SwimToday and Dara Torres Promote Swimming as #FunnestSport

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of joining an informative media event at the Asphalt Green for SwimToday, hosted by our friends at MomTrends. SwimToday is a joint, industry effort created to promote and grow participation in the sport of swimming. The campaign is led by USA Swimming, Arena USA, Speedo USA and TYR Sport.

Dubbed the #FunnestSport, this campaign hopes to highlight the many benefits of swimming as a sport. SwimToday and MomTrends brought together influencers to listen to Ambassador and Olympic Gold Medalist, Dara Torres, and hear several swim moms share their kids’ experience as swimmers. 

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Before Dara shared her experience, I enjoyed learning some benefits of swimming as shared by SwimToday:

·       It’s closer than you think – 62 percent of families live within 10 minutes of a pool; 52 percent of households with combined income of $50,000 or less report they have access to a pool nearby

·       Everyone participates – Swimming is inclusive, there are no benchwarmers (nor benches)

·       Swimming is a team sport – Only 16 percent of non-swimming parents view swimming as a team sport but parents of swimmers associate the sport with teamwork more than any other sport

·       Suit up and go – Only a swimsuit, cap and goggles are necessary to get started

·       Life skills – Swimming increases self-confidence, self-esteem, time management, goal-setting and social development

·       Easy to learn – 76 percent of parents said the ease of learning to swim was high

·       Low risk of injuryNo contact makes for a safer environment

·       Swimming = total body fitness– Burn 650 calories in an hour – more than walking, biking or team sports

·       Sport for life – Once you learn to swim, you can enjoy no matter your age

·       Swimming is FUN – Parents confirm that swimming is the #FunnestSport

I appreciated the swim moms’ different perspectives about their children’s involvement as swimmers. For some, their kids love for swimming began as tots, for others, swimming opened brand new avenues and camaraderies. I enjoyed how the moms shared how swimming rounded out their kids altogether.

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Dara Torres shared how her career as a swimmer didn’t always go swimmingly. In fact, there was a time she said that she didn’t always come in first. Since her youth, however, she said she worked hard and never gave up. She was constantly reinventing herself and striving to do more as a swimmer. I loved listening to her speak as a swim mom and how her career has molded her outlook as a parent. She was so down to earth and well-spoken. I think we could’ve listened to her talk longer, had there not been any time restraints.

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Since we live at a lake, I’m proud to be a current swim mom. My older guy enjoys being active and participating in sports, and swimming is one of those sports that we’ve just recently added to our summer schedule.

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Unlike the contact sports that he prefers, swimming is a challenge because it’s still new to him and he’s constantly competing against himself in addition to participating as a team. As the other swim moms mentioned at the SwimToday event, swimming competitively allows the kids to develop special bonds with teammates. It gives kids a chance to challenge themselves and learn how to better themselves with every lap. At 7 years old, my guy isn’t the strongest swimmer, but I appreciate his willingness to try hard and to pull through for his team.

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I see us continuing to be a swimming family, especially now knowing that my younger guy loves the water. For someone who’s had so many challenges, being in the water seems to make him feel invincible. It didn’t take much for SwimToday to convince me that swimming is the #FunnestSport. We are pretty lucky to live by the water and are able to enjoy swimming almost every day in the summer!

To learn more about SwimToday and the #FunnestSport, be sure to check them out on Facebook. Head to SwimToday.org to find a swim club near you.


Review: Little Kids TMNT Splash Out Ball

During the summer, we can’t get enough of outdoor play.  Some days, we’re outside and in the water from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to bed.

Splash OUt Ball

On that end, outdoor toys get much play time.  We love sports, bubbles, biking and truly, anything that has to do with water.  I loved learning that Little Kids’ has a fun selection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys, but I was immediately drawn to their cool water toy, the Splash Out Ball.



Just as it sounds, the Splash Out Ball is a ball that can be used with water play.  Just fill the ball with water, either manually or by submerging, and then close the cap.  Toss the ball back and forth, like you would in a game of hot potato.  When time runs out, someone gets splashed when the chamber pops open.  



The Splash Out Ball is so easy and perfect for the pool or beach.  It’s like playing with a water balloon without the mess of balloon remnants.  A caveat of this game is that it can be hard for the younger ones to fill so that it’s full enough to pop open…and of course, when it pops open too early and all over you!

Gardening with Miracle-Gro

Just a few weeks ago, we were all uncertain if spring and summer would ever get here.  Now that the warm weather is here to stay, it’s finally time to fix up the yard and prep the garden.  Here in North Jersey, expert gardeners and lawn connoisseurs suggest that it’s best to get things going outdoors in between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.  With that start window having just passed, we’ve been busy prepping our garden.


Or should I say, we’ve been busy “trying” to get our garden started!  My green thumb is as brown as it gets…which is why I can use all the help I can get.

Miracle Gro recently came out with Groables seed pods, which are perfect for starting a garden for beginners.  Since we have all kinds of animals that like to eat my garden, I thought I’d give container gardening a whirl this year.  


For easier gardening, each seed pod contains:

  • non-GMO seed at just the right depth
  • growing materials to protect the seed and keep it moist
  • plant food to help it grow and build strong roots.

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Because of the late start to spring we’ve been having, I naturally, started my garden much later than I had hoped.  That said, thank goodness for Groables since they are guaranteed to grow.  


After filling several planters with soil, I planted my Groables, as well as a few seeds.  I made sure to give each pod room to grow in the planters, as well as water.  I placed the planters in full sunlight and in just a few weeks, I started to see my growables, well, grow!  


As mentioned, if you’re a beginner gardner or just need to take a shortcut or two, Groables are a perfect solution.  Groables come in 17 varieties, ranging from cherry tomatoes to watermelons.  You can find them at Home Depot and Amazon at $3-4 a pod or about $12 for a kit. Since I can actually grow spinach (!) I am so buying this one next:  Gro-ables Salad and Herb Garden Kit with 18 Seed Pods   I’m looking forward to creating an even bigger container garden by supplementing the pods with other seeds and starter plants.



Great Spring Toys and Gear

Spring is finally in full swing.  Even though it’s still chilly, we’re resisting the cold.  It’s pretty safe to say that we officially have spring fever.

And with spring fever, there’s plenty of fun new toys and play things to get excited about this Spring.


With that in mind, I thought I’d round up some cool new toys and products to get you excited for spring and the prospect of the kids playing outdoors until the street lights come on.








Crayola Grab & Go Games


Chalk Grab  N Go Games  Foot Hockey 

Crayola’s new Grab & Go Games is one of my favorites this seasons.  The kit includes chalk and accessories needed to play an outdoor game such as bean bag toss, foot hockey, chip shot golf and an obstacle course.  These are games we’ve been playing for years, but Crayola, as always, has the foresight to conveniently package these games for easy outdoor play. Grab & Go

Games retails for about $4.99



Tricksters Helmets

Tricksters Helmets are a line of plush helmets from the makers of Pillow Pets. TrickstersHelmets

The helmets, themselves, are the hard, protective kind that can be used for bike riding, scootering and beyond, but what makes Tricksters different is the plush exterior. 

 They can be found at www.trickstershelmets.com or at select specialty retailers.The Trickster Helmets come in five different styles: Rainbow Bear, Flower Power Cat, Lulu Leopard, Comfy Pandy and Snuggly Puppy. PTRU1 17074604enh z6

YBike GLX Pro

This 3-wheeled scooter features an adjustable handle and super-efficient foot brake.  The sleek design and compact frame set this scooter apart from other well known brands.  What I like most about this scooter is that my 2 year old can use the scooter in the handlebar’s lowest position and my oldest can glide across the street in one of the middle settings.  The YBike GLX pro is a scooter that will go and grow with the kids! A more thorough review to come!  California New Dessus copy

California Maverix

This remote controlled board takes street skating to a whole new level.  Geared to older kids and more experienced skate enthusiasts, the California model was designed to be light weight and has a variety of speed variations. Equipped with a wireless remote control the 3 positions (Beginner / Medium / Expert) and brake are all powered by a simple movement of the trigger! It has a power motor 150W and max weight 100lbs  

Brer Rabbit Golf Set

Golf Set copyBrer Rabbit Toy’s Golf Bag is a fun beginner set for wanna-be golfers.  It comes with three toy golf clubs, two tees, two holes, two numbered flags and five toy golf balls.  It’s ideal for preschoolers who are interested in putting, but not quite ready for the driving range.  It’s just hitting shelves now and retails for about $16.99 633812 toddler dome climber xalt1

Little Tikes Tunnel N Dome Climber

Little Tikes new dome-shaped climber channels play structures of yesterday.  It features various sized holes to accommodate those who need easy or challenging climbing play.  The hiding spots, too, would make for great preschool play. I love that this outdoor toy provides endless play patterns for younger kids and beyond.  The Tunnel N Dome Climber retails for $149.99 

NERF BASH BALL A4832 copyNerf N-Sports Bash Ball

Resembling a Nerf-textured O-ball, the Bash Ball has a cool hollowed Nerf foam core with grip-able holes.  The holes gives kids a better grip to pass, fling, whip or whatever!  This ball is one of our absolute favorite toys right now.  It’s been fun for both my bigger boy and my littler guy; and an absolutely ideal toy for OT and PT.  This is such a cool innovation, I’m excited to check out even more NERF N-Sports gear!   


NERF Rebelle Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow 

D603819650569047F564AD06CF256798The super popular Nerf Rebelle line is unveiling several more products to their lineup. The Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow is among the new products, and will help make target practice even easier with the red laser light that helps to pinpoint the target.  The Star Shot target set includes a crossbow, large size target and comes with 6 suction cup darts.NERF Rebelle Star Shot Target Set and Crossbow    P36353 0M 1

Gazillion Bubbles Typhon 2.0

When old fashioned bubbles just aren’t enough: you can create a gazillion bubbles instantly with the Gazillion Bubbles Typhoon 2.0.  There’s no  pump and or wait time, just massive amounts of bubbles with this fun contraption.. In fact, this bubble fountain blows more than 5,000 bubbles per minute. 


Learning to Swim as Part of the SwimWays Swim Team

SWSSBadgeFinalWith summer just a few weeks away (yay!) and just in time for National Learn to Swim Day on May 19, I’m so excited to announce that we made the SwimWays Swim Team. This is another fun ambassadorship that will allow us to give you the scoop on great kid gear.

So, this summer, both kids will be learning how to swim with SwimWays gear onhand.  The big kid will be learning with SwimWays Swim Step 3 and the babe will be floating along with Swim Step 1. The SwimWays’ Swim Step program is a three-step approach that include swim-training aids to help parents teach kids to swim at home.

Raising Water Babies

I spent endless summer days in our family’s swimming pool and then, as I got older, I lived it up at the beach.  Growing up in a beach town, my summer days were routinely spent in the water, from sunrise to sunset. So, now that I’m a parent I hope to enrich my kids’ summers with the same love for the water.

Jack karate chopping the ocean waves in Va. Beach

We live in a lake community now, so swimming at the “beach” aka our lake, fills our summer days.  Even though the Big Kid has the basics of swimming down, he doesn’t officially know how to swim yet.  That said, I cant wait to help him learn the fundamentals of swimming and how to stay safe in the water.

And now that we have the baby, the wee one can’t be forgotten.  Baby will be along for the ride on our swimming adventures, where we’ll nurture his activity in the water with Level 1 Swim Steps.


Celebrate National Learn to Swim Day

It’s going to be a fun summer, and I can’t wait for our beach days and teaching the boys how to swim with the help of SwimWays.  Speaking of which, to help usher in those summer days full of swimming, SwimWays created National Learn to Swim Day to help raise awareness about the importance of teaching kids to swim.  On that end, SwimWays is hosting the first annual National Learn to Swim Day Event at the Greenbrier Family YMCA in Chesapeake, Va from 1-3 pm. The event will not only be a grand opening of the YMCA’s outdoor pool for the summer, but it’s also a way to celebrate National Learn to Swim Day.  The event is open to members and non-members and will feature fun activities and goodies.  If you’re not in the Hampton Roads area, you can still enjoy National Learn to Swim Day by visiting a community pool or simply enrolling the kids in swim lessons!

Facts and Tips

Here are some staggering facts that SwimWays passed along:

·         According to the Red Cross, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1  to 14 years old.
·         Statistics show that children ages 1 to 4 drown most often in home swimming pools.
·         Children were often out of sight less than 5 minutes and under the care of one or both parents at the time of many home pool drownings.

For more resources on pool safety, tips and products for teaching the kids to swim, be sure to check out SwimWays’ TeachMetoSwim.com website.

Got Boo Boos? Topricin Junior is a Medicine Cabinet Staple

On any given summer day, like many families, we can be found outside running around, riding bikes, playing pirates or whatever the kid’s imagination may conjure up.  The occasional injury is all a part of growing up, and with all of this summer fun, bumps, bruises, bug bites and boo boos are often the residual effects.

When I was a kid, if it wasn’t my older brother breaking bones, it was clumsy me falling off my bike and getting bloody knees or black eyes.  It wasn’t the injury itself that was painful, but the aftercare that subjected the trauma and excruciating pain.  I have no idea if my mom used salt spray laced with battery acid to clean our wounds, but whatever it was, it hurt like crazy.

As a family that leans toward more homeopathic remedies, I was so glad to be introduced to Topricin Junior.  A Healthy Child Healthy World parent ambassador and a green mama, in general, I do my best to steer clear of harsh chemicals in the conventional medical aisle. (Tea tree oil is my go-to antiseptic) Even if products are geared to kids, I can’t help but question, are they really safe?

Topricin Junior from Topical Biomedics is a pain relief and healing cream that’s intended for injuries such as bumps, bruises, bug, bites and burns.  It is said to relieve muscle spasms, leg cramps, sprains and strains—minor injuries that are sustained from horseplay or sports activities.  Aside from the pain relief it provides to the younger set, Topricin Junior seems to do it without the use of harsh chemicals.

Topricin Junior is fragrance and paraben free, contains no mineral oil, lanolin, menthol, petroleum or other chemicals that may be too overpowering for our little daredevils’ skin.

And like most preschoolers in that “I Can Do it Myself” phase, my kid, of course, wanted to apply the cream himself.  Because of the safe composition of Topricin Junior, I had no worries about the chemicals, or that it would be harmful if he applied it himself.

Now, after the spill he took on his scooter the other day, I didn’t use the cream on the open wound.  I did, however, use the cream after his wound closed up a bit.  From what he described, the cream wasn’t painful when he applied it, and from what I saw, it seemed to do the trick.

I love that Topricin Jr. is fragrance free and doesn’t leave stains.  The cream uses some ingredients that are plant and vegetable derived, unlike most products that line the first aid aisles.  Topricin Jr. is easy to use, seemed to help with the healing process and most importantly, doesn’t contain all the harsh chemicals that, in my opinion, hurt a little more before and after they actually help.  Not only do I give Topricin Jr. a seal of approval, but so does Healthy Child Healthy World and PTPA.

While nothing can heal as “effectively” than mama’s kiss, a safer pain relief cream such as Topricin Jr. is a staple in our medicine cabinet.  Now, if only this cream could curb any unnecessary stunts or spills that make my heart beat out of my chest!

Find it

Topical Biomedics also offers Topricin and Topricin Foot Therapy Cream.  The creams can be found at many health and organic stores, as well as online.  Additionally, Topricin products are now available at Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, Whole Foods, and Wegman’s.

Full disclosure: I received product samples to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Best of Sunscreen for 2011: Tips, Ingredients and Tried and True Brands

It’s finally the unofficial kick off to summer, and I hope everyone has exciting things planned for the weekend!  Just in time for more sunny days, endless amount of outdoor play and loads of BBQs, the Environmental Working Group has released their comprehensive list of Best Sunscreens for 2011.  The list was analyzed in-house, with their findings based on health hazard, protection and overall stability of the product. Find out if your sunscreen made the cut.


NKT Faves

Many of my favorite sunscreens made the list once again, and there are also several products that I’m glad to see have new formulas, resulting in better scores.

Blue Lizard
Blue Lizard is what our family uses on a day-to-day basis around here.  With its thick consistency and trusted effectiveness, it’s no surprise the Baby Australian and Sensitive formulas made EWG’s Best of Beach and Sport Sunscreens.

TruKid is a longtime favorite for our family.  Because of its portable, gluestick size, the Sunny Days Stick is a mainstay in my bag and perfect for sending with the kid to daycare.

Kiss My Face Sun Sticks
I love most of Kiss My Face’s products, so I’m excited to see they have a kids’ stick, too.  Remember Zinc from back in the day?  Apparently, the Kiss My Face kids’ mineral sunblock stick leaves shades of blue, pink or white on easily burned spots like, ears, lips, nose and cheeks.  How 80s!

California Baby
Another parent fave, California Baby, puts out a great range of products that are often top-rated.  California Baby No Fragrance Sunscreen Lotion made the list, alongside of several other CF Baby sunscreens.  Even though I personally haven’t used this sunscreen, several of my friends swear by it, so it’s certainly on my list once we deplete our current stash.  Even better about California Baby?  This brand can be found in the baby aisle of most Targets.

Realistically, not everyone has easy access to these safer brands.  In fact, you’ll probably be hard-pressed to find many of the brands listed in EWG’s Top Beach and Sport Sunscreens at your local drugstore.  Don’t have time to order online at Diapers.com or run to a natural food store to pick up one of the safer sunscreens?  Here are a few brands that can be found at most grocery or drugstores and received moderate scores:
Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

What Does Practically Green recommend?

At the recent Mommybites Summit that I attended last week, I sat in on a wonderful discussion led by green expert, Susan Hunt Stevens of Practically Green.  She mentioned that California Baby and Badger are two popular, safer sunscreen picks for kids.  Both brands are well-rated on EWG’s sunscreen list as well.  Hunt Stevens also pointed out that she has yet to find a safer aerosol spray sunscreen, so in general, she advised to stick to the old school lotions. Trust me, I love the convenience of those sprays, but if there’s an option that contains less chemicals, (the same chemicals which are often linked to health issues and hormone disruptors) why not opt for the safer option versus the convenient option?

Safer ingredients

For safer sunscreens, EWG recommends to look for products that include these ingredients:
Titanium dioxide
Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX

and avoid these ingredients:
Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate)
Added insect repellent

Check out EWG’s sunscreens to avoid.

Tips for Sunscreen

Obviously we all know “how” to use sunscreen, but do you really know how to use it effectively?  Growing up in a beach town, I literally spent my summer days—from dusk to dawn on the beach or at the pool—but, I barely ever used sunscreen.  I have to admit, when I became a parent, proper sunscreen usage was an anomaly, so I had to learn how to use sunscreen for the sake of my fair-skinned babe.  Goodness knows, my husband needed some tips himself!  So, here are just a few pointers courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatolgy and EWG.

  • Sunscreens expire.  Be sure to check your expiration dates when dusting off last year’s stash. You can use the sunscreen that you bought last Beach Umbrellasummer, but keep in mind that if you are using the appropriate amount, a bottle of sunscreen should not last very long.
  • Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. When using sunscreen, be sure to apply it to all exposed areas and pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands, and arms.
  • One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. Don’t forget that lips get sunburned, too, so apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Sunscreens should be reapplied approximately every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. Even so-called “water-resistant” sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 40 minutes in the water. Sunscreens rub off as well as wash off, so if you’ve towel-dried, reapply sunscreen for continued protection.
  • There are a number of combination cosmetic products, such as moisturizers that contain sunscreen, but it is important to remember that these products also need to be reapplied to achieve continued UV protection.
  • Pick the SPF appropriate for your skin type and solar exposure. But remember that UVA protection in U.S. sunscreens maxes out at about 15, so higher SPF products will not fully protect your skin from sun damage. The American Cancer Society recommends that people use a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15, the American Academy of Dermatology opts for 30.

Have a safe weekend, everyone!

Photo credits: Fullofgrace and Paddyduke

Gardening Goodies for Kids

Spring is finally in full bloom, and I couldn’t be more excited to see the trees, plants and flowers come back to life.  And hello, meet my new garden that the kid helped me grow, of course!

Along with the changes in scenery, I love that Spring also brings lots of new and interesting toys.  Last week, we were treated with a glimpse of some of the season’s latest and greatest at Time To Play’s Spring and Summer Showcase, and I love that good ol’ fashion outdoor play remains a trend.

A few companies are honing in on kids’ ongoing affection for gardening and getting their hands dirty. Afterall, gardening with kids isn’t just a great lesson in a plant’s lifecycle and nourishment, but it’s also a rewarding and engaging experience for parents and kids.  Gardening is a great way to get kids and parents to disconnect, and in the end, it gives them a sense of achievement.

In general, you don’t need much to garden, other than some seeds, dirt and gardening tools, but check out these great goodies geared to make gardening even more fun for kids.

Miracle-Gro Kids

Miracle-Gro Kits from Peachtree Toys is a new line of gardening kits for kids.  With starter kits like the 3-n-1 Gardening Set, Terrarium and the Mini Greenhouse, among others, where kids can grow their own flowers or veggies with the Miracle-Gro Gro Mix.  We’re typically organic and old school when it comes to gardening, so I’m a bit apprehensive about the fertilizers involved in Miracle-Gro.  Nevertheless, I do appreciate the nifty kits in this line of gardening sets from Miracle-Gro Kids.


Growums are one of my favorite gardening kits for kids, yet.  This new line of gardening kits includes six different sets: an Herb Garden, Pizza Garden, Salad Garden, Stir Fry Garden, Taco Garden and Ratatouille Garden that include coco or peat pellets that make these sets a bit more kid-friendly.  Kids add water to the pellets and put them in a shallow dish.  Once the peats are expanded, they add seeds and put the dish in the sun and wait for the seedlings to grow.  And from there, the kids can plant their herbs and veggies in their garden.  But what makes Growums so unique is the online element that engages kids by giving them tips and info from quirky characters like Elvis Parsley. (haha!) I love these sets, and can’t wait to see more from the Growums.

Buddy B Children’s Gardening Tools

Kid’s gardening tools are all over the home improvement stores, but if your kids are going to be doing some serious digging, much like mine does, I can’t speak highly enough about Buddy B Children’s Gardening Tools.  These tools are scaled down replicas of the “real thing,” and they work so much better than the plastic kiddie versions you see everywhere.  We have the hand trowel and kid’s shovel and I have to say, I probably use both of these tools as often as the kid himself.  These tools come in handy and they’re great quality.


Burpee gardening products are staples for many beginning and/or experienced gardener.  The biodegradable seedling cups are great for kids, but I’m also a fan of their great selection of organic seeds and other gardening supplies.  It’s my first season gardening on my own, and I’ve had great luck with the flowers so far and we’re crossing fingers on the the vegetables!

Goodies and Gear: Opening Day

Citi FieldIt’s that time of year again; it’s Opening Day, a day that celebrates the Boys’ of Summer’s reemergence from the offseason and time to play ball again. If your family is anything like ours, reality and kiddie shows are happily swapped for 6 months of  America’s Pastime streaming on the tv—that is, when we’re not outside enjoying the outdoors ourselves.

With snow in our forecast, it may not be the most ideal weather for this time of year, but that’s not to say we can’t celebrate Spring and Opening Day with some of the latest and greatest in baseball fun for the kids.

This morning, while I was reading the news online, I was pretty disappointed to read about the decline in kids playing baseball over on WSJ.  To be quite honest, despite what the studies show, you’d never know there was a decline from the plethora of great toys and gear that are aimed to share the love of the game.

Here are just a few of my baseball picks in honor of Opening Day:

Melissa and Doug All Star Sports Fill and Spill

Baby can’t throw or catch quite yet, but Melissa and Doug’s All Star Sports Fill and Spill helps to familiarize tiny fingers with ball shapes.  Each of the four balls rattle, jingle or crinkle and are suitable for 6 months and up.

Grand Slam Baseball from Step 2

Spotted at Toy Fair last month, Step 2’s Grand Slam Baseball is an electronic auto-pitch machine that encourages hand-eye coordination, not to mention, promotes outdoor play. Geared to the smaller baseball fans, Grand Slam Baseball gets kids fielding balls and a chance to work on their swing.

EA Sweet Spot Baseball Bat

For the bigger kids, EA’s Sweet Spot Bat incorporates a little crowd cheer every time the batter hits or holds the ball in that sweet spot.  Ideal for beginners, it features a soft bat, and helps the rookies to refine their accuracy and hand-eye coordination.

SKLZ Sweet Spot Youth Training Bat

Beyond the tee-ball phase, SKLZ makes the top-rated Sweet Spot Youth Training Bat.  The training bat features an all-wood barrel and handle, as well as a fiberglass rod, and provides instant feedback and “stings” if hit too far off.
Looking for training tools for entry-level players? SKLZ Hit-A-Way Jr. is something that I’m going to check out for batting practice and hand-eye coordination for our not-quite Tee Ball-aged little guy.

Sports Illustrated Kids: All Access

And to better understand and appreciate America’s Pastime, Sports Illustrated Kids has a new book that delves into the inner sanctum of baseball.  Sports Illustrated Kids: All Access grants readers a behind-the-scenes look into cool findings, including favorite stadiums, the story behind the Green Monster and something that I want to know more about: Lousisville Slugger’s journey from big trees to the big leagues.

Go Mets!

And Speaking of behind the scenes look at baseball, did you miss our family’s adventure at Citi Field last season?  If you’ve been reading NKT for awhile now, you must already know that we’re Mets fans–in good times and in bad.

It’s always been my husband’s dream to sit in our beloved Mets’ Clubhouse, and thanks to a fun media invite, we had the chance to learn more about the Mets’ new stadium.  Be sure to see where our exclusive behind the scenes tour took us at our beloved (and sometimes beleaguered) Mets’ CitiField.

Citi Field Tour

Hooray for a new season!  And yes, even for us Mets fans, it’s a brand new ball game!

Gift Glossary: Outdoor Toys

First up on the Gift Glossary includes my round up of some of the most innovative outdoor toys from the year.  Scooters and caster boards continue to gain popularity in this section, which is exactly why I included quite a few in our list.  Other notable goodies include fun toys that have the potential to get a lot of play time outside from kids of all ages.

Whiplash Scooter

The Whiplash was one of the most notable scooters I saw this year.  First spotted at Toy Fair in February (maybe you remember the video I posted over on FB?),

this scooter combined elements of a caster board and scooter, making it a versatile vehicle choice with a lot of twists and turns. It boasts speed and swift maneuverability, but for those with skill, the Whiplash can turn heads.

Pulse Slither

The Pulse Slither, unlike other scooters, has the capability to drift.  Like its name implies, the scooter’s back end can drift in such a way that it slithers.

When first learning the Slither’s nuances, we found that the maneuverability, isn’t as smooth, but once riders got the hang of it, it’s fun to slide and drift around. Check out one of our kid reviewers take the Pulse Slither for a ride.

Zipfy Mini Luge

It’s snow season for many parts of the U.S. already, but I first caught eye of the Zipfy Mini Luge at the Discovery Store’s Holiday Preview this summer.

The Zipfy, which comes in a variety of bold colors, might be small in size, but its design puts speed on its side.  The feet first design of the Zipfy, which gives kids an easier handle to break with their feet, was one of my favorite aspects of the mini luge, which is sure to be a staple for kids and parents alike.  As with all outdoor sports like sledding, helmets and proper safety gear is highly recommended.

Little Nutty Helmets

With all these fun outdoor toys that made the list, how could I not include some stylish safety gear?  Little Nutty from Nutcase Helmets are among my favorite, eye-catching helmets for kids.

All Little Nutty helmets comply with US CPSC Bicycle Helmet Safety Standards for persons age 5 and older. Who says you can’t be safe and stylish at the same time?


Ybike is a new, 3-wheel balance bike that combines the basics of riding a bike–minus the pedals.

Preschoolers can scoot, navigate and “ride” on their own, which makes the Ybike a fun way to learn and implement balance.  Made of a durable plastic that can seemingly take a beating from little learners, the Ybike comes in a spectrum of vibrant colors.  Low to the ground, easy maneuverability and a sleek design make this balance bike an instant favorite for the preschool set.

Full disclosure: select samples were provided for editorial review.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.