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In our house, reading reigns supreme. A book is my solution to everything, from something to do when you’re bored to the perfect design aesthetic (I keep my library color-coordinated). But most importantly, I remember what books were to me when I was young, what they have continued to be for me, even into adulthood, and I want that for my daughters. Reading is something that we can have in common--something I love, something my kids love, and something that benefits us all.

I think it’s really important to use books as a challenge; but there is also something to be said for focusing on what’s age-appropriate. That way, books are working with your child’s development, not against it.

These are some of the books that we read to our girls at various ages and why I loved them for that phase.

0-6 months: Hello, Animals by Smriti Prasadam

Board books, contrasting in black and white, are perfect for freshly born eyes. It is a way to engage baby in focus, early vocabulary, and the precious quiet time spent in your lap, listening to your voice.

6 months-1 year: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Maybe it’s a generic selection, but there’s a reason this book is so classic for babies. I love the rhythm. It’s peaceful. I remember rocking my babies to sleep, reciting the poem from memory even, and how it’s something they grew up knowing. Even now, I sometimes still say these words as I tuck them in, and it’s amazing to watch them lulled into that sleepy state. Plus, the illustrations are the best combination of contrasting primary colors, great for baby’s eyes.

1 year: Five Little Monkeys by Eileen Christelow

By one year, your baby is probably into books. And by into them, I mean, he or she will want personal access to books, mainly to bring them to you to read over and over (and over and over). For us, age one was the year of chants and nursery rhymes. The repetition is good for baby’s vocabulary, and the bounce is good for hand motions or a little dance.

(Other great authors for age one: Sandra Boyton, Bill Martin, Jr.)

2 years: Animal Masquerade by Marianne Dubuc

At two, your little probably knows his or her animals, and so this book is funny--the animals are dressed up as other animals. We stumbled upon this book at the library, after storytime one day; but it became my two-year-old’s favorite (once she “got” it). What I love about the humor component is that it’s confusing--it opened up new avenues for reading books but also talking about what they mean.

(Other great authors for age two: Eric Carle, Laura Numeroff)

3 years: Bad Frogs by Thacher Hurd

I know everyone talks about “terrible twos,” but I always found three to be the difficult age. Your toddler has all the tools for striking out on his or her own, making her opinions known; but there’s still a hint of baby there. Bad Frogs was written by Thacher Hurd, son of Clement Hurd (who illustrated Goodnight, Moon), and it’s just a silly book. There are some funny phrases, and it’s a little bit naughty. Whenever we had a hard day, we would tease our girls that they were like the Bad Frogs, and, for us, that always diffused a tough situation and brought us back to some common ground.

(Other great authors for age three: Mo Willems, James Dean)

4 years: Curious George by H.A. Rey

By four, my daughters were both very invested in characters they loved. Like a lot of moms, I tried to shy away from their affinity to mainstream characters and introduce classics instead. My girls always loved Curious George, and I think these stories are a good transition into more advanced storytelling. We meet George, find him in a certain environment, watch the environment morph into a tricky situation, then see the solution and resolution. By this age, your kiddos can process a plot line and also talk about the lessons gleaned from it.

(Other great authors for age four: Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss)

Challenge

By age four, probably because they were used to being read to, my girls could sit for longer stories, and we began experimenting with chapter books, reading a little each night. It takes a little practice, and you certainly have to find the right books; but for me, tackling this challenge demonstrated exactly why books are great--we came together around a love for characters every night, and it gave us a means to discuss some bigger, harder issues.

The first chapter books we read were Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (great for talking about selflessness, where our food comes from, and death); Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (great for conversations about poverty, dreams, and imagination); and Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (perfect for creative thinking and watching good prevail over evil). Sometimes I would have to edit content mid-read for what I knew my girls could handle. And a lot of these concepts go over their heads, but I hope both daughters will revisit these stories again as they are older, finding the books on their shelves and knowing it’s something we shared in their early years.

Photography by Jonica Moore for Well Rounded.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

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2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

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3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

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4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

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5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

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With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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


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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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