Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Baby Recipes

Entree: One Pot Christmas Dinner - A simple and quick recipe making use of the Christmas foods. 8 months+

Ingredients Needed:

1 cup of cubed Roast Beef, Mutton (Lamb) or Turkey - uncooked
(using cooked is fine as well)
1/2 cup peeled and cubed winter squash
1/2 cup peeled and cubed white potato
1/2 cup peeled and cubed sweet potato
1/2 cup peas or green beans
1 small handful of fresh or frozen cranberries


Combine all ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan
Add 2 cups of water
Bring to a gentle boil and then turn heat to low
Simmer on low for 20 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink and veggies may be easily pierced with a fork.

Transfer cooked One Pot Christmas Dinner to a large mixing bowl and mash or chop as needed. Process in a Blender or Food Processor if needed for babies who do not like lumps and textures.

This will freeze nicely if pureed

On Christmas Day, you may also take a piece of cooked roast beef, mutton or turkey and combine it with the veggies being served to create Baby's Christmas Dinner.

Dessert: Baby's Sweet Potato Apple Pie 6 months+
Mix in some sweet potatoes and applesauce with oatmeal or rice cereal. Mix in yogurt for babies over 8 months.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

TV can raise blood pressure in obese children

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Obese children who watch a lot of television are more likely to have high blood pressure than heavy children who don't spend as much time in front of the tube, the results of a new study shows.

Increased psychological stress and junk food eaten while watching TV could be factors in the relationship, principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey B. Schwimmer of the University of California, San Diego, told Reuters Health.

Obese children who watched 2 to 4 hours of TV each day were 2.5 times more likely than their peers who watched less TV to have high blood pressure, he and his colleagues found, while kids who watched more than 4 hours daily had more than triple the risk of having high blood pressure.

TV watching time clearly influences obesity and high blood pressure is a known consequence of obesity, Schwimmer and his team point out in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

To investigate this relationship, they evaluated 546 children between 4 and 17 years old who were seeking treatment for obesity. Forty-three percent had high blood pressure.

Most of the study participants with high blood pressure watched 2 hours or more of television. Time spent watching television was also associated with the severity of obesity, the researchers found.

Kids who watch more TV may also be eating more fatty, salty foods, which could directly contribute to high blood pressure, Schwimmer and his colleagues note.

Studies have shown that children who watch more TV experience more perceived psychological stress, Schwimmer noted, and evidence is mounting that stress can alter how the brain communicates with other organs, affecting blood pressure and body fat accumulation and distribution.

The findings underscore the importance of limiting children's TV viewing to less than 2 hours a day, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, he said, and that this may be particularly important for overweight and obese children.

Blood pressure is often not measured in children, and if it is measured, "it's often not done correctly," Schwimmer added. "I would encourage parents of children to raise the issue of blood pressure with their child's doctor."

SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December 2007.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kids are Quick

A little laughter for the day...

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Honey eases nighttime cough

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A spoonful of honey can quiet children's nighttime cough and help them -- and their parents -- sleep better, a new study shows.

When compared to the cough syrup ingredient dextromethorphan or no treatment, honey came out on top.

"The results were so strong that we were able to say clearly that honey was better than no treatment and dextromethorphan was not," Dr. Ian M. Paul of Pennsylvania State University in Hershey, one of the study's authors, told Reuters Health.

There is currently no proven effective treatment for cough due to an upper respiratory infection like the common cold. While dextromethorphan is widely used, there is no evidence that it works, and it carries risks.

Honey is used around the world as a folk remedy for cough, and might provide a safe, effective alternative to cough medicine, Paul and his colleagues note in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

To investigate, they compared buckwheat honey, a honey-flavored dextromethorphan preparation, and no treatment in 105 children who had sought treatment for nighttime coughs due to colds. Parents were surveyed on the day of the doctor's visit and on the next day, after those in the treatment groups had given their kids honey or dextromethorphan at bedtime.

Among the three groups, children given honey had the greatest reduction in cough frequency and severity, and the most improved sleep, as did their parents.

There are several explanations for why honey might ease cough, Paul and his team note; its sweet, syrupy quality may be soothing to the throat, while its high antioxidant content could also be a factor. Honey also has antimicrobial effects.

Honey isn't recommended for infants younger than one year old, because of the rare but serious risk it might cause a type of food poisoning known as botulism, Paul said in an interview. For older kids, however, it is generally safe. He and his colleagues used a dosage identical to that recommended for cough syrups: half a teaspoon for two- to five-year-olds, a teaspoon for six- to eleven-year-olds, and two teaspoons for children twelve and older.

"The study offers an interesting alternative to traditional over-the-counter remedies for cough in children," Dr. Michael Warren of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and colleagues conclude in a commentary accompanying the study.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, December 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

If a child...

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child learns to feel shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement he learns confidence
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
He a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Win the Seat Battle With Toddlers

By Beth Whitehouse(c) 2007, Newsday

MELVILLE, N.Y. -- Sometimes, when I try to put my toddler into his car seat or stroller, he arches his back and fights me because he doesn't want to get in. How do I get him to cooperate without causing a public scene?

Forget reasoning with him, says pediatrician and University of California, Los Angeles Assistant Professor Harvey Karp. Your little guy is -- and these are Karp's words -- "a Neanderthal" who cares not one iota about highway safety statistics or your need to make it to an appointment on time.

"Toddlers are not so much little adults as they are little cavemen. They're uncivilized. They're primitive," says Karp, creator of the DVD and book "The Happiest Toddler on the Block: The New Way to Stop the Daily Battle of Wills and Raise a Secure and Well-Behaved One- to Four-Year-Old."

Therefore, you have to communicate in a way they understand. Here's what Karp would do: Even though you might feel like an idiot, get down to your child's level and imitate his words, actions and feelings. Say, "No, no, you don't want to get in the car seat, do you?"

"The goal is not to make them laugh, not to be funny or clownish, but to empathize with them," he says.

He predicts the tantrum will stop in 50 percent of the cases. Then, you can negotiate with your child. Yes, he does advocate a little negotiation in this case. "You're not a general and they're a soldier," he says. "When you're out of the house, they've got you over the barrel."

So, he recommends making a little agreement once they quiet down. Say, "OK, we'll run to the wall and back together three times, and then you have to get in the car seat."

Then, it's time for some prevention homework. You can reduce future battles by making the car seat or stroller a more fun place to be, Karp says. Take the car seat or stroller into the house, and let the child play in it. Read him stories while he's sitting in it.

Select a special treat -- a cookie or a song or a story -- that he only gets to eat or hear in the car seat or stroller.

Then, next time you're out and he doesn't want to cooperate, you can entice him with the only-when-you're-in-the-car-seat treat. "In a pinch, you use all the tools in your tool chest," Karp says. "Use diplomacy as opposed to brute strength."

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service

Monday, November 19, 2007

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sleep trouble not an inevitable part of pregnancy

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Pregnancy doesn't have to mean nine months of sleep deprivation, a noted sleep expert says.

Myriad factors can disturb sleep throughout pregnancy, from getting up at night to urinate to trying to accommodate a giant belly comfortably, Dr. Jodi A. Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told Reuters Health. However, she added, "almost all of those things you can manage at some level."

And getting enough sleep is important for an expectant mother's health, as well as that of her fetus, added Mindell, whose book "Sleep Deprived No More: From Pregnancy to Early Motherhood," will be published November 15.

She points to a study that found women who got less than 6 hours of sleep a night for their last month of pregnancy had longer labors (29 hours vs. 18 hours) and a greater risk of having a C-section compared to women who logged at least 7 hours of sleep nightly.

Mindell is a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which is seeking to increase awareness of the importance of sleep for pregnant woman as part of its National Campaign for Healthier Babies Month this October.

She offers several tips for pregnant women to help battle sleep troubles:
.. Get daily fluid requirements before dinner to prevent frequent nighttime bathroom trips.
.. Eat a snack before bedtime to stave off nighttime hunger and nausea.
.. Use plenty of pillows to get comfortable in bed; a pillow to support the belly and another between the legs to support the hips can help.
.. Stay away from caffeine after lunchtime
.. Use good sleep hygiene -- have a soothing pre-bedtime ritual, make the bedroom a comfortable haven for sleep, and try to keep a consistent sleep schedule.

One in four women will develop restless legs syndrome during pregnancy, noted Mindell, which is "a very uncomfortable, creepy crawly feeling in the legs" that can only be alleviated by moving them around. The syndrome can be related to iron deficiency, which becomes increasingly common after 20 weeks of pregnancy, so women who are experiencing it should get their iron levels checked, she advised.

Getting enough sleep after baby is born is essential, too, but more difficult, especially in the first six weeks of an infant's life, says Mindell. New moms should follow the time-honored advice to sleep when their baby does, and should get all the help they can, she adds. Being sure to get outdoors into bright light, especially in the morning, can also help new moms sleep better, according to Mindell.

"You've got to make sleep a priority -- you really need to put aside those visions you have of being the perfect new mom with the perfectly clean house and gourmet meals on the table," she said.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grandma's point of view...

If your baby is beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time, you're the grandma ~~ Theresa Bloomingdale

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Moms-to-be often anxious, depressed

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - It is not uncommon for expectant mothers to feel anxious and depressed, new research shows, and these feelings can have serious consequences for mom and baby.

"Mental health problems in the postpartum period have received much attention in the past decade," Dr. Antoinette M. Lee of the University of Hong Kong told Reuters Health, whereas mental health problems in the period before birth, known as the antenatal period, have received considerably less attention.

"Our study," Lee said, "shows that anxiety and depression during pregnancy should also not be overlooked, given that both are highly prevalent and strongly associated with postpartum depression."

Among a consecutive sample of 357 pregnant women, Lee and colleagues found that more than half (54 percent) had anxiety and more than one third (37 percent) had signs of depression at some point during their pregnancies. Anxiety was more prevalent than depression at all stages of pregnancy.

Between 12 and 17 percent of women in the study were found to have both anxiety and depression at various stages of pregnancy, the researchers report in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"Both antenatal anxiety and antenatal depression were found to be more prevalent and severe in the first and third trimesters," Lee told Reuters Health. Anxiety and depression levels decreased from early to mid-pregnancy, but increased again late in pregnancy.

However, the data also indicate that new cases of anxiety and depression can emerge at any stage of pregnancy; therefore, doctors need to continually assess the mental health of women throughout the course of pregnancy, Lee said.

Younger age and a history of drinking were strong risk factors for anxiety and depression during pregnancy. As mentioned, women who were anxious or depressed before giving birth were also at significantly increased the risk of suffering from postpartum depression.

Mental health problems during pregnancy are "serious" issues that need addressing, Lee and colleagues conclude, because they are known to have a negative impact on women and their children.

SOURCE: Obstetrics and Gynecology, November 2007.

Friday, November 9, 2007

TBL Moms and Dads with their baby slings

See our happy friends with their lovely babies!!!

Welcome to our newest Blog friend!

Join an old friend of The Baby Loft on her blog...

Ethan Boy - - dedicated to her son
Giddy Tigers - - personal blog
Kaki Shopping - - all shopping related

The Giddy Tiger has been shopping at The Baby Loft for the last 2 years, and shares her shopping experience on her blog as well...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Julia Roberts with a baby sling

Pretty Woman walking down the street... ...
Julia Roberts carries baby Henry in a sling...probably strategically positioned to hide baby from the cameras? :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Breastfeeding leads to higher IQ in babies with the right gene

CHICAGO, Nov 5, 2007 (AFP) - Scientists have identified a gene which leads children to have higher IQs if they are breastfed, according to a study released Monday.

The study took a bite out of the nature versus nurture debate by showing that intellectual development is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors.

"There has been some criticism of earlier studies about breastfeeding and IQ that they didn't control for socioeconomic status, or the mother's IQ or other factors," said study co-author Terrie Moffitt, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Duke University and King's College in London.

"Our findings take an end-run around those arguments by showing the physiological mechanism that accounts for the difference."

Researchers examined more than 3,000 breast-fed infants in Britain and New Zealand and found that the child's IQ was an average of 6.8 points higher if the child had a particular version of a gene called FADS2.
This difference remained after researchers were able to rule out the influence of socioeconomic status, the IQ scores of the mother, birth weight and gestational age as factors.

"The argument about intelligence has been about nature versus nurture for at least a century," Moffitt said. "We're finding that nature and nurture work together."

Ninety percent of the children had at least one copy of version of the gene which yielded higher IQ if they were breast-fed.

The IQ scores of the other 10 percent were not influenced by breastfeeding, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The gene was studied because it produces an enzyme found in breast milk which has been associated with higher IQ. The enzyme helps convert dietary fatty acids into the polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been shown to accumulate in the human brain during the first months after birth.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Air pollution raises preterm birth risk

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A study conducted in Los Angeles County and published today shows the harmful effects traffic-related air pollution can have on pregnant women.

The data suggest that women who live in areas with high carbon monoxide or fine particle levels - pollution caused mainly by motor vehicle traffic -- are roughly 10 to 25 percent more likely to suffer preterm birth (delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy), compared with women who live in less polluted areas.

This is especially true for women who breathe polluted air during the first 3 months of pregnancy or during the last months and weeks before delivery. Importantly, researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the association between air pollution and increased risk of preterm birth persists after accounting for other factors that might influence preterm birth risk such as smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke and alcohol use.

"Air pollution in Los Angeles County remains a major public health problem affecting everybody, particularly pregnant women," Dr. Beate Ritz from the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles noted in comments to Reuters Health.

Ritz and colleagues collected detailed information for more than 2,500 women who gave birth in Los Angeles County in 2003. By conducting one-on-one interviews with the women, the researchers were able to separate the air pollution risk from other preterm birth risk factors.

"Our research group had previously reported on the effect of carbon monoxide and fine particles, but because we relied on birth certificates, we did not have detailed information about other risk factors that some people suspected might bias our research findings," Beate explained.

This new study, she said, "helps confirm the results we reported previously - that air pollution mainly caused by vehicle traffic increases the risk of preterm birth even when we take other risk factors into account."
Research that identifies the harmful effects of pollution, Beate added, can help policymakers "in weighing the costs and benefits of reducing air pollution, both in terms of dollars and human health."

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, November 1, 2007.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fun Halloween game

Halloween is on Oct 31st! It is a fun-filled festival in some countries and everyone dresses up in costumes. In Malaysia, few people celebrate, but you can join in the fun with this game with your kids!

One person is 'IT', the others must sit or lay as motionless and expressionless zombies. The person who is 'IT' must do whatever they can to make the zombies smile, giggle, or wiggle in any way without touching them! When 'IT' gets a zombie to wiggle, giggle, or smile, that zombie then joins 'IT' in trying to get others to smile, giggle, or wiggle. The last zombie wins!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cindy Crawford and her baby sling

Style and fitness icon Cindy Crawford shares how she used a sling to do her post-baby workout

"Since having my son, I find I have a lot less time to work out, and it's nearly impossible to do it at a scheduled time," Cindy Crawford says. "My prenatal yoga teacher encouraged us to walk up to five miles a day. I only made it that far once, but I did walk two to three miles a couple times a week. And now I do those same walks with my little guy in a sling."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Will I Spoil My Baby If I Carry Her in a Sling?

Question: My friends and family feel that my baby’s going to be too dependent because she’s being worn in a sling a lot.

Answer: Researchers have discovered that a baby who doesn't receive responsive care — one who's rigidly scheduled to "cry it out" and spends a lot of alone time in a crib or playpen — develops a high level of stress hormones. This baby wouldn't be in physiologic balance. On the other hand, an attachment-parented infant is held frequently in the arms of a caregiver responding to the child's needs, and as a result, the infant grows up in a state of hormonal balance. The caregiver actually enhances a baby's physiologic well-being.

Read the full answer from America's leading pediatrician:

Monday, October 22, 2007


To be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

thank you!

Hello friends...thanks for visiting our's been a couple months, and I'm glad to see the wonderful feedback that you have sent us. It really helps us grow the blog in the right direction and give you what you want.

We hear you!
- We are going to continue the exclusive blog-only deals, so continue to tell your friends to get their codes and shop at TBL!
- We will continue the 'Share a Moment' quotes...these are my personal favorites, it brings a smile to my face each time I find one of those gems
- Many of you want more information on nursing, we'll find it for you!

Do email us at, and tell us what else you want to see on our blog!

from your editor


Stop trying to perfect your child, but keep trying to perfect your relationship with him. ~Dr. Henker

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Babies protect mothers against breast cancer: New study

WASHINGTON, Oct 2, 2007 (AFP) - Having children could reduce the risk of getting breast cancer because cells with strong protective characteristics are transferred from the baby in the womb to the mother, a study showed Tuesday.

Researchers in Seattle studied 82 women, 35 of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer, to test a theory that fetal cells which take up residence in the mother -- called fetal micro-chimerism -- protect against breast cancer. "

Most studies have looked at autoimmune diseases where chimerism has been shown to be bad, but so many women harbor micro-chimerism after pregnancy in detectable levels that I reasoned there must be some reason why nature decided this must be a good thing to do," the lead author on the study, V. K. Gadi told AFP."Perhaps it's this function of clearing cancer cells from your body. Another possibility is that it could participate in tissue repair," he said.

"My hypothesis was that maybe fetal cells can get into a mother and recognise a pre-cancer breast cancer cell and kill it before it becomes an active cancer," Gadi said."We have other studies from our group where we believe stem cells are really what are coming over, establishing themselves in various tissues and reproducing themselves," he added, urging follow-up studies.

Fetal cells could remain in the mother for the duration of her life, offering protection against cancer, Gadi said. The results of the study were published in the October issue of Cancer Research.

Monday, October 1, 2007

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Oct 1 - Oct 7, 2007

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Food for thought...

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings. ~Hodding Carter, Jr.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Look out for your EXTRA Ramadhan Treats! Updated weekly.

Sept 25 -Sept 29, 2007

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3D Baby Hands & Feet Sculpturing - Book early!

Our popular sessions are taken up quickly. Be amazed at how we transform your baby's adorable hands & feet sculptures into a priceless keepsake to last a lifetime.

- Oct 2nd (Tuesday) 12-2pm
- Oct 27th (Saturday) 2-4pm.

Venue: The Baby Loft showroom.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kids smarter than apes -- sometimes, anyway

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON, Sept 6 (Reuters) - It's official: Your toddler is smarter than a chimp, at least at some things.

A unique study comparing the abilities of human toddlers to chimpanzees and orangutans found that 2-year-old children have social learning skills superior to the apes, researchers said on Thursday.

In one social learning test, a researcher showed the children and apes how to pop open a plastic tube to get food or a toy contained inside. The children observed and imitated the solution. Chimpanzees and orangutans, however, tried to smash open the tube or yank out the contents with their teeth.

European scientists gave a battery of cognitive tests lasting three to five hours separately to 105 2-year-old children, 106 chimpanzees and 32 orangutans over two weeks.

"Using these multiple tests allows us to pinpoint where are the similarities and where are the differences," researcher Josep Call of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany told reporters.

The researchers believe their findings provide insight into the evolution of human cognition. People's brains are three times larger than those of the closest primate relatives. "This is the first time that anything like this has been done," added Max Planck Institute researcher Esther Herrmann. Chimpanzees and orangutans are among the great apes. Chimps are considered the closest genetic relatives to people, with orangutans a bit more distantly related.

The researchers found that the children were far more advanced than the chimps and orangutans in understanding nonverbal communications, copying another person's solution to a problem and understanding the intentions of others.

The apes were closer to the toddlers in some other tests like those measuring "physical cognitive skills" involving things like quantities and causality, the researchers found.

"Young human children who had been walking and talking for about one year, but who were still several years away from literacy and formal schooling, performed at basically an equivalent level to chimpanzees on tasks of physical cognition, but far outstripped both chimpanzees and orangutans on tasks of social cognition," they wrote in the journal Science.

"We may thus think of 2-year-old children's cognitive development in the physical domain as still basically equivalent to that of the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees some 6 million years ago ... but their social cognition as already well down the species-specific path."

The apes performed the tests in animal sanctuaries in Africa and Indonesia. In another study in the same journal, other researchers said they showed that apes and monkeys do possess skills like figuring out the intentions of others. They studied cotton-top tamarins, rhesus macaques and chimpanzees.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When you thought I wasn't looking you hung my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn't looking you fed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking you baked a birthday cake just for me, and I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking you said a prayer, and I believed there was a God that I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking you kissed me good-night, and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt--but that it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking you smiled, and it made me want to look that pretty, too.

When you thought I wasn't looking you cared, and I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking--I looked . . . and wanted to say thanks for all those things you did when you thought I wasn't looking.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Zen moment...

Came across this quote today and it made me laugh ... "The quickest way for a parent to get a child's attention is to sit down and look comfortable."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

New study links food additives to hyperactivity in children

PARIS, Sept 6, 2007 (AFP) - A cocktail of artificial colours and the commonly-used preservative sodium benzoate are linked to hyperactivity in children, according to a ground-breaking study published on Thursday by The Lancet.

The implications are far-reaching, say the investigators, who suggest that by vetting their child's diet, parents have a simple tool to help them tackle hyperactive behaviour.

Researchers at Southampton University in southern England recruited 153 local three-year-olds and 144 children aged eight or nine and assigned them to either of two groups.

One group received an ordinary fruit juice and the other was given a drink identical in look and taste that contained common commercial additives. Both drinks were supplied to parents in identical, sealed anonymous bottles.

The "additives" group itself was split into two batches.

Some children were given "Mix A," a drink which contained artificial colourings typically found in a couple of 56-gramme (two-ounce) bags of sweets.

Others were given "Mix B" which had a higher level of colourings, equivalent (in the dosage for the eight-year-olds) to consuming the additives in four such bags of sweets.

Both mixes had the same amount of sodium benzoate.

Before the six-week trial began, the researchers asked parents and teachers to assess the child for overactive, impulsive and inattentive behaviour -- the hallmarks of hyperactivity.

A third yardstick was given by trained observers (in fact, psychology graduates), who sat discreetly in the classrooms and noted each child's behaviour according to an international set of measures.

For the first week of the trial, the children followed their typical diet.

After that, sweets and drinks with additives were withdrawn, and parents were asked to substitute with the trial drink instead.

The amount of the drink given to the child was in proportion to the amount of artificial colouring removed from their usual diet. The parents did not know whether the drink was Mix A, Mix B or the placebo.

Six weeks later, the children were assessed again for hyperactivity.

Mix A had a "significantly adverse" effect on the three-year-olds, although Mix B made no difference on this group. In the older children, both Mix A and Mix B had a strong effect.

"Overall, children who took the mix moved about 10 percent closer to the definition of being hyperactive," lead author Jim Stevenson, a professor of psychology at the university, told AFP.

"We now have clear evidence that mixtures of certain food colours and benzoate preservative can adversely influence the behaviour of children," said Stevenson.

"However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent all hyperactive disorders. We know that many other influences are at work, but this at least is one a child can avoid."

The first caution about food additives and their impact on child health were made more than three decades ago, but evidence to give flesh to this warning has been scant or contested as unscientific.

In the past decade, hyperactivity has -- apparently -- ballooned into serious proportions in some countries, stirring controversy along the way.

US doctors commonly see hyperactivity as a medical condition (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD) and prescribe a potent drug, ritalin, to treat it.

Other experts speculate that hyperactivity has social causes such as home instability and poor education, and say use of powerful, mind-altering drugs is dangerous.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Increased carrying reduces infant crying

A randomized controlled trial

The crying pattern of normal infants in industrialized societies is characterized by an overall increase until 6 weeks of age followed by a decline until 4 months of age with a preponderance of evening crying. We hypothesized that this "normal" crying could be reduced by supplemental carrying, that is, increased carrying throughout the day in addition to that which occurs during feeding and in response to crying.

In a randomized controlled trial, 99 mother-infant pairs were assigned to an increased carrying or control group. At the time of peak crying (6 weeks of age), infants who received supplemental carrying cried and fussed 43% less (1.23 v 2.16 h/d) overall, and 51% less (0.63 v 1.28 hours) during the evening hours (4 PM to midnight). Similar but smaller decreases occurred at 4, 8, and 12 weeks of age.

Decreased crying and fussing were associated with increased contentment and feeding frequency but no change in feeding duration or sleep. We conclude that supplemental carrying modifies "normal" crying by reducing the duration and altering the typical pattern of crying and fussing in the first 3 months of life. The relative lack of carrying in our society may predispose to crying and colic in normal infants.

PMID: 3517799 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Pediatrics 1986 May;77(5):641-8.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Infant Carriers and Spinal Stress

by Rochelle L. Casses, D.C.

As we are finally realizing the benefits of "wearing" our infants while we perform our daily activities, we must be careful not to compromise the integrity of our child's spine through the use of improper carriers. Spondylolisthesis (specifically, Type II/isthmic) is a condition that can result from excessive stress in the low back, such as a baby's spine might experience in certain carriers on the market today. It is relatively uncommon, but when aggravated is extremely painful. This article explains which styles of baby carriers promote healthy spine development in an infant and describes the unnecessary stress and resulting spinal condition that can result from using certain carriers.

A healthy adult spine has four curves when viewed from the side, located in the neck (cervical spine), mid-back (thoracic), low back (lumbar) and base of the spine (sacrum). Upon entering the world, a newborn has only two curves in her spine: the mid-back and the base of the spine. These two curves are called the primary or kyphotic curves. They have an apex or "hump" at the back of the body. The curves in the neck and low back develop later and are termed secondary or lordotic curves. The curve in the cervical spine develops as the child begins to lift his head and the neck muscles are strengthened. The curve in the lumbar spine results as the child starts to crawl. The lordotic curves have an apex at the front of the body. These four curves — two primary and two secondary — are extremely important in the spine (both adult and child), for this is how the body handles the stress of gravity. If these curves do not exist, the body's center of balance is shifted, causing undue stress on the spinal column and spinal cord.

A baby's spine is placed in a compromising position in many of today's popular carriers. If the carrier positions the infant upright, with the legs hanging down and the bodyweight supported at the base of the baby's spine (i.e. at the crotch), it puts undue stress on the spine which can adversely affect the development of the spinal curves and, in some cases, cause spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis is defined as the forward slipping of a vertebra on the one below it. The degrees of severity are determined using the Meyerding grading scale, with grade 1 being the least amount of slippage and grade 5 being complete slippage off the vertebra below. This condition may have a related stress fracture at the pars interarticularis, a structure at the back of the vertebra that takes most of the stress inflicted on the spine when it is arched backwards. When present, a spondylolisthesis occurs at the fifth lumbar vertebra 90% of the time and at the fourth lumbar vertebra 9% of the time.

Spondylolisthesis is documented in approximately 5% of white males, but is prevalent in native Eskimos (as high as 60% of the population is affected). There has been much discussion on the high percentage of affected Eskimos as to whether it is a genetic predisposition or related to environmental factors (i.e., papoose carriers). Knowing how dynamic and vital the biomechanics of the spine are, I believe that environmental factors are the cause. If the trend continues in the U.S. to carry infants in carriers (or place them in walkers, jumpers, etc.) that place their spines in a weight bearing position before the spine is developmentally ready to do so, I believe we will see an increase in the incidence of spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis has been referred to as congenital anomalies of the spine, but there is no supporting embryological evidence for this assumption.1 There are factors that predispose a person to this condition, such as weakness in the posterior structures of the vertebra, failure of muscles and ligaments to absorb forces, anomalies of the lubosacral spine, and activities that place high stress on the posterior structures of the spine. Little is known about spondylolisthesis. More research needs to be done specifically addressing the weight bearing position of some carriers. In the meantime, we can take preventative steps by choosing alternate carriers, both for ourselves and as gifts for others.

What I have found to be the ideal carrier is the sling. There are many variations of the sling, but one should look for the following in any type of carrier:
Before an infant can hold her head on her own, the carrier should support the neck. A sling cradles the infant just like your arms would, unlike vertical carriers which can actually allow a whiplash type injury.
The carrier should not place the infant's spine in a weight bearing position too early. (The young baby should be horizontal or inclined, with the spine supported along its length.)
When a baby wants to be more upright to see the world around him (usually around age 4 to 5 months), the carrier should allow him to sit cross-legged, so his weight is dissipated through his legs and hips, as opposed to the style that has the legs hanging down, where the young spine has to bear the entire weight.

When considering the purchase of a baby carrier, you can often just ask yourself if you would be comfortable in it. Would you feel like you were in a hammock (a sling), or in a parachute harness, with your legs hanging down? Laying in a hammock is better for all of us.

Other benefits of sling type carriers include easy accessibility to breastfeeding, ability to wear baby facing toward or away from wearer, ability to wear sling on back, front or side.

You may be wondering, "What about backpacks? Are they bad? At what age or stage of development is it okay to carry a child in a backpack? What should you look for when buying one?" Wait until your child can sit alone well before carrying him in a backpack. The seat of the backpack should support the child's entire bottom — not just between the legs, leaving the legs to dangle. One that has a foot rest is preferred.

The choice of infant carriers is a small thing when compared to all the other concerns that face parents, but it is a decision that can have lifelong effects. By choosing a sling type carrier for your baby, you may be preventing a lifetime of backaches and other spinal stresses.

Rochelle and Scott Casses own a chiropractic clinic in Carslisle, Pennsylvania, USA. Their 11-month-old son Palmer has accompanied them to work since he was born. Rochelle and Scott schedule their appointments so that while one of them is with a patient, the other handles reception duties and cares for Palmer. Rochelle says, "The patients really enjoy seeing Palmer, and he enjoys the interaction each day." A section of their office serves as a playroom for Palmer as he becomes more mobile. (1996)

Hensinger, R. N.; Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis in Children and Adolescents; Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, August 1989 71A: 1098-1107
Shahriaae, H.; A Family with Spondylolisthesis; Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, December 1979 61A: 1256-1258
Tower S. S. and Pratt W.; Spondylolysis and Associated Spondylolisthesis in Eskimo and Athabascan Populations; Clinical Orthopedics, January 1990
Wiltse, Leon; Fatigue Fracture: The Basic Lesion in Isthmic Spondylolisthesis; Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, January 1975 57A: 17-22

This article was originally written for The Continuum Concept Letter (now defunct) and has been edited for this website.

Copyright ©1996 by The Liedloff Society for the Continuum Concept, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Children's fear of new foods may be in their genes

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - UK researchers have provided an explanation for why some children hate to try new foods -- it's in the genes.

In a large study of twins, which included both identical and fraternal twin pairs, Dr. Lucy J. Cooke of University College London and her colleagues found that nearly 80 percent of children's tendency to avoid unfamiliar foods was inherited.

"Parents can be reassured that their child's reluctance to try new foods is not simply the result of poor parental feeding practices, but it is partly in the genes," Cooke and her team write. And, they add, repeatedly offering foods to children can make the foods more familiar, and eventually even liked.

Both humans and other animals show a reluctance to try new foods, known scientifically as "food neophobia." This avoidance may have had an evolutionary advantage in preventing exposure to potentially toxic foods, the researchers note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "In the modern environment where foods are generally safe to eat, neophobia appears principally to have an adverse effect on food choices, particularly on intake of foods and vegetables," they say.

To investigate the role of inheritance and upbringing in food neophobia, Cooke and her team surveyed the parents of 5,390 twin pairs 8 to 11 years old. Studying twins allows researchers to separate out the effects of genes and environment -- identical twins share 100 percent of their genes; fraternal twins share only about half; while both types of twins have the same childhood home environment if they are raised together.

Identical twins were much more likely to share tendencies toward food neophobia than fraternal twins were, the researchers found, with inheritance accounting for 78 percent of these tendencies. Shared environment had no effect, with the remaining 22 percent influenced by non-shared environmental factors.

Past studies of other behavioral similarities among family members have also found they are strongly influenced by genes and "surprisingly little" by the shared environment, Cooke and her colleagues note.

But these findings do not mean that parenting is unimportant in these behaviors. It's more likely, they add, that parents treat children differently, possibly because they sense differences in their needs, or that more genetically different children experience the same situation differently.

And inheritance doesn't have to determine this behavior, the researchers add. Laboratory research has shown that the more frequently children are offered a particular food, the more likely they are to come to like it.

"New foods can become familiar, and disliked foods become liked, with repeated presentation, although the process might be more laborious with a highly neophobic child," they write. "Guidance in effective feeding techniques and modification of other influential environmental factors may help to minimize the negative effects of neophobia on children's diets."

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2007.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hello from The Baby Loft

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