Sarah Jackson
Beyond Perfect
Yep. Here we are with another issue of Minnesota Parent, still kicking, still humming right along, in fact, despite “all that’s been going on.”Though our issues have become bi-monthly — that’s every other month — due to the economic environment caused by COVID-19, we’re delighted to present to you our latest work.Despite the fact that I accepted another job back in May, I’ve stuck around as interim editor because I just can’t quit this wonderful gig — not when I... more
Hope machine
When the Okee Dokee Brothers created their fifth album, they didn’t know COVID-19 was coming. And George Floyd wasn’t a household name.And yet many of the songs on their magnificent new double-CD set — Songs for Singin’ — seem fully aware that not everything is okee dokee in America.For the first time ever since winning a... more
Personalized planners
Who knew planners could be this fun, this beautiful? Even if your schedule is a bit up in the air, you’ll find serenity and joy in these gorgeous works of art, including options for kids and adults — and teacher lesson planners, too.$30 and up • more
Squeaky shoes
Encourage proper heel-to-toe walking (no more tippy-toe steps) with these adorable ice cream cone sandals from Wee Squeak Shoes. They squeak with every step and come in tons of other styles for boys and girls. Rest easy: They come with optional silencing plugs for quiet • $36 more
Celebrating differences
Leslie Pitt’s life changed forever on her first day of summer vacation when she was 6 years old.After playing with her best friend, she hopped onto her bike for a short ride. But on the way home, she was struck by a dump truck. The impact completely crushed her left leg, forcing it to be amputated.Instead of looking back on that day with... more
Get fresh-faced with new masks!
Mask-wearing is likely to be a way of life for a long time, so you may as well stock up on the reusable kind, right?We’re loving the 100% cotton Leopard Print Mix & Match eight-pack ($35) from Petunia Pickle Bottom, with sizes for adults, plus smaller ones designed for ages 3 and older. Known for its beloved diaper bags and baby... more
Getting creative in captivity
See frolicking farm babies: Lift your spirits for real with videos of adorable baby animals set to cheerful music, courtesy of the Minnesota Zoo. Your kids will love the time-lapse videos, including a chick hatching, and animal story times, especially the hilarious goat one.Work out for free: The YMCA is offering free-for-all... more
Childproofing locks
With these simple, strong latches, families can secure doors (including in-swing and out-swing exterior doors), patio sliders, windows, cupboards and even • $19.99-$29.95 more
Pants for crawlers
Minneapolis mama of two Emily Norling has invented baby pants and shorts — RubyScootz — with waterproof panels to keep Baby’s bottom and knees clean and dry while playing outdoors. All-day tough and beyond adorable? Genius!$20–$30 • more
Got a kid who hates bath time?A Minnesota mom is offering handmade bubble bath bombs — with toys inside — to entice kids or just make bath time extra special with her growing business, Two Sisters Spa.Amanda Royer, who lives in Eden Prairie with her husband and two daughters, founded the company in 2013 after her homemade bath... more
This is goodbye!
Alas, the time has come: After six years of serving as editor of Minnesota Parent, I’m heading to a new job at an amazing local company.When I started in this role, my son was just 5 years old, halfway through his kindergarten year.Now, he’s set to enter junior high — seventh-grade! — this fall. As he moves onto a new... more
Coloring contest winners!
Congrats to our #coloringathome contest WINNERS (who won our grand prizes)!FIRST PLACE: Scarlet, 9, of Arden HillsSECOND PLACE: Carter, 10, of WoodburyTHIRD PLACE: Brianna, 10, of CentervilleAND ... congrats to our #coloringathome contest's HONORABLE MENTIONS, featuring some of our youngest entrants (who won some neat... more
An autism story for kids
Sheletta Brundidge — a Cottage Grove mother of four children, including three on the autism spectrum — has been a tireless advocate for families facing special needs over the years.And now Brundidge, a Twin Cities comedian and Emmy-winning broadcaster, has written a new children’s book.Cameron Goes to School, inspired by her daughter’s... more
Parenting during a pandemic
Who was it that posted that very first school’s-closed-here’s-what-to-do-at-home schedule? You know, the one that had you getting up at 6 a.m., followed by 7 a.m. breakfast, 8 a.m. dressing, teeth-brushing and chores and one hour of reading at 9 a.m. and on and on it went with enrichment in every aspect of academic and social life.Are... more
Boredom busters!
Big news, parents: We’re doing a “boredom busters” giveaway — with a super-fabulous prize pack of toys (a retail value of $130), to keep your cooped-up kids active and engaged!To enter, email us a photo of your kid(s) keeping busy at home (playing, doing homework, reading for fun — anything other than screen time) to more
Go bananas!
Now’s the time for comfort food. This banana bread relies on a few twists — oil instead of butter, half whole-wheat flour (which imparts a nutty goodness) and an exact measure of banana mash, just 1 cup!  INGREDIENTS3/4 cups white flour3/4 cups whole wheat flour1/4 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon... more
Where to find us during COVID-19!
During normal times, you can find Minnesota Parent at more than 1,000 free rack sites in the Twin Cities. Unlike newsstand magazines, our copies are always free — unless you want them mailed to your home every month. (That costs $18 a year.)During the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, we’re actually still delivering copies at... more
Welcome aboard!
You’re pregnant! Congrats! This is going to big. I mean, it’s going to HUGE.If you’ve never had a child before, it’s hard to know what it’s really like to be a parent.Like a kid standing below a roller coaster — as its little train of cars twists, turns and plunges oh-so- high above you — you can only imagine what it’s like to ride that... more
Matching puzzles
Darling beyond belief, this set of 12 Match the Buddies puzzles ($16.99, above) includes a variety of 4x7-inch animal match-ups made just for little hands.We love Banana Panda’s entire line of tough, durable products, including the high-contrast flash cards (below) on a handy ring for ages newborn and up ($13.99) more
Healthful recipes
My Sugar Free Baby and Me — by registered dietician and British mother of two Sarah Schenker — guides you from weaning to family dinners with meals that do double duty. Each recipe delivers something that’s safe for infants (avocado puree, for example) alongside a dish that’s palatable for parents (chicken avocado wrap) — all... more
A book about life after baby
Dr. Erin Stevens (above with a uterus tatoo!) isn’t just a regular Minnesota Parent contributor: She’s also an award-winning OBGYN and an advocate for legislation to support women’s reproductive health care.And now she’s adding another title to her resume: Author.This month local publisher Wise Ink will release her new... more
Count the kicks!
Every year in the U.S., 24,000 babies are stillborn, according to the CDC. That’s about 1 in 100 babies lost after the 20th week of pregnancy.One part of the problem is that mothers don’t always notice when baby movement patterns unexpectedly change or decline, especially later in pregnancy.Though some mothers are encouraged by their... more
Gummy vitamins
Who knows what really works in the world of supplements, but we’ve been loving these SmartyPants multivitamins with fish oil, probiotics and methylfolate. They taste great, you can spread them out across the day (the dose is six gummies per day) and you can get them on Subscribe & Save from Amazon (at pricing similar to Costco). And... more
Bath floaties
These playful Tub Buddies, which feature adorably mischievous facial expressions, are easy for little hands to grab. Each character (fish, crab and jellyfish) makes a pleasing rattle sound when shaken and the holes in the top and bottom can be used for straining water, too!$10.99 • more
Letting them fly
My son’s father recently suggested that our boy, age 11, fly to Washington, D.C., to see his grandmother on a solo trip this summer.After all, my son’s dad had flown alone as a child — starting at age 5! — to visit his relatives. And my son’s grandmother had sent her sons off to fly as minors as well. It’s actually not that... more
Booster seats under fire
Is your child’s car seat installed correctly? Is your kid big enough to be using the type of seat he’s in right now? How much protection can child seats really provide in a serious crash?These are questions you might be asking yourself if you read the article last month about child booster seats by ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom... more
Pull-along toy
The TwissBits Wagon features cute little “bits” that twist and turn like they’re dancing as the wagon moves along. Our toy-tester tots loved dragging this thing around and playing with its other features, too, including pivoting storage slots (on one side of the pull bar) and a sideways sliding board for the bits (on the other).$39.95 •... more
Steak night
Need a stay-at-home Valentine’s Day meal? Splurge on some ribeye or filet. Put the kids to bed early. And get ready to fall in love with this recipe. No grill required — though you do need a cast-iron skillet! INGREDIENTS1 cast-iron skillet1 pound or more ribeye or filet mignon steaks, ideally 1½-inch-thick cuts 2 ... more
Poster project
Craft-Tastic has done it again with another cool new art kit: The Empower Poster for ages 8 and up gets kids to design, create and display a one-of-a-kind inspirational piece — custom-made to highlight their identities, strengths and self-worth.$19.99 • more
Worry. Fear. Anxiety. Self-doubt. Exhaustion.Why are these so often the badges of modern parenting? It’s because we care so much. Oh my god, we love them so much. Wearing these badges doesn’t feel like a choice to me. And I’m a relatively seasoned parent to an 11-year-old son.Yes, even now, when I drop him off at school, I can... more
Good scents crafted by a local mama
Several years ago, Lauren VanScoy suffered major stress and anxiety after the birth of her daughter. It came on suddenly. After a diagnosis of depression that manifested itself as anxiety, her doctor prescribed medication.“But I knew I eventually wanted to try more natural ways of dealing with my situation,” VanScoy said. That... more
A new doula duo!
Best friends Kelley Larson and Rachel Kurtz are both moms (with three kiddos each) and longtime Minneapolis musicians. But guess what else they are? Postpartum care professionals! (They’re working on getting their official postpartum doula certifications this year.) Their new Twin Cities business, After the Baby Bump Postpartum... more
Stroller rocker
Does your bebe wake up as soon as the stroller stops moving? Meet the Rockit. Designed by an engineer father, it attaches with a special bracket to a stroller to maintain that side-to-side jostling movement babies love.$39.99 • more
A postpartum care registry
Baby showers are fun celebrations. They also help outfit babies with clothes, gear and more from trusted friends and family. But stuff isn’t what parents need most after the birth of a baby. What mothers and fathers really need is in-home support. And how can they get that?Well, thanks to Marabou Services — founded by Twin... more
Party boxes!
Planning an Instagram-worthy birthday party — even when we're not in the age of social distancing — isn't easy. Enter Sprinkles & Confetti, the brainchild of Minnesota mama Jackie Walter, whose online party supply business is now offering right-sized Party in Place Boxes; custom banners and yard signs for various... more
A grateful 2020
A friend of mine, who has an equally dark sense of humor, recently recommended I download an app called WeCroak. It’s “The App That Reminds You You’re Going to Die,” according to The Atlantic.Inspired by a Bhutanese folk saying — “to be a happy person, one must contemplate death five times daily” — it indeed does notify you of this... more
Porsche puzzle
It’s a puzzle that actually drives! This new 3D jigsaw — one of many 3D options from Ravensburger — is a 1:18 scale model of the Porsche 911 R. Geared toward ages 10 and up — but suitable for younger kids with help — it comes together, 108 pieces in all, in numerical order on a sturdy base with working wheels. Cool!$29.99 • ravensburger.... more
Eat clean!
This flavor-packed puree isn’t just good for you: It’s based on a recipe from the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where writers of the 1920s hung out at their famed round table, trading quips. When you make the soup a little thicker, it doubles as a gourmet first food for babies — and a healthy lunch for you and yours. ... more
Prank pillow
Finally, a self-inflating Whoopee Cushion! Its auto-inflation isn’t just convenient, it’s also a way for your kids to NOT spread germs while greatly appreciating realistic, but fake flatulence. Stocking stuffer?$5.99 • The Owl and the Octopus, Wayzata more
Singing books
Cali’s Singing Board Books, geared toward ages 6 and up, is now offering seasonal titles. Jingle Bells features samples of six holiday songs (including I Had a Little Dreidel), while The Nutcracker features six samples from Tchaikovsky. Both offer impressive sound quality — and vaguely British accents!$14.99 •... more
The Bakken will take a sabbatical
The Bakken Museum on the shores of Bde Maka Ska is planning a six-month construction project to bring in new science exhibits — and a lakefront entrance (artist rendering pictured) — to its 44-year-old campus.Renovations will also add modernized classroom space and improved accessibility to the museum, established in 1975 by Medtronic co... more
A fresh-cut Christmas
If you’ve ever gone berry picking, pumpkin patching or apple harvesting, you know how fun it can be to visit a local farm in spring, summer and fall. But did you know you could venture out to local farms even in winter? Yep! Minnesota boasts numerous U-cut tree farms for families who want to choose and cut their very own... more
Winter joy!
Parenting, in many ways, is a bit of a surrender. Resistance is futile. There’s no turning back, no matter how hard it gets. But once you give in, well, that’s when the fun starts. You learn to embrace the journey, the chaos, the humor of child-rearing. Winter, once you’ve chosen to make Minnesota your home, is kind of the... more
Top priorities
I was standing in my kitchen on a Saturday with 1,000 things to do and just a few hours to go before I had to leave on a three-day trip. I was feeling overwhelmed, torn as always, about what to choose and what to let fall way.I had a head full of things I wanted to do, things I had to do and things I dreamed of doing — and they... more
Snuggle up for a cause
These pajamas aren’t just adorable and created by a local mother.They’re also jammies for a good cause. Leela Rao founded Pajamas with Love in memory of her daughter, Priyanka, who lost her battle with childhood leukemia at age 8 after four years in and out of the hospital.“While she was going through years of treatment, she insisted on... more
Twin Cities toy stores!
Sure, you can find a lot of the toys on our list online, but supporting local stores — and discovering the true wealth of toy options in person — is well worth it!  ABC & Toy Zone, Chanhassen and RochesterAir Traffic Kites and Games, MOA, Roseville and MinnetonkaBuyBuy Baby, WoodburyChoo Choo Bob’s Train Store, St.... more
Cookies for life
Making rollout cookies takes a bit of extra work. But these gems, which I bake with my son every December, are so worth it. With the double whammy of vanilla and almond flavoring — in the dough and in the icing — they’re so good: I swear you’ll want to make them every year.Aunt Marilyn’s Sugar ThinsCOOKIES½ cup butter, softened1 cup... more
Reusable art toy
So many art kits are “one and done.” But this one — Crayola’s Scribble Scrubbie Pets Beauty Salon — comes with two pets you can color and then clean with a little bathtub, spray bottle and brush.  And then you can do it all again!$14.99 • more
Hands-free teether
Put an end to pacifier chewing with the Molar Muncher. Invented by a mother of two, this silicone chewie soothes the entire gumline to relieve the pain kids get when they start cutting their molars, typically around age 1.$9.99 • more
Shop local!
Welcome, parents, to our annual Toy Issue, our official holiday gift guide, our map to all the things, sorted by age from baby to tween.This year, we’ve got quite a crop of gift ideas for you, a whopping 49 toys, 12 games and 6 stocking stuffers, all tested and approved by kids, parents and even a few grandparents — as part of our 10th-... more
Stocking stuffers!
These small but mighty gifts will delight and amaze parents and kids alike. Promise.Schylling Snow Ball  $3.99 • 3 and upWhy we love it: Squeeze this super-flexible, totally durable ball and you’ll gasp in wonder at how reminiscent it is of real crunchy snow. Our kids loved it. We think it also would make a fun holiday gift for... more
Games for kids (and adults)!
Revolt against screen time and learn something new as a family — as you spend quality time together — with these game-night gems.Snail Sprint$29.99 • 5 and upWhy we love it: Ready to graduate from Candy Land? This is a best bet, thanks to magnetic snails and an innovative game path that goes up and over a metal storage tin. Players draw... more
All the toys!
We’re on TV! This year KARE 11 hosted — and filmed! — our 2019 toy test at the TV station’s Golden Valley studios. Be sure to tune in to KARE 11 Sunrise with Gia Vang from 6–7 a.m. Nov. 4–12 to see interviews with parents and kids and tons of testing action, too!Looking for our top-rated board games? (They're here!) Stocking... more
A Koo Koo giveaway!
In celebration of the latest single releases from Koo Koo Kanga Roo — Glitter, a hilarious anthem about the controversial craft staple, and Hot Sauce, a funky little hip-hop ditty — we’re giving away four tickets (a $72 value) to an all-ages Koo Koo show at 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.Our grand prize winner... more
Grief care packages
When a loved one is grieving, finding the right thing to say or do can be stressful and frustrating. It can leave you feeling helpless, riddled with guilt or both. Fortunately, Catherine Hinz — a St. Paul mom who’s been through heartbreak of her own — has come up with a comforting and beautiful solution: Her new business,... more
Jigsaws with a twist
If your kids love puzzles, be sure to check out PuzzleTwist, offering many jigsaws with Minnesota-specific art —such as local city skylines, Paisley Park, the waterfront in Duluth, Babe the Blue Ox and even the Boundary Waters, to name a few. Bonus: Many of the puzzles come “with a twist,” in which the puzzle in the box is different from... more
Best buddies
Reinforce your tot’s nighttime routine with a quick bedtime story, followed by a ceremonial “tucking in” of six animals into the six plush pockets of this mini blanket, dubbed the Bright Basics Snuggly.$21.99 • more
Art cards
These 5x7, rounded-edge prints, which come in a variety of sets, six cards each, feature black and white repeating shapes that form whimsical animals to transform your bebe’s crib into a high-contrast gallery.$12.95 • more
Peer-to-peer help for parents!
Parenting is hard. Really hard. But when you have a child with a disability or complex health-care needs, your family will face challenges that not everyone can understand.Thanks to Family Voices of Minnesota, however, help is on the way.This local nonprofit organization operates CONNECTED, a free, state-wide parent-to-parent peer-... more
Fundraising gold!
We like wrapping paper and cookie dough from our kids’ fundraisers as much as the next person. But you know what would be more fun? Some cool, local products!Fortunately, this fundraising overhaul is already underway in Minnesota, thanks to two local moms — A.J. Zimmer and Gina Moore (pictured) of Maple Grove and Apple Valley,... more
Voices of color
Have you seen the billboards? The ones that say: “Minnesota schools are worst in the nation for our children of color”? As I write this Education Issue opening note, I can’t stop thinking about those signs.In fact, I was about to chime cheerily about the incredible amount of school choices we have in our fair state — as seen in two... more
Top ramen!
Can’t get the kids to eat broccoli? Try this crunchy-noodle slaw! Let them bash the noodles and then watch them devour the final dish. Double this recipe for a party and you’ll be a hero.Crunchy broccoli slaw1 package Oriental-flavored ramen noodle soup (3 ounces; other flavors work, too)2 tablespoons butter2 tablespoons vegetable... more
Insect-bite remedy
The Bug Bite Thing, a new suction tool created by a Florida mom, is getting rave reviews for its ability to relieve itching and swelling by drawing out venom and other irritants. We found it works best immediately after a bite, but can be effective days later, too. Even if it’s not a silver bullet for your kid, you’ll certainly have an... more
Crinkle chews
Get your kid started on fresh foods early with these impossibly cute Crinkle Blankies — and stroller toys, too — made to look like carrots, radishes, peppers, watermelon slices, strawberries and more. $9–$18 • more
Meals for kids!
During the spring of 2010, the staff at Sheridan Elementary in Northeast Minneapolis discovered a problem: Students were hoarding food from the cafeteria on Fridays. Why?At the time, more than 90 percent of students at Sheridan were receiving free or reduced-price lunches, and it turned out that many students were... more
What to expect
When a woman is pregnant, we say she’s “expecting” — because yes, when you’re with child, you’d better be ready! That baby is coming! And a lot will be expected of you, your body and your family.When I was pregnant, I religiously read the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. (There’s that word again.)Yes, it was fun, discovering... more
3 backpacks we love!
Bioworld’s Little & Big Girls Minnie Mouse Backpack features, of course, adorable shiny ears, a cute polka dot bow, a signature from Minnie herself and even a fuzz-ball zipper pull with its own little fur ears and another red bow. $40, macys.comThe Charlie Backpack by Perry Mackin mixes messenger-bag style with backpack... more
A new local book
Daisy Finds Her Pack is the perfect back-to-school book for early elementary kids (or even preschoolers) because it 1) features adorable dogs; 2) celebrates the subtle art of making friends and gaining social skills; 3) it’s a project by not one, but two Minnesota Parent sales reps, author Kathie Smith and illustrator Michele Gillman.... more
Less is more
Is summer drawing to a close?If the State Fair is nearly here and Target has been selling Crayola products for weeks, I guess it is. I ask you, as I do every year, where did it all go? How did it go by so fast?And isn’t that just the perfect metaphor for parenting?And then there’s the way that summer ends — a too-soon-in-coming... more
A safer swim cap
Head injuries are a real issue in the pool, especially in competitive swimming. Fortunately, a Twin Cities company is working to change that locally — and around the world — with its revolutionary Hammer Head Swim Caps, which have recently received a slew of endorsements, including a nod from the American Swimming Coaches... more
Pop-up parties
Stuck trying to think of a fun birthday party plan for your tot?Then check out Tyke Invite, a new pop-up play service founded by Minnesota mom Angel Carroll. Based in Eagan, Tyke Invite rents soft-play equipment geared toward infants, toddlers and preschoolers up to age 5. We’re talking tike-sized play modules, foam flooring,... more
Happy hours for parents
Your schedule is clear. The sitter is booked. You finally have a night set aside for a date. Yay for couple time! But who has the energy to come up with a cool place to go that won’t cost an arm and leg? We do!Don’t pressure yourself to find the perfect restaurant. Instead opt for a happy hour!  Skip the table and sit at the... more
Bath toy
This magnetic fishing rod set from Munchkin features floating characters kids can catch with a bobber. Best of all, the little creatures are air-tight “to limit mold and mildew.” Win! $8.99 • more
Free eats for kids
Summer can be a tough time for food-insecure children. In fact, nearly half a million children, ages birth to 18, are at risk of hunger in Minnesota.Fortunately, Summer Eats Minnesota, a free mobile app, is in its third summer of operation, helping kids find free meals at neighborhood sites, offering breakfast, lunch, snacks and/or... more
A new indoor play space!
Where can you beat the heat with little ones this summer? Answer: The MiniSota Play Cafe in Champlin, founded by a local mother of two!  Here parents can sip cups of bottomless Peace Coffee ($3) while the kids explore “Minnesota in miniature,” including the City of Mini Grove — complete with a grocery store, hardware shop, hair... more
A foodie’s paradise
We did it, guys: We published our first-ever Local Eats issue of Minnesota Parent! We’re so delighted to bring you this fun little romp through the Twin Cities food scene. Of course, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available in our local culinary mecca, which has been basking in James Beard awards and national-media... more
Sweet sensation
We love lavender lemonade! This refreshingly floral spin on a classic summer drink tastes lovely, looks pretty and — because this recipe doesn’t overdo the lavender — it’s kid-friendly, too! Find culinary lavender at Penzeys Spices in Minneapolis, St. Paul or Lakeville (in stores only) or at more
Kid maps
GeoJango Maps creates U.S. and world travel maps, including gorgeous, customizable variations specifically geared toward children. We especially like the soft-colored world edition for decorating a kid’s room. Even the basic version comes framed with satiny photo paper mounted on a high-quality pin • $99 more
Mother-baby program to expand!
One of the most persistent myths of motherhood is that it’s the happiest time in every woman’s life. For some, having a baby is actually a time of isolation and despair.Here’s the good news: Hennepin Healthcare in downtown Minneapolis is dramatically expanding its Mother-Baby Program by creating the Redleaf Center for Family Healing... more
A toast to dads
Minnesota is home to many moms’ groups, both virtual and in real life.Groups just for dads, however, are in shorter supply. And yet fathers today, according to 2016 data from the Pew Research Center, are spending triple the amount of time parenting compared to the dads of the 1960s. (Mothers have seen a profound increase in their... more
Book that campsite now!
Welcome to our annual Outdoors Issue! As I write this, we’re in the middle of a fairly wet and cold spring in Minnesota. But fear not! This month’s magazine is designed to inspire you to jump into summer and the Great Outdoors with everything you’ve got. We’ve got parks for picnics and playdates; three Minnesota road trips; a... more
A waterfront retreat
If you’ve lived in Minnesota long enough, you’ve probably heard of or been to the Brainerd Lakes area. This summer hotspot two hours north of the Twin Cities is known for its many family-friendly resorts such as Madden’s, Cragun’s and Grandview Lodge, all on Gull Lake. We just discovered another destination that’s... more
New board game!
If you’re tired of checkers and chess, check out Chickapig, geared toward ages 8 and up.Its laser-cut birch plywood pieces — chicken-pigs, hay bales and a pooping cow — make for a refreshing change of pace in a market filled with plastic.This challenging but fun strategy game — apparently endorsed by musician Dave Matthews —... more
Play things!
Are you setting up a baby registry right now? Put down that scan gun and check out Lovevery, a new Idaho-based company offering Montessori-friendly, neuroscientist-endorsed play kits. We can’t get over the gorgeous wooden rattle, the play socks (with tabs your baby can pull) or the magic tissue box. Lovevery — founded by Minnesota native... more
On-demand care!
It’s healthy for parents to take breaks from child rearing, especially when the parents involved have children with special needs. However, simply jumping on a babysitter app or care site doesn’t work for families who require specialized, on-demand care.Fortunately, two Minnesota moms have created a first-of-its-kind disability care... more
A therapeutic video game
Dolly Lowery couldn’t take it anymore. The Excelsior mom had spent 10 years taking her son to more than 1,200 appointments to treat his severe dyslexia — and nothing was really working.So she made it her mission to find her own solution. During her research, she met a Florida-based physician, Dr. Nelson Mane, who specializes in... more
All of us
Welcome, parents and all, to our third-annual Special Needs Issue! I’m so glad you’re here. And I’m delighted that, three years ago, we decided to build an issue around this theme. Although not every story in this month’s magazine touches on special needs, our focus on this topic has been an amazing learning experience for our... more
Family poster kit
If your family is into crafting, you might consider the Craft-tastic Make Together “Who We Are” Poster Kit from Ann Williams. Families choose from three different designs, cut out the words that describe their family and decoupage them however they choose on the poster. $19.99 • more
Organic goods
Vivaiodays — a new sustainable organic baby care brand — is using old-world remedies to create diaper balms, lotions, sunscreen, no-tears shampoos and more. Inspired by recipes from countries around the world, these products rely on natural ingredients like turmeric paste, apricot oil, cucumber water and rose geranium leaves.... more
A maternity board book for parents
Need a gift for that upcoming baby shower? Or maybe something fun for your pregnant self? Check out the brand-new, soon-to-be-classic: The Fruits of Your Labor: A Baby-Sized Guide To Your Baby’s Size.This 72-page, 6-by-6-inch board book begins with a sweet pea and continues to a watermelon. Each week of pregnancy is documented with... more
An app for peace of mind
When you’re a parent — and you’re away from your kid a lot — it’s not easy to turn off your phone. What if there’s an emergency and your child really needs you?On the other hand, research shows that an always-on mentality isn’t healthy.Will you really gain all the benefits of that massage, yoga class or date night if you’ve got one eye... more
Birth without fear?
Parents and parents-to-be: Welcome to our annual Maternity Issue!I’m so glad you’re reading this magazine. It’s filled with stories about the amazing phenomenon we call pregnancy as well as the miracle of birth. But to tell you the truth, I’m a bit conflicted about this issue, too. You wouldn’t believe how many stories we... more
Letter toys
Some toys start with your kids in toddlerhood and continue to be engaging for a surprising number of years. Alpha-Bots, which transform from letters into chunky beady-eyed robots, fit that bill for our resident toy tester, who loved them as a tot and still enjoys them at age 10½! • $29.99 more
Baby gates
Fusion Gate systems can help you protect kids — and corral pets — without the typical caged look of other gates, all thanks to an interchangeable art screen system that accommodates numerous styles in widths ranging from 32 to 74 • $199–$429 more
Bowling for a cause
Brain tumors, malignant or benign, can strike anyone at any age without reason, and there are really no precautions people can take to prevent them.That’s the strange and frustrating thing about brain tumors, said Stacy Zwerdling of Lakeville who was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor (when her son was 10 months old) and miraculously... more
Coaches needed!
Girls on the Run Twin Cities started seven years ago with just 24 girls, six coaches and two sites. Today — due to high demand for physical-activity-based youth development for girls — GOTR has grown to more than 3,000 girls at 200 Minnesota sites.And that means the program is in need of more volunteer coaches — 850 to be exact... more
Summer is coming
As I write this, the Twin Cities is yet again under siege — the snowy kind — with an inch or more falling per hour. Roads are only just passable. Schools, of course, are cancelled. My son is parked in front of his device, playing Fortnite with his other school friends, who are (thank goodness for me) doing the same. Right... more
Happiness guide
Self-help guru Gretchen Rubin — in Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness, coming out March 5 — shares the tale of her year spent searching for satisfaction and then translates her findings into more than 150 short, clutter-clearing ideas you can use a la carte to conquer concrete... more
Bath toys
This Bright Basics Slide & Splash Spouts set brings the fun of marble tracks into the tub! Kids can create customized courses — not just for water but also an Itsy Bitsy Spider ball — using suction-cup pipes and a spinner, a sprinkler cloud and a sun cup. And all the pieces store easily and dry quickly in the included mesh bag.$19.99... more
Must-read book
If you’re going to have a baby, especially your first (but also subsequent children), we highly recommend this incredibly smart book — What No One Tells You: A Guide to Your Emotions From Pregnancy to Motherhood — coming out on April 23. It’s authored by two reproductive psychiatrists (medical doctors who specialize in helping... more
Green up your Easter
When you’re a parent, it’s hard to avoid the copious amounts of plastic that come into your life, especially during holidays.This year for Easter, however, we’ve found a way to help you green things up a bit.Meet Eco Eggs! These reusable eggs are made from 100 percent renewable plant-based ingredients — not petroleum, like traditional... more
New music classes
Music education has been proven to be beneficial for child development. Plus, it’s fun!And now, adding to the wide array of classes available locally, three different music-learning centers in the Twin Cities are offering two new programs — Canta y Baila Conmigo (a Spanish-immersion music class for ages birth to 5) and ... more
A costly choice
Choosing someone to care for your child is one of the biggest decisions you can make as a parent.It’s a step in the parenting journey that creates the very beginning of your for-hire village. For me, choosing childcare wasn’t just about the excruciating decision to choose long stretches of time away from my child, which I knew would... more
Local date-night steals!
Kids can take a toll on a marriage. And that makes time to really connect — and be away from the kids — extremely important.But is Valentine’s Day the best time to do that? We think … not. Restaurants are busy (if not booked) and menus are often fixed price / prix fixe — and pricier.We recommend you check out these date nights that won’t... more
Cool new game
Shadows in the Forest, according to one of our toy-testing mamas, is a board game winner! “It says ages 8 and up, but Kira is 5, and she was able to roll the (glow-in-the-dark) dice and count the spaces to move. The rest of us were shadows — the strategic part.” You simply work as a team to hide adorable “shadowling” figures in the... more
Not for nothing
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Oh, how true, how true! As a Type A gal, this is one of the most challenging parts of parenting for me: Here’s this amazing little guy who I love so dearly, and I can’t and shouldn’t protect him (... more
Pony Cycle
Part bicycle, part rocking horse, this steerable stuffed steed on wheels is a minor marvel of physics. Kids simply push up and down on a stirrup platform to giddy up. Yes, it can even be used indoors. Sizes include small (ages 3–5 up to 55 pounds) and medium (ages 4–9 up to 88 pounds). Heads up: There aren’t any brakes, so it’s best used... more
Musical activities
Emily Ireland, who owns Brighter Minds Music in south Minneapolis, has a published a book for new parents — Brighter Baby: 60+ Fun Musical Activities for You and Your Baby to Do Together. Written to encourage parent-child bonding, this book also helps parents relive beloved early childhood music and provides brain-boosting activities for... more
A new local milk bank
The Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies — the first facility of its kind in the state — is set to open sometime in the next few months in Golden Valley. Currently, the closest milk banks are in Iowa and Illinois. But with a new bank open locally, Minnesota mothers’ donated milk won’t need to be shipped out of state for... more
Meet The Potty Fairy!
When it comes to potty training, a little imagination can go a long way.So says Lino Lakes author Mary Pap, a longtime Minnesota educator and mother of four, whose book — The Potty Fairy — relies on the powers of magical fairies to help make the toileting process exciting and fun for boys and girls. In addition to the book (... more
Travel without fear
Before I had a child, I didn’t realize what a privilege it was to travel freely as an adult — without the need to care for another human.With kids, travel changes: You need a diaper bag filled with extra clothes for poopsplosions and you need to be ready to nurse or provide formula and/or snacks. Instead of being the airline... more
Looking for God
Spirituality can be one of the toughest things to discuss with kids because so much of faith comes from the heart. These selections — though they don’t represent the intricacies of the world’s many religions — are a good place to start. “Grandma, does God live in the city?” a boy asks one morning at breakfast. “Yes,” the matriarch... more
Toy airport
Just in case you didn’t get enough gift ideas from our November Toy Issue last month, here’s one more: Brio’s new airport with control tower isn’t just adorable and sturdy: It includes a beechwood-bottomed plane, a pilot and ground crew, a baggage elevator and a blinking traffic cone to encourage creative play.$69.99 • more
Cute cutlery
Designed for babies’ and toddlers’ natural hand grasp and motions, these ergonomic Grabease tools seem like a no-brainer for encouraging self-feeding. Why didn’t we think of this sooner? $14.50 (one fork, one spoon) more
Spend, save, give
When it comes to helping little kids learn about money management, a good place to start is by using three jars for spend, save and give. But doling out that money, week after week, year after year (especially for multiple kids) just becomes another thing to do.That is, unless you automate it with an app. Right now, we’re... more
Mama-designed jammies!
Kristie Case, a local mom and the owner of the Teeny Bee children’s boutique in St. Paul, has launched her very own line of children’s pajamas — Peregrine Kidswear. Primarily black and white and intentionally gender neutral, her adorable jammies (and infant hats) are made of eco-friendly, breathable bamboo.Case hatched her idea for... more
Project: Fun!
Help your kids discover their inner maker with these crafty gifts — just the thing for icy-cold snow days!Dodoland Dragon Kit$9.99 | 6 and upWhy we love it: A lot of the cardboard crafts on the market leave you with less-than-sturdy items that could go directly into the recycle bin. This little guy, named Eugy, is part of a series of... more
Play on!
We tested so many amazing new games this year! These were the kids’ top picks, but keep an eye out in our future issues for the many runners-up.Tumball$24.95 | 5 and upWhy we love it: It’s like Jenga, but more colorful and spherical — and less catastrophic. You start with a bundle of colorful balls suspended by multiple hooks. Then each... more
Santa’s little helpers
Tell Santa to skip some of the bags of candy this year and consider these little gems as stocking stuffers!Beaker Creatures $9.99 | 5 and upWhy we love it: Our home testers loved this pseudo-science line of collectibles that lets kids unearth creatures from “reactor pods” using water, which triggers a colorful bubbling reaction.... more
The best new toys!
Call off the search for holiday gifts for the kids! It's time for our annual round-up of the best new toys, curated as part of our annual Toy Test.This year we brought in 125 of the hottest new playthings — and painstakingly narrowed our final list down to 60 gift ideas for ages infant and up, including special categories for games,... more
Veggie tots
Green Giant’s line of Veggie Swap-Ins have been around for a while now, but we’re loving all the new items in the frozen section, including spiralized and riced veggies, cauliflower pizza crusts and — super kid friendly — veggie tots!Our panel of taste-testers tried three varieties of tots and we liked them all — broccoli, broccoli-... more
Therapy lamp
The Happy Light Lucent LED by Verilux delivers the recommended 10,000 lux units for helping ease symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. We like that it looks like an iPad and not a medical apparatus. Learn more about light therapy at$39.95–$49.95 • more
Watch out!
“Mom, watch me!”“MOM! Come here.”“Watch me! Watch me!”“Mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM.”When I hear this — as many of us parents so often do — I sometimes want to scream: “WHAAAAAT!?”It always seems to happen the second I’ve just started something or when I’m just about done with something (but not quite) or when I’m just TIRED.This is why it’s... more
Ski for free
The Minnesota Ski Areas Association is again offering a statewide passport program that provides every fourth grader the opportunity to ski for free.  A $24.95 fee covers printing and shipping of the photo ID and entitles fourth graders to a minimum of two free lift tickets at 18 Minnesota ski resorts (that’s a minimum of 36 tickets... more
Explore adoption!
Right now in Minnesota there’s a critical shortage of foster parents and adoptive parents. On any given day, there are more than 10,000 Minnesota children in foster care, and, as of this printing, 820 kids are waiting to be adopted. “Families who adopt through foster care are meeting a direct, urgent need in our... more
A teachable moment
What’s at the top of your parenting regrets list? I’ve had 10 years now to second-guess all my mama moves and the list feels pretty long.Most of the time, I cut myself some slack and allow that this journey is a human one — and therefore imperfect.But as I was editing this Education Issue — our annual edition focused on the art and... more
Magnetic sets
Mix and match more than 25 magnetic pieces to create too-cute characters on two full-color magnetic scenes, all packaged in an easy-close, on-the-go tin. Think paper dolls with a magnetic twist and adorbs themes like Robot Remix, Little Travelers and Animal Band.$15 • more
The ultimate shower gift
Have you heard of Minny & Paul?This virtual “gifting studio” — the brainchild of Minnesota native Laura Roos — offers curated gift boxes featuring locally made products.Now, in addition to boxes with themes like Dapper, Treat, Couple and Zen, there’s a brand new addition — the Baby Bird box ($128). Each box includes a pair of... more
A new CD!
Fans of the Okee Dokee Brothers, rejoice! Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander are back with a new album after a two-year hiatus — following the third release in their Adventure Album Series, Saddle Up, which followed Can You Canoe? and Through the Woods.What’s the theme? Winter!No, this album isn’t based on an epic adventure to a... more
Jigsaw puzzle
We love this line of Little Feminist products, including board books, playing cards and, perhaps best of all, a 500-piece puzzle featuring illustrated portraits of real women who have made history.$14 • more
Tablet trainer
Is the CTA Digital 2-in-1 iPotty with Activity Seat for iPad pure genius or just wrong? That depends on your perspective. Made for ages 18 months and older and up to 43 pounds, iPotty includes a removable bowl, seat, splashguard and cover — and a built-in clear protector for a tablet touchscreen. Downside: For your child to sit on the... more
Convertible stroller
With the touch of a button, the Doona stroller turns into a car seat, ready to go into a stay-put base (included) for your automobile, thanks to its built-in stowable wheels. It’s also aircraft approved so you can literally wheel Baby onto the plane, collapse the wheels and strap Baby in for a safe ride (which is definitely safer than... more
Welcome, Parents!
When I was first married — undoubtedly talking about how stressful and busy my childless life was — all the seasoned parents around me would say, seemingly constantly: “Just wait ’til you have kids!” How utterly smug they seemed. It felt downright insulting, like they were saying: Honey, you have no idea. (I almost wanted to... more
A magic pump
The Haakaa — a one-piece silicone breast pump ($17.99) — has become THE next big thing in on-the-go nursing, and for good reason.The pump — known as a “passive” pump because it requires no motor or even manual pumping — relies on the mother’s natural letdown reflex, making it an ideal device for relieving pressure when you’re away... more
Meal boosters!
Local CrateThis new home meal service (currently available in Minnesota, Illinois and California) delivers fresh, as-local-as-possible, pre-portioned ingredients for recipes by local chefs. The minimum order is two meals (four servings) per week at a cost of $54. At that price ($13.50 per serving) — and for the gourmet quality... more
Do you believe?
“Whether you think you can — or you think you can’t — you’re right.”This beloved self-help adage makes sense to me. They’re words to live by for sure. But could we extend that saying to how we treat our kids? Whether you think your kids can or can’t (do something), you’re right!As we move into back-to-school season, that time... more
Silent timer
If you’ve ever used a timer with a toddler, you know such devices can often turn into distractions with their moving digits, dings and beeps. The Soft Glow Silent Timer & Light, invented by a Twin Cities teacher and mom, features only soft glowing colors. Using controls hidden on the underside of this simple sphere, you can set it to... more
Infant pacifier
A $14 paci? Well, it’s a Soothie-style pacifier (from Philips Avent) attached to a stuffed animal. And it’s a clear parent favorite because it doesn’t drop to the floor as easily. And babies who use these guys look just too cute. The WubbaNub Baby Lion Infant Pacifier is for ages 0 to 6 months (or babies who don’t have teeth). Bonus: It’... more
Fraser opens in Woodbury
Fraser — Minnesota’s largest provider of autism and early childhood mental health services — has opened its seventh clinic in the Twin Cities. Billed as the first of its kind in the nation, the 27,000-square-foot clinic in Woodbury features spaces designed to accommodate the sensitivities of children and adults on the autism... more
Read for free!
Have you heard of Ebooks Minnesota?This online collection of 4,000-and-counting digital fiction and non-fiction books can be accessed through any browser on any device by simply clicking “Read This.” You don’t need to sign in, create a membership or pay attention to any due dates. You can — but don’t have to — create a profile... more
There's no place like cone
What’s happening to the local ice cream scene?It’s positively exploding with color, creativity, innovation, multi-cultural influences and increasing indulgence, too.Today in the Twin Cities you can find ice cream that’s rolled (Thai style), scooped into a house-made tie-dye cone, presented in flights, sprinkled with edible... more
Drink it in
Is anyone else having trouble staying focused lately?I don’t know about you, but this year I’ve had the WORST case of spring fever! All I want to do is be outside — just soaking it all in. Gardening, going on walks, hitting the trails, the beach, the pool, the soccer field, the tennis court, lakes, breweries, ice cream parlors.... more
Beach tote
Lightweight, water-repellant and designed to keep a parent’s hands free, this mega-size hamper bag (22 inches tall and 14 inches around when expanded) attaches easily to any stroller — or you can use the shoulder straps to carry it like a backpack. Bonus: It’s machine washable. (Regularly $38, these were on sale at press time for $... more
Convertible entertainer
Skip Hop’s award-winning Explore and More 3-Stage Activity Center may look like a jumper, but it’s really more of a 360-degree surfer. Rather than using springs in the seat to create a bouncing effect, it features an adjustable foot-support platform that moves with your baby’s every step. We love the piano, which can be installed up top... more
Customizable, local lockets
If your child goes to daycare, it can be hard to be apart all day long. Why not stay connected with a special token of your love — a locket!We’re in love with these little gems from The Locket Sisters, two local moms (and actual sibs), Amy and Allyssa, who handcraft lockets for kids as well as adults at their art studio in Northeast... more
Free camps!
Looking for fun summer activities with low price tags? Then check out the many free camps offered by The Sanneh Foundation, the St. Paul-based nonprofit youth-development organization founded by former World Cup soccer star, Tony Sanneh.Most of the camps — offered in the morning or afternoon and even some evenings — last 2.5... more
Pulling it together
I know life is messy.In fact, becoming a parent has been a crash course in learning that life is really messy, figuratively and literally.But why oh, why, tell me, did my car have to die in rush-hour traffic in downtown Minneapolis in 90-degree heat, 75 minutes before my son was due to take the stage with 100 other kids at his choir... more
The good old times
As I write this, spring is in full swing and my house and yard are a mess. With all of us running in and out of the house, it’s even more chaotic and debris-filled than the winter months when we were holed up with books, screens and baking projects.Now — with our entire yard being used as part of our living space — I keep thinking I... more
Outdoor project book
Discover, invent and build with the latest book from science educator Jack Challoner — Maker Lab Outdoors: 25 Super Cool Projects — focusing on projects for school-age kids that can be done outside and/or that emphasize the earth and environment. Heads up: Two more books in the series — Junior Maker and Star Wars Maker Lab — are coming... more
Collapsible bottle
Packing down to just over an inch when compressed, the Hydaway bottle is a space-saver in backpacks, lunchboxes and beyond. And each one includes a dedicated space for kids to personalize their bottle.$18 • more
5-in-1 cover
This versatile invention from Copper Pearl can be used as a car seat/stroller cover and as a barrier to go over germy high chairs and shopping carts when you’re out on the town. If that’s not enough, you can use it as infinity scarf or even as a nursing cover.$24.95 • more
New cards address infant loss
It’s hard to know what to say when someone suffers the unthinkable pain of miscarriage or infant loss. But thanks to a new local line of affordable, caring cards, there’s help.“I had several miscarriages and lost a baby of 20 weeks way back when, and the feelings have stuck with me,” said Karen Ritz, a... more
Special-needs fashion!
LaToya Lewis, a St. Paul mother of two, has created a brand new stylish clothing line — Uniquely Regal — to help meet the sensory needs of children and teens who have autism, anxiety, ADHD, Down syndrome and sensory processing disorders.Her signature items include super-cute weighted polo shirts, darling compression... more
Best mask ever!
For about 20 minutes — and only $4 — you can try to replace the collagen and hydration you lose through breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and just plain ol’ getting older with Pacifica Beauty’s Disobey Time Rose & Peptide Facial Mask (available at Target).Best part is you can do it while multi-tasking (showering, for example),... more
Sex book for parents
Couples often stop having sex during the early parenting years. If you’re in that boat — or if there’s any part of your sex life you’d like to improve — read or listen to Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. Author Emily Nagoski will... more
Award-winning game
Wee Society’s compilation — An Incomplete Book of Awesome Things — is now a matching game! And although it’s a bit young for babies, this game’s 40 cards are perfect for little hands (smooth and sturdy) and impossibly cute and funny, too. Fireflies, lava, tacos, science and yellow? All are included in A Box... more
Blind to difference
When our son was in preschool, he didn’t seem to see race.His dad and I were always so proud when he would describe a black person as “the purple guy” because of his purple shirt. His best friend was, in fact, black, and a girl.What a wonderful world, I thought. Our son, who attended a school far more diverse... more
Sneaker club
Does your kid burn through shoes in a matter of weeks? Then EasyKicks, featuring Nike and Converse styles, might be just the thing. With a $20-per-month subscription, you’re entitled to unlimited, swap-out ordering of sizes 4C–7Y (for ages 2–10). You can keep one pair of a shoes at a time, but you can reorder as often as you want for... more
Crinkle toys!
Babies love rubbing and chewing on tags and ribbons found on the edges of toys, blankets and apparel. So why don’t we just give them crinkle toys and lovies that are not only covered in fun tags but also designed with baby safety in mind? Enter Baby Jack & Co., a family-run business founded by a Milwaukee mom, who sews all her... more
A new kind of love
Welcome, parents and parents-to-be, to our annual Maternity Issue! It’s such an honor to be able to curate and edit this special edition with its focus on bump, birth and baby. Few experiences are as profoundly meaningful as having a child. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to do it justice. Parenthood is as big as it gets — creating (or... more
Investing advice
Kids: Would you rather have a million dollars now or a penny that doubles every day for 30 days?If you answered a million dollars, then you need to meet Maya Peterson of St. Paul. The 15-year-old’s blog and new book — Early Bird: The Power of Investing Young — explains why the penny is the better option (it will net you $5 million... more
Story-building inspiration
If you’ve got a kid who likes creative writing — or if you’re a teacher of storytelling at any level — The Creativity Project: No Rules. Anything Goes. Awesometastic Storybuilding is for you. A whopping 44 authors and children’s book creators were asked to respond to two different writing “prompts” (challenges) and were then required to... more
Boy dolls
All genders should be able, allowed and encouraged to play with all kinds of dolls, of course!But we couldn’t help but love this entry into the boy-doll market: Wonder Crew kids — billed as action-figure-meets-stuffed-animal sidekicks — were designed by a therapist to promote social-emotional learning.Bonus: They include matching... more
Teething jewelry
Move over, Chewbeads! (Wait. Don’t. We still love you, too.) But check out the new bakery-treat baby-chew bling from Loulou Lollipop, including teething necklaces and clippable teether pendants made with silicone and wood elements in soft, gorgeous pastel colors. $25 • more
Letting go
I'm a big fan of the phenomenon of “camp.”Camp, as I’ve known it so far with my son, doesn’t look anything like the camps I knew as a kid — involving two weeks spent away in the woods in rustic cabins with counselors, swim buddies and campfire songs.To me, modern-day camp is day camp — a glorious (if somewhat costly) invention created to... more
Swim nappies
Who knew pooping in a diaper — while in the water — could be so darling? These award-winning, machine-washable, reusable swim diapers (straight out of the UK and available in 10 insanely cute patterns) include a concealed water-resistant layer and leak-proof leg cuffs that contain “solids.”$12 • more
Alphabet toy
This adorable Learning Letters Washable Activity Book features little pockets with cute pillows to tuck into each one. And it all zips up tight and is easy to carry around, too, thanks to a squishy, toddler-friendly, briefcase-style handle. #adorbs $39.99 • more
STEM projects for girls
Got a curious kid? Curious Jane: Science + Design + Engineering for Inquisitive Girls is a cabin-fever cure-all for ages 6 to 11 with exciting activities such as making bath bombs, constructing a strand of DNA (with jelly beans and licorice) and dusting for fingerprints.$16.95 •  more
Laundry catcher
Get your kids to put their clothes somewhere other than the floor. We tried this classic contraption for our toy test and it fit perfectly over a variety of doors, and the hoop, the backboard and the net were all surprisingly sturdy. One kid said: “Oh, I SO NEED this, Mom!” Parent testers liked that it can be left open at the bottom to... more
A look inside Great Wolf Lodge
Many Twin Cities parents are wondering: What’s the difference between the old Water Park of America and the new Great Wolf Lodge resort that took its place in Bloomington across the way from the Mall of America?Waterpark: Well, when it comes to the bones of the 75,000-square-foot waterpark, it’s actually very similar with pretty much the... more
Choosing childcare
When I was pregnant with my son — my first and only child — I was working full time as a newspaper features reporter.I told my boss I was for sure coming back to work.Childcare had been arranged so that both my husband and I could work. My son would go into full-time care at 4 1/2 months old.Would our plan actually... more
Super site
It’s not just “a mommy blog for old mommies,” say the creators of Grown & Flown, a late-stage parenting site with the mantra of “parenting never ends.”We agree!Geared toward parents of high schoolers and college kids, it’s a must-read during the adolescent years — and beyond.“We steer the conversation away from diapers and sleep... more
Mucus buster
Most OTC cold medicines are recommended for ages 6 and older (at least). There are however, homeopathic alternatives, including Hyland’s 4Kids Cold ‘n Mucus Day & Night for ages 2 to 12. Hyland’s herbal ingredients fight cold symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion and mucus in chest, throat and nose. These formulas seem... more
Plush car
Cushy and cute — like a tricked-out, 360-degree Boppy — this adorable toy lets babies rev the engine (by turning ignition key), beep a horn, check a side mirror, click controls, spin a rattle and use a turn signal (with reactive left- and right-blinking lights). It also plays a short, not-annoying song at a not-annoying volume. Though... more
This too shall pass
I remember when our son — who started full-time daycare at 4½ months old — got sick ALL THE TIME.My husband and I went to work each day wondering if we’d get “the call” — fever, random vomiting, pinkeye, unexplained full-body rashes, constant crying.We’d bargain desperately with each other, trying to figure out who could take... more
Psychology for parents
Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story. So says the famed teen expert/author/speaker Josh Shipp, aka The Teen Whisperer and the author of The Teen’s Guide to World Domination. And now it’s your turn, parents, thanks to Shipp’s renowned new book, full of practical advice: The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans: How... more
I Got This!
This game rocks. You get four blue ping pong balls, four plastic green buttons, a 10-foot measuring tape, a rubber ring and a cool-looking die. Players bet how many points they’ll win if they can complete various challenges, such as tossing a ping pong ball and catching it in the box, balancing a button one’s head or guestimate one’s “... more
In a world of too much screen time, these delightfully tactile art activities — My First Colorforms: Miss Weather Dress Up Set for littles and the original classic set for big kids  — are a most welcome treat. We tried these for our annual toy test and found the smooth, stretchy plastic pieces surprisingly soothing.$9.99–$... more
Lovely lovies
How huggable are these soft, sweet plushies?! Finn and Emma’s insanely cute 15-inch Big Buddy creatures feature long, floppy limbs and squishy, snuggly bodies. Choose from a variety of animals or check out the Minnesota-friendly Gunnar the Viking character, complete with a big beard, a soft sword and a helmet with horns. These handmade (... more
Skiing for all
If you have a child with physical and/or cognitive disabilities, that doesn’t mean he or she can’t enjoy skiing or snowboarding this winter.  Thanks to a partnership between Padraig’s Place, an Apple Valley-based nonprofit, and Buck Hill Ski and Snowboard School in Burnsville, kids and adults of all abilities can experience... more
Win a trip!
Minnesota Parent is giving away a FREE Winter Family Fun vacation at Lutsen Mountains (valued at more than $500)! This prize package includes two nights lodging, lift tickets and ski rentals for a family of four, all coinciding with the Family Fun Nights at the Summit Chalet, featuring magic shows, art projects, face painting, a pizza... more
What a trip!
Before I became a parent, one of my biggest pet peeves was babies wailing endlessly on airplanes. Why are you flying with infants, people? Flying is for grownups: sophisticated, vacationing folks who don’t want to be ear-ravaged in enclosed spaces. Babies don’t even have to PAY to be on planes because they don’t need seats. Why... more
A book for introverted kids
There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. In fact, there’s a certain power in it, according to Susan Cain, the best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and the founder of Quiet Revolution, a company focused on the success of introverts in the workplace. But what if you’re a kid? Cain’s... more
Education crates
You can play outside — in the cold — for only so many hours this fall, winter and spring. What else are you going to do? Check out Kiwi Co., offering monthly STEAM-themed crates focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math. Different lines cater to various age brackets — 0–2 (Cricket), 3–4 (Koala); 4–8 (Kiwi); and 9–16-... more
Lunch containers
Toddler lunches don’t need to be huge. That’s why we love these personalized Bitty Bites Good Lunch Boxes, featuring three compartments in an 8.5-by-5.5-by-2.5-inch footprint. They’re available in owl, robot, hedgehog, fox, garden and ocean designs. Handwashing is recommended to preserve the personalized markings. $19.99 •... more
Miraculous work
Birth is a universal experience among mothers.But not all women enjoy the same positive outcomes when it comes to maternal health.That’s according to the Minneapolis-based nonprofit known as Everyday Miracles, which has been working since 2003 to change that fact by providing doula care, childbirth education, breastfeeding support and... more
Toy joy!
What does it take to put on Minnesota Parent’s annual Toy Test? All you need is two hours, 125 toys, 15 kids and two dozen critical parents and grandparents!You mix them all together and it’s easy to see what stands out and what fizzles. Parents fill out questionnaires with their gut reactions, listing pros, cons and whether they’d... more
Made in Minnesota
Looking for holiday gift ideas or perhaps even a way to warm up your home — or cabin — decor for the winter?Check out the creations from Campfire Bay, the Waconia-based side-hustle of Brent and Heidi Johnson and their three young daughters.The Johnsons produce Minnesota-themed metal and wood signs as well as wall-mounted hooks and... more
Get crafty
Marbleocity Mini Skate Park$29.95 | 9 and upWhy we love it: It’s not every day you find a model-building toy that includes laser-cut birch wood parts, metal marbles and axles AND a graphic novel to guide you through assembly. Our 9-year-old tester was excited and engaged for the entire two-hour assembly, which included lessons in... more
Stocking stuffers!
Baby’s First Phone$9.99 | 18 months and upWhy we love it: We can’t promise Baby won’t still want to hold your phone, but this wooden creation from HABA includes a jingle bell, three push buttons and a screen that rotates — with a cute bear face on one side and a mirror on the other. #babyselfies  Where to buy: HABAusa.comCoggy$14.95... more
Get your game on!
Leaps and Ledges $29.95 | 8 and upWhy we love it: Setting up this game — a nearly 3-foot-tall tower of 15 colorful pieces — was almost as fun as playing it. Game play was basically Trouble without a popper. And instead of moving your pawns around in a circle, you race to the top of the tower (and can send players back down... more
The best new toys!
Gymotion Robo Playland$74.95 | birth and upWhy we love it: Lots of floor gyms for babies are supposed to fold up and store easily. But this one actually does — with no twisting or acrobatics on the parents’ part. We liked the totally mod color scheme and patterns as well as the high-quality, drool-resistant toys with crinkle-fabric... more
Full of surprises
When it comes to academics, parents today face a ton of pressure! Even before our children are born, we’re encouraged to read to them and expose them to music in utero.Then there are the educational toys required to foster early math, reasoning and motor skills. And the music and movement classes. We must make our kids smart to... more
Kid gloves
Invented by a Utah dad of twins, Mittyz (for ages 6 and younger) eliminate the struggle of getting kid mittens on and off, thanks to an integrated thumb pocket, a double-pull wrist strap for sealing out snow (plus a quick-release buckle for easy removal) and oversized gauntlets that fit over bulky sleeves.Bonus: They’re 100 percent... more
A dosing paci
From the makers of the now-beloved snot-sucking nasal aspirator known as NoseFrida, comes a medicine syringe topped with a binky — the MediFrida Accu-Dose Pacifier Medicine Dispenser.Genius. $12.99 •, more
Cool posters
We’re swooning over the modern designs coming out of Telegraph Paper Co., the brainchild of graphic designer and painter Lindsey Anderson of Moorhead.  Anderson started out selling greeting cards. But then after spending time with her niece and her friends’ kids, she was inspired to switch gears to create educational, color... more
A book that shows diversity
Not all families look the same. And yet, in children’s literature families are illustrated relatively rarely with diversity in mind. Mothers, fathers, grandparents and children tend to be uniformly white or portrayed as animals. When looking through the inventory at a bookstore, Minnesota native Norah Barrett Cooper and... more
Better than boxed
So your kids don’t like beans — a protein source that’s also rich with iron? No problem! Just sneak them into these rich, tasty, flourless treats, which contain four times the protein and 10 times the fiber of boxed brownies. And they’re made with less than half the oil. Win! Black Bean BrowniesIngredients1 15-ounce can of black... more
Got college-bound kids?
Bestselling author and New York Times journalist Frank Bruni argues that too many young people believe their futures will be determined by where they’re accepted into college.But it’s simply not true, according to the real stories found in Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. $14.99 •... more
Young adult fiction
Once You Know This — the debut novel from Emily Blejwas, a Minnesota native and mother of four — tells the hopeful story of an 11-year-old girl who struggles to make her future bright, amid the makeshift family that emerges around her.Bonus: Blejwas will read from her book on Sept. 28 at Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis.$16.99 more
Magnetic storyboard
Is your kid ready to go beyond sight words?Encouraging interactive wordplay and early storytelling is the goal of My First Magnetic Story Board, featuring 100 word and punctuation magnets that help kids create simple sentences and even basic stories!$29.99 • more
Joy booster
Quick, punchy, easy-to-jump-into chapters — penned by Erin Leyba, a family counselor, parenting blogger and mother of three — are the draw for Joy Fixes for Weary Parent: 101 Quick, Research-Based Ideas for Overcoming Stress and Building a Life You Love.“Joy fixes are not about chasing happiness — a temporary pleasure,” Leyba writes... more
Struggles, not ‘snuggles’
When I was a new mother, Facebook was just becoming a big thing.It was so long ago (2008), that we announced our son’s birth primarily by email.But as the months went on, we started sharing photos of our kid — who we were just getting to know — with the ever-evolving social media landscape.It was addictive, watching the likes and... more
New kid-rock album
Oh, how we love The Bazillions!The Minneapolis-based kindie-rock band has been getting families’ toes tapping since 2010 with guitar-driven tunes and pitch-perfect harmonies with a touch of twang. (Do they remind anyone else of the Barenaked Ladies?) And now they’ve put out their fourth studio album, Rock-n-Roll Yearbook, just in... more
A baby book for preemies
Eric and Kristin Moan know a thing or two about premature babies and life in the NICU. Their twin daughters were born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 3 ounces and 1 pound, 7 ounces.Though their girls are now 4 years old and thriving, the Moans, who live north of the Twin Cities, remember struggling to navigate the NICU while also trying... more
This is adulting
Is getting enough exercise and eating right on a regular basis really easy for anyone?Add in the enormous feat of carrying and birthing a baby (or even babies!) and it can feel monumentally more challenging. Impossible.As a new parent, you have few #adulting assets — no sleep, no time (relative to your recent past), no money (... more
A heat treatment for lice
Ew, ew, eeeeeeew. If your kid doesn’t have lice, you don’t have to think about it. But having a bit of knowledge — if the little black sesame-seed-sized bugs do creep into your life — isn’t a bad idea.In honor of back-to-school season, here’s the latest on head lice treatments for that fateful day when... more
Bribery for behavior
One morning, when I asked my kid to get himself dressed for school, he immediately asked if he would receive an early birthday present in exchange for this great service. I said no, of course, thinking: Wait, what? After thinking for a second, he retorted sincerely: “But I’m not motivated. How am I supposed to get motivated?”Oh... more
Book for parents
“Practical solutions grounded in neuroscience” are at the heart of this revered book by Colleen O’Grady, a licensed marriage and family therapist with more than 25 years’ experience and a mother to a once-teenage daughter of her own.Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter explores the teen brain... more
Awesome lunch box
Nalgene’s new Lunch Box Buddy is sturdy, simple, easy to clean and offers plenty of room for your own reusable containers.Our 9-year-old test kid loved it and so did Mama, thanks to its light weight, easy-on neoprene case and a cool ice pack that can be used to divide its spacious storage cavity three different ways.The box (which... more
New mattress
The SafeSleep Breathe-Through Crib Mattress — invented by three professionals who all lost a loved one to SIDS — creates a bed of air layered between the mattress and a crib base, which allows baby to breathe even if in a face-down position.It also discourages overheating, thanks to increased airflow.$299–$399 • more
Tots for tots
It’s zucchini season! Also known as summer squash, these green or yellow fruits are available at farmers markets now. Celebrate the season by turning them, skin and all, into kid-friendly tots — a great side for breakfast or dinner.Zucchini totsIngredientsOil or cooking spray1 1/2 zucchini 1 large egg, beaten1/4 medium onion,... more
Threads for girls
Try-on-at-home clothing services seem to be taking over the world. Adults have Stitch Fix and Prime Wardrobe (and many others). Kids have Runchkins, Kidbox and Rockets of Awesome (truly awesome, in our experience), to name a few. And now a local mama of three girls — professional stylist Wendy Witherspoon of Edina — is getting... more
All aboard!
If your kids are little and your budget is tight, the idea of traveling may seem like a joke: How can your family afford Disney World when you can barely scrape together enough to cover daycare and a holiday trip to visit your in-laws? And what’s so romantic about taking kids in diapers on the road, anyway?I feel you.But travel is... more
Mind over mud
Getting kids to play outside should be easy. But sometimes — in this age of nature-deficit disorder/screen-time and a strictly enforced culture of helicopter parenting — it seems like it’s never been more difficult.However, I’m here to tell you: Our kids really, really want it — water, dirt, air and mud, lots of mud — yes, even... more
Struggles, celebration
Welcome to our Special Needs Issue!I’m so excited to be bringing you a magazine with this new, important theme.Although we try to address special needs in every issue of Minnesota Parent — typically in our On Behavior department as well as throughout the magazine — I felt we needed to step up our game. And, boy, did we learn a lot... more
Growing up again
I cannot read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! to my son without welling up with huge, mama-bear tears. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.Except when you don’t.Because, sometimes, you won’t.I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-upsand Hang-ups can... more
Beat the heat!
Photo by Tracy WalshSplish splashThe Twin Cities has become Splash Pad Central in recent years, including small neighborhood haunts as well as bigger spaces such as the 1-acre splash pad at Valleyfair’s Soak City waterpark in Shakopee.We especially love the Central Park Interactive Fountain in Maple Grove (pictured above) and the... more
Eat your greens!
Balsamic vinaigrette is a go-to recipe for many home cooks, but sometimes it can be overpowering and even a bit sour.This five-minute recipe solves that little issue with two secret ingredients (maple syrup and Dijon mustard), dramatically reinventing this go-to dressing for just about any summer salad.Maple-Balsamic... more
Gnome adventure kit
Invented by a Nashville schoolteacher to help parents and kids connect more (ideally 30 minutes a day), this Gnome on the Roam set includes a storybook, a journal, a magical-looking stick pen, a miniature suitcase and a 6-inch-tall, ready-to-decorate PVC gnome.A companion app is designed to inspire exploration — and photo taking — for a... more
Trumpet teether
This Japanese-made, two-way trumpet from Mochi relies on babies’ natural sucking and teething motions.Infants simply have to breathe in or out into the instrument to make sound.Made of rice (51 percent) and polypropylene plastic, it’s geared toward ages 3 months and up. Cute (if noisy)!$24.99 • more
Adolescence survival guide
From the author of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy! Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind, comes a new book to help parents and kids thrive during the teens years: Crazy Stressed: Saving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter and the Science of Resilience.Drawing on neuroscience, psychology and “real-life stories from the teen battle... more
A $99 heart screening
Tim Webert of Plymouth was at his son’s hockey game in 2014 when he witnessed the tragedy of a seemingly healthy young boy dying because of an undiagnosed congenital heart condition. “We immediately wondered if our kids had healthy hearts,” Webert said. “As I sought options to have their hearts checked, I was told there are no... more
On-the-go water for kids!
Most kids love juice boxes. But if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, they’re not a great choice. Fortunately, mothers Laurie Ambrose from Chanhassen and Lisa Amundson (a dentist from Woodbury) — sisters who collectively have six kids! — have come up with a cool alternative that’s perfect for families.Their new kidsWATER drink... more
Butterfly garden
Grow your own butterflies with this delightful kit by Insect Lore, which includes a reusable, 11.5-inch-tall, pop-up-mesh habitat, plus a feeding pipette and care instructions.We tried it — and the kids LOVED it!Live caterpillars ship separately. To get the best deal, order a kit and the caterpillars at the same time online, versus kits... more
Soups you can sip!
With summer arriving — and a different kind of “busy” coming our way — we know we’re going to need convenience foods (that are also swimsuit-body-friendly).But that doesn’t have to mean scavenging half-eaten granola bars and the kids’ leftover Goldfish crackers.Thanks to a local stay-at-home mama, there’s another option — organic, gluten... more
MCM is back!
The Minnesota Children's Museum's St. Paul campus (closed since December) will celebrate a $30 million expansion and renovation — including 10 new exhibits and 35 percent more space for visitors — with a free block party on June 17 (advance tickets required for free museum admittance). A Target Free 3rd Sunday on June 18... more
Get fresh!
Freezer jam is — hands down — the easiest and prettiest jam you can make.Traditionally canned jams involve first boiling the jam and the jam jars (in a water bath), effectively twice-cooking the berries. Blasphemy!With freezer jam, you can skip all that while also capturing the berries’ super-fruity, crazy-fresh flavors and bright, ... more
Chalkboard app
You don’t need hand-lettering skills or even a chalkboard to create your own printable, shareable, digital chalkboard posters and prints.You just need Snapsprout, a free iPhone app designed for parents, complete with templates that celebrate everything from birth to those first days of school.    free • more
Mod play gym
Sick of garish baby toys? This cute little wooden archway — made of 100 percent birch and available in a variety of styles and finishes — is pretty enough to leave out all day long.It adjusts to two different heights and is finished with non-toxic stains. During Minnesota Parent's annual toy test, babies were drawn to the organic-cotton... more
Birdtown boutique
Robbinsdale really is the new, hot place to be.It’s where you can find two of the Twin Cities’ trendiest restaurants — Pig Ate My Pizza and Travail Kitchen & Amusements (not to mention Victory 44, just a stone’s throw to the east in North Minneapolis). In the heart of Birdtown — on a single two-block stretch — you’ll find the... more
Sensory toys!
Buying toys for kids with autism spectrum disorder can be tricky, especially when so many item are marketed as “sensory”or ASD friendly. Fortunately, local families have a special resource for guidance in this area: Creative Kidstuff — a local toy store with seven locations in the Twin Cities, plus online sales — has partnered with... more
Playbook for parents
In Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers and Change Makers, a mother of two thriving entrepreneurs shares stories from moms of more than 50 of today’s most successful innovators and — based on her findings — provides rules for raising confident, fearless, self-made men and women.$18.95 •... more
Book for parents
This New York Times bestseller — and a Top 10 Book of the Year, according to Time — attempts to bridge the generation gap between today’s parents and their girls, drawing on in-depth interviews with more than 70 young women, plus input from a wide range of psychologists, academics and experts to reveal “hidden truths, hard lessons and... more
Clicky toy
The Push and Pull UFO is like a fidget toy for babies age 6 months and up.Four colorful rods with buttons on each end slide back and forth to make engaging clicking noises, offering simple lessons in cause and effect.A button in the middle of the spacecraft emits soft squeaks when pushed just right, encouraging fine motor skills.$9 •... more
A Stride Rite that’s staying open!
Last month, many parents were bummed to hear that a beloved longtime kid-shoe purveyor — Massachusetts-based Stride Rite — was closing all of its corporate locations in late April, including the store at Southdale, and outlets in Eagan and Albertville. But we have good news: The locally owned Stride Rite store at Rosedale Center (... more
Swimming for all
Drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism, according to the National Autism Association, due to kids’ tendency to wander and seek isolation — often in unsafe environments — when overstimulated by crowds.To combat this high risk, Sonja Brown, six years ago, founded a unique swimming school in Minnetonka — Swim... more
Jack’s Basket
First there was the emergency C-section, a sudden and traumatic experience on its own. Then they found out their son was born, much to their surprise, with Down syndrome. They were filled with many different emotions at first, including shock, not knowing how to process the diagnosis. But life went on. And they fell in... more
Farmers market activity book
It’s almost farmers market season.And this insanely colorful, interactive book — from the author of the wonderful Cooking Class for kids — is the perfect companion for little ones, including 100 stickers, 50-plus punch-out paper fruits, veggies and flowers and activities such as mazes, matching games and adorable craft projects.There’s... more
Sewing kit
Parents and children can create funny, lovable stuffed creatures with this Monster Sewing Workshop craft kit, using a variety of provided printed fabrics, felt, thread and stuffing.A full-color manual explains the basic techniques of hand sewing. #lifeskills$24.95 • more
Best buddies
Learning how to be a good friend isn’t easy. Sharing and saying sorry sincerely (when you’ve made a mistake) are required skills. And — as these new stories show — children must also learn empathy, patience, loyalty, inclusiveness and even the ability to look past prejudice and the intimidation of bullies.My Friend MaggieThis tale of... more
Moms for Hire!
More than 40 percent of mothers choose to stay at home for a significant amount of time after having children.Reentering the workforce, however, can be a bear.In Moms For Hire: 8 Steps to Kickstart Your Next Career, L.A. film and television producer (and single mother of four) Deborah Jelin Newmyer offers encouragement and solid advice... more
Camp memoir
Minneapolis author Eric Dregni remembers being sent to camp at age 6, kicking and screaming.Now a father of three, a college professor and the dean of the Italian Concordia Language Village, Lago del Bosco, in Hackensack, Dregni has published a humorous memoir about the challenges and rewards of overnight camp. You’re Sending Me Where?... more
Sitter app for parents
Paul and Kristen Abdo (pictured above) of Edina were on their way home from a night out — trying to figure out how long they’d been away and if they had enough cash to pay their sitter — when they realized: There must be an easier way to not only pay the baby sitter, but also to book sitters.So the parents, who have three kids, created... more
You won’t believe it
When my best friend had her first child, she couldn’t believe how hard it was caring for a baby. She’d heard all the stories about sleepless nights, endless crying and nasty diaper blowouts.She was a longtime babysitting pro and an auntie, too. She was great with kids. She even worked with elementary school children for a living.... more
Pure magic
Gina Matter was a kid when she fell in love with the story of Harry Potter. She discovered the books by J.K. Rowling when she was a struggling reader. Her mother started reading the stories aloud to her before bed.“The series captivated me so much, I began to pick up the books and continue on without her,” Matter said.Today Matter... more
Dr. Seuss duds
Yay! Target has launched a new collection of whimsical toddler apparel inspired by the most famous works of Dr. Seuss.Graphic tops, including some sold with matching pants, feature famous quotes and characters and bright patterns, too.Look also for an early reader biography — Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler — geared toward ages 4 to 8.$8.99... more
Spinning stacker
This new stacking toy features six gear shapes that spin — rather than slide straight down — a spiral pole.SpinAgain, geared toward ages 1 and older, earned a Parents’ Choice Awards Foundation nod in 2016. We like that it includes a reversible base that can be flat for stability or rounded for a more wobbly challenge; plus it has a... more
Open fetal surgeries offered in Minneapolis
The Midwest Fetal Care Center in Minneapolis was a marvel when it opened a year ago, offering life-saving fetal surgeries to babies in utero, including twins. Now the center has expanded its services to include open fetal surgeries with a special emphasis on treating spina bifida.Literally meaning “split spine,” the condition (which... more
Search and find
Not all reading time must be filled with traditional, narrative stories.Each of these books tells its own kind of tale, ideal for parents and kids who like a challenge and time spent poring over beautiful printed pages. The Lost HouseThis is one of the hardest search-and-find books we’ve ever seen!Even after you’ve found everything... more
Personal safety service for teens
Kitestring calls itself “your virtual overprotective mom.”It’s a free, text-based service (not an app) invented by an MIT student who was worried about his girlfriend getting home OK.To use it, you text a time frame to Kitestring. When the time frame has passed, the service sends you a text, asking you to check in. If you don’t respond,... more
A book to ‘end meltdowns’
On a recent Minneapolis Mamas Facebook thread, a mother lamented her 4-year-old’s terrible behavior.A clear chorus came back from mothers in praise of one particularly successful tactic — cutting back on screen time.Need a guide? Check out the much-praised Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and... more
Baking set for kids
Bring on the next MasterChef Junior! Sized just right for little hands, this 17-piece intro-to-baking box was a hit during our annual Toy Test.But this gift set isn’t just a toy. All the tools and pieces are designed for real cooking and repeat use.Though technically recommended for ages 3 and older, it seems like a good fit (with... more
Wooden teether
This teething ring — made from untreated Indian hardwood and finished with vegetable seed wax — features the added bonus of bunny-esque ears made of organic cotton.If you’re feeling overwhelmed by plastic, check out these “teething ears” (available in many prints and colors) — along with rest of the amazing-looking Finn & Emma... more
Museum opening delayed
The Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul, rather than reopening in mid-April as planned, will welcome visitors in June, due to a logistical delay in its multi-million-dollar renovations.The contractor hired to fabricate the parts of The Scramble — the museum’s new four-story climbing adventure, featuring two towers, a spiral slide and... more
Mom, you’re hired!
Stay-at-home moms — and veterans — often face huge challenges when trying to return to the workforce. Many employers mistakenly view them as unemployable or undesirable because of their so-called employment gaps. But the Minneapolis office of the IT-consulting firm York Solutions has successfully launched a new initiative... more
Smart cookie
Virtually everyone loves a warm chocolate chip cookie. But hauling out the electric mixer, cleaning messy bowls and dealing with baking sheet after baking sheet of cookies? I can do without that part. Hence this miracle — a chocolate chip cookie mixed in a coffee mug and cooked in the microwave. Even the youngest kids can make... more
Safer earbuds
If your kid’s headphones seem seriously cranked, check out Etymotic’s ETY-Kids5 Safe-Listening Earphones for ages 4 and up.These noise-isolating buds are specially designed for safer sound output, so they’re safe, even when your teen turns the volume up to 11. $39 • • more
Tales for toddlers
One More Tickle!This new Guess How Much I Love You puppet board book stole our hearts! Its built-into-the-book Nutbrown Hare is super-soft and features floppy ears and little pockets that allow parents to move his head and paws around in realistic, animated ways. “Are you ticklish?” asks Big Nutbrown Hare. “Can I tickle your ears and see... more
Spear it!
Need a french fry fix? Hold up (and hold the fast food potatoes) and go healthy with this crazy-tasty recipe by foodie author Chungah Rhee, featuring the soon-to-be in season delight that is asparagus.Baked asparagus friesIngredients1 cup panko bread crumbs1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheeseKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to... more
Fake it ’til you make it
During my son’s earlier years, I wasn’t a confident parent. And the problem was wildly exacerbated during daycare drop-offs. Instead of emitting calm during the hand-off, I would respond to my son’s every effort to resist our separation.Oh, honey, you don’t want me to leave? How about one more hug? OK: How about I sit here for a bit... more
Memory game
Help your kids build concentration and focus with this 32-card memory game that you can customize with 16 personal photos.We love the retro packaging and card designs. (What a cool gift idea for friends or family!)Bonus: All of Paper Culture’s products are made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper — and every order results in the... more
New food pouches
Rita Katona and Eric Hall of Minneapolis have introduced a new kind of baby food under the brand So Good Baby, now sold in handy pouches nationwide.What makes the local couple’s products special is that they’re pressure processed, rather than heat pasteurized, a practice that can sap flavor and nutritional value. So Good Baby’s organic,... more
A go-to pant for mamas
Navel pants — created by Sarah Longacre, the beloved founder of Blooma (a local yoga studio and haven for mamas and mamas-to-be) — are on sale now online.After making an early debut at Bellyrama at Lake Harriet this past September, the high-rise comfy pants, which include a removable 9-inch belly band, cost $70 (20 percent off if you... more
Apple of our eye
Have you tried Opal apples? These gold-skinned Washington State-grown orbs are crunchy and sweet — dare we say good enough to rival Minnesota’s own Honeycrisp?But what really sets these babies apart is their ability to resist oxidation (that yucky browning that happens almost immediately after you slice an apple). Opal apples... more
2 more new indoor play spaces!
Sure, spring is technically “around the corner,” but in Minnesota, our reprieve from the cold usually comes not in March or April, but as late as June!Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on indoor play spaces for kids in the Twin Cities — including more than two dozen venues — at new additions to our list... more
I just want a shower
I remember, when I was a new mother, looking desperately to my mama friends for advice.I had one friend who — skipping the fake war stories and humblebrags I’d become accustomed to — bluntly said: “I just want a damn shower.” Please pardon the not-family-friendly language, but the inflection/anger is important here.Indeed, just... more
Beyond books
Little kids don’t need anything fancy to get interested in reading. They require only a willing parent and a book or two.But sometimes literary bells and whistles — such as those included with the books here — can be just the thing to encourage kids to use their imaginations, engage in creative play and maybe even go the heck to sleep!... more
A fresh twist
Citrus, when you live in Minnesota,  is winter’s solace, a blast of sunshine in January.Clementines, satsumas, mandarins, Halos, Cuties, whatever you want to call them, they’re all in season now.Heavily marketed to parents and kids (usually in 5-pound bags or larger) they’re super sweet, mostly seedless, easily portable and usually... more
Puzzle maker
Here’s a fun rainy-day / frigid-day activity: Take photos, artwork, invitations and more and turn them into small puzzles!Attach images to the kit’s adhesive 4-by-6-inch foam boards, then slide them through the Make Your Own Puzzles puzzlemaker to safely create perfect jigsaw pieces.Note: This toy was popular with all ages at the annual... more
Natural play dough
There’s regular PlayDoh ( and homemade play dough ( And now there’s Eco-Dough, an all-natural play dough made with plant, fruit and vegetable extracts.It’s lightly scented with essential oils (which keep the dough soft and pliable), so your hands smell and feel great — and slightly moisturized — when... more
No-mold bath toys
Squeezy bath toys are super fun! But how do you ever really get them clean?If the very thought of mold potentially growing inside your kid’s bath toys creeps you out, we suggest you check out Marcus & Marcus’ silicone squirting bath toys, which can be taken apart and easily and air dried — or even run through the dishwasher (top rack... more
Book for parents of teens
Every month Minnesota Parent receives self-help parenting books filled with stories about how hard to is to parent (and why), but they’re woefully short on solutions. They’re 98 percent backstory. This book — How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk (part of a longtime bestselling series) — actually... more
Doing the best we can
Happy New Year, Minnesota parents!Will 2017 be a no-yell year for you? Will this be the year you finally take care of your marriage/partner/self (and not just your kiddos)? Will this be the year you become perfect and balanced and start going to the gym three times a week again?Of course it won’t. But as Amanda Bell — the #... more
New PBS Kids channel from TPT!
Big news: More Wild Kratts, Daniel Tiger, Nature Cat, Ready Jet Go! and Splash and Bubbles are coming your way! Yes, this month, TPT (Twin Cities PBS) is launching a new 24/7 broadcast channel devoted entirely to PBS Kids content.Existing on-demand clips and full episodes ... more
Habit-breaking smart bracelets
Do you have a kid who engages in potentially harmful, subconscious behaviors such as excessive nail biting, skin picking or hair pulling?You’re not alone. Millions of Americans suffer significantly from these issues, including many children.But now there may be a solution for such Body... more
Parenting hypocrisy?
Welcome to our Technology Issue!Yes, it’s that time of year when we address one of the biggest distractions human children have ever known — digital media. Given our issue theme, I thought this might be a good time to return to the story of my 8-year-old son and his technology use.Maybe you remember how, in our June Issue, I wrote... more
Book for teens
Billed as a Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior and Not Grossing People Out, Alex J. Packer’s book, updated in 2014, is billed as a “wacky, comprehensive, and insightful etiquette book that shows teens how to use good manners to build fulfilling relationships, get what they want out of life, feel good about themselves and... more
A teen-safe show
“Watching TV with your teens presents all kinds of pitfalls: out-of-the-blue raunchy sex scenes, a surprise bloodbath (Game of Thrones, anyone?) and other awkward moments you never wanted to share with your kids.”So says Common Sense Media’s TV Editor, Polly Conway, who recommends 10 teen-safe shows to bridge the gap at more
Hot new toy
Your kid wants LEGOs for the holidays: Again. Had enough?We highly recommend the latest iteration of building toys from Lauri as an alternative.Lauri’s new Action-Stackers Big Builder Set includes new joint connectors that allow children to build out (instead of just up).New spinning connectors can be used to create wheels and other... more
Locally crafted toys
During research for our annual Minnesota Parent Toy Test, we came across a local company — DoodleTown Toys of Big Lake, established in 1972 — that produces beautiful, handcrafted wooden toys.Michael and Linda Poisson use northern white pine to create their toys, which feature signature smooth edges thanks to painstaking sanding and... more
Soft-block toy
Babies love tags! What’s up with that?Satisfy your infant’s fixation with a city-themed soft block from Rose & Rex, which includes four tag-like tabs with holes just right for babies’ fingers (plus an actual tag).Locales so far include London, New York, Brooklyn, Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Sydney.All the... more
Win a trip!
Minnesota Parent is giving away a FREE Winter Family Fun vacation for a family of four at Lutsen Mountains (valued at more than $500).This prize package includes 2 nights lodging, 2 days of lift tickets and 2 days of ski rentals for a family of four, all coinciding with the Family Fun Nights at the Summit Chalet, featuring... more
A new holiday tradition?
You’ve heard of The Elf on the Shelf. The 2004 children’s book and doll set has become a beloved, playful tradition among many families. It’s also caused backlash from parents who dislike the concept of a nanny-state elf who spies on kids and evaluates their behavior for gift worthiness.Well, what if you could have the playfulness of an... more
Veggie power!
Trying to get kids to eat broccoli has long been a parenting cliché. But not anymore.Today’s foodie parents don’t boil or steam veggies into oblivion. They know the power of roasting veggies quickly at high temperatures to bring out their sweetness.Not in the Candied Broccoli Club yet? Try this recipe.If you’re already a veggie-roasting... more
Holiday joy!
It’s almost winter and the holidays are near: What better time could there be to snuggle up and read?Check out the following titles, all new this year, that help celebrate the season.Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree These two adorable, sometimes snarky sisters — captured, as usual, in gorgeous drawings by author-illustrator Lori... more
Williams-Sonoma is famous for its holiday peppermint bark. But if you don’t have $30 to spend on a pound of the stuff, why not make your own?In multiple at-home tests, this recipe turned out beautifully for us — and you can even let the kids help bash the candies, spread the chocolate, sprinkle the peppermints and break the bark into... more
Combating overeating
If your child is struggling with overeating, it can be incredibly hard to discuss the issue.Aimed at helping parents of ages 10 to 18, Free Your Child from Overeating — written by therapist and mother four Michelle Maidenberg — helps families address the causes of overeating and offers more than 50 mind-body strategies rooted in... more
Hit the slopes (or trails)!
Winter is coming. Are you curling up into a fetal position with your favorite Slanket yet?Well, maybe you could skip the cabin fever this year. What if you could embrace winter by getting into skiing, snowboarding or even just tubing as a family? Check out more than a dozen winter-fun destinations in Minnesota at skiandboardmn.... more
Improv parenting
Parenting can be infinitely frustrating. It’s a grind that can suck the life out of even the most playful of parents.How can you bring back some of that magic?The answer, according to two Minneapolis moms, may be improv parentings classes, play days and camps. Improv Parenting is the brainchild of mother-of-three Keren Gudeman, an... more
When the toy era ends
I’m so excited about all the awesome toys — and toy-related ideas — we’re spotlighting this month in our annual Toy Issue!Wait. What?You don’t want more toys? You don’t like how your carpet/coffee table/entire existence has disappeared under a thick layer of giant playgyms/mats/bouncers/vibrating chairs, noisemakers and Megabloks? Or... more
Indoor play spaces in the Twin Cities!
Great places to bring your kids when the weather is cold and the wiggles need to get out!North Metro Alpine Factory, Arden HillsBrown Family Adventure Park, Ham LakeEagle's Nest, New BrightonGrand Slam Family Fan Center, Coon RapidsMinisota Play Cafe, ChamplinMonkey House, White Bear LakeTropical Adventure, ... more
Allergy stamps
Having a child with a food allergy can cause great anxiety for parents, especially when it comes to sending their children out into the world.These fun, customizable stamps — which feature popular characters such as Minions, Pooh, Darth Vader, Anna and Elsa — can help families keep everyone informed quickly, easily and playfully. $... more
Yoga teddy bear
Meddy Teddy — a “100 percent yoga-poseable” bear — isn’t the first toy to encourage kids to practice yoga.But Meddy, with his serene smile and peacefully closed eyes, may be the first to also encourage meditation, a mindfulness practice parents are finding surprisingly effective in dealing with behavior problems.One Baltimore elementary... more
Metal teether
If your kid can’t get enough of chewing on your car keys (ew!), you might want to strike up a friendship with Eli the Elephant, Gus the Giraffe, and Leo the Lion — a trio of chompable stainless steel “keys.” Geared toward ages 6 months and up, dishwasher-safe Kleynimals (pronounced “clean-i-mals”) aren’t cheap, but they’ll certainly last... more
Sharing is comparing
When you have kids, you can’t help but be proud of them.Even the littlest things can make you swell up with almost unbearable pride — those first baby smiles, those early toddler dancing skills, those kindergarteners who can read before the start of school!We just can’t help it. They’re so impressive, we just have to tell our... more
Kid-tested toys!
Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set$44.99 | ages 4 and upFew kids in our toy test could resist this mesmerizing set — a new-and-improved version of an older model from Hot Wheels. Even the veteran parents in the group agreed this toy would definitely be worth the space commitment — and the price. A single central booster (which... more
Wide awake
Welcome to our annual Baby Issue! Whether you’re feeding a newborn right this very second, patting your belly in anticipation of a very important arrival or maybe even getting ready to welcome your first grandchild, this issue is for you! I expect the most-read article this month will be our sleep story, outlining five... more
A new chapter
It’s time for back to school!Oh, wait. Are you just starting school?I feel you. I remember my son’s first days of kindergarten (a big topic in this issue, as you will see). It all started the winter before his 5th birthday. His school hosted a Kindergarten Round Up, an afternoon event at which preschoolers and their parents... more
School triumphs
Here we are, already in the thick of the school year.And that means watching your kid face the challenges of academics, friendships and even the pressures of Picture Day!It’s not easy.Check out how the characters (both human and animal) in these books find interesting ways to conquer their fears and emerge triumphantly. Coasting... more
Finance book for kids
Want to give your kids a jump start on their financial future?Check out Blue Chip Kids: What Every Child (and Parent) Should Know About Money, Investing and the Stock Market.This lively and engaging book — filled with 165 cartoon illustrations — tackles many facets of personal and corporate finance that schools simply aren’t covering.... more
Wi-fi access point
KoalaSafe creates a new wi-fi network in your home that’s set up just for the kids.You can restrict the hours that the Internet is on, block sites by name or category (such as “adult” or “social media”) or block specific apps (such as Snapchat).You can require YouTube SafeSearch and Google SafeSearch to restrict inappropriate search... more
Leakproof containers
When it comes to food-storage/lunch-box options, there are so many choices!Most, however, are plastic. And plastics stain easily, wear out quickly and can even leach chemicals.When Twin Cities mama Juhi Gupta went looking for alternatives, she didn’t like what she found, so she invented her own.Available in 2- and 4-cup sizes, her Frego... more
Ultimate drink holder
The single-serving juice box (or milk box) is the ultimate on-the-go toddler beverage — until your little one promptly squeezes the liquid right out of it, turning its straw into a terribly interesting fountain.MyDrinky — a rigid plastic, dual-handled, two-piece case — was designed to prevent such spills.Our Minnesota Parent test toddler... more
Chic bouncer
Infant gear can be so ugly!Who’s this stuff for anyway? Babies?Enter modern-American designer Jonathan Adler, who recently partnered with Fisher-Price on a new line of contemporary items, including a chic little vibrating bouncer with a built-in mobile, featuring a signature high-contrast black-and-white fabric, plus walnut wood accents... more
Chef tools for kids!
It’s autumn: What better time to get the kids in the kitchen?And what better tools than the Le Petit Chef set from Opinel.Minnesota Parent’s 8-year-old tester (not exactly a huge culinary-arts enthusiast) loved this stainless steel knife-peeler set.Each tool encourages proper hand positioning with strategically placed learning rings that... more
October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month
Groves AcademyThis private St. Louis Park school, founded in 1972, offers specialized services for students in grades 1-12 diagnosed with learning disabilities and/or attention disorders.Tuition for the 2016-2017 school year ranges from $27,120 to $28,160. The Learning Center at Groves is open to the public and offers fee-based... more
Kick it up a notch
Lil’ Kickers — a year-round children’s soccer program focused on child development — has come to the Twin Cities.Founded in Seattle in 1999, Lil’ Kickers has grown into national franchise with more than 100 locations in 28 states.It’s been popular in Chicago for more than 10 years and is now expanding north with two Minneapolis... more
Life with multiples!
Photo by Agape Moments Photography"Above all else, keep the babies on the SAME routine; once that’s accomplished, life is that much easier! And finally, ENJOY the small moments — the cuddles, smiles and first giggles."– Karen Kartman of Lino Lakes, mother of twins Aubrey and Lyla, pictured with big brother, Colby, 4, and Dad, Paul... more
MoMs tell all!
You aren’t imagining things. Twins are becoming more common — and have been for decades.In 2009, 1 in every 30 babies born in the United States was a twin, compared with 1 in every 53 babies in 1980, according to the CDC.Put another way, that’s more than 1 million more twins who wouldn’t have existed before the increase. ... more
Golden nuggets
Skip the frozen-section nuggets made with unpronounceable ingredients and try this down-home recipe.Instead of using an egg wash to adhere the breading, this recipe relies on — oh, yes — melted butter, along with Parmesan cheese and a few fairly common pantry items.It’s so simple, you can make it with the kids.And you’ll actually want to... more
Favorite first books
It’s never too early to read with your baby!In fact, early childhood development experts recommend reading to children from birth — at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week ( are some of our favorite books for babies. Find reading lists for all age groups (including age 0 to 12 months) at more
Book for tweens
Chelsea Clinton, with her book, It’s Your World, challenged tweens in 2015 to “get informed, get inspired and get going” to make positive changes in the world.Now, given the history her mother made recently — becoming the first female nominee for President of the United States — this book ($18.99), which explores the challenges of... more
The Art of Roughhousing
Drawing inspiration from martial arts, ballet, gymnastics, other sports and even animal behaviors, the authors of this 2011 book ($14.95) — gastroenterologist Anthony DeBenedet (a father of three girls) and Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist and family therapist — present dozens of illustrated rough-and-tumble activities for... more
Darling dresses
 Minnesota’s glorious fall wedding season is here. Now what’s your little girl going to wear and how much, ugh, is it going to cost?We’re thinking the fairytale lace and embroidery dress-and-shoes combos from Primark ($9 to $18), a Dublin-based clothing retailer that appears to be charting a course for world domination,... more
Herbal, local diaper cream
Unitech Medical — a locally based startup with offices in Plymouth — has introduced an herbal diaper cream.Unlike typical creams, it’s not thick and white, it’s actually a bit thin and light brown due its active ingredients — botanical extracts of herbs commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine such as arnebia root and amur cork-tree... more
Childcare at MOA
Date night, anyone? Girls’ night? Guys’ night? How about just a little “you” time?Drop N’ Shop — an entertainment center for children — is now open at the Mall of America and offering drop-in childcare for ages 6 weeks to 12 years.Located on Level 3 at Sears Court, the facility offers activities such as Zumba and yoga for kids, arts and... more
Science Museum updates!
Heads up: The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul will be closed from Sept. 6 to 9 and Sept. 12 to 16 for annual maintenance.Technicians will use the time to tune up the exhibit galleries and the Omnitheater for the fall and winter seasons.Upcoming events at the museum include: Playdates: Every Tuesday between 10 a.m. and noon,... more
Nursing pillow for twins!
The Twin Z Pillow is the nursing pillow to try if you have multiples.It’s E-shaped and works differently than a Boppy.You put the middle part behind your back for support and then wrap the sides around your waist and click them together in front of you.Our Moe-Mama’s-Must-Haves blogger (a mother of three, including now-9-month- old twins... more
School supplies
 The Lockdown Drill School children today don’t just take part in fire drills.Because of numerous attacks on schools in recent years, kids as young as preschool-age are required to participate in lockdown drills that involve preparing for intruders, typically by hiding.And that can be scary.That’s why Tennessee native... more
Tiered backpack
With all the heavy textbooks kids carry — along with tablets and laptops and more — isn’t it time someone came up with a backpack that actually helped them get organized and stay comfortable?We think IVAR’s backpacks come pretty darn close with strategically placed, sewn-in dividers that distribute weight more evenly and reduce lower-... more
After-bite oil
Mosquito bites are the worst!Fortunately, we’ve found a new way to ease kids’ irritation and discomfort: Oilogic’s Bug Bites & Itches Essential Oil Roll-On is made with a blend of lavender, tea tree, lemon, citronella, spearmint and chamomile oils.It’s fragrant, soothing and... more
'Dragon Slime' bread
We love this recipe for a few reasons.It's an easy and surprisingly delicious back-to-school snack (or breakfast).It helps you incorporate veggies (zucchini), fruit (blueberries) and whole wheat flour into your kid’s diet.Local and organic blueberries and zucchini are easy to find in Minnesota this time of year.And the batter looks... more
A sensory-friendly backpack for school!
Students at the University of Minnesota have designed the “world’s first sensory-friendly backpack.”The Nesel Pack (a play on the word “nestle”) is a backpack for kids with sensory-processing issues, including children on the autism spectrum.It features specially designed straps with chest clips that create the feeling of a hug, plus... more
Cool kid's clothing
One Posh Closet, a Minnesota boutique featuring new and previously worn designer women’s clothing, is now offering children’s clothes.Founded by Nicole Jennings — wife of Super Bowl Champion NFL wide receiver Greg Jennings (see family photo above) — the Minnesota-based business started online in 2013, built around high-end pieces... more
Summer’s flipside
Happy summer, Minnesota families!If you’re looking for things to do with your kids in the Twin Cities, you’ve come to the right place!This month’s issue — our annual Beat the Heat edition — includes 2 inclusive parks designed for all abilities, 4 family day trips reinvented, 13 shady places for babies, 14 fun splash pads, 19 summer... more
Clever ideas!
Mother of two Asha Dornfest started her blog in 2005.Her recent book of the same name features 134 whimsically illustrated ingenious ideas for simplifying life with kids, such as:Strap your baby into a forward-facing carrier when you trim his or her fingernails.Put the ketchup under the hotdog to minimize mess.At the... more
Mindfulness therapy
Parenting teenagers can be intense.Adolescents’ huge ups and down can drive you and the rest of the family crazy!Eline Snel — author of Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) and founder of the Academy for Mindful Teaching in Leusden, Netherlands — offers... more
The Lion King offers a special sensory performance on July 30
 Broadway is joining the sensory-friendly scene with a special performance of Disney’s The Lion King at 2 p.m. Saturday July 30 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.This one-time performance — geared toward people with sensory, social and learning disabilities and their families — is the first-ever sensory-friendly performance of a... more
Easy-to-make energy bites
Trail mix is out. And energy balls are in!And you can make them easily at home with this highly adaptable recipe, printed with permission from Maggie Brereton’s Smashed Peas and Carrots blog.Too busy? Check out the new local line of mixes, including energy balls that enhance lactation!  See the sidebar on this page for the story on... more
Sleepless in summer
Summer on the North Coast brings with it that mixed blessing of longer days for parents: Yes, it means more daylight for outdoor fun, but it also means putting the kids to bed well before the sun goes down. Perhaps you can lull your little one to sleep — or at least while away the hours — with one of these new-in-2016 sleep-adventure... more
Chewable jewelry
 Chewbeads — 100 percent silicone jewelry for babies to chomp on (instead of their mother’s real jewelry) — have become popular among modern mamas.Now the parent-founded company is expanding its line with Juniorbeads kids’ necklaces, including cute color combos geared toward girls and groovy shark tooth, robot and dog-tag pendants... more
Two new inclusive playgrounds
The Twin Cities is home to an increasing number of playgrounds designed for kids of all abilities.St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development is hosting a grand opening on July 20 to celebrate the completion of the multi-million dollar renovation and expansion project at its Minnetonka campus.Among the features is a new... more
Nothing better to do
It's June!It’s time to spend every minute we can outside, right? But how? Check out our Outdoors Issue (June 2016) for starters. It's on racks now.Then please consider my advice for making the most of these summer months ahead: Pull back on screen time. I know, I know: I’ve read suggestions like these many times and I’ve... more
Berry tasty!
June is peak strawberry season in Minnesota — and this no-bake pie really shows off those red orbs’ freshness and bright flavors. Check local grocers or see for a list of local farmers markets and strawberry farms.Fresh strawberry pie Ingredients3/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons cornstarchDash of salt1 cup water3... more
Get out there!
Kids need nature play and outdoor activities. But when there are 1,000 free cool games on the iPad, you’re facing an uphill battle, even in summer — unless you get creative and get excited to try new things.Here are just a few of the latest outdoors books perfectly tailored to families in need of inspiration and motivation:M Is for... more
Money and gratitude
The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money isn’t just rich with useful tips for teaching kids about finances — including parent best practices for the tooth fairy, birthdays, chores, mobile phones and beyond — it’s also relatable guide to combating materialism with gratitude and charity and... more
Guide to empathy
Caring for others is an essential skill that can give today’s young people a leg up in all aspects of their lives. So says author Michele Borba, an internationally recognized parenting expert.Her new book — UNSELFIE: Why Empathic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, coming out this month — gives parents “science-backed” tools for... more
Washable rugs?!
Have you ever tried to wash a rug? Inevitably, the plastic backing flakes off, not just in the washer, but all around the house.And yet, you can’t just ignore spit-up and potty-training accidents, right?Our favorite solution to this problem comes from Lorena Canals Rugs. This Barcelona-based company made its U.S. debut this year. We... more
New fetal care center
The Michael and Ann Ciresi Midwest Fetal Care Center — a new 6,700-square-foot clinic located in The Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis — opened March 14.It’s the first and largest advanced fetal care program in the Upper Midwest, made possible by a partnership involving Children’s Minnesota, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minnesota... more
MSP hacks for parents
July and August are the busiest months of the year at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the heaviest due to business commuters.Here are some amenities that might ease your pain: Quick Ride Ramp: Located a mile from Terminal 1 off Highway 5 at the Post Road exit, this ramp offers parking for $14... more
A look at screen time
Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age — a 2016 documentary that explores how much screen time is too much — is now available for screenings nationwide.We here at Minnesota Parent wish someone would screen the film locally this year. Find out how at, where parents also can find tons of resources — including “pro-... more
Doing The Dells this summer?
Wisconsin Dells — the self-proclaimed Waterpark Capital of the World (and a popular destination for Twin Cities families) — has announced what’s new in town for the upcoming summer travel season. Here’s a sampling:Slideboarding: This new ride at Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort relies on a slideboard, which looks a bit like a short... more
Beware of pool drains
Under the federal law, all public pools and spas must have a variety of anti-entrapment systems installed.But not every pool or hot tub is public and not every pool is compliant with the law, which was named after a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by the suction from a hot-tub drain.Here’s what you need to know,... more
Chair-top high chair
Acccording to our mother of three (including twins) Moe-Mama’s Must-Haves blogger, Valerie Moe, the Ingenuity ChairMate High Chair straps securely to just about any dining chair and is easily portable. (Val used it on a picnic table and on a camping chair, too.)It features upright and recline positioning, four adjustable booster... more
My birth story
OK, this isn’t my WHOLE birth story.But I can tell you this: My son’s birth included a dose of morphine and a possibly-botched epidural installment (because of curvature in my spine), which meant I felt powerful contractions to the end.Why exactly did I receive a narcotic?I believe, ultimately, it was because I was afraid — of pain, of... more
The long road home
Jennifer Schwertfeger, a Mankato mother of three daughters, knows the trauma of NICU — and beyond — all too well.Her second daughter, Grace, was born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 6.2 ounces. Early on in her pregnancy, Schwertfeger faced complications, including a torn placenta in her sixth week and a large blood clot attached to... more
Books for mamas-to-be
Whether you’re a new-mom-to-be on a quest for fresh knowledge, a friend looking for a fun baby-shower book or a grandparent in search of a perfect Mother’s Day gift for your daughter, we hope you’ll find something in this mix to pique your interest. Ma Doula: A Story Tour of BirthYou’ll hear a lot of birth stories during your... more
Algebra guide
New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Larry Gonick continues his popular series of math, history and science books with The Cartoon Guide to Algebra ($18.99) — 222 playful pages tackling essentials such as variables, quadratic equations, rates, proportion and more. Paperback, e-book, Kindle and iPad versions are all... more
Builder set
Got an aspiring builder on your hands?Brackitz ($59.95 for a 100-piece set) — small wooden planks that connect to clear plastic brackets — allow for a multitude of creations that won’t sag or tip over as easily as some other sets.Find sets at or more
Play props
Does your kids’ dress-up box need refreshing? We recommend these sturdy, wearable Props in a Box ($74.99), available in themes such as The Princess & The Chef, The Dinosaur & The Pirate, The Astronaut & The Fisherman and The Doctor & The Farmer. Kids can use the included props and backdrop with each set to create... more
Self-care guide
Minnetonka author and mother of four Julie Burton is coming out with an encouraging book for moms this May.The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother's Must-Have Guide to Health And Well-Being ($16.95) includes Burton’s own highly personal postcards from the edge of parenting (and the consequences of self-neglect) as well as... more
Stylish designs by a local mom
Meet Kimberly Senn of Edina.The now-mother of two boys left her career in advertising in 2009.During that time, she painted three canvases to hang over her baby’s crib — a triptych of a paper airplane soaring away. Her artwork quickly became a hit with friends and family, and Senn found herself making art — a lot of it — for a... more
Pillowfort is here!
Target’s new kid-centric decorating line — playfully named Pillowfort — is out now and we have to admit: It’s pretty adorable. Created by Target’s internal product design and development team, the line is crafted to appeal to parents and their kids, including a variety of themes that aren’t overly boyish or girly. Prices for... more
Got multiples?
If you’re parenting or expecting multiples, Welcome Baby Care needs you! Birth rates for multiples are increasing, and the Edina-based postpartum doula agency wants to learn from local parents about their needs. Parents or expecting parents of multiples are invited to share their most pressing challenges in a 23-question online... more
We're hiring a summer intern!
Minnesota Parent — an award-winning, 40,000-circulation glossy monthly magazine serving the Twin Cities — is looking for a journalism or writing student to serve as its 2020 summer intern. This position includes writing, reporting, researching and interviewing during the summer months at Twin Cities summer camps and classes. Our... more
Board book treasures
Sundogs A to ZKay Elliott of Richfield came out with her first children’s book, Sundogs: Journey to the Great Windmill, in 2012, appealing to young readers with dogs of many vibrant colors (dedicated to all the canines she’s called her own). When Elliott learned she would become a grandmother for the first time, she decided to write a... more
Study guide
Early spring is ACT season in Minnesota. Elizabeth Smart — president and founder of a boutique online tutoring company that prepares students for the SAT, ACT, AP and SAT exams — has crafted a concise ACT-prep pocket guide: Acing the ACT: An Elite Tutor's Guide to Tricky Questions and Secret Strategies that Make a Big Different ($12.99)... more
Why a camp on a college campus?
Vonda White — a longtime insurance broker and now the founder of Camp Pillsbury — came to Minnesota in 2014.Her journey started about six years ago when she was living in Florida and looking for summer activities for her three kids. She wanted something to further their interests in the arts. Her administrative assistant suggested a... more
Quote cards
You know your kid says outlandish and hilarious things all the time, right? But how can you capture those cute quotes beyond the occasional Tweet or Facebook post? Check out Milestone Mini Cards: These 100 small cards ($20), which come in a simple keepsake box, could be just the thing to motivate you.  more
Wipes for sensitive skin
A new natural baby wipe has hit the market and the Amazon reviews are overwhelmingly positive ( Bloom Baby Sensitive Wipes are made with “HydroPure water that comes from a glacier,” plus plant-derived vitamins A, B-complex and D, and hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion. And they’re made with 100 percent wind energy... more
Foodie magazines for kids!
Which would you rather have your kids learn — where food comes from (and how to cook and eat it) or the habits of dinosaurs?This pointed question comes from Jill Colella, the St. Paul founder of not one but two gorgeous bimonthly magazines for kids that encourage food savvy as well as early reading: Ingredient is for ages 6–12 and, new... more
Solace for moms
You are enough. And Jacquelyn B. Fletcher’s hand-stamped words — in Dear You: Messages For Moms, released in February ($16.95) — will give you permission to connect fearlessly with that truth. Billed as a manifesto for mothers, Fletcher’s latest book (a sweet Mother’s Day gift) features the imagined voice of Your Heart, which gives... more
Why we need camps!
Have you picked up our Camp Issue (or perhaps paged through our e-edition) yet?It's a whopper.Yep: March is our biggest issue of the year for Minnesota Parent.Why? Summer camps — whether you’re looking for a half-day camp for your preschooler or an overnight camp for your teen — have become a tremendously important part of growing up in... more
Yoga dolls
Celebrity yoga-instructor Alanna Zabel has created the world’s first yoga doll collection — known as AZIAM Girlz.Each doll ($29.95) features articulated joints that allow for a full range of motion. In fact, they’re flexible enough to do all common yoga poses. Asana, the first in the series of dolls, comes with doll-size fitness... more
Spout router
Tired of your kid banging her head into the metal bath fixture?The Bath Spout Extender and Cover by Aqueduck ($12.99), invented by a mom, attaches to nearly any bathtub faucet, creating a curved spout that directs the running water onto a child’s head, shoulders and back — without the risk of a head bump.   more
Freezer trays
If you’re pumping breast milk or making your own baby food, check out Milkies Food Trays ($21.95 for two) from Fairhaven Health. Each tray freezes eight 1-ounce portions, allowing you to thaw the exact amount of food or milk you need for each feeding. Frozen “milk sticks” fit through all bottle openings and can be popped out and stored... more
Get 'Untangled'
“There is a predictable pattern to teenage development, a blueprint for how girls grow. When you understand what makes your daughter tick, she suddenly makes a lot more sense.” So says author and psychologist Lisa Damour in her new book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood. Billed as... more
The imperfect life
Parenting in the modern age — let’s face it — is complicated. To use the words of Jen Hatmaker in her viral essay for Today: We don’t just drink “a case of Tab” and send our kids outside for the day like parents of yore.No, we try to manage everything into a state of perfection. And things today are so not perfect.So, in our... more
Why you should drink New Zealand wine
If you’re a wine drinker, you may have noticed that a lot of wine comes out of New Zealand, especially sauvignon blanc, the country’s most famed grape. What you might not know, however, is that Minnesota now boasts a local connection to the kiwi wine scene: Nigel Avery of Sileni Estates — a certified sustainable winery in the famous wine... more
How to avoid flame retardants
Did you know that many household products — upholstered furniture, mattresses and children’s products, especially those containing foam (such as changing table pads and car seats) — can contain toxic flame-retardants?Once thought to slow the spread of fire, flame retardants have proven to be ineffective while also posing serious human... more
Coloring books for grownups!
Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. In fact, publishers are catering to adults like never before with a bevy of adult coloring books released in the past year. The Doctor Who Coloring Book? Yep, that’s a thing. There’s also an Indie Rock Coloring Book (featuring pages dedicated to bands like Bon Iver and Iron & Wine) and The Tattoo... more
LGBTQ stories
Listening Library and Penguin Young Readers have just launched a new resource for LGBTQ teens, parents, teachers and librarians: Read Proud Listen Proud. Readers can find suggested books and audiobooks highlighting LGBTQ issues and characters, along with author interviews and discussion guides at The site... more
Fort-making fun!
Pillow-fort season is upon us! Keep cabin fever at bay with a Discovery Kids 77-piece build-and-play construction set ($19.99). We recommend you buy two sets (or supplement your fort-making endeavors with your own furniture) if you want to create a roomy playhouse. Retailers include JC Penney, Kohl's, TJ Maxx, Toys R Us and... more
Sneeze sleeve
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends coughing and sneezing into the upper sleeve to help stop germs from spreading.For a kid with a major cold, that’s a lot of sleeve slime. Enter the Sneeve — a disposable, anti-microbial sleeve designed to absorb the yucky stuff ($6.99 for a box of 7).Sized for ages 3 to 8, the... more
Car-seat cozy
Keep Baby warm this winter — and avoid the unsafe use of puffy coats, which can compromise car-seat effectiveness — with the Cocoon ($59) from 7 A.M. Enfant. It has an elastic base for easy installation and removal, plus central and side zippers for quick access. It has a water-repellent outer shell and is machine washable, too. more
Plymouth teen honored
Fourteen-year-old Maria Keller of Plymouth has been named a 2015 honoree by the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for her non-profit organization, Read Indeed.Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates 25 inspiring, public-spirited young people who have made a significant positive difference in the world. Maria was honored for her work in... more
Toothbrush delivery!
Did you know dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months?It’s not because the bristles wear out. Alas. It’s because the average toothbrush contains more than 10 million bacteria, often including E. coli and staph. Ew. Hint: Flush your toilet with the lid down to reduce airborne bacteria that can collect on your... more
Winter's joy!
Minnesota winters can be harsh, sure. But brrrrrr is our thing: We can take pride in our resilience and the fact that we have real seasons here. Honestly, who wants to live in California where it’s 70 degrees every day? (Wait, don’t answer that.) OK, so how can we teach our kids to enjoy and embrace the crisp, clean air of winter? Check... more
Portable play mat
The SassyPop Play Pod ($59.99) features gorgeous bright colors, five detachable toys and an especially large base with double padding and high sides to corral your kid.But what really sets it apart is that it twists and collapses down, arches and all, into a convenient travel/storage bag so you can take in on the go — maybe to... more
Are you a deal seeker?
How do these deals sound to you? • Take $2 off each admission ticket at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul.• Get $5 off a purchase of $25 or more at the Hard Rock Café at the Mall of America.• Enjoy two-for-one admission at any of the four Pump It Up locations in the Twin Cities.These are just a few of the local discounts... more
Zip-up bedding
OK, it’s time your kid took some responsibility for making his own bed. Get him started on the Operation Tidy Kid with a ZippySack ($29.99 for twin, $39.99 for full). This seen-on-TV zippered fleece blanket, available in a variety of styles, fits snuggly over a mattress (just like a fitted sheet). It includes a storage pocket for... more
Ouch-friendly animals
When your child suffers a bump on the head or body, there’s nothing quite so unappealing as a hard, blue freezing cold ice pack. Fortunately, there’s now a better way to bring your kid relief and show some TLC.Thermal-Aid zoo animals are filled with specially milled, de-germinated corn that can hold hot and cold temperatures (yes,... more
WhipEye author honored
St. Paul author Geoffrey Saign has hit the jackpot with his 2014 book, WhipEye.Not only are teachers, kids and Amazon reviewers raving about his middle-grade urban fantasy thriller (the first in a series), it’s also received two pretty big literary honors this year — first place in children’s fiction from the 2015 International Book... more
Don't unplug
How could it possibly be December?Minnesota’s weather has been so dreamy — so delightfully mild — this fall! There’s no possible way I’m going to be prepared for the holidays in time (not that I ever am).And, yet, I have no regrets: When you get a chance to pick apples in late October, take bike rides in November and skip wearing... more
5 cool games for kids
Today’s games and puzzles are so well-designed — and in tune with kids’ and parents’ needs — they seem to play more like toys! And that’s making more and more of our playtime downright educational. Check out these awesome games (including a local favorite) for stocking stuffers and more!  Cat StaxWhy we love it: This game’s... more
Larger than life
If you’re looking for something extra-special for your kid’s room, we have just the thing: Local woodworker Gary Moore is making toy boxes that look like LEGO bricks (sold as OGEL toy boxes) as well as shelving-storage units designed to look like giant Etch A Sketches (sold as Stretch-A-Sketches).Moore, who hails from Cardiff, Wales... more
Holiday books for kids!
Christmas can truly be a magical time for our kids. As parents, we get to relive the wonder of it all, while also imparting — and often inventing — family traditions. One of the rituals in my family is reading holiday books together. I don’t keep holiday books in rotation during the rest of the year, however. They get put away with the... more
Teaching tablecloth
The Table-Time Look & Learn Mostly Math Tablecloth ($19.99) for ages 18 months to 6 years features a wide variety of lessons — including counting to 50, addition, geometric shapes, “greater than / less than,” telling time, months of the year and more than 20 other math concepts.It’s made from PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate),... more
Hugaboo baby seat
If a Boppy pillow and a Bumbo seat got together and had a kid, it would probably result in something a lot like the Hugaboo baby seat ($59.99).This 100 percent polyester floor seat offers leg and back support for ages 3 months and older. It includes an attached seat bottom to keep Baby from sliding onto the floor, plus two hoops for... more
Bob is back!
Bob the Builder — a longtime classic amongst the toddler set — is back as of Nov. 7 with a new look and feel, ending a nearly three-year hiatus. (New episodes of Bob the Builder haven’t aired in the U.S. since 2012.)Viewers can expect an entirely new look for the series (updated CGI-animation) and its namesake, Bob, plus and an extra-... more
Nordstrom open at Ridgedale
Big news for Nordstrom fans: The new Ridgedale location in Minnetonka is now open and includes some family-friendly features — just in time for your holiday shopping escapades.In the kids’ apparel and shoe department, families will find a playhouse with a 32-inch touch screen with interactive games, plus a selection of books and toys.... more
The wonders of kinetic sand!
Early childhood experts are always talking about how kids don’t need special toys: Just give a kid a cup, bowl or stick and let his imagination do the rest. This, they say, is how children learn — organic, creative, unplugged, self-directed play.And, for the most part, I believe this is true, especially for babies. (Check out... more
Bouqs arrive in Minneapolis!
Need a quick, super-last-minute hostess gift or holiday greeting?The Bouqs Co., a floral-delivery service, has arrived in Minneapolis, offering same-day bouquets with free delivery.Thanks to a partnership with Lake Harriet Florist, you can order flowers to be delivered in as little as two hours in select areas of the Twin Cities.Bouqs... more
Car headrest for kids
Parents, you know that moment when your kid zonks out in the car: Finally, you can enjoy a bit of peace and quiet!But then you hit a bump, turn a corner or go around a sharp curve, and your kid slumps awkwardly into a cringe-worthy head-bob position. The Cardiff travel headrest ($49.99) — ideal for kids in backless booster seats —... more
Gift books!
Books make awesome holiday presents, don’t you think? These new gems are ideal for families looking for something fresh, entirely unexpected and, we think, delightful (any time of year). Enjoy! LEGO Awesome IdeasLooking to get your kids to actually reuse their LEGOs for creative free building — rather than just buying... more
Toys we love!
What do you get when you put 20 kids — age 1 to 10 — in a room full of brand-new toys? Our curious and cute testers, all Minnesota kids, found 30 great toy picks for holiday gift giving.Read on to find the full results to our annual Toy Test, including options for all ages, starting with toys for infants and on up to top picks for... more
Stroller caddy
Keeping your most important items at your fingertips while you’re out with Baby is essential.  This Stroller Organizer Tray from Prince Lionheart ($25) features two cup holders and three storage areas. We like the Velcro-closure pocket that allows you to tuck your phone away from the elements. Four adjustable hook-and-loop straps... more
Tooth fairy fun!
When that first baby tooth starts to wiggle, you know your child is about to hit a major milestone or, rather, a series of milestones: From the age of about 5 to 12, the average child loses 20 baby teeth. That’s a lot of visits from the tooth fairy! These fun books and keepsakes will help you revel in the excitement, stimulate... more
Faucet extender for toddlers
Little hands need a lot of washing — especially during cold-and-flu season. Help your kid easily reach the water with a faucet extender from Prince Lionheart, available in four colors.Combine one of these with a sturdy step stool and your toddler will be washing up on his own in no time, right? We found two for $9.99 at more
Baked apple chips
If you just came back from a Minnesota apple orchard with a 10-pound bag of apples (what a steal!) — and you’re not quite sure what to do with them all — try this recipe from the new cookbook: Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks. Once you’ve made it, this recipe should be easy to remember: Bake for 2 hours at 200 degrees... more
Works of art
Are you looking for new and interesting kids’ books for your family (or perhaps for some early holiday gifts)? Either way, put these three great finds on your list.So much greatness is going on in the world of children’s books — including folk art, comics and more — we parents have no excuse to not read to — or with — our kids... more
We're back to school! Now what?
We’re no longer heading back to school.We’re back. We’re in the thick of the school year now — whether that’s preschool, elementary, middle or high school — and we’re dealing with all the challenges that come with that.We’re back to homework, behavior issues, time-out chairs, test stress, bullying and everything else that comes... more
Portable booster seat
The BubbleBum ($29.99) is an inflatable, portable car booster seat that’s ideal for those times when you don’t have access to your kid’s regular booster. Think vacations, rental cars, taxis or carpooling with friends. We tried it and loved how easy it was to deflate and pack down into a bag about the size of a small loaf of bread (... more
No more floppy buckles
You’ve got a backseat packed with three kids. They each need their seat belts buckled. But two of the buckle slots butt right up against each other — and flop around so the kids end up putting buckles in the wrong slots. Meanwhile, all the kids have varying levels of buckling skills and patience. MyBuckleMate (now available in bright red... more
Books for kindergarten and beyond
Reading to our children is fun — and can bring us hours of enjoyment and quality time together (especially if bedtime goes well)! But what happens when it’s time to get the kids to read to themselves?Fortunately, there are oodles of resources out there to foster a lifelong love of reading.  The newly published list — 50 Best... more
Beanstack books for your child
The Saint Paul Public Library is the first library in the state to offer a new — free — children’s book-recommendation service called Beanstack for ages infant to 12. Families anywhere can sign up for book-recommendation emails based on their children’s reading skills, age and interests such as “Ninjas, Pirates and Warriors,” “... more
Spider treats!
Food-crafting expert Ashley Fox Whipple — in her new book Super Cute Crispy Treats: Nearly 100 Unbelievable No-Bake Desserts — takes rice crispy treats to a whole new level with flavors like caramel and sea salt, peanut butter and jelly, pretzel and chocolate and even Kool-Aid, such as the grape-flavored spider recipe you see... more
Suds up with SoapSox!
Finally, there’s a stuffed animal your kid can take into the tub: SoapSox creatures ($14.95) — made of soft polyester terry cloth — each have a soap chamber. Simply “feed” your SoapSox pal soap (bar or liquid), immerse in water and scrub, using built-in finger pockets and an antimicrobial sponge on the inside that helps you build up... more
It's apple season!
Minnesota's apples are ripe and ready!And with more than 125 apple orchards open to the public across the state — including more than 20 near the metro area — that’s a beautiful thing.Local orchards cater to families with farms tours, petting zoos, hayrides, gift shops, apple-picking opportunities and apple treats of all sorts.And many... more
Kid-friendly coffeehouse
Southwest Bloomington isn’t exactly a hotbed for independent gourmet coffee. But the newly established Mugshots Coffee Co. — at 10518 France Ave. S. — is a definite exception to that rule, serving locally roasted Dogwood Coffee (including espresso drinks as well as Chemex and Clever Dripper pour overs), local pastries and dairy... more
Your Twin Cities guidebook
Tom Weber, a host for Minneapolis Public Radio, is out with a new book encouraging local exploration — 100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die.“A lot of times people hear about cool things and make that mental note, ‘I should do that some day,’” he said. “When it comes time to think of things to do, they forget. I hope this is... more
A ball just for babies
Instructions for the Noisy Ball ($25) — based on a traditional folk design — are quite simple, really: Grab, shake, squeeze. Crinkle, jingle, squeak. Its 36 soft velour panels in nine vibrant colors are designed to engage a baby’s senses of sight, touch and sound. And it’s machine washable.   more
Minnesota nature centers
Minnesota is home to a stunning selection of nature centers that offer programming for even the youngest of kids — as well as older explorers and would-be naturalists. Below are some highlights. Find more at Nature Center, West St. Paul, dodgenaturecenter.orgEastman Nature Center, Dayton, tinyurl... more
Home, sweet, home with Baby
Life changes dramatically when you have a baby — and that includes your home. Here are five products designed to help families keep their abodes clean and beautiful despite bouncy seats, activity mats and Boppy pillows stuffed into every corner. Cozy crib Stokke, which became a household name in 1972 with its modern Z-line... more
Books for babies
 Babies love to read books! Here are some of our top picks, all new to bookstores in the past year, including engaging animals, photos of a real infant in action and a Minnesota twist on a timeless classic. Goodnight LoonYou’ll find the same charming rhythm and rhyming of the Margaret Wise Brown original in this delightfully... more
Explore the Twin Cities with a cool, local app
Traveling around Minneapolis-St. Paul just got a lot more fun! Kid Around Town, a new free app by Twin Cities app designer and mama Aneela Kumar, is a family-friendly travel guide to top destinations around the Cities, featuring virtual scavenger hunts, trivia questions, photo challenges and a variety of other city “missions.”Developed... more
The business of being (re)born
Minnesota Parent’s annual Baby Issue is on stands now!It’s one of my favorite magazines to produce every year because — in my opinion — few things are more interesting, more complicated, more challenging or more fun (yes, really) than babies.Babies are the beginning of everything.Yes, they’re starting their own lives. And that’s... more
Summer's not over
What a strange time of year this is for us Minnesota parents: We’re reluctant to let go of our cherished last gasps of true warmth — and all the fun that summer brings.And yet, school-supply lists have been out for weeks (or longer). This year my son starts school on Aug. 31, which just makes it feel particularly early.Fortunately, our... more
Teen pens anti-bullying book
Aija Mayrock was bullied throughout middle school and high school. Through it all, however, she learned a lot — and, at the age of 16, she wrote a lively, fun book to help kids age 10 and older not just survive, but thrive in the face of bullying. The Survival Guide to Bullying ($9.99) features tips, personal stories and quick... more
sKIDaddlers knows places to go!
When Renee Piersa of Bloomington and Erica Myking of Burnsville became parents they quickly discovered the vast array of family friendly activities available in the Twin Cities.It didn’t take long before the longtime best friends — both Apple Valley natives, both moms to two girls, both working full-time — had a list of favorites... more
In-person princess parties!
Princess-themed parties have been around for a long time, but the sensation of Anna and Elsa has given the trend a dramatic boost.Tiny Diva Princess Party offers a variety party options with characters from Frozen, including a single princess for $175, two characters for $300 (Anna and Elsa or Anna and Kristoff) or a cast of four (Anna,... more
Super new swaddler
Fussy babies love to be swaddled, but in summer, there’s always a risk of overheating your baby with too much fabric.The Ollie Swaddle  ($48) for ages newborn to 4 months is made with a custom moisture-wicking material to minimize overheating, and its elasticity allows for freedom of movement, along with an opening at the bottom... more
Squatchi shoe sizer
 Shoe shopping with a toddler can be a total pain.And, yet, you need your little one along with you to get just the right size — or do you? With a Squatchi ($19.99), parents can measure tiny feet at home. Made of durable polystyrene, the Squatchi can be a keepsake, too, if you write you kid’s size on it every year before the start... more
Party on, Twin Cities!
AMUSEMENTSRainbow Play Systems showroom, Bloomington — Sarah Fejfar, Mendota HeightsGrand Slam, Burnsville — Kelly Marsh, Prior LakePump It Up — Jenny MacCourt, PlymouthBrunswick Zone. Very organized and I just sat back. Everything was taken care of! — Shauna Coble, Saint FrancisMemory Lanes, Minneapolis —... more
A bucket list for Minnesota families
Minnesota has so many amazing attractions for families, it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, Christie Gove-Berg, a Minnesota native, Forest Lake resident and mother of three, has created a handy glossy paperback guidebook: Minnesota Must-See for Families: An A-to-Z List ($12.95), including tourist attractions both natural... more
Toy-sharing takes off
Most parents love to provide new toys for their children to keep them learning — and engaged for more than a few minutes. Brand-new toys, however, are just plain expensive. Fortunately, Twin Cities businesses and organizations are stepping up to fill that need.Elizabeth Wilcox of Golden Valley — a mother, a former Chinese-immersion... more
Sisterly love
These books are thoughtful, helpful and delightful most of the time, but sisters can be tricky, too, especially if you’re trying to welcome a baby sister home (and become a Big Brother) or if you’re trying to become a Big Sister (to your new baby brother).  Even not having a sister can be hard, especially when you have triplet... more
Let's get moving!
 I used to exercise all the time. I loved the gym! OK, liked is more accurate. But it felt good to work out. I especially liked the challenge of the escalator stair machine. Hot yoga, kick boxing and hiking were my other favorites.Then I had my son. And, boy, did I get lazy with working out. I was tired... more
Cool shark pool
The Roarin’ Shark Shade Pool ($34.99) from Intex is 80 inches wide and holds 32 gallons of water. Its partial sunshade and inflatable floor make it a good fit for the toddler set.It’s recommended for ages 2 and older. more
Shopping cart hammock
Let your baby sack out in a mini hammock while you shop — and you’ll still have room for groceries.Designed for standard carts (typically 20 to 24 inches wide) this little hammock from BinxyBaby ($49.95) can also hold an infant car seat (safety strap included).And it stores small: Simply roll it up... more
Rock out with the Teddy Bear Band
This year marks the Teddy Bear Band’s 30th anniversary. To celebrate, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the state of Minnesota have proclaimed June 28 Teddy Bear Band Day in honor of the group’s decades of early childhood music education for young kids, including 8,000 concerts to date! You can stomp and clap with the band ... more
Rainy day fun
Not every summer day is sunny. Thunderstorms often chase us indoors. But you don’t have to stay cooped up at home, thanks to nearly 30 Minnesota bowling alleys offering FREE bowling for kids, all summer long.See for details.   more
25 great get-outside ideas
You look outside. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. Sunlight is pouring into the house. But your kids don’t like the sunlight, they say: It’s causing screen glare and interrupting their cartoon videos, their Clash of Clans, their Monster Legends, their Minecraft.This is your cue.Send them outside. (No, you won’t be playing with them. No... more
Cherry clafoutis
This baked French dessert (kla-foo-TEE) features fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick, flan-like batter.Ingredients1 tablespoon unsalted butter2 eggs2 egg yolks½ cup all-purpose flour4 tablespoons sugar½ teaspoon kosher salt1 ½ cups heavy cream1 teaspoon vanilla extract8 ounces... more
Snack-time gear
Squeez’Ems (reusable screw-top food pouches) and Pack’Ems (reusable snack bags, pictured below) help you cut back on disposable packaging.We like the pouches because they allow you to serve homemade applesauce (and other gooey foods) on the go.The snack bags, which feature Velcro closures, can be folded down flat when... more
Explore outdoors!
Little Owl’s DayIn this sequel to Little Owl’s Night, our wide-eyed little friend wakes up in broad daylight and discovers a forest he’s never seen, full of sunlight and daytime activities. He sees backward-flying dragonflies, wolf pups and his first rainbow. Then it’s his turn to show off. He keeps Bear up late, just long enough to see... more
Explore outdoors!
 Little Owl’s DayIn this sequel to Little Owl’s Night, our wide-eyed little friend wakes up in broad daylight and discovers a forest he’s never seen, full of sunlight and daytime activities. He sees backward-flying dragonflies, wolf pups and his first rainbow. Then it’s his turn to show off. He keeps Bear up late, just long enough... more
Portable high chair
Created for kids up to 3 years old, the ciao! baby portable high chair is freestanding, lightweight (8 pounds) and unfolds easily, ideal for picnics, camping or even dining out. It includes a clear vinyl top tray that easily wipes clean, a built-in cup holder and a lap belt. It’s also tested and approved to meet high-chair standards set... more
Summer's almost here! Ready to explore?
When I was pregnant, my husband and I talked a lot about how we’d take our baby hiking.Living in Seattle at the time, we were big into outdoorsy stuff — backcountry camping, epic day hikes and 40-mile bike rides.Maybe we’ll get one of those bike trailer things, we thought. And we’d definitely need a backpack baby carrier.Well, it turned... more
A science podcast for kids!
Looking for a fresh way to bring science to life? Brains On! — a new podcast for kids — answers a variety of listener questions. Each episode is about 25 minutes long and is hosted by a different kid. Find out: How and why do jellyfish sting?What makes paint stick? How do volcanoes erupt? Does video game music affect you?In a world in... more
Get crafting with fun boxes by local moms
Two local stay-at-home moms — Nikki Anderson of Plymouth and Bethany Wilde of Minneapolis — have started a new service that delivers boxes full of simple, nature-inspired crafts to your doorstep.Blossom Box Kids’ subscription options include three months of boxes for $55, 6 months for $100 and a year for $200. Or... more
Teething toy
Chewbeads — a popular maker of colorful, chew-safe necklaces — has introduced a stroller / car seat toy attachment known as the Gramercy. It seems like the perfect distraction for curious babies who like to touch, tug, and chew on the go. It’s 100 percent silicone and available in four colors.$15 • more
Clothes: Contained!
The Quick Change Clothes bag from Free Like Birdie helps you keep clean clothes organized. One zippered side is for clean items and the other is for dirty laundry. It’s waterproof to keep odors and moisture from escaping, ideal for day trips, daycare and more. It’s 8x9.5x3 inches, so you can nest it easily in another bag. $30... more
Made-in-Minnesota maps
Map Your Travels, a St. Louis Park-based mall business, has just the thing to inspire travel planning — a 50 States, 50 Places map with the top U.S. sites for families (easy to check off with the enclosed stickers) and a Ballparks of Major League Baseball map, which shows 60 stadiums (past and present).Both... more
Liberating book
David McCullough’s book urges kids to stop trying to be perfect. Born from a commencement speech by the author (a high school English teacher and a father of four), the book aims to “liberate kids from the me-centered attitudes encouraged by our culture.” They aren’t special. “Let them be, rather, part of something bigger than themselves... more
Do you let your kids roam?
Are you a free-range parent? Or do you, like me, fall into the “reluctant helicopter” camp?Do you let your children play unsupervised, running around your neighborhood for entire afternoons without knowing their exact whereabouts? Would you let your kids walk home from the park even if it were a mile away and crossed a six-lane... more
Local clothing companies cater to kids
Twin Cities parents: If you like to get creative when it comes to outfitting your kids, you’re living in the right city!The Patchery — the brainchild of Amber Gunn Thomas of Plymouth, a marketing professional and mother of two — is inviting parents to become part of the clothing-design process.Here’s how it works: Visit the thepatchery.... more
Wearable books!
Donnie Lemke, a children’s book editor who lives in St. Paul, and Bob Lentz, an art director in Bloomington, have joined forces — as Lemke & Lentz — to create a cool collection of interactive, die-cut books.Donnie Lemke with his daughter, CleoBob Lentz with his son, LincolnTheir super-sturdy Book-O-Beards, Book-O-Hats, Book-O-Teeth... more
Easy almond cookies!
IngredientsZest of 1 large lemon2 ¼ cups almond flour or meal¾ cup granulated sugar1 egg white1 teaspoon almond extract1 teaspoon vanilla extract½ cup powdered sugarMakes 2 dozen cookiesGluten freeInstructionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.Whisk together lemon zest, sugar and almond... more
All the way to Grand Marais
Lake Superior’s North Shore is one of the most popular destinations in the state with hot spots like Duluth, Two Harbors and Lutsen at the top of the list for many Twin Cities families. Fewer folks go the 17 miles past Lutsen to make their final destination the far-flung Lake Superior harbor village of Grand Marais. Grand... more
Tough Shades
Babiators ($20-$30) — designed for ages 6 months and older — look stylin’, yes. But what’s more? They’re nearly unbreakable and, if you do break or even lose them within a year of purchase, the company will send you a free replacement pair, as long as you register your pair within 30 days of purchase (shipping isn’t covered). more
College-prep book
Beverly Gillen, a Minnetonka mother of two grown daughters and a parenting educator, has published the ultimate get-going-early guide for kids and parents who have their sights set on college.Get Connected for College: The Savvy Student’s Guide to College Prep ($19.95) covers the top 100 college... more
Drool-proof your laptop
Does your toddler love to drool on your laptop while he FaceTimes with Nana or watches YouTube Elmo videos?The Kid Lid ($29) straps easily on to 13- and 15-inch Apple and PC laptops to protect them from liquids as well as unwanted typing.We put it to the test — with a lot of kid pounding and pressing — and the keyboard was... more
The Baby Nutty
New this spring from high-quality helmet-maker Nutcase, is The Baby Nutty helmet ($44.99) for ages 12 months and older (for heads 47 to 50 centimeters in diameter) — because “Even babies wanna bike.”With the popularity of balance bikes among toddlers soaring, it makes sense to start them young on head protection. Styles so far... more
Sticky bellies! (The good kind!)
It’s incredibly fun to celebrate the many milestone of your baby’s first year. Sticky Bellies stickers make it easy. Each set includes 13 stickers with themes like Sporty Shorty, Little Trooper, Wild One (animals), Painted Pixie and many others, including a pack of Baby's First Holidays. We love these as a baby shower gift ($14).... more
Don't worry, Mama
You’re pregnant! For the first time!Or, maybe, again! Again? With twins! Twins!? Yep: You’re about to experience something awesome, dare I say, miraculous. And, yet … a pregnancy can also leave you wondering: What was I thinking? Never are the sublime and mundane so tightly intertwined as when you contemplate bringing a new life into the... more
Dye-free egg-coloring
If you’re looking to avoid chemical dyes for egg-coloring this Easter (April 5) — but shudder at the thought of making your own with beets and turmeric — we have good news.Glob Colors has done the work for you by creating its Natural Easter Egg Coloring Kit ($14) — vibrant dyes made from radish, cabbage and annatto... more
Beyond bento: This lunch box rocks!
We were skeptical of the stainless steel lunch boxes from PlanetBox.But then we tried The Rover ($59.95 with necessary accessories), designed for kids (or even adults) who like a wide variety of foods in smaller not-touching portions.Yes, it’s heavy — 2.5 pounds empty, including the must-have carry bag.But we... more
Child care web sites
College Nannies and TutorsThis site was founded in Minnesota by Joseph Keeley, a business-school student who took a job as a nanny — or “manny” — caring for children in Edina in the summer of 2000. This popular site has grown into a large organization offering on-call child-care, nanny-placement services and more to families across ... more
V-Day inspiration!
Valentine's day falls on a Saturday this year. Um, yeah, like, THIS Saturday.What’s your plan, parents?How about … brunch at home!We know: Couples with kids (especially little kids) tend to push romance to the back burner. But with this easy plan, you don’t have to! You can even invite the kids! Single parenting? Make it FOR the kids!... more
Catch-all placemat?
The Cibo — a cute, two-eyed silicone mat that sticks to most table surfaces — eats up little-kid messes not just at meal times (think rice and other small foods), but also during craft or cookie projects (think glitter and sprinkles). It’s dishwasher safe to boot (top rack only). • $24.99  more
Shush, baby. Shush.
When it comes to soothing fussy babies, nothing beats the five Ss (shushing, swinging, swaddling, sucking and side/stomach positioning).That’s partly why two beleaguered parents from Austin, Texas invented The Baby Shusher.They found that shushing worked well for their baby, but they soon realized it wasn’t easy to deliver the right... more
Bedtime game-changer?
Are you sick of bedtime battles and — when you do finally get your kid in bed — the same old picture books?Well, maybe we parents ought to change things up a bit.John Olive, a Minneapolis father, author and playwright, has a suggestion: Put the books aside once in a while. Instead, dim the lights, lie down and make up your own stories.... more
Museum: Bigger and better!
Good news! The Minnesota Children’s Museum has announced a $28 million building expansion to provide 34 percent more space for visitors.All the museum’s galleries will be reinvented to focus on the important skills kids develop through free play. Other new additions will include a four-story climbing tower, a cafe with a seating area, a... more
Winter stories
Yes, winter’s cold, windy and, in Minnesota, oh-so long. But it’s also a season like no other. There’s no better time for baking, hot cocoa, skating, skiing and sledding! Embrace these last weeks — months? — of winter with some of our favorite seasonal books, plus a couple from our readers, too! You Can Do It, SamCold and snowy... more
Chic breast-pump bags
Sarah Wells’ breast-pump bags allow moms to operate pumps without having to set up and break down equipment.The leather Annie features cooler compartments, plus a main compartment large enough to hold a laptop and other items. The bags fit portable pumps, including Medela Pump in Style and Freestyle, Hygeia,... more
PlayTape rocks!
Beat cabin fever by building your own roads or railways — ndoors! — with award-winning PlayTape, available in a variety of widths, lengths, colors and designs, including railway track. Vroom! Learn more at Price: $7.99–12.99 more
Books tackle tough topics
Talking to kids about health, safety and sometimes even sports doesn’t necessarily come naturally to parents. Thank goodness for creative writers! This month, we’ll help you cover some tricky topics, including personal safety and strategies for starting — and even struggling with — sports (from a precocious little girl’s perspective).... more
BoomBoom Prints
Are you an artist? Are you getting ready to decorate your baby’s nursery or your kid’s room? If so (and maybe even if not) you need to know about BoomBoom Prints! This Minneapolis-based startup, billed as “Etsy meets Pottery Barn Kids,” is an online marketplace of unique nursery decor and apparel designs. Artists, who get to use the site... more
Grammy No. 2 for the Okee Dokee Brothers?
The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest album, Through The Woods, has received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Children’s Album.We’re so not surprised. Their last album, Can You Canoe?, won a 2013 Grammy.If you don’t have these energetic, beautiful albums already, it’s time.They’re just what you need for indoor dance parties as winter drags... more
New apple!
January isn’t exactly the month you’d expect to see a brand-new apple variety coming to Minnesota grocery stores.But that’s exactly what’s happening, just in time to help with your eat-right New Year’s resolutions: Pazazz, a descendent of the popular Honeycrisp apple, is making its debut in a handful of U.S. markets, including... more
Embrace these apps!
Every day a new app comes along, promising to make life better, easier or more fun. But they can’t all be that great. Luckily for us, we have Valerie Moe, Minnesota Parent’s tech-savvy mom blogger from Bloomington.She’s into apps — like really into apps — and recently she’s been sharing some of her favorites for parents and parents-to-be... more
Fun holiday books!
Are you looking for cool new books to give as holiday gifts?Check out these gems!  Margaret Wise Brown trioBrown, the prolific writer best known for Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, is the author behind three new children’s books. Forty years after her untimely death in 1952 at age 42, dozens of Brown’s unpublished... more
Goodbye, stained, smelly containers
Some things — thermoses, travel mugs and even some water bottles — just don’t get clean in the dishwasher (or even in the sink with scrubbing). Bottle Bright tablets can clean even the nastiest of containers in minutes with amazing results, thanks to a bleach-free, certified-natural formula. You can even use them to clean caps lids... more
Guilt-free cookies
It’s inevitable. Christmas cookies, candies and other desserts are about to infiltrate your child’s diet — or try very hard to! But no matter how far off the deep end of indulgence you and your little ones fall this holiday season, you eventually have to get back to “normal” — and dial back the sugar. But instead of switching to carrot... more
Tiggly apps
Manipulating physical objects is essential to early childhood development — yes, even when the kids in question are using digital apps. So goes the mantra of Tiggly, the makers of interactive toys for tablets — including Shapes for toddlers and math-focused Counts for ages 3 to 6. Minnesota Parent’s 6-year-old toy tester tried both sets... more
A balance bike for winter
FirstBIKE, like any good balance bike, helps kids develop balance and eventually transition to a pedal bike. But this super-sturdy bike also features a rear-drum brake, a steering limiter, mud guards, sealed bearings and — perhaps most interestingly — a MonoSki attachment, allowing kids to transition “seamlessly from sun to snow.” It’s... more
LEGOs you can let go
Do you shudder a little when you buy your LEGO-loving kid yet-another set? Sure, they’re absolutely worth the cost, but they (and the cost) pile up fast. Solution: Rent LEGOs! Pley — a new monthly subscription service — is the Netflix of LEGOs (or Netbricks, you might say). You choose a set; they ship it; you build it, break it apart and... more
Parenting in the age of indulgence
’Tis is the season for excess and overindulgence. This time of year, we realize, isn’t quite normal. But, when you look at your family and consider the big picture, you might wonder: Are you giving your kids too much? Parents who are worried about overindulgence — and want simple strategies for what to do — are in luck: The University of... more
To the Salt Cave!
The Salt Cave — which opened last year in southwest Minneapolis — has expanded by adding a second cave in the basement of its location at 4811 Nicollet Ave. And this cave, loaded with 12,000 pounds of Himalayan rock salt, is tailor-made for kids.Toys and books are provided to engage children while they experience the health benefits of... more
Yoga for kids
Kid Yoga Minnesota and Sunshine Morning Care recently opened at 2836 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis. You’ll find kids’ yoga classes, of course, but also flexible morning child care, yoga camps, yoga training for classroom teachers and custom yoga classes for special needs individuals. Learn more at more
The best new toys!
Yep, we did it again.We packed a bunch of kids (including our own), age 6 months to 9 years, into a room filled with play things for our annual toy test. Look what they found! Note: Though we list specific local retailers — who helped make this toy test possible with donations and loaner toys — many other local retailers and online... more
Fan faves!
OK, Minnesota parents, it’s your turn! Yep, this month you’re taking over our Bookshelf department, sharing your favorite books. Don’t see your top picks here? Tell us: What’s your favorite children’s book of all time (or this week)? Send the title, your first and last name and your city of residence to and... more
Gotta-have-it gear
Babies and toddlers don’t, technically, need a lot of gear. But certain basics are essential (and it’s best to buy them new, not second hand): We’re talking pacifiers, teethers and sippy cups. Have a kid or two, and you’ll go through quite a few. Here are some of our favorites — old and new. Bonus: Want to learn how not to go crazy with... more
Lunch box inspiration
Is making a school lunch for your kid every day already feeling like an unbearable chore? We feel you! It’s time to get inspired: Minneapolis chef-mama Molly Herrmann doesn’t let the job get her down, even though her 9-year-old son, AJ, has peanut, tree-nut and shellfish allergies, plus a “bizarre aversion” to sandwiches (... more
Two new boutiques
OK, fashion-minded moms, we’ve got news for you: Two new clothing shops are now open in the Twin Cities!You’ll find NTY Kids just west of the Ridgedale shopping center in Minnetonka. Bright and cheerful, the shop is a pilot location for a new national chain of children’s resale stores. Among the store’s 50 featured brands you’ll find... more
A meal and cooking lesson in one
Imagine this: Family dinner is planned, the groceries are bought and all of the seasonings are measured and at your fingertips. But you didn’t have to do the leg work: All you have to do is turn up the heat in your kitchen.If you like to cook, but you dread answering the question: “What’s for dinner?”, check out Minneapolis-based... more
Fall fun on the farm!
Ah, autumn. It’s the perfect time to get out and explore Minnesota’s family farms. Here are a couple Minnesota Parent picks to get you inspired and motivated! (Hint: Bring cash or check. Not all farms take credit!)Pumpkin Patch PickOne of the ultimate destinations for fall family fun in the Twin Cities is Sever’s Corn Maze &... more
School choice? Plenty!
Educational choice is just one of the reasons Minnesota is a great place to raise our kids. Though traditional public schools in our state are some of the best, many Minnesota parents often take advantage of other avenues to education such as open enrollment in a school outside their home district, plus charter schools, magnet... more
Too much candy?
Is there such a thing? Kids on Halloween night will say, “No way!” But, parents, you know how easy it is to end up buried in sugary treats. What can you do? Check out the national Halloween Candy Buy Back program: Enter your ZIP at to quickly find numerous Twin Cities dentists and orthodontists willing to pay $1... more
Explaining cancer
Imagine finding out you have breast cancer at age 39. Then picture trying to tell your sons, age 3 and 6.That’s what Katy Tessman Stanoch of Minnetonka had to do, along with explaining her surgery (a double mastectomy) and chemo treatments. Immediately, she and her husband tried to find a book they could read to their boys to help... more
Get personal!
I See Me! My Farm Friends from I See Me! — a cool Plymouth-based publishing company — is all about introducing adorable farm animals to kids. This hardcover book comes customized with your child’s name and photo on nearly every page. Its interior pages are glossy and sturdy, not quite board-book quality, but tough and super cute.... more
Sleep, baby, please!
To a new parent, nothing sounds better than a little extra sleep! But how can you get it? The Amma Parenting Center Book of Sleep ($12.95) by the Edina-based parenting center’s founder, registered nurse and midwife Sara Pearce, offers advice. New this year, the book offers an alternative to a cry-it-out sleep training. Amma’s trademarked... more
All dressed up!
From left to right: Ella Greene, 8 months, Farmington; Charlie and Julia Hanson, ages 4 and 10 months, Rogers; Ian Gabriel Chacon, 6 months, Apple ValleyClockwise from top left: Cole Helgeson, 3, Waconia; Olivia Moe, 9 months, Bloomington; Sophia Liu, 2, Eden Prairie; Elijah Daniels-Kriz, 7 months, BurnsvilleSam and Max... more
Education Fair
Need a FREE activity this Saturday? Join us at Minnesota Parent’s 9th-annual Education Fair at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory! Check out a variety of vendors offering ed opportunities in the classroom and beyond. And let the kids take part in a host of cool attractions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., all free:• Photo-booth sessions... more
Why you should go to Ren Fest this weekend!
This year, I went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for the first time.Everyone I knew (across all age groups and walks of life) had raved about it. Arguments for the awesomeness of this so-called “Ren Fest” included:* Turkey legs!* Mead!* Jousting!* Unlike some festivals that throw up and tear down tents and exhibits in parking lots... more
Oh, baby! What now?
It’s finally out: our annual Baby Issue, highlighting that glorious stage of parenting — the first one — with all its mind-blowing joys, mystifying, frustrating challenges and personal growth you never thought possible!How could you love something this much? And — oh, yeah — why is it so hard? (Remember when you used to compare your dog... more
Mom wisdom for new parents
What could be more awesome than a new baby?If you’re secretly thinking: “A lot of things, actually,” I feel you. (As I've said previously, I didn't "take" to the early stages of motherhood very easily!)Your baby is supposed to be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. But your little darling can turn your life (body, mind, spirit)... more
Super s'mores
S’mores are easy: Toast your marshmallow, then squeeze it — and a piece of chocolate —between two graham crackers.But there’s a serious problem no one ever seems to talk about with this traditional recipe: The chocolate never melts. And the result is a dry treat.Solution: Use Nutella — silky smooth chocolate-hazelnut spread —... more
Baker's joy!
Every mama needs a creative outlet. For Ashley Stentz — who lives in Brooklyn Park and works (as director) at the Laurel Village New Horizon Academy in downtown Minneapolis — it’s making cakes for her friends and family, including her sons, Aiden, 5, and Connor, 1. Stentz learned to bake by watching her Finnish grandmother when... more
First grade isn't any easier!
My son starts school on Tuesday.First grade!I thought this year would be easier.But today I woke at 3:30 a.m., worried.Anxiety: He’s taking the bus home from school for the first time this year and I still haven’t heard back from the bus folks to make sure he's on the schedule. (I filled out the form a tad late.)Will the teacher know to... more
Dino Might
Jessica Flannigan of Maple Grove — author of the Live the Fancy Life blog — knows how to throw gorgeous parties. Her oldest son Bodhi’s third birthday party this past spring was no  exception, even though she was starting her third trimester of pregnancy during the planning.She simply went store-bought (... more
Stop party-present mayhem
Parenting is full of unexpected phenomena.One of the craziest, if you ask me, is insanity that ensues when a young child opens his or her birthday presents at a big, public party.It started for our family during the preschool years when we began having bouncy-house birthday parties for our son.After jumping around like crazy animals for... more
Playing with a stick is ‘magical’
“If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could see the pressure modern mothers put on themselves, they'd think we were insane.”That’s how Bunmi Laditan, the Quebec-based author of wildly popular “Honest Toddler” book and blog opened her post, “I’m Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical.”“Ah, yes,” I thought. “This is just what I need... more
Expect great things!
One of the trickiest things about parenting for me these past six years has been managing expectations.
It all started with What to Expect When You’re Expecting and What to Expect: The First Year. These books led me to believe my baby boy would behave in a certain way (the correct way). And if he didn’t, I was worried, frustrated and,... more
Spring is here! Right?
Well, time will only tell just when spring will arrive for good. But, when it does, you’ll be ready with our May issue of Minnesota Parent magazine!We're taking you to five different waterfalls across the state — perfect outings with young kids who really need a goal, such as a gorgeous destination, to get motivated. Then we’ll help you... more
Parenting 101
I have so much to learn.That’s what I keep thinking as I travel down the winding, wonderful road of parenthood with my 5-year-old son.Every time I think we’ve figured it out, I realize there’s more to discover. I want to teach our boy everything. I want to empower him to take care of himself. But what are best ways to do that in a... more