Feed the Brain

Through my experiences as a therapist, a teacher, and a newborn care specialist, I’ve learned that a child’s environment plays a major role in a their brain development and behavior. Parents find themselves in a vicious cycle trying to correct their child’s behavior to no avail and they’re clueless about what’s actually causing the behavioral changes. Proactive parenting is far superior to reactive parenting. 

Consider the following…

Toys

The types of toys a child plays with have a major impact on their brain development and behavior. Technology and TV for example entertain the brain, meaning the brain is not having to work. There’s no problem solving, imagination, creativity, or thinking involved with technology or tv. Even “educational games” on an ipad have a negative effect on the brain because they limit possibilities to the software design. The brain; however, is limitless in its possibilities. Use of technology in children has been linked to aggression, sleep deprivation, violence, lack of empathy, detachment, and poor social skills. Ever notice agitation and tantrums more when you take away a tech device from your child? It’s not only because they lost the priviledge, they could be experiencing menal withdrawals.

Opt for open ended toys that inspire creativity, thinking, and imagination. Fat brain toys such as blocks, cars, dolls, play-doh, art supplies, magnetiles, role play items, and sensory play such as sand, water, or beads.

Food

Nutrition plays a major role in your child’s behavior. I always have to bite my tongue around my friends who complain about the terrible twos, having a “threenager,” or the frantic fours when often these are the same friends who fuel their children with sodas, gluten laden goodies, and sugary cereals. Sure, my kids will inevitably act up from time to time and I know I’ll have some disciplinary issues, but these things are far less in frequency as well as intensity when diet is considered. Major culprits to poor behavior include gluten, sugar, caffeine, low water intake, and dyes.

Opt for organic fruits, veggies, dairy, meats to avoid exposure to hormones and pesticides. Try not to allow your child to snack all day, but don’t allow them to go hungry. Schedule three solid meals of high protein, healthy fats, and high nutriton, but allow two smaller meals/snacks in betweek to keep sugar levels regulated. Avoid processed foods with artificial ingredients when you can and just say no to sugar and caffeine at all costs, especially if you’ve noticed a sensitivity.

Sleep

Adults need to take some responsibility for their child’s behavior when sleep deprivation could be the catalyst. If you allowed them to skip their nap, then it’s unfair to them for you to get angry when they throw a tantrum in the middle of Target. Were they up late because you wanted to finish your concersation on the phone before you started bedtime? Then, don’t get mad at them when they wake up cranky and start throwing food or spilling their juice. Children have crazy fast metabolisms, their mind is on constant overload and their body’s are growing rapidly. They need 10-12 hours of sleep a night depending on age and toddlers need naps (or at least downtime) in order to function optimally.

Envornmental Toxins

Numerous studies have shown a correlation between environmenal toxins and behavior. I recently saw that I can be found on google when you search “crunchy mom” or “granola mom” which totally cracks me up, because I’m far from crunchy, but I am green. I do not use toxic cleaners, detergents, soap or perfumes in my home. I refuse to eat nonorganic veggies, dairy, or meats. I wouldn’t accept a million dollars to vaccinate my children and I hold my breath, or sit in the car, when I’m pumping gas. Our environment is filled with carcinogens and neurotoxins that nnegatively affect our behavior. Top culprits include insecticides, pesticides, lead, paints, cleaners, mercury, formaldehyde and aluminum (found in vaccines), BPAs found in plastics, and parabens in lotions and soaps. These have been blamed for “silently eroding intelligence”

“Very few chemicals have been regulated as a result of developmental neurotoxicity,” Grandjean and Landrigan write. “The presumption that new chemicals and technologies are safe until proven otherwise is a fundamental problem.” As in their 2006 review, the authors reiterate their concern “that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognised toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviours, truncating future achievements, and damaging societies, perhaps most seriously in developing countries.” (LINK HERE)

Organic clothes by Finn & Emma

So, before you even attempt at correcting your child’s behavior, search for the source first! It would be unfair to punish the child for behavior beyond their control when their mind is greatly affected by the environment we’ve created for them.

Good luck and stay gold,

Chelsea Vail

How Crunchy Are You, Mom?

You’ve heard me describe myself as a “faux-hippie”, right? Looking at me, you may not think I’m hippie at all; however, I’m actually pretty crunchy, especially when it comes to babies. I think there are levels to crunchy though, which poses the question,

“How are crunchy are you?”

Hey,-1

crunchy (adj.)- Adjective. Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental or health reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc. (UrbanDictionary.com)

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know that I’m a toxin-Nazi and cautious about both my exposure, and the exposure of every baby and small child in the known universe. My store shopwholeheart.com only features organic and/or nontoxic items because I know that baby products are the runner up for the “Most Hazardous Award” next to household cleaners.

I know some people think I’m more of an extremist when it comes to avoiding toxins, but I encourage all moms and dads to choose products carefully and find a level of crunchy that works for you.

Cunchy Level 1:

  • Use disposable diapers, but choose organic, biodegradable options such as Honest Co.
  • Breastfeeds, bottle feeds, or uses formula…whatever works, right?
  • Buys their own baby food, but chooses organic companies
  • Airs out strollers, carseats and carriers to allow off-gassing to occur outside the home
  • Washes all clothing, blankets, and sheets in organic detergent prior to use
  • Buys organic dirty dozen, but otherwise eats and drinks whatever else they want

Crunchy Level 2:

  • Uses cloth diapers and organic wipes (uses a diaper delivery service or machine washes diapers), but uses ‘sposies as night or when traveling
  • Makes their own baby food with whatever is around the house
  • Breastfeeds when possibly, but uses formula on-the-go
  • Buys organic versions or baby gear, strollers, and carriers
  • Buys organic cotton clothing for the first few months and pre-washes things that are non-organic
  • Buys all organic produce, meats, and dairy
  • Uses BPA free bottles like the Mimijumi
  • Follows alternative vaccine schedule with pediatrician
  • Doesn’t use medications unless there’s a fever or diagnosis

Crunchy Level 3:

  • Uses cloth diapers, hand washes or hang dries diapers to save energy
  • Makes their own wipes solution and uses reusable rags/cloths for wipes
  • Only buys organic/nontoxic strollers, carriers, slings, etc.
  • Only buys organic/nontoxic clothing and still prewashes to cleanses products of toxin exposure during shipping
  • Breastfeeds exclusively for the first year
  • Wears a mask while pumping gas (recommended or preggo mamas)
  • Only shops at Trader Joes, Sprouts, or Whole Foods where all food must pass testing regarding toxins, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and mercury
  • Uses household items as toys for baby/toddler
  • Uses glass bottles like 5Phases
  • Wears baby everwhere using a babywearing shirt (Lalabu)
  • Makes their own household cleaners
  • Wears Belly Armor while pregnant and uses a Belly Blanket later
  • Follows alternative vaccine schedule with a naturepath doctor and takes baby regularly to an acupuncturist or chiropractor
  • Treats all ailments with essential oils

There’s no better or worse way to raise a baby, but the more you try to limit your baby’s exposure to toxins during the first few years of life, the better their overall healthy and happiness down the road. They have super-human metabolisms right now and are at a much higher risk when exposed to toxins because they can’t process them the way we can.

What do you do to reduce toxin exposure? How crunchy are you?