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The powerful way 'This is Us' is creating real change for preemie parents

Actress Chrissy Metz (Kate) is "still grappling" with how this season ends.

The powerful way 'This is Us' is creating real change for preemie parents

We are two Tuesdays away from the season finale of This is Us, and while series creator Dan Fogelman has a lot of surprises planned for the April 2nd episode, fans are still recovering from little Jack's premature birth earlier this month and TBH, so are we. 😭

But there will likely be more tears over the next two episodes. Even the cast was pretty shocked by scripts for the season three finale. Actress Chrissy Metz, who brings the character Kate to life, is "still grappling" with the unexpected turn of events, according to Glamour.

Offscreen, Metz is coming to terms with how her portrayal of a new mama in the NICU has impacted the audience. After the birth episode, Metz was touched by how many preemie parents took to social media to explain how they saw their own families in her work. "Just the outpouring of pictures and stories from all of these parents who have these thriving children who were born at 1 or 2 pounds, it's like, 'This is why we get to do what we do, because people are relating to it, people are changed by it,'" Metz said at a recent cast appearance covered by Variety. "It's like, 'I get to be a part of that?' It's banana pants."

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As ET reports, Metz brought her personal experience to the role, as her now almost 4-year-old niece was in the ICU for nine months when she was a baby.

For parents of preemies, seeing their own experience reflected on screen is so powerful, and by showing the rest of the world just how tough NICU life can be, This is Us may help future parents be supported.

Research proves that having a baby come early is traumatic for parents, and puts them at a higher risk for depression and anxiety. But it also shows that when moms perceive they have social support during this hard season of life, that "seems to inhibit from depressive symptoms."

It's teaching us how to help

For people who haven't experienced a premature birth, seeing how hard it is playing out on This is Us might make then more likely to offer meaningful support to parents who go through it in the future.

Often times, well-meaning friends and family say to parents of preemies, "if there's anything I can do for you, let me know," but parents are often way too overwhelmed to take them up on this vague offer of support. That's why parents who've been through it recommend being more specific with your offer of support.

Instead of "What can I do for you?" try, "Can I go walk your dog or mow the lawn?" or "Can I take your older kids to the movies?"

It reminds parents they are not alone

Little Jack's premature birth wasn't the first time This is Us tackled this difficult subject. In season two there was another premature birth, and the show tackled the trauma of losing a baby.

"Memories of our own premature deliveries flooded our minds, hearts and tear ducts. Remembering how we felt. How our partners looked. The way people talked around us instead of to us," Leah Harper, founder of Preemie Mom Camp wrote after the triplets' delivery in season two.

For Harper and other mothers who've been through premature births and infant loss, the episode reminded them that other families out there in the world understand what they've been through and that there is hope for the future after this season of life.

It's bringing preemie parents together

Studies show that being a NICU parent can leave moms and dads feeling isolated, but that peer-to-peer support from other NICU parents (in person or on the internet) is hugely beneficial and protects against depression and anxiety.

When Kate and Toby welcomed Jack into their fictional world, hundreds of parents were prompted to share their real-life preemie stories on social media and in doing so, they connected with other parents who've been through the same thing.

This is Us proves that sometimes television and comments sections can feel like a cathartic hug.

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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