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The Safest (and Coolest!) New Car Features and 5 Fresh Rides That Have Them

Purchasing a new family vehicle is no small undertaking. It’s a significant investment and one that impacts your family’s quality of life. This year, automobile manufacturers brought their A-game to the family table with a variety of cars, trucks, and SUVs designed to make family time on the road safer and parents’ lives easier. Many of the new 2017/2018 models come loaded with life-saving features and technology designed to help Mom and Dad so everyone can enjoy the ride.


The following are some of the features you should know about before buying your next automobile.

Safety features

Safety is at the top of every parent’s list. These features – some old and some new – have the ability stop a collision or minimize the impact when one occurs.

Airbag weight sensors

Airbags are the first thing most parents think of when it comes to automobile safety, but they pose a risk for young children. The weight sensors solve this conundrum by determining the size and age of the front passenger seat’s occupant. It only deploys the airbag if an adult is riding shotgun during a collision.

Blind spot monitors and cross-traffic alert

There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than changing lanes in traffic with a car full of kids. The blind spot monitor detects vehicles approaching or positioned in the adjacent lanes and warns the driver so they can maneuver with confidence.

Lane departure alert

Tired or distracted drivers receive an alert when they begin to leave their lane without using the turn signal in advance. Some versions of this feature will apply corrective steering.

Braking technology and collision alert

Any feature that helps minimize the chances of getting in a wreck is a bonus, but did you know that some vehicles can stop themselves when they sense an impending collision? Low-speed forward automatic braking and brake assist technology automatically apply the brakes when it detects imminent impact.

Another feature that gives you a chance to act is forward collision alert, which provides audible and visual signals to let you know that a collision may be approaching.

Safety alert seat

While most kids are angels in the car, there is the occasional screaming or crying fit that takes place. If you’re unable to hear your alerts or too distracted to see the visual aid, a safety alert seat comes in handy. These seats provide haptic feedback when activated so you can feel the alert.

Post-collision braking system

Designed on the premise that a collision consists of a series of events that follow the initial impact, automatic post-collision braking applies the brakes when it detects the first impact. This reduces the energy and damage that takes place after.

Park assist features

From parallel parking to backing in and out of perpendicular parking spaces, park assist features make bringing your ride to a stop easy. With young kids aboard, sometimes you need to get out of the car fast!

Front and rear park assist activates at speeds below five miles per hour. It uses ultrasonic sensors mounted on the front and rear bumpers to detect nearby objects (up to four feet from the front bumper and up to eight feet from the rear). It delivers distance-to-object alerts on the dashboard monitor via seat pulses and with a beeping sound.

When nearing an object, the bars in front or back of a small car icon on the monitor illuminate and change from yellow to amber to red to indicate distance (red being the least distance). The system also delivers seat pulses and beeps when the vehicle is in the “close zone,” which is one foot from the front and two feet from the back.

Park assist with rear vision camera

When equipped with both park assist and a rear vision camera, a warning triangle appears on the vehicle’s screen revealing the object’s location and distance.

Rear seat reminder

Weary parents get forgetful, and that’s why the rear seat reminder is an ideal feature in every family’s vehicle. Never forget a bag of groceries or car seat again. This reminder creates an audible and visible alert that reads “Rear Seat Reminder/Look in Rear Seat,” encouraging the driver to look back.

Make-life-easier features

Safety always comes first when it comes to making big purchases, but every parent deserves a little help. The following features make life easier for Mom and Dad in the driveway and on the road.

Keyless unlock

While this may not be one of the newest features on the market, for most parents it’s a must. Whether you are hauling groceries, clothes, or kids from the car to the house or vice versa, chances are your hands aren’t free. Keyless unlock via exterior door handles with extended range remote keyless entry means you won’t need to set stuff down or take extra trips to get into or secure your vehicle.

Push button start

No more digging in your purse, man bag, or pockets for the key, just push a button and go. Simple but wonderful – it’s the little things that count.

App-connect

Use your phone to lock and unlock your automobile, start the engine, check your tire pressure, and perform diagnostics from anywhere. This feature is a dream come true for multi-taskers. That’s right, some new models come with the ability to stay connected to your mobile device via an app – a convenience that also offers peace of mind.

Entertainment packages

While keeping the kids unplugged as much as possible is a goal that most parents try to meet, long rides and road trips are the perfect excuses for some screen time and great tunes. Many of the newest automobiles come equipped with entertainment packages that have everything from rear seat DVD/Blu-Ray players to wireless headphones so your kids can watch their favorite flick while you enjoy singing along to your favorite band.

4G Wi-Fi hotspot

In the case of emergency or when on-call at work, it’s nice to know you’re connected. Lots of new vehicles come with a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot so you never have to worry about missing that important message.

OnStar (or similar net-connected services)

This feature offers parents all kinds of peace of mind. Many new automobiles come with the OnStar button, giving drivers instant access to a suite of services including 24/7 emergency response, security, turn-by-turn navigation, Wi-Fi, and diagnostics.

Choose your ride

Vehicles have come a long way and now you know some of the life-saving (and life-enhancing) features to look for when shopping for your next automobile. The following are some of the newest wheels to hit the road. While each is different from the other, they’re all designed with families in mind. Discover the one fits your unique needs the best.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica (Hybrid)

If your clan has grown in numbers or is into activities that demand travel and hauling gear, this minivan is your dream come true. It is the only plug-in hybrid minivan on the market, so you can feel good about your time on the road. The Pacifica’s spacious interior gives everyone room to relax and the fixed glass pane over the third-row seating area means even the back passengers stay comfortable for long periods of time.

Additionally, the Pacifica comes with the following features:|

  • Park assist with camera
  • Cruise control with stop and hold to maintain the distance from other vehicles and bring itself to a controlled stop in set circumstances
  • Forward collision warning
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • U-Connect theater entertainment system
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Remote start

The Chrysler Hybrid Pacifica starts at $41,995.

2018 Buick Enclave Avenir

This vehicle doesn’t go on sale until the fall, but it’s worth the wait. Buick pulled out all of the stops in an effort to exceed the needs of the modern family with this mid-sized SUV. The three rows of seating mean you can haul your kids and their friends around town. A packed vehicle doesn’t have to mean stale air as this ride comes equipped with an ionizer that cleans the air by attracting airborne contaminants and reducing bacteria, viruses, dust, pollen, and more, without filters or maintenance!

The Enclave’s athletic appearance is only one of its many exceptional features. It will keep your family safe and relaxed with the following:

  • Blind spot cross traffic alert
  • Safety alert seat
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Park assist
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • OnStar
  • 4G Wi-Fi hotspot

Pricing for the Buick Enclave Avenir will be announced later this year.

2017 VW Golf Alltrack

The family wagon just got rugged. The Alltrack is deceptively sleek-looking and designed to navigate rough terrains and all types of weather conditions. If your family likes the outdoors, they’ll love this ride. With a five-person capacity, plenty of cargo room, and a roof rack, you can take your family on the adventures they’ve been dreaming of. Regardless of where your passengers sit, no one misses a thing with the panoramic sunroof that tilts and slides. Road trips don’t just look better in the Alltrack, they feel better with these additional features:

  • Forward collision alert
  • Brake assist
  • Park assist with camera
  • Lane departure warning
  • Automatic crash notification system (automatically notifies an operator)
  • Post-collision braking system
  • App-connect
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Discover Media navigation

The VW Golf Alltrack starts at $25,850.

2017 Lexus GX 460

The Lexus GX is an SUV designed with families in mind. Its chiseled looking exterior matches the thoughtful approach to the interior design and seating arrangement. This ride comes with second-row captain’s seats, which means each of the kids (or teens) have their own space and zero reasons to complain about one another. With three rows available, this is a spacious ride packed with features including:

  • Airbag weight sensors
  • Lexus Enform Safety Connect (for roadside emergency assistance)
  • Blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert
  • Brake assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Park assist
  • Collision alert (*This vehicle also has a driver attention monitor which warns you when it detects an obstacle if you are facing away from the road)
  • Dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system
  • Navigation
  • App-connect
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Added bonus feature: subscription-free weather and traffic

The Lexus GX 460 starts at $51,680.

2017 GMC Sierra Denali

Who says trucks aren’t family vehicles? The Sierra Denali is proof to the contrary and demonstrates how this type of automobile can accommodate everyone in your crew while taking care of your more rugged work and play needs. The bold-looking Sierra seats six comfortably and its spacious cab makes passengers forget that they aren’t in a car or SUV.

With a large cargo area to boot, there is plenty of room for luggage, gear, or anything at all you might want to bring along. The 2017 Sierra comes with:

  • Forward collision alert
  • Front and rear park assist
  • Lane departure warning
  • Safety alert seat
  • Brake assist
  • Rear seat reminder
  • Airbag weight sensing
  • Rear seat entertainment
  • Navigation
  • Keyless entry and push button start
  • Remote start
  • OnStar
  • 4G Wi-Fi and built-in hotspot

The GMC Sierra Denali start as $52,605.

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Many parents begin looking into Montessori when their children reach preschool age, but there is so much you can do at home even with the youngest babies. Montessori is much more than a method of education or academic system. It is a philosophy and a certain way of approaching children, whether at school or in the home.

Here are five simple (and free!) ways you can begin using Montessori with your child from birth. And if your child is older, don't worry—all of these principles apply to older children as well.

1. Provide freedom of movement

From birth, we can give children the opportunity to move freely in their environment.

For a newborn, this simply means providing plenty of time when they are not being held or constrained in a carrier, stroller or other device.

You might spend time siting next to your child while they lay on a soft blanket, either inside or outdoors. They're clearly not able to move around the environment on their own at this point, but can practice moving their arms and legs and supporting their head, without their movements being limited.

For an older baby, freedom of movement might include letting them pull up on objects and edge their way around the room at their own pace, rather than putting them in a jumper or holding their hands while they walk.

Freedom of movement is excellent for gross motor development, but it is also a great confidence builder. It sends a clear message to your child that you believe they are capable of developing their muscles and abilities in their own timeframe.

Another aspect of freedom of movement is comfortable clothing that supports a baby's growing ability to move. Dressing your baby in a onesie or loose fitting pants and shirt maximizes their ability to move. Providing young babies plenty of time unswaddled and without mittens or shoes also helps them learn to use their muscles.

2. Use respectful communication

Respectful communication is a hallmark of Montessori for children at all ages, and this can certainly begin at birth. It may feel silly at first, but try telling your infant each time you're going to pick them up. Let them know when it's time to eat or time for a diaper. It will begin to feel more natural each time you do it.

You might try asking permission, such as, "May I pick you up for a diaper change now?"

While they, of course, won't be able to answer you in words yet, they will understand your tone and if you ask regularly, they might start to respond in other ways, such as reaching for you or smiling.

We can also show respect through our communication by always using real, precise language. For example, rather than telling a baby a picture is a "doggie," try telling them it's a "dog," or maybe even the type or name of the dog if you know.

This type of communication lays a wonderful foundation for a relationship of mutual respect, and also exposes your child to a rich vocabulary from the beginning.

3. See caregiving as bonding

Caregiving tasks, such as feeding and changing diapers, can seem endless and can be truly exhausting, especially in the first few months. In Montessori, we try to view these activities as a time for bonding and connecting, a time to give a child our undivided attention.

In a classroom with multiple babies, or a home with older siblings around, this can be an especially important time to take a few moments and be present with the baby you are caring for. It can be so tempting to scroll through social media while breastfeeding or rush through diaper changes to get to the more fun stuff, but these are truly opportunities to slow down, make eye contact with your child, and simply be with them.

Montessori also views these activities as collaborative. We always try to do things "with" children, rather than "to" them.

For the youngest infants, collaboration might just be talking them through what you're doing, or following their lead for when they need to eat and sleep.

For older babies, you can include them more through asking them to crawl to the diaper changing area or bring you a diaper, or offering them two shirts or two foods to choose from.

Reframing these caregiving activities not only makes them more enjoyable for us parents, it ensures that we have regular check-ins where we're fully present with our babies. It makes them feel cared for, and never like a burden.

4. Allow time for independence

How can a baby be independent? They rely on us for so much—warmth, nourishment, safety, love—but we can actually help infants develop independence from the very beginning.

We can look for times when our baby is calm and alert and let them "play," or lay on a blanket, without being held. We can give them time to look around the room and visually explore their new world without interacting with or distracting them.

We can respond to mild fussing first by talking to them, by gently touching them or holding their hand, rather than immediately swooping them up into our arms. Sometimes all they need is a little reassurance that we're there.

Every baby is different and every baby's tolerance for these moments is unique. Some babies might be content to lay on their own for quite a while, while others seem to want to be held constantly. Follow your own child's lead, but look for little opportunities to help them stretch their independence from the start.

5. Practice observation

Observation is one of the most important principles of Montessori for all ages.

Each child is on their own developmental path and the only way we can really know what they need, what challenges they're ready for, is through careful observation.

Naturally, you spend tons of time watching your new baby. Observation is just a slightly different mindset, watching with intention, to see what new skills your baby might be working on, what parts of the room they stare at with captivated interest.

This type of observation will help you know what toys to offer your baby better than any developmental timeline. It will also help you get to know them in a deeper way.

Montessori can seem a bit mysterious or even intimidating, but so much of it is really so simple. It is much more about how we view and interact with children than about academic achievement or beautiful materials.

No matter what type of school you plan to send your children to, incorporating these principles at home from the beginning can add so much to your parenting journey.

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There are so many firsts we get to experience with our baby in those precious 24 hours after birth, but experts suggest that a first bath should not be one of them as waiting could help mama and baby with breastfeeding.

This week a study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing links delaying newborn baths with increased in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding rates.

The study's lead author, Heather Condo DiCioccio, is a nursing professional development specialist for the Mother/Baby Unit at Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. She told TODAY her research was promoted by patients, who have increasingly been asking staff to hold off that first bath in recent years.

Part of this is likely due to the World Health Organization's stance on newborn bathing. The WHO recommends babies should not get a bath for 24 hours, but the recommendations don't really explain why the organization suggests this.

DiCioccio's study involved almost 1000 mama-baby pairs. Around half of the babies were bathed within 2 hours of birth, as per the hospital's previous policy. The rest saw the first bath delayed for at least 12 hours. The researchers found a link between delaying a bath and exclusive breastfeeding, but they could not precisely answer why. DiCioccio thinks it might have something to do with baby's sense of smell.

"They've been swimming in the amniotic fluid for 38, 39, 40 weeks of their life and the mother's breast puts out a similar smell as that amniotic fluid," she told TODAY. "So the thought is maybe the two smells help that baby actually latch. It makes it easier for the baby to find something comfortable and normal and that they like."

For DiCioccio, anything that can help mamas with breastfeeding is a welcome intervention, but the nursing link is not the only benefit to delayed bathing. She notes that keeping the vernix (that white stuff) on the baby for longer allows the baby to benefit from its antimicrobial properties and can help with lung development.

However, sometimes babies do need a bath soon after birth. When mothers are dealing with health issues that can see babies exposed to blood-borne pathogens (like HIV, active herpes lesions or hepatitis B or C), a bath sooner after birth is still best, DiCioccio explained to TODAY.

Even when blood-borne pathogens are not a concern, cultural preferences might be. Not every parent wants to delay baby's first bath, and that's okay—during DiCioccio's study the wishes of parents who wanted their baby bathed shortly after birth were respected—but it's good to have all the knowledge we can get when it comes to postnatal best practices.

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Ayesha Curry has three kids, a husband with a super busy career and a super busy career herself. It would be so easy for her priority list to be: 1) kids, 2) career, then 3) Steph—but the TV host, chef, Honest Company ambassador and entrepreneurial #bossbabe says her partner still has the number one spot, even after all these years.

Speaking to HelloGiggles, Curry explains that she and her Golden State Warrior husband have seen how partners prioritizing each other can benefit a family as a whole. That's why she and Stef don't prioritize the kids above each other.

"Both of our parents are still married and have been married for 30-plus years, and the one thing that they both shared with us—some through learning it the hard way, some through just making sure that they do it—is just making sure that we put each other first, even before the kids, as tough as that sounds," she tells HelloGiggles.

For the Currys, that means making time in those very busy schedules for date nights where they don't have to be mom and dad, they can just connect as partners. Curry admits that it's not always easy to break her brain out of mama-mode and prioritize something other than time with her kids, but she recognizes that when she and Stef put each other first, the kids benefit.

"That's been very important, as hard as it is. Because when you become a parent, you want to put your kids first, and we do, but we do it second to our relationship. Because ultimately, when our relationship is good, the kids are happy and they're thriving and our family life is good. We have to put that into perspective and realize that it's not us being selfish, it's making sure we set a strong foundation."



Experts back Curry up

Family therapist Raffi Bilek, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Fatherly that while putting each other first may seem counterintuitive to parents, it's important. "I think that the question of when to prioritize your partner over your kid is best answered with 'always,'" Bilek says.

David Code is a therapist and the author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First. He wants parents to lean on each other more because when we don't our kids can end up shouldering some of our emotional needs, and that's not fair. It's also not fair for parents to put their relationship and themselves last every time. He believes the "greatest gift you can give your children is to have a fulfilling marriage yourself."

According to Code, "families centered on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding, entitled children. We parents today are too quick to sacrifice our lives and our marriages for our kids. Most of us have created child-centered families, where our children hold priority over our time, energy and attention."

Therapists like Code and Bilek are calling on parents to put their partners first, and stop buying into the myth that we don't have time for our spouses.

If the Currys can find time for each other in their crazy schedules, so too can the rest of us.

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This morning I left my 4-year-old sobbing in the arms of her Pre-K teacher. As I turned to leave, the sight of her little face crumbling, trying to be brave but not quite managing, tore right to my core. I walked away feeling like I was wading through treacle, my chest aching and my arms heavy and useless where my child should have been. It felt so very unnatural to leave when she was crying out my name.

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