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Baby Tech

Gadgets and new innovations for babies and their parents.

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Travel toys for tots: Crayola’s Mess-Free Coloring Desk
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This week’s featured travel toy is Crayola’s Mess-Free Coloring Desk, which will provide your little ones with hours of travel-friendly and mess-free art projects.Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 3.09.55 PM

The desk, currently $15 at Amazon, is a lightweight 2.3 lbs, and comes equipped with a set of mess-free Color Wonder Markers, Paints, and a paintbrush made especially for the included 20-page Color Wonder Drawing Pad.

The colors won’t show up on skin, fabric or furniture but only on the special paper included. (Extra paper can be ordered here.) There are compartments for the special paint, and supplies can also be stashed in the storage area underneath the desk.

Although the manufacturer’s recommended ages for the Coloring Desk is 3 years and up, many Amazon reviewers say younger children can use it, too, with parental supervision.

The Crayola Mess-Free Coloring Desk is available here.

Travel toys for tots: Smart Stages Laptop
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Ah, summer… the time when families hit the road, or skies, or both, for vacation pleasure. But pleasure can turn to pain if baby grows bored or tired, which is why we at Baby Tech will focus on travel-friendly toys and games for the next few weeks.

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Fisher-Price’s Laugh and Learn Smart Stages Laptop, currently available on Amazon for $13, designed for ages 6 months to 3 years, is just such a toy. Weighing only 1.5 lbs and running on two AA batteries (not included), the Smart Stages Laptop includes three levels of play so that it grows as your baby does.

Baby can press one of nine colored buttons, or the space bar, to hear songs and phrases about letters, numbers, colors and more. Open and close the lid to hear opposites, as well. The Smart Stages Laptop comes with a travel handle for easy transport.

There’s a manual switch for parents to set the learning level; the levels include Explore (first words and sounds), Encourage (prompts for simple directions and questions), and Pretend (imaginative fun and role-play). In all, there are 30+ songs, phrases and sounds, many of which reward your child’s actions.

The Laugh and Learn Smart Stages Laptop is available here.

All aboard the Magic Learning Bus
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Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 12.41.03 PMLeapFrog’s Touch Magic Learning Bus (currently available on Amazon.com for under $20, with free shipping for Prime members) is a musical learning toy for children ages 2 and older.

Making movements or touching the sensor will activate the bus, which runs on three AAA batteries (included). Children can toggle between the bus’s modes (Learning, Letter Exploration, and Music), and parents can go online for tips on expanding and enhancing the learning activities.

When a child touches one of the alphabet letters on the Magic Bus, the child hears the letter name, the letter sound, and 26 words that begin with the letter. Once the child recognizes each letter, there’s a Find the Letter game, The Magic Bus, is lightweight at 1.5 lbs, and parents can use a damp cloth to wipe off grimy fingerprints.

The Touch Magic Learning Bus is available here.

A digital baby book you can send to print
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kidmonodKidmondo is an online baby book that lets parents and caretakers track and share baby’s milestones and special moments. The feature-rich site includes pages for journaling, recording physical and medical data, tracking growth, posting pictures, and a food journal to record reactions to first bites.

All data is set to be private, but you can share one or more areas with friends and family so they too can experience your baby’s special moments. (Journals cannot be set to be seen by everyone, because the company’s owners believe in protecting your family’s privacy.)

Kidmondo, which is available in English, Spanish and Italian, is free for its basic services, which include three journals and 100  MB of storage; it also offers a premium service for $39/year, which includes unlimited journals, no advertising, and 5 GB of storage.

Best of all, Kidmondo offers an option to print out your baby book as a hard copy, for which users can customize the cover, content and photos to be included. The price for printing a hard copy is $28 for 20 pages and $.50 per additional page.

The Kidmondo online baby journal is available here.

The mother of all body pillows
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Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 12.07.51 PMLeachco’s Snoogle Total Body Pillow is the top-selling body pillow on Amazon, thanks to its ergonomically designed comfort and support for moms-to be.

Designed by a registered nurse and mom, the Snoogle’s flexible shape conforms to the shape of your body, providing support for your back, hips and tummy while keeping your knees and hips in a neutral position.

Once baby’s born, the Snoogle can be used as a nursing pillow, and then again as a cozy spot for toddlers to nap. The Snoogle comes with a removable, washable cover (replacements covers are available on Amazon), and weighs 5.5 pounds.

The Snoogle Total Body Pillow is available here.

And on keyboard…
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Ginzick’s Kids Music DJ Style Playmat with Keyboard & Microphone, currently available at Amazon for under $40 (with free shipping for Prime members), is the type of toy I wish had been around back in olden days when I was a kid. (I’m tempted to get one now, since the product is pitched as “fun for the whole family” and does seem to be just that.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 3.27.15 PMGeared to ages 3 and up, the Playmat is a self-inclusive DJ system that serves as a karaoke machine, a DJ sound system, and a one-piece band. In addition to the keyboard, the Playmat includes eight instrument sounds (including guitar, saxophone, harp and violin) and four different drums, and you can plug in an MP3 player or your phone to play tunes through the Playmat.

The Playmat, which runs on four AA batteries (not included) has an energy-saver function that turns the unit off when not in use, and a volume control. A headset is also included for your budding DJ.

Purchase the DJ Style Playmat with Keyboard & Microphone here.

“Trying for a Baby” Tech
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When I was trying to conceive–back before the Internet or smart phones or apps–I got serious. I’m a programmer so I had to do it by the numbers. So I whipped up a LOTUS 1-2-3 spreadsheet (I know, I’m dating myself) and plotted my basal body temperature, bodily changes, and even the dates and times of our marital sex bouts. My friends thought I was crazy…until two months later, KA-BAM a ocmonitor“BFP” as we call it in the TTC world. BFP= Big Fat Positive, TTC=Trying to Conceive.

Fast forward to the 21st century and now there’s an app for that. Actually, there’s an integrated website, mobile and app for that called OvulationCalendar.com. This website creates a TTC “Journey” for a couple who is trying to conceive and creates an easy interface to enter all of your physical and nutritional data in order to improve the chances of conceiving a baby.

I would have totally geeked out over this when I was pregnant. Each time you login, it prompts you for the information it needs to give you recommendations on when to have sex. I know, not the most romantic way to get it on with the spouse, but we’ve got a job to do here and OvulationCalendar is there to help you do it!

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As you can see by the screenshot, above, it asks you to input info about your diet, temperature, health and even mood! Although I’m beyond my baby making years, I played around with the modules and found them to be  self-explanatory and extremely easy to use. The site even has a blog for parents who are TTC and expecting with articles like “When Should I Take Maternity Leave?” and “What Are My Chances of Having Twins?” There is no cost to sign up or use the program. For more information, visit OvulationCalendar.com.

“OvulationCalendar.com tracks our users cycle and lifestyle data in order for us to make accurate predictions on when they are actually ovulating. This significantly improves their chances of conceiving” Phil Druce, Co-Founder

A homework helper for younger spellers
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The Franklin KID-1240 Children’s Talking Dictionary & Spell Corrector, currently available for under $50 at Amazon.com, offers personalized greetings, phonetic spell corrections, a rhyme finder, and 5 word-building games that include different skills levels.

Geared to children ages 6 and up, the unit runs on 4 AAA batteries (not included) and comes with 44,000 vocabulary words, as well as a guide to writing cursive for little hands. A parent can create customized spelling lists and have a child learn those words through the unit’s games.

Reviewers on Amazon are particularly pleased with the Talking Dictionary & Spell Corrector’s help in aiding children who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and for children for whom English is not the primary language.

The Children’s Talking Dictionary and Spell Corrector is available here.

For your budding Buddy Rich
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Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 3.20.51 PMVTech’s Kidibeat Drum Set, available on Amazon.com for under $20, provides little ones with hours of jamming, fun and learning.

The drum set works in three modes: free-style, playing along with nine pre-set songs (the drums light up as a learning guide to the songs), and learning about letters and numbers through structured play.

Geared to ages 2-5, the Kidibeat Drum Set runs on two AA batteries (included) and weighs two pounds. It includes a volume control for sound-sensitive parents, and comes with two drumsticks (but tiny hands work as well).

You can purchase the VTech Kidibeat Drum Set here.

Everything a mom-to-be needs in one place
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WebMD’s Pregnancy app, which is free foScreen Shot 2015-04-02 at 12.44.37 PMr downloading and runs on iOS, has just about everything you need to guide you through your pregnancy. The app comes with 626 pregnancy-related articles, 129 quizzes, 104 tips, 23 videos, 10 tools, and five slideshows.

After you download the app, take the video tour to show the app’s features, then navigate the simple-to-use home-page menu, which includes checklists for you and your doctor, an appointments calendar, a symptom tracker, a contraction time, a kick counter, and entries for your vital statistics throughout your pregnancy. There’s also a journaling feature and a section to store your weekly belly pics.

Its Pregnancy 101 section is what makes this app stand out among pregnancy apps; it includes articles on nutrition, exercise, labor and delivery, prenatal testing, high-risk pregnancies,  and health and safety.

The WebMD Pregnancy app runs on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch and is available here.