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Talking With Our Kids After Acts of Violence and Anti-Semitism

The violence that the Tree of Life Synagogue experienced and the hatred that was behind it has been terrifying. It is heartbreaking and for many angering. We need healing–and so do our kids.

Many of us wonder how do we speak to our children about acts of terror when we cannot fully comprehend them ourselves. We are thrown by such unexpected and horrific violence. It makes sense that talking to our kids feels daunting. Truthfully, it is.

Yet, talking to our kids is essential. While we may wish to avoid talking about violence and anti-Semitism; sadly our children hear and learn about the through other sources. Terror, violence, bigotry are part of the world we live in and on the news frequently. By engaging our children we are ensuring that they do not have encounter these scary issues alone. We may wish to shield our children, but it is as important to prepare them and comfort them.

It is difficult to watch our children in pain or fear. While parents can’t make their children’s pain disappear, you can help to instill in children the ability to cope with loss and cultivate a sense of resilience. There are ways parents can engage their children in conversation, storytelling, prayer and ritual, which can be useful tools in supporting them. Ultimately, parents play an important role in offering safety and helping them make meaning and interpreting such a significant event.

Here are some suggestions to prepare you and support you in the challenge of responding to the tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue with meaningful and comforting conversations with your children:

Check in with yourself

All of us are affected by this horrifying act. Before talking with your child make sure you are in a place to do so to offer yourself as a listener. If you need to talk with someone to process your emotions, please do so. It is ok to be emotional in the presence of your children, but make sure to the best of your ability that you are centered enough to be there for your child.

Be Present, Not Perfect

Perfection is not the goal, being present is. There are no perfect words. While it may seem like kids want answers, they also need to feel like they are being listened to. See what they already know. Children are perceptive. They may have heard directly about the tragedy from the news or from other children. But even if they have not, children are quite perceptive. They can sense when their parents are keenly attuned to watching television, checking their phone, having hushed conversations. This can create confusion and lead them to create some of their own conclusions. Be present to them can alleviate that.

Think about some prompts that can get them started. You can check in with them very generally about how they are feeling or about their day. Or you may want to ask them a questions like “You may have heard that something very sad happened, what have you heard?”

Establish that you are a person your children can speak to about their fears, their confusions, their feelings. Knowing that someone will listen creates comfort, but also do not force conversation. If they need take the conversation in small pieces.

Focus on Understanding

Prioritize your child’s feelings even if it feels self-focused. Depending on the age, children are often most concerned about the direct impact on them. While we want to support them to be caring and concerned members of the community, start where they are. Address their feelings, on their level. Knowing that they are safe is important and allows them to move on to concern for others and understanding more of what happened. Your willingness to listen to them models very important behavior for the long term.

Helping children develop a palette of feelings is important. Explore with them what they are feeling and how they feel it.

Start with Simplicity

Our children do not need to know everything right away. Limit how much exposure they have to news. Be discerning about what information they need. Give them as much information as they need and are able to process, both about this particular act of violence and also about the violent nature of anti-Semitism. Violence has lasting effects on children so be judicious; neither shelter them nor deluge them.

As a young child, I was exposed to too much violent information and images of the Holocaust and it was unhealthy and unproductive. We have much better ways of introducing our children to these topics. Start with the underlying values of dignity, respect, loving kindness. Share with them the reassuring responses of courage, concern and unity.

For very young children, use the most basic language and concepts. Follow their lead; no need to complicate things for them.

Assure and Equip Them

Violence and terror are so rattling because they are beyond our control. Hate crimes pack a double whammy because not only does it undermine our control, but we feel targeted for who we are.

Worried child in front of graffitiWith our children we need to both support them in acting on areas where they do have control of their own safety and feeling connected to who they are. Parenting experts recommend looking at the ways where young children can help protect themselves and pointing that out. In an article in Parents Magazine, “How to Talk to Kids About Terrorism” by Ellen Sturm Niz, there is great advice by Denise Daniels. “Daniels recommends talking to little kids about strategies they use for keeping themselves safe, like wearing a seatbelt in the car, wearing a helmet when riding a bike, and practicing fire drills. “Simple little things like that all help kids think, ‘Well, gosh, there are things I can do to keep myself safe.'”

Focusing on ways that children actually do have control in many areas of keeping themselves safe and understanding how you keep them safe is important.

Older kids can be encouraged to take their concern into action. Whether it is by raising money for the communities affected or educating others about bias and bigotry knowing they can take their worry and turn into impact is an important lesson. (It also applies to us; it is why I am writing this.)

Revisit the conversation

You can discuss this more than once. Information keeps coming in to our children from friends, snippets of conversations at school. Particularly, around issues like anti-Semitism, keeping the channels open, is important to support our kids in forming a positive identity and pride in who they are. They may also experience heightened awareness of who they are as a Jew and the vulnerability it causes. Your presence is invaluable in assuring their ability to claim their Jewishness as a vital part of who they are.

You can find children’s book for all ages on the ADL Website to help further the conversation on anti-Semitism. Similarly you can find resources to keep the discussion going at the PJ Library Website, too. And when the bombing in Paris occurred, I found this article in The Guardian had very useful book recommendations for children on terror, also note the suggestions they crowdsourced at the end.

Resilience is Spiritual, Not Just Practical

While my Jewish education about anti-Semitism and violence was heavy handed, it was balanced out by the importance of ritual and prayer. Understanding that your children have a spiritual is important.

For parents, it can feel incredibly challenging to understand the best ways to respond to the spiritual issues and questions that arise from kids. While there is a strong connection between the psychological aspects of fear and grief and the spiritual ones, many people feel particularly inadequate in providing what children need spiritually to navigate loss of this magnitude. Many children have an inherent way of seeing the world through a spiritual lens–with a sense of wonder, awe and a desire to seek.

How do you answer where is God in all of this?  Again, it is fine and expected not to always have definitive answers, but to recognize that this is an opportunity to ask them them what they think. By all means, share with them your beliefs.

For me, this is an opportunity to talk about God being present when we create openings for God’s presence. God is in the healing and the comfort; in the grieving and in tears. We all have choices how much we want to connect to godliness and the more open we are, the more connected we are.

Rituals and prayers are containers for the unspeakable and important channels for our feelings. Saying kaddish, lighting candles, doing tzedakah can be important ways to move beyond just words of explanation. Also rituals of safekeeping, like the bedtime Shema or chanting prayers like “Hareni m’kabel alai…”, I take upon myself the mitzvah of loving my fellow human being as myself” upon waking create a consistency and sense of comfort and purpose.

Taking a child to a vigil or attending services are important ways for them to feel like they belong.

And this approach, I believe is a double healing in that it both offers meaningful solace and connects them deeply to being Jewish and a part of the Jewish community.

There is no life without loss: In conclusion, it compounds our heartbreak to see our children scared and in pain. While parents can’t make our children’s pain disappear after such violence, they can help to instill in children the ability to cope with loss and cultivate a sense of resilience. Helping children navigate terror and bias is extremely important because they are beginning to assimilate new information, which is confusing and fraught. The role of parents is to be companions with their kids on this challenging aspect of life, not to pretend it didn’t happen. This is the learning of a lifetime and we grow as we prepare and love our children through these unspeakable events.

May we find comfort and strength together.

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Editor’s Note:  Although Pediatric Safety is a secular publication, we felt these words of support and healing from Rabbi Joshua touched all of us.  We were glad we could share them with you

Are You or a Family Member Ditching Dairy? CAUTION!

I once attended a Dairy Forum in Alexandria, Virginia that was all about lactose intolerance. It amazed me to learn how many people avoid dairy products because they think they are lactose intolerant! Before ditching the dairy, consider my caution for you and/or your family, as it can have major nutritional consequences.

When people think of milk and other dairy foods, they think of calcium. But the truth is that milk contains 9 essential nutrients that our bodies need in order to function normally. Of those nine essential nutrients, milk meets at least 20% of your daily value for not only calcium, but vitamin D, riboflavin and phosphorus. That is why the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans strongly recommends including servings of fat free or low-fat dairy each day in order to meet your minimum nutrition needs*. Did you know that dairy foods are most Americans primary food source of vitamin D? Much in thanks to the great work by Dr. Michael Holick, we have been learning more and more about the epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency that is having serious health consequences.

The lack of nutrient information regarding dairy really hit home with me the other day. An amazing, well-respected doctor I work closely with in my practice shared with me that when a patient comes to him with lactose intolerance, he simply tells them to avoid milk and start a calcium supplement. I had to remind him that dairy not only provides so many more nutrients than just calcium, as mentioned above, it also contains naturally occurring ACE inhibitors similar to the same components given in prescriptive form that help regulate blood pressure. That is why the government-backed blood pressure diet, called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), has encouraged 3 servings of dairy, because it has all 3 of the nutrients of the DASH diet that help regulate blood pressure – calcium, potassium and magnesium. Milk also contains melatonin that helps decrease stress and promotes sleep. (Ever drink a warm glass of milk before bedtime? There’s a reason behind that!) And as if that was not enough, over the last several years there has been a slew of research coming out on the impact of dairy foods in weight management. Hmm…a link between a decrease in dairy foods and obesity? Many say, yes.

Use caution when avoiding entire food groups,
including dairy. You may be setting yourself up
for nutrition deficiencies that may manifest
in health problems.

Growing up, our favorite mealtime beverage was milk. I grew up in a combined family of 6 children (think Brady Bunch, and I was “Cindy” — the youngest) and my mother reports that we went through 5-7 gallons of milk every week! I drank milk with every meal and so did all my siblings. But I remember very well that when I was around 17 or 18 years of age, milk and I started having problems. Within 2-3 hours of drinking milk, I would have bad stomach pain, bloating and eventually gas that was very characteristic of lactose intolerance. Oh, the shame as a teenage female! The very easy thing to do was just eliminate dairy to avoid the very embarrassing consequences. But as I fell in love with nutrition in the 90’s, I learned that this move was costing me dearly and as a result, negatively impacted my nutrition status. Now, I am enjoying dairy again and that has helped me be a positive role model for my young children.

So, the question for you is – have you or a loved one ditched dairy for the same reason I did as a teenager? If so:

1. Get Diagnosed. Don’t self-diagnose like I did because it could be something other than lactose intolerance. All that rumbles is not lactose intolerance! A proper diagnosis is done via a hydrogen breath test and it is covered under most insurance plans. Keep in mind that lactose intolerance is very different than a milk allergy. Lactose intolerance involves the lack of an enzyme that helps digest the milk carbohydrate, lactose. Milk allergy, or milk-protein intolerance, is mostly found in young children, and involves an immune reaction to the milk protein. If you or your child has a milk allergy, it is highly recommended that you see a Registered Dietitian for nutrition guidance. In this case, complete elimination of dairy components is necessary due to possible dangerous allergic reactions. The good news is that most children outgrow milk allergy by the time they are 3 years of age. It is rare that a person continues the allergy into adulthood. If they do, there are actually immunologists that can do milk challenges that will decrease or even eliminate the milk allergy altogether.

2. Work it in. Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of milk at a time and most can eat yogurt and cheese without the negative side effects. At your local grocery store, there are lactose-free milk products of varying brands – Lactaid®, Dairy Ease® and even store brands now. Lactaid® even has an organic version of lactose-free milk for those that prefer organic varieties. There are even over the counter oral lactase enzyme pills that a person can take prior to the ingestion of dairy. The National Dairy Council has great educational resources to help you find ways to get dairy in even when you have lactose intolerance.

3. Seek a Registered Dietitian (RD). Anytime you are thinking of eliminating an entire food group, it is highly recommended that you meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in your area to develop a plan for you. You may not realize what key nutrients you are eliminating from your diet that may be compromising your health. As an RD myself, I am very sensitive to the food desires of my patients. If eliminating dairy or other foods are simply a personal preference, we will honor that and can ultimately work within your desires to put together an alternate nutrition plan that will meet all your needs.

Get the facts when it comes to nutrition. Even if it’s written, it doesn’t always make it factual. And we all come with our own nutrition biases, so ask questions about those biases that may have been handed down from generation to generation. Are they really true? As in lactose intolerance for instance, many African American families avoid milk altogether because they already assume it will be a problem. Lactose intolerance in African Americans is grossly overstated, and teaching your children to avoid dairy can have lasting consequences for for them and you. Proper diagnosis and learning ways to get dairy foods in can be the best move for your family. What is your nutrition bias? Dairy or otherwise, ask the questions and get accurate answers. You owe it to yourself and you also owe it to your family.

Editor’s Note:  all links have been updated to reflect the most current information available. 

  • According to the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended amounts of dairy in the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern are based on age rather than calorie level and are:
    • 2 cup-equivalents per day for children ages 2 to 3 years,
    • 2½ cup-equivalents per day for children ages 4 to 8 years, and
    • 3 cup-equivalents per day for adolescents ages 9 to 18 years and for adults.

Child Health & Safety News 10/29: US Childcare Nearing $10k/Yr

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Google Is Teaching Children How to Act Online. Is It the Best Role Model? nyti.ms/2ApYp00

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 20 events & stories.

  • Establish Rules That Will Help Your Child Become a Responsible Adult bit.ly/2SkgfIJ 2018-10-28
  • Parents learning SIDS prevention for free thanks to Central Texas EMS agencies bit.ly/2CKiOOH 2018-10-28
  • Air pollution is the ‘new tobacco’, warns WHO head. And children and babies developing bodies are at greatest risk. http://bit.ly/2Pp3iyv 2018-10-27
  • Halloween costume tips to keep kids safe from the American Academy of Pediatrics bit.ly/2qfHaIA 2018-10-27
  • Study sheds light on sextortion, fastest-growing form of teen cyberbullying – The Daily Cardinal bit.ly/2Q1FD4u 2018-10-27
  • First study of its kind identifies differences in pediatric mortality after motor vehicle collisions bit.ly/2D4oLaj The goal: to determine if changes to medical services can impact outcomes 2018-10-26
  • Adenovirus Outbreak Leaves 6 Children Dead at N.J. Pediatric Center nyti.ms/2D0Umd7 2018-10-26

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
Child-care costs in America are getting close to $10,000 per year https://on.mktw.net/2zdAhvF 

  • Check out our latest issue of our Kids Who Care newsletter, “Compassion Through Creativity” getrevue.co/profile/pediat… (via @revue) 2018-10-26
  • Why Your Kid’s Daydreaming is Not All Bad bit.ly/2z2wsJs 2018-10-25
  • Kids don’t need a cellphone; they need a digital diet! A media diet is just like a regular diet. If you’re not consistent in the first few weeks and months, you will fail bit.ly/2D20AJC  2018-10-25
  • How to Talk to Your Kids About…Difficult Subjects – Thurs Time Capsule 10/12 bit.ly/2Aq4MjV  2018-10-25
  • 4 Things Your Toddler Should be Learning at Daycare bit.ly/2z3CMjV 2018-10-24
  • It’s Not Always Postpartum: The Truth About Prenatal Depression bit.ly/2D2UpoH  2018-10-24
  • Halloween oral health tips bit.ly/2R4Y5sM 2018-10-24
  • Goosebumps 2: is Sensory Friendly Twice at AMC (10/13 & 10/27) zpr.io/6FWst 2018-10-24
  • Pediatric research: Scientists developing probiotic biofilms to help smallest preemies bit.ly/2R7v27Z 2018-10-23
  • Don’t ignore incest: advice from an incest survivor bit.ly/2yTMxkH 2018-10-23
  • Study says working on your ‘dad bod’ before fatherhood can help your future kids’ health bit.ly/2S3Sk01 2018-10-23
  • The Techniques of a Predator Part 1: Trust and Romance bit.ly/2NQigch 2018-10-22

Stop, Look & Paws: Teaching Kids How to Be Safe Around Dogs

We’ve all seen or heard about horrific instances of dog bites to children.  I think most of us believe it will never happen to us.  Until I became a dog trainer and was doing research on children and dogs, I didn’t realize the alarming statistics of dog bites to children.

According to the Humane Society of the United States:

  • Annually there are 4.7 million dogs bites in the U.S., with over half to children
  • 77% of the bites are from dogs that are familiar to the child
  • Children ages 5-9 have the highest rate of dog bites

In my role as a dog trainer, I work with families that have children and dogs.  When I meet with families, I often discover they are unaware of the potential risks when interacting with dogs, and, what dogs are trying to communicate. Specifically, almost without exception, the children really had no idea how to read their dog’s body language or the situations in which the dogs were engaged.  Depending on the child’s interpretation of the dog’s actions, they could easily put themselves in harm’s way. For example, let’s say a child sees a dog, and assumes that the dog looks “lonely”.  Many times people confuse cautiousness/fear with loneliness.  If the child tries to approach and pet the dog to comfort her, the dog may react with a nip to communicate “stay away.”  This is especially true when a dog is hiding under an object or piece of furniture.

To fill this critical gap, I searched for tools and activities that would help teach children about dog body language and safety.  As a former elementary school teacher, I knew the best way to help children learn is to use an interactive activity that is fun and simple to use. Unfortunately, after months of looking, I couldn’t find anything that had these elements for learning.  So, I decided to create my own learning activity called Stop, Look & Paws.

Stop, Look & Paws is a dog safety activity that children play by sorting stickers. Children look at images of dog stickers which either show a common situation (e.g., eating from a dog bowl), or exhibiting specific body language (e.g., tail tucked down between legs). The goal is to ask children to sort the stickers onto an activity board into either the “safe to pet” or “not safe to pet” categories.   Children love the hands on part and stickers.  A “Dog Sticker Guide” is included to assist parents with background knowledge on each dog sticker. There is productive dialogue between the child and adult while playing the activity.  This allows for understanding why the child chose the category they did, and how to correct their decision if needed.  Given the stickers are reusable, they can change their mind, and play the game more than once to benefit from repetitive learning.

Since 2017, when Stop, Look & Paws was introduced to the public, hundreds of parents have used this with overwhelmingly positive feedback.  In addition, veterinarians and educators have been extremely supportive of Stop, Look & Paws™ to effectively teach dog safety to children between the ages of 4 – 10.  While each comment I receive is slightly different, the message is the same: If kids can have fun while learning the all-important lessons about dog behavior and safety, there is a better chance of preventing future dog bites.

My hope is that families use Stop, Look & Paws to educate their children before a dog bite occurs.  Help your child understand that every dog is unique, and that it’s best to be thoughtful when interacting with them. I believe it’s very important to begin reducing the 4.7 million dog bites that happen each year.

HEALTHFUL HINTS:

Educate yourself about dog body language and how dogs communicate so you can share this information with your child.

Here are the Top 6 Dog Safety Tips that every child should know:

  1. Ask permission of the owner before petting a dog, and pet calmly. Model this for your child.
  2. Try the 3 second rule. If you pet a dog, stop after 3 seconds and pull your hand away. If the dog then moves closer to you, you can continue to pet!
  3. Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog.
  4. No hugging. Hugging is a sign of love in the human world, but not in the dog world.
  5. Don’t pursue a dog that is trying to move away.
  6. If a dog is pursuing your child, have your child stand still, tuck their arms and hands and look away until the dog moves away. Then they can walk away slowly.

Finally – Safe Transport for Kids in Ambulances…Thanks NHTSA!

Last updated on April 26th, 2018 at 03:48 pm

In 2008 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) convened a working group of representatives from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Emergency Medical Services for Children, the American Ambulance Association, and other key organizations and started a project called “Solutions to Safely Transport Children in Emergency Vehicles”. Finally a long-standing problem was being recognized and addressed: “there are no Federal standards or standard protocols among EMS and child safety professionals in the U.S. for how best to transport children safely in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or a medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. The absence of consistent national standards and protocols … complicates the work of EMS professionals and may result in the improper and unsafe restraint of highly vulnerable child passengers.”(1)

In fact a 1998 study regarding the use of child restraints in ambulances revealed that 35 States did not require patients of ANY AGE to be restrained in a ground ambulance. Of those States that did require some sort of child restraint system, requirements for an “acceptable restraint” varied significantly.(2)

It is illegal in the US to travel with an unrestrained child in an automobile. However, when a child is already sick or injured, we have been willing to transport them in a vehicle where the passenger compartment is exempt from most safety requirements, they cannot be properly restrained and they have a higher probability of an accident than an automobile. We might not if we knew the following:

  • It is estimated that up to 1,000 ambulance crashes involve pediatric patients each year. It is also estimated that there are approximately 4 child fatalities per year.(3)
  • In a collision at 35mph, an unrestrained 15kg child is exposed to the same forces as in falling from a 4th story window.(4)

This past Wednesday, after an intense 2 year research effort, a public meeting in August 2010 to review the findings and gather input (see Pediatric Safety Post by Sandy Schnee “A Public Meeting on Safe Transport for Kids on Ambulances“), and 2 additional years refining the results, NHTSA has released the official:

BEST PRACTICE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE SAFE TRANSPORT OF CHILDREN IN EMERGENCY GROUND AMBULANCES”          Thank you NHTSA!!

 The working group outlined 5 potential child transport “Situations” (see chart below) and for each described their “Ideal” solution – the best practice recommendation for safe a safe transport for each situation. They also presented an “If the Ideal is not Practical or Achievable” alternative – basically an “acceptable” backup plan.

They also came up with guidelines to assist EMS providers in selecting a child restraint system – particularly important because due to the lack of regulation and testing requirements specific to ground ambulances, many of the available child restraint devices were not designed for use in ambulances, some were tested to automotive standards and others were not tested at all.

In the end, the ultimate goal of ALL the recommendations: Prevent forward motion/ejection, secure the torso, and protect the head, neck, and spine of all children transported in emergency ground ambulances.

In short – transport these children safely.

We know that since the adoption of “mandatory use laws” in the U.S. for child safety restraints in automobiles, that thousands of children’s lives have been saved. Yet for years we have continued to allow children to be transported unrestrained on ambulances. With this report, we have finally taken a step in the right direction…

It is hoped that the recommendations provided in this report will address the lack of consistent standards or protocols among EMS and child passenger safety professionals in the United States regarding how to most safely transport children in ground ambulances from the scene of a traffic crash or medical emergency to a hospital or other facility. It should be noted that the expectation is that States, localities, associations, and EMS providers will implement these recommendations to improve the safe transportation of children in emergency ground ambulances when responding to calls encountered in the course of day-to-day operations of EMS providers. In addition, it is hoped that EMS providers will be better prepared to safely transport children in emergency ground ambulances when faced with disaster and mass casualty situations”.

…. Amen to that !!

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References:

1. Notice published by NHTSA of Public Meeting on August 5th, 2010 to discuss draft version Recommendations for Safe Transport of Children on Ground Ambulance Vehicles: Federal Register, July 19, 2010,

 2 & 3. Working Group Best-Practice Recommendations for the Safe Transportation of Children in Emergency Ground Ambulances: NHTSA / USDOT, September 2012

4. “EMS to Your Rescue?” Int’l Forum on Traffic Records & Hwy Safety Info. Systems – Levick N, July, 2008

To Breastfeed for 6 Months or Not To Breastfeed for 6 Months…

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 12:14 pm

…that is the question…

This week a small group of pediatric health experts from the UK published a report in the British Medical Journal questioning the 2001 World Health Organization’s recommendation to provide 6 months of exclusive breast feeding. The WHO and UNICEF recommend:

  • Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
  • Exclusive breastfeeding – that is the infant only receives breastmilk without any additional food or drink, not even water
  • Breastfeeding on demand – that is as often as the child wants, day and night
  • No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers

This is based on significant evidence that breast milk reduces the rate of pneumonia, ear infections, gastroenteritis and other infections.

Given however the much lower incidence rate of these illnesses in “developed countries” some medical professionals have voiced their concern about applying the 6 month restriction universally. They argue that while “exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is readily defendable in resource-poor countries with high morbidity and mortality from infections, in developed countries, other concerns can take precedence”.

This aligns with the new report which suggests that babies who are breastfed exclusively for six months are at a higher risk for iron deficiency and food allergies including celiac disease, and may also lead to a delay in developing a taste for food products which could have a long term impact on diet. Among the questions asked – “will babies who aren’t introduced to bitter-tasting foods in the first 6 months continue to have an aversion to them for the rest of their lives??” If this does in fact occur, will it make it even more difficult to win the battle against obesity?

All of that being said, the current debate is not one which attempts to answer the question of whether or not a mother should breastfeed. That is a separate conversation with its own proponents for and against. But even for those moms who make the decision to breastfeed, many still struggle to continue for the recommended 6 months – especially if they return to work. (According to the CDC , although 75% of new moms in the U.S. start breastfeeding, only 13% are still breastfeeding exclusively at 6 months).

So what is the right answer? Can solid foods be introduced as early as 4 months? The WHO and UNICEF are continuing to support a 6 month guideline while a number of experts are now recommending the alternative. One area they both seem to agree is that each child is different, and watching for baby’s cues will be the best guideline of all.

So what about you?? How did you know when your little one was ready for solids?

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References: