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12 Top Parenting Trends for 2011
What's going to be in this year? From milk sharing to educational iPad apps, we take a look back at the biggest parenting and family stories of the last year to predict 12 trends that will be hot in 2011.
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The iPad Gets Educational
With the launch of the iPad tablet in April 2010, companies rushed to create cool apps for it. Already a fun tool for distracting kids during long car rides, the iPad will go educational in 2011. "I see the continued development of age-appropriate apps for kids," says Leticia Barr, a technology expert who writes the Tech Savvy Mama blog. "Trusted names with great reputations for providing educational content, like PBS Kids and Scholastic, will keep developing high-quality mobile content to enhance learning on the go." We're part of the trend too; have you downloaded our iPad app, Parenting Seasons, yet?
New Designer Kid Lines
What's a good sign the economy may be taking a turn for the better? The launch of luxe kiddie lines from designers like Stella McCartney, who debuted a cool collection in 2010. We see the trend continuing in 2011 with the expected launch of Fendi, D&G, and Gucci kid lines (Jennifer Lopez's twins model the latter, natch). Good news: even the non-rich&famous can get the designer look with the launch of Splendid Littles for Target, on sale at the end of December 2010.
Catching Up to Bullying Crisis
A rash of teen suicides in 2010 shone a major spotlight on the problem of bullying. With so many more platforms for public cruelty—e-mail, Facebook, twitter, texting—parents and school administrators have been scrambling to keep up. Online campaigns like It Gets Better and Say It to My Face have popped up to combat the problem, but we predict (and hope) school policies and prevention programs will fall into place in 2011, and parents will use bullying stories in the news as a springboard for conversations with their own kids, so next year, we can report that bullies are out.
DIY in the Nursery
Handy types are taking to kid rooms, customizing them with creative touches. "DIY has never been bigger in the nursery. From hardcore woodworkers designing and building their own cribs to sewing pompom trim onto curtains and hand-painting murals, parents are adding personal touches to their child's first room in both big and small ways," says Carrie McBride, managing editor of Ohdeedoh, a kid's design blog. "DIY is not just a way to save money, although that's a bonus, but it gives parents the freedom to think (and buy) outside the box."
New Standards for Car Seats
Isn't it shocking to watch a period show like Mad Men and see an infant riding in his mother's arms in the front seat? In coming years, we predict people will have the same reaction to images of babies in forward-facing car seats and in their parents' laps on airplanes. Although the AAP updated its guidelines for rear-facing car seats in 2009, word is still trickling down to pediatricians and parents. We think 2011 is the year it will become the norm to keep kids rear-facing as long as possible, to the highest weight and height allowed by their convertible car seat.
Along the same lines, the National Transportation Board recommends all airline passengers, including children under two, be restrained in their own seat, but the Federal Aviation Administration has been hesitant to follow suit, since buying another ticket means many families won't fly at all. We think parents will begin to recognize the danger unexpected turbulence can cause to unrestrained kids, and will start shelling out for that extra seat in 2011.
Breastmilk Sharing Goes Mainstream
Wet nurses were once common, but somewhere along the way the idea of sharing breastmilk became icky. Although many people still feel uncomfortable with the idea, more and more moms who can't nurse are turning to donor milk to feed their babies. Our own blogger, Taylor Newman, did it, and grassroots organization Eats on Feets uses Facebook to connect donors with kids in need, since milk banks require a prescription, are expensive and usually just serve preemies or babies with medical issues. The FDA gave a nod to this growing trend, stepping in to offer a warning about safety risks and to offer guidelines on how to make it safer.
Buzzy pieces from Jennifer Senior in New York Magazine and Erica Jong in the The Wall Street Journal gave voice to the angst associated with being helicopter parents who micromanage their kids' time and always put themselves last. Might 2011 be the year parents swing toward a more low-key parenting style, where kids learn to entertain themselves more, and Mommy actually gets a few minutes to read a magazine?
"I'm positive that's going to happen. I've been to three conferences recently about the importance of unsupervised play," says Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry, who also writes the Free-Range Kids blog. "All the yuppie over-involved parents are realizing the most enriching, helpful thing you can do for your children to help them develop socially is to leave them alone and make them fill up their own time."
Dressing Like Your Parents
To predict what will be hot in kid fashion, just look at your own clothes. "Kids' clothes take many of their trends from the adult market and nowadays it doesn't always take a year to snap up the trend," says Alison Deyette, style expert for thefind.com, a shopping search engine. "For women, we're seeing pairing of orange and hot pink in the resort collections and lots of soft floral patterns in dresses and skirts for spring. For little girls that's translated to lots of coral and floral.
Where nautical themes, stripes and scarves worn with any outfits were huge for women in 2010, it will be for girls in 2011 once the temperatures hit 70 degrees. We'll be seeing ruffles and rosettes dominating tees, denim button-down shirts worn with the sleeves rolled up and full skirts with striped patterns. For boys, the trends don't change often. We'll still be seeing plaid button-down shirts, striped polos, argyle sweaters and my favorite, the army-inspired cargo style jacket that their cool dads have been wearing since fall."
Letting the Internet Decide
Not sure what to name your baby? Let Facebook figure it out. Not sure whether to keep your baby? Let strangers vote online. Personal decisions were put to the online public in 2010. We're sad to say we see this TMI polling continuing into 2011, with more than 550 million people now on Facebook (that's a lot of potential for people with boundary issues). What's next: letting your internet vote on whether you should circumcise?
You know you want one, and maybe it's time you got this hot remote-free gaming system, which we expect to become ubiquitous in 2011. "The Kinect will be crazy big because of the ability for families to engage in gaming together without the added cost of extra controllers and devices needed for game play," says Leticia Barr, aka Tech Savvy Mama. No controllers means even little kids still working on refined motor skills can give it a try.
Nursing Comes Out of the Closet
Women have breastfed since forever, but now it's becoming part of pop culture. From Gisele opining that breastfeeding for less than six months should be illegal to Kourtney Kardashian pumping on her reality show to Julie Bowen proudly showing a photo of her breastfeeding her twins on a late-night talk show, it's becoming de rigueur to chat about nursing with zero embarrassment. This new openness about the joys and struggles of nursing will encourage even more new moms to give it a try in 2011.
Look around you: you'll see all sorts of families, comprised of all different skin colors and cultural traditions, and now toy companies are catching on. "In 2011, toys will be smarter and socially more diversified to better reflect the population, culture and preferences of different families," says Steveanne Auerbach, aka Dr. Toy.