Q&A: wood toys and constipation

"Wood toys and constipation" is the subject Anna gave her question to me, so I left it. Unfortunately, it turns out to be two separate issues, not one (I don’t know why, but the idea that wood toys might cause constipation was just too funny to me). Anyway, here are her questions:

"My daughter is 6.5 months and we think getting some teeth.  All of a sudden crabbier, droolier (didn’t think that was possible) and clingier.  When she was 3 months she went 10 days without pooping and that is happening again.  Her poop came out fine then, just a lot of it.  Now its been 8 days and I did the manual check the pediatrician recommended and she wasn’t backed up with any compacted poop as far as I could tell. She’s also starting to crawl and when she wakes up at night all she wants to do is scoot around on her belly; she’s even started to crawl up to me on her belly to feed, sort of like a self-serve gas station.

Any recommendations?  Did I forget to mention that the previous week we’d been feeding her the dreaded rice cereal that I just (10 minutes ago) finished reading about that would give her constipation?

She seems miserable…unless we’re outside on a walk and she’s pulling leaves off of trees and sticking them in her mouth…

oh, the wood toys thing- should we get rid of all the plastic seeing as they keep coming out with recalls? All of our toys are hand-me-downs, at least 2 years old."

I love it when people send me questions like this, specifically, because they answer their own question! Yes, Anna, I’m going to bet on the rice cereal being a big cause of the pooping changes. (Remember the treatment for diarrhea and upset stomach is the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, toast. So those are known "binders," as my grandma would say.) But it also sounds like it really isn’t constipation, since when it comes out it’s fine.

Her body’s just going through a lot of changes. There’s a growth spurt at 6 months (3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months). She’s eating the (blechy) rice cereal (seriously, have you tasted it?). She’s scooting and learning to crawl. Plus all the teething stuff, which has a very direct effect on poop because it can put a ton of drool into her stomach (it usually causes shards of drool in the poop, or loose stool, and often causes a really acidic poop that you can smell and which may leave red rash around the anus to match the rash around the mouth).

So pretty much everything you mentioned is why her poop has changed, but the rice cereal isn’t helping, for sure.

Now, about the toys: I’ve gotten at least a dozen emails about this recall stuff, but I have no idea what to do about the toys. Someone asked, "Do I have to start buying only German wood toys?" It would be nice if you can afford it, but I think the realities of our world economy are starting to come back to bite us in the ass right about now.

Here’s where I’m probably going to offend people. If you’re not prepared for some self-righteous navel-gazing, turn away now. 

It’s making me think way more seriously about the choices I make when I shop. And how maybe my kids really don’t need another vehicle. Even if it’s nice and cheap and I can afford it, because it’s made in some country that has no environmental or labor regulations. I don’t want to promote a system anymore that has Americans squeezing factories so hard that workers in those countries are abused and they’re pumping clouds of pollution into the air that can be seen by satellite. And then when something goes wrong, instead of examining the practices of the American countries and the foreign factories they contract with, people just sit back and let the foreign government force the head of the factory to kill himself. (Because they took so much international heat for actually doing the execution themselves a few months ago when it was the toothpaste recall.)

Maybe I could trust in the safety of our products if I wasn’t participating in a house of cards that forces the factories to operate on such a crazy tight margin that there’s no way for the head of the factory to assure safety early in the process.

I just don’t want everything to cost 99 cents anymore at the cost of my kids’ health.

So I have no idea when the next time they’ll be getting a new toy is. I have no idea what to do with the toys they have now, whether new or hand-me-downs. I have no idea what’s going to happen for the winter gift-giving holidays. And I have no idea how I’m going to deal with everyone else who gives them gifts.

I just don’t know. If anyone’s looking for a business idea, you could start a research company that figures out which toys are safe and not destroying the economy or the lives of the people who make the toys. You could charge for access to the database, and we’d all pay it, because how else can we know?

(A reader wrote that she’d asked Melissa & Doug [the toy manufacturer that makes the famous Cutting Vegetables set] about their safety testing process and got a nice, if somewhat vague, response from them. I emailed to check it out and have not gotten a response from them after 10 days.)

Maybe the title of this post really isn’t that funny. The toy safety isn’t making me feel constipated, but it is making me feel kind of sick.

Late for work, no time to edit, please add comments even if it’s just to tell me I’m a navel-gazing middle-class twit.

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