Introducing the POPSUGAR Family Awards 2021 – POPSUGAR

introducing-the-popsugar-family-awards-2021-–-popsugar

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First 100 Words

First 100 Words ($7), or Primeras 100 Palabras, is a great board book for helping your baby to develop a bilingual vocabulary by teaching new words in two languages: English and Spanish. Between the pages, animals, toys, foods, and household items are depicted in more than 100 outstanding photographs. In fact, the choice to use photo imagery over illustrations was a conscious one: at this stage, it is easier for young minds to identify and understand objects in this more realistic format.

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The Play Gym by Lovevery

It's hard to compete with The Play Gym by Lovevery ($140). Unlike floor mats with a few battery-operated bells and whistles, this version was designed by child-development specialists and crafted with safe and durable materials to guide your baby's growth over the course of an entire year. It has five different "zones," each one offering an array of essentials for all of your baby's learning stages, and even comes with an activity guide broken down by months that is both beneficial for babies and profoundly helpful for today's eager parents.

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Crate&Kids Small Baby Stacking Rings

An added benefit of this charming, pastel set of Crate&Kids Small Baby Stacking Rings ($29) is that it can double as nursery decor — versus all those toys you might shove into nondescript bins at the end of a day of play. The rings are designed specifically for small hands, so they are easy for babies to use, and they're made of natural beech wood. Translation: it'll last forever, and it may become a hotly demanded hand-me-down once your little one has outgrown it. Wooden toys for the win!

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Fisher-Price Baby's Bouncer

The Fisher-Price Baby's Bouncer ($30) isn't just another contraption to keep your baby contained. It's not even a stationary bouncer that only moves when plugged in. Sure, it features calming vibrations at the touch of a button, but it also actually — and gently! — bounces along to your little one's natural movements. And as they grow, a removable overhead bar offers an adorable opportunity for them to use their hands to start reaching for toys.

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Micro Kickboard Mini Deluxe LED Scooter

Turns out, it's never too early to start scootering! The Micro Kickboard Mini Deluxe LED Scooter ($100) can grow with your kid — thanks to an adjustable handlebar — from 2 years old up until they're 5. The patented "lean-to-steer" design offers a stable ride for toddlers to get the hang of balancing, coasting, and turning corners. Plus, this model's LED light-up wheels will find fans not just in kiddos; parents will appreciate how the feature makes the rider more visible when scooting down the sidewalk.

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Cute Stone Color-Changing Kitchen Sink

If your toddler wants to take over dishwashing after every meal, you'll definitely want to consider the Cute Stone Color-Changing Kitchen Sink Toy ($30, originally $32). Unlike traditional play kitchens, this one has a built-in, battery-operated automatic water cycle system, which allows for a constant flow without wasting water or requiring you to constantly refill it. Bonus points: it fits perfectly into the Ikea Flisat table, so you can easily transport it outside during sunny days.

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Kinetic Sand

Classics are that way for a reason, and there's nothing more classic in the world of sensory play than a three-pound bag of Kinetic Sand ($15), the original moldable play sand. Often called "magic sand," it's made with larger grains of natural sand that stick to each other — and not to tiny fingers — so it easily holds its shape through hours of sculpting and molding. Because of its special formula, it never dries out. Cleanup is a breeze, and it can be stored for repeated use — no trip to the beach required.

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Literati's Club Neo

Proof that you're never too young to join a book club? Literati's Club Neo ($10 per month), a curated subscription service for tots up to 3 years old. Inside each box are five interactive board books with simple concepts and vibrant characters, and parents can select their little bookworm's favorites to keep — no need to pay for any of the books you return. This introductory stage will help in fostering an early love of reading even in the wiggliest of toddlers.

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Franklin+Emily Toddler Tower

If you can't prep even a box of mac 'n' cheese without your toddler yanking on your pants and begging to be scooped up, then there is no better investment in your kitchen than the Franklin+Emily Toddler Tower ($185). Following a Montessori approach based on self-directed, hands-on learning, this wooden stool allows your little one a safe, up-close look at the action. And as your fledgling sous chef grows all the way through age 6, they'll be better equipped to help chop, whisk, measure, and pour from this perch.

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Odin Parker Bow & Arrow

This well-crafted Odin Parker Bow & Arrow ($40) lets your preschooler's imagination run wild, all while they hone their hand-eye coordination and motor skills. (Rest easy: the soft, felt tips on the maple-wood arrows won't hurt in the event your archer misses the target.) It's such a darling set that even parents will get a kick out of trying to hit the fabric bullseye, which blessedly is machine-washable and doubles as inoffensive wall decor.

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Strider Balance Bike

Learning to ride a bike is a major milestone, and this Strider Balance Bike ($150) is a solid first step — or, rather, first glide. In lieu of training wheels, which don't actually teach balancing skills, this bike will build your kiddo's confidence until they're ready to take it to the next level. At that point, the built-in footrests can be converted with sold-separately pedal attachments, and because the seat and handlebars are adjustable, this initial investment is a much cheaper upgrade than buying a whole new bicycle.

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Insect Lore Butterfly Garden

Curious kids will love watching life emerge before their eyes with the Insect Lore Butterfly Garden ($28). The kit includes a pop-up mesh habitat, a cup of five live baby caterpillars, and all the other essentials necessary to nurture the transformation from tiny caterpillars to chrysalides to beautiful painted lady butterflies, which you can care for before releasing in your backyard or at your local park. Newbie scientists will appreciate the enclosed guide's clear-cut tips for a fun and successful STEM experience.

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Castle Logix

Building blocks are great, but if your preschooler is looking for a new challenge, the Castle Logix Puzzle Game ($30) will help them flex their logic muscles — and it'll no doubt teach problem solving, spatial insights, and cognitive planning skills to boot. The twist here is to assemble the three-dimensional block and tower pieces — of varying lengths and with holes not always in the same direction — into one of the castles included in the booklet.

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Toniebox

Parents only have so many minutes of the day they can spend reading to their kids, and the Toniebox ($100) empowers your up-and-coming reader with a screen-free digital listening experience that puts them in control of story time. Like podcasts for preschoolers, stories — and songs — can be selected by simply swapping out cute magnetic Tonie characters (the brand's got dozens to choose from) on top of the portable device. An Elsa figurine will tell the story of Frozen, for instance, and your kids? They'll be all ears.

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Curious Chef Kids Cookware Caddy

The benefits of teaching kids to cook are innumerable — they develop math skills, they watch science in action, and they learn the basics of nutrition, which can lead to a lifetime of healthy food choices (and, we can hope, less picky eating!). The Curious Chef Kids Cookware Caddy ($79) is the perfect introductory set for kids, with each utensil — including the three nylon plastic knives, a pizza cutter, and a veggie peeler — carefully tested for functionality and safety.

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KiwiCo Crates

Yes, KiwiCo Crates ($20 per month) are available for all ages, but the magic really begins once your kids can read on their own. Whereas earlier ages can build and discover alongside a parent helper, there's no greater feeling for a busy parent than being able to hand over one of the green cardboard boxes — filled with science and art projects that will result in a functioning pinball machine, paint pendulum, or balloon-powered race car — to their elementary schooler and watch them succeed at every step all on their own.

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Squigz

Most parents shudder at toys that tout being able to stick to any surface, but Squigz ($26) suction construction toys can affix to bathtubs, windows, lockers, and desktops and be popped (literally — fans say the "pop!" sound is infinitely gratifying!) off without ever leaving a trace of their presence. In addition to providing creative play, schools often use these dishwasher-safe silicone suckers as useful tools in promoting both relaxation and sensory stimulation. Two wins for the price of one!

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Cleary Hedgehog Single Speed 16-Inch Bike

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is trying to teach their kids to ride a bike on one that is simply too big for them. The Cleary Hedgehog Single Speed 16-Inch Bike ($390) is actually built with first-time riders — who feel safest with their bottom on the saddle and their feet flat on the ground — in mind. This model was also designed with a freewheel, allowing kids much more rideability than a coaster bike, and with hand brakes. Both details make a big difference!

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Obuby Toys Walkie Talkies

It's amazing what a little space and a solid radio frequency can provide for a kid! Obuby Toys Walkie Talkies ($30) are a perfect first step in giving your kids some freedom to explore while staying connected. The small profile of these brightly colored walkies makes them easy to use in small hands, and the uncomplicated push-to-talk button is fail-proof. Sure, they'll say "over and out" roughly a thousand times in a 20-minute time span, but it certainly adds a new layer to outdoor adventures.

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National Geographic Mega Gemstone & Fossil Dig Kit

For the rock collector of the family, this National Geographic Mega Gemstone & Fossil Dig Kit ($25) is the ultimate hands-on expedition. Not only does the extra-large brick of dirt supply hours of play time (*ahemindependent geological discovery) with the help of a chisel, brush, and magnifying glass, but the end result is also a collection of 20 genuine excavated specimens that are, according to NatGeo, millions of years old.

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A Kids Book About

How do you even begin to explain cancer to a child? What about systemic racism? Anxiety and depression? Climate change? It might seem like they're not ready, but the A Kids Book About ($20 per book) series breaks down complicated concepts in ways kids can actually grasp — and serves as an essential conversation starter for families. Thanks to diverse authors who are experts in their respective fields, the short, well-designed books should be required reading for anyone searching for a more inclusive, understanding community.

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