Daddy took nighttime duty last night, so overnight he gave WZW a bottle of my pumped breast milk. I thought with him potentially waking up every 3 hours that I might be woken up as early as 4 am to breastfeed, but when I woke up to the clock saying 6:00 I was thrilled! Seven uninterrupted hours of sleep is unheard of these days, and I feel like a new person. Plus at 5 weeks, our little guy is gradually smiling more, so it warms our hearts to see this:
His outfit is courtesy of his uncle, who painted it during our baby shower onesie painting activity. Highly recommended baby shower activity, by the way. Just make sure you get onesies of varying sizes.
I came across this recently in my American Medical Association email:
Children born during summer months may be more likely to be healthy adults
Newsweek (10/13, Firger) reports that the study’s findings were “based on data collected on 450,000 men and women as part of the ongoing United Kingdom Biobank project, a database that tracks health and disease trends.” The study indicates that a pregnant woman’s “exposure to sunlight during the second trimester of a pregnancy may be critical to the development of a fetus.” Being exposed to the sun “helps the body produce vitamin D, an essential building block for good health.”
HealthDay (10/13, Dallas) reports that youngsters “born during the summer were slightly heavier at birth than children born in the winter,” and that “girls born in the summer were more likely to start puberty later.”
Now, I was born in January and spent the first five years of my life in the city of San Francisco before my parents moved us to the sunnier suburbs. For those unfamiliar, San Francisco weather is wacky. Even in the middle of the summer when the rest of the Bay Area is sunny and hot, the City itself, particularly in certain areas, can be foggy, overcast, and gray. If you ever come visit, bring layers! Despite not being a summer baby, I think I turned out ok.
But vitamin D has been a hot topic lately. There’s one doc in my department that’s all about vitamin and mineral supplements, for himself and his patients, and talks about a bunch of bad stuff that vitamin D deficiency causes. Mark Sisson, on his Mark’s Daily Apple website and in his books, often discusses the importance of spending time outdoors and specifically getting some sun.
It’s a balance- skin cancer is not to be taken lightly, as it is relatively common and can be deadly. And on a superficial level, too much sun can cause less desirable cosmetic effects. I myself spent years taking swimming lessons in the summer as a kid, then swam on the swim team in high school. I can’t remember at what point wearing sunscreen became a thing- it definitely wasn’t something we did when I was a young child, but by the time I was in high school in the ’90s, I was slathering it on. Despite that, hours of sun exposure during swim practice and meets resulted in dark spots showing up on my face once I hit my 30s.
But these days, I think we’ve gotten so afraid of the sun and are slathering on sunscreen to the point that we are missing out on the beneficial effects of the sun, including natural vitamin D production. And with our modern lifestyles, people aren’t getting outdoors often. So now the problem is that too many people are developing vitamin D deficiency.
Now that I’ve had a baby, I’ve learned that exclusively breastfed babies are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. The current recommendation is to supplement them once per day. Initially, we bought the standard infant drops at the hospital pharmacy made by Enfamil. When we got home and looked at the ingredients, we saw that like most infant supplements/medications, it was sweetened. In this case, it had glycerin and also artificial flavoring.
It was interesting seeing WZW’s response to the sweetened supplement. We thought, man, how easy would it be to use this stuff to calm our crying baby? Ultimately, we wanted to avoid his sugar exposure as much as possible, so we ended up finding another vitamin D supplement online made by Carlson. It uses coconut and palm oil, and although the dropper is a little tricky, WZW takes the drops just fine.
As an aside, since I’ve mentioned Enfamil which is one of the formula brands, it reminded me that Similac recently put out this hilarious video called The Mother ‘Hood:
I knew Mark Sisson had written a ton about getting sunlight and vitamin D in general, but I wondered if he had specifically addressed the issue with vitamin D and babies. Well sure enough, he did in June 2015 in response to a reader’s question. Turns out that reader found vitamin D supplementation to be a new recommendation for her baby, which was not the case when she had her 4 year-old:
Basically, the 400 IU of vitamin D that’s in my prenatal vitamins (which I’ve still continued since I’m breastfeeding) is probably enough to pass through my breast milk, but not for sure. Particularly if WZW and I aren’t getting enough sun.
Mark Sisson says that increased supplementation for mom is also an option, as is exposing the infant to sunlight:
“Infants aren’t going to burn up because of a minute or two of full sun exposure. Make it a bonding experience. Strip down to your skivvies (the both of you, and bring the other parent along, too) and flop down in the sun. Expose every nook and cranny. Return inside or cover up when the little one’s skin starts to feel warm to the touch. Avoid pinkness. A study from 1985 found that just 30 minutes of full sun per week wearing a diaper was enough to keep vitamin D levels topped off in exclusively breastfed infants — it really doesn’t take much more than five or six minutes a day.”
Of course, if you live in Iceland and it’s the middle of winter, good luck trying to go outside naked. Ultimately, like most things with parenting, it’s going to be a matter of personal choice. And in this case, factors like where you live and how easily you can get sunlight if you want it. I’ll probably do something in between- continue to give WZW the vitamin D drops on the days we remember, but also have him get in a little sunshine regularly as well. And as for me, I’ll continue to religiously slather my face with sunscreen to ward off the wrinkles and age spots.