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10 ways tech makes life easier for new parents

I needed to talk to my mom, I needed to chat with my friends, I needed advice from an expert, I needed to buy more diapers! My phone allowed me to do all these things (mostly) in silence, one-handed, at all hours of the day and night.

10 ways tech makes life easier for new parents

I didn't expect parenthood would rekindle my relationship with—of all things—my phone. But there I was, with a tiny human attached to me for countless hours a day, my mind swirling with tasks to be done and questions about how to ensure my baby's safety and health.

I needed to talk to my mom, I needed to chat with my friends, I needed advice from an expert, I needed to buy more diapers! My phone allowed me to do all these things (mostly) in silence, one-handed, at all hours of the day and night. Before you say anything, yes, I spent tons of time tech-free, just breathing in that baby smell.

But I also embraced the wealth of stress-reducing resources that make parenting a little bit easier. Hopefully they'll help you, too.

Keep track of all the details.

  • Sprout Baby + ($4.99). Are you a baby-data geek (or just a typically sleep-deprived new parent who needs lots of help remembering things)? This app lets you log diaper changes, naps, feedings, doctor appointments, milestones and more. A sharing function allows multiple users to see information on the same kid.
  • WorkFlowy. There's so much to think about and remember when caring for an infant, it's common for new parents to become a little forgetful. This tool lets you make and manage lists that sync across all your devices. Jot notes about baby's firsts, make grocery lists, and check off your to-dos.
  • BabyStats. If you have a Google Home or Amazon Alexa home assistant, you can log everything by voice command while leaving your hands free to take care of baby. You can play back the day's activities, which is especially helpful when you're tracking medicine dosages or other times when you need precise information.

Find reliable breastfeeding advice and manage pumping, nursing and mealtimes.

  • KellyMom. If you have questions about breastfeeding (and what breastfeeding mom doesn't?), this is the go-to resource for reliable information on nursing.
  • Baby Nursing Breastfeeding Tracker (iOS, free) or Milk Maid (iOS, $2.99). To log nursing sessions or keep track of how much you've pumped, these apps are my favorites. Google Play also has many options for Android phones as well.
  • Weelicious.com. When baby is ready to transition to solid foods, Weelicious is a great destination for feeding tips and recipes like quinoa banana mash.

Get the low-down on what you do and don't want to find in baby's diaper.

  • The BabyCenter Poop Guide. This full-color guide isn't for the squeamish. But if you're fretting about baby's ever-changing output, you'll find that the Poop Guide is a reassuring reference tool.

Buy groceries and eat well when you have no time or energy.

  • Instacart. Partner/spouse out of town? Fridge empty? With a growing team of personal shoppers working in many states across the U.S., Instacart lets you shop your local grocery store online, and it delivers the same day.
  • Hello Fresh and Blue Apron (nationwide) offer menu planning and deliver pre-prepped ingredients right to your door.
  • And there's always Eat24, GrubHub, or Seamless (available in most U.S. cities) for food delivery from your favorite restaurant.

Get reassurance and have a laugh.

  • Mom and Dad Are Fighting, Slate's parenting podcast. Hear different views on hot topics in parenting, and get tips for common parenting hurdles. Hosts Rebecca Lavoie, Gabriel Roth, and Carvell Wallace are lighthearted and frank about their own challenges as parents.
  • The Longest Shortest Time: The Parenting Show for Everyone. From childbirth recovery to talking “birds and bees" with an 8-year-old, topics span a variety of parenting issues. Host Hillary Frank offers a compassionate, thoughtful perspective
  • The Motherly Podcast: Featuring honest conversations about modern motherhood with inspiring leaders—who also happen to be mothers.

Keep up with baby while you're at work.

  • Baby Connect (iOS, Android, $4.99). Leaving baby with a caregiver is never easy. Thankfully, an app such as Baby Connect can ease the transition back to work. Caregivers log information about feedings, naps, diapers, and more, and parents receive push notifications on their phones.

Connect with other parents for advice, recipes and face-to-face meet-ups.

  • Facebook mom groups and Google Groups for parents. The support of family and friends is huge when you're a new parent. But sometimes you just need to hang with other parents who can relate to what you're going through. Maybe you're a parent of twins or have an adopted kid; online groups can remind you you're not alone.

Talk to family members who live across the country.

Get that kid to go to sleep (so you can, too).

  • White Noise (iOS, Android, $1.99) or White Noise Free (iOS/Android). Pretty much since his birth, we've relied on the White Noise app's “shower" setting to lull our son to sleep. Great for traveling or for sleepovers at Grandma's.
  • Soundscapes Relaxation Sleep Mix. Check out the Soundscapes audio tracks on YouTube for ambient music that will put both you and baby in a sleepy mood. And since the tracks are 10 hours long, there's no worry about a sudden silence waking up your little one.

Share kids' photos privately.

    • Flickr. With 1 TB (that's 1,000 GB!) of free storage on Flickr, you'll never have to worry about running out of space. You can create albums and set viewing permissions to friends and family only, so there's little worry about oversharing or your kids' bathtub pics going public.
    • iCloud Photo Library. Do you text a zillion photos to your partner or mom? When you add a photo to a shared album in the iCloud, everyone with access gets a notification on his or her iOS device. You get 5 GB free, and plans range from 50 GB for $0.99 a month to 1 TB for $9.99 a month.

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh for Common Sense Media.

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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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

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Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

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Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

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Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

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Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

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Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

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Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

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For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

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Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

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You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

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The Snoo bassinet

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Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

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The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

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The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

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In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

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Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

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Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

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