Category: Tips + Tricks

The top Cool Mom Picks posts of 2014

As we say goodbye to 2014 and remember to start typing 2015 on all our correspondence, we wanted to take one last look back at our posts. Specifically, the top posts written in 2014 that caught the attention and imagination of our readers–aside from our our very popular 2014 holiday gift guide and Mother’s Day gift guide. Some of these are surprising, some, not so much. Let’s just say you guys sure like to make things, you sure like to eat, and you sure like to party. Three traits we like in our friends!   10. 8 easy donut recipes so...

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10 simple, time and money-saving grocery shopping tips, just in time for the holidays

We’re always looking for ways to save time and money grocery shopping, especially during the holiday season when we’re all feeling stretched thinner than usual in every way. We’re spending more on holiday gifts and family travel, and even on household groceries for all those relatives coming to visit. Some longer than others. (Just kidding, we love you relatives! All of you.) Because every minute and every penny counts for us these days, we’re really happy to be working with our newest sponsor hiku, a very cool new gadget and app combo designed to streamline your grocery shopping list and save you tons of time. Let’s just...

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13 tips for a more sustainable holiday that can save you a ton of money.

These days, there’s no shortage of ways to save money, which is certainly welcome over the holiday season and our growing shopping lists. And it’s not just about coupons, discounts, and deals, which we love, of course. Taking steps to live more sustainably can actually save you money, and not just over the holidays. That’s where our sponsor PUREEnergies comes in. We really admire all they do to save families money and get them to live more sustainably. And their recent trip to the Amazon to learn more about sustainability got us thinking about how we can do the same...

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The best teacher gift ideas from people who know: actual teachers.

We are always on the lookout for the best teacher gift ideas every year, and it may in fact be one of the top gift questions we get from readers every year about this time. (Then again in May.) And hey, I get it; if there are any people on my holiday shopping list that I’m most grateful for, it’s my kids’ teachers. They’re with my kids all day every day, and go above and beyond the job description, from purchasing supplies for the classroom from their own wallets to sending personal emails and notes home to let me know how my kids are doing....

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How to save money shopping: 7 great tips for in-store holiday shopping. (Stores…remember those?)

As much as we love online shopping (and yes, we loooove it), shopping in person is satisfying in its own way. It can even save you money this time of year. In fact, I know first-hand (ahem) how tempting it can be to click and click on all the pretty things and suddenly you’ve spent way more than you ever intended. That’s why we’re happy to be working with our newest sponsor Flipp, a completely free app which is one great way to save money shopping in stores–and save time, too.  In fact, it was a Cool Mom Tech pick when we discovered it earlier this...

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6 of the best YouTube hair tutorials for girls that you can actually do. Even if you’re not Ken Paves.

With three girls in my house, I’ve got an awful lot of hair to brush and style, and with the holidays almost here, I’ve been wanting to change up from the usual hairband. It’s true you’ll find no shortage of YouTube hair tutorials, but after watching hundreds of videos (not even kidding you), I found that most of them were really hard to follow, were way too complicated and advanced, or didn’t offer up styles that were great for little girls. No sexy loose curls for my 10-year old, thank you very much. Plus, I don’t have the time or budget to...

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Join us for a Twitter Social to help you get ready for your baby’s first holiday

A baby’s first holiday has to be one of the best parts of parenting. It might even make up for all those sleepless nights and dirty diaper changes. Maybe. But we also know the holidays can be overwhelming on their own, and adding baby into the mix, especially the first time, can make it all border on stressful. Which it shouldn’t be. But don’t worry. We can help! (Hey, that’s what we’re here for.) In fact, we’re excited to be teaming up with Babies R Us for a fun, probably funny (if you know us) Twitter social this Tuesday to talk everything baby’s first...

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7 essential tips for tummy time to make it easier for babies. And parents.

As moms ourselves, we completely understand the importance of tummy time–we’ve been through it oh, a half-dozen times between all of our kids. We also remember how stressful it was at first, because you’re always hearing how important it is to give your infant tummy time–but no so much about how to do it so that there’s no crying and fussing. (And we’re not just talking about the baby.) One of the basics: Having somewhere safe and clean to put the baby, right? That’s why we’re thrilled to be working with our newest sponsor Sleep Made to Measure, which offers a smart collection...

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Back to school stress-buster: 5 tips to get kids out the door in time for school

It’s back to school time and we would love to go on and on about how structured and peaceful the morning routine is in our homes, what with getting the kids ready, making a healthy breakfast, packing the perfect lunches, signing permission slips days in advance, creating exquisite french braids “just like Elsa,” and walking the dog–maybe twice. You know, just like you do, right? We admit it: Mornings are crazy, and a little help can go a long way. That’s where the kids earn their keep. Having your kids shoulder some of that school morning burden can really...

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12 little surprises under $20 that can make big memories for families

For years, we’ve been preaching that it’s often the little things that make the biggest impact, especially when it comes to those fun treats and creative ideas that help make summer magical for families. Just ask our own kids how much they love it when we set up a spa in the bathroom, or make a Tuesday movie night, just because. Best of all, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. We’re super excited to be partnering with our sponsor Cracker Jack, the original master of little surprises, on their brand new initiative, The Surprise Inside Project, which kicks off today in New...

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5 great tips for eating healthy on the road with kids

With summer officially here and schools pretty much out almost everywhere, many families (like ours) are getting ready for summer travel and trying to figure out how to eat healthy on the road. With a fair share of road and plane trips under our belts (yes, we’ve survived) , we’ve gotten pretty good at the art of feeding our kids healthier foods while traveling. Well, for the most part anyway. It is vacation, after all. Here, we share five of our favorite tips for eating healthier with kids on the road helping us parents manage fewer meltdowns and avoid terrorizing the people in the seats next to us...

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Tips for leaving baby overnight for the first time. Other than “don’t freak out.”

We’re parents too. We sure know that leaving baby overnight for the first time can be a tough–very tough–decision. But if you’ve got family or close friends near by and willing, it can be an opportunity to catch up on sleep (the gift that keeps on giving when you’re a new parent), to spend some much-needed time with your partner, or take advantage of an important business trip. And don’t forget, it also gives some loving family members the chance to bond with the baby too. Of course, it all comes down to if and when you feel comfortable leaving...

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Monster Defense Brave Spray is good news for you, bad news for monsters.

Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? I am, but it’s not from ghosts or even monsters–just a kid in my house who firmly believes in them. Instead of calling Ghostbusters, I’ve discovered this yummy-smelling Monster Defense Brave Spray. It’s a lot less messy than ectoplasm, and probably way less expensive too. The coolest thing about this handy, 4 oz. spray besides that it’s a smart way to put your kids’ very real fears at ease, is that it smells utterly amazing–like French toast. Whether you’re answering a late night call to banish glowing...

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11 smart, simple play date tips to keep things fun for your baby.

We remember when play dates were just called “hey, let’s invite Jennifer over.” But now play dates are an actual Thing, and the very first one with your baby can provoke a little anxiety. Though it doesn’t have to; it’s a fun excuse to get out of the house as a new parent and catch up with old friends or meet new ones. Or, if you’re the entertaining sort, you can host it yourself. Either way, we’ve got a few of our favorite play date tips for making your baby’s first social outing a successful one, though we can’t guarantee...

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7 beyond adorable baby photo ideas for Valentine’s Day

Since you can’t give the gift of sleep for Valentine’s Day, we love the next best thing: An adorable photo of your sweet baby. We’ve scoured the web and rounded-up some of the most creative baby photo ideas ideas for Valentine’s Day, whether it’s for a card to send the relatives, or just a cute photo for the nursery wall. Best part, they’re all super easy; while the professionals provide wonderful inspiration, you can recreate plenty of these yourself. This post is part of our monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor babyGap, with tips to help you celebrate motherhood...

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How to decorate with tea lights: creating ambience, not a shrine

I’m a big fan of tea lights and votive candles around the house, especially in the winter months when the light is gone so early. I’ve started lighting candles at the dinner table with the kids, even to make a mac n’ cheese dinner feel a little more special–and you know? It does. But there’s a fine line between creating ambience and creating a scene out of Carrie. So here are some tips for how to decorate with tea lights that can warm things up when you need it most. And by the way, I totally cop to my...

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Important tips for keeping your baby cozy and warm through her first winter. Other than moving to Hawaii.

This post is part of our monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor, babyGap, celebrating motherhood firsts. And there are lots!   Unless you live in super warm climes, we know that heading outside with your baby during the winter months can be a bit challenging. Like you don’t already have enough baby gear as it is, now you’ve got to add hats and boots and blankets (oh my!) to the mix. But it doesn’t need to be overwhelming, especially when you know what you’ll actually need — and what you don’t. Take it from us, we’ve lived...

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18 little holiday joys with your kids–mostly free. As most little joys are.

As much as we love shopping and big surprises and our seasonal visit to the Nutcracker at BAM and shopping some more, I’m well aware that some of the greatest treats of the season are the little things. So I hope you’ll like this list that I put together as a contributor to the Amex Tumblr: 18 Little Holiday Joys with Your Kids. I thought about the small joys that shouldn’t be overlooked in the craziness of the season, like sharing favorite holiday movies together, knowing every lyric to Partridge in a Pear Tree, or watching a child suspend disbelief...

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7 tips for making baby’s first holiday a special one: A celebration of motherhood firsts

This post is part of our monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor, babyGap, celebrating motherhood firsts. And there are lots! We can’t really think of a bigger deal than baby’s first holiday, which ranks right up there with, well, the birth. But trust us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the gifts and family and merrymaking only to find yourself–or more likely, your wee one–kind of exhausted. Possibly cranky. There’s no crankiness allowed at the holidays, mamas! So here, we’ve put together some of our tips for you to help make your baby’s very first...

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Creative ways to capture baby’s first words: a celebration of motherhood firsts

This post is part of our monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor, babyGap, celebrating motherhood firsts. And there are lots! No milestone may be more exciting than hearing a baby's first word. Whether it's "ba" for ball, "da" for dog, or a perfectly articulated cronut (it could happen) it's a thrill to see kids starting with the basics and building from there. Which is why we love finding wonderful resources for capturing and documenting them.  1. Write it down You think you'll remember your baby's first word forever but those of us parents with more than one can assure you that's not always...

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5 tips for making Halloween safer for kids with peanut and tree nut allergies

With some of our own kids at Cool Mom Picks grappling with peanut and tree nut allergies that range from mild to life-threatening, we really have a heightened awareness of making Halloween fun and safe for all kids. If you don’t have children with allergies yourself, but want to make sure classroom friends and neighborhood kids are in good hands with you on Halloween, here are some helpful tips. (Note: This post has been updated for 2015.) Related: Allergy free Halloween treat recipes and great tips for keeping things safe   1. Read the labels: Even for things you’re not expecting...

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Tips for taking your baby to the zoo: A celebration of motherhood firsts

This post is part of our year long series celebrating our favorite milestones and motherhood firsts on behalf of babyGap and their new Red Wellies Collection. Some of our fondest memories of our own children are taking them to the zoo for the very first time. There’s hardly a child whose eyes don’t light up seeing their favorite animal from picture books in real life for the first time, hearing the sound of the monkeys, or watching the sea lions underwater from behind glass. [above: stuffed elephant via kaleidescope stitches] Here are just a few tips to help make your first...

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6 helpful school lunch resources and inspiration for parents

The tips, ideas and best products for back-to-school have been flowing in from every direction all month long. But soon we’ll be back in the swing of things and the back-to-school chatter will die down, but there’s one thing you can’t do at the beginning of the school season and have it over with: School lunch. This is one back-to-school topic that isn’t just for back-to-school time, which is why we’ve rounded up 5 awesome, helpful resources that will help keep you–and your school lunches–inspired all year long. I can’t talk about school lunch resources that will serve you...

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Tips for getting around the city with baby for the first time: a celebration of motherhood firsts

This post is part of a monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor, babyGap celebrating motherhood firsts. And there are lots! We city mamas know that getting around the city with a baby is a wee bit different than hopping in and out of the SUV all day. If you’e got a trip to a city–New York, Paris, Chicago, you name it–planned with your baby, we hope these tips will help make life easier. So you can spend less time worrying about germs (ha) and more time taking awesome photos. Our cute city outfit pick for boys...

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Tips for taking the first family photos with baby: A celebration of motherhood firsts

This post is part of a monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor, babyGap celebrating motherhood firsts. We hope you enjoy our tips! Great close-up of baby June Blair with her older sister, via Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom. We all remember that first big gathering with a humongo group of relatives to meet the baby for the first time. For some people it’s in the hospital but for others of us, it’s a big party or even a trip, where you can count on dozens of hands begging for turns with the newest members of the...

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A celebration of motherhood firsts: tips for traveling with baby on the first vacation

This post is part of a monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor, babyGap celebrating motherhood firsts. And there are lots! The first time you travel with baby doesn’t have to be horrible at all. (Or…as horrible as you think it will be.) We’ve all been longtime advocates of traveling with your kids early and often. It’s something you’ll never regret, whether you’re flying across country or making daytrips to the cousins’ house. Here are some of our top baby travel tips, from years of experience of traveling with children under 12 months. Ask us if you...

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What is the safest sunscreen for kids and babies? EWG has 20 of them.

Each year we eagerly await the Environmental Working Group’s list of the safest sunscreens for kids (and grownups too) and we’re so glad to see the 2013 list is ready, just in time for the unofficial start of summer. Click over to the list of the safest sunscreens and you’ll find not only more than 180 beach and sport sunscreens–the ones we’re most interested in for our own kids–but SPF moisturizers, lip balms and makeup that all meet their criteria. We’ve culled it down to their top picks all scoring a “1” that are made especially for babies and...

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A celebration of motherhood firsts: 7 smart tips for the first picnic with kids

This post is part of a monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor, babyGap, on our tips for celebrating motherhood firsts. And there are lots! The official start of summer is just around the corner and that means time for playgrounds, parks, and that very first picnic, one of our very favorite rites of passage for new babies. (We’ve been through quite a few of those, so we know.) But before you pack up your entire kitchen in the trunk of the car and cram your basket full of goodies you might not need–or eat– here are...

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A celebration of motherhood firsts: Tips for taking those first baby photos

This post is part of a monthly series with our Baby Shower Gift Guide sponsor, babyGap celebrating motherhood firsts. And there are lots! These days, it’s not like you need a professional portrait photographer to make sure you’ve got those newborn baby photos covered. With 8 million relatives (more or less) visiting in hospital, we’ll guess that one or two of them just might have brought a camera along. But when you’re ready for something a little less blurry, a little more stylized and maybe your own hair is a little more brushed, here are some tips that professional...

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Top tips and picks for travel with kids to help you all arrive safe and sane

One of our readers’ most common questions: what are your best tips for surviving travel with kids? We’re here to oblige! So we’ve rounded up our tried-and-true favorite picks for keeping junior travelers in great spirits. From day trip to 12-hour road trip to the ever-popular “What were we thinking?” international flights, these are the items we’ve found will keep everybody sane and happy this season. {Keep reading for some of the best-ever tips for travel with kids!} We’re thrilled to be partnering with Brita to bring you this post. Their new Brita Bottle for Kids is a huge...

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