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Summer Protection Guide for the Pregnant Mama

And 5 natural sunscreen brands that are safe to use during pregnancy.

Summer Protection Guide for the Pregnant Mama

Ah, sunscreen. It seems like just yesterday I shunned you for Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil (did that stuff smell amazing, or what?)…. These days, I rarely go without it, and it is usually SPF 30, not 4. While we all know that it is important to wear sunscreen, when you are pregnant, there are additional facts to consider when getting ready for summer.

First, avoid sunscreens that contain “inactive” ingredients like parabens, synthetic fragrance (which usually contains phthalates), petrolatum and propylene glycol. These are known endocrine disruptors, and the last thing you want to do when pregnant is messing with your delicate hormones.

You also want to avoid active ingredients that are chemical blockers, like benzophenone, homosalate, octinoxate, octyl-methoxycinnamate, oxybenzone, PABA, or padimate-O. Though they absorb UV rays before they can damage your skin, some of these chemicals have scary consequences. Oxybenzone, for example, which penetrates the skin very easily and can be found in the urine of nearly every American, mother’s milk and umbilical cord blood, is also an endocrine disruptor. It mimics estrogen, has been found to alter sperm count in animals and interferes with normal fetal and childhood development.

What’s more, many conventional sunscreens only block UVB rays. But the sun’s UVA rays also age us and cause cancer, so make sure you aren’t missing half of the equation when making your purchase and favor sunscreens that use physical blockers, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These actually block and deflect UVA and UVB rays (also referred to as broad-spectrum).

Still feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of options out there? Don’t worry. I’ve tried them all, so you don’t have to. Here are 5 of my favorite natural sunscreen brands for pregnancy.

1. Suntegrity. During pregnancy, pigment-producing cells called melanocytes kick into overdrive. This makes your skin more susceptible to discoloration (anything from freckles to melasma), especially when it's exposed to UV rays. So it’s more important than ever to protect your face. Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Tinted Face Sunscreen is my go-to for a beach day. It gives incredible, nontoxic protection from the sun while evening out skin tone. For those with normal-dry skin, it can also be worn over moisturizeror under makeup for everyday use. And, with 4 versatile shades, there is an option for virtually everyone. They also make an equally fabulous untinted formula, which goes on totally sheer and feels like a luxe primer.

Since your bump is the most prominent part of the body, it is more susceptible to burning. So if you’re wearing a bikini while pregnant, remember to reapply often. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body SPF 30 is simply stellar. It contains a whopping 20 percent non-nano zinc oxide, which not only protects from both UVA and UBV rays, but also soothes skin. The finish is sheer, and the formula is very moisturizing, but not greasy, and it has a light, natural citrus scent. If you prefer, they also make an unscented version, and they even make a TSA-approved travel size for your short travels.

2. True Botanicals. True Botanicals Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20 is one of my daily essentials and an all-time favorite. I love this lightweight formula so much that I even wear it as my tinted moisturizer under my makeup for evening outings. This product creates a true soft-focus effect. It’s offered in two shades: light and medium.

3. Ursa Major. For those of you who are looking for an untinted daily SPF, Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense SPF 18 goes on sheer – I’m talking ZERO white, chalky, tint. It is not oily, greasy, heavy, or runny, it doesn’t leave me shiny. The finish is semi-matte, and instead of rubbing it in for 5 minutes like many other SPFs, it sinks right into skin. It is perfect for those who have oily skin or are acne prone.

4. Acure. If you must use a spray (I don’t personally love the inhalations risks), you can rejoice in the long-time-coming release of a safe sunscreen spray, by Acure Organics Sunscreen Spray SPF 30. It’s nontoxic, mineral based, and made with non-nano zinc oxide. It’s water resistant up to 80 minutes and doesn’t leave a ghostly-white finish. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic.

5. Ilia. Because a girl’s gotta have accessories, I love Ilia Moondance Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20. This mineral-based finishing powder is perfect for reapplication while on the go, and totally zaps shine. The spill-proof applicator has an open, close and buff option that is perfect for touching up while out in the sun. Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner SPF 15 is the perfect trifecta of lip balm, lipstick, and sun protection with a peachy, universally flattering hue. Ingredients such as cocoa and Shea butter hydrate lips, while zinc oxide provides natural SPF. If you’re in the sun, reapply often.

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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

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

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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

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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In Montessori schools, parents are periodically invited to observe their children at work in the classroom. I have heard many parents express shock to see their 3- or 4-year-old putting away their own work when they finish—without even being asked!

"You should see his room at home!" or, "I ask him to put his toys away every day, and it's a battle every single time" were frequent comments.

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