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[Editor's Note: Welcome to #itsscience, where we break down the science behind the hard stuff that keeps you up at night—and the beautiful moments that leave you breathless.

As Motherly's Contributing Editor, Anne-Marie Gambelin is a Founding Team member, working on special projects, writing science features and Motherly essays. She launches our new column to provide evidence-based explanations that give you the why behind the mysteries of motherhood.]

The advantages of breastfeeding have been well-documented throughout the years—mamas know that breast milk can transfer antibodies to their baby, providing protection against infection, and that drinking mama's milk is one of the best ways to prevent illness in the first two years of life.

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We've believed that this protection ended when breastfeeding ended. But new research has shown that the transfer of immunity might extend beyond the duration of breastfeeding, possibly even for life.

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of Cape Town, found that infant mice that were breastfed by a mother with a worm infection before getting pregnant acquired lifelong protection against the disease. Historically, it's been thought that immunity was transferred by a mother's antibodies, but this research demonstrates that immunity could be passed on to infants by the transfer of immune cells through breast milk, completely independent of antibodies.

So what does this mean?

Unlike antibodies, which are made of proteins and used by the immune system to neutralize bacteria and viruses, immune cells patrol for problems by circulating in the bloodstream. They also divide and so remain ever-present—meaning they can remain in baby's body for years to come.

Scientists now think that maternal exposure to pathogens prior to pregnancy can influence infant health and permanently alter offspring immunity by programming their immune system. In the future, this could lead to the design of new vaccines that will be able to be given to a mother to transfer long-term immunity to her children through breast milk.

Bottom line: Breast milk is magical in even more ways than we know.

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Babywearing allows newborns to be held close to your body and mama to snuggle with their new bundle of joy—but that's just where the benefits begin. When you're toting your baby with the help of a specially-designed carrier, you're also given back the two hands normally reserved for rocking, cuddling and soothing your little one. That opens up a whole new world when it comes to getting things done—particularly for #mombosses who are masters of multitasking.

We asked four of our favorites about the biggest benefits of their productivity hack of choice (babywearing) and how they got it all done using their carrier of choice, BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier Free.

It helps soothe babies more easily

Daphne Oz wearing BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Free

BABYBJÖRN

Babies benefit from being in a carrier not only because worn babies cry less but also because a soothed baby means they're more likely to catch a much-needed nap. Rachel Zeilic, VP of Influencer Marketing at Who What Wear and Creative Director for fashion line Marjoelle, wore her son, August, in his early days for that reason. "It was a GREAT method to help him get to sleep," she says.

Sleep aside, decreased crying makes a huge difference in your busy days, even if your baby is super easygoing and loves carrier time, like that of Emmy-winning TV host, author and mama of four, Daphne Oz, whose youngest, Giovanna Ines (Gigi), is 4-months-old. "Gigi has always loved to be held. She's a very big baby, so babywearing is essential to give my arms a break. She loves to be snuggled as much as possible, and you can tell [being in her carrier] immediately soothes her. Sometimes she'll drift off or just rest her head on my chest and gaze around."

Mobilizing is a snap

Rachel Zeilic wearing BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Free

BABYBJÖRN

Like so many mamas, Zeilic needed to get out of the house frequently in those first few weeks for doctor appointments, but she found the sheer magnitude of getting out and getting the hang of a stroller pretty intimidating. Instead, she relied on her Baby Carrier Free and was out and about quickly after delivery. "We left the house from day one and we made a point every day of walking around the neighborhood," she says. "It was much more feasible [for me] than putting him in the stroller and going for a long walk."

Ariel Kaye, the CEO and founder of Parachute, was a big fan of babywearing with her now 11-month-old daughter Lou for the same reason. "Especially as I started to get more comfortable getting out of the house, what started as really short walks and gradually got longer," she says.

Carriers are especially friendly for city-dwelling mamas

Ranji Jacques wearing BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Free

BABYBJÖRN

Having a baby while living in a big city can be a challenge, but babywearing makes going about your day so much more simple. That's how Ranji Jacques, Fashion Director at Condé Nast, gets around New York City. "Everyone can agree that a baby carrier is a must-have, especially if you're in an urban area," says the mom of two to 3-year-old Diego and 1-year-old Lucienne. Why? Because steep curbs and storefront steps no longer pose a deterrent, and (bonus!) you can keep germ-covered surfaces out of baby's reach.

Take meetings with baby in tow

Rachel Zeilic wearing BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Free

BABYBJÖRN

If you need to phone into the office or are a permanent part of the growing work-from-home mama population, strapping on baby allows you to talk shop and spend time with your little one. "I've honestly gotten so many conference calls and deals done with August in the carrier," says Zeilic.

So did Kaye, who would tote her daughter Lou in her BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier Free on walks to Parachute's nearby brick-and-mortar store as not only a way of getting outside, but also checking in with work, too.

Tackle housework + make  errands easier (and feasible)

Daphne Oz wearing BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Free

BABYBJÖRN

When you've got a new baby at home, getting the dishes done or folding a basket of (clean!) laundry is a huge accomplishment. But using the carrier can help you tick off your to-do list while spending time with your newborn. "Babywearing really helped me—like it made all of my everyday [tasks] so much easier," says Kaye, because it gave her back her much-needed set of hands.

Oz agrees that wearing her daughter has been a boon to her productivity. "I try to bring Gigi along whenever I can, since my time at home can be limited and [I'm] often stretched thin trying to get everything in order. She comes along to the market and for coffee and on other errands—and I love to use a carrier in the house so I can keep her with me while I'm heading from room to room putting things in order."

It can provide for everyday teaching moments

Ariel Kaye wearing BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Free

BABYBJÖRN

When you're going about your daily tasks, babywearing provides a front row seat to turn it into an educational experience for the two of you. "It's a special way to be able to communicate with her—I can show her things, touch things," says Kaye. From folding laundry to self-care, opportunities to engage baby can happen anywhere. Just ask Lou, who loves watching mama Ariel do her makeup while happily hanging out in her BABYBJÖRN, a task enjoyed by Gigi and Daphne as well.

Plus, allotting some of your attention to quickie tasks feels more guilt-free when babywearing. "Even though I'm doing other stuff, I can talk to him and narrate what I'm doing," explains Zeilic. "I just feel like it's playing and bonding, versus feeling like I'm sacrificing time with him."

Hello, old favorite activities

Ariel Kaye wearing BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Free

BABYBJÖRN

Zeilic and her husband love to use their Baby Carrier Free for hikes—anything under an hour and she'll strap on the carrier, over an hour and Dad's on the job (good thing it's easily adjustable for parents of all sizes). Even if hiking isn't your hobby of choice, resuming your pre-baby favorite activities and feeling more like yourself post-baby is a welcome change to which most mamas can relate, Oz included.

She fondly remembers the sense of confidence and familiarity that accompanied a babywearing outing when her eldest children were a bit younger. "My first, Philomena, was only 20 months old when John was born and still such a baby herself. I remember going out to the beach on a calm day with Philomena to collect shells, and John was strapped next to my chest, snuggly and content. It was one of the first times I really felt confident as a new mother of 2."

You can travel light

Ranji Jacques wearing BABYBJ\u00d6RN Baby Carrier Free

BABYBJÖRN

Working in fashion, Jacques has a tendency to be flanked with a host of accessories or at least a go-to purse, but babywearing has helped her limit the amount she has in tow when out and about. "I strap on baby, grab a bottle of water and my wallet and I'm ready to go," she says. Minimalist multitasking has never been so chic.

This article was sponsored by BABYBJÖRN. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My favorite part of the day, hands down, is when my freshly bathed son is all snuggly in his PJs and he's about to sit down in my lap to tuck into a good book before bed. My least favorite part, though, is when he goes to his bookcase and grabs the same book we read earlier that day and the night before (and the night before that). I almost always say, "That one? But do you want to try something new?" (Spoiler: He doesn't.)

So I take a deep breath and remind myself about the research that says reading the same book to your kids over and over helps their brain development. And I dive into the world of Pete the Cat or Piggy and Gerald, and before we know it I'm wrapped up in the magic of that world, too.

We recently asked #TeamMotherly to share the books their kids want to read over and over (and over) and you didn't disappoint. Here's what you're reading (or, more likely, have already memorized):

What the Ladybird Heard

What Ladybird Heard

Kim says: "He's not even two yet and has it memorized!"

$9.31

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late

Danielle says: "These are at least twice daily for weeks. More if they're kept downstairs!"

$11.15

Aliens Love Underpants

Aliens Love Underpants

Hope shares: "After two years of constant reading pages are missing and/or torn but he still keeps going to them."

$10.83

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Nelly shares: "When I went to the hospital to have my daughter, my sister and brother-in-law watched my two boys. She FaceTimed me because they were crying and upset. They wanted mommy to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom because Auntie Cj wasn't doing it right.

"I cried as I recited Chicka Chicka boom boom from my hospital bed. I wanted so badly to be there to hug them and read it in person. They were really missing their mommy and were worried about the doctor cutting open my belly to get the baby out. I recited it all from memory of course. I cried. My sister cried. And my boys finally stopped crying. 🤣

"I went home two nights later and read it to them, never more happy to read the same book for the 315th time. ❤️"

$5.00

Pig the Pug (and the rest of the series)

Pig the Pug

Michelle says: "We have them all and I swear he knows them word for word."

$10.78

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Tara says: "Anything Pete the Cat and especially 'I Love My White Shoes'!"

$10.35

Good Night Good Night Construction Site

Good Night Good Night Construction Site

Nanako says: "Read it so many times I can recite the whole book!"

$5.00

I Love You Night and Day

I Love You Night and Day

Samantha says: "I have read this book to my son at bedtime since I was pregnant and he's 7.5 months. His eyes light up and he gets the biggest grin and laughs now when I show it to him. ❤️ It's one of my favorite special times with him."

$5.00

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Stefania shares: "My 3yo loves the book, the song, the movie and even the Bear Hunt yoga for a year. Needless to say, her 3rd birthday will be themed ...you guessed it 🐻🤪"

$5.00

Dragons Love Tacos

Dragons Love Tacos

Neveen says: "My 1.5 yo loves [it]."

$10.96

Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups

Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups

Rainy says: "Just had to hide [this book] bc we've been reading it on repeat (sometimes 4-5x in a row) lately."

$10.86

Home Sweet Home: a Lift-the-Flap Book

Home Sweet Home Lift the Flap Book

Pegah shares: "I can read it page by page without even looking at it. Pointless to read bc my impatient LO just goes to the flap lifting before I can finish a sentence 🤣🤣🤣"

$6.99

Never Touch a Dragon (and the rest of the “Never Touch” series)

Never Touch a Dragon

Lindsay says: "He doesn't like to sit long enough to read unless there's hands-on stuff involved 😂"

$5.74

The Bear Snores On

Mira shares: "Every time, over and over…"

$7.49

The Monster at the End of This Book

The Monster at the End of this Book

Rebecca says: "It's so much fun to read as a parent too."

$4.99

The Little Blue Truck (and the rest of the series)

The Little Blue Truck

Kate says: "I have the Halloween one memorized haha."

$5.00

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See

Kristina says, "My 2-year-old can recite it from memory because we read it so much! It's a game now when we aren't even reading it. 'What did the teacher see?' 😂"

$5.79

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Beejal says: "My 18-month-old daughter especially likes the page with all the food. It's so cute to hear her trying to say what each item is."

$5.76

Good Night Moon

Good Night Moon

Charliena shares: "We have to read [it] every night…"

$5.00

The Wonky Donkey

The Wonky Donkey

Leann says: "My little one is just altogether a fan of reading already..." (And check out this hilarious viral video of a grandma reading it to her grandchild.)

$4.99

May I Please Have a Cookie?

May I Please Have a Cookie?

Monika shares: "[It's] my daughter's fav book."

$4.99

10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes

10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes

Shawn says: "It's so sweet to count your LO's fingers and toes and give three kisses at the end 😊"

$6.89

Stick Man

Stick Man

Rosemary shares: " She loves all of [Julia Donaldson's] books. We have most of them!"

$10.49

Clifford’s Bedtime Story Box

Clifford's Bedtime Story Box

Thais says: "It has been almost six months of big red dog every single night. Thankfully, there's more than one book about Clifford."

$9.85

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Janet says: "I guess it was so easy to relate to!!!" 😂

$7.29


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I remember so vividly the moment I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, my first child. I spent hours daydreaming about what this whole new world was going to be like, researched everything, planned everything (or at least, I tried to), and set out to be the absolute most ideal mother I could be.

Then I had another kid. And in an unexpected plot twist, another one after that.

And now motherhood looks pretty different than it did when I first started.

I have evolved as a mom so much—partly out of necessity, partly out of desire. When I reflect on "new mom" me, I am so grateful for everything that she did and learned. But I'll be honest; I think I prefer "seasoned mom of three" me more.

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Life is louder, busier and messier, but despite that, I am somehow calmer and more confident.

I do not have it figured out by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some big lessons I've learned along the way.

Here are 10 things I did with my first kid that I definitely don't do with my third:

1. Trust Google more than myself

When my daughter was born, I Googled ev-er-y-thing. Everything. All the time. Every day. Google.

I really appreciate what I found: articles, studies and expertise put out into the ether to help me be the best parent I could be. But it got overwhelming, and it began to fuel some anxiety. For every study I read that proclaimed one finding, there was another study that stated the exact opposite. I found mountains of articles that said THIS is THE way to fix [fill in the blank] problem—each with a very different solution.

While reading varying ideas and opinions can be helpful, it made me start to lose touch with my own maternal knowing. My head was filled with so much noise that I couldn't pay attention to the one voice I needed to hear—my own.

So, I stopped. Now when something (non-emergent) is going on with my kids, I check in with myself first. I spend time just thinking about what's going on. Then, I take the questions that come up to the internet or my pediatrician. Nine times out of ten, what I find is confirmation that my initial intuition was pretty close.

2. Stress about milestones

Every time my firstborn reached a new week or month, I went (once again) to Google to investigate which milestones to expect. I even found (and visited often) a website that shared which milestones were typical and which were "advanced" for her given age. In truth, I was a little bit obsessed.

I don't think this is bad. I was a new mom wanting to make sure my child was developing healthily, and I was proud of her every time she reached a new milestone (still am).

But it was stressful.

Now I rely heavily on my pediatrician and sprinkle in some occasional research. We go to our well-visits and the pediatrician checks in about milestones, and if I have a concern, I do my own research. But I've learned that children develop on their own timetable, and in different ways. My firstborn spoke way sooner than my middle, my middle walked way before my third, and my third slept through the night way before his older siblings—and that's all okay.

One more thing: My youngest did not hit all of his milestones. He had some gross-motor skill delays that turned out to be caused by an underlying medical condition. And you know what I learned? It was okay. We discovered the delays when we needed to, we addressed them, and with the help of ever-advancing services and research, he is doing great.

I think with my first I had this idea that if I worried about the milestones enough, we'd hit them. Turns out worry does not help much there. To new mom me I wish I could say, "Be on the lookout, yes. But don't worry. What will be, will be, and if there is something you need to address, trust that you will be able to."

3. Sanitize everything

I was the mom continually wiping down the table, the shopping cart, the baby's hands, my hands, and everything else I could think of that might have a germ on it.

And now? Yeah, I just… don't.

They are going to be exposed to germs—a lot of them. I try to keep them from licking the doorknobs at the doctor's office, and they know that the "five-second rule" only applies to the food we drop on the floor at home, but I've realized that it's just too hard to keep every germ off of them. (And, for the record, maybe not the best idea—turns out that letting kids get dirty has some pretty awesome health benefits.)

So now, I make them wash their hands when they get home, and before they eat, I give them baths (every few days), and try not to freak out when I realize the "crumbs" around their mouths are from dirt and not cookies.

4. Buy #allthethings

Oh, the number of adorable outfits that I have passed down to friends that still have the tags on them. Sigh. I bought my firstborn so much stuff. It was all so cute, and such a thrill to buy! And unfortunately, also so expensive.

Now with my third, I get a thrill from finding deals or from getting a bag of hand-me-downs from a neighbor. I still do buy them stuff, I'm just more selective, and have a better understanding of what works for our family. White t-shirt? Nope! Toy with 1,000 little plastic pieces? Sorry, love.

Matching family pajamas? Yes. All the time.

5. Sweat the small stuff

It took me longer than I like to admit to learn that perfection is unattainable—in life, and certainly in parenthood. I used to get consumed by the "small" stuff (though to be fair, I didn't realize it was small then—it takes time to figure out what's small, and what's big).

Forgetting to order favors for the birthday party? Small.

A kid breaking a full bowl of cereal and milk two minutes before we need to leave for school? Small.

A little misunderstanding and disagreement with my husband? Small.

My husband often says, "You know what? If a [broken bowl] is the worst part of my day, I've had a pretty good day." And he is so right. I am sad to say that I know enough families who would kill to have a broken bowl or a little disagreement be the worst part of their day. So I try not to sweat it.

6. Clean

Kidding, not kidding. I clean. Just...not as much.

When people ask what it's like to have three children, I often share that there is a lot of freedom that comes from knowing that things are just going to be a little chaotic and messy. With my first, I tried hard to keep the house in order (and stressed when it wasn't). Now, I realize it's just not going to happen. Don't get me wrong; I still prefer to have the house clean and organized. It's just that now when it's not, I am not as hard on myself as I used to be.

"You have three kids. It's okay. Go to sleep and worry about the dishes in the morning."

7. Over-commit

Three kids and two parents means that we are officially outnumbered. And that means we say no to a lot.

Often, saying yes is simply impossible—we can't be in three places at one time, so we constantly need to choose which activities we can do, and which we have to pass on. I've also learned that when we say yes to too much, we all suffer. My kids get tired and grumpy, and um… their mom does too.

So, we try to be very intentional with our calendar. We spend time thinking and talking about what we need to do, what makes us happy to do, and what we can feel okay with letting go of.

8. Take everything personally

When my daughter was about one, I took her to her first music class. I won't bore you with the whole story, but over the course of the class the teacher had to say to my child, "Maracas are for shaking, not for throwing," and "We don't sit on baby's heads, please."

I remember vividly saying, through tears, to my husband, "I don't know why I couldn't control her! I'm such a bad mom."

Now I think about that story and I laugh and laugh and laugh (sorry, music teacher and baby whose head my daughter sat on). I've learned that the moment-to-moment actions of a child are so rarely a reflection of my parenting, and almost always a reflection of them simply being a child.

Yes, of course, it is my job to guide them, teach them, and tell them to stop throwing maracas, but not every misdeed is my fault. They are kids, and it's okay to let them be little—and to not take it personally.

9. Forego self-care

One of the reasons I have focused so much of my career promoting the importance of self-care in motherhood is because I was terrible at it when I first became a mother. I felt guilty, I felt selfish, and I didn't really even understand what self-care meant.

And I suffered because of it. I was anxious, unhealthy, and at times, unhappy. None of that is okay.

So I have learned to prioritize self-care, even if getting here has felt uncomfortable and, at times, forced.

I now know what I need to be at my best: I need sleep, I need a fair amount of quiet alone time, and I need to get out in nature at least once or twice a week. So I make a point of scheduling those times in.

And you know what? My kids don't hate me for it. They get a mom who is happier and healthier, and therefore more present and peaceful. I also believe that it's a gift to have a mother who says things like, "I am going to take care of myself for a few minutes," because they will eventually embody those words and learn that it's okay to take care of themselves, too.

10. Take the little things for granted

When my daughter was little, I worked hard to create magic. I planned special trips and events to create memories that would last a lifetime.

Can I tell you something? I don't remember any of them.

Here's what I do remember: The time my daughter got into the flour and beamed with pride at the "art" she made with her handprints all over the floor. The time my middle son turned to me while we were trick-or-treating and said, "Mom, is this my real life or just a great, long dream?" The way my youngest hogs my pillow when he climbs into bed with me in the morning.

I can make plans for us, but the magic comes from the moments when I least expect it. So, I've learned to open myself up to those moments. To unbusy myself enough to be able to notice the little things.

I've learned that the little things are actually the big things.

Life

Sleep deprivation really shows when you are that much quicker to snap at your partner. It shows when a task that should take 10 minutes takes twice as long because your mind is fuzzy. It shows when you "just don't feel like yourself" day after day. It shows when you can't seem to shake the symptoms of a cold.

"There is nothing in our daily lives in which sleep deprivation doesn't have a negative effect," says Whitney Roban, Ph.D., the sleep specialist behind Solve Our Sleep. "Sleep is considered the third pillar of health, along with diet and exercise."

So where does that leave parents?

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Although popular Pinterest posts may have you believe 6-week-olds will sleep through the night with a few simple steps, that isn't the case for the majority of newborns. In fact, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Pediatrics, 43% of 12-month-old babies wake up throughout the night. Studies that do claim the majority of infants sleep through the night by three months typically come with some major fine print, like this small 2010 one published in Pediatrics that used the criteria of snoozing from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.

The disruptions only compound for parents of multiple children, which can make "exhaustion" the standard mode of operation for many of us—but not without consequences.

Kelly Burch, a mom of two, says she wasn't even aware of how much sleep deprivation was affecting her until she accidentally backed into a ditch with her car when her second child was 6 weeks old. The damage cost her $1,000 to meet her car insurance deductible, but the fear that she could have endangered her children or others was even heavier to bear.

"I thought I had it together that day. I had actually gotten dressed, was looking human and remembered diapers," Burch says. "It honestly made me nervous driving afterward, because I had been doing everything right, but my brain just wasn't working properly."

Indeed, a 2018 study published in the journal Sleep found drivers who slept less than the recommended seven to nine hours per night had elevated crash risks. Those with four or fewer hours posed the same threat as someone with a blood alcohol level 1.5 times the legal limit.

Yet, unlike picking up kale at the grocery store on a mission to eat better or training for a 5K to get fit, it's hard to find clean-cut solutions to sleep struggles. Making matters worse, parents often get the message "this is what you signed up for," which can make us keep the realities of sleep struggles to ourselves.

Stacey Skrysak found herself in this vicious cycle of feeling sleep deprived and then feeling guilty for "complaining" when she welcomed another baby six years after losing two preterm triplets.

"I was lucky to have a baby years after infertility and after two heartbreaking losses," Skrysak says. "I [felt I] should embrace the late nights. But, being tired triggered some of the other emotions that come with loss."

Studies show there is a two-way correlation between sleep deprivation and postpartum mood disorders: Not only does sleep loss worsen symptoms of depression, but mothers experiencing postpartum depression also report taking longer to fall asleep and reduced overall quality of sleep.

The most commonly trotted out suggestion for overcoming this deficit is to "sleep when the baby sleeps," but that is unrealistic for working parents or those with other demands. (Meaning all of us.) Not to mention, adults and newborns have very different sleep cycles. So while babies can thrive just fine on regular bursts of sleep, adults need an uninterrupted stretch to perform optimally.

This isn't just a "new parent" problem, either. Sleep interruptions can continue for the next five years — and often beyond — as older children develop crutches like needing a parent to be in the room as they go to bed. This makes it all the more important to instill healthy sleep habits from an early age, says Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine and author of Become Your Child's Sleep Coach.

"Parents should not put this task off," says Schneeberg. "If parents teach their children to become great, independent sleepers, they will have more quality time together as a couple, bedtime will be a more peaceful time and they will get more sleep themselves."

The challenge is determining what separates the ordinary sleep disruptions of new parenthood from those that are developing into bad, long-term habits. Some sources will advise against rocking a baby to sleep, feeding older infants too often during the night, or staying with a young child until they fall asleep. But these are actions parents often take out of desperation to get a bit of shut-eye—and it's hard to blame them when every extra minute feels so precious.

Ultimately, every family should keep the importance of sleep in mind while taking the approach that is right for them, whether that is trading off nighttime feedings, hiring a sleep coach or following a certain method. As Solve Our Sleep specialist Roban says, "Once parents learn to restructure their thoughts from 'I want to sleep' to 'I need to sleep,' the guilt will dissipate and they can then focus on making the changes they need to make to their daily sleep lives so that they can welcome more sleep into their family."

[Originally published on Apparently]

Life

The amount of times I googled "what to pack in my hospital bag" when I was pregnant with my first is hard to quantify. As a first-time mom I had no idea what I would need or want, especially when it all also depended on the type of birth I would end up with. At around 36 weeks, I kind of packed a bag—it had maybe three items in it, all which I can't remember now because they were probably nothing I actually needed. The day I gave birth to my son, I didn't even have the bag with me, so all that time spent searching for answers was for nothing. When it came down to it, all I had was the hospital robe and socks.

This time around, I'm pregnant with twins and, as a second-time mom, way more prepared.

I've already packed my bag because I know anything can happen at any point and it will be staying in the car so we can have it with us at all of my appointments. I've also focused on including items I really love and ones that make me comfortable rather than products I can get at the hospital once I'm admitted. And if you are having a home birth, mama, you can still use this list to get everything together for the big day.


Here's what is in my hospital bag:

A bag for everything

Mommy Bag Navy

First thing's first, I need a bag to carry all my stuff. I chose this Llama Momma Company bag because it's big, has a wide opening and allows me to fit all my essentials, plus some more. The inscription on the side will also make it obvious to anyone helping you during your birth that those are the things you need with you.

$99.99

Hospital gown

Mama in a Box

Yes, you can get a gown at the hospital (and if you have a C-section, you will probably have to wear the one they give you during surgery) but they are pretty rough on sore nipples and your back is always totally exposed. This gown has buttons down the back for easy access, but also so your body can be covered after birth. The buttons on the shoulders are perfect for breastfeeding and skin-to-skin access. Most importantly, it's soft and comfortable on your skin. I've worn it a couple of times to sleep while pregnant to test it out and I have no complaints.

$49

Silicone ring

THE FLEX - BLACK

I feel naked without my wedding rings, but when I was postpartum with my son, my fingers swelled so much my husband almost had to cut them off of my hands. Not repeating that experience again. This silicone ring is comfortable and expands easily for your fingers to swell a little without making it uncomfortable.

$39.95

Organic nipple cream 

Lansinoh Organic Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding, 2 Ounces

This is one of those items I didn't know I needed and then assumed the hospital would provide. I was wrong on both fronts and my nipples really suffered during those three days of learning how to breastfeed a tiny newborn. Eventually, I learned that I couldn't live without a nipple balm. This one is baby and mom safe.

$14.14

A phone charger

AmazonBasics Double Braided Nylon Lightning to USB Cable, Advanced Collection, MFi Certified iPhone Charger, Red, 10 Foot

You have no idea how long your birth is going to take. Or, you might want access to your music so you can play your birth playlist. And, you will definitely want to snap some cute first photos so you'll need a charged phone for all that. I recommend getting a really long length in a really obvious color so no one trips on it if you have to plug it on the other side of the room. It'll come handy once you are home and trapped under a napping baby for 23 out of the 24 hours of the day.

$15.99

A camera

Polaroid Mint Instant Print Digital Camera (Blue), Prints on Zink 2x3 Sticky-Backed Photo Paper

Even though we'll probably take most photos with our phones out of convenience, I'm also packing this instant camera to have some printed photos of the babies for us to keep in their journal/photo book.

$89.99

Lip balm

Balm Dotcom

The air in the hospital will likely make your skin dry and if you are doing a lot of heavy breathing, your lips are going to be the first affected by the dryness. I super-duper love this lip balm—it's the only thing that keeps my lips moist and refreshed during the winter. This is one of the three items I did have on my first hospital bag.

$12

Compression socks

Dr. Segal's Energy Socks 15-20 mmHg Compression Socks for Women & Men -Confetti Black/Multicolored (Medium) - Great for Work, Travel, Pregnancy, Nurses, Running

You know what else swells postpartum? Your feet. My feet were waaaaay bigger after giving birth than they were at 37 weeks pregnant. Compression socks help with the swelling and also alleviate some of the pain that comes with it. These are ideal to have on while you are resting in bed or even to wear out of the hospital.

$29.99

A water bottle with a straw

 Roll over image to zoom in CamelBak Eddy+ BPA Free Water Bottle

This is one of the other items I had in my hospital bag with my first. My doula told me so many times to bring a water bottle because staying hydrated was going to be key. The straw makes it easier to for me to chug some water while lying down. This will also be great if you plan to breastfeed so you can easily stay hydrated during feeding sessions.

$10.99

Toothbrush

Doctor Plotka's Mouthwatchers Antimicrobial Floss Bristle Silver Toothbrush, Adult, 2 Pack

It's easy to forget these in the chaos of labor and birth, so I added them first to my bag after learning from my mistakes. Remember to add one for your birthing partner since they probably won't be thinking about details like these.

$8.99

A robe

Blush Rose Ribbed Robe

If you are planning to have visitors come meet the baby, you might want to pack a soft comfy robe to wrap yourself in while they are there. This one looks beautiful in photos, too.

$55

Crocs

Crocs Classic Clog|Comfortable Slip On Casual Water Shoe

Hear me out, I know Crocs are not the most stylish shoes. However, they are waterproof and have a great grip so you'll be able to wear them in the shower and around the hospital while you recover. Also, they are pretty wide which will help accommodate your swelling feet. I was skeptical and now I'm a convert.

$29.95

Hair ties

Thick Seamless Cotton Hair Bands, Simply Hair Ties Ponytail Holders Headband Scrunchies Hair Accessories No Crease Damage for Thick Hair (Neutral Colors)

Pack a million of them just in case since they tend to go missing. For me personally, there's nothing more annoying that having hair in my face when trying to push a baby out.

$9.99

Nursing bra

The Mesh Trim Maternity Bralette

I brought one bra to the hospital—the one I was wearing when I walked in—which needed to be cut off me for a C-section, leaving me with zero bras to wear for the rest of my stay. I'm bringing this one because it's incredibly soft and I'd like to attempt breastfeeding again (we stopped the first time around). This one has easy clips to access your boobs and is so comfortable I'll likely wear it on my way out.

$35

Nightgown

Maternity nightwear / Nursing nightwear

This is not yet in my bag as I'm currently wearing it to sleep almost every night. It's so comfortable and roomy that I'll make sure to grab it on my way out of the house when it's time to go. Sleeping in a hospital is not the easiest so I'll bring this in an attempt to make my stay a little bit more like home. It has a slit for easy access to your breasts in case you want to breastfeed in the middle of the night.

$69

Clothes for baby while at the hospital 

heather grey snuggle knit newborn gift set

We didn't have any baby clothes the first time around and our son spent his first four days of life in a hospital kimono and blanket. Sure, he seemed comfortable and will never remember it, but I was a little sad that I hadn't brought him anything to wear. This newborn set has a gown, cap, bib and blanket to swaddle your baby. And if your baby poops or pees through it, you can always use the hospital clothes as backup!

$59.95

A car seat

Doona Dusk Limited Car Seat at PishPosh Baby - Includes Free Essentials Bag + Rain Cover!

Okay, this technically doesn't go inside my hospital bag, but I will need it to leave the hospital so I added just remind everyone not to forget theirs. I went with the Doona Dusk limited edition because I'm expecting to have a repeat C-section and carrying a car seat is not in my plans after having major surgery. I can push baby around in this one and then have my husband load it into the car easily. Plus, I love the concept of Doona's two-in-one use of their car seat.

$599

Going home outfit for baby

Line Up Modal Magnetic Coverall

Going home outfits are very special and it's up to you whether you choose an outfit that has been handed down throughout your family or something brand you you've picked for your baby. I chose to go with these onesies that have magnetic closures to make life a little easier in the chaos of packing to leave.

$36

Leggings 

The GLOWE Maternity Legging

Mom needs a going home outfit as well, and I opt for comfort above everything. These Glowe leggings are so soft and really adapt to your body. I know my belly will still look a bit pregnant when I leave so I like knowing these will hold my mushy bump comfortably in place.

$132

A T-shirt with a message 

"RAISE GOOD HUMANS\u00ae" V-NECK TEE

I like T-shirts with messages on them, so of course I'm packing this one to make my exit from the hospital. A reminder to myself and those around me of what we should be doing.

$32

Sweatshirt

BFF SWEATSHIRT

Perfect to wear inside the hospital if you are cold or need more coverage and also ideal for wearing as you go home. The material is one of the softest materials I own and it has enough space for a postpartum bump.

$119

Postpartum undies 

CoreLove High Rise

Depending on how much you bleed postpartum, you'll be able to wear these to go home. I wore these the first time around and was more comfortable in the car sitting than I was with the thick hospital pads (but if you need those, wear them!). Once I got home, I changed into adult diapers with zero shame. These undies make going out more comfortable and are absolutely leakproof.

$36

Packing cubes

Bentoko 6 Piece Travel Packing Cube Organizer Set (Magenta)

To keep everything organized inside my bag and not lose track of any of my belongings. I started using these while I was traveling a lot for work and come to realize they are the best invention for when dealing with tiny baby clothes.

$29.99

Or if you find packing overwhelming you can get a service to do it for you

A bag for every budget

If you are super busy with work or chasing other little humans, don't think you'll be able to remember everything you need or just like for someone else to deal with the logistics of your hospital bag, you are in luck. Companies like Baby Boldy curate bags for moms-to-be so they have one less thing to stress about. You can choose from three different tiers -basic to fully prepared- which come in different prices ranges. They all have the basics you'll need at the hospital, plus you can always add on your personal stuff to their bags to be super ready to go.

$120

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