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Why we are doing a ‘no toy’ Christmas

Christmas is more than clutter.

Why we are doing a ‘no toy’ Christmas

Every year around Christmas, I find myself in an all too familiar scenario—browsing the aisles of an overwhelming toy store trying to find the PERFECT gift. You know, that gift that's going to guarantee the photo-worthy smile on your child's face come Christmas morning.

You could find me carefully analyzing the newest, trendiest toys in front of me whispering a series of questions to myself—
“How can I top last year's magna throttle bike?"
“What gift is going to last more than a month before my children lose interest?"
“How can I do this without totally blowing our budget?"

At the same time, my face would be turning every shade of pink imaginable—my body would start to feel itchy and hot. I'd have about one hour to figure out the toy dilemma before having to run home to find a hiding spot before dashing off to school pickup.

Typically what ends up happening is that I snag something way over-priced that my kids don't need that inevitably ends up in a donation bin a few months later during spring cleaning.

So, this year? This mama isn't buying one. Single. Toy.

It wasn't until this past summer that I realized just how many toys we have accumulated over the years. The amount of plastic I got rid of was nauseating and the amount of tears that came with the process of decluttering was difficult. Too difficult to think about doing it again anytime soon.

No more clutter. 

During my endeavor this past year to get rid "stuff," I found myself wondering how in the world our children ended up with so many toys. Half of them I don't even remember buying or receiving (#mombrain) and more than half of them, sadly, were never played with.

Because of this, it felt great to give many of these toys to households that might have more use for them. And it now feels so unnecessary to invite clutter back into our now clear, spacious closets.

Christmas is more than clutter.

Aside from the clutter aspect, Christmas in our household represents so much more than toys under the tree. I don't want our children to be distracted from the real reason we celebrate this holiday by a shiny new toy they don't need.

I want them to learn about giving without the concept being tied only to possessions in their mind. I want them to understand that giving doesn't always come in the form of an object.

We are, however, still giving gifts—ones that are meaningful to our family. 

I recently read an article about the things your children remember most about their childhood, and toys were not on that list—experiences were. Activities we did together as a family are the memories I cherish most about my childhood.

Sure, when given the option of a toy or a family outing at age eight, I probably would have chosen a toy—but if you ask me now what toy I received Christmas morning when I was eight, I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is all about the Christmas play I was in, the nativity scene we put together and the Christmas tree farm we visited.

I want my children to have those same types of memories. ✨


Meaningful, thoughtful gifts
are another one of those things that I not only love to receive but I also enjoy putting together as well. Photo gifts, personalized books, keepsake boxes and arts and crafts have all become great options for our family and are generally budget-friendly, too!

When I made this decision about Christmas, I knew I had to go all in—so we decided to extend this practice to our gift-giving plans for extended family members as well. I communicated that we will not accept toys this year (unless they are okay with them being donated) and that gifts at all weren't necessary—although memorable and experience-based gifts were warmly accepted, as we would be doing the same.

It's possible our children might be slightly disappointed when they don't receive the toy(s) they asked for and they will probably feel a shift in the gifts they will receive. But I have a feeling that Christmas will be just as joyous and magical as previous years, with even more memories to cherish.

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As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

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

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

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.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

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$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

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$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

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$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

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!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

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.

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Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

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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!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

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Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

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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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You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

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As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

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