Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Morning Sickness Can Lead to a Healthier Baby

pregnant womanOne downside of pregnancy that many women face is morning sickness. New research suggests, however, that women who experience morning sickness tend to have healthier babies than those who do not.

As many as 85 percent of women experience morning sickness. It is usually worst in the first trimester. Morning sickness can range from mild to a severe form called hyperemesis gravidarum, which causes such persistent nausea and vomiting that the woman can lose weight. The study investigated the effects of “normal” morning sickness, not hyperemesis gravidarum.

The researchers looked at the results of 10 studies that involved hundreds of thousands of pregnancies. The results were published in the August issue of the journal Reproductive Toxicology.

Lead author Dr. Gideon Koren, a pediatrician at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, said the high levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin that is released by the placenta cause morning sickness. The hormone also causes the fetus to be healthier and decreases the risks associated with pregnancy.

One study Koren examined found that women who did not experience morning sickness were three to 10 times more likely to suffer a miscarriage. Another study found that 9.5 percent of women without morning sickness gave birth pre-term, compared to only 6.4 percent of women who had morning sickness. A smaller study found that 45 children whose mothers had morning sickness had higher IQ scores than those who did not have symptoms. The effect was more apparent in women with moderate to severe morning sickness.

Having morning sickness does not guarantee that a woman’s baby will be healthy, and not getting sick does not mean that a woman should worry about her baby’s health. Koren hopes that the findings can provide comfort to women suffering from morning sickness. Medication is available to treat the condition.

Choosing the Right Day Care for Your Child

Finding the best day care for your child can be a confusing, stressful process. Here are some expert tips to consider.

A high-quality day care should help children develop socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically so that they are ready for school when the time comes. Keep these aspects of development in mind when choosing a program.

Ask family and friends for recommendations, and research options in your area. Facilities accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children meet strict standards for quality. If you are looking for a home-based day care, look for a provider accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care. The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies provides lists of state-licensed facilities, inspection reports, state fact sheets, and information on day care and family child care regulations. There are no federal standards for day care centers, and licensing and regulations vary by state.

childrenChildren should be supervised at all times, and there should be low teacher-to-child ratios. There should be one teacher for every three to four infants or young toddlers, for every four to six older toddlers, or for every six to nine preschoolers to ensure that your child receives necessary one-on-one attention.

Classrooms should be well-organized and include a wide array of age-appropriate toys and materials. Staff should follow daily and weekly schedules that include a variety of activities, such as art, music, outdoor play, reading, and dramatic play.

Teachers’ education is also important. Teachers should have degrees in early childhood education and receive regular professional development to improve their skills.

Ask about the program’s policies on a wide variety of health and safety issues, including immunizations, hand washing, diaper changing, illnesses, injuries, and emergency procedures. All staff should have undergone a background check and should be certified in CPR and first aid. Be extra careful when looking at family child care providers, since they are less strictly regulated than child care centers.

Look for a licensed facility that asks for input from parents and staff to improve their program and offers teachers professional development. You and the staff should share the same core values and be able to communicate freely at all times to support the growth and progress of your child.

Tips for Visiting a New Mother in the Hospital

visiting a new mom

When a friend or family member gives birth, it is a beautiful thing. Just like the new mom, you’ve been waiting nine months for the little one to enter the world. You may want to drive right over to the hospital when you see pictures of the baby on Facebook, but there are rules for doing that. Follow these tips to avoid a potentially awkward situation at the hospital.

1. Call ahead – Call first and see when the new mother would like to have visitors. The immediate family may want to spend some time alone with the baby and the new mom will be exhausted from the birthing process. Don’t show up unannounced and make your visit brief!

2. Don’t go if you’re sick – If you are not feeling well, don’t go visit the baby at the hospital. You don’t want to get the newborn sick too. Only pick up the baby if you are invited to do so and make sure you wash your hands mother

3. Don’t give advice unless you are asked – Many people might think they are an expert on how to raise a baby and feel like they need to give their two cents to the new mother. Unless she asks you for advice, don’t offer it.

4. Focus on the mother – This is a special time for the new mom. Don’t focus your conversation on your birthing experience or try to “one up” her. Everyone’s birthing experience is a little different and most people don’t want to discuss specific details about the birth.

5. Names are personal – Even if the new baby’s name is North or Blanket, be gracious with your response to it. Naming a child is very personal and can mean a lot to the parents.

6. Respect the mother’s privacy – If the mother decides to breastfeed the baby while you are there, respectfully ask if they want you to leave the room during feeding time. If you are the new mom, it is always good manners to ask if your visitors mind if you feed your baby in front of them.

Tips for Staying Cool during a Summer Pregnancy

Summer Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but during the summer it can be more difficult than ever. High levels of the pregnancy hormone progesterone leads to higher metabolic and resting heart rates, and increased blood flow. All that leads to your body temperature being at its highest, then add in the hot summer sun and you could be in for a difficult few months.
Here are some tips for staying cool during your summer pregnancy:

Tip #1 – Avoid Direct Sunlight

You may have the urge to bronze your skin and get that summer tan you love. However, you should try to avoid direct sunlight as much as you can. Hormonal influences leave you more prone to overheating and sunburn. If you do spend time in the sun during your pregnancy, go early in the morning or later in the day when the sun isn’t as strong and apply lots of sunscreen.

Tip #2 – Drink Plenty of Fluids

The hot weather is going to make you sweat, so you need to avoid dehydration by drinking lots of fluids. You should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water on a hot day. Juice, milk, and sports drinks are great options too because they will help replace the electrolytes you lost. Try to avoid diuretics such as soda, coffee, and tea.

Tip #3 – Eat Lighter Meals

Eating lighter meals more frequently can help keep your metabolism working steadily. Eating small, healthy portions will help keep you cool. Stay cool even more by having popsicles or frozen fruit juice.

Tip #4 – Cut Down the Swelling

Late pregnancy symptoms like swelling will only get worse in the summer. The hot summer sun will cause you to swell up more than you normally would. Cut back on excessively salty foods like chips or popcorn to help reduce the bloating from water retention. Keeping your feet elevated will help too because it will improve circulation.

Tip #5 – Go Swimming

Taking a dip in the pool will not only be cool and refreshing, it will help reduce summer pregnancy back pain and swelling. Don’t have access to a pool? Take a cool shower or bath.

Tip #6 – Wear Proper Clothing

You can avoid overheating by wearing natural, breathable fabrics like loose-fitting cotton or linen. Wear light colors as opposed to dark ones and wear open-toed sandals with straps for added support.

Youngest ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Child Enters Baby Beauty Pageant

Honey Boo Boo baby beauty pageantsPop culture is akin to driving. Some celebrities are worthy of admiration and lingering, while others’ antics should clearly be steered away from. A certain handful of stars, and this term is used very loosely these days, result in unintentional rubbernecking, and this is where the family from Here Comes Honey Boo Boo falls in.

Following a family of unabashed rednecks, Honey Boo Boo is an offshoot of Toddlers & Tiaras, but both feature beauty pageants in some capacity. For most of Honey Boo Boo’s first season, youngest child Alana was the pint-sized pageant queen. But according to recent news, her niece, Kaitlyn, may give her some competition.

Kaitlyn, the daughter of Alana’s older sister Anna “Chickadee,” just started entering baby beauty pageants, placing fifth at her first one. But, how do baby beauty pageants differ from ones for older children, or adults for that matter? Apparently, qualifications involved being well-behaved, smiling, and being able to sit still for long periods of time.

The impact of child beauty pageants has come under scrutiny in recent years. Psychology Today pointed out that involvement in such appearance-based activities results in body image and disordered eating years down the line. Children, instead, are recommended to have a more balanced life of multiple activities and school.

For families like the Thompsons, a Harvard article points out, beauty pageants are seen as a mode of social mobility, be it for a better life of marriage or education or even to handle competition better. On the other hand, the costumes and pageant fees have driven families out of their homes.

Pageants, the Harvard piece indicates, cut across class lines. More wealthy contestants even put funds toward coaching and styling.

While baby Kaitlyn is likely unaware of the contest she’s been entered into, pageants appear to have both negative and positive effects on children. Do you think children this young should be entered into beauty contests?

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Celebrity Babies Just Aren’t a Big Deal Anymore

Celebrity Baby PicturesHow much do you think pictures of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s children have fetched? Or even Jessica Simpson’s baby? Photo values for celebrity children fluctuate like the stock market, going for millions one year and bottoming out into just five figures at another point in time. The recent Kardashian birth seems to significantly magnify this trend.

Those who aren’t pop culture junkies aren’t likely aware that Kourtney, the eldest Kardashian sister, gave birth to daughter Penelope Scotland Disick on Sunday. Their first child, Mason Dash, was born in 2009. However, in terms of selling the baby pictures, it’s estimated that this Kardashian will only pull in $20,000 to $30,000. While practically all things Kardashian continue to sell, including clothing and an upcoming makeup line, why, simply, do celebrity gossip readers just not care? One Huffington Post editor surmises:

“Kourtney’s second child isn’t such a big deal. If it were Kim’s baby, it might be different, but with the exception of hardcore fans no one is waiting to see what Penelope looks like.”

Along with this, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ divorce is at the top of the pop culture pyramid at the moment.

But, while Blue Ivy Carter could have brought in the millions (her worth was estimated at $2 million), most other celebrity spawn settle for something less in the present. Jessica Simpson’s baby girl, Maxwell, for instance, only saw $800,000 from People, and that amount was not recovered in magazine sales.

Nevertheless, as the Huffington Post points out, Simpson saw considerably less than other celebrities just a few years ago: Bradgelina, for instance, saw $11 million for their twins and $3.1 million for daughter Shiloh, while many other celebs on the A- and B-lists saw $1 million or more, including Jennifer Lopez, Anna Nicole Smith, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Alba, Nicole Richie, and Jamie Lynn Spears.

What’s your perspective on the celebrity baby phenomenon? Are gossip rag readers just over it?

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Beyonce Gives Birth to Baby, Blue Ivy Carter

Beyonce Jay-Z Baby Blue IvyIt’s one of the most awaited celebrity births of the past year, if not decade: Beyonce Knowles delivered her and Jay-Z’s baby, Blue Ivy Carter, on Saturday. Yet, by Monday, reports of their seemingly extravagant demands surfaced in gossip rags. But, how much accuracy can you trust to an anonymous source in Us Weekly?

Us, like other magazines of its sort, described the extreme security around Beyonce’s birth at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. One witness, again anonymous, called their approach “insane,” but can you blame the couple and their families? Considering the cost of celebrity photos, the paparazzi would have been swarming the hospital if some security measures hadn’t been put into place. Supposedly, Jay-Z paid $1.3 million to reserve a full floor of the building, but a hospital spokesperson stated that such reports are exaggerated; rather, they only had reserved a sixth floor suite.

Nevertheless, one parent sharing the space said about the security: “They just used the hospital like it was their own and nobody else mattered. […] They locked us into the NICU and would say, ‘You can’t come out to the hallway for the next 20 minutes.’ When I finally was able to go back out, I went to the waiting room and they’d ushered my family downstairs!”

Most babies get birth announcements, sent out to friends and family. Blue Ivy, on the other hand, gets a statement from Beyonce and Jay-Z’s publicist and a song. Called “Glory,” the track is already released and features samples of the baby’s first cries. The couple’s publicist also put out the following statement:

Hello Hello Baby Blue!
We are happy to announce the arrival of our beautiful daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, born on Saturday, January 7, 2012. Her birth was emotional and extremely peaceful, we are in heaven. She was delivered naturally at a healthy 7 lbs and it was the best experience of both of our lives. We are thankful to everyone for all your prayers, well wishes, love and support. Beyoncé & JAY Z

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.

More Disproving Baby Einstein

So, in addition to interacting with your baby or young child to help with language skills, you think that using Baby Einstein – or My Baby Can Read, or a similar DVD series – that claims to enhance your child’s language skills simply by watching. But, does this actually help? Although we’ve seen studies disproving this notion, a recent article published in Time Magazine details why such language-enhancing DVDs don’t actually do anything. While many educational toys for infants – even those red, black, and white ones – are designed to enhance physical skills, the issue with language DVDs is overstimulation – even to the point of paralysis.

Like past studied to determine the value of Baby Einstein videos, University of California at Riverside took another look at this subject recently, as mentioned in Time. They used the Baby Wordsworth DVD from the series and tested children between 12 and 24 months old. They were to watch it each day for six weeks and then the children were tested for their language skills at the end of the period. Predictably, none of the children’s language skills improved during that period.

Instead, this study – and similar ones before it – found that the best way for a child to develop language skills is through a live speaker, particularly one who is repetitive with certain words. Although why a live speaker is better than an video hasn’t fully been studied, some claim that the parent-ese – or baby talk used – is easier for a child to understand and respond to. As a result, the best way for a child to acquire new words is through interaction. Whether going outside, playing together, or reading, you and your child can learn new words, particularly is certain ones are repeated over and over. Over time, this interaction and repetitive approach will cause your child to pick up on language skills.

What is the Best Time to Have a Baby?

While plenty of articles discuss women’s fertility in relation to the ideal age to have children, being at the most fertile – early 20s, according to the linked article from the Washington Post — doesn’t correlate with being emotionally and financially secure enough to have children. As the 20s are now considered an extension of the teenage years in terms of finding one’s self and becoming settled with a career, the 30s are a period with more emotionally stability. As a result, more career women and their husbands end up having children in their early 30s because of this stability. Why bring a child into the world at 22 when you can barely support yourself a few months out of college?

A survey recently done by The Bump and tried to find the ideal age for having a baby. Their study, however, didn’t entirely some up with an exact answer and, instead, perspective makes up the bulk of the results. Some of the findings include:

• Mothers between 30 and 34 wish they had their first child younger, from 25 to 29 instead.
• Older women above 39 wish they had their first child between 30 and 34.
• Those who had children between 25 and 29 were somewhat content with this period.
• A significant percentage – nearly two-thirds – thought that having a child negatively impacts their careers. This was found to be an assumption for both working and stay-at-home mothers. Mothers who went back to work, however, often had negative feelings, particularly guilt and not caring, upon returning to their jobs.

So, based upon these results, is there any time in which both emotional and financial security and fertility meet? Probably within the 25 to 29 years of age period. But, nevertheless, the “right” time is all about perspective. If you’re not emotionally or financially ready, even at 30, having a child then might not be the ideal time.