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The Best Back to School Gear for Younger Kids

The only thing more jarring than the beginning of a new school year is being wholly unprepared for it. It doesn’t matter whether your household is sending off a freshly minted kindergartener or a been there/done that middle schooler- there’s plenty of gear to round up before the bus arrives.


In the interest of making your job just a tiny bit easier, and spending your money more wisely, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite back-to-school gear. (Sorry, grocery shopping for lunches is on you.)


 

[stag_icon icon=”share” url=”https://www.parent.com/ultimate-back-to-school-supply-checklists/” size=”18px” new_window=”no”] View our ultimate back-to-school supply checklists.


 

Best Backpacks

Burton Youth Grommlet Backpack $34.95

This kid-sized pack from Burton has all the bells and whistles. A padded pocket for a small laptop or tablet, a side water bottle pocket, and plenty of storage.

Marvel® Youth Day Hiker 20L Backpack $49.95

The Burton Marvel Dayhiker is our favorite overall kid backpack. We’d buy it whether our kids thought it was rad or not (they do.

State Kane Kids Backpack (4 color options) $55.00

For every State bag that’s purchased, they donate one to an American child in need. The colorful Kane kid’s pack is water-resistant and perfectly sized to keep kid’s carrying their stuff without tipping over like a turtle on its back.

JanSport SuperBreak Backpack (price varies)

Had I kept track of the Jansport backpacks I accumulated in middle and high school, I could be sending my kids to school with them twenty years later. Then, they could patronizingly explain to me how only dorky kids wear both straps at once. Ugh.God, MOM. Oh well, I’m sure they’d prefer to choose their own color now that there are several dozen options. Nirvana patches aren’t included, but a lifetime warranty is.

L.L. Bean Backpacks $24.95-$99.95

LL Bean has been in the backpack game since forever. And with that much experience, they produce some of the best performing packs available. Even the scaled down version for the younger set doesn’t skimp on features. Including a padded back panel, reflective front strip, and plenty of room for everything, it’s far more likely your kid will lose it than wear it out. (Just how does one go about losing the only thing they’re responsible for? I wish I understood.) And if they do manage to wear it out? The lifetime guarantee has you covered.

Best Pencil Cases

ZipIt Monster Jumbo Pouch $9.99

Just look at this thing. It’s hilarious. AND it can unzip completely into one long zipper. If that’s not a pencil bag party trick, well, I don’t know. Should pencil bags have party tricks?

Blue Q Junk Drawer Pencil Case $5.99

These cheap, durable, and spacious zipped pouches are endlessly useful.

Kokuyo C2 Tray Type Pencil Case $10.50

Keep pens and pencils tidy and easy to sift through.

Best Lunch Box

Dabbawalla Lunch Bags $30.00

If lunch boxes are any indication, children are incredibly disgusting creatures. By Halloween, the inside of them are the scariest thing you’re going to see/smell ALL DAY. Unless of course you invest in one you can throw in the washing machine.  These colorful neoprene bags by Dabba Walla are insulated, machine washable and basically bulletproof.

Bentology Laptop Lunches Bento Kit $34.99-$41.99

Laptop Lunches are the whole system, squish-proof. Before I bought this for my son, packing a lunch involved a mix of hunting down the miscellaneous containers that managed to make it home and wasting ziplock bags. Packing his lunch is his job, and listening to him whine about the logistics of it is worse than doing it myself. These bento-style kits, with their perfectly sized containers, take the pain out of putting it all together.

L.L. Bean Flip-Top Lunch Box $24.95

This classic from LL Bean works everywhere from pre-school to a construction site. Sturdy, long lasting AND with the oft overlooked shoulder strap, pick a color you like because you’ll no doubt end up taking it to work some day.

Lunch box Accessories

Fit and Fresh Cool Coolers $7.99

Ice packs. Flat. Cold. They have one job and do it well.

LunchSkins Reusable Sandwich Bag $8.99

In the interest of conservation, (and not literally throwing money into the trash), these reusable sandwich bags are well worth the investment. Just throw them in the dishwasher, turn inside out to dry and they’re ready to go again.

BooginHead Screw Top Squeez’ems $7.99

 

Have you ever seen those nightmare Facebook posts of what people have found lurking in applesauce pouches? Shudder. Better yet,  have you compared the cost of them to just buying it in jars? And yet, kids seem to find this method of slurping their food IRRESISTIBLE. It’s possible that the delivery turns yogurt/purees/basically anything into some sort of crack. These refillable squeeze pouches take the waste and the mystery out of the pre-filled version that always find their way into your grocery cart.

Best Water Bottles

Contigo Swish Kids Water Bottle $10.50

The general consensus is that these are one of the few truly leak proof water bottles available. Any parent who’s attempted to blow dry homework knows the importance of this feature.

Klean Kanteen Kid Kanteen 12 ounce $15

Kleen Kanteen is hard to beat. Their stainless steel bottles last forever and the universally sized opening makes it easy to swap out lid types (sippy top, sport cap, or a plain old loop top) for whatever style suits the needs of the day.

Best Alarm Clock

Teach Me Time Talking Alarm Clock $38

This clock has features that benefit both the kids who get out of bed too early (it turns green to signal that Mom and Dad won’t sell you if you leave your room) and kids who need to be woken up to get out the door on time (a fully functional alarm, complete with snooze). As an added bonus, it combines a digital display with an analog face.

Star Wars Stormtrooper Mini-Figure Alarm Clock $29.99

It’s a Lego Minifigure that’s a clock. Self explanatory in its coolness. (And if Star Wars isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other characters to choose from.)

Best Back-to-School Technology – coming Wed August 12 

 

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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