Nothing screams family and early childhood like Las Vegas.Â So I guess it is no surprise that the organizers of the ABC Kids Expo hold their annual trade show in Sin City.Â Every year, manufacturers and retailers from all over gather to oogle the latest in pregnancy and early childhood products of every imaginable variety. The event, sprawling across several acres of floor space at the Las Vegas Convention Center, may seem about as incongruous and upsetting as seeing a two-year-old on a casino floor at two in the morning (which I do every time I go â€“ not that I'm always on the floor at two or anything), but I guess baby needs a new pair of shoes.
We had a DadLabs film crew prowling the floor looking for trends and products to feature on our site (which says a lot about their standards for issuing media badges).Â In the process we were assaulted by vendors hawking a lot of frilly lamps, crib sets, baby slings and those floppy things you stuff in shopping carts and high chairs.Â In other words, not much for a dad to get very excited about.
We did manage to find some baby gear and gizmos we liked.
The Nasal Clear from Bebesounds
Kids get colds.Â Babies in particular, and when they get colds they get goopy and snotty, and they're not particularly good at "managing" their output.Â Most of us have tried using that rubber blue squishy ball thing to clear the baby's nose at one time or another.Â This cool product makes snot removal a breeze.Â A super snot sucker.Â They demo-ed the product with a cup of water.Â I would have been more impressed if they used custard or maple syrup â€“ so it remains to be seen if it can handle the really thick stuff.
(Although the tone of the show and products offered are aimed predominately at women, we also observed a mini-boom in dad entrepreneurs on the scene, and their products caught our eye.Â The next threeÂ products were shown to us by the dad inventors themselves.)
Everybody is trying to build a better sippy cup, and dadpreneur Shandley Phillips may have done just that with his Tilty.Â The design is simple, with an angled insert inside the cup allowing all of the liquid to feed down to the spout without requiring the child to tip his or her head way back.Â It a simple but helpful ergonomic improvement.
The variety, engineering, roadworthiness and price of the basic baby stroller has gone completely nuts.Â More and more families are investing in baby conveyances that are comfortable on the road, on the trail, on the track, up the side of a building,Â on Everest or just about anywhere.Â So now you've got a new kid, an uber-stroller, and a few extra baby pounds (dads, too) so why not solve several problems at once by starting a strolling regimen?Â Use the Strollometer to keep track of time and mileage and even weather conditions.Â Is uses wireless technology, so it attaches easily to almost any a stroller.
For those that don't believe in the five second rule, there is the Pipila UV Pacifier Sterilizer.Â There are lots of solutions out there or sterilizing pacifiers.Â We like this one for the cool and compact design, and theÂ fact that cold UV rays are used to do the dirty work, and the fact that it's battery op.Â (one note: this product is not yet widely available â€“ but should be soon).
BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light (or anything else)
I might as well admit that I think this Swedish outfit is the class of the industry, and I love everything they make, from bibs to potty seats, but this travel crib was the hit of the show for me. Maybe it's because I've hauled anchor-heavy, clanging, human-intellect-defying travel cribs from one end of this country to the other.Â None like this one.Â All ten pounds of it fit neatly into a rectangular suitcase, and setting it up takes all the time and technique of unfolding a picnic blanket.Â Astonish your hosts when you travel with your baby.Â Makes a great party trick.Â Gets the DadLabs seal of approval!
Now, you'll have to excuse me while I liquidate my kids' 529 and head to the craps table.Â Parenthood and Vegas just don't mix.
Clay Nichols, Family Correspondent:
Clayâ€™s column, Dadventure, published twice monthly to Gather Essentials: Family, is a sure-fire guide to raising flawless, perfectly behaved, and always obedient children.Â Yeah, right.
Clay is the co-author of Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts, an award-winning playwright, and the Chief Creative Officer at DadLabs.com, a fatherhood website.