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When my oldest son, Torin, was born, I had an idea of when he should take his first steps, say his first words, and identify the diggers in My Big Truck book. Every time he did not meet a milestone, I worried. Why wasn’t he pulling himself up yet? When would he say his first word? How does he not know what an excavator is?


This same child really understands people. When I was watching Steel Magnolias with a box of tissues, he crawled on my lap and rubbed my back. Strangers fell in love with him at the grocery store with his huge gummy smile, and at play dates other children naturally gravitated toward him, pushing action heroes into his hands as he smiled and babbled.

What was a mother to do? My answer: Take a deep breath and a warm bath. All our kids have amazing strengths, and when we acknowledge them, we realize that all our kids will be okay.

Now that I’m a mom of four little ones and an educator, I embrace the concept of “variability” and so I’m able to let go of those pesky comparisons and celebrate all my kids and their strengths.

The universal truth is that all of our kids have a unique mix of strengths and weaknesses from the time they are babies. That magical combination, and their own individual timeline, is what makes them who they are. That is variability, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Milestones were defined for the “average” toddler—someone who does not exist. All of our kids have strengths and are wildly intelligent in different ways. Certainly, they may need support to build some skills as they have weaknesses (as we all do!), but it’s a lot easier to build skills when strengths are applied to that journey.

One way to appreciate the concept of variability is to understand the theory of multiple intelligences. Dr. Howard Gardner, a renowned professor at Harvard University, proposed eight different types of intelligences because “intelligence” is far too limiting a concept. When we realize all the different types of strengths our kids have, it can help us to celebrate our kids and push the milestones to the back of our minds.

Instead of worrying about what our kids can’t do (which is so tempting!), it’s important to celebrate how they are incredibly smart in their own ways! You may have a child, for example, who struggles to meet a walking milestone, but is incredibly empathetic and is able to connect with people. Being “people smart” is a talent that should continue to be fostered and valued, because it’s a skill that will take them far.

So, what are the eight intelligences?

1. Linguistic and verbal intelligence (good with words)

These babies talk early, experiment with language by babbling and making up songs and stories, and are early readers. They love telling stories and listening to stories read to them!

As an example, my husband’s name is Lon. When my daughter, Aylin, was less than a year old, she saw a lawnmower and bounced around screaming, “Daddy mower, daddy mower.” She continues to have a way with words and at 6 years old is experimenting with sarcasm (lucky me).

2. Logical intelligence (good at math and solving logic problems)

Maybe your little one isn’t talking yet, but he’s a phenom at puzzles, putting together huge block structures, and figuring out how to get his paci from on top of the refrigerator. If this is true, you’re probably raising a future engineer who will always be able to use that intelligence to think critically and solve problems.

3. Spatial intelligence (good with pictures)

Do you have a little artist on your hands? These little ones love drawing and they recognize where they’ve been when you’re on a walk (“That’s the blue house we saw with the little squirrel yesterday!”). These pumpkins also love looking at picture books and family photos.

4. Body and movement intelligence (good at sports and movement)

My son Brecan was an early walker (he walked at 9 months, and his twin sister didn’t get off her bottom until 15 months!), rode a bike without training wheels at two, and has a running gait like a marathon star. His balance is exceptional, and he picks up sports easily. You may have a child who isn’t a reader yet, but he’s a star at Lil’ Kickers Soccer. Good for him!

5. Musical intelligence (good at music and rhythm)

Is your little lady a star in your music together class? Does she make instruments out of pots and pans and love to sing songs in the bathtub? If so, she’s probably a budding Mozart with a gift for music. Foster that as you’re working on the skills that may not come as easily!

6. Interpersonal intelligence (good with people and communication)

When I was little, my mom used to say that I could talk a dog off a meat wagon. These kids are just good with people. They are outgoing, can converse with strangers, and are probably never upset when you drop them off at daycare because they have so many friends to play with. They are our charmers!

7. Intrapersonal intelligence (self-smart)

Some kids are great at reading their own emotions and thinking deeply about them. They are reflective and introspective and always know when they are sad, mad or embarrassed and why. While many of us work to help our kids understand their feelings, some kids are naturally aware.

8. Naturalist intelligence (nature smart)

Does your little one stop to look at bugs? Love playing in the mud? Is she always pointing out the window to go outside? If so, she probably has a strong naturalist intelligence and loves to garden, hike and roll in the leaves.

So tonight, watch your little one play and consider his or her strengths. Know that these strengths will allow him or her to overcome obstacles and be successful later in life.

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Whether you're filling out your own registry or shopping for a soon-to-be-mama in your life, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly new moms need (versus what will just end up cluttering the nursery). That's why we paired up with the baby gear experts at Pottery Barn Kids to create a registry guide featuring everything from the gear you'll use over and over to the perfect gifts under $50.

Check out the picks below, and happy shopping (and registering)!

MUST-HAVE BABY GEAR

These five gift ideas are designed to make #momlife easier while solving some of the most common parenting dilemmas.

1. Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

One of the first things you learn when you become a mom? Those infant car seats are heavy. Which is what makes the Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller so genius. It's the world's first completely integrated mobility solution, quickly transforming from safe car seat to functional stroller without any extra parts. Simply pop out the wheels, pull up the handle bar, and you're ready to roll.

Doona All-in-one Infant Car Seat / Stroller, $499

BUY


GIFTS THAT CAN BE PERSONALIZED

Even the most utilitarian gift feels a little more special with some personalization. Here are some of our favorite options that can be customized with baby's name or monogram.

1. Nursery Blankets

You'll never forget the blanket you bring your newborn home in. And with Pottery Barn Kids' assortment of blankets, there's a wrap to suit every new mama's style. Choose from fuzzy neutral patterns or stylish printed options, and add baby's name for an extra personal touch.

Nursery Blankets, Starting at $39.50

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GIFTS THAT GROW WITH THEM

Save money and space by gifting items that will last long after baby's first year. These clever gift items will have mama saying "thank you!" for years to come.

1. west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an investment in years of sweet dreams. We love this mid-century-style option made from sustainably sourced wood with child-safe, water-based finishes. When your baby outgrows their crib (sniff!), it easily converts into a toddler bed with the matching conversion kit.

west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib, $399

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GIFTS UNDER $50

Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Here are our favorite gifts under $50 they'll be sure to cherish.

1. west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set

When you're raising a newborn, you can never have too many swaddles. Perfect for naptime, burp cloths, stroller covers, and spontaneous play mats, a muslin swaddle will always come in handy. And we especially love this neutral patterned collection in platinum, nightshade, and peacock.

west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set, $45.50

BUY

Learn more and explore all Pottery Barn Kids' registry must-haves here.

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.


So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

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What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

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