Got Probugs? review + giveaway

I’m like a kid in a candy store whenever we stroll through our local health food store.  With every trip, it seems like there’s a new brand or new packaging that catches my eye—Lifeway Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir is just one example.

As the organics and natural foods market continues to surge with so many parents filling their grocery carts with healthier foods these days, products that have been around for a long time are becoming more mainstream—and for good reason.

U.S. sales of organic food and non-food products reached $24.6 billion in 2008, growing 17.1 percent over 2007 sales, despite tough economic times, according to a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

I think our family certainly contributed to that statistic, especially now that we put much more thought into what and how we eat, now that we have a kid.  Even though I’d never heard of it until the kid came along, kefir is a product that’s become a staple promic4in our home—Lifeway Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir to be more specific.  The best description I could find was from an LA Times article that describes kefir as a tangy fermented milk drink and a pro_berrycousin to yogurt.  It’s the healthy drink that has been credited with the  longevity of people in the Caucasus.  And, it seems like I’m not the only one who’s noticing kefir these days.  Kefir may have originated centuries ago, but it’s now making its way to  mainstream grocery stores.

So, what is it with kefir?

Considered a superfood by Dr. Perricone, one of Oprah’s doctor friends, kefir and other fermented and cultured foods is said to be “functional” foods—or in this case, 10 live and active cultures.  As in, probiotics.
pro_orangeYou’ve heard the buzz about probiotics, I’ve even blogged a little about it in the past; but in case you haven’t heard, probiotics are good bugs—good bacteria that help boost your immune system, among other health benefits.  But as a mom, especially with the unavoidable worries about the Swine Flu, finding a food that boosts immunity is certainly something I am always willing to add to my grocery list.

I’ll be completely honest, you can’t miss the vibrant Probugs packaging.  Resembling a modern looking juice pouch of sorts, Probugs has this awesome spout feature that helps contain leaks.  The front of the package boasts their bug character, Polly the Probug, that I’m sure most kids can appreciate.  So, on first impression, you have this cool package that’s clearly targeted to kids.

Jack drinking ProbugsSome people buy portable yogurt, we buy Probugs.  The kid sees it in the store and squeals, just like he does when he sees Elmo.  We introduced Probugs when many people introduced baby yogurt, and since then, it’s been considered a treat, when really, it’s a healthy alternative to other snacks.  Once we restock the Probugs stash, it never lasts.  The kid finishes it, almost in one slurp–he loves it that much.  The fact that the kid loves Probugs is huge, but I consider it a treat because it’s healthy, organic, helps boost immunity and aids with digestion.  Lifeway Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir is yet again, another one of those products that I continually rave about.

As much as we love this product and how cool the nozzle is, I have to say that the individual packaging was a concern because as much as possible, I try to minimize our waste.  I try to limit our juicebox purchases and other individual packaged products and opt for bulk containers.   But after reading on the back of the package about Lifeway’s social responsibility, my concerns were offset after learning that the company uses renewable energy—a truly green tactic that I think more companies should follow.

Lifeway Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir comes in  kid-friendly flavors—Orange Creamy Crawler, Sublime Slime Lime, Goo Berry Pie—and can be found in many health food stores and grocery stores including Whole Foods.  In addition to Probugs, Lifeway has a lineup of kefir, yogurt, pudding and cheese that’s ideal for everyone in the family.
pro_lime And speaking of Whole Foods, if you’re in the Chicago area be sure to check out the Whole Foods Lincoln Park Kids Weekend on June 6th and 7th.  In addition to all the kiddie activities, Polly the Probug will be hanging out.

Oh, the awesomeness doesn’t end there.  Lifeway is graciously giving one Next Kid Thing reader a fabulous giveaway—a variety bundle of Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir—one 4-pack of each flavor (that’s three, 4-packs in total!)

To win it:

Visit Lifeway and tell me what product(s) you would like to try and why.

For additional entries:

1. Tweet about this giveaway

2.  Share this product review on any social netoworking site

3. Sign up to receive my updates via email.  (If you already receive it, just let me know!)

Please add a comment for each of your entries. The giveaway ends on June 3 at 11:59 p.m.

Happy Wellness Wednesday and good luck!

*******This contest is closed ***********

Flip Flop fanatics rejoice

havaiDubbed the “World’s Best Flip Flop”, Havaianas have been a staple in Brazil for manyhavaianas-baby-brazil-sandals years, but are making their mark stateside. For a few years now, while walking in the City, I have always noticed the simple-looking rubber flip flops that boast a tiny Brazillian flag on its straps. Once I learned that they were Havaianas, I began to see them everywhere all the time!

As a flip flop fanatic, I can never have enough flip flops! Some families wear Crocs, we wear flip flops! But unfortunately, I have yet to find well made and comfortable flip flops for kids—that is, until I came across Havaianas for kids! They come in a spectrum of vibrant colors and look super comfy, making them perfect for the beach and for everyday wear. Kids and Baby Havaianas can be found at various stores such as giggle and Flip Flop Style for Kids!

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While we’re talking about Havaianas, moms and dads, this is for you: I thought I’d mention that the Gap is stocking them as well! Gap stores nationwide will begin carrying select Havaianas styles and colors for women and men through August, with select stores carrying Havaianas year-round. As a way to usher in summer, from now until June, the Gap will have a concept called the Urban Beach Flip-Flop Shop on 54th and 5th Ave in NY. Fellow flip flop fanatics will have a chance to customize a pair or two of their own Havaianas at the Make Your Own Havaianas customization bar.  Hello, summer!  Hello, flip flop season!

Wellness Wednesday

I’ve been so inundated lately with press releases and content ideas (which is awesome!), so in an effort to organize future NKT content and have some semblance of a comprehensive calendar of topics to cover, I will slowly but surely introduce daily topics.  Today, and hopefully more Wednesdays to follow, will be Wellness Wednesday which will include products and suggestions on promoting wellness for kids.

The “wellness” umbrella is quite large, so even though it’s still a broad topic, it should give us a chance to cover new and innovative products a little more effectively.  I’m so excited to announce another great giveaway and review, so stay tuned this afternoon!

Little Allergies Allergen Block

If you’re my pal on Facebook or Twitter, you may have already heard how we spent the entire day and night last Friday. We fulfilled my personal nightmare by spending the day at the pediatrician and later the ER due to a case of hives that spread all over the kid’s body as a result of unexplained allergies. What looked like the Chicken Pox or something similar, our poor kid was miserable and itched every single inch of his body. The doctors suggested that the kid most likely has outdoor allergies, which will need to undergo testing. Now we know!

laproductHad I not been so distracted by said allergies and subsequent visits to the pediatrician and ER, I would have had a chance to sort through the generous swag bag that I received from last week’s Mom’s Nite Out. In it, I received a box of Little Allergies Allergen Block. Little Allergies Allergen Block is a gentle, water-based gel which is applied topically. It’s drug-free, making it safe to use with other medications since there are no side effects.

Ironic or impeccable timing, I’m not sure, but I definitely can’t wait to check it out.

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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!
joystick
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.

bumkinsburpcloths

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!

Goodies
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