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My youngest is quickly approaching his first birthday—which means he's still in the “stick everything in my mouth" stage but is also very eager to learn new things. One thing I'm learning this second time around is that babies really don't need a lot of toys to stimulate them. My little guy is much more interested in an empty cardboard box than, say, a new toy with all the bells and whistles.

I'm often amazed by the senses that babies start to use at this age, especially the sense to “touch" and “see" things. They really start to focus and explore objects, so I want to provide him with adequate crafts and activities that allow his little mind to soar!

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That being said, here are 50 perfect for 1-year-old minds—with the added benefit of being super easy for moms to put together.

1. Discovery basket: Fill clear plastic containers you have around the house with little things that baby can explore. Place a lid on them, tape the lid if need be and let the little one spin them around to explore the contents.

2. Paper towel holder and cotton balls: Tape a cardboard paper towel roll to the wall and encourage baby to drop some cotton balls into it. They will catch on and have fun!

3. Mess-free canvas art: Pick up a canvas from your local craft store, dab a few different colors of paint on it, wrap it in plastic wrap and let them push the paint around with their fingers. This little craft is safe, an easy clean up and a great new piece for the living room gallery wall!

4. Water bottle shakers: Empty water bottle (drink up!) and then fill it with popcorn, rocks, rice, etc. Tape the cap on to be extra safe and you've got a homemade rattle.

5. Hand and foot painting: There are so many fun handprint and footprint animals you can make with your little ones' hands or feet. Plus, it's a fun new sensation for them.

6. Mess-free painting: Fill a ziplock bag with some different types of paint, seal it up, tape it to the highchair, floor or table... And let baby push the paint around. Best of all, you can put it away and pull it out again for another day's entertainment.

7. Water painting: Let your little one paint a masterpiece on some colored construction paper with water and a paintbrush. Bonus: The cleanup is simple and easy!

8. Playing with food: You can “paint" a lot of fun things using yogurt or applesauce. And snack while you're at it. (There will be plenty of time to teach better table manners later.)

9. Sensory bottles: Add a few drops of food coloring to water bottles along with glitter and knickknacks like beads. Tape on the top and watch as your little one is amazed by tipping the bottle around.

10. Cereal necklaces: Let your little one string some Cheerios onto a piece of yarn and create a little necklace. This activity is great for fine motor skills!

11. Sand doodles: Take a small box, draw some squiggly or straight lines on the inside, pour sand over it and encourage your little one to trace along the lines.

12. Music makers: Take an empty tissue box, wrap a few rubber bands around it and you have a makeshift harp! You little one will love plucking the rubber bands and listening to the sounds that come out.

13. Sorting balls with a spoon: Set out two bowls and fill one bowl with ping-pong or golf balls. Then let your little one work on transferring the balls with a slotted spoon to the empty bowl. This is a great activity for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

14. Sticky note peek-a-boo: Print off some pictures of family members and put a sticky note over the top. Then encourage baby to play “peek-a-book" with the relatives!

15. Handprint keepsakes: Ornaments, wreaths, canvases… capture those sweet little hands and toes while they grow. You'll look back one day and be glad that you did!

16. Sock puppets: Grab a few old socks, draw faces on the tops with a fabric marker and have a puppet show with your babe! You can let them slide the socks on their hands to use, too.

17. Paper window mosaics: Tissue paper and press-n-seal food savers make for great window mosaics. Cut up some pieces of paper, craft a mosaic and stick it to a window that gets a lot of sunlight. Your little one will love watching the colors shine through the house.

18. A life-size portrait: Most home office stores print large, life-size photos for just a few bucks. Print one of your babe, hang it on the wall and encourage them to explore themselves and find their eyes, nose, etc.

19. Cardboard tunnel: Save those Amazon boxes and craft a tunnel for baby to crawl through.

20. Wipe dispenser sensory box: Save your empty wipe dispensers to fill with fabric scraps. You little one will love pulling the straps out and putting them back in. It's like a mini laundry basket for them! (See, you really can get little ones started on “chores.")

21. Whipped cream painting: Spray a little whipped cream on a highchair tray or table and let your little one paint pictures in it.

22. DIY ball pit: Pull out that plastic pool and fill it with inexpensive plastic balls—or use your pack 'n' play! Either one will do the trick and keep baby entertained for hours.

23. Polkadot sticker art: Using labeling “dot" stickers, let baby create a masterpiece by sticking stickers to a blank piece of paper. They will love figuring out how the stickers work.

24. Sensory rice play: Fill an empty tub with rice, cars, spoons, etc. —and let them dig around. (Just be sure to keep a close eye so they don't down any of the uncooked rice.)

25. Touch-and-feel board: Cover a poster board with different types of things that baby can touch, such as fake fur, sandpaper, bubble wrap and aluminum foil.

26. Plastic egg play: Put those leftover plastic Easter eggs to use by taking them apart and stacking them—and then encouraging baby to try, too.

27. Stack cups: Make cup towers with plastic cups and watch your little one take them down and rebuild them! (Or just take them down. ?)

28. Sort toys in muffin tins: Place an assortment of different balls into muffin tins and let baby play with them. Colored cotton balls are especially fun for older tots interested in sorting by colors.

29. Bottle peek-a-boo: Put a rolled-up piece of paper in an empty water bottle so it covers the bottom portion. Then, stick a cotton ball or rock through the paper roll and show baby how the ball appears when you lift up the paper.

30. Clothes pin drop box: Cut a hole in the lid of an empty coffee can that's big enough for a clothes pin to go through. Then place the lid on the empty tin and show baby how to place the clothes pin inside. Get their little minds thinking by asking questions like, “Where did it go?"

31. Texture walk: Help your little one take a grassy nature walk with bare feet—or bring a few crunchy leaves inside to let them stomp on.

32. Spaghetti play: Boil a package of noodles, cool and let baby play with them. Go ahead and join in on the fun, too… Who doesn't love to play with noodles?

33. Kitchen rock band: Let baby safely explore your kitchen by setting some different utensils and bowls on the floor to explore. My little guy loves measuring spoons, spatulas and plastic bowls!

34. Pretend animal play: Show baby pictures of a few different animals and then act out their sounds and motions, such as a cat meowing and licking her paws.

35. Ring some bells: Browse through your holiday décor for some bells and let the little ones ring away! ?

36. Vegetable peel play: While making dinner, let baby play with those leftover potato, zucchini and carrot peels. They will love the different textures and fragrances.

37. Tub drums: Flip over a few tubs or buckets and you've got some makeshift hand drums!

38. Hanging loofas: Grab a few loofas from the store (they are dirt cheap) and string them on some yard. Then hang them off of a table or the handles of your refrigerator to let your little one bat at.

39. Sensory bags: Sensory bags are a great way to let babies explore and safely touch things that they normally couldn't because of chocking hazards or the simple mess factor. I usually toss things like cotton balls, crayons and other textured items into a plastic bag, zip and tape the top and then tape it to a wall. This leads to hours of entertainment!

40. Noodle necklaces: Similar to cheerio necklaces, but not edible—and work a slightly different fine motor skill with the stringing.

41. Mini sandbox: Grab an empty tub from the attic or the garage and fill it with sand, a few toys, shells, rocks or anything else your little one might like. This is great for the indoors especially in the cooler months. (Just put a garbage bag or towel beneath the tub to help with clean-up.)

42. Snow globes: Using small jars or bottles, glue one of your baby's small animal trinkets upside down to the lid, fill the jar portion with water and glitter and place the lid back on tightly. You now have a homemade snow globe!

43. Stringing pipe cleaners: Poke holes in an old egg carton and stick the pipe cleaners in it makes a loop. Baby can pull these out, place them back in and so forth.

44. Magnetic tubs: Fill a small plastic container with things that are magnetic—such as washers, bolts, etc. Place a lid on it and tape it up really well. Then, using a magnetic stick, let them pull the different things around the container safely!

45. Edible slime: There are tons of edible slime recipes that are baby-safe. Make one and let your babe have some fun. Who doesn't love slime?!

46. Foam window letters: Those foam bathtub letters also work great on windows—and baby doesn't turn into a prune to use them!

47. Busy board: Grab some latches, zippers, locks and anything else that you could place on a wooden board for your little one to safely explore. Busy boards make for awesome little homemade gifts as well.

48. Touch and feel frames: Using empty frames, remove the glass and tape sensory objects to the back portion of the frame. Great items to use are sponges, dusting cloths, sandpaper, bubble wrap, etc. Place the frame back around it, close it up and TA-DA!

49. Bathtub painting: Stick baby in a water-free tub with some washable paint and let them get creative. When they are done, rinse the bathtub out and give them a quick wash.

50. Busy basket: I use a busy basket almost every day with my little guy. I keep it tucked away so when I pull it out, it's all new and fresh to him. It's filled with odds and ends, such as blocks, baby-safe kitchen utensils, sensory bottles, music makers and more.

The beauty of these activities is that they promote brain-development, let baby have fun—and usually give mama a few moments to have her hands to herself!

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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

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If you're looking to stock up on some adorable fall (or maybe even next summer) outfits, you're in luck because Maisonette is currently having a huge sale of up to 50% off on really really cute clothes, baby to toddler sizes.

There are a bunch of dresses, shorts and swim suits that are limited to warm weather, but also plenty of sweat pants, polo shirts and hoodies that can be worn year round.

Here are 10 of our favorites:

1. Short-sleeve onesie in multi doodle print

This super cute and mega soft onesie is 40% off! It comes with snaps and layered neck for easy dressing and undressing, and the print is perfect for any gender and style.

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2. Pink light up sneakers 

These neon pink sneakers are adorable even before you turn on the lights on their sole. They come with three settings and are USB rechargeable. They are currently 40% off.

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3. Blue gingham dress

The dress features a peter pan collar and comes with matching bloomers making the entire outfit so so cute. Currently 50% off.

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4. Short sleeve button down in abstract shapes print

This shirt is the perfect match for pants, skirts or jumpsuits and it's easy to match with any color. Currently at 50% off.

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5. Overall dress in pink stripes

These are a brand trademark and come with adorable bloomers for you little one to wear under the dress. Currently at 20% off.

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6. Sweat suit bundle in blue doodle print

This bundle is perfect for Fall days playing outside. It can be worn all together or mixed and match with neutral pieces. Currently at 40% off.

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7. Waist dress in red plaid

If you are planning ahead for the holidays this dress is a great find! Currently at 50% off.

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8. Romper in light chambray 

Babies and rompers are the perfect combo, and this one with the extra ruffles just makes everyone look extremely cute. Currently at 50% off.

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9. Shirt with all the animal friends 

Celebrate all the animals that children love (and maybe even practice the sounds they make) with this adorable t-shirt. Currently at 40% off.

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10. Cool sneakers for mom or dad

These super cool vans come in adult sizes so mom or dad (or both!) can match their little ones. Currently 25% off.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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Getting kids back into a school year sleep routine is hard work. There were so many reasons for kids to stay up over the summer, like fireworks, campfires and the fact that the sun itself has been staying up so late.

Incrementally later bedtimes happen slowly over the summer, and at this time of year, parents are looking to reset the clock fast. But when you're six years old and you've spent the last couple months basically living a life of Saturdays, it might take some convincing to get you under the covers early.

Enter the Disney Bedtime Hotline. From September 16 to 30 parents in the United States and Canada can call 1-877-7-MICKEY at bedtime and a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars character will tell your kids to go to bed.

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Mickey, Spider-Man, Yoda, Elsa, Princess Jasmine, Woody and other beloved characters are on the line, waiting to tell kids a little story before bed .

The Disney bedtime hotline may sound silly, but getting kids back into a bedtime routine (especially when they've grown used to staying up as late as the summer sun) is serious business.

According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, school-age kids need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night, and when summer ends, kids no longer have the option of sleeping in a bit on weekdays. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine goes even further, recommending between 9 and 12 hours of sleep for kids 6 to 12 years old. Kids 3 to 5 years old should sleep 10 to 13 hour (including naps).

"Among three to five-year-olds, lack of sleep is associated with memory consolidation and language development difficulties, and with a lesser quality of life," said Wendy Hall, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine panel that made those recommendations explained after their release.

"Children aged five to 12 years who get less than nine hours of sleep have significantly increased odds of obesity," Hall, a sleep specialist and nursing professor at the University of British Columbia continued.

"Sleep routines are critical for kids of all ages. Reading a book, telling a story, singing a song, or getting into a toothbrush routine help kids settle into sleep better," she explained. "Banning electronic devices from the bedroom also helps."

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a five-year-old who starts school at 8:00am (and needs an hour or so to get ready, eat and commute) should be going to bed at 8 or 9:00pm.

If your child's school starts early, or they have a long bus or car ride to get to school, you may have to call Mickey even earlier.

Thanks for the help, Disney.

[A version of this post was originally published August 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Legendary journalist Cokie Roberts died this week due to complications from breast cancer, NPR reports. She was 75 years old.

Roberts made a huge impact on America and will not be forgotten. The Emmy Award-winning broadcaster made her mark in journalism at a time when it was difficult for women to be taken seriously in the space. She was a pioneer who remembered the pioneering women who came before her.

As a historian and prolific writer who authored several bestselling works on the role of American women in U.S. history, including "Capital Dames," "Founding Mothers" and "Ladies of Liberty", Roberts was dedicated to reminding the public of the crucial role of American women in U.S. history.

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Back in 2015, Roberts talked to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about what modern mothers should know about the amazing women who preceded them.

This is what she wanted us to know.

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Before becoming a mother, I had a film reel running in my head of the type of mom I would be. I would nurse. I would make organic baby food. I would set strict and loving boundaries: no screens before two, no co-sleeping, binky gone after the first birthday. I laugh as I type this up.

Our son is 14 months old now and he eats store-bought squeeze packs and goldfish crackers, he sleeps in our bed almost every night, he occasionally watches a show when I am overwhelmed and his binky is his best friend.

The mom I thought I would be in my head is not exactly the mom I am when the realities of life set in.

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When it came to breastfeeding, this was something I assumed I would just do. I knew it would initially be something I would have to figure out and learn in the hospital, but after that I thought it would be natural and comfortable. I was not overly concerned. I didn't even take a breastfeeding class. I heard stories of the initial challenges and pains early breastfeeding brought on, but I wrongly assumed that proper latching and sore nipples would be my biggest obstacles to overcome.

I was absolutely unprepared for the anxiety that breastfeeding brought on.

To say I struggled with nursing my son is an understatement. It was a battle I faced every couple of hours. There were tears and frustrations on both of our ends. I blamed it on a lot of external things: tongue tie, nipple shape, extra milk supply. It was so easy for me to externally justify why this breastfeeding thing was so challenging for me.

While some of these reasons may have been true, there was a bigger issue: my own head. Especially when it came to nursing in public, it almost always ended in disaster. My heart rate would increase, my mind began to tell me all types of lies and he would become frantic. My great challenges when it came to nursing went far beyond latching issues. Even an experienced lactation consultant cannot fully diagnose an issue when it has to do with your internal fears and deep insecurities.

This is something that not enough people talk about. I felt extremely alone and isolated in my anxiety with nursing in public.

I frantically Googled all day long in hopes of finding more women that also struggled with feeling uncomfortable feeding their babies in public. But most of my research made me feel like there was something wrong with me. So much of what I read revolved around embracing nursing in public, not even worrying about using a cover, and the pride other moms had in the ability to nurse wherever.

I read these articles and my heart longed to be like them, but I was stuck still feeling incredibly shy when it came to nursing in front of anyone except my husband. What was wrong with me? This is a totally natural thing. All those other moms seem to nurse out in public with such grace and confidence. Why can't I be like them? Why do I have to get so awkward, insecure and unsure? These were my constant thoughts in the early days of nursing.

Breastfeeding, for me, was much more than just learning the basics of how to correctly feed my sweet baby. It was a lesson in confidence. Even more, it was a lesson in embracing the fact that I do things differently. I am a slow learner. It takes me a while to warm up. I need time. I am shy, modest and slightly insecure. I so wish I could go back and fill those early months with more grace and patience. I wish I could tell myself it would be okay and that I would get there.

I did get there, eventually. I went from needing to find a hiding place each time my baby became hungry to nursing with confidence wherever we were: the park, the beach, an airplane. Part of this growth came from my son's own development, but a large part of overcoming the deep anxiety I once had was learning to be confident as a mom.

It took me a while to fully feel like I was made to be a mom. I had so much self-doubt and insecurity, which ultimately got in the way of something as natural as feeding my baby. I felt like everyone's eyes were on me when I attempted to nurse in public. I made up so many lies about what they thought about me. It's sad to admit, but when I breastfed in public, I was more concerned with how others perceived me than just focusing on my baby.

As I gained confidence in motherhood, my care in how others perceived me slowly lessened. My focus was finally on where it needed to be: my baby.

Gaining the confidence to nurse in public definitely did not happen overnight. It was a long and slow process. There was not one thing that suddenly granted me with courage. It was many little wins that overtime allowed me to be the mother I pictured I would be. The one that nursed her baby with grace and confidence wherever she may be.

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