The Grass is Greener

…on the counter top!

The forward-thinking, creative minds over at Boon have done it again with another fantastic idea. They’ve combined a very simple idea and design to create a very cool countertop drying rack that channels a patch of grass.


The Grass Countertop Drying Rack features a two-piece design where baby and kid accoutrements rest on the blades of glass to dry, as water drains into the detachable lower tray. Grass is dishwasher-safe, in addition to being BPA, PVC and Phthalate-free.

Because of our small space, I appreciate kid products that can blend with our modern design, or in this case, add a bit of fun without being too cartoon-y. I love the clean lines, fun design and affordability of this new product ($19.99) from Boon. No word yet on when it’ll be out in stores, but I’m sure it’ll be available very soon!

Vote for HAPPYbaby on Shine A Light

A couple of weeks ago, we noticed an AMEX commercial that touted a familiar colorful logo as one of its finalists in the Shine a Light program, a contest that recognizes small businesses. After a second glance, I realized that the colorful logo belonged to Happy Baby, one of the first companies that ever reached out to me, not to mention one of my favorite brands in the green marketplace and makers of organic baby foods.


My review of Happy Bellies rice cereal on my original Babyrific site is still one of my most trafficked blog posts ever. It’s really no surprise, what with Happy Baby’s great line of products and inspiring business model. Their emphasis on sustainable agriculture and instilling healthy eating habits right from the start are all facets that any parent can appreciate. But perhaps, it’s Project Peanut Butter, their program that provides food for starving children in Malawi, that sets Happy Baby apart from the rest.

As a socially responsible company that produces a truly wonderful product, I think Happy Baby is a well deserving finalist in the AMEX/NBC Universal contest. As an entrepreunerial mama to my own happy baby, I champion the great small business who are paving the way, so I wanted to share my thoughts on HappyBaby and ask you to support this inspiring small business. When you have a chance, submit a vote for HappyBaby in the Shine A Light Contest before October 16. (You have to register but it’s quick and easy!)

The winning small business, voted on by the public, will be announced on October 19th. In addition to the $50,000 in grant money and $50,000 in marketing support from American Express, the winning small business will be featured on MSNBC`s small business show, “Your Business.”

Good Luck HappyBaby!

Big City Moms Biggest Baby Shower

Last night, I attended the Big City Moms Biggest Baby Shower Ever, one of my most favorite events. This time, instead of attending as a new or expectant mama, I attended as press. That’s right, I perused hot strollers and noshed on cupcakes while admiring all the beautiful, glowing and glamorous NYC moms, all in the name of The Next Kid Thing! I remember telling one of my friends there that I certainly don’t remember being nearly as glamorous as many of the stiletto-heeled moms I saw in attendance! Wowza, there were some hot mamas there!


But that’s the beauty of NYC, everyone is so diverse: there moms that are very fashion forward, some are very knowledgeable about the latest trends in baby gear and then there are those who are just generally in the know. What ever it may be, it seems this is a hotbed for parents with discerning taste and we’re all influenced by one another. And because of that, there’s always a plethora of events showcasing the latest and greatest in kid and baby gear, which is part of the reason for me starting this blog.

Trust me, I’m not the most fashionable or in the know, but as a reporter by trade, innately, I love investigating and revealing these great finds.

If you’ve been with me since day one, one of my first posts was about the Spring Biggest Baby Shower. The fall event was just as fabulous, but with even more space for moms to spread out and check out the goods. This event once again took place at the American Girl Store on Fifth Ave. in NYC, but unlike the Spring event, this one occupied three whole floors, and it was gorgeous!

I know I haven’t even finished my wrap up of the Holiday Showcase, which is coming…but in the coming days, I will divulge some fabulous finds from the Biggest Baby Shower as well! As I edit and organize photos and media kits, for now, check out these hot products that I eyed at the event!


organicKidz SS bottles wins JPMA award

At the ABC Kids Expo, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) announced the winners of the 2009 Innovation Awards Competition which features several new products. Among the winners, organicKidz Stainless Steel Baby Bottles, was introduced earlier this year and has been garnering a lot of buzz ever since—and all for good reason.

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organicKidz Stainless Steel Baby Bottles are touted as being one of the safest baby bottles because they won’t break like glass, are BPA, PVC, Phthalate Free and the only naturally bacteria resistant baby bottles.  The first stainless steel baby bottles, organicKidsz bottles come in 4, 7 and 9 oz. sizes and retail for $19.99 to $23.99.  The bottles are available online and come in a spectrum of colors.

I think these bottles look so sharp.  Aside from the super cool stripes and polka dots, I love the sustainability of the stainless steel.  Even better, I’d love to see the nipples interchange with sippy cup nozzles.  We’ve been using stainless steel thermoses for years; stainless steel bottles are one of those products that just make sense!  Though I’ve yet to check them out in person, I’d love to see these for myself.

Spotted: Chalk Cloth Placemat

At an event yesterday, I spotted a display with some super cool eating and entertaining ideas for kids. One of them, the Flower Power Chalk Cloth Placemat from Chicks & Chickadees, I thought, would be perfect for families that are always on the go like us.
The placemat, which is chalk cloth oilcloth on one side and laminated cotton on the other side, can be easily folded and rolled to shove into a diaper bag or stroller. In addition to using at home or in restaurants, I think this would be perfect to have onhand for the bus, trains and in a few weeks for us, the airplane. The Chalk Cloth Placemat is a fun, reusable alternative to coloring books/crayons and the plastic and throw away placemats for kids.
The 12 X 17 in. Chalk Cloth placemat from Chicks & Chickadees is the same size as a standard placemat and comes in designs for kids of all ages. My only complaint though: I’d love to see more gender-neutral designs!

OnTray: next best thing to an extra set of hands

While shopping, some kids get bored, some get hungry and some just want what they can’t have.  So, for those of us who try to get in and out of stores as fast as possible to minimize the chance of a public meltdown, an extra set of hands would be a big help.

ontray_buyphotoAnd that’s where the OnTray would come in handy.  The  OnTray is the brainchild of Laura Hamrick, a mom who spent a harried grocery shopping trip handing out snacks one-by-one to her three small boys, while trying to look through coupons and fill the cart.  We’ve all been there.

Hamrick then devised a way to occupy her little guys with a small tray that would easily snap on and off, allowing her to shop and multi-task a bit easier.  The award-winning snap-on tray can also can be used to hold coupons, keys and cell phones, making it a helpful gadget for multi-tasking parents.  On the safety front, OnTray is manufactured in the U.S. of FDA-approved plastic, BPA-free and it meets all new requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

If you’re like us and consider your stroller the shopping cart and a second “vehicle” I discovered that the OnTray is a great alternative to those snack trap cups!  The OnTray snaps onto stroller handlebars, allowing toddlers to access snacks and toys easily.

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Spotlight: Green to Grow

Always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing for kids, I find myself researching incessantly, not only new products, but also news that’s relevant to parenting and kids. Even before I started NKT, I tried to keep abreast on topics pertaining to the environment and especially reports about BPA. With Chicago voting to adopt a ban on the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups containing the chemical BPA, and other areas moving in a similar direction, huge strides are being made.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case, innovation and ingenuity. Citing the growing need for more BPA-free products, Michael Ritterbrown and his wife, Shelley launched Green to Grow, a line of award-winning baby bottles. Like most modern parents, they sought safe alternatives for kid gear and weren’t willing to sacrifice sensibility, thus Green to Grow was sprouted to fill that void.


I initially spotted Green to Grow bottles at Buy Buy Baby and was immediately intrigued by the modern, yet simplistic appearance. Green to Grow kindly sent me a sample to review in detail; specifically, they sent the 5 oz. Wide Neck Bottle.

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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 ***********

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!