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7 guided meditations to help your child fall asleep

When doing these exercises always speak in a gentle soothing voice, use rhythm and repetition, and slow down as you speak. As your child seems more relaxed pause between some words, and elongate sounds.

7 guided meditations to help your child fall asleep

There's plenty of advice out there for parents who want to help settle their children down to sleep at night. If you've been looking for ideas you're probably familiar with suggestions like a warm bath, a regular bedtime routine, and avoiding screen time just before bed.

But what if it you've tried everything, and none of it works for your child?

I used to teach meditation and relaxation sessions at a mental health center, and when I became a parent, I adapted some of the exercises I employed there to help my high-energy child relax at bedtime.

These exercises are best done after your child is in bed, with the lights out or just a gentle night light left on. Hopefully you'll be tiptoeing out of the room before you finish!

When doing these exercises always speak in a gentle soothing voice, use rhythm and repetition, and slow down as you speak. As your child seems more relaxed pause between some words, and elongate sounds.

1. The jelly sweet

The last time I did this one with my daughter she fell asleep almost instantly.

I begin with, "You are a jelly sweet. You are a purple jelly sweet lying on the floor. On the warm floor, in the sun. You feel soft and melty, lying on the warm floor, in the sun. You are lovely and warm and soft and squishy…"

Encourage your child to really imagine how it feels to be a jelly sweet and continue the description of how the sweet is becoming softer and meltier until it eventually melts into the floor, by which time your little one will hopefully have melted away to sleep.

2. Sleepy cats

My daughter loves cats, so I came up with this one just for her, but of course it could easily be adapted to any other animal.

We begin by imagining a cat, maybe a kitten, maybe a big, old silver tabby, anything my daughter likes. I'll describe the cat using gentle words like "soft" and "fluffy," and give it a sleepy sounding name such as "Dreamy."

I'll talk slowly about how comfortable Dreamy feels, how she purrs and stretches as she snoozes on the end of the bed. Other imaginary cats may also climb onto the bed and snuggle up next to Dreamy.

Repeating words and phrases suggestive of sleep can be really effective at bedtime, it's a technique used to great effect by Swedish psychologist Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin, in the bestselling The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep.

3. The garden of dreams

Professor Luc Beaudoin promotes a technique called the cognitive shuffle to help insomniacs which involves picturing a random sequence of objects for a few seconds each. The theory is that imagining a succession of nonsensical images can induce sleep.

For this visualization, it helps to have some image ideas prepared – it's surprisingly tricky to come up with a random list on the spot.

Take your child for an imaginary stroll through a lovely garden filled with strange things. For example, "See the swirly-whirly tree, it's branches are rainbows slowly twirling through the air. Tiny ironing boards hop about underneath, watch them jump, hear them rattle as they land."

Focus on one item for a few seconds, then move on to another unrelated item. Imagine an Alice in Wonderland scenario where nothing makes sense but ensure it feels safe and lulling.

4. The floaty boat

Water is a common feature of guided relaxations as many people find water sounds intrinsically relaxing. According to Professor Orfeu Buxton at Live Science this is because slow, whooshing noises are 'non-threats' that work to calm people.

For this exercise begin by encouraging your child to imagine him or herself wrapped in a warm blanket in the bottom of a little boat. You might want to place the boat near to the banks of a small river to add a sense of safety, perhaps put yourself in the boat too.

You can begin, "We are snuggled under a fleecy blanket, in our little boat, under a starlit sky." Bring different senses into play – the gentle bobbing sensation, a soft breeze, rustling leaves, the murmur of the water as it flows over rocks. Imitate watery sounds with words like "hush" and "shush" as you gently drift downstream – and your child gently drifts off to sleep.

5. The colored staircase 

This visualization begins with the child imagining standing at the top of a long staircase, leading down to the land of sleep.

You can number the steps and count down backwards with each one – counting backwards is a standard hypnosis technique – but it's not essential. Just let your child know that with each step they'll feel little more relaxed, and a little more sleepy. Give the steps different colors, textures, and associations.

So, for example, a soft fluffy white step made of marshmallow may be followed by a shimmery silver step as light as air. Again use sleep-suggestive words, "Going gently down to the next step, it's deep dark velvet, soft and smooth, making you feel even more sleepy."

If you reach the bottom of the staircase and they're still awake, you can walk them through the garden of dreams until they are even more deeply relaxed.

6. In the clouds

Ask your child to imagine they are as light as a feather and can be lifted by a gentle breeze.

"How would it feel to be carried gently along in the sky? Imagine you are a feather drifting higher and higher, drifting further and further away from the earth, drifting gently across the sky. And now you begin to float gently down, landing on a soft fluffy cloud, floating in the air. How does it feel to lie on a cloud in the warm sun? The earth below is far away, it's noises have faded into the distance. You are safe and comfortable on your cloud. Relax and let the sun warm you…"

7. Under the sea

A water-based exercise I use involves imagining being a little fish gently swimming to the bottom of the sea.

Along the way, the fish looks at beautiful corals and strange, slow moving (but unthreatening) sea creatures. At the bottom of the sea, it's time to rest under a rock and watch the sea life as it passes by.

Again, think of your child's interests, perhaps they'd prefer to be a whale, a jellyfish, or a sleepy octopus. What all of these creatures have in common, is that they they've had their adventures for the day and are settling down for the night.

Once your child is familiar with the exercises they can practice using them on their own. If they wake in the night you could tell them to imagine the floaty boat, or the sleepy cats, or whichever one of the exercises works best for them, to help themselves get back to sleep.

You can, of course, adapt these talks to work with your own child's special interests. If you have a particularly high-energy child, try teaming a guided relaxation up with a gentle back rub – it can work miracles!

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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

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

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

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

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Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have kids—so here’s what I did

We asked our three most pessimistic friends who have kids whether it's worth it or not

As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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