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The new iPhone 8 is scheduled to be released on September 15, but insider tips have been rampant on Twitter. Rumors have it this baby might run you about $999 but with add-ons could get up to $1500! For that price it better help me parent. With that in mind, I bring you six ways the new phone can up your parenting game:


1 | Your kid can’t break it using their usual techniques

There’s a possibility that it’s waterproof, not just water-resistant and shatterproof. I don’t even think this requires an explanation. You can’t seem to hurt this one. So hand it to your kids when they’re bored! Bring it in the bathroom where you spend most of your time anyway. Stop worrying about your phone and start using it more.

2 | You can use your hands for something else

Supposedly it’s got wireless charging capabilities. So even when your cat has chewed up the cords and your baby just fell asleep in your lap, you can charge your phone. The rumors also say that this feature might be an add-on, so make sure you save up for it.

3 | You now have a parenting assistant

It tells your partner or friend where you are. If you aren’t a parent, you won’t get how great that is. How many times have you been like, “To be honest I don’t have any idea where I am. Hold on while I stop my toddler from freaking out on the floor, and move my diaper bag to a non-dirty location, and wipe the glaze off my hand, and then I’ll tell you where I am.” Siri has been upgraded to use “on-device learning” to become more contextual. This means that if somebody messages to ask where you are, for example, Siri is now clever enough to serve up your location.

4 | You don’t have to flip it around to turn it on

This is still just a rumor, but some sources say the new iPhone 8 will have the touch ID in the back of the phone. For a parent, this may prove much better. A fingerprint scanner on the back of a phone isn’t hard to reach. You cannot pick up a phone without placing some of your fingers on its back, so they’re already in the right position to use the scanner. Anything that reduces the amount of moves required to get the job done is okay in my parenting book. If you can’t even be bothered to pick up your new assistant, don’t worry – it’s also going to have face-scanning technology. Not kidding.

5 | You can keep your text messages coded

My need to keep something about my adult life secret from my kids loves the idea of the new multi-lingual texting feature. Type in two languages at the same time without having to switch keyboards. This phone recognizes any pair of the following languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Spanish. So now I can text my husband, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” anytime I want!

6 | You can finally use every app you hear about

This iPhone is faster. Don’t know about helpful parenting apps? You should. Every parent should be making use of the built-in apps and downloading several awesome apps as well. Make your iPhone work for you.

Built-in apps

You don’t even have to buy these helpful apps. Use them to up your parenting game.

Camera

The iPhone 7 gave us an amazing new camera. Parents should be using it to document their child’s life and to create memory books using other apps (see below). The new iPhone 8 has vertical dual cameras on rear to make your pictures better than a professional. Who has time to book photo shoots in matching outfits anyway?

Music

Adding music to your life has never been easier with iTunes. You can set up a lullaby playlist to loop over and over until that baby of yours finally falls asleep.

Maps

The GPS Mapping app helps you stay in the car when your kids are strapped in and finally napping. No need to run into a store to ask for help. In fact, the iPhone is so intuitive you can even google where you are going at home and when you launch your map app, it’ll ask you if you want directions there. Love this!

Calendar

Make sure you’re using its calendar capabilities to make your parenting day easier. Your iPhone intelligently picks up on scheduling details in your conversations. So if you type something like “I’m free today at …” you’re presented with available times on your calendar. This time saver is fantastic for parents who have 17 things going on at once – so that’s all of us, right?

Health

The new iPhone can suggest apps you might like to use based on your location and the time of day. When you walk with your stroller, for example, it may suggest your favorite personal-training app to help you get the most out of your walking workout.

Apps to download

Any app can be downloaded, but the secret to upping your parenting game is in using the apps.

  • Kids Eat Free: Find places where you don’t have to pay for your kid to eat
  • Net Nanny: Make sure you know what your child is doing on the internet
  • Family Locator: Know where your kids are whether they remember to let you know or not
  • Family Organizer: Now everyone can share task lists, grocery lists, and calendars
  • Chores Rewarder: Assign each chore a point structure and let your kids check in when they’ve done one
  • Reduce Distractions: Block out social media when you need to
  • Meet Parents: Get to know other people with similarly aged children
  • Save Kids Artwork: Now you can save your kids artwork without purchasing a storage bin
  • Owlet Baby Care: Put a sock on your baby and your phone will tell you she’s okay
  • Keep Track of Meds: Scan your meds and medical needs and keep them safe and ready
  • Travel Planner and Manager: Stop trying to remember all the details of your family trip
  • Find a Sitter: This is better for city families, but nice to have a resource to find screened sitters
  • Manage Your Money: Start figuring out how you spend your family money and make it work for you
  • Breastfeeding Places: Find out where can you pump or breastfeed without gawkers
  • Photo books: Use your new amazing photos well by making photo books to record your child’s memories and for great gifts
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Unstructured play is play without predetermined rules of the game. There are no organized teams, uniforms, coaches or trainers. It is spontaneous, often made-up on the spot, and changeable as the day goes on. It is the kind of play you see when puppies chase each other around a yard in endless circles or a group of kids play for hours in a fort they created out of old packing boxes.

Unstructured play is fun—no question about it—but research also tells us that it is critically important for the development of children's bodies and brains.

One of the best ways to encourage unstructured play in young children is by providing open-ended toys, or toys that can be used multiple ways. People Toy Company knows all about that. Since 1977, they've created toys and products designed to naturally encourage developmental milestones—but to kids, it all just feels like play.

Here are five reasons why unstructured play is crucial for your children—

1. It changes brain structure in important ways

In a recent interview on NPR's Morning Edition, Sergio Pellis, Ph.D., an expert on the neuroscience of play noted that play actually changes the structure of the developing brain in important ways, strengthening the connections of the neurons (nerve cells) in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain considered to be the executive control center responsible for solving problems, making plans and regulating emotions.

Because unstructured play involves trying out different strategies without particular goals or serious consequences, children and other animals get to practice different activities during play and see what happens. When Dr. Pellis compared rats who played as pups with rats that did not, he found that although the play-deprived rats could perform the same actions, the play-experienced rats were able to react to their circumstances in a more flexible, fluid and swift fashion.

Their brains seemed more "plastic" and better able to rewire as they encountered new experiences.

Hod Lipson, a computer scientist at Cornell sums it up by saying the gift of play is that it teaches us how to deal with the unexpected—a critically important skill in today's uncertain world.

2. Play activates the entire neocortex

We now know that gene expression (whether a gene is active or not) is affected by many different things in our lives, including our environment and the activities we participate in. Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D., a Professor at the University of Washington studied play in rats earning him the nickname of the "rat tickler."

He found that even a half hour of play affected the activity of many different genes and activated the outer part of the rats' brains known as the neocortex, the area of the brain used in higher functions such as thinking, language and spatial reasoning. We don't know for sure that this happens in humans, but some researchers believe that it probably does.

3. It teaches children to have positive interaction with others

It used to be thought that animal play was simply practice so that they could become more effective hunters. However, Dr. Panksepp's study of play in rats led him to the conclusion that play served an entirely different function: teaching young animals how to interact with others in positive ways. He believed that play helps build pro-social brains.

4. Children who play are often better students

The social skills acquired through play may help children become better students. Research has found that the best predictor of academic performance in the eighth grade was a child's social skills in the third grade. Dr. Pellis notes that "countries where they actually have more recess tend to have higher academic performance than countries where recess is less."

5. Unstructured play gets kids moving

We all worry that our kids are getting too little physical activity as they spend large chunks of their time glued to their electronic devices with only their thumbs getting any exercise. Unstructured play, whether running around in the yard, climbing trees or playing on commercial play structures in schools or public parks, means moving the whole body around.

Physical activity helps children maintain a healthy weight and combats the development of Type 2 diabetes—a condition all too common in American children—by increasing the body's sensitivity to the hormone insulin.

It is tempting in today's busy world for parents and kids to fill every minute of their day with structured activities—ranging from Spanish classes before school to soccer and basketball practice after and a full range of special classes and camps on the weekends and summer vacation. We don't remember to carve out time for unstructured play, time for kids to get together with absolutely nothing planned and no particular goals in mind except having fun.

The growing body of research on the benefits of unstructured play suggests that perhaps we should rethink our priorities.

Not sure where to get started? Here are four People Toy Company products that encourage hours of unstructured play.

1. People Blocks Zoo Animals

These colorful, magnetic building blocks are perfect for encouraging unstructured play in children one year and beyond. The small pieces fit easily in the hands of smaller children, and older children will love creating their own shapes and designs with the magnetic pieces.

People Blocks Zoo Animals 17 Piece Set, People Toy Company, $34.99

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

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Mamas have a hard time carving out time for themselves. Our families almost always take priority, meaning things like skincare can easily fall by the wayside. Even though studies have shown the benefits of caring for ourselves also benefit our babies benefit our babies, it often feels just one more task to add to our to-do list.

Fortunately, it's possible to skip extensive routines and start small. If you have just five minutes (or more!) to spare for yourself this week, try these self-care products you can sneak during nap time or after you finally get the little ones down for the night.

If you only have 5 minutes: Remove your makeup

One of the most important ways to care for your skin at the end of the day is removing your makeup. Start with a cleansing towelette to easily wipe away even stubborn mascara and eyeliner so you can go to bed with a clean slate.

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, Amazon, 2-pk $8.97

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If you have 10 minutes (or more): Use a jade facial roller

After cleansing, use this jade roller to gently massage your face to boost collagen, flush out toxins and improve circulation in your skin.

Jade Facial Roller, Amazon, $11.99

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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Chrissy Teigen has been very open about the ways pregnancy has changed her body. Mom to 2-year-old Luna and 4-month-old Miles, Teigen—a former swimsuit model—has famously embraced her postpartum body (stretchies and all), while noting that she's still, at times, insecure about it, but she's not ashamed.

That's why, when a man on Twitter commented on a photo of Teigen's red carpet look for the Emmy's to ask the whole wide world (and Teigen herself, he tagged her) if she was pregnant again, Teigen was quick to shut down the shamer.

"I'm asking this with the utmost respectful [sic], but is @chrissyteigen pregnant again?" The man wrote.

"I just had a baby but thank you for being soooo respectful," Teigen replied (from the Emmys).


Fellow moms were quick to jump to Teigen's defense. Many pointed out that Teigen actually looks incredible for any human, let alone one who is four months postpartum. Other mamas were quick to chime in with stories about their own lingering baby bumps.

For a lot of women, our bodies are different after having a baby. Sometimes that means we're a little rounder in the middle than we used to be. It happens to almost everyone, even red carpet-walking A-listers, like Teigen and actress Jennifer Garner, who once told Ellen Degeneres that she would have a bump forever.

"I am not pregnant, but I have had three kids and there is a bump," Garner explained in 2014, after paparazzi photographs fueled speculation that she and Ben Affleck were expecting a fourth child. "Forever and ever, not another baby. Just a bump like a camel. But just in reverse," Garner jokes.

Like Garner, Teigen dealt with the pregnancy question with a sense of humor, but she shouldn't have had to defend her body from the Emmys. As many, many Twitter users pointed out to the man who asked, it's never cool to ask a woman if she is pregnant.

It's not polite to ask, and it's no one's business whether a woman's bump is a pregnancy, some fabric, a burrito, a weird shadow or (as in Teigen's case) basically a figment of someone's imagination.

A lot of mamas online last night chimed in to say that while Teigen's stomach doesn't look like it did in her Sports Illustrated days, it still looks pretty freaking amazing.

Yes, after two kids, Chrissy Teigen doesn't look like a swimsuit model. But she shouldn't have to. She's not a swimsuit model anymore. She is a cookbook author with her own Target line and she hosts a hilarious TV show. She's also a mother. She is so much more than her midsection.

"Honestly, I don't ever have to be in a swimsuit again," she recently told Women's Health. "Since I was 20 years old, I had this weight in my mind that I am, or that I'm supposed to be. I've been so used to that number for 10 years now. And then I started realizing it was a swimsuit-model weight. There's a very big difference between wanting to be that kind of fit and wanting to be happy-fit."

Teigen is happy with her body, and we're happy she spent Emmy night educating the internet about respecting women.

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As parents, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure our babies' brains are developing as quickly as possible. But the irony is, for many years the best way our little ones can learn and grow is through play. In fact, research has shown that reading stories, playing simple games, and engaging with toys is one of the best ways to boost baby's brain development for years to come.

It's those kind of findings that fuels the work at People Toy Company, a Japanese-based toy company that believes in encouraging the natural development of children through research-backed toys. Every toy in their line is developed to make playtime engaging for parents and children alike while helping little ones achieve developmental milestones through play.

Here are 10 of our favorite toys for engaging little minds and encouraging motor development from baby's first weeks and beyond.

TOYS TO STIMULATE LITTLE BRAINS BEFORE 6 MONTHS

1. Mochi Double Pendant Necklace (newborn on)

It's a fact of life that babies love to explore their world with their mouths. Save your jewelry by swapping in this teething necklace made from rice. Babies will love the easy-to-hold shape and textured design—you'll love the neutral color palette that goes with any outfit.

Mochi Double Pendant Necklace, Amazon, $15.99

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TOYS TO STIMULATE LITTLE BRAINS AFTER 6 MONTHS

1. Magic Reflection Ball (6 month)

Encourage independent play from six months on with this constantly changing reflection ball. Use the suction cup to attach it to different smooth surfaces to encourage pulling up and standing later on.

People Magic Reflection Ball, Amazon, $8.99

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

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