The week's best parenting advice: May 23, 2022

Toddler vaccines revisited (again), say goodbye to your crib bumper, and more

A toddler.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

1. Toddler vaccines revisited (again)

Pfizer and BioNTech have announced that three doses of their coronavirus vaccine produce a strong immune response in children under 5, reports Sharon LaFraniere in The New York Times. While previous trials of a two-dose regime produced lackluster results, the three-dose regimen was 80 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection. Too few children fell ill to definitively assess vaccine efficacy, "but Pfizer said that the new results showed that three doses, with the third given at least two months after the second, stimulated the immune system to strongly protect against the virus, with no safety concerns," writes LaFraniere.

The New York Times

2. Say goodbye to your crib bumper

President Biden has signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act of 2021, a law banning the manufacture and sale of crib bumpers and some inclined infant sleepers that pose a risk of suffocation to babies, reports Joe Hernandez for NPR. The new law outlaws products "aimed at preventing babies from injuring themselves on the sides of a crib or fitting between the slats, such as padded crib bumpers, vinyl bumper guards, and vertical crib slat covers" as well as sleepers with an incline greater than 10 degrees. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, crib bumpers have been linked to 83 infant deaths; inclined sleepers to 97.

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3. How to think about fevers

Fevers can be scary for parents and uncomfortable for kids, but they don't necessarily require medication, writes Ada Fenick in Parents. "Fever has a bad reputation, but it is typically good for us when we are sick." It's a sign that a child's immune system is revving up to fight off an infection. "That's because our immune cells work better at a higher temperature, but the pathogens don't," writes Fenick. And while fevers can be uncomfortable and cause kids to lose fluids more quickly, they don't typically cause children any direct harm. This isn't to say that fevers aren't a cause for concern, only that the fever itself isn't the problem. "That's why you typically don't need to rush to get fever-reducing medications — unless there is a fear of a child getting dehydrated or they are feeling pain," writes Fenick.


4. The difference between temper tantrums and autism meltdowns

Temper tantrums and autism meltdowns often look similar, "but the causes and strategies to manage them are vastly different," writes Suzie Glassman in Fatherly. Tantrums are a normal part of a child's development, usually triggered by a child not getting what they want, and kids eventually outgrow them. "Autism meltdowns, however, have no age limit," Glassman writes, "They result from a buildup of sensory or emotional stimulation that chips away at a child's ability to control their behavior." And while the remedy for tantrums is to ignore them, autism meltdowns require a game-plan for managing sensory overload, which "will be different for everyone," says Noor Pervez, the community engagement manager for the Autism Self Advocacy Network. "One child might want a weighted blanket, their choice of music, or to be left alone. Another might prefer physical contact, like the pressure from a service animal or a tight hug."


5. Is it safe to share breastmilk?

As the formula shortage drags on, many American parents are understandably turning to informal breastmilk sharing networks to feed their babies, but doing so comes with risks, writes Catherine Pearson in The New York Times. While formal milk sharing is done through milk banks that screen donors for health problems, medication, and substance use, casual sharing networks lack those measures. Because parents cannot know for sure whether breast milk they get from a friend or an online group is safe, the A.A.P. recommends turning to an accredited milk bank if possible. If you do choose the informal route, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends screening potential donors. "Discuss whether the donor is taking any medications or herbs; whether they have been screened for conditions like H.I.V. and hepatitis B (which can be transmitted via breast milk); and whether they engage in activities like drinking alcohol or using marijuana," writes Pearson.

The New York Times

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