API Links - December 2011

API Links you to...

News on babies sleeping with butcher knives (a controversial co-sleeping campaign), baby's and mother's hormonal ties, babies before birth, and the "empathy gene."

Editor's Picks

Yay, Rhode Island!: No More Free Formula at Hospitals
The state is first in the nation to end this practice.

Clues to Young Children's Aggressive Behavior Uncovered
Children who are persistently aggressive, defiant, and explosive by the time they're in kindergarten very often have tumultuous relationships with their parents from early on.

Aggressive Children More Likely to Be Sick Adults
Interventions to help parents with parenting may be vital. "A life-long approach to teaching children, teenagers, and young adults appropriate self-care and age-appropriate ways of managing their stress and impulses may effectively prevent poor health outcomes later in life," the researchers concur.

API's 2011 Appeal to You to Support Continuing its Services and Mission
Please donate to API's 2011 Annual Appeal today and help support an organization working every day to shift societies away from misguiding and hurtful parenting information toward parenting with secure and healthy attachment in mind. Read API's Accomplishments and Plans and its 2011 Annual Appeall to you and help us create a more compassionate world. Continuing API's work and mission is vital to the well being of our world's children and their parents.

Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

What We Learn before We're Born: TED Talk
Pop quiz: When does learning begin?
Answer: Before we are born.
Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks through new research that shows how much we learn in the womb - from the lilt of our native language to our soon-to-be-favorite foods.

Conception to Birth - Visualized: TED Talk
Image-maker Alexander Tsiaras shares a powerful medical visualization, showing human development from conception to birth and beyond. (Some graphic images.)

Delayed Cord Clamping Protects Newborn Babies from Iron Deficiency
Waiting at least three minutes before clamping the umbilical cord in healthy newborns improves their iron levels at four months.

Playing for Keeps: Play that Keeps Love, Creativity, and Belonging First - Register now for API Live with international play expert Fred Donaldson
Monday, January 23, 2012, at 9pm EST/6pm PST join API Live to learn about Original Play and how we can understand it as parents for fostering self-esteem, transformation, security, welcoming, adaptation and many more qualities for our children's development and health.

In 2010 Teen Birth Rate Hits Record Low and C-Sections Decline
The birth rate for U.S. teens aged 15–19 years hit a record low in 2010, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also reports the first decline in C-section rate in over a decade. See the full report.

Women with Low-Risk Pregnancies Can Safely Give Birth outside Hospitals with Midwives
A new study in England shows little difference in complications among the babies of women with low-risk pregnancies who delivered in hospitals versus those who gave birth with midwives at home or in birthing centers.

The Need to Bring Down Infant Mortality Rate Stressed
Newborn Care Week in Nagaland: Speaking as special guest, the Nagaland State Commission for Women chairperson stated that mothers need to be aware of whatever facilities were available for them so as to ensure healthy growth and development of their child. She pointed out that there are experts dealing with various factors that influence the healthy growth and development of babies, but as a mother herself, she stressed the importance of "human touch" in caring and nurturing children.

Responding with Sensitivity

Body Language Reveals "Empathy Gene"
An empathetic nod or smile may say something about your genes as well as your heart. A new study suggests empathetic body language and behavior are linked to a genetic variation associated with sociability.

Teaching Compassion to Kids ... and Defeating Bullying
As parents and professionals continue to address the problem of bullying among young people, experts advise that fostering compassion in young people is among the best ways to prevent verbal, physical, and emotional aggression from taking root.

A Mother's Touch May Protect against Drug Cravings Later
An attentive, nurturing mother may be able to help her children better resist the temptations of drug use later in life.

Conference on "Achieving Better Parenting for Our Children"
"Parenting towards Resilience" was the main theme discussed during a conference held recently in Malta, organized in collaboration with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing: Dangerous or Nurturing?
The city of Milwaukee set off a firestorm of controversy across the country with new posters its Health Department unveiled in its campaign to decrease the practice of bed-sharing. The ads show a baby in bed next to a butcher knife, with the claim that sleeping with a baby is just as dangerous. The ads will be displayed on the sides of buses and in other publicly visible spots across the city.

API Response to the Milwaukee Campaign
"The Milwaukee campaign uses a simplistic approach that ignores human nature and sets parents up for unsafe practices as they meet their baby's needs in the middle of the night. Parents feel forced to go against their instincts..."

Bed-Sharing and Co-Sleeping: Research Overview
This review considers babies’ sleep location at night, specifically parent-infant bed-sharing and/or co-sleeping. This is a baby care issue caught between two public health objectives, both aimed at preserving infant health and well-being – one being breastfeeding promotion, the other prevention of accidental death and SIDS. Advocates on both sides of the discussion have the interests of parents and babies at heart, but the messages are sometimes contradictory, causing confusion and anxiety for parents, health professionals, and parenting support organisations who sometimes feel caught in the cross-fire. Understanding that there is no single simple message that is appropriate for all families and all situations is an important component to understanding this issue and to helping families make informed choices.

When Babies Awaken: New Study Shows Surprise Regarding Important Hormone Level
"Psychological attunement," correlated cortisol levels between mothers and infants, was confirmed by recent research - and has important implications for a close, caring relationship between mother and child.

Also of Interest

Violent Video Games Alter Brain Function in Young Men
The controversy over whether or not violent video games are potentially harmful to players has been debated for many years, even making it as far as the Supreme Court in 2010. There has been little scientific evidence demonstrating that the games have a prolonged negative neurological effect ... until now.
"For the first time, we have found that a sample of randomly assigned young adults showed less activation in certain frontal brain regions following a week of playing violent video games at home," said one researcher. "The affected brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior."

Practice Positive Discipline

What's behind a Temper Tantrum? Scientists Deconstruct the Screams
Children's temper tantrums are widely seen as many things: the cause of profound helplessness among parents; a source of dread for airline passengers stuck next to a young family, a nightmare for teachers. But until recently, they had not been considered a legitimate subject for science.

Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

Human Development Experts Recommend Tuning in to Family, Not Devices
Combined with increasingly hectic work, school, and extracurricular schedules, the advent of wireless technology has led to less quality time between parents and children. Powering down digital devices is a vital step in maintaining family relationships and health.

Family Health Makes Moral and Economic Sense
"Millions of women - especially in the world's poorest countries - never get to hold a healthy baby in their arms. Although advances in vaccines, nutrition and family health have dramatically reduced the number of child deaths in the past 50 years, nearly 8 million children younger than 5 still die every year. For me, this number is unacceptable, because most of these deaths could be avoided.”

How Chronic Stress Short-Circuits Parenting
In the best of circumstances, raising a toddler is a daunting undertaking. But parents under long-term stress often find it particularly challenging to tap into the patience, responsiveness, and energy required for effective child rearing.


Dear Supporter,

I love Christmas. It was my favorite holiday as a kid. I remember the excruciating wait at Christmas Eve dinner as the adults lazily finished their coffee. I remember the joy of the ringing doorbell, announcing the arrival of another relative - or the excitement of loading up the car and driving for three hours in the cold in our drafty TravelAll. I remember the deliciously warm feeling of hanging ornaments on the tree with my family while listening to Christmas carols on the radio. I remember sitting with my sisters, huddled around the hi-fi, waiting to hear the update of where Santa was in his travels, and mentally seeing his progress and calculating (with my parents' help) how long it would take for him to reach us.

I still love Christmas as an adult, but things have changed from back in the sixties when I was a young child. These days I quickly lose patience with the bombardments of advertisers and the focus of getting gifts over spending time with family.

I got to thinking about how my kids view Christmas. Do they see it as a day to haul in a bunch of loot? Are they as jaded as I am and see it as just a big marketing opportunity? Do they enjoy it as much as I did, and for all the right reasons?

So this morning I asked my kids about their favorite memories of Christmas. What I heard was reassuring. It wasn't a listing of favorite gifts. Instead, it was excited discussions of traditions or surprises ... that one Christmas where Santa tied strings (a different color for each child) to the gifts under the tree so that the kids had to follow them to figure out which were theirs, the special tablecloth we use for our "fancy family dinner," the ongoing debate about which Christmas carols are the best, and the treasured tradition of everyone staying in their PJs all day (even Dad) on Christmas Day. Gifts were mentioned mostly when remembering the agonizing search for the perfect item or when a sibling took extra care to make just the right thing.

One thing that hasn't changed, though, is that, no matter your background or religious persuasion, this time of year is a time of gratitude. From the gratitude we express during Thanksgiving to the gratitude we feel for surviving one year and ringing in the next, our hearts are full of thanks.

One of the things I'm most grateful for is finding an organization that validated my instincts in parenting when I was a new parent. I started practicing Attachment Parenting before I knew such a thing existed, and without it I have no doubt that my children would have grown up to be less than what they are now. Because of Attachment Parenting, my children are trusting, self-confident, happy, independent, and firmly connected ... even as teens. Since I have only a few more years before my oldest goes off to college, I cherish more and more each and every holiday we spend together.

And it's because of a parenting strategy that we all know instinctually is right, and the benefits of which are being confirmed by more and more research every day. (Some of the articles this month are evidence of that!)

If you are as grateful as I am, please consider putting API on your Christmas list today and donate just a small gift of appreciation. Even $5 - less than the price of that peppermint mocha latte - will go toward furthering API's mission. Which is more important, a tasty treat that lasts ten minutes, or gift that will last forever in a child's life?

Whichever holiday or tradition you observe during this time of year, I wish you the best. Make memories, give lots of hugs, and be grateful for your family.


Here's big news from API Speaks' current Managing Editor, Melissa Hincha-Ownby:

API Speaks will be undergoing some big changes!

I am returning to school in
January to complete my Master's degree and will be stepping down as the Managing Editor of API's blog.

I'd like to thank you all for sharing your stories on the blog and I look forward to reading more in the coming weeks and months.

We'll miss you, Melissa! Thank you for all your hard work, and we hope you love graduate school!

The API volunteer page lists the API Speaks Editor position description and those interested are invited to apply.

This month we welcome three new Leaders to the family:
Korenna Barto, API of Santa Monica, California, Jennifer Salowitz, API of Saginaw, Michigan, and Jennifer Lukavic, API of Norman, Oklahoma. Welcome!

In this month's Links, we offer articles that will give you tangible info on how to help you in your parenting. Learn:
- why temper tantrums happen,
- how video games alter brain function,
- how compassion defeats bullying,
- how mom's touch protects against drug cravings, and
- how stress affects parenting.

Check 'em out!

Camille North,
API Links Editor

Please let us know what you like and what could be better about Links.

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Photo submissions for AP Month
by Ania Szabo, Bristol, UK, and
Becky McCartney from here.

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