The Best Advice on Children's Products


Meet Mary and Julie from Tubby Table Toys

Family Photo 300 ppi

A Play Surface In The Middle of the Tub!

Mary Barney and Julie Gibbs are the Mom-preneur founders of Tubby Table Toys. They met in their late 20s at the company where they both worked, and spent the next 10 years building careers. They both loved kids so as they approached their late 30s they decided they better do something about it-fast. And with help, they they were lucky enough to have boy/girl twins, Sam and Maddy. They were six weeks early, weighing about 4 lbs each, and Sam spent an extra week “cooking” in an incubator. He didn’t want to come out yet, but Maddy was ready so she led the way. Now they are strong and healthy and Sam is 5’ 9” tall, weighs 145 lbs and he’s only 13!

As the moms of twin toddlers, they quickly experienced both the joys and “uh oh’s” of bath time. Let’s face it, kids love water play. It’s not only soothing, but also a whole lot of fun. For parents, the soothing feeling can be replaced with one big headache. Kids love to pour and fill, wash and splash – inevitably most of that water ends up all over the bathroom floor. So as moms with twins, they had a double soaking. That’s how and why the Tubby Table was created. It was Mary’s idea as she got tired of cleaning up the bathroom floor every night. The Tubby Table gives kids a play surface in the middle of the tub, allowing the water to flow back into the tub instead of all over the bathroom floor.

The Tubby Table is not only fun, but educational as well. They integrated multi-colored and numbered shape cups to help reinforce key fine motor, cognitive and developmental skills such as counting, sorting, color differentiation, as well as cause & effect, and filling and pouring. Kids will have a blast learning as they play, and it allows for siblings to play together in the bathtub and share a play surface. They tried to think of everything with our first product, but once they put it out on the market, parents and bloggers gave us some great ideas. So, now they have a new Tubby Table that adds a water wheel, a surface to build Mega™ or Duplo™ blocks, and it now folds for easy storage. The Tubby Table suctions to the bottom of the bathtub and the leg adjusts to the height of each child.

The Tubby Table was designed from the ground up to not only be safe & sturdy, but also fun and kid friendly and family friendly on every level. After having worked in corporate jobs for 20 years, they were anxious to use their brains for their own company and make something that was helpful and solved a problem. Their kids are 13 now, and instead of bathtime woes they have teen hormone angst. And they miss the toddler years, of course, and believe it or not they look forward to being Grandparents. Their kids tell them not to rush them but they’re older Moms with young kids so they hope the kids don’t wait until they’re 40 like them to have their grandchildren!

View Tubby Table Toys’ entire product folio.

Nightbuddies: Award-winning Plush Toys for Bedtime

Is bedtime trouble with your toddler?
This plush toy is for you.

A recipient of Dr Toys Best Picks along with multiple awards for Best Plush Toy of 2014 & 2015 NightBuddies® in Napa, California, is a toy company offering soft sensory plush toys for children three years old and older. Afraid of the dark? Ease your child’s fear of going to bed with this cute collection of cuddly stuffed characters whose eyes light up, a soft sensory sensation, creating an emotional response unlike any other plush.


Bedtime can often be a scary and lonely part of a small child’s day, said Sally Connolly, Napa mother of two and creator of NightBuddies®, an ultra-plush cuddly friend to share with kids as young as three years old. “What makes NightBuddies so special is the soft backlit eyes,” she said. In our first generation “It’s this illumination that truly brings the characters to life with a soft magical glow giving a level of connection for children. With a simple hug, children can activate the illuminating eyes whenever they need comfort and companionship while going to bed.”

With 6 mommy/daddy size characters to choose from, all at s/r $19.99, and 4 baby buddies at s/r $11.95, along with 4 new Bed Bugzzz finger puppet night light play just launching now at s/r $11.95 Connolly is confident that there is a friend for every child. Patent #7,566,258 B ensures it is a proprietary product, toys are tested by toddlers. NightBuddies® guarantees to be soft safe, and cuddly a nighttime child’s best friend.

From submitting the request for a provisional patent in 2004, less than a year after getting the idea, to actually receiving a utility patent five years later in 2009, Connolly admits the journey to this point has not been easy. “The patent process was changeling and difficult to keep pushing forward, showing the patent office what makes NightBuddies® unique,” she said. “It was an uphill battle but patent issued in 2009 with back up patent issued in 2011.

Since officially launching NightBuddies® at the Atlanta Gift Show in 2013, Connolly has taken them to several trade shows throughout the country. She said she has received super feedback from parents as well as 8 toy awards. “We have had a successful launch,” Connolly said. “We are currently working with Fiesta Plush for manufacturing and excited to start our dream of international sales”. Connolly shared, she has a vision for a platform where parents around the world share stories on raising children, sharing in our commonalities, not our differences. Connolly stated, “At age two our imagination starts to develop, we can ‘all’ be afraid of the dark, wouldn’t be great to share more love & light around the world. We are all from the same race, under the same moon, the same stars, the same place, the human race.” Now with interest from other countries Connolly is so eager to get started on that.” Asia, Japan and Malaysia are ordering.

We need South America, Africa and Europe, Connolly said that “it’s going to be interesting to see if we can connect all the dots and share NightBuddies® around the world. The whole thing is about connecting, and sharing stories, building global communities.”

Connolly admits that while she feels accomplished receiving the patent, she is proudest of how her children have been influenced throughout this journey.

From designing the characters, writing poems, to going on trips to China to source manufacturing, Connolly kept her sons, Wes and Austin, fully immersed in the process of making NightBuddies® a reality. Austin just interviewed for the US Embassy internship in Beijing, we could not be more proud of him.

“It’s kind of a crazy process, but fun to learn. For me, it has all been a lesson and exposing my boys to entrepreneurship and global responsibility in the business world,” she said. ‘social entrepreneurism’ before we knew that name, we called it ‘mom entrepreneurism’ “It’s been a fun process all these years while raising my boys, who are doing fantastic in school and business.”

Along with global distribution, Connolly said she has big dreams to expand into licensed characters. “I would love to get into licensing. I believe this application is sweet and special. Kids really react to the illuminating eyes and this patent is perfect for so many characters on the market today,” she said.

As for now, Connolly said, “I’m very confident with where I’m going with NightBuddies® but there are no guarantees in entrepreneurship. The only guarantee is to try to enjoy what you do. For me, it is about sharing the love and companionship NightBuddies® bring and teaching my kids to go for it and not let fear hold you back.”

Our baby buddies introduction hashtags ~

#followyourowncurrent #swimwiththesharks #itsnotalwaysblackandwhite #reachforyourdreams

Cuddle up tonight! Sweet dreams happen with NightBuddies®.

View NightBuddies’ entire product folio.

mOre: Powerful Lessons In Peace

from award-winning game designer John O’Neill


The game “mOre” is the latest creation of John O’Neill, an artist and award winning game designer whose works are powerful vehicles to experientially explore values, conflicts, and tensions inherent in life situations, and discover how the actions and beliefs of the players affect others. “This game, whose subject deals with halting the cycle of war, is the most difficult game I have ever made. Providing an incentive to change a pattern people have accepted as valid, no matter how negative the effect on others was the challenge,” O’Neill says.

mOre showcases the need humans have to obtain “more” to give meaning and purpose to their lives. Will “more” be obtained at the expense of others or is it possible to be jolted awake to the effect of your actions on another human being, feel compassion and embrace him/her in a bigger picture to experience even “more”? As you play the game you’ll find yourself confronted with the choice to compete for territory with a fellow player/neighbor in the old way of conquering or by uniting with him or her at a soul level to create homes together. As an elegant metaphor, this game presents opportunities to experience a way to be true to your higher self that also benefits your neighbors.

Artist often strive to offer a new perspective or a new insight to make the world a better place by expanding consciousness, but O’Neill has gone beyond the confines of a film or a book or a painting to place you inside an experience where you can feel what it’s like to come to a solution that provides emotional satisfaction, inspiration, and a balm for the soul. He does this by plumbing a situation to its depth, distilling it into a metaphor, creating symbolic pieces and creating a compelling strategy. Educated in both art and spiritual disciplines, O’Neill designs games for players to use as contemplations on life and its’ meaning in the way painters explore the appearance of things by painting them. He has exhibited as a painter and printmaker, published interactive books and cards, playing cards, rainforest shrines, video and board games in both the U.K. and the U.S.

View Gamewhy’s entire product folio.

Dr. Toy’s Smart Play/Smart Toys

Dr. Toy’s Smart Play/Smart Toys: How to Select and Use the Best Toys & GamesFourth Edition on Sale Now!

A child’s ability to play is more than fun and diversion; play is critical for his or her emotional, physical, creative, and intellectual growth, and teaches everything from social skills to critical thinking. For the developing mind, learning to play is paramount — but is your child getting the most from playtime? Learn to expand your child’s ability to be playful, and increase PQ.

Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, affectionately known as Dr. Toy, has dedicated a lifetime to the importance of play, and evaluating toys, games and children’s products. She offers special advice on which types of toys and games to buy for baby to older children and how to best use them. She also provides play pointers, child development principles, and many useful resources.


You’ll learn:

  • How to be your child’s “Play Guide.”
  • How play can strengthen confidence, maturity levels, and thinking.
  • Benefits of play with toys, games, and many other objects to expand playfulness.
  • Criteria for selecting the right playthings to match each child’s needs.

You’ll get practical advice:

  • Evaluating toys and games to select those most beneficial.
  • Supplies to always have available to encourage play.
  • Selecting principles based on Dr. Toy’s Best Children’s Toys and Products.
  • 200 invaluable suggested playtime activities for fun over a lifetime!

drtoyauerbachStevanne Auerbach, PhD, author of 15 books, evaluates toys, games and children’s products for the original, popular, award-winning website, Dr. Toy’s Guide (this website).

Published by Regent Press, Berkeley, California
Distributed by Ingram and Baker & Taylor
Available online: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et. al.
Customized Edition available:
Contact Mark Weiman, Regent Press, 510-845-1196
Paperback / $19.95 / ISBN 978-1-58790-275-8
E-book / $9.95 / ISBN 978-1-58790

Light Up Your Bikes with Wheel Brightz!

Eric Finch was just 12 years old when he imagined having his bed lit from underneath, like the cars in The Fast and the Furious. A neon glow that would fill his room with light. However, something like that would cost money he didn’t have. So Eric turned to his electrical engineer dad, Ron, and asked him to create a light of their own. One that was safe and inexpensive. After many experiments, Ron proudly presented his creation to his son. Eric took one look at the tiny box, powered only by AA batteries, and knew this wasn’t meant to go under his bed. Eric grabbed the box, ran past his dad and said, “This is cool! Let’s put it on my bike!”


Father and son attached the LED light to a bar on Eric’s bike. Eric took it out for a spin and since the sun was nearly set, its glow attracted the attention of the neighborhood kids. They all wanted to know where they could get a cool bike light for themselves. Eric and his dad set out to perfect and duplicate their first vision and product, find a way to get it manufactured in bulk, and market it to local stores near their hometown.

Since releasing its first product in early 2010, Brightz, Ltd. has created a variety of styles and colors. Brightz product line can be found on the shelves of local, specialty, and national stores across America. Your kids will love riding their bikes around the neighborhood with their brightly lit bikes! Be Cool! Be Seen! Wherever you go!

  • Light up your bikes with Wheel Brightz
  • Wheel Brightz come in 8 colors, kids will have fun mixing and matching colors
  • 20 diamond bright MicroLED lights stay lit while pedaling or at rest
  • Lights are completely waterproof
  • Wheel Brightz are affordable and easy to install, requires 3AA batteries
  • Perfect for tweens, birthday gifts, stocking stuffers, Easter baskets and all around fun!
  • Be Cool! Be Seen! Wherever you go!

Peaceable Kingdom: A New Way To Play

Peaceable Kingdom has a mission – to teach kids to cooperate by playing board games. This winter, Peaceable Kingdom will launch five new cooperative board games. The collection includes Count Your Chickens, Hoot Owl Hoot, Lost Puppies, Mermaid Island and Stone Soup. Ideal for children three years of age and up, the games focus on socialization skills in a cooperative, group play setting. The games retail for $14.99 each and will be available at select retail stores nationwide and on

Unlike traditional games where there is one winner and one (or many) losers, with cooperative games the players work together against a common obstacle, not against each other. Cooperative games create a feeling of community organically, and build healthy relationships as they encourage kids to help one another. Kids learn to work and play together in respectful and compassionate ways. They learn to share, make decisions together, and trust one another. If the game is lost, the defeat is shared equally among the players. And, if the game is won, everyone is a winner!

“At Peaceable Kingdom, we’re not educators or therapists,” says company President, Donna Jaffe, “we are moms and aunties, caregivers and game players. We created these particular games because we believe games are a wonderful way to teach and we want the kids in our lives to learn that working and playing together can be empowering and fun!”

Working together for the good of the group positively influences social dynamics in school, on the playground, and at home. Sharing toys, taking turns, being part of a group project all involve cooperation and cooperation takes practice. The challenge in a cooperative game is not “What can I do so I win,” but “what can I do so we all win!”

Dr. Lisa Striar, School Psychologist and mom of three children says, “In my opinion, the game’s ability to stimulate compassion in kids is one of its best assets. Our family loves to play games. However, when one child has a small defeat, the other children rejoice because it means they are closer to winning. In a cooperative game, when one player has a small defeat the other players feel empathy. They are truly sorry and may even offer a bit of consolation and encouragement. When you are all in it together, compassion comes naturally.” (more…)

Letter Books: Connecting Kids to their Family Roots

from Treasured Passages

by Whitney Biggs, Co-Founder

Treasured Passages will tell you they are on a crusade to bring back love letters. You know, the handwritten, pen to paper, stamp and envelope kind of love letter. So they created the Letter Book, and they believe it’s the most meaningful gift you could possibly give your mother or daughter this Mother’s Day. They do suggest, however, having tissues on hand when giving the gift.

When Treasured Passages co-founder Whitney Biggs was faced with the untimely death of her mother, she grieved because her children would never know their grandmother. She knows how important family artifacts are because she lost the chance to create more of them with her own mother. Whitney says, “Knowing where and who I came from gives me a sense of family and belonging even though my mom’s not here anymore.” Whitney and her two partners Sabra Miller and Janice Maples decided to create the Letter Book for Mother and Daughter to help others make and save memories.

A Letter Book is a book that is shared between two people.


The book includes over 30 cards and envelopes, that when completed, will have created a stronger bond and chronicled the relationship of the two people sharing the experience. The cards are actually tucked throughout the little nooks and crannies of the book creating a treasure chest of sorts.

The Mother and Daughter book has had phenomenal success, even amongst very tech savvy women, who love the vintage look and the idea of connecting with their moms or daughters through pen and paper. These letters can’t be deleted and can be passed onto their daughters. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Their books have been picked as favorite gifts by People Magazine, E! News, and NBC Today Show. The people have spoken…. BRING BACK LOVE LETTERS!

Treasured Passages has letter books for Mother and Daughter and Grandparents and Grandchildren. They also have “One Little Mailbox” designed for sending love letters to younger children and that won a 2014 Dr. Toy award for Top Ten Best Children’s Products.

Learn more about the Mother Daughter Letter Book.

View/Shop Treasured Passages’ entire product FOLIO.

Dr. Toy’s Best Gifts to Launch STEM Learning


by Stevanne Auerbach, P.D. “Dr. Toy”

As a parent you can help encourage and support educational play every day and help your child to be a more productive learner at home and in the classroom. While your child’s world expands you can help your child to be ready, and to grow, learn and develop to his or her fullest potential. An important part of the parent’s role is to guide, teach and encourage children to make the most of their after school and playtime hours.

The latest most important learning initiative involves STEM! That is education that supports Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to expand national awareness and improve abilities in these areas in schools, homes and workplaces. There is a growing support for more focus on STEM as an important area for improvement of students and for teachers and parents to also become better prepared and expand their knowledge in these essential areas.

We want to assist parents to know more about some of the best and most useful play products they can easily obtain to help their children gain more confidence and experience in these areas, and increase their skills for school now and improve future earnings. Many of these products have been developed in the Bay Area (see BA in the descriptions) and several of the products are made in America (see MA).

These are some of the latest and best products for a full range of STEM experiences. Download PDF

Dr. Toy’s Best Tech Toy Gift Round-Up


by Stevanne Auerbach, P.D. “Dr. Toy”

Dr. Toy selected an excellent array of tech products that offer interactive learning, skill building, and encourage activity. The balance of time spent learning, play and tech is essential for children’s maximum development.
According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study, American children spend an average of “almost 40 hours a week (equivalent to a full-time job) consuming media outside of school – including television, computers, radio, phones, and electronic games.” Most children have TVs, computers, phones, and game consoles readily available. They are exposed to advertising as they browse the Internet, play online games, and watch TV. Parents’ responsibilities are more challenging than ever.

Adults must find the right balance in children’s activities, and help them to not spend all day being sedentary playing on an app, video game, or other electronic products. We want, for many important health and social reasons, to encourage more active and open ended play for children. Children need a balance of reading books, building with construction toys, playing with board games, puzzles and being out of doors playing with friends, creative activities and following hobbies and interests.

Play is essential for everyone from the one-year-old baby to the one-hundred-year-old senior. How are you creating more varied playtime in your life, with your family?

The selected tech products offer many good choices for tech interaction, learning and great benefits if used wisely. Download PDF

Folkmanis Puppets: 35 Years and Going Strong!

Folkmanis® Puppets believes imagination is the key to a healthy childhood, encouraging play and discovery to develop the skills necessary in life. The company has been making the most innovative and engaging specialty puppets in the world since 1976, delighting imaginations and winning nearly every industry, child development, and kid-tested award, many repeatedly.

35 Years and Growing!


Conceived as a “cottage industry” business in Watertown, MA., in the late 1960’s and nurtured among the street vendors lining Berkeley’s famed Telegraph Avenue, Folkmanis® Puppets are the expression of Judy Folkmanis’ active imagination, sewing wizardry, and love of nature.

Creating her first animal puppets to entertain her own children, Judy was astounded when her unsung, but cuddly, creations began attracting a growing group of paying customers. Most often these were other parents who sought high play value from their toy purchases and an appreciation of the natural world for their children.

Joined in the burgeoning endeavor in 1976 by her Ph.D. husband Atis—who happily abandoned a career in biochemistry for pattern-cutting—the couple realized that launching a menagerie of carefully detailed and realistic animal puppets was their “right livelihood.” They hired several seamstresses and never looked back. The rest, as they say, is toy industry history – as Folkmanis’ line and renown grew by leaps and bounds.