As our children grow day by day, there are many small changes that we may not notice; using a diary can help you observe and identify change over a longer period. Observational diaries are a good instrument for observing and monitoring over a long period. Simply keeping a diary of what you do each day will highlight long term changes in development because when you compare entries weeks or months apart, you will see that your little ones are undertaking activities that were previously beyond their capabilities.
Diaries are a useful tool to explore long term concerns that you have, for example, to help identify what triggers certain physical conditions or behavioural patterns in your child. If your child is prone to allergies, you might want to log what they eat, where you have been during the day, what the weather was like and how their allergies were manifested. Over time you might pick out certain triggers such as food types, weather patterns or locations. By isolating the causes you can then learn to avoid them.
If your children are cared for by childminders during the day then you should ask them to undertake monitoring for you, and to keep a regular diary. ToucanLearn offers a Daily Diary which can be used for such purposes, fill entries in regularly and then look through them every couple of weeks in order to try to ascertain what you are looking for.
Food safety advice tends to vary over time - some foods deemed unsafe to eat at one time may become positively beneficial at others, but there is always advice on some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy. Mostly such foods suffer increased exposure to dangerous bacteria, and if not stored properly between manufacture and consumption, they could pose a serious health risk to a pregnant mum to be.
Until August 2009, government advised that pregnant women should avoid peanuts for fear that consumption might be a cause of intolerance in children. This advice has changed now because science is not certain that this is a causal effect of allergies, indeed there is growing evidence that consumption of peanuts during pregnancy may actually reduce the likelihood of babies suffering peanut allergies.
Some foods such as soft cheeses and pâté should be avoided because there is an increased risk that they may carry listeria, a very dangerous bacteria to pregnant women. Pâté also contains high levels of vitamin A, a vitamin found in liver, which is also best avoided during pregnancy. High levels of vitamin A may have a negative impact on your baby's neurological development. For the same reason, you should avoid taking fish liver oils and eating liver in any other form.
Pregnant women should also be cautious against eating raw or undercooked foods, especially eggs, meats and shellfish. These all pose a higher risk to bacteria and viruses, such as salmonella.
Finally, certain sea fish may contain harmful levels of mercury to an unborn baby - avoid tuna, shark, swordfish and marlin whilst pregnant. High levels of mercury can affect neurological development in your baby.
Many other foods often considered dangerous actually pose no risk at all, these include:-
- Processed (rather than homemade) mayonnaise and salad dressings will be made from pasteurised eggs
- Hard and increasing numbers of soft cheeses are also made with pastuerised milk nowadays
- Yoghurts and probiotic drinks are also made from pasteurised milk
- Spicy foods pose no danger to unborn children
- Honey is suitable for pregnant women but shouldn't be given to babies under 1 year
- Ice cream is also made from pasteurised milk and poses no risk to pregnant women
If you are pregnant, you will be looking after yourself and paying more attention to diet than usual, but most foods are perfectly safe to consume, you don't have to change your diet radically just because you're expecting a baby. Exercise caution, but don't stifle your lifestyle!
Should you eat nuts during pregnancy? Recent advice has changed again and now the answer is yes, you can!
Until recently pregnany and breast-feeding women were advised to avoid peanuts in order to reduce the risk of their child developing a penut allergy. However, in August 2009 the British Government revised their advice and now states that there is no clear link between eating peanuts and childhood peanut allergies. This refers only to peanuts – also known as monkey nuts and ground nuts – and does not affect other foods which may trigger allergic reactions such as wheat, dairy products or other varieties of nut.
Further research has been commissioned to improve how and under what conditions the allergies develop. We wait to hear the results of the latest tests, but in the meantime, it seems advice says you can choose to do so, as long as its part of a healthy, balanced diet and you're not allergic to peanuts yourself!
In America peanuts are not deterred during pregnancy, instead they are encouraged as a good source of protein. And in Australia the Department of Health says there's no evidence of your baby developing a peanut allergy if you eat peanuts when pregnant or breast feeding.
So, if you fancy some peanut butter or want to nibble a few nuts at a party then governments, all over the world, say you can!