Shred Sled (Skyking Worldwide)
Okay, this is one of the funnest (as my kids would say) things I’ve tried in a long while. It’s part skateboard, part snow board, part inline skates. It takes a little while to find your balance and master the squirming motion needed to make it move, but it’s well worth the time and the bruises. Set a good example for the kids and make sure you’re wearing a helmet and every other kind of protective gear you can think of. Guaranteed to up your “cool daddy” scores.
Jiffy the Giraffe (Fair Indigo)
This incredibly soft animal is made with eco-friendly dyes and organic cotton grown in Peru. Jiffy the Giraffe stands 11” tall, as all the friends do. For Dads hunting for eco-friendly toys, all of the Joobles are made with cotton grown without the use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or other chemicals. Eliminating these chemicals is not only better for baby, it’s good for the planet too.
Besides being fun, playing with blocks is a great brain builder. If you give your kids a chance to get near your box of CitiBlocs, they’ll benefit too, learning reasoning, problem solving, cause and effect, engineering, and improvising. Besides being educational, CitiBlocs are safe, green, and infinitely adaptable. Oh, and just so you know, the snake to the left requires 200 blocks.
Stackers Noah’s Ark (Tier Toys)
A fun, educational, and interactive toy you’ll spend hours playing with your kids. A total of 44 detailed figures, including Noah and his wife, are packed in their own spot among the 12 layers that make up this very cool ark. A free download of the story of Noah’s Ark allows children to relive the Biblical tale, plus enjoy six fun games and educational activities. Ages 3 and up can play with it safely. Ages 6 or 7 should be able to assemble it successfully on their own.
Pirates’ Blast (HabaUSA)
Dad will enjoy playing this game of strategy and chance, as a stormy wind (generated by a custom ear bulb) buffets the vessel of the black pirate towards a treasure island. Players alternate between trying to cross the ocean and trying to shoot the other player out of the water with a cannon. For ages 5 and up.
Nutbrown Hare handpuppet (Kids Preferred)
If you and your children are fans of Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You (and what dad isn’t), you’ll love the Nutbrown Hare handpuppet. With his poseable ears, this 16-inch bunny can tell everyone how much he loves his dad by stretching his arms as far as can be.
Tracksters cars (10Vox Entertainment)
Tracksters allows kids (okay, you too) to bring their love of cars and racing to life both on- and offline. Each die-cast miniature car comes with a unique code that allows the child to access the free Tracksters 3-D online racing game. Online, players can trick out their cars in their custom styled garage, race on 10 different tracks against other players from around the world, or play against the computer. TrackPack trading cards, sold separately, also come with unique codes that unlock exclusive performance parts for the virtual vehicles—some parts are rarer than others! Tracksters allows dads to spend quality time with their children all year round, encouraging some friendly competition, and is especially helpful for working dads who travel often. Ages 8 and up.
Rosetta Stone (Rosetta Stone, Inc.)
Let me start by saying that teaching a child a second language—even if you’re learning at the same time—is a wonderful gift. And Rosetta Stone has been proven to be among the fastest and most effective methods. I’m fluent in Russian and have been trying to teach my 6-year old for some time, with limited success. But with Rosetta Stone, she learned as much in a few hours as in the previous couple of years. A truly wonderful way to spend time with your child. Ages 3 and up.
Treasury of 25 Storybook Classics: Dinosaurs, Trucks, Monsters and More (Scholastic Storybook Treasures)
This is a delightful collection of stories-on-video carefully adapted from classic children’s books. Watch them with your child or read along together. Either way, these DVDs help create an environment conducive for fathers and their children to foster a love for reading.
A Frog Named Sam (CD) (Ben Rudnick & Friends)
Clever, fun, entertaining songs that kids will love to sing along with. Best of all, they’re musically interesting enough for adults to keep you from tearing your hear out after the 300th time through.
Banjo to Beatbox (Community Music)
Another great CD of original, rootsy music for the whole famlily. This CD also serves as a gentle introduction to rap and hip hop, which, I admit, I wasn’t that crazy about before. But in this context, it really works–for adults and kids alike.
Picture Keeper (Simplified I.T. Products, LLC)
This specially formatted USB flash drive creates a backup of images simply by plugging it into a computer and clicking the “Start Backup” button. The device automatically finds and copies all images with jpeg/jpg extensions on the computer. Updating a backup is just as easy. You wouldn’t think a flash drive could be a sleep aid, but knowing that all those years of precious family pics are safe, should help you rest easier. Comes in 4, 8, and 16 GB and works on PC or Mac. For teens through adults.
Zipfy Mini Luge Snow Sled (Zipfy, Inc.)
A true outdoor activity that’s designed for the whole family. Zipfy is extremely safe (drop heels to control speed and stop, lean into side to turn) and is lightweight (3.5 lbs.) so easy for the kids to carry up the hill. It has a 250 lb. capacity, so you can ride down right beside their kids.
Air-Porter (Indication Designs)
Air-Porter was designed to help eliminate the stress of family travel and add a little fun back in. It’s a lightweight, portable, and extremely durable strapping system that attaches to your existing suitcase, allowing you to carry bulky items such as car seats, strollers, and all the rest of your kid paraphernalia from the car and through the airport unassisted. For those interested in buying American, Air-Porter, is a California based manufacturer committed to creating cost-effective, innovative products.
My Pillow Pets (My Pillow Pets)
The original My Pillow Pets are snuggly plush companions that are also a comfortable pillow for bed, television, or travel time. Made from the softest, high-quality chenille. There are more than 20 styles of loveable Pillow Pets available. Each My Pillow Pet has distinctive features that give it personality and make it huggable fun for children and their dads.
BufferZone is software that kidproofs your PC from Internet threats. It helps busy dads inexpensively keep their computers in shape even when kids, spouse, or guests have used the computer to surf the web. Bufferzone complements antivirus software by keeping the effects of web activities (cookies, viruses) in a “buffer,” where they can’t hurt your core files. This keeps your sensitive files disconnected from the internet—which means kids can click on any link, download any file, or open any attachment they want, and any viruses or threats never touch important files (and never mess anything up), which eliminates at least one source of frustration between dads and kids.
Proud Parents’ Guide to Raising Athletic, Balanced, and Coordinated Kids (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Proud Parents Guide is a comprehensive book with over 200 fun, fast and simple 10-minute games dads and moms can play with children birth through age six to develop intelligence, athleticism, musical and artistic talents. The program uses basic, inexpensive sports equipment, generic toys, and common household items you probably already own to give babies, toddlers , preschoolers and kindergarteners a solid foundation for success in later life.
Norman, the Phart Elephant (Fierce Fun Toys, LLC)
Squeeze his tail, and this 10-inch plush elephant rewards you with a certain bodily noise. While not for every dad and child, “opens the door on silly, which can sometimes be hard to find,” say the creators. Sometimes, dads and kids need an inappropriate toy to break the ice. On another level, Norman can be used by parents to discuss bodily functions, the public versus the private, as well as discretion.
Coddletime (Coddle, Inc.)
Even if you’re a breastfeeding purist, your child will undoubtedly have a bottle at some point. When that day comes, make it a Coddletime. Their bottle wraps are made from 100 percent food-grade silicone and provide protection from breakage. Coddletime’s soft nipples mimic breastfeeding actions and prevent nipple confusions. This helps make feeding the baby easier for you when mom isn’t able to (or can’t) breastfeed.
The Friends Forever Girls-Marlee (Inspire U., LLC)
Here at Mr. Dad we’re big fans of playing with dolls. Sometimes we even do it with our daughters. Oh, you know what I mean. Dolls, particularly ones with an interesting back story and personality, are a great way for dads to connect with their daughters and encourage conversation about the things that matter most. And that’s exactly what the Friends Forever dolls do.
etendi BRIDGE (etendi)
For dads who can’t always be under the same roof as their kids, etendi BRIDGE provides a web-based service that can help to keep kids and dads connected. It provides video conferencing, photo, video and document sharing, an interactive whiteboard and a shared calendar in one easy to use interface. While it’s obviously better to have dads connecting directly kids rather than going through an online service, this is a good solution for kids and dads who can’t be together. Divorced dads, military dads, and dads who have to travel a lot for work can all make use of this safe and controlled online environment that can keep the family connecting without opening up web usage to email, Facebook and instant messaging which can create other dangers and distractions. etendi BRIDGE has been designed specifically for parents and kids so it’s easy to use and it’s a secure, private network that is internet-safe for kids of all ages.
Go to www.etendi.com for a free trial or for more information.
The Mr. Dad Seal of Recognition
Not every product or service we evaluated met our strict criteria of helping dads get or stay involved with their children and improve the quality of father-child relationships. But there were some entries that we felt were worth noting.
Boogie Wipes (Bogie Wipes)
Tired of chasing runny noses? Boogie Wipes are the latest innovation in a moist wipe product for busy dads (moms too), and kids. With added saline, they offer quick, gentle, effective relief of stuck-on Boogies caused by the common cold and allergies. Boogie Wipes are alcohol, phthalate and paraben free. They are gentile for all ages and come in a variety of lightly scented wipes that are moisturize with vitamin E, aloe and chamomile.