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I rocked my toddler to sleep tonight, even though I knew I ‘shouldn’t’

Even though we hadn’t rocked her to sleep in months.

I rocked my toddler to sleep tonight, even though I knew I ‘shouldn’t’

I rocked my toddler to sleep tonight.

Even though I knew I ‘shouldn’t.’


Even though my husband gave me the this-is-not-a-good-idea look.

Even though I was hungry and hadn’t eaten dinner yet.

Even though I had been on a roll finishing up work emails when she asked.

Even though I probably could have gotten her down in her crib easily enough without having rocked her.

Even though we hadn’t rocked her to sleep in months.

I rocked her for one main (simple) reason: Because she asked me to.

And I’m glad I did.

Because when I rocked her, I felt her little hand rest on my chest.

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I felt her body calm down and sink into me.

I heard her breath go in and out, in and out, along with the gentle hum of her favorite song.

I smelt her shampoo as I nestled close to her and kissed her forehead.

I rubbed her back and held her tight.

I felt how happy she was to hear me say ‘yes.’ To know I wanted to be right there with her in that exact spot.

I thought about all the times I rocked her when she was a baby—each night when she went to sleep, each time I nursed her in our rocking chair, each time she was upset.

But I hadn’t rocked her in months. Because she can fall asleep on her own now in her crib in the room she shares with her big sister. Because she hasn’t nursed for about six months. And because I mostly just hug and kiss her when she’s upset—she’s often too busy running around to settle in for a long rocking session.

But tonight was different. Tonight, I did rock her.

I chose a moment of peace with my middle daughter—in a time of my life when I feel the impossible task of trying to split my attention evenly among my three children, my husband and my job—and it has been weighing heavily on my heart.

I chose to slow down—in a time in my life when ‘hectic’ and ‘busy’ are the two words I use most when people ask me how things are going. A time when I feel like I’m always going, always doing, always fixing.

I chose the ‘wrong’ sleep solution for my toddler—because she’ll be two in a few weeks and I don’t know where the time has gone. I need these sweet moments with her when, instead of actually falling asleep, she’s whispering and giggling in my ear—making me feel like the luckiest mama in the world.

I chose to indulge her—because she’s still my baby, even though she is acting more and more like a big girl every day. I need to be reminded of her littleness. She may say “I do it myself” around 100 times a day, but she still needs me and my help. And I find great comfort in that.

I chose to put my needs aside—because I knew my dinner would be there when I was done rocking. My belly would soon be full, but in this moment, I really needed my heart to be full—full of cuddles from my Lucy. It was a long day, and I didn’t see her for some of it because of work. I missed her and needed to squeeze in some quality time with her today.

I chose to be patient with bedtime tonight—because I’m often hurrying through it. Or passing it off completely to my husband. I decided I didn’t mind if it took a little longer tonight, so long as I could slow down and calm down along with my daughter.

Toddlers are not always easy. That’s for sure. They’re little people with big emotions. They’re trying to figure it all out—they can go from extreme happiness to deep sadness then frustration and anger and back to happiness and laughter—all in the matter of minutes. If it feels like a lot for us to keep up with, it’s definitely a lot for them to keep up with.

And my baby is trying. She’s trying to learn and grow and make everyone happy. She’s trying to do things for herself and be a big girl like her sister.

But tonight she just wanted her mama. She chose me—rocking in a quiet room with me. And I’m glad she did.

And I’m glad I did.

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

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

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.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

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!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

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

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

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

Plan Toys sand set

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

Plan Toys water play set

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

Plan Toys mini golf set

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

Janod retro scooter balance bike

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.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

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.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

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.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

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.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

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.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

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.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

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.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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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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