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While we can’t guarantee a mess-free experience (sorry!), these eight products will help you foster a miniature foodie from your baby’s first nibbles to those big kid bites.


1. For busy moms with great taste: Raised Real Membership

Sure, you love the idea of making your own baby food. But finding the time to buy, prep, and cook nutritious food for every meal is hard if, you know, you want to do anything else with your day—until now. Meet Raised Real, the homemade baby food company that delivers organically sourced, fresh, and pre-portioned meals to your home every two weeks. Every meal contains whole ingredients like sweet potato and mango or broccoli and kale. Better yet, they’re tested and optimized by co-founder Dr. Michelle Davenport, a registered dietitian with a PhD in nutrition, to make sure each bite nourishes your baby as much as possible. Raised Real even helps you do the work of blending and steaming with their all-in-one Meal Maker (free with membership), which means less cleaning post-mealtime. And because the ingredients are all raw, diced, and plant-based, you can customize the steaming and blending to serve as puree or finger food as your little one grows.

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Pro tip: What if you have questions? Your membership also gives you access to Raised Real’s Baby Food Hotline. Simply text your concerns to receive answers, tips, and even encouragement for first feeders.

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2. For quicker cleanups: Bumkins Waterproof Bibs

While we can’t guarantee that every first foods session won’t result in a full laundry basket, we can offer one less thing you’ll need to scrub down: your baby’s bib! These waterproof bibs from Bumkins are made from a waterproof fabric and designed to be comfortable and durable. There’s even a pocket to catch spills—meaning you might get to skip mopping the floor. (Here’s hoping!)

Pro tip: When you do need to wash the bib (like after baby’s first time trying blueberries, for example), they’re safe to throw in the washing machine, but be sure to hang dry to protect the waterproof fabric.

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3. For a smoother scoop: Olababy Training Spoon

Inspired by nature and designed to be baby’s first self-feeding spoon, the Olababy Training Spoon features a flexible, leaf-shaped tip that flexes to scoop, cut, and slice from any angle. It’s also ergonomically designed for little hands, and the wide base allows the spoon to rest upright to avoid germs. (Meaning it’s perfect for baby’s first time eating in public!)

Pro tip: The BPA-free material and flexible design also make this spoon great for teething babies—especially when those molars start to come in.

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4. To prevent foodie flinging: Munchkin Stay-Put Suction Bowls

The hardest part of first feedings? That first time your baby inevitably chucks his bowl onto the floor. (Don’t worry, mama—it happens to the best of us!) Or, you could skip that moment entirely with a bowl that knows how to hold its ground. We love the Stay-Put Suction Bowls from Munchkin, which cling to almost any surface for fewer spills. When mealtime is over, simply pull the quick-release tab on the suction base for easy parent removal.

Pro tip: Ready to un-stick? Place dirty bowls into the dishwasher to clean, and then get back to playtime.

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5. For drip-free sips: LollaCup Straw Sippy Cup

Ah, the sippy cup. It seems like no one has been able to design one just right yet… or at least that’s how we felt until we discovered Lollaland’s Lollacup. Featured on Shark Tank, this genius little cup features a weighted straw for easy sips, even when the cup is tilted. It’s also valve-free, meaning your child won’t struggle to suck and you won’t struggle to clean hard-to-reach corners. Plus, that cute little bird face top? Totally adorable.

Pro tip: No more fighting to fit your baby’s cup into the cup holder—this cup’s handles detach with a single twist for a perfect fit almost every time.

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6. To catch any extra spills: EzPz Happy Mats

Skip the bowl entirely in favor of a sectioned placemat that won’t slip or slide during mealtime. Happy Mats from EzPz are made from 100 percent food-grade silicone and offer three portioned compartments that are four or ten ounces each. They’re also dishwasher-, microwave-, and oven safe up to 350 degrees—hello, fewer dishes!

Pro tip: Feeding a crowd? Three to four Happy Mats can be stacked and carried with food for quicker serving.

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7. For little leftovers: Bluelans Silicone Weaning Baby Food Freezer Tray

We’ll admit, not every new food is going to be a hit the first time your baby tries it. If you can only get your little one to eat a few bites (or you make more than you need to fill that little belly) save the leftovers in the freezer to try another day. We love this silicone freezer tray from Bluelans, with seven BPA- and PVC-free compartments. When it’s time to eat, simply pop out one of the scoops to defrost—dinner is served!

Pro tip: Each tray is stain-resistant and dishwasher safe for an easy clean up.

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8. For cooler snacking: Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder

If serving those first few bites has you feeling nervous about your baby choking, consider a Fresh Food Feeder from Munchkin to get things started. The mesh feeder keeps bigger food chunks in place until your baby can gum them down to size, and it’s BPA-free for safe sucking. The colorful mesh also resists stains during snack time.

Pro tip: Teething baby? Place a piece of frozen fruit in the feeder for some soothing chewing.

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Brought to you by Motherly in partnership with Raised Real. For more info on our advertising guidelines, click here. We only include products we’ve tested and loved in MotherlyLoves. Through affiliate programs, we may receive a revenue percentage if you purchase through our website.

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So far 2020 has been a year of big changes for Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Earlier this month the royal couple announced their plans to step back as senior members of the royal family. Initially, the plan was for the couples to retain their royal tiles and raise their "son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born" while also give themselves the space to work and live in North America. Sometimes young parents have to make tough choices to do what's best for their new family and that can mean making changes that impact your family of origin.

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On Sunday, during a speech at a charity event for Sentebale (an organization Prince Harry co-founded to get support children living with HIV in Southern Africa), the Duke of Sussex explained that stepping back from being a senior royal wasn't easy but had to be done.

"The UK is my home and a place that I love," he explained. "That will never change...The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," he said. "It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven't always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option."

This follows the Queen's announcement earlier this weekend. She stated that her family has found a way for Harry and Meghan to move forward, and it means they're not only not senior royals anymore, they do not have HRH titles (His Royal Highness or Her Royal Highness) anymore and "are no longer working members of the Royal Family."

The statement from the Queen reads, in part: "Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.

"Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.

"I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.

"I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.

"It is my whole family's hope that today's agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life."

The Queen's statement explains that Harry and Meghan have "shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home."

Basically, they're serious about being financially independent and they're going to pay rent on the cottage.

Untangling family issues can be hard, and it is difficult for anyone to imagine what it must be like to live this out on the world's stage. In her statement, the Queen said she understands the role the intense press scrutiny has played in the couple's decision to forge a new path, and that they will always be her family.

Whether you're leaving the royal family to move to Canada, or just trying to explain to your parents that your own family needs to move to another state, the challenges are real.

Here's to a new chapter for Harry and Meghan and all the other new parents writing their own stories.

[This post was originally published January 18, 2020. It has been updated.]

News

Motherhood is a juggling act. Whether you have one child or many, work outside the home or don't, have a partner or are doing this whole thing solo, you are always juggling something. So how on earth do we keep up the act? How do we ensure no ball gets dropped?

We don't.

All of us, every single one, lets something slip through our fingers on some occasion or another. And that's totally okay.

A friend from college recently commented on Instagram how peaceful and sweet my children seemed. I laughed out loud, and not an endearing chuckle, a wholehearted cackle. What a glorious and erroneous idea that my children are peaceful and sweet. I have three of these beautiful monsters, ages 12, 5 and 4 months. Our house sounds more like a child run circus than a zen meditation retreat.

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It is true that my children are sweet at times. And I will admit I try very hard to create a peaceful life and home, but those are not the two words I would ever use to describe our family. I might choose words like rambunctious, spirited, passionate and intense.

What I realized as I simultaneously smiled and snorted in laughter, was that I put a lot of work into creating a life on social media that looks just like that. Peaceful and sweet. I choose my words carefully, I edit my photos and of course choose only the best ones, the ones where everyone is smiling and we appear to love each other. The pictures of my children pulling each other's hair, stealing snacks and shouting that they hate each other don't get quite as many likes.

Don't get me wrong—my children often smile and we do love each other very much. But by carefully curating the life I post on social media I have unintentionally created something laughable. What a jolt to realize the very thing I'm striving for makes me laugh out loud when someone names it. Is there anything more inauthentic than that?

I am working to strive for authenticity and perfect imperfection.

I make mistakes, hurt those I love, burn dinner and that is what makes me human.

I drop the ball every single day in some large or small way—and that's okay. It is to be expected really.

It's what can give us the gift of connection. We can connect with one another via our faults and our vulnerabilities. We starve ourselves of this by pretending to be perfect.

As I write this I'm sitting in the front seat of my car in the parking lot of our local skate park, my youngest is napping in his car seat, my oldest is wearing a helmet and pads and is driving his new BMX bike as fast as he can up and down hills and ramps set at odd angles with weird curves among them.

This moment feels ideal t. The breeze blows through my open windows as my oldest is getting a great workout and my youngest slowly wakes up cooing.

We can only enjoy the moment if we are present within it. When I live my life constantly in a state of distraction, constantly keeping my eyes on all the balls I'm juggling, I'm not enjoying any of it.

I am not a master juggler at this moment in life. I don't think what I'm doing even looks like juggling. I do not have my eyes on all the balls, I am not even attempting to catch or toss them all in that perfect arc that looks so magical.

I prefer to relish these kinds of moments, soak up their joy, their peace, their sweetness and to do that I have to let go of the charade, I have to accept imperfection in the form of letting some balls drop.

I want to live a life full of authenticity and joy in the simple moments.

I want to live without the pressure of doing it all.

I want to give myself the gift of not doing everything the way it should be done by the imagined deadlines that cannot be met.

I want to enjoy my rambunctious, passionate children.

So I let the ball drop—and I'm okay with that.

Life

Feeding your new baby can be a beautiful experience, but it can also be really hard. We at Motherly have talked about it. Amy Schumer has talked about it. And now Kate Upton is talking about it, too.

Upton and her husband Justin Verlander became parents when their daughter Genevieve was born in November 2018, and in a new interview with Editorialist, Upton explains that while she loves motherhood she didn't always love breastfeeding.

"Having VeVe has changed my life in such a wonderful way," she explains, adding that in the early days of motherhood she felt "so much pressure"..."to be doing all these things, like breastfeeding on the go—when the reality, for me, was that breastfeeding was sucking the energy away from me. I realized I needed to calm down, to allow my body to recover."

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Breastfeeding can take up a lot of a mama's time and energy in those early weeks and months, and while Upton doesn't explicitly say whether she switched to formula, combo fed, pumped or what, it's clear that she did give herself some grace when it came to breastfeeding and found the right parenting pace by taking the pressure off of herself.

Upton took the pressure off herself when it came to her demanding breastfeeding schedule, and she's also resisting the pressure to keep up with a social media posting schedule.

"I want to be enjoying my life, enjoying my family, not constantly trying to take the perfect picture," she says. "I think my husband wants me to throw my phone away. We talk about it in the house all the time: 'Let's have a phone-free dinner.' We don't want [our daughter] thinking being on the phone is all that life is."

Whether the pressure to be perfect is coming from your phone or from society's conflicting exceptions of mothers it's a force worth rejecting. Upton is loving life at her own pace, imperfect as reallife can be.

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After the treat-filled sugar rush of holidays and birthdays, it can be hard to get back on track with eating healthy as a family. (What can I say, I love cake—and my kids do, too.) It's totally okay to hold your boundary for sugar in your kid's diet, no matter what that boundary is. And you can do it without being the bad guy.

Putting a positive spin on "the sugar issue" (letting kids know that they can have treats sometimes, but not all. the. time.) will help prevent sugar becoming an ongoing power struggle, which nobody wants.

Here are a few phrases that can help your kids eat less sugar, without creating a power struggle over treats:

1. "Holiday and birthday treats are so fun, but they're not for every day."

Acknowledge that all of the extra treats were fun (they were!). You can talk about how some foods are for special occasions and others are the ones we eat every day to have strong bodies and feel good.

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2. "I feel so much better when I eat lots of fruits and vegetables."

Instead of putting the emphasis on why sugar is bad, try focusing on all the good reasons to eat healthy foods. You can talk about how eating carrots gives us strong eyes, eating oranges keeps us from getting sniffles, or eating kale helps us feel good and have lots of energy for playing.

3. "Which fruit would you like to have with your lunch?"

Keep it fun by letting your child choose which healthy foods to eat. Two or three choices are fine. You can let them help pick at the grocery store or let them pick from the options you've selected—the important thing is to offer choice.

4. "Let's see if we can make a rainbow on your plate!"

Who doesn't love rainbows, especially among the under-six crowd? Use their universal appeal to your advantage and encourage kiddos to make their own edible rainbows.

Make it extra fun by writing a checklist with colored pencils, one checkbox for every rainbow color, and bringing it with you to the grocery store. Let your child choose one item from the produce section for every color.

5. "You can choose one treat with dinner, but candy isn't a choice for snack today."

Make sure kids know that they will still be able to enjoy treats sometimes. Instead of saying "candy makes you crazy," or "sugar rots your teeth," just let them know when you're okay with them having a treat. It may be every night after dinner, only on Friday nights, or it may not be until Valentine's Day, but having a clear boundary will help reduce the constant pleas for sweet treats.

6. "I think treats feel more special when we don't have them every day."

Talk to your child about how part of the fun of holiday treats is that they're out of the ordinary. They are special traditions we get to enjoy each year and they help make the holidays feel magical. Just as it wouldn't be as fun if we had a Christmas tree up all year or wore a Halloween costume every day, treats aren't as fun if we eat them nonstop.

7. "I hear that you really want candy. I can't let you have it right now, but it's okay to be disappointed."

Let your child know that you empathize with their feelings about not being able to eat what they want all of the time.

Sometimes children just need to be heard. It might be more important to them to know that you understand their feelings about treats than to actually get a treat.

8. "Let's think of a healthy treat we could get at the grocery store next week."

Brainstorm with your child and come up with a list of healthy treats you could bring home from your next grocery shopping trip. This might be a kind of fruit they haven't had in a while, a granola bar you don't usually buy, or the makings of a fun trail mix.

Part of the fun of treats is the ritual—you can still enjoy the sweetness without the extra sugar.

9. "Would you like to bake with me?"

Carry those fond memories of making Christmas cookies together into the new year to help wean kids off the holiday high of constant treats. Just find something you're okay with your child eating regularly, like a healthy muffin recipe, baked oatmeal, or energy bites—whatever meets your own nutritional guidelines for your family!

10. "I noticed you didn't sleep well when you ate those treats before nap time. Let's think of a better time for treats together."

You can explain the effects of sugar on the body without vilifying it. Sometimes just saying sugar is bad makes it all the more desirable or pits you against your child. But that doesn't mean you can't give them the facts. Just tell them plainly that sugar makes it harder for them to sleep well, makes it harder for them to concentrate, or whatever other effects you've seen.

Here's to a healthy 2020—you've got this, mama!

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