Katie Dohman
Hot Stuff
I still have a great wardrobe — even if I can’t leave my house. Some friends and I started @DistanceinDisDress on Insta to see each other’s faces and dress in our most ridiculous — and cute — clothes for inspiration and a moment’s silliness. Everyone’s welcome — no dress required! DM your photo to join the feed or just follow along.instagram.com/distanceindisdress more
Immunity booster
Give your immune system a daily boost with these dissolvable tablets from Nuun. I like to add one to my water bottle each day for a little flavor and a blend of electrolytes, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, including zinc, turmeric, elderberry, ginger and echinacea. — Megan Devine$7 (10 servings) • nuun.com 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 appliances.thedoorguardian.com • $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 • rubyscootz.com more
Wearable mantras
Inspirational and motivational cozy-knit tops abound on the Etsy store created by Southeast Minnesota mother of two and elementary-school counselor Katie Jeseritz.Her T-shirt offerings ($21.50) include social- emotional learning catchphrases about kindness and self-belief as well as delightfully cheeky counselor themes like: “You... more
I heart Katy Vernon
London-born Twin Cities songbird Katy Vernon wields a big voice and a tiny instrument — the ukulele.I caught the sweet mother-daughter video for the dance-worthy, trumpet-laden In Your Shoes (For Daisy) and dissolved in a puddle of tears. The good kind.katyvernon.com • tinyurl.com/in-your-shoes  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 editor@mnparent.com... 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).bananapanda.com... 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
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
Bright book
Take your family on an exotic trip with more than 200 stunning, colorful photographs of India’s architecture, markets, cuisine, art and everyday life in Christine Chitnis’s new book: Patterns of India: A Journey Through Colors, Textiles and the Vibrancy of Rajasthan. A photographer, wife and mother of three, Chitnis weaves historical 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 • edushape.com more
Cleaning sprays
Eco-friendliness is always important to me, but the big reason I keep coming back to Biokleen bathroom cleaner and Bac-Out is because they work better than anything else I’ve ever tried. Plus they smell delicious.  biokleenhome.com 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
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 • annwilliamsgroup.com more
Bath salts
Banish yourself to the bathroom with me. I love Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution, even if I don’t understand how it works. I like the sweet-orange pink Himalayan best, but the coconut and lavender are lovely, too.$5 • target.com  more
Mom mittens
Hestra’s insulated Moon Mitts are expensive, but they’re life-changing — a puffer coat for your hands. They’ve got leather palms for good gripping, and they wear tough as iron, year after year. Find more parent-tested products and cool ideas for enduring Minnesota’s cold and darkness at mnparent.com/how-we-winter and mnparent.com/thrive... 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 • rockitrocker-usa.com more
Relaxy pants
Thanks to my sister — who delivered these softest-soft joggers to me for my recovery — I discovered Hello Mello loungewear. You'll never want to take off these Carefree Threads Black Jogger Pants.$25 • hellomello.store  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
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
Local lip balm
Twin Cities-based Kind Lips is on a mission to make the world a better place with its 100% natural, gluten-free, cruelty-free, organic lip balm — available in tasty flavors like Georgia Peach, Sweet Mint and others, plus unscented. In addition to its mantra to #saysomethingkind, the brand is spreading goodwill by donating 20% of its... more
Book-making site
If your kids’ art is cluttering up your house, you can digitize it and publish it as a keepsake using a variety of cool apps such as ArtKive, Canvsly or Keepy. But we recently stumbled on a cheaper path: Bookemon! It’s a website (not an app) — and the interface isn’t swish — but you can put together photo books (and more) for far less.... 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 • target.com 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 • molarmuncher.com 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 • target.com 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 • weegallery.com 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
Keys/phone locator!
Oh, the stress and time I have saved with a Tile. I hit a button on my phone or my keys, which then beeps the phone or keys, so I can find them—fast.$25 • thetileapp.com 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
Okayest necklace
So this is cool: A piece of jewelry was inspired in part by my World's Okayest Mom column.Larissa Loden’s Worlds Okayest Mama necklace comes with three postcards with funny, smart phrases of encouragement.Bonus: $5 from each purchase goes to Everyday Miracles and the Jeremiah Program, both local organizations.$56 • larissaloden.com 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 • amazon.com 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 board.geojango.com • $99 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
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 • annwilliamsgroup.com 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
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! lakeshorelearning.com • $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 inches.fusiongates.com • $199–$429 more
Micro journal
This is the closest I come to making baby books: Modern One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book encourages you to pen just a few sentences a day. Mine’s filled with the magical and the mundane — when I manage to fill it in. When I look back on it, I’m flooded with memories that might not have ... more
Skin-care splurge
I'm vain, and haven’t slept in years, so I’m constantly trying to preserve what unlined skin I have left — without needles or lasers. My new fave is Little Barn Apothecary’s Calendula + Lycopene Hydration Mask and Mild Exfoliant — one of the few I can tolerate with dry, sensitive skin. I’m noticeably glowier after 20 minutes... 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
Zen for kids
One of my faults is my firecracker temper. Meditate With Me: A Step-By-Step Mindfulness Journey, geared toward ages 4 to 8, has been awesome for my children — and me — because its 40 instructive pages help us all practice mindfulness.$17.99 • amazon.com 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
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
Indie rock
Courtney Barnett’s latest, Tell Me How You Really Feel, reminds me I’m still a little wild grunge rocker at heart. I just dance with my babies in the dining room instead.$19 on vinyl • amazon.com  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 • brio.us 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) grabease.com more
Chic urban salon
The other day a woman stopped me and said, “I love how your hair matches your pants.” I guess I inadvertently started a new trend. My six-week appointments at Haus Salon (two Minneapolis locations) refresh my color and also my outlook. They also reset my patience with my kids. — Katie Dohmanhaussalon.com 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 mayoclinic.org.$39.95–$49.95 • amazon.com more
Lip color
Need an instant face or mood pick-me-up? Get to know Lakshmi, a blazing pink lip color from the local miracle workers at The Elixery. Teeth gleam, eyes sparkle, can't lose.$22 • elixery.com/lakshmi more
Project inspiration
I highly recommend this new book by Patty Palmer, the founder of the Deep Space Sparkle site and the creator of The Sparkle Club, an online community of teachers around the world. Draw, Paint, Sparkle: Creative Projects from an Elementary Art Teacher features 25 kid-tested lessons in drawing and painting, all geared toward... 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 • petitcollage.com more
Hand-knit dolls
Meet the most Instagrammable stuffed animals ever. Cuddle + Kind dolls are fair trade, hand knit by Peruvian artisans. More than two dozen characters — available in 13- and 20-inch sizes ($50–$70) — can be paired with coordinating 10x10 prints on cardstock ($20 each). With every item sold, children in need receive free meals.... more
Kid nail clippers
Nix the nippers and use the finer, nuanced blades of cuticle scissors for trimming kids’ nails. See better and cut more accurately. No boo-boos, owies or bandages, just salon-worthy mani/pedis.  $6.29 • amazon.com 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 • kiddywampus.com 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
The sweatshirt dress
Sweatshirt dresses are wardrobe chameleons. Also known as T-shirt dresses, they feel like your favorite hoodie and can be worn with tennies and a macaroni necklace, but polish up nicely with heels and statement jewelry.  — Katie Dohman$98 • athleta.com 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
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
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 • hydawaybottle.com 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 • copperpearl.com 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
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
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 • louloulollipop.com 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 • bambinomio.com/usa 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 • lakeshorelearning.com 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 • curiousjanecamp.com  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
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
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
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
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 • target.com, amazon.com 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 • lakeshorelearning.com 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
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 • securebeginnings.com 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 • peopletoy.co 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
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
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 • snapsproutapp.com 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
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
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 • amazon.com 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
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
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
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 • amazon.com • etymotic.com 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
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 (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... 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
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 tinyurl.com/... 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Clever ideas!
Mother of two Asha Dornfest started her ParentHacks.com 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
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
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
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 screenagersmovie.com, where parents also can find tons of resources — including “pro-... 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
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 store.discovery.com or amazon.com. 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
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
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 (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... 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
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 readproudlistenproud.com. 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
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
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
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
Grade-booster for teens
Not every kid excels in high school. If you have a teen whose grades need improvement, don’t lose hope. According to author Barbara Dianis, an education specialist, ADD/ADHD academic coach, there are proven strategies and techniques students can utilize to transform their grades and raise their class rank. In her 150-page paperback,... 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
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 target.com. 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
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
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
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
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
Game on: Bounce Off
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... 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
Game on: Pengoloo
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. ... 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
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
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 • chewbeads.com 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
Game on: Rock Me Archimedes
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... more
Game on: Sock Puppet Charades
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... 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
Game on: Suspend and Suspend Jr.
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... 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
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
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). thecibo.com • $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
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 inroadtoys.com. Price: $7.99–12.99 more
GelPro Kitchen Mat
 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-... more
Sur La Table Lemon Juicer
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... more
Chef’n Strawberry Huller
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... more
Microplane Zester and Grater
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... more
Wood From the Hood Cutting Board
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... more
Stainless Steel Locking Tongs
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... more
S'well Water Bottle
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... 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... 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... more
Made right here in Minnesota, these backpacks are known for their durability — you can tell by their lifetime warranty — and won't let a little (or a lot) of dirt or water wear them down. Have your little camper head out in style with the rustic envelope backpack perfect for shorter overnight stays or day trips, or with a box-style pack... more
Name Bubbles
It's always wise to mark you child's belongings before they head to camp, but this time use Name Bubbles and there's no risk of it washing away or rubbing off, as these are laundry and dishwasher safe. Kids can choose a customized style and pattern that might make them more inclined to accept the labels over Mom's old-fashioned marker.... more
Frogglez Goggles
If you've ever had to struggle with traditional swim goggles, only to have them slid down your child's head, pinch their ears or pull their hair, here's a solution: An inventive dad created these non-slip, easy to use children's googles that eliminate the frustration and discomfort normally associated with goggles. The unique shape of... more
Brusha brusha
Banana Brushes’ special silicone bristles create a massaging, soothing stimulation that helps budding teeth break through the tough gum tissue. And, because the products are so easy for a toddler to hold and manipulate on their own, it becomes easy for them to shift the brush to the precise spot where they are in need of a little pain... more
Chew it
Juniorbeads are safe for children age three and up as a sensory tool and are a safe alternative to chewing on clothing, hair or nails. Breakaway clasp, easy to clean, waterproof, and heat resistant. One hundred percent silicone, no BPA, PVC, phthalates, cadium, or heavy metals. more
Bathtime fun
Tired of bathtime play that ends up with more water outside of the tub than in? Curious and very active toddlers will love playing with Tubby Table, and you will love its non-slip bathmat, perforated table top that keeps water from pooling up, and adjustable height pedestal.   more
Lacy leggings
Three great colors (pink, white, black) and comfortable as well. Won’t leave marks on your child’s legs due to binding. Plus, they’re machine washable! Sizes up to age 24 months.   more
Lead the way
Stick this light to lead the way to middle of the night bathroom trips. Mr. Beams night light detects motion—and no outlet is required. Of course, we can’t stop the dog from tripping the light fantastic at midnight, but it will also help a newly anointed potty chair user get to where he or she … needs to go. more
Warm enough
Keep an eye on the tub temperature with Moby Floating Bath Thermometer. Shaped like a whale for ultimate cuteness, the color changing LED indicates hot or “just right temperature” water. When not in use, the Moby can suction to any tiled surface for easy storage. more
LED Mini Camping Lanterns
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... more
Storage central
The Windel is a beautifully designed, chic furniture cabinet housing a 16 x 20 picture frame on the outside, yet when opened, has shelving for storage of baby products. The outside parts of the cabinet contain carved out slots that allow you to quickly remove baby wipes and diapers without opening the cabinet.The unit can later transform... more
To go
Eco-friendly and with stroller hooks included, the stylish Lassig bag from Skip Hop with bottle holder looks very little like the bags our mothers carried. This bag has style! One hundred percent water repellant, too.amazon.com; about $250 more
The 360° Sealer Diaper Disposal Bin from Tommee Tippee is easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to empty. Just drop the diaper in the top and twist the dial to seal. No need to push your hand into the diaper pail, the diaper easily drops into the receptacle so the process is hygienic and has less mess. Best? No stink.babiesrus.com; about... more
Carry on
The BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier Miracle fits newborns and grows with baby up to approximately 15 months. As baby grows, parents can switch between carrying their child facing them or facing forward, in secure contact at all times. The entirely new and adjustable design features a padded waist belt, comfortable back support, and wide shoulder... more
Sit up
The Trip Trapp high chair from Stokke is a modern classic invented in 1972 and is the only chair that can grow with your child from baby to adult. Adjust the height of the seat and the footrests, add or remove a seat or cushions—the sky’s the limit. We also love the sleek style and bold colors.stokke.com; starting at about $250 more
Get moving
The compact Armadillo stroller features a unique inward fold that protects the stroller’s fabric and allows parents to quickly collapse the stroller using only one hand. The extra large hood, fully structured large seat, flip flop-friendly rear break, and bright color selection provides parents with flexibility, style, and simplicity—and... more
For dad
Hand-knotted in the U.S. by designer Coco Paniora Salinas, this macramé bracelet for men is washable and also waxed for durability, so no need to remove it. We appreciate its colorful and stylish look; adjustable in size as well. more
For mom
Make her mistletoe moments that much better with certified organic Lip delivery Antioxidant Gloss from Intelligent Nutrients. And while you’re at it, get her the holiday appropriate Cranberry Glow tone—guaranteed to get her in the holiday spirit. more
For big kids
The rules are simple: up to four players get 10 dice each; someone says, “go!” The first person to get all 10 die to show the same number (such as 10 5s, for example), wins! This was the 2012 Toy of the Year from the American Toy Retailing Association and 2013 Game of the Year by Learning Express. There are a few more rules, but it’s fun... more
For baby
The Difrax 3-stage orthodontic pacifier system accommodates baby’s growth and development with its unique butterfly shape and sizes to fit mouths up to age 18+ months. The last-stage pacifier is designed to help break the habit when baby no longer needs it.  more
For Fido
Shampooch! Beauty has gone to the dogs! Give Fido or Fifi a good old-fashioned scrub down with 3waybeauty's newest bar. Minnesota-made and manufactured Doggystyle grooming bar is free of parabens, gluten, phthalates, mineral oils, and more. more
Hang it
Hang itSkip the spruce and decorate for the holidays with a natural artisanal wreath from California's Creekside Farms. We love how the company artfully combines fresh magnolia, cedar and juniper along with accents of pomegranates, pine cones, echinops and elegant red and green shimmery ribbon. It measures 22". Other styles... more
Spear it
Serve up your appetizers in style with beautifully detailed coral cocktail forks in 24-karat gold-plated brass and stainless steel with coral-motif accents. Adorn your hors d’oeuvres with whimsical flair! more
Plate it
Martha Stewart has done it again, offering up a beauty of a cobalt cake stand for your fanciest holiday treat.  more
Brew it
Ready to serve dessert? Brew up a tasty pot with the Panasonic “Breakfast Collection” coffee maker. With high quality stainless steel that doesn’t smudge (!), an aroma selector for milder or stronger brews, paperless filter, and an eight-cup capacity, this is one cool brewmaster. more
Drink it
The “Socks Rolled Down” glassware line from marimekko is available in a variety of colors and sizes, from flute glasses to pitchers, platters, dessert bowls, and goblets. Each piece is individually made by way of mouth-blown glass. Dress up your table in slouchy style. more
Run it
Metallic tones are always a hot choice for holiday tables. Mimicking an oversized oval chain, this pressed Mod table runner from Chilewich (also obtainable in placemat size) is available in brass, gunmetal, and silver. Easy to clean, too, with a quick wipe. more
Name it
Holiday entertaining means lots of delicious food, but presenting food elegantly can be tricky. Help is here with a great appetizer tray that lets you tell your guests what you are serving. It has a bamboo base and three removable ceramic bowls, plus (bonus!) chalkboard spaces below to write what’s inside each to avoid any food... more
Serve it
Serve straight up martinis on the sophisticated 11” x 17” Lucite tray from Jonathan Adler with stylish monogram. We love how sturdy and easy to handle the tray is. Yes indeed: you are in for a tasteful event. more
Wrap it
Keep your cable cords neat and give your charger some personality with CableKeeps. Goldie (shown) is for iPhone; but there’s also Nibbles (iPad) as well as Spike and Ink (we’ll let you go to their website to see what these little guys take care of). more
Lock it
Lightweight and portable, it’s easy to lock up small valuables with the Master Lock 6900D. Think cell phones, iPods, jewelry, or anything else you don’t want someone to get into. Easy to tuck into a small space, or lash its enclosed cable around a fixed object. Set your own combo. There’s even a small access point if you want to plug in... more
Protect it
And when we say “protect”—we mean your lap. From your laptop. Keep those EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields) away from skin with The DefenderPad, a laptop radiation and heat shield. Lightweight, and also free of PVC, BPA, and more, you can feel secure that your body is protected. more
Power it
When your child says their phone ran out of battery—that’s why they didn’t call—toss a charged up FatCat PowerBar 4200 into their backpack. It holds enough battery power to charge any mobile phone, smartphone, or iPod device twice. Plug your device into the cat and charge it on the go. What’s your excuse now, kid? more
Shine it
One way to help students of all ages get the most out of study time is by replacing a traditional desk lamp with a clear, bright full-spectrum light. Naturally lit study environments have also proven to positively impact students’ abilities to understand study materials, resulting in increased math and reading test scores.Our parent... more
Hear it
After one month, our parent tester reported back: “We really love it!” Well, they should: the VTech Safe&Sound Video Baby Monitor won a 2013 National Parenting Publication Award in recognition for its value and feature-packed full-motion capabilities. Says new mom, Becca, “Easy to use: This was literally plug and play. I was so... more
Rock it
This is one comfy cradle. The BabyBjörn Cradle Harmony is made of lightweight, transparent, breathable mesh fabric that allows for easy supervision. Its innovative design—free of any bars or parts that could trap little hands and feet—turns a baby’s movements into gentle rocking that soothes and relaxes them to sleep.  more
Cuddle it
One part stuffed animal, one part pacifier, the WubbaNub is an adorable take on the traditional pacifier. The attached plush toy isn’t just there to look cute, either; it’s a good size for little hands to grab and easily manipulate. Available in a variety of animals, including monkeys, lambs, and bears.  more
Swaddle it
Swaddling your baby has never been easier than with the TrueWomb swaddling system. Its innovative design allows babies to move and kick while staying safely and snugly wrapped. It’s easy to use, and designed to help alleviate problems like colic that interrupt baby’s sleep—and yours.  more
Carry it
Tote those burp cloths in style with Skip Hop’s Light and Luxe diaper bag. It’s lightweight and functional, made from easy to clean laminated fabric and has zippers that make changing its shape from a tote to a handbag a snap. Available in three bold Jonathan Adler prints, making it as fashion-forward as it is functional.   more
Soothe it
Autumn is on the way, and that means one thing: cold weather is too. Protect your baby’s delicate skin with Noodle & Boo’s Ultimate Ointment. Chock full of vitamins and skin-loving ingredients, it helps reduce dryness, redness, and inflammation and creates a protective barrier on the skin to repel moisture and sources of irritation. more
Mix it
Fumbling through late night or on-the-go feedings is a thing of the past. With the Mixie Baby Bottle, mixing formula with superhero-like speed is as easy as pushing a button. Just fill the special air tight compartment in advance with formula, and the bottle with water. Whenever hunger strikes just push the button to release the formula... more
Tote it
Pack your snacks in this adorable pachyderm-shaped Trunk box. Its simple design is as functional as it is cute, with a clear top that lets you see everything inside without opening it. The divided storage compartments work great for carrying smaller items, like arts and crafts supplies, while keeping them organized. more
Zip it
With its googly eyes and toothy grin, the Zipit Monster Pouch is more ferocious than your run-of-the-mill pencil bag. Made entirely of one long zipper, this pouch can gobble up stray pens, pencils, and other supplies and can be clipped into a binder for easy storage. Available in blue, pink, green, and orange.  more
Reuse it
It’s estimated that 20 million plastic sandwich bags go into U.S. landfills each day. Help your kids do their part to reduce that number with ReUsies reusable snack and sandwich bags made from 100% cotton. They’re lined with leak-resistant nylon, and come in adorable designs that can make them useful for holding more than just munchies.... more
Sip it
Keep your kids hydrated during the day with a CamelBak eddy bottle. It’s portable, BPA-free, and has a unique bite-valve straw that means it won’t spill if knocked over. Available in a variety of colors, they’ll complement your child’s personal style while keeping their thirst quenched.  more
Cool it
Gone are the days of warm lunches and ice packs that drip everywhere. Place your PackIt in the freezer until it’s time to pack for lunch, and you’re ready to go. Each bag is lined with non-toxic, eco-friendly gel that keeps food cold for up to 10 hours. Plus the nifty designs mean that food won’t be the only thing staying cool at school... more
Pack it
Give your child a backpack that’s as unique as they are. Squid Packs let your kid create their own bag and strap color combos, and choose charms and accessories to stick on the easily adjustable straps. Additional straps, bags, and charms can be purchased and swapped out to change up the look of the bag without having to buy a new... more
Play it
Car rides can quickly devolve into a morass of “are we there yet?” and “I’m bored!” When these phrases are impending, be proactive and pull out Kwizniac 2, the Trivia Countdown Game to occupy your time. Each trivia question comes with multiple clues to guess person, place, or thing—the fewer clues you need, the more points you gather.... more
Warm it
Try warming a bottle when you are in your car. Not an issue with WarmZe, a special air-activated wrap you place around a bottle that warms milk to the ideal temperature (90 to 104 degrees) in about 30 minutes. The WarmZe can be used multiple times throughout the day, up to 10 hours. Biodegradable.warmze.com; about $16 for a starter set more
Amuse it
It’s an adventure in a bag! TravelKiddy is a bundle of toys, activities, and crafts that have been carefully selected to challenge and engage kids for extended periods of quiet play (and what’s better than that when stuck in a car with a bunch of little monsters for hours on end?). travelkiddy.com; about $50 more
Light it
Carry it lantern-style in the dark, dark night when you are heading from tent to bathroom; or hang it off a loop in your tent for late night reading. Whatever the use, the Energizer Mini Pop-Up Lantern delivers up to 150 lumens and 100 hours of run time (uses 4 AA batteries), and collapses well for compact storage (just four inches when... more
Protect it
 A reusable travel bag with inflatable air chambers that protect and insulate wine bottles, other liquids, and fragile items, VinniBag is designed to provide superior protection against impact and leakage and stores flat or folded when not in use. So great—now we won’t have to tuck our breakables inside our shoes when flying home... more
Toss it
 You’re at a lovely picnic and it’s time to clean up but that darn trash bag keeps blowing everywhere and collapsing. It’s not an issue, however, if you have brought your handy Trash-Ease along. Just hook it onto a nearby surface (a picnic table will do nicely) and attach a standard trash bag to it. Voila! Instant trash gathering... more
Scrub it
Leave it to our friends down under to design a small, hand-held clothes washing bag. Inside the bag is a highly flexible washboard, so just add water, cleaning liquid, and then pop your dirties in. Press down and rub clothes against the internal scrubbing board for 30 seconds up to three minutes, drain, rinse, and dry. We were impressed... more
Mix It
This Father’s Day, your man will be the king of the bar with essential stainless steel bar tools to fuel his craft cocktail fascination, from Martha Stewart’s Gala collection.  more
Call It
Ideal for use when out of cell phone range at the cabin, hunting, fishing, on the trail, camping, paddling, ad even at the park. 10-4 your big daddy with reliable two-way communication up to a 35 mile range. Includes flashlight and hands-free capability, plus weather channels and a weatherproof design. more
Tote It
The Daddy Diaper Pack is the ultimate go-to diaper bag for dads. The side pockets are great for water bottles, baby bottles, and sippy cups. There’s a big pouch for diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes (and of course a small one for the “dirty stuff”). The front organizer pocket is designed for the essentials like keys, money, cell... more
Pack It
Some call it the beefcake of backpacks, while others simply call it the Pelican ProGear Urban Elite U100 Laptop backpack. Made of ballistic nylon, it is virtually indestructible and seamlessly houses a crushproof, dust proof, and water resistant Pelican case to protect pop’s computer up to 17 inches across. Easy open push button latch;... more
Drill It
Have him get handy with the Craftsman C3 19.2-Volt Heavy Duty Drill with XCP totackle those DIY chores. Featuring a half-inch single-sleeve all-metal chuck for extreme durability, it delivers up to 465 pounds of torque. This two-speed drill includes a 24-position clutch, built-in LED light, forward/reverse switch, micro-texture... more
Shave It
On the go? Here’s a sleek, lightweight travel shaver that gives dads a convenient USB charging option. Save space and also the aggravation of finding a free electrical outlet—he can even charge it in his car! A single full charge holds for 30 minutes of shaving.  more
Light it
Blackout Buddy from the American Red Cross is an emergency LED blackout flashlight that doubles as a nightlight. When the power goes out, the Blackout Buddy automatically turns on. Just leave it in the wall socket. When you need it, fold in the prongs and you have a super bright flashlight. When fully charged, it lasts up to four hours. more
Shield it
Children’s sunglasses are not fashion accessories, but necessities that protect the eyes from serious eye damage, even irreversible vision loss or blindness. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children’s eyes are at increased risk for permanent damage from sunlight until they are at least 10 years old, because their eyes are... more
Tat it
SafetyTat are temporary tattoos that read ‘If Lost, Please Call’ and list a parent or guardian's mobile phone number. Designed to be worn on a child's arm or hand, SafetyTats are easy to apply and are good for amusement parks or other crowded surroundings.
Also available is a waterless 'Quick Stick' tattoo, allowing immediate, on-the-go... more
Cover it
Keep baby comfortable during bath time with the help of Moby the whale. Textured material keeps baby from slipping and sliding, while a bit of cushion offers comfort as baby plays. Suction cups keep the mat securely in place as your little one splishes and splashes. more
House it
With a simple open and close mechanism, the Flipper toothbrush holder opens and closes with the stroke of the toothbrush. More hygienic than throwing in a drawer or housing with others in a sink top holder, the Flipper meets every guideline for toothbrush care established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Dental... more
Boost it
Designed specifically for children ages three and up who have outgrown the traditional high chair, the BabyBjörn Booster Chair is small and portable and helps a child sit at the correct table height. The seat is equipped with a two-stage safety lock to prevent a child from releasing the Booster when it is strapped to a chair. It also... more
Wear it
Rainy weather is no match for the Showers Pass Portland jacket, featuring a flattering fit and stealthy bike-friendly features, like drop down reflective rear panel and reflective piping accents, weather guard cuffs, and side gussets for fit or flare adjustability. And yes, it was made in Portland, those posers. We all know Minnesota... more
Smooth it
Another year has passed, but she’s as beautiful as ever. Let her keep it that way with products from Own, a San Francisco based skin-health company that believes in the holistic (complete) approach toward healthy skin. Own's foundation is in developing unique, innovative formulas that are effective in improving skin's overall health, but... more
Wick it
She’s at her favorite yoga class, boosting her endorphins…and she looks terrific. Why? The prAna Quinn tank top in capri blue is exceptionally breathable, with moisture-wicking, quick drying polyester and spandex. Racerback configuration grants easy shoulder movements.  more
Serve it
Bake her a cake and then pull out this adorable serving set from Martha Stewart Collection. The Geneva cake knife and server, with sweet floral motif, will be a lovely accompaniment to that bouquet of flowers you also bought her. more
Wrap it
One of the most coveted baby brands on the market has just released their first adult product—the soft and cozy “daydream blanket.” Made of layers of lightweight muslin, the lady in your life will love her daydream blanket, just as soft and luxe as the brand's popular baby swaddle. more
Accessorize it
For the serious shutterbug who also likes to draw attention to herself, Capturing Couture offers more than 50 durable, yet ultra-fashionable camera straps.Available in multiple widths (one to two inches), the adjustable, velvet-lined straps are great for any DSLR camera.  more
Pour it
Day is done, gone the sun. It’s time to relax with a drink in a Neat glass. Targeted to lovers of fine spirits, this uniquely-shaped glass enhances evaporation and swirling; the neck concentrates the aromas. more
House it
Protect that bucket, within which her most awesome multi-tasking brain is housed. We love the anti-pinch magnetic buckle and rear spin dial for perfect fit. Plus, it’s darn cute. more
Tote it
For moms-on-the-go, the Mirte Shopper bicycle bag features fun prints, water-repellent polyester, double reflection on the front and back of the bag, and easily hangs on a bicycle rack with its hooks (hidden inside a front zip pocket).  more
Tote it
Computer camp? Well then, protect that laptop en route with a shoulder bag from REI with sleek neoprene sleeve. Exterior zipper provides quick access to the compartment, plus additional pockets will hold water bottle and other essentials.  more
Show it
Put a bracelet on it and ensure your child’s allergy is touted at camp for those in food service to see. AllerMates products are hypo-allergenic, nickel and latex free and have passed rigorous safety standards and testing. Vibrant color and visuals for 14 different allergies include peanut, insect sting, pollen, fish, egg, and more.... more
Shield it
Lightweight, shatterproof, and with polycarbonate lenses that are strong as well as heat-resistant, these Hang Time sunglasses are sized to fit smaller faces, and best of all, will protect young eyes against glare off the water, or other harmful rays. Plus, knowing how easily kids tend to lose things, the low price won’t make your wallet... more
Spray it
Don’t want DEET? The All Terrain Kids’ Herbal Armor insect repellent is great for those who want effectiveness but eschew harmful chemicals. Instead, you ‘ll get five natural essential oils recognized by the EPA as repellents, to protect against mosquitos, gnats, flies, ants, and other pesky insects. Easy to use pump spray makes self-... more
Compost It
Every year in the United States some 450 million plastic toothbrushes make their way to landfills nationally. The majority of those toothbrushes will never biodegrade and will remain for decades. We love the World centric compostable toothbrush, made from a plant based resin called IngeoT. Certified compostable by the Biodegradable... more
Earth Paints
Non-toxic children's Earth Paint kits are powdered natural pigments. Add water to create a creamy, eco-friendly paint that you can feel comfortable letting your child go wild with. Pigments are composed of clays and minerals that were collected directly from the earth and then dried, pulverized, and sifted. A professional toxicologist... more
Bottles Up
It’s the purest and healthiest material to use for beverages: glass. Dishwasher safe, BPA-free, and made from post-consumer recycled materials, BottlesUp is eco-chic. We love the tapered midsection and silicon rings to allow ease in grip. The heavier design, too, ensures it can handle the everyday tumble. more
Earth-friendly, sustainable, and very versatile, the Bambooee Reusable Paper Towel holds up exceptionally well to multiple washings as well as scrubbing, dusting, and any other cleaning project you may have. Better than a sponge and longer lasting than a regular paper towel, one roll replaces about six months’ worth of regular paper... more
Pure water
PUR Advanced faucet water filter has “MineralClear” technology that reduces 99.9 percent of microbial cysts, 99 percent of lead and trace levels of pharmaceuticals, and 97 percent of chlorine (odor and taste). One click install makes an eco-friendly, money-saving alternative to buying plastic water bottles. more
Hot stuff :: Safe stuff
Products and gadgets that will ease your worries and keep your kids safer.No falling flatFlat screen televisions are top-heavy, and therefore crash-prone (especially around kids and pets)! The solution: with Anti-Tip Flat Screen TV Safety Straps, you can anchor your flat screen to your TV stand or wall. Works with all televisions (... more
Hot stuff :: Toddler time
From diapers to potty chairs, from bottles to cups, this is a time of transition.  Pourty pottyIt doesn’t play music and sing praise for your child’s “good jobs,” but if you start your kids on this potty before they are swayed by bells and whistles, you won’t have to worry about soiling the chair... more
Hot stuff :: Nature of camp
Camping this summer? Here are a few things you might want to send alongBirder’s worldTake a closer look at the fantastic birds soaring in the sky; or scope out what bird is chirping outside your pup tent. Let your child examine the natural world up close, without sinking a lot of money into equipment that might take a dunk in the... more
Hot Stuff :: Go green!
Keeping it real with products that won’t harm the environment My BelleMade of soft organic cotton and hemp fabrics, Belle’s stylish organic baby carriers are lightweight, breathable, and have natural antibacterial qualities. All of Belle’s products are manufactured in the U.S. Designed with an independent... more
Hot stuff :: Products for new parents
Who would have thought certain basic things, such as keeping socks on your baby, would be so challenging? These products are sure to help.Good guavaKeep scratches and germs away from babies aged 0 to six months with guavamitts, an infant mitten with two-part closure, incorporating bold graphic patterns to also engage babies’ eyes.... more
Hot stuff :: Stocking stuffers
There’s a plethora of great stuff that comes in a smallish package. Here’s a look at a few products certain to please both young and old.Chew-WOWChuao Chocolatier, a U.S. based Venezuelan Chocolatier, has put together some unique combinations: Firecracker, a combo of caramel fudge with chipotle chile and salt, rolled in... more
Hot stuff :: Sick stuff
When they’re under the weather, these products will make your kids feel betterBuzzyThe Buzzy system lessens the pain of needles through the use of stimulation and nerve distraction. The palm-sized buzzing “bee” sits on the child’s arm, and uses an ice pack and vibrations to distract nerves in order to reduce... more
Hot stuff :: Pampered pets
Think we cater to our kids? We’re just as indulgent of our pets.SleepWe all want the best for our pampered pets, and these beds certainly deliver. Pet-tested, owner approved beds from P.L.A.Y. let you spoil your pet in the most stylish of ways. If you need any proof that these beds are a hit, check out the website where pictures of... more
Hot stuff :: Beautiful baby
Your baby is already the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. But it’s still fun to add an embellishment or two.Dress upGive your little one a fashion makeover with classy Chelsea Baby shoes. These 100 percent green, Minnesota Mom-made shoes are crafted with Sensuede, a new luxury suede made from recycled fibers. Snap on... more
Hot stuff :: Help for new parents
Learning how to care for your new baby is trying enough. Here’s some new products to make life just a smidge easier.Chill outNew daddy Kyle said he could not get his baby to settle and stop crying. He pulled out the Nap Nanny Chill and, “Bam—he stopped crying and fell asleep.” A portable recliner with contoured... more
hot stuff: back to school
it’s back to school time and we have all of the latest, greatest items from grade school bag lunches to dorm room dinners. Take a look! 1 backpack to schoolA big main compartment, multiple smaller pockets, and a padded section for safe transportation of a laptop has students covered. Extra padding on the straps and back panel of... more
hot stuff: travel time
travel time these useful items are small in size but pack a powerful punch in making your travel experience a happy one weigh itWith the 50-pound limit for airline luggage, it’s easy enough to weigh your bags at home, but how about when you are on your way back, luggage stuffed with souvenirs? This lightweight hand-held scale... more
hot stuff: go outside
enjoy the outdoors with these toys and toolsbeautiful butterfliesWatch caterpillars become butterflies with this easy-to-use habitat from Backyard Safari. The round, springy shape gives butterflies plenty of room to fly while a flap lets kids drop in food without releasing butterflies too soon. A mail-in coupon is included for... more
HOT STUFF // Toddler Training
As babies move into toddlerhood 1 late night lightGIIMMO Magic Animal Friend Night Lights have a rainbow for a heart and fill the room with a kaleidoscope of light to help soothe your child to sleep. They are also bendable and portable for those late night walks to the bathroom. You only have to gently tap on or off. Plenty of cute... more
From easy ways to contain food on-the-go, to great flavors you can tuck into a backpack, we love the convenience of our grab and go choices.Contain itSNACK-TRAPS are available in a variety of sizes and with add-on accessories like sippy lids and tethers. Our favorite is the Snack-Trap for high chair bound babies, with a suction cup base... more
HOT STUFF // Crucial for Camp
We know all of the “regular” things we should pack for our kids when they leave home for a day or longer. Here’s a look at a few things you may not have thought about.1 medical alert labelsNAME BUBBLES allergy and medical alert labels provide four lines of information to keep everyone aware of emergency care.... more
Hot Stuff // Easy Does It
With lives getting busier every day, it’s the things that make our lives easier and better that capture our attention. Here are a few things we found. Cover ItThe MOMMY MITTEN is a hand warmer that secures around the handle bar of a stroller to keep hands protected without having to deal with gloves or mittens. Water... more
HOT STUFF // Go Green!
While the environmental movement has been growing since the first Earth Day in 1970, our children are of the generation that has recycling as a weekly chore, and understands that “green” is more than just a pretty color. smelling goodAustralian-made skin care and baby wear line
AROMABABY pampers baby’s skin... more