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'Round Town: Mary Helen Bowers

The creator of Ballet Beautiful shows us her New York.

'Round Town: Mary Helen Bowers

The beauty of New York is that anything is possible. People move here from all over the world to fulfill lifelong dreams. And when you’re raising a little one here, the options of what he or she can achieve are endless. For professional ballerina and creator of Ballet Beautiful Mary Helen Bowers, that lifelong dream was ballet. “I moved to NYC when I was 15 to study on a scholarship at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet. The next fall, I was invited to join New York City Ballet, where I danced for 10 years,” she says.

From there, Mary Helen transformed her talent as a ballerina to build Ballet Beautiful, a workout program for dancers and non-dancers alike. “This company has been so many years in the making. It has given me an incredible opportunity to share my love of ballet, along with the artistry and athleticism of dance, with so many other women around the world,” says Mary Helen.

“It's been amazing to realize how many people out there are seeking a transformative workout that strengthens and empowers you from the inside out. Ballet Beautiful is a workout, but it's also a state of mind. It's about connecting with your inner strength and beauty and manifesting that power in a healthy, happy way each day,” she says.

And while Ballet Beautiful was already transformative for so many people, it was Mary Helen’s most transformative stage--her pregnancy with her 18-month-old daughter Lumina Belle--that led her to create the prenatal workout Ballet Baby.

Here, Mary Helen tells us about her own pregnancy experience and how it influenced Ballet Baby, and shows us her favorite spots ’round town.

How did Ballet Baby come to fruition?

Ballet Beautiful is the workout that I spent years seeking for myself as a professional ballerina, both on and off the stage. Ballet Baby is in many ways an extension of Ballet Beautiful in that the workouts and program were built around my experience while pregnant and my desire to create a program to help other women stay healthy, strong and fit throughout pregnancy.

Why is working out while pregnant so important?

People talk a lot about prenatal fitness and its benefits--there are so many! Working out while pregnant helps the body maintain strength and muscle tone. It relieves fatigue and many of the common aches and pains associated with pregnancy. I also think that one of the more overlooked but incredibly important aspects of working out while pregnant is how much easier it makes your life as a new mom. Getting back in shape can be tough, and time is precious with a new baby in the house. I think most moms have had a postpartum moment where they wondered if their body would ever come back. It will, and it does with time and the right workouts! There is no question that going into motherhood strong and fit makes the process of getting back into shape easier, faster and less stressful as well.

Can people go into your studio and take classes?

Our Soho studio offers small group classes and private lessons to members. We also provide many online options for training which can be a lifesaver as a mom. We teach live classes online and have an amazing monthly subscription filled with challenging workouts that can be done anywhere, anytime.

Does your daughter like ballet yet? How important is it for you to pass on this gift?

She loves dancing with mommy. I think as a parent the most important thing is to help your children find and realize their special gifts. For me that was ballet. For Lumina it could be anything--astrophysics, swimming, math... Whatever it is, we will support her every step of the way.

Please share some of your favorite NYC spots...

Coffee: Ground Support in Soho

Baby/Kids shops: Giggle is great for newborn essentials. I wish I had more time for shopping. I buy almost everything online!

Beauty: Fresh is a favorite. I love their soaps, face masks and creams.

Playdate: Something outdoors. The carousel or the zoo!

Clothes shopping: MiniMode is a fun new site. I'm short on time so most of my purchases are made online!

Nosh: Bare Burger is family friendly.

Secret Spot: The Cloisters is so beautiful. It's not the best for a stroller, but it’s filled with beauty and feels like you are stepping back in time.

A dose of fresh air: The Bronx Botanical Gardens are incredibly beautiful and diverse.

Photography by Raquel Langworthy

Hair by Jacob Rozenberg

Makeup by Ylenia Mazzei

Activewear and shoes by Ballet Beautiful

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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What went viral this week: Pregnant Disney Princesses + an airline nightmare

Now, more than ever, we need to hear those good news stories.

Last week was a week.

We lost a legal and cultural icon with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deadly wildfires continue to blaze on the West Coast. Now, more than ever, we need to see creativity, kindness and compassion in our world—we need to hear those "good news" stories, but we also need to see the headlines that show us how and why the world needs to change .

And right now both kinds of stories are going viral.

Here are the viral stories you need to read right now:

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