DSC04037Did you miss us? We were off at the  ABCKids show scoping out the latest and greatest gear for you! Going to this massive children’s industry trade show is always a treat . Every year the show surprises and delights me with clever inventions, and modern innovations that promise to make the experience of parenting (and childhood itself) safer, cleaner, funner, better. This year was no different in that regard. But it was different in many ways from past shows. This year saw a shift in thinking. Manufacturers are not only coming up with new solutions to common problems, but they are also rethinking the solutions of the past. Gone are the Diaper Genies and plastic bottles and toys that flashed and screamed for my attention three years ago, and in are the cloth diapers, stainless steel containers and pvc/pthalate free medical grade silicon teethers. Wood, recycled composites, and green products dazzled at this year’s show. Stricter regulations, and more informed consumers are forcing manufacturers to be creative. And this is a very good thing! Several companies have risen to the occasion and have introduced lines that dazzle with their elegance, eco awareness and simplicity.

Two companies that stood our for me were Dano and Sprig.

Sometimes it is the obvious that gets overlooked. Like the ubiquitous rubber duck that may be floating in as many as 9 out of 10 children’s tubs. Most rubber ducks are not safe to be chewed. They contain pthalates and pvc (used to make the plastic “soft”). If that is not enough to gross you out, try holding a squirty ducky up to the light after a month or two of tub duty. See that black gunk on the inside? Yep. That’s mold! Grossed out yet? I was. So much so that I banished all ducks from my kids tubs. But Dano is bringing the duck back to our tub with their incredibly clever silicone version that pops open for cleaning. I could hug these people!

Also making my kids tub time pleasanter, are the new line of bath toys from Sprig. These recyclable toys, made from a bio composite of reclaimed plastics and recycled wood materials, are great looking and luxurious feeling. Solid, smooth and without sharp edges. They are sure to withstand a beating from multiple kids, and stand the test of time. But when it’s time to say goodbye, they won’t have to stick around for a few thousand years longer. Their kid powered electronic toys operate without batteries and the electronics are removable for recycling. The simple and attractive bath toys encourage creative play and yes, they drain completely. Thank you Sprig! Sprig Toys are currently sold at Pottery Barn Kids.

Although the selection of cloth diapers was overwhelming and the bamboo/organic/fair trade signs abundant and uplifting (and deserving of a separate post!), some of the products that caught my eye were of the old fashioned clever thinking variety. Made by moms for moms, clearly. Stuff I loved included:

Girl’s bathing suits with a snap crotch. Hallelujah! Having wrestled with many a wet swimsuit in many a public restroom while my girls were littler, I cannot for the life of me figure out why noone has thought of this sooner!

Burp scarves that tie onto your bag. Yes, you read right. It’s burp cloth meets fashion scarf. As opposed to fashion scarf becomes burp cloth – something that has been around for ages in my house. Not everyone wants to walk around with a cutesy diaper on their shoulder. There’s an alternative now for fashionista moms. A burp cloth that ties onto your bag like a scarf. Looks cute, but is made to handle the inevitable

The Baby Jogger City Select Stroller. I’ve long argued that there is no way that one stroller can do it all, for everyone, but I may have to eat those words. The new City Select promises to come close. With over 16 configurations for one or multiple kids, all possible out of a single frame, it’s an exciting development. The answer to just about every “But wait, does it…?” question I lobbed at the reps, was “Yes! It does!” Can’t wait to review this one!

Other super clever stuff I saw: detachable, comfortable shoulder straps from GoGaga Their signature straps are slinglike, and soft, allowing you to spread the load out over your shoulder and back. It’s a standard thing on their bags, but now that the strap is sold alone you can use this fabulous strap for your other bags, your camera and more.

Ouef’s knit alpaca animal dress up, Boon’s wheat grass inspired bottle drying rack, Baby Hawks “Ruthless and Toothless” carriers, bamboo cars and toys from Hape and new offerings from Zigo that get you out there into nature with your kids. It was a gleeful whirlwind tour of the best new stuff for kids. There were too many fantastic items at ABC to name them all in one post. Check out all of my photos from the trade show floor and stay tuned as I review some of these finds in the coming months!