Step2 introduces new outdoor toys

Despite yet another gray day here, I’m loving all the exciting ideas and new toys for outdoor play. Step2, one of my favorite toy brands for durable outdoor gear, has rolled out some fun new outdoor toys including, the Sand & Water Transportation Station, the Nature Station Playhouse, Arctic Splash and Water Rush Quarry.

Arctic Splash

This is water table that features a mountain, complete with ice slide, tunnel and dumping bucket. It also includes some fun toys–a polar bear, walrus and penguin squirt toys.

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Sand & Water Transportation Station

This set combines toddlers’ favorites—the fun of a train table and water table. The table has two compartments for both sand and water and features funnels atop table legs that double as loading stations, and comes with a toy train and rake.

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Water Rush Quarry

This multi-level toy is an extreme sandbox that combines the fun of a construction site–it can even have water flow from top to bottom. It includes one crane, two bridges, a tunnel, a dam, a ramp, a bucket, a shovel and two construction vehicles.

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Nature Sation Playhouse

This nature-themed playhouse features a shelf for examining flowers, bugs or other outdoor treasures. Step2 helps kids become one with nature with the included shovel, bug collector, butterfly net, lantern, microscope with two slides, tweezers, bug trap shovel, binoculars and pivoting periscope.

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Retro Tees from Sandbox Threads

With temps hoovering in the high 80s today, I can’t help but look around for some summer duds for the boy.  We’re your typical t-shirt, shorts and flip flops kind of family in terms of summer attire.  We have several t-shirts with catchy sayings and ones with our favorite surf shops logos, but I always love a few retro tees thrown in the mix.  So, when I came across this expansive collection of cool logos, I was immediately drawn to Sandbox Thread’s Joystick design.  How appropriate!
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Sandbox Threads specializes in original toddler t-shirts and baby onesies, and also offers organic options, as well as a variety of big kid and adult sizes, too.  Sinceimg_9812 Sandbox Threads is literally a pop operation, each shirt is unique and handmade.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Whether you’re on the market for a funky shirt or retro cool onesie for your babe or as a gift, be sure to check out Sandbox Threads’ spectrum of cool designs.

If you’re not into geeky retro like me, how about some Lloyd Dobler or Molly love?

Bumkins Natural Collection

Last week, I talked a bit about the significance of organic cotton, and how the softness and natural aspects make them so great for baby and kid products. Perhaps some of my favorite baby staples that we still use on a day-to-day basis are our Bumkins organic burpcloths, bibs and washtowels. In the abundance of bibs, towels and other baby textiles that we own, the organic terry bibs and cloths, with their pastel-colored satin and cotton trim on this collection make the Bumkin products quite distinctive.

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The quality of Bumkin products, in general, have always stood out to me; however, among all of our other baby textiles, the Organic Collection truly stand out because of the soft and plush feel.  I try to stay away from loud patterns, especially when the boy was an infant.  It always seemed like most bibs were mini-billboards with their cute sayings and characters, so I loved the neutral color of Bumkins bibs, particularly the chin bibs which look like a collar/halfbib.  The were small, but did the trick for mealtimes when we were dressed up or out and about.  Soft and functional, all the bibs and burpcloths are thick enough to absorb whatever comes our way. The bibs feature a velcro closure that can withstand even the strongest bib-resistant babe.

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From gentle newborn spongebaths to toddler repurposing—even after digging in the dirt at the park—the washcloths continue to serve us well at bathtime and for general cleanups.  Because of their natural color and distinctive feel, it never fails, I instinctively pull the Bumkin Organics before any of our other washcloth.  The Bumkin burpcloths (which we’ve repourposed as small towels) and washcloths are definitely a mainstay in our kiddie arsenal.

In addition to various other great kiddie products, Bumkin has a penchant for gorgeous packaging, so be sure to check out their giftsets if you’re on the market for baby gifts!

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And just for Next Kid Thing readers, just enter Nextkid09 for free shipping with any $50.00 order.  The coupon expires 4/30/09 and applies to ground shipping only.

BornFree unveils Eco-Friendly recyclable bottles

BornFree products just got a little greener:  the company now offers a new line of Eco-Friendly Recyclable bottles.  Back in December, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel of moms to weigh in on one of the brands that I consider synonymous with eco-friendliness and BPA-free baby products.

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BornFree gained popularity in the mom community just a few short years ago as the research and BPA findings in baby bottles picture-1became more rampant.  As with any tried and true product, I saw moms in my circle of friends and family spread the word about BornFree and soon, many families replaced their existing bottles with BornFree products.

So, what exactly is the Eco-Friendly bottle?  Essentially, the Eco-Friendly Recyclable bottle is the same as the original bottle, but in addition to being Pthalate, PVC and BPA-free, the bottles can be recycled when you no longer have use for them.  When you’re done with the bottles, you can just send them back to BornFree for recycling into their other products lines. Ingenious!

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Why choose organic cotton for babies and kids?

Of all the materials out there, organic cotton has to be one of my favorites.  On laundry day, in a sea of freshly laundered t-shirts, without even looking, I know exactly when I’ve pulled out my favorite organic cotton Quicksilver t-shirt to be folded—there’s that much difference in softness!  But besides the super soft texture, many companies and manufacturers are adding and increasing organic cotton options to their existing lines. In some cases, new companies are emerging altogether because of this trend that’s here to stay.

cottonSo, what’s with organic cotton anyway?  What makes it so special and oh so soft?
Organic cotton is the version of its conventional counterpart grown without pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers or any other chemicals, making it an ideal textile for baby and children’s products.  Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically-dependent crops, sucking up 10 percent of all agricultural chemicals and 25 percent of insecticides on 3 percent of our arable land; that’s more than any other crop per unit. That adds up to 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to produce enough cotton for a t-shirt, and 3/4 of a pound for a pair of jeans.  Organic cotton on the other hand, uses agricultural methods designed to help sustain the land it grows on, the people who grow and harvest it, and the planet in general.  (via Treehugger)

Once again, like with other greener alternatives, organic cotton products tend to cost a bit more—for now.  As the demand for organic cotton products continue to increase–and organic products in general–prices will begin to balance out.  In 2006, organic fiber linens and clothing sales in the United States grew by 26 percent over the previous year, to reach $203 million, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2007 Manufacturer Survey.

Because of its healthier composition and sustainable aspects, organic cotton is a great option for baby and kids’ products.  It certainly helps that organic cotton goodies are super soft and always hard to pass up.

To read more about organic cotton and its benefits check out these resources
Gaim on organic cotton
Cleaner cotton
The difference of organic cotton
The case for organic cotton
Organic cotton fact sheet

Huggies introduces Pure & Natural Diapers

Huggies is joining the ranks of natural choices for disposable diapers with the launch of Huggies Pure & Natural diapers.  The new diapers are described as a super premium diaper that includes natural, organic materials and ingredients that also take initial steps toward environmental improvements.

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The new Huggies Pure & Natural diaper is hypoallergenic, latex and fragrance free and features a breathable outer cover that includes organic cotton. The liner includes natural Aloe & Vitamin E and materials from renewable sources, and the product’s outer packaging is sourced from 20 percent post-consumer recycled materials. The new diaper will be offered in 6 sizes, from newborn through size 5.
Huggies Pure & Natural diapers will be available later in April.

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Check out Huggies Pure and Natural and don’t forget to get a free sample.

If you try and/or use Huggies Pure and Natural, be sure to come back to let us know how you liked them!

Happy Earth Week!

loveyourearthAs Earth Day approaches this Wednesday, The Next Kid Thing will be focusing on green kid topics all week. When Earth Day began 39 years ago, times were much different, but the environmental movement as we know just started to gain momentum. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. Today, Earth Day is celebrated worldwide.
As the Earth Day celebrations continue to grow, as does the environmental awareness. It might be easy being green one day a year, but 365 days of green-living make much more of an impact. What’s even more important is fostering our kids at an early age to be more socially responsible. Stay tuned for lots of ideas on how kids can help protect Mother Earth and ways to go green too!

(photo via mlumograph17)

Spotlight: Regal Lager, gr8x, Diaper Dékor

Regal Lager is a distributor of great baby and children’s products, many that we all know and love. The Georgia-based family run company distributes brands that offer practical, stylish, well-designed, and safe products, including Diaper Dékor, gr8x and Lascal Buggy Boards, among others.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend the Big City Mom’s Biggest Baby Shower event. Clearly, I’m not pregnant, but instead, I went for this baby, this new blog here. I have never seen so many pregnant women together in one location, but better yet, it was the biggest collection of awesome baby and kid gear. It was total chaos, what with wall to wall shopping fanatics, enthusiastic city moms, food and mocktails. But, it was pretty cool to learn about so many new products, including those from Regal Lager. Coming home with bags of swag isn’t too bad either (much of which I’m giving away here on NKT!)

But one of the few items that I’m keeping deserves a review: the gr8x messenger diaper bag . You see the same brand of diaper bags hung on strollers around here, but the gr8x messenger bag diaper bag is one that I’d never seen or even heard about.

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On first impression, I knew this bag was meant to be mine—it was black, durable vinyl, didn’t look too diaper bag-ish and had pockets galore. I mean, all the pockets and compartments a girl could ever want. In one of those many pockets, on the side, we discovered an insulated bottle pocket, or in our case, sippy cup holder. In addition to all the handy dandy pockets, we found that it included a waterproof changing pad in its own pouch. It also has its own adorable detachable pacifier pouch. gr8x didn’t miss a beat on this one!
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SafeSippy, how do I love thee? review+giveaway

Have you ever bought a product that you and your kid love so much that you can’t stop telling others about it?  Yeah, me too.  And that’s part of the reason why I felt so compelled to start this blog.  Times have changed; we moms and dads are heavily influenced by each other more than ever.  This sippy cup is my prime example…

In the fall, as Jack transitioned to a cup full time, I was in search of a sippy cup that was durable and an alternative to plastic.  We’d been using a great BPA-free plastic sippy cup, but after several weeks of usage, I noticed the wear and tear.  At the baby store, amidst the wall of plastic cups, I set sight on this gleaming stainless steel sippy cup.  Hello, SafeSippy!  Modern looking, clean design and practical–my first impression was, this sippy cup completely met our needs.

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Apart from its aesthetics, this cup, inside and out, is well-designed.  It features a narrow spout, a contrast to many other sippy cups’ flat drink spouts.  Research has shown that wide, flat drink spouts can cause developmental and speech problems in young mouths.  The cup boasts a removable handle that can be removed once your kid can grasp the cup.  My kid, though old enough to hold a sippy cup without handles, likes this specific cup’s handle, which makes it better to “crank” and chug.  Don’t ask…
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