Jeanne Sager

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I have strung words together for Kiwi Magazine, Babble.com, AOL, Parents Magazine and more. I live in upstate New York with my daughter, husband, dogs, and too many cats. I rock a cool 'do because I shave my head most years to fight children's cancer with the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

Though my daughter is officially an elementary schooler, I'm pleased to report I've yet to give in to the curse of the appliqued mom sweater. Small victories, people.


Sipping on:

Seltzer

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    It's happened again. A month after a mom was arrested for daring to let her daughter play in a park near the McDonald's where she works, another mother has been slapped with a pair of metal bracelets for leaving her kids in a park to play. Only Ashley Richardson's story is especially heartbreaking.

    According to cops, the mother of four kids ages 6 through 8 was at the food bank picking up something for her family to eat while her kids played. While she was gone, her 8-year-old tried using a toddler swing and got tangled up, which prompted a call to the fire department. When Mom returned, cops arrested her.

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    Finally, your kids are sleeping through the night. They're even going to bed at a reasonable hour and staying there too! And then it happens. Your child wakes up crying out loud and grabbing their legs. Growing pains: they're not just an '80s TV sitcom. And contrary to popular opinion, they have nothing to do with growth spurts.

    "The term 'growing pain' is a bit of a misnomer," says pediatrician Dr. Carol Wilkinson, medical director of Kinsights, an advice sharing network for parents. "Studies have shown that they are not associated with periods of rapid growth."

    Instead, these aches in the muscles can simply be signs that your child's muscles are sore from playing hard on the playground or something deeper -- a stress or big social change that can lower their pain tolerance and make it hard to sleep.

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    You've seen the headlines. Baby dies after being left in hot car. Mom arrested for leaving child alone in the car. No doubt, you've read the warnings too. Don't leave your child in the car! They can be stolen. They can overheat. They can knock the car into gear. ANYTHING can happen, so just don't do it.

    Good advice for parents of babies, for parents of toddlers. Except ... what happens when your kids start to grow up? By 16 in most states, kids are legally allowed to drive a vehicle. So common sense would dictate that there must be an age, sometime before 16, when you can legally -- and safely -- leave your kid alone in a car, unsupervised.

    So, when can you leave your kid in a car without risking a visit from police? When is it safe for your child to be alone in a car without you?

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    Moms, hold onto your smartphones, we're in for another bumpy ride. This time it's a pediatrician who has overtaken the Internet with yet another diatribe about parents who spend too much time with gadgets in their hands and -- in her mind anyway -- too little time paying attention to their kids.

    Sure, some of what Dr. Jane Scott has to say in her now viral essay, "Parents, Put Down Your Smartphones," is worth pondering if you're a parent. But added to other rants of the same ilk that have popped up over the past year or so on the Internet, it's hard not to feel like people like Scott often miss the forest for all the trees.

    Smartphones have changed parenting. Sometimes for the bad.

    But it's time some acknowledge that just as often, smartphones have made life better for kids and parents alike.

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    Go walking through the toy aisle at any store, and you're bound to see the term "non-toxic" bandied about. It's a term parents should take with a (giant) grain of salt. After all, a government agency just put out a call for a permanent ban on five different phthalates in items made for kids. 

    Phthalates, if you haven't heard the term, are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break, and they commonly show up in kids' toys and other childcare products. Now for the scary part: the CDC says phthalates can affect the reproductive system in lab animals. The EPA calls the plasticizers "endocrine disruptors or hormonally-active agents," and the National Toxicology Program warns the chemicals may adversely affect human reproduction or development.

    And these are in our children's products?! In 2014?

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