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Friday, November 22nd, 2013
** Guest-edited by Emily Jenkins, 2013 Chair of the National Book Awards Committee on Young People’s Literature and author of Toys Go Out and more
First come my board-book standards. Your baby should have them. All babies should have them. All of them are properly interesting to someone who still wants to chew on books.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illus Clement Hurd
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, illus Felicia Bond
books by Sandra Boynton (my favorite is Snuggle Puppy)
books by Eric Carle (my favorite is From Head to Toe)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin, illus Eric Carle
books by Dr. Seuss, shortened into board books (my favorite is Hop on Pop)
books by Karen Katz (my favorite is Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?)
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
The Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells (my favorite is Max’s Breakfast)
The Duck and Goose board books by Tad Hills (my favorite is Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin)
Freight Train by Donald Crews
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
All the fun baby-centered books by Leslie Patricelli
Where’s Spot? By Eric Hill
If you’re a book lover, or on your second baby, chances are you already know the books above. You want to buy your baby (or your friend’s baby) something that’s beautiful and worth reading over and over and that might be a little under the radar. Below are my go-to board book gifts for literary folk who have all the others.
I Kissed the Baby! By Mary Murphy
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illus Helen Oxenbury
Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tufari
Baby Penguins Everywhere by Melissa Guion
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illus. Marla Frazee
Ten Little Babies by Gyo Fujikowa
Peek-a-Boo by Alan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg
Also check out nine new board books from the American Baby Editors.
Remember that your local bookstore can order any of these books, and you can also find many board books in our Parents.com/shop
Activity Tips: Mia Reads Book
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Thursday, November 21st, 2013
My kids are crazy about Build-a-Bear Workshops, where you choose the skin of a new plush friend and then get it filled, right there in the store, with fluff. And they’ve got a new addition to announce: Baby gifts from Build-a-Bear! The line is called Hug-a-Cub. Since the new goods are for babies, you don’t have to wait in a store to get them stuffed (definitely more fun for the older kids). They do encourage you to order online, because there’s lots to chose from there.
For instance, the 5-piece Brown Bear Gift Set can be personalized with Baby’s name. And I was excited to see this Sweet Velvet Bear who is allergy-friendly. There are a lot of Snugglers, too, those blankets-with-a-head that babies love so much.
Build-A-Bear is giving away THREE cuddly Hug a Cub 5-piece Brown Bear Gift Sets, including a soft bear, rattle, snuggler, blanket and bag to tote your treasures.
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Wednesday, November 27, and don’t forget to read the official rules. Be sure to check back on December 2 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!
Our winners have been chosen. Congrats to Charley Elizabeth, Veronica Lynn Willyard and Mary Singer!
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Babies, Giveaways, GoodyBlog, Shopping & Gear
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
We at Parents put together a great toy guide every year–and you’ll find our latest here–but I admit I’m partial to this one because it comes from my sister, Meghan, a pediatric occupational therapist who works with young children of various abilities. A large part of her job is to engage her kids and help them reach their therapeutic goals by using toys, games, and apps. She is forever on the lookout for the best items, and when she finds them, she enthusiastically writes all about them on her blog, MAC&Toys. (Bookmark it!) And once a year, she pulls together an extravaganza of recommendations, including links to buy and the skills each item addresses (fine motor, visual perception, sensory processing, social, and so on), and sends it to all of the parents of the children she works with. I am making this bold statement: I guarantee you’ll find something on this list you’ll be tempted to buy or know from experience is awesome. I’ll give you a taste with a couple of the items I’m getting for my children.
From Meghan’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide:
Lazoo drawing books There are nine different books to choose from and I can’t say one is better than the other. I adore all of these and each one is so unique and different from other coloring and activity books. My first book was the Holes book and my kids couldn’t get enough. I quickly picked up the Squiggles and Stickers/Incredible Stickers books. Perfect for preschoolers who may not always love coloring and drawing books because the pictures are motivating and exciting for them to complete. Many of the kids I work with get stressed with coloring books because the pictures are too big and their hands get tired. With drawing, they avoid this task because they aren’t quite sure where to start the picture. These books are great because they give you something concrete to begin with and then you can allow your imagination to run wild. These books allow for success and the more successful they are, the more likely they will be to try coloring and drawing activities outside of their comfort zone. Here is a link to the Lazoo Store….warning, you may not be able to stop yourself! (Improves fine motor grasping skills and in-hand manipulation skills; visual motor skills; eye-hand coordination skills; fine motor skills)
Stack Up A great cooperative game perfect for preschoolers or young school age children. The purpose of the game is to work as a team to build a stack of blocks using sticks (the blocks have a hole on either side and children must work together to put their stick in the hole and place it on top of the other blocks). There are challenges as well that keep the kids on their feet and moving around. I love watching the kids figure out how to work together to make the tower. Cooperative games are great for teaching kids the importance of team work and that sometimes winning is not the most important part of a game! (Improves bilateral coordination/using two hands at the same time; sensory processing skills, such as attention and focus; improves gross motor skills, such as jumping or whole body movements)
Go to Meghan’s list for dozens more suggestions for toys, games, apps, and independent toy stores around the country. Happy shopping!
Image: Gift boxes on a colorful background via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
** guest-edited by Amy Tara Koch, style expert and author of the pregnancy-style bible Bump It Up
To the pregnant woman, there’s one aspect of this season that triggers anxiety: shopping for dressy maternity clothes. From mid-November until January, women must step up their style to express the celebratory verve of the holidays. But with a watermelon in the belly, dressing for the parade of parties can be stressful.
Here’s the deal: you don’t need to invest in an entirely new wardrobe to create festive and flattering outfits. The secret is having key maternity basics (namely a great dress or tunic) that can be layered into holiday-worthy ensembles. Dramatic accessories are the difference between ho-hum and high wattage. By pairing a flattering silhouette with glammy statement jewelry, fashionable footwear and a great bag, you can pack away your holiday-dressing jitters. Here are four standout looks based on maternity fashion finds from our Parents.com shop.
ON THE EDGE
This starts with one of the ASOS Maternity Swing Dresses on our site for between $26 and $80. Forever 21 accessories kick it up, including Sleek Long Fringe Earrings ($5.80) and a Paneled Clutch ($19.80). The stack of bracelets might be something you already own, or you can consider these from Baublebar for $52. Pull on booties instead of heels for the added edge. These Nine West Junia Booties are $139.
Here we begin with our store’s ASOS Maternity Midi Tulip Dress with Wrap Front for $62. It gets an instant cool factor with the DKNY Jeans Chunky ZigZag Long Cardigan, a splurge at $91 but something you’ll use all winter and, because it’s not maternity, you can wear forever. The chain bracelet is $7.80 at Forever 21 and the Merona Satchel is $35 at Target. Add your own jewelry and booties or try this necklace is One by Dallas + Carlos for $98 and the Marana booties from DV by Dolce Vita for $129.
POISED & POLISHED
This cheery look starts at our shop with A Pea in the Pod’s ¾ Sleeve Drape Front Maternity Dress for $60. Add a gold skinny belt like this $10 number from BDG. The $50 H&M Boucle Jacket, which isn’t maternity and will serve you after pregnancy, too, looks professional and gives you coverage if you’re self-concious about your shape. Add your own gold hoops (these are $25 Sequin NYC Studded Hoops from Nordsrom) and wedge pumps (these are $80 Calvin Klein pumps from DSW). The $144 Heather Belle & Co. wristlet is cool; Vegan Leather!
If you’re more comfy in pants, grab a dressy tunic like our shop’s Jessica Simpson for Destination Maternity Long Sleeve Lace Trim Maternity Tunic for $59 and put them over the AG Jeans Secret Belly Fit Corduroy Pants for $210 (worth it because you’ll wear those suckers twice a week for all nine months, trust us!). Forever 21 has the Rock & Roll Faux Leather Clutch for $21.80, and H&M has the $6 20 Pack of Bracelets and $8 ring. A scarf gives added color; it doesn’t have to be fancy but we do love this Yarnz Geo Eye Scarf for $145. Enzo Angiolini’s Zeric Riding Boots finish things off at $100.
For more pregnancy style tips follow Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Also browse our maternity store; we add new items every day!
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Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Growing up, I was a Disney princess fanatic. Between Ariel’s love of exploring and Belle’s bookworm tendencies, I credit the movies for encouraging valuable traits I still treasure as an adult.
Now, Sofia the First has become a source of inspiration for a new generation. The animated television show on Disney Junior follows 7-year-old Sofia, who becomes a princess-in-training after her mom marries the King of her world Enchancia.
Despite the stereotypes held to a princess, Sofia learns that being one takes more than fancy gowns and jewels. It’s a job that also requires loyalty, honesty and kindness.
As a special treat for fans of the show, Mattel is giving away a set of Sofia the First toys for ONE lucky winner. With Sofia’s Magical Talking Castle, young ones can explore the grounds and hear special phrases voiced by the show’s characters. The prize pack also includes a Sofia the First Talking Doll, who can communicate with her favorite animal friends.
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Monday, November 25, and don’t forget to read the official rules here. Be sure to check back here on November 26 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there. Goody luck!
Our winner has been chosen. Congrats to Donna Miscenich Amorosi!
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Thursday, November 14th, 2013
At first glance, I didn’t understand why someone would design a high-end bag for a breast pump. My pump came with a bag, and though it was nothing gorgeous, it was fine. Worrying about a breast-pump bag being too ugly is maybe the very definition of a first-world luxury problem, IMO.
But in the past few months I’ve talked to a few different pump companies about how the Affordable Care Act impacts their business, because a small piece of that insurance puzzle is that new moms have their breast pumps covered. The way that will work, it seems, is that some pumps will be pared-down and come largely without bags. That makes the cost more reasonable for the insurance companies, and gets women with health insurance a pump that’s paid for.
That will leave those women without a “free” bag for carrying their pump. Still a luxury problem, yes, but in America, we have a solution you can purchase to solve every problem, this one included! Juno Blu is a new line of breast pump bags that seriously look nothing like breast pump bags. They are first and foremost luxe bags, with a pocket for a pump snuck in. When you’re done with pumping, you can still gets years of use out of the bag.
Juno Blu bags cost $185, which does negate the savings you may have received by getting your pump covered by insurance. But the lovely moms behind the company do have their own story of why these bags can help pumping moms feel less self-concious, which I’m always all for. A mom should pump as long as she dang well pleases, and I hate to think that embarrassment would hold anyone back.
Not to get sidetracked, but because I managed to pump for a full year after each of my kids, I always try to help out other moms. Here is our latest American Baby story on pumping-at-work success, and it’s a good one! And here’s a breast pumping made easy video that includes some of my favorite tips.
And to that end, Juno Blu is going to send THREE lucky winners one of their pretty bags. If you win, you get to chose your favorite! And I wish you many months of easy pumping!
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Wednesday, November 20, and don’t forget to read the official rules here. Be sure to check back here on November 21 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there. Goody luck!
Our winners have been chosen. Congrats to Courtney Kittel, Monica Desiree, and Becky Gian Campeau!
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Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Animated movies are great for entertaining kids as well as imparting a little wisdom. If there’s one message young ones will get from watching Disney’s Planes, it’s that no dream is too big.
Fans of the film will be familiar with Dusty Crophopper, a cropduster plane that dreams of becoming a professional racer. Despite the fact he’s meant to spray cornfields, Dusty embarks on a journey across the world to create his own destiny.
Though he definitely encounters a hitch or two along the way, the important thing is that he never stops fighting to reach his goals. As a parent, it’s safe to say you want the same for your child, and Parents’ latest giveaway is here to offer some inspiration.
Walt Disney is offering a Planes gift basket, complete with a Blu-ray combo pack, Wii game, action figure and interactive book to keep your child flying high. The movie will be officially released on DVD and Blu-ray November 19.
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and Monday, November 18, and don’t forget to read the official rules. Be sure to check back here November 19 to see who was chosen and look out for a message from us on Facebook. Goody luck!
Our winner has been chosen. Congrats to Debra Anne Raggio Thompson!
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Thursday, November 7th, 2013
If you’re a Harry Potter geek like me, you’ll recognize Mary GrandPré as the illustrator of the famous U.S. book covers and chapter art. So when I got the chance to meet and interview her yesterday, I felt like a bona fide fangirl.
GrandPré was in New York with children’s book writer Jennifer Dewing to talk about their new book, Goodnight Little Me, a dreamy bedtime book that can be personalized with your children’s names, ages, and birthdays.
The book, out later this month, is the newest title from I See Me, a line of personalized children’s books. What makes I See Me truly special is the unique way they integrate a child’s name and photo into the illustrations on each page. For Goodnight Little Me in particular, your child’s name can be seamlessly woven into a starry sky and the socks of dancing dogs.
Take a virtual tour of Goodnight Little Me — you’ll see how Dewing’s lyrical rhymes dance and propel the story forward and how GrandPré’s whimsical illustrations saturate and pop off the page. And note all the places where “Elizabeth” can be replaced with a different name.
Can’t wait for the book to come out? You’re in luck! You can now purchase the Goodnight Little Me book or Goodnight Little Me gift set (which includes a plush lamb). Even better, ISeeMe.com has provided Parents.com readers with an exclusive discount code that gives you 15% off your total order. So you can add Goodnight Little Me and other titles to your shopping cart.
Starting today, use the coupon code PARENTS during checkout to receive the 15% discount. The code expires on Sunday, December 15, 2013.
And stay tuned for my full interview with Mary GrandPré and Jennifer Dewing in the coming weeks!
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