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Give your child a name that’s out of this world (literally!) with these unique baby names influenced by astrology, constellations and our solar system. Whether you name your child after an astrological sign (hello, Leo!) or something that will impress an astronomer (like Cressida, an inner satellite of Uranus), there are lots of heavenly names to choose from.

photo: iStock

Amalthea

Archer

Aries

Ascella

Aurora

Bianca

Caelum

Carina

Celeste

Ciro

Cosmo

Cressida

Cyrus

Elara

Elio

Eos

Estelle

photo: iStock

Faye

Francisco

Galatea

Halley

Helene

Holmes

Janus

Jupiter

Kyler

Larissa

Leo

Lucian

Luna

Maia

Mercury

Miranda

Nash

Nova

Nunki

Nysa

Ophelia

Orion

Pallas

Phoebe

Phoenix

Rhea

Rigel

Saturn

Stella

Themis

Titan

Vega

Venus

—Eva Ingvarson Cerise

 

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Nursing Bras 101: Everything You Need to Know

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If you plan to breastfeed your babe, you definitely need the best nursing bra you can get your hands on. But you may be unsure about what to buy, when and how many. Read on to find answers to your burning bra questions, from the styles that will suit you, to the best pumping and nursing bras on the market of 2021.

Why do I need a nursing bra?
Nursing bras make it easier to feed your child and are more comfortable for you, especially in the first few months of breastfeeding. Their soft fabric and wider straps accommodate engorged breasts, and they offer stretch and support without aggravating sore breasts or sensitive nipples. Plus, some women find underwires uncomfortable as they can press on milk ducts, so a wire-free nursing bra is a welcome option. If you're pumping, you definitely need a comfortable pumping bra so you can keep your hands free.

How do I know which size bra to get?
Nursing bras are stretchy and accommodate size changes, so you can start purchasing bras at the end of your pregnancy. If there’s a department store or maternity/breastfeeding store in your area, get a professional fitting and advice on what's best for your specific breasts.

Otherwise, follow brands’ size charts. Many nursing bras come in letter sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL), so they’re designed for a broader range of band and cup sizes than a typical non-nursing bra. Bras with multiple adjustment hooks in back give you flexibility as your body changes postpartum.

How many do I need?
Start with three or four bras. You’ll want at least two in case you leak breastmilk into one, and you may want a softer style for sleeping/nighttime feedings or a more supportive option when you’re outside the home. If you're pumping, you may want a dedicated bra for pumping or a combo nursing/pumping bra.

But don’t buy too many bras until you’re at least 3-4 months postpartum, as your body and breasts need time to regulate after baby is born. Your needs and breasts will change in the months after pregnancy, so you may want a different style or size of nursing bra as time goes on.

What kind of nursing bra should I choose?
The right bra depends on your breast shape and where baby will be nursing. If you breastfeed outside your home, you may want a different type of bra for convenience and privacy than you’d use if you mostly plan to be nesting at home.

Here are the most common nursing-bra styles:

Drop open/drop cup: These bras have a clip on each strap that you open and pull down the cup to nurse. Look for styles where you can unclip the bra with one hand, as you’ll likely be holding a hungry baby with the other. We like the Everything Bra from Bodily, the Signature Lace Cotton-Lined Nursing Bralette from Hanky Panky and the "nu nudes" line of seamless bras from Motherhood Maternity, a seamless clip-down bra that comes in a range of colors, including many skin tones, and sizes: original (for B-D cups), full-busted (D-G cups) and plus-size (1X-3X).

Crisscross/Crossover/pull-aside: Just pull the bra aside to expose the breast for nursing. Super easy and convenient, especially for home use and as sleep bras. We love the Foxy by AVYN for its stretchy, supportive fabric and stylish strappy back and the 24/7 Full Cup Bra by Boob, which has a roomier cup and supports women up to size XXL.

Lift-up/pull-down: These bralette-style bras can be lifted up or pulled down when nursing. They're convenient for nighttime feedings and are comfortable sleep bras.

Combination pumping & nursing bra: A hands-free pumping bra you can also nurse in is the ultimate sanity saver. We love the convenient comfort of the Do Anything Bra from Bodily, the Multitasking Maternity Bra from Motherfigure, Hands Free Pumping Seamless Nursing bra from Motherhood Maternity and the Sublime Hands-Free Pumping & Nursing Bra from Kindred Bravely.

Nursing tank or cami: For added support on a postpartum belly, consider a nursing tank or cami, which comes in both crossover and drop-open styles. We like the Amelia Pumping & Nursing Crop Cami from Davin & Adley.

Nursing sports bra: Yes, you can get a sports bra that’s easy to nurse in! These bras, like the ActiveSupport Nursing Sports Bra from Belly Bandit and Cadenshae's Ultimate Nursing Sports Bra, balance comfort and support with easy-to-use clasps or zippers for nursing. The nursing and pumping bras from Sweat and Milk come in three levels of support (high impact, medium impact, light impact), so you can find the right kind of bra for your favorite workout, from running to Pilates.

Maternity-friendly nursing bras: The Ella Maternity, Nursing & Pumping Bralette from Davin & Adley keeps you comfortable during pregnancy and looks gorgeous, with its lace details and racerback styling. Then, when baby arrives, you can nurse in it by twisting the magnetic, locking nursing clasps. It's also compatible with wearable pumps, flanges and milk catchers.

What else should I look for?
Within the different styles of nursing bras, you’ll find a variety of models: seamless or shaped cups, wireless or underwire, front closure, back closure or slip-on, and lined or unlined. Choose the style that best suits your breasts and personal preferences.

Once you get into the swing of breastfeeding, your needs should become clearer and you can add more bras to your stash. You may also discover issues that warrant a new purchase. Like, if you're leaking breastmilk, try Belly Bandit's Leakproof Nursing Bra or Leakproof Nursing Pads.

The Best Nursing Bra Brands
We asked nursing moms for their favorite nursing bra brands, and these top the list. We’ve linked to their websites so you can find the right styles, sizes and price range for you.

Anita

AVYN

Behr

Bella Materna

Belly Bandit

Bodily

Boob

Bravado

Cadenshae

Cake

Cupcake Maternity

The Dairy Fairy

Davin & Adley

Freya

Hanky Panky

Hotmilk

Ingrid & Isabel

Kindred Bravely

Knix

Larken X

Lataly

Latched Mama

Motherfigure

Motherhood Maternity

NOONI'S

SHEFIT

Sweat and Milk

 

featured image: Motherhood Maternity

Eva Ingvarson Cerise

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best nursing bras 2021

If you purchase something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.

Portable Play Yards for Indoor & Outdoor Fun

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Whether you call them a playard, play yard or play pen, these portable powerhouses take convenience to the next level by doubling as travel cribs or including features that promote outdoor fun, like removable covers for protection from sun and insects. We’ve rounded up our favorites and share all their bells and whistles.

Chicco Alfa Lite Lightweight Travel Playard

At only 13 pounds, the Chicco Alfa Lite travel playard is a breeze to bring with you. It comes with a zippered carry bag and features an easy, snap-open set up so it's at the ready when sleepiness strikes. Once snapped open, your child can rest or play on a full-size, padded area, and crawl in and out via a zippered side panel. The mattress cover zips off and is machine-washable, and the frame fabrics can be removed and washed as well. Designed for kids up to 30 pounds and 35 inches tall.

Available at target.com, $160.

photo: Veer

Veer Basecamp

Ready to head to the beach, a park or just out to the backyard? Then you need the Veer Basecamp. This play yard is delivered fully assembled and opens (and folds) in one easy step. It comes with anchors for beach or grass, a UPF50 cover for sun and rain, and a moisture-resistant bottom. Kids will love the large play area (56" wide x 43" deep x 35" high), and parents will appreciate the built-in insect protection, external zipper for safety, and the storage bag. If you have the Veer Cruiser wagon, the Basecamp's storage bag attaches to it in a stroke of brilliance. Pick up the brand's roomy, waterproof tote, and you're ready for every adventure.

Available at goveer.com, $179.

photo: born free

born free nisa

The nisa playard from born free has a pop-open design for a quick setup and comes with a removable, oversize six-panel canopy with three mesh panels for ventilation and three covered panels to protect kids from the elements. One panel zippers down for easy access to the inside. Bonus: You can fold up the play yard with the canopy still attached, making it a snap to reassemble next time. The play yard floor is padded and covered with machine-washable fabric. When it's time to pack up, just fold it up and tuck it into its carrying bag.

Available at shopbornfree.com, $200.

photo: Guava

Guava Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib

This lightweight (13 pounds!) combination travel crib and play yard fits in the included backpack and can be brought on an airplane as a carry-on bag. It's certified free of harmful chemicals and features an ingenious zippered side door for crawl-friendly playtime. When using it as a travel crib, there's an insulated foam mattress pad with waterproof cover so your child will be comfortable on any surface, indoors or out. When you're heading outside, bring along the separately sold mosquito net ($27) and UPF50+ fun shade ($37), which blocks the sun's rays, darkens baby's sleeping area and makes for an awesome fort. 

Available at guavafamily.com, $220.

photo: Regalo

Regalo Eight Panel My Play Deluxe Portable Play Yard

Designed for kids between 6 and 24 months, this water-resistant play yard with removable canopy (there's also a smaller, six-panel version) can be set up or folded down in one step. The canopy, made from half mesh and half UV-protected nylon, also opens with one step. The edges of the play yard have reinforced stitching to keep kids from ripping through it, and the bottom is made of a durable nylon. There's a zippered door that lets kids in or out, and a carrying bag is included.

Available at regalo-baby.com, $120.

photo: phil & ted's

phil & ted's Traveller Travel Crib

Based on its name and ultra light weight (6 pounds), you know the Traveller is designed to make it easier to get away with your baby. It's compact enough to fit in a small car trunk and unpacks into a cozy sleep spot and play area. It assembles easily and features a zippered side so parents can slide in for sleepy snuggles and kids can crawl out while playing. Pop on the mesh top accessory ($19.99) that attaches to the crib with toggles to keep baby protected from bugs and sun. 

Available at philandteds.com, $150.

photo: Summer

Summer Pop 'N Play Deluxe Ultimate Playard

True to the Pop 'N Play name, this lightweight (12 pounds) metal play structure can be set up in seconds. When playtime is over, it folds compactly into a storage bag with shoulder strap. It has mesh sides for visibility, a full-coverage, removable canopy with zippered sections for added airflow and easy access to kids, and a padded floor. You get 14 square feet of safe, comfortable play space and, if kids need extra entertainment, you can slip a tablet, smart phone or other toy into the clip-on entertainment pouch that attaches to the side.

Available at summerinfant.com, $100.

Eva Ingvarson Cerise

featured photo: Chicco

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There are a ton of options in convertible car seats and all-in-ones, and certain brands top parents’ lists for safety and comfort. In this guide to noteworthy new releases and the highest-rated brands in convertible car seats, you’ll find convertible car seats with load legs, the best car seats for hot weather, and more.

photo: Evenflo

Important Guidelines:

  • Purchase your convertible car seat no later than your child’s first birthday, according to Consumer Reports.
  • A convertible car seat can be installed forward-facing or rear-facing, but experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend you keep it rear-facing for safety as long as possible. Some states require rear-facing until your child’s second birthday.
  • You can use a convertible car seat from birth, or you can start with an infant car seat and then switch to a convertible before your child’s first birthday. An infant car seat lets you remove the seat from the base and move between the car, stroller and other locations without waking a sleeping baby. But it is an additional expense.
  • Some convertible car seats are marketed as all-in-ones, 5-in-1s, 4-in-1s or 3-in-1s, meaning they convert from an infant seat into a convertible car seat and then a booster seat, extending the time you can use them.

New for 2021

Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-In-One Car Seat

Our mom tester loved that this clever car seat rotates 360 degrees (with a simple lift tab mechanism) to make it easier to get your child in and out of the car. No more awkwardly reaching into the car to get your child buckled in, or bonking your baby's head trying to take them out! When it's time to go from rear-facing to forward-facing, just give it a spin; no need to reinstall. A helpful indicator lets you know when the seat is firmly locked into position. It then converts to a booster seat for up to 10 years of use (4-120 pounds). On-the-go recline and 14 headrest settings mean a more comfortable ride for your little one, and two cup holders give you lots of room for cups, snacks or toys. The cup holders are top-rack dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.

Available at evenflo.com, $380.

Graco SlimFit3™ LX 3-in-1 Car Seat

Graco's slimmest car seat (16.7 inches wide) lets you fit three seats across the back seat without compromising on safety. This 3-in-1 converts from rear-facing to forward-facing and a high-back booster, accommodating kids 5-100 pounds. Adjust the height of the harness and headrest together in 10 positions for a customized fit; four recline options provide added comfort. The cover can be removed and machine-washed without uninstalling the car seat or removing the harness. The cup holders are also removable for cleaning.

Available at gracobaby.com, $264.

New for 2020

Cybex Sirona S SensorSafe Convertible Car Seat

The Sirona S car seat rotates around 360 degrees. Turn the seat sideways to get your child in and out of it more easily, a big plus for everybody, especially for adults with sore backs or kids with special needs. Kids can sit rear-facing up to age 4, but when it's time to switch from rear-facing to forward-facing, there's no need to reinstall the seat and risk installing it incorrectly. You just spin it around. This car seat comes complete with a load leg to stabilize the seat and reduce crash forces in the event of a collision. The SensorSafe technology in the harness's chest clip alerts you if your child becomes unbuckled while driving, the back seat's temperature gets too hot or other unsafe conditions occur. There's a 12-position headrest and a 12-position recline for maximum comfort. 

Available at amazon.com and buybuybaby.com, $500.

Chicco Fit4 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

The Fit4 is an all-in-one car seat designed to suit infants up to big kids, from 4 pounds to 100 pounds. Babies sit in rear-facing comfort thanks to the ergonomic infant positioner, which you then swap out with a toddler-size cushion. Once kids move forward-facing, adjust the 10-position headrest as they grow. When kids are at the booster stage, switch from the harness to the seat belt and add the shoulder pad for extra comfort. And don't worry; the Chicco website has instructional videos and guidelines for when and how to move your car seat to the next stage.

Available at chiccousa.com, $350.

Evenflo EveryFit 4-in-1 Car Convertible Seat

The Evenflo 4-in-1 car seat goes from a rear-facing infant car seat to a high-back booster seat to a no-back booster, keeping your child strapped in safely from 4 pounds to 120 pounds. For convenience and your child's comfort, there's a 12-position headrest, removable cushions with machine-washable fabrics, two integrated cup holders and a removable snack tray. Mesh fabrics keep your child cool on longer rides, and the recline positions (3 for rear-facing, 1 for forward-facing) are designed to minimize the head slump of a sleeping baby.

Available at evenflo.com, $200.

Top Brands in Convertible Car Seats

Britax

Britax has several great options for convertible car seats: The Allegiance and Emblem are the least expensive and has ranked highly on Consumer Reports ratings for convertible car seats. The company’s other three models, Boulevard ClickTight, Advocate ClickTight (pictured above) and Marathon ClickTight, all appear on that list when it comes to crash protection and other important factors. You can also get those three models with an anti-rebound bar, a bar located near your child's feet that provides stability in the event of a collision. The company has also launched the One4Life ClickTight All-in-One, which is designed for your child's first ten years, from a rear-facing seat for infants and toddlers to a forward-facing seat and booster seat.

Available at us.britax.com.

Chicco

Another leader in car seats, Chicco car seats are known for being easy to install, which is handy when you travel with them or move them to a different car. In addition to the Fit4 four-in-one car seat profiled above, the brand also makes the popular NextFit line in four different styles: Sport, Zip, Zip Air and Zip Air Max (pictured above). The Zip style features a seat pad you can zip off and wash in the washing machine, while the Zip Air sports both the machine-washable seat pad and a breathable backrest for added comfort. The Zip Air Max adds 25% more legroom in rear-facing mode, so kids can sit rear-facing until they weigh 50 pounds. When forward-facing, kids enjoy extended calf support. New for 2021 is the Adapt model of the Fit4 car seat, which uses humidity-regulating fabric and breathable mesh to keep your child cool when it's warm and warm when the temperatures are colder.

Available at chiccousa.com.

Clek

The Fllo and Foonf car seats from Clek feature advanced safety technology, including an anti-rebound bar and a design that accommodates rear-facing seating until a child turns four. Both models have a nine-year expiration, so you can use them with multiple kids. Clek is also the first car seat manufacturer with a recycling program.

Some key differences:
• Foonf (pictured above) has three recline positions, while Fllo has one set angle for rear-facing and one for forward-facing.
• Foonf is designed for a rigid LATCH installation, while Fllo is designed for a belt installation, vehicle belt or LATCH belt.
• Fllo is about 10 pounds lighter than Foonf and only 17 inches across, making it easier to place three car seats next to one another in the back seat.

Available at clekinc.com.

Cosco

Starting at under $45, Cosco convertible car seats are a great, budget-friendly choice, especially if you need a backup car seat for travel or to put in other caregivers’ cars. Some of their models are even certified for use on an airplane, such as the Scenera NEXT (pictured above) and Apt 50. These lightweight and compact car seats are easy to carry through airports and come in a variety of bold colors and patterns, so you can spot them fast on the luggage conveyer belt.

Available at coscokids.com.

Cybex

Cybex is known for car seat innovations, as you've seen with the Sirona S profiled above. The Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0, pictured above, features safety features you won’t find in many other car seats. It syncs with your cell phone to alert you if your child’s chest buckle opens while driving or if you leave the child in the car after you've removed the key. It will also alert you if the backseat gets too hot or cold. The car seat also features a 12-position height-adjustable headrest and adjustable side-impact protection for comfort and added safety.

Available at cybex-online.com.

Diono

Large families love the radian models from Diono because they’re slim enough to fit three-across in most mid-size vehicles. They're also all-in-ones, meaning they convert to a booster seat when your child outgrows the convertible seat, so you get extended use out of them. The Diono seats feature a unique foldable seat that makes them convenient for air travel.

Available at diono.com.

Evenflo

Evenflo offers a number of all-in-one car seats, 4-in-1 car seats (like the EveryFit profiled above) and convertible car seats, all with budget-friendly price tags. The Everystage All-in-One (pictured above) lets your child sit rear-facing up to 50 pounds and adjusts to multiple positions for comfort. The SafeMax all-in-one incorporates SensorSafe technology to alert you if a child’s chest buckle opens while driving or if a child is left in the car after keys are removed. It has also been tested for safety in the event of a rollover.

Available at evenflo.com.

Graco

With a number of convertible car seats to choose from, including the 4Ever DLX (pictured above), Graco’s car seats let you choose the features most important to you, from extended rear-facing seating and a steel-reinforced seat to easy-to-remove seat pads and additional side-impact protection. If you’re looking for a car seat to grow with your child, check out their 3-in-1 car seats (convertible plus booster seat) and the 4-in-1 car seats, which convert from rear-facing to forward-facing to a high-back booster and backless booster, for safe seating up to 120 pounds.

Available at gracobaby.com.

Maxi-Cosi

The Pria car seat from Maxi-Cosi comes as both a 3-in-1 (pictured above) and a convertible car seat that accommodates kids up to 85 pounds. All the Pria models feature side-impact protection and removable, machine-washable fabric. The Magellan models are all 5-in-1, so your child is able to use them from birth to age ten. They all have side-impact protection and a 14-position headrest you can adjust as your child grows.

Available at maxicosi.com.

Nuna

Highly ranked by Consumer Reports, the RAVA (pictured above) boasts extended rear-facing seating, up to 50 pounds. The car seat also provides up to two more inches of leg room rear-facing, with extra support while forward-riding. It’s known for being easy to install and for its push-button, 10-position recline, as well as its soft fabric. The company recently launched the EXEC 3-in-1, which has a multi-functioning adjustable leg rest, an anti-rebound panel and fits three across in many mid-size vehicles. Kids can also sit rear-facing in the EXEC up to 50 pounds.

Available at nunababy.com.

Eva Ingvarson Cerise

featured image: Diono

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If you buy something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.


Toddlers love to move, build and explore, and these holiday gifts help them do just that. From magnetic building blocks and a bouncy unicorn to a workbench and wagon, these presents will bring hours of fun. There are practical gifts too, to make outings and clean-up easier.

 


Melissa & Doug Food Groups

$24   BUY NOW

Watermelon, milk, cheese, fish, eggs and all sorts of fruits and veggies are part of this solid wood play set that makes the perfect addition to your playroom. Four baskets for sorting and storage make cleanup a breeze.


Contours Explore 2 Stage Portable Booster Seat & Diaper Bag

$50   BUY NOW

More of a gift for parents, but it makes outings easier, so everybody wins. This combination diaper bag and booster seat holds diapers and accessories, and it attaches to most chairs for a clean, comfortable seat wherever you go.


Wobble Board from Little Partners

$100   BUY NOW

Build both balance and self-confidence with this wooden board. It looks deceptively simple, but kids will quickly figure out they can rock on it, draw on it, or send their stuffies sliding down either side.


Ellie & Becks Dolls

$24+   BUY NOW

These sweet, petite dolls come in a variety of ethnic features; there are also dolls with Down syndrome. The dolls are anatomically correct with flexible limbs, and you can buy the cutest outfits and furniture for them on the site.


Wooden Activity Workbench from Early Learning Centre

$50   BUY NOW

Hammer wooden pieces into shape-sorting holes, spin the cogs, turn the vice, and move the colorful beads. This workbench comes with 22 accessories, including four tools, a chalkboard and a clock with moveable hands.


Born to Be Wild Tableware from LouLou LOLLIPOP

$8+   BUY NOW

Tame picky eaters and entertain restless ones with this collection of animal-themed silicone tableware, designed for kids up to age 5. The ergonomic and adorable collection comes in plates, bowls, cutlery and more.


Traffic Blue 3D Play Carpet from IVI

$80   BUY NOW

Check out the soccer field, traffic circle, parking lot and other designs on this play carpet! Just add cars or figurines and you'll have one happy toddler. The carpets are hypo-allergenic, anti-static, stain-resistant and made with non-toxic dyes and fabrics.


Toy Storage Hammock from MiniOwls

$15   BUY NOW

Kids want to help with clean-up when stuffies, balls and dolls can live in this fun and functional storage hammock. Comes in two sizes and eight color options.


Cooking Set Magnetic Building Blocks Toy from STICK O

$25   BUY NOW

Bright colors and recognizable food shapes make this an awesome STEM toy for littles. From the makers of Magformers, it teaches color and shape recognition and will be fun for pretend play when your child gets older.


Crescent Moon Rocker from Milk Street Baby

$149   BUY NOW

This is worth the splurge for the nursery. Everybody, especially your child, will moon over this gorgeous toddler-size rocking chair, available in three different finishes. Assembly required.


Unicorn Bouncy Pals Plush Hopping Animal Toy from iPlay iLearn Toys

$36   BUY NOW

If you had something similar as a child, you know the hours of fun and exercise kids get on these bouncers. This one is covered in soft fabric with anti-slip feet. It comes as a unicorn and a host of other animals.


Kullerbu Kringel Domino Play Track Starter Set from HABA

$70   BUY NOW

Littles may need some help setting up the dominoes, but they'll love to use the balls to knock them down. Designed for kids up to age 8, you'll get years of use out of this well-made beech and plastic set.


The Anthem All-Terrain Wagon Stroller from Gladly Family

$499   BUY NOW

Wagons are one of the most useful and fun gifts for littles. This wagon accommodates 1-2 kids or an infant car seat with an adapter (sold separately). Fold down the two seats to pop in the stow-away mattress for naps on the go. The double canopies have mesh inserts and zip closed against sun, wind or rain.


Animal Alphabet Print from the Letter Nest

$95   BUY NOW

This animal-themed artwork printed from an original watercolor by Sally King McBride gives kids memorable visual cues for remembering that A is for alligator and Z is for zebra. Also comes in other themes, including nautical, desserts, flowers and more.


Mustard Made Kid-Size Clothing Hangers

$22.50   BUY NOW

Ditch flimsy plastic hangers for these sturdy (and stylish!) metal and wood hangers. Available in a range of colors and two styles, they're 12 inches long so they'll work for toddler clothes and bigger kid sizes.

—Eva Ingvarson Cerise

Editor’s Note: Prices and availability reflect the time of publication. Images courtesy of retailers.

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Sleep is a wild roller coaster ride during your baby’s first year. But learning how to create good sleep habits will help you and your baby get in a good groove for snoozing. We asked two prominent sleep experts to help us understand baby sleep in year one. Dr. Harvey Karp is a pediatrician, child development expert, co-founder of smart-tech and parenting solutions company Happiest Baby, which created the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet, and author of The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep. Renee Wasserman, P.T., M.P.H, is an infant & child sleep consultant and child behavior consultant, as well as the founder of the consulting practice SleepyHead Solutions, where she helps parents overcome sleep challenges with their babies and toddlers. Read on for their advice and our guide to baby sleep in the first year, from awake windows and naps to sleep regressions and the sleep tools that really work.

photo: iStock

The good news: There are things we can do to help our babies learn to sleep well. “Learning to sleep on your own is a skill just like learning to crawl or walk, and it takes lots of practice, consistency and patience,” says Wasserman. “With the right plan looking at the sleep environment, routine, timing of feedings, schedule and approach to teach the skill of independent sleep, healthy sleep is achievable by all.”

Before we get into decoding your baby’s sleep during the first year to help you create healthy sleep habits, let’s talk about you, sleepless mama. The sleep deprivation you experience in year one is no joke. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, relationships, ability to perform tasks and your health. We get it. When you’re taking care of a baby, it can feel like there’s no time to take care of yourself. But making time for self-care is super important.

The ultimate self-care for new moms is getting sleep, according to Dr. Karp. “And that means doing whatever you can to make getting even one extra hour of shut-eye a priority.” Ask loved ones for help when you need it. Let household duties wait. Don't ignore your own needs. “Take some time to yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes each day,” says Wasserman. “Give yourself some grace…. You are doing the best you can do, and your children are lucky to have you as their parent!”

Guide to Baby Sleep by Age

Babies can differ when it comes to sleep patterns, but these guidelines will give you an idea of what to expect from naps and wake times, and how to create a healthy sleep routine for your baby. If you’re concerned about your baby’s sleep patterns, talk to your pediatrician. 

Birth to 2 months

Total sleep a day: 14-18 hours
Awake window between naps: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours
Naps: 45 minutes to 3 hours, several naps a day
Sleep help: swaddling, white noise, motion (smart bassinet, rocking, bouncing on a yoga ball), Dr. Karp's the 5 S's, described below

Newborns are usually up every 2-3 hours, even at night, which gradually extends to 3- to 5-hour stretches of nighttime sleep. To help newborns learn the difference between day and night, keep lights brighter by day, take sunny morning walks, and play upbeat music. In the evening, dim the lights and plan calmer activities, like baths, and stick to soft music and lullabies, as well as white noise.

Between birth and four months, Dr. Karp recommends the soothing technique he developed called the 5 S’s to turn on baby’s calming reflex and promote sleep. The 5 S’s are:
⚬ Swaddlingit decreases startling and re-creates the womb’s coziness.
⚬ Side/stomach positionyou’ll calm a crying baby more quickly in these two positions, but, for safety, babies must be put on their back for sleep.
⚬ Shushingmaking shushing noises with your mouth will soothe a fussy baby, and white noise re-creates the shushing sound that blood flow makes in the womb.
⚬ Swingingto calm a crying child, support baby's head and neck, and use fast, tiny swinging motions no more than one inch to each side (do this safely, no shaking).
⚬ SuckingWhether they’re using a pacifier, their thumb or your pinky finger, sucking soothes babies into sleep.

photo: iStock

2-4 months

Total sleep a day: 13-14 hours
Awake window between naps: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Naps: 30 minutes to 2 hours, 2-3 naps a day
Sleep help: white noise, blackout shades, Dr. Karp's 5 S's, introducing a sleep and feeding schedule, teaching your baby to self-soothe

Introduce a consistent daily schedule of feedings and sleep times. Picking up on your baby’s sleep cues (yawning or rubbing their eyes) will help you establish your schedule. And blackout shades can help babies sleep when the sun is shining. This is also a good time to introduce a sleep routine to signal to your child that it's time for rest. Before naps, you can sing, read a book or cuddle. The bedtime routine should be longer and can incorporate a bath, lullaby, baby massage, nursing or a bottle, soft music, white noise and books.

A key part of creating good sleep habits is teaching babies to fall asleep independently, rather than always rocking, feeding or holding them until they fall asleep. It’s normal for children, and adults, to wake up between sleep cycles. So when they wake, we make it easier for them to fall back asleep if they know where they are. And that's why experts recommend that we put babies to bed drowsy but awake.

“If they fall asleep while taking a bottle and then wake during the night and the bottle is gone, it often results in them crying for the bottle," says Wasserman. "If they fall asleep on their own after being put in the crib drowsy but awake, when they wake during the night, they will be in the exact same position they were in when they fell asleep, making it easier for them to get right back to sleep.”

In fact, Dr. Karp recommends that if your baby falls asleep before being placed in their bed, wake them slightly after you lay them down, by changing their diaper, putting your cool hand on their head or giving them a little tickle. Baby will open their eyes, moan or move your hand before falling back to sleep.

“I know it sounds crazy to wake a sleeping baby,” says Dr. Karp. “But it helps infants learn how to self-soothe, which they can use in the middle of the night to put themselves back into slumber all on their own."

At this age, babies are typically sleeping for 5- to 6-hour stretches, but watch out for that four-month sleep regression. Regressions usually last 2-4 weeks and typically coincide with exciting developmental and physical changes. According to Wasserman, the four-month regression generally happens as baby’s internal sleep rhythms start to settle. This can require changing your schedule so naps and nighttime sleep are better in sync with your child’s natural sleep rhythms.

4-8 months

Total sleep a day: 12-14 hours
Awake window between naps: 2-3 hours
Naps: 30 minutes to 2 hours, 2-3 naps
Sleep help: White noise, consistent nap and a sleep schedule allowing your baby to self-soothe

Sleep stretches of 6-8 hours are possible at this age. But babies typically start teething around this time, so wake-ups can be due to discomfort. Try chilled teethers and give extra cuddles to soothe your little one back to sleep.

When your baby cries out from the crib, wait a moment before rushing to comfort them. Yes, it will feel like the longest seconds of your life. But here's why it's important: Your baby may be able to self-soothe to get back to sleep, thanks to all the work you've been doing to put them down drowsy but awake.

If you suspect hunger is waking your baby at night, make sure they're feeding well before bedtime to fill them up. You can also introduce a dream feed, which means nursing or giving your half-asleep baby a bottle before you go to bed for the night. 

At 8-9 months, prepare for another sleep regression. According to Wasserman, this regression is usually tied to babies dropping their third nap. She recommends moving bedtime a little earlier to keep your little one from becoming overtired as they get used to being awake longer before bed.

photo: iStock

9-12 months

Total sleep a day: 12-14 hours
Awake window between naps: 2.5-4 hours
Naps: 1-2 hours, 2-3 per day
Sleep help: White noise, consistent nap and a sleep schedule allowing your baby to self-soothe

As babies approach the one-year mark, they may be sleeping up to 7-10 hours at a stretch, and it will feel as glorious for you as it sounds. But don't get too comfortable because, with walking and other exciting baby milestones and developmental leaps on the horizon, sleep may get interrupted again.

Around 12 months, another sleep regression is common. This one is usually linked to learning to walk and may result in your baby refusing to nap. Wasserman recommends not giving up on naps or switching to one nap. Instead, hang tight and be consistent with your two naps as your baby moves through this regression in a few weeks.

The happy ending to this wild year? Understanding your baby's natural sleep rhythms, creating a soothing environment for rest, building an adaptable schedule of sleep and feedings, and teaching your baby to self-soothe and sleep independently has built a foundation of good sleep habits that will help your child (and you!) sleep well for years to come. 

—Eva Ingvarson Cerise

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If you buy something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.


Get babies thinking, moving, reading and learning with these great gifts for kids under age one. You’ll find a variety of prices and interests on our list of holiday gift ideas for babies from about 6 months up to a year.

 


My First Musical Walker Toy from Hape

$75   BUY NOW

Kids can sit to play a drum, xylophone and three spinning blocks or stand and take this musical orchestra on a stroll. It automatically plays music as kids walk (and yes, parents, you can turn off that feature whenever you like).

 


InnyBin from Fat Brain Toys

$25   BUY NOW

Kids explore colors, textures, shape-sorting and problem-solving while pulling and pushing blocks through the elastic bands of this cube. The six blocks have their own color, texture and shape.

 


Indestructibles Basic Word Book Set from Workman Publishing

$35   BUY NOW

These books won't fall apart even if your child chews, tears or crumples them. This set features six books with topics and images young kids will love--babies, animals, food and vehicles.

 


The Babbler Play Kit from Lovevery

$120   BUY NOW

Prepare for year one with this high-quality play kit full of educational toys that introduce your toddler to cause and effect, spatial relationships, rotation and time with a ball run, stacker, puzzle, coin bank and more.

 


Stripe 2-Fer Set from Rockets of Awesome

$22.50   BUY NOW

With the brand's new baby collection, for kids 0-24 months, littles can dress as boldly and fun as big kids. We love this legging-skirt combo that pairs comfort with flair.

 


Starting Solids Set from Ahimsa

$44   BUY NOW

This stainless-steel three-piece mealtime set comes with an 8-ounce bowl, 4-ounce cup and starter spoon and is available in rainbow, iridescent blue or classic silver. Food-grade stainless steel is dishwasher-safe and won't peel or break if—I mean when—your child knocks it off the high chair.

 


4 Ways to Play Walker Ford Mustang from Bright Starts

$90   BUY NOW

Younger kids can bounce and cruise in this sports car, or remove the chassis for more room to move around. Walkers can push the car to cruise around with, and kids of any age can play with the removable steering wheel that lights up and plays Mustang sounds.


Penguin Musical Wobbler from Hape

$13   BUY NOW

This cute penguin makes music as babies move it. Give it a push to hear tinkling sounds and see its funny wobble.

 


Roll, Pop & Zoom Friends Gift Set from Fisher-Price

$27   BUY NOW

Transformers for the baby crowd! Zoom these vehicles around the floor or pop out the bottom of each to reveal a roly-poly animal that kids can roll and grasp.

 


Lots of Links from Bright Starts

$6   BUY NOW

To adults, this looks like a bunch of plastic links. But babies see colors, textures, noisemakers and fun things to chew on. Attach these to your car seat, stroller or high chair for baby fun on-the-go.

 


Little Cup from Lalo

$12.50   BUY NOW

Little hands learn to grip the handles to guide the straw or spout to their mouths. Older babies can ditch the lid and sip from the open cup. Made with soft silicone, this training cup is soft on gums and comfortable to use during teething.

 


Rainbow Stacking Teether Toy from Anjie + Ash

$30   BUY NOW

Baby toys can be gorgeous, not garish. This food-grade silicone rainbow is a teether, bath buddy and stacking toy so you'll get years of use out of it. It also looks nice on a bookshelf so you won't mind having it out.

 


Go Gaga! 3-in-1 Sit Play & Go Let's Make Music Entertainer & Play Table from Infantino

$70   BUY NOW

Pop your baby in this seat and you'll both be entertained. Music-themed interactive toys, electronic lights and music mean hours of fun. There are three adjustable height settings, and it converts to an activity play table for musical toddlers.

 


US State Facts Sensory Tag Crinkle Stroller Toy from the Learning Lovey

$14   BUY NOW

Share your home-state pride and engage your babe's senses with this lovey's bright colors, crackling sounds and textures. Clip to your stroller, car seat or diaper bag. Available for 20 states.

 

—Eva Ingvarson Cerise

Editor’s Note: Prices and availability reflect the time of publication. Images courtesy of retailers.

If you purchase something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.

 

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From new mom must-haves like a glider and bassinet to thoughtful ways to treasure her pregnancy and baby, these are the holiday gifts that top pregnant and new moms’ wish lists. Self-care treats, stylish (and practical!) fashion, even mom-friendly recipes; you’ll find them all here.


New Parent Wisdom Book from Impart

$50+   BUY NOW

Family and friends contribute parenting advice and supportive messages that are then bound into this beautiful keepsake books for first-time parents. Share family traditions, words of encouragement, favorite quotes and best wishes for the new parents.


Cozy-Up 2-in-1 Bedside Sleeper & Bassinet from Skip Hop

$200   BUY NOW

As a bedside sleeper, there's a door panel that lets parents lean over to nurse, provide comfort and gaze at that beautiful sleeping face. In bassinet mode, baby has a cozy sleep spot, and pivot-and-lock wheels let you move the bed between rooms.


Women’s Rib-Knit Bamboo Lounge Pant

$109   BUY NOW

You will live in these rib-knit lounge pants (with pockets!) as you nest with your baby. The fabric is viscose from bamboo, meaning it's super soft, drapes like a dream and is moisture-wicking to regulate body temperature. The line also comes in dresses, shorts, capris and tops.


Birth Boxes from Fourth Phase

$150-165   BUY NOW

Kits include a belly wrap, body butter, nipple cream, a hot and cold compress, a journal, massager, tea, postpartum panties, pads and more. The products are organic, non-toxic, cruelty-free, sustainably sourced and free from phthalates.


How to Eat with One Hand by Christine Flynn & Emma Knight

$18   BUY NOW

Recipes are grouped into cravings (hamburger, spicy noodles), freezer meals to thaw post-baby (curry chicken, turkey chili), what you can prepare while holding a baby (chia pudding, tacos), dishes your child will eat (pancakes, beans & rice), home economics (play dough, finger paint), and family-friendly basics (pizza dough, roasted applesauce).


The Short Film from Little Laughter Films

$150   BUY NOW

Turn those magical maternity or new-parent moments into a professionally edited film to share with family and treasure forever. Send in up to 75 video clips to Little Laughter Films and they will produce an edited 1- to 2-minute custom video.


Limited-Edition-Print Nursing Pillows & Carriers from Boppy

$15+   BUY NOW

If you're looking for baby gear with a specific aesthetic or you just don't want to look like every other mama, check out Boutique by Boppy for exclusive products and limited-edition prints for nursing pillows and baby carriers.


Planetary Photo Blanket & Milestone Set from Little Unicorn

$25   BUY NOW

Your Instagram photos will be out of this world with this muslin photo blanket set. Artisan illustrations and high-quality milestone cards for up to 2 years old make this set stand out from the crowd.


3-in-1 Baby Cover from Quilbie

$70   BUY NOW

Block light and reduce sounds with this water-repellent car seat cover. Use it all year round to keep out rain, light, cold, wind, UV rays, heat, bugs, germs and more. It attaches to your car seat handle and provides 100% blackout light blocking.


Mama Slogan Hooded Sweater from MORI

$64.50   BUY NOW

Cover your bump or breastfeed in this cozy, oversize hooded sweater. Snaps on the front open for nursing access, and the generous fit accommodates a growing bump. The blush pink color has the words beautiful-powerful-brave on the neckline, while the black version reads MORI mama club. Comes in S-L.


New Moms Rock gift basket from Bite Society

$295   BUY NOW

If your favorite new moms aren't the traditional type, they'll appreciate this gift basket full of practical new-mom items and decadent treats just for her. The basket includes a Born to Raise Hell onesie and matching coffee mug, which is on autofill with Bite Society's Ethiopian Coffee.


Parenting Pack R1 by Beau Industries

$125   BUY NOW

This dad-friendly backpack is a neutral black and comes with a fold-up changing pad, exterior wipes pocket, padded nine-pocket organizer and two insulated water-resistant pouches for bottles.


Lockable Storage Containers from Ally

$85   BUY NOW

Lock away your meds, valuables, favorite snacks or anything else you want to keep away from your curious kids (we won't judge). These storage containers are small enough that you can tuck them in a drawer but cute enough to display.


The Rise Necklace from Love Talla

$170   BUY NOW

What makes the Rise necklace unique is that the pendant is crafted from the fingerprint of your partner or new baby. Comes in silver, yellow gold or rose gold.


The Swivel Glider & Ottoman from Nurture&

$699   BUY NOW

This glider is super comfortable, thanks to the included lumbar pillow and the matching ottoman, sold separately. It looks sleek and has a small footprint so it works in compact spaces. Comes in gray or ivory.


Talli Baby One-Touch Tracker from Talli

$100   BUY NOW

Log feedings, diaper changes, sleep, nursing, pumping and more with this one-touch tracker. It syncs with the company's app so you can monitor baby's routine and give quick answers to the pediatrician's questions.


Deliberately Minimal Diaper Bag from Kibou

$79+   BUY NOW

Store 20+ wipes (or soiled items) in the waterproof pocket. The detachable changing pad unfolds from the exterior pocket. You'll fit a lot more than you think, and you can wear it around your waist or on your shoulder.

—Eva Ingvarson Cerise

Editor’s Note: Prices and availability reflect the time of publication. Images courtesy of retailers.

If you purchase something from the links in this article, we may earn affiliate commission or compensation.

 

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