Q&A: Managing your reaction to danger

"True Christmas confessions" over at my personal blog today. Feel free to submit your own, and branch out to Hanukkah or any other holiday that's on your mind right now.

Kristie writes:

"I think I need a reality check. My daughter is a year old, and I just found out that my parents wanted to buy her a walker* for Christmas. I put an end to that plan, but am now living in fear of what other things people might give my child. All the talk about lead paint and contamination, small pieces that are choking hazards, etc.

I realize that I can't protect her from everything, but I'm starting to get freaked out about everything that could go wrong. Intellectually I know I should just relax, but I'm not sure I can. That scares me, because it makes me feel out of control and almost crazy. Can the readers help?"

* This is the old-school thing that a kid sits in and the feet touch the ground, and it has wheels, so the kid theoretically learns to walk while assisted by the contraption. They've pretty much been proven not to help anyone learn to walk, and to be death traps if a kid wheels to the stairs and then falls over in the walker.

I think the first step is to cut yourself some slack for worrying. As a parent, it's really your job to worry. Evolutionarily speaking, if parents didn't worry, we wouldn't have survived as a species, and a monkey would be typing this column and having a running joke about Trained Human Assistants to replace pacifiers in the middle of the night. (Ah, opposable thumb jokes–Are they ever not funny?) If worrying wasn't hard-wired into us, dingos would have stolen our babies long ago.

So worrying is your job, and it sounds like you're doing a good one! Now, the trick is to make sure it's not getting out of control.

People can give you all sorts of advice and basically blame you for getting into a worry/anxiety cycle, but I think a lot of out-of-control worrying is caused by something being biologically a little off with our bodies. especially at this time of year, it's super-easy to get out of balance. I have a couple of suggestions that should be easy to implement to give you a better body balance so you might be able to assess the dangers more realistically:

1. Stop eating so much sugar. Sugar. corn syrup, et al. really screw with your system by causing glucose/insulin reactions. All that stuff messes with your hormones and causes mood changes and anxiety cycles. It also depresses your immune system pretty seriously, making you vulnerable to illness. If you can keep it at a decent level and only have one Christmas cookie instead of five, you might find you feel better in general.

2. Take some magnesium. Lack of magnesium is a big culprit in anxiety. You can pop some magnesium supplements, but it's actually absorbed better through the skin (the tops and bottoms of the feet are particularly good places) so if you can find magnesium oil and rub it on your feet every night before bed you might notice a big change in anxiety levels. (I order my magnesium oil from Joan at www.health-and-wisdom.com and have had great experiences. Joan's also a font of knowledge about minerals.)

3. B complex vitamins. Excellent for mood. You can buy a bottle of the sublingual drops at any pharmacy or Target for a couple bucks. (They taste like gross orange drink, but do the trick.) If I'm feeling down I can feel my mood lift within 10 minutes of taking some B complex drops. Taking a regular daily dose helps keep me on an even keel.

4. Sleep. Easier said than done, but if you're staying up just because, force yourself to go to bed earlier and you may see a big difference in mood.

5. Hang out with other people who are more realistic about worrying. If you hang out with people who are freaked out about every little thing, it'll rub off on you. So see if you can cultivate some friendships with people who are concerned about safety but not consumed with it. There are lots of us out there.

You notice I haven't said anything about the actual dangers. That's because there are so many of them. You just take each one as it comes and try to strike the right balance between protecting your child and allowing him or her to learn by doing.

Readers, whaddaya got for Kristie?

58 thoughts on “Q&A: Managing your reaction to danger”

  1. @Moxie “* This is the old-school thing that a kid sits in and the feet touch the ground, and it has wheels, so the kid theoretically learns to walk while assisted by the contraption. They’ve pretty much been proven not to help anyone learn to walk, and to be death traps if a kid wheels to the stairs and then falls over in the walker.”Just to give you some perspective on this (because we really weren’t total idiots way back when), afaik nobody bought these to train their children to walk. They bought them because, like swings, or mobiles or whatnot, they were something that made baby really, really happy while they were cruising around in them. Mine had very clear warnings about stairs, and, as at the time I had a baby who benefitted from the walker we lived in a dismal basement apartment – not much danger of falling down the stairs there, there wasn’t any risk, either. My older child got mobile at a ridiculously early age and we lived in an attic apartment – no walker there!
    The risks and the worries continue, of course. The anxiety you feel when your child is out driving is baaaad. The anxiety you feel when your child is out driving, and you have already been through her sliding off a road into a tree? Real baaaaad. The big downside of being a mom, that terrible vulnerablity. No answers.

  2. Do not feel bad about refereeing toys people give to your baby! I have politely asked my in-laws and parents not to give my kids certain types of toys, and they agreed. And if someone gives them something I don’t think is safe, it gets discarded. I mean, if it merely annoys me but is safe, I do keep it (I’m looking at you, LeapFrog singing alphabet bus.) But if it could actually hurt my child (like the puppets with the loosely attached choking-hazard eyes baby’s great grandmother gave him), it gets put in the suitcase immediately and thrown out when we get home. I do it quietly, usually, but I feel no guilt.

  3. Two things from my perspective:1. I agree with Clare, don’t feel bad about refereeing the toys that come into your home. I’ve even discarded books that had messages that I don’t want my daughter to pick up on! You are responsible for your kid’s safety & well-being so if you don’t feel that something is A-OK, get rid of it.
    2. to Moxie’s list I would add exercise and fresh air. Might be tricky if it’s winter in your neck of the woods, but it’s so worth the effort. Shovelling snow might seem tedious but, especially if you can do it in the sunshine, it will lighten your mood and help keep stress under control. Even a walk around the block can help.

  4. Yeeaah, nothing here except a whole lot of the same. My big beef is people buying toys for the Foo that are 2-3+ years too old for her. First of all, there’s a reason the age recommendation is on the box in large print. Second, what the hell is she supposed to do with that besides hurt herself?!Also, I have had a huge problem with letting anyone else drive with her besides DH & myself. Extreme anxiety to the point of panicking at the mere thought.
    I try to step back, take a looong breath and force myself to get a little perspective on the reality and practicality of the concerns. I think the balance is in realizing that while sooo many things *could* happen, the likelihood is that they probably won’t (small consolation, I know!) and all the while accepting and even embracing that you are, undeniably, a concerned parent and will be for the rest of your life. I have to remind myself that it’s not all “first-time mom panic” and the majority of my concerns are well-founded based on my knowledge as a parent, the reasearch I’ve done on whatever matter it is, or just my gut instinct. It’s how I feel and it should be respected. Period.
    Taking ownership of the worry, no matter how hokey that may sound, makes me feel better. Hey, I’m a parent now. This is my baby and I’m concerned for her safety. If you acknowledge my concern about the rolling deathtrap made with toxic chemicals and tiny removable choking hazards that was actually meant for a 6 year old and not a 1 year old you call a christmas present and respect my wishes that she not have that particular toy for these reasons then maybe I won’t be such a freak in your face about it. K? Thanks.
    *I’d love to try some more natural remedies as Moxie suggested… anyone know if its okay to take Vitamin B supplements while breastfeeding?

  5. There is some evidence that sleep deprivation makes people react disproportionately emotionally. I tapped another car parking and wept for the rest of the day, when my kid wasn’t sleeping. Get some sleep=get a grip! ha!

  6. What? No recommendation for flax seed oil and/or fish oil?!? Moxie, I’m disappointed!(I’m kidding, of course. Your recommendations are spot-on.) But even though they never seem to do much for me, I do seem to remember that omega 3’s are a key component of the Moxie All-Around Wellness Program.
    Definitely seconding the last recommendation, though, to hang out *in person* with people who are less freaked out about safety than you. The “in person” part is important because you get a double bonus: first, your perspective on issues of safety gets re-calibrated, and second, you get some nice adult interaction to boot. I always feel better about my kid and my parenting after I’ve spent some time with my sister, who — among other things — used bottles with BPA (before we knew about BPA) and whose boys are just fine now, thank you very much.
    And for heaven’s sake, stay off the internet! Not to discount all the very important safety advice that gets communicated here (like, for instance, info about BPA!) but it can be a bit of an anxiety-compounding echo-chamber. I find that if I’m getting freaked out about every last little thing in my parenting, getting off the internet for a few days works wonders.

  7. I haven’t needed to throw away any dangerous toys or sketchy books, but I do have a shelf in my home office for toys that are not age appropriate. When someone gives my son or daughter a toy that would be dangerous for them now, but would probably be fine in a year or two, I put it on the shelf to bring out at a later date.

  8. I completely understand these concerns, and I love Moxie’s recommendations for all around wellness. Gift-wise, I try to be proactive. So many well-meaning relatives/friends ask what my little guy might like, so last Christmas, I sent around a very nice e-mail with gift suggestions that linked to Cool Mom Picks safer toy guide. I also made a list at Oompa.com. Not requests, mind you, just suggestions for things he might like that also happened to be age-appropriate, wooden, safer stuff. I also have no problem donating inappropriate toys (vinyl, made in china, cheap plastic, etc) to Goodwill or taking them to the consignment store.

  9. Wow Mo, that really cracked me up.Yes I agree with what you said, and it really does only apply to women I think. I mean, if worrying about children and child-raising were left to men (well, men like MY hubby anyway), the human race would have died out long ago (I regularly say this in front of my husband BTW, so if he happens to read this post, I don’t think he will be too offended)
    I have found though, that worry tends to diminish with subsequent children. I was obsessively worried (I mean clinically)about even the most unlikely events (eg.cranes falling on child’s head), along with fears within the normal range (allergies, choking hazards), but have noticed the the crazy fears have not surfaced with my second child ( thanks to cognitive therapy), and the normal fears are more contained. I mean, things still worry me, but maybe since my worst fears have not eventuated, I am a little more relaxed and a little less anxious.

  10. My mom always said that she thinks it’s much healthier for a child to break an arm than to be terrified of breaking an arm, and I try to remember that with my son. He has several toys that are for kids age 3 and older–I just make sure to inspect them periodically (usually as I’m cleaning them up at night) to make sure there are no loose eyes or other small parts. That said, we live in a very small house, and I have no problem telling relatives “thank you so much for the gift, but we didn’t have room so we donated it to other children who aren’t as blessed as we are.” Not that anyone’s every asked–there are some advantages to living across the country!FWIW, I had the kid (8 months) in a walker when I went to visit my parents last summer. It kept him from opening and slamming drawers, and he loved it. It was on the ground floor, and I was always with him, and honestly, there was no reason to worry at all.

  11. I bet my answer will be a bit different but…With my first child, I was anxious during the pregnancy. I followed every recommendation and then some – no peanuts, no soft cheeses, no elevated temperature, no deli meats, carefully selected small portions of fish, and on and on and on.
    Then, due to problems with delivery, she died 4 days after birth.
    This has made me a bit freaky on the one hand. I know children die first-hand and I know how precious breathing is (choking has become my number-one fear now that we’re past the SIDS years).
    BUT
    What I was glad about? That I had danced. I danced a lot during pregnancy (I don’t know… hormones) and I had played a lot of music and some old biddies had actually commented that a pregnant woman did not belong in clubs or on the dance floor. But, now I’m so glad I had that shared experience with Emily (because I know she could hear; she used to thrash around to certain noises and songs). Thank god I did not worry about my back, her hearing, whether it was not a good environment (no smoking allowed but there was pot in the bathrooms occasionally, etc.)
    So… look, parenting is about protection, yes. But it is also about living, living, living.
    You will not catch everything. 99.999999% of the time the consequences will be very minor. But in the extremely, extremely unlikely chance that the very worst thing happens and the Very Few times you slip up meet the Extremely Unusual Circumstances that life delivers, and something unthinkable happens – just remember you want your child to have experienced all the good stuff in life. Family, friends, fun.
    It’s perfectly natural and normal, as Moxie said, to worry. But seek out and enjoy the good stuff.
    Exersaucers are walkers without the wheels, so go for that. 🙂

  12. I agree that the Internet can drive the worrywart in me crazy! One thing that helps me is to realize that a lot of the toy hazards and recall dangers (with exception of the chemical nasties) can be avoided with proper supervision. The “walkers” are dangerous because they can fall down stairs (not if they’re supervised) and can develop problems with gait (too much time in the walker).I too have no problem stashing or donating or trashing inappropriate toys. I accept them with gratitude and offer no criticism or explanation. Then gripe about “what were they thinking!” to my girlfriends who understand.
    I have gone through major bouts of danger, danger everywhere and eventually I have come to the realization that there are common (common sense) dangers and uncommon freak accidents. The uncommon things happen and when they do they are tragic make headlines. If “it” happens to your child you probably devote the rest of your life to making sure “it” never happens to another child. But sometimes that is where we end up on the crazy side.
    My thought is that we do our best to protect our kids from the obvious common sense dangers and use our intuition to tell if other dangers are real or hyped up. However, as Moxie said if your body is out of whack, so to speak, everything can seem like an immediate danger.

  13. Shandra, I think your comment was so wonderful. I was a big worrier throughout pregnancy and for more months than I care to think of after too.Moxie, this post shows you at your best. You are so right for showing how minor changes to diet and sleep can make the whole world look a lot different. I did not eat enough when breastfeeding (mostly through worrying about nothing!) and got quite depressed. taking B vitamins with calcium and magnesium is very good for mood. If you do nothing else….
    For the PP about B vitamins and breastfeeding…my mum took brewer’s yeast in orange juice when breastfeeding my brother (3rd child) and managed to feed him for a year as opposed to the 3-5months with me and my sis. I know not everyone likes brewer’s yeast due to the yeast but if you check with someone first about B supplements I’m sure it will be fine. They are great for energy and mood. So basically, yes to everything you said Moxie! i just know that this post will help so many people.

  14. I am generally a ball of anxiety (even before kids) and I’ve had to learn to “talk myself down” so to speak. It helps me to write down all the things I’m worrying about or fearing for my kids, then it’s out of me and on the paper and I can sleep at night.For the toy thing, I put up the things that are inappropriate age-wise (someone gave us a Mr. Potatohead set when DS1 was born) and it finally came out about 6 months ago. Anything that’s just plain dangerous we get rid of. My mom and MIL are fairly good about asking what the boys need/want, but think some of the requests are weird (we asked for a child-sized broom and dust pan for our youngest’s last birthday- he loves to sweep!). We try to keep plastics to a minimum, not because I think it’s evil but because I’m tired of picking up little plastic things that my kids don’t really play with beyond dumping them all over the floor.

  15. To be honest, don’t feel bad for referreeing (sp?) at her age and you are lucky because you can do it in a way that won’t offend anyone, plus she won’t notice. (go ahead and toss/donate what is not acceptable after the giver leaves and at this age she won’t ask you for it- win/win!) But it does get harder as the child gets older and what do you do then? My daughter is 5 and I am dreading whatever horrible thing she’s going to get from my father and his wife (best case scenario is Barbie – worst is something I can’t even contemplate). So what do you do when the child is older and your objections aren’t so much danger as moral/philosophical? Any suggestions?

  16. “Walkers” or their modern day equivalents – exersaucers, stationary, floor based jumperoos and the like are great for the age from about 4 months to 9-12 months – mobile but not yet walking so that you can park the baby somewhere fun and do something nearby (like the dishes or make dinner). They’re too big to put in the bumbo chair because they pitch themselves out of it but for one reason or another, you can’t have them underfoot.I suspect that the walker is not going to be age appropriate for the asker’s little one. Hopefully, the grandparents approached it in a way that was “My son loved his walker and I still think these are the neatest things – Can I get one for baby Jane for Christmas?” and not some gleeful power-usurping, I’m in charge of the world kind of way. That’s a whole nother problem.
    I think it’s helpful to have a list ready for when people ask what the baby’d like. When my older daughter turned 1, the guideline was “Things that will get her a free ride to an ivy league school.” Books, music, puzzles, etc, all fell into that category.
    This year when people ask for the baby’s list (just turned one) I generally give out guides like “She likes dogs, books, books about dogs, babies, stuffed animals, things that jingle when you shake them, walking around, touching things.”
    Having age-inappropriate toys around is sort of par for the course at this point (El is 5 years younger than La, 14 years younger than the Monkey). Since about 6 months, El thought that Hotwheels (many left over from the Monkey) are good eating. You just have to kind of keep an eye on things. Or make sure everything else is picked up or in the older kids’ rooms (but El and La share a room!).

  17. That one year point is a great one for worrying about mobility. It felt to me like there was a cliff and we were about to jump off it. I found myself really anxious about “what it was going to be like when she was moving around”. I had no idea if my little girl was going to be a daredevil or a calmly mobile person and if she was going to seriously maim herself right off the starting block. Everyone said “oh god, here it goes, your life will never be the same” and that freaked me out and caused me more anxiety. Did anyone else find that? Whenever everybody roundly warns you that something will be terrible, it generally just causes anxiety and no positive outcome at all.My perspective: totally makes sense to nix toys if you don’t want/like them. My little one has received tons of books which I just don’t *like* to read to her (and she didn’t warm up to them immediately and she has TONS of others). So I just don’t read them and I don’t feel guilty.
    But at the same time, know that it will get better once you start to see what your little one is truly capable of in terms of mobility. I have only found good to come out of it (aside from the normal age-related stuff like she only wants to be walking, no more stroller, etc.). Do what you can to set up your house so you can be less anxious about the changes to come.

  18. I was never, ever a worrier. I thought my mother was a freak for making me call her when I got “there.” And now……I worry all the time. I worry that something will happen to Muppet and that my world will crash down around me and I will shrivel up and die from a broken heart. I worry that we’ll get in a car accident, or that he’ll die in his sleep or that he’ll have an allergic reaction to something (even though he’s not allergic to anything yet) or etc. etc. etc. And the older (and cuter) he gets, the more I worry. At first the worry was purely maternal, but now it’s more, I don’t know. I’d actually miss him now. When he was a newborn I loved him and all, but not like I do now. I love love him. I like love him. I can’t imagine this world without his presence. I can’t imagine what my life would be without him. And so I worry.
    I find it helpful to do all the wonderful things suggested by all the pps. We go outside, I take my fish oil, Magnesium oil is now on my list of things to buy asap. But what helps me most is reminding myself that it is my job to worry and that these worries that pop into my head are like an exercise to keep me on my toes. Whenever a worry pops into my head, I play the “is it real?” game. It’s like worry training…I have to be able to distinguish a real threat vs a non-threat at any moment.
    And I also remind myself that we’re lucky. We’re lucky that we have this wonderful child (who almost wasn’t) and that if anything ever did happen, I need to be able to look back at our time and know that it was filled with fun and love and happiness. We were always close to losing Muppet while I was pregnant with him and I decided that as his mother it was my job to make sure that his time on earth was good, so I stayed very positive and took on this “borrowed time” philosophy and I’ve tried to transfer that to his out-of-womb life. So god forbid something happen, my only comfort, as I sit heavily-medicated and super-crazy looking out the window from my padded cell, is that I focused more on making life good than on worrying what if.

  19. @wealhtheow said: “My mom always said that she thinks it’s much healthier for a child to break an arm than to be terrified of breaking an arm, and I try to remember that with my son.” WOW!! That is certainly one to live by!@Shandra – I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for your story.
    Timely post, as usual. This morning we took our 13-month-old son to the doc for an x-ray & exam to determine whether or not his nose is broken. As many who meet him say, he is “all boy” (though just like me as a baby girl). The huge, Frankenbaby-looking purple & green bruise across the bridge of his nose, and 2 black eyes are the freakishly random result of a fall he took while WALKING on the kitchen floor. Not running. Walking. WTF?
    Short of putting him in a bubble for life, there is nothing we can do to prevent awful things like that from happening. So I suppose my choice is I can either worry endlessly, lose sleep, be annoying to be around because I’m so anxious, harm my own health long-term, OR NOT, but regardless of my mental state, these things will still happen, or they won’t. Such is life – a crapshoot at best.

  20. I second violingirl’s suggestion to write it out – be really honest about exactly WHY you’re afraid. So often we feel like we can only express the fear (the symptom) but aren’t allow to say why (the cause). Writing it out is a safe way to really parse through what’s really going on and if maybe the fear issues are more tied to the who than the what, as is my case with my in-laws (meaning I have fear issues with their judgement sometimes, and not necessarily a problem with what they do or buy).And I’m laughing about a newborn getting a Mr. Potatohead… It would take every fiber of my strength to not put the glasses on the newborn for a photo op, but I’m “That Mom”.
    Regarding gifts for older kids that are inappropriate – that reminds me of the time I got a lingerie-type nightgown (complete with mesh cutouts in the top) from my grandparents for confirmation at age 13. I still shudder at the thought. The way my parents handled it was for my dad to talk to his parents about how it might not be appropriate for me at that age, but he handled it as a separate issue rather than “so here’s the gift back”. My mom took the nightgown (and wore it for years) and we went shopping for another gift, mostly because my parents felt so bad that I was obviously way weirded out about it. I guess that’s an example of “the things you worry about don’t happen, it’s the things you never thought to worry about that always catch you”.

  21. @nej – I love what you wrote, especially “if anything ever did happen, I need to be able to look back at our time and know that it was filled with fun and love and happiness. “That’s just it. Thank you for framing worry that way, and putting it in its place. Worry can be helpful when it’s real and leads to effective, rational, appropriate responses. But when worry takes away too much of the fun…no thanks.

  22. I’ve actually thought a lot about this lately, because I live and work in an area of San Diego not far from where a fighter jet fell from the sky last Monday, killing a mother, her two young babies and her mother. I blogged about my feelings at the time. I truly can’t imagine how I’d feel in that father’s place, but I know it would be an intense sort of devastation. It made me want to hold my daughter closer than ever, and I spent a few nights worrying about incredibly unlikely things (e.g., someone breaking into our house, killing me and Hubby, and Pumpkin left crying in her crib with no one to come pick her up and take care of her).I told Hubby about my worries, and he laughed and told me I should worry about more likely things, like us both losing our jobs, being foreclosed on, and living on the street. I don’t worry so much about those sort of things, though, because I can see how to respond to things like losing a job, etc, to avoid the worst case scenario. I think the less likely things freak us out so much because we can’t see how to protect ourselves from things like that.
    Anyway, as I blogged about- by far the most likely thing is that Pumpkin will grow up just fine, and the only tragedy will be that I didn’t take enough time to enjoy her while she was little. So I do hold her tighter, and try to laugh with her more, because even if nothing worse than growing up happens, these days are precious.

  23. As far as supplements go, Vit D (if living in a northern climate) and L-Theanine (helps with anxiety) are other considerations.And regarding the anxiety – I’m not sure if this is true for everyone, but I find my mom anxiety dropping off as time goes by (my kiddo will turn 2 next week). I really do think a lot of the early anxiety is related to sleep deprivation and hormonal changes – our systems really need time to recalibrate. I haven’t read all of the comments yet, so apologize if repeating, but I think another source of early anxiety for me was the felt need to get it all “right,” whatever that meant. Somehow I got the idea in my head that if I didn’t make all of the best choices, that I would irrevocably screw up my kid. And that’s just plain not true. Of course I’m not letting him chew on mercury thermometers or play in the street, and I try to keep myself relatively informed about safety risks (but I’ve found that there IS such a thing as too much information). All that is to say that my thoughts played into my anxiety big time. And some of those thoughts came directly from me, but I think some were prompted by sociocultural supermom expectations too.
    I heard a speaker, Ed Hallowell, talking about anxiety last year. The essence of what he said was that there is anxiety and then there is ANXIETY, and it’s important to know the difference. Some anxiety = good/motivating. Too much anxiety = inhibiting. So getting a read on whether your anxiety is “normal” or out of control, as you say, is good. I personally define out of control as it’s taking away from my ability to BE with my child (in the am I present? sense).
    As for gifts, I’ve talked with family about toy safety, and figure that I would screen the rest of what B receives as gifts. As a PP noted, we have yet to get anything that is truly unsafe, but annoying? Hello, Tickle Me Elmo TMX! Why are you presenting yourself as a gift to my newborn? Elmo hibernated to the far reaches of a cabinet, where B recently discovered it. Why did partner have to put batteries in it? Why?

  24. @wealtheow, your mom is very wise. I’ve tried really hard to control my own worrying about Mouse, because I was raised by an overwhelmingly anxious mom, who’s something of a narcissist to boot, and I know how damaging the worry and atmosphere of fear can be if it gets out of control. I tend to get scared about sickness, and boy, there is no earthly way you can keep a preschooler from getting sick, and you could really drive your whole community bonkers trying (and mess up their immune system in the process, etc.). I absolutely don’t want to make Mouse own my fears the way my mom did with me (she’d get very angry and hurt if other people weren’t as worried as she was) so I act as calm as I can with Mouse…but it’s key for me to tell somebody. Admit to somebody that I’m freaking out and I know it’s not rational and I just need to put it in the air. A hug from a calmer person (yay Mr. C), a massage, a good yoga session all help.I think it also helps to recognize where the risk operates, and what control points you have: a walker coming into your house is not a risk yet; a walker anywhere near stairs is a risk. You can control it by not allowing it in or by placing it only on the lowest floor with no stairs. A shiny new lead paint toy in your house hurts no one. A shiny lead paint toy in your child’s hand hurts no one. In the mouth, problem! Old worn one, problem again! I guess what I’m trying to say is, there actually is a lot of space for you to control risk–and you should, for genuine dangers like choking and falls and lead paint–even once something comes in your door. It’s not like once the package arrives, you’re screwed and your child is hurt. You have more power than it may feel like at the moment. Hope that helps!

  25. My second Moxie novel in as many days…Shandra–I’m so sorry for your loss. In sharing your story you have helped me and, I think, many others here. Thank you.
    Sandra, I also felt better over time. My son (now 21 months) is more sure on his feet, and he’s out of that stage where EVERYTHING GOES IN THE MOUTH. At the same time, his improved mobility and coordination make it hard to keep him completely out of trouble, and that helps me learn what really merits concern. And over time generally, we gain more experiences of things working out okay when they aren’t under total control (and learn that many accidents/problems are difficult to predict or prevent).
    My approach to toys:
    1) I vet everything and get rid of obviously sketchy (some yard sale stuff from my MIL), dangerous, or crappy stuff, with no compunction. We haven’t yet received something that would have been missed by the giver. If it were, I would give out a white lie or even the truth, depending on the person: “I’m sorry, he kept on doing something dangerous with it/messed up the book/the noise was driving me crazy.” Many children have a surfeit of toys, though, many of which never excite much interest, so ya gotta purge at some point, anyway.
    2) Some things get supervised or delayed. Like wealtheow, I’ll allow but supervise condition and/or use of 3+ toys that interest my son. (Some I put away until he gets older.) Once you exit the mouthy stage, a lot of “older toys” are fairly safe. I’d take a similar approach with the walker; if the child liked it, I’d use it in a room without stairs. We had an exersaucer for my son and it was invaluable for times I needed to pee or take a shower.
    3) The lead/BPA/contamination thing: I used to work in this area, so I’m sensitive to these issues. I have eaten organic for a long time because of it. But, honestly, the exposure you would see from any one toy/item is pretty minimal unless it was a constantly chewed on companion. We get exposed to all kinds of of chemicals daily: household cleaners, Glade plug-ins, microwave popcorn, etc. To me the higher concern is something like this with a very constant exposure. With lead in toys, it’s not like exposed lead paint in a house, producing that fine dust that gets everywhere and is so easy to ingest. If you get rid of old/decrepit toys and keep a closer eye on the ones that go in the mouth a lot, you’re probably fine.
    (This article takes a similar POV about weighing risks and is interesting; although it may also make you worry, because it talks about risks from balloons, marbles, etc. http://lapublichealth.org/lead/reports/Toys_lead_LATimes.pdf)
    In an example of changing mores, my uncle, who grew up in the 40s, used lead (just a piece of the metal, which is very soft) as a kind of chewing gum as a kid. He is totally normal (at least for that family, heh), got a graduate degree and did computer engineering for a long time, proof that people are resilient creatures!
    4) We know some things are really big deals because you look at the data and they’re causing most child injuries/fatalities. I have no shame about being as careful as I want about these: car seats, pools, items in young babies’ cribs, etc.
    5) Definitely take all that online talk with a grain of salt. Do take refuge in relaxed friends, and don’t be afraid to ask your pediatrician about your concerns, in order to get a less overheated perspective.
    It’s always a balancing game, but it’s so wearing to worry all the time (I know because I still worry about a lot of things!). I hope that some combination of ideas in this post and comments will help you reach a place you’re comfortable with.

  26. @Shandra-I, too, am very sorry for your profound loss and really appreciate your poignant advice.@Cloud-I live in San Diego, also, and was so horrified about the deaths of the mom, her daughters and mother. Hard not to think (read: obsess) on that and the devastation the father and other family members are feeling now. I lost some sleep worrying about unlikely events, too.
    Thank you for the timely post. We shelve “grown-up” toys, too, and they will come out as birthday or Christmas gifts at a later date (score!).
    FWIW, my son really enjoyed his walker (we kept it downstairs). I think it helped him feel bigger because he didn’t have to be down on the ground crawling. He could stand and move around a little and get a little closer to our height (if we squatted, we were eye to eye!). I mostly kept it on rugs, for safety. My husband let him zing all over the pergo, though.

  27. I’m going to chime in on just one component of your worries: lead. As the parent of a lead-poisoned child, my advice is DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE DAMN TOYS! At least in terms of lead… I’ve dealt with a lot of professionals in this area, and they all say that lead-contaminated toys are essentially a red herring. Unless the toy is actually MADE of lead and your child swallows it, he or she just isn’t going to get lead poisoning from a toy. Everyone goes bananas over the Thomas the Train and Elmo recalls, but the real problem is dust from lead paint and, occasionally, lead in the soil. So, worry about lead if your house/school/daycare was built before about 1980, or if your soil might be contaminated, but please, try to relax about the toys.

  28. The kind of walker Moxie mentioned is illegal here in Canada — technically you can’t even sell them at yard sales. I was shocked when I saw a bunch advertised on craigslist, but what the advertisers meant by “walker” was a little cart that the already-walking toddler can push. Is it possible that that’s what your parents meant?

  29. I suffered (suffer) from anxiety post birth and found cognitive behaviour therapy to be brilliant. It has helped not only the anxiety but also just my general thought process is much more positive and less prone to ‘catastrophic’ thoughts. I worked through it with a psychologist.Part of it is journaling your thoughts and here are some headings from the paperwork I was given:
    Describe the triggering event (what actually happened) to help you identify your thoughts; beliefs and key thoughts (what went through your mind), what are you thinking about yourself and the future, what are you thinking about others (rate this degree of belief 0 to 100); feelings – what are your main feelings and emotions? (rate degree of feeling); alternatives to negative thoughts – what would you say to a friend, what alternatives might there be, what is te evidence against this view, how could you see this another way (if you were not depressed, anxious…); degree of feeling change after working through the process (write down any degree of change in your feelings 0-100).
    Sorry that seems a bit muddled – I tried to seperate each heading with a semi colon (I avoided most punctuation and spelling mistakes were intentional). You might need to write it out for it to make sense.
    So the idea is to journal your thoughts – even trivial seeming one and then try and identify patterns of thinking. By rating the intensity of your thoughts you can identify which thought process work for you – which thoughts help you stop or work though the distorted processes.
    Some types of cognitive distortions (which if you can identify can help your main ‘trap’) are ‘selective thinking – only looking at the dark side of things or negative aspects of a situation’, ‘overgeneralisation – you come to conclusions that go way beyond the situation’, ‘mind reading – you believe you know what other people are thinking’, ‘catastrophising – you predict nagativity into the future’, ’emotional reasoning – feeling is believing, you think something must be true because you ‘feel’ it so strongly’, ‘labeling and mislabeling – you fix a global label on yourself and others “you’re hopeless” “i’m a loser”‘.
    I hope that is useful. I found anxiety to be debilitating but this helped me apply some logic and reason to my thinking.

  30. Y’all are wise wise women. I could only skim over the replies, but you captured everything I’d have said and a lot more.I haven’t had a loss after 8 weeks gestation, so my experience is nowhere near as profound as Shandra’s. Still, I absorbed the same lesson in two ways – 1) talking to my mom about my brother dying when he was 3, which set the level of ‘you know, you live because you’re alive, if you refuse to live while you’re alive, that’s a problem’ and 2) dealing with chronic anxiety problems with my kids – one of the things they teach parents with kids suffering from anxiety (books and child psychologists both) is that it isn’t about protection and prevention, it is about skills development so they can LIVE their lives, and not be limited by the anxiety in radical ways.
    Now, I do have ideas for implementing part two, there, because I’ve had to do them.
    1) Anxiety is imagination that is taking too narrow a track – only toward negatives. We practiced with the kids picturing not just negative outcomes of risk-potential situations, but ANY outcomes. Stretch that imagination, train it to see the entire possible (and impossible, and improbable) range, and it is much harder to cycle on anxiety. For example, after we’d been playing ‘what if’ (what if that DID happen? give as many answers as you can invent) for a couple years, I was in the car with Mr G, and a kid on a bike cut across in front of a car across the intersection from us. Mr G saw it, and immediately snapped to ‘That kid almost DIED!’ but then he said, ‘Though, the car stopped in time. So this time he was okay. Another time, he might just have been bumped a little, or maybe he might have broken an arm or leg. Or maybe he might have seen the car coming sooner and sped up and got ahead even if the car didn’t stop, or maybe another car might have blown its horn to warn the driver. It’s possible the kid might have died, or been hurt really badly, or been hurt just a little, or not hurt at all, even. It was still stupid.’ – he got that safety is about a range of possibilities, not just the worst-case. That was a huge success, since I taught him to catastrophize like a champ – ‘If you run into the street you’ll get hit by a car and DIE’ and ‘If you keep jumping on that, you’ll fall down and hit your head’ and ‘if you spin around in the living room, you’ll fall, hit your head, and have to go to the hospital for STITCHES’ (and then that last one happened, like 2 minutes after I’d said it, and after that he believed every catastrophic statement I made… um, oops?).
    2) Following on the above, watch for the worst-case scenario statements. If everything in life is a crisis waiting to happen, life isn’t much fun.
    3) Have an action plan for things that seem reasonably possible or obviously likely. Falls and chokings are really common issues – so address those, take an Infant/Child CPR class, install a lower handrail for your stair-climber to hold, put window guards up, general safety/childproofing. Choking used to be my major freak-out item, and then I took an infant/child CPR class, and a week later, Miss M choked on food – not just coughing, but the totally silent full airway block. I didn’t even get stressed – I just picked her up and unblocked her airway. Then she proceeded to grab the food I’d ejected, shove it back in before I could let go of her to grab for it, and choked again. Repeat, only this time I got the food before she could try it a third time. Sheesh, kid. Anyway, I had an action plan, and so I stopped being frantic over that worry. The action plan had a lot of range – if ANYTHING in this range happens, I know four or five different things to do to help based on usual scenarios. Not a 100% safety net, but a good one.
    4) Have an action plan item that is just ‘I will take some action in situations where I don’t know what to do, even if that is just calling 911 or calling my mom/bff/neighbor to ASK what to do’. Like, I never planned ahead for one of my kids to lock themselves in the bathroom, certainly not when they were able to open the toilet (learned how 24 hours before) and before we’d reinstalled the toilet locks from the previous child… No laid-out plan for that. But 911 works. They showed up in less than 60 seconds (seriously, it was FAST), broke into the bathroom, and rescued Mr B, who was now quite distressed over being locked in. We fixed THAT bathroom door lock real fast, and got toilet lid locks. Point being, sometimes the action plan is CALL FOR HELP! But that’s enough for a huge number of situations you’d never know to expect.
    5) Look for skills-building opportunities. Practicing your action plan builds confidence. That’s why the CPR class was a full day long. Practice, practice, practice. I didn’t even have to think about how to do it, my body knew what it would feel like, and I just did it. If practicing feels weird, assess whether your worry is the real worry, or if there’s a WHY under there (as noted above) that may or may not be relevant. For example, I’m paranoid about swimming/drowning – Why? I nearly drowned as a child. Scares me to death. AND, my kids all love water but suck at swimming (failed swimming lessons, seriously). So, yeah, real issue there, too. I have to separate the urk-reaction (my personal WHY) from the strategic-planning reaction (the strategy is to set up a semi-private swim class just for my kids or all the local grandkids). Meanwhile, I always prepare to swim with them if they’re going in, and we limit how many go in at once, compared to total adults available, and coach them on water safety rules, etc. We still allow them to go to swim parties, though. The knot in my gut is my own responsibility, not theirs.
    I also agree that one worries about the things that haven’t happened, and for which you have no personal perspective, or only vague guidelines or news-centered alarms. The book Protecting The Gift covers a lot of that, including strategic thinking.
    I also say to parents with their first child/children that the worst thing that happens to you is the worst thing that ever happened to you – how can you possibly level-set your experience without something with which to compare directly? So, yeah, the guys at work laughed and called me a mean mommy when they found out Miss M went back to school the day after she had the gash in her scalp stapled at the ER. It’s JUST staples, and she had no head injury (brain-wise) that anyone could see (seriously the opposite, I swear my kids keep getting smarter when they bump their heads, though I know that’s observation bias because I’m all-of-a-sudden paying CLOSE attention to how their brains are working) – so, sure, back to school, especially since she wanted to go. If she’d been iffy about it, I’d have been fine with that, but she pitched a fit that I didn’t take her back RIGHT after the ER visit, so… okay. But one of the guys’ son had the same injury, and was out of school for 5 days, being cradled in his family’s loving presence after the traumatic event. Maybe he responded to it differently, or maybe it was just the worst thing that had happened to them, so they reacted more strongly. I’ve had to drive a child to the ER when I thought they were dying and might not make it there in time, so… eh, staples, fine. Don’t do it again, please, but no panic or worry. I’m not buying a padded helmet for her, and I know it was a freak accident and not a typical scenario that needs to be addressed in a more structured way.
    Anyway, thems my thoughts. And can I say I’m glad all the commenters are more comfortable with long, detailed comments, because it really draws out the depth of experience and wisdom of all of y’all. The short posts are harder to extract the detail from, IMHO.

  31. Great comments.With my second I’ve gotten increasingly worried and (dare I say it?) irrational. I am talking about staying up at night imagining horrible scenarios and making myself feel sick. At what point does this become pathological? I am an otherwise healthy person (with very little sleep, however) and no other symptoms of PPD. This seems to be the community to ask about this.

  32. Moxie’s info about sugar really is right on. The stuff truly does mess with our system. I think we need to switch our thinking so that we see sugar as a luxury, not a necessity.Also, viruses and bacteria feed off of sugar, so it can make them breed faster once their in your system.
    My own case study: The other day I was at the park and started thinking about kidnapping of all things. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m 7 months pregnant (all those crazy hormones and all). It got so bad, and I was suspiciously eyeballing every person we passed, resisting forcing my daughter to hold my hand, that I finally just had to pack up and go home.
    That also happened to be the day that I tried to make popcorn balls for the neighbors. The wouldn’t form into balls, and I ended up eating half a batch of sweet popcorn that morning.

  33. I have found that my anxiety level has increased as my children have gotten older. When I was pregnant and when they were infants I found that I was fairly confident in my ability to manage my environment and theirs. However as they’ve gotten older and more independent and as there are more things outside of my control, I have become more anxious. Although I have ADD (which previously has been untreated), I have successfully negotiated graduate school, lots of international work and travel and a career. However, my two young children have really tested my ability to work around some of my other challenges. Recently I realized that I was starting to make decisions about potentially important things for the kids and felt that some of my decision making was being driven by my increasing anxiety. I sought treatment for the ADD, which resolved the anxiety pretty quickly and feel that I’m much more able to manage and enjoy life with my wonderful family than I was a few months ago.

  34. If someone got you a gift that did not meat your approval, you have two chooses, wait until a few days after XMAS, and call them up or go see them and tell them, offer to give it back so they can return it or ask where they got it so you can return/swap it out for something else. If you never have to see the people, I think I would sell it or return it.If you have decided you don’t want your child to do something in particular, thats your decision. You are the parent. I also never used a walker or bouncer. I felt any question about how useful they are merited not having them. I know loads of mom that have and love them. I never missed them (I did love our excersaucer though!). Your the mom, trust your instincts and don’t let others bully you into doing something you are not comfortable doing.

  35. @andisays: Vitamin B6 can deplete your breastmilk supply. I had trouble getting my supply established, and it may have been because I was taking a lot of B6. I’m not sure how much of it you have to take for that to happen, at this point, but you could call La Leche League to find out more. Pretty much, I stopped taking any B-vitamins beyond my prenatal, but I remember thinking that, if I needed it, I might try a B-50 or maybe B-100, but nothing more.If you think B-vitamins will help you, I’d say try them, and if you notice a dip in your supply, you’ll know why and what to do if you want to keep your supply up more than you want to use the vitamins.

  36. @Amanda, that sounds a little bit over the line to me, having been through some rough periods with panic attacks myself. First of all, sending you a big, warm, steady hug!! Is there somewhere you can turn to get help? Can you call your OB or pediatrician? Cognitive-behavioral therapy is what several folks have mentioned, and I believe the medications have also improved recently. Meanwhile, here are some home-care things I found helped me through the worst:-cut out caffeine (it’s hard but the substance really really doesn’t help–it mimics the sensations of anxiety and can start an attack just from that)
    -try and figure out if there’s something else in your life that is bothering you, possibly something that you don’t have much control over; you may be dealing with another stress by projecting it onto motherhood (I did this with projecting stress from a bad job onto a good relationship); work on that problem if at all possible
    -give yourself permission to do things that relieve the immediate anxiety, even if they seem silly or a little bit wrong; when I was in this state I was afraid to be alone in the house–I would take walks to feel better but I would conscientiously turn off the lights to conserve energy…if I returned home to find that Mr. C hadn’t made it back yet and the house was dark, I would go much deeper into panic; I gave myself permission to leave the lights on for half an hour and it helped.
    -Moxie’s suggestions about eating well and caring for yourself are excellent
    Please do check in with a doctor, and ask a friend for extra comfort–you deserve to feel better than this.

  37. Ack, now I’m worrying (again) about the lead paint in my 1940s house…My husband is always giving me a hard time about over worrying, but I feel someone has to do it!
    About age appropriate toys, I find a lot of “Not under 3” toys are what my boys have really wanted since about 15 months. And I can’t really imagine a 3 year old playing with some of these toys. And they ‘look’ perfectly safe. So I buy them. I think there is an expensive certification process involved in getting a toy approved for under 3, and some toy manufacturers don’t want to bother, so just market the toy for over 3.

  38. Just a head’s up to watch out for magnesium’s side effects on the gut. I took it (orally) during my second pregnancy to help with leg cramps and the resulting cycle of diarrhea/constipation left me in agonizing discomfort. My ob/gyn had warned me about the potential for stomach problems, but I ignored her.I’m not sure if the oil is known to have the same side effects, though. Any insight, Moxie?

  39. The sugar thing has multiple impacts, by the way.1) gastric dumping/small bowel hurry – a huge sugar load (any type) can cause your body to dump too fast from stomach to small intestine (depending on your own body’s dynamics), and when that happens you can’t digest and absorb everything that’s coming through ‘too fast’. Something most people don’t know (even many GI docs) is that when the small bowel starts moving things along quickly ( the ‘hurry’ part), it generates a physical feeling of anxiety. No idea why – maybe because it causes tightening of the upper-mid-gut area, where we tend to clench when we’re anxious.
    2) blood sugar spike/crash – this isn’t a small issue. That sudden a change in the blood sugar, both up and down, affects mood, energy level, and the crash in particular can kick off a lot of survival mechanisms, so your fight/flight response is on higher alert than usual. I tend to get really ANGRY (without cause) on crashes, and then the crash tapers out toward depression/anxiety. My mom used to also go super-angry on a crash. There may be family patterns you can look around for, it can help spot them in yourself.
    3) Fermentation. We can only absorb so much sugar, period. Sucrose is broken down to glucose and fructose, and you can only absorb about 25g of fructose in one meal if you are a healthy individual. Yeah, that seems like a lot, but consider that fructose is in the fruits, and the vegetables, and the sweeteners, and the grains – if it grew out of the ground somewhere along the line, it probably has some fructose. In the US diet, a meal can have 54g, not even counting the amount that comes from sucrose. So, if you can only absorb so much, and the rest cannot be absorbed down the line, it ferments. If it ferments, it shuts down absorption of tryptophan, and without that, you can’t produce serotonin, melatonin, and a couple other essential chemicals. Mood destabilizes fast. And that’s just the ~65% of the population that CAN absorb a ‘normal’ amount of fructose. If you’re in that other third, you’re sunk. Miss M has severe anxiety if she over-consumes fructose, and just ‘takes a little while to warm up’ if she keeps her sugar intake low. VAST difference, just from diet. It takes 3 days for fructose to clear the gut, so if you over-indulge one day, be extra careful for the following couple of days, or you can end up with an escalating issue over that span.
    So, immediate dump issue is about 20 minutes after the meal, blood sugar spike can be around the same or a bit later (depending on how fast your system responds), but usually not more than an hour or so later, and then three days of followup potential misery. Sugar isn’t evil, but I’m much better off if I think of it in terms of ‘potentially challenging/risky’.
    Oh, and 4) Sugar-free isn’t necessarily better, but not in the way we hear about in the press. Most polyols used for sweetening (sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, etc.) take up the sites used for absorbing glucose and fructose, so they can cause worse issues when combined with an existing meal. On an empty stomach, and not followed by a meal, not so bad. But get too close to the meal… you know the warning labels that say over-consumption can cause diarrhea? That’s actually a nice case of fructose malabsorption artificially set up by the polyol. And just for fun, polyols are naturally occurring, especially in apples, pears, and pit fruits. So, go easy on those dried fruits for an extra reason… (yes, that’s also part of why they work for constipation issues).
    I also can’t do fast food, because there’s so much sugar, fructose, and wheat combined (wheat has the highest fructose of the commonly used grains)
    Sigh. I have been grumpier than usual the last few days, and while a big part was the extra hours at work, another was that due to those hours, I ate fast-food a couple days in a row. BAD PLAN. Now I’m grumpy, depressed, and prone to yelling first and talking second. Sigh. And yeah, you’d think I would know better by now!

  40. @Amanda, it actually sounds a bit like PPA or PPOCD, which can have NO symptoms of depression, but which have the anxiety potential on both. I get a blend – some PPD, some PPA, and some PPOCD, and they each have a separate cycle (though I no longer remember what cycle each took except the PPD tended to surge around 8 weeks pp, and the anxiety was sooner than that, but had a steady gain rather than a more notable onset). For me, the diet recommendations helped a lot, plus a lot of supplements for mood, mental function, and system function (like vitamin D makes a huge difference to my function – find the oil version – I can’t recall if that’s D2 or D3 – rather than dry tablets, it’s more bio-available.)

  41. My two cents on the walker… I got one for my son, and NEVER intended for it to teach him to walk. He was active and wanted to move around, and the walker was perfect for him! He LOVED IT!Even if I didn’t have a walker, I’d have had gates at all steps anyway, so that seems to be a moot point to me. I actually found it to be a safe place to put my son, where he was contained and couldn’t just crawl and get into anything.
    Some say walkers prohibit actual walking, but my son crawled at 6 months and walked by 9.5 months.
    Anyway, I try to be a calm parent and regularly tell myself to chill the heck out. “I am a good parent! I need to cut myself some slack!” is my mantra.

  42. Our house has stairs, so a walker would be super dumb. Exersaucers can be moved/shifted by an enthusiastic baby, so imagine my (lack of) glee when family members kept telling us we HAD TO HAVE A BOUNCY CHAIR, OMG!I just kind of…ignored it. I (privately)told my husband that I wasn’t going to argue with them about this, but if a gift wrapped bouncy chair ever showed up, hey, we’d be getting store credit at whatever store sells the little death traps! Yay!
    Oh, the reason we NEEDED A BOUNCY CHAIR? One of the girls likes to bounce and dance in our laps. So of course we would want to purchase something plastic that would discourage something so cute and fun and cuddly, right? What? Gah.
    Anyway.
    Don’t worry about the horrible toys. Return them. Donate them. Throw them away. Sometimes it’s easier to control the situation, and frankly, What Your Kid Plays With is totally your arena at this age.

  43. i just have a quick thing about the walker. my nephew uses a walker but basically its cuz its soemthing fun for him to be in. and when my sister is cooking dinner, etc she can put him in walker and let him do his thing in the kitchen and living room. she has no worries abotu him tumbling stairs because she has ates locked everywhere. we spent the day putting in gates so there is no way they will fall (i kicked it to test it). and she has gates and doors locked to anywehre he can possibly get into in his walker. but if youre so concerned about him going down steps, etc i have one question..why isn’t anyone watching the child. if i am following them in a walker im going to notice when he gets near the steps and move them…hope that wasn’t harsh i didnt mean for it to be.

  44. Anonymous, you’re talking one child here, right?because try that with three kids. I’ve had one child climb on the table while I was handling another child who had just bumped her head, then handled the child who just fell off the table and meanwhile the second one is trying to tear apart a book that belongs to her brother, so then I’m refereeing the shouting/crying crisis over the book while the climber is trying to get back to the table. We gated everywhere, but sometimes stuff just happens when there are a lot of things going on.
    Worse if there are guests.
    Far worse if there is a big event – I don’t like assuming the gate will handle it. The thing doesn’t latch entirely because someone unfamiliar with the mechanism latched it? Might seem small potatoes, but I know someone whose nephew drowned at a family wedding because someone didn’t latch the locking gate properly. “We always close it and lock it” doesn’t work if it isn’t you.
    Beyond that, if you’re cooking dinner, and bambino is in the walker, and they go into the living room, do you follow? With the twins, we gated the kitchen, so I could keep them either in, or out. We gated all the heck over the place, and they still could get into trouble from an early age.
    Maybe that wasn’t all the cases, but most people are happy to get 2 minutes to finish cooking the dinner, so if baby is happy in the walker… no following.
    I can’t recall the stat, but some portion of families are also ‘non-hovering’ style. their kids DO get hurt more often, but they also develop different skill sets. I wonder if that’s a survival mechanism, or maybe part of the low-response-to-dopamine issue – no stomach lurch for bad things, bad for risk situations that are common, but allows them to do high-risk activities that might help us survive in a crisis… Different reactions may seem odd, but they’re all part of the normal spectrum.

  45. Oh, and I have to say (sorry) I remember the walker (being in one) and DAMN that thing ROCKED! I loved loved loved the walker. I can remember digging my toes in on the linoleum and the glee of gliding across the floor, swinging my feet forward and having it swing crazily (to me) in an arc. So so so so so cool. Sigh. (So CAL home, ranch, no stairs)

  46. Here I come from my completely left-field perspective with exposition on Moxie’s point #5… The opposing-thumb thing (with fascinating monkey babysitter footage!) is an interesting conceit, because I’ll tell you, our non-human primate cousins are champions at child care. I took data studying the different parenting styles of four captive gorillas and their infants, and learned a LOT. You know, when your kid can wobble off the couch and hit the floor 18″ down, it’s scary. When that fall is 20-30 FEET straight down, it’s terrifying. When you’re watching someone else deal with that problem, it’s very interesting indeed.The two best moms I studied were both experienced, and in this case, both had young sons. One was hand-reared herself, and had to be taught how to breastfeed her first infant by watching, I kid you not, instructional (human) videos. She tended to be permissive but watchful, and allowed her kid to roam around and fall down and, frankly, hurt himself a bit in some situations, but when holding him at any height above about 2′ off the ground tended to keep him close. As he aged, she loosened the leash pretty rapidly. The kid is about 4 now, and is wonderful with the other youngsters and adults in the group.
    The other mom was raised by her actual gorilla mother and was rearing her fifth child. Two previous sons died from falls; one daughter had died from an infection; none of the first four had been successfully breastfed because of a supply issue. For this son, she kept him close–so close his sex would not have been known for years except that she’s very cooperative with keepers (anything for pickles!). The maximum drop in her habitat was about 20′, onto relatively soft bark mulch, but she didn’t let the kid roam on his own for a YEAR, and she hardly ever took him with her off the ground. She trusted no one with that baby until she was ready, and he was ready. He’s perfectly well adjusted now, and at only 3 is probably one of the most comfortable and confident animals in the group. And of course, she can retrieve him from the back of beyond by signaling that she’ll nurse him.
    In the meantime, my parents and peer group are all in the “hovering” camp, and my husband and I, for our various reasons, are trying desperately to be more on the “non-hovering” (thanks, Hedra!) side when it comes to basic physical experiences. “The radiator cover is pretty hot, and it’ll hurt if you hold on too long.” “Last time you did that, you hit your head. You weren’t too pleased about it.” “I see what you’re doing. I’ll be here if you need me.” These are commonly said to my non-walking one-year-old, who has learnt a hell of a lot of caution from her experiences so far. (Interestingly, she’s not a big risk-taker, and she avoids behaviors that lead to discomfort–her best skill these last five months, from her perspective, might be sitting down carefully from a standing position.) At the same time, we’re at the doctor (or on the phone) for many an infectious malady; I’ve graded her toys into play now/play supervised/play next year groups, and allow access accordingly; and I have had no problem getting rid of toys or other objects that I consider too dangerous (e.g. phthalates, PVC). OTOH, the kid’s latest non-toy joy is a fundal-height retractable tape measure. (Don’t ask.)
    I’m a crazy, PTSD-afflicted former perfectionist, and I’ll tell you, those gorillas taught me the most about how to prioritize dangers, real and imagined, and how to address them proactively. My mom-peers, my family, my in-laws, and the internets have nothing on those two (hairy) ladies for helping me learn to trust my gut and know what I NEED to do about a safety situation. Sure, it’ll be tougher once my child is no longer interchangeable with an infant gorilla, but I’ve started patterns that I hope will help me develop my priority sets in the future. In the meantime, my kid does admirably well already in just about every situation where she can feel that “rubber band” connecting us, so I feel we’re doing all right on that particular front. Now what to do about leaving her *sight*…

  47. @hedraRe: Vitamin D, D3 (cholecalciferol) is the type strongly preferred. D2 (ergocalciferol) is much less well-absorbed. Since Vitamin D is an oily substance (a hormone, actually) most “dry” versions are either D2, or according to some sources, degraded D3. Those little liquicap type things or dropper bottles are the best choice.
    [No links ‘cuz it’s an easy Google with many many info sources.]

  48. @hedra Interesting about low response to dopamine being linked to risk taking. I have ADHD (low dopamine), which could explain my non-hovering parenting style.Does DD get hurt sometimes? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No. I intentionally allow her to explore and understand how the world and her body work. That’s what she’s supposed do be doing at this age (13 months). I’m the oldest child in my family and my mother was over-protective. I was so afraid of hurting myself that I missed out on a lot of fun, especially sports. DD is my first but part of my relaxed attitude is from really good parenting advice, “treat her like your fourth.” Maybe I’m over-compensating based on personal history but it’s working for us.
    Also, I believe it’s every parent’s right to choose toys that are appropriate for his/her child.

  49. What’s wrong with walkers?American Academy of Pediatrics says:
    “Because data indicate a considerable risk of major and minor injury and even death from the use of infant walkers, and because there is no clear benefit from their use, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a ban on the manufacture and sale of mobile infant walkers.”
    With regards to supervision:
    “Adult supervision also cannot be relied on to prevent infant walker-related injuries. Moving at more than 3 ft/sec, an infant can be across the room before an adult has time to react. In one study, 78% of children were being supervised at the time of the injury, including supervision by an adult in 69% of cases.”
    And for good measure:
    “One study that evaluated children between 6 and 15 months of age demonstrated that walker-experienced infants sat, crawled, and walked later than no-walker controls, and they scored lower on Bayley scales of mental and motor development.”
    From here: http://tinyurl.com/5hxt7e
    And re the “Why isn’t someone watching your kids?” question: Because everybody poops, and only two members of the household can do it in their pants.

  50. …and I’m all for kids getting hurt while they’re learning to walk, climbing trees, playing, throwing blocks at their sister, etc, because hey, getting hurt is a normal part of growing up.I even emailed my pediatrician when Fitz-Hume was learning to creep and said “So, look, I’m not supposed to be following her around catching her when she falls over, right? Because she seems to be doing fine on her own,” and got the response “They will have a million tiny head injuries by the time they’re in school. It is not a big deal,” so I’m pretty darned laid back.
    I just don’t want my kids breaking their neck or suffocating against a plastic tray (I have no idea how that works, but it has happened more than once) because of some toy that has already been declared unsafe by a whole lot of pediatricians.
    Kids are really good at hurting themselves. They certainly don’t need my help in making the situation worse.

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