Month: July 2014

20,000 papers find no vaccine/autism link


Charlie Brooks

posted in Mom Stories

Let’s talk about vaccines and autism. That’s never controversial, right?

Well, for some reason I feel obligated to mention that what follows is strictly my opinion and not reflective of BabyCenter’s position as a whole. I am not a BabyCenter employee, nor do I speak for the organization in any way. I’m just some random guy on the Internet who sometimes posts to their blog site.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about vaccines. Specifically, let’s talk about a recent study that was released in the peer-reviewed Journal of Pediatrics that drew from more than 20,000 scientific studies and specifically referenced 67 different scientific papers, all of which come to one definitive conclusion: there is no link between vaccines and autism.

The goal behind this comprehensive study was to establish a degree of transparency about vaccines and to get the word out to undecided parents that yes, you can trust your pediatrician on this matter.

The paper does even indicate that there are some side effects from vaccines that affect less than 1% of those receiving them. The thing is, those side effects are more along the lines of a low-grade fever or a bout of diarrhea rather than a long-term condition such as autism.

Kudos to the scientists involved for trying to fight the good fight. Hopefully it will help to inform some people. Unfortunately, for those who have already made up their mind about the link between vaccines and autism, it’s not going to do anything to convince them otherwise.

thinkstocksyringe 20,000 papers find no vaccine/autism link













The basic problem is that everybody is effectively speaking two languages on this matter. Arguing facts and pointing to the overwhelming evidence of 20,000 different scientific papers means nothing when the other side rejects the very basis of fact. It could be 20,000,000 different papers, and it still wouldn’t convince folks on the other side because the anti-vaccine crowd automatically tosses out any evidence against their point of view. The thousands of studies done all across the world that point to an indisputable fact are somehow biased or a part of the largest and most effective conspiracy that mankind has ever seen. Meanwhile, one old and discredited study combined with the words of the guy who used his ass as a ventriloquist puppet in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is gospel.

The sad thing is that this isn’t the type of situation where people can just shrug their shoulders and agree to disagree. The vaccine issue is a matter of public health, and illnesses that once were all but eradicated have come back in force as a result of the dangerous levels of ignorance spreading through our society. The paper’s title, “Immunization exemptions leave kindergarten entrants at higher risk for vaccine-preventable diseases,” points directly to the main problem. It’s comparable to a bunch of parents deciding that car seats cause cancer and convincing parents to stop protecting their children, except that in this case the refusal to vaccinate also puts other kids at risk.

One of the big arguments against these peer-reviewed scientific journals tends to be the idea that big pharmaceutical companies have apparently infiltrated every level of the scientific research community. If pharmaceutical companies were that well-organized, we wouldn’t have scientific research revealing dangerous side effects of drugs like Vioxx, which got recalled despite the efforts of both Merck and the FDA to keep the health risks quiet. But again, this isn’t going to convince anybody who is firmly entrenched in the anti-vaccine argument. It’s very hard to argue a position when the other group doesn’t consider a fact to be a fact. (Ironically, the anti-vaccine argument is arguably a result of a pharmaceutical conspiracy in which one of the papers that spearheaded the movement was later discredited due to the main author practically being on the payroll of a big pharmaceutical company.)

The anti-vaccine argument basically boils down to the fact that vaccines exist and that autism exists. Since those two things exist and some famous people with no knowledge of what they’re talking about have said there is a connection, then people have decided there must be a connection. It’s an appeal to emotion rather than reason, and it’s got famous people behind it. That’s very hard to overcome when all you’ve got on your side is the overwhelming agreement of the scientific community and thousands of peer-reviewed research papers.

On the whole, I’m happy that this paper did such a thorough analysis of current research, because those people who have only heard the two sides of the argument might be under the mistaken impression that there is equal representation in the realm of facts instead of one side having overwhelming evidence on its side. Unfortunately, this one isn’t going to do anything to end the debate as a whole, because you can’t have an effective debate when one side won’t accept facts as evidence.

What do you think about the vaccine debate? I’m sure we can all have a civil conversation!

Photo credit

Photo credit

Sparklers are way more dangerous than you think


Sabrina Garibian

posted in Mom Stories

I am from the uncool state of Rhode Island, where fireworks are not sold in drugstores and the local beach club won’t allow you to light those ubiquitous sparklers. My first Independence Day in Philadelphia brought a lot of eye-opening experiences, including having hundreds of residents — wait, thousands — right outside my door to watch the annual concert held outside the art museum. It also included seeing fireworks on the end cap displays at all of the local drugstores, and seeing amateur fireworks out my city window for a solid week before and after the holiday.

I’m still not used to this!

Fireworks are dangerous, of course. But did you know that sparklers are really dangerous too? According to the CPSC, sparklers can burn at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit — as hot as a blow torch. That is scary and you should keep that in mind next time you think about letting your kids play with sparklers.

Screen Shot 2014 07 03 at 4.51.03 PM Sparklers are way more dangerous than you think

The Onion had a funny piece on firework safety, and mentioned that “glow sticks are great alternatives to sparklers for children whose parents are no f-ing fun.” I guess I’m no fun because I was going to suggest glow sticks as a really fun alternative to sparklers!

Screen Shot 2014 07 03 at 4.45.12 PM 240x300 Sparklers are way more dangerous than you think


I give out glow sticks, glow bracelets, glow necklaces and glow rings on Halloween, and everyone in the neighborhood loves it. I’ve already packed up the Halloween glow leftovers for our 4th of July celebration at the shore.

This 4th of July, just say nay to the sparklers, and pick up some fun glow sticks instead! Just make sure your kid doesn’t chew through the plastic and release the glow liquid inside…

Sparklers for the 4th? Yay or nay?

Image source: CPSC and Thinkstock


Celebrating today? Check out these cuties in their red, white, and blue:

Woman delivers baby in moving vehicle


Michelle Stein

posted in Mom Stories

Roadside deliveries aren’t that uncommon, but this story takes tall birth tales to a whole new level.

Beth and Trevor Farina of Illinois began their journey to the hospital with two people in the car, however, they ended up arriving with three people in the car.

The mama-to-be had been laboring at home for about five hours on Tuesday, according to NBC Chicago, when she and her husband decided it was time to head to the hospital. The couple were already seasoned parents of two children, so they figured it would be another quick delivery for baby number three. Boy, were they right!

En route to a hospital in Elgin, IL, the Farinas welcomed a little boy, who they named Tobias. Beth said she knew the baby wasn’t going to wait as soon as they drove onto the tollway, but she told her husband to keep driving. Beth delivered her 6 pounds, 14 ounces son all on her own in the couple’s moving car while her husband spoke with a 911 dispatcher. The couple arrived at the hospital with their new bundle all wrapped up, and mom and baby are reported to be doing great.

Wow! I can’t say for sure what I would have done in a similar situation, but I probably would have been screaming at my husband at least stop the vehicle. It turns out the Farinas might have kept their cool so well for a couple of reasons: 1) This was their third baby and 2) Beth has had training to become a nurse-midwife. (But, still!) I’m so glad there were no birth complications, or car accidents for that matter.

One of my top fears during the third trimester of my pregnancies was not making it to the hospital in time. With my son, I was sent home from labor and delivery during very early labor, only to return later that night still in early labor. They ended up admitting me (and inducing me the next morning as scheduled) anyway because I was so nervous and reluctant to go home. Z was born about 20 hours after I was admitted. I guess I had plenty of time.

With my daughter, I was a pro. I labored all night at home (while my husband slept — jerk) and then calmly made the 5- minute drive to our hospital for my 7 a.m. induction. Because I had already progressed decently on my own, and with the added help of some Pitocin, baby H was born less than 3 hours after I was admitted.

Check out some other amazing birth stories below!

Did you barely make it to the hospital in time to deliver your baby? Share your crazy birth story!

Featured photo via Flickr/gabi menashe

Beyoncé and Blue Ivy Get Matching Red Nails

First it was matching bathing suits — and now it’s matching nails!

On Wednesday, Beyoncé posted a pic of herself and daughter Blue Ivy showing off their new manicures in what we’ll assume is the pair’s favorite color.

“Me and my Blue, and my Blue Blue, riding,” the singer adorably captioned the photo.

Beyonce Instagram Blue Ivy Red Nails
Courtesy Beyoncé

Beyonce is currently on tour with husband Jay Z, but it looks like she’s gearing up for a relaxing holiday weekend with the family.

The pop star also shared photos of herself wading in the water with her cousin (and good pal!) Angie Beyince and her 2½-year-old little girl watching dolphins swim in the ocean.

Not a bad way to spend some downtime, that’s for sure. We’re definitely envious.

Shanelle Rein-Olowokere

Get All the Details on North West’s Fun N.Y.C. Playdate

Fourth of July Family roundup
Courtesy Kim Kardashian

Talk about a star-worthy playdate!

Last Friday, North West (left, pictured with mom Kim Kardashian) joined a slew of other trendy tots at Gymboree, an indoor children’s gym and playground, in New York City.

And instead of introducing the unmistakable offspring by her famous moniker, a nanny told everyone that her name was actually Samantha!

But that didn’t fool the celeb savvy parents in attendance.

“I just played ball with North West, Kim Kardashian’s #baby and the paparazzi didn’t even find us, wrote FabGabBlog, a fashion and mommy blogger, to caption an Instagram photo of her own adorable toddler.

“She wore a cream onesie and matching bib in case you were wondering. #nyc #baby #gymboree #friends.”

It looks like baby North really enjoyed her visit — an onlooker says she purchased a parachute on her way out! And surprisingly, the 1-year-old isn’t the only famous kid to visit Gymboree recently.

“I’ve also seen model Lily Aldridge with her baby before,” a source tells PEOPLE.

Donald and Vanessa Trump Introduce Daughter Chloe Sophia

Donald Vanessa Trump Introduce Daughter Chloe Sofia
Courtesy Vanessa Trump

Sweet baby girl!

Donald Trump Jr., and wife Vanessa took to Twitter to introduce their fifth child on Wednesday, posting a photo of their sleeping newborn wrapped in cheese cloth.

“Here is the 1st photo of our daughter Chloe Sophia. Mommy & Daddy’s little girl!” Vanessa Tweeted.

Two days after her June 16 birth, the couple’s newest addition left the hospital and headed home to a full house, joining big sister Kai Madison, 7, and brothers Donald John III, 5, Tristan Milos, 2½, and Spencer Frederick20 months.

“It’s a girl!!!! Vanessa and I are very excited to be bringing home our little bundle of joy today,” Trump Tweeted at the time.

Here is the first photo of our daughter Chloe Sophia ! Mommy and daddy’s @DonaldJTrumpJr little girl.

— Vanessa Trump (@MrsVanessaTrump) July 3, 2014

– Anya Leon

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Tips for toddlers: healthy snacks & meals


Andrea Updyke

posted in Tips & Tricks

This post is sponsored by Mott’s

I love food. I love trying new flavors and enjoying old favorites. Unfortunately, my kids are not quite there yet. I have one very picky eater and a toddler who is still deciding the direction in which he will go. I hope as they grow they will both see the joy of trying new flavors. But for now I am looking for ways to get them interested in trying new foods.

If that sounds like you, check out some of our tips for encouraging young eaters to try new things.

Strategies for adding new healthy snacks and meals to your toddler’s plate

Dip it – If your child likes condiments, offer dips like hummus, guacamole, ranch dressing, and fruit dip to make trying fruits and veggies more fun! One of our favorite snacks is apple slices dipped in peanut butter with a few chocolate chips sprinkled on!

Mix new flavors with old favorites – When you are introducing a new food, include it with other foods your child is already used to. I’ve found that slapping a completely unfamiliar plate of food in front of my three year old is a sure-fire way to have it ignored.

cal motts 481x650 Tips for toddlers: healthy snacks & meals

Family style – I am not a big fan of wasting food so I tend to portion out my kid’s plates before they ever reach the table. However, sometimes children will be more adventurous if they are allowed to serve themselves. You’ll never know until you try! The next time you sit down for a family meal, set everything out on the table and see what happens.

Drink your vitamins – For kids who need a little (or a lot) of help making healthy choices, I am all about the smoothie. There’s practically no limit to what you can sneak in there! Check out this recipe for a Banana Berry smoothie using Mott’s for Tots. I bet you could even add some spinach in there and no toddler would be the wiser.

For more healthy snack ideas, check out some of our go-to favorites!

At the end of the day, try not to stress about toddler meals. This one is hard for me but so true. At this stage of independence, the important thing is to keep offering healthy options. Once we have done that, the rest will sort itself out.

What are some of your favorite ways to get your toddler to try new foods?

motts logo e1404329532180 Tips for toddlers: healthy snacks & mealsThis post is sponsored by Mott’s

Mini Style Star Alonso Mateo Teams Up with GILT for Kids Sale

Fourth of July Family roundup
Courtesy GILT

Six-year-old style icon Alonso Mateo has a few secret weapons up his impeccably-rolled sleeve, namely, his celebrity stylist mom, Luisa Fernanda Espinosa.

Inspired by both street style and the runway, she creates a series of looks that their 400,000-plus Instagram followers (including us!) fawn over.

“Two years ago, I discovered Instagram and started posting pictures of special moments of our life here in California, Mexico and on our travels,” she told GILT’s Little Inspirations blog.

So where do her inspirations come from?

“[It] comes from high-fashion menswear designers and international street style. But we always have an element of his father’s style in the mix. We find his favorite items, and build the looks from there. For example, Alonso Mateo loves his sunnies, and they tend to depict a certain trend that sparks ensemble ideas.”

Love this little cutie’s style as much as we do?

He and his mom teamed up with GILT to create covetable outfits that are on sale right now. Check it out at

Fourth of July Family roundup
Courtesy GILT