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12 peaceful bedtime strategies from a child behavior specialist

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Your family's sleep routine is an integral part of the health of your whole family, but sleep issues are one of the most universal parenting struggles. Common problems include bedtime resistance, waking in the night and early rising.

But there's hope: The science of behavior can offer many solutions to these common struggles.

Whether you are dealing with a serious sleep issue or the everyday struggles every parent faces there are evidence-based suggestions that can help your family.

If your child has a serious sleep issue, it is best to first have them evaluated by their pediatrician to make sure there isn't a biological cause for the sleep disturbance. It's also possible that extra support through from a behavior consultant may be needed.

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Start with these general proactive strategies and if you are still struggling try one of the intervention strategies or reach out for help.

Proactive strategies to encourage healthy sleep patterns and peaceful bedtimes:

1. Set clear expectations and be consistent

When you make a rule or expectation for your child, be consistent to follow-through on it. If your expectation is that they are in bed by 8 p.m. on school nights, then keep to it. Kids will challenge you more when you are inconsistent. Effective parenting is all about consistency.

2. Incorporate exercise and lots of fresh air

Research shows that exercise helps with sleep. I'm not sure if getting fresh air has any empirical research to back it up or if it's just something grandmothers always say, but it certainly can't hurt.

3. Create an environment for sleep

A quiet, dark, cozy, de-cluttered, toy-free room will be easier to fall asleep in.

4. Set a consistent bedtime routine.

Be consistent with your child's bedtime routine whatever it may be; bath time, story time, or other calming activities. Try to avoid exercise or screen time immediately before bed.

5. Increase your positive attention during the bedtime routine

Before saying the final good night, make sure your child has gotten a high dose of your time and undivided attention—invest in some special time, read, or cuddle. This will decrease the chance that your child will try to get this need met when it is time to go to sleep.

6. Decrease your attention after bidding them good night

After you have given the final good night, minimize your attention. Children often get really creative this time of day and come up with all kinds of philosophical questions about life, death, and our existence; now is not the time to engage; re-direct them to bed with minimal talking or attention.

You don't want to invalidate their concerns, but they need to learn that this is not the best time for additional chatting. Write those questions down so you can make sure to talk about them the next day.

7. Ensure sleep dependencies can be present the whole night

Sleep dependencies are things which are needed to fall asleep. They could be a special blanket, stuffed animal, music, white noise, night light, or parent/sibling. Sleep will be more continuous (less nighttime waking) when those sleep dependencies are available throughout the whole night rather than just at the initial falling asleep period.

This can be tricky if a sleep dependency pattern has already developed with something that is not available throughout the whole night. One strategy for this issue is to replace one sleep dependency, in gradual steps, with another that is available the entire night.

Intervention strategies when bedtime and sleep have become a struggle:

1. Bedtime pass

This is a method that research has demonstrated to be effective with young children (ages 3-10) who are having a hard time staying in bed (calling out, leaving room, endless needs and excuses).

Here's how it works: parents give their child a card (or two) that acts as a bedtime pass which the child can use to get out of their room for whatever they would like (drink of water, bathroom, one more hug, one last philosophical question). It gives them some freedom to leave their room within a clear boundary. When they use their pass, they give it to their parent and then it's gone for the night, and then they need to stay in their bed.

If they come out of their room after they have used their pass, parents gently guide them back to their room with minimal interactions and attention.

2. Time-based visits and graduated extinction

This method is based on the idea that kids are engaging in behaviors that are interfering with sleep for the function of gaining their parents' attention; if that attention is taken away the sleep-avoidance behaviors will decrease. Parent attention is given based on a time-schedule rather than in reaction to the child's behavior and is gradually decreased.

If your child is supposed to be in bed sleeping but instead is coming out of their room telling jokes and doing silly dances try not to laugh, it might increase that behavior. Instead, practice the art of non-reaction and guide them back to bed (I know it's so hard not to laugh or enagage sometimes). It's sometimes even harder not to react to them when they are crying which makes this method less appealing to many parents.

3. Reward the behavior you want to see

When your child meets one of your sleep goals (not leaving the bedroom, calling out less than X number of times, sleeps past 6 a.m.) reward them the next morning. Maybe they get to pick what breakfast to eat or go out for a special treat. You can also expand on this by making sticker charts or token economies (child earns tokens to exchange for more massive prizes). Start with small steps and gradually build as they are successful.

4. Bedtime fading

This is a strategy for children who may have a hard time falling asleep and have developed harmful patterns, often taking several hours to fall asleep. To increase the value of sleep, the child's bedtime is initially pushed later (e.g., 11:00 p.m.) so that they can fall asleep faster and avoid the pattern of lying in their bed but not sleeping. When the child is able to fall asleep in less time at that later bedtime, the bedtime is gradually moved earlier and earlier until the desired bedtime is reached.

5. Visual or auditory prompt

Use something visual or auditory as a signal to your child that it is time to sleep. This could be a white noise machine that only runs during sleeping hours or a visual clock that turns colors during sleeping and waking hours.

Rather than having to tell your child, "Go back to sleep it's 4 in the morning" they can refer to the clock or white noise machine. This also can be useful to help set a tangible goal for them to earn a reward, "If you stay in bed until the light turns green, you get pancakes in the morning."

Each family has its own unique culture that needs to be taken into consideration when addressing a problem and finding a solution. Every family communicates, eats, plays and sleeps in different ways. Behavior strategies aren't one-size-fits-all and often need to be adapted to fit the individual.

Behavior Analysts use sleep assessment tools to determine what issues may be preventing a healthy sleep pattern. When barriers to sleep are identified, evidence-based solutions are applied to fit the unique needs of that family and data is used to measure progress. Behavior strategies are explained, demonstrated and practiced so that parents feel confident in how to use the tools effectively.

This article originally appeared on Create Behavior Solutions.

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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

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Becoming a mom is overwhelming. You have this tiny little precious human that is yours to keep and take care of, and most of us have no idea where to even begin. Add to that all the products that are marketed (and targeted) at new moms and it can get even more confusing to figure out what you really need.

In those first few months, I can't even count the amount of middle-of-the-night Amazon orders I made, desperate to solve whatever issue it was we were having in that moment. Some worked, some didn't.

Here are all of things I wish I had bought before baby came so I could be prepared for *everything*.

1. Snoo

snoo

Why we love it: I got the Snoo when our son was 6 weeks old and I was desperate for some sleep. He was terrible at sleeping at night and I was at a breaking point after yet another sleepless night. My friend recommended the Snoo and, after reading all the reviews, I decided it I needed one. It took our son a week to get used to the new bassinet, but at 7 weeks old, his overnight sleep stretches started getting longer and longer and I started feeling like myself again.

The concept of the Snoo was created by Dr. Harvey Karp and it relies on some of the 5S of the theory he created to help soothe babies—sound, swaddle and a gentle swinging. The smart bassinet rocks your baby through the night while playing white noise, babies are swaddled and strapped in to ensure the safest sleep possible. If your baby fusses the bassinet reacts and swings a little faster and plays louder white noise. If your baby really needs you -because they are hungry or have a poopy diaper, the bassinet will stop and alert you.

More to know: The Snoo has a 30-day return policy, so if you or baby hates it, send it back and get a refund. They also offer the option of renting it since it's only good for the first six months of life, giving you the flexibility to then purchase a longer term crib.

Price: $1,295 to buy, $148,95 per month to rent.

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2. Baby Breeza Formula mixer

baby brezza

Why we love it: After it was clear that my breastfeeding journey was not going to be what I expected it to be, and we started formula feeding our son at 6 months, we were drowning in bottle parts to clean, bottle parts to use, bottles everywhere. What was more annoying is that I never really figured how to really mix the formula properly. Sometimes it had too much foam, making our son angry. Other times there were clunks of unmixed powder at the bottom, making me worry that he was not getting enough nutrition. The Baby Breeza gets rid of all those issue by perfectly mixing the formula in seconds, making it ready for baby. You can even choose the ounce setting and specify the type of formula you are using so it's properly mixed.

More to know: It's compatible with all baby bottles and formula brands.

Price: $224

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3. Tula Free to Grow carrier

tula carrier

Why we love it: I didn't know about babywearing until our son started getting a bit of a flat head on one of his sides and our pediatrician recommend us that we wear him more instead of pushing him around in a stroller. I was paralyzed because I am so, so, so, so clumsy, the idea of having a tiny baby strapped to my body seemed like a bad one. But the Tula is so easy to use, I was confident from day one. Wearing him became one of my favorite things. Even now with him being a almost 30 pound toddler, wearing him is one of my favorite methods of transportation for him.

More to know: The Free to Grow model is the most adaptable, allowing you to carry a 7 pound to a 45 pound child. They also come in the cutest prints ever.

Price: $159

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4. Nanit Plus baby monitor

nanit baby monitor

Why we love it: I made the mistake of initially purchasing only an audio monitor. It worked for the first few months, but once our kid could roll and move around the crib, we needed to know if his cries meant he was stuck or just having a bad dream. After a ton of research, we went with the Nanit Plus because it's Wifi based so you can keep tabs on your little one even when you are not home, which was key for us since we are both working parents. Nanit also gives you a report on how many hours your child is sleeping, which if you are obsessed with data like I am, it's amazing to have.

More to know: You can mount the camera from your wall and take it with you on trips so you also have an on-the-go monitor.

Price: $285.80

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5. Magic Merlin Sleepsuit

merlin sleepsuit

Why we love it: I mentioned we travel a lot, and also that we used the Snoo. Those two things are not compatible because the Snoo is not the easiest thing to bring with you on a trip. So for when we did go away from home, I discovered the Merlin Magic Sleepsuit that helped him keep sleeping through the night without issues. Bonus: It makes babies look like they are little marshmallows and it's adorable.

More to know: It's for babies from 3-6 months as long as they aren't rolling yet. There are also different type of fabrics to choose from, depending on the season to make sure your little one doesn't overheat.

Price: $39.95

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6. Pockit+ Stroller

pockit stroller

Why we love it: For when you do need a stroller—like for a long trip or a visit to the zoo—the Pockit+ was a game changer for us. We travel a lot, and our regular stroller was just too bulky and heavy to drag around. A fellow traveler parent recommended this one to use and we really put it to the test taking it on several plane rides. In all of them, the stroller fit either in the overhead compartment or under the seat, impressing even the most experienced flight attendants.

More to know: The stroller comes with carseat adaptors if your little one still doesn't have great head control to ride in a regular stroller.

Price: $229.95

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7. Fisher-Price baby dome

fisher price baby dome

Why we love it: We have two dogs that are super curious and for the first couple of weeks it meant that I was holding our baby in my arms all the time to prevent them from sniffing him too much (such a first-time mom thing, now they lick his face all day and he loves it.) It was exhausting and it meant I needed someone around if I wanted to go to the bathroom or grab a glass of water. Our friends gifted us the Fisher-Price baby dome and it changed it all. We used it a ton in our living room for our son to hang and play with age-appropriate toys, away from the dogs. We took it to the park where he snoozed shaded away from the sun thanks to the SPF canopy. We even took it to the pool, where we all chilled and enjoyed the day.

More to know: The whole thing folds in half making it easy to store in small places or even under the couch!

Price: $65

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8. Munchkin Inflatable duck tub

munchkin bath tub

Why we love it: The first time we gave our baby a bath we went for the sink approach. We all hated it. I cried, baby cried, husband did his best at trying to console both of us. We then tried the baby tub with a mesh insert, we still hated it. We decided to move to showers with dad to avoid more family trauma. Eventually I went through the baby shower gifts we received and found this inflatable duck tub and it was like magic—we suddenly all loved bath time again. It's easy to inflate, fits inside regular tubs and leaves enough room for baby to sit or slightly lean back without the enormity of a regular tub.

More to know: The tub comes with a sticker that changes color if water is too hot, giving moms even more peace of mind during baths.

Price: $21.99

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9. Zutano booties

zutano booties

Why we love it: Any experienced mom will tell you these booties are the best thing ever invented. They keep feet safe, come in all the colors you can imagine, and have rubber soles for those starting to learn how to walk. But best of all? They won't ever fall off your child's feet. Honestly, I wish they made them in adult sizes because they look so comfortable and are sooooo soft.

More to know: They are perfect for activities that require grippy socks.

Price: $15.75-$25 depending on size and color.

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10. Avent glass bottles

avent baby bottles

Why we love it: Becoming a mom made me hyper-aware of how much waste children make. Also, how a lot of the baby products are made of plastic. When I realized that my future involved a lot of bottles, I opted to go with glass ones because it seemed like a better option for the environment. Plus, I'm lazy and these can be placed in the dishwasher with the rest of your dishes without worrying about the material getting cloudy or smelly (like it happens with plastic bottles.)

More to know: I was afraid of breaking them at first, but after dropping them multiple times (once on a concrete sidewalk) and the bottles coming out unscratched, I realized they were even better quality than I initially thought.

Price: $35.74

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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While most of us are preparing to kick the fall season into high gear, designers at New York Fashion Week are a bit ahead of us. They're showcasing the latest trends for the upcoming seasons and the hairstyles are everything we want and more. No V.I.P pass? No problem, we've got you covered, mama.

Check out the best hair trends we spotted at New York Fashion Week. Plus, how to recreate the looks (because you deserve a little TLC too, mama!).

1. Decorative ponytails at Christian Siriano

There's nothing more fun (and easier!) than rocking ponytails, especially when you're figuring out day five of not washing hair. Models at Christian Siriano upgraded the look with minature crystals scattered throughout the style.


justine marjan on Instagram: “I met @lucyhale tonight and she let me bedazzle her head for #nyfw 🙏🏽😭✨🤩 #justinemarjanhair GET THE LOOK: 1. Prep dry hair with @tresemme…”

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Here's how to create the look at home:

1. Prep dry hair with hairspray, then flat iron until super smooth.

2. Gather back half of hair with more hairspray then brush with a smoothing brush and tie with elastic cord at the base of the neck.

3. Leave out two tendrils around the face then repeat with the rest of the hair.

4. Tie elastic cord around the length of the pony.

5. Use wig glue and tweezers to gently place crystals on the hair.

2. Flowers in messy braids at alice + olivia

When you're busy caring for an infant or shuttling your toddler to play dates, wearing a side braid adorned with miniature pearls and crystals seems like the last thing on your to-do list. But, getting the uber-pretty style is much easier than you think.



Here's how to create the look at home:

1. First smooth out the hair with a hairdryer, then separate hair into two even sections with a clean center part, traveling all the way from the top of your head to the bottom.

2. Loosely reverse french braid either side, keeping the hair near the hairline and above the ear.

3. After securing each braid, adorn them with self-adhesive flowers or pearls in random spots throughout the braid.

3. Middle parts at 3.1 Phillip Lim

Middle parts are a subtle, yet cool and modern look that play up this season's polished look.

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Here's how to create the look at home:

1. Create a perfect center part and then dampen hair with water to prep for styling.

2. Apply small amounts of styling foam and began drying down sections of hair on either side of the part to ensure the hair stayed flat against the head and behind the ears.

3. Saturate the mids-to-ends of the hair with a style prep and then dry those pieces with a diffuser to hold the style in place.

4. Finish with hairspray to lock in look.

4. Full swept bangs at Veronica Beard

This season, it's all about the 60's vibes, with tons of volume at the top of your head that falls into a perfectly undone style. Put simply: A deep side part and full swept bang is easy for mamas on-the go. "The [swept bang style] is meant to embrace each woman's natural texture—straight, wavy or curly," says Kevin Hughes, Moroccanoil Artistic Director.


Here's how to create the look at home:

1. Create a deep side part and a sweeping bang in front of the face adding volume throughout the hair.

2. Then create broken S waves throughout hair using a flat iron.

3. Only at the back of the root use a crimping iron to create lift and volume at the crown.

4. Smooth hair over the bouffant for a seamless finish.

5. Finish with hairspray.

5. Scarf twists at Kate Spade

If there's one thing we can relate to, it's the theme of the Kate Spade show—women going to the flower market on a weekend morning. If you're into playful, carefree hair, you'll love the rope braid buns and colorful scarves. It's perfect for mamas looking to add a hint of pizzazz.



Here's how to create the look at home:

1. Apply a thickening spray to prep hair.

2. Part hair in center.

3. Blow dry the front pieces away from your face. Pull hair back into a low ponytail and secure.

4. Twist hair into a rope braid with a wide-tooth comb.

5. Wrap braid into a twisted bun. Tie a scarf around the bun, securing at the bottom.

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Life

The internet moves so fast it can seem like you're missing out on all the good news and only seeing the bad, but here at Motherly we know that there is so much good in the world and even on the internet.

In an age when outrage and anger dominate online spaces, we fill this space with uplifting news each week. We recognize that life is hard right now. Mamas have a lot to worry about. This week's viral headlines included the fact that giving birth costs a ton (which of course isn't news to anyone who has given birth recently) and a pregnant star's boyfriend publicly taking a stand against epidurals (good thing he's not the one giving birth). Stories like those are important but can be, frankly, exhausting.

So here are the stories that made us smile this week to perk you up, mama:

This viral video of toddler besties hugging will melt your heart

Social media users are going crazy over this adorable video of two toddler boys hugging in the street...and we can't say we blame them. As parents, we're constantly trying to capture the cutest moments from our kids' day-to-day lives—and one New York dad recently struck gold when he managed to snag a video of his son and his "bestie" running into each other's arms.

The dad, Michael Cisneros, took a video of his son, Maxwell, spotting his best friend on a New York street. The scene is absolutely precious: Maxwell and his friend, Finnegan, are so obviously overjoyed to see one another. They run straight towards each other and hug, and our hearts completely melt every single time we watch it unfold.

We aren't the only ones who can't get enough of this adorable video—Cisneros posted the clip on his Facebook and it is (unsurprisingly) going viral.

"This is just so beautiful. Finnegan + Maxwell= BESTIES!!! If we could all be like this," Cisneros writes alongside the photo.

According to Cisneros, the boys have been friends for about a year. "When they are away from each other, they are always asking about one another," he tells ABC News. "They go to music class together...and they love to dance—both are excellent dancers."

Social media users can't get enough of these sweet toddlers and their friendship. "This just made my year," one social media user comments. "Bless your beautiful little guy and his equally beautifully bestie! I watched this several times in a row. Thanks for sharing all that joy! ❤️" another adds.

We couldn't love this more! In addition to just being really, really cute, this clip teaches us how important these special friendships are, and how you're never too young to make these bonds. Kudos to this dad for recognizing these special moments, and props to these sweet toddlers for spreading so much love.

Viral birth story: This teacher gave birth at school + her colleagues helped 

Mom and teacher Lindsay Agbalokwu was due to give birth to her second child on September 17, so when she walked into work weeks before that date she thought it would be like any other day. She could not have imagined she would end up giving birth on school grounds, with her colleagues (including one of her close friends) by her side.

But early in the morning, she found herself in pain and the school's vice principal went to enlist her friend and fellow teacher, Marissa Kast, to come and help her. When Kast found her friend, she knew it was clear things were progressing. She didn't yet know that her friend's baby would be born very shortly, on school grounds.

"I told our vice principal 'I'm taking her to the hospital'...So I got my car, I had to pull it around to the other side of the building where Lindsay was," Kast tells Motherly.

By the time Kast moved her car she could see the school's principal, Natalie Lewis, and dean of students, Chris Earls were helping Agbalokwu out of the school. The pregnant teacher "was barely standing on her own and then she was in labor," Kast explains. As the principal dialed 911, Agbalokwu's water broke.

Kast happened to have a sleeping bag in her car, so she placed it on the sidewalk and had the expectant mother lay down while an emergency dispatcher gave the educators instructions to assist with the delivery.

"[I thought] please let them get here in time. Like, I do not want to deliver a baby," Kast says. "This was not on my agenda for today. And so we lay her down, we kind of got her settled and then I heard sirens and I was like, 'I hear sirens, just hold on like you can do this'...She had Chris on one side, Natalie on the other and she clutching their hands, pretty much breaking them."

Soon a fire truck was there and firefighters were delivering little baby Zara into the world. Kast says she's forever grateful to those firefighters who showed up and helped her friend in the nick of time.

"We got her ready, we were there helping her, like coaching her, but they are the two that delivered this baby," she says.

Kast knew Agbalokwu's husband would be sad to have missed the birth of the couple's second child, so she channeled her inner birth photographer and snapped a couple of photos of mama and baby before calling Agbalokwu's husband and instructing him to meet them at the hospital.

Once her friend was safely at the hospital, Kast returned to the school to teach seventh grade before heading back to the hospital in the evening to have pizza with Zara's parents.

We imagine Agbalokwu never expected for her school's fellow teacher, principal and dean to step in and help her while she was in labor, but hey—they did what needed to be done. And we couldn't be more impressed by how it all unfolded.

The Agbalokwus are now resting up at home with Zara's big brother Zeke, and Kast still cannot believe that her friend had a baby so quickly, at school, on the sleeping bag she just happened to have in her car.

This father's advice to partners of breastfeeding mamas is #dadgoals

Muhammed Nitoto is the dad behind the popular Instagram account @ChroniclesofDaddy and this week he is going viral for the sweetest list of ways partners can help breastfeeding moms.

Nitoto wanted to "drop some knowledge on his fellow dads and soon-to-be dads" so he made a list of what fathers should be aware of when it comes to breastfeeding and he agreed to let Motherly share his list .

Here are his top 5 tips for new dads:

"1. For night feedings. When mom wakes up in the middle of the night. You get up and ask if she needs any help or water. The truth is most of the time she will say no but just the fact that you offered will go far.

"2. Ask mom if she can pump and then pick 1 feeding that you will always do. Mom will take on almost everything and will burn herself out if you let her. At times you may have to force her to rest without worrying about the baby. This is an easy way to do that without a fight.

"3. Don't put a time limit on how long mom breastfeed the baby. It's not just about feeding your child it's about them bonding as well. I know everyone has a diffrent length of time they will breastfeed and as a Dad it's hard to fully understand. Do not I repeat DO NOT try and rush this process it's not our place and it's not safe. You will open yourself up to a fight you can't win.

"4. Be patient. I know as a Dad the first few weeks we are equally excited and yet not as important yet. Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast and the stronger bigger they get the more Daddy Time will be coming your way.

"5. Paternity leave! If you have it TAKE IT. The early stages of a childs life are not just for moms to enjoy. I know as men making the money especially after having a baby but trust me. You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child. "

Thanks for the advice, Nitoto! Share this with a dad who you know wants to help!

This mom's viral tweet proves why working #momguilt is so unnecessary

Now she's a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who teaches journalism at Kent State University, but back in 1989, Connie Schultz was a working mom who, like many of us, was wracked with mom guilt.

That year, Schultz snapped a photo of her toddler daughter, Cait, imitating her while she was on the phone doing an interview. This week, she tweeted that photo alongside another, more recent picture of Cait, taken in 2016 as testified before a state committee about the need for paid parental leave while wearing her own baby.

"In '89, I'm doing phone interview & see toddler Cait imitating me. 1st thought: Oh, no. 2nd thought: Oh, wow. In '16, Cait wears 3-mo-old Milo as she testifies before RI leg committee on need for paid sick leave for all families. My working-mom guilt was a such a waste of time," Schultz captioned the two side-by-side images.

It's true. Schultz should not feel guilty, and neither should any working mother.

Research shows us that daughters of working mothers earn 23% more than daughters of mothers who never worked for pay outside the home and that sons of working mothers grow up to do twice as much unpaid work around the house.

Of course, not all moms want to work, and it is absolutely possible to have awesome outcomes like these even if you don't, but a lot of moms do want to do paid work. Motherly's second annual State of Motherhood survey found a "desire to participate in work outside the household" is a common feeling for millennial moms.

When our kids pretend to send emails or take work calls we should not be wracked with guilt, we should be filled with pride because they are watching be the people we want to be and know that they can do it too.

[A version of this post was published September 10, 2019. It has been updated.]

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Neil Patrick Harris is an excellent communicator. He's an amazing actor and just released his third young adult novel, The Magic Misfits: The Minor Third. But now that Neil's twins, 8-year-olds Harper and Gideon, are in third grade Neil and his husband, chef David Burtka, are having to get more intentional about the way they communicate with their kids.

Specifically, they're going beyond asking, "How was your day?" because Neil (like many parents) knows that asking the question this way typically leads to one-word answers.

"It takes a minute to remember that yes or no questions, at least to 8 and 9-year-olds, doesn't really encourage them to embellish very much," Neil told Motherly while promoting his partnership with Quaker Chewy to help drive donations to Adopt a Classroom, a non-profit that helps get school supplies into classrooms.

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Harris is passionate about getting teachers and kids the school supplies they need, and he's also passionate about finding out what his kids get up to in their classrooms. According to Harris, the key to getting kids to open up is taking this question further and giving kids a direction to take the conversation in.

"I try to ask them questions as if it is some kind of game. 'Tell me three things that happened today at school—one that was funny, one that was exciting and one that was a little bit scary,'" he explains.

The father of two says this helps the kids take on the challenge of opening up and having a conversation, rather than just serving up rote replies. That's why Harris tries not to ask things like, "What did you learn today?" or, "How was school?" (but like all of us, he sometimes slips up).

"Because unless they really want to share a specific thing, there's so many options on how to answer those kinds of questions. I ask them myself, but I catch myself. You're gonna have to be a little more bespoke in your questioning to get the answers you want."

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