This month's postings, February 2009

Bear toyLead me on
Shhhhh! Hear that? It’s the sound of baby toys getting safer, thanks to new federal safety laws that go into effect this month. Starting Feb. 10, standards for lead content get a lot tougher for children’s products; under the new law, the lead limit drops even lower in August. There are also strict standards for certain phthalates, and U.S. manufacturers and importers must now certify that their products meet the new safety standards and the lead ban. One note: Sellers of used products — such as thrift and consignment stores — do not have to certify the products they sell.

Chew on this!
Coca-Cola Co. is getting chewed out by consumer advocates for sketchy claims on its popular product vitaminwater. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) — the same scrappers that blew the lid off movie-theater popcorn — now says Coke crossed the line with claims that drinking vitaminwater will boost immunity and lower the risk of chronic disease. CSPI scientists report that instead, the high level of sugar in vitaminwater promotes obesity and diabetes. Coke says the suit is ridiculous and that the bottles are properly labeled. The 20-oz. bottles sold at my kids’ school is labeled as containing 2.5 “nutrient-enhanced” servings.

Organic carrotVeg out
Speaking of nutrients, if you have a little vegetarian at your house, you’ve got good company! A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that one out of every 200 kids in the United States is a vegetarian — and that number is climbing. CDC researchers say most kids go veg because of concerns over animal welfare, not for nutritional reasons, and they say graphic slaughterhouse video clips on YouTube and other places on the ‘net could be partially responsible for the rise. If your kid is cutting out meat, make sure she’s getting enough protein, vitamins B 12 and D, iron and calcium, say experts — and watch the calories! Kids on vegetarian diets often turn to more fattening foods.

Fat mints
Oh, they can be so fattening, especially the way I eat Thin Mints (by the shovelful!), but this year, the Girl Scouts are offering two sweet alternatives to plumping up for charity. On the one hand, there is a new sugar-free chocolate chip cookie. On the other, there’s the option to donate your boxes of cookies back to the Scouts, who then donate them to our military troops overseas. Last year, Girl Scouts in Western Washington sent more than 72,000 boxes of cookies to troops! Watch for those patch-covered cuties outside grocery stores, starting Feb. 27.

Going fast!
Seriously, don’t get left out in the cold this year when our Gottman lecture sells out. This is the hottest ticket around for parents whose marriages could use a little post-baby tune-up (i.e., everyone!). Dr. John Gottman is one of three world-class experts we’re bringing to you in March as part of our Pathways Lecture Series. Check out Alfie Kohn (recently on Oprah) and our second annual Mom’s Night Out, too. Get your tickets pronto at

Son of Pathways
When our pals at Swedish Hospital asked us for a play date, we had to agree. After snack time and a nap, a new idea was born: the Birthways Lecture Series! Just for new and expecting parents, with topics ranging from spiffing up your marriage to fertility issues to boosting baby’s brains, the lectures start in March. For more information, visit

—Kristen Russell Dobson

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