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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Chewing and Winking
Jan 2, 2014 by Paul W.
Looking for something a bit simpler for that brand-new baby? Manhattan Toy says its Winkel is a slightly sophisticated chew toy, a “mesmerizing maze of safe, soft, continuous tubes perfect for a teething baby to chew on.”
Not only will babies “be engaged and amused by the responsive rattle,” the company adds, but caregivers can “safely refrigerate this pliable plastic toy to produce a soothing teether.” One customer review says it helped her baby “develop two-handed play (an early developmental milestone) well ahead of time.”
It’s $13 here. (affiliate link)
Robot teaches tots
Dec 18, 2013 by Paul W.
“With his quirky personality, rockin’ dance moves, and funny responses,” developer Vtech says, “your child will love interacting” with its robot toy. Cogsley has an animated LCD screen, as well as mechanical moving parts, and “is the perfect learning robot friend.”
Moving parts on Cogsley include twistable ears, spinning nose and eyes, moving arms, twisting body, and moving eyebrows and mouth.
Cogsley comes with 30 “chips” — round plastic tokens with letters, words, and pictures, each of which trigger a variety of responses including movements, sounds, images, and fun animations on his LCD screen. Cogsley’s sound detector is activated by clapping, talking, and singing.
Cogsley also has “surprise responses” to enhance interactive play, the company says. “The robot will help tots learn about letters, counting, words, manners, and more.”
It measure about 5x9x12 inches, and is $72 here. (Affiliate link.)
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.)
Seat holds baby and iPad
Dec 18, 2013 by Paul W.
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.)