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Back-to-School 2017: School lunch boxes, bentos + beyond

Brown bagging it is so 2001.

From bento boxes to heart-shaped grilled cheese, we’re here to make eating—and packing—your toddler’s lunch something neither of you will dread this school year.


Picky eaters beware: mama, you’ve got this!

1. Bentgo Kids Children’s Bento Lunchbox

File this one under your (oh-so-long) list of “why wasn’t this around when we were kids?!” Bento boxes are, quite simply, awesome. Kids love the bright colors and the separate food compartments, and mamas love just about anything that will get our kids to eat. The Bentgo box is one of our faves: it’s perfectly sized for toddler portions, taking the guesswork out of how much food to pack. It’s also dishwasher safe and is completely leak proof.

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Pro tip: Yumbox is another one of our faves in this category, and we especially love their mix and match tray inserts.

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2. PlanetBox

The Prius of bento boxes, the PlanetBox is the eco-friendly bento of choice. Made from stainless steel and built to last—it comes with a 5-year warranty!—it’s one of the pricier bentos on the market, but for good reason. It’s durable, dishwasher safe, doesn’t retain stains or smells, and can be completely customized with these off-the-charts cute magnet sets.

Pro tip: We love using silicone cups inside our bento to contain smaller items or to further separate foods. Also, they are really fun!

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3. Bento food picks

Step up your bento game! Food picks not only add an extra layer of cute to your toddler’s lunch box, but more importantly an extra layer of “I’ll do it myself!” since they encourage feeding independence. They come in a huge array of designs and are great for both decoration and making mini skewers—try some with fruits, veggies, or even fruit snacks for dessert!

Pro tip: These picks are pretty tiny, which makes them great for toddlers’ little hands, but also not something you’d want your kiddo to be using unsupervised.

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4. Pottery Barn Lunch Bags

If bento boxes aren’t your jam, head over to the Lunch Bags section from Pottery Barn Kids. These monogram-worthy, lunch-toting classics come in an array of sizes and enough patterns to make any toddler smile. We love how easy to clean they are, the food-safe vinyl lining, and the option to easily strap them on to a matching backpack.

Pro tip: ?#momhack alert! ?Bento + lunch bag = the ultimate toddler lunch vehicle! We use a PB Kids lunch box, throw in a few ice packs, and then pop in our favorite bento box. Genius, if we do say so ourselves...

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5. Evriholder Sandwich Cutters

And just when you thought your toddler’s lunch couldn’t get any more fun... sandwich cutters! Turning a grilled cheese into a dinosaur is a quick, fun, and easy way to shake up the usual lunch routine and combat picky eating. And hey, even if it doesn’t convince your toddler to eat, at least you’ll have fun eating the leftovers!

Pro tip: Try fruit and veggie cutters and a wooden grill skewer to create mini kebabs!

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6. Munchkin Stainless Steel Miracle Cup

If you’re anything like us, you’ve purchased more sippy cups than you care to admit. Stop the madness! The Munchkin Stainless Miracle Cup is, well, sort of a miracle. The stainless bottom keeps drinks cold all day (seriously—we tested it!); it doesn’t leak or spill at all, ever; and it’s dishwasher safe with no annoying straws or spouts to keep clean. Win, win, and win. ?

Pro tip: When choosing a toddler cup, stick with rimmed or straw options, which will help support normal muscle development in your child’s mouth.

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7. Klean Kanteen Kid Classic Sport Water Bottle

As your toddler gets a bit older, we love the Kid Classic Sport water bottle from Klean Kanteen. It holds up to 12oz of liquid but is still perfectly-sized for little hands, and the silicone spout and stainless bottom are BPA and Phthalate-free. And of course we ? that one more reusable bottle means one less plastic one.

Pro tip: Klean Kanteen also makes an insulated water bottle option that keeps liquids warm for up to 12 hours and cool for up to 40.

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8. Weelicious Lunches

Stuck in a toddler lunch rut? Enter Weelicious, your lunch box recipe ninja. Catherine McCord’s book and website are the go-to for fun and creative toddler recipes perfect for shaking up your usual routine. From PB&J pancake sandwiches to chocolate graham crackers, there’s something here for even the pickiest of toddler palettes.

Pro tip: Banana Dog Bites and Spinach Cake Muffins are two tried and true Weelicious faves around here!

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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

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

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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