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So your toddler is ready to move into her own bed. Everyone is excited except now, instead of rolling over and falling asleep, your toddler comes out every two minutes to find you. All evening long. The next day, she’s a basket case because she’s so exhausted.


Welcome to the toddler bed. Kids love the newfound freedom, and they can’t help but test the limits. Being all by themselves with no sides can feel very scary, so how can you get them to form the new habit of falling asleep in their big-kid bed without you losing your mind?

Going into this transition is a big move for your child. Naturally, it makes them insecure. They need your support to learn how to go to sleep in their big-kid bed. Sure, it comes naturally to you. But you've been doing it for many years. To your toddler, this is a new skill.

Don’t expect to have much of an evening for a week or so. Then, just stay calm and keep reinforcing the limit that it’s bedtime. Here’s how:


1. Before you make the big transition, be sure your child has a regular bedtime routine. Then follow that exact routine when they move to their new bed.

2. Get them excited before you get the new bed. Introduce the subject by pointing out any friends or cousins with “big kid” beds. Reading books is also a terrific way to introduce the idea (there are links at the end of this article to some good books to check out).

3. Don’t initiate the transition from the crib while they are potty training, or when you’re moving to a new house. It might seem easiest not to move the crib, but that’s more change than most little people can handle all at once, and you’ll find it just isn’t worth it.

4. If you’re transitioning your child to make room in the crib for a new sibling, be sure the move occurs a good three months before you expect the new baby. You want your toddler to be happy in their new bed before they see an interloper in their crib. If your child is not really ready to leave their crib, you can save all of you a lot of grief by borrowing a second crib for awhile, until they’re ready.

5. It’s a good idea if the toddler bed can be in the same place where the crib was.
If your kids will be sharing the room, move the crib to a new place in the room if you can.

6. If at all possible, let your child pick the bed. If someone is giving or loaning you a toddler bed, stress to your child that she gets Cousin Jane’s bed now, because they are almost as big as Cousin Jane. When the bed is delivered, let your child help unpack and assemble it.

7. If you're using a regular twin bed, start off with the mattress on the floor—rather than on a bed frame—for both safety and coziness. You can add the bed frame in a couple of years.

8. Make their new bed cozy, like a little den. It’s important to make sure you use as many things from the crib as possible (blankets, for instance) so that they feel comfortable in the new bed. It’s fine to let them pick out new superhero sheets, but their crib blanket is what they’ll need most. Most kids love being surrounded by stuffed animals.

Be sure to use guardrails; in addition to being safer, they help kids feel more secure, so they’re less likely to keep getting out of bed.

9. If your bedtime routine does not include an audio element, consider adding it. Many toddlers fall asleep more easily while listening to familiar, calming music. Over time, as soon as they hear the music, it will become a cue for their body to begin settling into sleepiness.

Depending on the age of your child, there are also wonderful bedtime story and relaxation audios, but you'll need to read reviews and listen in advance to be sure they're age appropriate. The great thing about a story, even one that's repeated every night, is that it keeps your child's attention so they don’t get worried and keep coming to find you.

10. Before the big night, act out the scenario with stuffed animals. Your toddler will watch avidly as the little elephant kisses mama or daddy goodnight and snuggles under the covers in their own bed. Have the parent stuffy sing the little elephant the same good night songs you sing to your little one. This will help them understand what's going to happen.

11. On the big night, initiate bedtime an hour earlier than usual. Explain to your child that they are going to sleep in the big bed tonight. Go through the normal bedtime routine. What you do next depends on your child.

Some kids can handle it if you sit in the doorway of the room, reading with a book light, while they fall asleep. But most kids need us to sit right next to them, on the bed. That way they feel your presence acutely, which will give them great reassurance.

Of course, if you need to cuddle them so they feel safe enough to fall asleep, by all means, do so. They don’t need to get out of bed to find you, so they’ll develop the habit of snuggling down and going to sleep, rather than of getting out of bed to look for you.

12. If they try to engage you in conversation, just say, “We’ll talk tomorrow. It’s sleep time now.” Keep your attitude positive, respectful, and detached. Be boring and consistent.

13. If they start to get out of bed, say, "It's bedtime, you need to stay in bed." Move closer so you can gently keep them in bed if they begin to get up. Stay calm, respectful, and empathic, as in, “It’s a big change, sleeping in your new bed. Soon you’ll be used to it.” But don’t let them get out of bed. You don’t want them developing that habit. Stay as close to the bed as you need to, to start. This eases the transition and lets your child learn to fall asleep in the new bed.

Are you developing a bad habit? No. This is a transition, and you will be able to ease out of it once your child is comfortable in the bed.

14. If your child cries, comfort them. Some children are very frightened of their parent leaving and will cling to you. In that case, remind yourself that this fear needs expression, and don't leave your child alone to cry. Instead, when they begin to cry, stay with them and let them cry as much as they need to. As they begin to stop, let them know that now you'll be leaving. In other words, you don't actually ever leave them crying. You simply remind them that you'll be leaving, and then help them with the anxiety that surfaces. Stay as close as you need to, to comfort them—and move only as far away as you need to so that their fear comes up. After they "show you" their fear, it will evaporate. Yes, that may take a few days, but sooner or later they will no longer be frightened when you say you need to leave.

Is this sleep training? It would be more accurate to say that your child is having a hard time separating from you to fall asleep, so you are helping them to surface and dissolve the fears that are causing their separation anxiety.

Notice that you never leave them alone to cry. Instead, you announce your plan to leave and then help your child through their fearful reaction. Anxiety—another word for fear—is often at the root of children’s sleep issues. While there is nothing at all wrong with a toddler sharing their parents’ bed, children who can understand what you are telling them are certainly capable of sleeping alone, once they get some help with their fears.

15. Give lots of positive acknowledgment when your child does fall asleep in their own bed without trying to get out, and even for progress in the right direction. You can say, "I noticed that I only had to remind you twice to stay in bed last night. You must be so proud of yourself. Soon you will feel so good in your new bed that you'll be able to snuggle right down and go to sleep all by yourself!"

16. If you’ve been lying on the bed until your child falls asleep, gradually move yourself over so you're just holding hands and sitting in a chair. Then, stop holding their hand. Then, move your chair further away until you’re sitting in the doorway. This could take you a month, or it might just be a week.

17. If your little one has a hard time falling asleep night after night, consider the possibility that they’re over-tired from falling asleep later than usual, and move their bedtime earlier.

Toddlers have to pump themselves full of cortisol and adrenaline to stay up later than usual, and that makes it harder to fall asleep. Oddly enough, an earlier bedtime usually solves the problem when the child is just too wound-up to relax. Another helpful thing to try: roughhousing. Not right before bed, because it winds up the child, but earlier, before dinner or bath.

Laughter reduces the stress hormones circulating in the body and helps the child relax at bedtime.

18. Within a few days of your sitting in the doorway, your child will be falling asleep without trying to get out of bed, and you can begin leaving for a few minutes, and then for longer periods of time. Just say you'll be right back, and keep checking back. It helps to leave the chair in place, like a sentinel, to reassure your child if they look for you.

19. If your toddler just can’t seem to fall asleep, you might consider letting them take books (not toys) to bed with them. If you have a nightlight or enough light from the hall, they can "read" themselves to sleep. Lots of adults need to read a bit before they fall asleep. It isn't such a bad habit for your child to develop, as long as they actually fall asleep. Just be sure the light is very dim, so it doesn't keep them up.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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