It’s tough being a parent, no matter what century you live in. Parents have it hard, and while there is more potential scrutiny now than there was even 20 years ago, we do have more technological advances that make our lives a bit easier when dealing with the kids than our parents did. I’m talking about cool gadgets for parents. There are new product announcements everyday, especially with things like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo existing. As far as gadgets that are aimed at parents, there are truly some helpful devices out there that will make your life a bit easier, but there are also frivolous contraptions and doohickeys like, say, Bluetooth pacifiers that monitor your child’s temperature or smart diapers (don’t go there).
So we’re here to separate the good from the bad when it comes to tech that will actually be helpful versus things you wouldn’t use as much as the manufacturers want to make you think. Without further ado, here are 20 cool gadgets all parents should own, from one parent to another.
1. Nutri Ninja Pro
One of the biggest challenges when dealing with being responsible for a child’s well-being is to get them to eat their damn vegetables — it’s impossible. Unless, of course, you know some tricks of the trade, like sneaking in veggies! One great way to sneak in veggies is with a Nutri Ninja Pro, a 900 watt nutrient & vitamin extractor that enables you to make great fruit and veggie smoothies that even your kids will love. It also allows you to make delicious frozen treats, dressings and allows you to mash up veggies so they’re nearly liquified so you can sneak them into your cooking. For example, when making burgers, blend some spinach and throw it into the ground meat, and not only is the flavor mild but your kids won’t see the spinach because the Nutri Ninja blends it so finely.
2. Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Juice Extractor
Buying juice at the grocery store can be scary when you start to read about what exactly is in them. Even brands that say 100% juice are misleading at times. For example, when Juicy Juice All-Natural 100% Juice Orange Tangerine turned out to actually not be 100% orange and tangerine juice, but mostly apple juice — and that’s one of the more acceptable deceptions. Consumers are constantly tricked by juice drinks and are led to believe that what they’re drinking is healthy even when it really isn’t. But if you want to take the guesswork out of buying juice and ensure that your children are getting high quality juice that is made from only fruits and veggies, a Breville Juice Fountain Juice extractor is the tool you should use. It has an 850-watt dual-speed motor and a powerful stainless-steel cutting disc for fast juicing. It’s also dishwasher-safe. With a Breville Juicer, you can also make fresh organic juices for a fraction of the price of pre-bottled juices in the store.
3. Amazon Fire HD Kids Tablet
If you’ve purchased a tablet for your kids in the past, you know that they pretty much break it as soon as you hand it to them. Usually what happens in my family is whenever I buy a new tablet for myself, my son gets my old tablet as his own. But there’s a better way: buy your child an Amazon Fire HD Kids tablet. Why? Because if your child breaks it, for any reason, Amazon will replace it no questions asked, thanks to the 2-year worry-free guarantee that comes with each tablet. The tablet has a quad-core processor and each Kids Edition comes with a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited which gives your child unlimited access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps and games at no additional cost. Sometimes, you need something to help keep them occupied so that you can get done what you need to get done, and the Amazon Fire HD Kids Tablet is the perfect short-term babysitter.
4. Oco Wi-Fi Video Monitoring Camera
The older your child gets, the less you’ll have to keep an eye on them. But if you want to start giving your child a little more independence but still need the peace of mind knowing that they’re still doing what they should be doing when you’re “not watching,” check out Oco, a Wi-Fi video monitoring camera that allows you to view a live stream of any room right from your smartphone. The Oco has a motion sensor and sound sensor that allows you to always keep track of what’s going on in your house when you’re not around. It has quite a number of uses for parents, including the ability to notify you when your kids get home safely from school and the ability to allow you to talk to anyone in the room that the Oco is in remotely (if you’re a working parent). This useful gadget will allow you to keep an eye on things no matter how close or how far you really are.
5. Boon GLO Nightlight with Portable Balls
This is one of the best gadgets I can recommend to other parents: the Boon Glo Nightlight with Portable Balls. These little orbs change colors or allow you to select whatever color you’d like for your child. The balls emit a green glow for up to 30 minutes after they’ve been removed from the base, allowing you to play a short game of nighttime catch. These are also great for when your child has to get up at night for a trip tot he bathroom as they can simply remove one of the glowing orbs from the base and take it with them to light their way.
Price: $53.80 (23 percent off MSRP)
6. Sylvania Portable DVD Player
If you’re planning a long car ride, an absolutely necessary tool for any parent is a portable DVD player. Since you can’t watch Netflix on the go, and your parents aren’t buying their grandchildren digital releases, pick up a Sylvania Portable DVD Player, the highest rated portable DVD player on Amazon. It’s not exactly ground-breaking technology, but it does exactly what it should — play DVDs. It also has USB and SD card slots in case you do actually have some digital content your kids want to watch, and it has a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery so you don’t have to worry about the plug. Charge it before a long car trip, and it’ll last for about 2.5-3 hours (or roughly two kids movies).
7. TrackR StickR
If you’ve got a typical parent’s mind, you forget where you put things constantly. Where are the keys? Where did you put your wallet? Where is your phone? Trackr solves that problem. It is a quarter-sized device that can be fastened to any item, and then users are able to use the companion app to find whatever the device is attached to. When you lose your wallet, you simply pull up the app on your smartphone and you can make the StickR beep. You can also set up the app to alert you when you venture too far from it, and can use the TrackR StickR to also find your phone, even if it is on silent. It works with both iOS and Android. Undoubtedly, you can think of more than a handful of things your children are constantly losing.
8. Nextdoor App
Do you let your kids take their bike down the road to play with their friends, but still have that constant feeling of worry? Join Nextdoor, a free, private social network for you, your neighbors and your local community. With Nextdoor, users can easily connect with their neighbors about important matters in your neighborhood, giving those that might not otherwise speak the platform to do so. Users can quickly get the word out about break-ins, recommend a trustworthy local babysitter, ask for help finding a lost dog, or even find a new home for an outgrown bike. And, best of all, it’s free. Sign up now to see if your neighborhood uses it.
9. Graco Vibrating “Baby” Monitor
If you’re like me, sometimes you just want to throw on your Xbox One headset and play some video games after the kids make their way to bed (we all have our own way of winding down at night). But the problem with that is that you won’t be able to hear your children if they wake up during the night. What you need is a Graco Vibrating Baby Monitor that not only monitors sound in your child’s room, but also vibrates ferociously when sound is detected. And, there is a visual sound meter on the front of the monitor that lights up when noise is detected. Now, you don’t have to rely on your ears, and you can focus on listening to the game you’re playing.
10. Westinghouse Unplug Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
It’s undeniable that kids love dancing and music. And what better way to create an impromptu dance-off than with an easily connectable (and powerful) wireless speaker, like the Westinghouse Unplug Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. This small speaker packs a punch, and connects easily and quickly to any Bluetooth smartphone or tablet. I use mine constantly to create a more musical environment for my children, like when we’re making dinner together or doing crafts.
Price: $44.99 (70 percent off MSRP)
11. Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System
Depending on how young your children are, you should probably have a Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System. This small gadget helps create an ideal sleeping environment for your baby or toddler by playing Mozart, Twinkle Twinkle, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and other lullabies, as well as white noise or rain. It also emits a cool, relaxing blue glow.
Price: $19.00 (41 percent off MSRP)
MagBak is the world’s thinnest iPad mount that you can use to mount your iPad to any metal surface. They’re little pieces of rubber that attach to the back of your iPad, and they contain powerful magnets within that allow you to attach the iPad to any metal surface, like your refrigerator! Mounting your iPad to your fridge helps keep the iPad safe while you and your child are cooking in the kitchen and following a recipe.
Notion is a home intelligence system that was recently funded on Kickstarter that uses a small, smart, multi-function sensor to detect quite a significant number of things in your home: a water leak, when a door/cabinet opens and closes, temperature and sound. When any of these things are detected, Notion will send a message to your smartphone (works with both iOS and Android). For example, if you place a Notion on your front door, it can tell you if someone knocks, if the door is opened, or if it doesn’t get shut. Its potential uses are incredible. If you put it on, say a liquor cabinet, it can tell you when that cabinet is opened. It also has a temperature sensor and can tel you if your house is getting too hot or too cold when you’re away from home. It isn’t yet available, but it is expected to ship in July.
Price: $99 for 1 Hub and 1 Sensor
14. Bunch O Balloons
You know what’s better than a few balloons for a water balloon fight? A 100 balloons for a water balloon fight. But filling them all up with water and then tying them one at a time is a major timesink. But a company has set out to rectify that issue. Introducing Bunch O Balloons, which allows you to fill up 100 water balloons that are ready to use in just one minute. You simple connect the attachment to a hose, place it over a plastic tub/bucket, and fill. The balloons fill up in seconds, and are automatically tied. So get your kids ready for a water balloon war and pre-order Bunch O Balloons for $17.00 and they’ll ship in April 2015.
Price: $17 per bunch
15. Kidokey WiFi box
Kidokey is a WiFi box that empowers your kids to explore the internet safely without any unwanted distractions or sites that you don’t want them to see. Every website and app your kids can access has been filtered by a team of people, with hundreds of thousands of sites reviewed by human eyes and not a computer program. You can also set time constraints on when your children can access the network. The kicker? All you have to do is plug it into your router and you’re ready to go with its most basic features. So if you want safer internet for your kids without having to filter websites yourself through your own complicated router, check out the KidoKey WiFi box.
16. AmazonBasics 12-sheet Paper Shredder
Kids are nosey beings, aren’t they? Ever catch your child reading your mail? I have. Many times. If you’re like me, you want to keep all of your financial papers away from your children as to not give them something else to worry about. When you’re done with your financial paperwork, take it all to the AmazonBasics Paper Shredder. It is an essential gadget for privacy, especially if you have a home office. Instead of leaving the papers on a desk or in a folder somewhere, just shred it up and get rid of it for good.
Price: $46.75 (15 percent off MSRP)
17. Wishbone Thermometer
Taking a child’s temperature is a tough task for any mom or dad, which is why Joywing Tech is developing a smarter thermometer than the one we’re currently all
using not using because we can’t find it. It’s a simple, small device that plugs into your smartphone’s headphone jack and measures your child’s temperature in seconds without the need to actually touch him/her. The project was just funded on Kickstarter three days ago, so it’s not out yet, but it’s coming soon.
18. Yonanas 987 Elite Healthy Dessert Maker
Getting your kids to eat healthy is next to impossible, especially if they KNOW what they’re eating is healthy. But one great way to sneak them some goodness is with a Yonanas 987 elite Healthy Dessert Maker which creates delicious desserts using bananas and other fresh fruits. The result from this machine is a soft-serve like ice cream, minus all of the preservatives and whatever the heck else those companies put in their ice cream. Have more control over the healthy desserts your children eat. I use it at least once a week for my kids. And yes, you can add chocolate.
Price: $95.90 (26 percent off MSRP)
19. Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer
If you’re constantly feeding your kids spaghetti because its quick and cheap, there’s another healthier option out there: “spaghetti” made with veggies. To make veggie spaghetti, check out the Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer which is a 4-Blade vegetable spiral slicer. It allows you to make long spaghetti-like strands from veggies like Carrots, squashes and cucumbers. It’s great for both hot meals and cold salads, and is a fun way to get your kids to eat healthier (let them help).
Price: $23.95 (52 percent off MSRP)
20. Kalorik Fun Smores Maker
Not all gadgets for parents have to help you to make your child’s life healthy — fun is important, too! Check out the Kalorik Fun Smores Maker (hey, it even has fun in the name) which allows you to make smores safely with your kids, without the flame. It includes a tray with 4 compartments for your chocolates, marshmallows and graham crackers and includes 4 forks to roast the mallows with. So let your kids make some smores after dinner!