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Images of Motherhood

Stop censoring motherhood on social media.

Images of Motherhood

We used to do this baby-raising thing as a village, with generations of women living together, giving advice, holding hands and offering support. Today, with our hectic schedules, many of us are raising babies on our own. So, social media often becomes our global village.

On Pinterest, we spot other pregnant gals and swoon over their style. On Facebook, we update our friends and our friends’ friends about our baby’s progression, first on the inside, then on the outside--all in just seconds. And on Instagram, we follow moms who inspires us from across town, across the country and across the ocean. With social media, we connect, we embrace and we gather strength to continue on. As moms. As women.

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When it comes to breastfeeding, this online community can make all the difference. An image of a mama nursing on Instagram can give you the strength to get out of bed and put your own babe to your breast, no matter how tired or defeated you feel. It can embolden you to go out to brunch and nurse your baby at the table. It can help you keep breastfeeding for just one more day, one more week, one more month.

Even for those of us mamas that didn’t or don’t breastfeed, like me, Instagram can create kinship with other moms who use the bottle, and amazement and appreciation for the many mamas who proudly--and beautifully--advocate to normalize breastfeeding. Bravado Designs recently conducted a survey that revealed that 90% of women somewhat to strongly agree that the ability to share breastfeeding photos on Facebook contributes to their feeling supported in their breastfeeding journey.

For all of these reasons, and so many more, we have been horrified by the censorship we’ve seen on Instagram over these past few weeks, resulting in more than a few of our friends losing their photo streams. In many of those cases, these Instagram-banned moms were breastfeeding--some were showing skin, and others showing nothing at all. Someone found their images offensive, and their accounts--not just the questionable images, mind you, but every single one of their memories ever documented on Instagram--disappeared.

We can’t even begin to imagine what would provoke someone--whether a suit in a corporate headquarters or a judge-y mom living right next door--to deny ANY mom the right to post images of herself and her family, doing things that are not only natural, but in many cases beautiful, inspiring and empowering.

And we can’t imagine what would provoke someone to deny another mom out there the sense of community she finds when scrolling through Instagram on those late nights, when she has nobody to talk to but a crying baby, when she’s questioning what’s “normal,” and when she’s wondering if she’s the only person in the world feeling confused, overwhelmed or scared. This was her village.

But let's not feel disheartened. Let’s keep on fighting the good fight. We love all of you (and every part of you), and we want you to keep showing off your favorite photos of you feeding your little one on social media. Then head on over to Change.org, where photographer Ashlee Wells Jackson of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project (check out some of her photos accompanying this post) already has more than 18,000 names for her petition to stop censoring motherhood. The Stop Censoring Movement (attached to 4th Trimester Bodies Project) was created when Jackson and others' social media accounts started getting flagged and deleted in August 2013.

You can also get on instagram and repost #stopcensoringmotherhood from @wellroundedny’s Instagram feed. And of course, support your Instagram-banned mama friends, and ours, like the amazing @julsgarces (now on IG as @julesgarces) whose former stream was so adorable, we had her take over our own Instagram account just last month. (#bringbackjulsgarces)

Whether you’re on the posting or the scrolling side, we hope you’ll help us keep that great, supportive mama community alive and well on social media. Because it truly takes a village.

Photos by Ashlee Wells Jackson.

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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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com 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 support Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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