Kid Stuff It May Be A Good Idea, But Does It Work?

Posted: November 12, 1997

Close your eyes and make a wish: If there were one product for children that you could wiggle your nose to make appear, what would it be?

A motion-activated alarm that would remind your child to put on her helmet every time she ventures forth on wheels? An infant pad that vibrates? A timer that barks? A car seat that keeps Boy Wonder strapped securely until he weighs at 65 pounds? An baby bed that attaches to the side of yours so you don't have to worry about rolling over on your newborn?

Such are some of the new kids' items being unveiled this fall and next spring. Several were at the 28th Annual International Juvenile Products Show held recently in Dallas; the Armsreach Bedside Co-Sleeper, Ready Freddie barking timer and Century NextStep Car Seat won awards. We also scouted around for a couple of other new Great Ideas and asked our Roadtesters to try them. Here's their report.

Product: Armsreach Bedside Co-Sleeper, $189

Manufacturer: Baby Trend Inc.

Purpose: Attaches to bed, converts to playpen and changing table.

Roadtester: Joanne Wood, 31, Aldan

Wood, who is nursing 10-day-old Emily Rebecca, was pleased with the Bedside Co-Sleeper and plans on using it for several months. ``I would recommend using this over a crib because babies sleep better when they're nearer Mom. They still need that closeness. It's definitely good for a nursing mother. And it's safer than lifting the baby in and out of a crib when you're tired.''

Other pluses: ``It extends your bed space. It looks pretty. It's not something that's in your face. It's not overwhelming. Yet it's not teensy-weensy. It fits the purpose without taking up a lot of space.'' She said it was easy to install with a snap-strap that stretches across the bed, between the mattress and box spring. It fits into a portable carrying case.

Her one nitpick: ``The Co-Sleeper's rail is even with the bed but the baby mattress is about 3 inches lower than my mattress, which means I can't scoop her over to me. I still have to pick her up. But it's still better than getting up and walking over to the bassinet and picking her up.''

Product: Baby Comfort Pad, $34.95

Manufacturer: Relax

Purpose: Soothe baby.

Roadtester: Dawn Hannah, 28, Philadelphia

``I think it's a good idea. The baby did seem to enjoy it. However, the on/off switch is on the bottom of the pad in the corner. So if the baby is lying on it, you have to lift her up to go underneath to get to the knob to turn it off.''

``Another minus is you have to pass `high' to get to `off,' so the pad vibrates faster before you get it off. You should be able to get to any speed without jolting the baby.''

At 13 pounds, her 2-month-old daughter, Chloe Hannah-Drullard, is almost too big for the mat. Also, she's used to being comforted by being held. ``This pad would be good for someone just coming out of the hospital with a newborn, who hasn't developed a pattern of care with the baby yet,'' said Hannah.

Product:The Original Talking Helmet Alert, about $12

Manufacturer: Product Smart

Purpose: Remind cyclists and rollerbladers to wear helmets.

Roadtester: Darlene Egenolf, 29, Somerton

The Helmet Alert looks like a mini-beeper. It is motion-activated and can be easily attached to bikes or skates. At the slightest movement, a computerized woman's voice says, ``Helmet alert! Wear your helmet!'' An on/off switch lets you shut it off. Egenolf's daughter, Natalie, 9, had trouble keeping it attached to her rollerblades. It kept falling off. ``But you could definitely hear it,'' said Egenolf. ``It keeps saying the message over and over until you shut it off. It's cute. Natalie thought it was neat. It's a good idea because the kids get excited and want to play and forget about putting on their helmets. But I think if they heard a reminder, they would.''

Coming soon: Century NextStep Car Seat, $100, makes the transition for a baby from infant seat to more than 60 pounds. Includes adjustable side support and harness system for younger children; recline and upright seat positions; removable, adjustable headrest pad and three-position adjustable clip to keep the lap/shoulder harness away from the child's neck. Available: Spring.

Ready Freddy, $14.99, by Camp Kazoo, a timer worn like a watch, that can be set for up to 99 minutes, and barks - instead of beeps - when time is up. Available: Winter.

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