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CDC’s breast pump cleaning guidelines–what working mamas need to know

To most, hoses, flanges, valves and connectors sound like things you'd find under your car's hood. But new moms only have to glance down to see these breast pump parts in action.


With all the tiny pieces, understanding how to clean a breast pump can be tricky, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued breast pump cleaning guidelines to help parents clean pumps as well as possible. The guidelines suggest pump parts should be cleaned quickly after each use in either a dishwasher or a basin used only for baby things (not the kitchen sink), air dried and then sanitized.

These strict guidelines were met with incredulity upon release last year—as many working, pumping mothers have to make do with a quick wipe down or stash their pump in the fridge at work between uses—but the CDC means well.

The strict sanitation standards were developed after a prematurely born baby contracted a terrible illness from a breast pump left in the sink too long. "We reviewed existing resources for women about how to pump breast milk safely," said Dr. Anna Bowen, CDC medical officer, in email comments to Motherly when the guidelines were initially released. "We found little guidance that provided a lot of detail and was based on the best available science. As a result, CDC developed its own guidance."

The baby girl developed an infection at 3 weeks old, and when testing revealed the very uncommon Cronobacter sakazakii in her spinal fluid, the CDC went looking for the source and found it in frozen milk samples from the mother's personal pump, as well as on the pump itself and on the drain of the mother's kitchen sink.

The mother told the CDC she would clean her pump by placing the parts in a sink full of soapy water for hours before rinsing and air-drying all the parts. The parts were neither scrubbed nor sanitized, prompting the CDC to issue the guidelines.

The agency meant to protect babies and help parents, but the guidelines stoked panic and, in some cases, anger, in working moms who could not possibly follow them.

We reached out to Mark A. Underwood, Chief of Pediatric Neonatology and Professor of Pediatrics at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

He told Motherly the new CDC breast pump guidelines may not be helpful for moms supplying for healthy, full-term babies: "My advice is to find a sustainable approach that fits a mom's circumstance."

According to Dr. Underwood, the CDC and FDA create guidelines like those this case sparked to protect the largest number of babies from the worst possible outcomes—but not all babies require extreme levels of sanitation.

Dr. Underwood explained following the CDC guidelines is prudent for mothers pumping for premature babies or those with immune deficiencies, but other moms can relax. He said, "If she is pumping for a healthy term infant this level of detail to cleaning and sterilizing equipment may not be helpful."

While the cautious approach outlined in the CDC guidelines is designed to minimize the risk of infection, Underwood says the flip-side of the coin is the evidence that too much sanitation is actually harmful for most healthy babies. "[It] can increase risk of allergic and autoimmune diseases later in life," he says, adding that studies that have shown fewer incidents of allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease in children raised on farms and in children raised without dishwashers.

We also reached out to the CDC for clarification on how the new guidelines should apply to working moms of healthy babies.

"Refrigerating used pump parts between uses might be OK if the pump kit is not contaminated," Brittany Behm, Public Affairs Specialist for the CDC said in an statement emailed to Motherly. "But cleaning the pump kit after each use is the safest method and is particularly important for babies who are younger than 2 to 3 months old, were born prematurely or have weakened immune systems."

Behm also discouraged the use of breast pump sanitizing wipes, which she said cannot adequately reach all the surfaces of pumps. Instead, she said cleaning the parts in a dishwasher or by hand is the CDC's preferred post-pump sanitizing method.

She also expressed hope that workplaces will respond to the new guidelines with better options for pumping mothers. She said, "Ideally, workplaces would provide facilities and support for mothers to safely pump and store their milk."

Unfortunately, that's not reality for many of us—but working moms of healthy babies can take comfort in Dr. Underwood's advice and just do the best we can with what we've got.

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These families of ours. They sure need a lot of food, don't they? After breakfast, lunch and snacks (so many snacks), dinner can pose a special kind of challenge when you're hangry, too: You have to plan, prep and cook—all while gently turning down kids begging for one more snack.

Enter, Gobble: The solution I craved, both because it's simple and legitimately craveable!

As Motherly's co-founder and a mom to three young kids, I've tried many meal service kits before and Gobble stands out above the rest as the fastest, easiest option. Not only does each meal take just 15 minutes from fridge to table, but you only have to dirty up one pan, which makes cleanup a cinch, too. Gourmet-quality meals I can whip up quickly with pre-prepped ingredients? It's like a mama's culinary dream.

Here's what else my family and I loved about Gobble:

There were so many meal options.

I'm mostly a vegetarian. My family mostly is not. So finding dinners we can all agree on has always been a challenge. But with two dozen weekly meals to select from, we had no problem—for once! And while many of the meals are annotated as kid-friendly, we're not just talking mac 'n cheese. My oldest son's favorite from the week was actually Potato Pierogies with Caramelized Onions & Sautéed Spinach. Yes, even the spinach!

It actually made me feel like a gourmet chef.

Look, I know my strengths. And preparing elaborate meals from scratch is not one of them. But by getting all the information and ingredients I needed delivered to me with Gobble, I felt my inner Julia Child come out. I mean, when's the last time I served my family homemade Chicken Piccata with Broccolini and Lemon Pepper Tagliatelle? Never. The answer is never until my Gobble box arrived.

When I say fast and easy, I mean it.

Unlike meal prep kids that have emphasis on me doing the prep, Gobble dinner kits come with pre-chopped, minced, diced and grated ingredients. There was still a bit of chopping left for me, but even without Iron Chef skills, I was able to do it all, cook it and put it on the table within 15 minutes. Which means I could spend that extra time I normally use to prepare dinner for my family with my family—pretty novel idea, right?

I felt good about serving it and better about eating it.

Sometimes I buy broccoli, kale and asparagus with the best of intentions, only to leave it hanging in the back of my fridge for a week before tossing it. But with Gobble, I truly got the experience the magic of fresh ingredients I knew how and when to use—which made me feel like one accomplished mama when I served my family Meyer Lemon Gnocchi with Asparagus Tips & Artichoke Hearts.


After previous failed attempts at serving my kids nutritious meals, I didn't have my hopes up too high—but they surprised me by (literally) eating it all up.

At the end of the week, my family requested I order another kit as soon as possible, which I was all too happy to oblige: With Gobble's easy scheduling plan, I was able to pick another week that I knew was going to be busy. (The very next week, in my case.)

Order now and get $40 off your first delivery with code MOTHERLY40.

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

If you've got a Tuo Convertible High Chair by Skip Hop, you should check to see if it is part of a newly expanded recall.

Back in January, the company recalled about 7,900 of the chairs in the U.S. (and another 2,000 in Canada) after learning the front legs on the highchair can detach from the seat.

Now the recall has been expanded to include about 32,300 chairs sold in the United States, and an additional 8,600 purchased in Canada. The chairs were also sold in Australia and Mexico.

In the first recall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported "Skip Hop has received 59 reports of the legs of the high chairs detaching, including eight reported injuries that resulted in a lip cut and bruises to children." Skip Hop expanded the recall to more model numbers after receiving 17 reports of the legs of the high chairs detaching, but no injuries have been reported.

The initial recall impacted grey chairs purchased between December 2016 and September 2017, but the expanded recall impacts charcoal grey models (style number 304200) and versions of the high chair in a silver and white with clouds design (style number 304201) purchased between June 2017 and December 2018.

The high chairs were sold at Target, Babies "R" Us, Buy Buy Baby, Kohls, Dillards and through Amazon and Skiphop.com between June 2017 through December 2018, and retailed for about $160.

The impacted date codes (which can be found on the back of the chair, on the "warning" sticker, are as follows:

HH5/2017, HH6/2017, HH7/2017, HH8/2017, HH9/2017, HH092717, HH030518, HH05182018, HH05312018, HH092917, HH010518

Refund process

On its website Skip Hop asks that parents take a photo of the date code on the chair, as well as a photo of the seat being cut as in the photo above (you need to write your name and the date on the chair before snapping the pic). Upload your photos into Skip Hop's product refund form and you should receive an email confirming the shipment of your e-gift card or refund within 5-7 business days, according to Skip Hop.

"We encourage consumers with affected product to immediately stop using the product," the company says in a statement.

"Consumers can find more information about this expanded recall by clicking on our website www.skiphoprecall.com, emailing our customer service team at recall@skiphop.com, or calling 888-282-4674 from Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST."

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She went down in pop culture history as the winner of season 17 of The Bachelor, and in 2014 Catherine Giudici became Catherine Lowe when she married her Bachelor, Sean Lowe, in a televised special.

She may be known for living out her love story on reality TV, but these days Catherine Lowe is living a reality many more of us can relate to: She's a working mama of two just trying to get ready for Christmas without getting overwhelmed.

"Obviously things can be really hectic," Lowe—mama to 2-year-old Samuel and 6-month-old Isaiah—tells Motherly. "But it's also a really special season and it's Isaiah's first Christmas, and I want to make sure that we are present and not super stressed about things."

The Lowes had enough stress in recent weeks as baby Isaiah was hospitalized for bronchiolitis last month. Thankfully, Isaiah is now in good health and Lowe is really looking forward to her first Christmas as a mother of two.

She opened up to Motherly about how she's making sure this Christmas is low-stress, and we're thinking about taking some tips out of her holiday playbook.

1. Send gifts with intention (and as soon as possible) even if they're not "perfect" 

It's no surprise that a woman who loves stationery enough to make it her business (this #momboss owns her own luxury greeting card company, LoweCo) is big into gift-giving by mail. She feels there is a level of intention involved in sending physical packages that just isn't there when you email someone.

"We're all so digitally connected now it doesn't take a lot to send off that Merry Christmas text but it takes some effort to send them that lovely present in the mail," she tells Motherly.

And while she loves curating gift boxes for her far flung family members, she's not stressing herself out over finding "the perfect" gift for everyone on her list. Lowe says even if you're just getting everyone candles and gift cards, taking the time to write something meaningful in the card is actually more important than devoting a ton of time to shopping.

"Making sure that the words you're writing matter and making sure it's on time is the best gift you could give," she explains.

Lowe has already been sending presents and thoughtful cards by FedEx this holiday season, as her extended family is spread out all over the world. Getting her packages shipped early is a gift for her family and for her future self, as she won't spend the coming weeks stressing over whether things will arrive before the 25th.

2. Don't feel like you have to do everything this Christmas

Getting her presents and cards mailed on time is a high priority item on Lowe's holiday to-do list, but she's keeping the rest of that list reasonable by recognizing that there are some traditions the Lowes will get to later, and that's okay.

The Elf on the Shelf is a great example of this. With a toddler and a baby and a business needing her attention, Lowe says "we're gonna hold off another year for that." She says at 2, her oldest, Samuel, could be ready for the elf, but putting it off for one more year is allowing her to have a less stressful season and enjoy some simpler traditions with him as he is discovering the magic of Santa for the first time.

"The Santa thing is starting and I love that and I just think it's such an exciting time," she explains. "I want to make cookies with Samuel, and then do the whole 'bite in the cookie that Santa took' thing. I think he would be super surprised and really excited to know that Santa was in his house."

Lowe is all about finding the fun and balance this Christmas so that the season is magical without being overwhelming. "We want to make sure that every day is exciting and we're doing something holiday-centric so that they get just as excited as we do," she tells Motherly.

3. Consider spacing out the toys over the year

When your kids are as cute as Lowe's and your family as spread out, the month of December can see a tidal wave of toys flooding into your home as family members send presents. The mountain of new toys can feel a bit overwhelming (as any mama who has cleaned a post-Christmas playroom can attest), so Lowe is thinking about starting a tradition her sister-in-law turned her onto.

She says that while having a lot of gifts for the little guys is "a great problem to have" not all the new toys have to be available to the kids at once. So she's keeping some for later. Then they can be "surprised throughout the year with things that were given to them during the holiday season."

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In recent years there has been a lot of talk about pulling vending machines out of schools. In an age where childhood obesity is a big concern, critics argue the machines are too tempting and make it too easy for kids to access high-calorie, low-quality snacks.

But at one school in Buffalo, New York, educators have come up with a way to make vending machines work for their students by stocking one with a product parents actually want kids to consume: Books!

Vice-principal at Arthur O. Eve School 61, Dr. Unseld Robinson came up with the idea to use a vending machine to get books into his kids' hands and homes, WGRZ reports.

According to The Buffalo News, Robinson heard about a similar machine at a school in Washington, D.C., and wondered if School 61 could adapt the idea for its students' needs.

"Many children in Buffalo are not reading as much as they should," Robinson told The Buffalo News. "So the thought was to have them look to the vending machine for inspiration."

The vending machine is kept in the library, but the books in the vending machine are different from library books, because kids don't have to bring them back. When they select a book from the vending machine they get to take it home and make it part of their own personal library.

The books go home with the kids, but the kids don't need to bring money from home to get a book. Each month, the school rotates through the grades, giving each child a gold coin token they can use to "buy" a book from the vending machine.

As Principal Parette Walker explained to WBFO News, the tokens are not a reward for good behavior or good attendance. Every child gets a coin and gets a book.

"We wanted to make literacy exciting and fun," Walker, told the Buffalo News, "because learning and reading should be fun."

The same factors that make candy vending machines so inappropriate in elementary schools—the alluring bright colors behind the glass, the ease of use, and all the choices—make them perfect when used to promote literacy instead of candy.

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If you have purchased store brand infants' ibuprofen at Walmart, CVS or Family Dollar, you should check to see if your package is part of a new recall. Three lots of Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension, USP in 0.5 oz. bottles are being recalled by the manufacturer as they may potentially have higher concentrations of ibuprofen than intended.

This is a proactive recall, no parents have reported any adverse outcomes for babies, but in a news release the manufacturer, Tris Pharma, says there is a "remote possibility" of kidney damage.

The company says parents should immediately stop using the medicine and be on the lookout for adverse effects including nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, diarrhea, tinnitus, headache or gastrointestinal bleeding.

Check your cupboard for these store brands and lot numbers:

Walmart's Equate: Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension

Lot numbers: 00717009A, 00717015A, 00717024A

Expiration dates: 02/19, 04/19, 08/19

CVS Health: Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension

Lot number: 00717024A

Expiration date: 08/19

Family Dollar's Family Wellness: Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension

Lot number: 00717024A

Expiration date: 08/19

Here's what the packaging looks like for each:


Equate: Infants' Ibuprofen Concentrated Oral Suspension,USP (NSAID), 50 mg per 1.25 mL,0.5 oz. bottle

Sold at: Walmart

National Drug Code: 49035-125-23

Expiration: 02/19, 04/19, 08/19

Lot: 00717009A, 00717015A, 00717024A

Parents can contact Tris Pharma's Customer Service at 732-940-0358 or email micc_tris@vigilarebp.com

If your child has already taken the medication and experienced adverse effects, talk to your doctor and consider reporting your experience through the Food and Drug Administration's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

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