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It's flu season—and it's okay to tell people not to kiss your baby

You are not wrong for wanting to protect your baby.

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Hey there, mama-in-the-midst-of-sick-season,

This time of year is so tough. The weather can make it hard to leave your house, especially with a little kid (cue cabin fever). The short, dark days can have a very real impact on your mood (psst: seasonal affective disorder is common—read about it here).

And, perhaps most stressful of all, there is the constant threat of illness invading your homes. If you have a baby or small child, the seemingly never-ending stream of headlines about the latest RSV and coronavirus outbreaks is daunting, to say the least.

You may find that you are on edge all the time. You're washing your hands repeatedly, continuously wiping down surfaces (and your baby), and probably very reluctant to risk exposing your child to any germs.

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Mama, I am writing to you as a medical provider and a mother: You are not wrong for wanting to protect your baby.

I'll admit, it's a little ridiculous that I need to say this. But the truth is that many parents are faced with backlash when they take steps toward preventing illness transmission to their children.

The crestfallen relative who can't understand why you won't let them kiss your newborn "after they traveled for so long to get here."

The friend who is annoyed when you cancel a playdate because their child has "had a little cough, but it's probably fine."

The "you're making too big a deal of this" comments from in-laws when you decide that you just don't feel comfortable taking your infant on a plane right now.

Our society does not make it easy for new parents to stand up for themselves and their children. But that's exactly what you are doing in spite of it—and that is no small accomplishment.

Mama, you are in the right here.

First, newborns and small children don't have super strong immune systems yet. It takes several months for a baby's immune system to fully "kick-in" and then they are still learning how to fight off infections. Plus, their little bodies are sensitive—a virus that presents as a little cold in an adult can be a bigger deal for babies.

You are wise for wanting to avoid illness when possible.

Now, I do want to add a caveat here: We simply cannot prevent all illnesses and most babies who get sick end up being fine.

I don't want you to hole yourself up out of fear completely—because remember, your holistic well-being matters, too. It is important for you to socialize (when you want to) and get out of the house (also when you want to).

Here's my advice: Talk to your pediatrician. Let them know what your concerns are, and with everything they know about your baby's medical history and the current infection trends in your area, they can help you come up with a plan that feels reasonable and safe.

The other fundamental issue at work here is that when people give you backlash for decisions you have made as a parent, they are undermining your parental intuition. They are telling you that the inner-wisdom and expert-level understanding you possess about your child and family is wrong.

And that is unacceptable.

You are your baby's expert.

Yes, you should absolutely consult with your pediatrician and any other expert you see fit. And yes, you should read new studies when they come out (if you want to) and Google things that are concerning to you. And yes you can even go ahead and solicit the advice of family members and friends if it feels right.

But at the end of the day (or middle of the night), give yourself permission to tune out all the noise—there's a lot of it—and key into the one voice that actually matters: your own.

If that voice is telling you to lay low during a flu outbreak, go ahead and listen. That voice belongs to a fabulously smart and strong mother.

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

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

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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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