Avoiding Poisonous Houseplants

Poison control centers nationwide receive many calls yearly regarding children ingesting houseplants. And with summer ending, many people are bringing their prized plants inside. Most plants are safe and beneficial, helping to purify our stale indoor air. However, some plants contain toxins and should not be in reach of children and pets.

Angel's Trumpet

Angel's Trumpet smells heavenly but keep it away from children.

Do you know which plants are toxic? Many lists are available on-line that name toxic houseplants and tell you which parts of the plants are toxic; however, you need to familiarize yourself with what they look like. The best way to avoid toxic plants is to brush up on your plant identification. Don’t bring plants inside that are known to be toxic. Or better yet, don’t grow them. If you do have a toxic houseplant in your home, keep it out of children’s reach and label it. It is recommend that you tie a label on the plant’s branches. Include the botanical name of the plant and label it at toxic and name which parts of the plant are toxic (roots, leaves, berries, etc.) Ask others to do the same in their home (grandparents, family members, friends).

It is also important to teach your children to not consume plants and berries found outside or inside that are not edible. However, we know that children learn about the world through oral exploration. Children at this stage will stick things in their mouths and it is our job to make sure harmful items are out of their reach. For children old enough, The American Association of Poison Control Centers have tips for poison control for children. Their site also has a section of Poison Control Tips for Children with a short educational video.

Families should have the number to their local poison centers handy in case of accidental ingestion. You can find the number on the American Association of Poison Control Centers website. There is also a standard 1-800 number that will work anywhere (great for when you travel to grandma’s or if you’re on vacation). Put this number in your phone. Share this number with your babysitter, family member, anyone that watches your child while you are away.

The good news (being optimistic here) is that very large quantities of consumption of toxic plants will cause a severe reaction. Small quantities may only cause mild irritation and discomfort. Most children that are exposed to toxic plants usually consume a small amount and suffer only from mild irritation.

Do you have more tips regarding toxic houseplants? If so, please share.


*Beautiful Angel’s trumpet pic from Ewa in the Garden.

One Mom’s Tips for Avoiding Sibling Rivalry

When I had my second child, I wanted to make sure that they would become best friends. I wanted to avoid sibling rivalry as much as possible.

The first thing I did was whenever I talked about the baby it was “our baby” or “her baby sister”. We casually talked about how she was going to be a big sister and she would get to teach the baby lots of new stuff. After my second daughter was born, Princess G, we had her big sister come right away. Princess A was 28 months at the time. She remembers coming to the hospital and meeting her little sister.

When I got home I followed some great advice: don’t always go to the baby first.  If I was doing something for my oldest I would say out loud “Princess G, I will be there in a minute I am helping your sister.” Of course the baby did not understand me but my oldest did.  I think it really helped that I did not always rush to the baby. My oldest felt as though she was just as important. I also used one of the baby’s naps to take the time and play with Princess A. Her favorite memories of that time were when we would play in the snow and then have hot cocoa to warm up. We were never outside more than 15 minutes (dressing took longer, lol) but to her it was an eternity with just mommy. She also got to go on a few dates with Daddy too!

I made sure that things were pretty even or at least appeared even to them.  As they got older I emphasized that we share in our house. They have their special stuffed animal and a doll or two that they don’t have to share but everything else they share. I point out to them that if they share toys then they have a bigger variety. For example, instead of buying them both the same doll, I buy one in blue and the other in pink. They now have different dolls. I knew I was getting through to them when at my oldest birthday she received a present with two Barbie ballerinas in the package and she turned to ask me which one was hers. I told her since it was her birthday she could pick.

BabyLegs Spring 2012
They do argue with each other on occasion but it does not last long. First, they know I won’t be happy and they also won’t like my solution. If they do argue, which is about once a week, it is over a toy or that my oldest wants to read instead of playing. In our house sharing and kindness is how we are as a family. My girls see my husband and me being kind and sharing. My husband and I rarely argue, about twice a year, and we always talk softly and very respectfully.

The best way to avoid sibling rivalry is to treat your kids fair and with love. Things are not always perfectly even but when things are not I ask them what I can do to even things up, and usually they come up with a great idea and everyone is happy!

*Post by Noreen, a BabyLegs Mom.

The NICU Journey

A Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is a nursery within a hospital that specializes in caring for sick and preterm newborns. Most babies who spend the longest times in the NICU are born too early and for most families, like mine, this will be a sudden and unexpected experience. The days, weeks, and months to follow are emotionally draining. Families must endure waves of emotional highs and lows as their newborn goes through “good days” and “bad days”. Coping with these triumphs and setbacks can be difficult, but the NICU journey is an opportunity for immense bonding with your newborn. Here, I will share some tips to hopefully help someone get through this time.

  • The most important thing for you, as a mother, is to take care of yourself; physically and mentally. You cannot help your baby if you are not well.
    • Follow your provider’s orders for after-delivery care, especially if you had a cesarean. Do not drive, climb stairs, or carry heavy bags. You risk re-opening the incision.
    • Set a routine and stick to it. Include your meals, adequate time for sleep, and general hygiene in your schedule. This will help you rebuild your strength and maintain your physical and mental health. Also, set reminders to take your medications, if any.
    • Talk to someone about your emotions. A professional can help you understand your feelings (and once I was comfortable enough to talk with the nurses and social workers, I learned that most families of NICU babies deal with the same feelings of shock, helplessness, anger, guilt, and fear that I was experiencing). Talk to other families in the NICU, or join online forums or support groups to share stories. These “strangers” can be most comforting to you.
  • While you remain a patient in the hospital, you may want to request a private room. You may find it difficult to be around mothers with healthy newborns.
  • Get to know the staff and your baby’s caretakers, and make an effort to develop a rapport with them. There will be nurses, doctors, specialists, surgeons, social workers, lactation consultants, and more. Ask questions about the equipment, your baby’s condition, and procedures. These people are there to help. Become informed.
  • You are a crucial member in the team of providers for you baby’s care. Be involved. You will have almost 24-hour access to the nursery. You can also call at any time you desire. Once your baby is stable enough, you will be able to hold, bathe, feed, change, and dress him. You can coordinate these tasks with your baby’s nurse. Communicate your schedule to them, however, participation will all be based on your baby’s response and tolerance at the time, so be prepared for plans to change. I am a very reserved person, so I initially took a back-seat approach here. I felt uncomfortable in the beginning…like a stranger or just a visitor. I was not sure of what was expected of me or what was allowed of me. I was nervous to even put a blanket or cap back on my daughter if she wiggled out of it. Once I developed that rapport with the nurses, I felt more comfortable and was able to appropriately participate in her care.
  • Keep a calendar of dates and/or a journal. Record information on your baby’s health, progress, and treatments, special moments/events, and difficult times. In the future, you will want to remember all of the moments during this special time. I carried a notebook with me everywhere during the 44 days my daughter was in the NICU. No matter where I was, when I received information, I recorded it. My husband was not always with me, so rather than letting my stressed mind fail me, I could turn to my notebook and give him a complete run-down on our daughter’s day. A journal can also be a place for you to express your feelings to relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Take advantage of Kangaroo Care (skin-to-skin contact). This method of contact has been proven beneficial to parents and newborns. It has an overwhelming calming effect and is the ultimate bonding experience between the mother/father and baby. It can help alleviate symptoms of mood disorders. The newborn’s growth rate can increase, overall health has been seen to improve, and the baby is able to regulate their heart rate, breathing, and maintain a proper body temperature.
  • It is OK to not be at your baby’s crib-side 24-hours a day (as long as your schedule is communicated to the nurse). I struggled with this. Even when my daughter was in stable condition, I did not want to leave her side (I felt like I was abandoning her). I wanted to spend every waking minute with her. However, I did have another child at home that needed me as well. At our hospital, siblings (children) were allowed to visit once per week, between certain hours, so on that day every week, my husband and I gave our time and attention to our older daughter. We visited the baby as a family, and spent the rest of the day doing something special with her.
  • Know that only your baby can determine when he will be going home. The doctors and nurses cannot give you a date or time. More than likely, you will be told only hours before discharge. Rather than asking the doctor, “When can he come home?”, ask, “What are the tasks he needs to achieve before he can come home?” Expect your baby to be in the hospital until his actual due date, at least. My daughter was born 9 weeks early, so we planned on her being in the hospital for 9 weeks.

Our NICU journey was one of the most trying times in our lives. My daughter and this experience has changed my life forever. Through this journey, miracles were witnessed, faith was restored, and doors were opened. Her fight has been such an inspiration to me. Due to complications with pre-eclampsia, my daughter was born at 31 weeks gestation. She weighed 3 pounds, 12.8 ounces, and was 17.5 inches in length. We were able to bring her home on April 15, 2009, when she was 44 days old. She is now a beautiful, healthy, 2 1/2 year-old, with the same strong will she was born with. We are so very blessed.

About the Blogger:

Hi! My name is Tanya. I am a stay at home mom and a full time nursing student from South Jersey. I am married and have been blessed with 2 beautiful and healthy little girls, aged 2 years and 7 years. I love gardening, baking, crafting, and a good belly laugh!