Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Baby Behavior Goes to South Carolina!

We're off to the South this week sharing Baby Behavior in the beautiful state of South Carolina. We'll be back soon!

Friday, August 23, 2013

2 Million Views!

We're rapidly approaching 2 million page views! We never could have imagined that our blog would reach so many people in so many places. We've had nearly 600,000 visitors in the last 4 years from 215 countries/territories and more than 14,000 cities/towns. Here's the fast facts:

Where are our readers?
  • 58% of our readers come from the United States
  • 10% come from the UK
  • 8% from Canada
  • 6% from Australia and New Zealand
  • 4% from India
  • 2% from the Philippines
  • And all the rest are divided among more than 200 more countries

Our top 3 cities:
  • London
  • New York
  • Sydney

Thanks again to all of you who have been spreading the word!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Research: How Carrying Calms Babies

It’s almost instinctive; parents around the globe have walked their infants up and down halls in their efforts to calm them. Now research confirms that this time tested calming ritual works!  A recent study shows that carrying your baby (defined as holding and walking at the same time), has more of a calming effect than holding alone.

Carrying Effects on Babies
Carrying causes 3 things to happen; it decreases voluntary movement of the infant; it reduces babies' heart rate, and it decreases crying. Why? Carrying actually calms the baby’s nervous system (if you want a really technical explanation of how this works, read the full journal article referenced below).

Over the years, we’ve promoted “repetition to soothe” as a tool to calm your crying baby. Carrying is a perfect example of this. It both brings baby close to your body and involves repetitive movement.

How to Use Carrying as Repetition to Soothe
Anytime your baby cries, first you want to try to find out why he is crying. Check for the obvious reasons first, like hunger, discomfort, or a dirty diaper. Then check less obvious things like overstimulation (lights, noises, people, etc.) If your baby is still upset after you’ve fixed everything, then try repetition to soothe. Hold your baby close and repeat a calming action or words over and over. This is where carrying can be incorporated! You may be wondering though just how you are supposed to know if you’ve taken care of the reason for the crying, if it’s not completely clear. If there is an underlying issue (like pain or hunger), crying will continue after the carrying stops.

Slings and Soothing
Slings or other baby carriers are a great way to carry your baby and save your arms! Remember, the key to calming is the repetitive motion, so don’t stand still! For more information about slings, click here. Remember to follow all manufacturer directions to ensure safety when using any baby carrier.

What are some other examples of how you use repetition to soothe with your baby?
Esposito G, Yoshida S, Ohnishi R, Tsuneoka Y, Rostagno Mdel C, Yokota S, Okabe S, Kamiya K, Hoshino M, Shimizu M, Venuti P, Kikusui T, Kato T, Kuroda KO. Infant Calming Responses during Maternal Carrying in Humans and Mice. Curr Biol. 2013;23(9):739-45.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Update: Where in the World Are Our Readers?

It’s been 4 great years since we started this blog and we continue to grow our readership over time. We feel so grateful to be able to share our work and research with families all over the world!

Back in 2009 we reported that we had readers from 6 continents, 161 countries/territories, and 6,551 cities worldwide!
Now, as of July 2013, we have readers from 6 continents (we’re still not in Antarctica!), 214 countries/territories, and 13, 719 cities. That’s more than double the number of cities!

So, now we’re curious. Where are you from and how long have you been following our blog?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In the News: Early Solid Foods and Obesity Risk

A few weeks ago, we talked about findings from a large study about increased obesity risk with putting babies to sleep with a bottle. This time, we’ll share another outcome from that same study related to early solid food introduction. They found that introducing solid foods before four months of age increased obesity risk by 40 percent, and this was not the only study with this finding. (Gibbs 2013) In a past postwe shared a 2011 study indicating  that there was a 6-fold higher risk of obesity at 3 years when infants were started on solid foods before 4- months of age. This risk, however, was only seen in infants that were formula fed or fed breast milk for less than 4-months.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization continue to recommend that parents wait until 6-months of age to start solid foods with their infants. However, many parents start solid foods earlier than this. In the Gibbs study, 29% of formula fed infants and 9% of breastfed infants started solids before 4-months of age.

There are many reasons parents start solid foods earlier than the recommended 6-months of age. According to a study reported on in a past post, top reasons for starting solid foods included:
  • Thinking that the baby seemed hungry
  • Wanting to feed something other than formula or breast milk
  • Wanting the child to sleep longer
  • Having a healthcare professional tell the parent to start solids earlier
  • The baby wants the food that the parent was eating
If you're feeling tempted or confused, please read this past post for tools to help you deal with each of these common reasons for starting solids early.

The Gibbs study explores some common feeding practices and we know that their findings and recommendations may challenge your current practices. For more information about why it’s important to wait until about 6-months to start solid foods and how to know when your baby is ready, click here. When did you start solid foods with your baby and why?

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sightings of Savvy Parent Travelers

Yes, we're back out on the road again. From San Diego, California to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, we're sharing ideas and hearing what others are doing to support babies and their families. Usually, we would post a photo and tell you that we'll be back soon. But this week, I was fortunate to observe some parents that have clearly done their homework when it comes to traveling with their babies and I wanted to share some of their great ideas with you.

1. Tag Team Security
With two kids, a stroller, baggage, and today's security screening requirements, parents typically are struggling and juggling all the way through the TSA line. But this last weekend, I saw two parents of an infant and toddler work through a closely choreographed routine that looked almost effortless, handing off kids, belts, shoes, bags, in perfect step and at just the right time to get everything through security with a minimum of stress. Several fellow passengers stopped to watch the "dance" and once we were through security, I asked them if they had practiced it all at home. "Oh yeah!" said the proud dad, "only about 100 times."

2. Baby Yoga at the Gate
On my second trip of the weekend, I arrived at the gate to find a young couple and a baby close to the windows doing yoga together. While dad stretched out, mom gently moved and stretched the babies arms and legs. She also sang a song and smiled at her alert and happy baby. After a few minutes, dad kept the baby busy while mom went through a few poses. The mom told me that they always stretched during layovers. She said, "Makes sitting in planes and car seats easier when we take these breaks."

3. Toddler Take Off
Even though I couldn't see them, I heard a young mom talking to her older toddler. "What does the plane do?" The baby made a rumbling sound and mom made a rumbling sound. I heard her say again, "What does the plane do?" The toddler laughed while mom said "Zoooooommm!" They repeated this game several times before the plane actually took off and just as the plane lifted into the air, I could hear the baby laughing and making the rumbling sound as loud as he could.

4. Aisle Stroll
One of my flights was nearly 4 hours long, and as soon as the fasten-seat-belt sign went off, I noticed a dad, holding a young baby, pacing back and forth in the aisle. As flight attendants and fellow passengers moved around the cabin, he kept closer to their seats, but he kept walking for about 40 minutes. The baby was alert, relaxed, and looking around as they passed by my seat several times. When someone commented on what a "good baby" he had, the dad said that the walking made a big difference in keeping the baby happy, even if the baby didn't fall asleep. I didn't hear his baby cry at any time during the flight.

Obviously, these parents had a lot of experience traveling with young babies and toddlers. Given the press in the past about parents' struggles with their kids on planes, I really wanted to share some stories of parents who really do it right. So, how about you? What do you do to make air travel with your baby a little easier?