Oh, Baby!
Hip, design-conscious gear for the new kid on the block
By Debra Simon
This is the first of a two-part series.

An urban-chic mom and dad push a stroller past graffiti-scrawled, decaying walls. Is it the aftermath of a civil war? Everyday life in the underbelly of Europe?
    Nope. It's the home page of a baby brand.
    The website isn't alone in its portrayal of parenthood as the hippest thing this side of tater tots. Creators of cool kid stuff like to show city-smart parents sporting sunglasses, black clothes and offspring.
    Innovative? Yes. But will it play in the Triangle? Sure!
    Carolina Woman readers are on-the-go professionals with high standards at work and high style at home. So, we poured over pampering products to find those that are on the leading edge in terms of both design and function.


Britax B-Ready stroller
Charlotte is the United States headquarters of Britax, whose versatile B-Ready ($500) is the Ferrari of strollers. No kidding! It's packed with a long list of qualities that make it a practical travel system, and it can easily be converted from a single to a double stroller. Available in a rainbow of colors, the B-Ready ensures a smooth ride for its occupant as well as ease for its operator. It's equipped with a removable seat that can be positioned forward or rear facing as well as an adjustable harness system and multi-position recline. There's an automatic chassis lock that secures the frame in a folded position and a rear brake that helps determine when brakes are locked or unlocked by red and green indicators.

Maclaren Techno XT buggy
Maclaren, which prides itself on producing dashing yet durable equipment, gave its Techno XT ($300) a tough aluminum frame and a removable, washable seat. The Mustang of strollers reclines in four positions and includes an extendable leg rest. It boasts a five-second, one-hand, umbrella fold, foot-operated linked parking brakes and flexible-length handles. The water-resistant hood tilts and has an extra panel for added sun protection.


Quinny Zapp-Xtra stroller
With its sleek design and compact fold, the Quinny Zapp Xtra ($300) is the Corvette of strollers. When paired with a Mico infant car seat (next page) from Maxi-Cosi, a sister company, it can be used from birth. The stroller showcases a reversible and reclining seat as well as decidedly maneuverable front wheels, which can rotate 360 degrees and are lockable. It comes with a sun canopy and shopping basket; accessories include a cup holder and umbrella.




JJ Cole Lite Bundleme
Acting like a summer sleeping bag inside strollers, car seats and joggers, the Lite Bundleme ($45) has a cushy, breathable inner fabric and a wind-, water- and sun-resistant nylon outer shell. Carolina Woman's New York correspondent tells us this is the "it" item for Big Apple babes.


Maxi-Cosi Mico car seat 
Maxi-Cosi’s drawing card is award-winning technology and safety. The Mico ($150), a rear-facing model, blends contemporary styling with top comfort and security attributes. Padding protects delicate skin from chaffing. The base includes an indicator that tells if the seat is locked in properly. Mico’s low profile, streamlined design and light weight make it as simple as ABC to carry.


Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL car seat
Sunshine Kids’ sporty car seat ($300) has the heaviest rear-facing capacity available – 45 pounds – to safely accommodate children up to the maximum age possible. The Radian series has passed rigorous crash testing thanks to its strong steel frame, aluminum-reinforced head support and protective foam. Its low profile makes child’s play of boarding.


Meeno Babies Cool Mee seat liner
Plan on placing a towel or blanket in the car seat to keep it fresh this summer? Fahgeddaboudit, says Meeno Babies. The Cool Mee seat liner ($30) surpasses standards for safety, moisture wicking, air flow, color fastness and durability. As a fun note, it was invented by a father for his first-born son, Meinoh Kim. Dad named the company after son, but under the spelling “Meeno.” Today, Meinoh, 30, is president!



BabyBjorn Original Spirit baby carrier
With eight bright choices for the single-color front and black shoulder straps, this transporter ($80) is a delightful way to tote a tiny one closely. Its ergonomic design provides the proper foundation for head, back and hips from birth. The head support can be folded down so that the kid may be carried facing forward when able to hold up his or her own noggin. The front piece can be opened entirely to lift out Sleeping Beauty.


Kokopax Eco-classic baby carrier
Celebs from Sarah Jessica Parker to Celine Dion use Kokopax’s premium carrier, the Eco-classic ($180). Upscale fabric makes it fab for the folks while comfy for their tykes up to 35 pounds. In its 3 pounds, the Eco-classic includes an aluminum frame, five-point harness, modifiable shoulder straps, sturdy kick stand, pocket with magnetic closure and padded hip belt.


Okkatots Front Baby Carrier
With Okkatots’ carrier ($100), the munchkin wears a separate pouch that goes on and off as simply as a diaper and extends two ways for a custom fit. Harness straps allow the munchkin to lean back for interaction and be lightly removed when catching some zzz’s. Padded shoulder straps and an optional waistband allow fine-tuning for adults.   


Baby Sense sling
Don’t just carry your bambino. Wear it! Really. The sling ($60) is designed to encourage the “wearing” of a baby in the optimal position. Its fluffy, breathable cotton cocoons the angel in a calming environment. 


Moby Wrap
Here’s a lovely way to stay tight with a bundle of joy while keeping both hands free. The design of the Moby Wrap ($50) uses a mature person’s back and shoulders to carry the little one’s weight. A wide piece of durable, stretch cotton that’s draped over both shoulders, Moby Wrap has no fasteners, so the fit is determined by how tightly the apparatus is wrapped.



Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper Bedside Bassinet/Playard
In this brainy concept, there’s no walking down the hall in the middle of the night to quiet tears. The Arm’s Reach ($210) began with a couple’s  discovery of the benefits of co-sleeping with their infant -- increased bonding, ease of feeding -- mixed with their concern that a bed isn’t appropriate for an infant’s space. Solution: Place their chip off the old block at the side of the bed! This product can be used in three modes: crib attached to the parents’ bed, free-standing bassinet and play yard. It can be tricked out with a canopy and other organic accessories.


Angel Dear blankie
The cornerstone of the Angel Dear franchise is softness that’ll make you sleep like a baby. Its blankies ($13) represent sweet, charming characters, such as goofy animals and loveable monsters. Enduring yet up-to-date, Angel Dear creations show attention to detail and lasting value.


Little Giraffe blanket
A star is born! Hollywood idols from Angelina Jolie to Gwen Stefani delight in the quality craftsmanship and sumptuous smoothness of the Little Giraffe chenille blanket ($65). This luxe item is ultra-plush yet practical because it’s machine washable.


Safety 1st  True View Color Video Monitor
Safety 1st ensures a private and clear connection to small fry with its color monitor ($160). Digital technology leaves less room for static to sneak in, allowing a mommy to feel as if she’s in the room with her petite dreamer. There’s auto infrared vision for night or darkened rooms, so the grown-up can always see what’s going on.





Undercover Mama tank top
After her fourth pregnancy, the inventor of the Undercover Mama tank top ($25) became frustrated with the lack of options she had for nursing-wear. She couldn’t find anything that kept her skin "undercover” while nursing, so she designed it herself. The strapless undershirt attaches to any nursing bra, which affords breastfeeding without exposing stomach or side.


Simplisse Gia angled breastfeeding pillow
The shape of the Gia pillow ($40) is meant to help with a wee diner’s digestion. The all-cotton, anti-bacterial, stain-resistant cushion can be used without a cover, but the available cases enhance the sophistication with a bit of whimsy.


Bebe au Lait nursing cover  
Bebe au Lait’s adorable yet functional cover comes in more than 20 patterns. It makes dinnertime a piece of cake due to its rigid neckline, which allows eye contact with baby.


Hygeia Enjoye breastpump 
The portable, convenient EnJoye ($320 in tote set) is a professional-grade double pump that’s designed for long-term and frequent needs, such as those of working women. It offers electric or battery operation with the included internal, rechargeable battery pack.


Lifefactory glass bottle
Lifefactory fuses modern sensibility and eco-friendly composition to produce glass bottles ($12-$16) with silicone sleeves that are free of harmful chemicals, including BPA, phthalates and PVC.


Pura Kiki stainless steel bottle
An infant bottle ($16) that can convert to a sippy cup, Kiki is made from antibacterial stainless steel and is free of dangerous chemicals.


Thermos Foogo Phases
This big name’s line of pint-sized drinkware features interchangeable parts, including removable handles on the soft-spout sippy cups ($8-$16).


DaBib bibs
Feeding a prince or princess can be a royal mess, so DaBib ($26) aims to catch every drip, drop and dribble. This crème de la crème of bibs has a patented scrunch neck, micro fiber terry front and waterproof backing as well as a reversible crumb catcher. Groovy names and patterns include DaGiggles and DaHugs.


Mutsy Easy Grow high chair
Mutsy, which brings a mod-Euro feel to its full range, counts Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner among its A-list customers. The cutting-edge high chair ($250) gives a young eater more than just a place at the table. Included are a tilting tray, bumper bar, seat reducer and five-point harness. Due to its versatile elements, the striking chair is a shape-shifter that can accommodate children from 6 months to 12 years of age.

Next month: Bathing, wearing, rocking, playing and traveling