OBGYNs say pregnant people should feel safe getting the coronavirus vaccine

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  • Two physicians said they recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for all pregnant and breastfeeding people.
  • The only exception is that people who’ve had a serious reaction to a vaccine or part of the COVID-19 vaccine should consult their doctor first.
  • If you’re “super fearful,” don’t feel forced: “There’s so many things to worry about when you’re pregnant.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

OB-GYN Dr. Jessica Shepherd cannot think of a single pregnant person whom she’d tell to not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As an OB-GYN, as a physician, as a mom, I would definitely recommend for people who are hesitant about the vaccine to strongly consider it,” she said during a March webinar with Insider discussing COVID-19 shots in pregnancy.

Fellow panelist Dr. Jessica Madden, a pediatrician and neonatologist, agreed.

While there’s not yet have clinical trial data demonstrating the vaccines’ safety and efficacy in the pregnant and breastfeeding population, increasing evidence suggests they’re not only safe, but also beneficial for moms and their children.

The alternative – potentially contracting COVID-19 while pregnant – is more dangerous than the unknown risks of the vaccine.

“I feel more and more comfortable with the information that we’re gaining in terms of being a stronger advocate and a recommender of this vaccine for both pregnant moms and for breastfeeding moms,” Madden, who serves as medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps, said.

But there are two exceptions.

First: If you’ve had a serious adverse reaction like anaphylaxis to a vaccine in the past, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this one – whether or not you’re pregnant. People who’ve had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t receive it, period.

The other exception, Madden said, is “if you’re super fearful about this vaccine, then you should never feel like you are being forced into making the decision to get the vaccine.”

“If you really are feeling like, ‘I don’t want to do this. I’m just so scared about what might come,’ then please don’t get the vaccine,” she added. “There’s so many things to worry about when you’re pregnant or have a newborn baby and breastfeeding … you don’t want to add that to the mix.”

“I’m a proponent of the vaccine,” Madden said. “Obviously, I’m not a proponent of anybody feeling like they have to get this right now.”

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20 versatile travel toys to keep toddlers entertained on long road trips

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Travel toys for toddlers: 20 versatile toys for kids

  • Travel toys for toddlers aren’t just good to have, they’re an absolute necessity.
  • To keep a toddler busy while traveling, you need engaging toys that aren’t too challenging.
  • Travel toys should also be easy to carry and difficult to lose – the fewer pieces, the better.

Travel provides a lush breeding ground for boredom, which is why every caregiver needs a reliable selection of mobile distractions when traveling with a toddler. As a parent of two young children and a specialist in early childhood development, I have been fine-tuning my stash of travel toys over many years.

A good travel toy is quiet enough that it won’t bother other people, and simple enough that you won’t lose or need to pick up a ton of pieces. It should also be something a child can safely handle on their own. Finally, you want them to work for you for as long as possible.

Here are 20 travel toys for toddlers, with age-appropriate pro tips.

Reusable stickers that are great for window seats

Melissa & Doug Play House! Reusable Sticker Pad and Reusable Sticker Pad My Town Bundle

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad, available at Amazon, $5.99

These reusable stickers are perfect for travel because they can go on and off any surface, and the pad is small enough to fit on your toddler’s lap. They’re especially good if your child is seated by a window and the scene outside provides a dynamic backdrop.

A toddler twist on an old classic

plastic links for toddlers

Bright Starts Lots of Links, available at Amazon, $4.99

As young kids, when my sister and I had to sit through temple during long High Holy Day services, my aunt always gave us and our cousins a handful of paper clips. It was so simple, but so effective. These plastic rings are basically the young toddler version. Plus, they can double as teethers, and you can incorporate different sets. 

A magazine just for them

magazine for traveling with a toddler

Highlights Hello Magazine, 1-year subscription, available at Amazon, $39.99

These practically indestructible booklets contain miniature stories, poems, and/or songs, plus a find-it game in every issue. The content is geared toward 0- to 2-year-olds, but they’re also great for when your big kid wants to practice reading or storytelling. You could also try Highlights High Five Magazine for 2- to 6-year-olds, which has excellent content but is considerably less indestructible.

Travel-themed magnets that are easy to carry

travel toys

Magnetic Fun Cars, Planes, and Trains, available at Deseret Book, $9.99 

This breaks my small pieces rule, but it gets a pass because the magnets are contained in a compact tin. Most importantly, the magnets offer many variations on a theme, and because it mirrors the toddler’s travel experience, it’s easier for them to stay engaged longer.

A stuffy that comes with distractions

buckle blu whale

Buckle Toys Blu Whale, available at Amazon, $19.99

The Buckle Blu Whale is bright, soft, lightweight, and engaging. It keeps hands busy and provides lots of number and color learning opportunities. 

A soft busy board with carry strap

montessori busy board for toddlers

Kenley The Original Toddler Busy Board, available at Amazon, $28.99

Traveling with more than one toddler? Try this wool sensory activity board. It is similarly engaging to the Buckle whale but includes more variety in the fine-motor activities and has space for at least four tiny hands. It comes with a carry strap but could also fit into a small backpack or carry-on

A busy bag they can customize

stephen joseph llama purse

Stephen Joseph Crossbody Purse, available at Amazon, $14

Encourage your toddler to make their own busy bag to bring on the go. These purses are adorable and durable. The zipper is easy for little hands to maneuver, and little kids love carrying around small domestic items (think: pretend keys). This one also breaks the few-pieces rule, but it’s perfect for car rides with a toddler since everything will remain in your car.

A travel-themed coloring roll

coloring roll mini

Mudpuppy By Air, By Land, By Sea Mini Coloring Roll, available at Barnes & Noble and Target, $6.99

These roll-up coloring sheets from Mudpuppy are each a whopping 10-feet long but still convenient for travel. Older toddlers, especially, will appreciate all the different items to color. Unroll a small bit at a time while you’re on the go and unravel to display it all at your final destination.

A mess-free paint pad and pen

water coloring book

Melissa & Doug Water Wow!, available at Amazon, $5.93

Fill the pen-brush with water and watch as your toddler intently “paints” the pages over and over again with almost no muss, and certainly no fuss. These work everywhere and are available in multiple designs as well as single or multi-packs.

A very fun activity for older toddlers

lacing cards for toddlers

The World of Eric Carle “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” Lacing Cards, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $14.08

From Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” come these 10 lacing cards, perfect for older toddlers. Not only are they a beautiful way to travel with illustrations from the classic story, but they are perfect for keeping hands busy while fine-tuning those fine motor skills

Books that distract without disturbing

crinkle books for toddler travel

Coolplay Baby’s First Non-Toxic Soft Cloth Crinkle Book, set of 8, available at Amazon, $13.99

We got these four years ago when my daughter was an infant, and she still enjoys them and can share the excitement with her baby brother. The books make a crinkling sound, and the set features themes such as color, number, and animal. They are small, light, and fall easily to the bottom of our backpack, making them the perfect clutch surprise when we’ve run through the rest of our options.

Durable headphones for toddlers

kids headphones

LilGadgets Connect+ Wired Headphones, available at Amazon and Walmart, $16.95

Plugging your kid in for the trip? LilGadgets Headphones are light and flexible but can handle a little rough play. The cord is encased in nylon, and the audio volume maxes out at 93 db, which is safe for limited use. Perhaps the most attractive quality of these headphones is that they have a port on each side, so you can link more than one pair together to watch and listen on a shared device.

Sensory sticks to settle tiny hands

sensory toys

Bunmo Stretchy Things, 6-pack, available at Amazon, $9.49

These discreet sensory sticks are designed for restless hands. My kids love using one or more of them at a time, and I also appreciate the stress relief they can provide. Even better, they are designed with neuroatypical people in mind, so if your child has autism, ADD, or ADHD and benefits from sensory stimulation, give these a try. 

Familiar travel buddies

sesame street figures

“Sesame Street” Playskool Collector Figures, 5-pack, available at Amazon, from $9.84

It feels almost foolish to try to pitch the benefits of keeping a “Sesame Street” character or two in your travel bag, so my only advice is this: occasionally rotate the characters.

Letters and words, delightfully bound

flash cards for toddlers

Mudpuppy Alphabet My ABCs Ring Flash Cards, available at Amazon, $12.99 

R is for ring! I like playing cards as a toy in general, and these have the added benefit of being attached to a ring for easy use while traveling. These flash cards are brightly designed, and toddlers of all ages can engage with the illustrated animals, letters, and words.

Easy-to-hold sketch pads

up up mini notebooks

Up & Up Spiral Memo Pads, 3-pack, available at Target, $2.19

I cannot recommend mini notebooks enough if your child can be even marginally entrusted with crayons or pens. They can be used for scribbling, tracing, learning, taking pretend food orders, and so on. Suggest prompts that align with your current travel and watch their imaginations take off. Pro tip: Carry one in each bag you’re traveling with. They’ll all get used.

A long-lasting memory game

memory game for traveling with a toddler

Melissa & Doug Flip-to-Win Memory Game, available at Amazon and Target, $9.99

Great for older toddlers, this memory game comes with 14 themes for repeated rounds of play. The cards slide into the back, and most importantly, the memory pieces aren’t detachable.

Slow and steady wins the ride

magnatab travel toy

Kid O Free Play Magnatab, available at Amazon, $20.61

The Magnatab’s strength as a travel toy is how slow it is. Creating on it requires deliberate action and occasionally correcting errors. It also works surprisingly well as a group toy because each child’s level of concentration is practically contagious — I once watched four pre-kindergarteners patiently take turns.

A 2-in-1 learning toy

mickey mouse board book for car rides

Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Learning Board Book, available at Amazo, $8.99

Older and younger toddlers alike will appreciate this two-in-one toy. At top, there is an erasable drawing pad with a conveniently attached pen. On the bottom is a board book with simple corresponding games.

A classic set for pretend play

battat play phone keys

Battat Cell Phone and Key Toy Set, available at Amazon, $14.94

Pretend phones are an old standby in my house, and this combo set has the added bonus of pretend keys so you don’t accidentally lose yours. They are chunky but light — great for tiny hands — and make just enough sounds to keep toddlers interested without bugging your seat neighbor with aggressive songs. Throw them in your purse, or theirs!

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Fertility experts debunk 19 myths about getting pregnant and fertility

Duke: “Sex position matters.”

Eleswarapu: So, that is a myth.

“IVF guarantees pregnancy.”

Duke: Oh, boy. It’s a tough myth for patients to hear.

Eleswarapu: “Eating pineapple can increase fertility.”

Duke: Oh, that’s a good one. Pineapple by itself, if you have infertility, is unlikely to reverse your infertility.

I’m Dr. Cindy. I am a fertility specialist based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hello,

Eleswarapu: I’m Dr. Sriram Eleswarapu, and I’m a urologist at UCLA. And today we’ll be debunking myths about infertility.

Duke: “Tight underwear is bad for sperm count.”

Eleswarapu: So, there’ve been a number of studies looking at this issue for many decades, and the inevitable question is boxers versus briefs. In truth, it doesn’t matter a whole lot, and we know that if the testicles are a little bit warmer that they are more at risk of having sperm-count issues or sperm-motility issues, but, in general, it shouldn’t matter too much. Just pick what’s comfortable.

Duke: “Sex position matters.”

Eleswarapu: So, that is a myth. No matter what position you engage in, if you ejaculate, you have the sufficient propulsion of the semen to make it up to the cervix, any way you do it.

Duke: People around the world have actually studied it, and no one position has been proven to be better than another.

Eleswarapu: “IVF guarantees pregnancy.”

Duke: Oh, boy. Yes, that is definitely a myth. And it’s a tough myth for patients to hear. IVF does present the highest chances of pregnancy, absolutely. There are a number of factors that play into IVF success. One of them has to do with the age of the eggs being used. It also has to do with the quality of the sperm and the egg when they come together. It has to do with the embryo that is ultimately formed. It also has to do with the genetics of the embryo. But then, on top of that, it has to do with the womb in which the embryo will be placed, and a number of factors are not yet fully known. So, we know the immune system plays a role. Diet, exercise probably play a role, but we’re still investigating that. Biggest thing to know is it’s not 100%.

Eleswarapu: “Stress causes miscarriages.”

I think we’re starting to get away from the term “miscarriages.” We’re starting to use the term “early pregnancy loss.” Is that right?

Duke: That’s correct. And I think it’s because “miscarriage” also comes with certain connotations where blame is also ascribed, and the truth is, both early pregnancy losses, there’s nothing the individual could have done about it at all. So now we call it early pregnancy loss before the end of the first trimester, versus second- and third-trimester pregnancy loss. We do not believe stress causes loss. Many people around the world across millennia have gotten pregnant and remain pregnant despite tremendous stress. So we know it’s not simply stress. Nowadays, though, we know the No. 1 reason for pregnancy loss is chromosomal differences in the formed embryo. And so that’s called aneuploidy. 67% of first-trimester pregnancy losses are due to chromosomal issues within the embryo itself. Other reasons would be if the thyroid was not functioning well, if vitamin D is low, if there’s a fibroid in the uterus. If you have a uterus and you’ve had two or more pregnancy losses, you should be evaluated. We always expected that it would be the individual with the womb and the eggs to be the one that gets evaluated for a pregnancy loss. Now the tide is shifting, and individuals who contribute the sperm are also being evaluated when there’s a pregnancy loss in the couple. There’s emerging data that things like DNA fragmentation, where the DNA that are normally supposed to be very tightly wrapped up in the sperm are somehow unraveled and might have little breaks in the DNA strands, and those breaks can contribute to the pregnancy loss.

“Freezing your eggs guarantees that you can have kids later.”

Myth. And the myth is in the word “guaranteed.” If you freeze your eggs, you can stop the clock. And so you’re basically freezing the youngest version of yourself at that point. However, there’s no guarantee that eggs even when frozen will thaw and yield a live-born baby. So it’s really a conversation that needs to happen with your specialist based on your age, based on your egg number.

“Sperm quality doesn’t decline with age.”

Eleswarapu: There’s a lot of data now that is showing that individuals with sperm that is older, say in the fifth, sixth, seventh decades of life and beyond, is more at risk of forming embryos that have chromosomal abnormalities. Getting exercise, eating well are things that can improve the general biology of an individual. Certainly if it’s good for the heart and it’s good for the brain, then it’s probably good for the penis and the scrotum and the testicles as well. We talked about egg freezing, but sperm freezing has its role particularly for individuals who may not be in a relationship or may not be thinking of a family at this time but later on down the road they might want to produce a family.

“It’s impossible to get pregnant after 35.”

Duke: It is possible to get pregnant after 35. The truth is, though, that the chance of pregnancy progressively declines as the age of the egg increases. And so you might find greater and greater need for fertility treatments. When you’re born, if you’re someone born with ovaries, you’d have somewhere between 1 million to 2 million eggs in those ovaries, usually. By age 30, 70% of those eggs are gone, and by age 40, 97% of those eggs are gone. At the same time, those eggs are also aging. And so what we see is that the chance of pregnancy declines very quickly, and then for some people it declines even faster. So if you have endometriosis, if you’re someone who’s maybe had surgeries of the ovaries or needed to be on medications, chemotherapy, radiation, all of those things can also further the decline in the egg number. So my recommendation is, if you have ovaries, at age 30, you should at least be asking your doctor to do a check of your egg number, or what’s called your ovarian reserve.

“The best way to get pregnant is to have sex every day.”

Eleswarapu: It comes down to the ovulatory cycles and making sure that you’re sort of timing things and tracking things, particularly if you’re trying to conceive deliberately. We always get this question, and I want to know what your thoughts are. Should the couple be trying to conceive every other day during ovulation, or every day during ovulation? I say every other day. One, we need to give the sperm and semen enough time to sort of reaccumulate so we can get those millions of sperm. The other is sperm actually survive in the female genital tract for up to five days. So once the egg is released from the ovary, think of the fallopian tube as an arm with a catcher’s mitt at the end. The catcher’s mitt captures the egg, pulls it into the arm, and then the egg sits around there for 12 to 20 hours waiting for sperm. And then if you have intercourse anywhere within the next 24 hours, sperm will also get to the egg. So that’s why we say every other day around ovulation. There is this movement now, particularly on the internet, discussing what’s called abstinence from pornography, masturbation, and orgasm, or PMO. It’s also a movement called no NoFap. And those individuals say to have the best reserve of sperm or the best sort of power with erections or orgasm, that they should conserve for days, weeks, months at a time. This stuff is not scientific at all. And, in fact, after a week of storing up, the sperm may not necessarily be healthy.

“Eating pineapple can increase fertility.”

Duke: That’s a good one. Pineapple by itself, if you have infertility, is unlikely to reverse your infertility. We know that pineapples have bromelain inside of them, which is a compound that is known to be a blood thinner to a certain degree, but it’s very, very weak, and you’d have to eat so much pineapple to even have enough bromelain to have a little effect. You should be having a meal balancing protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. So getting your usual multivitamins and folate into your diet, because folate is really important for once you’re pregnant. But technically, no, pineapple by itself does not boost fertility. Infertility, while a daunting thought, really there are lots of options available. The first step is actually an evaluation. Fertility and infertility constitute this huge spectrum, and there are many, many ways to get pregnant and many things one can do to help facilitate that. And you don’t have to stay at home feeling embarrassed about it. If you talk to a specialist like myself, like Dr. Eleswarapu, we are experienced with this and know how to treat you or direct you to the right person who can help.

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The best baby-safe laundry detergent you can buy

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  • When a new baby arrives it changes everything, even laundry. What detergent should you be using to protect your precious new arrival?
  • Of all the detergents out there, none is better for babies than All’s free clear liquid detergent.
  • It protects your baby’s sensitive skin and delivers the cleaning power needed for the whole family’s laundry at an affordable price.

Bringing a new baby home is both an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time. The little one is relying on you for everything including clean clothes and bedding that will not irritate delicate skin.

According to Cleveland Clinic pediatric dermatologist Joan Tamburro, DO; “A child who has skin problems may be more prone to laundry detergent reactions. A family history of atopic dermatitis (eczema) also may put your infant at higher risk.”

As a laundry and housekeeping professional, I’ve been testing products for companies, agencies, and publications for many years. So with the birth of my first grandchild, I was delighted to be able to lessen one anxiety by recommending the best laundry detergent for both the baby and his parents.

The main culprits in commercial laundry detergent that causes skin irritation and allergic reactions are dye and fragrance. By choosing a product that is dye and scent-free, the detergent can be used for not only baby’s clothes but all household laundry.

Here are the best baby laundry detergents:

The best baby laundry detergent overall

all free clear detergent

If you are looking for a reasonably-priced, effective laundry detergent that is safe for your baby’s delicate skin and can be used for the rest of the family’s laundry, All’s free clear liquid detergent is your best bet.

What we like:  Performs well for both baby and family laundry, mid-priced, readily available in mass-market stores and online, free of dyes and perfumes

As I was testing and selecting a laundry detergent for our precious new one, I took into consideration the product’s ingredients, cleaning ability, cost per load, and ease of use. As a new parent, the last thing you need is a product that makes the laundry routine any more complicated.

The final verdict after testing more than 10 products was that All free clear liquid will give a baby the protection he needs from irritation, remove all but the worst stains, not break the budget, and can be used to wash clothes for the entire family. It is also the most highly recommended detergent brand for sensitive skin by dermatologists, allergists, and pediatricians. 

It seems others agree with me as well. On Walgreens, all free clear has a rating of 4.8 out of five stars. One reader states, “I’m so sensitive, allergic to everything! This is the only detergent that I can use that doesn’t cause a reaction. Even other “Free” products cause me to react.”

All free clear comes in liquid, powder, and single dose packs. I would recommend the liquid formula, costing about 20 cents per load, because it can also be used to pretreat stains. Just work in a tiny amount of the liquid into the stained area with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush and wait about 15 minutes before washing.

The best baby laundry detergent for the environment

Seventh Generation laundry detergent

Environmentally-friendly Seventh Generation Baby Concentrated Laundry Detergent also protects your baby’s sensitive skin from harsh chemicals.

What we like: Plant and mineral-based ingredients are environmentally-friendly, detergent works well on baby stains and can be used for laundry for the entire family

Protecting a new baby is always a top priority, but we should never forget that protecting the Earth is also important. After all, our actions today will affect the world that a child faces in the future.

Seventh Generation products adhere to that philosophy and use only plant or mineral-based ingredients. Seventh Generation Baby Laundry Detergent received a 97% rating as a USDA Certified Biobased Product and is never tested on animals.

One member of the What to Expect community, Lakewood Chick, says “We use Seventh Generation Free & Clear for everyone’s clothes, not just baby. I think it works great and it makes me feel much better knowing harmful chemicals aren’t in it.”

After giving it a try on our baby’s laundry, I was delighted with the results. The plant-based enzymes removed tough formula and diaper stains with ease. Over on Amazon, 61% of buyers rated it as a five-star product. The cost at around  25 cents per load is higher but the results are worth it.

The best baby laundry detergent for tough stains

babyganics detergent

Just as babies grow bigger, so do their stains. Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent contains the enzymes you need to treat those stains.

What we like: Contains enzymes to tackle tough stains, available in unscented and scented formulas, concentrated formula with an easy-to-handle bottle

Newborns need to be swaddled with soft, irritant-free fabrics from the moment they are born. Fortunately, other than some diaper accidents, they don’t create too many difficult stains. But as they age and are introduced to commercial formulas that contain iron and then those first solid foods, the stains can be a challenge especially if they sit around for several days before being washed.

That’s why I was so pleased to discover that Babyganics contains the enzymes protease to break down protein stains (diaper stains) and amylase to tackle starches and carbohydrates stains. What also makes Babyganics a good choice is that the formula is plant and mineral-based and carries the USDA Certified Biobased label.

Babyganics Baby Laundry Detergent has a five-star rating by 61% of buyers on Amazon. One reviewer is particularly pleased with the 3X concentration since “you don’t have to buy it as often as others compared to its size nor need to hold up a bulky container every time you have to do the laundry (pretty important for tired moms).”

Developed to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers at a cost of around 23 cents per load, I use Babyganics liquid detergent as a stain pre-treater before tossing those dirty bibs into the washer. If you like a bit of scent, it also comes in a lavender scent created with natural essential oils.

The best baby laundry detergent for diapers

Rockin Green detergent

Cloth diapers present a laundry challenge to new parents, but Rockin’ Green Classic Rock Natural Laundry Detergent can make it all easier.

What we like: Mineral-based and contains no petroleum-based products, produced in the United States, removes diaper stains and odor

Every parent must make the decision on whether to use cloth or disposable diapers with each having its own merits. If cloth diapers are the final choice, learning how to clean and disinfect them properly is a must. Even if you use a diaper service, there will be times when you need to wash a load of diapers at home.

Rockin’ Green is a small company based in Texas that tackles the challenge of diaper laundry with a mineral-based powdered detergent that removes tough stains but leaves the fabric feeling soft to the touch. Free of dyes and perfumes, the company also offers a Hard Rock formula if you live in an area with hard water that can leave fabrics stiff and scratchy.

On What to Expect, one community member, Smallsteps, reports that ” I no longer have to add tons of other stuff to get my diapers clean and stink free!”

Some 70% of buyers on Amazon give the product a five-star rating. I found that if you follow the proper routine of rinsing and pre-soaking soiled diapers and wash them regularly, for less than 20 cents per load your little one will have clean, odor-free diapers every day.

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13 things mentally strong kids do – and how working parents can teach these skills at home

working from home virtual learning

The number one comment I hear from readers of my adult books on mental strength is, “I wish I would have learned these things sooner.” So I decided to write a mental strength book for kids.

And while my adult books focus on what not to do, the kids’ book focuses on what to do. If kids learn these skills now, they won’t grow up to develop the unhealthy habits that rob adults of mental strength.

So here are the 13 things strong kids do and the exercises that can teach them to think big, feel good, and act brave.

1. They stop feeling sorry for themselves

It’s healthy for kids to feel sad. But what’s not healthy is allowing that sadness to turn into self-pity. When kids feel sorry for themselves, they insist their problems are too big to address and they become helpless and hopeless.

Exercise: Work with your child to create a list of activities they enjoy doing when they feel happy, like playing games or singing. Those are their “mood boosters.” When they start to feel sorry for themselves, encourage them to pick an activity from their mood boosters list to help them feel better.

2. They empower themselves

Whether kids are experiencing friendship drama or they’re struggling with homework they don’t understand, it’s essential for them to take responsibility for their choices.

Exercise: When your child blames other people for making them angry or ruining their day, point out how to change their language. Empower them to take responsibility by saying, “I’m angry,” rather than, “You make me mad.”

3. They adapt to change

From moving onto a new grade to trying a different sport, change is tough. Kids need confidence that they can adapt to those changes.

Exercise: Help your child label their feelings. Simply putting a name to an emotion – like sadness or anxiety – can take a lot of the sting out of them.

4. They focus on things they have control over

Kids can easily get caught up in worrying about things they have no control over – like who their teacher will be next year or whether their team will win the championship game. But worrying about things they can’t control drains them of the mental strength they need to be their best.

Exercise: When your child worries about something beyond their control, help them change the channel in their brain. Putting together a puzzle, coloring a picture, or playing a game can distract their brains and help them get refocused on things they can control.

5. They know when to say no

While you might think your kids say no to too often already – like when given opportunities to earn money or spend time with the family – it’s important for them to be able to say no to unhealthy things that come their way.

Exercise: Teach your child how to set boundaries by saying no to things they don’t want in their lives. Whether they decline a favor for a friend or they say no to someone who asks them to cheat, teach them to show self-respect by delivering a direct no.

6. They take calculated risks

While a child might be quick to take a physical risk (like a bike stunt), they might be slow to take a social risk (like making a new friend). It’s important for them to learn to assess risk and face healthy fears.

Exercise: Teach kids that their brain’s anxiety alarm is likely a bit faulty – everyone’s is. So while their brains and their bodies might react to giving a speech as if it’s a life or death situation, assure them that it’s OK to face healthy fears – even when their anxiety alarm bells are ringing.

7. They create their future

Kids won’t ever reach their greatest potential if they’re completely passive about their lives or overly critical of themselves. It’s important for them to get interested – and excited – about the type of future they can create for themselves.

Exercise: When your child says something like, “I’ll never be good at math,” ask them what they’d say to a friend who said that about themselves. They’d likely offer some kind words. Teach them to talk to themselves the same way they’d talk to a good friend.

8. They own their mistakes

It’s tempting for kids to hide their mistakes. After all, they don’t want to get in trouble. But they can’t learn from their mistakes unless they own up to them.

Exercise: When your kids make a mistake, help them set themselves up for success next time. If they forget to bring their homework to school, encourage them to start packing their bag the night before. Or, if they forget to do their chores, create a chart to remind them what to do.

9. They celebrate other people’s success

Feeling jealous and resentful of kids who get better grades or score more points in the games will only hold your child back in life. On the other hand, learning how to celebrate other people’s success will serve them well.

Exercise: Teach your child to “act like the person they want to become.” That doesn’t mean acting fake; instead, it’s about encouraging your child to act the way they want to feel. Acting confident leads to feelings of confidence.

10. They fail and try again

Kids who fear failure avoid new things or give up as soon as they experience a setback. They need to know that although failing feels bad, it can also be an important stepping stone to success.

Exercise: Talk about famous failures. When kids learn that successful scientists, inventors, and artists failed many times before succeeding, they see how to learn from failure.

11. They balance social time with alone time

It’s important for kids to feel comfortable socializing with others as well as to be able to do activities independently. Healthy independence helps kids feel more comfortable in their own skin.

Exercise: Encourage your child to do something fun all by themselves. With practice and support, they can learn that alone time doesn’t have to be boring and lonely.

12. They are thankful for what they have

Entitled kids grow up to be narcissistic adults. Grateful kids, however, grow up to become appreciative, happy adults.

Exercise: When your child receives a gift, talk about what it’s like for them to know that someone spent time picking that give out for them. Your conversation can help your child experience gratitude about the people who care about them – not just the material possessions they receive.

13. They persist

When faced with obstacles, kids are often quick to abandon their goals. Persistence, however, is the key to true success.

Exercise: Have your child write an encouraging, kind letter to themselves. Their letter might remind them why they should keep going when they’re struggling. When they’re tempted to quit, encourage them to read that letter to themselves. Hearing their own words cheer them can give them the strength they need to push through tough times.

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Pregnant women are protected by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – and pass high levels of disease-fighting antibodies on to their babies, study finds

pregnant pregnancy expecting mother womb child parenting diet exercise workout fitness junk sleep sex covid medical doctor motherhood birthing maternal belly depression work stress illness 234
  • Researchers studied 131 women who received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The pregnant or lactating women had as strong an immune response as the nonpregnant women.
  • Their babies developed high levels of disease-fighting antibodies.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna are effective in pregnant women, bolstering their immune response to the disease and even passing protective antibodies to their babies, according to a new preprint study.

The study, published Thursday in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked at 131 women who received one of the two vaccines between December and March, of whom 84 were pregnant and 31 were lactating.

Researchers, from centers including Harvard, MIT, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found pregnant and lactating women had as strong an immune response to the vaccines as the 16 women who were not pregnant or lactating.

What’s more, they found the vaccines were much better than exposure to the coronavirus at giving babies secondary antibodies. Testing umbilical cord blood and the placenta, they found babies born to women who received the vaccine had “strikingly higher” levels of COVID-fighting antibodies than babies born to women who previously had COVID-19, the researchers wrote.

The research supports vaccinating pregnant women

The research adds to a growing body of research that indicates getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a good idea for pregnant women. In March, the CDC said there were no adverse results in its study on 30,000 vaccinated pregnant women across the US.

Pregnant people were not included in the clinical trials studying any of the COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, when US regulators authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine in early December (by Pfizer BioNTech), health officials said it was a decision for pregnant women to make with their doctor.

As research mounts, that decision-making process is getting easier for pregnant people and OBGYNs, Dr. Andrea Edlow, a maternal-fetal medicine expert at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who co-authored the study, told NBC.

“This study is one piece of the puzzle that’s essential to try to give pregnant and lactating women evidence-based counseling around the vaccine,” Edlow said.

What we know about the Pfizer and Moderna shots in pregnancy

Studies are underway, both in clinical trial settings and real-world settings, as more and more pregnant people choose to get the shot.

Pending that data, the CDC notes that studies in pregnant animals found no safety issues tied to receiving mRNA vaccines – i.e. the vaccine technology used in both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 shots.

There has been plenty of misinformation spread about mRNA vaccines, which uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to train the body to recognize the virus and mount an immune response.

Anti-vaccine activists like Robert F Kennedy, Jr. have promoted a myth that the vaccine interferes with DNA – a physiological impossibility since the vaccines do not enter your genetic material.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologies (ACOG) issued an advisory to pregnant and lactating people debunking this myth: “These vaccines do not enter the nucleus and do not alter human DNA in vaccine recipients. As a result, mRNA vaccines cannot cause any genetic changes.”

Vaccines seem to protect babies, too

A small peer-reviewed study in January found that pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19 passed antibodies onto their unborn babies.

In February, researchers said a baby born to a woman who had only received one of the two Moderna shots tested positive for protective antibodies.

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My daughter loves playing with these toy kits that encourage brain development in babies and toddlers

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Lovevery play kits review: best subscription for childrens' toys
Starting at $36 a month, Lovevery’s curated play kits for babies and toddlers help foster child development in fun ways.

  • Lovevery offers curated play kits with age-appropriate toys sorted into 2-to-3-month age groups.
  • The toy are designed by early childhood development experts to entertain and support a child’s learning.
  • You can subscribe to a plan or buy kits separately; subscriptions start at $36 a month and solo kits start at $80.

Finding the best toys for babies and toddlers can be a serious challenge. My wife and I wanted to make sure our daughter had great toys that would make playtime both fun and meaningful in terms of cognitive and motor development. In the past year, we found that trusting toy curation to the team of experts Lovevery works out quite well.

The experts at Lovevery come from the fields of psychology, development, occupational therapy, and education. When these folks set out to create a company that produces toy and activity kits that would help foster brain development, they went all in. But calling Lovevery a toy company would be like calling a forest a place with trees. Yes, there are trees, but there’s so much more going on among them.

What are Lovevery play kits?

Scarlett with Lovevery play kits
That’s my daughter Scarlett playing with the Slide and Sleek Ball Run toy from the Babbler Play Kit.

Lovevery play kits are broken out into six kits (or subscriptions, if you choose a plan) intended to be swapped out every two months for babies, and into four kits intended to be swapped every three months for the brand-new toddler kits. Each kit contains carefully selected items that will engage, entertain, and enlighten children.

Each kit contains items that are developmentally appropriate for kids of the respective age. But kids don’t simply move on from the earlier toys when they outgrow the kit’s intended age group. Instead, the way a child engages with the toys evolves as their abilities and interests expand.

There’s the Looker Play Kit intended for newborns and babies through the first eight weeks of life. It contains things like a soft silicone rattle, cards with simple high-contrast images, and mittens with geometric patterns. Most of the objects in the Looker kit use only bold black and white colors because that’s what a newborn’s eyes can see. The toys are also designed for use by a little human who’s not yet using their hands with any sense of control or is just rolling over and still acting largely by instinct.

As for the instincts that make them put toys into their mouths – each item included in these kits is made with nontoxic water-based paints or dyes, organic fabric, sustainably sourced wood, and other safe, eco-friendly materials.

For older children who are between 11 and 12 months, the Thinker Play Kit contains a colorful doll, weighted balls, books with full-color images, and multiple toys that require manipulation and basic dexterity.

What they’re like to use

My daughter Scarlett still loves many of the toys she has played with for a year, and now she carries them around while walking and talking instead of kicking at them as she lies on her back on a play mat. The lasting power of these toys makes the $40 monthly expense seem quite affordable.

As kids enter their first full year, their development continues rapidly, but each child will hit milestones at different times, so the toddler kits are spread over three months instead of six, with four kits making up the whole year.

Scarlett with a Lovevery play
Here’s Scarlett playing with the Circle of Friends Puzzle from the same Babbler Play Kit.

The toddler kits are larger and include more items in each box, allowing caregivers to consider which toys to introduce over each three-month period to meet the abilities of a growing child and coax out their best efforts at problem-solving and critical thinking. This might be hard to believe, but don’t worry, the kids will have fun in the process – they’ll just form some new neural pathways while doing it.

What makes Lovevery stand out

While the kits are great, the play guide that comes with each kit is what truly sets Lovevery apart. The guides, which include full-color images, are broken down into easily digested sections that explain when and how each toy or item should be introduced. They also advise on how an adult can help a child engage with the item.

Going beyond the toys themselves, these guides also explain what’s going on with your child (“Learning to control his arms and legs” or “Recognizes people who take care of him,” for example), what each toy is designed to help with (like sensory exploration or making connections), and even what you as a parent are likely experiencing at each stage. The guides even offer ideas for other activities beyond using the toys themselves.

The bottom line

Now, I’m not a doctor so I definitely suggest talking to yours before incorporating these toys into playtime. In my experience though, Lovevery makes wonderful toys and well-curated kits that my daughter loves playing with. But to my wife and me, they’re more than that. They’re developmental tools that greatly benefit the child and caregiver who’s also engaged in a learning process.

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Moderna begins testing its COVID-19 vaccine in babies and young children

Moderna vaccine
Biotechnology company Moderna protocol files for COVID-19 vaccinations are kept at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on August 13, 2020.

  • Moderna has begun testing its COVID-19 vaccine in children between 6 months and 12 years old.
  • Moderna plans to enroll 6,750 participants in the US and Canada for the trial.
  • Getting children vaccinated is crucial to reaching herd immunity, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Moderna has begun testing its COVID-19 vaccine in young children.

The biotech firm announced Tuesday the first participants in a study of children between 6 months and 12 years old received a doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna collaborated with the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority on the study.

Moderna plans to enroll 6,750 participants in the US and Canada for the trial, called the KidCOVE study. Researchers will evaluate the safety of the two-dose vaccine given 28 days apart.

The US has not approved a COVID-19 vaccine for people under 16 years old. Researchers prioritized adults in initial vaccine trials, as severe COVID-19 illness in children is rare.

Read more: A new kind of healthcare startup wants health insurers to pay for meal kits and groceries for food insecure seniors

According to Cleveland Clinic, clinical trials in children differ from adults due to the increased layers of protection – both parents and children must agree to participate. Immune systems also vary depending on the age of the child, which result in more complex trials relative to adult studies.

“We are encouraged by the primary analysis of the Phase 3 COVE study of mRNA-1273 in adults ages 18 and above and this pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a release.

The US, which is averaging roughly 2 million administered doses per day, has sped up the vaccine rollout over the last month. About 27.5% of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the CDC, and the vast majority are showing up for second shots. President Joe Biden has promised to make every adult eligible for a vaccine by May 1.

But getting children vaccinated is crucial to reaching herd immunity, Dr. Anthony Fauci told ProPublica. Fauci expects children to start getting COVID-19 vaccines by the time school starts in September.

“I would think by the time we get to school opening, we likely will be able to get people who come into the first grade,” Fauci said.

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31 thoughtful and useful gifts for new dads

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gifts for new dad
  • New dads need a little help to get through that wonderful but sleep-deprived first year with a baby.
  • Thoughtful, useful gifts from friends and family can really give new dads a boost.
  • These 31 gifts will help a new dad take care of the baby, help around the house, and relax like a pro when time allows.
  • Check out all of our gift guides to shop for everyone on your list.

Having a new baby is an exciting time, but new dads definitely need some help adjusting. That’s where friends and family can help out with practical and unique gifts that a new dad will appreciate and put to good use.

These 31 gift suggestions will be a hit with any new dad. This list includes a range of items that will make playtime with baby more fun, help dad sleep a little better, be handy around the house, and hold onto the special moments that only happen during this magic time in a child and parent’s relationship.

Here are 31 memorable and useful gifts for new dads:

Stroller phone mount

skip hop universal phone mount

Gift the Skip Hop Stroll and Connect Universal Phone Holder, for $14.99

Made with tough plastic and rubber grips, the Stroll and Connect mounts easily to a stroller or shopping cart and won’t fall off in crowded aisles or on bumpy terrain. It lets a parent keep their hands-free in case they need to use the phone on the go.

One tool for almost every job

leatherman wingman tool

Gift the Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool, for $59.95

There’s something about being a dad that really brings out their inner handyman. The Leatherman Wingman is loaded with 14 tools, including a knife, screwdrivers, bottle openers, and even a 1-inch ruler, so they can fix just about anything and pop open a cold one when they’re done.

A cold brew maker

Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker, One Quart, Black

Gift the Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, $24.99

Dad will love a cup of cold brew coffee, with less acidity and a smoother taste, when he needs a pick-me-up after sneaking in an afternoon nap. The Takeya Deluxe makes up to 1 quart of concentrate. Plus, it’s easy to use and an incredible value. 

Comfortable underwear

saxx quest underwear

Saxx Quest boxer briefs, from $32

The right underwear makes everything go so much smoother. The lightweight material is soft and breathable, and the patented BallPark Pouch keeps everything in place, whether he’s getting up for an early morning feeding or pushing a stroller around the park on a hot summer day.

Single-origin coffee beans

COLECTIVO Sumatra Highlands Hero

Gift the Colectivo Coffee—Sumatra, from $14.25

If he’s a coffee fanatic, he’ll love a bag of single-origin beans. Grown in the volcanic soil in the rugged mountains of the Indonesian island Sumatra, this rich, complex blend has notes of molasses and pineapple. And for those mornings where there’s no time to hassle with a French press, don’t overlook instant coffees, which have caught up in quality to the whole bean version.

A smart baby monitor

miku smart baby monitor

Gift the Miku Smart Baby Monitor, available at Miku, $399

The Miku does it all — it tracks baby’s sleep and breathing, sends awake and sleep alerts directly to a smartphone, offers video and audio monitoring, and plays white noise, lullabies, and more. He’ll appreciate its easy setup and the fact that there’s no wearable required. Even more, the app offers a range of analytics to troubleshoot sleep problems. The Miku is HSA/FSA approved, so you can purchase it with your HSA/FSA card at mikucare.com or submit your receipt to your plan administrator for reimbursement.

*Sponsored by Miku

A diaper backpack

Bag Nation Diaper Bag Backpack

Gift the Bag Nation Backpack Diaper Bag, $59.95

Made with the same look of a commuter bag, this 14-pocket backpack is durable and carries all the essentials, from diapers to bottles and everything in between. There’s even a foldout changing pad.

A new set of sheets for him and baby

new dad fathers day gifts 3

Gift the Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set, from $110

Gift the Brooklinen Crib Sheet Set, from $52

Sleep, when it does happen for both dad and baby, is so much better on a set of soft sheets that make them feel like they’re sleeping on a cloud. These are great for delicate skin and hot sleepers, too, and they come in a variety of colors and prints.

A comfortable pillow

Coop Home Goods body pillow

Gift the Coop Home Goods Original Pillow, $59.99

A comfy pillow might be the most important ingredient for a restful night. The adjustable fill on the Coop pillow means it works for every kind of sleeper, and a 100-night trial means he’s not stuck with it, if he doesn’t like it.

A quick hang

metolius project board

Gift the Metolius Project Board, from $64.95

With a variety of holds, from jugs to crimps to pockets, the Metolius Project Board is great for releasing tension with a quick upper body workout. It can go just about anywhere inside or outside, and the fine texture is easy on the skin.

A funny book about fatherhood

Man vs. Baby  The Chaos and Comedy of Real Life Parenting

Gift “Man vs. Baby: The Chaos and Comedy of Real-Life Parenting,” $17

Nothing will fully prepare him for the chaos and confusion of being a new dad. However, Matt Coyne’s sleep-deprived take on parenting will give him a hilarious and honest reassurance that he’s doing alright, no matter how stressful it seems.

A shaving kit

Harry's

Gift the Harry’s Truman Shave Set, $15

This essential shave set includes a razor with a comfortable handle and textured rubber grip, three German-engineered blade cartridges, foaming shave gel for a rich lather, and a travel cover to protect the blades.

An Instant Pot

Instant Pot Duo 6qt 7 in 1 Pressure Cooker, $99.99

Gift the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 (6-Ot.), $79

The Instant Pot makes cooking dinner for the whole family a breeze. It makes soups, meats, yogurt, and pretty much everything else, even baby food. Easy cleanup means more time to spend with the little one too.

A meat or seafood box

crowd cow 4

Gift Crowd Cow, from $39

Give him something delicious to cook with a gift box of meat or seafood that’s sourced from independent producers that practice sustainable farming and ethical treatment of animals.

Super soft lounge pants

tommy john loungers

Gift the Tommy John Second Skin Lounge Pants, $68

He will love a pair of comfortable pants for sleeping or lounging around the house that won’t embarrass him when the in-laws show up announced. These soft, light micromodal pants from Tommy John are perfect, and they hold up nicely wash after wash.

A pair of chinos

bonobos

Gift Bonobos chinos, from $98

Unfortunately, a new dad can’t wear lounge pants all the time. But just because he’s leaving the house for a bit, doesn’t mean he’s got to sacrifice comfort. Bonobos chinos come in multiple fits and sizes, and the signature curved waistband give them an unobtrusive fit that makes them great for the office, a trip to the store, or a playdate in the park. 

A lightweight button-up for a put-together look

tie bar short sleeve shirt

Gift the Tie Bar Short-Sleeve Shirt, from $45

It’s nice for dad to feel put-together sometimes. The light, 100% cotton button-ups from Tie Bar are perfect for a rare night out or day at the office.

A shaving set

dollar shave club

Give a Dollar Shave Club Complete Shave Gift Set, $35

This set comes with a razor handle and four four-blade cartridges that make for a great shave for when dad needs to clean up a little. It also includes a gentle prep scrub, shave butter, and hydrating post-shave cream.

A durable water bottle

Hydro_flask_lifestyle

Gift the Hydro Flask Wide Mount Water Bottle, from $37.95

When life gets as hectic as it does for new fathers, it’s easy to forget to drink water. This durable insulated metal bottle keeps water cold and within arm’s reach.

A hammock

Wildhorn_hammock_Cropped

Gift the Newdora Garden Hammock, from $16.99

Stealing away for a midafternoon nap in a hammock is an incredible way for a new dad to take a break from diaper changes. The Newdora Garden Hammock is easy to set up, adjustable, and packs down small enough to take anywhere.

A play kit of curated toys

new dad fathers day gifts 7

Gift a Lovevery Play Kit Subscription, from $36/month

Make those long hours playing on the floor count with a subscription to Lovevery curated age-appropriate toy kits. Delivered every two months, each one includes guides that show how each toy helps with a child’s development. They’re also a lot of fun.

A basketball jersey for baby

nba jersey

Gift an NBA Baby Jersey, from $11.99

It’s going to be a while before baby gets into it, but it’s still a lot of fun for a new dad to watch the game with his progeny decked out in their very own jersey.

An adjustable baby carrier

Omni_Baby_carrier

Gift the Ergobaby Omni 360 All-in-One carrier, $179

Whether you’re running errands or spending a day in the park, a good baby carrier makes it so much easier. Made with 100% premium cotton, the Ergobaby Omni 360 is super soft and easily adjustable to fit waists and shoulders of all sizes. It works in multiple positions, too, front or back, face-in or face-out. 

A foam roller

TriggerPoint_foam_roller

Gift the TriggerPoint GRID foam roller, $34.95

Knots and tight muscles go hand in hand with parenting. He’ll appreciate the textured surface pattern of this foam roller to roll away the aches and pains of being a new parent.

An interactive photo journal

artifact uprising baby book

Gift the Artifact Uprising Baby Book | The Story of You, from $99

A phone full of pictures and videos is great, but he’ll want something to capture and hold onto the most special moments. This photo book, featuring a fabric cover and foil stamped title, lets him write down his memories and the details of each milestone.

A tool kit

CARTMAN Orange 39 Piece Tool Set

Gift the Cartman General Household 39-piece toolkit, $20.99

There’s just something about being a dad that turns everyone into an overnight handy man. This tool kit includes all the basics he’ll need for assembling or repairing all that new gear in the nursery and beyond.

A soft cooler

Clevermade_cooler

Gift the CleverMade SnapBasket Soft-Sided Cooler tote, $39.95

Dad is going to need a good cooler for bringing food home from the store or packing up milk and baby food for a road trip to see the grandparents. This one has a 50-can capacity, but it still folds up small enough to stash under the seat when he doesn’t need it.

A delicious baby blanket

tortilla

Gift the Tortilla Baby Blanket, $48

This blanket is made of breathable cotton/polyester blend fabric that will keep baby comfortable and cool. And the flour tortilla print that makes them look like a bundle of burrito joy is impossibly adorable.

A custom print of baby’s footprints

baby footprints personalized art

Gift the Baby Footprint Art Print, from $18

It’s always hard to believe how little they used to be. This is an attractive, thoughtful piece that fits nicely anywhere in the home.

A smart speaker for baby’s room

echo dot

Gift the Amazon Echo Dot, $49.99

A smart speaker is a nice addition to baby’s room. It can play lullabies or classical music at bedtime, or dad can use it to listen to the game while they’re playing with toys. 

An REI membership

REI Membership

Gift an REI membership, $20

Getting active and outdoors is great for kids, and something a new dad can do right from the start. With an REI membership, he’ll get annual dividends, exclusive offers, and more to get the gear he and his family will want. 

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KiwiCo subscription boxes for kids are loaded with fun, educational activities – the box for toddlers was perfect for my 18-month-old

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The KiwiCo Panda Crate subscription box is a win-win for babies & parents
The “Solve With Me” box came with four different activities, all designed to help toddlers learn shapes.

  • KiwiCo subscription boxes contain fun and educational activities designed by child development experts.
  • I tested the Panda Crate for babies and toddlers, but KiwiCo offers subscriptions for kids of all ages.
  • My toddler didn’t just engage with these toys – she wanted to go back to play with them again and again.
  • Depending on your subscription, prices range from $20 to $30 per crate.

I often feel overwhelmed by making sure I’m teaching my daughter everything she needs to know and appropriately stimulating her to help her development. She doesn’t go to daycare and she’s not old enough for preschool, so it all falls on me.

According to the US Department of Education, up until age 5, it’s important to talk, read, and sing with your child every day. The American Academy of Pediatrics also advocates for regular play to support the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and so parents can fully engage with their children.

This is where play subscription boxes like Lovevery and KiwiCo come in handy. KiwiCo sent me its Panda Crate subscription box for babies and toddlers (ages newborn to 24 months) to try out with my daughter, so we could see for ourselves.

What is the KiwiCo Panda Crate?

KiwiCo offers different versions of the Panda Crate for five age bands: 0 to 2 months, 3 to 6 months, 7 to 12 months, 13 to 18 months, and 19 to 24 months. Each box has fun educational activities designed specifically for a child’s age.

The boxes are created by experts, including former educators and child development professionals, and tested by kids. This certainly makes my life easier, knowing I can spend less time researching which activities are appropriate for my daughter and more time playing with her.

The crates deliver activities in your child’s zone of proximal development, according to KiwiCo. This is a fancy way of saying the activities provide a little bit of a challenge so your child learns – but not so much of a challenge that they give up. It’s the sweet spot of learning, and as a former teacher, I’ve seen how students flourish in this zone.

What KiwiCo is like to use

The box definitely hit the sweet spot for my daughter. She is currently 18 months old, and her “Solve With Me” box came with four different activities, all designed to help her learn shapes: a peg puzzle, lacing beads, squishy shapes, and beanbag shapes. It also came with the book “Poppy’s Shape Search.”

My daughter immediately started exploring the activities, attempting to stack shapes onto the correct peg and playing with the large plush shapes that can be used for multiple games and activities.

panda crate ellie
Many lacing toys are too difficult for my daughter, but these beads are designed to  allow her to have success.

My daughter rotates through the activities pretty evenly but seems to gravitate toward the lacing beads. Many other lacing toys are too difficult for her, but these beads are designed to perfectly hit that zone of proximal development and allow her to have success. For that reason, the lacing beads are my favorite activity in the box, too.

She also enjoys playing with the three large squishy shapes. The magazine in the crate provided a song to sing about the shapes, and she often holds them and dances while we sing the song.

What makes KiwiCo stand out

My favorite thing about the Panda Crate is that it comes with activity cards that explain how to play with each of the toys. The box also comes with a an issue of “Wonder Magazine” and “Beyond the Crate” cards that offer many additional ways to play with your child and support their development.

When my brain is fried from sleepless nights or I’m just not feeling creative, these ideas are a lifesaver. After my daughter was done exploring the box on her own, I used the ideas to encourage her to learn more.

panda crate 1
My daughter and I keep returning to these toys and activities to learn and play more.

Open-ended toys like the ones in the Panda Crate help extend play and ensure that kids won’t just engage with toys once and then toss them aside, never to be played with again. My daughter and I continually come back to her box to learn and play more.

How the subscription works

When you sign up for a subscription, KiwiCo will send you a crate every two months. Each crate is specifically tailored to meet the developmental milestones of your child’s age.

Because it’s a subscription-based service, you can save money by purchasing a longer subscription. Depending on your subscription, box prices range from $15.50 to $39.90 each. For an extra $9.95, you can also upgrade your box to include a book like the one I received in my box.

The bottom line

Babies and toddlers don’t need a lot of stuff, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on toys to make them happy. Play with them, read to them, sing to them, and talk to them, and you’re setting them up for success.

Sometimes, though, we all need a little help when it comes to planning and setting up activities that will enrich our kids while they have fun. If you’re like me and you want some structured ideas for play and to encourage proper development, the KiwiCo Panda Crate makes it easy. It will give you the confidence and peace of mind that you’re continually providing educational activities for your child at each stage of their development.

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