Monday, June 23, 2008

Dad tip #65: Amazon Gold Box is chock full of treasures

Atop the hustle and bustle of every page on Amazon.com is a mysterious link labeled "Today's Deals" with an icon of a locked treasure chest next to it. You may have clicked on it before and found a "Deal of the Day" and "Lightning Deals" on a page titled "Amazon.com Gold Box: New Deals. Every Day."

You probably looked at the "Deal of the Day" and found a really great deal on set of cutlery or an electric shaver or the complete DVD collection of some random television series. And you probably looked at whatever limited-time "Lightning Deal" that was available at that time and found yourself more curious about the deals that had expired or the deals yet to come. Then you may have scrolled impatiently through a section of "Best Deals" that, for some reason, always look essentially the same.

But did you ever scroll even further down the page and really take a look at what else was there? If you haven't, then you missed the "<insert your name>'s Quick Picks." If you're an avid Amazon browser and nothing else on the page caught your attention, the personalized Quick Picks is where you'll be in heaven. While I don't know the black-box algorithm behind what gets displayed there, I do know that it's all related to other stuff you've looked at.

For example, I've recently seen Nintendo Wii video games, Xbox 360 accessories, some manga, Star Wars books, stainless steel canteens, and baby products ... lots and lots of baby products. In fact, for about as long as I've been paying attention, children's books have dominated my Quick Picks. Of course, Amazon does a great job at recommendations. Most of the books are by authors that we like in particular like Margaret Wise Brown and Sandra Boynton.

The best part (for you and Amazon) is that many of the items listed in your Quick Picks are probably things you would've eventually purchased at some point in the future anyway. While Amazon gets a more immediate sale, YOU get an extra markdown on the price (I think it's usually about 5% off of whatever the current prices is). It's a win-win-win situation. Amazon wins, you win, and in this scenario, your baby wins, too.

The only thing that would make it an even better deal is free shipping and if you were an Amazon Prime member, you'd get that too.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dad tip #18: But yes the Kiddopotamus (SwaddleMe)!

Another quick hit for tonight's post, this time on the topic of sleep deprivation. Or perhaps more accurately, the battle AGAINST sleep deprivation.

When our son was about three months old we were hovering precariously around four hours of sleep a night. There were some good nights, some bad nights, and the constant waking up made the light at the end of the tunnel seem very very dim and very very far away. We tried having him sleep in the papasan, the bassinet, the crib, upstairs, downstairs, facing north, facing south ... you name it, we probably tried it. But something obvious that we'd dismissed because weeks before it seemed like something our son no longer liked, was swaddling.

More specifically, we broke out a Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe. Sure you can go lo-fi with an old school swaddling blanket, but if your kid turns our to be some kind of Houdini, you want what's essentially the equivalent of a baby straight-jacket. Keep in mind that if your child is a master escape-artist like ours is, even the velcro-powered SwaddleMe won't be enough to contain him all the time.

And certainly, swaddling isn't the answer for every baby, but let me tell you, after swaddling our son again, he's been sleeping 8-10 hours a night on average straight through. So, I'd feel remiss if I didn't throw this product recommendation out there.

Oh yeah, if you don't get the title of this post, check out Sandra Boynton's But Not the Hippopotamus. Fo' shizzle, I love that book!

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