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Road tripping with young children can seem daunting, but I actually rather enjoy it. We love to watch the country change outside our windows. We love to play games and eat snacks. And most of all, we love how car traveling is so much less stressful than air travel.

We set out from New York City to our new/old Denver home, with plenty of stops in between. And while this is not our first road trip with children, it will be the longest. I don’t like a lot of clutter in the car, but I also don’t want my girls to spend the ride with an iPad in front of their faces. So here’s 9 of our tried-and-true ideas for a cross-country trip.

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  1. Create your own reward system. A road trip is a good exercise in learning patience. In an effort to help my two toddlers manage their restlessness, and to preserve the specialness of the activities I provide, I only hand out activities, snacks, or prizes at specific times. I’ve heard some moms do this once an hour or after so many miles; we set personal markers: “After you’ve played on your own for 30 minutes…” or ““When Daddy stops to put gas in the car…” This gives them something tangible to look forward to without making me responsible for the time in between. It works like a rewards system and gives us some structure in what otherwise could be a free-for-all.
  2. Pack your bag! My girls think that packing their own backpacks for the car is the greatest. It used to drive me nuts. But then I realized that their taking ownership made their decisions important later on. Perhaps I don’t find the pony with no hair left to be exciting road trip entertainment, but they chose it and so it was interesting once we hit the road. Ordinarily, they can’t wait to dive into their backpacks, and so whatever they bring entertains for at least the first hour (which can sometimes be the trickiest before interstate hypnosis sets in).
  3. The secret of the book basket. A few weeks before a trip, I will collect some of the girls’ favorite books into a medium wire basket and set them up high on a shelf. The basket easily wedges in between their carseats, where they can reach for a book at will. They’re pretty good about enjoying the same books over and over anyway; but having them out of sight and out of mind for a short time before the trip garners even more excitement for reading in the car.
  4. Skip the coloring books! It’s all about printables. I used to buy a brand new coloring book before any trip. Until once, when I couldn’t make it to Target in time, I printed off some coloring pages a la Google images in a pinch. I bought two clipboards at the dollar store (because I think those carseat desks are cumbersome) and I can keep loose coloring pages in a folder up front with me and distribute at will.
  5. There’s nothing like new crayons. You remember what it was like to open up a brand new carton of Crayolas? Something about the newness and the smell makes an average everyday activity a lot more interesting. To help contain, I immediately ditch the cardboard boxes and load the crayons into these cute tins.
  6. Two-for-one: String candy necklaces. My youngest can get carsick now and then, so sometimes she needs to take a break from words, images, and paper. Plus, we all know one of the most tempting road trip pastimes is snacking, but with kids you’ve got to do it in moderation. Before we take a trip, I’ll cut a length of yarn, tie a loop at one end, wrap the other in masking tape, and toss it into a bag with a handful or two of fruit loops. It takes time to thread your own necklace, especially when you have chunky toddler hands; and once the task is done, the kids think it’s great fun to eat their work. (Especially exciting when Mom doesn’t normally let you have sugary cereals.)
  7. Stretch your definition of storytelling. Maybe it’s being a writer, but I firmly believe my kids should be able to entertain themselves on imagination alone. Of course, littles need help sometimes, and so in our car we make storytelling go a long way. Sometimes, the girls will read books on their own. Other times, we will listen to audiobooks. Sometimes the girls will use finger puppets to act out the story. I also like to encourage them to tell their own stories. They love to make silly things up, but these sets also make for the cutest prompts.
  8. Create a scavenger hunt. Shortly after becoming a mother of two, my oldest got incredibly sick in the middle of winter. In an effort to beat our Cabin Fever, I doodled a few things on to a piece of paper: a house, a tree, a cloud, a dog, a taxi. Then we went out for errands. “When you see these things, point it out to your baby sister and then scribble over it with a crayon to mark it out.” Now these car scavenger hunts make for great road trip activities. I think about where we’re going to be driving through and try to plan accordingly. It really involves my girls in the drive and helps draw their attention to the cities and various landscapes we’re exploring. (If you’re not much of a doodler, look online for pre-made cards like these!
  9. Don’t feel guilty about the iPad, sometimes. This is not to say that our girls don’t watch movies on road trips too. In fact, I’ve just downloaded their new favorites (Home and Inside Out) for our upcoming journey. But with other things to do, and hopefully some calculated attempts at drawing their eyes to the world around them, the movies are a treat instead of a norm (and therefore a good chance for mommy and daddy to steal a few quieter moments to chat and rest)!

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As a dentist and a parent, I know getting kids pumped about dental care is not always easy. Especially when quality time with the toothbrush means an inevitable tantrum, as it does for some toddlers.

While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a visit to the dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than your child's first birthday, establishing a few simple habits before your toddler's first dental appointment could be your best bet for an easier first time in the dentist chair.

Here are five easy ways parents can prepare their toddler prepare for the first dental visit.

Start brushing early

I know how important (but tough) it is to get kids into any sort of routine—let alone a dental one. We began our children's dental routine as infants by cleaning their mouths and gums regularly with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Between 12-18 months, we started a brushing routine with non-fluoridated toothpaste.

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The earlier children fit toothbrushing into their daily routine, the easier their first dental visit will be. Just like adults, children should brush their teeth twice daily for 2-3 minutes, ideally early in the morning and before going to bed.

Schedule your child's nighttime brushing before they get too tired. For example, if your child usually nods off at 8 pm, have them do their nightly brushing and flossing at 7:15 pm. We're all a bit more cooperative before the Sandman comes knocking.

Make it tasty

Finding a gently-flavored children's toothpaste your child likes to brush with can make brushing a lot more enjoyable—and may make that first dental visit go more smoothly, too. While mint flavored is a good go-to for adults, bubble gum or chocolate-flavored toothpaste may be more appealing for the little ones.

Parents can begin brushing their children's teeth with a tiny pea-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste as early as 18 months. Once your child learns how to spit (around 2 years old), switch to fluoride toothpaste to protect against dental decay.

Avoid surprises

Most kids don't particularly enjoy bad surprises—and who can blame them? Showing up to a strange, sterile place like a dentist's office, with loud, scary noises and "a big person" putting their hands in your mouth? No, thank you!

The best way to prepare a child for the dentist is to tell, show and do:

Tell: Start by spending some time telling your child about the dentist and why it's important to visit.

Show: Demonstrate for your child what the dentist does by reading a children's book (and explain why it's not scary!).

Do: Bring your child on a quick field trip to the dentist and let them see, touch and experience the office before their first visit.

Play pretend

Before the first visit, try play-acting "trip to the dentist" with a stuffed animal. Encourage your child to count and brush teeth, floss between their chompers and have fun taking turns in a pretend dentist chair.

Use praise + positive reinforcement

Visiting the dentist is a new and sometimes scary experience for children. While starting and prioritizing a brushing routine helps in the long run, no amount of prep can guarantee a perfect first time dental visit.

Praise and positive reinforcement helps kids become excited to care for their teeth. Rewarding healthy habits and your first dental visit with a trip to the park, smiley stickers and big hugs makes the process less frightening for kids—and less troublesome for parents.
Learn + Play

The grey days of winter are coming to an end and spring is in the air! ? The sidewalks will no longer be icy and soon flowers will start poking up. This month is a wonderful time to become a mother, and a pretty great month to be born, too.

Here's what science tells us about babies born in March:

1. They're likely to climb the corporate ladder

Babies born this month are the most likely to get that corner office when they grow up. Research indicates a higher percentage of CEOs are born in March than any other month.

One study of 375 CEOs found 12.5% of those holding the position were born in March. The link is thought to be related to school enrollment cutoffs which often see March babies on the older end of their class spectrum.

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2. They're less prone to myopia than their summer cousins

While those expecting in June or July might want to up their optometry coverage, March babies are more likely than their summer-born peers to pass an eye exam. A study of nearly 300,000 military applicants found summer babies have the highest rates of severe short-sightedness, while spring kids are less likely to have myopic eyes (winter-born kids have the best rates, though).

3. They're naturally optimistic

A 2014 study found March-born babies (and their April and May peers) are basically born optimists. They have high ratings on the hyperthymic scale as adults, which means they've got a positive outlook on life.

4. They're at lower risk for asthma

Dust mites are abundant at this time of year, and while it can be annoying for those with allergies, it's great for babies with March due dates. According to a 2015 study, kids born in the have lower rates of asthma because exposure to all those dust mites in infancy strengthens the immune response.

5. They'll probably be a night owl

One sleep study suggests children born in the spring and summer generally go to bed later than those born in the fall and winter, so your March baby is likely to want to stay up past their bedtime in a few short years.

6. They'll be a Pisces or an Aries

These two astrological signs are known for their determination and passion, respectively. Babies born between March 1 and March 20 are known as optimistic Pisces, while those born after March 20 are officially spring babies members of the Aries sign. Aries are known for being fiery and passionate, so you might want to start practicing for bedtime arguments with your future night owl right away.

[This post was originally published March 1, 2018]

News

Irish baby names have been longtime favorites in the U.S., but historically, the ones that have been the most popular—such as Bridget and Caitlin, Connor and Kevin—are those that are intuitive in spelling and pronunciation.

Cut to 2020 where actress Saoirse Ronan is one of the biggest movie stars, Billie Eilish tops the music charts, and celebrity babies are getting previously unheard-of Irish names.

Milla Jovovich recently named her daughter Osian, a Welsh boy name that derived from the Irish Oisin. She and husband Paul W.S. Anderson are big fans of names with Gaelic roots—their older girls are named Ever Gabo and Dashiel Edan, but Osian is the most distinctive and complicated name of the bunch. (For those of you wondering, it's pronounced oh-SHAN).

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These days parents are more willing to embrace a name that may pose a pronunciation challenge, and society, in turn, is more willing to learn how to pronounce them. We've got Saoirse and Eilish down pat, so what's next?

20 unique Irish baby names for boys and girls

Irish baby girl names

Ailbhe: A Top 100 name in Ireland, Ailbhe could easily make a name for itself in the U.S. It's pronounced like Alva, a rising biblical pick for boys.

Aoibhe: The Irish variation of Eva, with a very similar pronunciation. Parents looking to distinguish their daughter from the Eva/Evelyn/Everly crowd might opt for this Irish spelling.

Aoife: One of the more familiar names from Irish legend, Aoife appears in many tales as a warrior woman. It hasn't reached the U.S. Top 1000 yet, but Aoife has nearly doubled in use in the past five years.

Eilis: Perhaps best known as the name of the heroine from the book and movie Brooklyn, in which she announces her name "rhymes with Irish." Music sensation Billie Eilish may give the alternate spelling a boost as well.

Fiadh: Homophonous with Fia, an up-and-coming successor for Mia. Fiadh is the fastest rising name in Ireland.

Niamh: Niamh of the Golden Hair was an ancient Irish goddess, making Niamh an apt choice for a blonde baby girl. Neve is the phonetic spelling.

Oona: Oona is delightfully quirky—and comparably easy to pronounce—with its double O's. It's gentle meaning, "lamb," is a draw for a spring baby.

Orla: Uncommon in the U.S. yet very straightforward—Orla is easily recognizable as an Irish name. Orlaith is another common spelling in Ireland.

Roisin: The Irish variation of Rose, pronounced ro-SHEEN. It's an unexpected floral option, as well as musical—Róisín Dubh, meaning "dark little rose," is a 16th century Irish poem-turned-song.

Saoirse: Actress Saoirse Ronan made herself a household name, and now almost every household knows how to pronounce her name—she's known to tell people it rhymes with "inertia."

Siobhan: Siobhan, the Irish variation of Joan, is frequently used as a character name for books and television—J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyers have named characters Siobhan, and it's the name of Logan Roy's daughter on Succession. It briefly ranked in the U.S. Top 1000 in the 1980s.

Irish baby boy names

Cashel: Cashel seems destined for success in the U.S. thanks to its fashionable Cash element, shared by such trendy names as Cassius, Cassian and Cash itself.

Cian: Kian ranks in the US Top 500, but Cian, the more authentic spelling, doesn't make the list. As Kian continues to rise, we expect Cian will as well.

Cillian: The first syllable being "kill" gives Cillian a strong, very masculine edge. It fits in with other tough-guy international names, such as Gunnar and Bruno.

Eamon: Soft but masculine names have never been more stylish (think Liam, Owen, Asher) so might we suggest Eamon? It's technically the Irish variation of Edmund, but we like to think of it as an Aidan alternative.

Fionn: This Finn spelling alternative has seen a slight uptick in use in America and ranks higher than the four-letter spelling in Ireland. It's the name of Irish mythological hero Fionn MacCumhaill, anglicized as Finn McCool.

Keir: Short, punchy, and authentically Irish—what's not to love about Keir? For those searching for a short middle name for a son, Keir is a unique and worthy option.

Niall: Americans of a certain age will undoubtedly associate Niall with Niall Horan, former member of the boyband One Direction, but is that really such a bad thing? Zayn, Harry, Louis, and Liam have all risen in popularity since the band's debut—now we think it's Niall's time to shine.

Oisin: O names for boys are having a moment—Otto, Otis, Odin, and Oliver are all in vogue—so we'd like to add Oisin to the mix. It's pronounced o-SHEEN and is a Top 15 name in Ireland. With the Milla Jovovich birth announcement drawing more attention to the name, might we see more baby Oisins in the future?

Tadhg: Tadhg has the least intuitive pronunciation on our boys' list, but comes with the easiest mnemonic device—it's said like "tiger" without the R. It's often anglicized as Teague and could easily be co-opted as a girl name—a la Milla Jovovich—to use in place of the fast-rising Teagan.

Which Irish names do you want to immigrate to America?

This post by Sophie Kihm was originally published on Nameberry.

Learn + Play

Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









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