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The First Doll

5 little babies for your own little baby.

The First Doll

A child's first doll can be a big deal for not only the child, but for the parent as well. It's a milestone when your baby is showing signs of interest in caring for another tiny being, even if--shhhhh--it isn't real. This milestone can happen as early as a year old, which means a baby’s first birthday might be the perfect time to give a gift of a doll.

We've rounded up some of the most special options for your little one's first doll experience.

1. Keepsake Doll: Jess Brown Sprite Doll

Sparkle Sprite is one of the many beautiful, handmade dolls by Jess Brown. Each doll is made of linen or muslin as well as recycled antique fabrics and findings, which makes each doll completely unique. There are three skin color options but no doll is identical to the next. A Jess Brown doll is an investment in a beautiful piece of artwork for your little one to enjoy forever. Buy one now. $234

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2. Girl Power Doll: Willowbrook Girls “Cara” Doll

Cara Morales-Burch is an incredible leader and can inspire any team. A budding entrepreneur, she starts a business with the rest of the Willowbrook Girls. Cara wants to to be CEO of her own company one day.” The team at Willowbrook is aiming to create better role models for young girls through their dolls. Their line of dolls each have their own story which range from journalism to computer science. Preorder on Kickstarter, $88

3. Dressable Doll: Hazel Village “Louise” Doll

Louise is a human girl (amongst lots of Hazel Village animal friends) who enjoys exploring the forest, doing crafts and making up stories! She is made of organic cotton and like all the other Hazel Village creatures, is heirloom quality-meant to grow with your child. Louise is a perfect first doll because she is so soft and sweet for your little baby but you can change her clothes and dress her up when you child begins to show interest. Louise can share clothes with all her other Hazel Village friends and bonus-she can be monogrammed to make little Louise an extra special gift! Buy her now. $52

4. Real Life Baby Doll: Corolle “Babipouce” Doll

The Corolle Babipouce doll is a sweet baby doll. Standing at only 11” and made of soft, plush material, she is a perfect option for tiny fingers to grasp. Her skin is scented with vanilla, which is a Corolle signature. Corolle creates dolls to look like actual babies and even follows the latest fashion trends in children’s clothing making it even more fun to dress. They make a large variety of dolls to fit your child’s needs as they grow and mature. Buy her now. $36.99

5. Gender Neutral Doll: Snuggly Ugly SU Animals

This collection of animals is a great option for the little ones who might not want a baby or girl doll. Snuggly Ugly dolls are made of up-cycled cashmere, which are colorful and eco-friendly. The folks at Snuggly Ugly want to get more handmade items into everyone’s hands which can connect us to each other in an invaluable way. Their goal is to create things the way they used to be. Buy it now. $56

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

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

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