I wouldn't have made it through the first year without my mama tribe

So much of my first year of motherhood is a blur. I can't tell you without checking her baby book if my daughter slept through the night the third or fourth month of her life, or which nights she woke the most. I know we spent many days in our backyard or at the park, but I can't always put my finger on how exactly we filled those long afternoon stretches (especially the ones without naps). In my memory, she threw up at least once a day the first month of her life, but I don't know if I'm always remembering accurately.

I know I cried almost as often as my baby did in the beginning as I struggled to navigate those choppy new mama waters.

And yet. When I think back to that first year, it's always washed in a glow of joy and celebration, even on our toughest days. My mama tribe is so much to thank for that.

There's something magical about mamas who help other mamas. I think of the dear friends who helped me through those endless last weeks of pregnancy, when my body felt stretched to the limit and I couldn't believe there were still so many days to go. The ones who coached me during labor and were among the first people to hold my daughter's tiny newborn body and soothe her first wailing cries. The ones who always seemed to know when to give us our space and when I desperately needed adult company—and who always managed to sneak in a load of dishes or drop off dinner when they came to visit. Those first days and weeks felt like a blur of exhaustion and happiness, and I was grateful for every woman, from my own mama to my friends, who kept me and my life together so I was able to focus on caring for this new baby I had created.

These were the women who knew my sleep-deprived struggles better than anyone—because they were written in the lines around their own eyes as well. They shared stretch mark battle scars and laughed with me over spit-up and diaper blowouts—things that would have been anything but funny were I alone. They held my baby when my own arms were too tired and forced me to take long showers and naps while they watched the baby because they knew I needed it.

Simply, when they said they got it, they meant it. They've walked my baby-laden steps and carried my same loads. They let me cry on understanding shoulders and helped me find the beauty in the stormiest days. And so many of them survived on the same help they then passed on to me.

Because when mamas help other mamas, everyone's load is lightened.

I'm so grateful that they are my daughter's first exposure to female friends. This supportive village we've made for ourselves fortifies us both and teaches her lessons you have to feel to know.

My tribe inspires me to provide the same level of support to the next generation of mamas—and to return the favor should any of them expand their own brood. It motivates me to be the soul-saving mama tribe that another new mom might need.

Fortunately, it's surprisingly easy to lend a hand to another new mama. Whether it's providing practical help, like offering a home cooked meal or two, helping out with dishes or laundry, or just coming over to hold her baby while she naps or showers, these simple acts can feel incredibly arduous for new moms in the beginning. I was so grateful when friends stepped in. I also love sharing my favorite product recommendations, from the baby carrier that saved me during the "fourth trimester" to the only diaper cream that soothed my daughter's sensitive skin. If passing on these miracle products can help save the sanity of another mama, I'm more than happy to do it.

Because, unfortunately, not every new mom gets the support she deserves. And often, the mamas most in need won't be at my local playground or in my own neighborhood. So I push myself to find ways to help every mom, whether we've ever met in person or not.

That's why one of my favorite ways to give back is the Burt's Bees Baby Baby Bee Box. Not only is it a gift I can give to a new mom in my circle, packed with a whopping three months of gentle, environmentally friendly essentials for a new baby, but it's also a gift that gives back. With every box purchase, Burt's Bees Baby donates a box to a mom in need so she can feel supported as she bonds with her new little one. Because the bond of motherhood extends well beyond my immediate circle.

I can't imagine my life without my mama tribe, and it brings me a lot of comfort to know I can help other moms feel the same way. Mamas helping mamas? That's the real magic.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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