All posts by Katie Quirk

About Katie Quirk

Katie Quirk is a mom of two, a boy and a girl. She lives and writes in Seattle, WA.

Beautiful Names for Autumn Babies

There’s a lot to love about fall: the changing colors, the crisp morning air, the return of football, the sight of yellow school buses and fresh faced schoolkids, the feeling of slowing down and nesting. It’s a season ripe with inspiration for a wide variety of things, including beautiful baby names.

You certainly don’t have to match your baby’s name to the season. Moms due at any time of year might find a name they love on this list. If you’re a fan of rich, strong, and dreamy names, you’re going to want to take a look at these beautiful choices inspired by autumn.

This list of 25 beautiful names for autumn babies features 12 girls names and 13 boys names. Some are dramatic, some are hearty, others crackle like a spark to a dry leaf. Many have their meaning in quintessential, old-timey  autumn events and practices, such as harvesting and milling. Others evoke the season in more ethereal ways.

Whether you’re due in the fall, or you just love the season, you’re sure to find a name you love on this list of beautiful names for autumn babies.

Beautiful Autumn Names for Girls

  1. Adriana: Lilting and romantic, it means dark one.
  2. Autumn: The English name is graceful, gorgeous, and perfect for fans of fall, no matter when your baby girl is born.
  3. Darcie: A classic old French name derived from the word for fortress, Darcie is a strong name with an easy sound.
  4. Georgina: Like its masculine brother George, Georgina means farmer. It’s as suitable for a baby as for an adult as for an elder, don’t you think?
  5. Haley: A cute name for a girl, Haley means meadow.
  6. Helen: Gardeners adore the easygoing helenium plant, which blooms pretty, daisy-like red, yellow, and orange flowers every fall. The Greek-origin Helen means bright one and shining one.
  7. Ilana: Baby name books report the exotic Ilana is a Hebrew name meaning from the tree. A perfect choice for fall, yes?
  8. Juniper: Each fall, evergreen juniper trees produce beautiful, cornflower-blue berries, which lend their unique flavor to gin as well as meat  and many Scandinavian recipes. With its jaunty, confident style, Juniper is an increasingly popular choice for baby girls.
  9. Ivy: Doesn’t this one instantly conjure the image of a college campus in October? The name of the climbing plant also stands for fidelity and eternity.
  10. Luna: This stellar pick means of the moon. With so many hours of moonlight in the fall, Luna is a great choice for an autumn baby.
  11. Orla: Like the glow from freshly harvested wheat, Orla comes from the Gaelic for golden princess.
  12. Theresa: A Greek name, Theresa originally comes from references to popular fall sport hunting.
If you’re welcoming a baby in the fall, this list of beautiful baby names for autumn babies could be a good source of inspiration for you.

Beautiful Autumn Names for Boys

  1. Ash: As they are among the first to change color in the fall, ash trees are iconic of the season. Choose this short-but-sweet name, or keep in in your back pocket as the nickname for Ashton, Ashby, or Ashley.
  2. Calder: This Scottish origin choice has a very cool but cozy ring to it.
  3. Cedrick: A Gaelic name and form of Cedric, it means of the spectacular bounty.
  4. Cole: This English-origin pick means having dark features.
  5. Hadley: An English name, Hadley refers to meadows of heather, a plant that blooms at the end of summer and into autumn.
  6. Keller: The German and Celtic name means from the cellar and a beloved friend.
  7. Leif: What better choice for a fall baby than this Scandinavian name, which is pronounced “leaf”?
  8. Lennox: This Scottish name comes from one who owns many elm trees.
  9. Miller: Another English last name turned first name, Miller comes from someone who worked grinding grain in the fall (Mills is cute too).
  10. Nash: A cool variation on Ash for parents who want to buck the vowel trend, Nash means of the ash tree.
  11. Rafferty: A common Irish last name, Rafferty also makes a lovely first name for an autumn (or not) baby. It means prosperous.
  12. Sawyer: You won’t be surprised by the meaning of this friendly English-origin name: it means one who works with wood.
  13. Zaire: If you want a name beginning with a Z, Zaire is a great choice. Perfect for a lover of fall, it means deep and intense.

Which of these beautiful names for autumn babies do you love? What do you think about giving your baby a seasonal name?

Here’s How Much Added Sugar Your Kids Are Eating

Have you ever calculated how much sugar your kids eat in a day? I’m a little afraid to, especially ever since the American Heart Association issued updated recommendations that limited kids’ sugar intake to less than 25 grams a day. Most American kids eat three times that amount! (BTW, experts recommend that kids younger than two years old eat no sugar at all).

Now, the appearance of newly redesigned nutrition labels are making our sugar consumption harder to ignore. The amount of added sugar per serving is clearly called out on the label under Total Sugars. That’s to distinguish it from any sugar that is naturally occurring in the food, such as fructose or lactose.

These new labels are meant to help us understand the amount of sugar in the foods we eat and feed our kids. Too much sugar can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dental issues, and has been linked to asthma and cardiovascular issues, among other things. Not to mention the sugar highs and subsequent crashes we all experience when eating sweet things. I can trace many a behavior issue (theirs and mine) back to sugary treats.

Easy Ways to Cut Out Added Sugar

It can feel like an insurmountable challenge to cut sugar from your family’s diet. As you probably know, many of the processed foods we eat contain added sugars. Obviously, sweetened items like toaster pastries, flavored yogurt, and fruit snacks contain added sugars. But so do foods like whole wheat bread (three grams a slice in the brand I buy), jarred tomato sauce, and protein bars. Even the “healthy” organic bran flakes cereal my kids eat have four grams of sugar per serving. Those 25 grams of sugar add up very quickly, and often long before the dessert cart rolls around.

Whether you’re trying to get within the 25 gram recommendation or not, any amount of added sugar that you can cut is a win, right? Try these ways to curb the sugar consumption in your house:

  • Serve water, milk, or unsweetened plant milk, not juice. Treat juice (even the 100% fruit varieties) as a — wait for it — treat.
  • Buy fresh fruit and veggies and offer it at snack time in place of processed snacks like sweetened yogurt. Unsweetened applesauce, dried fruit, and toasted unsweetened coconut are other good swaps.
  • If your kiddos don’t love fruit, don’t despair, just try serving it in a new way. Shape banana slices into happy faces, alternate halved grapes with berries on a skewer, slice apples razor thin, or section oranges instead of cutting them.
  • Read labels on ready made meals, sandwich spreads, salad dressings, sauces, and dips. Choose brands and items that have the lowest amount of added sugar. Be sure to compare the serving sizes as well.
  • Consider using a sugar replacement like Stevia or monkfruit sweetener in your baked goods.
  • Offer foods high in protein and healthy fats to keep kids full, satisfied, and less likely to beg for sugary treats. Plain full-fat yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon and served with apple slices, cheese sticks and whole-grain crackers, and all-natural nut butter with celery sticks are some easy options.
  • Avoid breakfast cereal, instant oatmeal, granola bars, and just about any product specifically marketed to kids.
  • Don’t assume foods in the natural section are low in sugar. If a product doesn’t yet carry the new nutrition label, check the ingredients list. You don’t want to buy anything that lists sugar (or corn syrup, honey, rice syrup, etc.) near the top.

Are you trying to cut some of the sugar from your kiddos’ diets?

Virtual Parenting: Smart Speakers and Kids

Does your little one “ask Alexa” and say hi to Siri? If your kids love your smart speaker’s virtual assistant, they’re not alone. According to research, 73 percent of parents who have smart speakers say their kids use them too. Amazon even developed a children’s version of their Echo Dot in response to consumer demand. But do parents need to be concerned about the combo of smart speakers and kids? Or is the use of smart speakers beneficial for children? The truth is, we just don’t know.

What Happens When Kids Use Smart Speakers

Smart speakers featuring virtual assistants are becoming increasingly common in American homes. With this new technology comes some uncertainty about our kids’ interaction with these robot assistants. Some parents have wondered if they might be teaching their kids to be demanding and rude, leading Google and Amazon to add features that encourage politeness. Meanwhile, a few experts have suggested smart speakers might be disrupting children’s cognitive development. Still others say they actually help kids in a lot of ways, from assisting with language skills to reducing time spent staring at devices.

This technology is so new, we have no idea what effect it has on our kids. Perhaps the best move is for concerned parents is to consider the various theories about kids and smart speakers, and proceed with caution. Here are some of the theoretical benefits and concerns vis-á-vis kids’ use of in-home virtual assistants.

Smart Speakers and Kids: Potential Benefits

  • May help with communication skills. A study from the MIT Media Lab suggests kids who speak to virtual assistants might learn to speak more slowly and clearly.
  • Normalizes the technology. Since this technology isn’t going anywhere, some argue that it’s good to get kids comfortable with it now. Adopting the use of a virtual assistant now makes the technology familiar to kids.
  • Could replace screen time. A technology expert makes the case that smart speakers are a better, more interactive alternative to so many screens.
Some people think having a voice-controlled virtual assistant in the home could reduce kids’ screen time.

Smart Speakers and Kids: Potential Concerns

  • Privacy concerns. Experts warn that through interactions with in-home smart speakers, kids are providing insight into their preferences and lives that might be used to market to them in the future.
  • Enabling “robo parenting.” From homework help to bedtime stories, kids can ask virtual assistants to perform some tasks they might normally ask of their parents. Some worry that by handing this authority to the virtual assistant, parents might have a hard time commanding it back when necessary.
  • Inhibiting emotional development and creative initiative. Experts have expressed concern that interactions with virtual assistants come at the expense of kids’ social development. And by providing immediate gratification and constant entertainment, some wonder if kids will suffer from reduced creativity and increased dependence upon the technology.

So Now What?

For parents, the use of smart speakers can provide efficiencies we only dreamed of a few years ago. Research shows we regularly use them to make task lists, check our schedules, and search for info. And as more Americans install them in their homes, we’re only going to become more comfortable with this technology, and as a result likely more lax about allowing our kids access to it.  

If you decide you want a smart speaker, experts advise adjusting the settings and parental controls to do things like prevent kids from making purchases and accessing inappropriate content. Citing concerns about privacy, Common Sense Media suggests limiting user profiles to adults only so that smart speakers don’t collect specific data on your kids. 

And like screen time, maybe you put limits on the amount your kids use smart speakers. Have designated times when kids can use them and when they should be turned off. Don’t invite Alexa to dinner, for example.

Is your family in the market for a smart speaker? Do you have any concerns about your kids using the technology?

Breastfeeding in Public Is Now Legal

Great news, breastfeeding in public is now legal in all 50 states! Utah and Idaho have new laws that protect nursing mothers. And just in time for World Breastfeeding Week!

 It’s a little strange to think that until this point, breastfeeding in public was technically illegal in these states. As a country, we’ve been behind in this area. The U.K., Australia, and other countries already have legislation protecting breastfeeding mothers, according to USA Today.

But that’s all past now! The important thing is, all mothers should feel comfortable feeding their babies in public, whether by breast, bottle, sippy cup, eye dropper, etc. However, with World Breastfeeding Week kicking off on August 1st, prepare to hear a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding.

About World Breastfeeding Week

Since its creation in 1990, World Breastfeeding Week has aimed “to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world,” according to the World Health Organization. This year, organizers hope to draw special attention to the importance of breastfeeding within the first hour of a baby’s life. Immediate breastfeeding begins the important work of establishing a mom’s milk supply and provides a newborn with colostrum, the extremely thick and nutrient-rich milk that a mama makes soon after delivering.

Promoting and normalizing breastfeeding in developing countries is of particular importance to the organizers behind World Breastfeeding Week. In places where poverty is rampant, breastfeeding can mean the difference between life and death for some babies. Preventing malnutrition, ensuring food security at all times, and breaking the cycle of poverty: breastfeeding can help with all three issues, according to organizers.

Here in the U.S., we have less (but not no) concern about babies getting enough to eat. But we have plenty of issues with normalizing breastfeeding in public. Hopefully the fact that it is now legal in absolutely every state will get us on track to accepting breastfeeding for what it is: one way for a mama to feed her baby.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week, mamas! However you feed your baby, we support you.


Strong Names for Girls Inspired by Powerful Females

From #thefutureisfemale to the #metoo movement, women are definitely having an empowered moment. One way to capture some of the current era’s bravery and strength is by choosing a meaningful name for your baby girl. When we pick strong names for girls, we inspire greatness.

There are two ways to find strong names for girls. You can search for a name that literally means “strength.” Or you can look to the past for inspiration. History is ripe with women who’ve spoken out against the status quo and achieved remarkable feats. Giving your baby girl a name inspired by a strong woman from history means choosing a name rich in backstory and packed with promise and purpose.

We took a look through the history books and found these lovely, strong names from women who changed the world.

Strong Names for Girls

Athena: This solid Greek name comes from mythology’s goddess of war and wisdom.

Clara: Encourage charity as well as success by naming your girl for Clara Barton, the tireless founder of the American Red Cross.

Cleo: Smart, powerful: Why not name your baby after Cleopatra, last pharaoh of Egypt?

Harriet: This German-origin classic honors two remarkable abolitionists from the 1800’s. There’s  the fearless Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and used the Underground Railroad to help 70 other enslaved Americans to freedom. And then there’s Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Indira: The name of India’s only female prime minister, Indira Gandhi, it means beauty or splendid.

The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is just one of history’s strong females named Catherine.

Catherine: The given name of many a powerful woman throughout history, including Russia’s empress Catherine the Great, England’s Queen Catherine of Aragon, and Duchess Catherine of Cambridge (Kate Middleton), it means pure.

Mirabai: Cultivate strength and iconoclasm in your daughter with this beautiful name. It was the moniker of an 14th century Indian mystic (aka Meera) who rebuked social convention.

Coco: A variation of Colette meaning victory for the people, Coco definitely served up a victory for women in the form of Coco Chanel. The French fashion designer introduced comfy sportswear options for women, liberating them from restrictive corsets. (On the other hand, she might have collaborated with the Germans in World War II, so weigh use of this tribute carefully).

Simone: Hope to raise a feminist? Name your daughter for French intellectual and feminist influencer Simone de Beauvoir.

Valentina: This Latin-origin choice literally means strong. It has the honor of being the first female name in space, thanks to Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.

Josephine: Consider this one for civil rights activist and entertainer Josephine Baker, who in the 1950’s displayed admirable nerve by refusing to perform for segregated audiences.

Frida: The first Mexican artist to be featured in Paris’ Louvre Museum, Frida Kahlo is today a household name, regarded for her confidence and strong personality.

Irena: Choose this lilting name to honor the brave work of Polish social worker Irena Sendler. She risked her own life to help thousands of Jewish children escape from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.

Gwendolyn: This popular Welsh name belongs to the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize, Gwendolyn Brooks.

Coretta: Coretta Scott King, the wife of MLK, was a civil rights leader in her own right. She also played a prominent role in the fight for women’s rights. Naming your baby having her makes a statement!  

Sandra: Pick this one for the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor.

Claudette: Nine months before Rosa Parks did it, a teenage Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Ruby: Hope to raise a trailblazer? Go with Ruby, for the first African American to attend an all-white school during the New Orleans desegregation effort of 1960. Today Ruby Bridges continues to work as a civil rights activist in Louisiana.

Sybil: History has long ignored the Revolutionary War contributions of Sybil Ludington. This teenage “female Paul Revere” hopped on her horse to alert neighbors and soldiers that the British were near.  

Frances: As the first female to serve on a U.S. Cabinet, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins crafted child labor laws. She also helped establish a minimum wage under President Roosevelt.

What do you think of the strong names for girls on this list? Are you particularly inspired by any of these women in history? If you’re still on the hunt for a name, head to our baby names section for more lists, ideas, and tips.

Four Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day

Father’s Day is coming up on June 17th, and you know the baby isn’t planning anything, so time to get on that, mama! But what do you get the guy who has everything (and by that we mean you and the kids 😉 )? It depends on his style. We’ve identified four types of dads, and brainstormed some ways to celebrate each dad in his own way.

If Your Guy is: Indulgent and Over the Top

Your guy has a “go big or go home” mindset when it comes to holidays, particularly the ones that celebrate him. On Father’s Day, he wants to be adored, admired, and appreciated, especially if this is his first dad’s day. For this guy, you really should have started planning months ago! If you didn’t, here’s what you need to do: Let him sleep in, then deliver gourmet breakfast in bed and  plenty of expensive gifts from “the kids” (read: you). Then head off to a very special activity, like a hot air balloon ride or tickets to the NBA finals. Make sure he has time to fit in that massage you scheduled. Finish off the day with dinner at his favorite restaurant. Take some time to pile on the compliments about his awesome dad skills. After all, that’s what this celebration is all about: a proud, indulgent papa!

If Your Guy is: All About Family

Your guy is a family man through and through. He loves being a dad and enjoys hanging out with his little ones, diaper changes and all. On Father’s Day, he wants to spend time with the people who give reason to the day: his own dad and his kids. Plan a day full of fun, relaxed activities perfect for this bunch. Think: a picnic in the park, a baseball game, a low-key brunch, or a trip to a local auto show. Gifts might include a photo book filled with pictures of him and the baby, a “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee mug, or a calendar featuring pictures of the kids every month. Shower him with love today, your guy deserves dad accolades!

If Your Guy is: A Loner in Need of Relaxation

Your guy doesn’t want much for Father’s Day. He’s not one to make a big fuss and he’s an involved dad, so he sees the kids a lot. More than anything, he’d welcome some time off his fathering duties to hit the gym, work on his car, or play some video games uninterrupted. In his view, Father’s Day should be his chance to relax and kick back. Of course he’d love a card and a gift from the baby. But after breakfast, he’d like to kiss you and the kids goodbye and head off for some alone time. 

If Your Guy is: Minimalist and Low Key

In your guy’s opinion, Father’s Day (like most holidays) is overdone and overrated. He doesn’t need a big gift or a lot of money spent on him to know that he’s a beloved father. But don’t not acknowledge the day. Even the man who says “no gifts” and insists he doesn’t want to do anything is in need of a little something special. A homemade trinket from the kids, a small gift of something he’s really wanted, his favorite dinner, and some time to grab a nap: all of these gestures will be appreciated, if in an understated way.

Which type best fits your guy? What are you planning for Father’s Day?

Tricks for Saving Money on Everything Kids Need

I’m sure you’ve noticed that raising kids is crazy expensive! I think the estimated cost of bringing up baby until the age of 18 is close to $250,000. That’s almost $14,000 a year, gulp. Good thing kids appreciate with age (we hope anyway!).

Since most of us don’t have extra money to throw away (if you do, please send some this way), it’s important to spend wisely on your kiddos. That means figuring out how to save money on everything kids need.

The easiest way to save is just to buy less, of course. We all fall victim to marketing, pressure from peers, and our kids’ “I wants.” But most of the time we don’t need the things we buy, and keeping up with the neighbors is vicious cycle. Take the toys out of the store and home to your playroom and your kid loses interest in a blink.

That said, there are definitely many things kids need, and that we both want and need to buy them. At the very least we can try to save money when we do open our wallets! Here are a few categories where I spend on my kids, and some money-saving techniques I’ve picked up as a parent.

Save on: Baby Gear

Shop consignment stores or use an app like LetGo to find used baby items like carriers, swings, bouncers, high chairs, and strollers. These items can be expensive new and they are used for such a brief amount of time. Buying all of this stuff can really add up. The best way to get your money’s worth is to buy gently used (or new and use it for three kids!). The same goes for older kids’ gear like wagons, scooters, bikes, and sports equipment.

Even better: Use a swap site to trade what you have for what you need. Or ask a friend or relative if they have any items they’d love to clear out of their home. Hand me downs are free, plus you know the source, which some parents prefer when acquiring used gear.

Save on: Haircuts

Skip the overpriced kid-centric salon and find a local barber or stylist who can get the job done. I’ve done the kid salons and have been less than impressed by the haircuts they do for $30+ a pop. So now I take my kids to a no-frills salon run by a single mom, and it’s magic. She flips the TV to cartoons, has a jar full of Dum Dum lollipops, and does a great, $15 cut in 10 minutes. Plus, she takes walk ins, which means I don’t have waste my time on scheduling.

Even better: Do it yourself for free, if you’ve got the nerve and skills!

Save on: Kids’ Clothes

Shop sales and stick with comfy basics. Kids never want to wear the fussy stuff because it’s usually itchy or stiff. So that fancy dress you think you need for your daughter? She will likely refuse to wear it, or she’ll stain it the first and only time she agrees to put it on. Plus, kids are so cute on their own, they don’t even need frills to look good! Another tip: Stock up on future sizes when you find a good price on items like socks, undies, shorts, or anything else your kiddo won’t have (much of) an opinion about.

Even better: Make regular visits to your local thrift stores, which are packed with cheap treasures. No time to search the racks? Check out online thrift retailer Kids on 45th, who will send you a box of gently-used clothes in your kid’s size and style for a super-affordable price (items start at $1.49!).

Save on: Kids’ Shoes

Again, shop sales and keep it simple. If you find a brand and style that works for your kid, buy that same shoe again the next time, and sign up for emails to receive discount codes and sale info. Skip fussy fashion boots and stiff kicks; chances are your kiddo won’t wear them. I do think it’s worth spending on kids’ shoes, especially as they get bigger. Older kids put a lot of wear on shoes, but their feet don’t grow as fast as their younger siblings. And you really get what you pay for with cheap shoes.

Even better: Consignment shops are also an option for shoes. If you go this route, look for pairs that have very little wear, but then again that can be a red flag that the shoes are uncomfortable. Make sure your kiddo tries on anything you’re considering and puts in some test laps around the store before you buy.

Save on: Childcare

It can be hard to save on childcare because of course you want the best for your child, and discount daycare sounds like the equivalent of day-old sushi: dangerous and not worth it. Plus, sometimes there just aren’t a lot of options, right? But there are a few ways you could reduce your daycare bills. Join a nanny share. Look into in-home daycares, which are often less expensive than big facilities. If you have the room in your house to house a caregiver, an au pair can be a surprisingly affordable and flexible option. 

Even better: Set up a co-op or swap with friends and cut your babysitting bills down to nothing. And ask managers for flexible hours and schedule adjustments so you and your partner can provide more of the care yourselves.

Savings Add Up

All of these tricks probably won’t make that much of a dent in the grand $250k scheme of things. But altogether they can add up to some savings to use on something you really want to spend on — that trip to Disney, maybe? Or funding that college account that currently seems out of reach?

What do you do to save on your kids, mamas? Have any money-saving tricks to share?

How to Know If Your Child is Allergic to Bees

Summer means no school, warmer weather, and, unfortunately, the appearance of stinging insects like wasps, honey bees, and fire ants. For most people these bugs are just irritating. But for about 5 percent of kids, a bee sting can mean a severe or even deadly reaction – scary! Here’s how to know if your child is allergic to bees.

What Happens When You are Stung by a Bee

Honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, paper jackets, and fire ants can all cause allergic reactions. When these insects sting, they inject venom into the skin. Most people experience only mild swelling, redness, and burning at the site of the sting. For kids and adults with insect allergies, a sting can trigger a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Signs of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing, skin afflictions such as hives or rash, swollen tongue or throat, nausea, dizziness or fainting, and a weak but rapid pulse. Anaphylaxis can be life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. 

But what if your little has never been stung by a bee or wasp? How do you know if your kiddo is allergic?

How to Know if Your Child is Allergic to Bees

Right now, the only way to know if someone is allergic to stinging insects is to watch for a reaction. It’s extremely uncommon to have an allergic reaction the first time a bee stings you. If your child is allergic to stinging insects, you almost certainly won’t know it until a second or third sting from the same type of insect.

That’s because on first sting, the allergic person develops antibodies known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies then attach themselves to immune cells tasked with chemical defense against what they deem as threats, according to Science Alert. The next time an allergic person is stung, the antibodies could drive the immune system to overreact to the venom and release a flood of chemicals like histamine. These chemicals cause the person’s allergic reaction.

Who is at Risk of Insect Stings

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, an estimated .4-.8 percent of children and three percent of adults have a life threatening allergy to insect stings. Another few percent have severe reactions which may or may not worsen with time. In any given year, approximately 100 people will die from an untreated allergic reaction to a sting.

It’s impossible to know what kind of reaction a person with a known insect allergy will have if stung. S/he may experience anaphylaxis, or the reaction could be less severe. People who know they are allergic to insect stings should carry an emergency epinephrine auto injector such as an EpiPen, the Mayo Clinic advises. This is a rescue medicine that can help reduce the reaction and buy some time until the affected person arrives at the ER. 

If Your Child is Allergic to Bees

If your little has an allergy to bees, see an allergist. The doctor can give you a prescription for emergency epinephrine. S/he might also recommend allergy shots known as immunotherapy which can help lessen reactions.

Experts advise kiddos with severe allergies wear medical ID necklaces bracelets to alert others. Minimize the risk of a sting by teaching kids to stay away from the insects. Other sting-prevention tips include always wearing shoes outdoors, avoiding bright colored clothing, and taking care when eating or drinking outside.

Has your child ever had a reaction to an insect? What precautions do you take to avoid being stung again?

Free Range Parenting in Utah: It’s the Law

You’ve probably heard that Utah recently passed the country’s first ‘free range parenting’ law. In a ironic twist, you could say the law actually protects people for what they’re not doing – hovering and helicoptering their kiddos  – instead of mandating what parents must do.

The law, which took effect May 8, grants parents permission to give their children some freedoms that a well-meaning bystander might otherwise question. Utah parents will soon be able to, at their discretion, allow their kids to walk to school alone, ride their bikes around the neighborhood, and even go to a park sans supervision, without fear of having the cops called on them for neglect or even child abuse. The law doesn’t designate an age at which parents can grant these freedoms. Instead, they’re leaving it up to those who know their kiddos best to decide what’s allowed.

Why Pass a Free Range Parenting Law

Utah lawmakers noted they tried to be very careful in how they drafted the law, which passed unanimously. Obviously they don’t want it to contain loopholes that might allow an actual child abuser to justify actions. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, they felt it was important to pass the law because in some cases around the country, parents have had their children temporarily removed from their custody for something like letting them walk to school unaccompanied.

It’s an interesting law, even funny if you really think about it: we have to protect the grown ups from each other, in order to give kids permission to have some grown up experiences. It’s kind of silly, really  – is this kind of mandate necessary? But since we live in the United States, land of lawsuits and harm-is-everywhere hyperbole, Utah lawmakers think it is.

What’s your take on the country’s first free-range parenting law? Do you think it’s a good one?

Why Your Baby Is Waking Up Again And Again

Newborn sleep is notoriously hard on moms, who need to be up every three hours for a feed. Most babies are capable of sleeping “through the night” — which means a five hour stretch — between three to six months, or when they’ve reached 12-13 pounds. Parents tend to be ecstatic if/when they get there. But as with most things baby, once you’ve conquered one thing, a new challenge arises. And a big challenge for parents is a baby sleep regression.

Baby sleep regression is when a baby begins waking during the night, and/or taking abbreviated naps (or skipping them altogether), for no obvious reason. The Baby Sleep Site reports that babies may experience a sleep regression at about four months old. (That’s just about the time new parents feel like they’re getting the hang of this baby thing!).

Four month sleep regression

Newborn sleep is unlike any other; newborns just sleep, anywhere, without much noticeable pattern. Between three and five months, babies begin to experience the sleep patterns more like those that adults have. They start to sleep in cycles, with periods of light and deep sleep, and with more distinct day and night styles. That’s why naps might become 45 minute occurrences, or one daytime sleep cycle. And it explains why your baby may start waking up every 90 minutes to two hours at night, as they naturally cycle through periods of quiet (non REM) and active (REM) sleep.

If your baby can self soothe, s/he might just roll over and fall back asleep at night. But if your baby is used to nursing, snuggling, or rocking to sleep, s/he will likely need this crutch to return again (and again, all night long) to dreamland. Ideally, you’ll begin to wean your baby from any sleep crutches before the regression begins. If that’s not the case, start to slowly wean your little one off of these crutches. Then you can start to work on helping your baby self soothe. This often involves putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake.

Change in Nap Frequency

Another thing that happens at four months is babies drop a nap, from four a day to three. Their periods of wakefulness become longer, and they’re no longer willing to go to bed an hour after a nap. It’s time for a shift in sleep schedules, according to the WeeBeeDreaming blog, from a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. Because baby is still adjusting to one less nap, bedtime needs to happen earlier. And to make bedtime earlier and easier, the last nap needs to end by 4:30 or 5 p.m.

It’s also a good time to begin establishing good sleep habits like napping at home. At four months it becomes hard for your baby to nap on the go. Parents should adjust their schedules to their baby’s need for quality naps at home, suggests WeeBeeDreaming.

Other Sleep Regressions

Babies drop a nap at about nine months, to two naps a day. Come 18 months, and your now-toddler will dip down to just one nap. This shift in daytime sleeping patterns can have an affect on what happens at nighttime, especially if bedtimes are not adjusted when naptime changes. Many other factors may play a role in baby sleep as well: cutting teeth, developmental changes, major milestones like walking and talking.

The baby sleep regression experienced at nine months old  is likely caused by developmental changes, according to the Baby Sleep Site. Your baby is likely a little “wired” from all the leaps and bounds s/he is making physically and mentally. That combined with the dropped nap can cause some nighttime wakings. For the same reasons, expect a sleep regression again at 18 months.

With all these potential baby sleep regressions on the horizon, it helps to lay down a good foundation for healthy sleep habits early. Regular naps, early bedtimes and reliable routines, and a consistent approach to your baby’s sleep style are essential. These tools and routines will help you get through it too.