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Should You Use Technology to Help Your Baby Sleep?

How the high-tech world may help baby (and you) rest easy.

Should You Use Technology to Help Your Baby Sleep?

I sleep-trained my son when he was four months old. It was a tough week, but the weeks before it were tougher. I could tell you all the reasons why I did it – my son wouldn’t fall asleep nursing; he only conked out in infuriating 2 or 3 hour chunks and then would take an hour (OR MORE) to be rocked back to sleep; he couldn’t seem to get comfortable sleeping in our bed. Or I could just tell you that in order for my husband and me to remain sane and capable parents, we needed our son to get himself to sleep sans rocking and sleep for at least a good part of the night. After a very tough week, he did both.

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But for many parents, sleep training is its own bewildering, much-longer-than-one-week slog. That's where technology – the kind I wasn't remotely aware of in my personal sleep-deprived fog three years ago – might just save the day, easing a babe to rest and, as a result, her parents too. But can all that technology really solve all your early parenting sleep problems?

Philadelphia-based family physician Hilary Rosenstein says, “I totally support trying lots of different tools to get the baby to sleep and figuring out what works for your kid. I like to give new moms encouragement that they are doing a great job and will figure out how to be the best parent to their baby, and that this difficult sleep stage is likely temporary.”

The Snoo, a vibrating bassinet designed for babies up to six months old, is at the forefront of well-reviewed, if eye-bulgingly pricy, sleep technology. Developed by pediatrician, sleep expert, and author of the wildly popular newborn sleep guide, The Happiest Baby on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo promises to “reduce crying” and “boost sleep” safely for $1160. The bassinet, which is currently on sale for the holidays, is accompanied by a set of Karp’s signature swaddle sacks.

For those in the market for more affordable white noise-based options, you might consider the Scandinavian-designed Whisbear or the Munchkin Lulla-Vibe. The Whisbear, a stuffed bear that emits a “pink noise” that mimics the womb, can be snuggled by baby anywhere. It’s also got a cry sensor, so if your little one wakes up in a rage (and I mean, in those early months, who doesn’t?), the Whisbear snaps to attention and begins soothing again.

The streamlined Lulla-Vibe is a vibrating paddle designed for tucking under a bassinet, crib mattress, or stroller seat. Its gentle vibrations promise to literally lull an infant to sleep and because the paddle works on a timer, parents can doze off blissfully without needing to turn anything off.

Speaking of keeping tabs on your baby’s sleep aids, there’s also a new monitor on the market, the Nanit, a must-have for data loving parents. The Nanit, which comes with an app, logs everything, and I mean everything, that happens -- from the moment you put baby in the crib to the moment you take baby out, including sleep onset, visits over the course of the night, and whether your kiddo is getting the most rest possible or spending a large portion of the night fussing, playing, or just plain awake.

There’s no doubt sleep aids like these can abate the anxieties associated with both sleep deprivation and early parenthood. But Rosenstein says, “I also feel like so much of the baby-related industry is ripe for exploiting the anxieties of new parents. It can make parents feel like they need all this expensive stuff, and that if they can't afford it (or are conflicted about spending the money on it), they are lacking and their kids will suffer.” Even if they work wonders for some, she says, medically speaking, none of these items are necessary.

Ultimately, you want to see what feels right for you as the parent, and remember that, as Rosenstein says, it’s not so much that your baby needs all these things, and more that high-tech gear can bring relief when things are really tough.

For many parents, just knowing that these ingenious products exist in the world is comforting -- especially when they can be ordered at all hours of the night thanks to the beautiful and tireless Internet.

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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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

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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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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