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Your Baby

How Much Water Does Your Baby Need?

2.00 to read

Since most of the country is sweltering with summer heat and temperatures well into the upper 90’s and even over 100 degrees, I guess I can understand parents’ concerns about giving their babies water. It seemed like a strange question to me when I first started hearing, “Dr. Sue, how much water does my baby need to drink every day?”  I know I am continuing to talk about staying hydrated during the heat wave, but we are really talking about those children and adults who are spending time outdoors, especially when involved in physical activity.

I have actually been telling parents with newborns that there is really no reason to take that sweet new baby outside for any length of time. I think it is too hot to enjoy being outside, and an infant doesn’t miss going to the playground like a 2 or 3 year old would.

But, when you have young children you have to get out (or go crazy inside everyday), so everyone just suffers through the heat. Remember to take your sunscreen and fluids and head out for an hour or two, in the morning or later afternoon if at all possible. These children need lots of water breaks, as do their parents and caregivers.

So, back to the water and baby question. Infants in the first 6 months are getting fed breast milk or formula which is made up of free water, so therefore a baby is staying hydrated by eating every  2 -3 hours. A baby doesn’t “need” water every day for any particular reason.

With that being said, it does not mean that your baby cannot have a bottle of water. This is especially true for a breast fed infant whose mother may have run out for an hour but is coming back to breast feed.  But what if the baby awakens or gets hungry 30 min or so prior to mother getting home.  This might be a good time to “stall” by giving the baby a bottle of water, rather than formula. In this case it is fine to use tap water (yes bottled water is not necessary, unless you have a well or something) in a bottle and see if the baby will even take it. Most babies don’t just gulp down 8 ounces of water!

If you are out in the heat with an infant, just remember to feed them every 2 – 3 hours and make sure they have nice drool in their mouths and wet diapers. If you are concerned about hydration take along a bottle of water for both you and your baby. You will probably need it more than your baby!

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

 

 

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Your Baby

Transitioning From Breastfeeding to Bottle-feeding

2:00

There are as many reasons as there are mothers for deciding to transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding. It doesn’t matter what the reason may be, making the change is a difficult choice for some mothers.

“Every mother experiences mixed emotions about weaning and usually feels some sadness about bringing nursing to an end,” says Kathleen Huggins, RN, author of The Nursing Mother's Companion.

Huggins offers several tips for mothers who have made the choice to switch.

At around 6 months (some parents start even earlier), babies are beginning to eat solid foods. Since these foods are more filling, many babies may want less breast milk. If you’re considering switching to the bottle, this is a good time to introduce bottle-feeding - a little at a time.

“Most moms consider weaning when there are natural transitions,” says Natasha L. Burgert, MD. She's a pediatrician in Kansas City, MO. “As baby's diet is changing and his immune protection from vaccines increases, many moms decide to cut back on their nursing.”

An important tip is to make sure you are ready for the commitment it takes to change yours and your baby’s routine. There isn’t a “normal” time to stop nursing your baby. There is only an average time. Some mothers continue to breastfeed up to a year or longer – that’s their choice. Don’t allow others to pressure you. If you try to switch and something doesn't feel right, trust your instincts.

“In my experience, moms are typically not disappointed if they are truly ready,” Burgert says. “If moms are emotionally torn about weaning, maybe it's not time.”

Breastfeeding is often a close bonding time between mothers and their infants. It doesn’t have to stop because you are switching to a bottle. It can also allow dads to experience the unique bond of feeding time.

Just because you begin using a bottle, nothing has to change in how you hold your baby. You can still hold he or she close and have skin-to-skin contact.

“Babies want to be close to you, hear your voice, be warm and snug, and get their tummies full,” Burgert says. “Both bottle and breast can equally do those things.”

If your baby expects you close at mealtimes, don't hand her a bottle, even if she's old enough to hold it.

“I suggest that she be held for all of these feedings,” Huggins says. “In this way, the baby and mother can continue to experience the close, loving bond that comes with nursing.”

Of course breastfeeding isn’t the only time for close bonding. Moms can still snuggle, cuddle and kiss their babies. None of that goes away with the introduction of a baby bottle.

Take your time when introducing the bottle. Make is a gradual transition by dropping one session every few days. Begin with a daytime feeding.

“Babies are busy playing and interacting with their environment,” Burgert says.

“Once solid feeding is going well, roll right into a bottle in the morning, rather than a nursing session.”

Once you start making the switch, ask for help from your husband or partner or other family members.

“It's best if someone else offers the bottles, so the baby associates breastfeeding with the mother,” says Laurie Beck, RN, of the U.S. Lactation Consultant Association.

It's often hardest for babies to give up bedtime nursing.

“To be successful, the routine has to change,” Beck says. You can “offer a drink from a bottle or cup and then try walking around to put the baby to sleep. Or let someone else put the baby to sleep so that they do not associate going to sleep with breastfeeding.”

While baby is adjusting to a new routine, mom’s body is also going through quite a few changes.  When you cut back on breastfeeding, your full breasts can be painful. Even when you are slowly changing over, breasts can feel very uncomfortable.

To relieve the pain try these methods:

Chill your breasts. “Ice packs help to constrict and feel good if the breasts are warm to the touch,” Beck says. You can get the same relief by putting chilled cabbage leaves in your bra. (Really!)

Remove some milk. Use a breast pump to take off some pressure. Don't pump for too long or your body will think that it should maintain its milk supply. “There's a difference between pumping 15 to 20 minutes to fully empty the breasts and removing just enough milk to make yourself comfortable,” Beck says.

Leave your breasts alone. Once you stop nursing, keep breasts off-limits to help your milk supply stop. “Avoid any breast stimulation, including forward-facing showers and sexual foreplay,” Huggins says.

There’s nothing unusual about switching from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, millions of women have made the same choice. They key is to be ready and to take your time.

Source: Lisa Fields, Roy Benaroch, MD, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/bottle-feeding-15/weaning-from-breast

 

 

 

Your Baby

A Kinder, Gentler C-Section Birth

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When it comes to having a baby, whether a woman delivers vaginally or by cesarean section, the one thing they have in common is the desire parents have to hold their newborn.

Many women who have had a cesarean section will tell you that the surgical procedure left them feeling like they missed the pivotal moment in giving birth; the physical connection between mother and child.

Oftentimes, the baby is whisked away moments after birth leaving the mother without her newborn.

While C-sections have leveled off in the last couple of years, they are still up 500% since 1970. The reasons for cesarean delivery have changed dramatically from ancient to modern times.

The origins of the cesarean birth are somewhat clouded in mystery, but according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “… the initial purpose was essentially to retrieve the infant from a dead or dying mother; this was conducted either in the rather vain hope of saving the baby's life, or as commonly required by religious edicts, so the infant might be buried separately from the mother. Above all it was a measure of last resort, and the operation was not intended to preserve the mother's life. It was not until the nineteenth century that such a possibility really came within the grasp of the medical profession.”

These days C-sections are performed for a variety of reasons. In most cases, doctors perform cesarean sections when problems arise either for the mother or baby or both during birth. However, there are also times when possible health issues are known ahead of time and a C-section can be scheduled to prevent complications.

For the most part, the procedure hasn’t changed much since it began being used in modern times.

During a planned traditional C-section, the woman is given medications to dry the secretions in her mouth, her lower abdomen is washed with an antiseptic solution and possibly shaved. She is given an anesthetic and a screen is placed in front of her face to keep the surgical field sterile – blocking her view of the delivery. She may or may not be able to hold her baby immediately after birth.

A new approach to C-section deliveries may offer some families an option they never dreamed possible.

Doctors and nurses at the Center for Labor and Birth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have developed new procedures to make the C-section more family-centered. Dr. William Camann, Director of Obstetric Anesthesiology, explained that the goal of the family-centered cesarean, or “gentle-C,” is to make the delivery as natural as possible.

For example, Dr. Camann realized that by using both clear and solid sterile drapes, obstetricians could switch the solid drape for the clear one just before delivery and allow mom to see her baby being born.

“We also allow mom a free arm and place the EKG leads on her back so that she is able to hold, interact, and provide skin-to-skin contact with her baby in the moments following the birth,” said Camann, who teamed up with BWH registered nurse Kathy Trainor, to make this option available to patients and their families.

Skin-to-skin touch isn’t just an emotional fulfillment for the mother, research has shown that normal term newborns that are placed skin-to-skin with their mothers immediately after birth do better physically and psychologically as well.

“Allowing mom and baby to bond as quickly as possible after the delivery makes for a better transition for the baby, including better temperature and heart rate regulation, increased attachment and parental bonding and more successful rates of breast feeding,” Trainor said.

With the updated procedure, dads can also hold and touch their newborn. 

Camann acknowledges that changes in the traditional cesarean section require some readjusting from the hospital medical staff.

“It requires (doctors and nurses) to just think a little bit differently than the way they have usually done things,” Camann said. “Once they see this, they usually realize it’s really not that difficult.”

Nationwide, the procedure is starting to take hold as more hospitals begin offering the "gentle-C".

Camann says that the procedure isn’t recommended for every C-section birth. He also emphasizes that it’s not in any way meant to promote more C-sections.

 “We would all like to do fewer C-sections. But there are women who need a C-section for various medical reasons and if you do need a cesarean, we want to make this a better experience,” he said.

Sources: http://healthhub.brighamandwomens.org/the-gentle-cesarean-a-new-option-for-moms-to-be#sthash.hxehc5es.dvbG5DgD.dpbs

A. Pawlowski, http://www.today.com/parents/family-centered-gentle-c-section-turns-birth-surgery-labor-or-2D80542993

http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/what-to-expect-cesarean-delivery

Your Baby

Special Baby Formulas Don’t Prevent Asthma, Allergies

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Parents that have a baby at risk or allergies, asthma or type-1 Diabetes sometimes turn to hydrolyzed milk formulas in hopes of lowering their infant’s risk of developing these problems.

A new review of the data on hydrolyzed formulas finds that there is no evidence that they actually protect children from these types of autoimmune disorders.

"We found no consistent evidence to support a protective role for partially or extensively hydrolyzed formula," concluded a team led by Robert Boyle of Imperial College London in England.

"Our findings conflict with current international guidelines, in which hydrolyzed formula is widely recommended for young formula-fed infants with a family history of allergic disease," the study authors added.

In the study, Boyle's team looked at data from 37 studies that together included more than 19,000 participants and were conducted between 1946 and 2015.

The investigators found that infants who received hydrolyzed cow's milk formula did not have a lower risk of asthma, allergies (such as eczema, hay fever, food allergies) or type 1 diabetes compared to those who received human breast milk or a standard cow's milk formula.

The researchers also found no evidence to support an FDA-approved claim that a partially hydrolyzed formula could reduce the risk of the skin disorder eczema, or another conclusion that hydrolyzed formula could prevent an allergy to cow's milk.

Other experts in the United States said that the finding casts doubt on the usefulness of these kinds of specialized products.

"Allergies and autoimmune diseases [such as asthma, and type 1 diabetes] are on the rise and it would be nice if we did have a clear route to preventing them," said Dr. Ron Marino, associate chair of pediatrics at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

"Unfortunately, despite U.S. Food and Drug Administration support [for hydrolyzed formula], the data are not compelling," he said.

Dr. Punita Ponda is assistant chief of allergy and immunology at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. She stressed that when it comes to infant feeding, breast milk is by far the healthiest option.

However, "current mainstream guidelines for infant formula do recommend that parents consider using hypoallergenic formula if a close family member -- like an older brother or sister -- has a food allergy," she said. That was based on prior studies supporting some kind of protective effect, Ponda said.

Protein hydrolysate formulas were first introduced in the 1940s for babies who could not tolerate the milk protein in cow’s milk.

Protein hydrolyzed formulas are formulas composed of proteins that are partially broken down or “hydrolyzed.” They are also called hydrolysates.

There are two broad categories of protein hydrolysates:

•       Partially hydrolyzed formulas (pHF)

•       Extensively hydrolyzed formulas (eHF)

Both partially and extensively hydrolyzed protein formulas are based on casein or whey, which are proteins found in milk.  

Hydrolyzed formulas have had the protein chains broken down into shorter and more easy-to -digest chains. The more extensively hydrolyzed the formula, the fewer potentially allergenic compounds remain.

Hydrolyzed formulas are also more expensive than regular cow’s milk formulas and often harder to find.

The researchers review was published March 08, 2016 in the BMJ.

Story sources: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20160308/special-infant-formulas-dont-shield-against-asthma-allergies-study

Victoria Groce, http://foodallergies.about.com/od/adultfoodallergies/p/hypoallergenic.htm

 

Your Baby

Fish Oil During Pregnancy May Reduce Baby’s Asthma Risk

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A Danish study’s results suggests pregnant women that take a fish oil supplement during the final 3 months of pregnancy may reduce their baby’s risk of developing asthma or persistent wheezing.

The study involved 736 pregnant women, in their third trimester. Half the women took a placebo containing olive oil and the other group was given 2.4 grams of fish oil. The women took the supplements until one week after birth.

Among children whose mothers took fish-oil capsules, 16.9 percent had asthma by age 3, compared with 23.7 percent whose mothers were given placebos. The difference, nearly 7 percentage points, translates to a risk reduction of about 31 percent.

In the study, the researchers noted that they are not ready to recommend that pregnant women routinely take fish oil. Although the results of the study were positive, several experts have noted that more research needs to be done before higher doses of fish oil supplements are recommended over eating more fish.

Researchers found no adverse effects in the mothers or babies, the doses were high, 2.4 grams per day is 15 to 20 times what most Americans consume from foods.

One in five young children are affected by asthma and wheezing disorders. In recent decades, the rate has more than doubled in Western countries. Previous research has shown that those conditions are more prevalent among babies whose mothers have low levels of fish oil in their bodies. The new large-scale test, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, is the first to see if supplements can actually lower the risk.

Before doctors can make any recommendations, the study should be replicated, and fish oil should be tested earlier in pregnancy and at different doses, Dr. Hans Bisgaard, the leading author of the study, said in an email to the New York Times. He is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Copenhagen and the head of research at the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, an independent research unit.

Dr. Bisgaard said it was not possible to tell from the study whether pregnant women could benefit from simply eating more fish. Pregnant women are generally advised to limit their consumption of certain types of fish like swordfish and tuna because they contain mercury. But many other types are considered safe, especially smaller fish like sardines that are not at the top of the food chain and therefore not likely to accumulate mercury and other contaminants from eating other fish.

“It is possible that a lower dose would have sufficed," the Bisgaard team said.

The supplements didn't seem to affect the odds of a baby or toddler developing the skin condition eczema, or an allergy such as a reaction to milk or egg products, or a severe asthma attack.

An editorial in the same journal by an expert who was not part of the study praised the research, saying it was well designed and carefully performed. The author of that editorial, Dr. Christopher E. Ramsden, from the National Institutes of Health, said the findings would help doctors develop a “precision medicine” approach in which fish-oil treatment could be tailored to women who are most likely to benefit.

If the findings are confirmed in other populations, doctors could test to see who would mostly likely benefit from fish oil supplements. "The health care system is currently not geared for such," Bisgaard said. "But clearly this would be the future."

If you are considering taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy, be sure and check with your OB/GYN for a recommended dose.

All fish oils are not the same. Some brands of fish oil are of higher quality than others. A reputable fish oil manufacturer should be able to provide documentation of third-party lab results that show the purity levels of their fish oil, down to the particles per trillion level. Also, if the supplements smell or taste fishy, they shouldn’t. High quality fish oil supplements don’t. Avoid fish oils that have really strong or artificial flavors added to them because they are most likely trying to hide the fishy flavor of rancid oil.

Story sources: Denise Grady, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/health/fish-oil-asthma-pregnancy.html?WT.mc_id=SmartBriefs-Newsletter&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=smartbriefsnl

Gene Emery, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-asthma-fish-oil-idUSKBN14H1T3

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/omega-3-fish-oil/

 

Your Baby

Does Your Unborn Baby Hear You?

2.00 to read

More than twenty years ago I remember reading that fetuses can learn to recognize their mothers and father’s voices and then respond to those voices as newborns. I thought… well maybe… but it seemed to me that voices from outside of the womb would sound muffled from inside. Of course, I don’t remember my in utero experience so I don’t really know how words sound.

Over the years though, scientists have continued to examine how and what babies learn before they are born.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland have determined that fetuses not only hear and recognize voices but they can become familiar with different words and different pitches used when saying those words.

The study involved 33 moms-to-be, and examined their babies after birth. While pregnant, 17 mothers listened at a loud volume to a CD with (2), four-minute sequences of the made-up words “tatata” or “tatota.” The words were said with several different pitches. The moms-to-be listened to the recordings beginning at 29 weeks of pregnancy -about 7 months along- until birth. They heard them around 50 to 71 times.

Following birth, researchers tested the babies for normal hearing and then performed an electroencephalograph (EEG) brain scan to see if the newborns would respond to the made-up words and different pitches. And sure enough, the brain scans showed increased activity from the babies who had been listening to the CD in utero when the words were played to them after birth. Not only did they respond to the words, but also seemed to recognize the different pitches used when they heard them.  

The babies born to the mothers who had not listened to the CDs while pregnant showed little reaction to the words or pitches.

 “We have known that fetuses can learn certain sounds from their environment during pregnancy,” Eino Partanen, a doctoral student and lead author on the paper, said via email.

“We can now very easily assess the effects of fetal learning on a very detailed level—like in our study, [we] look at the learning effects to very small changes in the middle of a word.”

Some experts believe the finding shows that not only can a third-trimester fetus hear and recognize voices; he or she can also detect subtle changes and process complex information.

“Interestingly, this prenatal exposure also helped the newborns to detect changes which they were not exposed to: the infants who have received additional prenatal stimulation could also detect loudness changes in pseudo words but the unexposed infants could not,” Partanen says.

“However, both groups did have responses to vowel changes (which are very common in Finnish, and which newborns have been many time previously been shown to be capable of).”

You may be wondering why is it even important that scientists know if fetuses can recognize voices or words.  Partanen says because sounds heard in utero may shape the developing human brain in ways that affect speech and language development after birth.

“The better we know how the fetus’ brain works, the more we’ll know about early development of language,” Partanen says. “If we know better how language develops very early, we may one day be able to develop very early interventions [for babies with abnormal development].” 

An abstract for the Finnish study is published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website.

Does talking and singing to your baby before it’s born actually stimulate his or her brain activity and increase language learning? Some experts say definitely yes, others say it has no impact. But really, most moms and dads enjoy baby bump bonding whether it’s productive or not. And who knows, maybe your pre-born hears you loud and clear. 

Source: Meghan Holohan, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/unborn-babies-are-hearing-you-loud-clear-8C11005474

Your Baby

Recall: Otteroo Baby Floats Due to Drowning Risks

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Babies and young children can drown in less than 2 inches of water.  That’s why it is  vital that parents and caregivers never leave a baby or young child unattended while they are near or in water.

When bathing their infant, parents will sometimes attach a bath float to their child to help keep his or her head above water. While the float may offer some assistance, critics warn that the device can give parents a false sense of security that their child is protected from drowning.

Otteroo Corporation makes inflatable baby floats that are specifically designed for babies 8 weeks and up.

The company is recalling about 3000 units of their inflatable Baby Floats after receiving 54 reports of broken seems on the product. No injuries have been reported.

The Otteroo Inflatable Baby Float is an inflatable round ring made of clear and blue plastic material. It has two air chambers that fasten around a baby’s neck with a white buckle. The floats have a chin rest, two handles and two circular openings on the back of the ring to allow the device to expand as the child grows with age. There are three colorful balls that move freely around inside the ring.  The name “Otteroo” is imprinted on the top of the float in large, orange letters with an Otter logo.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled inflatable baby floats and contact the firm to receive a free replacement.

The floats were sold online at Otteroo.com and Amazon.com and Zulily.com from January 2014 through July 2014 for about $35.

Consumers can contact Otteroo Corporation at (415) 236-5388 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online www.otteroo.com and click on “Safety” at the bottom of the page for more information.

According to their website, Otteroo is offering a free replacement for those who purchased the product manufactured in 2014 (NO: 002013001).

Sources: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/Recall-Alerts/2015/Otteroo-Corp-Recalls-Inflatable-Baby-Floats/

http://otteroo.com/pages/safety-info

Your Baby

BPA Consumed During Pregnancy Linked to Obesity in Kids

1:45

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities and used primarily in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.

You’ll find polycarbonate plastics in some plastic water bottles, food storage containers and plastic tableware. Epoxy resins are used in lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.

The primary source of exposure to BPA for many people is through food and beverages.

Why should you be concerned about Bisphenol A?

BPA is thought to act as an endocrine disruptor--a compound that mimics or disrupts hormones produced by the human body. Previous research has linked BPA to asthma, ADHD, depression, anxiety and early puberty in girls. It has also been linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease in adults.

A new study has also found a possible link between BPA and child obesity.

Researchers at Columbia University found that children of women exposed to BPA during pregnancy were likely to have more body fat by age seven. Increased body fat has been linked to a higher risk of obesity.

"This study provides evidence that prenatal exposure to BPA may contribute to developmental origins of obesity as determined by measures of body fat in children as opposed to the traditional indicator of body mass index, which only considers height and weight,” lead author of the study. Lori Hoepner, DrPH, said in a press release.

Dr. Hoepner and her colleagues studied 369 maternal-child pairs from pregnancy through early childhood.

The researchers collected urine samples during the last three months of pregnancy.

Urine samples were also collected from the children at ages three and five. The children's heights and weights were measured at age five and age seven.

At age seven the researchers also measured waist circumference and fat mass.

The researchers found 94 percent of the women had BPA in their urine--an indication that they had been exposed to the chemical.

Dr. Hoepner and colleagues found that children who had been exposed to BPA in the womb had a higher body fat mass. Even though the children might have been within the normal ranges for height and weight, they had a greater percentage of fat than would be normal at that age.

The researchers found a strong association between BPA, fat mass and waist circumference in girls. They also found that childhood exposure to BPA was not associated with fat mass, indicating that the prenatal exposure was the problem.

Some studies indicate that infants and children may be the most vulnerable to the effects of BPA. This new study also suggests that pregnant women might want to avoid BPA products.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers these tips for reducing BPA exposure:

•       Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures. Use glass or ceramics for microwaving foods.

•       Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.

•       Reduce your use of canned foods. Choose glass or other safe packaging or fresh or frozen foods when possible.

•       Opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.

•       Use baby bottles that are BPA free. 

The study was published in the May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

Story sources: Beth Greenwood, http://www.dailyrxnews.com/prenatal-exposure-bpa-was-associated-increased-fat-mass-children-columbia-university-study-found

http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/

 

Your Baby

Baby's First Tooth!

Many dentists like to see a child by age one, not because there are a lot of problems to detect, but because it’s a good time to help parents learn more about dental health care and to establish a good relationship with the child.After all the crying, and teething fits, midnight trips to the crib, and endless time soothing and rubbing gums.... it’s finally here. Baby’s first tooth!  It’s also time to start thinking about your child’s dental health, and baby’s first visit to the Dentist.

It is generally recommended that an infant sees a dentist by the age of 1 or within 6 months after his or her first tooth comes in.

Many dentists like to see a child by age one, not because there are a lot of problems to detect, but because it’s a good time to help parents learn more about dental health care and to establish a good relationship with the child. The average age for continuing visits is about 2 to 2.5 years old depending on your child’s dental heredity and overall health. Many dentists like to see children every 6 months to build up the child's comfort and confidence level in visiting the dentist, to monitor the development of the teeth, and promptly treat any developing problems. What Happens at the First Dental Visit? The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. This visit gives your child an opportunity to meet the dentist in a non-threatening and friendly way. Some dentists may ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold their child during the examination. The parent may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist. During the exam, your dentist should check all of your child's existing teeth for decay, examine your child's bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues. If indicated, the dentist or hygienist will clean any teeth and assess the need for fluoride. He or she will also educate parents about oral health basics for children and discuss dental developmental issues and answer any questions. Topics your dentist may discuss with you might include: 1. Good oral hygiene practices for your child's teeth and gums and cavity prevention 2. Fluoride needs 3. Oral habits such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking. 4.  Developmental milestones 5. Teething 6. Proper nutrition You will be asked to complete medical and health information forms concerning the child during the first visit. Come prepared with the necessary information. What's the Difference Between a Pediatric Dentist and a Regular Dentist? A pediatric dentist has at least two additional years of training beyond dental school. The additional training focuses on management and treatment of a child's developing teeth, child behavior, physical growth and development, and the special needs of children's dentistry. Although either type of dentist is capable of addressing your child's oral health care needs, a pediatric dentist, his or her staff, and even the office décor are all geared to care for children and to put them at ease. If your child has special needs, care from a pediatric dentist should be considered. Ask your dentist or your child's doctor what he or she recommends for your child. When Should Children Get Their First Dental X-Ray? There are no hard-and-fast rules for when to start dental X-rays. Some children who may be at higher risk for dental problems. Children prone to baby bottle tooth decay or those with cleft lip or palate should have X-rays taken earlier than others. Usually, most children will have had X-rays taken by the age of 5 or 6. As children begin to get their adult teeth around the age of 6, X-rays play an important role in helping your dentist. X-rays allow your dentist to see if all of the adult teeth are growing in the jaw, to look for bite problems and to determine if teeth are clean and healthy. Once a child’s diet includes anything besides breast-milk or baby formula, erupted teeth are at risk for decay. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

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