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Our son was barely two years old when we enrolled him in a daycare in China. We were two western parents raising a child abroad, and we liked to believe we were doing a pretty good job at it. We took pride in the belief that our boy was ahead of the curve.


But when he showed up with a diaper under his pants, the teachers reacted like we’d brought him in covered in bruises.

“No good,” the head of the daycare said with tsk and a disappointed shake of her head. “We will fix this.”

Our child had only been alive for twenty-four months, but the people here thought it was embarrassing that he wasn’t yet fully potty-trained. To us, it seemed ridiculous (and a little insulting) that this woman thought she could have him running around dry and diaperless within a week – but she did it.

About seven days later, we were done with diapers. It was incredible – but, by Chinese standards, we were actually behind the curve.

Chinese parents potty-train their children without ever putting a single diaper on their bottoms, and the results are astonishing:

– Children are potty-trained in their first 12 to 20 months

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– They never have to clean a dirty diaper

– They never have to treat diaper rash

– They save all that money we waste on diapers

– They save all that space in landfills that we fill with them

– They never hear their children cry about being wrapped up in a soiled diaper

Chinese potty-training is different, but it actually works – and it’s worth every parent’s time to borrow a few of its ideas.

Here’s how it works:

Start at birth.

In Europe and America, people endlessly debate when a child is “potty-ready” – but almost everywhere else in the world, the answer’s simple: they start about a few days after the baby is born.

I’m not saying science is wrong – it’s a fact that children are not biologically capable of controlling their bladders. These Chinese newborns do not politely excuse themselves while they step into the powder room.

They are, however, practicing. And that’s the real goal: ingraining good potty-habits from the start.

In case you’re worried, there is absolutely no danger in starting young. Studies have shown that children potty-trained at birth have absolutely no negative side-effects on their behavior.

Waiting too long, though, is dangerous. Other studies show that children who start potty-training late are more prone to accidents and bed-wetting. When we let kids spend their first three years relieving themselves whenever and wherever they want to, it becomes a habit – and breaking that habit is a lot of the reason it’s so hard to get those kids potty-trained when we do start.

Watch for signals.

The goal, at the start, is to get your children into the habit of going to the toilet whenever they need it. At this point, they’re not really aware enough to know it themselves – so it’ll be your job to keep an eye on what your baby’s feeling.

Babies will usually give some indication that they need the toilet before they start using it. You might see your baby squirming, or start to make a struggling face. His or her breathing might change. If it’s a boy, he might start filling up.

Whatever the cue, as soon as you see it happening, your job will be to bring your baby over to the nearest bathroom as quickly as you can. It’s not easy, but it’s setting up a habit in your baby’s life. Your baby will be growing up used to the idea that he or she should react when it’s time to go — instead of just sitting there letting it happen.

Truth be told, you probably won’t always make it in time. Which brings us to one more tip – most Chinese homes don’t have carpet. If you’re going to give this a serious try, you’ll probably regret not pulling those out the first time you don’t make it.

Hold your baby over the toilet.

When they make it to the bathroom, Chinese parents will hold their children over the toilet while they do their business.

That is – when they make it to the bathroom. The truth is, babies have incredibly tiny bladders, and you’re probably not going to have time to get your child to the toilet each time. That’s why Chinese parents often have a practice potty or, when that’s not close enough by, even use basins around the house. Anything they can hold a child over to keep it from making a mess.

When it’s time to go, hold your baby over your potty. Have your child look at, reach for and grab the potty before starting to make the link between toilets and relieving yourself that much more clear.

Whistle.

From nearly the moment our child was born, he’s heard somebody whistle a high F# every time he’s gone pee. It’s something we did from his birth and that, early on, seemed just like a weird tradition our neighbors had goaded us into following – but when he got a bit older, the effects were incredible. Our boy might sit on the toilet complaining that he doesn’t have to go, but the second we whistle, it comes out of him like pressing a button on a machine.

We were taught to whistle – but other people use other sounds. Most people seem to shush or to hiss. It doesn’t really matter. You could probably sing “La Cucaracha” and it would still work.

The point here is to create a Pavlovian connection between a sound and going to the bathroom. You’re sort of programming your child to go to the bathroom on command – which is going to help a lot with the next step.

Put your baby on the potty regularly.

Realistically, you’re not going to be able to spend twenty-fours of each day staring at your child’s face, watching for the slightest sign of a potty emergency – nor should you. You want to get your child into the habit of heading to the bathroom before the situation gets desperate – and so you’ll want to bring sit him or her on the potty once every hour or so.

This is one thing that we didn’t do well at the start. We’d picked up a few of these tricks from people in our community, but, as Western parents, we didn’t worry too much if he relieved himself in his diaper every now and then.

It really does, though, make all the difference. The daycare we sent him to made this a ritual. The whole class would head to the bathroom once every hour, and even sing a song to commemorate the occasion. Once our son had the habit, his visits to the bathroom stopped being races against the clock, and then we started seeing real results.

Make it work for your lifestyle.

If you follow these first five steps, you can potty-train a child in under two years without any problems – and it will work. Or, at least, it’ll work so long as you’re willing to never leave your home again.

If I’ve been painting too rosy a picture here, it’s because I’ve been saving the hard truths for now. This isn’t an easy process. It’s time-consuming – newborns typically have to pee 20 times each day, so you’ll be spending a lot of your time dangling your child over a toilet.

This method works for Chinese people because their lifestyles are different from ours. Most Chinese parents live with a set of grandparents, and so they have a set of extra hands constantly on watch to reduce the load.

You probably won’t have that luxury – but you can still make it work. Some experiments have been done starting children at six months old and still had great results.

For our family, we did this clumsily – we worked some of these steps in at birth, and didn’t learn about others until later. Even with our patchwork parenting, we still got some major advantages by incorporating these ideas into our potty-training regiment, and still had our child mostly trained by his second birthday.

Go outside and have fun.

Of course, when you go outside, this all gets a lot trickier.

For Chinese parents, going outside is easy. Their children wear pants with holes cut in the crotch and let it all hang out. When a child has to pee, the parents just dangle them over the nearest trash can and let them do it – and it works, because in China the sight of a half-naked baby peeing into a trash can is as normal as normal can be.

Western society is a bit different. If you try that here, you’ll get more than a few stares, and might get a few concerned phone calls as well. Until we have a major societal change, most parents probably won’t be willing to take a pair of scissors to their kids’ pants before heading outdoors.

Still, there are ways to make it work. In our case, we simply let our boy wear diapers outside when he was young – then, once he was two, just sent him out with underwear and pants and sent him to the bathroom every chance we could.

You might go further. You might not go as far. Perhaps all of this still seem a bit too odd for you to try – and if so, you’re not alone. Even in China, this is starting to change. As the country gets wealthier, a growing number of people are turning to diapers, buying into the belief that whatever comes from the West is best.

But the truth is, there are some things other cultures do better than we do – and there’s a lot of evidence that potty-training is one of them.

Do whatever works for you – but working a few Chinese ideas into your potty-training regimen just might make the process a whole lot easier.

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Did you hear that? That was the sound of Nordstrom and Maisonette making all your kid's summer wardrobe dreams come true.

Nordstrom partnered with Maisonette to create the perfect in-store pop-up shop from May 24th-June 23rd, featuring some of our favorite baby and kids brands, like Pehr, Zestt Organics, Lali and more. (Trust us, these items are going to take your Instagram feed to the next level of cuteness. 😍) Items range from $15 to $200, so there's something for every budget.

Pop-In@Nordstrom x Maisonette

Maisonette has long been a go-to for some of the best children's products from around the world, whether it's tastefully designed outfits, adorable accessories, or handmade toys we actually don't mind seeing sprawled across the living room rug. Now their whimsical, colorful aesthetic will be available at Nordstrom.

The pop-in shops will be featured in nine Nordstrom locations: Costa Mesa, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Bellevue, WA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; and Vancouver, BC.

Don't live nearby? Don't stress! Mamas all across the U.S. and Canada will be able to access the pop-in merchandise online at nordstrom.com/pop

But don't delay―these heirloom-quality pieces will only be available at Nordstrom during the pop-in's run, and then they'll be over faster than your spring break vacation. Happy shopping! 🛍

This article is sponsored by Nordstrom. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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For decades, doctors have prescribed progesterone, one of the key hormones your body needs during pregnancy, to prevent a miscarriage. The hormone, produced by the ovaries, is necessary to prepare the body for implantation. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces progesterone, which suppresses uterine contractions and early labor.

But a new study out of the UK finds that administering progesterone to women experiencing bleeding in their first trimester does not result in dramatically more successful births than a placebo. Yet, for a small group of mothers-to-be who had experienced "previous recurrent miscarriages," the numbers showed promise.

The study, conducted at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK, is the largest of its kind, involving 4,153 pregnant women who were experiencing bleeding in those risky (and nerve-wracking) early weeks. The women were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving 400 milligrams of progesterone via a vaginal suppository, and the other receiving a placebo of the same amount. Both groups were given the suppositories through their 16th week of pregnancy.

Of the group given progesterone, 75% went on to have a successful, full-term birth, compared to 72% for the placebo.

As the study notes, for most women, the administration of progesterone "did not result in a significantly higher incidence of live births than placebo." But for women who had experienced one or two previous miscarriages, the result was a 4% increase in the number of successful births. And for women who had experienced three or more recurrent miscarriages, the number jumped to a 15% increase.

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Dr. Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynecology at the University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said the implications for that group are "huge." "Our finding that women who are at risk of a miscarriage because of current pregnancy bleeding and a history of a previous miscarriage could benefit from progesterone treatment has huge implications for practice," he said.

It's estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And while even a spot of blood no doubt increases the fear in every expectant mother's mind, bleeding is actually a very common occurrence during pregnancy, Coomarasamy said. Still, first trimester bleeding is particularly risky, with a third of women who experience it going on to miscarry.

So for women who have been through it multiple times, Coomarasamy's findings are an important avenue to explore. "This treatment could save thousands of babies who may have otherwise been lost to a miscarriage," he added.

The study is among a number of recent groundbreaking discoveries made by doctors looking to further understand what causes miscarriages and what can be done to prevent them. While about 70% of miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities, doctors recently learned that certain genetic abnormalities, which exist in a small group of parents-to-be, could be discovered by testing the mother and father, as well as the embryo.

Doctors have also discovered that even knowing the sex of your baby could predict the complications a mother may face, thus helping medical professionals to assist in keeping the pregnancy viable.

But while there is no sweeping solution to stop miscarriages, for some couples, the use of progesterone does offer a glimmer of hope. "The results from this study are important for parents who have experienced miscarriage," Jane Brewin, chief executive of Tommy's said. "They now have a robust and effective treatment option which will save many lives and prevent much heartache."

Brewin added that studies like this one are imperative to our understanding of how the creation of life, which remains both a miracle and a mystery, truly works. "It gives us confidence to believe that further research will yield more treatments and ultimately make many more miscarriages preventable," she said.

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It's never easy to give up a career and launch a whole new one, but when I decided to end my time as an opera singer and move into the field of sales, I knew I could do it. After all, I had the perfect role model: my mom.

When I was growing up, she worked as a dental hygienist, but when I started college, she took some courses in sales. She was single with two kids in college, which was a driving force to make more money. But above that, she truly had a passion for sales. In no time, she got jobs and excelled at them, ultimately earning her the title of Vendor Representative of the Year at her electronics company.

When I entered the field of sales, an unusual and unexpected twist followed. Several years into my career, I was hired by a different electronics company. My mom and I ended up selling similar products to some of the same businesses. (Neither of our companies realized this, and we have different last names.)

But rather than feeling uncomfortable, I saw this as a great opportunity. She and I were both committed to doing our best. More often than not, she beat me when we went after the same piece of business. But in the process, I learned so much from her. I was able to see how her work ethic, commitment and style drove her success. I had even more to emulate.

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Here are some of the biggest business lessons I learned from my working mom:

1. Use your existing skill set to differentiate yourself.

As a dental hygienist, my mom knew how to talk to people and make them feel comfortable. She had also served as a youth leader at three different churches where my dad preached. In each town, she found at-risk kids, brought them together and developed programs for them. She had learned how to help people improve themselves and make their lives better.

In sales, she did the same thing, focusing on how the products or services she was selling could genuinely make a difference in the lives of her customers. Those skills translated seamlessly into her new career.

2. Start strong from day one—don't wait for permission to launch your full potential.

From day one at a job, my mom showed up with energy and vigor to get going. She didn't take time to be tentative. Instead, she leaned into her tasks—the equivalent of blasting out of the gate in a race. Having seen how well this worked for her, I strive to do the same.

3. Have empathy, it's essential.

Many women have been falsely accused of being "too emotional" in business. However, empathy is a necessity and drives better results. As a businesswoman, my mom set herself apart by demonstrating genuine empathy for her clients and her colleagues. She loves getting to know people's stories. That understanding is a key component in her finalizing deals and helping her company reach higher levels of success.

4. Learn often—you're never done building your skill set.

My mom is the reason I spend at least three months out of each year getting a new certification or learning a new skill. She's always working to improve, harness new technologies or develop new competencies—and she's passed on that eagerness to learn to me. She knows that to stay on top, you have to keep learning.

5. Bring on the charm.

By nature, I'm analytical. I like to present the numbers to clients, showing the data to help sway their decisions. And that has its place, but charm is universal. Being someone people want to do business with makes a huge difference. If I had a nickel for every time a prospect told me, "I love your mother," I could retire now! Business, especially sales, is about the connections you make as much as the value you bring.

Our paths have taken our careers in different directions, but along the way, I've done my best to incorporate all these skills. Thank you, mom, for teaching me all this, and much more.

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Every mom has her own list of character traits each of she hopes to instill in her children, but there is one that stands out as a big priority for the majority of millennial mothers.

Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey revealed that kindness is incredibly important to today's moms. It is the number one trait we want to cultivate in our children, and according to stats from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this emphasis on kindness couldn't come at a better time.

In recent years kids and parents have been straying from kindness, but these Ivy League experts have some great ideas about how today's moms can get the next generation back on track so they can become the caring adults of tomorrow.

Between 2013 and 2014, as part of Harvard's Making Caring Common project, researchers surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students across the nation. They found that no matter what race, class or culture the kids identified with, the majority of the students surveyed valued their own personal success and happiness way more than that of others.

Why do kids value their own success so much more than things like caring and fairness? Well, apparently, mom and dad told them to.

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Eighty percent of the 10,000 students said their parents taught them that their own happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for others. (So much for sharing is caring.)

The folks at Harvard say that valuing your own ambition is obviously a good thing (in moderation) in today's competitive world, but prioritizing it so much more than ethical values like kindness, caring and fairness makes kids more likely to be cruel, disrespectful and dishonest.

So how do we fix this? Here's Harvard's four-step plan for raising kinder kids.

1. Help them practice being nice

Giving kids daily opportunities to practice caring and kind acts helps make ethical behavior second nature. They could help you with chores, help a friend with homework or work on a project to help homelessness.

All those tasks would help a child flex their empathy muscles. The key is to increase the challenges over time so your child can develop a stronger capacity for caregiving as they grow.

2. Help them see multiple perspectives

The researchers want kids to “zoom in" and listen closely to the people around them, but also see the bigger picture. “By zooming out and taking multiple perspectives, including the perspectives of those who are too often invisible (such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn't speak their language, or the school custodian), young people expand their circle of concern and become able to consider the justice of their communities and society," the study's authors' wrote.

3. Model kindness

Our kids are watching, so if we want them to be kinder, it's something we should try to cultivate in ourselves. The Harvard team suggests parents make an effort to widen our circles of concern and deepen our understanding of issues of fairness and justice.

4. Teach kids to cope with destructive feelings

According to the researchers, the ability to care about others can be overwhelmed by a kid's feelings of anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. They suggest we teach our kids teach that while all feelings are okay to feel, some ways of dealing with them are not helpful, or kind (for example, “Hitting your classmate might make you happy, but it won't make them happy and isn't very kind. Counting to 10 and talking about why you're mad is more productive than hitting.")

While the folks at Harvard are concerned that so many kids are being taught to value their own happiness above all, they were also encouraged by the students who do prioritize caring and kindness. One of the students surveyed wrote, “People should always put others before themselves and focus on contributing something to the world that will improve life for future generations."

If we follow the advice of Harvard researchers, the world will see more kids that think like that, and that's what future generations need.

[A version of this post was originally published November 8, 2017. It has been updated.]

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These days more women are having babies into their 40s, but the idea that women are facing down the biological clock is pretty pervasive—once you're over 35, you automatically receive that "advanced maternal age" classification, while your male partner's age may never even be mentioned. The pressure on older moms is unfair, because according to new research from Rutgers University, men may face age-related fertility decline too and America's dads are getting older.

It's a new idea, but this finding actually takes 40 years worth of research into account—which, coincidentally, is around the age male fertility may start to decline. According to Rutgers researchers, the medical community hasn't quite pinpointed the onset of advanced age, but it hovers somewhere between ages 35 and 45.

The study which appears in the journal Maturitas, finds that a father's age may not just affect his fertility, but also the health of his partner and offspring.

Based on previously conducted research, the team behind this study found evidence that men over 45 could put their partners at greater risk for pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Babies born to older fathers also have an increased likelihood of premature birth, late stillbirth, low Apgar scores, low birthweight, newborn seizures and more. The risks appear to exist later in life, too: Research suggests children of older fathers have greater risk of childhood cancers, cognitive issues and autism.

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There's been plenty of studies surrounding advanced maternal age, but research on advanced paternal age is pretty slim—scientists don't quite understand how age correlates to these factors at this point. But researchers from Rutgers believe that age-related decline in testosterone and sperm quality degradation may be to blame. "Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose 'fitness' over the life cycle," Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, explains in a release for this news.

As we've previously reported, more and more men are waiting until later in life to have children. According to a 2017 Stanford study, children born to fathers over 40 represent 9% of U.S. births, and the average age of first-time fathers has climbed by three-and-a-half years over the past four decades —so this research matters now more than ever, and it may represent the first step towards setting certain standards in place for men who choose to delay parenthood.

The biggest thing to come out of this research may be the need for more awareness surrounding advanced paternal age. This particular study's authors believe doctors should be starting to have conversations with their male patients, possibly even encouraging them to consider banking sperm if they're considering parenthood later in life.

Women certainly tend to be aware of the age-related risks to their fertility, and many regularly hear that they should freeze their eggs if they're not ready for motherhood. And while it's still too early to say whether we'll ever examine paternal age this closely, this research may set a whole new conversation in motion.

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