The 15 Coolest Products From The Country’s Largest Kids’ Gear Expo
From clothes with magnetic buttons to tactical baby carriers, this year's ABC Kids Expo had it all.
Twice a year, the baby industrial complex gathers to unveil the latest and greatest in baby and kids gear. First, at the roaming Juvenile Manufacturing Association (JPMA) Baby Show and then, every October, at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas. At both, hundreds of exhibitors ⏤ from big-name baby brands to husband-wife entrepreneurs trying to invent a better bottle ⏤ showcase thousands of baby products they hope will one day find their way onto baby registries across the country.
We recently spent two days walking through a sea of strollers, car seats, and cribs on the Las Vegas Convention Center floor, taking notes on the coolest new stuff. And there certainly was a whole lot to be excited about. From flatpack cribs and clothes with magnetic fasteners, to portable changing stations and bleacher chairs for babies, here are the 15 products that stood out.
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Noninoni No-Hardware Flatpack Cribs
The Noni is a handsome high-end birchwood crib that can be assembled without tools (like, not even an Allan wrench) in less than two minutes. In fact, it doesn’t come with any hardware at all ⏤ no screws, nuts, bolts, nothing. Instead, the wooden pieces slide together and lock in place. Even better, it packs flat under the bed for easy storage or in the car trunk if you want to take it to grandma’s. It comes in two sizes (full and mini), seven colors, and even converts to a toddler bed.
Tough Ruck Tactical Baby Carriers
Military-styled tactical baby carriers aren’t new, but two things separate Tough Ruck from the pack: First, they’re handmade by an Air Force wife and other military spouses; and second, they’re available in the authentic patterns/materials for each specific branch of the military. In fact, there’s even one for special occasions styled in Marine Corps dress blues. Yes, you heard us correctly.
Magnetic Me Baby Clothing
Because zippers are a pain and nobody’s ever explained why they put snaps on baby clothes, Magnetic Me is an ingenious line of infantware that fastens using magnets sewn into the material. They pop open, they pop closed. No struggle to snap that baby’s onesie up after a late-night diaper change. They’re available for newborns thru 4T and styles include everything from footies and PJs to lightweight dresses and heavy fleece overcoats.
The Veer Cruiser is a foldable “crossover” that marries the safety and steering of a high-end double stroller with the fun of a rugged, all-terrain wagon. Designed to haul kids across sand dunes as it easily as it does through an airport terminal, the aircraft-grade aluminum Veer weighs 32.5 pounds and can hold two kids up to age 5-years-old in dual, folding seats with 3-point harnesses. Or, one kid in the seat and a baby in an attached infant car seat. Or, just one baby when converted to a bassinet. It also folds down for easy packing in the SUV or garage.
Beanko Mobile Baby Changing Station
Smart, smart, smart is the best way to describe the Beanko changing station, which lies flat across a car’s sloped seat and keeps the baby from rolling into the seat back as they get their diaper swapped. Developed by a bank manager from California, the Beanko is made of a durable nylon, attaches to (and folds up against) either front seat, and comes with both easy-to-access storage compartments and a tablet sleeve. The changing pad is also removable and can double as a tummy time mat.
Another example of a parent solving real-world baby problems, the clever Swipen Snap is a simple applicator that fits on any tube of diaper rash cream and lets you apply it using one hand. It was invented (and patented) by a single mom from Los Angeles (in all her free time, of course), and it’s designed to help keep your hands clean and your baby safe, since you never have to let go of them to open the cream. It even has a suction-cup lid so it sticks to the changing station.
Product Of The North’s Westin Diaper Backpack
Fact: Dads rarely like toting diaper bags. But what happens when dad is also a former designer at Nike and Eagle Creek? Answer: Product of the North, a line of dude-friendly diaper bags and accessories. The new Westin is a handsome rolltop backpack in black or navy that includes a magnetic closure, removable changing pad, fully-insulated front pocket, and a roomy laptop compartment.
Pop Yum Bootle
Because nobody wants to mix formula in the middle of the night (and/or in a moving car), PopYum is an inspired baby bottle that stores dry forumla and water separately. When the baby is ready to eat, simply press the button, watch the formula drop in, and shake to mix. It also works as a regular bottle for straight breastmilk too. It’s dishwasher safe, boasts a wide opening so you never need a bottle brush, and includes a funnel. Two sizes (5 oz and 9 oz) will be available when it ships in December.
Cocoon is a ‘smart’ baby monitor that not only lets parents watch live high-def footage of their baby snoozing, but also track their vital signs and breathing using computer vision and artificial intelligence. And it can do both from across the room, without requiring the child to wear any additional gadgets. Not only that, but when your baby becomes a toddler, the camera’s motion sensor will alert you when they’ve climbed out of bed and are making a run for it.
Originally designed for wheelchairs by a former member of the German Paralympics ski team, Wheel Blades XL are mini skis that attach to your stroller’s front wheels so you can push it on snow or ice. They feature dual tracking channels to compress the snow and increase stability, adjust to pretty much any sized stroller wheel between .75 inches to 2.4 inches, and easily pop on or off depending on how often you want to ski your baby down that mountain.
Sleep ‘N Feed All-In-One Pillow & Bed
Billed as a multifunctional pillow that grows with your baby, the Sleep ‘N Feed goes from nursing pillow for newborns to a tummy time mat to travel bed for one-year-olds. All you do is reattach the stain-resistant, temperature-regulating fabric pillows in any one of nine different configurations. Better still, with a fold and a click, it can be worn like backpack and easily taken on the go.
Here’s the big sell with the SwaDo Swaddle: It’s got a new type of patented fastener that uses friction, rather than Velcro-styled hooks and teeth, to adhere. Essentially, the soft micro-fiber fleece material sticks to itself ⏤ and it’s very cool. It also holds snug and makes zero noise when opened and closed, so there’s little chance of accidentally waking up the baby in the middle of the night with that loud rip.
Tush-a-Roo Baby Seat
The Tush-a-Roo is essentially one of those portable bleacher chairs football parents bring to high school games, but for babies. It can handle kids from 6-months to 32-pounds, rocks a three-point harness to keep them from wandering off to the concession stand, and attaches to everything from a shopping cart, to a high chair, to a stadium bleacher.
Deki Crib Rocker
At last year’s show, Spanish design company Deki unveiled a device called the BabyBalanz that converts a stroller into a baby rocker. This year, they upped the ante and unveiled a gadget that does the same thing to cribs. Simply attach to each of the crib’s legs, turn it on, and watch your baby gently rock to sleep. The price is TBD and won’t hit the US market until early next year.
Cybex Sirona M Car Seat
With hot car deaths on the rise in recent years, it was only a matter of time before manufacturers started integrating sensors into their seats that alerted forgetful parents when a child was in the car. Cybex’s Sirona M, the company’s first convertible car seat in the US does just that, using a SensorSafe chest clip that syncs to the parent’s smartphone. It also offers side-impact protection, handy magnetic buckle holders, and 10 recline positions. The Sirona M hits stores in January and will cost $349.