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Monday, January 5th, 2015
My oldest son was just a 2-month-old baby when he went on his first flight, from New York to Minnesota, and not quite 4 months old when I flew with him, solo, from New York to California. Both times I nursed him on demand, and both times he remained pretty much quiet and content. No, I didn’t use Benadryl. Yes, I thanked my lucky stars—not to mention the kind Jet Blue flight attendant who kept an eye on him while I dashed to the bathroom.
Eight years later, my son and his 3-year-old brother are both good travelers. (Let me pause from typing for a moment to knock on wood.) But few topics bring out the Internet trolls more than kids—specifically, babies—on planes. Just two weeks ago we wrote about three women who came to blows over a crying baby on an Air China flight. And more than one story about parents giving out “goody bags” to fellow passengers has gone viral in recent years.
Let me just say I’m not a goody bag fan (unless it’s this version)—which is why I was intrigued by this recent blog post arguing against the practice by Today Parents Senior Editor Rebecca Dube. In her piece, “Why you shouldn’t give out goody bags while flying with a baby,” Dube writes,
Babies are babies, and sometimes they cry. Everyone needs to just accept that reality and get over it.
No offense to these new parents, who are almost certainly lovely people. They did a nice thing and made people smile. But they’re part of a dangerous trend: People apologizing, or being made to feel they should apologize, for having children.
The mom of two continued: “I’d be thrilled if someone gave me a bag of treats. I’m not one to turn down free candy. But we’re at a weird cultural place in America now where some parents are so entitled and clueless they do things like letting their young children poop in the middle of a restaurant, while other parents are so scared of offending anyone that they go around apologizing for normal kid behavior. Surely, there’s a middle ground here called common sense.”
Hear, hear! Finally, I thought, a fellow mom speaks my truth! I didn’t get ear plugs from the two college kids who very loudly discussed their semesters overseas during my entire (and I mean entire) two-hour flight home this past holiday season. Nor did I get so much as a gummy bear from the woman sitting in my row who had her dog on the seat between us. (And no, it wasn’t a service animal.) What if the dog barked?! I might be inconvenienced! The fact is, this is a great big world, and we’re not always going to be happy with everyone in it, but you don’t deserve candy (or ear plugs) from someone just because they or their kids might disturb your zen.
In fact, I think that’s one of the things that bugs me most about the goody bag trend. It’s not a thoughtful gesture by beleagured parents whose baby bawled for most of a long flight; it’s a preemptive bribe just in case their wee one makes a squawk. Not to mention, where does the gift-giving begin and end? It’s not like a crying baby in row 4 can’t be heard in row 12, after all. Goody bags for the entire plane, then?
Still, the comments to Dube’s blog post—nearly 300 of them—were overwhelmingly negative. Choice snippets: “this article is wrong on so many levels,” “YOU are an entitled jerk,” “Your article is pathetic, and so are you,” and countless versions of this: “Drive, take the train or STAY HOME if your brat isn’t old enough to behave in public.” (That’s so much better, right? Because no one would be stuck on a moving train with a crying baby…)
Frankly, I’m shocked that so many people think babies have no place on airplanes—at all. And that parents who want, or need, to travel should drive or take a train. No, I’m not going to stick up for entitled parents who think the world should revolve around their kids, and who don’t do anything to soothe and/or entertain their babies and kids on planes. But I also can’t stand the haters who think they’re entitled to a completely silent flight and who think that babies should be seen and never heard. Please, can’t we all just get along? Especially when we’re traveling at 32,000 feet?
Tell us: Do you think babies belong on planes? And are you a fan of goody bags for air passengers?
Erika Rasmusson Janes is a senior editor at Parents.com and the mom of two rambunctious boys. She’ll apologize profusely if her 3-year-old kicks the back of your seat. Follow her on Twitter.
Image of mom and baby on a plane: Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 11th, 2014
By Stephanie Wood
For most parents to be, there’s no such thing as “too much information” when it comes to their future children’s health and well-being. Whether you’re just thinking about getting pregnant or already have a baby on the way, you’ve no doubt considered the pros and cons of the prenatal tests available that screen for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome.
When I had my three children, I chose to only have screenings and not to undergo anything invasive like CVS or amniocentesis because of the risks involved. But now there’s a new testing option that I would have seriously considered, and you should too: Jscreen is a saliva-based, at-home genetic testing kit that indicates if you are a carrier for over 80 different genetic disorders.
Developed at Emory University’s Department of Human Genetics in Atlanta, the test was originally created for the Jewish population, which is at a higher risk for 40 genetic disorders. Now, however, Jscreen has an expanded panel that screens for over 80 disorders common in the general populations as well, including Cystic Fibrosis, Fragile X syndrome (the most common known cause of autism spectrum disorders), and Sickle Cell Anemia.
Why genetic testing matters
Even if you don’t know of any cases of genetic disorders in your or your partner’s family, you should still take this seriously. According to Emory University genetic counselor and Jscreen program senior director Karen Grinzaid, 80 percent of babies born with a serious genetic disorder have no family history of that disorder. And if you and your partner both turn out to be carriers of a genetic illness, each of your children will have a 25 percent risk for actually having the disorder. “The vast majority of people will have a perfectly clean genetic history,” notes Grinzaid, “so Jscreen is most likely going to provide peace of mind.” But if the results do indicate you are carriers, a genetic counselor will help you understand your options, such as using invitro fertilization (IVF) or an egg or sperm donor. Other carriers will decide to take no action at all, but will be prepared in case their child is born with a genetic disorder.
How Jscreen works
Jscreen is covered by most insurance, which means you will not likely have to pay more than the $99 testing kit fee. All results are reviewed by a Jscreen physician or you may choose to have them sent directly to your own doctor. If you or your partner has tested positive for a genetic disease, follow-up counseling is included via phone, videoconferencing, or a local genetic counselor who is part of the Jscreen network. Once you return your saliva samples, you’ll receive the results in four weeks or less. Other direct-to-consumer tests on the market have been controversial because they don’t provide any guidance about the results, but the medical community has been supportive of Jscreen because of the doctor involvement and follow-up counseling, notes Grinzaid. And your privacy is not at stake—all the results are kept in a secure database that only you can access.
Image: Colorful DNA strand via Shutterstock
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babies, baby, baby health, genetic disease, genetic disorder, genetic testing, genetics, jscreen, pregnancy, pregnancy health, prenatal testing, saliva testing | Categories:
Babies, Health, Pregnancy, The Parents Perspective
Monday, May 12th, 2014
In the New York City neighborhood where I live, the streets are busy on the warm spring days just before the first Sunday in May. All stereotypes about rude New Yorkers to the contrary, it is a friendly place and it is common for people to wish one another happy Mother’s Day here. Even complete strangers say it to me, often when my kids are nowhere around.
I like to think I have recovered fairly well from the physical assaults of pregnancy. We are long past the sleepless nights of babyhood in our house and the tricycle is on its way to being a rusty garden ornament. So what is the giveaway? I look down…maybe it is my abs? I like to think not. Perhaps it is something else. My breasts? No, it’s been years since I nursed my babies, although they certainly were perkier before those midnight feelings. Hmmm…perhaps it is something more subtle?
In poker they call it a tell–the little unconscious signs that give you away. When it comes to motherhood I bet I have a thousand tells. Like the dark circles that cropped up below my eyes during the first sleep-deprived flush of new motherhood and never entirely left. Or those little lines that radiate from the outer corner of each eye. They’re called age lines but I know mine are a direct result of sun damage from Saturdays on the soccer field and hours spent squinting by the side of my in-laws’ swimming pool, doing duty as the designated water watcher for my sons and their cousins. Maybe it’s the little grey hairs that I’ve sprouted of late…it is just a coincidence that they came about just as our older son started to text and Snapchat and find his way around both the social and physical world with more freedom? The scruffy nails come from loads (and loads) of laundry–a thousand pairs of pants turned right-side out, pockets emptied.
But it might also be the laugh lines on my cheeks, born of many good times with the kids. Or the soft spots on my cheek, the lucky recipient of literally thousands of goodnight kisses. Or the happiness our boys bring me that radiates however subtle and not just on that rare day when I get breakfast in bed.
I know some women take issue with the rampant tossing about of “Happy Mother’s Day.” It can be a painful holiday, one that is all the more upsetting when a total stranger thinks every passing woman is a parent. So I am careful with my greetings myself, always mindful not to assume. But when another woman–a total stranger–has the sixth sense to read my signals, whatever they may be, I always wish her Happy Mothers Day right back. Anyone who knows how much I relish this little thank you also, I am sure, needs one herself.
Now about those abs…check out this advice about helping get them back in shape post-pregnancy:
What’s your parenting style? Find out here.
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Monday, January 6th, 2014
Digging in to the fourth season of my favorite soap opera for fancy folks, PBS’s Downton Abbey, which premiered last night, I was reminded of how very happy I am to be living in 2014 instead of 1922. Seeing the misery in the Grantham/Crawley crew 6 months after baby George’s birth made me think of that other much happier nonfiction family, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their own baby George.
Let’s take a look at some key differences between the two famous Georges, HRH Prince George of Cambridge and the baby George Crawley born to Downton’s Lady Mary and her late husband. (You’d have to be living under a rock not to know what befell poor Matthew but stop reading now if you’re putting off Season-4 viewing for a future binge-watch.)
For one thing, HRH George can look forward to a long, healthy life. A boy born in Downton George’s day had a life expectancy of only 56 years, whereas life expectancy at birth for males in England is now hovering at a robust 80. In Downton’s era thousands were still dying of tuberculosis. So let’s hear it for progress, specifically vaccines and good hygiene practices, which have fought back so many infectious diseases.
Consider the progress that has been made in other areas of parenthood: The Duke was by Kate’s side when she gave birth; had he been able to get to the hospital in time, poor Matthew undoubtedly would have been banished to an anteroom or sent down to the pub.
Then there’s breastfeeding. The Duchess is reportedly breastfeeding her son. Not so sure about Mary. All the fun and memorable moments of Downton babycare seem to be left to the chilly Nanny West, who tells Mr. Barrow that he isn’t allowed to touch the baby without her permission. (Who can blame her, given that the influenza pandemic was only just winding down.) The Duke and Duchess, on the other hand, have said they want to be hands-on parents, and although they apparently have Will’s childhood nanny helping out, the fact that Will drove his little family home from the hospital himself signals an active role for everyone’s favorite royal father.
But far and away it’s the conditions for women that are most troubling in this comparison. The Duchess graduated from university, whereas in Downton days, only about a quarter of students of higher education were women. And yes, the Duke and Duchess had a boy, but had their child instead been a daughter, the newly published Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 altered the rules of succession to the throne so that male heirs can no longer kick women out of place in the line for the throne. Poor Lady Mary is out of luck there as well. Baby George inherited two-thirds of the estate while Mary inherited only one-third. The baby and Lord Grantham thus have the controlling interest. Wait ’til little Downton George gets wind of that–imagine how hard it must be to discipline a majority shareholder! Maybe a lot like disciplining a future king?
George isn’t the only regal name for a baby boy. Check out our baby name finder for more inspiration.
Plus: Nanny West not really your style? Learn how to choose a good nanny in this video:.
Image courtesy of PBS.
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Monday, December 9th, 2013
Fisher-Price sparked controversy recently with its new product, the Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat, an activity seat that comes with an iPad holder, along with traditional bat-at toys and a mirror. Free iPad apps are also available for developmental, soothing, and early learning during Baby’s seat time.
While this “apptivity” seat seems like an easy way to distract and educate a baby, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen exposure for babies under 2. Studies have shown that children younger than 2 who watch television and videos may have expressive language delays, and children younger than 1 who watch a lot of television alone have a significantly higher chance of speech delays.
Fisher-Price is a company we rely on for great kids toys, so why would it put out an educational product that goes against the AAP’s recommendation? “We strive to provide thoughtful features and solutions for parents that we’ve identified through their needs,” Kathleen Alfano, Ph.D. and senior director of child research at Fisher-Price, told ABC news in a statement.
It’s clear that the company isn’t on a mission to hinder Baby’s development — it’s just trying to sell a product in a competitive market.
Let’s not forget that parents have complete control over their parenting choices. “We know the Apptivity Seat isn’t for everyone. We want to give parents options, which is why we have over a dozen infant seats from which they can choose,” Alfano says. And of course, parents can and should limit their baby’s screen time, whether they have this particular product or not.
Regardless of the AAP’s recommendations, parents are, realistically, going to pass their phones or iPads to their babies to distract or engage them from time-to-time. No one needs to feel guilty about doing this in moderation – it’s 2013 and screens are nearly impossible to avoid. But you might want to steer away from products that encourage extended screen-time and opt for a more traditional toy or product.
If a parent is going to buy this product or one like it, they should consider this: Person-to-person interaction with babies is fundamental to their development. Allowing an iPad to replace human interaction with digital engagement for extended periods risks denying your baby of the excitement of the real world around him. So whether it’s in an “apptivity” seat or elsewhere, we can all try to use digital distractions less, and human ones more.
Find infant activity gear on Shop Parents and keep track of your baby’s development with our Milestone Tracker.
Image via Fisher-Price
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