Toddler friendly iPhone apps

Posted by Alina on Tuesday Mar 16, 2010 Under mommy products, toddlers, useful tips

Although it is probably not the best idea to hand your iPhone over to your toddler, this maneuver has saved my husband and I on long car and plane trips as well as during long dinners out. Our son, who is now 22 months old, is unbelievably savvy with the device. He is able to open it, choose the application that he wants, play with it, and then move on to the next one when he’s bored. He also knows how to access the iPod and turn on the show of his choice. This probably shows that he has been playing with the iPhone a bit more than he should. However, Apple, knowing that parents like us are out there, offers applications that are fun and even educational for the little ones.

The following cost a dollar or two:

Tozzle is a shape matching app, with 20 different boards that kids can choose from. When a child drags a shape to its matching outline, it makes a sound appropriate to the shape (its name if it is a letter or number, sound of doorbell on a door, or sounds of the appropriate animal, etc…) The boards/ themes are very colorful, include letters (lower case and capitals), numbers, various scenes (fish in the sea, farm, garage, and many more). If after a couple of tries, the child does not match the shape successfully, an arrow appears on the screen and floats to help guide the child. This has been one of my son’s favorite apps.

Letters and Shapes from Toddler Teasers are two separate apps that my son enjoys as well. The child is asked to touch a certain letter or shape and if he/she gets it right, there are applause, cheering and after a few correct answers, they get a virtual sticker. If the child gets it wrong, he/she learns the name of the shape or letter he/she actually touched and is then asked to try again.

Kidzongs by Stepworks is a simple app that has 6 children’s songs with very basic animation and an option to have a voice sing the songs or just play the music so the child can sing himself. As simple as it is, my son enjoys this one, probably because of the familiar tunes, but does not spend a ton of time with it.

Kidztory by Stepworks makes apps of narrated children’s books.  The books are interactive, with the characters moving and making sounds if touched. I have The Little Red Hen, and this book can be narrated in English, Spanish, or Cantonese.

Wheels on the Bus from Duck Duck Moose is an interactive musical book based on the song with the same name. There are various pages with illustrations to touch and explore. You can choose to hear the song in different languages and played by different instruments. There is even an option to record yourself. This app gets a great deal of play time.

ZooBox was a favorite for a long time, when he was a bit younger. This app has photos of various animals that the kids can flip through and each picture has the animal sound to go with it after the phone is tilted to a certain angle and held for a few seconds. I think it’s too basic at this age.

These are free:

Virtuoso Piano has a free version which my son enjoys. It is a piano keyboard that can be played on the phone by tapping the keys.

DoodleBuddy is a cool application which allows your toddler to draw with their finger, there is a choice of different colors, backgrounds, characters with sound effects, and you can even draw over pictures that are saved on your phone or you can snap a new one and get creative. At his age, my son likes to doodle, explore all the buttons/features of this app, and use the characters with sound effects.

The phone could never replace the attention and interaction of parents or caregivers with the kids, but after all other avenues of entertainment (crayons, wind up toys, books, etc…) have been exhausted, it comes in quite handy if you have a cranky toddler, who does not understand why he has to be strapped to a car seat for another hour. You can learn about these and other applications by hitting the APP store icon on your iPhone or iTouch or through iTunes on your computer.

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Nursing Bra

Posted by Alina on Sunday Feb 1, 2009 Under mommy products

I had a hard time finding a well fitting, comfortable nursing bra. On someone’s advice, I went shopping for some during my pregnancy, a few weeks before my due date. I found a couple of nursing bras that seemed to fit well at the time, however, after my son was born, I quickly dropped a lot of weight (water), and suddenly, I could not use them. My newborn son was quite demanding of my time and it was too difficult to go bra shopping in the early months.

Finally, I decided to visit The Upper Breast Side. This store was quite an experience. It’s run by a family of women. They were no-nonsense, no frills, straight down to business. It’s not a type of place where you go to browse, but it’s great if you need a nursing bra, a baby sling or a breast pump and are intending to buy. I came in, filled out a form and sat down on a bench. While waiting to go in for my fitting, I witnessed an interesting sling demonstration (for another shopper) and learned a few new tricks. Once my turn came up, I was escorted behind a curtain, where there was a bassinet to place my son and I was asked some questions, measured and fitted with excellent nursing bras. I ended up buying two. They are a bit pricey, $50-70 each, but I intended to nurse my son for a year and thought the comfort was worth it.

I would definitely recommend the Upper Breast Side (135 west 70th Street, NY, between Broadway and Columbus Ave). I would also recommend buying one cheap nursing bra before the baby is born, so that you have something, but if you are going to splurge, I would suggest waiting to see how your body changes after the baby arrives.

P.S.   If you do visit the store, they sell an inflatable My Breast Friend pillow, which is great for home and for travel, and which I was not able to find anywhere else. You can read more about it in one of my previous posts HERE.

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Home made baby food

Posted by Alina on Thursday Jan 15, 2009 Under feeding, mommy products

magicbulletI give my son both home made an store bought baby food. I have found the website to be a great resource for information on age appropriate foods and recipes. Making baby food at home is quite easy. Most of the vegetables and fruit can be steamed and then blended. I use The Magic Bullet blender system, which is made up of a base that takes up very little counter space (and in our Manhattan apartment counter space is prime real estate) and comes with cups of various sizes. There are no buttons or settings, a piece with the blade screws on directly to the cup, then it’s placed on the base, when you push down it blends, you can hold it down longer for a finer puree. My husband and I also use this system for making fruit smoothies for ourselves.

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The Mommy Hook

Posted by Alina on Sunday Dec 21, 2008 Under mommy products

themommyhook-01When out shopping with a baby in a stroller, one can fit only so much in the stroller basket. I find The Mommy Hook to be a simple and yet absolutely necessary item. I have two on my son’s stroller. It’s a large metal carabiner which attaches to the stroller handle and is a great place to hang shopping bags, an umbrella, or whatever else you may need to bring along. There are plastic variations on the market, but this seems to be the sturdiest. This item is definitely at the top of my list of mommy products.

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Baby Carriers

Posted by Alina on Sunday Oct 26, 2008 Under Baby Products, mommy products

When my son was a newborn, I used a Peanut Shell Sling, which goes over one shoulder and provides great support for a tiny baby. He loved being in there and would fall asleep almost instantly. It was a fantastic way to calm him down and allowed my husband and I to go out to restaurants for a peaceful meal. I was able to discreetly breastfeed in the sling so it really helped make the first couple of months easier. Because the sling distributes the baby’s weight unevenly on your body, it is important to switch sides often. If you have back problems, a carrier that distributes the baby’s weight more evenly may be a better option.

When my son turned 2 months, I switched to using a Baby Bjorn Synergy with back support, which felt much better for me and allowed my son to face in our out (once he had sufficient head support). I figured out how to breast feed in this carrier, and really enjoyed it for a few months. Then, my son got heavier (16lbs), and my upper trapezius muscles (between neck and shoulders) started to really hurt and cramp when I carried him for even two blocks. My husband still uses the Baby Bjorn and really likes it. My son seems very happy in it, especially when he is facing out, but I am just not able to use it any more.

My next purchase was the Ergo Baby Carrier. This carrier only allows the baby to face you, there is a special insert that can be purchased for a newborn, and the child can be carried on your back. When my son is in the Ergo, his weight is distributed much more on my hips than my shoulders, and this enables me to carry him around longer. If he falls asleep, I can walk around for about an hour and although I may feel a bit tired after, I do not have pain. The Ergo has a pocket, so I can pack one diaper, a small container of wipes (in a ziplock bag) and a disposable changing pad, in addition to my wallet and phone, so I don’t need to bring a bag at all if I have my son in the carrier. It also has a piece of material that can be used to cover the baby’s head, useful during breastfeeding on the go or for support when he falls asleep. The Ergo has allowed me to continue to carry my now 6 month old son in a comfortable and pain-free way.

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Nursing Pillows

Posted by Alina on Sunday Sep 28, 2008 Under Baby Products, mommy products

I have tried three kinds of nursing pillows; Boppy, My Breast Friend, and my latest discovery, the Inflatable My Breast Friend. I think they are all great for nursing, and found that I preferred one or the other depending on where I sat to nurse. In the rocker I prefer the Boppy, probably because the seat is rather narrow. When on the couch or a chair, I like using the My Breast Friend.


The nice thing about the Boppy is that it can be used for purposes other than nursing, such as support for the baby during tummy time (when he/she is really young), or to help the baby sit and have padding all around. Another use is when you come home after giving birth, if you were so lucky as to end up with painful hemorrhoids, it makes for a fantastic sitting surface, so I’ve heard.

My Breast Friend is nice because it is shaped so there is no gap at all between mom and baby and is attached to the mother for a secure snug fit. Also, because it wraps around the mother’s body, it provides some lumbar support.

If I had to buy only one, I would get the Inflatable My Breast Friend. My husband and I recently traveled with our five-month old son and I bought the inflatable pillow for the trip. It feels very similar to the regular My Breast Friend pillow, comes with a cover, and collapses to a small plastic cylinder that can easily be tucked into the diaper bag. It takes a bit of work to inflate it (by mouth) and you have to deflate it by slowly rolling it up from the distal end pushing out all the air, while squeezing the nozzle with your other hand. It took my husband 1-2 minutes to blow it up, and took me about 2 minutes to deflate it. I think it is definitely worth the effort, considering the reduced strain on the mother’s back and arms during nursing and while the baby is taking a nap (when on a plane or train). When using it at home, you blow it up once and then don’t have to bother with it until you need to travel. (I bought my inflatable one at The Upper Breast Side on the upper west side of Manhattan, and it cost $22 and came with the slip cover.)

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