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By Diana Divecha

In the months leading up to birth, a pregnant woman begins to read about childrearing, including a book called Attachment Parenting by pediatrician William Sears and registered nurse Martha Sears. They advocate for a collection of seven practices they call the Baby Bs: "birth bonding, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, bedding close to the baby, belief in the baby's cry, balance and boundaries, and beware of baby trainers."

The pregnant woman finds their ideas compelling, and so decides to embrace this style of "attachment parenting." But nothing goes according to plan. She begins delivery at home with a midwife, but when the labor doesn't proceed, she's taken to the hospital and given a Caesarean section.

Influenced by Attachment Parenting, she worries that she has missed a critical bonding experience with her baby. Six weeks later, the mother develops a severe breast infection and reluctantly switches to formula. "Make sure you find some other way to bond with your baby," her pediatrician cautions, adding to her distress. At night, the mother pulls the baby from his crib into her bed—even though it makes the baby cry.

Pretty soon, no one is happy—and the new mother wonders if her child is on the road to insecurity and anxiety.

All of these experiences are real; they've happened to mothers I know. And as a developmental psychologist, I know this tension between the ideal and the reality is based on a misunderstanding. Home birth, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping all have benefits—but none of them is related to a baby's secure attachment with her caregiver, nor are they predictive of a baby's future mental health and development.

Simply put, a secure attachment—which does lead to positive child outcomes—is not the same thing as the philosophy called attachment parenting.

What is the scientific view of attachment?

The term attachment parenting was coined by Sears and Sears to refer to a parenting approach that emphasizes responding sensitively to the needs of babies and children. Many of their ideas come from parenting their own eight children, as well as from their pediatric practice; some are from anthropologists' observations of indigenous childrearing practices (thought to be more "natural"); and some (like emotional responsiveness) are consistent with research findings.

Many parents, myself included, have welcomed the Sears' guidance for creating warm, loving relationships, especially in contrast to earlier parenting approaches that were more strict, cold, or distant.

The implication, though—liberally strewn throughout the Sears' writing and the precepts of the related international attachment parenting movement—is that the Baby Bs lead to a secure attachment, which is a specific psychological concept based on 60 years of research. Here we come to the problem: their use of the word attachment and the confusion it creates with the scientific notion of attachment theory.

Attachment theory has its roots in the work of an English psychiatrist, John Bowlby, who in the 1930s worked with children with emotional problems. He noticed that the troubled children in his care were deprived of affection and had disturbed or nonexistent caregiving. He came to believe that a primary caregiver served as a kind of "psychic organizer" to the child, and that the child needed this warm, intimate influence to develop successfully.

According to Bowlby, babies form a "small hierarchy of attachments": The number has to be small for the baby to learn relevant emotional information, but multiples offer the safety of backups. And it's a hierarchy for safety, too—in danger, there's no time to think, so the baby can automatically turn to the person already determined to be the reliable comfort.

In the 1950s, Mary Ainsworth joined Bowlby in England. A decade later, back in the United States, she began to diagnose different kinds of relationship patterns between children and their mothers in the second year of life, based on how babies respond to separations and reunions. When babies have a secure attachment, they play and explore freely from the "secure base" of their mother's presence. When the mother leaves, the baby often becomes distressed, especially when a stranger is nearby. When the mother returns, the baby expresses joy, sometimes from a distance and sometimes reaching to be picked up and held. (Babies vary, depending on their personality and temperament, even within a secure attachment).

Though early researchers studied mothers, current research shows that fathers, co-parents, grandparents, babysitters, and even older siblings can be significant attachment figures. Caregivers who foster a secure attachment are responsive, warm, loving, and emotionally available, and as a result babies grow to be confident in the caregiver's ability to handle feelings. The babies feel free to express their positive and negative feelings openly and don't develop defenses against the unpleasant ones.

Why the confusion about a secure attachment?

The Sears' idea of attachment parenting is not well defined—and certainly has not been scientifically linked to a secure attachment outcome. And this confusion can sow guilt, worry, and misdirection in parents, who (understandably) are not aware of the distinction.

"Attachment [in the scientific sense] is a relationship in the service of a baby's emotion regulation and exploration," explains Alan Sroufe, a developmental psychologist at the Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota, where he and his colleagues have studied the attachment relationship for over 40 years. "It is the deep, abiding confidence a baby has in the availability and responsiveness of the caregiver."

A secure attachment has at least three functions:

  • Provides a sense of safety and security
  • Regulates emotions by soothing distress, creating joy, and supporting calm
  • Offers a secure base from which to explore

"Attachment is not a set of tricks," continues Sroufe. "These [attachment parenting principles] are all fine things, but they're not the essential things. There is no evidence that they are predictive of a secure attachment."

Take breastfeeding, for example, touted as key to attachment parenting. Mechanical and insensitive breastfeeding could actually contribute to an insecure attachment, while warm, sensitive, interactive bottle-feeding could help create a secure attachment. It's not the method of feeding but the quality of the interaction that matters for attachment, says Sroufe.

Constant contact, too, can be misunderstood. Certainly, skin-to-skin contact, close physical touch, holding, and carrying are good for infants and can even reduce crying. But again, what matters for attachment is the caregiver's attunement. Are they stressed or calm? Checked out or engaged? Are they reading the baby's signals?

Attachment parenting advises emotional responsiveness, and this practice aligns best with scientific attachment theory. Babies grow best when their feelings are taken seriously. But well-meaning parents can overdo it, believing they need to meet the child's every request, which can be exhausting and counterproductive. In contrast, research on secure attachments shows that, in the flow of everyday life, misattunements happen about 70 percent of the time!

What is important, researchers say, is that the baby develops a generalized trust that their caregiver will respond and meet their needs, or that when mismatches occur, the caregiver will repair them. This flow of attunements, mismatches, and repairs offers the optimal amount of connection and stress for a baby to develop both confidence and coping skills.

"There's a difference between a 'tight' connection and a secure attachment," Sroufe explains. "A tight attachment—together all the time—might actually be an anxious attachment."

The neurobiology of attachment

"Attachment theory is essentially a theory of regulation," explains Allan Schore, a developmental neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

The areas of the brain that process emotional and social information begin to differentiate in the last trimester in-utero (whereas the more "intellectual" regions pick up in the second year of life). By birth, the amygdala, hypothalamus, insula, cingulate cortex, and orbitofrontal cortex—regions important for emotion processing—are present, but the connections among these areas develop in specific patterns over the first years of life. That's where input from the primary relationship is crucial, organizing the hierarchical circuitry that will process, communicate, and regulate social and emotional information. Synaptic connections are pruned, and epigenetic processes modify the expression of genes that regulate stress, depending on input from the environment.

Parents use their own empathy, perspective taking, inference, and intuition to discern the needs of the baby. And the behaviors that parents are inclined to do naturally, like eye contact and face-to-face interaction, baby-talking and holding, are exactly the ones shown to grow the neural regions in the baby that influence emotional life. It is through a "right-brain-to-right-brain" reading of each other that the parent and child synchronize their energy, emotions, and communication.

"What a primary caregiver is doing, in being with the child," explains Schore, "is allowing the child to feel and identify in his own body these different emotional states. By having a caregiver simply 'be with' him while he feels emotions and has experiences, the baby learns how to be," Schore says.

And it's not just about regulating stress. Supporting positive emotional states is equally important to creating a "background state of well-being." If the caregiver's emotions are too high, the stimulation could be intrusive to the baby, Schore explains. Too low, and the baby's "background state" settles at a low or possibly depressive emotional baseline. Just right, from the baby's point of view, is best.

Even then, there's a lot of leeway. As Schore says:

Insecure attachments aren't created just by a caregiver's inattention or missteps. They also come from a failure to repair ruptures. Maybe the caregiver is coming in too fast and needs to back off, or maybe the caregiver hasn't responded and needs to show the baby that she's there. Either way, repair is possible, and it works. Stress is a part of life, and what we're trying to do here is to set up a system by which the baby can learn how to cope with stress.

How important is attachment?

"Nothing is more important than the attachment relationship," says Sroufe, who, together with colleagues, ran a series of landmark studies to discover the long-term impact of a secure attachment.

Over a 35-year period, the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (MLSRA) revealed that the quality of the early attachment reverberated well into later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, even when temperament and social class were accounted for.

One of the most important (and paradoxical) findings was that a secure attachment early in life led to greater independence later, whereas an insecure attachment led children to be more dependent later in life.

The MLSRA studies showed that children with a secure attachment history were more likely to develop:

  • A greater sense of self-agency
  • Better emotional regulation
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Better coping under stress
  • Closer friendships in middle childhood
  • Better coordination of friendships and social groups in adolescence
  • More trusting and positive romantic relationships in adulthood
  • Greater social competence
  • More leadership qualities
  • Happier and better relationships with parents and siblings

But attachment is not destiny; it depends on what else comes along. A poor start in life, for example, can be repaired in a subsequent relationship with a good mentor, a healthy romance, or constructive therapy.

As for my new-mother friends, they're bonding successfully with their babies, welcoming and enjoying the moments when connection happens. And if you're concerned about bonding with your own baby, rest assured that you'll have some help—from your baby. Because regardless of their individual personalities—whether they cry a lot or sleep very little, whether they're breastfed or bottle-fed—babies invite adults in with their wide-open gaze, their milky scent, and their tiny fingers that curl around your big ones. They let you know what they need.

Before you know it, they are lighting you up with their full-body smiles and pulling you close with their plump, soft arms. And the sweet elixir of attachment is underway.

Originally posted on Greater Good.

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Easter meals bring the family together in ways that few other meals can. Spring is finally in the air and the feeling of new beginnings and hope is all around. But we know it can be hard to find the time to make delicious meals, and even harder to find recipes your little bunnies will agree to eat.

But fear not, mama! We've searched around the internet and found some of the easiest, most delicious and, yes, kid-friendly recipes out there that will take your entire family from morning until night. So happy cooking and happy Easter!

Here are our 13 favorite easy + kid-friendly recipes:

1. Easter bunny waffles

easter_waffles

Fork and Beans

Waking up on Easter morning is a pretty magical experience as a kid. Add to the fun with these adorable, easy and actually kind of healthy waffles!

Ingredients:

  • frozen waffles
  • strawberries, sliced, for the ear, mouth and bow tie
  • banana slices, for the eyes
  • blueberries, for the eyes
  • raspberries, for the nose
  • shredded carrots, for the whiskers

Instructions:

1. Toast 3 waffles.

2. Slice one waffle in half and use it for the ears. Slice another waffle in half and use one part for the shoulders and then cut out two circles for the cheeks.

3. Add the strawberry slices and place them on top of the ears to fill in.

4. Assemble the face and bow tie.

Recipe from Fork and Beans

Baked French toast

french_toast

The Pioneer Woman

Breakfast meets casserole in this delicious make-ahead dish. It's perfect for prepping the night before a busy day, especially if you have overnight guests.

Ingredients:

French toast

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 1 loaf crusty sourdough Or French Bread
  • 8 whole Eggs
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
  • warm syrup, for serving
  • butter, for serving
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, for serving

Instructions:

1. For the French toast: Grease the baking pan with butter. Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Crack the eggs in a big bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store it in the fridge until needed (overnight, preferably). Or you can make it and bake it right away—it's delicious no matter what!

2. For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and some nutmeg in a separate bowl. Stir together using a fork. Add the butter and with a pastry cutter, and mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

3. When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour-plus or more for a firmer, crisper texture.

4. Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with warm pancake syrup and sprinkle with blueberries.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

Hashbrown egg cups

hashbrown_eggs

Life Made Simple

If you're craving something savory, these hashbrown egg cups will absolutely hit the spot. Just consider leaving out the cayenne for those littler taste-buds.

Ingredients:

  • 20 ounces refrigerated hash browns
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk or half and half
  • 4 sliced cooked bacon, crumbled
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Generously spray a standard size muffin tin pan with baking spray, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the hash browns, 1/2 cup cheese, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Press the mixture into the bottom, creating a nest.
  3. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, eggs, milk, and bacon. Pour into the baked hash browns, then return to the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes or until fully set.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before removing.
  6. Garnish with a pinch of salt and pepper and freshly chopped parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Life Made Simpleife Made Simple

Cucumber sandwiches

cucumber_sandwiches

Cherished Bliss

If your littles will be off hunting eggs, these quick and easy to grab sandwiches will be just what they need to keep them going.

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of extra thin sliced bread
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ of an English cucumber
  • 3 tbsp finely shredded carrots
  • ½ tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp garlic and herb seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. With a bunny and Easter egg cookie cutter, cut out an equal amount of bread for each sandwich and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, add cream cheese, shredded carrots, fresh chopped chives, fresh chopped parsley, and seasonings.
  3. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  4. Cut an English cucumber in half and slice thin slices of your desired amount of cucumbers.
  5. Spread the carrot and herb cream cheese on both sides of a sandwich. When spreading the carrot and herb cream cheese on don't forget to do the mirror side of the bunny.
  6. Place your desired amount of cucumber slices on each sandwich and top with the other the matching bread cut out.

Recipe from Cherished Bliss

Ham and cheese crescents

crescents

Six Sisters' Stuff

This is the perfect recipe for a busy lunch. It only has three ingredients, and is so yummy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 16 deli ham slices (you can use carved ham leftovers)
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Separate dough into 8 equal pieces (they usually separate into triangles).
  3. Place 2 slices of ham and 1 slice of cheese (folded in half) on the larger end of the triangle.
  4. Roll the crescent up with the ham and cheese inside, and place it tip side down on a baking sheet (you can use a baking mat, or line it with aluminum foil for easy clean-up, too).
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
  6. Serve warm.

Recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff

Bunny veggie dip

bunny_dip

The Nesting Corral

Eating veggies has never been so fun… or cute!

Ingredients:

  • Bread loaf

Dip:

  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 package Knorr Vegetable recipe mix
  • 1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and chopped

Veggies for dipping:

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • celery sticks
  • bell peppers
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower

Decorations:

  • olives

Instructions:

1. Combine all ingredients and chill for about 2 hours.

2. Carefully cut out a circle from the top of the bread loaf for the bunny's head. Then, cut the opening bigger so that dipping was accessible.

3. Using your hands, hollow out the rest of the shepherd loaf so that it can hold the spinach dip. Save the chunks of bread that you pull out for chowing down on with your dip.

4. Cut the two ends off of a baguette and situated them as the bunny's ears.

5. For the face, used black olives cut in half as the eyes, and quarter a half of a black olive to make the nose.

6. Make the whiskers from thin strips of celery, and the mouth is a cross section piece of celery. Put a little dip on the back of each of the facial features to keep it adhered to the bread.

7. Pour the dip into the bread bowl, arrange the veggies, and serve.

Recipe from Nesting Coral

English muffin bunny pizza

english_muffin

Kid Friendly Things to Do

These little bunny pizzas are perfect for serving your kids while the grown-ups eat their fancier dinner (though we totally get it if the grown-ups decide they just want to eat these, too).

Ingredients:

  • English muffins
  • Pizza sauce (jarred is great)
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella shredded cheese
  • 2 black olive pearls, sliced olives
  • 1 piece of sliced pepperoni
  • 1 stick of mozzarella string cheese
  • 1 breadstick

Instructions:

  • Spread some pizza sauce onto the English muffin (a few tbsp should be enough).
  • Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the sauce.
  • Add 2 sliced olives for eyes.
  • Cut the piece of pepperoni into 1/4 pieces and position a piece for the nose.
  • Bake the breadstick according to the package directions.
  • Bake the pizza at 425 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is turning a little golden on the ends.
  • When the breadstick and pizza are done, slice the breadstick in half.
  • Grab a plate and place the pizza in the middle, add the halved breadsticks for your bunny ears.
  • Pull some pieces of mozzarella off of the string cheese to make whiskers and serve

Recipe from Kid Friendly Things To Do

Instant Pot leg of lamb

leg_lamb

Simply Happy Foodie

Is there anything the Instant Pot can't do? The answer is a definitive no—including the fact that it can make your Easter dinner a complete (and easy) win.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cloves garlic, divided
  • 4 lbs boneless leg of lamb (or bone-in)
  • 3 tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar

(Optional) to thicken, mix together:

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Instructions:

  1. Slice 4 of the garlic cloves lengthwise. Pierce the lamb in several places and push the garlic slivers into the cuts. Then sprinkle 2 of the tsp of salt and the pepper over the entire roast.
  2. If the roast is coming apart from the bone being removed, tie it together with butcher's string.
  3. Turn on the pot's sauté setting. Wait for it to get hot, then add the olive oil. Place the lamb roast in the pot and let it brown for several minutes. Then turn it over and brown the other side. Remove it to a plate.
  4. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot, using a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the wine and continue to cook, still scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot (called deglazing).
  6. Add the rosemary and thyme sprigs, remaining teaspoon of salt, remaining clove of garlic (minced), chicken broth, and the red wine vinegar. Stir well. Then turn off the sauté setting.
  7. Add the lamb roast back into the pot.
  8. Press the pressure cook/manual button or dial. Then press the +/- button or dial to select 70 minutes (20-30 minutes for a rare roast). For a bone-in roast, select 85 minutes. This will yield a nicely fork-tender leg of lamb. If your roast is larger than 4 lbs, increase the time by 5 minutes.
  9. The pot will take a few minutes to come to pressure. When the cook time ends, let the pot sit undisturbed for 20 minutes (20-minute natural release, 10 minutes for a rare roast). Then turn the steam release knob to the Venting position to manually release any remaining pressure/steam. Turn off the pot.
  10. When the pin in the lid drops back down, open the lid. Carefully remove the roast to a platter and cover. Remove the herb stems from the pot.
  11. Skim the fat off the top of the liquid in the pot, or use a fat separator to defat the liquid.
  12. OPTIONAL: Return the liquid to the pot and turn on the sauté setting. Mix up a slurry of 1 tbsp cornstarch to 2 tbsp cold water. When the liquid is simmering, whisk in the slurry and stir until it thickens.
  13. Serve the roast sliced, with some of the defatted sauce over it.

Recipe from Simply Happy Foodie

Slow cooker ham with brown sugar glaze

ham

This Delicious House

Ham is, perhaps, the most quintessential of Easter meal choices. And with the ease of a crockpot, this recipe will become your go-to favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless ham
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Remove ham from packaging and place in a slow cooker set at low heat.
  2. Make the glaze by combining the brown sugar, dijon, and vinegar in a small bowl. Pour over the ham. Cook ham at low heat for 5-7 hours or until thermometer reads 140 degrees F.

Recipe from This Delicious House

Brown butter garlic honey-roasted carrots

carrots

Rasa Malaysia

These carrots are so good you won't have to convince them to eat their veggies before dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 dashes ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme or parsley

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Heat an oven-safe skillet and cook the butter on medium heat until it starts to form and turn into golden brown. Add the garlic and quickly saute before adding the carrots. Stir a few times, then add the salt, black pepper, honey and thyme or parsley.
  3. Transfer the skillet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the carrots become tender. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Rasa Malaysia

Birds nest cookies

birds_nest

Dinner at the Zoo

These no-bake treats are the perfect easy Easter dessert (and oh-so-cute)!

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces butterscotch chips
  • 12 ounces chow mein noodles
  • 36 candy eggs

Instructions:

  1. Place the milk chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a large bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments until melted. Stir until smooth.
  2. Add the chow mein noodles to the bowl and toss until coated in the chocolate mixture.
  3. Spoon 2 tbsp of the cookie mixture onto a piece of parchment and shape into a nest; top with 3 candy eggs. Repeat the process with the remaining cookie mixture and eggs.
  4. Let nests set until firm, then serve. These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Recipe from Dinner at the Zoo

.

Easter egg fruit pizza

fruit_pizza

Persnickety Plates

For a dessert that is delicious and healthy, this Easter egg fruit pizza checks off all the boxes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package sugar cookie mix (1 lb 1.5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted & cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup strawberries chopped
  • 3 cups fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) sliced

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 13″ pizza pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the cookie mix, melted butter, and egg and mix with a spoon until a soft dough forms.
  3. Press the dough evenly onto the pan.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool completely, about 45 minutes. Cut into an egg shape (I just used a butter knife).
  5. In a food processor or blender, add the softened cream cheese, ½ cup chopped strawberries, powdered sugar, and vanilla and pulse until fully combined and smooth.
  6. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the cooled cookie.
  7. Decorate with the cut-up fruit.
  8. Slice with a pizza cutter and serve.

Recipe from Persnickety Plates

Easter chocolate lasagna

chocolate_lasagna

Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts

There's really no explanation needed here. It's chocolate layered with more chocolate. Done.

Ingredients:

Oreo crust:

  • 36 Oreo cookies
  • ½ cup unsalted butter-melted

Cream cheese layer:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter-softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Cool Whip

Chocolate pudding layer:

  • 2 (3.9 oz.) packages chocolate instant pudding
  • 2 and 3/4 cups cold milk

Topping:

  • 2 cups Cool Whip
  • 1 ½ cups crushed Oreo
  • Peeps bunnies, Easter egg candies, and other fun toppings

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, finely crush Oreo cookies into fine crumbs. If you don't have food processor, place Oreo cookies into ziplock bag and crush the cookies with a rolling pin.
  2. Using a fork mix crushed Oreo with melted butter, then press the mixture into the bottom of 9 x 13 inches dish. Place in the fridge to firm.
  3. Beat cream cheese, softened butter, sugar and vanilla until it's light and creamy. Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip. Spread the mixture over the crust and place in the fridge.
  4. In a medium bowl mix chocolate instant pudding with 2 and 3/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for a few minutes until the pudding starts thickening. Spread the pudding over the cream cheese layer. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  5. Spread 2 cups Cool Whip on top and sprinkle with crushed Oreo. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
  6. Garnish with Peeps and Easter egg candies.

Recipe from Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts.

Lifestyle

According to the nation's top health officials, staying at home is vital to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

That's why on Sunday, President Trump informed America that the federal recommendations encouraging people to stay home are being extended to April 30 and will not be lifted by Easter (April 12) as was previously thought.

"Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won," Trump said at a press conference Sunday evening.

Speaking on CNN's State of the Union hours before the President's announcement, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained why it's so hard to make timelines where COVID-19 is concerned.

FEATURED VIDEO

"As I have said before, it's true the virus itself determines that timetable. You can try and influence that timetable by mitigating against the virus, but, ultimately, it's what the virus does," he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every facet of daily life, and we know it is hard, mama.

It is hard to tell kids they can't have a birthday party.

It is hard when your birth plans change.

It is hard to stay home when all you want to do is hug your best friend, sister or mom.

It is hard to co-parent when your kids can't go between houses.

It is hard when the paycheck your family depends on doesn't come.

It is hard to be at home with a newborn when your support system can't be there for you.

It is hard to separate from your children while working in health care to save lives.

It is hard to parent children when you have COVID-19 yourself.

And it is so, so hard to watch loved ones get sick with a virus that has the potential to take lives.

This is hard, but we're in this together. Until April 30 or beyond.

If you're pregnant, Motherly has made our Becoming Mama™ Online Birth Class free in response to COVID-19.

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The fight against the coronavirus in the U.S. reached a heartbreaking milestone this weekend as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the death of an infant in his state believed to be caused by COVID-19.

"I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child. Upon hearing it, I admit, I was immediately shaken, and it's appropriate for any of us to grieve today," Pritzker, a father of two, said at a news conference Saturday.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike also spoke, telling reporters, "There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death."

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Officials have not said how old this baby was or what their health was like before contracting COVID-19 but we do know that the youngest baby to die in China did have a preexisting condition.

Still, health officials are asking parents of children without pre-existing conditions to take the recommendations on physical distancing seriously.

While preliminary research suggests that children with COVID-19 usually don't get as sick as adults, the youngest age groups—infants and preschoolers—see more severe cases than older kids do. According to a new study posted online pre-publication by the journal Pediatrics, babies and preschoolers can become severely ill if they get COVID-19, and this case in Illinois certainly proves it.

At the presser in Illinois, Dr. Ezike asked everyone, parents and non-parents alike, to follow the recommendations and stay home.

"We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us, Ezike said.

News

Earlier this week Motherly reported that multiple hospitals in New York City were asking birth partners to stay home during coronavirus pandemic, which meant people were having to give birth without the support of their partner or birth companion.

Banning birth partners and companions from delivery wards contradicts the World Health Organization's position on childbirth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO states that mothers have the right to have their companion of choice present during the birth—and this weekend New York state's Gov. Andrew Cuomo recognized that, too.

On Saturday Cuomo's office announced an executive order in progress aimed at ensuring "women will not be forced to be alone when they are giving birth," according to Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa.

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This follows a New York Department of Health Advisory issued Friday which clarifies visitation policies and " requires hospitals to allow one support person in labor and delivery settings if the patient so desires."

The advisory lays it out clearly: "For labor and delivery, the Department considers one support person essential to patient care throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. This person can be the patient's spouse, partner, sibling, doula, or another person they choose. In these settings, this person will be the only support person allowed to be present during the patient's care. This restriction must be explained to the patient in plain terms, upon arrival or, ideally, prior to arriving at the hospital. Hospital staff should ensure that patients fully understand this restriction, allowing them to decide who they wish to identify as their support person."

This comes as a relief to those who were petitioning for partners and companions to be allowed during delivery, and after a change.org petition demanding that attracted 613,678 signatures.

"I cannot express my gratitude to everyone that signed and shared this petition over the last week. To those of you that went further and tweeted, wrote letters, made calls, spoke to the press: I am forever grateful," New York City doula Jess Pournaras (who organized the petition) wrote Saturday.

Pournaras continues: "Together, we gained international attention and safeguarded the right of pregnant people in New York City to not have to give birth alone or parent alone. We set a critical precedent that should help to ensure the rights of pregnant people everywhere to have support in the hospital."

The WHO makes it clear: Pregnant people have the right to support during birth, even in a pandemic.

News

I have been pregnant for 245 days, and in the past 12 of those, everything I have come to know about how this baby will enter the world is on the chopping block.

It began when I walked into a lab three weeks ago to do an elective urine test to keep an eye on my proteins. It was two days before things became unglued in California due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and when I walked into the lab everyone was wearing masks and gloves. The woman at the counter pointed to the iPad to sign in.

"I'd rather not," I said hesitatingly, not wanting to touch the screen. "I just need to pick up a jug to pee in."

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As I waited for the lab to supply the jug, a man walked through the door with sad and frantic eyes. He went on to plead, "I see on the door it says that you guys don't have the tests and not to come in if you're not well... but I think I have it. I need the COVID-19 test and my doctor told me to find a place to do it. I don't know where to go!"

My stomach dropped and I instantly recoiled, feeling immediately vulnerable. I was standing there, not only pregnant but also with my child. I grabbed my daughter's hand, scared of the world in a way I hadn't ever been before.

Get me out of this room! I made a sharp turn for the door and went straight home. I haven't been out to a medical appointment since that day, and my whole paradigm changed at that lab.

California went on lockdown two days later. And with these snowballing changes, I began questioning what a birth at a medical facility would look like as thousands of people—sick people and healthcare workers—get hit by this pandemic in a place without enough resources to help them out.

There is no short supply of unsettling tales to lose yourself in. I have heard stories of mothers in Seattle giving birth in hallways because there are no beds left. There have been many stories of overcrowding due to the influx of COVID-19 patients. I've read accounts of women in New York being told they must deliver their babies without even one support person or partner in the room in an attempt to keep visitor numbers down and protect undersupplied hospital staff.

These stories replay in my mind as I float through day after day in quarantine at home with my 2-year-old daughter. "Can I kiss baby sister?" she asks innocently.

"Ohhh! Yes, baby," I reply to her as I snap out of my thoughts and into my current reality, smiling at her sweet face.

I am living in a world of two extremes. On one hand, it is intoxicatingly beautiful—we have been "forced" into slow quality family time with one another. But we're also living in anxiety about the fear around us. Thousands of people will need hospital care in California and I can't help but wonder how this will affect my baby's birth.

So this begs the questions I believe we must all ask of ourselves: What do I have control over at this time? What will my takeaways be when I look back and reflect on how these pages of my life were written? What are the things I find the most valuable and how do I retain those things so when I look back at how this all played out, I will still be in awe of the beauty within chaos?

For me, this experience has led me to deeply consider the idea of having our daughter at home as long as that is a safe option for me. After much research, I have found a midwife I trust. I have also started looking into my insurance options and playing out worst-case scenarios knowing that decision time will soon be upon me.

This change means facing my fears about pushing a baby out without the safety net of already being in the hospital should an emergency occur. This challenge means believing in myself, my baby and my midwife to work together in order to do something I feel I was made to do. This new potential birth plan means casting aside worried friends' and my OBGYN's judgments about my having a homebirth and instead, confidently believe in my own decision—should it be the one I make.

But quite candidly, deciding to "follow my mom gut" has been an exciting and freeing feeling from the stress of this pandemic. The idea of walking freely in my backyard while in labor, potentially sleeping in my bed the night of delivery and importantly, holding my husband's hand throughout the birth of our last baby gives me romantic feelings for a reason.

We enter this ocean of motherhood accepting an atmosphere of imperfection and uncertainty. Very quickly after giving birth, our bodies and natural instincts remind us that the world doesn't always feel safe enough for our perfect little babies. Our minds paddle over small waves of fear like surfers going out to sea—distracted drivers, chemical pollutants, too much screen time—we let the water break over our heads, emerging in the valleys of the waves. We see the beautiful break in the water in front of us and forgive ourselves for the fear, as our hair has become wet and our skin a little more wrinkly and sunkissed.

Our children are the future in front of us. We mothers are propelled to move forward and past fears by our innate love for them. When looking at the big picture in front of me—delivering a child at this very scary time—I am finding it more important than ever to remember I am still pointing towards my own destiny, no matter what decision I make.

Life
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