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They're loud, fast, exciting and sometimes they are even labeled as educational, but a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests high-tech toys should be left off the shopping list this Christmas.

The AAP's new report, Selecting Appropriate Toys for Young Children in the Digital Era, suggests parents pass over overstimulating light and sound toys, digital devices and apps and choose old-school items like blocks or dolls instead.

The AAP stresses that high-quality toys don't have to come with a high price tag, and that the best toys are the ones that are developmentally appropriate and encourage kids and parents to play together. They're worried that in recent years parents have come to see flashy toys and apps as necessary for child development, when they are not and can actually be disruptive to the parent-child relationship.

"While it's easy to fall victim to the marketing, you are your child's best teacher," the AAP notes.

Kids are going to learn more playing with mama than they would from any app and there are a ton of pediatrician-approved toys that can help facilitate that play (and that kids can also engage in solitary play with as they age).

Here's what the AAP wants to see under the tree instead of an iPad:

1. Motor skills builders 

Old-school basics like wooden blocks, shapes, puzzles, and trains help children with fine-motor skills, as well as language and math skills. They can also grow with our children, the report's authors note.

"For example, an 18-month-old child might try to use blocks functionally (eg, stack them), whereas a 2-year-old might use the same blocks to engage in sophisticated symbolic play (eg, by feeding the doll with a block that represents a bottle) or use the same blocks to construct a bridge, demonstrating the development of spatial awareness."

2. Pretend playthings 

Dolls, action figures, and toy animals spark imaginative play and help kids learn to tell stories and put words to feelings. The same goes for toy objects, like fake food or little cars. These symbolic toys don't have to do anything fancy, because they invite children to create their own action.

"Such imaginative play ultimately facilitates language development, self-regulation, symbolic thinking, and social-emotional development," according to the AAP.

3. Art supplies 

Paint, paper, colors and glue foster creativity andmotor skills. The AAP considers art supplies a "high quality" toy, but says they don't need to be expensive. In fact, in some cases they don't even have to cost mama anything. A cardboard box can be an art supply if you want it to be.

4. Physical playthings 

Balls, tricycles and things to push and pull help kids' physical and social development. When they play with catch with mom or dad they're learning how to move their body and that physical activity is fun, a lesson that kids need now more than ever.

Add a friend to the mix and two kids taking turns with a ride-on toy are figuring out how to "improve self-regulation and peer-interaction" because they're having to negotiate with each other.

5. Language toys 

According to the AAP, physical card and board games build kids' language skills in a way that an app version of the same game can't. Toy letters are a fun introduction to early literacy and the tactile factor makes them way more meaningful to kids than a letter on a screen.

Bottom line: Technology helps us parents connect with each other and the wider world, but when it comes to stocking the toy box, it's time we get back to basics. Our children don't need to connect to the internet, they just need to connect with us .

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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