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How to talk to your kids about your period—from toddlers to teenagers

This is a conversation that’s going to come up at some point. 

How to talk to your kids about your period—from toddlers to teenagers

When you’re a mom, it’s likely you’ll have to talk to kids about certain topics a lot sooner than you’d like. Take your period: Whether it’s because your son saw you changing your pad or your daughter heard something about bloody underpants at school, there’s always a teachable moment around the corner.


How should you talk to your kids when they ask about menstruation?

As founder of HelloFlo, a women’s health company and author of HelloFlo: The Guide, Period, I’ve been asked this question a lot. In my experience, waiting to tell your daughter about menstruation after she gets her first period—or just not talking to your son about it at all—can lead to embarrassment and period-shaming. On the flip side, you don’t necessarily need to give a 4-year-old all the nitty-gritty details of how female reproductive anatomy works.

Where do you draw the line? Here’s what you need to know based on your children’s ages:

Preschoolers

General body positivity is important at this age, but if your child sees you in the midst of dealing with your period—and let’s face it, there’s no such thing as privacy once you have a kid in the house—it’s okay to explain that once girls get a little older, around 12 years old, they have a monthly period which is when blood comes out of their vaginas. You can explain that it’s not like a boo-boo: It doesn’t hurt and, most importantly, it’s nothing to be concerned about.

When my daughter asked why I sometimes wore diapers, I explained it this way. When she persisted with more questions, I told her that women have eggs inside of them that help them have babies and each month, one of those eggs comes out. She got very excited at the thought that she would one day “lay eggs” like a chicken and that was the end of that conversation—until she brought it up again a few years later.

Early elementary school

Early elementary school is a great opportunity to start talking to your kids more generally about puberty and the changes that come about. At this stage, it’s helpful to look for small moments to chat—say, if a peer mentions puberty or periods at school or if you see someone on television mention menstruation.

An important note: Your kids will be aware at this point how you talk about your own period. Refrain from referring to it negatively, and be upfront about what’s happening. If cramps are keeping you from being able to play outside, for example, say that so that your kids understand.

Later elementary school

When your kids get closer to the late adolescent years of 9 to 11, they’ll probably start noticing changes to their own bodies. In addition to noting that that these shifts are completely normal, it’s also crucial to tell your kids that the changes happen to everyone at different times so they don’t judge where they are based on where their friends are. It’s also important that girls know that boys also go through puberty; it’s a fact of growing up.

Some girls start getting their periods in elementary school, so make sure your child, regardless of gender, knows not to shame or embarrass someone who has her period. Those first couple of months (and even years) of menstruation are filled with period-stained clothes and pads falling out of backpacks; young girls don’t need rude reminders that they’re experiencing a huge change that can come with painful side effects.

For girls, it’s also a great time to explain what to expect during their first period. For example, period blood may be brownish in color and look like a poop stain, which can throw many young women off. Getting cramps for the first time can be equally jarring, as many girls think it’s a really bad stomach ache. By preparing your daughter, stocking her up with pads and showing her how to use them, you can stave off some of those fears and show her that taking care of her body is important.

This also shows her that she can come to you and talk if anything is bothering her health-wise.

The most important thing I’ve found both as a mother and a women’s health advocate is that talking about periods (and puberty at large) is all about having smaller conversations over a longer stretch of time.

Giving your children the information they need is important, but it’s also crucial that they grow up not feeling ashamed of what’s going on with their bodies and know not to shame others.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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