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Sometimes talking about parenting can feel a lot like talking about politics or religion when it’s done around friends and family. The conflicts that can easily arise when the subject of parenting comes up are reason enough to say nothing at all much of the time.

But the fact of the matter is, new Moms and Dads need help and support from loved ones. And even though having babies is the most amazing gift of all, it can get tough. And when the tough parts do occur, loved ones are the people new parents will look to first for an explanation, listening ears, and, in many cases, advice.


However, the subject becomes a difficult one for families when people are horrible at giving this advice.

Here are five easy steps to giving your new-parent loved ones the advice they are looking for without looking like an idiot:

1. Make sure you’ve been asked for parenting advice.

The most important thing to do when giving advice to new parents is to ensure you were asked to give advice in the first place. With the ridiculous technological advances even in the past 50 years, today’s generation of parents is far-and-away the smartest group of parents there ever were. They know everything. They have read all the right books, taken all the right classes, asked all the right questions, joined all the right Facebook groups, etc.

Today’s parents have access to every resource under the sun on parenting, and, therefore, they are extremely prepared for the job. Thus, for those people on the outside, it’s important to remember that your new parent friends and family don’t always need advice from you. So most of the time, they aren’t going to be asking for it.

In other words, just because your friends who just had a baby keep bringing up the absurd number of disposal diapers their baby is going through, that doesn’t mean they want to hear from you about how they should probably start using cloth ones. And just because your daughter keeps using her baby’s sleep pattern as an excuse for not calling you in days, that doesn’t mean she wants to hear about how you think she should be putting her baby to bed on his stomach.

Almost 98% of the time new parents fill you in on things that are happening in their new parenting lives, they are doing so because they need to vent about it. They want to talk with you, but parenting is now their entire life, so it’s going to come up a lot. So be careful not to offer up advice to people who just want to share their new experiences with you. You will know if someone is asking you for parenting advice because it will be incredibly obvious to you. How can you tell for sure if they are asking? A good rule of thumb is that most of the time you will hear the word “advice.”

2. Make sure what you’re going to say isn’t the most obvious thing in the entire world.

As I mentioned before, today’s parents are well-equipped for the job because they have constant access to the most up-to-date parenting information on things like how babies should be sleeping, how often they should be fed, etc.

There are many areas, however, in which tools like the internet become difficult for new parents. For example, there are a kajillion crazy forums out there on which car seats are the best for new babies. Review after review pours over the screen, and new parents wish there was a simpler way to decipher the differences between the millions of different types of car seats out there.

So when your new parent friend asks for your advice (see step 1) on what types of car seats are the best and you tell them that they can find reviews of so many different kinds online, you are not being helpful. And they’ve actually now imagined three different ways of casually slapping you in the face. OH, GOOGLE? I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT GOOGLE.

3. Stay away from the phrase “it gets easier” unless you’ve been through something similar.

After seemingly endless nights of feeding, changing, feeding, changing, and on and on, new parents do enjoy hearing the phrase “it gets easier.” They like to know that there is a time to look forward to in the future that will involve larger breaks in between those things.

This note needs a little bit of clarification, because if you are an acquaintance of new parents, the phrase “it gets easier” should be a go-to. When you see those new parents at the grocery store with massive bags under their eyes, go ahead, tell them how much easier it’s going to get! But when you are a friend or family member of new parents, you usually need to be a little more specific with this kind of advice.

Because what often happens is that the new parents look back at you with that face that says, “ok! But hey, just wondering, WHEN?” And if you tell a new parent that it gets easier and then say something like “Yeah, it took little Joey over two weeks to sleep through the night!” the imaginary slapping hand very quickly becomes a fist.

4. Don’t be a know-it-all.

If there’s one thing that really rattles new parents’… rattles, it’s when other people act like they know what their baby is thinking or feeling. So when the new baby starts wailing around you and you say something like, “Oh, he’s just tired,” or “He doesn’t like that noise” or something like that, you sound like a huge jerk.

Because when you do that, you are either, 1. stating the obvious (“Oh, he’s just tired? HE’S JUST TIRED? Why didn’t I think of that? Oh wait, I’ve been trying to get him to fall asleep for the past 5 hours — see step 2), or you are saying something new, but pointing out that the reason for the baby’s upset is something that’s obvious to even an outsider. And, contrary to popular belief, making someone feel stupid is not the way to give advice.

Also, the parents have been around the baby way longer than you have, so just don’t.

5. Use the phrase “I did” instead of “You should.”

Often, you know exactly what your new-parent friends should do! After all, you were a new parent not long ago yourself. But sometimes, no matter how great your advice is, if you say it wrong, it can come off sounding like you skipped step 4.

A foundational tool for giving advice to new parents (after confirming that you were asked, of course), is to make sure you aren’t pushing your own parenting methods on them. The best way to do this is to, when advising them to do something you did as a parent, start by explaining that it is a method which worked for you and that’s why you advise it.

That way, they have a new tool in their reservoir to use, but they aren’t made to feel like they should have thought of it themselves. Because instructing is not a synonym for advising.

Now, go forth and be helpful, young padawans!

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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.)


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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