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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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.