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Parenting

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Things new parents think they need but don't.

There's nothing like preparing for a new baby. The excitement and anticipation take hold and before you know what's happening, your baby registry is five pages long full of things you've probably never heard of. I've been there before, and now, four kids later, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are tons of things you actually don't need. It's easy to get carried away when everything is so tiny and cute, especially 'cause marketing around baby stuff is bananas. The following offers some alternative items to the ones you'll likely only use a limited number of times before practicality takes over.


Many of us have been there, standing in the baby aisle looking like we're smuggling an oddly shaped beach ball under our now-too-small maternity shirt contemplating between the many styles of pacifiers and different types of bottles. You'd be forgiven for spending an insane amount of money on bottles shaped like a deflated spaceship that guarantee your baby will never burp, when two weeks after they're born you find out your baby actually prefers the $0.98 ones from Walmart. Figuring out what you really need is tricky enough, so let me help you out. Hold on to your bellies or shiny new babies folks, this list might blow your mind.

Baby wipes.

Baby wipes from Amazon

1. Put the Pee Pee Teepee down and back away slowly.

Aside from the word "teepee" being highly inappropriate for non-Indigenous people to use, you can go ahead and take this bad boy off your baby registry. If you're not familiar with a "pee pee teepee," it's a cone-shaped item that goes on top of your little guy's business so he doesn't accidentally pee in his eyes or on the unsuspecting diaper changer. Here's the thing, baby wipes or a baby washcloth work just as well. When my boys were little I'd just throw a wipe over their baby business while I changed the diaper, and once the dirty diaper was off, it's easy to toss the used wipe in before trashing the diaper. Easy peasy and it's one less thing to put on your list.

Disposable diaper bags.

Disposable diaper bags from Amazon

2. Diaper Genies are unnecessary and it's easy to forget they exist.

I had such high hopes for my Diaper Genie as a first-time mom. They're so cool, you shove a dirty diaper in there and twist. That's it. It locks in the odor and makes a weird-looking segmented snake of dirty diapers. Alas, when your diaper pail is in one room and you're changing a diaper on a wiggly baby in another, most times the diaper just winds up in the closest trash can. So just buy some small cheap trash cans to put in different rooms and then empty them at the end of the day. There's only so much odor a diaper genie can hold and they only take special expensive trash bags. Save your money. Get some small trash cans and those little smell good bags to toss the smelly diapers.

Receiving blankets.

Receiving blankets from Amazon

3. You can buy a swaddler but you don't actually need it.

I know this might be a controversial statement, but honestly those swaddlers are really expensive and babies quickly outgrow them. You can do the perfect swaddle with a receiving blanket for a fraction of the price and just as much energy. You know how babies come all bundled up when the nurse brings them in from the nursery? Yeah, that's a really good swaddle that will give your snuggle bug the same coziness as an expensive swaddler.

Portable baby formula dispenser.

Portable baby formula dispenser from Amazon

4. You don't have to be fancy and get a Baby Brezza.

Honestly, I had never heard of a Baby Brezza until I had my youngest, so I'm assuming its a newer invention. They're certainly cool and also really expensive and unnecessary. These little doodads are like baby Keurigs but for formula. They hold powdered formula and water, you press a button and it supposedly perfectly mixes up a warm bottle of sustenance. The price tag on these things are about the same as a larger much more needed baby item, like a car seat-stroller combo. There have also been some concerns raised by pediatricians due to some bottles not getting enough formula added.

Take the guesswork out of it and just fill the bottles by hand. You can even put water in the bottles in advance and leave them out at room temperature and use a portable formula container to put premeasured scoops in. I know it's no Baby Brezza, but you'll be $200 richer and know exactly how much formula is going into your baby's bottle.

Bottle drying rack.

Bottle drying rack from Amazon

5. Your baby doesn't need fake grass to dry their bottles on.

Don't laugh, a fake grass bottle dryer is something that actually once sat on my kitchen counter. That's about all it did because I dang sure didn't use it for more than the first week. When you're sleep deprived, you want the easiest thing available and oftentimes that's the top rack of the dishwasher or the dish rack that's already on your countertop. The things we get suckered into buying is laughable sometimes. Besides it being esthetically pleasing, you don't actually need it and a regular bottle rack, in fact, works better because there are no removable trees holding the nipples.

Receiving blankets.

Receiving blankets from Amazon

6. Side eye anyone that says you need embroidered burp cloths.

Don't fall for it. Yes, purpose-made burp cloths can be super cute but they're literally used to catch baby puke. These things are too small to cover the area needed to prevent your back and shoulder from becoming a casualty of a little guy eating too fast. Remember those receiving blankets we talked about earlier? Yeah, they are much more absorbent and cover more of your body to spare you having to change clothes. Those flannel blankets are versatile. You can use them for swaddling, to cover a car seat or stroller, for burp cloths or even a clean area to change the baby on. There's no such thing as too many receiving blankets. I'll make it easy for you, grab a pack here.

NoseFrida.

NoseFrida from Amazon

7. Skip the bulb syringe and splurge on the NoseFrida.

The hospital will give you a useless bulb syringe that only the nurses know how to work, because I swear no matter how hard you squeeze the bulb you barely get anything out. Bulb syringes even come with many newborn essential sets. I'm sure they work, but they seem to take way too much effort for the little bit of mucus they pull out. Get the NoseFrida—yes, it's a little more expensive but it's worth it, even though it seems gross. I promise the hygiene filter that goes in the tube will spare you from getting baby boogers in your mouth. You can literally use that thing well into the toddler years until your little one learns to blow their nose. Can't speak highly enough of this thing and here's a link to it here.

Pack 'n' Play

Basic Pack 'n' Play from Amazon

8. Do you really need a Pack 'n' Play that turns into a rocket ship?

OK, maybe it doesn't turn into a rocket ship but some of those things are so outrageous that you might need to be a rocket scientist to put it together. Pack 'n' Plays are really convenient and a great investment for new parents, especially if you like to travel or have family out of state. You can use it so your baby can sleep in your bedroom until you're ready for the switch to sleeping away from your little one. Just try not to get distracted by all the bells and whistles and stick to the basics. A Pack 'n' Play with a bassinet is really all you need. It's much cheaper and you'll use the bassinet piece much longer than the ones that come with other parts.

Teething rings.

Teething rings from Amazon

9. Expensive teething jewelry is overrated.

Fancy teething jewelry is cute and has become quite popular lately, but babies don't really need it. They are perfectly happy with the normal water-filled teething rings or rubber ones that can be thrown in any diaper bag. They're tried and true, plus they're designed specifically for teething. While the jewelry is marketed for teething babies, doctors have warned that they're not safe enough to use for that purpose. Besides, having a baby is expensive enough, no need to add to it when you can pick up teething rings at just about any store for a reasonable price.

The idea that everything for babies has to be the most expensive top-of-the-line things is just marketing. When it comes down to it, babies need very basic things: a safe place to sleep, food, diapers and lots of love. Everything else is extra and you can be as extra as you'd like but it should never feel like it's a necessity. Your baby will love you whether you have the Baby Brezza or mix their bottles by hand, promise.


This article originally appeared on 9.16.22


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.



Jo Eberhardt, a fantasy writer and mother of two from Australia, penned a reply that is so spot on that it keeps repeatedly popping up on social media. When you nail it, you nail it—and this mother nails it.

"Ah, puberty," she wrote, "It changes our sweet, wonderful little boys into sweet, eye-rolling, angsty, accidentally disrespectful, but still wonderful young proto-men." Yup.

Eberhardt then described a discussion she had with her 11 1/2 -year-old son when he started going through this stage—a conversation they had in the car, which is usually the best place to have potentially uncomfortable discussions with kids.

She told her son that she'd messed up in the way she'd talked to him about puberty, then explained exactly what was happening in his brain.

I've spent all this time talking to you about the way puberty changes your body," Eberhardt told her son, "and what to expect as you go through the changes, but I completely forgot to talk to you about what's going on in your brain right now. Puberty is the time when your brain grows and changes more than at any other time in your life — well, except for when you're a baby, perhaps. So I really let you down by not preparing you for that. I'm so sorry."

Her son accepted her apology, then asked why is his brain was changing.

“That's the amazing thing," she told him. "Did you know that your brain grew and developed so quickly when you were little that by the time you were about five or six, your brain was almost as big and powerful as an adult's brain?"

"But here's the thing," she continued, "Even though your brain was super powerful, the instructions were for a child's brain. And all the information about building an adult's brain was a bit… let's say fuzzy. So your brain did the best it could, but it didn't really know what kind of person you were going to be back then, or what shape brain you were going to need."

“Now we come to puberty," she went on. "See, puberty is amazing. Not only is your body being transformed from a child's body to an adult's body, your brain has to be completely rewritten from a child's brain to an adult's brain."

“That sounds hard," her son responded.

“Yeah, it is," Eberhardt replied. “That's why I wish I'd warned you first. See, it takes a lot of energy to completely rewrite a brain. That's one of the reasons you get tired quicker at the moment — and that, of course, manifests in you being crankier and less patient than normal."

Eberhardt paused, then added, “That must be really frustrating for you."

Her son looked over at her, wiping his eyes. “It is," he responded. Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don't know why."

It's amazing what happens when we explain to kids the physiological reasons for what they're going through.

Eberhardt continued, “The other thing is that one of the first parts of your brain that gets super-sized to be like an adult is the amygdala. That's the part that controls your emotions and your survival instincts. You know how we've talked about fight/flight/freeze before, and how sometimes our brains think that being asked to speak in public is the same level of threat as being attacked by a sabre tooth tiger?"

Her son laughed. “Yes. So you have to tell your brain that there's no sabre tooth tiger to help you calm down."

“That's right," Eberhardt replied. "Well, that's what the amygdala looks after: sabre tooth tiger warnings and big emotions. So, the thing with puberty is that all of a sudden you've got an adult-sized amygdala hitting all your emotion buttons and your sabre-tooth tiger buttons. That must be really hard for you to manage."

Her son nodded and said, “Sometimes I don't know why I say the things I do. They just come out, and then I feel bad."

This is the moment where what a parent says can make or break a kid's spirit. But Eberhardt handled it with empathy and expertise.

“I know, Sweetheart," she said before explaining:

“See, the last part of your brain that gets rewritten is right at the front of your head. It's called the frontal cortex. And that's the part of your brain that's good at decision making and understanding consequences. So you've got this powerful adult amygdala hitting you with massive emotions, but you've still got a fuzzy child frontal cortex that can't make decisions or understand consequences as quickly as the amygdala wants you to. It pretty much sucks."

“So it's not my fault?" her son asked.

“No, it's puberty's fault your brain works the way it does," Eberhardt answered. "But that doesn't mean it's not your responsibility to recognise what's going on and change your actions. It's not easy, but it's not impossible, either. Your feelings are your feelings, and they're always okay. But you get to choose your actions. You get to choose what you do with your feelings. And, when you make a mistake, you get to choose to apologise for that mistake and make amends."

Eberhardt said she then paused for dramatic effect. “That's how you prove that you're becoming an adult."

It's also remarkable what happens when we empathize and communicate with our kids instead of simply chastising them.

Her son responded with a perfectly understandable and relatable, “Puberty sucks."

“Puberty absolutely sucks," Eberhardt responded. “I'm not in your head, but I can only imagine that it's a mess of confusion and chaos, and you don't know from one minute to the next how you feel about things."

Her son looked at her in surprise. “Yes! Exactly!"

“If it's confusing for you living inside there," Eberhardt continued, "imagine how confusing it is for me, when I only see your actions."

“That must be really confusing," her son agreed.

She nodded. “Do you know what that means?"

“What?"

“It means sometimes I'm going to make mistakes. Sometimes I'm going to get upset at things you do because I don't understand what's going on in your head. Sometimes I'm going to forget that you're halfway to being a man, and accidentally treat you like a child. Sometimes I'm going to expect more from you than you're able to give. This is my first time parenting someone through puberty, and I'm going to make mistakes. So can I ask you a favour?"

“What is it?"

“Can you just keep telling me what's going on in your head? The more we talk, the easier it will be for both of us to get through this puberty thing unscathed. Yeah?"

“Yeah," her son said.

When we let our kids know that we're going through these various phases together, it's easier to work with them instead of against them.

Eberhardt said they "had a cuddle" before they got out of the car. She also said this conversation didn't magically make her son always speak respectfully or make her remember that he's not a little boy anymore. However, it did open up lines of communication and gave them a shared language to use.

For example, she wrote, "He knows what I mean when I say, 'Sweetheart, I'm not a sabre tooth tiger.'"

Ebehardt wrapped up her excellent answer by saying that she and her son are "muddling through this crazy puberty thing" together, and that she's "completely confident that he'll come out the other end a sweet, wonderful young man."

It's always so helpful to see examples of good parenting in action. Ms. Eberhardt's response is something all parents can tuck away for the appropriate time. It's also a great reminder that our tweens aren't trying to try us—they're just trying to get used to their new and improved brains.


This story originally appeared on 1.05.19



Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The question every parent has to field at some point.

Every parent, at some point, has to explain to their kids that some words are only to be used in specific situations, among certain company, under just the right circumstances. Since young kids don't have their powers of discernment honed yet, it's often easier to simply tell kids not to use certain words, like the mother of all profanities, the f-bomb.

Eventually, those kids will learn that adults don't always have their sense of discernment honed either, and that swearing is often done haphazardly and without a lot of conscious thought. Perhaps that's how the f-word ended up with so many meanings and usages, a reality hilariously brought to light in a "Father-Daughter Swearing Lesson" skit from The New Yorker.

"Dad, what does 'f**k' mean?" a young girl innocently asks her father while coloring at the kitchen table. His initial stumbling reaction is all too familiar, but as he gets rolling with an explanation, the scene gets funnier and funnier.


(There are multiple f-bombs dropped throughout, so consider this a **language warning.**)

It's really hard as a parent to give age-appropriate answers to questions that don't really have age-appropriate answers, and when you get stuck in that kind of lesson, it's difficult to know when you've carried it too far or not far enough. Chris Gethard captured that tension perfectly, flipping back and forth between responsible parent concerned about his daughter's innocence and basic dude with an appreciation for the f-word.

Both actors nailed their roles in this video. The way the dad discovers his own appreciation for the multi-purpose uses of the f-word as he's explaining its various iterations is just as funny as his daughter's facial expressions throughout the video. (Give that girl an Oscar, stat.)

People in the comments agreed that both performances were excellently delivered.

"Brilliantly acted. This begets a series - of flexible 'bad words.'"

"The daughter's face was priceless. Great short!"

"'Do you know about the cognates? The cognates are amazing.' Brilliant."

"Absolutely brilliant. This should be in every film festival."

People also appreciated the actual explanation of the f-word given by the dad in the skit.

"Great explanation. What struck me is that I grew up in a time in which fathers and daughters could never have had this conversation. What a difference such trust and honesty would have made!"

"Wish my dad had given this answer when I asked in 3rd grade!"

"I once had a similar conversation with someone whose first language is not English. It was quite entertaining and I remember it fondly."

"Brilliant. Perfect in every word and gesture I’d like to study the entire English language with these two."

The best part has to be the ending, though. After all of those explanations of how the f-word is used in various contexts, the ultimate parent line—"never, ever say it"—is just classic. And then the permission to use it one more time, and then one more time after that. It's all so very accurate to how parenting conversations so often go. No one tells you how to handle these kinds of questions, so parents fly by the seat of their pants, always with delightfully unpredictable results.

A couple shares why they decided to leave the United States.

Although it is difficult to tell if there is a trend of Americans moving out of the country, rough estimates show that around 8 million currently live in other countries—double the 4.1 million living abroad in 1999.

The most popular countries for Americans to move to are Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom, in that order.

A big reason why some are leaving the U.S. is that an increasing number of employers allow people to work abroad. Others are choosing to leave because of cost of living increases and “golden visa” programs. Golden visas offer the chance to get a foreign residency permit by purchasing a house or making a significant investment or donation.


A couple is going viral on TikTok because they’ve decided to leave America and move to Spain. Luna Ashley Santel had wanted to move for a long time, but her husband wasn’t on board with the change until he had a lightbulb moment while visiting a Spanish café. The couple are parents of a 4-year-old daughter, and a big reason for their decision to leave is her safety.

@lunagoestospain

Here’s what shifted for him. I’m sure this’ll piss the right people off. No pun intended. #movingabroad #spaindigitalnomadvisa #movingabroadwithpets #movingtospainwithkids

While spending time in Spain, the couple went to a crowded café, which would have made them uncomfortable back home in St. Louis, Missouri.

“There's a ton of people walking around. Being from St. Louis, that's not a very comfortable place for me to be in,” the husband said. “And you turn to me and say, ‘Have you seen all these people?’” he recounted his wife saying.

“And you're like, ‘None of them have guns,’” he continued.

At this moment, he realized that living in America caused him to be on alert whenever he was out in public. A feeling he never got in Spain. “And I realized this weight that I had been carrying around my whole life wasn't necessary. Like what we think is normal is not normal,” he said.

When it comes to firearm policy, Spain and Missouri couldn’t be more different. In Spain, owning a handgun for self-defense is allowed when you are in verifiable danger. In Missouri, there is no permit requirement to carry a firearm, whether it’s concealed or carried openly.

In Spain, the gun death rate per 100,000 people in 2019 was 0.64. Whereas, in Missouri, the chance of being killed by a gun is more than 36 times greater, with 23.2 people per every 100,000 dying by gun in 2021.

The video resonated with many Americans who feel uncomfortable living in a country that has become accustomed to mass shootings.

"There’s so much mental energy we dedicate to simply existing in the U.S.," Mintmage wrote.

"As a father of two young boys, your husband’s explanation has me shook because I cannot disagree," Astrolo-G added.

"That is literally my main motivator for leaving the country. I am terrified for my son," Doula Faye wrote.

Luna’s husband isn’t the only one in the family concerned about school safety in the U.S. Luna, a former teacher of 7 years, believes that sending her daughter to a school where they have “terrifying” intruder drills is unacceptable.

“It's nothing that I want my 5-year-old child to have to accept or learn as normal,” she says in another TikTok post.

@lunagoestospain

Replying to @CholeraMeBadd a huge reason we are getting out. #gettingoutoftheusa #movingabroad #alicedrill #alicedrills #iquitteaching #ididntsignupforthishit #movingtospainwithkids

This article originally appeared on 7.14.23