Category Archives: Product

At-Home Toys Inspired by The Little Towns Children’s Museum

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.   She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ items as well as local explorations with little ones. See more of them here, herehere, and here.]

 

If you’re not ready to venture back into the DC area’s indoor play spaces, this post will bring one of my family’s favorite places to you. The Little Towns Children’s Museum opened during the pandemic and was somewhat of a secret until recently, with play sessions now filling up. The play space, designed for kids ages 6 months to 8 years, is modeled after a real town — and actual local businesses — with every storefront a child could imagine

Little Towns is more modern and impeccably detailed than some of the other mini town play places you may have been to. And the space is large yet contained, making it conducive to lots of independent play. You can follow your children around, or enjoy a moment of solitude in the café space. Along with limited capacity, Covid protocols include temperature checks, mask requirements, and sanitation between play sessions.

However, if you are keeping your activities to outdoor-only, I’ve highlighted our favorite features of the space below, along with at-home items they’ve inspired. Whether you’re ready to start your holiday shopping extra early, or just need more independent play — like asap — this list is for you.

 

The bakery, modeled after Georgetown Cupcake, is always the first place my kids go, and the one place they return to again before leaving.

At-Home: This Cupcake Party Game has been a long-standing hit in our home. My kids don’t actually play the game, they just put together the cupcakes—over and over and over again.

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After the bakery, my daughter always heads to the fire station to put on one of the complete firefighter ensembles.

At-Home: Dress-up has been an activity with the longest shelf life (pun intended) in my house. Mix up the princess dresses with dress up sets like this.

 

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The beauty salon is modeled after Drybar, and you’ll find little ones “styling” hair there with brushes, clips, and rollers for a surprisingly long amount of time.

At-Home: We paired this Elsa Styling Head with this Hair Salon Toy Kit to get lots of kid-initiated, independent play. The battery-operated, blowing hair dryer is a favorite.

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The kid-operated vehicles at Little Towns are my son’s favorite. He loops around and around the town until it’s time to let another patiently waiting kid have a turn.

At-Home: If you have a loop of open floor space in your home, I highly recommend an indoor-only vehicle. My best purchase of the year may be our plasma car, used for this purpose.

 

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The diner is the newest room at Little Towns and is so well done. Kids love to reverse roles here and serve their grown-ups—a nice change of pace, even if it is just pretend!

At-Home: Pretend food that kids can “cut” has been a winner for us, and is still one of our go-to quiet time activities. We have a fruit and veggie set; this set is fun too.

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A do-it-yourself grocery shopping experience is always a hit with little kids, and the grocery store at Little Towns is as real as the pretend ones get.

At-Home: Toy shopping carts have been a favorite of both of my kids at one point or another, more so than any other push toy. This pairs well with the pretend food mentioned above.

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The dance party room set-up for dancing and pretend DJing, takes the excitement up a notch—and is just so darn cool.

At-Home: We’ve had this kids microphone for several years and the magic of Bluetooth in a toy never gets old. This one with LED lights is great for older kids.

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Every kid must be the veterinarian at some point during their visit to Little Towns. They love to dress up and attend to one of the toy animals in the cages.

At-Home: Vet kits are maybe better for independent play than doctor kits, since grown-ups tend to be the patients for doctor check-ups. Stuffed animals can get endless check-ups!

 

What’s your child’s favorite pretend play activity? Share with us in the comments!

 

And if you’re up for out-of-the-house, in-person play…

The Little Towns Children’s Museum
Where: 4931 Wyaconda Road |North Bethesda, MD
When: Mon–Thurs, 9:30am–4:30pm; Fri–Sun, 9:30am – 7pm
Admission: $25/child for Open Play
*Reservations required (limited capacity); book in advance 

 

 

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Filed under Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Maryland, Preschoolers, Product, Shop, Toddlers

Summertime Must-Haves for Little Ones

[Note:  This post was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.   Along with being a great writer, she always has excellent recommendations for toys, books, and local explorations for little ones. See more of them here, here, and here.]

 

Summertime and the livin’s eas…ier. This weekend marks the official start of summer, and pandemic-era parents rejoice as the season brings infinitely more room to roam and water to splash in. But the muggy, buggy DC area climate can quickly damper even your greatest plans if you are not well-equipped.

Whether you are bringing your little ones to the local zoo and animal parks, the area’s best playgrounds and splash pads, your community pool, or the Maryland and Delaware beaches, it’s time to make sure your bases are covered with some summer staples.

I almost always venture out solo with my four- and two-year-olds sans stroller (read: no storage space). Given this, my summer must-have list for little ones must be edited. These are my “deserted island items” — the essentials for summer survival!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooler Backpack

I recently invested in some better warm-weather equipment for my role as “snack lady.” I replaced the traditional diaper bag with a backpack that was entirely insulated, because what else is even in there besides food? This small one fit the bill perfectly, and here’s a similar style with more pockets. I love this larger sized one too.

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Thermos Water Bottles

While we’re talking food and insulation, these thermos bottles are hands-down my favorite. The stainless steel is safer and cooler in the sun, and impossibly, ours still look like new after four months of use. There are lots of fun colors and character designs to choose from.

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Sunscreen (+Bug Spray)

The trick is finding one that little ones will let you near them with — because hell hath no fury like a child resisting sunscreen! A few ideas: 1) find one with appealing branding like this, 2) find one that includes insect repellent like this to kill two birds with one stone. Also consider a separate, no-tears option for the face.

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Compact Portable Potty

Admittedly, I haven’t purchased one—yet. But I have had to borrow one from a friend twice in the past month. I’m generally that parent finding the nearest bush for my child to pee behind, but sometimes nature is less squat-friendly. These potties are incredibly compact, and perfect for the more discerning parent and child.

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Water Shoes

The shoe of the season! Natives are the gold standard, but there are other more budget-friendly options like this and this that are suitable for all-purpose play. Crocs (and similar styles) are even better for quick on and off during backyard play.

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Strategic Swimwear

Kids bathing suits are not all created equal. For girls, nothing beats a two-piece suit like this or this for potty time and quick changes. For boys that aren’t potty trained, this one is a recent find and new favorite (similar to baby swim diaper suits you may be familiar with). Top it all off with towels that double as cover-ups.

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Sun Hats

Like sunscreen, the key is finding one that your little ones won’t resist with all their might. These bucket hats set the record for longest amount of time on my kids’ heads during a recent beach trip. They are breathable, secured with drawstrings, and come in a variety of colors and sizes.

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Portable Fans

Kids can go from playing contently one minute to unbearably hot the next. Portable fans come in hand-held designs like this and this that will appeal to little ones, and I’ve seen this one on many must-have lists for new moms. Added perk: fans are one of the best mosquito repellents.

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Buckets & Shovels

A good ol’ pail and shovel can get you far. On a recent beach trip, we brought everything—you name it, we had it. My little ones used small-sized shovels for 99% of our beach time. A set like this or this one (with collapsible buckets!) is perfect for the minimalist beach-goer.

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What’s on your summer must-have list? Tell us in the comments below!

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Filed under DC, Product, Product Review, Shop, Summer

The Whystle App: Consumer Safety Information Tailored to Your Family



When it comes to keeping up on the safety of toys, food, and other products consumed by children and families, there is a lot of information out there. However, not all of it is relevant to everyone in the same way, and it can be tedious to sift through it all to stay in the know on the concerns personal to you. This is why Whystle should be your next download.

Whystle is a new, user-friendly iPhone app that provides you with safety information and product recall notices that affect you and your family based on your personal profile selections. You provide info like allergies, kids’ ages, pets, and location to receive alerts relevant to you. Some examples: If you have a milk allergy, you’ll be alerted to recalls for undeclared milk. If you are pregnant, you’ll receive information and notices relevant to expectant parents, such as recalls due to foodborne pathogens. If you have young children, you can stay abreast of safety concerns relating to furniture that tips over or toys that pose choking hazards. And they are all conveniently collected in one handy place: “My Alerts.”

The service currently includes recalls from four government agencies: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can also opt to “Receive All Medical Safety Alerts” to get all notices from Whystle related to medical safety issues. And when Whystle identifies a particularly dangerous product or safety issue, every user will receive an alert in their “My Alerts.”

For busy moms and dads (and, really, that’s all of us), Whystle can be a valuable tool in cutting through a lot of the noise, making parenting safer and easier. It’s easy to use — just download the app on to your iPhone to get started!


This post is sponsored by Whystle, however, I only promote products, services, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under DC, Product, Professional Service, Sponsored Post

Drop into Kids Classes and Save with Pearachute!

Are you interested in finding new classes and activities for your child, but don’t want to commit to a whole session or even pay full price for each one?

Pearachute gets your family into the best kids activities and special events in the DC-Metro area — all at the touch of a button and all for one affordable rate. It’s never been easier to try out family yoga, drop into art class, or give soccer and ballet a go.

With Pearachute, families get access to over 85 kids locations in the DC-Metro area, including Gymboree, Moco Movement, My Gym, Kidville, Lil’ Kickers, Splashsafe Swim School, Busy Bees, Super Soccer Stars, District Dance, Fit4Mom, Tippi Toes, and so many more! View the full list of locations here.

How it works
Simply log in to the website or app and browse thousands of kids classes, special events, and more. You can filter activities by age, category, location, and several other preferences. Booking is as easy as one tap or click: Use your Pearachute credits to reserve your spot, and save as much as 50%. Then drop into the fun with your family — it’s that easy!

Membership Options
Families can subscribe and save with a monthly plan starting as low as $39 for 4 credits/month, or you can purchase credits a la carte. All credits can be shared among up to 5 kids and can be used to drop into any of the activities listed on Pearachute. View the pricing page here.

KidFriendly DC Discount
For a limited time, KidFriendly DC families can get $35 off any monthly plan or credit package using the code KFDC at checkout! Go here to register and take advantage of the savings.

Ready to discover your child’s interests, tackle your family’s bucket list, and create more meaningful moments? Visit the Pearachute website to learn more!

This post is sponsored by Pearachute, however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, Class, DC, Product, Professional Service, Sponsored Post