A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Like conscientious messengers returning to our tribe from the far reaches of the desert, we’re here to tell our tales from the 2017 ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas. Our directed mission: to uncover smart, useful, innovative brands making a positive impact on parents’ lives.


In no particular order, here are 10 standouts that caught our eye:

 

KudoBanz

Check ’em out

There is a ton of well-founded research and data that supports the use of positive reinforcement combined with recognizing good behavior when it happens. It’s considered one of the most effective methods for improving a child’s behavior. Sticker reward charts are a great way to implement this action.

Kudo Banz is stepping up the game, however, with a fun, wearable reward system that’s always with you. The 1, 2, and 3 on the wristband have attachable “Kudos” that come in a wide variety of characters, from dinosaurs to superheros. This shows your child their progress and motivates them to earn their next Kudo with good behavior.

Tech Bonus: Once they reach the third level, your kids can open the accompanying app and scan the Kudo to unlock their personalized reward wheel and move up a level in the Kudo World. This keeps kids motivated over the long term.

Lilu

Check ’em out

For mothers who pump, an astonishing 62 percent are unsatisfied with the way their pumps work according to the Journal of Human Lactation. Chief complaints include: discomfort, pain from pumping, as well as insufficient and slower milk extraction than when breastfeeding. Additionally, 66 percent of moms massage their breasts while pumping in an effort to express more milk.

Lilu is the first pumping bra to offer hands-free, automated breast massage, enhancing your pumping session and boosting your production. Little inflatable pockets generate massage and compression motions that gently stimulate milk flow from further back in the breast toward the front. This enables mothers to extract up to 50 percent more milk per session in a shorter period of time, all without needing to use their hands.

Cake Maternity

Check ’em out

Few people understand that nursing bras have a lot to do with breast health. Cake Maternity is on a mission to educate women and ensure breast health during this delicate time in a mother’s life. Part of every consumer experience addresses why and when it’s best to be fitted, as well as what bras are recommended by stage.

Cake understands that the pregnancy and breastfeeding journey isn’t easy and, even more importantly, that mothers are women first. It’s with this mindset that Cake respects and celebrates the uniqueness of each mother’s body. Cake products are fashionable, functional, and resourceful, reinforcing a woman’s essential selfhood after the birth of her baby.

This maternity and nursing bra company is setting a new tone and raising the stakes for the whole industry.

Hasegawa Ladders

Check ’em out

Feeling around on top of the fridge for extra breastmilk-storage bags, or reaching that recipe book on the top shelf of the pantry, or helping your toddler reach the sink to brush his teeth…all these daily tasks could use a little boost.

Sure, you could go to Lowes and buy a step stool used by painters and contractors, but do you really want a clunky eyesore cluttering up your HGTV-styled home? (Okay, you have a kid, so it’s probably a mess, but you still appreciate and aim for a thoughtful aesthetic.)

Why not go for an upgrade and try the Purill Step Stool from Hasegawa Ladders. This brand has been creating beautiful, home-friendly ladders and step stools in Japan since the 1950s. Now available on the U.S. market, their designs are sexy, durable, fun, and colorful.

The Purill Step Stool is the ideal family friendly option for a little lift at home. It’s like a new pet that you don’t actually have to take care of.

Malarkey Kids

Check ’em out

Beware the Munch Monster! This nocturnal beast can easily be identified by its massive amounts of drool, cranky disposition, guttural whelps, and a masochistic gnawing of its own fingers and hands. Have you ever had a run in with this creature?

When your baby begins to cut that first tooth, you, too, will encounter the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” tendencies of your sweet child. While time is the ultimate cure, the Malarkey Kids Munch Mitt will ease the struggle.

This wearable teething mitten textured for chewing is sensorially crinkley, aesthetically interesting, and helps prevent drool-induced dry skin. Avoid the knock-offs, because there’s only one true Munch Mitt.

Love Bug Probiotics

Check ’em out

Our bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are the good version: live bacteria and yeasts fundamentally necessary for a healthy gut. Pasteurization and refrigeration trends over the last 50 years have practically eliminated probiotics from the typical American diet and, in some cases, even added antibiotics, which kill off the good bacteria.

Probiotic-rich food sources such as yogurt and kombucha can help restore our healthy bacteria count and lead to a stronger immune system, improved digestion, increased energy, healthier skin, and weight loss. Love Bug Probiotics takes your family’s gut health to a whole new level.

This company has developed a robust line of products containing only the best probiotic strains. Their scientifically backed expertise has crafted supplements targeting specialized needs and health concerns, including products aimed at prenatal health, urinary health, tiny tummies, symptoms of IBS, and cold and flu.

Protect and nurture the health of your whole family with Love Bug Probiotics.

Kizingo Kids

Check ’em out

Kids who can successfully self-feed are less likely to become choosy eaters and are more adventurous in their eating, trying a greater variety of foods. They’re also less likely to overeat.

U.S. obesity rates have tripled over the last 30 years, so it’s more important than ever to create positive eating behaviors at a young age. Research has shown that the crucial period for establishing good eating and food habits begins when kids are learning to self-feed. Patterns created during this period influence eating behaviors into adulthood.

Traditional kid-sized utensils are a poor match for little hands, so Kizingo Kids has developed an innovative tool that helps children learn to self-feed successfully. Curved by design, these spoons promote independence and encourage mealtime success.

Kizingo Kids spoons are beautiful, affordable, and they come in both right and left hand models.

Oneberrie

Check ’em out

Bathtime is a fun, special way to connect with your baby. But when you’ve both had enough and are ready to dry off and head to bed, your infant’s slippery little body can make for a treacherous and oftentimes very wet experience.

Instead of pinning a towel between your chin and chest or even between your teeth, Oneberrie has an innovative new solution: a towel that buttons around mama or papa’s neck, freeing both hands and keeping everyone dry and happy.

The towel adapts to grow with your baby as well. For newborns, wear the towel vertically to wrap him from underneath. For infants, wear the towel horizontally to wrap baby up like a burrito. And you’ll win the day with your toddler by letting her wear the playfully designed towels like a superhero cape!

Swipensnap

Check ’em out

Diaper rash ointment is a necessity when faced with 8,000-plus diaper changes before your little one is potty trained. The process seems simple enough, but it takes two hands, and some ointments and creams are oily or sticky, requiring you to wipe your hands clean before touching anything or getting your baby dressed.

Swipensnap has created an affordable applicator that attaches to most tubes of ointment. It’s soft and flexible, allowing for even distribution on your baby’s bottom. The suction cup lid acts as a dock that can be snapped in and out of the applicator, so you can apply the ointment using just one hand and keep you, your clothes, and the changing table, clean!

Perhaps most importantly, this means your free hand can protect your baby from rolling off the changing table.

Cocoon Cam

Check ’em out

Imagine you’ve just returned home from the hospital with your new baby, the most precious creature in your parent universe. Newborns spend most of their early hours at home sleeping, and you spend many of those same hours just staring in awe at the newest member of your family, watching every tiny breath.

For those moments when you need to step away, and as your child continues to grow, baby monitors can help keep tabs. Some monitors deliver sound and video to you in another room, while others are baby-wearable devices that track vital signs. But how would you sleep with a device attached to your ankle? And what happens to the expensive onesie with built in vital sign technology when the inevitable diaper blowout occurs?

Enter the surprisingly affordable Cocoon Cam. Created by engineers from Tesla and Apple, Cocoon Cam uses computer vision technology (much like that used in a self-parking car) to create a real-time visualization of your baby’s breathing activity. The breathing graph is sent to your smartphone along with instant alerts, so you’re always aware if anything needs your attention.

You will get a good night’s sleep, knowing your little one is safe, sound, and protected.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

You might also like:

I can vividly remember the last time I remember feeling truly rested. I was on vacation with my family, and my dad and I had started a tradition of going to sleep at 10 p.m., then waking up at 10 a.m. to go for a run. After five days of twelve hours of sleep a night, I remember actually pausing and thinking, "I am truly not at all tired right now!"

That was probably 15 years ago.

Of course, being tired pre-kids and being tired post-kids are two entirely different beasts. Pre-kids, tiredness was almost a badge of pride. It meant you had stayed up late dancing with friends or at a concert with your boyfriend. It meant you had woken up early to hit a spin class before gliding into work, hair still damp from your shower, for a morning meeting. Being tired meant you were generally killing it at life—and I was still young enough that, with a little concealer, I could look like it.

Tired post-kids is a whole other animal.

Tired post-kids means you probably still went to bed at a reasonable hour, but you're still exhausted. Maybe you even slept in past sunrise... but you're still exhausted. You may not have worked out in weeks... but you're still exhausted. And staying out late dancing with your girlfriends? (I mean... is that real life? Was it ever?) Nope, didn't do that. But—you guessed it!—you're still exhausted.

Sometimes I look at my husband and say, "I think if I could sleep for about five days, then I would feel rested again."

But considering the average new mom loses almost two months of sleep in her child's first year of life, even that is probably a low estimate of what I really need.

Because being a mom is exhausting.

It's exhausting always putting someone else's needs above your own. I often find myself actually giving my daughter the food off my plate (because, when you're two, mom's meal must be better even if you're eating the exact same thing).

Or I'll sacrifice sneaking my own nap to lie uncomfortably with her on the couch because it means she sleeps an extra 30 minutes.

Or I'll carry her up and down flights of stairs she is perfectly capable of scaling on her own because, well, she's tired or it's just quicker than nagging her to hurry up all the time.

I often end the day bone-tired, shocked at the physical exertion of just keeping this little person alive.

It's exhausting remembering all the things. The mental load of motherhood is so real, and sometimes I'm not sure it won't crush me.

I schedule and remember the doctor appointments, keep the fridge stocked and plan the meals, notice when my husband is low on white shirts and wash and fold the laundry, add the playdates and the date nights to the calendar, and add any assortment of to-dos to my day because, well, I'm the parent at home, so I must have time, right?

And when I drop one of the thousand balls I'm juggling, I writhe under the guilt of failing at my responsibility.

It's exhausting not getting enough sleep. The sleep gap doesn't end after baby's first year.

Studies have shown that parents lose as much as six months of sleep in their child's first two years of life. That sounds unbelievable at first...but I completely believe it.

Because sometimes I stay up later than I should just to get a few minutes of "me" time. Because sometimes my sleep-trained daughter still wakes up in the middle of the night with a nightmare or because she's sick or for no real reason at all and needs me to soothe her back to sleep.

Because sometimes I'm so busy trying to keep it all together mentally that I don't know how to turn my own brain off to get to sleep. And because sometimes (almost always) my daughter wakes up earlier than I would like her to and the day starts over before I'm ready.

It's exhausting maintaining any other relationship while being a mom. I try not to neglect my marriage. I try not to neglect my friendships. I try to make time for friendly interaction with my coworkers. I try to be there for my congregation. I try to keep all these connections alive and nurtured, but the fact is that some days my nurture is completely used up.

It's exhausting doing all of the above while being pregnant. Okay, this one might not resonate for every mom, but we all know being pregnant is hard. Being pregnant with a toddler? I'm shocked it's not yet an Olympic event. (I'm not sure if we'd all get gold medals or just all fall asleep at the starting gun.)

Most days, I'm so tired and busy I honestly forget that I am pregnant, only to be reminded at the end of the day when I finally collapse on the couch and the little one in my uterus wakes up to remind me. My body is doing amazing things, sure—and I have the exhaustion to show for it.

Of course, I know that this is just an exhausting season of life. One day, one not-so-far-off day, my children will be a bit more grown and be able to get their own breakfast in the morning. One day, they'll actually want to sleep in, and I'll be the one opening their curtains in the morning to start the day (maybe before they're really ready).

One day, they'll always walk up and down the stairs themselves and will stop stealing my food and I'll be able to nap without making sure they are asleep or with a sitter. One day, they won't need me to remember all the things.

And the really wild part? Just thinking about that day makes me miss these days, just a bit.

So, yes, I'm tired. I'm always tired. But I'm grateful too. Grateful I get to have these days. Grateful I get to have this life.

But also really grateful for those days I get to nap, too.

You might also like:

For the first couple years of a child's life, their feet grow so rapidly that they typically need a new shoe size every two to three months (so, no, you're not imagining how many shoes you've been buying lately!).

Fortunately, things tend to slow down as they start walking and hit school age. Even so, it's important to make sure they're wearing the right size for maximum comfort and healthy development.

That's why we teamed up with the experts at Rack Room Shoes for tips on helping the whole family get back to school on the right foot.

1. Get professionally fitted at least once a year.

We love online shopping as much as anyone, but for the health of your child's feet, it's worth it to make at least an annual trip to a store to get them properly sized on a Brannock Device (yep, those old-school sizers you remember as a kid are still the most reliable indicators of foot length and width!). Back to school is a great time to plan a visit to a store with trained associates who can help ensure your little one is getting the right fit.

2. Remember not all feet (or shoes) are created equally.

Most babies have naturally pudgier feet that thin out as they get older, and many kids need a wider or narrower shoe than their peers. Visiting a store and speaking with a trained associate can help you gauge which shoe brand will best suit your child. Once you have that benchmark, shopping online will be easier.

3. Get good closure.

Shoe closure, that is. Nowadays, there's a variety of ways to fasten kids shoes, from slip-ons to velcro to elastic laces. Provide your child with a few options to find the closure that works best for you both.

4. Watch for tell-tale signs your child has outgrown their shoes.

Children will often be the last ones to tell you their favorite shoes are uncomfortable. If your child is tripping or walking funny, it may be time to size up.

5. Try the push-down toe method.

Think your kid has outgrown their kicks? Push down on the toe of their shoe with your thumb to see how much wiggle room they have. The ideal size is to have about half a thumb's width between the tip of the toe and the end of the shoe. (That space equates to about half a size.)

6. Pick a style they'll want to put on. (Here are some of our favorites!)

Most moms know the struggle of getting kids out the door in the morning—the right pair of shoes can help cut down on the (literal) foot-dragging. Opt for a fun style (consider shopping for their favorite color or a light-up design) that they'll be begging to wear every day. (But feel free to buy a second pair that's more your style too!)

You'll love that they're classic converse. They'll love the peek of pink.

Converse Girls Maddie, $44

BUY

7. Don't forget the sneakers.

Whether they're running through the recess or racing in P.E., school-age children need a pair of well-fitting, durable sneakers. Be sure to get them professionally fitted to ensure nothing slows them down on the playground.

8. Understand the size breakdowns.

Expert retailers like Rack Room Shoes break up sizing by Baby, Toddler, Little Kid, and Big Kid to make it easier to find the right section for your child. For boys, there's no size break between kids shoes and men's shoes. Girls, though, can cross over into women's shoes from size 4 (in girls) on—a girl's size 4 is a women's size 5.5 or 6.

Looking for more advice? Step into a Rack Room Shoes store near you or shop online. With a "Buy One, Get One 50% off" policy, you can make sure the whole family will put their best foot forward this back-to-school season. (We had to!)

Who knew Amazon had so many dreamy nursery must-haves? Maybe you have a friend or family member about to have a baby or you're preparing for your new bundle of joy—either way, you can save tons on grabbing some essentials on Prime Day.

We've rounded up our favorite nursery items from basics, like cribs and changing tables, to the essentials you never knew you needed (hint: lots of storage!).

1. 6-drawer dresser

This gorgeous dresser has plenty of space for baby's clothing and accessories—and will transition seamlessly to a big kid room one day. Even better? The top is large enough to be used as a changing table. The shade of white is great for any gender, too!

Dresser, Amazon, $239.99 ($329.99)

BUY HERE

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:


Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.