My Daughter and her iPad

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We introduced the iPad early on in my daughter’s life. As soon as her motor and cognitive skills started developing, her tiny little fingers were serving for more than just grabbing random items to put in her mouth, they were serving to discover by trial and error how to use this fascinating electronic device which never fails to respond and often has something new to offer… our tiny little one was reaching out to the cyberworld! Before she was one year old, she was able to navigate it like a pro, switching from apps, to pictures, to filming short videos, to snapping so many bizarre selfies and then to cartoon watching on YouTube!

We were aware of the potential negative impacts of tablets on young kids ranging from attention deficit problems, to vision problems, to the development of sedentary and anti-social habits, therefore we tried to limit the time she spent with her magic tablet to a strict minimum. We had an initial rule of offering her the iPad only as a last resort to keep her calm and entertained when there was a need to get some things done and no help was around. With time, the rule started to bend gradually to accommodate her increasing demand for attention and stimulation coinciding with the increasing demands of our daily routine which was leaving us with less and less energy and time to interact with her as she grew older. Since we were under the impression that it was working wonders with her educationally and intellectually (I can’t say that I’m not still impressed by some of the things that Le Petit Genie app has taught her) and more specifically in providing her with a more fulsome exposure to French which we worried she was lacking in New York, we started to let go … and then the iPad quickly took control.

Today my daughter is 2 and the first thing she asks for when she wakes up at 6:30am is her iPad. She wants to watch her all-time favorite cartoon “L’âne Trotro”, or play with “Talking Anya” the doll which repeats what the child says (and will give you the most insane headache!).

I understood that the iPad became problematic when she started preferring it over her toys and books and was asking for it all the time. On one particular occasion that I remember vividly, we were strolling outdoors and she asked me to go back home to “watch on iPad”! (I immediately teared up). Lately what was even more alarming is that she started demanding to eat while in front of the screen. The idea that I (nutritionist) am setting my daughter on a sedentary (couch potato) path with the innumerable health detriments that go with it started to horrify me.

Tablets are still a relatively new gadget and since my daughter’s generation is the first to get exposed to them at such an early age, there aren’t enough studies to scientifically prove the many potential risks on a developing kid’s body and mind. That being said, there’s no need for studies or research to notice that this tablet, despite its interactive nature, will, without strict control, end up causing the same detrimental effects that unmonitored TV and video games’ consumption by kids has been known to cause for some time now (ADD, eating disorders and social problems included).

I can’t say that there weren’t times recently when I was so discouraged by the iPad’s take-over that I even flirted with the idea of getting rid of it altogether, but technology is here to stay and my daughter will be part of a generation which is bound to incorporate it increasingly into every aspect of their lives (whether it is for work, to connect with other or for entertainment), therefore rather than inhibiting her ability to learn to interact with it and risk putting her at an unfair disadvantage which may cause its own social issues for her growing up, I decided to enforce some structure on her relationship with the iPad and hopefully this will teach her how to keep those boundaries with technology throughout her life.

Therefore, I decided, as a pre-2014 resolution, that a strict rule for using the iPad for no more than 1 hour/day is warranted and no food is allowed during that time. I was also happy to learn today, by doing some research for this post, that there are recently released guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics which encourage parents to limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day and in children under 2, the guidelines discourage screen media exposure altogether. Therefore, my resolution seems to be in line with their recommendation.

So genius apps and French cartoons will just have to stand in line as my daughter’s health is taking center stage! Pray for me! I’ll keep you posted with how this resolution pans out!

Oups, alarm clock ringing! Time for me to go back to my little one…

Play the Baby Gender Games

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Upon learning the big news, most expecting parents intuitively start marveling about the tints that will be added to their family pallet (and come to define their nursery). The imagination here often lends itself to stereotypes and extremes are envisioned: is it going to be a dive into a pink-ish princess world or will blue, trucks, cars and dinosaurs take over?

The wait is usually over between the 16th to the 20th week of pregnancy, when you’re baby’s genital will be developed enough for your gyno (or sonogram technician) to be able to confirm the gender – of course provided baby decides to cooperate (be in the right position) and isn’t too shy to permit a peak!

There is also a growing group of parents that choose to keep the gender a mystery until delivery but I’m certainly not one of those and my mind has been busy pondering whether my daughter will have a younger brother or sister from day one… In addition, I’m the planner and dreamer type and therefore before yellow starts taking over my house and mind I need to know what directions things are heading. For the impatient-types like me, gender games are a fun (and non-invasive) way to cater to our curiosity.

  • Chinese Gender Chart

It predicts your baby’s gender based on your Chinese lunar age at the time you got pregnant and the Chinese lunar month in which you conceived. Here’s the one I used:

http://www.babycenter.com/chinese-gender-predictor

Result: Girl

baby gender

  • Gender Prediction Test
IntelliGender’s Gender Prediction Test

IntelliGender’s Gender Prediction Test
Can be used as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy

A gender prediction test that you can buy at some local pharmacies. Those tests have been on the market for a couple of years now but their accuracy is actually quite controversial and for the most part medical professionals have not endorsed them concluding that they are a waste of money. Nevertheless, some brands affirm around 80% accuracy (so 4 out of 5 tests according to them is correct). The test I used (see image above) claims to examine the chemicals produced by the pregnant mother’s urine and so should give a “dark, smoky green” reaction to the urine of a mother carrying a male baby and an “orange tinted” reaction to the urine of a mother pregnant with a girl.

Result: Girl

Of course neither the Chinese chart nor the prediction test kit have conclusive scientific backing and therefore shouldn’t replace a sonogram test result to prove or contradict their prediction. So if you learn you have a girl don’t go all Marie-Antoinette in your baby’s nursery just yet!

For my part, I’ll wait for the sonogram before I break the news to my daughter that she should be expecting a sister!

Coffee, Teas and Tisanes

Green tea

Green tea

You’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or you’re breastfeeding and wondering if it’s still safe to rise and shine with your usual morning coffee, or if you can still delight in your afternoon tea or savor your comforting bedtime herbal tea?

Here are some facts:

  • Coffee and non-herbal tea during childbearing (conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding):
Cappuccino

Cappuccino

Coffee and non–herbal teas (like black and green tea) contain high amounts of caffeine. There’s still not enough data about the safety of caffeine for an embryo, a fetus and a newborn. Caffeine ingested by a pregnant woman gets to her bloodstream, can reach the placenta and therefore crosses to the fetus’ blood. It can also get to the breast milk. It’s best to avoid caffeine during those periods or to minimize your intake to no more than 300 mg/day, which is about 2 servings of coffee, tea or other caffeine containing drinks like soda (cola), energy drinks and maté. Decaffeinated versions could be an alternative to regular coffee and teas since they contain a low amount of caffeine.

  • Herbal teas during childbearing:
Herbal tea

Rosehip tea

Herbal tea or tisane is a tea that generally doesn’t contain caffeine and is made mostly from an herb or could be a blend of different types of herbs, spices and other plants.

Although natural generally rhymes with something good and that’s why a lot of brands try to use that term in marketing their herbal products, it is not a synonym of safe. Natural herbs can sometimes have a drug-like effect on our body. There are so many types of herbs on the market, few of them are scientifically studied and even less are tested for their hazardous effects during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Also herbs sold in pharmacies and health stores are still not regulated by health agencies and so there’s no guarantee of their safety, effectiveness and purity. Hence, it’s best to be cautious when opting for a cup of tisane. Here are some options of herbal teas that are considered safer than others but should also be consumed in moderation (2 cups/day): ginger, bitter orange, citrus peel, echinacea, peppermint, red raspberry leaf, rosemary and rosehips.

In moderation and with a bit of care, keep on relishing your little pleasures!

Fall/Winter Fragrances: My Picks

As you will notice, I predominantly love the reign of spicy Oud wood this season! Whether it is blended with fruity or floral essences, it creates a distinctive splendid bouquet of warm and rich wintery scents. Here’s my selection:

English Pear & Freesia Cologne by Joe Malone Perfect caress of autumn with luscious pear, white freesias,amber, patchouli and spicy woods.

English Pear & Freesia Cologne by Jo Malone
Perfect caress of autumn with luscious pear, white freesias, amber, patchouli and spicy woods

Oud & Bergamot Cologne by Joe Malone Tempting and mesmerizing mix of Arabian Oud and citrus bergamot

Oud & Bergamot Cologne by Jo Malone
Tempting and mesmerizing mix of Arabian Oud and citrus bergamot

Velvet Sublime limited edition fragrance by Dolce & Gabbana It is a truly sublime floral fragrance with a blend of Sicilian mandarin, orange blossom and neroli

Velvet Sublime, a limited edition fragrance by Dolce & Gabbana
It is a truly sublime floral fragrance with a blend of Sicilian mandarin, orange blossom and neroli

Jasmin Rouge, a fragrance from the private blend collection by Tom Ford Sexy, bold and glamorous as red lips! This floral-spicy fragrance is an opulent blend of jasmin, sage and rich spices.

Jasmin Rouge, a fragrance from the Private Blend collection by Tom Ford
Sexy, bold and glamorous as red lips! This floral-spicy fragrance is an opulent blend of jasmin, sage and rich spices.

X by Clive Christian It’s branded the aphrodisiac scent for being a fusion of Egyptian jasmine (what Cleopatra used to seduce her love) and Karo Karundi (reputed to be a love drug essence). It’s a refined and pleasant fruity fragrance

X by Clive Christian
It’s branded the most aphrodisiac fragrance for being a fusion of Egyptian jasmine (what Cleopatra used to seduce her lover) and Karo Karundi (reputed to be a love drug essence). It’s a refined and pleasant fruity fragrance