Our children are considered “digital natives,” they have been born into and are being raised in the digital world. Today’s kids are using technology for communication, education and fun. Kids can also easily gain access to parts of the tech world that may be dangerous or simply inappropriate.
Kiddle the so-called Google for kids
A new website called news outlets have reported the search engine site is an official Google spin-off looking to cater to young internet users. Kiddle has no association with Google – and does not claim to. It uses a Google Custom Search bar embedded within the website much like Safe Search kids. If you don’t want to set your own computers search engine to Safe Mode, Kiddle is a great alternative for “safer” browsing.has launched promising a child-friendly search engine for kids browsing the internet, however many seem to be confused as a number of
What is Kiddle and how does it work?
Certain content is filtered and a number of explicit terms and celebrities are blocked. According to the Kiddle About page…
If your child does search for something that the site deems inappropriate, the child will receive a message, “Oops, looks like your query contained some bad words. Please try again!” You can also add words to the Kiddle keyword block form and add sites to the site blocking form.
As with anything, Kiddle is not 100% safe and most of what Kiddle does can be accomplished with your computer and Google settings. However, Kiddle is a start and a move in the right direction.
Have frequent and ongoing discussions about online safety.
Talk to your children often and early about the dangers of technology and appropriate behavior online. The answer is smart parenting and open communication. Knowledge is power, if parents are informed, the use of technology will be a much safer experience for all. Unfortunately, we have a very long way to go when it comes to safety in our digital world. While we can’t keep our children 100% safe from the evils of technology, there are resources and tools to help us protect our tech savvy kids. Learn the best way to keep kids safe here.
Mommy judgement. Mommy guilt. These are constant topics in magazines and blogs aimed at mothers and they need to be. So many moms, myself included, need daily reminders that we are all doing ok and there’s nothing to feel guilty about.
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a mom is the advice we have been told over and over since we were children ourselves – be yourself. It seems so simple, but it’s harder than many realize. Whether you’re a single mom, married mom, older mom, younger mom, working mom, stay at home mom, there is always some ideal we formulate that we never seem to attain. We are often convinced we are inadequate, a failure, clueless, different, weird. We are an embarrassment to little Johnny who is going to move across the country as soon as he graduates from high school, only call at Christmas, and write about how his mother screwed him up in his memoirs.
Some of the judgement we feel is completely fabricated in our own imagination. Sometimes it is all too real. But there are more important consequences of denying your own voice than condescending side eyes when you bring Walmart cupcakes to the bake sale. Not being authentic and true to yourself robs you of your joy and deprives your children of the gift of knowing who you really are.
As someone who has struggled with depression, I know there is no faster way down that path than by denying your own needs and desires. Once the perfect 2.5 kids and a dog life I always wanted fell apart, I was lost. I was torn apart with guilt for not being able to give my kids the perfect life. I stopped listening to my own voice and tried to live up to the expectations of others, sometimes real, sometimes imagined. I tried desperately to shove myself into a mold I didn’t fit in. I was an expert level player of the comparison game. My perfectionism paralyzed me with fear.
It’s OK to Be the Weird Mom
Then I woke up one day and wondered why I felt so empty and miserable. It has been a long journey, but my path back to happiness has centered around accepting my quirky, weird, wonderful, authentic self and learning to listen to my own voice. Once I committed to doing that, it is like a light turned on with my life, especially as a mother. I see it in my kids and it is a wonderful feeling knowing I am a better mom because I have embraced my own, authentic values.
But perhaps the most important thing about giving our children the gift of authenticity is by doing so, we give our children permission to also be their true selves. Whether it’s embracing their own quirks, or the courage to pursue a talent, our kids will always shine brightest when they are true to themselves. As mothers we can help bring that light out into the world by being brave enough to do the same.
Deciding to spend the rest of my life as my husband’s wife was not the easiest decision I’ve made. Being a wife was scary, being a step-mom was scarier. On top of the normal fears that come with marriage, I constantly questioned whether or not I could be a parent. I did what every new parent does, I jumped in with both feet. I researched till I was frozen in fear, then I went out and did it my own way. I busted my butt a lot and stood with pride other times.
Step-parenting comes with a set of blessings and obstacles and unless I am overly positive it seems like I’m not allowed to speak about it, not publicly. There is a truth in step-parenting; it’s a tightrope you never quite learn to walk. It comes with unspoken rules and regulations. Those rules and regulations are constantly changing.
For one, you have to find a way to be a parent, without being a parent. My sole job as a step-parent is to be a bonus parent. When a kid has two parents they adore, what does bonus parent even mean?
Then I must remember that I wasn’t there for years before I met her dad. I will never forget the first time my step-daughter said, “You don’t get it, Dad does, he’s been there.” Shot. To. The. Heart. I realized at that moment, I am the one that walked in and changed the rules. I often don’t know whether to feel pride or guilt about this.
Not to mention, you will get used to the rules and then you will change them with a biological child of your own. It is something I can’t explain, but I struggle with
daily hourly. Where’s the balance of the pride in the creation of a tiny human and the nurturing and empathy for the child who looks at you as a constant reminder that mommy and daddy are not married.
Lets not forget, your step-child has been around longer than you have. There are families to build relationships with, lots of families. When I chose to become a wife I also auditioned for the title step-mom, it went like this: Meet a boy. Fall in love with boy. Juggle balls. Spin plates. Illustrate homework skills and leftover dinner magic. Marry Boy. Honeymoon. Have another child. These auditions didn’t just happen for my husband, they happened for my step-daughter’s mom, her grandparents and a slew of others. It is an exhausting ride, but one that I am a better person for (and pretty thankful I got the starring role as step-mom).
I wouldn’t change any of this, but I should be able to talk about it. I see mom blogs, and we laugh, cry and celebrate motherhood, but very rarely do I see the step-parenting side discussed. Noticing this, I reached out to a few friends who are step-parents themselves. Do you know what the main complaint was?
It wasn’t that it was hard. It wasn’t a complaint about anyone else in the family. It wasn’t about the step-child. It was a simple complaint, “I feel like I am alone in all this, and I am not allowed to talk about it.” You see we can all complain and celebrate motherhood, it’s come to be an art form of mom-bloggers the world over. The existence of this in step-parenting is scarce.
I want that to change. I got with a couple friends, we talked, we chatted. We decided, let’s do it, let’s create a venue for step-parents to unite. So we are starting small, with just a forum. Moving forward with demand to get-together and the elusive play dates with the kids, because let’s face it, being a step-kid is hard work. There needs to exist a place where we step-parents can figure things out together. We shouldn’t feel alone watching from the sidelines; let’s cheer and carry on like mad people from the side-lines. Enter Step-Parenting in the Red Stick.
Our hope is that we can start a safe place for growth as parents, as step-parents, as people. A forum where we can learn from each others trials an triumphs. A place we can laugh about the little things that make us, us. If you are a step-parent in Baton Rouge or the surrounding area, we invite you to join the forum here.
This morning, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art 350,000-square-foot facility that will serve as a premier destination for high-quality, advanced medical care for children within a statewide network of pediatric healthcare excellence I think I can speak for us all when I say that this has been long-awaited for in the Baton Rouge area.
“After more than a decade of planning, the strategic vision to design and build a hospital that will change the lives of Louisiana’s children is coming to fruition. We know that children have unique needs and require specialized care in an environment built just for them,” said Scott Wester, chief executive officer, Our Lady of the Lake. “Our goal is to build a hospital that will further advance care and research for children through greater recruitment of pediatric specialists, continue to growth our successful pediatric residency program that trains future Louisiana pediatricians, and capitalize upon strategic partnerships like that of our relationship with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”
Baton Rouge Moms contributor, Audrey Hayworth, attended the ground breaking, “It was a beautiful day to break ground on the Our Lake of the Lake Regional Medical Center Children’s Hospital. A huge congratulations for a day long in the making…our community will reap benefits we cannot yet see.”
The hospital will include a dedicated emergency department with 21 beds and four triage rooms, advanced imaging with CT scanning and MRI, and a dedicated floor for inpatient and outpatient pediatric cancer treatment. OLOL Children’s Hospital will be the only St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital affiliate in the state.
The facility also will include a 30-bed pediatric intensive care unit, designated family areas on each floor, a large garden, a dining room with outdoor seating, and a family resource center to provide information to patients and families.
View the touching ground breaking from this morning’s ceremony live via WAFB…
“Children make up nearly twenty-five percent of Louisiana’s population and these children are our future. We recognize our role and responsibility to provide the necessary tools for our youth to grow into healthy adults,” said Dr. Shaun Kemmerly, chief medical officer, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. “We are committed to positively impacting the long-term health of the state and to do this we must begin with children. With this new facility we can continue to grow the resources for ongoing education for children to create lifestyle changes and to build healthy habits to break the risk cycles of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Healthy children grow into healthy adults.”
Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital first look.
Take a look at the renderings of the new hospital here.
Construction is expected to take about two and a half years, and the hospital is scheduled to open in fall 2018.
“Ask the Experts” is a series on Baton Rouge Moms where local experts share their thoughts, opinions and answer questions relating to health, wellness and parenting. If you have a question for one of our experts, please leave it in the comments below to be featured in an upcoming article. February is Children’s Dental Health Month and we have an informative article from Ascension Children’s Dental.
As a parent, you may be surprised to learn that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that you take your child to the dentist when the first tooth erupts or by your child’s first birthday, whichever comes first. Many parents make the mistake of bringing their child to the dentist when they have their first toothache. This can lead to a more traumatic experience for your child’s first visit, resulting in unnecessary fear of the dentist.
Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be as easy and pleasant as possible. At our office, I believe in keeping this first appointment short. During the visit, I will evaluate your child’s teeth and gums and discuss any relevant oral hygiene instructions with you. If your child is older for their first visit, then I may recommend a cleaning and fluoride treatment. This first appointment really helps our team develop a trusting relationship with your child to promote stress free dental appointments in the future.
As a parent, it’s important for you to know that your child’s behavior towards the dentist is usually a reflection of your own attitude and level of anxiety.
I put together some tips to prepare your child for his/her dental visit, no matter their age, to help the visit go smoothly:
- Make an appointment for a time of day that works best for your child. We do not recommend scheduling their appointment during nap time or when they are just waking up from a nap.
- Parents are welcome and encouraged to accompany their child during the initial exam. This allows us the opportunity to communicate directly with you about your child’s dental health.
- During the initial exam, I often will have you hold your child in your lap with their head positioned in my lap. Before the appointment, you can practice holding your child in this knee-to-knee position so he or she knows what to expect when the time comes.
- Never convey anxiety to your child. Children are very receptive to words, moods, tones and body language. If a child can sense that you are fearful, they are likely to anticipate discomfort and become fearful too. Tell your child about the visit but don’t go into detail. Over-preparing your child can create anxiety.
- Watch what you say around your child. Never let your child hear of any past bad dental visits – either experienced by yourself or siblings. Be aware not to use words like “needle”, “drill”, “shot”, “pinch”, “yank”, or “pull.” Never tell your child that something may or may not “hurt.” Explain to your child that the pediatric dentist will count his/her teeth and will help them with the important job of keeping their teeth clean and beautiful. Keep it simple!
- Do not be alarmed if your child cries during the first visit. Crying is perfectly normal. Remain positive and supportive and work with me during this time.
The more positive and supportive you can remain before and after your child’s first dental visit, the better! Each time your child visits the dental office, it will be easier and easier, especially if they remember the previous experience as a positive and enjoyable one. Your child will also be more likely to develop good oral hygiene habits and want to take good care of their teeth. Developing a good relationship at an early age with the dentist will most often help your children carry these routines well into their adult lives.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule your child’s first appointment, please visit www.ascensionsmiles.com or call (225) 402-4118.
Bright colored beads thrown from Mardi Gras parades have been the sought-after prize for children and adults alike for decades in Louisiana. But are there hidden dangers that we should be concerned about in these traditional beads? Unfortunately, Mardi Gras beads and many throws are dumping grounds for toxic waste and heavy metals, which pose severe health risks to those who wear or handle them according to researchers.
The hidden dangers in Mardi Gras beads…
Several studies, including a study published by Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, MI in collaboration with VerdiGras, identified dangerous levels of lead, other toxic metals and toxic flame retardants in the strings of beads they’ve tested. The Ecology Center tested 87 previously used Mardi Gras beads for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer.
“Over 60% of the products tested (56 of 87) had concentrations of lead above 100 ppm,” the report reads. “For assessment purposes, the U.S. ConsumerProduct Safety Commission (CPSC) limits lead in children’s product(s) to 100 ppm. The highest amount of lead detected was 29,864 ppm in a green, round bead necklace.”
“Unfortunately, a gaping hole in our regulatory system makes it perfectly legal for these products to be sold,” said Jeff Gearhart, principle researcher on the study and research director of the Ecology Center.
The report from the Ecology Center website provides a few recommendations for handling beads safely…
“Do not allow children (or adults) to put beads in their mouths.
Wash your hands after handling the beads.
Bring baby wipes to the parade to wipe children’s hands after catching and playing with beads and before eating.
Wash the beads that have been caught, especially if they were lying on the ground.
Recycle the beads.
Never burn the beads and do not store them in sunlight.
People who regularly handle beads should wear gloves.”
High levels of lead can cause poisoning, which in children can lead to brain damage, stunted development and reduced attention span. It also can cause reproductive problems and impaired fetal development, among other problems.
More on the beads made in China – http://blog.nola.com/tpmoney/2008/01/chinesemade_mardi_gras_beads_g.html
We are so excited to be bringing LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER back to Baton Rouge for a second year!
What is LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER?
Every year in the two weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, in cities across the nation, locals tell their own stories in a 90 minute live-reading show celebrating and validating motherhood. The mission of each LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show is to take audiences on a well-crafted journey giving voice to motherhood in all of its complexity, diversity and humor. They include hyper-local sponsorship and give back financially to a local non-profit, in our case, the Emerge Center.
Does this sound like something you want to see? How about participate in? Auditions are being scheduled right now!
Who can audition?
Whether you had a mom, are a mom, know a mom, were raised by a grandma/auntie/sister/friend, wherever you come from and whoever you are, your story matters and we would love to hear it!
LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER: Baton Rouge is looking for a diverse collection of people to read their own words about motherhood at the Manship Theatre on May 1, 2016. All ages and experience levels are invited to audition and non-mothers are welcome (yes- men, too)!! This isn’t just for bloggers or professional writers; this show is for anyone with a story to tell about motherhood, whatever that looks like to you.
Make sure motherhood is the star focus of your piece. It can be glorious and gutsy, hilarious or heart-wrenching, and it must be a true story written by you. Previously published work is accepted if you retain the rights/have express permission to use the piece. Your piece should last no more than 5 minutes spoken aloud. Less is fine! Do not memorize your work.
You must be able to commit to two rehearsals (March 19 & April 16) as well as be available from 11am-7pm on show day, May 1, 2016. Auditions are by APPOINTMENT ONLY on Thursday, February 11 from 4-8pm and Saturday, February 13 from 10am-2pm in Baton Rouge. Bring your own original humorous, poignant, or soulful words about any variation of motherhood as you know it.
How can I audition?
**TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT** send an email to Meghan at email@example.com with “Audition” as the subject line. Please include your name and availability during the listed times. Appointments will be first come, first served until all slots are filled. Or feel free to fill out this online form and the director will get back with you to schedule your audition!
So what are you waiting for! Grab your audition spot today!
Baton Rouge Moms Contributors,
Meghan Matt – LTYM Director & Audrey Hayworth LTYM Producer
We knew The Krewe of Parents Parade was too good to be true but this is 100% real!! The Great Trade-In event returns to Babies”R”Us and Toys”R”Us stores in February!
Toys”R”Us, announced the return of its customer-favorite “Great Trade-In” event, providing consumers with its latest call to action to rid their homes of potentially unsafe, old and secondhand baby gear and furniture in exchange for savings on a new item that meets the latest safety standards. This event will take place at Babies”R”Us® and Toys”R”Us® stores nationwide beginning Monday, February 1 through Monday, February 29. And, new this year, the company’s Rewards”R”Us® loyalty members can take advantage of early access to the in-store event beginning Friday, January 29, by showing their Rewards”R”Us card during checkout.
Babies”R”Us and Toys”R”Us Great Trade-In Event
During this time, stores will accept any used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, high chairs, infant swings, bouncers, travel systems, walkers, entertainers, play yards and toddler/twin beds, in exchange for a 25% discount on the purchase of a new item*, in any of these product categories. In addition, “R”Us Credit Card holders can receive 30% savings when using their “R”Us Credit Card*. Come help and contribute to the best baby cribs list. Customers who do not have an item to trade in can take advantage of a 15% discount in-store and online with a coupon available at Babiesrus.com/GreatTradeIn, beginning February 1**.
“One of our cornerstones as the world’s leading dedicated baby products retailer is our commitment to help keep kids safe. We are extremely proud that through our Great Trade-In program, we have enabled parents and caregivers to remove more than 1.1 million potentially unsafe items from the marketplace,” said Reg McLay, Senior Vice President, Babies”R”Us. “As we strive to help parents make the best possible choices as they care for their babies, we look forward to once again hosting this program at our stores nationwide. We strongly encourage parents to use this time to check their baby gear and trade in old items for new ones that meet or exceed current safety standards.”
Since its inception in August 2009, this national safety event has served to draw attention to used baby items still in circulation that are non-compliant with today’s more stringent safety requirements while continuing to raise awareness among parents and caregivers about ways to be proactive where children’s safety is concerned. Many items traded in over the past six years were missing parts or damaged, while others were decades old and showed obvious signs of wear and tear. To date, more than 1.1 million items have been removed from circulation through these efforts.
Brands participating in the Great Trade-In event include Baby Trend®, Britax®, Chicco®, Evenflo®, Graco®, Safety 1st®, Sorelle™ and more. Daycare centers or other organizations that wish to exchange items in bulk are encouraged to contact their local “R”Us® store prior to returning their used items to ensure adequate availability of new merchandise. There is no limit to the number of items a customer can trade in.
Keeping the Focus on Children’s Safety
Toys”R”Us, Inc. offers the following resources to help parents and caregivers keep their children safe:
- Dedicated Safety Site: Toysrus.com/Safety features information on the company’s industry-leading safety standards for products sold through its stores and websites, product recall information and a “Safety Experts Say” blog with advice from experts on important child safety initiatives.
- Recall Notifications: Consumers can sign up for product safety and recall alerts through Toysrus.com/Safety. Current recall information is also posted on easily visible Safety boards at each store location.
- Tools and Resources: A Product Record List and Eight Steps to Keep Kids Safe checklist are available online at Toysrus.com/Safety and in stores upon request. These tools are designed to help parents keep track of the products in use in their homes so they can act quickly to remove unsafe products from use in the event of a recall.
SOURCE Toys”R”Us, Inc.
The Zika virus is currently being seen in epidemic numbers in at least 22 countries, some of which are popular tropical travel destinations. In fact, the Center for Disease Control for the first time ever issued a travel warning specifically for pregnant women last week cautioning about travel to areas where the Zika virus is rampant. Here is what you might want to know about the Zika virus.
What is the Zika virus and how is it transmitted?
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that was first discovered in 1947 in Uganda, but until 2007, the virus really was not seen in humans. The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of the Aedes mosquito, which is also the mosquito responsible for transmitting Chikungunya and Dengue viruses as well. Unlike the Culex species of mosquito that transmits West Nile Virus and mainly likes to bite in the dawn and dusk hours, the Aedes mosquito prefers to feed on its host during the daytime hours.
What are the symptoms of the Zika virus?
It is estimated that 80% of people who are infected with the Zika virus will have no symptoms at all, and the other 20% could have a very mild illness with symptoms such as fever, rash, red eyes and joint pain. These symptoms generally occur within 2-7 days after a person is infected with the virus, and the illness likely will last a few days to a week. There is concern about a possible link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is an autoimmune related neurologic disease that may lead to paralysis.
So why is it a big deal for pregnant women?
There has been an alarming increase in a birth defect known as microcephaly, or babies being born with abnormally small heads, in countries where the Zika virus is very common. Infants born with microcephaly may also have abnormalities of their brain because of incomplete development. Brazil, in particular, has seen more than 3,800 cases of microcephaly since October 2015, which is more than a 25-fold increase in the rates of microcephaly when compared to previous years. There is also concern that the Zika virus could cause loss of pregnancy. Scientist are feverishly working to determine just how strong the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly and pregnancy loss is, but the trend is concerning enough that health officials have taken notice.
Is this the first virus that can cause problems for developing fetuses?
No. Viruses causing birth defects are nothing new. Viruses such as rubella, cytomegalovirus, parvo B19 and even chickenpox can be transmitted from a pregnant mother to the fetus and can cause a host of problems in a baby ranging from hearing loss to anemia to small size of the baby. However, most women have had either been vaccinated against (think MMR and chickenpox vaccine) or have had these virus by the time they reach childbearing age, and therefore, already have immunity from these illnesses. Since the Zika virus is just emerging and there is no preventative vaccine, we do not have any protection from this virus.
Have there been any cases of the Zika virus here in the US?
No…and yes! 234 pregnant women in the US have been diagnosed with Zika virus, acording to the CDC. The CDC hasn’t disclosed where any of these women were infected with the virus, or how they came in contact with it. So far, three babies have been born in the US with Zika-linked birth defect microcephaly. The defects were also seen in three other pregnancies that ended. All the cases are connected to travel to areas with outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus, primarily Latin America and the Caribbean. There’s been no local spread of Zika in the U.S.
What should expectant mommies do?
If you were planning a trip to one of the areas on the CDC travel advisory list, I would put those travel plans on hold! We spend 9 months doing everything in our power to protect our growing little bundles of joy possibly giving up our favorite raw sushi roll, our morning extra venti caffeinated latte, or foregoing your next skydiving adventure (not sure that I would ever be brave enough for that one honestly). There is so much about pregnancy that we cannot predict, so in my opinion, we should try to limit those things that are known risks. Until more is know about the Zika virus and how it may specifically affect a growing fetus, I would encourage pregnant women to err on the side of abundant caution and avoid travel to those areas inundated with the Zika virus.
If travel to one of the countries with a Zika outbreak is unavoidable, how can women protect themselves?
You must make sure to take precautions against mosquito bites. Use either a DEET or Picaridin containing mosquito repellent at all times (remember, the Aedes mosquito likes to bite during the day and not only dusk ‘till dawn like other mosquitoes). Also, wear lightweight long sleeves and pants and even clothing that is permethrin-treated to cover as much of the skin as possible. Finally, if your lodging is open to the outdoors, make sure to have a mosquito bed net over where you will be sleeping.
I am not usually one to “sound the alarm” before I have a wealth of data and information in front of me, but the Zika virus and its possible association with a severe birth defect warrants our attention. While a change to travel plans is not convenient (especially when you have been looking forward to crystal blue water, a beach chair and a virgin pina colada), the beaches will still be there in a few months and scientist will have had the time to further research how a tiny virus from a pesky mosquito could cause lifelong problems for your still growing baby.
“Ask the Experts” is a series on Baton Rouge Moms where local experts share their thoughts, opinions and answer questions relating to health, wellness and parenting. If you have a question for one of our experts, please leave it in the comments below to be featured in an upcoming article.