Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shaken Baby Syndrome

This morning on the WUSA9 News Now program Annette Cooper; our managing editor and Peggy Fox will be discussing Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Shaken Baby Syndrome has recently touched our Washington FAMILY Magazine family. A former employee is currently dealing with the tragic aftermath of her five-month-old being diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, her baby and her entire family. The following is an exert from an article written by Amy Bevins, our assistant editor. The article will appear in the June issue of Washington FAMILY Magazine.
If you’ve ever been around a crying baby, you know how hard coping and handling the frustration can be.

But what happens when you or another caregiver SNAPS? Gives in to the overwhelming emotion and lashes out – shaking the baby to stop the crying.

Shaken Baby Syndrome, or SBS, impacts thousands of children and families each year. SBS usually occurs when a young child (primarily 0-2 years, but seen in children up to 5) is violently shaken back and forth and/or slammed into a soft or hard surface. Crying is the number one trigger for SBS, but feeding and toileting difficulties are also frequent triggers.

A baby has a disproportionately large head and a weak neck. When shaken, the fragile brain slams back and forth, tearing blood vessels and brain tissue and often causing retinal hemorrhaging. The bleeding and subsequent brain swelling commonly causes further brain damage.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (, common symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome include:
Lethargy/decreased muscle tone
Extreme irritability
Decreased appetite, poor feeding or vomiting for no apparent reason
Grab-type bruises on arms or chest are rare
No smiling or vocalization
Poor sucking or swallowing
Rigidity or posturing
Difficulty breathing
Head or forehead appears larger than usual or soft-spot on head appears to be bulging
Inability to lift head
Inability of eyes to focus or track movement or unequal size of pupils

Immediate medical attention is critical to helping a child survive a violent shaking.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is preventable.
Providing caregivers with skills to cope with crying babies is essential to preventing SBS. According to The Shaken Baby Alliance (, “Babies cry to communicate, and most babies cry several hours each day. It is the caregiver’s job to learn how to cope with a crying baby, not make the baby stop crying.”
The Shaken Baby Alliance offers the following tips for how to cope with a crying baby:
Check to see that the baby’s basic needs (food, diapering, appropriate clothing, burping, etc.) are met.
Offer the baby a pacifier.
Take the baby for a ride in a stroller or car.
Call a friend, relative, or neighbor.
If a baby’s crying becomes intolerable, put the baby in a safe place such a crib, swing, or car seat and get yourself away from the baby. Take a break, cool down, and remember that it is the baby’s job to cry. It is your job to cope with this crying. Children are not injured by crying, but they can be severely injured or even killed by a caregiver who becomes frustrated and takes this frustration out on the child.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is a preventable, serious, abusive trauma in which 25% to 35% of victims die and a significant percentage of the survivors have lifelong disabilities. The best prevention of SBS is education of caregivers.
So the next time your baby has you at your wits end with non-stop howling, close your eyes, take a deep breath – and do your job. Your baby certainly is.

Shaken Baby Syndrome has recently touched our Washington FAMILY Magazine family. A former employee is currently dealing with the tragic aftermath of her five-month-old being diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, her baby and her entire family.
To learn more, please visit

Helpful Resources:
The Shaken Baby Alliance (
The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (
Please if you know someone who can benefit from this information, please pass it along.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blogging Mothers

This morning on the WUSA9 News Now show, Liz McConville, the Resource Editor for Washington FAMILY Magazine along with Janine Nickel, a blogger on the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site visited with Peggy Fox about mom bloggers. The number of moms who are online and blogging has really exploded in recent months.
If you search for the word “blog” in Google’s search engine you will find 361,000,000 results, and if you type in “mom blog” the results total 23,600,000. People are creating blogs daily for a variety of reasons but one thing remains the same, a blog is a place where someone posts information for others to read about. Bloggers are creating a space for themselves on the internet that they control where they can say whatever is on their mind.
According to, 83% of all global female bloggers had personal blogs and 91% of female bloggers were over the age of 25. Women were more likely to use blogs as a way to stay connected to others, whether it be to update family and friends about their lives or to seek out like minded people. Women wrote conversationally about topics that others could relate to.
A blog is short for the term weblog, which is a web site that contains personal entries. Blogs are maintained regularly and are similar to an online journal. Past entries are kept in an archive and the most recent post appears at the top of the page. People can post comments on entries.
Blogs have become popular because they are a place where moms can vent, rave and chronicle their lives. Subjects can cover a range of topics from kids to marriage to the daily routines of life. There are topics that range from diapers, personal reviews, and reflections on what’s happening in the news. No topic is off limits since blogs are solely dependent on the person who posts them.
Blogs are a great place for moms to relate to each other. Someone can read a post on a blog about the difficulty of potty training and feel that there is someone out there that is going through something similar to what they are. A mom can find answers to questions that they had been looking for. Sometimes it helps to know that you aren’t alone.
Here are a few local bloggers you might want to know:
The MomTini Lounge
The MomTini Lounge is a blog about “the business of motherhood.” Regular posts about kids and home -- parenting, childcare, teens, chores, online safety, and more. A “go-to” for the “how-to” of being a productive, organized mom. She wants to make the site user-friendly and a place where moms can come to relax, chat and get information that they need.
A Parent in Silver
Aimed at the Washington DC area, the Silver Spring area in particular, this blog focuses on places to go and what’s going on in the area. Jessica McFadden’s goal “is to provide a fun, free and accessible resource for Washington families, especially those good citizens of Silver Spring, Maryland.”
Two for the Price of One
After finding her college application essay in 2007, Janine Nickel felt inspired to begin writing again and after having twins she realized that she had enough material to start her own blog. Where she’s going with this blog: “My goal for this blog is to record my life, entertain those reading it, and when applicable, inform.” DC Metro Moms Blog
A blog that follows a group of moms in DC area as they write about their lives living in the Nation’s Capital. It changes all the time and you don’t necessarily get the same blogger each time you go to the site.
This is the blog for FAMILY Magazine. I talk about what is going on in the Washington area and topics of interest from the magazine and from the social networking site I also talk about the MEET UPS that are going on in the area for our Moms Do Lunch™ events.
Terms you might want to know:
Twitter: A free social messaging system that connects people with the simple phrase of “What are you doing?” The message can only be a maximum of 140 characters. It is a place where people can find out what someone is doing at a moment’s notice.
Blogosphere: referring to the world of blogs
Blogger: Someone who blogs regularly
Vlog: Short for a video blog or a blog that contains videos
Discussion Thread: Consisting of messages posted within a specific topic of an online discussion and are usually listed with the most current post at the top.
Message Board: an online discussion site or internet forum
If you haven’t been following any of the mom blogs that are out there, you might want to check them out. Or, you might even want to start your own. Here at FAMILY Magazine we have several mom bloggers that we follow. If you think your blog might be of interest to the moms who visit our site, let me know. We are always looking for local mom connections.
Have a great Monday and Happy Parenting!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mother's Day Survey Results

Becoming a mother is a transforming experience. And, although you may think you know what it is going to be like, it never turns out that way.

Washington FAMILY Magazine surveyed the mothers on the WUSA9 Moms Like Me web site for their thoughts and opinions about motherhood. Some of the results were amusing but they were all very informative.

This week on WUSA9 News Now we discussed the results of our survey of moms.

We asked moms some questions about motherhood because we wanted to see what moms thought about being a mother and then to also ask them what their perfect gift was for the upcoming Mother’s Day. I think you will find the results very interesting. We are working on posting as many of the comments on our web site as we can.


What is the most important part of motherhood?
Robin, a mom from DC told us that she felt the most important part of motherhood was to provide our children with opportunities to learn, have fun and to help them experience the world around them. Those are wonderful comments.

Other moms said:
--Enjoying the precious moments
--Loving each child as a unique individual
--Developing a strong bond between mother and child
--Instilling strong family values
--Giving unconditional love
--Balancing life

What is the hardest part of motherhood?
One mom, Lauren said the hardest part was keeping up your energy and stamina so she could give her all to her baby. Those first months are very difficult.

Some other moms told us the hardest was --
--Making the most of the time you have with your children
--Enjoying the moment while your job is very important
--Being in charge all the time
--Becoming selfless
--Saying no and tough love
--Not feeling guilt because I am a working mom
--Motherhood is hard but the rewards are great
--Finding time for me
--Learning to be patient

What makes you feel appreciated? (I feel appreciated as a mother when . . . )
Most of our moms told us the same thing. They feel appreciate when their children give them hugs, smiles and say thank you. One mom said, “I feel appreciated when they tuck me in at night instead of the other way around.”

Things that made mom feel appreciated were:
--Hugs and kisses
--Thank you or notes of thanks
--Chores or actions done before I ask (several said this)
--Having the kids run and hug me when I pick them up

What have you learned from being a mother that you didn’t expect?
I think Lauren put it best on this one. You are never “off.” You are always on duty or on call. That never changes no matter what the age of your children.

Kirstin also has some wonderful words. “I have a brand new relationship with my own mother. I see her in a totally different light and now see all the sacrifices she made for me---without ever expecting a thank you or even a bit of recognition. It is comforting to know that someone has the same strong feelings for me that I have for my own children.”

Tina told us this, “My actions shine through in my children. The way you communicate with the world and your child shows itself through our child when they start communicating and you realize they are a mini-me of you. Reflection of my childhood, my parents, understanding that life isn't about you, but what you give back to it. Becoming a better person and understanding people. Becoming your own mother!”

Other moms shared these thoughts:
--Kids are amazing and seeing life through their eyes is amazing
--Patience is an important part of motherhood and hard to develop
--You learn from the good times and the hard times
--You need to think like a child instead of an adult
--Family plays an important part in a child’s life
--I can get by with just a few hours of sleep
--How incredibly bonding child rearing is for marriage and extended family
--Letting go is difficult but important
--I can’t do it all

What was your mother right about? (and you thought she was wrong)
WOW, this one was a great question and we had some wonderful comments. Kami told us her mom was right about everything and she could not believe that she was such a know it all when she was growing up.

It is amazing when you have your own children you even sometimes hear your mother speaking through your own words. Many of the moms told us they appreciate their own mothers much more now that they have children.

Other moms told us their mom was right about –
--Everything (and it is so annoying)
--Be nice to your siblings. They will be your best friends later in life.
--Two is enough (her mom had 3 kids)
--Mom was right about everything and I did not realize it
--Time go quickly
--What goes around comes around

What’s the perfect Mother’s Day gift for you?
Moms out there are not looking for gifts or even flowers. There was a serious common thread. They all want relaxed enjoyable time with their husband and children with memories they could cherish. Many said they wanted a day with no decisions and no responsibilities.

The second best gift was a spa treatment. I think they all want that “time off” that they never get.

Here are the things our moms want for Mother’s Day:
--Spa package
--Massage, facial, manicure and pedicure
--Hot tub and a massage
--Husband cooking dinner
--Let me sleep in while husband gets the kids up and fed
--Dinner out with or without a babysitter
--A relaxed day with no stress
--Hand written cards from the kids
--Photos of the kids for purse or office
--Memories to cherish

Tina said something that I thought was just wonderful and very touching. She said, “Having children is like opening a xmas or birthday gift every day! It's that much joy!

That was a wonderful thought.

Thanks to all the moms who shared their thoughts and feelings. One mom, Monika said that it was a fun exercise and really made her think about being a parent. I never thought it that way.

Maybe it is good every once in a while to stand back and think about our job as a mother, the impact we have on the world and the joys we are receiving.


Our first Moms event is going to be on May 8 at the Rio Grande restaurant in Reston, Virginia. MomsLike Me, WFM and WASH FM radio will be hosting a special happy hour for moms. This will be an opportunity for all the moms who have been networking on the MLM site to get together and meet. We will have food and prizes as well as get to know each other.

It happens to be my birthday and several other moms as well so it will be a fun celebration. AND, we will be giving away that Spa Treatment that all the moms say they are looking for.

Go to the WFM web site and click on WEB EXTRAS. All the information will be there for the event as well as 2 other lunchtime events that will be taking place during May.

Until then, Happy Parenting!

And, Happy Mother’s Day!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fun in Bethesda at Celebrate Mama!

On Saturday FAMILY Magazine was fortunate to be a part of a terrific street festival in Bethesda, Maryland called Celebrate Mama!

They closed down the street at Woodmont Avenue and Bethesda Avenue. It was so perfect for families to walk down the street and enjoy the exhibitors and the entertainment.

It was a great event and super fun. Our area was set up with our popular shaving cream (science experiment) craft. If you haven’t done this with us at an event – you can find the instructions on our site – click here. This activity is at the very bottom of the list. Lots of kids and their parents stopped by to enjoy this really cool craft.

There were exhibitors at the event from all over the region. Several mom web sites were also exhibitors. And, there were even some retailers who sell online. It was great fun just to walk around and see all the resources available to moms and dads.

Of course, there were freebies as well. At our booth we had first aid kits from that went really fast. When ours were gone, we sent parents over to the Holy Cross Hospital tent for more.

Thanks to all the parents who came by and told us how much they like reading our magazine. We sincerely appreciate all your comments. It is great to meet our readers face to face. It was surprising how many dads we met that were at the event with their kids.

If you want to hear some more comments about the event, Jessica McFadden’s blog has some great write ups and she also has links to all the exhibitors who were at Celebrate Mama! Here is the link to her comments.

Do you have any events or fairs you have attended lately that you would like to share with us? We would love to hear what parents in the Washington region have been doing for fun. And, please share your pictures with us.

Happy Sunday and Happy Parenting,