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02.28.2006

Rex Rocking Chair

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I love the idea of a rocking chair that folds (well, except for my fear of having the chair fold on me - something I seem to have with all folding chairs), and this one designed by Niko Kralj looks good too. Constructed of solid beech in a slatted design, the Rex rocking chair has sloping armrests and an angled supportive backrest. Folding at just 7 inches wide, it might be a nice solution for small nurseries and apartments that don't have a lot of room for a rocking chair or glider.

$198 at Design Within Reach.

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02.28.2006

MyPix

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Looking at photo albums is a regular activity at my house, but since all our photos are digital now, I've been thinking about purchasing one of those digital picture frames. I'm not really a fan of those because I love photoalbums (but who has time to print and arrange anymore?), but my toddler loves looking at digital photos, so much so that it's impossible to take pictures of her because as soon as she sees the digital camera, she races over to see the photo on the LCD screen, argh...

MyPix might be something I'd consider because it's relatively cheap and built for kids so hopefully that means it can withstand all the banging and dropping. It's pretty small at an inch and a quarter viewing screen, but it's meant to be taken anywhere and you can even wear it as a necklace. It holds 30 pictures and comes with interchangeable frames. I don't love how it looks, but if I made all my purchases that way, we wouldn't have half the crap that we have.

Available at Fingerhut.

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02.27.2006

Children's Paper Chair

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The Children's Paper Chair, designed by Charlotte Friis, is shaped like a toilet paper roll - simply pull the paper for a continuous clean drawing surface. The more the child draws, the bigger the roll and seat. I also like the idea of "archiving" the drawings to see the range and progress as the years go by. There's about 500 meters of paper here which could last you quite a bit.

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via the Cool Hunter.

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02.27.2006

Whirly Number Mouse Pad

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I've been on the lookout for a mousepad ever since I got a new glasstop desk (duh, optical mice don't work on glass) but surprisingly haven't found one I like. I'm pretty tempted by this one from Haba. It's waterfilled and when the mouse moves over the pad, the numbers move and tumble their way around the pad. Pretty cute for kids.

From WorldWide Child.

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02.24.2006

WeeRide Centric Carrier

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If you believe the catalogues, spring is right around the corner. And spring means bike rides. If you're Malcolm Jefferson, you found the traditional rear-mount kid seat a bit too traumatic for your little one, whom you couldn't see as you got lost in the scenery or dodged the taxis. So you went to your carpentry bench and created the WeeRide Centric Carrier, a seat that sits on your handle bar and top tube, right there in front of you. And your kid loved it and you started an empire!

$69.99 from Kids Products.com, includes free toddler helmet

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02.24.2006

Kid's Travel Packs

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My toddler raced over as soon as I opened the package for Kid's Travel Packs. She grabbed the orange backpack, wanted me to help put it on, and sang "Backpack, backpack" as she danced around the room (yeah, she watches Dora once in awhile). These backpacks seem durable and well made and I like that they come in different solid colors and aren't plastered with characters. I hadn't thought to get a bag for her to put books and toys when we go out (I mean she just turned 2), but she enjoys wearing it so much, I'm going to let her do all the work and have her haul her own stuff.

Kid's Travel Packs also makes these Activity Packs that are chock full of stickers, small toys, and arts and craft supplies that may come in handy when you're travelling and pressed for time to put together your own activity pack.

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02.23.2006

Pip-Squeak Chapeau

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I don't think I've ever gone so crazy over toddler fashion as I am about the Pip-Squeak Chapeau collection, mostly because I want the clothes for me. Everything about the clothes appeal to my sensibilities - unfinished edges and asymmetrical lines, felt, the color palette, surprising shapes and cuts, more felt(!) and layered pieces of varying textures.

I've seen their knitted hats before, but Pip-Squeak just extended their line this year to include dresses, tunics, kimono-style tops and judo pants.

via Urban Baby Daily.

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02.23.2006

Money Savvy Pig

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I hear that kids today get way more allowance money from their parents than back when I had to walk uphill both ways to get to school. My kids still think money is edible, so we're a ways off from this, but the Money Savvy Pig is a brilliant idea. It's a piggy bank, sure, but it's a lot more sophisticated than a simple receptacle for coins; it has four chambers labeled SAVE, SPEND, DONATE, and INVEST. In an age when many of us live hand-to-mouth, carry loads of credit card debt, and may never see a social security check, it makes sense to start learning about money early.

The coolest part: each chamber empties through its own foot!

$15.99 from Money Savvy Generation, in multiple translucent colors

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02.22.2006

2006 Toy Fair: Happy Worker SuperMom

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A cross post from Popgadget, SuperMom is a toy for you, not for your kid, so every mom can act out their super hero fantasies. SuperMom will debut on Mother's Day and is the latest addition to the Happy Worker everyday superhero family which also includes GeekMan, BossMan and MoneyMan. Though co-founder Shirley Yee was dressed in SuperMom garb at the Toy Fair, it's not modelled after her, she says, though she is a SuperMom in training with lots of nieces and nephews.

The fully poseable toy has an arsenal of mommy weapons that include a change of shoes, a super long to-do list, groceries, a cell phone, and a baby. Interchangeable heads on both the mom and baby allow you to change SuperMom from calm to frazzled, and the baby from happy to cranky. Like any superhero, she possesses superpowers and as moms, don't we all? The co-founders wanted to create a female superhero figure and decided that the balancing act of modern motherhood was a noble place to start.

Sign up to get updates on SuperMom's release.

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02.22.2006

2006 Toy Fair: Bloco

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Bloco is a construction toy made of high-density foam that you piece together using connector beads that allow pieces to rotate. I was attracted to the bright colors in the Bloco booth after having seen way too many construction toys that were block or magnetic connector based, so it stood out as being different. You can build the models that are suggested in the kit, or you can just build your own shapes and creations. Bloco pieces come in a flat sheet that you need to punch out before you can start and I can see this being annoying after awhile. It seems like we're always putting together toys these days, what with all the Christmas and birthday gifts that the toddler has been receiving over the last 2 months. I just want to buy something, take it out of the box, and have it all ready to go.

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02.21.2006

2006 Toy Fair: Plasma Car

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I got to try out the Plasma Car at the Toy Fair and it's pretty amazing. No pedals, no batteries. Just a streamlined, minimalist design, but this thing can really move as soon as you continuously rotate the steering wheel. I don't get how it works...something about centrifugal force, inertia, gravity, blah blah...but it's pretty cool how one single ride-on toy can accommodate kids and adults of most sizes.

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02.21.2006

2006 Toy Fair: Joovy strollers

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Joovy is a relative newcomer among stroller manufacturers. They've got a Maclaren-type umbrella, double stroller and a jogging stroller in nice, bright colors, but the stroller that caught my eye when I saw it in use in Seattle is the Caboose. This stroller may be an interesting option for parents dealing with an impending double stroller purchase, because if your older child is big enough to walk most of the time, the Caboose has a built in buggy board for standing, but it also features a padded rear seat with seatbelts when the kid gets tired. Compatible carseats can attach to the stroller so you can use it immediately from birth and a baby can sit in the 2 position reclining seat from 6 months on.

I didn't get to push the Caboose that much so I can't assess its maneuverability and the main padded seat seemed a little bit stiffer and harder than my Maclaren, but still...at $179, it's an attractive option that I might investigate when the time comes (because I really really don't want to get a double stroller).

At the show, Joovy unveiled their toy Caboose stroller due out this Spring, which is an exact replica of the larger stroller. It was pretty cute and the level of replication down to the detail was pretty amazing, but at the estimated price of $60-70 (which is the same price as some real strollers), I think I'll stick to the cheap-o, pink floral stroller for 10 bucks at Target. I don't think my toddler minds either.

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The toy Caboose stroller is an addition in their toy category which currently includes a toy booster car seat and doll car seat that will actually attach to the toy stroller. Both car seats are crash tested for passenger safety (why?) and will actually install in a real car. The booster seat even has LATCH available. Yowsa! I asked the rep why it was so important for them to include realistic, functional features. He replied that through imitation, kids learn the importance of passenger safety and responsibilty. Plus in research and polls of other doll car seats, kids and parents wanted to be able to install them and found that feature lacking (really?). All I could think about was how much I hate taking my toddler in and out of the car seat all day when we're out in the burbs and how much longer it would take to get everywhere if I then had to wait for her to strap her doll in and out of the car seat as well.

Posted by Jenna    Category: gear | toys
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02.20.2006

2006 Toy Fair

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I'll be posting a few finds from last week's 2006 International Toy Fair all week. While it was fun and interesting to preview new stuff from both major toy manufacturers and indie toy makers alike, what I quicky discovered while walking the floor was that most of the exhibitors were interested in buyers and not press. So...I didn't end up getting into the Lego booth (which was completely concealed and by appointment only) and I couldn't take a picture of the amazing Kettler tandem trike built for 3 (triplets?).

And while I didn't get to talk to the reps from Melissa and Doug, I did manage to see some of their new offerings. The big news is that a line of toys for younger infants called First Play Series will be available later this year. Handcrafted from the same quality wood as their other toys (which we seem to have a lot of at our house), the simple rattles, pull toys and push toys are sanded 4 times and the wood is dyed (not painted) from non-toxic, child safe dyes.

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You can actually see all the toys in the the First Play Series, as well as the Fresh Start Puzzles which feature larger knobs and pieces for smaller hands, over at Gummy Lump which is previewing Melissa and Doug toys that are new for 2006.

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02.20.2006

Caribooo bassinets

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I can't decide whether I like the design of the Cariboo bassinets or whether I think it looks too much like a laundry basket. In any case, there are a few interesting things about the Gentle Motions bassinet that are worth checking out. The bassinet hangs from a folding stand (a big plus for storage) and can easily be rocked back and forth as well as gently swayed by the baby's own movements. One end of the bassinet can be elevated higher by adjusting the ties to alleviate congested or colicky babies. And the best "trick" of all - you can attach the fabric bassinet to crib rails if you want to make a gentle transition from bassinet to crib. This may sound odd, but I've heard quite a few stories of parents who will put their carseat sleeping babies in the crib, car seat and all!

You can buy the whole Cariboo line of furniture at Baby and Me Boutique.

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02.20.2006

Scraminal

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I posted this on Popgadget a few weeks ago, but it also seems useful for parents because when I started getting baby gear in the house when I was pregnant, my cat would constantly jump in the crib, bassinet and the changing table to sleep...and why not? It certainly makes a cozy bed for cats. But in my hormonal, nesting state, I started having visions of the cat jumping into the bassinet and unknowingly pouncing and smothering my newborn baby. It didn't help that my cat isn't the friendliest in the world and has this annoying habit of attacking my head while I'm sleeping. So I armed myself with all kinds of pet-deterrent tactics like lining the baby stuff with foil, spraying the cat with a water pistol and buying tents for both the crib and pack and play, none of which really worked. My cat actually liked walking on foil, would tolerate getting sprayed as he looked defiantly back at me, and would claw and throw himself at the tents. What a stinker.

Wish I knew about Scraminal. It uses heat and motion sensors that emit a series of beeps in an uncomfortable pitch that will help train your pet to stay away from the forbidden area. Though, knowing my cat, you never know. By the way, our cat stayed away on his own when the baby came (ha! there was the cat deterrent I was looking for) and surprisingly endured a lot of tail and hair pulling from the baby till she started walking at a year old. It wasn't until then that he got fed up, stood on his hind legs and promptly boxed her on her head.

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02.17.2006

View-Master

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The View-Master from Fisher Price is 65 years old! I still get a kick out of the old View-Masters whenever I come across one - the magic of it never quite goes away. The new View-Master is slicker, streamlined and has a brighter, larger viewing area. The Show & Tell projector (shown on the left, above) allows your kid to run the show with an infrared remote control that will advance to the next slide. It features an easy focus adjustment and even doubles as a flashlight.

Fisher Price has also come out with the Super Sounds Viewer and Super Sounds Reels to add another dimension to the 3D images with character voices, sound effects, music and interesting facts.

Check out all the viewers and reels at Fisher Price.

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02.17.2006

Gogo Kiz Travelmate

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Damn, wish I had this when we took our family trip to Seattle a few weeks ago. The airplane ride itself was fine, mostly because the toddler was strapped into her Britax carseat most of the time. It was getting to the gate that was a hellacious race, what with a rolling carry-on full of books, toys, snacks, and diapers, my laptop case, 2 suitcases, the Britax, the stroller...oh, and one energetic toddler. So after checking in, we were relieved to be without the 2 suitcases, but navigating with the rest of the stuff was still a challenge. On the ride home, we checked the carseat because we couldn't deal with lugging it through the airport again, but during the plane ride we wished we had it.

I could have just attached the Gogo Kidz to our Britax, checked the stroller, and wheeled the toddler down the airport.

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02.16.2006

Philips Action Mixer & Toaster

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We wrote about the Miele replica toy appliances last month. The Philips Action Mixer and Toaster are also perfect replicas of Philips kitchen gadgets. The mixer is battery operated and really turns, while the toaster will pop out 2 perfect toast slices after a turn of the timer.

Currently on sale for $12 (from $25) at Zebra Hall.

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02.16.2006

One Red Dot and Cookie Count

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There are two books that I selfishly keep on my bookshelf that my toddler doesn't get to read by herself. One is One Red Dot, by David E. Carter, which was released last year. The other is Cookie Count, by Robert Sabuda, which I bought for myself years and years ago.

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Both are amazing pop-up books by 2 masters of the craft that feature wildly imaginative paper engineering techniques. I'm a huge pop-up fan and have a life-long goal to constuct a book myself (which I will most likely take to the grave, given my slow progress on this particular project). Sabuda creates stunning work in every book, but I think Cookie Count is his best to date.

Carter is, perhaps, best known for his cheerful, cartoony pop-up books featuring bugs, but One Red Dot ia a stylistic departure from his bug books. Each page is a different paper engineering wonder, featuring eye-popping colors and dramatic, graphic shapes. Both books have to be experienced in person.

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02.15.2006

Paper Animation Kits

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These Paper Animation Kits by Rob Ives are crafts that you punch out, glue and assemble yourself to create amazing little toys that animate when you turn the crank. Little details in the motions of each of these models are surprisingly intricate and playful.

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Obviously, some are these kits are pretty complicated for young kids, but with adult supervision, you can assemble these kits together and all ages can enjoy the end product.

See the whole collection of kits at the Flying Pig Paper Animation Kit website.

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02.15.2006

Crival Furniture System

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Here's an interesting furniture concept from a company out of Denmark and Switzerland called Crival. The flexible system allows you to transform and build multiple seating and table options by arranging the various pieces without the use of tools. The baby chair features a hammock fabric seat that allows your child to push up and stand while still in the seat (not sure if you'd necessarily want to encourage this all the time, but at a certain age, babies want to constantly test their new-found independance and leg strength by standing up). The tray is tiny tiny and looks useless, but the chair could be pushed right up to the dining table. Take the hammock seat out and attach the tray as a seat and the chair can seat older toddlers, with arm rests formed from the frames of where the seat used to hang from.

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Moving the planks down will create a chair for older kids and adults and a recliner can be made by rearranging and adding on another piece. Padded fabric seat pads are also available for added comfort. Tables of multiple heights and design variations can be also be made by adding a flat table plate as the surface.

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Check out the Crival website to see all the variations as well as the demo video.

The high chair is available for sale at Viva Baby. International orders are available at cost.

Posted by Jenna    Category: furniture | mealtime
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02.14.2006

Hasbro serves up an updated Easy Bake Oven and Baby Alive doll

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There are 2 quintessential toy memories that I have from my early childhood, one of which was The Easy Bake Oven, which I coveted and pined for, but never got. The other was the Baby Alive Doll. I must have been around 3 and I wanted the Baby Alive doll so bad. To me it was one of the best things about America, the place that we immigrated to months before and my parents, I'm sure, feeling guilty enough for ripping me out of familiarity and causing traumatic family separations half a world away, wanted to comply (though I suppose the guilt wore off after awhile - I never did get that Easy Bake Oven). My mom tipped me to the fact that my dad was on his way home with doll in tow. We heard the keys jangle outside our front door. I hid behind the big cardboard box that served as my toy box, and when my dad walked in with the shopping package in one hand, I sprang from my hiding place, too excited for words. I still remember the anticipation and thrill of opening that box.

So it's with much nostalgia that I read that Hasbro plans to re-release both the Baby Alive Doll and the Easy Bake Oven later this year with updated technologies, of course. The new Baby Alive will still eat and poop, but it will also speak and have facial expressions and eye movements. The Easy Bake Oven will no longer utilize the lightbulb as its heating mechanism to cook its tasty treats (although that was sort of the magic for me. Who knew you could bake with a lightbulb?). It'll also feature 4 burners in its contemporary design with one burner that works for warming and melting toppings.

I'm not sure about the new Baby Alive Doll. Too much realism just gets creepy, but I am pretty curious about the new Easy Bake Oven. Now that I make my own money, I might just purchase one for the classic model that I never got back in the day. Oh, and I guess I'll let my daughter play with it once in awhile.

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02.14.2006

NooNoo Comfort Blankets

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My love of felted wool knows no bounds, and so, I am totally enamored by these Comfort Blankets from NooNoo Design. Meant to be used as a sort of security blanket or "lovey" as it is sometimes called, the Comfort Blankets are made from a specially processed felted lambswool that has undergone rigorous safety testing. I love the design, the irregularities of the edges, the nubby textures, the soothing neutral, milky color of the felt and the scribbled drawings that are embroidered on. The drawings, which feature a few not-so-cuddly species such as the fleabug and the slugbug, are drawn by the son of NooNoo's founder, Jo Ashburner.

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The blankets can be ordered directly from the site and come packaged in its own felt bag. Personalized blankets are also available.

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02.13.2006

Brookspond Stoller and Carrier Blankets

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Brookspond, a new company out of Massachusettes, has designed a line of sturdy, water resistant fleece and nylon stroller and baby carrier blankets with a few noteworthy details that are worth checking out. The bottom of their Buggy Blanket features a nylon boot pouch that helps protect the bag from dirt, though I wonder if active toddlers will kick their way out the pouch at some point. When your toddler grows taller, the blanket unsnaps at the bottom to accommodate the extra height and let their feet free. Even though our current stroller bag is long, my tall toddler is almost busting out the bottom already so I'm thinking of switching to this bag next winter. Overall, it seems versatile for all ages since it can grow with your child. It might let in drafts with an open bottom, but it's much better than the alternative, which is no bag or a loose blanket that she'd just toss into the street.

The Buggy Blanket doesn't fit as neatly at the top of my Maclaren as my current bag does, but it does feature nonslip backing plus suspender clips to further secure the bag in place at the bottom of the stroller. Brookspond also offers different blanket covers allowing you to switch colors and different textured blanket tops. I'm not attracted to the styles that are currently offered - faux pony and faux mink are way too much for me - but it is an interesting, though not essential, feature (especially at $60-75). I might like to see them offer interchangeable blanket weights that are appropriate for different seasons and more subtle fabrics/patterns and brighter colors.

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The Baby Carrier Covers also double as a carseat blanket allowing you to transfer your baby from your carrier to carseat using a single, secure blanket. The cover has a collar that buttons up to form a hood and an inside zip pocket to hold small essentials. Open slit pockets on either side allow you to access your baby while warming your hands.

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02.13.2006

Klong

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I'm not sure if Klong is supposed to creep you out or be your friend and even the ad (which you must really check out) and tagline are ambiguous: "Cannot hear or see you but senses your kindness". Klong is also packaged in a plastic cylindrical tube that resembles preserved specimens in a laboratory jar.

But maybe I am just too cynical. The absence of facial features is so that Klong can provide nurturing, peace and calm without beady eyes judging you. Klong is made of huggable baby blanket wool and even the MoMA design store has started carrying it.

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02.11.2006

Baby Dior

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There are no words to describe the Baby Dior collection of bottle and pacifiers. I almost couldn't believe it was for real when I saw this at shefindsmom.com until I saw the price - $40 for a plastic bottle or binky silkscreened with pink logos! Who, aside from maybe Kimora Lee Simmons, would actually want this? (Interestingly enough, the baby blue bottle is $5 less).

Salon recently wrote an article titled "Ringing up Baby" about the growing backlash among parents who've had enough of upscale baby products and their ridiculous prices and impracticalities like the $400 cashmere Marc Jacobs baby hoodies and the Baby Dior bottles above. Pilar Guzman, editor-in-chief of the new Cookie magazine (which has been on the receiving end of its own criticism for featuring and further perpetuating the consumeristic lifestyle on it's glossy pages), argues in the article that women are having babies later in life, and the older mother is "often someone who's traveled, who's evolved. She doesn't want her house covered in Barney and plastic." The sheer fact that luxury baby items even exist is an indication of how the big and lucrative the baby market has become.

My personal pet peeve is when celebrities and designers like Marc Jacobs and Kate Spade jump on the baby bandwagon. Not surprisingly, Gwen Stefani has announced that she will start designing maternity and baby clothes. Of course, the jury's out until her line actually surfaces, but just because you're pregnant, doesn't mean you have what it takes to design baby clothes, though I am sure her staff of designers do and hordes of people will end up buying it.

In the end, it's all a personal matter, isn't it? I guess If you have the money, who really cares what other people think of your expensive purchases. But for the rest of us, including myself, who could never afford a lot of the stuff posted on Babygadget but just love good design, I find it so interesting to see what kinds of outrageous, beautiful, ridiculous, inspiring, fun and practical stuff there is. Some of it really makes our lives easier, and others purely exist to feed our own materialistic fantasies, but we have a lot more choices than our mothers did. We may roll our eyes at some of the more ludicrous baby products out there, but at least we can have a laugh. Speaking of laughs, check out this Dior bear, truly the most hideous teddy bear I have ever seen.

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02.10.2006

Oscar Electrical Outlet Covers

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Oscar is a cute little creature that cleverly hides up to 5 electrical cords in a secure, child-proof lid to keep curious kids out of harm's reach. The power supply cord has a flat design so that it can easily run under carpets or be flatly secured to walls without the bulk. Unfortunately, Oscar is being designed for European plugs, but with enough interest, Nony Designs will consider manufacturing Oscar for US markets. I wonder, though, if Oscar will attract more attention to these cords than if they were just plugged into a powerstrip and hid away under the table. With his glow-in the dark eyes, he sort of resembles the ghosts in PacMan, doesn't he?

Posted by Jenna    Category: gear
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02.10.2006

Selecta Ambiente Dollhouse Collection

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My toddler is perfectly happy playing with her Little People play sets so if I were to get any of these Selecta Ambiente accessories it would probably be more for me.

"Modern and hip, the Ambiente Collection boasts ultra contemporary furnishings that are reminiscent of items seen in Dwell Magazine or Architectural Digest. "

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(Hanging my head guiltily) Am I that certain demographic that would fall for this marketing or what?? But you have to admit, these pieces are really appealing with its clean and colorful lines. I've actually looked at similar pieces of furniture like that cabinet in the dining room above.

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But since my kid is currently happy with her plastic Little People house with funny proportions and toilets that flush, I'll hold off my own indulgences for now. After all, I played endlessly with the earlier generation of Fisher Price little people that were made of wood and had no arms. My favorite was the boy with the pot on his head, remember him?

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02. 9.2006

Animal Hats

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I don't know what possesses us to put hats with ears on our children. Maybe it's because this is the only time we can get away with dressing our kids as animals on a daily basis. In any case, if you do plan on putting additional ears on your baby's head, check out these hats for newborns from Miss Fitt & Co. Choose from white bunny, brown bunny, and mouse.

At Auto.

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02. 9.2006

Baby and Pet Strollers

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Ever notice how some pet and baby gear are just way too similar? My cat is always playing with the baby toys laying around the house because frankly, some of them are just like cat toys. And just take a look at the strollers above (the one on the left is for babies). They suspiciously resemble each other in design, so I wonder if they can't be used interchangeably except for maybe the existence of harness straps. And I always get duped walking into cute clothing stores only to find out that the outfits are for dogs! And it's not like you immediately can tell that they are dog outfits...the way the store is designed and the merchandise displayed, it may take you a moment or two.

Buy the Schwinn Bike Trailer and Stroller at Baby Bungalow and the Wike Dog Stroller at Wike Store.

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02. 8.2006

Psycho Action Figure Set

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Not for kids, I know, and certainly not for babies, but I couldn't pass up posting this collectible action figure set from the movie Psycho. Love how they represented Norman Bate as a silhouetted figure in the background. Quite clever, actually.

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02. 8.2006

Bob's Your Uncle Placemats

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Whip out these fun and colorful placemats the next time you have a bunch of kids over for brunch. They're disposable so they make cleaning up a cinch and in the center of the colorful dots on each placemat are hilarious little recipies written by 4 year olds.

$20 at Cocoa Crayon.

Posted by Jenna    Category: mealtime
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02. 8.2006

DonDon & CamCam Lamps

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At 14 inches tall, this cute dog and cat pair make quite the night light buddies for your kid's room, but it might be a comforting presence if your kid is afraid of the dark and in need of a little light at night.

At Modern Tots.

Posted by Jenna    Category: decor
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02. 7.2006

Pacifier Drier and thermometer

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Not that you really need a pacifier drier (or one that costs $31 for that matter), but it's such a nice, fun design.

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This pacifier thermometer, however, seems like a really practical idea. I've never been very good at taking my baby's temperature - she just wiggles too much and quite frankly, it's not such a pleasant experience for her or me, what with all the wiggling and fear of poking somewhere I'm supposed to not. The pacifier thermometer, however, seems like it would be a pleasant experience for all. There's also the pacifier medicine dispenser to sneak in some liquid medicine.

All available at Giggle.

Posted by Jenna    Category: bath/health | gear
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02. 7.2006

Intamitts Mittens

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I know this isn't really meant for kids, but I keep looking at these connected mittens thinking how they might create a grip on my toddler when we're walking down the street holding hands as she tries to squirm away from me. Sure, she could probably get away, but it might just provide another barrier that she'd have to pry herself loose from. Plus how cute are these mittens? Personally I don't find it easy to hold on to her hand when I'm wearing bulky gloves and she's wearing fingerless (and thumbless) mittens.

From Wishing Fish.

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02. 6.2006

Chair Game

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I like all kinds of balance games and look forward to the day when my kid can play them too without the urge to knock them over herself. Here's a stylish one from the MoMA design store with a collection of 8 different chair designs that can be stacked in any way till one topples over.

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02. 6.2006

Berchet Metal Concept Kitchen

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Speaking of MoMA, they've slashed their prices dramatically for the Berchet Metal Concept Kitchen which is now $99, reduced from $165. This is such a great price for this kitchen and even though it looks space-age and very non-traditional, kids love playing with the Berchet kitchens, which I've witnessed first hand. It includes a 40-piece accessory kit of cookware, dishes and utensils, and is impressive, sturdy and great fun (the pots, pans and utensils are made of steel and look very realistic). Overhead light and fan noise add to the imaginary play without becoming overwhelming like some toy kitchens out there.

Get it at MoMA.

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02. 6.2006

Zizzle Iz

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I'm not sure if the Iz fullfilled itself as the must-have toy over the holidays, but I'm sure it's just the beginning of a growing trend of toy accessories for the iPod. By itself, the Iz is a music maker that spits out different beats, rhythm and leads controlled by the belly, ears and that thing on his head. It will also flash colors on his nose to the beat. But plug him into an iPod and the Iz will act as an external speaker and react to the music that's playing, though I suspect sound quality wouldn't be that great. This is where I can forsee the huge annoyance factor coming into play. Apparently the Iz will sprinkle his own commentary and noises into your tunes. Huh? It's like watching a movie with a friend who's constantly leaning over and whispering commentary in your ear.

Preschoolers might like the whimsical appearance of the Iz to play their own music and watch him dance to the beats, but the iPod part? I think it'd just end up as that annoying toy that won't shut up.

Available at Amazon.

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02. 5.2006

Cities in a Bag

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I've been a huge fan of MUJI since my wife and I stumbled upon one of their stores in Paris a number of years ago. MUJI is short for Mujirushi Ryohin, which is Japanese for "no label, quality goods," reflecting the company's simple and natural designs, along with a subtle jab at our brand-obsessed world. As you might expect, their stuff doesn't feature logos of any kind; my MUJI sweater has a tiny tag inside the collar that displays only the size. They sell a mind-bogglingly long list of products, ranging from stationery to furniture, all unified by a recognizable MUJI aesthetic, which is pretty interesting since their brand is to have no brand.

Unfortunately for me and probably most of you, there are no MUJI stores in the US, except for a teasingly small outpost in the MoMAstore, where at least you can get these awesome cardboard speakers (for your baby's video iPod). To get the full selection, you'll need to head over to Asia or Europe. As a consolation prize, US and Canadian customers can shop MUJI online, which ships from the UK to our side of the pond.

We wrote about Suburbia in a bag a while back, but the reason I'm writing is to turn you on to their "cities in a bag," which include New York, Paris, Tokyo. You get a bag full of artfully carved and illustrated blocks resembling the major landmarks, including the Empire State Building and the Guggenheim for NYC, l'Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower for Paris, the Imperial Palace and lots of squarish office buildings for Tokyo.

4.95 from MUJI online.

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02. 3.2006

Sack 'n Seat

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Though I can't read or understand anything on this site, it's pretty clear how the Sack 'n Seat works. Just pull out the fabric from the handy travel pouch, loop the fabric around the chair back and secure the buckles, place the baby in...and just like that, you can turn any chair into a safe, secure seat for your baby. Sure, it doesn't boost the baby to a comfortable height for eating at a table, but it seems handy in a pinch when you don't want to lug a bulky booster seat around. I love how portable the Sack 'n Seat is and it's a simple concept, really - it takes the sling idea and adapts it for use on a chair.

I found a site where you can get it for $16.95 at The Baby Hammock.

(Thanks to one of our readers, Hanna, for the tip)

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02. 3.2006

Calder fish pull toy

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I think I found the most expensive pull toy ever - the Calder fish pull toy for $195 (yes, that's $195.00, not $19.50). Yeah, it's graphic and charming and designed by Alexander Calder. Ok, so it's also a limited edition collectible that's an exact replica of the 1920s original, but still. Let's file this one under ridiculous.

Not surprisingly, with that museum quality pricetag, it's available at the SFMOMA shop.

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02. 2.2006

Coby Portable DVD/CD player

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I just got off a 5-hour plane ride with the family, so even though I try to limit TV for my kid at home, I see the real benefits of portable media players for occupying kids on long trips. I really could have used something like Coby's new portable DVD/CD player (the TF-DVD560), which will be available in March for $120. My wiggling toddler immediately sat still when I put on the Elmo DVD on my Apple laptop as a last resort, but after 20 minutes, she wanted to play with the keyboard and touch the screen, which is a no no at home (computers are for mom's work only).

If you do a lot of travelling and rely on CDs and DVDs to entertain and distract your kids, it makes sense to give them their own media player so they can handle and play with it all they want. The TF-DVD560 has a 3.5 inch color screen, plays DVDs and CDs, and includes a remote, headphones, and a stand, but it also includes 12 classic Sega games to keep the kids busy. The games aren't the latest, slickest games, but if your kids are a certain age where they aren't hip to the the newest cutting edge games, they won't care.

via New York Times (thanks Camilla).

Posted by Jenna    Category: books/media
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02. 2.2006

Baby Gender Mentor Home DNA Testing Kit

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There are couples who wait until delivery to find out the sex of their baby, and there are those who want to know in advance. And for those who really, and I mean REALLY, just can't wait for that 20 week ultrasound, the Baby Gender Mentor Home DNA Testing Kit can tell you the sex of your baby as early as 5 weeks after conception. The technology has been in the works for 14 years and is over 99.9% accurate. All you need is a few drops of your blood to detect the genetic fetal chromosomal DNA that determines gender.

Now I'm the type who can't wait to find out because I just need to know, but this all seems so, well...clinical, and just takes away any element of surprise and anticipation. Aside from the reassurance that your baby is healthy and has 10 fingers and 10 toes, isn't that the fun of having the 20 week ultrasound? So you can stare at that lovely, but crude image of your baby in utero and try to make out what's between the legs?

Posted by Jenna    Category: pregnancy
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02. 1.2006

Kettler Futura high chair

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I think if I were to choose a high chair all over again, I might have gone with the Kettler Futura high chair instead of the plastic and vinyl Fisher Price High Chair. Don't get me wrong, the Fisher Price has served us well over the year, but I did think it was an eye sore in the apartment with it's very ruffled, very plaid vinyl seat cushion, plus it was just so huge. Usually I tend to research the hell out of things, but I was caught in a panic one day at Babies-R-Us, totally overwhelmed by high chair options and rushed by my mom to make a decision ("it's only a high chair!").

I like that the Futura is simply designed, and like the Stokke Kinderzeat, which we now have, is adjustable so that the chair can grow with your child. The one drawback that I see is that the tray is on the small side, but maybe your kid doesn't need as much dining space as mine seems to need (mostly for fingerpainting with yogurt).

Available at Babyride.

Posted by Jenna    Category: furniture | mealtime
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02. 1.2006

Disney Character PC

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If your toddler doesn't already like pounding on the keys of your laptop, he'll love Epson's new Endeavor line of laptops. Starting on February 13, you'll be able to get these lightweight machines with Disney characters etched on the outer casing ... at least, if you're in Japan, where the rules of cuteness probably permit Mickey and Pooh to adorn even grownups' computers. They come in the rough equivalent of 15" and 12" versions, in white and in black, and with a Celeron chip (at 1.5 GHz) and up to 2 GB of RAM. Prices supposedly start at around $800, although they seem a bit higher if you convert the figures listed on the Epson Direct Japan site.

Now that Steve Jobs owns a big slice of Disney, are we going to see a Mickey Mac?

Via Tech Shout.

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