Many parents swear by the infant-calming technique of swaddling, or wrapping babies tightly in blankets to help simulate the womb, promote relaxation, reduce crying and control the startle reflex.

Is that safe given current research on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS? Yes, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics, as long as a swaddled baby is laid on his back, isn't overly warm and is young enough to not roll from back to front on his own (usually around 2 months of age). The academy recommends the following guidelines for swaddled babies:

Sleep surfaces should be firm.

Soft objects such as pillows, loose bedding, blankets and bumper pads should be left out of the crib.

Infants should sleep alone.

Avoid products claiming to ward off SIDS, such as wedges, positioners or special mattresses.


Is your child protected from preventable illnesses at school?

Fall is an exciting time for kids; seeing old friends, getting to know new classmates, learning new skills and exploring classrooms.

With all this fun and interaction, it's important to remember one of the best ways to keep your child safe and healthy is to make sure he or she is up to date on their vaccinations. Vaccines have made many once-common serious childhood diseases rare today. They are safe, effective, and they save lives.

All states require children to be vaccinated against certain communicable diseases in order to attend school. Information about recommended immunization schedules for people of all ages is available at


Could your sense of smell be making you fat?

A University of California-Berkeley study recently summarized in ScienceDaily suggests our ability to smell foods may be linked with our tendency to gain weight.

While studying adult mice, researchers found those with shut-down olfactory ability could eat a high-fat diet and retain a normal weight, while their smell-enabled littermates gained weight on the same diets. While those with an artificially heightened sense of smell got even fatter, the smell-deficient mice burned excess fat instead of storing it, suggesting a link between the olfactory system and regions of the brain that regulate metabolism, although the neural circuits are unclear.

Results suggest possible interventions for those who have lost smelling ability as well as those trying to lose weight. "If we can validate this in humans, perhaps we can actually make a drug that doesn't interfere with smell but still blocks that metabolic circuitry," notes study author Andrew Dillin.


Can honey cure what ails you?

Perhaps due to the rising costs of health care, many Americans are showing more interest in the health benefits of widely available foods such as honey. WebMD advises the following when it comes to the golden treat:

Because of the risk of botulism, never give honey (outside of processed foods) to a child younger than 12 months.

Honey can hamper certain foodborne pathogens, but not necessarily after human ingestion.

New Zealand-made Manuka honey ("Medihoney") is approved by the FDA for treating wounds and skin ulcers.

Scientists disagree on whether honey can ease allergy symptoms triggered by pollen.

Honey may ease symptoms of coughs and colds by calming inflated membranes.

Honey is no better than ordinary white or brown sugar for people with diabetes.


Swaddling can help a fussy baby because it can help promote relaxation. [Photo by Produnis (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons]