A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

I have four kids ranging from 2 to 8 years old. I’ve never been one to hang around the house, so we are frequent visitors of coffee shops, stores and restaurants. We are a bit of a novelty and rarely (if ever) go out without someone stopping me to comment, “Your hands are full!”

It is true. I am a busy mama. But honestly, my steepest learning curve was not my fourth child, it was my first.


Being a first-time mom is HARD. If you’re a mom of one or two, and are questioning whether it’s a good idea to add to the chaos, you might consider these reasons (I think) it gets easier.

The first time around...


You have NO idea what you’re doing.

Seriously. I sort of thought I would have a magic infusion of motherly wisdom when I gave birth to my child Malachi. Instead, becoming a parent was like an episode of Survivor. An episode of survivor where my boobs were on fire and my teammate didn’t speak English. It really sunk in when my baby was losing his mind and my mother in-law (veteran child raiser) asked me, “Why is he crying?”

I don’t know, lady, and also, if you don’t know... I’m in trouble.

You may never be an “expert,” but with experience you build confidence and an arsenal of tricks of the trade, plus you’re just more “okay” with the fact that no one ever really knows everything.

You have a lot more time to obsess.

With your first, there is ample time to obsess about things like whether your kid is going to fail at life because they use a pacifier and if today’s “face time” was adequate. Babies two, three (and ever after) don’t have your constant attention because it’s not possible. For me, having more kids helped me make peace with my limitations. You’re having a complete identity crisis.

Many mamas feel like they don’t know who they are anymore.

They say in transition it’s common to feel angry, depressed, confused... and so many other emotions. It’s part of your process. Every baby is a transition, but I believe that moving into motherhood for the first time is monumental. After that it’s, as they say, “once a mom always a mom.”

You are sure that every little thing is going to last for eternity.

You don’t know how to imagine “later” with this child. When baby nurses 47 times in the night you think, “This is it. This is my life now.” You live in fear of things like “sleep crutches” imagining them when they’re 12 sprawled on top of you at every bedtime. When you wake up in a pool of your own milk, you’re like, This is the road I have chosen. I have arrived. Now I’m going to be Soaked-Milk-Girl.

Once you’ve gone through the baby stages once or twice, you have a real-life gauge for how fast it goes.


It becomes a whole lot easier to roll with the punches. I have a friend who says to every infant/toddler concern, from being addicted to pacifiers to exploding diapers to biting your nipple, “Hey, they (probably) won’t be doing that in kindergarten...”

There are just so many surprises.

Breastfeeding sounds a lot less difficult before you actually have a baby to feed. And then there’s the way that little ones seem to know that you’ve just fallen asleep—and make that their optimal time to wake up. No matter how many stories you were told pre-baby, experience is your true education.

You don’t have the know-how to filter advice.

Advice-givers are coming out of the woodwork. They’re in your grocery store, they’re at your church and they’re in your family. You used to think that there were social boundaries around what’s “okay” for people to say to you. Around the time that an older gentlemen in suspenders asks you how much weight you’ve gained in your pregnancy, you realize that baby raising is a strange new world. When I was a brand-new parent, people were constantly informing me that my baby was hungry. I’d doubt myself even though I was fully aware I’d just finished a feeding. With my second, third and fourth, people didn’t assume (as often) that I needed their “expertise,” but I also had the confidence within to hold onto the good things and brush off the rest.

Everything is a Baby Apocalypse with the first.

Their first cold. First ear infection. First time screaming at you. It might as well be Armageddon, and no one can convince you otherwise. Not even me right now. When my oldest lied to me the first time I wept. Seriously. I told all my friends how concerned I was. They encouraged me while also telling me that maybe I was “overreacting.” To which I was like, “Umm, he’s 3. Clearly I’ve ruined him.” In contrast, my third baby mimicked her first swear word, and without thinking I repeated it to her to see if she’d say it again. With time you realize that every child passes through seasons and it’s not because you’ve failed, it’s because they’re kids. First time around you’re taking everything (especially yourself) way too seriously.

So yes, I’m a mom of four and technically I have “my hands full,” but nothing has compared to my first transition to motherhood. If it was a rough ride for you as well, take heart, chances are it will get easier. As my sister-in-law so wisely put it, “The chaos of babies and toddlers will only last for a season anyway, and when you think about what your Thanksgiving table will look like in 20 years. It will be worth it.”

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The bottle warmer has long been a point of contention for new mamas. Hotly debated as a must-have or superfluous baby registry choice, standard models generally leave new moms underwhelmed at best.

It was time for something better.

Meet the Algoflame Milk Warmer, a digital warming wand that heats beverages to the perfect temperature―at home and on the go. And like any modern mama's best friend, the Algoflame solves a number of problems you might not have even known you needed solved.

As with so many genius gadgets, this one is designed by two parents who saw a serious need. It's currently a Kickstarter raising money for production next year, but here are 10 unexpected ways this brilliant device lends a hand―and reasons why you should consider supporting its launch.

1. It's portable.

Every seasoned mama knows that mealtime can happen anywhere. And since you're unlikely to carry a clunky traditional milk warmer in your diaper bag, the Algoflame is your answer. The super-light design goes anywhere without weighing down your diaper bag.

2. It's battery operated.

No outlets necessary. Simply charge the built-in battery before heading out, and you're ready for whatever (and wherever) your schedule takes you. (Plus, when you contribute to the Kickstarter you can request an additional backup battery for those days when your errands take all.day.long.)

3. It's compact.

Even at home, traditional bottle warmers can be an eyesore on the countertop. Skip the bulky model for Algoflame's streamlined design. The warmer is about nine inches long and one inch wide, which means you can tuck it in a drawer out of sight when not in use.

4. It's waterproof.

No one likes taking apart bottle warmers to clean all the pieces. Algoflame's waterproof casing can be easily and quickly cleaned with dish soap and water―and then dried just as quickly so you're ready to use it again.

5. It has precise temperature control.

Your wrist is not a thermometer―why are you still using it to test your baby's milk temperature? Algoflame lets you control heating to the optimal temperature for breastmilk or formula to ensure your baby's food is safe.

6. It's fool-proof.

The LED display helps you know when the milk is ready, even in those bleary-eyed early morning hours. When the right temperature is reached, the wand's display glows green. Too hot, and it turns red (with a range of colors in between to help you determine how hot the liquid is). Now that's something even sleep-deprived parents can handle.

7. It's adaptable.

Sized to fit most bottles and cups on the market, you never have to worry about whether or not your bottles will fit into your warmer again.

8. It's multipurpose.

If you're a mom, chances are your cup of coffee is cold somewhere right now. The Algoflame has you covered, mama! Simply pop the wand into your mug to reheat your own beverage no matter where you are.

9. You can operate it with one hand.

From getting the milk warmer out to heating your baby's beverage, the entire wand is easy to activate with one hand―because you know you're holding a fussing baby in the other!

10. It's safe.

Besides being made from materials that comply with the FDA food contact safety standard, Algoflame boasts a double safety system thanks to its specially designed storage case. When put away in the case, the built-in magnetic safe lock turns the milk warmer to power-off protection mode so it won't activate accidentally. Additionally, the warmer's "idle-free design" prevents the heater from being accidentally activated out of the case.

To get involved and help bring the Algoflame Milk Warmer to new mamas everywhere, support the brand's Kickstarter campaign here.

This article is sponsored by Algoflame Milk Warmer. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Christmas is so fun and magical, but if we don't keep ourselves in check it can get really overwhelming.

Sandra Bullock is the latest high-profile mom to talk about toning down presents to make more room for what matters in her family's Christmas celebration.

Mom to Louis, 8, and Laila, 6, Bullock was on the Today show this week when she explained how over the years her Christmas celebrations snowballed until she felt like her family was missing the point.

"I overdo it, and then I panic that I didn't do enough. Then I get more—and then everyone else has overdone it," she explained, adding that this year, she just stopped overdoing it, and she's feeling a lot less stressed this Christmas season.

"We just stopped. Because there's so much happening in the world where people don't have anything. And we said, 'Why don't we just make this about other people?'" Bullock explained, adding that her kids were totally into the idea of giving instead of getting this year.

"They were amazing about it. So, Christmas is three small gifts," she told Today's Hoda Kotb.

Why three is the magic number of presents 

Bullock is hardly alone in toning down Christmas. Tons of parents are simplifying the holiday in order to focus on the more meaningful parts, in part because (as Motherly previously reported) giving your kids fewer toys at Christmas actually makes them happier!

Combine increased happiness with the modern desire for less cluttered, minimalist living and you have a trend. In fact, even the number of gifts Bullock is doing this season is trendy. Three gift Christmases are a thing.

Three is kind of a magic number when it comes to Christmas celebrations. There are enough presents to make the morning feel magical, but not so many that the kids are lost in a mountain of wrapping paper and materialism.

With three gifts, kids have an opportunity to feel gratitude instead of overwhelmed. They can truly appreciate their presents and parents can feel less overwhelmed as well, because it's way easier (and cheaper) to buy three presents than try to bring the whole toy aisle home.

Making Christmas about giving 

Research demonstrates that children whose parents talk to them about giving to others are 20% more likely to make charitable donations than kids whose parents did not have that talk. Simply by talking to Louis and Laila about giving to others, Bullock is building capacity for giving in her kids, and in this case, talking does more than modeling, researchers note.

Bullock has the resources to give both a huge charitable contribution and a massive Christmas to her own kids, but both society and her kids are probably better off with her new Christmas plan.

A 2013 study, a 2013 study conducted by the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that just having a parent who gives their money and time to charity isn't as impactful as having a parent who talks to you about why it's important to do so.

By having the conversation about making Christmas about others, Bullock is instilling her values in her kids in a lasting way.

Helping kids give 

Bullock didn't go into detail about exactly how she's helping her kids make Christmas about others, but there are a lot of ways that parents can do that.

You can help your children choose or make gifts for other important people in their lives, like grandparents, teachers and friends.

You can ask your children to help you choose toys to give to charities that help families who can't afford to buy their kids gifts this year.

You can take your kids with you to volunteer at an organization that's doing good in the world.

You can involve your kids in making a monetary donation to a worthy cause.

The important part is doing it together, and having conversations about why giving is so much more important and impactful than getting.

We're all trying to raise empathetic kids and keep our houses free of clutter, and it sounds like Bullock's plan could help with both those goals.

If you're feeling overwhelmed and like you've been overdoing the holidays, consider taking a tip from Bullock and giving yourself permission to just stop.

Christmas doesn't have to be overwhelming to be magical.

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We all want our homes to be safe for our kids, but for years corded window blinds have been a hidden hazard in many American homes, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

That era is now over because as of this month, corded window blinds are no longer being sold by American stores or websites.

👏👏👏

Child safety advocates are cheering the decision by the Window Covering Manufacturers Association to require stock window coverings to be cordless or designed with inaccessible or short cords.

A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics found that 255 children died after getting tangled up in blind cords between 1990 and 2015, more than 16,800 kids were injured and seen in emergency rooms.

"We've known about this risk for over 70 years, yet we're still seeing children strangled by these products," study senior researcher Dr. Gary Smith told HealthDay last December. "It's just unacceptable."

A year ago, Smith said it was totally doable for manufacturers to reduce the risks associated with corded blinds, and now, finally, they have.

Now, people who need corded blinds (like those with disabilities who find corded blinds easier to use) will still be able to get them as custom orders, but you won't find them on the shelves at your local home improvement store.

Up until now, one child per month (on average) is dying because of window blind cords. It may have taken 70 years, but we're so glad to see this change!

Removing window blinds with cords

Some parents aren't aware that window blind cords can be hazardous. If you have corded blinds in your home and are now wanting to replace them, look for replacement blinds that have the "Best for Kids" certification label on the packaging.

If replacing all the blinds in your house is too costly right now, experts recommend starting with the rooms where your child hangs out the most, like their bedroom and the living room.

If you're renting, replacing blinds can be a bit trickier, as some leases prevent tenants from changing the blinds.

Talk to your landlord about the safety hazard (put it in writing and note the study in Pediatrics and the new regulations from the Window Covering Manufacturers Association). Alternatively, if your blinds are the snap-in kind, you can remove the landlord's blinds and store them somewhere safe while using your own, safer, window coverings for the rest of your tenancy.

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If you've ever stood over your baby's crib or clung to the monitor watching them as they slept, you're not alone, mama. Making sure your baby is safe while they sleep is one of the top concerns for parents, and often leads to our own sleepless nights as we struggle to relax while our baby snoozes. But you need your sleep too.

Here are 10 safe sleep guidelines to keep in mind so you can rest a little easier:

1. Place baby on a firm surface in a crib or bassinet.

Although your baby has the capability of falling asleep pretty much anywhere as a newborn, it is strongly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that all sleep happens in a crib with a firm mattress or in a bassinet. Other than a fitted sheet, nothing else should be in the crib, especially for newborns. By placing your baby on a firm surface, you will greatly reduce the risk of SIDS.

2. Put your baby on their back.

This is the safest position for your baby to sleep until they learn to roll over on their own. Once your baby has the ability to completely roll over, it is okay to allow them to remain in that position for sleep, but you should still put them on their back to begin with.

3. Set the appropriate temperature in the room.

You may have the urge to over-bundle your little one, especially in the winter months, but as long as the temperature in the room is between 68-72-degrees Fahrenheit, there is no need to layer them in excessive clothing. Long sleeve sleepwear with light socks is all they need to stay warm.

4. Make sure baby has their own separate sleeping space.

Although there are strong opinions on both sides of this subject, research has found that sharing a bed with a baby can put them at risk for SIDS. It is recommended by the AAP to room-share for the first 6-12 months of life, but not bed-share. The same goes for sleeping on a couch or other soft surfaces during the day. If you want your baby close to you, you can keep the crib or bassinet next to your bed.

5. Do not expose your baby to smoke.

Smoking is one of the risks of SIDS and even small particles on your clothing can be passed to your baby. Children should especially not be sleeping in an environment where there are particles of smoke in the air. This is something that should be considered when traveling and staying in hotels or homes of friends and family members as well.

6. Use a monitor if they're sleeping in another room.

The use of a baby monitor not only gives you peace of mind but can help ensure your baby remains safe while sleeping. While you don't need to worry over every little sound they make, there will be situations when you need to go in the room and do a safety check based on what you see or hear in the monitor.

7. Feed your baby in a position that isn't too relaxing for you.

This is one that might seem odd as you want to be comfortable as you feed the baby, especially if you are exhausted. However, it is best to avoid any situation where you might potentially fall asleep. For example, sitting in an upright position in a chair versus laying in your bed can help you stay more alert.

8. Use a pacifier and/or breastfeed if possible.

There are numerous reasons why a mama might not be able—or want to— to breastfeed, but if you do have the capability of doing so, it has been found as a way to decrease the risk of SIDS.

Similarly, if your child will take a pacifier, this is a great way to not only soothe them but also to prevent SIDS. I also highly encourage feeding your child as much as needed during the first few months of life. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to feed them every time they wake, but if they seem genuinely hungry, it is safest not to stretch them too long in between feeds.

9. Have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors nearby.

You'd be surprised how many homes don't have these installed or installed correctly. Regularly check the batteries in both devices and make sure they are working properly throughout the home so you'd be notified if something happened.

10. Don't let your baby sleep in an area with animals.

I know this one can be tough, especially if your pets were your first babies, but as much as we love them and as gentle as we think they are, limit the risk. A cat or dog could accidentally suffocate your baby if they have access to their crib/bassinet, or their fur could cause them to have trouble breathing.

These safety guidelines are not meant to induce fear or cause excessive worrying, but rather serve as tools and knowledge that will ensure baby's sleep is as safe as possible.

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It impacts 15 to 20% of pregnant and postpartum mothers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but depression too often goes untreated because it can be so hard for the mothers who are suffering to ask for help.

Untreated depression can rob new moms of the joy of pregnancy and those early days of parenthood, but new guidelines from the AAP could see moms getting help sooner.

This week the AAP released a new policy statement urging pediatricians to "incorporate recognition and management of perinatal depression into pediatric practice" because research suggests about 50% of moms who are depressed during and after pregnancy now are going undiagnosed.

A mother may not be a pediatrician's patient, but if a pediatrician notices that a mom seems to be struggling, helping her is obviously helping the baby, too.

Dr. Marian Earls, the lead author of the report, explains in an AAP media release: "When we are able to help a mother deal with her mental health, we are essentially reaching the whole family."

Earls' colleague, Dr. Jason Rafferty, says the idea is that by helping moms, pediatricians are proactively caring for the child's health, too.

"We know that postpartum depression can be a form of toxic stress that can affect an infant's brain development and cause problems with family relationships, breastfeeding and the child's medical treatment," he explains.

Prenatal depression impacts way more mothers than people realize, as Motherly previously reported. It's estimated more than 400,000 babies are born to depressed mothers each year. In addition, about one in nine new moms in America experience postpartum depression symptoms, according to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As Licensed Master Social Worker Erin Barbossa previously told Motherly, too many mothers have been going undiagnosed or untreated for too long.

"From my perspective, unfortunately, our medical system really lacks putting the mental health lens on unless symptoms are really severe," she explained. "We tend to focus on the physical symptoms related to the health of the baby, and if all of those check out, all is good enough."

The AAP's new guidelines seek to change that, by suggesting mothers get screened for depression once during pregnancy and then again during the baby's appointments at 1, 2, 4 and 6 months old.

The doctors behind the report say more work needs to be done to support parents suffering from depression and in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, but screening new mothers is a step in the right direction, and could change the lives of entire families.

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