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June is Pride Month but with the coronavirus pandemic still unfortunately in full swing, celebrations are looking a lot different this year. Colorful, crowded parades and festivals have been the norm in the past, but those types of gatherings are risky right now. This means there's a good chance we won't be seeing one of the sweetest staples from years past: the free mom hug.

LGBTQ+ people all too often face discrimination, and for too many, that starts at home. Gay and trans people are already at a higher risk of dealing with mental health issues, and studies have shown that being rejected by their families can make those issues even more serious.

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Every year at parades, we see moms (and dads, too) offering up warm embraces to individuals who can't, for one reason or another, hug their own parents—hugs are also available, of course, to anyone willing to throw their arms around a supportive stranger. However brief, that moment of connection can signal much needed love and acceptance to someone who hasn't found it in within their own families.


But in these strange times, hugs and even handshakes are temporarily not allowed—which means it's more important than ever to find other ways to support the LGBTQ community. It could be the perfect time to join in a virtual pride celebration online, check out the official Free Mom hugs website, or donate to one of the many worthy non-profit dedicated to supporting LGBTQ people, like The Trevor Project or PFLAG.

As disappointing as it is that the pandemic is putting a bit of a damper on Pride celebrations this year, rest assured, the mom hug will be definitely be back someday. And if there's an LGBTQ person in your life that could really use a hug right now (and who could blame them), we've got some tips on doing it safely: wear masks, turn your faces away, and keep it quick. It might not be as satisfying as an uninhibited embrace, but it could mean the world to someone in need.

Let the games begin! Thanks to improved hand-eye coordination and growing curiosity, your baby is probably starting to show an affinity for certain toys and activities. Embrace that love of play, mama—if you use the right items (more on that below!) playtime isn't just fun, it's also great for development.

Speaking of development, you probably know by now that every baby is unique and progresses at a different rate—so don't stress about when those milestones are hit.

What matters is that you feel confident in empowering yourself with knowledge and advocating for your child. And don't forget to have fun! Exploring new concepts alongside that sweet baby is downright magical.

There are so many changes on the horizon, but you've got this, mama. Here are a few of our favorite items to help you tackle this exciting stage:

For jumpstarting that vocabulary: Readerlink First 100 Words

first 100 words

Although babies build their spoken vocabularies gradually, research shows infants aged 6 to 9 months already understand a good number of words. This book is a great tool for encouraging language development, as it allows them to learn the names of things they regularly use.

$4.99

For soothing tender gums: Itzy Ritzy teething mitt

Ritzy teething mit

Fact: A mama can never have too many tools to help her babe ward off teething pains. This mitt helps relieve soreness… and it doubles as a fun little toy, too.

$7.19

For a fun way to learn: Infantino balls, blocks and buddies

Infantino balls and blocks

As basic as it may seem to us, the act of stacking and sorting toys helps babies build the fine-motor and problem-solving skills they'll use throughout their lives. The benefits are immediate as well: These activities build concentration skills that'll serve them well today.

$16.99

For the bottle-to-cup transition: MAM trainer cup

MAM trainer cup

Drinking from a cup may seem like second nature to you, but there's definitely a learning curve involved for an infant. Help smooth out that transition from bottle/breast to cup by offering small amounts of water in this trainer cup. It mimics the feel of a bottle while introducing babies to the concept of sipping.

$4.99

For brushing those bitty teeth: FridaBaby smilefrida toothbrush

Fridababy

Did you know dentists recommend brushing your child's teeth from the time that very first one emerges? This brush was designed especially for those teeny mouths and boasts a brilliant BPA-free design. You simply slip the brush onto your finger and go to work on those pearly whites.

$7.99

For making chores more fun: More Than Magic bluetooth speaker

More than magic speaker

By necessity, mamas are masters at multitasking. But who says there can't be something in it for you? We recommend streaming your favorite podcast or book on tape while taking care of chores around the house

$19.99

For your new nightly routine: Target book club subscription

Target book club

If you've officially stashed the bassinet and moved your little one into the nursery, your nights might be feeling very different these days. Embrace it by implementing a nightly reading routine (because you can finally turn on your bedside lamp without fear of waking that sweet baby!). This subscription program makes it easy and affordable to tackle new books.

$13.90

For those frame-worthy photos: Fujifilm instax mini 9

Fuji Instax

Only a tiny fraction of the pictures on our phones ever get printed because, well, mom life is busy. This camera, which makes printing mini Polaroid pictures a total cinch, may change that.

$69.99

For easy cleanup: Dyson cord-free vacuum

Dyson

Now that you have a baby playing on your floors, you're probably ultra aware of every little crumb. Welcome to motherhood—when it's totally acceptable to get really excited about a great vacuum.

$299.99

For easy cooking: Rubbermaid food storage container set

Rubbermaid storage

Simplify meals by prepping all your ingredients before you start cooking (if you want to get fancy, you can call this process "mise en place" a la a professional chef). When everything is chopped and stored in these handy containers, getting dinner on the table becomes easier than ever.

$9.99

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

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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