Breastfeeding may not boost baby IQs after all

mom_holding_baby_girl_1600_wht_3455Previous research has suggested that breastfeeding can boost your baby’s IQ and also help develop it as the child grows older.

However research at Goldsmiths College, London, now proposes that “Comparatively small events like breastfeeding are very unlikely to be at the core of something as big and complex as children’s differences in IQ. Instead children’s IQ differences are better explained by long-term factors, for example, children’s family background and their schooling

These findings are based on a study of 11,000 British children (from the Twins Early Development Study) who were tested between the ages of two and sixteen so researchers could see how IQ grew. While there appeared to be a link between breastfeeding and girls’ IQ at two years of agent wasn’t statistically significant and wasn’t present for boys.

The study also found that girls’ IQ was slightly higher than boys at age seven the difference had disappeared by the age of sixteen.

Do not despair however there are other well-known benefits from breastfeeding (source: NHS choices).

  • Less chance of diarrhoea and vomiting and having to go to hospital as a result
  • Fewer chest and ear infections so fewer visits to hospital
  • Less chance of being constipated
  • Less likelihood of becoming obese
  • Less chance of developing eczema

Couples who fight more likely to have daughters

woman_leader_1600_wht_5401Previously it was thought that couples with daughters were more likely to get divorced either because men had a preference for sons or daughters empowered their mothers to leave a difficult relationship.

So  having daughters had a negative effect on relationships – but new research by economists at Duke University in North Carolina suggests that it’s the other way round. Because female embryos are more robust than male ones they are more likely to survive the stress of a bad relationship.

Usually there are 105 boys born to every 100 girls but during times of extreme stress or upheaval such as earthquakes or famines more girls are born.

US census data showed that fathers are less likely to be living with their children if they have daughters rather than sons. Mothers who reported high levels of marital conflict were more likely to go on and have baby girls.


Competitive & obsessed with social media – a mum’s life today?

talking_social_media_1600_wht_9159Well it is according to parenting web-site BabyCentre.

They surveyed around 2,000 mums and found three out of four millennial mums i.e. aged 18 to 32, spent 8 hours a day on their smart phone, tablet or computer.

Almost half of them admitted buying something after seeing someone in their social network following a particular brand and more than half admitted they were influenced by comments pasted on Facebook.

The managing director of BabyCentre said “Millennial mums said they found motherhood really tough with all the competitiveness and accepted that they’re bringing it upon themselves by their prolific sharing of photographs and baby moments online. There is competitiveness over first milestones from first words to when their children can count to ten. It also includes the brand of buggy and the size and design of footwear”

Some mums in the survey said they felt pressured to take their children to swimming classes or music lessons so as not to be considered a bad mum.

Seems everyone wants to be an Alpha Mum and yet they rely on Facebook and other social networks to make decisions.

The statistics quoted from this survey seems unbelievable yet when did you last see a young woman without a smartphone in her hand? Millennial mums spend about twice the time  on their mobile phones as Generation X (born in mid-60s to mid-80s) and half bought something on-line every week. A clear case of smartphone addiction or Nomophobia

If they spent less time on social media they would feel less pressured and have more time for their babies and real friends.


Hungry babies are programmed to wake you up

They might wake you up every couple of hours for a feed but all for a good reason.

stick_figure_sleeping_10955It seems babies are evolutionary programmed to do just that.

Researchers at Harvard University looking into breastfeeding and sleeping practices argue that by waking up their Mums for a feed they are delaying the return of her ovulation cycle (as well as reducing the time and energy to have sex).

This helps prevent the birth of a sibling with whom they would have to compete for food.

This can be a substantial benefit when food is scarce. In Somalia for example the mortality rate for 1 year-old children was increased fourfold if they had a younger sibling.

Professor David Haig, writing in the journal Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, says “there is no perfect harmony between mother and child. What is best for one is not necessarily best for the other”.

The research might explain why children can revert to waking up frequently in the night after 6 months and why babies fed formula milk tend to sleep more soundly (because there is a weaker incentive to demand food as formula is always available).

Lullabies really work

mom_holding_baby_girl_1600_wht_3455Singing your kids to sleep is not just something grannies used to do. Research at Great Ormond Street Hospital , on children ranging from a week old to 4 years of age, has shown that when you sing to your baby it lowers their heart rate and reduces their perception of pain.

Singing lullabies definitely calms babies.

So dig out that song book – the old ones are the best: Hush Little Baby, Hush a bye baby, Twinkle, twinkle little star etc

And in case you wondered it’s not just the adult attention that does the trick. Reading bed-time stories doesn’t calm children – but that’s not to say you shouldn’t do it as it’s a lovely shared experience.

Breastfeeding – a mother’s gift of love and care


“Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby and the earth.”

Pamela K. Wiggins

From The rants in my pants

Mother’s milk, time-tested for millions of years, is the best nutrient for babies. Numerous studies have demonstrated a number of important health benefits to breastfeeding. Among them:

  • Breast-fed children are more resistant to disease and infection early in life than formula-fed children
  • Breast-fed children are less likely to contract a number of diseases later in life, including juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and cancer before the age of 15
  • Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop osteoporosis later in life, are able to lose weight gained during pregnancy more easily and have a lower risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

Babies also benefit from the physical closeness of nursing. Gazing into their mothers’ eyes, babies come to understand that they are loved and protected and that their mothers are there to provide…

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Babies are smarter than you think

If you have young children you know how babies can twist you round their little finger. They condition you to know their every need before they can even speak!

Newly published research from Harvard shows that babies as young as 11 months can work out who’s who in the family pecking order (or the social hierarchy as researchers put it).

In this case the babies are using size as a clue to who is the boss.

Using a well-tried technique which measures how long a baby looks at something (the longer they look the more interested they are assumed to be and the same if it’s something unusual or surprising) they used a video showing different-sized blocks bumping in to each other as they tried to cross a path. Sometimes the small block bowed down to the big one and sometimes the big block gave way.

When the big block won the average time the babies watched the screen was 12 seconds. When the big block gave way to the small one, clearly a surprising event, the babies watched for an average of 20 seconds.

The researchers think that this shows that babies have an innate understanding of social relationships; the big blocks are like parents who don’t normally  get out of the way of small blocks like other children.

Perhaps even more surprising is research that shows babies as young as 6 months  can make moral judgements and tell good from bad. Some one-year olds asked to take sweets away from a “naughty” puppet were also observed smacking the puppet on the head.

Researchers at Yale University found that one-year olds were clearly able to indicate which cuddly toys they liked the best by pressing buttons and levers. Typically they stare for longer at things that please them.

Then they showed groups of 6-12 month-olds a video showing a round shaped red object with eyes climbing up a hill. At different times a yellow square object helps to push it up the hill or a green triangular object pushes it back down again. The babies watched it several times until their concentration waned.

They were then asked to choose between the bad triangle and the good square. 80% of them chose the good guy.

In a similar experiment involving a toy dog trying to get into a box and a helpful and a hindering teddy bear, the babies again chose the helpful teddy bear.

Professor Paul Bloom believes this shows that Freud and Joyce were wrong and that babies are not a blank slate but are born with a sense of good and evil.

Other researchers are not so sure and one from Durham University suggested that the child might just prefer to see objects go up rather than down or that the bear stopping the dog getting into the box might be protecting it from getting hurt as a mother would do.

I wondered if the children might be attracted to shapes and colours so I would want to see the experiment with every combination of shape and colour (27 combinations) to see if that made any difference.

What is certain is that we now know that babies from 6 months onward are learning faster than experts believed they could.