What I learned from the stranger who made fun of my child

I knew bullies would be something my children may encounter eventually, but I never expected them to target a baby.

What I learned from the stranger who made fun of my child

The first time my child was made fun of he was 5 months old. I'll never forget where we were: The deli line at our local grocery store. I had just ordered a pound of rotisserie smoked turkey and looked over to find a middle-aged woman snickering and pointing at my son.

I knew bullies would be something my children may encounter eventually, but I never expected them to target a baby.

It didn't take much investigating to know what she was laughing at though. My beautiful boy was wearing a cranial helmet. It had just been placed on his head two days prior, and the grocery store was our first outing with his new accessory.

I was already emotional enough—I missed the smell of his freshly washed hair. I hated how I could no longer cuddle him close to my body when he fed. This lumpy piece of plastic was separating our snuggles, and now it was making him the laughing stock of the whole store.

I wish I could grab the mother I used to be and whisper in her ear, "It's okay. Let them laugh. You're going to teach the world about different types of beauty," but she probably would've shooed me away. And she also wouldn't have believed me.

Because the woman I used to be was committed to hiding.

I ran out of that store and made it to my car before the tears came. What I didn't realize at that time was that I wasn't crying over someone's cruelty, or even a cranial helmet, I was bawling because my child was marked as different. And back then I didn't want to be different. I desperately wanted to blend in.

Months prior to my son being strapped into a piece of plastic, my world erupted. My husband's heart stopped, my 2-year-old daughter started showing signs of autism, and the depression and abuse I had stuffed inside for many years began to surface.

I had convinced myself that since no one else was sharing their hardships, neither could I. The world didn't want to see my pain, they only wanted my prettiest parts. So that's what I gave them publicly as I privately suffered.

But this helmet, this awful store experience, that whole day changed everything for me. There was no more hiding. It was the beginning of letting the world see an imperfection I couldn't filter away, and it unknowingly prepared me for the road ahead with my baby boy.

Because in three short months his helmet would be gone, but for the rest of my son's life he'd still have something that marked him as different. This time, an invisible disability like his sister: autism.

I still get stares and snickers all the time, but people no longer know what they're looking for. It's impossible to miss a helmet on a 5-month-old's head, but autism doesn't look the same on everyone, there's no one thing to point out.

When my children have sensory breakdowns, or flap with excitement, or turn down another child's friendship—the evil eyes of others return, without necessarily being able to call my children different

But unlike that mother of two years ago, today I have no intention of running and crying. The hiding is over; I only want to educate. Because in order to introduce different kinds of beauty into the world, we have to expose them to it. So here are my babies. They have autism. Among a bunch of other wonderful qualities.

We all have something that marks us as atypical. Maybe it sits on top of your head for all to see, or maybe you've shoved it deep within, hoping to hide it forever. Whatever the case, I encourage you to embrace it, and when you're ready, let it go.

Someone is standing in the store—not waiting to laugh and point—but to walk along with you. A richer life awaits when we let go of appearances and choose to be authentic. It's time to put on our helmets for the whole world to see.

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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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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.

Our Partners

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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