Posts Tagged ‘ babies ’

This Is What Happens to Your Brain When You Hear a Crying Baby

Friday, July 17th, 2015

crying babiesWe were coming back from a wedding one night when my then-3-month-old baby started crying—big, loud howls that made it nearly impossible for me to focus on driving. I just wanted to fix it. Now.

Seeing me squirm in my seat and throw panicky glances into the rearview mirror, my brother-in-law astutely pointed out, “I bet you’d tear someone’s arm off right now if it meant you could turn around and take care of him.” Which sounded like a totally fair deal to me at the time.

Mama bear instincts? Hmm, maybe—but as researchers have recently discovered, there may be something even more primal at play when we hear a baby cry. That’s because the very specific sound qualities of screaming set off the amygdala, or the region of the brain that generates a fear response. (Alarm clocks and car alarms also trigger it.) This helps explain our very physical response to baby’s fussing: racing heartbeat, rising blood pressure, twinges of panic or discomfort.

To reach that conclusion, researchers first analyzed a database of recorded screams to pinpoint what exactly sets that sound apart from the rest (#worstjobever). The answer: a proper yell can change loudness up to 100 times each second, compared to the average four or five changes per second that occur when someone is talking. Then researchers hooked up volunteers to a functional MRI and mapped their brain activity as they listened to a variety of sounds, including screams. That’s when they discovered the connection with the amygdala.

The findings were published Thursday in Cell Biology.

Of course, the question is, does knowing all of this make hearing babies cry any easier? Nah, probably not—but at least it can help explain your reaction to it.

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Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

How to Soothe a Crying Baby
How to Soothe a Crying Baby
How to Soothe a Crying Baby

Image of crying baby courtesy of Shutterstock

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The Hot Car Challenge (and App) That Could Help Save Your Baby’s Life

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Two days ago, a South Florida 11-month-old died after being left alone in a hot car. The baby’s parents and four siblings were so busy unloading the groceries that they forgot all about the infant strapped inside. An hour later, the parents went back to the family car, saw the child and administered CPR in vain while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

It’s a familiar—and heartbreaking—story, especially in the dog days of summer, yet it never gets easier to hear. For every happy ending, like the 1-year-old Massachusetts girl who survived being left behind in the family SUV, there are many more that end in tragedy. Like the 18-month-old Panama City, Fla., baby who died in the parking lot while her mom was inside teaching. Or the 16-month old in Columbia County, Fla., who died after her dad forgot to drop her off at daycare.

The good news is, there are apps that can help prevent these senseless deaths. And one popular app, Kars4KidsSafety, has been retooled so it’s even easier for parents to use. First unveiled last year by the nonprofit Kars4Kids, the app syncs with your vehicle’s Bluetooth to sound an alert whenever you (and your phone) leave the car, reminding you to bring your child with you. Plus, you can now personalize the app with a photo of your baby, a customized ringtone alert, and the option to tailor your notifications.

But that’s not all. To help raise awareness about the dangers of leaving baby alone in a car, even for a minute, the nonprofit has also released a short, powerful film. In it, we see a handful of adult volunteers strapped in the back of an empty car in the middle of a parking lot. Their challenge? To sit there for 10 full minutes, though they have the option to press a button and leave at any time. The men and women all start out fine—one guy even beat boxes to himself—but thing take a turn as the minutes pass and the temperature spikes. Suddenly, sweat starts dripping down their faces, they’re fanning themselves, and taking off extra layers. Then, panic and extreme discomfort set in, and before long they’re pounding on the release button—a luxury no baby has.

“That was one of the worst things I’ve ever gone through in my life,” says one man afterward. “It seems fine at first, but once that door closed, almost immediately it gets really hot and the air flow becomes almost oppressive.” Another woman perfectly summed up point of the challenge: “I can only imagine how a child or a baby would feel in there, just waiting for someone to come and get them.”

Though apps are certainly no replacement for eyeballing the backseat yourself, they’re a useful backup for tired, overwhelmed, overworked parents. Kars4KidsSafety may not cost a penny to download (yes, it’s free), but the peace of mind it can help give us is invaluable. (And P.S. if you ever see a baby alone in a car, call 911 immediately. You could help save a life.)

Check out the video below—and click here to download the app.

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake
Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake
Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake

Screen shot courtesy of Kars4Kids via YouTube

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A New Documentary Shines a Light on Postpartum Depression

Monday, July 6th, 2015

dark side of the full moonIn the days and weeks after I gave birth to my son, I felt like an alien. Everything about my new role was foreign to me. Swaddling, breastfeeding, burping, soothing—none of it was second nature and none of it felt like me. Though I wasn’t depressed, I was struggling with free-falling hormones and a nagging sense that I’d never get the hang of being a mother.

During that confusing, overwhelming first year of motherhood, only two people asked me how I was holding up: our pediatrician and my ob-gyn. Not so great, but that’s two more inquiries than many women receive after giving birth. A new documentary hopes to change all of that. As Dark Side of the Full Moon shows, depression during pregnancy and after childbirth is a real issue: As many as 1 in 7 women suffer from some sort of maternal mental health complication, like postpartum depression (PPD), and roughly 1 in 1,000 will get postpartum psychosis. (Meanwhile, dads are also vulnerable to PPD.) It’s an issue for families, yes, but also the community at large.

Yet those moms aren’t always getting the help they desperately need. “High blood pressure gets treated. Diabetes gets treated. Treating mental health is optional,” one woman astutely points out in the film’s trailer. The filmmakers, Maureen Fura and Jennifer Silliman, interview several moms who experienced PPD, and their stories are heartbreaking (and all too familiar): women who feel no attachment to their newborns, who struggle with a sadness that goes far beyond the baby blues, and who feel like they have to pull themselves out of this darkness on their own. (Check out the trailer here.)

Fura and Silliman know feelings like those all too well; both women experienced depression after the birth of their children. They’re hoping to use this documentary to help raise awareness about maternal mental health issues—and the lack of help available—and speak out for the moms who are struggling in silence. They’re also hoping it encourages others to get involved.

So far, Dark Side of the Full Moon seems to be working. It’s being screened in theaters and living rooms across the country and is being used as part of the curriculum in schools like Stanford and Emory University and health organizations and hospitals like the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s psychiatry department and the California Health Collaborative. Hopefully, through education and conversation like this, struggling moms can finally get the help they need and deserve.

Don’t forget to sign up to receive our free Parents Daily Baby newsletter!

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Postpartum Depression:
Postpartum Depression:
Postpartum Depression: "I couldn't even talk... without crying."

Image of Dark Side of the Full Moon via Facebook

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Want to Make Baby’s 4th of July Safer? Don’t Forget This!

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

4th of julyRaising a child in Manhattan, I think about noise every day. Specifically, how to keep my kid at a safe distance from the whining sirens, screeching subways and deafening jackhammers that are part and parcel of life in a bustling city.

But apparently, those sounds are nothing compared to the snap, crackle, pop that will take place across the country this weekend. The 4th of July may be one big love letter to patriotism, cookouts and big band music, but it’s also hell on our ears. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a dazzling fireworks display can register as high as 150 decibels. That’s louder than a chainsaw (100 dB), a jet engine taking off (120 dB) and even a jackhammer (130 dB). (P.S. Anything louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss – in you and your baby.)

Does this mean you should wrap up the party before the sun goes down? Not necessarily. ASHA offers some common-sense-tips so you can enjoy the 4th of July safely:

  • Keep your distance. Protect your fam’s precious ears by staying 500 feet (or roughly one and a half football fields) away from the noise.
  • Be mindful of limits. If you think a noise is too loud or going on too long, step away with baby. Far, far away.
  • Cover up. Leave room in the diaper bag for ear protection: ear plugs for you and ear muffs for your babe.

Of course, if you’re ever concerned that your kiddo’s hearing isn’t 100 percent, call your pediatrician. Some signs of hearing loss in young children include a lack of attention to sounds, pulling or scratching at the ears, no response to their name or simple directions, and delays in speech and language development.

Related: Fireworks Safety Rules and Tips for Families

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Speech Development Warning Signs
Speech Development Warning Signs
Speech Development Warning Signs

Image of fireworks courtesy of Shutterstock

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Should Single Moms Celebrate Father’s Day, Too?

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

single momsHave your goosebumps gone down since last week’s Father’s Day video from Toyota? Prepare yourself for another tearjerker of a commercial, this time courtesy of Angel Soft.

But instead of addressing the main man in our life, the tissue company is giving a shout-out to single moms, who often find themselves taking on the exhausting role of both parents. The two-and-a-half-minute video features a handful of adults talking about how, for various reasons, their mamas had to be the head of the household and how the women raised them with a combination of compassion and toughness. To wit, one man said his mom taught him how to defend himself. “She was like, ‘When you punch, you put your knuckle out and you just go for it.’ I don’t even know if that’s a thing.” (#Love)

The adults, who by this point are weepy (as am I), close by thanking their moms for all their hard work and love and wishing them a happy Father’s Day. Though this message is sweet, it doesn’t sit well with some people, who believe that dads deserve at least one day in the spotlight for themselves. I can see their point, but I’d argue that single moms deserve the day, too, since they’re assuming the duties of both parents. (Likewise, single dads should enjoy extra love on Mother’s Day!) After all, raising kids is tough enough with a partner, and I can’t imagine how trying the job is when you’re doing it solo. If you’re taking on the gargantuan task of being mom and dad to your children, why wouldn’t we celebrate you on both days?

Check out the full video below—and be sure to have a tissue nearby!

Don’t forget to sign up to receive our free Parents Daily Baby newsletter

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter Pinterest, and Google+.

Screenshot courtesy of Angel Soft via YouTube

 

What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?

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