Lullabies and other music may help sick preemies
Singing or playing womb-like sounds in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) may help slow the heart rate and improve sleep and eating patterns of premature babies, a new study suggests. (via Reuters)
Children, Ages 5 And 7, Drown In L.I. Pool
A 5-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl drowned Sunday afternoon in a backyard pool in Suffolk County. (via CBS News)
Education Reform: Starting at the Beginning
School officials in Atlanta have been accused of racketeering for cheating on tests in order to gain bonus pay and status for their schools. (via Huffington Post)
Sexist ‘Avengers’ T Shirts Tell Boys To Be Heroes And Girls To Need A Hero
Marvel, the comic book publisher, is now contributing to the boys are strong/girls are weak dichotomy with two t-shirts based on the popular “Avengers” franchise. (via Huffington Post)
People, networks may sway parents’ vaccine choices
The people and information sources parents surround themselves with may influence their choice to vaccinate their children or not, according to a survey from one county in Washington state. via Reuters
Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.
As a pediatrician, I may have been ahead of my time in advocating gender-neutral play for kids. Beginning nearly 25 years ago when our oldest was born and continuing with his sister and brother, we gave our boys ample opportunity to play with dolls and our daughter saw more than her share of toy trucks. Despite our advanced thinking, by the time they were 2, 4, and 6 years old, the kids seemed to have already absorbed society’s subliminal stereotyping, gravitating to the predictable playthings for their gender. Our kids really loved playing together, so most of their play was gender generic: backyard soccer, Beanie Babies, Candy Land, card games, and climbing towers. We gradually reconciled ourselves to the fact that some of their play would never cross gender lines.
As they got a little older, our daughter found girlfriends who loved Barbie dolls as much as she did (there were some non-stop Ken and Barbie days from breakfast to dinner) and the boys played ball — all the time, with each other and with other boys in the neighborhood. (Our oldest son’s first question, when we brought his baby brother home from the hospital, was: “When will he be old enough to play baseball?”). Occasionally, when Ken and Barbie were tired or when her friends had to go home, our daughter would join the boys in the backyard for ball. But the reverse never happened, for two reasons: the boys never tired of ball and Barbies were for girls.
That brings us to the fateful day when our now 4, 6, and 8 year old kids taught us an important lesson about the ability of kids’ imaginations to transcend all the TV, movie, children’s books, and playground stereotypes they were exposed to every day. It was a rainy Saturday and Emily’s closest Barbie buddies were all unavailable. This was a potential 7.0 crisis on the kid Richter scale.
Downstairs, in the basement, our boys had a 5 foot basketball hoop set up for rainy days. To compensate for age and size difference, our 8 year old played on his knees. Meanwhile upstairs, our daughter was able to sustain a Barbie soap opera (there was always drama with Ken and Barbie) on her own for about half an hour, but then she exhausted her imagination and needed a friend to contribute to the plot and dialog. But on this day, there were no friends and no outdoor options.
This was clearly a parenting moment, and my wife leaped into action. She called the boys upstairs and told them they had to be their sister’s Barbie buddies, at which point we both upgraded to DEFCON 3 and waited for the explosion. No explosion. Just a loud groan from the 8 year old and an echo groan from the 4 year old, followed by the negotiations. Will she play basketball with us after? How long do we have to do it? Do we have to talk like Barbie? When’s lunch? Each question asked by the 8 year old was echoed by the 4 year old. At that point, mom made it very clear: Your sister puts up with a lot of boy stuff in this house. Please go upstairs, now. Play Barbie and pretend to like it. Big groan, echo groan, synchronous stair stomping.
Seeking Signs of SIDS Risks in the Womb
Subtle abnormalities in the placentas of pregnant women may predispose newborns to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, according to a study in Early Human Development. (via Wall Street Journal)
Ovarian Cancer Screenings Are Not Effective, Panel Says
Tests commonly recommended to screen healthy women for ovarian cancer do more harm than good and should not be performed, a panel of medical experts said on Monday. (via New York Times)
Eye-Surgery Benefit Linked to Gender
Motor-vehicle accidents involving men decreased by 15.3% in the 12 months following cataract surgery but the frequency of postoperative crashes didn’t change significantly for women, according to a study in Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology. (via Wall Street Journal)
Siblings Among First Cured of ‘Bubble Boy Disease’
Brother and sister Colton and Abbygail Ainslie are among three children successfully treated for their immune deficiency during an experiment detailed in Tuesday’s issue of the journal Blood. (via Today)
New Breed of Robotics Aims to Help People Walk Again
Ekso Bionics is one of several companies and research labs that are working on wearable robots made to help disabled people or to make the human body superhuman. (via The New York Times)
Children’s snoring linked to behavioral problems
Children who persistently snore during their early childhood may be more likely to have behavioral problems such as aggression and hyperactivity, according to a new study. (via MSNBC)
A Host of Ills When Iron’s Out of Balance
Iron, an essential nutrient, has long been the nation’s most common nutritional deficiency. In decades past, many parents worried that children who were picky eaters would develop iron-deficiency anemia. (via New York Times)
Baby’s got cradle cap? Home remedy may worsen it
Home remedies for cradle cap and dandruff may do more harm than good by feeding the little organisms that cause the condition, two doctors warned on Monday. (via NBC)
Are gender-neutral toys much ado about nothing?
With all eyes on London in recent weeks, the city’s most famous department store managed to steal a few headlines — and maybe a few Olympics tourists — by unveiling a new gender-neutral toy department. (via MSNBC)
Is Corporal Punishment in School Legal?
Corporal punishment in school is still legal in 19 states which may come as a surprise depending on where in country you live. (via Reuters)
You’ve probably already read the big pregnancy news of the day: at-home blood tests can now predict your baby’s gender only seven weeks into pregnancy with 95% accuracy. The tests, which cost a few hundred dollars with lab fees, aren’t new, but a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association yesterday raised their credibility.
Seven weeks is much earlier than the standard 18-20 weeks when women can typically find out their baby’s gender. But is finding out whether you’re having a boy or girl so soon a good thing? For parents who can’t wait to think of a baby name and decorate the nursery, the tests are great news. The tests can also provide relief for parents worried about gender-linked diseases.
But many news outlets are focusing on the potential for women to use these tests to select the gender of their child. While it’s hard for us to imagine a mother aborting her child because it’s not the sex she hoped for, it is a possibility with the new tests.
Many of you read and responded to our previous blog post about a Canadian couple raising their child “genderless.” Yesterday another report brought the gender-neutral trend back into the media spotlight.
So you give toy trucks to boys and baby dolls to girls, right?
That’s what we typically buy for young children, often unconsciously aligning with the unspoken gender norms that form our world. It’s just second nature.
But inside the Swedish “Egalia” preschool, children play with toys and read books specifically designed to slash gender stereotypes. Even language, like the pronouns for “him” and “her” have been altered, with students addressing each other as “friends” instead of girls or boys.
It can be assumed you won’t find any Disney princesses in this establishment.
Some parents are thrilled at the prospect of having a child unaltered by what they believe are society’s biased beliefs. Others are unsupportive of the taxpayer-funded preschool, located in a liberal district of Stockholm.
But what’s wrong with boys who play with trucks and girls who play with dolls?
One article quotes a teacher explaining that girls are expected to be “nice and pretty” while boys are meant to be “manly, rough and outgoing.” The Egalia preschool is supposed to give children a chance to find their own sexuality, without the reinforcement of stereotypes. Some also commented that they have no problem with stereotypical behavior exhibited in children, as long as their actions are treated with equality.
But what do you think? Do you believe Egalia is setting children up for real-life or has this school gone too far?
This past weekend, The New York Times published an article about the gender identity/gender confusion debate that has been an ongoing national focus this year.
While it’s nothing new that little boys (particularly toddlers and preschoolers) “cross” gender stereotypes by wearing dresses, playing with dolls, and wearing neon pink nail polish, what’s new is how parents are handling their kids’ interests.
Instead of forcing boys to conform to gender stereotypes, more parents are supportive and letting their kids express themselves. Whether a child really is gay or not or just exploring different interests, parents are keeping an open mind and letting kids grow up confident in their own interests and choices.