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I was in kindergarten when I rode the school bus for the first time. It was already very crowded when I boarded, and I was proud of myself for asking an older girl if I could squeeze onto the seat next to her. Then, the bus made a turn, I was unprepared, and I tipped into the aisle, catching myself with a hand to the floor. I wasn’t hurt at all – just very embarrassed – and I distinctly remember thinking, why don’t school buses have seat belts?

It’s a good question. All fifty states require us to buckle up in cars, and children must use car seats and booster seats until they have children of their own. (Kidding. It’s usually until they’re about 4′ 9″ and 10-12 years old.) Yet, when we wave goodbye to our most precious cargo as they board the school bus, they plop down on tacky brown pleather seats without another thought, and the bus rumbles off.


The American School Bus Council (ASBC) has my favorite answer, explaining that school buses are designed differently than passenger cars. “The children are protected like eggs in an egg carton – compartmentalized, and surrounded with padding and structural integrity to secure the entire container.” Large school buses are heavier and distribute the force of impact differently than passenger cars and light trucks do.

This exterior design, coupled with the interior’s high-backed bench seats situated closely together, make seat belts unnecessary. However, federal law does require seat belts on the small buses (let’s call them the half dozen egg cartons) because their weight and size are more similar to that of a small truck. But, I know – your biggest takeaway from all of this will be to envision a giant egg carton driving your kids to school from now on.

There are more reasons that our little Humpty Dumpties are safe on their school bus without a seat belt. School buses are inspected regularly, and they’re taller than most vehicles on the road. This lets the driver see better and raises the passenger section above the typical collision point of a car. Plus, its color and size make it highly visible and recognizable to other drivers, so, save for a few jerks, people know to stop for school buses.

The facts

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has done extensive research that supports the ASBC’s claims and determined that school buses are seven times safer than passenger cars. While more than 42,000 people are killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. every year, on average, six school-aged children die in school bus accidents as passengers. Of course, that’s six fatalities too many. Still, it’s undeniable that the safety stats favor the giant egg carton, especially when we consider that about 800 children die each year walking, biking or being driven to school.

Think of it this way: About 450,000 public school buses travel roughly 4.3 billion miles to transport 23.5 million children to and from school, and every single kid will step off of the bus safe and sound nearly every single day. When school buses do crash, the accidents are investigated, and the NHTSA references multiple studies, dating back to the 1980s, which determined seat belts would not have prevented the majority of injuries or fatalities that occurred. While this may not be helpful news to the families who lost children in such a tragic way, it should comfort the rest of us to know that these egg cartons on wheels are very safe, even if they don’t have seat belts.

It wouldn’t hurt to install them, though, right?

A seat belt may have saved my five-year-old self some embarrassment on the bus, but they still may not be as helpful as we’d hope. Seat belts are only effective when used properly. Otherwise, they can result in serious neck and abdominal injuries. Realistically, it’s nearly impossible to get and keep all kids strapped in safely on a school bus, given their squirmy nature and general hatred of being confined. Plus, who’s going to do it? The driver’s primary attention must be on the road, and aids don’t travel on every bus. For the small buses, preventing ejection trumps the risk of injury, and the little egg cartons hold fewer kids, so they’re easier to monitor.

There are even more practical matters to consider about installing seat belts. It costs extra money to do it, $8,000 to $12,000 more per bus, which comes out to about $117 million per state to phase in seat belts over ten years. Also, adding seat belts reduces the overall seating capacity of the bus because the belts take up space on the seat. This would require school districts to increase their bus fleet by up to 15% to transport the same number of people.

If towns aren’t able to add to their fleet, then more children would have to find alternative ways to get to school, and we already know that walking, biking, and driving in passenger cars is less safe than the bus. In fact, the NHTSA estimates we could see an increase of 10 to 19 fatalities a year if seat belts displaced some kids from their cushy egg carton. Consider also the added burden this could place on families who depend on the bus to get their children to and from school.

So, since the majority of injuries linked to school buses occur around them (think: a passing car hitting a kid getting off the bus), rather than in them, experts advise that money could be better spent on different preventative safety measures, rather than installing seat belts.

Why does it still feel like buses should have seat belts?

The National Safety Council and Ad Council really did an excellent job of drilling it into our heads that seat belts save lives, starting in the 1960s with their Buckle Up for Safety campaign. They did it so well that despite all of the data showing they’re not needed for the big egg cartons, the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) reports that six states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas) have laws mandating seat belts on school buses. In New York, for example, all school buses manufactured after July 1, 1987 are equipped with seat belts, but individual school districts decide whether children have to wear them, according to Patrick Kinane, the president and co-owner of Golden Sun Bus Services, Inc. in Oswego, New York.

In addition to the six states with laws on the books, the NCSL found that “twelve states have introduced bills that would require school buses to have seat belts installed,” though none of those bills have passed, yet. This perception that buses would be safer with seat belts is what Steven Colbert calls “truthiness,” i.e. when something is believed to be true, even if it’s not. Kinane said he often fields questions about seat belts from parents and sometimes even the kids. Parents are generally in favor of them, particularly for the youngest children.

The desire for seat belts comes from a good place. Everyone wants kids to be safe, and it makes intuitive sense that seat belts would help us achieve that, since they’re so effective in passenger cars. The reality, though, is that school buses are already the safest way to transport our kids. So, whether it’s due to a lack of research or a decision to ignore facts in favor of truthiness, the push for seat belts on school buses continues.

But, really, this is one debate where we should save our breath. We can wave goodbye to our kids as the school bus rumbles off without wringing our hands in worry. Mr. Kinane reminds us that “bus drivers care about the children they transport as much as they do their own children and often times will refer to them as ‘their kids.’ The children’s safety is the number one priority when they are transported back and forth to school.” When accidents do happen, these giant egg cartons are designed to protect our kids, and they do their job exceptionally well.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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