Archive for the ‘Kid-friendly products’ Category


New trend: Swimming in Crocs, but is it unhygienic?

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Vanessa McMains,  Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Jessica Rosenberg has noticed one of this summer’s hottest trends right in her family pool in Santa Clara, Calif.: kids wearing their Crocs while swimming.

“My kids have been wearing their Crocs in the pool for two summers now,” said Rosenberg, 33, the mother of two children, ages 2 and 4.

But because Crocs are worn everywhere — public bathrooms, playgrounds, home, sidewalks — some poolgoers are wondering if the Croc-wearers are tracking extra germs into the water.

“As for the sanitary issue, I doubt putting Crocs in a chlorinated pool is any less healthy than letting a child whose feet are black with grime from walking around in flip-flops get into the same pool,” said Rosenberg. “But, then again, we swim in a private backyard pool.”

Experts say the street-shoe aspect of Crocs makes them problematic.

“I don’t think it is hygienic to wear street shoes into the water that should be clean,” said Elizabeth Scott, co-director of the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College in Boston.

Many public pools have rules that ban street shoes from being worn in the water. Crocs are quickly replacing water shoes as the footwear of choice for kids in private pools and places that allow shoes, however.

Many public pools have rules that ban street shoes from being worn in the water. Crocs are quickly replacing water shoes as the footwear of choice for kids in private pools and places that allow shoes, however. (CT file photo.)

Parents looking out for their children are often faced with conflicting concerns, though. Wearing shoes in the water can protect kids’ feet from rocks, shells, concrete scrapes and other elements — and the already-popular and waterproof Crocs serve that purpose well. Does that outweigh the tracking in and out of germs that might be happening?

“The more germs you throw into the pool, the harder to keep the pool clean,” Scott said.

Many public pools have rules that ban street shoes from being worn in the water. Crocs are quickly replacing water shoes as the footwear of choice for kids in private pools and places that allow shoes, however.

Furthermore, kids like to wear their Crocs in the water because they float. Crocs can change a kid’s buoyancy like anti-gravity boots and double as a pool toy — think of the Fun Noodle craze with the floating tubes.

“The shoes are ideal because they become weightless in the water and no one burns their feet on hot cement when getting out,” said Rosenberg. “As an added bonus, the shoes come out squeaky clean.”

Official Crocs are made of a patented antimicrobial material called Croslite. Many of the other Croc-like shoes are made from different materials, some that rival the comfort of Crocs — such as Holey’s made from SmartCel memory foam — but do not claim to prevent bacteria from growing on them. Other knock-offs, while cheap and slip-resistant, are made of rubber and have no extra antibacterial properties.

Even though Crocs are antimicrobial, the company recommends that wearers occasionally disinfect their shoes with a simple solution of 10 percent bleach, which can be made by adding 1 cup of bleach to 9 cups of water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends always showering before and after going swimming and if you will be wearing Crocs or other kinds of shoes, then shower with them too. This prevents the transfer of germs from the environment into pools and prevents any bacteria that could be lurking in pools or beaches to be carried home.


Kids will jam to playlist of kid-friendly adult songs

Posted by Lorain County Moms

By Joy Oglesby, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

To show my son I loved him, I made him a mix tape.

Well, it’s sort of a mix tape. My son Andrew has his own playlist on my iPod.

While I made it for him, it’s also a playlist for me. We spend at least 35 minutes in the car together each day, and honestly, some of the music on my iPod is not appropriate for 2-year-old ears.

We have some children’s CDs, but I either forget to bring them or they’re stashed in my husband’s car. And truth be told, there’s only so much children’s music I can stomach.

Thus, the iPod playlist. A kid-friendly playlist gives me peace of mind that he won’t hear songs with wildly inappropriate lyrics. (I’ll save those for when he’s not in the car) And since I always carry my iPod, I’ll always have mom-approved music at the ready.

I know a kid playlist is not a novel idea I’m sure other parents have done this long before me but I decided to do it after our commute home one day, when I caught Andrew grooving to They Might Be Giants’ “Birdhouse In Your Soul.” When we got home, I pulled out the CD and played the track for him, and he danced.

Little did I know that the group I loved in high school and college was now a kids’ act.

I downloaded some new TMBG and combed through the music already on our iTunes to assemble Andrew’s playlist. (I use the iPod, but feel free to substitute your own MP3 player)

I’ve got 54 songs on there, and while I haven’t tried them all on Andrew yet, I already know he has some favorites.

This is Andrew’s top 5, by my best estimation (which is the amount of kicking and cheering that goes on during and after the song). Feel free to try them out on your kids:

  • No. 5: Anything by Jason Mraz. Really, any Jason Mraz song will do. Andrew loves him. He’s actually cried a few times when I tried to flip through a Jason Mraz song. If anyone reading this knows Jason Mraz or one of his people, please pass along my thanks for making such catchy songs that don’t contain curse words.
    “Wordplay” is one of his favorites:
  • No. 4: “Jump, Jive an’ Wail,” The Brian Setzer Orchestra. This is a suggestion I found on an iTunes playlist that had a name like “Kids Music for Adults.” Totally worth the 99 cents I paid for it.
  • No. 3: “Xanadu” by Olivia Newton-John. I think this one troubles my husband, because he’s not a Newton-John fan. But Andrew loves her, and so do I. Xanadu is our favorite in the Newton-John songbook he tries to hit the high notes at the end, when Olivia Newton-John sings “Xanadu-ooo-oooooo.” It cracks me up.
  • No. 2: “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” They Might Be Giants. He tries to sing along. He has no idea what he’s saying, but he tries to sing along. The line where they sing how they’d be fired “After killing Jason off/And countless screaming Argonauts” gives me pause, but I remind myself that it’s based on a tale from Greek mythology and therefore counts as educational.
  • No. 1: “Song 2,” Blur. You know the song that goes “Woo-hoo!” and you can’t really make out any of the lyrics? This is Andrew’s favorite. He sings “Woo-hoo.” He jumps. He yells, “Yeah yeah!” He demands that we play it at least once a day.

Fellow parents, if you’ve got any songs that your kids like, please send them my way. Andrew’s playlist can always be expanded.


In drawing game, fun doesn’t take backseat

Posted by Lorain County Moms

Have you played “Backseat Drawing”? ($24.99, all ages, 4-10 players) In this goofy game that turns Pictionary on its ear, two teams race to identify sketches drawn by teammates — only problem is, the artists don’t know what they’re doing. No, we don’t mean they’re lousy artists, but every stroke of the marker is directed by a teammate who holds the card. It’s kind of like those “Survivor” challenges where a blindfolded player is guided through an obstacle course by a teammate’s verbal instructions. Only with whiteboards and markers and no blindfold. Very fun, which is what you’d expect from the company that makes Apples to Apples. The regular version’s cards spell out the object to be drawn. The junior version has a picture of the object. We just wished some of the objects were more bizarre. After a while you get bored drawing trucks and submarines, so we started writing our own … for the other team.

Find the game on Amazon, or visit

—By Jackie Burrell, Contra Costa Times


Mix up a batch of homemade bubbles

Posted by Lorain County Moms

Bubbles are big business at our house. But I’ve noticed that the store-bought solution always runs out before we want the fun to end. To keep the whining at bay, I usually just squirt some dish soap in a bowl. It’s a sudsy and messy substitute, but gets the job done.

Next time, I’m trying this recipe for better bubbles, courtesy of Make and Takes ( It’s cheap, easy and calls for items most of us already have on hand.


4 cups water

1 cup dish soap — try Palmolive, Ajax, Joy or Dawn

¼ cup corn syrup

Plastic container or jug

Pour and mix all of the ingredients into a container or jug. (Using a jug is great so you can shake it up really good, but you could whisk it all together in a bowl, too.) Let the solution settle, then pour it into a flat container. This way it’s easier to dip your wands into the solution.

—By Janel Jacobs,


New product: Graco 4-in-1 highchair

Posted by Lorain County Moms

If you have kids, chances are you also have a basement, attic or closet(s) packed with discarded baby stuff. Clothes that fit your little one for a few weeks and are practically brand-new. Toys that were purchased in a fit of “I’ve got find something to keep him busy!” And that wipes warmer that seemed like a must-have, but turned out to just be one more thing taking up space in the nursery.

Now baby-product giant Graco hopes you’ll buy just one more thing, though to be fair, it’s all in the name of getting more bang for your buck (and more space in your basement). The Blossom 4-in-1 Highchair converts from a standard infant highchair to an infant booster to a toddler seat, and finally to a chair for older kids. (I’m skeptical about that last one — can’t an older kid just sit in a regular chair?) And you can actually use the parts separately, so you could seat an infant and toddler using various portions of the chair. At $180, it’s not inexpensive, but for families just starting out, it might be a good investment.

The Blossom system is available in three colors. Find more information and a store locator at, or buy at



Healthy, safe (and yes, cheap) finger foods

Posted by besttech

My daughter has mastered the art of picking up pieces of food (or non-food) and stuffing them in her mouth in less than a second. Because of this, I’ve been reduced to eating salads in my bedroom closet to avoid her snatching my Craisins and tomatoes.

I’ve found that providing her with a tray full of finger foods gives her enough of a distraction to let me down at least a bite or two. But with only two bottom teeth, I worry about her choking and reading the nutritional information on the back of prepackaged “baby finger foods” does not inspire confidence.

So I’ve been on a mission to find the most nutritious, and safe, finger foods. Here’s the best list that I’ve come across, from

1. Cheerios: What toddler bag would be complete without them?

2. Avocado: High in fiber, potassium and vitamin E — easy to gum.

3. Pancakes: Cut up, of course, with fruit mixed in the batter.

4. Beans: Cooked kidney beans are especially good for cutting teeth.

5. Pasta: I’ve found that whole-grain rotini noodles are a hit.

6. Tofu: If you’re saying “ick,” remember that this might be a great time to introduce your baby’s taste buds to this healthy alternative.

7. Sweet potato fries: Go easy on the salt.

8. Bananas: High in potassium, but beware — some mommies claim too many ‘nanas lead to constipation.

9. Seedless watermelon: Bright pink, sweet, delicious.

10. Carrots: Slightly overcooked and diced.

My bonus pick: Soft cereal bars, ripped into bite-size pieces. My daughter is a fan of Earth’s Best Organic cherry bars.

—By Katie Powalski,



Mrs. Meyer’s products are great for babies and fussy adults

Posted by besttech

WHAT THEY ARE: Four new products from Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day line, already known for its Baby Blossom-scented cleaning and laundry collection. This time the soft and sweet scent (which is described as “spring wildflowers, butterfly violets and honeysuckle, with a tiny bit of apple, lemon and mint”) comes in the form of baby oil, diaper balm, baby lotion, and hair and body shampoo. Each product has a suggested retail price of $9.99. For a list of stores near you that sells the Mrs. Meyer’s brand, go to

WHY WE LIKE THEM: We like the idea of organic products for babies. In addition, Mrs. Meyer’s products are not tested on animals, and the ingredients are biodegradable. The Baby Blossom scent is addictive. We don’t care if it’s supposed to be for infants; the lotion with rich shea butter feels great on our own hands, too.

—By Catherine Mallette, McClatchy Newspapers



A kid-friendly recipe for upside-down banana cake

Posted by besttech

The whole family will love the goodies made from the recipes in a lively new book called “Ready, Steady, Spaghetti” by Lucy Broadhurst (Andrews McMeel, $19.99). Your kitchen helpers will want to be part of the preparations, too, as easy instructions with step-by-step photos fill each of the kid-friendly chapters. Here’s one to get you started.


Serves 6

½ cup unsalted butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ cup whole milk

1 large banana, mashed

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

½ cup light brown sugar

1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained

Whipped cream, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease six small springform cake pans or an 8-inch springform pan.

2. Beat the butter, sugar and egg until smooth. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix well, then add the milk and mashed banana.

3. Spread the melted butter in the base of each tin, then sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Spread the crushed pineapple over the sugar. Pour the batter evenly over the top.

4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Unmold onto a plate. Serve warm with whipped cream.

—By June Naylor, McClatchy Newspapers

Visit the Star-Telegram on the World Wide Web:

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.



For the kiddos: a personalized umbrella

Posted by besttech

While we can’t promise the Scrap ‘n Stuff Umbrella will have your kids singing in the rain, we’re pretty sure it’ll keep them at least smiling — and dry — through a downpour. Our testers loved creating miniature scrapbook pages from their photos and the included supplies (colored paper, fabric, ribbons, stickers, buttons and more), then sliding the pages into the 16 interior pockets. Their moms loved the umbrella’s easy release and plastic-covered catch (no more pinched fingers). Ages 6 and up. Alex, $25

By Amy Kaldor-Bull, FamilyFun magazine


No more starving artists

Posted by besttech

Doodles at Dinner is a clever collection of 36 heavy-paper place mats featuring step-by-step drawing instructions. Create a grizzly bear by starting with two z’s, for instance, or make a meerkat out of two e’s. Whether waiting in restaurants or at their own kitchen tables, our testers found the creative drawing ideas delightful distractions. Ages 6 and up. Blue Apple Books, $10.

–By Lisa Stowe, FamilyFun magazine