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When parents are shopping for baby gear we expect the products on store shelves to be as safe as possible. We expect that companies and manufacturers have done their due diligence and that government agencies are looking out for us.

That's why Consumer Reports is calling for a recall of the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play, stating that the recent warning to parents by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Fisher-Price does not go for enough.

The CPSC alert to parents stated that 10 babies have died in the inclined sleeper since 2015, but Consumer Reports says Fischer-Price is aware of 32 deaths since 2009 (although the company does not believe any deaths were caused by the product, but rather by medical conditions or improper use).

The CPSC recommends "consumers stop use of the product by three months of age, or as soon as an infant exhibits rollover capabilities", following previous warnings to always use the product restraints.

The call for a recall echos previous concerns raised by parents and pediatricians who urged manufacturers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to do more to protect babies when it comes to inclined sleepers. As the Wall Street Journal reported last year, a parent in New York filed a complaint with the Consumer Product Safety Commission after a 6-month-old rolled over while sleeping in a Rock 'n Play and died.

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(Motherly reached out to Fisher-Price's parent company, Mattel, in November regarding the Wall Street Journal's reporting, again on April 5 regarding the CPSC warning and on April 9 regarding the Consumer Reports story. As of this writing the company has not replied to our inquiry.)

The fatality at the center of the complaint to the CPSC is just one of at least 30 (not to mention more than 700 injuries) related to inclined infant sleepers reported to the watchdog since 2005. The Wall Street Journal notes more than half of the fatalities, 16 of them, have happened since 2016.

What parents need to know about inclined sleepers like the Rock 'n Play:

Always follow the product instructions

Pediatricians say changing the design of infant sleepers would make babies safer, but manufacturers and the CPSC say the current designs can be safe if used as directed and only for babies who can't yet roll.

In a response to the Wall Street Journal, Mattel stressed that parents should "read the instructions prior to use of their sleeper and follow those instructions to ensure a safe sleep environment for babies."

These instructions state that parents should always use the built-in restraint system and never use a pillow, comforter, or padding with the sleeper.

Calls for a design or marketing changes

The American Academy of Pediatrics' says the safest place for a baby to sleep is "on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet." And while the organization's guidelines do not state that the firm surface needs to be a flat surface, the AAP does recommend against "sitting devices" (like car seats, strollers, swings) for routine sleep due to the risk of airway obstruction.

Inclined sleepers like the Rock 'n Play are not specifically addressed in the AAP's Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment, which suggests babies sleep in "a crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard that conforms to the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)."

Some doctors have spoken up about concerns about the Rock n' Play as a sleep surface. Back in 2013, Dr. Roy Benaroch posted excerpts from an email exchange he'd had with Fisher-Price on his blog, Pediatric Insider. He stated several concerns, including that that incline did not allow babies to sleep in the supine position (wholly on the back) as is recommended by the AAP.

Pediatrician Natasha Burgert also took to her blog, posting an open letter to Fisher-Price, urging the company to "consider re-marketing the Rock 'n Play Sleeper as a comfortable, portable infant seat; to be used for observed play, and as a temporary place for brief rest."

Indeed, that is how the device is marketed in Canada, where a similar Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play product is sold as a "Soothing Seat" rather than a "sleeper" because the design doesn't meet Canadian safety regulations for a bassinet, crib or cradle.

Dr. Ben Hoffman, chairman of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention aired his concern with the Rock 'n Play as a sleeper in the Wall Street Journal piece, stating: "Because they're sold, people assume that they're safe and the fact is they're not."

Is the consumer watchdog doing enough?

These doctors and Consumer Reports say the Rock 'n Play design is not safe, but the CPSC does not go that far, only recommending parents follow the instructions included with the products stop using of the product when babies are three months of age, or can roll over.

Pediatricians and safety and consumer advocacy groups are among those who say babies would be protected by stronger regulations around infant sleep products, and that the CPSC's current strategy puts too much onus on parents to wade through safety recommendations as well as product reviews when picking baby gear.

As representatives of the AAP, advocacy group Kids In Danger, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports and the Consumers Union wrote in a joint letter to CPSC Chair, Ann Marie Buerkle, "using restraints in a sleep product, allowing inclines in sleep products that might allow rolling into unsafe positions, and other hazards present in current inclined sleep products should not be promoted by the CPSC."

Bottom line: Always use any sleep product as directed (if it says to buckle baby up, you should always use the buckles) and consider the ABC's of safe sleep that the AAP and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development agree on:

  • A is for Alone
  • B is for on the Back
  • C is for in a Crib

We understand that different sleep routines, situations (like co-sleeping) and products work for different families and that's ultimately always your call, but it's good to know what's recommended by the experts.

[A version of this post was originally published November 20, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Beyoncé's new Netflix documentary Homecoming hit the streaming service today and gives us an honest look at how difficult her twin pregnancy was.

"My body went through more than I knew it could," she says in the film, revealing that her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi was a shock right from the beginning, and the surprises kept coming.

In the film she reveals that her second pregnancy was unexpected, "And it ended up being twins which was even more of a surprise," she explains.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix

The pregnancy was rough. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia, a condition that impacts about 5 to 8% of pregnancies and results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia poses risks to both the mother and the baby. People who are pregnant with multiples, like Beyoncé was, are more at risk to develop preeclampsia, and the only real cure for the condition is to give birth, which proved to be another medical challenge for Beyoncé.

"In the womb, one of my babies' hearts paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section," she shares in the film.

Thankfully, Beyoncé made it through her extremely difficult pregnancy, but the physical challenges didn't end there. The road to rehabilitation for the performer was difficult because, as she explains, she was trying to learn new choreography while her body was repairing cut muscles and her mind just wanted to be home with her children.

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"There were days that I thought I'd never be the same. I'd never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same," Beyoncé recalls.

We know that becoming a mother changes us in so many ways, and in Homecoming, Beyoncé shows the world the strength that mothers possess, and rejects any ideas about "bouncing back."

Becoming a mother is hard, but it is so worth it, and Beyoncé isn't looking backward—she's looking at a mother in the mirror and loving who and what she sees. "I just feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I'm not even trying to be who I was," Beyoncé said in the documentary. "It's so beautiful that children do that to you."

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A new study has some people thinking twice about kissing their bearded partners, or maybe even letting those with beards kiss the baby—but there's a lot to unpack here.

According to Swiss researchers, bearded men are carrying around more bacteria than dogs do. A lot more. But read on before you send dad off to the bathroom with a razor and ask him to pull a Jason Momoa (yes, he's recently clean-shaven. RIP Aquaman's beard).

As the BBC reports, scientists swabbed the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 dogs. When they compared the samples, they learned beards have a higher bacterial load than dog fur.

Dudes who love their beards are already clapping back against the way the science was reported in the media though, noting that the sample size in this study was super small and, importantly, that the scientists didn't swab any beardless men.

The study wasn't even about beards, really. The point of the study, which was published in July 2018 in the journal European Radiology, was to determine if veterinarians could borrow human MRI machines to scan dogs without posing a risk to human patients.

"Our study shows that bearded men harbour significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs," the authors wrote, noting that when MRI scanners are used for both dogs and humans, they're cleaned very well after veterinary use, and actually have a "lower bacterial load compared with scanners used exclusively for humans."

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Another important point to note is that most bacteria aren't actually dangerous to humans, and some can be really good for us (that's why some scientists want us to let our kids get dirty).

This little study wasn't supposed to set off a beard panic, it was just supposed to prove that dogs and people can safely share an MRI machine. There is previous research on beards and bacteria though, that suggests they're not all bad.

Another study done in 2014 and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection looked at a much larger sample of human faces (men who work in healthcare), both bearded and clean shaven, and actually found that people who shaved their faces were carrying around more Staph bacteria than those with facial hair.

"Overall, colonization is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair; however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair," the researchers wrote.

A year after that, a local news station in New Mexico did its own "study" on beards, one that wasn't super scientific but did go viral and prompted a flurry of headlines insisting beards are as dirty as toilets. That claim has been debunked.

So, before you ban bearded people from kissing the baby (or yourself) consider that we all have some bacteria on our faces. Dads should certainly wash their beards well, but they're not as dirty as a toilet.

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From toddlers to teens, most kids love Easter Egg hunts. But the traditional Easter game can be a bit challenging for small ones and those with disabilities—especially kids with mobility disabilities or children who struggle with social interactions. Sadly, as much as you try to nudge them in the right direction, your efforts are often in vain.

Thankfully, there's a brilliant hack that helps kids of all ages find the colorful eggs without the stress. The best part? It's also great for parents and hosts that can't remember where they hid the eggs (yup, been there, done that!)

We're thankful Facebook page Noah's Miracle had moms in mind when he shared an image of helium-filled, colored balloons adhered to plastic eggs to give attention to the location of each egg.

"Great idea for children with mobility challenges so that they can participate in Easter egg hunts easier and remain in wheelchairs & gait trainers & walkers," says the caption in the post that's garnered thousands of Facebook comments and shares since its posting two years ago.

Now we can't control if April showers will put a damper on your hunt, but this hack is a surefire way to get the whole crowd involved.

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If you've had a baby in a hospital you know that those first few nights can be really hard. There are so many benefits for babies sharing rooms with their mamas (as opposed to being shipped off to those old-school, glassed-in nurseries) but tired mamas have a lot of conflicting messages coming at them.

You're told to bond with your baby, but not to fall asleep with them in the bed, and to let them rest in their bassinet. But when you're recovering from something that is (at best) the most physically demanding thing a person can do or (at worst) major surgery, moving your baby back and forth from bed to bassinette all night long sure doesn't sound like fun.

That's why this photo of a co-sleeping hospital bed is going viral again, four years after it was first posted by Australian parenting site Belly Belly. The photo continues to attract attention because the bed design is enviable, but is it real? And if so, why aren't more hospitals using it?

The bed is real, and it's Dutch. The photo originated from Gelderse Vallei hospital. As GoodHouskeeping reported back in 2015, the clip-on co-sleepers were introduced as a way to help mom and baby pairs who needed extended hospital stays—anything beyond one night in the maternity ward.

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Plenty of moms stateside wish we had such beds in our maternity wards, but as but Dr. Iffath Hoskins, an OB-GYN, told Yahoo Parenting in 2015, the concept wouldn't be in line with American hospitals' safe sleeping policies.

"If the mother rolls over from exhaustion, there would be the risk of smothering the baby," she told Yahoo. "The mother's arm could go into that space in her sleep and cover the baby, or she could knock a pillow to the side and it's on the baby."

Hoskins also believes that having to get in and out of bed to get to your baby in the night is good for moms who might be otherwise reluctant to move while recovering from C-sections. If you don't move, the risk of blood clots in the legs increases. "An advantage of being forced to get up for the baby is that it forces the mother to move her legs — it's a big plus. However painful it can be, it's important for new moms to move rather than remaining in their hospital beds."

So there you have it. The viral photo is real, but don't expect those beds to show up in American maternity wards any time soon.

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