10 happy + healthy habits to start on baby’s first day

9. Start routines.

A photo posted by Maritha Mae (@marithamae) on

Bath time routines, nighttime lullabies, family traditions: They all add up to a calm, nurturing and predictable environment for your baby.

Here’s how Dr. Tovah Klein explains the value of routines:

Routines are the basis of stability for your child. Establishing routines is the bedrock for helping your child learn the rhythm of the day and gain a sense of inner stability and calm. Routines help little ones become more independent over time because they know what to expect, they know what comes next. So if you do the bedtime routine nightly the same way, they feel safe. Routines are essential for any activity you do daily such as meal times, getting dressed, bathing, bedtime and leaving in the morning.

8. Accept help.

You don’t need to do it all to be an amazing mom. Accept help from your in-laws, your BFF and your partner. Ask them to clean, to watch baby while you shower or to run out and pick up your favorite meal.

Don’t have a support group nearby? Hire a postpartum doula or a night nurse. It is not indulgent to need extra support during this fragile time in your life. In fact, it’s a wise investment in the health and happiness of your family.

5. Start healthy sleep habits for baby.

A photo posted by A Raad Story (@araadstory) on

“Babies are creatures of habit, and how a baby learns to fall asleep in her first few days is how she will always want to sleep,” explains Dr. Jane Scott, MD, in her book The Confident Parent. Long story short: Scott put her babies to bed fed, safe and sleepy, but not already asleep.

Here’s how she helped her baby learn to fall asleep on her own, from day one:

We started a routine that did not include the endless rocking or letting baby fall asleep in our arms. Although still sweet and cozy and filled with kisses and lullabies, the routine did not require my assistance once the babies were in bed. I’d gently lay them in their cribs calm, clean and well fed, with their eyes still open, and after one last kiss I would quietly leave. Instead of associating safety and sleep with constant motion and mommy’s and daddy’s arms, they learned it was safe and comfortable to sleep in their own beds until the next feed or the sun came up the next day.

Of course, the decision to room share or co-sleep is entirely a woman’s choice, and what works for one family or child will not always work for another. Some high-needs babies might need extra attention; some moms will prefer a different method.

But the sooner you can develop good sleep habits that work for the whole family, the better.

7. Involve your partner.

A photo posted by A Raad Story (@araadstory) on

Caring for a newborn is a team sport. Giving Dad specific responsibilities, especially baby-related ones, during postpartum can help give him a sense of purpose and connection—and can give you a sense of relief.

Here are some ways Dad can help:

—Bring mom and baby water each time they breastfeed.

—Change all diapers when you’re home.

—Cook meals for Mama.

—Wear the baby in a wrap.

—Read bedtime stories.

—Bathe your little one.

—Do grocery shopping.

—Write thank-you notes.

—Let Mama nap (see #6).

10. Practice mindful mothering.

A photo posted by Expectful (@expectful) on

You are not your worst days. You are not your postpartum weight. You are not your breastfeeding challenges. You are an amazing mother, despite the very hard days you might have.

Mindful motherhood helps to mother you as a mother—it gives you a bigger perspective on the challenges and gives you resilience to carry on. Try Expectful’s mother-targeted meditation programs, or Headspace’s super-easy meditation app. If you’ve got 10 minutes, you can find a new perspective.

Deep breaths, mama. You’ve got this.

Join Motherly

3. Talk to baby (sing, too!).

ReadRead to baby from day one. Try bedtime stories, baby pop-up books and bright books with contrast so baby’s developing eyes can see.

Sing—Through songs, baby can learn about rhymes and word structure, and enjoy the sound of your sweet voice. Try adding her name into songs, or simply make them up.

Talk—Narrate the day. Count her toes during breastfeeds. Explain to her the step-by-step process of a diaper change. Ask her opinion on dinner plans. Point out animals and plants on your walk.

The day your baby is born is one of the most important days of both your lives. It’s also the start of a beautiful relationship—and a perfect time to begin practicing the habits that will keep mama + baby happy and healthy.

1. Make guilt-free time for yourself.

A photo posted by 2Life Doula (@2lifedoula) on

You’re not a bad mom if you take time for a long shower.

You’re not a bad mom if you go out on a date with your husband.

You’re not a bad mom if you bring your baby to the gym day care so you can fit in a workout.

You’re not a bad mom if you go back to work after maternity leave.

On day one of baby’s life, starting with that first, glorious postpartum shower, make time to take care of yourself, without guilt.

Nourish your body with nutritious foods. Pamper yourself with a new outfit in your new postpartum size. Take deep breaths. And by all means, binge on Netflix. When you feel that mom guilt creeping in, tell it to take a hike. You’ve got better things to do than listen to those unhelpful lies that whisper that you’re not doing enough. (YOU ARE.)

The transition to motherhood is so demanding, and you owe it to your baby and family to mother yourself first.

4. Take a daily picture.

You won’t ever regret taking too many pictures of baby, starting on day one.

And a tip from Motherly—take more videos! You’ll love looking back and seeing and hearing your baby in action. Trust us: They change so much, so quickly.

The Daily Kiddo app makes it easy for you to send once-a-day pictures to a curated group of family and friends.

InkCards is another app that makes it super simple to send your Instagram posts to Grandma.

2. Keep baby close.

Skin-to-skin (sometimes known as kangaroo care) is so beneficial to baby—and to mom.

It helps regulate baby’s temperature after birth.

It helps baby’s heart rate normalize outside the womb.

It builds baby’s immune system.

It helps comfort your little one during her first days outside your womb.

It signals for your breastmilk to come in.

And it just feels so incredibly good.

Try: Baby-wearing, room sharing and good old fashioned cuddling. Doctor’s orders.

6. Get your rest, too.

Maybe you’re able to sleep when the baby sleeps. (Most of us can’t.)

Or maybe you feel better taking a nap when you know your husband or mother or nanny is watching your little one.

However you sleep best, make sure you prioritize your rest above other things—yes, including housework and work work. Your rest matters. A well-rested mama means a happier family. Promise.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less