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I’ve Got That Allergic Kid but I Think It’s Going to Be Okay

When some people find out that my son is allergic to nuts – all nuts – they cringe and shake their heads, desperate to separate their experience from my own, to find the flaw in me or my particular journey that caused this terrible predicament. They ask me if I ate nuts when I was pregnant and nursing as a way of building immunity, because, of course, I am and will forever be the source of all my son’s impediments. I want to say, “Yes, I did. I ate nuts, all the nuts. I bathed in nuts, too, and after every shower I slathered crunchy almond butter all over my body. I did all the things you’re supposed to do.”

I don’t say that, though, because I didn’t do that thing with the almond butter. But otherwise, yeah, I consumed nuts regularly, as suggested by the latest research on allergies and yeah, it didn’t work.

So here I am with a three-year-old who, as luck would have it, is picky enough not to chomp blindly into random foods with abandon. He scans a table covered in platters and asks family friends if the food they’re serving has nuts in it. As soon as he’s confirmed a definitive presence of something nutty, he quickly turns his nose up at it, as though he never thought it looked edible in the first place. We sometimes page through cookbooks together and he notes, with furrowed brow, the walnuts in the broccoli salad and the hazelnuts framing the chocolate cake. “THAT,” he taps the page with one tiny accusatory finger, “has nuts. I can’t have that!”

It sucks, what’s off limits to him, and yet, I can see how it gives him confidence, makes him ask questions, defines him a little bit, and makes him (the way obstacles do for all children) interesting.

Gillian Fein, creator of LaLa Lunchbox, recently posted a series of allergen-free lunch ideas and has written candidly in the past about her experience growing up with allergies. I love what she says about how her allergies and other people’s reactions to her allergies shaped her as a person. I mean, what other choice does an allergic kid have but to be empowered by her limits?

In the scheme of challenges, my son’s is a minor one. His reaction to only a few nuts is anaphylactic. We live in a time and place when foods are pretty clearly labeled, where schools are conscientious about foods coming in, and where there are substitutions at the store (sunbutter!) or in recipes I overturn online for nearly everything (nut-free pesto!). He’ll probably spend his life missing out on some of my favorite foods, like chocolate peanut butter ice cream, baklava, banana nut everything, or all those really trendy and delicious kale salads with almonds in them. This is sad for approximately ten seconds upon comparison to children who struggle to hear, see, walk, talk, or swallow.

The trickiest part so far about allergies, aligned with the fear that my son could eat something when he’s not with me that might threaten his life, is that it exposes how little control I have over, well, everything. As careful as I am, my son will spend more and more time away from me in a delightful and terrifying world filled with nuts of every stripe. As careful as I was during pregnancy, as many nuts as I consumed, things did not go according to plan. So why should they continue to do so in life?

There’s lots we can do. In my case, I tell my son what he’s allergic to, remind him of that stupid afternoon when he got hives and vomited in a café garden, and tell him what he can try to do to not have that happen again. But the rest of it (the unknown, the future) is out of our control as parents and humans. Maybe it isn’t our job to believe we can prevent every danger and obstacle. Maybe it isn’t our job to judge the other parents (ourselves included) who haven’t prevented all the dangers. Maybe all we can do is stock up on absurdly expensive EpiPens, hope our kids know a cashew when they see one, and have faith that things might just be okay.

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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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