Best Mall to Visit When You're Eight Months Pregnant

FlatIron Crossing

Women heavy with child or parents wrestling with strollers aren't handicapped in the traditional sense, but neither is it very easy for them to shlep a mile or two before reaching a store. Recognizing that, FlatIron Crossing has designated two spaces near handicapped spots at every major entrance to the shopping center for "new and expectant parent parking." Talk about a special delivery.


You may recall Snuglis, those front-slung baby carriers created in the 1970s by Mike and Ann Moore of Evergreen, who modeled them after an idea they picked up in the Peace Corps in Africa. After their grandkids came along, the Moores saw a need for new, improved Snuglis. The new carriers can hold children in many positions and -- bonus! -- can be adjusted to fit children as they grow. Also, Weego now manufactures Weego for Preemies, currently the only baby carrier around for premature babies. Here Weego!
Many people shy away from using cloth diapers for fear of leaks, accidents and irritated, wet babies. But Rhonda and Gary Wiebe, owners and founders of Wee Bees, assert that having a dry baby in cloth diapers is entirely possible. Although their Web site offers a wide variety of baby products, they specialize in anything having to do with diapering. Their pitch: Cloth diapers are better for the environment and your pocketbook.


In the best of all worlds, babyhood should be like a little slice of heaven. This downtown Littleton shop -- heavenly itself with its faux-cloud murals as a backdrop -- is the place to furnish the right nursery for the job. Among its treasures: Heirloom-quality, hand-painted, child-sized furniture, cuddly pastel chenille toys and pillows, hand-knit veggie sweater-hat combos, fancy rattles and bath soaps, teddy bears, rocking horses and sets of matching crib bedding. Next stop, paradise: On-site custom nursery design services are now available, making it possible to create an Elysian environment for baby from the floorboards up. Rock on.


Though the Sakura Square supermarket has long wowed LoDo dwellers with its array of exotic miso pastes, fresh fish and Asian spices, Pacific Mercantile also has plenty to please the little doll in your life. Japanese toys and candy, as well as beautiful pint-sized silk kimonos and slippers, are available in the housewares portion of the store (where you can also find good deals on grown-up stuff like sake sets or sushi plates). Pacific Mercantile is an international sensation.
One thing Montessori-trained proprietress Emelia Metzger knows for certain is babies. And one thing she learned during her former career in early-childhood care and instruction is that our everyday retail world is pathetically lacking in good old-fashioned, quality educational toys in natural materials. So this new cubbyhole on South Broadway, as wet behind the ears as the clientele it's meant to serve, was designed to rectify the situation, one baby step at a time. Metzger's growing inventory at Red Carpet Baby! includes sturdy three-dimensional wooden puzzles and other hard-to-find imported wooden toys, tiny silverware and bake sets and imaginative graphic mobiles for over the crib, as well as such boutique items as bath soaps for tender skin, cloud-soft fringed fleece blankets and simple, toddler-scaled furniture. In time, she also hopes to roll out the red carpet for neighborhood play groups conducive to parental networking. What a way to grow.


Before you have children, sleep deprivation is something you try to make up for on the weekends. Once you have a baby, you realize that they don't know about weekends, and you suddenly find yourself running about a quart low on essential z's. Will it ever end? Dr. Barton Schmitt, a professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital, has been teaching parents how to help their children sleep through the night for more than 25 years, and he insists that 99 percent of children can be good sleepers. Dr. Schmitt has written a series of handouts on the topic and shares his expertise in free seminars offered through the hospital.


Although time is an illusion, the best way we've found to keep track of it is the Travel Zen Alarm Clock from Boulder-based Now & Zen. "The ultimate lifestyle clock" is a yoga and meditation countdown timer, progressive chiming alarm clock, travel clock and musical instrument all in one. The long-resonating Tibetan bell-like acoustic chime also gently awakens you to the moment with a gradually increasing chime, wherever or however you use it. Weighing just under a pound and costing just under $100, the Travel Zen Alarm Clock goes anywhere and comes with a 32-page booklet describing its many uses and harmonic design. Available on the Web at www.now-zen.com and in retail stores nationwide.

Best Place to Reconnect With the Past -- and Your Childhood

Blinky's Antiques and Collectibles

Blinky's Fun Club, the long-running children's variety program that once found a home on Channel 2, has been off the air since 1998. But the show's star, Blinky the Clown (aka Russ Scott), hasn't been pulled out of syndication. Six days a week, Scott can be found in the very cramped environs of Blinky's Antiques and Collectibles, the itty-bitty shopette he owns and operates on South Broadway. Along with a claustrophobia-inducing assortment of vintage instruments, sporting goods, jewelry, watches, dolls and figurines, photos of Scott in clown mode are also on display, reminding us of the Blinky we used to know and love. Fortunately, there's plenty to embrace about Scott's current endeavor. Just don't expect him to sing "Happy Birf-day" to you. For a clown, he can be rather cranky.


Parents, you know how it is with kids and toys: The contraptions your tykes beg you for unmercifully for weeks on end usually land under the bed, oh, about two minutes after they finally get them. But there is a remedy: Rather than selling your soul to Toys R Us in order to keep up with juvenile whims, come to the toy library, which features over 400 toys and games for kids up to age eight. Believe it or not, this volunteer-run basement adjunct of the Smiley Library has been around for twenty years, dispensing toys you can check out, three at a time, using your regular library card. Toy library hours are 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays and Saturdays (the Thursday hours coincide with the library's weekly story time), but call ahead before coming. And don't forget to dig your borrowed treasures out from under the sofa cushions and return them on time, or they'll rack up ten-cent-a-day late fees, just like library books.


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