Author Archive

Making Leap Day Birthdays Special

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Tomorrow, February 29th, is Leap Day! As you probably know, this date rolls around just once every four years, so if it happens to mark your child’s birthday (one in 1,461 people are born on Leap Day, with about 200,000 across the country and 4 million worldwide), you’ll want to be sure to make the occasion extra-special and memorable. We’ve got tons of creative ideas on how to do just this, along with helpful suggestions on when and how to celebrate your little one’s special day on those non-leap years. See it all in our new Make a Leap Birthday Special slide-show at And a special Happy Birthday shout-out to all the Leap Day babies!

More related features on birthdays:

Easy Birthday Cakes

15 Great Places to Have a Party

Birthday Party Decorations That Wow

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Harley Rotbart, M.D. Introduces New Book: ‘No Regrets Parenting’

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

When it comes to parenting, I think the majority of moms and dads wish they could enjoy a little more good old fashioned quality time with their kids. However, given the numerous directions most parents are pulled in on any given day, these opportunities can oftentimes get lost in the shuffle. Until now. One of our Parents Advisory Board members and Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Harley Rotbart, M.D., has written a new book with hundreds of little ways parents can make everyday moments special. I’ll turn it over to him to explain further: has been kind enough to allow me to share a few words about my “No Regrets” approach to parenting, and tell you about the new book, No Regrets Parenting – Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012). I’m a pediatrician, Professor and Vice Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, where I’ve practiced for the past 30 years.

Each day with young kids can feel like a week, and each week like a month. But as every new birthday passes, childhood seems to streak by at warp speed. “No Regrets Parenting” is a fresh, commonsense approach to time management for those of you who shudder at the thought of your kids growing up too fast, leaving for college, becoming young adults before you’ve had a chance to fully experience their childhood. 

 NRP is not like other “time management strategies” that are geared for efficiency with kids rather than for intimacy with them, for organizing rather than optimizing time with your kids. How to get everything done is not the same as how to make the time with your kids meaningful and memorable. NRP is about capturing the precious moments of parenting that otherwise are lost in the name of efficiency.  It will show you how to transform the mundane and exhausting routines of parenthood into special parenting events. Car pool, bath time, soccer practice, homework, dinner hour, and sleepovers can all become more than just obligations – they can be opportunities, for intimate quality time with young kids. NRP teaches parents the important difference between minutes and moments. It’s not how much time you have with your kids, but how you spend the time you have that matters in the life and legacy of a young family. NRP helps you find the time to feel good about your kids’ childhood – and still get it all done!

 As a pediatrician, I am privileged to observe best parenting practices but, unfortunately, I have also witnessed parenting strategies that aren’t working. Too many sad stories from parents whose careers and adult responsibilities so overwhelmed their lives they felt as if they had missed knowing their kids. Childhood had gone by too quickly. Parents wishing they could do it over again, re-prioritize. Parents with profound regrets. 

NRP is for busy parents in our busy times. So there will be no regrets.

The days are long, but the years are short. And now is the time.

No Regrets Parenting is available as of today, 2/21/2012, in bookstores everywhere, and at all online book vendors (you can buy it here). The book will be excerpted in the March issue of Parents. Also, see the blog, follow the tweets and share No Regrets Parenting Facebook posts, all linked at

More related features on positive parenting:

7 Ways to Raise a Well-Rounded Kid

The 6 Best Gifts You Can Give Kids Without Spending Money

Find Your Happy Parent Place

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Win a Parents Toys Prize Package Valued at $253—just in time for Xmas!

Monday, December 5th, 2011

 Boy, have we got a just-in-time-for-Christmas giveaway for you! The great people over at Manhattan Toy, who partner with us on our very own Parents line of toys, have put together a prize package any kid would be thrilled to find under the tree. And the kiddos aren’t the only ones who will appreciate the 5 stellar toys that are up for grabs.

The philosophy behind the Parents collection of toys is that “when the toy does less, the child does more,” a concept any parent can feel good about. The toys in this line are specifically designed to inspire a child’s imagination—something you don’t quite see enough of these days. Through entertaining play, the toys, games, and puzzles in the line helps expand skills, boost brain power, and allow your child’s natural creativity to flourish. What’s not to love about that?! Even better, as soon as a winner is chosen and is contacted, this prize will ship overnight promising an extra-special Christmas morning!

Prize package includes:

Stow & Go Activity Cart (shown above) – $85.00

Busy Time Activity Center (shown here)  - $90.00

Colorful Notes Xylophone – $28.00

Fruitful Fun Puzzle – $20.00

My Little Mailbox – $30.00

Enter to win by posting a comment below by 11:59 p.m., EST on December 16, 2011. We will pick one lucky reader at random. Read the full rules here. And Goody Luck!

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.

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Is Apple Juice Poisonous? Experts Explain the Arsenic Controversy

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The highly publicized clash between Dr Oz and the FDA regarding acceptable levels of arsenic in apple juice has left many wondering, ‘Well, what exactly is safe?’. We called upon two health experts, Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, and author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips, and Connie Diekman, M.Ed, RD, LD, FADA, and director of University Nutrition at Washington University, to help clear up some of the confusion.

What do you make of the controversy between Dr. Oz and the FDA?

Connie Diekman: As a registered dietitian I appreciate Dr Oz’s passion for and interest in healthful eating but hate to see such controversy causing confusion and angst for parents. Parents are working hard to provide the right food choices and activity for their children and they need role models who provide information that is based on the science of nutrition in a simple to implement manner.

Can you explain the difference between “good” and “bad” arsenic in food? 

CD: There are two types of arsenic – organic and inorganic. The inorganic form is the one that is harmful, and while arsenic exists in both forms in foods, the inorganic arsenic is the main form found in drinking water. This higher concentration in drinking water is the reason that the EPA, and subsequently the FDA, established limits of safety for drinking water.

Organic arsenic is found in a variety of foods, including fish, seafood, fruits, fruit juices, vegetables, and rice. Organic compounds are easily digestible and do not accumulate in the body as inorganic compounds can, thus intake of organic arsenic, especially at the low levels it exists in foods, is not a concern.

What are the acceptable FDA levels of arsenic in food?

CD: There is no scientific evidence available to allow FDA to set limits for food. The very small amounts in food, combined with the majority being organic, makes it difficult to conduct studies that consistently show a level of risk or safety.

Why would the FDA have higher acceptable levels of arsenic in apple juice as compared to drinking water?

Elisa Zied: The FDA says the levels vary because humans drink and consume a lot more water than they drink other beverages, including apple juice. Because water is more commonly consumed and the quantities consumed are so much higher than they are for juice or other beverages, it’s more important to limit potentially harmful chemicals in it to minimize their total exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. 

CD: The EPA set the level for water based on the average consumption amounts of water, which are significantly higher than those of juice. In addition, since the arsenic in water is predominately inorganic it is easy to measure amounts.

What parents should do with regard to giving their kids apple juice?

EZ: Apple juice–like all juice and other calorie-containing beverages–should be limited in the diet. The AAP recommends 4 to 6 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice to kids ages 1 to 6 ; older kids should limit it to no more than 8-12 ounces if they consume it.

It’s wise to encourage fresh fruit as main source of daily fruit intake because its higher in fiber and more filling. But 100 percent fruit juice can fit into a healthful diet; to lower the amount consumed  you can combine with water or seltzer. Like with all food or beverages, it’s wise to mix up what kids consume from each of the different key food groups. For example, one day have an apple and some strawberries, the next day a banana and some apple juice or orange juice, the next day grapes and some honeydew, the next day some dried fruit and watermelon. Consuming different foods and beverages within the same category mixes up the nutrients you get and can potentially minimize risks of exposure to low levels of contaminants you may find in different foods and beverages.

CD: Apple juice can be a part of a healthful eating plan but as with all fruit juices it should not be a child’s main fruit source. Nutritional and health benefits of whole fruits are better than those of juice, so encouraging kids to enjoy fruit should be the first step.

Readers, what do you think? Do you trust that the FDA has your child’s safety covered or, given Dr. Oz’s concerns, are you now hesitant to give your child apple juice?

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Crib Bumpers Now Banned in Chicago

Friday, September 9th, 2011

ss_101128633The babies of Chicago just got a little bit safer. Yesterday, the Windy City became the first to ban the sale of crib bumper pads due to the suffocation hazards they are known to pose, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Though bumpers are commonly marketed as stylish nursery decor, recent history indicates they are, in fact, a serious threat and can easily block a baby’s ability to breath. In fact, according to the Tribune, the  National Center for Child Death Review has received 14 reports of infant suffocation due to the presence of a bumper pad in the past 3 years.

City Council members James Balcer, and  George Cardenas said they are eager to get the message out that these popular accessories simply aren’t safe. “If we were to wait for federal regulators, it probably would never get done,” Balcer said. “We have a responsibility here as government to address issues like this.”

Indeed, Federal regulators have resisted taking a firm stance on the safety of bumper pads, and are reportedly ”trying to determine if there is a scientific link between bumper pads and suffocations, or if factors such as blankets, pillows or medical issues played a primary role in babies’ deaths.”  In fact, as we reported in March, the Tribune identified 17 cases of infant deaths that the Consumer Product Safety Commission failed to investigate when they were fully-aware that crib bumper pads played roles in the fatalities.

At the end of the day, most experts seem to agree, there should only be two things in your baby’s crib: a firm, tight-fitting mattress and a crib sheet. “It’s tempting to make it look cute and cozy with lots of blankets, stuffed animals, and pillows, but they’re all suffocation hazards for kids under 1 year old,” says Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. The bottom line: the suffocation risk of bumper pads outweighs their benefits.

Share your thoughts on Chicago’s banning of crib bumpers. Are you hoping your city follows suit?

Read more about nursery safety, below, and be sure to keep up with the latest product recalls with our helpful Recall Finder on

Safe-Sleep Guide for Baby

The Safe Nursery

Repurpose Your Crib Bumpers

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Texas Mom Gives Birth to 16 Pound Baby Boy

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

tdy_curry_baby3_110711_grid-5x2Janet Johnson and Michael Brown shocked the world last week when their 16 pound baby boy named JaMichael was born. According to TODAY Parenting, he came close to breaking the world record of the largest baby ever and he may very well have tipped the scale to be the largest baby on record in Texas. 

Janet suffered from gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, which may have contributed to JaMichael’s massive size —the hospital didn’t even have any diapers big enough to fit him! When he was born via Cesarean section last Friday, he weighed 16 pounds, 1 ounce, measuring a full 2 feet long with a head measurement of 15 inches and a chest measuring 17 inches.

“It’s a beautiful baby, but for health reasons, we’d rather not see a baby this large,” a hospital nurse who was in the delivery room for JaMichael’s birth, told reporters. “They can have a little harder time maintaining their blood sugar.” JaMichael is reportedly progressing well and expected to be released from the hospital soon.

In the wake of this story, we asked medical expert Michele Hakakha, M.D., to shed some light on JaMichael’s situation, and to answer a few important questions related to gestational diabetes:


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Win a ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ Prize Package, and Skin Care Products!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

RockerAs they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it! The {beloved} Very Hungry Caterpillar brand has joined forces with Episencial Skin Care to bring you a truly spectacular chance to win big. From now until July 8, you can leave a comment on this post for the opportunity to win six outstanding items your little one is sure to go ga-ga for! Here’s a little background on both brands:

Eric Carle, one of the most celebrated children’s authors of all time, has taken the classic characters we all know and love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar book and propelled them into The World of Eric Carle— a new line of toys and art designed to foster learning, imagination and development in young children.

Sweet Dreams Bubble BathEpisencial is a top-notch, all natural, organic skincare system created specifically for the unique developing skin type of babies and kids. Plus, it’s planet-friendly, packaged in recycled and sustainable materials, and manufactured using solar power. How cool is that?!

Prize package includes:

A hardcover copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar- $21.99

Kids Preferred The Very Hungry Caterpillar Rocker- $120 (note: This item is pictured above and will not be available for purchase until July)

Oopsy Daisy The Very Hungry Caterpillar 14 x 14 Wall print – $69

Episencial Sweet Dreams Bubble Bath – $8.99

Episencial Protective Face Balm – $5.99

Episencial Soothing Cream – $10.99

Enter to win by posting a comment below by 11:59 EST on July 8, 2011. We will pick one lucky reader at random. Read the full rules here. And Goody Luck! UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.

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Poll: 87% of Working Moms Feel Proud, 82% Feel Guilty

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

A new study from iVillage and shows salary reigns supreme when it comes to job priorities among working mothers—even when compared with important factors like a family-friendly work environment and job enjoyment.

This is just one interesting finding from the newly-published 2011 Moms At Work Survey. Overall, the survey paints a picture of the modern mom taking charge in both the office and the home. It seems this woman really can have it all—as long as a personal assistant is thrown into the mix! And interestingly, 70% of the working moms polled would prefer the assistant to help manage the running of their households rather than their work lives. 

Additional results show eight out of ten working mothers “are earning at least half or more of their household’s income.” And the work doesn’t end at the office. According to the poll, more than two-thirds (68%) of working moms are still responsible for the majority of household chores so it comes as no surprise that 90% of them report feeling tired and stressed! 

 ”Unfortunately, what working moms have the least time for is themselves — something to keep in mind as we think of ways to pamper mom on Mother’s Day,” said Kelly Wallace, Chief Correspondent, at iVillage.

The study also found:

  • Women aren’t receiving a passing grade when it comes to healthy habits. 77% agree that juggling work and family makes it hard to live a healthy lifestyle with close to 25% of moms reporting that they are not allowed to get sick!
  • While the good news is that 59% of women surveyed are satisfied with the amount of time spent with their children, almost half, 47%, are not satisfied with the amount of time spent keeping fit/healthy.
  • 23% of working moms polled would welcome increased support from friends and family, and 41% want more support from their husband/partner to make their lives easier.
  • Part-time working moms are closest to achieving work-life balance, with 46% reporting that they are “busy but balanced: I’ve found harmony between work and home,” compared to just 20% of full-time working moms who can say the same.
  • Merely 3 out of 10 women are happy with the amount of time they are able to spend alone with their partners once out of the office.
  • Today’s working mom is more mobile than ever before! 67% of working moms rely on their smart phone to make their lives easier.

If you’re a working mom, how do you juggle the demands of work and home life? Share your solutions for keeping stress levels in check.

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The Working Mom Balancing Act

9 Tips for Juggling Work and Motherhood

Real Mom: Juggling Work and Family

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