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Christmas is a busy time of year. Add to that the need to keep your tiny elves from destroying your decorations and risking their own health, and it can get pretty stressful. “There are a lot of household accidents at Christmas—people’s homes are filled with all sorts of decor that isn’t normally there,” says Sage Singleton, a safety expert with Safewise.


Dr. LeAnn Kridelbaugh, president and Chief Medical Officer of Children's Health Pediatric Group in Dallas, Texas, adds “A recent study from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 15,000 injuries occur during November and December because of unsafe holiday decorations.  That’s more than 250 injuries a day that require an emergency room visit.”

So how do you protect your precious children while simultaneously protecting your heirloom Christmas decor handed down over the generations? Luckily we have some tips.

Ornaments, tinsel + decorations

Depending on the location and material, ornaments can appear to be great toys to curious little minds. Just make sure that the ones toward the bottom of the tree (if you choose to decorate it) clearly say “shatterproof” on the label. Glass, metal with sharp objects, or ornaments with tiny parts should be placed at the top of the tree.

“Small ornaments, light bulbs, and other tiny decorations pose a choking hazard if swallowed by small children. Keep small, breakable decorations out of reach.” Kridelbaugh recommends, “The best option is to store delicate ornaments and decorations until your children are older.”

Kridelbaugh also points out that, “Another area to look out for is decorations that can irritate skin, eyes and lungs. Artificial snow can have chemicals that can be harmful when sprayed and inhaled, so follow instructions on the can carefully.”

If you use tinsel, make sure your child can’t get tangled up in it. In fact, it may be wise to skip tinsel and garlands for a year or two until your kids are older, or restrict them to the top of the tree.

If you’re going to place ornaments low, opt for ribbon hangers rather than metal hooks, which can injure children and pets who put things in their mouths.

Be especially cautious of any length of string on your tree that is 12” or longer.

Toys

And of course, be sure that the gifts you’re giving meet safety standards as well, given the age of your children.

"When choosing a toy, always check the intended age range listed on the packaging and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Keep toys meant for older kids away from infants and younger kids. Buy dolls or stuffed animals with eyes that are sewn on, rather than plastic. Plastic eyes tend to fall off and are a choking hazard for younger children,” says Kridelbaugh. Additionally, “Batteries are made with chemicals that can be deadly,” so Kridelbaugh recommends checking that toys and watches have batteries that are locked in place.

And always, if you have any doubt about the safety of a toy you purchased, it can be checked for recalls at www.recalls.gov.

Candles

If you’re going to use candles, place them up high. Never put any candle near a Christmas tree, stockings, or decorations, or leave them unattended. Wax burners will reduce the fire risk, and many manufacturers make faux candles if you are interested in the look without the actual flame.

Wrapping paper, ribbons and snow

"All the trimmings for gifts are beautiful, but they are a triple threat for small children. Prevent possible suffocation, choking and fire hazards by gathering all wrappings and packaging material as gifts are unwrapped,” recommends Kridelbaugh.

Stockings

Weighted stocking holders for mantle pieces are dangerous during the holidays. “Every year, without fail, children are seriously injured by tugging on a Christmas stocking and bringing the entire heavy stocking holder down on top of their heads,” says Singleton.

She suggests that until your children are older, hanging stockings on hooks that are securely nailed in place to the mantel or even a wall is a safer alternative to weighted stocking holders.

Lights

Make sure your Christmas lights are shatterproof and the all plugs are out of a child’s reach. Putting a fake weighted present box in front of the outlet is a great way to shield your child from playing with a plug.

Alternatively, you could follow the lead of Dustin Christensen, co-founder of The Toddle and father of twin girls. He switches his electrical socket safety plugs out for a box-style cover that lets him use the outlet while still keeping them away from his twins.

"Make sure that no child under 4 can pull the string and potentially topple your tree,” instructs Kridelbaugh. She adds that, “Few people are aware that strings of lights may be coated in a plastic that contains lead, so be sure to wash your hands after handling lights.”

Poinsettias and other Christmas plants

Mistletoe can be extremely poisonous to humans, and although it’s usually placed high up, it’s not advisable to have it in a house with small children. “I’d refrain from using mistletoe in any home with a child under the age of 4,” says Singleton.

For the same reason, Singleton also cautions against the use of holly berries as they are also poisonous to humans, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Kridelbaugh adds amaryllis to this list.

Poinsettias can make some pets sick but are rarely poisonous to humans if ingested. If your child ate quite a few leaves however, it might upset their stomach.

Medication

This is an area that is all too often forgotten. “If you're hosting guests, remember to put medications well out of the reach of children. Blood pressure medications, blood thinners and prescription opioids are especially dangerous for kids,” states Kridelbaugh.

The Christmas tree

Ah, the Christmas tree—an endless source of fascination for little ones. Those bright, shiny lights and sparkling balls can be irresistible to curious elves.

"If you’ve purchased a natural tree, make sure it's in a sturdy stand that's rated for the tree's size, and place it where foot traffic won't knock it over. Additionally, replenish the water regularly to keep your tree from drying out,” recommends Kridelbaugh. She adds, “When it comes to artificial trees, remember that trees made in China, or trees that are older than nine years, may also contain lead or give off dangerous levels of lead dust as they deteriorate. This is a good time to toss out your old tree and check labels for lead content as you purchase a new one [made of polyethylene (PE) instead].”

There are a few options for safeguarding your tree against damage and (worse yet) tipping over.

  • Decorate the top half. If you have a big tree, this works well. Just decorate the top half, lights and all, and keep all ornaments out of your child’s’ reach. Or, place the bigger, unbreakable ornaments on the bottom half of the tree where, if taken, they won’t harm your child or break your heart.
  • Fence it in. Many parents buy a 360 degree circular fence to put around their entire tree. This is great if you have a lot of space. Another option is to put the tree in the corner and put a fence from wall to wall.
  • Faux present wall. Christi with Love from the Oven offers a how-to for making your own wall out of large boxes. Just fill the boxes with something heavy like books, and wrap them like pretty Christmas presents. Your baby will be blocked from the tree and presents without compromising your decor.
  • Go tiny. You may decide that a standard-sized Christmas tree is too much bother this year. A great alternative is a tiny tree on top of a table. Still festive, but out of reach of little hands.
  • Add weight or anchor it. Be sure to add weight to the base of your tree. “Every year children get hurt by pulling the Christmas tree down on themselves,” says Singleton. She suggests using sandbags or rice bags to weigh down the base of artificial trees. “Real trees are usually heavier, but if you can weight those down too or even anchor them to the wall with a strap, it will help ensure your child’s safety,” she says.

Be safe, have fun.

Having a tour of the house can also go a long way in preventing holiday accidents. “We go around the house and explain to our toddlers what the ‘new’ lights and decorations are so that they understand they're not to be played with, and it's a great chance for them to learn new words and holiday songs too,” says Christensen.

Christmas time is a magical time of year and one that delights babies and children alike. With a few simple tricks and cautious use, your Christmas decorations can provide a lot of enjoyment without endangering your children.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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