Sarah Jackson
Bookshelf
Learning how to be a good friend isn’t easy. Sharing and saying sorry sincerely (when you’ve made a mistake) are required skills. And — as these new stories show — children must also learn empathy, patience, loyalty, inclusiveness and even the ability to look past prejudice and the intimidation of bullies.My Friend MaggieThis tale of friendship highlights what happens when a longtime best friend becomes — in the eyes of some — suddenly uncool. It can be hard to stick by that friend when social... more
Career advice
More than 40 percent of mothers choose to stay at home for a significant amount of time after having children.Reentering the workforce, however, can be a bear.In Moms For Hire: 8 Steps to Kickstart Your Next Career, L.A. film and television producer (and single mother of four) Deborah Jelin Newmyer offers encouragement and solid advice... more
Camp memoir
Minneapolis author Eric Dregni remembers being sent to camp at age 6, kicking and screaming.Now a father of three, a college professor and the dean of the Italian Concordia Language Village, Lago del Bosco, in Hackensack, Dregni has published a humorous memoir about the challenges and rewards of overnight camp. You’re Sending Me Where?... more
Sitter app for parents
Paul and Kristen Abdo (pictured above) of Edina were on their way home from a night out — trying to figure out how long they’d been away and if they had enough cash to pay their sitter — when they realized: There must be an easier way to not only pay the baby sitter, but also to book sitters.So the parents, who have three kids, created... more
You won’t believe it
When my best friend had her first child, she couldn’t believe how hard it was caring for a baby. She’d heard all the stories about sleepless nights, endless crying and nasty diaper blowouts.She was a longtime babysitting pro and an auntie, too. She was great with kids. She even worked with elementary school children for a living.... more
Pure magic
Gina Matter was a kid when she fell in love with the story of Harry Potter. She discovered the books by J.K. Rowling when she was a struggling reader. Her mother started reading the stories aloud to her before bed.“The series captivated me so much, I began to pick up the books and continue on without her,” Matter said.Today Matter... more
Dr. Seuss duds
Yay! Target has launched a new collection of whimsical toddler apparel inspired by the most famous works of Dr. Seuss.Graphic tops, including some sold with matching pants, feature famous quotes and characters and bright patterns, too.Look also for an early reader biography — Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler — geared toward ages 4 to 8.$8.99... more
Spinning stacker
This new stacking toy features six gear shapes that spin — rather than slide straight down — a spiral pole.SpinAgain, geared toward ages 1 and older, earned a Parents’ Choice Awards Foundation nod in 2016. We like that it includes a reversible base that can be flat for stability or rounded for a more wobbly challenge; plus it has a... more
Open fetal surgeries offered in Minneapolis
The Midwest Fetal Care Center in Minneapolis was a marvel when it opened a year ago, offering life-saving fetal surgeries to babies in utero, including twins. Now the center has expanded its services to include open fetal surgeries with a special emphasis on treating spina bifida.Literally meaning “split spine,” the condition (which... more
Search and find
Not all reading time must be filled with traditional, narrative stories.Each of these books tells its own kind of tale, ideal for parents and kids who like a challenge and time spent poring over beautiful printed pages. The Lost HouseThis is one of the hardest search-and-find books we’ve ever seen!Even after you’ve found everything... more
Personal safety service for teens
Kitestring calls itself “your virtual overprotective mom.”It’s a free, text-based service (not an app) invented by an MIT student who was worried about his girlfriend getting home OK.To use it, you text a time frame to Kitestring. When the time frame has passed, the service sends you a text, asking you to check in. If you don’t respond,... more
A book to ‘end meltdowns’
On a recent Minneapolis Mamas Facebook thread, a mother lamented her 4-year-old’s terrible behavior.A clear chorus came back from mothers in praise of one particularly successful tactic — cutting back on screen time.Need a guide? Check out the much-praised Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and... more
Baking set for kids
Bring on the next MasterChef Junior! Sized just right for little hands, this 17-piece intro-to-baking box was a hit during our annual Toy Test.But this gift set isn’t just a toy. All the tools and pieces are designed for real cooking and repeat use.Though technically recommended for ages 3 and older, it seems like a good fit (with... more
Wooden teether
This teething ring — made from untreated Indian hardwood and finished with vegetable seed wax — features the added bonus of bunny-esque ears made of organic cotton.If you’re feeling overwhelmed by plastic, check out these “teething ears” (available in many prints and colors) — along with rest of the amazing-looking Finn & Emma... more
Museum opening delayed
The Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul, rather than reopening in mid-April as planned, will welcome visitors in June, due to a logistical delay in its multi-million-dollar renovations.The contractor hired to fabricate the parts of The Scramble — the museum’s new four-story climbing adventure, featuring two towers, a spiral slide and... more
Mom, you’re hired!
Stay-at-home moms — and veterans — often face huge challenges when trying to return to the workforce. Many employers mistakenly view them as unemployable or undesirable because of their so-called employment gaps. But the Minneapolis office of the IT-consulting firm York Solutions has successfully launched a new initiative... more
Smart cookie
Virtually everyone loves a warm chocolate chip cookie. But hauling out the electric mixer, cleaning messy bowls and dealing with baking sheet after baking sheet of cookies? I can do without that part. Hence this miracle — a chocolate chip cookie mixed in a coffee mug and cooked in the microwave. Even the youngest kids can make... more
Safer earbuds
If your kid’s headphones seem seriously cranked, check out Etymotic’s ETY-Kids5 Safe-Listening Earphones for ages 4 and up.These noise-isolating buds are specially designed for safer sound output, so they’re safe, even when your teen turns the volume up to 11. $39 • amazon.com • etymotic.com more
Tales for toddlers
One More Tickle!This new Guess How Much I Love You puppet board book stole our hearts! Its built-into-the-book Nutbrown Hare is super-soft and features floppy ears and little pockets that allow parents to move his head and paws around in realistic, animated ways. “Are you ticklish?” asks Big Nutbrown Hare. “Can I tickle your ears and see... more
Spear it!
Need a french fry fix? Hold up (and hold the fast food potatoes) and go healthy with this crazy-tasty recipe by foodie author Chungah Rhee, featuring the soon-to-be in season delight that is asparagus.Baked asparagus friesIngredients1 cup panko bread crumbs1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheeseKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to... more
Fake it ’til you make it
During my son’s earlier years, I wasn’t a confident parent. And the problem was wildly exacerbated during daycare drop-offs. Instead of emitting calm during the hand-off, I would respond to my son’s every effort to resist our separation.Oh, honey, you don’t want me to leave? How about one more hug? OK: How about I sit here for a bit... more
Memory game
Help your kids build concentration and focus with this 32-card memory game that you can customize with 16 personal photos.We love the retro packaging and card designs. (What a cool gift idea for friends or family!)Bonus: All of Paper Culture’s products are made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper — and every order results in the... more
New food pouches
Rita Katona and Eric Hall of Minneapolis have introduced a new kind of baby food under the brand So Good Baby, now sold in handy pouches nationwide.What makes the local couple’s products special is that they’re pressure processed, rather than heat pasteurized, a practice that can sap flavor and nutritional value. So Good Baby’s organic,... more
A go-to pant for mamas
Navel pants — created by Sarah Longacre, the beloved founder of Blooma (a local yoga studio and haven for mamas and mamas-to-be) — are on sale now online.After making an early debut at Bellyrama at Lake Harriet this past September, the high-rise comfy pants, which include a removable 9-inch belly band, cost $70 (20 percent off if you... more
Apple of our eye
Have you tried Opal apples? These gold-skinned Washington State-grown orbs are crunchy and sweet — dare we say good enough to rival Minnesota’s own Honeycrisp?But what really sets these babies apart is their ability to resist oxidation (that yucky browning that happens almost immediately after you slice an apple). Opal apples... more
2 more new indoor play spaces!
Sure, spring is technically “around the corner,” but in Minnesota, our reprieve from the cold usually comes not in March or April, but as late as June!Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on indoor play spaces for kids in the Twin Cities — including more than two dozen venues — at mnparent.com/indoor.Two new additions to our list... more
I just want a shower
I remember, when I was a new mother, looking desperately to my mama friends for advice.I had one friend who — skipping the fake war stories and humblebrags I’d become accustomed to — bluntly said: “I just want a damn shower.” Please pardon the not-family-friendly language, but the inflection/anger is important here.Indeed, just... more
Beyond books
Little kids don’t need anything fancy to get interested in reading. They require only a willing parent and a book or two.But sometimes literary bells and whistles — such as those included with the books here — can be just the thing to encourage kids to use their imaginations, engage in creative play and maybe even go the heck to sleep!... more
A fresh twist
Citrus, when you live in Minnesota,  is winter’s solace, a blast of sunshine in January.Clementines, satsumas, mandarins, Halos, Cuties, whatever you want to call them, they’re all in season now.Heavily marketed to parents and kids (usually in 5-pound bags or larger) they’re super sweet, mostly seedless, easily portable and usually... more
Puzzle maker
Here’s a fun rainy-day / frigid-day activity: Take photos, artwork, invitations and more and turn them into small puzzles!Attach images to the kit’s adhesive 4-by-6-inch foam boards, then slide them through the Make Your Own Puzzles puzzlemaker to safely create perfect jigsaw pieces.Note: This toy was popular with all ages at the annual... more
Natural play dough
There’s regular PlayDoh (playdoh.com) and homemade play dough (tinyurl.com/playdough-mn). And now there’s Eco-Dough, an all-natural play dough made with plant, fruit and vegetable extracts.It’s lightly scented with essential oils (which keep the dough soft and pliable), so your hands smell and feel great — and slightly moisturized — when... more
No-mold bath toys
Squeezy bath toys are super fun! But how do you ever really get them clean?If the very thought of mold potentially growing inside your kid’s bath toys creeps you out, we suggest you check out Marcus & Marcus’ silicone squirting bath toys, which can be taken apart and easily and air dried — or even run through the dishwasher (top rack... more
Book for parents of teens
Every month Minnesota Parent receives self-help parenting books filled with stories about how hard to is to parent (and why), but they’re woefully short on solutions. They’re 98 percent backstory. This book — How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk (part of a longtime bestselling series) — actually... more
Doing the best we can
Happy New Year, Minnesota parents!Will 2017 be a no-yell year for you? Will this be the year you finally take care of your marriage/partner/self (and not just your kiddos)? Will this be the year you become perfect and balanced and start going to the gym three times a week again?Of course it won’t. But as Amanda Bell — the #... more
New PBS Kids channel from TPT!
Big news: More Wild Kratts, Daniel Tiger, Nature Cat, Ready Jet Go! and Splash and Bubbles are coming your way! Yes, this month, TPT (Twin Cities PBS) is launching a new 24/7 broadcast channel devoted entirely to PBS Kids content.Existing on-demand clips and full episodes ... more
Habit-breaking smart bracelets
Do you have a kid who engages in potentially harmful, subconscious behaviors such as excessive nail biting, skin picking or hair pulling?You’re not alone. Millions of Americans suffer significantly from these issues, including many children.But now there may be a solution for such Body... more
Parenting hypocrisy?
Welcome to our Technology Issue!Yes, it’s that time of year when we address one of the biggest distractions human children have ever known — digital media. Given our issue theme, I thought this might be a good time to return to the story of my 8-year-old son and his technology use.Maybe you remember how, in our June Issue, I wrote... more
Book for teens
Billed as a Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior and Not Grossing People Out, Alex J. Packer’s book, updated in 2014, is billed as a “wacky, comprehensive, and insightful etiquette book that shows teens how to use good manners to build fulfilling relationships, get what they want out of life, feel good about themselves and... more
A teen-safe show
“Watching TV with your teens presents all kinds of pitfalls: out-of-the-blue raunchy sex scenes, a surprise bloodbath (Game of Thrones, anyone?) and other awkward moments you never wanted to share with your kids.”So says Common Sense Media’s TV Editor, Polly Conway, who recommends 10 teen-safe shows to bridge the gap at tinyurl.com/... more
Hot new toy
Your kid wants LEGOs for the holidays: Again. Had enough?We highly recommend the latest iteration of building toys from Lauri as an alternative.Lauri’s new Action-Stackers Big Builder Set includes new joint connectors that allow children to build out (instead of just up).New spinning connectors can be used to create wheels and other... more
Locally crafted toys
During research for our annual Minnesota Parent Toy Test, we came across a local company — DoodleTown Toys of Big Lake, established in 1972 — that produces beautiful, handcrafted wooden toys.Michael and Linda Poisson use northern white pine to create their toys, which feature signature smooth edges thanks to painstaking sanding and... more
Soft-block toy
Babies love tags! What’s up with that?Satisfy your infant’s fixation with a city-themed soft block from Rose & Rex, which includes four tag-like tabs with holes just right for babies’ fingers (plus an actual tag).Locales so far include London, New York, Brooklyn, Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Sydney.All the... more
Win a trip!
Minnesota Parent is giving away a FREE Winter Family Fun vacation for a family of four at Lutsen Mountains (valued at more than $500).This prize package includes 2 nights lodging, 2 days of lift tickets and 2 days of ski rentals for a family of four, all coinciding with the Family Fun Nights at the Summit Chalet, featuring... more
A new holiday tradition?
You’ve heard of The Elf on the Shelf. The 2004 children’s book and doll set has become a beloved, playful tradition among many families. It’s also caused backlash from parents who dislike the concept of a nanny-state elf who spies on kids and evaluates their behavior for gift worthiness.Well, what if you could have the playfulness of an... more
Veggie power!
Trying to get kids to eat broccoli has long been a parenting cliché. But not anymore.Today’s foodie parents don’t boil or steam veggies into oblivion. They know the power of roasting veggies quickly at high temperatures to bring out their sweetness.Not in the Candied Broccoli Club yet? Try this recipe.If you’re already a veggie-roasting... more
Holiday joy!
It’s almost winter and the holidays are near: What better time could there be to snuggle up and read?Check out the following titles, all new this year, that help celebrate the season.Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree These two adorable, sometimes snarky sisters — captured, as usual, in gorgeous drawings by author-illustrator Lori... more
Candyland!
Williams-Sonoma is famous for its holiday peppermint bark. But if you don’t have $30 to spend on a pound of the stuff, why not make your own?In multiple at-home tests, this recipe turned out beautifully for us — and you can even let the kids help bash the candies, spread the chocolate, sprinkle the peppermints and break the bark into... more
Combating overeating
If your child is struggling with overeating, it can be incredibly hard to discuss the issue.Aimed at helping parents of ages 10 to 18, Free Your Child from Overeating — written by therapist and mother four Michelle Maidenberg — helps families address the causes of overeating and offers more than 50 mind-body strategies rooted in... more
Hit the slopes (or trails)!
Winter is coming. Are you curling up into a fetal position with your favorite Slanket yet?Well, maybe you could skip the cabin fever this year. What if you could embrace winter by getting into skiing, snowboarding or even just tubing as a family? Check out more than a dozen winter-fun destinations in Minnesota at skiandboardmn.... more
Improv parenting
Parenting can be infinitely frustrating. It’s a grind that can suck the life out of even the most playful of parents.How can you bring back some of that magic?The answer, according to two Minneapolis moms, may be improv parentings classes, play days and camps. Improv Parenting is the brainchild of mother-of-three Keren Gudeman, an... more
When the toy era ends
I’m so excited about all the awesome toys — and toy-related ideas — we’re spotlighting this month in our annual Toy Issue!Wait. What?You don’t want more toys? You don’t like how your carpet/coffee table/entire existence has disappeared under a thick layer of giant playgyms/mats/bouncers/vibrating chairs, noisemakers and Megabloks? Or... more
Indoor play spaces in the Twin Cities!
Great places to bring your kids when the weather is cold and the wiggles need to get out!Adventure Peak in Edinborough Park, EdinaAirMaxx, Eden PrairieBig Thrill Factory, MinnetonkaBrickmania Toyworks, MinneapolisBrown Family Adventure Park, Ham LakeEagle's Nest, New BrightonGood Times Park, EaganInnerActive, Minnetonka – NEW!... more
Allergy stamps
Having a child with a food allergy can cause great anxiety for parents, especially when it comes to sending their children out into the world.These fun, customizable stamps — which feature popular characters such as Minions, Pooh, Darth Vader, Anna and Elsa — can help families keep everyone informed quickly, easily and playfully. $... more
Yoga teddy bear
Meddy Teddy — a “100 percent yoga-poseable” bear — isn’t the first toy to encourage kids to practice yoga.But Meddy, with his serene smile and peacefully closed eyes, may be the first to also encourage meditation, a mindfulness practice parents are finding surprisingly effective in dealing with behavior problems.One Baltimore elementary... more
Metal teether
If your kid can’t get enough of chewing on your car keys (ew!), you might want to strike up a friendship with Eli the Elephant, Gus the Giraffe, and Leo the Lion — a trio of chompable stainless steel “keys.” Geared toward ages 6 months and up, dishwasher-safe Kleynimals (pronounced “clean-i-mals”) aren’t cheap, but they’ll certainly last... more
Sharing is comparing
When you have kids, you can’t help but be proud of them.Even the littlest things can make you swell up with almost unbearable pride — those first baby smiles, those early toddler dancing skills, those kindergarteners who can read before the start of school!We just can’t help it. They’re so impressive, we just have to tell our... more
Twin Cities toy stores!
Check out the wide variety of local toy stores we are blessed with in the Twin Cities! ABC Toy Zone, Burnsville, Chanhassen and RochesterAir Traffic Kites and Games, six Twin Cities locations, including MOAAutism Shop (This store is now online only.)BuyBuy Baby, WoodburyChoo Choo Bob’s Train Store, St. PaulCreative Kidstuff,... more
Kid-tested toys!
Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set$44.99 | ages 4 and upFew kids in our toy test could resist this mesmerizing set — a new-and-improved version of an older model from Hot Wheels. Even the veteran parents in the group agreed this toy would definitely be worth the space commitment — and the price. A single central booster (which... more
Wide awake
Welcome to our annual Baby Issue! Whether you’re feeding a newborn right this very second, patting your belly in anticipation of a very important arrival or maybe even getting ready to welcome your first grandchild, this issue is for you! I expect the most-read article this month will be our sleep story, outlining five... more
A new chapter
It’s time for back to school!Oh, wait. Are you just starting school?I feel you. I remember my son’s first days of kindergarten (a big topic in this issue, as you will see). It all started the winter before his 5th birthday. His school hosted a Kindergarten Round Up, an afternoon event at which preschoolers and their parents... more
School triumphs
Here we are, already in the thick of the school year.And that means watching your kid face the challenges of academics, friendships and even the pressures of Picture Day!It’s not easy.Check out how the characters (both human and animal) in these books find interesting ways to conquer their fears and emerge triumphantly. Coasting... more
Finance book for kids
Want to give your kids a jump start on their financial future?Check out Blue Chip Kids: What Every Child (and Parent) Should Know About Money, Investing and the Stock Market.This lively and engaging book — filled with 165 cartoon illustrations — tackles many facets of personal and corporate finance that schools simply aren’t covering.... more
Wi-fi access point
KoalaSafe creates a new wi-fi network in your home that’s set up just for the kids.You can restrict the hours that the Internet is on, block sites by name or category (such as “adult” or “social media”) or block specific apps (such as Snapchat).You can require YouTube SafeSearch and Google SafeSearch to restrict inappropriate search... more
Leakproof containers
When it comes to food-storage/lunch-box options, there are so many choices!Most, however, are plastic. And plastics stain easily, wear out quickly and can even leach chemicals.When Twin Cities mama Juhi Gupta went looking for alternatives, she didn’t like what she found, so she invented her own.Available in 2- and 4-cup sizes, her Frego... more
Ultimate drink holder
The single-serving juice box (or milk box) is the ultimate on-the-go toddler beverage — until your little one promptly squeezes the liquid right out of it, turning its straw into a terribly interesting fountain.MyDrinky — a rigid plastic, dual-handled, two-piece case — was designed to prevent such spills.Our Minnesota Parent test toddler... more
Chic bouncer
Infant gear can be so ugly!Who’s this stuff for anyway? Babies?Enter modern-American designer Jonathan Adler, who recently partnered with Fisher-Price on a new line of contemporary items, including a chic little vibrating bouncer with a built-in mobile, featuring a signature high-contrast black-and-white fabric, plus walnut wood accents... more
Chef tools for kids!
It’s autumn: What better time to get the kids in the kitchen?And what better tools than the Le Petit Chef set from Opinel.Minnesota Parent’s 8-year-old tester (not exactly a huge culinary-arts enthusiast) loved this stainless steel knife-peeler set.Each tool encourages proper hand positioning with strategically placed learning rings that... more
October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month
Groves AcademyThis private St. Louis Park school, founded in 1972, offers specialized services for students in grades 1-12 diagnosed with learning disabilities and/or attention disorders.Tuition for the 2016-2017 school year ranges from $27,120 to $28,160. The Learning Center at Groves is open to the public and offers fee-based... more
Kick it up a notch
Lil’ Kickers — a year-round children’s soccer program focused on child development — has come to the Twin Cities.Founded in Seattle in 1999, Lil’ Kickers has grown into national franchise with more than 100 locations in 28 states.It’s been popular in Chicago for more than 10 years and is now expanding north with two Minneapolis... more
Life with multiples!
Photo by Agape Moments Photography"Above all else, keep the babies on the SAME routine; once that’s accomplished, life is that much easier! And finally, ENJOY the small moments — the cuddles, smiles and first giggles."– Karen Kartman of Lino Lakes, mother of twins Aubrey and Lyla, pictured with big brother, Colby, 4, and Dad, Paul... more
MoMs tell all!
You aren’t imagining things. Twins are becoming more common — and have been for decades.In 2009, 1 in every 30 babies born in the United States was a twin, compared with 1 in every 53 babies in 1980, according to the CDC.Put another way, that’s more than 1 million more twins who wouldn’t have existed before the increase. ... more
Golden nuggets
Skip the frozen-section nuggets made with unpronounceable ingredients and try this down-home recipe.Instead of using an egg wash to adhere the breading, this recipe relies on — oh, yes — melted butter, along with Parmesan cheese and a few fairly common pantry items.It’s so simple, you can make it with the kids.And you’ll actually want to... more
Favorite first books
It’s never too early to read with your baby!In fact, early childhood development experts recommend reading to children from birth — at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week (read20.org).Here are some of our favorite books for babies. Find reading lists for all age groups (including age 0 to 12 months) at readingfoundation.org.... more
Book for tweens
Chelsea Clinton, with her book, It’s Your World, challenged tweens in 2015 to “get informed, get inspired and get going” to make positive changes in the world.Now, given the history her mother made recently — becoming the first female nominee for President of the United States — this book ($18.99), which explores the challenges of... more
The Art of Roughhousing
Drawing inspiration from martial arts, ballet, gymnastics, other sports and even animal behaviors, the authors of this 2011 book ($14.95) — gastroenterologist Anthony DeBenedet (a father of three girls) and Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist and family therapist — present dozens of illustrated rough-and-tumble activities for... more
Darling dresses
 Minnesota’s glorious fall wedding season is here. Now what’s your little girl going to wear and how much, ugh, is it going to cost?We’re thinking the fairytale lace and embroidery dress-and-shoes combos from Primark ($9 to $18), a Dublin-based clothing retailer that appears to be charting a course for world domination,... more
Herbal, local diaper cream
Unitech Medical — a locally based startup with offices in Plymouth — has introduced an herbal diaper cream.Unlike typical creams, it’s not thick and white, it’s actually a bit thin and light brown due its active ingredients — botanical extracts of herbs commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine such as arnebia root and amur cork-tree... more
Childcare at MOA
Date night, anyone? Girls’ night? Guys’ night? How about just a little “you” time?Drop N’ Shop — an entertainment center for children — is now open at the Mall of America and offering drop-in childcare for ages 6 weeks to 12 years.Located on Level 3 at Sears Court, the facility offers activities such as Zumba and yoga for kids, arts and... more
Science Museum updates!
Heads up: The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul will be closed from Sept. 6 to 9 and Sept. 12 to 16 for annual maintenance.Technicians will use the time to tune up the exhibit galleries and the Omnitheater for the fall and winter seasons.Upcoming events at the museum include: Playdates: Every Tuesday between 10 a.m. and noon,... more
Nursing pillow for twins!
The Twin Z Pillow is the nursing pillow to try if you have multiples.It’s E-shaped and works differently than a Boppy.You put the middle part behind your back for support and then wrap the sides around your waist and click them together in front of you.Our Moe-Mama’s-Must-Haves blogger (a mother of three, including now-9-month- old twins... more
School supplies
 The Lockdown Drill School children today don’t just take part in fire drills.Because of numerous attacks on schools in recent years, kids as young as preschool-age are required to participate in lockdown drills that involve preparing for intruders, typically by hiding.And that can be scary.That’s why Tennessee native... more
Tiered backpack
With all the heavy textbooks kids carry — along with tablets and laptops and more — isn’t it time someone came up with a backpack that actually helped them get organized and stay comfortable?We think IVAR’s backpacks come pretty darn close with strategically placed, sewn-in dividers that distribute weight more evenly and reduce lower-... more
After-bite oil
Mosquito bites are the worst!Fortunately, we’ve found a new way to ease kids’ irritation and discomfort: Oilogic’s Bug Bites & Itches Essential Oil Roll-On is made with a blend of lavender, tea tree, lemon, citronella, spearmint and chamomile oils.It’s fragrant, soothing and... more
'Dragon Slime' bread!
We love this recipe for a few reasons.It's an easy and surprisingly delicious back-to-school snack (or breakfast).It helps you incorporate veggies (zucchini), fruit (blueberries) and whole wheat flour into your kid’s diet.Local and organic blueberries and zucchini are easy to find in Minnesota this time of year.And the batter looks... more
A sensory-friendly backpack for school!
Students at the University of Minnesota have designed the “world’s first sensory-friendly backpack.”The Nesel Pack (a play on the word “nestle”) is a backpack for kids with sensory-processing issues, including children on the autism spectrum.It features specially designed straps with chest clips that create the feeling of a hug, plus... more
Cool kid's clothing
One Posh Closet, a Minnesota boutique featuring new and previously worn designer women’s clothing, is now offering children’s clothes.Founded by Nicole Jennings — wife of Super Bowl Champion NFL wide receiver Greg Jennings (see family photo above) — the Minnesota-based business started online in 2013, built around high-end pieces... more
Summer’s flipside
Happy summer, Minnesota families!If you’re looking for things to do with your kids in the Twin Cities, you’ve come to the right place!This month’s issue — our annual Beat the Heat edition — includes 2 inclusive parks designed for all abilities, 4 family day trips reinvented, 13 shady places for babies, 14 fun splash pads, 19 summer... more
Clever ideas!
Mother of two Asha Dornfest started her ParentHacks.com blog in 2005.Her recent book of the same name features 134 whimsically illustrated ingenious ideas for simplifying life with kids, such as:Strap your baby into a forward-facing carrier when you trim his or her fingernails.Put the ketchup under the hotdog to minimize mess.At the... more
Mindfulness therapy
Parenting teenagers can be intense.Adolescents’ huge ups and down can drive you and the rest of the family crazy!Eline Snel — author of Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) and founder of the Academy for Mindful Teaching in Leusden, Netherlands — offers... more
The Lion King offers a special sensory performance on July 30
 Broadway is joining the sensory-friendly scene with a special performance of Disney’s The Lion King at 2 p.m. Saturday July 30 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.This one-time performance — geared toward people with sensory, social and learning disabilities and their families — is the first-ever sensory-friendly performance of a... more
Easy-to-make energy bites
Trail mix is out. And energy balls are in!And you can make them easily at home with this highly adaptable recipe, printed with permission from Maggie Brereton’s Smashed Peas and Carrots blog.Too busy? Check out the new local line of mixes, including energy balls that enhance lactation!  See the sidebar on this page for the story on... more
Sleepless in summer
Summer on the North Coast brings with it that mixed blessing of longer days for parents: Yes, it means more daylight for outdoor fun, but it also means putting the kids to bed well before the sun goes down. Perhaps you can lull your little one to sleep — or at least while away the hours — with one of these new-in-2016 sleep-adventure... more
Chewable jewelry
 Chewbeads — 100 percent silicone jewelry for babies to chomp on (instead of their mother’s real jewelry) — have become popular among modern mamas.Now the parent-founded company is expanding its line with Juniorbeads kids’ necklaces, including cute color combos geared toward girls and groovy shark tooth, robot and dog-tag pendants... more
Two new inclusive playgrounds
The Twin Cities is home to an increasing number of playgrounds designed for kids of all abilities.St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development is hosting a grand opening on July 20 to celebrate the completion of the multi-million dollar renovation and expansion project at its Minnetonka campus.Among the features is a new... more
Nothing better to do
It's June!It’s time to spend every minute we can outside, right? But how? Check out our Outdoors Issue (June 2016) for starters. It's on racks now.Then please consider my advice for making the most of these summer months ahead: Pull back on screen time. I know, I know: I’ve read suggestions like these many times and I’ve... more
Berry tasty!
June is peak strawberry season in Minnesota — and this no-bake pie really shows off those red orbs’ freshness and bright flavors. Check local grocers or see minnesotagrown.com for a list of local farmers markets and strawberry farms.Fresh strawberry pie Ingredients3/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons cornstarchDash of salt1 cup water3... more
Get out there!
Kids need nature play and outdoor activities. But when there are 1,000 free cool games on the iPad, you’re facing an uphill battle, even in summer — unless you get creative and get excited to try new things.Here are just a few of the latest outdoors books perfectly tailored to families in need of inspiration and motivation:M Is for... more
Money and gratitude
The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money isn’t just rich with useful tips for teaching kids about finances — including parent best practices for the tooth fairy, birthdays, chores, mobile phones and beyond — it’s also relatable guide to combating materialism with gratitude and charity and... more
Guide to empathy
Caring for others is an essential skill that can give today’s young people a leg up in all aspects of their lives. So says author Michele Borba, an internationally recognized parenting expert.Her new book — UNSELFIE: Why Empathic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, coming out this month — gives parents “science-backed” tools for... more
Washable rugs?!
Have you ever tried to wash a rug? Inevitably, the plastic backing flakes off, not just in the washer, but all around the house.And yet, you can’t just ignore spit-up and potty-training accidents, right?Our favorite solution to this problem comes from Lorena Canals Rugs. This Barcelona-based company made its U.S. debut this year. We... more
New fetal care center
The Michael and Ann Ciresi Midwest Fetal Care Center — a new 6,700-square-foot clinic located in The Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis — opened March 14.It’s the first and largest advanced fetal care program in the Upper Midwest, made possible by a partnership involving Children’s Minnesota, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minnesota... more
MSP hacks for parents
July and August are the busiest months of the year at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the heaviest due to business commuters.Here are some amenities that might ease your pain: Quick Ride Ramp: Located a mile from Terminal 1 off Highway 5 at the Post Road exit, this ramp offers parking for $14... more
A look at screen time
Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age — a 2016 documentary that explores how much screen time is too much — is now available for screenings nationwide.We here at Minnesota Parent wish someone would screen the film locally this year. Find out how at screenagersmovie.com, where parents also can find tons of resources — including “pro-... more
Doing The Dells this summer?
Wisconsin Dells — the self-proclaimed Waterpark Capital of the World (and a popular destination for Twin Cities families) — has announced what’s new in town for the upcoming summer travel season. Here’s a sampling:Slideboarding: This new ride at Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort relies on a slideboard, which looks a bit like a short... more
Beware of pool drains
Under the federal law, all public pools and spas must have a variety of anti-entrapment systems installed.But not every pool or hot tub is public and not every pool is compliant with the law, which was named after a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by the suction from a hot-tub drain.Here’s what you need to know,... more
Chair-top high chair
Acccording to our mother of three (including twins) Moe-Mama’s Must-Haves blogger, Valerie Moe, the Ingenuity ChairMate High Chair straps securely to just about any dining chair and is easily portable. (Val used it on a picnic table and on a camping chair, too.)It features upright and recline positioning, four adjustable booster... more
My birth story
OK, this isn’t my WHOLE birth story.But I can tell you this: My son’s birth included a dose of morphine and a possibly-botched epidural installment (because of curvature in my spine), which meant I felt powerful contractions to the end.Why exactly did I receive a narcotic?I believe, ultimately, it was because I was afraid — of pain, of... more
The long road home
Jennifer Schwertfeger, a Mankato mother of three daughters, knows the trauma of NICU — and beyond — all too well.Her second daughter, Grace, was born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 6.2 ounces. Early on in her pregnancy, Schwertfeger faced complications, including a torn placenta in her sixth week and a large blood clot attached to... more
Books for mamas-to-be
Whether you’re a new-mom-to-be on a quest for fresh knowledge, a friend looking for a fun baby-shower book or a grandparent in search of a perfect Mother’s Day gift for your daughter, we hope you’ll find something in this mix to pique your interest. Ma Doula: A Story Tour of BirthYou’ll hear a lot of birth stories during your... more
Algebra guide
New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Larry Gonick continues his popular series of math, history and science books with The Cartoon Guide to Algebra ($18.99) — 222 playful pages tackling essentials such as variables, quadratic equations, rates, proportion and more. Paperback, e-book, Kindle and iPad versions are all... more
Builder set
Got an aspiring builder on your hands?Brackitz ($59.95 for a 100-piece set) — small wooden planks that connect to clear plastic brackets — allow for a multitude of creations that won’t sag or tip over as easily as some other sets.Find sets at store.discovery.com or amazon.com. more
Play props
Does your kids’ dress-up box need refreshing? We recommend these sturdy, wearable Props in a Box ($74.99), available in themes such as The Princess & The Chef, The Dinosaur & The Pirate, The Astronaut & The Fisherman and The Doctor & The Farmer. Kids can use the included props and backdrop with each set to create... more
Self-care guide
Minnetonka author and mother of four Julie Burton is coming out with an encouraging book for moms this May.The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother's Must-Have Guide to Health And Well-Being ($16.95) includes Burton’s own highly personal postcards from the edge of parenting (and the consequences of self-neglect) as well as... more
Stylish designs by a local mom
Meet Kimberly Senn of Edina.The now-mother of two boys left her career in advertising in 2009.During that time, she painted three canvases to hang over her baby’s crib — a triptych of a paper airplane soaring away. Her artwork quickly became a hit with friends and family, and Senn found herself making art — a lot of it — for a... more
Pillowfort is here!
Target’s new kid-centric decorating line — playfully named Pillowfort — is out now and we have to admit: It’s pretty adorable. Created by Target’s internal product design and development team, the line is crafted to appeal to parents and their kids, including a variety of themes that aren’t overly boyish or girly. Prices for... more
Got multiples?
If you’re parenting or expecting multiples, Welcome Baby Care needs you! Birth rates for multiples are increasing, and the Edina-based postpartum doula agency wants to learn from local parents about their needs. Parents or expecting parents of multiples are invited to share their most pressing challenges in a 23-question online... more
We're hiring a summer intern!
Minnesota Parent — an award-winning, 50,000-circulation glossy monthly magazine serving the Twin Cities — is looking for a journalism or writing student to serve as its 2017 summer intern. This position includes writing, reporting, researching and interviewing during the summer months at Twin Cities summer camps and classes. Our... more
Board book treasures
Sundogs A to ZKay Elliott of Richfield came out with her first children’s book, Sundogs: Journey to the Great Windmill, in 2012, appealing to young readers with dogs of many vibrant colors (dedicated to all the canines she’s called her own). When Elliott learned she would become a grandmother for the first time, she decided to write a... more
Study guide
Early spring is ACT season in Minnesota. Elizabeth Smart — president and founder of a boutique online tutoring company that prepares students for the SAT, ACT, AP and SAT exams — has crafted a concise ACT-prep pocket guide: Acing the ACT: An Elite Tutor's Guide to Tricky Questions and Secret Strategies that Make a Big Different ($12.99)... more
Why a camp on a college campus?
Vonda White — a longtime insurance broker and now the founder of Camp Pillsbury — came to Minnesota in 2014.Her journey started about six years ago when she was living in Florida and looking for summer activities for her three kids. She wanted something to further their interests in the arts. Her administrative assistant suggested a... more
Quote cards
You know your kid says outlandish and hilarious things all the time, right? But how can you capture those cute quotes beyond the occasional Tweet or Facebook post? Check out Milestone Mini Cards: These 100 small cards ($20), which come in a simple keepsake box, could be just the thing to motivate you.  more
Wipes for sensitive skin
A new natural baby wipe has hit the market and the Amazon reviews are overwhelmingly positive (tinyurl.com/new-wipes). Bloom Baby Sensitive Wipes are made with “HydroPure water that comes from a glacier,” plus plant-derived vitamins A, B-complex and D, and hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion. And they’re made with 100 percent wind energy... more
Foodie magazines for kids!
Which would you rather have your kids learn — where food comes from (and how to cook and eat it) or the habits of dinosaurs?This pointed question comes from Jill Colella, the St. Paul founder of not one but two gorgeous bimonthly magazines for kids that encourage food savvy as well as early reading: Ingredient is for ages 6–12 and, new... more
Solace for moms
You are enough. And Jacquelyn B. Fletcher’s hand-stamped words — in Dear You: Messages For Moms, released in February ($16.95) — will give you permission to connect fearlessly with that truth. Billed as a manifesto for mothers, Fletcher’s latest book (a sweet Mother’s Day gift) features the imagined voice of Your Heart, which gives... more
Why we need camps!
Have you picked up our Camp Issue (or perhaps paged through our e-edition) yet?It's a whopper.Yep: March is our biggest issue of the year for Minnesota Parent.Why? Summer camps — whether you’re looking for a half-day camp for your preschooler or an overnight camp for your teen — have become a tremendously important part of growing up in... more
Yoga dolls
Celebrity yoga-instructor Alanna Zabel has created the world’s first yoga doll collection — known as AZIAM Girlz.Each doll ($29.95) features articulated joints that allow for a full range of motion. In fact, they’re flexible enough to do all common yoga poses. Asana, the first in the series of dolls, comes with doll-size fitness... more
Spout router
Tired of your kid banging her head into the metal bath fixture?The Bath Spout Extender and Cover by Aqueduck ($12.99), invented by a mom, attaches to nearly any bathtub faucet, creating a curved spout that directs the running water onto a child’s head, shoulders and back — without the risk of a head bump.   more
Freezer trays
If you’re pumping breast milk or making your own baby food, check out Milkies Food Trays ($21.95 for two) from Fairhaven Health. Each tray freezes eight 1-ounce portions, allowing you to thaw the exact amount of food or milk you need for each feeding. Frozen “milk sticks” fit through all bottle openings and can be popped out and stored... more
Get 'Untangled'
“There is a predictable pattern to teenage development, a blueprint for how girls grow. When you understand what makes your daughter tick, she suddenly makes a lot more sense.” So says author and psychologist Lisa Damour in her new book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood. Billed as... more
The imperfect life
Parenting in the modern age — let’s face it — is complicated. To use the words of Jen Hatmaker in her viral essay for Today: We don’t just drink “a case of Tab” and send our kids outside for the day like parents of yore.No, we try to manage everything into a state of perfection. And things today are so not perfect.So, in our... more
Why you should drink New Zealand wine
If you’re a wine drinker, you may have noticed that a lot of wine comes out of New Zealand, especially sauvignon blanc, the country’s most famed grape. What you might not know, however, is that Minnesota now boasts a local connection to the kiwi wine scene: Nigel Avery of Sileni Estates — a certified sustainable winery in the famous wine... more
How to avoid flame retardants
Did you know that many household products — upholstered furniture, mattresses and children’s products, especially those containing foam (such as changing table pads and car seats) — can contain toxic flame-retardants?Once thought to slow the spread of fire, flame retardants have proven to be ineffective while also posing serious human... more
Coloring books for grownups!
Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. In fact, publishers are catering to adults like never before with a bevy of adult coloring books released in the past year. The Doctor Who Coloring Book? Yep, that’s a thing. There’s also an Indie Rock Coloring Book (featuring pages dedicated to bands like Bon Iver and Iron & Wine) and The Tattoo... more
LGBTQ stories
Listening Library and Penguin Young Readers have just launched a new resource for LGBTQ teens, parents, teachers and librarians: Read Proud Listen Proud. Readers can find suggested books and audiobooks highlighting LGBTQ issues and characters, along with author interviews and discussion guides at readproudlistenproud.com. The site... more
Fort-making fun!
Pillow-fort season is upon us! Keep cabin fever at bay with a Discovery Kids 77-piece build-and-play construction set ($19.99). We recommend you buy two sets (or supplement your fort-making endeavors with your own furniture) if you want to create a roomy playhouse. Retailers include JC Penney, Kohl's, TJ Maxx, Toys R Us and... more
Sneeze sleeve
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends coughing and sneezing into the upper sleeve to help stop germs from spreading.For a kid with a major cold, that’s a lot of sleeve slime. Enter the Sneeve — a disposable, anti-microbial sleeve designed to absorb the yucky stuff ($6.99 for a box of 7).Sized for ages 3 to 8, the... more
Car-seat cozy
Keep Baby warm this winter — and avoid the unsafe use of puffy coats, which can compromise car-seat effectiveness — with the Cocoon ($59) from 7 A.M. Enfant. It has an elastic base for easy installation and removal, plus central and side zippers for quick access. It has a water-repellent outer shell and is machine washable, too. more
Plymouth teen honored
Fourteen-year-old Maria Keller of Plymouth has been named a 2015 honoree by the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for her non-profit organization, Read Indeed.Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates 25 inspiring, public-spirited young people who have made a significant positive difference in the world. Maria was honored for her work in... more
Toothbrush delivery!
Did you know dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months?It’s not because the bristles wear out. Alas. It’s because the average toothbrush contains more than 10 million bacteria, often including E. coli and staph. Ew. Hint: Flush your toilet with the lid down to reduce airborne bacteria that can collect on your... more
Winter's joy!
Minnesota winters can be harsh, sure. But brrrrrr is our thing: We can take pride in our resilience and the fact that we have real seasons here. Honestly, who wants to live in California where it’s 70 degrees every day? (Wait, don’t answer that.) OK, so how can we teach our kids to enjoy and embrace the crisp, clean air of winter? Check... more
Portable play mat
The SassyPop Play Pod ($59.99) features gorgeous bright colors, five detachable toys and an especially large base with double padding and high sides to corral your kid.But what really sets it apart is that it twists and collapses down, arches and all, into a convenient travel/storage bag so you can take in on the go — maybe to... more
Are you a deal seeker?
How do these deals sound to you? • Take $2 off each admission ticket at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul.• Get $5 off a purchase of $25 or more at the Hard Rock Café at the Mall of America.• Enjoy two-for-one admission at any of the four Pump It Up locations in the Twin Cities.These are just a few of the local discounts... more
Zip-up bedding
OK, it’s time your kid took some responsibility for making his own bed. Get him started on the Operation Tidy Kid with a ZippySack ($29.99 for twin, $39.99 for full). This seen-on-TV zippered fleece blanket, available in a variety of styles, fits snuggly over a mattress (just like a fitted sheet). It includes a storage pocket for... more
Ouch-friendly animals
When your child suffers a bump on the head or body, there’s nothing quite so unappealing as a hard, blue freezing cold ice pack. Fortunately, there’s now a better way to bring your kid relief and show some TLC.Thermal-Aid zoo animals are filled with specially milled, de-germinated corn that can hold hot and cold temperatures (yes,... more
WhipEye author honored
St. Paul author Geoffrey Saign has hit the jackpot with his 2014 book, WhipEye.Not only are teachers, kids and Amazon reviewers raving about his middle-grade urban fantasy thriller (the first in a series), it’s also received two pretty big literary honors this year — first place in children’s fiction from the 2015 International Book... more
Don't unplug
How could it possibly be December?Minnesota’s weather has been so dreamy — so delightfully mild — this fall! There’s no possible way I’m going to be prepared for the holidays in time (not that I ever am).And, yet, I have no regrets: When you get a chance to pick apples in late October, take bike rides in November and skip wearing... more
5 cool games for kids
Today’s games and puzzles are so well-designed — and in tune with kids’ and parents’ needs — they seem to play more like toys! And that’s making more and more of our playtime downright educational. Check out these awesome games (including a local favorite) for stocking stuffers and more!  Cat StaxWhy we love it: This game’s... more
Larger than life
If you’re looking for something extra-special for your kid’s room, we have just the thing: Local woodworker Gary Moore is making toy boxes that look like LEGO bricks (sold as OGEL toy boxes) as well as shelving-storage units designed to look like giant Etch A Sketches (sold as Stretch-A-Sketches).Moore, who hails from Cardiff, Wales... more
Holiday books for kids!
Christmas can truly be a magical time for our kids. As parents, we get to relive the wonder of it all, while also imparting — and often inventing — family traditions. One of the rituals in my family is reading holiday books together. I don’t keep holiday books in rotation during the rest of the year, however. They get put away with the... more
Teaching tablecloth
The Table-Time Look & Learn Mostly Math Tablecloth ($19.99) for ages 18 months to 6 years features a wide variety of lessons — including counting to 50, addition, geometric shapes, “greater than / less than,” telling time, months of the year and more than 20 other math concepts.It’s made from PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate),... more
Hugaboo baby seat
If a Boppy pillow and a Bumbo seat got together and had a kid, it would probably result in something a lot like the Hugaboo baby seat ($59.99).This 100 percent polyester floor seat offers leg and back support for ages 3 months and older. It includes an attached seat bottom to keep Baby from sliding onto the floor, plus two hoops for... more
Bob is back!
Bob the Builder — a longtime classic amongst the toddler set — is back as of Nov. 7 with a new look and feel, ending a nearly three-year hiatus. (New episodes of Bob the Builder haven’t aired in the U.S. since 2012.)Viewers can expect an entirely new look for the series (updated CGI-animation) and its namesake, Bob, plus and an extra-... more
Nordstrom open at Ridgedale
Big news for Nordstrom fans: The new Ridgedale location in Minnetonka is now open and includes some family-friendly features — just in time for your holiday shopping escapades.In the kids’ apparel and shoe department, families will find a playhouse with a 32-inch touch screen with interactive games, plus a selection of books and toys.... more
The wonders of kinetic sand!
Early childhood experts are always talking about how kids don’t need special toys: Just give a kid a cup, bowl or stick and let his imagination do the rest. This, they say, is how children learn — organic, creative, unplugged, self-directed play.And, for the most part, I believe this is true, especially for babies. (Check out... more
Bouqs arrive in Minneapolis!
Need a quick, super-last-minute hostess gift or holiday greeting?The Bouqs Co., a floral-delivery service, has arrived in Minneapolis, offering same-day bouquets with free delivery.Thanks to a partnership with Lake Harriet Florist, you can order flowers to be delivered in as little as two hours in select areas of the Twin Cities.Bouqs... more
Car headrest for kids
Parents, you know that moment when your kid zonks out in the car: Finally, you can enjoy a bit of peace and quiet!But then you hit a bump, turn a corner or go around a sharp curve, and your kid slumps awkwardly into a cringe-worthy head-bob position. The Cardiff travel headrest ($49.99) — ideal for kids in backless booster seats —... more
Gift books!
Books make awesome holiday presents, don’t you think? These new gems are ideal for families looking for something fresh, entirely unexpected and, we think, delightful (any time of year). Enjoy! LEGO Awesome IdeasLooking to get your kids to actually reuse their LEGOs for creative free building — rather than just buying... more
Toys we love!
What do you get when you put 20 kids — age 1 to 10 — in a room full of brand-new toys? Our curious and cute testers, all Minnesota kids, found 30 great toy picks for holiday gift giving.Read on to find the full results to our annual Toy Test, including options for all ages, starting with toys for infants and on up to top picks for... more
Stroller caddy
Keeping your most important items at your fingertips while you’re out with Baby is essential.  This Stroller Organizer Tray from Prince Lionheart ($25) features two cup holders and three storage areas. We like the Velcro-closure pocket that allows you to tuck your phone away from the elements. Four adjustable hook-and-loop straps... more
Tooth fairy fun!
When that first baby tooth starts to wiggle, you know your child is about to hit a major milestone or, rather, a series of milestones: From the age of about 5 to 12, the average child loses 20 baby teeth. That’s a lot of visits from the tooth fairy! These fun books and keepsakes will help you revel in the excitement, stimulate... more
Faucet extender for toddlers
Little hands need a lot of washing — especially during cold-and-flu season. Help your kid easily reach the water with a faucet extender from Prince Lionheart, available in four colors.Combine one of these with a sturdy step stool and your toddler will be washing up on his own in no time, right? We found two for $9.99 at target.com. more
Baked apple chips
If you just came back from a Minnesota apple orchard with a 10-pound bag of apples (what a steal!) — and you’re not quite sure what to do with them all — try this recipe from the new cookbook: Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks. Once you’ve made it, this recipe should be easy to remember: Bake for 2 hours at 200 degrees... more
Works of art
Are you looking for new and interesting kids’ books for your family (or perhaps for some early holiday gifts)? Either way, put these three great finds on your list.So much greatness is going on in the world of children’s books — including folk art, comics and more — we parents have no excuse to not read to — or with — our kids... more
We're back to school! Now what?
We’re no longer heading back to school.We’re back. We’re in the thick of the school year now — whether that’s preschool, elementary, middle or high school — and we’re dealing with all the challenges that come with that.We’re back to homework, behavior issues, time-out chairs, test stress, bullying and everything else that comes... more
Portable booster seat
The BubbleBum ($29.99) is an inflatable, portable car booster seat that’s ideal for those times when you don’t have access to your kid’s regular booster. Think vacations, rental cars, taxis or carpooling with friends. We tried it and loved how easy it was to deflate and pack down into a bag about the size of a small loaf of bread (... more
No more floppy buckles
You’ve got a backseat packed with three kids. They each need their seat belts buckled. But two of the buckle slots butt right up against each other — and flop around so the kids end up putting buckles in the wrong slots. Meanwhile, all the kids have varying levels of buckling skills and patience. MyBuckleMate (now available in bright red... more
Books for kindergarten and beyond
Reading to our children is fun — and can bring us hours of enjoyment and quality time together (especially if bedtime goes well)! But what happens when it’s time to get the kids to read to themselves?Fortunately, there are oodles of resources out there to foster a lifelong love of reading.  The newly published list — 50 Best... more
Beanstack books for your child
The Saint Paul Public Library is the first library in the state to offer a new — free — children’s book-recommendation service called Beanstack for ages infant to 12. Families anywhere can sign up for book-recommendation emails based on their children’s reading skills, age and interests such as “Ninjas, Pirates and Warriors,” “... more
Spider treats!
Food-crafting expert Ashley Fox Whipple — in her new book Super Cute Crispy Treats: Nearly 100 Unbelievable No-Bake Desserts — takes rice crispy treats to a whole new level with flavors like caramel and sea salt, peanut butter and jelly, pretzel and chocolate and even Kool-Aid, such as the grape-flavored spider recipe you see... more
Suds up with SoapSox!
Finally, there’s a stuffed animal your kid can take into the tub: SoapSox creatures ($14.95) — made of soft polyester terry cloth — each have a soap chamber. Simply “feed” your SoapSox pal soap (bar or liquid), immerse in water and scrub, using built-in finger pockets and an antimicrobial sponge on the inside that helps you build up... more
It's apple season!
Minnesota's apples are ripe and ready!And with more than 125 apple orchards open to the public across the state — including more than 20 near the metro area — that’s a beautiful thing.Local orchards cater to families with farms tours, petting zoos, hayrides, gift shops, apple-picking opportunities and apple treats of all sorts.And many... more
Kid-friendly coffeehouse
Southwest Bloomington isn’t exactly a hotbed for independent gourmet coffee. But the newly established Mugshots Coffee Co. — at 10518 France Ave. S. — is a definite exception to that rule, serving locally roasted Dogwood Coffee (including espresso drinks as well as Chemex and Clever Dripper pour overs), local pastries and dairy... more
Your Twin Cities guidebook
Tom Weber, a host for Minneapolis Public Radio, is out with a new book encouraging local exploration — 100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die.“A lot of times people hear about cool things and make that mental note, ‘I should do that some day,’” he said. “When it comes time to think of things to do, they forget. I hope this is... more
A ball just for babies
Instructions for the Noisy Ball ($25) — based on a traditional folk design — are quite simple, really: Grab, shake, squeeze. Crinkle, jingle, squeak. Its 36 soft velour panels in nine vibrant colors are designed to engage a baby’s senses of sight, touch and sound. And it’s machine washable.   more
Minnesota nature centers
Minnesota is home to a stunning selection of nature centers that offer programming for even the youngest of kids — as well as older explorers and would-be naturalists. Below are some highlights. Find more at exploreminnesota.com.Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul, dodgenaturecenter.orgEastman Nature Center, Dayton, tinyurl... more
Home, sweet, home with Baby
Life changes dramatically when you have a baby — and that includes your home. Here are five products designed to help families keep their abodes clean and beautiful despite bouncy seats, activity mats and Boppy pillows stuffed into every corner. Cozy crib Stokke, which became a household name in 1972 with its modern Z-line... more
Books for babies
 Babies love to read books! Here are some of our top picks, all new to bookstores in the past year, including engaging animals, photos of a real infant in action and a Minnesota twist on a timeless classic. Goodnight LoonYou’ll find the same charming rhythm and rhyming of the Margaret Wise Brown original in this delightfully... more
Explore the Twin Cities with a cool, local app
Traveling around Minneapolis-St. Paul just got a lot more fun! Kid Around Town, a new free app by Twin Cities app designer and mama Aneela Kumar, is a family-friendly travel guide to top destinations around the Cities, featuring virtual scavenger hunts, trivia questions, photo challenges and a variety of other city “missions.”Developed... more
The business of being (re)born
Minnesota Parent’s annual Baby Issue is on stands now!It’s one of my favorite magazines to produce every year because — in my opinion — few things are more interesting, more complicated, more challenging or more fun (yes, really) than babies.Babies are the beginning of everything.Yes, they’re starting their own lives. And that’s... more
Summer's not over
What a strange time of year this is for us Minnesota parents: We’re reluctant to let go of our cherished last gasps of true warmth — and all the fun that summer brings.And yet, school-supply lists have been out for weeks (or longer). This year my son starts school on Aug. 31, which just makes it feel particularly early.Fortunately, our... more
Teen pens anti-bullying book
Aija Mayrock was bullied throughout middle school and high school. Through it all, however, she learned a lot — and, at the age of 16, she wrote a lively, fun book to help kids age 10 and older not just survive, but thrive in the face of bullying. The Survival Guide to Bullying ($9.99) features tips, personal stories and quick... more
sKIDaddlers knows places to go!
When Renee Piersa of Bloomington and Erica Myking of Burnsville became parents they quickly discovered the vast array of family friendly activities available in the Twin Cities.It didn’t take long before the longtime best friends — both Apple Valley natives, both moms to two girls, both working full-time — had a list of favorites... more
In-person princess parties!
Princess-themed parties have been around for a long time, but the sensation of Anna and Elsa has given the trend a dramatic boost.Tiny Diva Princess Party offers a variety party options with characters from Frozen, including a single princess for $175, two characters for $300 (Anna and Elsa or Anna and Kristoff) or a cast of four (Anna,... more
Super new swaddler
Fussy babies love to be swaddled, but in summer, there’s always a risk of overheating your baby with too much fabric.The Ollie Swaddle  ($48) for ages newborn to 4 months is made with a custom moisture-wicking material to minimize overheating, and its elasticity allows for freedom of movement, along with an opening at the bottom... more
Squatchi shoe sizer
 Shoe shopping with a toddler can be a total pain.And, yet, you need your little one along with you to get just the right size — or do you? With a Squatchi ($19.99), parents can measure tiny feet at home. Made of durable polystyrene, the Squatchi can be a keepsake, too, if you write you kid’s size on it every year before the start... more
Party on, Twin Cities!
AMUSEMENTSRainbow Play Systems showroom, Bloomington — Sarah Fejfar, Mendota HeightsGrand Slam, Burnsville — Kelly Marsh, Prior LakePump It Up — Jenny MacCourt, PlymouthBrunswick Zone. Very organized and I just sat back. Everything was taken care of! — Shauna Coble, Saint FrancisMemory Lanes, Minneapolis —... more
A bucket list for Minnesota families
Minnesota has so many amazing attractions for families, it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, Christie Gove-Berg, a Minnesota native, Forest Lake resident and mother of three, has created a handy glossy paperback guidebook: Minnesota Must-See for Families: An A-to-Z List ($12.95), including tourist attractions both natural... more
Toy-sharing takes off
Most parents love to provide new toys for their children to keep them learning — and engaged for more than a few minutes. Brand-new toys, however, are just plain expensive. Fortunately, Twin Cities businesses and organizations are stepping up to fill that need.Elizabeth Wilcox of Golden Valley — a mother, a former Chinese-immersion... more
Sisterly love
These books are thoughtful, helpful and delightful most of the time, but sisters can be tricky, too, especially if you’re trying to welcome a baby sister home (and become a Big Brother) or if you’re trying to become a Big Sister (to your new baby brother).  Even not having a sister can be hard, especially when you have triplet... more
Let's get moving!
 I used to exercise all the time. I loved the gym! OK, liked is more accurate. But it felt good to work out. I especially liked the challenge of the escalator stair machine. Hot yoga, kick boxing and hiking were my other favorites.Then I had my son. And, boy, did I get lazy with working out. I was tired... more
Cool shark pool
The Roarin’ Shark Shade Pool ($34.99) from Intex is 80 inches wide and holds 32 gallons of water. Its partial sunshade and inflatable floor make it a good fit for the toddler set.It’s recommended for ages 2 and older. more
Shopping cart hammock
Let your baby sack out in a mini hammock while you shop — and you’ll still have room for groceries.Designed for standard carts (typically 20 to 24 inches wide) this little hammock from BinxyBaby ($49.95) can also hold an infant car seat (safety strap included).And it stores small: Simply roll it up... more
Rock out with the Teddy Bear Band
This year marks the Teddy Bear Band’s 30th anniversary. To celebrate, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the state of Minnesota have proclaimed June 28 Teddy Bear Band Day in honor of the group’s decades of early childhood music education for young kids, including 8,000 concerts to date! You can stomp and clap with the band ... more
Rainy day fun
Not every summer day is sunny. Thunderstorms often chase us indoors. But you don’t have to stay cooped up at home, thanks to nearly 30 Minnesota bowling alleys offering FREE bowling for kids, all summer long.See kidsbowlfree.com for details.   more
25 great get-outside ideas
You look outside. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. Sunlight is pouring into the house. But your kids don’t like the sunlight, they say: It’s causing screen glare and interrupting their cartoon videos, their Clash of Clans, their Monster Legends, their Minecraft.This is your cue.Send them outside. (No, you won’t be playing with them. No... more
Cherry clafoutis
This baked French dessert (kla-foo-TEE) features fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick, flan-like batter.Ingredients1 tablespoon unsalted butter2 eggs2 egg yolks½ cup all-purpose flour4 tablespoons sugar½ teaspoon kosher salt1 ½ cups heavy cream1 teaspoon vanilla extract8 ounces... more
Snack-time gear
Squeez’Ems (reusable screw-top food pouches) and Pack’Ems (reusable snack bags, pictured below) help you cut back on disposable packaging.We like the pouches because they allow you to serve homemade applesauce (and other gooey foods) on the go.The snack bags, which feature Velcro closures, can be folded down flat when... more
Explore outdoors!
Little Owl’s DayIn this sequel to Little Owl’s Night, our wide-eyed little friend wakes up in broad daylight and discovers a forest he’s never seen, full of sunlight and daytime activities. He sees backward-flying dragonflies, wolf pups and his first rainbow. Then it’s his turn to show off. He keeps Bear up late, just long enough to see... more
Explore outdoors!
 Little Owl’s DayIn this sequel to Little Owl’s Night, our wide-eyed little friend wakes up in broad daylight and discovers a forest he’s never seen, full of sunlight and daytime activities. He sees backward-flying dragonflies, wolf pups and his first rainbow. Then it’s his turn to show off. He keeps Bear up late, just long enough... more
Portable high chair
Created for kids up to 3 years old, the ciao! baby portable high chair is freestanding, lightweight (8 pounds) and unfolds easily, ideal for picnics, camping or even dining out. It includes a clear vinyl top tray that easily wipes clean, a built-in cup holder and a lap belt. It’s also tested and approved to meet high-chair standards set... more
Summer's almost here! Ready to explore?
When I was pregnant, my husband and I talked a lot about how we’d take our baby hiking.Living in Seattle at the time, we were big into outdoorsy stuff — backcountry camping, epic day hikes and 40-mile bike rides.Maybe we’ll get one of those bike trailer things, we thought. And we’d definitely need a backpack baby carrier.Well, it turned... more
A science podcast for kids!
Looking for a fresh way to bring science to life? Brains On! — a new podcast for kids — answers a variety of listener questions. Each episode is about 25 minutes long and is hosted by a different kid. Find out: How and why do jellyfish sting?What makes paint stick? How do volcanoes erupt? Does video game music affect you?In a world in... more
Get crafting with fun boxes by local moms
Two local stay-at-home moms — Nikki Anderson of Plymouth and Bethany Wilde of Minneapolis — have started a new service that delivers boxes full of simple, nature-inspired crafts to your doorstep.Blossom Box Kids’ subscription options include three months of boxes for $55, 6 months for $100 and a year for $200. Or... more
Teething toy
Chewbeads — a popular maker of colorful, chew-safe necklaces — has introduced a stroller / car seat toy attachment known as the Gramercy. It seems like the perfect distraction for curious babies who like to touch, tug, and chew on the go. It’s 100 percent silicone and available in four colors.$15 • chewbeads.com more
Clothes: Contained!
The Quick Change Clothes bag from Free Like Birdie helps you keep clean clothes organized. One zippered side is for clean items and the other is for dirty laundry. It’s waterproof to keep odors and moisture from escaping, ideal for day trips, daycare and more. It’s 8x9.5x3 inches, so you can nest it easily in another bag. $30... more
Made-in-Minnesota maps
Map Your Travels, a St. Louis Park-based mall business, has just the thing to inspire travel planning — a 50 States, 50 Places map with the top U.S. sites for families (easy to check off with the enclosed stickers) and a Ballparks of Major League Baseball map, which shows 60 stadiums (past and present).Both... more
Liberating book
David McCullough’s book urges kids to stop trying to be perfect. Born from a commencement speech by the author (a high school English teacher and a father of four), the book aims to “liberate kids from the me-centered attitudes encouraged by our culture.” They aren’t special. “Let them be, rather, part of something bigger than themselves... more
Do you let your kids roam?
Are you a free-range parent? Or do you, like me, fall into the “reluctant helicopter” camp?Do you let your children play unsupervised, running around your neighborhood for entire afternoons without knowing their exact whereabouts? Would you let your kids walk home from the park even if it were a mile away and crossed a six-lane... more
Local clothing companies cater to kids
Twin Cities parents: If you like to get creative when it comes to outfitting your kids, you’re living in the right city!The Patchery — the brainchild of Amber Gunn Thomas of Plymouth, a marketing professional and mother of two — is inviting parents to become part of the clothing-design process.Here’s how it works: Visit the thepatchery.... more
Wearable books!
Donnie Lemke, a children’s book editor who lives in St. Paul, and Bob Lentz, an art director in Bloomington, have joined forces — as Lemke & Lentz — to create a cool collection of interactive, die-cut books.Donnie Lemke with his daughter, CleoBob Lentz with his son, LincolnTheir super-sturdy Book-O-Beards, Book-O-Hats, Book-O-Teeth... more
Easy almond cookies!
IngredientsZest of 1 large lemon2 ¼ cups almond flour or meal¾ cup granulated sugar1 egg white1 teaspoon almond extract1 teaspoon vanilla extract½ cup powdered sugarMakes 2 dozen cookiesGluten freeInstructionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.Whisk together lemon zest, sugar and almond... more
All the way to Grand Marais
Lake Superior’s North Shore is one of the most popular destinations in the state with hot spots like Duluth, Two Harbors and Lutsen at the top of the list for many Twin Cities families. Fewer folks go the 17 miles past Lutsen to make their final destination the far-flung Lake Superior harbor village of Grand Marais. Grand... more
Tough Shades
Babiators ($20-$30) — designed for ages 6 months and older — look stylin’, yes. But what’s more? They’re nearly unbreakable and, if you do break or even lose them within a year of purchase, the company will send you a free replacement pair, as long as you register your pair within 30 days of purchase (shipping isn’t covered). more
College-prep book
Beverly Gillen, a Minnetonka mother of two grown daughters and a parenting educator, has published the ultimate get-going-early guide for kids and parents who have their sights set on college.Get Connected for College: The Savvy Student’s Guide to College Prep ($19.95) covers the top 100 college... more
Drool-proof your laptop
Does your toddler love to drool on your laptop while he FaceTimes with Nana or watches YouTube Elmo videos?The Kid Lid ($29) straps easily on to 13- and 15-inch Apple and PC laptops to protect them from liquids as well as unwanted typing.We put it to the test — with a lot of kid pounding and pressing — and the keyboard was... more
The Baby Nutty
New this spring from high-quality helmet-maker Nutcase, is The Baby Nutty helmet ($44.99) for ages 12 months and older (for heads 47 to 50 centimeters in diameter) — because “Even babies wanna bike.”With the popularity of balance bikes among toddlers soaring, it makes sense to start them young on head protection. Styles so far... more
Sticky bellies! (The good kind!)
It’s incredibly fun to celebrate the many milestone of your baby’s first year. Sticky Bellies stickers make it easy. Each set includes 13 stickers with themes like Sporty Shorty, Little Trooper, Wild One (animals), Painted Pixie and many others, including a pack of Baby's First Holidays. We love these as a baby shower gift ($14).... more
Don't worry, Mama
You’re pregnant! For the first time!Or, maybe, again! Again? With twins! Twins!? Yep: You’re about to experience something awesome, dare I say, miraculous. And, yet … a pregnancy can also leave you wondering: What was I thinking? Never are the sublime and mundane so tightly intertwined as when you contemplate bringing a new life into the... more
Dye-free egg-coloring
If you’re looking to avoid chemical dyes for egg-coloring this Easter (April 5) — but shudder at the thought of making your own with beets and turmeric — we have good news.Glob Colors has done the work for you by creating its Natural Easter Egg Coloring Kit ($14) — vibrant dyes made from radish, cabbage and annatto... more
Beyond bento: This lunch box rocks!
We were skeptical of the stainless steel lunch boxes from PlanetBox.But then we tried The Rover ($59.95 with necessary accessories), designed for kids (or even adults) who like a wide variety of foods in smaller not-touching portions.Yes, it’s heavy — 2.5 pounds empty, including the must-have carry bag.But we... more
Child care web sites
College Nannies and TutorsThis site was founded in Minnesota by Joseph Keeley, a business-school student who took a job as a nanny — or “manny” — caring for children in Edina in the summer of 2000. This popular site has grown into a large organization offering on-call child-care, nanny-placement services and more to families across ... more
V-Day inspiration!
Valentine's day falls on a Saturday this year. Um, yeah, like, THIS Saturday.What’s your plan, parents?How about … brunch at home!We know: Couples with kids (especially little kids) tend to push romance to the back burner. But with this easy plan, you don’t have to! You can even invite the kids! Single parenting? Make it FOR the kids!... more
Catch-all placemat?
The Cibo — a cute, two-eyed silicone mat that sticks to most table surfaces — eats up little-kid messes not just at meal times (think rice and other small foods), but also during craft or cookie projects (think glitter and sprinkles). It’s dishwasher safe to boot (top rack only). thecibo.com • $24.99  more
Shush, baby. Shush.
When it comes to soothing fussy babies, nothing beats the five Ss (shushing, swinging, swaddling, sucking and side/stomach positioning).That’s partly why two beleaguered parents from Austin, Texas invented The Baby Shusher.They found that shushing worked well for their baby, but they soon realized it wasn’t easy to deliver the right... more
Bedtime game-changer?
Are you sick of bedtime battles and — when you do finally get your kid in bed — the same old picture books?Well, maybe we parents ought to change things up a bit.John Olive, a Minneapolis father, author and playwright, has a suggestion: Put the books aside once in a while. Instead, dim the lights, lie down and make up your own stories.... more
Museum: Bigger and better!
Good news! The Minnesota Children’s Museum has announced a $28 million building expansion to provide 34 percent more space for visitors.All the museum’s galleries will be reinvented to focus on the important skills kids develop through free play. Other new additions will include a four-story climbing tower, a cafe with a seating area, a... more
Winter stories
Yes, winter’s cold, windy and, in Minnesota, oh-so long. But it’s also a season like no other. There’s no better time for baking, hot cocoa, skating, skiing and sledding! Embrace these last weeks — months? — of winter with some of our favorite seasonal books, plus a couple from our readers, too! You Can Do It, SamCold and snowy... more
Chic breast-pump bags
Sarah Wells’ breast-pump bags allow moms to operate pumps without having to set up and break down equipment.The leather Annie features cooler compartments, plus a main compartment large enough to hold a laptop and other items. The bags fit portable pumps, including Medela Pump in Style and Freestyle, Hygeia,... more
PlayTape rocks!
Beat cabin fever by building your own roads or railways — ndoors! — with award-winning PlayTape, available in a variety of widths, lengths, colors and designs, including railway track. Vroom! Learn more at inroadtoys.com. Price: $7.99–12.99 more
Books tackle tough topics
Talking to kids about health, safety and sometimes even sports doesn’t necessarily come naturally to parents. Thank goodness for creative writers! This month, we’ll help you cover some tricky topics, including personal safety and strategies for starting — and even struggling with — sports (from a precocious little girl’s perspective).... more
BoomBoom Prints
Are you an artist? Are you getting ready to decorate your baby’s nursery or your kid’s room? If so (and maybe even if not) you need to know about BoomBoom Prints! This Minneapolis-based startup, billed as “Etsy meets Pottery Barn Kids,” is an online marketplace of unique nursery decor and apparel designs. Artists, who get to use the site... more
Grammy No. 2 for the Okee Dokee Brothers?
The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest album, Through The Woods, has received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Children’s Album.We’re so not surprised. Their last album, Can You Canoe?, won a 2013 Grammy.If you don’t have these energetic, beautiful albums already, it’s time.They’re just what you need for indoor dance parties as winter drags... more
New apple!
January isn’t exactly the month you’d expect to see a brand-new apple variety coming to Minnesota grocery stores.But that’s exactly what’s happening, just in time to help with your eat-right New Year’s resolutions: Pazazz, a descendent of the popular Honeycrisp apple, is making its debut in a handful of U.S. markets, including... more
Embrace these apps!
Every day a new app comes along, promising to make life better, easier or more fun. But they can’t all be that great. Luckily for us, we have Valerie Moe, Minnesota Parent’s tech-savvy mom blogger from Bloomington.She’s into apps — like really into apps — and recently she’s been sharing some of her favorites for parents and parents-to-be... more
Fun holiday books!
Are you looking for cool new books to give as holiday gifts?Check out these gems!  Margaret Wise Brown trioBrown, the prolific writer best known for Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, is the author behind three new children’s books. Forty years after her untimely death in 1952 at age 42, dozens of Brown’s unpublished... more
Goodbye, stained, smelly containers
Some things — thermoses, travel mugs and even some water bottles — just don’t get clean in the dishwasher (or even in the sink with scrubbing). Bottle Bright tablets can clean even the nastiest of containers in minutes with amazing results, thanks to a bleach-free, certified-natural formula. You can even use them to clean caps lids... more
Guilt-free cookies
It’s inevitable. Christmas cookies, candies and other desserts are about to infiltrate your child’s diet — or try very hard to! But no matter how far off the deep end of indulgence you and your little ones fall this holiday season, you eventually have to get back to “normal” — and dial back the sugar. But instead of switching to carrot... more
Tiggly apps
Manipulating physical objects is essential to early childhood development — yes, even when the kids in question are using digital apps. So goes the mantra of Tiggly, the makers of interactive toys for tablets — including Shapes for toddlers and math-focused Counts for ages 3 to 6. Minnesota Parent’s 6-year-old toy tester tried both sets... more
A balance bike for winter
FirstBIKE, like any good balance bike, helps kids develop balance and eventually transition to a pedal bike. But this super-sturdy bike also features a rear-drum brake, a steering limiter, mud guards, sealed bearings and — perhaps most interestingly — a MonoSki attachment, allowing kids to transition “seamlessly from sun to snow.” It’s... more
LEGOs you can let go
Do you shudder a little when you buy your LEGO-loving kid yet-another set? Sure, they’re absolutely worth the cost, but they (and the cost) pile up fast. Solution: Rent LEGOs! Pley — a new monthly subscription service — is the Netflix of LEGOs (or Netbricks, you might say). You choose a set; they ship it; you build it, break it apart and... more
Parenting in the age of indulgence
’Tis is the season for excess and overindulgence. This time of year, we realize, isn’t quite normal. But, when you look at your family and consider the big picture, you might wonder: Are you giving your kids too much? Parents who are worried about overindulgence — and want simple strategies for what to do — are in luck: The University of... more
To the Salt Cave!
The Salt Cave — which opened last year in southwest Minneapolis — has expanded by adding a second cave in the basement of its location at 4811 Nicollet Ave. And this cave, loaded with 12,000 pounds of Himalayan rock salt, is tailor-made for kids.Toys and books are provided to engage children while they experience the health benefits of... more
Yoga for kids
Kid Yoga Minnesota and Sunshine Morning Care recently opened at 2836 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis. You’ll find kids’ yoga classes, of course, but also flexible morning child care, yoga camps, yoga training for classroom teachers and custom yoga classes for special needs individuals. Learn more at kidyogamn.com. more
The best new toys!
Yep, we did it again.We packed a bunch of kids (including our own), age 6 months to 9 years, into a room filled with play things for our annual toy test. Look what they found! Note: Though we list specific local retailers — who helped make this toy test possible with donations and loaner toys — many other local retailers and online... more
Fan faves!
OK, Minnesota parents, it’s your turn! Yep, this month you’re taking over our Bookshelf department, sharing your favorite books. Don’t see your top picks here? Tell us: What’s your favorite children’s book of all time (or this week)? Send the title, your first and last name and your city of residence to editor@mnparent.com and... more
Gotta-have-it gear
Babies and toddlers don’t, technically, need a lot of gear. But certain basics are essential (and it’s best to buy them new, not second hand): We’re talking pacifiers, teethers and sippy cups. Have a kid or two, and you’ll go through quite a few. Here are some of our favorites — old and new. Bonus: Want to learn how not to go crazy with... more
Lunch box inspiration
Is making a school lunch for your kid every day already feeling like an unbearable chore? We feel you! It’s time to get inspired: Minneapolis chef-mama Molly Herrmann doesn’t let the job get her down, even though her 9-year-old son, AJ, has peanut, tree-nut and shellfish allergies, plus a “bizarre aversion” to sandwiches (... more
Two new boutiques
OK, fashion-minded moms, we’ve got news for you: Two new clothing shops are now open in the Twin Cities!You’ll find NTY Kids just west of the Ridgedale shopping center in Minnetonka. Bright and cheerful, the shop is a pilot location for a new national chain of children’s resale stores. Among the store’s 50 featured brands you’ll find... more
A meal and cooking lesson in one
Imagine this: Family dinner is planned, the groceries are bought and all of the seasonings are measured and at your fingertips. But you didn’t have to do the leg work: All you have to do is turn up the heat in your kitchen.If you like to cook, but you dread answering the question: “What’s for dinner?”, check out Minneapolis-based... more
Fall fun on the farm!
Ah, autumn. It’s the perfect time to get out and explore Minnesota’s family farms. Here are a couple Minnesota Parent picks to get you inspired and motivated! (Hint: Bring cash or check. Not all farms take credit!)Pumpkin Patch PickOne of the ultimate destinations for fall family fun in the Twin Cities is Sever’s Corn Maze &... more
School choice? Plenty!
Educational choice is just one of the reasons Minnesota is a great place to raise our kids. Though traditional public schools in our state are some of the best, many Minnesota parents often take advantage of other avenues to education such as open enrollment in a school outside their home district, plus charter schools, magnet... more
Too much candy?
Is there such a thing? Kids on Halloween night will say, “No way!” But, parents, you know how easy it is to end up buried in sugary treats. What can you do? Check out the national Halloween Candy Buy Back program: Enter your ZIP at halloweencandybuyback.com to quickly find numerous Twin Cities dentists and orthodontists willing to pay $1... more
Explaining cancer
Imagine finding out you have breast cancer at age 39. Then picture trying to tell your sons, age 3 and 6.That’s what Katy Tessman Stanoch of Minnetonka had to do, along with explaining her surgery (a double mastectomy) and chemo treatments. Immediately, she and her husband tried to find a book they could read to their boys to help... more
Get personal!
I See Me! My Farm Friends from I See Me! — a cool Plymouth-based publishing company — is all about introducing adorable farm animals to kids. This hardcover book comes customized with your child’s name and photo on nearly every page. Its interior pages are glossy and sturdy, not quite board-book quality, but tough and super cute.... more
Sleep, baby, please!
To a new parent, nothing sounds better than a little extra sleep! But how can you get it? The Amma Parenting Center Book of Sleep ($12.95) by the Edina-based parenting center’s founder, registered nurse and midwife Sara Pearce, offers advice. New this year, the book offers an alternative to a cry-it-out sleep training. Amma’s trademarked... more
All dressed up!
From left to right: Ella Greene, 8 months, Farmington; Charlie and Julia Hanson, ages 4 and 10 months, Rogers; Ian Gabriel Chacon, 6 months, Apple ValleyClockwise from top left: Cole Helgeson, 3, Waconia; Olivia Moe, 9 months, Bloomington; Sophia Liu, 2, Eden Prairie; Elijah Daniels-Kriz, 7 months, BurnsvilleSam and Max... more
Education Fair
Need a FREE activity this Saturday? Join us at Minnesota Parent’s 9th-annual Education Fair at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory! Check out a variety of vendors offering ed opportunities in the classroom and beyond. And let the kids take part in a host of cool attractions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., all free:• Photo-booth sessions... more
Why you should go to Ren Fest this weekend!
This year, I went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for the first time.Everyone I knew (across all age groups and walks of life) had raved about it. Arguments for the awesomeness of this so-called “Ren Fest” included:* Turkey legs!* Mead!* Jousting!* Unlike some festivals that throw up and tear down tents and exhibits in parking lots... more
Oh, baby! What now?
It’s finally out: our annual Baby Issue, highlighting that glorious stage of parenting — the first one — with all its mind-blowing joys, mystifying, frustrating challenges and personal growth you never thought possible!How could you love something this much? And — oh, yeah — why is it so hard? (Remember when you used to compare your dog... more
Mom wisdom for new parents
What could be more awesome than a new baby?If you’re secretly thinking: “A lot of things, actually,” I feel you. (As I've said previously, I didn't "take" to the early stages of motherhood very easily!)Your baby is supposed to be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. But your little darling can turn your life (body, mind, spirit)... more
Super s'mores
S’mores are easy: Toast your marshmallow, then squeeze it — and a piece of chocolate —between two graham crackers.But there’s a serious problem no one ever seems to talk about with this traditional recipe: The chocolate never melts. And the result is a dry treat.Solution: Use Nutella — silky smooth chocolate-hazelnut spread —... more
Baker's joy!
Every mama needs a creative outlet. For Ashley Stentz — who lives in Brooklyn Park and works (as director) at the Laurel Village New Horizon Academy in downtown Minneapolis — it’s making cakes for her friends and family, including her sons, Aiden, 5, and Connor, 1. Stentz learned to bake by watching her Finnish grandmother when... more
First grade isn't any easier!
My son starts school on Tuesday.First grade!I thought this year would be easier.But today I woke at 3:30 a.m., worried.Anxiety: He’s taking the bus home from school for the first time this year and I still haven’t heard back from the bus folks to make sure he's on the schedule. (I filled out the form a tad late.)Will the teacher know to... more
Dino Might
Jessica Flannigan of Maple Grove — author of the Live the Fancy Life blog — knows how to throw gorgeous parties. Her oldest son Bodhi’s third birthday party this past spring was no  exception, even though she was starting her third trimester of pregnancy during the planning.She simply went store-bought (... more
Stop party-present mayhem
Parenting is full of unexpected phenomena.One of the craziest, if you ask me, is insanity that ensues when a young child opens his or her birthday presents at a big, public party.It started for our family during the preschool years when we began having bouncy-house birthday parties for our son.After jumping around like crazy animals for... more
Playing with a stick is ‘magical’
“If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could see the pressure modern mothers put on themselves, they'd think we were insane.”That’s how Bunmi Laditan, the Quebec-based author of wildly popular “Honest Toddler” book and blog opened her post, “I’m Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical.”“Ah, yes,” I thought. “This is just what I need... more
Expect great things!
One of the trickiest things about parenting for me these past six years has been managing expectations.
It all started with What to Expect When You’re Expecting and What to Expect: The First Year. These books led me to believe my baby boy would behave in a certain way (the correct way). And if he didn’t, I was worried, frustrated and,... more
Spring is here! Right?
Well, time will only tell just when spring will arrive for good. But, when it does, you’ll be ready with our May issue of Minnesota Parent magazine!We're taking you to five different waterfalls across the state — perfect outings with young kids who really need a goal, such as a gorgeous destination, to get motivated. Then we’ll help you... more
Parenting 101
I have so much to learn.That’s what I keep thinking as I travel down the winding, wonderful road of parenthood with my 5-year-old son.Every time I think we’ve figured it out, I realize there’s more to discover. I want to teach our boy everything. I want to empower him to take care of himself. But what are best ways to do that in a... more