Top Toys Keeping Cool at the Pool

When we moved into our house, one of the things I was most excited about is that we have a kid-friendly public pool within easy walking distance. We’ve gone every day since it opened on Saturday.

Enjoy this list of top pool toys for tots and young swimmers. I’ve left off larger toys and floaties, since public pools generally don’t allow them.

For Tots

For Older Kids who can Swim (usually 5 and up)

  • Intex Dive Balls and Swimways Torpedo Bandits are popular choices. Kids swim to the bottom to retrieve them.
  • Splash Bombs are squishy balls that don’t hurt if they smack you in the head. You can pick them up at Walmart and other stores.
  • My local pool allows squirt guns, although I really wish they wouldn’t. Kids love them, though, and these foam-wrapped Max Liquidator Eliminators even float.
  • And although they’re not really toys, my son’s goggles keep him entertained for hours. We like the Aqua Sphere ones because they’re easier on the eye sockets than the Speedo kind.

Related: Make a Splash, Save Cash with Reusable Swim Diapers


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How to Save on Safer Sunscreens [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices and Current Deals]

We’re approaching the sunniest season (yay!), and many of us will be buying sunscreen for our tots. Safer sunscreens for babies and kids can be pricey, though. Here’s a little help minimizing costs:

Prices on safer sunscreens tend not to vary too much over the course of a year. Unfortunately, some of the best prices on these products sometimes occur when few people are buying them– during the colder months. With a little luck, though, you should be able to save 20% or so off list price and even more if you’re lucky.

More Savings Tips

  • Watch for vouchers on sites like Groupon, Plum District and Living Social.
  • Scout for daily deals on sunscreens at sites like BabySteals and BabyHalfOff.
  • Sunscreen may be an allowed FSA expense. Check the details of your plan to find out.
  • Watch for site-wide sales and coupons at, and others.
  • Look for “Save when you join our mailing list” offers to save up to 20% or so.
  • Follow the brands’ Facebook pages for the scoop on sales and deals.
Online Retailers to Check

Amazon | Vitacost | The Vitamin Shoppe | Lovely Skin | Green Cupboards | Lucky Vitamin | | | Abe’s Market

Tip: Follow their Facebook pages or sign up for emails to be notified of sales and coupons.

The Sunscreens

Click through the links below for the current best price I could find on each sunscreen (price is in parentheses).

I chose these screens from SafeMama’s larger list based on her reviews and on price per ounce. Then I scoured the web to find the best deals currently.

To learn more about safer sunscreens and what makes them that way, do take a look at SafeMama’s 2012 Safer Sunscreen Cheat Sheet.

Note: If you’re unfamiliar with my buy-it-now prices, here’s the scoop: These “Buy It Now” prices are what I consider to be very good prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price. You can beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

Have you tried any of these? What did you think?

Related: Safer and Cheaper Sunscreens for Babies and Kids: 9 Picks

See more posts with buy-it-now prices

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Updated: Top Trikes Under $100 [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]

A child’s first trike. What a fun milestone! With all the models on the market, you may need a little guidance about which one to buy.

First, what features should you consider? Push bars allow you to push and steer the tricycle for younger kids who can’t do it on their own. They cut down on frustration–both for you and your tot.

You’ll also want to consider other features, like whether the pedals can serve as footrests when the parent bar is in, whether the child can steer while you’re pushing, whether you can adjust seat and/or handlebar height as the child grows, and weight limits for the trike. Additionally, if the trike rides low to the ground, it may be less likely to tip.

Here’s a comparison of seven top selling trikes under $100 on the market that feature parent push bars. I’ve listed Buy-It-Now prices (i.e. very good sale prices), too. I’ve also listed a few specs on each trike below. Click through and find out more about each tricycle at the product description on Amazon. You can also read reviews there.

If you’re new to my Buy-It-Now price lists, here’s what you need to know: “Buy It Now” (BIN) prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price. You may be able to beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

Fisher-Price Rock Roll and Ride Trike: List price: $60  | Buy-It-Now price: $42

  • 18 months to 5 years
  • rocking toy for smallest users
  • base converts to (removable) push handle

Schwinn Roadster 12″ Tricycle: List price: $99.99| Buy-it-Now price: $69 |

  • 2 to 5 years
  • low center of gravity
  • steel frame
  • air tires

Fisher Price Grow With Me Trike:  List price: $37.99| Buy-it-Now price: $28.13

  • 24 months to 5 years
  • two-position adjustable seat
  • easy-grip handlebars and slip-resistant pedals

Radio Flyer Steer & Stroll Deluxe Trike: List price: $79.99 | Buy-it-Now price:  $55

  • 2-5 years (50 lbs.)
  • removable push handle
  • adjustable front seat
  • covered storage bin

Schwinn Easy Steer Trike: List price: $99.99 | Buy-it-Now price: $59

  • 20 months and up
  • removable push handle
  • 5-point harness
  • wide tires
  • Rear plastic bin, front basket, and removable canopy

Radio Flyer Classic 10″ with Push Handle: List price: $89.99| Buy-it-Now price: $50

  • 2-4 years (42 lbs.)
  • removable 3-position push handle
  • steel frame
  • rubber tires

Radio Flyer 4-in-1 Trike: List price: $60| Buy-it-Now price: $99.97

  • 9 months to 5 years
  • converts from a stroller to a steering trike, learning-to-ride-trike, to a classic trike
  • steel frame
  • adjustable seat
  • removable wrap around safety bars with cupholder and snack tray, and 3-point harness

If you’re still on the fence, check out the tricycle action at local parks and playgrounds and talk to parents about what they like and don’t like about the models they chose.

How about you? Do you have any of these tricycles? What do you love or hate about them?


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Start Your own Kids’ Camp This Summer: It’s Cheaper AND You get More “Me” Time

Enjoy this repost of a popular BC article about starting your own summer camp. Such a great idea, and not really that tricky, either:

Don’t Have 100 bucks or more each week for summer camp? Why not create your own?

In the Parenting magazine article, “Start Your Own Kids Camp,” a mom describes how she saved hundreds of dollars on summer camp and got several days worth of quality “me” time. Given the right set of parents and kids, I think it’s a genius idea.

The first step is to find a few dependable parents of kids around your child’s age who are willing to take a turn creating and hosting a camp. Figure out how long you want each camp to run –any where from, say, one day to a week, depending on what parents are up for.

Each parent designs activities, games and snacks around a chosen theme (animals, space, art, bugs, etc.) for their camp. The campers rotate through each camp. When it’s not their turn to play camp counselor, each parent gets free time.

Obviously, the more kids who participate, the more “off” days for you. Check out the article at for more details and ideas.

What do you think? Would you be interested in setting up your own kids’ camp?

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Top Summer Toys for Pool & Backyard Fun

Keep your kids active and having fun this summer with these toy ideas:

Top Toys: Sprinkler Toys for The Back Yard: Bestselling, highest-rated sprinkler toys for the back yard. Just hook up the hose, douse them with sunscreen, and watch them have fun.

Top Toys for the Pool: Make a splash with my picks for top pool toys for tots and young swimmers.

DIY Sand Boxes and Tables: Think your child would enjoy a sandbox or sand and water table? Before you order, check out these ideas for making one yourself:

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[Updated] Make a Splash, Save Cash with Reusable Swim Diapers

I’ve reworked and updated this classic BC post for 2012:

Parents. Do not put your baby in the pool in her regular disposable diapers. Not only is it icky, it will cause your baby’s diaper to swell in a way that looks seriously uncomfortable (me, learn that first hand? never!).

Are Splashers and Little Swimmers disposable swim pants the solution? They work okay in the water, but they’re expensive. My husband and I also learned the hard way that they don’t contain urine. They’re just designed to keep in solid matter. Some pools, like the one at our local YMCA, require rubberized swim pants and won’t even let you in with Splashers or Little Swimmers. You need a reusable swim diaper.

Many reusable swim diapers offer the leak protection that disposables don’t (or at least they claim to). Reusable swim diapers especially make sense if your child’s in the water a lot or if you live in a warm climate with a long swimming season. Costs start at just $10, the price of just one or two packs of disposables. They create much less waste, too.

Here’s a rundown of nine of the most popular reusable swim diapers. Some of them offer SPF protection, too. To find out where to buy them, just Google. Amazon and carry many of the brands listed here.

(Left to Right)

  • The i play Ultimate Swim Diaper absorbs wetness and contains a waterproof liner that prevents leakage. Cute (!!) but slightly pricey styles for babies and toddlers. Toddler styles feature swim trunks (shown), tankinis and more. (starts at about $13).
  • Kushies Reusable Swim Diaper. Features nylon exterior and terry interior (about $12).
  • Swimmis by Bummis feature an interior polyester mesh for easy cleanup. Cute patterns, too. These get great ratings at The Diaper Pin. ($12 to $15)
  • Imse Vimse:  A popular choice. Seem to have a trimmer fit than the others listed here. ($16 to $18)
  • Sun Smarties Adjustable Swim Diaper diaper, trunk, and zip suit styles feature built-in SPF 50+ protection. (only at One Step Ahead, about $13–currently on sale for $9.95).
  • Finis: Nicely priced diaper styles starting at $9.99.
  • MonkeyDoodles: Canadian company offers both pull up and snap style diapers. These get great ratings at The Diaper Pin. ($20)
  • Tuga:  Three-layer, UPF 50+ diapers feature elasticized leg and waist band (pull up style). ($12)
  • Charlie Banana: These swim diapers double as training pants. ($13)

What will your baby/toddler/preschooler wear into the pool this summer?

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Safer & Cheaper Bug Repellents: 4 Picks

Many commercial sunscreens contain stuff you really don’t want to be spraying on your little ones’ skin, but for most of us, it’s either use bug repellent in the summer or while away the warmest months inside. There are lots of safer bug sprays, lotions and balms out there, and the list of options can be overwhelming. This post should make it a bit easier to find one that’s easy on the skin and the wallet.

As with yesterday’s sunscreen post, for this list, I compared safe products listed in EWGs insect repellent database with Safe Mama’s 2012 Bug Repellent picks.  To make Safe Mama’s list, products “had to be free of DEET, parabens, phthalates, PEG’s, Sulfates, Dioxanes, Propylene Glycols, and synthetic fragrances.”

Obviously, the EWG list and the Safe Mama list offer more options than the four I’m listing here, and everyone’s priorities are a little different. I encourage you to browse both lists to get an idea of what else is out there.

The four insect repellents that made the cut here earn a 0 or 1 “hazard” rating from EWG and had to be relatively easy to find locally or online. Also, they’re all $3.25 an ounce or less.

But what if you leave your bug spray and need to stop and grab some? Is there a safe non-natural choice? In a pinch, Safe Mama recommends Cutter Natural Insect Repellent ($1.08/oz.).It does contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, but, she says, given “the fact that SLS is the only troublesome ingredient I think it would be ok for occasional use.”

I also found this recipe for a Safe Insect Repellent made from essential oils if you want to try DIY-ing it.

Related: Safer and Cheaper Sunscreens for Babies and Kids: 9 Picks

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