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When you’re a kid, every day is a new discovery. When my son was in the thick of the “why?” stage, I was constantly taken aback by how much knowledge I take for granted. Seeing the world through his eyes reminded me how much there is to learn about the world around you before it becomes commonplace.


Eventually, our kids’ scientific curiosity shifts from trying to figure out how the world works (Where does the sun go at night? Why is snow cold?) to investigating how they can change it. Kids tinker and experiment as much as scientists in labs do. Their experiments just might be more along the lines of “How fast can I make this toy car fly across the living room?” or “Do peanut butter and cheese sandwiches taste delicious or disgusting?”

Many parents are seeking out STEM-focused toys and activities to encourage and develop this natural curiosity in their kids. But they may not have to wait very long to see results. From astronomy to paleontology, kids have been making scientific discoveries for centuries, long before they could drive.

These four kids became scientists, not because they were uncommonly brilliant or because their parents were, but because they paid attention and kept asking questions.

Parent Co. partnered with Tenka Labs because they believe every kid is born curious.

 

Mary Anning, Paleontology

Mary Anning was a paleontologist fossil collector who grew up poor in England in the 1840s and lost her father at age 11. When she was 12, she and her brother found the first Icthyosaurus skeleton – a Temnodontosaurus platyodon. They sold the skeleton to a paleontologist, who wrote the first ever scientific paper about the ichthyosaur. Because Mary and her brother were children, and poor, they received no credit in the scientific paper.

Mary continued to collect and sell fossils in order to support her family for the rest of her life. Even though she did not have the same educational opportunities that other scientists had, she threw herself into studying anatomy and eventually became an expert in fossil removal.

When she was 24, she discovered the first Plesiosaurus skeleton. While she never was fully recognized as a scientist by the elite of her day, she did eventually gain fame and recognition. Two species of fish, Acrodus anningiae and Belenostomus anningiae, are named after her.

 

Kathryn Aurora Gray and Nathan Gray, Astronomy

In 2010, Kathryn Gray turned 10 years old and also became the youngest person to ever discover a supernova – a record that had, for a time, been held by her own father. Amateur astronomy was a family hobby for the Grays, and Kathryn had been asking her dad to show her how to search for supernovae.

The Grays used a computer program that compared images of the night sky taken through a telescope by a family friend. The program layers old and new photos of galaxies, and if an image is not present in both pictures, it will appear as if it is blinking.

Within 15 minutes of looking at the pictures, Kathryn noticed a blinking light. That light was a supernova, which has since been verified and named 2010LT. The supernova is roughly 240 million light years away, in the constellation of Camelopardalis in galaxy UGC3378.

The youngest supernova discoverer title, however, now belongs to Kathryn’s brother, Nathan. In 2013, Nathan found a supernova in the constellation of Draco in galaxy PGC 61330. He was 33 days younger than his sister at the time of his discovery.

Matthew Berger, Paleoarchaeology

Finding an old bone would be the highlight of any nine-year-old’s summer vacation, but discovering a new species of hominids is a whole different story.

Matthew Berger was on an archaeological dig with his archaeologist father in South Africa in 2008 when he made his discovery. He found pieces of a partial skeleton of a young male, and his father soon found the skeleton of an older female nearby.

The team of archaeologists later determined that the fossils were a new species of hominids – early precursors to humans – and named them Australopithecus sediba. It turns out that the fossils Matthew discovered were nearly two million years old.

Ethan Manuell, Technology

Experimenting with toys for a school science fair led to a discovery that helps improve the lives of people who wear hearing aids. Fourteen-year-old Ethan Manuell, who has worn a hearing aid since he was four, converted some vibrating toy bugs he found in his toy box to work with zinc hearing aid batteries. He found that the batteries, when left exposed to oxygen for five minutes before installing, lasted 85 percent longer.

The typical hearing aid battery lasts two to seven days, but Ethan’s five-minute discovery means some models can last up to three days longer, saving hearing aid wearers $70 a year.

Like Mary, Kathryn, Nathan, Matthew, and Ethan, all children are equipped with innate curiosity and can benefit from the opportunity to make discoveries, regardless of their parents’ professions. Whether an astronomer, a carpenter, a Certified Public Accountant, or a stay-at-home parent, there are countless ways to cultivate your kids’ natural scientist streak.

Encouraging a ton of free play outside is a great place to start. Building forts, digging holes, damming streams, constructing miniature fairy worlds in the undergrowth, or just laying around on the grass long enough to notice the sounds of crickets and birds all add to a child’s stockpile of wonder. These kinds of activities also create opportunities for skill-building and success that are completely free from the constraints of “failure.”

Exposing children to new and challenging situations (why not tackle that big kid Circuit Cubes set or try a new instrument?) both stretches their skills and shows that you believe in their abilities. It’s also important to help them see that there’s no one right way to do things, whether playing a sport, making a potato cannon, or helping out with dinner.

Your kids will become flexible thinkers and be more likely to experiment if they are given the agency to test, tweak, miss the mark, and try again. Together you can explore the many ways to tackle a single question or problem (e.g. are we better off today that we were 100 years ago?) and teach them to look at “facts” from multiple angles.

Allow your kids the freedom to follow their natural whys and how comes, and they will become keen observers of the world, well poised to uncover the next five-eyed insect, or maybe just fall in love with the world that surrounds them – which might be the best thing you can offer them.

Parent Co. partnered with Tenka Labs because they believe every kid is born curious.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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