Entries in Infants (37)


Baby Items that Can Break the Bank

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Having a baby can be one of the happiest and transformative moments in a parent's life, which is why many soon-to-be mothers and fathers break the bank when it comes to their first future "mini-me." The average mom spent $4,294 from pregnancy through the baby's first year -- 45 percent of which was spent before the baby was even born -- according to the 2010's Pregnancy and Baby Study.

Elena Mauer, an editor at, said she recommends 'three Bs' when it comes to shopping for your baby: borrow, bargain hunt, and buy in bulk. But parents should prioritize what is important for them.

Here are seven items Mauer and other mothers say parents can do without:

Baby Wipe Warmer:  Mauer said most mothers who have used an appliance to warm up a baby wipe before cleaning a baby's bottom have said it is not worth the investment, which is around $20. But she said some mothers have said they will do anything to help or prevent a crying baby who dislikes a cold wipe in the middle of the night.

Shannon Shafer, blogger on the site, part of the Lifetime Moms Affiliate Program of, said baby bottle warmers are also not necessary.

"A basic warmer works just fine or you can an use hot water or microwave to warm up liquids," Shafer said.

Bassinet:  Mauer said a solid wood bassinet can be beautiful, but if you are trying to save money, "it's not the way to go."

"Babies usually sleep in them for a matter of weeks because they're very small. We think babies can sleep in a crib from the get-go," she said.

If you really want a bassinet, Mauer recommends a play yard with a bassinet attachment. That can be used as a playpen when a baby gets older and can be folded up to use as a travel crib. Or, if you buy a crib on wheels, you can wheel it into your room for the portability of a bassinet.

Baby Bedding:  Comforter and Bumper Pad:  Mauer said big bedding sets with a comforter and bumper pad are not necessary and she recommends not using a bumper pad at all because of a suffocation hazard.

"You just need a good fitted sheet, cozy pajamas and a good mattress," she said, as opposed to decorated bedding which can cost over a hundred dollars.

Baby Food Makers:  Mauer said baby food makers, which promote natural home-made baby food, can cost a few hundred dollars.

"They're very convenient. You can warm a baby's food and puree it all in one machine," she said. "But really, if you have a good food processor or blender you can make it yourself."

She said the appliances are convenient but not necessary.

Fancy Baby Monitors:  Mauer said baby monitors can be important, though sometimes families in small apartments can survive without them, especially the fancier models that can cost upward of $200 or more, as opposed to the $40 variety.

"A lot of parents like to have them but you don't need video capability and all the other bells and whistles," she said. "A baby monitor that doesn't have interference is enough as long as you can hear your baby."

However, some mothers delight in being able to see their baby and know the temperature in the baby's room.

Diaper Changing Tools and Equipment:  Shannon Shafer, mother of one in Philadelphia, said most diaper pails, garbage cans for diaper changing, go unused after the first few weeks of excitement over the newfangled gadget. Diaper pails often are marketed as special "deodorizing" garbage cans. Shafer said the replacement bags for some diaper pails are "ridiculously expensive" and that parents should use a standard foot pedal trash can. Many mothers have said changing tables can also be unnecessary, according to Shafer.

"Invest in a good changing pad," she said. "Most of the time, you won't be changing your child in the nursery anyway."

Designer Clothes and Shoes:  Mauer said while baby clothing and shoes are adorable, they are only worn for a short time because babies grow rapidly, especially in the first year.

"Newborn baby shoes are probably worn for a matter of weeks," she said. "We recommend you stay away from designer clothes unless it is a must-have item for a special occasion."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Babies Born Anxious or Is Anxiety Thrust Upon Them?

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Parents often say their child’s personality was apparent from Day One, but can adult personality really be predicted from the way a baby behaves while still in diapers?

That was the question researchers investigated in a study published Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Researchers followed 135 children from infancy through early adulthood and found that, for boys at least, being a fussy, reactive infant in the first few months of life was associated with a stronger neurological reaction to unfamiliar faces at age 18 -- a reaction researchers believe signals a propensity toward social anxiety and possibly depression later on.

When the study subjects were four months old, researchers evaluated whether they were “high reactive,” meaning they fussed and cried when presented with loud noises or unfamiliar smells, or “low reactive,” meaning they didn’t react in this fearful or agitated manner when presented with new stimuli. Researchers suspected that the “high reactive” infants would continue to have a negative response to unfamiliar stimuli up through adulthood, though as adults, this fear of the unfamiliar might manifest as social anxiety, generalized anxiety or depression.

They found that this was true to an extent among the boys in their group: When shown unfamiliar faces, the boys that had been high-reactive infants tended to have stronger responses in the part of the brain that processes threat and novelty when compared to subjects who had been less fussy as infants.

"The idea is that when these kids walk into a room of strangers, their brains respond more,” Dr. Carl Schwartz, the Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatrist who led the study, told ABC News.  They are interpreting the situation as a threat, whereas an extrovert wouldn’t, he says. “These are the kids who are afraid to raise their hands in class, who don’t date in high school,” Schwartz says.

"I would never want to say that this is deterministic,” he adds.  It’s not that someone with a reactive temperament is doomed to be anxious or introverted, but these results suggest that it might be harder for a reactive infant to grow up into an “extreme extrovert” because there is something happening early on that affects how their brains react, he says.

In the past few decades, psychologists have started to pay more attention to the disposition babies express very early on in life, and how temperament may serve as a window into a child’s future personality and mental health.

But looking at only the temperament may take the “nature” side of the equation too far,  Jerry Aldridge, a professor of early childhood education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told

While the temperament may be inborn, says Aldridge, it’s how that temperament is nurtured, or not nurtured, that determines whether a fearful infant might grow up into an anxious adult.

"The link between early temperament and propensity to psychological disorder later in life has a lot to do with the environment. Children whose environment supports their temperaments do better than those whose environment causes a ‘badness of fit’ between the child and the environment,” he says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Newborn Mortality Rate Higher than 40 Countries

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The newborn death rate in the United States is higher than in 40 other countries including Malaysia, Cuba and Poland, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, examines data from 190 countries, finding that newborn deaths have declined over the past 20 years from 4.6 million in 1999 to 3.3 million in 2009.

But despite the overall decline, infant mortality has dropped much more slowly than other age groups, accounting for 41 percent of child deaths worldwide.

While the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is high compared with other wealthy countries, 99 percent of infant mortality occurs in low-income countries. Just five -- India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- account for more than half of the 3.3 million annual newborn deaths. India alone has more than 900,000 a year.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Concentration at an Early Age the Key to Success?

Laura Ciapponi/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A new study suggests babies trained to concentrate spend more time focusing on the task at hand, which could help them learn all kinds of new skills.

Researchers from the University of London in the U.K studied 42 11-month-old babies, half of whom were trained to concentrate by animated computer programs, while the other half watched regular TV. After 15 days, the babies were put to the test. Trained babies were better at focusing on a task, like interacting with a parent, and ignoring distractions, like puppets.

“Whenever there’s movement, our attention gets drawn to it,” said study author Sam Wass of the University of London’s Center for Brain and Cognitive Development. “The better you are at saying, ‘No, that movement isn’t interesting; I want stay focused on this,’ the better you’re going to do.”

Because their brains are still developing, babies have a remarkable ability to form new neural connections -- known as plasticity.

“The older you get, the less plastic your brain is,” Wass said. Think about a house: “If you start putting in alterations while the foundation’s being built, it’s easier than doing it after the house is finished.”

Mastering concentration can help children hone other skills, like reading, Wass said. But it’s unclear how long the effects of his 15-day computer-based training program will persist. Furthermore, most experts agree that tots’ TV and computer time should be kept to a minimum.

Wass said there are things parents can do daily to cultivate concentration in wee brains without serious screen time.

“There’s evidence that engaging in set tasks, like sitting and doing a puzzle with your child is a way of training to concentrate,” he said. “The infant can use the caregiver’s attention capacity as a sort of scaffold, training them to pay attention over longer periods of time.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


British Gov't: Get Kids Moving, Help Prevent Obesity

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Facing an obesity time bomb, Brits are being asked to get young kids out there and exercising.

With nearly a quarter of the population now obese and with that trend expected to increase, the advice from the government is to get young ones out early -- off the sofa and out of the stroller. Children under five are being advised to get into some form of physical activity for three hours, spread throughout the day.

The bottom line: obese kids are likely to become obese adults and British health campaigners say getting into the physical habit early makes sense on many levels.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drugging Moms to Slim Down Their Babies

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- How far will we go to prevent childhood obesity? U.K. researchers are bringing the battle against obesity to babies still in the womb.

In this novel approach, which will ultimately enlist 400 pregnant women in the U.K., obese pregnant women will be given the diabetes drug Metformin in hopes of reducing their infant's chance of developing heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes later in life.

The study, funded by the U.K. government, will be one of the most extensive tests to date of a concept known as fetal programming -- changing the environment of the womb to affect the health of the child.

Doctors already use "fetal programming" in less extreme ways by encouraging pregnant women to take prenatal supplements, make dietary changes, and avoid drug and alcohol use. This study promises to introduce a whole new level that might one day be commonplace: using medications that the mother otherwise wouldn't need in order to tweak the fetal environment.

Natural fetal programming "is a complex process that's evolved over millions of years to help a fetus adapt to the world it will...encounter after birth," says Dr. Alison Stuebe, an assistant professor of maternal fetal medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. "It is the way the mother 'tells' her baby what the world outside will be like."

Obese women tend to have higher blood sugar during pregnancy, and these high levels of blood sugar essentially "tell" the fetus that it needs to make a lot of insulin for itself. As a result, infants born to obese mothers tend to be heavier and produce more insulin. Research shows that these bigger babies grow up into children and adults who are at increased risk for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

By giving obese mothers-to-be the diabetes drug Metformin -- even though they do not have diabetes -- researchers will be lowering their glucose levels, hopefully mitigating the negative effects of maternal obesity.

It will take years to determine if this intervention pays off. In the short term, however, how big these infants are at birth will serve as a preliminary marker of how well the Metformin is adjusting fetal environment.

But the trial may not be as far a leap into the unknown as it seems, doctors point out:

"Metformin is not a new drug and has been given to pregnant women for years to control diabetes in pregnancy," says Dr. Alan Peaceman, chief of the division of maternal fetal medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

While diet and exercise would be the preferred intervention for obese mothers, "patients often find this difficult, especially during pregnancy. Thus, Metformin may provide an alternative option for these women with similar lifelong benefits to the fetus," adds Dr. Victoria Bae-Jump, assistant professor of gynecology oncology at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Doctors seem more concerned that this type of fetal programming intervention can only provide a partial answer to the problem of maternal obesity.

"Ultimately, it's unlikely that a single pill or nutrient is going to override all the effects of maternal obesity on infant development," says Stuebe. There are so many environmental factors in play -- poverty, abuse, stressful environments, she says, that "I'm skeptical of a magic pill to counteract all that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Full-Term Pregnancy: How Long is Too Long to Carry?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While infants born after 36 weeks are typically considered full term, a new study out of the National Institutes of Health shows that birth at 37 or 38 weeks is not as safe as birth at week 40.

Researchers reviewed data for over 46 million births in the U.S. between 1995 and 2006 and found that the risk death within the first year for infants born during week 37 or 38 is twice as high as the risk for those born at week 40.

Although the overall infant death rates have declined over the 11-year period, the authors of the study point out that “the term period should not be treated uniformly; infants born at early term are a higher risk group than those born at full term.”

Their findings were published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is Your Kid Too Big for a Stroller?

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Urban stroller rage has found its outlet:, a blog that pokes fun at candid photos of kids old enough to walk for themselves -- and in some cases do long division -- being chauffeured around by parents in long-outgrown strollers.

Simply titled, the blog "Walk" was conceived by Laura Miller, 27, two years ago as an inside joke among her friends, but thanks to recent publicity on Tumblr, the site and its creator have become the center of an at-times-vicious online parenting debate.

Is the overuse of strollers breeding a generation of lazy kids? Are parents today coddling their kids into obesity? And more practically, how old is too old for kids to be in a stroller?

"A lot of people have brought up issues of child laziness, parent laziness, which were things I had no intention of touching on when I made the blog," says Miller, of Jersey City, N.J. "To me [the blog] was more of a humorous thing, but I think that it's given some people an outlet to admit this pet peeve."

But her unintentional critique of modern stroller culture isn't far off mark, according to pediatricians. They say using strollers as a crutch well past toddlerhood only can do a disservice to growing children.

"It's one of those things where it has it's time, like sippy cups, pacifiers and baby bottles," says Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Parents forget to graduate their kids out of strollers because it becomes such a convenience factor, but they're creating a longer-term problem.

"The child will never develop strength and conditioning if they're not allowed to do the walking," Shu says. "Parents don't want to have the child walk because they'll whine about being tired, but doing all the walking for them is not helping the child."

Though the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't have official guidelines for when to stop using a stroller, Shu says that "kids should be transitioning out of a stroller at around three years old."

Beyond encouraging a child's development and mobility, Dr. Ari Brown, parenting expert and co-author of Baby 411, says using a stroller past the age of 4 or 5 is also discouraging kids from being active and independent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Marital Problems May Predict Sleep Disorders in Infants

Comstock/Thinkstock(EUGENE, Ore.) -- It turns out that problems in a marriage not only keep couples awake, but they can have the same effect in kids.  It's known that marital strife can have a negative impact on a child's emotional and social health.  Now, a study published in the journal Child Development says marriage problems can be a forerunner of sleep problems in children.

Researchers at the Oregon Social Learning Center looked at 357 families with a genetically-unrelated infant adopted at birth. That was to eliminate shared genes as an explanation for similarities between parent and child. 

Couples answered questions such as, "Have you or your partner seriously suggested the idea of divorce?"

Over a nine-month period, the authors found that an unstable marriage when the child was 9 months old predicted sleep problems in the infants when they reached 18 months of age.

The authors conclude that the effects of marital instability on a child's sleep problems emerge earlier in development than has been previously demonstrated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Study: Infants Who Cry a Lot Tend to Have Behavioral Problems in Childhood

John Foxx/Thinkstock(BASEL, Switzerland) -- Babies are supposed to cry.  After all, that's how they communicate.  Newborns cry to announce their arrival in the world.  They cry to let you know they are hungry, wet, tired or don't feel well.

But constant crying just might be a harbinger of problems later on.

Researchers in Switzerland reviewed 22 studies conducted over 20 years (1987-2006) on the link between problems with crying, sleeping and feeding during infancy and behavioral problems in childhood.

As expected, they found that young babies who cried a lot or had trouble sleeping or feeding were more likely to develop problems such as ADHD, anxiety, temper tantrums and depression in childhood.

Infants who had two or more of these issues ran an even higher risk of developing problems as children.

But just because a baby is a little fussy or colicky does not automatically mean he or she will develop behavioral issues.

Experts recommend that parents generally pay close attention to their infants and try a variety of ways to comfort them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio