Finally Friday: Compressed Towels (aka Emergency Wipes)

compressed-towels-emergency-wipesSeveral weeks ago, we were on a plane and had a toddler poop emergency — and I had packed the extra wipes somewhere “clever,” which is Casa Griffin code for “no idea where.”  YEP, super smart. I found myself wishing desperately I had this odd little compressed/condensed towel that I’d found years ago at one of those random card/gift stores in New York. I came home, hunted on Amazon, and BEHOLD: super teeny tiny towels.  These individually wrapped towels, when compressed, are about the size of a very large pill (maybe 3-4x the size of a Tums or Zicam) but, if you add water, they expand to be slightly larger than a diaper wipe, and of similar quality.  My bet is that they’ll be a better option than just plain wet bathroom paper towels or toilet paper if there is another similar bathroom or sticky-hands emergency in our future. They’re small enough that I have two of them in my purse’s makeup bag (even though we’ve started potty training).  You can buy a set of 12 for $3.59, Add-On shipping at Amazon. SE NW9510-12 Compressed Towels (12 Pack), Small/9-1/2″ x 10″, White



  1. Lurker says:

    Oh goodness, a poop emergency on a plane sounds horrific!

    • I was just asking myself, “Are we talking about poop too much on C-Moms? Probably yes, but they’ll understand what I mean, and I’ll make a note to not talk about poop for at least two weeks after this.”

      • Lurker says:

        Adults have poop emergencies on planes too! I definitely had to use the first class Lav once despite being a coach passenger because I could not wait for the cart to be moved. As the FA in first class got up to tell me I couldn’t be there I yelled back, it’s in here or in my seat, your choice, there is no stopping it! He let me through. I was quite red faced walking back through first class. The FA then offered me a puke bag and I said “wasn’t that direction.” Yeah. That happened.

    • Been there! Solo flight. International. 9 month old. Lots of screaming. Also puke. Don’t ask.

  2. Legally Brunette says:

    Help, ladies. I need to buy some (hopefully not too expensive) formalwear for my two kids — sizes 18-24 months and 3T. My sons are going to be in a renewal ceremony, and it’s just a few weeks away. It could be a jacket and pants, or maybe a shirt, vest, and pants. I’m open.

    I don’t have time to go into a brick and mortar store or consignment store (I know the latter would be ideal for this). So it has to be something I can buy online, hopefully with free shipping, if not free returns.

    Any specific links to clothing that could work? I have never shopped for kids formal wear and I don’t want it to look cheap, but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for something they will likely only wear once.

    Would greatly appreciate some ideas. Thanks!

    • Legally Brunette says:

      I should add, it would be cute to buy matching outfits but not essential.

    • anne-on says:

      I’d try janie and jack – they tend to have good selections in the clearance section if you don’t mind hunting a bit. I’d get the vests and pants there, and the button up shirts at the gap (oodles of plain button down shirts that are 40% or 50% off now for their friends and family sales). Lands End has great tie options too!

    • Gymboree is my go-to for this type of stuff.

    • Can you get away with not-quite-formal clothes? Carters has a sale going on right now, and has holiday stuff. Click on the Holiday Shop to see a couple shirt-plus-bowtie-plus-corduroy sets. Gymboree has a sale and “family festive” clothes (check out the herringbone pants and vest, over the chambray trim shirt – the chambray should be hidden by the vest. there’s even a herringbone cap for the baby).

    • I got my son some corduroy pants and a sweater vest from Carter’s for a wedding last year. I put the vest over a long sleeve polo style shirt. He looked perfectly appropriate and I didn’t spend a ton.

    • POSITA says:

      Maybe ThredUp?

      • Shipping on ThredUp takes forever and doesn’t seem to be consistent. Not ideal if it’s only a few weeks away.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      If it’s formal, why not rent? The major tux rental shops usually rent out kids clothes too. I bet you could put in an order online and run in to pick it up the day before you have to leave town, or even reserve it in the town you’re traveling to (if you’re traveling).

      • Legally Brunette says:

        Great minds! I saw this one earlier and I think I’m going to buy it. So adorable.

        I don’t have a car currently and going to a rental store is too much of a hassle, otherwise I think it would be a good idea.

        Thank you all for the helpful advice!

    • In House Counsel says:

      Check JCPenney — my cousin got my son (22 months) dress slacks, button down and vest for her wedding.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have bought clothes from a site called pinkprincess dot com on for this kind of thing. Not the greatest material or quite as adorable as Janie and Jack, but it’s hard to justify spending so much money on clothes kids will only use once or twice.

    • Sarabeth says:

      I highly recommend shirt, vest, and pants. Jackets on toddlers (at least on my toddlers) look really weird. But a cute sweater vest or regular vest over a button-up shirt, with nice pants – that’s golden with gray pants and a white shirt underneath?

      • Sarabeth says:

        Hey, just a heads up that I’ve been commenting on this site (both C-Moms and the main site) under the handle Sarabeth for several years. I don’t care a lot, but it might avoid confusion if you picked a different name.

    • I know not your question but curious – what renewal ceremony? Are you and spouse renewing vows? Interested to hear more!

      • Legally Brunette says:

        Not for me, but my uncle and aunt are celebrating 25 years of marriage, and their kids decided to throw them a renewal ceremony (with just close family, 15 people total). I’ve never been to one myself and have no idea what to expect, but I will report back! I think it’s a sweet idea.

    • Anglophile says:

      Try Amazon – it has a surprisingly large selection of reasonably priced toddler suits. We are going to an all white wedding in December (apparently this is a thing!?) and had good luck on Amazon for our 19-month old.

    • Eileen says:

      We had good luck at Sears for matching baby and toddler size formalwear for a wedding recently – I think a shirt, pants, vest, and tie were $25.

  3. Immediate tough topic threadjack. I have a 4 year old who has always expressed an interest in dressing up, and specifically is drawn to princess dresses. I recently moved him to a daycare that seemed to be a more accepting, creative school, and for the first time, let him wear a princess dress to school. The day of, the teachers assured me that there was an initial curiosity and some remarks were made, but that it died down and the kids were fine the rest of the day. He has not asked to wear it to school since that day, but did wear another somewhat feminine shirt later that week. On the day of, he’s been adamant about wearing his selections, and we’ve told him that friends might laugh or ask about his clothing. We’ve talked to him about what to say if the other kids ask him or laugh.

    After school, I have asked him whether friends asked about the costume/shirt, and he said “yes,” and said some boys called him a girl and laughed at him. He also said that his two best friends in the class (little girls) said boys couldn’t wear those things. He said these statements made him sad, but that he liked wearing the costume/shirt.

    Since then (about a week ago), I’ve noticed he isn’t talking about his two best friends anymore, and doesn’t mention other kids. Today, at drop off, the girls said “Oh look, there’s [child!]” and ran up to him. He did not acknowledge them, and I heard one of the little girls say “Oh, I guess he’s still mad at us.” THey went back to playing together, and he went off by himself and was playing alone when I left.

    I feel so guilty and torn. I feel like I opened him up to being shunned by letting him wear non-conforming outfits. My husband was okay with him dressing up at home, but disagreed with my decision to let him wear the costume to school b/c he was worried about this exact situation. I’ve asked the teachers, but they assured me that he’s doing fine and playing with other kids/no one shunned him, which doesn’t seem to be what I’ve observed. I don’t know what I”m asking here, just feel so confused/overwhelmed by this.

    • Two Cents says:

      I don’t have any advice except to give you virtual hugs. This is tough. But I recently read this beautiful Modern Love column on this very topic and the unconditional love from the child’s family and school was so beautiful. Not saying that you son is transgender (could just be a phase, possibly) but in the event he is, I found this article comforting that there IS acceptance of such kids, including among peers.

    • Do you know the teachers well? Can you ask them to have a talk with the class, or even give the parents of his best friends a heads up on what is going on? Do you know any of the parents? Can you ask them to talk to the kids?

      One 3 year old boy at my daycare just wore a girls’ outfit to school. I saw him when I did drop off, and made a big point of saying out loud that I loved his outfit. My daughter immediately parroted me and gave him a hug, and so did her best guy friend. I don’t know if it influenced anything, but hopefully starting the day with some positives maybe helped with any negatives he heard?

      Of course, my daughter has recently told me that boys can’t have long hair and girls can’t have short hair. So we made a big deal of looking up pictures online of those exact scenarios, to show her it was false, but she still repeats it. I think the problem is that no one in her “real life” is either scenario (which is weird and I don’t understand how not, but it’s true). I’ve literally contemplated cutting my hair into an awful-for-me pixie just to show her it’s possible.

      Regardless, hugs. I believe that having a loving home environment is the best thing you can give a kid, so kudos to you for that.

      • avocado says:

        This reminds me of a recent occurrence when a 3-year-old we know pointed at my pixie cut and asked incredulously, “Dat a GIRL?” His mother was a little embarrassed. I just laughed and said, “Yes, girls can have short hair too, just like boys!” He looked at me like I had blown his little mind.

      • To avocado’s point below as well, it is funny – all the teachers and adults in the school were so supportive – it’s the kids who were really confused!

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re handling this is the best you can. Glad to hear that the teachers are supportive.

      You’re in a hard space where a lot of the supports and discussion on this topic is more geared towards parents of transgender kids whereas it sounds like your son is having fun with different kinds of dress and costumes, not identifying as a girl. It drives me crazy that we (society) think it’s no big deal for kids to play dress up as animals (boy can wear a tiger costume and not get teased) but they can’t dress up as the opposite gender without it being an issue.

      I don’t agree with your DH I understand that may be coming from a place of protection, but it sends the message that there’s something wrong that needs to be hidden.

      Practice a few simple phrases he can use with other kids “Clothes are just clothes”, “Costumes are for fun and I’ve having fun”, “Girls can wear jeans and boys can wear dresses” come to mind for me.

      • Anonymous says:
      • avocado says:

        “it sounds like your son is having fun with different kinds of dress and costumes, not identifying as a girl. It drives me crazy that we (society) think it’s no big deal for kids to play dress up as animals (boy can wear a tiger costume and not get teased) but they can’t dress up as the opposite gender without it being an issue. ”

        This. Also, we celebrate girls for dressing up in “boy” costumes (see the recent Campbell’s Soup commercial where we are supposed to be shocked when the kid in the Spiderman costume pulls off the hood and we find out it’s a girl), but somehow boys wearing girl costumes must have gender identity issues. Not necessarily. Just let them play.

        • ARGH – this point drives me nuts! I mentioned this to a friend of mine, and she was shocked — she had never even considered that it’s a badge of honor for a girl to wear a batman costume, but somehow the rest of my son’s life is cast in stone b/c he wants to wear a princess costume.

    • avocado says:

      My daughter went to a preschool where girls and boys would wear all of the costumes from the dress-up box. There were a couple of boys who liked to wear the princess dress, and to my knowledge nobody ever said anything about it. Certainly none of the parents ever batted an eye at pickup time, and my daughter never said anything about it to me.

      A few thoughts. First, little kids like to come up with rules and impose them on others. It seems to be their way of making sense of the world. When they are very young, it can be pretty easy to push back against those “rules,” especially with adult support. In our preschool, if a child had told another child “Boys don’t wear shirts like that,” the matter-of-fact response from the teachers would have been, “Boys and girls can both wear all sorts of things,” and it probably would have ended right there. I would role-play some scenarios with non-confrontational responses with your son. I would also talk with the teachers and make sure they are on the lookout for issues and ready to respond appropriately.

      Second, wearing a costume to school all day is different from wearing a costume during dress-up play or wearing gender-nonconforming clothing that is not a costume, especially if you are four years old and not two years old. By the time a kid is four, it is reasonable to expect him to wear clothing that is appropriate to the situation and weather. For a girl or a boy, a princess costume is not really school-appropriate except at dress-up time. Neither is a superhero costume. A princess t-shirt, however, is perfectly appropriate for school. Removing the costume aspect could help normalize his wardrobe choices for the other kids.

      Third, if he is refusing to talk to his friends and they think he is mad at him, then maybe it is time to have a talk with him about giving his friends another chance. You could explain that it was not nice of his friends to make fun of his clothes and it’s understandable that his feelings were hurt, but everyone makes mistakes sometimes and now his friends seem sad that he doesn’t want to play with them. Perhaps he could tell his friends something like, “It really hurt my feelings when you made fun of my clothes. I would still like to be friends, so please don’t make fun of me any more.”

      • Really good point on the school appropriateness. My husband made the same point — arguably more shocking to send a kid to school in any costume when no one else is wearing a costume. He’s brought other costumes to school to contribute to the class costume bin, but I don’t think he’s worn them to school. I think I bent further over backwards b/c I didn’t want to say no b/c of WHAT the costume was, when I should have said no b/c it wasn’t school appropriate – but that he could bring it to school to wear during play time or whatever.

    • This is tough. One thing that stuck out to me, though, is that the two little girls ran up to him and wanted to play, and your son isn’t playing with them, which the girls (probably correctly) interpreted as him being mad at them. So that’s a different situation than your son being shunned by other kids (at least these kids). I think you should have another conversation with your son, ask him how he feels about what the other kids said, ask him what it would take to not be mad at the little girls. Maybe he can work through the angry feelings with your help, maybe he can ask the little girls for an apology, maybe a teacher could help smooth things over. The girls probably said some things that hurt your son’s feelings that day, but it seems like they still want to play with him.

      • Thank you for the reframe. If I look past my own insecurity and anxiety about the situation, you’re right. The little girls came running up to me and him. It was my son who walked away. I think the next step is to talk to him about being angry and how to address that moving forward.

      • Agree- I was confused about the question because it seemed like the girls did want to play with him, and it sounds like your son’s teachers said it wasn’t a big deal when he wore the costume. I would press for more details (they said you were still mad at them– what did they mean?) from your son and try to figure out what’s going on, trying to keep as neutral as possible in terms of your own anxieties/fears. I think you’re jumping to a worst case scenario that the facts don’t seem to support right now. But yeah, this is a hard situation. I know he’s a bit young, but the “How to talk so kids will listen..” book has great examples on how to talk to kids so that they will share more with you. I think that’s the first step here– define the problem, if any, first, then figure out how to address it.

        As for letting him wear it in the first place— your comment that you had previously refused requests to wear other costumes to school but allowed this one because you wanted to be accepting was really interesting. Parenting is hard.

    • Not sure I have a suggestion, just context.
      Age 4 is about when kids start to developmentally think in terms of “boy” things and “girl” things and identify themselves with a group. At age 3 kids at our preschool were dressing up in mixed (boy/princess, girl/batman) costumes from the costume box all the time. My kid thought at 2-3 he could become a mommy when he grew up. Age 4+ was when they started playing more separately by gender. So the girls are probably just making rules in their head and your son isn’t quite there yet on the girls are X, boys are Y. Hence the dissonance.

      • mascot says:

        What’s funny is that actually growing up to be a princess/prince or batman or a monkey is literally impossible for both genders. There may be a very, very tiny chance that they could do the royalty thing, I guess. But I’ve never gotten the outrage about what is the very core of a child’s imagination. One of my favorite pictures of my kid is him dressed in a tutu from the pre-k dress up box. He thought the way the skirt moved was super cool.

  4. Patty Mayonnaise says:

    I could use some stroller advice. I’m expecting this spring and trying to decide between the City Mini and the Uppababy Vista system. City Mini seems appealing because it’s small and lightweight and much less $$ but can use the carseat adaptor thing. The Uppababy is so much more expensive, but has more basket storage and a zillion attachments – bassinet (which we could get a stand for to use in the apartment), carseat, plus it can convert to a 2-kid stroller if we’re lucky enough to have another shortly after. But it does seem to be a much heavier option too. Any thoughts or experiences? We live in a city and walk a ton so a stroller is really important. We’ll also be living in a very compact apartment, so we’re always looking for things that can do double duty and be as streamlined as possible. Thanks, ladies!!

    • Sarabeth says:

      Get the City Mini. If/when you have a second, sell it and buy whatever double works best for your life then. Not worth spending the next two years with a heavier stroller in expectation of your second child.

    • AnonMN says:

      Have you looked at the City Select? That’s what we have and LOVE it. We have used it has a single, double. With bassinet, with car seat, with both rumble seats. What sold us on it vs the Vista is the upper weight limit for the rumble seat and room for feet. Our 2yo is almost 40lbs and tall and we would have had to buy a separate toddler seat for him with the Vista. We went to the store and tried him in both doubles before baby #2 came, and he just had so much more leg room in the City Select as compared to the Vista. Bonus, Baby Jogger has a yearly sale where you can get a second seat free.

      I know you are just looking for single at this point, and if that is the case, I think the City Select and Vista are pretty comprable, but if you’re planning to use it as a double at some point, I think the City Select is the way to go.

    • Legally Brunette says:

      I have only used the Uppa Baby so can’t compare the two, but we live in the city and constantly walk and I absolutely love the UppaBaby. Also, don’t know what sort of climate you live in, but the UB has large wheels that are really good for trekking in snow. We also used the large basket to shop for groceries, and it held so much stuff. We now have 2 kids and really like the UB double stroller. We didn’t actually use the two seat configuration for that long, but the boogy board is fun and my older one loves riding on it.

      The big con is that it is very heavy. I can barely lift it in the trunk on the rare times that we drive (but I can do it, it just takes a minute).

      I also loved, loved love the bassinet option when the babies were little. Would take them on long walks and they were so cozy in there.

      Finally, their customer service is amazing. They are based out of MA and once when something broke, they shipped us a replacement for free.

    • Do you use stairs or an elevator to get to and from your apartment? I have different stroller needs, but we live in a second-story apartment with stairs down to the first floor. I find myself leaving the heavier, better (once we’re out) stroller at home and using the lighter one just because it’s more convenient with the baby, diaper bag, and everything else we have to carry downstairs whenever we leave the house. If you have an elevator and can leave your apartment without lugging a folded-up stroller down (and back up) the stairs, the Uppababy might work better for you.

      • +1 – Think carefully about how you will use the stroller. Will you use it for commuting on a daily basis? If so, will you be taking a bus (in NYC you must fold strollers on the bus) or subway with no elevator? What else will you be carrying? Do you need to be able to fold it up with one hand, e.g., to get on the bus while carrying a baby and your bag? If you are taking it to daycare, do they have room for a large stroller? If you have a nanny, can she/he carry it up/down any stairs involved in getting in your apartment? We had a Britax B-Agile, which is almost exactly the same as the City Mini but we liked it better due to the brake design and the shape of the bar at the base in the back – my husband tended to kick the City Mini’s bar, but the B-Agile’s was curved and less in the way. Anyway, I never had a larger stroller to get used to, but we managed to do most grocery shopping with the City Mini basket. If you get some of the stroller hooks to attach to the handle, you can attach a lot of bags. (Now that my son is out of the stroller I can’t figure out how to get groceries home- i keep forgetting to bring a cart!) When my son was tiny, we either but him in the B-Agile – it reclines enough that we used it from birth – or put his car seat in a snap and go. The Snap and Go we got for free and got rid of after 9 months or so. They are easy to find used, so you could just start with that and pick a stroller later.

      • Jdubs says:

        +1 to consider your use of it. I have had both the Vista and a City Mini… The Vista was our workhorse, it went back and forth 1 mile each way to daycare in NYC for 4 years in every weather imaginable. The thing is a tank! It broke a few times, but customer service is amazing and replacements arrived ASAP. But, it is huge and heavy, a giant pain to fold, and not great as a double (although I believe the newer ones were better). The City Mini is lighter and easier to fold, but doesn’t steer as well and the wheels are not as great in snow (maybe GT wheels). It also tips easier when you load it up with groceries. Ultimately, we used the Vista as our daily daycare stroller and use the the City Mini on the weekends and in and out of the car. Also, think about how important parent facing is to you. I have friends who went with the city mini and hated the fact that after the car seat stage the child didn’t have the option to face you. I also second the advice to start with the snap and go and go from there. The snap and go was our only stroller for about 6 months.

    • Anonymous says:

      We did an in-between option and got the Uppa Cruz. Couldn’t be happier. You can buy the bassinet separately and still clip it in. It’s much lighter than the Vista but still has a huge basket. It won’t convert to two-kids, but I think we’ll cross that bridge if/when we come to it. We also love baby wearing, which buys us several more months of using the Cruz even if we have #2 (baby wear newborn and push toddler). The Cruz also has great resale value, so we could sell it and pay for the Vista if we needed to.

    • anne-on says:

      A few things that sold me on the Vista – adjustable handles, which were great for me and my husband. The basket was huge, I could easily do a few days of grocery shopping just throwing things in the basket, I loved the options (we still use the bassinet stand as a hamper to this day), the wheels are really sturdy and great for curbs/snow/slush/etc. The steering is also VERY easy to do one handed (try opening a door and getting yourself in and out with nobody holding the door for you – pretty common in NYC and very manageable in this stroller). It also folds up and stores standing, which was huge for us as we didn’t have a foyer or a garage in our apt. Agreed about the weight – it is heavy, but if you have an elevator building I’d absolutely go for it.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Have you considered the Uppababy Cruz? It’s smaller and lighter than the Vista. It doesn’t come with the extras like the bassinet, but you can buy those things separately if you want them, and it still has good storage.

      Not to add more choices, but have you considered the Bugaboo Bee. My husband and I were those people who went to the baby store 7 times to choose a stroller and in the end we chose the Bugaboo Bee, which was not even on our radar for the first several visits. Our rationale was that it was very compact, almost as light as an umbrella stroller, and easy to fold. Unlike the Bugaboo Chameleon, you don’t have to take the seat off to fold the stroller (a complete deal breaker for us. I asked the person in the store how people deal with that in the city and the subway and her response was that they take cabs. Um, ok.). We got the bassinet attachment for when my daughter was really young. We used a car seat adapter for a Chicco car seat. I LOVE our stroller and have been very happy with it.

      In terms of the double stroller option, you can’t add a second seat with the Bee, but you can add a seat thing-y for an older child (it looks like a bike seat) if you want one. Also, while I think the storage is good (not as good as the Cruz or Vista), I don’t like that the main access is from the front of the stroller. But I don’t have an elevator or a place to leave a stroller in the foyer of my building, so I didn’t want to have to carry a heavy stroller with a ton of stuff in the carriage up a flight of stairs while also juggling a baby.

    • Lurker says:

      Love your name.

    • Anglophile says:

      We have the UppaBaby Vista and loved it, but definitely heavy. If you go in that direction, do not feel like you have to buy the separate bassinet stand (which is almost $100). We actually just used the stroller (brakes engaged) with the bassinet on it downstairs for naps and it worked great if you have the space.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have the vista and the city mini. They are totally different strollers. The vista is my keep in the garage stroller (I live far enough out of downtown to have a garage) which is amazing for walks, especially for grocery store runs as the basket is HUGE. Love the stroller. However, I would like it a lot less if I had to fold it/lift it every day- I literally never do.

      The City mini is our stroller for travel and for keeping in the car. I love it for its uses but would not want it as my primary stroller because a) basket is terrible b) handle bar doesn’t adjust c) wheels are only good for flat surfaces. If you get the City Mini GT it fixes problems b and c but not problem a.

      Give what sounds like your space constraints, if you can only have one stroller something like the Cruz is probably a great way to go. I agree don’t worry about a double unles you actually have a two kids- uppa baby strollers have fantastic resale, you can sell and buy something new if needed down the road.

      I disagree with the City select recommendation. Only benefit over the vista is the better configuration for 2 kids. Don’t worry about that now. Vista has a much better push and a bigger basket.

  5. Famouscait says:

    Recommendations for a toddler play kitchen? I’m thinking this will be kiddo’s big Christmas gift. It would live in the far corner of our living room, in an effort to minimize the amount of smaller toys and bits that are currently stored there for him when he’s playing downstairs while I cook, do laundry, etc. I don’t care if it’s plastic or wooden (I figure if I’m going to have a play kitchen in my living room, I should just embrace that) and price + accessories (food, etc.) is unlimited since all the grandparents would be contributing to the total cost. What should I be looking for that actually gets played with? For example, we don’t have a grill, so I don’t think kiddo would even know what to do with that, vs. he loves to throw away trash, feed the dog, etc. and I’ve seen some with those features.

    • We have an earlier version of the Step 2 Lifestyle kitchen. It’s plastic. My 18-month-old loves it. My mom bought some play food and kitchen utensils for Christmas, and for now, kiddo is just putting random toys in the oven. (I was also going to buy one for Christmas, but then our neighbors were throwing this out. DH brought it inside before we talked about it, and there was no going back.)

    • NewMomAnon says:

      I suspect this is less than you are hoping for, but the Ikea play kitchen set has been great for my kiddo. It doesn’t have a refrigerator, so I made one out of a Billy bookcase with a door, and added a long cabinet pull to the door along with a magnetic board and some colorful paint It’s been used daily for almost two years now.

      It has light up “burners”, a fake faucet + removable sink basin (plastic), an “oven” with a window in the door, and a second cabinet with a shelf. I also got the hutch, which has a “microwave” and a rod for hanging pots and pans.

      One note of caution on the “trash can” idea; my daughter’s concept of real food versus fake kitchen is fuzzy, and I sometimes find real, half eaten apples or pouches of yogurt in the fake refrigerator, or leftovers that she has taken out of the real fridge “reheating” in the fake microwave. So a fake “trash can” in my house would be a no-go – we’d end up with fake food contaminated with real (messy) food, and it would turn into a real garbage can.

      • Famouscait says:

        Such a good point about the trash!

        I looked at the Ikea one online, but in this instance I feel like all the plastic versions (Step 2, etc.) just look more fun… Same goes for Hape, and Melissa & Doug – normally I prefer their products, but there’s something about how simple they are that makes me fear he wouldn’t play with it (or for as long).

        • NewMomAnon says:

          Yeah, I was not OK with a big plastic kitchen taking over my small apartment; the Ikea one had one of the smaller footprints, and blended more seamlessly into the surroundings. If those hadn’t been priorities, I really liked one of the plastic versions that had a more retro look and had a bunch of cool accessories (KitchenAid mixer, etc).

          I found that kiddo plays with her kitchen the most when I’m cooking – I actually moved it from the dining room into the kitchen and it got a lot more use. I’m thinking of converting a part of her bedroom to a “farmer’s market” area with a shopping cart and cash register so she can “shop” for food and then put it away in her kitchen. (Mostly because that was my FAVORITE thing in preschool and I’m trying to relive it vicariously through my daughter, but that’s OK right?)

        • Anonymous says:

          Consider redecorating the ikea kitchen (you said grandparents are in on this; I’m thinking they would enjoy helping with this)

          • NewMomAnon says:

            I had planned to do some decorating, but a word of warning on the Ikea kitchen; it took three adults at least 2.5 hours to fully construct ours, and I had lost all motivation to be creative by the end of it. And it’s so difficult to drill into the Ikea particle board that it took me almost 6 months to fully finish the “refrigerator” (which is now decked out with paint, contact paper, and a magnet board and is so stinking cute).

          • Famouscait says:

            OMG those are awesome!!!

          • Those are cute, but I just have a different idea of what to do with my free time. My kids’ toys will never be more “decorated” than they are when they come through our door. I also like hand-me-down or used toys in part because they’re already assembled.

          • Anon in NYC says:

            This is amazing and is really pushing me towards the Ikea kitchen (as opposed to one from KidKraft, which is where I was originally looking).

          • Legally Brunette says:

            Holy smokes. These kitchens are so fab I want to play with them!

        • Pigpen's Mama says:

          We have the Ikea one (it took me ~3 hours to assemble — UGH) and I don’t mind it in our living room. Kiddo usually plays with it everyday, but it doesn’t hold her attention very long.

          My SIL got us some hideous Step2 one, like 80s kitchen fugly. Couldn’t return it w/o family drah-ma, and it wasn’t that big, so I set it up in our basement/workout/all-purpose room (took all of 15 minutes to pop things together and slap on the sticker). And THAT’S the one my kid is obsessed with.

      • Anonymous says:

        Another vote for the Ikea one. We ordered a Melissa and Doug wooden one and I wished we’d gone with the Ikea one. Ikea also has great play food.

      • Edna Mazur says:

        I’ve totally found really nasty sippy cups in my kids’ “fridge” in their kitchen. The struggle is real.

      • MDMom says:

        Haha. This reminds me a of a similar real/fake mix up that left a mark on my parents house– I had a plastic play kitchen growing up and was apparently frustrated that my plastic pot full of (real) water was not boiling on my fake stove. So I put the plastic pot on top of the wood stove nearby, where it melted and left a ring mark on top of that stove that is still there today. I was too young to have any real memory of it, but I’m sure it was a stinky, smokey mess. Moral of the story— maybe don’t let your kids play unsupervised next to an burning wood stove?

    • In House Lobbyist says:

      We have a wooden one that I got at a yard sale so I don’t know the brand. But my kids and every other kid absolutely love to climb in the oven and cook each other. I have no idea why but I would recommend one that you can crawl in and out of. I also like the Melissa and Doug sandwich making kit and cutting fruit set. We have the metal basket and boxed food from Melissa and Doug too but the boxed food didn’t hold up as well. We also have the cookie baking set and it is a big hit. I bought nesting mixing bowls and tiny frying pans at TJ Max in the cooking section and they have held up well. We also have the teapot set that sings/makes pouring noises that has been a hit for 5 years now. My kids have been playing with the kitchen for 5 years now so it has been a great toy for us.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        I apparently have lots of thoughts about play kitchens…..

        Instead of buying a lot of fake food, I clean out empty food containers when we are done with them. Kiddo has some clean condiment containers, empty cereal/cracker/pasta boxes, tea tins, plastic jars left over from peanut butter, empty spice containers, small empty milk jugs, etc. We have fake perishable foods (meat, produce, eggs, bakery items, etc), but otherwise it’s all real food containers. I swap them out when they get grungy too.

        • EB0220 says:

          My kiddo’s daycare does this and everyone loves it.

        • Genius!!! My mom bought Kiddo a couple of brightly colored but real kitchen utensils (measuring cups, spoon). But I never thought about real food containers. Of course, the cleaned-out containers would probably end up getting thrown away because I throw away everything that looks like trash and wash everything that looks like a dirty dish, even stuff that’s actively in use (much to DH’s annoyance).

    • EB0220 says:

      We have a a plastic one at home. We got it for free from a neighbor about 3 yrs ago. Both of my kids play with it regularly. They almost never use the sounds and buttons on the plastic one we have at home. They are happy moving things around, and opening the microwave, oven and fridge doors. We have a kid-sized table next to the kitchen and a tiny (antique) tea set. They love setting the table and having dinner parties for their stuffed animals. I love the Ikea one and would get that if we didn’t already have one!

    • We have a Kidcraft Vintage (? I think) wood one I got on Craigslist. My son is lukewarm on it in general, but his favorite parts are all the doors – opening, closing, taking things in and out. He also likes to use the phone. I think the IKEA food, pans, etc are a good bargain, although my son is just as happy with very minimalist plastic food. I have friends that recommend the Hape play kitchen as it is really small and comes with lots of stuff. The IKEA one looks fine to me, but it has fewer doors than ours, which could be less fun.

    • Spirograph says:

      If you don’t mind gently used items, play kitchens are ALWAYS at my local kid consignment store. And they’re already assembled! :) I almost grabbed the Ikea one last time I was there, but I have nowhere to hide it until Christmas…

  6. Does anyone have recommendations for a good maternity photographer in the LA area? We prefer someone with a more natural style (i.e, not in-studio). Thanks!

    • Sowieso says:

      I just received a recommendations for Monkeys and Peas (for baby photography, but they also specialize in maternity). I like what I see on their website and will probably book them soon. I also like that it’s a flat fee for the photo session and the digital files. They have been very responsive in answering my questions.

    • ChiLaw says:

      Not a specific rec, but a ton have groupons going.

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