My baby is no longer a baby

When my son finally stopped using his pacifier I knew I was saying goodbye to his last bits of babyhood.

Mary Meyer

The signs are all there that my baby is no longer a baby.

He is starting to look big in his crib. The once tiny little pea that looked so cozy wrapped in his burrito-like swaddle is now this hulking toddler, with his foot sticking out of his sleep sack. I don't know how my 2-year-old always manages to do it, but he gets the zipper up just a little bit to make room for one tiny foot to slip out. He fills the space in his crib almost from top to bottom, and every time I look down on him as he sleeps, I realize that we're going to have to transition him to a toddler bed—whether I'm ready or not.

He has food preferences and is loudly telling me what they are. Gone are the days where my sweet little baby would eat whatever I gave him. He's now replaced with a toddler who does not like peas thankyouverymuch and prefers blackberries over blueberries. As much as it makes me laugh and delight that he can now communicate with me so clearly, there is something I miss about the ease of our old meals. And please let's not even talk about what happens when I choose the wrong colored cup to go with his meal.

He keeps outgrowing all his clothes. I just put away the last of the clothes I received at my baby shower. Everyone had given me clothes all the way up to 24 months and I thought for sure it would take us forever to get there, but now here we are, diving into the "T" sizes and I can't even believe it. Where did my newborn go?

But the one thing I held onto was that my son still loved his pacifier.

We had been gifted all kinds when he was first born, but the one he latched onto (sorry, pun), the one he loved absolutely the most over all the others was his beloved Wubbanub. The tiny gray elephant attached to the end of the blue-green pacifier had been his companion since he was a month old.

Once we realized that this was the only paci he would ever want to use, we stocked up on about a half a dozen of them (we were worried the elephant would sell out—we tried the lion once and he absolutely wasn't having it). So even though the one he carries around with him now is not the same one he had when he was a newborn (that one ended up getting lost in LAX when we were running to catch our flight), it's still this constant symbol of babyhood.

It reminds me of that first day home with my newborn. How he looked so fragile and small and how the pacifier looked huge in his mouth. I remember thinking, "I'm a mama now. You are mine and I am yours. Sorry, kid, you're stuck with me."

It reminds me of when we used to take long ambling walks together around the park in a desperate attempt to get him to nap. He was tucked into his stroller with his paci and I would push hoping that he was getting drowsy. Every time I thought he was actually asleep, I'd see him pull his paci out of his mouth to wave and smile at the people walking by.

It reminds me of when I left him with my sister-in-law for the first time so I could go back to work from maternity leave. I stuck the Wubbanub in his mouth, showed her where the (two!) backups were in his diaper bag in case she needed them, and then sobbed as I held him goodbye before I made my way to the office.

It reminds me of the day he took his first steps. My son needed motivation to walk all the way across the room to me, so I held up his little elephant with the paci attached. I wiggled it back and forth and asked him if he wanted it, and he was so concerned with getting it that he had no idea he was propelling slowly towards me using his own two legs.

And so, I think I wanted him to hold onto his pacifier more than he wanted to. Because it is that last vestige of babyhood. It is memories and milestones and this symbol of littleness and growth that is sitting right there. I can see how much he has grown just in relation to how big or small the pacifier looks in his mouth. I can see the moments we'd had together in the scruffiness of the Elephant and how he looks so worn and so loved.

So imagine how it felt when I was putting my son to bed and I gave him his beloved elephant, and he stood up and threw it out of his crib.

"Oh no! Poor elephant," I said. And walked over to retrieve it.

"Want nope," my son said.

I tried to give it back to him.

"WANT NOPE," he said again louder.

And then he rolled over and started doing the butt wiggle he does that signals that it's time for sleep.

That's when I knew the rejection—and the full transition to toddlerhood— was complete.

I took his little elephant with me to my room that night. It sat on my nightstand as I fell asleep. He had let go of it so easily, but I wasn't ready to. Not yet.

Note: WubbaNub pacifiers can be used under observed napping and awake sucking. We're advocates for safe sleep as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. For extended overnight sleep, use a pacifier without the plush.

Shop this story:

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

Sunday Citizen

I live in the Northeast and when I woke up this morning, my house was freezing. It had been in the mid 40's overnight and we haven't turned the heat on yet. Suddenly, my normal duvet felt too thin. The socks on my bare feet too non-existent. Winter is coming, and I'd been drinking rosés still pretending it was summer.

I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to do my annual tradition of winterizing my home—and I don't mean making sure my pipes and walls have enough insulation (though obviously that's important too). I mean the act of evaluating every room and wondering if it has enough hygge to it.

If you've never heard of hygge, it's a Danish word that means a quality of coziness or contentment. And what better time to make sure you have moments of hygge all throughout your house than right now? As far as I'm concerned it's the only way to get through these dark winter months (even more so during a pandemic.)

So I went room by room (yes, even my 4-year-old's room) and swapped in, layered or added in these 13 products to get us ready for winter:

Keep reading Show less

14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

From Adelia to Ziggy.

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play