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*We’ve partnered with Safari Ltd® to help you prep for a successful school year by using the art of play.

“Back to school” season can be incredibly emotional, especially for those of us who aren’t necessarily sending our kids “back” to school, but to school for the very first time. There is nothing quite as heart-wrenching as watching your little baby pull those backpack straps over his perfect little shoulders and march off into the great, big world out there….even if it’s just for a few hours.

But when it comes to coping with back to school season, a little bit of prep can go a long way, for both baby and mama. So we’ve partnered with our friends at Safari Ltd®, makers of our favorite educational animal toys and figurines, to show how some creative play with some of Safari’s hand-painted, scientifically accurate “Toys that Teach” can be the best way to get your baby school-ready before he ever steps foot into the classroom.

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This back-to-school season, we’re sharing how some of our favorite Insta-mamas are prepping for the first day of school, with a little help from some sweet Safari friends. Meet Natalie Alcala, founder of Fashion Mamas — an influential community of moms in the fashion and creative industries — who’s prepping her son Diego, almost 3, for his first day of preschool.

“I am so excited for Diego’s first day of preschool, but I’m also feeling very emotional about the fact that he is truly no longer a baby! He’s been in our protective bubble for nearly three years, so all I can hope for is that the world is kind to him.

Diego is still so young, so he doesn’t really know what all this back to school stuff means, but whenever I talk to him about school, I do see his eyes moving and processing everything. He knows something new is coming.

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We’ve been visiting his preschool regularly to familiarize him with the environment. We’re sure to say “school” and “fun” in the same sentence, so he knows that that this new environment will be a happy place and never a punishment. Luckily he has lots of friends from our Fashion Mamas community, but definitely the more the merrier!

I’m trying to help him get prepped for school in every way I can. I bought him a soft, school-only naptime blanket that he’s now obsessed with. It’s super plush and he can’t wait to sleep on it during his nap at school. Also, his new Safari toys have been a hit! He loves the hedgehog and calls it his “baby.”

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I’m excited to just watch my little guy flourish and come into his own. It’s fun to see what types of toys, activities, foods, and even people he gravitates towards. But of course I’m sad too…that one day very soon he won’t be glued to my hip anymore.

This school transition feels like it’s the first step into independence. School is where you find out what type of person you are based on the type of people surrounding you. It’s a very impressionable time, so I’m excited to watch his character build more and more each day.”

Photography by Red Anchor Photo for Well Rounded.


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Safari Ltd® Incredible Creatures® Hedgehog

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Safari Ltd® Wildlife Wonders™ Gray Wolf

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Safari Ltd® Incredible Creatures® Duckling

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Safari Ltd® Wild TOOB®

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Safari Ltd® Nature TOOB®