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Week eight


You’ve made it to the two-month mark—congratulations! Keeping a tiny human safe and healthy for 2 months is no small feat.

This week, we’re talking about how you can build a bit more predictability into your baby’s day. It’s so important to remember that very few babies are ready for a by-the-clock schedule at this point; however, you can establish a little consistency by using something called “fixed points.” To use fixed points in your baby’s day, simply establish a few key points in your daily routines and make sure they happen at about the same time each day - within the same 30 minute window. You can start by getting your baby up for the day at approximately the same time; from there, you can make sure the first morning nap is happening at the same time each day, and so on. Building in several fixed points is a gentle way to move towards consistency without jeopardizing your baby’s sleep and feeding needs.

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Sleep totals for your 8 week old baby are about 14-16 hours each day, with a bit more of that sleep happening at night than during the day.

Week three

Three weeks tends to be the point at which the “newness” of parenting your newborn wears off, and you run smack into the brick wall of exhaustion.

Don’t worry—you are not alone in this. After all, a woman can only take so much fragmented sleep before she starts to fall apart! Don’t forget to ask for help, and to lean on your partner and surrounding community for help.

At this stage, your newborn is still sleeping about 14-18 total hours each day. It’s still too early to see any sort of real “schedule” emerge at this point; your baby will still be sleeping in cycles. You may, however, start to see a bit more awake time, which is great! Don’t forget to encourage tummy time each day; when placed on his or her belly, you may see your baby start to try and lift his or her head by week three.

9 months old

At this point, if your baby is not yet sleeping through the night, you may be feeling like you’re seriously going to lose your mind.

9 months is a long time to endure fragmented sleep, and even getting up just once to feed your baby at night can feel like an excruciating task by the 9-month mark!

Here’s something to keep in mind: 1 night feeding is still normal for breastfed babies at 9 months old. In fact, a small percentage of breastfed babies need to feed once per night until they’re about 12 months old. However, if your baby is still waking to feed at night, an attempt at night weaning around 9 months of age is usually a good idea. Why? Simple: by this age, some babies continue to wake and feed out of habit, and not necessarily because they need the nourishment. It’s true that some babies will naturally night wean without any nudges from mom, but others won’t. If your baby is still feeding at night, it may mean you need to offer a little night weaning help.

Signs your 9 month old may be ready to night wean include:Your baby isn’t eating as much during the day. Your baby isn’t really eating during night feedings and is treating them more as playtime or comfort time. Your baby has started solid foods and is getting plenty of daytime nourishment.

These signs together are a strong indication that you can work on night weaning your baby and encouraging sleeping through the night.

As for sleep totals: your 9 month old baby will sleep 13-14 total hours, with 11-12 of it happening at night and 2-3 hours happening during the day over 2 naps. Both of these naps should be at least an hour long. You can see a sample 9 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

Five months old

By the time your baby is 5 months old, the worst of the 4 month sleep regression has likely passed, and you can really start to work on sleep coaching, if you haven’t already.

This is usually a great window of time during which to sleep coach: your baby isn’t as mobile as he or she will be in another few months and is still young enough that sleep associations haven’t yet become deeply-rooted habits. But remember, only sleep coach if you want to - sleep coaching is by no means a mandatory thing! If you’re happy with your child’s sleeping patterns, and if they work for your family right now, then feel empowered to keep doing what you’re doing.

One issue that typically crops up around the 5-month mark is teething. If your baby is suddenly fussy and seems in pain, and if he or she is waking too early from naps or waking more than usual at night, check for bumps and redness on the gums. Teething pain is usually short-lived, but if it’s becoming very disruptive, talk to a healthcare provider about how to alleviate the discomfort.

At 5 months old, your baby will be sleeping about 14 total hours each day: 11-12 hours at night, and 2-4 hours during the day, spread out over about 4 naps. The last nap of the day is likely more of a short catnap, which is normal at this age. Night feedings are still very normal at this age, too; many babies will still need 1-2 feedings at night. You can see a sample 5 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.


Week seven

It’s still too early for a strict schedule, but you might find that your baby has some feedings and sleep sessions that are pretty consistent. If so, that’s great! If not, don’t worry; in the next few weeks, we’ll talk about ways to build predictability into your child’s schedule.

This is also the time when some parents start seeing a predictable long(ish) stretch of sleep emerge at night. If this is happening in your home, then hallelujah…enjoy it! If it isn’t, don’t fret; you’re not alone! We’ll be sharing tips in the upcoming weeks that can help you get there.

As for sleep totals, you can continue to expect 14-17 hours total each day, although you may start seeing a bit more nighttime sleep at this point.

One year old!

Welcome to toddlerhood, parents!

That’s right—your adorable baby is now officially a toddler.

Fortunately for you, this doesn’t have much of an impact on sleep at this point; your 12 month old will still sleep about 13-14 total hours each day. You’ll most likely get 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, in 2 naps. You can see a sample toddler sleep and feeding schedule here.

At the 12-month mark, we do tend to see a little mini-nap regression. This is nowhere near as disruptive as the 4 month sleep regression, or the 8-10 month sleep regression, but it does have an impact. The 12 month nap regression happens when your toddler suddenly seems ready to give up the afternoon nap, and transition to just 1 nap during the day. Many parents notice that for several weeks, their 12 month old babies refuse one of their naps altogether. However, bear in mind that 12 months is a bit too early for most babies to transition to 1 nap; it’s usually better to wait out this regression and stick to offering 2 naps until your baby is about 15-18 months old. At that point, you can transition to offering just one afternoon nap. If you wait out this little “nap strike,” you will probably find that in a week or so, your 12 month old goes back to taking 2 naps without a fuss.


Emily DeJeu is a writer with The Baby Sleep Site, a leading resource helping mamas—and their babies—get their rest.


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The 4-month sleep regression is real.

The 4-month mark is a big milestone, because it marks the first (and usually the most disruptive and challenging) sleep regression of your baby’s life.

At 4 months of age, your baby undergoes some major brain developments that impact her sleeping patterns.

She becomes more aware of the world around her.

And simply put, at 4 months, your baby starts sleeping less like a baby and more like an adult.

This usually means that a baby who may have been sleeping fairly well is suddenly waking up every 20 minutes during the day, and almost as frequently at night.

There is really no “fix” for this 4-month sleep regression; these changes to your baby’s sleeping patterns are permanent.

But don’t despair. You CAN reclaim your nights by simply teaching your baby how to fall asleep without the use of any sleep associations, like rocking or feeding to sleep.

That process is called sleep coaching.

Four months is generally the earliest you should work on sleep coaching, and it’s best to use gentle, gradual methods at this young age.

By no means do you have to try sleep coaching—it’s not for everyone.

But if sleep is a real problem in your home, then sleep coaching can be a nice option.

Sleep coaching includes methods like putting baby to bed drowsy but not asleep, picking up your baby for a bit when she cries and then putting her back down, sitting in a chair to provide a reassuring presence, or even allowing baby limited time to cry-it-out. There is no one size fits all method for babies and families, you need to contemplate and test what works best for you. (For more details about how to implement each of these methods, see a brief overview here.)

As for sleep totals, you can expect about 14 to 15 hours total each day: 11 to 12 hours at night and three to four hours during the day spread out over four or five short naps.

Some babies are able to sleep eight straight hours or more at night by 4 months, but the large majority aren’t; one to three night feedings are still considered very normal at this age.

Your baby may be ready for a more by-the-clock schedule at this age, but many aren’t, so be flexible.

You can see a sample 4-month-old sleep and feeding schedule here.

Week two

Holy growth spurt, Batman!

Sometime over the next two weeks, your baby will start to show signs of his or her first big growth spurt. And it. is. a. DOOZIE for many parents.

Plan to park yourself on the couch and do some Netflix binge-watching, because that baby of yours is going to be eating. A LOT. During this growth spurt, it will feel like your baby wants to feed constantly for 24-48 hours. You’ll no doubt get alarmed (because this need-to-feed drive is so new and unexpected), but rest assured that it is normal.

As for sleep - sleep is essentially the same this week as it was last week. Look for 14-18 total hours of sleep. Most babies are still very sleepy at two weeks of age, and while you would no doubt like to see more active-and-alert time from your baby, don’t worry; that is coming. For now, be sure that your baby is feeding every 2-3 hours, if not more (for breastfeeding babies; formula-fed babies may be able to go slightly longer between feeds). If your baby has regained his or her birthweight, then one longer stretch of sleep is okay, but don’t hesitate to wake your baby from an overly-long sleeping session in order to get the appropriate number of feedings in, especially if you are breastfeeding.

For sample newborn sleep and feeding routines (for both breastfed and formula-fed babies), click here.

7 months old

At the 7-month mark, you can expect your baby to sleep about 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day, spread out over 3 naps.

These naps are likely becoming fairly predictable at this point, which means you can coordinate feedings around nap times. This is especially important because, by this stage, you have probably introduced solid food meals into your baby’s diet. For tips on how to coordinate feedings and naps, you can check out this sample 7 month old sleep and feeding schedule.

By 7 months of age, most babies are able to sleep 8 hours or more at night without feedings; however, your breastfed baby may still need 1 nighttime feeding, and this is perfectly fine. If your baby is still waking multiple times at night, however, it’s likely you have a sleep issue on your hands. If that nighttime waking is becoming problematic for your family, you may want to work on sleep coaching, if you haven’t already. Remember, it’s very normal for your child to wake between sleep cycles at night (even we adults do this), but if your baby is used to you putting him or her to sleep, via rocking or feeding or holding, then your child won’t be able to fall back to sleep without your help. That is the root cause of excessive nighttime waking, and that’s why some parents find it necessary to teach their babies how to fall asleep unassisted.

Week 10

Now that your baby is a little older, we can start to talk about ways to guide your little guy or little gal towards healthy sleep habits.

Keep in mind that 10 weeks old is early to do any “sleep training”; at this stage, we focus more on gentle techniques that can lay a foundation for healthy sleep as your child grows.

One gentle technique you can try is to lay your baby down drowsy but slightly awake for one or two naps during the day or at bedtime (not both). An eat-play-sleep cycle is helpful when you’re working on drowsy but awake: feed your baby, keep him or her up for a short playtime or tummy time, and then put your child down sleepy but still a little awake. At first, do this for just one or two naps - you don’t want your baby to get fussy and overtired. If it goes well, you can gradually do this more and more.

At 10 weeks old, your baby will still be sleeping about 14-16 hours total each day. Ideally, 9-10 of those hours will happen at night, with the remaining 5-6 hours divided up into naps throughout the day.

Week nine

By this point, you may be starting to wonder when (or possibly if!) your baby will sleep through the night. This is a natural question; with 2 months of sleep deprivation under your belt, it’s understandable that you’d want your sleep-filled nights back!

A few things to remember about this: the technical definition of “sleeping through the night” is 5 straight hours of sleep - so it’s possible that your baby already IS sleeping through the night! However, most moms define sleeping through the night as 8-12 hours of sustained sleep without feedings. If that is your goal, know that you will likely have to wait a few more months (at least) until you get to that point. At 9 weeks old, your baby will still need to feed several times during a 12-hour nighttime stretch. Hang in there, though….sleeping through the night WILL happen. We promise!

Speaking of sleep, you can expect sleep totals to stay at 14-16 total hours each day, with about 9 of those hours happening at night and the rest happening as naps throughout the day.

3 months old

Your baby is getting so big these days!

On average, your 3 month old baby will likely sleep 14-15 total hours day day: 10-11 hours at night, and 3-4 hours during the day. You may also notice that your baby’s sleep is starting to organize itself a little better; you may be getting one nice, long stretch of sleep at night, and you may find that your baby’s daytime sleep is sorting itself into a series of semi-predictable naps. If that’s happening in your home, congratulations! If it’s not, don’t worry - some babies take a bit longer to consolidate their sleep. Hang in there!

By the time your baby is 3 months old, you can (if you choose) continue your work on building healthy sleep habits by trying to lay your baby down drowsy but awake much of the time. You can also encourage longer stretches of sleep at night by offering plenty of daytime feedings. Just be careful not to keep your baby awake too much during the day; it may seem counterintuitive, but this can make your baby overly tired which will actually lead to less sleep at night, not more.

To see a sample 3 month old sleep and feeding schedule, click here.

Week 11

If you’ve been working on healthy sleep routines for your baby, then you’re going to like this week’s news! 

By the 11-week mark, you baby is ready for a more predictable bedtime and bedtime routine. The actual timing of bedtime should be flexible, but in general, it should fall somewhere between 8 and 10 p.m. Having an official bedtime is the first step in differentiating nighttime sleep and daytime sleep, which will become important as your baby grows.

Along with carving out a bedtime, you’ll want to start implementing a bedtime routine. Your routine should be relatively short (most young babies get overtired if the bedtime routine is too long), and it should consist of a few relaxing, sleepy activities, like singing a lullaby and reading a simple bedtime story. You may want to skip an evening bath as part of your routine; while some babies find baths soothing, others tend to get riled up during baths, which is counterproductive at bedtime.

At 11 weeks old, your baby will still be sleeping about 14-16 hours total each day - about 10 hours at night, and 4-6 hours during the day.

Week four

The name of the game this week is day-night confusion.

This term is just what it sounds like - newborns who struggle with day-night confusion have their days and nights reversed, and are sleeping all day and feeding all night. While some day-night reversal is understandable in the first week or two after birth, by the four week mark, it can feel downright excruciating!

Fortunately, this problem is fixable. You can start by feeding your baby regularly during the day, and feeding in a brightly-lit room. You may even want to have your child nap during the day in a sunny room. Exposing your newborn to sunlight during the day will go far to help reset your baby’s inner clock. After daytime feedings, keep your baby up for a few minutes: do a diaper change, read a book, have some tummy time, etc. Conversely, keep nighttime feedings dark and quiet, and put your baby right back to bed after you feed. Do this for a week, and you should start to see improvement.

Sleep totals at the 4-week mark should remain around 14-17 total hours each day, and at this stage, sleep continues to be more cyclical than scheduled. Ideally, once you sort out day-night confusion, sleep totals will be pretty evenly split between day and night.

8 months old

Get ready, mama - another sleep regression is on its way! You may still be feeling scarred from the 4 month regression, but don’t worry: while the 8-10 month regression is tough, it’s not permanent. Within a few weeks, all should be back to normal.

So what is the 8-10 month regression? Well, at some point between 8 months and 10 months of age, your baby will go through a significant developmental leap - his or her mobility will just explode! But while this newfound mobility is exciting, developmental leaps like this wreak havoc on sleep. You’ll likely find that your baby suddenly reverts to taking short naps and to waking more than usual at night. Separation anxiety is also a part of this sleep regression; your baby may suddenly seem super clingy and wail loudly every time you leave the room, making naps and bedtime a nightmare.

Fortunately, the worst of this regression should be over in a few weeks. While the regression is happening, do your best to offer plenty of comfort to your baby without creating any new sleep habits you’ll have to undo later.

You can expect your 8 month old to sleep about 14 total hours each day: 11-12 hours at night and 3 hours during the day, spread out over 2-3 naps. If your 8 month old takes 2 naps, each should be at least an hour long; if your baby still needs a 3rd nap, it will no doubt be a short (30 minutes or so) catnap in the later afternoon. You can see a sample 8 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

Week six

The 6-week mark is full of good things - by now, your baby may be starting to smile and make more eye contact!

But there is also a challenge at this point: 6 weeks brings a peak of fussiness. Around 6 weeks, newborns are outgrowing their “sleepy” state and begin to perk up and notice the world. And while this is a good thing, it can also be overwhelming and can cause noticeable—and uncharacteristic—fussiness.

Even worse, this peak of fussiness can also overlap with the growth spurt that happens between 4 and 6 weeks, which can make the crying even worse. The good news is that this “peak of fussiness” is relatively short-lived, and things should return to normal within a few days to a week.

Sleep totals are 14-17 hours total for the day, with sleep still happening in eating-sleeping cycles, rather than in clearly-defined naps and night sleep.

Sleep may actually feel like it’s falling apart around the 6-week mark, due to the peak of fussiness; know that this is normal, and that once you’re over this developmental hurdle, sleep will likely improve.

Week five

It’s that time again—time to be on the lookout for another growth spurt!

At some point between about 4.5 and 6 weeks old, your newborn will have another big burst of growth, so again, be prepared to camp out in a comfy spot and feed your baby for what feels like forever. Be prepared also for an extra-sleepy baby….even if your baby was beginning to seem a bit more awake and alert before this growth spurt, he or she will probably seem extra sleepy again for a day or two.

Sleep totals are still hovering around 14-17 hours per day, with sleep happening in cycles. However, by the 5-week mark, you may begin seeing a longer stretch of sleep emerge (hopefully at night!), especially if your baby is formula-fed all or part of the time.

Having a baby is a wonderful blur of sleepless nights and smooch-filled days. We’ve got your expert guide to helping baby (and mama) get their ZZzzs during those long days and nights. You’ve got this, mama. ?

Week one

You’ve probably heard this about a million times by now, but let us say it again—congratulations on your new baby!

By now, you are likely home from the hospital and still reveling in your soft, snuggly, darling wee babe.

Your baby’s sleep, however, may be less darling. As you’ve probably begun to notice, your newborn’s sleep is nothing at all like yours. Newborn babies tend to sleep in short cycles, waking frequently to feed and then drifting off to sleep again. This is absolutely normal. In fact, your 1-week old baby needs to feed often in order to gain weight and grow properly. Remember, your newborn will ideally get back to his or her birthweight by the 1-week mark, so it’s important to feed around the clock at this stage.

At 1 week old, your baby will sleep about 14-18 hours a day, on average. At this age, sleep isn’t really divided up into “naps” during the day; instead, think of your baby’s sleep in terms of patterned cycles.

It’s normal at this age for some cycles to be short (30-45 minutes of sleep, then a feeding, then 30 minutes of sleep, etc.).

At this point, don’t worry too much about how your baby is sleeping—your goal in week one should be to get acquainted with your newborn, to figure out the basics of infant care, and (most importantly) to enjoy your precious baby!

11 months old

At 11 months old, your baby will sleep about 13-14 hours each day.

You can expect 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, spread out over 2 naps. You may find that your baby’s appetite for solid foods is increasing these days; this is normal (most likely because your child is moving around a whole lot more these days!).

You can compensate for this increase in appetite by offering several healthy snacks throughout the day. Timing up these snacks around your child’s usual mealtimes can really help ensure that naps stay nice and long, and that your baby doesn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.

Learn more by checking out this sample 11 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

6 months old

By the time your baby is 6 months old, sleep will most likely have consolidated into 3-4 distinct naps, with each nap being about 1 hour long and any 3rd or 4th nap being about 30 minutes long. By this age, the majority of your baby’s sleep should be happening at night (11-12 hours).

If your child is still struggling with short naps at this age, it’s likely you need to work on teaching your baby how to fall asleep independently, without any sleep associations like rocking or feeding. Short naps at this age usually happen when a baby wakes briefly between sleep cycles during the nap (something that is very normal and developmentally-appropriate) but then is unable to fall back to sleep without your help. If you notice your baby always wakes 20-30 minutes after falling asleep at nap time, this is likely the problem. Correcting this short nap issue can go a long way towards helping your baby naturally adopt a predictable, clock-based schedule. You can see a sample 6 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

As for nighttime waking, keep in mind that while some babies are sleeping through the night by 6 months, others aren’t, and that’s okay. Formula-fed babies are usually sleeping 8 hours or more at night by this point, but breastfed babies may continue to need 1-2 nighttime feedings.

10 months old

Good news: if you haven’t yet worked on sleep coaching your baby, and if short naps and nighttime waking are still a problem, this is another ideal time to work on healthy sleep habits.

By now, the 8-10 month regression is likely over (thankfully!). And while you may have felt reluctant to work on sleeping habits earlier, when your baby was young, by this point, you can trust that your baby is more than ready, developmentally, to sleep through the night (possibly with 1 feeding) and take long, restorative naps. Again, by no means do you have to sleep coach; if your child’s night waking and shortened naps aren’t really a problem for you, or for your baby, then no worries - keep doing what you’re doing! But if sleep deprivation is taking a toll on your family’s health and happiness, then sleep coaching can help resolve that issue.

At 10 months old, your baby will sleep 13-14 total hours, most likely. You can expect 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, spread out over 2 naps. You can see a sample 10 month sleep and feeding schedule here.

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Creating your baby registry is one of the most exciting getting-ready-for-baby tasks a mama takes part in (other than, you know, growing a life). But even though sorting through adorably teeny this and itsy bitsy that can be loads of fun, that doesn't change the fact that there are SO many products from which to choose—not to mention slight variations in version for each. And how do parents know if you even need that *very specific* item to begin with, since each baby's likes are so different? It helps to have an expert guiding you through the what's-actually-worth-it process, whether it's veteran parents in your life who will likely offer up suggestions, or stores like buybuy BABY that handpick the must-have options and make registry building super easy for you.

From strollers to car seats and swings (because you'll definitely be needing a swing at some point), here are our top picks for first-time parents of the items you'll be glad you put on your baby registry, trust us.

UPPAbaby VISTA stroller

UPPAbaby VISTA stroller

The best recommendation is the one from someone you trust and if you ask around, it won't take long for you to learn that UPPAbaby® is one of the most beloved stroller brands by new and seasoned moms alike. The VISTA is their crème de la crème, and it comes with all sorts of high quality features (think an ultra-sturdy frame and all-wheel suspension to help absorb all those bumps on the road) that will keep your babe comfortable no matter where your walk takes you. Plus, it comes in a bunch of great colors and transitions to a double as your family grows.

$959.99

Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat

ChiccoKeyFitcarseat

When it comes to keeping your little one safe, a car seat is probably the most important piece of gear you'll buy. While you'll hopefully never need to test it out, the KeyFit® seat keeps your little peanut extra secure with things like side impact protection—plus, thanks to handy bubble indicators, installing it correctly doesn't require a rocket scientist[JS9] . It's all about making your life easier while helping you breathe easier, too!

$199.99

4moms mamaRoo classic infant seat

4momsmamaRooswing

All hail the infant swing 🙌. Whether your cute new bundle is generally calm or has more of a defiant streak, chances are there'll be a time when you need some hands-free soothing. Enter the mamaRoo, a beyond useful swing that looks as cozy as it is. Strap the nugget in, choose one of five distinct motion patterns, and let yourself enjoy that moment of solitude on the couch (without leaving baby unsupervised, of course).

$219.19

HALO Bassinest premier series swivel sleeper

HALOsleeper

Being a new mom is all about snuggles and, if we're being honest, surviving those sleepless nights. And since the American Association of Pediatrics' current recommendation is to have your baby sleep in your room for at least the first 6 months of life anyway, why not have your little one spend his or her early nights snoozing in a bedside bassinet to save some time in the middle of the night? The HALO Bassinest is designed to nuzzle right up next to your bed, too, so you won't even have to get out from under the comforter during those 3am feedings.

Graco Table2Table premier fold 7-in1 convertible high chair

Gracohighchair

Spoiler alert: Your little babe is going to grow up fast. While it may seem like they'll be in that just-learning-how-to-eat phase forever, they'll outgrow the full-fledged high chair in a blink. While you can definitely buy a variety of different seating apparatuses for them, you can also buy one that'll last with your growing baby. With seven different configurations ranging from an infant reclining high chair to a toddler table and little chair, this is the only one you'll ever need.

$169.99

Fisher-Price 4-in-1 sling 'n seat bath tub

Fisher-Pricebath

Bath time is arguably one of the cutest elements of parenthood. So rather than concentrating on holding your slippery little baby safely in the sink while also, you know, washing them, do yourself a favor and invest in an infant tub with an adjustable sling. It'll help make the bonding time fun of bath time more secure so you can focus on enjoying those beautiful sudsy moments.

$39.99

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine night light + time-to-rise

HatchBabyRestsoundmachine

Technology has brought us a lot of advantages, but one of the best? The ability to comfort your little one without ever leaving bed. The Hatch Baby Rest offers sound- and light-control from your smartphone so you can use the power of noise to help them back to sleep if they fuss in the middle of the night without requiring you to drag your tired self out of bed. Plus, when the toddler years come around, it doubles as a time-to-rise clock so that ball of energy knows when it's appropriate to barrel into your room.

$59.99

Fridababy baby basics kit

fridababybasics

Fridababy has made a name for itself with its cheeky (but incredibly practical) products like the congestion-fighting NoseFrida® and the less-than-pleasant Windi. With this basics bundle, you can get four of their most popular—for nose, behind, scalp and nails—in one convenient package. It's not glamorous, mamas, but it's parenting at its finest.

$39.99

Graco 4Ever all-in-one convertible car seat

Gracocarseat

Whether or not you choose to purchase an infant car seat for the first months, you will eventually need a convertible car seat as your kiddo gets bigger, and the best options will grow with them. The Graco® 4Ever All-in-1 accommodates children up to 40 pounds facing backwards and up to 65 pounds facing forward. Plus, it can be used as a booster seat up through the age of 10. One less thing to buy until then, mama!

Skip*Hop explore + more 3-stage activity center

SkipHopActivityCenter

Insider parenting tip: Invest in a few great toys that serve as a great way to help your baby learn and explore and stay safe (read: unable to crawl away when you turn your head for a split second). An activity center serves both of those purposes—keeps them entertained and contained fabulously. Even better, the SKIP*HOP® Explore & More 3-Stage has an extra-long shelf life as it converts to an activity table when they outgrow the harness. Plus, there's a snack bowl attachment, and as every mama knows, snacks mean victory.

$129.99

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

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At Motherly we know that mothers can and do balance business needs with the needs of their children every day. We do it every day, and we know that mothers at other companies are doing it every day, too—but this balancing act often isn't talked about.

This week a COO and father, Seth Morales, went viral for drawing attention to how hard his wife, and all working moms, work outside of regular business hours and outside offices.

Morales posted a photo of his wife comforting their child in a hospital bed, writing, "I took this picture of my wife and son this morning. Too often working moms don't get enough credit. I'm sharing this because I want people to know it's possible. You can be great at work and at home."

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He continues: "But sacrifices need to be made before/after normal working hours. The idea of working 40+ hours in the office isn't realistic. You'd be surprised at how productive my wife is from her smartphone while running errands. But she constantly thinks she's falling short with everything. Balancing life is messy and difficult. For all you working parents out there please have grace for yourself, it's a process."

Morales is right about many things: 40 hours of butt-in-seat office work is not realistic for many parents. Our kids have needs Monday through Friday, 9-5 that we need to be there for sometimes. Clearly, Morales' child was in need of medical attention and that's the kind of thing that parents need to be able to give their attention to, whether it happens during regular business hours or not. And Morales is also right that parents are making sacrifices, working before and after traditional office hours and making the most of small pockets of time. It sound like Morales' wife is multitasking a lot of time time, running her work from her "smartphone while running errands."

It's great that this powerful COO is sharing the struggles that working parents face and that a working mother's spouse is recognizing her efforts on a personal level. But we would challenge partners like Morales: If you see your partner trying so hard to do everything and feeling like she's never doing enough, perhaps it is time to ask yourself if YOU are doing enough.

Research shows that among heterosexual couples, women simply do more of the unpaid work of child-rearing than men do, and it hurts our careers, our families and our relationships (and that if men did just 50 minutes more labor at home every day we could close the gender gap.)

We would also challenge business leaders like Morales: If you see your employees are making the sacrifices that he mentions here, working before and after working hours and feeling like they are merely surviving, not thriving, maybe your culture needs to catch up with the needs of employees.

And finally, we challenge any working mother who "constantly thinks she's falling short with everything" to drop some balls and delegate at home. Get the store-bought muffins and share the load of managing your family load with your partner.

Morales is right, we can be great at work and at home, but not if we're not supported at work and at home.

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Sometimes it's hard for kids (and adults) to understand things that can't see. That's why some creative teachers are using bread to show kids just how germy their hands can get.

"We did a science project in class this last month as flu season was starting. We took fresh bread and touched it. We did one slice untouched. One with unwashed hands. One with hand sanitizer. One with washed hands with warm water and soap. Then we decided to rub a piece on all our classroom Chromebooks," teacher Jaralee Annice Metcalf writes in a now-viral Facebook post.

When the bread was left in sealed plastic bags the slices that had been exposed to more bacteria via laptops and unwashed hands grew the most mold.

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The bread that had been rubbed on those Chromebooks might be the grossest piece of bread we've ever seen, and really underscores Jaralee's point: "As somebody who is sick and tired of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Wash your hands! Remind your kids to wash their hands! And hand sanitizer is not an alternative to washing hands!"

The CDC agrees with this elementary school teacher: Handwashing reduces the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illnesses (basically the bugs kids seem to be magnets for) so it's a good idea to teach kids to do it properly and often.

Jaralee isn't the first teacher to go viral for incorporating this experiment into her classroom and she probably won't be the last. Full instructions for this project are listed on the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital website and are easy to replicate at home.

Her Facebook post has been criticized by people questioning the conditions of her experiment, but as she notes on her Facebook page, they're kind of missing the point: "We are an elementary school. Not a fancy CDC lab, so relax a little and WASH YOUR HANDS."

It's good advice from a caring teacher and a reminder to wash our hands (and sanitize our laptops!)

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Whether you have a child in a Montessori school or you are just looking for cool gifts that encourage creative, independent play, we've got you covered. We found the most Montessori-friendly gifts available on Amazon and they won't break the bank—win-win.

While they aren't the hottest toys of the moment, they'll last you a lot longer than a trendy product. Here, you'll find handpicked quality and non-tech gifts like marble runs, interlocking discs and iconic board books, that'll stimulate simple, open-ended play. Perfect to share with family members looking for gifts that don't involve a screen.

Here are our favorite Montessori-inspired gifts under $50 found on Amazon:

TT.Remax Montessori munari mobile

TT.Remax Montessori munari mobile

The Montessori mobiles were designed specifically to engage infants in each developmental stage. This one is the first mobile in the series and is meant for newborns which is why it features black and white images.

Age: 3-6 months

$13.99

Kiddison Montessori kicking ball cotton

Kiddison Montessori kicking ball cotton

This handmade ball is perfect for Montessori babies because it is easy for them to hold and rolls slowly, providing just the right amount of challenge for babies learning to scoot and crawl. It also has a soft jingle that babies love.

Age: 1-2 years old

$15.99

Melissa & Doug rainbow stacker

Melissa & Doug rainbow stacker

This ring stacker is made from durable and child-safe wood, rather than plastic, and is simple in design, perfect for a screen-free play experience for babies 18 months and up.

Age: 18 months+

$7.97

Global Babies board book

Global Babies board book

Montessori focuses a lot on world peace and learning about different cultures. This beautiful board book is a perfect introduction. Spanish and English words teach the littlest readers that everywhere on earth, babies are special and loved.

Age: 1-3 years old

$5.99

EOFEEL Montessori interlocking discs

EOFEEL Montessori interlocking discs

These interlocking discs are a good example of a Montessori toy designed to isolate one specific skill—in this case, a baby's ability to transfer something from one hand to the other. It's ideal for building fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and inspiring babies to explore the world.

Age: 12 months+

$6.99

Elite Montessori object permanence box

Elite Montessori object permanence box

This Montessori toy helps babies explore the concept that just because they can't see something, it doesn't mean it's gone. With repeated use of this material, the child learns how it feels to succeed when they have achieved a goal on their own.

Age: 1-10 years old

$22.99

Elite Montessori infant coin box

Elite Montessori infant coin box

This is a more advanced baby toy to help babies further explore object permanence and work on fine motor skills.

Age: 12 months+

$21.99

Sunny Days Entertainment adventure play tunnel

Sunny Days Entertainment adventure play tunnel

Movement and gross motor development are a big part of Montessori and this tunnel can be used indoors or outdoors, encouraging babies and toddlers to keep moving even on the coldest days. When not in use, it folds flat for easy storage and quick portability.

Age: 3-12 years old

$14.39

Helen Oxenbury Baby love: a board book gift set

Helen Oxenbury Baby love: a board book gift set

Montessori books for babies and young children focus on the real world. These little board books depict babies doing things like clapping and saying goodnight, real life events babies can relate to.

Age: 1-4 years old

$9.99

Five Color Lines mini band musical instruments

Five Color Lines mini band musical instruments

While Montessori toys do not feature electronic sounds, instruments that allow babies and toddlers to create their own music are perfect!

Age: 5 years+

$33.99

Schleich north america farm world starter set

Schleich North America Farm World Starter Set

While many Montessori toys are made from natural materials rather than plastic, Schleich animals make the cut because they are highly realistic and to scale, supporting the Montessori ideal of helping young children to learn about the real world through their play.

Age: 3-8 years old

$19.92

JC Toys Berenguer doll newborn gift set

JC Toys Berenguer doll newborn gift set

Providing toddlers with realistic toys like this baby doll or realistic play food supports their exploration of everyday life through pretend play. The 8-piece layette gift set includes short-sleeve bodysuit, short-sleeve t-shirt, a pair of booties, hat, cloth diaper, diaper cover and hospital bracelet.

Age: 2-10 years old

$24.49

TickiT wooden fruit + vegetable match

TickiT Wooden Fruit + Vegetable Match

Montessori classrooms use matching work, like this one, to help young children refine visual discrimination to prepare for reading, as well as to introduce vocabulary. We love that the chunky tiles are easy for small hands to grip, rotate and turn over.

Age: 12 months+

$41.74

Star Right heads + tails animal match puzzle

Star Right heads + tails animal match puzzle

Part of the magic of Montessori is matching a child with just the right level of challenge. This beginner jigsaw puzzle does just that, as you can give a child one puzzle at a time if they're just starting out, or three or four puzzles if they've mastered completing one.

Age: 2 months-2 years old

$8.99

Guidecraft jr. rainbow blocks

Guidecraft jr. rainbow blocks

Blocks of all kinds are in line with Montessori's emphasis on exploration and child-led learning and play. Use this toy when helping kids with hand-eye coordination, visual perception, color exploration or light table activities.

Age: 2-7 months

$24.95

Gabrielle Balkan The book of bones: 10 record-breaking animals

Gabrielle Balkan The book of bones: 10 record-breaking animals

The Book of Bones is the perfect addition to a Montessori library because it provides rich detail about the world in a straightforward, beautiful way. Little readers can examine animals' skeletons and guess to whom they belong; the answers are revealed in humorous explanations.

Age: 7-10 years old

$14.85

ECOOPRO elecfly kids microscope

ECOOPRO elecfly kids microscope

Young children are all about exploring their world and a microscope is the perfect tool for a budding young scientist. It's built-in three different color filters and the rotating wheel saves you from having to stain slides.

Age: 5 years+

$43.99

Kidz Xplore outdoor explorer nature exploration kit

Kidz Xplore outdoor explorer nature exploration kit

Montessori schools often include an outdoor classroom, encouraging children to spend as much time as possible in nature. This outdoor explorer set helps get kids learning outside!

Age: 5-10 years old

$25.97

Thoth Montessori wooden mathematical manipulative material block board

Thoth Montessori wooden mathematical manipulative material block board

Rubber band boards are often used in Montessori classrooms to encourage children to explore geometry, while also working on fine motor skills and concentration. Kids will also learn all types of 2D shapes and concepts around fractions.

Age: 3 years+

$14.99

National Geographic balance stepping stones

National Geographic balance stepping stones

These stepping stones are in line with the Montessori philosophy of encouraging children to use their bodies as well as their minds—these make a great indoor gross motor activity!

Age: 3 years+

$49.99

Fajiabao Montessori logic games slide puzzle board

Fajiabao Montessori logic games slide puzzle board

In Montessori, children work with patterns to encourage early math skills. This toy encourages children to work with patterns in a fun way. The one side of sliding blocks printed with four kinds of shapes and five-pointed star. Matching the different shaped blocks helps kids identify different geometric puzzles.

Age: 3 years+

$14.99

MEROCO Montessori screwdriver board

MEROCO Montessori screwdriver board

Developing real life skills is a big part of Montessori for young kids. Why not let them practice with a real screwdriver instead of a pretend one?

Age: 3 years+

$26.99

Ravensburger solar system jigsaw puzzle

Ravensburger solar system jigsaw puzzle

In Montessori, elementary aged kids are busy exploring the big questions of the universe as they begin to think more abstractly. This type of beautiful and realistic puzzle supports that interest in science while building skills like concentration and creativity.

Age: 8-15 years old

$12.99

DK dinosaur book

DK dinosaur book

Montessori elementary classrooms spend a lot of time studying early history, including prehistoric times as this is a huge interest of many children this age. This dinosaur book is a great way to encourage their curiosity!

Age: 4-7 years old

$20.69

Blue Orange Photosynthesis strategy board game

Blue Orange Photosynthesis strategy board game

Many Montessori classrooms for older kids begin incorporating more group work as social interactions and relationships are so important to this age group. Board games are a great way to support social skills like taking turns and winning or losing gracefully. Kids will love going through the life-cycle of trees and earn points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun's rays.

Age: 8 years+

$29.99

NEX sewing machine

NEX sewing machine

Montessori continues to support teaching practical life skills with older children and a sewing machine can be a really rewarding gift as a child experiences the pride of making his or her own clothes. The simple on/off control button and foot pedal make it great for little ones.

Age: 10 years+

$27.99

Hape quadrilla wooden marble run

Hape quadrilla wooden marble run

A wooden marble run is a perfect Montessori toy because it's made of natural materials and encourages creativity and problem solving skills. The marble run can also be leveled or built up with add-ons for more advanced builders.

Age: 4-15 years old

$42.52

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A month before Christmas the brakes on my 15-year-old sedan started making a strange noise. The bill at the auto shop came to $2,400. That's a lot of money for my family. My Christmas shopping list was immediately slashed, the vacation we'd been planning for the new year (our first real vacation ever) drifted further into the future.

Every day I look at my family and I think about how lucky we are. Our son is healthy and that is priceless. We have a modest home filled with everything we need and wiggle room for some little luxuries (hello Starbucks and Disney+). And importantly, in an area where unemployment is steadily climbing (and with a spouse who is about to be out of work) I still have a job.

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But when that $2,400 bill came my usual gratitude was overtaken by resentment. Because as much as I appreciate what we have, I resent how much our culture is focused on the aspirational when for so many of us, even average seems unattainable.

I resent the fact that I am still paying off my student loans.

I resent how incomes haven't risen with housing costs.

I resent how childcare costs eat so much of my income.

But mostly I just resent how society is squeezing parents for every dollar while simultaneously shaming us for not having enough of them.

So to the mama who wishes she had a bigger budget for her kids' Christmas presents, I see you. I know that you're trying so hard and your kids know it, too. Please know that the magic of Christmas is not in the cost, it's in the memories. Please give yourself the gift of a guilt-free Christmas.

To the mama who is working overtime and picking up side gigs, I see you. I see your hustle, your ambition and your love for your family, and this Christmas I want you to try to give yourself a break. Even just a small one, because even mamas are human and you need to rest, too.

To the mama who is running a household on only her partner's income, I see you. I know it can feel impossible (that's because it nearly is). I also know you are supporting your spouse in their career because that's what is best for your family right now. I know that you are working so hard at home and that sometimes it feels like one income isn't enough. Please give yourself credit for all the unpaid labor you are doing.

To the mama who can rely only on her own income, I see you. You're solo parenting, you're the sole provider, and you are amazing. You are strong. You are bearing so much responsibility and I want you to know that you are more than enough for your children.

To the mama who can't afford to live where she wants to, I see you. Maybe you always dreamed of raising your kids in the big city, but economic realities have relocated you to a far-flung suburb. I see you out there, doing what is best for your family on a budget smaller than you'd like, in a city smaller than you'd like. Mama, know that you are a gift to your community.

To the mama struggling to pay for IVF: I see you. And I see how bad you want this. I want it for you, too. I wish you didn't have to turn to loans and credit cards and crowdfunding for this. Please know that motherhood takes many forms and be gentle with yourself this season.

To the mama struggling to pay off a birth: I see you. And I'm angry for you. I am so angry and perplexed by a system that would bill new parents astronomical sums at a time in their lives when they can least afford it. Giving birth should not put people into debt.

To the mama who has reached her limit, I see you. When you're waiting for payday, every minute seems like forever. When your card is declined at the checkout that moment lasts a lifetime. Please, accept help if you need it. There is kindness in the world for you.

To the mama using SNAP or visiting the food bank this season, I see you. And I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you for navigating this challenging time in your life because figuring out how to do this isn't easy. I'm proud of you for being such a good mother and making sure that your kids have nutritious food.

To the mama getting help from her family, I see you. It can be hard to accept help from your parents when you are a parent yourself, but please do try to see it as a gift. They love you so much that they want to support you, and you can honor that by seeing yourself as worthy of support.

To the mama who is not getting help from her family, I see you. It can be painful to watch your friends and acquaintances get financial help from their families when yours is not in a position to do the same. It's human to be envious when someone's dad gives them a down payment, but the best gift you can give yourself is to focus on your own kids and non-financial gifts you are giving them every day.

To the mama who feels like her life doesn't live up to Instagram, I see you. I understand the pain of scrolling through social media, wondering why it seems like everyone else has a nice home and can take their kids on vacation when you can't. Give yourself the gift of unfollowing or turning off social media.

To the mama who feels like she'll never get out of student loan debt, I see you, I am you, and I can tell you there's hope. For years my student loans have kept me down. They are the reason I am driving a 15-year-old, money pit of a car in the first place. But by the end of 2019 they will finally, mercifully be paid off. Most of the student debt in America is held by women. This is an issue impacting a generation of mothers. You are not alone.
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