Here are some products that grew out of a mom or dad’s Ah-ha moment (plus some other great items tested by Milwaukee area families)!
(a parent invention)
Eco-friendly game made with reclaimed lumber and recycled plastic rings, and the backpack is made with recycled bottles. Fling your ring to knock off cups and get your ring over a pole.
We all enjoy playing this game. There are three types of scores you can get which makes it more interesting, and you can adapt the game for different ages. It stores in a drawstring bag which is nice for our small yard. It was a little difficult to put the stakes through the holes during assembly the first time, but it will be a good game to bring camping this summer!
–Jane, mom of Steven (11) and Libby (9)
(a dad invention)
The fitted strap ensures a comfortable, secure fit for these swim goggles.
My toddler LOVES the Frogglez! She has used traditional goggles in the past but now insists on wearing these every time she swims. She can usually get them on by herself and can easily move them on and off her eyes while they stay secure on her head. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a quality pair of swim goggles!
–Meghan, mom of Brynn (5) and Chloe (2½)
(a mom invention)
A children’s shoe-sizer made of lightweight, recyclable, unbreakable plastic. Also a growth chart and keepsake. $19.99
This is durable in a fun color. We order most of our shoes online so having a shoe-sizer at home takes away most of the guess work and removes the need to take my kids into a store for sizing. I also appreciate that the material can be written on to document individual growth, or for which sizes you have corresponding shoes.
–Holly, mom of Alex (5) and Teague (3)
(a mom invention)
Build a superhero outfit complete with a cape, mask, cuffs, T-shirt, belt and more.
Ages 6+. $19.99, www.superflykids.com
My 4-year-old dreams of flying, and now his dreams are transformed! He flies through the house at lightning speeds, pretending long into the night. The cape is made of durable fabric and attaches easily with simple Velcro at the neckline. The colors are bright and eye catching. We love the website where you can design a cape with your child’s own letter and favorite colors. This would make a unique gift.
–Jennifer, mom of Sebastian (4), Jacob (11), Nick (14) and Alexi (19)
EZ Leaps shoe tying tool
(a parent invention)
This teaching tool helps children learn to tie their shoes.
Ages 4+. $5.49, www.ezleaps.com
Both my kids love the fun, bright designs and following along with the online video instructions. After using EZLeaps just a few times, my 5½-year-old was able to tie his shoes on his own! It made my kids interested in learning to tie their shoes and it actually helped them develop the skill quicker than anything else we’ve tried. I recommend it.
–Kristine, mom of Cameron (5½) and Nathan (4)
(a mom invention)
Eco-friendly, reversible play mat made of PVC-free faux leather.
This play mat is sturdy, a nice size and comfortable to sit on. My daughter thinks it’s "Perfect!"— for tea in the living room, dance parties in her room and outdoor picnics. Spills wipe off easily with wet towels or baby wipes. The only negative is the bag used to carry the mat is not very sturdy. Overall, we are very pleased with this product and its versatility.
–Samantha, mom of Lella Rose (5)
The tablet is preloaded with over 70 kid-friendly apps, as well as games, educational content and more. Ages 4+.
This Wi-Fi-capable tablet is easy to use and the features, differentiated by age groups, are perfectly in sync with the ages of our kids. We keep the safe-mode on—a neat control feature that ensures they don’t download apps on their own. The Kids-Cam is the favorite, with lots of extremely fun and easy features for more creativity in taking pictures or video. Another popular feature is the “Let It Go” music video, but many of the featured videos are only shortened versions. The books available are interesting, with a neat option that reads the words to an emerging reader. All the pre-installed arcade games are fun, age appropriate and non-violent. You can install more educational apps through their app store; the selection is pretty good, even the free ones. I recommend it for ages 4–10.
–Eric, dad of Jordyn (9), Reyna (7) and Tyler (4)
Our Generation Doll
An 18-inch poseable doll that comes with her own chapter book and accessories.
Ages 3+. $31.99, www.OGdolls.com
Not only is “Willow” a beautiful doll, but she comes with sleepover accessories: pajamas, slippers, a toothbrush, a chapter level reading book, and my daughter’s favorite—a stuffed bunny for the doll. While some doll's legs and arms are a very hard plastic, these are squeezably soft. My daughter has enjoyed this doll as much as, if not more than a very similar doll. She plays with the dolls together and separately. I think all the accessories are very appealing, as is the packaging; they are also very affordable, with outfits starting at just $14.99. Lastly, the company donates to Free the Children Charity. We definitely recommend this doll.
–Jennifer, mom of Sadie (7)
Espro Sports Cleaner
Stain remover with odor-guard removes grass stains, dirt, blood, sweat stains, red clay, etc. Safe on all fabrics and surfaces.
Espro Sports Cleaner is nothing short of amazing! It has gotten out grass stains from white baseball pants! I will be telling all the baseball parents about this—it even works on old dry stains. The travel size is great for trips out of town. The smell of the cleaner is pleasant and it works when I spray and wait several days to wash. I am a fan of Espro Sports Cleaner!
–Jean, mom of Allison (13) and Daniel (10)
Owl About Waterfalls
Plastic water (or sand) wheel with owl cup and dump truck.
Ages 18 months to 8 years
My two boys love this—especially the removable accessories. We tried it in the bath and found it works best with very little water in the tub. The wheels really spin fast when water is dumped through the top bucket. It has a little knob to regulate how fast the water comes out, which is really neat. The little owl bucket with tiny holes in the bottom is super cute and fun for hair washing, as well. It would be great for a beach with very fine sand. It’s very well constructed and colorful.
–Sarah, mom of Crosby (3½) and Henry (2)
Ambi cooling relief
Position Ambi on the back of your neck, forehead or wrist for immediate cooling. Also provides relief from throbbing injuries including insect bites and stings. $49.99
This provides a metallic cold surface in a matter of seconds. It runs on batteries, so you can take it anywhere. A charger is included. My daughter keeps it by her bed for when she's too hot. I've tried it for migraines; the cold feels good, but did not alleviate the pain. It will be nice for hot summer days!
–Tracy, mom of twins Sean and Sydney (11)
Cozy Coupe Bouncer
Entertains baby with music and a toy bar. When it’s time to relax, switch on the soothing nature sound and vibration. Ages 0+
The best thing about the bouncer is the ability to unzip it into a reclined position, which is great for napping! Add the vibration feature and it’s the perfect combination for a nice afternoon nap. Plus, you can remove the seat cover and put in the wash machine, which makes clean-up super easy!
–Gretchen, mom of Amelia (newborn)
Bagup + Broom Combo
Recycled plastic bag wraps around the bagup to clean up to three times the debris as dustpans.
I think this is a great idea. Using a broom and dustpan always leaves me frustrated and when I'm sweeping outside I'd prefer not to have to touch the garbage/glass/etc. With this system you can use the dustpan while standing up and you never have to touch what's in it. My kids even think it’s fun! The only negative is that the broom handle is really short.
–Tasha, mom of Zach (5), Nora (4) and Aaron (2)
Create 25 paper, cardboard and wooden accessories for your home.
This book is beautiful and inspiring. The pictures are motivating; the words, encouraging. I like that the author emboldens me to use items around my house to make the projects. I recently finished the “Once Upon a Time” bookshelves. I posted the picture on Facebook, and have gotten an abundance of praise! As a novice craftsman, I did need to rely on the wisdom of another very handy person for a little more info than the book was giving (i.e. when it says to apply wood glue, how much exactly?). That said, it was still a very conquerable project, and if you have had ANY crafting experience, you will do fine. In fact, the bookshelves is one of the more challenging projects. I look forward to trying out the dry-erase dinner planner and animal masks next!
–Autumn, mom of Will (4) and Max (1)