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2016 gift guide for new mamas

Let’s be real: You’ve earned every single thing on this list. Treat yourself, mama!

2016 gift guide for new mamas

Mama, if there’s anyone out there who deserves a spot on the nice list this year, it’s you. ?


After working all the midnight shifts, playing a million games of peekaboo, and changing more than a few diapers (some filled with lumps of...well...not quite coal), here are seven gifts to say thanks—

1. Pixley Pressed Vertical Bar Necklace

We carry our “World’s Greatest Mom” mugs proudly, but we’re also huge fans of a gift that celebrates our mama status in a way that’s also incredibly chic. These vertical bar necklaces from Pixley Pressed are a great way to commemorate an important date (like, oh, maybe that time you met your baby for the first time), and they are classic enough to wear every day.

Pro tip: More than one kid? No worries: The necklaces are available in one-, two-, and three-bar styles, and you can update over time.

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2. Rothy’s Ballet Flats

These shoes were made for walking—and running errands, commuting to work, and chasing after runaway toddlers. The seamless design is sturdy enough to support your feet but has enough give to let you walk for hours without a blister in sight. There are a variety of colors and patterns available in rounded toe and point, but the best part is that they are made from 100 percent recycled water bottles—bonus points for looking stylish and helping the earth!

Pro tip: Skip those annoying tiny socks that end up bunched around your toes anyway because these babies are machine washable. (Have we found the perfect shoe? Maybe.)

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3. BEABA Baby Cookbook (New Edition)

Perfect for the foodie mamas you know, this new edition cookbook from our favorite baby food cooker and blender is packed with nutritious, tasty, and easy-to-make recipes for babies. Bonus: Some of the recipes are so delicious, you’ll probably find yourself stealing bites off your baby’s tray.

Pro tip: Gift it with the BEABA 360 Magic Self-leveling Spoon to make it a gift for mama + baby—and to start encouraging self-feeding with ease.

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4. Rifle Paper Co. iPhone Case

What started in 2009 as the prettiest stationery company around has rapidly evolved into everything from books to fabric to temporary tattoos. And now you can carry a bit of Rifle Paper Co.’s gorgeous designs everywhere you go as a protective case for your phone. It’s going to look so good in all your #momlife mirror selfies on Instagram!

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5. Belly Bandit Mother Tucker Leggings

Trust us when we tell you that these are not just any leggings. Perfect for post-partum mamas, Mother Tucker leggings offer three targeted compression zones to shape and smooth your belly, butt, and thighs. Wear them to the gym, while running errands, or while simply lounging at home (hey, you might work out later, right?).

Pro tip: These pants hold their shape wash after wash, so just consider them one less thing to worry about.

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6. Instant Pot

We know, we know—a kitchen appliance hardly seems like a gift to get excited about. But bear with us here, because this snazzy pot is so much more than a slow cooker. The multifunctional Instant Pot can take the place of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, sauté/browning pan, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer. An appliance that helps us make dinner faster and get back to playing with our kids? Okay, we’re getting excited now.

Pro tip: Not sure where to start with your Instant Pot? This can help.

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7. Birchbox Subscription

We don’t know about you, but the thought of bringing our grabby toddler into our Sephora kind of makes us start breaking out into hives. Help a mama skip the store (and the lines) by giving her a subscription to Birchbox. This monthly delivery service will ship the recipient a box of five beauty products to sample. Give a 3-, 6-, or 12-months subscription, and she’ll thank you every time her delivery arrives. No hives required.

Pro tip: When you activate your subscription, customize your profile so your box includes the products you really want. Fancy eye creams, here you come!

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Psst: We only write about products we’ve actually tested and loved in MotherlyLoves. Through affiliate partnerships, we may get a share of revenue if you purchase through our website.

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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

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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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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