Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dispatch from the 2014 ABC Kids Expo

Dan & Ellie trying out new
Sakura Bloom linen slings
Well, once again we have journeyed to the temporary epicenter of the Juvenile Products Industry, a million square foot gathering in Las Vegas of over 3,000 baby products manufacturers and distributors.

Even more than past years, the global nature of the baby products marketplace was evident. We saw more products than ever that were developed elsewhere in the world, a trend that speaks both to the continuing globalization of the industry and to a growing consumer class in countries like China.

This year, Ellie trekked with us and got to try out lots of new products. (Yes, we brought a two year old to a trade show...yikes!) We met with many of the wonderful companies who supply our store, including Sakura Bloom, bumGenius, Thirsties, Haba, Tegu, and many more.

Warning: not to scale.
We found lots of great new products, and we'll be posting all of them to our facebook page, instagram, etc. as they all arrive over the next couple of months.

But, as usual, we also found a lot of bad ideas, too. Some were just kinda goofy, others we think are plainly ill-considered.

So, without further ado, here's our update on the activities of the Bad Idea Fairy

(For past years' reports on the bad idea fairy, simply search our blog for the keyword "expo".)

Part 1: The Goofy


The Dozin Buddy: Ok, this is a pool noodle. It attaches to your car's seat so that when your kid falls asleep she'll have something to lean against. The rest of the time I guess she'll feel like she's on a roller coaster. Did I mention this is a pool noodle?

The Saddle Baby: It's a saddle. For your toddler. Because carrying a kid on your shoulders is so difficult, right? Granted, this design does claim to allow mom or dad to do other stuff with their hands while carrying a child, but any decent structured baby carrier will do the same. Now, if the Saddle Baby could somehow prevent your kid from sticking his fingers in your ears, then we might be sold...

The HipNGo: At least Saddle Baby looks comfy. The HipNGo, which seems to combine a fanny pack with a baby carrier, does not. My neck kinda hurts to look at it.

The Binxy Baby Grocery Cart Hammock: Again, a good baby carrier would be easier and much more versatile than this odd invention. The manufacturer also recommends setting a car seat in this fabric pouch, which doesn't look shaky, no not at all...

Seriously, tho, this might be a really great solution for peaches and bananas.


The Slumber Sleeper: Why buy crib sheets and a sleep sack or jammies when you can just zip your baby right in to the sheet? Be careful--take a deep breath and disconnect your crying baby from the sheets before attempting to remove him from the crib or the whole mattress will come with him.

Part 2: Be Afraid!

The Pack 'n Potty: This portable potty seat comes with a plastic shroud that prevents your toddler from ever coming into contact with a germ-ridden public toilet. Instead, you can collect a bunch of those germs on the inside of the shroud and carry them around with you in a handy tote bag.

Seriously, babies and toddlers are on a germ collecting mission. Hopefully with the support of extended breastfeeding, they're building their immune systems one germ at a time. But that idea doesn't really sell any products, so let's get back to fearing germs...
The UVI Cube: The UVI Cube markets itself as a home autoclave that should be used not just on baby bottles, but also on toys, TV remotes, smart phones (of course!), and anything else that a baby might touch (though not hamsters, the website warns).

The UVI Cube goes on to explain that its ultra-violet radiation kills 99.9% of all bacteria. This leaves only 0.1% of surviving UV-resistant pissed-off superbugs to continue the microbial colonization of your home. Only $249. The germ phobia is free.

Then, there was the Security Seat Cushion Alarm: We're not sure what to say about this. We're hoping that an electronic pad that sounds an alarm whenever baby gets up from his stroller or car seat isn't the next must-have product. We can't imagine the level of anxiety that would make this product seem worthwhile.

Unfortunately, the fact that this idea seems ridiculous to us probably speaks more to our privilege as Americans. This was a strong reminder that human trafficking is a very real concern in many places. We certainly hope that this device might someday seem ridiculous everywhere.

Last but not least, we'd like to mention Milk Sense, a device which can electromagnetically measure the amount of breastmilk available in a mother's milk ducts before and after nursing. Paired with a sensitive digital scale (which hooks on to the handle of a car seat...) and tracking software, the Milk Sense is designed to assure women that their babies are getting enough milk. The goal, according to the Milk Sense representative, is to give mothers the confidence to continue breastfeeding.

While a device like this might make sense in a clinical setting (which would require FDA approval), Milk Sense is offering this device as a consumer product. As such, it's just one more gizmo that makes women believe that they cannot successfully breastfeed their babies without technological assistance. Yes, anxiety about whether a baby is getting enough to eat can be very real. But the solution isn't a $200 sensing device. Doulas, lactation consultants, and La Leche League can help immensely with this issue while at the same time giving mothers so much more support than a gizmo ever could. Another example of how we forgo community and embrace technology at our peril.
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