Nutrition Recommendations for Babies and Children…

For Birth through the First Year

Definitions

  • DRIs = Dietary Reference Intakes. Different nutrients include RDAs, AIs, and ULs.
    • RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance. The average daily level that most healthy people need to prevent a deficiency. RDAs vary by age and gender.
    • AIs = Adequate Intakes. Used when there is not enough information to develop an RDA. A “best guess” amount based on the available evidence.
    • UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The maximum daily intake that is unlikely to cause harm with long-term use.

Recommendations

Calcium: Calcium needs increase steadily throughout childhood and remain high throughout the teen years when the bulk of the bone development takes place.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 200 mg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 260 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 06 months: 1,000 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 712 months: 1,500 mg

Choline: Choline is needed for optimal brain and nervous system development. Many children might not get enough of this important nutrient.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intakes (AI) 06 months: 125 mg
    • Adequate Intakes (AI) 712 months: 150 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Not established for this age group

Folate: Adequate folate is important to maintain normal growth rates in children.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 65 mcg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 80 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Not established for this age group

Iodine: Babies need enough iodine for normal thyroid function and for proper brain and bone development.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 110 mcg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 130 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Not established for this age group

Iron: Breastfed babies get about 0.27 mg of iron per day from breast milk.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months old: 0.27 mg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 712 months: 11 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 712 months: 40 mg

Vitamin A: Food and supplement labels list vitamin A in International Units (IUs), but as the availability of vitamin A to the body varies depending on the source. Nutritionists use “Retinol Activity Equivalents” (1 IU of vitamin A (retinol) = 0.3 mcg RAE).

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 400 mcg RAE
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 500 mcg RAE
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) Birth3 years: 600 mcg RAE (2,000 IU)

Vitamin B12: Breastfed babies of vegetarian or vegan moms may not get enough vitamin B12.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 0.4 mcg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 0.5 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Vitamin B12 appears safe at all intake levels from food and supplements.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a key player in immune system and collagen health, and helps improve iron absorption.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 06 months: 40 mg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 712 months: 50 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Not established for this age group

Vitamin D: Breastfed babies should receive supplemental vitamin D, as breast milk contains very little of this nutrient.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 012 months: 400 IU
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 06 months: 1,000 IU
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 712 months: 1,500 IU

How much is too much?

  • Most children won’t get too much calcium from diet alone, but when combined with supplements, it’s possible to overdose.
  • You can’t overdose on naturally occurring folate, but fortified foods and folic acid-containing supplements should be consumed in moderation.
  • Iodine excess can cause symptoms similar to iodine deficiency.
  • Excess iron can cause serious organ toxicity.
  • Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so it can build up in the body and cause toxicity. Only pre-formed vitamin A from animal sources and supplements containing vitamin A as retinol or retinyl palmitate can cause toxicity; pro-vitamin A from plant sources doesn’t have this effect.
  • Excess vitamin C can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  • Most children are more likely to have a deficiency of vitamin D than to be getting too much. However, vitamin D can be toxic in large amounts.

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Nutrition Recommendations for Children

For Ages 1 through 8

Definitions

  • DRIs = Dietary Reference Intakes. Different nutrients include RDAs, AIs, and ULs.
    • RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance. The average daily level that most healthy people need to prevent a deficiency. RDAs vary by age and gender.
    • AIs = Adequate Intakes. Used when there is not enough information to develop an RDA. A “best guess” amount based on the available evidence.
    • UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The maximum daily intake that is unlikely to cause harm with long-term use.

Recommendations

Calcium: Calcium needs increase steadily throughout childhood and remain high throughout the teen years when the bulk of the bone development takes place.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance 13 years old: 700 mg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance 48 years old: 1,000 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 18 years: 2,500 mg

Choline: Choline is needed for optimal brain and nervous system development. Many children might not get enough of this important nutrient.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 13 years: 200 mg
    • Adequate Intake (AI) 48 years: 250 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 18 years: 1 gram

Folate: Adequate folate is important to maintain normal growth rates in children.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years: 150 mcg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years: 200 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 13 years: 300 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 400 mcg

Iodine: Even mild iodine deficiency could cause subtle changes in brain function in children.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 18 years: 90 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 13 years: 200 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 300 mcg

Iron: Young children are at high risk for iron deficiency because of rapid growth and increased needs.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years: 7 mg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years old: 10 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) Up to 13 years: 40 mg
    • Iron poisoning is a leading cause of accidental death among children under five years old. Keep all iron-containing supplements out of the reach of children and never allow children to have more than the recommended amount of iron-containing supplements.

VitaminA: Food and supplement labels list vitamin A in International Units (IUs), but as the availability of vitamin A to the body varies depending on the source. Nutritionists use “Retinol Activity Equivalents” (1 IU vitamin A [retinol] = 0.3 mcg RAE).

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years: 300 mcg RAE
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years: 400 mcg RAE
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) Up to 3 years: 600 mcg RAE (2,000 IU)
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 900 mcg RAE (3,000 IU)

Vitamin B12: Vegetarian or vegan children may not get enough vitamin B12.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years: 0.9 mcg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years: 1.2 mcg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL): Vitamin B12 appears safe at all intake levels from food and supplements.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a key player in immune system and collagen health, and helps improve iron absorption.

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 13 years old: 15 mg
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 48 years old: 25 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 13 years: 400 mg
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 650 mg

Vitamin D

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 18 years old: 600 IU
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 13 years: 2,500 IU
    • Upper Intake Level (UL) 48 years: 3,000 IU

Don’t forget the omega-3s

  • Essential fatty acids are especially important for children, where they support healthy brain and nervous system development and may be helpful for behavioral problems, depression, asthma, and for diabetes and tooth decay prevention.
  • No formal recommendations have been made regarding omega-3 intake, but keep these points in mind when thinking about omega-3s for children.
    • Children should eat no more than 12 ounces per week of “safer” fish, such as rainbow trout, clams, catfish, and wild salmon. Avoid feeding children shark, albacore tuna, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish due to high levels of contaminants in these fish.
    • Some plants foods—like soybeans, flaxseeds, and walnuts—contain omega-3 fatty acids, but the conversion of the omega-3s in these foods to the form that is most beneficial for health may not be adequate to fulfill children’s nutritional needs.
    • If you’re giving an omega-3 supplement to a child, look for one with a purity guarantee.

How much is too much?

  • Most children won’t get too much calcium from diet alone, but when combined with supplements, it’s possible to overdose.
  • You can’t overdose on naturally occurring folate, but fortified foods and folic acid-containing supplements should be consumed in moderation.
  • Iodine excess can cause symptoms similar to iodine deficiency.
  • Excess iron can cause serious organ toxicity.
  • Vitamin A is fat-soluble, so it can build up in the body and cause toxicity. Only pre-formed vitamin A from animal sources and supplements containing vitamin A as retinol or retinyl palmitate can cause toxicity; pro-vitamin A from plant sources doesn’t have this effect.
  • Excess vitamin C can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  • Most children are more likely to have a deficiency of vitamin D than to be getting too much. However, vitamin D can be toxic in large amounts.

From Mother to Baby: ‘Secondhand Sugars’ Can Pass Through Breast Milk

Add breast milk to the list of foods and beverages that contain fructose, a sweetener linked to health issues ranging from obesity to diabetes.

A new study by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC indicates that a sugar called fructose is passed from mother to infant through breast milk. The proof-of-concept study involving 25 mothers and infants provides preliminary evidence that even fructose equivalent to the weight of a grain of rice in a full day’s serving of breast milk is associated with increased body weight, muscle and bone mineral content.

Found in fruit, processed food, and soda, fructose is not a natural component of breast milk, which is still considered the gold standard diet for babies. The “secondhand sugar” is derived from a mom’s diet, said Michael Goran, lead author of the new study published in the journal Nutrients.

Exposing infants and children to higher amounts of sugar during growth and development can produce problems with cognitive development and learning as well as create lifelong risk for obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease and heart disease, said Goran, founding director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the Keck School of Medicine.

Frappuccinos, energy drinks, cranberry juice cocktails, and fructose are examples of sources of secondhand sugars. Healthy, naturally occurring sugars in breast milk include lactose, which is beneficial to infant growth and development.

“Lactose is the main source of carbohydrate energy and breast milk is very beneficial, but it’s possible that you can lose some of that beneficial effect depending on maternal diet and how that may affect the composition of breast milk,” Goran said. “Other studies have shown that fructose and artificial sweeteners are particularly damaging during critical periods of growth and development in children. We are beginning to see that any amount of fructose in breast milk is risky.”

Goran and his colleagues did not collect mothers’ dietary data for this study, so they were unable to determine if the trace amounts of fructose found in breast milk are positively associated with habitual consumption of fructose-rich foods and drinks.

“We know very little about why some children eventually become overweight or obese,” Goran said. “It’s important that we study what may be taking place in the earliest times of their development to determine whether anything could be done just after birth to lower their risks.”

How much is too much?

The first year of life is a critical period for building brain networks and for cementing the foundation for the metabolic system. Minute amounts of fructose may have detrimental effects on infant metabolism, said Tanya Alderete, co-author of the study and a postdoctoral research scholar at the Keck School of Medicine. Ingestion of fructose could coach pre-fat storage cells to become fat cells, raising the baby’s risk of one day becoming overweight or obese.

“Early life is a period of rapid development and early nutrition is strongly linked to long-term health outcomes,” Alderete said. “We know that the decision to breastfeed or bottle feed may have impacts on later health. Results from this work suggest that the composition of breast milk may be another important factor to consider in regard to infant health.”

Looking at the study data, Alderete said the average breastfeeding 1-month-old baby could consume just 10 milligrams (about a grain of rice) of fructose from breast milk a day, yet he would see adverse changes in body composition during growth.

A single microgram of fructose per milliliter of breast milk – that’s 1,000 times lower than the amount of lactose found in breast milk – is associated with a 5 to 10 percent increase in body weight and body fat for infants at six months of age, Goran said.

Still, Alderete emphasized that breastfeeding is the ideal form of infant nutrition and mothers should continue to breastfeed for as long as possible or up to one year.

Baby fat

Twenty-five mothers brought their infants to the Oklahoma Health Sciences Center when the babies were 1 month old and again when they were 6 months old. The mothers fasted for at least three hours prior to the visit.

The infants were fed breast milk, consumed less than 8 ounces of formula a week and had no solid foods, according to their mothers.

Researchers took a breast milk sample from each mom and scanned it for sugars such as lactose, glucose, and fructose. They measured each baby’s fat mass, muscle mass and bone mass.

Infant growth was not related to mothers’ pre-pregnancy body mass index, a measure of body fat, or to any of the other breast milk components, scientists found. The researchers adjusted their results for the sex of the infant and the baby’s weight at 1 month.

Researchers at the Childhood Obesity Research Center at USC are looking at how maternal food intake affects fructose levels in breast milk as well as how specific elements in breast milk can alter a baby’s developing gut bacteria, which neutralizes toxic byproducts of digestion. This “gut microbiome” impacts infant growth and metabolism. Based on early study results, Goran offers some advice to pregnant women and new mothers.

“New moms can prevent passing secondhand sugars to their children by eating and drinking fewer sugars while pregnant or breastfeeding,” Goran said. “Caregivers can shield babies and children from harmful effects of sugars by carefully choosing infant formula, baby foods and snacks without added sugars or sweeteners.”

The study was supported by Mead Johnson Nutrition, the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and National Institutes of Health grants awarded to the Washington University Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease Center.

Article: Fructose in Breast Milk Is Positively Associated with Infant Body Composition at 6 Months of Age, Michael I. Goran, Ashley A. Martin, Tanya L. Alderete, Hideji Fujiwara and David A. Fields, Nutrients, doi: 10.3390/nu9020146, published 16 February 2017.

Vitamin D May Improve Bone Health in Winter Babies

Taking care of a wee one this winter? You may want to talk to your doctor about supplementing with vitamin D. New research has found that babies born during the winter months may have markers of improved bone health if their mothers take vitamin D. The study was published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology and included 737 pregnant women ages 18 or older who had vitamin D blood concentrations between 25 nmol/L and 100 nmol/L when they enrolled in the study. The women were randomly assigned to receive either 1,000 IU per day of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) or a placebo from the time of enrollment (before the 17th week of pregnancy) until delivery. At weeks 14 and 34 of pregnancy, researchers took blood samples to measure the women’s vitamin D concentrations and collected information about diet, smoking status, change in health status, and other factors. Researchers then ran a test on each newborn within two weeks of birth to assess bone mineral content and other measures of body composition. At the end of the study, researchers found that:

  • Overall, there were no differences in bone mineral content or other measures of body composition between newborns born to mothers supplementing with vitamin D and those not supplementing with vitamin D.
  • A second analysis that included the season of birth, however, revealed that babies born in winter months to mothers receiving vitamin D had higher bone mineral content, whole-body bone area, bone density, and body fat mass than winter babies born to mothers receiving a placebo.
  • Mothers who supplemented with vitamin D were less likely to have vitamin D insufficiency at 34 weeks than mothers taking a placebo.

While other research has provided conflicting data on the significance of a mother’s vitamin D levels on their child’s bone development, these results suggest that maintaining vitamin D sufficiency in pregnancy may result in higher bone mineral content in newborns born in the winter. Other research has further suggested that bone status at birth may be a predictor of bone health later in life. As for getting vitamin D, sunlight is a major source for mothers, babies, and others, but during the dark days of winter, other sources are necessary. There are only a few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, but you can also get it from fortified foods like cereal and milk. A supplement can also be a good way to get a boost of D.

Source: Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology

Breast-Feeding Babies Makes for Fitter Children

The list of breastfeeding benefits continues to grow. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, babies who are exclusively breastfed for three months or more have a better chance of being physically fit as young children and adolescents.

Bring on the breast

There are lots of reasons to breastfeed when you can, including lower risks of childhood

  • gastrointestinal, ear, and respiratory infections,
  • bacterial meningitis,
  • allergies and asthma,
  • cancers,
  • obesity,
  • diabetes, and
  • sudden infant death syndrome.

Recent studies have suggested that breastfeeding might also predict cardiorespiratory fitness levels later in life, but the results haven’t been consistent. Fitness levels impact overall health, so any strategies aimed at improving fitness may also help reduce mortality from a wide range of health conditions later in life.

The study looked at 1,025 children and 971 adolescents as part of the European Youth Heart Study to determine the effect of breastfeeding duration on fitness levels in childhood. Mothers were asked if they exclusively breastfed their babies (meaning that the babies had no other liquid or solid foods during this time) and for how long. The study didn’t include babies who were given a combination of formula and breast milk.The children’s fitness levels were measured using a standardized cycling test, and their height, weight, body mass index, and body fat percentage were assessed.

Children and adolescents who were exclusively breastfed for at least three months as babies had significantly higher fitness levels than those who weren’t breastfed for as long. Longer duration of breast-feeding was associated with better fitness even in heavier children and in those who were less physically active. “Our findings suggest that early infant feeding method affects an important health marker associated with the cardiovascular disease later in life,” commented the study’s authors.

Breastfeeding for more than six months didn’t seem to provide any additional fitness benefits.

Better fitness for life

Being in better shape decreases the risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis later in life. Try these tips to give your child a head start for a fit life.

  • Breastfeed your baby. If you can do it, breastfeeding is best for your baby. But don’t worry if you can’t; there are still lots of things you can do to boost your baby’s health.
  • Be a good role model. What we do is far more important than what we say, and kids get the message loud and clear when we make exercise a priority.
  • Get moving together. What better motivation to move is there than playing outside together? Whether it’s a game of tag, a family bike ride, or a stroll around the block after dinner, exercise is always better with a pal.
  • Let them get their Zzzs. Studies have found that the amount of sleep a child gets directly affects their chance of becoming obese, and being obese can make it harder to stay fit. Help your child maintain a healthy weight by making sleep a priority.

(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:498505)

Breast-Feeding Support

Breast-feeding can be beneficial for both baby and mother. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Keep up the supplementsContinue taking your prenatal vitamin supplement to help supply extra nutrients needed during lactation
  • Get the nutrients you needEat a balanced diet of unprocessed foods with extra calories and calcium to support lactation
  • Kick the habitsReduce or eliminate sources of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine to prevent transferring unhealthy amounts of these substances through your breast milk
  • Maximize the milk supplyFeed your baby frequently, and for as long as possible; help increase and maintain your milk supply by minimizing fatigue and stress
  • Perfect your positioningSee a lactation specialist or other knowledgeable healthcare practitioner for guidance on changing your baby’s feeding position and preventing or relieving sore nipples

5 Great Ways to Green Your Baby

As a parent, you naturally want to protect your baby’s health and well-being. Well, you can do that and promote a healthy environment by making choices that are good for your child and good for the planet.

Pay attention

The first step toward that goal, says Christopher Gavigan, CEO and executive director of Healthy Child Healthy World (HCHW), is awareness. “The products we use in our home, the foods we buy, the toys our children play with, all can affect the health of our family.” One of HCHW’s missions is to offer simple, practical, science-based steps that anyone can use to create a greener home environment. “No parent can do everything,” Gavigan points out, “but every parent can do something.”

Clean green

When baby-proofing your home, think beyond plugging outlets and putting up safety gates. By switching to non-toxic, environmentally friendly household cleaners—look for phosphate-free, petroleum-free, and fragrance-free—you can keep the air, floor, tub, and furniture clear of harsh chemicals. And since children are especially vulnerable to pesticides and likely to put anything they get their hands on into their mouths, including grass, practice natural pest control in your home and yard.

Shop organic

This is top of Gavigan’s list of positive changes. If you can’t go completely organic, start with dairy and meats and the fruits and vegetables that typically have the highest pesticide residue. Further limit your baby’s exposure to toxins by choosing clothing, linen, blankets, and even a nursery rug and crib mattress made from organic, naturally dyed fabrics. Bathe, shampoo, and lather your little one with organic soap, shampoo, and lotion. Opt for non-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and furniture. Look for toys and books made from untreated wood, paper, organic fabric or metal, materials that are nontoxic and safe for a baby to chew on.

Pick plastics wisely

Many baby bottles, rattles, and bath toys are made from plastic. Whenever possible opt for glass, nonleaded ceramic, wooden or stainless steel alternatives. The most eco- and baby-friendly are bioplastics, which are made from corn and other substances. To identify a plastic, look at the number inside the recycling symbol. Bioplastics will be labeled as such.

The catchall category, #7, includes less desirable plastics. Better choices are polyethylene (#1, #2, and #4) and polypropylene (#5), which are nonchlorinated and use fewer toxic additives than other plastics.Avoid PVC (polyvinyl chloride)—identified with a “V” or #3—or polystyrene (#6), which can leach chemicals. Regardless of the type, plastic products should not be used in the microwave or dishwasher, since heat can cause a chemical breakdown.

Watch the bottom line

The typical child goes through 8,000 diapers before she’s toilet trained. In the United States that translates to 49 million diapers disposed of each day. Most of those end up in landfills, where they will remain for the next 200 to 500 years before they decompose. Want eco-friendlier options?

Start by choosing diapers that are chlorine-free and perfume-free. Try dual-layer “hybrid” diapers that have a washable, reusable outer layer, and a liner that is absorbent, disposable, and biodegradable. In fact, some liners can be safely flushed down the toilet.

Cloth diapers have had a makeover of late. Many come with snaps, fitted waist, and legs, and can be used with liners. If you do go disposable, look for the new, eco-friendly options. By taking a few steps toward a greener environment you can have a positive impact on your baby’s health as you limit your impact on the planet your children and their children will inherit.

Christopher Gavigan’s book, Healthy Child Healthy World, Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home, is filled with tips on how to do just that. For more information, log onto www.healthychild.org

Be Fussy about Your Baby Formula

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that feeding infants a certain type of nutrient-enriched formula led to faster weight gain in infancy—but also made for chubbier children later.

Bigger isn’t always better for babies

With obesity rates continuing to climb, recent research has aimed to identify what factors—other than the obvious eating too much and not exercising enough—might contribute to a person’s chance of becoming overweight. Some studies have suggested that beyond lifestyle factors and genetic makeup, overnutrition early in life could set the stage for weight problems later.

The new report combined the results of two separate studies (with a total of 243 children) that compared the effects of a standard infant formula with that of a nutrient-enriched one (that was higher in protein and calories) on growth promotion in the first few months of life, and on the chances of having more body fat at five to eight years of age. The children were all born small for gestational age, meaning that they were below the 20th percentile for weight at birth.

The nutrient-enriched formula used in one of the studies was provided by Farley’s Health Products (Farley’s PremCare). (A similar product is available from Gerber, called Good Start Premature 24.) The infants were assigned to receive either the standard or nutrient-enriched formula until six to nine months of age. Fat mass was measured at follow-up to assess the long-term effects of the different formulas.

Bigger for life?

Babies assigned to receive the nutrient-enriched formula were significantly heavier and longer than the standard formula babies at six to nine months in one study, but not the other. In both studies, children who were assigned the nutrient-enriched formula in infancy had more fat mass in childhood than the standard formula children—up to 38% more in one study. “These data support a causal link between faster early weight gain and a later risk of obesity,” said the study’s authors. “These results suggest that the primary prevention of obesity could begin in infancy, with major implications for cardiovascular disease risk and public health,” said the UK researchers.

These findings are in line with others that have found that about 20% of the risk of becoming overweight in adulthood can be attributed to infant nutrition (formula feeding instead of breastfeeding) or to being in the highest group for weight gain in infancy.

So while no one is saying to put your baby on a diet, it’s probably best to opt for a standard formula if you can’t breast-feed—even if your baby was born on the small side.

(Am J Clin Nutr 2010;doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29302)

Bed-Sharing with Baby: the Risks and Benefits

A question to all you parents out there: would you share your bed with your infant? This question is likely to encourage a diverse range of answers, as it is certainly a controversial topic. Some studies say bed-sharing with a baby is beneficial, while others have linked the practice to serious health risks. So, what are new parents to do?
Mother sleeping on ned with baby
The percentage of infants who share a bed with a parent, another caregiver or a child more than doubled between 1993 and 2010, from 6.5% to 13.5%.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly recommend against bed-sharing with an infant – defined as sleeping on the same surface as an infant, such as a chair, sofa or bed.

But according to a 2013 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the percentage of infants who share a bed with a parent, another caregiver or a child more than doubled between 1993 and 2010, from 6.5% to 13.5%.

Some of you may be surprised by this increase, given the well-documented health risks that have been linked to infant bed-sharing.

Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study from the AAP citing bed-sharing as the primary cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – the leading cause of death among infants aged 1-12 months.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that among 8,207 infant deaths from 24 US states occurring between 2004-2012, 69% of infants were bed-sharing at the time of death.

“Bed-sharing may increase the risk of overheating, rebreathing or airway obstruction, head covering and exposure to tobacco smoke. All of these are risk factors for SIDS,” Dr. Michael Goodstein, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Pennsylvania State University and a member of the AAP Task Force for SIDS, told MNT, adding:

“Furthermore, bed-sharing in an adult bed not designed for infant safety exposes the infant to additional risks for accidental injury and death, such as suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, falls and strangulation.

Infants – particularly those in the first 3 months of life and those born prematurely and/or with low birth weight – are at highest risk, possibly because immature motor skills and muscle strength make it difficult to escape potential threats.”

More recently, another study from the AAP found that even sleeping with an infant on a sofa significantly increases the risk of SIDS. Of 9,073 sleep-related infant deaths, researchers found that 12.9% occurred on sofas. The majority of these infants were sharing the sofa with another individual when they died.

Aside from the study statistics, some reports have shown that the risks of infant death as a result of bed-sharing are very real.

In 2012, UK newspaper The Daily Mail reported on the deaths of 3-week-old twin babies in Idaho, who died after their mother accidentally suffocated them while they were sleeping in her bed. A few months later, the newspaper reported on another incident, in which a mother accidentally suffocated her baby while rolling over him in her sleep.

Most recently, a report from WQAD.com revealed that a man and woman had been charged for the death of their 4-month-old baby, after sleeping beside the baby while under the influence and rolling on top of him.

According to the AAP, bed-sharing is particularly risky if a parent is very tired, has been smoking, using alcohol or has taken drugs.

Such reports prompt the question: if bed-sharing can put an infant’s life at risk, why are more parents taking up the practice?

Bed-sharing and breastfeeding

The primary reason many mothers choose to bed-share with their infant is to promote prolonged breastfeeding.

Mother breastfeeding her baby while bed-sharing
Last year, a study claimed that mothers who bed-share with their infants are more likely to breastfeed.

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine supports bed-sharing when it comes to breastfeeding. And last year, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggested that mothers who regularly bed-share with their infants are more likely to breastfeed for longer. Numerous other studies have reached the same conclusion.

But it is not just the studies that hail bed-sharing for promoting breastfeeding. Pediatrician Dr. William Sears is possibly the most famous advocate for bed-sharing, after openly supporting the practice in The Baby Book in 1993.

“Put yourself in the eyes of your baby,” Dr. Sears told The Huffington Post in 2011. “Ask, ‘If I were baby Johnny or baby Suzy, where would I rather sleep?’ In a dark lonely room behind bars, or nestled next to my favorite person in the world, inches away from my favorite cuisine?”

For many mothers, breastfeeding can be a struggle. They have to pull themselves out of bed on numerous occasions throughout the night and try to stay awake while their infant feeds; doing this night after night can be exhausting, causing many mothers to give up breastfeeding altogether.

This is why many parents see bed-sharing as a viable option; the baby can feed while the mother can get more sleep.

Citing the benefits of bed-sharing for breastfeeding in a blog for The Huffington Post, Diana West, of La Leche League International – a nonprofit organization that promotes breastfeeding – says:

“Bed-sharing works so well because breastfeeding mothers and babies are hardwired to be together during vulnerable sleep periods. When they bed-share, the baby’s happier and doesn’t have to cry to get the mother’s attention, and she doesn’t have to get out of bed – she just latches the baby on and maybe even falls back to sleep.”

“She automatically lies on her side facing the baby with her lower arm up and knee bent,” West adds. “This creates a protected ‘cove’ that keeps her from rolling toward the baby and prevents anyone else from rolling into that space. The baby stays oriented toward her breasts in that safe cove, away from pillows. Their sleep-wake cycles synchronize so that they both have low-stress, low-level arousals through the night.”

“This instinctive and mutually beneficial behavior probably explains why research has shown that the new mothers who get the most sleep are the ones who breastfeed exclusively and bed-share,” she says.

Dr. Goodstein told us, however, that there have been no studies assessing whether room-sharing with an infant rather than bed-sharing also promotes breastfeeding.

What are the other potential benefits and risks of bed-sharing?

Contrary to the majority of research on bed-sharing, some health care professionals claim bed-sharing with an infant actually reduces the risk of SIDS – if it is done safely.

Dr. Sears is one of these, noting that in countries where bed-sharing is common practice – such as Asia, Africa and parts of Europe – SIDS rates are at their lowest. “While there could be many other factors contributing to the lower incidence of SIDS in these cultures, all the population studies I’ve seen have come to the same conclusion: safe co-sleeping lowers the SIDS risk,” Dr. Sears says on his website.

Dr. Goodstein, however, believes there is not enough evidence to support this claim.

Studies have suggested that bed-sharing with an infant also increases bonding between parent and baby. Talking to Fox News last year, pediatrician Dr. Susan Markel says:

“Babies have an inborn need to be touched and held. They enjoy having physical closeness day and night, and this kind of connection is essential to meet a baby’s needs for warmth, comfort, and security.”

But some health care professionals believe the risk of SIDS outweighs the potential benefits of bed-sharing. What is more, bed-sharing may present other downfalls.

“Many [parents] believe that if you allow children to sleep in your bed from birth, it can be hard to persuade them to move out later,” Sarah Crown, editor of the UK’s biggest community network for parents, Mumsnet, told MNT.

In addition, some parents believe bed-sharing with an infant will make them more dependent on others as they get older. “I think it teaches kids that they almost need that constant contact and interaction in order to feel that safety, security, and confidence in themselves,” Jennifer Zinzi – a mother of two who strongly opposes bed-sharing – told Fox News.

A 2011 study published in the journal Pediatrics, however, found that bed-sharing at age 1-3 years poses no negative long-term effects on a child’s behavior and cognition at the age of 5 years.

‘No golden rule’ for bed-sharing

Despite the ongoing debate surrounding bed-sharing, it seems child health organizations and health care professionals are in agreement about one thing: the decision to bed share with infants is solely down to the parents.

“There is no golden rule,” Crown told us. “It’s about what suits you and your family more than anything. But Mumsnet users find that talking to those who’ve been there and done that, and sharing wisdom and support on the often vexed question of sleeping in the early days, is invaluable.”

Dr. Goodstein added:

“I think that at the end of the day, parents want to be the best they can be and provide the best for their babies. As providers and child advocates, we want to assist parents by providing the best information to allow infants to not just be healthy, but to thrive and reach their full potential.

We need to work together. We need to do everything we can to promote breastfeeding. We also need to promote infant sleep safety.”

AAP recommendations for safe infant sleeping environments

As mentioned previously, the AAP do not support bed-sharing. Instead, they recommend room-sharing, meaning parents should sleep in the same room as their infants but not on the same surface.

Sleeping newborn baby
The AAP recommend that babies should be placed on their back to sleep – known as the supine position – in a safety-approved crib, bassinet or portable crib/play yard. These should have a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet.

In their latest policy statement, the AAP recommend that babies should be placed on their back to sleep – known as the supine position – in a safety-approved crib, bassinet or portable crib/play yard. These should have a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet.

The policy statement also recommends that no soft objects, such as pillows, pillow-like toys, quilts, comforters, and sheepskins should be within the infant’s sleeping environment, as these could increase the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment and strangulation.

Furthermore, babies should sleep in a smoke-free environment, and their environment should not be too warm as this may increase the risk of SIDS.

The AAP say parents should consider using a pacifier at bedtime, as this has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS, but should avoid the use of commercial devices marketed to reduce SIDS risk due to the lack of supporting evidence that they work.

“Helping parents to understand why they should follow these recommendations could lead to better compliance in the home,” said Dr. Goodstein.

Safer bed-sharing

Parents may choose to bed-share with their child, or there may be those occasions where it happens unexpectedly.

The Baby Friendly Initiative from UNICEF – a global children’s charity – provides recommendations for safer bed-sharing.

They note that it is not safe to bed-share in the early months of a baby’s life, or if they are preterm or of a small birth weight.

An infant should be kept away from pillows to avoid the risk of suffocation, UNICEF recommends, and parents should ensure the infant is unable to fall out of the bed or become trapped between the mattress and wall.

Parents should also ensure bedclothes do not cover the baby’s face, and infants should not be left alone on the bed in case they move into a dangerous position.

Furthermore, parents should not share a bed with their child if they are a smoker or have taken drugs or consumed alcohol.

For further information on safe infant sleep practices, visit healthychildren.org – a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Wearable ‘Smart’ Baby Monitor Provides Parents With Insight

First-time parents can often feel overwhelmed by the arrival of their new bundle of joy, flabbergasted by the mountains of dirty diapers and extra washing, and dazed by the pure lack of sleep. As if that was not enough to turn their comparatively previous straightforward lives upside-down, the anxiety of checking up on the every move of their newborn can be enough to send them into a spiral of insanity. But help is at hand with a new wearable baby monitor from a company aptly entitled “Sproutling.”
Sproutling Baby Monitor
21st-century parents can now be one step ahead of the game with the new wearable baby monitor from “Sproutling.”
Image credit: Sproutling

Wearable devices that track and monitor personal health have exploded onto the market in recent years, ranging from devices that measure heart rate and blood pressure to those that track steps and calories.

Medical News Today recently reported on a wearable device that uses breathing patterns to track the state of mind. The device monitors the wearer’s breath so that it can notify them when they are becoming stressed or unfocused. The makers claim that this insight helps the wearer to be more productive. They also say that the device helps to lower stress and inspires the wearer to move more throughout their day.

The familiar baby monitors that look like oversized “walkie-talkies” have evolved since the first design in the late 1930s. They now include video imaging to provide a visual real-time image of the child and even infrared LEDs to allow the parent to see the baby in a dark room. They can also utilize features such as night-lights and built-in lullabies.

However, the new device from Sproutling goes one step further than all previous monitors by combining a wearable band, smart charger, and mobile app to “monitor, learn and predict your baby’s sleep habits and optimal sleep conditions” – taking some of the guesswork out of parenting.

Around 130 million babies are born each year worldwide, with almost 4 million of those births in the US alone. Sproutling wants to be the first smart baby monitor to be personalized to each baby and collect unique “well-being” insights to predict a baby’s sleep pattern, room conditions and even their mood.

Monitor gathers 16 measurements each second

Comprised of three connected devices, the Sproutling Baby Monitor gathers 16 different measurements every second and is designed to help parents know how their baby is doing when there is no movement or noise, or at times when a parent cannot pay full attention to a monitor.

The wearable band

The soft, breathable, hypoallergenic and washable band sits around the baby’s ankle and is equipped with a smart sensor that senses heart rate, skin temperature, motion and sleep position. The sensor is cleverly shaped to avoid choking hazard as well as being encapsulated in medical-grade silicone, fully sealed. Three sizes of the band are included as the baby develops and grows.

Sproutling devices
Sproutling is comprised of three connected devices, a wearable band, charger and mobile app.
Image credit: Sproutling

The charger

A separate smart charger placed in the baby’s room wirelessly charges the band, making it even more hassle-free for parents; simply drop the band in the charging bowl and it powers up. The sophisticated charger is equipped to monitor the baby’s environment, such as the temperature of the room, humidity, sounds and light to optimize the baby’s sleep conditions for better sleep.

The mobile app

A mobile app communicates the insights gathered by the band and charger and sends real-time notifications to parents indicating if the baby is sound asleep or awake, if the baby has rolled over, or is experiencing significant changes in heart rate or skin temperature.

Ultimately, all these gained insights can give parents an idea of when their baby is likely to wake up, allowing them to make informed decisions about how to spend their time.

It informs parents if the baby’s room is too noisy or too hot, provides recommendations on the best time to put the baby to sleep and when baby wakes up, parents will be notified if the baby is calm, fussy or angry before they even walk into the room. “This information is aimed at making parenting a little easier,” note Sproutling.

Is the Sproutling Baby Monitor safe?

Sproutling – invented by a team of new parents and former engineers at Apple and Google, along with the help of child pediatric specialists and Ph.D. scientists – was designed to be safe for baby and easy for parents to use.

Sproutling mobile app
The mobile app informs parents about their baby’s heart rate, temperature, mood, environment, and works with twins, triplets, and quadruplets.
Image credit: Sproutling

For example, the band is designed to be safe on the baby’s skin, hypoallergenic and breathable. There are no toxic glues used, and the sensor is made out of medical-grade material that is safe for baby.

Sproutling is designed to be comfortable, without any sharp edges, exposed wires or metal contacts.

The battery is fully encapsulated in a metal shell to ensure no leaks and is wirelessly charged with no hazardous small parts.

Bluetooth Low Energy radio technology is used in the device, roughly 1,200 times weaker than most mobile phone radio waves present in most homes. The radio signal operates infrequently, and the radio energy is directed away from baby’s body.

Currently, the device has been tested for 2 years, and by the time the product is shipped in early 2015, it will have undergone thousands of hours of testing with many different babies.

Sproutling co-founder Chris Bruce comments:

“Parents have been relying on baby monitors for over 75 years and in that time, they fundamentally haven’t changed at all. They continue to be a poor extension of parents’ eyes and ears and require constant attention to see if your baby is moving or making noise.”

“As parents ourselves, we wanted something that could tell us how our baby was doing when they weren’t moving or making noise and when we were unable to pay full attention, like when showering or sleeping. We created the Sproutling Baby Monitor to be smarter and help parents be more effective, and we really hope our product will instill confidence in parents so they can grow happy families.”

Sproutling, founded in 2012 in San Francisco, CA, will be releasing the Sproutling Baby Monitor in the US and Canada in early 2015, retailing at $299. The company has set a pre-sales goal of $50,000, and the device is available to pre-order now at a price of $249.

My Baby Has Acne: What Should I Do?

Parents may think that they will only be dealing with acne during their child’s teen years, but no. Some parents may just get a quick glimpse into the teen years as soon as their new baby comes home.

Many babies will experience a bout of baby acne. Typically, acne in babies is nothing to be concerned about.

In most cases, baby acne causes red or white bumps on the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin or the baby’s back.

Fast facts about acne

  • The main factors that cause acne are skin oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and clogged pores
  • Baby acne does not usually cause scarring
  • Baby acne usually goes away without needing any treatment

Why do babies get acne?

In order for the skin and hair to stay lubricated, the many oil glands within the skin secrete an oil called sebum. If sebum becomes trapped and forms a plug within the hair follicles, acne can occur due to the growth of bacteria.

A baby with acne on its face.
Many babies will get acne, but doctors are uncertain what causes it to appear.

If the hair follicle becomes infected with bacteria, the area can become inflamed. This results in a pimple forming – a raised red spot with a white center.

Acne is most likely to appear on areas of skin that have the most oil glands. These areas are on the face, neck, back, shoulders, and chest.

Adult acne can be made worse by factors such as medication, diet, and stress. These factors may not have much of an effect on babies, however.

It is not entirely clear why babies get acne. Experts believe that maternal hormones play a role, leading to oil gland problems and blemishes.

In addition to hormonal causes, some medications taken either by the mother during breastfeeding or by the infant may lead to the development of acne. Skin care products may also be to blame. At times, infants can have a negative reaction to certain skin care products, such as those containing oils.

Acne in most infants goes away after a few weeks. However, some infants can experience acne for more than 6 months. Acne in babies is not a scar-forming condition.

Symptoms of baby acne

Baby acne can be confused with other skin conditions that are discussed below. It typically presents as small, red, or white bumps that may be present on various parts of a newborn’s skin.

Baby acne most commonly appears on the cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead. At times, it can appear on the baby’s back. Worsening symptoms of baby acne can occur with heat, fussiness, and skin irritation.

Treatment for baby acne

Baby acne typically goes away on its own. However, there are some skin hygiene tips that parents can follow for their baby:

A baby is having its face cleaned.
Parents can cleanse the skin affected by acne with water, but should avoid soaps, lotions, or oils.
  • Cleansing the skin affected by acne one to three times per day with water only
  • Avoiding the use of soaps, lotions, or oils on these areas of skin
  • Patting the baby’s skin dry after cleansing
  • Not applying over-the-counter adult acne or skin care products to the baby’s skin
  • Applying a dab of breast milk to the area affected with acne – this may encourage skin healing

As with acne in adults, it is important to avoid picking, squeezing, or scrubbing areas affected with acne. Doing so can make the acne worse, possibly leading to infection or scarring by damaging the skin.

Some babies may benefit from using a non-oily lotion. Parents should stop using this if the appearance of the skin gets worse, however.

At times, a medicated cream or other treatments may be recommended by the child’s pediatrician. Parents should speak with a doctor if they are concerned that their baby’s acne may need evaluation and treatment.

When to see a pediatrician

Treatment is not usually needed for baby acne. However, it is important for parents to speak with their baby’s pediatrician if they notice:

  • Signs of infection – redness, swelling, or discharge
  • Possible signs of eczema – patches of red, dry, and flaking skin
  • Any other skin concerns

Other skin conditions that affect babies

At times, a baby may have other skin conditions unrelated to baby acne. Other common skin conditions in infants include:

  • Milia: This skin condition is marked by small, white bumps.
  • Heat rash: Baby heat rash can cause skin itching and baby fussiness. It often appears on the legs, arms, upper chest, and diaper area alongside moist red bumps that are small in size.
  • Diaper rash: Diaper rash is present on the skin covered by diapers, causing red and irritated skin.
  • Cradle cap: Cradle cap appears on the head, eyebrows, and upper body as red bumps with yellow flaking skin.
  • Eczema: Most commonly, eczema causes patches of dry, flaking, and red skin that may also have fluid-filled pimples. Most outbreaks of eczema appear on the cheeks and scalp. Some progress to areas with creasings, such as the elbow and knee creases.

Parents should speak with their child’s pediatrician if they have any concern about the appearance of their child’s skin. Evaluation and treatment may be necessary in some cases.

Babies and Mealtime: Food Selection is More Social Than Nutritional

Dining with a 1-year-old is typically a messy endeavor, with more food often reaching the floor than the mouth. But a new study investigates what babies pay attention to at the dining table, and the findings have implications for shifting unhealthy eating habits.
Baby eating at table
“When babies see someone eat, they are not just learning about food – they are also learning about who eats what with whom,” says Cornell researcher Katherine Kinzler.

The study comes from researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Co-authored by Katherine Kinzler, associate professor of psychology and human development at Cornell, the researchers say their work contributes to a growing body of research that suggests very young children think in more sophisticated ways about even small social cues.

To carry out their work, the researchers conducted a series of studies through which they showed over 200 1-year-olds a set of videos in which people showed like or dislike of foods.

The team used a well-known fact of developmental psychology, which is that babies look longer at new actions or things that depart from their expectations of the world.

“Kids are sensitive to cultural groups early in life,” says Kinzler. “When babies see someone eat, they are not just learning about food – they are also learning about who eats what with whom. An ability to think about people as being ‘same versus different,’ and perhaps even ‘us versus them,’ starts very early in life.”

‘Humans do not choose foods in isolation’

The researchers observed that when the babies saw two people in the video speak the same language or behave like friends, the babies expected them to like similar foods.

However, when they watched two people who spoke different languages or who acted unfriendly toward each other, the babies expected them to like different foods.

Interestingly, although monolingual babies thought people who spoke different languages would like different foods, bilingual babies expected that people who spoke different languages would eat the same foods.

Kinzler says that it could be down to bilingual babies having experienced this in their own homes, where people who speak different languages nevertheless eat the same foods while gathered around the table.

“Language wasn’t marking groups in the same way for these kids,” she adds.

When it comes to foods that could harm the babies, the results showed that they react differently. When they saw a person act disgusted after eating a food, they anticipated that the second person would also be disgusted – even if the second person was from a different social group.

“Thus, whereas food preferences are seen as embedded within social groups,” the researchers write, “disgust is interpreted as socially universal, which could help infants avoid potentially dangerous foods.”

The researchers conclude their study by writing:

“Critically, though, humans do not choose their foods in isolation. Reframing food selection as a social rather than nutritional problem may shed light on the relevant mechanisms that could support early reasoning about food.”

They add that their research could have significance for policymakers who want to change people’s unhealthy eating habits. Additionally, Kinzler says that parents may want to take note.

“If you feed your child the perfect diet, yet your child sees you and your friends and family eating junk food, she is presumably learning about foods from her social experiences, too,” she adds.

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