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Breastfeeding CAN Be About You

And 4 more things to know about extended breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding CAN Be About You

When Well Rounded asked me to share my extended breastfeeding story, I wasn’t totally sure where to start. While I’m starting to share more about #momlife on my Instagram account, it’s not my first area of expertise (that would be diet, digestion and all things healthy eating and living). But the more I thought back on my experience the last 2.5 years, the more I remembered how little information there is available on breastfeeding, especially extended breastfeeding.

I’m fortunate enough that I didn’t have any major trouble breastfeeding my child. I immediately stepped into the role as chief milk producer and took care of my boobs like it was my JOB (because it was!), and here I am more than two years later, still going strong.

So today I’m sharing 5 things I wish I had known about nursing and extended breastfeeding. I hope that my reflections and tips prove useful to you, or at the very least inspire and empower you do this in a way that feels good for your body, your beliefs and your life.

1. Breastfeeding can be whatever it looks like for you. If there’s anything I’ve learned being a mom, it’s that you truly have to do what works for you and your child in the moment, and that may change from month to month, or day to day. Maybe most days you’re super on top of making homemade meals with all organic ingredients, but then your little one has you up all night, 10 nights in a row AND your hubby picks a fight AND something awful happens in the world… so you give into the chocolate (or screen time, or whatever else) because you just can’t fight any more.

The same thing goes for breastfeeding. Maybe you plan to do it for a certain amount of time and in a certain way, but then that doesn’t work and you have to pivot. You’re not comfortable whipping out your boobs in public for a 2 year old? That’s okay - I’m not really either. Or do you really HATE pumping? Ugh, same! Or maybe the way you’ve been going about it simply doesn’t feel supportive anymore? At the end of the day, you have to just do you.

2. You can set rules and limits. When I was researching breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding, there was a lot of talk about it being all or nothing -- that if you decided to go for extended breastfeeding, you wouldn’t be able to set boundaries with your child, and that your little one would be tugging at your boobs 24/7.

I learned that this it definitely not the case.  At about 13 months my daughter Navy did understand that it was YES sometimes, NO other times. My husband and I loosely follow the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) method of parenting, so I’d talk to her about it: I see you want milk now, we’re not going to have it now because we’re in the middle of a store, we will have it when we get back home later this afternoon. Again, you can do what works for you!

3. It provides nutrients and boost the immune system. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to breastfeed my child as long as it felt right, but my goal was at least two years. A friend of mine, who also happens to be a doctor and who leans towards the holistic side of things, told me that between two and three years of age is when children’s immune and digestive systems are more fully developed. So if you can make it that long, great; if not, that’s okay too!

It’s helpful on the days she won’t touch a vegetable - I’m assured that at least she’s getting quality nutrients via breastmilk.

4. It’s okay if you do this for you. I was planning on weaning her a few months ago, but I read that my hormones could potentially go a little wackadoodle. At the time, I had a bunch of events and trips planned, and I couldn’t afford that possibility. So we kept going.

Plus, my husband and I (and now Navy!) travel a lot. We have a busy schedule and often are switching time zones and routines. It’s convenient to have something that soothes her (that just so happens to be attached to me) in between all the things. Not everyone who does extended breastfeeding is so altruistic - it can be about you and your needs too.

5. You will feel like a superhero. I can’t believe what I’ve done and how long I’ve done it. I get to know that forever. It’s cool. I feel like a real life superhero. And even on the days when I am tired and frustrated and feel far from supermom, I’m proud of this time I’ve spent feeding my child in this particular way. And no matter how long you choose to breastfeed your babe or whatever way you choose to nourish their growing tummies, I want you to be proud of you too. Parenting is quite the “job” they told me, I just didn’t know my boobs would be such a huge part of it.

Robyn Youkilis is speaker, health coach, TV Host and #1 Bestselling Author of the books Go with Your Gut and Thin From Within.

Robyn is wearing (from top down): Loyal Hana Cybelle Dress; Loyal Hana GRL PWR Sweatshirt; Loyal Hana Lucy Dress.

Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids

Shop Robyn's look:

GRL PWR sweatshirt, $110
Lucy, black wrap dress, $155.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

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

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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.

$30

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!

$75

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.

$40

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.

$120

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

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.

$100

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

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

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.

$100

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.

$45

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.

$179

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.

$100

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.

$33

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.

$88

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