The truth about those child trafficking conspiracy theories 👇

Here's how to spot disinformation and how to protect yourself.

misinformation pandemic conspiracy video
Frazer Harrison / Getty Staff

We have information coming at us 24/7, from every angle and every source—and sometimes those sources are not accurate, either because they are deliberately misleading us or because they have the best intentions but the wrong information.

That is why you may have noticed comments on social media posts by and about some celebrities, including Chrissy Teigen, are filled with accusations of pedophilia, child trafficking, connections to Jeffery Epstein. That's what #SaveTheChildren is all about, and why you'll see the hashtag in comments on any story about Teigen.

As Rolling Stone recently reported, "child trafficking is undeniably a real and serious issue" but this "legitimate cause has been co-opted by QAnon conspiracy theorists".

Here's what we need to know about child trafficking conspiracy theories:


As Teigen has explained on multiple occasions, the harassment she is receiving over this is scary, and she never even met Epstein.

While it is true that some high profile people have been linked to Jeffery Epstein, the claim that Chrissy Teigen is listed on flight logs for his plane is false and has been debunked.

So has the false theory suggesting the homegoods website Wayfair is being used to traffick children (it's not).

Posts linking mask-wearing to child trafficking have also been debunked.

Many concerned parents shared these debunked and discredited theories on their social media platforms with good intentions—but carefully crafted misinformation weaponizes good intentions and even very intelligent people can fall prey to false information.

As parents, we just want to protect children from anything that could hurt them, but these false rumors are actually distracting from the real dangers of child trafficking and are sucking people into an internet rabbit hole of misinformation.

"Conspiracy theorists always managed to spread their theories in the past, but the internet has made this much easier," Kathryn Olmsted, a history professor who studies conspiracy theories at University of California, Davis tells the Associated Press. "If you believe in one, you believe in another. You start collecting them."

The reality of child trafficking

Child trafficking is a real issue that needs attention, but right now it is getting the wrong kind of attention.

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres explained last month, child trafficking has increased in recent years and the pandemic could make vulnerable families even more vulnerable to traffickers.

"Women and girls already account for more than 70 per cent of detected human trafficking victims, and today are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. With previous downturns showing that women face a harder time getting paid jobs back in the aftermath of crisis, vigilance is especially important at this time," Guterres said, urging all governments and societies to fight against human trafficking and join the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.

But it is hard for legitimate organizations working against human trafficking to function when conspiracy theories stretch their resources.

As the New York Times reports, the Polaris Project (a nonprofit organization that runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline) published a blog post warning that "unsubstantiated claims and accusations about child sex trafficking can spin out of control and mislead well-meaning people into doing more harm than good." After the Wayfair theory hit Instagram the Polaris Project's hotline was overwhelmed with false reports.

"We strongly encourage everyone to learn more about what human trafficking really looks like in most situations, and about how you can help fight trafficking in your own community," the organization noted in a news release.

On its website the Polaris Project explains, "evidence suggests that people of color and LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be trafficked than other demographic groups. That's not a coincidence. Generational trauma, historic oppression, discrimination and other societal factors and inequities create community-wide vulnerabilities. Traffickers recognize and take advantage of people who are vulnerable in certain ways."

Why false information is spreading among parents right now

A widely shared (and discredited) documentary-style video titled "Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind COVID-19" also falls into this category. The 26-minute video was removed from several social media platforms because the video's thesis (that the coronavirus pandemic was planned) has been proven false.Another video, by a group calling themselves "America's Frontline Doctors" made the rounds this week. It was seen and shared by millions before Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube removed it for featuring false information about cures for COVID-19.

"During a global pandemic, it's kind of the perfect storm of uncertainty," says Joanne Miller, a political science professor at the University of Delaware and co-author of a study about conspiracy theories and gender. "And so when we feel a lack of control, uncertainty or powerlessness, we seek out explanations for why the event occurred that's causing us to feel that way. And what this can do is it can lead us to connect dots that shouldn't be connected because we're trying to seek out answers. And sometimes those answers are conspiracy theories."

The false human trafficking stories and the debunked "Plandemic" video are both conspiracy theories that use connections that seem possible to draw conclusions that are not based in fact.

Kate Starbird is an Associate Professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington who studies how communications technologies are used during crises. She has studied the "Plandemic" video, which amplifies the views of discredited scientist Dr. Judy Mikovits, and says the way false theories like it are packaged makes people with online followings particularly vulnerable to spreading misinformation.

"I've found that this mix of information types makes it difficult for people, including those who build and run online platforms, to distinguish an organic rumor from an organized disinformation campaign," she writes. And this challenge is not getting any easier as efforts to understand and respond to COVID-19 get caught up in the political machinations of this year's presidential election.

A new study published in the journal Politics and Gender this week found that men are more likely than women to endorse coronavirus related conspiracy theories, but misinformation is still thriving in some traditionally female online circles.

As Rolling Stone reports, some mom influencers with vast followings on Instagram have recently begun peppering QAnon content into their feeds, spreading the Wayfair and child trafficking misinformation as well as anti-mask rhetoric.

How to spot a conspiracy theory or misinformation

It is harder than ever before to distinguish between facts and misinformation, but it is possible if we look at everything in our feeds (even the stuff we are shown by trusted influencers) critically.

According to researchers who study how to counter misinformation and conspiracy theories, we need to be on the lookout for the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking when sharing information.

Before taking something you see online as fact, examine the post for the following red flags:

  • Contradictory beliefs: For example, the "Plandemic" video offers two different conflicting origin stories for COVID-19.
  • Overriding suspicion: It is healthy to be skeptical, but an immediate distrust of any official or mainstream information is a red flag for misinformation.
  • Nefarious intent: False information often assumes nefarious intentions before all other possibilities, a major characteristic of both the Wayfair controversy and "Plandemic."
  • Conviction: When theorists change their mind about how the conspiracy works but remain convinced that the official or scientific account still cannot be accurate, that false sense of conviction is a sign of misinformation at work.
  • Persecuted victim: If a piece of information presents those sharing as victims of a vast, organized deception but also paradoxically as heroes fighting victimhood, it's probably part of a conspiracy theory.
  • Immunity to evidence: Conspiracy theories declare themselves irrefutable and self-healing—they cannot be challenged with evidence.
  • Reinterpretation of randomness: If a piece of information suggests that unseen, scary connections exist everywhere, it's likely misinformation.

Moms are vulnerable right now to both disinformation + judgment

Moms who are spreading false theories online are most often doing it because they want to keep their family and other families safe. Judgment and name-calling is not the way to change their minds, say experts.

According to Jovan Byford, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at The Open University, pointing out the holes in someone's theory is not likely to change their mind, because "conspiracy theories are, by definition, irrefutable."

Instead, Byford recommends people be patient with conspiracy believers and recognize the emotional element driving the spread of so much misinformation.

"Conspiracy theories seduce not so much through the power of argument, but through the intensity of the passions that they stir," Byford writes for The Conversation. "Underpinning conspiracy theories are feelings of resentment, indignation and disenchantment about the world."

Moms have a lot to be disenchanted with right now. Burnout rates are soaring and our social infrastructure has failed to protect families from COVID-19. Meanwhile, in the absence of clear communication from political leaders about the pandemic, the average person is attempting to sort through mountains of data and crunch dozens of numbers to make everyday decisions about everything from grocery shopping to going back to school. Empathy and compassion is needed.

"Many people come to conspiracy theories through genuine, albeit misguided, curiosity about how to make sense of the world," Byford explains. "They sometimes see themselves as healthy sceptics and self-taught researchers into complex issues. Avoid criticising or mocking this. Instead, present it as something that, in principle, you value and share. Your aim, after all, is not to make them less curious or skeptical, but to change what they are curious about, or skeptical of."

Bottom line: Less judgement, more empathy + education

We can't fight misinformation by hurting those who take it as fact, but we can do our part to view these theories more critically and offer an empathic and patient counterpoint to friends and family members who perceive them as truths.

Everyone is just doing their best to get through these trying times, but as we rebuild our post-pandemic world we need to remember what happened in 2020 to ensure our education system is arming the next generation with the media literacy and critical thinking skills they need to separate fact from falsehood.

As Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine of the Baylor College of Medicine recently told Rolling Stone, the spread of misinformation through mom influencer culture is "the price we pay for underpaying high school science teachers."

[A version of this post was originally published July 28, 2020. It has been updated.]

In This Article

    How one company is making a huge difference for LGBTQ youth

    Take notes, all you other brands, this is how it's done

    Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

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

    We spoke to Chris Bright (he/she/they), Director of Public Training at The Trevor Project, who works closely with H&M. Chris shared with us the Trevor Project's important mission, and what all brands should do to best support LGBTQ youth today.

    1. For those that do not know, what is The Trevor Project's mission? What is it all about and its impact on society?

    The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. Our mission is to end suicide among the estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ youth under the age of 25 in the U.S. who seriously consider suicide each year.

    Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project launched TrevorLifeline, the first 24/7 national lifeline supporting LGBTQ youth in crisis alongside HBO's broadcast of the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor. The first calls were answered that night. Since then, we have grown from reaching several thousand LGBTQ youth per year to becoming the preeminent resource for LGBTQ young people in crisis, directly serving over 200K LGBTQ young people in the last fiscal year alone. We work tirelessly to save young lives by providing support through our free and confidential crisis programs on platforms where young people spend their time — online and on the phone. In addition to TrevorLifeline, we offer 24/7 digital crisis services including TrevorText and TrevorChat, as well as TrevorSpace, the world's largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth.


    H&M + The Trevor Project

    2. Can you describe the nature of the relationship/partnership the Trevor Project has with H&M?

    Our collaboration with H&M has been remarkably successful, with H&M driving awareness of The Trevor Project and our services among its audience while also demonstrating its strong support of LGBTQ young people. H&M first partnered with us in December 2020 during our "Every Single One" holiday campaign, where they donated $250K in matching funds for Giving Tuesday. This helped The Trevor Project have our best-ever Giving Tuesday moment.

    Our work together has had extensive impact, allowing H&M to engage employees, customers, and community members in conversations about LGBTQ Allyship through Trevor's resources and mission. We're thankful for H&M's support, which helps us continue to operate and improve our 24/7 life-saving crisis services so we can serve more LGBTQ young people.

    3. Why was H&M the right company to partner with?

    H&M is an established yet relevant brand that has the attention of young people, and we're always so thankful to partner with youth-facing brands that can not only spread messages of love and support, but also can increase the awareness of our crisis services and resources. We know that H&M genuinely cares about creating a better future for LGBTQ young people.

    4. What do you see as the biggest challenge or struggle for LGBTQ kids today?

    LGBTQ youth are incredibly diverse, with so many intersecting identities and unique experiences — making it difficult for me to pinpoint what might be the single biggest challenge or struggle for all LGBTQ youth today.

    What I can say, however, is our research reveals numerous challenges or struggles that may be more prevalent across the board for LGBTQ youth. According to our 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which captures the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 across the U.S., nearly 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Over 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health and more than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful.

    What's clear is that while there is no single biggest challenge or struggle for our LGBTQ youth today, it's critical that we find ways to uplift and support each and every LGBTQ young person that we can.

    5. Since it's back to school time, are there stressors or situations that are uniquely heightened for LGBTQ youth, other than the standard new school year jitters, that people don't necessarily know about?

    Our research has found that LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one LGBTQ-affirming space had 35% reduced odds of attempting suicide in the past year, with LGBTQ-affirming school environments having the strongest association with reduced suicide attempts. Since the onset of COVID-19, the volume of youth reaching out to us has significantly increased, at times nearly double our pre-COVID volume. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety have been heightened as a result of the pandemic, further emphasizing the need for LGBTQ youth to have access to spaces that affirm their identities, such as gender-neutral bathrooms, trans-inclusive sports, and positive extracurricular activities such as Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).

    LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one accepting adult — whether it be teachers, coaches, or counselors — were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. The Trevor Project created the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention, which includes requirements for teacher training, mental health instruction for students, and policies and procedures for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that as in-person learning returns, schools provide LGBTQ students with safe learning environments where they can feel empowered, supported, and accepted by their peers and educators.

    H&M + the Trevor Project

    6. In what way is the support that The Trevor Project provides crucial to LGBTQ youth, especially as it pertains to suicide prevention?

    The support that The Trevor Project provides is so crucial because suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people — and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. LGBTQ youth reach out to Trevor because we are LGBTQ-affirming and a trusted provider of crisis services. All of our volunteers are highly-trained to answer calls, chats, and text from LGBTQ youth 24/7 when they are feeling suicidal or need a safe, non-judgmental place to talk.

    Almost three-quarters of youth stated that they either would not or were unsure if they would have another service if The Trevor Project did not exist. We aim to be there for every young LGBTQ person in crisis with a clear message: you are loved, your life has value, and you are never alone.

    7. What do you think the responsibility is for brands to be involved in pro-social, activism-related work?

    Everyone can play a role in creating change and building progress in our society. Brands — especially those with large platforms and influence — have a responsibility to fulfill that role as well. We recognize H&M and our other brand partners for helping spur progress on important issues, and we encourage others to follow suit. Beyond the essential financial support that brands can provide to nonprofits like The Trevor Project, there's also a direct benefit for the community when brands are loud about their support of Pride; we've found that more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community positively impact how they feel about being LGBTQ. Finally, it's important to remember that Pride doesn't begin and end in June — the opportunity to support Pride is 365 days a year. We are thrilled to have H&M as a year-round partner for The Trevor Project, demonstrating their authentic support for our work.

    8. What is one of the biggest impacts or positive results you have seen come from the partnership between The Trevor Project and H&M?

    We wouldn't be able to do the work we do and make the progress we've made without our brand partners like H&M. The Trevor Project has experienced significant growth in the last few years with the implementation of our five key program areas: crisis services, peer support, research, education and public awareness, and advocacy. Since 2019, we've been working to scale our volunteer training to increase the number of crisis services counselors on a yearly basis. In addition to original, intersectional monthly research briefs, our research team launched the world's largest survey of LGBTQ youth mental health in 2019, and has released a total of three national, annual reports. We've ramped up Trevor's advocacy work on the local, state, and federal levels to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, including bills to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy that have been in introduced in 40 states. H&M's partnership helps us advance this work by raising significant funds and awareness for our mission. During June 2021, when H&M served as one of our key Pride Partners, our crisis counselors served over 19,500 crisis contacts with free, confidential support via phone, chat, and text.

    9. How important is it for LGBTQ+ youth to see allies in popular culture, be it a celebrity or high profile person, mainstream brand, etc.?

    LGBTQ representation in the mainstream media is extremely important as it makes LGBTQ youth feel seen, validated, and confident that they are not alone. Over 80% of youth said that celebrities who are LGBTQ positively influence how they feel about being LGBTQ, and more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community have a positive impact on their LGBTQ identity. As we continue to see increased visibility for marginalized communities in popular culture, diverse images will become normalized, which in turn creates a safer, more accepting world for all of us.

    10. For people who want to get involved with a cause like The Trevor Project, what is the best way to make a difference?

    There are a number of ways to get involved with The Trevor Project – from making a donation (TheTrevorProject.org/Donate) to applying to be a volunteer (TheTrevorProject.org/Volunteer) to spreading the word about our resources.

    Affirming spaces and support systems work to save young LGBTQ lives. People can be active in their communities to ensure that more safe, affirming spaces are available and thriving. Even making an effort to respect someone's pronouns and encouraging those around you to do the same can make a huge difference. Our research has also found that LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt. If you get the opportunity, be that one person for a young person in your life.

    If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project's trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

    Our Partners

    This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

    One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

    I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


    Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

    The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

    Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

    Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

    Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

    Woodland Snug comforter

    Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

    The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

    $249

    Braided Pom Pom Throw

    Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

    $145

    Lumbar pillow

    sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

    What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

    $65

    Crystal infused sleep mask

    sunday citizen sleep mask

    Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

    $40

    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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    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

    pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

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

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are 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 indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


    Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

    $139

    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    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

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    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

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-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.

    $19.95

    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

    Foam pogo stick

    Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

    janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

    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.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    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.

    $79.99

    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.

    $24.75

    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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    Target's car seat trade-in is back and it ends soon! 🎉

    Here are all the details you need to know about the 2021 deal.

    Joe Raedle/Getty

    Cat seats are, of course, a necessity—but they're a pretty big-ticket item for those on a budget, especially if you have multiple kiddos or cars. As always, Target is here for us.

    Target's popular car seat trade-in program is BACK! It runs through September 25, 2021.

    So break out the busted car seats sitting in your garage and get ready to trade it in! It doesn't matter how many goldfish crumbs or questionable stains are on it, Target will welcome it with open arms—and you'll get a discount on a new one to boot.

    Just bring your old car seat to the designated boxes inside your local Target and you'll score a coupon for 20% off a new car seat, booster seat, car seat base, travel system or stroller. Oh, and the coupon can also be applied to select baby gear, such as high chairs, swings, rockers and bouncers. 👏

    Find a participating store near you here.

    Here's how to scan the coupon code into your phone: Open your Target App to scan the code on the box (you can always talk to a Team Member in Guest Services if you need help). Open your Wallet in the Target App to find your coupon and other contactless savings. Click the red "+" to save the offer and place your order online, or scan your barcode at the register.

    Since 2016, Target has held several of these car seat trade-in events in an effort to help parents recycle the seats, which are not eligible for curbside recycling and take up a lot of space when sent to landfills. The retailer hands over all the old car seats to Waste Management and the materials are recycled to make grocery carts, plastic buckets and construction materials like steel beams. More than 14.4 million pounds of car seats have been recycled through the program.

    This is such a great deal because you get to upgrade your current car seat (because, as we all know, kids go through multiple styles and sizes through their childhood) AND you get a discount for giving your old, crusty car seat a second life.

    Now excuse me while I head to Target to make the most of my trade-in discount!

    News + Trending

    Mom and gorilla bond over their babies at the zoo: ‘It was so beautiful’

    The new mothers shared a special moment at a Boston zoo.

    Franklin Park Zoo/YouTube

    Motherhood knows no bounds.

    When Kiki the gorilla spotted a new mom and baby visiting her habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, she immediately took a liking to the pair. Emmelina Austin held her five-week-old son Canyon to the glass so Kiki could get a better look.

    The gorilla spent nearly five minutes happily pointing and staring at baby Canyon.


    Emmelina's husband captured the sweet moment on his phone, in a video that's now gone viral.

    Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com

    Why was Kiki so interested in her tiny visitor? Possibly because Kiki's a new mom herself. Her fifth baby, Pablo, was born in October.

    Near the end of the video, Kiki scooped up Pablo and held him close. The new moms held their baby boys to the glass and shared a special moment together: just a couple of mothers, showing off their little ones.

    "When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could've imagined that we would have had that experience," Austin told ABC News. "It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon."

    We can't get enough of the sweet exchange. There's something special about sharing your little one with the world. Mothers of all ages, races–and it turns out, species–understand.

    Our favorite viral mama + kid videos