Stuff for Baby

MDD at CES 2006

Sorry for the lack of activity last week, but I was attending (for the third year in a row actually) the Consumer Electronics Showcase here in Las Vegas. This year - and maybe it was because I was getting used to it - was the most underwhelming of them all so far. I've got some things related to kids and parenting that I'll share in the next week, but here are some quick thoughts about it all off of the top of my head.

  • Blu-Ray vs. HDDVD. The big thing this year (if you can call it that) was the battle between who will win the next home video player format wars. After hearing the long (and again, underwhelming) Microsoft spiel in Wednesday night you'd think it was all about HDDVD. But after walking the floor, it seems more people are behind the Blu-Ray. Whatever. Just tell me which one wins when it finally gets sorted out, because there's no way in hell I'm going to buy two separate $500 players.
  • More kid's stuff than ever before. Maybe I was just looking for it, but this year there was a lot more products marketed towards children. Some good, some bad, and apparently I didn't even see all of them.
  • The Canadian dudes who run the Harmony Remote division of Logitech rule. My universal remote - the one I love so much - the one that I've recommended to countless friends decided to die the night before the convention started. I brought it to their booth and after getting some expert technical advice (including a phone call back to the home office), the guy said he'd replace it for me. I cannot recommend these remote controls enough.
  • Electronics convention attendees + Porn convention attendees = An interesting lobby. This year CES had one of it's convention spaces in the Sands convention center, right next to the Adult Entertainment Expo. And in the lobby some had pocket protectors while others had ginormous breasts. But hey, it's all business.

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.

Blockbuster baby announcements.

Movieposter_announcementWhen it came to sending out baby announcements, we opted to go with 2Peas1Pod. It's a small business set up by a mom/graphic designer, and we were very happy with the results. Another designer sent me a link recently to his baby announcement business called 5 Star Baby, where he makes personalized birth announcements that look like movie posters. It's a cute idea, and clever enough without being too "clever" (anyone ever gotten one of these Hershey candy bar "HERESHEIS" announcements?).  I can't vouch for it personally, but the business looks similar to 2Peas1Pod, with personalized service and attention, and it's probably something that most of your friends and family haven't seen before.

Check them out at

Also on MDD - Birth Announcing

The perfect float.

BabyspringfloatOne of the benefits of living in the southwest is that lots of people have swimming pools, and the modern day family is no exception. As this was Madame's first summer where she could spend any amount of time outside, I've been looking for the perfect float for her. At first I got this one from Speedo, but she was too small for it and it kept her a little to low in the water. Then I got one that kept her too much up out of the water, which made me afraid she might take a dive into the pool if she got a mind to. But I guess the third time is the charm, because then I found the Swimways Baby Spring Float.

The float is pretty basic - two concentric pockets of air held together by some mesh netting. The baby sits in the middle of it, keeping the water up to about mid-chest level. It's much easier for her to splash in the water, and it easily deflates and collapses into a bag for taking to a friend's house. I definitely recommend it.

Swimways Baby Spring Float. 12.99 at

What I get asked the most about.

I've bought a lot of baby stuff in the last year, and I've blogged about most of it here. A lot of the stuff is either obvious or forgettable, but certain things seem to always keep coming up, whether it's when I'm out with Madame or it's people emailing me . Anyway, it's been a while since I've written about them, so here are the top three dad/baby related things I'm asked the most about.

  • Bugaboo Frog, and the Bugaboo Frog cup holder.. This one is kind of obvious, because I'm not only one of those people who bought and are passionate about their kick-ass stroller, I also write about it on the Internet. Not many I don't get a lot of email about it, but I do get asked at least once a week by a stranger about my stroller. And Google searches for "bugaboo cup holder" have to be one of my biggest referrers.
    The requisite Bugaboo Frog post.  [September 28, 2004]
    Bugaboo cup holder. Round one.  [December 28, 2004]
    Bugaboo cup holder. Round one results.  [January 6, 2005]
    Search for more "Bugaboo" stuff on Modern Day Dad.
  • Zolo Kushies Stacrobats. My aunt gave Madame this toy for Christmas last year, and I get more questions via email about them than any other item. What can I say? They're soft, magnetic, fun to play with and all-around a great toy - especially because they're one of those toys that grow with the kid.
    Stacrobats. [April 19, 2005]
  • Mary Janes by Trumpette. As it turns out, socks are very important for kids. I had no idea before I had one. And apparently shoes aren't the best for young feet, as they learn to walk better in bare or stockinged feet. Socks that look like shoes? No problem. At least one out of five times I'm out with the baby and she's wearing a pair of these, someone will comment on how cute they are.
    Mary Janes.  [September 25, 2004]

Activity table.

LaughandlearntableThe party is over, as they say, for me and my baby. Madame is twenty times more mobile than she was two weeks ago and all she wants to do is move around, which means the days of putting her on the floor or in the corner of the couch so she can play quietly are over. She's even started to pull herself up on furniture, so we thought we'd get something to encourage her. Even though I'm pretty wary of toys that play annoying songs, after an impulse buy at Babies 'R Us we came home with the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn™ Learning Table.

The songs are indeed annoying, but she loves it. In fact she really loves it, which means the scenario where I end up listening to the seemingly never ending refrain of "La Cucaracha" is now happening in my family room every day. Fortunately the legs are removable, because it's not heavy enough to support her while she's trying to pull up on it. With the legs on all she does is end up pulling it down on top of herself, which is pretty much the opposite of encouraging her to pull up. Hopefully the legs will extend the life of the toy once she's started walking.

Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Table (because two "learns" are better than one). $32.99 from (Not exactly recommended, but not discouraged either.)

Good deals at

Oeuf_babyloungerMargaret Schankler, chief purveyor over at, sent me an email asking me to check out her store. Normally when people send me these kinds of requests I ignore them, but Oliebollen is one of those names I've heard before, so I checked it out. It seems like a pretty cool online kid's boutique. They've got tons of clothes (which, unless it's novelty onesies, I find hard to shop for online), as well as toys, gear and furniture. Plus it's mom-owned and operated, which has to count for something.

But to be honest, the main reason I'm blogging about her store is she sent me a coupon code to use - BLOGMAY31 - which gets you 20% off any and all items on a single order placed before 6/15/05. It's a pretty good deal, especially on the bigger items. 20% off can get you that sweet Oeuf Crib for $659.20, or the Oeuf Baby Lounger (pictured) for $78.40. I'm not getting any kickbacks here (and I can't personally vouch for the store), but a good deal is always worth sharing.

Use coupon code BLOGMAY31 at now through June 15.

At least it's Vivaldi.

Babyeinstein_activitycenter_1A while back I bought Madame a "stationary entertainer," not only so she would have something new to play with, but also so I could have a safe place to put her. After some debate I went with the one from Baby Einstein and now I'm really glad I did. I'm sure I'm not the only parent who tries to limit the amount of babytoys that make annoying bleeping noises, but sometimes it's hard to avoid them - like in an exersaucer (sorry, "stationary entertainer"). On the Baby Einstein version there is only one thing on it that makes noise, this colorful disc with five pictures of animals on them. When you hit one of the animals, it says the name in English, then after a second hit it says it in Spanish, and then a third consecutive hit gets you a song.

Normally it hasn't been a big deal, because by the time she accidentally got a song to play, she'd hit another animal, stopping the song. But last week my little genius has figured out the three consecutive hit rule, and she likes the music the best. Now she'll smack the duck (the picture in the center) over and over until the song plays - whereupon she'll immediately stop, smile, and rock back and forth. She loves it so much I can't turn the thing off, so I'm forced to listen to 30 seconds of Vivaldi's Spring over and over and over again. Which, all things considered, could be a lot worse.

Soft books.

I've written about tons of toys and other stuff my baby has enjoyed or is enjoying. But one thing I haven't mentioned that she's totally into is soft (or cloth) books. So here's the soft book best seller list in the MDD household (in no particular order).

Circus McGurkus by Dr. Seuss.
Peekaboo! I Love You! [Lamaze soft book]
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
On The Farm. My First Colors Book [Soft Sounds book]
Sunny Day Come & Play [Manhattan Baby]

First digital camera.

FirstshotOne thing I learned at CES, was that if you're an electronics company that isn't making an MP3 player or a digital camera, then you might as well admit you're doomed for failure. I guess other companies got the memo too - because Toray Ultrasuede (the people keeping baby spit-up off of couches across America) has teamed up with an industrial design firm to create the FirstShot, a digital camera for toddlers.

It's easy to make fun of this - kids taking pictures of the wall and stuff - but I think it's a cool idea. Encouraging kids to be creative, whether it's with finger paint or home electronics is what's important. And because it's digital it doesn't really matter how many pictures get taken of the wall or half a face. It would just be cool to see what toddlers think is worthy of taking a picture of. Hopefully it won't be too expensive when it comes out, though it's hard to imagine that it won't be.

FirstShot info at  (idea via Shiny Shiny)

Baby mobile phone.

BabyphoneWe happen to live near a junior high, and when school lets out lots of kids walk through our neighborhood on their way home. In noticed the other day that lots of them, maybe one in five, was talking on a cellphone. At first glance it looks weird to me - children walking down the street talking on the phone like they're negotiating big deals on their way to lunch - but hey, it's 2005, kids in junior high can certainly use a cell phone, and I need to remind myself not to be such an old dude.

Which leads me to the "i-Care Baby Cell Phone" (pictured). Designed for children aged 3-10, it has four pre-set auto dial buttons (on the feet and hands of the phone) and according to the website, "...will provide plenty of opportunity for the parent and their small children to chat each other whenever they desire." My gut reaction of course is, what is your child doing unsupervised before the age of 10 that they need a cell phone to give you a call? You can trust them to be out on their own but not trust them to be able to dial their own phone number? This would never happen, right?

Last week we were hanging out in the park when a little kid, maybe 9 years old (at the oldest I swear), came up to us and asked if we had a cell phone and if he could use it. My wife said of course and handed him hers. This was the conversation:

"Mom. {pause} Yeah. I didn't go to the movies. I'm at the park with my other friends. {pause} Arbors park. {pause} OK. {pause} Bye."

Sometimes it's really hard not to judge.

i-Care Baby Cell Phone from GuideTek (via Shiny Shiny)

Pimp my crib.

IpodcribYou know, people aren't doing enough modifications to baby stuff. I did my best with my Bugaboo cup holder a while back (which is still working well for me by the way), but the best one I've seen yet I saw on Daddy Types this morning. Some resourceful father hooked up some JBL On Tour portable speakers and an iPod full of lullabies to his kid's crib. My baby doesn't need any help getting to sleep, but I love the idea. The only thing I can see that's missing is a timer so the music stops eventually - but I suppose limited playlists would solve that problem. A remote so you could turn it off once your baby fell asleep (like a mobile) would be sweet too.

Anyway, get all the particulars at Daddy Types: MP3 Crib.

Rediscovering the swing.

SwingOnce Madame could sit up on her own and play, the Fisher Price Aquarium Wonders swing I loved so much got relegated to the corner. Then once I got her a "stationary entertainer" the swing was completely forgotten. But yesterday during an early evening freak out, I went to the old stand-by and damn if it didn't work. I put her in the swing, turned it on and she instantly calmed down. And after 10 minutes or so she took a quick disco nap, just like she used to a few months ago. If I had my act together that swing would have been in storage a few weeks ago, but now it's not going anywhere.

If I had to pick one optional baby thing that has been the most useful these past seven months, this is far and away it.

Get the Ocean Wonders Aquarium Swing for $91.99 from Amazon via the Modern Day Dad Store.

Billy Bob binky.

Billybob_pacifierOK. First let me say that this is NOT a "Binky™," which (in case their lawyers are reading) is a trademark of Playtex and should only be used accordingly (except for glaringly obvious blog post titles).

You've probably seen the super-realistic Billy Bob fake teeth somewhere. Well, like everyone else it seems, they've got a product for your kid too. Billy Bob pacifiers are regular pacifiers with ends that make it look like your kid's got a mouth full of disgusting choppers. They've got some more tame designs too (like baseballs or the "Lil' Piglet") but most of them are similar to Billy Bob teeth. The one pictured is the "What's Up Doc?" Crass, but kind of funny. (Oh, and someone tell Greg from Daddytypes they've got a camo pacifier too).

$12 at (about halfway down the page)


BabyplaneThis is the BabyPlane, a ridiculous-but-kind-of-cool baby spoon I saw in a shop over the weekend. It's a basic baby-sized stainless spoon with a plastic airplane wrapper. A cute idea (for a gift I guess), but I really loved the packaging for it more (not pictured unfortunately). Ever wonder who makes all that cool, random gift stuff in cool, random gift shops in the West Village or on Melrose? I guess it's companies like Stilic-Force. On their website they've got some interesting things (in a clever-French-design kind of way), but if you want to buy online you'll probably have to rock a Euro or two.

8.00 € at (Le Cybermarche!)

More punk rock baby stuff.

PunkpantsSports fans have loads of stuff to dress their kids up in, but what about the aging mosh pit veteran? The Cradle Rocks! is another online punk-rock-baby-boutique that wants to make sure your kid's first words are "Oi Oi!" Like they have loads of rock t-shirts and "one-pieces", but my favorites are the "punk essentials." These plaid pants would look ridiculous on you, but on your boy they would probably look badass.

Link via Boing Boing

Some product endorsements.

So like I blogged about a few days ago, I went out and got the Baby Einstein "stationary entertainer" (don't say exersaucer - or onesie - or binky) for Madame. A few days later and I can safely say she loves it. She really seems to love playing with the things on it, and will often stay interested for over an hour. It's sturdy, isn't overloaded with too many toys or electronic noises, and the primary color scheme is just nicer to have in the house.

In the spirit of more endorsements, Greg at Daddytypes has reprinted an funny email from Matthew Baldwin of Defective Yeti, who defends the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Home, and endorses some other products for your baby. He also warns about some other stuff you'll be happy to steer clear of.

Knock, Knock: We're From Defective Yeti, And We're Here To Help  [Daddytypes]

Time for a new car seat.

At 19 lbs. 2 oz., Madame is a mere 14 oz. from being too big for her infant car seat. The weird thing is this fact kind of snuck up on me. I think I spent so much time before and right after she was born trying to research the best stuff for her - car seats, swings etc - that somewhere in my brain I figured I was all done. But now my little baby isn't so little anymore, and I've got to do some new research. I guess with kids you are never done.

I looked up Consumer Reports' ratings for what I'm learning is called "convertible" car seats, and they recommend the Britax Roundabout, which is also one of the most expensive models, selling for around $200. A lot of the seats were very competitive in their rankings, but the Roundabout edged out the competition because it had "somewhat better side-impact protection." The cheaper Evenflo Titan also performed well.

I figure I'll go with the Roundabout. Car seats don't seem like the sort of things you should bargain shop for if you can help it, and it gets overwhelmingly high Amazon feedback. Does anyone have any opinions or advice that I'm missing?

Exersaucering decisions.

Babyeinstein_activitycenterIn the post-Christmas haze that my household has become, the baby stuff we have is just now beginning to take over. I'm not slipping on roller skates or stepping on Legos like some sort of cartoon (yet), but the blankets to roll around on, activity gym, baby swing, and seemingly endless amounts of toys all take up room. I realize I only have myself to blame, but it's starting to get out of hand.

I suppose all of this is why I was resistant to getting an "excersaucer" (which is apparently an Evenflo trademark) or "stationary entertainer" (as Babies R Us classifies them) for the baby. There's no way I'm getting her a walker which just seems dangerous, but something where she can safely hang out (no pun intended) and play while I deal with dinner sounds pretty good to me. It's going to take up even more room, but I'm now to the point where I think the good is outweighing the bad.

So I did some research on-line which wasn't very helpful (I think they created the expression "take it with a grain of salt" specifically for Amazon feedback), and I went to my local Babies R Us to check them out. I think I'm going to go with the Baby Einstein Caterpillar Discovery & Play Center, mostly because it doesn't have a million things on it like the Evenflow Exersaucer, and the sounds it makes are in multiple languages (and I'm definitely down with that). The guy-who-used-to-be-in-a-band in me wanted the Leapfrog Learn & Groove Activity Station (dude - it's got a kiddie turntable), but the dad in me realized after a day or two those noises would drive me nuts.

So the Baby Einstein version it is. I'll let you know what I think of it in a few weeks.

Urine luck.

At our house there are two things that save the day all the time during change-the-diaper time that we had no idea we would need before we had the baby.

The first are waterproof changing pads that we put on her changing table over the terry cloth cover. When she (occasionally) has an accident mid-change, it more often than not takes the whole mess. Cleanup is way easier - just wipe it up and sanitize.

The second is way more simple but equally important: paper towels. Get a roll and keep it handy in the baby's room, because when the baby pees all over the waterproof pad, it's going to take more than baby wipes to clean it up. And keep reminding yourself that urine is sterile. Poop? Not so much.