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She Wrote the Book on Bringing Home Baby

March 6, 2018
By Leanne Italie - Associated Press , OVParent

Bringing a newborn home is a daunting for most new parents. Throw in the race to keep up with the latest news and research on what to do after that, and stress levels rise even higher.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician in Calabasas, Calif., professor and an American Academy of Pediatrics spokeswoman, provides answers to parents' top 150 questions in a new book, "Baby & Toddler Basics," out last month from the AAP.

Here's a look at some updates over the last few years:

Article Photos


In her practice, Altmann starts babies on all sorts of healthy foods around 6 months of age. She rarely starts with white rice cereal anymore.

"I usually start with avocado and veggies. I try to get in some healthy fats like nut butters and fish, and all sorts of healthy things that parents used to say, 'Oh my gosh, why would I feed that to my baby?' But the truth is that babies need good nutrition. It helps form their palates at a young age. They don't need empty white carbohydrates that get them used to bland things," Altmann said.

Altmann cautioned parents to make sure foods are forms babies can handle to avoid choking hazards. More often than not, that means a liquid or puree, she said.


There have been dramatic improvements in reducing baby deaths during sleep since the 1990s, when recommendations were introduced to place babies on their backs for sleep, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. However, since the late '90s, declines have slowed, the CDC said.

About 3,500 sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome and suffocation, among U.S. babies occur each year, the center said, with 22 percent of mothers reporting they do not place their babies on their backs to sleep, as recommended.

In addition, 39 percent of mothers reported using soft bedding, which is not recommended, when putting babies down to sleep.

Other recommended safe sleep practices today include eliminating hazards altogether, including keeping blankets, pillows, bumper pads and soft toys out of cribs and bassinets.

Recommendations also include room sharing but not bed sharing.


Yes. After the first tooth erupts, a little bit of fluoride for infants is important for promoting dental health, Altmann said.

"We used to recommend just brushing with plain water or fluoride-free toothpaste until children could spit on their own. The more recent guidelines (dating to 2014) are to use just a tiny, tiny smear of fluoride, like the size of a grain of rice, on your baby's toothbrush," she said.


Rear-facing remains the safest, Altmann said, but previously the recommendation - and the law in most states - was until at least a year, when "everyone would flip their child around."

Now the research shows a child should remain rear-facing in a car seat until age 2 or older, she said.

"You should keep them rear-facing for as long as possible because it's really the safest way to ride," Altmann said.


Altmann's best advice: "Don't let the number freak you out."

For babies over 3 months old, the number may not matter as much, she said. Parents know their babies best and must take into account all symptoms, not just a thermometer reading, Altmann said.

"Treat the child, not the number," she said.

In babies younger than 3 months, any temperature reading of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher should prompt a call to a pediatrician, she said. For infants 3 to 6 months, it's 102 degrees or higher, Altmann said. For babies older than 6 months, it's 104 degrees or higher.

In terms of thermometers, the "gold standard" for newborn remains rectal devices, she said. For older kids, length of fevers, extended loss of fluids or trouble breathing should mean a trip to the doctor, Altmann said.



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