We all want what’s best for our children. More than that, we want to give our kids all of the things that we never had in life – we read the books, sign up for the apps and websites, and worry ourselves into insomnia when we actually could be getting some shuteye.
The thing is, there’s a lot of information out there. It can be overwhelming, and of course there’s no way for two parents to act on absolutely every recommendation. With that in mind, here are 6 relatively simple things you can either do or alter in your everyday life that are pretty much guaranteed to give your child an awesome start in life.
6. Probiotics aren’t hokey
I’m one of those people who let the recommendations for probiotics go in one ear and out the other for the first six months or so of my (colicky) baby’s life. Once we started them, the difference was immediate and we’ve never looked back.
Babies need healthy gut bacteria as much as adults, and research out of the University of California suggests that the majority of them don’t have enough of the key one – B. infantis – to keep things running smoothly. The positive changes that stem from a healthy gut have been shown to have lifelong impacts on things like metabolism and immunity.
5. If you’re even thinking about getting pregnant, don’t skip the vitamins
Folic acid is vital to a baby’s brain and nervous system development, and denying them can increase the risk of defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. Not only that, but it needs to be taken within a few weeks of conception (often before women know they’re pregnant). To be safe, grab some vitamins if you’re at risk of getting pregnant.
4. Take a deep breath when it comes to germs and dirt
Babies are going to get dirty. They’re going to put something in their mouths (or lots of somethings) in their mouths that make us cringe. But as much as you might want to stand by with sanitizing wipes and a can of bleach, there’s mounting evidence that going overboard to protect your children from germs is actually hurting their immune systems.
Not only that, but children who attend daycare do contract more colds and ear infections from being exposed to other students, but those same children tend to suffer fewer illnesses once they start school. Some doctors think over-sanitizing a child could be to blame for the rise in both allergies and asthma.
So, you know, maybe save the spray bottle army for a serious offense.
3. Concerns about BPAs and other plastics are real
There are piles of studies that show the effects of BPA on endocrine function, and it can lead to all kinds of issues, from interfering with immune function, increased cancer risk, and even behavioral problems later in life. In short, the endocrine system is responsible for hormone regulation and if it’s upset, the effects can tumble far and wide.
That goes double for developing organ and neural systems, and problems abound for parents trying to find teethers and soothers that don’t contain any BPA. It can be nearly impossible to avoid plastics entirely, but remember that heating them causes the harmful materials to ooze out.
2. Talk to your baby
This one seems easy, but for anyone who has had to carry on a one-sided conversation day in and day out, here’s your confirmation: in this study, babies who were not spoken to regularly lagged behind in language tests for the first two years of their lives – and often times, it affected them into elementary school.
Hearing spoken language improves vocabulary, processing skills, and helps them grasp the rules and rhythms from an early age.
1. Turn off the TV
Everyone needs a break now and then, so we’re certainly not judging moms or dads from taking a 20-minute coffee (or bathroom) break while Elmo transfixes your little one. That said, the fewer screens you expose baby to in the first 18 months, the better.
h/t: The Bump