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There are feet and elbows and squeals and shrieks, followed by laughing—lots of laughing—thumps and grunts. I watch, waiting for my youngest to smack his head on the coffee table or my oldest to sit a little too long on the middle one’s chest, worried that it’s not really fun until someone gets hurt.


I don’t know if it is amusement, amazement or annoyance I feel as I watch their dad in the middle of it all, tossing them around, spinning them and flipping them, altogether keeping the energy at a frenzy, sweating and panting right along. And I wonder who is having more fun?

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To a mom, all the noise and pummeling can be more than a little bit alarming. But lots of research suggests that regular roughhousing sessions make for happier, more successful children.

In fact, in Top Dog, a book about the science of winning and losing, authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman argue that roughhousing can give your kids a competitive edge and help them learn to thrive in an increasingly dog-eat-dog world.

We know intuitively that something magical is going on when dad gets down on the floor and lets little ones give it to him. Even if we are more than a little uneasy with all the activity, somehow we know the special give and take that goes on is fundamental to how our kids relate to him.

But are we aware of how that relationship affects how our kids see the world and themselves in it, or that roughhousing can help protect against childhood depression?

Maybe if we understand that roughhousing is a good way for kids to release aggression, or that it teaches our kids how to set boundaries, we can relax and enjoy watching the show.

As moms, every fiber of our being has been devoted to nourishing, nurturing and protecting our babies from before that first beautiful cry was heard to those first wobbly steps and beyond. The journey has brought us closer and made us more connected and in tune with our children than we could have ever imagined.

The first few years, our children’s development requires more from us, with dads as active participants who, for the most part, follow our lead. But by nature, there comes a time and place where dads’ involvement and subsequent bond grows independently and quite importantly.

"A mother’s bond is established in infancy, and researchers believe that dad's bond is expressed a little later, when the father serves as a secure base allowing the child to explore and take risks," says University of Georgia researcher Geoffrey Brown, lead author of a 2012 study in the Journal of Family Psychology on fundamental questions about how fathers bond with children.

What is roughhousing?

Roughhousing is essentially mutual, aggressive, interactive, high-trust play in which no one is actually getting hurt. Kids feel more relaxed, connected, and happy after roughhousing. This is critical in establishing a deep and lasting bond with dads that lays the foundation for the part of their development that helps them function successfully in the world and pave the way for future generations’ success and happiness by properly socializing kids to be good parents themselves. The good news is that roughhousing comes in many shapes and sizes, so dads who are more adverse to the extreme physicality of many forms can easily find others that suit their style better.

Recent research has shown that roughhousing serves an evolutionary purpose. Unlike many other animals, humans need their fathers well beyond just the act of making the baby. Based on research by MacDonald and Parke, fathers play key roles in optimum development of psychological and emotional traits like empathy, emotional control and the ability to navigate complex social relationships.

"Perhaps out of worry for their kids' future financial security, dads across human cultures mostly focus on preparing children to compete within society. They give advice, encourage academic success and stress achievement," says David Geary of the University of Missouri and author of Male, Female: Evolution of Human Sex Differences.

By roughousing, dads "rile them up, almost to the point that they are going to snap, and then calm them down," explains Geary. "This pattern teaches kids to control their emotions—a trait that garners them popularity among superiors and peers," he said. "As adults, they are more likely to form secure relationships, achieve stable social standing and become able parents. In this sense, a father who takes care of his children also gives his grandchildren a leg up."

Science supports the need for this kind of activity.

"We know quite a lot about how important fathers are in general for a child's development," says Richard Fletcher, the leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program at the University of Newcastle in Australia (UON), in an interview on ABC News.

Though all the rolling around and noise on the floor may look like theres just a lot of fun being had, Fletcher and UON researchers believe that the most important aspect of roughhousing is that it gives children "a sense of achievement when they 'defeat' a more powerful adult, building their self-confidence and concentration."

In their study, researchers watched film of 30 dads roughhousing with their kids. "When you look at fathers and their young children playing, you can see that for the child, it's not just a game. They obviously enjoy it and they're giggling, but when you watch the video, you can see that child is concentrating really hard. I think the excitement is related to the achievement that's involved," Fletcher says. "It's not about a spoiled child not wanting to lose, I think that child is really striving for the achievement of succeeding."

What it does to your child’s brain

There is a lot of science to reinforce the value of roughhousing. A lot of it can be tied to one salient fact: Roughhousing releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Based on research by the Child Mental Health Centre’s Margot Sutherland, when kids roughhouse, the brain recognizes this as a small stressor. As heart rate increases, the brain thinks they are fighting or fleeing some danger. To protect the brain from stress, BDNF is released, which repairs and protects the brain while improving it’s learning and memory capabilities. Stimulating neuron growth in the cortex-amygdala, cerebellum and hippocampus regions of the brain, BDNF is vitally important and responsible for the development of memory, higher learning and advanced behavior, such as language and logic–skills necessary for academic success. This growth underpins a myriad of benefits for our kids.

Why we roughhouse

Some parents worry that roughhousing teaches kids to be violent and impulsive. In their book, The Art of Roughhousing, Anthony DeBenedet and Larry Cohen claim instead that roughhousing “makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.”

Other studies have indicated that kids who aren’t allowed to roughhouse can develop inappropriate responses to aggression, imagining threats where none exist, according to research by Daniel Paquette, a Professor of Psychoeducation at the University of Montreal.

"Parent-child roughhousing enables kids to explore aggression within the context of an emotional bond. By practicing aggression in a safe environment as a kid, they learn to be comfortable with it and take more risks as an adult, whether it’s by standing up to a bullying colleague or asking for a raise. In particular, fathers play a critical role in helping kids develop these skills," he says.

In Paquette’s surveys of children’s behavior for the University of Montreal, kid-initiated roughhousing peaks at around three or four, but continues until about age 10. During that time, Psychologist Anthony Pellegrini has found that "the amount of roughhousing children engage in predicts their achievement in first grade better than their kindergarten test scores do."

Roughhousing is a fun and safe place to teach your kids that failure is often just a temporary state and that victory goes to the person who is resilient, sticks to it and learns from his mistakes.

As a parent, resilience and grit are two of the best things you can help your kids develop. "Since resilience is a key in developing children’s intelligence, resilient kids tend to see failure more as a challenge to overcome rather than an event that defines them. This sort of intellectual resilience helps ensure your children bounce back from bad grades and gives them the grit to keep trying until they’ve mastered a topic," says Pellegrini. The ability to bounce back from failures helps your kids face challenges and reach their full potential, living happier lives as adults.

Though on its surface it appears rather brutish, roughhousing is really quite sophisticated, requiring the coordination of three aspects of human intelligence: physical, social and cognitive. When in concert, these aspects provide the sweet notes of our kids’ lives, but when out of balance can make for some sad music.

10 ways kids benefit from roughhousing

1. It rewires the brain, making kids smarter.

Roughhousing requires our kids to adapt quickly to unpredictable situations. In his book, Wild Justice, evolutionary biologist, Marc Bekoff, says, "The unpredictable nature of roughhousing actually rewires a child’s brain by increasing the connections between neurons in the cerebral cortex, which in turn contributes to behavioral flexibility. Learning how to cope with sudden changes while roughhousing trains your kiddos to cope with unexpected bumps in the road when they’re out in the real world."

2. It teaches children about taking turns and cooperation.

Roughhousing teaches kids the concept of leadership and negotiation. Physical games require the give-and-take of negotiation to establish the rules upon which everyone needs to agree in order for all to have fun. This is excellent preparation for both professional success and committed relationships.

Roughhousing also requires taking turns with the dominant role. Whether you’re the wrestler or the wrestlee, everyone has to take turns in for the fun to continue. Kids don’t want to keep playing if they are constantly on the losing side.

3. It toughens kids up.

Occasional scuffs and scrapes are a byproduct of roughhousing and are bound to happen. Rather than coddle, dads tend to distract their kids from the pain with humor or some other task.

In a study of 32 subjects in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, researchers found that many fathers walk a fine line during roughousing between safety and risk, allowing children to get minor injuries without endangering them. Learning to deal with and manage minor discomforts while roughhousing can help kids handle the stresses they’ll encounter at school and work.

4. It teaches kids to take risks.

Beckoff states that roughhousing is good for learning because "it provides an opportunity for making mistakes without fear of punishment." And because "fathers play a particularly important role in the development of children's openness to the world," writes Paquette, "they also tend to encourage children to take risks, while at the same time ensuring [their] safety and security, thus permitting children to learn to be braver in unfamiliar situations, as well as to stand up for themselves."

5. It helps kids manage aggression.

Some parents fear that roughhousing will lead to aggression and that we should always be “safe” with our children. While this is a concern, studies perfomed at the University of Regensburg in Germany suggest that it actually has the opposite effect.

Children who roughhouse at home are less violent, presumably because they feel a strong connection with their fathers and because they learn the difference between healthy roughhousing and aggression. As psychologist John Snarey says in his research-turned-book, How Fathers Care for the Next Generation, "Children who roughhouse with their fathers... quickly learn that biting, kicking, and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable."

Girls have aggressive feelings, too, and few know how to deal with them. Roughhousing provides the same benefits to them as it does to boys. Occasionally, roughhousing can lead to tears—play may have activated feelings that needed to come out, and they are coming out in tears rather than laughter and body slams. It turns out that roughhousing can help "mean girls" access their feelings more directly, which cuts down on the meanness.

7. It increases social and emotional intelligence.

“The ability to differentiate between play and aggression translates into other social skills that require people to read and interpret social cues,” says Pellegrini. Kids need to learn when to stop. In a report published in Behavioral Neuroscience, Jennifer Mascaro and her colleagues at Emory University state that, "rough play mimics aggressive actions, and requires accurate reading of social cues to determine when the rough and tumble tickling or fighting has gone too far, or if someone is feeling hurt. That requires evaluating other people’s emotional state and determining when the feelings pass the threshold from fun and play to fear and anger."

Play expert and founder of The National Institute for Play, Dr. Stuart Brown, says that the “lack of experience with [roughhousing] hampers the normal give-and-take necessary for social mastery and has been linked with poor control of violent impulses later in life. When kids roughhouse they learn to tell the difference between play and actual aggression," making them more well-liked, compared to kids who have a hard time separating the two.

Moreover, kids learn how to regain self-control, which makes them more confident in their emotional lives.

8. It teaches kids about boundaries, ethics and morality.

When we roughhouse with our kids, they learn the difference between right and wrong and about the appropriate use of strength and power. Roughhousing also teaches children about setting limits and boundaries while being safe when they play with others.

In nature, self-handicapping is one of the most amazing illustrations of moral behavior in animal play. "When we roughhouse with our kids, we model for them how someone bigger and stronger holds back. We teach them self-control, fairness, and empathy. We let them win, which gives them confidence and demonstrates that winning isn’t everything and you don’t need to dominate all the time," say DeBenedet and Cohen.

According to Bekoff, this is moral behavior because the larger the animal cares more about both players having fun together than it does about winning. Kids learn that actual strength is showing compassion to those weaker than you.

9. It makes kids physically active and can protect them from depression.

"Being active, getting sweaty and roughhousing offer more than just physical health benefits. They also protect against depression," says Tonje Zahl, a Ph.D. candidate at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and first author of the article on the study findings which were recently published in the February 2017 issue of Pediatrics.

Her new study supports that this kind of physical activity protects against depression. The researchers at the NTNU examined just under 800 children when they were six years old and conducted follow-up examinations with about 700 of them when they were eight and ten years old to see if they could find a correlation between physical activity and symptoms of depression. They found that the more the kids engaged in activity that caused them to sweat and pant, the less incidence there was of depression.

10. Roughhousing builds a better bond.

The rough play fathers engage in is just as important as the gentle mothering that mothers do. Roughhousing offers dads a chance to show physically their affection to their kids in a fun and playful manner. Throwing kids up in the air and catching them, or swinging them upside-down, builds kids’ trust in you—by taking part in somewhat risky activities with you, your kids learn that they can trust you to keep them safe. And as dads tumble around with kids, the closeness and physical activity release the parenting hormone, oxytocin, which boosts feelings of bonding and closeness.

It’s not just for dads and sons

Just as fathers can be super midnight soothers, mothers can be awesome roughhousers. This is especially important, since not all children have fathers. "If a mom does it, the child will learn the same thing," says Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, a professor of developmental psychology at New York University. And moms who roughhouse with their kids give them a whole new set of behaviors to figure out and learn from.

All kids need loving physical contact, and both boys and girls need to get it from their fathers. In roughhousing, dads and kids get the endorphin rush of athletics as well as the oxytocin rush of a good hug, benefitting both the same way that the release of oxytocin does when a child is being comforted or is nursing.

Importantly, DeBenedet says roughhousing can benefit both genders, often in different ways. “For boys, it’s a way to learn physical interaction that isn’t violent or sexual. For girls, it’s finding a way to make sure their voice is heard.”

So, what can you do to remain sane while watching all of this go down?

  • Be aware of the surroundings Keep your kids away from areas where they can get hurt. Also, keep in mind that a child’s joints are prone to injury when roughhousing.
  • Watch for and respect clues Ensure that roughhousing has not gone too far and that everyone is still having fun.
  • Don’t roughhouse right before bed Kids need some time right before bed to relax and ramp things down so they can get into sleep mode.
  • Remember that roughhousing is for girls, too While boys are naturally prone to engage in roughhousing, make sure you don’t leave girls out of the fun. Studies show that girls who roughhouse with their fathers are more confident than girls who don’t. And some studies even indicate that roughhousing can prevent your little angel from being a mean girl that psychologically terrorizes other girls.

The Art of Roughhousing recommends specific things you can do with your kids while roughhousing, along with helpful illustrations showing you how to do them. Also, you can visit the website for additional roughhousing ideas.

In the end, roughhousing may be alarming but is truly necessary for proper development to take place—all that tumbling and tackling helps develop strength, flexibility and complex motor learning, in addition to concentration, cardiovascular fitness, and coordination. Additionally, tossing kids in the air and spinning them around provides early vestibular stimulation (the input that your body receives when you experience movement or gravity), which is important for balance and may be a building block for future athleticism.

And there is one more surprising bonus: Roughhousing makes parenting easier by providing a positive outlet for big feelings so they don’t get worked out in more problematic ways. If we use roughhousing to improve communication and to impart values that influence our children’s attitude at home, with peers and at school, we can learn how they react to success, failures and obstacles, and we can build a special bond to guide them through troubled times. We lay the groundwork to better our present mutual relationships and those relationships of generations to follow.

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As the saying goes, "failing to prepare is preparing to fail," and that seriously applies to parenting. With no fewer than one dozen items to wrangle before walking out the door on an ordinary errand, mamas have plenty on their mind. That is why one of the very best gifts you can give the mamas in your life this year is to reduce her mental load with some gear she can depend on when she's out and about.

Although it may be impossible to guarantee completely smooth outings with kids in tow, here are the items we rely on for making getting out of the house less of a chore.

1. Bugaboo Bee 5 stroller

This stroller is a dream come true for any mama on the go. (Meaning: All of us!) Lightweight, compact and easy to maneuver with just one hand, this is made for navigating busy sidewalks with ease—or just fitting in the trunk without a major wrestling match. It's designed for little passengers to love just as much, too, with a bassinet option for newborn riders that can be easily swapped with a comfy, reclining seat that can face forward or backward for bigger kids.

$699

2. Bugaboo wheel board

This wheel board will let big brother or sister easily hitch a ride on the stroller if their little legs aren't quite up for a full walk. We love the smart details that went into the design, including a slightly offset position so Mom or Dad can walk without bumping their legs. And because toddlers have strong opinions of their own, it's brilliant that the wheel board allows them to sit or stand.

$125

3. Nuby Keepeez cup strap

If you know a little one gearing up for the major leagues with a killer throwing arm, this is a must-have so parents aren't buying new sippy cups on a weekly basis. Perfect for tethering to high chairs, strollers, car seats and shopping carts, it allows Mama to feel confident she'll return home with everything she left with in the first place.

$6.99

4. Bugaboo footmuff

For those mamas who live anywhere where the temps regularly dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, this ultra-soft, comfortable footmuff is a lifesaver. Made with water-repellant microfleece, it keeps little ones dry and cozy—whether there is melting snow, a good drizzle or simply a spilled sippy cup.

$129.95

5. Bugaboo stroller organizer

Because we know #mombrain is no joke, we are all for products that will help us stay organized—especially when out and about. With multiple zipper pockets, a sleek design and velcro straps that help it easily convert to a handbag when stepping away from the stroller, it helps keep essentials from spare diapers to the car keys within reach.

$39.95

6. Bugaboo Turtle car seat

It may be called a car seat, but we love that this one is specifically designed to securely click into a stroller frame, too. (Meaning there is no need to wake up a sleeping baby for a car-to-stroller transfer!) More reasons to love it are the lightweight design, UPF 50+ sun protection shade and Merino wool inlay, meaning it's baby and mama friendly.

$349

7. Chicco QuickSeat hook-on chair

This hook-on baby chair will almost certainly earn a spot on your most-used list. Perfect for dining out or simply giving your baby a space to sit, it's portable and beyond easy to install. (Plus, it's a great alternative to those questionably clean high chairs at many restaurants!)

$57.99

8. Bugaboo stroller cup holder

Chasing after kids when out and about can work up a thirst, just like neighborhood strolls in the chillier months can get, well, chilly. So we love that this cup holder will help mama keep something for herself to drink close at hand. Designed to accommodate bottles of all sizes and easy to click onto any compatible stroller, it's a perfect stocking stuffer.

$29.95

9. Bugaboo soft wool blanket

Fair warning with this luxe stroller blanket: It's so cozy that you might want to buy another one for yourself! Made with Merino wool that helps it stand up to any elements parents might encounter during an outing, it will help baby stay warm during the winter and cool enough as the temps start to pick up.

$109.95

10. Munchkin silicone placemats

Made to roll and stow in a diaper bag, these silicone placemats will make dining out a (relatively) less messy experience. With raised edges that will help contain spills and a grippy bottom, they will stay in place on tables so that parents might be able to enjoy their own meals, too.

$8.99

11. Bugaboo Breezy seat liner

Designed to keep baby warm when it's cool and cool when it's warm, this seat liner will minimize fusses during all seasons—which is one of the very best gifts you can give a mama. Because accidents of all types can happen on the go, we also love that this seat liner is reversible! With a number of colors, it's also a fun way to help a stroller to stand out at the playground.

$79.95

12. OXO Tot Handy stroller hook

If you ever catch yourself thinking it would be nice to have another hand, these stroller clips are the next-best solution for when you are out and about. Perfect for lugging a bag or anchoring a cup, you'll want a set for every stroller you own.

$14.99

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

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"Where do babies come from?" is a question that can strike dread in the minds of parents everywhere. No matter how you slice it, telling your kids the story of their conceptions can be tricky...and when you conceived via assisted reproductive technology? Well, that can add a whole new layer of complexity.

But author Tess Kossow has found a way to tell the story behind her son's in vitro fertilization conception—and the best part? She's letting other parents who turned to this technology use her words.

Kossow knows all too well how intricate the IVF process really is. The mother sought out fertility treatments after a year of trying to conceive. She and her husband began the process with two viable embryos—and while the first embryo implanted she later suffered a miscarriage. The second embryo became Kossow's son, Ferris, who was born in April of 2018.

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It's so important to normalize the IVF process, and Kossow is doing just that—she's showing parents who have opted for IVF treatments and their children that their stories are worth telling. Kossow has written the IVF story in the form of a children's book called I'm Very Ferris.

"I wanted to go with something that would resonate [with little children] and get across the point of IVF," Kossow tells People. "It's a rhyming book. The pictures speak a thousand words. I thought I would do this through a child telling the story, instead of having the mom or dad tell the story."

But giving children a better understanding of the IVF process isn't the only goal that motivates Kossow's work. She's also committed to sending an important message about miscarriages to the women who have suffered them.

"It's not your fault. There's nothing you could have done," she says, according to People. "I've come to realize from firsthand experience just how in depth pregnancy is. And how much it truly can be a miracle to carry a baby and to deliver a baby, and have a healthy baby."

This is so important—because families come together in a variety of ways, and all of those ways are viable and worth understanding. Giving families who have come together thanks to IVF this kind of representation is so necessary. And we applaud this mama for taking this step. You can buy I'm Very Ferris here.

News

Car seat safety is understandably an obsession for many parents. We want our children to be as safe as possible so we pay close attention to the recommendations of car seat manufacturers, pediatricians and experts. We make sure our child is in the safest seat and position for their size and when our car seats expire we dutifully dispose of them instead of passing them down to our younger children, friends or charities.

Every parent knows that car seats have expiration dates—but why do they? What studies and tests prompted manufacturers and safety advocates to make this rule?

Could we be throwing away tons of perfectly good car seats?

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Those are the questions that journalist Adam Minter set out to uncover while writing his book, Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale. The answers he got didn't satisfy him, and suggest that car seat expiration dates are more about increasing consumption than increasing protection.

A father himself, Minter was well aware of the fact that car seats have expiration dates when, in the course of reporting for Secondhand, he found himself at a used goods outlet in Tucson where secondhand car seats were being sent over the border to Mexico. Concerned that unsafe car seats may be putting children in other countries in danger, Minter decided to dig into the story—but what he uncovered was the opposite of what he thought he was chasing.

"There is no law prohibiting the sale of secondhand car seats post expiration or before," Minter tells Motherly.

There is no law, Minter learned, because there is nothing proving that age alone makes a car seat unsafe.

Minter reached out to numerous car seat manufacturers and retailers expecting that they would be able to point him to a specific study or testing protocol used to determine when and why car seats expire. But he didn't get a clear answer. Most companies did not reply or declined to comment.

He tells Motherly he was stunned that companies that use expiration dates on their products and marketing were unable to substantiate the claim that car seats degrade to the point of being unsafe after six years of existence.

Neither Minter or Motherly could uncover a specific study that is the basis of this rationale. The United States Highway Transportation Safety Administration says there is no regulation prohibiting parents from using an expired car seat, but on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, parents are advised "The seat has labels stating date of manufacture and model number. You need this information to find out if there is a recall on the car seat or if the seat is too old."

What could happen if a car seat is "too old?" Well, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website does not go into detail, but the Government of Canada's website does.

It states that:

"Manufacturers give an expiry or useful life date because over time:

  • Frequent use and exposure to sunlight can damage and weaken plastic;
  • Safe-use labels on the products fade or become hard to read;
  • Instruction manuals have likely been lost;
  • Food, cleaners, drinks and other materials that have been spilled or used on webbing, buckles, adjusters and other parts may prevent them from working safely;
  • The history or condition of the car seat or booster seat becomes hard to check (was it in a crash, was it stored in a place or in a way that caused damage to parts, etc.?);
  • Safety regulations and standards may have changed, so safer products may now be on the market; and
  • Second or subsequent owners may not get product safety recall notices if problems arise."

There is research to backup the first point. Exposure to sunlight can indeed damage plastic, but neither Minter nor Motherly were able to find any research that specifically looked at car seats, and how the plastic used in them might degrade when subjected to standard use in vehicles.

"We should actually have data available on the relative safety or unsafety of a secondhand car seat that, say sat in a car for 5 years in sunlight and one that's totally new. And yet, if [manufacturers have] done those tests, for whatever reason, they're not willing to disclose them," Minter tells Motherly.

As for the rest of the Canadian list, the reasons listed do not apply to every car seat or situation. A family that is considering reusing their own car seat for a second or third child would know if it has ever been in a collision and how it was stored. The parents would know how often the car seat was cleaned and would either have the instruction manual or access to an online version.

As we've noted, government agencies in the United States and Canada do discourage parents from using expired car seats, and in these countries it is common for used car seats to be shredded or sent to the landfill, expired or not. But in some other countries, the use of used car seats is viewed as perfectly acceptable and is actually encouraged.

Sweden has a remarkably low rate of child fatalities related to vehicles. The country is very seriously trying to reduce the rate to zero, and yet the director of traffic safety and sustainability at the Swedish Transport Administration, Maria Krafft, has publicly stated that used car seats are fine to use.

Krafft put Minter in contact with Professor Anders Kullgren of the Karolinska Institutet and the Chalmers University of Technology, who replied: "We have the same experience in Sweden. Manufacturers of child restraints (and other safety equipment such as bicycle and motorcycle helmets) tell their customers to buy a new product after a certain period of time, often relatively short. We can't see any evidence to justify that from what we have seen in real-world crashes."

Kullgren went on to say that he has access to car seats that are over 20 years old and has not seen any degradation in the plastic.

Bottom line:

In an era when parents are extremely concerned about reducing consumption and carbon footprints, should so many car seats be thrown away, especially when there are parents struggling to afford car seats in the first place?

Perhaps it is time for parents to consider not throwing away or recycling their car seats, but passing them on to another parent. Minter was initially worried about the safety of children when he saw used American seats headed to Mexico, but now he is worried about the saftey of children who would be safer in an inexpensive secondhand seat than none at all.

[Motherly has contacted government agencies, retailers and car seat manufacturers and will update our coverage when more information is available.]

News

Winter is coming, mama. Okay, sorry for the pun, but winter is really coming considering a good chunk of the country is now feeling polar temperatures this week. But don't worry, we've you got covered (literally).

I did extensive research on cozy boots and coats for the upcoming season that are practical and will keep you looking stylish so you don't have to go into an internet frenzy search once the snow hits the ground. I've also included some maternity styles for those of you who are pregnant this winter (like me) and need to keep their bump covered. Plus there are some for the kids, too!

These are the coziest boots and coats our team is buying this winter:

J.Crew Nordic boots

Nordic Boots

I got these when I was pregnant with my first because I was really terrified of slipping on ice, but also wanted to look stylish and let me tell you, they were a hit. That was two seasons ago and mine are still in great shape. Each boot comes with two pairs of shoelaces so you can dress them up or down depending on your mood (and outfit!) They are super warm and look cute with pants or dresses.

$198

Sperry saltwater shiny quilted boots

https://www.zappos.com/p/sperry-saltwater-shiny-quilted-black/product/8899214/color/3

These Sperry boots will have you jumping in puddles with your kids without getting your toes cold. They are fully waterproof, have micro-fleece lining on the inside for extra warmth and a zipper for putting them on and taking them off easily.

$107.90

Garnet Hill kids wool slippers

Baby Boiled Wool Slippers

These wool slippers will keep the tiniest feet around warm and protected. Plus, they come in a variety of fun animals that will keep any baby entertained.

$28

The North Face ThermoBall™ vest

The North Face ThermoBall\u2122 Vest

This vest is ideal for layering on really cold days, as it is super thin but mega warm. It's also great to wear as an outer layer when you go out running since it won't get in your way. Also, it's designed to be packed into one of its pockets, making it great for travel or putting away when the warmer days come our way.

$89.40

J.Crew Chateau parka

Chateau parka in Italian stadium-cloth wool

If you are looking for a pop of color during the dark days, these parkas from J.Crew come in vibrant colorways. They are super warm, stylish and practical—I still haven't found a coat that has better designed pockets as this one. The price is steep but I've had mine for almost four seasons now and it's still in rotation because the quality is so good.

$375

Dr. Martens fur-lined boots

FUR-LINED 2976 LEONORE WYOMING CHELSEA BOOTS

I've been wearing Dr. Martens since I was in high school (not the same pair, but almost) and I cannot speak highly enough about their quality and resistance. These shoes are made to last you forever and endure all types of weather. These are my fave because they are fur-lined inside to keep your toes warm and require no laces to tie, which is ideal when you are super pregnant.

$150

Bog kids boots

Bogs Kids Classic High Waterproof Insulated Rubber Rain and Winter Snow Boot for Boys, Girls and Toddlers, Multiple Color Options

These rubber and neoprene boots will let your kids splash around in all and every puddle without worrying about their feet getting cold and wet. They are also super durable and light so they can be passed on to younger siblings.

$55.39

Kylie metallic hooded puffer coat

Metallic Hooded Puffer Coat

This is a head-turner jacket and I'm obsessed with it. I's water-resistant and comes with thumb holes to make sure the sleeves keep you warm and covered. Plus, it's on sale right now!

$169.99

J.Crew Chateau puffer jacket

Chateau puffer jacket with PrimaLoft\u00ae

This puffer is everything. The colors are bright and cool, the design is amazing and the hood comes lined so you won't need to carry a hat that will definitely mess up your hair and give you static. It's inspired by the wool coat mentioned above, but what's even better about this one is that it's filled with eco-friendly "PrimaLoft," meaning each coat keeps 15 plastic bottles out of oceans and landfills.

$198

Orolay down jacket (the most-wanted jacket on Amazon)

Orolay Women's Thickened Down Jacket

This puffer is a hit on Amazon with more than 7,000 reviews that say it's a 4-star coat. Literally every influencer has had this coat and there is a reason why it's a bestseller every winter. It comes in six cool colors that are easy to dress up or down.

$139.99

Orolay children's hooded down coat

Orolay Children Hooded Down Coat Girls

Plus you can also match with your little ones since Orolay just launched the kids' version of the Insta-famous jacket.

$129.99

Lamo kids classic boot

KIDS CLASSIC BOOT

This is one of Lamo's all-time popular boots. It comes in three neutral colors that are easy to match with any outfit and the exterior is suede, while the interior is soft and comfortable for tiny toes to wiggle in and stay warm.

$57.99

Native shoes lhotse boots

Save the Duck Native Shoes Lhotse Boots

These boots by Native (yes the brand your kids love) are just amazing. They are wind- and water-resistant while also being super duper light and soft. The faux-fur lining keeps toes warm and they don't have laces. Plus, I kind of love how they look like astronaut shoes.

$135

Penfield kirby jacket

https://www.backcountry.com/penfield-kirby-jacket-womens?CMP_SKU=PNF00EP&MER=0406&skid=PNF00EP-BK-M&mr:trackingCode=D6FA3406-FBC0-E811-8107-005056944E17&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=c&mr:adType=plaonline&iv_=__iv_p_1_g_13362760597_c_92885917477_w_pla-578706444955_n_g_d_c_v__l__t__r_1o2_x_pla_y_7811_f_online_o_PNF00EP-BK-M_z_US_i_en_j_578706444955_s__e__h_9004338_ii__vi__&CMP_ID=PLA_GOc001&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PLA&k_clickid=_k_EAIaIQobChMIyNbr2ejn5QIVGm6GCh1uiAsdEAQYAiABEgLUmfD_BwE_k_&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyNbr2ejn5QIVGm6GCh1uiAsdEAQYAiABEgLUmfD_BwE

If you are looking for a jacket that can be worn every day with any outfit, this one is it since black is the easiest color to dress up or down. It's fully insulated for the cold and wet days. The pockets are also fleece lined so no need for gloves (as long as you keep your hands in there!)

$195

Bird Rock Baby moccasins

Confetti Baby Moccasins

These baby moccasins are just the cutest out there. Great for the littlest ones in the family to look stylish with some tights or while hanging out at home playing. There are colors and patterns for everyone's taste and the quality is outstanding.

$25

Elora maxi puffer coat

ELORA Women's Winter Warm Full Length Fleece Lined Maxi Puffer Coat

If you are going for a full coverage look, this long coat is for you. Sure, it looks like a sleeping bag with feet, but there is no denying that you will be warm, cozy and dry while wearing it. Plus, the 5-star rating from 215 other people means that you can't go wrong.

$110

Native shoes johnny treklite

Native Shoes Johnny Treklite

An alternative to the classic Timberlands, these Native Shoes boots come in a super cute light pink to lighten up any outfit you put together. It has a rugged tread to prevent slips and falls while still being comfortable inside.

$94.95

Canada Goose trillium parka

Canada Goose Women's Trillium Parka

If you are looking for a major investment this is the jacket for you. It's made for extreme weathers and will keep you warm and dry regardless of what you are wearing underneath it. It's built to last, I've had mine for over six years now and it's still like brand new.

$950

Timberland jayne waterproof teddy fleece boots

Timberland Jayne Waterproof Teddy Fleece Fold Down

These Timberlands are a more feminine version of the classic and iconic boots. It's fully waterproof, although since it's nobuk I would take super good care of them to keep them looking as pristine as day one. Inside is a soft fleece lining to keep your feet cozy. They can be worn folded down to show off the fleece or rolled up for extra warmth.

$110.07

J.Crew leather mid-calf high-heel boots

https://www.jcrew.com/p/womens_category/shoes/boots/leather-midcalf-highheel-boots/AB109?color_name=black

If you're looking for boots that will dress up any outfit, these leather ones by J.Crew are a total hit. They are comfortable and will pair well with just about anything in your closet.

$298

Patagonia fleece pullover

Re-Tool Snap-T\u00ae Fleece Pullover

This fleece pullover is perfect for layering under a coat in really cold days. The colors are super cute and the brand is known for its great quality so you'll have this for years to come.

$119

Stonz kids boots 

Stonz Scout Scout Cold Weather Snow Boots Super Insulated, Rugged, Lightweight, and Warm (5T-9T)

These boots are awesome for kids all ages because they're easy to put on and take off, keep feet super dry and warm and won't get in the way of playing with the snow. My son loves them!

$69.99

Universal jacket extender

Universal Jacket Extender for Maternity and Baby-carrying, fits MOST zips, black, one-size

If you, like me, don't want to buy a maternity winter coat that you will only wear for a couple of months, you can get this jacket extender that allows your belly to fit in any of your favorite coats without issues. Bonus points for turning any jacket into a suitable one to also baby wear once baby is out in the world.

$99.99

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Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to treat huge variety of ailments and for health promotion purposes. But when you become pregnant, it is essential to know which herbs are safe and which herbs to avoid because whatever we ingest (food-born illness, for example) is shared by the growing baby and that includes herbs.

While most of us think of herbs as remedies for various health concerns, and even to help your fertility, once you become pregnant, if you're still on an herb regimen, it's crucial you consult with your doctor immediately. Studies have found that some herbs may cause miscarriage, premature contractions and birth, and fetal harm.

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While you should discuss all herb and supplement usage with your provider. there are a few herbs that are definite no's.

Here are five herbs to avoid during pregnancy.

1. Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto comes from a small palm tree, native to the eastern U.S., has been used for chronic pelvic pain, bladder disorders, decreased sex drive, hair loss, hormone imbalances, and prostate cancer. The ripe fruit of saw palmetto is used in several forms, including ground and dried fruit or whole berries. It is available as liquid extracts, tablets, capsules, and as an infusion or a tea.

When used orally, saw palmetto contributes to hormonal activity and during pregnancy, a disruption of hormonal balance could result in pregnancy complications.

2. Ephedra

Ephedra is an evergreen shrub-like plant native to central Asia and Mongolia. It also grows in the southwestern U.S. In China, people have used ephedra for centuries to alleviate colds, fever, flu, headaches, asthma, nasal congestion and wheezing.

Outside of short-term weight loss, ephedra's effectiveness is weak, and one known side effect is increased blood sugar levels. During pregnancy, this could lead to gestational diabetes. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

3. Echinacea

There are nine species of Echinacea, all of which are native to North America. Echinacea is used as a dietary supplement for the common cold and other infections with hopes to boost your immune system to more effectively fight the infection or symptoms associated with the infection. Many studies have been done on echinacea and the common cold. The most common side effects of echinacea are digestive tract symptoms, such as nausea or stomach pain.

In addition, in very small amounts, echinacea purpura was noted to have ill effects on the sperm and egg—primarily a reduced ability of sperm to penetrate egg.

4. Black cohosh

Black cohosh is a plant native to North America. Currently, people use black cohosh as a dietary supplement for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. While research and data are extremely limited, black cohosh has also been used to alleviate menstrual cramps and to induce labor. But research suggests that black cohosh may be dangerous for unborn babies. As a result, it is suggested to avoid.

Furthermore, black cohosh should not be confused with blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), which has different effects and is not generally recognized as safe. Black cohosh has sometimes been used with blue cohosh to stimulate labor, but this use was linked to severe adverse effects in at least one newborn.

5. St. John's Wort

St. John's wort has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders and nerve pain. Most recently, it is used as a remedy for depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. In addition to echinacea purpura, St. John's wort at very fractional doses has also been have ill effects on the sperm and egg, and potential genetic mutations which could compromise the health of a pregnancy.

Furthermore, St. John's wort has been noted to decrease the efficacy of birth control pills.

To be clear, the FDA urges pregnant women not to take any herbal products without talking to their health care provider first. Women are also urged to consult a trained and experienced herbalist (or other professional who is trained to work with herbs) if they want to take herbs during their pregnancy.

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