Archive for January, 2010

New research suggests children instinctively discriminate based on appearance and white parents are not helping their kids be ‘colour blind’ by ignoring the issue of race.

New book Nurtureshock from Po Brosnson and Ashley Merryman challenges many of the basic assumptions parents hold true about raising children.

The book discusses a 2007 study in The Journal of Marriage and Family which found that out of 17,000 families with kids in nursery, 45% said they’d never discussed race issues with their children and 75% of white parents never talked about race believing that by discussing race you highlighted differences rather than letting children grow up without a sense of racial boundaries.

What Nutureshock reveals is that children naturally notice visible differences between themselves and others (including race, gender, etc) and tend to group themselves where they feel they belong. The authors suggest it is imperative that discussions about race take place with young children in a positive way in order to avoid issues surrounding racial attitudes.   Although we might imagine we’re creating color-blind environments for children, differences in skin colour, hair or weight are like differences in gender – they’re obvious and need discussing.

“For decades, it was assumed that children see race only when society points it out to them. However, child-development researchers have increasingly begun to question that presumption. They argue that children see racial differences as much as they see the difference between pink and blue—but we tell kids that “pink” means for girls and “blue” is for boys. “White” and “black” are mysteries we leave them to figure out on their own.” Nurtureshock

So how did the researchers test a 6-month-old? They showed babies photographs of faces and found that babies would stare significantly longer at photographs of faces that are a different race from their parents, indicating they found the face out of the ordinary.  Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman suggest, that although they are not exhibiting signs of racism—children’s brains noticed skin-colour differences and were trying to understand their meaning.

Another finding that may surprise a lot of parents is that the very period when parents feel then do not need to or should not be discussing race (when they are young) is infact the very developmental period when children’s minds are forming their first conclusions about race.

“Several studies point to the possibility of developmental windows—stages when children’s attitudes might be most amenable to change. In one experiment, children were put in cross-race study groups, and then were observed on the playground to see if the interracial classroom time led to interracial play at recess. The researchers found mixed study groups worked wonders with the first-grade children, but it made no difference with third graders. It’s possible that by third grade, when parents usually recognize it’s safe to start talking a little about race, the developmental window has already closed.” Nurtureshock.

The book also examines the problems of praise and giving too much, the affects of not enough sleep on children, why children lie, why siblings fight and many other fascinating areas.  It certainly made me question many of my own parenting ideas.  Its NOT a parenting manual though so if you are expecting to come away with a to do list at the end you will be disappointed, parts of the books gave me more questions than answers but actually this is probably best because ultimately we all need to made our own decisions about how to parent our kids.

Click here to read the Daily Mail’s article on Nurtureshock/Giving to much praise


Read Full Post »

Depression can be linked into poor eating habits, and unfortunately post-natally many of us tend to put our own needs last, forgetting that keeping ourselves well is a huge priority.  How can you help anyone else if you’re collapsing on the floor? (You know you’re all guilty ladies!)

Personally, I feel that so many of us have babies now at a point when we’re so used to being in control of our lives, that we forget that having a baby isn’t just another project.  It’s a life changing physiological process and we have to respect our bodies for the huge thing that we are putting them through.  I’m soon having baby 3, and my independent midwives insist that a week in bed and then a week on the sofa is what all mums need with their new babies, not only to bond and establish good feeding, but simply to try and get back on their feet.  As a homeopath and nutritional advisor I’m very aware of the fact that it takes 2 years to get your body’s reserves of minerals and vitamins back to pre-conception.

Food greatly influences the brain’s behaviour.  A poor diet especially one with a lot of junk food, is a common cause of depression.  The levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are controlled by what we eat, and neurotransmitters are closely linked to our moods. The neurotransmitters most commonly associated with mood are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. When the brain produces serotonin, tension is eased, when it produces dopamine or norepinephrine we tend to think and act more quickly and are generally more alert.

Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression, anxiety and sleep disorders, and the substance that processes serotonin is amino acid tryptophan.  Consuming tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin made by the brain.  So eating complex carbs which raise the the level of tryptophan in the brain will have a calming effect. High protein foods on the other hand promote the production of dompamine and norepinephrine, which promote alertness.

Lots of the nutritional advice for depression is much the same as for a generally good diet but as explained above, you can be more strategic in your eating if you are suffering from depression.

A few tips:

  1. Eat a diet that includes plenty of raw fruit and vegetables, soybeans (nice snack) and soy products, whole grains, seeds, nuts (seeds and nuts a great snack to carry around with you when you’re peckish), brown rice, a diet that is too low in complex carbs can cause serotonin depletion.
  2. If you are feeling nervous and want to relax, eat more complex carbs, for increased alertness protein meals containing essential fatty acids eg: salmon and white fishes; turkey and salmon are high in tryptophan and protein.
  3. Avoid diet drinks and artificial sweeteners, aspartame has been claimed to block the formation of serotonin and cause headaches, insomnia and depression.
  4. Avoid foods high in saturated fats, meat and fried foods, eg: hamburgers and french fries, they can lead to sluggishness, slow thinking and fatigue.
  5. Try and avoid alcohol, caffeine and processed foods.
  6. Keep your mind active, try and get some rest and exercise

Good luck – but remember just try and keep eating healthy, well balanced meals, and if you’re not looking after yourself, you won’t be able to look after that baby.

Read Full Post »

Fabulous Melvita products giveaway

We’ve been raving about them. Marion Cotillard loves them. Now you can bag some for yourself.

Melvita (meaning honey and life in French) have just launched in the UK and to celebrate we have 10 fabulous Melvita products to giveaway.

To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is to answer the following question:

Is Melvita?

A) – a German brand

B) – a French brand

C) – a British brand

Email your answer to us now at michele@mumzine.com and be in with a chance of winning either an Eye contour gel (worth £18) or a Naturalift cream (worth £32).

Don’t miss out.  Deadline for entries is 9th Feb ’10.

Read Full Post »

If you are in the market for a sling you have got to check out Sling Jax, they have a massive range to choose from and you can hire as well as buy.

Mumzine readers can get a 5.5% discount at Sling Jax by using code ‘mumzine’ at the checkout.

There are plenty of benefits of using a sling:

Benefits for baby

  • Carried babies easily develop a lasting bond with their carers, including grandparents, siblings etc.
  • Carried babies learn to sit, stand and walk earlier.
  • Carrying babies stimulates their development. As they spend more time quietly observing the world, their communication skills develop and their confidence grows.

Benefits for parent/carer

  • Helps them to breastfeed discreetly anytime.
  • Allows them to tend to other children/run errands/do other tasks such as housework.
  • Travelling on public transport/shopping/hiking is much easier.
  • Additionally, using a sling helps to protect them from back, shoulder and neck pain.

Read Full Post »

Skin looking dry, flaky and parched from the constant central heating and bracing the elements this winter? Fret no more (it will only increase those lines), nourishing natural skin relief arrives in the UK today, with the launch of the largest beauty brand en France, Melvita.

This family run business founded in 1983, by biologist Bernard Chevilliat provides products using only the finest ingredients from organically farmed and responsibly harvested sources. Their packaging is all completely recyclable. They strive to promote ethical, humane, and fair-trade partnerships and consider themselves pro-active in their approach to sustainable development.

We have been loving their Ecocert organic products for some time, and so we have learnt has french actress Marion Cotillard. There are over 300 products in their head to toe beauty range including everything from skin care and bath care to supplements like bee pollen. Melvita offers affordable organic skin care with price tags ranging from £10- £32.

Their Eye contour gel, Hydrastim moisturising gel and Nautralift anti age cream have all been on trial here at Mumzine and we’re really impressed. You can actually feel the skin tightening with the eye contour gel and the consistency and absorption of their face creams is incredible. The Naturalift cream has been clinically proven to smooth over fine lines and wrinkles. Products have subtle scents too due to their use of plant extracts over essential oils.

With researchers constantly looking at the development of new ingredients, Melvita are set to lead a skin care revolution and we’ll be right behind them.

Read Full Post »

New mothers will be able to transfer the second half of their year-long maternity leave to the father, the government has confirmed.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the changes would take effect from April 2011.

Under the plan, if a mother returns to work, the father could take six months off with half paid at £123.06 week.

The Tories said the plans first set out in 2004 were repeatedly postponed and trailed behind their own proposals.

Source: BBC News – read full story here

Read Full Post »

This year I am going to be in Thailand for Valentines Day so I need to make sure that I leave something romantic but ethical for my green husband.

1. Etsy is the perfect place to get a truly unique gift for yourself or your other half with a totally clear conscience about where it has come from.  Everything is handmade and there are some great finds out there.  These love boxes are emailed as a PDF for printing.  At $5.00 and no postage they do not break the bank.  If you are new to etsy it is a global handmade marketplace where thousands of artists and crafters sell their wares to more than a million buyers scattered around the globe.

2. Roberts have had something of a revival over the last few years, not only do they look great but they are also kind on the environment – the Revival DAB Radios (£149.00) have a whopping 120 hours battery life. 

If you want to take it even further you can buy a Roberts Solar powered DAB radio (£71.99) which is half the price and will save on the energy bills.

3. If you are a bit more of a traditionalist when it comes to valentines day we have a whole post devoted to really sexy eco undies (yes they do exist!).

4. If you think Valentines you think flowers.  The main thing about buying flowers is that they are often shipped in from abroad.  If you want to buy flowers for your other half or drop some hints about your own flowers the best thing you can do is make sure they are UK grown.  There are now lots of options online to do this, Eco Flowers have a great range of flowers that are all British grown and if you buy from them you are also getting:

  • Responsibility for the handling of natural resources
  • No air miles used
  • A ban on child or forced labour
  • A total ban on toxic pesticides which cause damage to people and the environment.

5. Despite their recent takeover I am still a big fan of Green and Blacks their Maya Gold Bar was the UK’s first Fairtrade certified product to hit the shelves 15 years ago and they have just announced all products will now be Fairtrade.  So if you want to get a bit saucy this valentines how about this?

Green & Black’s Amaretto-Almond Fondue

1 100 gr (3.5 oz) Green & Black’s Milk Chocolate and Almond bar
1/8 cup plus 1 tbsp water
2 tbsp (1 oz) Amaretto


Break up the chocolate and put in a saucepan with the water. Over low heat stir with a small wire whisk until ingredients are smooth and combined. Add the amaretto and stir. If the resulting sauce is too thick, add a few drops of water and whisk to blend. Serve with desired fruit and nuts. If fondue becomes cool and thick, microwave for 10 seconds and stir, repeat if necessary.

Suggested dippables: Strawberries, peach slices, grapes and almonds.

Serves 2 to 3 (if you are so inclined)

6. And finally…if you want to give your valentine a romantic rub down try some of this gorgeous Organic Blue bath and massgge oil (£7.95).  It smells divine and has a special blend of oils to warm and soothe.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »