By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
EVEN if they have walked the road before, parents of newborn babies always have tons of questions about their child’s growth and what developmental milestones they should be reaching. Many quiz their paediatricians or turn to Google and online communities for their answers.
To help parents who are seeking answers, Sandbox – a new children’s clothing store in the Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza – recently launched its “Family Talks” series, the first of which featured a lecture and discussion led by Dr Ayana Remy, a board certified paediatrician.
The next “Family Talks” event is scheduled for November 16, from 3pm to 5pm, and will feature paediatrician Dr Carlos Thomas.
Sandbox’s “Family Talks” is a series of educational and informational sessions designed for busy parents to discuss and learn about a wide range of family related topics. There will be a leading professional to facilitate each session and answer parenting questions.
During the first “Family Talk”, Dr Remy focused on developmental milestones in babies.
For those parents wondering what the development process of their newborns should look like, Dr Remy said: “They’re not doing very much. We like our babies really, really close to us. But as far as their social interaction, maybe they can distinguish Mom’s voice. They cry for everything; when they’re wet, bored, hungry, tired, cold, but that cry is the same.
“In terms of their cognition, they really can’t see that much. You look at baby and think, ‘she/he knows me, he’s smiling at me,’ but the truth is, they can’t see much, just blacks, whites and greys, and they follow your face. So if you try to get their attention they will maybe just look mid-line, from one side over to the centre, but not past that.
At two months, newborn babies develop what is known as a social smile, to recognise a caregiver.
“So when Mommy walks in the room, they smile. That’s a really lovely time because it’s an actual, true smile, which is very different from the smiles when they are newborns. Up until then, smiling is just a reflex. You might think, ‘Baby is smiling at me.’ The smiles of a newborn are very different than a social smile. When they’re sleeping it almost looks like they are dreaming. I hate to break the news to you, but your newborn is not really smiling at you; it’s a reflex. When they hit two months you have that reciprocal smile. They’re also smiling at other people, and they can briefly calm themselves by putting their hands in their mouths,” he said.
As the baby develops throughout the first year they should hit other developmental milestones such as cognition where they recognise caregivers, cooing, saying “Mama and Dada” as wells as movement milestones, according to Dr Remy.
At the end of the lecture, Dr Remy answered a plethora of audience questions pertaining to allergies, immunisation, the use of walkers and much more. Here’s what Dr Remy had to say on some of those issues.
Q: At what age can baby sit in a walker?
A: “No walkers. So listen to this, the American Academy of Paediatrics recently put out an advisory on walkers. They’re actually banned in the UK because they are not safe. The baby goes in there and is having so much fun, but the walkers can be hazardous around stairs. Some studies have shown that they actually delay walking because they become accustomed to that support. It’s better to let them cruise, put furniture close together and let them move around that way. So no walkers.”
Q: What are general recommendations when it comes to transitioning from milk to solids?
A: “AAP recommends transitioning to solids between four to six months. Here, we recommend six months. We spoke about them wanting to sit up while they’re feeding. The reason is that we’re putting a spoon in their mouths. However, up until six months baby has a ‘tongue thrust’ reflex, using their tongues to automatically push out foreign objects. This disappears around five to six months, and it gets a lot easier to feed them. The other reason is that it’s less allergies. That whole thing has changed because now they’re recommending that we give babies with a family history of allergies, allergenic foods a lot earlier, to expose them. We wait until their immune system is a little more developed. You start with fruits and vegetables and single grain cereals.”
Q: “What is the connection between immunisations and allergies?”
A: “Most allergies are food related, and that’s not really what you find in the additives in vaccines. It’s highly unlikely that immunisations are causing food allergies. You have some environmental triggers as well. I haven’t seen any significant link between them.
“What’s more topical is the connection between immunisations and developmental disorders like autism. This is a topic that has been studied ad nauseam for decades. In general, most of the reputable boards – the Centres for Disease Control, the American Academy of Paediatrics, and the IB community – would say there is no link between immunisations and autism or developmental delays. We can’t really compete with external experiences, so most times if you’ll have a mom that actually swears that, ‘After my child got their vaccine I started to notice some differences.’ Sometimes it may just be because of the timing of the vaccine, and because we see those development issues peaking at the time of the MMR/Varicella combination. This is a very controversial issue. I will say that most of the studies have not confirmed a significant link between the two. Parents have concerns about the additives, like the aluminium, or numerous vaccines given at the same time, and again, no significant link between the two.”