2009 NAPPA Parenting Resources Awards
We cheer winners conceived and developed by moms in the trenches. We applaud how technology has raised the bar on car seat safety and easy installation, stroller navigation and portability and baby monitors. And in this year’s NAPPA Parenting Resources Awards, we note how the pendulum has swung from products that promote "super-smart kids" to tools that enhance family harmony and promote healthy emotional development.
Here are the top picks from NAPPA judges and family testers.
Note: While all of these NAPPA-winning products have been judged to be safe and well-constructed, we do not warrant their safety or appropriateness for your child and we are not liable for any injuries that may result.
Pregnancy & Birth
My Brest Friend Deluxe
Zenoff Products Inc.; $41-$45;
This wearable nursing pillow encircles a breastfeeding mom with a narrow band of cushioning and support at her back. The band widens to a comfy, secure surface along the front to facilitate baby’s latching on. An adjustable, silent-release belt secures the fit around mom’s waist; a side pocket keeps sundries within easy reach.
Best Shower Gift
Pregnancy, Childbirth, & the Newborn: The Complete Guide (Medically Updated)
By Penny Simkin, PT, Janet Whalley, RN, BSN, Ann Keppler, RN, MN, Janelle Durham, MSW, ICCE, LCCE, and April Bolding, PT, DPT, CD, CCE; Meadowbrook Press, 2008; $15.
Our testers loved this book’s positive, thorough approach to preparing new parents for their birth experience. It offers alternatives and empowers parents-to-be to make decisions based on accurate, balanced research and personal choice.
Just for fun
Sleep is for the Weak: The best of the mommybloggers, including Amalah, Finslippy, Fussy, Woulda Shoulda Coulda, Mom-101, and More!
Edited by Rita Arens; foreword by Stacy Morrison, editor of Redbook; Chicago Review Press, 2008; $11.95.
While many of these short essays from popular mommy blogs are outrageous, they’re also sweet, poignant, funny and, most of all, authentic. They touch moms with solace, laughter and tears born from a wide range of viewpoints and shared experiences.
Preschoolers and up
The Siblings’ Busy Book: 200 Fun Activities for Kids of Different Ages
By Lisa Hanson and Heather Kempskie; Meadowbrook Press, 2008; $9.95.
Ever wonder how to simultaneously engage two, three or more children of different ages without cloning yourself? This book offers slews of imaginative activities that really work.
Safety 1st Little Men Working Potty
Dorel Juvenile Group USA; $34.99; http://www.djgusa.com/.
The Little Men Working Potty makes potty training fun for little boys. Shaped like a truck, it encourages boys to use the potty and rewards them with truck sounds when a deposit is made. The 3-in-1 design offers a potty seat and removable trainer seat and becomes a step stool when the lid is closed. Girl testers loved it, too.
Prince Lionheart; $49.99; http://www.princelionheart.com/.
The pride of sitting in a "big boy" or "big girl" chair accompanies this cushy, bright and portable booster seat with a raised back for secure seating and lap belt. The POD attaches to a chair with safety straps that clip both under the chair seat and behind the chair back. A wide, non-skid bottom keeps the POD solidly in its place. Six color combinations make a decorative statement.
Kids’ Top Pick
Mobi TykeLight GloMate
Mobi Inc.; $24.99; http://www.getmobi.com/.
The GloMate nightlight beams a constant blue, green or pink—or cycles through these colors—when taken off its recharging stand. The LED light is always cool to the touch and a built-in battery lets it glow for 10 hours; GloMate’s "Gentle Sleep" automatically dims and turns off the light after 15 minutes.
Baby GearTop Pick
ERGObaby Inc.; $94-$110.
Our testers and judges deem this the most comfortable carrier they’ve ever used. It’s soft, cushioned, durable, safe and—as one tester put it—"hip and cool for moms and dads!" Carry your child (infant through the toddler years) in front, along your hip or on your back.
Baby Jogger, $399.99.
Baby Jogger, a past NAPPA winner, has done it again. This versatile, hybrid stroller and jogger gets a unanimous thumbs-up for its lightweight aluminum frame, patented one-hand fold, easy steering swivel-or-lock front wheels and overall smooth ride. The padded five-point harness scores extra points from our safety judge. And the bold colors and classy styling appeals to both mom and dad testers.
Philips AVENT DECT Baby Monitor (SCD 520)
Philips AVENT; $149.99.This small, cordless baby monitor guarantees clear sound and offers a talk-back feature so you can hear and respond to your baby within a 1,000-foot range. Set and monitor room temperature from the portable parent unit’s digital display. Use the base monitor as a nightlight and to play lullabies.
Symphony—Featuring SureLatch—All-in-One Car Seat
This car seat offers what parents want most: safety, comfort, quick and secure installation and easy adjustability. The car seat fits children from 5 to 100 pounds and can be used in rear- or forward-facing positions and as a booster seat. SureLATCH Connectors easily click onto the built-in LATCH anchoring system in newer cars.
Go Mama Go Designs; starting at $99; http://www.gomamagodesigns.com/.
These mom-designed crib bumpers literally turn traditional baby bumpers on their side. Fully reversible, padded bumpers zip around the vertical bars of the crib to protect baby, while increasing airflow and reducing the risk of SIDS. The concealed, downward-pulling reversible zippers make Wonder Bumpers easy to use, remove and clean.
The Learning Calendar 2009
Fat Brain Toy Co.; $14.95; http://www.fatbraintoys.com/.
"Hang history on the wall" with this fun- and fact-filled write-on calendar. It features a historic event per day, dozens of simple activity ideas and trivia questions that make learning a fun family event.
Video Game Play and Addiction: A Guide for Parents
By Kourosh Dini, M.D.; self-published, 2008; $15.95;
How much video game time is too much? Child psychiatrist Kourosh Dini, an avid gamer himself, addresses this question in this thoughtful, balanced book. He explains the allure of games, describes the potential benefits of gaming and offers guidelines to assess an overuse problem.
Health and skincare
Baby Silk Babysafe Sunscreen Towelettes (SPF 30+)
MD Moms; $26 for 15 towelettes; http://www.mdmoms.com/.
Our testers concur that using sunscreen wipes is much easier than applying other forms of sunscreen to a squirming child. These towelettes smooth on easily, have a light, pleasant scent and protect children’s skin just as well as other sunscreen lotions and creams.
SunSmart Superman UV-Protective Swim & Play Wear
SunSmart Inc.; $39.95; http://www.sunsmart.ca/.
When little superheroes don SunSmart Superman and Supergirl swim/playwear with detachable towel capes, they’re off to protect our planet—and their skin from harmful UV rays. Made from 97 percent UVA/UVB-blocking fabric, SunSmart’s four-way stretch material dries quickly and keeps kids cool and comfortable. (Baby sizes have an extra zipper for easy diaper changes.)
Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation
By Jann Blackstone-Ford and Sharyl Jupe; Chicago Review Press, 2004; $16.95.
An indispensable guide to parenting after divorce. One judge brought this book home on a lark. As our judge read sections aloud to his family, everyone nodded in agreement, then they adopted the book’s suggestion to use "bonus-family" to replace the emotionally loaded word "step."
What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child—and All the Best Times to Read Them
By Pam Allyn; Avery, 2009; $16.95.
While this book contains great lists of books, both by age and theme, it’s also a wonderful guide to reading aloud.
Early Intervention & Autism: Real-Life Questions, Real-Life Answers
By James Ball; Future Horizons Inc., 2008; $24.95.
This book covers everything a parent should know about autism as soon as it’s diagnosed. The format follows a family from medical confirmation through the stages of grief, the confusing meetings, the many options of care and the transition to public school.
"Autism Asperger’s Digest"
Future Horizons Inc.; $49.95 annual subscription;
Refuse to Say Cheese: Capture the Story and Beyond the Green Box: Understanding Your Digital Camera 2-DVD Set
Me Ra Koh Photography Inc., 2007; $29.99 individually or $49.99 set; http://www.refusetosaycheese.com/.
Prominent photographer Me Ra Koh offers great visuals and easy-to-follow exercises in her DVD series for parents, Documenting a Child’s Life. The first DVD, "Refuse to Say Cheese: Capture the Story," explains how to use photography to say more than fake smiles and stiff poses ever could. The second DVD, "Beyond the Green Box: Understanding Your Digital Camera," shows users of digital, single-lens reflex cameras how to turn off the "auto" button and use manual settings to create mood, depict action and more.
CoreGear; $75 kids, $95 adults; http://www.xip3.com/.
This smartly styled jacket transforms into a backpack or pillow with one quick zip. Now when kids get too warm at the mall or on an outing, they can remove this all-weather jacket, turn it inside out and zip it into a cool-looking backpack. Outer shell is water-repellent, breathable and fast-drying; lining is soft, ecoSmart fleece.