option for children.

Children are kept inside out of fear of crime more and more even though all forms of crime are at their lowest levels since the 1950s.  This is because like their children, parents watch too much TV, and in particular, too much TV news.  TV news, which makes money by scaring you into watching, turns one crime in the entire country into a first person experience for tens of millions of people, even though they might live 2000 miles from where the crime took place.  A crime that happened two time zones away seems like it happened on your street, so you lock your children in the house and put them in front of the TV.

Children are kept inside because there is a pathological fear of the sun that Dracula would find extreme.  Never mind that people spent their entire lives in the sun for 2 million years.  And never mind that the most dangerous forms of skin cancer have nothing to do with sun exposure.  And never mind that Vitamin D and sun exposure is turning out to be very important for many bodily functions including the immune system and mental health.

And it seems that in addition to making children fat, physically weak, and unable to concentrate, keeping children indoors also seems to weaken their eyes.  According to an article in LifeHacker, Spending More Time Outdoors May Help Prevent Nearsightedness. Exposure to bright sunlight regulates the growth of the eye itself, and by doing so, helps prevent the type of eye growth that causes myopia, also known as nearsightedness.

The pattern here is obvious.  The human body is built for activity, and specifically outdoor activity.  Cavemen, and pre-historic children did not sit indoors in school for 6 hours per day, and then spend another 4.5 hours per day (the national average for children) motionless in front of the TV.  They moved around outside.  So our bodies are made to do the same.

If you do not encourage your children to run and play outside in the sun, they will be less healthy and less happy.


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Best Birth Control Ever

Posted on 6th June 2011 in Uncategorized

All Work and No Play ....


(This post goes out to Andy W. – an endangered species and the last real bachelor I know.)

There are thousands of parenting blogs out there.  And thousands of them have the same general theme, which is they basically outline the day’s activities.  There is a lot of first person prose about trips to the grocery store with the kids.  Or bath time gone bad.  Or a blurry outline of running in circles all day and ending up in the same place, only to start again the next day.

The reason for this is that such seemingly trivial activities make up about 100% of the average parent’s day.

So why do we do it?  Why subject ourselves to such abuse?  Why get into the parenting business at all?

New York Magazine published a story last year that will definitely not answer those questions.  As a matter of fact, it might just pour salt on the wound.

All Joy and No Fun does a great job of describing the world of parenting.  It does not pull any punches or glamorize the experience.  And it uses experts and scientific studies to examine the whole thing.  A couple of the best quotes from the article are these:

Talking about kids:

They’re a huge source of joy, but they turn every other source of joy to shit.

Talking about a UCLA study:

This clip is from a study conducted by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families, which earned a front-page story in the Sunday Times this May and generated plenty of discussion among parents. In it, researchers collected 1,540 hours of footage of 32 middle-class, dual-earner families with at least two children, all of them going about their regular business in their Los Angeles homes. The intention of this study was in no way to make the case that parents were unhappy. But one of the postdoctoral fellows who worked on it, himself a father of two, nevertheless described the video data to the Times as “the very purest form of birth control ever devised. Ever.”

I thought the article was right on the money.  Enjoy?


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Boys Need to Move – Part 1

Posted on 3rd June 2011 in Uncategorized
Run and Kick

Kids Need to Move

People evolved in a world where survival meant movement.  Our ancestors had to search for food, hunt animals, and farm the land without any manufactured equipment or even animals until recently.  If you sat in one place for 12 hours per day, week after week, you would die.

Estimates are that prehistoric people moved 5 to 15 miles per day hunting, gathering, chasing, escaping, exploring, playing and moving to more fertile grounds as the seasons changed.

Today people sit.  Every year there are more excuses for physical inactivity.  People sit at work.  They sit for entertainment or out of exhaustion in front of the TV or computer or video games. They sit going to and from work.  In other words people are not using their bodies in the ways they were meant to be used.  This is killing us and making us chronically stressed and depressed.

For children the situation is even worse.  Kids need to move more than adults do.  Their bodies and minds drive them to movement so that they will grow and develop property, both physically and mentally.  When allowed to, children run for fun! They just run and run.  Anyone who has watched a group of kids on a playground knows that this is true.

Unfortunately, kids today are not allowed to run or move.  The average child is allowed to watch between 4 and 5 hours of TV and “screen time” per day (screen time includes sitting at a computer and playing video games).  On top of that, PE classes are being cut or eliminated.  And many parents, out of fear for their safety, no longer allow children to go outside unsupervised.

And what is the result?  Fat kids.  Unhappy kids.  And kids who are increasingly being diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorders.  They are being held still against their will, and then they are being drugged when they try to move, or lose the ability to focus.

That is the problem.  Next time I will address some of the solutions.


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Kids Like Broccoli

Posted on 2nd June 2011 in Uncategorized


Eating Everything

Eating Everything


If you say “My kids won’t eat that”, then they surely will not eat it.  Every person is programmed to be able to eat the same foods as every other person on earth.  There are minor differences, like food allergies or intolerances (though some of these may be caused by limiting a child’s diet early on).  But if a child doesn’t like some food that other children eat, then the problem is the way the child is being fed.


At first, children are very skeptical of any new food.  This has a strong evolutionary purpose.  Children who will eat large quantities of any new plant or food are likely to poison themselves early on.  When a child tastes a new food, it is very common for the child to make a face and immediately spit the food out.  This is part of the learning process.  If that food was a leaf from poisson oak or poison ivy or hemlock, the child would have a negative reaction and would learn to never eat that again, but would not have consumed enough to kill him.


But if the food is broccoli, there will be no negative reaction.  The second time broccoli is introduced, the child might chew it a bit or actually eat some.  The following time the broccoli will probably be eaten normally.


When parents mistakenly think that a child who spits out a new food is programmed to dislike that food for life, the food will never be offered again, and the child will “not eat that food”.  This is becuase of the parents’ approach, not because the child is actually programmed to dislike the food.


So, the key to getting your child to eat a varied diet is to introduce many new foods to the child, one taste at a time.  Do not consider initial rejection to be a sign of lifelong dislike.  Consider initial rejection to be the first step in getting the child to trust a new and mysterious food.


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TV and Screen Time are Bad for Kids

Posted on 1st June 2011 in Uncategorized
Couch Potato Kids

In Training For A Bad Life

Brain science demonstrates that the brain becomes what the brain does. If we train the brain to require constant stimulation and constant flickering lights, changes in sound and camera angle, or immediate feedback, such as video games can provide, then when the child lands in the classroom where the teacher doesn’t have a million-dollar-per-episode budget, it may be hard to get children to sustain their attention.

– Douglas Gentile, ISU associate professor of psychology

That quote says it all.  The brain becomes what the brain does.  The way I have said it in the past is that the human body and brain are always in training, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.  If you run 10 miles per day, you are training to be a runner.  If your child reads and plays with toys and friends all day, she is training to be smart and fit and adaptable.  If your child watches TV 4 or 6 hours per day, she is training to sit and stare and be sedentary and anti-social.  Look at your child now.  What is she doing?  That is what she is getting good at.

ISU study finds TV viewing, video game play contribute to kids’ attention problems

Psychologists at Iowa State University have found:

that children who exceeded the two hours per day of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to be above average in attention problems.

“There isn’t an exact number of hours when screen time contributes to attention problems, but the AAP recommendation of no more than two hours a day provides a good reference point,” said Edward Swing, an Iowa State psychology doctoral candidate and lead researcher in the study. “Most children are way above that. In our sample, children’s total average time with television and video games is 4.26 hours per day, which is actually low compared to the national average.”

What do those numbers mean?  Children who watch more than 2 hours of TV or “screen time”, which includes movies and video games, are twice as likely to have attention problems.  So if a child has attention problems, and watches more than 2 hours of TV or Video Games per day, there is a 50% chance that those problems are caused by the TV.

The lesson here is clear.  Cut back on your child’s sitting and staring time per day.  And if your child is showing signs of attention problems in school, cut the cord.


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Children Need Sleep

Posted on 28th May 2011 in Uncategorized

I am a huge proponent of children getting as much sleep as they need.  I really believe that many problems with children go back to sleep, diet, and activity (or lack of TV).

For parents with brand new babies, Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp is the greatest resource since the binky or swaddling blanket.  Get the DVD because new parents are too tired to read or think, but they can sit and stare.

Another good book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth.  Most parents think they don’t need to do anything to help their babies sleep, but can’t figure out why they are not sleeping through the night after 1 or 2 years!  There are techniques and totally logical approaches to getting your child to sleep like a champ, which of course allows you to sleep like a champ.

As an example, using these techniques we were able to get our son and daughter to sleep at least 6 hours straight by the time they were about 8 to 10 weeks old.  It is not an accident or luck.

And if you need another reason besides your own sanity to get your child to sleep through the night, here is a study, reported in Science Daily, that links lack of early childhood sleep to obesity:

Children who sleep less are more likely to be overweight, study finds

The results show that young children who sleep less are at a significantly increased risk of having a higher BMI by age 7, even after controlling for other risk factors that have been implicated in body weight regulation.

Each additional hour of sleep per night at age 3 to 5 years was associated with a reduction in BMI of 0.49 and a 61% reduction in the risk of being overweight or obese at age 7.

In a child of average height, this corresponds to a difference of 0.7kg body weight. While this might seem minor at an individual level, the benefits for public health, if applied at the population level, are considerable, say the authors.

Start you kids on good sleep habits early.  Don not leave it to chance.  Your family will be happier and healthier for life!


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