These Mom Inventions Are Changing the Toy & Play Landscape
They say it takes a village and thankfully our tribe of moms is constantly churning out ways to help each other navigate parenting. Whether it’s inventions to reduce the daily amount of laundry, wooden baby toys that help with development or revolutionary lunch boxes that make kids excited to eat, moms have got each other’s backs. Keep scrolling to see the best mom-invented products for kids and babies.
Multicultural Play: ISH Dolls
When mom Amanda Ealla wanted to find a way for her kids to celebrate their diverse culture, ISH Dolls was created. These colorful plush dolls are designed to bring joy to children of all backgrounds and to introduce them to the avatars found in Hindu culture. This mom-owned business launched at the height of the pandemic in May 2020 with their first plush, Baby Krishna, and followed up with his companions Shiva, Lakshmi, Rama, and Sita, who will soon be joined by Durga and Saraswati (launching summer 2021).
Their clothing is designed to showcase the beauty of the culture while also empowering little ones. The Devi Collection features the goddesses Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati with uplifting words that encourage positivity and self-expression.
Nostalgia on the Go: Play Maysie
Created by single adoptive mom Kayla Lupean, Play Maysie is a portable, customizable world in a case for the pint-sized bunch. Noted as “everything a dollhouse should be,” this toy is a gender-neutral classic childhood favorite that is made for adventures. Play Maysie’s design was inspired by the nostalgia of vintage tin lunchboxes. It folds out on both sides to showcase interchangeable, magnetic rooms with fixed wooden furniture—built for frustration free play, less mess and no more lost pieces! With an eye on teaching sustainability, each Play Maysie is made of eco-friendly, renewable materials for indoor and outdoor play either at home or on the go.
At the core of the company's mission, for every three Play Maysie cases purchased, they will donate another one to a child who is entering the foster care system. Their hope is, with an integral sense of ownership, foster youth can open their Play Maysie case at any time to create an experience where they feel safe, secure, and in control during a time where nearly everything in their world is unfamiliar.
STEM For All: SmartGurlz & Smart Buddies
When Sharmi Albrechtsen became frustrated trying to find educational and fun toys for her daughter in 2015, she took her experience in consumer education for STEM companies and took a leap. Seeing a world of opportunity to inspire interest in STEM-related subjects through coding, digital learning and tech, Albrechsten started SmartGurls, which later led to the creation of Smart Buddies. Using a tablet or smart phone, Smart Buddies programmable self-balancing scooters that kids code to do all sorts of actions, like zoom and spin. The introduction to coding further teaches kids to create sequences, loops, events, conditionals, functions, and variables and most importantly, get excited about STEM!
Cognitive Development for Every Age & Stage: Lovevery
Co-founder and CEO Jessica Rolph came up with the idea for Lovevery after reading a doctoral thesis on infant brain development. Also a founding partner at Happy Family, the mom of three wanted to nourish her baby's developing brain as much as his body. In response, she began making her own toys for cognitive development at each stage. Now, Lovevery offers subscription boxes with toys, tools and information that gives parents the confidence they are helping their kids learn and grow.
Montessori Delivered: Monti Kids
When Zahra Kassam learned that 85% of a child’s brain is formed by age three, before they even go to school, she knew that she had to do something, especially being a new parent herself. So, she created Monti Kids, the only program for children 0-3 that gives parents in-home access to the Montessori curriculum. Via an easy-to-use subscription service, parents receive eight levels of age-appropriate toys, delivered every three months, with free access to online classes, one-on-one support and a private community moderated by child development experts and Montessori.
Mornings Made Easy: The Original Stretchlace
It was during the morning-prep-for-school chaos when Jamie Montz came up with the idea for the Original Stretchlace. She had three boys all in different stages of learning to tie their shoes—the oldest still needed help re-lacing high tops, the middle was mastering tying (at a less-than-ideal pace) and the little one wanted to ditch the velcro for laces like his brothers. Oh boy! Jamie knew there had to be a better way so she scoured the market for elastic laces that looked good enough and instead she found elastic laces with locks, clips, clasps and boring colors. That wasn't going to cut it so the Original Stretchlace was born!
Nail Polish You Can Feel Good About: Piggy Paint
Melanie Hurley's girls were the motivation behind Piggy Paint, and they continue to inspire her daily. She started Piggy Paint when they were two and four as she was always concerned about the chemicals found in traditional nail polish. She started looking for a safer alternative and couldn’t find any. Thus, Piggy Paint was born! Piggy Paint is non-toxic, virtually odorless and free of all harsh, smelly chemicals. This water-based nail polish dries to a hard finish that doesn’t wash or peel off—cruelty-free, vegan and kid-friendly!
Reduce Your Laundry One Towel at a Time: My Buddy Towel
Angelyn Myers, mom of six, turned the idea for My Buddy Towel into a product in less than a year. The Original My “Buddy” Towel® was created out of frustration (as are many good products)! Her daughter would always use three towels after a bath and Angie was tired of the unnecessary towel laundry piling up. She turned to Google to hopefully buy a solution. There were hooded kids towels, or bath robes, but she had already tried those with no luck. Angie needed something with full coverage, high absorbency that covered the whole body. She had frog and pink flamingo prototypes made and her daughter has only used one towel ever since—The Original My “Buddy” Towel®.
Picky Eater Solution: OmieBox
Nancy Yen has over 15 years of experience bringing game-changing new products to market, with a focus in the kids and baby space. At Gap Inc. Nancy did merchandising and consumer insights, as well as supported the development of new store concepts (BabyGap Home). With an MBA from Stanford Business School, it’s no secret that she’s a savvy businesswoman. But when her own son, was a picky eater and underweight, she came up with possibly her best business idea yet! Searching for a lunchbox that could hold both hot and cold foods, she found there was nothing on the market—and OmieBox was born. It’s an innovative Bento-style food container that features separate temperature zones! You can find OmieBox at Amazon.com and the OmieLife website.
Shop for one here: omielife.com
Love Conquers All: Love Powered Littles
Toronto moms Anna Lozano and Lindy Sood started Love Powered Co. in 2017 with the goal of improving the lives of families. After successful business careers, both moms wanted to achieve a better work-life balance, and also create positive change in the world using tools for mindfulness and compassion. They just debuted the Love Powered Littles Box Set, a set of 22 affirmation cards to help children affirm their own greatness—I am loved, I am compassionate, I am kind—and six bonus cards to help parents in this positive journey. These cards reaffirm children’s natural brilliance, power, compassion and strength. And we are betting they are going to be healing for parents too.
Lighting It Up: RunLites
Invented by an avid runner and working mother of three, Mary Tiffin created RunLites gloves and mittens because (like so many moms) she did most of her running and exercising at night and was frustrated by inefficient flashlights and headlamps. These gloves with built-in, rechargeable LED lights are comfortable, easy-to-wear and perfect for illuminating your path as you need it (and are also killer for helping you find stuff in the bottom of your giant purse). They are easy to spot and increase visibility dramatically. Tiffin also discovered that a glove with a built-in light added to her children’s visibility when walking at night or when waiting for the bus stop on winter mornings when it was still dark. They come in fingerless and full-gloved styles as well as mitten (and even a sling model for hotter months) and run from XS to larger sizes for adults and they even have a little pocket for you slide in cash and keys (We found the XS was a good fit for a child around 5 or 6, but it does depend on the size of your kiddo.). Prices range from $24.95 and up.
Step to Success: easyGokids
Inventor and mom Wendi Cooper will be the first to tell you: kids with dangling feet while going to the bathroom face a host of issues including pain and discomfort. Not to mention that many children experience constipation and without proper toilet posture, this can go from bad to worse. From numbness to difficulty pushing and strain, Wendi knew there was a better way and she knew she wanted to help. While there are plenty of bathroom footstools out there, this is the first of its kind to fit right up against any toilet and easily tucks away when not in use so it never gets in the way. It comes in four different colors and takes up barely any room compared to other clunky stools. It is “compact, cool and discreet.” Your kiddos can sit with proper toilet posture and relax, every time, just like nature intended. Retail price start at $26.99.
Literary Inclusion: Princess Cupcake Jones
Ylleya Fields was reading to her oldest daughter when she was surprised at how few books were available that featured African American characters. In response, the mom of four girls and two boys began writing her own stories that blended the personalities and physical traits of her own daughters into a lovable character: Princess Cupcake Jones. Now, the author has five books in her series, with an interactive website that features downloadable activities and merchandise all dedicated to her main character.
Read On: Literati Book Club
Problem: Parents want their kids to have exposure to new and engaging books, but with so many new releases and busy, busy lives, they don’t always know what to choose (or have time to choose them). Solution: Literati Book Club, a subscription book service founded by two busy moms who wanted to make sure kids could get vetted, awesome new books delivered right to their door. Kelly Carroll teamed up with Jessica Ewing and started Literati Book Club. They work with top-educators and librarians to hand-pick five beautiful new books every month with a fun theme (science, friendship, adventure, history, etc.). You select the book club based on your kids' age and development (up to nine years old) and the books come each month. You have a week to read them, decide what you want to keep, and send the rest back. You are only charged for the ones you keep. We love Literati so much we recommended it in our gift guide this year.
—Kate Loweth, Amber Guetebier, Erin Lem and Karly Wood
All photos provided by companies