clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Holiday Gift Guide: Tech Relief for Parents of Young Children

What to get the parent who has everything except eight arms.

This is one segment of Re/code’s four-part 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, consisting of products and services hand-picked by our reviews team. Each segment is aimed at a different type of gift recipient you may have on your list.

Parents — especially new parents — rarely buy things for themselves, since their energy and wallets are focused on their little ones. This guide is a compilation of gift ideas for them — with their children in mind. Some gifts even do double-duty and appeal to both. After all, parents are master multitaskers.

Please and Carrots, prices range from $120 (one standalone box) to $420 (four boxes throughout the year); ages 0-3

When parents hear the phrase “time-saving,” they’ll pause in mid-kid-nose-wipe to listen up. Please and Carrots is a subscription gift service that could save a trip to the toy store while simultaneously making parents feel good about the things in their kids’ toy baskets. But it’s not exactly a bargain.

The service sends a large box filled with four or five education-focused toys and books. These are custom-selected for the child’s age group by an expert panel made up of psychologists and developmental education specialists.

Included printouts explain each toy’s focus, like a rolling zebra that helps with gross- and fine-motor skills. And each box comes with access to a section of the website, where parents can ask for professional advice about topics like sleep schedules and socializing.

Dreampad (adults) and Dreampad Mini (adults and children ages 8 and under); $159 each

Integrated Listening Systems

Parents hear a lot of advice about how they can get their kids to sleep. But when it’s time for Mom or Dad to rest, snoring spouses or stressful thoughts may make sleep seem impossible.

Integrated Listening Systems offers two products that may help: Dreampad is a pillow, and Dreampad Mini is a pillow insert. Both play ambient music using bone-conduction technology — sound delivered through skull vibrations. No one else hears the music, and you don’t need to wear headphones to hear it. Read my full review, written after a week of use, here.

The Dreampad Mini has been proven to help children cope with autism and attention-deficit disorder. In fact, the company was launched by a doctor trained in auditory therapy.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, $499; parents and kids

If you and your kids expect more from a tablet than just, you know, being a tablet, Lenovo might have a solution. The company’s new Yoga Tablet 2 Pro runs Android’s KitKat operating system, and has two smart hardware features.


First, its built-in stand doubles as a hook, giving this 13.3-inch Android tablet an easy way to hang on the back of a car headrest. In other words, this is one more way that kids can watch Disney’s “Frozen” again and again. And again.

Second, this Yoga Tablet has a projector built into its hinge. It’s capable of casting an image on the wall that can measure up to 50 inches, giving kids a big, portable display for watching videos or photos. The quality won’t be as good as your TV, but the kids probably won’t mind.

LeapTV, $149.99; kids ages 3-8


If your child is itching to play videogames but you’re not interested in the high price, questionable content and Internet access he or she might find using Xbox and PlayStation, LeapFrog’s LeapTV could be a fun compromise.

This small console comes with a motion-sensing camera, which lets kids play using motions like jumping and moving their arms and legs. It also includes a controller that transforms from a traditional two-hand type to a lightsaber-like pointer, which is easier for small hands to hold.

In keeping with LeapFrog’s educator-approved content, the games teach core skills in reading, math, science and problem-solving. Each game adapts to a child’s level, starting with age, then automatically adjusts to best fit his or her abilities.

Moto Hint, $150; parents

Busy parents often wish they had octopus arms to get everything done while holding or feeding the baby. A Bluetooth earbud like the Moto Hint from Motorola Mobility (full review here) fits inside the ear and is barely noticeable. With this, you can avoid being the parent who walks into daycare wearing a geeky, blinking hands-free headset.

Motorola Mobility

It also has six stylish finishes, including bamboo and brown leather. And it comes with a charging case that fits on a keychain. Using this, multitasking parents can keep track of this tiny gadget while also recharging it: The case holds enough of a charge to completely refuel the earbud twice.

The Hint works with Apple and Android devices, including their voice assistants, like Siri and Google Now. This lets you leave your phone in your pocket and say “Call the pediatrician” while taking your kid’s temperature. Not bad for a mom or dad with just two arms.

Give the gift of photo-backup instructions; parents

Sure, it’s usually kids who give out homemade gift certificates that make promises like “Good for one breakfast in bed.” But anyone can score major points with parents by teaching them how to back up their valuable smartphone photos. As a bonus, write them a check for the monthly cost of extra storage.


Apple just enabled its iCloud Photo Library, which can be turned on with the flick of a switch on any device running the company’s latest software, iOS 8 (full instructions here). Installing the free Google+ app on iOS or Android will back up all photos while automatically improving them with an editing tool called Auto Awesome (details here). And Amazon Prime members can now use free, unlimited photo backup by installing an app on iOS or Android.

Apple and Google offer five gigabytes and 15GB of free storage, respectively. If you need more than that, monthly fees for extra storage start at $0.99 a month for 20GB on iCloud, and $1.99 a month for 100GB on Google.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.