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It’s easy to forget how much we rely on our kids’ grandparents. Most of us – about 60 percent of parents, to be exact – rely on them regularly to help raise our children. Plenty of us call on our folks as babysitters when we want a night out, or send our kids to see grandma and grandpa after school while we finish up at work. Our lives just wouldn’t be possible without them.

It’s something we all realize, in a way – but it’s not always how we think about our parents. When my wife and I pick up our son from one of those long stays at his grandparents, we tend to focus on the negative. We’ll notice all the little ways he’s changed: how they’ve spoiled him again, or how he’s picked up some of those traits our parents have that drive us wild.

Sometimes, on the way home, we talk about how much better things could be. One day soon, we promise ourselves, we’ll get our finances worked out, and then we won’t need to drop him off at the grandparents anymore. It’ll be better, we tell each other, when we don’t need to have them around all the time.

It’s our own frustration about not having more time, but if we could think about it clearly, we’d realize how lucky we are. We tend to write off our son’s grandparents as nothing more than discount nannies who help make our schedules work – but they do so much more than that.

Grandparents don’t just make life easier – they make our kids happier. They make us better parents and they help in ways we often don’t consider.

Grandparents connect kids to their family

My wife and I often imagine what our lives would be like if we could afford a live-in nanny. Or a governess, perhaps. Or, at the very least, to send our son to a half-decent nursery. How much would he learn, we wonder, if he could spend his time with professional educators instead of being plopped off with his extended family?

But that’s just the problem: nurseries aren’t family. It might be true that a professional caretaker can teach kids a few more things than their grandparents can – although it might not be. The jury’s out on that one. Some studies say that grandparent are better teachers and some say that nurseries are.

Either way, grandparents offer something no nursery can. Grandparents connect kids to their families. When our kids are spending time with grandma and grandpa, they know they’re with someone connected to their parents. They’re developing a bond with their family and with someone who is going to stick around for the rest of their lives. That’s a much deeper connection than they can make with a paid caregiver – and it keeps them connected to you, too.

We evolved to be raised with the help of grandparents

We’re supposed to be getting help from grandparents – from an evolutionary perspective, at least.

It’s a relatively new idea that two grown-ups are supposed to move out of town and off into a distant city, far away from everyone they know, to tackle raising kids all by themselves. This new idea was brought to us by a new world, and we’ve lived with it so long that we almost think it’s natural now to only see the grandparents at Christmas. But it’s not.

Parents aren’t supposed to raise kids on their own. We usually get help, and it makes such a big difference that there’s actually a theory that we wouldn’t have evolved without grandparents. Early humans, some researchers think, were only able to take care of their kids because their grandparents chipped in and helped. Were they not there, the human species wouldn’t exist today.

Grandparents help kids learn better

When parents accept help from other people, their kids learn better. Those helpers back up the things we teach our kids, and that makes them take the lessons more seriously. The idea that manners or reading are important stops being just something mom and dad like to go on about. When grandma and grandpa back it up, the kids realize every adult believes this and they start taking it more seriously.

They also see things in our kids that we miss. We spend so much time around our kids that we get locked into one idea of who they are. We see them fail at something, and we think they’re just not ready, even after they are. But when grandparents show up, they can break through that stagnation.

It’s happened to me. When I started teaching my son to ride a bike, I saw him go down hard so many times that I started to think he just wasn’t ready. We’d wait another year, I decided. Then his grandfather came over and insisted he hop on one more time. This time, I let go and he kept those pedals moving. It would never have happened if his grandpa hadn’t forced me into it.

Grandparents need their grandkids

It’s not just that our kids need their grandparents. Grandma and grandpa need their grandkids, too.

Grandparents thrive on doting on their grandkids. It’s not just that it makes them happy to see their grandkids run around and to spoil them with treats – it actually affects their entire quality of life. Grandparents who spend time with their grandkids have better mental health, physical health, less depression, and a better overall quality of life.

Our parents need their grandkids as much our children need them, and there’s no way to do that without bringing them together. There’s a chemical reaction that happens when our parents touch and play with our kids that brings them together and makes them happier, and it just can’t happen over Skype.

That’s what we forget: It’s not just about us and how much time and money we have. Our parents are a part of our children’s identities. They’re a part of our family. We need them for more than just daycare – we need them for our kids.

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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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