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WHY DOES A BABY'S FIRST HEAD OF HAIR FALL OUT?

Basically, for the same reason you find yourself shedding like a Saint Bernard after giving birth: a drop In hormones. "High estrogen levels In your body during pregnancy cause both your and your baby's hair to grow, with less resting or shedding," says Jennifer Shu, M.D., an Atlanta pediatrician and coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn. Postpartum, your estrogen levels plummet— and so do your baby's because he's no longer getting his hormones from you. You both enter a shedding stage called "telogen effluvium."This lasts about six months for your baby, possibly longer for you. Will your child become as bald as Bruce Willis? It depends on his hair's texture and whether he sits up early (then he won't spend as much time rubbing his head against mattresses and activity mats). All the while, though, new hair is sprouting. Just don't be shocked if this do Is way different—most infants' second headful is darker and coarser.

HOW LIKELY IS MY BABY TO GET MY DIMPLES OR MY HUSBANDS CLEFT CHIN?

Scientists have found a dazzling array of traits that can be determined by a single gene and run "dominant"—meaning that if you or your spouse has one, your baby could have up lo a 50 percent chance of getting it, too. Besides dimples and clefts, the list includes widow's peaks, the ability to cun your tongue, unattached eariobes (as opposed to attached ones), extreme join! flexibility, and second toes that are longer than "big" toes'. Still, just because you've got cheeks like Klrsten Dunst's or a chin like Ben Affleck's, your kid may not have a fifty-fifty shot at following suit, says Emily Lisi, a genetic counselor at the Johns Hopkins University Institute of Genetic Medicine, in Baltimore. His chances go way down if you have a "complex" version of the trait, guided by both genes and environment. How can you tell? If your own mom or dad also has the trait, and inherited it from a parent, then you can be pretty sure it's the dominant form.

HOW COME LITTLE KIDS W:

SO MUCH IN THEIR SLEEP?

Does your child wedge herself sideways in her crib or do a complete 180 by morning? A possible reason: Infants and young kids move much faster through the various sleep stages than we do and often wake briefly at the end of each, says Judith Owens, M.D., director of the Pediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic at Hasbro Children's Hospital, in Providence, PI.This means they have more awakenings than an adult—during which they might flip around like a pancake.

parenting.com december/january 2010

At last! Answers to all that strange stuff you can't help wondering about By Melissa Balmain

WHAT MAKES A BABY'S EYES CHANGE COLOR?

Your Infant's peepers are a work; in progress. At birth, they often don't contain enough of a brownish or yellowish pigment called melanin to show their final hue. In fact, blue or gray eyes (common in fair-haired newborns) have almost no melanin, says Dr. Shu. But during your baby's first 6 to 1 2 months, her irises—the eyes' colored parts—make more of it and darken. In some people, complete pigmentation aoesn't occur until aaulthood. Babies with blue or gray eyes tend to have fair skin, which Is good for absorbing vitamin D from sunlight and building healthy bones. On the other hand, people who have darker eyes and darker skin are less likely to develop melanoma. Plus, Dr. Shu says, "they usually have higher levels of folate in their bodies, which helps maintain healthy red blood cells, nerves, and muscles."

HOW COME I SMELL THAT DIAPER AND MY HUSBAND DOESN'T?

He probably isn't faking (at least not every time). "Women generally have a more acute sense of smell than men and can better distinguish between different odors," says Vitaly Vodyanoy, Ph.D., a professor of physiology at Auburn University, in Alabama. One thing women smell better is skatole, a key component of the oaor of poop, according to research at Cardiff University, in Wales, Hormones may play a part In all this: During ovulation and pregnancy, when estrogen levels rise, so does your sniffing superiority. But, hey. Dad can still be trained to detect a full diaper by its appearance (and weight!).

WHY IS PINK FOR CIRLS AND BLUE FOR BOYS?

color "rules" are relatively new. "All babies wore white for time because ii was easy to boil and sanitize," says Jo Ph.D., a historian at the University of Maryland, in College Park. !n the early 1900s, colored clothes became less of a hassle with the arrival of better detergents, dyes, and washing machines. Still, today's custom emerged gradually (as recently as the 1960s, John F. Kennedy, Jr., was photographed in a pink romper).Thanks to a rise of philosophies that we should "teach" gender, parents became eager for a color coae. Newer, more delicate pinks may have struck moms and dads as more feminine; blue-for-boys may have gotten help from nursery rhymes such as "Little Boy Blue,"

Contributing editor Me//ssa Baimain's breastfeeding essay appears in the anthology Unbuttoned (Harvard Common Press).

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A Guide to Natural Sleep Remedies. Many of us experience the occasional night of sleeplessness without any consequences. It is when the occasional night here and there becomes a pattern of several nights in arow that you are faced with a sleeping problem. Repeated loss of sleep affects all areas of your life The physical, the mental, and theemotional. Sleep deprivation can affect your overall daily performance and may even havean effecton your personality.

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