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Why having a conversation about bullying can help keep your kids safe at school

We instinctively want to protect our children from the bad things in this world and while we can't be there all the time, one of the ways we can do just that is to become vocal advocates for comprehensive school safety in our own communities.

Why having a conversation about bullying can help keep your kids safe at school

As parents of young school-age children, we now have to grapple with a topic that we will, unfortunately, need to revisit more than once in the next few years: the question of school safety. There can be emotional anxiety around entrusting our children to complete strangers for hours at a time that has our stomachs in knots but there are steps parents can take to help protect their kids during school.

A survey on school safety shows that nearly 90% of parents admit to feeling at least some level of anxiety regarding the possibility of a school shooting. Perhaps equally unsurprising is the fact that parents have not remained passive in the face of this epidemic of violence. Many have created or joined groups actively working to limit access to weapons and keep them out of our schools.

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So, what else can we do to help reduce the likelihood of violent incidents in our children's schools?

Here are some recommendations:

1. Start a conversation about bullying.

Experts cite bullying, isolation and rejection by one's peers as leading risk factors for school violence. These experts recommend talking to your children—even your preschoolers and kindergartners—about what happens at school, what they should do if they see a child at lunch or recess who is sitting alone or who isn't playing with anyone and what to do if they see a child being bullied. If you're looking for phrases or tips on how to start that conversation, Stop Bullying has some great recommendations.

2. Educate yourself about school safety and security in general and about the specific safety plans and procedures in your children's school.

Find out what is currently being done and what more can be done, both in terms of physical security and safety programs. Parents can urge your school's administration to take extra steps.

For example:

  • Does your child's school lock all exterior doors during the school day?
  • Is there a single, secure, monitored point of entry where visitors must be buzzed in?
  • Are all visitors, volunteers and contractors screened, and are ID badges required to be worn at all times while on campus?

Another thing to consider is if the school regularly conduct safety drills throughout the year. See if there an emergency panic button or silent alarm that can be triggered by the receptionist or secretary, alerting administrators and law enforcement.

Parents can know if there's a comprehensive set of emergency plans coordinated with local law enforcement officials that are regularly reviewed and updated to align with best security practices. If not, ask why not.

3. Actively communicate the importance of school safety to your own kids.

Nearly 80% of respondents to a parent/student school safety survey said they plan to talk to their children about school safety. Be one of them. Help your children understand the need for drills and procedures, both for their own safety and for the safety of their friends.

Keep the conversation positive and use age-appropriate language, especially for younger children, focusing the conversation on "safe" versus "unsafe" is a good approach. For example, with my own children, I point out the purpose of safety practices. The school visitor check-in station is there to ensure every visitor who comes to the school is supposed to be there; the school drills are to ensure that everyone knows how to remain safe if an emergency were to arise.

Talking to younger kids can be challenging, but emphasize the importance of listening carefully and following their teachers' safety directions.

Bottom line

We instinctively want to protect our children from the bad things in this world and while we can't be there all the time, one of the ways we can do just that is to become vocal advocates for comprehensive school safety in our own communities.

Get involved. Familiarize yourself with your school's or district's emergency plans. Ask questions. Work in partnership with school officials to examine school vulnerabilities and put the best safety practices in place. Take the time to talk with your own children. Help them see that, just as you have a plan to keep them safe at home, you and they will work with everyone to keep their school—their home away from home—just as safe.

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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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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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