My baby is now a Kindergartener, but stick around for video and written reviews of the best baby, toddler and preschool products out there. Because even when as they grow up they're still our babies! And if you're a new Mama, check out my archive for fun and funny video reviews of the baby products that saved my life in those early months at home with a wee one.
Babies Gotta Read More!
Check out my blog, Mama Act for more about my life as an unfamous, unceleb mama-actress.
From the creators of Patch, the family-owned company who developed “Buzzword” and “Farkle,” comes a new line of preschool toys called “Mirari.” Taken from Latin, “mirari” means “wonder,” and the toys were created to inspire a sense of wonder. Thank you to Patch Products, Inc. for sending us three of their new toys in the Mirari line to review!
We received the myPad, Busy Buddy, and Pop! Pop! Piano. The myPad is a hit with both my 5 year old and my 2 year old. Made for 12 months and older, the myPad features 20 colorful light-up photos and 40 sounds and phrases that activate when children press the arrow buttons. MD loves that he has his very own learning tablet to play with while CW plays on my iPad. And CW loves helping MD get to the image he wants (which is usually the piano). They will both dance to the music, imitate the animals, and repeat the phrases. Definitely a great gift for a first birthday!
Busy Buddy is “geared” toward ages 9 months and older. In the shape of a sweet teddy bear, children will love the removable shape-sorting and color-matching gears. When the gears are in place, children can turn the easy-to-grab knob and cause Busy Buddy to blink his eyes and wiggle his ears! MD loves the shape sorting aspect of Busy Buddy. Although I think it may be difficult for younger children to do by themselves, it certainly promotes finger dexterity and sensory development, while fostering an understanding of cause and effect. A great gift idea for a little one to “grow into!”
Our favorite (both boys constantly want to play with this one) is the Pop! Pop! Piano. For 12 months and older, the piano has created many new tunes in our house. There are two modes of sounds (classical tunes and funny sound effects), which you can choose by flipping the switch on the bottom. As the key is pressed, a star pops up into the air. With the clear, removable arch on top, children can watch the stars pop from one pipe to the next as they play. Or, you can remove the arch for your child to attempt to catch the stars. MD and CW were having a blast doing this today. They took turns playing the piano for one another and catching the stars. The best part is that there is an off switch for days when you don’t want loud piano plunking.
Mirari offers a number of other products for ages 6 months and older, including Wee Keys, Zig-Zag Xylo Train, and Roll & Return Ball. All of the toys in this line are engaging and educational. My only complaint is that I feel like they are all a little too loud. Thankfully, they have off switches, but I wish there were volume controls as well. Still, you cannot go wrong with Mirari as a gift for a new baby in your life!
Kristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and little brother MD.
Babies Gotta Have It received these toys free for purposes of review. As always, all opinions are Kristin’s and her boys’ and weren’t influenced by anyone.
This post originally appeared on my new site, Catybean.com–a site for girls who read, play and dress up, and the Mamas who love them! Check it out!
I refused to wear sandals for years. As a teen I became convinced that my feet were hideous and should be hidden from the general public for fear the sight of the space between my toes would cause apoplexy. And then I guess I came to the realization that really my weird toes were the least of my problems, and it was nice to have cool feet in the summer. And somewhere around that time they invented Tevas and Keens and this tomboy jumped all over that sport sandal trend.
I am pretty certain that Keens are miracle shoes. We’ve been passed down Keens for Cate in every color and almost every size. They go from boat to beach, from mud puddle to spray park–and then you wash them and throw them in the dryer…and they look better than the day you were handed them down. (I want whatever is in Keens to slather all over my face.)
The same cannot be said, however, for the feet which inhabit those sandals.
You know what I can’t stand? Going to bed with dirty feet. I have been known, on a dusty summer night, to sit on the side of the tub and indulge in a foot washing. Too lazy to bathe my entire body. Entirely refreshed by the simple act of cleansing the tootsies.
But sometimes, when tiny toes have been splashing in the somewhat stagnant puddles of a New York City Sprinkler (don’t think about it, don’t think about it, don’t think about it) it’s prudent to wash those feet before entering the apartment. Or even before leaving the park if you think there’s a chance those toes will end up in the mouth two blocks from home. Because I am committed to the idea that girls should get dirty in the park. And I am equally committed to the idea of cleaning up afterward. And for that purpose, I was so very excited to try out the new Fresh Feet Wipes for Kids (and grown ups) by Jasmine Seven.
We were sent the Fresh Feet Wipes for Kids and Fresh Feet Wipes for Grown Ups to try out, and we are in foot pampering heaven. For Mamas, the adult Fresh Feet wipes are durable, soft and peppermint scented. They are antibacterial, alcohol free, 99% natural, made with aloe and vitamin E, and so refreshing. I absolutely love them. The Wipes for Kids can be used for feet and hands and are grapefruit scented. Like the grown-up version they are natural and free of all those nasty chemicals and incredibly soft, smooth and durable. So much more suited for the job than regular old baby wipes. Bean says they smell “delicious” and feel “great.”
So girls (and boys), get out there and splash in those puddles this summer. Wear your sandals in the mud. Spend long days barefoot in the sand, knowing you can quickly, easily and refreshingly clean those feet before you fall asleep with the windows open. And that’s kind of what summer’s all about…don’t you think?
Thanks to the folks at Fresh Feet Wipes for sending us a sample to try. You can find Fresh Feet Wipes on their website, at Walmart or online at our affiliate Amazon.com.
In New York, nothing comes for free. We pay more for a monthly parking space than most people pay in rent. And don’t get me started on sandwiches. It’s a ridiculous place to live, let alone to try to raise children. There’s an ad now for Manhattan Mini Storage on all the bus shelters:
That’s pretty much it.
But then a little miracle happened. Quinny decided to try to make our urban lives just a bit easier. First, they designed and made a new stroller, the Yezz (not to be confused with Yaz…that’s TOTALLY different) which is an 11 pound, easily foldable, durable stroller that comes with a carrying strap. Thank you for understanding that light and sturdy are essential qualities in folding strollers. Because you better believe you gotta collapse that thing when you get on the bus.
And then yesterday they gave it away. Yup. Just handed ’em out for free. 400 New Yorkers stood in line at stores like Giggle and Albee Baby and walked away with a fab new stroller. For nothin’.
Here are photos to prove that this unbelievably nice thing actually happened right here in New York City.
And, Quinny is so eager for folks beyond our great dirty city to get a chance to test-drive the Yezz, they’re giving me one to give away to you! Yup. Also for free.
Here’s another pic so you can see what you’ll be winning (color subject to availability). Yeah, you so want this stroller.
So thanks Quinny. For bringing some civility to the city that never sleeps. At least now we know our babies will be sleeping in their awesome new strollers!
Want to enter to win a brand new Quinny Yezz for babies ages 6 months to 40 pounds? Just fill out the handy Rafflecopter form below!
Even though my baby is far from infancy, I still get so excited when I hear about a new line of eco-friendly baby products. And a new line of eco-friendly baby products that’s available at a Target near you… is super exciting. Though you guys know I’m a huge fan of local independent toy stores (SHOP LOCAL!), knowing that the big box boys are offering safe, green toys to customers shows how much traction the eco-friendly toy movement is gaining in the marketplace. And how accessible and affordable these toys are becoming.
So. Friends? Meet Babybuds. I just received these two in the mail: The Hoot the Owl Blanket Buddy and Frump the Elephant Rattle (he doesn’t look so frumpy to me!). First of all, green or no, any Babies Gotta Have It pick has to be super cute. Check! I love the gender-neutral earth tones and animals. We all know how hot owls are these days in nursery decorating. The faces are sweet and the fabrics are soft. So let’s discuss those fabrics! According to the Babybuds website:
BabyBuds™ are made with love, using naturally sustainable, eco-friendly fabrics, including certified organic cottons and natural silks. And each BabyBuds™ toy is filled with virgin biodegradable corn fiber. We use only low impact dyes, and minimal packaging.
Every BabyBuds™ product is made with the safety of your little human BabyBud as our first concern. Every BabyBuds™ product is free from harmful chemicals, and complies with the strictest global safety standards.
And that, my friends, makes me stand up and cheer!
So where will our two little critters go to live? We are lucky enough to have a new baby next door. We don’t know his parents very well (after all this is New York, folks), but the new baby has been a great ice-breaker for us with them. Cate was so excited to meet him a few weeks ago, and we decided then that it would be a really nice thing to take him a gift. I feel comfortable and confident giving these toys to our neighbors, knowing that they are safe. For baby and for the planet.
Baby toys that fussy New Yorkers can feel really good giving to the people living next door to them that that hardly know? That’s something savvy Mamas definitely gotta have!
If you want to go from “Say-hello-in-the-elevator-acquaintances” to actual friends with your new-parent neighbors check out the store finder on the Babybuds website to find the closest store to you!
And thanks to the wonderful folks at Babybuds, one lucky Babies Gotta Have It reader will win a pair of adorable Babybuds toys of their very own! Just use the easy Rafflecopter entry below to qualify!
Thanks to Babybuds for sending us the two items pictured above to review and then give to our neighbors. As always, all opinions are strictly my own and you better believe were in no way influenced by anyone.
When the box with the B. Toys logo arrived at our front step the other day, the boys and I were elated. We have a ton of B. Toys (B. Wheeee-ls, B. Zany Zoo, B. Doctor to name a few), and they never fail to entertain us. Well, B. Toys has done it again (and this one just might be our favorite of all time).
The Global Glowball is a globe, it’s a nightlight, it’s a music player, and it’s a ball. Each of the continents can be pushed to play music, or you can use the compass-dial to select music, music and lights, or just lights. If you want to use the Global Glowball as a nightlight, then select lights and it will rotate through all of the continents with a subtle, colorful, and beautiful glow. Or, you can select music and lights to receive a 20-minute musical tour of the world as colorful lights glow on and off to the tempos! As usual, B. Toys has thought of everything. There is a volume control, and the “B” can be pushed to stop the music and lights at any time (they suggest global freeze tag…not a bad idea)!
Designed for kids ages 8 months and up, the Global Glowball even comes with a little booklet that describes each of the songs that are played. Perhaps, we could suspend our own notions about each continent, and allow our children to enjoy the cultural differences of others. Perhaps, we could enjoy a little “African Sunshine” or “Banjo Matilda.” My kids love the “Music from the Ice” that plays from Antartica! They are excited to hear the penguins, wind, and ocean sounds. The Global Glowball has even been known to take up residence at our dinner table to give us “mood music.”
CW and MD are still fighting over who gets to play with the Global Glowball (maybe I should order another). CW (nearly 5) asks probing questions about each of the continents, the types of music, and what the terrain is like. MD (nearly 2), on the other hand, loves to make the music start and stop, dance to the beats, and roll the globe around. Luckily, it is made with just that kind of play in mind (it is both sturdy and fun)!
And, for the parents, you can be satisfied that you have bought a B. Toy which represents the world accurately, and is also made with the world in mind. All B. Toys are packaged in 100% recyclable/reusable materials! So, you can save the planet while you play!
Buy one. Or two. It is a learning tool disguised as a fun ball! Your kids will love it, and so will you!
Kristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and little brother MD.
Thanks to B. Toys for sending Kristin and her boys the Global Glowball to review. As always, all opinions are Kristin’s alone and weren’t influenced by anyone.
Even though my boys are nearly five and two years old, I often still find myself browsing for eco-friendly baby toys to buy for friends and family! And, what better way to ring in Spring than with a quick list of fun baby toys that would be perfect for Baby’s First Easter basket or an upcoming baby shower!
Rhino Toys Oball Rattle – What I love about Oball Rattles is that they roll, rattle, and shake; and, they fit perfectly in baby’s fingers! Plus they are phthalate, PVS, latex, and BPA free! And who doesn’t love a dishwasher-safe baby toy?
Green Toys Stacking Cups – We love Green Toys in our family, and these Stacking Cups are wonderful! They are made in the USA from recycled milk containers. If that’s not reason enough, they teach your baby basic math and counting skills (numbered on the bottom, and “volumetrically” accurate, according to Green Toys)! They are great for in the bathtub or out!
Green Toys My First Blocks – Also made from recycled milk containers, the My First Blocks set has 18 chunky blocks for babies to learn to stack, build, and create.
Dandelion Organic Frog Rattle – This organic rattle is made from organic cottons and filled with corn fibers. Safe for teething, and it is machine washable!
Wonderworld Wheely Giraffe Toy – The brightly colored giraffe toy promotes hand-eye coordination and develops hand muscles! It is made in Thailand from rubber wood, non-toxic paints, dyes, lacquers, and glues.
B. Snug Bugs – if you’ve read my reviews before, then you know that my boys love B. Toys! We cannot get enough of them (we have them all over our basement floor, in the tub, and on the patio)! Snug Bugs are chewable, squishable, and loveable! And B. Toys always come in a 100% recycled box (which can be recycled again).
Ecco Eggs – specifically for Easter, if you are looking for some eco-friendly eggs to hide…check out Ecco Eggs! They are 100% compostable made from corn!
Maxim EverEarth Pull Along Duck and Egg – For the older baby, this eco-friendly, pull-along duck is so adorable. The duck pulls a cart with a puzzle egg in it. I know MD would love this, as he loves pulling anything along behind him (including sticks and sleds).
Baby Toy Crab Teether – finally, this crab teething toy is made from a single block of eco-friendly American cherry or maple wood. The only additive is an FDA approved food safe mineral oil and natural wax conditioner to help preserve and protect the wood. This is adorable and practical!
Happy Spring! Have a wonderful Easter!
Kristin is a former high school English teacher and show choir geek enjoying time as a stay-at-home mom to CW and little brother MD.
A few years ago I posted a video about lovies. About how essential they are. How snuggly and wonderful. How even grown ups need something to cuddle.
So…cut to five years later. Man oh man do those lovies need a bath. And so do the stuffed rabbits. And stuffed monsters. And of course the teddy bears. Because not only do those animals get dragged through the mud. Turns out they are absolutely crawling, quite literally, with bacteria and dust mites. Have I mentioned the fact that I’m a raging germaphobe. Ew.
So now. More than ever. Teddy really needs a bath. So a mom invented a special stuffed animal washer/dryer bag to do just that. Teddy Needs a Bath is high-quality, large, eco-friendly cotton bag designed to help busy Mamas restore those nasty old animals to their fresh-off-the-shelf glory. Now, many of your toys may say “surface wash only” on the care tags. But the Teddy Needs a Bath bag protects your animal and your washer. How does it work? Put Teddy in the bag, zip it up and wash on gentle with mild soap (take out any sound devices or boxes before you do this!). Then when it’s done, just pop the bag right in the dryer on low and Teddy comes out clean and fluffed dry! Be aware that Teddy may need a few rounds in the dryer to get him totally dry, but boy is he warm and cuddly when he emerges!
I received a Teddy Needs a Bath sample at Toy Fair. And one of the features that the lovely woman I spoke with touted, was that the Teddy Needs a Bath bag, combined with the cute board book, gets kids excited about participating in washing their stuffed animals and lovies. I was skeptical. Though my kid has a penchant for cleaning that would rival June Cleaver, she has always seemed worried in the past when I put her beloved “Raffie” in the old washer for a bath. Pretty sure it’s because she thinks he will come to life at night and will complain about the procedure to all of his friends.
Well, no joke, when I showed Bean the special Teddy Needs a Bath bag, the book and the cotton candy scented dryer sheets (oh yeah you heard me), she immediately went into her room and started searching through her animals to determine who was the most in need of a wash. It absolutely worked. The animals came out clean and fresh and completely unscathed by the whole process. And I especially love how the zipper tucks under a small elastic band so even it won’t bang up the inside of your washer.
And how did the animals enjoy it? Well, guess you’ll just have to ask them…when they come to life in the middle of the night.
Three bugs since December twelfth. The first struck the night we went to see the Rockettes. The second struck on New Years Eve (and was diagnosed as a double ear infection on my birthday). The third hit on Friday night. While she was still on antibiotics for the ear infections. This is the outfit she put together for a quick run to Starbucks this afternoon. Some kind of a jaunt to break up twelve hours in a New York City apartment. I particularly like the crocs and pompom hat combo.
Blame it on worst cold and flu season in recent memory. Or on global warming–everyone knows these crazy warm-ups in the middle of winter makes everyone get sick. Well, that’s what my grandmother would say anyway. When Bean gets the crud, it goes right to her chest. Hello TB ward cough. And then it lasts for a month. And I hate sending her to school sounding like that.
Many cold and cough medicines for children have been taken off the market due to safety concerns. But not, I was so happy to discover, the all-natural home remedies for cough by Matys. So what’s so good about all-natural? As the Matys website says:
We at Maty’s are unearthing the age-old tradition of all-natural remedies, good for the body and the environment. We have carefully crafted safe, all-natural treatments for your child–and for you! With our products you can be sure that you are getting the finest, most effective ingredients without any dangerous side effects. Let us provide you with the remedy, all you add is your healing touch.
Sounds good to me!
We were sent the All Natural Baby Chest Rub to try out. How shall I put this…I was hoping we wouldn’t have the opportunity to review this product this winter. Heh. I used it tonight (the third night in a row) to soothe the Bean to sleep. This healthy alternative to Vick’s contains no menthol, no petroleum, no drugs. It has a lovely lavender and chamomile fragrance. And I feel like it just soothes her to sleep when I rub it on her chest and back–almost like a massage oil.
I bought the Matys All Natural Cough Syrup (for children ages 1 and older) with buckwheat honey for the Bean to try. First and foremost–she loves the flavor. I tasted it. It’s like apple pie on a spoon. My mother has often touted buckwheat honey as a natural cough remedy. It is not a miracle cure, but I do feel like it calms her. She’s sleeping right now, having taken a dose right before bed, and I’ve only heard her cough once since I started writing this post. Buckwheat honey is anti-oxidant rich, effective as a boost to respiratory function, and helpful for promoting a good night’s sleep. For Mama and kiddo.
All natural delicious and safe cold remedies. That’s something Mama’s and Baby’s definitely gotta have.
As 2012 ends and we roll in a year whose date is so completely unimaginable we must be living in some future sci-fi world (2013? Really? Two thousand thirteen?), I’m feeling a little sentimental. Post-holiday blues? Sure. But as I see my wee one return skipping to Kindergarten I know there’s no going back. She’s a big girl now.
And so, while I wait for the to phone summon me to an audition for yet another feminine products commercial or one-liner on a cable series… (Did I mention I will indeed be saying one line as a waitress on “The Big C” in season 4? Yuppers. Don’t think I can reveal the whole thing but suffice it to say I do utter the word “cheesecake” to Oliver Platt) …so during this down time, I’ve been browsing my old videos.
I’m keeping track of what’s on the market and there are so many great new baby products out there. But lots of the must-have’s we reviewed and loved are still baby registry gold. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites in the weeks to come.
So here, for your viewing pleasure…”Because Labor Was Back-Breaking Enough…The Ergo Baby Carrier.” Yay for baby carrying. Oh how I wish I still could!
Following on the heels of Kristin’s great Holiday Gift Guide chock full of green and eco-friendly toys for boys, allow me to offer some of my favorite earth-friendly toys for babies and toddlers this year. And there are so many wonderful, affordable options! Let’s face it, these earth-friendly toys just are cooler than lots of traditional playthings. And cool toys make a cool nursery. Or living room. Or any room in the house where they take up residence. Order one or two of these picks online or consider a trip to your local independent toy shop and have fun shopping!
Discoveroo Wooden Windmill Stackeroo Stacking Toy – Discoveroo was established by a mother and father team in Sydney Australia with the objective of making high quality wooden toys more accessible to families and children all over the world. Made from 100% Plantation Woods, Discoveroo products are rigorously tested and certified compliant with every country where they are sold. I saw this stacker at Toy Fair this past year and just loved it! For babies ages 18 months and up it’s a really unique and beautiful stacking toy.
Wishbone Flip 3-in-1 Rock and Roll Toy – I saw a lot of cool riding toys at Toy Fair this year, but the Flip by Wishbone really caught my eye. This unique toy for kids ages 1 – 5 transforms from a rocker to a roller or walker in seconds with its innovative flipping mechanism. Wishbone walks the walk when it comes to social, ethical and environmental sustainability. Their toys have won green awards and they are a certified carboNZero organization. And this toy, quite literally, rocks. Very cool.
Manny & Simon Giraffe Push Toy – I love giraffes. I love giraffe toys. This adorable push toy for babies ages 6 months and up is made of recycled wood in a factory in Southern California. Check out the entire line of adorable Manny & Simon toys, as well as their super-cute and funky hand-screened printed onesies and bibs.
Buddy Blocks by BeginAgain – BeginAgain is a Colorado-based toy company committed to making toys that “inspire kids to draw, build, explore, tell stories, play games, and ultimately save the day.” Part of their mission statement is “Don’t make a mess”, and to that end they work to remove the oil from play and use plant-based materials. I love this puzzle block set for toddlers. It’s 1 1/4″ size blocks are perfect for little hands and the graphics are charming.
Sophie Giraffe Teething Toy – Did I mention I’m fond of giraffes? Sophie Giraffe by Vulli is now so famous she has her own website. And rightly so. Created in 1961 by a French company (of course) Sophie is still made in the exact same manner from 100% natural rubber derived by tree sap. Look into those big brown eyes and try to resist. I dare you. Ages 0 – 12 months.
Organic Sensory Ribbon Lovey by Sweetbug Studio – You know I can’t have a baby gift guide without including something handmade from Etsy. I absolutely love the organic lovies and organic baby blankets from SweetBug Studio Etsy’s shop. There are lots of lovies on Etsy so browse around, but you won’t find anyone with cuter fabrics than Kristin of SweetBug Studio. Affordable, adorable, and available with matching burp cloths.
Whether they are organic and handmade or wooden and social conscious, consider eco-friendly baby and toddler Christmas gifts this year…yeah that’s something that babies definitely gotta have.
Because it’s cold and rainy and snowy in New York today and I’m listening to my holiday Pandora station…I’m going to host a giveaway! We Mamas want more green and eco-friendly baby products. And Disney Baby is listening! They have partnered with MiYim and My Natural to make a line of natural cotton super-soft, absolutely adorable plush toys…and I’m giving away three! Included in this sweet gift box are a Pooh teether and rattle (My Natural), a little plush Piglet with a soft stroller or crib attachment(My Natural), and an Eeyore lovey (MiYim). All three are velvety soft and all-natural and ready to be wrapped up and placed under your tree!
MANDATORY ENTRY #1: Leave a comment on this post sharing your very favorite holiday gift as a child. What thrilled you the most when you unwrapped it on that special day. Entering is that easy!
***Want bonus chances to win? After you have made your first entry as described above, do anything listed below and leave me additional comments for each one letting me know what you did! Maximum of 5 entries per person.
Follow me on Twitter and tweet this giveaway. If you already follow me just tweet. I’ve made it easy just cut and paste: Browse @BabiesGottaHavT’s eco-friendly baby & holiday gift guide and win 3 natural plush Pooh Toys from @disneybaby http://snurl.com/25dowg4
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Email your friends about the giveaway and link to the giveaway post! cc me in the message (email@example.com)–I promise I will not spam you or your friends. Cross my heart.
Your email address will remain private and not be shared with anyone. Giveaway only open to those with U.S. addresses. Must be 18 or older to win. Giveaway begins Tuesday November 27th and ends on Tuesday December 11th at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time. Very soon after, Random.org will select the winner and I’ll email them immediately. After my daughter called Larry the Cable guy the last time she did a drawing, we have decided to take a little vacation from her choosing the winner. This giveaway has absolutely no affiliation with Facebook in any way. Random.org is in no way as cute and unpredictable as my daughter, but it is much more efficient and does not use any pieces of paper, even recycled ones. I am sure you will understand. Thanks for entering!
Update! We have a winner! Random.org says “ 214″ – Congratulations Brynn! Thanks so much to everyone who entered!