Monthly Archives: September 2011

Can You Train Babies to Focus?

The results of studies show claims by Your Baby Can Read and Baby Einstein programs and video are false, but does that mean that educational software for children is simply bogus and a waste of time? Not entirely. A recent study by the University of London Birkbeck, showed that some computer software can be helpful for getting babies to focus, which in turn allows them to better pick up skills and language.

The Telegraph describes 42 babies being placed into five groups and being shown cartoons or telling them to track a moving target on a computer screen. After being shown the cartoon or using the software, the babies were asked to focus on images or play with toys without getting distracted. Those who had used the computer program were able to focus more.

Concentration comes from the frontal part of the brain, which is not fully developed in babies; as a result, they are easily distracted but get better with age. At the same time, learning some new skills, such as language, is easier at a young age. To the Telegraph, Researcher Sam Wass, from Birkbeck’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Sciences, said:

“We know the brain is more plastic early on, so an impact at this stage could potentially make a big difference to a child’s abilities later on. We already know that the early years of school are very important; what we have shown for the first time is that it is possible that difference can be made at an even younger age.”

While Baby Einstein’s and Your Baby Can Read’s approaches have been shown to not increase a child’s vocabulary, rely too much on visual recognition, or do not appropriately communicate to a baby, getting a child in the mindset to learn through focusing may be one step toward truly expanding his or her ability to learn language quicker.

How to Carry a Baby in a Sling

Carrying children in slings creates a better bond between the parent and child, insists supporters of babywearing, but at what cost? A recent article in Australian newspaper The Age draws attention again to the fact that, if a baby is carried incorrectly in a sling, he or she can suffocate to death. The newspaper quotes experts telling parents to be watchful of their babies in slings.

As The Age mentions, not all parents are aware of the safety hazards of baby slings. Still, the Australian Competition and Consumer Committee, which issued the warning about slings, is developing safety standards for these popular baby carriers.

As we discussed before, baby carriers can face forwards and backwards, but how a baby is positioned is crucial. If you own a sling and are uncertain about how to use it, keep in mind the following points, courtesy of New York Times’ Motherload, and watch the video below:

• The baby should be in the same curved position as it is in your arms. The sling should not be loose enough that the baby moves away from the parent.
• The baby’s head should be close enough for the parent to kiss without bending.
• The sling must be tight enough around the parent and baby.
• The baby’s face should always be visible – never covered by fabric.
• When using the sling, parents should not feel back or neck pain. Otherwise, the carrier is being worn incorrectly.

A bond between the parent and child is important but not at the expense of the baby’s safety. Although instructions may not accompany a sling, find out beforehand how to position and carry a baby. If you need visuals for the steps above, watch the following video below for putting on a baby sling and positioning your baby inside:

California Close to Banning BPA in Baby Products

Baby bottlesCertain states have banned BPA from baby products completely, and California may be next. Legislation to ban BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups is approaching passing, and will be voted on next week. In California, this particular issue has been in the public eye since 2006, when San Francisco enacted an ordinance banning BPA from such baby products; the ordinance, however, was repealed a year later.

The proposed law, The Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act (AB1319) would require manufacturers of such baby products to use the least toxic BPA. At the same time, manufacturers of toys and plastic containers have been looking for alternatives to BPA.

But, what exactly is so bad about BPA? The chemical, which is found in baby products, plastics, and even cash register receipts, mimics estrogen in the body and is quickly metabolized. The chemical causes hormonal and behavioral issues, including early puberty, hyperactivity, breast and prostate cancers, infertility, and obesity. CEO and director of Healthy Child, Healthy World stated:

“Children are uniquely vulnerable to toxic exposures. They are typically exposed to more toxics per pound of body weight. Their immature systems are less capable of excreting the toxics. And, perhaps most importantly, they are still developing, so exposures that may have no impact on an adult can create a domino effect of biological disruption in a child.”

Babies are particularly vulnerable to the effects of BPA, but adults can be, too. Now that the effects of BPA on babies are receiving attention, adults also want BPA-free products.

Although bottles, cups, and toys are labeled “BPA-free,” finding baby products completely devoid of plastic eliminates exposure risks. For babies, as we have mentioned before, this can be glass or stainless steel bottles. Adults, additionally, can follow the same approach and look for cups, dishware, and food containers made without plastic of any kind.