Chicago Baby Show: Best of the Best

 

 

Shopping for infants is an art, and I am an artist.

Whether you’re expecting or not, if you love baby gear and the amazing people who work for baby gear companies baby “conventions” are a blast.  They’re a one-stop-shop and an incredibly opportunity to connect face to face with those responsible for the products we pin, repost, and generally pine after on social media.  This weekend, Penny and I swung by Navy Pier and the Chicago Baby Show, and it did not dissapoint.

Not having attended this show while pregnant (really, not having attended ANY baby show while pregnant), I was excited to check it out.  I wanted to give a quick rundown of my favorite booths; most of them brands that I was pleased to check out first-hand.

And now, in no particular order (because how could I choose my favorite?!):

When you go to a mommy gathering, chances are the amazing folks from Babyganics will be there.  And if you’re in Chicago, it’s a sure-fire bet you’ll get to meet Amber (@babyganicsChi).  I’ve probably run into her at three different mama/baby/baby wearing conventions since I had Penny, and she’s wonderful each time.  Always be sure to go stock up on Babyganics coupons, and samples of their fabulous laundry detergent (my favorite!).  This time I was really excited to see and check out their wool laundry balls.  I’ve been looking into an alternative to dryer sheets for a while, and I’ll probably be headed to Target to snatch some up this week.

 

Holy, serendipitous googling, Batman!  When I saw the Greentom logo, I made a beeline across the convention floor.  I have a habit of falling down the rabbit hole of baby gear Instagram, and came across the Greentom IG earlier this week.

Want to keep 74 plastic bottles and 12 lbs out of a landfill? Do you want a stroller you can RECYCLE?  Check out Greentom.

Andrew was awesome showing me how the stroller works and folds up nice and small.  And it’s so light.  And eco-friendly.  AND PRETTY.  Seriously.  I’m pretty much in love with this stroller and wish I had seen it/it was available in the US before I had Penny.  I’m still heavily considering one as an alternative to an umbrella stroller specifically because of the way it folds up.  The available accessories are also killer, and the detachable shopping basket and the matching diaper bag are must-buys.

Jaq Jaq Bird is another brand I follow on social media, but hadn’t encountered “in the wild” just yet.  I’m always looking for new ways to keep P entertained while out and about, and looking to encourage creativity. It can be difficult with toddlers to find products that engage while also being “toddler proof” and as mess free as possible (let’s be honest: as much as I ADORE painting with Penny, I’m not likely to bust out the watercolors in a public space or on an airplane).

Cue my incessant Instagram browsing, and the wonderful coincidence that is Jaq Jaq Bird popping up in my feed.  Among other awesome kid-proof items, JJB sells “chalk books” and “butterstix” (dust free chalk that erases with water or wet wipes).  While at the show I picked up one of the “doodle and go” books because P is still too young to care about coloring pages, but when she’s older you can bet I’ll be purchasing one (or multiples) of their coloring book chalk books.  Not only do they have a dinosaur one (YES!), but they’re working their way through famous artists and already have books featuring the works of Degas, Monet, Van Gogh (My favorite), and Davinci.  I’m so excited to bust this baby out on the flight to Japan in October.

Did you know that Joovy makes more than amazing baby bottles?  I SURE DIDN’T! And everything has such adorable super-fun-to-say names. We have a few Joovy Boob bottles from when P was a teeny squish, and I was really surprised to see a huge range of great products at their booth.   From playyards to strollers to TOYS, Penny really loved exploring (and pushing around) the offerings they had displayed.  Seriously; I thought she was going to try to  push their mini Caboose stroller right out of the convention hall.  …Mommy’s little klepto…  Joovy has so many options for families with multiples, and I definitely recommend checking out their offerings if you’re a member of the “two under two” club, or even the “three under four.”  They have seven different strollers that hold two kiddos, and one that will help you wrangle three at once.

I was definitely most interested in – and surprised by – their bike/outdoor toy options. Joovy makes both a convertible tricycle and a balance bike.  Penny REALLY loved their Bicycoo balance bike, and was pretty obsessed with trying to figure it out.  She’s still a little too short for it just yet, but I forsee a third birthday bike in her future….when we get there.  For the time being, the Tricycoo 4.1 is PERFECT for her.  It converts from a “stroller” style trike with sunshade and five point harness to a fully independent tricycle when your kid is old enough.  Bonus points for the blue Tricycoo being a gorgeous color.    You can even match your trike (or choose a coordinating color) while keeping your kid’s noggin’ safe with the Noodle helmet.

Before having Penny, and while pregnant with her I worked at ENJOY, a wonderful shop here in Chicago, and we sold Little Unicorn swaddles. I was already really familiar with the brand itself before stopping by their booth on Saturday.  I wanted to throw a quick recommendation in this post because if you’re a science nerd, or non-traditional-girl-mom like myself, these swaddles are extra perfect.  Their watercolor florals and fruit designs are already lovely in their own right, but what really gets me jazzed about Little Unicorn is the fact that they sell GORGEOUS DINOSAURS and STELLAR ROCKET SHIP swaddles (…yes, that was a bad pun, and yes I’m owning up to it, but you better believe I’m not editing it out! #sorrynotsorry).  What I didn’t already know is that they also make some top of the line chic diaper bags, and being as bag obsessed as I am (I already have three different diaper bags), I probably DIDN’T need to know that.  But I’m really glad that I do.  Seriously, those Brookside Totes and Marindale Backpacks have me drooling over here, dreaming up the amazing places I could take them along to.

I definitely made sure to stop by and let the gals working know how much I appreciated their science themed prints, and yeah I was a little awkward, and yeah I’m ok with it.   Little Unicorn is definitely a brand on my short list for possible baby number 2 items as well as gifts for folks I love who are expecting.

 

Anyone who hangs out with me for long enough WILL hear the words “Oy Vey” or “Oy Gevalt” leave my mouth at some point.   So when I passed the Oy Vey Baby booth, I had to stop and give them a thumbs up.  Turns out, the moms behind OVB have a really sweet story that brought them together: their kids are getting married to each other.  LOVE IT, right?!

The women behind the brand are really great and were the ones manning the booth (see? Going to parenting conventions is awesome!).  Bonus points for being a local brand as well!   In addition to their super sweet “Bubbalah” (a Yiddish term of endearment, roughly, “sweetie” or “little doll”) sets and their delightfully lighthearted “Mohel Approved” bris onesie, all of their knit items are HAND KNIT in the US.  They even gave P a really cute knit bumblebee finger puppet, so I can attest that the quality is top notch.  Even if the littlest bubbalah in your life is a goyem, they’d look adorable and stay super cozy rocking an Oy Vey Baby gift set.

Guys.  I get ridiculously excited when I discover local companies I really love.  I get extra excited when they make delicious,  easy things to nosh on (sorry, now I’m on a Yiddish kick). RXBAR fits the bill for sure.   They make super yummy snack bars that are also super guilt free.  I’m not kidding; each bar contains egg whites, nuts (almonds and cashews), and dates.  They also have kid sized portion bars and mama sized ones (that have some decadent flavors like their Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel).  Penny was a big fan of their kid’s flavors, and I may or may not be eating a caramel chocolate bar right now (hint: I am).

And last – but only because I went alphabetically – there’s zo*li.  I stopped by the booth because they have TOKIDOKI branded water bottles/thermos.  I stayed at the booth and picked up a catalog because all of their products are super cute, colorful, and – most importantly – useful.    I actually am having a hard time highlighting which of their infant and toddler products are my favorites because even though P is past the age of needing a lot of these there are so many items that, looking back, would have been so wonderful to have this past year.  Their teethers are a great shape, and I know Penny would have loved chewing on them.  Their bowls have ridges to help mash food up. Also, they’ve named their bowls/plates line “nosh.”  So…. you know I dig that.  (Side note: this is probably the post with the most Yiddish I will ever write, and I love it so much.)   The item that most interested me as a toddler mom was their Sumo stacking snack container.  Lots of companies have similar items, but the Sumo was the first I’ve seen recently that is the right size for hauling a variety of toddler snacks.  It would be great to see an additional lid that is one of those “spill proof” sillicon flapped lids that I could attach to whichever pod I happen to be handing Penny, but that’s really not a deal breaker for me.  I’m actually pretty bummed because I fully intended on swinging back around to their booth to pick up a sumo, but Penny had an exhausted induced MELT DOWN around 1:00, so I hightailed it out of there and in my haste totally forgot to head back over.

So.  There it is.  My eight stand-outs from the Chicago Baby Show at Navy Pier.  I’m really glad I stopped by; I thought about not going even as I was walking down the pier towards the convention center.  This event is definitely one to hit for first time parents, expectant moms, and baby/toddler gear aficionados.

See ya next year!

Definitely want to make this super clear: This is NOT a sponsored post!  I have no affiliation with the brands listed, and although I’d love to work with each of them because I love them so much, these are absolutely unprompted recommendations!  Seriously, I loved these folks so much I wanted to make sure I helped spread the good word.