Category Archives: IN THE NEWS

baby news stories

BISPHENOL A

“FDA Makes It Official:  BPA Can’t Be Used in Baby Bottles and Cups,” Sabrina Tavernese, New York Times, 7/17/12.

WHAT IS BISPHENOL A ?

Used since the 1960′s, Bisphenol A is an industrial compound used in making some plastics such as food containers, bottles, and cups.  Usually referred to as BPA, it is also used in resins found in the linings of metal products such as food cans, baby formula cans, and in some toys.  It also can be present in dental sealants and composites and may be found in the linings of water lines.  According to an article on the topic on MayoClinic.com, BPA can even be identified in some thermal paper products such as cash register receipts.  In recent years the effects of BPA on health has been a debated topic in the news and the subject of ongoing research.  This week, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.

REDUCING BISPHENAL A EXPOSURE

Some research studies show that BPA seeps its way into the food or beverage that is contained in a bottle or container which contains the compound.  Plastics containing BPA can be identified by looking at the recycling number on the bottom of the product.  Often, they are the clear containers.  The BPA plastic number is the number 7.  Avoid buying plastics with the number 7 on the bottom or choose a “BPA free” product.

Another concern is that BPA seeps into the body when one handles something containing the substance like a toy or cash register receipt.  There has been much controversy on this topic and research studies continue.  However, the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services expreses concern for this compound and its effect on human health.  Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned BPA from use in the manufacturing of baby bottles and sippy cups.  This makes it much easier for concerned parents to confidently choose a bottle or cup for their baby.

WHAT DOES “BPA FREE” MEAN ?

Many plastics manufacturers are making plastic containers and bottles that do not contain the BPA compound.  These are often labeled “BPA Free.”  Another option is to choose a material other than plastic such as glass or steel.  Over the last few years, there has been a tremendous increase in the manufacturing of bottles, cups, and food storage containers made of glass or steel.  There are far more “green” choices available on the market now.  You can find websites online for purchasing green baby bottles or green sippy cups.  “Green” means “BPA Free.”  One popular website is greentogrow.com  Just remember, the best baby bottles are the green baby bottles.

 


ELECTRONIC GADGETS POSE SAFETY RISK

“Batteries Shown to Pose Risks for Kids,”  Anna Wilde Matthews, Wall Street Journal, 5/14/12.

ELECTRONIC GADGETS BELONGING TO PARENTS

Babies love to hold and play with objects that are part of the every day life activities of mom and dad.  These objects include remote controls, cameras, watches, and cell phones.   Parents often smile as they watch their little babies hold the cell phone to their ears or try and push the buttons on the remote.  However, a recent Wall Street Journal article warns that these electronic gadgets contain batteries which pose potential safety risks to babies and children.  The number of visits to the emergency room stemming from batteries put in noses, ears, or mouths is rising across America.

ELECTRONIC TOYS IN THE NURSERY & BEDROOMS

The rapid increase in electronics includes a proliferation of electronic toys for children and babies.  Nurseries and bedrooms of older siblings abound with blinking, flashing, and vibrating toys that entertain because of a battery.  Babies don’t understand how life threatening a battery can be.  Please supervise all use of electronic equipment.  Better yet, limit the number of electronic toys in the home and choose instead the toys that encourage developmental play and foster motor skill development.

EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS: ACCIDENTS WITH BATTERIES

The journal Pediatrics published a new study which found that the number of visits to the emergency room by children under the age of 18 doubled between 1990 and 2009.  In 2009 the number of children 5 and under swallowing the button shaped batteries was 10.1 per 100,000.  Research has highlighted the dangers of these button batteries which are small and shaped like a shirt button.  Swallowing batteries is potentially life threatening because it can become lodged in the esophagus and can give off electricity which can kill nearby tissue within two hours, according to Gary A. Smith, an author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  Stellar Caterpillar suggests parents add to their baby-proofing list locking all battery-containing devices in a drawer or cupboard.

SOME ELECTRONIC OBJECTS TO KEEP OUT OF REACH:

  • electronic toys
  • remote controls
  • watches
  • cameras
  • cell phones
  • hearing aids
  • calculators
  • flashlights

 

For more in our series on babies and technology please read “TV and Babies,” “Baby Toys:  Unplugged vs. Electronic,” and “Baby Books:  E-Books on iPads.”


SAFETY ON STAIRS

YouTube Preview Image

“Take steps to make stairs safer for kids,” Michelle Healy, USA Today, 3/12/12.

When your Stellar Caterpillar is rolling and crawling confidently, curiosity lures him to potentially dangerous situations.  One of the most common hazards in the home is the staircase.  Unlike the closely supervised stair climbing that baby learns in a Stellar Caterpillar lesson, these accidents can occur in a moment when mommy is distracted.

Taking the time to very thoroughly baby proof one’s home is extremely important, and this includes the installation of safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.  However, as the above TV segment from Nationwide Children’s youtube channel shows, accidents also happen on the stairs while carrying baby on the stairs.  In fact, the recently published USA Today article on this topic points out that 1 in 4 accidents with babies under one year of age happen while being carried by an adult on the stairs.  A confident and mobile baby needs the protection of both baby proofing and careful parenting.

7 TIPS FOR BABY STAIR SAFETY

  1. Keep stairs free of clutter
  2. Repair damages in construction
  3. Install and use handrails
  4. Place safety gates at both the top and the bottom of stairs
  5. Avoid carrying other items while carrying baby
  6. Wear shoes with good traction to avoid slipping
  7. Teach others to avoid distracting you while carrying baby on stairs

BUMBO CHAIR

“Grave Concerns about popular Baby Bumbo Seat,” Julie Deardorff, Chicago Tribune, 3/15/12.

“Therapists See No Developmental Benefits from Seats,” Julie Deardorff, Chicago Tribune, 3/15/12.

BUMBO CHAIRS AND MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Recent articles in the Chicago Tribune examine the dangers and question the developmental benefits of the popular Bumbo Chair.  With this particular design baby is forced upright in the sitting posture with both legs fixed in position so they can not move out of the chair.  Baby has no choice but to be upright.  The first Tribune article examines the very serious accident that can result when baby moves and the chair tips over.  The second article refutes the benefits Bumbo promotes on their website.  Developmentally, the forced sitting positon can lead to muscle fatigue and spasm.  If baby can not get out of the sitting position when he is tired, which is the case with the Bumbo chair, the muscles spasm (tighten).  Tight muscles makes it difficult for baby to articulate the movement of the pelvis for crawling, or to lay on the belly for tummy time.   Muscles in spasm do not want to stretch or move.

THREE PARENTing tips

  1. Parents need free hands.  A much better developmental choice is the play pen (also called Pak N Play) because mom can have free hands while baby explores through her own movement.
  2. Parents like to see the baby is “happy.”  Babies smile when they are at eye level with you.  Rather than place Bumbo on the table,  it is a better choice for their motor skill development to put them on the floor and for parents to get down on the floor with them.   Go to their level so they can learn what they need through movement.
  3. Parents aim to develop good posture for baby.  Rather than stabilize baby in a “trap,” allow her to strengthen muscles through movement and play.  Putting baby on the floor and in tummy time better strengthens back and neck muscles for developing beautiful sitting posture.

HOW BABIES DEVELOP SITTING POSTURE

Through being given time on the floor to explore, babies develop motor skills.  You can not force a rose to open, if you try you will rip it apart.  Babies need time in each developmental stage.  The design of their development is absolutely brilliant.  Their brain is ready to fire the motor patterns of sitting and standing when their bones and muscles are strong enough to do so.  When babies spend a lot of time on the floor and learn to lift their head while in tummy time, they sit with beautiful posture from the first day they sit.  Their muscles and bones are ready.  It should happen naturally.

BABY TALKING: BABIES READ LIPS

“Babies Read Lips Before They Can Speak, Study Shows,” Lauran Neergaard and CBS News Staff, cbsnews.com, 1/17/12.

On the first birthday of one of my Stellar Caterpillars, the father asked me, “She walks so beautifully!  Now I can’t wait for her to talk.  Do you think you can teach her to talk?  I answered, “I can show you how to teach her to talk.”  Learning to talk can be broken down into micro-skills they way movement can be broken down into mini-milestones.  Recently a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by developmental psychologist David Lewkowicz of Florida Atlantic University confirms that babies learn to speak not just by hearing sounds but also by reading lips.

baby TALKING:  ANATOMY LESSON

The moving body parts involved in the action of talking include the lips, tongue and jaw.  The lips create the shapes of the mouth that help make the different sounds in speaking.  The jaw opens and closes in this process.  The tongue moves around inside the mouth to different locations which assists in creating the various sounds we make as well.  The intricate coordination of these three body parts create the “movement” of talking.

BABY LIP READING RESEARCH STUDY

The study led by Lewkowicz involved 180 babies at ages 4, 6, 8, and 10 months.  Researchers observed babies changing focus on a woman speaking on video in their native language of English and their non-native language of Spanish.  The babies’ shifting focus from the lips to the eyes was closely monitored by a gadget placed on a headband.

The researchers found a pattern demonstrating dramatic shift in attention based on the babies’ ages.  The 4-month-olds gazed mostly into the eyes, the 6-month-olds spent equal amounts of time looking at the eyes and the mouth,  the 8- and 10-month-olds studied mostly the mouth, and at 12 months attention started shifting back toward the speaker’s eyes.  When the babies observed the non-native language being spoken, it was necessary to focus on the lips for longer periods of time in order to gain extra information to process the unfamiliar sounds.

BABIES AND LIP READING

The research study led by Lewkowicz is very important because it teaches us the importance of “face-to-face” interaction with  baby.  Face-to-face interaction can be defined as time when a parent or caregiver puts his or her face quite close (less than 12 inches) to baby and exaggerates words with his or her lips.  The words should not be spoken too quickly as babies need time to see what you are doing with your mouth.  This visual observation of the moving parts involved in speaking is called “lip reading.”  It is the involvement baby’s sense of sight in learning to speak.

Try some face-to-face time with baby while singing a favorite song or repeating one word a few times and exaggerating it with your lips.  Don’t be surprised when she reaches out to touch your lips or stick her hand into your mouth.  They want to know how you are making those sounds. Next, she will try and imitate you.  She will be talking soon!

 

 


BABIES HEALTH AND SALT INTAKE

“Taste for Salt May Be Shaped During Infancy,” by Amanda Gardner,  HEALTH magazine, and published on CNN.com, 12/21/11.

ADULTS AND SODIUM INTAKE

By now most of us have learned to watch our salt intake. This means choosing the “Low Sodium” options at the grocery store, the “Heart Healthy” options on the restaurant menu, and leaving the salt shaker off of the dinner table.  Those of us obsessed with nutrition, health, and wellness have also learned to read the list of ingredients on everything we buy to identify what is known as “hidden salt,”  the salt added to the bread, crackers, etc. by the manufacturer.  We choose lower salt options because we have learned the health consequences of excess sodium.

RESEARCH ON SALT PREFERENCES IN BABIES

Recent research reveals the importance of monitoring the salt content of baby’s diet as well.  Recently, researchers from the Monell Center for Advancing Discovery in Taste and Smell reported the results of a study regarding babies and salt.  The researchers found that babies fed starchy table foods such as crackers, bread, and cereal, had a much higher preference for salty foods than infants of the same age who were not fed these same foods.  The study also reveals that when children reach preschool age, those fed starchy table foods during infancy prefer salty snacks such as potato chips and french fries.  The conclusion is that the preference for salty foods may be formed during infancy.

BABY SNACKS AND ADDED SALT

Common table foods such as cereal, bread and crackers are often popular food to give infants when they are learning to eat.  They are easy for baby to pick up with her thumb and first finger, developing her pincer grasp, and place into her mouth to chew.  Chewing these highly processed foods is quite easy for baby, so they are a popular snack option.  However, most of them contain added salt.  It is important to choose the healthy options.  And of course, ask your pediatrician if you have any questions regarding food choices for your baby.

TIPS FOR KEEPING BABY”S DIET HEALTHY

The researchers found that babies who stayed on a diet of baby food for the first six months, or who received snacks of fruit only in addition to the baby food, were indifferent to the flavor of salt as they grew older.  Many parents today  make homemade baby food rather than buying it in the stores so they can eliminate added salt and sugar.  Many websites and books are available for guidance on this topic.  Another tip for parents is to read the ingredients listed on the packaging of bread, crackers, and cereals to locate some with no added salt.  Today, one can find salt-free brands in each for these food products.  Always carry these healthy options with you, as babies get hungry frequently.