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Mama, stop worrying about these 5 things when it comes to your child’s development

The moment you become a parent, you realize all the worries other parents talk about are true. I recently heard an interview with a songwriter in which she mentioned a line in her song that says, “Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind." That's about the perfect description of parenthood and its worries.


To put your mind at ease a bit, however, we've put together a few key developmental issues you don't need to lose sleep over:

1. Spoiling your baby

This myth is hopefully on its way out of fashion, but you still might occasionally hear a well-meaning grandmother say something like, “If you hold that baby all the time, you'll spoil her." In past generations, there was much concern over spoiling babies. Nowadays, thanks to better child development research, we know that it's basically impossible to spoil a baby.

Babies do not have the mental maturity to manipulate or intentionally cause you distress. They cry because that's the only way they can express their needs. Research has shown us that babies whose parents respond to their cries consistently and sensitively actually cry less at 6 months old compared to those whose parents were not as responsive.

Additionally, comforting and cuddling your baby actually changes their DNA for the better. New studies confirm that babies who were held more had a more advanced molecular structure at age four than those who were not comforted or experienced more distress as infants.

2. Your newborn's unusual reflexes

Newborns are really amazing. If you remember seeing your new tiny one use her rooting reflex to find a nipple to eat the first time, you've witnessed Mother Nature at work. Besides this basic survival reflex, newborns have other mysterious reflexes that have puzzled scientists for years.

For example, when you hold an infant upright in a standing position (while supporting her head), she will instinctively make a stepping motion. It may seem like this is just practice for learning to walk, but curiously newborns lose this reflex after about two months.

Another reflex that happens to be super cute is the fact that newborns instinctively grasp something put into their palm. Your infant holding your comparatively huge finger sure makes for a sweet memory, but it's actually their Palmar reflex at work.

Curious fact—you don't have to pry your baby's hand open to get her to let go. Just stroke the back of her hand and she'll probably release her grip. Helpful to know when she's gripped your hair (ouch!). Take those pictures soon because this reflex relaxes around 6 months of age.

3. Your child's spirited temperament

Is your baby the one who cries at the drop of a hat (or ring of a doorbell)? Is your toddler then one that refuses to be buckled in the car seat or throws a tantrum of epic proportions when they don't get that toy at Target? Well, you're in luck! All your patience and loving guidance will pay off.

We know from several studies now that children with “difficult" temperaments are actually more sensitive to a lot of things, including parental guidance. With caring, responsive parents, children with spirited temperaments are not at greater risk for behavior problems than kids with “easy" temperaments.

Additionally, it turns out that strong-willed kids who tend to question authority often turn out to be the most creative, think-outside-the-box entrepreneurs and leaders.

4. Pushing academics

In today's competitive parenting environment, there is an underlying sense that early academic achievement is better. Your friend at the playdate might not come out and say that her 4 year old can already read, but somehow you end up knowing this fact before the day is out.

What research tells us, however, is that young children learn best through play. Play is the engine of learning for little ones. Sure, preschoolers might recite back words or letters they learn from flashcards, but the lesson will “stick" better if they learned that lesson through a game or song.

Rather than enrolling your preschooler in a rigorous academic school, focus on engaging with their interests and play. Reading classic stories, playing with blocks, and answering all those “why" questions will serve your little one better than worksheets and flashcards.

5. Your child's intense love of dinosaurs, trains, dolls, etc.

Many kids go through a phase where they are really into a certain toy or interest. For many kids it's dinosaurs. They learn all the names, what they eat, where they lived, and many more facts that you could ever remember. For other kids, it might be trains or butterflies. This usually happens around age four to six, when kids have a good grasp of language and can soak up new information like sponges.

So what is behind this intense interest in one thing? Researchers tell us that this intensity is actually a great aspect of kids' learning. With this laser focus, they build essential skills like longer attention span, information processing and confidence in their abilities.

This is the perfect example of play-based learning, which we know is the ideal way for kids to learn anything. Kids take something they are already interested in (like dinosaurs) and expand their knowledge in every way they can—playing with toys, reading books and telling their parents.

So take heart, and take a deep breath. That little creature you are raising is really quite amazing.

We've stocked the Motherly Shop with some of our favorite toys for play-based learning mamas and littles love.


Rocking penguin

Janod rocking penguin

A gentle push makes him rock and tumble. This chubby pal is easy for little hands to hold and great for developing vision and exploring cause and effect.

$15

Lovevery block set

Lovevery block set

With limitless ways to play, this science-based 70-piece set engages little ones of all ages to unlock STEM concepts like math, physics, and engineering, along with higher-order planning and problem-solving. Bonus: The included wooden box is not only ideal for neat and tidy storage, but also converts into a play car!

$90

Confetti musical table

Janod confetti musical table

Ideal for sing-a-longs and solo concerts, it's perfectly sized for little ones to sit under while using the wooden mallets to play the xylophone, a cymbal and drum.

$28

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

14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With fall 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 outside-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.

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden 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

Detective set

Plan Toys detective 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

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

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

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

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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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?

Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

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

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Mama, all I see is you

A love letter from your baby.

Mama,

I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

All I see is you.

When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

You are my everything.

When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

I trust you.

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