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The Importance of Play Dates Part 2: Timeline for What to Expect from Play Dates

Play based learning is proven to be the most effective for young children. One of the benefits of play based learning is that it allows children freedom of discovery through toys, their environment and their peers. The importance of play dates encompasses everything that is critical about play based learning and it gives moms a chance to socialize as well.

Many people wonder when the importance of play dates takes effect. Is it really necessary to schedule play dates for babies? Here’s a timeline of what to expect from play dates:

0-2 months: You should probably avoid play dates at this young age. Your baby’s immune system is very immature and exposure to too many germs outside the home could be dangerous.

The Importance of Play Dates2-6 months: Play dates in early infancy are mostly for the moms, but that’s OK! If you’d be alone at home doing sensory activities or taking a walk in the neighborhood you may as well do it with another mom and baby pair. In fact, this may be a great time to get out and about for an activity that the moms would enjoy, like visiting a museum or heading to the mall. Each new place offers so much for your baby to see, smell, hear and absorb. As long as you continue to engage your baby throughout, doing something for yourself before your baby becomes mobile is smart.

6-12 months: Starting around six months individual play during play dates is a great idea. Your baby will be able to observe other babies and parents while still getting her own mom’s attention. And she may just get some good ideas from what other babies are doing, such as rolling over, crawling or babbling. Make sure there are plenty of toys to go around because babies of this age won’t enjoy sharing. Playing music, singing, dancing and playing instruments is a good unified activity for part of an infant play date.

12-18 months: Parallel play will be in full swing as your child becomes a toddler. She’ll have her own agenda during play time but should be able to peacefully play next to others. You can demonstrate social norms and etiquette by modeling good behavior. If your little one wants a toy that another child has, ask to have a turn after he’s done and say thank you when you get the toy. When conflict arises, quickly explain the appropriate behavior and then distract your child with another fun activity.  If you are too nervous to try a messy activity like painting or digging in the dirt on your own, doing it with other moms in a play date may help you brave the chaos.

18-24 months: Your child may now be ready to engage with other kids. Some children easily fall into a rhythm together while others may need some suggestions to help them come up with a mutual activity. Playing with balls, building with blocks or playing simple games like “duck duck goose” are fun for kids this age. Sharing may still be hard but continue to reinforce appropriate sharing behavior and taking turns.

2 years +: The importance of play dates is completely evitable by age 2. Children are usually playing with one another and communicating their ideas, although sometimes not always articulately and effectively. Being around to supervise and ease conflict is a good idea. As your child matures, you can teach her conflict resolution skills to help her resolve play date tiffs. There is no set age for starting drop-off play dates. It is up to you and your child to determine when she is ready for mom to leave for a while. Parents should also feel comfortable with the play mate’s parents’ supervision and their home before agreeing to drop-off play dates.

Tomorrow we’ll conclude our series on the importance of play dates by going over some ground rules for successful play dates.

Sources: Café Mom, Everyday Family, Parents, and

The Importance of Play Dates 1: The Benefits of Play Dates

The Importance of Play DatesPlay dates are an important social experience for your child’s development. While your little one can learn many things from you and other caretakers at home, navigating social situations is a crucial skill that children need to practice in order to master. Socialization offers many opportunities for kids starting in infancy including observance, sharing, imaginative play, and negotiation to name a few, not to mention a lot of fun.

This week we’re exploring the importance of play dates including how they are helpful to your child’s development, how they are beneficial to moms, a timeline for what you can expect your baby to get out of play dates, and rules to ensure things go smoothly for everyone.

The Benefits of Play Dates for Children

Your home life is like a practice studio for the real world. You work on skills and strategies that will help your children find their footing when they leave the nest. At first that’s only for short periods of time to go to day care, school, birthday parties, etc…, but eventually your child will be navigating social situations and relationships as an adult. Giving them adequate social foundations in early childhood will serve them well.

Play dates help fill your child’s toolbox with essential information she’ll need to survive without you nearby. Children learn so much through observation, which is why early childhood play dates should include parent participation, at least to demonstrate appropriate behavior. Parents can model sharing, good manners, conversation skills and empathy to help young children how they should act in social situations. All of these skills require practice and repetition, which is why frequent play dates are important.

Also, while there are endless structured opportunities for children such as playing a sport, attending art or music classes, or visiting the library for story time, the freedom of play dates allows children to make choices about what they want to do. This encourages exploration, discovery, imagination, spontaneity, humor and lots of fun. You may be quite impressed with the ideas your children come up with while enjoying a play date.

The Benefits of Play Dates for Moms

Your little ones may be content playing in the same spaces with the same toys for hours upon hours everyday but it might drive you nuts. Getting out of the house helps keeps mothers sane and makes you feel you’re part of the world again. Having a play date with other children – whether at someone’s home, a park or another kid-friendly establishment – can be just the break you need from the monotony of your home play spaces.

Plus, while your little ones are enjoying playtime, you’ll get to interact with another adult. Much of motherhood, especially being a stay-at-home-mom, may be lonely. Sharing your experiences with another mom can be cathartic. No one can relate to your joys and challenges like a mother in your shoes. Many wonderful friendships spark from mothers seeking companionship through play dates.

Additionally, moms are wealthy resources for valuable information. Perhaps a mom has already crossed a hurdle that you are just reaching such as teething or sleep issues. She can offer advice or at least act as a sounding board for your frustrations and anxiety. From great product recommendations and kid-friendly recipes, to the best schools, parks and pediatricians, moms have super ideas and are usually willing to share.

Later this week we’ll talk about what you can expect from play dates in early childhood as we continue to explore the importance of play dates.

Sources: Café Mom, Everyday Family, Parents, and

What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common virus that is typical in babies and children under five. Parents may mistake it for chicken pox because it yields similar looking blisters, however hand, foot and mouth disease is a different illness that is spread through coming in contact with infected bodily fluids.

Here’s what you need to know about hand, foot and mouth disease:

What causes hand, foot and mouth disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by the enterovirus. It is most common in infants and children younger than five. Note, this is different than huff and mouth disease that is carried by animals.

What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?What are the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is marked by fever, lethargy and a sore throat. Approximately two days after getting the first symptoms, children develop blisters or red bumps concentrated on their hands, feet and in their mouths, as well as sometimes on their bottoms, genitals, knees and elbows.  Symptoms may not show up until three to six days after initial exposure to the virus.

How is hand, foot and mouth disease spread?

Hand, foot and mouth disease spreads through bodily fluids. Coughing, sneezing, sharing food or utensils or coming into contact with infected feces can spread the virus. Babies are highly susceptible to hand, foot and mouth disease because they are often crawling on surfaces or playing with toys where the disease may linger and they tend to put things in their mouths. Spreading hand, foot and mouth disease through feces is quite common if babies or caregivers don’t properly wash after diaper changes. Feces can harbor the virus for several months after the child has had the disease.

What is the treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease?

Because it is a virus, there is no prescription medication that can get rid of hand, foot and mouth disease. If cleared by a doctor, babies and children can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.  Parents should encourage lots of drinking for hydration or serve hydrating foods like fruit popsicles or soups if drinking is too painful. Avoid acidic foods that may irritate mouth sores.

What precautions can be taken to avoid hand, foot and mouth disease?

Stay away from children or families who have hand, foot and mouth disease. Wash your hands and your child’s hands often. Clean toys and surfaces to avoid spreading the disease. If your child’s school or daycare has an outbreak, discuss how they are addressing it to be sure they help you prevent your child from getting sick.

Sources: WebMD and CDC

Breastfeeding Support in Hospitals

Breastfeeding Support in HospitalsIn the past decade the U.S. has made impressive strides in improving breastfeeding support in hospitals. This critical time just after birth may set the stage for breastfeeding success, which is why it is vital for hospitals to provide adequate breastfeeding support for new moms. Unfortunately only 14% of the 4 million babies born each year are welcomed in hospitals designated as “Baby-Friendly” as prescribed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF and supported by the CDC. “Baby-Friendly” hospitals follow 10 guidelines that promote and support breastfeeding and the best health practices for newborns.

Some of the most important steps for breastfeeding support in hospitals are: educating new moms on the benefits of breastfeeding, initiating breastfeeding within an hour of birth, encouraging rooming-in so mothers and babies bond quickly, breastfeeding on-demand to help establish milk supply, providing lactation support to ensure moms understand the mechanics of breastfeeding, and avoiding supplementation unless there is a true critical need.

Breastfeeding support in hospitals begins before moms even give birth. Over 90% of hospitals offer prenatal breastfeeding classes so mothers can become familiar with the benefits of breastfeeding and how it works. Although breastfeeding is best learned with hands-on experience, being mentally prepared is a good way to enter the game.

Once a mother is in the hospital ready to give birth, sharing her plans to breastfeed is crucial so her OBGYN and nurses can help ensure the earliest possible breastfeeding opportunity. In best case scenarios, this occurs within a few minutes after birth once the baby and mother are both in stable condition.

Mothers may want to reiterate their desire to breastfeed to each nurse who comes on shift to ensure there is no accidental supplementation throughout the hospital stay. Some moms request a sign is put on the baby’s hospital basinet saying BREASTFED ONLY. This reduces the chance of mistakes when the baby is taken to the nursery for exams or to allow mom a few hours of rest.

If the hospital staff recommends supplementation out of concern for the baby, it is completely acceptable for mothers to seek the advice of their pediatrician before making a decision. Breastfeeding support in hospitals should give mothers every opportunity to provide the entirety of a baby’s nourishment through breast milk if that is her choice.

Sometimes that means that moms need help with the mechanics of breastfeeding. Many anti-partum nurses are knowledgeable about breastfeeding and can help mothers position their babies, initiate proper latch and develop best practices. If additional help is needed, mothers should request visits from the on-staff lactation consultants. These professionals usually make rounds to help moms who are struggling with breastfeeding. Because they may see many moms in a day, it is important for new moms wishing to see a lactation consultant to be vocal early and often. Breastfeeding challenges can escalate quickly and often lead to early discontinuation of breastfeeding. If the problems are addressed immediately, issues like sore nipples or poor latch can be corrected.

During her time in the hospital a mother has the first opportunity to be her baby’s advocate. For a baby’s health, there is no better cause than breastfeeding. Mothers should seek breastfeeding support in hospitals to ensure success for a strong and healthy breastfeeding journey.

Sources: CDC and LiveScience

Attention-Seeking Behavior in Children Part 2

Starting from the day they were born, children learn how to get attention to meet their basic needs. As they grow older and your kiddos are whining or crying for attention, they are still exhibiting their natural instinctive tactic for getting what they need.  As frustrating as it may be, this is a normal part of a child’s development. Earlier this week we learned why attention-seeking behavior in children occurs and today we’ll be sharing ways of handling it.

Attention-Seeking Behavior in Children Part 2Give the Right Level of Attention

Children require a certain amount of loving attention every day. Some of this takes place while you’re going through daily tasks such as dressing and feeding them. Beyond those times, children need your affection and attention to help their psychological development. This can be done during cuddling, playtime, singing and reading, among many other activities your child enjoys. As your child gets older, she will need less attention but the key is finding the right balance between being available for quality time together and allowing her to discover independence. Sometimes this takes trial and error because there is no set formula for connecting with your child. You are both individuals and therefore you have to navigate this relationship with love.


You don’t have to fully understand your child’s behavior to show empathy. Simply being present, letting your child know you are a sounding board for their thoughts and feelings, and that you value their perspective is critical to your child’s self esteem.

Set Rules and Enforce Consequences

Establish rules so your child is aware of expectations. Conflict often arises because there is no mutual understanding of what your child should do and how she should behave. Also make the consequences clear. If she breaks a rule, give an appropriate consequence. Over time she will come to change her behavior to avoid consequences. Once a punishment is complete, let it go. Engage your child positively and don’t hold the misdeed against her any more.

Don’t Give In

Every time your child gets what she wants through negative behavior she learns that it is OK to repeat the behavior. Usually it will escalate too. Stand firm on your responses, even on small things. Make sure you and your partner are a united front so your little one knows not to ask daddy if mommy says no.

Help Your Child Contribute

Showing your child she is a valuable part of the family unit gives your child a sense of place in the world. Allow her to contribute to the family in meaningful ways by helping you tidy up the house, make repairs, or assist in the kitchen. Having pride in things you do together as a family not only provides space for connections but may curb attention-seeking behavior in children.

Ignore Negative Behaviors When Possible

It’s so hard to ignore a tantruming child but sometimes that is the best method to quash the behavior. When she sees that her negativity isn’t garnering any attention she may change her tune. She’s testing limits so ignoring the ones you don’t like may be the ticket to happier days. When your child is ready to speak to you appropriately, they should get your full and undivided attention.

Stay Calm

Yelling back at your child is not the solution to attention-seeking behavior in children. This only perpetuates the idea that such a response is acceptable. Rather, take a few breaths and respond calmly. Even if it is through gritted teeth so you don’t explode, your temperament sets the tone for your child’s behavior.

Sources: Empowering Parents, Positive Parenting Connection and Psych Central

Attention Seeking Behavior in Children Part 1

Attention Seeking Behavior in Children Part 1It’s a common scenario in households across the nation: a young child wants something and will do almost anything to get it. This attention seeking behavior in children is a normal part of early childhood development but it can be so tedious for parents. This week we’re helping you understand why your child may be acting out to get your attention and ways you can correct the unwanted behavior.

Born to Seek Attention

If you think about it, babies are born to get attention. They are oh-so-adorable making adults want to hold and cuddle them. They cry when they need something because they can’t do anything for themselves. This natural instinct for attention is a survival tactic that adapts as a child gets older. At first attention is a physical necessity but as children age, it is more a psychological need, but still a legitimate need. Their methods of attention seeking will evolve to elicit the responses they want from their parents. As a parent it’s your role to temper this instinct and shape it into positive behavior to productively help your child meet their needs. It usually takes a good deal of time and effort from parents and children alike.

Why Children Act Out to Get Attention

There are many reasons a child may resort to whining, screaming, crying and harming herself or others to get attention. It could be a physical need such as hunger or tiredness. Or it may be a psychological reason like feeling sad about something that happened in her life or needing to spend more time with her parents. In some instances attention seeking behavior in children may stem from a true illness or disorder, which would need to be addressed by a doctor. In the eyes of a child, even negative attention is better than no attention, which is often why punishments and harsh responses don’t resolve the problem. Of course, giving in doesn’t help either.

The Balance of Giving Attention

Sometimes attention seeking behavior in children is the result of too little attention from parents, but other times it stems from too much attention. Too little attention may be the case when parents are busy with work, other children and other commitments. Finding the time to meaningfully connect with each child daily may be quite difficult but it is important to prioritize to avoid negative behavior. Conversely, when parents hover over their children and strive to meet their every need, desire and demand immediately, children can come to expect this sort of attention. It impedes the development of independence and breeds attention seeking behavior when parents are suddenly unavailable.

Later this week we will talk about positive discipline techniques that help you work through attention-seeking behavior in children. Stick around.





Reward Charts for Children

Reward Charts for ChildrenReward charts for children can be a positive motivational tool to correct undesired behaviors or to work towards a goal. When used effectively, reward charts are fun, interactive and may be a source of pride for your child. Today we’re looking at how to incorporate reward charts for children into your positive discipline techniques at home.

Renowned childhood development specialist Dr. Sears advocates for the use of reward charts for children. As he reminds us, reward charts are used in many settings from schools, to places of business, to show progress and results. Charts can be highly motivating for young children because they are a terrific visual representation of progress. Plus, they help your family focus on positive influences and results rather than dwelling on negatives.

Reward charts are often used as reminders and incentive to eliminate behaviors such as tantrums, bad eating habits and thumb sucking, or to help your child attain a goal like reading for a certain number of minutes or helping out with family chores. Even if these are expected behaviors and accomplishments, rewards charts are designed to encourage them in ways that are meaningful to your child.

Here are some things to keep in mind when instituting reward charts for children:

  • Work with your child to set behavior expectations and goals.
  • Involve your child in creating the chart.
  • Allow your child to update the chart regularly.
  • Use fun, interactive ways to mark progress such as connecting dots, adding stickers or filling in boxes.
  • Place the chart in a prominent place to remind your child of the expectations and goals and to give your child a sense of pride in her accomplishments.
  • Utilize the chart often.
  • Establish short-term rewards when goals are met.

Reward charts can be effective starting at toddler years as soon as your little one can understand your expectations and consequences of not meeting them. Remember that rewards don’t have to be expensive gifts or sugary treats. Rather, come up with wholesome alternatives such as one-on-one time with a parent doing an activity your child loves, having a friend over for a play date, or extra reading time at night. Selecting rewards that align with family rules or values is crucial for the long term.

It’s important to note that reward charts are not the “be all, end all” of parenting solutions. Working with your children to resolve issues is essential as well. Reward charts can reinforce what you’re working on together. Also, be sure your children understand that your love is not something they have to earn. Pleasing you with good behavior is not connected to how much you love them because your love is unconditional.

Do reward charts work for your children?

Sources: Ask Dr. Sears, The Mother Company and Empowering Parents



Springtime Nursing Tank Tops and Plus Size Nursing Tank Tops

Nursing tank tops are an essential piece in a new mom’s wardrobe. With spring in full bloom, nursing tank tops are perfect for layering under cardigans, blazers or hoodies. You’ll look stylish, keep cool and be ready to breastfeed whenever your baby wants.

We offer nursing tank tops in a range of sizes to meet the needs of many mamas. Most of our nursing camis are offered in sizes Small to 2X making Leading Lady your destination for nursing tank tops and plus size nursing tank tops. Check out our fashion styles to keep you cool, comfy and ready to nurse this spring.

nursing_bra_cami_with_inner_sling_720_Nursing Cami

Every new mom needs basic nursing tank tops or plus size nursing tank tops to complete her breastfeeding wardrobe. Our Nursing Cami may look simple but you’ll quickly learn it is simply amazing and fits the bill for so many of your spring wardrobe needs. The soft cotton fabric is delicious on your skin and the built-in bra supports your breasts. The length is ideal for layering or stand-alone. It can be worn beneath blouses, sweaters or dresses, or as its own top on warmer spring days. This Nursing Cami also makes a terrific night shirt that you can pair with your favorite pajama pants. Available in standard neutrals (brown, black, grey and weight) in sizes Small to 2X.


4044stripe_no claspSquare Neck Nursing Cami

Add a pop of pattern and color to your spring wardrobe without giving up nursing convenience or comfort in our Square Neck Nursing Cami. The empire waist is super flattering for a variety of body types, which is hard to find in many nursing tank tops and plus size nursing tank tops. The stripe designs include a peek-a-boo red interior lining for you and your baby to enjoy. Available in denim stripe, grey stripe, black and azalea in sizes Small to 2X.


nursing_top_4049_Nursing Top

Another way to add style to your spring outfits is feminine flare, like the lace accent on the racer back of our Nursing Top. This elegant top looks ravishing with jeans, sleek pants or a skirt for a fun night out with the girls or your hubs. With fun colors like azalea and cloud blue and traditional black and grey, this is one of the nursing tank tops you’ll love to wear! Available in sizes Small to 2X.


Seamless Nursing Cami

maternity_to_nursing_seamless_cotton_cami_4023_Sleek and smooth, our Seamless Nursing Cami is the newest addition to our collection of nursing tank tops and plus size nursing tank tops. With the perfect stretch factor that helps contour your curves, this cami is soft, sexy and just what you need for breastfeeding. The v-neck design and thin, adjustable straps are delicate, while the fitted scalloped bottom hem creates a beautiful silhouette. Available in black and nude in sizes Small to 2X.

Dress up or dress down your spring with our collection of nursing tank tops and plus size nursing tank tops. Happy Spring!!

A New Approach to Hypoglycemia in Newborns

A New Approach to Hypoglycemia in NewbornsNew research shows a simple yet effective way to keep more mothers and babies together after birth, even when babies are born with hypoglycemia. When feedings alone are not enough to improve the baby’s health, a dose of sugar may be all that’s needed to get the baby back on track and continue the immediate bonding and breastfeeding practices that are best for mothers and babies.

Hypoglycemia in newborns is becoming more and more common due to a growing number of overweight and diabetic mothers. Hypoglycemia in newborns is a condition where the baby is born with low blood sugar levels, which can affect his immediate health and ability to regulate body functions outside the womb.

The traditional protocol for hypoglycemia in newborns is to intervene if the baby is not improving after three feedings. Intervention includes formula supplementation and an IV of fluids including dextrose, a sugar supplement, which requires the baby to be away from his mother in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for hours or even days.

Based on the latest research, a team came up with an innovative idea so babies don’t have to be separated from their mothers. Rather than intravenous supplementation, a dextrose gel can be administered in the baby’s cheek in the mom’s hospital room. The gel contains 40 grams of sugar per 100mL as opposed to only 7 grams of sugar in 100mL of breast milk.

This alternative treatment for hypoglycemia in newborns was tested in two hospitals in Buffalo, NY. The results were positive: Before the dextrose gel treatment procedure was instituted, 42% of newborns with hypoglycemia were admitted to the NICU. With the dextrose treatment, only 26% required NICU care. The dextrose showed a 16% improvement in babies. This not only boosted their health, but it also allowed babies to stay with their mothers and reduced health care costs significantly.

“Rooming in” is recommended for mothers and babies in the hospital to promote bonding, allow for lots of skin-to-skin contact and to establish a healthy breastfeeding on demand routine. Breastfeeding early and often helps encourage mom’s milk supply and sets the stage for good breastfeeding practices. As mothers spend more time with their newborns, they begin to read their cues and understand their needs to best care for babies. Babies benefit greatly from staying close to their mothers by stabilizing their temperature, regulating their heart beat and staying calm.

Many infant-care practitioners are interested in the dextrose gel treatment for hypoglycemia in newborns to help nurture babies and keep them with their mothers in the most critical first days of life. This minor change in procedure could make a big impact on the health outcome of newborns.

Sources: Science Daily

Should You Switch Breasts while Breastfeeding?

Many moms are confused about when and if they should switch breasts while breastfeeding. Like so many breastfeeding and baby care questions the answer is, it depends. Today we’re sharing when you should switch breasts while breastfeeding and when you should not.

Should You Switch Breasts while Breastfeeding?Both of your breasts produce milk but that doesn’t mean your baby needs to drink from both sides during every feeding. Your baby is the best gauge for whether you should switch breasts while breastfeeding because only your baby knows when she is satiated or not. Unlike adults, babies don’t over-indulge in milk. Rather, they drink until they are full and then they stop.

You may want your baby to switch breasts while breastfeeding to ensure you get relief from both breasts if they are full. If a baby drinks mainly from one side, it could leave a mother in pain and lead to engorgement. However, there’s a good reason not to prematurely switch sides.

The composition of fat in your breast milk changes during a feeding. Slowly the early milk in a feeding, called foremilk, increases in fat content as the feeding progresses. The later stage of a feeding yields hind milk. Fat builds up in milk ducts and over the course of the feeding dislodges into the milk flow as the breast empties.

With that said emptier breasts express fattier milk so if you feed more often, the fat content in your milk may be high even at the beginning of a feeding. Also, breast compressions can help squeeze the fat into the milk.

In order for your baby to benefit from the essential fats in your breast milk, it is important for her to continue breastfeeding on one side until the fat content increases. It’s impossible to know for sure when this is happening since it is undetectable and gradual. However, if your baby drinks to satisfaction on one breast, she is probably getting to the fattier milk. You will know when your baby is full because she will pull off the breast or her suck and swallow pattern will slow or halt.

Once you’ve burped your baby you can determine if you should switch breasts during breastfeeding. Your baby may or may not want the second breast. If she does, do not force her to drink longer than she wants. If you feel too full after she completes the feeding, pump or hand express milk to your comfort level.

If you pump milk you may notice the sticky fat layer that rises to the top of your storage container. You can even do an experiment to see when the fattier milk starts showing up by switching containers half way through your pumping session and then comparing the containers after refrigerating them for a day.

Switching breasts while breastfeeding can also be helpful if you tend to get plugged ducts, need to keep your baby awake or want to encourage more let-downs. However these reasons should not deter you from allowing your baby to get through to the fattier milk on at least one breast per breastfeeding session.

Also remember to start with the opposite breast with each feeding to ensure you are draining your breasts equally and fully. This not only prevents engorgement, but also stimulates your milk production.

The bottom line is you need to read your baby. With knowledge about the fat make-up of your milk and by following your baby’s cues, you’ll know when and if to switch breasts while breastfeeding.

Sources: Kelly Mom, Parenting Science and BabyCenter

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