The Drool Baby Expo (hosted at the Westin Waterfront by Magic Beans of Brookline) had me excited to attend, but I had no idea how much fun and informational—and organized!—it would turn out to be! From people greeting us at the elevator to maps and well-placed signs, the setup was easy and made sense. Since I brought my wife and toddler son with me I was stoked to see a special changing station set up with sample, complimentary wipes and a super-soft changer cover by Aden & Anais. Their material makes ME want to be able to use them!
Being pragmatic, I entered the room and immediately turned right and proceeded in a circle until we hit every. single. vendor. There were nearly 100 and each one was worth the time we spent chatting, reading, trying and learning. The big names—Bugaboo, BabyBjorn, Chicco—were present, along with the smaller or lesser-known ones—Ubbi, ZoLi and Rhoost. European brands like Nuna were there, as well as local places like Treat Cupcake Bar (with samples—um, delish!). I have to say the gift bag I picked up at the end was amazing; it had water bottles, toys, treats—you name it, it had it.
I loved the snacks you had around the room, but the bar and mocktails took the cake! We enjoyed a couple of them because walking around for so long, you get parched!
My main reason for attending was to try new products that I would be able to use with my hands despite my CMT. I had success all around, even with the products I couldn’t use because it saved me a trip to the post office with a return! I found 10 products I’d recommend to those with physical limitations in their hands/feet or with balance, like I do because of the CMT.
1) ZoLi takes the cake for toddler/baby plates and cups. Jameson is king of wanting to be in charge of his own plate, but sees no problem mid-meal throwing it across the room. But ZoLi has a stuck plate, which suctions to the table or highchair tray. It was amazing and I could actually work it with minimal force. The package comes with a bowl that holds food, a 3-part insert that sits on top and a cover that snaps on tight enough that he can’t undo it, but easy enough for me to use. Also part of the package is a fork and spoon in a travel case. The only sad part was they didn’t have these in the store, so I will have to go online and buy some. Their cups looked great, too, and they sold those at the Expo, but he’s not that into straws yet, so it would have been a waste.
2) Nuna carseats had me intrigued with the leg-like extension on the base of the Pipa. To be honest, I wasn’t going to stop here because we are diehard Chicco fans, but the leg-like part drew us in. That and the sun shade that appeared over the bucket seat. Turns out they are a Dutch company, new to this country. I think they will be well-known very soon! Their Pipa is the equivalent of our Chicco Keyfit30, except it has a rigid LATCH installation, with a support leg that rests on the floor for extra stability. It is also only 7 lbs! That’s 2 lbs lighter than the Keyfit30! The sunshade, called the Dream Drape, zips into the canopy when not in use and attaches to the bottom when in use. Love it!
3) The only no-no we almost broke was putting bumpers in the crib because J would hit his head, get his chunky thighs stuck and chew on the wood. In the end, we opted to let him get his bruises because the doctor swore it was safer. I wish I had heard about Wonder Bumpers at that time! They zip on to individual slats of the crib as well as the tops, so none of the bruising would have happened, but there would also have been air circulating! For the next one we’ll definitely be using these!
4) You can imagine how many carriers I had to try before I found one that I could manage with the buckles, assembly, comfort, weight bearing and ease of use when alone: 8 to be exact! I ended up loving the Baby K’Tan and the Ergobaby carrier. However, when we do decide to have another, I will be getting the Bitybean. It’s made of ripstop material (think LL Bean raincoat) and folds into the tiniest little cinch-top sack for easy travel. Talk about light! It also has a wicking interior and can be worn front- and rear-facing. It holds toddlers to 40 pounds and has an extender strap for larger parents. Being able to try it was key and the staff at their booth was super knowledgable!
5) We are a cloth diaper household, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need ways to hold and keep our stinky diapers and used inserts! I have tried the Genie ones before and had trouble with opening and closing it. The Ubbi, though, I tried at the Expo, was amazingly easy, can be used with any bags and any diapers. I think I’d even use it with the cloth diapers as a holding pen until the wife does the wash—anything to get rid of the pee smell! Also, love the vibrant colors—pistachio is my fav!
6) We loved our Playtex “bent” bottles and Tommee Tippees for when I fed J his breastmilk meals, but after seeing a demo of the Foodii system, we are thinking about buying it for the next one! Not only can you pump directly into the bags, once you add a nipple and squeeze once, it fills with liquid and doesn’t allow air in! I also love that it can be used for toddler squeeze pouches I make. Seems super easy all around!
7) I really wish I found Rhoost before we child-proofed! Their products require no adhesives or screws and actually look attractive, like they are meant to be part of the furniture. Highly recommend!
8) You’ve no doubt heard of Citrus Lane monthly boxes with goodies based on your child’s age, or Bark Box—similar to Citrus Lane, but for canines. What I hadn’t heard of was Supplet, which is the same idea, but for expecting moms. What a cool idea: a little treat every month, with items geared toward your month of pregnancy. I love it and will be buying it when my wife gets pregnant again!
9) Jewish Family & Children’s Services is not a product, but I think a necessity. They host support groups all over and on all topics from postpartum depression to breastfeeding. The table was hopping with those interested or who had been and loved their services. Full disclosure: My dear friend Kate works there, but I see the work she and the agency does and know how much of an asset it is.
10) Last, but not least, is an item I actually bought because I loved it so much! It’s a Skip Hop padded mat for the edge of the tub. With my lack of balance, I am always slipping when I give J a bath. No more! This mat, which matches the kneeler I already have, is soft and comfortable and will prevent me—or my son—from any safety issues caused by my slipping on the edge.
10A) I also bought a book because it was a cute one about Boston and because it kept Jameson occupied while we waited in the checkout line!
I can’t end without a thank you to MJ O’Connor’s, an Irish pub inside the Westin Waterfront, for a most welcome and most delicious Black Velvet to cap off a great time at the Expo! Your food came out yummy and hot and so fast that my son didn’t even get antsy!