Toddlers, car seats, and body mechanics

Posted by Alina on Wednesday Oct 13, 2010 Under body mechanics, health, toddlers

Screen shot 2010-10-13 at 11.32.25 PMLately, when I drop off or pick up my son at daycare,  I have noticed how much some people strain their bodies when placing and removing their young children to/from car seats. My son weighs 32 lbs, and it is becoming difficult for me these days to lift him into his seat, so one day I asked him to climb in himself, and, to my surprise, he did it without a problem, and actually liked it!

My first recommendation to decrease the strain on the parents’ bodies, would be to have the child climb into the car seat on his/her own. You may have to give them a hand in the beginning, but they learn quickly. If the child is unable to climb up independently, then parents should use proper lifting mechanics. Don’t just bend forward at your hips and back and pick up your toddler with extended arms. The pressure on your spinal disks as well as strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back, neck, shoulders, and wrists is quite significant, especially repetitively, and is likely to result in injury. Either squat down with both legs, sticking your buttocks out, hold the child close and then use your legs to straighten up. Or, kneel down on one knee, hold the child close and then stand up from there. Once you have the child and are upright, get as close to the car seat as you can, place one foot in the car, and facing the car seat, place your child in.

Next, comes the buckling in of the squirmy little person. I now ask my two year old to place his arms through the belt loops on his own, which he is usually happy to do. If your car seat is installed in the center of the back seat (safest position), then you should try to get as close as possible to it, by getting in and kneeling on one knee, or both, to avoid straining your back and neck. If the seat is installed behind the driver (next safest option), then placing one foot  just inside the car, with the knees and hips bent, and facing the car seat, should provide a good base of support for your center of gravity, and greatly reduce the strain on your back, neck and extremities.

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Formula Recall

Posted by Alina on Thursday Sep 23, 2010 Under Baby Products, baby safety, health

Screen shot 2010-09-23 at 11.29.40 AMAbbott Laboratories is recalling Similac powedered infant formula due to possible contamination with insect parts. Liquid formula is unaffected. The company said, insects were discovered in one part of a manufacturing plant in Michigan and the area was shut down for investigation. Although the affected formula does not pose an immediate health risk, it may cause stomach ache and indigestion, according to the FDA.

To check if your batch is affected and for a refund, go to, or call the company’s hotline at (800) 986-8850.

Here is the press release from the FDA.

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Unfortunately, a friend of mine told me this week that her toddler daughter sustained a tibial fracture. She said that she came down a slide with her daughter on her lap, which, most parents I know, myself included, have done multiple times. While they were coming down, her daughter’s foot got stuck on the side of the slide and she let out a loud shriek. Since then, her daughter has not been able to bear weight on her leg. My friend took her daughter to a hospital where she was diagnosed with a non-displaced tibial fracture.

Apparently this is not such a rare occurrence and an article on just this topic was published less than a month ago in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, titled “Tibia Fractures in Children Sustained on a Playground Slide.” The article is a retrospective study by Dr. John T. Gaffney, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Mineola, NY, who looked at 58 patients with tibial fractures and focused on the 8 cases which all happened while playing on a slide. The age of those 8 children ranged from 14-32 months and in ALL of the cases the child suffered a fracture while going down the slide on an adult’s lap. It appears that the injury happens when a child’s foot gets stuck on the side of the slide and because the parent’s speed and momentum makes it difficult to stop, this results in a tibial fracture for the child. The study recommends that if a child cannot safely go down a slide on their own, they should be redirected to a different activity to maximize the child’s safety.

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Infant Massage

Posted by Alina on Wednesday Oct 7, 2009 Under health, useful tips

I was recently contacted by an expert in the field of infant and children’s massage therapy, Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT, who will be in NYC on October 17 & 18, 2009 Saturday & Sunday to present a workshop at the St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital. During the course she is offering free infant massage lessons for families from 1:30-2:30pm. For further information please check out her website You must RSVP to if you are interested in participating in this event. Ms. Allen says ” Babies and children simply love to be touched. In fact, they thrive on it and it is a crucial part of their development.” She was kind enough to share some of her massage tips with readers:

Getting Ready:
– Make sure the room is warm enough (especially if removing the child’s clothing)
– Relax yourself
– Warm your hands by rubbing them together
– Ask permission to start massage by making eye contact and verbally asking out loud “Is it okay if I give you a massage?”

Massage Time:
The Legs
If your little one is laying down facing you,
– Start by placing your warmed hands around the top of baby’s leg at the hip
– Cupping one leg, gently stroke downward towards the foot
– Do not put any pressure on baby’s knee or ankle
– Then stroke the bottom of the foot and gently hug each little toe
– Next kiss the feet, babies love this!
– Repeat on the opposite leg.

The Tummy
The tummy should not be massaged right after eating. If baby has not recently eaten (within 30 minutes), introduce your touch to the belly.
– Place your hands at the belly button and move them in a clockwise motion
– This movement can help ease the pains associated with gas, constipation and has been known to ease colic

The Arms
– Repeat the same soothing strokes that we used on the legs

The Back
– Stroke the back, starting at the shoulders, over bum and down the legs, showing extra care not to put any pressure on her spine
– Continue stroking the back a few times
End with a hug and kiss!

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Kegel Exercises

Posted by Alina on Friday Mar 27, 2009 Under health, useful tips

Kegels are named for Doctor Arnold Kegel, who first described these pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic muscles create a hammock inside your pelvis for the organs that lie above. The aim of Kegel exercises is to improve tone in the pubococcygeal and other muscles that encircle the urethra (bladder tube), vagina, and rectum.

To practice isolating these muscles, try stopping and starting the flow of urine. When performed correctly, no outward sign of effort should be visible. You can do these any where any time, and most women would benefit from performing a set of 10 repetitions multiple times per day. The exercises can be performed in a variety of ways, for example; a) contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, b) contracting, holding for 5-10 seconds, then relaxing, c) elevators: contracting the muscles incrementally (like an elevator going to 1st, 2nd, 3rd floor) and releasing gradually, more advanced ways include barbells, springs, and rubber bulbs made especially for this purpose. You can perform these exercise in various positions, such as lying, sitting and standing.

Benefits of Kegels include easier birthing with fewer tears, enhanced sexual enjoyment for both partners, prevention of prolapsing of pelvic organs, and prevention/treatment of urinary incontinence (such as with sneezing or coughing). It is an important exercise and something that can easily be worked into most people’s routine.

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Women’s Health

Posted by Alina on Saturday Mar 14, 2009 Under health, useful tips

There are various musculoskeletal issues that may manifest in the prenatal and postpartum periods for a woman. During this time, many women suffer from pain in their back, pelvis, hips and possibly other joints. Many of these pains can be attributed to hormonal changes, muscular imbalances, and altered joint mobility.

Here is what happens. Ligaments are soft tissue structures that connect bones to other bones and provide joint stability in our bodies. During pregnancy and the postpartum period (especially when nursing), the hormonal changes cause these ligaments to become more loose, allowing increased joint motion (loss of stability) and possibly resulting in pain. As a woman gains weight in pregnancy, postural changes take place as well, causing some muscles to stretch out and others to shorten. This may result in weakening of various muscles, especially core and pelvic floor.

The good news is that many of these pains are transient and eventually resolve. However, at times it would be beneficial to seek the help of a trained physical therapist who specializes in women’s health. If your symptoms are affecting your daily function, you may benefit from such a consult. A physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation and design an individualized program for each patient. He/she may also recommend various adaptive equipment to help you function independently through the tough time. For example, I had a period in the middle of my pregnancy where my pelvic pain rendered me unable to put on my socks. Luckily there is a special adaptive device which allowed me to dress independently once again. This may not sound like a big deal, but at a time when my hormones were affecting my emotions and my body was feeling like it wasn’t mine, suddenly being unable to dress myself in the morning was quite frustrating and depressing.

The American Physical Therapy Association has a special section on Women’s Health, and can help you find a qualified therapist in your area. These therapists go through advanced training which includes continuing education courses and hands on experience. They treat women with a variety of conditions including pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, as well as issues that arise during prenatal and postpartum periods.

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Wrist and thumb pain?

Posted by Alina on Wednesday Nov 26, 2008 Under body mechanics, health

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the sheath that surrounds two tendons that control movement of the thumb and/or the inflammation of the tendons themselves. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and in this case, the involved tendons are those of extensor pollicis brevis and abductor pollicis longus muscles, which move the thumb away from the palm in the plane of the palm. De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is often caused by repetitive hand and thumb motions, such as lowering a child or plate, typing on hand held device (aka Blackberry thumb), wringing, and use of a computer mouse. Symptoms include pain on the thumb side of the wrist, possibly spreading further up the forearm and/or to the thumb, swelling, “snapping” sensation when moving thumb, numbness on back of thumb and index finger, and pain with grasping objects with thumb and forefinger. Diagnosis is typically made through a physical examination, specifically the Finkelstein’s test. Treatment often consists of rest, keeping wrist in a neutral position (via use of a thumb spica splint), which allows the affected tendons to rest

Finklestein's Test

Finklestein's Test

and heal. Anti-inflammatory medications may help decrease swelling and reduce pain. Iontophoresis or phonophoresis may also be used. Visiting a physical or occupational therapist who specializes in hand therapy can help speed recovery and provide knowledge of proper body mechanics, useful exercises, and how to avoid injury in the future. If conservative treatment fails, the doctor may inject cortisone to the inflamed site. If nothing else yields results, surgery may be performed to release the roof of the tunnel to give the tendons more space. With conservative treatment, you may feel better in four to eight weeks. After surgery, recovery is more involved and usually takes several months.

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Carrying a baby in a car seat

Posted by Alina on Thursday Nov 13, 2008 Under body mechanics, health

The safest way to carry anything is to have have your center of gravity within your base of support. When standing upright, our center of gravity is at our navel, and the base of support are our feet. Weather you lean forward to pick up a box or a feather, you may still end up hurting your back, because the weight of your upper body is placed outside of your base of support (feet). It would be safer for you to walk as close to the object as possible, squat, and then lift using your legs. To carry the object, you would want to keep it as close to your upper body as possible, to reduce strain.

In keeping with the above principle,  carrying a baby strapped to a car seat by the handle of the seat is quite straining for most people. There are two good options:

1) If the baby is in the seat, lift the seat from underneath with both arms, and hold in front of you, close to your body.

2) Hold the baby with one arm, and the empty seat with the other.

As always, when carrying, keep your abdominal muscles taught to provide support for the lumbar spine.

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My son who is now six and a half months old, has begun pulling himself up in the crib. Three days ago he was getting to his knees, so we moved the crib mattress down a notch so that he would not tip over and fall out (our crib has 3 possible mattress positions). Today he started coming up on his feet, and we had to lower the mattress yet again. It’s now at the lowest possible setting. Although the crib has a drop side, the mattress is now too low to allow me (5’5″) to reach in and pick a baby who is lying down without injuring myself. When I come to the crib, my son is usually on all fours, waiting to get out, I first drop the side down, help him up to a kneeling position, then up on his feet (while he is supporting his own weight) and then I lift him up. This reduces the strain on my back, especially since I have to perform this motion several times a day. If the baby is too young for kneeling or standing, then sitting them up before lifting would also reduce strain. It is also important to keep your knees bent, tighten the abdominal muscles, avoid rounding your back over the crib side, and lift the baby up close to your chest/ shoulder.

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