The 5 best kids winter coats in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Kids lose body heat rapidly in cold temperatures.
  • A well-designed kids winter coat can preserve a child’s core warmth.
  • The best winter coats for kids keep them warm and are comfortable for outdoor play.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, MD, CPST-I, FAAP, professor of pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University.

The human body loses heat rapidly in cold temperatures, a process that begins when the ambient temperature falls below 68 degrees. This type of heat reduction accounts for about 65% of total warmth lost, and because children are smaller than adults, they are even more susceptible to over-cooling. The right winter coat can maintain a core temperature. For kids, the best winter coat also needs to be versatile enough to wear from recess to snowball fights.

To narrow down our selections for the best winter coats for kids, we consulted with two outdoor experts – Linda McGurk, the author of “No Such Thing As Bad Weather” and 1000 Hours Outside founder Ginny Yurich – and pediatrician Alisa Baer. Then we researched coats to see which ranked highest according to our selection criteria at the end of this guide. The kids winter coats featured here will help your child maintain core warmth and are available in many sizes and colors to accommodate plenty of age groups and kids’ preferences.

Here are the best kids’ winter coats in 2021

The best kids winter coat overall

columbia whirlibird ii coat for kids

With a detachable shell and liner, the Columbia Whirlibird II Interchange Jacket is a three-in-one coat so your child will be ready for both the coldest and mildest of winter days.

Pros:3-in-1 design accommodates varying temperatures, breathable waterproof exterior, multiple pockets and adjustment points, extendable sleeves

Cons: Pricey

Columbia’s children’s apparel offers the same high level of quality as the brand’s gear designed for adults. The Whirlibird II Interchange Jacket is made of a waterproof, wind-breaking shell and an insulated inner jacket. The two pieces are attached with zippers and be worn together or alone. Together, they provide enough warmth for playing in the snow, going on long walks, and for making the trip to and from school on cold wintry days.

On its own, the coast’s shell is great for milder, wet days. The insulated inner jacket looks and functions just like a puffer coat and is warm enough on its own for days when the temperatures are cool but not frigid.

The inner jacket’s warmth is provided by a synthetic fill and also through Columbia’s patented Omni-Heat Reflective system, which consists of a pattern of metallic dots that reflect radiated heat back toward the body. The outer jacket is waterproof but still breathable and releases excess heat and moisture that builds up from sweat.

With Columbia’s Outgrown system, parents can snip a few seams to extend the length of the sleeves. This can help the coat last through growth spurts and even multiple seasons.

Shop all kids winter coats and gear from Columbia and Amazon

The best kids winter coat on a budget

Amazon

The Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer is a basic winter coat that keeps kids warm but an extra shell is needed for waterproofing.

Pros: Packs down small, comes in multiple colors

Cons: Occasional sizing issues, outer shell for waterproofing not included

Most kids grow so fast that they will only get a single season out of a piece of clothing. But when it comes to winter coats, you still need a jacket that will keep your child warm regardless of price. Enter the super affordable Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer.

The coat has a polyester down-alternative fill insulation and a smooth nylon lining to provide warmth and comfort. But, while this puffer jacket will keep your child warm on milder days when layered over a T-shirt or sweater, it’s necessary to add a waterproof shell to keep a child warm and dry in cold, wet weather. The coat’s elasticized cuffs and hood also add to the jacket’s warmth preservation.

When not in use, the coat packs down into an included stuff sack. The Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer comes in multiple colors, too.

Shop all kids’ winter coats from Amazon Essentials

The best fleece-lined coat

north face mossbud reversible swirl jacket

The North Face Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket has an extra soft lining to keep kids warm and comfortable.

Pros: Reversible design, soft and warm fleece lining, exterior repels water

Cons: Sizing sometimes runs small

Parents will love the super-soft lining of The North Face Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket as much as their kids inevitably do because this soft, cuddly coat is one that kids will love to wear. The high pile fleece and insulated fill provide plenty of warmth, while the exterior repels light rain and snow and reduces wind chill.

Even the exterior of the coat is soft and comfortable, since it’s designed to be worn in reverse, too. That reversible design gives kids more flexibility fashion-wise, while both materials — the fleece and the water-resistant taffeta — play a role in performance.

And like any good kids garment should be, the Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket is machine washable. Just be sure to note the sizing with care to ensure a proper fit.

Shop all The North Face kids winter coats at Amazon and The North Face

The best ski jacket

Patagonia

While Patagonia Snowshot Jacket was designed for use on the slopes, it’s a versatile jacket for outdoor play, family outings, and walks to school.

Pros: Excellent insulation, water-resistant shell, removable hood, ski pass pockets

Cons: Expensive

The ski pass pocket built into the sleeve of the Patagonia Snowshot Jacket is a tipoff as to the design of this winter coat. It was made for use by kids carving their way down snowy slopes. As such, it can handle the cold that comes with everyday winter wear extremely well, and without that bulky puffy parka fit that so many ski coats have.

The Snowshot has a durable water-repellent shell that features taped seams for excellent wind-resistance. The inner layer is soft thanks to a polyester plain-weave lining and warm 150 gram down alternative fill. A drop tail hem offers extra protection against wind and precipitation, while the hood can be cinched down tight around the face when the weather is frigid or it can be removed entirely for milder days.

While the Patagonia Snowshot is a pricey jacket, it might last for more than one season. The sleeves have a “grow-fit” feature that allows them to be extended (or retracted) by as much as 2 inches.

Shop all kids snow gear from Patagonia

The best winter coat for babies

columbia tiny bear bunting

Columbia’s Tiny Bear II Bunting covers infants head to toe and, in most cases, is safe for the car seat.

Pros: Warm, soft materials; perfect for layering; cute animal-themed hood; car seat-safe when sized appropriately

Cons: No water resistance, not heavy enough for extended snow play

While infants won’t start a snowball fight, they do need to stay warm when heading out the door. The Columbia Tiny Bear II Bunting is more than just a coat — its built-in gloves, hat, and boots make it quick and simple to get baby dressed to go outdoors. I used a previous version of this bunting on my youngest before he began to walk and I loved that I could keep him warm without needing to put snow boots on him.

Most bulky winter coats are not safe in a car seat, but Columbia’s fleece jackets and buntings are thin and snug enough that most parents will find they pass the car seat fit test. The Tiny Bear is made from a thin fleece that, when sized appropriately, is car-seat-friendly. Parents should ensure the bunting fits snugly and perform the chalk test, which is explained at the end of this guide. 

The attached pants, hood, and fold-over booties, and gloves make the bunting warmer than just a thin fleece jacket alone. While the Tiny Bear will keep the baby warm while traveling and running errands, parents in colder climates will want to pair it with a heavier jacket if spending extended time in the cold. It’s warm enough for walking from the car into the grocery store, for example, but not for spending an hour hunting for the perfect Christmas tree in the snow. The thin material, however, makes it great for layering — you don’t need to remove the bunting before adding a bulky winter coat. The bunting was the coat my toddler wore most often last winter. I simply added a puffy jacket for winter walks and outdoor activities.

Shop all kids winter coats and gear from Columbia

How to choose a winter coat for kids

GettyImages 88748722

A child’s smaller body loses heat faster than adults. But, on the flip side, a child that’s actively playing in the snow may generate more body heat and be warmer than an adult who’s simply supervising the fun. So, how do parents determine how many layers a child needs to stay warm? What should parents look for when choosing a coat for kids? When shopping for a child’s winter coat, consider the materials, design, warmth, waterproofing, layers, and fit.

Materials: A coat’s materials play a big role in how much heat is retained. The ideal material is warm, yet makes a coat that isn’t too bulky to play in. McGurk prefers synthetic down alternatives that hold heat well, even when wet. Although down holds heat well, it loses the ability to hold heat when it’s wet. What a coat is not made from is also important. McGurk recommends coats with water-repellant coatings that do not contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs). PFCs do not break down in the environment, and lab animals exposed to large doses experienced adverse effects, according to a CDC fact sheet.

Design: The design of the coat is also essential to consider. Winter coats for children tend to fall in one of these categories:

  • A puffy coat is light and easy to play in, but it needs to be paired with an outer shell, such as a rain jacket, in order to be waterproof. An outer shell will also protect the coat from tearing, which is common with puffy coats.
  • Three-in-one coats use a warm inner layer, often made of fleece or polyester, and a waterproof outer layer. Both layers can be worn at once for winter play, while the inner jacket works well for cool fall days and the outer jacket can be worn without the inner layer as a raincoat or windbreaker.
  • Other winter coats are designed as a single garment consisting of both a waterproof outer layer and insulation for warmth. These coats are less versatile than the three-in-ones but may be easier to zip since the multiple zippers of three-in-ones can confuse younger children.

Warmth and waterproofing: Always consider the climate the coat will be worn in. For wet, cold winters, McGurk says a waterproof, windproof coat is a must. The colder the climate is, the more insulation parents will want to look for. For all climates, a coat that’s breathable will help keep active kids from overheating.

Layers: Coats for outdoor play should have enough room for layers underneath. In the coldest temperatures, winter coats work best with layers. For babies and younger children who are unable or unlikely to tell you if they are too warm or hot, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using one more layer than an adult would be comfortable in. Yurich recommends using merino wool as a base layer. This material is warm, but wicks away sweat, she says.

Fit: Parents should also consider how a coat fits. A well-fitting coat will allow a child to move around and play. If the sleeves are creep up on the wrists, the coat is too small, McGurk says. If the sleeves are cover the hands, the coat is too big. Some coats have a clever extend-to-size feature, which allows you to snip some stitching to make the sleeves longer. Both McGurk and Yurich said they tend to go up one size to get two or more seasons out of a coat as well as to allow enough room for layers underneath. Sizing up can also help make the cost of a coat more reasonable.

Winter Coats and car seat safety

Parents should never size up when looking for a coat that’s safe to wear in a car seat. A large, thick coat can create as many as 3 to 4 inches of extra slack in the car seat straps. This increases the chances of injury in a car crash, explains Alisa Baer, cofounder of car seat safety advocacy organization The Car Seat Lady and a nationally certified child passenger safety instructor. The force of a car crash takes all the extra puff out of a coat. When that happens, the car seat straps or seat belt that once looked snug no longer fit properly and the child may move more in an accident or even slip out of the restraints.

To determine if a coat is safe for a car seat harness, use Baer’s Chalk Test (you can follow along with this video). With the child wearing the coat, buckle them into the seat and properly tighten the straps. Use a piece of chalk and mark where the tail strap — the strap that you pull to tighten the harness — comes out of the seat. Then remove the coat and buckle the child, tightening only to the chalk line. If you can pinch the straps or fit more than one finger underneath, then the coat is too bulky and should not be worn in the car seat.

Older children and even adults are also safest without buckling a seat belt over a bulky coat, Baer says. In the front seat, a belt tensioner locks in a crash, pulling the belt tight against the body. That removes the tension from the strap. However, most back seats do not have a belt tensioner, so coats will introduce extra slack. Even with a belt tensioner, all seat belts will work better without an overly large coat, Baer says.

Of course, cold is dangerous to a child as well, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says that a thin, snug-fitting coat such as a fleece jacket can be both safe in a crash and in the cold. A thin jacket along with a hat and gloves can keep a child warm when walking from the car to a building. Layering with a long-sleeve onesie and fleece leggings also helps, Baer says. Bring a warm winter coat to slip on over the fleece jacket for outdoor play or in the event the car breaks down.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best kids’ headphones in 2021 that protect their hearing

  • Headphones you consider for your child should have a noise-limiting feature that caps the volume at safe levels.
  • The BuddyPhones Wave Headphones are the best kids’ headphones in our opinion, thanks to their three different maximum volume settings.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that around 85 to 90 decibels or dB – or about as loud as a leaf blower – should be the limit when it comes to adult noise exposure. So it’s safe to say that kids shouldn’t be exposed to sounds louder than that, either.

That’s why the majority of the kids’ headphones on our list have maximum volume control features that prevent the audio from reaching dangerous levels. Most of them also have plenty of other cool features, too, from wireless connectivity to active noise-canceling technology to audio sharing ports.

When choosing the best headphones for your kid, first make sure you are considering pairs that will fit. Many are designed for bigger kids and won’t fit a toddler properly, while some pairs are small enough for your two- or three-year-old but won’t fit onto an elementary-aged child. Next consider price, because there are kids headphones that cost 10 bucks and some that cost 10 times more. And as you consider price, think about the kid(s) who will be using them and gauge the likelihood that they’ll be damaged, lost, or destroyed and will need replacing.

Finally, look at the special features of each option and consider what makes them a good choice for your child specifically. Do they watch shows in bed and need a pair that will easily stay in place while they’re lying down? Are they a genuine audiophile who needs top quality sonic equipment? Do they share media with a sibling or friend all the time? Do they drop things or spill drinks on a daily basis?

On this list, you’ll find kids’ headphones perfect for all of those young user profiles and more. I’ve tested many of them second hand – my son is the actual gear guy on this one.

Here are the best kids’ headphones:

The best kids’ headphones overall

Buddyphones

The BuddyPhones Wave headphones have three different maximum volume settings so they adapt to suit kids of different ages.

Lots of kids’ headphones have a noise-limiting feature, but the BuddyPhones Wave headphones have three. You can set the maximum volume at 75dB, a safe limit for toddlers, at 85 dB, a safe maximum for kids in general, or at 94dBfor temporary use in noisy environments like planes, trains, or out on the streets. That means one pair of headphones can serve kids of different ages or can serve the same kid as they grow from toddler to preschooler to plain old kid.

The Wave headphones are water-resistant and durable, so the occasional spill or drop isn’t going to end the music. Their battery lasts up to 18 hours with a full charge, and the soft, hypoallergenic ear cushions ensure comfort even with such extended use. They can be used for calls thanks to a built-in microphone, which can also help during study sessions thanks to a StudyMode setting that uses the mic to pick up and clearly transmit audio to the young wearer’s ears. An included cable also lets you plug in another pair of headphones to share the audio, so that two kids can listen to audio or a video.

My son also loves these headphones, which are a go-to in our house.

Pros: Multiple volume limit settings, soft and comfortable ear cups, water-resistant

Cons: Diminished audio quality at lower volume limits

The best kids’ headphones for shared listening

Snug Play Headphones

The Snug Play+ Audio Sharing Headphones have a built-in port, so you can connect another pair of headphones so siblings or friends can enjoy audio simultaneously.

Remember back in the day when you and your sibling or buddy had to press your heads together to share a set of headphones? Or when you had to split up a pair of earbuds, holding the other ear shut in a vain attempt to hear the show you were watching or song that was playing? Well, those days are gone, thanks to the, “why didn’t they think of that before?” addition of an audio-out port on the Snug Play+ Audio Sharing Headphones.

These headphones allow a second pair to be connected, outputting the audio they are getting into this second pair. Using the port, two kids can share the same iPad, computer, radio, or DVD player without disturbing anyone else in the room or the car.

The 40mm drivers produce decent sound quality, which is limited to 93 decibels. That’s a bit louder than ideal, but still safe, and you can always tell the kids to turn it down, of course. The Snug Play+ headphones come in multiple color options, and they’re pleasantly inexpensive.

Pros: Multiple headphones can be linked together, low price, multiple colors available

Cons: Not durable enough over time

The best kids’ headphones for comfort

CozyPhones headphones

The CozyPhones Headband Headphones use slender little speakers tucked into a soft, comfortable headband that stays in place in any position.

One of the most common issues with kids’ headphones is simply keeping the things properly positioned on their ears. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen a pair of headphones slipping off my son’s head, I’d be ready to roll my change. With the CozyPhones Headband Headphones, that ubiquitous over-the-head band design is gone. Instead, these earphones are held in place by a soft, warm headband that wraps around your kid’s head.

The headband and the slender design of the speakers allow a child to wear their CozyPhones when lying down or walking around, both of which usually preclude other headphones from staying in place. As the fleece headband is nice and warm, they’re also a great choice for use during colder weather. While the audio quality doesn’t match that of other options on our list, the unique design and functionality of these headphones still makes them a great choice.

There are more than a dozen styles of headband to choose from, including a smiling lion, purple monster, ninja turtle, and many more. And when your kid isn’t listening to audio, the speakers can be removed and the headband enjoyed simply as a garment.

A writer from Daily Dot called them “a well-thought-out, well-designed, quality product” but said that “no one is going to buy CozyPhones because they’re looking for superior sound quality and booming battery power,” the actual audio quality being somewhat lacking.

Pros: Stay in place well, warm and soft headband, lots of styles to choose from

Cons: Audio quality only average

The best kids’ headphones on a budget

Noot headphones

Noot headphones work great and are incredibly affordable, making them a solid choice if your kid is a bit clumsy or careless.

Kids aren’t the most graceful creatures on Earth. They drop things, they spill things, they step on things, and so on. They’re also not the best at remembering where they left their stuff. So don’t be surprised if at some point your kid’s headphones end up crushed, soaked, cracked, or lost. If said headphones were the Noot Products K11 Kids Headphones, then it’s really no big deal.

Now, you can’t expect budget headphones to be the best on the planet, and these aren’t. But their 40mm stereo drivers deliver decent audio quality — suitable enough for watching cartoons or listening to nursery rhymes. The cushioned ear cups do a good job of creating passive noise reduction. The long braided nylon cord resists tangles and is strong enough not to break even after a number of drops or snags.

One major downside to these headphones is the lack of volume limit. You’ll have to closely monitor the volume on your child’s devices so they don’t damage their hearing.

Pros: Very low price tag, rugged design, broad size adjustment range

Cons: No volume limit feature

The best high-end kids’ headphones

Puro Sound Labs

The Puro Sounds Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones deliver audio quality that rivals or surpasses most headphones designed for adults.

My son has a pair of Puro Sounds Labs BT2200 headphones, and I swear if the things were just a bit bigger, I’d probably use them as often as my own fancy adult-sized headphones. They feature dynamic 40mm drivers that deliver deep bass, rich mids, and clear highs, with audio clarity that makes listening to music, playing a game, or watching a show a pure pleasure.

As they feature excellent passive background noise reduction thanks to the padded ear cups and noise limiting at 85dB, they work well even in noisy environments without putting a kid’s hearing at risk.

As they feature excellent passive background noise reduction thanks to the padded ear cups and noise limiting at 85 decibels, they work well even in noisy environments without putting a kid’s hearing at risk.

My son would likely use these headphones almost exclusively save for the fact that we experience intermittent issues pairing them to devices via Bluetooth connection. This is easily solved by use of a cord or by going through the whole forget and re-pair process, but it can be a bit of a frustration.

In terms of audio quality, however, the BT2200s are peerless in the kid headphone category. You’ll pay for that quality, however, so if your kid isn’t the most careful with their belongings, you might want to opt for a more budget-friendly pair.

Pros: Excellent sound quality, good passive noise reduction, safe noise limit feature

Cons: Expensive, some connectivity issues

Check out our other great kids’ tech guides

95 Fire Tablet Kids Edition

The best tablets for kids

With larger screens and fewer communication options than smartphones, tablets can be easier and safer for kids to use. Many tablets also come with comprehensive parental controls and child-safe content. Put all of that together, and it’s no surprise that tablets are often the first gadget children use on a regular basis.  These are the best tablets for kids.


The best STEM toys

STEM toys help kids develop the skills they will need to excel in the jobs of the future, so we’re all for letting children play with programmable robots, DIY computers, electrical motors, and circuit sets, and any other hardware that fosters such abilities. There’s just one caveat: The toy also has to be genuinely fun. These are the best STEM toys for kids.


The best kids’ cameras

Photography is a fun and easy way to teach kids about creativity, and there’s no better way to start them on that path than putting a camera in their hands when they are young. These are the best cameras for your budding young photographer.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best backpacks for students in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good school backpack serves as an all-in-one carrier for essentials, including a tablet and books.
  • Backpacks come in many styles, sizes, and materials and should be durable enough to last for years.
  • The best backpack for students of all ages is the long-lasting JanSport Big Student Backpack.

As a high school teacher, I’ve seen backpacks in all states of disrepair, so I know how important it is to find a bag that is durable enough to be used day in and day out.

For kids and teenagers, it’s much more about how the backpack looks than how functional it is, so the tough job as a parent is to find one that is durable and big enough for all your child’s school supplies and lunch box, but that also looks cool. In elementary school, I was jealous of my best friend who had her initials monogrammed on her backpack, and in high school, I was dying for a messenger bag. Functionality clearly wasn’t on the top of my priority list as a child.

If you find the right backpack, it can last your child quite a few years, but finding the right one is key. We’ve made the process a little bit easier for you with a few tips and some of our favorite backpacks.

To help you find the best backpacks for your kids, I combined my experience as a teacher and student with expert and buyer reviews. From backpacks for preschoolers to college kids, these bags will help your child start the school year on the right foot. Below, find tips for selecting a quality backpack in our “what to look” for explainer.

Here are the best backpacks for students in 2021

The best overall

jansport big backpack

The JanSport Big Student Backpack has many pockets, comes in an array of colors, and is durable for every student.

Pros: Spacious, durable, two main pockets, multiple side and front pockets, comes in many colors and prints

Cons: May be too big for very young kids, not machine washable

This backpack comes in fun colors and designs like galaxy or floral prints, as well as solid black, so whether your child wants to stand out with a fun print or just wants a plain backpack, this one will do the trick.

It includes a water bottle pocket on the side, two different main pockets, and three front pockets to hold smaller items. The ergonomic padded shoulder straps will help kids stay comfortable even while carrying their books, binders, and notebooks to and from class. It also includes a padded back and padded laptop compartment.

This backpack is great for younger kids and older adults alike, which is one of the reasons it’s our top overall pick. JanSport does not recommend machine washing their backpacks, but they do explain exactly how to clean them to maintain the shape and finish of the bag. It also offers a lifetime warranty on its backpacks, so you can send yours in for repairs. And if JanSport can’t repair your broken backpack, it will replace it, ensuring you get true value out of your purchase.

The best for preschool

L.L.Bean Junior Original Book Pack

L.L.Bean’s Junior Original Book Pack is just the perfect size for young kids for easy wear to prevent back injury.

Pros: Perfect size for young kids, reflective material for safety, machine washable

Cons: Only features one additional pocket and a water bottle compartment aside from the main zipper

The Junior Original Book Pack combines durability, affordability, and the cuteness factor for the perfect backpack for your young scholar. It’s available in a variety of prints or solid colors if you want to keep it simple. You don’t have to worry about these beautiful prints being ruined by messes and spills because this backpack is machine washable when inside a mesh laundry bag. 

This is a small backpack designed for kids ages 4 and up, so the shoulder straps and back panel are padded and comfortable. Your little little one won’t be overpowered by a massive backpack.

Although it’s small enough for little backs, it’s still big enough to fit standard-sized folders and notebooks — something that can’t be said for all preschool-size backpacks. It also has waterproof and reflective materials to help keep kids and their belongings safe at the bus stop. 

There’s also something so adorable about a little kid wearing a backpack, and this is the perfect choice whether your child is actually starting school or just wants a backpack to be like their big sibling. 

The best for middle school

jansport superbreak backpack

The JanSport Superbreak backpack holds just the right amount of supplies for elementary and middle schoolers, coming in diverse colors.

Pros: Tons of colors and patterns, good size, sturdy material

Cons: No laptop compartment, not machine washable

The JanSport Superbreak Backpack is sturdy, just the right size for elementary and middle school kids, and comes in tons of colors and patterns, so your child is guaranteed to find something your they like.

The backpack has a roomy main compartment that’s perfect for notebooks, folders, and lunch boxes, while the small front pocket is handy for pencils and other small items. It’s a lightweight bag, but it’s sturdy enough to handle anything your kid can throw at it — which they will.

While a great basic, this backpack does have its flaws. There’s no laptop compartment, and it only includes 2/3 padding on the back panel.

Since younger kids may not be carrying as many items to and from school, the Superbreak is a good option for this crowd. If your child is approaching their later middle school years though, it would be a good idea to take a look at our high school backpack pick instead. Like other JanSport bags, this one is not machine washable.

The best for high school

northface recon backpack

The iconic North Face Recon Backpack is comfortable, long-lasting, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Pros: Highly durable, ergonomically designed for comfort, many pockets and other organizing features, lifetime warranty

Cons: Not machine washable

Today’s high school students are notoriously busy. When I was a teacher, some of my students got to school at 6 a.m. for sports practice, then went to class, volunteer activities, or even part-time jobs, and didn’t get home until after dark. They need a backpack that can keep up with them, and the legendary The North Race Recon comes highly recommended.

High school students also need backpacks that are extremely durable to support textbooks while also protecting expensive devices. This durable pack features a 15-inch laptop sleeve in the back, tablet sleeve in the front, cord container, mesh stash pocket for sports equipment like helmets, two mesh water bottle pockets, and a padded back with extra support along the spine. We love that this backpack comes with a hip and chest clip. Occupational therapist Karen Jacobs explained that this can help take weight off the shoulders, particularly for older kids.

The North Face Recon Backpack is available in several different colors and comes in men’s and women’s designs. The women’s bag is a little bit smaller than the men’s, and features custom injection-molded shoulder straps with flexible attachment points that are contoured for a smaller frame. The backpacks are covered by the North Face’s lifetime warranty, so returns are simple and always free.

The backpack also features reflective surfaces on the exterior and is made of breathable material. The North Face does not recommend machine washing their backpacks, so you’ll need to spot clean this one.

The best for college

the north face jester backpack

The North Face Jester Backpack features a heavy-duty padded laptop compartment aside from it holding other essential supplies.

Pros: Perfect for carrying laptops around campus, large main compartment, two mesh water bottle pockets, secure-zip pockets, reflective bike light loop for evening campus walking

Cons: Not machine washable

College students typically have a mountain of textbooks on their desks, so having a backpack to carry some of the pile, as well as a laptop, notebook, and other supplies make The North Face Jester Backpack the gold standard for strolls on campus.

In addition to its large main compartment, this sleek backpack has a durable, padded laptop compartment that can fit up to 15-inch laptops. Aside from ensuring this college essential is safely stored within the backpack, the Jester has two external mesh pockets to store your water bottle, as well as a front compartment to store pencils, a pack of tissues, and other on-the-go items.

And it even comes with safety features for evening walks on campus. Its reflective bike light loop, water bottle tabs, and shoulder webbing are designed for 360-degree reflectivity for nighttime visibility.

The Jester is made of breathable material, but the backpack is not machine washable. The bag also includes a sternum strap to shift some weight off the shoulders.

What we’re looking forward to

For an update to this guide, all backpacks will be put through a series of durability tests. In addition to our current recommendations, we are also testing the following backpacks:

What to look for in a backpack

What to look for in a backpack
  • Safety: While monogrammed backpacks are fun and unique, we strongly advise against putting your child’s initials or name on their backpack, a sentiment that Dr. Jacobs and teacher Whitney Rancourt shared. It provides a perfect avenue for child predators to appear friendly and familiar by knowing your child’s name. Jacobs also recommended backpacks that have reflective material to keep kids safe at the bus stop or while walking to and from school. 
  • Size: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a backpack shouldn’t “weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s total body weight.” The size of the backpack should correspond accordingly. Additionally, Jacobs recommends looking at your child’s back as if it is a rectangle and making sure the backpack fits nicely within that rectangle. For this reason, she also recommends buying a backpack your child can try on, whether that means buying in store or from a retailer that offers free returns.
  • Comfort and support: Look for a backpack with a padded back and wide padded shoulder straps. The AAP advises against narrow straps that tend to dig into shoulders, as they can restrict circulation and cause pain. Jacobs also advises buying a backpack made with breathable material and recommends that older kids make use of a chest or shoulder strap, which can help take weight off the shoulders. 
  • Features and organization: Besides the main compartment, a good backpack should have multiple interior and exterior pockets for organizing items. Popular features include water bottle holders, laptop pockets, charger pockets, key chains, and pencil pockets. With many students carrying devices in their backpacks, a water bottle pocket is very important to prevent water spilling on the device. Additionally, “organization systems (compartments that fit folders, pens, erasers, and every school supply in between) are important, especially for children that might have executive functioning issues,” learning specialist Jessica Prohias Gardiner explained.
  • Appearance: We all know that kids want backpacks that look cool, but it’s important to strike a balance between cool and practical. “Avoid backpacks with detailing like sequins or glitter that won’t hold up well to regular machine washing. The most eye-catching backpacks in the first week of school usually look the worst by the end of the year,” Rancourt said, adding that backpacks should be washable, as students tend to place them in less-than-clean places.

How to pack a backpack

Jacobs provided some excellent tips to help students pack a backpack that isn’t too heavy and that feels comfortable:

  • Put the heaviest item closest to the back.
  • Check backpacks daily to make sure your child isn’t lugging around unnecessary items.
  • Pack backpacks the night before.
  • Use compartments to help stabilize items.
  • Pack backpacks on a table or raised surface. This makes it easier to pack and easier to slip on your child’s back.
  • If your child complains about their backpack being too heavy, investigate why and see what can be taken out. Most schools can provide digital textbooks and/or an extra copy of books to keep at home.

Jacobs also emphasized the importance of connecting with your school’s occupational therapy practitioner if your child encounters an issue with backpacks.

Our sources

  • Karen Jacobs, EdD, OTR/L, CPE, FAOTA, is a clinical professor of occupational therapy and the program director of the distance education post-professional occupational therapy programs at Boston University. In addition to being an occupational therapist, Jacobs is also a certified professional ergonomist (CPE). Jacobs founded National School Backpack Safety Awareness Day a decade ago to raise awareness of the harm heavy loads worn incorrectly can cause children and even adults.
  • Jessica Prohias Gardiner is a learning specialist at LREI (Little Red Elisabeth Irwin) High School in New York City.
  • Whitney Rancourt teaches third- and fourth-grade reading and writing at a Title 1 school in Texas. She’s also the owner of Mama Manages, a blog dedicated to helping parents and teachers raise confident and happy kids. 

Check out our other school supply guides

staples back to school
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best playpens and play yards in 2021 for indoors, outdoors, and travel

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Playpens can be a safe play or sleep space at home or while traveling, as long as parents are nearby.
  • The best playpen, the 4Moms Breeze Go Play Yard, is durable, easy to set up, and offers ample space.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, MD, CPST-I, FAAP, professor of pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University.

Playpens serve as the ultimate babyproofing solution, keeping babies and toddlers away from household hazards as well as messy mischief. But besides keeping toddlers from splashing in toilets or drumming on all the pots and pans, the playpen can serve as a safe place for sleep anywhere, from grandparents’ house to family vacations. Despite their versatility, playpens can easily spark parent frustration over difficult folds, bulky bags, and hard-to-clean surfaces.

For this guide, I tried out 11 playpens and travel cribs with my now 1-year-old son to see which options were simple to use, portable, and safe for sleep. Because playpens come in a few different variations, I looked at traditional options, playpens with bassinets, and outdoor play spaces. I tested each editorial review sample for at least two weeks, setting it up and tearing it down multiple times. Along with letting my 1-year-old play and occasionally sleep in the playpens, I torture-tested the top picks – a process you can read more about at the end of this guide.

Safety, however, is the primary consideration when considering any sleep surface for infants. I spoke with Justin Smith, MD, a pediatrician at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club, Texas, to understand what makes a sleep surface safe and what to look for when choosing a playpen. No matter which playpen you choose, be sure to follow the pediatrician-recommended safe sleep practices at the end of this guide and never leave your child unsupervised in a playpen.

Here are the best playpens and play yards in 2021

The best playpen overall

4moms breeze go play yard in corner of room

The 4Moms Breeze Go Play Yard is sturdy and durable with plenty of space for play and sleep, and it sets up and tears down in seconds.

Pros: Easy setup and teardown, versatile design, sturdy, good play space size, one-year warranty on manufacturing defects

Cons: Heavy, bulky

When I put my son in smaller playpens, he wants out right away, but this is not so with the 4Moms Breeze Go, which gives him plenty of room to play. It is also compact enough that I can fit it in my master bathroom.

The play yard has an incredibly sturdy steel frame that holds the mattress a few inches off the ground. The mattress is firm and stable, while offering a little more padding than budget options. Baby food splatter wiped up easily from the nylon sides and mattress and left no stains. 

The 4Moms Breeze Go looks and feels like a traditional playpen, but the only motion required for setup and teardown is pulling up or pressing down on the center, no locking and unlocking top railings. I could easily set it up with one hand and tear it down in less than 5 minutes. Two hands are needed for teardown and packing it into the included travel bag. Even the bag is well-thought-out — the zipper runs diagonally down one side, which makes it easier to fit the play yard inside.

At nearly 3-feet long when stored in the travel bag, the Breeze Go isn’t exactly a breeze to carry around, but it’s a trade-off for its excellent build. For parents who prefer a durably constructed playpen over a light and small one more suitable for frequent travel, the Breeze Go is an excellent choice.

The best playpen with bassinet

Tiny Love 6-in-1 Here I Grow Play Yard in corner of room

The Tiny Love 6-in-1 Here I Grow Play Yard packs nearly everything you need to travel with a baby into one bag, while offering more than one way to play at home too.

Pros: Bassinet, changing table, and activity gym all in one; well-built; large play space; one-year warranty on manufacturing defects

Cons: Changing table difficult to disassemble, heavy

Out of all the play pens I tested, the Tiny Love 6-in-1 Here I Grow Play Yard offered the best all-in-one solution for sleep, play, and diapering. It has a bassinet, changing area, diaper caddy, and infant activity gym. The changing station was larger and more durable than others I evaluated and they play yard gives infants plenty of space. 

While a playpen with a diaper changing station isn’t hard to find, Tiny Love adds one more perk: an activity gym to use entirely separate from the play yard. The gym consists of a mat and a detachable toy arch that is nearly identical to Tiny Love’s Gymini activity gym, one of the top picks in our guide to the best infant activity gyms. Even more, the gym comes with a developmental guide offering ideas on how to play with your baby. The arch can also clip into the top of the play yard’s frame to double as a mobile.

Made with a metal and plastic frame and polyester fabric, the materials feel sturdier and more comfortable than those found in less expensive options. While the mattress is white, it cleaned up well for being spot-clean only, even when I left a splatter of squash puree to sit for a few days.

The Tiny Love Here I Grow assembles like a traditional play yard, with a center pull under the mattress and locking side rails, but it’s not overly stiff or difficult to set up or take down. The changing table attachment is tough to take apart, which you’ll need to do to pack it into the bag. Fitting so many pieces into the bag is also a bit tricky.

With all the added features, the play yard is on the heavy side. However, having sleep, play, and diapering from one play yard — including more ways to play than most — may be worth the added bulk for many parents.

Best playpen for travel

Guava Lotus Travel Crib in corner of room

The Guava Lotus Travel Crib fits in a backpack to easily take it on the go, yet still offers enough room to play, a comfortable mattress, and easy setup.

Pros: Backpack-style carrying bag, lightweight, comfortable mattress, easy setup, machine-washable mattress cover and sides, two-year warranty on manufacturing defects

Cons: Folding isn’t as intuitive as other models

The best playpen for travel isn’t a playpen at all, but a similar option called a travel crib. Travel cribs have a thicker sleeping mattress that rests on the floor instead of a frame for a more portable design. The Guava Lotus travel crib’s portability, simple setup, washable sides, and comfortable mattress quickly earned it a spot as my favorite out of several travel cribs I tested.

The Lotus offers a generous space for sleep and play. The legs stick out a few inches so the crib takes up roughly 10 square feet of floor space. Because the mattress sits on the floor, there’s no weight limit and the Lotus can be used until baby is attempting to climb out. The mattress itself feels more comfortable than the other playpen mattresses I tested, but still firm enough to use with a newborn.

The sides also have a zippered opening as an alternative way to get baby in and out. Made with an aluminum frame, polyester mesh sides, and a foam mattress with a base plate, the Lotus is Greenguard certified to be free from heavy metals, formaldehyde, and PVC. Both the mattress cover and the mesh sides are machine-washable (air-dry only), a major plus for diaper blowouts. Baby food easily wiped off the mattress, and the mesh sides came out of the wash unstained. 

The Lotus’s frame unfurls in a unique design: Unfold each leg, expand the top frame by pulling in one quick motion, then place the mattress inside. Folding is slightly more complex. The first few times I needed to use the instructions, but the process was still quick.

The backpack is a rather compact 24 inches on the longest side. I could carry the Lotus, the baby, and one other item simultaneously, something I couldn’t do with the other playpens.

Best outdoor playpen

Regalo My Play Deluxe play yard set up outdoors

As easy to set up as a folding camp chair, the Regalo My Play Deluxe creates a safe, large play space for baby.

Pros: Easy setup, generous play space, portable, sunshade, lightweight

Cons: Not for sleep, empty playpen will tip in heavy winds, only a 90-day warranty on manufacturer defects

*This play yard is temporarily out of stock. You can purchase the extra-large version at Amazon for $113.19.

The Regalo My Play Deluxe play yard provides a safe place to play in the backyard, at parks, while camping, and at outdoor events. Any playpen will help keep baby from getting into trouble outside — and a crib sheet can double as a sunshade in a pinch — but the Regalo My Play Deluxe is as easy to bring along and set up as a folding camp chair. 

The hexagon-shaped play yard measures a roomy 4-feet across, making it the largest playpen we recommend in this guide. The larger size helps my son to play a little longer before wanting out and can accommodate bigger toys. The canopy provides shade and keeps out most flying insects, though there is a small gap between the top of the play yard and the topper where bugs could potentially crawl through.

Setup is simple. I could stretch out the metal frame, then lock each of the two levers with my foot while holding the baby. The optional umbrella-style topper pops open with a quick pull on a string. The longest part of the process is latching the topper to the play yard using several bungee cords, which takes just a few minutes. When collapsed in the carry bag, it is about 40 inches long.

The My Play Deluxe doesn’t include a mattress and is made for play, not sleep. It is less versatile and shorter-lived than playpens for sleep and play that go up to age 3. It’s also not one you’ll want to leave set up in the yard indefinitely. Big wind gusts weren’t an issue while my son was playing in it, but a good wind can catch the topper and tip the play yard if nothing is inside. Mud also has a tendency to stain the bottom.

Best playpen for toddlers

Evenflo Versatile Play Space set up outdoors

The Evenflo Versatile Play Space is an affordable gate system that gives toddlers plenty of room to play.

Pros: Roomy, affordable, sturdy, indoor and outdoor use

Cons: No floor or mattress, difficult for travel, only a 90-day warranty on manufacturer defects

The amount of time my 1-year-old spends happily playing in a playpen seems to correlate with how large the play space is, and flexible gate systems offer the most space for active toddlers. The Evenflo Versatile Play Space is a six-piece gate system that offers more than 18 square feet of space and additional panels are available in sets of two.

While I preferred the Regalo’s built-in floor for keeping outdoor choking hazards away, the Evenflo offers a more affordable price and plenty of space. There’s no door, but at 5-foot-2, I can easily reach over the 28-inch side. If my son is playing in the center, however, I have to climb over the side to get to him.

Indoors, the gate system uses flat “feet.” Outdoors, those feet can be reversed to stakes, similar to tent stakes, to keep the gate in place. To switch to the stakes, you need to push a button on the bottom, pull out the flat foot, and reinsert it with the stake side out. Switching the feet was a little tricky at first, but once I found how to get a good grip on the foot to pull it out, it was much easier. The stakes aren’t necessary for outdoor use, but could be handy for older toddlers who tend to pull and wiggle the sides.

The Evenflo Versatile Play Space has a carrying handle for use when folded up, though it is a bit tougher to carry and travel with than traditional playpens that collapse.  The plastic panels are durable enough to take outdoors and easily wipe clean with a damp cloth. I used the play space while camping and even forgot it outside in the rain with no issues. 

Best budget playpen

Evenflo Baby Suite Playard in corner of room

The Evenflo Baby Suite Playard is large enough for both sleep and play, and the sturdy construction feels like it should cost more.

Pros: Lightweight, good size play space, easy setup

Cons: Mattress can be noisy and may slide, only a 90-day warranty on manufacturer defects

The Evenflo Baby Suite Playard is a simple budget option that offers a large space for sleep and play, fabrics that easily wipe clean, and uncomplicated setup.

The mattress is covered with a vinyl material, a design choice that is both good and bad. The good: The mattress and the sides of the Baby Suite wipe down easily. Even dried-up baby food didn’t leave a stain or require much scrubbing. However, that material makes the mattress a little noisy as the baby moves around. My son didn’t seem to mind the noise, but some babies and caregivers might. The mattress also needs to be strapped down because the vinyl is slippery and it could slide out of place. 

With its traditional playpen design, setup involves locking the four top rails, pressing down the center, and securing the mattress. A button in the center of the rail depresses for teardown. The button is large enough to easily locate, and it didn’t stick like other budget models I’ve used in the past. 

The play yard weighs less than 17 pounds and comes with a carrying bag, making it lighter and more portable than options like the 4Moms Breeze Go. While not as easy to set up or as high quality as our other top picks, the Baby Suite is lightweight, roomy, and easy to clean at an excellent price point.

What else we considered

Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light set up in corner of room

I tested 11 playpens and travel cribs over six months to find the best options. Along with our top picks, I also tried the following:

  • Graco Pack ‘n Play Travel Dome LX Playard: I loved the Travel Dome that is included with this Pack ‘n Play, which would be ideal for newborn naps without packing the entire thing. The Pack ‘n Play wasn’t as easy to set up — I couldn’t get the changing station fully assembled — or as large as our pick for the best playpen with a bassinet, the Tiny Love Here I Grow Play Yard.
  • Skip Hop Play to Night Expanding Travel Crib: This Skip Hop travel crib has a unique design that converts from a sleep space to a larger play area, but it can be a bit tricky to convert. The mattress isn’t quite as soft as our top pick, the Guava Lotus, and it’s not quite as stable, but it’s a good alternative if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option.
  • Baby Jogger City Suite: If you want a bassinet for travel, this is a good option. The play and sleep space is smaller than others I tried, however.
  • Joovy Gloo: The Joovy Gloo is more akin to a portable toddler bed than a playpen. The tent-like bed is excellent for infants older than 6 months, toddlers, and preschoolers — even for outdoor naps. I love using the Gloo for naps on the go, but it isn’t tall enough for play.
  • Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light: An excellent travel crib, the Baby Bjorn is easy to set up and clean. It was one of my favorites, but the Guava Lotus offered the same perks in a backpack for less money.

Our testing methodology

Best playpens and play yards in 2021

I used each of the top picks in this guide for at least two weeks with my son, age 8 months to 1 year old during testing. Because playpens tend to take more abuse during play than sleep, we spent most of that time using each one for play. I evaluated them for durability, portability, ease of use, and safe sleep.

Durability: To test durability, I shook the frame, then folded up the playpen and dropped it from arm’s length a few times, not unlike what a playpen could experience while getting manhandled as checked airline baggage. Because my son was too old for a bassinet, I tossed some books into the toppers and checked for a sturdy, level sleep surface. For outdoor playpens, I left each one outside overnight, including in the rain and on camping trips.

Ease of cleaning: To see how well each option would handle diaper blowouts and spit-up, I splattered baby food on the mattress and sides.

Portability: I evaluated each playpen while in the bag, if one was included. I carried the playpens from room to room to see how easy they were to lug around. This test was prioritized for the travel category.

Ease of use: I set up and tore down each option several times, considering both simplicity and the length of time needed.

Safe sleep: I also evaluated mattresses. I pressed on each one to check for firmness and ensure there was no gap between the mattress and playpen sides.

Safe sleep

No matter which type of playpen you choose, considering safe sleep is a must. Last year, inclined sleepers like the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper were recalled after infant deaths, a reminder that some products on store shelves do not follow the safe sleep guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to those guidelines, infants should sleep on their backs on a flat, firm surface without any loose bedding or other objects. The playpen you choose should also meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

When it comes to playpens, Justin Smith, MD, a pediatrician at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club, Texas, said parents should look for firm sleep surfaces.

“All sleep options should be a flat surface with a firm mattress in order to be safe,” he said. “Parents should also be careful to make sure that the surface doesn’t have built-in bumpers or soft surfaces which could cause suffocation.”

If you plan to cover the mattress with a sheet, make sure that it fits tightly. Loose-fitting sheets and soft items like blankets and stuffed toys should never be placed in a portable crib with a child under 1 year old.

With any playpen or travel crib, it’s important read the entire user’s manual, which will also include weight, height, and age restrictions. For example, most bassinet add-ons are only rated to 15 pounds, with changing tables often having similar restrictions.

To protect children against injuries, caregivers should also provide constant supervision while they are in the play yard, whether they are awake or asleep. It’s also important to note that, like with cribs, once a child can climb out of a play yard, it is no longer a safe space for them to spend time.

Whenever traveling, Smith recommends making sure that the baby’s caregivers are also aware of safe sleep guidelines.

“Parents should keep in mind that travel is a particularly risky time for babies regarding safe sleep environments,” Smith said. “Make sure each caregiver, including grandparents, is aware that children should be placed on their back on a flat surface for every sleep.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best video baby monitors in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

I grew up believing my parents had eyes in the back of their heads, but, sadly, I didn’t immediately sprout an extra pair of eyes after donning the title of mother. Video baby monitors are the next best thing. While there’s no substitute for being in the room with the baby, these monitors allow parents and guardians to to keep eyes and ears on the baby from another room.

A good video baby monitor answers questions that a simple audio monitor cannot, like, When did the baby fall asleep? Just 10 years ago, these monitors were clunky gadgets that played constant audio and offered a pixelated picture of the crib. Now they can send a detailed sleep analysis to your smartphone, play white noise, and even track breathing.

Keep in mind: Some of those features of smart monitors may not be as great as they seem. The AAP and pediatricians we spoke to emphasized there is no evidence that smart monitors prevent incidences of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Read more about smart monitors, sleep safety, and what our experts had to say at the end of our guide.

While features vary by model, video monitors typically come equipped with a night mode to see the room in the dark, a thermometer to measure the temperature in the room, and two-way audio to talk to the baby (or tell the toddler to get back in bed). Some baby monitors are fixed in place, while others have cameras that can be controlled remotely to pan around the room. With smart baby monitors, the list of potential features is even longer.

I tested nine of the top-ranked video baby monitors with my now 1-year-old. Each monitor that made the top of our list was tested for at least one month, including naps and nighttime snoozes.

Here are the best video baby monitors in 2021

The best video baby monitor overall

Vava video baby monitor camera and parent unit positioned on a dresser
The Vava is a standalone video baby monitor that offers clear audio and video

With excellent picture and sound, the Vava is an affordable video baby monitor that has everything you need. 

Pros: Clear video and audio, easy setup, remote panning and tilt, affordable

Cons: No VOX

Although the Vava lacks the fancy features of a smart monitor, it’s easy to use and offers clear audio and video, with a few extras including two-way audio.

Most standalone video baby monitors use a low-resolution fixed camera that doesn’t show the finer details, but the Vava’s video quality is so good that I could often see my son’s chest rise and fall as he slept. The handheld unit’s 5-inch screen is what really allows you to see the detail picked up by the Vava’s 720p resolution camera. The monitor’s night vision is also better quality than other units I tested.

With the controls on the parent unit, the Vava can be turned 270 degrees and tilt up or down 108 degrees, offering a view of almost the entire nursery except. The remote pan and tilt are preferable to using a wider lens because you can get a closer look at the baby while still being able to see if, say, a pet is accidentally locked in the nursery.

The Vava’s solid video quality is also paired with excellent audio. There’s no voice-activated alert (VOX) option, but the volume settings are varied enough that the fan in my baby’s nursery, while slightly audible, wasn’t annoying.

The 900-feet range didn’t once drop a connection in my house or even when I went out to the porch. Because the Vava doesn’t use Wi-Fi, hacking risk is low. The parent unit battery lasted for two daytime naps before needing a charge.

There are a few features that I would have liked to see, such as VOX, but the Vava had better video and audio quality than similarly priced monitors. Smart monitors like the Nanit and Miku offer more features and budget monitors like the VTech, a better price. But, ultimately, the Vava checks all the must-haves without a high price tag, making it our top pick.

The best smart video baby monitor

The Nanit Plus video baby monitor mounted on a wall
The Nanit Plus is a smart video baby monitor that offers sleep tracking and insights

The Nanit Plus video baby monitor offers excellent video and audio, along with extras like sleep tips.

Pros: Sleep tracking and tips, contactless breathing monitor, quick alerts, reliable app, good video and audio quality, two-factor authentication

Cons: Pricey, sleep insights require subscription after first year

Many smart monitors deliver late alerts or poor audio, but the Nanit Plus doesn’t skimp on the basics in order to deliver the smart features. 

The monitor’s audio was free of white noise, and I could turn the volume down enough not to hear the fan in my son’s room but still hear his cries. Picture quality is excellent, even for the night camera. 

The Nanit was the most reliable smart monitor that I tested. It never crashed while livestreaming, though it can run few seconds behind depending on internet speeds. The one time the app stopped working (while using push notifications, not the livestream), it alerted me. For added security, it offers two-factor authentication, which Nanit says is continually audited for security compliance.

Unlike many breathing monitors, the Nanit Plus also doesn’t require extra devices. With a patterned fabric band, swaddle, or sleep sack, the camera detects pixel-level changes in that pattern to monitor the rise and fall of the baby’s chest. Even without the wearable, the monitor can still recognize movement to track sleep. False alarms can cause unnecessary worry, but I didn’t experience any.

The app’s interface is easy to navigate. It charts sleep times, duration, and time it takes to fall asleep. Using that data, Nanit Insights offers personalized sleep tips developed by a certified infant sleep coach. I shared these tips with Dr. Fern Hauck, professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia, who said they provided reasonable advice about establishing sleep patterns. However, these tips can also be found in inexpensive parenting books and are not the solution to every sleep problem.

Outside of the downsides of app-based monitors, like quickly depleting the smartphone battery, I have very few complaints. One minor inconvenience is that you need to go into the app and start a session in order to monitor breathing.

The Nanit Plus is one of the pricier smart baby monitors, although the wall mount option is less expensive than the floor stand. Insights also requires a paid subscription after the first year. Still, it’s $100 less than options like the Owlet and Miku.

Smart monitors are not for every family. Solid-performing, less expensive audio and video monitors are available, and breathing tracking isn’t studied for SIDs prevention (read more about this at the end of the guide). But, out of all the Wi-Fi connected monitors that I tried, the Nanit Plus delivered the best experience with the most reliability.

The best wearable-free smart baby monitor

miku smart baby monitor mounted on a wall
The Miku smart monitor can track a baby’s sleep and breathing without a wearable

The Miku accurately tracks breathing and sleep patterns without any wearables.

Pros: Sleep tracking, contactless breathing sensor, simple to use, plays lullabies or white noise, reliable app

Cons: Slow push notifications, white noise during livestreaming

With a radio-wave sensor built into the camera, the Miku tracks sleep and creates a color-coded chart that illustrates how well the baby slept. The well-designed app tracks data such as how long it took for the baby to fall asleep, sleep quality, and average bedtime, which may be helpful for new parents establishing a routine.

This monitor narrowly missed beating out the Nanit, largely because the audio had constant white noise detectable even at the lowest volume. (Audio performance could possibly differ based on the smartphone you are using — I tested using an iPhone 7.) The notifications were too slow to be a suitable substitute. However, if you’re looking for easy sleep tracking without any form of wearables, the Miku is a great option.

The app never crashed during testing and it can send push notifications that the baby has woken up. In order to avoid false alarms simply because the baby rolled over, there’s an intentional delay on those alerts. Unfortunately, the alerts are also delayed for cries. For that reason, I preferred streaming the audio. 

Video is also easy to review with an option to watch the feed from any time the app detected motion or noise. The Miku also has a built-in sound machine — you can play white noise or lullabies and control them from the app. 

Simple setup requires pressing a physical button to start a new connection, which feels a bit more secure. The Miku also has a built-in crypto security chip and includes features like two-way authentication. 

Like with the Nanit, smart monitors are not a necessity. For some families, tracking breathing  can lead to more worry and distraction. The AAP cautions parents that breathing monitors have not been studied for reducing SIDs. But, for families that want that extra tracking, the Miku offers those added features without the need to attach anything to the baby. 

The best budget video baby monitor

VTech RM5754 video baby monitor camera and parent unit positioned on a dresser
VTech’s RM5754 video baby monitor includes a parent unit and Wi-Fi tracking

The VTech RM5754 video monitor proves you don’t need to spend a lot to keep an eye on the baby, from anywhere.

Pros: Parent unit and Wi-Fi app, affordable, movement alerts

Cons: Lower night-camera quality, buggy app

The VTech RM5754 is a good monitor for those on a budget. It is unique because it’s a standalone monitor that also offers app access via Wi-Fi and VOX so you don’t have to listen to annoying background noise. The parent unit is the most convenient way to monitor, but the app allows you to watch the baby from anywhere.

The camera has a higher 1080p resolution and the parent unit a large 5-inch screen. The 100-degree wide-angle lens means you can see much of the nursery, but it doesn’t provide the close-up detail of some of the other monitors. While the night vision camera is low quality, it’s enough to see.

Audio isn’t the greatest. There were some audible static noises from both the parent unit and the app, but turning on VOX — my favorite feature — meant I only heard the static when there were loud noises in the room. The feature wasn’t explained in the user manual and is hiding in the menu, so it takes some tinkering to set up.

The VTech monitor also provides movement alerts, something uncommon with standalone monitors. From the parent unit, you can play white noise or lullabies through the monitor and turn on the night-light.

The app performance is inconsistent — it kept crashing on my iPhone 7, but ran much smoother after I updated my phone. The static is worse on the app and VOX isn’t available on a mobile device.

While I preferred the Vava’s better picture quality and sound, the VTech costs less and includes app access and VOX. This makes it a decent option for caregivers on a limited budget or families who can’t decide between a standalone camera and a Wi-Fi enabled one.

Our testing methodology

I tested nine video baby monitors over the course of several months with my now 1-year-old. The top picks were tested for at least one month. During that time, I evaluated the following features.

  • Audio quality: Parents will listen for a baby’s cries more often than watching the video screen, which means audio quality is still a major consideration. I listened for annoyances like static and white noise, as well as how sensitive the microphone was to both soft sounds and loud noises.
  • Video quality: Baby monitors don’t need cinematic 4K, but I looked for footage that was detailed enough to tell if the baby’s eyes were open or closed. Ultimately, I wanted a monitor that would cover the entire crib while still showing enough detail to see if the baby is awake or simply rolling over in their sleep.
  • Smart monitoring: For smart monitors, I also used the breathing tracking and sleep tracking. Thankfully, I never experienced what happens when a baby stops breathing. I did, however, research what I could into how the alarms work (including this Nanit and Miku comparison from Dad Verb using a robotic baby). I also noted any false alarms and eliminated options that caused more worry than it prevented. As noted throughout this guide, APA does not endorse breathing monitors for infants. Studies have not shown whether or not the devices have any effect on reducing SIDs.
  • Connectivity, battery life, and overall usability: Throughout my testing, I noted any app crashes and difficult setups. For Wi-Fi based monitors, I noted the battery life and range of the parent unit, including taking the unit outside. For smart monitors, I considered how simple the app was to use and whether or not the extra smart features were actually helpful.

What else we considered

Cubo A.I. Baby Monitor positioned over a baby in a crib
The Cubo A.I. uses facial recognition to monitor waking babies and rollovers

  • Levana Mila: The Mila would be one of my top picks, except it’s not available yet. Originally expected out in June 2020, its release is now delayed indefinitely. I was impressed by its mode that turns the screen and audio off when no noise is detected in the room, which preserves battery life. The same mode also works with two cameras to display footage from the room when noise is detected.
  • Pampers Lumi: In addition to monitoring sleep, the Lumi uses a sensor on the baby’s diaper to track wet diapers, though it’s not recommended to wake a baby just to change a diaper. It simply wasn’t the best because anytime the sensor stops moving, the Lumi labels it a nap. The camera’s wide-angle fish-eye lens makes it difficult to see details, and audio is inconsistent across devices — on my iPhone, it generated constant white noise, but the iPad app didn’t have that issue.
  • Angel Care 3-in-1 AC337: This unique standalone monitor uses a sensor placed under the mattress to monitor breathing. To make sure an alarm is heard even if the parent unit has a dead battery, the alarm also sounds in the nursery so false alarms could wake the baby. I got a few false alarms and stopped using the breathing pad because I was worried about waking the baby up with those false alarms. The camera lens also isn’t a wide enough angle.
  • Cubo A.I. Baby Monitor: The Cubo uses facial recognition to alert you if the baby’s face is covered by a blanket or if the baby rolled over, while “detection zones” alert you if the baby enters a preset area. While this feature worked great, when I followed safe sleep tips, I just got notifications for rolling over and placing a hand over his face. The Cubo did have one feature I wish the other smart monitors had — push notifications are a chirping sound instead of the default, which means you know it’s a baby monitor alert and not an alert from any other app.
  • Owlet Smart Baby Monitor Duo: Unlike the Miku and Nanit, the Owlet Smart Sock tracks oxygen levels and heart rate — neither of which are recommended by the AAP. It doesn’t, however, track sleep data or send push notifications when noise or movement is detected. The smart sock is difficult to put on, and I don’t like placing electronics directly on my baby’s skin. I also had to try three different socks before getting one to work properly, suggesting some quality control issues. But, for what it’s worth, excellent customer service.

Standalone vs. smart baby monitors

Video baby monitors used to be simply a camera that allowed you to see and hear your baby, but the tech now falls into two major categories.

Stand-alone baby monitors are the traditional monitors that come with everything you need in the box. These monitors have both a camera and a parent unit with a screen that displays video.

Smart baby monitors come with only a camera; the rest is done via an app on a smartphone or tablet, connected via Wi-Fi. Because these app-based baby monitors are essentially running on a mini-computer (the smartphone), this type can include a lot of features that standalone monitors lack. Smart monitors can track sleep patterns, send push notifications for sound and movement, and some even track breathing. 

With the Wi-Fi connection, smart monitors are never “out of range” like a traditional monitor. That means you can check in on the baby while you are out and the baby is with another caregiver, or you can work outside in a big yard and still use the monitor. 

The downside is that these monitors rely on an internet connection. If your home internet is slow, the video will lag behind and occasionally freeze up, and when the internet is out, so is the baby monitor. App-based monitors can also fail if the app freezes. If that happens overnight, parents could potentially miss baby’s cries. Smart monitors will also drain your smartphone battery faster and granting access to the app to a babysitter can be a hassle.

Safety considerations for smart baby monitors

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse breathing monitors for infants because studies have not shown whether or not the devices have any effect on reducing SIDs. “There are no data that other commercial devices that are designed to monitor infant vital signs reduce the risk of SIDs,” the AAP states. Every smart monitor that I tested came with a legal disclaimer that the monitor is not a medical device for preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While we like features like sleep tracking, we don’t recommend buying a smart monitor exclusively for the sleep tracking. It’s unproven and often adds another item to the already too long to-do list.

Dr. Justin Smith, a pediatrician and the medical advisor for digital health at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club, Texas, told Insider Reviews: “There is no evidence that wearing a monitor will prevent or allow a parent to act in order to prevent SIDS. Parents should assess whether using a monitor would give them peace of mind or cause them stress and anxiety. False alarms are common and can lead parents to seek medical care for normal babies.” He emphasized that parents should adhere to safe sleep practices above all.

Dr. Fern Hauck, a family medicine doctor and University of Virginia professor that focuses much of her research on SIDS, echoed similar thoughts. “Some parents may feel more comforted by the home monitor and, at other times, monitors cause distress because of false alarms,” she said. “As a safe sleep expert, the bottom line is that we don’t have evidence that these monitor’s prevent infant death. There may be more evidence in the future.”

While our medical experts stressed that there is no evidence that monitoring breathing at home reduces the risk of SIDs, both pediatricians noted that parents that find more peace of mind from a smart monitor can choose to do so with a few safety guidelines in place. A smart monitor should never be an excuse not to follow safe sleep practices — for example, just because a monitor is watching the baby breathe doesn’t mean it’s okay to load the crib up with loose blankets, bumpers, and stuffed animals. Infants should be placed on their backs on a flat, firm sleep surface with no loose bedding. Hauck also cautions against moving the baby to their own room before the AAP recommended 6 to 12 months, even with a smart monitor.

Parents should also ensure the monitor itself doesn’t pose a hazard. Wearable sensors can also pose a choking hazard if a sensor becomes loose or comes off, according to Smith. “In addition, any sensor with a cord could cause strangulation. Battery-powered devices could cause skin sensitivity or a burn injury if it malfunctions,” he said. Monitors placed over the crib could be safer if the device isn’t able to be pulled into the crib or can’t fall off. 

Because the last thing new parents need is to spend money on a device that will make them more anxious, we quickly eliminated the options that sent a lot of false alarms during testing. The Nanit Plus ended up being my favorite smart monitor because I still loved it even after discontinuing use of the breathing band. It has excellent features worth paying a little more for, like sleep tracking and clear audio and video. Parents, however, shouldn’t feel like they have to spend so much on a monitor to keep the baby safe because there’s no evidence that smart monitors are actually safer.

How does AI Sleep Monitoring work, and is it worth it?

Smart Baby Monitor App

Both the Nanit and Miku monitor the baby’s sleep, offering stats like how long the baby slept and when. The Nanit goes a little bit further and adds sleep tips, delivered once a week based on the infant’s sleep data.

Those tips are developed from a certified infant sleep coach, according to Nanit. The AI determines which tips to send based on the sleep data and the baby’s age, but the tips themselves were written by actual baby sleep experts. Essentially, using Nanit is like having someone tell you which chapters of the baby sleep book to read first for your particular baby.

The tips that Nanit Insights sent during my testing were similar to what I’ve read about establishing healthy sleep habits, such as a consistent bedtime. I shared Nanit’s tips with  Dr. Fern Hauck, professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia, they provided reasonable advice about establishing sleep patterns. 

You can find similar tips in a $15 baby book without spending $300 on a baby monitor. But, if you need to buy a monitor and prefer one that is Wi-Fi-based, having sleep tips tailored to your baby’s age and sleep habits is a nice extra. Don’t impulse buy the Nanit Plus at 2 a.m. while holding a wide-awake baby out of desperation, though. 

Baby monitor security

Wi-Fi enabled monitors have another downfall: As with any Internet of Things (IoT) device, they are susceptible to hacking.

According to Deral Heiland, the IoT research lead for cybersecurity management company Rapid7, there’s no actual internet connection to hack into with a stand-alone monitor, and any hacker would have to be within range of the camera. Radio monitors don’t have the same encryption measures, but a hacker would still need to be within a few hundred feet of the monitor.

Wi-Fi based monitors have more risks, but they can be mitigated through a few best security practices, Heiland told Insider Reviews.

“Just like any camera-based technology, there’s some risk, but there are ways to mitigate that risk,” he said. “Most of the risk on camera-based technology is password reuse. Don’t reuse passwords. Don’t use the baby’s name, a phone number, or a home address, or anything that people can easily guess. Create a complex password that is not used on other accounts.”

If you choose a smart monitor, Heiland recommends looking for one that offers two-factor authentication, which requires a code to be sent to your phone anytime a new device tries to log in. The home Wi-Fi network should also have a hard-to-guess password that’s a series of random letters and numbers rather than a known phrase.

Brand matters, too. A well-known brand will quickly patch up any vulnerabilities to maintain its brand reputation. Off-label brands sometimes have known vulnerabilities that are never patched. 

But a total lack of vulnerabilities isn’t necessarily a good sign. All technology has vulnerabilities, Heiland said, so with any IoT device, choose a company that has patched security issues before and provides a place to report them.

Unlike hacking into credit card data, there’s no monetary gain to hacking a baby monitor (unless your monitor has a paid subscription) — the outcome is just shock and fear. While you can find stories dotting the internet about baby monitors being hacked, Heiland said that in almost every case, it was a simple target of opportunity with a weak or default password.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best baby bibs in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Baby bibs often aren’t given much thought, but a quality one will make feeding your baby easier.
  • We surveyed parents and spoke to a pediatrician and a feeding expert to narrow down baby bibs to test.
  • These are the best baby bibs we tried with a 1-year-old, including silicone, cotton, and bandana bibs.

Let’s state the obvious – feeding babies can get real messy. If ensuring they eat a well-balanced meal isn’t enough, you also have to make sure fruit and yogurt don’t spill all over your kitchen floor. Luckily, a quality baby bib will make life much easier.

For this guide, I put 11 baby bibs to the test with my 1-year-old niece, Julianna Grace. Between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I tried a variety of bib styles with her, from bandana and cotton designs to silicone and apron-style bibs.

I also surveyed 20 parents and caregivers, all of whom said they look for a bib that’s easy to clean. More than 40% said the biggest issues they run into are bibs not staying in place, irritating the baby’s neck, and not catching foods and liquids well. I kept this in mind while testing and choosing the top picks for this guide.

While testing, I took notes on how comfortable each bib was, how effective the design was at picking up food, and how it held up in the wash. You’d be surprised at how many bibs didn’t make the cut – and how impressive the top five were during feeding time in the high chair.

I also also spoke with Judy Delaware – an occupational therapist, feeding specialist, and certified lactation counselor – for more information on bibs and best feeding practices. Dr. Sarah Fleet, attending physician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, also provided her expertise in our FAQs section.

Here are the best baby bibs in 2021

The best baby bib overall

Toddler wearing pink babybjorn bib

The Babybjorn Baby Bib has a convenient bottom pouch to catch food and spills and only requires a wipe to clean.

Pros: Keeps food from falling to the floor, adjustable neckband, easy to clean, BPA-free, made of food-safe plastic, quick to dry

Cons: Hand-wash only

Before I tested these bibs on my niece, my sister mentioned she swears by bibs with a catch pocket at the bottom to prevent messes. Though convenient, I didn’t think it was a necessity — until I tried out the Babybjorn Baby Bib.

It really does catch everything and also makes it easy to assess how much the baby is eating per meal. It was also one of the most comfortable bibs, thanks to the lightweight, thin beaded neckline that’s adjustable and prevents irritation to the baby’s neck.

The Babybjorn bib is made of durable, nonflexible silicone that doesn’t stick to the baby’s clothes like less-structured bibs. Julianna ate a chicken meatball, grilled zucchini, and roasted sweet potatoes for dinner while wearing the Babybjorn, and after removing some leftover food in the pouch, all it took was a wipe to clean. 

The best cotton bib

Toddler wearing nuby teething bib

The Nuby Reversible 100% Natural Cotton Teething Bib is perfect for all stages, particularly for its comfort, ease of cleaning, and unique teething tip for the baby to chew on before or after feeding.

Pros: Textured tip is great for teething, super soft, BPA-free, reversible, made of natural fibers

Cons: Doesn’t capture all food and spills

Julianna is in the notoriously brutal teething stage, which means she chews on just about anything to soothe her gums as baby teeth are erupting. When I discovered that Nuby makes a teething bib, I was intrigued.

The textured tip at the bib’s end is what sets it apart from other bibs, but it’s not the only feature that makes Nuby a standout. The material is extremely comfortable and the bib is the ideal size for feeding time. The reversible designs are also a nice touch.

Julianna ate her favorite chicken meatball again, with sauteed mushrooms, and though the bib didn’t catch every bit of leftover food, there wasn’t an unbearable mess. The best part: After feeding, I could toss it in the washing machine and dryer for a quick tumble.

The best bandana bib

Toddler wearing Copper Pearl Baby Bandana Bib

The Copper Pearl Baby Bandana Bib is the most effective bandana style we tested, thanks to its wide, catch-all design.

Pros: Didn’t bunch up around the neck, comes in many unique patterns, wide design protects from spills, soft and comfortable, adjustable snaps at the neckline, easy to clean

Cons: None

After testing a few bandana bibs, the Copper Pearl Baby Bandana Bib proved the most practical because it laid flat on the baby to prevent spills, instead of bunching up around the neckline.

The designs are beyond cute (and though style is subjective, there’s a pattern for every taste). Copper Pearl is made of 100% absorbent cotton on the front and 100% polyester fleece on the back, so it’s plush and comfortable to wear. 

Julianna ate French toast, bananas, and strawberries for breakfast, and the bib was impressive at absorbing drool and preventing spills. After feeding, a quick tumble in the washing machine and dryer made it ready for the baby’s next meal.

The best apron-style bib

Toddler wearing panda ear short sleeve bib

The Panda Ear Short Sleeve Bib has an adjustable tie back, covers the baby’s shoulders to prevent spills, and the repel-tex material absorbs any small residue.

Pros: Short-sleeve design provides more coverage, great at absorbing drool, BPA-free, easy to clean, comfortable

Cons: May be too large for babies younger than 12 months, though the tie-back is adjustable; didn’t capture all food and spills

Apron-style bibs are great because they’re more like a smock rather than a chest covering. The Panda Ear Bib made the cut because of its short-sleeve design, which effectively covered the baby’s shoulders during mealtime.

Though the repel-tex material is super absorbent and easy to clean in the washing machine after meals, some of Julianna’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich slid off into the high chair seat. This wasn’t a dealbreaker, however, given the bib provides more coverage than others we tested. 

Panda Ear makes fun patterns, too, and the tie-back feature was comfortable, caused no irritation, and enabled Julianna to enjoy her meal with a more precise fit. The bib runs a bit large, so I wouldn’t recommend ordering if your baby is less than 12 months old.

The best value bib

Toddler wearing green sprouts bib

For less than $20, you can purchase 10 comfy Green Sprouts Stay-Dry Infant Bibs with an oval design, perfect for preventing food from sliding off. 

Pros: Food and spills remained on the bib, oval design covers some of the baby’s shoulders, easy to clean, 10-pack is great for multiple uses per day

Cons: Material isn’t as soft as others, but is still effective for feeding

The Green Sprouts Stay-Dry Infant Bibs are smaller than most, but have a unique oval design that acts as a shield on the baby’s shoulders to prevent spills. After Julianna ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, strawberries, and formula, most of the food bits remained on the bib’s surface, so the post-feeding cleanup was a breeze.

In our survey of parents and caregivers, nearly 40% of respondents said they use three bibs per day, with just over 10% using double that amount. That said, this 10-pack of quality bibs is an excellent value for those who just want something that will easily slip on.

Though I found the material not as soft as others, the bibs got the feeding job done without irritating my niece’s neck. When finished, the Green Sprouts bibs can be tossed in the washing machine and dryer.

Our methodology

Collection of baby bibs

In order to narrow down what types of bibs to test for this guide, we surveyed 20 parents and caregivers to better understand their baby bib preferences. Here’s an overview of the results:

  • 85% of respondents care for babies between 4 and 11 months of age.
  • 100% of respondents look for a baby bib that’s easy to clean, with durability being a close second.
  • Most parents and caregivers use three baby bibs per day and wash them daily.

What’s more, silicone baby bibs are the most popular type. Multipacks were overwhelmingly preferred, with 90% of respondents purchasing baby bibs in a two-pack or more, rather than a single bib.

When asked what issues parents and caregivers run into with baby bibs, the three most common problems include the bib not staying in place, irritation to the baby’s neck, and the bib not catching foods and liquids well.

With our survey results in mind, we tested each bib according to the following criteria:

  • How it held up while feeding: This includes how much of a mess was left over after feeding, how effective the bib was at absorbing drool and catching food, and the overall design of the bib.
  • How comfortable it was: This includes if the bib caused any irritation and the softness and durability of the material.
  • How simple it was to clean: While most bibs were washing-machine safe, we paid special attention to those that weren’t and how simple they were to clean when using a different method.

What else we considered

Toddler wearing loulou lollipop bib

Below are the bibs we tested that didn’t quite make the cut:

FAQs about baby bibs and best feeding practices

We spoke to Feeding Littles cofounder Judy Delaware, OTR/L, CLC — an occupational therapist, feeding specialist, and certified lactation counselor — and Dr. Sarah Fleet, attending physician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Both provided their expertise to answer commonly asked questions about what to look for in a baby bib and what to know while feeding.

What should a caregiver look for in a baby bib?

“I would recommend something easy to clean, comfortable to wear, and long enough to protect the clothes underneath,” said Fleet.”Being dishwasher or machine washable would also be useful.”

It’s great for a baby bib to tie around the baby’s body and not the neck for both safety and comfort, added Delaware. She also appreciates quick-dry fabrics and waterproof designs. Keep in mind that choosing a baby bib remains entirely up to preference, however.


What should I know about cotton and bandana bibs?

“The bandana-style bib is typically made from cotton and, in my experience, these bibs are used for both feeding and drooling but don’t hold up to the wetness that can occur during these activities,” Delaware said. “This bib can feel soft to the touch, but many caregivers quickly find the bib and clothing may have to be changed.”


What should I know about silicone bibs?

 “The silicone bib is a caregiver favorite, but the front pocket may act as a place to pour or store things,” said Delaware. “The adjustable snaps may be irritating to tiny necks and many kids find silicone irritating to their skin.”


What should I know about repel-tex bibs?

“Repeltex is water-repellent and prevents the baby’s skin from feeling clammy or irritated,” said Delaware. “Look for a bib that secures around the body and not the neck.”


How often should I wash a baby bib?

Delaware recommends rinsing a bib after each use and running it through the washing machine one to three times a week. Fleet agrees, adding that food and saliva can become embedded on the bib’s surface and attract bacteria and pests.


What are safe feeding practices for babies?

“Each baby is unique in their skill development, and needs to be introduced to foods when they are developmentally ready,” said Fleet. “Solid foods should be introduced to an infant when they can sit unsupported in a high chair, with good head control, and are showing interest in solid foods.”


 How can I encourage mealtime if a baby is fussy?

 “Mealtime should ideally be free of distraction or screens and children should sit in a high chair or at the table,” said Fleet. “They should be allowed to feed themselves, and should not be fed against their will, as babies and toddlers generally eat when they are hungry and stop when they’re full.” Force-feeding may make them resistant to eat in the future, she added.

Fleet also recommends adding spices and flavors to infant and toddler foods. Toward the end of infancy, they may start refusing bland purees and prefer blended family meals, as they are more flavorful.


What should a baby’s diet contain for each life stage?

Below, Fleet provided a sample diet, unique to each month grouping. Be sure to speak to your pediatrician about any specific concerns.

  • 0 to 4 months: Only breastmilk or formula should be given.
  • 4 to 6 months: Single food purees can be given once daily along with breastmilk or formula.
  • 9 to 12 months: Beyond 6 months of age, breastmilk and formula don’t contain enough iron, so solid foods are recommended more than once daily. The baby can try dissolvable solids, like puffs and veggie straws.
  • 12 months and up: Three meals of solid foods and two snacks are encouraged, including puree, soft foods, or dissolvable solids. Bottles can be offered as snacks between meals.
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 11 best places to shop for kids clothes in 2021

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • When shopping for kids clothes, consider upcoming growth spurts, seasons, and sales
  • We did the testing to find the best kids clothing stores and brands for kids of all ages and needs.
  • We also rounded up our favorite pieces for the summer, including rompers, shorts, tees, and dresses.
best kids clothing

Both new and seasoned parents know the struggle of buying kids clothing. Whether it’s for a baby’s first birthday or a teen’s school dance, it’s difficult to avoid spending too much on clothes that almost immediately get stained, torn, or outgrown.

Even though I love and work in fashion, my daughter spent most of her first year in hand-me-down onesies. Now that she is approaching her second birthday, I’m itching to dress her in cuter clothes. But it can be daunting to sort through the variety of kids clothing online.

Quality and prices vary widely, and finding the time to navigate a retailer’s website is no easy feat. Add to that kids often-changing preferences and the struggle of finding functional yet on-trend clothing. To help guide you, we’ve looked at many retailers. For each one, we considered the range of styles, sizing inclusivity, quality of materials, and prices.

Here are the best places to shop for kids clothes in 2021

The best baby clothes

Places to buy kids clothing_Janie and Jack

Janie and Jack baby clothes make every day a special occasion with their fun prints and high-quality fabrics.

Janie and Jack’s clothing run true to size, which makes online ordering easy and fast. The brand offers a large selection for infants and a variety of pieces, including bodysuits, sweaters, dresses, and swimsuits, as well as accessories like shoes, hats, socks, and bows.

The colors and fabric look new even after repeated washing, though we do recommend line-drying the garments because cotton can shrink in machine dryers. My daughter lived in her Janie and Jack swimsuits this past summer, and the material did not droop or fade in the sun. 

What we like:

Baby Embroidered Romper (small)Baby Floral Smocked Romper (small)Baby Raglan Lobster Jumper (small)Baby Button Strawberry Button Romper (small)
The best baby clothes on a budget

Places to buy kids clothing_Carter's

Carter’s offers a large selection of affordable baby clothes that hold up well after repeated washes.

For everyday staples, Carter’s is a reliable brand with value packs and simple styles that are great for babies who may cycle through several outfits in a day. There are cute bodysuits and sleep sets, as well as hoodies, jackets, shoes, and other accessories. Carter’s runs frequent sales, but even pieces that are full priced are budget friendly. 

I have a variety of Carter’s pieces that have been handed down from at least two other parents, and the garments are still in good shape. The cotton does shrink a bit after a while and some pieces run big, but there have been no noticeable tears or holes. 

What we like:

Zip-Up Cotton Sleep & Plays (2-pack) (small)Organic Cotton Gauze Bubble Sunsuit (small)Little Planet Organic Cotton Overall Jumpsuit (small)Floral Linen Tank (small)
The best toddler clothes

Places to buy kids clothing_Tea Collection

Tea Collection offers everyday and special occasion toddler clothing in unique prints and patterns on soft fabrics.

Tea Collection pieces are some of my favorites for their distinctive prints and patterns. The quality of the fabrics, buttons, and seams on the garments is on par with adult clothing, and the designs are practical, modern, and inspired by global styles. With the exceptional quality comes a higher price tag, however. 

Though items are machine washable, using a delicate cycle and skipping the dryer will help them retain their shape and color. The brand also donates 10% of their profits to charitable organizations like the Global Fund for Children and the Homeless Prenatal Program in their home city of San Francisco, California.

What we like:

Pocket Printed Tea (small)Print Mix Skirted Dress (small)Tie-Waist Shorts (small)Plaid Camp Shirt (small)
The best toddler clothes on budget

Places to buy kids clothing_Old Navy

Old Navy is a budget-friendly one-stop shop to outfit your toddler and the whole family.

The quality of Old Navy clothing exceeds expectations when considering the brand’s ultra-low prices. The patterns are fun and cheery, and the versatile pieces have great value. For example, toddler pajamas come in fun prints for just $10. Its vast inventory includes basic sweats and tees, jackets, blouses, button-downs, dresses, jeans, pants, shorts, and swimwear as well as accessories like socks and shoes.

I’ve found that their sleepwear runs small, but other pieces are true to size. While the clothing won’t hold up as well as our top pick for toddlers, Old Navy runs frequent sales, so stocking up for the entire family is budget friendly.

What we like:

French Terry Tie-Dye Sweatshirt and Shorts Set (small)U-Shaped French-Terry Shorts (2-pack) (small)Printed Tie-Sleeve Romper (small)Printed Oxford Shirt (small)
The best kids clothes

Places to buy kids clothing_Maison Me

Maison Me is Maisonette’s in-house label with classic everyday designs that hold up to wear and tear.

Maison Me garments are made to last with pieces constructed from thick and sturdy fabrics that won’t wear out. The classic designs include traditional polos, plaid dresses, lots of striped pieces, and adorable florals. One of my favorite pieces that I tested with my toddler was a pink two-piece track suit that was ideal for play. I also found the leggings and drawstring pants were comfy and well-made.

The brand recommends machine-washing its clothing on cold and tumble-drying on low for optimal care. In my experience, this preserves both the quality and size of the garment.

What we like:

Pearl Lace Collar Dress (small)Clay Zip Hoodie (small)Reese Ribbed Legging (small)Gunnar Drawstring Pant (small)
The best kids clothes on a budget

Places to buy kids clothing_H&M

H&M has a diverse selection of organic clothes, all at bargain prices. 

H&M‘s environmental consciousness, budget-friendly prices, and diverse selection make it a great option for rapidly growing kids. The colorful prints, fun details, and prices are hard to resist. I started shopping there when my daughter was a baby, and as she grew, I continued to buy their affordable eco-friendly clothes. 

H&M offers kids clothes up to age 10 and a more sophisticated line for ages 8 to 14. They also sell accessories like tights, hats, shoes, and hair clips. If your child is Frozen-obsessed like mine, you’ll also love H&M’s partnerships with Disney, among others. The offerings are well-made, true to size, and wash easily.

What we like:

Patterned Jumpsuit (small)Cotton Henley Shirt (small)Sweatshorts (small)T-Shirts (5-pack) (small)
The best adaptive kids clothes

appaman adaptive kids clothing

Appaman’s Adaptive line caters to kids who have challenges with dressing, thanks to thoughtful and unique design features.

Appaman’s Adaptive line features accessible versions of its most popular clothing to empower kids to dress themselves. An ideal line not only considers accessibility but also style choices that are on par with nonadaptive lines, according to Debbie Stone, founder and executive director at Pop.Earth, a nonprofit committed to providing wellness options for people with autism and developmental disorders.

Garments have Velcro closures, magnetic zippers, and internal pant loops for dressing one-handed. Velcro ankle cuffs allow for prosthetics, orthotics, and other medical devices. The selection is somewhat lacking, with 42 pieces at time of publication, but the garments wash and wear exceptionally well. Though on the pricier side, the quality is unparalleled.

What we like:

Rhodes Shorts (small)Hot Dog Playa Shirt (small)Naxios Dress (small)Dockside Shorts (small)
The best adaptive kids clothes on a budget

cat & jack target adaptive kids clothing

Target’s Cat & Jack line includes clothing with abdominal access, snap closures for easy dressing, no tags, flat seams, and thumbholes to keep sleeves in place.

A major retailer like Target can broaden the range and accessibility of adaptive clothes. “At Pop.Earth, a charity for autism and special needs, I hear from numerous parents how important it is that clothing lines pivot to include these people,” said Stone. Cat & Jack is a favorite of the parents I polled, and while its adaptive offerings are somewhat limited, the prices are unbeatable. 

Cat & Jack makes leggings, pants, polos, tees, dresses, swimwear, jackets, and more. Like Carter’s, the clothing wear and wash well despite their lower price point. Garments also come with a one-year return policy with receipt if you’re not satisfied.

Toddler Abdominal Access 4th of July Dress (small)Dinosaur Woven Button-Down Shirt (small)Adapative Chino Pants (small)
The best tween clothes

nordstrom tween clothing

Nordstrom has a wide variety of tween clothing from popular brands and one of the best return policies.

Nordstrom is one of my favorite places to shop as an adult, and the options for tweens are just as impressive. There are well-known brands like Ugg, Hannah Banana, and Steve Madden, and a variety of other lesser-known brands that are equally cool among the tween set. Prices run the gamut, and offerings include everything from Nike and Adidas sweatshirts to sparkly, formal dresses. If you’re looking for a deal, there are great sales around the holidays as well as during its annual July sale.

Quality depends on the brand you buy, but I’ve found that pretty much everything I’ve purchased at Nordstrom withstands wear and tear. The product pages include recommended care instructions if you want to know before you buy. Nordstrom also offers free shipping and returns as well as local curbside pickup.

What we like:

Breathe Swoosh T-shirt (small)Crossback Jumper (small)Twill Shorts (small)The Markie Mid Rise Shorts (small)
The best tween clothes on a budget

Places to buy kids clothing_Kohl's

Kohl’s has tons of affordable brand-name clothing, and Kohl’s cash can get you even more savings.

Kohl’s is a go-to for tweens, thanks to its reasonable prices on brand-name items, including clothing from Levi’s and Under Armour. You can shop by price on the website, with thousands of offerings from $6 to $20. You can also sort by age range, occasion, and size, including extended size options.

Many pieces have printed designs or phrases, but there are basics as well. Some of the lower-cost clothing may be a bit thin and flimsy. Though they won’t last multiple seasons, they are great for messy art classes or sports practice.

Short Overalls (small)Logo Graphic Tee (small)Cameo Maxi Dress (small)Tech Cargo Shorts (small)
The best teen clothes

Places to buy kids clothing_American Eagle Outfitters

American Eagle Outfitters has an excellent selection and range of size options, and its rewards program is budget-friendly.

American Eagle’s basics and on-trend styles make it our top pick for teen clothing. It also beats out the competition in terms of affordability, thanks to its rewards program and sales that often include savings of 25%. Between AEO and Aerie labels, the selection is vast. Denim styles include the brand’s bestselling high-waisted jeggings and straight fit jeans. You’ll also find tees, sweatshirts, blouses, dresses, joggers, comfy loungewear, swimwear, and accessories like socks and shoes.

American Eagle has a rewards program, which offers cash rewards, members-only sales, a birthday coupon, free shipping, and returns. Garment construction can sometimes be irregular — crooked seams or an uneven hem on a dress, for example. However, the jeans last for years and get more comfortable after multiple washes.

What we like:

Tie-Dye Lettuce Edge Baby Tee (small)Super Soft Tri-Blend T-Shirt (small)Floral Tie Strap Midi Dress (small)AirFex+ Patched Denim Short (small)
What else we like

gap teen clothing

While the following stores and brands didn’t quite make the cut, if you haven’t found what you’re looking for among our top picks, consider the following.

Gap Teen: Through its new eco-friendly initiative, NXT Gen Gap, Gap offers quality basics with an ethical backstory. However, its inventory and deals fall short of our teen pick, American Eagle Outfitters.

Mori: Mori makes excellent sleepwear for babies and toddlers, but it doesn’t have much of a selection for everyday clothing.

All The Babies: This organic, vegan line is mostly limited to cozy sweatshirts and cotton bodysuits. It runs a program that donates used garments to families in need.

T.J. Maxx: We love T.J. Maxx for great deals on name-brand clothing, but it doesn’t offer a large variety of sizes online. Shopping in-store also takes time and is hit or miss. 

J.Crew: J.Crew has high-quality, well tailored pieces for the whole family. While its children’s clothing lasts a long time, the garments are quite expensive.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best tables for kids in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Tables give kids their own spot where they can comfortably create, eat, do homework, and just be.
  • We tested 11 kids tables to find the best ones for activities indoors and outside.
  • The Ikea Dundra is the best table for kids because it is sturdy, competitively priced, and has storage.

Kids deserve their own space where they can sit or stand comfortably to create art, do homework, eat, and play. Plus, when they have their own table for these activities, it reduces the mess on the dining room table or kitchen counters.

The market is saturated with kids tables, with many different sizes, styles, and types. We tested 11 different tables for kids, from picnic tables to basic-use tables, considering their durability, stability, ergonomic positioning, and ease of cleaning. We put these tables through the ringer, using them daily for at least a month each and purposely getting them messy just to see how well they clean up.

To inform our product selections and testing, we also spoke to two occupational therapists who specialize in pediatrics: Chaye Lamm Warburg and Ashley Stoffel. Jump to the end of this guide to read more about our full testing methodology and FAQs about kids tables.

Here are the best kids tables in 2021

The best kids table overall

Ikea dundra kids table

The Ikea Dundra activity table is big, sturdy, cleans well, and has a large storage drawer, all for under $100. 

Pros: Affordable, easy to clean, raised edges, added storage, very sturdy   

Cons: Doesn’t come with chairs, liquid spills drip into drawer 

 The Ikea Dundra activity table checks all of our testing boxes, and it does so as one of the more affordable tables we tested. The table has raised edges to stop crayons, markers, and other supplies from rolling off, and it has a large storage drawer with two compartments. The table surface is gray while every other surface is white. 

Although it doesn’t come with chairs, it’s the right height for younger kids to stand at the table and for older kids to kneel or sit. The table is 19.5 inches from the ground, which is about belly button height on my 3-year-old.

In our cleaning test, everything came off easily with a basic household cleaner with the exception of the colored pencil, which came off with a Magic Eraser. The storage drawers in the front have pros and cons when it comes to cleaning. The pro: If you’re in a rush, pull out the drawer and push everything in with one arm swipe. The con: If you don’t clean up a liquid spill on the table quickly, it will drip into the drawer. 

From the second I picked up the box, I could tell the table would be very sturdy. It does not budge unless you have one or two adults trying to move it. It has also proven to be durable, with no dents, chips, or other signs of wear. 

The best activity table for kids

Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow With You Activity Table

The Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table has the look and feel of being high quality plus it’s durable and easy to clean — two musts for kids tables.

Pros: Two leg-length options, very sturdy, raised edges, three color options  

Cons: Pricey, crumbs get stuck in corners 

With a high-end design and three color options, the Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table will not be an eyesore in your home. Ideal for crafts and activities, it has raised edges to keep everything on the surface. 

It has proved to be very durable and stable in our tests. The table doesn’t wobble or tip, and we haven’t seen any chips, cracks, dents, or other signs of wear. In addition to our clean test, this table also saw a lot of daily use throughout our testing as the main craft table for my toddler. 

In our cleaning test, everything came off very easily with a basic household cleaner. However, cleaning crumbs and other small scraps was a bit more difficult. Because it has raised edges, small detritus tends to get stuck in the corners.  

Like other activity tables, it does not come with chairs. However, there are two leg-length options, fulfilling the “grow-with-you” moniker. We tested the 15-inch legs; 24 inches is the other option. When kids are old enough for the 24-inch legs, the table becomes tall enough to add on chairs. This table is so beautifully crafted and low to the ground that my husband attempted to overtake our testing and convert it into a coffee table. 

The best basic kids table

Kidkraft farmhouse activity table for kids

The Kidkraft Farmhouse Table and Four Chairs was the easiest to clean out of everything we tested. 

Pros: Very easy to clean, comes with four chairs, durable and sturdy 

 Cons: Messes can get stuck in screw holes  

A basic kids table and chair set should be a staple in every child’s home. The Kidkraft Farmhouse Table and Four Chairs stood out as a high-quality kids’ furniture set that looks just like a miniature version of a dining set. It comes in four colors: espresso, white, natural, and pecan. 

Easy cleaning is a parent’s dream and this table passed our cleaning test with flying colors. Everything wiped clean using a regular household cleaner. The only downside when it comes to cleaning is that the chairs have quite a few uncovered screw holes. Cleaning can become a bit tricky when messes get into those indentations.  

Like our other top picks, this set is very durable and looks new after months of use. It doesn’t have any dents or chips. The table and chairs are also sturdy and have never wobbled or tipped over. 

As a basic set, this table doesn’t come with any bells and whistles. It’s simply a flat surface for kids to eat, play, and create without distractions. 

The best picnic table for kids

Little tikes easy store picnic table

The Little Tikes Easy Store Jr. Picnic Table is built to withstand outdoor conditions, and it even has a built-in multipurpose tray with cup holders. 

Pros: Very sturdy, multipurpose tray and cup holders, folds up for storage, can withstand harsh weather conditions 

Cons: Umbrella is flimsy, max seating capacity would be a tight squeeze  

The Little Tikes Easy Store Jr. Picnic Table was a clear winner between the two picnic tables we tested. It’s sturdy, cleans easily, and can seat up to six kids, though four is more comfortable. It’s available with or without an umbrella. We found the umbrella a bit flimsy, but it does the trick if you want some shade. 

During our testing period, we left the table in a backyard surrounded by other large toys. When high winds sent a small slide playset and a playhouse flying, this table stayed put. It also never wobbled or tipped, even when we sat one adult on one side, within the 200-pound weight limit.

In our cleaning test, most messes came out easily. This table has some texture, which trapped the crayon and colored pencil marks. With a bit of scrubbing using regular household cleaner for the crayons and a Magic Eraser for the colored pencils, everything cleaned off. 

After over one month of testing, the table does not have any dents, cracks, or other obvious signs of wear. As an outdoor table, it does get a bit dirty, but dirt, pollen, and other outside messes clean quickly with a hose. 

The table can seat up to six kids with a maximum weight of 200 pounds per bench. Based on experience, I’d say it seats four comfortably; six kids would really need to squeeze to fit. 

One of our favorite features is the indentation in the middle of the table. It’s described as a multipurpose condiment/crayon tray, and it does not disappoint. It also includes two cup holders. 

When you’re ready to store the table, it folds nicely into one flat piece. It’s so easy that you could feasibly fold it to store after each use if you don’t want to leave it sitting out. 

The best budget kids table

Ikea Mammut picnic table

The Ikea Mammut is about as inexpensive as you can get, but it still received top marks in all of our tests, and it’s appropriate for indoor and outdoor use.  

Pros: Sturdy, easy to clean, affordable, appropriate for indoor or outdoor use, lightweight

Cons: Doesn’t come with chairs, slides slightly on hard surfaces 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a safe and sturdy kids table for less than the Ikea Mammut. The table doesn’t come with chairs, but you can add two on for $15 each, and it will still be the most inexpensive option in our guide. In testing, we often used it with this active balance chair, which we received as an editorial review sample from its manufacturer.

The Mammut is available in white or red. The nonporous material of the table even makes it ideal to use outside. It’s very lightweight and easy to move around outdoors and indoors. 

In our cleaning test, crayon marks came out with a Magic Eraser, and everything else cleaned off easily with basic household cleaner. This is another one that my toddler got a lot of use out of during our testing, and it still looks like it did when we took it out of the box. No dents, cracks, stains, or other signs of wear. You can purchase it in white or red.

As expected, the lightweight table slid a bit on hard surfaces, but never so much that it flew out from under our tester, and I never felt the need to remove it from our home due to safety concerns. 

All in all, this table gets the job done for a fraction of the price of others we tested. 

Our testing methodology

Testing kids tables

We used four main parameters to test each table: durability, stability, ease of cleaning, and ergonomic positioning. We tested each table with regular use for at least one month and some for more than six months. With the exception of the Pottery Barn Kids Carolina Grow-With-You Activity Table and B. Spaces by Battat set, we received editorial review samples of each table for testing purposes. 

  • Durability: After at least one month of regular and appropriate use, we checked for chips in paint or finishes, dents, splinters, cracks, or other obvious signs of wear.  
  • Stability: Stoffel emphasized the importance of finding a sturdy table and chair set. The table shouldn’t wobble when kids put their elbows on it, for example. To test stability, we observed daily and regular use and noted any instances of tipping or wobbling in both the chairs and the tables.
  • Ease of cleaning: It’s a fact of life: Kids make messes. On each table, we purposely made messes with: crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, glue, and food.

    We first cleaned each mess with a regular household cleaner like Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner or Lysol Multi-Purpose Cleaner. For messes that persisted, we followed up with a Magic Eraser. Almost all messes were gone at that point. We noted any messes that persisted beyond the Magic Eraser. 

  • Ergonomic positioning: Both experts we spoke to emphasized the importance of ergonomic positioning. This is difficult to assess because children grow at rapid rates. We followed this sizing guide recommended by Stoffel. Although ideal chair and tabletop heights vary by a child’s age, ideal differences between chair seat height and table top height are consistent. All of the tables we recommend come within 1 inch of these guidelines. 

What else we considered

Kidkraft picnic table for kids

We tested 11 kids tables in total. Here are the ones that didn’t make our top picks:

Kidkraft Outdoor Table with Benches and Umbrella: This is a beautiful table, but it’s not the most practical option for kids. Crayons, colored pencils, and markers didn’t clean off in our tests, and the wood started to chip and splinter after less than a year of use. 

Lalo The Play Kit: This set is very solid, has rubber bottoms to prevent sliding, and the chairs come in four colors. Unfortunately, the table wobbled in our tests. For a $250 set — the most expensive we tested — a structural issue like wobbling is a deal breaker.

B. Spaces by Battat – Kids’ Furniture Set: This is a nice set that has a few minor flaws. Because the chairs curve up on the edges, we found that they tip and can fall over if kids sit on the very edge. Additionally, we couldn’t get both chairs to fully fit under the table, and this one needed some extra scrubbing in our cleaning test.

Delta Children Chelsea Chair Set With Table: I really, really wanted to love this set. It has storage under the table and it includes a reversible chalkboard/whiteboard. Unfortunately, it had a strong off-gassing smell that lasted over a month, and within a couple months of use, the chair legs became loose and almost fell off. 

Melissa and Doug Wooden Table and Chairs: We really liked this set and didn’t find any major flaws. There simply wasn’t anything that made it stand out, and it’s more expensive than some of the similar tables we tested. 

Humble Crew Tot Tutors Forever 2-in-1 LEGO Compatible Activity Table: We were unable to spend much time testing this table. It quickly became apparent that it was unsafe. The table and chairs repeatedly slid and flipped out from under my toddler during testing. This happened with appropriate use on both hard floors and carpeting. 

What we look forward to testing

Ikea Flisat kids table

We’re always looking for the best products to test and recommend to our readers. We’ll continue to test kids tables for a future update to this guide. 

Ikea Flisat Children’s Table: This table has a flat top, but it can also become a sensory table with two storage bins that fit inside. It was out of stock at the time of our testing, so we’re looking forward to trying it out for a future update. 

FAQs about tables for kids

What are the benefits of tables for kids? 

Both of our experts emphasized the importance of ergonomic positioning so kids can be comfortable and have support for their bodies. “We all benefit from having our feet supported either on the floor or a sturdy footrest so a child-size chair might support a child in being able to more comfortably place their feet on the floor,” Stoffel told Insider Reviews. 

Stoffel also explained that this position helps support the upper body and allows kids to have more coordination and control in their hands. Warburg emphasized this as well. “Dangling feet cause children to round their backs and lead to back pain and sloppy handwriting,” she said.

Warburg noted that having a good table and chair fit is critical when kids are expected to sit for long periods of time. Having proper positioning is helpful for eating, completing school work, completing artwork, and playing and kids might even sit for longer periods of time for meals or homework if they’re seated comfortably. 

“Another benefit of a chil- size table and chair is that it gives the child a specific and special place for daily activities,” Stoffel said. “Knowing the table and chair are their own, the child might be more motivated or invested in the activity.”


How can I tell if a table is the right size for my child? 

According to Warburg, a good table allows a child to sit with their feet flat on the floor. Tabletop height  should be 2 inches above the height of the elbow when the child is sitting. Hips, knees, and ankles should also be at 90-degree angles when the child is seated.

Stoffel added that kids should be able to gently rest their elbows on the table without reaching up or leaning down. She also gave us an example of what a child might look like if the chair and table are not a supportive size. “You might observe the child squirming, shifting around in the seat, getting up from the table frequently or demonstrating decreased success with fine motor tasks,” she said.

Our sources

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best baby-safe laundry detergent you can buy

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • When a new baby arrives it changes everything, even laundry. What detergent should you be using to protect your precious new arrival?
  • Of all the detergents out there, none is better for babies than All’s free clear liquid detergent.
  • It protects your baby’s sensitive skin and delivers the cleaning power needed for the whole family’s laundry at an affordable price.

Bringing a new baby home is both an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time. The little one is relying on you for everything including clean clothes and bedding that will not irritate delicate skin.

According to Cleveland Clinic pediatric dermatologist Joan Tamburro, DO; “A child who has skin problems may be more prone to laundry detergent reactions. A family history of atopic dermatitis (eczema) also may put your infant at higher risk.”

As a laundry and housekeeping professional, I’ve been testing products for companies, agencies, and publications for many years. So with the birth of my first grandchild, I was delighted to be able to lessen one anxiety by recommending the best laundry detergent for both the baby and his parents.

The main culprits in commercial laundry detergent that causes skin irritation and allergic reactions are dye and fragrance. By choosing a product that is dye and scent-free, the detergent can be used for not only baby’s clothes but all household laundry.

Here are the best baby laundry detergents:

The best baby laundry detergent overall

all free clear detergent

If you are looking for a reasonably-priced, effective laundry detergent that is safe for your baby’s delicate skin and can be used for the rest of the family’s laundry, All’s free clear liquid detergent is your best bet.

What we like:  Performs well for both baby and family laundry, mid-priced, readily available in mass-market stores and online, free of dyes and perfumes

As I was testing and selecting a laundry detergent for our precious new one, I took into consideration the product’s ingredients, cleaning ability, cost per load, and ease of use. As a new parent, the last thing you need is a product that makes the laundry routine any more complicated.

The final verdict after testing more than 10 products was that All free clear liquid will give a baby the protection he needs from irritation, remove all but the worst stains, not break the budget, and can be used to wash clothes for the entire family. It is also the most highly recommended detergent brand for sensitive skin by dermatologists, allergists, and pediatricians. 

It seems others agree with me as well. On Walgreens, all free clear has a rating of 4.8 out of five stars. One reader states, “I’m so sensitive, allergic to everything! This is the only detergent that I can use that doesn’t cause a reaction. Even other “Free” products cause me to react.”

All free clear comes in liquid, powder, and single dose packs. I would recommend the liquid formula, costing about 20 cents per load, because it can also be used to pretreat stains. Just work in a tiny amount of the liquid into the stained area with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush and wait about 15 minutes before washing.

The best baby laundry detergent for the environment

Seventh Generation laundry detergent

Environmentally-friendly Seventh Generation Baby Concentrated Laundry Detergent also protects your baby’s sensitive skin from harsh chemicals.

What we like: Plant and mineral-based ingredients are environmentally-friendly, detergent works well on baby stains and can be used for laundry for the entire family

Protecting a new baby is always a top priority, but we should never forget that protecting the Earth is also important. After all, our actions today will affect the world that a child faces in the future.

Seventh Generation products adhere to that philosophy and use only plant or mineral-based ingredients. Seventh Generation Baby Laundry Detergent received a 97% rating as a USDA Certified Biobased Product and is never tested on animals.

One member of the What to Expect community, Lakewood Chick, says “We use Seventh Generation Free & Clear for everyone’s clothes, not just baby. I think it works great and it makes me feel much better knowing harmful chemicals aren’t in it.”

After giving it a try on our baby’s laundry, I was delighted with the results. The plant-based enzymes removed tough formula and diaper stains with ease. Over on Amazon, 61% of buyers rated it as a five-star product. The cost at around  25 cents per load is higher but the results are worth it.

The best baby laundry detergent for tough stains

babyganics detergent

Just as babies grow bigger, so do their stains. Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent contains the enzymes you need to treat those stains.

What we like: Contains enzymes to tackle tough stains, available in unscented and scented formulas, concentrated formula with an easy-to-handle bottle

Newborns need to be swaddled with soft, irritant-free fabrics from the moment they are born. Fortunately, other than some diaper accidents, they don’t create too many difficult stains. But as they age and are introduced to commercial formulas that contain iron and then those first solid foods, the stains can be a challenge especially if they sit around for several days before being washed.

That’s why I was so pleased to discover that Babyganics contains the enzymes protease to break down protein stains (diaper stains) and amylase to tackle starches and carbohydrates stains. What also makes Babyganics a good choice is that the formula is plant and mineral-based and carries the USDA Certified Biobased label.

Babyganics Baby Laundry Detergent has a five-star rating by 61% of buyers on Amazon. One reviewer is particularly pleased with the 3X concentration since “you don’t have to buy it as often as others compared to its size nor need to hold up a bulky container every time you have to do the laundry (pretty important for tired moms).”

Developed to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers at a cost of around 23 cents per load, I use Babyganics liquid detergent as a stain pre-treater before tossing those dirty bibs into the washer. If you like a bit of scent, it also comes in a lavender scent created with natural essential oils.

The best baby laundry detergent for diapers

Rockin Green detergent

Cloth diapers present a laundry challenge to new parents, but Rockin’ Green Classic Rock Natural Laundry Detergent can make it all easier.

What we like: Mineral-based and contains no petroleum-based products, produced in the United States, removes diaper stains and odor

Every parent must make the decision on whether to use cloth or disposable diapers with each having its own merits. If cloth diapers are the final choice, learning how to clean and disinfect them properly is a must. Even if you use a diaper service, there will be times when you need to wash a load of diapers at home.

Rockin’ Green is a small company based in Texas that tackles the challenge of diaper laundry with a mineral-based powdered detergent that removes tough stains but leaves the fabric feeling soft to the touch. Free of dyes and perfumes, the company also offers a Hard Rock formula if you live in an area with hard water that can leave fabrics stiff and scratchy.

On What to Expect, one community member, Smallsteps, reports that ” I no longer have to add tons of other stuff to get my diapers clean and stink free!”

Some 70% of buyers on Amazon give the product a five-star rating. I found that if you follow the proper routine of rinsing and pre-soaking soiled diapers and wash them regularly, for less than 20 cents per load your little one will have clean, odor-free diapers every day.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best places to shop for kids’ clothes in 2021

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

kids clothing
  • When shopping for kids’ clothing, consider upcoming growth spurts, holidays, seasons, sales, and your child’s taste.
  • Well-made kids’ clothing won’t wear out as quickly and can be handed down later.
  • We did the research and testing to find the best kids’ clothing stores and brands for kids of all ages and needs.

Both new and seasoned parents know the struggle of buying kids’ clothing. Whether it’s for a baby’s first birthday or a teen’s school dance, it’s difficult to avoid spending too much on clothes that almost immediately get stained, torn, or outgrown.

Even though I love and work in fashion, my daughter spent most of her first year in hand-me-down onesies. Now that she is approaching her second birthday, I’m itching to dress her in cuter clothes. But it can be daunting to sort through the variety of kids’ clothing online.

Quality and prices vary widely, and finding the time to navigate a retailer’s website is no easy feat. Add to that kids’ often-changing preferences and the struggle of finding functional yet on-trend clothing. To help guide you, we’ve looked at many retailers. For each one, we considered the range of styles, sizing inclusivity, quality of materials, and prices.

Here are the best places to shop for kids’ clothes

The best baby clothes

Janie and Jack baby clothes

Janie and Jack baby clothes make every day a special occasion with their fun prints and high-quality fabrics.

Janie and Jack’s clothing run true to size, which makes online ordering easy and fast. The brand offers a large selection for infants and a variety of pieces, including bodysuits, sweaters, dresses, and swimsuits, as well as accessories like shoes, hats, socks, and bows.

The colors and fabric look new even after repeated washing, though we do recommend line-drying the garments because cotton can shrink in machine dryers. My daughter lived in her Janie and Jack swimsuits this past summer, and the material did not droop or fade in the sun. 

What we like:

Whale Heart Footed (small)Baby Cable Knit Cardigan (small)Baby Floral Romper (small)Baby Button Jogger (small)
The best baby clothes on a budget

Carter's Baby Clothes

Carter’s offers a large selection of affordable baby clothes that hold up well after repeated washes.

For everyday staples, Carter’s is a reliable brand with value packs and simple styles that are great for babies who may cycle through several outfits in a day. There are cute bodysuits and sleep sets, as well as hoodies, jackets, shoes, and other accessories. Carter’s runs frequent sales, but even pieces that are full priced are budget friendly. 

I have a variety of Carter’s pieces that have been handed down from at least two other parents, and the garments are still in good shape. The cotton does shrink a bit after a while and some pieces run big, but there have been no noticeable tears or holes. 

What we like:

Animals Original Bodysuits (4 pack) (small)Floral Zip-Up French Terry Hoodie (small)Cotton Pant (4 pack) (small)Heart Chambray Romper (small)
The best toddler clothes

Tea Collection

Tea Collection offers everyday and special occasion toddler clothing in unique prints and patterns on soft fabrics.

Tea Collection pieces are some of my favorites for their distinctive prints and patterns. The quality of the fabrics, buttons, and seams on the garments is on par with adult clothing, and the designs are practical, modern, and inspired by global styles. With the exceptional quality comes a higher price tag, however. 

Though items are machine washable, using a delicate cycle and skipping the dryer will help them retain their shape and color. The brand also donates 10% of their profits to charitable organizations like the Global Fund for Children and the Homeless Prenatal Program in their home city of San Francisco, California.

What we like:

All Star Popover (small)Ruffle Hem Dress (small)Plaid Button Up (small)French Terry Joggers (small)
The best toddler clothes on budget

old navy toddler clothes

Old Navy is a budget-friendly one-stop shop to outfit your toddler and the whole family.

The quality of Old Navy clothing exceeds expectations when considering the brand’s ultra-low prices. The patterns are fun and cheery, and the versatile pieces have great value. For example, toddler pajamas come in fun prints for just $10. Its vast inventory includes basic sweats and tees, jackets, blouses, button-downs, dresses, jeans, pants, shorts, and swimwear as well as accessories like socks and shoes.

I’ve found that their sleepwear runs small, but other pieces are true to size. While the clothing won’t hold up as well as our top pick for toddlers, Old Navy runs frequent sales, so stocking up for the entire family is budget friendly.

What we like:

Fit & Flare Printed Button-Front Dress (small)Vintage Dolman-Sleeve Sweatshirt (small)French Terry Button-Front Cardigan (small)U-Shaped Jogger Pants (small)
The best kids’ clothes

Best kids' clothing stores in 2021 - where to buy children's clothes

Maison Me is Maisonette’s in-house label with classic everyday designs that hold up to wear and tear.

Maison Me garments are made to last with pieces constructed from thick and sturdy fabrics that won’t wear out. The classic designs include traditional polos, plaid dresses, lots of striped pieces, and adorable florals. One of my favorite pieces that I tested with my toddler was a pink two-piece track suit that was ideal for play. I also found the leggings and drawstring pants were comfy and well-made.

The brand recommends machine-washing its clothing on cold and tumble-drying on low for optimal care. In my experience, this preserves both the quality and size of the garment.

What we like:

Pearl Lace Collar Dress (small)Clay Zip Hoodie (small)Reese Ribbed Legging (small)Gunnar Drawstring Pant (small)
The best kids’ clothes on a budget

h&m kids clothes

H&M has a diverse selection of organic clothes, all at bargain prices. 

H&M‘s environmental consciousness, budget-friendly prices, and diverse selection make it a great option for rapidly growing kids. The colorful prints, fun details, and prices are hard to resist. I started shopping there when my daughter was a baby, and as she grew, I continued to buy their affordable eco-friendly clothes. 

H&M offers kids’ clothes up to age 10 and a more sophisticated line for ages 8 to 14. They also sell accessories like tights, hats, shoes, and hair clips. If your child is Frozen-obsessed like mine, you’ll also love H&M’s partnerships with Disney, among others. The offerings are well-made, true to size, and wash easily.

What we like:

Cotton Chinos (small)Ruffle Trimmed Jersey Dress (small)Denim Leggings (3 pack) (small)Denim Shirt (small)
The best adaptive kids’ clothes

appaman adaptive kids clothing

Appaman’s Adaptive line caters to kids who have challenges with dressing, thanks to thoughtful and unique design features.

Appaman’s Adaptive line features accessible versions of its most popular clothing to empower kids to dress themselves. An ideal line not only considers accessibility but also style choices that are on par with non-adaptive lines, according to Debbie Stone, founder and executive director at Pop.Earth, a nonprofit committed to providing wellness options for people with autism and developmental disorders.

Garments have Velcro closures, magnetic zippers, and internal pant loops for dressing one-handed. Velcro ankle cuffs allow for prosthetics, orthotics, and other medical devices. The selection is somewhat lacking, with 42 pieces at time of publication, but the garments wash and wear exceptionally well. Though on the pricier side, the quality is unparalleled.

What we like:

Kathleen Dress (small)Rainbow Jean Short (small)Glen Hooded Shirt (small)Skinny Twill Pant (small)
The best adaptive kids’ clothes on a budget

cat & jack target adaptive kids clothing

Target’s Cat & Jack line includes clothing with abdominal access, snap closures for easy dressing, no tags, flat seams, and thumb holes to keep sleeves in place.

A major retailer like Target can broaden the range and accessibility of adaptive clothes. “At Pop.Earth, a charity for autism and special needs, I hear from numerous parents how important it is that clothing lines pivot to include these people,” said Stone. Cat & Jack is a favorite of the parents I polled, and while its adaptive offerings are somewhat limited, the prices are unbeatable. 

Cat & Jack makes leggings, pants, polos, tees, dresses, swimwear, jackets, and more. Like Carter’s, the clothing wear and wash well despite their lower price point. Garments also come with a one-year return policy with receipt if you’re not satisfied.

What we like:

Adaptive Hooded Adjustable Kids’ Bodysuit (small)Moxie Peach Abdominal Access Dress (small)Adaptive Graphic Kids’ T-Shirt (small)Doubleknit Thermal Jogger Pants (small)
The best tween clothes

nordstrom tween clothing

Nordstrom has a wide variety of tween clothing from popular brands and one of the best return policies.

Nordstrom is one of my favorite places to shop as an adult, and the options for tweens are just as impressive. There are well-known brands like Ugg, Hannah Banana, and Steve Madden, and a variety of other lesser-known brands that are equally cool among the tween set. Prices run the gamut, and offerings include everything from Nike and Adidas sweatshirts to sparkly, formal dresses. If you’re looking for a deal, there are great sales around the holidays as well as during its annual July sale.

Quality depends on the brand you buy, but I’ve found that pretty much everything I’ve purchased at Nordstrom withstands wear and tear. The product pages include recommended care instructions if you want to know before you buy. Nordstrom also offers free shipping and returns as well as local curbside pickup.

What we like:

Utility Jumpsuit (small)Kids’ Tricolor Stripe Hoodie (small)Arawak Gingham Whale Performance Button-Down Shirt (small)The Jane Distressed Cuffed Hem Jeans (small)
The best tween clothes on a budget

kohls tween clothing

Kohl’s has tons of affordable brand-name clothing, and Kohl’s cash can get you even more savings.

Kohl’s is a go-to for tweens, thanks to its reasonable prices on brand-name items, including clothing from Levi’s and Under Armour. You can shop by price on the website, with thousands of offerings from $6 to $20. You can also sort by age range, occasion, and size, including extended size options.

Many pieces have printed designs or phrases, but there are basics as well. Some of the lower-cost clothing may be a bit thin and flimsy. Though they won’t last multiple seasons, they are great for messy art classes or sports practice. 

What we like:

Jogger Pants (small)Tie Dye Jumpsuit (small)Polo (small)Allover Logo Hoodie (small)
The best teen clothes

american eagle outfitters clothing for teens

American Eagle Outfitters has an excellent selection and range of size options, and its rewards program is budget-friendly.

American Eagle’s basics and on-trend styles make it our top pick for teen clothing. It also beats out the competition in terms of affordability, thanks to its rewards program and sales that often include savings of 25%. Between AEO and Aerie labels, the selection is vast. Denim styles include the brand’s bestselling high-waisted jeggings and straight fit jeans. You’ll also find tees, sweatshirts, blouses, dresses, joggers, comfy loungewear, swimwear, and accessories like socks and shoes.

American Eagle has a rewards program, which offers cash rewards, members-only sales, a birthday coupon, free shipping, and returns. Garment construction can sometimes be irregular — crooked seams or an uneven hem on a dress, for example. However, the jeans last for years and get more comfortable after multiple washes.

What we like:

Ribbed Long Sleeve Twist Front Dress (small)Ne(x)t Level Curvy Highest Waist Jegging (small)Plaid Poplin Button-Up Shirt (small)Active 24/7 Jogger (small)
What else we like

gap teen clothing

While the following stores and brands didn’t quite make the cut, if you haven’t found what you’re looking for among our top picks, consider the following.

Gap Teen: Through its new eco-friendly initiative, NXT Gen Gap, Gap offers quality basics with an ethical backstory. However, its inventory and deals fall short of our teen pick, American Eagle Outfitters.

Mori: Mori makes excellent sleepwear for babies and toddlers, but it doesn’t have much of a selection for everyday clothing.

All The Babies: This organic, vegan line is mostly limited to cozy sweatshirts and cotton bodysuits. It runs a program that donates used garments to families in need.

T.J. Maxx: We love T.J. Maxx for great deals on name-brand clothing, but it doesn’t offer a large variety of sizes online. Shopping in-store also takes time and is hit or miss. 

J.Crew: J.Crew has high-quality, well tailored pieces for the whole family. While its children’s clothing lasts a long time, the garments are quite expensive.

Read the original article on Business Insider