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Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg can campaign all she wants about #banbossy. But I’m not jumping on her bandwagon. And it makes me sad that her crusade is giving bossiness a bad name.
I can appreciate the sentiment behind the #banbossy campaign. Girls and women often struggle to have their voices heard and be forceful as leaders, without getting called a far less-attractive B word in the process. But as a lifelong “bossy” girl, I embrace the traits that earned me that label—the stubbornness, the take-charge attitude, the ability to steer even the most wayward project or person back on track. I think I can credit my bossiness for getting me most of my heart’s desires—everything from my ability to bend customer service reps to my bidding to my career to my status as a mom. (Trust me—you can’t navigate the paperwork for two adoptions successfully without being at least a little bit bossy!) I wear the word “bossy” as a badge of pride.
Besides, some of my favorite pop culture characters are my fellow bossy girls—Hermione Granger, Veronica Mars and yes, even Peanuts’ Lucy Van Pelt. (Despite Sheryl’s disdain for her, I’ve always been a sucker for characters like Lucy, with her whip-smart, take-no-prisoners vibe.)
And I’m proud to say that I’m raising two very bossy girls—girls who are unafraid to speak up for what’s right, who are excited to share their ideas. (Even if it leads to some pretty heated battles in my house.) We work on how to lead without completely trampling over their playmates or their siblings, and how to harness their bossiness and stubbornness to help them follow their dreams. And when I call my daughter bossy, it’s not to punish her—but to tell her that I notice how wonderfully strong she is. Maybe they won’t be President someday, but my daughters definitely won’t get pushed around.
As far as we’re concerned, there are plenty of B words we shouldn’t be called—but bossy simply isn’t one of them.
Tell us: Do you think bossy should be banned? Take our quiz to find out if you’re raising your child for success!
Image: bossy girl by jayfish/shutterstock.com
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Monday, February 24th, 2014
By Stephanie Wood
If you thought your child’s car safety seat was complicated to install before, hold on to your tethers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a new rule that takes effect tomorrow requiring labels warning parents not to use the LATCH anchoring system (LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) once the child and the seat combined reach a weight of 65 pounds. Why? With both kids and car seats getting heavier, there is concern that the excess weight can cause the lower anchors to pull out of the floor during a crash, especially since close to a third of all parents neglect to use the top tether straps along with the LATCH system. This new 65-pound limit applies to the lower anchors only, however. You should continue to use the top tethers at all times, regardless of your child’s size.
Could this be the beginning of the end for LATCH, designed a decade ago in an attempt to simplify safety seat installation? After all, you don’t need to use it. Seat belt installation (again, when used in conjunction with the top tethers) is equally safe and increasingly easier as the feds pile on the rules. With the new weight warnings, parents may just give up on LATCH altogether, especially when they are being advised to keep children in child safety seats longer than ever. In fact, with today’s car safety seats typically weighing an easy 25 pounds themselves, LATCH will cease to be usable once most kids graduate to front-facing seats. So why bother doing the added math when you are already counting your child’s hours of screen time, sleep, nutritional intake, physical activity, college fund contributions, and more?
The sad fact remains that with or without LATCH, car seats are misused 90 percent of the time, and the new weight limits are certainly not going to improve those numbers. The safest bet for all parents is to visit a car seat inspection station and have your installation checked by someone trained. To find one in your area, go to seatcheck.org or call 1-866-SEAT-CHECK.
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Friday, February 14th, 2014
Surely you’ve heard the phrase “breast is best.” While formula is a good option for some moms, breastfeeding offers a host of benefits to baby including an immune system boost and reduced risk of asthma, diabetes, and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies nurse for the first 12 months of life, and for years doctors, the federal government, and advocacy groups have been urging new mothers to breastfeed whenever possible. Happily, the message seems to be sinking in. In the United States 77 percent of newborn babies are now breastfed.
However, what has been baby’s gain has been formula makers’ loss, since of course when babies drink more breast milk they drink less formula. But, now formula companies have seen an opening in the milk market.
Doctors and pediatric nutritionists advise that 12 month-olds can safely switch to full-fat cow’s milk. But you may have seen other products on the store shelves: special powdered “milks” marketed to parents of toddlers. The colorful packaging touts their supposed health benefits, such as such as immune system support, growth promotion, and increased brain and eye health. And, indeed, these powders are frequently fortified with a host of vitamins and minerals.
But, is toddler milk really necessary for good health? According to New York-based pediatric dietitian Natalia Stasenko, the answer is simple: no. “Toddler milks are a way to add some nutrition to toddlers’ diets that is perfectly possible to obtain from foods for the vast majority of children.”
Besides, she adds, since science still doesn’t completely understand how synthetic vitamins and minerals are absorbed by the body, real food is still the best way to obtain them. “Plus, the amount of added nutrients toddlers milks contain is very often quite small. For example, one brand touting its benefits for brain development contains about 10mg of DHA per 8-ounce serving, about one-fifth of the DHA in approximately one bite of wild salmon.”
While these drinks can be a boon to parents whose children are malnourished or failing to thrive, what about run-of-the-mill picky eaters? Many parents of toddlers are concerned that their children aren’t getting adequate vitamins and minerals and hope that by providing these beverages they’re making up for any nutritional gaps. Stasenko suggests that, actually, toddler milks are likely to make kids more choosey. “Since these drinks are very palatable, thanks to added sugar and flavoring, it is likely that they will replace other nutritious foods and possibly even exacerbate picky eating habits.”
Toddler milks are especially popular in Asia and the United Kingdom. The UK newspaper The Guardian reports that almost half of mothers with young children used a toddler milk, “despite health professionals regularly advising parents that a healthy diet including cows’ milk provides a young child’s required nutrition.”
Compared to cow’s milk toddler milks are also significantly more expensive, weighing in at around 17 cents an ounce, as opposed to 3 cents an ounce for conventional milk and 7 cents an ounce for organic milk. That may not sound like a huge difference, but if your child is drinking 12 oz. of milk a day, that is a difference of about $50 a month for conventional milk and $35 a month for organic.
Of course as parents we want the best for our children, and when products suggest that they’ll make our children healthier, stronger, or smarter it’s tempting to snap them up. But, as Stasenko notes, “At age one, a child is ready to join the family at table and does not need any special foods.”
What do you think? What kind of milk does/did your toddler drink?
What kind of behaviors can you expect from your growing toddler? Take our quiz to find out!
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breast-feed, food, food and nutrition, health, the parents perspective, toddler, toddler milk | Categories:
Food & Nutrition, Health, Must Read, Safety, The Parents Perspective, Toddlers
Thursday, February 13th, 2014
Odds are, your Facebook feed has been inundated with a set of letters one blogger wrote — kind, gentle “I get you” notes from a stay-at-home mom to a working mom, and vice versa. Basically, one blogger’s attempt to stop the imaginary “mommy wars” with imaginary love notes. And maybe you’ve also seen the blog posts shredding apart these letters as retro drivel that doesn’t do any good for anyone, disrespects moms who work (or don’t) because they have no other choice, and basically read like they’re written by someone who doesn’t know any better.
So here’s the letter you didn’t get—from the work-from-home mom, the hybrid mom who kinda understands both the SAHMs and the working moms. The one who shushes her kids for work calls and feels guilty when she’s revising a report on her smartphone during the school concert. The one who blocks off her calendar to read stories to the first grade class and folds laundry on conference calls. The one who will be letting her kids spend their sixth snow day of the year tomorrow playing Disney Infinity ad infinitum, so she can attend to a series of meetings and must-dos.
But the truth is, there’s no one perfect way to be a mom—we’re all just doing what works best for our families (and hopefully, ourselves) at the moment. Whether we work or stay at home or work from home, we’re all stretched too thin, we’re all losing patience with our partners and our kids, and we’re all doing something that would lead to lots of snickering and eye rolling from other moms. We’re all soldiering on with too little sleep and too little time. And we’ve all internalized too many blogs and Pinterest posts and media stories that make us feel like we’re not measuring up if we don’t have a clean house, fancy handcrafted valentines treats, a C-level executive job and a hot date with our spouse on Saturday night.
We need to Just. Make. It. Stop. We need to throw our fellow moms a lifeline, instead of a snarky comment. We need to keep our mouths shut about others’ parenting choices (unless it’s something that’s truly, absolutely dangerous—like a toddler in a high wire act). We need to mind our own business, keep our eyes on our own papers, and vow not to be the catty commenter or the queen bee mom who looks down our nose at our friends’ baby name choices or vaccination regimen. Don’t rock the boat—we’re all on it.
And while we’re cutting other moms a break, we need to cut ourselves one, too. Because if you’re anything like me, you probably beat yourself up on a daily basis for at least half-a-dozen things you think you did wrong, the countless ways you don’t measure up to an arbitrary ideal that no single supermom could ever become. You are worried that you’re ruining your kids by letting them watch too much TV, or yelling when you’re 10 minutes late for school (again), or picking up a birthday cake from the supermarket instead of handcrafting a Pinterest masterpiece. But that worry—that’s exactly what we’re all doing wrong. Because in the end, it won’t really matter if you feed them sugary cereal or fresh-made organic granola, if you work a crazy-hours job or homeschool them, if you cart them around to 20 different extracurriculars, or don’t sign them up for a single one. The key isn’t doing this whole crazy mom thing “right.” The key is making sure that your kids know they’re loved. And if you’ve accomplished that, you’re golden.
What kind of parent are you? Take our parenting style quiz to find out!
Image: Working Mom by Pim/Shutterstock.com
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Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Preventing children from picking up smoking just got a little easier.
CVS Caremark announced today that they will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in all of their stores (more than 7,600) nationwide by Oct. 1, 2014. They also plan on launching a national smoking cessation program this spring.
This makes CVS the first national pharmacy chain to take such a bold action in the ongoing battle to eliminate smoking. For a company that identifies as a healthcare store, it makes sense for the national chain to remove something so unhealthy from its shelves.
In a video released by the company explaining the end of tobacco sales, CVS Caremark President and CEO Larry Merlo said, “Everyday [CVS is] helping millions of patients manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. And all of these conditions are made worse by smoking. Tobacco products have no place in a setting were healthcare is delivered.” In an additional statement, he added, “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
While the number of adult smokers has dropped from 42 to 18 percent since 1965, the rate of reduction has stalled in the past decade. Annually, more than 480,000 deaths are attributed to smoking, and it is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the US. Women, for the first time ever, are just as likely to die from smoking-caused diseases as men. And more than 3,200 under the age of 18 try their first cigarettes each day, with 700 becoming daily smokers. Smoking also costs the country $132 billion in direct medical costs and $157 billion in lost productivity every year, according to a recent Surgeon General report from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
But perhaps the scariest stat from the report can be found in Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s introductory message, “If we continue on our current trajectory, 5.6 million children alive today who are younger than 18 years of age will die prematurely as a result of smoking.” This is one out of every 13 children.
For something so preventable, even one is too many.
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