As parents, we all need help from time to time, whether we’re trying to get a nutritious dinner on the table or rock the baby to sleep.
Thankfully, moms and dads can turn to the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) for Parenting Resources, which this year include 20 Gold Award-winning products, media, gear and resources hand-picked by our prestigious team of expert judges and parent testers.
Looking for the best diaper rash remedy? Need a little boost for your child’s potty training? Wondering how to make a terrarium or build a zipline? The top picks showcased here – and the 30 Honors winners and six “Rising Stars” described online at NAPPAawards.com – provide solutions to some of our biggest parenting challenges, addressing everything from newborn needs to teen topics and new moms to nerdy dads.
Baby Jogger; $499; www.babyjogger.com.
Strollers have come a long way, Baby, especially this innovative model that is both functional and fashionable. Strolling can easily move from Mom’s height to Dad’s with a simple adjustment, and the shock-absorbent tires make for a smooth ride. This buggy can also go from a single to a double (extra accessories required), and its compact design means you’ll have a better chance fitting through the door or store aisle. “The design is beautifully slick,” says Elizabeth Hiatt, parent tester and mom to 1- and 2-year-old boys. “It appeals to the modern mom who wants to push her children around, but still look sharp doing it.”
Trend Lab LLC; $12.95; www.trend-lab.com.
Parents often abandon cloth diapers once their babies become toddlers, but this save-the-planet version is fully adjustable and designed to grow with your child. “This diaper is useful for the entire diapering life of the child (and other children),” says Carolina Jamison, parent tester and mom to a 2-1/2-year-old, “and is the most absorbent diaper I have tried.” The cloth diaper features three rows of snaps and a gender-specific liner that easily snaps in.
Levana Safe N’See Digital Video Baby Monitor
SVAT Electronics; $199.99; www.mylevana.com.
Peek in on the baby without having to tiptoe into the nursery with this multifunction gadget. The video function lets you see what’s going on in the crib, and you can listen to the babbling, too. There’s even a “Talk-to-Baby Intercom” to offer soothing words or to let Baby know you’re on the way. And the temperature feature helps you make sure room conditions are optimal for snoozing.
mamaRoo Infant Seat
4moms; $199.99; www.4moms.com.
What do you get when you cross a robot with a bouncy seat? You get the innovative mamaRoo. Designers used motion-tracking devices to collect data on how moms rock and comfort their babies. The result is a seat on a “coordinated motion robotic platform” that’s durable, quiet and comfy. Babies can gaze at and play with the gizmos on the toy bar (featuring art by classical artists) or chill to some white noise or nature sounds – or you can hook up your own mp3 player. The washable fabric cover comes in six subtle color combinations and is detachable and washable.
Britax USA; $279.99; www.britaxusa.com.
This car seat is loaded with safety, comfort and convenience features, including deep side walls lined with energy-absorbing EPP foam, rear- and forward-facing recline options for car sleepers, an easy-to-remove cover and a quick-adjust harness system for easy height adjustments that don’t require rethreading. The seat – rated for 5-40 lbs. rear-facing and up to 70 lbs. forward-facing – features “SafeCells™” designed to compress and lower the center of gravity in the event of a crash, lessening the forward propulsion of the seat during impact. “With the improved harness height adjuster and the deeper sides,” says Nicole Perlman, parent tester and mom to twin 11-month-old boys, “they took what was one of the safest/best car seats on the market and made it better.”
Oh, That Baby! Ltd.; $20; www.toofeze.com.
Little ones can sink their gums into this teething toy that doubles as a keepsake. Just dunk Toofeze into a cup of ice or the refrigerator, and the stainless-steel teething surface cools quickly to provide fast relief from teething pain. The easy-to-grip silicone handle is a good fit for a baby’s tiny grasp, too. Once all the teeth are in, the stainless-steel disk can be engraved, and you tuck the Toofeze into the drawstring bag and place it with your baby’s keepsakes.
For Toddlers & Preschoolers
Johnson & Johnson; $4.59 each; www.johnsonsbaby.com/naturals.
The Johnson’s brand is a standard when it comes to kids’ cleanup time, but parents are on the lookout these days for natural products that are easy to use, eco-friendly and get the job done. Both parent and kid testers especially liked Johnson’s Kids 2-in-1 Hand & Face Foaming Wash from the natural line, which is free of parabens, dyes, animal by-products, phthalates and essential oils (meaning it’s fragrance-free).
Little Looster, LLC; $39.99; www.littlelooster.com.
This simple, horseshoe-shaped stool makes it easy for little potty trainers to step onto the toilet – without help – and sit in comfort. And the toilet-compatible design keeps it from getting kicked around the bathroom when adults and older kids have to go. “I tried this out with my 4-year-old, and he loved it. He was able to sit on the toilet all by himself,” says NAPPA safety judge Mandi Summers.
Scooter & Me DVD Series
Move With Me Action Adventures; $108.95; www.move-with-me.com.
Kids can follow the adventures of The Boy and his shiny red Scooter – while getting some exercise – with this entertaining, nine-story DVD series. While kids of all abilities watch The Boy make friends and pick up new skills, they learn focus, flexibility, balance and coordination. The lessons, self-confidence and strength that kids gain by watching this series are easily applied to real life.
For Big Kids
The Budding Gardener
By Mary B. Rein; Gryphon House, 2011; $9.95; www.gryphonhouse.com.
This little book (only 70 well-illustrated pages) is jam-packed with everything you need to introduce your child to gardening, whether your thumb is green or not. You can start small with a mini indoor greenhouse or terrarium, go wild with a butterfly garden or try to grow enough flowers to sell on the street corner instead of lemonade. The Budding Gardener is one of those rare books that appeals to children of a wide variety of ages – and their parents.
ThinkingMoves; $59.95; www.thinkingmoves.com.
This innovative, multimedia product includes a DVD, a music CD, textured puzzle cards and a User’s Guide, all designed to simultaneously engage a child’s visual, auditory and motor planning skills and help calm the mind and improve mood and focus. The idea originated with a mom (product co-creator Roberta Scherf) seeking ways to help her child, who had been diagnosed with sensory integration disorder. MeMoves is accessible to people of all ages and abilities, and can be a valuable tool both at home or in the classroom. But it’s particularly helpful for children with autism, ADD/ADHD and depression and anxiety disorders.
Success with Uppercase Letters: Grades K-1, Sylvan Learning/Random House; $12.99; www.sylvanlearningbookstore.com.
Kids get a leg up on their writing skills with this colorful and creative workbook, designed to help develop visual memory and, ultimately, handwriting that their teachers can read. Kids practice and learn through the Name Game, Write Around the Wheel, Sign Sightings and other fun letter and word play. The emphasis on just uppercase letters, one parent tester notes, is a good way to help a child focus and not get overwhelmed by too many lessons. “As an educator, I liked the fun, innovative way the workbook presented itself,” says NAPPA education judge Michelle Davis Seyller. “The illustrations on each page made the child want to continue working with it.”
For Tweens & Teens
Diet Drama: Feed Your Body! Move Your Body! Love Your Body!
By Nancy Redd; Gotham Books, 2010; $22.50; www.penguin.com.
This New York Times bestselling author brings a light touch to the serious topic of diets and body image for young women in this approachable food and exercise book. The result, says nutritionist and NAPPA judge Sheila Globus, is a book that’s right on the money and “shows them that getting a handle on their health is doable, no matter who they are or what they weigh.”
World Without Fish
By Mark Kurlansky, illustrated by Frank Stockton; Workman Publishing, 2011; $16.95; www.workman.com.
This book has been called the Silent Spring for a new generation, and that’s not an exaggeration. Unlike most ecological books for young readers, it’s neither preachy nor condescending, but uses straightforward, powerful writing to pull the reader into caring about the perilous state of our oceans and sea life. The nontraditional format, including sections in graphic-novel form, keeps this fact-filled book lively. And Kurlansky brings you right into the worlds he’s writing about, whether under-sea with the fish or above with the fisherman.
TeenLife Media; Free; www.teenlife.com.
A unique, much-needed publication, affiliated with an info-packed website, Teen Life provides teenagers and their parents with resources for recreation, education and community service. The Guide to Gap Year Programs, for example, is an excellent blend of essays, listings and resources about the growing trend among young adults to participate in a service or adventure year after high school. The website section on summer jobs and internships, like all the writing in Teen Life, is geared to a teen audience without trying too hard to be hip.
For Mom & Dad
The Baby Nurse Bible: Secrets Only a Baby Nurse Can Tell You About Having and Caring for Your Baby
By Carole Kramer Arsenault, RN, IBCLC; The Experiment, LLC, 2011; $15.95; http://theexperimentpublishing.com.
The next-best thing to having your mom or a live-in nurse is this practical and comprehensive tome, designed to answer a new parent’s burning questions about pregnancy, babies and postpartum issues. Arsenault, a longtime labor and delivery nurse at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, compiled this book, which parenting judge Johanna Myers McChesney gives top marks for its Q&A format and solid advice.
The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries
By Michele Borba, Ed.D.; Jossey-Bass, an Imprint of John Wiley & Sons, 2009; $19.95; www.josseybass.com.
Despite its size (almost 700 pages), this big book is easy to navigate, thanks to its complete index and logical organization. Borba earns her status as a celebrity parent educator as she tackles everyday issues like emotional oversensitivity and manners, as well as extreme situations like substance use and learning disabilities. The introduction sets the stage by explaining how people change, and the focus throughout the book is on a powerful concept that Borba calls “the change to parent for.”
Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share
By Ken Denmead; Gotham Books, 2010; $17; www.penguingroup.com.
Let your geek flag fly! Ken Denmead has turned his GeekDad blog for Wired.com into a book packed with cool activities. Whether you think of yourself as a geek or not, you’ll be saying “gee whiz” to many of these ideas. Denmead proudly takes on the mantle of geeky dad, which to him means having a big imagination, loving science and how things work, and never fully growing up. Projects are broken down by cost, difficulty and duration, so it’s easy to decide whether to take on the cyborg jack-o-lanterns, homemade fireflies, nighttime kite flying or light-up wallet made from duct tape.
Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves
By Naomi Aldort; Book Publishers Network; $18; www.authenticparent.com.
Naomi Aldort is an eloquent proponent of the simple idea that children need love and validation, rather than control and behavior modification. The result is the disappearance of power struggles and the emergence of closeness and cooperation. Aldort teaches parents how to listen effectively when children express strong feelings, and how to recover their ability to love, validate and offer comfort to their children when they, themselves, are upset.
Simple Foods for Busy Families
By Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC, and Tracee Yablon-Brenner, RD, CHHC; Real Food Moms, 2009; $19.99; www.RealFoodMoms.com.
Getting meals on the table can be one of a parent’s most daunting daily tasks – which is why parent testers and judges gave this 256-page, nicely illustrated book the thumbs up. “A food book with good visuals is a big plus for me,” says NAPPA judge and nutritionist Sheila Globus. Nutrition educators Jeannette Bessinger and Tracee Yablon-Brenner, aka “the Real Food Moms,” offer practical recipes and bring a healthy, holistic approach to the art of feeding the family. The authors explore everything from how to reverse common cravings to a tantalizing array of simple, nutritious meals.
There’s More Online
Check out all of the 2011 NAPPA Parenting Resources Gold and Honors winners for more great gifts and sanity-saving resources! Head online to www.NAPPAawards.com.
Meet the Judges
NAPPA salutes the team of specialty judges, family testers and veteran parenting editors who, under lead judge Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., named the winners of the 2011 NAPPA Parenting Resources competition. Cohen, a former NAPPA winner himself (for his bestselling book Playful Parenting), is a licensed psychologist, author and nationally recognized speaker who specializes in children’s play and play therapy. This is his sixth year with NAPPA.
Fifteen specialty judges and staff from leading institutions across North America joined NAPPA this year, including:
Finally, dozens of family testers also played a key role in choosing this year’s Gold and Honors winners. We thank all of our judges and testers!