Anyone a fan of the New Yorker Caption Contest?

On May 28, 2013, in Blog, by Bellybuds

New Yorker Cartoon







Bellybuds founder, Curtis Williams, is a finalist this week for the cartoon above – and it’s a pregnancy related caption to boot!  What would your caption be?  If you want to see his caption and vote on which one you think is the best, click here.


Fetal Recall?–Memory in Utero

On May 21, 2013, in Blog, Research, by Bellybuds

Fetuses demonstrate a primitive form of memory

By Karen Springen

Original article here

photo of baby in utero at seven weeks swimming pictures womb photos

When does memory begin? We can’t consciously call up images from our infancy, but we surely learn important, lasting associations at very early ages. New work suggests this type of memory begins even in the womb.

In a study published in July in Child Development, researchers from the Netherlands reported short-term memory in 30- to 38-week-old fetuses. First they put a vibrating, honking device on the abdomens of 93 preg­nant women. The fetuses quickly “habituated”—that is, they figured out that the noise was not dangerous. When they heard it again 10 minutes later, they did not squirm and their heart rates did not escalate. “It’s like getting used to a New York train sta­tion,” says lead author J. G. Nijhuis, a professor of obstetrics at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. “It is a learning capability to distinguish safe from unsafe stimuli. It is a primitive form of memory.”

The 34-week-old fetuses even recalled the sound four weeks later. “What this study clearly says is at least beginning at 30 weeks and pos­sibly before that, the fetal brain is starting to lay down short-term memo­ries and might even be laying down some long-term memories,” says Rahil Briggs, director of Healthy Steps at Montefiore Medical Center and assis­tant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “This is a sensitive period of development.”

Fetuses habituate in other ways, too. Substance-abusing moms give birth to drug-addicted babies. A study found that the babies of mothers who watch a popular Spanish-language soap opera while pregnant calm down when they hear the show’s theme music. And anecdotally, some dads who read to fetuses in the womb think their babies are born recognizing their voices, says pediatrician Tanya Remer Altmann, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The bottom line: be conscientious around the baby-to-be. “The environ­ment in utero, and extra utero, is very important,” says pediatrician Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Develop­ment at Seattle Children’s Hospital. After all, the brain triples in size in the first two years of life. And perhaps even younger fetuses develop memories—researchers will investigate that pos­sibility next.


The Youngest and the Restless?

On May 13, 2013, in Blog, Research, by Bellybuds

Unstoppable Learning – TED Radio Hour

Learning is an integral part of human nature. But why do we — as adults — assume learning must be taught, tested and reinforced? Why do we put so much effort into making kids think and act like us? In this hour, TED speakers explore the ways babies and children learn, from the womb to the playground to the Web.

Start at the 15:00 mark and listen until they talk about how newborn babies were able to recognize the theme song to the soap opera that the moms watched while pregnant:)


How Singing to Babies Makes Them Healthier

On April 30, 2013, in Blog, Research, by Bellybuds
singingBy Ross McGuinness
Original Post here 

Of course, generations of parents have known the soothing effect of song on their infants, but now there is some solid evidence to back it up.

Researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York have found that premature babies react positively to music made to replicate the sounds they heard when they were in the womb. In addition, their health also improved when parents engaged in the simple act of singing to them.

The study examined the effects of music over a two-year period on 272 premature babies aged 32 weeks or older across 11 neonatal intensive care units in US hospitals.

It found that music helped the babies sleep, breathe and feed better and also lowered their heart rates and made them more alert.

Three different musical methods were used in the study. Firstly, parents were asked to sing a lullaby, such as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, or a ‘song of kin’ – a tune that means something specific to them – to their baby. On several occasions, this involved taking a well-known pop song and modifying it to make it sound more like a lullaby.

Among the songs chosen by parents in the study were Eight Days A Week by The Beatles, I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye and Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone by The Temptations.

The second intervention involved an ‘ocean disc’ instrument, containing metal beads, which is designed to imitate the sounds the baby would have heard in the womb.

Thirdly, a device called a ‘gato box’ was played to create a rhythm that would replicate a mother’s heartbeat – a sound the baby would have also heard before it was born.

After using all three methods, researchers looked at babies vital signs and found marked improvement.

Dr Joanne Loewy, director of Beth Israel’s Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine and the leader of the study, told Metro that the ocean disc helped babies sleep for longer and the gato box enhanced sucking behaviour.

‘We found the lullaby to be very helpful, particularly in relaxing the heartbeat,’ she added.

‘The qualities of music in a lullaby are important for a baby. They’re slow, they’re lilting, they’re repetitive.’

She said Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’s universal melody meant lullabies like the alphabet song (‘Now I know my ABCs’) and Baa, Baa, Black Sheep – all three are variations of the old French folk song, ‘Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman’ – also worked well when sung to infants.

With more contemporary songs, music therapists helped the parents change the meter to make it more lilting, while also removing some words from the original and putting the baby’s name in there instead.

‘We wanted to break down the components of music to see which elements of music could help a baby physiologically,’ explained Dr Loewy.

‘We wanted to know what genre of music is most therapeutic for the parents and the baby because we know that the continuity of care for an infant is long beyond the hospital bed.’

As well as benefitting the babies, music also helped the parents to relieve stress, the study found.

‘If you calm the parents, the baby feels the effects,’ said Dr Loewy.

She compared the baby following its mother’s heartbeat to a classical musician tracking the conductor’s baton in an orchestra.

‘The heartbeat is the first sound the baby hears,’ she said. ‘It’s the first sound humans hear in the womb and it’s not just any old heartbeat – they hear someone else’s heartbeat. The first step of regulation for a human being is that rhythm.’

The results of the study show that music has an important role to play in a baby’s development both before and after it has left the womb.

‘What it means, at the very least, is that doctors and nurses in hospitals will see music and music therapy as a non-invasive healthy intervention,’ said Dr Loewy.

‘These musical interventions are cost-effective, they’re safe and they can have physiological effects which influence babies’ development. That means shorter hospital days and that means safer, more attuned care that includes the parents – not just putting the baby in an incubator.’

Tina Warnock is a trustee at the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT). There are about 700 music therapists in Britain helping children, old people, young people with autism and people with learning disabilities.

She said: ‘I think it’s great that there’s a piece of research that supports the work which has been going on for quite some time. There are whole books on the subject, it’s just that actual large-scale research like that is difficult to achieve. We hope it will support development of music therapy in this country.’

She added: ‘Music connects with instinctive aspects of all of us. Babies have hearing in place much earlier than birth, so with premature babies that’s one of the few things that they can connect with right back to the mother’s heartbeat.

‘There is research that shows babies are naturally attracted to voices, particularly their mothers’ voices. In the womb, they hear their mothers’ voices from inside so they are able to recognise that voice when they come out.’

A study at the beginning of this year by Pacific Lutheran University in Washington state found that newborn babies can tell the difference between the language their mother speaks and a foreign tongue, illustrating that they listen closely while in the womb.

Singing is said to be a vital way in which parents can help their children avoid language problems later in life.

Professor Graham Welch, chairman of music education at the Institute of Education, University of London, said singing keeps us fit as it is a form of exercise. Singing also helps brain function and co-ordination, he said, as well as being a cathartic activity that builds self-confidence.

The BAMT is organising Music Therapy Week between June 8 and 15 – the campaign will let people know how music can change lives.

National music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins delivers more than 50,000 sessions a year in care homes, day centres, hospitals, schools and its own centres, usually helping people with autism, dementia and learning difficulties.

Its annual fundraising event, the Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards, takes place this year on June 28 at the London Hilton hotel. Singer-songwriter and producer Labrinth will be given the American Express Innovation Award at the ceremony.

The awards have been supported in the past by artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, David Bowie and Annie Lennox.


Bellybuds Featured on The Katie Show!

On April 24, 2013, in Blog, by Bellybuds

katieshowWe here at Bellybuds were very excited to learn that we would be featured on The Katie Show, with Katie Couric, as part of her ‘April Showers’ baby shower gift show! The audience was entirely made up of expectant mamas who were lucky to receive every cool pregnancy product featured on the show, including Bellybuds! If you missed it, and would like to watch the clip- you can catch it here:


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