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Best in Show: Our Top Picks From The ABC Kids Expo

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We recently visited the ABC (All Baby and Child) Kids Expo in Las Vegas. It was a fantastic experience. The ABC show has been around for a number of years and features thousands of vendors showing off their latest and greatest offerings to buyers and the media. Most of the vendors were focused on pregnancy or the first couple years of life, so the majority of these products are designed for that phase of your family’s life.


We spent time with a bunch of these vendors and did Facebook Live segments with some of the brands we thought were doing really interesting things. This Top 10 roundup includes some of these folks and some others we just happened to think were onto something special. Without further adieu, here’s the list.

Best in Show

 Austlen Baby Co. – Entourage Stroller

Our number one spot goes to Austlen Baby Co. They have a new stroller called the Entourage and the thing is rad. It’s expandable, can carry a couple hundred pounds, and they have so many thoughtful accessories that can turn this stroller into just about anything. We got a full demo of the Entourage from the company CEO and her passion for creating so much more than a way to push your baby around really shined through.

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Although it works in just about every scenario, we imagine that the entourage would be most appealing to folks living in a urban environment who spend a lot of time walking from place to place doing errands. Hands down, this stroller is the most versatile baby transport system we’ve encountered to date.

Other awesome products

There were so many great offerings at the show that we could have had our top 30 picks, but we’ve added these nine other products that we think are tapping into something neat.

Bloomlife At Home Contraction Tracker

Bloomlife is a pregnancy tracker that’s focused on tracking contractions. This can be super helpful with all sorts of things, not to mention helping to determine with your obstetrician if you’re experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions.

It’s a stick-on and reusable wearable that uses some pretty unique technology coupled with a mobile app. It allows for more than one user, so your partner can also stay in the loop. Not only is the product really sweet, but these guys are just starting out, so now is the time to get involved in their beta program if you’re pregnant. We were genuinely impressed with their excitement about what they’re doing and their understanding that the technology they’ve developed could have big-time implications as they grow. Nice job guys!

Giggle – Lotions and Potions

Giggle has been around for a while, but when we met with CEO Beth Guastella we were blown away by her enthusiasm for what they have going on right now. They recently launched a new product line of lotions and potions for babies and toddlers.

We tried out the sunscreen and it rubbed into the skin so well it was amazing. Most kid sunscreens spread about as easily as refrigerated butter, but putting this stuff on won’t send you into battle mode with your toddler. The packaging looks amazing and will fit in nicely with any bathroom decor. Plus, the products smell great – nothing overwhelming, just pleasant.

WavHello – SoundBub

WavHello is a cool company that makes all sorts of audio goodies for your little sprout – like their belly buds that allow you to play music to your unborn baby directly through your belly.

The product we really liked was the SoundBub. This cute portable Bluetooth music player connects to any Bluetooth-capable device so you can play tunes for your little one while they sleep or while you’re on the go. With its VoiceShare mobile app, you can record your voice and play it through the SoundBub remotely. We thought this was super cool for the on-the-go parent who wishes they were there for bedtime and soothing.

Not only does SoundBub help with on-the-go connection, it’s also almost indestructible. Your little one will love chewing on the ears, hands, and feet of their favorite character.

Summer Infant – LIV Cam

Parent Co. is based in Burlington, VT and we’re known up in these parts for our active lifestyle – lots of hiking, biking, skiing, and of course camping. This portable and rechargeable monitor from Summer Infant is perfect for the new family that doesn’t want to lug around their plug-in monitor and those brick-sized plugs that generally come with them.

Simply download the app and connect the camera to get audio and video directly to your phone without the need for WiFi or a cell connection. It has a four-hour battery life which hopefully is enough to get your little one down or stay in touch during a nap.

We love this monitor because of its many practical applications for new parents. It’s perfect for a trip to the in-laws, a visit to a friend’s house, or a night out in the woods.

Life in Play Company – ToteSavvy

We met Lauren Kutting, the founder and CEO of Life in Play Company and she gave us a demo of her simple but brilliant idea called ToteSavvy – a bag insert that turns any handbag or backpack into a diaper bag instantly.

This nifty insert comes in big and small sizes and allows moms to carry their favorite bag without sacrificing style for utility. It’s not always mom carrying the diaper bag around, so this invention is perfect for dads, too. Simply pop ToteSavvy into your messenger bag or backpack and you’re ready to roll.

We really loved this because it’s such a simple solution to something that all couples deal with. It makes transferring your baby (and all the stuff that goes along with your baby) between parents quick, easy, and stylish. Nice work Lauren!

Just Born – Sparkle Collection

Just Born has been a trusted manufacturer of very high quality baby products for over 80 years. Recently they’ve been focused on creating pieces for babies that are gender neutral. Their Sparkle Collection consists of bedding, accessories, blankets, bath accessories, and toys that aren’t your traditional pinks and blues. This is particularly appealing for expecting parents who’ve chosen to keep their baby’s gender a surprise.

Thule – Chariot Cougar 2

When you look around the roads in Vermont, you’ll see a Thule roof rack on every other car. One would think that our tiny state must be the outdoor activity capital of the world. Well, we’re not far off.  Little did we know that Thule has been expanding their product offerings well beyond bike, ski, and kayak racks.

The aptly named Chariot is one rad piece of gear.  It’s incredibly versatile and can be used in a myriad of ways including stroller, bicycle tow behind, and a running or skiing tow-behind. You can even mount skis to this thing and rock out with your little sprout on your favorite cross country track.

What makes the Chariot Cougar 2 one of our top picks is this versatility. Too many of us go out and buy a whole bunch of kid transport items like a bike seat. Thule has come up with a product that’s truly universal and we dig it!

Wean Green – Food containers

There are an endless number of products available to help you pack your little one’s lunch. From bento containers, to the plain brown paper bag. Although some of us long for the simpler days when pulling a peanut butter sandwich out of a brown paper bag was completely acceptable, there’s clearly a better way.

Wean Green makes eco-friendly tempered glass containers in a ton of sizes that fit nicely together and they’re virtually indestructible. We love that they’re dishwasher and freezer safe, and they look great, too. In a demo at the Expo, we watched them drop these containers on the floor and shake them with liquid inside and these things held up to it all. Nice work, Wean Green!

Lug Bug

If you’ve carried a baby in a car seat for any length of time you’re keenly aware of the forearm burn that goes along with it. Lug Bug makes the experience of carting your tot around much less taxing.

All baby car seats have a carry bar, but unfortunately, they’re not set up properly for any kind of extended carrying. Your arms are forced into a completely unnatural position and you quickly find yourself constantly switching hands and positions if you need to carry your tot for more than a minute or two.

Lug Bug is fully adjustable and allows you to carry your car seat while keeping your forearms from exploding! We love that two dads saw a need for something in the market and built a product to address that need. So many folks have a great idea and then just assume that it’s already been done, or that it’s too much work to get started. Well, it is a ton of work and these guys have pulled it off.

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Learn + Play

Adele's albums have soothed many hearts through hard times, and now she's going through a big relationship transition of her own.

The singer is separating from her husband Simon Konecki, the father of her 6-year-old son, Angelo James.

"Adele and her partner have separated," Adele's people wrote in a statement to the Associated Press. "They are committed to raising their son together lovingly. As always they ask for privacy. There will be no further comment."

Our hearts go out to Adele. Of course, she doesn't owe anyone any further explanation or discussion of her separation, but by announcing it publicly, she is shining a light on a family dynamic that is so common but not talked about as much as it should be: Co-parenting.

Parenting with an ex is a reality for so many mothers. According to the Pew Research Center, "the likelihood of a child – even one born to two married parents – spending part of their childhood in an unmarried parent household is on the rise."

Angelo James' experience will be similar to many of his peers.

"Increases in divorce mean that more than one-in-five children born within a marriage will experience a parental breakup by age 9, as will more than half of children born within a cohabiting union," Pew notes.

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Adele and Konecki already know a thing or two about how co-parenting works, as Konecki has an older child from a previous relationship.

They can make this work because so many parents are making this work. The reality is, two parents can still be a family, and be a team for their child without being romantic partners.

Decades ago, co-parenting after a divorce wasn't the norm, and a body of research (and the experience of a generation of kids) has changed the way parents do things today. Today, divorce isn't about the end of a family. It's about the evolution of one.

Research suggests joint physical custody is linked to better outcomes for kids than divorce arrangements that don't support shared parenting and that divorced couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse"(so, are friends, basically) are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Co-parenting is good for kids, and clearly, Adele and Konecki are committed to being a team for Angelo James.

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News

If you've had a baby in a hospital you know that those first few nights can be really hard. There are so many benefits for babies sharing rooms with their mamas (as opposed to being shipped off to those old-school, glassed-in nurseries) but tired mamas have a lot of conflicting messages coming at them.

You're told to bond with your baby, but not to fall asleep with them in the bed, and to let them rest in their bassinet. But when you're recovering from something that is (at best) the most physically demanding thing a person can do or (at worst) major surgery, moving your baby back and forth from bed to bassinette all night long sure doesn't sound like fun.

That's why this photo of a co-sleeping hospital bed is going viral again, four years after it was first posted by Australian parenting site Belly Belly. The photo continues to attract attention because the bed design is enviable, but is it real? And if so, why aren't more hospitals using it?

The bed is real, and it's Dutch. The photo originated from Gelderse Vallei hospital. As GoodHouskeeping reported back in 2015, the clip-on co-sleepers were introduced as a way to help mom and baby pairs who needed extended hospital stays—anything beyond one night in the maternity ward.

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Plenty of moms stateside wish we had such beds in our maternity wards, but as but Dr. Iffath Hoskins, an OB-GYN, told Yahoo Parenting in 2015, the concept wouldn't be in line with American hospitals' safe sleeping policies.

"If the mother rolls over from exhaustion, there would be the risk of smothering the baby," she told Yahoo. "The mother's arm could go into that space in her sleep and cover the baby, or she could knock a pillow to the side and it's on the baby."

Hoskins also believes that having to get in and out of bed to get to your baby in the night is good for moms who might be otherwise reluctant to move while recovering from C-sections. If you don't move, the risk of blood clots in the legs increases. "An advantage of being forced to get up for the baby is that it forces the mother to move her legs — it's a big plus. However painful it can be, it's important for new moms to move rather than remaining in their hospital beds."

So there you have it. The viral photo is real, but don't expect those beds to show up in American maternity wards any time soon.

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News

A new study has some people thinking twice about kissing their bearded partners, or maybe even letting those with beards kiss the baby—but there's a lot to unpack here.

According to Swiss researchers, bearded men are carrying around more bacteria than dogs do. A lot more. But read on before you send dad off to the bathroom with a razor and ask him to pull a Jason Momoa (yes, he's recently clean-shaven. RIP Aquaman's beard).

As the BBC reports, scientists swabbed the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 dogs. When they compared the samples, they learned beards have a higher bacterial load than dog fur.

Dudes who love their beards are already clapping back against the way the science was reported in the media though, noting that the sample size in this study was super small and, importantly, that the scientists didn't swab any beardless men.

The study wasn't even about beards, really. The point of the study, which was published in July 2018 in the journal European Radiology, was to determine if veterinarians could borrow human MRI machines to scan dogs without posing a risk to human patients.

"Our study shows that bearded men harbour significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs," the authors wrote, noting that when MRI scanners are used for both dogs and humans, they're cleaned very well after veterinary use, and actually have a "lower bacterial load compared with scanners used exclusively for humans."

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Another important point to note is that most bacteria aren't actually dangerous to humans, and some can be really good for us (that's why some scientists want us to let our kids get dirty).

This little study wasn't supposed to set off a beard panic, it was just supposed to prove that dogs and people can safely share an MRI machine. There is previous research on beards and bacteria though, that suggests they're not all bad.

Another study done in 2014 and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection looked at a much larger sample of human faces (men who work in healthcare), both bearded and clean shaven, and actually found that people who shaved their faces were carrying around more Staph bacteria than those with facial hair.

"Overall, colonization is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair; however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair," the researchers wrote.

A year after that, a local news station in New Mexico did its own "study" on beards, one that wasn't super scientific but did go viral and prompted a flurry of headlines insisting beards are as dirty as toilets. That claim has been debunked.

So, before you ban bearded people from kissing the baby (or yourself) consider that we all have some bacteria on our faces. Dads should certainly wash their beards well, but they're not as dirty as a toilet.

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News

New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo is on a mission to level the playing field for young women and provide them with the tools for success. In 2017, he implemented free two- and four-year public colleges for New Yorkers, and now Cuomo is adding a budget proposal that would provide on-site childcare at community colleges.

Under the proposal, single parents participating in the program would also have access to tutoring and help when applying to four-year schools. It's the kind of idea that could be a game changer for parents in New York state.

Currently, childcare centers are subsidized for student-parents but can still cost parents $50-$60 a week; under Cuomo's budget proposal, childcare would be free. Students who are already enrolled in similar programs acknowledge that the benefits are enormous.

"As a single parent of two children going to school full time, I wouldn't be able to come to school and afford for childcare," says Michelle Trinidad, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and parent to a 4 and 5-year-old. "Thank goodness for BMCC Early Childhood Center that is very much affordable. It gives me the opportunity to advance my career and be confident that my son is in good hands. School is hard enough on its own, having reliable child care means a lot to me and my children."

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The plan is a part of Cuomo's 2019 women's justice agenda, legislation that addresses the gender wage gap, as well as economic and social justice for all New York women. According to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 11% of undergraduates, or 2.1 million students, were single mothers as of 2012, which has doubled since 2000. Additionally, that same study found that 4 in 10 women at two-year colleges say that they are likely or very likely to drop out of school due to their dependent care obligations.

"This is an exciting initiative for New York that addresses a critical need, and if implemented, will have a far-reaching impact on various aspects of society, especially for the next generation," says Ryan Lee-James, PhD an Assistant Professor at Adelphi University. "I view this initiative as both a direct and indirect pathway to address the well-documented achievement gap between children reared in poverty and those growing up with higher income families, as it provides moms, who otherwise may not have had the opportunity, to further their education and thus, afford their children more opportunities."

Additionally, many view campus childcare as a safe haven for college students. "During my 18 years working in campus childcare, I have witnessed how the student-parents can complete their courses and stay focused by having childcare on campus," says Sori Palacio, a Head Teacher at BMCC Early Childhood Center. "Parents usually express how thankful they are for having their children traveling with them to school as well as having their children nearby while they complete their degree. They concentrate in academic work without worrying about their child's wellbeing. This service helps the entire public by preparing more people to serve the community."

Parents have so many barriers when it comes to accessing higher education, but free childcare could be a game changer that benefits multiple generations.

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