Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dangers in the Medicine Cabinet

Michael Jackson’s Death is a Tragic Reminder to Keep Prescriptions Out of the Hands of Children
By Stephanie Felzenberg, Editor of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter.

Just like Anna Nicole Smith and Heath Ledger, it seems likely that the death of Michael Jackson may have been caused by prescription drugs. It is a tragic reminder that medication can be lethal when misused and we must keep children protected from both over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

In the United States, it is estimated that about 2,500 teens daily abuse prescription "legal" drugs for the first time. Most of them get those drugs from the family medicine cabinet.

According to the 2008 Monitoring the Future survey, 15.4% of high school seniors have used prescriptions and over the counter medications found in their homes for non-medical purposes in the past month.

According to The Partnership for a Drug-Free America one in five teens has abused a prescription pain medication. One in five teens report they have abused prescription stimulants and tranquilizers. One in ten teens has abused cough medicine.

Deepak Chopra, a new age guru who is a trained cardiologist explains, “The number-one cause of drug addiction in the world, and particularly in the United States, is not street drugs but medical prescriptions given legally by physicians."

After surgery or dental work many patients are prescribed narcotic pain killers. In fact, thousands of Americans in chronic pain safely take prescribed narcotic pain killers daily. The prescribing of narcotics is common and useful when used properly by the patient.

But, if after a surgery or dental work a patient is prescribed narcotics and only take a few pills, they ought to discard the rest. No point in keeping dangerous narcotics in a home with children. Before discarding the narcotics remove the labels on the prescription to discourage teens finding the drugs in the garbage and to protect the patient from identity theft. Those addicted to drugs may search trash cans to find names of others to fill narcotic prescriptions.

If someone in the household is taking pain killers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or cough medicine adults must secure medications. The bathroom medicine cabinet is the first place kids will look for drugs. Teens wanting to get "high" will visit the homes of friends, ask to use the bathroom, and go straight for the medicine cabinet. Remove prescription medications from the family medicine cabinet and hide or secure them in a safe place. Even some over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup containing dextromethorphan, should also be secured in a safe location.

The Monitoring the Future survey found that most teens do not consider prescription or over-the-counter drugs as dangerous as illicit drugs, because they are legal and are prescribed by a doctor. Therefore, the best way to prevent teen abuse of drugs is to sit down and talk with them.

According to The Partnership for a Drug-Free America parents must explain to their children that pharmaceuticals taken without a prescription or a doctor's supervision can be just as dangerous as taking illicit drugs or alcohol. Children are known take medication to get “high” at as young as 12-years-old. So, the discussion about the dangers of prescription medications should start when children are young.

See how to properly administer children medicine by clicking here. To review au pair and nanny proper medical practices can be found by clicking here. Visit the AntiDrug web site for more tips to prevent prescription drug abuse.

3. The Monitoring the Future Survey included 46,348 students from 386 public and private schools in the 8th, 10th and 12th grades. The survey is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. For additional information regarding the Monitoring the Future study, please e-mail

Does the family you work for keep medications in the medicine cabinet? Do you feel comfortable asking them to move medications after reading this article?

Affording a nanny

Parents often believe a nanny is too expensive and are surprised by how affordable a nanny can be.

By Michelle Barbee

The best childcare is affordable, convenient, safe, nurturing, and educational and has a low child-adult ratio. Daycare centers, home daycares and nannies can all fit these criteria, but many parents don’t even consider a nanny as a child care option for their children. Parents often believe a nanny is too expensive and are surprised by how affordable a nanny can be.

In some situations, a nanny is the most affordable childcare option. For instance, if a family has three or more young children, a daycare center would be more expensive than a nanny. If a family only needs part-time childcare, a nanny can be less expensive than a daycare center with the added benefit of some light housekeeping. A nanny can also be the most flexible childcare option if you need transportation for your children or if you need extended care.

To read entire article please visit: Affording a Nanny

Pack Your Bags For A Fun-Filled Trip With Barney & Friends™ In An All-New DVD!

Barney™: Let’s Go On Vacation
From Lionsgate And HIT Entertainment

When nannies and au pairs plan to travel with two- to five-year olds this summer don't forget to pack a portable DVD player and the new DVD Barney™: Let’s Go On Vacation.

Featuring fun stories never-before-seen on TV, Barney, Baby Bop, B.J. Riff, and playground friend Emma travel to Mexico (via their imaginations and the Travel Book) where they meet new amigos Fernan and Amalita. Together they sample Mexican foods, have a lesson in Spanish and enjoy a pinata party. The trip ultimately turns into a singing and dancing celebration of the differences and similarities between cultures and the group quickly learns that the things that matter most – family and friends – are the same the world over.

The Emmy award-winning series, Barney and Friends™ changed the face of children’s programming when it first launched and continues to be one of the top-rated preschool shows today, airing on PBS KIDS® and PBS KIDS SproutSM.

• Bonus Episode of Roary the Racing Car™: “Roary’s™ Day At the Seaside”
• Pack a Suitcase with Barney - Help Barney decide what to bring for his upcoming vacation!
• Barney’s Travel Checklist
• 3 Spanish Sing-Alongs: “Bombachio” (Mr. Kickerbocker”) “Si Las Gotas de Lluvia” (“If All the Raindrops”) “Te Quiero Yo” (“I Love You”)

Year of Production: 2009
Title Copyright: © 2009 HIT Entertainment Limited. © 2009 Lyons Partnership, L.P.
The Barney name and character, related characters and the overlapping dino spots and Barney and star logos are trademarks of Lyons Partnership, L.P. Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. and other countries.
Type: Home Entertainment Premiere
Rating: NR
Genre: Children/Family
Age Target: 2-5 years old
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned: English Closed Captioned
Format: Full Screen Feature
Running Time: Approximately 52 Minutes
DVD Audio Status: English and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Program

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brain Drain

Kids are like sponges. Don't let them dry out this summer.

"Brain drain" describes a phenomenon that occurs when kids are on extended vacation from school. Studies show that children tend to forget school lessons from the last month or two of school. Especially vulnerable are math skills.

This brain drain is not inevitable. Your response should be to engage your charges in intellectually stimulating activities during the summer and all year long.

Give the kids a leg up instead of starting a step behind. Anticipate the coming school year. Find out what the kids will be studying and engage the children on the subjects.

Keep the television turned off. Instead of watching television get the school’s summer reading list and go to the library. Discuss books the children are reading.

Don’t forget summer learning opportunities locally such as museums, the zoo, aquariums, concerts, and parks that you don’t usually get to attend during the school year.

Incorporate math into their daily lives. Sports statistics and cooking measurements are easy ways to teach math while engaged in everyday activities. Counting steps is another way to encourage math while boosting a healthy lifestyle. Counting apples and weighing produce while grocery shopping keeps young children using math skills. Paying with real money and counting the change helps older children learn an important life skill. Plus, have the children practice doing math problems they might have to do at school. Have them complete five to 10 math problems from a grade-appropriate workbook a few times a week.

Help the children make a summer journal. Allow children to snap photos of activities they do and places they visit using disposable or digital cameras. Then have them write down the fun things they do all summer long. Just a few sentences will suffice. Also encourage children to write postcards and letters to family and friends to practice writing this summer.

You should encourage a rich, stimulating and productive learning experiences for your charges during the summer so that they can get into the habit of applying themselves with focus and energy. If you keep it simple and fun children will do it for enjoyment and the positive reinforcement.

What are your favorite learning activities to do with children during the summer?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Don't Flip Flop on Foot Safety

More summer safety tips for au pairs and nannies.

Let's continue to discuus the topic of summer safety that we started last week. Think of summer and you may invoke images of your charges wearing flip flops. Cool, easy-on and easy-off, flip flops are a favorite summer footwear. But should they be?

Flip flops certainly seem appropriate for use on the beach and at a pool. They protect the feet from hot sand and hot concrete. Plus, they are light, convenient, and easy to wash.

Except for those limited uses, other footwear is better for the active children. Flip flops provide poor arch support, can irritate the soles, and change the child's walk, putting pressure on the back and hips.

Foot protection and foot safety are vital aspects of summer safety. Children cannot safely run on a playground in flip flops. Not only do wood chips hurt their exposed feet, they are more likely to trip while climbing and getting off the playground equipment.

Flip flops are impractical for hiking in the woods. Not only are children more likely to trip and twist an ankle in flip flops, they provide little (if any) traction on slippery surfaces and provide no protection from bugs and scraps and scratches from twigs and branches. Flip flops do not protect the feet from irritations like poison ivy commonly found in the woods.

Making sure play shoes are properly fitted are a given. Attention should also be given to the socks. Modern synthetic fibers provide comfort and wick moisture away from the feet. Keeping the feet dry keeps the feet cooler and helps prevent athlete’s foot, a fungal infection.

You must meticulously clean and dry your charges' feet at least once a day. Make sure the nails are trimmed and that there is no fungus or discolored nails. Be alert for injuries, abrasions, blisters, calluses, or corns.

When you chase those kids, be sure they are running on healthy feet.

Do your charges wear flip flops? Have they had any issues with shoes during the summer?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Children's Father's Day Books

Weekly Trip to the Library for Au Pairs and Nannies

A Father's Song
By Janet Lawler
In lyrical and charming verse, a father expresses his deep love for his child. With its warm text and lively illustrations that capture a fun day at the park, it's the perfect Father's Day picture book.

Butterfly Kisses
By Brooke Carlisle
This gift book contains the story of"Butterfly Kisses" plus the lyrics of thesong with pictures of fathers and daughtersin various stages of growth and life-fromchildhood and adolescence to the teenyears, graduation from high school, andmarriage. The entire book is filled with emotion and beauty,with full-color photography and design

I Love My Daddy Because...
By Laurel Porter-Gaylord
This beloved, best-selling book, is a board book for small hands. The youngest nursery tots will appreciate how phrases and actions from their own experiences also apply to animal babies. Each book begins with an affectionate scene between a human parent and child, but moves on to care giving in animal families. "She listens when I talk" shows a mama cat and her mewing kitten. "She tucks me in" features a kangaroo with her joey peeking out of her pouch. "He sings me songs" shows a gray wolf and his cub. In concept, text, and art, these are among the most warm and reassuring lap books ever.

More Father's Day children's books are listed in the June 2009 Be the Best Nanny Newsletter. Stop by our blog next Saturday for more book reviews.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh No: The Nanny Is Leaving

Check out the cute article on
By Joan Indiana Rigdon
I found salvation in our nanny. How am I going to stay sane and work without her?

Father's Day Gifts to Make With Children

Father's Day is Sunday, June 21, 2009. Nannies and au pairs should not be expected to spend a fortune on gifts for their Dad Bosses (as we often call our employers). But, if you are an in-home childcare provider it is common to help the children make a card and gift for their father for Father's Day.

Some popular ideas include:

A personalized mug: Buy a kit at the craft store and have the children paint or color the mug for their father.

Picture frame: Either buy an inexpensive frame for the children to decorate or they can make their own gluing together Popsicle sticks or craft sticks. Place a photo of the child(ren) in the frame as a keepsake.

A book written for fathers: The book can be a children's book about a father's love for his children that your Dad Boss can read to his children or a book written for father's in family section of a book store.
A personalized t-shirt, cap, or tie: Using fabric paints children can personalize clothing for their father.

Hand print stepping stone: Kits for hand print stepping stones are available at craft stores.

Tennis balls or golf balls: What sport does the father play? Purchase equipment for the sport.

Sports team t-shirts or caps: Find the father's favorite sports team clothing at a local sports store.

What are you doing for your Dad Boss for Father's Day?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New York Nanny Took Cold Medicine, Slept While Baby Drowned in Mop Bucket

Yesterday we discussed water safety for nannies and au pairs.

Yesterday Fox News calls a New York childcare worker a nanny but she was really a daycare worker. Regardless of the caregiver's job title a tragic drowning is a reminder to all nannies and au pairs to closely monitor children around water.

NEW YORK — A prosecutor says a New York City baby sitter took cold medicine and slept as an 11-month-old boy fell head-first into a bucket of water and died.

Distraught relatives of James Farrior screamed at Krystal Khan as she appeared in court Tuesday. Bail was set at $5,000.

Paramedics were called to Khan's home in Queens on Monday. The 28-year-old Khan has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Police say Khan told them she had stepped out of her living room briefly and returned to find the child in the mop bucket.

The medical examiner says further tests are needed to determine the exact cause of death.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown says Khan faces as much as a year in jail if convicted.

The name of her attorney was not immediately on record.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top 3 Rules of Water Safety for Nannies and Au Pairs

Supervise, Supervise, Supervise
Swimming, boating, fishing --- water sports are among the favorite activities in the summer. Everyone seems to want to be near the water, or in it, during the summer, Whether at ocean, lake or pool, chances are that you will have to take care of your charges while they are engaged in water sports.

Safety, of course, is a primary concern. Understanding that even toddlers can drown in an inch of water, the challenge for you is to ensure safe usage and respect for the danger without instilling fear.

The top three rules for water safety is supervise, supervise, and supervise. Do not leave your charges unattended, even momentarily. You must be aware, prepare, but do not scare.

All water activities require thorough preparation. You must know CPR in the event of an emergency. Rescue equipment and a telephone should always be readily available. Properly fitted flotation devices such as certified life vests or life jackets should be used by children. Plastic or vinyl blow-up devices are toys, not safety gear. And remember, the ability of the child to swim does not equal water safety.

Pools, especially home pools, pose special challenges to childcare providers. Home pools must have proper fences; fences that are high, self-locking, and able to stop children from getting into the pool area unsupervised. It is the your responsibility to be certain that all drains, pumps, and protective devices are secure and operating properly.

Public pools also require close scrutiny and supervision. You must be certain that lifeguards and safety equipment are available. It is your responsibility to remove your charges from inappropriate play and dangerous activities while in or near the pool.

Beach safety mandates awareness of local conditions. You must know the weather forecast and be alert to sudden or looming changes of weather conditions. You must be alert to hazards, such as jellyfish or manta rays, and understand the meaning of the local flag warning system. Be certain lifeguards are on duty if the kids go into the water. You must know about water quality, rip current,s and other in-water hazards. Sand can get into the kids' eyes and other openings and crevices, so be prepared for it.

Whether in a boat, canoe, or raft, whether on a lake, river, or bay, children must wear a Coast Guard approved safety flotation device. And you must inform your charges of proper behavior while in a water vehicle, and insist on obedience.

All these precautions should become a natural part of summer water safety, allowing the children to enjoy themselves in a safe environment.

Another aspect of water safety is proper hydration. Summer activities will probably cause children to require more liquid. Water is the best drink for kids. No need to force liquids; kids will tell you when they get thirsty. Sports drinks, loaded with sodium and sugar, are not necessary and should not be given to children unless advised to by a medical professional. Drinks that contain caffeine are not appropriate for children, and caffeine can dehydrate children more.

Raise a full glass of water to a safe summer.

Do you get in the water with the children you care for during the summer?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Don’t Be Bugged

You may be a bit of a pest to your charges, but sometimes you have to bug them to protect them.

Similarly to sun damage, protection from insect bites is best accomplished by prevention. Avoiding areas known to harbor flying insects and ticks goes a long way to prevent bites. Early morning and early evening are the usual times of most activity by insects. Light-colored and long-sleeved tops and long pants, with socks on the outside over the cuffs, help in preventing bug bites.

Avoid areas with bug zapping devices --- they attract more flying insects than they kill. Avoid local weather conditions that exacerbate bug problems --- such as lack of wind or wind from a certain direction. Avoid stagnant water, whether in natural or in man made locales.

DEET is the most potent and most effective chemical insect repellent. It is best used on outer clothing, which is then washed after use. If applied to the skin, use sparingly and at low concentrations. And then only to ward off insects that pose a threat to health, such as ticks or mosquitoes. Apparently bug repellent also makes sunscreen less effective.

Natural repellents, such as oil of citronella or lemongrass, are less effective than DEET and more appropriate for pesky bugs, such as gnats. Discontinue use of any insect repellent that causes a rash or other negative reaction. The way the repellent feels on the skin or the odor of insect repellents may be objectionable to child or adult. If you are unfamiliar with any ingredient and need more information, search the web site.

Clip-on insect repellents are now available. Initial reviews say that they are easy to assemble. Battery powered, they are said to be effective up to 12 hours and emit no odor.

After being outdoors, examine the child, the pet, and yourself for ticks and other bites. Be alert for any bull’s-eye rashes or infected insect bites. You should be able to identify and distinguish between a dog tick and a deer tick. If in doubt, bring the tick to a health care professional.

If the child is allergic to bee or wasp stings, have the appropriate emergency treatment always available, and in a few locations, such as in the car and in your bag. Some children have EpiPens others may only need a bug bite reliever (we like AfterBite for kids).

Home remedies for insect bites include witch hazel, alcohol, a tiny bit of ammonia, and ice cubes or an ice pack to reduce swelling. It is better to plan for itchy bites by getting an age-appropriate remedy suggested by your physician or pharmacist. Do not apply and cortisone based preparation, whether prescription or over-the -counter, to the child unless directed to do so by a physician. Applying ice or cold compress to the affected area is a safer choice as first aid.

What remedies do you use to treat bug bites?

The Au Pair Experience by Washington Post

The Washington Post
The Au Pair Experience
By Stacey Garfinkle

The recession's been hitting home in all sorts of ways. And as parents lose their jobs, so, too, do their nannies, writes Annie Gowen in The Washington Post. Nannies in the D.C. region average about $16 per hour, Gowen writes, a huge sum for most of us to swallow.

Usually, when parents talk about child-care choices, nannies or day care lead the list. Sure, there's the lucky family who can ask a grandparent. But there is one less talked about option available: the au pair.

The au pair program is run through the State Department with au pair agencies pairing families with foreigners with child care experience who want to live and travel in America for a year and improve their English. The French term means "on par" and that's how these family helpers are meant to be.

Au pairs are young adults, aged 18 to 26 who spend a year living in your home. Having them there is a little like having an adult sibling living at home. They get paid for their work and are expected to go to school for part of the time they are here. They cook their own meals and clean up after themselves. And they provide child care and do other child-related tasks for between 10 and 45 hours per week depending on a family's needs. Families are also expected to help them experience the culture here. Comparatively speaking, au pairs will cost a family about $17,000 per year; a nanny working 45 hours per week would earn about $37,000.

While nannies are facing a higher unemployment rate, the demand for au pairs has been on the rise, says Elizabeth Boa, who is a local Cultural Care Au Pair program coordinator. "Data from the U.S. Department of State, which regulates the au pair program, shows that nearly 22,000 au pairs came to the United States last year, up 44% from 2004." Cultural Care is one of the au pair agencies in the region.

So, what's it really like to have foreigners living in your house, taking care of your kids, particularly from a practical standpoint? Single mom Laura Jones has 2 kids, ages 4 and 6. She's now employing her second au pair and has been pleased with the program. Jones needed flexible child care that didn't require her to take off work every time her children were sick. Because nannies were so expensive, she chose the au pair route. There were only a few agencies to choose from, she said. When selecting an au pair, she sought out the advice of other families. Because she had fairly young children, others told her to "tap someone with lots of child care experience. Someone a little older because if they are going to drive, they would make the insurance expensive [if they were too young]." Particularly in the Washington, D.C., area, Jones recommends families hire older au pairs. "There’s a lot to deal with in Washington when you’re 18 or 19. It’s too much to ask."

Other tips from Jones: "Find someone who doesn't have a boyfriend or girlfriend back home and someone who has an outgoing personality who can make friends easily because it’s a difficult transition."

To see rest of article click here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nannies No Longer Rule the Roost

Parents Regain Economic Power to Be Picky in Hiring Help
In Washington Post

By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Potomac mother of five used to prepare for interviews with prospective nannies like a Hollywood audition. She cleaned her house, made sure the children were quietly coloring and "glamified" the family's lifestyle, which includes regular trips overseas. She capped off talks with a tour of an au pair suite so deluxe it was mentioned in a glossy home magazine.

This year, the pressure is off. When she recently posted an ad online for a new nanny, she was inundated with responses from qualified candidates and unemployed women seeking a job, any job. She ended up hiring a nanny agency to vet candidates.

A fundamental shift of power has occurred in Washington in recent months, and it has nothing to do with politics. For decades, good nannies were a hot commodity in a town rife with workaholics, where the percentage of working women is higher than the national average. The best nannies had to be snapped up immediately and kept happy with regular raises and other benefits, lest they be poached right off the playground by conniving parents.

In the past six to eight months, though, agencies report a deluge of available nannies as parents losing their jobs or downsizing turn to cheaper child-care options, including staying at home. Neighborhood e-mail lists are bristling with parents posting jobs for their former nannies. ("Dream nanny available immediately!") Real-life Mary Poppinses who once had their pick of jobs are finding themselves out of work for weeks, or months, at a time.

Parents have more choices, and some are thrilled about it.

"Before, I felt like they were interviewing us. . . . Now, I'll be in the driver's seat," said Lesley Kalan, a consultant from Alexandria who is seeking a nanny for her three children.

Lorna Spencer, co-owner of A Choice Nanny in Columbia, said that her business is down 50 percent in the past year and that the number of out-of-work nannies she is trying to place has doubled. Spencer used to have 10 qualified candidates to send to families; now she has 20 or more.

“We're finding a lot of parents getting laid off, and they have to let the nannies go," she said. "We have many nannies desperate for work . . . calling us every day."

Even in good times, nannies have little job security and work for relatively low wages. A nanny in the Washington area makes about $16 an hour, according to a survey by the International Nanny Association. About 13 percent of nannies across the country reported being unemployed last year, up from 8 percent in 2006, according to association estimates.

Liz Caceres, 34, of Rockville lost her nanny job with a District family earlier this year after the father was laid off, she said. She returned from Christmas vacation and learned that the family wanted to slash her hours to one day a week.

Finding another position was tough, Caceres said. She placed an ad online but did not receive a single call. After a month, however, she was able to network her way to new employment through some babysitting connections.

During boom times, nannies had their pick of positions and handsome benefits, according to Barbara Kline, president of White House Nannies, a placement agency in Bethesda.

"I've heard nannies deliberate between a swimming pool and a Lexus, between a month of paid vacation and a trip to Europe with the family," Kline wrote in "White House Nannies: True Tales from the Other Department of Homeland Security," her 2005 memoir. "Stock options and signing bonuses were also common nanny lures."

Most of those perks evaporated as the economy faltered, Kline said.

Nannies and nanny agencies report that the power shift appears to have gone to some parents' heads. Prospective employers are offering some candidates salaries well below average and pushing them to handle additional tasks such as housecleaning. Some families have tried to deduct "rent" from live-in nannies' salaries -- unheard of before the economic downturn, according to Debra Weiss, director of placement services for Staffing Solutions@Mothers' Aides in Fairfax Station.

"It's unbelievable," said Ali Burket, 28, a government affairs specialist in Alexandria who is giving up her nanny in favor of cheaper day care but is trying to help the nanny find another job. "When we hired our nanny a year ago, the difference was like night and day. The nannies were setting the terms, and it was very much a seller's market. Now my poor nanny can't find a job."

One woman wanted to pay the nanny $300 a week to care for two children and do all the housework. "It's insulting," Burket said. "Her attitude was like, 'You should be happy with what you get because of the economy.' "

Jaclyn Gobuluk, owner of Metropolitan Nannies in Herndon, said that in the past six months, she has noticed that some parents make clear their preference for a college-educated, American nanny, even if the hire has less child-rearing experience than an immigrant nanny might have. Most do not say it directly, Gobuluk says.

"They want American nannies now. . . . They feel like there are so many choices out there, they're going to be really picky and that's the best choice for their children," Gobuluk said. "I had one client who said, 'My child doesn't like anybody with brown hair. Find somebody with blond hair.' I'm like, 'Hmm. Your child doesn't like somebody, or you don't like somebody, with brown hair?' We want people to be comfortable, but that's pushing it."

When a former employer of nanny Karen Taylor recently posted a job-search note on her behalf on a private school e-mail list, she described Taylor as "the closest person we have ever met to Mary Poppins."

Taylor, 39, a Fairfax County resident, has 21 years of local experience, makes double the going hourly rate and attended nanny school -- graduating from the American Nanny Plan in Claremont, Calif., two decades ago.

But since losing her job seven months ago -- the single father who employed her was downsizing -- she has had trouble finding another position.

Family and friends have helped her with living expenses, but it is scary, she said, because "I have no safety net."

"This is the worst I've ever seen it," Taylor said. "We're all kind of surprised at how long it's taking" to find work.

Kalan, the mother from Alexandria, describes the luxury of having many candidates to choose from after the birth of son Cooper this spring. She recalls once having to settle for a nanny who did not drive.

Now she expects to hire someone who can not only drive but speak Spanish and English fluently, someone who is good with her newborn and able to engage the two older children.

Kalan's dream nanny is someone who would be "in our yard blowing bubbles with my 4-year-old, helping them set up the kiddie pool, having tea parties with my daughter and playing school. . . . My list of demands is getting a little longer now," she said.

Sun Safety By The Numbers

Sun Safety for Au Pairs and Nannies

The days are longer, the weather is nicer, and you and the kids are out in the sun more often. You should be aware of the dangers of too much sun to yourself and to your charges. Prevention is the correct approach to proper sun care. Besides staying inside all day or wearing long sleeves and long pants all summer, the formula for the summer and the sun is found in the numbers.

10 to 2: The sun is most intense between 10 AM and 2 PM. Try to avoid exposure and activities in the sun during those hours.

15: Sunscreen is essential when time is spent outside, even in the shade or on a cloudy day. An SPF rating of 15 is fine for adults and children. Higher SPF ratings may provide longer protection, but do not protect better than an SPF of 15. Sunscreens lose potency over time so buy fresh stock every summer. Opaque zinc oxide provides the best protection but it is not cosmetically pleasing. Suntan oils provide little or no protection and should be avoided.

30: Two tablespoons, 30 ml. is the proper amount of sunscreen to use per application when sufficient product is applied.
45: Apply sunscreen 45 minutes prior to exposure to the sun.

20 and 2: Re-apply sunscreen every two hours. Swimming, running, or other intense activity causes sweating and loss of sunscreen. In those circumstances, re-apply every 20 minutes.

1: Most people do not apply enough suntan lotion. One entire bottle of sunscreen should be used for one family of four spending a day in the sun.
The lenses of sunglasses should be made of glass, not plastic. Be certain that the glasses are 100% UVA and UVB protective and those they are impact resistant. Prescription lenses can be customized as desired.

Hats also aid in protecting your charges from sun damage. Girls are more likely to wear full-brimmed hat than boys. If your charge will only wear baseball-type caps, be sure to apply sunscreen to the neck and the ears.

Finally, if mild sun damage does occur, the best treatment is usually ice or cold compresses. Avoid any alcohol-based products. Blistering, weeping, and severe sunburn all require medical attention.

Do you have any tips for caring for children outdoors this summer?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Child Care Texbook 2007

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

The Child Care Textbook 2007 is the essential child care primer for those employed to care for children in a private home. The author is Anne Merchant Geissler who developed the Professional Nanny Training Program in 1981 and developed the first Weekend Associate Degree Program for nannies in conjunction with Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts. She developed Professional Nanny Online, the first nanny training and in-service program offered online that enrolls students worldwide.

The editor of The Child Care Textbook 2007 is the publisher of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter and a full-time professional nanny with 16-years nanny experience, Stephanie Felzenberg .

When the first edition was written more than twenty years ago, it quickly became a staple in child care training programs in the United States and abroad. Since then, it has been the only child care textbook that included topics specifically relating to those providing in-home child care; nannies, au pairs, babysitters, and informal caregivers.

The Child Care Textbook 2007 covers the full range of topics that anyone intending to provide high quality child care. Topics include: keeping children safe, understanding pediatric illness, nutrition, building self-esteem in children, and curriculum and creative play.

Ms. Merchant Geissler also includes important information about the professional development of the child care provider such as: ethics for child care professionals, keys to a lasting caregiver/parent relationship, effective communication, and more.

The Child Care Textbook 2007 is an essential reference for anyone responsible for the care of a child.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Posted by Newbie Dad - Kelly on June 10, 2009

Nine months ago I became the proud father to a beautiful daughter named Isabella, after a long battle of getting pregnant.

My wife and I have been on cloud nine ever since. During our stay at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, I often looked at my daughter when she was asleep and I would start to cry, this precious little thing was a creation of two people that loved each other so much. I always wanted to be a dad and this wish had finally come true. I began to write my daughter a letter of the emotions, feelings and events during this special time.

I finished the letter by the end of our stay and sealed it up placed it in our safety deposit in hopes of giving it to her when she is much older and will understand the importance of my emotions and love that we have for her. During this time I finally realized that life would never be the same again, which leads me to title of this blog.After a very careful background check, resumes, interviews and referrals we selected our nanny. She is a very cheerful, bilingual, caring and honest lady who is in her 50’s who takes care of Isabella while both mom and dad go to work. For the first several months she was invaluable to assist my wife who took only four weeks off from work to meet the demands of her clients.

It was shortly after this that our nanny was involved in a car accident and couldn’t come to work. Luckily my schedule from trials had freed-up so I really didn’t hesitate to tell my wife that I would stay home for a few days to take care of Isabella. Now I have to be honest I never spent an entire day by myself with her.

So the morning was started out in a typical fashion as I woke up, drank my coffee, my wife fed Isabella and gave her a bath and then Isabella fell back to sleep. At this point my wife sat me down and gave me explicit instructions on when to feed and how much, when she should take a nap and when I could take her for her walk to the Palisades park. No problem I told her. I felt like I should be getting college credits for this lecture on how to take care of my daughter. My wife left the house and no more than five minutes later she called telling me to have a nice day with my daughter and if I needed anything she could be reached via her cell phone.

Isabella woke up 20 minutes later which was the start of the longest day in my life. She was crying so I had to feed her (this was no problem as the formula was already in the bottles).

Problem #1: She would not drink and continued to cry. I walked her around the house for an hour before she finally drank three ounces.

Problem #2: She dirtied her diaper so badly it leaked onto her clothes, carpet and changing table.

Problem #3: I didn’t have five hands to solve the problem of changing her. This was all in the first three hours of the day. I was so exhausted by this time but luckily I somehow made her fall asleep. She woke up 45 minutes later with the same issue. She was fussy and wanted nothing to do with the bottle in the beginning and then finally drank four ounces. I then put her in the stroller and walked to Montana Ave. She either slept and we people watched the entire time. It was great-- just like I always imagined it would be. Then she dirtied her diaper again.

Problem #4: I was at Ocean and Montana, a long way from home and during the lecture I was getting earlier in the morning I neglected to remember that if I leave the house make sure your bring supplies to change her. I felt so bad for her so I jogged as fast as I could pushing that Bugaboo, it felt like an eternity to get home.

We made it home and all I kept thinking that its only 11am and Mommy isn’t coming home until 5pm. I spent the next two hours either holding her or attempting to get her interested in her toys but she only really wanted the TV controls. So I gave into her and let her push buttons and drool all over it.

Problem #5: I couldn’t get the TV to work for the remaining part of the day. She finally fell asleep I lay on the floor next to her crib and started to fall asleep as well. I was so tired and exhausted in such a short period of time I couldn’t believe it, then all of a sudden I heard the front door open and much to my surprise it was my wife home, four hours early. I was so exited!

My wife asked me how my day went I could only tell her what I was truly thinking at the time "Our Nanny Is Way Underpaid."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Nanny’s Diary for Newsweek

Taking care of another woman's child was supposed to be a temporary situation as I figured out my next career move. But have I found a calling?
By Amy Turek

I lost my job in June 2008, just before most Americans lost the bulk of their retirement savings in the tumbling stock market. I'd been working just over a year as an associate program director (a newly minted position) for a midsize nonprofit. In rough economic times, newly created jobs are generally the first to go, so the three people who had been grudgingly doing my duties before I came along once again found those responsibilities in their laps. Alas, I wasn't about to shake my fist at the sky and proclaim the injustice of kicking a man while he's down. The truth is, I'd barely been employed long enough to establish a 401(k), so Wall Street's woes weren't even a blip on my radar screen.

My main concern wasn't retaining wealth (I had none); it was acquiring more. I desperately wanted to keep my COBRA health insurance, so I needed income. Immediately, I applied for a few public-relations positions (most similar to what I had been doing for the nonprofit), but making the leap into a corporate job is pretty tricky, especially in a sour economy. A month went by and my bills kept coming. I decided I needed to land a temporary job to make ends meet. So I fell back on the job I had excelled at, part time, for the past four years of college: baby-sitting.

I live in the heart of mommy town—an affluent Chicago suburb where minivans outnumber sedans 4-1. I placed an ad through my university and, soon enough, I got a job with a family that needed someone for just a year. It would be a perfect temp job while I tried to figure out my next step. The family had a 4-month-old baby boy (hmm … he'll sleep half the day, I thought) and two older daughters who spent part of the day in school. I'd have a 40-hour workweek and a reasonable salary—about 70 percent of what I had previously been earning. I figured the pay cut wasn't a big deal since my new commute was two minutes long, and I'd no longer have any dry-cleaning bills. I envisioned carefree days showing up to work in my sweatpants, ready for a day of frolicking in the park.

I quickly discovered that it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Those days at the park, on the few days the weather was actually decent, meant multiple potty trips; the packing of snacks, drinks and diaper bags; spills in my car; strollers I had no clue how to operate; and scraped knees.

When I dropped the kids off at school, or swim practice, or the park, I came to realize that I was nothing like the "career nannies" around me. First off, I was half their age. Second of all, English was my first language—most of the other nannies spoke Polish or Russian. Lastly, I looked like I could actually be the children's mother. In fact, I was often told "the baby has your eyes."

It is sometimes an odd position to be in. I have a bachelor's degree in business and graduated magna cum laude. Obviously I'd rather be doing more challenging work. But as I often catch an envious glance from the children's mother as she kisses her little ones goodbye and rushes out the door at 7 a.m., I imagine she's thinking, "I can't believe you're getting paid to stay home and play with my kids—it's what I wish I could do." As adorable as I often find these children, they are not mine. No matter how hard I try, I cannot find it cute when they bicker, throw tantrums, forget homework, spill nail polish on the floor or tell me how uncool I am (daily).

Still, a smiling baby greets me in the morning instead of a grouchy boss and an overflowing inbox. Sure, the baby's smile may eventually dissolve into a scream, but it's nothing compared to an office full of nasty political maneuvering.

The irony is, children require just as much attending to as needy bosses. Instead of fetching skinny vanilla lattes all day long, I'm fetching juice boxes. But I reserve the right to decline their demands, cloaking my laziness as a "lesson in responsibility." I've discovered euphemisms work great with people under the age of 10.

It's been almost a year since my temporary nanny gig started, and I've grown to appreciate it. The kids really are great, and they've taught me to enjoy the little things that each day brings. I've been able to be part of a family, and work in a nurturing environment. This month my gig ends and it will be hard for me to say goodbye. I can't believe how much the children have changed over the course of a year. Next fall both girls will be in school all day, and the baby (now a toddler) will be in day care.

I've changed too. This stopgap job gave me the opportunity to work on new goals (during the baby's naps, of course). I've had some time to think about my career and what I want for my future. Halfway through the year I started taking an evening journalism class at Northwestern University and discovered I love writing. I am now thinking of pursuing a master's degree. If I were still working at my cushy job with my own office and benefits, I'm not sure I would have had the courage to pursue more schooling. As for my next step, I've started applying for some entry-level copy-writing and editorial positions. If it doesn't work out, I'm pretty sure I know what my backup job will be. I've already been approached by some moms at the park, inquiring about my availability. Good nannies are hard to find.

Turek lives in Wheaton, Ill.

Au Pairs and Nannies Working with Teens

10 Great Volunteer Ideas for Teens

Andrea Persons is a full-time nanny working in Miami, Florida. Ms. Persons works for a blended family with two teen-aged siblings and two toddler siblings. She asked Be the Best Nanny Newsletter for advice.
Question: "The twin teenagers I care for are now over 16-years-old and need some structure this summer. Their mother feels they are still too young for summer jobs but they are too old for summer camp. Do you have any advice for nannies like me that have to find ways to keep teens busy this summer?"

Answer: We found great ideas on the web site. Below are 10 great volunteer ideas for teens, by Susan Friedman of

Unpaid work can help [teens] learn new skills, understand more about the workplace, and -- best of all -- give [teens] something to point to when [they are] looking for a paid job in the future. Check out our great list of volunteer opportunities. Then scope out the possibilities in your own community.

Tips for Volunteers!

1. Show up. Resist the urge to skip a day, no matter how tempting ("I'm not getting paid. . . I don't really owe 'em anything"). Remember, you're establishing a work record for that future job.

2. Speak up. Don't be shy about asking questions. Don't be embarrassed if you don't understand something. In the real world, successful adults speak up when they're confused.

3. Step up. Any time you see something that needs to be done, do it without being asked. They'll appreciate your initiative.

Are you an au pair or nanny that cares for teens? What will they be doing this summer?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Prevent a Medication Mix-Up

Prevent a Medication Mix-Up in Your Home
By Michelle LaRowe Conover

With the number of prescriptions that are handwritten and dispensed by pharmacies across the country each year, it should be no surprise that errors can occur. Even with the most careful doctor writing legibly and pharmacists double checking dosages, when humans are involved no amount of carefulness is error proof.

Recently my 10-month-old daughter was given a prescription from the local pharmacy with an incorrect label, (see how to read prescription labels here ) instructing us to give her five times the amount of medication that was prescribed by her doctor.

The doctor had written the prescription for three cc (cubic centimeters) three times per day, but the label instructed us to give her three teaspoons three times per day.

To make matters worse, the technician at the drive-up window reiterated the incorrect instructions to my husband and showed him how to draw up the medication using a five ml syringe.

Fortunately, when my husband came home from the pharmacy and told me the instructions he was given I immediately knew what he was telling me was wrong. I grabbed the bottle to prove to him that he had misheard the instructions, but to my surprise, the instructions he was giving me were written clearly on the label.

When it comes to medications, errors will happen. It's your job as a parent or caregiver to be sure that the errors don't make it in your front door. While it’s great to have confidence in doctors and pharmacies, confidence isn’t a substitute for being an educated parent or caregiver (see proper medical advice for nannies and au pairs here).

When it comes to kids and medication, always follow these three rules:

1. Listen to the instructions of the prescribing doctor and repeat back to the doctor the medication name and dosing instructions. If your doctor seems rushed or if you’re preoccupied with the kids, ask the doctor to slow down or to write the instructions out for you.

2. Look at the label. Be sure it’s yours and confirm that the label matches the instructions the prescribing doctor gave you. Always check your prescriptions before leaving the store.

3. Ask for clarification. Speak up if things don't make sense and take advantage of the pharmacist consult that most pharmacies offer. Be sure to speak to the pharmacist, not the technician if you do have questions. If you are given a syringe to administer medication and the units on it don’t match the units on your label, ask for a different measuring tool or for the conversion.

As a result of my daughter’s incident, mothers and professional nannies in my network from across the United States wrote and called the pharmacy headquarters, demanding that the chain provide educational materials to parents regarding these three rules. As a result, they will be expanding their educational materials to address issues like this.

Further reading

Check out our health care series that started February 2009.

Have you ever had trouble administering medication to children?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Does Cow's Milk Cause Early Puberty?

Au Pairs and Nannies Can Serve More Than Just Organic Milk

A debate has been raging for years over whether girls are now reaching puberty earlier than ever before. The debate escalated in 1997, when the journal Pediatrics published a study of 17,000 girls by Dr. Marcia Herman-Giddens of the University of North Carolina that found outward signs of puberty that precede menstruation — budding breasts and pubic hair — were hitting younger. Now scientists are trying to unravel why.

Nannies, au pairs, and mothers constantly say that cow's milk is to blame. This theory that hormones (steroids) in cows milk causes early puberty is merely hypothesized, but not proven. (Not that someday it might be clinically studied and proven).

In fact, the man-made bovine growth hormone that is blamed on early development in girls does not survive pasteurization. That's right. The steroid is destroyed before children drink the milk!

Plus, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists have concluded that eating foods with slightly higher levels of rbGH does not affect human health. This is because the amount of rbGH that is in milk or milk products as a result of treatment of the animals is insignificant compared to the amount of growth hormone that is naturally produced by our bodies.

Also, rbGH is a protein hormone and is digested into smaller fragments (peptides and amino acids) when eaten.

The rbGH hormone used on dairy cattle is effective in promoting growth in cows, but does not work in humans. Scientists know that rbGH is not recognized as a hormone by human cells.

Some speculate that good nutrition may lead to early puberty. Others speculate chemicals in plastics could cause early breast development.

But, so far the only cause that has been proven is that high mass body weight produces more estrogen causing overweight girls to start puberty earlier than other girls.

The reason that fat is the top theory is that the fatter you are, the more your body can convert adrenal hormones into the female sex hormone estrogen.

Overweight children's blood harbors more insulin, which also influences maturation.

Scientists even are studying whether the protein leptin, produced by fat cells, influences glands that produce sex-related hormones. See "Fat cell metabolism in different regions in women. Effect of menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and lactation," by M Rebuffe-Scrive in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

"It does not mean that every overweight girl is going to enter puberty earlier, but on average they do," says Herman-Giddens, the study's author and child health specialist.

"It has been long known that if you are overweight as you grow up, you are more likely to begin puberty early," said Aviva Must, Ph.D., associate professor of Public Health and Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and lead author of the study, published in the September issue of the journal of Pediatrics. "Girls who are overweight are more likely to have early menarche, or start their period, before age 12."

But Dr. Must also explains that although overweight girls are more likely to start their periods earlier than their peers who are at or below normal weight, early menstruation is not by itself a risk factor for later obesity, according to the study.

Elizabeth Chang, staff writer for the Washington Post, wrote in her Oct. 7, 2003 article "Tempest in a Glass: Synthetic Hormones in Milk Don't Speed Puberty, Say Experts:"

"Could hormones meant to make cows give more milk lead to early puberty, as some parents fear? On its face, it sounds plausible enough. But government and pediatric health experts say there are no scientific data to back up such an assertion. For one thing, they say, rBGH [man-made bovine growth hormone] does not survive pasteurization. And even if it did, they add, it has absolutely no effect on human growth...

For years, pediatricians have viewed age 11 as the mean age of breast development... In 1997 a landmark analysis of 17,000 U.s. girls led by University of North Carolina professor Marcia Herman-Giddens showed that many American girls were beginning to show secondary sexual characteristics between ages 9 and 10... But the changes documented in Herman-Giddens's study cannot be attributed, even in part, to artificial bovine growth hormone for one important reason: The data for her study were collected in 1992 and 1993, before rBGH was available for dairy herds in the United States. Another problem with the rBGH and early puberty theory: Children today drink markedly less milk than they did a generation or two ago."

The American Council on Science and Health stated in their June 2001 publication "The Role of Milk in Your Diet:"

"Experts aren't sure whether girls really are entering puberty earlier. If they are, the most likely explanation is that today's girls are heavier than their mothers were at the same age. Puberty tends to occur earlier in heavier girls.

There is no research demonstrating that milk or dairy products play a role in early puberty. Milk has always contained hormones in very small amounts; their presence is not a result of any changes in animal husbandry practices. Today's girls drink less milk than their mothers did. Thus, it seems very unlikely that milk is responsible for any change in the age at which girls enter puberty."

The benefits of drinking milk far outweigh the risks. Although there have been no clinical studies proving that cow's milk encourages early puberty in girls, the fact remains future studies may. Plus, serving children organic milk certainly does not hurt them. Nannies, au pairs, and parents do not need to be scared to serve children cow's milk.

Do you serve children only organic milk?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Children's Books About Autism

Au Pair and Nanny Trip to the Library

Since We're Friends: An Autism Picture Book
By Celeste Shally and David Harrington
Children with autism struggle to make friends and navigate social situations. However, one child can make a significant difference in the life of a child with autism by offering compassion, understanding and friendship. Since We re Friends is about two boys. One has autism, the other does not. The story of their relationship provides practical examples of how to make such a friendship work. It will help children see that their peers with autism can make a fun, genuine contribution to friendship.

I Am Utterly Unique: Celebrating the Strengths of Children with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism
By Elaine Marie Larson
Discover the unique characteristics and abilities of children with Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning autism – from A to Z. This book, laid out in an A-to-Z format, celebrates the extraordinary gifts and unique perspectives that ASD children possess. Each page of this playful alphabet book presents one of the children’s many talents and abilities. The kid-friendly illustrations and clever text create a positive portrayal of children with ASD. Designed to help the children with ASD grow in self-awareness of their many capabilities, I Am Utterly Unique also encourages dialogue with siblings, friends, parents and teachers.

My Brother is Autistic
By Jennifer Moore-Mallinos and Marta Fabrega
The sensitively written Let's Talk About It Books encourage preschool-age and early-grades children to explore their feelings, deal with problems that trouble them, and understand others who have problems of their own. Each title speaks to a particular concern that children might encounter in the course of growing up. All books in this series have appealing color illustrations on every page, and are available in both English and Spanish language editions. A short section at the back of each book offers related advice to parents. My Brother is Autistic describes a condition that affects many families. Medical experts are just beginning to understand varying degrees of autism and its impact on both the autistic child and his family. This book describes an autistic child from his brother's point of view. It talks about ways autistic kids can be helped and how they can better relate to their family and surroundings.

Autistic Planet
By Jennifer Elder and Marc Thomas
Autistic Planet is a magical world where all trains run exactly to time, where people working in offices have rocking chairs, and where all kids dream of winning the chess World Cup. Join us on a journey to this alternative reality, where being different is ordinary, and being "typical" is unheard of! Full of color illustrations and written in child-friendly rhyme, this book will be much loved by children, particularly those on the autism spectrum, their parents, teachers, carers and siblings.

Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library. If you have a book review you would like to suggest email

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Autism Assessment Team

Autism is complicated and requires professional intervention. The assessment team may include some or all of the following professionals:

Developmental pediatrician - Treats health problems of children with developmental delays.

Child psychiatrist - A medical doctor who may be involved in the initial diagnosis, can prescribe medication, and provide help in behavior, emotional adjustment, and social relationships.

Clinical psychologist - Specializes in understanding the nature and impact of developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders. Performs psychological and assessment tests.

Occupational therapist - Focuses on practical, self help skills that will aid in daily living.

Physical therapist - Helps to improve the use of bones, muscles, joints, and nerves to develop muscle strength, coordination, and motor skills.

Speech/language therapist - Involved in the improvement of communication skills.

Social Worker - May provide counseling services or act as case manager helping to arrange services.

Have you worked with an autistic child? What was your experience?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Vaccines and Autism

After our last posting about "The Oprah Winfrey Show" there was some debate about Jenny McCarthy's beliefs about autism as discussed on the talk show. Jenny McCarthy's says that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine may cause autism in children.

In February, 2009 a special US federal court ruled in the case of three children that vaccines did not cause their autism; their families were claiming that the MMR vaccine, which contained the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, had caused their children to develop autism and several other conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease.

According to the Associated Press (AP), more than 5,500 claims have been filed by families hoping to get compensation through the government's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and this ruling comes as a blow to them and thousands of others who believe there is a link between childhood vaccines and autism.

The claims are filed with the "people's court," the US Court of Claims in Washington. This court is different to many others in that the claimants don't have to prove that the vaccines caused the autism, just that they probably did.

But Special Master George Hastings Jr, whose ruling in the case of one of the children, Michelle Cedillo of Yuma, Arizona, extended to 183 pages, said:"Unfortunately, the Cedillos have been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment."

He said he had to decide the case by analyzing the evidence and not on sentiment. The Cedillos had claimed that a measles vaccine given to Michelle when she was 15 months old had triggered her autism, inflammatory bowel disease, and other disorders that have left her considerably disabled.

"If thimerosal in vaccines were causing autism, we'd expect that diagnoses of autism would decrease dramatically after the chemical was removed from vaccines," says Eric Fombonne, MD, director of the psychiatry division at Montreal Children's Hospital and a member of the National Institutes of Health advisory board for autism research programs.

But a large study published in Archives of General Psychiatry found that cases of autism continued to increase in California long after 2001, when thimerosal was removed from most childhood vaccines in the U.S. (it's still found in some flu shots).

"Not only did cases not decrease -- but they continued to rise," says Fombonne. "That tells us that something else must be responsible for rising rates of autism in this country."

This study is the latest in a series of many others, in other countries and populations, which drew similar conclusions. "Thimerosal was removed from vaccines in Canada in 1996 and in Denmark in 1992," says Dr. Fombonne. "Autism is still on the rise in those countries as well."

And in 2004, both the World Health Organization and Institute of Medicine each concluded no link between autism rates and thimerosal exposure after examining the health records of hundreds of thousands of children.

But, consumer groups who support the view that the vaccines caused autism are not deterred by the ruling and continue to assert their case. Head of the National Vaccine Information Center, Barbara Loe Fischer said she thought it was a mistake to think that because these three families have not won their claim it has been decided that vaccines don't play a role in the development of autism.

SafeMinds, an autism advocacy organization, issued a statement following the court ruling. They said the ruling was based on "inadequate vaccine safety science available to the court" and said there was a conflict of interest in that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is both the "defendant in court" and also responsible for carrying out the vaccine safety research. They said this conflict of interest was sufficient to cast doubt on the "integrity of the National Immunization Program".

Director of SafeMinds and an advisor to the Petitioners Steering Committee of the US Federal Court of Claims, Jim Moody, said: "The government has its thumb on the scales of justice."

Executive director of SafeMinds, Sallie Bernard, said: "A neutral agency must initiate an extensive safety program, including studies of the health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.""Otherwise, trust in immunization will continue to deteriorate," she added.

Have you cared for children with autism while working as a nanny or au pair?

Monday, June 1, 2009

We Posted It First!

You Can't Believe Everything on TV

On May 25, 2009 we questioned the medical advice promoted on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in our article, "Beware of the Queen of Talk You Can't Believe Everything You See on TV."

The June 8, 2009 issue of Newsweek has "Crazy Talk Oprah, Wacky Cures & You" as their cover story.

The staff at Be the Best Nanny Newsletter actually love watching "The Oprah Winfrey Show." We just want viewers to be wary of medical advice given by celebrities like Suzanne Somers, Jenny McCarthy, and Robin McGraw (Dr. Phil's wife) who do not have medical training or any professional medical experience.

Remember that "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is not meant to be objective broadcast journalism, but rather a talk show. The shows more closely mimic tabloid television, not news broadcasts. Don't believe everything you read or see. Certainly do not rely solely on advice from celebrities on talk shows.

When Nannies and Parents Come From Different Cultures

In the May, 2008 issue of The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, a study entitled, "What happens when parents and nannies come from different cultures? Comparing the care giving belief systems of nannies and their employers," was published.

The June 2009 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter discusses the findings in the study in detail.

The differences between the American mother and nannies that were raised in other cultures were:

1. Requiring a baby to go to sleep "independently" vs. holding the baby to prevent crying as he or she falls asleep.

2. Requiring a child to do things for himself vs. helping him by doing them for him.

3. Talking to a child as an equal and negotiating with her vs. telling her what to do based on adult authority.

4. A more relaxed approach to dressing a baby warmly enough vs. bundling a baby warmly for protection from the elements.

5. Learning from experts and books vs. learning from the personal experience of a respected member of the family.

6. A mother's devotion to personal achievement and multitasking vs. a mother's single-minded devotion to her maternal role.

7. Adults guiding children's play in educational directions vs. child-directed play.

In each of these seven contrasts, the first practice or belief is of the American mother. In contrast, the second practice or belief represents the nanny.

Have you experienced any cultural differences between you and your parent/employers?

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