Washable Workwear Wednesday: Samantha Bell-Sleeve Dress

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Hobbs’ styles are often appropriate for work and are almost always washable. The brand is a great find if you’re looking for something more on the conservative side of things. Note that it’s not necessarily a budget pick — this dress is almost $300 — but it’s a good option if you’re looking for something made with quality that’s also washable. I like the happy blue of this dress, which I think is sedate but also bright. Note that Hobbs has a ton of bell-sleeve dresses right now in various colors and prints that are all washable as well. It’s a brand to keep an eye on and a nice style of dress as well. Sizes for the dress pictured are 6–18 (UK) / 2–14 (U.S.), and code LOVE will bring the price down from $290 to $232. Samantha Bell-Sleeve Dress

Looking for other washable workwear? See all of our recent recommendations for washable clothes for work, or check out our roundup of the best brands for washable workwear.

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  1. Anonanonanon says:

    This dress is so pretty, but I just haven’t been able to get in to the bell sleeve trend yet. I’m not sure why, I haven’t even tried anything with bell sleeves on to see how I feel about it, I just can’t embrace it quite yet.

    • This isn’t as extreme a bell sleeve as I have seen but I wouldn’t buy something so trendy for $300 unless I loved it and was going to continue to wear it after the trend dies (hopefully soon).

      • I don’t mind trendy details like this if they can be easily altered, like, here, by just shortening the sleeve.

    • Me either, and it’s because it’s a very obvious trendy shape. Similar to bell bottoms – they’re just so extreme in shape that it’s hard to see them as anything other than trendy. I’m not of the age or body type where I can pull off items after they’ve gone out of style. (I can barely pull off trendy items when they’re IN style.) I can stick to a pretty classic silhouette and maybe mix in a trend-evocative piece here and there, but going full bell sleeve is pretty glaring on me.

    • Legally Brunette says:

      This has exactly everything I want in a dress (style, color, fitted waist) except the sleeves. It’s going to look so dated by next year.

    • Anonymous says:

      This dress is nice, but something about it is too Kate Middleton for me.

    • Hard pass on the bell sleeves for workwear. I bought a jacket with them last year and solved the issue by having my tailor take the bells off so that the jacket ended up with bracelet length sleeves. No regrets.

      I do have one blouse with poet sleeves (i.e. a ruffle at the wrist), but I think that is a more classic look. That blouse works with standard blazers or trousers, but because of the ruffle placement, does not add weight around the midsection like bell sleeves often do . . .

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I honestly haven’t seen anyone wearing bell sleeves to work out “in the wild” so to speak yet. I may try a sweater or something if I do the infinite style by Ann Taylor thing after I give birth (thanks to whoever suggested that, I’m obsessed and can’t wait to start) just for a fun casual day in the office, plus then I can send it back if I hate it, but I wouldn’t spend “investment piece” money on anything with those sleeves.
      The dress reminds me of some of the fit and flare pieces I’ve gotten from BOden that I’m in love with

      • Katala says:

        I hadn’t heard of this Ann Taylor thing – it looks intriguing and sounded great for post partum weight changes. But $95/mo for 3 pieces?! Yikes. And if you buy, you’re basically paying the price you would pay during a sale (which, why would you ever pay full price at AT?). I just can’t stomach the pricing model.

        • Anonanonanon says:

          It looks like it’s 3 pieces at a time, so you could get more than 3 pieces a month for sure. and they start packaging your next shipment as soon as you let them know you’re returning your previous one, so hopefully you can work out 3 shipments a month or so, at least I’m hoping. Will definitely update if I try it when I go back to work!

          • Katala says:

            Yeah, I did see that, but, for me, I feel like I would be unlikely to have it together enough to wear the items I wanted to, pack and ship them back 3x per month. It’s almost amplifying the whole reason I have too much in my closet – I never manage to return anything! I’m sure it would work well for someone for organized than myself!

            Would love to hear your experience if you try it.

  2. Does anyone know of a good show/cartoon with an airplane trip? Our two year old will be going on her first airplane ride this year, and I think a show would be a good way for her to learn what to expect. Daniel Tiger’s Family Trip is in our regular rotation, and she definitely understands the concept of trips generally from car trips we have taken. Something talking specifically about airplanes, airports, and what to expect would be ideal. Thanks in advance!

    • Not a show, but my 2 year old really likes Richard Scarry books and a Day at the Airport is great for talking about flying.

    • Bubble Guppies has an airplane episode with an insanely catchy song. Team Umizoomi has an episode at an airport. And I think Doc McStuffins has an episode with a toy airplane, although that’s not really about going on a trip.

    • Hmmm I can’t think of a show, actually! We really like the Usborne book On the Plane. It’s simple enough for a two year old.

    • I can’t think of any shows with an airplane trip, but can recommend a book – Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker. The book describes all the parts of an airport and a flight.

    • The TSA has a cartoon about going through security. I’m not sure how much a 2 year old would absorb from it but it is supposed to prepare kids for having their toys go down the conveyor belt. It also shows the kid walking through the metal detector without dad. I’m not sure at what age they are required to walk through solo.


    • Never too many shoes... says:

      I second the Bubble Guppies. There is also Peppa Pig where the family takes an airplane trip to Italy.

  3. Thanks to the commenter the other day who was checking in on my plugged duct! I did leave work early and worked on it in the shower and with an um, massager, and then stuck a heating pad in there while I went to pick up the baby from daycare. When he finally got it unclogged it was the best relief ever!! After the initial clog got out I pressed on the lump until it squirted out and I held a cloth there to catch it all (baby was having none of that lol). It was nice to be able to tell when it was all out.

    I’m back to dreamfeeding when I wake up in pain, because that’s so much preferable to the plugged duct. I don’t think I accomplished anything at work on Friday. All I could think about was my poor b00b!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I need to get a bag to carry my pump, accessories and milk when I return to work in a couple weeks. I received a pump in style through insurance, but it did not come with a bag. I would prefer to buy a regular bag, not a pump specific bag. Has anyone done this and have a recommendation, either for a specific bag or features I will need? I want it to look professional and hopefully something I can continue to use post pumping. My biggest issue with the pump bags I see are that they look too cutesy or casual.

    Thank you.

    • I used an LL Bean Boat and Tote with a zipper top, and an insulated bag with freezer blocks for the bottled milk. Having something machine washable was great for instances when my milk spilled (tragedy).

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you planning on carrying your pump back and forth everyday or leaving one at your office? If you plan to carry back and forth everyday instead of getting a second pump, then you will need a larger bag. I bought a second pump to live at the office, tossed the pflanges in a large ziploc in my purse and used a regular lunch bag for bottles.

      • Anon in NYC says:

        I did basically this as well. Second pump in the office, and used a packit to hold bottles/flanges in a ziploc for transport.

        FWIW, I found the Lo and Sons OG bag worked well to carry everything all at once. It’s too big of a bag for me to use every day, but the OMG night work well too.

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you. I hadn’t thought of getting a second pump. I’ll look into that.

          • Anonymous says:

            Follow up question – I have read not to get a used pump in style. I assume this is sound advice?

          • Anon in NYC says:

            I got a used pump in style and bought all new component parts (flanges, the tube, etc.). I know the advice is to never get a used pump, but I decided that, for me, it was an acceptable level of risk.

          • I haven’t gotten a used pump yet, but I absolutely would, with all new parts like Anon in NYC. Intellectually I think the parts themselves would be fine with cleaning/sterilizing (maybe not the tubes), but it would still squick me out a little.

          • NewMomAnon says:

            I think the advice is not to get a used open-system pump, but that closed-system pumps (in which there is a barrier between the pump and the milk collection parts) can be re-used safely. The main issue is the potential for milk to back up in the tubes of an open-system pump, and then mold can grow, I think. I’ve heard that the tubes can be replaced though.

            My understanding is that a Medela pump in style is an open system pump. The Spectra is a closed system.

    • A YouTuber I follow recommended the Dagne Dover Landon CarryAll in a medium. It’s neoprene and looks pretty great.

    • I used a canvas bag with a zip top for the times I did need to bring it home (and to transport parts/bottles). I left it at work 99% of the time and kept a manual pump at home.

      • Katala says:

        I also used a canvas bag (no zip top, but it was fine to go from office to garage). It fit the pump when needed but I left that at work mostly. I had a cooler with ice pack that fit just fine in the canvas bag, plus parts in a wet bag, so if someone had looked inside the bag (or when I had to put it down at an after work event) it really just looked like fabric and/or my lunch, not like pump stuff. I liked the canvas because it was cheap and washable and didn’t add extra weight. Even without the pump, all my stuff got heavy.

    • shortperson says:

      i have the sarah wells annie for the PISA and it’s great.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you, all.

      The Annie looked perfect, but it seems they discontinued it, and I haven’t found a similar bag.

    • octagon says:

      If you got your first pump last year, you should be eligible for a second one this year, since insurance benefits reset.

  5. Miscarriage care package? I know this has been discussed before but my searches haven’t been successful. My sweet cousin found out yesterday. She’s across the country and I’d like to do something to show her some love and support. She’s mid-twenties and this would have been her first kid. I’m thinking sbucks gift card (she loves sbucks), maybe a few things from Sephora to take care of herself, and a note (just saying we love her and are thinking of her, I know to steer clear of “everything happens for a reason” etc.). I’d send food or a restaurant card but I have no idea what places she eats from over there. Does this sound appropriate? Anything that might be better? Thanks ladies.

    • Pro tip says:

      This is so thoughtful of you. When I had a mc the expected due date was very meaningful/sad to me – it would have meant so much to me for someone to remember that time and check in with me on that day to remember that it would have been my baby’s birthday. Also, perhaps something like planting a tree in honor of the baby. There are places online that will do this for you or you could provide your cousin with a small tree or plant.

    • Marilla says:

      I think you’re right on target with Starbucks, a sheet mask or something similarly indulgent “for her”, and a card. I would personally have found more than that a little overwhelming in response to my first miscarriage (but each person is individual and will appreciate a different level of response!).

    • +1 for a small gift and card. I would not do a gift card of any kind – for me, I would feel guilty when I went to spend it, because it would seem celebratory. Maybe some movies or books you think she might like? Something that would take her mind off things.

    • Thank you for the tips.

    • shortperson says:

      i have a cousin who had a late miscarriage and was very upset about it. she clearly wanted some acknowledgement, had a fight with her parents who were trying to ignore it. so we sent her an angel wing necklace from etsy that she seemed to really like. you can search for miscarriage gifts on etsy.

  6. Anon in NYC says:

    How do you make holidays (religious and Hallmark) special for kids when you’re not that into holidays? To be clear, I’m not opposed to celebrating holidays, but I just don’t care that much and I don’t think about it. The only ones I ever really care about are Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas to the extent of getting/decorating a tree.

    My daughter ~loved~ Christmas and decorating the tree. Recently she was asking to “make Valentines Day cards.” Last year we dyed Easter eggs and had a mini-hunt, which she loved and we’ll do again this year. Next year we’ll definitely make valentines day cards, but I’d love some other ideas for celebrating these smaller holidays and the lead-up to them (special napkins? tablecloth? window stickers? clothing?). Thanks!

    • avocado says:

      I used to get a package of themed napkins and start using them a few days before the holiday. I need to start doing this again. When my kid was little I would also buy her a holiday-themed foil balloon at the grocery store, which she found thrilling.

      • My parents are in town visiting, and they bought my son a Valentine’s Day foil balloon at the dollar store this weekend :-)

    • POSITA says:

      My preschoolers love crafts so we basically spend the month before any holiday decorating the area around our kitchen table with seasonal kid crafts. At the end of the holiday, I save any favorite pieces and put them away for next year. The rest are thrown out.

      We get most of the best ideas from pinterest, but will often also make the pre-planned foam kits from Michaels. On the fly, we love cutting out construction paper shapes (hearts, trees, pumpkins, etc.), painting the shapes, covering them with stickers or glitter, punching holes and then stringing them into garlands. Garlands are super festive, and making a single garland can take up many work sessions–bonus!

    • My mom is a BIG holiday person. She had decorations, special napkins, special candy, etc. Sure, I enjoyed all that (especially the candy), but the things I remember now are the activities I did with her–baking, making crafts, dying Easter eggs, picking out my Halloween costume and having her do my hair and face paint, decorating the Christmas tree with her. My mom worked full-time, and we were probably overly busy, so I loved it when a holiday gave her a reason to play with me or invite me to help her with something.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      My mom sends kiddo cards in the mail for basically every holiday – 4th of July, Halloween, Valentine’s, Easter, Memorial Day, etc. Kiddo gets so excited about even the most basic mail “with a stamp!”

      But I’ve also found that kiddo really likes to give cards or gifts on holidays. Preparing Valentine’s cards last night was a Big Deal. Christmas cards for her teachers, birthday invites, even thank you cards – she loves helping to prepare them and getting to hand them out. I’m working to build on that by finding ways to make holidays about sharing with others, rather than acquiring additional stuff for ourselves.

    • Today, my husband was out of town. He made our daughter a valentine, and I put it at her place on the table last night so that she would see it when she came in for breakfast. She loved it. Last night, we also put out a special outfit for her to put on today that featured hearts. And I added a drop of red dye to her milk for her cereal to make it pink for breakfast this morning. I have been meaning to pick up some holiday napkins for a few holidays.
      I think doing just a few little things that don’t take a lot of time and energy can make the day special. I’m OK with not being a mom that goes all out for things.

    • My kids love crafts, making/putting up decorations and baking. For Valentine’s day, they helped put together the valentine’s cards for their class, decorated gift bags for their teachers, and put Valentine’s gel clings on the windows. Tonight we will probably bake and decorate heart-shaped sugar cookies. We do similar things for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. They also do a lot of holiday themed crafts at daycare.

      For some holidays, I’ll cut food into shapes with cookie cutters (so, valentine’s day heart toast, christmas tree omelet, etc.) or do holiday-specific foods (green milk for St. Patrick’s day).

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve started collecting window clings and garlands for a lot of the minor holidays, especially the ones in the long, bleak winter-early spring (Val Day, St Pat’s Day, Easter). We also sometimes make a seasonal wreath or door decorations, or take crafts to the wall as “decorations.” It depends a little how excited my son is about them. making treats is always a hit, and I recently stocked up on themed sprinkles for holidays throughout the year. Last night I made pancakes with red food coloring, and this morning I served them with some redi whip and special sprinkles on top. (Naturally I didn’t notice we are out of syrup, so less festive than hoped). You can also dye pasta with food coloring – Saint Patrick’s Day food is basically all about food coloring. I do leprechaun tricks (like hiding green things in weird places, like my son’s shoe) and put green food coloring in the toilet (leprechaun pee).

    • Anonymous says:

      Pick what you love so you enjoy it too. I like cooking/baking over decorating. So for Valentine’s we make heart shaped mini pizzas (extra large heart shaped cookie cutter). Last weekend we made heart shaped shortbread (3 ingredients) and used store bought icing/redsprinkles to decorate. At Christmas we make gingerbread cookies. I try to pick a specific thing that’s special to each holiday. For Easter, I use chocolate molds from Michaels and we make mini easter bunny shapes and an old-school bunny cake using boxed cake mix and two circle pans.

      I don’t do a lot of decorating because I don’t love it but I usually keep a stash of paper napkins for different occassions.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      My mom had a Valentine’s tradition for us that I keep meaning to start with my family but always forget. For some reason, we’d get a new pair of nice PJs for valentine’s day wrapped in a box with valentines paper, as well as a card. Getting a gift (that was honestly something we probably needed anyway) and a card felt very festive and we always looked forward to it.
      I got my son a card and a giant chocolate hershey’s kiss for valentines today, he was just excited to have a surprise waiting for him in the morning.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Thanks, all! These are great ideas. I’ll see if I can pick up some holiday-themed materials on sale, and think about baking ideas too (my kid loves cookies, so that will be a treat!).

    • We do all the window gels (usually bought on clearance the day after the holiday the prior year), get and read books about the holidays (although if you are MOT, PJ Library will send them to you for free), and make an effort to go to at least some local holiday events (trunk or treat at school, the “bunny fair” at the local supermarket, Purim carnival with friends, holiday crafts at the library, etc.).

  7. Edna Mazur says:

    So sticker charts. We are trying to get our newly minted four year old to dress himself. He can, he just doesn’t care to, and getting him to do so is a huge battle we usually don’t have time or energy for.

    We’re going to try to implement a sticker chart with a prize (hot wheels car) at the end. My question is how many days is ideal for this age? I don’t want to go to short so he doesn’t get enough practice/it doesn’t become a habit. But I don’t want it so long that it seems unattainable to him. Thoughts? Any other advice? We are sticker chart newbies.

    • avocado says:

      We used to do multiple sticker charts until the habit we were trying to create was somewhat ingrained. So two ten-sticker charts or three five-sticker charts would work well. The goal was always a certain number of stickers total instead of a sticker every single day for a certain number of days. This allowed for a little bit of failure.

      • mascot says:

        This. You don’t have to have a perfect week, but you do need 5 stickers to get a prize.
        My kid’s first grade classroom still does a version of a behavioral sticker chart. Earn 25 points (at 1 a day) and you can get something from the treasure box.

      • Edna Mazur says:

        This sounds like a good plan. Multiple sticker charts until it becomes in grained. I suppose I can spring for multiple hot wheel cars (ultimate treat in our house at the moment). Maybe start with five stickers to get a car and then the next round can move up to ten. Unfortunately his 2.5 year old brother will have to participate too…

    • Mama Llama says:

      We just started one for our soon to be 4 year old. I thought a week was too long to wait, so we structured it that she checks off each thing she needs to do in the morning, and then gets to pick a sticker each day, which she usually wants to wear on her clothes. I got some big stickers with her favorite characters and keep them in a special bag that is just for the chart. We’re a week into this system, and it turns out she loves checking off the items so much that she often forgets about the sticker. So I say, just experiment and see what works for your kid. You can always make adjustments.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Welp, I don’t do sticker charts because I can’t for the life of me remember to enforce it. But my daily reward system is that if kiddo eats her breakfast and gets dressed “really fast” (which is an arbitrary deadline I control, naturally), she can have her gummy vitamins in the morning instead of waiting until after dinner. And the punishment if she doesn’t get dressed is that she goes to school in her diaper and pjs, and kiddo thinks that would be so embarrassing (cue extreme 4-year-old eyeroll).

      I’ve also found that I have zero success getting kiddo to walk into her room alone and pick out clothes. But if I pick out her clothes and bring them into my room while I’m getting ready, she’ll put them on without issue. Which is all to say – find a system that you can manage and that motivates your kiddo.

    • We started at age 3 with three stickers to get a prize. We wanted it to be short enough to be achievable and have a relatively immediate result so that she would get the point. After a few prizes won, we upped it to 4 and she didn’t notice. She just turned 4 and we have found that four is still a good number for her. She gets a prize about once a week.

      • avocado says:

        I think our biggest sticker chart was 150 stickers when the kid was 9. There were multiple sticker-earning opportunities per day, and the prize was a huge privilege.

    • Anonymous says:

      What works best for us is you can’t use the tablet until you are dressed.

  8. Anonymous says:

    How did y’all start introducing screens to your kiddos? Our twins are going to turn 2 in a few months and I’d like to slowly get the ball rolling. It’s actually been somewhat inconvenient to have them be screenless this far– when we had an ER trip with one twin and needed to occupy the other one, he was not into YouTube. So far we’ve been showing them YouTube videos of Elmo’s Song, C is for Cookie, etc. about every other day; our daughter has occasionally started asking for C is for Cookie. I know eventually it’ll be useful to have things like the Daniel Tiger episodes around for life changes/small problems. Are there intermediate length shows that are longer than the 1:30 of the Elmo song but shorter than a 30-minute episode? I feel like everyone goes from zero to Doc McStuffins but no way is their attention span that long and I don’t want them watching half an hour anyway.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Daniel Tiger episodes usually consist of two stories separated by a “neighbor” spiel. When kiddo was 2-ish, I would often let her watch just one of the stories, and then turn the TV off. But I also remember kiddo not being at all interested in screens until she was a bit older than 2, and even then, screen time was an interactive event; I couldn’t just set her in front of the TV and walk away. It gets easier!

    • Anonymous says:

      My very-screen-time-limited-two year old likes apps more than videos, FWIW. “Itsy Bitsy” is a HUGE hit, as are the “Peekaboo” games (Barn is his favorite, there’s also Halloween and Fridge and likely some others). We finally found one show he will watch for hours, if we let him; other shows he watches for a few minutes and loses interest. Warning that it’s really, really boring and I would really rather he watch Daniel Tiger for my background enjoyment! It’s a series called “Learning Songs” by “Little Baby Bum” on Netflix. Very slow, mostly songs, he’s obsessed.

      • POSITA says:

        Little Baby Bum videos are so terrible, but toddlers love them. They are the only thing that gets our almost 2 yo through her nebulizer treatments.

        • If your kids like Little Baby Bum, check out Dave and Ava. It’s similar but a little more tolerable (and the songs are definitely better).

          • Marilla says:

            We love Dave and Ava too – mesmerizing for my daughter when I need some screen time. Our Netflix favourites are Puffin Rock (I love it because it’s so calm and soothing but sometimes I think it’s too low-key for her) and Clifford the Puppy.

    • For keeping toddlers occupied when you’re out and about, have you tried those melissa and doug waterbooks? They are a huge hit for my 3 year old (have been for awhile) and I while I’m not opposed to screen time, I think it is a good alternative.

      • Anonymous says:

        I haven’t heard of these, thank you– we’re not looking for anything to give them during grocery shopping or anything, but I think they’d love them for everyday life!

    • My opinion says:

      With all of the recent articles about the dangers of screen time in young kids and its addictive powers, why are you so eager to have your kids watch screens when they’re only 2? I would check out some of the studies before forging ahead. It’s a pandora’s box — once you go down that path you can’t go back.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not buying them their own iPad or anything– hell, I don’t have an iPad, they’re not getting one– but I’m a big “everything in moderation” person. I can absolutely go back or reduce screen time if it gets to be a problem, but they’re not going to be 5 and never having seen a TV show. That’s why we’re easing into it.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        To “My opinion”: we have a general culture of respecting each other’s parenting methods and decisions on this board, and your comment came off as unfairly judgmental. We’re all working moms, and sometimes we need a break. I would have given anything for kiddo to be happy with 15 minutes of tv once in a while at age 2 so I could go to the bathroom alone and catch my breath.

        It’s up to each of us to maintain the goodwill on here. If you prefer not to follow that, there are other mom boards where your judgment would be more welcome.

      • Anonymous says:

        There’s a lot of space between zero screen time and parking your kid in front of the TV all day long. Most of us use it strategically to distract a child on an airplane, or for a break when we are making dinner, or occupying a sick child who can’t play and has been read 30 books already.

        We do helpful not judgemental around here. And if you think there are ‘studies’ that show occasional screen time is harmful, then you might want to contact the APA to let them know their research is wrong because their latest recommendation is maximum of one hour per day for 2-5 year olds and OP isn’t talking about anything near that much (“I don’t want them watching half an hour anyway”)


      • There is some truth to this comment. We started screen time when my son was 3 and in retrospect I wish we hadn’t. Every kid is different but mine doesn’t understand just 2 or 5 or 10 minutes. It ends up being a big struggle and ends up with him having a tantrum. So now we’ve gone back to severely limiting it altogether, because just a few minutes here and there absolutely doesn’t work for him.

        • Redux says:

          My kid would tantrum after her 10-15 minute show at age 3 and I really resented my husband for introducing her to shows. What helps us is to be really clear with her about how many shows she is getting (just 1) and what we are going to do when the show is over (eat dinner/ get in the car/ whatever). She’s 4 now and if she tantrums (or tries to sneak a second show) I can tell her that her behavior tells me that she is not mature enough to watch shows, and she immediately stops and reassures me that she is big enough. Over time I have found that it really reduces her re-entry behavior issues, AND helps her understand boundaries and special treats. She’s used that language (about being mature/big enough) in other contexts, too, so I can see that the lesson is carrying over.

    • I solo parent most nights so I needed to introduce screentime early.

      We started with 2 minute YouTube videos that we watched together and talked about. Sesame Street was a good option, as was Pink Fong (the Baby Shark song is crack to my kids), Kidz Bop songs, and Little Baby Bum. Once those seemed to work, we “graduated” to longer videos like Pocoyo, Peppa Pig, Nerdy Nummies, cake decorating videos, kids making slime, etc. I usually kept one eye on the screen so I could ask them questions about the show and reinforce the content. (Like letting them help me dump in ingredients and “put it all together” just like Ro on Nerdy Nummies.)

      Then we went to one half of a cartoon, which is about 10 minutes. Doc McStuffins is actually two separate 10 minute episodes in one “show”, so are Daniel Tiger, Curious George, PJ Masks, and Lion Guard. Once those work, we’re good to start letting them watch the full 20 minute show, and then build to other full 20 minutes shows like Super Why, Wild Kratts, and Bubble Guppies. And I am now a pro at getting dinner on the table in 20 minutes, so that’s where I’ve stopped.

    • Anonymous says:

      We did it mostly for travel to start, and tried some Baby Einstein videos first I think? But when my son was younger, his absolute favorite thing was YouTube videos of things like construction sites, or short clips of various kinds of diggers. (Somehow my husband got him hooked on this series of Russian digger videos, and he used to always use the Russian words for them when he saw them IRL). You can download them so there is less danger of clicking around YouTube and discovering scary things.

      Also, if you don’t have a tablet, I found that apps on the phone were too hard for a young child – screen is too small. But mine may just have bad eye hand coordination.

    • Anonymous says:

      I found age 2 was too young to watch Sesame Street or any shows with a narrative story line to follow. Mother Goose Club videos on Youtube were good – I mostly used the ones with real kids singing songs. Dora and Daniel Tiger were popular around age 2.5.

    • shortperson says:

      all daniel tiger for as long as possible.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you have Netflix you might want to try Puffin Rock. It has 3 stories per episode where most cartoons have two (it also has an adult narrator so it’s a bit more like being read a story).

      Another thought is to try the documentary Babies (also on Netflix, though we have the DVD in case it ever leaves). It was the first “screen time” we ever gave my daughter (15 months — bad weather and very sick). Since there’s not really any narrative we’d just let it play until she grew bored. But she quickly got to the point where she’d watch all of it.

      Now that she’s two I’m really working on limiting TV. DH doesn’t seem to care at all or realize how accumulative a few episodes a day are (could explain DH’s weight problem). It used to be easy to get her to switch gears, so she could have one episode of Octonauts while I washed dishes and then we’d move on, but now it’d tears and misery. Right now she only gets TV on weekends (DH solo parents Saturday while I work) and when very sick.

      As for apps — we had a couple of apps that only worked in tablet form (drumming and drawing) that she could do even at about 15 months. The only phone apps that have worked for her are the Friskies ones for cats. Someone on here suggested them. She prefers the bugs to the fish, but like that the fish make noise.

    • I have fond memories of watching taped operas and ballets with my grandparents when I was little, so I started looking up dance clips on YouTube and showing my son. He loves the Russian Dance from the Nutcracker, for instance, and ancient Sesame Street clips featuring tap-dancer Savion Glover, the chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins… (I’m also irrationally annoyed by many shows created specifically for kids – so loud and bright! so sparse on content! – so this seems like an ok stopgap to me. Plus I enjoy watching dance.)

  9. TheElms says:

    Looking for advice please. A very good friend from college is at long last pregnant after years of infertility struggles and at least one miscarriage. She is 13 weeks and having complications so while the likelihood of a miscarriage is decreasing there is still a not insubstantial chance she could miscarry. She is currently off work and on bed rest at home. Things may improve or she could have some type of activity restriction for the rest of her pregnancy. She is an OB who specializes in high risk pregnancies, which I imagine has its own challenges.

    I’d like to do something really special for her, but I’m a bit worried about the timing of a gift in case she does miscarry. Also I think she is not really allowing herself to be happy about being pregnant in case she miscarries. She’s naturally frugal so I don’t think she would spring for nice maternity clothes for herself – probably would just rely on hand-me-downs from her sister or friends. I was thinking about gifting her a LeTote or a Stitch Fix subscription (both have maternity options I understand but could be used for non-maternity wear if she were to miscarry). Is this a bad idea? Any other recommendations to include in a care package? Any ingredients I should avoid in things like skin care products, if I did something like a fancy face mask or fancy body lotion? (She isn’t having any morning sickness anymore / has no issues with smell sensitivity. She has Netflix and Audible subscriptions already).

    • Clementine says:

      When I was on bed rest and having major complications, some of the best things I got were items to just distract myself. A girlfriend brought me 3 magazines – something like the Atlantic or the Economist, then something like Elle or Marie Claire or Vogue, and then a fitness mag. ‘A little something for everyone!’ she said.

      That was so incredibly kind. A far away friend sent me a ‘how to crochet’ book and some yarn and crochet hooks and wrote a super cheeky card about how she was sure that I would find my ‘true calling’.

      Another friend became a dog walker for me and would just ‘borrow’ my pup for walks. Perhaps something like that – a dog walker? I’m not sure about the LeTote or Stitch Fix, but that’s because I’m picky about clothes. A really safe bet is a nice soft Modal robe – Target has nice ones.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        I’m not crafty so I wouldn’t knit or crochet if you gave me the stuff, but cross-stitching is crazy easy and there’s so many books of fun patterns out there. I have a book of feminist cross stitch patters (who doesn’t want to cross stitch a portrait of RBG?) or you can get funny ones that have cuss words or vulgar phrases surrounded by pretty flowers (if she’s in to that) etc. So the stuff for that could be nice?

        One of the best gifts I got during my pregnancy was a box set of easy-to-read books (it was the stookie stackhouse series they ended up basing True Blood off of). It was nice to have a distraction in a series of kind of silly books.

        Does she have a roll-away tray table near her bed? that could be nice and something you could order from Amazon for her.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can you go visit her? What about a subscription to the Texture app – gets you access to most magazines for free on your tablet? Flowers or fruit of the month club? I think something to let her know you are thinking of her, and will continue to regardless of what happens, that isn’t tied to her physical shape in case she does miscarry might be safer.

  11. TheElms says:

    I am going to visit her in a couple weeks (she’s about a 4 hour drive away) assuming she is up for it. I can definitely bring/send magazines or knitting supplies. I like the fruit/flowers of the month club idea. No pets. Her hobbies before this were all related to working out / visiting family who are all about 1-2 hours away / cooking, so unfortunately those are off the table for now.

  12. AwayEmily says:

    Re the screen time question: my daughter is 22 months and we’ve had a lot of success with the Sesame Street song compilations on YouTube (I put it on the TV via chromecast). Lots of natural stopping points and no plot to follow. We do about five minutes of screen time each morning while I do her hair and put on her socks and shoes. I tried to get her to watch an actual episode of SS but she hated all the cartoon interludes and just wanted more Elmo and Cookie Monster so we will stick with the songs for now.

  13. Documntaries for kids? says:

    I actually mentioned above, my toddler loves the documentary “Babies.” I’ve been looking for other documentaries for her to watch but I’m having trouble.

    A lot of the nature ones have very sad music / a bleak tone. (Like in “March of the Penguins” — the seals are really scary and every paragraph of narration ends with “and then some of the chicks die.”)

    Anyone have any suggestions for more kid-friendly /upbeat documentaries?

    Bonus points if on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime!

    • Marilla says:

      There’s a Netflix show about puppies that my daughter liked for a few minutes (age 2) – but there’s some puppy birth scenes at the beginningyou may want to skip. I just checked my history and it’s called “Precious Puppies” – there are also some linked suggestions if you go to that one e.g. “Beary Tales” and some Disney nature documentaries.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you seen the Animal Planet show, Too Cute? It is kind of a docuseries about puppies, kittens, and other baby animals. Heavy anthropomorphic voice-over, so not really a documentary, but extremely uplifting and tame.

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