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I wish I could say I was surprised by the events that transpired in Charlottesville, but sadly I’m not.


On Saturday, August 12, 2017, the Virginia town—home to the University of Virginia—became a headline and a hashtag virtually overnight. White nationalists, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists gathered in the town to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. What followed were violent clashes between protesters and counter-protesters, including a brutal car crash that left one person dead and 19 injured. First-person accounts, along with photos and videos, detailed the horrifying scene.

Beyond the violence, Charlottesville was filled with symbols of hate, from Nazi symbols to the Confederate flag. With each update, I was more disturbed and disheartened.

As a 35-year-old Black woman, I’ve lived through my fair share of racial strife in the United States. But it wasn’t until I became pregnant with my baby girl that I started to think about how I wanted to teach my future children about race in America.

Over the past few years, several events have prompted me to think about how I would talk about race and current events with my future children; most notably, the death of Philando Castile, which happened just 10 miles from the home I share with my husband and daughter.

As a mother, my first instinct is to protect my children, but I know that raising Black children in America means that I have to also prepare them for life in the real world, which includes discussions of race and racism.

I was raised in a pro-Black home, taught to love my history and heritage. Through my adulthood I’ve experienced racism (both overt and covert), but the lessons from my childhood continued to resonate with me. My husband and I plan to raise our 7-month-old the same way: to love her Blackness and take pride in it.

We also want to instill in her a respect for all people, and we plan to provide her with opportunities to interact with all types of people, diverse in color, culture and religion.

My baby girl is too young for a conversation about Charlottesville—but I can only imagine the types of questions I’d get if she were 7 years old instead of 7 months old. I have many older children in my tribe—a tribe made up of family, other children of color and also the children of allies—and I know at some point we’ll have to discuss the events in Charlottesville.

Here’s my game plan for how I’ll answer their questions and ease their fears:

Share a high-level and age-appropriate version of the truth

A 5-year-old isn't going to understand the history of racism in this country, but simply saying "some people don't like other people" isn't enough. We owe it to our children to tell them the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. There are people in the world who hate others because of their skin color, religion or nation of origin. It’s our duty as parents to prepare our children for the real world. Sharing the truth helps build trust with your child, as they’ll know they can come to you to answer the hard questions with honesty.

This conversation can be difficult if you yourself don’t feel prepared, but there are resources available, such as Raising Race Conscious Children, an organization that hosts workshops and provides strategies to parents for talking to young children about race. In this conversation, allow your child to ask questions. Your child’s questions can also be a great segue into learning about the history of civil rights in the United States, social justice or other topics.

Let them know they’re safe

Graphic photos of the violence at Charlottesville have dominated the news and social media these past few days, and your child may have seen them. Even overhearing conversations about the event could spark your children to question their safety, or the safety of their friends. Reassure them as much as you can that they are safe—remind them that it’s a parent’s job to protect them—and instruct them on what to do (such as find a police officer or other adult) if there’s an emergency or some type of violence.

Talk about what you can do together

If your family is able, use this as an opportunity to explore ways you can make an impact in your community. Marching in rallies isn’t for every family, and that’s OK. Check out community events or groups that will allow your child to interact with different types of people. Organizations such as the Points of Light’s HandsOn Network host volunteer opportunities for all ages in a variety of locations.

Head to your local library to check out books related to the civil rights movement or current events. For younger kids, read picture books about different cultures, like Let’s Talk About Race or Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story. For older kids, encourage them to check out young adult fiction or nonfiction to help broaden their learning.

Keep talking

The events at Charlottesville aren't isolated and the conversation shouldn't be either. Children learn by our example, so it’s incumbent on us parents to incorporate lessons about diversity as we teach our children. Books, movies, community events are all great ways to keep the topic current for your kids. Even a simple dinner out to an ethnic restaurant can be an opportunity to get your kids thinking and learning about other cultures.

Buzzfeed Parents produced an excellent video and companion piece that outlined why parents should talk to their kids about race, which is a great starting point for parents who have been apprehensive.

While this past weekend in Charlottesville was an ugly incident, it’s also a learning opportunity—not only for our children, but for us as well. We have the ability to shape them into the adults we want them to be and it starts with honest communication and dialogue.

Although I’m saddened and disappointed that such an event could take place in 2017, I’m encouraged that so many people have stepped forward to denounce and reject the messages of hate.

This is also a wake-up call for me to be more active in my community and more deliberate in the messages I give to my child and the other children in my tribe. We have an opportunity to shape the future into the type of place that’s welcoming to all. And that starts with what we share and teach our children now, especially after an event like Charlottesville.

I’m up for the challenge and I hope you are, too.

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Going back to work after having a baby is hard. Regaining your footing in a world where working mothers are so often penalized is tough, and (just like most things during the postpartum period) it takes time.

The challenges we face as working women returning from a maternity leave can be so different from those we faced before, it can feel like we're starting over from scratch. But mothers will not be deterred, even if our return to the working world doesn't go exactly as planned.

We are resilient, as Serena Williams proved at Wimbledon this weekend.

She lost to Angelique Kerber in the final, just 10 months after welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia and recovering from a physically and emotionally traumatic birth experience.

Williams didn't get her eighth Wimbledon title this weekend, but when we consider all the challenges she (and all new moms) faced in resuming her career, her presence was still a huge achievement.

"It was such an amazing tournament for me, I was really happy to get this far!" Williams explained in an emotional post-match interview.

"For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried. I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

The loss at Wimbledon isn't what she wanted, of course, but Williams says it does not mean there won't be wins in her near future.

"These two weeks have showed me I can really compete and be a contender to win grand slams. This is literally just the beginning. I took a giant step at Wimbledon but my journey has just began."

When asked what she hopes other new moms take away from her journey, Williams noted her postpartum recovery was really difficult, and hopes that other moms who face challenges early in motherhood know that they don't have to give up on whatever dreams they have for themselves, whether it involves working or not.

"Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. I'm just that person, that vessel that's saying, 'You can be whatever you want to be.' If you want to go back to workand to me, after becoming a mom, I feel like there's no pressure to do that because having a child is a completely full-time job," she said.

"But to those that do want to go back, you can do it, you can really do it."

Thank you, Serena. You may not have won, but this was still a victory.

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Since baby Crew became the newest member of Chip and Joanna Gaines' family three weeks ago, his proud parents have been keeping the world updated, sharing sweet snaps of their youngest and even giving us a glimpse into his nursery.

Now, Chip Gaines is showing off a pic that proves there is nothing cuter than a floppy, sleepy baby.

"My heart is full..." the proud father of five captioned the photo he posted on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Earlier this week Crew's mama shared how she gets him so sleepy in the first place, posting an Instagram Story showing how she walks around the family's gardens on their Waco, Texas farm to lull her newborn boy to sleep.



The couple are clearly enjoying every single moment of Crew's babyhood. As recently as 7 days ago Chip was still sporting his hospital bracelet. Joanna says with each child he's worn his maternity ward ID until it finally wears off. We can't blame Chip for wanting to make the newborn phase last as long as possible.

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It was a changing table must-have a generation ago, but these days, many parents are forgoing baby powder, and now, the leading manufacturer of the sweet smelling powder was dealt a big financial blow.

Johnson & Johnson was just ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued, alleging baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.

A St. Louis jury says the women are right, but what does The American Academy of Pediatrics say about baby powder?

It was classified "a hazard" before many of today's parents were even born

The organization has actually been recommending against baby powder for years, but not due to cancer risks, but inhalation risks.

Way back in 1981 the AAP declared baby powder "a hazard," issuing a report pointing out the frequency of babies aspirating the powder, which can be dangerous and even fatal in the most severe cases.

That warning didn't stop all parents from using the powder though, as its continued presence on store shelves to this day indicates.

In 1998 Dr. Hugh MacDonald, then the director of neonatology at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, told the Los Angeles Times "Most pediatricians recommend that it not be used," adding that the consensus at the time was that "anybody using talcum powder be aware that it could cause inhalation of the talc, resulting in a pneumonic reaction."

Recent updates

A 2015 update to the AAP's Healthy Children website suggests the organization was even very recently still more concerned about the risk of aspiration than cancer risks like those alleged in the lawsuit. It suggests that parents who choose to use baby powder "pour it out carefully and keep the powder away from baby's face [as] published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs."

In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Dr. David Soma, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Hospital, explained that baby powder use had decreased a lot over the previous five to eight years, but he didn't believe it was going to disappear from baby shower gift baskets any time soon.

"There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children," he said. "I'm not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions—I think it will stick around for a while."

Talc-based baby powder is the kind alleged to have caused ovarian cancer in the lawsuit (which Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal), but corn starch varieties of baby powder are also available and not linked to increased cancer risks as alleged in the case.


Bottom line: If you are going to use baby powder on your baby's bottom, make sure they're not getting a cloud of baby powder in their face, and if you're concerned, talk to your health care provider about alternative methods and products to use on your baby's delicate skin.

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In the days since a The New York Times report revealed a resolution meant to encourage breastfeeding was blocked by U.S. delegates at the World Health Assembly, breastfeeding advocates, political pundits, parents, doctors—and just about everyone else—have been talking about breastfeeding, and whether or not America and other countries are doing enough to support it.

The presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians say the controversy at the World Health Assembly reveals that mothers need more support when it comes to breastfeeding, while others, including The Council on Foreign Relations, suggest the national conversation needs more nuance, and less focus on the "breast is best" rhetoric.

The one thing everyone agrees on is that parents need more support when it comes to infant feeding, and in that respect, the controversy over the World Health Assembly resolution may be a good thing.

In their joint letter to the editor published in the New York Times this week, the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians, Dr. Colleen Kraft and Dr. Lisa Hollier urge "the United States and every country to protect, promote and support breast-feeding for the health of all women, children and families."

The doctors go on to describe how breastfeeding "provides protection against newborn, infant and child infections, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and sudden infant death syndrome," and note the health benefits to mothers, including reduced risks for "breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

"Helping mothers to breastfeed takes a multifaceted approach, including advancing public policies like paid family leave, access to quality child care, break time and a location other than a bathroom for expressing milk," say Kraft and Hollier.

Certainly such policies would support breastfeeding mothers (and all mothers) in America, but some critics say framing the discussion around domestic policy is a mistake, because the World Health Assembly resolution is a global matter and women and babies in other parts of the world face very different feeding challenges than we do here at home.

In an op-ed published by CNN, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations suggests the laudable goal of breastfeeding promotion can backfire when mothers in conflict-riddled areas can't access formula due to well-meaning policy. Lemmon points to a 2017 statement by Doctors Without Borders calling for fewer barriers to formula distribution in war-torn areas.

"International organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) promote breastfeeding ... and provide infant formula, but only by prescription. We believe that distributing infant formula in a conflict situation like Iraq is the only way to avoid children having to be hospitalized for malnutrition," Manuel Lannaud, the head of Doctors Without Borders Iraq mission wrote.

The various viewpoints presented this week prove that infant feeding is not a black and white issue, and policy debates should not be framed as formula versus breast milk—there is more nuance than that.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found opting to supplement with formula after first breastfeeding improves outcomes for infants and results in higher rates of breastfeeding afterward, and while the benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, they are sometimes overstated. Another recent study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found breastfeeding has no impact on a child's overall neurocognitive function by the time they are 16. Basically, parents should not be shamed for supplementing or choosing to use formula.

This, according to Department of Health and Human Services says national spokesperson Caitlin Oakley is why the HHS opposed the original draft of the breastfeeding resolution at the World Health Assembly (although critics and the initial NYT report suggest the United States delegation were acting in the interests of infant formula manufacturers).

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies," Oakley said in a statement.

That's true, but so is everything the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians presented in their op-ed, and that's why the U.S. should support breastfeeding policy.

Here's another truth: This is an issue with many perspectives and many voices. And we need to hear them all, because all parents need support in feeding their babies, whether it's with a breast, a bottle or both—and we're not getting it yet.

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