All posts by Kinedu

Introducing Kinedu Skills® – and how it benefits you!

 

We’ve been working on something big… huge, actually! A complete redesign of our milestones and the way we present them. We are thrilled to present Kinedu Skills®: a more intuitive way of understanding your child’s development and interacting with Kinedu.

Over the course of the last 18 months, we’ve worked to restructure our milestones. We’ve eliminated redundant items, non-observable ones, and also consolidated items that measured two skills in one. Having clearer milestones makes it more probable we’ll get precise information from our users about their child’s development, and therefore will be able to provide a more personalized experience.

We also analyzed our database of over 500,000 families and with the help of Stanford University Psychology Professor Michael Frank, and we identified 26 core skills present in early childhood development. Every skill groups together the milestones a child is acquiring from 0-24 months, and serve as major developmental goals to work towards. For example, milestones related to walking will now be asked together, and parents will get a progress report on that particular skill with percentile data. It’s easier to identify how your child is doing on one particular skill, rather than a more general developmental area and our percentiles can help you gain a better understanding of how your child is doing compared to other children his or her age. You’ll get to answer the milestones in every skill that is developmentally appropriate for your child, depending on his or her age.

At Kinedu, we recognize that every child develops at his or her own pace. This is our effort to produce more personalized activity plans, tailored to every child’s particular needs, and offer our users a deeper understanding of their baby’s development.

Introducing Kinedu Skills®

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working on a complete redesign of our milestone and evaluation structure. We are proud to present our new project: Skills®. We’d like to share with you how we came up with a new way to assess early childhood development and give you a better way to understand your baby’s development.

We dug deep into our milestones – over fifty million individual data points, and we came to learn that our milestone structure needed an upgrade – a better way to present milestones to families, to get accurate data and to provide more personalized activity plans.

First, came a full revision of every last one of our 550+ milestones. We collaborated with Professor Michael Frank from Stanford University to produce a final list. Based on his suggestions, we reviewed them to eliminate redundant items, non-observable ones, and also consolidated the ones that measured two skills in one. With this revision, also came a full revision of each milestone’s attributed month according to CDC and AAP standards, along with other evidence-based studies, and the data from over half a million families.

From this analysis, we realized that milestones could be grouped into “families” of milestones that described the development of specific skills in a child. This provided an opportunity to improve how we cluster our data, and this in turn came with a complete redesign of our assessments as well. Instead of following age ranges and developmental areas, our milestones now follow skills – regardless of age (although age is important to understand developmental variability!).

For example, milestones that led to being able to crawl, such as posture on all fours, sliding on the floor, and crawling, have all been categorized into a separate skill: Crawling. Users will now be able to see at a glance how their baby is doing in developmentally appropriate skills, like walking, babbling or imitating. This will allow us to display milestones to our users without limiting which ones we show based on their baby’s age. Since every baby develops at his or her own pace, this is something imperative. More importantly, grouping milestones in such a way allows us to measure variability in development – recognizing and pointing out (with data!) that it is perfectly OK for babies to say their first words before walking or walk before talking. In the end, our data uncovered 26 major groups of milestones, which we believe are the core developmental skills for every child.

Finally, we conducted a survey to validate our research-based assessment and the way we clustered them into skills. We gathered over 2,000 responses and were able to measure each skill and milestone individually, obtaining an age of acquisition for each one. We understand the role variability plays in early child development, which is why we’ll now present progress resulpfts with percentiles for every skill. Percentiles can help our users gain a better understanding of how their child is doing compared to other children his or her age. With this new data, we can now present our users with more exact and detailed information on their baby’s progress.

This comprehensive revision of our milestones will lead to a better user experience, provide more accurate data for analysis, and therefore give us the tools we need to be able to offer a more detailed, evidence-based report on each baby’s progress. This has been something we’ve been planning and working on for some time now – so we’re extremely excited to be able to release it soon. We hope you enjoy our product re-design: it’s been two years in the making, and we hope it drives our collective understanding of early childhood further.

The science behind baby-talk: more than a guilty pleasure!

Why is it that adults become all of a sudden fluent in “motherese” when there’s a baby in the proximity?

When you find yourself in the company of young children, be it your kids, a friend’s, or just the cute baby in her mother’s arms that you crossed at the coffee shop, chances are you have experienced for yourself that automatic and hard to ignore temptation to engage in the caricaturized “baby-talk” with them. What has science got to say about this phenomenon? And beyond its cuteness, is it actually beneficial for your baby’s linguistic and socio-emotional development?

When adults talk to babies and pre-linguistic infants, no matter what part of the world they are in or what language they use (anthropologists have found it native communities from Sri Lanka to Siberia), their speech gravitates towards using some particular features of what is formally known as “infant-directed speech”. This form of addressing infants is characterized by being an emotionally-charged and melodic tone with a higher pitch than usual. Vowels are stretched out, sentences are simplified, and facial gestures and emotional intonation is stressed. These characteristics of baby-talk are particularly emphasized by adults when they are addressing very young babies, and then naturally decrease as the child grows and his or her language skills develop. Continue reading

Why formula instead of cow’s milk?

Parents often ask why cow’s milk is not the best option for their little one. The answer is simple: babies or young children can’t digest cow’s milk as completely or as easily as breast milk or formula.

The Nutrition Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of cow’s milk for two reasons: allergies and iron deficiency anemia.

The intestinal lining takes more time to mature in some babies than others. Although lactose intolerance is not so common in babies, some toddlers can develop diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain because they are unable to digest the lactose sugar in milk. Some toddlers can develop milk allergies, meaning that their immune system, which normally fights infections, overreacts to proteins in cow’s milk and thus fights these proteins thinking they are harmful invaders.

Another reason as to why cows’ milk is not beneficial to infants is that it lacks the proper amount of vitamins and minerals needed for an optimal growth and development, such as vitamin E, zinc and iron. Why is iron so important for an infant? It helps the body create red blood cells, and a decreased level of red blood cells causes anemia. Babies do have enough iron in their bodies but by 3-4 months of age, the amount of iron supply gets depleted and extra iron is required in the infant’s diet.

Instead of offering cow’s milk, you can offer an iron-fortified growth formula like Nestlé® Excella Gold to your child if he or she is 1 year or older. It is important to mention that exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the six months of your little one’s life, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. Always consult your doctor to help you choose the best option for your child.

 

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Making everyday moments meaningful

It’s those special serve and return interactions between a parent and a child that make everyday moments so meaningful.

Reading: Reading to your baby from birth helps foster linguistic skills, increasing vocabulary acquisition. Research shows that when parents read to their children, children develop a love for books which later translates into strong reading skills. Additionally, when you spend time reading with your little one, they’ll be much more likely to express themselves and relate to others in a healthy way.

Play: Play is how infants test their ideas and learn new skills. Babies and toddlers are eager to comprehend the way the world works and through play they learn the basic skills of communication, problem solving, testing ideas and getting along with others. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional growth. It allows children to explore the world, practice adult roles and gain confidence.” Continue reading

Phospholipids and their importance for development

Phospholipids are a class of lipids that are a major component of cell membranes. Traditionally, lipids were considered a great source of energy during lactation, nowadays they are also known to play a prominent role during brain development.

How are these molecules beneficial and why are they an essential nutrient for optimal development?

Phospholipids are amphipathic lipids: they consist of a hydrophilic (or ‘water loving’) head and a hydrophobic (or ‘water fearing’) tail. Phospholipids like to line up and arrange themselves into two parallel layers called phospholipid bilayer – this layer makes up your cell membranes and is critical for the cell’s ability to function. They even activate the enzymes acting as messengers in the transmission of signals inside the cells and regulate cholesterol. They also stimulate the development, migration and differentiation of nerve cells. Continue reading

Choline: What is it and why is it essential?

There are certain nutrients that are essential to your little one’s health and well-being. Like choline. But, what is choline and why is it an essential nutrient?

Choline is part of the complex B vitamin group. The body itself produces choline but not enough of it, which is why it’s important to consume foods that are rich in it.

Choline has a great capacity to affect the nervous system and the brain function. It also aids in producing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that participates in brain memory. Babies receive this nutrient in the womb given that it is a key element in constructing the cell membrane structure – an essential process during fetal development. Scientists are now beginning to understand how choline intake during pregnancy affects brain development.

This nutrient is found especially in foods like milk, liver, eggs, and peanuts as well as poultry, fish, and grains. Breast milk also contains choline as well as some growth formulas, such as Nestlé®  Excella®  Gold. Make sure your little one’s diet includes elements that are rich in this essential nutrient.

 

Sources:

  • https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782876/

The effects of added sugar on complementary nutrition

Kid’s consumption of industrialized foods has caused a major distortion in their taste preferences and eating habits.

During the first year of life, breast milk gives rise to the formation of habits and food preferences that are difficult to modify later in life. This is why an ideal complementary feeding plays a key role. The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that from the first moments in which the child receives complementary food, essential habits are acquired that benefit taste preferences. For this reason, it is not advisable to add sweeteners of any kind in children’s foods. Offering products with large amounts of added sugar causes them to develop a preference for sweeter foods.

The flavors acquired during early stages of life, become lifetime habits and a preference for sweeter foods can put them at greater risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – three major contributors to heart disease. Continue reading

Vitamin B complex and their benefits

Vitamin B complex is extremely beneficial for kids. While B vitamins are essential for the human body, they are more so for kids in their growing years. Why? Vitamin B complex encourages mental and physical growth in children in their early formative years.

There are 8 principal vitamins that make up the vitamin B complex:

  1. Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Plays a role in the release of energy in your child’s body and it protects the nervous system from any kind of damage or degeneration.
  2. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  3. Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  4. Vitamin B5 (panthothenic acid)
  5. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Promotes bone health and helps maintain the nervous system, it produces red blood cells and encourages proper function of certain hormones.
  6. Vitamin B7 (biotin): It helps in keeping calm and maintaining a healthy nervous system. It is also essential in maintaining healthy hair and nails.
  7. Vitamin B9 (folic acid): Helps prevent certain birth defects as it assists in blood cell production and helps the synthesis of DNA.
  8. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): aids in the production of red blood cells and maintains the nerve cell function.

Continue reading

Why iron is a key part of children’s nutrition

Iron is an essential nutrient for making hemoglobin, a key component of red blood cells that helps transport oxygen throughout the body. If our bodies would not receive enough iron, red blood cells would not be adequately produced and our tissues and organs would not receive sufficient oxygen – which is necessary for growth and development. When children lack iron, they may display cognitive and behavioral developmental deficits or delays, may be less physically active, display a shorter attention span and develop problems concentrating.

Once children are ready to begin a diet consisting of solids, their first foods should be iron fortified given their period of rapid growth.

Here is a list of iron-rich foods for children on solids:

  • Meats: Beef, lamb, pork, veal, liver, chicken, turkey
  • Fish: Babies under 1 should not eat shellfish
  • Eggs: If your child is under 1 year old, don’t feed him or her egg whites
  • Grains and cereals: Iron-fortified cereals, whole grain breads, enriched bread, pasta and rice
  • Legumes: Chick peas, lentils, dried peas and beans
  • Vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, green peas and beans
  • Growth formulas: Such as Nestlé ® Excella Gold

To help your child’s body absorb even more iron, combine these foods with a good source of vitamin C. Plus, minimize the amount of dairy products you offer your little one at the same time you are feeding your child iron-rich foods as it can prevent rapid iron absorption.

It’s important to note that exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the first 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. When choosing a growth formula that contains some of the key ingredients we just mentioned, such as Nestlé ® Excella Gold ®, make sure to talk to your pediatrician to know which may suit your child best.

 

Sources:

  • http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/iron.html
  • http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/minerals.html?ref=search&WT.ac=msh-k-dtop-en-search-clk#
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415871/
  • http://www.who.int/features/qa/21/en/