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5 Things I Could Not Have Known About My First Born

First time parenting is rough. It’s one of those things in life that, even with preparation, leaves you unprepared. I studied early child development while earning my Psychology degree. I read tons of books while pregnant. I drew on my experiences taking care of my younger siblings as a teen. I talked to everyone I knew about parenting strategies.

Despite all of this, what I learned about my daughter, my firstborn, was mostly in retrospect after my second arrived.

How “little” she really was

This may sound intuitive to some people, but I continually expected my daughter to be so much more capable than she actually was. I pushed her very hard to be able to sit quietly, entertain herself, play well with other children, and get quickly over disappointments and tantrums.

But now, watching my 22-month-old son, I am struck by how little she really was at this age. Now I get it and I am gentler with him (and her) because of it. I better understand how much time it takes to learn to communicate or develop emotional control.

I think part of what made it confusing was her advanced development. She ate with utensils at 10 months old. She spoke in full sentences at 18 months. She could entertain herself for an hour or sometimes more. She appeared so much more mature than she actually was.

How much she was capable of doing for herself

I had super high expectations for her in some areas, but I also had very low expectations in other ways.

It wasn’t until I enrolled my son in day care at one year that I realized how much babies could do for themselves. Their goals for that age were self-feeding and self-care. They were consciously teaching this age group things I was still doing for my daughter at three.

Instead of taking the time to empower her to do things for herself, I just did the things for her. I picked out her clothes, dressed her, washed her hands for her, and even fed her if it was too messy.

Now, with two little ones, it’s a lot easier to encourage them to try more things for themselves. I get a lot more resistance from my daughter because I have helped her for so long. She sees my reluctance to help her as me pushing her away.

How much she was not “boyish”

At the risk of sparking a gender debate, please remember this is just an account of our experience.

My husband and I watched her approach to life and would often comment that she was more like a boy than a girl. She was aggressive and rough, preferring blocks and cars to dolls and stuffed animals. She wanted to run around, jump, and be thrown up in the air.

At age one, we noticed she was incredibly mechanically minded, driven to figure out how things worked. She was fascinated by buckles and latches, manipulating any she could get her hands on.

When our boy arrived, it become obvious how wrong we were. The elements of her that had seemed to be “boyish,” now proved to be characteristics of her unique personality as opposed to being gender related.

Our son does not ever stop moving. Our daughter can sit still for long periods, exploring a book or a puzzle. Our son is rough and tumble in a different way, often getting hurt without even noticing. He climbs everything. It never occurred to our daughter to climb some of the things he’s climbed until she saw him do it.

How kids are so different

So often, we watch our son do something that instantly reminds us of the time our daughter did the exact same thing. Their mannerisms are so eerily reminiscent of each other it’s like déjà vu. Yet what I’ve really learned is that they can also be so different, despite being so alike.

Our little man is sweet and sensitive, craving physical closeness. Our daughter is much more independent, preferring physical contact on her own terms. She plays imaginatively, while he is very physical: throwing balls, pushing cars, running, and jumping. She loves to communicate; he is not determined to do so. He tends to get frustrated and gives up easily, while she will persevere until she solves it.

How siblings aren’t necessarily good for each other

This one hurt for me. I knew from my husband’s experience that sibling relationships aren’t always easy. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened.

Our daughter was two when he was born – a difficult baby, who commanded an extraordinary amount of time and attention. She had been very attached to me up until that time, barely allowing anyone else to do anything for her, even my husband.

The arrival of a new baby broke our bond in a very intense way. Despite our goal of encouraging additional connections in her life, I wish it hadn’t happened in such a drastic manner. Looking back, I’m not sure what else we could have done to ease her transition, short of postponing having another baby.

It took her more than a year to even out and get settled into her new role. Now that our son is almost two, we feel heartened by the beginning of a relationship between them.

These are not lessons you can learn from a book or a more experienced parent. You have to live them and breathe them, and let the experiences change you. I have regrets, but I can’t change the past.

What I can do is learn from these insights, applying them to each new stage as we all grow together.

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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.

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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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).

In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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