Soothing the Savage Infant and Toddler

We often think of the first few years of childhood as a time of total dependence on dad, mom, and anyone else who’s willing to change diapers and clean up vomit. But while that’s true, those early years are also a time when kids start hurtling towards independence, trying to do everything on their own, whether that’s crawling, walking, eating, reading, using the big-kid toilet, or anything else. This week we take a look at a number of toys that little ones will want to do on their own. You may need to be around to help or explain a few things, but even the smallest humans need some “me time.”

zing stikbotStikBots (Zing)
Got a budding animator in your home? If so, this is definitely for you (as long as your child is old enough not to put small things in his or her mouth). The idea is pretty simple: kids can pose the cute plastic figures and use the free StikBot Studios app (for iOS or Android only) to create their very own stop-action. Suction cups where hands and feet would be allow the StikBots to do all sorts of neat tricks. The Bots themselves don’t always hold their posed position and the app can be confusing for very little kids, but overall, it’s a really fun way to bring out your child’s creativity. Ages 4+. $9.99 for a kit with two Bots and a tripod. http://www.stikbot.toys/

sleeperheroSleeperHero (SleeperHero)
When kids are little, bedtime can be tough on everyone: they may be afraid of the dark or of being alone, and you may be afraid (then angry) that you’ll be up all night dealing with them. SleeperHero is a doll-book combo that’s aimed at eliminating some of that nighttime tension. The book is about a child who has trouble falling asleep in his own bed but is befriended by SleeperHero, who’s there to comfort and banish the bad guys and monsters hiding under the bed. For the parents, the doll has a light on his chest that glows red when it’s time for the child to stay in bed, then changes to green when it’s okay to run around and wake everyone up. Naturally, you can set both times. Ages 3+. $49.99. http://www.sleeperhero.com/


troboTROBO (Trobo)
If you’re completely opposed to exposing young children to technology, you’re out of luck here. But if you agree that technology can be wonderful in moderation and with an adult around, you’ll love TROBO. This friendly plush toy pairs with an iPad or iPhone and tells stories to your child. The stories subtly expose toddlers to science and technology concepts, and by incorporating your child’s name and a cartoon avatar, he or she becomes part of the story—and stays interested, which hopefully builds a love of learning. TROBO isn’t quite out yet, but he’ll be available just in time for the Holidays. Pre-order at http://www.herecomestrobo.com/




tiny love mobile + crib toyDouble-Sided Crib Toy and Hide and Seek Mobile (Tiny Love)
The crib toy attaches to the inside of your baby’s crib and lets your baby pound, bang, poke, and twist five colorful elements that produce a variety of sounds and effects. Flip it over and it switches to nighttime mode, with softly twinkling lights and soothing music.  The mobile is not your father’s (or even your) mobile. Sure it has adorable animals that gently go round and round, accompanied by music. But these figures also play hide and seek with your baby, sometimes hiding behind something that looks like a leaf, sometimes not. The mobile also gives your baby some control over the music. 0-24 months. Prices vary. http://www.tinylove.com/

What’s New, Baby?

As parents who spend a lot of time reviewing and playing with toys, games, and other kid-of-all-ages-related paraphernalia, we often find ourselves wondering how (and, sometimes, why) people keep coming up with new products. This year, we discovered a number of new baby items that are innovative enough to make new parents excited, parents of older kids jealous, and grandparents wonder where all these things were when they were raising their own babies.

journey bee, parents@playjourneyBee
There are plenty of travel cribs out there, but the journeyBee cribs from ParentLab are the first we’ve seen that are actually light and flexible enough to satisfy the portable-crib needs of families that are always on the move. Weighing in at just 10 pounds and easy to carry on your back, you’ll need only one trip to move the crib from home to car or vice versa. And they’re sturdy enough for road trips, hotels, camping, outdoor play, or bringing along to friends’ and family’s homes for easy nap- or playtime. A breeze to set up, recommended for 0-18 months. If you’re looking for something a little more petite and you’re not in a hurry, the company is planning to release a bassinet version that weighs only 4.3 lbs and folds up smaller than most purses. http://ParentLab.com.
twilight turtle, parents@playTwilight Turtle
Okay, Twilight Turtle (along with cousin Sleep Sheep) has been around for a while, but there’s definitely something new here. Don’t worry–those amazing blue, amber, or green constellation projections aren’t going anywhere. But Cloud b has added a Twilight Turtle Tunes app (free), which uses Bluetooth to allow moms and dads to choose from a pre-set mix and match of melodies and sounds to play on the Twilight Turtle Tunes’ speaker box. There’s also a premium app ($1.99) that gives parents the option to access their personal music libraries to create totally unique mixes for as long as 24 hours. If you prefer not to use or you don’t have Bluetooth, Twilight Turtle Tunes comes with one default nighty-night melody that can be set for 45 minutes. http://cloudb.com/
bassinet, parents@playThree from Tiny Love
These creative, innovative makers of all things baby have an amazing lineup of soon-to-be must-haves for parents and baby-shower registries everywhere. First up is the new Magical Night projection mobile, which is a crib mobile, projector, music box, and toddler nightlight (that looks like an adorable bedside lamp) all in one. Given that traditional mobiles have to come down once the baby can stand up and start yanking on them, an item that can last from birth through the toddler years offers real value for the money. Plus, since it grows with your child, it will also be a familiar part of bedtime routines, which experts agree help children fall asleep more easily—and stay that way longer. Due to start hitting stores in April.
3 in one, parents@playNext, speaking of value for the money, keep an eye out for the 3-in-1 Rocker Napper. As a rocker, the seat can be used to entertain or soothe your baby, complete with baby-activated mobile with soft and happy buddies to play with, and a music box that plays nine melodies. Detach the mobile for an inclined feeding seat. And at naptime, raise the sides and you’ve got a rocking bassinet. And you can move from position to position with one hand.
Finally, there’s the Take Along Bouncer, an easy-to-fold, portable bouncy seat that will be out in the Spring. For info on all these Tiny Love products, http://tinylove.com/

What’s New, Baby?

As parents who spend a lot of time reviewing and playing with toys, games, and other kid-of-all-ages-related paraphernalia, we often find ourselves wondering how (and, sometimes, why) people keep coming up with new products. This year, we discovered a number of new baby items that are innovative enough to make new parents excited, parents of older kids jealous, and grandparents wonder where all these things were when they were raising their own babies.

 

journeyBee

parents@play journeybThere are plenty of travel cribs out there, but the journeyBee cribs from ParentLab are the first we’ve seen that are actually light and flexible enough to satisfy the portable-crib needs of families that are always on the move. Weighing in at just 10 pounds and easy to carry on your back, you’ll need only one trip to move the crib from home to car or vice versa. And they’re sturdy enough for road trips, hotels, camping, outdoor play, or bringing along to friends’ and family’s homes for easy nap- or playtime. A breeze to set up, recommended for 0-18 months. If you’re looking for something a little more petite and you’re not in a hurry, the company is planning to release a bassinet version that weighs only 4.3 lbs and folds up smaller than most purses. http://ParentLab.com.

 

Twilight Turtle

parents@play twilight turtleOkay, Twilight Turtle (along with cousin Sleep Sheep) has been around for a while, but there’s definitely something new here. Don’t worry–those amazing blue, amber, or green constellation projections aren’t going anywhere. But Cloud b has added a Twilight Turtle Tunes app (free), which uses Bluetooth to allow moms and dads to choose from a pre-set mix and match of melodies and sounds to play on the Twilight Turtle Tunes’ speaker box. There’s also a premium app ($1.99) that gives parents the option to access their personal music libraries to create totally unique mixes for as long as 24 hours. If you prefer not to use or you don’t have Bluetooth, Twilight Turtle Tunes comes with one default nighty-night melody that can be set for 45 minutes. http://cloudb.com/

 

Three from Tiny Love

parents@play rocker These creative, innovative makers of all things baby have an amazing lineup of soon-to-be must-haves for parents and baby-shower registries everywhere. First up is the new Magical Night projection mobile, which is a crib mobile, projector, music box, and toddler nightlight (that looks like an adorable bedside lamp) all in one. Given that traditional mobiles have to come down once the baby can stand up and start yanking on them, an item that can last from birth through the toddler years offers real value for the money. Plus, since it grows with your child, it will also be a familiar part of bedtime routines, which experts agree help children fall asleep more easily—and stay that way longer. Due to start hitting stores in April.

Next, speaking of value for the money, keep an eye out for the 3-in-1 Rocker Napper. As a rocker, the seat can be used to entertain or soothe your baby, complete with baby-activated mobile with soft and happy buddies to play with, and a music box that plays nine melodies. Detach the mobile for an inclined feeding seat. And at naptime, raise the sides and you’ve got a rocking bassinet. And you can move from position to position with one hand.

Finally, there’s the Take Along Bouncer, an easy-to-fold, portable bouncy seat that will be out in the Spring. For info on all these Tiny Love products,http://tinylove.com/