Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Adorable Small Child May Qualify For Exorcism [Jezebel]

March of Dimes and Prematurity Awareness Month [P&N]

The 8 Germiest Places in the Mall [Health]

Congress pushes back on healthier school lunches [BusinessWeek]

Women Who've Had More Kids Than Michelle Duggar [theStir]

Breast-Feeding May Boost Children's IQ [LiveScience]

Doctors see surge in newborns hooked on mothers' pain pills [USAToday]

Tips on Custody, Visitation and the Holidays [SFGate]

Motherhood Changes Shopping Habits

Once a woman becomes a mother everything changes - the way she thinks, the way she acts and her plans for the future. According to new data, mothers even shop differently. While you're shopping this holiday season it might be fun to see how your shopping behavior has changed since welcoming your little one into the world.

The data on the shopping habits of 8,000 mothers was collected by BabyCenter in association with comScore this month. Their findings are not surprising. Women without children make most of their purchases based on style and personal expression. Once they become mothers, they tend to choose items that are safe and inexpensive. Mothers also tend to look for products that contribute to a lower-maintenance lifestyle. They shop online more for items such as video games, office supplies, apparel, photo printing, party supplies and hardware and software. They outspend the general public in groceries, home improvement, auto, travel and electronics. The most interesting part of the survey revealed that 39% of mothers said the most peaceful part of their day was their time spent online.

Many mothers might look at this survey with a resounding, "duh," but the results might give retailers a better idea of how to sell products to parents - namely, by making products safer and lowering costs. Many mothers will also probably look at their child dressed in the trendiest leggings and cute bubble dress and be able to confidently say they still buy some items with style and self-expression in mind.

What are you most often looking for when you're shopping online? Does this study accurately describe your spending habits since becoming a mom? 

Motherhood Changes Shopping Habits [MarketingCharts]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Researchers Find Clear-cut Ways to Stop Tantrums

Picture this: your child wants the cereal in the red box, in which the number one ingredient is sugar and you reply with a firm "no." She begins to whine and you gently reassert: "no." The whine turns into a cry, accompanied by a look of pure abandonment. "I'm sorry honey, that stuff is not good for you." The cry turns into a scream as she falls on the floor in total heartbreak. At this point you begin to notice the people staring down the aisle to find out how horribly you've abused your child as her screams are transformed into hyperventilating. You scoop her up, leave the cart of groceries in the aisle, and head home to come to terms with the fact that the shopping will have to wait for another day. Sound familiar? Time-outs, withholding treats and other conventional disciplinary methods don't always work to teach a child good behavior, but thankfully there are some sure-fire techniques on the horizon.

Yale Unversity and King's College have teamed up to find effective long-term strategies for quelling tantrums. Parent Management Training, the system they helped cultivate, focuses on three factors, called the ABCs. "A" stands for Antecedent - the environment or situation that sets the stage for a tantrum. "B" stands for Behavior and encourages healthy behavior when faced with situations that could lead a child to throw a tantrum. "C" stands for Consequences and pushes parents to provide positive reinforcement for good behavior. These steps all sound like common sense, but it's sticking to them that's tricky. However, when researchers trained parents how to follow these steps, not only did children exhibit better behavior but some parents (particularly, single mothers) did better in their own lives.

One of the most important parts of the ABCs is reinforcing positive behavior and ignoring bad behavior. Parents are asked to be very specific with their praise. Instead of giving general praise such as, "good job," researchers recommend saying things like, "you did a good job putting your book away when I asked you to." They recommend following up with a touch as well. Parents can also point out good behavior in others when they see it, but should avoid comparing other children to their own.

The techniques need to be tailored for each situation and might seem counter-intuitive sometimes. For example, a child that breaks things while throwing a tantrum could be praised if he/she doesn't break things this time. In a situation like that, parents would be encouraged to play a pretend game called, "let's-pretend -you-have-a-tantrum-but-don't-throw-things," to show the child how to better express himself. Practicing in small steps will eventually lead to less demonstrative behavior. Parents are also encouraged to model good behavior themselves if they expect junior to follow suit. Speaking respectfully to other people is a great way to show a child how to deal with others.

The researchers also suggests setting the tone for a situation to avoid future tantrums. They recommend being firm with the child, but still offering choices. For example, "you must wear a coat, would you like to wear the red one or the green one?" Sometimes a small change in tone works wonders. One set of parents the researchers worked with were encouraged to change the tone of desperation in their voices when they had trouble getting their child to use the potty. He already knew how to use it but still refused to use it when he had to go. Once his parents stopped begging and took on a new attitude by saying, "You don't have to go to the toilet. When you're bigger, you'll get it." The child began using it regularly.

Many parents will find these tidbits to be common sense, but we all can use a reminder that there's a simple, straight-forward approach to teaching a child good behavior.

How do you encourage good behavior?

Tantrum Tamer: New Ways Parents Can Stop Bad Behavior [WSJ]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Has a Baby Girl [People]

Preeclampsia predicted using test during pregnancy [BBCNews]

The best weight-loss tips for new moms [FitPregnancy]

What You Need to Know About Pregnancy and the Flu Shot [TheStir]

My shameful military pregnancy [Salon]

Tips to Help Families Survive the Holidays After a Child Has Died [MarketWatch]

She's Pregnant: Nesting and a Man's T-Shirts [ChicagoNow]

Disney Buys Pornographers' Parenting Website (Babble) [Gawker]

13 Things No One Tells You About Having a Baby  [iVillage]

Geek Chic Decor: 7 Nerdy Finds For the Nursery [lilsugar]

Mama Never Told Me Giveaway Winners!

A couple of weeks ago, we asked readers to send in the strangest comments that they received during pregnancy or since becoming a parent. You didn't disappoint! It's incredible what some people will say. Here are a few of our favorites and the winners of a free copy of Mama Never Told Me:

From mother-in-laws:

"How do you expect her teeth to come in if you aren't feeding her anything hard enough to push her gums down passed her teeth?'"

"I am happy you are having a boy, but we really would have enjoyed a girl more."

After deciding to be a stay-at-home mom - "Well that is too bad that you won't be using your hard earned education for so long."

From a new grandma:

"Whenever you and your husband are ready to start having sex, it is important that the baby isn't anywhere where she might be exposed to it or become confused. Just bring her over to my house whenever you want to have sex and I'll watch her and keep her happy until you're done."

From a new grandpa:

"Duck tape and peanut butter, peanut butter to keep them quiet and duck tape to keep them still."

From co-workers:

"They used to give women a beer to get their milk to come in when they started breast feeding. I was having some trouble producing enough milk for my daughter so I thought I would give it a try. I tell you! My ta-ta's grew three sizes and were so full I couldn't feed her enough. So if you ever drink a beer while breastfeeding be prepared to look like Pamela Anderson for a day!"

"I just thought you were getting fat!"

From strangers:

"The best way to go into labor is to DRINK a margarita or two and go home and have sex with your husband."

"The comment that I find the strangest is when people look at my baby and say, 'She's a keeper!' I always wonder if they have ever seen a baby that's not a keeper!"


"My mothers friend told me that if i did not want my hair to fall off after the baby is born while in labor I need to have someone cut my ends or when the babies urinates for the first time put it in my hair."

"The very best 'tale' that I have been told during pregnancy is that if you ever put your hands above your head the baby will get tangled in the umbilical cord." 

"Does being out in the wind give infants gas?"

Thank you so much for your submissions!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meet the Babies of 11/11/11

Many babies were born on what some people think is the luckiest day of our lifetime, November, 11, 2011. What's so special about 11/11/11? Many people find it eery that they often just happen to look at the clock at 11:11 and some people use the unique minute to make a wish. Aziz Anan, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Portland, says that 11/11/11 is a repunit palindrome that only happens once a century. (A repunit is a number containing only one number, such as 555.) Many expectant parents around the world were hoping or planning to have their babies on this day. Here are some of the little ones that will claim 11:11 on 11/11/11 as their birthday:

Congratulations to the families and their lucky babies! Hopefully, the parents know who should be buying the  lottery tickets in the future.

11-11-11 meaning: A special once-a-century repunit palindrome day [LATimes]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Report Details the Current State of Maternity Leave in the US

The headlines were completely split on whether a new report released last week revealed good news or bad news about the state of paid maternity leave in the United States. Half of women who take maternity leave are taking paid maternity leave, but is this an improvement or are we backsliding?

"Majority of First-Time U.S. Moms Now Get Paid Maternity Leave" and "Paid-leave benefits lagging for working mothers in US" are just two of the headlines that reveal a very "glass half-full" or "half-empty" perspective on a new report. The authors of the Census Bureau report conclude: "Overall, these findings indicate that women are staying longer at work, returning more rapidly after having their first child, and in general choosing to incorporate work life with childbearing and child rearing more than did women in the 1960s."

As the old saying goes: the devil's in the details. The percentage of women pregnant with their first child who were able to take paid maternity leave has gradually edged up from 37.3% in the early 1980s to 50.8% from 2006-2008. However, advocates for better maternity leave policies say that the report is including paid sick and vacation days in their calculations. The extensive study includes educational background, ethnic background and many other factors. It reveals a great divide between women with college degrees and those without - half of women without college degrees quit their jobs during pregnancy and two-thirds of the women who received paid leave were college-educated. The divide insinuates what many of us already know - that women with higher-wage jobs are more likely to receive benefits even though they statistically have less children overall. Women in low-wage positions are more likely to quit altogether if the only option is unpaid leave and this gap has widened significantly over the past 50 years. The report does not detail the rising number of women in higher-wage positions over that time which most likely had a significant effect on the rising number able to take paid leave. The report also shows that almost half of first-time moms are taking unpaid leave, the only benefit that is required by U.S. law.

Needless to say, the findings are very mixed in this recent report, but one fact remains clear: pregnant women and new mothers are working a lot more than they used to. Many women would probably say it's because it's no longer financially feasible for them not to as the cost of living continues to rise at an alarming rate. A slight uptick in the number of women who receive paid maternity leave isn't showing mothers the respect they deserve for raising the next generation. The United States is currently one of the few countries that still does not guarantee paid maternity leave to it's citizens.

Where do you fit into these statistics? Did you receive paid leave? Did you quit your job instead of taking unpaid leave? 

Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961–2008 [Census Bureau]
Majority of First-Time U.S. Moms Now Get Paid Maternity Leave [SFGate]
Paid-leave benefits lagging for working moms in US [CBSNews]
Half of working moms get paid maternity leave [Today]
Women at Work [Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Emotional Consistency during Pregnancy and Infancy Important

A strange study was released last week stating that a consistent environment is more important to a developing child than trying to achieve a better environment after the pregnancy. The study basically states that it's better for the baby if the mother is consistently depressed or happy throughout her pregnancy and postpartum, rather than to suddenly change her emotional state, i.e. going from happy to depressed.

Researchers from the University of California-Irvine were trying to understand how a mother's emotional state affects their child. Pregnant women were assessed for depression before and after giving birth. The researchers found that babies did the best developmentally if the emotional state of their mother was consistent from pregnancy through the postpartum period. The babies did best if the mothers were either emotionally healthy before and after birth OR depressed before and after birth. Development of the babies was slowed if there was a sudden change - if the mother went from healthy to depressed or depressed to healthy after birth. The researchers believe the study makes a strong case for testing and treating prenatal depression early in a woman's pregnancy.

The findings might sound strange, but they actually fall right in line with previous studies on what's referred to as "programming" in the womb. A popular example: studies have found that babies who were in the womb during times of famine but were born into a world with plentiful food are more likely to become obese and develop diabetes. The theory is that babies are being sent the message in the womb to absorb as many nutrients as they can because food is scarce where they will be born. Once food is not scare, the developing child's body is still programmed to hold onto as much nutrition as it can.  Curt A. Sandman, one of the three researchers involved in the study, says: "We believe that the human fetus is an active participant in its own development and is collecting information for life after birth. It’s preparing for life based on messages the mom is providing."

Do you think your child has picked up certain traits from the environment they experienced while in the womb?

A Consistent Mother May Be Important to Baby’s Development [PsychCentral]