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Product review: Strollers, toys and other itemts for family road trips and summer fun
With a 5-inch LCD flat-screen, the Summer Sharp View HD High Definition Video Monitor gives you some of the sharpest clarity youll find on any monitor currently available. - photo by Grant Olsen
The best family products out there merge performance and safety. Theyre intuitive enough that anyone can use them, while also working just as theyre supposed to. And theyre also designed well enough that you can take them on the road without any problems.

From strollers to toddler toys, this article looks at several products that can be used on summer vacation as well as in your home.

Intex My Baby Float


Though massive inflatable toys can be fun, theyre a nightmare to inflate and they tend to crowd out smaller pools. Sometimes the best option is the simplest one. The My Baby Float from Intex doesnt have a lot of bells and whistles, because it doesnt need them. It does its job beautifully.

As its name suggests, the My Baby Float is intended for the littlest swimmers. It features a large outer ring and smaller inner ring that give it great stability. Theres also a pillow backrest so your child can actively play in the water without any problem. Seat straps are one more way that it keeps children secure.

This float is 26.5 inches in diameter, so it inflates fast and can handily support your child in normal pool conditions.

Yada Backup Camera with 5" Dash Monitor


Backup cameras can add an extra layer of safety to your car, and this wireless model from Yada is a great option. It gives you rear visibility and can help reduce the risk of accidents. The night vision on the camera is fairly sharp, which is an added bonus.

The installation is fairly straightforward, with the option to power the camera either from the reverse tail light (recommended) or a 12V socket. Yada provides links to installation videos to walk you through the process if you need the extra help.

With its 5-inch color dash monitor, this camera gives you a wide-angle view. Simply mount the camera above your rear license plate and the rear image appears automatically when car is put in reverse.

Stokke Flexi Bath


This foldable bath is perfect for families with limited space in their home or apartment. When not in use, it folds down extremely thin and can be stored nearly anywhere. This collapsible function also makes it easy to take along on family trips. It doesnt take up much space when folded, but expands in an instant when you need it.

The Flexi Bath is recommended for children from birth up to four years. Its lightweight, yet roomy enough for your child to enjoy a comfortable bath. The design is sturdy so you can place your child in it with confidence.

Stokke also makes an optional Newborn Support, which can be added to make bath time even more comfortable for little ones. With its efficient design and solid structure, this is a great product for those who have need for a collapsible bath.

Britax B-Agile 4


The B-Agile 4 has the easiest assembly and set up of nearly any stroller on the market. Out of the box, itll take you less than five minutes to have it ready to go. The aluminum frame is lightweight and looks amazing.

Beyond the streamlined assembly, its also extremely easy to use. Every function on it is intuitive and it has a remarkably smooth folding action. In fact, its one of the few strollers out there that can actually be opened and closed with one hand.

The B-Agile 4 can handle children up to 55 pounds. It works with Britax infant car seats, as well as Graco, Chicco and Peg Perego when the optional seat adaptor is used.

The stroller has a five-point harness thats a snap to use. It also has large under-seat storage, linked rear wheel brakes and a removable canopy.

Tegu Skyhook Magnetic Blocks


As more and more toys become battery-powered gizmos with blinking lights and blaring sounds, its refreshing to see innovative toys that respect the way toys used to be. Tegu is a company that gets this. Their magnetic blocks are simple enough for any child to use, yet clever enough that they can provide hours of entertainment.

The Skyhook block set is part of Tegus Stunt Team collection. The goal of these toys is to revive the lost art of creativity. This set can be assembled into a helicopter, a ground rover or an endless list of other options. It comes with 17 pieces in 10 shapes, which are compatible with all other Tegu sets.

You should note that this set is recommended for children over the age of 3. It contains small magnets, so be careful with having it out around babies and toddlers.

Chicco NaturalFit Electric Steam Sterilizer


Because newborn babies dont have fully developed immune systems, many parents like to use a sterilizer for bottles and other items. The NaturalFit Electric Steam Sterilizer from Chicco is one of the better options on market. It has a great design and lot of features.

While some sterilizers use harsh chemicals to do the cleaning, this one uses steam to quickly eliminate germs, bacteria and viruses. All you need is tap water and youre good to go. Even without the use of chemicals, it still kills 99.9 percent of harmful household germs.

Using the NaturalFit Electric Steam Sterilizer is a snap. Theres just one button to start the cleaning cycle. You can load it with bottles, pacifiers, teethers and other items that may need cleaning. The top rack is removable so you can make space for taller bottles if needed.

Joovy Hook Chair


Some parents are nervous to use hook-on chairs for their children. They worry about the strength of the locking system and fear their children might fall. With the Hook, you can trust your child will stay put. The chair has an anodized aluminum frame thats super strong. It latches onto table or counter surfaces with non-slip rubber grips and wont budge.

The Hook is ready to go right out of the box. You just press the release buttons to open and close it. It has a three-point harness for added safety. The leatherette fabric is easy to clean and maintain.

The hook weighs 5 pounds and can hold children up to 37 pounds. Included with the chair is a zippered travel bag with a shoulder strap, so its easy to tote around.

Summer Sharp View HD High Definition Video Monitor


Summer has really upped the game with the Sharp View HD monitor. Its a top-tier monitor with lots of upgraded features. For starters, the 5-inch LCD flat screen gives you some of the sharpest clarity youll find on any monitor currently available. The picture quality really is amazing. Even the night vision, which often is subpar with other models, is crisp and clear.

Other features include two-way communication, temperature sensor, integrated nightlight and the ability to use up to four cameras with the same system. The wireless signal is strong and has a range of up to 600 feet. Its also 100 percent digital, so you dont have to worry about security issues.

The camera offers a wide range of vision, with panning, scanning and zooming; and the parent unit has sound-activated LED lights and video brightness controls, so its easy to customize it to your preferences. One final benefit that is appreciated is the out-of-range indicator, so you wont have to worry about exceeding the range of the camera and not being able to monitor your child.

Safety 1st Step and Go Stroller


Safety 1st strollers have always been high quality, but the Step and Go takes it to the next level. It boasts lots of amazing features and has a really impressive, modern look to it. First and foremost, the stroller gets its name from its unique step-to-open design. The idea is that busy parents can open the stroller even when their hands are full. Simply step on the pedal and youre good to go.

The Step and Go is convenient from the get-go. Its fairly easy to assemble and its design is extremely intuitive. The tires are high quality and ensure a smooth ride. The braking system is also solid.

The Step and Go comes with an onBoard 35 infant car seat, which is a real bonus. The onBoard 35 is a lightweight seat that features side impact protection and an adjustable harness to accommodate children from 4 to 35 pounds. Theres an in-car base that gives you adjustable recline angles, and when youre ready to swap the seat from the car to the stroller it clicks into place as smooth as can be.

Lakeshore Learning Building Language Discovery Boxes


Back in 1988, Lakeshore Learning started making education toys. Because their products were innovative and seemed to fascinate youngsters, lots of teachers began to use them in their classrooms. That same tradition continues today.

The Building Language Discovery Boxes are a popular choice from this brand. Theyre colorful and well-designed, with lots of dynamic elements to keep kids entertained. The set comes with four vinyl boxes that are filled with four objects each. These objects relate to the theme of each box and include things like a soccer ball, a teddy bear and a doll.

While simple in construction, the pieces in this set can help children learn sorting skills. As they learn the names for the different objects, it also aids in language development. The boxes and toys are all hand-washable and built to last.

Mobi SecureStart Monitor


The Mobi SecureStart is an affordable baby monitor option, though it lacks some of the features you might be interested in. The design is very straightforward, which is actually refreshing. It has a low-profile camera that doesnt stick out like some of the more ostentatious options on the market. The interface on the receiver is also easy to use, which is always nice.

Commendable features on the SecureStart include two-way audio, night vision and a full-color LCD screen. The night vision is impressive, which is crucial for a baby monitor, and the two-way audio is particularly relevant because Mobi has designed this monitor not just for children, but also for those who are caring for patients or the elderly.

As mentioned earlier, however, there are some limitations. The wireless connection only extends to about 400 feet, and if youre on a different floor than the camera its even less. Also, theres no temperature gauge on the camera. But if your situation doesnt require a long-distance wireless signal and a temperature gauge, this could be a good option.

Joovy Room2 Playard


Playards can be handy for parents, but are sometimes too confining for little ones. To remedy this problem, Joovy made the Room2 much larger than the other playards on the market. Its got more than 10 square feet of overall space, which is enough for your child to be as active as they want. In fact, with so much space, parents of twins have found it to comfortably accommodate both babies.

To make it easier for parents to keep on eye on their little ones from a distance, the playard has large mesh windows on the sides. This feature has the added bonus of helping your child feels less enclosed.

Supported by a steel frame and aluminum tubing, the Room2 is sturdy enough to last you many years. It has a low center of gravity, giving it an extremely stable base. All of the fabric is top-quality 600D nylon, which resists snags and tears. Included with the playard is also a 100 percent cotton fitted mattress sheet.

The Room 2 comes with a carry bag for easy transportation and, because it tips the scales at less than 30 pounds, toting it around isnt a big deal.

Skip Hop Chelsea Downtown Chic Diaper Bag


Toting around your childrens gear can be tedious. The bigger the bag, the heavier the load. Your options can be limited, because with multiple children there are a lot of items that youll need when youre out and about.

Skip Hop makes several high quality bags that boast a large capacity. The Chelsea is one of their best. It has eight external pockets and four internal pockets. The side pockets are insulated, which works wonders for bottles, sippy cups and snacks. Even with all the storage space, its still quite light and slim-profiled.

Its the extra features that really make the Chelsea nice. It comes with a cushioned changing pad, super-soft shoulder strap, stroller attachments and metal feet to keep it up off the ground. Plus, it has a stylish look that sets it apart from many of the other bags on the market.

Boppy Custom Fit Total Body Pillow


There are numerous options available when it comes to pregnancy body pillows, but very few of them are dynamic. Either they work for your body type or they dont. The Custom Fit is different because it comes in three pieces so you can adapt it for your needs.

Boppy included a physical therapist in the pillows development, so it is designed to deliver head/neck support, belly/back support and hip/leg/ankle support. The three segments can be arranged so they fit you best. The only issue with this versatility is the Velcro connectors sometimes dont hold the pieces together quite as snug as youd want.

The Custom Fit is machine washable, so keeping it clean isnt a problem. All in all, its a nice product that stands out from the crowd.

D-Link HD Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Baby Camera


If youre looking for a high-quality baby monitor, D-Link is always a good option. Their monitors are packed with advanced features and come at a reasonable price. The HD Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Baby Camera is one of their best models because it adds some new elements to D-Links traditional offerings.

To begin with, this monitor gives you great coverage with its panning and tilting. This is significant because some of D-Links other monitor models are stationary. The camera delivers 720p HD, ensuring crisp images. The night vision uses infrared LEDs and is also stellar.

Additional benefits include sound and motion detection, temperature sensor, two-way audio and built-in lullabies. Also, there a MicroSD/SDHC card slot, so you can record snapshots and videos of you child. You can even add personalized lullabies to the card and play it through the monitor.
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