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Disciplinary Decisions

When motherhood is upon us, the majority of us begin studying. We buy books, login to Babycenter, borrow registry lists, and have in-depth discussions with friends and strangers on subjects like nursing, potty-training, sleep-training, and the best pediatricians and preschools.

Why do we do all of this? Because deep down our biggest fear is messing up. When we sign up for the job of parenthood, we commit on every level to do the best we can, even if we don’t have all of the answers (and none of us do.) But at some point, we must all accept that no book can tell us how to do it.

During my son’s first year, I actually thought things were tough. Broken sleep and the struggle to produce enough milk for my growing boy definitely drained me. But I had no idea what was coming as he began walking, running and speaking. This little person was starting to develop, and with it came tantrums, demands, and moments that, frankly, I had not prepared for. Sometimes, the only option you have as a parent is to do you best you can in the moment….and with that, there’s no guarantee of the kind of job you’re doing.

I got a taste of this firsthand on my son’s recent birthday. Take note: your child’s birthday can feel highly significant to you--personally. It’s literally your BIRTH-day. So on my son’s third birthday, I celebrated with cupcakes, gifts and dinner at his favorite restaurant. I envisioned his day as joyful for all of us. But that was not the case.

Halfway through dinner, his happy mood inexplicably changed. It was like a switch went off. There’s a state that happens with toddlers when something goes off in their little minds to provoke them toward hyperactivity, defiant No’s, slapping hands and wiggly bodies. No threats of “time out” make a difference. They’ve crossed over to the dark side and there’s no getting them back.

Without going into the nitty-gritty details, let’s just say it was ugly enough for us to leave the table mid-meal. I threatened my son that we’d better make it home without any major issues, and that he must hold my hand or else….but just as the door of the restaurant swung open, he ran. And this boy runs fast.

On this particular night, it was dark and drizzly and my worst nightmare flashed before my eyes: my innocent (though misbehaved) boy getting hit by a car. I ran after him in a panic, screaming his name at the top of my lungs.

When I caught him I was so enraged, so irate that I did what I said I’d never do…. I hit him. Yup, there it is. The ugly truth. I grabbed him and hit him on the bottom hard enough for him to feel how angry I was and how much I needed him to understand that he cannot run away from me on the NYC streets.

And just at the moment--just as my son and I had hit our ugly rock bottom--a stranger walked by. And out of his mouth came the following horrid, haunting words: “Bad Upbringing!”

I felt my anger rise to my head. “Go Screw Yourself!” I yelled (yes, in front of my toddler, as if this moment couldn’t get better). Who did he think he was? What did he know about this moment and what had led to it? Still angry, and now even more crushed, I dragged my son back to our building where thank goodness, my husband had arrived home and took over.

For the first time since my son had been born, I did not snuggle him before bed nor give him his goodnight kiss. I didn’t have it in me. This alone made him hysterical and I realized was actually his punishment for disobeying me on such a grand level. But even after he had stopped crying and gone to sleep, I couldn’t shake my anger, my sadness at how the night had gone. And the words “Bad Upbringing” wouldn’t leave my thoughts.

I sat on the couch and let my tears fall. Why am I so affected? I asked myself. Bad Upbringing. It’s our greatest fear as moms, that our actions will mess our children up, that one spank or the wrong words will ruin their potential. That one day they will view their childhood as a fail. That on the therapist’s couch they will refer to their childhood experience as Bad Upbringing.

My fear was like a giant cut with lemon juice and salt rubbed in. I was desperately frightened that I was ruining my son, but there was no one to tell me the right way to do it. It was all me and my best guess. I could do nothing but sit with it and feel it. Someone’s poorly timed opinion vocalized exactly what I feared.

The next morning, when my son woke up, I went to his room, unsure of what our dynamic would be. He told me that he was sad and that he wanted to snuggle. So that’s what we did. He asked if it was still his birthday. I told him that it wasn’t but that there was still more celebrating coming his way. I could tell that he felt badly, and before long he told me that he was sorry for running away from me. I told him never to do it again and gave him a kiss.

There is no guidebook, that’s the one thing I know. And when we love this much, we also worry. I have no solutions but only some truths to share: trust your inner wisdom above all else, ignore people that don’t have a clue, and let yourself cry the tears that express your fears--there’s nothing better you can do with them.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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