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Every now and then, especially on the weekend, it’s tempting to want to forgo the rigid bedtime routine in favor of the “movie night” your child is itching to have. After all, you figure, your preschooler’s exhausted – he’ll be asleep within five minutes. But then, without fail, you watch in horror as “Moana” not only captures his full attention for an hour-and-a-half, but he also begins bouncing from couch to couch belting out “How Far I’ll Go” and requesting another feature-length film, which would be fine and super fun if it wasn’t 10 p.m.


Sound at all familiar?

Recent studies have shown that children and adolescents are highly susceptible to sleep disruption from screen-based media use and exposure, far more so than adults. And an article published by the University of Colorado Boulder gets to the root of why. Authors at CU Boulder composed a comprehensive review of new literature published in the journal Pediatrics. The findings are quite eye opening (plenty of pun intended).

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The authors explain that children are more sensitive to light than adults, because their eyes are still developing. So light from digital media has a greater impact on their internal body clock. In one of the many studies reviewed on youth ages five to 17 from all over the world, researchers found that children’s melatonin levels fell twice as much as adults when exposed to the same amount and intensity of light.

Melatonin and sleep

So, what does that mean? Well, since melatonin is a hormone in the body that promotes sleep, suppressing it delays feelings of sleepiness, and also pushes back the timing of the body’s clock. Studies also show that short-wavelength “blue light” which emanates from hand-held electronics has an especially intense effect on melatonin, strongly suppressing it.

“Through the young eyes of a child, exposure to a bright blue screen in the hours before bedtime is the perfect storm for both sleep and circadian disruption,” says the first author of the study, Monique LeBourgeois.

But the sleep-disrupting effects of screen-time have more than biological and neurological underpinnings. Digital media in its various forms is also psychologically stimulating, say the authors of this sweeping review. Watching violent movie scenes or texting with friends can cause cognitive arousal, which is not, of course, conducive to falling sleep. Even just leaving a phone or computer on in the bedroom can hinder good sleep for kids and teens, and yet so many do it.

Data shows that more than 75 percent of youths have screen-based media in their bedrooms, 60 percent interact with them in the hour before bedtime, and 45 percent use their phones as an alarm.

Personally, I do all three and sometimes I even check or scroll through my phone when my baby wakes up to nurse during the night. I’ve noticed on the nights that I do reach for my phone that it’s harder for me to fall back to sleep. I can only imagine how much harder it would be for a young person jacked up on all that blue light and social media.

Dr. Pam Hurst-Della Pietra, founder of the nonprofit Children and Screens says, “The digital media landscape is evolving so quickly, we need our research to catch up just to answer some basic questions.” One of those questions is how screen time impacts very young children whose mobile media device use has tripled since 2011. According to a recent report from Commensense Media shared by CU Boulder, children under eight use mobile media devices an average of 48 minutes per day and many parents incorporate digital media into the bedtime routine, leaving many experts wondering about the implications.

Sleep study

LeBourgeois points out, “The preschool years are a very sensitive time of development during which use of digital media is growing more and more pervasive. There’s a lot we don’t know.” But she’s determined to learn more. This summer, LeBourgeois started a five-year, $2.5 million study funded by the National Institutes of Health that explores the amount of light it takes to impact sleep and circadian rhythms in young children. To do this, her study team goes into the homes of volunteer families and exposes children to varying intensities of light. They then collect saliva samples from the children to measure the change in melatonin levels and the timing of the biological clock. LeBourgeois hopes the results will demonstrate how little light it takes to affect sleep and circadian rhythms in kids and that this will inspire “science-based” screen-time guidelines for parents and device manufacturers.

The CU Boulder paper tells us that the majority of research reveals that more digital media use is linked to delayed bedtimes, fewer hours of sleep, and poorer sleep quality for children whose eyes, brains, and sleep patterns are still forming. But, as parents, it can be hard to know where to draw the line. In the increasingly digital age we live in, banning all electronics from our homes seems pretty unrealistic – not to mention unappealing, because what about “This Is Us?” But shrugging our shoulders and hoping the issue doesn’t rob our kids of too much precious sleep doesn’t seem like the right answer either.

Fortunately, LeBourgeois offers some helpful tips for parents about handling screen time at bedtime. She recommends that parents:

  • Limit children’s media use in the hour before bedtime.
  • Turn off all electronic media devices, including yours, at bedtime, and charge them in a central location outside bedrooms.
  • Remove all electronic media from your child or teen’s bedroom, including TVs, video games, computers, tablets, and cell phones.

That sounds like great advice that I’m going to keep in mind next time my son’s eyes light up and he says “Movie night!”

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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

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We all have pictures in our heads of what birth looks like even before we give birth. Sometimes these pictures are based on births we've witnessed in real life, but often our brains paint these pictures with memories of images we've seen on television or double-tapped on Instagram.

That is why we love how moms are posting their clear drape C-sections on Instagram, showing the world that this new kind of Cesarean delivery can be absolutely beautiful. By posting these pictures, mothers and birth photographers aren't just proving that C-section births are just as Insta-worthy as every other way women deliver, but they are also spreading awareness about clear drape C-sections, which are also known as "gentle Cesareans."

It is important for mamas to know that this is an option you can ask for and it is so beautiful.

What is a clear drape C-section? 

A clear drape C-section can be part of the trend medical professionals call "gentle Cesareans." The clear drape replaces the standard opaque blue one so that mama can look down and see her baby's first moments (although you can still have a gentle Cesarean even if you can't have a clear drape—we'll show you a great photo of what that can look like in a moment).

Basically, the clear drapes are part of a shift midwives and doctors are making to make Cesareans deliveries feel more like births and less like a cold medical procedure. The old standard ways of doing Cesareans have not been working for moms—so birth advocates and medical professionals are working to change that.

Just because a baby needs to be born via cesarean doesn't mean mama can't be a participant in her birth experience.

"Gentle Cesareans are a huge step in the right direction. We need to bring birth back to women. Women need options and choices, autonomy and respect. Becoming a mother is one of the most momentous events in a woman's lifetime—she deserves to have it be her best birth," says Motherly's Digital Education Editor, Diana Spalding, a midwife, pediatric nurse and founder of Gathered Birth.

Why the option of clear drapes is so important 

That first time you see your baby is so special and amazing, and most mothers want to see their child as soon as that baby is out in the world. But for many moms an opaque sheet can get in the way. According to the CDC, almost 32% of all births in America are C-sections. In Canada, the rate is just under 29%, and the UK sees a similar rate. A 2018 Instagram poll by Motherly found about 41% of participants had given birth via C-section.

So there's potential to help a lot of mothers feel more at ease in the OR. The gentle cesarean method isn't just about letting mama see her baby earlier, it's also about letting her bond with her baby sooner.

Gentle Cesareans are also about respecting that this isn't just a surgery, it is a birth, too. "When it's time for the baby to be born, the doctors help ease the baby out slowly—head, shoulder, abdomen, and then legs—much like what happens in a vaginal birth. Skin-to-skin bonding is often done right in the OR, and sometimes breastfeeding can even be initiated there too," says Spalding.

The gentle C-section lets mama be present 

Some people don't want clear drapes, but for other mothers, the clear drapes are a way for them to experience their birth from the vantage point they imagined for the life-changing moment. "With the clear drape, the woman has the ability to look down and actually watch her baby be born (don't worry—she won't be able to see much of the actual surgery because her belly will be in the way)," Spalding explains.

Because of the angle mothers aren't getting a close-up look at the surgical part of the procedure, so clear drape cesareans aren't as gory as some would assume. It's really more similar to how a vaginal birth happens in that mom is not seeing everything the doctors are, but is able to see her baby as soon as possible, and that is something to smile about.

C-section births are births and need to be respected 

A gentle Cesarean is a more holistic approach to a standard C-section because it brings the focus back on mom as a person, not as a belly in need of surgery. Often, medical teams try to make gentle C-sections as family-focused as possible, and sometimes are even able to accommodate parts of a mother's birth plan that would be abandoned with a traditional C-section, like incorporating music or other therapeutic, relaxing elements.

It's about making the operating room as pleasant a place as possible and respecting mom.

Gentle Cesareans still happen without the clear drapes

Sometimes, for medical reasons, hospital policy or because mama requests it, the clear drapes are not an option. But that doesn't mean that mom can't have a gentle Cesarean. Even with traditional blue drapes, medical teams are making efforts to help mama and baby bond as soon as possible.

Sometimes, that means there's a little window in the sheet and baby gets passed through to mom for instant skin-to skin-contact. Other times, it looks different, depending on medical need.

We love how mothers and birth photographers are sharing these stories and photos because one thing is as clear as the drapes: C-sections are just as beautiful as every other kind of birth.

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It's no secret that babywearing has benefits for everyone, and if you're in the market for a new baby carrier, you're in luck, mama.

The born free WIMA baby carrier is a mama favorite with 5-star reviews to prove it—and it's on *major* sale right now. Regularly $129.99, this carrier is only $37.46 right now on Amazon. (Yes, nearly $100 off!)

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Designed to grow with your child, it features four modes that let you baby wear however is most comfortable for you and your little based on their weight: newborn/front in-facing, front in-facing, front out-facing and rear-worn. We love that you don't need a newborn insert for this! (Not that we've previously lost ours before or anything...)

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The adjustable straps ensure your baby (up to 45 pounds!) is always supported and you're not hurting your shoulder or back while babywearing, and it has these super easy press and release shoulder and side buckles to help you get baby in and out quickly, on your own.

Other fun features: storage pockets, pacifier loop, a key ring and mesh panels so that both you and baby don't get too sweaty or hot when they're all snuggled up.

We're not sure how long this deal will last so grab it while you can!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Dear mom whose world is about to be rocked by having two precious babies under two,

I see you.

The disbelief you felt at seeing a positive pregnancy test just mere days after celebrating your firstborn's first birthday? I've been there.

The immense mom guilt telling you that by adding another member to your family that you're robbing your first child of special time that should/could/would be spent as an only child? I've been there.

The already tired eyes that are a constant reminder that you'll probably never sleep again after baby #2 arrives because let's face it, you're still getting up at night to deal with a teething toddler. I've been there.

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The fear that you'll have to say goodbye to the tiny bit of a social life you had left since having a baby the first time around? I've been there.

Or the worry that there's absolutely no way there's going to be enough room in your heart to love a second baby nearly as much as you love your first? I've been there, too.

And then baby #2 arrives.

The days are long because one starts to blend into the next, with no end in sight. The days are hard and the nights are even harder. And the days are very, very full. But so is my heart. As yours will be, too.

Because from here on out, very few things will top the moment you witness your all-of-a-sudden grown-up toddler make their little sibling smile for the very first time.

Or the first (third, 12th or 20th) time you get both your toddler and baby to nap at the same time.

The time that your toddler who can't share a single one of their toys to save their life offers to share one with their baby sibling.

The first day that you not just survive, but *thrive,* while home alone with two kiddos.

Oh, and the first time you get both kids out of the house together? Don't even get me started.

The moment you realize that you didn't even have to tell your toddler to "be gentle" because it finally clicked and they knew what they were supposed to do all on their own.

And the time that your toddler says their first unprompted "I love you" to their sibling? Well, I still haven't recovered from that one.

The truth is, there will be good days and there will be terrible, poop-hits-the-fan-and-there's-no-recovering-from-it kind of days. But on the best of days, the worst of days, and everything in between, there will never be a better mother for your two babies than you.

And one day, you'll wake up and realize that it really has gotten easier. I promise.

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To the family who's just received a childhood cancer diagnosis,

I want you to know that I see you. All of you.

I am the nurse who admitted your child to the oncology unit to rule out "something serious."

You watched me draw your child's blood, and help them change into their first of so many hospital gowns, and lift them onto the stretcher so they could get their CAT scan.

You probably don't know that I had to steel myself in the bathroom for a minute before I could walk into your room to be with you as the doctor told you that it was, in fact, something serious.

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You probably didn't know I was even there. How would you? Time warped, your vision tunneled, your breath left your body, and finding a way to inhale it back in was close to impossible.

You probably didn't see me. But I saw you.

You watched as I hung the first bag of chemotherapy, and I gave your child medicine for the pain—and the nausea, and the itching, and the heartburn. You worried about side effects. You asked 100 questions but couldn't hear the answers. You stared at that bag of chemo, simultaneously hating it and willing it to work.

We stood together in the bathroom. Your child between us, all three of us looking into the mirror as together we shaved your child's head so that the hair loss wouldn't feel so dramatic.

I want you to know that while you were watching your child in that mirror, I was watching you.

I watched you choke back tears, and smile bravely at your baby, and tell them how cool they looked with a shaved head. And when your child went back to bed, and you scooped the trimmings into your hands and wept over them, I watched you then, too.

The truth is that I watch you a lot.

Because while of course, it is my job is to take care of your child, it is also my job to take care of all of you. Because the reality is that childhood cancer is a family diagnosis. The child is going through something really difficult. It's okay to acknowledge that you are too.

The parents. You want to absorb every part of this diagnosis so it becomes yours, and not your child's. You would give anything to take the pain away from them. Please hear me: You already hold mountains worth of angst, worry, pain. You make your child's burden lighter every day. I promise you this.

You reflect on how two weeks ago, you had the annoying disagreement with a co-worker that made you upset all day—and that you would do almost anything to have that be the worst part of your day again.

You watch people walking on the streets outside the hospital, and you wonder how they can just go on with their lives while this is happening. You look at the sun and wonder how it has the audacity to shine.

You worry about the bills. You worry about your job. You worry about your other children, your sanity, your partner.

Your child carries this illness, but you carry the world.

The siblings. Who are scared and confused. Who knows that something is wrong, even though we try to shelter you as much as possible. You're too smart for that, I know. You understand more than we share, and I see you.

You want your brother or sister to be better because you love them, and because this is really hard for you. You're just a kid, too, after all. It stinks that you had to drop out of basketball because no one could take you to practice this season. It is not fun to spend your afternoons in the hospital, and weekends with a babysitter. Everyone around you is kind of on edge, and it doesn't feel fair right now. You know what? You're right. It's not fair, and it's okay to be mad.

I want you to know that it's also okay to be happy. If you go to school and forget about what's going on for a while, or if you find yourself laughing a deep kid belly-laugh, it's okay. It's great, actually.

The grandparents. Who hurt for multiple generations—for the child who has been diagnosed, and for that child's parent who is reeling, who will always be your baby.

The village. Who wants desperately to help and has no idea how. Who goes to bed at night and stares at the ceiling, unable to shake the onslaught of emotions. Who feels guilty and blessed and terrified as they look at their own healthy child, and murmur the words, "what if?"

To all of you. Your child is my inspiration, and you are my heroes. Your child's journey is made infinitely better by your presence in it.

Bravery is not the absence of fear and strength is not the absence of struggle. You are scared and struggling, and you are the bravest and strongest people I know.

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