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Daycare Demystified

Did you ever want to be a fly on the wall at your infant’s daycare center?

Daycare Demystified

After spending your entire maternity leave oohing and ahhing over every move your beautiful little baby makes, the inevitable arrives: you have to return to work. For many new mamas, the thought of sending your wee one to daycare can feel as major as packing her up for college. What will she do there? Who will she meet? What if she comes home with pierced ears and a baby tattoo?

If you find the right daycare, though, the experience can serve as so much more than a babysitting service while you navigate your 9-5. Many of the programs in New York City truly benefit your baby for years to come, thanks to a focus on education and socialization in addition to nurturing.

Bright Horizons is one of those programs. Started by a husband and wife three decades ago, the company now runs more than 700 centers across the country (including nearly a dozen in New York City), staffed with bright and committed employees, and stocked with the latest and greatest in technology and equipment. “The infants that come to Bright Horizons learn to socialize and self-soothe in a different way than a child being cared for one-on-one,” explains Amy Beth Gabert, Bright Horizons’ regional manager for New York City. She highlights the center’s three-pronged approach to teach infants how to problem solve, think critically and have a positive sense of self, but notes that the “biggest piece” is socialization. “To be socialized is such a huge and important skill, and infancy is the time to establish that.”

Take a look at what our Well Rounded NY Baby Insider has to tell us about his day at one of Bright Horizons’ impressive New York City centers.

7 a.m.: Mama just dropped me off. I cried for a few minutes, because that’s what us babies do, then hung out with my seven baby buddies that share the nursery with me.

8 a.m.: The nursery reminds me of my room at home, with cool mobiles and decorations and lots of soft places to lay and stare at the ceiling. They make me do tummy time just like mama, which I seriously dislike. What do I need all this neck strength for? Then I zone out to the soothing music, alternating staring into space and snoozing.

9 a.m.: The two teachers in the nursery take turns feeding me and my baby buddies. Then I hit one of the cribs for my morning nap. Some of my baby buddies play while I get my beauty rest, and my teachers understand that we babies all have different internal clocks.

10:30 a.m.: Wake up, diaper change, then time for playing! Yesterday we did some weird science, touching ice cubes for a crazy sensory experience, and the day before I practiced my math skills by watching the teachers stack some cups. Today is music -- I can’t wait to get my drooly mouth all over that crazy shaker egg.

12 p.m.: Mmmm, lunch. I sometimes wish my teacher would give me baby Annie’s bottle since I’d really like to taste Earth's Best soy formula, but they’ve got all these strict rules and procedures about making sure we only get our own bottles. Same goes with diapers; such a bummer since that Elliott is always showing off his cool Honest pairs.

1 p.m.: Nap again! Phew, it’s hard working doing this baby thing.

2:30 p.m.: Out for a walk around lower Manhattan in the baby buggies. I love watching all the serious people in suits and flirting with the cute baby gals out walking with their nannies. They look so lonely without other babies to hang around!

3:30 p.m.: Snack time! Come on, let me try that soy! Please??

4:30 p.m.: Gym class! I keep on trying to grab that soft, colorful owl hanging above me and it keeps slipping through my fingers. Come on, little owl, come to baby. Oh, so tired. I think I’ll just go to sleep here on this activity mat.

6 p.m.: Time to go home. Mama gets my personal checklist from the teacher, so she knows how many times I pooped today (seriously embarrassing) and whether I’m hitting my baby milestones (sitting upright is my next big goal, wish me luck!). Wait, Mama, before we leave, can you check out those Honest diapers, please? See you hot babes tomorrow!

This 'mama' necklace is a bestseller for a powerful reason

There's a lot going on in the world right now, but one thing that's certain? You're still mama.

There's a lot going on in the world right now, but one thing that's certain? You're still mama. No matter what is going on at work, what decision you make about heading back to school, or how you're caring for your family right now, we know you're the best mama for your family.

So in case you need a little reminder of just how incredible you are, we love this sweet necklace from Tiny Tags. And other mamas do, too, because it's been one of our top sellers for weeks.

Whether you're coveting it for yourself or want to gift it to your favorite mama, it's one of those gifts that'll keep on giving years later. It's dainty enough to easily layer with just about anything you have in your jewelry collection, but is just as beautiful as a standalone piece to wear daily. And in these tough seasons, it's honestly a gentle, much-needed reminder that you were made for this. You can do hard things. You are doing the best you can even when it feels like you can't make one more decision.

Tiny Tags script 'mama' necklace

tiny tags mama necklace

The charm is 1/2" long and the chain is 16", falling just above most mama's collarbones. All Tiny Tags personalized jewelry is laser engraved by highly skilled artisans to make the most elegant pieces.

$105

And, don't worry, it's totally low-maintenance. Simply polish with a polishing cloth every now and then for extra shine. Now to decide: gold or silver?

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

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I have two kids—and I think I'm done

The idea of "more," making more money, obtaining more things—and in my case, creating more life—is not necessarily the ticket to a happier life.

I met my best friend Katie in fifth grade and one of our most favorite games to play was MASH. Our future fates would be decided by one "magic number" where one of us counted the rings on a spiral circle after the other screamed STOP as loud as humanly possible. "Future Husband" and "Number of Children" were clearly our two favorite categories. I remember my "magic combination," and it was marrying Mel Gibson plus having four kids.

And my plan was to do all of this by the time I reached 27. Getting married and having children would be the ultimate climax of life. At the age of nine, the pressure was on to best prepare for the long climb to the top.

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