"The Goods" is a series of product reviews by United Parenting Publications.
Our family bought a new minivan last year, and we now have a rule: No eating in the car. But with three children and frequent long car trips, we've broken the rule here and there. It helps when you've got handy items to keep food off the seats-like a cooler that straps right into the seat belt and has compartments to hold fries, burgers and drinks. So that's what we're spotlighting this month-products to make your life easier while you're out and about. Happy traveling!
Enjoy a stylish and elegant picnic fit for a king with award-winning coolers and unique backpacks from Picnic at Ascot. Ideal for families is the Deluxe Cooler on Wheels, a rugged soft-sided cooler with a retractable handle and a detachable carrier equipped with place settings for four people. Special touches include antique brass buckles, snaps and zipper pulls, and leatherette trim. It's elegant, yet functional. Other features are an extra-large fully insulated food compartment, sturdy wheels and heavy-duty canvas construction. Melamine plates, acrylic wine glasses, stainless-steel knives, forks and spoons, a corkscrew/bottle opener, a cutting board, a cheese knife, salt and pepper shakers and napkins complete this tasteful cooler. $142 to $152.75. Or carry your feast on your back, with sturdy backpacks that have an insulated food compartment and place settings for two or four. Backpacks start at $88. 877-742-6429 or www.picnicatascot.com.
For families on the go, the Coleman Car Cooler is a backseat companion. Designed to ride in the seat in its own seat-belt system, the soft-sided cooler remains anchored in place while keeping food and drinks handy. With twin cup-holders, fold-down serving trays and pouches to hold french-fry boxes and other food items, the cooler keeps eating on the run from becoming a juggling act. The main compartment holds 18 12-oz. cans (plus ice) and can be accessed through a twin zipper opening on top. Other features include a removable shoulder strap, thick foam insulation and a heat-sealed liner. $24.99. Available in sporting good stores and department stores. www.coleman.com.
Whether on foot or by car, make your outing a comfortable one with cushy products by Kiddopotamus. The following products are designed for use in carseats, joggers, strollers, backpacks, baby swings and bike trailers. The Snuzzler Fleece Infant Insert, made of padded, washable fleece, provides extra comfort and support to little bodies while they're traveling. Filling in extra space as it cradles your baby, the Snuzzler Fleece wraps her in comfort. An adjustable, detachable head support keeps the baby's head upright and can be used later as a pillow for toddlers. $20.
Avoid messy diaper leaks and accidents with the super compact Piddle Paddle, a waterproof seat protector. An interior vinyl layer provides a 100-percent waterproof barrier, while a soft, absorbent outer layer wicks moisture away from your child's skin. For newborns and toddlers. $6.
If it were bigger, you would probably want to snuggle in the StrollSoft Liner, a Sherpa fleece that adds plush comfort for your baby. This item reverses from off-white to navy, and has harness slits at two heights to adjust to individual seats. Machine washable. $15. 800-772-8339 or www.kiddopotamus.com.
Bare feet for babies are best. But sometimes footwear is needed. Bobux USA makes all-leather, soft-soled infant and toddler footwear that are more like slippers than shoes-in lots of styles and sizes. A unique elastic ankle design allows the shoes to slip on easily, eliminating laces, buckles and other strapping methods. The soft, non-skid suede sole is ideal for crawling or walking. $25 (includes shipping and handling). 800-315-3039 or www.bobuxusa.com.