You know your baby better than Google, mama

My daughter's failure to acquiesce to so-called expert advice heralded the beginning of a new way of living, for both of us. One that strives to work with her needs, rather than struggle against them.

You know your baby better than Google, mama

My baby was crying, and I was too.

In the early days, it had all been so straightforward to me. Sure, my sweet newborn woke up every 45 minutes all night long, spit up constantly, and preferred the lilting (and exhausting) cadence of a giant blue yoga ball to the comparatively effortless glide of a rocking chair—but during those bleary first weeks, I never questioned my inborn desire to hold her and soothe her and give her whatever she needed from me, whenever she needed it.

But as my maternity leave neared its end, reality began to set in: my darling girl was about to be cared for—at least in part—by someone else.

According to a variety of websites whose authors seemed to be in the know, easing this transition would require putting her on a schedule: eat, then play, then sleep—on her own, in her bassinet, without the aid of 'bad habits' like nursing or bouncing or human touch.

I was a new mom. I was an anxious soon-to-be working mom. I thought others knew better than I did.

And so, despite my daughter's protests, I started to institute some rules. As the months passed, my confusion escalated. She became a serial catnapper who seemed incapable of falling asleep on her own, on a surface separate from my body. In fact, she wouldn't do anything the experts expected of her.

And I just knew: It was my fault. I wasn't going about things the right way. I wasn't being consistent. I was waffling. I was tired.

I became convinced that something was very wrong with my relatively gentle approach, and I purchased a customized guide that promised to help me teach my now 6-month-old to fall asleep on her own. It would be hard, they said, but it would be worth it.

After all, they said, I had no other choice.

From the very beginning, she cried fiercely. At bedtime and at nap time, I stayed with her—but I was not allowed to pick her up. Eventually, it was recommended that I leave the room while she "learned" to sleep. My presence was likely causing her more stress, they said. She cried harder. I cried too, perhaps even more than she did.

But I had to stay the course… didn't I?

Weeks went by. Some days were easy; some days weren't. And one evening, my daughter's desperate wails reached a fever pitch. I listened, trembling and sobbing, my own body curled in knots on the couch, racked with grief and shame. And something in me broke.

That night, I wish I had known that it was okay to hold my baby.

I wish I had known that my daughter's seemingly unique constitution was not only valid, but it was also healthy and biologically normal.

I wish I had known that my own instincts had always been more powerful—and more trustworthy—than any one-size-fits-all "solution."

I wish I had known that when it came to mothering my specific child, I was wiser than Google could ever be.

I didn't know then. But I know now. And, bless her, my daughter's failure to acquiesce to so-called expert advice heralded the beginning of a new way of living, for both of us.

One that strives to work with her needs, rather than struggle against them.

One that expects those that care for her to respect her individuality, rather than demand obedience.

One that parents from a place of love for my daughter's temperament, rather than fear over what challenges lie ahead.

And one that champions mothers navigating a culture that is, all too often, unkind not only to them but also to their young children—tiny beings who are not yet capable of behaving like miniature adults.

This is not a bid for parents to abandon the hope that they can help their young children to sleep better, or a call for all families to ditch their cribs and embrace the family bed.

It's a rallying cry to stop giving our power away to a virtual space that, for many of us, has been our main source of answers since we were children ourselves.

Don't get me wrong—the Internet can be an invaluable resource when you are a brand new parent, especially if you lack a strong support network or have little to no experience caring for babies. But no matter what you read about infant development, feeding, bonding, sleeping, or diapering: if something feels wrong, you don't have to do it.

You aren't spoiling your baby, and you aren't fostering bad habits. You know more than you think you do, mama. You are stronger than you realize, and your instincts matter—no smartphone required.

No matter what the experts say.

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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.


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.


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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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