Study: Napping After Two Years Old Linked To Bad Sleep

Study: Napping After Two Years Old Linked To Bad Sleep

The Studies

Science Daily has an article about a study with a notable conclusion: if your toddler, when he is two years old, is still napping during the day — that’s probably because he’s sleeping badly. As the article summarizes,

They found consistent, if not particularly high quality, evidence indicating that napping beyond the age of 2 lengthens the amount of time it takes for a child to fall asleep (sleep onset) and shortens the overall amount of night-time sleep s/he has.

The academics emphasized in the paper,

The impact of night sleep on children’s development and health is increasingly documented, but to date there is not sufficient evidence to indicate the value of prolonging napping, whether at home or in childcare contexts, once sleep has consolidated into night,” write the researchers.

Conclusion: sleep is important for a child’s — and an adult’s — health. And we’re only now learning how important it is. We must watch out to make sure that, once our children are two years old, they’re sleeping soundly at night. If only I, at 39, could sleep so soundly, too!

Of course, this leaves open the bigger question: if your child isn’t sleeping well, what should you do? We tend to focus on this problem when the baby is under 1 year old, but less so between 1 and 2. The best known solutions are what we always recommend and you’ve probably heard hundreds of times: repeated sleep rituals at consistent times, and so forth — and don’t forget our favorite scientific recommendation to help the baby go to sleep: no sugar near bedtime. (It hyper-stimulates children and is one of the most common causes of kids not being able to fall asleep at the appropriate time.)

AMA Recommends: Keep Kids Under 2 Away From Electronic Media

AMA Recommends: Keep Kids Under 2 Away From Electronic Media

Blog

Six major American medical associations — the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatricians, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association — all recommend the same action item to parents: no electronic media at all for children who are under years old, and for children who are above two, to limit it very strictly. See this book excerpt for more details.

Although we have not seen the studies on which the recommendations are based, it is noteworthy that the recommendation is so strong, and so consistent.

The quoted book also notes that the average American child spends three hours per day using electronic media.

Personally, this is one rule that I’m following very strictly with my baby. Although he seems to be the only baby in his playgroup who doesn’t know how to use an iPad!

Study: Early Exposure To Peanuts Usually Prevents Peanuts Allergies

Study: Early Exposure To Peanuts Usually Prevents Peanuts Allergies

The Studies

Coincidentally, last week, I was having a drink with a bunch of Israelis who made the argument to me that peanut allergies were an American thing: babies in Israel just don’t have any. This was surprising to me, since there is substantial genetic overlap between the Israeli population and the American population (at least, my circles–which include many peanut-allergic people). How do we explain the difference?

Well, some academics have just released a study showing the likely explanation.

In short: Israeli kids eat peanuts since they are very young, while kids from a similar ethnic background in London don’t. The result? The israelis grow up without peanut allergies, while the Brits do.

So, it seems like the best strategy isn’t to keep your kids away from peanuts–but the opposite: to give them some, so they build up a tolerance!

According to the Times of Israel:

Exposing infants like these to peanuts before age 1 actually helped prevent a peanut allergy, lowering that risk by as much as 81 percent, doctors found. Instead of provoking an allergy, early exposure seemed to help build tolerance.

In conclusion: give your kids peanuts early on and regularly, to help build up a tolerance. And perhaps this applies to other foods, as well? I’m giving my baby spicy foods, just so he accustomed. But I haven’t seen any scientific studies on that.

Incoming search terms:

  • peanuts
Study: Skin-to-Skin Touching of Baby-and-Mom Improves Baby’s Nervous System and Brain Functioning

Study: Skin-to-Skin Touching of Baby-and-Mom Improves Baby’s Nervous System and Brain Functioning

The Studies

Dr Ruth Feldman, from Bar-Ilan University and Yale’s Ruth Feldman has published research with an important lesson for parents: the mother’s and baby’s skin touching has lifelong neurological and psychological benefits (and other benefits for the brain) for babies, especially for babies born prematurely.

Specifically:

“What we found was that the children in the kangaroo-care group had better cognitive skills, sleep patterns and a higher functioning autonomic nervous system, better able to cope with stress,” Feldman told ISRAEL21c. “And their mothers were more sensitive parents.”

The adult providing the skin-to-skin contact does not have to be the baby’s mother – or so it would seem.

“There is a physiological response from skin to skin that is absent with fabric,” she says. “And it is the only way to guarantee thermoregulation — keeping a baby warm outside of the incubator.”

Nor does this contact require more than one hour daily. Feldman says there is no evidence to suggest that more time makes a neurological difference down the road. However, she believes the effects on the infant are linked to those experienced by the mother. Rather than forfeit breastfeeding, for example, the kangaroo mothers tend to want to pump their milk until the baby is strong enough to suckle.

Although the study focused on babies born prematurely, it seems to be more applicable widely. There’s a clear to-do action item here: hug your baby, without wearing a shirt (neither you nor the baby!), more often. The science now shows: hugging is a good for your mind. And, although the science has yet shown it, we predict it will is also good for your soul.

Study: Praise Effort, Not Results

Study: Praise Effort, Not Results

The Studies

The BBC features a noteworthy study by the psychologist Carol Dwek. In a sentence: kids praised for effort outperform those praised for results. The details:

So, how do we orient our children to the growth mindset? A few years ago, Carol Dweck, a leading psychologist, took 400 students and gave them a simple puzzle.

Afterwards, each of the students were given six words of praise. Half were praised for intelligence: “Wow, you must be really smart!” The other half were praised for effort: “Wow, you must be hard working!”

Dweck was seeking to test whether these simple words, with their subtly different emphases, could make a difference to the student’s mindsets. The results were remarkable.

After the first test, the students were given a choice of whether to take a hard or an easy test.

A full two-thirds of the students praised for intelligence chose the easy task – they did not want to risk losing their “smart” label. But 90% of the effort-praised group chose the tough test – they wanted to prove just how hard working they were.

Then, the experiment came full circle, giving the students a chance to take a test of equal difficulty to the first test.

The group praised for intelligence showed a 20% decline in performance compared with the first test, even though it was no harder. But the effort-praised group increased their score by 30%. Failure had actually spurred them on.

This is consistent with some fairly common parenting advice (although less common among ‘Tiger moms!’). But we’re happy to see some confirmation of this style.

This is also the sort of parenting advice that is easy to forget, so the reminder that it makes sense to praise effort is definitely needed for some. Hypothetically speaking, not necessarily me, not at all, no no no. Hehe :)

Study: Lack of Vitamin D in Childhood Leads To Long-Term Heart Risk

Study: Lack of Vitamin D in Childhood Leads To Long-Term Heart Risk

The Studies

A long-term study, since 1980, of over 2,000 children in Finland has found an interesting correlation: a Vitamin D deficiency when you are a baby might be related to hardened arteries (and the heart diseases that comes with it) when you’re an adult. As the NY Times says,

A vitamin D level of between 30 to 50 is generally considered adequate. Children in the lowest one-quarter for vitamin D levels, about 15 nanograms per milliliter, were nearly twice as likely to have thickening of the carotid artery as those in the other three quarters. The association persisted after adjusting for age, sex and other cardiovascular risk factors.

This is another example of an important pattern: that childhood diet can have profound effects on you… as an adult.

Study: Babies that are more Autonomous have stronger cognitive skills

Study: Babies that are more Autonomous have stronger cognitive skills

The Studies

A new study, out of the University of Montreal, has a conclusion that may not be surprising to some, but is important to remember–and that is great that science confirms: parents consistently supporting their babies’ “sense of autonomy” is strongly correlated with the child developing stronger cognitive skills.

Higher cognitive skills are found in the children of mothers who are consistently able to support the development of their baby’s sense of autonomy, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Montreal. The researchers specifically looked at executive functioning, which refers to a range of cognitive processes that are essential for cognitive, social and psychological functioning.

“We have shown that the child’s executive functioning is linked to the mother’s ability to support his or her autonomy. Autonomy support includes things such as teaching children problem solving skills and involves taking the child’s perspective while ensuring he or she takes an active role in completing tasks,” said Célia Matte-Gagné, who led the study. “Importantly, the study shows that it’s not just about getting off to a good start. While many studies have confirmed that a mother’s support are critical, few have looked at how these skills might change over time and what effect that might have.”

It’s often hard for parents to let their children act autonomously. (In my case, it’s hard for my wife to — perhaps this is a pattern among mothers? I don’t have enough data to know!). But, for children to develop the ability to think on their own, they need to make decisions on their own…. and suffer the consequences.

Of course, this is “easier said than done”! So we must strike the right balance. Perhaps a way of looking at the study is: too much guidance leads to helicopter parenting (and the risks that entails), and too little leads to too little cognitive development. Each parent needs to find the balance right for their children.

Study: Babies Use Others’ Anger To Regulate Own Emotions

Study: Babies Use Others’ Anger To Regulate Own Emotions

The Studies

Interesting study from the U. of Washington: Babies (even at 15 months old) can not only sense anger from others — but that then influences the amount of self-control they develop. Specifically:

Now researchers at the University of Washington have found that children as young as 15 months can detect anger when watching other people’s social interactions and then use that emotional information to guide their own behavior.

The study, published in the October/November issue of the journal Cognitive Development, is the first evidence that younger toddlers are capable of using multiple cues from emotions and vision to understand the motivations of the people around them.

“At 15 months of age, children are trying to understand their social world and how people will react,” said lead author Betty Repacholi, a faculty researcher at UW’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences and an associate professor of psychology. “In this study we found that toddlers who aren’t yet speaking can use visual and social cues to understand other people – that’s sophisticated cognitive skills for 15-month-olds.”

The findings also linked the toddlers’ impulsive tendencies with their tendency to ignore other people’s anger, suggesting an early indicator for children who may become less willing to abide by rules.

“Self-control ranks as one of the single most important skills that children acquire in the first three years of life,” said co-author Andrew Meltzoff, co-director of the institute. “We measured the origins of self-control and found that most of the toddlers were able to regulate their behavior. But we also discovered huge individual variability, which we think will predict differences in children as they grow up and may even predict important aspects of school readiness.”

The take-away? Self-control is strongly correlated with success. And if babies show a likelihood of having less self-control — such as, in ignoring the anger of others — then it becomes doubly important to teach them self-control.

Study: Original Study Linking Autism to Vaccinations Has Been Retracted

Study: Original Study Linking Autism to Vaccinations Has Been Retracted

The Studies

Today’s study isn’t from 2015, but from 2010 — but it needs some repeating these days. An article in the NY Times a few days ago says it well:

This doctor, Andrew Wakefield, wrote that his study of 12 children showed that the three vaccines taken together could alter immune systems, causing intestinal woes that then reach, and damage, the brain. In fairly short order, his findings were widely rejected as — not to put too fine a point on it — bunk. Dozens of epidemiological studies found no merit to his work, which was based on a tiny sample. The British Medical Journal went so far as to call his research “fraudulent.” The British journal Lancet, which originally published Dr. Wakefield’s paper, retracted it. The British medical authorities stripped him of his license.

These days, there’s a lot of anti-vaccination hoopla. And the science can change and science does change, by definition (if we never improved our learnings, we’d be “believing,” not “thinking”). But the studies that connected vaccinations to autism? Withdrawn. There’s no science there, folks.

Study: Smartphones in Bedrooms Worse For Kids Than TV in Bedroom

Study: Smartphones in Bedrooms Worse For Kids Than TV in Bedroom

The Studies

Yahoo Parenting points us to an interesting study that argues that:

Children having smartphones in their bedroom leads to:

  • Less sleep
  • More fatigue
  • Later bedtimes

Than having a television instead.

In particular:

Researchers at UC Berkeley found that kids who slept in the same room as a cellphone, smartphone or iPod touch — what they call “small screens” — got almost 21 minutes fewer sleep than those who didn’t. They also went to bed, on average, 37 minutes later than those without phones in their rooms. (Those who slept in the same room as a TV, meanwhile, got only 18 minutes fewer sleep; the TVs were also associated with a 31-minute delay in bedtime.)

In the study of more than 2,000 fourth and seventh graders, published Monday, 54 percent said they slept near a smartphone.

Studies have consistently shown that the role of sleep on health and development — for both children and adults — is critical, and often under-rated. Perhaps the choice isn’t between “iphone or TV?” but instead between “sleep or Facebook?”. (Or Snapchat, or whatever app the kids are using today!)