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The surprisingly simple parenting advice that almost always works, even when all else fails

It's meant for babies and toddlers but works like a charm on kids of all ages.

Baby splashing in bucket outside
Photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash

Baby playing with water in a bucket.

Becoming a parent is many things—exciting, scary, joyful, messy, wonder-filled, smelly—but mostly it's a bit overwhelming. Even if you are thrilled with having a baby, there's a lot you have to learn and figure out as you go. To help you through that learning process, there are about a thousand parenting books filled with "expert" advice, at least half of which simply won't work for you or your kid.

Genuinely universally helpful parenting advice is a unicorn; it simply doesn't exist. But occasionally, a golden piece of age-old child-rearing wisdom manages to break through the noise—something that works most of the time for most kids and parents. Something your grandma or auntie passed along that sounds too simple to be effective, yet works like a charm. Something that few if any people could possibly find controversial or problematic.



Something like: "Put them in water or take them outside."

This advice was highlighted by The Motherhood Project in 2021 and has been shared on Facebook more than 123,000 times.

The "water or outside" advice is generally used for babies or toddlers who are inconsolable, as wee ones are known for screaming like banshees for no apparent reason and throwing conniption fits with no apparent prompting.

"Apparent" is the key here, of course—logically, there must be some reason for wailing as if being tortured—but most babies and most toddlers aren't able to verbally articulate their issue, and sometimes that issue might be as simple as "I don't want to be where I am or doing what I'm doing."

Once you've determined the kiddo is not injured in some way, "Put them in water or take the outside" is solid advice that often works when all else fails. And thankfully, it's effective for tiny people as well as older kids (and honestly, sometimes even teenagers). A bath, pool or shower is often just the distraction or soothing sensory experience needed to snap them out of whatever mood they're in. And fresh air and sunlight are simple human needs that many of us neglect too often—a reality that becomes all too clear when you take kids outside and the drama all melts away within minutes.

Of course, there are caveats here. Some babies absolutely hate the bath. Some kids have sensory issues that are triggered by certain outdoor environments. So it's not universally foolproof, but it's definitely worth trying.

Countless commenters testified to the efficacy of the "put them in water or take them outside" advice.

"I didn't hear this until after I had my 2nd baby," wrote one mom. "I used it with my 3rd often, and it truly does work. So mad I heard a lot of terrible advice before learning this one!"

"Yes!! And I even give my daughter a bath during dinner time and feed her in the bath sometimes cause she gets so hangry she can’t calm down enough to eat. But in the bath, she naturally calms down enough to eat while she’s playing. She’s almost 5 and we’ve been doing this most of her life. Even did it tonight again," shared another mother.

One mom shared that it works with her older autistic son: "When my 12 year old autistic son gets overly fractious he either goes in the bath or goes outside....... always works ❤."

Another expanded the idea to "just add water," including things like watercolor, playing in the sink, etc.: "I have heard the phrase 'just add water' as well. When things are crazy just think of ways to add water to it. Waterpaints, playing with the hose outside, taking a bath, filling the sink up and adding toys, fill small Tupperware bowls with water and let their imagination go wild, taking a drink, giving them a wet paper towel for ouchies, etc. It's one of my favorite pieces of advice I've gotten."

Some parents shared that holding their colicky newborn in the shower was the only thing that helped calm them down. Others said that baths were a sanity saver for their kids' entire early childhoods. Some said that simply stepping outside with a cranky baby was enough to get them to stop fussing most of the time.

It's good advice for us adults, too, when we're feeling frazzled. Soaking in a tub or going for a walk seem like such simple things, but they really can make a huge difference in how we feel and how we view things.

Add water or go outside: A solid tip for new parents and a great life hack for all ages.

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In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.

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Parents are debating over whether to give children "adult" or "baby" names.

The names we choose to give our children can significantly impact their lives. Multiple studies from across the globe have found that a person’s name can influence their employment, social and economic outcomes.

Unfortunately, humans make snap judgments about one another, and having an unusual name can lead people to make unflattering assumptions. “We’re hardwired to try to figure out in a heartbeat whether or not we want to trust somebody, whether we want to run from somebody,” Northwestern University researcher David Figlio said, according to Live Science.

However, an increasing number of parents are giving their children non-traditional names to help them stand out. “Parents are trying to be original, almost branding their kids in an era where names are viewed on the same level as Twitter handles or a website URL,” writer Sabrina Rogers-Anderson said.

Ruby, a mother on TikTok, took a hard stance on parents giving their children names that sound childish in a post that’s received over 11 million views. Ruby says she named her kids as “adults, not babies” hoping they would never “outgrow” their names.

@rubyyvillarreal

#stitch with @nikkiruble love having nicknames as they are younger and it doesnt mean they will perfer it over their name as they get older. Just gives them options 🤷🏻‍♀️ #nicknames #babynames #babytok #adultnames #pregnancytiktok #toddlersoftiktok #momtok #momlife #babynames #babyname

“The whole concept when I was trying to look for a name and choose a name for her is I did not want her to outgrow her name,” she said in the viral video. “I wanted the name to fit her as a baby, as a toddler, as a child, and into adulthood. So, it's like I really am happy with what I ended up with naming her and it just fits her so well.”

She captioned the video, “love having nicknames as they are younger and it doesn’t mean they will prefer it over their name as they get older. Just gives them options.”

People in the comments responded with modern names they think that kids will outgrow.

"My name is Koazy and I’m here for a job interview," Stalker joked. "Hello sir, I am Bluey Mason Garrison! I was called in for a job interview last Tuesday," Pastel Purr added.

"I can’t imagine knowing [a] 30-year-old named Emma or Posie," Mikey wrote.

However, a lot of people commented that names that seem like they’ll be outgrown will sound fine in the future when those names are popular with the new generation. “Kids grow up with their generation having their own names on trend. They will be normal adult names when they are grown,” Kerry wrote.

“Names grow with the generation,” Lauren added. “The name Dennis sounded like a baby name once too. Names grow up just like generations.”

@rubyyvillarreal

Replying to @19eighty_5 my kids name and the process 😬 #babynames #nicknames #babytok #adultnames #momsoftiktok #momlife #momtok #pregnancytiktok #toddlersoftiktok #babyname #babyfever

In a follow-up video, Ruby shared the names she gave her children. Her girl is named Karla Esmerelda and her boy is called Deluca.

“I just really liked how simple, how bold, and strong that the name by itself just really kind of is. Doing some research names with the letter K tend to be like very bold and powerful names, so I really wanted it with a K and not with a C,” she said.

She named her son Deluca, after a doctor on “Grey’s Anatomy.” She said she chose the name because there was nothing to connect it to, and it sounded “nice.”


This article originally appeared on 4.26.23

All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


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