We love picking out nursery decor as much as the next mama, but when it comes to parenting, you can't overlook the basics. The midnight feeds, the newborn baths, and even the potty training. Thankfully, The First Years has you covered with great gear that hits all the high points. And this week, we're giving away a few of our very favorite pieces, with a total value of $125! First: The First Years 4-in-1 Warming Comfort Tub, which is designed to grow with baby through 4 stages. It features a special water catch tray, removable top rack that fits most standard sinks, and reclining angles to fit baby from infant to toddler. For those midnight feeds, The First Years Remote Control Bottle Warmer lets you make a bottle right from your bed. Put a bottle in the unit before bedtime, then warm it up remotely with the touch of a button, as soon as you hear baby stir. And finally, for when that cute baby becomes a toddler, there's The First Years 2-in-1 Proper Position Potty. It not only promotes optimal potty posture for your little one, but it also has a removable top ring that can be transferred to a standard toilet. Enter to win them all below!
When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.
I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.
Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.
The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.
Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.
I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.
Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.
This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.
I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.
I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.
I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.
As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)
But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.
This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.
I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"
Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.
But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."