The American Academy of Pediatrics, one of the go-to sources for parents looking for pediatric information at large in The United States, provides guidelines on everything children. Each year updates in their guidelines come from the most current peer-reviewed research as well as awareness of the times around us (like the ever-evolving role of technology in our children’s lives). Some guideline updates are intricate and mostly within the scope of doctors practicing medicine. Some guidelines are very applicable to every child and practical for general parent knowledge.
This past year some of those updates were simply tweaks on the old news most of us know or have heard. Some information is overhauled from previous knowledge and recommendations.
The most practical updates you may or may not be aware of include:
Introduction of Peanuts: Add peanuts (in a baby-friendly form like puree) to the list of foods baby can eat before age one. If your family has instances of food or skin sensitivities, it is worth reading the guidelines in depth and consulting with your pediatrician. As always you’ll want to be aware of symptoms of allergy and introduce foods mindfully to be aware of your child’s specific needs. Generally though the only food to limit for all babies these days before age one is honey, which can cause specific food poisoning known as botulism.
Screen Time: Screens don’t just involve televisions anymore, and the AAP are catching up with the times and reality of many family homes. For children under age two, no screen time is suggested. An exception to this may be Facetime with grandma or extremely limited access to high quality age-appropriate programming. Consider when you have the television on, even for yourself, like while nursing or baby is playing. The sounds and images can be overstimulating and distracting for a child, impacting his or her play or rest. For ages two through five the AAP suggests no more than one hour of screen time a day. This allows for more play and movement, encouraging physical, emotional, and psychological development.
Keep screens away from bedrooms and the dinner table. Limit before bedtime, during family time, and in the car (unless on a long trip). Be aware of what your child is viewing and interacting with to ensure it is age-appropriate. This can also allow for more engagement with your child. Recognize that not all screen time is created equal, as new AAP guidelines consider homework on the computer not the same as watching a passive television show. Set media-free time each day, not just screen-free time. AAP also encourages parents to be a role model with an awareness of screen-free time for everyone in the home, which is beneficial to all.
SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome continues to be a leading cause of death for babies under age one in The United States. New guidelines mostly reemphasize the importance of baby on back, with soft bedding removed, for every nap and sleep. Room sharing is encouraged for the whole first year of life though bed-sharing is not. Breastfeeding and sleeping in a cool environment also help. Limiting alcohol consumption and nicotine exposure also are related to a decrease in SIDS. It is worth every parent’s time to educate anyone who provides care for their child on healthy sleep habits as some incidences of death occur while under the care of others. Swaddling baby is most safe when baby is on back. Skin to skin contact as soon as possible upon birth may contribute to a decrease in SIDS, including with father or other caregiver.
Sleeping: Infant sleep recommendations are mostly stated just above. For toddlers, preschoolers, and older children, the AAP noted again this year the importance for children to get enough sleep every night for improved focus and behavior each day. Additionally, adequate sleep by going to sleep earlier in the evening is also associated with lower obesity rates later in adolescence.
Lynette is a mom of three children from one year to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.