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Last spring, Target recalled over a half-million water-absorbing toys, including Hatch and Grow Easter Eggs.

The story was one of those rare political unifiers. Commenters on Fox News’ coverage were indistinguishable from CNN’s, with the majority of respondents chiding kids without the “common sense” to avoid eating toys or blaming parents for not watching their young children closely enough. Many noted that the recall was overkill because no children had been harmed.

The egg case reflects a surprising problem facing today’s parents: toys are now so safe that we tend not to take safety warnings seriously. By many metrics, kids’ products are safer than ever. However, parents need to remain vigilant, especially in light of a current vacancy at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The “Year of the Recall”

Just 10 years ago, toy safety was consistently making headlines. Consumer Reports dubbed 2007 the “Year of the Recall” after news coverage demonstrated the various barriers to toy safety.

In May of that year, the Chicago Tribune ran a pair of stories about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s failure to act upon warnings about Magnetix toys, specifically, the super-strong magnets that, when swallowed, tended to rip through children’s intestines. The first part of that series focused on the gutting of the CPSC over the previous two decades. Its budget at the time was so small that one congressional aide interviewed for the piece called it a “rounding error.”

The second part of the series emphasized problems resulting from the Toy Industry Association’s role in setting voluntary safety testing standards. The Tribune’s coverage later received a Pulitzer Prize.

In June, the New York Times focused on China, which was implicated in many many of 2007’s product recalls, including a recall of 1.5 million Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys due to lead in the surface paint. According to that reporting, the CPSC’s staff had recently been cut by 10 percent, making it more difficult for the agency to inspect imported toys.

In August, an article published in the journal Injury Prevention revealed that many recalled items were still being sold online. The researchers randomly selected 141 items recalled by the CPSC and searched auctions for those items. During a 30-day period, the researchers identified 190 auctions with a recalled or “probably recalled” item. (“Probably recalled” referred to items with a matching product description and/or image, but without the additional confirmation of a model number.) 69 percent of the auctions resulted in a sale.

In December, NPR’s investigations showed that even when manufacturers issued a toy recall, the toys still posed danger, because very few were returned to companies. Many toy recalls were based on lead contamination. When parents responded to these recalls by throwing toys in the trash, they merely sent the hazard to a new location.

Improvements to toy safety

In response to these toy safety concerns, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act by a vote of 407-0 in December 2017. The CPSIA passed the Senate in March 2008. The bill drastically increased both funding and staffing for the CPSC.

The CPSIA restricts the amount of lead and phthalates allowable in children’s products. The law mandates third-party testing of children’s products. The law also requires permanent tracking information to be placed on all children’s products.

Since the passage of the CPSIA, there are drastically fewer recalls because toys are safer from the start. The large increases in CPSC staff have meant that more dangerous toys are discovered before they ever make it to market. In 2011, the CPSC established a Beijing office, which allows it to educate and inspect toy manufacturers. The CPSC examines 8,000 shipments each year to ensure products are safe before they make it to stores.

Due to higher standards, when toys are recalled, the health risks posed are often less serious than toy recalls from the previous decade. In 2007, the CPSC issued 172 toy recalls, 19 of which were for lead-contaminated toys. In 2016, the CPSC issued only 24 toy recalls, one of which was lead-related. The toy in question was a glockenspiel, for a recall of 150 units with one contaminated paint color.

The new regulations also mean that more recalled toys are being removed from circulation. The CPSIA applies to all sellers, from toy industry giants to online retailers to flea market vendors to garage sales.

U.S. online retailers have clear policies about recalled products. In its recalled items policy, Ebay makes clear that sellers are legally prohibited from selling recalled items. Amazon includes similar language for its third-party sellers.

Sellers who list products that had been under recall often do a thorough job explaining why the items are available for sale. A listing for the Thomas & Friends Yellow Box Car, which was included in the 2007 recall described in the above New York Times report, includes a disclaimer about the product along with its lead-free paint codes. A Fire Brigade train from that same recall indicates that the item being sold is a replacement item from that recall. However, no system is perfect. Multiple listings for the Old Slow Coach suggest that at least one of those recalled Thomas trains may still be available for purchase from Chinese sellers.

The CPSIA allowed for better consumer notification systems, including registration cards for cribs and other large products. Combined with recalls.gov, a registry for all recalled products in the U.S, these measures have improved the return rate for recalled items.

In 2007, Mattel reported that only six percent of its recalled toys were returned. In September of this year, CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle reported that the CPSC has a 65 percent return effectiveness rate. That rate applies to all of the 15,000 products overseen by the CPSC. Toy companies and toy sellers contacted for this article declined to provide data on their recall return rates.

An emerging safety concern

Parents’ current responses to toy recalls make sense because current regulation has made toys impressively safe. But while we’re not paying attention, toys – as well as the other 15,000 products monitored by the CPSC – are poised to become more dangerous.

On January 30, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, which included his demand that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination.”

The EO prompted a response from the CPSC’s then-chairman Elliot Kaye. Although executive orders do not apply to independent agencies, Kaye’s practice at the CPSC was “to follow in spirit EOs that advance sound public policy and do not conflict with our critical public health and safety mission.” Kaye voiced his strong disagreement with this EO, which he claimed “would cruelly and unfairly have us pit vulnerable populations against each other when it comes to making safety decisions.”

In keeping with many political appointees at the start of the new administration, Kaye resigned his chairmanship on February 9.

President Trump has nominated Dana Biaocco to be the new CPSC chairman. Biaocco’s appointment is concerning because of her role defending companies in consumer safety lawsuits.

One notable item on Biaocco’s resume is her work with Mattel in defending itself against toy safety lawsuits. Her track record defending large corporations against safety complaints makes her a unique candidate to lead a government association designed to protect consumers from safety hazards. As the Daily News puts it, “Baiocco appears to join the list of Trump nominees who built careers doing the exact opposite of what their federal government role will entail.”

The Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the CPSC focused on how the Reagan administration paved the way for deregulation and inattention that resulted in the preventable deaths of children. Although toys seem safe to us now, parents have a responsibility to follow the CPSC’s new direction closely to ensure that 2007 does not repeat itself.

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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.


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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