25 must-have parenting products for Chicago families


The National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) brought experts and parent testers together to find the best products for families. From strollers to pacifiers to gadgets, they put everything to the test. Here are 25 of the top products that NAPPA says families can't live without. These products stood out for their quality, innovation and how they make lives easier.

Visit www.NAPPAawards.com to see a complete list of winners in the Gold, Silver and Honors categories.


For the nursery

Baby Touch 2 Digital Color Video Monitor

[Pictured] Peace of mind is what parents can count on with this state-of-the-art baby monitor. Easy to install, the touch-screen monitor controls the nightlight and the camera's pan and zoom, and shows the temperature of Baby's room. Parents love the talk-back feature and the ability to add up to three additional cameras to monitor mulitple rooms and/or children. Summer Infant, $249.99, www.summerinfant.com, Birth to Kindergarten


Lullaby Earth Super Lightweight Crib & Toddler Mattress

Weighing just under 7 pounds, this eco-friendly mattress is 100 percent waterproof, fits snugly into standard-size cribs can be recycled, guilt-free! Firm to the touch, it guarantees Baby a comfy slumber. Lullaby Earth, Starting at $169, www.lullabyearth.com, Birth to Kindergarten


Monster Buddy

Snuggle time just got better with this memory foam body pillow for kids. Shaped like a friendly monster to keep fears at bay, this naptime friend has a flannel blanket tucked into a hidden pocket, and a zipper closure for easy washing. Two Hippos LLC, $65.99, www.wallbumpi.com, Preschool to Early Elementary


Pacifiers and teething rings

MAM Perfect Pacifier 0-6 Months and MAM Perfect Pacifier 6+ Months

Designed by pediatric dentists and orthodontists to reduce the risk of misaligned teeth, the MAM Perfect Pacifier is made of ultra-soft silicon and natural latex, has a thinner nipple neck and is BPA free. It comes in a microwaveable storage case that doubles as a sterilizer. MAM, $5.99, www.mambaby.com, Birth to 18 months


Green Ring

[Pictured] Made in the USA, The Green Ring is made of smooth maple wood and a soft, cornstarch bio-resin (the "new" rubber). It provides hours of teething relief for babies, and is 100-percent compostable once its useful life is over. The outer ring can be removed and sanitized in the dishwasher's top rack. BeginAgain, $11, www.beginagaintoys.com, 6 months and up


Strollers and car seats

Britax Advocate 70-G3

[Pictured] Britax takes its safety standards one step further by introducing new technology in this convertible car seat for children rear facing from five to 40 pounds and forward facing from 20 to 70 pounds. Features include integrated steel bars, an improved, tangle-free five-point harness and side-impact protectors. Britax, $379.99, www.britaxusa.com, For children from 5 to 70 pounds


The first four-wheel stroller in its line, the BOB Motion is a comfortable ride for children and a breeze to maneuver for parents. Where other strollers fall short, this one rises to the top with a one-hand quick-fold feature, spacious storage basket, a large canopy and an easy seat-recline. BOB, $349.99, www.bobgear.com, For children up to 65 pounds


Summit X3

Rugged yet practical, this third-generation stroller from Baby Jogger is one of the smoothest rides among the multi-terrain strollers. Durable, independent-suspension wheels and a hand break for total control allow for speed and easy maneuverability. The front wheel has a swivel option and the seat reclines with ease. Baby Jogger, Single: $429.99 and Double: $649.99, www.babyjogger.com, Birth to 75 pounds


Health and wellness

Baby Silk Dry Skin Rescue Extreme Care Cream

Relief is on the way with MD Moms' latest skincare product made of highly concentrated shea butter, aloe, glycerin and oat kernel extract. Designed to calm the senses and provide immediate relief to dry, itchy eczema-prone skin, the cream is clinically tested, certified hypoallergenic, paraben-free, phthalate-free and fragrance free. MD Moms, $14, www.mdmoms.com, All ages


Johnson's Baby Washcloths

[Pictured] Pre-soaped washcloths make traveling with Baby a breeze. The cloths come in two soft, durable varieties: Johnson's Baby Head-to-toe Washcloths and Johnson's Baby Bedtime Washcloths. Both have the perfect amount of soap to wash Baby from head to toe using mild ingredients that are allergy tested, dye-free, and dermatologist tested. Johnson's Baby, $4.99, www.johnsonsbaby.com, All ages


Expecting More : Sara Haley's Daily Sweat Pregnancy Program

Reebok Master Trainer and pre/post-natal fitness specialist Sara Haley helps moms-to-be stay active and fit during their pregnancies in her two-DVD set. A variety of workouts focus on strengthening the core, with modifications for each level of fitness. Sara Broihier & Associates, LLC, $39.95, www.sarahaley.com, All ages


Clothing and Accessories


[Pictured] Adorable, breathable cotton mesh leg warmers pull double duty by padding knees of crawlers and repelling mosquitoes, fleas, ants, ticks, and other insects with Insect Shield, which is approved by the EPA and will last through 70 washings. Older kids can wear them as arm warmers under short-sleeved shirts. BabyLegs, $12, www.babylegs.com, Birth to Early Elementary


Emily Press Preschool Shoe Labels

Foster your todder's independence with these matching shoe labels that teach left and right and hone matching skills. Great for summer camp, dance class, play dates or whenever shoes get tossed together. Designs are adorable and the durable adhesive is waterproof. Emily Press Labels, $10.95, www.emilypress.com, Toddlers to Kindergarten


Luna Star Shining Stars and Pixie Fairies Natural Play Makeup Kits

No need to guard your expensive makeup when your daughter has her own! And these 100 percent mineral make-up products are free of toxins. Choose from a variety of themed play kits including Princess Fairy, Fancy Fairy, Sparkle Fairy and Soccer Star. Kits include eye shadow, blush and lip balm. Deluxe sets include an additional lip balm and two peelable nail polishes. Luna Star Naturals, $19.99 for small kits, $29.99 for deluxe kits, www.lunastarnaturals.com, Preschool and up


Toys and Gadgets

KidzControl Volume Limit Headphones for Kids

[Pictured] These adult-quality headphones in a child-friendly design are easy to use for children, and the volume-control feature gives parents peace of mind. Given the popularity of children's electronic devices, this product is a must-have. Kidz Gear, $19.99, www.gearforkidz.com, Toddlers to teens


Twilight Carz

Toy by day, sleep aid by night, this speedy race car with fully functioning wheels projects stars and lightning bolts onto the ceiling for a calming night's sleep. It automatically shuts off after 45 minutes. Cloud b, $28, www.cloudb.com, Fun for the entire family


Brain games

Brain Quest: My First, for Threes and Pre-School

[Pictured] The folks at Brain Quest have hit it out of the park again with their lastest curriculum-based question-and-answer games that involve interaction, communication and quick thinking. Three new versions for the younger set: Brain Quest: My First, Brain Quest for Threes, and Brain Quest: Pre-School. Workman Publishing, $11.95, www.workman.com, Ages 3-4 years


Brain Beats

This addictive mnemonic CD features 12 brilliantly catchy songs to help kids memorize the state capitals, the Presidents, the Bill of Rights, and more! Play it in the car or crank it up at home. Before you know it, you and your kids will be belting out everything from the first 84 digits of Pi to how to say "hello," "goodbye" and "thank you" in multiple languages. Marbles: The Brain Store, $13.99, www.marblesthebrainstore.com, Early Elementary and up


Family science experiments

Solar Walk - 3D Solar System Model for iPhone and iPad

[Pictured] "Reach for the stars" takes on a different meaning with this fun astronomy app from Vito Technology, which is educational, entertaining and boasts 3D graphics that are out of this world. Also available is Star Walk, an app that helps you locate and identify more than 20,000 objects in the night sky. Vito Technology, Inc., $0.99, www.vitotechnology.com, Fun for the entire family


Recycled Robots by Robert Malone

Families can create 10 moving robots with supplies provided in the kit or household items. They encourage family together-time, inspire creativity and introduce children to the science of inventing, designing, and engineering. Workman Publishing, $26.95, www.workman.com, Early Elementary and up


Raising teens and tweens

Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear, by Carrie Goldman

[Pictured] Mom and author Carrie Goldman takes on the topical subject of bullying in this relatable, easy read that offers practical advice on helping your child respond to "bullies" and discussion of how we as a society can combat this problem online and off. HarperCollins Publishers, $25.99, www.carriegoldmanauthor.com, Tweens and teens



It's never too early to plan ahead. Teenlife.com is an invaluable online resource for parents, educators and college-bound students in grades seven though 12 looking for summer programs, community service opportunities and academic experiences to enrich their lives. TeenLife Media LLC., free, www.teenlife.com, All ages


Survival Guides

Survival Mom, by Lisa Bedford

[Pictured] This book will take you step-by-step through preparation for everything from small inconveniences like a few days without power to full-blown emergencies. Everything you need to know to care for your family during a crisis. HarperCollins Publishers, $19.99, www.harpercollins.com, All ages


Surviving Infancy - A Parent's Video Guide to Infant and Toddler Safety, Routine Illnesses, Emergencies & More!

This comprehensive two-DVD set features pediatric ER doctors addressing infant and toddler safety, routine illnesses, immunizations, common parenting challenges and pediatric emergencies. The set includes instruction in choking first aid and CPR, and makes a great gift for new parents, grandparents and caregivers. Surviving Infancy, $19.95, www.survivinginfancy.com, Birth to 3 years


Surviving Your Adolescents: How to Manage and Let Go Of Your 13-18 Year Olds, by Thomas W Phelan, Ph.D.

An easy, humourous read tackling myriad teen topics, including teen risk-taking, problems you can let go of, how your relationship affects your teen's safety, how to manage "The Snub," and what makes a "normal" adolescent. 3e/ Parent Magic Inc., $14.95 , www.123Magic.com, Tweens and teens


Meet the judges

Kathy Arnos is the creator and producer of the Whole Children, Whole Planet Expo, the first natural parenting and family expo to introduce people to the benefits of natural products, organic food, natural medicine and enrichment learning programs. Arnos is a freelance health and environmental writer and has authored two books, "Bach Flowers for Children" and "The Complete Teething Guide - From Birth to Adolescence."

Donald Gallo, Ph.D., ABPP is a board certified clinical psychologist with a private practice in Woodland Hills. He has worked as an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostician for Kaiser Permanente for the past 10 years, and is the author of "Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Lifespan Perspective." Visit him online at www.thedoctorsgallo.com.

JJ Levenstein, MD, FAAP recently retired from her thriving pediatric practice in Southern California. She continues as a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and serves on the clinical staff of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. She was voted one of the Best Doctors in America 2004 through 2012, is president and co-founder of MD Moms and is an active member of charity boards, advisor for several websites, and an active speaker and writer.

Penni Seller, Psy.D., L.M.F.T is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has been working with children and families for more than 27 years. She is the creator of a social skills program that is currently being implemented at several schools, has a private counseling practice and makes house calls to help families deal with parenting issues in the home and school environment. Visit her online at www.drpenniseller.com .

Linda Rowley Thom, M.Ed. is the Elementary Special Education Director for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) and oversees programs for students from birth through fifth grade. Prior to becoming a special educator, she taught kindergarten, first and second grades.


Want what you see?

Loving these family friendly products? Enter for your chance to win some of them. Visit NAPPA's Facebook page for more information and to submit your entries.


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