Late night feedings are no picnic, and certainly not made any easier with a blistered finger. I can remember the time I awoke in the wee hours one morning to the cry of my young daughter, and stumbled into her nursery. Like so many other times, I hastily filled an empty bottle with water, mixed it with powdered formula and set it in her trusty bottle warmer. I don’t know who found it more infuriating to wait for that bottle to warm: half-asleep me or my sobbing daughter. After what felt like forever, it was ready…or so I thought. Grabbing it too fast proved to be a mistake, as I silently chided myself for burning my hand. From then on, I made certain to keep a small towel nearby–a makeshift pot holder, if you will–to prevent future accidents. It’s moments like those that make me realize as a seasoned mother, not all bottle warmers come equal. If you or a friend is registering for baby gifts, be sure to check out one of the newer ones on the market: the Kiinde Kozii. As fun to say as it is easy to use, this device takes the guesswork out of warming breast-milk or bottle-formula to a comfortable temperature. A built-in time counts down until a bottle has fully warmed. Once the timer turns off, the warmer shuts off, reducing the risk of handling a too-hot bottle. Because Kozii can heat either plastic or glass, you can also use it to warm baby food jars. That means fewer accidents in the kitchen, too.
In a Nutshell: This warmer makes preparing baby’s bottle practically effortless, and worry-free.
My sister’s co-worker just had her baby shower, and judging by the number of gifts she received, this is bound to be one well-stocked nursery. Hard to believe that among the four (yup, you heard that right) car seats, a myriad of adorable outfits and a chandelier (!) for the nursery, she did not score a crib mobile. Because only a new mom knows just how much time newborns spend (hopefully!) sleeping, it’s ideal to provide them with a little stimulation when they’re awake, especially if they’re content to stay in their crib for a little while longer. Tiny Love’s brand-new-to-stores Soothe ‘n Groove Mobile is the perfect way to wile away the hours (okay, minutes) that your little one can spend happily kicking away. Three smiling, little friends twist and turn overhead, as gentle melodies play in time to their movement. Since we know how quickly we can tire from hearing the same three songs over and over, you’ll appreciate the fact that your little one will be treated to a selection of eighteen different lullabies for up to 40 minutes. Musical mommies with varied tastes can choose from jazz, classical and other favorite genres (sorry, no Adele here). Even after your baby has outgrown the mobile, you can detach it from the crib and keep the music box for her continued listening pleasure. Isn’t the greatest sound a cooing little person?…
In a Nutshell: Your baby’s crib is not complete with a mobile that offers plenty of delightful melodies, without the repetition that can drive even the sanest mom a little batty.
When my older daughter was born, I received a gift of seven bibs, each one embroidered with a different day of the week. An adorable concept…if only the bibs hadn’t been white. Once she grew and moved on to solid foods, it wasn’t long before those beautiful bibs were permanently stained with mashed peas and peach puree. The “Friday” bib looked more like “Fdy,” while “Sunday” became just plain old “day.” (Easy for a sleep-deprived mom to figure out which bib to wear, but somehow I don’t think that was the point…) That’s why we can appreciate the Day-of-the-Week Bib Set from Petites Frites, a collection that is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the touch. Made from an ultra-soft, two-ply cotton blend and colored with baby-friendly dyes, these bibs come in two assortments–rainbow and cornwall–and are awash in a eye-popping palette that will stand up to spit-up, strained peas and everything in between. We’re especially fond of the mood monikers, a different one reserved for each day of the week. We can relate to “Foggy Friday,” and are optimistic for a “Sunday Funday.”
In a Nutshell: Pack a little punch into your baby’s mealtime routine with a variety of bibs that will get you through all those round-the-clock feedings.
Happy Chinese Year! In our house, we don’t just celebrate this holiday by munching on egg rolls, but trying to immerse ourselves in a bit of culture. That means picking up some special library books for bedtime, wearing red (for good luck, of course) and seeking out games like Dragon Face. If you’re a checkers or chess player, you’ll appreciate this game of strategy. But there’s a bit of a twist to this version: when you jump over your opponent’s piece, you not only capture it, but with a flip of a disc, the piece becomes your own. Because, like most holidays, Chinese New Year is largely about celebrating with loved ones, Dragon Face is a great excuse to make a Family Game Night. This is a beautifully designed game that deserves to be played all year long.
In a Nutshell: In honor of the Year of the Dragon comes a game that any chess/checkers player will relish. Polish off your Chinese New Year festivities with fortune cookies, tea and Dragon Face.
If you’ve been keeping tabs on The Talking Walnut lately, you know we’re in the throes of potty-training a rather stubborn 3-year-old. This kid has been plied with everything from pink cookies–reserved especially for taking care of business when we’re not at home–to the stuffed animal of her choice when her rewards chart is completed (I now have more stickers in my possession than a kindergarten teacher). Because this child marches to the beat of her own drum, moving her to the next step (from a potty chair to a cushioned seat) takes a bit of negotiating…followed by the simple act of outsmarting her. This time, we weren’t involved teddy bears, sweets or any other special something. Instead, we magically revealed the weePOD Basix one day and waited to let nature take its course. “Look,” I enthused, as I unwrapped the cushioned potty seat from its box. “It’s your own special potty seat.” “It’s called a toilet seat,” responded the ever-sharp preschooler. (Yeah, yeah. Tomato, to-mato, kid.) “And it’s just for ME!!” Was that a vote of enthusiasm I had just heard? Rather than look a gift-horse in the mouth, I helped this little one drop her pants and climb up. “It’s soft and squishy,” she noted, getting used to the feel of this seat. Not that I’m envious or anything, but I must admit that the comfort of this seat is a great way to entice a reluctant child to giving it a try. Once she successfully finished her bathroom business, I wiped the seat clean and stowed it away for next time. Well, let’s just say that we’re still at it, but at least we’re one step closer to being a big girl.
In a Nutshell: Rome wasn’t built in a day and, despite what the experts say, sometimes potty-training takes longer than you think. Once your trainer in residence is ready to graduate from a floor model to a potty seat, make sure you have this extra-soft seat on hand.
We’ve seen our fair share of bath toys over the past 7 years. From waterproof books and foam letters, to squirters and squeaky animals, my girls have had no shortage of tubtime amusement. But when you take a classic construction toy and adapt it for the bath, you know you’ve found yourselves a keeper. We recently got our hands on a set of BathBlocks Ball Run Set, and my 7-year-old was treated to a water-friendly version of Marble Run that she couldn’t get enough of. This 21-piece set contains tons of lightweight construction materials that not only float, but can stick to the walls when moistened. The colorful blocks came in a variety of shapes and sizes that she could assemble any which way she pleased. Whether it was a tall tower that connected to a bridge to create a cascading waterfall, or a more simple construct that resulted in a ball dropping into a hole, these blocks stood up to the play I was looking for: the kind that doesn’t command kids which button to push for a specified result. Instead, she just had a ball (literally and figuratively) making a series of imaginative structures that were completely of her own making. When her 3-year-old sister joined the bath, I was eager to see if these blocks would capture her attention as much as they had with her sister. Much to my delight, she found her own way of playing with them, including stacking them high and sorting them into a pattern of different colors. Needless to say, it wasn’t easy convincing my girls to get out of the tub that night, but it was worth it to see them enjoy a new style of water play.
In a Nutshell: When it comes to tubtime play, BathBlocks really float our boat. They toys offer tons of open-ended entertainment and are ideal for older and younger kids alike.
It doesn’t take much to realize that Elmo still resonates with little kids. A quick glance at the minivan ahead of me on the preschool drop-off line confirms his unmistakeable furry frame, whooping it up on the small screen. (What did moms do before the days of portable DVD players?). Because my girls were often too impatient to wait for “Elmo’s World,” their favorite part of “Sesame Street,” we often turned it on to catch the last 10 minutes of the show. If your kids clamor for that lovable red monster too, they’ll be delighted by the prospect of having all Elmo, all the time in his newest DVD. “Elmo’s Favorite Things” features eight popular EW segments–over 2 hours of Elmo entertainment. EW regulars already know how well the format works: Elmo introducing said topic, followed by nuggets of fun facts and of course, the antics of none other than Mr. Noodle. Featured segments include Birthdays, Pets, Dinosaurs, Schools and the DVD premiere of Building Things. These digestible vignettes are perfect for short attention spans, not to mention long car rides. So, the next time your preschooler needs his Elmo fix, you can pull out this DVD. “Elmo’s Favorite Things” will be available beginning February 7th.
In a Nutshell: A modern-day Julie Andrews? Hmmm…maybe not exactly. But “Elmo’s Favorite Things” tops the charts on preschool play lists any day…hands (er, paws) down!
So you think you can dance? My daughters find themselves in stitches whenever this dancin’ fool tries to bust a move. I don’t kid myself; I’m hardly a a candidate for “Dancing With the Stars,” but I can appreciate fancy footwork when I see it. When they’re not cracking up over Mom’s moves, my girls are busy working with their own dance partners: Furreal Friends Dizzy Dancers. These fuzzy pets twirl and pin at the simple pull of their “dizzy cord; just give it a whirl and watch them go. Once you get the hang of it, check out the Twistin’ Tricks Card and see what you can train your pet to do. And because you can switch out the top and bottom of these pets and snap them onto others in the line, you can collect up to 50 different dancers and create your own one-of-a-kind dancer. And one’s that’s not half as funny-looking as Mom doing the moonwalk. The Furreal Friends Dizzy Dancers will be available in March.
In a Nutshell: Got the moves like Jagger? Neither do we. But we’re getting a kick out of these toe-tappin’ toys…
Today, on our weekly supermarket jaunt, my 3-year-old and I were treated to a display of hearts-shaped place mats, cupid cookie cutters and all things red and pink. That can only mean that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. If you happen to be the proud parent of a new bundle of joy, or have a best bud who’s expecting, it’s time to introduce that little babe to the good life with an infant seat she’ll simply love. Bloom’s limited edition coco rosso rocker may be designed for a baby, but it definitely has grown-up appeal. We love that it looks as comfortable as it feels, thanks to a specially designed Plexistyle soft seat. The 5-point harness ensures that your little one stays put, even as she rocks herself to sleep. The coco rosso doesn’t sport any fancy bells and whistles, lights or sounds. If you’re looking for one baby product that fits in with the rest of your contemporary home decor, the coco rosso is it.
In a Nutshell: A sweetheart of a baby gift, the sleek lines of this stylish infant seat make it baby gear you’ll be proud to showcase.
My daughters share a hand-me-down craft table that’s seen its fair share of crafting sessions and tea parties. If the faded marker smudges and discolored tabletop is any indication of its storied past, we know this particular piece of furniture has taken quite a licking over the years. Maybe that’s why we’re intrigued by the Brunswick Play Table. Part of the Pottery Barn Kids Spring 2012 Collection, this good-looking, yet highly functional table is the ideal focal point piece for any spacious play room. Made from a solid wood construction, it’s designed to withstand years and years of play, from one sibling to the next. The table’s dark finish, poised to hold up to potential craft supply stains, is balanced out by six card catalog-style, rainbow-hued drawers that are generously sized to fit everything from unwieldy poster paper to buttons and beads. There’s plenty of work space for at least four young artists to roll up their sleeves and get busy (and another two spots if leg room isn’t an issue). We think the Brunswick Play Table is so appealing, there’s life for it beyond the play room…perhaps as the perfect spot for an aspiring novelist? Hmmmm…
In a Nutshell: If your family’s play room is due for a make-over this spring, let this conversation piece from Pottery Barn Kids take center stage and prove its worth.