Baby & Child Care

If you have a child and are interested in giving them the best optimal health from birth, let Pharmaca help you navigate the best in healthy child care. We offer a broad selection of nutritional supplements and vitamins for children of all ages, from multivitamins to easy-to-take omega-3s to vitamin D. We can help you get informed about what supplements to give children when, alongside child care tips to give them the best start possible. We believe that optimal health starts an early age, and want all children to be equipped with the nutrients they need to become a vibrant, healthy adult.

  • Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night

    Getting your little one to sleep can be one of the biggest challenges of parenting, but there are a few ways to tackle those challenges. We caught up with Jamie Doughty, a naturopathic doctor and midwife at Pharmaca in Portland, to discuss some common sleep issues and solutions.

    Maintaining healthy sleep patterns is one of the most important things for a baby’s development. Jamie explains that on average, babies should be sleeping 14-18 hours a day. “That’s so they can process everything that went on while they were awake—they’re figuring out their place in the world,” says Jamie. “And of course, the nervous system is developing while they’re sleeping too.”

    Sticking to a routine is key. She asks parents to think about how they feel when they’re off schedule, whether it’s waking up late or eating at unusual times. “It’s like that, but worse, for babies. Their schedule is simple: eat, check out the world, go to sleep. Repeat. But when one of those three pieces doesn’t happen, it leads to issues in the other areas.”

    In fact, nightwaking is very often simply the result of a glitch in the routine. Jamie says it can stem from babies not being able to nap during the day. Similarly, parents may not understand how long it takes for a baby to get into a deeper sleep. “That’s because adults can go from light to REM sleep in just five minutes, whereas for babies, that cycle can take up to 20 minutes.” She advises parents to look for signs of deep sleep, which is indicated by the stillness that comes after the twitchy muscles, fluttering eyes and facial expressions come to an end. (Parents often think of those as signs of dreaming, but it’s actually a precursor of deep sleep.)

    Once you’ve got a solid routine, you can tackle issues as they arise—like the common ones below.

    Colic: Every baby’s experience with colic is different, so Jamie likes to give parents several tools. “Some days something works wonders, others not at all, but there are a few key things you can do.” She advises examining your baby’s diet and eliminating any potential food allergens or irritants. And don’t forget about breast milk—what mom consumes can affect baby’s health, especially dairy, legumes, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, as well as caffeine and alcohol.

    Jamie also recommends trying physical manipulation: Do bicycle legs with baby on his or her back for a fun way to get the abdomen engaged and get things moving.

    Herbal remedies that can help include Wellements Organic Gripe Water, made with fennel, ginger and chamomile to soothe gas and stomach discomfort. Jamie also likes Boiron Cocyntal, a homeopathic liquid that is specifically formulated to soothe the irritability and pain of colic.

    Gastroesophageal reflux (GER): This disorder can afflict infants as well as adults, but symptoms vary and may be hard to detect. They range from coughing and other respiratory issues to belching and food refusal. Jamie has noticed that reflux seems to occur more often with premature babies, whose digestive organs did not reach full development before birth. She suggests taking a look at the diet first. “Keep mom on a hypoallergenic diet,” she says. “If you use formula, be very particular with the choice.” She also says probiotics may help. Try Jarrow Formulas Baby Jarro-Dophilus, a probiotic powder that supports healthy intestines from infancy through four years.

    Stuffy nose/cold: First off, Jamie says, try a good old-fashioned blow syringe to clear things out, along with saline solution. Little Noses Saline Spray/Drops can help fight the infectious process by killing off microbes in the bacterial virus, actually breaking open the cells of whatever is causing cold symptoms.

    Depending on whether the issue is respiratory or nasal, a Pharmaca practitioner can suggest different herbal formulas for infants over 6 months. Formulas often include concentrations of herbs like licorice, echinacea or elderberry/elderflower, which help support the immune system.

    Teething: Jamie says there are several herbal formulas that work wonders, as well as homeopathic remedies. She’s seen a lot of success in applying topical oil directly onto the child’s gums, so look for herbal formulas that include clove and white willow bark that can help numb the gum tissue and ease pain. Chamomile teething tablets, such as Boiron Camilia, also work really well.

    Creating a good sleep environment

    Parents should try to control as many environmental and behavioral factors as they can to create an ideal peaceful setting for the baby. Jamie’s top tips: No TV or computer, as little disruptive noise as possible and darkness—keep those blinds closed.

    If baby is too wired up from the day and can’t seem to relax, Jamie recommends Wishgarden’s Sleepy Night for Kids, which includes both passionflower to help them fall asleep, and milky oak seed to help the muscles and brain relax. And if you don’t mind pacifiers, they can be helpful: “Babies need to self soothe. They also do it with nursing, but if that’s the only outlet, it can lead to problems like overfeeding…so giving a pacifier may be a healthier alternative.” Try Green Sprouts Silicone Orthodontic Pacifiers, which are BPA- and PVC-free (and on sale in August!).

    Ultimately, If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet, don’t fret. It doesn’t mean something is wrong. As baby’s nervous system matures, he or she will begin to sleep through cycles and eventually through the night. Often a baby’s sleep pattern changes throughout the first year of life. As Jamie says, “every infant is different. The most important thing is to take care of yourself so you can be there for the baby.”

    For more advice about baby’s sleep patterns, speak with your doctor or a practitioner at Pharmaca.

  • ChildLife Essentials: Liquid Health

    Your kids will love the taste of these nutrient-packed liquid vitamins, and you’ll love the fact that they’ll keep them active, healthy and happy.

    ChildLife offers a complete line of nutritional supplements designed specifically for infants and children. Their formulations are based on the clinical expertise of ChildLife’s founder, Dr. Murray Clarke. Dr. Clarke, a naturopathic pediatrician, has been a pioneer in holistic pediatrics, and holds licenses and doctorates in naturopathic and homeopathic medicine as well as Chinese Medicine.

    The result of Dr. Clarke’s experience? ChildLife’s delicious liquid formulas, which can be taken directly or easily mixed with a child's favorite juice. Liquids offer greater bioavailability and absorption, and are much easier to take and ingest than tablet form supplements. In fact, vitamin tablets usually contain binders, fillers and preservatives that can also interfere with absorption. ChildLife’s formulas are recommended for children 6 months to 12 years of age (suggested for first use when infants start eating solid food).

    Today's children face nutritional challenges for two major reasons. The truth is, no matter how great their diet, the food they (and we) eat is continuing to lose nutritional value as modern farming methods degrade soil health. In addition, the increasing pollution in our environment and the toxic burden that humans carry creates an increased need for good nutrients. Quality vitamins and minerals are necessary to protect, nourish and sustain a child's natural, healthy development.

    ChildLife uses only the highest quality ingredients—all products are free of gluten, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colorings or flavorings. Most products contain no milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, corn or yeast (see individual product labels for details).

    Pharmaca offers the following ChildLife products to help your little one grow strong and healthy. Plus, they will all be on sale in September!

    • Liquid Multivitamin & Mineral: This comprehensive formula provides all 14 of the essential vitamins and all the primary minerals, a rare combination in liquid multis, to support overall wellness, healthy development, strong immune function, as well as emotional and mental vitality.
    • Liquid Calcium & Magnesium: This formula provides these two essential minerals combined with Vitamin D and Zinc, all of the primary nutrients required for supporting a child's healthy bone growth and development. Calcium comes in citrate form for easy absorption.
    • Liquid Vitamin C: Vitamin C is crucial for healthy immune function, especially important in children as they grow and develop. ChildLife Liquid Vitamin C an be used daily to help to maintain and improve overall health, provide environmental protection, support natural immune responses and defend the body.
    • Liquid First Defense: Formulated with hand-selected herbs and minerals known for their immune-response stimulating properties. Ideal when your child has the first signs of a bug.

    Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about ChildLife’s full line of vitamins.

  • Vitamin D research roundup

    Over the years we’ve written a lot about the sunshine vitamin, and more and more studies are coming out about its benefits (including this recent one about how increased vitamin D levels can help lower the risk of death from H1N1).

    Here are a few good reads that might help persuade you to keep up your vitamin D regimen, especially during these short winter days.

    Pharmaca’s position on the vitamin D debate
    Pharmaca experts weigh in on the recent recommended increase in vitamin D levels.

    Less vitamin D, more colds
    Are you getting enough vitamin D? The answer may lie in how often you catch a cold.

    Battling vitamin D deficiency in children
    An August 2009 study published in the journal Pediatrics reported that the majority of American children between the ages of 1 and 21 have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D.

  • Addressing ADHD

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychiatric conditions affecting children. According to the centers for disease control, an estimated 4.4 million youth between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with this condition, with over half receiving prescription drug treatment. Prolonged symptoms, such as chronic inattention and constant hyperactivity, can be treated with prescription medication or complementary therapy. David Villareal, pharmacy manager at Pharmaca’s Monterey store, and practitioners Julie McGinnis and Erin Stokes from the South Boulder store share both options.

    DV :: The two most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD are Concerta and Adderall XR. These drugs help people gain focus although classified as stimulants. The side effects depend on the individual, but can include agitation, insomnia, and loss of appetite. These two formulas can be addictive, so some physicians prescribe Strattera because of its lower abuse potential. Treating someone affected by ADHD properly is like giving a new pair of glasses to someone who really needs them.

    JM :: Fish oils, especially DHA omega-3 fatty acids, can help promote brain health in those affected by this condition. We carry a high potency, flavored liquid supplement by Pharmax, as well as chewable options by Nordic Naturals, that are both great for children. It is best to get between 1,000 and 1,500 mg of fish oil per day.

    ES :: Good nutrition can also help children affected by ADHD. By consuming enough protein during the day, blood glucose levels can be kept stable. Try making protein powder shakes as an after school snack. I also recommend L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea plants, to increase the production of alpha brain waves for improved mental focus and concentration.

  • Food for Thought: Nutrition for a Better Brain

    Essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, are essential for a reason—they’re actual structural components of all neural cells. In other words, they’re part of the brain’s building blocks. Because the body can’t manufacture this nutrient on its own, fatty acids have to be obtained through food and dietary supplements. This is especially important for developing babies and children whose diets often don’t include omega-3–rich fish.

    Scientists and doctors are beginning to explore the role omega-3s like DHA play in the cognitive development of children. DHA is vital to both the nervous system and visual functions (particularly the development of the retina), especially during gestation and in the first few years of life. Infants receive DHA in the womb and through breast milk, provided the mother has enough in her own diet. Experts now think adequate DHA intake could have a positive effect on curbing ADD and ADHD symptoms.

    While the human body can convert ALA—another omega-3 that is found in plants like flax oil and evening primrose—into DHA, it’s much less efficient than ingesting DHA in its whole form from fish. That’s why so many doctors are recommending that patients of all ages take a fish-oil supplement that will provide them with the brain boost they need.

    So how do you ensure your children are receiving enough DHA throughout the important stages of cognitive development? Once they’re weaned from breast milk, our practitioners often recommend Nordic Naturals’ Children’s DHA. “Most kids comply with them just fine because they taste good and are easy to swallow,” says Asia Real, a certified nutritionist at our Pacific Palisades store.

    “Nordic also has phenomenal standards for cleanliness,” adds Real. That’s especially important to parents concerned about mercury content in their fish oil: Nordic’s special distillation process ensures that all heavy metals are removed from the final product, and third-party testing continues to confirm Nordic’s purity.

    Nordic Naturals’ Children’s DHA is sold in chewable, soft gels and liquid form, both of which are infused with strawberry essence to make the cod liver oil palatable for little taste buds. Though DHA intake is important in the first few years of life, Real encourages parents to consult with their pediatrician before starting a fish-oil regimen with kids under 3 years.

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