Mechwarrior dad/baby costume

Ryan Bowen and his baby son Geraint dressed as a mech warrior for Hallowe'en in an awesome effort that turns the child into a brave mecha-pilot.

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Eight evidence-based pregnancy books for science-savvy ladies

…and for their partners, adds Maggie Koerth-Baker, who has read the lot Read the rest

Do Not Combine Baby with Hydrochloric Acid

Maggie Koerth-Baker reviews Shaun Gallagher’s guide to having scientific fun with your brand-new offspring

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Justice League baby socks


The Justice League Infant Socks 6-Pack ($15) is a pretty sweet new-baby gift, likely to be put to grateful use, and a delight when mix-and-matched (baby-socks being the sort of thing that disappear in the wash because they crumple to the size of a spitball). I still harbor free-floating guilt about some of the awesome baby-clothes we got when Poesy was born, because in the hurly-burly of consta-pooping and grosteque sleeplessness, a ton of them ended up being outgrown before they were worn. The exceptions: socks and onesies.

Justice League Infant Socks 6-Pack

Chestburster Onesie

This Alien chestburster onesie was drawn by comics creator Mike Dougherty for a baby-shower. (via Geeks Are Sexy)

Woman dies ... and her daughter is born four months later

Your morning dose of weepies — in which a family is formed and loss turns into love. All with the help of science.

DIY Halloween: Baby Jackhammer Jill

This year, my husband, Chris, and I made a baby and a costume to put her in. Here, Althea Koerth Baker, 4 days old, shows off her Halloween costume and her ability to tolerate parental shenanigans.

The secret to SIDS might be in the ear

Nobody knows what causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. There are a many factors linked by correlation and lots of things that, again, correlate to a reduced risk. But the actual cause (or causes) have been elusive. Fascinatingly, research from Seattle Children's Hospital suggests that inner ear dysfunction and hearing impairment might play a role in some SIDS deaths. Sleeping mice with inner ear problems have a harder time waking themselves when they're positioned in a way that makes it hard to breathe. Meanwhile, a surprising number of SIDS victims were diagnosed with hearing problems.

The science of "new baby smell"

TIL: There are studies that suggest new babies really do smell different, and seem to trigger special brain chemical pathways in women. But, simultaneously, the smells we more consciously associate with "new baby" — i.e., the new baby smell used in baby products and baby-fresh scents — varies widely by culture. Make of this what you will.

Why new parents (and almost-parents) need pertussis vaccines

I'm 38 weeks pregnant now. Two weeks ago, my husband and I both got Tdap vaccines — tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. This despite the fact that we've both gotten Tdaps relatively recently, within the last six years, thanks to a home renovation lifestyle that involves regular exposure to rusty nails.

So why re-up on the Tdap before the birth of our baby? It's all about the pertussis. Also called whooping cough, pertussis is particularly hard on infants. Pre-vaccine, it killed 4000 Americans every year, and most of them were new babies — and infections are on the rise in this country, so there's actually a reasonable risk of a newborn coming into contact with the bacteria that causes pertussis. But the larger problem is with the pertussis vaccine, itself. It doesn't have the staying power it once did. A little over 20 years ago, we switched the formulation for pertussis vaccines. There were good reasons for doing that — the "new" formula has fewer side effects. But it also doesn't seem to protect people as well for as long. In fact, the protection starts to wear off within a year of vaccination.

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B.F. Skinner totally geeks out over the box he built for his baby

The Skinner Box, as applied to human infants, was not what you think it was. Psychologist B.F. Skinner did not raise his daughter inside a box without human contact. Nor did she later grow up to be crazy and commit suicide because of said lack of contact. In fact, just a few years ago, Deborah Skinner Buzan wrote a column for The Guardian debunking those powerful urban legends herself.

Instead, what Skinner did was build his daughter the sort of crib that you might expect a scientist raised in the era of mid-20th-century Popular Science-style scientific futurism and convenience to build. He called it the "Air-Crib" and it was designed to maintain a perfectly comfortable temperature, provide baby Deborah with built-in toys to keep her entertained, be simple to clean, and make it easier to stick to the "cry it out" and heavily regimented feeding/sleeping schedules that were, at the time, standard parenting advice.

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10,000 baby octopuses, 80,000 arms, 1 night to remember

An octopus' life is short — two years is a pretty common lifespan — and heavily focused on reproduction. They only get one shot at carrying on the genetic lineage and die soon after breeding. Babies are born not by the two, or tens, or even hundreds. Instead, tens of thousands of octopus siblings enter the world all at once — tiny, translucent hatchlings that ride the waves and try not to die more quickly than they already must.

This footage of an brood of giant Pacific octopuses hatching was filmed by divers in Puget Sound just a couple of weeks ago.

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How to parent, according to the archives of Popular Science

Popular Science has a great (and occasionally horrifying) slideshow of gadgets it once suggested were essential for enlightened, tech-minded parents. A lot of the inventions merely look way sketchy. For instance, the infant-sized "sleeping porch" that is actually a screened box bolted into an apartment window frame is probably mounted well enough that it's not going to kill anybody. It's just that, from the vantage point of a 100 years later, it seems a little disturbing to stick your baby into something that looks like a large AC window unit.

Other suggestions, though, are legitimately concerning. Above, you can see an image of a nurse "branding" a newborn by essentially sunburning its parent's initials onto its flesh with a UV lamp. In 1938, somebody thought this would be a good way to ensure that nobody left the hospital with the wrong baby.

Second panda cub born dead

A full day after the birth of her cub, panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a second, stillborn, cub. The first cub is still doing great. But the second one had developmental abnormalities and wasn't ever really going to live.

Baby nautilus proves you don't need vertebrae to be adorable

This baby nautilus emerged this week from an egg laid last November at San Diego's Birch Aquarium. For this tiny cephalopod, the process of being born took not hours, or even days, but weeks. The ZooBorns site has a series of photos that show how the nautilus slooooooowly emerged from the egg.

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