Bring on the Babies

5 reasons why enough might not be enough.

Bring on the Babies

I used to think moms with more than two kids in New York City were unicorns. You heard about them from time to time, but they were something of an urban legend. You know, like mole people.

It turns out that these particular unicorns actually do exist -- and they shop at Gristedes, ride the Q train and watch Pat Kiernan in the morning, just like the rest of us. In fact, it seems like every few weeks I’m hearing about some brave mama who’s pregnant with her third, fourth, or even fifth baby in the big city. And with each pregnancy announcement, and every new baby Facebook post, I get the tiniest pang of jealousy. Because, isn’t it true that more is more?

In my early 20s, I couldn’t imagine having a single baby -- let alone two -- in New York City. I could go weeks, even months, without encountering a single child in all my daily (and nightly) travels. But 10 years and two kids later, I’m surrounded by little people day in and day out. Now I can’t imagine having a baby anywhere else.

Still when you live in New York City, where space is scarce and life is well, expensive, adding another little one to your brood can require some pretty big sacrifices. And I’m not just talking about waiting an extra 20 minutes for a bigger table at your local brunch spot.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m lucky I was able to have two gorgeous, healthy girls, and know that for some women, having just one baby is an incredible feat. But when I look at my good fortune, I can’t help but think: couldn’t we be having double, or triple, or even quadruple the fun?

Here are a few reasons a mama -- in New York City or anywhere else -- just might want to increase the ranks.

1. So you can get it right this time. The first time I was pregnant, I read every book, listened to every piece of advice, and even took some parenting classes. Yet Baby #1 just keeps on….(fill in the blank). True, every baby is different and you never know what you’re going to get. But there are some things you can control, like your own behavior. And this time, that baby is just not going to walk (or crawl) all over you. Until they do. So you have to have another. Then another.

2. For the bragging rights. You ladies that have two little ones know exactly what I’m talking about: when you have one baby, you’re a rockstar, but when you have two babies, you’re a rockstar headlining stadiums. It’s double the work (or so we like to say), which makes us doubly as good of moms (or so we like to think, even if we don’t say it out loud). I can only imagine that having three kids -- or four or five! -- would ensure our Rock & Roll Hall of Fame status, or at least lots of brunch mentions: “Did you hear she’s having another baby? Good for her!” (Translation: Did she ever hear of birth control? She’s going to end up in a mental hospital.”)

3. Because it keeps you humble. Having my first child was the most grounding experience I’ve ever had in my life. Suddenly there was this other human being that I had to think about before myself -- that I wanted to think about before myself. Now that I’ve added another little one to the mix, I am bowled over by that sensation in double measure. On those days I get wrapped up in work/friend/family drama, a sweet baby giggle snaps me right out of it, and a silly toddler song reminds me to leave the rest of that junk outside the door.

4. The more of them there are, the more use those oversized baby toys can get. When you are having a baby, you somehow get talked into buying every possible baby apparatus ever invented, on the off-chance it will give you 20 minutes of peace and quiet while baby enjoys it. Not a great selling point: you’ll use this item for 20 minutes a day, for about 2 months, until your babe moves onto something else. And yet, I’ve got a storage unit filled with dozens of things that bounce, buzz, jump, wiggle and sing, most of which look brand spankin’ new. I refuse to get rid of them because imagine having to buy them all over again? You know, just in case it could give you 20 minutes of peace the next time around.

5. Because their love for each other is more rewarding than you could have ever imagined. It’s true what they say: I never knew love like this until I had children. Unconditional, unfiltered, would-kill-for-someone love. But the love they have for each other overwhelms me even more. I listen to the giggles they share at breakfast each morning, and get caught between their bear hugs when they go to bed each night. I sneak peeks of them sharing snacks and sometimes, even kisses. I watch them watching over each other in a way only siblings can -- in the way my brother, sister and I watched over each other, and still watch over each other. And I want to birth an army of them, so that they’ll watch over each other even after their dad and I are gone.

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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.


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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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

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.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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