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7 unexpected Mother's Day gifts she'll love

Just what a mama needs to brighten up her day.

7 unexpected Mother's Day gifts she'll love

Mother's Day is fast approaching, and although you'll never hear us complain about receiving any type of gift, sometimes a bit of the unexpected is just what a mama needs to brighten up her day.


If flowers, chocolates, and breakfast in bed isn't your thing, we've got 7 out of the box ideas that will make the perfect gift for a favorite mama in your life (or for yourself!) this Mother's Day.

1. A sensible style

Kids create a lot of messes, am I right? Enter Ruggable: an interchangeable, nonslip, durable, stain resistant, pet friendly, and COMPLETELY MACHINE WASHABLE rug. Yes, you heard that right. Ruggable rugs can be easily lifted up and thrown right in the washing machine, eliminating mama's need to flip out every time her kid spills his milk all over the living room. (Or his jelly sandwich all over the family room. Or his yogurt all over the hallway. You get the idea...) And they come in a huge array of styles, sizes, price points + colors. What's not to love?

Ruggable Rugs
$89.00 and up, Ruggable

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2. A lasting change

If the last thing mama needs is more stuff, we love the idea of gifting something that will positively impact someone else's life. CARE's Gift of Lasting Change is the perfect way to honor mom—each donation delivers lasting solutions to poverty worldwide. In honor of Mother's Day, we especially like the opportunities available for Women's Empowerment, which include scholarships for girls to attend school, a girls' mentorship club, fighting gender-based violence, and more.

CARE.org Gift of Lasting Change
$25.00 and up, CARE.org

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3. A DNA discovery

What if a little bit of saliva could reveal the secrets of your DNA? Thanks to 23andMe, that's all it takes to learn the story of your history and beyond. 23andMe offers genetic reports that can offer insights into your ancestry, health, traits and more! That's a whole lot from one little vial of spit.

Order your kit and discover more about yourself and your family than you ever knew before.

23andMe Kits, 23andMe

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4. An instant pic fix

It's a fact: Mamas love photos of their families. But it can be next to impossible to find time to edit and print our favorite frames. (Great for our Instagram feeds, bad for all those baby books.) Enter the Polaroid Snap Touch camera—just like the Polaroid cameras of your youth, but a whole lot smarter. The LCD touchscreen lets you edit photos to be black and white, sepia, or color, and it even has Bluetooth capability. Get ready to snap, print, and share all your favorite shots with ease.

Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Digital Camera
$169.96, Amazon

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5. A kitchen vacation

Founded by a mom who wanted to give her child fresh, wholesome meals—without sacrificing time together—Nurture Life is a meal delivery service that ships age-specific, dietitian crafted meals to your doorstep. Each recipe prioritizes organic, seasonal produce and never includes artificial flavors or colors, trans fats, or high fructose corn syrup.

All you have to provide are your children's ages and dietary preferences to get started. It's a great, simple option for first solids and for expanding the palates of older children—and mamas will love how much time and energy is saves them.

Nurture Life Baby, Toddler + Kid Meal Delivery
Subscription prices vary, Nurture Life

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6. A home helper

Reading, yoga, relaxing...just a few things you might choose to do while this (amazing) robot vacuum cleans the house FOR YOU 🙌 If mama usually tackles vacuuming duties, give her the gift of time this year with what we consider to be one of the best uses of tech we've ever seen.

The iRobot Roomba has a patented cleaning system that's engineered to loosen, lift, and suction everything from small particles to large debris from carpers and hard floors. (Just don't forget to pick up all those Lego bricks first.) With easy Wifi connectivity, all it takes is the tap of a button a quick Alexa ask to get you one step closer to the clean home of your dreams.

iRobot Roomba
Prices vary depending on model, Amazon

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7. A mantra maker

Whether it's your favorite mama mantra or simply a welcome sign for friends and family to Mother's Day brunch, a letter board is the gift that keeps on giving. (Plus, it's the hottest way to make any and all big announcements.) Want to score bonus points? Gift yours with a special message to Mom already spelled out.

TF Publishing Letter Board
$43.49, Target

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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