All posts by Catherine Donaldson-Evans

About Catherine Donaldson-Evans

Catherine Donaldson-Evans is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications. When she isn’t writing and editing, Catherine can be found chasing after a toddler, a baby and a husband – not necessarily in that order.

baby buckled in carseat

5 Ways to Avoid Locking Your Baby in the Car

By now you’ve probably heard what happened to brand new mom Carrie Underwood, right? The country pop singer says her naughty dogs accidentally locked themselves, her 4-month-old baby boy Isaiah and her keys inside her hot car. It’s the perfect recipe for a heart attack when you’re a mom, especially a first-time mom with an infant that young.

Luckily, quick-thinking Underwood, 32, and her brother-in-law broke the window and got the baby and pets out quickly before anyone got hurt.

Locking the car door with a little one and the keys inside could happen to any of us. So how can we prevent it? Here are are five ways to avoid locking your baby in the car.

1. Keep an extra set of car keys tucked into your purse and another under your front door mat, in an outdoor potted plant, in the garage or anywhere else that makes sense. That way, you won’t have a panic attack if one set gets locked in the car.

2. By a clip-on keychain, like a rock climber’s carabiner, to ensure you’ll always have your keys on you — literally.

3. Child-proof your car locks (and windows) from the inside. Make sure the locks on at least the backseat doors can be disabled. It’s the only way to really ensure that kids, dogs and other pets won’t be able to get stuck inside.

4. Do a methodical check that you have your keys before locking the door … every.single.time. I’ve programmed myself to do this, and it really works. Carrying your keys in the same place consistently — like a handbag or front pants pocket — helps too.

5. When you’re driving somewhere, try to load kids and animals into the car last. This will hopefully prevent them from getting into trouble like Underwood’s mischievous pooches did.

Have you ever locked your baby or child into the car? What did you do and how have you tried to stop it from happening again?

baby in stroller

5 Times You Should Consider Renting a Stroller

If you’re the parent of a baby or a toddler, your stroller is one of those staples it’s hard to imagine living without. You get so much use out of it, not buying one is almost unthinkable.

But believe it or not, there are occasions when renting a stroller might be a better option than bringing your own — for convenience sake alone, in some cases. Here are the top five times you should consider renting a stroller.

1. At Disney. Stroller rental at Disney theme parks is actually pretty affordable — $15 a day or just $13 a day if you rent it for multiple days. (For a double stroller, it’s a bit pricier at $31 a day or $27 for a multi-day rental). Considering everything else you’ll need to pack for a trip to Disney — which involves a flight for most people — it might well be worth leaving your stroller at home and lightening your load in favor of renting one once you get there.

2. In New York City. A family trip to New York City is another one that typically requires a lot of luggage — and a ton of walking around. There’s no way you can do it with a baby or toddler without a stroller (unless you opt for a baby sling, but that will start feeling very heavy very quickly while you’re running around the streets of New York). There are plenty of baby gear rental companies that serve New York, including Baby’s Away, which charges $8-$12 a day to rent a single stroller, or $48-$72 for the week ($10-$18 a day for a double; $60-$105 for the week).

3. At the zoo. The zoo is another place you should definitely consider renting a stroller rather than bringing your own. Some zoo exhibits do not allow you in with a stroller, so leaving yours outside puts it at risk of being stolen. The fees are fairly affordable; stroller rentals at the San Diego Zoo, for example, cost $12 a day for a single and $16 for a side-by-side double. At the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., renting a single stroller costs $9 a day and a double $12 a day.

4. At the beach. A family beach vacation is super fun, but the supplies you have to pack — especially if you’re traveling with a baby or toddler — can be over the top. If you’re trying to streamline all that stuff and don’t want your stroller to come back full of sand, you might consider leaving it at home and renting one instead. Various baby gear companies like Baby’s Away and others offer stroller rentals at all sorts of seaside towns; costs vary by location.

5. On a cruise. If you’re bringing baby on a cruise, the stroller you have at home could easily take up most of your cabin. Ditch it in favor of renting one onboard — but check with your cruise line first to make sure they offer stroller rentals, as not all do. Carnival does rent strollers, for instance — for a total of $30 for a five-day cruise or $8 a day for three- or four-day cruises.

Would you ever consider renting a stroller instead of bringing your own? When?

newborn baby in towel

10 Must-Have Newborn Clothes

If you’re pregnant or have recently had a baby, you may be wondering what you really need for your newborn in the way of clothes. We’re here to help you narrow it down. Since newborns spend so much of their time eating and sleeping, you don’t have to buy much. If it’s your first, you’ll probably get most of the essentials at your baby shower. But for those new moms or moms-to-be who need some guidance, here are 10 must-have newborn clothes worth buying.

1. Onesies. Babies can live in onesies right from the start at least until they’re 18 months-2 years old. They cover the belly and prevent curious hands from picking apart diapers. So stock up. Make sure you have a good selection of sizes and both long- and short-sleeved ones.

2. Footie pajamas. Another thing you won’t be able to do without. They keep newborns nice and insulated and are easy to get on and off.

3. Socks. Their little tootsies get cold, especially in the first few months after they’re born when their circulation system is still developing. Make sure you have plenty of socks to keep those adorable baby feet warm.

4. Bibs. Newborns are notorious for spitting up — a lot. And when they’re not spitting up, they’re drooling. Protect all those cute clothes you bought and got as gifts (or hand-me-downs) by buying plenty of soft, cloth bibs for daytime use and those soft plastic bibs with a bucket for when baby starts eating solids.

5. Easy-to-pull-on pants. Your newborn will need something to wear with all those onesies, so make sure you have plenty of those teeny, tiny pull-on pants. Made of soft, cotton they’re like leggings, but less tight than mama’s. They’re versatile and comfy and you’ll get a lot of use out of them.

6. Little dresses for girls and pants suits for boys. You’ll want to have at least a few “dressier” outfits for your little bundle of joy for any special occasions or mid-day iPhone photo shoots. With such cute baby dresses and pants suits out there, you won’t have any problem finding ones you like.

7. Little cardigans or button-down long-sleeve tops. These are incredibly handy when you need something to put over the umpteenth short-sleeved onesie. Make sure you get a lot in different colors to go with the pants you have.

8. A hat. Whether your baby is born in the warm weather or cold, you’ll need a hat — a sun hat if it’s spring or summer and a soft, knit winter hat if it’s fall or winter. You don’t need to go crazy, but get at least one for each season that your newborn can wear.

9. A jacket or coat. No matter what season you give birth in, you’ll need a jacket or coat for your baby eventually. Just one really good, versatile one will do (until he grows out of it, of course).

10. Mittens. This may not seem like something you’ll need, but believe me, you will — either for when it gets chilly outside or for preventing your newborn from scratching herself with those sharp nails of hers. Get a couple of pairs at least — they’re easy to lose.

What must-have newborn clothes would you add to the list?

Eva Mendes Mother's Day plans

Celebrity Moms Reveal Their Mother’s Day Plans

So you may have heard about a little thing called Mother’s Day happening this weekend, and you know what that means! Time to stalk some celebrity moms and see what they’re doing for the holiday. Maybe those of us who don’t have our own plans set yet will get some ideas. And, come on. What better Mother’s Day gift to yourself than a little juicy gossip about your favorite stars? You can thank us later.

We’ve rounded up some favorite celeb moms’ Mother’s Day plans. Others have yet to spill the beans, but we’re keeping an eye out — you know who you are, secretive star moms!

1. Eva Mendes. It might be her first one, but Eva Mendes has no Mother’s Day plans at all. “There is no plan,” the 41-year-old actress told Access Hollywood Live. “I kind of feel like I haven’t quite earned my stripes yet in a way.” Her daughter with actor Ryan Gosling, Esmeralda, turns 8 months old this month. Instead, she wants to focus on her own mom “who’s had a really hard year” because of Mendes’ brother’s battle with cancer. So the star will spend the holiday with her extended family. “This Mother’s Day is definitely all about my mom. We’re all going to go over to her house and bombard her with love,” she said.

2. Melissa Joan Hart. The 39-year-old actress–mom to three boys, Mason, 9, Brady, 7, and Tucker, 2 –plans to have a stress-free holiday this weekend. “We will stay home as a family with our neighbors–the husbands will BBQ while the kids run around and play,” the Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Melissa & Joey star told Celebrity Baby Scoop. “It’s the perfect hassle-free, fun family day.”

3. Beverley Mitchell. The 7th Heaven star, mom to a 2-year-old girl Kenzie and a 3-month-old boy Hutton, is spending Sunday with her own mother, her two kids and her husband Michael Cameron. “I will be spending Mother’s day with my beautiful family and my mom,” Mitchell, 34, told Celebrity Baby Scoop. “It will be a wonderful mellow day just spending time with the ones I love. Nothing crazy, it is just about getting time with the people who matter most.”

4. DeAnna Pappas Stagliano. The former star of The Bachelorette revealed she’s going to have a low-key Mother’s Day to “celebrate the love” she has for 1-year-old daughter Addison. “We plan to celebrate Mother’s Day as a family,” the 33-year-old new mom said. “We will spend it with my mother-in-law as well. She loves a day where she doesn’t have to do anything.”

5. Courtney Lopez. The wife of Extra host and former Saved by the Bell actor Mario Lopez said she, too, will hang out with her MIL on Mother’s Day. “My amazing husband plans it and we celebrate with our kids, my mom and my mother-in-law,” said the 32-year-old mom of Gia, 4, and Nico, 1. “I would never spend Mother’s Day without my kids.”

6. Ashton Kutcher. Aha! Got your attention there, didn’t we? Yes, we know he’s a new celeb dad, not a mom. And it’s not his plans with fiancee Mila Kunis for her first Mother’s Day since having their baby girl Wyatt that we’ve dug up. It’s 37-year-old Kutcher’s Mother’s Day gift for his own mom we’re so enthralled with: remodel her house in secret with the help of home design site Houzz, which the Two and a Half Men star is an investor in. “It’s my way of saying thank you to my mom,” the star said. “My mom has been the greatest influence in my life. My parents gave me everything.”

Hear any other gossip about what celeb moms are doing for Mother’s Day? Do tell!

mom with kids on Mother's Day

10 Mom Quotes Perfect for Mother’s Day

Since Mother’s Day is fast approaching, we realize you’re itching for a post full of quotes about moms that will make you laugh, cry and everything in between. We’ve got you covered. Here are 10 mom quotes that poignantly capture the essence of motherhood.

1. “I never knew how much love my heart could hold until someone called me ‘Mommy.'”
— Heather A. Stillufsen

2. “Your child will follow your example, not your advice.”
— Unknown

3. “A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.”
— Diana, Princess of Wales

4. “I want to be a stay-at-home mom but without the kids.”
— Unknown

5. “Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”
— Linda Wooten

6. “The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until the children are in bed.”
— Unknown

7. “Cleaning the house while the children are home is like shoveling while it’s still snowing.”
— Erma Bombeck

8. “Motherhood is an experiment in how long your body can function without adequate sleep or nourishment and fueled only on adrenaline, caffeine and baby smiles.”
— Unknown

9. “She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.”
— Margaret Culkin Banning

10. “The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.”
— Jessica Lange

Want more? Read: 14 Inspiring Quotes About Having a Baby

What’s your favorite quote about motherhood?

couple's photo booth pregnancy announcement

5 Best Viral Pregnancy Announcements

Telling your husband and family you’re having a baby is one of the most memorable, emotional moments of your life. So why not do something really spectacular — something that will make your pregnancy announcement go viral? Everyone else is doing it!

In the newest gem, Jesse and Melissa Meek of Oregon reveal they’re expecting with a rap to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. You just have to watch it to see why it’s blown up so fast, with almost 5 million views since it was posted Easter Sunday. It’s one of our five picks for the best viral pregnancy announcements that have made the rounds recently.

1. Fresh Prince, Baby. The Meeks’ priceless Fresh Prince of Bel Air pregnancy announcement was shot driving in their car, baseball caps on, as they rapped. You HAVE to watch for the big reveal at the end — there’s a twist! And how did she keep a straight face that whole time?

2.  Pregnant in a Photo Booth. Jessica Devins (pictured above) surprised husband Michael with her baby news in a photo booth on Christmas Eve, and it’s so sweet and touching, we dare you not to cry. She holds up a hat with “Baby” written on it right before the camera snaps the picture, and his tearful, happy reaction is worth a thousand words. It now has almost 14.5 million views.

3. Screaming Sisters. After these parents found out they were having a baby, they had their two older daughters open “Big Sister” and “Big Sister … Again” cakes together. Their squeals of delight are completely adorbs, especially when the older one says, “You’re going to be a big sister!” to the younger and gives her the best hug ever. Melting! No wonder it’s been watched almost 4 million times!

4. The Pictures of a Lifetime. Mom-to-be Camille Averett and photographer Kendra Swalls conspired to announce Averett’s pregnancy to husband Kyle  as they were shooting pictures for their “Christmas card.” How sly! Wait til you see how Camille shares the news. It’s brilliant, and so poignant. With more than 235,000 likes and 16,000 plus shares on Swalls’ Facebook page, it’s obviously captured many, many hearts.

5. Hating on Girls. How could we forget this “baby reveal gone wrong” to the couple’s two little girls and son Gunner? They give the kids the gender reveal cake and when Gunner sees it’s pink, he has the meltdown to end all meltdowns. “I hate girls!” he screeches. “Girls, girls, girls, girls!” He even refused to eat the cake! If you missed it, check it out to see why it’s been watched more than 5 million times since it was posted a year ago. Later our boy said he was happy about a third sister. Hmm …

What’s your favorite recent viral pregnancy announcement? Or are you tired of them?

hand-held video baby monitor

Are You a ‘Drone Parent’? 5 Ways to Tell

Helicopter parenting is so passé. The new generation of moms and dads is practicing a kind that’s much more stealth. Dubbed “drone parenting,” it’s less about hovering over your children in person and more about doing it remotely — observing your kids from afar, often with the help of creepy Big Brother-style technology. Drone parents will periodically swoop in to intervene when they think it’s necessary, frequently making a big, dramatic scene in the process.

So are you a drone parent? Here are five ways to tell.

1. You have a wireless baby monitor you can check on your smartphone. If the old-fashioned baby monitors that resemble 1960s-era TVs or worse, walkie talkies, just don’t do enough for you, you’re likely to invest in a digital, wireless monitor instead — one you can check on your phone wherever you are. Sound like you? Then you’re probably a drone.

2. You observe your children from a distance but rely on various high-tech devices to track their every move. If you rely on cutting-edge technology to help you obsessively watch your kids from afar, you are probably a drone parent. These can be anything from wireless baby monitors and baby wearables connected to your smartphone to technology used for older kids, like cellphone trackers and smart home cameras that let parents watch live video of their children so they know they’re safe, doing their homework, behaving well and so on. Scary!

3. You have “baby wearables” you use for your infant that tell you things like heart rate, sleep position, when the child is about to wake up and even his mood. Some you just attach to the baby; others are onesies or socks the child wears. All are so you can be hyper-vigilant with your little one, especially while she’s sleeping. Overprotective? Nah.

4. When you do intervene, you like to swoop in suddenly and dramatically. Drone parents are selective about when they intervene in person, and when they do, they frequently like to make a scene. Whether it’s having a big reaction to something your child is doing wrong or unleashing a tirade on his teacher for a real or perceived infraction, you like to make your presence felt since you stay back so much of the time.

5. Helicopter parents are your nemesis. Helicopter parents are way too overt about their hovering and meddling for you. They’re too obvious in their Mother Hen over-involvement. You much prefer to give the impression that you’re letting your kids figure things out for themselves and just watch them like a hawk under the radar.

Do you practice drone parenting?

siblings reading bedtime stories

5 of the Greatest Things About Having a Sibling

If you’re the mom of two or more children and have brothers and sisters of your own, you know how special siblings are. And since National Siblings Day is coming up, we think now is as good a time as any to talk about what’s so wonderful about growing up with brothers and sisters.

Here are five of the greatest things about having a sibling.

1. Constant companion. Having a sibling means a child always has a friend at home to play with, a constant companion to share life with. Sure, brothers and sisters fight, but above all, they love each other and enjoy spending time together. Giving your children siblings is a good way to ensure they won’t be alone.

2. More toys. One of the best things about having a brother or sister are all the toys kids have to play with! It’s double the toys with two children, triple with three. How cool is that?

3. A built-in road trip buddy. Having a sibling means a child always has a buddy for those family vacations with Mom and Dad. That way, there’s always another little someone to hang out with and talk to during those long car, plane and train rides, making those trips all the more fun.

4. Someone to look up to and learn from. With a brother or sister, a kid has someone to learn from and look up to at home other than Mommy and Daddy. It doesn’t matter if the sibling is younger or older, either. Brothers and sisters can always teach each other new things, whether it’s how to share or what to do to get good grades in school. And having a role model to grow up with is so important.

5. Someone who understands like no one else can. Because siblings share parents and are raised in the same house, they understand each other in a way that no one else ever will. It means to much to have that special bond growing up. Only siblings fully get the intricacies of being part of that family and sharing the same DNA. Having a sibling means a child will always have someone in her life who knew her from the very beginning.

What are some other great things about having a sibling?

mom breastfeeding baby

Does Breastfeeding Burn Calories?

If you’re a pregnant or new mom, you’ve heard the buzz and probably even had it drummed into your head: Breastfeeding burns calories and helps you lose the baby weight faster.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? There you are, feeding your baby the natural way, and you’re shedding pregnancy pounds at the same time. Sweet!

But does breastfeeding really burn calories? Well, before you go out and blow your savings on a bunch of new clothes that fit the old, pre-pregnant you, stop a minute and read this. Because there’s a lot more to that claim than meets the eye.

While it’s true that breastfeeding burns between 300 and 500 more calories than usual a day and can speed up the process of the uterus shrinking back to its regular size,  women who think they’ll magically lose all the baby weight in a matter of days or weeks just because they’re nursing might be disappointed.

That’s because breastfeeding moms are typically hungrier (and thirstier) than those who are exclusively formula-feeding and should be consuming a lot of those extra calories each day to compensate. They also need to eat and drink more to keep their milk supply up and stay healthy — which is important for baby. On average, a breastfeeding mom should be taking in about 2,000 calories a day plus the extra 300-500 she’s burning.

Moms who breastfeed release the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus go back to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly, shedding those extra pounds it packed on. That in addition to all the calories breastfeeding burns does make it a good way to lose at least some of the baby weight. And of course, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and doctors agree that nursing is the best way to feed your baby if you can, since it has a host of other benefits for both mother and child, including all the nutrients and antibodies baby gets from breast milk.

But whether you’re breastfeeding or not, after the initial significant weight drop that happens during birth, you shouldn’t be losing more than a pound to a pound-and-a-half per week. That’s 3,500 calories fewer a week, or 500 fewer a day. So therein lies the tricky part, since while you’re breastfeeding you are supposed to take in 300-500 more a day.

You can still pare back to what is necessary for dropping a pound a week — 2,000 calories a day — as long as you’re eating foods chock-full of nutrients. After you’ve lost some of the weight, you’ll need fewer daily calories anyway.

So if you’re breastfeeding or planning to, just realize that while it can help you go back to your pre-pregnancy weight, it’s not a magic pill that will slim you down instantly. You will burn calories every time you feed your baby, but you’ll also need to balance that out by eating and drinking more and keeping up a healthy diet.

Don’t be upset if it takes several months (in my case it took nine months the first time and slightly less the second) to get back to around where you were before you got pregnant. And don’t beat yourself up if those last 5 or 10 pounds are harder to shed than the rest or you don’t bounce back to exactly the way you were before. You and your body have just done something monumental: grown and birthed another human being. Be good to yourself! You deserve it.

mom with child

What to Do If You Think Your Child Has Autism

If you’re worried that your child might be autistic and are terrified of finding out the answer — not to mention confused and overwhelmed about what to do next — you’re not alone. An autism diagnosis comes with a whole range of emotions, from grief and loss to fear, anger and helplessness.

So what do you do if you think your child has autism? Here are a few steps to take as recommended by the autism educational site Synapse.

1. Get a definitive diagnosis. It’s important to know for sure that your child has autism, and you need a proper assessment about what kind of autism it is. Don’t settle for an inconclusive diagnosis. Take your son or daughter to another doctor to get a firm answer if you have to.

2. Start early intervention programs for your child. As soon as you have confirmation that your child is autistic, get him into an early intervention program tailored to his specific situation and needs. Early intervention has been shown to help a great deal in an autistic child’s development and growth and minimize the delays that accompany autism.

3. Join a parents support group. Parenting a child with autism is not easy and comes with a whole array of challenges. Talking to other parents in your shoes by joining a support group for moms and dads of autistic children will be a great source of encouragement, comfort, information and inspiration.

4. Learn strategies for coping with behavior and communication issues. Autistic children have very specific behavioral and communication issues, so learning strategies for managing and handling those will be extremely helpful when it comes to parenting your child.

5. Educate yourself about autism. One of the best ways to tackle autism in your family is to know it inside and out. Do as much reading and research on it as you can so that you are ultra familiar with the condition and the particulars of the kind your child has. It will go a long way in helping you raise an autistic child.

Do you have an autistic child or do you know someone who does? Do you have any other advice to add?