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For more than 20 years, countries around the world have been celebrating World Breastfeeding Week as a way to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and its many benefits for mothers and babies.

Any mom who has breastfed knows that, well, it's not as easy as it looks. In the earliest stages there can be problems with your baby latching on. It takes an enormous time commitment (on top of everything that is new parenthood). It's difficult to breastfeed if you are going back to work (you'll have to pump, and some workplaces still don't have adequate facilities for pumping moms). And you likely won't sleep for more than three hours at a time for as long as you're doing it.

And those are just the practical concerns. Add in society's seemingly endless enthusiasm for judging new and seasoned moms for breastfeeding in public, and you've got the potential for causing some serious pearl-clutching, even if you don't end up on the cover of a national magazine because you dare to breastfeed your toddler, or make headlines because, horror of horrors, you fed your hungry baby in public.

But given all of this, breastfeeding moms are a resilient bunch, and that's a good thing. The rewards of nursing to mom and baby are significant.

It is one of the most important skills that predicts a child's success in the classroom, but teaching a child to focus is something that baffles many parents.

Most children begin developing the ability to concentrate on tasks and activities before they are even born. And with the help of parents and teachers, children can begin cultivating that skill at a very young age.

Each night, MJ says her prayers and blesses all the important people in her life. But the last name she whispers, the name she knows but for a person she has never met, makes me stop to catch my breath every time she says it.

It’s my mom’s name. And this week marks the tenth year we’ve been surviving without her.

Learn to communicate with your infant through loving touch, applying strokes that enhance bonding and attachment. Infant massage promotes better sleep, motor and nervous system development. Classes are designed for you and your baby. This is a one-time class. $20 per parent/baby. At St. Luke's Hospital Institute for Health Education. 9:30-10:30 a.m.
More information and to sign up:

West County
Age Ranges: 
Parent with Child

Even if you are living under a rock, you probably know that health care reform is a hot topic. I’m not trying to start a political debate here, but I need to throw in my two cents' worth on the subject: weekly massages for every American. The country would be so much more relaxed, healthy and happy if we had the kinks worked out every week. And we would be less cranky and more productive.

But massage's benefits aren't reserved for adults. Children can reap its rewards, too. Besides being a great bonding experience, massage can help babies relax, sleep better and cry less.

Over the past two decades, infant deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome have been declining – good news for sure, and a lot of credit goes to the Back to Sleep campaign that teaches parents to lay newborns down on their backs for the first year of life.

A couple of years ago, my friend started calling his 3-month-old Matthew “Money” after the Weird Al Yankovic lyric – “I call him ‘Money’ for short.” The name became so engrained in the family’s life that one day when my friend’s wife mentioned planning a party for Matthew, my friend was confused for a moment who Matthew was.

As parents, we all come up with silly little nicknames that bond us to our kids, from the pointless (my husband and I call our 3-year-old by her initials although she already has an insanely short name. Three letters are a mouthful, man!) to the warm and fuzzy (my best friend calls her son Sam, Sam-a-Lam-a-Ding-Dong).

So why do we reach for nicknames after spending nine months choosing the perfect names for our little ones? It’s pretty simple, according to Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard and the brain behind “Baby nicknames are more for the parents than the babies," she said via e-mail. "We're expressing our emotions through the names. Also, a grown-up name like Sebastian or Victoria can be something you have to grow into. If your baby is being giggly or wiggly, a more giggly-wiggly name may fit the moment better. And the babies like that we're making silly sounds with big smiles on our faces!”

I love hearing how people come up with their nicknames, so I asked some friends to share the stories behind their choices.

New and expectant parents, our upcoming Summer issue of St. Louis Kids Magazine is for you!  It’ll be arriving on newsstands soon. In the meantime, we’ve compiled the wisdom of hindsight from eight St. Louis-area moms. They share what they wish they’d known ahead of time – and in some cases, even second- and third-time moms found out that they still had a learning curve when the new baby arrived.

We’re used to hearing medical experts talk about new treatments and drugs, but in one area, infant nutrition, they’re all in favor of the oldest method there is: breastfeeding. While formula is a necessary option for some moms, doctors and child development researchers agree that breast milk is best for babies. This is a big contrast to 40 years ago, when not even 25 percent of moms nursed at all. Now, a new report says, the national average of those who’ve ever nursed is nearly 75 percent.