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There is nothing quite like watching your little one smash sweet potatoes all over her face—and your entire kitchen—for the very first time. But starting solids can also come with lots of questions, especially for a first-time mama. From thinking about the best time to start to the right types of foods to offer, navigating this transition can be tricky. (And messy. Did we mention messy? Very, very messy. 🤣)


So, other than investing in an supersized box of baby wipes and the biggest bottle of laundry detergent you can fit in your Target shopping cart, what exactly will you need to take the plunge into the world of starting solids? We're here to tell you, mamas.

From sippy cups to splash mats, here are nine can't-live-without products that will make starting solids easy as pie.

1. A waterproof bib

A waterproof, easy wipe bib is essential. After trying many, many different options, we keep coming back to Bumkins because, well...they are just that awesome. They're made from a lightweight, waterproof fabric, meaning that you don't have to toss them in the wash after every meal (win!)—just wipe them down and save yourself a few loads of laundry.

They feature a Velcro closure for a quick, adjustable fit, a front pocket for catching spills, and are stain and odor resistant. And they come in a huge selection of sizes and designs. We truly could not love them more.

Bumpkins Bibs
$8.99 and up, Target

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2. A classic high chair

We realize there are lots of choices for high chairs out there and that choosing the right one for your needs will probably depend on space + budget. But if we had to pick, we have a big-time baby gear crush on the Stokke Tripp Trapp.

This Scandinavian seat has been around for over 40 years, and for good reason. Its iconic look compliments just about any style, and its brilliant ergonomic design grows with your child, providing a safe, comfy seat at any age. (Truly—it can hold a full-grown adult. We know; we've tried.) It's also easy to clean and durable enough to hold up to many years of wear and tear.

Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair
$249.00, Nordstrom

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3. A floor saver

If you feel like a lot of the effort of starting solids is around preventing messes...you may be onto something, mama 😉 This must-have is a favorite not only as a splash mat, but as an all-around awesome, stunningly simple (but incredibly useful) innovation. Gathre mats are made from a soft bonded leather and are water impermeable and easy to wipe clean. They're perfect for (stylishly) containing a mess under your high chair, but also for so much more—a sand-free spot at the beach, a picnic blanket, a clean spot for a diaper change, a craft mat...the list goes on and on.

And have we mentioned that these mats are absolutely gorgeous? They come in a swoon-worthy assortment of modern colors + prints. We.want.them.allll.

Gathre High Chair Mat
$40.00, Crate & Barrel

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4. A safe start

Early introduction of food allergens is important for a lifetime of healthy eating. But many parents are still uncertain how and when to introduce allergens. Inspired Start takes out the guesswork. Their certified organic fruit pouches introduce eight of the most common food allergens (peanut, egg, soy, tree nuts, wheat, sesame, shellfish, and fish) to babies, starting from just four months of age.

Each box contains two days worth of four different allergens, so parents can serve two days of peanuts, then two days of eggs, and so on before moving to the next box. After each allergen has been introduced, the Variety Pack box lets you continue exposure until your child is ready to eat the foods in solid form. Still worried? Talk to your pediatrician if your child has a family history of food allergy.

Inspired Start
$23.00, Amazon

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5. A mess-free mat

If you're tired of wiping down big, bulky high chair trays (or every inch of your kitchen table) or trying to intercept flying bowls, these genius mats are for you. A placemat + plate + bowl all in one, ezpz mats are the perfect solution for new eaters. The mat suctions directly to the table, making it nearly impossible for little hands to tip it over.

The mats are made from 100% silicone that is BPA, BPS, PVC and phthalate free, and they are dishwasher, microwave and oven safe. They come in a huge array of sizes and colors, and are stackable for easy storage.

ezpz Mats
$17.49 and up, ezpz

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6. A flexible spoon

Inspired by nature and designed to be baby's first self-feeding spoon, the Olababy Training Spoon features a flexible, leaf-shaped tip that flexes to scoop, cut, and slice from any angle. It's also ergonomically designed for little hands, and the wide base allows the spoon to rest upright to avoid germs. (Meaning it's perfect for baby's first time eating in public!) And because the spoon is made from BPA-silicone and features a super flexible design, it also doubles perfectly as a teether for those tiny little gums!

Olababy Training Spoon
$14.95 for a 2-pack, Amazon

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7. A simple straw cup

Starting solids is also the perfect time to introduce your little one to a straw cup—but if watching your little one get frustrated isn't top on your list of fun things to do, you're going to need a cup that is easy to drink out of STAT. Enter the Lollacup. This (adorable) straw cup features a flexible, valve-free straw, making it easy for little ones to learn to drink. The straw also has a weighted end that anchors it in the liquid to help your babe drink effectively, even when the cup is tilted.

The cup has minimal parts and is easy to clean, so it's frustration-free for you too, mama. And it comes with a straw-cleaning brush so you can get wayyy into those gunky crevices.

Lollaland Lollacup
$15.95, Amazon

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8. An all-in-one meal solve

Although definitely not a must, lots of mamas choose to experiment with making their own baby food somewhere along their feeding journey. Although a steamer and a blender will certainly do the trick, if you're a mom who's intimidated by cooking or looking for a quick, all-in-one meal solution, we can't say enough good things about the Beaba Babycook.

It's a true one stop shop for all things baby food. It makes taking fresh fruit, veggies, meat or fish from raw to any stage of baby or toddler food super simple in only 15 minutes. It can even be operated completely one-handed—a definite mom bonus!

The Babycook has a slim footprint so it won't hog your precious counter space, but the bowl holds up to 4.7 cups of liquid or food so it's easy to make a few bathes at once. And with several colors and styles to choose from, you'll be whipping up baby culinary masterpieces in no time.

Beaba Babycook
$149.95, Target

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9. A storage solution

Now that you've made all of this delicious food, where are you going to store it? Wean Green containers are our favorite storage solution when starting solids. (And beyond!) They're made from the purest, most natural recyclable material-glass, making them five times stronger than regular glass so you won't have to worry when your baby hurls them on the floor 🤣

They're free of nasty chemicals, won't stain, and feature a silicone seal that prevents leaks and keeps the containers completely airtight. They're even safe for the microwave and the freezer, making it simple to freeze a big batch of food to use when needed.

Wean Green Eco Friendly Tempered Glass Containers
$15.43 for a 4-pack, Amazon

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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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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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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