A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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If you read enough about modern parenting, you’re bound to find someone complaining that “parenting” is a verb.

Many writers have offered reasons for this shift. “Parenting” implies a product carried to its completion, so the verb reflects modern attitudes toward raising children. As a verb, “parenting” gives its subject sufficient cultural freight to warrant shelves of self-help books.

Anthony Gardner of the Atlantic offers a much different answer. “To parent” is just one of countless denominalizations happening in our language, when a word formerly used as a noun starts being used as a verb. These “verbings,” like text, bookmark, and friend are useful linguistic shortcuts. It’s now “I texted her the address,” not “I sent her an electronic message with the address.”

The verb “parenting” offers a huge shortcut. “To parent” implies a lifetime of activity. It’s a shortened way of saying “provide a nurturing, safe environment in which a child is appropriately challenged and supported, so that the child will grow into a thoughtful, productive, socially-conscious adult who will leave a lasting impact on the world.”

Even that meandering definition doesn’t quite capture the verb “to parent.” One consequence of viewing parenting as a verb is the concept of parenting style. Many parenting styles leave parents feeling like they’re not parenting well enough. Read on for four ways your parenting style might be failing you, as well as advice on how to re-style your parenting.


1 | Metaphorical parenting styles negatively define other parents

A person’s “parenting style” is often a metaphor assigned by other people. Helicopter parents are involved in every small detail of their children’s lives. Snowplow parents remove every physical and metaphorical obstacle from their children’s paths. Jellyfish parents just go with the flow, giving into their children’s every desire.

One problem with describing parenting in these oppositional terms is that any person who doesn’t parent like us is defined as a bad parent. They are helicopters or tigers or snowplows or jellyfish, but we are dolphins.

Defining ourselves in terms of what other parents are doing poorly is not a particularly robust or fulfilling parenting strategy, which may help explain the recent rise of branded parenting styles.

2 | Branded parenting styles don’t deliver on their promises

One of the delights about modern parenting is that there is a manual for everything. Want to get your kid to stay in her bed? There’s a book for that. Want to stop tantrums? There’s a book for that. Want to potty-train your child in three days? There are dozens of books for that (but we’re skeptical about their effectiveness).

This wave of parenting books has also brought with it branded parenting styles, like Attachment Parenting, Free-Range Parenting, and Positive Discipline. These brands were formed by individuals or groups who often sell books, courses, and other materials to help parents master a style.

Many of these branded styles appeal to scientific authority, but they often fail to deliver on their promises. Wendy Zuckerman of Science Vs. devotes an episode to studying the science behind Attachment Parenting. She interviews Alan Sroufe of the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, who separates the branded parenting style of “Attachment Parenting” from the science of attachment.

Scientists who study child development use the term “secure attachment” to describe a relationship between a child and a caregiver. In that relationship, Sroufe says, “the child is confident about the availability and responsiveness of this particular adult.”

Sroufe describes a procedure for measuring secure attachment called the “strange situation procedure.” A parent and baby are observed in a room. A stranger enters. The parent leaves. The stranger stays. After a while, the parent comes back and the stranger leaves. The researchers then watch the child’s reaction to the parent’s return. A “securely attached” child will be happy about her parent’s return. An “insecurely attached” child will be upset or indifferent.

Sroufe says secure attachment yields kids who are more confident problem-solvers, while insecure attachment leads to lower self-esteem and poor relationships. However, it’s not clear that the rules of Attachment Parenting (breastfeed on demand, don’t leave babies to cry, sleep in the same bed, keep the baby close at all times) are any more likely to create that “secure attachment” than any other style of parenting. There may be many benefits to Attachment Parenting, but “secure attachment” isn’t exclusive to this parenting style.

3 | Branded styles obscure similarities

A slew of review articles published in 2017 show that parenting “styles” are not as important to child development as their component parts. One meta-analysis of 1,435 studies draws a connection between “parenting dimensions” (like parental warmth or harsh control) and “externalizing problems” (like aggression) in children and adolescents.

The meta-analysis found that some parenting dimensions, like psychological control and neglect, led to externalizing problems in children. Other behaviors, like parental warmth, behavioral control, and autonomy-granting, led to few or no externalizing problems.

Many of the branded parenting styles highlight one parenting dimension more than the others, but nearly all of the styles include the parenting dimensions associated with few externalizing problems. Attachment Parenting exudes warmth, but so do many other styles. Positive Discipline centers on behavioral control, but it does not own this dimension of parenting. Free-Range Parenting thrives on autonomy-granting, but it is not the only philosophy that does so.

The current scientific consensus appears to be that authoritative parenting, a sort of middle ground between “permissive” and “authoritarian,” has the best outcomes, including higher academic achievement, more prosocial behaviors, and even possibly lower obesity rates. The good news, it seems, is that most branded parenting styles emphasize the parenting dimensions that lead to these outcomes.

4 | Branded parenting styles obscure alternatives

The bad news is that the branded approaches often make alternative strategies invisible. Many branded parenting styles are named to resist challenge and obscure alternatives. You wouldn’t want to be an unattached parent, or a mindless parent, or use negative discipline.

There are plenty of alternatives to positive discipline that are not “negative,” including, for example, choosing the metaphor of teaching over discipline. But these alternatives are not so easy to see when the name of a parenting style presents parenting as a binary between one “good” and one “bad” choice.

This seeming lack of alternatives can set up parents for failure. If you aren’t able to nurse your baby, you may feel that you are failing at Attachment Parenting. If you can’t find time to sit and “be” each day, you may feel that you are failing at Mindful Parenting. If you lash out angrily at your child, you may feel that you are failing at Positive Discipline. In reality, you’re not failing at all: you’re just wearing an ill-fitting parenting style.

Making alterations

The problem of parenting styles isn’t that any particular style is good or bad, right or wrong, it’s that in our adherence to them we forget that style is massively subjective. We alter fashion styles all the time, whether it be emptying our closet in the latest fad-clearing or taking thrift store finds to new heights. We need to approach parenting styles in the same way, with an arsenal of verbs that allows us to lengthen here, shorten there, take in, let out, darn, darn, and vent.

Here are five questions to help you make alterations of the next parenting style you encounter.

  • How does this parenting style describe other parents? A hostile and superior tone doesn’t look good on anyone.
  • How do you think the creator of this style would define the “good life”? Does that “good life” match your vision? If not, put this style back on the rack.
  • Do a quick Google Scholar search on the core principle underlying the parenting style. Is there strong evidence that the style will deliver on its promises? Even if so, is there strong evidence that this style is the only one that will yield your desired result?
  • How does this parenting style address alternatives? If the book claims there’s only one right way to parent, its author should be more famous than Oprah.
  • Does this parenting style leave room for you to grow, or does it place unreasonable or unattainable demands on you?

The world we live in is filled with information and opinions. It can be confusing, even hectic. While perusing the many, many parenting styles and looking for a fit, remember that if you have your child’s best interests in mind, you’re doing just fine.

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.

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

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Summertime is here, mamas! And while we couldn't be more thrilled about beach outings and pool days, both of those activities require one major thing—getting into a bathing suit. No easy feat when you're not pregnant (FYI: we tested many and these are our favorite five), but it's even tougher when you are prego and your body is changing daily.

To help, we've rounded up 15 super-cute maternity bathing suit options for you. From sweet one-pieces (like Old Navy's watermelon-pattered cutie that has matching options for dads, toddlers and girls!) to color-blocked bikinis that will ensure your bump gets nice and tan, we've got something to fit every mama's personal style and body. Because we want you to love your pregnant body and celebrate it—you know the saying: Suns out… bumps out!

The best part? They start at just $22! Happy shopping, mamas.

Motherhood Maternity ruffle front one-shoulder swimsuit with UPF 50+

Motherhood Maternity One-Shoulder Swim

Super flattering with a ruffle and in navy polka dots, this suit will be your go-to all summer long.

Price: $39.98


Hatch Antigua maillot

Hatch Antigua

Did we mention we love ruffles? This beauty from Hatch is sweet as can be, and while it's on the pricier side, the quality is there and it will last you multiple pregnancies.

Price: $218


ASOS Design maternity recycled glam high-neck swimsuit

Asos maternity high neck swim

Who says you need to be in a boring black bathing suit all summer? Let's embrace color (and some sexy drama!) with this high-neck suit that will have everyone asking where on Earth you found such a fun maternity look.

Price: Sale $33.50 (Regularly $48.00)


Motherhood Maternity 'Beach Bump' maternity one-piece swimsuit with UPF 50+

Beach Bump Swim

This suit is anything but plain with it's adorable "beach bump" sign.

Price: $39.98


H&M Mama swimsuit

H&M Mama Swim

Spice up your pool days with this super fun pattern that is also super flattering—after all, it's hard to spot flaws with all that leopard going on. The wrapped top, low-cut back and ruched siding all add to why we love this one so much.

Price: $29.99


Hatch color-block bikini frutto

Hatch Colorblock Bikini

Show off the bump in this color-blocked bikini that looks like something straight out of the 1950s.

Price: $208.00


H&M Mama swimsuit with ruffles

H&M Mama Swim

Bohemian perfection, this suit is perfectly on-trend for the season.

Price: Sale $24.99 (Regularly $34.99)


A Pea in a Pod rib knit striped maternity one-piece swimsuit

A Pea in a Pod Striped Swim

Preppy but also a little bit sexy thanks to the cleavage-baring peephole, this suit screams "summer" in the best way possible.

Price: $98.00


Summersalt Maternity ribbed voyager bikini top + bottom

Summersalt Maternity Ribbed Voyager Bikini

Summersalt is one of our favorite swimwear brands and they just released maternity options! Giving their ubiquitous high-waisted bikini bottoms the prego treatment, this is one suit that will grow with you from first to third trimester.

Bikini top price: $50.00


Bikini bottom price: $45.00


Pez D’or stripe one-piece maternity swimsuit for Nordstrom

Pez D'or Stripe Swim

Love you some stripes? Then you can't go wrong with this halter-neck option that is flattering and cute all at once.

Price: $98.00


Old Navy Maternity halter v-neck swimsuit with UPF 40

Old Navy Maternity Halter V-Neck Swimsuit

We're obsessed with this suite for two reasons: One, that crazy cute watermelon pattern! Two, the halter cut with tiny peephole is perfection and there's lots of support thanks to an extra strap at mid-back.

Price: Sale $22.50 (Regularly $44.99)


Gap Maternity tie-back print one-piece suit

Gap Maternity Tie-Back Print One-Piece Suit

This one-piece is as pretty as can be with it's tiny floral print! We love that the straps criss-cross in the back and that the sweetheart neckline drawcord is adjustable.

Price: Sale $58.99 (Regularly $69.99)


Pink Blush ruffle trim ruched one-piece maternity swimsuit

Pink Blush Light Blue Ruffle Trim Ruched One-Piece Maternity Swimsuit

Oversized ruffle? Check. Removable straps? Check. Ruched siding? Check. Adorable baby blue hue? Check.

Price: $46.00


Jojo Maman Bebe flamingo halterneck maternity tankini

Jojo Maman Bebe Flamingo Halterneck Maternity Tankini

Tankinis for the win! Perfect for pulling up when you want the bump to get some sun, but tugging down when you don't want to show some skin.

Price: $59.00


PregO Maternity Wear roll waist dot bikini set

PregO Maternity Wear Women's Maternity Roll Waist Dot Bikini Set

We love how sporty chic this suit is and that you can wear it after pregnancy, too.

Price: $68.00-$72.00


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Babies love it when their mamas sing to them, and Carrie Underwood's son is no exception. But does he love his dad's singing? Not so much.

If your mom has a voice like Carrie Underwood's, chances are your lullaby standards are a bit higher than most. And, if a recent video from the singer is any indication, even Dad's singing may not quite make the grade.

The country singer shared a cute video clip of her son, Jacob, reacting as her husband, Mike Fisher, sings him a song. Let's just say the little guy isn't having it: Jacob cries throughout his father's mini-performance...That is until Mama steps in to sing the same song.

The clip shows little Jacob calm immediately when he hears his mom's voice (relatable, right?). Mike takes that opportunity to step back in and resume his vocals...but Jacob begins to cry again. "Everyone's a critic," Carrie captions the adorable video.

But don't take this to mean you have to be a recording artist in order to sing to your children! Even the most tone-deaf among us can (and should!) sing to our babies—not just because it's fun, but also because singing to your babe comes with some pretty awesome benefits. The act may even improve your baby's attention span and increase positive their reactions towards you, as we've previously reported.


While Carrie and Mike opt to belt out the song "I Still Believe" by singer Vince Gill, you don't have to get too fancy. Singing a good old-fashioned lullaby to your kids is a great idea (they work for a pretty good reason). We are fairly certain that most babies out there love the sound of their mama's voice more than just about any sound (with the possible exception of the "Baby Shark" video), so keep up the family singing sessions even if you don't have a hit song on the charts.

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I am generally not considered a sentimental person, and I do not keep a lot of junk. When I moved to college, everything that wasn't part of my closet fit into a single trunk. By the time I got married, I had shrunk those keepsakes down to a single box. When I got pregnant, the box had shrunk down to a tiny container I shoved under my bed.

Then we had kids.

The sheer amount of stuff we received from well-wishers was overwhelming. I figured that we needed most of it—babies are high maintenance, right?—and took comfort in the fact that when our child got bigger, we could ditch the bassinet and the bottles and shrink down our lives again.

I could not have been more wrong. The stuff continued to pour in, and it became impossible to throw anything out. Some of it was useful and consumable, like diapers, and some of it was thoughtful and small, like a special stuffed animal, but most of it was simply too much…like the 1,398 toys that began a procession through our lives over the next three years.

It was nobody's fault. My children have four grandparents, two great-grandparents, and five aunts and uncles within a 20-mile radius. Many of them express their love through purchases. Constant purchases. For Christmas, birthdays, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, your regular Saturday. There was bound to be a build-up.


The problem was that my children received so many presents the gift-giving itself began to lose meaning. Every time a family member came by the house, my 3-year-old expected a treat.

The amount of stuff piling up in our house started to grate on me, but I didn't know what to do. My oldest child has the memory of an elephant: the other day he cried because he couldn't find a specific drawing that he made in preschool 12 months ago. And my family was constantly checking up on their gifts: "Where's the special bear I gave you, little guy? Do you play with it a lot?" I didn't want to offend anyone.

Then I had an evening that changed my life as a mom. We went to a friend's house for dinner; they had young kids too, about a year or so ahead of us. We walked in and I was shocked at how completely their house had been taken over by their kids' belongings. You couldn't see the living room floor because there were toys everywhere—not in use but stacked up to the ceiling. They apologized for the mess, and it didn't seem to bother them, but I was panicking on the inside.

Was this what was in store for me as a parent? Were my children going to accumulate so much that I wouldn't be able to find my own life under all the mess?

We went home that night and put the kids to bed. And I ransacked. Three years of accumulated playthings, old "special" clothes, and my concerns and ideas about disappointing our relatives, were all ruthlessly sorted through.

If I was going to be a good mom, it would have to be on my terms, and my terms included the right to dispose of accumulation. It included the right to gently but firmly inform relatives that we may not have room for the stuffed bear as big as a house as a Christmas present this year, could there be a special place at their house to keep it? It included the right to shape my family's values, even when they clash a little with those closest to us.

I love our extended family very much, and I am glad they shower my children with affection, including gifts. But every mom has her own way of keeping her sanity, right? And for me, the key to a happy household now includes the occasional purge, when the kids are looking away, and knowing inside that your family will love you anyway.

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If you buy Parent's Choice baby formula at Walmart you need to check to see if your product is being recalled.

The manufacturer of Walmart's Parent's Choice Advantage Infant Formula Milk-Based Powder with Iron, Perrigo Company, is recalling the product because it may be contained with metal. There are no reports of babies experiencing adverse effects, but the company says it is proceeding with the recall out of an "abundance of caution stemming from a consumer report."

If you buy this formula look on the bottom of the tub to check the lot code and use by date. If it is lot Code C26EVFV with a "use by" date of February 26, 2021, it is part of the recall. Don't use it and take it back to Walmart for a refund.

These tubs retail for just under $20.

The FDA suggests "consumers with any health-related questions should contact their healthcare provider", and you can also call Perrigo Consumer Affairs at 866-629-6181.

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