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A new parent’s ultimate guide to social media

Is it safe to post pictures of baby? What's okay to share and what's TMI?

A new parent’s ultimate guide to social media

Before baby, you were a Facebooking, Instagramming, texting fool, sharing everything from your perfect pasta dish to your incredible manicure. Now, looking at your little bundle of joy, you may be wondering: Is it safe to post pictures of baby? What's okay to share and what's TMI? What are the easiest tech tools to preserve those precious moments, without broadcasting to the world? These tips can help.


Safely share photos of baby online

You may never have given privacy settings a thought. But if you're posting pics of baby, you may want to think through the impact and potential trajectory of what you post. Maybe you have followers struggling with fertility who aren't ready to share your joy. Maybe you're connected to people you barely know—friends of friends of friends—and there's no guarantee that those people will have your family's best interests at heart. Stories about people's kids' photos falling into the wrong hands, like stock-photography brokers looking for baby pics to sell or Internet trolls misusing images are a growing risk.

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You have a couple options to share safely. You can enable stricter privacy settings on the social media services you're already using. Popular services have the advantage of an existing, built-in audience, but there's a greater possibility of photos being viewed (or copied, or downloaded) by people you don't know. Or, you can sign up for a more secure, password-protected photo-sharing service such as Flickr, Photobucket or Famipix. These let you be pickier about what you share with whom. But these sites sometimes charge a fee for premium services such as extra storage and prints.

Distinguish between friendly advice and real facts

As a new parent, you may be vulnerable, worried or overwhelmed, and social media offers a lifeline. Just don't believe anything people tell you without verifying it with a professional. (No, WebMD doesn't count.) Anything that has major importance, like feeding, health and safety, money, education, is not to be toyed with. Anything with minimal consequences, such as when to put baby in shoes or the best time to clip her nails (when she's asleep), is okay to experiment with.

Avoid "over-sharenting"

What's over-sharenting? Pictures of poop, constant updates on every smile, gurgle and hallmark of intelligence, reports on what a naturally gifted mom you are. Other parents understand the urge to brag about every little thing, but social media is a give and take. Be thoughtful about what you're sharing, why and with whom.

Approach baby's "digital footprint" mindfully

Some parents create social media profiles under their kids' names when they're babies with the idea that they'll turn them over to the kids when they're ready. It can be fun for relatives to get an update "from baby." But there are some risks to creating what's called a "digital footprint" for your baby. Here are some things to consider:

  • You might love the photos of baby in the tub, but how will she feel about them when she's 8 or 9?
  • Tweens or teens might be upset that you used their names to create profiles they didn't actually consent to.
  • Social media sites are for users over 13 because companies use data—basically, who your friends are, what you click on, and where you go on the Web—to build a demographic profile, which they then sell to other companies for marketing purposes. The data isn't personally identifiable, but it's still Big Brotherish to think they're tracking your baby's online movements.

Bottom line: If you decide to create a profile, make sure you include only minimal information, use strict privacy settings and avoid any photos that are potentially embarrassing.

Cope with feelings (jealousy, anger, sadness) from viewing friends' Facebook pages

You're not alone. The highly curated photos and posts from friends whose lives seem more fulfilling have been shown to make people feel sad, jealous, and angry.

It may help if you connect with others who really "get" you. Create separate groups for your online pals: Put your close friends. the ones who post their joys as well as their trials. in one group. Add the ones who tend to present a perfect image to a different group, and only look at them when you're feeling up to it. You also can connect with the growing anti-perfection movement. Real Simple's public Instagram profile, #womenirl, shares photos from people's real (messy) lives.

The bottom line is that the impact of social media isn't fully understood, and it can trigger all sorts of responses. New parents are emotionally vulnerable because they're tired, unsure and perhaps even suffering from postpartum depression. If you feel crappy more than you feel good, and sharing photos from your life doesn't make you feel better, talk to a professional about what you're going through.

Preserve memories digitally

By the time your baby is 3, you will have recorded approximately 1 billion hours of video, taken 300,000 photos, and thought of 1,000 things you wish you could say to her when she grows up. Fortunately, there are easy ways to collect all these memories into one, easily accessible location.

  • Go low(ish) tech. A lot of parents like to grab the opportunity to create an email account under baby's name. Once she has an email address, you can use it to send her messages, photos and videos so they are all collected in one place and she can read them when she gets older and take ownership of her email address.
  • Consider an electronic scrapbook or journal. Scrapbooking sites and apps let you create digital diaries of baby's life. Some families like this option because older kids can use the sites and apps, too. There's a wide range of programs you can use.
  • Sign up for a private social network. Apps such as Notabli, 23snaps, and eFamily offer a secure way to collect and share photos, videos, and stories and invite a small number of people who can view them

Originally posted on Common Sense Media.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

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If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

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Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

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When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

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Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

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Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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