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Anxiety in kids: what’s typical and what’s not

Grown-ups have grown-up anxieties ranging from work to money to relationships. Our kids don’t have to worry about these things, but they may have anxieties of their own. And, just like adults, some kids are naturally more anxious than others.


As a parent, how do you know when your child’s anxiety is to the point where he or she may need outside help?

We spoke to experts about what behaviors related to childhood anxiety are within the “to be expected” range and what are red flags. Here’s what they said:

Shyness vs. social anxiety

The American Psychological Association defines shyness as the tendency to feel awkward, worried or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people. In contrast, anxiety is defined as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”

So while feeling momentarily awkward around strangers is one thing, feeling visceral reactions of discomfort during any social interaction is more of a concern.

Even then, occasional cases of social anxiety aren’t necessarily cause for serious concern, says Natasha Sharma, author of The Kindness Journal. If a child looks worked up, has a change in breathing or verbally expresses anxiety in the face of an event, Sharma says parents can typically help little ones through the episodes by acknowledging it’s okay to feel nervous and by suggesting some deep breathing.

The red flag: The line between personally manageable social anxiety and cases that would benefit from outside help is drawn when the anxiety gets in the way of a child’s ability to maintain relationships or attend school. As licensed clinical psychologist Kristi Wolfe notes, a good threshold for calling in an expert is if your child has more worry-filled days than not and this has gone on for several months.

Separation anxiety vs. saying goodbye

A few tears before the first day at a new school or when mom leaves for a business trip are normal, but if a child experiences a great deal of stress with every goodbye for prolonged periods of time, they might be veering into anxiety territory.

Research indicates Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is the most commonly diagnosed childhood anxiety disorder in school-age kids, with the biggest peak among children aged 7 to 9. This often occurs along with big school transitions, like the start of middle school, as stress manifests as fear for those your child loves: According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American, kids suffering from separation anxiety often worry bad things will happen to them, parents or friends in the absence.

The red flag: If a child is refusing to go to school or other age-appropriate activities that separate them from parents of caregivers, there’s more going on than a dislike of goodbyes.

Evening anxiety vs. bedtime avoidance

Asking for another story, another glass of water or an extra hug doesn’t necessarily mean your child has anxiety. It probably just means they’re engaging in what experts call “bedtime resistance,” and it’s super common in kids between 2 and 8 years old.

Most of the time, anxiety isn’t the root of bedtime battles, but if your child has anxiety symptoms during the day, they may have a difficult time getting to sleep a night, Dr. Gregory Stores notes in a paper published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience.

The red flag: Anxious children are late to fall asleep, wake frequently and move around a lot. If a child is exhibiting those symptoms or nighttime panic attacks, anxiety could be to blame.

How to get help

Talking to your child’s pediatrician is the best place to start when anxiety affects sleep, eating habits, relationships or school performance.

A much larger percentage of children will experience minor episodes of anxiety that don’t get in the way of their routine and academic goals—and shouldn’t be considered reasons for shame. As Sharma says, “Normalizing a certain level of anxiety, not just in children, but in everybody, is actually a very healthy way of quelling it.”

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The bottle warmer has long been a point of contention for new mamas. Hotly debated as a must-have or superfluous baby registry choice, standard models generally leave new moms underwhelmed at best.

It was time for something better.

Meet the Algoflame Milk Warmer, a digital warming wand that heats beverages to the perfect temperature―at home and on the go. And like any modern mama's best friend, the Algoflame solves a number of problems you might not have even known you needed solved.

As with so many genius gadgets, this one is designed by two parents who saw a serious need. It's currently a Kickstarter raising money for production next year, but here are 10 unexpected ways this brilliant device lends a hand―and reasons why you should consider supporting its launch.

1. It's portable.

Every seasoned mama knows that mealtime can happen anywhere. And since you're unlikely to carry a clunky traditional milk warmer in your diaper bag, the Algoflame is your answer. The super-light design goes anywhere without weighing down your diaper bag.

2. It's battery operated.

No outlets necessary. Simply charge the built-in battery before heading out, and you're ready for whatever (and wherever) your schedule takes you. (Plus, when you contribute to the Kickstarter you can request an additional backup battery for those days when your errands take all.day.long.)

3. It's compact.

Even at home, traditional bottle warmers can be an eyesore on the countertop. Skip the bulky model for Algoflame's streamlined design. The warmer is about nine inches long and one inch wide, which means you can tuck it in a drawer out of sight when not in use.

4. It's waterproof.

No one likes taking apart bottle warmers to clean all the pieces. Algoflame's waterproof casing can be easily and quickly cleaned with dish soap and water―and then dried just as quickly so you're ready to use it again.

5. It has precise temperature control.

Your wrist is not a thermometer―why are you still using it to test your baby's milk temperature? Algoflame lets you control heating to the optimal temperature for breastmilk or formula to ensure your baby's food is safe.

6. It's fool-proof.

The LED display helps you know when the milk is ready, even in those bleary-eyed early morning hours. When the right temperature is reached, the wand's display glows green. Too hot, and it turns red (with a range of colors in between to help you determine how hot the liquid is). Now that's something even sleep-deprived parents can handle.

7. It's adaptable.

Sized to fit most bottles and cups on the market, you never have to worry about whether or not your bottles will fit into your warmer again.

8. It's multipurpose.

If you're a mom, chances are your cup of coffee is cold somewhere right now. The Algoflame has you covered, mama! Simply pop the wand into your mug to reheat your own beverage no matter where you are.

9. You can operate it with one hand.

From getting the milk warmer out to heating your baby's beverage, the entire wand is easy to activate with one hand―because you know you're holding a fussing baby in the other!

10. It's safe.

Besides being made from materials that comply with the FDA food contact safety standard, Algoflame boasts a double safety system thanks to its specially designed storage case. When put away in the case, the built-in magnetic safe lock turns the milk warmer to power-off protection mode so it won't activate accidentally. Additionally, the warmer's "idle-free design" prevents the heater from being accidentally activated out of the case.

To get involved and help bring the Algoflame Milk Warmer to new mamas everywhere, support the brand's Kickstarter campaign here.

This article is sponsored by Algoflame Milk Warmer. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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Car seat safety is such an obsession for parents. We read the articles, listen to expert advice and join Facebook groups dedicated to the subject.

We strap our kids in tight to make sure they are safe, making sure those straps and that chest clip are in just the right place. With so much attention paid to strapping the child into the seat, it's easy to overlook the other part of the equation: Is the seat secured to the vehicle properly?

Now, a viral video has a lot of parents thinking twice not only about how secure their child is in their seat, but how securely that seat is attached to the car.

Warning: This video is upsetting, although the child was not hurt.

Minnesotan Chad Mock posted footage captured by his dash camera to Facebook this week, and the video has more than 1.2 million views. It shows the moment a 2-year-old girl, strapped into her car seat, fell out of her mom's car and into the roadway in front of Mock's vehicle.

"If it didn't happen in front of me I'd never have believed it," Mock captioned his upload.

Mock got out of his car and picked the child up. He got the child out of busy roadway and flagged down police.

According to the Star Tribune, the child's mom rushed back to the scene of the accident with another child in tow and was upset going to hug her daughter. Police figured out that the car seat didn't have the strap required to secure it to the vehicle, a 2004 Honda Civic that is equipped with the latch system. The driver's side rear door also wasn't completely closed, the paper reports.

The mom in this case is now facing charges: A misdemeanor child passenger restraint system violation, and a license permit violation because she was driving with just an instructional permit.

The Free Press of Mankato reports the mom explained to police (through a translator) that she believed her daughter was secured in the back seat but must have unlocked herself before she fell out of the car.

The mom in this case made some mistakes that day, but this story might help other parents avoid a common car seat mistake. We often check and double check how our kids are strapped in, but don't always check how secure the seat is to the vehicle.

Car seats can become loose without the usual driver of the vehicle knowing. Maybe an adult moved the seat and forgot to secure the top-tether when putting it back , maybe someone was hauling cargo or tilting seats forward in your vehicle or messing around with the LATCH system. Things can change from car ride to car ride, so always check to make sure the seat's not loose before you hit the road.

"You want less than one inch of movement when you give it a firm handshake at the belt path with your non dominant hand," Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Wendy Thomas writes for Car Seats for the Littles. According to Thomas, the belt path is "the spot on the car seat where the seat belt or lower anchor strap goes through"

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia echos her advice, and suggests parents "optimize the safety of [their] child safety seat by using its top tether strap located at the top of the seat. Check your car seat and vehicle manuals for proper use of the tether for your seat. If use of the tether is appropriate, tightly attach the seat's top tether strap to the correct anchor point in the vehicle and tighten."

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The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).


In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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