9 Hand-Me-Downs That Will Get You Kicked Out of Your Kid’s Playgroup

Really people?

OK, y’all, let’s face it, without hand-me-downs, that whole “kids cost a gazillion dollars to raise to age 18” thing might actually scare more people out of making babies. Hand-me-downs are the … wait, what is it you are allowed to say after you have kids? The shiznit? The jam in my jelly roll?

Anyhoo, I love me some hand-me-downs. Especially when I’m snooping through perusing a friend’s old Facebook photos and I run across a picture of her daughter wearing something that — two kids later — now “belongs” to my daughter.

But can we talk for just a second here about the absolutely craptastic things people will give you in the name of handing down? The stuff that makes you wonder if you’re the only parents out there who doesn’t look to her friends with younger kids as the new, improved, and significantly cheaper version of the landfill?

With a 7-year-old in my house and some handed-down-to folks with whom I retain some pretty decent friendships, I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on what to do and what not to do. I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth because I have some wonderful hand-me-downers sending stuff my way. But I’ve been on both sides, folks, and I know the dangers.

So here it is.

My list of things that are NEVER to be handed down unless you want to be kicked out of the playgroup:

1. Anything in which your kid did the infamous shit up the back (sorry, shiznit just doesn’t work here, does it?). Yes, we know exactly what that stain is and …. ewwww!

2. Anything featuring your kid’s name on the front. The name on the inside I get. My daughter is even rather lucky … one girl whose clothes end up in our house has my kid’s middle name as a first name! But it gets frustrating awfully fast for little Alex to be toddling around the playground while everyone refers to him as Bob.

3. Anything moldy. Hey, it happens. Your kid spits up, you haul off that shirt, throw it in the wash basket and then you get busy. You keep doing laundry but never quite get to the bottom of the pile. In the meantime that formerly adorable shirt is growing things. Just throw it out, m’kay?

4. Underwear. Really, people? Really?

5. Shoes. This one is kind of personal. I know there are people who are less prissy than me, so maybe this is not a never so much as an “ask first.” If your friends envision foot fungus when they see a pair of hand-me-down sneaks, you’re better off sticking these in the trash. Or if you REALLY think they’re in such great condition (which, frankly,  most kids’ shoes aren’t), try your local goodwill.

6. Anything with major holes. I say major because a pair of jeans with a hole in the knee makes for perfectly good play clothes, and I am happy to accept them and have handed them down. But you walk a fine line here. Don’t make people feel like you just couldn’t be bothered to weed out the rags.

7. Used diapers. Gross!!

8. Anything cause related. You know, it’s great that your kid was a “weepublican,” but not everyone is down with politically branding their baby.

9. Offensive shirts. That onesie that said “Daddy just wanted a backrub” isn’t funny. It’s insulting.

Come on, add yours? What has been handed down to you that drives you crazy? On the flip side, what are your absolute favorite hand-me-downs?

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Have a Good Night On Us

If you’re a night owl, you’re bound to find your child is an early bird. It’s murphy’s law.

What if it didn’t have to be that way? The Good Nite Lite has been earning attention in the parenting world as a mini miracle worker, aimed at getting kids off to bed earlier and keeping them in their rooms later.

Does it work? Yes . . . but I will warn you that if you have a “scared of the dark kid,” the efficacy of the set, sleep, learn system is cut in half.

The round face of the light turns blue at a pre-set time (I warn you, it is difficult to set, READ THE DIRECTIONS) looking fairly similar to the moon of their favorite kiddie books to let them know it’s time for bed. The light will dim as the night goes on to diminish the potential sleep disturbance.

By morning, it’s ready to light up not only the center face but the surrounding “rays” in yellow to let the child know it’s time to get up. This is likely the most useful part for parents – until the “sun” turns yellow, they can direct their kids to stay in bed. Some parents have taken to drawing on their kids’ clocks – letting them know they should stay in bed until the minute and hour hands hit the big drawing, but this does the job nicely. What’s more, it works as a night light as kids are going off to bed, and the dimmer switch (which goes into effect during the day too) reduces electricity consumption.

Think your tot could use the help? Get the Good Nite Lite here.

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Green Away the Diaper Smell

The Classy Kid giveaway ended yesterday, and one of the products I was surprised no one picked up on was their set of Diaper Sacks.

I know, they’re not glamorous, but they caught my eye when I first started checking out the Classy Kid for one reason: I wanted to know how you make a plastic bag part of a “clean and green” line.

The answer? By making it environmentally degradable plastic. The bags are like most you’d find stowed in any well-stocked diaper bag, with that one exception. They sport tie-close handles to make sure diaper mess and smell stay inside, and they’re scented to help add a little stench control so your entire pile of fresh onesies in said bag don’t end up with an eau de poo poo.

But they are also truly disposable, made of a plastic that breaks down in months rather than decades. Packed in sets of 75, it’s just $2.95 at Amazon for a resealable zip bag full of the Classy Kid Diaper Sacks.

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Save a Little for Baby and Me

The gifts for baby start looking the same after awhile – clothes. Clothes. More clothes. A stuffed animal or two.

The first Christmas after a baby is born is usually more about Mom and Dad anyway. Even a baby born in January can just barely open the gifts, and the more sensible the present, the more their parents will smile.

The Munny Journey is both sensible and a total departure from the sameness of most of those baby gifts. A book not unlike the standard baby book, it’s a journal of their money, from the first savings bond purchase to the first fistful of coins plunked in their little piggy bank.

Financial literacy may not be fun, but it’s something baby will one day need – especially in this economy! And for parents navigating the exhausting (and expensive) road of child rearing, the Munny Journey helps them get a jump start on making a life for a baby who will one day need money for that first car, for college, for a wedding, a down payment on a house.

With place for pictures, letters from Mom and Dad, even a special pocket for their state quarter, the Munny Journey is a whole new kind of baby book, and one that will tell the story not just of their early days but of their future.

Check Out the Latest Over at Strollerderby:

Santa Claus Can Call Them For You

Five Easiest – and Cheesiest – Christmas Gifts to Make With the Kids

Bringing Sexy Back: Involved Dads

Teacher Tells Kids: Santa’s Not Real

Your Mother-in-Law Really Is Bad For Your Health

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Ever Met a Happy Heiny?

Remember the utter fear every time the baby rolled closer to the pin? The cloth diaper that just wouldn’t fit tight, no matter how much you yanked and pulled?

OK, me neither. My parents were disposable diaper usin’ fools, and I was too. But I do have a cousin who sewed her own cloth diapers. God bless you Ardis. I guess I’m from the shallow end of the gene pool.

But for those of you with much firmer convictions than me (yeah, I’m a sell-out, I admit it), I had to share. Happy Heinys are one-size fits most cloth diapers that are as cute as their name. Yeah, yeah, they sold me with their monkey print, but there’s no monkey business going on here.

With a kid who is potty trained (thank goodness), I had to test these out the old-fashioned way – playing in the water. And my willing accomplice (who goes by the nickname water monkey, but that’s a whole other story) soaked the daylights out of these. No leaking, no nothing.

Then the Happy Heinys size test. We tried them on EVERY stuffed animal, I kid you not. One size fits all? Well, all except the mega Melissa and Doug giraffe, but I can sit on that thing without it giving way. That’s one massive kids toy.

So make ’em happy, and maybe they’ll reward you with a few fewer blowouts. Hey, it’s worth a try, don’t you think?

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For Your Little Night Owl

There is one thing that got me through all those sleepless nights after my daughter was born. Alcohol. Oh, sorry. I wasn’t supposed to share that. No, alas, I was a good mommy and refrained.

Nightgowns. I don’t care if you’re having a boy. I don’t care if you don’t have kids (you’re going to a baby shower someday). You need to invest. Because in the middle of the night, when you haven’t slept in three weeks and you have to do yet another diaper change, no one . . . NO ONE . . . can manage those little snaps and buttons on those cutesy wootsy sleepers. NO one.

So don’t waste your money. Seriously. For the 0 to 3 month range, nightgowns were about the only thing my daughter wore – a few onesies during the day and one gorgeous dress that I got a whole day out of (Parent secret here: for the most part, 0 to 3 month clothes are a rip off. You buy them for us, our kids never wear them)

But Baby Yap Yap is the one place I’ve got bookmarked for every baby shower from here on out. Devoted solely to nightgowns for the 0 to 3 month set, bodysuits and tees for the kids up to 24 months, Baby Yap Yap can keep them clothed for the first few years.

Reasonably priced and ultra soft (100 percent cotton, of course), the Baby Yap Yap Night Owl gown is one of those 0 to 3 month must haves you know they’ll actually use. The line drawings are simple, clean and classic – and come in other critters too. Silly Goose, Copycat and Hungry Hippo get the Inside Out stamp of approval as well.

So buy ’em up, and if they complain – tell them to shut their yap.

Walking Wings – That You Can Win

Every time I watch someone leaning over to help their new walker toddle, my back aches a little for them. You spend a LOT of time bent over in those days.

Which is why I jumped at the chance to give away a bit of relief for Inside Out readers, courtesy of the folks at Upspring Baby.

Their Walking Wings give kids who are just about to walk a little help from above, and give Mom and Dad the chance to offer that help without getting down low. A harness wraps around baby’s chest, and Mom and Dad hold tight to long loops. It gives the kids freedom (and free hands to carry their favorite toys) to learn to walk without someone tugging on their arms. The Walking Wings serve as training wheels for them – and training relief for us. And they come in pink or blue!

Want one for your baby? How about a baby shower (you know you’ll be the ONLY one giving this goodie)? Upspring Baby is offering one set of Wings – in the color of your choice – to one lucky Inside Out reader. Open to U.S. and Canada residents, the contest will run through next Wednesday, October 8. To get in on the prize action, leave a comment with what you think of Upspring’s other products below. For extra entries, as always, grab my badge and/or blog about the contest and leave the link in comments. To be notified right away, subscribe! Otherwise, make sure you check back to see who won and sign up for our other giveaways!

Yookidoo – and you can too

Somehow the fact that my daughter is 3 hasn’t rescued me from the asiel of toys for younger kids. No, we’re not having anymore (that’s how rumors get started people).

I’m just fulfilling a request for some more baby friendly finds on Inside Out. Sort of. The Yookidoo Discovery Playhouse is disappearing from shelves all over the place – the first store I planned to link to has none left, and even the link I’m providing states “inventory low.” No wonder.

Designed for 12 months and up, this is a play tent or a shape sorter or a mirror or . . . It’s the sort of toy that keeps them enthralled – and not just for a few days. Because when they’re old enough to tire of flipping flappers and sticking little balls into tubes, they still need a place to hide out that’s just their size. I’ve never been big on “baby age” toys because they use them for a day or two and suddenly they’re bored AND too old. Even I had fun with the Discovery Playhouse – maybe it’s because I’m a big kid or maybe because it folds up and hides away?

I nailed it!

You know that old saying, you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose? OK, maybe that’s just in my family (thanks Dad), but the ick quotient stands. I don’t have those kinds of friends.

The boundaries gets blurred when you give birth. All of a sudden you’re attacking a little nose with reckless abandon and big blue bulb syringe. Not to mention the intimacies of a diaper change – nothing in life can ever prepare you for pulling a long blonde hair from a little girl’s behind. I tell her not to chew on it, but hey, did you listen to everything your mother said?

There is one line I’ve drawn in the sand. Despite all advice to the contrary, I use clippers on my daughter’s nails. Terrifying though it may be, I find it infinitely more appropriate than chomping on her itty bitty digits with my giant teeth. But after drawing blood once or twice when a hand went flailing (never the toes – one mom to another, the secret is to attack them while they’re eating!), I’ve been on the hunt for the best nail clippers for little nails.

Would you believe the best I’ve found were also one of the cheapest? Woohoo! Even bigger surprise, they come from a company I always linked to toys. Playskool has moved out of the toy aisle and into the pharmacy. The Hasbro-owned company has moved into CVS with its Ages and Stages line, and a host of must haves that I’ll be stocking up on for future baby showers (although I can’t find those clippers online!). There are even a few I’m still buying for my own family – like the Cottony Cloths, softer than the standard wipes and moist enough to tackle a dirty hiney or a dirty face when you’re on the road. Or the Wash and Toss cups, a good replacement for the sippy for kids who make use of the standard cup but still haven’t learned to keep everything upright in the car. Maybe not the find of the century, but Playskool has taken the “cool” into baby care with reasonable prices and some innovations on all the old standbys. For an everyday mama, that counts.

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