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Powerful responses to use when your child whines or complains

If the mental habit remains unaddressed, the complaints will arise again and again.

Powerful responses to use when your child whines or complains

It’s a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon in January and a bit of a slow day at the house. Your child is bored and complaining to you, which, unfortunately, is not something new. Stir-crazy and frustrated, he can’t help but whine about his boredom: "There is nothing good on TV;" "Why can't I go to the movies?" "I can’t go outside, and Sam is away, so I have no one to play with and nowhere to go." You buy an Amazon movie to occupy him, but after it ends, he starts grumbling again to no avail.


If this sounds familiar, you are in good company. Complaining is a mental habit that is seemingly ingrained in our culture. Whether we are lamenting our favorite team’s loss on our Facebook wall, bemoaning our wait in the checkout line, or whining about the weather to our waitress in Chili’s, complaining is a widely-accepted communication style that sometimes elicits empathy from those we are groaning to!

But even if we find a sympathetic ear, the act of complaining itself creates more dissatisfaction. As Mason Cooley suggests, complaints cease when the issue is resolved, but if the mental habit remains unaddressed, the complaints will arise again and again.

To be clear, we are not referring to situations when kids are voicing legitimate concerns—telling you they are hungry (when they really are), for example. Rather, the issue we want to address is the incessant whining for no good reason. One way to alleviate this habitual needless complaining is to teach our children mindfulness skills.

Mindfulness practice cultivates an awareness of our present mental and emotional state. With mindfulness, we (and our kids) can more accurately evaluate our current situation, determine whether the present concern is a legitimate one, and break the habit of mindless complaining about inconsequential inconveniences.

So, the next time you find yourself exasperated by your kids’ needless whining, try these three mindfulness techniques to help them kick the complaining habit:

1. Calm yourself to avoid the quick fix

When our kids aggravate us, we often mindlessly adopt the "fix it" mentality, which is the very approach that encourages the mental habit of complaining. To start, be mindful of what is happening.

Realize that, while a quick fix to "do" something to remedy the "problem" is always available (like buying an Amazon movie or providing a new video game), it is not the best long-term solution for the dissatisfied child. In fact, doing this may further ingrain the complaining habit by teaching the child that this negative behavior actually works.

When your children are relentlessly bellyaching, reorient your own perspective by taking a few deep breaths. Follow your breath and pay attention to it. Start noticing how the air moves in through your nostrils and follow it all the way down to your abdomen and all the way back out. Breathe deeply.

No matter what is happening, you can find a minute to perform this exercise. It will have a calming effect on your system and allow you to respond thoughtfully to your child’s whining so that you don’t default to the quick fix.

2. Reorient children to the reality of the situation

Gently reorienting our kids to what is actually happening will help them drop the complaining habit. Rather than placating them (which won’t stop the complaints from reoccurring), help them see the possibilities available in the present moment. Our belief that there is something deficient or lacking about our present situation often does not comport with reality.

A gratitude practice is helpful here. Take out a sheet of paper and have your children list things that they are grateful for, along with a brief reason why they are grateful for them. Help them list 10 things.

These can be anything: Siblings, their home, their dog, or whatever comes to mind. Try to turn the focus away from electronics (i.e. the latest video game machine of choice) and more towards their relationships, experiences and necessities that we often take for granted.

3. Focus on present moment experiences and intentions

Real change occurs when we can help our children focus on the present moment and realize that happiness does not come from obtaining new toys or novel experiences. One way we can help them obtain this perspective is to reduce or limit their screen time. Giving them a break from constant stimulation so they can actually focus on the present moment will (in time!) reduce their complaining.

A few activities that help kids develop mindfulness include:

If we really think about it, and encourage our children to think about it, there are countless activities that are readily available to our kids that help them focus on the present moment. And there are countless others that bring us parents into the moment with them, as well.

We can help them ride a bike, join them on the play structure at the park, or read to them. Or you and your children may enjoy doing nothing together. Simply sitting quietly in each other’s restful, loving presence and relishing the moment can be a transformative practice for your family’s overall well-being.

By using these mindfulness techniques, we can let go of the complaining habit and refocus our attention—and our children's attention—to the simple and readily-available things that make us happy and content.

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We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

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

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

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

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You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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