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virtual summer camps

I was a big summer camp kid. Every year, I looked forward to summer camps that exposed me to important life skills, such as patience and how to get along well with others—and tangible lessons from sleepaway camps that taught me how to swim and get ready in the morning without help from my parents. Camp was a huge part of my childhood and it saddens me to think that due to COVID-19, most kids won't have that experience this summer.

These days, mamas are finding alternatives and looking to virtual summer camps to do a lot of the heavy lifting that traditional summer camps would provide. Ready for your little one to have some fun? Grab their digital device and make sure your internet connection is steady.

Here are cool virtual camps to keep your kids entertained this summer, no matter their interest:


1. Shine Your Light Summer Program

This summer, the Atlanta Speech School (Cox campus) is offering a free program of activities dedicated to helping parents and educators lead children through lessons on literacy science, art, physical expression, math and much more.

Ages: birth to 9

2. Camp Hullabaloo

Forget camping outdoors—let your little one develop a love for reading with Camp Hullabaloo's book subscription series. Over the course of 12 weeks, children will receive a new book and a selection of kid and family-friendly activities. Sign up by May 25 and get a free bag with your first week.

Ages: 2 to 8

3. Camp Little Passports

Camp Little Passports

Sadly, we can't travel abroad with our kids, but that doesn't mean they can't learn about various places around the globe. Little Passports, the educational monthly subscription boxes created for children, is bringing camp to your house with a summer camp in a box. The camp is offered in two categories—one for your mini world traveler and one for your little scientist.

Ages: 3 to 9+

4. Camp KiwiCo

Wondering what to do with your kid who's always tinkering with things? Campers at Camp KiwiCo will enjoy four weeks of hands-on STEM activities, programming and content. Camp doesn't kick off until June 22, but the week before, kids will receive materials they need to get kids set up for the day, including the crate projects (if purchased), and free DIY activities and print-outs. "Our goal is for that programming to be a couple of hours of activity," says Lin. "And then, if you'd like to add more to your camper's day, you can order the specific KiwiCo crates we've handpicked to go with each day's theme."

Ages: 3 to 9+

5. Camp OshKosh

OshKosh is teaming up with mom and actress Molly Sims to offer a free virtual camp each week through July 10. Camp OshKosh will feature a schedule of virtual activities to keep children inspired. From crafts to outdoor relay races mamas and kids will enjoy summer fun right in your backyard—or apartment.

Ages: 4 to 10

6. Camp YouTube

youtube

YouTube is releasing more than 1,200 free videos for children and teens on its #CampYouTube page over the coming weeks. New videos include STEM, photography, crafts, sports and much, much more.

Ages: 4 to 17

7. Baketivity Bake-A-Camp

Hot outside, sweet inside is the theme of Baketivity's camp. Bake-A-Camp campers will get a big baking box featuring four themed Baketivity kits that include fun recipes and techniques as they explore one topic, theme, or cuisine throughout the month.

Ages: 4 to 10

8. Camp Super Now

At Camp Super Now, sessions run weekly via Zoom and meet each day with fellow cabinmates and are guided through crafts, play-based learning activities, movement and mindfulness. The weekly curriculum is tailored for the campers' ages and can be customized to the interests and needs of a given group.

Ages: 5 to 11

9. Raddish Kids' camps

Founded by former middle school teacher Samantha Barnes, Raddish Kids is a monthly cooking club that exposes kids to tasty foods and inspires confidence in the kitchen. This year, they are introducing virtual camp and will offer thematic kits that include illustrated recipes, a kitchen tool and an apron patch.

In addition to its virtual summer cooking camps, Raddish is also offering free recipes and learning activities on its website alongside a free downloadable guide that lets kids create their own in-home cooking camp. How's that for a fun-filled summer?

Ages: 8 to 13

10. Adventure Links camp

From the morning prompt, each camper will work independently or within a group to collaborate with their teammates to fulfill their assignments themed around adventure and nature. In the afternoons, camp counselors will call in with their teams for Power Hour and lead a detailed, socially-interactive moment of reflection.

Ages: 8 to 16

11. Camp Woof Wag Dogs

Does your kid love dogs? Each day campers at Woof Wag Dogs will engage in activities that keep their dog involved in the fun (but educational) activities. Even when the dog is resting, your child will complete other activities like baking doggie treats or making a dog toy.

Ages: 9 to 13

12. Best Buy’s Geek Squad Academy

If you're raising a little techie, you may look to Best Buy to help you teach your child new concepts. Each virtual lesson plan provides step-by-step instruction to create video games, websites and even hone photography skills.

Ages: 9 to 18

[This was originally published May, 2020. It has since been updated.]

Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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