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I met my boyfriend online. We had an immediate and intense connection, and for the first five years of our relationship we were very happy and incredibly in sync. Then we had a baby.

I guess it should have been pretty obvious that introducing a new and totally dependent (albeit adorable) new person into our relationship was going to change things. But we were so loved up during my pregnancy that I didn’t really think too far ahead. And, for the most part, until our daughter arrived we never really argued about anything.

That changed about two days after she was born. We started to bicker about everything. Of course, there was the sleep deprivation and the stress of figuring out our new life with this baby, but our disagreements went beyond that: we had a different way of parenting and interacting with our child, and it hadn’t become obvious until that moment.

He criticized me constantly in the beginning, saying I was holding the baby too much. I felt that it was impossible to spoil a newborn. I wanted to co-sleep. He didn’t want her to get used to sharing a bed with us. He gets frustrated and impatient when she’s whining and crying, whereas I’m more tolerant as I believe she’s very little and can’t control her impulses. All of these situations led to an argument. Sometimes multiple arguments.

Our daughter recently turned one, and this year has been a learning experience in so many ways. Although we continue to disagree about most things where she’s concerned, I have decided not to stress about it. In fact, I think it’s important to embrace polar opposite parenting approaches for four reasons.

1 | It challenges you to see things from a completely different perspective.

We both have strong feelings about how we want to raise our daughter, and we both come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. It’s important to remember to keep an open mind and make an effort to see things from your partner’s point of view.

Sometimes my way is better, sometimes his way is better, and sometimes I’m so wrapped up in doing it my way that I forget to pay attention to his way. I think that’s a mistake. Consider both ways, and then make a decision.

2 | Your child will get a chance to see how conflicts are resolved.

Our goal is to provide a united front and not to argue in front of our daughter, so to date she hasn’t really witnessed any of our clashes. But I suspect one day she will see us fighting and I want her learn a valuable lesson: Disagreements are a natural and healthy part of every relationship, and they can often be resolved through dialogue, active listening, and compromise. That’s a lesson I want her to take with her to the playground, to school, to college, and beyond.

Kids are extremely perceptive. Even if they don’t witness a fight, they know something’s up. This is a great opportunity to teach them about problem solving.

3 | It will make your relationship stronger.

It stands to reason that arguing and, more importantly, coming to an agreement about serious topics such as discipline, food, and sleep, among other topics, will reinforce your bond. Even if you agree to disagree, every disagreement presents a chance to learn and grow as a team.

One time my boyfriend said to me, “You know I also have her best interests at heart.” I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it was almost as if I had forgotten that. Even when your partner’s approach is not the same as yours, it’s important to see the big picture and remember that you’re in this together.

4 | It helps you learn to pick your battles.

Life is too short to bicker about every little thing. That’s how our situation was initially – everything was worthy of an argument, no matter how small. That’s a terrible way to live.

Now when we disagree, I stop, take a deep breath, and ask myself, “Is this really worth arguing about?” Often it’s not, and I move on. And instead of using that energy to argue with my partner and be angry with him, I use it to play with my daughter and enjoy time with her. This is indubitably a skill that can be applied to all relationships.   

While I love my boyfriend and I felt that I knew him very well by the time we had our daughter, the truth is that you don’t really know what kind of parent your partner will be until you have a kid.

And I’m not saying he’s a bad parent. On the contrary, he’s an absolutely wonderful father who adores his little girl. All I’m saying is that it’s helpful to expect these challenges once you enter the wonderful world of parenthood, and to weather them as best you can, together.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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