Could breastfeeding reduce childhood obesity? New study seems to say so

A new study of 2553 mother-baby pairs in Canada looked at body mass index of infants at 12 months and how they were fed.  The study will be published in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ journal “Pediatrics.”

What they found is that babies who were exclusively fed breast milk for at least three months had a lower BMI than babies who were given mainly formula. The introduction of solid food before six months didn’t seem to matter, and if a mother supplemented a little bit with formula while in the hospital, that didn’t matter as long as she established exclusive breastfeeding afterwards.

Breastfeeding at the breast can reduce the baby’s BMI at 12 months.

What did matter, interestingly, is how the breast milk was delivered to the baby. Mothers who exclusively fed at the breast had babies with lower BMIs than baby’s who received expressed breast milk in a bottle. Regardless of how they got the breast milk, breastfed babies had lower BMI than formula-fed babies.

Is your child in the right car seat? New guidelines to check

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its guidelines on car seats in one pretty significant way.

Instead of children being in rear-facing seats until they turn 2, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that children stay in rear-facing seats as long as possible until they meet the upper number for that seat’s height or weight limits. That means that most children will outgrow that rear-facing seat anywhere from age 2 to age 5, but there could be some kids who are older than age 5 who are still in rear-facing seats because of their size.

Why make the change?

It’s all based on analysis of trauma data from car crashes, which is the No. 1 cause of death for children age 4 and older.

Children who were in rear-facing car seats had fewer injuries and a decreased chance of death than kids in forward-facing car seats.

Why is that? Kristen Hullum, a nurse and trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, says that it’s all about avoiding head, neck and spine injuries. Young children have immature spines and necks and are also head-heavy, she says. The rear-facing seats prevent more movement of the head, neck and spine than forward-facing ones.

“My 5 year old is petite,” Hullum says. “I still have her rear-facing. That might have seemed pretty conservative to many people, but this justifies it,” she says of the new recommendations.

Get your car seat professional installed and inspected each time you get a new one. 2007 Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

Here is the progression of where and in what your child should sit in the car:

  1. Rear-facing infant carrier in the back seat (or convertible rear-facing car seat if it’s weight range is low enough for an infant) until the child outgrows the height or weight limit for that carrier, which is typically anywhere from 22 pounds to 35 pounds. For infant carriers, that usually happens around age 1, but it could be later.
  2. Rear-facing car seat in the back seat until the child outgrows the height or weight limit for that seat. That could happen any time from age 2 to 5 or even later depending on the upper limits for that seat, which can be 40 to 50 pounds or even more.
  3. Forward-facing car seat with a harness in the back seat until the child outgrows the upper height and weight limit, which could be anywhere from 65 to 90 pounds. The forward-facing seat should be tethered to the car.
  4. A booster seat in the back seat that raises the child up so that the car’s seat belt fits the child properly until the child is 4 foot 9 inches tall and outgrows the upper limits for that booster, usually around 100 pounds. That could happen anytime between age 8 and age 12. It’s Texas law that children younger than 8 ride in a booster seat or car seat.
  5. In the back seat using the car’s seat belt once they have reached the upper limit of the booster seat’s height and weight limits until age 13.
  6. In the front seat, only after age 13, but also tall enough and heavy enough to not be injured by the air bag. That’s at least 4 foot 9 inches and 100 pounds. Even though it’s hard for preteens to want to be in the back seat, it’s about safety. Airbags inflate at 200 miles an hour, Hullum says.” If that air bag hits them in their face, there’s a significant brain injury,” she says. “The air bag should be at somebody’s chest.”
Kristen Hullum, trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, teaches a class to teachers. American-Statesman 2017

There are other recommendations and guidelines that parents should know.

  • Get your child seat professionally installed each time you get a new one. Hospitals and county Emergency Medical Services offer car seat checks that you can sign up to attend.
  • When picking a car seat, the most expensive one is not necessarily the best one. They all have to pass the same federal guidelines. It’s more of a question of which one has the fanciest cup holders.
  • If you can’t afford a car seat, your pediatrician or any car seat check location should be able tell you how to get a free one.
  • Car seats do have expiration dates that are usually between six and 10 years. They wear out with use.
  • Once a car seat has been in an accident, it is no longer safe to use. Car insurance companies will reimburse you for the cost of the new one.
  • Unless you know the complete history of that car seat, do not buy or receive a used one.
  • If you have a truck that only has a front-seat, you can install a car seat in the passenger seat, but you have to make sure the air bag is turned off.
  • Rear-facing car seats could be a problem for toddlers and preschoolers who get motion sickness. If that’s the case, talk to your pediatrician about what medications or techniques they recommend.

For parents who might be thinking that their 5-year-old is never going to see the world around her if she’s still in a rear-facing seat, Hullum says, not to worry. Her 5-year-old can easily remind her if she’s passed a Chic-Fil-A.

Car seat checks

9-11 a.m. Sept. 7, Dell Children’s Medical Center, 4900 Mueller Blvd.

9 a.m. Sept. 10, CommUnity Care Clinic, 211 Comal St.

9 a.m.-noon, Sept. 13,  Williamson County Emergency Medical Services, 1781 E. Old Settler Blvd, Round Rock

2-5 p.m. Sept. 13, Elgin Fire Station, 111 N. Avenue C, Elgin

9-11 a.m. Sept. 17, H-E-B Mueller, 1801 E. 51 St.

9 a.m. Sept. 19, Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane

9 a.m.-noon Sept. 29, St. David’s Emergency Center, 601 St. David’s Loop, Leander. Free car seats will be available at this event.

9 A.M. Oct. 2, Dove Springs Recreation Center, 5801 Ainez Drive

9-11 a.m. Oct. 5, Dell Children’s Medical Center, 4900 Mueller Blvd.

9 a.m. Oct. 9, CommUnity Care Clinic, 211 Comal St.

9 a.m.-noon, Oct. 11, Williamson County Emergency Medical Services, 1781 E. Old Settler Blvd., Round Rock

9-11 a.m. Oct. 15, H-E-B Mueller, 1801 E. 51 St.

9 a.m. Oct. 17, Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 E. Rundberg Lane

Call 512-943-1264 to register for an appointment with St. David’s or Williamson County EMS. Call 512-324-8687 to register for an appointment in Elgin, Dell Children’s Medical Center or H-E-B. Call 512-972-7233 for CommUnity Care Clinic and recreation centers.

CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card gives us some hope for healthier babies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card. How is the U.S. and Texas doing when it comes to reaching the Healthy People 2020 goals that were established in 2010 by this committee that has representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Education.

In many areas, we’re meeting those goals. 83.2 percent of infants in the U.S. have been breastfed at least once. (the goal was 81.9 percent). We’ve also more than met the proportion of infants who are breastfed at a year (35.9 percent are); and the percentage at three months (46.9 percent are). The six-month mark we didn’t quite hit the mark in infants who are breast fed (57.6 percent vs. the goal of 60.6 percent) or those that are exclusively breastfed at that time (24.9 percent vs. the goal of 25.5 percent). We also didn’t do as well as hoped in the percentage of infants given formula before 2 days old (17.2 percent instead of 14.2 percent).

That six-month mark is important because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are exclusively breastfed the first six months and then it becomes a part of the diet as food is introduced. 

How did Texas do when it came to these numbers?

  • 85.0 percent of infants were ever breastfed
  • 56.6 percent were breastfeeding at 6 months
  • 35.2 percent were breastfeeding at 12 months
  • 48.0 percent were exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months
  • 24.1 percent were exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months
  • 18.3 percent of infants were given formula before 2 days of age

RELATED: What can pediatricians do to encourage breastfeeding?

What can you do to encourage a new mom to breastfeed?

  • Make sure she checks out what kind of support she’ll receive at her hospital when it comes to lactation consulting. Hint: It’s usually 3 a.m. when you need a consultant. Babies feed just great from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • She can also ask the hospital what percentage of their infants are given formula vs. babies that are exclusively breastfed while there.
  • Feed her. Bring her healthy meals and plenty of water.
  • Offer to take care of her other child, help around the house or hold the baby while she takes a nap.
  • If she’s a work colleague, link her to another mom who has been pumping at work, who can help her make the transition back to work easier.
  • Link her to your local La Leche League. 
  • Connect her to Mothers’ Milk Bank to become a milk donor. 
  • Realize that sometimes there are reasons why breastfeeding wasn’t the right choice for that mom and baby and do not pass judgement.

RELATED: Doctor wants you to stop feeling guilty about no breastfeeding.

RELATED: Does breastfeeding reduce your risk of breast cancer?

RELATED: Does breastfeeding reduce your risk of endometrial cancer?

Where’s the best state to have a baby? Hint: It’s not Texas

Want to live in the best state to have a baby? Move to Vermont. Think you live in the worst state to have a baby? That’s Mississippi. That’s according to a new study by financial services company WalletHub.

Here’s how Texas ranked:

46th in midwives and obstetrician/gynecologists per capita

36th in pediatricians and family doctors per capita

37th in parental leave policy

29th in hospital Cesarean-delivery charges

28th in hospital vaginal-delivery charges

19th in infant mortality rate

28th in low birth weight

10th in annual cost of early child care

26th in child-care centers per capita

What does all this mean to Texas moms? It means that they might have to travel farther to see a midwife or OB/GYN or go to a pediatrician or family doctor than people in other states.

The Economist also came up with another interesting statistic: delivering a baby in the U.S. costs about $10,808, part of the total of about $30,000 for before and after birth care. Most people with insurance pay about $3,000 in hospital delivery costs after insurance. Many women in Europe have birth and delivery available for free by their country’s medical care system. Then if they want an upgrade of a private room in a luxury hospital, they might pay an additional fee. Duchess Kate spent about $8,900 for her private room in the St. Mary’s Hospital in London.



Shopping for back to school this tax-free weekend? Pick up diapers for Austin Diaper Bank

Tax-free weekend is almost here. Friday-Sunday, you can get most clothing and school supplies tax-free. That’s an 8.25 percent savings.

You know what you can also get? Diapers, both ones for babies and ones for adults.

RELATED: What’s tax-free this weekend and what’s not

The Austin Diaper Bank needs your diapers. AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

The Austin Diaper Bank would be happy to have your donation. Right now, they particularly need size 5 and size 6, but they’ll take any size diapers and they’ll take ones for adults, too.

“While diaper donations slow during the summer, the need does not,” said Holly McDaniel, executive director of the Austin Diaper Bank, in a press release. “If we can’t replenish some of our supplies, some of our neighbors in Central Texas may not get the diapers they need to keep babies or other family members clean, dry and healthy during these hot months.”

You can drop diapers off at these locations:

Whole Foods Downtown (Outdoor Bin)
525 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

5555 N. Lamar Blvd. Suite C127
In PS Business Park

Austin Diaper Bank Warehouse (Outdoor Bin)
8711 Burnet Road, back of Building B, 78757

BabyEarth (Outdoor Bin)
106 E. Old Settlers Blvd.
Just east of I-35 in Round Rock
Store hours: M-Sat 9-8 and Sun 11-6

Big Sky Pediatric Therapy
9433 Bee Caves Road, Suite 101
Near Laura Bush Library at Cuernavaca
Store hours: M-F 8-5

College Nannies + Tutors
3736 Bee Caves Road, Suite 3
In Walgreens shopping center
Store hours: M-Th 10-8, F 10-4, Sun 11-4

Dance Xplosion
9600 Escarpment Blvd. Suite 750
By Starbucks
Store hours: M, T, TH, F: 9-12, 3-7, W: 3-8, Sat. 8:30-12:30

Evans Family Dental
9001 Brodie Lane
Right behind Jet’s Pizza
Hours: M-Th 7:30-4

101B Pecan Street W.
In Pflugerville
Store hours: M-Sat 10-7 and Sun 12-6

Kid to Kid Austin
14010 N. U.S. 183, Suite 420
By Barnes and Noble and Texas Land and Cattle
Store hours: M-Sat 10-7 and Sun 12-5

Special Addition
7301 Burnet Road
Across from Ichiban
Store hours: M-Fri 10-6 and Sat 10-5

Wells Branch Community Library
15001 Wells Port Drive
Austin, TX 78728
Hours: M-Thurs 10-8, Sat 10-6 and Sun 1-6

If you don’t want to mess with the stores, you also can shop the bank’s Amazon wish list. 

Find out more about the bank at

Dell Children’s becomes 11th hospital in the country to earn highest level for surgery

Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas is the 11th children’s hospital in the country to be verified by the American College of Surgeons as a Level I Children’s Surgery Center. It earned the certification by meeting the highest criteria in the college’s new Children’s Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program.

The program will help the hospital to continue to improve the quality of surgical care and ensure it is following the highest standards of care.

“I’m a mom,” said Dell Children’s chief surgeon Dr. Nilda Garcia. “One of the things I fear most is anything happening to my child. For me, being a mom, it means this hospital has gone above and beyond in their care of my child.”

Related: A day in the life of Dell Children’s chief surgeon Dr. Nilda Garcia

Dr. Nilda Garcia is the chief surgeon at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. The hospital received a Level I certification by the American College of Surgeons. Only one other Texas hospital has achieved this level of certification. Seton

Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston is the only other hospital in Texas to receive this verification.

Dell Children’s had to meet strict criteria and send a lot of data to the verification team over the course of about a year. Three doctors representing the college came to Austin in late April to verify Dell Children’s had met the criteria.

To meet this certification level, Dell Children’s had to make some changes. It joined the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, which requires sending a lot of data about procedures, outcomes and complications to the college. The college gives feedback about how Dell Children’s compares to other hospitals in the country.

The hospital also created an office specifically to look at surgical quality, what kinds of criteria it should establish, why certain cases fell out of that criteria and how the hospital can improve.

Dave Golder, who is the director of the surgical quality program at Dell Children’s, says the hospital has reduced the number of CT scans it uses to diagnose things such as an appendicitis, instead relying on a physical exam by a doctor and an ultrasound by someone trained in detecting an appendicitis to diagnose one. This reduces radiation exposure to kids. Staff have reduced the number of Foley catheters used in surgeries, which reduces the risk of infections, and have reduced the amount of blood transfusions given.

Golder says he’s most proud of how the hospital outperformed other hospitals in preventable harm events such as sepsis, surgical infections and urinary tract infections following surgeries.

“Standardized care is a cultural thing and it has taken off (at Dell Children’s) in the last five or six years,” Garcia says. “The interest in adhering to (criteria) has been remarkable really.”

Going forward, the hospital is working on how it controls patients’ pain to reduce the amount of opioids given, as well as reducing the amount of unnecessary antibiotics given. It’s also working on how to implement Enhanced Recovery After Surgery programs that will do things such as give carbohydrates to patients before surgery, get patients moving quicker after surgery and shorten the length of stay after surgery.

RELATED: St. David’s surgery recovery program reduces the amount of opioids, hospital stay

Dell Children’s will continue to submit data every year to the college and will be reverified for the Level I certification every three years.

“We are maturing,” says Garcia, “and this is a step toward that.”

Should women still use baby powder after Johnson & Johnson lawsuit?

Last week, a jury in Missouri awarded 22 women $4.7 billion in a case that linked Johnson & Johnson baby powder to asbestos and ovarian cancer. 

The company announced it would appeal and issued this statement:

“Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies,” spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said.

Ingredients in baby powder have been linked legally to ovarian cancer. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What does this mean to women who use baby powder as a moisture absorber in delicate areas?

Dr. Angela Kueck, gynecologic oncologist with St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and Texas Oncology, says she definitely has patients asking her about the case and other cases and baby powder, and she has patients with ovarian cancer who believe the baby powder they used might be the cause, but she cautions them, “In reality, it’s hard to link each individual case,” she says.

The problem with baby powder seemed to be the talc that was in it through the 1970s. (Talc is still found in makeup and other products.) The talc or talcum powder would be sucked up and doctors would find talc crystals inside women.

Dr. Angela Kueck is a gynecologic oncologist with St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and Texas Oncology.

The research isn’t there to indicate how much baby powder over how many years would cause cancer, she says. “The data,” she says, “is not really strong.”

Even though there still are questions about the link to baby powder and ovarian cancer and even though talc is no longer in most baby powders, should you still use it?

Kueck says you can use baby powder, but look for powders that are pure corn starch, or have baking powder or baking soda or are specifically made for that area. Anti-fungal powders can work, too. Avoid using anything with fragrance because that can irritate the area.

Also, don’t use home remedies, Vasoline or deodorant. “In reality, if it’s not for that area, it doesn’t go down there,” she says. Anything you put there can ascend inside you, she says.

The purpose of the powders is to avoid excess moisture because that can lead to yeast infections on the skin, which can be painful. Moisture in that area especially in the summer can be an issue.

If you are finding that you’re needing to use a powder every day for more than two weeks, you should be having a conversation with your doctor about why that is, she says. There could be something happening medically that needs to be addressed in a different way.





Can dogs make pregnant women sick like cats can?

For a long time, we’ve known that cats (specifically their poop) can carry toxoplasmosis, which can infect pregnant women and their fetus. It could affect the eyes or the brain of the baby. We’ve been telling pregnant women to have someone else in the house deal with the kitty litter. Pregnant women everywhere were happy to heed this advice.

What about dogs, birds and farm animals? Would the same caution about pregnant women avoiding feces be true?

Pregnant dogs and puppies can be carriers of a disease that could cause miscarriages in women or preterm labor. Nicole Villalpando

Recently, there have been a few cases of pregnant women or children contacting a disease from dogs — specifically pregnant dogs or newborn puppies. You see, mama dogs, or wannabe mama dogs in heat, can carry a disease called brucellosis. They also can pass it onto their puppies through the birth canal. Humans tend to get it by handling newborn puppies or helping in the delivery of the puppies.

Dr. Sina Haeri, director of perinatal research and co-director of maternal fetal medicine at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas, says brucellosis can cause people to have a fever, joint weakness and fatigue. In pregnant women, they could miscarry if they are in the first trimester. Later on, they have a higher risk of preterm labor and stillbirth. Doctors will want to monitor their cervix closely for signs of preterm labor and the fetus throughout the pregnancy. We don’t have enough data about birth defects from brucellosis, Haeri says.

Contacting brucellosis from dogs, though, is rare. In Haeri’s career here, where he also works in the Marble Falls and Fredericksburg area, and in rural North Carolina, he has seen seven cases. None of them from dogs. Instead, they have happened after a pregnant woman helps a mama sheep, goat or cow deliver their babies. His most recent case was a mama goat biting her pregnant human helper during labor. (See goats don’t handle labor well, either.)

The good thing about brucellosis is it is avoidable in most farm animals because they can be vaccinated against it. Also avoid it by not performing those birthing and breeding activities during pregnancy.  In dogs, though rare, pregnant women also should not handle dogs giving birth or their newborn puppies.

Brucellosis is not something that doctors will screen for, so if you are pregnant and have been exposed to birthing farm animals or dogs, let your doctor know about that if you have a weird fever or joint pain. The treatment would be a six-week course of a two antibiotics.

Toxoplasmosis from cats is much more of a concern. Haeri calls it, “the bane of my existence” and the No. 1 reason why women get referred to him by their obstetricians. The screening for toxoplasmosis comes with a lot of false positives. If you have a negative reading, you can be sure it is negative. If you have a positive one, don’t panic, don’t make any drastic decisions, you might not have it and your baby might not have it. See a specialist for further screening.

Haeri encourages women to exercise good caution. Most indoor-only cats are probably fine; outdoor cats are typically the carriers of toxoplasmosis. If you cannot get someone else to do the kitty litter, wear a mask, gloves and wash your hands afterwards.

He also encourages pregnant women to avoid bird droppings as well because of parrot fever aka psittacosis. It gives women flu-like symptoms.

A good rule–  no matter what the pet — is to practice good hygiene and have someone else deal in the droppings during pregnancy. Haeri also says why not throw in the dishes and cleaning the house, too?

Hop on the Breast Express at Mothers’ Milk Bank, IBM to learn more about breastfeeding

The Breast Express is coming to Austin. On Monday, the traveling RV by breast-feeding support app PumpSpotting will be at IBM in North Austin, which PumpSpotting is recognizing for being a supportive company for employees who are lactating.

Woman breastfeeding baby. Getty Images

RELATED: When nursing moms want to work, IBM makes it easier for its employees 

At IBM from 10-11:00 a.m. Monday, the Breast Express will be offering families breastfeeding support, demonstrations of infant massage, babywearing and fitness. From 11 -11:30 a.m., a panel of local breastfeeding resources will offer tips and information on how to get more support.

Carlie Bower sits in one of the individual rooms in a Mother’s Room at IBM. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman

On Tuesday, the Breast Express heads over to the new Mothers’ Milk Bank location, 5925 Dillard Circle, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mothers’ will be giving tours of the bank’s milk-processing labs. You can also see the Breast Express Pump Suite, where you can try different pumps; hear from experts, and learn how donating milk can help premature and medically-fragile babies.

Experts include Kim Updegrove, Mothers’ Milk Bank executive director; Amy Van Haren, founder of PumpSpotting; Angie Liuzza and Christine Snowden, donor milk recipient family; Megan Frocke, milk donor and PumpSpotting user, and  Megan Oertel, nursing mom, breastfeeding advocate and representing mother-friendly employer Sparefoot.

Katrina Hunt mixes milk from several donors at the Mothers’ Milk Bank in Austin. The bank has a new location and can process twice as much milk as its earlier locations. American-Statesman 2010

RELATED: New Mothers’ Milk Bank site will be able to process twice as much milk

Last year, the bank donated more than 5 million ounces, a record. 

More kids are taking vitamins than a decade ago, but do they do any good?

Every morning you make your kids breakfast and that breakfast includes a multivitamin in chewable or gummy form. You think, “Hey, even if they aren’t eating as many of the fruits and vegetables the food pyramid might recommend, at least this is something healthy we’re doing.” Right?

Well, it turns out that you wouldn’t be alone. According to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics,  a third of U.S. children and adolescents would say they “had taken any vitamins, minerals, herbals or other dietary supplements in the last 30 days.” And the use of alternative or herbal supplements has almost doubled from 3.7 percent to 6. 3 percent from 2003-2004 to 2013-2014.

As Cookie Monster is learning, real fruit and vegetables are good for you. Sesame Workshop,Richard Termine

It had us wondering, do kids even need a multivitamin or other dietary supplement on a regular basis?

The answer for most kids is no, says Dr. Steven Abrams, professor of pediatrics at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. Abrams was the lead author of the recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics last year that told parents to avoid giving children younger than 1 fruit juice.

“Most kids, if they take a supplement like a standard daily vitamin, it won’t cause any harm,” Abrams says. “For the most part, it probably won’t do any good, either.”

Dr. Steve Abrams is the chair of pediatrics at Dell Medical School at UT Austin.

Rather than giving them vitamins or supplements like Pediasure, he would rather parents concentrate on finding healthy foods their children like and encouraging them to try new things, but not force them. Remember that what they get in the food they eat is more than just the vitamins. In fruit it would be antioxidants and fiber as well.

Many parents will ask about their picky eaters, but he says, kids are probably getting more variety in their diet than we recognize. “If your child is growing normally, there’s a really good chance he’s eating better than you think.”

If not, talk to your pediatrician and do some tests to see if there is a vitamin deficiency, chronic illness or other circumstance that would make your kid an exception to the general rule that vitamin supplements aren’t necessary. For example, Abrams says, teenage girls sometimes might need an iron supplement if they become anemic.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed also might need Vitamin D, because breast milk doesn’t have any Vitamin D in it, but formula does, Abrams says. In Texas, often babies can get Vitamin D through a bit of sun exposure. Moms also can put Vitamin D drops either in a bottle of breast milk or on her nipple when nursing. Breastfed babies also need iron when they turn 4 months old, he says, until they are getting it through their diet after meat or fortified cereal is introduced.

RELATED: When to introduce solid foods to babies

Taking vitamin supplements usually isn’t dangerous unless kids are treating them like candy or are using them instead of medication. Abrams gives examples like using Omega 3 instead of medication to control attention-deficient hyperactivity disorder, or using Vitamin D to try to prevent the flu instead of a flu shot.

Also, supplements with a high concentration of caffeine could be dangerous as well.

What about melatonin as a sleep aid? A new study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics Thursday indicated that melatonin could help children with developmental delays or autism sleep better.  That might be true for those kids, Abrams says, but most kids will do well without melatonin if parents concentrate on improving sleep hygiene by doing things like shutting of the screens before bed and reading a book instead.

RELATED: How much kids sleep matters in obesity prevention