Category: Helpful Services

Designer maternity clothes, hold the sticker shock

If you plan on leaving the house for any point of your 40 week pregnancy, you can’t just get away with nine months of stretch-waist yoga pants and Target maternity tees. Not that I didn’t try, mind you. I needed some clothes I could actually be seen wearing in board rooms and swanky(ish) parties from time to time, but it seemed so crazy to invest in a high 4-figure wardrobe with a shelf life of 6 months. If I were to do it all over, my first retail stop would be InstyleBelly, a mom-run online consignment shop featuring gently...

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Video game rentals for the Wii junkies among us (ahem)

When we finally joined this century and got a Wii, the kids received a pile of games over the holidays from family. And do you suppose that the most expensive games–the ones the kids begged for for months–are the ones that they play the most? Of course not. No problem, I thought. We’ll just rent games before buying. We went to our local store and I was astonished to learn that a single video game rental was $7, and that’s just for a few days. In some cases, that’s only half what it costs to buy it. Craziness. You...

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Organizational help that doesn’t make you feel like a loser for needing it in the first place

I’m always looking for ways to get more organized, but I cannot abide the sort of “helpful” service that makes me feel like I’m a slacker just for being there. The newly relaunched Buttoned Up never skewers me with guilt; this website (from the same makers of all the organizational products we love) features tips and suggestions and articles and even forums where I can find kindred spirits. I especially like the Find Your Guru feature, which matches you with the expert best suited to your organizational style. But for some reason, the quiz didn’t ask me how many...

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Any childbearing folks out there still have some money in the bank? Anyone?

Maybe you’re in the mood to daydream, or maybe you’ve had your near-limitless wealth stuffed in your mattress all this time (in which case: Hi! I’m available for adoption!), but either way, if you want to let your most fanciful kid decor fantasies run wild, head over to Kidtropolis. They don’t just custom-build beautiful kids’ furniture, they design entire kid-friendly spaces. So in the case of this amazing Magic Tree House, that means the treehouse itself houses the bed, but you also get… a tree trunk and painted tree canopy, as well as every piece of furniture and every...

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Complete home makeover: Yours

Once you start a family, your home is in a continual state of flux– I need a nursery. I need to turn the nursery into a kid’s room. Oh shoot, I need to make it a nursery again. And ack, why didn’t anyone tell me that the toys would somehow breed overnight while we sleep and take over the living room? Yourchitect.com is a happy, happy beacon of goodness and as you redecorate, remodel, renovate or simply dream of doing any of the above. Use the decidedly non-pretentious site to find design inspiration, manage your design projects, or do...

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$10 dresses, made in America. Or wherever you are.

There’s a whole lot of kids’ clothes we feature here that must inspire the craftier moms among us to proclaim I could make that myself. Well la-di-da for you– not all of us are so very skilled that we could “make that ourselves” without it looking like something out of a tenth grade Home Ec class. But then Linda Trent comes along and gives us a little cheat: DIY dress kits including the pattern, the pre-cut fabric and the accessories you need to make peasant dresses, cowboy skirts, and versatile tunics. She even includes the thread. Total cost for...

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Yes, they’re know-it-alls, but in a good way.

When I was pregnant everyone was full of free advice, and you know the old saying: You get what you paid for. (I’m not saying it was all bad, but I’m still not speaking to my cousin who told me slathering mayonnaise on my stomach would prevent stretch marks. Thanks Marcy.) Enter Nursery Know-It-All, created by Kimberly Shore Levin, another promising entry in the growing baby concierge business. They’ve got different packages depending on your needs and can set up your nursery, help you track down a great doula, even help first-time expectant parents buy all the crap you...

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Sleep training. Oh, blessed sleep training.

What I remember most about the early days was that the money I spent on batteries for the swing could have easily funded a semester in private college. Because my baby didn’t sleep unless he was in motion. For months. Know what I needed? Someone who knew how to help me help him sleep in his crib. So hooray for child expert and sleep guru Katie Smith of The Independent Child. She’ll conduct in-home sessions in LA county, but will also work with parents anywhere in the world via telephone, as well. This isn’t about CIO versus non CIO;...

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Central organization even shirkers can’t escape

You know that woman who’s always at school functions, the one who walks up while you’re manning the ticket table or dishing the chili, and says, “Oh, I should’ve signed up to help! I must have missed the flier!”  Hopefully her flier is crammed into the bottom of a backpack somewhere and she really does want to help. Hopefully. Either way, those conversations are about to become a thing of the past, because our PTA is going to start using Center’d to coordinate volunteer sign-ups for our activities. Everyone gets an email notification, and everyone can see which slots...

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Things to do with kids when you’re too busy to think argh, what can I do with the kids?

I think of Yojo Mama as that clued-in friend who knows all the hot spots in town. Except instead of tipping you off to a new shoe store, she knows fun places to take an active toddler, which restaurants are kid-friendly and even the nearest diaper changing station when you are in an unfamiliar part of town. This smart, high-tech application lets you type in your city and select a neighborhood to get a list of kid friendly cafes, shops, events, toy stores, parks, museums and more all right on your cell phone or PC. It comes in very...

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Big Tent helps parents hook up online. (Not hook up hook up…you know.)

I’m online all day long: On the computer in my office, on my handheld on the go. If you want me, text or email is the way to reach me, which is why I sometimes simply blink at you with incomprehension when you suggest we do things via this paper mail thing or telephone I’ve heard so much about. That’s why Big Tent is a dream come true for an online junkie like me — I can finally handle all of my PTA interfacing and charitable involvement in one, very nice looking online place. Big Tent is an absolutely...

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The next best thing to bringing your kids to the polls – leaving them with a sitter

I’m all for taking my daughters with me to the poll on election day and introducing them to the cornerstone of our democracy. Besides, in New York, we’ve still got the old skool voting booths, and there’s no way my three-year old would miss out on any kind of button-pressing, lever-pulling opportunity,  civic-minded or not. But for parents who just can’t bring kids out with you on November 4 for whatever reason, you’re in luck. The Mama Vote promotion is an incredible collaboration between Today’s Mama, Sitter City, and the League of Women Voters, to help parents get their...

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Forget the $2000 stroller. Register for homemade meals instead.

About three days after I gave birth to my daughter, my friend Lisa brought over some dinner. I can still remember the exact menu:  Bulgarian Stuffed Peppers, salad and a loaf of crusty bread. In my post-birthing daze, it was the single best gift I received–those peppers rocked my world. I now try my best to return the favor and provide meals for new moms or other people in need, but it’s not always easy to coordinate. MealBaby makes it absolutely simple. It’s basically a free online food registry and calendar and it makes a terrific gift registry option...

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How to talk to your daughter about [her period]

My daughter chuckled nervously as the DVD from the My First Period Kit began with the image of Dr. Chrystal de Freitas facing a group of tweens and their moms. But within minutes we were both riveted. Where else were we going to see a tampon inserted into a balloon? Or hear the questions other young girls have right from their own mouths? The video is funny in parts, but mainly what works is how warm and maternal the doctor is. She’s definitely aware of how uncomfortable the subject can be and handles it with great finesse. It turned...

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Baby gifts to support the boobies

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us, and with it, an influx of pitches, press releases and pleas to feature any number of pink ribbon-adorned cr…um, stuff. We’re all for supporting one of the most fantastic causes out there, but if you’re not just going to send a donation flat out to your favorite charity, you should at least be buying something you really, really like anyway. One idea we’re so glad to have come across: The “Joelle” new baby gift basket from Red Wagon Presents. 15% of the profits are being donated to Light One Little Candle, a...

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When labeling kids is a good thing

We’ve certainly seen our fair share of personalized gifts here at Cool Mom Picks, but we’ve yet to run across a service such as the one offered by Sweetwater Street. Design savvy owner Lisa Burnett will transform one of her modern designs (or one of your very own) into an incredibly unique label that can be affixed on anything from a kid’s shirt to a pillow case. Check out the Little Logos line and you’ll find great baby tees, tote bags that make a cool party bag option, and towels which certainly make the “whose is who’s” routine at...

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Baby Sleep Consultants? Yes. Oh God, Yes Yes Yes.

The dirty little secret of parents everywhere is that their babies don’t sleep. I know because every time I confess to a mom friend that my youngest was up every two hours for bottles until 11 months, I get a similar story in return. What is with you kids anyway? Don’t you know sleep is like the greatest thing ever? Dream Team Baby has been rescuing sleep-deprived NYC-area parents of kids up to 2 with their excellent consultation services. They’ll come into your home and make sure you’ve got an environment that’s most conducive to promoting healthy sleep patterns,...

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Peapod makes shopping easy for parents with allergic kids

I find that reading labels is hard enough when I’m trying to figure out which cereal has less fat, or whether sugar is hidden in yogurt using some sixteen-syllable code name. But when you’ve got a kid with serious allergies, keeping an eye out for certain ingredients is absolutely essential. Peapod by Stop & Shop, which already delights northeastern families with their online grocery shopping and home delivery service, has a most excellent feature called NutrifFilter, as we’ve recently learned. Basically you select a filter to highlights items that are gluten-free or low fat or on Weight Watchers (and...

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A Traveling Parent’s New Very Best Friend in the World: JetSetBabies

Packing for vacation used to be a labor of love, laying out the outfits and the shoes as I anticipated all the fun ahead.  But now that I’m a parent and the airlines limit me to 50 pounds of baggage to boot, packing can be a nightmare. JetSetBabies is my new vacation savior.  This absolutely fabulous service allows you to order baby gear–everything from formula to diapers to first aid kits to beach toys–and have it shipped directly to your destination. When I checked into my hotel, my box o’ goodies was waiting there for me. I didn’t even...

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Cool Working Mom Picks

We’ve loved Mommy Track’d ever since we first reviewed this fantastic online resource for working moms here. And now we’re excited to be collaborating with them on their new Personal Shopper column, featuring CMP co-editor Liz as their Chief Executive Shopper. Whether you work out of the house or just bust your butt with the kids all day, we’d be honored if you scrounged up a few seconds to click over and take a look at our very first pick today. Hint: It helps keep you prettier than you already are. As...

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Making an Uncomfortable Time of the Month a Little More Comfortable

Of course the one month I think ahead and stash tampons and other “lady items” in my purse is the month I get pregnant. But most of the time, I’m a fly by the seat of my panty liner type woman, making me the perfect candidate for the TomKIT. No, it’s not a slightly freakish tabloid couple, but Time Of Month KIT, a handy, super eco-friendly pack to prevent any type of girlie emergency. With the tomKIT, you can flush away your landfill guilt along with these special feminine wipes, and yes, pads. There’s also organic hand sanitizer and...

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Sometimes Playtime is Way More Than Playtime

We’re seeing more and more toymakers and shops reaching out to kids with autism and other developmental challenges or delays and we think it’s pretty darn awesome. Parents of these kids often have their hands full, let alone having to reasearch which playthings will be the most suitable. I’m happy to learn that eBeanstalk has added a whole section of toys for children with developmental delays, all assembled by a group of impressive experts who are also parents themselves. What’s particularly cool though is that the stuff isn’t all lumped together under one heading like "for children with autism,"...

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The Possible End to Empty Baby Book Syndrome

Kidmondo is the baby book 2.0 — a do-it-all destination combining photo storage, blogging, and all of the traditional info you’d put into a conventional baby book. Because let’s face it, as much as you want to chronicle everything your baby does, it doesn’t always happen. My poor second-born has a baby book containing his vital birth statistics and nothing else. Because I’m a terrible mother. And because Kidmondo didn’t exist back then. You control the privacy settings, so you can keep everything private or make specific information available to others. And there are different levels of service too,...

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Avoiding Your Own Version of the Nanny Diaries

Oh, the problems most moms are facing these days: Top tier pre-school interviews, PTA meetings conflicting with opening night at the opera, challenges with the live-in help. Okay, so that’s not actually the lives of most moms unless you’re watching that Housewives of NYC show. But if we were even remotely in that social strata, we’d be on the phone with The Nanny Doctor faster than you can say hedge fund. The doc is actually Dr. Lindsay Heller, a licensed clinical psychologist who works to improve parent-caregiver relationships. And she’s not in NYC, she’s in Beverly Hills. (Surprise.) While...

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Just Add Cake. No Really. I Mean It.

If there’s anything I like about throwing a party (other than the actual partying part) it’s the amassing of all the themed goodies. Apparently my inner Martha comes out and I end up searching high and low for the plates that match the cups that match the invitations. But with two kids and another on the way, inner Martha is on a permanent vacation and very much in need of Just Add Cake. Considering I am one who would probably never purchase a fairy princess party in a box, I have to say I was pretty impressed with this...

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Your Child 2003-2008: An Artistic Retrospective

I seriously underestimated the constant flow of paper coming into our house once my daughter started kindergarten–teacher notes, newsletters, progress reports, to say nothing of her artwork. I know I have to pick and choose among the art projects to display, but how can I possibly part with that watercolor rendering of a blue-footed boobie? Founding artist and fellow mom Zoe Grave of Tada Baby has got a brilliant way to help me keep the art but minimize wall space: A personalized poster featuring my daughter’s favorite artistic creations.  The process is nearly painless. You just fire up the...

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Gifted At Birth: You. And Yeah, Maybe the Kid.

I only wish Gifted at Birth had been around when my daughter was born. A service that delivers newborn essentials then has a premiere NYC doula on call either in person (in the city) or on the phone (everywhere else) to tell you how to use it all? H to the double-hockey-stick, yeah. It can go on from one week up to twelve weeks – but can it go on FOR LIFE? Because that would be great. The Gifted at Birth site is yummy and Flash-y, yet never jams up, which is so helpful to the sleep-deprived. But more...

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Dear Husband, Get In My Head.

One would think that because I run a shopping website, my husband would have no trouble finding me gifts. Every year I tell him to just click on anything in our Baubles and Bags category and he’ll be the world’s greatest husband. But every year, he ignores me and decides to go out on his own. Unfortunately for me (and him) that’s just never a good idea. Well, entrepreneur Cole Kelly had the same problem when it came to his wife Kate. So together, they started GetInHerHead.com, a free service that enables you to enter your birthday, anniversary, and...

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Paging Doctor Mom

My kids have an uncanny sense of medical timing. Exactly two minutes after the pediatrician’s office closes, one (or both) will develop a high fever, raging earache, or troublesome cough. Two minutes after that I’ll be consulting my friend Mr. Google to determine if we need to call the answering service or can wait for a morning appointment.  So I’m thrilled to have found a reputable source of information at MommyDocs.com. Founding doctors Jamie Freishtat and Rachel Schreiber bring a practical perspective to their site — they’re both moms themselves. So they understand that frantic need to help a...

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The Next Best Thing to Annie Liebowitz Popping By the Maternity Ward

Six hundred or so digital photos later and I couldn’t find one that was just right for the announcements. (To say nothing of the pics of me for which I should have demanded professional lighting and Vaseline over the lens.) The baby: Perfect. My photography skills, not so much. Oh my God, where was Bella Baby Photography when I needed them? This is such a brilliant concept – talented freelance photographers spend a little time at the hospital with you getting those first precious hours or days captured the way they should be. The shots are artful, they’re natural,...

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