Thursday Paragraph: Fall

First:  An explanation: 

In high school, my senior English teacher was a guy named Bruce (we called him by his first name – I went to a pretty progressive high school).  I just Googled him and learned that he is now a well-published poet and a professor.  He was an amazing teacher, and I was lucky to have him.  What I remember most about his class was that every week, he had us write and bring to class a Thursday Paragraph.  Your Thursday Paragraph could be (and usually was) scribbled out just before class or be the product of long deliberation the week before.  It was one paragraph – not longer than a hand-written notebook page – and could be on any topic of your choosing.  Bruce would read our paragraphs aloud for the first 15 minutes of class, and although I was shy, I remember the pride I felt in having my words read aloud.  Continue reading

Good News: Fewer Hospitals Giving Free Formula Samples to New Parents

A new study published this week in Pediatrics looked at changes from 2007 to 2010 in the percentage of hospitals giving out free formula samples to new parents.

The news is good!  Fewer hospitals gave out industry-sponsored formula samples in 2010 than in 2007, so we’re moving in the right direction.  However, the majority of hospitals still give free formula to new parents.  We definitely aren’t there yet, folks. Continue reading

Interpreting infant growth charts

Remember your first visit with your baby’s pediatrician?

I remember that it seemed like a HUGE deal just to leave the house.  Did we fasten BabyC in the car seat correctly?  Where can we sit in this waiting room where there will be 0% chance of a sick kid coughing on her?  OMG, she’s crying!  How long will we have to wait?  Should I feed her?  Yes, let’s try that.  (First time nursing in public.)  Five minutes later, when I had finally situated the baby and arranged the nursing cover and gotten a proper latch, the nurse called us back to the examining room… That’s what I remember.

Oh, but our visit with the pediatrician – what do I remember about that?  Two things.  First, he told me that, even though it seemed like my baby was nursing for 45 minutes out of every hour of the day, my milk may not come in for another 2 or 3 or 4 days.  And my baby might get a little hungry.  Great.  Second, the nurse weighed our baby and measured her length and head circumference.  Then we got those all-important percentile stats that told us how our baby compared to her peers.  So began a lifetime of pretending not to care how our baby measured up. Continue reading

New Study: Exclusive Breastfeeding Can Support Infant Growth to 6 Months of Age

A new study published this week in the journal Pediatrics found that exclusive breastfeeding up to six months provides enough calories for infants.

Quick and Dirty Summary:

This study addressed two common concerns about breastfeeding:  1) Many moms simply can’t produce enough milk for their babies; and 2) Exclusive breastfeeding, while adequate in younger infants, may not provide enough calories for babies up to 6 months of age.  The data from this study indicate that when moms are given breastfeeding support, milk production is not a limiting factor and provides enough calories for normal growth, even in 6-month-old infants.  However, this study was small and had several limitations (which I will discuss).

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Shareworthy Recipe: Israeli Couscous and Mushroom Pilaf

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want the ScienceofMom blog to be.  Is it a science blog?  Not completely.  A mommy blog?  I want it to be more…   A food blog?  Sort of, if baby food counts.  I don’t want it to be too scattered, but I’m finding that my readers are responding to all of these things, at least so far.  So maybe some balance is good.  Besides, I’m still trying to finish up that last research paper, so I haven’t had much time to work on sciency posts.

If I was going to have a food blog, it would probably focus on easy, healthy ways to prepare local food. These days, I don’t tackle anything in the kitchen unless it is simple enough that I can do it while a baby crawls around my feet, steals my kitchen utensils, and otherwise distracts me every two minutes.  Continue reading

Camping with Baby: A Photo Essay

We took BabyC camping for the first time a few days ago.  We hadn’t been camping since I was 20 weeks pregnant, at which point I was already too uncomfortable to be sleeping on the hard ground.  Before my pregnancy though, Husband and I did a lot of outdoor exploration together – hiking, camping, climbing, backpacking.  Being outdoors together grew our relationship in the early days and strengthened it as the years went by.  There is nothing like being out together on a multi-pitch climb up a rock face, just the two of you, to erase any doubt that you trust the other person wholly and completely.  And nothing quite like tackling all the tasks of setting up a camp and getting a one-pot dinner cooked after a long day of backpacking to make you glad you are on the same team.  These experiences have shaped who we are as friends and as husband and wife.
But now we have a baby in the mix.  There are no more multi-pitch climbing expeditions or long backpacking trips in our near future.  That’s the way it is, we thought.  We’ll make do with car-camping.  I was excited about the trip. Continue reading

Exploring and Enjoying Food with Baby

At almost 10 months old, BabyC spends at least two hours per day in her high chair.  She loves finger foods and takes her time with them.  For me, this is a great time to catch up on the dishes or work on preparing a meal, all the while chatting with BabyC, replenishing her high chair tray, and listening to some music together.  As much as I value that productive, multi-tasking time, I’ve been making a real effort to prepare food for both of us and sit down to enjoy meals with her.  Due to his hectic work schedule, my husband is rarely both home and awake during our meals, but we’re sitting down to eat with Dad too when we can.  I want BabyC to know that mealtime is family time.

Here, BabyC examines the ingredients of lasagna, a dish we can both enjoy. BabyC now notices when I have something on my plate that she doesn’t have, so it is nice to eat the same foods.

Mealtime is also a great time to explore the tastes and textures of foods.  We’ve been having a lot of fun with this lately.  I pull the high chair up to the counter so that BabyC can watch me prepare food.  Fruits have proven to be the most exciting.  Try handing your baby a fresh peach, a kiwi fruit, or even plopping a whole cantaloupe on her tray.  Let her smell it and feel the texture of the skin.  When I put the cantaloupe in front of BabyC, she was clearly impressed with the weight of it.  She tried to pick it up with both hands, but it was too heavy for her.  She looked up at me inquisitively, and I agreed with her, “That is a very heavy cantaloupe, isn’t it?”

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New Study: Harsh Discipline is Associated with More Behavioral Problems

There was an interesting study published online this week in the journal Pediatrics:
 

The most important finding of this study was that harsh discipline tactics don’t lead to healthy, well-behaved children.

This was a longitudinal study (meaning that the same groups of kids were studied at several different time points) of Australian children in which 5107 infants (3-19 months) were monitored several times up until age 4-5 years and 4983 preschoolers (4-5-year-olds) were monitored up until age 8-9 years.  Between enrollment in the study and the final assessment, 86% and 87% of the infants and preschoolers, respectively, remained in the study.  That makes this a relatively large study with a good retention rate.

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Peer Review Blues

I’ve been working on responding to reviews of the last paper submitted from my postdoc work.  This process is never fun, and this one is especially tough because I haven’t thought much about this project since I submitted the paper a couple of months ago.  I’d much rather be working on this blog, and I have a long list of cool sciency parenting topics that I can’t wait to tackle, but I’m trying to find the discipline to spend a few hours a day revising this paper.  And a few hours a day is all I have at the moment.  It is a pain, but I need to get it done and get it done well.

On the other hand, I’m trying to appreciate that this peer review process serves a vital purpose, and my paper will be better for it by the time it is published.  It isn’t a perfect system, but it certainly goes a long way towards ensuring that scientific data are published with integrity.  If you aren’t familiar with this process, here it is in a nutshell:  Continue reading

Discipline for Babies?

I’ve been thinking about discipline lately.  I know the time is coming when we’ll have to set some boundaries for BabyC.  Given how quickly these last 9 months have flown by, I know that time is coming soon – or is it here already?  I want to be prepared, but just the word “discipline,” makes panic rise up in my heart.

An infant’s needs are straight-forward enough:  feed, diaper, help to sleep (OK, that one is tough), rinse, repeat, over and over.  Luckily, it doesn’t take much thought to meet a young infant’s needs, which is good, because we were too sleep-deprived to think much during that time.  But as BabyC gets older, she is more aware of how we react to events.  She notices the expressions on our faces and the emotions in our voices.  She is observing, processing, and remembering the new things that she is learning every day.  Her little personality is starting to shine, and it is a reflection of both the way her brain is wired and of her time spent with us, her parents.  She is reaching an age at which she will need some guidance about how to behave in the world and help to understand what is appropriate and what is not, not to mention what is safe and what is not.  It is up to us to provide her with that guidance, and that scares the hell out of me. Continue reading