In this ongoing update, we’ll fill you in on the latest in gear, gadgets, and new ideas that can make caring for your baby safer, more efficient, or more fun.
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There are lots of cases for iPads — Jennifer and I each have ours in fake leather that makes them look like hardback books — but this one looks to be the toughest yet.
The Khomo Safekids is made with dense heavy-duty foam (the same kind used in the soles of high-end sneakers, the company says). It can withstand considerable wear-and-tear, and provide extreme shock protection. The thick foam fully covers the back, sides and extends above the surface of the iPad’s screen, which means that the screen will remain safe from scratches if set facedown.
The handle provides a secure grip fro the iPad, and can be folded back to become a stand.
It’s regularly $60, but can be had for $20 here on Amazon. (Affiliate link.)
For when your child is too young to carry around a tablet but you still would like to have them view one on occasion: The “Apptivity” seat secures an iPad above the child’s head — and inside a case to “protect it from dribbles and drool,” says Fisher-Price.
What should a baby use an iPad for? Fisher-Price provides free custom apps: some with black and white images to enhance visual skills; soothing apps with nature scenes; and learning apps.
And for when the screen doesn’t hold the tot’s attention, there are also toys to bat at on the removable bar above.
The seat has 3-point restraints for safety, reclines to three adjustable positions, and the seat pad and head support are removable and machine-washable. There are also easy adjustments to extend the use from newborn to toddler.
It’s $75 here. (Affiliate link.)
Don’t want an Apple iPad or Google Android tablet? Here’s an independent effort:
The Little Scholar tablet comes with custom content designed for children in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. It’s “like having a teacher 24-7,” developer School Zone says.
With exciting activities, charming animations, and audio praise, these apps combine progressive challenge with playful creativity. You can also “enjoy toe-tapping kids tunes: Little Scholar is preloaded with 87 original songs that you and your kids will love.”
It’s available for $200 pre-order here.
The Kindle tablets can be great ways to read plenty of books — but are they appropriate for your toddler? Amazon thinks so, and has added software to its Fire tablet, Kindle FreeTime, with which parents can set educational goals for their kids, and make sure their kids have met their goals before switching to cartoons and games.
How? Just tap on “Learn First,” and all non-educational content is removed from the child’s FreeTime library until they have met their daily reading or educational goals.
Amazon also touts thousands of new educational books, apps, games and videos coming to its Kindle FreeTime Unlimited platform, including Common Core Standard-aligned books, educational apps from developers like BrainPOP and Agnitus, and movies and TV shows from Sesame Street, PBS, Reading Rainbow and more.
“We know kids spend a lot of time every day looking at screens, and we’re excited to add new tools that help parents make this time more educational,” the company says.
The Kindle Fire HD is $139 here. (Affiliate link.)
Kids can do more than just play with new electronic gadgets — they can also learn how these things work. Snap Circuits by Elanco is a series of kits with simple circuit boards on which project components simply snap into place: no soldering or alligator clips required.
The Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 starter kit is $34 here. (Affiliate link.) It has 30 reusable color-coded parts to build 100 projects and experiments such as a dual-speed fan, periodic doorbell, photo sensor police siren, flashing laser light and more.
The kit has won the Seal of Approval from The National Parenting Center, as well as other awards.
The Romo Robotic Pet roves your home on a wheeled base, carrying your iPhone or iPod Touch from room to room.
“Romo is a curious digital creature who lives in your phone and explores your world on his roving base,” says developer Romotive. “Just download the app and dock your iPod Touch or iPhone. Let him explore your world and snap photos of what he sees. Program him to respond and adapt to his environment. You can even control Romo remotely via web browser or other iOS devices – from anywhere in the world.” Your kids can train him to recognize faces, dance to music, or chase a ball. You can also “invite friends and family anywhere in the world to control your Romo remotely while streaming 2-way video and audio,” Romotive adds, and parents can “go room to room to say good night while away on business.”
It can move about at a top speed of one foot per second, and runs around for two hours nonstop on a charge. “You play. Romo learns.”
The rover and apps are $150 here. (Affiliate link.) (Phone not included.)