Posted in Parenting, Pre-Parenting

Top Resources for the Child Care & Preschool Search

Finding Child Care or Preschools can be tough!  I didn’t realize how early I needed to start in San Diego (6 months to 1 year waitlists seemed common). After LOTS of online research, I found some buried gems of resources of 1) Relevant National Organizations with objective search information 2) Databases of Childcare Providers 3) Reports to review Licensing/Accreditation issues, and 4) Comprehensive questions to ask before or on tours. The links I keep coming back to evaluating each school are below – including General Links as well as California/San Diego specific links.  

  • 1) This National Organization had a great tips for the Child Care Search process here: https://www.childcareaware.org/families/ https://www.childcareaware.org/starting-child-care-search/
  • 2) Finding Child Care Providers.  I personally found searching Google Maps for “Child care” or “Preschool” to be fairly comprehensive, and recommend starting there for some quick calls to judge waitlist times and the options you have locally within a reasonable driving range.  Calls were faster in general than electronic forms, and helped arrange a few tours at programs that seemed acceptable to get a feel for what local places are like.    
    • Local Referral Services:  This national organization delegates unbiased centers for each zip code here: https://www.childcareaware.org/ccrr-search-form/
    • San Diego YMCA:  “Our database of care providers includes all licensed child care centers and family child care homes, nanny agencies, license-exempt school based programs and summer camp programs.” https://orm.naccrraware.net/orm/ormLogin.action?uid=RRVU3PERE1EHZFZ  (Requires a short registration process.  Unfortunately I didn’t find much more information than what I would do via google search and my own licensing search.  It might be especially valuable, however, if you qualify for reduced fee childcare or are trying to find if any places had higher level National Accreditation as an extra quality measure.)
  • 3) Review Accreditation/Licensing etc to Remove any with Concerning Findings:
  • 4) Ask Detailed Questions and do a Tour:  GREAT COMPREHENSIVE QUESTIONS CHECKLISTS for Child Care (provided by the Government Agency, and grouped by age of care infant->school age):  Printable to take with on a Tour, or to make notes on during a phone conversation. If you feel the multiple pages is too large for a tour, make a folded half page set of notes yourself to make sure to ask (but most places shouldn’t flinch at you being thorough!)  https://www.childcareaware.org/selecting-child-care-program/

Gosh, there can be a lot to figure out.  Going to a range of places on a tour helped me learn more what I wanted (although having space when you need it might be even more relevant.  Those are the major links I kept coming back to, but this could easily be several more articles. Hopefully this is a good jump start of your search!

Posted in Parenting

7 Must-Do San Diego Summer Fun Things with Active Toddlers & Kids (& 1 to skip)

This summer I have a toddler who wants to run and explore!  Whether your kiddo is younger or older than that, the list I assembled below has tons of summer San Diego FUN for active kids (AND us parents! :))  All work well for a wiggle worm who needs a safe place to roam.

One to Skip- County Fair: I went before 2019 (which had a very sad sickness outbreak in kids possibly linked to the petting zoo).  In general it’s crowded and maybe hard to watch a running little one- but the animals might be a draw. Unless you love the crowds, concerts or fair food yourself, I’d opt instead for a quieter petting zoo to get your animal fix– we liked the one at Ponyland: http://www.ponylandsandiego.com/  It’s near the border and call to check its hours first, as they vary by season.

There are lots more things, but that’s a start!  Get out there and enjoy!

Posted in Parenting

Non-Toxic Teether Recs: No Plastic, No Prob!

When my baby started teething between 3 and 4 months, she was chomping HARD on my fingers and anything she could grab!  With the recent plastic warnings even for BPA free items (and past things I’d heard about China chemical fillers or toxic toy recalls), I knew I wanted safe wood or silicone teethers made in the USA. Even with lots of searching, finding made in the USA was hard.  Here’s what I learned, which will hopefully save your time and worries (this is my unpaid, unbiased review).

  • Top choice: Baby banana. Silicone teether made in the USA, good shape for small hands and doubles as a toothbrush up to age 12 months.  The silicone also got less fuzzy than other silicone, and the shape has the benefit when it falls the brushpart the baby chews on most doesn’t hit the ground.  Plus silicone I don’t mind washing/sanitizing on the dishwasher top rack. (Also, I used it past 12 months myself, but she didn’t have molars yet, so it seemed to still work in my mind.)  If you buy just one teether, I’d pick this one!
  • 2nd silicone choice: Baby Banana Smoothie Soakers (also made in the USA).  My baby suddenly bit (er, teethed) everywhere so I needed multiple supplies.  This 3 pack for about $12 were good, especially as those 4 front teeth came in, although they weren’t her top choice after even if they didn’t have an age limit.  Please note, besides the 2 mentioned above, the other things by this Baby Banana brand are actually made in Taiwan (toddler banana, octopus, dolphin etc and was a lower quality and really sticky, fuzz-magnet silicone-plus my baby didn’t chew them as much… Online that non-USA fact is not obvious and felt like a waste of money)
  • Best all around utility:  Wooden toys by Maple Landmark . I got the shape stacker which my baby chewed on, in addition to playing with other ways.  The USA made products are made in Vermont with hardwood, and the stacker has no paint or sealant, just high quality sanding.  They have a teether I didn’t try, one review said that shape cracked, and for the price point the stacker seemed a better value plus durable and educational to teach triangles, square shapes etc…At the younger age my baby loved chewing on the stacker (especially before/as the front teeth came in) and at nearly 1 year old she still plays with the pieces to stack and will for a long time as blocks.  Maybe not be a custom teether, but a good all around toy and one I’ll think of giving as a baby shower gift since people always admire and ask where I got it. Note the central stacker spike doesn’t rock like the common plastic version, so if your baby is unstable sitting, learning to walk etc, keep that part put away so she doesn’t have to on it-mine feel on the flatter stacking piece alone with her mouth and that was enough ouch!
  • WowieStar Silicone Starfish.  Not as beloved by my babe as baby banana, but better for the 12 month or older or teething after the first 4 front teeth arrive.  This was a surprise find that didn’t come up readily in Amazon searches for USA made, and is a little pricey at $16… It became my last resort when my 10 month old chewed and are every board book around. It does have a custom strap attached option with the teether for $20, in case that interests you it’s cheaper to order them together at the start.  The USA made starfish gathers less fuzz and had more use than the Taiwan made octopus by the Baby Banana brand, but for it’s price point and how much my baby uses it, I’d say it’s just ok.
  • LifeFactory Silicone Ring (often out of stock it seems).   This shape seems good (my daughter tries chewing on similar plastic pme) and it’s USA made silicone from a company that does a US made silicone covered glass bottles for babies and adults (the glass itself might be made in France).  This teether might be out of regular production since the price for 2 teethers on Amazon was $35… But the same $35 price for 2 baby bottles and 2 teethers, in case you’re in the market for bottles too maybe it’s worth a try (and some googling for the latest in stock link at Amazon or Pottery Barn).
  • Cheapest option you already have:  My baby 10 month old loved chewing on a wet washcloth- the roughest, cheapest made in China ones she liked best rather than my dance organic bamboo ones. 😛  I’ve seen hacks if freezing breast milk on the cloths to encourage them to teeth, but that wasn’t necessary in my case. Bonus that wiping teeth with a wash cloth is another way to clean them at this age, so she was staying that process herself!
  • Teether I hated: Manhattan Company Squish Toy.  This screams Montessori and looks great in pictures and in reviews, but the made in China paint and sealant (sealant is even on the natural wood colored one) plus super choking hazard sized elements held together by elastic always makes me nervous.  Plus my baby only showed momentary interest in the $15 plus toy. .. don’t waste your money like I did.
  • Side note: USA made baby toothbrushes.  Once she grows out of baby banana, I was trying to find another both USA made tooth brush.  The USA made finger one here has some reviews saying it was tight, maybe it’s a bit expensive at $10 for what it is, but I wonder if it might be a safe teether back up too.  She preferred imitating us with a toothbrush at about 12 months, so sticking my finger in by her chompers was not a top choice 😛  Regular baby toothbrushes made in the USA are here (3 for $10) which I didn’t try as I found that later, after just getting one at Target by Colgate or another company.  Although with how she’s pulled out bristles by chewing her brush I wonder about safety at there current under 1 year age…at least the silicone banana teethers any piece she broke off seemed smaller and less of a choking risk. 
  • Other teether thoughts:  my baby loved chewing in the silicone cups and straws… Although they aren’t USA made, Silikids (Amazon $8)  made a silicone cup with silicone lid and straw.  It seemed better than the crunch sound she made on our stainless steel cups, but the silicone lid was super thin to tear and the straw was short (although clear so a good one to see if she got any liquid when she was first learning to use it around 6months).  Once your kiddo knows how to use a straw, the best I could find for cleanable straws with a cool silicone squeegee that were also longer so easier for her to use without pulling out of the cup were Softy Straws.  (Reminder- all those straw and cup  products are NOT USA made).

If you find any other good USA made options please contact us so it can be added-in the meantime best of luck with your teething babe!

 

Posted in Parenting, Pre-Parenting

Book Recs for Parenting and Pregnancy

When I was pregnant I asked my smart parent friends for any resources–and got some awesome recommendations!  Below are the top recs grouped by topic for the busy current or soon-to-be-parent. These are unpaid, unbiased reviews.

Speed Summary: If you are pregnant and want minimal books, these were the top- Pregnancy: Mayo Clinic Guide plus (optional) Expecting Better New Parent Guide: Either AAP  or Mayo.

If you have time for more, here were other top recs: Scheduling/Sleep: Moms on Call or EASY method (see below).  Soothing: Happiest Baby Video and one more.  Delivery: several links below for ‘natural birth’ info sciency friends appreciated. Post-Kids Relationship:  And Baby Makes Three  Breastfeeding:  In person help (see below) or  Latch.  Potty Training: Lots! (Maybe start with Diaper Free before 3.)   Parenting Theory/Approach: Lots! (Many especially good for Audiobooks now or later.) Below are more detailed recs and other great books by topic.

Personal hint:  If you are busy pre or post baby, listening on Audible ($15/month includes any one book monthly and chance to swap if you don’t like it) or reading on the Kindle Phone App (one handed=easier to juggle with a kiddo) are helpful ways to learn while feeding/stuck under a sleeping baby/driving (Audio only!:P)/doing chores around the house etc.  Many libraries also have these books, or might even have e-lending to get electronically from home as well.)

Now for all those great recommendations!!

 

Pregnancy:

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.  Mayo is more informative and less frightening than What to Expect When You Are Expecting…Mayo has a useful month-by-month format to inform and prepare as well as background sections; this alone would cover all your bases for information/common questions.  Several Apps cover the baby development as well, but perhaps not the medical/safety info. This book is concise, educational yet friendly, and has a nice colorful layout and images. (I read the first edition, but gave the link to the newest one.)

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know For those who love data and geeking out!  Recommended by most sciency friends, an Economist analyzes the scientific literature to debunk/refine many recommendations in pregnancy/childbirth-oddly reassuring, plus an enjoyable read.  (See more about Science of Mom book below for similar sciency detailed birth->feeding tips.)
New Parent Guide:   

I rec to choose just one of AAP or Mayo books–there’s a good additional option of Science of Mom (book or blog) covering birth to ~6months if you want to geek out.

AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics): Caring for Your Baby and Young Child- Birth to Age 5.  The AAP is where most health recommendations come from, so it’s great to hear it from the source.  It covered routine baby care, gear (and safety), illnesses and most things you would need. The first year covers development in 3 month blocks, and then chapters by year beyond that. Although it was useful, it was bigger and clunkier (with old school black and white illustrations) compared to the Mayo Clinic First year, which I actually enjoyed more post birth; however, the AAP book is more comprehensive and longer lasting (so selection between the 2 is probably by preference).  Notable is HealthyChildren.org is a patient-facing website covering AAP advice as well that is searchable, useful and current-but not as curated for a comprehensive read as this book (but perhaps you’d turn to the website more for the latest rather than pull out this book once you actually have kids).

Mayo Clinic Guide for Your Baby’s First YearCovers general baby care, health and safety, illnesses, parenting etc plus detailed month by month information on development, play etc.  I bought this book after not really getting into the AAP book’s month-by-month sections- I enjoyed the Mayo book more for its concise, friendly, informative layout (if you like Mayo Pregnancy, you’d like this similar style).  It might be my top rec, except it only covers 1 year.

The Science of Momby Alice Callahan.This is a book from a blog, which has great scientific content from birth to feeding (but nothing beyond that 6 month feeding window).  (Much of it is still available for free on her blog as well: https://scienceofmom.com/best-of-the-blog/)  It is super informative, well written and enjoyable to read.

Funny, Yet Useful Gift book:  Be Prepared: A practical guide for new dads.  Whimsical, olde timey pictures, and while not comprehensive it does offer concrete, entertaining and practical baby-tending skills for either parent! 

 

Scheduling/Sleep:

Moms on Call Many people loved this book and highly recommended it for the Baby Schedules alone! Plus the book gives bullet point outlines of practical advice for common medical issues (less comprehensive, but easier to follow than the AAP/Mayo books).  It is written by 2 nurses who answered help lines for parents for several years–the book itself is thin, but goes in detail on the care details (swaddle tips etc.) behind the schedule which make it work. It also has a simple App of just the schedules for about $4 http://momsoncall.com/moms-on-call-scheduler/, but doesn’t cover the other content/background as well. Their website has more details, plus has a free video on swaddling etc: http://momsoncall.com/  Many people swore by these schedules to get their kiddo to sleep through the night!  (It personally didn’t fit me my baby though, but even then some idea of scheduling was still useful; $18-20 for the tiny book was higher than other books per content, but anything to help sleep is priceless!)

EASY Method: Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg.  The EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You-time for you) Baby schedule is recommended by this ‘super nanny’ author; plus she covers some thoughts on talking to your baby/various personalities but mostly fills up the book  with lots of engaging anecdotes. A quick summary of her ideas of this flexible scheduling might be enough to get you through the busy newborn period- EASY especially seems to fit well the first few months with baby sleep patterns.  Many sources online summarize her simple EASY theory, like here: https://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/family/the-easy-routine-explained-111176

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. This is the ultimate sleep book/ number one parenting book is  Research based by a pediatric sleep specialist who’s done it for years. Every sleep article out there references him.  I enjoyed the data driven approach and it taught me essential concepts about sleep (and it debunks several things you might need). (My sleep deprived brain had trouble distilling useful things to concretely apply, but maybe it’s a better ‘read before you need it’ book!)

 

Soothing:

The Happiest Baby on the Block-5S’s to soothe in the first 3 months done by the pediatrician Harvey Karp (Note: I found the online video was super useful, faster and worth my time more than reading another book :P). On Vimeo for free with the core info (free version lacks the 20min extra Q&A that wasn’t worth the official video price tag in my mind) https://vimeopro.com/simexiwerksscreeningroom/happiest-baby-on-the-block/video/216203461  I did pay $9 for the streaming video directly from their website here though, I felt what I learned was worth supporting them.: https://www.happiestbaby.com/products/baby-streaming-video-english

Free video links on other soothing I liked:  Pediatrician Dr Robert Hamilton and the soothing hold: https://youtu.be/j2C8MkY7Co8

 

Delivery:

Expecting Better covered the science of several aspects of delivery (I referred back to it several times before birth; The Science of Mom (blog) covers delivery/baby care soon after.) 

One friend also recommended: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth  mostly anecdotes, but still empowering regarding natural birth/doulas if you are curious about that route (recommended by sciency people who found it opened their mind and after reading they appreciated having a doula and natural birth).  Interesting ideas (maybe worth getting used too), but in limited time there are a few related Ted Talks free online for an abridged/quicker version of some of the ideas. The author Ina May does a Ted Talk here in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9LO1Vb54yk  (Whatever you decide, the ‘removing fear’ from the birth process ideas might be helpful to you as they were to me ;P)  This Ted Talk about doula’s was also a neat thought on the birth process too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8CU7QqYsGE&vl=en

An aside- these labor belly dance videos helped with natural pain control for me labor before going to the hospital or once there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9K4bYlvzv8

 

Post-Kids Relationship:  

It can be a big change to  relationship, and many friends admitted it can be rough (plus add in sleep deprivation)!  Getting help or counseling is always a good option if you are having issues (several friends noted counseling doesn’t have to last forever-but it can be a big long lasting positive for better coping and communication)!  Also, post-partum depression is real and has many forms of expression- get help if you need it! https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or by calling your health care provider right away.  For milder or preventative relationship challenges these were good:

And Baby Makes Three by John M. Gottman PhD.  A research psychologist delves into the science of this big life transition, while also gives some very concrete communication, prioritization and other tools to do yourself or with your partner.  Concisely covers a ton of relevant stuff; has some quick worksheets that might make it worth getting a printed/kindle version to see.

Not really recommended- How Not to Hate Your Husband after Kids by Jancee Dunn.  A writer expresses her own quest against resentment, and covers (some research) on gender roles, chore division, communication etc.  It may help vent (if that title appeals to you), but overall it might get you more fired up rather than providing tools. This article review that summarizes some of her key points.  https://lifehacker.com/5-ways-not-to-hate-your-husband-after-kids-1794629282  (Again, read And Baby Makes Three for similar content, but a much more balanced, constructive and actionable information.)

 

Breastfeeding:

Thanks to Obamacare, Lactation Consultants tend to be provided. Many hospitals have them in house (or also have nurses trained to provide additional breastfeeding support).  In-person help is far more valuable than any book (and some in person classes before delivery through local hospitals might be a reasonable primer).  Here are other resources too:

Latch by Robin Kaplan M Ed IBCLC. A new book by a San Diego based Lactation Consultant.  This was excellent, short, informative- and had good color  illustrations on the various nursing holds, plus advice up through food introduction, pumping schedules at work, etc.  I found it through random searching but really enjoyed it and recommend it highly.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International.  A lactation consultant recommended this, and it is written by the La Leche League grassroots organization that promoted breastfeeding long before lactation consultants were a profession (2010 was the newest edition I found).  I didn’t read it myself, but a skim of the sample text online made think it was informative on lots of things but perhaps more wordy than the Latch book, but feel free to draw your own conclusions

Kellymom.com  Great website written by a lactation consultant.  Personable, reassuring, and generally fairly accurate to the limit of research in this area.  (This is a top online reference recommended by nost lactation consultants.) It is great to search later when you have questions (but you don’t necessarily need to peruse before.
Potty Training:  

This usually comes up later in life, but some methods start 6 months or much earlier on potty training to work with an infant’s natural bathroom instincts that theoretically might be ignored/suppressed with super effective disposable diapers.  

This could easily be it’s own blog post, but here are recs from a thoughtful friend on this recommending related references:  “potty training is where is see the most decision making in how you want to approach things and it’s a very poorly researched area. It may seem early, but you can actually start from day one with minimal diapers if you wanted to by using Elimination Communication, all laid out in the book Go Diaper Free by Andrea Olson (cheaper than Amazon on her website http://godiaperfree.com/ where book purchase includes digital text, audio version, online video library and a support group), or you can master cloth diapers or the disposable diaper and do normal potty training at 18 months plus using a method like Oh Crap! Potty Training  by Jamie Glowacki (used this with my first child with great success but didn’t know about other methods). With my second I’m using Diaper Free Before 3 and some Go Diaper Free and hope to have him trained well before two. We are making progress. He’s 11 months and pretty regularly goes on the potty now.”

 

Parenting Theory/Approaches:  

Many of these could be read later (and many might be good for Audiobook), although if you have more time when pregnant and want to get a head start here you go!  

Parenting Game Plan by Katie Marsh.  The idea and layout is good (workbook format of questions about parenting to talk about before/after you have kids with your partner); you may want to add more questions of your own, but this is a good start.

Montessori From the Start a sciency friend said it “has guided a lot of my choices in what we have in the house for the boys and a lot of what we don’t have (i.e. anything with batteries) and how I approach a lot of activities with them. I don’t buy into that one whole hog, but it’s really a good starting point for an educational perspective of those years.”

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting Covers one woman’s experience from birth to mid-childhood raising kids in Paris.  It provides a perspective on other ways to do things, emphasizing parent wellness and kid autonomy possibly more than some recent styles of American parenting.

What’s Going on in There?: How the Brain and the Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot PhD.  A fun read regarding baby brain development. 

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting  A friend noted “less good and I don’t agree with all of it, but I thought this was an important perspective also”

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk Much later (like 2+ years).

Posted in Parenting

Daily San Diego Library Events for Babies/Kids

The San Diego Public Library is amazing! There are lots of free programs targeting people of all ages, including impressive free, drop-in baby/toddler with parent options at various branches.  The link of all options can be searched by library branch here:  https://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/news-events

Here is a day-by-day list of highlights for those in the Central San Diego Area (Mission Valley, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach); although it’s not all inclusive and dates can change.  Confirm dates or find more at all branches here https://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/news-events

  • Monday:
    • 10-11am Toddler Story Time (La Jolla), weekly.
    • 11-11:45am Toddler Storytime (Mission Valley), weekly.
    • Noon Baby Sign Language (La Jolla), weekly.
  • Tuesday
    • 3-3:45 Baby Story Time (Mission Valley), weekly. (Sign language 1x/month, 3rd week?)
    • 6:30-7:30p PJ Storytime and Craft (Pacific Beach), weekly.
  • Wednesday:
    • 12:30-1:30 Toddler Yoga Session (La Jolla) 1x/month, usually ~3rd/4th week).
  • Thursday:
    • 10:30-11:30am Various Pacific Beach Programs for Babies/Toddlers (includes 1:Toddler Yoga/Storytime, 2: Dance Party/30minMovies, 3: Toddler Yoga, 4: Sign a Story etc on rotating basis/times).
    • 10:30-11:30am Preschool Story Time (La Jolla) weekly, except when Toddler Dance Party is going on (?1x/month, dancing rec for 18+months)
    • 11:30-noon Dance Pants: 0-8years (Mission Valley), 1x/month- first week?
  • Friday:
    • 10-11am Big Science for Little People (La Jolla) 1x/month, often 3rd week?.
    • 10:30-11:15am Baby Signing Storytime (Mission Valley), weekly.
  • Saturday:
    • 10:30-11:30 Wagging Tales-Reading to Therapy Dogs. (Pacific Beach), first week of month.
    • 11-Noon Storytime-includes older ages (La Jolla), varies 1-2x/month?

More useful notes:

  • Nothing needed to show up/participate! (No need to have a library card etc.)
  • Your San Diego library card will let you check out/return books at any location
  • The Friends of the Library cheap used book sales are a great way to stock up on some kids books while you’re there 🙂
  • The library has a wealth of free online offerings for books, magazines and even audiobooks (especially good for parents when getting to the library is tough!).  Learn more here: https://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/catalog-databases
Posted in Pre-Parenting

Cord Blood Banks: Intro to Pros/Cons and Comparisons

Whether to do a Free Public Cord Bank or Paid Private Cord Bank for your baby’s umbilical cord blood comes up during prenatal care (and should be decided before delivery to guarantee access to desired collection kits).   Here’s a scientific, unbiased review of what it entails:

Free Public Cord banks usually collect only umbilical cord blood. Paid Private Cord Banks vary by company and offer up to 3 different tissue collection/storage: umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue, and placental banking.  Umbilical cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells that can become any blood cell (red blood cell, white blood cell, etc)-and could help treat blood diseases like leukemia among other things.  The umbilical cord tissue itself also contains mesenchymal cells, which can be isolated and turn into a broader range of cells, which is much more experimental undergoing early testing. (These cell types are slightly different from the “embryonic stem cells” often in the news that can become any cell type- but umbilical collection is less controversial as these limited stem cells are essentially trash if not collected, and do not harm the infant as they are collected after cord clamping from tissue that would otherwise be discarded.) Some private cord banks advertise placental banking– which contains mesenchymal stem cells, doesn’t have standard accreditation for collection methods, and doesn’t add additional advantage since cord tissue mesenchymal cells can be triggered to divide to make additional copies– so at this point appears less relevant.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends free public cord banking for all (rather than private banking).  For anyone who needs stem cell treatments, a public bank is the likely source of those cells (rather than a private bank of your own cells- since your cells likely have the same genetic error that caused your disease).   I will include their citations below, but the AAP also summarizes its stance well here:

  • “Public cord blood banks serve patients worldwide by matching individuals in need. Private banks store the cord blood for the donor family’s potential self use, although there is little evidence supporting this use unless a family shares a known genetic defect.
  • Donation to a public cord blood bank is free. Private cord blood banks charge a placement fee of $1,350 to $2,300 and an annual maintenance fee of $100-$175.
  • Public cord blood banks are highly regulated by oversight accrediting institutions. Private cord blood banks may not meet stringent requirements, which can cause cord blood to be of lesser quality.
  • The rate that cord blood stems cells are utilized from a public bank is 30 times higher compared with private cord blood banks. Yet more cord blood donations from ethnic/minority populations are needed to meet increasing need.”

Official AAP Summary: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Encourages-Use-of-Public-Cord-Blood-Banks.aspx  

Detailed Nov 2017 Statement by AAP: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/140/5/e20172695

Non-Medical Summary of AAP Stance: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/Pages/Should-We-Store-Our-Newborns-Cord-Blood.aspx

However, private stem cell banking might be recommended to you by your doctor if you have a rare genetic condition or atypical/unclear diagnosis (neurologic, autoimmune, or other) in yourself or your family that might change the cost/benefit analysis towards private banking (sometimes you may do a private stem cell bank of one child to help another family member as well).   Furthermore, those with more disposable income may consider private stem cell banking a biologic “safe deposit box” that could be useful to that infant or another family member in the future based on their own cost/benefit analysis.  

I’d reiterate that there are very few negatives to public cord banking– if you’re unsure I recommend you go with a public cord bank. Ask your doctor or hospital in advance if they affiliiate public bank, or find out more information to do a mail in donation here in case they do not: https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/donationspot  or more general public donation information: https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/donate-cord-blood)  

Picking a Private Cord Bank:

I had a medical reason my doctor recommended that I consider private stem cell banking, so I researched it further…and even being a doctor myself I struggled to wade through the primarily biased company information that surfaced in most Google searches.  (This is an unpaid, unbiased article: I don’t get any kickbacks for any private stem cell companies, nor does this constitute medical advice.) This article is meant to share what I’ve learned to help inform others: if you’ve found other useful links feel free to share with me in the Contact Us page!

Below I attempted to list reputable sources of stem cell science to inform your own cost/benefit analysis of private cord banking for yourself and your family.  This informative non-profit started by an astrophysicist who lost his child to leukemia is a good place to start: https://parentsguidecordblood.org/  Distilling that and other websites, I have references for common questions in the process below:

What diseases can be treated by stem cells?

Umbilical cord blood (hematopoetic) stem cell based treatments are mostly for blood cell cancers (leukemia and related diseases).  Treatment is done via allogenic transplant– meaning the patient is NOT the person who donated the cells; the autologous (self-transplant) supported via private cord donation does NOT occur for most diseases.  (Most private stem cell banks advertise that 80 diseases can be treated, but gloss over the fact your infant is not likely to benefit from their own stem cells in that case.)  This nonprofit link has a very detailed, unbiased chart of what is being treated currently and experimentally via stem cells (the “Autologous” Column of the first charts are what is especially relevant for private umbilical cord blood banking; whereas “Allogeneic” categories are typically from a public stem cell bank):

https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases

Umbilical TISSUE (mesenchymal) cells are even more experimental than the blood stem cells, and are not used for standard treatments.  Research is investigating their use for a range of diseases along side cord blood referenced at links below.

What areas of research suggest future potential treatments?

Self (autologous) and other (allogeneic) umbilical cord blood treatments are undergoing experimental testing for a range of diseases here (lower in the page at Diseases and Disorders that have been in Clinical Trials with Cord Blood or Cord Tissue Cells) :  

https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases

Umbilical TISSUE (mesenchymal) cells are even more experimental than the blood stem cells, and are not used for standard treatments, and only researched for non-self (allogeneic) transfers thus far (which is different than the autologous transplant most private blood banks would advertise for your newborn):

https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases

How do you assess/compare the value of private stem cell banks?

  • Accreditation
  • Availability of cell type storage you desire, and collection options
  • Company viability and long-term durability, storage facility location (free from national disasters, with backup systems etc) and reliability: Better Business Bureau reviews, etc  
  • Number of cell samples stored and number of transplants
  • Pricing (and any hidden fees)
  • Shipping, collection and storage methods
  • Affiliated labs, research, etc
  • Other guarantees

If there is more interest in those topics, I’d be happy to include much more on each of those areas above- please Contact Us if you’d like to hear more.  

I published this article in the meantime to inform/provide a framework for those curious or who might be on a timeline to decide for this topic before delivery!  Many sources say by week 28-34 is recommended to decide/research your wishes.  For private cord banking you need your desired company’s collection kit in hand to bring to the hospital in order to be sure to collect the stem cells (and often have to pay a $100-200 deposit before, which may or may not be refundable if you don’t collect).  If you look into this late like me–many companies will Express mail/Overnight this kit, often if at no cost to you if it is later in pregnancy; however, most hospitals don’t have private cord kits on hand or only limited offerings.  Companies happily staff their phones to answer questions since they want your business- so feel free to call and compare several to find what you want.

This unbiased government website provides more information on the timeline and process of cord collection (particularly for a free public bank): https://bloodcell.transplant.hrsa.gov/cord/options/donating/index.html

 

Posted in Parenting

Parent Fun: Daily Options in San Diego

Whether home on Parental Leave or Full-Time, or you just have a Day Off with the kid(s)–there are lots of things you can do!  Life can be unpredictable, so having some fun drop-in options (with an emphasis on parent happiness!) is great!  San Diego offerings are below (and seeing the type of options here might help you search for ones of interest in your area too)!  This continues to be a work in progress…feel free to Contact Us with more suggestions!

Any day activities!  There are a wealth of options anytime you can do it!  (When my baby gives me free time, I’ll insert more links, but you can google in the meantime!)

Additional Lists of Ideas:

There’s so much out there!  Enjoy!