Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Baby Behavior Comes to Idaho!

This week we are in Idaho sharing Baby Behavior information in Idaho Falls and Boise!

We'll be back soon with a new post.

*Photo courtesy of http://www.empoweringparks.com/

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bottles at Bedtime for Older Babies and Childhood Obesity

It’s possible that putting your baby to sleep with a bottle could have long term effects on your child’s health, according to a recent study.

Over 8,000 children who were part of the US Early Childhood Longitudinal Study were included in a recent study about feeding and obesity risk. Researchers, from Brigham Young University in Utah, found that putting an older baby to bed with a bottle could increase his or her chance of childhood obesity by 36 percent. How can this happen? Researchers hypothesized that when older babies are fed a bottle at bedtime on a regular basis or as part of their bedtime routine, babies become used to this and will take the bottle whether they are hungry or not. It can become a pattern. The problem is that this can discourage babies from being able to self-regulate their intake and result in their taking bottles at bed and naptime out of habit rather than when they need the calories. If babies eat more calories than they need every day, they gain too much weight.This pattern of needing to eat before sleep may continue into childhood or adulthood.

Research Meets Reality

We know that many families give bottles at bedtime and understand why you do. Nine percent of breast fed babies and 40% of formula fed babies were “put to bed with a bottle” at 9-months of age according to this study. However, it is unclear whether that means that these babies were given a bottle at bedtime by the parent or given a bottle to self-feed in the crib. It’s also not specified in this study whether or not these babies were put to bed with a bottle of breast milk or formula and breastfeeding to sleep is not mentioned at all. Therefore, we think these study findings need to be interpreted with caution since the question asked the parents in this study was vague.

But, the study findings are straightforward, bottles at bedtime increase older babies' risk of becoming obese. So, what are you supposed to do if bedtime bottles are already a habit?

Helpful Tips if You Do Put Your Baby to Bed with a Bottle

The problem is not the bedtime feeding itself but the excess calories. You want your older baby to learn to eat when he is hungry, not out of habit after he has had enough to eat during the day. The researchers recommended including feeding before bed only if the baby is showing hunger cues and to stop feeding when baby shows fullness cues. They also recommend not forcing your baby to finish the bottle so that he will sleep longer. Overfeeding past the baby’s fullness cues can also cause the baby to override his own body’s hunger cues making it easy for your baby to gain too much weight. 

Alternatives to the Bottle at Bedtime

If you do decide to stop giving a bottle at bedtime, we know that you may be worried that changing your feeding pattern will negatively affect your baby’s sleep. You will need some new tools to help your baby get used to sleeping without a bottle! A consistent bedtime routine will help your baby get to sleep and stay asleep more easily. Babies need help to relax and rest at the end of the day. Bedtime routines can be used to help your baby get so sleepy and calm that she can get the rest she needs. For examples of how to start or change a routine, click here. It’s also helpful to wait until you see signs that your baby is tired before starting your routine; that way she will fall asleep more easily.

AAP Recommendations on Weaning

You may be wondering when your baby should be off of the bottle completely. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends weaning your baby from the bottle before 18 months of age. This is important not only to prevent tooth decay but also to limit the amount of milk your child is drinking. It’s probably a good idea then to start weaning your baby off the bottle as soon as they are eating enough solid food at dinner time so that they don’t need milk at bedtime for nutritional purposes. For most babies, that's around 1-year of age.

We hope that we have provided you with enough information to be able to make an informed decision about feeding at bedtime. We know that this is a challenging topic and hope that the alternative tools we provided above are helpful if you do decide to change your bedtime feeding practices.


Gibbs BG, Forste R. Socioeconomic status, infant feeding practices and early childhood obesity. Pediatr Obes. 2013 Apr 2. [Epub ahead of print]

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

WelcometotheWorld Royal Baby!

Yesterday, with his own twitter hashtag #welcometotheworld and worldwide media coverage, a healthy baby boy was born to proud parents Prince William and Duchess Kate. In celebration of the as-of-yet nameless heir to the British throne, we wanted to highlight some of our posts specifically about newborns. If you happen to see William or Kate in the next few days, be sure to pass them on. :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Baby Behavior is in Kansas!

We're off to the heartland to share more information about Baby Behavior! We'll be back next week with new posts.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our Top 10 Posts!

If you are new to our blog, or even if you’ve already done some exploring, we wanted to welcome you by sharing a countdown of our 10 most popular posts. We hope that you’ll find them as useful as the thousands of parents who have come to our blog in the past. The page views keep coming; today, we’ll top 1.9 million! Thanks to all of our loyal readers who continue to spread the word. It is probably not surprising to any of you that most of these posts are related to infants' waking and crying. Here's the countdown:

10. With just under 6000 page views, our 10th most popular post was: Tips for Coping with Persistent Infant Crying
9. The next post, coming in at number 9, was read about 6500 times: Tips for Dealing with a Waking 9-Month-Old

8. Our 8th most popular post, read about 6800 times was: What the Recent Research on "Cry it Out" Doesn't Tell Us

7. More than 7100 visits placed The Science of Infant Sleep Part I: The First 6 Weeks in our top 10.
6. At number 6, one of our earliest posts Baby Behavior Basics Part 3 – Learning and Creating Your Babies Special Language got more than 21,500 page views.

5. A post about puzzling stranger anxiety comes in at number 5, with just under 65,000 page views: When Stranger Anxiety Isn't Only For Strangers
4. We must have some cranky sleepy babies out there! Why Do Some Babies Hate Being Drowsy? is our 4th most popular post with about 69,000 page views.

3. Even in the womb, an active baby is a healthy baby is the most recent post in our top 10, receiving 97,600 page views since 2012.
2. In second place, with about 103,300 page views was one of our posts about infant development at different ages Infant Development 4-5 months: Distractions, Distractions!

1. Finally! In first place, with just under 275,500 page views: Babies’ Development from 6 to 8 Weeks: Changes, Challenges, and Social Smiles.

That’s it! Our top 10. Which are your favorite posts?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Right-handed or Left-handed? How Early Can You Tell?

Being a lefty, I know all about the inconveniences of being one of the 10% (or so) of adults who are left-handed. Of course, I know there are stories about “lefties,” specifically, how our brains work differently than those of our righty brethren. The stereotype lingers that lefties are creative but a bit scattered, illogical and spacey. Ok, the spacey part might work… But, how do babies become right- or left-handed and how soon can you tell which hand your baby will prefer? In this post, we want to share some of the research in this area.

How Do Babies Become Right or Left Handed?

Scientists do not fully understand how babies end up favoring one hand over the other. A few ideas have been tested related to babies’ positioning in the womb. Because of the limited space and the position of maternal organs, developing babies end up looking to the right more often than to the left. This means that they are more likely to see and become familiar with their right hands. Another idea relates that there is more likely to be space in the womb to move the right hand versus the left. If one hand is easier to move around, it may end up as the preferred hand. Some scientists have focused on factors influencing handedness after the baby is born. Typically, newborns do look to their right more often than their left and they will work to move the hand they see. This may result in earlier voluntary movement of the right hand. Another theory relates to the fact that babies watch and learn from their parents. Babies notice which hands are used to feed them, play with them etc. This theory may partly explain why left-handedness tends to run in families.

So, the current thinking is that most babies become right-handed because of several circumstances that slightly but consistently increase in the likelihood that they will see, explore, and use their right hands both prenatally and postnatally. We lefties either didn't have these experiences or reacted to them differently (perhaps that's where the brain differences come into it).

How Early Can you Tell if a Baby will be Right or Left Handed?

Many parents start to imagine that their baby is left- or right-handed based on the percentage of time their 4- or 5-month-old reaches awkwardly with one hand or the other for an object that is held in front of them. But simple one-handed grasp actions are easy to do with the non-dominant hand (you do this every day) so trying to identify the preferred hand so early isn’t likely to be very predictive (at least not of left-handedness because nearly all babies end up right-handed). Handedness becomes more predictable when babies start to use both hands to explore objects. Older babies will use one hand to grasp and the other to keep objects steady or to manipulate them. When they start to play with toys in more complex ways (stacking, pulling them apart, putting them in and out of containers), they are more likely to use a dominant hand. Babies tend to be older (18 to 24 months) before handedness becomes more consistent. No matter what age your baby starts to prefer one hand over the other, there are a couple of things you should know. First, handedness is really a continuum, meaning that most babies can use both hands but they tend to use one hand more effectively than the other. Some people rely on the preferred hand for nearly everything, others can use both hands for most tasks. Handedness in adults and older children seems absolute only because of habits and more practice doing daily activities like eating and writing with one hand. Second, researchers have found that babies are less likely to show hand preference when they are learning new skills. That means that you might see your baby using one hand much more often than the other until he starts doing something new (like standing) and then he might use both hands equally until he masters the new skill.


Fagard J. The nature and nurture of human infant hand preference. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 2013; 1288: 114-123.

Michel GF, Babik I, Sheu CF, and Campbell JM. Latent classes in the developmental trajectories of infant handedness. Dev Psychol. 2013; June 17 Epub.

Nelson EL, Campbell JM, Michel GF. Unimanual to bimanual: Tracking the development of handedness from 6 to 24 months. Inf Beh Dev 2013; 36: 181-188.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We're 4 Years Old!

The Secrets of Baby Behavior blog is 4 years old! Thank you to our readers for your wonderful support! We hope to continue to bring you timely and evidence-based information about baby behavior!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Summer Safety Quiz Answers!

Here are the answers to our Summer Safety Quiz. What is your baby summer safety IQ? Please leave a comment if you have any additional questions or comments!

Do babies under 6-months of age need additional water (outside of that mixed with formula for formula-fed babies)? Yes or No?
No. Babies under 6-months of age do not need additional water. The amount of breast milk or formula your baby drinks is enough fluid to provide the right level of hydration for him or her. Having said that, babies can get dehydrated quickly during hot weather. If you are concerned about dehydration, please talk to your pediatrician.

True or False? Babies under 6-months of age should be kept out of direct sun.

True. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants younger than 6 months be kept out of direct sunlight.
At what age is it recommended that babies start wearing sunscreen?

Infants under 6-months of age should not wear sunscreen, according to the AAP. After 6-months of age, sunscreen should be worn every time your baby is outside. Also, hats and other protective clothing should be worn to provide additional protection from the sun.
What is the minimum sunblock SPF level recommended for babies?

Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher should be used. It should also be labeled “broad-spectrum” so that it protects against many types of UV rays. It’s also important to follow all directions on the sunscreen bottle to ensure maximum effectiveness! For example, it’s important to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going into the sun.
At what time of the day are UV rays the strongest?

UV rays are the most intense between 10am and 4pm. Schedule outside time accordingly!
True or false? Babies do not need sunscreen or to be covered when skies are overcast or cloudy.

False! Damaging UV rays are still present in cloudy or overcast weather! It’s important to use sunscreen and protective clothing, including hats, even when it is not sunny.

Other Summertime posts to check out:

Summer Travel with Your Baby

Summer Vacation Tips


American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health. Ultraviolet Light: A Hazard to Children. Pediatrics. 1999:104(2)328-332

Balk SJ, the Council on Environmental Health and Section on Dermatology. Ultraviolet Radiation: AHazard to Children and Adolecents. Pediatrics. 2011:127(3);e791-e871.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Safety Quiz!

It’s summertime and we are feeling the heat here in California. Speaking of heat, we have some great past posts about summer safety for babies. These are especially timely as US families participate in outdoor festivities to celebrate our independence day on the 4th of July. Here is a quick quiz to check your baby summer safety IQ. Hint: check out our past posts from Summer 2011 for answers! We will post answers next time. Happy Summer and happy 4th of July holiday for those of you who have the day off!

1. Do breastfed or formula-fed babies under 6-months of age need additional water (outside of that mixed with formula powder for formula-fed babies)? Yes or No?

2. True or False. Babies under 6-months of age should be kept out of direct sun.

3. At what age is it recommended that babies start wearing sunscreen?

4. What is the minimum sunblock SPF level recommended for babies?

5. At what time of the day are UV rays the strongest?

6. True or False. Babies do not need sunscreen or to be covered when skies are overcast or cloudy.