Infant fingernails: a seemingly impossible combination of soft and sharp. You can “trim” them in an instant with a gentle maternal nibble, yet they can slice a tender cheek in the blink of an eye.
Socks on the hands always elicit the sad trombone, no matter how sweet the cherub. Thanks to the brilliance and diligence of Lili and Linsey – the two Portland Oregon-area moms behind brand-new label guavakids – makeshift mitts are no longer a parent’s only preventative option. Beautifully tailored, graphically vivid and exuberantly intentional “guavamitts” are a major infant glove upgrade with more than just protective value – they’re playful, stimulating, eco-friendly and smartly designed so you’ll actually *use* them.
Lili and Linsey took special care in sourcing materials and designing-in special details. guavamitts boast a tailored look, snug closures, and mod patterns. Fabric is a knitted bamboo/organic cotton blend that’s breathable, naturally antimicrobial, and sustainably harvested. Each mitt reverses, sporting two visually stimulating patterns, and (like socks) they are wearable on either hand.
This is a product that holds up and even improves under closer scrutiny – we were duly impressed by the quality construction on this tiny scale, which clearly warrants the suggested retail price of $12/pair (or $20 for a two-pack). A little extra care during laundry will keep guavamitts looking their best. Fish them out after washing and air dry to help avoid shrinking or puckering. A mesh baby laundry bag like this one from Munchkin is always a great option for keeping track of tiny items.
Eminently giftable, guavamitts (in 9 different patterns…18 counting the reverses) are a promising debut! Launched in select stores just this month, interested readers can shop directly at guavakids.com starting September 21.
Update 6/22/2012: RIP Plum! Too soon… Good article here on why it failed. I’m keeping this post up, because I still believe in the idea. Interesting perspective in the article on why ThredUP works, too.
Original Post Follows:
Here’s an interesting notion for parents wanting to live simply yet still deck their kids out in boutique clothing: rent it.
Plum is a new company that calls itself “Netflix for baby clothes.” Subscribers pay a monthly fee to receive bundles of two, four, or seven outfits at a time by mail, sending them back when finished for a fresh set. Bundles are packed in a resealable envelope for easy returns, and the subscription supports one free exchange per month.
Does this pencil out over buying new? Pretty much – at least for the brands they’re touting (Tea Collection, Petit Bateau, Kate Quinn Organics…) Let’s say you were dressing an infant for exactly three months, and could live with Plum’s seven outfit bundle on top of all the stuff you were gifted by friends and family. That’s a $49/month subscription – about $150 for the 3 months. By contrast, Tea Collection or Kate Quinn layette separates run about $30-35 a piece – which would total about $210-$245 for seven outfits if purchased new.
Plum’s no-hassle stain policy (no worries – they just donate it to charity) helps make the service an overall good value, especially if you’re just having one child of a particular gender (finally – a girl after three boys!), or are not the type to do the legwork of keeping stuff pristine for resale. Parents of multiples can use it to supplement what they already have in the house, maybe giving that little girl four sweet outfits “of her own” each month (for $29) on top of the more gender-neutral stuff she can reuse from her brothers. It’s also a fun gift for relatives or friends to consider – either one time, or recurring.
Plum is in a public beta at the moment, with a waitlist for new members. But if it interests you, definitely sign up and keep your eyes on it. A similar service is ThredUP, where families nation-wide swap used baby clothing for $15.95 a box. ThredUP is a great idea for the mass market, but with brands tending to be a lot more mainstream – Carter’s, Old Navy, that sort of thing – the lack of selection can be frustrating to folks who prefer (and would post up in exchange) the kinds of brands that Plum is carrying.
Editor’s Note: ThredUP has since added a Concierge service which helps get higher-end swappers into the game.
Comotomo offers an update on so-called “natural nursers” – baby bottles made out of silicone or a similar material, and designed to more closely approximate a mother’s breast. These bottles tend to resonate with folks who primarily breastfeed, and especially those who experience trouble getting baby to take a bottle.
Sporting a more compact, squishable shape, Comotomo Natural Feel bottles improve upon an earlier competitor – the Adiri Natural Nurser – in their smaller size and more flexible material, which make for a more intimate in-hand experience. A big benefit of the flexible silicone is the ability to manipulate the milk somewhat as you feed by squeezing the bottle, keeping air pressure more constant and presumably decreasing the air your child might take in through the nipple, especially as the bottle runs dry. It also looks to fit more nicely in the hand – Adiri bottles are quite wide, and can be less ergonomic for smaller hands.
Reviewers on Amazon have mentioned that it can be challenging to balance Comotomo bottles neatly on their bases – we can definitely see that in their exaggerated egg shape. But the shape also allows bottles to nest (when disassembled) in storage, which is a big bonus over nearly every other bottle on the market.
You can buy Comotomo bottles on Amazon in two sizes as well as multi-packs. A single bottle will run you a pretty steep $15.99 for 150mL or $16.99 for 250mL. As with other bottles, there are additional nipples (or “bottle teats” as they call them) available for $6.99 per two-pack, with variable flow based on the usual age ranges (0-3 months, 3-6 months, etc.) translating to slow, medium, and fast nursing styles.
Bottom line: Comotomo Natural Feel bottles are a bit expensive, but are also thoughtfully designed and even award-winning. They deliver both style and function, and are a great BPA-free option worth considering.
8/18 GREAT BUY ALERT: Comotomo Natural Feel bottles are featured for sale on design discount site Fab.com at a decent discount – $12-$13 for the bottles, and $5 for nipple packs.
Ruh, roh, family biking fans… We’ve covered Taga Bikes a bunch on GaGaGear, and recently learned that the convertible bike-to-stroller pioneer is not “currently out of stock” (as indicated on their web site) – they’ve hit pause as a business, awaiting new ownership.
From a partner at Taga, in response to our email: “Taga is not out of business. The company is changing owners and the production is currently on hold until the complicated transition is complete. In the meantime we provide support to our existing customers.”
That there is new ownership in the wings is most likely good news for Taga fans – certainly better than the alternative. We’re hoping new management brings their stroller-bike transformer concept out here to Portland Oregon! Portland would absolutely embrace these sort of bikes. Though recent U.S. economic news might mean some belt-tightening around the nation, you’d never know it from the popularity of bakefiets in our town. (Check out our favorite family cycle shop Clever Cycles, which just expanded its space for the third time in four mostly recessionary years!)
GaGaGear thanks The Rumor Mill for the tip, and the fine folks at Taga for the swift explanation. Good luck to all!
This pirate ship deluxe set from KidKraft really is kind of arrr-some and totally puts the plastic stuff to shame. It has 28 different parts and about 35 screws for assembly (took us about an hour, with kids “helping”) but the directions are straightforward, and the pieces build on each other so you kind of get excited about doing it as you go. (Kind of.)
Unlike some playhouses, this Pirate Deluxe kit comes with 4 pirate figures, cannons, a treasure chest, a “gilded” throne and coffin, two sharks, palm trees, a rowboat and other accessories. All pieces are of good quality. The peg-legged Pirate (who our daughter dubbed “Sharkey”) doesn’t stand so well out of the box, but if you bend his upper body forward, you can get him reasonably stable. Characters are scaled so as to fit with other KidKraft sets – we also have a pink princess castle sort of thing, so our kids now like to play Pirates and Princesses.
If you’re not yet a member of higher-end discount aggregator Gilt Groupe, by all means use our referral link so we get credit! KidKraft items are on sale for a limited time starting today 8/3, with the Pirate Set going for $90 (sugg.retail $159.99) and “Aye!” it’s worth every penny. If you miss the sale at Gilt, ToysR’Us carries it regularly online for $129.99.
Last year, we reported on Taga’s very cool and Transformer-like bike-stroller, which continues to fascinate (the company is undergoing a change in management, temporarily taking it off the market – see more here). Today, we learned about a key competitor to Taga in this convertible bike space: Zigo®, with flagship product the Zigo® Leader(TM) Carrier Bicycle System.
The Zigo Leader differs from Taga in the basic mechanical proposition. Taga features a one-piece bike-stroller chassis, where you essentially own one piece of equipment which can be deployed in a bicycle-carrier OR stroller configuration with all the same pieces intact. Leader is more of a snap-on system, which means you may lose spur of the moment flexibility (where to store the bike part if your route calls for spontaneous strolling?) but also gain single bike mode, which could be great for urban lifestyles.
Strolling mode with Taga looks a bit like Bumbleride meets shopping cart… Strolling mode with Leader is more equivalent to pushing your Chariot or Burley when detached from the bike. Overall, Taga’s aesthetic is high end/head turning, making a point of being indoor-appropriate. Leader comes out of a more active sport tradition, and looks most at home attached to the bicycle.
Priced just shy of $1,400, the Zigo Leader would appeal to folks who want options in family bicycle transport but don’t have space for a full-sized bike + traditional carrier (e.g. Chariot or Burley). The wow-cool factor isn’t as high as Taga, but there’s definitely a lot of practical-chic caché.
With Taga unavailable for the time being, Zigo has an opportunity to gain traction with the hip urban family biking crowd. The company also offers a distinct stroller/jogger/bike carrier product, branded the “Mango.” (See excellent notes on Mango from the company in the Comments section of this post.) To compete as a true stand-alone with BOB and other active stroller/joggers like Phil N’Teds, we suggest an aesthetic tweak – less of a trailer feel – it can still say “active” but it needs to look like it belongs on the sidewalk as well as the street.
Anyway – exciting to see some U.S. competition in this space! We’ll be watching…