Rocking Out with the Julius Jr. Rock ‘n Playhouse

When it comes to music, we love to rock out every chance we get.  We recently had the chance to check out one of Fisher Price’s latest toys, Julius Jr.’s Rock ‘n Playhouse.

 

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When Julius Jr. uses his imagination and creativity to create a playhouse with a cardboard box, awesome things happen.  Though our kids can create their own awesome on their own with regular ol’ boxes, this Julius Jr. Rock ’n Playhouse is a great playset for toddlers and preschoolers.  The Playhouse is a recreation of what can be seen on Julius Jr., including a spaceship, skateramp, disco ball and slide.  What makes the Rock ’n Playhouse so great is the catchy music and Julius Jr. figures and accessories.

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My little guy absolutely loves pushing the dance floor and watching it light up and play music.  He loves to sing and dance, so the musical dance floor is, perhaps, our favorite feature.  The cool skate ramp though?  That comes in close second.  You can’t go wrong with a playset that has a dance floor, skateramp and monkey that rocks out!

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The Julius Jr. Rock ’n Playhouse is available at major retailers and retails for $49.99.  Julius Jr. is on Nick Jr. at 5pm Monday-Friday and Sundays from 10-11am!

Full disclosure:  A sample was provided to facilitate this review and as a part of the Saban Brandbassador program.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Top Tommee Tippee Favorites

If you’re anything like us, when we find a brand we love and trust, we stick with them…and that, of course, includes baby gear.  After having two babes, and reviewing hundreds of products through the years, I’m more brand-loyal than ever.

One brand, in particular, that I love and trust for my two guys is Tommee Tippee. Tommee Tippee, known for their baby gear and toddler feeding accessories, have a wide range of products that grow with your family.  In fact, we were quite smitten with this UK brand from the very start!  In 2009 when Tommee Tippee launched in the US, I attended a very cool blogger event, where I was intimately introduced to every single product that was going to be available stateside.

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Five years later, the brand has solidified their name as a baby gear staple in American homes.  As a mama who has used this brand loyally over the years, I’m thrilled to be a part of their Tommee Mommee blogger initiative. 

In honor of this, I thought I’d share just some of my favorite Tommee Tippee favorites, many of which we use daily.

 

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 1.  Explora Truly Spill-Proof Drinking Cups in 3-Ring Circus

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This limited edition design of Tommee Tippee’s drinking cup features whimsical graphics of animals doing their thing in the circus.  The modern flair of these graphics give these convenient cups a fresh appeal for parents and toddlers.  These are definitely my favorite sippy cups because they’re easy to clean, spill proof, but especially because they don’t utilize that spout that so many cups have.  These cups are a great transition for kids who are almost ready for open cups.  These cups are exclusive to BRU.

 

 

 

2.  Easi-Roll Bibs

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When it comes to eating, these bibs are my best friends.  Of all the silicone bibs out there, these suit our needs the best.  They’re colorful, soft and rollable, which makes them easy to transport in a diaper bag.  After my wanna-be independent toddler feeds himself yogurt for lunch, I love throwing these in the dishwasher.  If you’ve seen my Vine or Instagram stream of Small’s sleep-eating videos, perhaps you’ve spotted cameos of the Tommee Tippee Easi-Roll Bibs!

 

 

 

 3. Easy Scoop Feeding Bowls with Lids and Spoons

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Bowls with attachable spoons: seriously, Tommee Tippee thinks of everything.  What makes these bowls so great is that if you start a meal and need to dash ff to big brother’s practice, you can literally eat on the go.  I appreciate the convenience of this set and how you can keep things compartmentalized and hygienic, all while transporting.  Genius!

 

 

 4.  Travel Bottle and Food Warmer

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For a family that takes frequent road trips, the Travel Bottle and Food Warmer was our saving grace during the infancy stage. When the Smalls was nursing, it was so convenient being able to warm a bottle with the warmer and not having to plug anything in.  The stainless steel container kept hot water hot, taking a page out of the old school Thermos method.  Even better, I was able to thaw frozen breast milk on the road with this warmer, too.  This is certainly something that’s an excess in terms of baby gear, but definitely a necessity for traveling families who need to keep liquids warm or thaw food/milk on the go.

 

 

5.  Section Plates

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For toddlers, the feeding frenzy doesn’t get any better than having the convenience of Section Plates.  TT’s Section Plates are perfect for allotting portion sizes and for presenting foods for tots who are quite visual at this stage.  The Section Plates are perfect for finger foods and work for self-feeding meals, too.  

 

 

6.  Insulated Bottle Bag

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Another one of my favorite travel essentials is the TT Insulated Bottle Bag.  Even though I’ve always carried a diaper bag that has ample pockets for bottles, I often found that it was much more convenient to use these insulated Bottle Bags.  The velcro strap made it easy to attach to bag handles on the outside of my bag, lowering the chance of spilling bottles IN my bag and increasing the convenience factor of finding the bottle amidst the depths of my bottomless bag.  Another item of baby gear excess, I absolutely loved having this bottle bag for those fleeting baby days.

 

 

Full disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  Samples were provided to facilitate reviews; however, as always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

TTPM Highlights Top Trends and Best in Play at Spring and Summer Showcase

It may feel like we were just unwrapping Christmas gifts, but thankfully, after the longest winter ever, we can finally focus on spring and summer.  And with a new season comes more new toys!

 

 Last week, TTPM highlighted the key top trends and best in play at their annual spring and summer showcase. Time to Play Mag, which has expanded and officially rebranded to TTPM, is the same juggernaut and resource for reviews on playthings and beyond.  

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The TTPM editors pinpointed three trends that will contribute to the popularity of toys this summer, including: bigger blockbuster movie lineup, innovative outdoor toys and breakout hits.  

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The movies that are expected amp up toy sales include Transformers: Age of Extinction, Disney Planes: Fire and Rescue, Godzilla, and The Amazing Spider- Man 2.  We’re hardcore Spider-Man fans, so our house alone may contribute to this increase in sales.  Untitled

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Innovative outdoor toys such as automated bubble blowers, our favorite: the bike bubbler and Grab n’ Go Chalk Games are just a few of the many toys that are sure to keep the kids entertained for hours.  There are so many fantastic breakout hits, but Paw Patrol, Lego Movie, The Happy’s and not surprisingly, Frozen take top honors in this category.

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There were quite a few standouts for spring and summer toys in the showcase.  Ride-on toys such as Razor’s Power Ride 360 and the Kawasaki TMNT 4-wheelers made it on to the hot list.  Personally, Hasbro’s Spider-Man toys and TMNT Combat-a-Bubbles are on our current list of must-haves.

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I have tons of photos to share from the event which I’ll include within this post.  I also did a gifting suite haul, something I had fun doing with my older son. 

Attending the TTPT showcases is always a highlight of the season for me, but getting to test out the toys via the gifting suite is a true highlight for the whole family.  So, many thanks to the companies who participate in the gifting suite. 

 

Oogaa Feeding Products Put the Fun in Function

Plastics in baby bottles and feeding products has been a topic of discussion for some time now. The research has been done, and BPA and phthalates are chemicals we should try to avoid.  Even though there’s been some conflicting info floating around, it’s safe to say, these are chemicals we don’t want in our baby products.  

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On that note, we’ve seen an increase in baby products made of different materials such as silicone, stainless steel and glass.  One of my absolute favorites has been silicone, because of its versatility, durability and convenience.  The rubbery texture of silicone often doubles as a teether AND it’s virtual kid-proof.  

Healthy Child Healthy World recently shared an article on silicones in our baby products, but the consensus on its safety seems to be: more research needs to be done, but it’s safe to use for our babes.

We recently received a line of Oogaa feeding products to review.  These products, made of silicone, are, hands down, some of my favorite feeding products to date.  To start, they’re bright and fun, something that’s welcomed after such a cold and gray winter.  

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The spoons have cool airplanes, boats and other designs in the middle that make them not only fun tools, but also more weighted.  Like many who already do this, mom and dad use the fun airplane or train spoons together with those sound effects to make baby eat that baby food.  

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We’ve been using the placemat on top of the high chair tray for easier clean up when eating yogurt or other messy foods that the toddler insists on feeding himself.  The portioned plates, though, are perhaps my favorite. I can cut up fruit and cheese and put in each compartment so that the tot can pick and choose bite-sized pieces himself, but to also control portion sizes.  With the two boys eating such different amounts of food, I often forget that the toddler has a much smaller appetite and pickier palate, and food often gets wasted because of this.

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Best of all, after eating, clean up of these Oogaa products is super simple.  Because of the products are made of silicone, it’s easy to just throw them into the dishwasher.  

There’s a variety of awesome Oogaa feeding products ranging from the spoons to plates to placemats.  The plate and spoon set would make an ideal baby shower gift—talk about functional!

Here’s a little vlog we did when reviewing these fun feeding tools from Ooga:

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Full disclosure:  I received these products to facilitate this review.  As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Stokke Steps is a Chic, New Modular Seating System

On a snowy evening last month, I attended Momtrend’s beautiful launch for Stokke’s latest arrival: the Stokke Steps.  

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Essentially, Stokke Steps is a bouncer and high chair that can be used together or separately. Touted as an all-in-one seating concept, from birth, the Stokke Steps is a modular seating system that begins with a stand-alone bouncer, which can then be added to the transformable children’s chair.  The bouncer and chair, when added together complement one another to accommodate newborn and infant seating at the table.  The children’s chair can be used on its own to provide seating for toddlers, preschoolers and beyond, up to 80 lbs.  The chair has safety features such as a 5-point harness and colored indicators to ensure the bouncer is properly installed onto the seat.  

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For convenience and logistics, the Stokke Steps chair has depth and height adjustable control, washable and water repellent textiles, adjustable footrest and optional tray for the chair.  Like the chair, the bouncer showcases that scandinavian design and engineering that’s synonymous with Stokke products.

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I’ve mentioned this many, many times, but I am a major Stokke fan.  Pre-blogging, as a city family we invested in our Stokke Sleepi not only because of its beautiful design and sustainable function (growing from a bassinet to a toddler bed), but also because we had a very small space.  

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The Sleepi was the optimal choice for our family six years ago and we’ve been loyal customers since.  Stokke has some of the most reliable and functional products on the market; and as someone who would rather opt for quality rather than quantity, I’d much rather pay more for something that will grow and last with my family.  We’ve gone on to buy the Stokke Care changing table and have reviewed several other Stokke products along the way.  

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I love the design of the Stokke Steps.  The bouncer reminds me so much of the Bounce n’ Sleep that we used a lot when littles was a babe.  The chair offers families an alternative to the Tripp Trapp, which is already a seating staple in so many homes. The streamlined design, along with the modular feature, makes the Stokke Steps an ideal high chair and seating option for a young family who appreciates the value of function and beautiful aesthetics.

Here’s a video that showcases this fabulous new seating system. Be sure to check out the Stokke Steps demo which has all kinds of great info.

The Stokke Steps bouncer and chair will be available at specialty stores and online. The bouncer retails for $199 and the chair is $279.

Full disclosure: I received a lovely gift bag at the event; however, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Toy Fair 2014 Day 2: Moose Toys, VTech, BToys, Hasbro, Skylanders and More

 

 

Even though Toy Fair is winding down on day 4 now, I thought I’d share some thoughts from a few days ago.

 

By the middle of day 2 of Toy Fair, I was thinking about how many new toys I had just previewed.  Nonetheless, it was a good variety of new toys, some good, others not so much.

 

I started the day by meeting with Pillow Pets, the makers of the plush pets/pillows.  The brand has a variety of new characters joining their already robust lineup.  They’re also introducing an inspirational line with faith-inspired sayings and designs featured.  The highlight of their new offerings, however, are Tricksters, a line of bike helmets with the plush characters on top of the helmet. Stuffed animals meet function and safety.

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I checked out Moose Toys’ latest wares, which included the latest series of Trashies and Ugglys.  Moose Toys, known for their gross factor and great girly crafts, are set to release lifelike electronic pets.  The Little Live Pets look and feel real, without all the fuss. 

 

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The butterfly pets have a cool fluttering feature that seems so tranquil and the birds look so exotic and cool.  

My personal favorite from Moose’s new line up are Shopkins, which is being dubbed as Trashies for girls.  Untitled

These tiny collectibles are shaped as food items that you’d find at a grocery store.  Emblazoned with cutesy faces with lots of pink throughout the line, this new line of toys from Moose will be a hit with girls looking for that next big collectible.

 

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B. Toys, one of my absolute favorite toy lines has some great beach toys coming out this year.  Ranging in size, the beach toys are grouped into sets featuring gender-neutral pieces. 

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Perhaps one of the most eye-catching elements of this line is the jewel-toned color scheme.  I’m always a fan of the musical instruments from B. Toys, and that makes no exception for the beautiful carousel bells.

 

 

 

In my travels, I found several new toys including baby toys constructed from plant materials and silicone and other cool baby accessories.  I discovered Sand Alive, which is one of my favorite play materials, something I think would be ideal for OT and Early Intervention.  I found this sand product in other booths, sometimes referred to as Kinetic Sand. In particular, I’ll definitely be checking out where I can get these for my guy now. 

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Surprisingly, I haven’t found too many Rainbow Loom accessories.  Rainbow Loom, who isn’t at the show, but won four Toy of the Year awards.  I did find, however, Loomey Time, which is a company that creates time pieces that are compatible with Rainbow Loom bracelets

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VTech was my next appointment of the day.  At this electronic toy maker’s meeting room, I had a chance to preview the highlights in their line’s new toys.  The Switch and Go Dinos have a new starting point and also a a cool RC car joining this popular lineup.

 

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I checked out Playmobil who had a cool offering up new toys.  Their warrior line is the main focus, with dragons and fairies as awesome focal points, too.

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Skylanders showcased a few new characters being released for Swap Force. My favorite?  Springtime Trigger happy which will be available in the next few months.

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Hasbro was the highlight of my day because it meant that I got to see Transformers, Super Heroes, Sesame Street, Ponies and much more.  There was so much to see and check out in their showroom, but a few of my favorite highlights were definitely Dohvinci, a new take on Play-Doh, but much more malleable and can be released in a hot glue gun-like device.  The Star Wars toys, too, look to be incredible, as well as the Marvel Mashers which are my absolute favorite thing right now.  Elmo has a new toy, which touts his imagination and use of hats.  My Little Pony has a quite a few new offering such as a DIY pony line and rockstar Equestria Girls.

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There was so much fun to see and check out, I’ll be sure to share more soon.

 

 

Toddler Teething Relief with Baby Orajel Naturals Teething Tablets and Gel

The uncontrollable drooling, the never-ending crankiness, the insatiable desire to use big brother’s arm as a teether: you name it, my younger son has been showcasing all the telltale signs of a teething toddler. Maybe you can relate, but my little guy has been teething, for what seems like, years. I’ve done the frozen washcloths, every kind of fancy teeether, as well as the necklaces—but truly, it never seems to be enough to soothe the teething pain.


Since my one year old is on a cocktail of anti-seizure meds, I try my best to refrain from using any additional medicines, as much as possible. As with my older boy, I’ll always grab for homeopathic or more “natural” methods before administering anything else. It turns out I’m not alone when it comes to relying on homeopathic remedies. According to a study released by IBIS in July 2012, in the past five years global use of homeopathic treatments by adults has increased and is expected to grow through 2017.

And so, with the tot’s most recent teething fun, as luck would have it, we had the chance to try out Baby Orajel Naturals Teething Tablets and Gel to soothe his swollen gums and comfort him as he was cutting his molars.

After studying the label and learning that Baby Orajel Naturals doesn’t include benzocaine, belladonna, dyes, parabens, sugar or sodium lauryl sulfate. Baby Orajel Naturals does not contain belladonna in its tablets and gels, which is an ingredient that’s been associated with undesirable side effects when taken orally. I feel much more comfortable giving my guy Baby Orajel Naturals Teething Tablets and Gel. For my guy, it’s clear that the frozen washcloths just don’t cut it when he’s in so much pain. It’s comforting to know that there are more natural options to get us through these trying times. As for the biting…well, we’re working on that.

According to the makers of Baby Orajel Naturals, there are no expected side effects from this specific line of products. We didn’t notice any side effects after but positive effects following our usage. Baby, who is still fond of giving those juicy open-mouthed kisses, is much more loving and huggi

ng after I gave him Baby Orajel Naturals gel. Of course he resisted, but once I put the gel on his swollen gums he was all smiles from the relief. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the same response when I tried to give him the tablets. He usually spit out the tablets after putting them under his tongue. I imagine the tablets who would work much better for smaller babes that don’t have the ability grab tablets out of their mouth. Nevertheless, I found the gels to be so helpful and comforting for the babe, so I love the fact that Baby Orajel Naturals gives options.

Giveaway

Teething isn’t fun, but thank goodness there are methods for relief, including Baby Orajel Naturals Teething Tablets and Gel.  And since we all need relief especially when it comes to teething, I’m giving away a $50 Target Gift Card. Enter below to grab this prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full disclosure: This post is part of a sponsorship on BabyCenter. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own. I am not a medical professional, so please do not confuse my opinions as medical advice. If you have any questions about teething or your baby’s health, be sure to consult your pediatrician.

This contest ends August 30. Please note: the winner should allow 6 – 8 weeks for delivery after contest has ended.

Back to School with The Children’s Place

The Children’s Place, as usual, is making back to school shopping fun and fabulous.  This fall, they’re focusing on modern classics, with lots of color and layering. For the girls, they’ve incorporated floral, leopard and snake skin into key pieces like jeggings.  For boys, graphic tees, athletic wear get a lot of playtime at #PlaceFall.

According to The Children’s Place lead designer, Michael Giannelli,

Back to school comes earlier than past years. The weather is still warm, and we want to ensure our clothing is wear-now appropriate. From our brand you’ll see more short sleeves, shorts, skirts, which will all be in store through September. Kids will have a lot more wear-now options.”

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In fact, we picked up a few short-sleeved graphic tees that we love to use as undershirts.  Since fall can be so unpredictable, it’s a given to have a short-sleeved tee underneath.

Even though, baby doesn’t go to school for quite awhile, my absolute favorite piece from our #PlaceFall haul was the robot backpack for the little guy.  Perfect for preschool and totally suitable for throwing the essentials for the day.

Check out our shopping haul video on YouTube to see how “entertained” Biggie was during my explanations. ha!

Full disclosure:  We were provided with a giftcard to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Prince Lionheart Adds bebePod BASIX to its lineup

Prince Lionheart recently added the bebePod Basix to its line of baby and kid products.  With a safety belt and chair harness, this  plastic infant seat/booster seat combo provides a multi-function seating solution for babies.  The seatbelt and chair harness give this seat added security to prop baby up onto a chair for feeding time, offering a viable alternative for a high chair, which is often known to monopolize precious kitchen space.

The seat is a basic plastic seat that provides just enough back support and form in the front and sides to help even babies who aren’t quite sitting yet the opportunity to sit upright for dinner.

We’ve been testing out this seat for a few weeks now, and it hasn’t been until recently where we’ve actually been able to enjoy it.  Baby’s muscle tone seems low and he can’t quite sit up on his own yet, so the bebePod Basix helped him sit upright and enjoy playtime from a different angle. We have two high wooden highchairs that I’ve talked about in the past, so we never really had a need for a booster seat, except when we travel.  But what I love about this seat, is that it can be used anywhere, just as Prince Lionheart suggests.  We’ve enjoyed using it while Biggie and I are in the playroom, as well as outside while we’re playing outside.

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It’s a versatile infant seat and booster, and one that is a better option than foam seats that have been in the news for yet another recall.

Speaking of that recall, I wanted the uproar to simmer a bit before sharing my two cents.  The thing is, it’s not always parents using a seat incorrectly. Sometimes, it’s just the way it is…

(coming soon! Im having wifi issues, so I’ll upload this as soon as I can!) Here are my thoughts on a vlog I did today on the bebePod Basix.  I’m going to try to share my thoughts more regularly on products, parenting and beyond—all while baby is napping.  So, here’s my first installment of Nap Chat:

4moms Breeze Review and Giveaway

There are a few types of baby gear:  the kind that will do the job for now, and there’s the kind that works well AND makes things a little easier.

And then, there’s 4moms, the baby gear company that’s shaking things up with products that are changing the marketplace.  Their latest innovation, the Breeze play yard, is shifting the whole paradigm…with just a push of a button.

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Parenthood, at least for me, isn’t about the most stuff, or even the flashiest stuff.  For me, it’s about well-designed products that are safe, efficient and are built to last.  Throw in a little innovation and I’m sold!

By now, you may already know that our family is quite fond of 4moms.  We’re continually dazzled by the Origami’s power folding abilities and super cool dashboard.  And without getting the waterworks started, the mamaRoo is just as functional, as it is special to us. I’m fortunate enough to see and experience the latest in kid products, but when it comes to merging efficiency and innovation, 4moms is absolutely making their mark.

And when I think of convenient and efficient baby gear, rarely does a play yard come to mind.  Otherwise known as a Pack n Play or playpen (if you’re old school,) 4moms has redefined the play yard concept with the Breeze.  After unfolding, the Breeze is put together in less than 30 seconds.  With a simple push, the entire play yard locks into place and is ready for baby’s nap, or if you’re my kid, roly poly time up and off of the floor where cat hair and dust breed before my eyes.

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The Breeze is so Easy my 4 Year old Can Do it(?)

I wanted to say that the Breeze play yard is so simple my 4 year old could do it, but A) the kid willingly helps with the laundry after watching me all the time B) his arm isn’t long enough to reach into the Breeze and C) the 4 year old thing just isn’t a good example at all.  Nevertheless, the Breeze is so easy, people;  all baby products should be this breezy.

And speaking of 4 year olds, he was my director and camera man while I filmed these videos.  We did quite a few takes, so you might be able to hear him saying “cut,” many thanks to my awesome editing. We had fun chatting it up about the Breeze, so be sure to check us out in action!  Please excuse the shakiness, a sometimes crying babe and my child begging to go to the beach.

I’m so excited for the Breeze! I’ll let the video do the talking, but just a few things I love about it that I don’t think I mentioned are, the sleek aesthetics, clean lines and cool aqua/black color scheme.  It complements my modern/classic decor without being offensive. I used to swear that baby and kid products wouldn’t overrule my living room, but to be quite honest, the Breeze may take up a good amount of space, but thankfully, goes beyond cutesy patterns.  As for the overall physical presence of the Breeze, the frame is solid once its locked into place, yet its not too rigid. I love the convenience of the bassinet feature and changing pad; it’s streamlined without becoming a bulky addition.

As with any product, there are always a few caveats, and the same goes for the Breeze.  At about 30 lbs, the Breeze is heavier than what I was expecting. And because it’s so new, sheets aren’t accessible yet, but thank goodness for the waterproof padding. I tried to use a Target brand pack and play sheet, but it didn’t fit.  Having used their other products, I’m certain 4moms products are safe; however, because the Breeze is still so new, like all most products newly released to market, safety ratings aren’t available right away. (Reminder: I’m not a safety professional) And finally, pricepoint is something I can’t not include.  At $299, the Breeze is more expensive than mid-range play yards, but it is true when they say, you get what you pay for, and the Breeze would most certainly last for multiple children, whether it’s siblings or passed down to friends and relatives.

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