The Best Way to Safely Get Rid of Mucus or Baby Snot

April 29, 2018 in Fatherly, Parenting

Babies produce a massive amount of snot and mucus — so much that, at times, it feels like a genuine achievement. It kind of is. Snot is essentially a filtration system that helps flush harmful bacteria and viral infections from the body. So all that nose drooling is keeping them healthy. That’s nice, but it doesn’t make it any less gross or making sure that it doesn’t get on the couch or strangers or the dog any less gross. Doing that safely is, as it turns out, a bit tricky. There are harmful side effects even to wiping a baby’s nose too often, which can cause extreme skin irritation under the nose. Throw in some more advanced baby-care tools — squeezable bulbs, elaborate booger straws like Fridas — and parents could easily become overzealous when removing snot and mucus.


The key thing to remember is moderation in all things, even snot.

Suction devices can be a godsend, but should be used at most a few times a day, with saline drops helping to loosen up mucus. If the child is showing signs of irritation, they should be abandoned to avoid damaging the nasal passages. “You don’t want to over-suction: It actually tells the body to create more snot,” says Sarah Stampflee, assistant nurse manager at the Randall Children’s Hospital NICU in Portland, Oregon. “The reason we have snot is to excrete the virus or bacteria, so the more you suck the boogers, the more they’ll actually produce.”

This is compounded by the fact that even the gentlest suction device can transform a changing table into what looks like a medieval torture device, with a flailing, screaming baby pinned down by a parent just trying to give them relief. This can be physically and psychologically harmful.

“I wouldn’t recommend holding them down because it isn’t pleasant and they can get some mixed messages that may create anxiety when they see (the apparatus),” Stampflee says.”If they’re able to clear the snot themselves, you don’t need to suction them out to clear the snot.”

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Lucky for parents, babies have secreted snot like upright banana slugs since babies existed, and tried-and-true methods have existed for generations.

Simply wiping the nose with a wet cloth works wonders, especially when it’s paired up with a little petroleum ointment to help ease skin irritation. Parents can make a game of blowing noses, too, teaching a child as young as 1 to do it themselves by associating the act with songs or silly noises. The discomfort that comes with thicker snot and mucus can also be alleviated with a nice warm bath, and parents are also encouraged to use a humidifier in their children’s room to help promote thinner mucus. Keeping the child hydrated, too, helps promote less viscous mucus.

How to Handle Baby Mucus

  • Try to get used to it. Even if you handle the issue with aplomb, the baby is still gonna be mucus-y a lot. It’s an unscratchable itch so just relax.
  • Don’t suction the baby’s nose all the time. Too much suction will just trigger snot production
  • Don’t seem nervous about it. You’ll make the kid anxious for no reason.
  • Keep an eye on consistency. Thick mucus can impede breathing and sometimes be a sign of illness.
  • Keep an eye on color. Clear mucus is gross, but fine. Green or yellow mucus is likely the sign of a problem. Purple mucus is a sign of the apocalypse.


Once the mucus becomes thicker, making it more difficult to sleep comfortably, that’s when parents should start reaching for their apparati. Relatively clear mucus isn’t much of a cause for concern. But if they’re still snot factories after 10-14 days, it’s likely a sign of a bigger problem, especially when paired with fever. And while it’s largely been debunked that the color of snot and boogers can indicate exactly what’s wrong with a baby, extreme — and extremely gross — colors are an indication of some sort of infection, and medical attention should be sought, particularly if the baby is gagging, vomiting, choking, or not sleeping.

If the mucus is clear and runny, however, parents shouldn’t’ be too concerned, or too over-eager to constantly slurp snot out of their nose.

“If snot is clear or slightly cloudy and baby is able to breathe comfortably, there’s no concern,” says Stampflee. ” IIf baby starts having a really hard time clearing their airway, or they’re gagging and the snot changes to Day-Glo orange, or if they look a little pale or blue, you want to seek medical attention immediately.”

Otherwise, it turns out that the safest way to remove clear, runny snot from a baby is to let nature and gravity do the worse, simply wiping it here and there so it doesn’t transform the kid’s face into a gross version of an exfoliating mask.

“You kind of just need to wait it out. Just expect snot pretty much from October to April. You’re gonna have snot on you, snot on your kid. Just deal with it,” says Stampflee.

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Fatherly Advice: Low Sperm Count? Let Your Balls Play Outside.

April 27, 2018 in Fatherly, Parenting

“Fatherly Advice” is a weekly parenting advice column by the experts at Fatherly. Need hard-won insights and scientific facts to resolve a parenting dilemma or family dispute? Email Need justifications for parenting decisions you’ve already made? Ask someone else. We’re far too busy for that nonsense.




Hello Fatherly,

My wife and I have been trying to have another kid, but it turns out I have low sperm count. We’re not up for any crazy medical interventions just yet, and we hear fertility clinics can be pretty unpleasant. So is there anything I can do to increase my sperm count naturally?

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Gary Clarke

Rochester, New York


Probably not. Sorry to say it, Gary, but alternative medicine is really a misnomer. Once a therapy is proven safe and effective, it becomes regular everyday medicine. And when a therapy has not been proven safe and effective, it doesn’t default to “alternate” or “natural” medicine—it’s a crap shoot. Your best option is to continue speaking with your doctor, let the professionals diagnose what’s causing your low sperm count, and sign up for the safest and most effective intervention.

If you insist on trying natural remedies, the Mayo Clinic lists a handful of supplements that are rumored to help with low sperm count. Vitamins A, C, D, and E, folic acid, and zinc all make the list and, as long as you’re not taking any other medications, these tend to be benign at worst.

There are, however, medically sound ways to improve your sperm count outside of the clinic. Heat decreases sperm count, so you may want to stop soaking in hot tubs or working with your laptop over your crotch. And if you sit down all day, try standing for short spells to at least give the boys some air. Studies have also shown that smoking, drinking, obesity, and stress can decrease sperm count. Working to improve your overall health is a good idea, regardless.

But trust me, Gary, fertility is tricky business and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Improve your general health and pop a few supplements if it makes you feel better, but don’t stop there. You’ll want to go at it with a team of healthcare professionals—not a few anecdotal remedies.


Hey Fatherly,

My child just started walking. Listen, I know kids are supposed to be curious, but he’s getting into everything in a big way, and I just can’t shake the feeling that he’s intentionally breaking rules that he must at least sort of understand. When can I start disciplining him?

Tim Hughes

Jersey City, New Jersey


I feel you, Tim. Every child is destructive, but it felt like mine were something special. My oldest once managed to get into a sealed container of ground pepper and shake it until it exploded in his face. When he first learned how to walk, anything left within reach was instantly rubble.

Anyway, the short answer is that you can discipline even very young children. The long answer is that you’ll need to take your wandering toddler’s psychological capabilities into consideration.

Discipline is essentially about teaching boundaries. Dr. Michele Borba, author of No More Misbehavin’: 38 Difficult Behaviors and How to Stop Them, once told me that discipline for young children should consist of two basic steps: stopping the behavior (ideally through distraction) and replacing the behavior with something else. It doesn’t have to be harsh. If your kid is pulling the dog’s tail, stop that behavior and replace it with a reward for petting gently.

Whatever you do, try to avoiding yelling at your kid. It won’t teach him anything, and it’ll only make you both miserable. He’s ready for discipline, sure—but the right kind of discipline.


Dear Fatherly,

I’m usually pretty cool with marijuana, but my wife has been smoking weed while pregnant and I can’t help but harsh her vibe. Am I way out of line? It just doesn’t seem safe.

Larry Cooper

San Jose, California


This may be obvious to some, but it bears mentioning—there isn’t a whole lot you can do if your pregnant wife wants to engage in an activity that concerns you. This applies to more dangerous behaviors like drinking alcohol, and less clear risks like smoking pot. You can advise her to stop, and tell her why you’re worried, but ultimately she’ll have to make her own decision.

We still don’t know whether marijuana is dangerous during pregnancy. What we do know is that the rates of women self-reporting pot use during pregnancy have nearly doubled in the past decade—and that there are certainly risks. Isolated studies have shown that marijuana increases the risk of stillbirth and adversely affects a baby’s developing brain, harming motor skill development in toddlers and contributing to behavioral problems among young teens. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women be “encouraged to discontinue marijuana use”, including medical marijuana, use during pregnancy.   

At the same time scientists hotly debate whether THC, one of the active ingredients in marijuana, can even pass through the placenta to the child (recent studies suggest it’s unlikely). And there’s no particularly compelling evidence—large, case-control studies—implying harm.

So where does all that data leave you and your wife? If you have a healthy marriage, it leaves you within the realm of discussion. Tell her about your concerns, and consult with your doctor about the risks. And then, work together as a couple to make a responsible decision.


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Bon Voyage!

April 27, 2018 in Family,

Today Jared and I are headed out of town for 10 days (eeek!). We’re first going to a wedding down the coast, and then jumping on a plane from LA to Costa Rica. So excited for some serious r&r. We’ll be taking a posting break on Say Yes this coming week, but see you back here the week after (hopefully rested and a just a tad sun kissed). I’ll be sharing updates on instagram when I can. In the meantime, here are some favorite pieces of content from the Say Yes archives:

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6 Lessons I Learned Coaching Youth Sports That Prepared Me to Be a Dad

April 26, 2018 in Fatherly, Parenting

Coaching sports was something I did before I had kids as a fun way to give back. After all, I had the time, and spending Saturday mornings in a crowded, noisy, warm gym was a great way to break up a long winter. What I didn’t realize was how the experience of coaching would serve me well when I had kids of my own. Here are six lessons from coaching youth sports that have helped me as a dad.


1. Sometimes you have to let them figure it out.

I once heard that when his team was panicking and needed a timeout, legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson would often seem aloof, implying that “the players will find me.” While I’d love to try and install a pro-style triangle offense and micromanage every pass, dribble, and shot, I quickly learned that sometimes it’s better to set guidelines and let the kids figure it out. It’s a lesson that is serving me well with a 4-year old. It might be easier for me to do something for him, but the learning happens when he works through problems.

2. Even if you don’t realize it, you’re setting an example for kids.

Middle-school kids can be surprisingly cynical. The kids I coached regarded me as old and out of touch. But when I talked to the parents, I’d often be surprised to hear that the kid would repeat things that I said at practice and lessons I taught them in the gym. It made me realize I had the opportunity to do more than model a proper layup — and also that kids are listening, even when they’re acting like they’re not. With my own kids, it’s something I have to remember every day. Even when I’m stuck in traffic and want to lay into the driver who just cut me off. The kids are listening, observing, and, eventually, will copy your behavior.

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3. It is important to control your emotions

Early on in my coaching career, the guy who ran the league suggested I grab a bottle of Maalox and a bag of cough drops. That’s how worked up I’d get on the sidelines. I flung that fancy clipboard to the floor more times than I care to admit. At some point, I realized the histrionics didn’t do much except make the kids cower and I was better off being encouraging, even if my forward chucked up and airball-ed a three-pointer while ignoring a wide open lane to the basket. I think of those moments today when my kid asks for a fifth cup of water at bedtime and I start to get annoyed.

4. You have to recognize the real victories.

I coached the same girls’ basketball team from 3rd to 8th grade, and we won a league championship. But, at some point, I realized — as cliche as it sounds — the real victories came from helping the girls learn how to put aside differences and work together to achieve a goal. The girls are young women now, and there’s more satisfaction in seeing how they’ve grown up to be successful, good people than in any championship we won together.

5. Adapting Is Essential

I had the lineup set. But my forward had the flu and another player showed up late. So you have to change plans and adapt. It’s true as a parent: you planned on a date night, but a kid is sick or the sitter can’t make it. No matter your best-laid plans, things happen.

6. There’s a difference between good and bad support

At some point, my boys may play youth sports and I’ll be the dad in the stands. During my years of coaching, I came across a variety of parents: those who saw practice and games as a free babysitter to those who wanted to help out, to those who wanted to help out too much. I also saw firsthand the effect of a hypercritical parent yelling direction from stands can have on a kid. Coaching showed me how to be a supportive, encouraging dad and not a pain in the team’s butt, or worse, a problem for my kid.

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Kids Summer Hats

April 24, 2018 in Family,

Today we are checking out all the sweetest sun hats and straw hats around for kids. As mom to a couple of fair skinned kids I’m a huge fan of a sun hat, they’re a lifesaver for those long summer days!

We’ve got a few for baby and the rest are for our bigger kids. This beautiful collection was our inspiration and has some great hats for grown ups too. Zara kids has a great collection as well. Here are some of our favorites hats for this summer…

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Fatherly Advice: Guess What? Running Around Prevents Childhood Obesity

April 24, 2018 in Fatherly, Parenting

“Fatherly Advice” is a weekly parenting advice column by the experts at Fatherly. Need hard-won insights and scientific facts to resolve a parenting dilemma or family dispute? Email Need justifications for parenting decisions you’ve already made? Ask someone else. We’re far too busy for that nonsense.



Hey Fatherly,

My wife and I have a super cute toddler who just learned how to walk. But we’ve noticed that even for a toddler he’s pretty clumsy. I’m worried because both my wife and I have really bad eyesight. We’re talking coke-bottles, here. Is it possible that my kid needs glasses and how can I tell?

Bangor, Maine

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At 42, I recently had to trade up to trifocals, Kyle. Trifocals. So as a fellow four-eyes I’m happy to receive your question. And to get something out of the way right up front, given his parent’s genes, there’s a huge probability that your kid will need glasses one day. Is that day now? Not necessarily, but there are good ways to find out.

The most obvious way is to take your kid to the optometrist. Now you might think that wouldn’t work. That thing with the lenses is so freakin’ big and your kid is so small. Also, he’s probably not the best communicator, so reading the eye chart and answering “Is number one or two better?” would seem highly unlikely. That said, optometrists are medical pros whose schooling taught them how to even test the eyes of babies. Crazy, but true.

Still, you might be a bit reticent to bring your kid in and I get that. There are some signs to look for that will help you understand if your kid has a problem with his eyesight. Kids who have reduced vision will need to hold objects close to their face to see them. They may squint in bright light, or chronically rub their eyes and tilt their head. Also, they might not mimic facial expressions. Those are really the biggies. The most obvious signs there is an issue is if the eyes point inward or outward. But I’m guessing you would have mentioned that.

Notice I didn’t say anything about clumsiness? The fact is that your kid just learned to walk, so the tottering and toppling is probably more linked to their new reality than their eyes.

Again, though, with you and your wife’s eyesight, bad vision will be something you will want to watch out for.



My wife is pregnant and she keeps telling me that she wants to have a doula. The thing is, I have no idea what a doula is and I feel a bit embarrassed to tell her I don’t know. What does a doula do and does she really need one?

Omaha, Nebraska


First of all, Richard. If your wife says she wants a doula you’re probably going to have a doula. It’s always best to defer to the one who is about to push another tiny human being out of an inconceivably small opening in her body. That said, by answering the question “what is a doula“, you can help choose the right professional for the job. And that’s the first thing you need to know: a doula is a professional person. Not a thing. As much as they might sound like a thing.

What a doula does is advocate for your birth plan while giving you both emotional and physical support during the birth. They can also act as breastfeeding coach once the kid arrives and provide other postpartum care. That said, they are not a doctor or a midwife and cannot perform the delivery. So you’ll still need to have a medical professional around.

RELATED: America’s First Blind Doula is One Stubborn Dude

The amount a doula will be involved in the birth depends a lot on you. If you were planning on being your wife’s birth coach — with the breathing and massaging — a doula won’t be taking your place. However, they can step in if you happen to be losing your shit, or if you’d rather have minimal involvement in the birth.

A doula is there to help you both navigate the birth, but considering it’s an intimate moment, your choice of a doula will be very personal. I would recommend finding a doula certified by DONA International who provides comprehensive pre-certification training to doulas and are closely aligned with Lamaze International. But the rest is up to you. If you want a crunchy granola-type doula who will be all about energy, you’ll be able to find one. If you want a more professional straight-laced doula you can find one of those too. Heck, there are even dude doulas.

While it’s pretty clear that a doula will be involved in your birth, make sure that you are talking with your wife about the comfort level you have with the doula you choose. They will be helping you as a couple. You should both feel good about the choice.


Hi Fatherly,

My wife and I have a one-year-old baby, and she is absolutely adorable but kind of chubby. My wife and I are big people. I’m 5’11” and weigh about 250. I’ve struggled with my weight all my life and don’t want my daughter to struggle. How can I help make sure that she doesn’t become obese in the future?

Redding, California


Man, I hear you about the weight struggle. It’s been something I’ve wrestled with my entire life, too. And like you I want to make sure my boys don’t have the same struggle. But we have to admit that we can only lay the foundations, Franklin. It’s up to them what they decide to build on top of those foundations.

But giving our kids a good foundation means giving them a healthy relationship with food and exercise right from the get-go. You’re in a good place because your kid is just a year old and has probably just started in the solid food department. So, now is a good time to address this stuff. But you’re not going to start with the kid. You’re going to start with yourself.

MORE: How to Decrease a Toddler’s Childhood Obesity Risk

The reality is that kids use parents as a model for what it means to be a well adjusted human living in this world. That means if they see a slothful, junk-food-loving dude schlepping around the house, they’ll get the idea that’s the way to be. I’m not saying that’s you. I’m just saying we can all give our kids a better example of good health.

I had to do this in my own life. My wife and I have cut back on processed and fast foods and we’ve started regular family walks because we want our boys to know what’s healthy. We’re not preaching to them about it, we’re just living it. You have an adorable, one-year-old ball of motivation right in your arms, dude. Use it.

As for practical advice in helping your kid develop good habits there are some things you can do as she grows. First of all, you can make sure her early solid foods are whole ingredients, and mostly fruits, veggies and whole grains. Try to lay off the snacky, sugary finger foods as much as possible. This will get her developing tastes primed for veggie flavors and not sugary carbs, leading to far easier dinners.

Try to start family dinners now. That means everybody sits at the table together to eat the same meal. This will be particularly important as she grows. A family dinner makes eating an event, not a mindless thing to do in front of a screen. It also ensures everyone is getting the same healthy meal. Be persistent when you get to that point. Offer variety. But understand a kid might need to see a food upwards of 16 times before they give it a shot.

Finally, limit the screen time and get outside with your kid. This is something you can start right now too. Load the kid in the stroller and hit the sidewalk. Go for a hike in the park. Play on the lawn. The point is to move and avoid getting sedentary.

You can do this, man. And the beauty of it is that by working on your own health, you’ll be giving your daughter a chance to succeed with her own health.

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Children’s Art Quilt

April 23, 2018 in Family,

1. Start with calico fabric. Inexpensive and similar to muslin, but not quite as fine.
2. Pre-wash and dry to get out any finishing agents, and to pre-shrink the fabric.
3. Cut into manageable squares for the kids to draw onto.  Tape the fabric onto the table with masking tape.
4. Grab some fabric pastels (super cheap, only $2 for a set of 7 colors). Let the kids color however they wish
directly onto the fabric.
5.  Read the instructions on your specific brand of pastels but Amy just needed to iron it to make the color permanant on the fabric.
6. At this point your squares are ready so you can arrange in into a quilt.  You can do it yourself or have a seamstress friend help with the quilting part. Amy said “I’m terrible at sewing but it’s quite easy after watching a couple youtube tutorials”.

After going through the whole process Amy and her son couldn’t part with the quilt so they ended up buying it themselves at the auction. Ha! I think I’d probably do the same.

I’m so tempted to try something like this, although I’m intimidated by the actually quilting party. Would you try it?

Thanks Amy for inspiring us with your beautiful project. Photography by Lena Corwin

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7 Tips for Picky Eaters

April 19, 2018 in Family,

Lately, dinnertime has become the most stressful part of the day. Most everything we try to serve Edie she refuses to eat or even try at all. The whole event becomes a major power struggle with lots of tears, time outs, and Jared and I both feeling frustrated and burnt out.

I asked my friend Ashley here of Vibrantly Healthy Kids (remember when she shared her favorite weeknight meal with us?) whose studying to be a pediatric nutritionist to share some ideas on how we, and other parents, can better manage children who are picky eaters. Here are a few ideas:

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