Want your baby to start talking sooner? Try buying a backward-facing stroller. New studies from the University of Dundee in Scotland have found that caregivers talk to infants more when the kids face them in strollers. Researchers observed how mothers behaved with infants in two kinds of strollers – one in which babies sit facing away from the mother, and one in which babies sit facing the mother. The result: Moms talk to their kids twice as much when facing them. This means more language development and social interaction.
Still, the researchers emphasize that it’s not just about using a particular kind of stroller, but about how babies experience their environment and how parents should make the most of every opportunity to talk and play with their infants. Here’s a shocker: Watching TV isn’t as bad for babies as you might think. In fact, it doesn’t seem to have either negative or positive effects on infants’ language or visual motor skills, according to a study published in the US medical journal Pediatrics. So go ahead, don’t feel guilty about plopping baby in front of the tube. As long as the TV-watching is done in moderation, of course; there’s plenty of other evidence to show a link between obesity, poor sleep, and attention problems with being a junior couch potato. Take your vitamins! Yet more news about the importance of prenatal vitamins for moms-to-be. New research finds that women with low levels of vitamin B12 just before and after conceiving were up to five times likelier to have a baby with a congenital defect. (Folic acid, also a B vitamin, has already been established as an important prenatal vitamin that prevents neural defects.) Who’s at the highest risk for having low vitamin B12 levels? Women who eat little meat or animal-based food. And don’t forget, some major health organizations, like the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in the US, are advocating the idea of “preconception health” for all women of childbearing age, since by some estimates, half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Photograph from Qole Pejorian of Flickr.