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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 — who lives in Maple Grove with her husband, Reed — is passing that love onto her daughter, Octavia, with an immersive nursery decorated with all things Hogwarts... more
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 and up •... more
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 removable... more
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 hidden in... more
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, Kitestring... more
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 Boost Social... more
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 supervision) for... more
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 collection.... more
“You don’t have to play the guitar, you know,” the photographer said to 15-year-old Donovan Mack.Sitting on a tall white box, Mack dangled his feet idly as he plucked notes from the instrument. “I like to,” he said, and the soft melody continued as Will Swanson, also 15, moved around him, snapping his camera, trying to capture different... more
Parents are unwittingly putting children in increased danger because of common car seat mistakes. Here's how to keep your favorite tiny passengers safe.Installation rules, manufacturer regulations, confusing gadgetry and ever-evolving laws that vary by age — trying to understand car seat safety can feel like falling blindly into a black hole.This... more
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 • amazon.com • etymotic.com more
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?”$17.99... more
Long before I'd considered the date, the venue, the menu or theme for my daughter's second-birthday party, I determined her outfit.Priorities, people. Therese McInally's pinafores, which are sold on her Cottontail Etsy site and were featured in my fall fashion round-up, have long impressed me. What's more, she is a delight to deal with -- and... more
Introducing Smiling Button dresses -- frocks as cute as the name! There's something about these dresses that feels different, like they're designed to be played in and enjoyed, not just unveiled for formal occasions. As the website notes: "We create everyday dresses for little girls that make as much sense for the playground as they do for... more
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 planting... more
 Q: We saw this supplement at Costco and on Amazon and we were intrigued because our 5-year-old has been presenting some ADHD-like symptoms at school. It promises to ‘support memory, concentration and focus.’ Is it worth a shot before trying prescription drugs? Reviews online seem positive.A: First it should be noted that 5-year-olds are... more
Q: My 3-year-old has insanely smelly feet. Help! A: Ah, one of the unforgettable aromas of childhood.Yes, kids have sweaty feet — and sweaty bodies — for a good part of the day. They’re constantly in motion, frequently breaking into sprints or suddenly wrestling with friends, often exercising on and off all day long. From a... more
What if you could peer into the mirror and see your future self peering back? It’s you, but you have wrinkles, bags under your eyes, gray hair. How startling would it be? More important, how would this sight change you?This isn’t speculative fiction. It’s something a team of researchers cooked up as a way to help young people make better decisions... more
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 sign up for e... more
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 are... more
Each year, 250,000 children in the U.S. are treated for exposure to cleaning products at home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.Finding alternatives to harsh, potentially harmful cleaning agents is one way to protect children from accidental poisonings.Fortunately, non-toxic cleaning products can be just as effective and are far... more
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 Minnesota... more
There’s regular PlayDoh (playdoh.com) and homemade play dough (tinyurl.com/playdough-mn). 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 you’re... more
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 only).... more
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 offers how-to... more
Are you looking for some children’s music that won’t drive you crazy? Check out the latest albums from an array of children’s artists who all offer — in their own ways — silliness to attract and engage kids, but also enough wry humor and up-tempo beats to charm their parents. Puns, jokes-so-bad-they’re-good, energetic rhythms and even... more
When our two sons, who are now 15 and 13, were getting old enough to start thinking seriously about money (a few years ago), they asked some really interesting questions.They ran the gamut from careers (could they get rich as writers?), advertising (young kids have a hard time telling the difference between ads and entertainment), product... more
Q: Which baby formula should we choose?A: Though the formula options available on store shelves can be dizzying — organic, iron-fortified, non-GMO, probiotic- and DHA/AHA-enhanced — the good news is, the major “brand name” formulas contain all the essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins needed for healthy infant growth and development. ... more
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 Focused... more
The first Tree of Life image I saw was in a closed Facebook group of breastfeeding mamas in the Twin Cities. Ashley Vanderwerf shared a photo she edited in a post to the group. Screenshot shared with permissionThe original post Her post was simple and beautiful:"I edited this picture of my daughter nursing. If anyone wants me to make them... more
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 save society... more
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 features with... more
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 routing.We... more
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 blocks —... more
Based on reviews, recommendations and a few personal favorites, this comprehensive holiday gift guide should cover everyone on your list!Chief criteria for adult gifts was either practicality -- something super useful -- or comfort, for the person who has everything but could use a little R&R. Kid gifts were selected for their fun and... more
We survived!In fact, the big day went as well as I possibly could've hoped.All year, Nov. 26 loomed large on our calendar. It would be the biggest day of our year, the wedding of my husband's younger brother. Much as I looked forward to this occasion, I also took a deep inhale: We're talking an out-of-state wedding where my husband would be... more
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 pro (and... more
Turn off the TV/tablet/phone/LeapFrog and play face to face with these 12 awesome, family-friendly games.Zoo on the LooseObjective: Lead five cuddly animal escapees on a playful adventure by following the directions on the cards. When the zookeeper card pops up, players must get the animals back in place as quickly as possible.... more
What’s that heavy weight you’re carrying over your shoulder? A big bag of gifts — or your holiday stress?Wow, it’s heavy this year. And why not? There’s plenty to stress about: Who will get mad if you don’t split up your family visiting time just perfectly? Will everything ship in time? Should you let Grandpa give the kids more video games?... more
Q: Our teenager listens to music with over-ear headphones and she CRANKS them so loud! What is her risk of noise-induced hearing loss?A: If you’ve ever been to a music concert and left experiencing ringing in your ears and difficulty hearing, you know firsthand that loud sounds can cause hearing damage. Most of the time, attending a... more
Ages 0–3Picture BooksGiraffes Can’t Danceby Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-ReesMeet Gerald, a giraffe who desperately wants to dance, but can’t quite get his long, wobbly legs to cooperate. With perseverance and a little encouragement from a new friend, Gerald succeeds. Gerald’s story will inspire your kids to try, try again, and make their dreams... more
Sometimes the toys children want the most are the very ones that cause parents uncertainty — not just about our budgets, but also our values. Items that top a kid’s wish list can present parents with a multitude of toy-buying dilemmas.It could be a doll that each of your child’s friends has, but comes with a hefty price tag. Or maybe it’s a... more
Four years ago on Election Day I brought my 9-month-old daughter with me to the polls. She obviously doesn't remember it, but I hope she'll remember coming to vote with me today.Personalizing Election Day I knew I'd get an iconic "I Voted" sticker after I feeding my ballot into the machine, but I didn't know if they'd give a sticker to my almost-... more
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. $45 •... more
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 school... more
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 from one... more
Check out the wide variety of local toy stores we are blessed with in the Twin Cities! ABC Toy Zone, Burnsville, Chanhassen and RochesterAir Traffic Kites and Games, six Twin Cities locations, including MOAAutism Shop (This store is now online only.)BuyBuy Baby, WoodburyChoo Choo Bob’s Train Store, St. PaulCreative Kidstuff, seven Twin... more
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 uses 4D... more
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE our annual Toy Issue. My kiddos have participated in the official Minnesota Parent Toy Test, and I even rely on the results for holiday ideas. I’ve also genuinely loved checking out all the cool new toy favorites — old and new — with my kids, neighbors, nieces and nephews during each stage of childhood. But the... more
I’ve combed lookbooks and mined the web. It’s time to present my favorite fall fashion for little ones!We’re talking fair-isle foxes, mouse mittens and pleated pinafores! Whether you’re heading to the pumpkin patch or snapping a photo for the Christmas card, there’s no better season to don your beautiful children in beautiful clothes. This fall it... more
Since becoming a MoM (Mom of Multiples), I've been fortunate enough to join some amazing Facebook groups where moms can share photos and stories, ask questions and offer advice — all in a safe and positive environment. I read a post from a mom with newborn twins who was struggling with nursing and pumping and wondering what to do. She asked... more
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.David Bianchi... more
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 results, too.... more
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 containers... more
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 (age 3)... more
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. $119... more
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 prevent... more
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 tutoring,... more
Few phrases excite me more than "city-wide garage sale."And tomorrow is the opening day of Inver Grove Heights' three-day city-wide sales, which run from Thursday, Aug. 25 to Saturday, Aug. 27.Neon signs are starting to crop up at intersections, and my heart is aflutter. I picked up the $1 directory outlining the 47 participating sales -- a... more
 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, including... more
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 bark.... more
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) has... more
 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 Becky ... more
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-back strain.... more
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 safe for... more
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 hooks for... more
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 contributed by... more
We're in the middle of a heat wave in Minnesota, and that means hot cars. Hot cars also mean hot car seats. Today I'd like to share a trick I figured out to help keep your little one's car seat (especially the buckles) from getting too hot. The idea came to me a couple weeks ago, and in the heat this past Wednesday I finally tested it out.... more
At some point, it happens to all parents. Your baby spits up all over in the crib. Or your toddler gets sick and throws up in bed. Or your recently-potty-trained preschooler has an accident while sleeping. When these things happen in the middle of the night, they're even more difficult to deal with. You need to clean up the mess as well... more
 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 for boys.We... more
When I found out I was carrying not one, but two babies, I was in shock. The funny thing about it was that I knew twins ran in my family and was trying to prepare myself for that possibility before I got pregnant with my (now 3-year-old) daughter. This time around, the possibility of twins hadn't even crossed my mind. After the news sunk in,... more
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 tested a... more
What exactly is a baby-carrying backpack?Well, it’s basically a framed hiking backpack with a built-in area — called the “cockpit” — to hold your baby or toddler.Backpack carriers are a great way for the whole family to experience adventures together — both on hiking trails in the woods as well as around town (at the zoo, farmer’s market or even... more
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 screenagersmovie.com, where parents also can find tons of resources — including “pro-social”... more
In anticipation of the summer travel season, we’re taking a look at five backseat books to keep the kids from whining the whole trip to Grand View Lodge, Grand Marais, Chicago, Milwaukee, Mount Rushmore, Wisconsin Dells, the cabin or wherever it is you’re going this year. Each of them is entertaining — and educational — in its own way.Get Ready... more
In Minnesota, we do a great job of making the most of winter, but we absolutely live for the immense relief at the end of our signature lengthy deep freeze. For parents of littles, there’s extra joy in the shift from bouncing off the walls to running barefoot and carefree through the fresh-cut grass. You’ve spent the winter months holed up,... more
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 heights, a... more
The Okee Dokee Brothers are releasing their third CD/DVD — Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album — on May 13. To celebrate, Minnesota Parent is giving away three signed copies! Enter to win by sending us a photo of your kid(s) playing outside for our June Outdoors Issue to editor@mnparent.com with a subject line of “SADDLE UP!” Please... more
When expecting our first child, we knew we were going to need a high chair, but we didn't know which one to choose. Our kitchen is pretty small, so we definitely didn't have space for a freestanding high chair — they seemed too big to me anyway. We agreed getting a high chair that straps onto a regular chair made the most sense. When... more
Non-alcoholic beer Saying that any wine or beer is non-alcoholic is a bit of a misnomer, since both can sometimes contain trace amounts of alcohol. Beers typically contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) in the U.S., which means you’d have to drink nine O’Doul’s to equal even one regular beer. German-brewed Clausthaler... more
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 available now.... more
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 store.discovery.com or amazon.com. more
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 theatrical... more
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 insights from... more
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 growing base of... more
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 items in the... more
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 board book... more
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) is... more
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
Said the gal who writes a parenting column: “What you REALLY need to know about parenting cannot be found in a book, blog or magazine.” If you follow me here at Toddler Time, you know I encourage readers to parent individualistically. We all have different levels of patience, different ideas about how long to breastfeed, different backgrounds... more
A new natural baby wipe has hit the market and the Amazon reviews are overwhelmingly positive (tinyurl.com/new-wipes). 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. You can... more
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 in 2015,... more
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 moms... more
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 accessories,... more
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
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 in any... more
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 health risks... more
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 Coloring... more
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
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 toothbrush and... more
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 out these... more
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 grandma’s house... more
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 members of... more
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 must-have... more
As a mom of four school-age kids I’m finding it necessary to put some  thought into how I manage and store the abundance of kid-made goodness that is starting to accumulate in our life. My husband and I encourage creativity at home and so our children’s art table is often overflowing, and our kids come home from school daily with unique... more
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, without getting... more
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 cute,... more
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, moved to... more
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), which has... more
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 attaching... more
If you Google “best toys for babies,” you’ll come up with more than 37 million results. The offerings are varied and extensive, including a $23 NogginStik rattle — “not just a toy, a tool for laying mental growth foundation” — and a melodic snail that promises to “enhance sensory awareness, visual skills and hand-eye coordination.” Indeed,... more
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 the Baby on... more
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 puts an... more
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 — provides some... more
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 new sets?... more
In the closet, on the shelf, under the bed, even underfoot … there are toys. They’re everywhere! The stuff kids’ dreams are made of are the same objects that create endless nightmares for parents — picking up, cleaning, sorting, finding missing pieces. Toy curation in a multi-child household is a never-ending story. Then there’s all the... more
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 teens.... more
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 make it easy... more
We all know Facebook isn’t famous for filling our lives with intelligent ideas. So imagine my surprise and delight the other day when I came across an FB advertisement for a device called the Bluapple that promised to save me $640 per year on groceries. Finally! All those hours spent on Facebook — liking family photos of people I hadn’t... more
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 your child... more
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 target.com. more
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 (definitely... more
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, $14... more
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 lather.... more
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
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 wooden... more
 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 localized... more
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 that makes it... more
 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 of school.... more
Objective: Bounce your balls onto the grid to create the required patternsAges: 7 and older, but younger kids can play tooPlayers: 2 to 4Cost: $17.99Why you’ll love it: This game is addictive, fast paced and quick to play. It makes a great birthday party game, or even an interesting way to decide who dries the dishes or picks up the toys... more
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 teacher... more
Is there anything better than sitting outside with an ice cream cone on a hot summer day? This ritual gives us a moment to pause, to stop and smell the lady slippers, to perhaps reclaim some unplugged family time, to look back on our own good old days of summer.We don’t go out for ice cream to sustain the body or... more
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 brothers! ... more
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
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 and throw... more
Objective: Collect the penguin’s eggs by remembering their colors when your turn rolls around.Ages: 4 and olderPlayers: 2 to 4Cost: $29.99Why you’ll love it: This imaginative twist on the classic Memory game not only features penguins, (and what kid doesn’t love penguins?), but it also develops brain-building recall skills.  Pengoloo... more
Our daughter was about to turn 2 and we thought we were ready to have another baby. My husband and I each grew up with an older sister and we wanted our daughter to grow up with a sibling, too. Watching her play with her dolls and stuffed animals really showed the potential she has to be an amazing big sister.It wasn't long before I suspected I... more
It’s bedtime plus 30 minutes, and the Essence of Sweetness, the Center of the Known Universe — for now, let’s call her Natalie — is drawing a line in the proverbial sand:“I’m not tired. It isn’t even dark. I can hear kids playing outside. No fair!”“Natalie, you should have been in bed a half hour ago.”“I’m not going to bed.” She faces... more
Take a browse through the local parks-and-rec or community ed brochures and you’ll be amazed, if not completely overwhelmed. Our wonderful Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs offer an extensive array of enrichment opportunities for the whole family. Talk to your neighbors and you’ll hear many parents breathlessly list off team sports and... more
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 kidsbowlfree.com for details.   more
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 cherries, pitted... more
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 empty (unlike... more
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 a full... more
 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 a... more
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 by the... more
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 you can... more
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 • chewbeads.com more
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
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 posters are 19... more
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.com, pick... more
Parents and grandparents around the world have been wearing infants for centuries, using a variety of slings, wraps and other contraptions. Though the practice is only just becoming a mainstream habit in modern Western culture, companies are offering a dizzying array of devices that allow parents to easily carry children from the newborn... more
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 and Book-O-... more
Name of the game: Rock Me ArchimedesObjective: Move your marbles from the center of the teetering platform to your end without letting either end to touch the ground.Ages: 8 and upPlayers: 2Cost: $34.99Why you’ll love it: This game not only helps kids (and even us adults) develop their strategizing and estimation skills, but it also... more
Name of the game: Sock Puppet CharadesObjective: Act out what’s on your card using sock puppets and a series of provided props.Ages: 8 and upPlayers: 3 to 6Cost: $24.99 Why you’ll love it: What could be more whimsical than a game of charades with the kids? Charades with sock puppets! And these sock puppets are adorkable as well as adorable... more
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
A couple weeks ago, we had some friends over for dinner. Their younger son came, too, and our boys were charged with entertaining him while the grownups hung out doing grownup things. The guys rose to the challenge by digging through their bins and shelves for toys that a younger dude might be interested in. That turned out to be a... more
Name of the game: Suspend and Suspend Jr.Objective: Hang all your pieces, suspended only by other pieces, without causing the whole structure to fall down.Ages: Ages 8 and older (kids as young as 4 can play the junior edition, pictured above)Players: 1 to 4Cost: $16.99–$19.99Why you’ll love it: This game is simple enough for anyone with... more
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
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 delightfully... more
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 include Petal... more
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
I attended my first JBF sale (that's Just Between Friends if you don't know out about them yet) last September. I had a list of a few things I was looking for, but I also didn't know what to expect. It was impressively organized and made shopping less overwhelming. The first pair I stopped to check out some shoes and found these funky shoes... more
Ah, the joy of preparing for a new baby! Stockpiling tiny sleepers, making lists of names, picking out adorable crib sheets and … researching breast pumps! OK, so maybe contemplating breast pumps isn’t at the top of your list of fun things to do during your third trimester. Maybe you don’t know if you really need one. Maybe you’re overwhelmed... more
One of the most exciting times of a woman’s pregnancy is decorating her baby’s nursery. Like so many new mothers-to-be, I spent hours researching the safest car seats, cribs and toys. I baby-proofed everything in the house. When it came time to convert our spare bedroom into a nursery for our soon-to-be-born daughter, I knew not to use... more
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 extracts.And if... more
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 loved packing... more
My 2-year-old daughter loves playing in water, so I thought signing us up for some parent/child swimming lessons would be a good idea. It's been really great spending time in a warm pool in the middle of winter. I signed us up to take a Parent & Child Class through Bloomington/Richfield Community Education Services. We've had five lessons... more
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). thecibo.com • $24.99  more
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 volume of... more
Q: My toddler (20 months) is starting to climb out of her crib. Do we need a toddler bed already? A:  Yes. For your daughter’s safety, transitioning to a toddler bed is recommended. The act of climbing out of the crib is dangerous. It could result in a limb fracture from an arm or a leg trapped in between the crib slats, or, because... more
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, Freemie,... more
The first cookies I ever baked from scratch were peanut butter. I remember how amazing they tasted straight out of the oven — with a glass of cold milk, of course! (I also remember how hard and crunchy they were the next day — regardless of what kind of container I stored them in, but we'll get to that later.) The idea. Last... more
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 for free... more
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 on! This... more
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 the Twin... more
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, too! All... more
Playing games is a fun way to unplug from our many electronic devices — and build a sense of connection as a family. Board games, stacking games and card games also provide educational opportunities for children to practice important social skills such as taking turns, self-control, communication and perseverance. Check out these quick, fun and... more
I was recently asked: What gifts do teachers really want for the holidays?I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some ideas based on my insights as both a primary schoolteacher and frugal mother of four who’s working to make sure gifts I purchase during this holiday season have both meaning and purpose.First of all, I must say:... more
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, straws... more
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 with... more
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 recommended... more
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 send it... more
One of the biggest sources of holiday stress, at least for me, is gift giving — especially when it comes to kids. As parents, we want to make our children happy, but we don’t want to spend a million dollars doing it. Many of us are also wary of overindulging our budding consumers. Shouldn’t our kids experience a healthy dose of disappointment... more
The baby mobile. That adorable musical nursery accessory expectant mothers envision as part of the ideal nursery for their baby. I was no different. The bedding set I fell in love with was the Disney Baby Peeking Pooh crib set. I've been a Winnie the Pooh fan for as long as I can remember and I'm especially partial to Tigger. The bedding set... more
Q: My 5-year-old watches a lot of TV, but he’s also playing at the same time with LEGOs. Does this count as screen time?A: Yes, it counts. Reducing screen time to no more than two hours per day is a good approach with all children, regardless of what else they may be doing at the same time. Multitasking with LEGOs is probably... more
’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 Minnesota... more
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 salt bricks... more
I take a lot of photos of my daughter... and I mean a LOT. We took her to the Minnesota Zoo for the first time over the weekend, and I took over 200 photos between by phone and digital camera. We were at the zoo for about four hours. When photographing my daughter, I usually take about 10 photos at a time in hopes that I'll end up with one... more
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 outlets... more
It was official — I was pregnant. I'd suspected I could be, taken a home test and gotten confirmation from my doctor's office. What happened next?One of the first things I did after getting the results from my blood test was to go to Target and pick up a copy of the book every expectant mother should read. Of course I'm talking about What to... more
Walk into your average toy store, and the thing you notice almost immediately is the noise. There are toys that talk. Toys that sing. Toys that beep and chirp and make all sorts of other indescribable sounds. And many of these toys will bring joy to the children who receive them.But how long will that joy last? And will these toys help stimulate... more
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 editor@mnparent.com and you’ll be... more
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 baby-... more
In 1977, when I was in first grade, all I wanted for Christmas was a pair of Zips tennis shoes. The commercial that ran during Saturday-morning cartoons (tinyurl.com/zips1977) was brilliant. It opened with a boy lacing up a pair of bright orange Zips on his front steps and an announcer saying in a weighty voice, “When you put on a pair of... more
It’s a common scenario for a new mom out in public — a grandmotherly woman approaches you to ooh and ahh over your baby, usually commenting, “It goes so fast!” On the day in question for me, I was out with my 6-month-old son at the grocery store, fielding the usual comments from a friendly older woman. “What a sweetheart!” she said as Felix... more
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 Abercrombie... more
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 Homegrown Foods,... more
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 halloweencandybuyback.com to quickly find numerous Twin Cities dentists and orthodontists willing to pay $1 per pound... more
Being a new mom is overwhelming. Amidst the post-delivery waves of emotions, you're expected to know details about everything relating to your baby. In the hospital, the nurses ask you how many wet or dirty diapers has your newborn had today (and they're speaking in 24-hour increments since the time of birth, not calendar days), when did you last... more
All parents want what’s best for their kids, and we feel guilty when we skimp on them, even if money’s tight. But new parents are especially vulnerable. They’re stressed out, sleep-deprived, bubbling with hormones, and they’re pretty sure they’re making lots of mistakes. Who could blame them for spending big on the deluxe crib-sheet... more
Making baby food at home is a great way to save money. It also cuts down on the amount of garbage and recycling you produce compared to buying prepackaged baby food. Another crucial product I used when making baby food for my daughter was my DYMO LetraTag Personal Label Maker. It's really easy to use, and you can switch label cartridges in a... more
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 (mostly Target... more
The other night, my 13-year-old came up to me while I was working at the computer. “I have done the math,” he said. “And you owe me $92.”Whoa, what? He was right. Last week I’d borrowed $40 when I needed cash. The other $52 was because my wife and I had forgotten to pay his allowance of $13 for four weeks running. Sure, it’s a... more
If you're going to make baby food at home, I recommend preparing large batches of a few different foods at one time. You'll spend less time prepping everything and cleanup will go a lot quicker. This will save time compared to making small batches of food throughout the week.You can freeze the food so it's ready when you need it. I found some... more
Making baby food at home takes time and effort, but I've found a few tools to help make it easier. When it comes to pureeing the food, blenders and food processors are loud (and annoying to clean). I found a great tool that doesn't use electricity and is much quieter — the Smooth Chopper I bought from a Tupperware party. On... more
After the success we had giving our daughter fresh mashed banana instead of prepackaged baby food (see my previous post), we decided to attempt making all of her baby food ourselves. Since we started with a fruit, we decided try a vegetable next. I steamed some carrots using my Baby Bullet Turbo Steamer — this thing worked great! It's... more
$2.97. I felt a swell of satisfaction as I cut the price tag off the superhero T-shirt. What a steal. But the feeling was short-lived. After my most recent hauls from the clearance racks were outright rejected by my kids, I figured this shirt would never see a chocolate ice cream dribble or muddy sleeve.Keeping kids clothed with the cash you... more
Our first attempt at giving our daughter solid food besides baby cereal/oatmeal didn't start out well. She'd been expressing interest in everything we were eating for a couple weeks; she would even smack her lips sitting in the exersaucer while we ate like she was trying to show us she was ready to eat “real” food like us. We tried... more
I am a graphic designer, wife, and fairly new mom. My 17-month-old daughter loves reading books, climbing up onto furniture, running around in the yard and playing with her toys. My main hope for this blog is to share information about products I’ve used with or for her. Please note that everything you read on this blog is truthful and... more
As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to keep your kids as safe as possible. But when it comes to car-seat safety, it’s often easier said than done.  Not only do the laws change when new information about best practices becomes available, sometimes we assume that the legal requirements (see resources below) are enough, when, in... more
Q: My 10-year-old daughter is highly allergic to bee stings and has been prescribed an Epi-Pen to use if she ever gets stung. How can I help her overcome her fear of having to use this shot?A: Practice, practice, practice. If it’s been a while since you received this prescription for your child, you may want to check with the office that... more
 Even a short period of time standing on a hard wood or tile floor while cooking or dish-washing can spell aches for days. If you like spending time in the kitchen, but the possibility of a sore back has you considering take-out, give this mat a try. Available in an astonishing number of colors, faux finishes and sizes, the gel-filled mat won... more
This kind of goes against our “no single-use kitchen gadgets” rule, but, hey, you could use it for limes and that counts as two things, right? Either way, it’s sleek, stylish and sturdy, and it works like a charm, so we’re okay bending the rules a bit. No more sweating to make lemonade, this tool makes juicing a breeze, keeping all the seeds... more
Honestly, we just pluck off the leaves and eat strawberries whole when the season rolls around! But we know that the kiddos can be picky about the less-flavorful white hulls, and it’s better to remove them if you’re baking or cooking with the tasty fruit anyway. This little tool lets kids get in on the action too, no need for a sharp paring knife... more
Hard cheeses, garlic, nutmeg, citrus, cinnamon, ginger — use it for a variety of items and get great zest from each, with very little elbow grease needed! Easier to clean than a bulky box grater, with a nice comfy handle and a slick look, too. Keep the plastic sheath it comes in to preserve that nice and sharp cutting surface, and to protect your... more
There’s nothing quite like a silky-smooth, beautiful wood cutting board to make your prep work enjoyable, and what could be better than knowing yours came from a tree nearby, reclaimed and recycled in Minnesota! Wood from the Hood takes discarded trees from urban neighborhoods across Minnesota to create a huge variety of products, from picture... more
We love multi-purpose kitchen gadgets, and this one makes an appearance during most cooking sessions. Use it to serve, flip meats, toss veggies or salads and more. The scalloped edges allow for a great grip on a lot of food surfaces and they’re easy to hold. They lock closed for easy storage, and a gentle push on the ring pops them open — only one... more
Raw kale salad Tamari pumpkin seeds more
A: The good news is that gone are the days when children were basically forced to do everything right handed — even if they preferred their left hand. Your daughter will likely learn a variety of techniques to help her adjust to many right-handed activities. If you know someone who is left-handed — like your husband — they will be able to... more
It's important for kids to drink lots of water during those hot summer days, so don't purchase just any average water bottle! S'well is made of non-leaching and non-toxic stainless steel and will keep a drink cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. The sheer variety of colors and finishes of these bottles lets kids pick one they'll be happy to keep at... more
If your child is heading off to day camp and bringing along a lunch, all those sandwich baggies each day can add up. Skip the plastic and get these reusable, toxin-free lunch sacks, with varying sizes for items from tiny snacks to fully-loaded sandwiches and full lunch totes with durable handles. Pop them in the dishwasher at night and they're... more
Long sleeves may seem counter-intuitive, but the intense UV-blocking power of this fabric means no more hassling with slimy sunscreen. The two-piece suits make it easy to run quick to the bathroom and to remove a wet suit when swim time is over. Additionally, the zipper is covered in the back so it won't irritate sensitive skin, and the absence of... more
A small lantern with serious power. The narrow beam of a flashlight can restrict activities in low-light camping situations, but set one of these little guys up and you're good to go with 360 degrees of light over 15 feet. Small enough and lightweight to send off to summer camp — using just 4 AA batteries — and equipped with a hook perfect for... more
Babies. What an excellent excuse to make googly eyes, goofy sounds, and to splurge on adorable newborn outfits. Is your favorite person about to give birth? Chuck the outfits, the booties, and the bottles. What every new parent does need is more time and more money. Both are in short supply.Unfortunately, you can’t add hours to the clock or... more
If you have a tween, you’ve been parenting long enough to have navigated a number of safety issues regarding your offspring, whether it’s seat belts, sunscreen, or secondhand smoke. But if you’re like me, you may have overlooked a concern that’s been right under your nose all along—or, more accurately, on either side of your head: hearing loss.... more
Put your money where your mouth is. I knew when I had three kids that I’d spend loads on diapers and the equivalent of a second mortgage on childcare. And I’d heard parents of older kids complain about their astronomical grocery bills. But it wasn’t until this summer, when my kids would lumber in and I’d find myself writing to the rhythmic... more
“I walked around the house wearing the comforter off our bed—as a clothing item—more often than I would like to admit.”“My son is eight months old. It took me until last month to finally find time to get a haircut!”“Most of the time I was sitting at home in my underwear and a tank top.”This is some of the feedback I received from Facebook friends... more
Hopefully your family hasn't personally experienced a job loss or pay cut in this gloomy economy, but chances are you know someone who has. Even if you feel relatively removed from this recession, saving money is on most everyone's mind, thanks to the dismal headlines. But there comes a point when you feel you can't cut anymore. If you've reached... more