The most prevalent childhood disease is dental caries (aka cavities), but thankfully, cavities are largely preventable--as long as you start caring for your baby's teeth as soon as they sprout, usually at 6 to 9 months. "It only takes a couple of months for cavities to form," warns Joel Berg, D.D.S., M.S., a professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Washington School of Dentistry in Seattle. Here's how to avoid early-childhood tooth decay.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new pediatric growth charts to more accurately reflect patterns among breastfed babies. Current U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards are based on 30-year-old calculations using the growth patterns of mostly formula-fed babies. In general, exclusively breastfed infants gain weight faster in the first 2 to 3 months. However, from 6 to 12 months, these babies tend to weigh less than their formula-fed counterparts.
Parents who have a board-certified pediatrician to care for their infant can be assured that the doctor has been deemed competent and up-to-date about developments in the field. But two studies from Michigan found that parents can't assume a pediatrician recommended by their hospital or health plan has been certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. The studies showed that 78 percent of U.S. hospitals don't require board certification to grant privileges to pediatricians, and only 41 percent of health plans require the certification.
• Keep drinking lots of water Also, to prevent constipation, eat plenty of fiber-rich foods such as bran cereals and whole-grain breads.
• Get cooking Now's the time to prepare and freeze some nutritious meals for when you and your new baby return from the hospital.
• Slow down a bit Reduce the volume of your exercise, but keep doing gentle stretching, swimming and walking.
• Do only what feels comfortable Walking from one room to the next may be all that you're up to, which is OK.