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Could eating more fish help your kids sleep better?

Yes, says this study from the University of Pennsylvania.

Could eating more fish help your kids sleep better?

How often is fish on your family's menu? A study from the University of Pennsylvania published in the journal Scientific Reports found that children who eat fish once a week or more sleep better and score higher on IQ tests than children who never eat fish or eat it less than once a week.

Previous studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna can improve intelligence and sleep, and that better sleep can boost IQ scores. This is the first research that has linked all three components, however. In fact, researchers believe that improved sleep resulting from consuming more omega-3s is what increases IQ rather than the fatty acids themselves.

A good night's sleep is essential for our children's health and happiness. Besides keeping a child's temper in balance, sleep provides many essential benefits for our growing children. While asleep, children process and absorb what they have learned. Their bodies have the chance to recover and repair themselves.

Sleep also plays a major role in mood management. Lack of sleep can lead to an increase in negative behaviors, like anxiety, impatience, aggression, irritability, and poor school performance.

During this study, more than 500 Chinese children between the ages of nine and 11 responded to a survey about how often they ate fish. When the children turned 12, they completed an IQ test that scored their verbal and nonverbal skills. Children who ate fish weekly scored 4.8 points higher on the IQ tests than those who said they “seldom" or “never" ate fish. “Sometimes" eaters of fish scored 3.3 points higher on IQ exams.

In addition, parents answered questions about their children's sleep patterns, including how often they wake in the middle of the night and their daytime sleepiness. The responses showed that those children who ate more fish had fewer disturbances while sleeping, indicating better overall sleep quality.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to affect sleep in several ways. Animal studies suggest the potential role of the fatty acid DHA in regulating the production of melatonin, which has been shown to regulate circadian rhythm and improve sleep.

Essential fatty acids have helped produce prostaglandins, which are believed to be the most effective sleep-promoting substance and regulate sleep/wake patterns. Epidemiological studies have also shown a link between increased fish intake and improved sleep in children.

The researchers recommend that parents gradually add fish to their children's diet, starting when they are young if possible. As long as the fish has no bones and has been finely chopped up, children can begin eating it by around age two.

There are some concerns regarding the toxicity of fish to keep in mind. Decades of industrial activity, particularly emissions from coal-fired power plants, have released mercury and other pollutants into oceans and waterways. Unfortunately, those contaminants can end up in the seafood we eat. Concentrations vary depending on the fishes' age, diet, region of harvest, and other factors.

Large predatory fish, including tuna, shark, marlin, and swordfish, accumulate considerable mercury since they eat smaller fish. These types of fish pose a significant risk to children. They should eat no more than one serving of canned light tuna per week and should never eat canned albacore tuna, also known as white tuna.

In addition, not all fish contain beneficial levels of omega-3s. According to the Environmental Working Group (ERG), eight of the 10 seafood species most popular in the American diet are very low in omega-3s. Therefore, it is important to evaluate which types of fish to feed your children.

ERG provides an incredible resource called their Consumer Guide to Seafood, which allows you to look up a customized seafood list based on age, weight, and other factors.

[Originally published January, 2018]

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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