The Pink Medicine Lie

Common cold, flu, and ear infection season is upon us, and whether your kiddo is picking up stray germs in that perfect culture medium we call the classroom, or sharing microbe-laden chewy toys at playgroup, it’s likely you’ll have a childhood illness or two coming your way this fall.

Before you can say back-to-school-night, your guy may start to look a little drippy. Next, come those three little words no mother ever wants to hear, “my ear hurts”. OH NO! It’s time to high-tail it to the pediatrician for some vitamin A, right?

Vitamin A, the magic elixir, the pink stuff, bubblegum medicine, fruit punch — all the nicknames you can think of mean the same thing. Amoxicillin. An antibiotic in the penicillin family that is used to treat a variety of bacterial infections (remember that word — bacterial — we’ll come back to it in a minute). Amoxicillin. Best friend and superhero of moms everywhere. It can fix anything AND kids actually ask for its pink, sticky goodness.

I’m here to tell you it ain’t necessarily so. Children’s ear infections, colds, and many other minor childhood illnesses don’t automatically need to be treated with antibiotics, amoxicillin or otherwise.

It has taken way too long for the American Academy of Pediatrics to change its recommendation, but based on serious research done in Europe we now agree that routinely treating all ear infections with antibiotics is not the best option.

Many ear infections are caused by viruses, and antibiotics won’t touch them because they’re only effective against bacteria. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, too, so antibiotics won’t help those either.

Ear infections are not contagious, although the associated cold that can trigger them is. The pain stems from the buildup of pressure in the middle ear. The degree of pain varies: some ear infections may go unnoticed, while others can be excruciating. The pain peaks in the first twenty-four hours, and rarely lasts for more than a couple of days.

For the longest time doctors believed antibiotics were the only way to treat the symptoms of ear infections. So almost every kid has ingested large amounts of that yummy pink stuff. But this widespread overuse has resulted in a serious problem: antibiotic resistance.

The more often bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the more resistant they become. Because bacteria reproduce rapidly, these antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread like wild fire. Unlike higher organisms, bacteria can transfer DNA to other bacteria that are not their offspring, and even to members of completely unrelated bacterial species. In effect, bacteria can teach one another how to outwit antibiotics.

And lots of them have pulled an end-run on amoxicillin. In many communities the most common bugs laugh at our savior in pink. Doctors are forced to move on to bigger guns with more side effects and greater risk for resistance.

Increasingly, the standard of care for children with an ear infection is to soothe their pain with acetaminophen or ibuprofen and observe them carefully for signs of persistent  infection. Pain medications are magical (unlike the pink stuff), and give relief quickly. Your kid will go from crying to singing as soon as they take effect.

If the infection doesn’t resolve on its own in a few days an antibiotic may be called for, but giving your child’s own immune system a chance to do its thing first is the way to go. The reality is that most ear infections, whether caused by a virus or bacteria, will heal just fine without antibiotics.

Unfortunately, despite the scientific evidence and the new recommendations, many doctors are still heavy-handed with the prescription pad when it comes to ear infections, partly due to their habit of dispensing gallons of pink medicine, and partly due to the pressure they get from moms who just love the stuff.

So next time your little one complains about a painful ear have your pediatrician take a look, but don’t ask for vitamin A. And if your doctor offers some, ask whether your child really needs it, or if it might be better to wait a few days and see if it that hurting ear clears up without it. If it makes you feel more secure, another option is to take a prescription and hold on to it for 3-5 days to see if the infection heals naturally.

But that takes some willpower. It’s awfully tempting to grab for the pink stuff, even if it is a lie. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that decreasing inappropriate antibiotic use is the best way to control resistant organisms. To do that, we have to educate patients, parents and physicians about the need to use antibiotics more sparingly. Be strong. Just say ‘no’.

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Peer Pressure – It’s Not Just For Kids

The experts talk a lot about the power of peer pressure and how to help kids resist its pull as they enter adolescence. We are taught that the peer group has a remarkable and sometimes frightening ability to sway our kids away from the path they know to be right – the one we work so hard to keep front and center in their lives.

But what doesn’t get discussed nearly as much is how peer pressure and the tendency to go along with the crowd continues through life and can defeat us when we become moms and dads.

A case in point: Shannon, the mother of two boys from Portland, wrote that she was upset and confused by something that had happened with a couple moms in her son’s class. Billy, Shannon’s fourth grader, was invited to a sleepover party by a known troublemaker and overall bad influence. She said no to the invitation and her son accepted her answer without much of a fuss.

Later that week she got talking to a couple other moms in the school parking lot. Neither of them wanted their kids go to the party either. They all agreed that based on past experience, it would be poorly supervised and fertile ground for trouble.

Shannon told them that she had said no and encouraged them to do the same given their strong reservations. After some discussion, they were all on board. But the next thing she knew, the moms had changed their minds and their kids were going to the party. It wasn’t that they couldn’t say no to their kid, they couldn’t say no to their friend.

The two moms confessed that they were afraid of the upset and conflict that might arise if they declined the invitation. They decided to just go along with it and hope for the best.

When Shannon asked why they didn’t just bow out gracefully, claiming a previous commitment, they were aghast. “I won’t tell a lie!” was the response. Putting their kids in a situation they knew was neither safe nor healthy seemed like a better choice.

Even though Shannon had stuck to her guns and done what she felt was right, she ended up feeling isolated and “out.” Then she began to question whether she was being overly protective since all the other mothers seemed to be okay with it – even though in her gut, she knew she was right. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

In this situation there are actually two things going on: the pressure to follow along with our peers and the tendency to avoid conflict at all costs. Women in general often feel uncomfortable making waves, not because they are biologically wimpier than men but because they are socialized to be accommodating. Thankfully, this is changing and girls today are more comfortable being assertive. But many adult women still struggle with this.

Let’s face it: whether we are 16 or 70, we all want to fit in. We all want friends. But once those kiddies show up in our lives, the cost of not being able to fight the pressure to go along with the crowd skyrockets. It’s no longer just the effects on us that we have to worry about if we lower our standards and bow to the group. Now we have to consider how our actions will impact the safety and well-being of our kids.

Some of the more common parental peer pressure traps that snare us every day include:

  • Letting kids go to parties or activities that are inappropriate or where supervision is questionable because our friends do.
  • Giving parties where rules are lax or non-existent because our friends do.
  • Letting teenagers drink or smoke pot at our homes because the other parents do.
  • Allowing girls to wear makeup or sexy clothing when they are too young because our friends do.
  • Letting kids have computers and T.V.’s in their rooms because our friends do.
  • Bending our own rules when we are around parents who have looser ones.

The thing to acknowledge is that we don’t always make bad parenting decisions simply because we have a hard time saying no to our kids. Sometimes it’s more that we don’t want to be odd (wo)man out with the other moms.

So how can you get more comfortable about following your own moral compass despite the influence of your peers? Start by paying attention to your feelings when you get into situations like this. If you begin to feel uncomfortable with what is being discussed, take notice. Check whether concerns about being different are causing you to question yourself and your values. Are they making it more likely that you will let others dictate what’s going to happen?

One of the best things to do is to take a good look at the other parents in your life and figure out which ones seem to be most on track and responsible when it comes to parenting. Wean out the ones who are constantly in crisis or who seem to make decisions that are inappropriate or irresponsible. A person who might have been a perfectly acceptable friend before you had kids might not be such a good fit now. Don’t forget: your peers matter! Surround yourself with good influences and depend on them for support.

In order to stand up for your own ideals, you don’t need to make a stink, you don’t need to shout, or to pass judgement. You must, however, learn to be discerning – to figure out what’s right for you and your family – and to stick to that truth calmly and courageously. You can definitely learn how to channel your “inner mama bear” and do what’s best for your children despite the potential social impact on you.

This is not a skill that can be learned overnight, but it can be practiced every day. And sometimes, if you follow your gut and do the unpopular thing, you are going to feel the sting of being the outsider. And that’s okay. You can do it anyway.

I would love to hear stories on this topic from you. Let us know how you’ve handled this kind of thing in your own life. Please share!


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ALL the 4-1-1 You’ll Ever Need to Feed Your Tiny Human


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Apples Pack A Powerful Punch!

appleshealthcholesterol_259You probably don’t give a lot of thought to the lowly apple, but nutritionists (and The Mamas) wish you would. It is one of the most nutritious and delicious everyday foods you can share with your family.

Apple season is about to explode from coast to coast and we want to give you some good, hard facts that will encourage you to grab a bunch of them while they are just coming off the trees. Then do your best to make sure that they make it into the mouths and lunch boxes of your babes.

Here are just a few of the many reasons why you might want to make apples the new go-to snack for your whole family:

1. Apples stimulate the production of saliva, which reduces tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria in the mouth. Who doesn’t want their child to have healthier gums and whiter teeth?

2. Apples are packed with antioxidants, powerful compounds that fight many diseases. A recent study found that one of the antioxidants found in apples helps boost the immune system, especially during times of stress.

3. Apples fight the development of many kinds of cancer, including pancreatic, liver, colon and breast.

3. Apples are an excellent source of fiber which provides a huge list of health benefits-it helps to prevent diarrhea and constipation, maintain a healthy weight, and lower the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

5. Apples are a good source of Vitamin C. Just one contains up to 25% of your child’s daily requirement.

6. Apples contain boron, an important mineral which helps to build and maintain strong bones.

7. Apples are fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free, just 65 – 80 calories and mouthwateringly delicious!

How to get the most out of this fabulous food:

  • Serve it to your kids in its whole, original form-unvarnished and straight up. No substitutions or alterations, please. Make sure you don’t accidentally eliminate all the good, wholesome stuff in those crunchy, juicy gems by trying to make them more “kid friendly.” For example: keep the peel! Please! Half the fiber is in it, so don’t take it off!
  • Also, make sure you don’t substitute apple juice or apple sauce for the whole fruit. Again, you lose a lot of fiber and add unwanted sugar and calories.
  • One of the best tricks I’ve found for getting kids to eat their apples instead of tossing them out is to quarter them and remove the core. This makes them a lot easier to eat and there’s no garbage to get rid of later. Letting the kids spread or dip a little peanut butter on top is also a good way to get them down the hatch. And cut up with a little cheese on the side is always a popular way to serve them, too.
  • Go for variety: One of mine loves red, the other two are more fond of green and yellow. Try them all and have your children rate their favorites.
  • Same thing for temperature. I love them chilled from the fridge. To me, they’re crunchier and sweeter that way but my youngest prefers them at room temperature. Give both ways a shot and see which one yours like best!



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Mother’s Love Changes a Child’s Brain

It’s not like we didn’t know, but it always helps when research provides medical evidence for what we thought all along.

Investigators at Washington University in St. Louis studied brain images of children who participated in a project focused on early onset depression in young children. As part of the project, Dr. Joan Luby and her colleagues measured the maternal support that children — who were ages 3 to 6 and had either symptoms of depression, other psychiatric disorders or no mental health problems — were given during a task.

The researchers placed mother and child in a room along with an attractively wrapped gift and a survey that the mother had to fill out. The children were told they could not open the present until five minutes had passed — basically until their mothers had finished the survey. Psychiatrists rated the amount of support the mothers gave to their children.

For example, a mother who was very supportive might console her child, explaining that the child had only a few more minutes to wait and that she understands the situation was frustrating. The task gave researchers an idea of how much support the child was typically receiving at home.

Four years later the researchers gave MRI brain scans to 92 children who underwent the waiting task. Compared with children with high maternal support, children with low support had smaller hippocampal regions, the part of the brain known to be important for learning, memory and stress responses. Results were consistent for children with symptoms of mental health problems and those without.

Though most of the parents in the study were biological mothers, the researchers say that the effects of nurturing on the brain are likely to be the same for any primary caregiver.

“It’s now clear that a caregiver’s nurturing is not only good for the development of the child, but it actually physically changes the brain,” Luby said. She and her team will continue following the children as they grow older, and plan to see how other brain regions are affected by parental nurturing during preschool years.

Take home message for Mamas looking to maximize smarts: love on ’em lots and lots. More nurturing = smarter, happier kids!


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At The Feet Of A Master

Here at MamasOnCall we work hard to help you do what you do — raise your children well and teach them everything they need to know in order to live happy, independent, successful lives. You are their first and most important teacher on their path through life and your value cannot be overstated.

There is a flip side to this equation, though. Yes, you are the teacher but did you ever consider that you can also be the student? True, kids don’t know much about manners or nutrition or how to tie their shoes, make their beds or prepare for a math test. They don’t know how to take turns or make up with a playmate after squabbling over a favorite toy. They can’t cook, drive a car, restrain themselves around an open bar featuring unlimited bowls of skittles or ice cream and they might burn their eyes (and brains) out watching t.v. or playing computer games if no one is around to say, “That’s enough!”

But here’s what they do know (and what you may have forgotten): how to be in the moment with no worries about the future or regrets about the past; how to make time slow down; how to feel their feelings deeply, express them plainly and then let them go; how to say they’re sorry and really mean it; how to find enjoyment in the simplest of activities like playing with an ant and a stick for half an hour; how to forgive and forget; how to become fully absorbed in whatever it is they are doing; how to live with the expectation that all will be well regardless of what’s going on now; how to open their hearts and love with abandon; how to challenge themselves to reach higher and farther than they did the day before; how to make a new friend in seconds; how to judge people based on their personal qualities instead of their looks, income level, job title or social status; how to sleep like a rock; how to express their creativity joyfully without giving a thought to what others might think; how to wonder; and how to greet each day with new eyes and a sense of excitement.

One of the most profound gifts that children bring to us is their willingness to just be who they are without excuses or apologies. They are comfortable in their own skins and able to greet each person who comes into their lives with an open heart and an open mind. In other words, they are able to be their real, authentic selves. And that’s why we feel so comfortable around them.

So do yourself a favor while you have the chance. Slow down and pay attention to how your children do these things. Watch them carefully and allow yourself to marvel at their ability to be present and authentic. Join them in their sense of fun and adventure. Relearn how to play, and how to “be”. They have a lot to teach, if we’re willing to listen.

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Get Smart About Antibiotics!

20110106000758_0You may have read recent media reports about the dramatic rise in Superbugs — dangerous bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics intended to treat them. To help you understand the facts about antibiotic resistance, we are reprinting this Q&A from the Centers for Disease Control, followed by a link to a fun quiz to test your knowledge. This is important stuff, Mamas! 

Q: What are bacteria and viruses?

A: Bacteria are single-celled organisms usually found all over the inside and outside of our bodies, except in the blood and spinal fluid. Many bacteria are not harmful. In fact, some are actually beneficial. However, disease-causing bacteria trigger illnesses, such as strep throat and some ear infections. Viruses are even smaller than bacteria. A virus cannot survive outside the body’s cells. It causes illnesses by invading healthy cells and reproducing.

Q: What kinds of infections are caused by viruses and should not be treated with antibiotics?

A: Viral infections that should not be treated with antibiotics include:

  • Colds
  • Flu
  • Most coughs and bronchitis
  • Sore throats (except for those resulting from strep throat)
  • Some ear infections

Q: What is an antibiotic?

A: Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria. After the first use of antibiotics in the 1940s, they transformed medical care and dramatically reduced illness and death from infectious diseases.

Although antibiotics have many beneficial effects, their overuse has contributed to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Q: What is antibiotic resistance?

A: Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm.

Q: Why should I be concerned about antibiotic resistance?

A: Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers – threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat. For this reason, antibiotic resistance is among CDC’s top concerns.

Antibiotic resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for children and adults who have common infections, once easily treatable with antibiotics. Microbes can develop resistance to specific medicines. A common misconception is that a person’s body becomes resistant to specific drugs. However, it is microbes, not people, that become resistant to the drugs.

If a microbe is resistant to many drugs, treating the infections it causes can become difficult or even impossible. Someone with an infection that is resistant to a certain medicine can pass that resistant infection to another person. In this way, a hard-to-treat illness can be spread from person to person. In some cases, the illness can lead to serious disability or even death.

Q: Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics?

A: Antibiotic use promotes development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria.

While antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections, they are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, most sore throats, and the flu. Widespread use of antibiotics promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance. Smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance.

Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.

Q: How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?

A: Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm. Bacteria can do this through several mechanisms. Some bacteria develop the ability to neutralize the antibiotic before it can do harm, others can rapidly pump the antibiotic out, and still others can change the antibiotic attack site so it cannot affect the function of the bacteria.

Antibiotics kill or inhibit the growth of susceptible bacteria. Sometimes one of the bacteria survives because it has the ability to neutralize or escape the effect of the antibiotic; that one bacterium can then multiply and replace all the bacteria that were killed off. Exposure to antibiotics therefore provides selective pressure, which makes the surviving bacteria more likely to be resistant. In addition, bacteria that were at one time susceptible to an antibiotic can acquire resistance through mutation of their genetic material or by acquiring pieces of DNA that code for the resistance properties from other bacteria. The DNA that codes for resistance can be grouped in a single easily transferable package. This means that bacteria can become resistant to many antimicrobial agents because of the transfer of one piece of DNA. Over time, the use of antimicrobial drugs will result in the development of resistant strains of bacteria, complicating clinicians’ efforts to select the appropriate antimicrobial for treatment.

Q: How can I prevent antibiotic-resistant infections?

Only use antibiotics when they are likely to be beneficial.

A: You are taking the first step to reducing your risk of getting antibiotic-resistant infections. It is important to understand that, although they are very useful drugs, antibiotics designed for bacterial infections are not useful for viral infections such as a cold, cough, or the flu. Some useful tips to remember are:

  1. Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotic resistance:
    • Ask whether an antibiotic is likely to be beneficial for your illness.
    • Ask what else you can do to feel better sooner.
  2. Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu.
  3. Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick. Discard any leftover medication once you have completed your prescribed course of treatment.
  4. Take an antibiotic exactly as the healthcare provider tells you. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect.
  5. Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
  6. If your healthcare provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to help relieve your symptoms. Do not pressure your provider to prescribe an antibiotic.

Q: How can healthcare providers help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance?

A: Prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance by

  • Only prescribe antibiotic therapy when likely to be beneficial.
  • Use an agent targeting the likely pathogens.
  • Use the antibiotic for the appropriate dose and duration.

Q: Are antibacterial-containing products (soaps, household cleaners, etc.) better for preventing the spread of infection? Does their use add to the problem of resistance?

A: An essential part of preventing the spread of infection in the community and at home is proper hygiene. This includes hand-washing and cleaning shared items and surfaces. Antibacterial-containing products have not been proven to prevent the spread of infection better than products that do not contain antibacterial chemicals. Although a link between antibacterial chemicals used in personal cleaning products and bacterial resistance has been shown in vitro studies (in a controlled environment), no human health consequence has been demonstrated. More studies examining resistance issues related to these products are needed.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously on October 20, 2005 that there was a lack of evidence supporting the benefit of consumer products including handwashes, bodywashes, etc., containing antibacterial additives over similar products not containing antibacterial additives.

Q: Can antibiotic resistance develop from acne medication?

A: Antibiotic use, appropriate or otherwise, contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance. This is true for acne medications that contain antibiotics. Short and long-term use of antibiotics for treatment or prevention of bacterial infections should be under the direction of a physician to ensure appropriate use and detection of resistance.

Q: Do probiotics have a role in preventing or treating drug resistance or drug-resistant infections?

A: Probiotics are defined as microorganisms that when administered in sufficient quantities may improve health. There are a variety of probiotics that have been studied for various health benefits. Their role in preventing drug-resistant infections in humans has not been established. CDC is currently monitoring research on probiotic use, but cannot make any recommendations at this time.

Now that you’ve gotten the facts, take this Antibiotics Quiz on the CDC website to test your knowledge.

Be part of the solution.

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Take ‘Em to BOOK Camp!

The other night, Husband and I popped in to to our local pizza and salad spot for dinner. You know, the one with those gourmet, individually-sized, overpriced servings? As we approached the front station to be seated by an enthusiastic teen who appeared to be no older than 12, we passed a large crowded booth where two adorable toddlers,estimated age: 3, were silently engrossed in individual iPhone games. Two toddlers. Two virtual games. Two obscenely expensive tech gadgets.

Several adults surrounding them were engaged in cheerful conversation, undoubtedly pleased to be having a relaxed dinner out while their kids were entertained on cyberdrugs. I don’t blame them one bit.

Our early family years (pre-iphone, pre-gameboy) hold memories of rare restaurant meals spent rushing through our order before the inevitable meltdown began. If the timing was off we’d be stuck having the food boxed up to be eaten at home.

Fast forward a few years past those early days.

One summer we were on vacation with our kids at an island getaway we’d been to before. We stopped at a favorite lunch spot, and were seated near another family of five whose kids looked to be about the same age as ours. Our three were pretty restaurant-civilized by that time, and could make it through most any meal without getting crazy rowdy. But we noticed something remarkable about this other family.

Between bursts of conversation, all three kiddos picked up books they carried with them. For pleasure. Without coercion. A few pages in, one of them would look up and make a comment about something he’d read, or the amazing blue of the ocean or whatever, and a discussion would ensue. Then they all went back to their books. It was a sight to behold. Husband and I were green with envy.

Stay with me here, I’m going somewhere with this.

An article in Newsweek Magazine titled Texting Makes U Stupid, by Niall Ferguson caught my attention recently. In it, he bemoans the reading habits (more accurately, the absence of habits) of today’s teens. And I quote …

Half of today’s teenagers don’t read books—except when they’re made to. According to the most recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, the proportion of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 who read a book not required at school or at work is now 50.7 percent, the lowest for any adult age group younger than 75, and down from 59 percent 20 years ago. 

Ferguson’s conclusion, and I share it, is that kids who don’t read books are cut off from their history, and from the history of the rest of the world. Electronic media can’t connect you to the past the way the written word does, and, as we know, past is prologue.

Sure, you can read about history and past civilizations on Wikipedia and zillions of other internet resources (including this one!) designed to feed information, but you miss the depth and flavor of the time those words were written that only a book can give.

Texting does, indeed, make u stupid.

But wait! All is not lost! Ferguson offers an idea for remediation that I love. It goes something like this:

The next time you plan a family trip, tell your kids you’re taking them on an expensive vacation. Now you’ve got them hooked. Get in the car and drive to a remote location with dismal connectivity. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find small towns that fit the bill. I live in a major city in southern California, but I can get out of cell and wireless range in under an hour.

Settle in to your cozy vacation home with dozens of actual books you’ve hidden in the trunk of the car. The real kind, made with paper and binding and glue. You’re at BOOK CAMP! Activities on this adventure include … reading, reading, and more reading. Maybe punctuated with a few hikes in the woods or occasional swims in a nearby lake. No electronics of any kind.

Spend a week or two and I guarantee your kids will emerge with a new appreciation of the places a great book can take them. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll keep it up afterwards. Maybe they’ll be sparked to start a book club at their school or with their friends. You never know.

Thanks for the revolutionary idea, Mr. Ferguson. The parents of those toddlers I ran into last night may appreciate your wisdom in a few years.

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The Glass is (at least) Half Full

While Mamas always try to focus on the positives of raising healthy, happy kiddos, sometimes the events of the day force us to explore disturbing topics and offer teachable moments on trends that — frankly — scare the bejeezus out of us.

So it’s with great pleasure and some relief that we bring you a post that’s chock full of good news.

  • The skinny on toddlers. The CDC reports a 43 percent drop in obesity rates among children ages 2-5 in just the last 10 years. Consumption of sugar-filled soft drinks went down, while breastfeeding rates went up, which may provide part of the explanation. We can’t celebrate just yet, since the decreases didn’t hold for other age groups, so keep serving loads of fresh fruits and veggies and ditch the sugary drinks.
  • Boost for vaccines. Several states across the nation (Colorado, Oregon, Washington, California) are tightening rules requiring children to be vaccinated before enrolling in school. New guidelines require parents to receive counseling and education from a healthcare provider before opting out for non-medical reasons. The issue comes with its share of controversy, but recent deadly outbreaks of measles and whooping cough point to the urgent need for sensible reform.
  • You booze, you lose. A recent study from the Boston University School of Public Health finds that since the age 21 drinking law has been in effect throughout the US (1988), youths have been consuming less alcohol and are less likely to be involved in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.  Researchers found that in high school seniors, binge drinking fell from 35% in 1988 to 22% in 2011. Good start — a ways to go.
  • Yes, you DO matter.  New study from Cornell University finds that parents who play with their children, talk about nutrition, or just spend time with them are more likely to have children who grow up to be slim adults. The bottom line for parents: Spend a lot of time with your kids – it almost doesn’t matter what activity you do with them – just stay in their young lives.
  • Power lines DON’T cause cancer. Really. It’s hard to get this urban legend out of your head, but researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK have determined, once and for all, that children who spend their early years living near overhead power lines are not at greater risk of developing childhood leukemia. We all have plenty to worry about. It’s time to let this one go.
  • Smothering hate saves lives. Schools with explicit anti-homophobia programs, such as gay-straight alliances (GSAs), reduce the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both sexual minority and straight students, according to a new study by University of British Columbia researchers. We know that LGBT students are at higher risk because they are more often targeted for bullying and discrimination, but heterosexual students suffer too. Knowledge is power. Pass it on. 

Happy Monday, Mamas!


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  • RF: Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11...
  • ofertas cine: That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Thanks...

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