Lifestyle

19 Baby Products That Will Make Your Life Easier in 2018

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Parenting is hard, but luckily there are products to make the job a bit easier. Yes, easier! Have you been dreaming of catching a few more zzz's or how about pumping while on the go? We've rounded-up the products that can actually make it happen.

Read on to learn about 18 products that will make your life easier in 2018.

1. Halo Sleep SnoozyPod, $59.99. The Halo Sleep SnoozyPod combines gentle vibrations and a white noise machine for an all-in-one soother that helps your little one sleep from infancy through childhood. There is no installation necessary since it simply slides under any mattress. You choose which soothing sounds and vibrations your baby prefers, all of which can be controlled from your smart phone.

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2. Skip Hop Tray Chic Dry & Store Pump Bag, $60. The unique design of the Skip Hop Tray Chic Dry & Store Pump Bag not only offers ample space for your breast pump and bottles, but also includes a removable drying tray for your pump parts. A dual zip opening provides cross-ventilation so accessories can properly dry, and the tray doubles as a staging area when assembling your pump.

3. First Years Remote Control Bottle Warmer, $74.99. Just think, you could be warming those early morning bottles from the comfort of your own bed. Yes, with the First Years Remote Control Bottle Warmer, you get to keep a bottle right by your bedside, and when your little one wakes up hungry in the middle of the night, all you have to do is push a button and voila, a perfectly warm bottle is ready in minutes.

4. Beaba babycook, $149.95. If you plan to make your own baby food, you’re going to need the Beaba Babycook -- trust us! You can both steam and puree fruits and veggies in this all-in-one machine, which makes preparing fresh, nutritious food simple. Plus, clean up super quick.

5. Tommee Tippee Anti-Colic Bottle, $7.89. Always just a tad bit worried your baby’s bottle may be too hot? Thanks to Tommee Tippee’s new Advanced Anti-Colic bottles, you won’t have to worry about your baby’s sensitive tummy nor the temperature of his milk. A built-in heat sensing straw changes color if the milk is too hot, and anti-colic valve prevents air from ending up in milk, taking all the worry out of bottle feeding your babe.

6. Boppy ComfyFit Baby Carrier, $70. If you love wraps but find them intimidating, the all new hybrid Boppy ComfyFit Baby Carrier is for you! It combines the snug feeling of a wrap with the ease and security of a structured carrier. With less wrapping than a traditional soft carrier and a buckle waistband, you can enjoy the closeness you crave while also feeling confident and comfortable while carrying your newborn.

7. fridababy MediFrida, $12.99. The MediFrida from fridababy is a pacifier that doubles as a medicine administrator -- perfect for babies who love pacifiers but have a hard time taking medicine. Not only that, it actually sends medicine to the side of baby’s cheek so they never even taste it, pure genius if you ask us.

8. Hatch Baby Rest, $59.99. Hatch Baby Rest is a night light and sound machine all rolled into one. Use this versatile product for late night breastfeeding sessions with your newborn and as a ok-to-wake light for your toddler. And because it’s smart, you can control the settings directly from your phone.

9. babybrezza Formula Pro, $179.99. Any mama with a formula fed baby will tell you that mixing bottles quickly becomes a time-sucker. What if we told you there is a machine that will do all that mixing for you? The Babybrezza Formula Pro automatically makes perfectly warm bottles in seconds, so no more measuring and mixing needed.

10. Little Nomad, from $99.00. You want your baby to have a cushy and safe place to play but you don’t necessarily want it to cramp your style. Little Nomad to the rescue! These gorgeous playmat tiles fit together to create a space in your home both you and your little one can get excited about.

11. Phil & Teds Lobster, $89.99. Whether you want to save space in your home or need a convenient travel high chair, the Phil and Ted’s Lobster Clip-On High Chair is compact, lightweight and ultra portable. It packs up small and sets up quickly so you can take it anywhere you and your baby want to eat.

12. Doddle Pop, $9.99. Baby is going to drop her pacifier a million times on the sidewalk, floor of the grocery store, the subway (gasp). But the Doddle Pop pacifier makes these moments less cringe-worthy as it pops back inside its shell when it isn't in baby's mouth. It never touches those icky surfaces.

13. Willow Breast Pump, $479.99. The Willow Breast Pump is a wearable pump that fits inside your bra, no tubs, no cords, just the pump! It’s quiet, discreet and allows you to go about your business without being tethered to a machine. Amazing we know but not cheap, so if you’re looking for something similar but at a more affordable price point, check out the Nuk Simply Natural Freemie Double Electric Breast Pump ($299.99).

14. Puj Tub, $44.99. Most parents will agree, bathing a newborn is a daunting task. Thankfully the puj tub makes those first baths a breeze by cradling your baby in a soft and safe environment. It’s also mold and mildew resistant and hangs flat for storage, so it’s a win, win, win!

15. Ergobaby 180 Reversible Stroller, 399.99. The Ergobaby 180 Reversible Stroller has it all. You can reverse the stroller position with a flick of the handle, lay the seat flat for newborns, fill the basket with all your groceries and fold it in seconds with one hand. You get the picture, it makes life easier.

16. 4moms Playard, $249.99. It quite literally takes mere seconds to both set up and collapse the 4moms Playard, making it the easiest travel crib on the market to use. Easily move this playard from room to room, or take along on vacation for a quick and simple solution for sleep on the go.

17. LugBug Ergonomic Baby Carrier Car Seat Handle, $39.99. Toting a car seat around can be an arm-straining task, but luckily there’s a new solution to this age-old problem. The LugBug fits on most car seats to create a handle that makes carrying your car seat easier and whole lot more comfortable.

18. magnificent baby magnetic me clothing, various prices. One word, magnetic! Magnetic me clothing is a game changer in general since they basically dress your baby for you but they are a true life saver for middle of the night diaper changes. Beyond the fact that these clothes makes dressing your baby easy, they are also made from eco-friendly, super soft materials.

19. Graco Extend2Fit® Platinum Convertible Car Seat, $339.99. Installing a car seat is a workout; and for many parents, installing it properly is mission impossible. Though there's been a growing market in the easy-to-install car seat aisle, Graco takes it to a whole new level with its EZ Tight LATCH system, which automatically retracts all of the slack for a secure and tight installation in mere seconds -- no wiggling needed.

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It's finally 2020. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

We're only a few days into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2020 (so far):

Ashley Graham is a mama! 🎉

A new chapter is unfolding for model and podcaster Ashley Graham, who just announced she and her husband Justin Ervin have met their baby.

The baby arrived Saturday, according to a post made on Graham's Instagram Stories.

"At 6:00pm on Saturday our lives changed for the better," reads the Story. "Thank you for all your love and support during this incredible time."

Graham previously announced that she and Ervin were expecting a son. They initially announced the pregnancy on their ninth wedding anniversary.

Congratulations to Ashley and Justin!

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden just welcomed a baby girl! 🎉

Surprise! Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are ringing in the New Year as first-time parents!

"Happy New Year from the Maddens!" reads a birth announcement posted to both Diaz and Madden's Instagram accounts. "We are so happy, blessed and grateful to begin this new decade by announcing the birth of our daughter, Raddix Madden. She has instantly captured our hearts and completed our family."

Raddix Madden is the first child for Diaz, 47, and Madden, 40.

The couple say they won't be posting any pictures of their daughter on social media as they "feel a strong instinct to protect our little one's privacy."

Congratulations to the Maddens! 🎉

Dylan Dreyer of 'Today' is a mom of 2! 

Today meteorologist Dylan Dreyer and her husband Brian Fichera, welcomed their second child, Oliver George Fichera, the first week of January 2020. Oliver joins his big brother Calvin to make the family a foursome.

Dreyer is still recovering from birth but her voice was on TV this week when she called into her show with an update on her new family. "I feel good," Dylan told her colleagues. "I just feel so happy and so blessed."

Caterina Scorsone of 'Grey's Anatomy' now has 3 girls!

Caterina Scorsone of Grey's Anatomy has so much to be thankful for in 2020: She's now a mom of three! The actress announced the birth of her daughter via Instagram, noting that her baby's name is Arwen.

Arwen joins big sisters Eliza, 7, and 3-year-old Paloma, who has Down syndrome. Speaking on The Motherly Podcast last year, Scorsone explained how Paloma's diagnosis made her "whole concept of what motherhood was had to shift."

It is likely shifting again, as any mama who has gone from two kids to three knows.

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When it comes to taking care of the baby and the house, modern dads say they want to be equal partners.

But when Saturday arrives, research shows men are often relaxing while women are the ones doing unpaid housework with a “leisure time" discrepancy of more than 50 minutes a day on the weekends.

The study revealed that women were more likely than men to spend their weekends watching kids or performing housework.

So after a long week of watching kids or clocking hours on the job, what does mom do more of than dad? Work.

Claire M. Kamp Dush, Ph.D., an associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University, and lead author of the new study, says she is hopeful we can all find more balance. It's just going to take some hard discussions—and an understanding that there's more than one way to load a dishwasher or dress a baby.

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The study published in the journal Sex Roles saw Ohio State researchers tracking how 52 dual-income couples spent their time on a minute-by-minute basis as they welcomed their first child. The participating couples kept time diaries for workdays and non-workdays during the third trimester and for about three months after the baby's birth.

The researchers expected to see a lot of entries where mom and dad were doing childcare or housework together, but they didn't.

“Men actually increased their time doing leisure while she was doing work across the transition of parenthood," Kamp Dush shares. “It actually got worse once the baby was there."

According to Kamp Dush, there are a couple of factors behind this disappointing dynamic.

“One thing that's going on is women have a lot of societal pressure put on them to be perfect mothers. So if something is less than perfect with the baby or the house, the consequences are coming back on them," she explains, adding this pressure to have everything done to high standards may lead some moms to micromanage their partners.

If a dad is slacking, Kamp Dush suggests moms ascertain what his motivations are. Often, she says the solution may be as simple as empowering him to do things his own way. (Even if it isn't the outfit you would have picked for the baby...)

“It may also be the case that he just doesn't want to do it and he enjoys his leisure time," says Kamp Dush. If that's the case, she suggests calmly explaining the cost that his rest requires you pay. That may prompt him to do a bit more because, as Kamp Dush says, “He might also enjoy having a happier spouse and co-parent."

The earlier you can have these conversations, the better

Unaddressed resentment in relationships tends to build overtime, which is why it's essential to check in on how you (and your partner) are feeling early and often.

Kamp Dush suggests moms with heavy mental loads write down the tasks and duties they're dealing with. Then rip the list in half and hand it to dad. Couples can certainly negotiate the listed responsibilities, but the important thing is that they're not all on mom.

“Then, you're going to have to let it go," she explains. “Men know how to do these things. As women, we need to just let them do it."

Dads need to do 50 minutes more of unpaid work

The gender disparity in unpaid work hurts our careers, our families and our relationships, but it doesn't have to.

According to the Promundo's State of the World's Fathers' report, if men did 50 minutes of unpaid work a day we could close the gender gap.

"We need men to do our share. Fifty minutes more to relieve women of 50 minutes less would get us really close to equal," the president and CEO of Promundo, Gary Barker, tells Motherly.

When dads are more empowered and moms feel like their household responsibilities are more balanced, the whole family is going to be better off.

[A version of this post was first published July 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

News

For new mamas back to sitting behind their desks at work some six weeks (or fewer) after their babies are born, the institutionalized parental leave policy in Denmark is the stuff of daydreams: Over in that Scandinavian paradise, parents are granted 52 weeks of paid leave to divide between them.

There's no denying this is much, much better than the state of parental leave in the United States, but it isn't quite as perfect as it seems from the outside. According to Denmark's Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, women take an average 93% of leave allotted to couples. And when they do return to work, mothers' wages suffer both in comparison to men and women without children.

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The good news is that it seems the solution to this gender income gap is something we—the mothers of today, even here in America—can do something about.

A new paper from the US National Bureau of Economic Research that examined Danish administration information from 1980 to 2013 found the motherhood penalty “creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20% in the long run," which is comparable to the gap in the United States.

What's more, the income discrepancy only increases for each child a family in Denmark has: If a woman has four children, her income is only $0.60 to every dollar a man makes—10 years down the road.

While this indicates paid parental leave alone may not be the panacea for the gender income gap, the researchers suggest that changing the way we think about roles in the workplaces and homes could help—at least when it comes to the next generation.

“As a possible explanation for the persistence of child penalties, we show that they are transmitted through generations, from parents to daughters (but not sons)," the researchers note, explaining that the more a daughter's mother worked while the girl was growing up, the less the daughter's income was affected when she became a mother.

“Women tend to adopt a balance of paid work and childcare that is correlated with the one they saw their mother strike when they were growing up," Henrik Kleven, a Princeton economist and the paper's lead author, tells Quartz At Work.

What this looks like in practice is splitting household responsibilities from the get-go and encouraging fathers to take more leave. (In Sweden, where fathers are penalized for not taking advantage of paternity leave, women's earning rose an average 7% for each month of leave that men took.)

According to the State of the World's Fathers' report, produced by Promundo (a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging men and boys in gender equality in partnership with Dove Men+Care) 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands want to take paternity leave, and yet less than 50% of fathers take as much time as their country's policy allows, and social norms, financial pressures and a lack of support from their managers are all factors.

The report also found that if fathers are able to do just under an hour of unpaid work per day, mothers can cut their unpaid labor time by the same amount.

"We need men to do our share. Fifty minutes more to relieve women of 50 minutes less would get us really close to equal," the president and CEO of Promundo, Gary Barker, told Motherly.

This may help shift us toward more income equality today—and, as the research shows, our daughters will really be able to reap the benefits.

[A version of this post was first published January 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

News

There's no doubt: It's a new parenting era than 20 or 30 years ago.

Now faced with questions about how to limit screen time, when to give children phones and how to protect them from cyber threats, there are simply some issues that today's parents can't get advice on from our own parents.

Does that mean it's harder to be a parent today than when we were growing up? Yes, say 88% of young moms and dads.

According to a BPI Network survey of 2,000 parents in the United States and Canada, the leading reasons parenting feels harder than ever include: social media distractions, challenges with two working parents, emotional or behavioral dysfunction, peer competition or bullying, and violence and safety concerns in schools.

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Of course, most of us weren't fully aware of the challenges our parents faced when we were young—such as the fact they couldn't readily call on their own moms for advice lest they wanted to rack up major long-distance bills and couldn't have anything in the world delivered to their doorsteps within two days.

Regardless of whether it's true, the perception that parenting is harder than ever has contributed to some two-thirds of the respondents saying they've experienced "parental burnout."

"Parental burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion," says Neil D. Brown, LCSW, author of Ending The Parent-Teen Control Battle. "It leaves parents feeling chronically fatigued… and it can lead to depression, chronic anxiety and illness."

With 40% reporting parental burnout has "significantly" affected their qualities of life and another 49% saying it has "somewhat" affected their wellbeing, it's time employers take a vested interest in addressing the issue, says Dave Murray, Chief Strategy and Research Officer at the BPI Network.

"It is staggering to look at the incidence of [parental burnout] symptoms among working parents in America and understand the implications this has for added employee burden, cost, concern and downtime," Murray says, adding that counseling services to promote healthy parenting should "certainly" be among the benefits employers look to offer.

Many working parents are also hopeful that their employers will recognize the importance of practices that support healthy balance between work and life—with 78% of respondents to Motherly's 2018 State of Motherhood survey saying they believe it's possible to combine careers and motherhood. Of those who worked outside the home, the biggest changes they would like to see include subsidies for childcare or on-site childcare, paid maternity leave and more flexible schedules.

In our second annual State of Motherhood Survey in 2019 just over half (51%) of mothers said "I feel discouraged: it's extremely challenging managing trade-offs" associated with combining a career and motherhood.

The consequences of unaddressed parental burnout have an unfortunate way of spilling over to other members of the family. According to a recent study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, a sample of 1,551 parents suggested "parental burnout has a statistically similar effect to job burnout on addictions and sleep problems, a stronger effect on couples' conflicts and partner estrangement mindset and a specific effect on child-related outcomes (neglect and violence) and escape and suicidal ideation."

While employers have a stake in addressing this issue, there's also a lot that individuals can do—like starting by cutting ourselves a break on self-imposed expectations. As research has shown, the more grace we give ourselves and others in the ways we parent, the less prone we ultimately are to burning out.

And while we've heard this all before, it's also worth remembering just how important it is to take time for ourselves. "We must have regular practices to refuel," LMHC Jasmin Terrany previously told Motherly. "We don't need to feel guilty about taking this time for ourselves—our kids will not only learn that self-care is essential, but when we are good, they will be good."

Then don't feel one ounce of guilt about using that time to call someone long-distance or place another Amazon Prime delivery so you can remember that parenting in this day and age does have its perks.

[A version of this post was originally published July 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

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