My children are nothing alike—so I'm learning how to parent them differently

Their wildly contrasting personalities couldn't have been clearer right from birth—and yet, as the months chased each other by I didn't get it.

My children are nothing alike—so I'm learning how to parent them differently

My firstborn came into the world on her due date after a textbook pregnancy, screaming perfunctorily to show all was well with her brand new little lungs, before settling alone into her hospital bassinet and sleeping long, peaceful stretches with her tiny arms resting languidly above her head.

My second born had to be coaxed from the womb, days late, with medical assistance and a team of midwives checking her blood sugar levels every few hours (I'd had a difficult pregnancy with gestational diabetes among other things).

For days on end (it felt like) she cried until, at the suggestion of a friend, I gave up on trying to lay her down and just held her, round the clock, on my chest, shielding her from the world.


Their wildly contrasting personalities couldn't have been clearer right from birth—and yet, as the months chased each other by I didn't get it.

I wish now that I could get back the hours I spent comparing the littlest to the firstborn, wracking my brain over why she wouldn't sleep, why she was sick so often, why things that made my eldest laugh would make her cry (and vice versa), why she struggled so with teething when the first had sailed through it without missing a beat...

Why she wanted to be on me, next to me, touching me All. The. Time… Why she seemed to need so much more of me.

One morning after a particularly sleepless night, I watched my two daughters together in a shaft of sunlight on my bedroom rug, the eldest making funny faces to get the littlest giggle, and it hit me: their experiences of this life so far had been so completely different.

I don't know what the answer is to the "nature or nurture" question, but this I do know: my daughters showed me who they were from the moment they were born.

And I know this too: when my first came into this world, she had me all to herself. We had nowhere to go and nothing to do but be with each other. Our days drifted by, punctuated by nap time and nursing and walks in the stroller.

The second was born into an already-chaotic little family with noise and a toddler's needs to meet and playgroups to get to and play dates to host and a mother whose nerves were fraying around the edges with the weight of it all.

How could I possibly expect them to behave in the same way when the circumstances surrounding them were so very, very different?

And then I realized the secret I'm about to tell you (although you probably know it by now too).

Parenting is so much more fun, so much more rewarding—so much easier!—when we let go of our expectations of how they're "supposed" to be, and start getting to know them for who they really are.

The greatest privilege of parenting is getting to know—to really know—these little people whose lives have been entrusted to us for safekeeping. They're not miniature versions of us, nor are they carbon copies of each other. They are their own unique beings, and when we let them be, everyone is happier.

It shouldn't have taken me so long to realize something so obvious, but in the haze of new motherhood, I was simply trying to survive—and parenting my second the same way I did my first seemed the fairest and most logical way to go. But, although we were surviving, none of us were thriving.

My youngest didn't need more of me—she needed different things from me. I needed to love them in different ways. And so, I did.

Now, two years later, my love for them is equal but not the same.

To my eldest, love is freedom. Love is a safe place to jump off from, to run, to explore, and to come back to with stories about what she discovered. Love is a listening ear and a willingness to go on adventures.

I imagine a future where I'll love her—and parent her—from afar more often than not, and I understand that for her the words, "Mama, come and swim with me" are her way of saying "I love you." Me diving into the water is my way of saying it back.

To my youngest, love is closeness, love is contact. Her safe place is right here in my arms, the place she always comes back to, defaults to, even though her instinct to follow her big sister is strong. Her very first sentence was "Mommy, I miss you", which she says now even when I'm only on the other side of the room. My "I love you" in return is to stop what I'm doing and pull her onto my lap.

I wouldn't change a thing about either of them. They have taught me that love comes in all shapes and sizes and sometimes in ways I wouldn't expect.

I can't wait for a future where they keep teaching me new ways to say I love you.

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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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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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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