Friday, May 31, 2013

"Painting" the Deck with Water: Super-Simple Outdoor Toddler Fun!

On Day 3 of our 30-Day Outdoor Play Challenge, I stumbled upon an activity that was dirt-easy to set up, mess-free and totally immersed our 2 1/2 year old daughter S for a good 15-20 minutes. Plus, it got her practicing a valuable skill that could come in handy a few years down the road! ;)

"Painting" the Deck with Water!

- Container filled with water
- Paintbrush(es) (You could provide a few of different sizes)
- Deck! (Or, in lieu of this, a patio, fence, etc.)

- Place toddler, container filled with water and paintbrush(es) on deck.
- Observe! (You may need to remind toddler to periodically re-dip brush.)

This activity evolved out of a different one involving jumbo marshmallows in a tub of water. Surprisingly, my daughter grew bored of the marshmallows quickly and started spritzing the water onto the deck with her hands. Hooking her up with a chunky paintbrush was the logical next step!

She proceeded to "paint" lines, zigzags, big wet splotches and other shapes, chatting to herself almost the whole time. She had so much fun (and it was such a no-brainer to set up) that we repeated it tonight!

** Update **  It's 2 days later, and S has now requested to "paint" the deck for 4 straight days! (And probably counting.) We had to turn her down this morning as it was about to rain. Yesterday I gave her a small dish sponge which allowed her to paint chunkier sections at once, and a finer brush for more detailed designs. It's official - this is a Must Do activity for every parent out there with a toddler!!

So tell me - what easy & fun outdoor activities do your own kids enjoy?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

30-Day Outdoor Play Challenge! #opchallenge

Back in February, I issued a Creative Kid Challenge which involved doing a different creative craft or activity with one or more children for 30-days straight. I took this up with my (then) 26-month-old daughter, and we had a blast! I ended up writing a blog post on the top 10 sensory activities we tried out.

Now that the weather is warm (for the most part!) my daughter's outside a lot. Hubby put together a "fun center" for her in our backyard comprised of a sandbox, play house, slide/swing combo and other toys, and she loves it! However, she often ends up playing alone with me on the sidelines feeling I should get in there and play directly with her, but not quite sure where to start. As such, I took to Pinterest (which originally inspired our #ckchallenge) to gather ideas for creative outdoor play. As expected, my search turned up all kinds of goodness which prompted me to take up (and issue, for anyone else who's interested) a new challenge - a different outdoor play activity every day for 30 days!

The rules I'll be attempting to follow are similar to my Creative Kid Challenge with a few amendments:
  • Each day of the challenge must have a different activity
  • All activities must be enjoyed outside, unless the weather sucks in which case an indoor activity can be substituted.
  • A maximum of 5 activities can be familiar (i.e. ones we have tried out before)
  • Activities must allow my child to participate directly
  • Activities must be safe and use non-toxic materials
  • Hubby (or another family member) can sub in if/when it becomes too difficult for me to participate directly (e.g. if our son's having a particularly rough day)

Now here's the thing - warmer weather invariably brings bbqs, festivals, parties and other events, so in practice I'm not sure we'll be able to complete the challenge perfectly. That would be awesome, though if we can get to 25+ I'll consider that a success. :) We'll be starting our challenge tomorrow so it'll end on June 25th. If you want to participate too, you can start at any time!

Like I did last time, I will share each day's activity on FB and Twitter (using the hashtag #opchallenge), and blog about our favourite activities when the challenge is over! Also, I will be continuously adding to my Outdoor Toddler Activities Pinterest board as we go along!

So who's going to embark on this challenge with me?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Baby Charlotte, Canada's Eco-Kid's Store: Review & Giveaway (Closed)

For this review, I'm happy to be partnering with a business that's near (literally) and dear to me. Baby Charlotte is a baby & children's shop located in Conestogo, Ontario which has both a brick and mortar store front and an online shopping option.

I love love {LOVE} this store for a couple reasons. First, their vast and continuously growing selection of high-quality, non-toxic and eco-friendly products. Here's a li'l photo tour to give you a glimpse!

Front room - clothes & shoes:

Back room - toys, crafts, feeding supplies, stuffies & more:

Bath & body care shelf:

It's hard to restrain myself in there, with brands I totally heart including Earth Mama Angel Baby, Green Toys and Clementine Art. It's even more challenging with the numerous discounts they offer; for example, last spring I nabbed my daughter a pair of sweet Pediped sandals at 40% off! 

Second reason - the awesomeness of the employees! Every time I've visited the store with one or both kiddos in tow, they've greeted me warmly, provided helpful information and even (on more than one occasion) hooked me up with a comfy, private nook and a bottle of water to nurse my little guy. Top-notch customer service for sure! They also believe in the little touches; for example, this year in honour of Mother's Day, they gave away samples of their in-house bath bombs. They had some left over when I was at the store the other day, so the owner gave me a couple in two different scents. My daughter certainly enjoyed her fizzy, aromatic tub experience last night, and brought a bomb to daycare today to do an "experiment" with her friends!

Alright, let's rewind a li'l bit. During a shopping trip back in April, I was checking out their sensory play products as my (then) 28-month-old daughter S was at an ideal age to enjoy them.

I was mulling over the numerous options when the store manager recommended an item called Bubber. It's basically a substance similar to playdough in that it's moldable, but it's super light-weight, free of toxins and doesn't dry out. She brought out a sample that the owner's daughter Charlotte (yes, the store's namesake!) had been playing with herself and I was instantly hooked; this was one of the neatest feeling substances I'd ever laid paws on! We got chatting about my blog and she offered me a 5 oz bucket of Bubber (I picked the "Petal Purple" colour) and a castle mold kit to try out!

Product Info - Bubber:

Bubber, the award-winning and lightest modeling compound on earth! This easy-to-use product feels great in your hands, and since it is so lightweight, you can mold just about anything. Bubber is a super-soft compound that leaves clean, sharp lines and takes amazing imprints.

Bubber is non-toxic, leaves no stain or residue and never dries out, so you can play with it over and over. It is great for developing fine motor skills! Bubber is available in six beautiful colors and comes in a handy bucket for easy storage. Bubber is great for sensory therapy. Bubber is also great for kids with allergies - it is wheat, gluten and casein free and 100% safe and non-toxic.

Creative molding media Made in Sweden, unique waterless ceramic and polymer compounds to stimulate sensory experiences. Winner of numerous major toy awards like Parents' Choice and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio.

Product Info - Waba Fun Castle Molds:

This is just the thing to build the perfect castle with! Whether you are using Bubber or MoonSand, you'll appreciate the clean lines and classic castle shapes this kit can produce.

My Review:

I wish there was some way to demonstrate the tactile experience of Bubber through a blog post but, alas, technology hasn't come this far just yet. :) So let me try to describe it. First of all, I want to reiterate the "super light" point; I'd estimate it's only about a quarter as heavy as playdough (per equal volume). It also floats in water, whereas playdough sinks. (My daughter and I confirmed this tonight!) The lightness throws you for a loop, as it looks dense and heavy. Don'tcha think?

The lines and surfaces it can create are, indeed, very smooth. My hubby molded some cones using one of the shapes from the kit and they felt pretty neat-o.


If you press a clump of Bubber against a smooth surface, the pressed side becomes totally silky. Very therapeutic to the touch! And if you squeeze it in your fist or within another rough "vessel", it makes a perfect imprint of the corresponding imperfections. Kinda like a 3D fingerprint!

My daughter gets totally immersed when she plays with her Bubber, and even those adults we've introduced it to can't help but muck around with it too!

Here's S playing alone....

...and sharing the fun with her Nana and Papa!

Nana kept herself busy making a bunch of little tiles using the kit's square shape press.

As it can be seen, a 5 oz tub contains enough Bubber for 3-4 people to play with at once.

The shape kit has certainly upped the creativity and fun factor of the Bubber! We haven't attempted a full castle with the kit yet, though. I find a few of its shapes are difficult to use "properly"; for example it's hard to get the Bubber out of the circular tower mold in one piece. (Perhaps this is easier with MoonSand, the other product the kit is recommended for?)

As for clean up, Bubber is both messier and tidier than playdough. Lemme explain. It's messier in that it's more prone to breaking into little, tiny pieces which can end up all over the place. However these pieces don't squish into surfaces; you can simply take a bigger piece of Bubber and dab it on the smaller pieces to collect them. So perhaps a better way to put it is that Bubber's easier to clean up than playdough, but a little more time consuming.

One suggestion from my hubby - he'd like to see Bubber available in multi-coloured packs like commercial playdough. It does currently come in a total of 5 colours, but each has to be purchased separately in a 5 oz tub. Therefore, obtaining all 5 colours would be a pricey affair, and you'd end up with enough to entertain a whole classroom.

Regarding health and safety, although the company claims the product is 100% safe and non-toxic, the Type A part of me wishes it would disclose its actual ingredients so I could verify this for myself. That said, I do trust Baby Charlotte in stocking safe products, so I didn't get too hung up on this.

All in all, Bubber's an awesome playdough alternative which can provide hours of fun for little and big people alike! I recommend it for older toddlers & preschoolers in particular, who (in most cases) are past the point of putting things into their mouths which shouldn't go there, but are young enough to be totally ingrossed in sensory play.

Buy It:

Visit Baby Charlotte's online store (or, if you're in the area, visit them in person!) to purchase Bubber and browse their amazing selection of other eco-friendly baby & children's products.

Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win $25 to spend at Baby Charlotte on whatever they wish! The credit can be redeemed online or at the store. (Note: shipping is not included.)

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Baby Charlotte.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample items free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A Feast for the Robins

Hubby extracted these bad boys while digging up our new garden the other week.

Not so great for the lawn, but our feathered friends certainly hit pay dirt!

CJ at 5 months: The Saga Continues...

Whew. Not gonna mince words here - it's been a rough month. In my last update, I mentioned how CJ hadn't really gained weight from months 3 to 4. Well, this not-so-awesome trend continued and shortly thereafter he'd dipped down to the 3rd percentile and our family doctor slapped him with "Failure to Thrive". What an ugly label. :( I prefer simply "failure to gain weight" (which some docs use) as, to me, FTT implies that a baby's not doing well in general. We don't feel this is the case with CJ, as aside from his weight gain issues (and some reflux) he has continued to be super-social, happy, energetic and developmentally on track. But evidently at a certain point, lack of weight gain can negatively affect other areas, which is why it should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible. As such, he has seen a lot of professionals over the last month - family doc (a few visits), pediatrician, naturopath, dietician and chiropractor (for a food sensitivity and internal malady assessment). I've had some appointments of my own as I haven't been feeling up-to-snuff myself. I may end up blogging in depth on some of this as we've had some interesting and enlightening experiences, but in the meantime I'll relay our current plan of action:
  • Dramatically increase my fat intake in order to fortify my milk
  • Avoid wheat, strawberries, d-drops and my previous multivitamin (chiro detected a sensitivity in CJ to these).
  • Rid CJ of the parasite he's evidently been carrying (again, discovered by the chiro); we've given him some homeopathics and will see if they were effective during our next visit.
  • Stress less and get more R&R (this is proving to be challenging!)
  • Try to get him to nap better/longer, for crying out loud. (Literally.) He needs this so his metabolism isn't going all day (and, well, he's a baby) and I need it to stay sane. We managed a few good 2 hr crib sleeps last week but seems he's back to cat napping and a pronounced aversion to the crib. It's ironic - the goal of all these appointments is to help him get on track, but all this hopping around has gotten in the way of figuring out a good schedule for him.
Alright, time to look at the lighter side of Month 5!

Official 5 Month Photo:

(Note: please disregard the unfortunate (in hindsight) choice of onesie!)

(Compare with months 1, 2, 3 and 4.)

Physical Development:  

Weight: 12 lb 11 oz (3rd percentile)
Height: 26 " (about 50th percentile)

The dietician said that as long as his height's staying on the curve, he has a chance to catch up weight-wise. But if the height starts dropping off this could affect him long term. So well keep working on that!

This month he figured out the front-to-back roll, so now he's got both directions in his arsenal. He has become a pro at tummy time too. Look at the strength he's mustering in those little arms!

S likes to do tummy time with him too. :)

We also busted out the Rainforest Jumperoo this month, and he doesn't mind it one bit!

In terms of fine motor control, his favourite new moves this month are the Nose Pinch and Iron Fist Hair Grab. Gotta love those! He's also beginning to hold on when we carry him around, which is sweet. <3 Speaking of carrying, I'm loving the kangaroo hold in our Maya Warp ring sling. It allows me to get some stuff done while he's with me (a necessity since his naps are still so spotty), and he's facing outward so he gets to check out all the action! (Side note - will be posting a R&G on the Maya Wrap shortly, so stay tuned!)

Cognitive, Social & Emotional Development:

CJ continues to be a "people baby", flashing that big, charming smile of his at anyone who looks his way! He's still enjoying book time, though I'd say he isn't quite as uber-fascinated as he was the previous month. Near the end of the month he started playing around with some new vocalizations - mainly a "dadadada" sound. It's adorable - will need to shoot a vid for the next update!


Yeah. I already touched on this above, so let's just say night sleep = good; day sleep = sketchy at best. Working on it. (Yawn - just writing about this is making me tired!!)

Let's end with some fun pics!

Here's C with his little friend R - a day younger but several pounds his "senior"!

"Princess CJ" - no so impressed with this situation!

Finally, a lovely pic with his Granda and Aunt B! <3

Wish us luck for smoother sailing during Month 6!!!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

OraMD "The Mouth Doctor": Review & Giveaway (Closed)

Over the last few years, we've made many changes in our home to avoid potentially dangerous chemicals. One of the substances we've recently axed is fluoride; long story short, research appears mixed regarding its safety and whether or not it's actually beneficial for dental health (especially for people who don't eat a lot of sugar and processed foods). We'd been using a natural, fluoride-free toothpaste for several months when I got the opportunity to review an alternative oral care product called OraMD (from Trusted Health Products). Consisting of 100% botanical oils, this single product is designed to replace toothpaste, mouth wash and breath fresheners all at once. I was certainly intrigued and eager to give it a whirl!

Product Information (abridged):

OraMD is the revolutionary, 100% pure and natural liquid toothpaste, mouthwash and breath freshener with ingredients that kill the 22 harmful bacteria that lead to gum disease and other oral health problems.
  • Pure Ingredients - 100% Natural Almond, Spearmint and Peppermint Oils
  • Ingredients help create a healthy environment in your mouth
  • Has interdental access, so it gets in between your teeth and those hard-to-clean areas
  • Leaves a fresh and clean feeling unlike anything you've ever experienced
  • Safe and effective for everyone ages 3 and up
  • Safe for braces, veneers, bonds, crowns, fillings and dentures
  • Also available in Extra Strength, a more advanced formula
  • Convenient to carry in your pocket or purse, and can be used anytime to keep your mouth fresh and clean
  • Manufactured in the USA by Trusted Health Products
  • Vegan
  • Not tested on animals
  • One bottle lasts a month using our 4 step process (2 drops per application)
  • Using the OraMD Oral Hygiene Program could prevent expensive oral care costs in the future

OraMD 5 Step Oral Hygiene Program

Step 1 – Brush twice a day in the morning and evening using 2-5 drops of OraMD on a toothbrush and brush normally. Do not swallow. 
Step 2 – Floss every evening before brushing – more frequently as needed. Get any food particles out from between teeth. 
Step 3 – Use OraMD as mouthwash twice a day: morning and evening. Just put 2-5 drops into an ounce of water, swish and gargle. This is important to kill the bacteria in the entire mouth including the back of tongue. 
Step 4 – Mid-morning, mid-afternoon and as needed: put 1-3 drops on the tip of the tongue to coat the gum line and teeth to kill bacteria and keep breath fresh. Care Instructions: Avoid Eye Contact, Do not swallow, Do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding. 
Step 5 – Follow the oral hygiene instructions provided by your dentist and hygienist, and have regular dental cleanings and checkups.

More information, including FAQs, can be found on the product's website.

My Review:

I was sent two bottles of regular-strength OraMD to review.

Now, I should probably start out by admitting that I goofed up. I'd gone ahead and merrily brushed using the product a few times when my husband asked, "Are you sure it's OK to use while you're nursing?" Good question, and answered right above in the product info - which I obviously didn't read thoroughly enough initially! (Apparently it's recommended against due to the potential of allergies, and further research of my own also suggested that peppermint and spearmint oils can reduce milk production, which, of course, I want to avoid as well.) That said, the bright side of my blunder is that it allowed me to share a few immediate thoughts on the product:
  • Whew, this stuff is potent! It has a strong, somewhat medicinal taste and creates a tingling (borderline burning) sensation in the mouth. But I don't mind this as I feel it's an indication that the product's doing what it's supposed to - obliterating bacteria. That said, I do feel it's too harsh for a young child (even though the product info states OK for 3+ years), when used as recommended. Perhaps it could be diluted in water to lessen the potency in this case.
  • On a related note, I was amazed by how fresh my breath felt after brushing! The first time I tried it, I was so blown away that I scampered out of the bathroom and inundated my hubby's face with a long exhale in order to solicit his agreement. (He complied. :) 
  • I think it may also help clear sinuses! I was pretty gobbed up with some sort of respiratory bug when I first tried it, and had quite the productive "nasal expulsion" shortly thereafter.
  • Even after just a few uses, my gums struck me as slightly pinker and healthier.
  • The liquid format of OraMD makes it easy to tell which teeth are clean and which still need brushing. Definitely a benefit over traditional pastes which obscure this. The format is also less messy (no more toothpaste smears on the counter!) and eliminates the need to wrestle with the remains of a 98% empty tube. However, getting the desired number of drops on the small surface of a toothbrush can be a bit tricky; you need to hold the bottle straight upside down or the drops can drip off to the side.

I got my husband to try it too, and he agreed to use it longer term which'll allow me to update this review in several weeks to comment on how it's going for him. So far, he primarily agrees with my own early experiences above, and also noted the following:
  • With "regular" toothpaste, drinking juice immediately afterwards tastes disgusting. Not with OraMD!
  • Regarding the application issue, a dropper applicator would probably make things easier. (Good thinking, Hubs!)

Overall, I really wish I could continue using the product at this point myself. It was disheartening having to go back to my previous paste and note how less clean and fresh my mouth felt compared to OraMD. I really do feel this product does a stellar job at eliminating bacteria, which is the primary culprit of many/most oral hygiene problems.

The above said, one thing I thought it was important to investigate further was how appropriate the product is for long-term use. A few concerns were cited in prior reviews regarding its potency - that it can "melt toothbrushes" and potentially obscure absesses. This, in conjunction with the fact that the tingling sensation reduces each time you use the product, led me to wonder if the combination of strong botanicals could possibly deaden nerves in the mouth. I asked my PR contact about this and he said he doesn't believe there is any validity to the obscured absess claims, and that the reduction in tingling is due to the lessening of bacteria to act on each time. I also found a few very positive Amazon reviews from people who claim to have been using the product for several (plus) years. Third, during my dental cleaning the other day I asked my hygienist for her thoughts. She, herself, is a supporter of fluoride usage as she has seen an increased incidence of cavities in her fluoride-free patients, however she also admitted that, on the flipside, these folks tend to have very healthy gums. Regarding OraMD's specific ingredients, she didn't see them causing any harm to dental health, though she did note that the lack of an abrasive agent means you'd need something else (like baking soda) to combat staining/discoloration. (This is noted right on the OraMD FAQ.)  Finally, Google turned up quite a few DIY "recipes" for toothpaste and mouthwash containing similar ingredients which was nice to see as well.

On the DIY topic, some reviewers have argued that OraMD is pricey compared to home-made variants. However as the cost comparison chart above suggests, it's still a more affordable option than various "traditional" approaches to oral care. I do feel that the cost estimates for the other approaches are somewhat inflated, but I also think a bottle of OraMD would last longer than a month for people starting out with decent oral health. I'd use it myself primarily for brushing with occasional supplementation as a mouth wash and/or breath freshener, and I also feel that 2 drops per brushing session is plenty. Given one bottle contains approximately 400 drops, I estimate it would last me 2-3+ months. That's about $5-7/month which is certainly reasonable. Finally, as frugal as I am, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable going the DIY route with something as "intimate" as oral hygiene. That said, it's certainly interesting reading all the recipes and this has opened my eyes to the plethora of safe, natural alternatives there are for maintaining one's pearly whites.

Like I mentioned to earlier, Chris will continue using OraMD regularly. In the meantime, the product gets our enthusiastic thumbs up from a short-term usage perspective. It's natural, effective, affordable, convenient and, well, we actually kind of dig the "burn". :)

One final side comment I thought I'd note is that the product's web presentation is quite...jumbled. First of all, there are a few different OraMD websites (, and with slightly different information on each, so it's not clear which is the best to reference. Second, the info and layout on each has an infomercial-esque feel - lots of strong claims and flashy "Buy Now!" buttons. If I hadn't been corresponding with a PR rep who is obviously knowledgeable and passionate about the product, nor tried and researched the product myself, I'd be quite skeptical that this could be the Real Deal. So I'd definitely recommend a consolidation and makeover in this area.

Buy It:

OraMD can be purchased online from Trusted Health Products. The company offers same-day shipping worldwide and touts a one-year, 100% money back guarantee.

Manufacturer's Note: The manufacturer is willing to offer my readers one FREE bottle. They said they would love to have our readers try out OraMD and agreed to send one bottle FREE if our readers would pay a minimal shipping and handling charge.  They also agreed to include 2 eye-opening reports called 1) "The 6 Hidden Dangers In Toothpaste" and 2) "Why The FDA Requires A Warning Label On Your Toothpaste."  That’s a total value of over $40.00.  Click here to get your FREE bottle and FREE reports now.

Win It:

Three lucky Manager to Mom readers will each win a bottle of regular strength OraMD of their own! Open to CAN/US.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Trusted Health Products.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample items free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sautéed Red Swiss Chard with Lemon & Coriander {Recipe}

We get an organic produce basket delivered each week, and its contents are always unique (based on availability, season, etc.) giving us ample opportunity to try new dishes & methods of preparation. A recent box contained red swiss chard, a vibrant leafy green with bright crimson stalks.

According to, it ranks second only to spinach in terms of nutrient-richness and is a unique source of a family of phytonutrients called betalains which have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. So yup, it's healthy stuff!

In a throw-together meal, my husband whipped up a super-simple side using the chard which ended up being surprisingly delicious, so I knew I had to blog it. This week we received red chard in our basket once again, so I picked hubby's brain to make sure I had the details right, and got to work!

Tangy, aromatic and flavourful, this dish would match well with Mediterranean fare such as broiled white fish and roasted potatoes.

Sautéed Red Swiss Chard with Lemon & Coriander

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Yield: 3-4 servings

  • 1 bunch red swiss chard (about 7-8 stalks)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed


Remove the stems from the swiss chard and rough chop the leaves.

Chop the onion into thin slices.

On medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until cooked and beginning to brown, about 5-6 minutes. (Note - I used a dutch oven but a sauté pan or skillet would work fine as well.) Add the chard, lemon juice and coriander, and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Continue to sauté, stirring frequently, until the chard is wilted and tender - about another 5-6 minutes.

Remove from heat, serve and enjoy!

Do you enjoy eating swiss chard, or red swiss chard? What are your favourite recipes using leafy greens?

Wordless Wednesday: My Whimsical Husband

Before I shower, I always set my clothes out on the bed. The other day I emerged from the bathroom and found this:

And the preggo belly? Why, it's Froggie, of course!

Reason #3014 why I love my hubby! <3

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Squishy Snak Pak Reusable Snack Pouch: Review & Giveaway (Closed)

Spouted pouch snacks are all the rage these days, with their "no mess" factor, convenient size and oodles of available flavour combos. Parents are snapping 'em up like hotcakes, kiddos love 'em and new brands continue to jump on board with their own offerings. The downside is they can be quite pricey (especially organic variants) and their disposable nature results in significant waste. What if there was a way to enjoy the benefits of this snack format without breaking the bank nor adding to our landfills? Well I'm happy to let you know there is, thanks to a mompreneur named Michelle Zacharias and her her nifty and whimsically-named Squishy Snak Pak!

Product Info:
  • Snack container you can fill it from the bottom, squish it out the top
  • Our product is made from BPA-free materials and features a choke proof cap along with a heavy duty zip closure. Fill it up with any creation your little one loves.
  • Wash it and reuse it over and over again
  • The clear window on the back allows you to see the contents
  • Holds 1/2 cup of your creations
  • Ideal for use on the go
  • Fun for at home snacks
  • Great freezer storage for portioned baby purees

My Review:

Michelle sent me a 2-pack of Squishy Snak Paks to review. All packs currently come in the same bright & colourful, gender-neutral design.

Right away I noted how thin and light-weight the packs are. I'd guess a similar amount of material goes into the creation of a Squishy Snak Pak as a disposable variant, but these, of course, can be reused! The lids are, indeed, pretty large and would be difficult to choke on, however they don't pass the "toilet paper tube test" so technically there'd still be a small risk. As such, they should be kept away from young'uns inclined to put things in their mouths.

To get started, you first need to cut/tear off the excess material at the bottom below the zip closure. This wasn't specified anywhere directly but it was pretty obvious from the pack's construction. (See above photo - note the little holes on each one near the bottom.)

I got to work quickly making a pureed apple, carrot and cinnamon blend for my 2 1/2 year old daughter S.

Next, I rinsed and filled one of the two packs. I used a large spoon which was pretty easy & effective, though a little did get on the outside which I rinsed off afterwards. Pouring directly into the pack or using a funnel would probably work for a thinner puree.

There's a fill line on the pack, but I wasn't able to add puree all the way up to this line as it would start squishing out when I closed the zip. I think the issue with a fill line on a container like this is that the capacity is variable depending on how wide you open the mouth. So I found it easiest just to eyeball it.

The zip mechanism secures easily and results in a strong and leak-proof closure which would be difficult for little hands to rip apart. The window at the back is useful as it allows storing a few kinds at once and knowing which one you're taking out each time without having to unscrew the caps. It also helps show how much is left when a snack is in progress.

The spout is a perfect size for dishing out the pack's contents.

I tried out the first pack myself (delish!!) and then filled up the other one and gave it to my daughter. She's had pouch snacks before so knew exactly what to do with it!

Here's a video of her first Squishy Snak Pak experience. As you can see, she was pretty self-sufficient though I did remove the lid myself and helped her squish the last few mouthfuls of puree from the bottom.

The next time I handed her a pack, she got a little too excited and gave it a good squish before bringing it to her mouth. Needless to say, this was a bit messy! So it's a good idea to remind younger ones in which order operations should occur. :)

In terms of clean-up, these puppies are easy peasy. If you wash them immediately after usage, a simple rinse gets the job done. If a used pack sits for awhile, I just soak for a few minutes in soapy water to loosen the grime and then wipe and rinse. Michelle confirmed that the packs are dishwasher-safe; I haven't washed them this way yet but will do so periodically to give 'em a really deep clean.

Longevity-wise, Michelle mentioned she's used and washed her own packs over 100 times and they're still going strong. They're made of a nylon/poly blend free of BPA and other toxic materials, so she has no concerns of them leaching over time.

Finally, a peek into cost savings vs. pre-made/disposable pouch snacks. The puree I made from two apples and 4 carrots (all organic) cost just under $3.00 and made six full packs. This is about half the cost of pre-made. If I went with non-organic, I probably could have made the same amount for $1.50 or less. Of course, there's the time factor of making purees, filling the packs and clean-up. As such, when time is short a pack could be filled with store-bought foods such as yogurt or jarred applesauce and this would still result in significant savings.

As for areas of improvement, the main one I can think of is that the packs don't stand up on their own like many disposable versions do. Not an issue for our little monkey since she gulps each one down without taking a breath, but I can see this as a desirable feature for slower eaters. Second, from an aesthetic standpoint it would be nice to see a variety of styles in the future. In terms of the website, an FAQ section (or more comprehensive product info page) would be helpful clarifying details on the packs such as whether they're dishwasher safe, specific materials they're made out of, etc.

Overall, I'm a big fan of the Squishy Snak Pak; it functions very similar to pre-made snack pouches but at a lower cost and without all that waste. Plus, there are practically unlimited options for healthy & tasty "squishables" to put inside! You just need a few extra minutes here and there and a dash of creativity. As for our daughter? She's hooked! Whenever we tell her she's getting a Squishy Snak Pak for dessert, her face lights up and she giggles excitedly. Definitely 10/10 on the "fun to eat" scale!

Buy It:

Squishy Snak Paks can be ordered directly from the website or via numerous online and "brick and mortar" shops. A store locator tool is currently under development.

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Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Squishy Snak Pak.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample items free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.