"The truth," Elvis Presley once said, "is like the sun. You can shut it out for a while, but it ain't going away." And the truth about the sun? It's a source of health (reduces blood pressure; helps the body make vitamin D) and happiness (it elevates your mood), but you gotta shut it out, over and over, especially when it comes to babies and toddlers. Early exposure to sun can set up an infant for skin cancer woes later in life.
Rule No. 1: Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of the sun, by avoiding midday rays and using protective clothing, hats and umbrellas. It's NOT a good idea to use sunscreens on babies' easily permeable skin; the safety is unknown.
Rule No. 1B: Since you're avoiding the sun, ask your pediatrician about vitamin D-3 supplements for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 international units of vitamin D a day until babies can drink 32 ounces of D-fortified formula daily.
Rule No. 2: Start using sunscreen (remember ears, lips, toes, fingers) when your child becomes mobile. Test for sensitivity before doing an all-over rub; reapply every 30 minutes. And provide wraparound sunglasses that filter out UVA and UVB rays.
Rule No. 3: If your toddler starts to look "a little pink," it's PAST time to get out of the sun. It can take 12 hours for a burn to show up, and by then it's too late to avoid the damage.
v vWomen are frequently harassed for breastfeeding in public. In 2006, when a woman was kicked off a flight for breastfeeding while the plane was still at the gate. We wonder what the airline would have done in mid-air. Clearly, the crew didn't know what was best for baby, mom or them.
Breastfeeding benefits everyone, not just infants, who gain immune strength and protection from everything from diarrhea to Type 2 diabetes and asthma. If all new moms breastfed for the first year, it could help women avoid 5,000 cases of breast cancer, 54,000 cases of hypertension and 14,000 heart attacks annually. And health care savings? A whopping $860 million a year, according to a study in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
So, our recommendations are:
1. When possible, extend breastfeeding from six to 12 months (or more). Nursing in the morning and before bedtime may help accommodate introduction of solid food and your work schedule.
2. Acknowledge that some people find viewing your bare breast embarrassing; it shouldn't be a hardship for you to cover up a bit.
3. To make breastfeeding as healthful as possible for you and your child, eat five to nine servings of vegetables and fruit daily, only 100 percent whole grains and skinless poultry and fish (we love salmon and ocean trout). Skip red meat, added sugars and syrups, and all trans fats. Plus, take an omega-3 DHA algal oil supplement - 900 milligrams a day.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.