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The toy capsule collection:  The only 5 toys kids need to inspire  imagination

You know how your son will get a $100 present from grandma, but will end up having the most fun playing with the box? Or how your daughter will emerge from the playroom - the playroom that is piled high with so many toys, ohmygoodness-how-did-we-even-acquire-all-of-these-toys?! - only to announce she has NOTHING to do? Yup. We’ve been there, and so have you.


Turns out, mamas, that less actually is more. Simple, timeless, and minimalist toys inspire open-ended play, spark imagination, and get the creative juices flowing. We’ve chosen five of our faves here that truly stand the test of time.

For letting imaginations run wild: Melissa & Doug Solid-Wood Building Blocks

Simple, wooden blocks have been a part of imaginative childhood play for centuries, and for good reason-- the possibilities for creative play here are endless. Melissa & Doug Solid-Wood Building Blocks are a timeless collection that let your toddler and preschool-aged kiddo build everything from a dollhouse to a rocket ship. The set includes 60 natural-finished, smooth hardwood blocks that are easy for little hands to grab and stack. They encourage open-ended (and super fun!) play while simultaneously teaching sophisticated concepts such as math, organizational and sequential skills, and spatial relations. We can’t say enough good thing about these blocks; we promise you’ll get years of play out of them. (And maybe even enough free time to take a shower and blow-dry your hair!)

Pro tip: Keep the wooden storage box that comes with the set—it's incredibly durable, simply styled, and lets your kids clean up the blocks all on their own.

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For inspiring the next generation: Little People, Big Dreams series

Big topics can be tough to explain to little people, but the inspiring new Little People, Big Dreams series tackles this issue with grace and simplicity. The straightforward text and minimalist illustrations perfectly capture the incredible lives and accomplishments of famous designers, artists, and scientists. The books are easy enough for a toddler to understand yet complex enough to spark the curiosity of an older child, ensuring that your little reader will return to this series again and again.

Pro tip: We LOVE giving books as gifts - especially to clutter-conscious mamas - and we think bundling a few of these together would be perfect for that special little person in your life. Gift Maya Angelou, Amelia Earhart, and Coco Chanel to really rock the girl power!

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For a space all their own: DalosDream Teepee Tent

What’s better than having a little hiding spot all to yourself where you can dream, play, read, and imagine? The DalosDream Teepee Tent is the perfect play space for when your little one needs a little me time, whether it’s for play or rest. Roomy enough for comfortable play and sturdy enough to withstand years of use, this tents simple and modern aesthetic compliments any bedroom or play space. Now if only these came in grown-up sizes...

Pro tip: We found the tent tends to move around a bit during play, so adding a heavy blanket and some pillows to the base is the perfect solution to keep it a bit more stable and to create a comfy little nest perfect for snuggling and relaxing!

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For the budding artist: Little Parners Tri-Side Learn & Play Art Center

There are few things we appreciate more than finding products that are beautiful and functional, and the Tri-Side Learn & Play Art Center from Little Partners certainly checks that box. The tripod setup includes three separate boards - a chalkboard, a felt board, and a magnetic dry erase board with a refillable roll for parchment paper - so your little artist can get the creative juices flowing. Four non-spill (??) paint containers and a deep, sturdy bottom shelf to help everything stay neat and organized.

Pro tip: Our fave feature - and what really sets this easel apart - is that each board’s height adjusts independently. We love that the art center not only grows with your child, but allows for friends - and siblings - to play together at the same time.

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For the problem solver: Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Chunky Puzzle

Hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and fine motor control are all super important when it comes to baby and toddler development, and puzzles are a great way for kiddos to play while also building these important skills. We love Melissa & Doug for so many of their innovative toys, but we can’t get enough of their Wooden Chunky Puzzles. With so many to choose from - farm animals, dinosaurs, sea creatures, oh my! - you’re going to have trouble narrowing it down to just one.

Pro tip: The chunky wooden puzzle pieces stand on their own and can also be used for pretend play fun!

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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.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Chrissy Teigen accidentally revealed her baby’s gender while on bedrest 😮

Chrissy let out a major secret about her third pregnancy! Do you think it's a baby boy or a baby girl? :heartpulse::blue_heart:

In August, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend announced that they were expecting baby number three. They shared their news with the world in the release of Legend's beautiful new music video, Wild.

Baby number three will be joining older sister, 4-year-old Luna, and older brother, 2-year-old Miles, in what seems like an enormously fun family to be a part of! Luna and Miles were conceived via IVF, so the family was thrilled to learn that they were pregnant again—because this third pregnancy was a total surprise (and honestly, the boost we all needed in 2020)!

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