The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval Spring 2019

The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval Spring 2019 - 4aKid

The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval program is an independent testing procedure conducted to judge a variety of products introduced and marketed to the parent/child consumer market.

The testing involves a multi-step process conducted over an eight week period. Staffed by volunteers, the testing facility of The National Parenting Center gives parents, children, and educators the opportunity to examine a variety of submitted products. The testers are encouraged to play with, build, read about, and judge by the reactions of the children, each product’s quality.

Participants fill out questionnaires for each product they test. Evaluated are each product’s level of desirability, sturdiness, interactive stimulation and other ingredients essential in the make-up of a quality product. Test results are based on both statistical averaging and comments received from the parent/testers.

The Seal of Approval program is designed to continue the efforts of The National Parenting Center, which was chartered in 1989 to help create better informed parents as they tackle the challenges and enjoy the many rewards of parenting.

**The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval recognition  does not imply or guarantee the safety of products listed.**

Lullabuddy by Lyric Partners LLC

Lullabuddy by Lyric Partners LLC

This is a high-end sophisticated Bluetooth speaker that comes packed with lullabies and love songs from the exceptionally talented mind and voice of Mae Robertson. No complicated directions or setup, no need to download music or create playlists, and no convoluted or confusing buttons. What sets Lullabuddy apart from other portable speakers is that you usually have to make sure you have service or Wi-Fi to use them, with the Lullabuddy, you just turn it on, without any connection to your phone, and play soothing lullabys straight from the little powerhouse speaker. The speaker can be used throughout the baby stage thanks to all the great lullabies loaded on it, after that stage, you can stream anything you want through it so it will provide years of use.

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LinkaBLOX by Popular Playthings

LinkaBLOX by Popular PlaythingsLinkaBLOX comes packaged in a colorful, appealing box that doubles as a great, sturdy storage container. The instructions offer quite a few ideas for building different objects. There is a satisfying click when the blocks connect, and testers noted that the structures were far sturdier than typical interlocking block creations. Also, the size and shape of the blocks are considerably more manageable for little hands to manipulate.

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3UP 3DOWN by Ok2Win

3UP 3DOWN by Ok2Win

The game comes in a convenient small box, making it very suitable for travel. There are two decks of cards produced with a durable coating that helps make shuffling and gameplay fast and easy. For people familiar with Uno there will be some familiar themes, but there are new, and clever twists that make it stand alone as a strong game worthy of multiple rounds and insertion into your family game night rotation.

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Sondergut Roll-up Backgammon by Pitkin Stearns International, Inc.

Sondergut Roll-up Backgammon by Pitkin Stearns International, Inc.It is rare to find a family that isnt constantly on the move, whether its around town, on vacations, getaways, etc. Finding products that easily help parents bring entertainment along for the gang isnt always easy, but when they find one, its like gold. So lets discuss this sterling backgammon set. Made of suede with leather appliqué it is very attractive.  When you are done playing, the game pieces, including the dice, all fit into a zipped compartment that is part of the rolled-up game board, which is about the size of a travel umbrella and is exceptionally lightweight. When unrolled, the game board is full-sized. Easy to travel with, fun to play and tester after testers called it one of the nicest travel sets they had ever seen.

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Captain Marvel: Secret Skulls by USAopoly

Captain Marvel: Secret Skulls by USAopolyUSAopoly has a penchant for having their finger on the pulse of whats hot and trendy, and this new game release is no exception. A Marvel-themed card game is going to resonate with anyone who has a pulse these days so witnessing how well it tested with our parent and child reviewers was really no surprise. The game is easy to play thanks to the directions which are clear and concise. This is best described as a light-hearted hidden-identity game. Ideal for the family or group of friends since it is for 4 to 7 players.

The Dream Pillow by The Dream Pillow

The Dream Pillow by The Dream PillowThe Dream Pillow is a combination pillow AND craft kit that is intended to develop a peaceful, positive bedtime ritual that in turn results in restful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. his is done by having your child (and you depending on their age) write down their dream or happy place and stick it in the pillow so they have positive thoughts before they go to sleep which will then translate into sweet dreams. This is a great idea if you have a child who is struggling with bad dreams or nightmares. The concept is the brainchild of 7-year-old Harper Miller who came up with the idea to help her baby brother have happy dreams. The set includes a pillow, a storybook and a cloud-shaped pad of paper.

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Helio Night Light Projection System by Helio Productions, Inc.

Helio Night Light Projection System by Helio Productions, Inc.Helio offers a cool concept for nighttime illumination, education, and entertainment for young minds. Depending on your childs age and interests, it might be a perfect addition to your childs room. When turned on and placed in the center of your childs darkened room you can insert one of the five included discs and light up the ceiling with topics ranging from underwater animals, to the solar system, the speed and sleep cycles of animals, and a tropical theme.

Lipa Land by Lipa Learning

Lipa Land by Lipa LearningLipa Land is a remarkable educational app for children aged 3 to 6, and a godsend for parents. We all know by now that too much screen time is not healthy for children, but they are a fact of life. If you are a parent that limits but does allow their children screen time, you need to check out Lipa Land. Through their interactive games, stories and activities your child will not even realize they are learning and expanding their knowledge and skills in a wide variety of areas and concepts as they relate to their bodies, minds and the world around them.

Drop Dots by Kess

Drop Dots by KessWhile there are many textured balls on the market Drop Dots impressed our testers as being unique. They attributed the special appeal of Drop Dots to the spiky look of the balls. You might think that would be dangerous or uncomfortable to throw or catch, it is quite the opposite. The rubber that creates the spikes is actually soft, so there is no issue of the texture hurting the hand when catching or throwing. Another significant difference between the Drop Dots and other textured balls is the weight and hardness. Most textured balls geared toward younger children are soft and light – the texture here is still intended to help children still developing basic hand/eye coordination and also to keep little ones from getting hurt.

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Blow Up Blasters by Swimways Corporation

Blow Up Blasters by Swimways CorporationThis is not your ordinary water gun. Blow Up Blasters are designed to be used while you are already wet and in the pool, lake, jacuzzi, etc. The body of the blaster is inflatable while the handle is made of plastic. To shoot it you have to keep the handle down in the water. It takes a little getting used to (longer for parents than kids of course), but once everyone was on board, the fun really began. Something to keep in mind, since these are inflatable, you will need to store the Blasters in a place where they will not get punctured or melt.

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Little Tikes Fun Zone Battle Splash Water Table by MGA Entertainment

Little Tikes Fun Zone Battle Splash Water Table by MGA EntertainmentMost water tables usually consist of a table that you fill up with water and then use cups and other things to move the water around and to play. This water table is far more “hands on” and active. The fun really begins with the water sprayers which allow children to spray themselves, their parents or anyone within range. You can also turn the water table into a game, by using the sprayer to spray directly into a hole to make the ball inside a tube rise up, allowing your child to practice dexterity and other skills. The child has to focus and spray directly into one spot which builds some serious hand-eye coordination.

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Light Up Potty 3-in-1 Potty System by The First Years

Light Up Potty 3-in-1 Potty System by The First YearsThe idea certainly caught the attention of potty training kids who were fascinated and drawn to the motion-activated LED light that comes on when they go near it. Parents told us how they would stop and take notice which in turn led to a conversation about going potty, which would then lead to actually sitting on the potty. The system is easy to put together and understand. Cleaning after use was a snap. This potty system doubles as a sturdy stepping stool. you are ready, you can take apart the potty ring and transition to the regular toilet.

WutsupBaby Organic Original Quinoa Cereal by Nineteen82 USA, Inc.

WutsupBaby Organic Original Quinoa Cereal by Nineteen82 USA, Inc.WutsupBaby Organic Quinoa Cereal is a quality meal option for your little ones. Organic quinoa sounds trendy and perhaps it is, but that doesnt mean its not a great choice when deciding what to feed your baby. The packaging is simple, easy to read, lists all the vital nutrients found in the cereal and provides directions for the variety of ways you can prepare the cereal for your baby. Its really quite easy, all you have to do is add water or any other juice or fruit, and its ready to eat. The texture is very nice and allows you to customize the thickness depending on how much liquid you add. The base of quinoa helps introduce new flavors to young pallets. It can also be served at any temperature, providing even more options.

S.02 Performance Carrier by Mission Critical

S.02 Performance Carrier by Mission Critical

This is a baby carrier that was clearly made by dads for dads. Using a black and charcoal gray color palette, this isnt going to pair with a flowery diaper bag anytime soon. Dads appreciated the nod to their fashion sense when they step out with a baby in tow. This premium carrier has a higher than normal price tag, but the quality is evident right from the start. From the materials to the stitching and the straps, this is clearly a top shelf item.

Inglesina Aptica stroller + bassinet/stand by Inglesina USA, Inc.

Inglesina Aptica stroller + bassinet/stand by Inglesina USA, Inc.Given the exceptional quality and durability, you can take solace in knowing that this could very well be the only stroller you ever buy. The Aptica Stroller is exceptionally solid and made with large shock-absorbing wheels that smooth out even the roughest roads, uneven sidewalks, cobblestones, you get the idea. Next up, the big storage basket underneath. The seat reclines fully so that your babys back can lay flat and the fabric is soft and inviting. The handle is height-adjustable so no matter how tall or tiny the stroller pusher is, theres a setting for you. Finally when folded the stroller stays upright without the handle touching the ground.

PAW Patrol Swim Trainer Life Jackets by Swimways Corporation

PAW Patrol Swim Trainer Life Jackets by Swimways CorporationThis life jacket is also a great purchase for parents of non-swimmers. The PAW Patrol design is cute, appealing and gender neutral. Surely some children may not like wearing life jackets into a pool, so having a popular character design on it certainly helps parents make the case. Additionally, the life jacket comes with a pamphlet of information, safety tips, and floating instruction.

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WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat by WAYB

WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat by The WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat is incredibly lightweight (just 8 lbs.!), but you know right away that its structurally sound. The material is breathable, so children wont get sweaty like they do in so many other car seats. Another huge plus is that the fabric is machine washable! It comes in a lightweight carrying bag you can carry like a backpack.

HearMuffs Sounds by Lucid Audio

HearMuffs Sounds by Lucid AudioLucid Audios HearMuffs Sounds offers active noise cancellation similar to what many people are wearing on planes these days. The high-quality ear protection these provide is impressive, plus they give the option for playing soothing sounds to counteract further the noises found just about everywhere. The Sounds mode has four settings – lullaby, white noise, creek and heartbeat, which is great for newborns or infants. The on/off switch and volume control dials are easy to use. It lights up green when powered on, this is a helpful battery saving feature for parents.

PAW Patrol Learning Watches by VTech

PAW Patrol Learning Watches by VTechVTechs Paw Patrol Learning watch is a fun and creative way to get young kids interested in learning about time. Made with a soft rubber exterior, the watch is comfortable and doesnt pinch little wrists. Its also easy for little fingers to get the watch on and off themselves. Hearing the watch speaking fun lines and sayings help your little one feel like they are really in on the action with the Paw Patrol gang.

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Yookidoo Jet Duck family create a Pirate/Mermaid/Firefighter by Yookidoo Domestic Marketing Services, LLC

Yookidoo Jet Duck family create a Pirate/Mermaid/Firefighter by Yookidoo Domestic Marketing Services, LLCThis toy is like the classic Mr. Potato head, but for the bathtub. The duck base is well made and sturdy and parents were happy to see that the same level of care and quality went into the different add-on expression pieces. There are just enough of these pieces to make it fun, but not so many that its overwhelming. You can change everything from the ducks hat to eyes to bathing suit with the addition of a few plastic pieces. Aside from creating and changing the look of the character, the other standout feature of the Yookidoo Jet duck is the jet part. The duck sucks up water, creating a jet that slowly propels it around the tub. To get that to work, youll need four AAA batteries (not included). This bath toy comes with a holder for the pieces which suctions to the bathtub and has slits to let water drain out.

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Disney Minnie: My Friend Minnie! by Phoenix International Publications

Disney Minnie: My Friend Minnie! by Phoenix International PublicationsThe Disney Minnie: My Friend Minnie! books are a fabulously packaged collection of durable cardboard books. The 12 books included vary in topic from colors to numbers to manners and mindfulness making them not only fun to read but educational as well. As a bonus, the packaging doubles as a little carrying case with smooth handle perfect for your child to tote around. Parents can bring them just about anywhere; in a purse, a childs car seat for driving entertainment and even in their tiny backpacks!

Cubelets Discovery Set by Modular Robotics

Cubelets Discovery Set by Modular RoboticsThis educational starter kit contains everything your child needs to take the first exciting steps towards learning the basics of robotics while, at the same time, managing to not dampen that enthusiasm by being overly complicated. It comes with five cubes and a Bluetooth “hat” which easily connect together to create unlimited combinations. Parents told us how amazed they were watching their children quickly grasp the basic concept and start combining cubes from each category (Sense, Think and Act), and then manipulate the pieces through the synced app. One of the best features are the two “brick” connectors which are compatible with Legos. Kids can use their imagination to create literally anything they want with their Legos and then couple it with their robot to make it come to life.

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Butterfly Counting Pal by LeapFrog

Butterfly Counting Pal by LeapFrogThe Butterfly Counting Pal is a brightly colored toy for your childs crib. Its blinking lights, sounds and music are great for interaction with a baby up to a year old. The musical selection is nice, diverse and easy to cycle through. The light up feature is the real attention grabber here, holding babys focus and eliciting coos and giggles. There is additional versatility including being able to attach it to a baby car seat carrier to serve as a nice distraction for a very young baby on a long car rides.

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Yookidoos Sensory Bath Mobile by Yookidoo Domestic Marketing Services, LLC

Yookidoos Sensory Bath Mobile by Yookidoo Domestic Marketing Services, LLCThe Yookidoos Sensory Bath Mobile is unique, entertaining and durable and, according to our testers, a must have for babies and young toddlers. Having a way to spray water at any age is a good time, and Yookidoos Sensory Bath Mobile gives you just that. Its also a great sensory way for babies to experience water play gently! The aforementioned spraying is more than just a fun feature, it is practical as well as its an easy way to rinse soap off.

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Razor E-Punk by Razor USA

Razor E-Punk by Razor USAThe E-Punk bike is a nimble, quick and fun electric mini bike made by the ride-on experts at Razor.

Fold & Go Rally Racer by The Simplay3 Company

Fold & Go Rally Racer by The Simplay3 CompanyKids and adults alike will enjoy the Fold & Go Rally Car. This is a fun alternative to a stroller and children will like having this new outdoor time option. Kids really loved using the steering wheel to “drive” around outside. The ride is relatively smooth, and its quite easy to push. The handle is tall enough for even a six-foot-tall person to push without having to hunch over. One of the best features of this rally car is that it has full back support, including a headrest for the child.

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DreamWorks Dragons Dawn of New Riders by Outright Games

DreamWorks Dragons Dawn of New Riders by Outright GamesDragons Dawn of New Riders is a great companion game to the popular movie “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Beginning with the packaging which is vibrant, colorful and intriguing. It is a clue of whats to come once your child fires the game up on any number of video game platforms. The puzzles require that kids really put thought into finding solutions. The instructions are clear and show you exactly how to both gain bonuses and avoid traps.

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