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20+ of the Greatest Mom Tips Ever

Even though some of my mothering skills came naturally, like realizing I could nurse my newborn son, Conrad, while walking up the spiral staircase, my confidence as a new mom was hard-won. I always assumed there was a book, or a gadget, or one of Angelina Jolie's nannies, who knew how to do everything better than I could. Worse, I thought my lack of mothering-nerve was a blemish on the image of the perfect mom I wanted to be. (I hadn't yet realized that trying to be perfect was ridiculous.) I kept my insecurities to myself and continued to shop for stuff I didn't need and buy tomes that were better used as stacking blocks.

Then I got a card from an older family friend, and all she wrote was this: "One day you will feel like you know what you're doing." Six years, many mistakes, and another baby boy later, I do. But that card let me start to trust myself more every day. Well, dear reader, consider this your own card from an old friend. We've gathered the best, most ingenious it-worked-for-me tips from moms and childcare experts to help you sail, not sob, through all the small but significant day-to-day acts of being a mom. Confidence, here you come.

3 Insta-Soothers You Can Count On

Try The Triple Play Rub lavender essential oil on the back of your neck for a calming scent (feel free to swipe your kid's Johnson & Johnson lotion). Then wrap your baby in a blanket and gently bounce on a fitness ball or the edge of the bed, suggests Jill Wodnick, a doula in Montclair, NJ, and mother of Nathaniel, 7, Sebastian, 4, and Emerson, 2.
Head To the Loo Need help fast? Run the bathroom fan and faucet. Low, droning noises remind your little one of hearing your heartbeat in utero, says Dr. Altmann, mother of Avrick, 4, and Collen, 2.
Create a Toddler Cocoon "When toddlers throw tantrums, they often need to block out stimulation in order to calm down," says Corinne G. Catalano, school psychologist at the Ben Samuels Children's Center at Montclair State University. So instead of picking up your tot, make a "cave" or cocoonlike space by throwing a blanket over a small table and allowing him to climb under it. If you've got a pop-up kid tent, that will work, too. Give him his lovey and a pillow, and he'll have the soothing sanctuary he needs to regroup.

Help the Medicine Go Down (or In)
Who hasn't squirted Motrin into her toddler's ear when he's putting up a feverish fight? Take a cue from Mary Poppins and mix a dose of medicine with chocolate syrup, suggests Tanya Altmann, M.D., author of Mommy Calls. For toddlers and older babies on solid foods, medicine will seem like a treat! Another option: Refrigerate OTC meds. Cold can mask the taste. For eyedrops, lay your baby on her back and put a toy on her belly so she'll look down. If she's old enough to follow directions, just tell her to close her eyes. Place a drop on the inner corner of the eye, right by her nose. When she looks up or opens her eye, the drop will fall right in. (Works for drowsing pets, too!)