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Mama Tips & Advice

  • 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health – FREE Printable Included

    As someone who has experienced generalized anxiety for most of my life, I’ve always understood the importance of a solid mental health routine. But since becoming a mother and suffering through a severe bout of postpartum depression, I’ve prioritized self-care in an even larger effort to bolster my mood, remain energized & be the best version of myself for my kids.

    It’s amazing what a few simple practices can do for the mind, especially when organized on a weekly task list designed for the modern woman with a thousand items on the mental plate. Let’s dive right in to these 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health. Don’t forget to download the free printable below!

    Picture of 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health

    Motivation

    For my Monday focus (because seriously, Mondays are the pits) I like to think motivation, and nothing gets me motivated like setting a goal for myself. Setting goals gives you longterm vision. It offers purpose, direction and something to achieve and work towards. I’m a huge believer in striving for more and continuous improvement.

    To put it plainly, achievement equals confidence. The goal doesn’t have to be anything monumental, but it has to be measurable and attainable. Once you set your goal and visualize it in your mind, write it down. Make it real. Begin planning first steps towards achievement, and use your Mondays to apply yourself towards it.

    Self-Care

    To be honest, I could go for self-care any day of the week. If you choose just one of these practices to implement in your weekly routine, let it be self-care.

    Treat yourself to a pedicure, exfoliate, set aside 20 minutes to meditate. Self-care looks different for everyone, so do what works for you. It’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself in order to boost positive feelings and self-esteem.

    Digital Detox

    This one is probably the most straight forward yet hardest to accomplish, but I promise its worth it. Turn off that phone/television/computer for an evening and go screen free. Read a book, play a game, listen to a podcast.

    Picture of Rockitmama Free Mental Health Task List Printable

    See below!

    Organize/Purge

    Free your mind of clutter, quite literally! When the environment around us is chaos, it can be difficult to feel in control. Pick one item in your house/office/room that needs a good cleanse. Tackle that overflowing junk drawer or delete excess emails in your inbox.

    This could also apply to a toxic individual in your life that doesn’t contribute to your happiness and should be kindly removed. Release them. Talk about a mental refresh!

    Energize

    Everyone energizes in different ways. Maybe its socializing with friends or grabbing some fresh air. Perhaps it’s binge watching the latest Netflix series after a long week at work or catching up on sleep.

    Find the best way for you to re-energize for the weekend and make that your focus for Friday.

    Health

    Saturdays are focused on physical health which we all know, deeply impacts us mentally. I use Saturdays to get my long runs in for exercise, but again it doesn’t have to be that daunting. Make a healthy meal, meal plan for the week or take a yoga class at the gym.

    Focus on yourself physically, and the benefits to the mind will follow.

    Gratitude

    On long, exhausting, frustrating days with my boys (lets be honest we all have them) there is one thing I lean on to pull me through: Gratitude.

    I started practicing intentional gratitude after my first was born in an attempt to ease my anxiety. Quickly I learned that when I regularly took time to give thanks and share a sense of abundance around me, I attracted a goodness that elevated my mood and carried me through the day.

    I encourage journaling these feelings of gratitude to really drill down on the good in your life & to help make it a habit.



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  • 15 Questions to Ask Your Daycare Provider

    As far back as I can remember, I woke up to kids in my home, and I’m not only referring to my siblings. My mom started her in-home childcare business when I was only a year old in a career move to spend more time with her kids. For a young girl like myself, it was amazing. I had an instant group of playmates waiting for me in the basement every morning. I was surrounded by toys and crafts and a space for imaginative play that was just waiting to be harvested. I always had someone to play with, learn alongside and grow up against. My mom became licensed, installed her small business in the lower level of our home, transformed it into a colorful, learning & play environment and eventually developed her own preschool program. She’s been doing it ever since.

    I’ve witnessed some incredible child transformations under her care. She has a method of disarming turbulent children that is soothing and transformative. She’s found the balance of being firm, yet nurturing to spirited personalities without dimming their flame. I would go as far as to say she’s perfected it over the past 30 years. Her kids are impassioned. They love learning. They play hard. And they absolutely adore her as their Mrs. Lisa. And because she is a vault of untapped knowledge and the person I go to for motherly advice, I decided it would be fun to pick her brain about early childhood development, what to look for when interviewing a daycare provider, and where to begin if you’re considering starting your very own in-home business. Keep reading for some solid advice from a 30 year preschool teacher and my beloved mama, which includes 15 Questions to ask Your Daycare Provider before enrollment.

    What are some important questions parents should be asking potential childcare providers before enrolling? Can you offer any extra advice on the interview process?

    Parents should ask if a provider is licensed or registered and if so, check the Division of Licensing Website for a list of visits and violations. Important questions can be found on the graphic below.

    We here at Rockitmama are big on promoting outdoor play, as mentioned in the graphic above. Why do you think it is so important to get the kids out once a day if possible?

    Kids are made to move! Running, climbing, and exercising those gross motor muscles is pertinent to a child’s physical development. Fresh air, sunshine and a change of scenery is good for everyone. The children have better attention span, better attitudes and rest harder at nap time after their outdoor recess. Not to mention the nature learning opportunities with insects, leaves, birds, nests, turtles, bunnies, etc. that we encounter! It also sets the tone as they get older and are exposed to screens and devices. Children who are conditioned to outdoor play & exploration at an early age are more likely to enjoy it later on in life.

    What is the most important component of child behavioral transformation? How do you get them to respond?

    Success in behavior transformation really depends on the age, but consistency is crucial at every stage. For very young children such as toddlers, redirection is best. As they become preschoolers the tantrums can be rough. Allow them to feel their full range of emotions without reinforcing the behavior. It’s easy to give in to the wails and meltdowns, but it will make it more difficult to follow through the next time. Children must know that your words are true and you mean what you say. Save the strong tones for extreme behaviors and issues that really matter to emphasize that the negative actions will not be tolerated. In other words, choose your battles wisely. Time away, removal from the situation to discuss what happened, and conversations about how the situation could be handled differently in the future are also useful tools to inspire behavior change.

    What values should parents be instilling in their children from an early age to help them find success in life?

    Empathy – show it towards your child and others.

    Honesty – always be truthful with your children and make sure that they always see you being honest with others. Trust and unconditional love is crucial to any child/parent relationship.

    Accountability – give praise when your child admits to their mistakes and owns them.  Let them know that we all make mistakes but that we are responsible for our actions and cannot place blame on others for what we do.

    Confidence – provide opportunities for them to conquer a new task or skill.  Applaud the mastery but don’t overdo it as the praise will not be as meaningful over time.

    How do you motivate children to focus and get excited about learning? 

    Learning should be fun for young children! Being silly, dancing, singing, and providing fun activities for the kids makes for a successful program. Reading a book and creating a corresponding character craft is an awesome way for children to connect with the material. The most important skills for young children to learn before starting school are social (sharing, taking turns, etc). Additionally, preschoolers should begin practicing to compromise, learn basic problem solving and develop the ability to follow directions.

    For those interested in becoming a provider, where should they begin?

    If you plan to care for less than 5 children, a license is not required. However, taking the effort to become registered or licensed is a big selling point for your business. Parents will know that there is regulation in your daycare and routine inspections are taking place. In regards to advertisement, word of mouth is the best method. Fostering a good reputation among clients will help your business spread like wildfire. Also, advertising with online “moms groups”, utilizing social media, and posting a flyer at your local library are great marketing strategies. Networking with other providers for referrals is also a great way to fill your slots.

    Thanks for the Q&A, Mom. Any additional thoughts as a mother of 3 now-adult children?

    For moms: your love for your children is enough. You will make mistakes or wish you had handled certain situations differently in hindsight, but if your child rearing is done with the best of you and the best of your intentions, that is enough. Be confident in your role as their parent because no-one can love your child the way you do. Children pick up on insecurity- own your decisions and be consistent! Your self-assurance enables your children to feel safe and secure.

    Hooray for enriching educational experiences, and providers like my mom who continue to ready our littles for success with love and attentive care.

    Did you enjoy 15 Questions to Ask Your Daycare Provider? Leave a comment below! Also be sure to check out our post  7 Tips for Returning to Work After Baby and how to survive your first week back!

     

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  • Returning to Work After Baby – 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week

    One of the most stressful things to deal with when you finally get a hold of this mama-hood thing, is the transition of returning to work after baby. The range of emotions can be quite harrowing – you are excited to head back and focus on your career, you are dealing with the guilt that comes with leaving your child with someone else, you are figuring out how to manage your evening schedule and not to mention the logistics of pumping at work. After all, you did just have a major life change.

    Returning to Work After Baby 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week | Rock It Mama | Use these 7 helpful pieces of advice to help you transition to work after baby

    I’m not going to lie – heading back to work had me worried sick. I made sure to consider every piece of advice that was thrown at me and still had minor setbacks. But, after being at work for a month, I am finally ready to share with you KEY tips to help you survive your first week back after baby.

    Here Are 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week Back After Baby

    Be Content with Your Decision

    The very first thing many new moms struggle with when heading back to work is heavy mom guilt. I felt like leaving my son at a daycare was a disservice to him and in turn, I was being a bad mother. With my first son I was able to stay at home with him for three years while working from home and never had to go back after maternity leave. I felt that I should have been able to provide this same amount of at-home experience and quality time with my second as well. But after a lot of reflection and focusing on my why, I finally felt content with my decision. I had to remind myself that I was going back to work to help with finances – our family thrives on dual income. Additionally I wanted to advance my career and, truthfully, I’ve always enjoyed a sense of autonomy. Returning to work wasn’t a selfish decision – it’s was the best change for my  family and I needed to stop feeling like I was falling short of expectations. It can be so freeing when you get rid of the doubt and guilt that comes with returning to work after baby.

    Meet with Your Employer

    Make sure you meet with your supervisor or boss before starting your first day and iron out any details that might concern you. Have there been any company or project changes you need to be aware of? Does your employer need to consider accommodations if you plan to pump at work? Maybe you aren’t quite ready to jump in with both feet and want to see if there are options for a flexible work schedule. Whatever the case may be, it’s always best to make sure you know what is expected of you and how your employer can help during the transition as much as possible; no one likes last minute surprises.

    Set Your Start Date (Preferably Mid-week)

    When returning to work, consider the benefits of starting your first day back in the middle of the week. As a nursing mother, I had never really been away from my child longer than a few hours, so the thought of being away from him 8 hours a day for 5 days in a row was daunting. But, if you were to start on a Wednesday, returning to your 9-5 will be for just a few days before the weekend begins and your little one is slowly transitioning to daycare as well.

    Prepare for Pumping

    If you plan to pump of course! Overpack too – I cannot stress this enough. You will need all the typical supplies and more. Plan for back up manual pumps (that you can leave in the car), extra milk storage bags, batteries, nursing pads, pump cleaning wipes and a cooler bag. Seriously, you do not want to be stuck in a rut needing to pump with a lack of supplies – and it will happen.

    Some of my favorite pumping supplies are:

    Freemie, Hands Free Breast Milk Pump Collection
    Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Gift Set
    Medela, Quick Clean Breast Pump and Accessory Wipes 
    Lansinoh Portable Manual Breast Pump
    Insulated Baby Bottle Tote Bag

    Returning to Work After Baby 7 Tips to Survive Your First Week | Rock It Mama | Use these 7 helpful pieces of advice to help you transition to work after baby

    Pamper Yourself

    Heading back to work after baby, although its a lifestyle change, can be very exciting! Take the time to pamper and reward yourself by getting a fresh new haircut or manicure/pedicure. Odds are, you aren’t quite fitting in your pre-baby clothes and maternity no longer suits you. Treat yourself to some new work clothes and head back with confidence!

    Plan Your Meals

    If you saw my last post, you know I am all about meal planning. When your evening are cut short and cooking dinner seems overwhelming, meal planning or freezer meals can be a lifesaver! See my most recent post on make-ahead freezer meals that can help alleviate your first week back.

    Do a Practice Run

    Try out your new routine a week before you’re due back at the office. This is the best way to work out any kinks that you might run into before actually running into them. Make sure you have a back up plan if anything goes awry. Consider sending your child to childcare a week in advance to get them adjusted to their new schedule as well.

    The logistics of returning to work might seem like a lot leading up to your first day back, but it will be only a matter of time until you and your family will be settled into this new lifestyle.

    If you found these tips helpful, you might enjoy this post on creating family traditions.

    Happy Friday!

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  • 10 Must-Have Apps for New Parents

    As a mom let me just say: you can prepare yourself all you can for parenthood, but when it really comes down to it…we’re all just winging it, right? Even with my second child, there were times I felt left in the dark, googling WebMD or reaching out to fellow moms or my pediatrician for advice.

    Thankfully with today’s technology, there is a plethora of phone apps available at our fingertips to help make this whole parenting journey A LOT easier. And to make this easier on you, we’ve put together some of our favorite parenting apps that are worth checking out!

    See our list of our top 10 favorite parenting apps below!

    10 Must-Have Apps for New Parents | Rock It Mama | Sharing the best phone apps to help with daily parenting

    This post contains affiliate links. An affiliate link means we may earn advertising referral fees if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

    Baby CenterFree

    Baby Center is actually the very first parenting app I ever downloaded. Initially, I used it to track my pregnancy, but as I was a first-time mom with barely any close mom-friends, I ended up using the community forums quite a bit and relied heavily on my birth groups for questions and advice. I used it again years later and found solace in the PCOS and TTC support groups I found. That being said, the Baby Center app is not just for pregnancy and labor! To this day, I frequently use the app as a source of guidance and insight on growth and development as my children get older.

    Baby TrackerFree

    Baby Tracker is a useful app for tracking your baby’s daily activities. You can log diaper changes, feedings (how many ounces they had, what side they nursed on, how often you pumped) and their sleeping habits; all great ways track your babies activity trends. There are even options for inputing all their medical information – like immunizations, wellness visits and more. An added feature is the ability to sync data across multiple devices – so getting updates from your partner or sitter is even easier!

    White NoiseFree

    You can’t deny the immediate effects of white noise! When we don’t have the ceiling fan on or we are traveling and need a soothing background noise, this app has been great! From the classic monotonous white noise, to nature sounds and lullabies, this app has a good history of calming down my boys and helping them get a good nights sleep.

    Tiny BeansFree, in-app subscriptions offered

    Do you love to share photos of your little ones? I do too! And with Tiny Beans, you can safely share your photos immediately with friends and family without having to post constantly to your Facebook or other social media, where everyone can see. Tiny Beans is also a great way of backing up all those photos you have of your littles and acts as a photo journal, tracking milestones, awarding stickers for special moments and allowing you to set up photo sharing and commenting. Also if you want hardcopies, you have the option to order prints or custom albums through the app – for an added fee of course!

    Cozi Family OrganizerFree

    I’m all about planning and organizing, but there are some things that can be so tedious with a physical planner, that it just does not suffice. The Cozi Family Organizer is helpful if your family has a lot going on. Personally, I have found it to be necessary as our family has grown and we are all over the place during the week. You can create to-do lists, shopping lists, add family member appointments and special dates using color codes to keep it easy to read. You can even designate family members involved in the activities you create in the organizer and sync all members devices to the app so they can keep track of everything themselves!

    WyzeFree, connect to camera $25.98

    So this is technically isn’t just an app – it works in conjunction with the Wyze Cam baby monitor! So while I recommend getting the app, I really mean the baby monitor for this one. We have used ours at family and friends places, hotels and even replaced our overpriced baby monitor with the Wzye Cam. Not only is it significantly cheaper, the photo quality is top-notch (1080 full HD), there is two-way audio and you are able to log-in and view the video footage from anywhere! Also – when your babies no longer need a monitor, consider using the Wyze Cam as an indoor home-security camera. You can find the Wyze Cam on Amazon here.

    Huckleberry Baby Sleep Tracker Free, in-app subscriptions offered

    With Huckleberry, you can track and monitor your baby’s sleep patterns and from there, predict their sleep schedule using expert algorithms. Huckleberry even let’s you know when baby is sleepy – but not overtired; that is a lifesaver.

    Fischer Price Laugh & LearnFree

    When your babies are a bit older, you will begin to find a tremendous amount of apps for your littles. And even though limiting screen time is very important (you can read our recent post here), there are those instances where digging out the iPhone to entertain your child is enough for you to snag some bites at a restaurant. The Fischer Price Laugh & Learn is one of my favorites because it’s educational – teaching colors, shapes and numbers through songs!

    Wonder Weeks$3.99

    Based off of the original Wonder Weeks book, the Wonder Weeks app keeps you informed about the 10 predictable and age-based “mental leaps” and bounds of your baby. Sometimes I have found myself wondering, What is going on? when my baby seems like he is not himself. With the Wonder Weeks app, I am able to refer to science-proven information about what developmental changes he might be going through.

    NetflixSubscription required starting at $8.99

    You might be scratching your head saying, “Why Netflix?”, but hear me out. There have been so many times where I needed to slip away from the crowd or find an empty room to nurse and just sat in silence. Until I started utilizing Netflix. Maternity leave provided a  lot of opportunities for sitting around and therefore left me with a good amount of time to binge a show or two; and in those moments of backseat nursing or late night rocking, Netflix proved to be really entertaining to pass the time.

    We hope these apps help you in your parenting journey, Mama! If there are any apps that you feel didn’t make the list, please share in the comments below!

    xo,

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  • Simple Practices for Positive and Balanced Screen Time

    As I am typing this, my three year old is asking to watch “baby shark” on my iphone.

    While I’m generally inclined to let him view a quick video (especially while trying to get through a meal at a restaurant, we’ve all been there!) I cringe at the way he zones in to the screen and seemingly forgets the world around him. At times, I’ve used the phrase “Come up for air!” because it’s as if it engulfs his entire existence.
    Now, I am all for educational screen time at the appropriate age and understand the benefits of quality content. I truly believe healthy habits start with limitations.
    The topic of screen time is important to me as a mother, substitute teacher, lover of the outdoors and general believer in readying our youth for success. Physical activity and real-life interactions are pertinent to our children’s emotional wellbeing, learning and development which is why I’m a huge proponent for putting down the tablet and opting outside.
    While attempting to find ways to limit tech usage, I came across a few simple practices for positive and balanced screen time that I plan to implement in our household and figured why not share on the blog, along with some great information regarding healthy screen time habits.

    First lets define screen time:

    Screen time is the time one spends watching TV or DVDs, using computers, playing video or hand-held games, or using tablets or smartphones. In its best form, screen time enhances learning abilities, increases self instruction, entertains, captures memories and increases access to reading material. The downside is that too much screen time can lead to lack of physical activity, less social interaction, weaker emotional bonds, exposure to extreme content, and lower attention capacity.

    The latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that:

    • children under 18 months should avoid screen time, other than video-chatting
    • children aged 18 months to 2 years can watch or use high-quality programs or apps if adults watch or play with them to help them understand what they’re seeing
    • children aged 2-5 years should have no more than one hour a day of screen time with adults watching or playing with them
    • children aged 6 years and older should have consistent limits on the time they spend on electronic media and the types of media they use.

    In addition to the guidelines above, the AAP also recommends designating media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, and ongoing communication between parent and child about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.

    To learn more, click here.

    The graphic below can be used as a screen time regulator, a method for setting limitations, and a way to promote other activities critical to child development.

    The awesome part about this method is that you can customize it to what works for your family. It would be frivolous to think that there is a ‘one size fits all’ solution to monitoring screen time, like most parental challenges. Find a balance that works for you!

    Simple Practices for Positive and Balanced Screen Time

    • Set NO TECH ZONES in your home. A good place to start is the dinner table.
    • UNPLUG once a month with the entire family. Pick out a board game or go for a hike!
    • Set DESIGNATED TIMES allocated for screen time.
    • Provide STIMULATING ALTERNATIVES to screen time. Sensory bins, arts and crafts or baking!
    • EDUCATE your children on the negative aspects of too much screen time and why limitations are important.
    • MONITOR screen time usage and have a discussion about media literacy.

    Love it or hate it, technology is an integral part of our everyday human experience. There are positives and negatives to the fact that we rely so much on our devices. What we can control is the quality and amount of online content we are consuming and the impact of screen time on our littles. Thanks for reading!

    Looking for more child safety tips? Catch up on our 5 Bath Safety Tips Every Parent Should Read

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  • 5 Bath Safety Tips Every Parent Should Read

    Did you know that January is National Bath Safety Month? I was oblivious to this observance until I came across an article about the prevalence of bathtub drownings and prevention, and I felt compelled to spread awareness. Drowning is a leading cause of death in children, including toddlers and infants, and most incidents with infants occur in bathtubs and buckets. It only takes an inch of water for a child to drown and a matter of seconds. It’s easy to forget that such an everyday activity poses a danger to our children, and for this reason it is vital to stay diligent in practicing bath safety. We’ve included our favorite bathtub items below, but first, here are 5 bath safety tips every parent should read to keep your kids uninjured and out of harm’s way.

    Here are 5 bath safety tips every parent should read to keep your kids uninjured and out of harm’s way.

    Supervision

    Young children should never, under any circumstance, be left unattended in a bathtub. Bottom line, if you need to leave the bathroom for any reason grab a towel and bring them with you. Remember, it only takes an inch of water for drowning to occur. While bathtub appliances such as seats are rings are helpful, do not rely on them to prevent drowning. These devices can provide a false sense of security leaving a child vulnerable to submersion. Prepare ahead of time and make sure to have any and all items you will need (soap, washcloth, toys, etc) within arms reach before starting the bath.

    Drain the Tub

    This one is pretty simple yet easily overlooked. Never leave water in a bathtub while it is not in use. The same goes for mopping buckets and sinks; drain them immediately after use. All it takes is a curious, wandering toddler to find their way to an open water source for tragedy to occur.

    Temperature

    To prevent scalding, adjust your water heater so the hottest temperature at the faucet is no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Test the water with your wrist or elbow to check that it feels warm, not hot. If you notice your child’s skin turning red test again. When your child is old enough to turn the faucets, teach him to start the cold water before the hot. If you feel you need a better gauge, there are baby-tubs on the market that provide the water temperature for you.

    Slips and Falls

    Install no-slip grips on the floor of the bathtub. Put a padded cover over the faucet so your child won’t be hurt if he bumps his head against it. Place a rug or towel on the ground just outside of the tub for when it’s time to get out. Get in the habit of closing the lid of the toilet and/or install a toilet lid lock. A curious toddler who tries to play in the water can lose his balance and accidentally fall in.

    Additional Bathroom Safety

    Medicine and toiletry storage: Keep all medications in containers with safety caps. Remember, however, that these caps are child-resistant, not childproof, so storing medications and cosmetics up high and out of reach of little hands in a locked cabinet is ideal.

    Electric appliances: If you use electrical appliances in the bathroom (particularly hair dryers and razors) be sure to unplug them and store them in a cabinet with a safety lock when they aren’t in use. If possible, install special bathroom wall sockets (ground-fault circuit interrupters) that lessen the likelihood of electric shock when an appliance comes in contact with water.

    Our Favorite Bathroom Items


    4Moms Spout Cover

    Built-in thermometer with a color-coded display
    Made with foam to prevent bumps and bruises caused by hitting the faucet
    Mildew-resistant design

     


    Blooming Bath Lotus Baby Bath

    Great alternative to traditional baby bath tubs
    Super soft and cuddly to keep baby happy and comfortable during bath time
    Four petal design fits sinks optimally
    Recommended for infants 0 to 6 month

     

    Simple Lines Bathtub Animal Toys (Mold Free)

    Soft and light and also good for sensory and motor stimulation.
    Safe and nontoxic: PVC free and BPA free which means no yucky mold and mildew concerns or chemical smell
    Mesh Net Organizer Storage Bag included which allows animals to quickly and easily dry
    Machine Washable

     

    Magnetic Child Safety Cabinet Locks

    Quick Easy installation with no drilling, no mess and no handyman required
    Invisible magnetic locks hidden from view for everybody
    The extra strong magnets are designed to prevent smart toddlers or friends from opening a cabinet lock or drawers

    Did you find this article helpful? Find other products we love! Check out this Dockatot Product Review.

     

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