A star is born
There are few things more enthralling to a child than the sight of his own face. (Relax, it’s not narcissistic; it’s totally natural and developmentally appropriate.) The photo supersite Shutterfly.com lets you encourage healthy egotism with its CenterStage collection of books that cast your toddler in the starring role. Your part couldn’t be simpler: Just upload a favorite headshot and some basic details (such as birthday and hometown) that will be woven into the story, and Shutterfly puts it all together in a beautiful, full-color hardbound book. Help your child develop a lifelong love of reading with a personalized story featuring him alongside popular characters such as Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, the Sesame Street gang and more. (You can customize posters and puzzles, too.) From $39.99 at shutterfly.com.
Wheel good times
Once kids master the art of toddling, they seem to develop a need for speed. This, of course, is where wheels come in handy. The award-winning Mini Kickboard Scooter is perfect for novice riders, with a flexible kickboard that’s low to the ground (making for easy on-and-off hops) and wide enough for both feet to fit on—ideal for coasting. Rather than twisting the handlebars to turn, the “Mini Kick” features a unique and intuitive lean-and-steer design that allows kids to use their body weight to control steering. And with two wheels in front and one in the back, the Mini Kick offers exceptional stability—a little perk that nervous moms will appreciate. Weighing in at just over three pounds, the Mini Kick is light enough to tote along on spontaneous outings. $74.99; kickboardusa.com.
Despite the teetering piles of toys scattered about the house, every child will eventually utter those two words that every parent dreads: “I’m bored.” To the rescue: What Shall We Do Today? 60 Creative Craft Projects for Kids by Catherine Woram (Ryland Peters & Small, 2009), a delightful collection of creative projects that will keep kids happily occupied for days. Divided by season, the book features more than 60 ways to inspire tiny imaginations. Projects include papier-mâché, simple sewing, decoupage, stenciling and more, each with detailed instructions, how-to photos and a handy supply list. Watch with delight as your child paints giant frog rocks and flowerpots, cultivates her first herb garden and builds a homemade bird feeder out of a pumpkin shell. Put down the remote control and pick up this book. $19.95; rylandpeters.com.
Wondering if it’s time to introduce your toddler to the computer, but not sure where to start? KneeBouncers.com is the perfect (safe, free, tot-friendly) launchpad. Designed specifically for the youngest surfers, the site features games he can “play” by simply tapping on the keyboard. He’ll learn critical cause-and-effect skills while playing peek-a-boo, strumming on a virtual guitar or animating a toy train. With each keystroke, he makes something marvelous happen—lights flash, horns honk, characters appear and disappear. Until he perfects his mouse-wielding skills, KneeBouncers will delight him in a fun and engaging way.
What’s the good word?
Finding kid-friendly, educational entertainment that’s palatable for adults isn’t easy. That’s why we’re grateful to the genius creative team behind Readeez. Unlike any educational DVDs we’ve ever seen, Readeez features fun characters and catchy tunes that even mom and dad will find themselves humming before long. Learning happens almost accidentally; sight words appear—syllable by syllable—as the stories and songs progress. Cute and clever, Readeez features just enough adult edge to keep parents from wanting to pull their hair out even after the thirteenth rousing round. Visit readeez.com to check out the free samples or order the DVD ($16.98).
On your mark!
The sweater you lost at preschool. The lunch tote that disappeared at the park. Tired of trying to keep tabs on your toddler’s stuff? Mabel’s Labels make it a snap. The customizable sticky labels, iron-ons and bag tags are a darling and durable way to mark your tot’s territory. Stick them in clothes and shoes, on toys, around bottles and inside diaper bags and there will never be a question of what belongs to whom. Labels come in a rainbow of colors and can hold up to 20 characters. Choose your own symbol (options include princesses, puppy dogs, peace signs, soccer balls and many more) to complete the simple personalization process. From $18.50 for a pack of six metal hang tabs or 45 sticky labels; mabel.ca.
6 great toddler products we can’t live without.