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Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
For the first time, the AAP has made an official stand on early literacy, releasing a new policy today that advocates reading aloud to children every day, beginning from birth. The new policy urges pediatricians and policy makers to ensure that books are available to all families, particularly those with low income.
In addition to the announcement, the AAP has also partnered with four organizations, the Clinton Foundation, Too Small to Fail, Scholastic, and Reach Out and Read, to implement the new policy. The AAP and Too Small to Fail are creating a toolkit to include guidelines for parents on the importance of reading from infancy, which will be distributed to 62,000 pediatricians in the AAP network. Scholastic is also donating 50,000 children’s books that Reach Out and Read will distribute to 20,000 medical providers.
The AAP recommends restricting TV time for kids under 2 in favor of interactive play, and reading books can certainly be a part of that. Speaking to the Huffington Post, Pamela High, M.D., the lead author on the AAP early literacy policy, recommends that parents focus on the 5 Rs of early education: read together, rhyme and play with words, set consistent routines, reward with praise, and develop a strong relationship.
Being exposed to books at a young age will also foster early education, help kids prepare for school later in life, and possibly reduce the educational gap between low- and high-income families. There are also several amazing benefits of reading out loud to babies — it strengthens bonding, increases language skills, improves vocabulary, boosts brain activity, and fine-tunes social and emotional recognition — all important things for baby’s development. So grab some board books and start shaping a little bookworm today!
Image: Mother and child reading a book via Shutterstock
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AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, books, children's books, education, news, reading, too small to fail | Categories:
Babies, Child Development, Education, News, Parenting, The Parents Perspective
Thursday, March 6th, 2014
Reading the flurry of recent online commentary about the new study that shows that the benefits of breastfeeding may not be as powerful as we think, reminds me of the way I feel whenever I read a story that reports that marathon running isn’t necessarily so fantastic for your health: Gotcha! Though I enjoy exercise, due to banal body reasons I will never cross a finish line after logging 26.2 miles. And “marathon running is bad for the heart” headlines, no matter how inflamed they may be, give me a wee bit of pleasure.
So it seems to be for those who write about breastfeeding. Put it in its place! Take it down! The Ohio State University study, published online in Social Science & Medicine, appears to have been well-designed without any conflicts of interest. It found that among children age 4 to 14 years, there was no difference between those who were nursed versus those given formula on outcomes, such as body mass index, asthma, hyperactivity and math ability.
And that’s really great news—a relief, really, since even nursing moms need to supplement with formula sometimes. I nursed my younger two daughters until a little after age one, right in sync with what the AAP recommends. My oldest daughter received pumped breast milk until 6 months, and formula after that, and I can say with her teacher’s blessing that she’s not at risk of being crushed in math. In other words, there’s really no difference among my three girls now, though I do emphasize now. As babies, my oldest had more ear infections, and was much more prone to infections, in general, than my younger two. Is it because of the breast milk? Well, we’ll never really know, she was also born premature, but research does show that breast milk passes along immunities that help prevent ear infections, respiratory infections, and diarrhea. Not to mention breast milk is easier to digest than formula (and gas never makes for a happy baby) and, most importantly, reduces the risk of SIDS. Those are benefits not to be dismissed.
It’s time to rephrase our thinking that if a study finds that formula is good, it must mean that breastfeeding isn’t worth the cracked nipples and plugged milk ducts. A step forward for formula doesn’t have to result in a step backward for breast milk. And I would suggest to anyone who thinks that way to do what I do when I feel envious of my marathon-running pals: Sweat it out in a spin class.
To keep track of your baby’s feeding schedule, download our care charts for breastfeeding or formula feeding.
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
(How cute is the baby in this photo?!)
A few weeks ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics held its annual conference, this time in Orlando. Each year, roughly 8,000 doctors from around the United States (as well as other countries) attend this four-day meeting in order to share the latest research and help pediatricians manage their practices more effectively. Several reporters and editors go as well, myself included. I think of myself as a fly on the wall–it’s a phenomenal opportunity to learn about the issues that resonate most strongly with doctors and to hear firsthand what they encounter when they’re interacting with children and their parents. I come away with all kinds of story ideas, leads on experts, and blog fodder. I’ve got a steno book full of notes (yep, I’m old-school) that I’ll put to use all year, but in the meantime, here are some of the findings that jumped out at me.
1. Not enough kids are wearing bike helmets. In one study, only 11 percent of children involved in bike accidents had been wearing one.
2. Asthma often goes hand in hand with allergies. We report on this all the time, but the numbers are pretty startling: Between 60 and 80 percent of kids with asthma will also have allergic rhinitis.
3. Apps for babies may have a big drawback. Studies are underway looking at “poking” apps (such as ones where your little one pops bubbles on the screen); researchers suspect that they may cause kids to be behind later, when it’s time to grasp pencils. We’ll be following this for sure.
4. Every family should have two non-negotiable electronics-free zones. They are the dinner table (or wherever your family eats together), and your child’s bed. The doctor who led this talk said that banning electronics from the bedroom simply isn’t realistic anymore, but every parent ought to be able to keep them out of your child’s actual bed.
5. Melatonin may help kids sleep, but only to a point. In a session about alternative approaches to developmental disorders, the doctor said that melatonin can be helpful in making kids fall asleep faster, but it doesn’t necessarily make them sleep longer.
6. Tics are more common than you may think. Between 10 and 20 percent of school-age kids have them, and they typically appear in kids between the ages of 2 and 6. Luckily, they tend to go away, but if they persist for more than a year (which admittedly sounds like a long time), your pediatrician should refer you to a specialist.
7. Pot is addictive. (By the way, the session on marijuana was packed.) It’s a common misconception that you can’t become addicted to marijuana, but loads of research says otherwise. And when it comes to “medical marijuana,” we need to be careful, since no studies have included kids or adolescents. Speaking of older kids, more of them now smoke pot daily than they smoke tobacco, and that trend is expected to continue.
Use this handy quiz to decide whether your kid is too sick for school. Plus, find out which 12 sick kid symptoms you should never ignore.
Image: Pediatrician with baby via Shutterstock.
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Friday, August 9th, 2013
Get your kid thinking creatively for a good cause with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 9th Annual Children’s Art Contest. If your child submits a piece of original artwork depicting a world without tobacco and secondhand smoke, he or she could be invited to Orlando to present the masterpiece at the AAP’s National Conference & Exhibition, and receive $500 cash and up to $1,000 in travel expenses. Second-place winners receive $250, and all six winners’ schools will receive matching cash amounts. The contest is open to children in three groups: grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. To enter, children must send their artwork by August 30 to Children’s Art Contest, American Academy of Pediatrics, 141, Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. (You can’t enter online, but you’ll find the complete rules, entry form, and consent form here.)
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