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If you’re taking the formula route, there are more options for you and your little one than ever before. And as the formula market evolves and expands, many of those options now include organic products to meet the growing demand for quality and sustainable ingredients. But, with all of the available options, a quick trip down the formula aisle can easily turn into a long, overwhelming whirlwind.

The FDA sets very rigid regulations and holds strict nutritional requirements for all infant formula. So, feel confident that any formula you choose will provide your baby with all of his or her nutritional needs for calories, protein, fat and the essential vitamins and minerals. That is why the nutritional breakdowns, ie the nutrition facts, are pretty comparable amongst all formulas.

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What: What really differentiates organic from conventional formulas are the sources and quality of the ingredients. In addition to being more environmentally sustainable, organic formulas are made with non-GMO plant-derived ingredients, free of pesticide and herbicide residue, and with milk ingredients from cows, free of antibiotics or growth hormones. Unfortunately, organic formulas are more expensive, and are not as easily available (hello Amazon Prime). And, organic options don’t exist for more specialized, allergy friendly formulas.

Why: All formulas, organic and conventional alike are very processed, so it is not entirely clear if the organic seal comes with significant health advantage. It is always a challenge to find studies conducted on infants, and hard data isn't always available. The few studies done have not found detectible levels of pesticide residue in infant formulas, nor have they found any health risks associated with milk from cows treated with hormones or antibiotics. But, what we do know is from adult studies, which have shown as much as a 33% reduction in pesticides found in organic products. While the organic and non-GMO landscape is constantly changing and in question, at the moment it is the best seal we have. So if your budget permits, it’s worthwhile to go organic to protect the environment and to reduce your baby's potential exposure to pesticide, hormone and antibiotic residue.

Who: The main players in the organic formula market are Nature’s One Baby’s Only*, Earth’s Best and Honest Co., whose formula lines are exclusively organic; Bright Beginnings and Parent’s Choice both of which have organic and conventional formulas; and Similac, which is the only major mainstream formula company offering a single organic formula: Similac Advance Organic. These formulas differ in what sources of protein and carbohydrates are used, and if essential fatty acids are added.

Organic formulas can be divided into two main categories: standard cow’s milk and specialty soy or lactose-free formulas. Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside.

Standard Cow’s Milk Based Organic Formula

Fat: All standard organic formulas contain a blend of easy to digest vegetable oils that include sunflower, safflower, coconut and soybean oils. All of these oils, including the soybean, are highly refined so there is little risk of any allergic reactions.

Protein: Standard organic formulas use a blend of the milk proteins whey and casein. Formulas should be designed to closely mimic breast milk, which has a much higher ratio of whey than casein. Earth’s Best and Honest Co. add additional concentrated whey to more closely replicate the protein breakdown of breast milk, whereas other organic formulas do not resulting in higher amounts of casein.

Carbohydrate: The carbohydrate, or sugar, in breast milk is lactose, however all of the organic formula companies replace some or all the lactose with less expensive sugars. Earth’s Best and Honest Co actually maintain some lactose but use glucose syrup solids as an additional carb source. Baby’s Only use no lactose, and use organic brown rice syrup as the sole carbohydrate source, but rest assured that the syrup is vigorously filtered and tested to ensure undetectable levels of arsenic. Bright Beginnings, Parent’s Choice and Similac Organic replace all of the lactose with glucose solids, maltodextrin (corn sugar), and/or sugar. The health effect of different sugar sources in infant formulas has not been well studied. What has been studied are the benefits of lactose, and the blood sugar spiking effects of highly processed sugars like maltodextrin, so if applied to infant formulas, it would be convincing to choose lactose based formulas when possible.

DHA & ARA: The fatty acids found naturally in breast milk have known respiratory, and cognitive benefits, yet are one of the few essential nutrients not required in baby formulas. There has been some question about the integrity of the form of DHA & ARA approved for use in formulas, but because there is little evidence substantiating the claims most brands add DHA & ARA. To give parents the choice, Nature’s One has both a formula with and one without DHA & ARA, and Honest Co does not add the essential fatty acid to its formula. If you choose a formula without the DHA & ARA it is recommended to supplement.

Specialty Reduced Lactose & Soy Based Organic Formula

Earth’s Best and Nature’s One are the only two brands mentioned with a line of organic reduced lactose and soy based formulas. Earth’s Best Organic Sensitivity and Baby’s Only Lactorelief formulas are great alternatives for fussier babies needing gentler, easier to tolerate formula. Soy formulas should be avoided unless specifically advised by your pediatrician for a medical reason.

*There is some confusion as to whether Nature’s One Baby’s Only formula is suitable for infants. It is marketed and labeled as a toddler formula as an attempt to promote breastfeeding until 1 year of age, however it is designed and suitable for infants.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"


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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)

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Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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