You've probably heard about the AAP's updated safe sleep policy by now, but you might have wondered about the evidence behind it. Here's some science to answer your questions.
Posts from the ‘Science’ Category
A recent study found that babies that started eating peanut, wheat, dairy, eggs, fish, and sesame by 3-4 months had a lower rate of food allergies. But it also calls into question whether this protocol would be appropriate or even possible for all babies.
There is a persistent myth about infant gut development that comes up in nearly every online discussion of starting solid foods. It’s the myth that infants have a “virgin” or “open” gut until around 6 months of age. I’ve received so many emails, Facebook posts, and comments about the virgin gut over the last few years that I thought it was finally time to take a look at the science – and lack thereof – behind this myth.
I have written before, in my book and on my blog, about the controversy around when to begin introducing solid foods to a baby. Some health organizations recommend 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, while others recommend starting to offer solids between 4 and 6 months, following baby’s cues of readiness as your ultimate guide. Based on my analysis of the most current science, I believe that the second approach is more evidence-based and helps parents to focus on their baby’s unique development rather than the calendar. I also think that it’s just fine to wait until 6 months if that is your preference.
However, whenever I discuss this science, someone lectures me about infant gut development, and they usually send me a link to KellyMom’s page on the topic, which urges parents not to offer solids before 6 months. Here’s what it says:
“In addition, from birth until somewhere between four and six months of age babies possess what is often referred to as an “open gut.” This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream. This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby’s bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too.”
Wow, that does sound scary! I can see how this “open gut” idea would worry parents approaching the transition to solid foods. But here’s the thing: There are no references given to support these statements, and in all my reading of the research literature on readiness for solids, I have not encountered science backing this concern. Yet somehow this idea of the open gut comes up over and over in online discussions, complete with judgment for parents who offer solids before 6 months and non-evidence-based suggestions about how to “heal” a baby’s gut. All of this only serves to increase anxiety in parents, which is the last thing any of us need.
It’s time to get to the bottom of this. Let’s look at some science…
What do we mean when we talk about an “open” or “closed” gut? How do we measure this? Read more
BabyM is almost 14 months old already. It’s crazy how quickly the first year of his life flew by, and I know the subsequent years will be no different.
The upside of that passage of time is that we’re all sleeping pretty well now, and that is a wonderful thing. To be honest, though, I actually enjoyed watching my baby’s sleep develop this time around. I know that time softens my memories, but I already miss those quiet middle-of-the-night feedings with my baby.
Long-time readers of this blog know that I wrote a lot about sleep when Cee was a baby, in the early days of the blog. I also wrote about evidence-based sleep strategies for my book. I’ve read hundreds of papers on sleep since Cee was a baby, and that changed so much about my approach to M’s sleep. Lots of readers have asked me about how M’s sleep went, so I finally wanted to share his sleep story. Read more
Pregnancy can be incredibly overwhelming. How do we sort through the huge amounts of advice - solicited and not - to make evidence-based choices? Who do we trust? Readers offered their suggestions on my Facebook page, and I've compiled them into a handy list for you!
The newborn vitamin K shot prevents rare but potentially devastating vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). If you're concerned about the ingredients in the shot, I've investigated the science behind each one so that you can understand why it's included in the shot and why it's safe for your baby.
Health organizations recommend roomsharing without bedsharing as the safest place for babies to sleep. Some parents love roomsharing, but others find it too disruptive to sleep next to a noisy baby. In this post, I look at the science to see how roomsharing affects sleep - both yours and the baby's - and how roomsharing protects infants from SIDS.
Sometimes, when you're going through a rough patch with your baby's sleep, it helps just to know that it's normal. A recent study published in Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development helps in this regard, because it shows that when babies learn to crawl, they have a harder time sleeping during the night. I write about the study and about my own experiences with sleep disruptions in late infancy.