“Where do babies come from?” is a question that most parents may not feel equipped to answer on the spot. Thankfully, “What Makes a Baby” by Cory Silverberg recently came across my desk, and the picture book immediately grabbed my attention (and the attention of several colleagues) with its bright colors.
The book starts with the basics of conception by introducing an egg and a sperm and explaining how both are needed to create a baby. In a smart move, the story avoids elaborating on the physical ways babies are made (i.e. through sex, IVF, and surrogates) and focuses instead on the behind-the-scenes biological process. Short and breezy sentences explain the fertilization of the egg and sperm (“When an egg and a sperm meet, they swirl together in a special kind of dance. As they dance, they talk to each other.”), the baby’s gestation period in the uterus, and the baby’s eventual birth. While it may feel odd to read and say words like egg, sperm, uterus, and vagina out loud to your kids, the book presents these natural terms in a matter-of-fact way to temper any squeamishness and embarrassment.
Silverberg, a sex educator, started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book and to cover the cost of illustrations and the printing. Good thing he surpassed his goal since the drawings by Fiona Smyth really give the book an extra special zing. Even though there are drawings of a uterus and two birth scenes (vaginal and C-section) that may also seem jarring at first, the round cartoon shapes and the neon colors give the book a fun, happy, and modern feel. The book is appropriate for ages 4-8, and you can find it on Amazon.com and BN.com.
Now parents can have easy-going, straightforward, and (hopefully) painless discussions with kids about the miracle of birth!
For starters the baby will be born in the Lindo Wing, the private wing of St. Mary’s hospital, which costs roughly 10,000 pounds. There, the royal couple will have access to postpartum and breastfeeding support, among other services. This is the same hospital wing that Prince William and Prince Harry were born in back in the 80′s. Prince Charles managed to sneak his way into the delivery room with Princess Diana, and William will be with Kate during her delivery, too. (The royals have modernized at least in some ways!) What is perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the delivery plans is that Kate is rumored to want both her mother, Carole, and her sister, Pippa, present with her in the delivery room—at least for the first part of labor. Add two esteemed doctors to the mix, and you have quite a crowd. In fact, critics have jested that it reminds them of the old, public, royal births when almost anyone could come by and view!
Proceedings after the birth will follow tradition with a 41 gun salute, a speech given by the Prime Minister in Parliament, and a poetic note displayed at the gates of Buckingham Palace announcing the royal birth. And amidst all the excitement outside, the royal couple will be presented with a comprehensive wine (and Champagne) list in the exclusive hospital wing should they wish to enjoy a toast to celebrate their new arrival!
Perhaps most interesting—and extremely significant in my opinion—is just how much Kate’s relationship with her mother differs from previous mother-daughter relationships in the royal family: The Queen’s parenting style has been notoriously distant, and she’s famous for “trying” to spend an hour a day with her kids; Diana and Fergie’s mothers both bolted from their fathers and took up refuge in far-off lands (the isolated Scottish Isles and Argentina, respectively); and Princess Diana’s tragic death came early in the princes’ lives. Kate, on the other hand, has a seemingly great relationship with her mother and plans to be a present and engaged mother herself. This baby is going to benefit enormously from the—dare I say it—more normal, affectionate, and hands-on parenting style of the Middletons. While this baby will be royal, HRH will be more Middleton in upbringing than Windsor!
In keeping with this close-knit family, a few short days after the birth of baby Albert, George, Charlotte, or Alexandra (all strong name contenders) will be whisked off not to the royal residences, but to the Middletons’ new manor house in the Berkshires (a very affluent country address). For the first six weeks of wee HRH’s life, he or she will be with grandma Carole and grandpa Michael. William and Kate’s snazzy residence at Kensington Palace is 300 years old and still undergoing massive renovations to remove asbestos and get it ready for the new royal family. But despite the renovations, I believe it was a deliberate decision of Kate and William’s to reside with the Middletons’ during the first weeks of the baby’s life, wanting the support that Kate’s family can provide.
Kate’s nursery decorating style will mirror that of her taste in fashion: elegant and classic with a modern twist. We certainly won’t be seeing any blinged-out, diamond-encrusted cribs in the royal nursery! Instead, Kate has invested in a Moses-style basket that will reside beside her bed for the first weeks, as Kate and William plan to have the baby sleep in their room at first. (Perhaps this is a nod to attachment parenting from Kate and William?) While Kate will of course have family help and the support of a staff, I have no doubt that she will be a hands-on mother as much as her position allows.
One of the most speculated aspects of the royal baby is HRH’s hair color. Many are wondering if HRH will have red hair, or be a “ginger” as we call it in England, just like his or her famous uncle! Geneticists have explained that the gene for red hair color is recessive, so the baby would have to receive the recessive gene from both Kate and William in order to be born a ginger—which apparently is a 50:50 chance!
So get your mini Union Jack ready, pour yourself some tea (or, if you prefer, some Pimm’s), and be prepared to be glued to the TV, because D-day is almost here!
Looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift this year? Consider making a difference by giving to charity in Mom’s name. While there are certainly many worthy organizations out there, we are particularly excited about IMA WorldHealth’s Safe Motherhood Kits. For $25, a kit provides a woman in a developing country with clean and sterile childbirth supplies, training on how to prevent infection, and warm clothes for newborns. In countries where childbirth in unsanitary conditions often leads to death, these supplies can save lives. To donate a kit, call 1-877-241-7952 or designate your online contribution for a “Safe Motherhood Kit” (use the “If Other, Please Enter Designation” box). And don’t forget: while Mother’s Day is an ideal time for this gift, donations for these kits are accepted all year round.
Check out blog posts by multitalented mompreneur Rosie Pope every week at Parents.com!
When I got married, I remember my husband slipping that sparkly ring onto my finger, and, almost as soon as I skipped out of the chapel, I was bombarded in droves with the question, “When will you start trying for a baby?” As you can imagine, I spluttered on the celebratory champagne I had just starting sipping! While we were planning on starting a family soon, I certainly hadn’t expected to talk about it at my wedding. For whatever reason, the question of “trying” always made me uncomfortable, especially since this question generally came from older generations. I didn’t like the idea of them thinking about the intimate evenings between my husband and I…. You know what I mean! After we had our first baby, no sooner had I had gotten home from the hospital and cuddled up with our newborn on the couch before I was already being asked, “Will you try for a second soon?”
As time went on, this never-ending questioning went from being simply annoying to actually rather painful. My husband and I experienced a very difficult journey and battle with secondary infertility on our way to our second child. I suppose people assumed that because we had one, it would be easy for us to have another. Well, let me just tell you, it is not like riding a bike, as some less than helpful people, however well-intentioned, might suggest. It was then that I began to wonder: What is everyone’s obsession with tomorrow? Can we not just enjoy the here and now?
When we were blessed with our second son, I was sure the “trying” questions would cease. Alas, they did not, and somehow I think my ovaries heard them because I became pregnant just 5 months after my second child was born. Now that’s packing it in!
So at long last, after years of fielding the question, “Will you try for another?” I can tell you that the questions have finally slowed down. In fact, it’s those same people who often asked the question who are now shocked that we have three children!
What is everyone’s obsession with getting to the next “stage” or the next “big thing?” It is as though our society is obsessed with the next event rather than enjoying what’s right in front of us. Will I have a fourth child, or even a fifth? To be honest, I don’t know, and that’s okay. If you are struggling with the question of whether or not to have another baby, don’t feel rushed to make a decision. Often there are factors, such as finances, age, and career, that unfortunately have to play into our decision making. While you are deciding, focus on enjoying the here and now, and have trust in your ability to work through these big questions over time.
And if you aren’t thinking about trying yourself but are wondering if the lady in the office next to you is, try not to ask her the next time you’re on a coffee break together!
Already bought your tickets for this summer’s 98 Degrees and New Kids on the Block tour? Now you can share the experience with your little one! Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees just released an adorable children’s album called A Father’s Lullaby, and the mix of original and classic songs is sure to relax you and your baby.
Nick and his wife Vanessa became parents back in September, when their son Camden John was born. Now, the proud papa gushes to us about his music and his little boy:
Congratulations on Camden! How is fatherhood treating you so far? I love being a dad. It’s just a blast. He’s a great kid, so I got lucky there. It’s definitely life changing but it’s been positive in every single possible way.
Do you have any advice for other new parents? The best advice I got was to not give advice. Every kid is different and every scenario is different. You have to find your own way and figure out what works for you as parents. The only broad stroke advice I would give is enjoy every day. There’s something cool that happens every day with Camden and I’m just glad I’m there to see it.
You’re a huge sports fan. Will Camden be going to games with you? He will! But I am open to the possibility that he doesn’t like sports. But until he tells me otherwise, we’re going to be all about it. Of course as a father, I look forward to taking him to his first baseball game or playing catch in the front yard. But I also want him to be his own person. Maybe he won’t like sports, and that’s fine. He’s got to make his own way and discover his own passions.
Making A Father’s Lullaby must have been a different experience for you. It was a really special project for me. I became interested in doing it once I found out we were pregnant, and I started thinking about all the changes that were going to happen. There were a lot of emotions and feelings that I wanted to express. And I thought what better way to do it than a lullaby record? It wasn’t like writing a typical pop record, because the idea is to be calming and soothing. The producer and I poured ourselves into this project as fathers.
Are there any songs on the album that are particularly meaningful for you? The two most important men in my life are my dad and my son. “A Father’s Lullaby” is a song about passing on traditions that I got from my father to my son, and one day in turn, he’ll pass them onto his son. It’s about that bond between generations that’s so important. There’s also the song, “You Are My Sunshine,” which my grandfather used to sing to me all the time. It was special to put that on the record for him as well.
It sounds like the whole CD is pretty special to you. I’m really excited to share this album with all my fans out there. A lot of them were fans of 98 Degrees many years ago, and now they have families and kids of their own. I think it’s a great way to continue to share the music and the experience of being a parent with them.
Proposal Would Make Preschool Available to All American Children Within Five Years
The plan was released by the Center for American Progress, which has close ties to the White House. Education Department officials have signaled that President Obama will make pre-kindergarten programs a priority during his second term. (via NY Daily News)
NYC First to Get Realistic Shooting Simulation Game for Kids
A shooting simulation game that lets children pretend to have shootouts in an indoor fake village with a bank, offices and what appears to be a school has come to Queens and is raising concern among law enforcement authorities. (via NBC New York)
New Whooping Cough Strain in US Raises Questions
Researchers have discovered the first U.S. cases of whooping cough caused by a germ that may be resistant to the vaccine. Health officials are looking into whether cases like the dozen found in Philadelphia might be one reason the nation just had its worst year for whooping cough in six decades. The new bug was previously reported in Japan, France and Finland. (via Fox News)
Restaurant’s ‘Well-Behaved Kids’ Discount Goes Viral; Mom Shares Her Secrets
Laura King expected a tally of good food on her restaurant tab. A credit for her children’s good manners, on the other hand, came as quite a surprise. (via Today)
Black Parents Claim Disneyland Character Refused to Touch Their Kids
An African-American family is suing Disneyland after, the family claims, an actor who portrayed the White Rabbit character from “Alice in Wonderland” refused to hug or touch their children because of their skin color, reports CBS Los Angeles station KCBS-TV. (via CBS News)
Air Pollution May Lower Birth Weight
A pregnant woman’s exposure to outdoor air pollution may increase the risk of her baby being born at a lower birth weight, according to a large multinational study. (via MyHealthNewsDaily)
Texas School System Finance Plan Unconstitutional, Judge Rules
The system Texas uses to fund public schools violates the state’s constitution by not providing enough money to school districts and failing to distribute it fairly, a judge ruled Monday in a landmark decision that could force the Legislature to overhaul the way it pays for education. (via Huffington Post)
Adult Diabetes Drug May Work in Very Obese Youth
A drug originally approved to treat adults with diabetes may also help severely obese youths lose some weight, according to a new study. (via Reuters)
Where Do Babies Come From: Why a Super Bowl Ad Got It Wrong
“Dad, where do babies come from?” The opening line of Kia’s Super Bowl commercial doesn’t beat around the bush. The question spills forth during a car ride, making Dad’s eyes bug out before he quickly recovers and spins a fantastical story of a planet, Babylandia, from which newborns of every ilk originate. (via Time)
Researchers Pioneer Treatment for Viral Infection Common in Children
Researchers at Imperial College London have discovered a new way in which a very common childhood disease could be treated. In the first year of life, 65 per cent of babies get infected by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). (via Science Daily)
Playtime: Affectionate, Less Controlling Mothers Have Strongest Relations with Their Children
Researchers long have evaluated the roles parents play in children’s development. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that mothers’ directiveness, the extent to which they try to control the content and pace of young children’s play, varies based on the children’s ages and the mothers’ ethnicities. In addition, the study found that the more directive the mothers were during play, the less engaged children were with them and the more negative emotion the children displayed toward their mothers. (via Science Daily)
A great many moms are sailing down streets and highways when we’re desperately sleep deprived, distracted and futzing with our phones (a habit that’s twice as dangerous as drunk driving). All the while, the lights of our lives—our babies!—are in the backseat (often in a carseat that’s installed wrong). And it’s happening all the time—moms log an average of 150 miles a week.
These are just a few of the alarming habits revealed in a study of more than 2,000 mothers with children under age 2 that American Baby conducted with Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization aimed at preventing childhood injuries. In fact, nearly 10 percent of new moms have been in a crash while driving with their baby. That’s almost three times higher than the rate among the general population, and rivals the crash rate of teens. One of several possible culprits: 64 percent of moms turn around in their seat to tend to their child instead of looking at the road ahead. For more eye-openers, check out this infographic.
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I’ve been guilty of careless driving myself. When my firstborn, Julian, was nine months old, I missed a stop sign while heading to Costco. I was newly transplanted in the suburbs, rusty at driving after a decade in the city, and beyond delirious. I realized my mistake and screeched to a halt a few feet later, causing another car to rear-end us. No one was hurt—massive sigh of relief—but the accident shook me. I signed up for refresher driving lessons and vowed to be more aware on the road, especially while chaffeuring my most precious passenger.
It’s time to STOP, think and hit reverse on these risky habits. This year, let’s all resolve to be more mindful and focused each time we leave our driveway. We owe it to the little people strapped in behind us, and to every other driver on the road.
To learn more about slip-ups moms make behind the wheel, and simple ways to protect your family when you head out, read the feature about our exclusive survey in the January issue of American Baby, and watch our video below on the driving rules every mom should follow. The keys to a safer year are in your hand.