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Motherly @ Work features the stories and insights of modern women growing their careers—and their families.


Less than two years since it’s inception, Bébé De Luxe has already quadrupled their sales year over year, and delighted customers and influencers alike. Bébé De Luxe has been featured in Vogue, by Jillian Harris of Bachelorette fame, and on countless other family and lifestyle blogs.

Amanda Toth is the powerhouse behind the brand. She’s like a superhero really: By day she works full-time as a paralegal at a high powered firm in downtown Vancouver. In the evenings she’s a loving mother to her two year old son, Rian. And then when the rest of the city goes to sleep, she puts on her cape and runs Bébé De Luxe - a line of luxurious bath and body products for babies and adults.

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As you might imagine, the road to balance and success is paved with potholes. With so much going on, how does Amanda balance it all? And what happens when a copycat throws a wrench into her best laid plans?

What motivated you to start your own company, and this one in particular?

Amanda Toth: My son Rian has very sensitive skin and would often get red and patchy eczema symptoms, which would worsen after a bath with conventional baby washes.

I happened to go shopping with a couple of mama friends and our littles to a “fancy” baby store one day and saw a milk and oatmeal bath. That lightbulb moment of “I can make this” came on for me and I started researching right away.

I loved the idea of using coconut milk rather than cow’s milk since it is the fat content in the milk that makes your skin so soft, I figured I could get more benefits with the fattier coconut milk. Plus it has natural antibacterial, anti fungal and antimicrobial properties, it just seemed like the perfect base for a gentle, organic baby wash.

It was kismet actually because we later learned my son had a pretty harsh sensitivity to cows milk, including burn-like reactions topically. Had we made the original formula with cows milk, we wouldn’t be here today! I can’t say that I’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur but once I started, things just kept falling into place nearly effortlessly.

What makes your product unique?

Amanda Toth: I know most companies, especially small businesses, believe wholeheartedly in the products they make and I am the same. We use our signature Coconut & Oat Milk Bath blend for Rian’s bath daily, washing head to toe (including his hair) for nearly two years now. It is intended to be used as a replacement for conventional soap, some people feel weird about not lathering up with bubbles but my wildling child doesn’t stink so I’m pretty sure it works!

All silliness aside, our formula is especially great for babes and littles as the natural antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties of the coconut milk cleanse the skin while helping to soothe all sorts of irritations, diaper rashes (which are often fungal) and won’t strip the skin of their natural oils.

Because the formula contains no soap and no harsh chemicals, even when your little one has eczema or a severe diaper rash, it won’t sting like a soap or body wash would. We have had excellent feedback from customers using our signature coconut and oat milk bath for eczema, rashes, sunburn, and made into a paste it also helps to exfoliate cradle cap and can be used as either a face mask or facial scrub for mama.

How do you communicate that to customers?

Amanda Toth: The natural beauty industry is a growing trend that is beginning to really resonate with consumers. Recently a couple of trusted brands in the baby care business were discovered to have been less than honest and/or selling products which had known cancer promoting chemicals in their formulas. People are looking for natural products that they can trust, especially for their children. In nearly every social media post, article or marketing material we focus on the fact that our formula is simple, no-nasties, organic and made with food-grade ingredients.

How do you deal with copycats, or legitimate competitors?

Amanda Toth: I’m going to be honest here and hope that others can learn from my experience. The first copycat really stung and I called them out for it. It was a true copycat in that this person targeted me specifically and not only recreated my formula but the aesthetic of the brand I worked so hard to create.

Bébé de Luxe is my second child and I felt protective like a mother bear.

It was a great lesson to learn in my first year of business and I am grateful that I had those growing pains so early on to get them out of the way. I am now more confident that my own branding, formulas and passion shine through every aspect of Bébé de Luxe and allow all of these things to speak for themselves. The old adage is true, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While it may not ring true in the moment, know that if you have an imitator, you are a trailblazer and have created a product that inspires recreation. That is a beautiful thing.

How can you tell the difference between a copycat and a competitor?

Amanda Toth: To me a copycat is someone who maliciously imitates your brand. A competitor is a fellow entrepreneur who has created a quality product that I am proud to have Bébé de Luxe next to on a shelf.

A few of my favourite competitors that I have mad respect for are - Herbivore Botanicals, Tubby Todd, K’Pure Naturals and Haven Living. These are all brands I recognize for their aesthetic, natural formula and ethics and I use products from each line personally.

Collaboration over competition is the key to success in a market saturated with start-ups and I am proud to work alongside some of the most collaborative and welcoming women.

Why do you think really understanding what makes your brand unique is important?

Amanda Toth: I think today businesses are a dime a dozen and new products and brands pop up on the daily. It’s imperative that you create a unique product or brand to stand out from the crowd.

Knowledge is power and understanding what makes your brand unique equates to power.

Our customers truly identify with the struggles we have had with my son’s skin and find comfort in knowing that our products are natural, organic and food-grade. Especially with handmade and local consumers, having an identifiable connection to the brand or product really hits home. Let’s face it, shopping handmade and local costs more than buying mass produced products at a big box store, people are recognizing the value in higher quality products and shopping locally but your product has to connect with them in some way before they will spend their hard earned money.

What’s more important: being passionate about your company OR making real money?

Amanda Toth: I believe passion is key and that the “real” money cannot be acquired or attained without it. There has to be something driving you to hustle harder than your competition when you feel like you’d rather get some shut eye or hang out with your friends. Sacrifices are a very real part of growing and grooming a business, you have to love what you’re doing or you’ll flounder.

Do you struggle balancing being an entrepreneur and a mother?

Amanda Toth: Of course. Women wear so many hats in society. Not only am I an entrepreneur and a mother, I am a wife, a full-time career-driven women (a career separate from my business that I have busted my butt at for 13 years and I am not ready to let go of). I am a sister, daughter, friend and so many other things.

It is the sum of all of these things that make me unique but also causes me to struggle at times in any one or more of these arenas. One of my biggest struggles is finding patience and stepping back to allow the little moments to unfold rather than micromanaging every aspect of a day. Being a busy mom, entrepreneur and also working full-time, I have a lot to squeeze into 24 hour but toddlers go at their own pace. I need to allow myself to enjoy the process rather than get frustrated that we aren’t keeping my usual pace. It’s a blessing really, as my usual pace isn’t sustainable so being a mom to Rian often forces me to slow down.

What makes you unique as a mother?

Amanda Toth: I don’t know that I am unique as a mother. I’m just an average 33 year old who doesn’t really feel like I know what I’m doing half the time.

I’m a big fan of winging it - motherhood, business and life.

While I have a ton of Type A traits, mostly enjoying the feeling of being in control, becoming a mom and an entrepreneur has shaken things up for me and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not really in control, ever.

I think being a mother has made me realize that it is a universal thing. Across any age, race, religion or economic status we all love our children above all else and none of us are experts. It has really opened me up to connection in a way that I have never been open to before. Insecurities always made me a bit of an introvert but now those same insecurities cause me to seek advice and commiserate with other mothers.

There is power, strength and magic in acknowledging that we don’t really know what we’re doing.

How does being a mother affect the way you run your business?

Amanda Toth: I would say that being a mother makes running a business more difficult but I don’t have any idea of what it’s like to run a business without being a mother.

And if I weren’t a mother, I wouldn’t have a business.

So to me, being a mother and running a business go hand in hand. Because my business is primarily marketed as a baby care company, I think it gives me the perspective of wanting the best for my child which translates into how we market and connect with our customers.

Is there any one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring lady bosses?

Amanda Toth: Find your passion. Don’t start a business thinking you are going to make it rich. It takes true grit and determination to make even the best products into a successful business.

It also takes so much more money, time and effort than you can ever imagine. Patience is paramount, even the little things will take longer than you expect but getting it right is worth it.

Everyone imagines that being their own boss is this wonderful thing but there is something to be said for the security of a steady paycheck and being able to leave your work at the door when you clock out. Knowing your family is housed and fed by doing your 8 hours at the office is actually pretty amazing.

That’s is one of the reasons I’m not yet ready to let go of my career. I am a Taurus which means I need to feel stable and secure. Having a job with steady pay, benefits and a pension plan gives me those things without the stress of having to push more online sales or attend more markets.

What does the word “motherly” mean to you?

Amanda Toth: I think we all have an ideal definition, and it’s not always achievable. We read books and blogs, research and ask questions all before babe even arrives. Most of the things we think we know about being a parent go right out the window as soon as that baby is put into your arms.

At the core of being a good mother, we should be loving and patient above all else not just with our children but with ourselves too. We are hardest on ourselves, but if we were to ask our children what being a good mother means they would likely give us a simple definition of love, kindness and patience. We all need to be reminded of that. 

Being a good mother doesn’t mean only the best organic meals, having the smartest kid dressed in the best clothes. I think it is time we get back to basics with our children, who often learn more from our example than from our teachings. Slowing down and showing them we are patient, demonstrating true kindness and unconditional love will give them a good foundation to grow into a good human being.

Get your own, no-nasties Bébé de Luxe here!

Haley Campbell is the founder of Beluga Baby and creator of the ultimate bamboo baby carrier. She is a regular contributor to Motherly and is an avid advocate for entrepreneurs, and for the new generation of mothers making the world their own.

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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.


While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.

$69.95

Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).

$79.95

Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.

$135.00

Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!

$79.95

Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.

$69.95

Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!

$50.00

Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.

$29.95

Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!

$9.95

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.

$79.95

Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.

$59.95

Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.

$98.00

Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.

$39.95

Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!

$165.00

Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.

$59.95

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

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There's a lot of discussion about the importance of early education—but what about soft skills like respect and kindness? How can mamas teach children important values like cooperation, gratitude, empathy or politeness?

These values are basic, foundational beliefs that help us know right from wrong, that give balance and meaning to life and that enable us to form community bonds with one another. These soft skills are crucial for kids to learn at any age, and it's important for them to be reinforced, both in the classroom and at home, throughout their childhood.

Here are fundamental ways to build character in your young children:

Kindness

Performing random acts of kindness can have a positive influence on both the individual showing and receiving the kindness. As a family, think of ways that each one of you can show kindness to others. Some ideas may include baking cookies for the mail carrier, donating an unopened toy to a local charity, purchasing canned goods for a homeless shelter or leaving notes and drawings for the neighbors. Include your child in the process so they can see firsthand the joy that kindness can bring to others.

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Responsibility

Children have a strong desire to mimic adult family members. Encourage your child to help complete simple chores in and around the house. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they can do their share and feel that sense of responsibility. Two-year-olds will enjoy folding towels, putting books away, putting paper in the recycling box and tending to the garden. Older children may enjoy helping out in the kitchen or with yard work.

Patience

Patience is the ability to demonstrate self-control while waiting for an event to occur. It also refers to the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration. This is a skill which develops in children as they mature. While it is important to practice patience, adults should also be realistic in their expectations, evaluate daily routines and eliminate long periods of wait time from the schedule.

Politeness

Schedule a time when the whole family can sit down together for dinner. Model good manners and encourage older siblings and other members of the family to do the same. Use phrases such as, "Can you please pass the potatoes?" or "Thank you." Be sure to provide your child with guidance, by explaining what to do as opposed to what not to do.

Flexibility

Change your routines at home to encourage children to be flexible in their thinking and to try new things. Try being flexible in the small things: enjoy breakfast for dinner, eat ice cream with a fork, have your child read a bedtime story to you or have a picnic in the living room. Let your child know it is okay to do things in a different way.

Empathy

Children are beginning to understand different emotions and that others have feelings. Throughout their childhood, talk about their feelings and share one's own feeling with them as well. By taking the time to listen to how children are feeling, you will demonstrate to them that you care and reinforce with them that you fully understand how they are feeling.

Cooperation

Coordinate playdates or take your children to events where they can practice introducing themselves to other children, and potentially with adults. Find games and other activities that require turn-taking and sharing.

Gratitude

Encourage your child to spend five minutes every day listing the things they are grateful for. This could be done together just before bedtime or after dinner.

Respect

As parents, our goal is to teach children to recognize that even though people have different likes and dislikes or beliefs and ideas, they must treat each other with manners and positivity. Respect should be shown when sharing, cleaning up, and listening to others. Always teach and model the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Also remind children that respect can be shown towards things in the classroom. Treating materials and toys correctly shows appreciation for the things we have.
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Medical researchers and providers consider a woman's postpartum period to be up to 12 months after the delivery of baby, but too often, health insurance doesn't see it the same way. Nearly half of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and while the babies who are born during these births are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for a year, their mothers often lose their coverage 60 days after delivering their child. There is clear data showing 70% of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.

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This week, members of Congress' Subcommittee on Health met to mark up H.R. 4996, the "Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019, and it was favorably forwarded to the full Committee.

What does this mean? It means that while this bill still has a ways to go before it potentially becomes law, its success would see states get the option to provide 12 months of continuous coverage postpartum coverage to mothers on Medicaid. This would save lives.

As we at Motherly have said many times, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to heal from birth. A mother may not be healed 60 days out from delivering. She may still require medical care for perinatal mood disorders, breast issues like thrush and mastitis, diabetes, and the consequences of traumatic births, like severe vaginal tearing.

Cutting off Medicaid when her baby is only 2 months old makes mom and baby vulnerable, and the Helping Moms Act could protect families from dire consequences.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and according to the CDC, "about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." This is not okay, and while H.R. 4996 is not yet signed into law this bill could help change this. It could help address the racial disparities that see so many Black mothers and Native American mothers dying from preventable causes in the first year of motherhood.

A report from nine American maternal mortality review committees found that there were three leading causes of death that occurred between 43 days and one year postpartum: cardiomyopathy (32.4%), mental health conditions (16.2%), and embolism (10.8%) and multiple state maternal mortality review committees have recommended extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum in order to prevent these deaths.

Basically, making sure that moms have have continuous access to health care the year after a birth means doctors can spot issues with things like depression, heart disease and high blood pressure at regular check-ups and treat these conditions before they become fatal.

The Helping Moms Act is a step forward in the fight for maternal health and it proves that maternal health is truly a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value in providing support for mothers during the postpartum period.

The Helping MOMS Act was was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. It was co-lead by Texas Republican Michael Burgess (who is also a medical doctor), as well as Georgia Republican Buddy Carter, Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ayanna Pressley from Massachusettes and Lauren Underwood of Illinois (both Democrats).

"Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I'm proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families," said Kelly. "We can't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many."

It doesn't matter what your political stripes, reducing America's maternal mortality stats should be a priority.

News

Whether you're having a low-key Friendsgiving with your closest friends or prepping to host your first big Thanksgiving dinner with both families, figuring out all of the menu details can be the most overwhelming step. How much should I cook? What ingredients do I need? How does one actually cook a turkey this big?

But, don't worry, mama—HelloFresh is lending a helping hand this year with their Thanksgiving box in collaboration with Jessica Alba. Because you already have enough on your plate (and we're not talking stuffing).


Here are the details. You can choose from two Thanksgiving boxes: Turkey ($152) or beef tenderloin ($132). The turkey box serves 8-10 people while the beef one will serve 4-6 and both are $6.99 to ship. We got to try both and they're equally delicious so you can't go wrong with either one, but the turkey does require a 4-day thaw period so keep that in mind. And if you're wondering what the sides are, here's a sneak peek:

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  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole with crispy onions
  • Ciabatta stuffing with chick sausage and cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce with orange, ginger and cinnamon
  • Apple ginger crisp with cinnamon pecan crumble

While someone still has to do the actual cooking, it's designed to take the stress out of Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones (or watching Hallmark Christmas movies). You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, portion sizes, recipe curation or forgetting that essential thing you needed to make the meal perfect. Everything is super simple to make from start to finish—it even comes with a cooking timeline.

Orders are open through November 21 and can be delivered anytime through November 24. Even better? You don't need a subscription to order.


ORDER A BOX

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My mother's death propelled me to start the process of becoming a parent as a 43-year-old single woman. As my connection to her remained strong in spirit after her death, I was ready to experience the same bond with my own child. I began the journey with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), and after three failed attempts at getting pregnant, I decided to adopt.

The adoption process is a lengthy and humbling one—one that includes fingerprints, background checks, references, classes, doing a profile of yourself and your life that birth parents eventually use to choose adoptive families.

After my application was approved, a young couple chose me just a month later. I couldn't believe my fortune. But I had to get to work and prepare the house for my baby's arrival. I bought the best of everything—bassinets, clothes, diapers, car seats… the list goes on. I told close friends and family that it was finally happening.

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But all of this was in vain. The day I was supposed to pick my daughter up, I learned that the birth parents had changed their minds. They no longer wanted to give their daughter up for adoption. As time passed, it was difficult to endure no interest from potential parents but the faith in believing what is meant to be continued. To increase my potential, I enrolled with a second adoption agency.

A few months later, as I was getting ready to try IVF for the first time, I received a phone call to let me know that a woman had selected me to adopt her child. So I opted out of IVF and found myself in a hospital delivery room with the birth mother, assisting her in the delivery of MY child. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, and he was just adorable.

After six years of losses and disappointments, I was able to bring him home and awaited the final word that the mother and father have given the needed consent. I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl with him dressed in football gear, I got a phone call.

Once again, the adoption agency informed me that the birth mother had changed her mind. That evening, I had to return the baby to his birth mom. I was heartbroken, and my hopes were shattered.

What now? Going back to IVF meant starting from scratch, and that would take a minimum of six months before being able to really start getting pregnant. I was 49 years old, and the clock was ticking. I really wanted to be a mom by the age of 50.

I was in Chicago, recovering from a collapsed lung, when I received yet another phone call from the adoption agency. An expecting mom had chosen me and had already signed over all of her rights. This little girl was mine. For real, this time. But I had to get to Southern New Jersey by Thursday to pick her up from the hospital.

After negotiating with my doctor to give me the green light to leave while recovering from my condition, I hopped on a train, and 22 hours later, I arrived to New York City in a massive snow storm. I took longer than expected to get to her, but after navigating the icy roads of New Jersey, I met my daughter!

She is now 2 years old, and she has changed my life in ways that just can't be fully described. What I can say is that I now understand my mother's love even more and her devotion to me and my siblings, and as I am sharing the same with my daughter, my bond to my mother keeps on growing.

Becoming a mom at 49 was never what I had envisioned. But whether you are trying to conceive or have decided to adopt a child, the road to becoming a parent is rarely easy. I know that inner strength and believing in what was meant to be kept me moving forward.

Life
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