Monday, January 28, 2013

A Whirlwind Week (+ What's in Your Kids' Medicine?)

You're probably wondering where I've been for the last week.
I've set out to try to post 3 days a week, but already my schedule is floundering a bit. Sure, it's not ideal, but it's for good reason.

When Pea was born in August, we left Bean in daycare Monday through Friday so that I could bond with Pea and also catch up on sleep. This was a great setup for us, especially since our daycare provider is super-affordable. However, over the holidays in December, we had Bean home with us for ~2 straight weeks, and on many of those days, my husband went to work, leaving me home with both kiddos. At first it seemed daunting, especially since we were working (albeit part-time) on potty training with Bean; however, we quickly found ourselves in a groove and I began to REALLY enjoy that time with my wee ones. When it was time for Bean to go back to a full-time schedule at daycare, I was sad, so we decided that we would change things up and I would keep her home with me three days a week. Our daycare provided requested specific days (since some are more convenient for her to have another little body around), and we decided she would go Mondays and Fridays, but be home Tuesday through Thursday. Great decision!

We've had lots of fun on our days together, from going to the library, to going to the Family Literacy Centre, to even going to Toddler Time at Skyzone (room full of trampolines - oh yeah!). Aside from enjoying the time together, there have been two really great benefits to having her home. The first is that Bean has been a positive influence on Pea in terms of routine. While he used to cat nap all day (because I couldn't be bothered to wiggle him into a schedule), with Bean around, he has a small nap in the morning and then a longer one in the afternoon while she has her nap. The second advantage has been HUGE progress in potty training. Yep - last Tuesday she decided she was done with daytime diapers!!

So why the the whirlwind? Well, potty training a 2 year old while looking after a croupy 5 month old makes for busy times. Combine that with back pain for mom, back pain for dad  (plus a second degree burn on his hand), sporadic fever in the 2 year old, and sleepless nights, and you've got yourself a crazy week that leaves little time for cranking out quality blog posts. The good news is that the potty training is good with only ~1 accident per day, the croup is subsiding, my back pain is gone, the husband's is improving, and the fever is gone. Sleep isn't back yet, but we're working on it.

Now the medicine bit. As I'm sure you can imagine, this weekend I found myself scouring the shelves of the local drug store for some miracle that would solve all our problems and deliver us all to sleepytown. Here is what I learned from that adventure: READ THE LABELS CAREFULLY!

When I was picking out analgesics for Bean to help bring down her fever, I was faced with some decisions, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen? Liquid or melting tablets? Grape, orange, fruit, bubble gum or cherry flavour? Dye-free or (full of) dye?

Those seemed like the easy choices. We like ibuprofen in our house usually, and the melting tablets are easy with Bean because it's less mess. We stick to grape because we've always used grape. We like dye-free because it makes us feel like conscientious parents (haha).

All set to go then, right? Wrong.

When I looked at the matches for those decisions, I had a choice between Advil or the store brand. The store brand was cheaper, so I went to grab it, but soon realized that the dose was cut in half but the bottle still contained the same amount of tablets. Tricky! So in this case the store brand was less economical. Point for me - I didn't fall for it.

Ready to go? Nope - I decided to read the non-medicinal ingredients and discovered that the first non-medicinal ingredient listed on the ibuprofen boxes was aspartame. Yes, you read it right - aspartame. An artificial sweetener that has not been tested extensively in children and thus the reason why diet pop is not recommended for children. Huh. Take a look at the acetaminophen - no aspartame, but sucralose is there (though it's the last of the non-medicinal ingredients listed). Sucralose is the same as Splenda, so yet again another artificial sweetener. On top of this, both medications contain sugar alcohols. I knew about the sugar alcohols in analgesics; however, I was not aware of the artificial sweeteners. Now here's the kicker. While I thought I was all wise to purchase the acetaminophen because it had contained a sweetener that I'm more comfortable with, I soon realized that the order in which the sweetener is listed on the label has nothing to do with the content in the medication - the ingredients are listed alphabetically!

So long story short - when you buy pain relief medication for your kid, there's a good chance you'll be giving them a dose of artificial sweetener. Don't think you're smart by picking the one with the sweetener listed last - that just means that you picked one with that starts with a letter that comes later in the alphabet. I'm going to let it slide since Bean rarely takes medication and it's likely a very small amount that's in each tablet. However, it makes me better appreciate food labels which actually list their ingredients in descending order.

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