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Much of our formal education is taken up with logic and rational thought. The way children memorize vocabulary, mathematical equations, even the capitals of each state utilizes the left hemisphere of the brain.


And yet, the right-brained activities are what enthrall pre-verbal children: the contrast of black and white that a newborn sees, the music to which a baby wiggles his fingers and toes, and the grandmother’s lullaby that soothes a crying infant.

A line in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books reads, “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” That quote can be said about a parents’ love for their newborn but also about a toddler’s love of music, singing, dancing and bright hues as they scribble, color and finger paint.

Much of our early arts education isn’t intentionally education; we as parent-educators are doing what comes to us naturally. Alyssa Herzog Melby, director of education and community engagement for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater said, “Your kids can’t be too young to introduce them to the arts. From the moment babies are born and in our arms, we sing songs and dance and move with them. We show them pictures in books and make animal noises. (Even from) birth to age five kids are sponges; it is great to get them out in the world looking at things.”

Introducing your child to music and dance

Suzanne Perrino, senior vice president of education and strategic implementation at the Pittsburgh Symphony, echoed Herzog Melby’s comments: “The best time to introduce music to your child is as early as possible, preferably before the child is born.”

When a mother reads or sings to her baby in utero, the baby hears the sounds partially through bone conduction. Dr. Henry Truby, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and Linguistics at the University of Miami, said that after the sixth month, the fetus moves in rhythm to the mother’s speech.

Finnish researchers at the University of Helsinki published a study in 2013 involving pregnant women whose babies listened to a one-minute CD of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”in utero for five weeks, an average of 170 times. Then at birth and at four months, the researchers did EEG tests as the children listened to the original tune and a slightly altered version.

The children who heard the music (as opposed to a control group who did not) had a larger response to the melody, which only proves, according to the lead researcher Eino Partanen, “A baby can be relaxed and soothed by melodies it hears before birth.” 

According to an article titled “Importance of Prenatal Sound and Music” by music therapist Giselle E. Whitwell, “Women all over the world have sung lullabies to their babies. These were very important because as we now know the fetus is having first language lessons in the womb. The inflections of the mother tongue are conveyed not only through speech, but most importantly through song.” So those silly little songs we sing like “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Frére Jacques,” and “Row, Row Your Boat” are actually teaching language skills.

Getting kids to imitate animals and move their bodies in space to music (and to follow directions) improves gross motor skills. This is why dance schools enroll toddlers and preschoolers. It isn’t to teach them formal ballet technique but to build a motor skill progression in a specific sequence.

If music is what you want to introduce your child to as opposed to, or in addition to dance, Perrino encourages parents, first and foremost, to sing with their children. “Often times, parents feel that their natural singing voice is ‘not good enough.’ They have been told by someone along the way that they don’t have perfect pitch or that they sing off key.”

However, she says, “A parent’s voice is the most treasured by a child… Interacting through music with your child in a positive, engaging way builds confidence, self-expression, and encourages experimentation with their natural instrument – their voice,” said Perrino.  

Introducing your child to theater 

Other musical opportunities for children and teenagers in most cities include going to performances at opera houses, attending musicals, or seeing live theatre. Theater Services Guide lists companies and playhouses that produce works for children throughout the United States. This website also has a link to puppet shows, too, many of which are for children. 

Many cities sponsor International Children’s Theater Festivals in the summer, such as this one in Cleveland, where children watch magic shows, plays, musicals, and interactive comedies. 

In order to prepare your children for successful attendance at a theater event, Musical Theater Kids recommends:

  • familiarizing children with the storylines and characters beforehand (and in the case of opera, the music, too)
  • explaining what good audience member behavior is and how it helps the actors on stage (including that a bathroom break during the show may not be possible)
  • emphasizing how fun the whole experience will be
  • making sure young children eat before going to the theater, but bringing quiet snacks and toys for intermissions and the waiting period before the show begins.

After the show is over and you’ve left the building, discuss what the child liked and didn’t like and why. This teaches critical thinking and also will give parents an idea of what kinds of theater experiences would be good in the future. 

Introducing your child to visual arts

Many cities possess a wealth of visual arts, from public art displays on corporate campuses to those on city buses or public transportation systems to a proliferation of art galleries and museums. For example, California has a mandate that corporate campuses must include public art. Portland, Oregon, has poetry and artwork around its river walk. And all bus shelters in the Seattle area feature artwork by school-aged children.

Art is everywhere and provides us opportunities to discuss what we see with our children.

Many museums, art galleries, and schools have classes or drop-in session for kids. The Andy Warhol Museum, in Pittsburgh offers activities for middle school and high school students. Studio Programs Coordinator Paul O’Brien said that the Youth Open Studio is a weekly drop-in center for teens in grades eight through 12. “Educators from the Artists Image Resource and the Andy Warhol Museum supervise a cohort of teen shop techs that teach silkscreen printing to middle and high school students.” AWM also offers hands-on art demonstrations for toddlers through adults with paid museum admission.

If you take a child to see art at a museum or art gallery, ask question about what they are seeing. Do hands-on activities and continue the creativity and learning at home. Stock your house with paints and paper, brushes, crayons, markers, pens, pencils and erasers, modeling clay and Play-Doh, scraps of cloth and colored paper, and all other means and modes of creating. You can use Red Ted Arts activities for kids based on the works on 30 great artists to come up with creative ideas if your child runs out of his or her own.

You can continue your visit by viewing the art at the online galleries of The National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, all of which have phenomenal online interactive art collections. Also, draw your child’s attention to the fact that art isn’t just in a museum or gallery. It is all around. Play “I Spy” with an artwork theme.

Encourage your child to pursue any kind of art he or she wants. California Lieutenant Governor and parent of three Gavin Newsom said, “An arts education helps build academic skills and increase academic performance, while also providing alternative opportunities to reward the skills of children who learn differently.” And like the rest of our education, arts education starts at home with that first song that we sing or book that we read to our baby before she is born. 

British actor Sir Richard Eyre explained the importance of art this way, “Change begins with understanding, and understanding begins by identifying oneself with another person: in a word, empathy. The arts enable us to put ourselves in the minds, eyes, ears, and hearts of other human beings.”

And that is the best reason for parents to introduce their children to the arts in all of its many forms.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

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$799.95, Nuna

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2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

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3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

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4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

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5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

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With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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


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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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