Pacifiers: Good or Bad?

By Lisa Pecos

Binky, dummy, choo-choo—regardless of what you call a pacifier, parents have long debated whether or not they’re a godsend or a mistake when it comes to a baby’s health.

Babies naturally have a strong sucking reflex, which is why many even begin sucking their thumbs and fingers in the womb. Besides sucking being the way they get their nutrition when feeding, babies also find sucking calming and soothing. But are there any other benefits to pacifiers?

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Benefits of an Organic Diet for Expectant Moms

Organic Diet for Expectant Moms

By Jamell Andrews

When you find out you’re expecting, your priorities shift instantly and from that moment on, your love for your baby takes center stage. This is the time when many women begin thinking more about their health and the things that they can do to ensure that their baby is healthy as can be. For many expectant moms, this includes making the change to a healthier and even organic diet.

The Difference between Organic and Conventionally Farmed Foods

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More Evidence that Early Exposure to Peanuts May Prevent an Allergy

By Lisa Pecos

With food allergies on the rise and peanut allergies in particular affecting approximately 2 percent of U.S. children, it’s natural to be weary of exposing your baby to peanuts. Up until recently, parents were told to not give their babies foods containing peanuts to avoid triggering an allergy. The recommendation was to avoid feeding peanuts to high-risk babies until the age of 3. Two recent studies, however, suggest that feeding babies peanuts and other known allergy-inducing foods is more likely to prevent an allergy.

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What Is the APGAR Score?

What Does a Newborn’s APGAR Score Mean?

The APGAR score (also called “newborn scoring”) is the first test that your newborn baby will ever be given. It is performed in hospitals throughout the world by the doctor, midwife or nurse. It is usually done twice, at 1 minute after birth, then again at 5 minutes. Occasionally, if the baby does not appear to be doing well, or the score was low at 5 minutes, the test may be done a third time 10 minutes after birth.

The APGAR scores are simply a way for the healthcare provider to quickly assess a newborn’s physical condition, and determine whether extra medical or emergency care is needed. The tests indicate if the infant needs help breathing or is having heart trouble.

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Lactation 101

lactation

by Alicia Kenny

New baby? Lactation, or breastfeeding, is not only a natural, healthy way to provide the perfect mix of nutrients, hormones and proteins for your newborn, but it also creates an invaluable opportunity for mother and child to bond and develop emotional intimacy. Here are the basics:

  1. Establish breastfeeding within the first week of your baby’s birth and remember that the breasts work by “supply and demand” so you don’t have to wait for the milk to come before starting. (And colostrum, the yellowy substance secreted by the breast in the very beginning, gives your baby protection against disease!)
  2. Do your best to stay relaxed and comfortable while breastfeeding, giving Baby plenty of comforting skin contact and soft words. If necessary, help open Baby’s mouth with your finger and gently guide his or her mouth to the breast.
  3. Let Baby suck on one breast until it feels empty or for about 10-15 minutes, then offer the other one. Don’t be afraid to breastfeed whenever Baby is hungry which will probably be eight or more times per day, and unless your doctor tells you otherwise, give your baby nothing other than breast milk for the first six months. The American Dietetic Association says that, “Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and breastfeeding with complementary foods for at least 12 months is the ideal feeding pattern for infants.”

Besides the emotional and psychological benefits of lactation for both you and your little one, there are numerous positive physical effects for the two of you as well. For one thing, breast milk, which has been called the “gold standard of infant nutrition,” contains fatty acids essential to healthy cognitive development and visual acuity. Breastfed babies have a decreased likelihood of developing intestinal infection, eczema, allergies and dental problems. Mother’s milk contains antibodies that help protect the baby from illness and in the case of premature and critically ill babies, it is extremely important not only for the infant’s nutrition but also for the child’s very survival. Breastfeeding may also help prevent childhood obesity!

Lactation is of great value to mothers also. Postpartum hemorrhage is prevented and uterine involution (the return to a non-pregnant state) is promoted. Breastfeeding mothers also have a decreased risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, heart disease and iron-deficiency anemia. Breastfeeding will help prevent another pregnancy from occurring within the first six months after his or her birth ensuring that the mother will have plenty of time to recover physically before her next pregnancy. Finally, as milk production uses an average 200-500 calories per day, breastfeeding can contribute to the loss of excess weight gained during pregnancy, a boon that has given many new moms something else to smile about! If you do make the choice to breastfeed, be sure to discuss your decision with your pediatrician or lactation consultant. Also, be aware of organizations and consultants that exist to help you with questions or problems that may arise. Two such resources are:

  1. La Leche League International – (800) LALECHE
  2. International Lactation Consultant Association – (919) 861-5577

Pregnancy Nutrition

Pregnancy Nutrition

by Alicia Kenny

Hello New Mom! It’s you and Baby now, so you’ll want to eat what’s best for both of you. Keep in mind that while you are eating for two, only one of you is a full grown adult so you will probably only need to take in an extra 200-300 calories per day while pregnant. The bottom line? Do eat for two, but don’t overeat.

In general, you should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, foods rich in vitamin C, iron and calcium plus plenty of water. While you don’t need to eliminate salt and fat from your diet, you should take care to eat salty foods and high-fat foods only sparingly.

Also, as an expectant mom, you’ll want to make sure to take the prenatal vitamins prescribed by your physician and pay attention to your intake of folic acid in particular. Folic acid is a member of the B vitamin family and occurs naturally in orange juice, green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils. The synthetic form of folic acid, which is more easily absorbed by your body, can be found in fortified breakfast cereals, enriched grain products and vitamins. Folic acid helps prevent and decrease the risk of several common birth defects and supports rapid growth of the placenta and fetus.

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Eight Tips for Potty Training Your Toddler

Potty Training

Getting your toddler to perform toileting independently is a welcome milestone for any parent. Few of us want to be changing diapers much past the child’s second birthday. However, children vary greatly in their adoption of the potty routine which is influenced by a child’s innate ability, aptitude and maturity. However, there several tips and techniques you can use to hasten the blessed day when your toddler says: “Mommy, I did potty by myself”.

  • Get your child ready – explain to your child that it’s time to do “pee-pee” and “poo-poo” in the potty. Promote the benefits of being trained such as no more diaper rash, interruptions for diaper changing, being clean and dry. Discuss training as an important stage of growing up.
  • Make it fun – first and foremost, make this a game. Children will naturally resist anything which is not framed as a fun learning experience. Use play, music, toys, and stories as part of the experience to keep the child from getting bored or distracted.
  • Create a ritual – try to make the experience repeatable so your child knows what to expect each time and gets into the routine of sitting and staying on the potty.
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Finding the Right Pediatrician for You and Your Baby

finding the right pediatrician

Congratulations, you’re pregnant. As the count-down to the birth of your new child approaches, you should consider finding a pediatrician who will work the best with your soon to be expanding family. Having a pediatrician on-hand though the formative weeks and years of your child’s life is in the best interests of both you and your child. Waiting until your child gets sick or needs a check-up is absolutely not the time to be going through the selection process, which can be stressful even when everything is going according to plan.

Beginning Your Search

There are several sources you can tap into to locate qualified pediatricians in your community.

  • A good place to start is the “American Board of Pediatrics (ABP)”. A pediatrician who is certified by them will have will have graduated from four years of medical school, received three years of resident training, and passed their written examination. They provide pediatrician search service on-line.
  • Another source is the “American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)”. They also provide a referral database of participating members.
  • Certain health plans require you to choose a pediatrician from their approved network.
  • You can also ask is your obstetrician. Obstetricians and pediatricians often interact to oversee the care of both mother and baby.
  • Ask other moms in your neighborhood including friends, family or co-workers. They may be able to relate their personal experiences about specific individuals.
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