Wednesday, 09 January 2019 19:00

Modern Motherhood: there’s always something new

By Katherine Morna Towne | Families Today

I’VE ALWAYS ENJOYED trying to be up on the current mom-and-baby trends—every time I’ve been pregnant and given birth, my weekly “your baby’s development” emails from BabyCenter presented the current medical and scientific thinking and contained ads for the latest must-have pregnancy and baby items, and the members of the pregnancy and parenting discussion boards I frequented (especially when my older boys were babies) kept me up-to-date on everything I needed and wanted to know. I even bought the newest edition of What to Expect When You’re Expecting when I discovered I was pregnant a year ago this month, replacing the edition I’d used since I was pregnant with my oldest, in order to be sure I had the most cutting edge information. 

One result of trying to be up-to-date is that, every time I’ve been pregnant and given birth, I discovered something *new* from the last time! My older six were all two-ish years apart, yet with each new baby, there were things that had changed since the last. With my youngest being four-and-a-half years younger than his next older brother, the number of changes and new things has seemed astounding.

For example, I attended a breastfeeding support group at the hospital a few weeks ago (awesome resource, by the way; call 518-580-2049 for more information), and lactation consultant and group facilitator Kelly Duheme asked if any of us had heard of a particular new product. Not only did most of the other moms nod with enthusiasm, but it turned out many of them already owned one — and I was still trying to figure out what it was that Kelly had said! (It was a Haakaa — a silicone breastpump-slash-milk collector.) Another product that I’ve seen more and more babies using in Instagram photos in the last couple of years is the walker — a fixture in the homes of 70s and 80s parents (including my parents) but something I never saw in my early motherhood. I’d tried to find one when my oldest was a baby, only to discover they were on most parenting resources’ “banned” lists since 1990 when new safety standards were adopted and stationary exersaucers began to be promoted as a safer option. In fact, as recently as September 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a ban on the manufacture and sale of walkers in the U.S. due to the prevalence of walker-related injuries, which makes it extra surprising that I’ve been seeing them more and more. (Interesting note: The sale, importation, and advertisement of walkers — including secondhand walkers sold at garage sales and similar — has been illegal in Canada
as of 2004.)

In addition to new products, I’m always interested to see what new protocols are in place. I was surprised to discover with my recent pregnancy that the most updated guidelines from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology on treating gestational diabetes prefer insulin to medication for those moms whose diabetes can’t be controlled by diet alone. That meant no glyburide for me this time, as I’d had to take in one of my other pregnancies, but instead I injected both short and long-acting insulin each day. When I was in the hospital having the baby, I found out that four centimeters dilated is no longer the definition of being in active labor—now it’s six centimeters. And in January 2017, the National Institutes of Health announced that parents should consider introducing peanut butter to babies as young as four- to six-months of age—much younger than the one-year mark that I’d been advised to follow with my older kids.

Other particulars that I found interesting this time around included a much heavier emphasis on the new-ish phrase “fed is best,” as opposed to “breast is best,” which dominated the baby-feeding conversations of my early motherhood. Something that I heard the other day for the first time, which I’ve been able to trace only to this past fall (if my research is correct), is a recommendation against having children wear puffy coats and snowsuits when in a car seat with a harness, in order to have the child secured as snugly as possible, in order to cut down on the possibility of injury and even ejection in the event of a car accident—it’s even preferred to use layered clothing and blankets instead of puffy coats. And on a lighter note, I’m seeing arrows all over baby paraphernalia (clothing, blankets, diaper bags)—each time I’ve had a baby I’ve been interested to see what the current design element is, which I’ve seen used across products and brands; one of my babies had horses and apple trees, one had monkeys, one had puppies, 2018 seems to have been the year of the arrow.

I used to get myself pretty worked up over some of this stuff when I was a young mom; it’s refreshing to me that now I can write about it all with very little concern, and even a little humor. What will “they” come up with next? I say that with tremendous respect for the intention of keeping moms and babies healthier and safer … but also with the perspective of someone who’s been having new babies for fourteen years and has seen opinions and recommendations flare and fade, be reborn and made over and contradict themselves, and that not every freak-out is necessary or lasting. Certainly, do your research, consult your trusted advisers, and strive to make wise decisions for your babies—and then try to rest easy knowing you’re doing the very best you can.

Kate and her husband have seven sons ages 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 4, and 4 months. Follow her at, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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