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Build your child’s village—and teach them how to connect with each other

When we give birth to a child, we also need to cultivate the village of adults that will help us raise them. This community may consist of daycare workers, teachers, coaches, instructors and extended family. This is critical as children flourish in environments where there is a seamless connection or invisible matrix of adults surrounding them.


The challenge for parents is to not leave this formation to chance.

Children have natural shyness instincts that move them to resist contact and closeness with those they don’t know well. As an attachment instinct, shyness ensures that a child follows, obeys, listens to, and shares the same values as those to whom they are closest. Children should naturally shy away from those who have not been sanctioned by their closest attachments.

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When we look for people who will help us care for our children, we consider many things, such as their background, training, facilities, and demeanor. But one of the most important things to consider is whether we can foster a caring relationship between them and our child. If young children don’t feel at home in their adult relationships, they will be difficult to care for and may turn to their peers to connect, over their adults.

Here are five ways to help your child connect with their village:

1. Take the lead

At a doctor’s office, for example, a parent needs to take the lead in introducing their child. When we have the attachment lead with a child, we need to guide them to other caring adults and show them we approve of the connection.

We can’t assume that adults will collect our kids and start building a relationship with them. If we allow others to do the introductions for us, we are not in the lead. We are meant to point out to our children those we believe to be their best bet for leaning upon.

2. Look for—and point out—similarities

One of the ways children feel connected to adults is through sameness, when they feel they have something in common with them. Parents need to work to prime the relationship, describing similarities and working hard to highlight those areas of likeness.

There are many ways to draw out similarities, from similar interests, experiences, to desires. When kids feel that they have something in common with people who care for them, they are more likely to be more receptive to their care.

3. Foster a sense of approval and connection

When a parent demonstrates that they like another adult, a child will often follow their lead. On an instinctive level, the child’s brain says, “If you like this person, then I will like them too.” When they see us expressing warmth, delight, and enjoyment to another person, they are likely to follow our lead.

This requires us to be thoughtful in our conversations regarding the adults in their life and ensure that what our children hear preserves these relationships. For example, when a child has a new teacher, it will be important to express approval and interest in this person, encouraging a child to share their daily experiences with them. It is important to not judge what these adults do in front of the child, as we will run the risk of thwarting their relationship.

4. Create routines and rituals to foster connection

Routines are great at orienting kids to the transition between their adults, such as at drop off and pick up. This could include a standard hello as well as some simple conversation about everyday events, like the weather or plans for the day. When a parent feels the child has connected to the adult they can say their goodbyes and leave swiftly. Hanging around to talk or prolonged goodbye often agitates young children, as they don’t know who they should orient too.

Rituals foster connection and a sense of community. From celebrating holidays to special occasions, when children see adults gathering, sharing meals together, playing games or going on outings, the sense of being cared for by a village is further highlighted. For young children, gradual entry and school orientations are also important rituals which allow a child to warm up to and feel comfortable with a teacher or daycare provider.

5. Maintain a hierarchy of attachments

It is fine to introduce children to many adults as long as we keep their attachment hierarchy in place. Parents need to be at the top of the hierarchy with all other adults falling under them. To ensure this, a parent needs to explain to whom a child should go for help when needed.

If a child sees a parent being reprimanded, dismissed, or treated poorly by other adults, it can threaten their attachment hierarchy with the parent at the helm. If a parent needs support, then it is best to do it in a way that preserves the parent role in the eyes of a child. Admonishing parents in front of their child can hurt a child in the long run. They need to feel and believe their parents know how to care for them, even if the parent needs support in being able to do this.

Kids will miss their favorite people, and we can help them feel at home with a network of caring adults. Parents need to introduce their children to this supporting cast of adults who will help raise them—by devoting more energy to this instead of the peer to peer relationships, we build a seamless attachment matrix around them.

Children shouldn’t have to question who is caring for them. They need to be free to play and focus on learning about who they are and what they can do.

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.

$30

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!

$75

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.

$40

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.

$120

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.

$30

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.

$100

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.

$40

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.

$121

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.

$100

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.

$45

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.

$179

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.

$100

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.

$33

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.

$88

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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