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Tired of having to brave holiday shopping crowds or scroll through miles of online retail search results? Well, take a load off, sit back, and finish up your shopping with Raising Nerd, the comprehensive online resource for parents’ looking to better understand and nurture their kids’ natural curiosity by exposing them to the full spectrum of STEAM subjects and activities.

As Raising Nerd’s head writer and resident Imperfect Dad, I want all parents to feel confident raising motivated and creative problem-solvers in an ever-changing world full of challenges. One of the best ways to get kids exploring, tinkering, designing, and building a better, healthier planet is through open-ended play.

Of course, the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to stock up on fun STEAM toys and games that will stoke their imaginations and fuel their curiosity.

To that end, Raising Nerd has compiled its 2nd annual Mega Holiday Wish List: Stocking-Stuffer Edition. In this bonus edition of our main Wish List of STEAM-related gifts, we’ve identified 40+ Nerd-inspiring toys and games, all under $30!

Happy Nerdy Holidays, everyone!

Nerd Gifts Under $10

Kanoodle – The best-selling solo puzzle challenge game.

Stikbot, Green and Orange Stikbot Figure  These poseable mini-bot figures will stick to most flat surfaces and have gained a huge social media following by starring in creative fans’ stop-motion animations produced with the free Stickbot Studio mobile app for iOS and Android.

Clue Master Game by ThinkFun – Another solo puzzle challenge that helps develop Nerds’ deductive reasoning skills vital for success in math and science.

Brainwright Dog Pile: The Pup Packing Puzzle and Cat Stax: The Purrfect Puzzle – Like 3D Qwirkle, but with stackable canines and felines!

Q-Bitz Solo – The take-along version of the popular, brain-building pattern recognition puzzle game.

ThinkFun Math DiceMath Dice Jr. and Math Dice Chase – A mental math that’s become a staple in classrooms. Math Dice Chase kicks things into a higher gear. Great Nerd Gifts!

Sumoku – A crossword-style number puzzle game that makes building math skills fun.

Curious Chef Kids Oven Mitt Set – Essential tools for protecting your culinary makers’ hands in the kitchen.

World’s Smallest Perplexus (Pocket-Sized) – The perfectly portable puzzler for fidgety hands.

Check out the Parent Co. Picks Gift Guide (updated daily)

Nerd Gifts $10 – $20

Block Tape for Lego Bricks – MOOHAM self adhesive baseplate strips for kids, non-toxic, cuttable, reusable, and compatible with Major Brands Building Blocks. Four colors, 3.2 Feet of each. Bonus: safe scissors.

Ultimate Crayon Collection – Open a box of crayons and their world lights up. Their imagination ignites. And, sometimes, even a box of 64 won’t do to express the ideas they’ve been waiting to unleash. These are the ultimate toy for open-ended play.

Color Cube Sudoku and Lunar Landing by ThinkFun – Two classic logic puzzles with a twist: Sudoku but with colors instead of numbers and a Rush Hour update where Nerds are challenged to return to the mother ship or get stranded in outer space.

Kanoodle Jr. – Spatial reasoning for little Nerds.

Möbi: The Numerical Tile Game in a Whale – Get your Nerds playing with numbers by building equations in crossword style.

Tangram Puzzle Magnetic Travel Set – Nerds recreate puzzle challenge shapes or can come up with their own using magnetic blocks.

LUPO: The Space Adventure – A creative storytelling game where players embark on a sci-fi adventure in which they attempt to save humanity by finding a new home beyond the stars.

Dragonwood Dice Game – Use math to stomp, scream, and strike interesting creatures and dragons.

Merge Cube – Hold holograms in your hand with this accessory for your virtual reality (VR) goggles.

Travel Qwirkle – The classic shapes and colors matching and pattern game.

Star Wars Miracle Melting Stormtrooper – Before there was a slime craze, there was the Miracle Melting Snowman. One of the latest additions to the Melting family, this kit lets your kids build/rebuild and watch an Evil Empire minion slowly dissolve – no blasters necessary!

Qurious SPACE: 4 STEM Space Card Games – Four card games in one encourage Nerds to explore facts about the solar system and beyond.

PlayTape Black Road for Cars and Train Sets – This essential item in the budding civil engineer or city planner’s toolkit helps make travel safe and smooth for Hot Wheels or any other kind of pretend-play vehicle.

Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots – Energize Heatwave the Fire-Bot and Medix the Doc-Bot – Never too early to introduce little Nerds to a 2-in-1 robot!

Crazy Scientist Lab: Young Detectives Kit – This detective kit will help hone your CSI Nerd’s attention to detail, pattern recognition, and careful evidence collection skills.

MathStar, and Chemistry Fluxx Card Game – The only constant is change with these games that will challenge your Nerds to reach their math goals, explore the vastness of space, and learn how basic elements combine and interact.

Chibi Lights LED Circuit Stickers Intro Kit – Great introductory set that lets kids create a light-up star card.

Makedo Cardboard Construction Toolkit – An essential set of tools for every creative Nerd’s makerspace.

Boon Marco Light-Up Bath Toy – Your little Nerd-to-be will love taking this guy on deep-sea diving missions!

Plui Rain Cloud Tub Toy – A cool bath toy that will give even the tiniest of Nerds a lesson in physics and cause-and-effect. Let them fill it up, let it rain, then stop the flow by placing their finger over the air hole.

STEMulators: Energy Generator Car – Young engineering prospects can build and power this car with a hand crank generator.

Violet’s Learning Lights Remote and Scout’s Remote – Busy little fingers can discover and activate music, lights, shapes, and a variety of counting and word games.

UNLOCK! The Formula and Squeek & Sausage Card Game – Escape room puzzle solving adventures at home! Great Nerd Gifts.

LEGO Classic Quad Pack (66554) Building Pack – Let creativity take over the holidays with this four-pack of classic LEGO bricks and special elements. Great starter sets for budding LEGO builders.

Lunar Saloon Stardeck Sci-Fi Playing Cards and Astro Alphabet Flashcards (coming soon) – Beautifully designed, sci-fi themed playing cards and a still-in-production set of alphabet flashcards from a Minneapolis-based creative studio.

SmartGames Jump In – Jumping rabbits and sliding foxes make for 60 adorably mind-bending challenges to help Nerds build logic, planning, and problem-solving skills.

Nerd Gifts $20 to $30

Smithsonian Molecube – A fresh take on Rubik’s original hand-held puzzle!

Science Ninjas : Valence Card Game – Advanced Chemistry + Simple Rules + Ninjas! – This card game was created by a rocket scientist, an alternative energy expert, a New York Times bestselling cartoonist, and other scientific advisors. The object is for players to build new molecules out of elements to earn points to win the game while opponents try to break down Bases with Acid assaults!

Killer Snails Assassins of the Sea Card Game – Developed by scientists, educators, and game designers with the American Museum of Natural History, this strategy card game centered around the real-life behavior of predatory marine cone snails. How could a marine biologist Nerd go wrong?

Need more gift ideas?

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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