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Did you know that bravery was a prerequisite for parenthood? I have to admit, I didn’t realize how often I would have to muster up my courage as a mom.

I think the first time it truly hit me was when I was in the hospital about to give birth. I have never been more frightened in my entire life. I wanted to run as far away from that place as possible. But then some deep-seated instinct kicked in, because I knew I had to be brave for the child I was about to welcome into this world. 

Over and over again, throughout my eight-and-a-half years as a parent, I’ve had to be brave for my child’s sake. Whether it was the first time I gave him solid food, let go of him in the swimming pool, sent him off to preschool, or watched him wave goodbye from the camp bus, each of these scary feats were actually critical steps in his development.

As most of us are well aware, there are so many more moments ahead (cell phones, overnight camp, dating, driving, college, etc.) when we’ll have to be courageous for our kids, even if it feels like we are jumping off a cliff.

The latest bravery test for parents involves peanuts. Even though many of us grew up with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a staple lunch option, we now see peanut-free classrooms and lunchrooms, and are very cautious about serving food with peanuts during playdates and birthday parties.

This is because over the last 10 years the number of peanut allergies has doubled in countries where parents are advised to avoid peanuts during pregnancy, lactation, and infancy. According to CNN, two percent of American children currently suffer from a peanut allergy.

A peanut allergy is serious business. It can lead to anaphylaxis and even death if allergic children are exposed. Unfortunately, no treatment exists for this type of allergy, so the only option is to avoid the trigger. This causes inconvenience and panic on a daily basis for parents, schools, and others responsible for children’s lives.

In fact, for years we’ve been told to not give our children peanuts at a young age because it could cause them to develop an allergy. Many parents, myself included, avoided giving their children peanuts until they were at least three years old, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). But many scientists now believe that exposing our children to peanuts at an early age will help their immune system to better tolerate the peanut proteins, and therefore prevent a peanut allergy from forming.

New guidelines issued this month advise parents to introduce peanuts into their children’s diets as early as possible to protect them against peanut allergies later in life.

New recommendations

Collaborating with 25 professional organizations, federal agencies, and patient advocacy groups, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) just released new guidelines for introducing peanuts into a child’s diet.

The recommendations fall into the following three categories:

Children who are believed to be most likely to develop a peanut allergy

This recommendation is for infants who have severe asthma, an egg allergy, or both. Parents have two options: 1) Either introduce your child to food containing peanuts at four to six months or 2) visit an allergist who will administer a skin prick test or a blood test to determine whether your child is allergic to peanuts.

If your child is not allergic, you can introduce peanut-containing foods at four to six months. If your infant is allergic, you should refrain from feeding any products containing peanuts.

Children with mild to moderate eczema

These children are less likely to have an allergy. You should introduce peanut-containing foods when your child is six months old.

Children with no eczema/food allergies, and no family history of either

These children can be fed peanut-containing foods at the same time they are introduced to other solid foods.

No matter which category your child seems to fall into, the experts still encourage you to consult with your child’s pediatrician for help determining if your little one is at risk and how to safely add peanuts to their diet. It is good practice to keep your pediatrician in the loop when you plan to introduce peanuts in case there is an adverse reaction. (This is where the bravery really comes into play!)

Why the change?

Medical experts began to question the existing guidance on peanuts as they saw a major difference in the number of allergy cases in various countries depending on when children began eating peanut products. There were lower rates of allergies in countries where children typically eat high levels of peanut protein starting in infancy compared to countries like the United States where peanuts are avoided during the first few years of childhood.

As scientists explored this trend, they found that eating peanuts can actually help prevent allergies. This idea is known as the dual-allergen exposure hypothesis, which suggests that eating small doses of the allergen at a young age can help children develop a tolerance and reduce their chances of forming an allergy.

A large medical trial, known as the Learning Early About Peanut allergy (LEAP) study, led to these new recommendations. It is the first and only large, randomized prevention trial for peanut allergies. More than 600 children participated in the study. Each child was randomly assigned to one of two groups: The first group ate low-dose peanut-containing food three times a week starting in the first year of life and continuing to age five. The children in the second group avoided eating peanuts for the first five years of their lives.

The children in the first group were given peanut butter or Bamba, a peanut-flavored puff snack produced in Israel, instead of whole peanuts because they’re a choking hazard for young children. All the children participating in the study were considered high risk for developing a peanut allergy due to family history or having eczema or an egg allergy.

At age five, the children in both groups were given peanuts and observed. The study found that 18 percent of the children who had been avoiding peanuts had a peanut allergy at age five, while only one percent of the children who had been introduced to peanut-containing foods at a young age were allergic.

According to experts who conducted the study, this result showed that early introduction of peanut flour had a prevention effect of more than 80 percent. They also evaluated the children a year later and discovered that all the kids who did not have an allergy at age five still did not have peanut allergy at age six.

Advice for feeding your child peanuts for the first time

You may be very nervous to feed your child peanuts for the first time. Fortunately, the NIH guidelines walk you through the best way to approach this risky moment:

1 | Prepare a full portion of a peanut-containing food such as:


  • Peanut butter dissolved or thinned with water
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanut flour or powder mixed with a fruit or vegetable puree
  • Several pieces of Bamba, a puffed snack containing peanuts that can be softened with water.


2 | Offer your infant a small part of the peanut serving on the tip of a spoon.

3 | Wait 10 minutes.

4 | If there is no allergic reaction after this small taste, then slowly offer the rest of the snack. According to the Mayo Clinic, typical allergic reactions to peanuts include runny nose, skin reactions, like hives or swelling, itchy or tingling in or around the mouth and throat, choking or gagging, shortness of breath, or wheezing.

It is a good idea to give your child the first bite of peanut-containing food during the day when your pediatrician is in the office. Keep the number handy just in case you notice an allergic reaction.

Feeding our baby peanuts for the first time may feel like risky business, but we now know that it’s the best way to prevent an allergy from forming later on.

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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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