Babies and Toddlers: The Definitive Answers to Screen Time Questions

Babies and Toddlers: The Definitive Answers to Screen Time Questions | Baby Chick

Babies and Toddlers: The Definitive Answers to Screen Time Questions

When it comes to TV, movies, games, apps, and general screen time for your little one, how much is OK, what kind is best, and when do you introduce everything?

Next to formula vs. breastfeeding, the amount of screen time to give infants and toddlers has to be one of the most controversial issues new parents face. On one side are the hard-liners: No screens for kids under 2! On the other are those who just say, “Why not?”

If you’re one of the many new parents who are confused and worried about screen media, take heart. Much of what you’ve probably heard — that any screen time is bad — isn’t supported by research. That said, what’s best for babies — interactions with loving caregivers, the ability to explore their worlds, and exposure to language — can’t be replaced by a screen. As with most things, the answers lie somewhere in the middle. Here’s the definitive guide to managing movies, TV, the Internet, apps, games, and more.

How much screen time is really OK for babies under 2?

Some parents worry that exposing their kids to any TV or screen time could be damaging. Take it from us; a little bit of media isn’t gonna hurt. We simply encourage parents to limit time with screen media for kids under 3 or to use media as a means of furthering and cementing your relationship with them. The most important thing is that time spent with screens don’t replace time spent with their loving caregiver. Try the ideas below in small amounts — say, 15 or 30 minutes.

  • Explore new words, ideas, sounds, and pictures online.
  • Show kids a photo of themselves and name parts of their face.
  • Scroll through all your pictures, name the people, and talk about them.

Does FaceTime or Skype with Grandma count as screen time?

Video-chatting with a grandparent is a great way to build cross-generational relationships or bond with a relative who’s away. If you’re counting screen-time minutes, video-chatting should be excluded. It’s really no different from talking to a family member on the phone (and it’s actually easier to involve babies and toddlers since they can respond to facial expressions better than verbal language alone).

Is it OK to keep the TV on when I’m with my baby?

This is risky. Role modeling healthy media habits is important. So-called “background TV” can lead to fewer interactions with your child and less conversation, both of which have real impact on kids’ development. The images and tone of what’s on the screen are problematic, too. Infants sense emotions and experiences in a very real way, whether from their mothers or from actors on the screen. If you need to keep the TV on, mute the commercials, avoid mature content, and make an effort to talk and play with baby as much as possible.

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My baby has a tantrum if I don’t let her use my iPhone for screen time.

Respond as you would for any other tantrum and use your normal consequences. If handing over the phone has become a habit, it’ll take some time to curb her outbursts. Transition into using the phone together — such as showing her photos of herself or watching short videos together — so she’ll get used to it being a shared experience. And begin to show her how you use the phone as a tool — not a treat. As with everything else she wants and can’t have, she’ll develop the ability to self-soothe with your help. At some point, she’ll understand “Mama’s phone” and can learn how to ask for it politely.

My baby loves screen time to watch short videos of kittens and puppies online. Is that OK?

If you’re enjoying them together and keeping your viewing sessions fairly limited (those videos tend to draw you in for longer than planned), it sounds just fine. Your baby is enjoying the closeness with you as much as the videos.

Extend the experience by visiting a neighbor with a friendly dog, getting books on baby animals, and practicing all the animal noises you can think of. At this age, you want to make media a shared experience and an opportunity for learning.

What should I know before showing my toddler her first TV show?

First, consider whether she has the attention span to watch a full show. Many series designed for the youngest viewers break shows into 10- or 15-minute segments. Start with a single segment of a show and see how engaged she is. If she’s riveted, you can try a 30-minute show. You have literally thousands of options. Find a subject she likes, determine a limit (one show, two shows?), and watch together if you can.

Which TV shows are best for very young children?

TV shows that are short, gentle, have positive messages, and are ad-free (ideally) are best for young kids. They enjoy programs with very simple messages they can relate to (such as getting dressed in the morning). Keep these tips in mind:

  • Many half-hour shows, such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, actually contain several shorter segments you can start with.
  • Avoid scary stuff, explosions, people yelling, and cartoon violence.
  • Look for shows with positive messages, such as the value of being a good friend.
  • Do what you can to limit commercial exposure — kids absorb those messages like a sponge.
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If I’m restricting screen media, what can I do to occupy my kid while I take a break?

It can be exhausting building blocks, playing dolls, and digging in the sandbox all day with your toddler. Here are some ideas to help kids occupy themselves, so you can put up your feet (or get dinner started):

  • Listen to music.Young kids love to shake, shake, shake to all kinds of beats and sounds. Encourage kids to move and shake to the music and to make sounds themselves.
  • Have them “read” books.Just the act of holding books and flipping pages can prime kids for a future love of reading. They can pretend they’re reading to a stuffed animal.
  • Play audiobooks.The act of hearing helps with language acquisition, imagination, and critical listening skills. Set up a comfy space where your child can play with blocks or dolls while listening to an age-appropriate story.

Is it OK to take my baby to the movie theater?

Infants are too young to understand the action on the screen, but the environment could be overstimulating. Also, cinema-quality sound systems are really loud and could be too intense for little ones.

If you want to give the theater a try, sit in the quietest seat and be prepared to leave if things take a bad turn. You might be lucky enough to live near one of those theaters designed for families, or your local theater might host a mom-and-dad’s night where they turn the sound down and the lights up to make it more baby-friendly.

Should I limit my phone use when I’m with baby?

You may be craving adult conversation and connection — or maybe you need to work from home while watching the baby. The most important thing is to make sure you’re keeping an eye on him; there have been instances of kids hurting themselves because their parents were distracted by their phones.

Young kids learn best through nurturing relationships with caregivers and loved ones, so make sure your phone use doesn’t interfere. Talk, play, hug, and make eye contact with infants as much as possible. Use screens in service of relationship-building (showing a photo of grandma) or to occupy yourself while the baby is sleeping on top of you.

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What can I say to family and friends with more lenient screen-time rules?

Everyone has different screen-time rules. It can be tough to talk about because you don’t want to come off as judgmental — or maybe you just don’t want to start a conflict. But if your kid is going to be spending a significant amount of time with kids whose parents have different rules, it is absolutely within your right — and your kid’s best interest — to explain what you’re comfortable with. Soften the blow by saying, for example, “I know I turn into a control freak when it comes to media, but it’s really important to me, and since I know our kids will be friends for a long time, I want you to know where I’m coming from.”

Sometimes bending your own rules for the benefit of social harmony is the way to go, but only you can make that call.

Here are some of the key issues to discuss, especially as your kid gets older:

  • Time limits.State your preference. Say, “I’m OK with the kids watching a movie, but I’d like them to play on their playdate, too.”
  • Tell the parents that your kid is frightened by scary stuff and that you have a particular “thing” about him watching shows or playing games with potentially frightening images.
  • How close of an eye do the other parents keep on the kids — especially when the kids are on the Internet? Ask if they have content filters installed on their search engines.
  • Multiplayer games.Find out if the other kids in the house play multiplayer games. If your kid isn’t familiar with them, ask if multiplayer can be turned off until he gets the hang of the game. Make sure to talk to your kid about playing online games responsibly and respectfully.
  • Tech-free zones.Keep family and social gatherings tech-free. Recharge devices overnight — outside your kid’s bedroom to help them avoid the temptation to use them when they should be sleeping. These changes encourage more family time, healthier eating habits, and better sleep, all critical for kid’s wellness.

This article originally appeared on: www.commonsensemedia.org.

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About the Author /

As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?" Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do.

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💗 Say This, Not That: What New Moms Need to Hea 💗 Say This, Not That: What New Moms Need to Hear 💗⁠
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As a both a parent and an educator, my hope is to parent with encouragement instead of criticism. But like any parent, I’m not perfect, and I’ve been on my own journey to learn how to discipline my children without criticizing them when they make a mistake. This topic has been of particular interest to me over the years.⁠
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A fascinating article published in The Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology found that children who are constantly being criticized develop a habit of avoiding looking at other people’s facial expressions—whether those people are expressing positive or negative feelings. By avoiding looking at other people, children’s ability to receive positive information and make positive social connection with others is undermined. Researchers suggest that this could lead to anxiety and depression in that child.⁠
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😴 Finding Rest During the Newborn Days 😴⁠ 😴 Finding Rest During the Newborn Days 😴⁠
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Nothing is more amazing than the moment you see your baby’s face for the first time. The joy, excitement and love that overcome you make it feel like you are literally on top of the world! It isn’t until you get home where the doubts, fear and overwhelming feelings begin to kick in. Suddenly, you are responsible for this tiny, helpless being . . . who won't sleep! 😳 You are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. And you start to wonder how you will ever find rest during these seemingly endless newborn days. 😖⁠
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As a mom of three little ones (6 years, 4 years and 2 years) I have experienced first-hand MANY exhausting moments. As a Certified Sleep Consultant, I have worked with hundreds of families who are experiencing exhausting moments themselves. We all go through really hard times on our parenting journey and that is okay. I always tell my fellow moms that it is okay to NOT be okay! One of my favorite quotes is “we are wired to do hard things.” But that doesn't mean you can't get some help and advice along the way. {Click the 🔗 in bio to continue reading how to find rest during the newborn days}⁠
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Widely known as the love hormone, attachment hormone, or the cuddle hormone, #oxytocin is one of the essential acting #hormones in the process of conception, birth, lactation, and bonding. It helps us grow deeper in love with our babies and each other. There are even ways we can increase the love hormone in ourselves to deepen connections to each other.⁠
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We're talking all about oxytocin and how it affects our bodies, our bonding and relationships. {Click 🔗 in bio to read all about it!}⁠
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❤️ 5 Things You Should Do Your First Week as a ❤️ 5 Things You Should Do Your First Week as a New Parent ❤️⁠
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Welcome to #parenthood! After what seems like forever, baby has finally arrived. 😍 This is one of the most exciting, nerve-wracking times a person can have in their life, and it can be very easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the moment. 🙈 But this first week as a new parent can be one of the hardest.⁠
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I thought reading a few books was all I really needed to prepare me for motherhood, but in the end, it was completely different from anything I ever imagined. The first week, especially, was much more overwhelming than I expected; you’re physically recovering from #childbirth, your hormones running haywire as they start to resettle back to some sort of normal, and you’re getting to know your baby, all while trying to get them to eat, sleep, and stay healthy and strong.⁠
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Looking back on that time, there are definitely more than a handful of things I wish I could have told my newbie-mom self to do, but here are my top five pieces of advice for the first week as a new parent. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
📷: @adrienneneufeld⁠ & @stephanie.lauren.co
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Sad but true . . . 🤷‍♀️😭⁠ (quote via Sad but true . . . 🤷‍♀️😭⁠
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🍌 Baby-Led Weaning is Actually the Best Lazy Pa 🍌 Baby-Led Weaning is Actually the Best Lazy Parenting Hack 🥑⁠
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Baby-led Weaning has become a very popular feeding trend in the last decade or so. When I first started having kids, though, I'd never heard of it. After my daughter was born, I assumed I would eventually give her purees when it was time to start her on solid food. However, I knew I would never give her the awful canned baby food in the grocery store.⁠
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For one thing, I had terrible college experiences (hey, sorority games!) trying those purees and the thought of it made me gag. Secondly, I knew from research that most of these store-bought purees were not made with quality ingredients and often had sugar added. I preferred to feed my baby good food, so I decided I was going to make her purees. How hard could it be?⁠
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Long story short, I survived one week making homemade purees. ONE WEEK. I discovered the hard way that I did not have time, nor patience, nor energy, to make my kid food every several days. Admitting to myself that I was a lazy mom (i.e., tired mom), I was determined to find a better way. I started researching other methods of introducing solids and (praise the heavens!) I stumbled onto Baby-Led Weaning. 🙌 {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading about Baby Led Weaning!}⁠
📷: @fieldsofhoney⁠
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Thank you, honey. Cheers to you! 🍷😘⁠ 📷: Thank you, honey. Cheers to you! 🍷😘⁠
📷: @momof1anddone⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Let’s. Go. 👿🦹‍♀️⁠ Why does it alwa Let’s. Go. 👿🦹‍♀️⁠
Why does it always have to get to this point? 😒⁠
(quote via @lurkathomemom)⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Yes, pregnancy is a blessing. But no, you don’t Yes, pregnancy is a blessing. But no, you don’t have to love every minute of it to be a good mom. Just because you might not like moments (or days or weeks) of being pregnant, it doesn’t mean you don’t want your baby or don’t love your baby or that you’re ungrateful to be pregnant. Pregnancy is a lot of work and can be crazy uncomfortable and exhausting. But, of course, you love your baby. It’s okay to be tired and over it and ready to meet your baby. And yes, you are still a good mom. ❤️
📷: @mrs.caitlin_fought
.⁠
#pregnancy #pregnant #pregnancytip  #momtobe #pregnancylife #mamatobe #babybump #pregnancyjourney #bumpie #preggo #maternity #motherhood #momlife #expecting #mumlife #mommytobe #pregnantlife #babyontheway #inspirepregnancy #mommychick #babychick
YIKES! 😬 Hopefully there's a stellar recital at YIKES! 😬 Hopefully there's a stellar recital at the end of this. 😂⁠
📷: @humorandwine⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Hope your Valentine's Day was filled with love, hu Hope your Valentine's Day was filled with love, hugs and kisses. 😍❤️⁠
📸: @julianaguilar⁠
.⁠
#kisses #valentinesday #love #happy #picoftheday #xoxo #lipstick #baby #newborn #cute #family #momlife #babyboy #motherhood #babylove #instagood #babiesofinstagram #babychick #mommychick #valentines #valentine #vday #happyvalentinesday #bemyvalentine #bemine
What would your candy heart say? 😜❤️⁠
📷: @punsandlittleones⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick #valentinesday #candyhearts
Happy Valentine's Day! 💝 Just FYI before you ce Happy Valentine's Day! 💝 Just FYI before you celebrate . . . It's never just a "back rub" 🤦‍♀️🤣⁠
(quote via @littlewinkssleep)⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick #disney+ #disneyplus #netflixandchill
❤️ Low Cost Date Night Ideas for Couples on a ❤️ Low Cost Date Night Ideas for Couples on a Budget ❤️⁠
.⁠
Ah, #dating. Do you remember those days? After #marriage and a baby, dating your partner is probably the last thing on your mind. I get it. Dating is expensive. It takes time. It takes energy. These are things you may be lacking as a busy couple. But, there are low cost #datenight ideas you can incorporate into your busy schedule and I think you should. Why? Because dating your partner now is more important than ever.⁠
.⁠
Not only is dating after you are #married incredibly beneficial to your marriage, it's also really important to the rest of your #family dynamic. When mom and dad are happy and show #love toward one another, kids can feel that energy. The same is true when mom and dad aren't happy. For these reasons, date night should be one of the most important appointments on that very busy family calendar!⁠
.⁠
With a little planning, you can incorporate date night back into your schedule. Start with one night a month, for example. Then perhaps try to find time for one night a week. There are a lot of ways you and your partner can invest in one another without spending much (if anything!) and, perhaps, not even leaving the house! Here are some low cost date night ideas you can use to start making your dating life a priority again. {Click 🔗 in bio to check out our low cost date night ideas!}⁠
📸: @sivanayla⁠
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#pregnancy #pregnant #momtobe #pregnancylife #mamatobe #babybump #bumpie #preggo #maternity #motherhood #momlife #expecting #mumlife #mommytobe #pregnantlife #babyontheway #inspirepregnancy #mommychick #babychick #love #couple
If you're wondering what to gift her on Valentine' If you're wondering what to gift her on Valentine's Day that doesn't cost a lot?? These are guaranteed to make her feel loved. 💕⁠
📷: @majatomljanovic⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #mamalove #mommychick #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #selfcare #selflove #vday #valentinesday #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
🤱 Don't Give Up: It May Not Be Low Milk Supply 🤱 Don't Give Up: It May Not Be Low Milk Supply 🤱⁠
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The early stages of #breastfeeding can be challenging. So many different new things happening all at once. Sometimes new mothers experience issues that they confuse with low #milksupply. Although it is possible, it is actually pretty rare. There are several other factors that can explain the challenges moms face during breastfeeding, all of which are normal. Before you give up on breastfeeding, make sure to educate yourself on these several fixable issues. {Click 🔗 in bio to read what you can do!}⁠
📸: @yoli_and_otis⁣⁠
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#breastfed #motherhood #momlife #postpartum #nursing #momtobe #normalizebreastfeeding #newmom #mumlife #newbaby #breastpump #breastfeedingfact #motherhoodthroughinstagram #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #mommychick #babychick⁣ #lactationconsultant #breastmilk
So true ❤️⁠ 📷: @car_buettner⁠ .⁠ #mot So true ❤️⁠
📷: @car_buettner⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #boymom #vday #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #valentinesday
And the quickest way, partners, to get murdered. 🔪🔪🔪😤⁠
(quote via @fruitsofmotherhood)⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
👶 Baby Names for 2020 👶⁠ .⁠ We're sharin 👶 Baby Names for 2020 👶⁠
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We're sharing the top baby names of 2019 and what baby names we think are going to climb the charts in 2020! {Click 🔗 in bio to find out more!}⁠
📷 : @paigemolinaphoto⁠
.⁠
#newborn #newbaby #newbornphotography #babynames  #namingbaby #babynameoftheday #namesforgirls #namesforboys #girlnames #boynames #namehelp #popularbabynames #babyname  #baby #newbornphotographer #babygirl #momlife #motherhood #babyphotographer #newbornphotos #newbornbaby #infant #babylove #newbornposing #babiesofinstagram #newbornsession #newmom #babyphotos #newbornpictures #mommychick
It looks like a murder scene up in here. 😦🍝👶🤦‍♀️⁠
📷: @alrightmom⁠
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#dinnertime #spaghettinight #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
💜 How to Show Love to Your Partner in Labor 💜⁠
.⁠
Giving birth is a labor of love—with extra emphasis on the hard work behind the word "labor". It’s a time where anything goes, the best laid plans can be instantly reversed, and no one minds if a few swear words slip out now and then. The end result of a new baby in arms isn’t the only showcase of love, however. Oftentimes, the love shown between the partners is just as tear-jerking as the birth of the baby.⁠
.⁠
How can partners create a positive birth environment by bringing a little love into things? Here are some ways each partner can show love to the other during labor. {Click 🔗 in bio to read more!}⁠
📸: @taprootdoula⁠
.⁠
#birth #childbirth #laboroflove #pregnancy #motherhood #pregnant #babybump #birthwithoutfear #momlife #mumlife #empower #prenatal #naturalbirth #hospitalbirth #birthisbeautiful #homebirth #birthcenterbirth #birthphotographer #birthphotography #birthbecomesher #birthwithconfidence #laboranddelivery #motherhoodrising #positivebirth #birthmatters #love #mommychick #babychick
Sorry, kiddo. It looks like it’s gone. 🤷‍♀️😈⁠
📷: @stonecolddaddy⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
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