Stuff for Kids

Scooters, bikes, and other conveyances for fresh legs.

I wrote a post a few weeks back about the Like A Bike, a bicycle without pedals. The idea seemed a good one to me, but even though it's beautiful, the price tag ($279) seemed a bit high. Then I finally got a copy of the DWR jax catalog in the mail yesterday, and lo and behold they're selling the Like A Bike. So I guess a pedal-less bike isn't exactly as unusual as I thought. Oh well.

Kettler_sprint But that post did generate a lot of interest and introduced me to some new scooting options for your kids. MDD reader Kevin pointed me to the Kettler Scoot Training Bike (pictured here) which pretty much looks like the same thing as the Like A Bike, but more like a regular outdoor bike. And they even sell it at Amazon for $89.99.

Gliderrider_red_with_handbrake I was also contacted by Randy from Glider Rider, a German version of a similar product. I can tell from our correspondence that Randy is really passionate about balance development, and his product seems like it will do the trick. Apparently they're quite popular in Europe, and in the states the Glider Rider will run you about $127..

Svan_scooter Then the other day a good friend of mine emailed me about this cool little scooter his folks had gotten his daughter - the Svan Scooter (made by the same people who make that sweet Svan high chair). It's not exactly a balance toy, more like a simple, perfectly simple, indoor tricycle. The front of it has no handlebars, but a wheel that pivots while the two wheels in the back are fixed. This lets your kid just push it to the left or right to go where they want. The wheels are rubber (so it's safe and quiet indoors) and it's made out of beautiful molded plywood. The Svan Scooter just came out this November and it's $118.99 from

So there are some options, but I have to say that Svan scooter just jumped to the top of Madame's wish list (thanks Jamie).

10 most "dangerous" toys.

Antigrav_bootsI was checking out this article in Fortune Magazine on line today (another piece about expensive baby gear - but this one doesn't have a quote from me unfortunately, so I was, as you can imagine, not very interested) when I saw a link to this: 10 most dangerous toys.

Now I don't know what it says about me, but I was expecting some really heinous stuff - wood burning kits, poisonous chemistry sets, giant plastic bags. But these dangerous toy lists every year (apparently put out by W.A.T.C.H. or World Against Toys Causing Harm) must be working, because the stuff in this year's list doesn't seem all that scary. There are toys that have small parts or fur that could cause choking, guns that shoot toy arrows or silly string at a high velocity, and those giant foam fist-hands that "made the list because it could cause blunt impact injuries." Duh.

The scariest thing on the list is a pair of "anti-gravity boots" (pictured) that look like a broken arm waiting to happen. They also look like the most fun.

So check out the list to find out which toy horse has poorly rooted fur, and congratulations to W.A.T.C.H. for keeping the really scary stuff off of the store shelves entirely. And don't be surprised on Christmas if little cousin Jimmy starts smacking you with his new giant fists.

Blinging up baby (that headline is way too easy) [Fortune on] (via modern day great-aunt Jeanne - thanks!)

10 most dangerous toys []

Holiday gifts. Kids. Jack's Big Music Show.

Milkshake_cd_I've written a couple of posts about Jack's Big Music Show already, and though I'm not obsessed, I am into it probably more than I should be. Fortunately that's still not more than my little girl is into it, which is a good thing (I think).

Anyway, from looking at the comments in my posts, it seems a lot of people are looking for JBMS toys to give this year. Unfortunately, there aren't any. I can't imagine a scenario where they'll never start making the toys (since the show is now also on Nick Jr. and looks like it's a hit), but they're just not available now.

About the best you can do this year is get the CDs from some of the artists who play music on the show, which isn't as good as a plush Mel the Dog, but it's better than nothing. Music for Little has a collection of CDs for $45.44, or you can always get them individually from Amazon.

Laruie Berkner Band - Under A Shady Tree (many of the songs featured on JBMS are from Laurie Berkner)
Rebecca Frezza - Road Trip
Music for Aardvarks - Grumpy
Milkshake - Happy Songs
The Dirty Sock Funtime Band - Mr. Clown and the Day the Sun Got Wet (from CD
Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell - Catch the Moon
The Persuasions - On the Good Ship Lollipop (includes the song "I'm So Glad I've Got Skin")

Also on MDD:
Jack's Big Music Show. (09-29-2005)
Jack's Big Music Show sure is swell. (11-02-2005)

The bike that isn't a bike.

LikeabikeAt what point in this blogging adventure here do I say, OK. Now I've seen it all. I thought I had with the adult pacifier, but this one is close.

Don't be fooled by the picture. What you're looking at isn't a bicycle. It's a "LikeABike." A wooden toy with two wheels, handle bars and a saddle, but no pedals. The idea is two-year-olds want active toys, and could generally use some forward-motion encouragement during walks around the neighborhood. The LikeABike solves this by giving kids a ride they can push forward with their feet Fred Flintstone style. It's beautiful, made out of wood and costs $279.

Is this genius or absurdity? For the life of me I can't decide. At first I was confused. $279 for a bicycle that doesn't work? Seriously? But then I read some of the testimonials on their web site:

It is so true what the LikeaBike people are saying about how easy it can get to walk your child to pre-school… It used to take me forever, now my daughter happily jumps on her bike and we make it in time... no problem. Petra T. (Brooklyn, Park Slope)

Before we gave our son a LikeaBike for his third birthday he had received physical therapy for more than a year... After learning how to ride that beautiful little vehicle his coordination and sense of balance improved considerably. LikeaBikes should be part of every pre-school's inventory. Jenny and Steve N. (Manhattan, West Village)

Now I'm starting to see the genius. Improve your child's balance, get them around the neighborhood, and give them something fun to do all by avoiding the tyranny of pedals. Still, at $279 I think a resourceful dad, an old bike and a socket set could probably come up with something cheaper.

Check out LikeABike at their official site [via Transport]

New shoes.

Gucio_shoesAfter Madame started walking and stopped crawling altogether, we figured it was time to finally think about getting some shoes on her feet. And like I've mentioned before, it was like sticking her in cement. The shoes we were trying (sneakers that were probably too small) were too heavy and too foreign for her to even consider walking with them. Eventually we found a pair of soft shoes from Nike that had a very minimal sole and a Velcro piece that wrapped around the heel for easy shoeing (who knew "shoeing" was a word?).

Anyway, I've tried to find a link to those shoes but I've been unsuccessful. Then yesterday a friend of mine sent me a link to these - Gucio shoes. Apparently a former design student in Poland tried making the perfect kids shoe for his final project and, after studying shoe making in Italy, it's become a full time business. Each shoe is hand made and designed for comfort and flexibility. The shoes look pretty cool, but handmade kid's shoes from Poland are going to set you back $47.99. And am I going to let my daughter run around the park in handmade shoes that cost $47.99? Not anytime soon.

The good news is I bought a pair of regular kid's sneakers from Nike, and after about two weeks of the first transitional shoes, she graduated to the sneakers and hasn't looked back since.

Gucio shoes available for $47.99 (gulp) at [thanks Beth].

MDD inbox.

I haven't responded to quite a lot of MDD email in a while, so I figured I'd get some of my housekeeping done here in this one post. Responses/links are in the order of when I received them.

  • Julie from new (to me at least) baby t-shirt store Trendy Tadpole sent me a link to her shop to check out. She's got some cute designs that you can put on your choice of t-shirt or one-piece. There are some good ones, but my favorite would have to be the Atari Joystick (I'm old-school like that).
  • Manny from d.a.d inc. dropped me a line to say hello and ask when did I find the time to work on modern day dad. Then he posted a blog entry with a similar theme. Honestly I try to blog during nap time or late at night when everyone else is asleep. I am finding out however that the older and more active Madame gets the less time I've been devoting to the blog, and consequently my number of posts has dropped in the last month or so. Hopefully it will be more quality than quantity.
  • MDD reader Aubrey tipped me to Kee-Ka, a gift t-shirt store that specializes in kids and pregnant mother t-shirts. I feel like I've seen (and written) about a million of these sites. This one seems geared towards gifts, and the illustrations and designs are playful without being cutesy. This would be a place to check out if you're looking for a quick and unique shower gift.
  • And last but certainly not least Dave Caolo recently started his own dad blog "DaddyDaze," and he's really hit the ground running. There's lots of good stuff there - personal posts about his family, a brand new video podcast, and I'll be damned if he didn't dress his son up like Chewbacca for Halloween. That rules me. Check out his blog, I'm predicting it's going to be one to watch.

Vegas costume ideas. The good and bad.

SlotcostumeHere in Las Vegas everything is about the dichotomy. The winning and losing. The hit or stay. The Elvis and Liberace (well, maybe there's not so much dichotomy there). This year we've decided Madame is going to be a duck (it's her favorite animal and the quacking is about the only sound she will make on cue), but what if we were looking for some advice around town? Just like always, we'd have to separate the bad from the good.

On the losing side we've got this costume ideas for kids page from the LV Review Journal. They suggest that instead of dressing your kids up in boring witch or vampire costumes, dress them up like Vegas icons. Sure, there's always Elvis, but why not a showgirl or high roller/trophy wife? The trophy wife thing is outright creepy, and the slot player (pictured) is just too messed up for me to come up with a comment.

On the winning side, one of the modern-day-great-aunts tipped me to a cool article from the makeup artists at Cirque du Soleil about creating a character with your kid for Halloween (OK. I know they're technically Canadian, but they've got like five shows here now so I think they count). They suggest doing some creative research - thinking about what the character will be like (happy or scary etc.) and then they give some tips on how to create it. For instance, here's some advice for making a scary character:

When it comes to selecting scary colors Eleni suggests white, red and black: "Start with a foundation of white, or sculpt the face by making artificial hollows with dark shadows under the cheekbones, around the eyes and under the nose. That can look really freaky on kids, because it ages them. By the way, you don't need expensive professional stage makeup to carry this off. The Halloween makeup you find in stores is good enough. But make sure you really blend the colors well, especially around the eyes."

And if you should happen to need a good supply of fake blood to complete your look, Isabelle Fink has a recipe for you: A mixture of corn syrup and red food dye. "And if you want it to really gross out the neighbors," she adds, "put in a little Vaseline to get that lumpy, clumpy look!"

HOMETOWN FAVORITES: Halloween, Vegas-Style [Las Vegas Review Journal]

Halloween tips from Cirque du Soleil experts [ via Mary Ellen - thanks!] Subscription required, or use the Bug Me Not Firefox plug in.

Good deal on games.

Princess_monopolyNormally I don't shill for Amazon so blatantly, but this is a pretty good deal. Right now they've got a two for one sale on all Hasbro, Milton Bradley or Parker Brothers games, with free shipping. It might be a good time to stock up on the classics you remember playing when you were a kid like Sorry! Or get your kid a new-school classic like Disney Princess Monopoly Jr., where you:

"Choose your favorite princess and dash around the gameboard to buy homes for as many Disney friends as you can! Then when other players land on your spaces, they must pay you to visit."

Princesses, capitalism and paying for friends. So many mixed messages in one game!

Check out the 2 for 1 sale on games at
  Offer expires 10-15-05.

NOTE: I just tried this and it's pretty confusing. What you have to do is go to purchase the more expensive item, then click the "second one for free" link in the "Special Offer" paragraph on that page. Then get the coupon code for the cheaper item on that page and follow the step by step instructions

If that doesn't work (it didn't for me), then make sure you get the coupon code for the cheaper of the two items, put both items in your cart and use the coupon code when you check out. It should work then.


VidsterIs it just me, or does it seem like the promise of new technologies is finally starting to pay off? When I was in junior high I got my first film camera, a Bell & Howell that took 110 film. It was so awesome (to me at least) I kept it in its protective plastic case (which was about three times bigger than the camera itself) whenever I wasn't using it. The idea of being able to have my own movie camera was so impossible I would have never even thought of it. But that's not the world my daughter is growing up in.

Mattel has recently announced the Vidster (pictured), and from what I've read it seems like they've got it right. For $80 you get a fully functioning, durable video camera (no LCD viewer though), that stores video to an SD Memory card (it comes with a 32 MB card, but you could upgrade it of course). It also runs on 4 AA batteries and ships with video editing software for kids. In my mind this is exactly right. The memory card means no tapes or fine mechanical moving parts for a child to break, and the fact that it runs on AA batteries means no freak-outs from your kid when the camera isn't charged up when he or she wants it. Plus, spending time with your young Fellini editing a movie that they shot is the kind of dad/kid activity that I'm all about. I'm guessing this is going to be a popular Christmas gift this year.

Makin' Movies with the Vidster [PC World via Shiny Shiny]
Also on MDD - First digital camera.

Design within kid's reach.

I was going through some email yesterday, and I noticed on an email I got from modern furniture purveyor Design Within Reach that they were going to come out soon with a line of products for kids (here's the thank you for signing up for the mailing list page, which includes a picture of one of the products). Is the modern kid's furniture revolution finally starting to take place? We have Modern Seed (which is doing a pretty good job of keeping all the modern kid's stuff in one place) and some boutique stores like Kid-O (mostly found in NYC), but that's about it.

Then I went over to DaddyTypes and, always one step ahead of me, Greg already posted an article about it, including an excerpt of an interview with Wayne L. Badovinus, CEO of DWR in Business Week. I'm not sure how soon "coming soon" is, but I'm definitely interested to see what they've got, particularly the "exclusive to DWR" items. In the mean time, if you're looking for cool modern stuff for your kid, check out:

Student designer update

A few months ago I asked for some feedback for a student product designer who had questions about children's luggage. At the time I asked him share his final project when he was finished, and he sent me an email yesterday about it. What he came up with is a line of adaptable luggage he calls "Evolve," and here's his description:

"Travel has never been more popular and accessible to children than in today’s society. Every child is unique.  “Evolve” luggage caters for the continued physical development and changing needs of each individual child, providing them with the chance to personalise and adapt their baggage as their traveling experiences broaden.

Evolve children's luggage adjusts to the varying travel needs of a growing child.  From the youngest age of travel when a child carries their own toys, through to older children who carry their own hand luggage and clothing, the baggage provides an easily transportable, child friendly trolley unit that expands with the addition of simple, secure modules.

Each unit can be used for varying purposes, including the child’s toys and clothing through to essential items chosen by the parent. Windows within the luggage allow the child to personalise the luggage with mementos from their travels, similar to traditional destination stickers found on old trunks, creating a storyboard of their travels."

He also sent a .pdf showing some basic illustrations of what it looks like (kind of like stackable wheeled luggage) that I've included below. He'd like to know what people think, so if you've got some feedback please post it in the comments.

I don't have much feedback personally, though I like the idea of being able to add to it as the child gets bigger. I'm not so sure about the windows allowing the child to personalize the luggage, but it would be helpful for parents to know which one had toys and which one had clothes without having to go into the luggage to find out.

Download evolve_a2.pdf

Trapped snacks.

SancktrapSometime while we were away last weekend my baby turned into a toddler. The problem is, I'm not really up on the toddler gadgets and other stuff, but I did see something cool that I wanted to share. Friends of ours have a 15 month old daughter who had this cool contraption full of Goldfish crackers - the Snack Trap. As you can kind of see from the picture, the lid is perforated so little hands can get in and grab some finger food without spilling all over the floor. Not only does it keep things clean, but it allows kids to feed themselves (which I'm starting to figure out is something important to toddlers). It's probably not news to a lot of you, but I think I'm going to pick up a couple.

The Snack Trap. $4.99 each from Snack

Let's help a future product designer.

A student from the UK studying product design needs some help for his final project, and he emailed to see if the MDD readers out there could help. I don't normally get a lot of comments on this blog, but if you're reading this and have an opinion, leave a comment. Well designed kids stuff has to start somewhere right?

His project involves kid's luggage, and his questions revolve around long family vacations - primarily those that are longer and more involved than a car trip. His questions are:

  1. As parents at what age do you allow your child (children) to carry their own luggage?
  2. Do they use the luggage for their own clothes or is it largely for toys and games? And do they pack it themselves?
  3. Would an additional piece of luggage used for toys result in difficulties due to the numerous other items taken on holiday?
  4. What criteria would be important in an item of children's luggage (e.g., lightweight, serves multifunctional purpose like a seat for child etc...)
  5. Do you carry any items for yourself or your child that are specific to a delay in travel?

I still have a baby, so I'm not really speaking from a lot of experience, but here it goes:

  1. I'm not sure, but my guess is as soon as they are able to carry it for themselves. 5? 6?
  2. I have no idea, though I think I was pretty old before I packed a suitcase for myself.
  3. Another piece of luggage means another thing to deal with, which is never a good idea when traveling. Plus all it would do is encourage kids to bring more toys on vacation, which I think I would want to limit anyway.
  4. The top criteria for me I think would be make it as manageable for a kid to deal with as possible. In other words, if they can handle it and be responsible for it without me having to hold it for them, than it's good.
  5. From a traveling-with-an-infant perspective, we just had to make sure there was plenty of food, formula and diaper changing stuff. When traveling with a baby you don't really get the luxury of packing stuff just for you in case there is a delay.

I know that's a lot of questions, but if you've got an opinion about any of it, leave it in the comments. I'm sure he'll thank you.