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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Experience 60 seconds of how it feels to live with autism.

Sensory sensitivity is just one battle someone with autism may face every day.

Certain things can drive me up a wall.

Like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet.


Make it stop already! GIFs via the National Autistic Society/YouTube.

Or deafening, nonstop police sirens outside my window that just. won't. quit.

Nope, nope, nope.

That's why a video made by the U.K.-based National Autistic Society really struck a chord with me.

For the first time, I was able to get a glimpse into the world as it's experienced by many who have autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — a developmental condition that can hinder a person's social, emotional, or communication skills.

A lot of these folks experience sensory sensitivity, which makes it hard to process sensory information like sounds, sights, or tastes.

For someone who has ASD, a sound (like those obnoxious police sirens I mentioned earlier) can be magnified and distorted. Or a fabric used for everyday clothing might feel very uncomfortable to the touch.

To people without sensory sensitivity, those police sirens may just be annoying. But for someone with autism, hearing them could be downright painful.

Autism is more than just sensory sensitivity, though.

In case you don't know too much about ASD, here are some basic facts:

  • You can't "see" it. "There's often nothing about how people with [ASD] look that sets them apart from other people," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • It's more common than you might think. The CDC estimates that about 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism.
  • ASD isn't a one-size-fits-all label. "Every person with autism is different," according to a video by the National Autistic Society. "That's what makes it so difficult to understand."
  • And the verdict's still out on precisely what causes autism. No one knows for sure, but research has led doctors to believe there are likely multiple factors — environmental, biological, and genetic — that can increase the chances of a person having ASD. (And, just FYI, getting vaccines isn't one of them.)

Watching a one-minute video on sensory sensitivity certainly doesn't mean I know what having autism feels like...

...especially because having ASD can mean many different things to different people.

But watching the PSA below can really spark empathy for those who experience the world a bit differently than many of us.

Check out the video by the National Autistic Society below:

Ileah Parker (left) and Alexis Vandecoevering (right)

True

At 16, Alexis Vandecoevering already knew she wanted to work in the fire department. Having started out as a Junior Firefighter and spending her time on calls as a volunteer with the rest of her family, she’s set herself up for a successful career as either a firefighter or EMT from a young age.

Ileah Parker also leaned into her career interests at an early age. By 16, she had completed an internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, learning about Information Technology, Physical Therapy, Engineering, and Human Resources in healthcare, which allowed her to explore potential future pathways. She’s also a member of Eryn PiNK, an empowerment and mentoring program for black girls and young women.

While these commitments might sound like a lot for a teenager, it all comes down to school/life balance. This wouldn’t be possible for Alexis or Ileah without attending Pearson’s Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school available in 31 states across the U.S., that not only helps students get ready for college but dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well.

“Connections Academy allowed me extensive flexibility, encouraged growth in all aspects of my life, whether academic, interpersonal, or financial, and let me explore options for my future career, schooling, and extracurricular endeavors,” said Ileah.

A recent survey by Connections Academy of over 1,000 students in grades 8-12 and over 1,000 parents or guardians across the U.S., highlights the importance of school/life balance when it comes to leading a fulfilling and successful life. The results show that students’ perception of their school/life balance has a significant impact on their time to consider career paths, with 76% of those with excellent or good school/life balance indicating they know what career path they are most interested in pursuing versus only 62% of those who have a fair to very poor school/life balance.

Additionally, students who report having a good or excellent school/life balance are more likely than their peers to report having a grade point average in the A-range (57% vs 35% of students with fair to very poor balance).

At Connections Academy, teens get guidance navigating post-secondary pathways, putting them in the best possible position for college and their careers. Connections Academy’s College and Career Readiness offering for middle and high school students connects them with employers, internships and clubs in Healthcare, IT, and Business.


“At Connections Academy, we are big proponents of encouraging students to think outside of the curriculum” added Dr. Lorna Bryant, Senior Director of Career Solutions in Pearson’s Virtual Learning division. “While academics are still very important, bringing in more career and college exposure opportunities to students during middle and high school can absolutely contribute to a more well-rounded school/life balance and help jumpstart that career search process.”

High school students can lean into career readiness curriculum by taking courses that meet their required high school credits, while also working toward micro-credentials through Coursera, and getting college credit applicable toward 150 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S.

Alexis Vandecoevering in her firefighter uniform

Alexis, a Class of 2024 graduate, and Ileah, set to start her senior year with Connections Academy, are on track to land careers they’re passionate about, which is a key driver behind career decisions amongst students today.

Of the students surveyed who know what career field they want to pursue, passion and genuine interest is the most commonly given reasoning for both male and female students (54% and 66%, respectively).

Parents can support their kids with proper school/life balance by sharing helpful resources relating to their career interests. According to the survey, 48% of students want their parents to help them find jobs and 43% want their parents to share resources like reading materials relating to their chosen field.

While teens today have more challenges than ever to navigate, including an ever-changing job market, maintaining school/life balance and being given opportunities to explore career paths at an early age are sure to help them succeed.

Learn more about Connections Academy’s expanded College and Career Readiness offering here.

@thehalfdeaddad/TikTok

Dad on TikTok shared how he addressed his son's bullying.

What do you do when you find out your kid bullied someone? For many parents, the first step is forcing an apology. While this response is of course warranted, is it really effective? Some might argue that there are more constructive ways of handling the situation that teach a kid not only what they did wrong, but how to make things right again.

Single dad Patrick Forseth recently shared how he made a truly teachable moment out of his son, Lincoln, getting into trouble for bullying. Rather than forcing an apology, Forseth made sure his son was actively part of a solution.


The thought process behind his decision, which he explained in a now-viral TikTok video, is both simple and somewhat racial compared to how many parents have been encouraged to handle similar situations.

“I got an email a few days ago from my 9-year-old son's teacher that he had done a ‘prank’ to a fellow classmate and it ended up embarrassing the classmate and hurt his feelings,” the video begins.

At this point, Forseth doesn’t split hairs. “I don't care who you are, that's bullying,” he said. “If you do something to somebody that you know has the potential end result of them being embarrassed in front of a class or hurt—you’re bullying.”

So, Forseth and Lincoln sat down for a long talk (a talk, not a lecture) about appropriate punishment and how it would have felt to be on the receiving end of such a prank.

From there, Forseth told his son that he would decide how to make things right, making it a masterclass in taking true accountability.

“I demanded nothing out of him. I demanded no apology, I demanded no apology to the teacher,” he continued, adding, “I told him that we have the opportunity to go back and make things right. We can't take things back, but we can try to correct things and look for forgiveness.”

@thehalfdeaddad Replying to @sunshinyday1227 And then it’s my kid 🤦‍♂️😡 #endbullyingnow #talktoyourkidsmore #dadlifebestlife #singledadsover40 #teachyourchildren #ReadySetLift ♬ Get You The Moon - Kina

So what did Lincoln do? He went back to his school and actually talked to the other boy he pranked. After learning that they shared a love of Pokémon, he then went home to retrieve two of his favorite Pokémon cards as a peace offering, complete with a freshly cleaned case.

Lincoln would end up sharing with his dad that the other boy was so moved by the gesture that he would end up hugging him.

“I just want to encourage all parents to talk to your kids,” Forseth concluded. “Let's try to avoid just the swat on the butt [and] send them to their room. Doesn't teach them anything.”

In Forseth’s opinion, kids get far more insight by figuring out how to resolve a problem themselves. “That's what they're actually going to face in the real world once they move out of our nests.”

He certainly has a point. A slap on the wrist followed by being marched down somewhere to say, “I’m sorry,” only further humiliates kids most of the time. With this gentler approach, kids are taught the intrinsic value of making amends after wrongdoing, not to mention the power of their own autonomy. Imagine that—blips in judgment can end up being major character-building moments.

Kudos to this dad and his very smart parenting strategy.


This article originally appeared on 3.24.23

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Pop Culture

Comedian debunks the popular '50% of marriages end in divorce' myth in viral video

Comedian and writer Alex Falcone explains how this "dumb statistic" is just plain wrong.

@alex_falcone/TikTok

How did we all come to believe this very inaccurate statistic?

We’ve all heard the statistic that “50% of marriages end in divorce” at least once in our adult lives. And considering that many of us probably know a few couples that have gotten divorced (including our own parents) we probably never gave its validity much of a second thought.

But romantics, rejoice! For this cynical statistic is, irrefutably, false. Recently comedian Alex Falcone took to TikTok to debunk this commonly believed myth.


In a now viral video, Falcone begins by saying that “first of all, it’s a dumb thing to measure,” because “until the 1970s, divorce law was very different. So really, it would have been a measurement of what percentage of couples are trapped in bad situations.”

What makes this a “dumb statistic,” Falcone continues, is that it doesn’t consider the duration of any marriage—from “the couple that held hands while the water came in on the Titanic counts exactly the same as someone who got hit by a bus on their honeymoon” to the “overachievers” who are “really good” at getting married and divorced over and over again.

Essentially, “if someone gets divorced five times, they get counted five times,” Falcone says. It’s easy to see how this can set the statistic askew very quickly.

But truly, the biggest Achilles' heel of this truism is that it’s nearly impossible to truly “track every single marriage that's ever happened” to accurately determine how they ended, be it divorce or death…not to mention track the ones that are still going strong.


@alex_falcone Unlearning: No, 50% of marriages don't end in divorce.
♬ original sound - Alex Falcone


Of course, you don’t have to take Falcone’s word for it. Experts have been debunking this myth for years (of course, they haven't done it in nearly as entertaining a way as Falcone). According to the New York Times, the highest the divorce rate has ever been was 41%. Elsewhere there are estimates closer to 23%.

And the United States Census Bureau states that divorce rates have been declining over the past decade. We can thank certain societal shifts for this, like people waiting until later in life to get married, and the rise of long term, non-marital relationships.

In 2021, the rate was just under 7%. Again, no tangible ways of getting an accurate assessment, but certainly nowhere near 50%.

So how did this myth come to be in the first place?

The prevailing theory leads back to post-World War II, when the Baby Boomer generation began marrying and starting families, during which there were projections that divorce rates would eventually get that high. So far, they never have.

Bottom line: statistics aren’t always reliable. This is an especially important thing for couples to remember so as to not invoke some kind of self-fulling prophecy. After all, we are far more well-equipped with knowledge and resources to help strengthen our relationships than ever before. So don’t give up on love just yet!

Family

Mom explains the common Boomer parenting style that still affects many adults today

Many are relieved to finally have a term for this experience.

“What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”

There are certainly many things the Boomer parents generally did right when raising their kids. Teaching them the importance of manners and respect. That actions do, in fact, have consequences. That a little manners go a long way…all of these things are truly good values to instill in kids.

But—and we are speaking in broad strokes here—being able to openly discuss difficult feelings was not one of the skills passed down by this generation. And many Gen X and millennial kids can sadly attest to this.

This is why the term “dishonest harmony” is giving many folks of this age group some relief. They finally have a term to describe the lack of emotional validation they needed throughout childhood for the sake of saving face.


In a video posted to TikTok, a woman named Angela Baker begins by saying, “Fellow Gen X and millennials, let's talk about our parents and their need for dishonest harmony.”

Barker, who thankfully did not experience this phenomenon growing up, but says her husband “certainly” did, shared that when she’s tried to discuss this topic, the typical response she’d get from Boomers would be to “Stop talking about it. We don't need to hear about it. Move on. Be quiet.”

And it’s this attitude that’s at the core of dishonest harmony.

“What that’s showing is their lack of ability to handle the distress that they feel when we talk openly about uncomfortable things,” she says. “What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”



“Keep quiet about these hard issues. Suppress your pain, suppress your trauma. Definitely don't talk openly about it so that you can learn to heal and break the cycle,” she continues. “What matters most is that we have the appearance of harmony, even if there's nothing harmonious under the surface.”

Barker concludes by theorizing that it was this need to promote a certain facade that created most of the toxic parenting choices of that time period.

“The desire of boomer parents to have this perception that everything was sweet and hunky dory, rather than prioritizing the needs of their kids, is what drove a lot of the toxic parenting we experienced.”

Barker’s video made others feel so seen, as clearly indicated by the comments.

“How did I not hear about dishonest harmony until now? This describes my family dynamic to a T. And if you disrespect that illusion, you are automatically labeled as the problem. It’s frustrating,” one person wrote.

“THANK YOU SO MUCH! I'm a 49 yo biker sitting in my bedroom crying right now. You just put a name to my darkness!” added another

Many shared how they were refusing to repeat the cycle.

One wrote, “This is EXACTLY my family dynamic. I’m the problem because I won’t remain quiet. Not anymore. Not again.”

“I love when my kids tell me what I did wrong. It gives me a chance to acknowledge and apologize. Everyone wants to be heard,” said another.

Of course, no parenting style is perfect. And all parents are working with the current ideals of the time, their own inner programming and their inherent need to course correct child raising problems of the previous generation. Gen Alpha parents will probably cringe at certain parenting styles currently considered in vogue. It’s all part of the process.

But hopefully one thing we have learned as a collective is that true change happens when we summon the courage to have difficult conversations.

Love Stories

Man asks men to 'tell me about her' and their sweet responses have women falling to pieces

"Ok now I'm also a puddle. I know you warned me but I still wasn't ready."

Men answer 'tell me about her.' Women are now in tears.

We don't often get to hear people profess their love unless they're newly dating or posting about a special occasion on social media. There's often the old trope of men in long-term relationships or marriages complaining about their partners. It's written into many movie scripts, painting a mundane and somewhat grim view of marriage.

But surely if men hated being married so much they wouldn't keep asking women to promise to spend the rest of their lives with them. Turns out some men just needed to be asked the question in order to write beautiful prose about their partners. Luis Olivias asked men on the internet a simple question, "For the boys, go ahead and tell me about her."

Well, the guys did not disappoint. Their responses to such a simple prompt are leaving some women an emotional mess. It was as if these men were sitting there waiting for someone to ask and then listen to them talk about how much they love their partners.


"She's sleeping next to me with our beautiful 6 month old boy between us. She's giving me life a life I never deserved, I am truly blessed," one man writes.

"If there's another lifetime, I would stand where I first saw her hoping to meet her again," another says.

"She's that moment of peace when you pass under a bridge during a thunderstorm. Only this moment never ends," someone else shares.

TikTok that reads, "For the boys, go ahead and tell me about her."Lui posted a simple prompt to TikTok that created a flood of love.www.tiktok.com

And they just kept coming:

"I used to have nightmares, terrible nightmares. The first night I spent with her was the first night in a decade I went to sleep in peace."

"She honestly felt like home, a feeling I never felt til I met her. There's a calm surrender in her eyes that can bring you to your knees…everyone has their definition of perfect, mine is her."

"She's the peace I sought after spending my entire adult life up to this point at war. She's the forgiveness I never gave myself."

"She's the brightest light in every room she walks in. Every night I think I can't possibly love her more and then I wake up and I do."

That's a lot of love to take in, so take a breath because these men were not even remotely finished expressing their absolute Shakespearean level of love for their partners. Women peeked in on the conversation expecting something other than the tear-jerking gushing of men in love.

"All these men in love, I'm crying tears of happiness to see this amount of love still exist," a woman says.

Another woman, Megan Rose, made a tearful response video highlighting her favorite comments admitting the comment section left her in a puddle.

@_odriewdlocenotseht_

@Lui I was full snot bubble crying and had to share. WHATS THE OPPOSITE OF A TRIGGER WARNING?! This is that, it’s a 🌻GLIMMER WARNING🌻 #wholesome

The original post, which is only two still pictures, has over 81K comments, over 1 million likes and over 99K shares. It's truly a post where you can get lost in the comment section forgetting all concept of time.

Hopefully these men share their beautiful sentiments with the women in their lives so they're aware of how loved they are.

Family

Pediatric sleep expert shares 5 keys to getting a baby to sleep in less than 2 minutes

"The way that we deal with adult sleep troubles is the exact opposite of how we deal with baby sleep issues."

Chrissy Lawson shares tips for how to get a baby to sleep quickly.

If you've ever had a baby that seems allergic to sleep, you know what a sleep-deprived nightmare it can be. How can it be so hard to get a baby to sleep when they're clearly tired and sleep is a necessity? Isn't it a natural instinct to sleep when you're exhausted? Is there some trick to it that you're somehow missing?

These questions plague countless parents, but sleep therapist Chrissy Lawler says getting a baby to sleep can be done quickly and easily if you stick to a few key principles.

Lawler, a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and mother of four, shared her secrets for getting babies to sleep in 30 seconds to two minutes with Good Morning America. Her advice might help some desperate, exhausted parents find some relief.


"I am all about empowering women and parents and families to get good sleep because it benefits everybody's mental health and happiness," Lawler begins. She says "it's so easy if you get the timing right" to get a baby to drift off quickly.

Here are Lawler's tips:

1. Start putting them to sleep before they're overtired

"The way that we deal with adult sleep troubles is the exact opposite of how we deal with baby sleep issues," Lawler says. "So in the adult sleep space, the more tired you are, the better you'll sleep, and as a result, the biggest mistake that parents make in trying to get their babies to sleep well is assuming if I can get my baby good and tired, then they'll sleep better." She says it's a mistake to think that what will work for us will work for a baby. "But really, with babies, sleep begets sleep," she says. "The more they sleep, the better they sleep, the more they will sleep."

Lawler says babies offer subtle cues that they're starting to get tired, such as getting red around the eyes and eyebrows, gazing off into space, subtle yawning or very early signs of fussing. By the time they are full-on showing classic tired baby symptoms, it will be harder to get them to sleep.

2. If the baby is a newborn, wrap them in a snug swaddle

The swaddle is a classic newborn sleep tool for a reason. "A good snug swaddle is everything," Lawler says. "We want to focus on doing all of the things that can help them get calm. A good snug swaddle is the first step." She demonstrates how to do a snug swaddle in the video:

A sleep therapist shares her secrets to putting a baby to sleep in 30 seconds l GMAGood Morning America/YouTube

(Lawler also has advice on her website, The Peaceful Sleeper, about when to transition out of swaddling.)

3. Bounce and make "Shhh Shhh" sounds

Babies prefer to be on their side to go to sleep, says Lawler, and many like to have something to suck on like a pacifier. But after that, bouncing or swinging motions and making "Shhh Shhh" sounds are key. "You're not telling them to shush, you're making a loud whooshing sound like what they used to hear in the womb," she says.

4. Gently stroke their eyebrows

"One of my other favorite interventions that you can do is a very subtle eyebrow stroke to just help their eyes close naturally," Lawler says."You can do this while you're holding the passy in place and then they can just drift off to sleep."

Lawler demonstrates how she gently strokes the baby right between the eyebrows to encourage them to close their eyes and drift off, and it's as simple as it sounds.

5. Transfer them to their side before rolling them onto their back

Getting a baby to sleep in your arms is one thing, but transferring them into the crib without waking them up is another. Lawler also shares a trick for that—laying them on their side first. Babies have a startle reflex when you lay them on their back, but if you start them on their side and then gently roll them over onto their back, you can help avoid it.

"Parents, you are the expert for your baby," says Lawler, "and you can take what you love and leave the rest."

You can find more baby sleep help on Lawler's website, The Peaceful Sleeper. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.