26 splurge-worthy gifts for when you want to go all out

You can also buy a couple for yourself, we won't tell anyone.

splurge worthy holiday gifts

Okay, I admit it. I've been called an "enabler" more than once when it comes to backing friends up on spendy items they want an excuse to buy. I can tell you all the reasons that denim jacket is going to pay for itself before the year is over, or how that sale is so good you can't afford not to buy a new vacuum. What can I say? It's a goddess-given talent.

That said, sometimes I think I must have been royalty in a past life, because if it's expensive, I am interested. Don't get me wrong though. It's very much champagne taste on an "is that fancy wine on sale?" budget kind of story.

These two superpowers come together when evaluating top-tier gifts. Expensive for expensive's sake serves no one, but spending a little extra to treat someone to a gift they're going to love for a good long time and feel totally spoiled when they open it feels pretty darn good.

So I've rounded up some of my favorite splurge-worthy gifts for everyone on your list. Whether you've got some extra cash lying around (lucky!) or you talk the family into a one-gift holiday, these useful, indulgent, or just plain practical gifts are worth the investment.


Lovevery play gym + mat

Lovevery play gym + mat

There's no better toy investment than one that grows with your little one. Designed by child development experts, the Lovevery play gym includes everything you need for developmentally-appropriate baby playtime, from batting to teething to learning to focus. It even converts to a cozy play fort for added fun!

$140

Sunday Citizen crystal weighted blanket

Sunday Citizen crystal weighted blanket

Basically, if Sunday Citizen makes it, I'm in. Their cloud-soft blankets and loungewear are possibly my most favorite find this year (I waxed poetic about their comforter here) and the weighted blanket is no exception. Yes, I know there are less expensive ones out there but I can say this: none are half as cozy and none are filled with crystals. You read that right. CRYSTALS. Maybe it's my inner new ageiness coming out or maybe it's 2020, but I'll take all the healing and pampering I can get.

$259

OSAY the Label la babouche leather loafer slip-on

OSAY the Label la babouche leather loafer slip-on

Handmade by master artisans in the Mediterranean, I've been crushing on these totally gorg shoes something fierce. The shape is inspired by a 19th century popular Middle Eastern indoor shoe known as the "Rihya" which both women and men would wear for special occasions. Not only is leopard my favorite neutral, but they're designed to be worn either as loafers or slides. Combined with their commitment to sustainability (they're made from all recycled materials) they're a unique and thoughtful gift that's totally worth the extra spend.

$145

Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage smart all-in-one convertible car seat

Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage Smart All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Gear that makes parenthood just a little easier is always at the top of our list—and Evenflo Gold's EveryStage Smart All-in-One Car Seat checks that box and beyond. This premium line combines sleek, modern design with innovative and game-changing technology and this gem is designed to grow with your little one from birth through toddlerhood and beyond. Parents will love real time connection with Sensorsafe – it alerts you if baby becomes unbuckled or is left unattended, has spent too much time without movement or if the car becomes too warm. Babies? Well they'll just enjoy the ride.

$279.99

Dyson AirWrap Copper Gift Edition

We all know that Dyson is the gold standard when it comes to home appliances, but they're changing the beauty and haircare game in a big way with the Dyson AirWrap. This multi-tasking device has everything you need to create salon-level hairstyles at home and the best part is that it's so easy.

I'm about as low maintenance as it gets when it comes to doing my hair (hello, mom bun) but on those days when I really want to put in a bit more effort, I usually end up giving up between having to grab my round brush, blow dryer, warm up the curling iron, etc etc. This bad boy has everything you need in one device including multiple sized curling barrels for different types of curls, a firm and soft smoothing brush, a volumizing brush and a Dyson hair dryer attachment. It comes beautifully packaged in a copper case and even has an extra storage bag if you want to bring it on the go.

And when you want to curl or add some waves to your hair, you don't even have to do any work! All you have to do is hold the air wrap near your hair and it will automatically wrap a strand around the barrel. Hold for 15 seconds and you're done! (You can watch the styling guide videos on this page to see how it works.) Whoever opens this on Christmas morning will truly start believing in Santa again—because this is definitely magic.

$549.99

Trova go smart travel safe

Trova Go

Let's be honest—not everything in your purse or diaper bag is meant for little hands. Keep valuables, medicine and anything you want to keep to yourself safely stored in this sleek lockbox from Trova. Made from strong aluminum alloy and connected via Bluetooth to your smartphone, it's the ideal accessory for parents who are looking for a little more peace of mind at home or on-the-go.

$199

Parachute linen sheet set

Parachute linen sheet set

I think my best 'life in a pandemic' advice is: Level up your bed linen game to 5-star hotel-status. Also, when you gift your partner something bed-related, it's truly a gift you give yourself. (Last I checked, double-dipping is not against the rules here.) The linen sheets from Parachute are a top-pick of mine this year. For one thing, they aren't nearly as sweat-inducing as flannel ones and they just seem to get better with every wash. Also, they're Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified so I'm not worried about any harmful materials or treatments to the fabric I'm falling face-first into at the end of every year-long day.

$279

Hill House Home sisi silk pillowcase

Hill House Home sisi silk pillowcase

Speaking of 5-star hotel bedding, once you start using a silk pillowcase, there's no going back. Perfect for the bestie who's battling postpartum hair loss or really anyone who wants to treat their skin and hair right while they sleep, this beauty from Hill House Home is a splurge with a function. I've bought the cheaper ones from Amazon and can definitively say you get what you pay for.

$85

Oxford Pennant 'Yes You Can' rainbow banner

Oxford Pennant 'Yes You Can' rainbow banner

These days, I'll take encouragement in every form possible. Like this cheery American-made banner from Buffalo-based Oxford Pennant. Made from cut-and-sewn wool felt and designed in collaboration with best-selling author Kelle Hampton, it looks awesome everywhere from a kid's bedroom to living room gallery wall. As a bonus, a portion of all proceeds benefit Ruby's Rainbow, a charity who supports adults with Down syndrome seeking higher education.

$150

WSEL the jett diaper bag

WSEL the jett diaper bag

If dad's been grumbling about toting around a purse-like diaper bag or (more likely) stuffing his jacket pocket with a diaper, some wipes and prayer, maybe it's time he gets an adventure-ready bag of his own. Founded by a stay-at-home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, this premium backpack is ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

$160

The Letters NYC art ABC print

The Letters NYC art ABC print

Designed by New York City art advisor, Lara A. Björk and painted by Pauline de Roussy de Sales, these limited-edition prints feature a refreshing take on the classic ABC prints that have graced nursery walls for generations. Their contemporary art collection-themed print showcases notable references to Banksy, Warhol, Koons, Haring and others, exposing even the youngest budding artists to the colorful masters. Even better? You can buy it framed and ready to hang right out of the box.

$350

Kinn Studio mini hoop huggie earrings

Kinn Studio mini hoop huggie earrings

Like a leather tote or a denim jacket, a pair of gold hoops is a wardrobe staple that can, if chosen properly, last a lifetime. This huggie-style is a personal favorite because 1. it never goes out of style, 2. it pairs with everything and 3. it's far more difficult to get yanked out by small hands than it's (sassier) bigger sister. A gift that will make them think of you everyday for years to come? Worth it.

And they're made from 14k solid gold, which unlike less expensive plated, filled or vermeil, means you don't even have to take them off to shower, swim or sleep.

$240

Janod cooker reverso play kitchen

Janod cooker reverso play kitchen

When it comes to the benefits of play kitchens, it's hard to say what's more valuable—the opportunity for little ones to role play and develop useful skills or the moments of peace and quiet it buys parents. This retro-style version from Janod not only looks good (when a toy takes up more than average amounts of space, that really matters) but it features space to play on both sides which means less sibling squabbling and more moments of zen for mama.

$231

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

The traditional dollhouse gets an eco-friendly and sustainable upgrade with the wooden green dollhouse from Plan Toys. With an energy-efficient design that would make any environmentalist swoon, it includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade, and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation (along with furniture I'd like in real-house size.)

$250

iimo balance bike 

iimo balance bike

Training wheels? Forget it. Pedal-less balance bikes can't be beat when it comes to teaching kiddos to ride. Designed in Japan and stylish as all get-out, this one from iimo is made from sturdy stainless steel and built to last through multiple kids. And what looks better next to a lit up tree on Christmas morning than a fresh set of wheels?

$260

SNOO smart sleeper bassinet

SNOO smart sleeper bassinet

You know what's actually priceless? A good night's sleep. For new parents, the award-winning tech-enabled SNOO bassinet provides just that. Snag it for yourself or send an SOS gift request to the giver in your life with the deepest pockets. Trust Motherly editor Conz. It's worth it.

$1395

Belly and Bag Fully Prepared birth bag

Belly and Bag The Fully Prepared

If you've got an expectant mama in your life (or happen to be one yourself), consider this the gift of time, care and stress-relief. She can cross "pack birth bag" off her list with this pre-packed hospital bag, designed by moms for moms. It includes everything from natural toiletries and a robe to keep her cozy to a universal phone charger, and even a changing pad to keep the bag in rotation once she's got a baby in tow.

$225

Rumpl x Snow Peak NanoLoft® Takibi Blanket

Rumpl x Snow Peak NanoLoft\u00ae Takibi Blanket

The pandemic has really brought out the camper in me—what with every other form of summer vacationing off the list—and along with it, a newfound obsession with camping blankets. A standout in the market, Rumpl blankets are my personal fave.

They're light, packable, and super warm even on chilly nights. And even though I'm not quite into camping enough to do it now that it's below 60 degrees (listen, I have nothing to prove) I am all about socially-distanced outdoor hangs around the fire pit in the backyard all bundled up. This awesome collab will help preserve my standard (very flammable) nylon Rumpl since it's made with fire-resistant fabric on one side.

$299

Joe de Viv Olivia Diamond Pendant Earrings

There's always room for more jewelry when you're talking about splurge-worthy gifts. We love these earrings because they satisfy three different types of earring-wearers: 1) Those who love studs 2) Those who love hoops and 3) Those who love diamonds. This dainty but durable set is made with 18K gold and comes in either yellow or rose gold and has a .12 carat diamond, just enough for some extra shine but not too much that this couldn't be your favorite everyday earring. They're classic yet modern enough that they can be gifted to any age—from your grandmother to your best friend to even yourself.

$789

Solo Stove bonfire

Solo Stove bonfire

Speaking of fire pits, seeing as we're going to be spending a lot of time around one in Vermont this winter (socially-distanced hangs are really bringing out the camper and Scandinavian in us) I spent the end of summer hunting for just the right model. We live in a suburban area, so a giant bonfire is frowned upon.

Enter the Solo Stove. I'm always so blown away by a product that takes something I never thought to improve and makes it a million times better. It keeps the smoke to a minimum, burns super efficiently, and leaves next to no ash to clean up. It's an incredible gift for the family that has everything and wants to spend a little more time outside even as the temperature drops.

$284.99

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 qt

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 qt

Classic for a reason, this French powerhouse has been a kitchen staple for nearly a century. Sure, this thing costs more than your average car payment, but when you divide that over the cost of use, it's legit pennies. (I might not even be joking when I say it's itemized in our will.)

The 5.5 quart is the top selling size and I don't think a day goes by that we don't use it. It goes from stove top to oven like a champ housing everything from soup to stews to pasta bakes and looks gorgeous while doing it.

$360

Vitamix E310 explorian blender

Vitamix E310 explorian blender

At the beginning of the summer I was fixated on getting a Vitamix. "Look. It can make everything from smoothies, to soups, to nut butters and hummus. And I will perfect my frozen cocktail game in light of not being able to go out to fun restaurants," I plead, trying to convince my partner it was worth the price. "Eh, it's just going to be one more thing on the counter that no one ever uses," he responded. But guess what? Sure, maybe I've worked just to prove him wrong ("I told you so" is kind of my religion.) But I'm not kidding when I say that thing has paid for itself three times over in the months since. This model doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but it's powerful, fits under the counter, and I'll be making frozen mojitos in it for years to come.

$350

Thermomix

Thermomix\u00ae TM6\u2122

For those who are not super chefs but want to get a little out of their comfort zone, a Thermomix is a great start in the kitchen. Sure, it's expensive but it's everything you need in one. In fact, it's 24 culinary functions and techniques all in one appliance. From boiling the perfect egg to sous-vide the most delicious steak, the Thermomix has your back.

$1499

Lifetime geometric dome climber play center

Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber Play Center

Remember public playgrounds? Those were the days, huh? Never fear. You can bring the adventurous climbing shenanigans right to your backyard with this super cool dome. It offers limitless ways to play (throw a parachute over it and you've got a fort!) and if my kid is any indication, keeps its interest far longer than your standard swing set.

$199

A Nugget 

The Nugget

This internet sensation sells outs so fast that now to get a Nugget you need to join a lotto. No, really. However, those who have one swear by how much fun kids have with it and all the things you can do (like using as a couch for story time before bed to making forts when it's too cold to play outside).

$229

Primally Pure plumping collection

Primally Pure plumping collection

A girlfriend recently commented on my glowiness and I totally didn't give up my secret so that I can get her this set before she buys it for herself. Primally Pure's oils and masks are as indulgent as they are effective and the stone rollers have ridges that in my opinion make them perform better than their smooth counterparts. I love the thought of helping a friend not only discover products but a whole regimen that makes her feel as gorgeous and glowy as she is.

$124

Want more gift guide inspiration? We've got you covered. Check out all of our 2020 Gift Guides here.

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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When you ask any two mamas to share their experience with breastfeeding, you are bound to get very unique answers. That's because while the act of breastfeeding is both wonderful and natural, it also comes with a learning curve for both mothers and babies.

In some cases, breastfeeding won't be the right path for everyone. But with the right tools, resources and social support systems, we can make progress toward the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to continue breastfeeding through the first year of a child's life. After all, breastfeeding helps nourish infants, protects them against illnesses, develops their immune systems and more. Not to mention that mothers who breastfeed experience reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

With National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this month, it's a great time for mamas (and expectant mamas!) to gather the supplies that will support their feeding journey—whether it looks like exclusively breastfeeding, pumping or combo-feeding.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Designed for regular use, this double electric breast pump allows mamas to customize the cycle and vacuum settings that work for them. The 100% SoftShape™ silicone shields on this pump form-fit to a wide range of breast shapes and sizes—which means more comfortable, more efficient pumping. And every pump comes with two complete Dr. Brown's Options+ bottles, giving you everything you need to go from pumping to feeding.

$159.99

Dr. Brown’s™ Breast Milk Collection Bottles

There's no need to cry over spilled milk—because it won't happen with these storage bottles! Make the pump-to-feeding transition simpler with Dr. Brown's Milk Collection Bottles. The bottles adapt to Dr. Brown's electric pumps to easily fill, seal and transport, and they work with Dr. Brown's bottle and nipple parts when your baby's ready to eat. (Meaning no risky pouring from one bottle to another. 🙌)

$9.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

With an extra-durable design and double zip seal, your breast milk will stay fresh and safe in the fridge or freezer until it's needed. Plus, the bags are easy to freeze flat and then store for up to six months, so your baby can continue drinking breast milk long after you are done nursing.

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump with Options+™ Bottle & Bag

Here's something they don't tell you about breastfeeding ahead of time: While feeding your baby on one side, the other breast may "let down" milk, too. With this one-piece Silicone Breast Pump, you don't have to let those precious drops go to waste. The flexible design makes pouring the milk into a bottle stress-free.

$14.99

Dr. Brown’s® Manual Breast Pump

No outlet in sight? No worries! With this powerful-yet-gentle Manual Breast Pump, you can get relief from engorgement, sneak in some quick midnight pumping or perform a full pumping session without any electricity needed. With Dr. Brown's 100% silicone SoftShape™ Shield, the hand-operated pump is as comfortable as it is easy to use. Complete with Dr. Brown's® Options+™ Anti-Colic Wide-Neck Bottle, a storage travel cap and cleaning brush, consider this the breastfeeding essential for any mama who has places to go.

$29.99

Options+™ Anti-Colic Baby Bottle

With the soft silicone nipple and natural flow design of these bottles, your baby can easily switch between breast and bottle. Clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to the vent, your baby can enjoy a happy tummy after feeding sessions—without as much spit-up, burping or gas! By mimicking the flow and feel of the breast, these bottles help support your breastfeeding experience.

$7.99

This post is sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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7 hacks for simplifying after-school snacks

Prepping delicious and nutritious foods shouldn't take all day.

When you're in the middle of the school year and managing a family, each minute of time becomes very precious. Sometimes that means healthy food choices in the household can take a backseat. But don't stress it, mama. Prepping delicious and nutritious choices for the kids to munch on doesn't need to take all day.

Remember to keep it fun, simple and interactive! Here are tips for simplifying after-school snacks once and for all:

1. Prep snacks on Sunday

This simple trick can make the rest of the week a breeze. Tupperware is your friend here, you can even write different days of the week on each container to give the kids a little surprise every day. I really like storage with compartments for snack prep. Personally, I slice apples, carrots or cucumbers to pair with almond butter and hummus—all great to grab and go for when you're out all day and need some fresh variety.

2. When in doubt, go for fruit

Fruit is always a quick and easy option. I suggest blueberries, clementine oranges, apples, frozen grapes or even unsweetened apple sauce and dried fruit, like mixed fruit. It's fun to put together a fruit salad, too. Simply cut up all the fruit options and let the kids decide how they'd like to compile. Prepped fruit is also great to have on hand for smoothies, especially when it's been sitting in the fridge for a few days—throw it in the blender with some nut milk and voila.

3. Pair snacks with a dip

Hummus is a great dip to keep on hand with lots of versatility or you can grab a yogurt-based dip. Easy and healthy dippers include pre-sliced veggies, baby carrots and multigrain tortilla chips. Plain hummus is a great way to introduce seasonings and spices too—shake a little turmeric, add fresh basil and you'd be surprised what your kids will take to.

4. Have high-protein options readily available

Snacks with high protein, like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs and jerky will fuel kids for hours. One of my favorites is a turkey stick, which is a fun addition to the hummus platter. Just slice into bite-sized pieces. I love cottage cheese because it can go savory or sweet, use as a dip with your prepped veggies, or drizzle pure maple syrup and sprinkle with berries.

5. Always keep the pantry stocked

Monthly deliveries keeps the pantry updated without a trip to grocery store. Many kids are big fans of popcorn, granola and pretzels. We like to DIY our own snack packs with a little popcorn, pretzels, nuts and whatever else is in the pantry so there's always something different!

6. Make cracker tartines

I love the idea of replicating popular restaurant dishes for kids. Here are some of my favorite snack-sized tartines using any crisp bread, or favorite flat cracker of your choice as the base. There are no rules and kids love adding toppings and finding new combinations they love.

  • Avocado crackers: Use a cracker and then layer with thinly sliced avocado, a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese topped with roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds.
  • Tacos: The base for this is a black bean spread—just drain a can of black beans, rinse and place into a wide bowl. With a fork or potato masher, lightly smush the beans until chunky. Spread onto your cracker and top with tomato, cheddar cheese and black olives. Try out a dollop of super mild salsa or some lime zest to introduce some new flavor profiles.
  • A play on PB&J: Smear peanut butter, almond or a favorite sun butter on the cracker. I like to get a mix it up a bit and put fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries and tiny diced apples) and a little bit of dried fruit sprinkled on top.

7. Pre-make smoothie pops

The easy part about meal prep is the prep itself, but knowing exactly how much to make ahead is tricky. Freeze a smoothie in popsicle molds to have a healthy treat ready-to-go snack. They're super simple to make: Add any fruit (I like apples, berries, pineapples and mangoes) and veggies (carrots, steamed beet and wilted kale) to a blender with your favorite nut milk until you have consistency just a bit thinner than a smoothie. Pour into your trusty reusable popsicle molds and then into the freezer to make an ice pop so good they could eat them for breakfast.

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15 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are 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 indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Stomp Racers

As longtime fans of Stomp Rockets, we're pretty excited about their latest launch–Stomp Racers. Honestly, the thrill of sending things flying through the air never gets old. Parents and kids alike can spend hours launching these kid-powered cars which take off via a stompable pad and hose.

$19.99

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

$139

Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Sand play set

B. toys Wagon & Beach Playset - Wavy-Wagon Red

For the littlest ones, it's easy to keep it simple. Take their sand box toys and use them in the bath! This 12-piece set includes a variety of scoops, molds and sifters that can all be stored in sweet little wagon.

$17.95

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-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.

$19.95

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

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

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.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

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.

$79.99

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.

$24.75

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

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Even 5 hours of screen time per day is OK for school-aged kids, says new study

Researchers found screen time contributes to stronger peer relationships and had no effect on depression and anxiety. So maybe it isn't as bad as we thought?

MoMo Productions/Getty Images

If you've internalized some parental guilt about your own child's screen time usage, you're not alone. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to significant amounts of screen time in children leads to an increased risk of depression and behavioral issues, poor sleep and obesity, among other outcomes. Knowing all this can mean you're swallowing a big gulp of guilt every time you unlock the iPad or turn on the TV for your kiddo.

But is screen time really that bad? New research says maybe not. A study published in September 2021 of 12,000 9- and 10-year-olds found that even when school-aged kids spend up to 5 hours per day on screens (watching TV, texting or playing video games), it doesn't appear to be that harmful to their mental health.

Researchers found no association between screen usage and depression or anxiety in children at this age.

In fact, kids who had more access to screen time tended to have more friends and stronger peer relationships, most likely thanks to the social nature of video gaming, social media and texting.


The correlations between screen time and children's health

But those big social benefits come with a caveat. The researchers also noted that kids who used screens more frequently were in fact more likely to have attention problems, impacted sleep, poorer academic performance and were more likely to show aggressive behavior.

Without a randomized controlled trial, it's hard to nail down these effects as being caused directly by screens. The study's authors analyzed data from a nationwide study known as the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study), the largest long-term study of brain development and children's health in the country. They relied on self-reported levels of screen time from both children and adults (it's funny to note that those reported numbers differed slightly depending on who was asked… ).

It's important to remember that these outcomes are just correlations—not causations. "We can't say screen time causes the symptoms; instead, maybe more aggressive children are given screen devices as an attempt to distract them and calm their behavior," says Katie Paulich, lead author of the study and a PhD student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. Also worth noting is that a child's socioeconomic status has a 2.5-times-bigger impact on behavior than screens.

Weighing the benefits with the risks will be up to you as the parent, who knows your child best. And because we live in a digital world, screens are here to stay, meaning parents often have little choice in the matter. It's impossible to say whether recreational screen time is fully "good" or "bad" for kids. It's maybe both.

"When looking at the strength of the correlations, we see only very modest associations," says Paulich. "That is, any association between screen time and the various outcomes, whether good or bad, is so small it's unlikely to be important at a clinical level." It's all just part of the overall picture.

A novel look at screen time in adolescents

The researchers cite a lack of studies examining the relationship between screen time and health outcomes in this specific early-adolescence age group, which is one of the reasons why this study is so groundbreaking. The findings don't apply to younger children—or older adolescents, who may be starting to go through puberty.

Screen time guidelines do exist for toddlers up to older kids, but up to 1.5 hours per day seems unattainable for many young adolescents, who often have their own smartphones and laptops, or at least regular access to one.

Of course, more research is needed, but that's where this study can be helpful. The ABCD study will follow the 12,000 participants for another 10 years, following up with annual check-ins. It'll be interesting to see how the findings change over time: Will depression and anxiety as a result of screen time be more prevalent as kids age? We'll have to wait and see.

The bottom line? Parents should still be the gatekeepers of their child's screen time in terms of access and age-appropriateness, but, "our early research suggests lengthy time on screen is not likely to yield dire consequences," says Paulich.

Children's health

Mom and gorilla bond over their babies at the zoo: ‘It was so beautiful’

The new mothers shared a special moment at a Boston zoo.

Franklin Park Zoo/YouTube

Motherhood knows no bounds.

When Kiki the gorilla spotted a new mom and baby visiting her habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, she immediately took a liking to the pair. Emmelina Austin held her five-week-old son Canyon to the glass so Kiki could get a better look.

The gorilla spent nearly five minutes happily pointing and staring at baby Canyon.


Emmelina's husband captured the sweet moment on his phone, in a video that's now gone viral.

Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com

Why was Kiki so interested in her tiny visitor? Possibly because Kiki's a new mom herself. Her fifth baby, Pablo, was born in October.

Near the end of the video, Kiki scooped up Pablo and held him close. The new moms held their baby boys to the glass and shared a special moment together: just a couple of mothers, showing off their little ones.

"When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could've imagined that we would have had that experience," Austin told ABC News. "It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon."

We can't get enough of the sweet exchange. There's something special about sharing your little one with the world. Mothers of all ages, races–and it turns out, species–understand.

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